Magic Piano from Smule is a breath of fresh air

by Michael Ian

From the minds of the popular Songify app comes one of the most unexpectedly beautiful musical experience to appear on the mobile platform. While you won’t be serenading women with candles and moving sonatas, Magic Piano comes very close. Taking the same basic formula that made Guitar Hero and Rock Band a national phenomenon, Magic Piano is a clever take on the genre. Even with no prior piano experience, Magic Piano frees the inner Mozart inside everyone.

Magic Piano wastes no time in training you to be the ultimate pianist. Right from the start, you’re tasked in playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” which acts as a tutorial for the game. It’s not exactly “Moonlight Sonata” but it’s a great start. While the song is brief and easy, this intro paints the basic underlying of the game. In no time you’ll find yourself belting out “Fur Elise.”

Gameplay in Magic Piano is simple. As notes scroll down from the screen players will have to tap the screen as it passes through a yellow light. Unlike most musical games, Magic Piano does not rely on precise touch presses. As long as you’re within the range of the scrolling notes, you’ll still accumulate points. Also unique to this game is the way it handles missed single keys. Players who mistakenly skip a note will find that the music will stop and wait until your next input. This gives the sense of playing an authentic piano instead of just tapping the screen to the beat of the music.

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Playing the Magic Piano actually feels like being behind a wooden Steinway piano. Players can control the tempo of the music depending on how fast they tap on the screen. The developers seem to encourage this and gives no penalty in doing so. As long as you’re not going overtly fast or slow, you can tap your heart away.

While it's certainly easy to get the hang of the game, mastering Magic Piano is another matter altogether. Difficulty is tied to each song (as it should be) however there’s no progress from easy to harder songs. Practice is key.

Magic Piano comes with a handful of songs. Though if you play frequently you’ll find yourself getting bored with them quickly. Thankfully the developers, Smule, release two free songs daily. Though the quality of these songs leave a bit to be desired (“O Canada” anyone?). As the game is free, Smule monetizes the app through in-game song purchases. If you want some quality songs, you’ll have to drop a few coins. Paid songs like “Clocks” complement the Magic Piano gameplay really well. Others like “Ghostbusters” are incredibly fun. In short, if you're looking to invest time into the game, dropping a few dollars will expand its replayability.

Magic Piano is a breath of fresh air. Sure you’ll find pop songs included in its song book, but ditching the cookie-cutter mechanics for something unique and intuitive makes this game new and exciting. If you’ve had enough of trying to be a Rock God, considering being a pianist instead.