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Magic Carpet – Sega Saturn

Magic Carpet – Sega Saturn

Magic CarpetPlatform: Sega Saturn

Developer: Bullfrog

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release Date (NA): 1996

Genre: 3D Shooter, First-Person Shooter

Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed by NerdBerry

Well, I forgot I had this game listed for sale on Amazon for the last year and some. So when I got a notification that my item had sold, I was a little torn. Part of me was happy to be getting some money in my account! Part of me was upset because I really don’t like getting rid of my collection (especially Sega Saturn games, which are hard to find). And another part of me wanted to cancel the sale! But regardless of which direction part of my scattered personality is pulling me, maybe it’s time I take a ride on this Bullfrog title.

Magic Carpet saw a release on the PC (DOS), Sony PlayStation, and the Sega Saturn, with the computer version being one of the most highly recognized ports. Magic Carpet saw a considerable amount of enthusiastic press coverage from gaming magazines Computer Gaming World and Computer Game Review but failed to really capture an audience, as the technical specs needed for optimal gameplay were out of reach for most gamers. This resulted in poor sales, but oddly enough the game continued receiving praise. It was later released for the PlayStation and Saturn, except without multiplayer options, which was often viewed as one of the best features of the DOS version.

magic-carpetMagic Carpet kicks off with a storybook introduction featuring a narrator flipping through a book until the last page fades from a paper image to the reality of the game. An Arabian-looking sorcerer of sorts is in his tiny home and is forced to leave before a dragon destroys him. Using magic, he puts life into the carpet on his floor and flies away with great haste, casting fireballs at the dragon while narrowly avoiding its own flaming breath.

The introduction is an interesting, albeit pointless, part of the game as a whole. The purpose of the game is to fly around on your magic carpet in your quest to rule Arabia. You will battle mythical beasts and evil wizards with an arsenal of powerful spells. Not only do you have the power and control over your spells (24 different spells in all), but these spells carry a different amount of strength and weight. Some of your lesser spells allow you to cast lightning, launch meteors, and shoot fireballs, while your more extreme spells allow for terrain-altering control, such as creating volcanoes, earthquakes, and meteor craters. The spell system is a fun way to add some more creative control to a seemingly standard and straightforward game.

magic_carpetThe purpose of Magic Carpet can often be confusing; you are essentially thrown into this Arabian world with no clue as to what you are supposed to do. There is no tutorial or assistance with button controls. While fiddling with the buttons and learning how to move around in this world, enemies will begin attacking you. I think throwing someone in the deep-end can SOMETIMES be useful, but not in this game. It is downright frustrating trying to master this oddball control scheme with no assistance from the developers.

There are 70 different levels in the game, but the frustrating part is that they all take place in the same environment. There is little to no variety in setting, considering the fact that you have 70 levels, but different levels do take place in different areas of the map, so there is still SOME variety. In these various levels you will battle a multitude of monsters, each with their own unique set of skills. This combination of deadly monsters with increasing difficulty, not to mention truly challenging control schemes, makes for one hell of a hard game.

The controls in Magic Carpet prove that this game was originally a computer game, as the handling is not at all favorable for the Saturn Controller. This game does not utilize the 3D Control Pad, but it wouldn’t have made a difference at all as 2 joysticks would have been the best way to control your mage in this 3D environment. Up and Down on the d-pad make your character go forward and backward, respectively, while X and C make your character go up and down in the 3D world, respectively. L and R will make you slide left and right, respectively. The other 4 buttons are used for various other tasks, such as pulling up your list of spells and utilizing that spell. While your spell menu is pulled up, however, you are forced to use the d-pad to scroll through your spells and will be vulnerable to attacks from the enemies as you can’t control your movements. Overall, this control scheme is confusing and, well, simply put… Awful.

magic carpet monster

Let’s remember that Magic Carpet was made in 1994 and ported to the Saturn in 1996. For a game in the mid-90s, the graphics were exceptional and revolutionary. There was little to no comparison in graphical quality, even on the powerful 3DO Interactive Multiplayer gaming system! The Saturn was a strong system for its time, and it showcased that power exceptionally well with Magic Carpet 2Magic Carpet. The 3D environment was marvelous and richly textured/detailed. The ability to move freely in a 3D world was still a fairly new concept for gaming, and the only real comparison I have for it is Cybermorph for the Atari Jaguar – except Cybermorph was NEVER a good game and was NEVER popular or award-winning.

Magic Carpet is difficult to define as it is wildly unique, even today. But maybe the best genre to slap on this title is first-person shooter and/or 3D shooter. There are some elements in Magic Carpet that are very unique, even 20 years later, such as your ability to cast a spell that erects a castle from the ground where you can store your mana. As you advanced in the game, you could continue building onto that castle, even putting guards on post to attack the evil forces trying to steal your mana from your castle! These most closely resemble the RTS genre. This crossover of multiple genres really make for a one-of-a-kind experience, but the primitive graphics and controls make it extremely difficult to get into Magic Carpet on the Sega Saturn.

magic carpet volcanoFor a game that is 20 years old, Magic Carpet is really starting to show its age. The beautiful graphics we spoke about don’t hold up to the current-generation games on the market right now. Pair the aging graphics with a hard-to-handle control scheme and we’re left with a fully antiquated game with little to no enjoyable experiences. In fact, the only enjoyable aspect is the “3D Fractal worlds that morph in real time,” as the game case so strongly advertises. Casting a spell that causes the landscape in front of you to morph entirely and erupt into an exploding volcano was one of the best moments in the game.

While Magic Carpet is now available for download on the PlayStation Network on PlayStation 3, I’m wondering if there’s something I don’t get about this game. I can’t quite grasp my mind around what could possibly make it enjoyable in today’s world of gaming. I’ll be the first one to take myself back in time to play a game from the 80s and 90s, and many of the cartoony games are still fun today. Since nearly all current games are 3D, playing the 2D games of old makes them different from the games of late. But during this changing landscape from 2D to 3D games in the early/mid-90s, too many games suffer from pixilated and blocky environments and just can’t stand the test of time. Magic Carpet is no exception, and please heed my warnings when I tell you that this game is not quite as enjoyable now as the mid-90s reviews might have you believe. Fetching a cool price for a complete copy on Amazon, you’ll be spending more money than you’ll be getting back in enjoyment.

Magic Carpet 4

Magic Carpet does deserve a fair amount of credit for the achievements it made in its day. While these graphics don’t stand up to today’s standards, they do stand up exceptionally well compared to nearly any game of its time on any system. For that reason, credit is due. It’s not all so bad either, and I may have been a little harsh before. The utilization and integration of multiple genres is still something to behold. And you might enjoy the free-roaming nature of Magic Carpet and the large variety of spells at your disposal. Especially the spells that let you control the terrain. There’s also a sequel for DOS on the PC, and from what I’ve heard, it made great strides to fix the issues of the first game while still maintaining the same charm and enjoyment.

Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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