What’s a cat — with massive magical prowess — to do when he just wants to take a nice leisurely walk and things keep getting in his way, such as stupid peasants — evil witches — and otherwise utterly innocent fences? The answer is obviously to blow everything to kingdom come, leaving a nice long smoldering trail of gem-fueled ruin and carnage in the little feline’s unstoppable wake of destruction. Such is the premise to Mage Fight (out now, free: iPhone/iPad), the all-new Tetris Attack inspired game of rapid-fire gem-shuffling action brought to you by Nikolay Rogozhnikov and Yumasoft Inc.
For those who aren’t yet familiar with how Tetris Attack worked, you may flip the location of any two adjacent gems by putting your finger on one of them and then swiping in the cardinal direction of the gem you wish to swap it with. If doing this leads to the creation of at least one three gem chain, then all of the valid gem chains created by this swap will be removed from the playing field (in the process damaging your enemy). If — however — any particular swap doesn’t result in a valid three gem chain being created, then it will promptly revert itself back and the playing field will ultimately be as if you hadn’t done anything at all (in the process wasting valuable time).
One thing of notable interest is that you’re fully allowed to make additional valid moves after your first legal switch, and — if you’re fast enough — you can even get these moves in before a sequence of blocks disappears. Suddenly, what might have only been a three block chain can — depending on your speed and accuracy — be transformed into a massive multi-block combo the entire width/height of your playing field. This is extremely useful since pelting your enemy with a single six-stone combo is actually far more damaging than hitting him with two separate three-gem batches (and efficiency here is everything).
In this regard a match will go until either you or your opponent obliterates the other, which — since Mage Fight is a single-player experience — means your chief concern is basically against the clock (or rather, however long it takes the PC to drain your life bar). To give yourself an edge at these matches you can increase your potency with chains of specific colors, as well as greatly increase the over-all size of your all-important life bar. This is done by collecting and combining the gems that determine your various stats, which are thankfully quite easy to grind for since each enemy on the map will list precisely which gem — along with some silver — that they always drop when defeated.
While I normally wouldn’t feel terribly compelled to explain a mechanic in this much detail, I’m going to explain the gem-stat system here a bit more thoroughly because Mage Fight’s questionable translation (more on that later) doesn’t really do a very good job. When you combine two first-form gems of the same color you’ll end up with a second-form gem of the same color (and so on), and through this you can create gems of far higher forms then are currently available if you grind the same enemy multiple times. Obviously — if you like this sort of game play — then you’re probably not going to mind replaying the same stage over and over, especially since the plot itself isn’t exactly something to write home about (again, more on this later).
The other way to acquire these gems is to purchase them with your silver, wherein you can specifically choose which first-form gem you want — with the added perk that it could possibly have a quality better than one-star — or you could buy the mystery bag instead. Although there’s a slight chance of the cheaper mystery bag being utterly empty, it will usually contain one random first-form gem — of any possible color — that may also have improved quality as well. Although you can always easily grind your way to up very high-level gem forms, the one thing you can’t do — at least judging from my personal time with Mage Fight so far — is grind your way towards gems of a higher quality.
High quality gems provide an immediately noticeable boost to the player, with a four-star first-form gem being equivalent in power to an otherwise one-star gem painstakingly raised to its fourth-form. What’s more, if you combined two four-star first-form gems — obviously of the same color — then the resultant four-star second-form gem would have power that was otherwise equal to a single-star eighth-form gem. Combing similar-form gems of differing qualities will — however — cause an inherent loss in quality, such as a one-star and three-star gem combining to produce a next-form gem with only two-stars.
Since Mage Fight doesn’t have an energy system, players are free to grind for silver – with which to try for higher quality gems – for however long they should see fit (although there is a storage-limit on their unused gem inventory, unless they do an IAP upgrade). Of course people willing to use Mage Fight’s IAPs can additionally just buy silver instead of grinding for it, or even directly purchase first-form five-star gems of whichever color they desire. Judging from how I’ve certainly seen better quality gems regularly be produced from silver based purchases, using IAPs — although certainly far faster — is not absolutely required by Mage Fight in order for one to achieve even greater prowess.
All in all I would have to say that Nikolay Rogozhnikov’s Tetris Attack clone is actually quite the fun game — and even remarkably fair, considering the fact it’s absolutely free — but with that said it’s finally time for me to begin discussing Mage Fight’s plotline. Probably the first thing most of you will notice is that the game’s translation has left a few things to be desired, with most of the dialogue ranging somewhere between either “hard to follow” to “straight-up nonsensical.” The gist I could pull together is that most of the dialogue is supposed to be a joke centered around the fact that your mage is a cat, and how perpetually high and mighty cats tend to carry themselves most of the time.
Which is nothing to say of the absolute surrealness that occurs when you first reach the forest, where things are kicked off by you attacking a patch of trees — that don’t even bother fighting back at all, since they’re just trees — all because they were in your way. After first declaring you can finally build a road here — upon winning — you then run into an Ent that seems to be none too pleased with your random wanton tree destruction, and so — continuing on with your implausible carnage — you decide to destroy him as well. Furthermore, did I mention that you will probably be repeatedly fighting this Ent — whom only wanted you to stop burning down the forest — in order to grind for stat gems with which to increase your fire casting ability?
Needless to say, Mage Fight’s plot doesn’t make one lick of sense — and that’s when you’re actually able to follow the on-screen dialogue at all — but this matters little as the game is otherwise a perfectly fine Tetris Attack clone being offered for absolutely free!
iFanzine Verdict: Nikolay Rogozhnikov’s Mage Fight — a well-made free single-player clone of Tetris Attack — should likely please many looking for a fast-paced game of strategic gem-flipping action. Although there are some IAP options present, they are otherwise easily avoidable and do little to hamper Mage’s Fight’s action — which has no energy bar that limits your play time — yet still exist for those seeking expediency. The only real flaw is that the game’s translation is often very hard to follow, although it matters little since — from what I can grasp — you’re not exactly missing much if you don’t pay attention to their plot of one cat burning everything in his path just because.