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December 16, 2013

Master Of Illusion (Part 2)

Hello, and welcome back to Great Nicolas' Magic! Er... I meant, welcome back to this review of Master of Illusion! Last time, I could only talk about the Solo Magic section, which was a bit on the “meh” side, but now we're hitting the core of this game: The magic tricks you can do yourself! In the past two days, I've practiced the other magic tricks in this game, and I can assure you; Whenever I describe a trick, you will be unable to guess how the game was programmed to do that! Or, well, I'll try to hide the trick the best I can... Now, picture that a Nintendo DS magically appears in front of me. Are you ready? Let's continue, then!

Warning: The next images might reveal some secrets if you
look veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery closely.

You know, while I'm at it, I should explain another thing about this game. You see, when you do a magic trick, once it's over, you can choose whether it was a rehearsal or a show you gave to an audience. If you picked the former, nothing happens. If you picked the latter, you gain 1 “Performance Point”, I guess that's what they're called. You also have a level that is assigned to you; it increases at every few Performance Points you get, to a maximum of 10. Level 10 just happens to be Legendary Magician. Pfft! As if I was worth a David Copperfield or a Houdini! Hell no, I'm barely worth one thousandth of such great stage magicians. I see this game thinks of itself highly! Okay, back to describing the tricks.

Mystic Hand: I ask my audience to draw a hand on the bottom screen; It must be drawn with a single line. After which I ask the public what they want most: Wealth, Love or Dream. Whichever is the one they pick, I tap the bottom screen... and the hand they have drawn goes to grab exactly what they said.

Magician's Command: With the stylus, I set the pretty girl on the table, and then I ask the audience to clap their hands near the microphone to transform her. Hey, it's not working for them! I don't understand why; after all, when I do it, it works perfectly! No, really! The woman transforms into a sleeping lion, a monkey, a tiger, a bear on a balloon, an elephant, a cougar and a giraffe before turning back! And of course, each time my audience tries, they are unable to.

Card Fortune: I let a member of the audience pick a card in my pack. Of course, I know which it is, thanks to the hint hidden on the back. When I proceed to the next screen, I ask the person his/her gender and his/her marital status. Okay, I don't really have to ask for the gender, but I still have to ask for the marital status. After that, I ask the person about his or her zodiac sign. I tap the answer. Once this is done, a crystal ball appears on the bottom screen. And inside it... The person's card! Amazing, isn't it?

Genius Dog: My audience selects three items on a selection of nine (six of which are coins – yeah, very creative). I then ask which one of those three do they want a dog to go fetch. When their answer is given, a pup appears on the bottom screen. I command him verbally to go get the object... and he does! You really got to wonder how a program obeyed so well to my voice, huh?

Funny Face: I ask someone else from the audience to pick a card. Once again, I know which one the person picked... What do I do for this trick? I draw a head on the bottom screen. Yeah, eyes, nose, mouth and a circle that surrounds them. Not necessarily in this order. To that person's amazement, once I'm done drawing, the face speaks... and says exactly which card they picked! Even the game is in on the secrets!

Love Tester: Not quite a magic trick, but it's in there, so I gotta describe it. Basically, the bottom screen has two circles. Two different people each put a thumb on one of the circles, and then you start the mini-game. This will detect how much those two people are compatible. Yep, a lame love tester... Really, one of the worst tricks in this game. The only trick is that you will decide of the results, whether they're high or low.

Wise Eyes: I ask someone from the audience to hand me a little item they own, and put it somewhere around the DS (either North, South, East or West of it). Then, I ask that person to draw eyes on the bottom screen. Once the eyes are drawn, I ask the eyes to point where the item is. Well, they do! Thanks, microphone!

Enigmatic Egg: I let someone pick a card among eight cards. I put that card back with the other seven and shuffle them. On the bottom screen, an egg appeared. It has the ability to know what the cards are. I tap it, after which I invite the person to tap the egg once with the first card; of course, the person must tap the egg while only seeing the back of the card. If the egg doesn't hatch, the person must continue with the second card. And so on, until the egg hatches. A cute chicken comes out with a banner saying “It's your card!”. Guess what? It's the person's card!

Aaaaaaaaaw. This is so cute! Now, do me a trick!
Or you'll be in a cage, like the rabbit from Presto!
Magic Guy: Wait, another magician on the bottom screen? Holding a deck of cards? Oh, right. I let another audience member pick a card. I tap the screen once so that the magician will send the cards in his top hat. I tap again, and a bunny comes out from the top hat. I tap again, and ta-daa! The bunny reveals a card, which is exactly the one picked by the audience member! Hurray!

Ghost Writer: Not to be mistaken with Ghost Rider. Once again, a card is picked by someone from the audience. That person then draws a stylus. Following that, you take your stylus back, and when you speak to the DS... IT REPLIES by writing with the stylus! I discuss with it for a very short moment – it can only exchange two sentences... I ask “Are you ready?”, the DS says yes, and finally I ask the DS which card it is. Guess what? The stylus the audience member drew writes down the kind and number of the card!

Blank Card: The trickiest one to learn (pun intended), Blank Card is hard enough that you'll even amaze yourself when you get it right. It's so hard to learn that you can train it outside of the magic trick! Once again, I let an audience ember pick a card in the deck. After which, I draw a rectangle on the bottom screen, one line at a time. When the rectangle is finished, it reveals itself to be the back of a card... and when it flips, it's exactly the card picked by the person! Holy wow!

