Developed by Arc System Works, Magical Beat is a music puzzle game similar to Tetris, but with some key differences. First off you take on an oppenent while trying to match multiple colored blocks together, and you have to do this to a beat. Doing so in quick succesion will mess up your oppenent and there for help you win.
Magical Beat doesn’t have a story to follow but it does have an arcade mode to test your skills. In this mode you first select your character (only cosmetic), then you go to take on 10 oppenents. Each round is played the same way. The only difference is the character you’re going against. A song starts playing and you have this meter set in the middle of the screen that shows you when you should drop a beaton. Doing so when the line inside the bar is in the blue will drop it with no problems. If you do it in the black portion of the bar it will place the beatons in a random place.
Now you’re probably asking yourself what in the world are Beatons. Well Beatons are the actual colored blocks you need to match up. You have green, blue, pink, and yellow Beatons. Get more the three of the same color and you will cause a chain to happen. Match a ton of Beatons during this time to rack up a lot of points. Now you might think this game is all about points to beat your oppenent, but actually by eliminating a ton of Beatons you send over black blocks that can’t be matched up. The only way to get rid of them is to match more of your own Beatons. If you hit the top of the playing field you will lose.
All of this sounds like a blast and all, but the problem with Magical Beat is that its outragously difficult. I found myself losing in the first round multiple times, and it feels almost like luck some of the time. The A.I. is way to fast and basically counters anything you throw at it. The furthest I was able to make it was level 3, and believe me I tried multiple times. I played the tutorial which was suppose to be easy, and I even lost on level 4 in that. Puzzle games are meant to be a challenge, but this one is just punishing. It doesn’t teach you the mechanics as you go it just expects you know how to play.
With that aside one of the best things in this game would have to be the music. I found myself tapping my foot to the beat, especially at the mode selection screen. All the songs in this game remind me of Hatsune Miku style, but more electronic sounding.
Magical Beat isn’t a game meant to wow you with graphics as it’s just a Tetris style music puzzle game, but the character designs are quite wonderful. With a simple but adorable design finding a favorite among the 13 (not counting DLC) characters won’t be easy.
Along with Normal Battle mode and Beginner (Tutorial) mode; Magical Beat features a few other modes; Hell Battle, My Own Battle, and Battle Together.
In Hell Battle you do 10 consecutive battles on an insanely challenging difficulty. I laughed at how quick the A.I. places Beatons in this mode as it seems basically impossible unless you’re a hardcore player with ridiculous reflexes
My Own Battle lets you set up your own battle type, allowing you to set things like the difficulty and the song you want to play. This is a good way to practice your skills with certain songs that may be giving you a challenge with the tempo.
With Battle Together mode you can fight a friend via an ad-hoc connection. Unfortunatly I was unable to try this mode out as I have no one near me with this game, though I was able to see that you have the option to find a friend or search for a match. If you set up a match you can choose best of a certain amount of rounds, as well as choose how the songs are chosen – either randomly, or taking turns.
In the end, my verdict comes down to this; if you’re a hardcore music or puzzle game fan then maybe this one is for you, but I would find it very hard to recommend the game to anyone else. While Magical Beat does some things very right (that awesome soundtrack), it really doesn’t feel like it balances the difficulty well enough to include a wide audience – putting itself in the niche of “very hard” games, which in turn limits its marketability and enjoyment. It’s also missing a full online multiplayer mode (infrastructure), which could’ve easily upped replayability and fun as you wouldn’t have to always play against those crushing A.I. players
Some tweaking of the A.I. difficulty and the addition of a proper online mutliplayer mode could easily make this game more approachable, but for now I highly recommend you try the demo before jumping in – or you might just end up throwing you Vita at the wall. 😛