Vita review: Magical Beat

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Phlat beat

I love genre fusion games. Love ‘em. So when I heard about Magical Beat, a battle puzzler slash rhythm game, I was totally into it. The core conceit is that you’ve got your standard colored pieces to drop, and now you have to drop them in time with the music or they scatter all over your board and make a mess of your life and everything you hold dear. That’s rad; I can dig.

Magical Beat’s genre fusion isn’t entirely fleshed out — I expected more depth from the rhythm element — but overall it’s a fun, charming little game. The characters are cute as heckums, the puzzle blocks are vibrantly colored, and the vocaloid soundtrack is insanely catchy. Said sountrack is so cute and chirpy that it’ll cause most gamers to run screaming, but most gamers probably aren’t playing Magical Beat, so that’s fine.

What’s not fine is Magical Beat’s lack of content. All you get here is a series of beginner, normal, and hell battles, plus the option to face a CPU opponent on a single song. There’s an ad-hoc multiplayer mode, but let’s face it — when’s the last time you played local multiplayer in a Vita game? There’s not even a minimalist story to enjoy solo.

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Yeah, Magical Beat is budget priced at $10. No, it’s not such a terrible crime for a budget download game to be short on content. But what really rankles my butts is that Arc Systems Works has a Playstation 3 version they could have released here instead of this Vita version. Had they done so, I’d actually get to play against friends locally. I’d actually really enjoy the game.

I get it: A lot of people love to puzzle on the go. However, and this is an important point, it’s endless puzzlers that are good on long trips. You know, like Tetris, or Vita’s own Surge Deluxe. You keep playing and playing and playing until the game gets too fast and you lose. Then you play again because you think you can get farther this time, earning a higher score in the process. Magical Beat isn’t like that. Each difficulty has a definite endpoint.

Magical Beat is decent, short-burst fun. By not fully playing to its strengths, though, Arc Systems Works have let down an otherwise good game. Magical Beat isn’t an endless puzzler, it’s a battle puzzler. And there ain’t nobody to battle.

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