As far as rhythm puzzlers go, there aren’t that many around the block anymore. Lumines comes to mind, but it’s been MIA for quite some time. That’s why Arc System Works’ Magical Beat is such an interesting proposition. It’s a combination of familiar games like Tetris and Lumines itself, but it sets itself apart from the rest of the pack in a way few other games have been able to do so.
Your goal is to drop blocks down screen known as “beatons” to the exact beat of the music being played. This sounds simple in theory, but can be ridiculously difficult to those without a natural sense of rhythm or those unfamiliar with rhythm games. It’s easy to get up and get into with enough tries, however, and watching the Beat Sync Gauge will help tremendously.
If you line three beatons of the same color up, you’ll clear them from the game board. There’s a brief delay between lining them up and actually seeing them clear, which you can use to your advantage when facing off against enemies. The higher your combos and the more points you receive, you’ll see “jammer” type beatons being given to your opponent so they’ll have trouble clearing all the blocks in their way.
The types of songs you’ll clear blocks along to vary (and include memorable Guilty Gear and BlazBlue tracks) where their individual difficulty is decided by the song you’ve chosen and which mode you’re playing. Beginner Mode requires you to clear five stages as a type of tutorial level, and Normal Mode is a bit harder. Hell Mode is out of this world difficult and only features the most challenging songs to give you, well, hell.
Unfortunately there is no online multiplayer mode, but you can very well pick up a friend or two for ad hoc play, and that’s good enough for me given the fact that Vita owners usually end up purchasing the same groups of games anyway (we have to stick together!). Besides, the low asking price for the game ensures it’s cheap enough for most to get into anyway, and you shouldn’t have trouble finding too many people to jump in.
Magical Beat is a colorful, engaging, and frenetic rhythm puzzler that feels right at home on the Vita. While its lack of multiplayer can raise a few red flags, it’s still very much a great addition to any mobile gamer’s library — especially since it’ll only cost you about the price of lunch.