Review: Magicka for iPad is a fun port of its PC counterpart
At a Glance
The original Magicka, Arrowhead Studios' inaugural release for Windows PCs, was—for a while—the best possible excuse for killing your friends. It is a comical action-adventure game that features full-out friendly fire, a gaggle of wizards, a surprisingly robust spell system that allowed you to mix and match elements at will, and more downloadable content that you could ever shake a stick at.
Paradox Interactive's $2 Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet for the iPad is exactly like its PC counterpart—except that it’s a little more streamlined, a little more cartoony, and missing an entire dimension. Plus, it’s optimized for mobile platforms. The basic premise is still the same: you're a wizard of dubious competence who must go out and remove a particularly obnoxious plot, possibly with an entourage of friends. No, the plot isn't particularly inspired, but few, if any, have ever messed around with the Magicka series because of its narrative.
Like its predecessor, Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet is best completed alone and best played with friends. The control system is wonderfully intuitive to work with. To move, you tap on a desired location on the screen. To cast a spell, you hit any combination of the seven elemental icons at the bottom of your window. Depending on what elements you've put together, you might find yourself doing everything from summoning a massive thunderbolt from the sky to healing a boss to setting your teammates ablaze. The possibilities are, while not limitless, certainly extensive.
What makes all of this better are the restrictions and the ways the elements interact with one another. For example, if you first take the time to soak a foe (or a friend), you'll be able to freeze them instead of simply slowing them down with a dusting of ice. Did you accidentally set yourself on fire? Be certain to douse yourself or risk taking slow, continuous damage. Naturally, some elements exist in direct opposition with another. If you try to mash Lightning and Water together, the attempt will fizzle out.
There are a few extra touches unique to Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet. Unlike in the desktop-bound original, you'll be able to tap and lift reasonably sized opponents into the air. (What you do with them after that is entirely up to you: Personally, I've always enjoyed roasting them over a slow fire.) Other changes in gameplay include side-scrolling action and indicator dots that tell you where enemies are coming from.
Aside from that, the mobile offering also has a relatively unobtrusive store for in-app purchases, which lets you buy new, snazzier-looking apparel for your mana-swilling mascot and a score of one-use familiars designed to make life a little easier.
Nitty-gritty details aside, is Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet fun? Absolutely. There's an abundance of enemies to plow through, many of which come with their own distinct set of strengths and weaknesses. Though the action never gets quite as frantic as it does in the franchise's progenitor, it can occasionally get overwhelming, even as you get assaulted from both sides of the map. Broken into stages and the occasional challenge, Magicka is ridiculous, rowdy, and wickedly funny from time to time. Get it, and make your friends get it.