You see her across the way, for just a moment as you are passing by. It's just a glimpse, certainly a one-sided notice. You have no effect on her -- another in a crowd is all you are -- but what she does to you without even trying is this: she changes your life. Her beauty, it's something you can't describe. It is something you can't even picture. She is the imageless picture of love. You haven't fallen for her at first sight -- you've been knocked over by her mere presence, and whatever glimpse or scent or sound you have caught of her in that instance keeps sending you tumbling faster and faster. She is at once nothing and everything. You don't know who she is, where she is going, or what she is all about ... you just know that she is somebody that you would die for.
Your move now is to approach this woman, pass her the Nintendo DS, and say, "Excuse me, miss, but this game seems to be all about you..."
- Quirky storytelling and innovative gameplay
- Unlockable game modes and costume changes
- Touchscreen, microphone and GBA port support
- For 1 player
- Only for Nintendo DS
Feel The Magic: XY/XX is a story about love and longing, danger and dancing, shouting and stunts, rabbits and red skirts, and most of all, lots and lots of touching. It's Sega's first offering for the new Nintendo DS, following in the grand tradition of Sega experiments such as Space Channel 5, Samba De Amigo, Seaman ... heck, even The Ooze. Like all of those games (and incorporating elements of each of them in some unique way), Feel The Magic is an experimental experience that, while likely to be copied by or lend influence to several games in the future, will always remain unique. Also like many of those games, unfortunately, those unique qualities don't allow for a lot of variety or replay value to the game.
The charm of Feel The Magic is instant: this is a game out for your heart, and for its brief time with you, it'll have it. Ventured through about 25 minigames (a few repeat, with variations in between), the game romances you with the story of a man who's fallen head-over-heels for a woman he's just met. Through bizarre circumstance (and I do mean bizarre -- it has something to do with a group of bunny-eared performance artists called the Rub Rabbits, a guy who's accidentally swallowed goldfish and needs you to push them up and out of his stomach, and a terrifying stamped of bulls that must be fought off while skiers slush down the same mountain), you do get to become close to the girl and eventually win her favors.
The silly story is endearing, but one of the biggest credits to this game is the way it plays the story out interactively. Everything is just minigame after minigame (with simple cut-scene interstitials along the way), but several of these micro gaming experiences bring you right into the story in ways that you've rarely been drawn in before. The stage where you two fall in love by holding hands -- a stage where you are an active participant, as you touch her swinging hand on the touchscreen as you two walk through a park, then brush attacking bees away while being mindful not to swat your heartthrob in the process -- rivals games such as Ico in making the player honestly fall in love with someone who is only digital pixels on a screen.
What makes Feel The Magic a game to get is that it's a game anybody can pick up and get into -- Nintendo is delivering the killer apps of Mario and Metroid, but probably the best demonstration of the unique, addictive capacities of the Nintendo DS is this game. Most of the minigames in Feel The Magic make sense to unfamiliar players the second they touch the screen. With the alluring art style, charming love story and female presence in the co-star, this is one that a newbie lady player will like as much as the regular hardcore nerd boys. There are rewards for strong players, curious code-seekers, and especially dedicated Sega fans (including an homage to Space Channel 5) that also make it a worthwhile collectible beyond the gameplay. Still, those people already know all about this kind of game -- it's the people who've never had their mind blown before by a game who will get the biggest kick out of this, and that makes this one a great keeper for sharing. If you have, or plan on ever having, friends of any kind, Feel The Magic is worth adding to your collection.
There's a lot to like about Feel The Magic, but for what it has, it cannot count longevity. As wacky games of this type go, it's about average in length, but without difficulty options for the minigames and only one path through the game, it doesn't fight off the longing once the romance has reached its climax, or keep those new to love playing once they're stuck. You can go back and relive the memories by replaying the minigames or play the game at a harder setting once the story is completed, but there's not much variation once you go back -- the stages are longer here and have some tricky new parts to them not seen in the main game, but only a handful out of the few dozen provide constant challenge worth playing more than two or three times through.
This is also a case of a system launch rush-job -- Feel The Magic doesn't fall apart technically like some first-gen games, but it probably could have been a lot more with extra time. A few of the minigames repeat later in the game, cutting the number of unique experiences down a bit. At least two boss 'battles', if you will, have ooky collision detection or untrustworthy controls that would have been polished up with time. And as attractive as the unassuming graphics are (which mix 2D and 3D with a less-is-more philosophy dictating the design), the work here is sometimes just too simple -- some textures and even bitmaps are noticeably low-res, and the title often utilizes simple effects instead of reaching out for more comprehensive effects (such as simple dithering instead of transparencies, and straight coloring instead of cel-shading.) Also, I hate to say anything bad about the game's smile-inducing musical score (anytime we played this game in the office, heads would turn and eventually bob on over to take a look), but the variety here isn't as eclectic as something like Namco's equally zany Katamari Damacy. Hope you like that "Rub It!" tune...
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