Thursday, March 4, 2010

Magical Chase

Quest / Palsoft
1991 (US: 1993)

People would seem to have good reason for being excited about acquiring this game, even aside from overcoming its elusiveness. I'd seen nothing but high praise for MC for a number of years, and based on testimonials from a variety of sources, I thought it was a sure thing. But I'd also kept in mind the lukewarm review it received from VideoGames & Computer Entertainment back when it first came out. I'd pretty much written off that review, but as it turns out, once I'd played the game, I concluded that VG&CE was right on: Magical Chase is... okay.

I don't know about anyone else, but I like elements of precision and smoothness in my shooters. The sharp simplicity of the gameplay and the exactness often required in the more exciting efforts serve to separate the genre from others and make it much more appealing to me in most cases. MC lacks those elements, going the sloppy-shooter route instead. It has you waft along with a large hitbox and a hilariously long vitality meter (which you can stretch to even greater lengths by purchasing the appropriate item in shops). Feel free to blunder through fields laden with pudgy foes and the projectiles they fire, as money is abundant and shops will be right around the corner by the time you get into any trouble. You might have to make effective use of your "stars" (read: options) against certain bosses, but otherwise, strategy and precision are hardly necessary and don't really seem expected of you. Hard mode is a little more exciting than normal, but it feels even sloppier, as there's more aerial crap to bumble into, and it still isn't very tough. So MC isn't challenging, it isn't rewarding, and it doesn't feel particularly great to play.

When I'm up for a sloppy shooter with shops, I prefer to go with Lords of Thunder, as it features plenty of awesome creatures and boasts lots of incredibly impressive visual moments. MC's cast of small-fry is uninteresting and unendearing (which is especially disappointing considering the "cutesy" subject matter), while its bosses are simpletons.

Its graphics are technically impressive, I suppose, but they largely seem like spatterings of colors and scrolling without any regard for what might actually be visually appealing.

I must note that there are some differences visually between the TG-16 release and its PC Engine counterpart, with the only significant one working in favor of the US version, which has a refined brick-tower background for its Stage 1, while the PCE game sports simplistic, multicolored Tetris-block terrain.

Well, I said that MC is okay, but as I wrap up this review, I'm hard pressed to remember why I was that "generous." Let's see: I like Stage 5's tune a bit, I like the few instances where I feel compelled to put my options to good use, and I enjoy the decent challenge presented by the final stage on hard mode. That about covers it. Sure, I'm in the minority, but the game definitely was a disappointment for me, and it might be for you too if your taste in shooters is like mine. Others may find the visuals appealing and relish the opportunity to stumble through a shooter sans much grief or thought, but I don't. I wouldn't even rank MC above Cotton in the prestigious broomstick sub-genre. If you're a serious shooter player and you're interested in laying down big bucks for one of the more elusive PCE releases, I'd recommend titles like Sapphire and Sylphia long before this one. VG&CE probably would have too.


Anonymous said...

I liked this game a bit more than you but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I actually prefer shooters that are not extremely challenging like this one and Lords of Thunder. I can actually beat them without cheating! Also the game is visually very appealing to me. I like the cute and colorful look MC has.

Anonymous said...

I find it very disappointing that you gave such bad marks to this game while giving glowing reviews to deep blue?

Magical Chase kills Deep Blue on every level: sound / graphics / gameplay. What gives?

#1VandDammeFan said...

Probably the challenge. He's good at shooters and not impressed when a game is a cakewalk. I like Magical Chase too, but it's for the same reasons the first poster did; I can actually beat it, the graphics are very nice, and the levels are interesting.

On the same note though, Harmful Park on the PSX is an example of this type of shooter done extremely well. It's like Parodius minus all the awful, archaic Gradius shit that drags that series down.

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