Review by KillAllPopStars
"Lacking in Any Real Ingenuity, but Fun Nonetheless"
Snoopy Magic Show is one of the first Game Boy games that I ever remember beating. So, for the nostalgia alone, I have a fondness for this game. Magic Show is essentially an action puzzle game, wherein you have to push blocks, maneuver through a myriad of teleporters and one way squares, find various hidden power ups, and dodge evil neurotic bouncing balls and your shiftless brother Spike, all in an attempt to grab the four Woodstock dolls that are placed seemingly at random throughout the room, so that you can advance to the next of the game's 120 9x9 rooms. The actual puzzle solving in Magic Show is minimal though. Most of the game is spent trying not to get hit by the annoying bouncing balls that occupy every stage or figuring out how to outsmart Spike, the only true villain in the entire game. This often makes the action in Magic Show seem somewhat random and arbitrary. It seems to lack the order and logic of most similar puzzle games. However, despite this lack of logic, Magic Show is fun to play and gets rather challenging in the later stages. I played it through again recently, and it seems to have lost something over the years, but, regardless of Magic Show's dated feel and relatively low replay value, it is a fun game that should be played at least once by any fan of the action puzzle genre. It will also be a welcome and somewhat hard to obtain addition to the collection of any Peanuts fans out there. Having said that, you may wonder why I scored it at only a six. Well, here's my detailed analysis...
The plot of Snoopy Magic Show is weak and nonsensical, even for an old school puzzle title. Snoopy's lifelong pal Woodstock has been arbitrarily kidnapped by an unnamed magician. So, Snoopy takes it upon himself to enter the magician's castle, facing whatever traps and treachery might be waiting, to save his buddy. This, in and of itself, is not an uncommon plot device for an older action title, but the whole affair gets even more bizarre when snoopy finds out that the magician's castle is inhabited be a whole hoards of semi-sentient bouncing balls, and somehow, amidst all the chaos, Snoopy's brother Spike mysteriously appears in the middle of the castle, apparently working for the bad guy and bent on killing Snoopy. While I admit that this sort of game doesn't need much of a plot, and the campy feel allows for quite a bit of implausibility, I feel that with just a little more effort put into solidifying a good solid storyline, this game could have been so much better and more involving.
Snoopy Magic Show is an action puzzle game, where you have to work your way through 120 rooms of steadily increasing difficulty. Each room is set up in a 9x9 square grid. As the title of the game implies, you play as Snoopy, and the object of the game is to figure out how to maneuver through the room you are in, in order to collect the four Woodstock dolls and move on to the next one. Throughout the game, you will come across many obstacles, which include disappearing bricks, movable bricks, teleport squares, and one way squares. For each room, you have to devise a strategy to get around or otherwise utilize these obstacles to get the dolls, while avoiding anywhere between one and three of the evil bouncing balls, and, in the later stages, your brother Spike, who has mysteriously turned against you, chases you around. Snoopy dies with one hit, and you constantly have to rush to beat a ridiculously stiff time limit. As you can imagine this gets rather frantic, but that is a large part of the fun of this game. Unfortunately, the puzzle solving is downplayed in favor of incessantly having to dodge seemingly randomly bouncing balls. This means that you die a lot more that you should. To counterbalance this though, you get an extra life every time you beat a level, and there is no life cap. So, you can potentially collect up to 125 lives. There are various powerups scattered throughout the levels, some of which give you the ability to kill your enemies, but they don't last long, and most are hard to impossible to obtain. The level design is redundant and uninspired, and at level 60, the game starts over with the added challenge of having to trick or avoid Spike. Regardless of its numerous flaws and the seemingly random nature of the gameplay, Snoopy Magic Show still manages to be a fun and somewhat engaging game...at least the first time through, but I doubt that anyone would have the same experience a second time through.
The graphics in Snoopy Magic show are bland and uninspired at best. You spend the majority of the game staring at a series of squares that all look exactly alike, with the exception of various utility squares, such as disappearing blocks, one way squares, and teleporters. There are only two types of enemies in the game, and even Snoopy, the hero, is just a boring generic sprite. The game spans 120 levels, but the graphical motif (if you can even call it that) doesn't change once. Every 20 levels you get a picture screen accompanied by a short message from Woodstock, but even these are little more than generic stills. Despite the lack of ingenuity in the appearance department, the graphics do exactly what they are meant to do, and that is merely to let you know what is happening on the screen. While completely unimpressive, I have to give at least a 5 in the graphics department because they do get the job done, albeit in a grossly oversimplified manner.
The sound in Snoopy Magic Show is mediocre to bad. There are only about six songs that are repeated over 120 levels. At first, they seem to be fun and whimsical, but, while they do somehow suit the game well, within about a half an hour of gameplay, the music begins to seem redundant and annoying. The music during the break scenes that occur every 20 levels is decent though, and some are lifted right from the Peanuts animated specials, but that's hardly a redeeming factor in this department. The sound effects in Magic Show are minimal, and they get old even quicker than the music. All in all, this is a game best played with the sound off.
Snoopy Magic Show has a multiplayer mode that is just as fun, if not more so, than the regular game. It is a Vs. mode where one player is Spike and the other player is Snoopy. The way it works is simple. Snoopy has to get all the Woodstock dolls before spike catches him. You can choose to play through any of the last 60 rooms of the game, and there is an option that lets you switch characters without switching Game Boys. An old friend of mine also had this game, and I remember playing against each other for hours. The two player mode actually has a longer play life than the main game. If you can actually find two copies of Snoopy Magic Show, it is well worth checking out the two player option.
Replay Value 5/5
Although the main game is a lot of fun the first time through, it doesn't stand up as well to repeated play. The Vs. Mode, however, is great, and the replay value for it is significantly higher. Even when the game was new though, it was hard to find people who owned it, and it would be near impossible now. So, I have to say that the replay for Snoopy Magic Show is significantly low.
Overall Rating 6/10
While often bland and wholly forgettable in the design and sound departments, the gameplay of Snoopy Magic Show is fun and frantic. The first play through of this game is a great and unique experience for Peanuts fans and action puzzle buffs alike, but it fails to stand up to further gameplay, unless you manage to find someone else who has the game. However, even a great two player mode can't save this game from falling into the realm of mediocrity.
If you are a fan of Snoopy or of Peanuts in general, Snoopy Magic Show will be a welcome addition to your collection of memorabilia, but as a game, it is a much less desirable collectors piece. If you are into action puzzles reminiscent of The Adventures of Lolo, I would highly recommend checking this game out, but it would be advisable to play it before you purchase it. It is a decent game that is good for some but definitely not for everyone.
There is very little that I can add to what has already been said, but to put it all in a nutshell: Snoopy Magic Show is a fairly decent and fun puzzle game that suffers only from a lack of effort on the part of the creators.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 08/11/05
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