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Nintendo DS Review: Master of Illusion

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When Nintendo came out with Master of Illusion, I wasn’t impressed very much. A DS game that lets you “learn magic?” Pfffffffft. Sounded dumb.

After getting my hands on the game and playing it, Master of Illusion is a fun game, but one limited by tethering the magic to the DS. Sure, the DS can do some crazy things, but anyone with a little bit of gaming expertise will tell you that most of the tricks are simply just programmed in.

Three modes of game play are available to you from the beginning: Solo Magic, Magic Show, and Magic Training. All three modes let you earn points that allow you to unlock more tricks and games. Magic Training features brain-training-like games, such as Monte Carlo, that really don't do much to actually help you train for magic… at all.

Second, you've got Solo Magic, which is full of magic tricks just for you to enjoy in all their single-player fun… but they never really tell you how the trick is done. Some are more bluntly obvious than others, but it would've been nice to learn some of the better tricks. Plus, they get boring after a while because they're always the same.

Lastly, there's Magic Show, the main feature and saving grace of Master of Illusion. Here, you'll not only learn the tricks, but get to perform them for friends. Like Solo Magic, these are heavily reliant on the DS, but some games do work by themselves using the trick card deck that comes with the game. Magic Show's teach and perform style is actually what the game should've been all about.

The DS controls are used fully here-in. Stylus? Check. Touch screen? Check. Mic? Check. Face buttons? Check. Nothing is left untouched by Master of Illusion, but most of the time, you'll be using the touch screen and mic to do direct controlling. Face buttons are only used to change triggers in some of the tricks.

Graphics-wise, this isn’t too intensive of a game. Since it’s intended for more general audiences, and because… well, it’s a game about magic, simpler is a bit better. And these simple graphics don’t look bad at all, as they’re smooth. The music is so-so, it's not very remarkable but it’s enough to get the job done. There’s no multiplayer here, unless you count showing your friends as other players.

In the end, Master of Illusion is more of a mixture of a brain-trainer and a “magic-trainer.” What you’ll get out of it is fun, but don’t expect to impress your gaming friends with this, because they’ll figure out the secrets quickly.

Pros: Some fun to be had here. Teaches you a few new tricks…

Cons: …but doesn’t teach you a whole lot. Many of the tricks are also tethered to the DS, too.

Master of Illusion is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Suggestive Themes.

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About Brian Szabelski