Game Review

Magical Whip: Wizards of the Phantasmal Forest Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Magically delicious!

Puzzle-style games have proven to be quite a good fit for the DSiWare service, but some gamers have expressed concern at the growing number of puzzlers that have flooded DSiWare in recent months. Thankfully, Agetec's Magical Whip: Wizards of the Phantasmal Forest brings a fun experience to the service, and while not the most original gameplay design out there, it still proves to be quite entertaining, especially for its bargain basement price tag.

The core gameplay of Magical Whip feels a bit like a cross between the classic arcade puzzler Bubble Bobble and the rather obscure Neo Geo release Nightmare in the Dark. Your goal in each level is to completely rid the area of enemies, grabbing them with your whip and either tossing them into other enemies or off the screen completely. Once the area is clear, you'll progress to the next level.

While your character can jump, even multiple times in mid-air if you pick up the Wing power-up, the majority of the action revolves around your whip. You have two whip attacks: weak and strong. The weak whip reaches out a short distance using only a little magic, whereas the stronger whip attack stretches out much further, naturally using more magic power. Since you only have a limited amount of magic at your disposal at any given moment, you'll have to pick and choose between the two whip attacks carefully. To make things even more interesting, the game keeps track of your enemy kills in the form of combos: the more combos you rack up, the more powerful your whip attacks become. It's definitely something to keep in mind when it comes time to face off with some of the game's more difficult opponents.

As if the constant barrage of enemies and their attacks wasn't enough, you'll also have to keep an eye out for the Grim Reaper who will come after you if you take too much time in each level. A ringing bell lets you know when your time is running out and the reaper is on his way: one touch from him and you're a goner.

You'll occasionally come upon a boss fight from time to time, and these are much larger than the regular bad guys you'll be taking on and require quite a few hits in order to defeat. While you'll have a bevy of enemies coming at you that you can grab and toss at the boss, you'll also find that manoeuvring around the level can be quite tricky as well. And when you toss in an ever-changing cast of enemies, each with their own unique movements and attacks, you've got quite a challenge on your hands in later levels.

With 50 levels to tackle, you'll certainly find plenty of content to keep you coming back for more. And since you can't save during your 50 level stretch, you're going to have to do it all without turing the system off. Of course if you can beat the game with a high enough rank, you'll unlock a special mode and then be able to save your ranking. It might seem like a long progression, but given the game's tight and responsive controls, not to mention the very smooth difficulty curve, it's certainly not too tough for players willing to put in the time and practice to make the run.

Visually, Magical Whip keeps things fairly simple, but since this is a puzzler, there's not a huge need for flashy eye candy. The nice variety of enemies keeps things fresh and with the ever-changing scenery, there's always something new to look at around each corner. The cutesy musical presentation fits the game's light-hearted theme perfectly, and oddly enough, proves to be quite catchy, even over the 50 levels you'll have to traverse.

Conclusion

Magical Whip might borrow heavily from several other classic puzzle/platformers, but the execution and gameplay is good so it's tough to complain. The simple gameplay design makes the game extremely accessible and when combined with the rather charming presentation, makes for one of the more engaging releases to hit the DSiWare service. Whether you're a puzzler or a platformer fan, this is a release that has a lot to offer if you're willing to take a chance on it.

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User Comments (27)

Bankai

#1

Bankai said:

Oh that looks awesome. I hope (but doubt) that ends up released in Australia.

Dyl_73

#2

Dyl_73 said:

Can't save !!!! That's a no from me then. I don't have the time and like to play for short spells.

BulbasaurusRex

#5

BulbasaurusRex said:

It appears to have some interesting concepts, but mixing them with the constant platform-hopping that's required with those level designs and having to beat 50 levels at a time means it's going to be a highly repetative and eventually boring slough to get through it all. No thanks.

FonistofCruxis

#6

FonistofCruxis said:

This actually looks pretty good and I would consider getting it if it wasn't for the lack of a save feature but I doubt I would have the option to get it anyway as no other games from agetec have been released in Europe.

gabikun

#7

gabikun said:

I've played the Japanese version, and I must say that, when you reach the further levels (level 40 and upwards), the difficulty sharply increases. The level 49 is crazy (I didn't beat it) and level 50 must be insane. On the other hand, once you reach those levels, the first 30 ones are so easy that you get bored easily trying to reach the insane levels again.

