A Little Bit of... Magic Made Fun: Matchmaker Review
Posted by James Newton
A match made in heaven?
The retail release of Master of Illusion (known as Magic Made Fun in Europe, as if magic was inherently boring) came with a special deck of cards to perform many of the game’s tricks. Obviously with the series heading into download territory via the DSiWare service, it’s had to find some new tricks up its sleeves, two of which are included in this little package known as Matchmaker.
The first trick, Photo Diagnosis, promises to identify the age of any subject based on photographing their palms and faces, as well as a little bit of mathematical deduction, and requires the minimum of setup. Before you hand the DSi over to your victim, tap the bottom half of the screen and select an age range that you believe your victim falls into, with ages from 6 to 80 catered for. Of course, this part of the trick relies on you being able to estimate the victim’s age accurately, otherwise it’ll fail completely, but the available ranges each span twenty years, so you’ve got a pretty decent chance of getting it right.
After this setup, your audience takes a photo of their palm, after which the game claims to scan it and use your lifeline data to narrow down your potential age. The second screen is where the magic really happens – various numbers will appear six times, with your age appearing three times. By telling the game when your age appears, and having one final photo of your face taken, it’ll be able to identify your age with 100% accuracy, and sure enough, it does!
Of course, there’s no real magic here – the photograph scanning is just a gimmick, with the real mechanics of the trick being simple deduction from a list of numbers. Anyone evolved enough to have the opposable thumbs required to hold a stylus should see through it as soon as the numbers come up, and as with all magic tricks the second time around is even less remarkable.
Your other choice is the flirting aid Matchmaker, arriving with promises of creating insurmountable bonds of affection between you and your target by allowing you to match their answers without knowing them. Whereas Photo Diagnosis has an immediate setup, Matchmaker features no fewer than fifteen pages of information before you can jump into the trick, making it seem much more convoluted than is probably necessary. Essentially, you hand the DSi to the object of your affections and ask them to choose from either “Favourite Food” or “Favourite Dates,” then read out the two options presented before secretly picking one. After the fourth screen your victim is prompted to hold the DSi to their chest or close the screens, revealing all the information you need to wow your audience by selecting the same answers as they did.
It sounds a bit complicated but once you learn the mechanics (which we won’t reveal, in case the Magician's Alliance kicks us out again) it’s actually reasonably clever. Whether or not it’ll help you snag the guy or girl of your dreams is beyond even the DSi’s magical capabilities, but you could easily pass it off as Derren Brown-style psychology if you really wanted to creep them out.
The problem with the package is that neither trick is really that impressive. Photo Diagnosis, although wrapped in a high-tech photography analysis premise, is simple mathematical deduction performed by the DSi: all the audience has to do is take two photos and tap options, making it even less fun to see than it is to perform. Matchmaker is certainly the more entertaining of the two and a lot more difficult to figure out from the audience’s point of view, but the chances of you using it on someone you don’t already know well enough to guess their answers depends entirely on your confidence. It’s a good icebreaker and a neat piece of secrecy, though its usefulness is hard to overestimate.
Although we welcome the presence of new tricks on the DSiWare service, the two presented here aren't really up to scratch. Photo Diagnosis is simple mathematical deduction dressed up with some camera features that do absolutely nothing, and although Matchmaker is a smarter trick the package depends on using these tricks with as many different people in different situations as possible. If you have a constant stream of people you want to charm then Matchmaker may have its uses, but the novelty wears off far too quickly to recommend it.