modeps's Magic Ball (PlayStation Network (PS3)) review

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Magic Ball Review

Its hard not to get a bit nostalgic when playing Magic Ball. The basic gameplay hearkens back to Breakout for the Atari, then Arkanoid in the arcades (and on Nintendo). It is effectively the next iteration in that formula. You take control of a paddle at the bottom of the screen and bounce a ball at wall full of stuff to destroy. If you miss the ball on its way down with your paddle, you lose a life. Lose them all and its game over. The primary addition here though is that instead of just busting down an inanimate set of bricks, you lay siege to a three dimensional scene that moves, falls, and crumbles as you decimate it with your magic soccer ball.

Certain destructibles on each level will produce power ups, extra lives, and even death skulls to make things more entertaining than just bouncy, bouncy. There are temporary upgrades for your paddle in the form of machine gun, laser or cannon to help bust up the scenery with quickness. Additionally, you can grab environmental effecting items that produce a series of lightning strikes, wind gusts, earthquake or even a meteor storm. Grab that death skull though, and you're out a life. In total there are 24 different items.

On the multiplayer side of things, you can tackle the game's levels with a friend in co-op mode, or challenge someone to see who can break apart the level first.

Graphically, Magic Ball delivers some vibrant and colorful visuals in native 1080p. There's plenty of chaos and taking down some of the taller structures is really quite a treat to see. The musical backing is downright garbage, but the rest of the sound effects are well done and varied.

The biggest issue I have with Magic Ball is that its really short. You can bust through all of the 48 levels in about three hours, less if you don't lose that much. There are two environments to play in but it looks like there's more on the way thanks to a 'coming soon' message, most likely part of some DLC. There's a dozen trophies to earn to keep you coming back as well, but some unlockables would have helped too.

Additionally, its a very easy game and very forgiving. While you do indeed have a set number of lives, if you lose them all, you can just start the level you are on at the beginning. The only thing the lives alllow you to do is continue your path of destruction on a level. Your overall score does not get affected by loss of life or restarting a level.

I enjoyed what I played of Magic Ball but would have prefered a longer experience and more of a challenge. It really is a nice looking game and there's nothing like hitting a few environmental power-ups in a row to really get the destruction rolling.

The Good:
  • Vibrant, attractive destructible environments
  • A nice evolution in the brick-breaking formula
  • Fun and action packed

The Bad:
  • Three hours and you're done
  • Too easy and forgiving
  • Not enough visual variety in the two themes

The Ugly:
  • The Crazy Ball powerup

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