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The Bust-a-Move, bubble-popping formula easily makes a great fit for the iOS platform, but few developers have done much in the way of sprucing up the experience. Supermagical from Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, however, packs a solid punch into the genre with excellent gameplay twists and oodles of trinkets to collect. Wrapped snuggly within a cute and surprisingly funny adventure, Supermagical is a refreshing compromise between console-style and casual gameplay.

You play as Nina, a good witch who sets out to defeat her seven evil sisters (based on the “seven deadly sins”) who have unleashed hordes of “minix” into the world. Like the bubbles of Bust-a-Move and other similar games, you’ll launch candy of the same color at the minix to match three or more of a kind and destroy rows of enemies. The basics are old hat, but Supermagical piles on a host of cool features to shake up the gameplay in some very entertaining ways.

Supermagical turns the screen on its back, forcing you to shoot at the minix horizontally. Aiming is simple and precise, and you can switch out candy (at a cost) to make matching easier. There are various types of missions, including boss fights against your sisters where you’ll need to answer questions correctly in order to progress; if communications breaks down, your sisters will engage you in a bubble battle.

Each time you defeat one of your siblings, you’ll be rewarded with a new warlock who will join your party. You can bring up two warlocks into each battle, and their powers range from defeating all minix of a certain color, to pushing back an entire army of baddies. Using your warlocks, however, requires magic soda, so you’ll need to carefully plan your strategies, especially in the latter levels of the game.

Supermagical is littered with secrets, including bags of gold strewn about the outskirts of each mission and hidden levels that require a bit of noodling around. Additionally, you’ll encounter routine mini-games that allow you to earn extra loot by playing through a game of Concentration.

After you complete each mission, a shop will open up where you can buy special gear, candy, and ingredients to brew new magic back at your castle. Unfortunately, the prices of items are relatively high, and the game never warns you of the costs to unlock new areas. It’s the one true bump in the road, and players will likely want to hang onto their cash until after they’ve purchased all the necessary items to progress through the game.

For a buck, Supermagical’s presentation is completely top-shelf. The visuals are lush, and the music is mesmerizing. All of the character sprites are adorably detailed, and the overworld is a delight to explore. Minor touches such as birds flying overhead and a sea dragon swimming off in the distance add wonderful beauty to the overall adventure. The dialogue is smart and funny, bringing the entire package together in a meaningful way.

With its assortment of tweaks and gameplay additions, as well as a story that evolves with Nintendo-esque pacing, Supermagical manages to feel like a whole lot more than merely another casual novelty. Unwitting travelers may find themselves needing to grind if they go on an early spending spree, but the match-three formula is fun enough to wade through this one minor woe. Amazing music and visuals, solid pacing, and ample gameplay variety – this is one hefty app for the asking price.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in August 2008.

Gentle persuasion

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