Review by discoinferno84
"Get down with the genie..."
The palace guards are sleeping. Can you really blame them, though? It is the middle of the night, after all. Besides, the place is utterly dead; the only sounds heard in this labyrinth of artwork and gilded statues are those of the wind howling through the sands outside and the crackling of the torches at every doorway. Nobody hears the sound of footsteps patting lightly off the marble floors, nor do they notice the door to the sultan's bedroom creak open. A quarter moon of light reveals the evil wizard quietly sneaking up to the bed. He promptly casts a spell, turns the sultan into a monkey, and strides out of the room with a grin under his veil. This is only one of many steps needed to achieve his goal. The night is still young, and there is much work to be done.
Sunrise reveals a palace under siege. As assassins and thieves plunder everything, the sultan sneaks in his most powerful warriors (he can apparently talk despite going primate) and charges them with the mission of restoring his body and saving the kingdom. Since the magic needed for such a task rests in seven rare jewels, the four heroes must explore the festering slums and lethal dungeons of Arabia before completing their mission. But before they even make it out of the palace, an army of turbaned foes descends upon them. Prince Rassid wastes little time; with just a few quick saber slashes, he leaves the decorative carpets stained with blood. His sister Lisa opens fire with some weak long-ranged feathers (because we all know that anything can be lethal if it's magical), and Afshael smashes through someone's ribcage with his trusty mace. Sinbad calmly finishes off the remaining straggler with a charged sword slash to the jaw.
Luckily for you, not all of the fights in Arabian Magic are that easy. Later levels force you to deal with nearly ten enemies at once, making even minor sections a challenge. Though most veiled assassins will go down with a few attacks, you'll find that the flame-spewing fat guys, armored skeletons, and kickboxing pirates will give you more than a run for your quarter. While your characters have different strengths and weaknesses in combat, they are all incredibly responsive. It's a shame that Taito didn't bother to implement a few more moves for each hero, though; the same two or three hit combos and choppy animations will go stale long before the first stage is done. The game tries to spice things up a bit by including elemental powerups, screen-clearing magical attacks, and even the frequently elixirs, but the sheer lack of extra weapons and items make for a fairly dull and brief experience.
The only time things get remotely interesting is when you have to face the bosses. While other brawlers pit you against gang leaders and criminal masterminds, Arabian Magic lets you take on various genies throughout the land. Never mind the logic behind a demigod's vulnerability to bladed objects, though; you'll get to take on a sextuple-wielding Shiva statue, a giant Dhalsim wannabe, and even a team of doppelgangers. Luckily for you, they don't take the assault personally; after you've beaten a genie's it'll cough up one of the magic jewels and offer its services to use as a summon attack. Considering that you'll spend a small fortune trying to beat the game's progressively tough battles, you'll need all the help you can get.
Besides, it's not like there's anything else to look at. The game spares no expense in animating the genies; once summoned, their bodies block out most of the other action, giving you a screen full of wispy cloud tails, gargantuan muscles, and silky costumes. But once they exit, you'll be left with a bunch of bland levels. Sure, the floors look like polished marble and there is plenty of Arabian artwork hanging on some of the walls, but many levels are really nothing more than a flat, linear expanse. There are a few cool concepts, like slaying a giant bird from the back of your magic carpet and having to dodge the perils of the local marketplace after being shrunk, but those are far and in between. Not even the Prince of Persia-esque rotary blade traps and spiky floors add much to the atmosphere. Of course, the biggest drawbacks are the characters themselves; while everyone is decked out in canvas pants, tiny vests, and veils, they all look like a bunch of pixilated stick figures.
Needless to say, this is no Aladdin. While the story is a step up from the usual plot for a brawler, it really has no bearing on the action. All four characters are severely underdeveloped; with no super moves and extra weapons available, they'll only get to execute a few simple combos over and over again. At least the game provides a progressively higher difficulty level. Unfortunately, the genie summoning system is both fun and easy to abuse, making some even the toughest battles a walk in the park. Talk about a wasted wish.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 08/19/07
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