Netmarble US Inc.'s first casual game for the mobile market, Magic Cat Story, was released for iOS and Android on March 5, 2015. Magic Cat Story is a color block matching puzzle game with a heaping helping of cuteness. Players will match blocks to help the adorable Kevin defeat an evil wizard named Constantine who has turned he and all his friends into cute little animals.
As far as curses go, this magic cat could be worse off but cuteness aside, evil can't go unpunished. So players puzzle their way through levels working their way up to boss fights to defeat the evil wizard and his minions. Magical items and abilities are an added element to the basic tile-matching gameplay and enhance the magic dueling theme. Perfect for kids and those looking for a cute tetris-style puzzle game, Magic Cat Story does a nice job of updating the classic puzzle genre game for the mobile market.
Easy to pick up and play, Magic Cat Story uses simple touch controls to manipulate a group of 4X4 colored tiles before they drop. Tap the screen to rotate the block of tiles and swipe across the screen to position the block left or right before swiping down to drop the tiles. Match the same color tiles to eliminate them from the field, gain points, redeem treasure and execute special spells and attacks.
There's no time limit in the levels of Magic Cat Story, instead the strategy comes through a limited number of moves and special objectives each mission. Different objectives include tasks like releasing special items trapped in the blocks or getting around unbreakable tiles placed throughout the grid. Pretty standard puzzle game challenges for the most part.
Perhaps the strongest element of Magic Cat Story is its unrelenting cuteness. You play as a magic wielding cat that can be dressed up in fun costumes as you match colored tiles to defeat a chibi-fied villain and his little minions through various landscapes. Those whimsical qualities are carried through to the cheerful music, encouraging comments when you score points, story dialogue between episodes and the colorful art style.
Magic Cat Story delivers it's story through text at the bottom of the screen. No voice acting, no animation or still images, just little avatars of the characters speaking to accompany the dialogue blurbs. While the concept of Magic Cat Story is interesting, there isn't much story aside from 'get the bad guy'. It seems like a missed opportunity to capitalize on the game's cutesy feel and to be more engaging for young players by incorporating additional story elements.
Even if the story is lacking, Magic Cat Story is fun to play. The controls and game mechanics work well to create an enjoyable tetris-style game for all ages. Aside from just matching tiles, you can fill up a mana bar to power up a tile before it's dropped, enabling you to eliminate an entire row when matched. Matching a string of seven tiles can also create special powered blocks which thematically enables players to 'cast spells' which break more tiles than usual.
There are also special items that can be used during levels in Magic Cat Story but that's where the in-app purchases come into play. In-app purchases abound in Magic Cat Story and buying things from the store will almost always make the levels of the game easier to complete. Magic cards and blocks can be purchased for added boosts. Cute outfits can be unlocked and purchased to give Kevin special abilities while wearing them.
The most annoying of the in-app purchases in Magic Cat Story are the limitations put on gameplay that making payments will remove. For example, there are special tools to help deal with certain obstacles during levels that have to "recharge" before using again. If you pay you can use the tool during it's cool down time. If you run out of moves before completing the level's objective, then you can pay for more moves in order to keep playing and beat the level.
Those limitations don't stop you from playing the game though, it just makes it harder. If you run out of "lives" by repeatedly failing levels then you not only can't move onto the next level, but you can't play the game until those hearts have refreshed by the next day. Of course players can keep playing if they just buy more lives. This limitation wouldn't be necessary if you could simply pay for the game up front.
Leaderboards and Facebook connectivity enable Magic Cat Story players to share their top scores with friends. In fact the game aggressively pushes Facebook connectivity, which can get kind-of annoying. Adding friends from Facebook and posting updates to your page will gain you in-game rewards, and you will be constantly reminded how easily you can connect to Facebook through the game.
At the end of an episode, players will face a boss battle. These special levels are pretty fun, with matched tiles dealing damaging attacks to the opposing villain. Villains contribute an added challenge to Magic Cat Story by literally changing the playing field and making players adjust on the fly.
The boss' intermitant attacks will change the color of tiles or remove special trapped items like fruit, making it more difficult make matches and deal damage. Getting a boss's health bar down to zero will win you the fight.
Boss battles can be played on four differnet difficulty levels ranging from hard to easy. The more in-game currency you pay the easier the battle will be. Not paying anything at all will result in playing on hard mode.
There are also in-game events that players can get rewards for. These events range from Facebook activities, like posting screenshots of your favorite play's, to completing high level boss battles. Accessed from the main world screen, events are a great way to conect with other players and get some much needed in-game currency.
Not making any in-game purchases for Magic Cat Story will definitely make the game more difficult; however, fans of match 3 games won't find it too challenging. While the strategy isn't super challenging in Magic Cat Story, it's still a fun, casual gaming experience if you aren't too bothered by the in-app purchases. The game get's an A for cuteness and is great for kids if you disable in-app purchases.
This game was downloaded by the reviewer and reviewed on a Samsung Galaxy S4.
Magic Cat Story is cute and well made however, the strategy is weak and the in-app purchases and facebook connectivity is a little heavy handed.