As promised last month, Paradox Interactive and mobile developer Ludosity have teamed up to deliver a little cross-platform Magicka mayhem for the iPhone and Android. Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet is nowhere near as deep and destructively satisfying as its PC inspiration, but it's got the right idea. the right idea, by the way, is killing your friends with magic.
Consider this Magicka: The Animated series, a 2D side-scrolling representation of the hit PC action-adventure. The wry (well, sometimes wry) humor is completely intact. There are robed wizards, and they combine different elements to create magic spells. There are creatures with vulnerabilities and resistances to these elements, calling for carefully considered combinations of convocations to make them stop appearing on the screen.
Sacrifices had to be made for the mobile format. there aren't as many spell combinations. Three elements — arcane, steam and ice — did not make the cut. And then there's the whole side-scrolling thing, which works well on tablets but leaves me yearing to break free of those rectangular limits and roam free, discovering Easter eggs and setting things on fire.
Overall it's a kinder, gentler single-player experience, which isn't what I was looking for. But who plays Magicka for the single-player anyway?
This mobile Magicka, like the full game, is best played in small, flammable groups. Connecting to up to three other players across both iPad and Android platforms is a simple affair, and within seconds you can break free of single-player monotony and dive head-first into the glorious sea of "oops, my lighting bolt didn't see you there." The inherent imprecision of touch-screen controls work to the game's advantage in multiplayer, as your pals (or total strangers) can never really tell if you're targeting them on purpose (yes) or hitting them accidentally (also yes).
In Magicka: Wizards of the Square Tablet, sharing is caring. If you're not planning to share your destructive elemental forces with your fellow player, you probably not going to care.