Growing up on Nintendo, I never understood what made Sega great. Perhaps the outward appearance as “the house that Sonic built” hid their appeal from me, as I was never one for the blue blur. It wasn’t until much later that I understood Sega’s genius. Behind the in your face badditude of their mascot was a company that took risks. Crazy risks. In a creative sense Nintendo could go toe to toe with Sega, however, Nintendo had the finances to bounce back from any missteps. In retrospect, Sega was incredibly daring, and I make sure to support that side of them to atone for my past ignorance.
My first opportunity came with Feel The Magic, a launch title for the Nintendo DS. For me, it was the launch title. As cool as Super Mario 64 DS was, FTM backed up the weird and wonderful claims my new piece of hardware intended to be. A peek at the game’s manual spoke to this fact.
It’s hard to believe now that something like yelling into your handheld was ever new (or enjoyable), but Feel The Magic brought it to the forefront, all without asking first (the Brain Age series seems so progressive in this respect, as it asked if you were in a quiet spot before forcing you to scream at DS).
This blurb is for those who somehow managed to get through the game without the use of the stylus. It first lets you know why you may be doing terribly, then fills you in on just where the little bit of plastic that will change your life is located.
While I’d be hard up to defend my praise as anything but nostalgia, I do believe there is a place for that type of love. Playing FTM now is difficult, its uneven difficulty being its largest problem, but I can’t ignore its creativity. While the DS was plagued with minigame collections, Sonic Team’s launch day effort remained the best. It had heart, in every sense of the word.
For as diverse as video games are, it still seems quite rare for one to be built around the story of love. I’m happy playing Feel The Magic, and not strictly from enjoyment. It’s nice to see such an odd tale of romance play out, and while there’s the presence of a damsel in distress, just as much time is spent wooing the girl of your dreams. I’m not sure if there’s any distaste over these attempts at winning her over, as her affection tends to build through your ability to impress her, but the fact remains that you’re being kind to another person. Any chance to step away from the world of bang bang shooty is appreciated.
Romance is only half of what made the game so risky. This isn’t your typical tale of course, and Sonic Team went above and beyond to tell it. The game’s visuals make the biggest impression, with its cast just a few accessories away from simple silhouettes. Unfortunately, some of the minigames make use of these odd, loose limbed characters that don’t quite gel with the rest of the work. The minigames play a role in the narrative as well, most often charging us with removing our lovelorn hero from the pickle he’s found himself in.
Of course, it’s only natural that these situations meet the absurdity we’ve witnessed everywhere else. Along your adventure you’ll escape an antlion, help someone regurgitate a fish, burn a giant Venus Flytrap to death, and crash into pedestrians and use them as live ammo for your vehicular catapult. Akin to Rhythm Thief & The Emperor’s Treasure, a recent 3DS game that definitely shares some DNA with FTM, not all the games are hits, but those that succeed are very enjoyable. While I don’t mind the game’s brevity, it regrettably attempts to lengthen itself with some events overstaying their welcome. It’s a misstep, but one the team remedied in the game’s successor, The Rub Rabbits! (which I’ll be covering very shortly!).
The game’s length comes up as an issue as far as recommending the game goes. I’m fine with an experience, no matter how short, so long as I’ve had fun. And Feel The Magic is a very fun game. Perhaps I’m foolish with my income, but the cash I put out is the last thing I think about when the credits roll. There’s something about FTM‘s minigames that make them more enjoyable when part of the full experience. I honestly don’t get much out of them when played on their own. Few allow for any sort of high score attempts, so it doesn’t lend itself well to that kind of replay. It’s a game I can get through in just a few sittings, and I consider that part of its charm.
While Sega may not be the daring publisher it once was, it’s fun to reach back to those times when the company partnered its creative spirit with just as imaginative a device as the DS was.