By the way, if you want to know about the secret mode, is only a "very difficult" mode, in which you have no continues. You must finish the game with Rank S to unlock it (that means, beating all the dragons and completing level 50)

SilverBaretta

#9

SilverBaretta said:

I still laughed my head off when the trailer said "My magic may be weak, but my strength is strong!". It reminded me of that clip from an anime I saw that said "People die when they are killed."

LeasTwanteD

#10

LeasTwanteD said:

Thanks for the review and especially for mentioning you can't really save, Corbs. :)
If this game comes to Europe one day i guess i won't get it because of that. :|

SennaKurosaki

#11

SennaKurosaki said:

Why isn't it simultaneously released in Europe too? Does Nintendo really want to drive people away to iPhone's, iPod's and iPad's? This is obviously a game suitable for all-ages, so why the delay? Can't be a rating issue. Simultaneous world-wide releases that is the way to go!

GreenAbobo

#13

GreenAbobo said:

@gabikun: I agree with your comment on the earlier stages being a bit of a chore once you've reached the crazy difficult upper stages. If they had some kind of scoring system outside of the Dragon ranks, preferably rewarding a score bonus for time and combos, it would have alleviated this condition.

CorbsAdmin

#14

Corbs said:

You guys ever put your system to sleep? I just kept my system in sleep mode off and on until I finished the game. :D

LeasTwanteD

#17

LeasTwanteD said:

Nowadays it should be left to the player if he wants to use the sleep mode or wants to suspend his game like the Wii's (S)NES VC games imo.
Let's say i can only play this game for 30 minutes a day. And make it to level 25 in that time. My next session will be in 23.5 hours. Why should i have to leave my DSi in sleep mode all that time ? Seems like a waste of energy to me.
It would be even worse on the 3DS since i use the pedometer in Nintendogs every day. I couldn't do that in the described scenario.
A game interfering with my common use of the system ? Not a good thing in my book.

I'm not completely ruling out a Euro-download now, but it will make the decision harder for me. So it's just stupid they didn't include it imo.

CorbsAdmin

#18

Corbs said:

I haven't turned my 3DS off since the day I unboxed it a few weeks before the launch. I always leave it in sleep mode and just place it on the dock at night before I go to bed. And adding a regular save function would greatly take away most of the game's challenge to me. In truth, even at only 30 minutes a day, it shouldn't take you more than a couple of days to finish the game anyway. :D

BenAV

#19

BenAV said:

I would consider getting this if my 3DS's memory wasn't pretty much full. =P

Bassman_Q

#20

Bassman_Q said:

Hmmm... the game seems really fun, but the lack of a save system really turns me off... I suppose I HAVE had fun with DSiWare games w/out save systems before (like Army Defender and D-Tank), but they at least had a score-based system. Does this game have anything score-related for when you get a game over and failed to reach the end?

Henmii

#21

Henmii said:

Nice review! A pity that you can't save it, but the game sounds good (especially for only 200 Nintendo points) so I might download it someday when I have a 3DS!

gabikun

#22

gabikun said:

Is worth mentioning that you can move faster and do longer jumps by holding the "B" button, and that your magic gradually decreases when you have an enemy in your whip.

By the way, you start with only 2 continues, but you can collect some hidden items in certain levels that give you more "credits" for playing. There are a total of 14 credit-items to collect, but you can only keep a maximum of 9. If you want to check the hidden "continues", take a look at this japanese page of the game, where there are some "hints" about where they are:
http://www.silverstar.co.jp/02products/dsi_magicalwhip/index4.html

Joygame51

#23

Joygame51 said:

I just got this game. I like the game play but dislike the fact that you are stuck replaying over and over to higher level if you do not have the time to do it all at once.... Ahhhh well ! Still fun though! ZAPP ya with my whip you nastys ...lol

Kitsune_Rei

#24

Kitsune_Rei said:

Looks cute, but lack of save feature killed it for me. Sorry I don't like to leave the system on one game all the time, I never know when I'll want to load something else.

ToxieDogg

#27

ToxieDogg said:

@TheInvisibleTor I was still waiting and insta-downloaded it as soon as I saw it on the EU E-Shop :P It's a fantastic little game for such a low price, has a very decent challenge and is tons of fun to play just like the old arcade games it's based on. One of the best games on DSIWare IMHO. The lack of a save feature doesn't hurt it at all, as a game will typically only last you for 20-30 mins.

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