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Magatama

version: asian (with jp/eng manual) - year: 2003 - developer: team breakout - publisher: microsoft - format: xbox - condition: mint - rarity: uncommon

The beautiful graphics are sure to have an impact on you!

 

Slice enemies by the hundreds!

 

The intricacies of your body tattoos are unbelievable

 

Monkan himself in his 1st form. Expect him to morph aspect mulitple times throughout your desperate quest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review - Magatama comes out from the offices of Microsoft Japan and is developed by the Japanese Team Breakout.

In an attempt to be closer to Japanese gamers, Microsoft wants to have games for the Xbox that are region specific and that suit the local gaming taste. Japan is a critical market because it is where the best console developers are. To ensure the Xbox's success in Japan would mean for Microsoft to be backed up by the most prestigious software houses of the console market...

I must admit that when I picked up Magatama, I didn't know much about it. I only had in mind the beautiful screenshots that I had seen online some time before. The opening screen is pretty nice and the music in there is somewhat reminiscent of Sengoku. A mix of traditional Japanese tunes and some tribal drums immediately set a peculiar mood.

Upon starting the game, I had the impression that I was going to play a straightforward action game similar to DevilMayCry. Well, Magatama is different from Capcom's masterpiece. Sure, there are the stylish combos to perform, and the camera angle is behind the hero's shoulders (although not fixed) just like in DMC. But Magatama doesn't have a linear development and stages are accessed through a main hub. That can be a bit confusing at first because some stages require you to have unlocked certain cut scenes before opening up.

Also, when a stage is completed, you will often have to go back at it at a later date because that is how the story unfolds. Navigation would have been much easier if all of the tips that Kureha gives were in English…(Kureha is a female character that follows you around in the hub).

Graphically, the characters are extremely well done. Their design is particularly convincing while their animation is smooth for the most part. When lengthy combos are performed, Shinato (who is the main character) moves flawlessly, slashing demons with a rarely seen elegance! The textures of the clothing, the tattoos etc are amazingly detailed and they just look cool. Levels tend to have nice graphics overall, in particular in the forest where trees, water and light are wonderfully reproduced.

It must be noted that some slowdown occurs when the screen gets very crowded though but that doesn't happen very often luckily.

Shinato is accompanied throughout his adventure by a mythical creature called Orochi. Orochi fluctuates peacefully around you and comes in handy when asked for help. It looks like a flying sting ray, and can be used in combination with your attacks for greater damage. Orochi also has a special "berserk attack" that is both very spectacular graphically and very destructive. Throughout the quest, it will be possible to upgrade Orochi's power by equipping it with Orbs of Influence that increase its power. These orbs are scattered in the levels and can be combined differently to obtain different elemental properties.

Towards the end of the game, I was battling a boss that seemed very tough but then I realized that I was probably fighting him with an elemental power that didn't hurt him much at all. So I had to switch the Orbs combination to find the opposite elemental power. By doing that, I was able to conclude the battle swiftly! What was annoying was that I had to restart the level because Orochi's Orbs can be switched only in the hub…how lame.

The music is extremely well done, catchy and atmospheric as it should. Some tunes are traditional Japanese stuff while there are some influences of New Age and even Techno music towards the end. The closing song that plays when the credits roll at the end is amazingly good as it is a fusion of folkloristic music, female choires and tribal beats. Actually, I wouldn't mind the soundtrack CD! Voice acting is all spoken in Japanese and the only thing I can say on it is that it is of very high standard. Magatama's gameplay is definitely old school. By that, I mean that at first, the difficulty level seems reasonable but by venturing deeper into the game, difficulty will increase almost exponentially…

Several times, I refused to accept the inner difficulty of certain situations because I thought "no, this can't be. I must be wrong. There is certainly another way to advance". But there wasn't any other way. For example, it took me about 5 hrs of attempts just to figure out one of the bosses pattern and to defeat it. I am talking about the phoenix which must be one of the toughest bosses of videogames history! (Now I am thinking that maybe I didn't have the right orbs equipped…too late!)

Add to the extreme difficulty a sometimes shaky camera that will fail you in the most critical moments, and you get the idea of what to expect.

Even with these negative aspects, Magatama is still a very decent game though!

Beware spoiler ahead! Anyway, right now I am supposedly at the last fight. Having gathered all of the "Mirrors of the 4 gods", I tried to fight the dark wizard Monkan who kidnapped Kureha but he kicked my ass and stole Orochi from me. That was the 1st part of the fight and I am not sure if it is possible to win against him at this point because he is exceedingly powerful and I don't have Orochi while he has an army of similar "pets". For the 2nd part, I had to face countless enemies. I died twice already in front of the last door separating me from him and I am beginning to think that this game must be impossible to finish. Every time I get killed, I get sent back at the beginning of the level where I am left there like a dumbass to start all over again…This is so INSANE!! I don't know if the frustration of not understanding Japanese and wandering around for hrs before figuring out what to do is worse than the simple purity of the near to impossible difficulty level of this game. I feel sick when I think about what is waiting for me to get to the final boss…I might have to call it even for now, but I really would like to see the ending!

After many tries, I was finally able to cross the last door and Monkan stood there waiting for me. After 3 reincarnations, I was able to confront him in what I believe it to be his last metamorphosis. Here, I was able to use some of the flying Orochi creature that surrounded him to hit Monkan's devilish form but I was unable to ultimately triumph...

05:45 am, January 4th 2003 - After an excrutiating fight with probably the hardest boss I have ever played against, I was finally able to destroy Monkan's 4th form in what will go down in history as the longest gaming session ever. I don't understand why they had to make it so difficult and the camera problems tend to become a major pain when you are required by the game to time with absolute accuracy each and every blow. The feeling I had when I finally killed for good the almost invincible Monkan was that of relief and disbelief . Was he really dead? Would he try another come back? Luckily, he played a nasty trick only once but after that, he was history...

To conclude, Magatama is an insanely difficult game for people who either don't have a job, or are on vacation (like me right now).

In other words, it is the perfect time killer for people who don't have a life ;)

Thoughts - After playing the game through, I came to the conclusion that old school gaming with far off checkpoints and very high difficulty level were the norm should remain a thing of the past. Even if I decided to play this game to the end, I think it might have been more enjoyable if the difficulty would have been more reasonable. Magatama basically tells people how bad they suck at gaming. At least, this is the feeling I had while playing through it and because of that, I made it a total priority to beat it once and for all!!

Bottom line: One of the better and toughest action games exclusive to the xbox....7,5/10


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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