Good news for fans of pattern-making puzzlers and everyday Joes alike. Just like those who played last year’s offbeat original, we suspect anyone who grew up listening wide-eyed to the tales of the Arabian Nights will appreciate token sequel Magic Match: The Genie’s Journey.
Not only does the title, coming soon from Oberon Media, feature more of the spell component-collecting action and mystical settings thousands worldwide adore. It also introduces an all-new tale, tracking headlining magician Merlin’s quest across the desert lands of Arcania, while introducing sharper visuals, a variety of Middle Eastern musical accompaniments and fresh challenges to overcome. Plus, naturally, an encore performance by squeaky-voiced sidekick Giggles the imp, who’s been cursed and transformed into a turban-wearing shadow of his former self…
Once again, all sorts of goodies are packed in, from a relaxed play variant to collectible trophies (earned for performing feats like making certain bonus shapes), player rankings and five catchy bonus stages. There’s even a duel mode where you can compete against Giggles to grab components the fastest. As an added bonus, you’ll further be able to access a selection of six exotic songs at whim before diving into the action, once each is unlocked. Still, given hands-on time with the outing, we suspect it’s the 50-level campaign mode – spread across a pyramid, mountain range and oasis-covered main map – that’ll draw your attention first.
As longtime fans might expect, the excitement takes place on a series of diamond-shaped grids, with each cast as its own standalone scenario. Covered in tiles bearing attractively-painted objects like curved shoes, gems, scarabs and pyramids, you’ll attempt to beat each by collecting a set number of items before a magic potion meter (a.k.a. time) runs out.
How to do so? Clicking your mouse and dragging the cursor in order to highlight a series of similar tiles in linear fashion, which can be selected horizontally or vertically so long as they’re next to one another. Select three or more of the same item, and they’ll disappear from the board, be subtracted from the quotas you must meet and – if located atop a blue-colored tile – award magic points as well.
These magic points are used to power spells which let you swap individual tiles, reshuffle the board or transform worthless objects into handy lifesavers on-command. Interestingly, you’re also given the chance to boost enchantments’ performance through continued play, adding incentive to progress through the title. Expect to find these incantations a huge boon in the final product, as they’re the easiest way to get out of a tight spot.
Although, frankly, the game does do its best to keep you from hitting a proverbial wall by causing any available matches to subtly shimmer, making them instantly visible. And, for that matter, telling you how many moves are left based on the number of feathers currently showing in a gorgeous peacock’s tail.
As you progress along your journey, power-ups and obstacles are further introduced. Think explosives that destroy large sections of the board, frozen titles that must be shattered and tornados that whisk off items when needed. Coins and magic amulets also come in handy, serving as connecting pieces that’ll match up with virtually any component.
While we’ve yet to do a complete deep-dive – we’ll save that for early February, when the game ships – so far, signs are positive that Giggles’ second adventure will be equally exciting as his first. And no, we’re not just saying that because he constantly tells us so through a slew of new speech clips.
Check back shortly for the full scoop: We’ll have an in-depth review up soon.