When it comes to innovative puzzlers, Taito's Bust-A-Move is one of the greats. Supermagical may have borrowed heavily from the classic bubble-busting franchise but does it do enough to forge its own identity?
Supermagical stars a cute little witch named Nina who's on a mission to save the world after a magic spell goes horribly wrong. To do so, she must rid infested areas of the nasty (yet adorable) Minix. Along the way, she'll also meet a ton of goofy characters such as her sisters who each represent one of the seven deadly sins. The world is bursting with colour in the three distinct areas: the quaint Sunny Easter Land, the snowy Old World, and the unearthly Islands in the Sky. The inhabitants of these lands are a joy to meet and the various types of Minix make battling them all the more fun. To add a layer of merriment, everything is animated very well. For example, the Minix shake angrily whenever they're about to close in on you. On top of all this, the audio is fantastic with a surprisingly epic soundtrack, satisfying effects, and heart-meltingly cute voice embellishments that come from both Nina and the Minix. Overall, this is one wonderful portable puzzler!
As I've already touched upon, Supermagical's gameplay formula is heavily inspired by Bust-A-Move. For the unfamiliar, this means that you aim balls at the playfield while trying to match at least three of the same colour. Unlike Bust-A-Move, the playfield here is horizontal as opposed to vertical. Many wrinkles are added to the basic formula such as invincible and explosive Minix, magic spells, and a vast inventory full of useful items. As you pop Minix and perform chains, you'll receive power-ups and maybe even some cash. Thankfully, the controls work quite well whether you prefer sliding your finger on the Vita screen or using a controller while playing on PlayStation TV.
As you work through the campaign, you'll unlock tons of goodies. For starters, you can enter your home whenever you wish where you can choose two friends to tag along in the meeting room, pick a pet to join you and a hat to wear in Nina's room, and craft helpful spells in the magic cellar. All three of these configurations provide boosts and extra abilities that you can use in the stages. Speaking of which, there are different kinds of levels such as ones with time limits and ones that are puzzle-oriented. There's also a mini-game named Manuel's Pairs that acts like the memory card game in Super Mario Bros. 3. All of these features will help you on your journey and may even provide enough of a boost so you can get all three stars in every stage, too.
My biggest problem with Supermagical is how easy it is. The gameplay is far from challenging on its own but when you factor in all of the upgrades and items; it can get rather tedious. Even if you fail a stage (which won't happen often), you can simply start it again with no repercussions. I wish there were more modes to challenge in addition to the campaign but there unfortunately isn't any. Also, there's very little replay value besides acquiring a wealth of upgrades and getting more stars on the stages. The inclusion of online features such as leaderboards would have been an adequate remedy for this. However, this is another absent implementation that's a big missed opportunity. On the plus side, the campaign is impressively lengthy as it'll likely take you more than a few hours to beat.
Even with its downsides, Supermagical is a blast to play with its cheerful game world and addictive collectibles. However, if you want something more challenging then you're better off sticking with the good old Bust-A-Move series.
- + Solid horizontal Bust-A-Move puzzle gameplay with loads of bells and whistles
- + Lively world, animation, and audio
- + Plenty of unlockable goodies
- - Gameplay is far too easy to provide a worthy challenge for puzzle aficionados
- - Only one mode that lacks replay value
- - No online features such as rankings