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Magic Ball 2

Score: 98%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Alawar
Developer: Alawar
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Magic Ball 2 isn't your dad's Breakout game. Instead of a simple pixel bouncing across the screen at easy-to-predict patterns, you will have to manipulate a rolling ball that moves across a tilted platform and plow your way through blocks of many different shapes and sizes.

The game's simple colors and look make it appealing for anybody just needing a break from the daily grind with a quick game, as well as for the person intent on beating all 100 levels. Each level has a unique look that typically forms a scene like a farm, a group of penguins huddled around a Christmas tree, a giant scorpion or (my personal favorite) a moose being beamed aboard a UFO. These intricate levels can be created because not only are the blocks laid out on the floor of the level, but they are also stacked. This gimmick, coupled with the vast array of "blocks" that the development team has allowed for the game (cubes, spheres, blocks with moving textures like water, etc.) means Magic Ball 2 is one of the most varied Breakout variants out there.

The music of Magic Ball 2 is fun, energetic and can get you moving at times. Each level has an upbeat techno feel that just helps to really pull you into the game. The sound effects from when your ball gets a power-up, destroys blocks, or any of the other hundred plus things that will play a sound, also help to enhance the game's overall fun feel.


To put it simply, Magic Ball 2 is just a fun puzzle game that keeps you coming back and urges you to play just one level more instead of messing with whatever you should really be doing at the moment (like writing reviews for example).

The simple premise that has been used for years means that just about anyone knows the basic rules of the game. Use your paddle (a space ship, in this case) to keep the bouncing ball in the arena, while attempting to destroy all the bricks in the level. But like I said above, Magic Ball 2 isn't any ordinary Breakout game.

Besides the stacking blocks and fun to look at levels, Magic Ball 2 also gives your ship and the ball(s) the ability to use pick-ups. One of these modifiers can increase your ball's size, so it can plow through pretty much any block in its path and not bounce back. Another one makes the ball explosive, so that any block near the one you hit blows up as well. What's best about these power-ups is that they can be combined -- yes that's right, you can end up with a large explosive ball that will rake in the points like nothing else. Combine those power-ups with the one that splits your ball into three and not only will you be destroying pretty much anything on the field, but you will be throwing your ship back and forth across the screen trying to keep them all on the playing area (and just in case you were wondering, yes you can pick up another 3-ball modifier to have 9 large explosive projectiles bouncing all over the screen).

The ball isn't the only thing that can be modified by pick-ups, either. Some of the released modifiers can enhance your ship's paddle. You will be able to increase the paddle's width, make it magnetic (this is really handy when you have a half a dozen balls or so on the field) or even get the balls attached to the paddle with a rubber band, letting you pull and guide the ball in different ways to get the bricks you want. Paddle enhancements can also outfit your ship with weapons to take care of some of the peskier blocks that just won't jump in the way of your ball.

But not all pick-ups are enhancements. There are several pick-ups that bring your ball and paddle either back to normal, or in a worse condition. There is one that shrinks your paddle's width, one that speeds up the balls, and even one that returns your ball to normal (for when you have the large and/or explosive ball).


There isn't really any level that is hard to beat, per se. If you stay patient and pay attention, you could probably go through all 100 levels without losing all three lives. But to do that, you would probably have to avoid the power-ups, since most of the time your failure is related to the modifiers on the field (whether it's because there are too many balls on the field, they are going too fast, or you're trying to get a pick-up before the ball gets to you). So no, Magic Ball 2 isn't hard, but if you want to have some real fun with it, you will probably end up having to go through several of the levels a couple of times.

Game Mechanics:

Magic Ball 2's biggest game mechanic is the ball and paddle modifier system. Because of the ability to combine different power-ups, which modifiers you decide to use makes the game take on a strategic element. You might want to have three explosive, large balls on the field tearing through everything in their paths. You may even want to nab the pickup that triples the balls again -- but the more you have on the field, the quicker you will have to be to stay in the game. All you need to stay alive is one ball, but if you decided to spawn all of those bouncing weapons, you probably want to keep them for as long as you can. That, combined with modifiers like the Magnetic Paddle or Spring Paddle, could very easily get your heart pumping.

If you are a puzzle fan, then download the game. That's all there is to it. Go to Alawar's site now and download it. If you play through the 20-level demo and don't like it, I will be utterly amazed.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, Pentium processor, DirectX compatible video card with 16 MB, 64 MB RAM or above, 13 MB free hard drive space, DirectX 8.1 or higher, Sound card

Test System:

Windows XP Professional Ed., AMD Athlon XP 2400+ 2GHz, 2 GB RAM, DVD-RW, Radeon 9800 Pro, DirectX 9.0c

Windows GEOM Sony PlayStation 2 Madagascar

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated