januari 09, 2014

Magic Carpet on Sega Saturn

When I was young my friend had a game called Magic Carpet on his PC. The game was released in 1994, and I think I played it around 1995. I remember we had a lot of work installing it.

The game was made by Bullfrog, a company that made several highly original games. With unique ideas and gameplay they were a true innovator. Their titles were primarily for PC, although they were also released on many other consoles: Populous, Syndicate (I have written about that game earlier), Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital (Very humorous, my sister loved it) and Theme Park (I played this for hours, very fun!) are still enjoyable today. In fact I know that people still play them and they are talked about.

Magic Carpet was never was a big hit on the PC or any other console. I think it was marketed as an action-paced shooter, while in my opinion the gameplay is more of a strategy/puzzle game with action elements. Most of the time it's about collecting the Mana you need to get to the next level.

I have now found out that Magic Carpet was released on the Saturn, and got a hold of the Japanese version.

See, it has support for the analogue Saturn controller ("3D controller") too.

I've played about 20-30 hours during the Christmas holiday but only made the first 15 levels. It takes such a long time to beat each level. According to Wikipedia (Magic Carpet), there are 50 levels, so I have decided to focus on other games instead. Also, although I was fascinated by it when I was 14 years old, I have to admit that it is tiring.

The purpose of the game is to collect enough mana on each level to get to the next. The needed amount is shown as two white marks next to the castle icon. You store mana in the castle you build and have to upgrade the castle when it gets full.

You have a primary and a secondary spell you can throw. When you kill enemies, mana blobs will appear, and you have to mark them with your color. Then your balloon will leave your castle to collect them. Usually you have to compete with other wizards for the mana. The game supports multiplayer too, but in this video the wizards are AI controlled.

When you have killed all enemies on a stage, the mana is running out and you have to attack enemy castles to get the rest of the mana you need. When a castle explodes, it releases a bunch of mana all around that you can collect.

Here is a video of me playing level 10.

I died twice in the beginning. Third time begins at 02:10. I also cut away the rest of the video because it got long. In the end I had to attack the enemy castle to take his mana, and after I had enough I could exit the level. Some things you need to know to play this game:
  • Press L+R to see the map. In the map, press C to see all character stats.
  • DO NOT press X or you will destroy your own castle one level.
  • When your castle is full of mana, you have to upgrade it.
  • At 15:40 I picked up a jar with the useful lightning spell.
  • If you die without a castle you have to restart the level. If you die with a castle you simply respawn at your castle. In the castle you will regain health and mana power.

The main problems with the game are:
  • It is slow. If things moved faster and the levels were shorter it would have been more fun.
  • The 3D graphics look old. You can't see enemies until they're close, and everything looks blocky.
  • The balloon thing is fun, but it is boring to have to wait for the balloons to arrive. They could have moved two or three times as fast.
If they ever remake this game, fixing these things would make an excellent game. Maybe they could add better music too.

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