Review: Magical Beat
Arc System Works, the studio responsible for some of the most popular fighting games on the market also has quite a track record for publishing smaller games. Magical Beat, their Tetris inspired rhythm game is one of them. It takes the Tetris puzzle game aspect, adds in a battle mechanic, and puts it over some great songs from games like Blazblue and Guilty Gear. This might sound pretty great at first, but it slowly starts to show its flaws.
Magical Beat, like I explained earlier is a Tetris inspired game, so the main gameplay is just trying to match falling colored blocks called ‘beatons’. Match three or more to chain blocks together, earn points, and attack the other player. This is where the battle mechanics come in. Matching the blocks together drops black beatons on the other player’s side, which are only removed by making a chain that is connected to one or more of the black beatons. To beat the opposition, you have to make their stack of beatons go over the playing field; just like losing in original Tetris.
Magical Beat has one feature that sets it apart from other puzzle-battle games and that is the BPM placing of the beatons. When putting the blocks down on the playing field you must do it to the beat of a song. Each song has a different BPM (Beats Per Minute) so every song you play will have a slightly different timing. There is a metronome on the screen to help you time out your block pacing and placing, which I found to be very helpful. The novelty of the music timing is great and undoubtedly fun at first, but that initial neatness doesn’t last. After a while it begins to feel like any other puzzle game, because no other gameplay alterations are introduced. The first battle you play in Magical Beat will be exactly the same as the last round you play.
The biggest problem in Magical Beat is its severe lack of content. There is a tutorial mode which teaches you how to play, the regular mode which takes you through 10 battles against computers of ever increasing difficulty, and Hell mode which is an extremely difficult version of the normal mode. I don’t think a Hell mode was necessary, because the learning curve on the original is hard enough. I wish more time was spent working on other ways to play, instead of making the already terribly hard game a nightmare. Don’t let the cutesy art style catch you off guard, Magical Beat is a rough game.
If you play your way through an entire session of the regular or hell modes, you are looking at about 25 to 40 minutes until you’re done. Since that’s kind of a long time for a pick up and play style of puzzle game, there is also a “my own battle” mode where you pick the song and the difficulty. I found myself hooked on this mode the most, playing quick rounds every now and again when I got the chance. I think that’s where the game really shines, and get’s most of its value.
There is one more mode that Magical Beat packs that went completely unplayed on my Vita. That mode is the multiplayer mode. Multiplayer should be one of the main features of the game, but it’s restricted by only being available via ad-hoc. An online multiplayer would have been ideal, as I’m sure everyone who has tried this game craves battling another human being. This also stifles the overall content of the game which you can tell already isn’t a lot.
Now, let’s move on to the music. The game is published by Arc System Works, so they use music from some of their other games such as Blazblue and Guilty Gear. They use it as one of the main selling points for the title, and it totally deserves to be one. The music is great, especially for the kind of game it’s paired with. I found myself memorizing the songs as I played and even downloading some of the songs to my phone. The soundtrack was the reason for me to play sometimes, as I just wanted to hear the songs. If you’re a fan of any of the 18 songs in the tracklist, I suggest you give the game a try.
All in all, Magical Beat is a fun experience, but not for long. The BPM gimmick is fun at first, but doesn’t really last, and the amount of content for you to play isn’t enough to warrant hours and hours of play. And yes the game is way too hard, but it’s fun while it lasts. The music is a huge draw to the game and some people might like the sprite artwork and want to check it out. If you’re interested in the slightest bit, and have a couple hours to spare, I suggest you take the $8 dive.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Neat gameplay mechanics.
- Wonderful OST.
- Colorful art style.
- Overall just a 'fun' game.
What I Dislike:
- Too hard of a learning curve.
- Not enough content.
- Multiplayer is Ad-hoc only.