Magica, developed by Juan Martinez is a single screen platform game that provides 50 levels of arcade bashing and blasting action for the Amstrad CPC.
Playing the role of a Sorceress on a mission to recover all magic potions that were stolen from her laboratory, you have 50 seconds on to get rid of all the enemies on each stage, collect all the potions and head off to the exit door.
To dispose of the enemies, you first stun them with your magic wand and then give them a good kicking, sending them flying across the screen before their eventual death. This death sequence proves quite handy as any other enemy character standing in the path of the death trail will also end up getting stunned. Once an enemy has been killed, they will release one of the stolen potions for you to collect. Get all the potions and a door will open to exit the stage.
Magica features a number of different enemy types, each with their own movement patterns and attacking behaviour, adding a bit of variety to the overall game play:
- The Jester is the least dangerous enemy as they have no attack and no defense;
- The Knight has a shield and, as a result, should only be attacked from behind;
- The Wizard can shoot magic so you will have to ensure you stay out of his range;
- The Goblin who can also cast spells but is far more nimble than the Wizard;
- The Witch has a flying broomstick and attacks from above;
- The Demon takes on a highly aggressive attacking approach but easy to deal with; and
- The Ghost who is capable of going through walls.
The game also features a fairy character that will try to kill you (I thought fairies were nice). You do not have to kill a fairy to finish off a level, but if you do, they drop extra time when they die, something that is very helpful when trying to complete some of the busier levels. But note that there may be an extra reward if you complete all 50 levels without killing a fairy.
Magica provides a gaming experience that is quite similar to a single player Bubble Bobble. It is very easy to pick up and play. The game has smooth and responsive controls and provides a near perfect difficulty curve that allows you to make new progress with every game played.
The game utilises a score system with points being recorded with every enemy you stun and kick, with every potion you collect and the amount of time left at the end of each level. Every 10,000 point increment results in an extra life being awarded, and you’re going to need them if you have any chance of completing all 50 levels.
It is the 50 second time limit, rather than the enemy difficulty, which provides the main challenge within Magica. During my time with the game, I would often clear the screen of enemies and potions without losing a life but would see the time expire as I was in the process of heading towards the exit portal…frustrating addictive fun is the best way I can describe the experience.
A number of levels really do need you to use the flying remains of your enemies to be hurled in the right direction to stun multiple enemies within this one action. This will typically mean that you need to obtain the higher ground to invoke this ‘chain attack’ from above otherwise there is no way to complete some of the levels within the time limit by taking out the enemies one by one.
Looking at the game’s production values, we can see that Juan’s pixel style graphics combine very well with the Amstrad’s colour palette to provide a visual 8-bit feast. The cute animations added to the game, such as the dizzy stars that appear above a stunned enemy’s head is a great touch and a good visual indication that your attack has been successful. Throw in the cute and cheerful music soundtrack and you end up with a good overall package.
I enjoyed my time with Magica. It is fun and addictive for the most part. Perhaps the level designs start to feel a little too similar in the later levels and the need to constantly replay earlier levels in order to uncover new levels may pose a stumbling block to those whose playing time is limited but there is something about Magica that is quite charming and I can easily see myself coming back to the game over the years to have a bit of a casual play of it.
You can see my video review of the game below:
The digital edition of Magica is available for free from the Usebox.Net website but if you would like a physical edition then head on out to the Poly.Play web store and order yourself copy like I did.
Fun, charming and somewhat addictive single screen arcade action game that is a very good example of the Amstrad’s gaming capabilities in the 21st century. Simple game design that is well executed.
Founder of RetroGamerNation youtube channel and regular contributor to Vintage Is The New Old and Retro Video Gamer blog sites. Passionate about the modern gaming scene for vintage personal computers and game consoles. Specialising in the Commodore 64 scene. If you would like your game or hardware reviewed, please get in touch with me via email.