We often find ourselves overlooking the small indie titles in favor of the big name AAA games. It’s typically the titles with loads of funding and advertisements that are sure to get the attention of the masses one way or another.Now I’m not knocking these games or your decision to play them. I too have lost myself in some of the bigger titles this year such as Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn that are great examples of AAA games that offer an unlimited amount of world and story to immerse yourself into. That said, I’ve always had an eye for the quirky and cool looking indie titles. You know the type. The kind developed by small teams with creative and innovative ideas, full of passion and the desire to provide entertainment as well as a joyous escape.
Developer SuperMegaTeam is this type of studio, having created the incredibly challenging side-scrolling shooter Rise and Shine that, in my opinion, is severely underrated. Well, the very team behind this metal slug-type shooter has remastered one of their mobile games and brought it over to console and PC. It’s nowhere near as gory or full of guns as Rise and Shine but it’s as colorful and well drawn out, with another showcase of the team’s imaginative capabilities. The name of this title is Supermagical and just as the name states, there is something otherworldly here that deserves to be uncovered.
Supermagical tells the story of Nina. She is the youngest of a group of witches and she is also the nicest. Nina’s sisters were all banished to the underworld due to them, you know, being evil. Nina, being the good witch that she is, was allowed to stay and live among the people of this wonderful world. Aside from being a nice witch, Nina is also an experimental one and after conducting one of her experiments she accidentally brought her evil sisters back, along with creatures that feed on magic called the Minix.
With her sisters running amok and a danger to the beautiful world around her, Nina embarks on a quest to put her sisters and the Minix back in the underworld where they belong. It’s at this moment that I realized I wasn’t just playing a puzzle game, I was beginning a journey. It’s not the most intricate story or the most unique given its setting but it is the most fitting, allowing the story to blend with the gameplay, soundtrack, and hand-drawn – Yes, hand-drawn! – visuals that accompany it.
As I began my first level I took a second to appreciate the marvelous artwork and animations. I’ve seen what SuperMegaTeam is capable of with their fantastic art style and delivery and Supermagical is no slouch in this case. The game has been remastered wonderfully, putting attention to detail on full display with a 1080p/60 fps update. The map of the world displays an alluring tropical island that superbly contrasts the colors of the trees, houses and every other object you run across.
Although the vibrant charm of the world map is a great indicator of the games decor, the individual levels are where the game design takes life. With Nina, her magic runes and the Minix in full display, it’s in this that you see where the true magic of the game is found. The visuals. Supermagical is overwhelmingly a great game to look at, embracing a grand number of colors all the while respecting the art of color pallets. That’s been my draw in the SuperMegaTeam games. To me, they have a great formula in their visual department that leaves the door open for a multitude of projects going forward.
Puzzles in Supermagical vary, but are straightforward for the most part, having you match up the magic rune color with the matching Minix to destroy it. In the beginning, I found this satisfying and oddly familiar, thinking back to classic games like Bust-A-Move. Then, although there were new puzzles added, it all felt repetitive in spots that could have used a little more variety. None of this made me want to stop playing, however, as the RPG like elements began making the gameplay beyond interesting. Things like collecting coins and buying potions or candy that alter rune colors made the more challenging levels fun and gratifying.
Overall, I think what kept me hooked the most was the three-star completion challenge for each level. This added a level of replayability that is welcome, especially in a puzzle game. Often you figure out the puzzle and move on but with Supermagicals three star completion system not only did I have to figure out the puzzle, I also had the chance to go back and try my hardest to execute it as quickly as possible. This feature is all optional but there’s something about knowing you completed a level with one star out of three that just drives me insane, forcing me to enjoy myself as I attempt to beat the record to attain my coveted three stars.
Altogether, I think Supermagical on PC was a huge improvement from its mobile debut in 2012, featuring remastered hand-drawn work that plays nicely with a new take on a classic puzzle style. It’s not perfect but it is fun and the latter is what we always look for in video games. After Rise and Shine’s luke-warm reception – due to an almost non-existent promotion on Steam and consoles – Supermagical shows both the artistry and resilience of SuperMegaTeam as developers. Proving that being a small team doesn’t mean you can’t dream big!
Supermagical is a bubble popping puzzle/RPG now available for PC on Steam and PS Vita for $4.99