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Magic Lanterns

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Boomzap Entertainment
Developer: Playware Studios Asia
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Magic Lanterns' simple 2D graphics are just one aspect of this game that prove you don't need to have a complex game and a huge, open-ended 3D world to have a fun time. The sprite-based boards are brightly colored and everything from the lanterns to the bamboo frames comes off crisp and clean.

Magic Lanterns' sound consists of Japanese influenced background music and various sound effects for when you clear lanterns and use power ups. All-in-all, Magic Lanterns' visual and audio presentation is perfect for the game.


Gameplay:

Magic Lanterns has four modes and an online community. All of these modes, sans the online aspect, have the same gameplay experience. All of these modes present a board filled with paper lanterns; your job is to collect as many points in a limited number of moves. You earn points by clicking on groups of colored lanterns. The more like-colored lanterns you clear in a turn, the more points you get. As you progress, various power ups appear. These are blocks that change the colors of the lanterns around them to a particular color, blocks that destroy whole columns or rows, and blocks that change all of the adjacent lanterns to random colors.

Lantern Quest takes you through a series of levels that take you across Japan. Basically, you just go from level to level earning as many points as possible. Perfect Mode is like Lantern Quest except you can choose which levels you want to play and in which order.

Panic Mode works a lot like Hexic's Time Trial mode. Here you have a time limit bar that is always falling. Clearing lanterns staves the drop, and if you clear enough lanterns in a move, you can actually increase your time limit. Puzzle Mode is your standard "clear the board" mode where the lanterns are laid out in a very specific pattern and no new ones fall from the top as you clear them. So your goal is to try and clear them all. If even one lantern is left on the board when you can't make any more moves, then you have to start over.

That's all of Magic Lanterns' play modes - the other aspect of this game is its Online Community. When you go online, you can edit and share your own level designs. While online, you can download other gamersí level packs and play them right there.


Difficulty:

Magic Lanterns' difficulty varies between modes. Lantern Quest is fairly easy to play through and you should be able to work your way from level to level without much difficulty. The further you go, the more types of power ups become available and these can either make it easier or harder (depending on whether or not you just use them randomly or if you actually plan your moves ahead of time).

On the other hand, I found a nice, solid challenge in Puzzle Mode. I found myself going through each board several times before I was able to progress and this provided a nice contrast to Quest. Because of the more challenging aspect, I played this mode when I was really looking to feel a sense of accomplishment, and Quest mode when I just needed to take my mind off whatever I was working on.


Game Mechanics:

Magic Lanterns' mechanics are as simple as it gets. Using the mouse, you click on groups of two or more lanterns, they collapse, points are tallied and you keep on going.

If you're looking for something to kill time at work on those Friday afternoons, then this game is definitely a good investment. Like other casual games, (Collapse, Bejeweled, etc.) itís great to play for hours on end or just a few minutes at a time. And if you aren't sure, then at least download the demo which can be found at Boom Zap's website.


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

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP, DirectX 8 or higher, 800 Mhz CPU or faster, 256 MB RAM, Graphics card with 16 MB
 

Test System:



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

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