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Mobile  header logo

Castle of Magic

For: Mobile   Also on: DSi

Spellbound platforming

Product: Castle of Magic | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: Mobile | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 624KB | Version: Europe
Castle of Magic Mobile, thumbnail 1
What do you do when, for one reason or another, you can't play any games? It's a question I've had to sit and ponder recently, given the systematic failure of two of my gaming platforms in as many weeks, but it's perhaps not a quandary you'd expect to be posed by a game itself. Castle of Magic's opening is one that places its heroes - two young kids - in the same situation: how do you entertain yourself when your console carks it?

Castle of Magic's suggestion is a trip to the beach, but in an extraordinary moment of irony, a lazy day by the sea actually turns into a magical journey where portals to another world appear in a mysterious castle. Sounds a little bit like a video game, doesn't it? Luckily, it's also a rather good one.

Castle of Magic is a perfect welcome to the platform genre, boasting some truly engaging levels that take obvious inspiration from some of the genre's best over the decades. In essence, its settings - which range from pirates on the high seas to a land made almost exclusively out of cakes - are nothing more than dressing, with Castle of Magic falling back on platforming staples; collecting items, finding secret rooms and jumping between ledges.

But it's their application that shines, with the game managing to offer up a genuine challenge without ostracising newcomers. One of Castle of Magic's unique features is the ability for the game's hero (referred to simply as 'boy') to adapt himself for all situations. Though by default he takes the role of a wizard, using magic to overcome the mixture of adversaries (many resembling wizard's hats with legs) that patrol the levels, power-ups littered throughout play enable him to change his form - for example, one transforms him into a 'hunter' who can fire arrows that clear enemies some distance away.

Other abilities, such as jumping and kicking through obstacles, remain throughout, and typically it's also possible to take out most rivals by jumping on them. Throw in the ability to double-jump and glide, and levels that insist that you make use of all these talents to progress, and you end up with an incredibly colourful package, and one that systematically proves mobile games can push the envelope by being cannily aware of the classics rather than simply aping what's gone before.

This is exemplified by the boss battles that serve up typically hulking savages, each with a weakness - or weak moment - to exploit. It's a tactic as old as time, but one that feels accomplished here, rather than tired. That's a statement that could easily be applied to any one part of Castle of Magic.

Unlike some of its more trite rivals that rely on a license to pull in an audience, this acts as a new benchmark for other platform titles out there on any format - a reminder that you don't have to make your game tragically by-the-numbers just to appeal to the mainstream and, faulty consoles or not, you're never far away from quality games with your mobile in your pocket.
Castle of Magic
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 16 October 2008
Superb platformer that absorbs all the landmark tricks of old, becoming a modern-day classic itself in the process. Almost as good as it gets
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