Rating

B-

Specific Ratings

GameplayA-
GraphicsB-
Learning CurveA
Replay ValueC+
SoundC

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Vivid, living levels
  • Havok physics create a visual feast
  • Innovative power ups
Cons
  • Repetitive
  • Structures often block line of sight
  • Terrible multiplayer

Magic Orbz (PlayStation 3)

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Summary

Magic Ball is perhaps a perfectly envisioned Breakout

Images


Description

To start off positive, Magic Ball is perhaps the most enjoyable Breakout clone ever made. Ever. It sprouts forth new life where we all thought there was none and adds some of the most interesting twists seen on a game with balls bouncing up a field since Odama. Magic Ball is somewhat "merely" Breakout, that is true, but its physics-based levels, large amount of power-ups, and beautifully colorful graphics set it apart from the pack and earn it a spot in Breakout history.

Each level of Magic Ball takes place across either pirate-filled islands or knight-occupied castles, and it's absolutely chock full of destructible towers. If you weaken the base of an island, everything on it may collapse into the sea. Break a tower of a castle and it may fall onto itself, causing further destruction (and eye candy). Knocking my soccer ball around the pirate levels, I realized that Breakout had never looked so great. The levels are intricately designed; each being a little diorama of a themed scene. A good deal of thought was put into making the levels interesting, despite many of the same elements being copy/pasted. You'll be destroying pirate hideouts and woodwork bridges between islands among giant ships, big castles, and villages. The levels have interactive cannons that when hit fire a canon ball into structures causing all sorts of chaos. So much chaos, that unfortunately, collapsing buildings and explosions can get in the line of sight of the ball sometimes.

There are 48 levels and despite the good level design, the mere two themes (pirates and medieval) wears on you a bit. The pirate levels absolutely overshadow the medieval ones, which was supremely disappointing since the pirate levels come first. While the pirate levels often display a few islands with some sort of simple interaction between them, the medieval levels were generally all too similar, simply having a castle and some people. The latter levels also seem to have fewer explosions. This causes the game to end with a muffled pop rather than a bang. Magic Ball could absolutely have done with a little more variety in level theming and design.

Magic Ball implements power-ups fairly well. They will change the speed of the ball, size of the paddle, movement of the ball, as well as do more interesting things such as turn your paddle into a machine gun, canon, or laser cannon. The wind power up sends a strong gust through the level, knocking almost everything over, and will almost certainly have you widen your eyes in awe the first time you collect it. The meteor power up sends flaming rocks hurling at the environment. Shooting down the level with the satisfyingly common weapon power ups brings an unprecedented level of enjoyment to the game. When you have a good combo going and you caused a chain reaction explosion across multiple pirate islands, you will wonder why all Breakout clones weren't made by the Magic Ball development staff. Magic Ball as a whole is fantastically easy. The game can be challenging at times, but extra lives are plentiful. Most deaths will be the fault of death "power ups" and structures blocking the view of the ball.

Audio is not the strong point of Magic Ball. The game has a cool, relaxed soundtrack that suits it well, but grows repetitive quickly. There are some solid sound effects and some middling ones. Details like people screaming when they fall from buildings add a bit of unexpected and satisfying immersion to the game.

The online multiplayer is nearly not worth mentioning. It suffers from serious latency issues, which will cause your ball to go flying in ways you couldn't possibly predict. Even ignoring that, the local multiplayer is far from exciting. It's simply the same levels but each player only gets half the screen. The game has co-op and competitive multiplayer, neither of which is worth playing. Magic Ball simply has multiplayer because people demand it regardless of how appropriate it is.

Magic Ball is a high enjoyable, though flawed, Breakout clone that relies heavily on conventional gameplay mechanics, yet changes the formula so much that it makes it worth playing even to gamers tired of the genre. The game is simply a spectacle to behold, filled with colorful collapsing towers, explosions, and general chaos amidst the brick breaking. Though the game can be finished in about 3 hours, it feels acceptable for a $10 download and doesn't need to be stretched out any longer since it's a bit on the repetitive side. Despite its flaws, Magic Ball is a game worth playing for gamers of nearly all skill levels and groups. It perfectly represents the successful product an independent developer can deliver using a bit of creativity and innovation, without completely rewriting the book.

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