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Handily poking fun at classic spell-flinging RPGs, Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet delivers a very silly iPad fantasy adventure full of tongue-in-cheek antics and self-referential humor. It blends side-scrolling brawling with puzzle-like spell mixology in a fun and fresh way that's not lacking in chaos or comedy. Cobbling together all manner of elemental wizardry – to blast inventive foes swarming in from all directions – gets a bit hectic in the heat of battle, but it's a craziness that's fueled by creativity as you piece together spells on the fly.
The cartoonish campaign follows a band of colorfully robed wizards marauding through the countryside, causing mayhem amongst the monstrous tenants. From pestilent swamps to sunny beaches, there's a great variety of terrain to fight across, and numerous side quests offer additional opportunities to bulk up on coins needed for awesome staves, robes, familiars, and other loot for your magical miscreant.
Magicka is fun as a solo affair, but you can also recruit up to three other robed pals for online co-op adventure, assuming you don't mind a little mischievous friendly fire. Much like in the classic arcade brawlers of days long past, the 2D stages push you from one end to the other, grinding up a wild medley of evil beasts to fill your coffers. But instead of thwomping them over the noggin, your preferred form of punishment comes in the form of spells that are strung together in different combinations and create tons of varied effects.
Tapping different elemental orbs on the screen in certain patterns weaves together blasts of lightning, jets of flame, icy spikes, and other cool effects. The order and type of elements you select can completely change a spell, making for a load of variety, plus it takes on a cool puzzle element as you work to defeat creatures that have different elemental immunities and weaknesses. It's a great, well-crafted system that manages to feel both fresh and familiar.
The bottom line. A clever spell system, great cartoon visuals, and loads of humor make Magicka's side-scrolling spell brawling a real treat.
iPad running iOS 5.1 or later
Loads of humor. Great visual style. Puzzle-like spell brawls are well done.
Stringing spells together when you're surrounded gets stressful.