Magic Match: The Genie's Journey Review
Magic Match: The Genie's Journey Review (by Gamezebo)
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is a pretty good mantra to follow when making sequels to well-received games. Tamper too much with a proven formula and a game will lose the distinctive qualities and charm that made it a hit in the first place.
Although in the case of Magic Match: The Genie's Journey, the saying could be more along the lines of "if it is broke, don't fix it." The incredibly bad songs and annoyingly shrill creature known as Giggles the Imp were two of the things that gave the original Magic Match the quirky kick it needed to rise above the glut of tile-matching games out there, and I'm happy to report that both are still around in the sequel.
The songs that are "awarded" to the player after completing each section of the map to advance the story still feature dysfunctional rhyming schemes that are sung in the same cheesy, overwrought vocal style by a singer who sounds like he's auditioning for the lead in Phantom of the Opera. And as for Giggles? Well, let's just say that he actually talks now instead of just making grunting noises. You'll quickly come to love/hate the distinctive "ooh-OUCH!" he exclaims every time you're about to run out of time.
The story picks up where the first one left off. Giggles has been transformed into a genie by the evil Djinn, and so he and Merlin the wizard journey to the Arabian Nights-themed land of Arcania to find a way to turn Giggles back into his old Ewok-meets-Gizmo-shaped self.
Story-wise, the Arabian Nights theme is a bit forced. (Merlin in the desert?) However, the theme does give the game a distinctive new look and introduces a neat new set of symbols to match including scarabs, snakes, pyramids, magic carpets, potions and jewels.
These symbols, arranged on a diamond-shaped grid, represent the spell components that Merlin uses to perform his magic. The goal in each level is to collect a certain number of each type of spell component before time runs out by dragging the mouse across three or more of the same symbol. (The symbols don't have to be in a straight line, but they do have to be touching in some way.)
Gameplay is very similar to the first Magic Match, but one notable difference is that there's now a peacock on the screen that indicates how many possible moves the player has left by fluffing its tail out wider (many moves) or retracting it (little or no moves left).
The Djinn throws a slew of challenges at Merlin in the form of magical obstacles that appear on the puzzle board. Among the more interesting ones are wooden shields and rocks that block access to tiles, ice that freezes components in place, tornados that rampage around the board knocking off random tiles (which can sometimes work to the player's favor), and phantom magic that transforms components into different ones.
Players are awarded magic points that are used to cast various spells to get out of sticky situations (like when there are no more possible moves on the board). There are spells that transform a cluster of symbols into a specific component, swap two components on the board, and shuffle all the components around.
Every so often, to shake things up, you'll get to compete in bonus games that offer something a little different. There are five in all, and they range from using the mouse to collect diamonds while avoiding fakes to navigating a Pac-Man-like maze to collect diamonds while avoiding ghosts
The main mode offers 50 levels, and there's also a Relaxed variation where you can complete matches at your leisure without having to stress out about time running down. The ending is pretty anti-climactic, unfortunately, and although you can choose to replay the story mode a second time there doesn't seem to be any gameplay-driven reason to do so, unlike the first Magic Match where play was different the second time around.
In the third mode on offer, you can duel against Giggles for extra magic points in a turn-based game of strategy where the goal is to collect all the required spell components before he does.
Overall, Magic Match: The Genie's Journey is a respectable sequel. It's a shorter game length-wise, but the production values are actually a little better this time around. The menu music still sounds like what you'd encounter at a cheap holiday resort, but the in-game music is actually quite good, and there are some sweet-looking trophies to be collected in the trophy room for achieving various game milestones. And, most importantly, the developers have managed to preserve the quirkiness of the original.
Magic Match: The Genie's Journey Review (by Gamemile)
Magic Match: The Genie's Journey - A Magician Puzzle Quest
Before you set off on a quest, you are introduced to a musical performance which will lift a veil of Middle East secrets. Once you've taken a sip of mystical spells of Arabian world, you'll see a magic map that will guide you through desert lands of Arcania, oasis, ancient pyramids and City of Gods. On your quest you'll be accompanied by a squeaky-voiced imp called Giggles. He is difficult to recognize (unlike the previous version of Maqic Match, he's no longer wearing a big hat, this time he has put on a turban), still he's even more eager to give you a couple of ‘precious' advice. So, together with Genie and Giggles the Imp you are to solve challenging matching puzzles.
To solve the puzzle, you are to remove a chain of 3 or more items of the same kind from the magic grid.
As you start a level, you'll see a diamond-shaped grid on the playing field (each level features a unique grid). The tiles of the grid are filled with colored items like curved shoes, gems, scarabs and pyramids.
The point is to make a line of three or more items of the same kind. To do a match, click at the item and drag the cursor without lifting a mouse in order to highlight a line of similar items.
Matched composition disappears from the playing field scoring you points. Adjacent items can be matched horizontally or vertically.
Pay attention to Potion Meter - the items are to be matched before a magic potion runs out.
While matching magic stuff, consult the ancient scrolls at the right bottom of the playing field.
You can swap items or shuffle all pieces in the grid
Scroll of items will show you how many items of each kind you are to collect.
Scroll of Spells ‘empowers' you to use swap spell: you can change places of two adjacent items in order to match a line.
Use other spell buttons to work wonders: Transform Spell, for example, allows to change any item into the item of another kind.
If you are at loss for items that can be matched, you can reshuffle all objects on a grid by clicking on a Reshuffle Spell Button.
As you proceed through spell-bound levels, you come across multiple power-ups and obstacles.
Be on the look-out for a handful of tricky surprises: some of them come in very handy, others come like a bolt from the blue.
Magic Match: The Genie's Journey game features stunning visuals and mesmerizing oriental tunes. Music introduction grasps you, and seems to be a perfect tick from the developers.
3 playing modes add challenge to a game: Duel mode will brighten up items matching giving you a chance to compete against Giggles to grab components first.
5 bonus games in Magic Match: The Genie's Journey take you to the magic fairy tale as bonuses are pouring like from horn of plenty.
And, of course, a mystical story which seems to be borrowed from the tales of the Arabian Nights, makes a quest through 50 exotic destinations more than just an item matching puzzle.
Modem (56K): 70 min
ISDN: 30 min
DSL: 4 min