Sunday, September 23

Review: MagiCat [Nintendo Switch eShop]

There’s a power of games that are “too cute” to attract attention to themselves, and sometimes I worry that it’s being used to try to hook people into checking out a sub-standard game. When I first saw the promo info and art for MagiCat that possibility crossed my mind, anything with cats has a certain niche appeal, especially when they look pretty adorable in a wizard’s hat. After just a few minutes of playing the game itself though, I was absolutely taken aback. If you’re a huge fan of well-made platformers that are challenging and diverse, you shouldn’t be letting MagiCat pass you by. It’s a budget platformer that delivers far more and far better gameplay than its humble price and cutesy appearance would imply.

You’ll be playing through the game as the pretty nimble and capable MagiCat, collecting coins and gems in a variety of colorful, yet dangerous, locales. Armed with only your jump, fireball throw, and a dash you’ll need to work your way through a few screens of enemies and action puzzles before facing off against a mini boss at the conclusion of each level. The gems will take a little more effort to grab in many cases, either being somewhat hidden or requiring you to work out a sequence to reveal the, but they can be used to purchase upgrades and tools to help you reach more of the map at shops so they’re generally worth the effort to acquire even if you’re not a completionist.

The checkpoint and respawn systems are pretty interesting as they put the power of choice in your hands. As you reach each new screen you’ll have the option to establish a checkpoint in the event you die. This isn’t free, it requires a fair number of magic potions that not only will increase your score when you finish the stage but are also a key to you being able to continue fighting right where you die. Since the boss battles can be pretty tricky it isn’t unusual to die once (or more times) over the course of the fight and you can resurrect without losing any progress if you’ve got enough potions. Of course the cost increases for every time you use it so you’ll need to be wise in how you spend your resources, especially as you move on in levels.

Games like MagiCat are absolutely one of the things that makes covering the indie space so special. A bit cute, but generally unassuming, and extremely budget-friendly, MagiCat is a title that far exceeded my expectations for it. It’s an exceptionally tight and competently-made platformer worthy of your consideration on the Switch, especially if you enjoy quality 2D action.

Score: 8.5

  • Smart and diverse level designs
  • Far more quality content than you’d expect in a game at this price
  • The checkpoint and respawn systems are a nice, and different, touch

  • For people who aren’t really into cats and cuteness there’s no avoiding that aspect of the game
  • Not as elaborate or diverse as higher-end platformers