Look, but don't touch.
A title can be worth a thousand words, but in the case of Sega's Feel the Magic XY:XX, it's worth a thousand songs. In the past two months, I have written over fifteen hundred choruses for the Feel the Magic theme song. Most of them include awful lines like, "Hold the passion of love in your mind!" and "Rise on up, to ignite your destiny!"
I can't help it. It's just such a stupid title. When I hear the phrase "Feel the Magic," I am compelled to pen terrible mid-1980's song lyrics in the vein of Journey, Loverboy orPhil Collins about the "mysterious wonders of feverish desire." Wait, I gotta write that one down, too.
Unfortunately, writing bad songs to compete with the preposterous title Feel the Magic XY:XX turns out to be much more fun than actually playing this tech demo disguised as a video game. Then again, writing bad songs is more fun than a lot of things.
The premise of this bizarre bit of binary is easily as odd as its name. You play a nameless, faceless guy who falls in love with a nameless, faceless girl. As luck would have it, she barely knows you exist, so you enlist the aid of the Rub Rabbits, a "Super Performance Group" made up of silhouettes wearing bunny ears, which helps you win your love's affection by urging you to engage in ridiculous activities in order to impress her. This includes thwarting an overweight rival's repeated attempts to kidnap her.
"Takin' it to the mountaintop, with excellence by our siiiide!" Sorry, couldn't resist.
You might as well forget the absurd plot because it has no bearing whatsoever on the actual gameplay of Feel of The Magic XY:XX. In the game's Story mode, you are hurled through scene after scene of a distinctly Japanese drama by way of a bunch of mini-games. It's a little like the great GBA Warioware game, but not as cool.
Each mini-game is introduced by a freaky, esoteric intro sequence that explains the current situation. Then you're tossed into all manner of goofy game, most of which use the stylus and the DS touch screen. The guy will accidentally swallow some goldfish and you'll have to rub them back out. The guy will barrel down a road in a shopping cart and you'll have to rub debris out of his way. The girl will suddenly be swarmed with scorpions and you'll have to poke them off.
There are loads of other things to do with the stylus. You'll lead the guy down a curvy path as he rides on a unicycle, type numbers on a calculator to save parachuters, tap frantically at bulls rampaging towards the screen, and even hold your love's hand while swatting away bees trying to sting her. It's like a Palm Pilot on acid.
Things get creepier in the games that use the microphone instead of the touch screen. You'll holler into the DS to get the girl's attention, which is weird enough, but pales next to the game that requires you to blow into the mic to propel a little sailboat in order to save the girl from drowning. Yep, blowing into the DS. It's a strange feeling watching a digital object react to your exhale and a great window into the future of gaming, maybe.
"Can you taste the pleasures of the night?" Man, I'm on some kind of roll!
The thing is, none of the games are particularly fun. The touch screen functionality is more gimmicky than entertaining, and while blowing out a digital candle is a cool trick, it is not a cool, challenging gameplay concept.
Tying it all together is a graphical style best described as photo-negative, minimalist 60's expressionism. The characters are simply black shadows with no defining features like eyes, mouths or lips aside from blue outlines. The ridiculous plot plays out through stylish little stills, while the in-game action is surprisingly smooth. Given, it isn't really that impressive smoothing out visuals comprised of about 10 colors.
The sound matches the graphics, mostly in the form of odd little grooves. I think they could have been done better, of course, if they had hired a certain editor to write the songs, but I guess that just means I'll have to keep my genius to myself.
Unfortunately, for all its quirky flair and insane story, Feel The Magic doesn't provide much long-term fun or lasting appeal. You'll breeze through the Story in a day, after which you can play any mini-game again in the Memories mode or play dress up with the girl in the misnamed Maniac mode, which is anything but maniacal. Most of the games are shallower than those dorky Flash diversions you'll find while surfing the web, but these actually cost money. There's very little strategy to any of it and very little reason to keep coming back to this art project other than to show your friends how weird it is.
Instead, save yourself some cash and just tell them to read this review, unless you're dying to feel the magic of an empty wallet. A weird idea and plenty of kitsch value doesn't make for a good game, although it certainly makes for one helluva song.