Cell Phone Surprise: And we close this magic show with another rather lame trick. Remember Deep Psyche? The Solo Magic trick with numbers? It's basically the same, except you choose the 10-digit number that will ALWAYS be the result. Why 10-digit number? Why, your cell phone number! The audience member types his or her cell phone number on the screen, then answers some questions, and the results lead to the number YOU chose to put in there. Also, if you try this trick with a girl, and she calls your cell phone, Barbara (who hosts this trick) will say “If it's a handsome man, leave him to me!” Er.... Eeyew...

Well, that's it for the magic tricks you can learn in this game. Yep, only 14. If you can actually make a half-hour show with this, I will need to be invited. I want to see that happen. You could also technically add the Solo Magic tricks to make your act longer... Now that I think of it, I should also talk about the Magic Training. It contains 10 choices that you can play to make your magic better. Apparently. Well, let's take a look at those.

Monte Carlo

Mirrored Letters
Corner Kittens: You must put all the cards in their regular order, but you only have four empty spaces to do that.
Monte Carlo: 25 cards are set on the bottom screen in a 5X5 grid. You must pair up two cards with the same number; the two cards must touch each other, even if diagonally. As you remove cards, more cards come up. The idea is to clear them all from the bottom screen. It's a very fun game, and the chances of winning are much higher than they are for Corner Kittens.
Daily Horoscope: All 12 figures, all four Aces and the Joker are placed in a 4X4 grid on the table, with an extra card on the side. Flip the card, and the game puts it where it goes on the grid. Keep going until the Joker appears. The results depend on the cards and their symbol; each symbol represents something from the horoscope (Health, Wealth, Romance and Work). The game pretends to tell your fortune this way.
Blank Card Lesson: Yep, this trick is so hard that you have to practice it here! Not kidding. Luckily, you get the instructions as you practice. This mini-game makes you play this for 5 different cards.
Mirrored Letters Level 1, 2 and 3: Three of this mode's selections are this exercise called Mirrored Letters. Basically, you have letters that appear on the top screen... and you must re-draw them on the bottom screen, in MIRRORED version. It's really hard, but it does practice logical thinking. But was it really necessary to split it in three different exercises?
Internal Clock 10, 30, 60 seconds: In this game, you must test your internal clock. Tap once to start the game, then tap once at every second. The closest you are to the true time, the best your score is. The 60 seconds version is especially difficult.

And... That's pretty much it for this game. There's the More section, which is just additional stuff, like Magician Tips, Card Choices, Magic Points, Secrets of the deck of cards you got with the game, a place to check your best rank for the 10 mini-games in Magic Training, A microphone test, an option to turn off the game's main music, and finally the credits. Yaaaaaaaaay.

Well, I think that's all I can say about this game. Let's wrap this up. Final words on Master of Illusion? I think it's fine. The Solo Magic section is fine, a few of the tricks in that section are pretty good, but the others are either boring or just lame. At least, for those, you cannot guess the trick to all of them. Some stay genuinely surprising. As for the Magic Show section, not only it's the main attraction, it's really the best part. When you learn the tricks, you learn some programming tidbits about the game – such as how the buttons are programmed to make the trick come to life. The little anime-style pictures are neat, and learning the trick is made easy thanks to precise information. You can even get help about the trick DURING the trick! Of course, it's well hidden. You wouldn't want your audience to find those out. Some of the tricks require more practice, which is why there's the Rehearsal option once you've done a trick. Some of the tricks you'll do will also surprise you the first time you actually succeed in doing them. The Magic Training section is okay, but it seems to rely more on two major mini-games, and then others based around cards. Also, I'd say the Magician Level thing was really unnecessary. Did we really need a level to measure how talented you've become with those tricks?

The music in the game ranges from good to meh, and it really depends on the trick. The “hub” zone where you pick an option has music that will get annoying after a while. The art style also changes between tricks, and some of the art is very pretty. However, some of the tricks are done over a nearly blank bottom screen with, sometimes, very little on the top screen as well. It's not always a problem, but it can be one for a few tricks.

It's really nice that you get a special deck of cards with this game, and the magic tricks that require cards are among the best; but one could argue that it's really not that important. It is used for more than half the tricks, too. The downside is that the behind of the cards lets you see which card it is; as such, you can't use the deck to play normal card games with your friends. They'll eventually notice that a tiny bit of the motif is different on every card. Also, I hope you can get an audience frequently, because this game works better when you can actually show your tricks to friends. Would you be able to? That's a big question, huh? What would you do, travel around with a DS, the cartridge and your deck of special cards, and hope that someone will want to be amazed?

Last but not least, the character. Barbara, poor Barbara. If you had been drawn differently, I'd have accepted you better, If you weren't the stereotype of the magician's assistant, the one who isn't known for her personality. So many things are wrong about her; we see her do magic only once, so her talent is only an informed ability. And even then, her only magic trick is the phone numbers one. We never find out more about her personality. And aside from that, she's only the one who welcomes you into the game and congratulates you when you do something well! That's it! I heard that she appears in other games, but I don't know which ones aside from Brawl, in which she rocked... sorta.

I KNEW I had seen her there! I knew it! ...I still have no idea what she is...

I know I've been very negative against this game in the past 3 or 4 paragraphs, but actually, it's not so bad. If you set aside the problem of finding an audience, training the magic tricks can be very fun. I suppose you WILL have a good time with this game. I know I did, no matter how much I badmouthed it. Learning to do magic tricks also brings a lot of other things you learn at the same time: You learn to act just enough to be fun, but not too much as to lose your credibility; you learn to play on words to hide some of the truths behind the tricks; you learn to be discreet with the tricks; and lastly, you will also learn that magic can be done even through machines, as surprising as that might be.

Just like how, for a moment, I imagined you, reader, as my audience as I did those tricks.