Feel the Magic: XY/XX (DS) review
"The thing is, you're just rubbing the screen with your stylus to push up said fish. Do well enough and you're onto the next area. A few mini-games later, you're back to rubbing the screen with your stylus. Presentation has changed, but your encouraged activity has not. Whether you're moving tacks to the side or pushing goldfish out of a man's throat or even digging through sand to find a purse's lost content, it does get old."
Sometimes, it can be difficult to catch a woman's attention. But if you're willing to undress her between stoking a fire, or if you're not afraid to dig her goodies out of the sand, you can overcome any obstacle. Love can prevail. This is the presumable message behind Feel the Magic, a DS launch title from the good folks at Sega. Or if that's not the message, perhaps the point of the game is instead this: some games don't have a point.
For the most part, the only reason Feel the Magic wound up in my collection is that I heard a lot of people saying how innovative and refreshing the game is. And despite giving it a low-ish score, I can't help but agree. If this is any indication of what the DS can do, gamers are in for some good times (provided enough of us adopt the quirky handheld). Never before have I found a game where I'm actually encouraged to shout at the unit one minute, then blow on it the next. It's just amazing how many ways there are to interact with the game. Even after you're used to the system's stylus, you'll find new ways to approach Feel the Magic's gameplay.
However, not all is well. As I said, there are some definite changes to how you approach the mini-games here, but ultimately there's not a lot of depth. Take the first stage as an example, which feels incredibly similar to Nintendo's own Wario Ware titles. Someone has swallowed some goldfish, and you must prod them up out of his stomach and up his throat before they reach the digestive track. Simple art surrounds the scene, as is the norm for this 'less is more' title, and it's nice and quirky. The thing is, you're just rubbing the screen with your stylus to push up said fish. Do well enough and you're onto the next area. A few mini-games later, you're back to rubbing the screen with your stylus. Presentation has changed, but your encouraged activity has not. Whether you're moving tacks to the side or pushing goldfish out of a man's throat or even digging through sand to find a purse's lost content, it does get old.
Still, it's hard to deny that the game has style. For one thing, the story here is more than I expected. You'll be introduced to a young man who is part of an improv group. He has his eye on a girl, and she's intrigued enough in his show that he decides maybe he can win her affections. And so you work to guide him as he makes his attempts. Just when success strikes, though, things go awry. And so on, and so forth. If you've ever seen those ads for portable music units, where the silhouettes dance around against brightly-colored backgrounds, you already know what to expect here. Somehow it looks good and almost makes the silly story compelling, but you'll never have a moment where you find yourself gazing in stunned silence at the lush visuals.
As far as sound goes, the game doesn't fare any better. In fact, I rather abruptly found myself reaching for the volume dial on the DS. It's not that what's here is bad, really; rather, it's just the fact that there isn't enough. The girl's shrieks for help are hardly endearing the first time you hear them, and they only grate on the nerves from that point: “Help! Help! Help!” More satisfying are her near-sexual gasps when you're working on her water-drenched top, but it's a sign the audio is broken when even a horny guy like me tires of such diversions so quickly.
But if I feel so badly about the sound and the graphics, and to a certain extent the gameplay, why didn't I award the game an even lower score? Well, it's because Feel the Magic is still a fresh experience, even if it isn't the most fun you'll ever have. In short spurts, it's downright delightful. And speaking of 'short,' the game itself is also not going to stretch on for all that long. Before you know it, things are winding down and you realize only a few short hours have passed. Then the 'Story' mode is over, and all you can do is replay the mini-games with added quirks. Not particularly exciting if you're already tired of them in the first place, but it’s a good way to show it off to any intrigued friends who wonder why you were shouting at your DS just a bit ago.
To further improve your purchase, Sega has also added some unlockable content. You can dress up the female protagonist by completing optional mini-games, then zoom in to have a closer look at her silhouette in the new outfit. Perhaps this would have entertained back when the Nintendo 64 launched, but years later it's not really worth a second glance. More impressive from a ‘geek’ perspective is the ability to record a brief snippet of audio and then play it back through the system at various speeds. Very cool tech demo. Which, honestly, is something some may say about the whole game. Still, don't make the mistake of overlooking it. While I can't give it a purchase recommendation, you may consider suckering a gullible friend into picking up a copy, or you might try a rental. Either way, give Feel the Magic a shot. Magic, no. Worth some of your time? Definitely.
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Staff review by Jason Venter (November 21, 2004)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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