By: Casey Curran
Sometimes it’s very difficult to explain why a game does not work. In the case of Magical Beat, however, it is very easy. The game is meant to be a simple puzzler mixed with an even simpler game. Unfortunately, the two of these do not mesh well together, and since the game is meant to be simple, the game as a whole does not work.
The basis behind the game is to have three connected blocks and drop them. There is a small variety of colors to these blocks and matching three of the same color causes them to disappear. Chances are you have seen this idea before or something similar to it. However, the game springs a few twists to help itself stand out.
The first twist is that you are constantly playing against either an AI or human opponent. Getting high combos causes grey blocks to fall down, which can only disappear by getting a combo using blocks touching them. Throwing enough of these can quickly cause even the best opponent to crumble. It does, however, create too much of a “feast or famine” scenario where if your opponent gets a good enough streak early on, it could spell a quick doom for you. Comebacks are very rare here, which is a shame.
The other aspect is that the blocks have to drop in the beat to the music. Dropping blocks works like reloading in Gears of War where there is a sweet spot to hit the button at, a harder to hit spot in the sweet spot, which gives you extra points, and other spots that cause the blocks to scramble instead of drop.
Dropping blocks to this beat proves very frustrating, where I feel like I was playing two games at once. Sometimes blending two genres can work well because the two share many similarities; such as Sly Cooper’s blend of platforming and stealth. Other times it works because each part is separated enough that they do not get in the way of one another ala Grand Theft Auto’s blend of several genres.
Here, however, the shift from focusing on the blocks to the beat is awkward and time consuming, where taking too much time results in the blocks scattering anyway. It just does not work.
There is an interesting idea here with a music-based puzzler, but unfortunately the idea behind Magical Beat is executed in a way where the puzzle and rhythm bits mesh horribly together — it never felt natural even after hours of play. If you want a game that blends music well with a fun puzzler on your Vita, I would recommend Lumines instead.