Review by QXZ

Reviewed: 02/13/01 | Updated: 03/14/02

Where, may I ask, is the proverbial “Disney magic”?

In a drought of puzzle games for the N64, there have been a handful of offerings, but have varied in quality, with a high percentage of the lot being either dissatisfying or disappointing. I had played both Tetrisphere and The New Tetris previously — the former, mediocre, the latter, lame; Wetrix, an interesting diversion from tradition; And both Bust-a-Moves 2 and ’99, which could easily cold the crown of the system’s best puzzle games.

But even after playing those games, I wanted to check out Capcom’s first N64 offering (of only two). No, it’s not Super Street Fighter Alpha Zero EX Plus Turbo 3 (a conglomeration of words from almost every Street Fighter game title made), but a simple puzzle game. Magical Tetris Challenge begs the question, “What would happen if the world’s most recognizable puzzle game was mixed with the world’s most recognizable cartoon characters?” (Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy are the main stars of the game.) While it does absolutely zero new to Alexy Pajitnov’s ever-cloned game, it’s interesting enough to keep the young at heart in lightweight happiness.

The basis behind the game is a story. A story? Yes, there is a story, but is the world in desperate need of one? Even though we don’t, here’s the rundown: Each of the four characters have a story that centers around a mysterious stone that had been caught by Donald on a fishing trip, and that mean palooka Pete wants it for his own personal treasure trove. The differences in the story are as follows: Mickey finds his pals suddenly under Pete’s hypnosis; Minnie just wants it for a necklace; Goofy simply, of all things, only wants the jewel as a hood ornament. All the while, Donald is simply wondering about the stone and what its initial purpose is supposed to be. As ludicrous as those stories are, the game isn’t quite as much so.

Gameplay... what’s to describe? It’s simply Tetris. For a traditional/purist version of Tetris, it’s here, but there is a different version to be found in Magical Tetris. In essence, Magical Tetris adds several more pieces to the traditional set of seven shapes — T/L hybrids, elongated S/Z shapes are here, and more that defy simple text description. These pieces just aren’t there to sit around in your pieces to come collection, since a double or better counteracts those pieces you have been sent. After playing see-saw with the Tetris pieces, pieces will unbelievably reachs sizes of 5x5 squares (proportionally half the width of the playing field). The recipient will get PO’ed in a quick hurry, no doubt, but can easily turn the tables by yet another interesting addition: Five-line “pentris”es. And, typical of Capcom’s recent games, they put an emphasis on combos (in this game, making successive lines with successive pieces constitute combos).

Gameplay aside, there is very little to speak of aesthetically. For a Disney-licensed game, there was a shallow wallet for animation, since there really isn’t anything that would be expected — only during the stories’ cut scenes does each character walk, but nothing else. Animation content gets worse in actual gameplay. Perhaps saving the characters from humiliatingly lightweight animation, they still have their Disney-given characteristics — my personal favorite being Donald pointing and laughing at his victim after winning.

Speaking of laughing, next comes the drab audio. Vocals are nowhere to be found in this game, detracting considerably from the Disney magic. Affordability may have been one issue, but using the current voice actors (or maybe even dime store imitations) would have been so sweet, but is tragic. With so many games available for the 64, why should puzzle games be exempt? Or, to clarify, why should Disney-based games be exempt?

Music, as well, is only tolerable; Even with its better-than-MIDI quality in the instruments, the arrangements are hardly anything spectacular. The rest of them turn out to be early-’80’s in a sense. Many others seemed a little too cheesy for me (shaking Mickey’s tune combining “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy [I got lovin’ in my tummy]” and “She Blinded Me With Science” is no easy task). On the other hand, the intro tune has a cheesy (yet lively) game-show sensation to it, as well as Wolf’s tune, which mixes some nice guitar riffs with an outright jazzy orchestration.

But, after all is said and done, MTC doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head as far as either Disney or puzzle games go. Should a sophisticated puzzle game be your requirement to tickle your fancy, Wetrix will fulfill your craving; For simple fun, rent Bust-a-Move. But for those of us who want an excellent puzzle game (and can read Japanese, unlike myself) should take the time and invest something else. Otherwise, if Tetris is the only puzzle game you can stomach (shame on you!), I can honestly say that, despite the Disney characters, Magical Tetris Challenge isn’t worth your attention.


Rating: 6

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