Game: Magical Whip: Wizards of the Phantasmal Forest
Genre: Single-Screen Platformer
Release date: 2011
It isn't often that fans of single-screen platformers are presented with a current-gen game that can be considered an honest-to-goodness "Bubble Bobble clone"--especially one that costs just $1.99. As such, one of the first things I purchased from Nintendo's eShop after I obtained a 3DS was Agetec's Magical Whip: Wizards of the Phantasmal Forest (which, it should be noted, is a DSiWare, rather than a 3DSWare, title).
So, does this, er, dual-screened platformer (the action takes place over both of the DSi's and/or 3DS' screens, after all) bring anything new to the genre made famous by Taito's classic quarter-muncher, or does it basically just trade on nostalgia? I'd say the answer's a little of both, if that makes sense.
What I mean is that, yes, Magical Whip is, initially at least, aimed at those of us who have enjoyed games like Bubble Bobble, Don Doko Don, Rod Land and Snow Bros. It quickly becomes apparent, though, that the team that made this digital title wanted to do more than just copy those aforementioned trailblazers.
That's especially obvious after you first discover Magical Whip's combo system, which pushes players to master the game's juggling mechanic--use your character's wand/whip to grab an enemy and toss it at another, which will then launch into the air so it can be captured and then launched at another enemy--and then rewards them by boosting the power of their attacks. (According to the folks at Agetec, if you string together enough attacks you can wipe out one of the game's bosses with a single strike--although I've yet to do this myself.)
Magical Whip's juggling mechanic and combo system aren't the only thing that help separate it from the pack. Also noteworthy: The fact that the action takes place over both of the DSi's and 3DS' screens. Admittedly, it doesn't significantly change the gameplay, but it alters it just enough to make things interesting.
As for this title's negative aspects (you just knew they were coming, right?), the main one, in my mind, is the repetitive backdrops. I know the game's subtitle is "Wizards of the Phantasmal Forest" and, as such, most if not all of its levels should take place in wooded areas, but couldn't the designers have changed the look of the trees every five or 10 stages?
Also rather disappointing is the game's limited number of enemy designs. If Magical Whip were a retail release, I'd complain that it includes 50 measly levels, but since it's a two-dollar digital one I'll forgive that particular transgression.
The "two dollar" part of that last sentence is perhaps the most telling part of this review, by the way. Basically, if you consider yourself a fan of Bubble Bobble and its ilk, there's really no reason to pass up Magical Whip if you own a DSi or 3DS given its minuscule price tag, as its few miscues are easily overlooked when you consider just how few pennies you have to hand over to buy it.
See also: Previous 'somewhat gay' reviews