Magic Carpet (video game)
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|Genre(s)||First-person shooter, god game|
|Mode(s)||Single player, Multiplayer|
Magic Carpet is a video game released by Bullfrog Productions in 1994. Its graphics and gameplay were considered innovative and technically impressive at the time. A revised edition, Magic Carpet Plus, included the Hidden Worlds expansion pack which added 25 levels and a winter-themed tileset. The title also had a sequel released in 1995, Magic Carpet 2. Magic Carpet was considered by critics to be a revolutionary game for its time.
The player plays a wizard (on a magic carpet) flying over water, mountains, and other terrain while destroying monsters and rival wizards (which are controlled by the computer) and collecting "mana" which is gathered by hot air balloons and stored in the player's own castle.
The story is told in a cutscene that depicts the pages of a book being flipped. According to this back story, mana was discovered and though it initially had beneficial uses, the quest for it made the lands barren. Worse, many corrupt wizards began turning to mana for their own nefarious purposes, eventually leading to war between them. The battling wizards began using more destructive spells and summoning deadly monsters, the latter of which often turned against them. One wizard hoped to end everything with an all-powerful spell but instead only left the worlds shattered. Only his apprentice survived and his goal is to restore the worlds to equilibrium.
Greater amounts of mana stored in the castle allow the player to cast more powerful spells. As the player expands the castle, it spawns additional mana-collecting balloons and armed guards that defend the castle against attacks by enemy wizards. Besides storing mana, the player's castle also serves as a home base for the player where he cannot be killed and where he can regain health and mana.
Dying without a Castle forces the player to restart the level since the game does not have a mid-level save feature. As long as the player's Castle was at least partly intact, the player effectively had infinite lives.
Victory is attained by storing in one's castle the necessary percentage of the total mana in the current level (or "world"), restoring it to "equilibrium". The total mana level is fixed in a given world, and is acquired by killing enemy wizards and monsters. Often, the necessary mana could only be released by the defeat of other wizards or certain monsters.
At the end of the game, after level 50 "Volcania" has been beaten, a cutscene shows the apprentice flying away on his carpet and the book cover closing.
- Al Jahan
- Ar Ulnan
- Al Saumam
- Jan Tabar
- Ar Vilim
- Jondd Warr
- Ul Ramin
- Shai Yulim
- Ar Zaljan
- Shal Kazan
Magic Carpet has a wide range of spells (24 maximum) covering many categories.
For offense, there are scorching fireballs, very accurate lightning bolts and devastating meteors. For defence, players can heal themselves, bring up a shield to reduce damage from enemy fire, and even use rebound to deflect certain fire-based spells back at the enemy.
In multiplayer, there is no completely dominant spell, which often adds some balance to the game and results in several tactical dilemmas. For instance, meteor is usually considered to be among the most powerful attacks and can often kill weakened wizards with a single hit, but it becomes a double-edged sword if the target wizard has rebound cast. However, rebound is not a perfect defense. It costs a good deal of mana and, as with all other spells, does not allow one's mana reserve to recharge while it is in use. Moreover it does not defend against lightning and many other powerful attacks. Lightning bolts are more accurate and more powerful than fireballs but lack the latter's longer range.
Exotic spells include teleport to escape back to one's castle and recharge health and mana and then quickly return, and skeleton army which creates undead archer minions for either attacking enemy castles or wreaking havoc in civilian towns.
Revolutionary for the time were real-time terrain-altering spells such as crater, volcano, and earthquake; it is possible for the player to carve through a continent (rather than splitting apart a land mass, earthquake digs a twisting gorge in the ground), build up a volcano, or dig a lake (with crater). Even the staple build castle spell is interesting; casting it in a suitable location would cause the ground to morph up into the shape of a fortress. Players soon discovered that crater was very useful against monsters and wizards alike on high ground, as (literally) sinking the earth from under the target was often sufficient to kill it, and for monsters the resulting crater would provide a handy hole in the ground to keep all of the mana together. Volcano proves to be an extremely deadly castle killer, creating damage both from the initial strike and from the lava rocks that fly out in the subsequent eruption and bounce along the ground, causing further damage along the way. Even the staple castle itself is proficient at destroying legions of weaker enemies (indeed, it will kill nearly any kind of monster that happens to be over the player's castle at the time); strategically casting it right in the middle of a swarm can net a weak player lots of mana to quickly build up his strength.
After level 26 the player could not retain spells picked up in earlier levels. This presented a new challenges for players. For example, some levels' challenge depended heavily on barriers and mazes in the form of walls that the player could not cross over. Certain spells such as Crater, Earthquake, and/or Volcano would tend to make such obstacles useless. On certain levels, crucial spells, such as Castle, were left out entirely or were only available after the player had completed a desired task (usually along the lines of killing all of the monsters on the level).
