For me personally, Clickgamer hasn’t had the best track record with games on the iPhone. You can check out my review of Enigma to see what I consider a low point for them, but other titles such as IO, Tankz and Hacker Evolution didn’t really work for me, either. On the other hand, they’ve managed to have a few slam dunks, such as Dragon Panic, Gears Of Gravity and most recently Zombie Vs. Sheep. Thankfully, Touch Magic does a pretty good job of fitting into the later category. I think it’s missing one key feature, which I’ll get to in a bit, but what’s there is a nice take on puzzle games that I’ve not experienced before, and I quite enjoy it.
Touch Magic is about matching images. At the beginning of each level you will be shown an image. After a couple of seconds the image will blow up into a 3D mass of pixels. Your job is to rotate the mass until the original image takes focus and finally “locks into place”. It’s actually kind of hard to visualize without actually, well, visualizing it. It took me a couple of rounds of play until I finally caught on to what I was supposed to do. Once it clicked, however, I realized how cool the concept really was. It’s sort of Zen Bound meets sliding puzzle game, and it’s quite an intriguing concept.
There are two modes to the game: Time Attack and Meditation. In Time Attack mode the clock starts with 30 seconds and counts down to zero. Each time you successfully lock in an image a couple of seconds are added back to the clock. The images are randomly selected each game, so it’s a different experience every time. A couple of seconds after the image explodes a smaller version of the image appears in the lower right side of the screen, which is good for people like me with a terrible memory. In Meditation mode there is no time limit, but you don’t get the picture at the bottom of the screen. I’m not sure if that’s a balanced trade-off or not, since I don’t think I’ve successfully locked in one picture in Meditation mode yet. The control scheme is fairly simple – single touch allows you to rotate the pixels in 3D, and multi-touch lets you rotate the image in 2D. The whole 2D rotation part took me the longest to grasp, because it’s not immediately obvious what’s happening unless the image is pretty well in focus already.
The key missing element I mentioned at the beginning of this review is what I would call either “Adventure” mode if you want to be cliché, or “Progress” mode if you want to be a little more obscure. Levels would be timed like they are in Time Attack mode, but once you beat a level it’s done, unless you want to play it again. Maybe there could even be rankings like bronze, silver and gold for each level, depending on how quickly you complete it. The problem for me right now is that Meditation mode is too difficult because half the time I can’t remember exactly what the image is supposed to look like, and Time Attack mode is fun, but it seems like every time I “master” a particular image then I can’t complete it the next time it comes up. This new mode would be the perfect compromise for me.
For the most part the images look pretty good. They almost have a stained glass quality about them. When the images explode it looks kind of weird, but then it is basically a floating mass of pixels! The unfortunate part is that there’s really nothing wrong with the visuals, but still shots don’t do the game justice. The transition when the images explode and then lock together again when in focus look pretty good as well. There really isn’t much in terms of sound effects, but then there’s the music. While not quite as compelling as Zen Bound, it has the same quality about it. As such, you’ll find yourself wanting to just sit and listen to it, regardless of whether you’re actually playing the game or not.
Hopefully Touch Magic is a sign of things to come over at the Clickgamer camp. While I really think it could use the new mode I described above, what the game already has is quite nicely done. If you’re looking for a new spin on puzzle games, you really ought to give Touch Magic a try.