I’ve always been a fan of puzzle games ever since my early days of playing Tetris on the NES and original Gameboy. I have fond memories of playing these type of games for hours at a time by myself and with my brother. One of my favorite games though was that of Super Puzzle Fighter II, a match 3 type of puzzle game that featured Street Fighter characters. It was fun because there were outrageous combos that could be made and the fact that you were always pitted against someone, whether it be the CPU or a friend. Arc System Works’ Magical Beat is similar in nature and harkens back to the days of competitive puzzle games where it’s not only you against the puzzle, but also against an opponent.
Magical Beat will be familiar to anyone who has ever played a puzzle game. The basic goal is to match 3 or more of the same color blocks in order to remove them from the play area. Each drop consists of 3 colored blocks that can be rotated to rearrange the color position and then dropped onto the play area. You can not move the blocks once they ever this area however. What differentiates Magical Beat from others is the use of music. Each song in the game has its own beat and you can only drop blocks based on the beat of the song. If you don’t, the group of three blocks separates and just goes anywhere which isn’t beneficial at all.
Since Magical Beat is so dependent on the music, it’s best if you turn the volume all the way up on your PS Vita or if you wear headphones. If you don’t, you’ll have to use the metronome and the beat meter to time your drops, but that can be difficult to do. I highly suggest playing with headphones on or somewhere quiet to get the full experience of the game. Otherwise, you will find it very difficult to play on top of the already challenging gameplay.
There aren’t very many modes of play in Magical Beat. For the most part, it’s the same game no matter what mode you pick, just the difficulty levels are different. Beginner Battle will get you settled in and offer some practice on an easier mode with only 5 stages you have to play through. Normal and Hell Battle requires that you play through 10 stages with Hell being the most difficult level of play. If you interested in unlocking trophies, a majority of the trophies require that you play through Normal Battles using all the characters. This is easier than it sounds. I’ve already noticed that in Normal Battles, the last 3-4 stages can be super difficult to pass with it feeling like the AI is cheating you out of a win. It is possible to beat them, but it just requires a ton of skill and a bit of luck.
If you don’t want to play through the regular battles, you can play the My Own Battle mode where you choose which character to play as, which character to battle against, and on which level. The character you choose to battle against determines what song is played. There is also a Battle Together mode to battle real players, though it is limited to an Ad Hoc connection which makes it virtually useless if you don’t know anyone else with the game.
Graphically, the game has that 8/16-bit feel to it with its blocky, retro graphics, but for a game like this, it works really well. It helps to tone down the distractions so you can concentrate on the puzzles. Of course one of the best features of Magical Beat is the music and there is quite a bit of it here with many of them composed by artist Kikuo. You can even unlock more after you beat the game.
- Fast paced action
- Tons of songs
- Challenging gameplay
- Great graphics and audio
- Not much variety of game modes
- Can be repetitive
- Only local multiplayer (via ad hoc connection)
Magical Beat by Arc System Works is a fun game on the go. This type of game is perfect for the PS Vita and will provide much enjoyment, whether it be to pass a few minutes of your time or hours on a flight. The core mechanics of the game are very solid while the use of music and beats is very unique and adds another layer to the game. This is definitely a very challenging game that will test every ounce of your skill which is what I look for in a puzzle game.
Like I said above, I highly suggest playing Magical Beats with the volume turned all the way up or with a good set of headphones. Either way, you’ll want to hear the game to make the most of it. This isn’t a game you can really play on mute.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games, specifically puzzle games where you battle an opponent, you will enjoy Magical Beat. At the moment, it’s only available on PlayStation for the PS Vita but hopefully it’ll make the leak to PS3 or PS4 in the future. The game is also pretty affordable too at only $9.99 which is worth the price for the amount of time you’ll spend playing it.
Disclaimer: Magical Beat was provided by Arc System Works PR reps for this review.