It's easy to look past the overly cutesy story when you see Supermagical's gorgeous hand-drawn visuals, and you'll forgive some necessary grinding and softly suggested in-game purchases when you hear what is probably one of the best game soundscapes on the platform. The core mechanics of this puzzler—colour matching—were pioneered way back in the mid 90s with the Bust-a-Move games, but Supermagical adds a bit of depth to what existed and stacks powerups and allies on top. With a decent challenge curve it's a game that almost anyone can play and a strong bargain for the price point.
+ Pretty graphics, better audio, and a consistent, unified theme tying it all together
+ Simple but varied gameplay complete with minigames; good challenge later on
+ Great value for you, your spouse, your kids, and your friends' kids
- Childish; you won't fire this one up to show off your new iPad
- A bit grindy, and far moreso if you want to buy all the powerups in the game
- Not exactly pushing the medium or genre for innovation, though still well executed
I bought Supermagical on a lark when it was featured in the App Store—the coverage mentioned how charming the title is, and I had a road trip upcoming. While the game has a few minor flaws, it turns out my dollar was very well spent.
Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team's newest title puts the player in the role of Nina, a bumbling but good-natured young witch who inadvertently releases an army of variegated little shape-shifting gremlins called minix upon her fantasy realm. Each of her seven evil sisters (named and themed after each of our earthly sins) are holding Nina's warlock allies hostage, so it falls naturally to our heroine to destroy the minix infestation and return each of her siblings to the underworld.
If you're a graphics-fiend or an audiophile you'll be in for a treat with Supermagical. The cartoon graphics are lush, colourful, and detailed, with splashy spell effects and seamless animations. The music and sound effects, however, might be the best things about the game. Seldom have I been so readily drawn into a game world on a mobile device, and Supermagical owes its immersion as much to the perfectly thematic compositions and audible details as it does to the visuals.
If you're a gamer—especially a casual gamer or someone looking to wile away several hours—you'll want Supermagical for the simple, addictive, but at times surprisingly deep gameplay. With each new level the minix oblingingly march forward from the right side of the screen and the player aims and fires magic spells or different colours to match up three of more minix of the same colour. Groups of uniformly coloured minix blow up, and any minix left standing without some shoulder-to-shoulder connection to the rest of their peers panic, sprint away, and are destroyed by magic energy bolts from the sky. If the minix reach Nina on the left side of the screen the game is over, though there are no lasting effects to failing a level other than trying again.
Different types of minix with various resistances and a variety of level types—precision-based puzzle levels with a limited number of moves, or speed-based levels, for example—provide much of the challenge. The player will also be looking to destroy as many minix simultaneously as possible to earn more chococoins, the in-game currency. Chococoins allow the player to purchase new spell ingredients, new candies (which change Nina's primary spell colour to more easily match up the minix combos), and special items that power up not only a number of Nina's abilities, but also the abilities of her warlock friends. Once freed from Nina's sisters, any two warlocks can be taken into any level to help with specific challenges.
As you can tell, there's plenty of depth and care in Supermagical despite the surface-level colour-matching gameplay. When outside of "combat" with the minix, Nina can travel around the world map, visit menu-based shops, look for hidden-in-plain-sight bags of chococoins, or play a card-flipping matching minigame for prizes. Finally, she can visit her home tower at any time to change hats (which provide special powers), trade warlocks, and cook new spells to help in her quest.
So there's plenty to like, but Supermagical isn't perfect. The game's great depth, charm, and variety comes at a price of either time spent grinding for chococoins or spending real-world money. Each level, and there is a huge variety, are nevertheless the same each time you visit. Unless you are willing to dig into your pockets past the initial purchase you will almost certainly zero in on a level in each map area that is quick and lucrative to beat, and you will beat it again and again in almost exactly the same way. This artificially lengthens the playtime and does little for the fun factor or value.
Still, I hope the recommendation is clear. While I can't help but wonder how the experience could have been improved without the admittedly subdued in-game purchase system, Supermagical is a highly polished, family-friendly game that oozes charm and provides an amazing value for the investment.