Android App Video Review: Magic Portals

by Andrew Koziara

There are plenty of physics puzzlers with simple gameplay in the Android Market, but they are often very derivative and uninspired. Magic Portals from Asantee is an exception to this rule, and despite being very amateur looking in appearance, what lies beneath the surface of this game is a rather charming puzzle platformer experience.

The game utilizes portals in simple yet inventive ways, and it's full of pleasant surprises. This isn't to say that it is without flaws, of course. Not by a long shot. Still, I had an unexpectedly good time with this one.

I'll just get the obvious comparison out of the way. Yes, the game is pretty much Portal with a 2D side-scrolling coat of paint. This is by no means an insult though, as the portal mechanics work quite well. You simply tap the screen anywhere to send a portal there, and tap somewhere else to create its sibling. You can only move left and right in this game with no jump function whatsoever, so all vertical movement must be done through portals. You can also teleport objects like boxes and boulders, and there are various creatures in the land that affect your portals differently. Those blue blobs will reflect your portal like a mirror, and the red ones will keep you from forming a portal in their projected zone. The game utilizes switches, box pushing, and many other commonplace gaming tropes, but reforms them to fit its unique style of gameplay.

When I first downloaded this game, it was very plain and didn't boast many features. By the time it came up in my review list, I noticed that a level scoring system, collectible diamonds, and even bosses were added in updates. Beating a level in as few portals as possible and getting every diamond adds a level of replayability that the game desperately needed. This also shows that the developers are serious about improving and updating their games, which they've already done in huge strides. There are currently two chapters with just over 60 levels, and promises for more levels in the future.

Some of the art is admittedly very plain or amateurish, but I was pleasantly surprised by the impressive lighting effects, primarily in the second chapter, which features very dark levels. I only wish it was optimized for tablet devices. The music and sound effects aren't bad either. Honestly though, this game is rather short. It's also not very difficult, and you'll breeze through it fairly quickly. Despite the various technical flaws and general shortcomings, this is a title that the new studio seems to care about, and at only one dollar, It's definitely worth a download. You could always take the free version for a spin, too.

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