Magic Carpet Plus replaced the rarely used flamewall with the guided meteor (specifically for anti-player duels, as opposed to the regular general-purpose meteor).
Krakens pose a deadly threat in bodies of water where they dwell; they use the Duel spell to prevent wizards from escaping and holding them within range of the Kraken's lightning bolts.
Wyverns are considered the most dangerous enemies (apart from other wizards), especially for weak players, due to their flight, rapid fireball breath weapon, and their large amount of hitpoints. Also unique is their aggression, being one of the few monsters to actively attack both castles and towns.
Genies cannot directly harm the player's health; however, their Steal Mana spell will drain the player's mana power, limiting his capabilities in encounters with other wizards or monsters. Genies are not only unrelenting in their pursuit, but if sufficiently wounded, they will teleport away to heal themselves.
Griffins are usually unaggressive monsters, but when attacked, the entire pack will retaliate and will carry a grudge against the player for the rest of the level (unless another wizard attacks them, causing the griffins to switch their attention to the latter). This has often resulted in the death of players who underestimated the numbers of these enemies or forgot that all griffin are protected by the Rebound spell.
The crabs are unique in that they can "consume" loose mana and by doing so gradually grow in size from tiny to large, gaining the use of increasingly powerful spells (first Fireball, then Lightning, and finally Meteor) accordingly. Sufficiently large crabs can even lay eggs to hatch new crabs to start this process all over again. As mana in each level is fixed, the consumed mana can only be released by killing the crab.
There are 7 computer-controlled wizards to be found along the journey:
- Vodor - Red
- Gryshnak - Purple
- Mahmoud - Blue
- Syed - Green
- Raschid - Pink
- Alhabbal - Orange
- Scheherazade - Black
The player character is called Zanzamar by default, and his flags are a white color.
The enemy wizard AI has limitations. Enemy wizards only use a subset of spells on any given level; most commonly this includes at most Accelerate, Fireball and Rapid Fireball, Lightning Bolts, Meteor, Rebound, and possibly Shield in addition to Castle and Possess Mana; on tougher levels, Volcano, Heal, Cloak, and Skeleton Army might also be part of their arsenal. As well, wizards also have "tendencies" which could be exploited. For example, on certain levels, one or more enemy wizards spend too much time attacking other castles, ignoring both the protection of their own fortresses and the need to acquire more mana. As a more general example, the computer-controlled wizard is programmed to always attack monsters when it has nothing else to do; on many levels this leads to the spectacle of wizards industriously attempting to kill griffin or wyverns with nothing more than the basic Fireball spell, often with disastrous results. Wizards will sometimes build castles in bad places, such as next to a maze wall or next to a town. When a castle is too close to a town/wall, it cannot be expanded. The limited AI was expected of the game at the time, but it often stood out more than it deserved, due to a mostly inaccessible multiplayer mode.
The PlayStation version retains many of the PC version's spells. The map has changed slightly, and some of the monster graphics and enemy wizard graphics are slightly different. As in the PC game, one can only save at the end of the level. Enemy wizards now have a health-bar over their heads, so the player can see when they are close to death. This version does not support multiplayer, but does contain the Hidden Worlds expansion as a reward for finishing the game in "Normal" mode.
There was also a port for the Sega Saturn console. It is largely identical to the PlayStation version, and likewise includes the Hidden Worlds expansion. Gaming journalist Ed Lomas reported that the technical differences from the PlayStation version are (1)the sky is animated in a "sliding wallpaper" fashion, whereas it moves in 3D in the PlayStation version, (2)the sprites are more detailed, and (3)the shadows lack the translucency effect.
The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the PlayStation port an average of 7 out of 10. They commented that the controls and interface are confusing at first, and that the graphics become pixelated when getting close to objects, but three of the four felt that it was an overall enjoyable game.
Sega Saturn Magazine approved of both the originality of the game and the accuracy of the Saturn port, summarizing that "as a conversion, Magic Carpet is actually very good. As a game in its own right it's nigh on brilliant." They criticized the absence of multiplayer mode, but praised the inclusion of additional levels and a new spell, as well as the more streamlined spell system, and described it as one of the Saturn's most visually impressive games to date. They gave it a score of 90%.
- "That's Magic!". Sega Saturn Magazine (3) (Emap International Limited). January 1996. p. 11.
- "Letters: They're Not Biased". Sega Saturn Magazine (8) (Emap International Limited). June 1996. pp. 32–33.
- "Magic Carpet Review". Electronic Gaming Monthly (82) (EGM Media, LLC). May 1996. p. 32.
- Hickman, Sam (April 1996). "Review: Magic Carpet". Sega Saturn Magazine (6) (Emap International Limited). pp. 72–73.
- Magic Carpet at MobyGames
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