Review by Arkrex
It's a kind of magic
I've always loved magic tricks. David Copperfield and Lance Burton's live shows are always a thrill to watch. Even the street magic antics of some of the more humble illusionists are most enjoyable. However, when I first heard that a magic training program was making its way to the DS platform, I just had to laugh. Using a portable gaming device to conjure up ferocious tigers out of thin air? Well, obviously that's impossible (I think), but Master of Illusion still manages to work some light magic that succeeds in providing some mystifying entertainment for one and for all.
There are three main modes featured here: Magic Training, Solo Magic and Magic Show.
The training mode consists of several touch screen exercises that apparently help you to become a better magician, such as writing out mirrored letters or quickly matching up pairs of cards. They are actually more like minigame diversions; good time-killers, but unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.
Solo Magic is all about you versus the DS. The program will ask you pick a card, any card, or any thing, and then through a series of written instructions, it will stun you with its brilliant deduction. Since you are effectively the audience here, the fun lies in figuring out how the tricks work, but given that the CPU isn't as flamboyant as a real magician, it's not all that interesting.
Now the main event is the Magic Show, where you are Master of Illusion so to speak, and the DS is your attractive, dual screened assistant. There are a little over ten different tricks to perform (with several variations for some of them) and while this may not seem like much, most of them are sure to make your audience marvel at your magical prowess. Whether it be your psychic link with the DS, always managing to figure out what birth month, country or recreational activity your volunteer is thinking of, or several tricks that involve a 'marked' deck of cards (provided with the game), I can guarantee you that anyone who isn't too familiar with the science behind magic will smile at you in awe.
Master of Illusion is one of those non-games that's best enjoyed with an audience. You can progress through the magician ranks by practicing and/or performing frequently, earning new magic tricks as you progress, but the title you gain is itself meaningless. Learning magic secrets is a breeze with brief comic strips showing you how the trick should play out, followed by a detailed, step-by-step guide that's easy enough for anyone to understand. Once you have covered everything, though (and this happens rather fast), it's all about giving a good show to anyone who doesn't know how things work. Thus, the replay value depends on how many social events you hold/attend and whether or not you have the guts to bring out a DS among all the booze and loud music.
If you are interested in giving your own magic performances, regardless of your manual dexterity, Master of Illusion may just be the one for you. There isn't a lot of magic here, but for the most part, it's quality where it counts. If you need another way to prove to your friends and family that the DS can be used for something other than simply playing games, this fits the bill too, and they'll be sure to appreciate your gaming hobby even more - well, at least until you run out of tricks. It's not for everyone, but if being a Master of Illusion sounds promising to you, sleight of hand or not, be sure to check this one out.
VERDICT - 7.5/10 The DS is just full of tricks.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Master of Illusion (US, 11/26/07)
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