Fight your way through a mansion-dungeon of early 90s obstacles in Magic Mansion

This 8-bit-inspired platformer couldn't get any cuter or more nostalgic.

magic mansion lead
Credit: Nitrome

These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Who doesn’t miss the black-and-white Game Boy-era world of pixelated platformers and dungeon-esque traps and obstacles? Magic Mansion sweeps you right back into your childhood—skull cannons, sleeping ghosts, and all.

Nitrome’s Magic Mansion has all the makings of your next favorite iOS game: Cute characters, casual-yet-frustrating gameplay, and a totally retro feel. The game is super simple to play, with just one control, but it’s an endless, auto-run platformer with a variety of different obstacles to hop over and traps to dodge, so you won’t get bored too quickly. You’ll collect coins along the way, which will let you unlock characters and recover from death, and the peppy, upbeat soundtrack will inspire you to climb as many of the mansion’s floors as you possibly can.

It’s also free, which means you have no excuse not to check it out—but in case you’re still on the fence, here’s why you should download it right now:

Ultra-simple gameplay: Lack of precise controls is the main reason touchscreen platformers fail. But Magic Mansion has just one control, and it doesn’t require precision—tap anywhere on the screen to jump.

mm1 Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/IDG

Each floor is numbered—your high score is the number of floors you’ve successfully completed.

Magic Mansion is an auto-run platformer. This means that your character is always moving, and all you need to do is tap the screen to have them jump over obstacles like spikes, monsters, ghosts, cannons, and lakes of acid. Unlike most of the other auto-run platformers you’ve played, Magic Mansion doesn’t scroll sideways—it scrolls upwards. The Magic Mansion itself consists of an endless number of floors, and your character automatically climbs up to the next floor when they encounter a ladder. So, while it is an auto-run game in the sense that you’re not controlling your character’s movement, there are some floors where you’ll need to jump to reach the ladder (and so, without your intervention, your character won’t necessarily be endlessly moving forward).

The up-scrolling of Magic Mansion makes for a slightly different platformer experience, because you can see and anticipate future obstacles.

It’s a nicely-designed throwback: Do you miss your Game Boy? You won’t with Magic Mansion—this game looks exactly like an original Game Boy game, right down to the monochromatic color scheme and the pixel-interlaced transition screens. It also has a fun, rousing chiptune-style soundtrack and 8-bit sound effects.

in between screen Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/IDG

Pick your character!

The game features some familiar characters, including a bouncing monster that looks a lot like the original baby Tamagotchi, and a sleeping ghost that’s vaguely reminiscent of Boo from the Super Mario Bros franchise. You’ll also see other familiar obstacles, like cannons and spikes, as well as coins to collect (each handily labeled with a ‘C’). You can trade your coins in for new protagonist characters—including a witch cat, a frog prince, and a rabbit who disappears into a top hat when he dies—or for a chance to continue your run after you’ve been inevitably thwarted by a pool of acid.

If you weren’t around for the early Nintendo days, you might find Magic Mansion a bit monotonous. But the game has lots to offer, including little details like clouds that move in the background and decorative portraits inside the mansion.

tryagain Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/IDG

Purchase the no-ads option, and you’ll get a free chance to continue after you die.

It’s free, but worth paying for: Magic Mansion is a free, ad-supported game, and doesn’t have any freemium-style timed currency (where you can only play so many times before you’ll need to wait a few hours or purchase credits to keep playing), which is a nice change from most of the free games in the App Store. You’ll see one full-screen ad after every three deaths, and occasionally you’ll see one five-second timed ad. If you’d rather not see ads at all, you can pay $3 for an ad-free version of the game, which will also give you additional features.

The game offers one type of “boost”—after you die, you can choose to continue your run for 25 coins or you can watch a longer, video-style advertisement to continue your run. If you purchase the ad-free option, you’ll get a free boost after each death instead of the video ad.

The free, ad-supported version of the game is perfectly playable, but the $3 ad-free option offers good value, should you choose to go that route.

Developer: Nitrome
Platform: iOS (Universal)
Price: Free

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