Castle of Magic
Looks like Harry Potter has competition in the form of an arrow shooting, fire-spewing wizard.
Gameloft continues its impressive run of iPhone apps with Castle of Magic, a beautiful 2-D adventure starring a pint-sized wizard. As the little runt, you explore five unique environments that'll have you wandering through a forest, defying gravity and even swimming in the ocean. It looks marvelous and has plenty of charm, but nagging controls make it more difficult than it should be.
Castle of Magic plays similar to Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog in that you guide the hero with a d-pad and jump/attack with the face buttons, except everything's on the iPhone's touch screen. This almost kills the game, simply because Gameloft didn't do as good a job with the virtual controls as it did with Assassin's Creed and Hero of Sparta. You'll often jump into the air in the hopes of accessing what seems to be a reachable area, only to watch the tiny wizard slowly float to his doom.
That's a shame, because everything else is stellar. Castle of Magic features old school adventuring, with players collecting gems (get hit and you'll lose them), secrets and changing outfits to gain new abilities (fire, bow and arrow). In addition, there's a decent cast of evildoers to defeat, such as pig looking creatures, spiked bad guys, bees and various boss characters (a mean snow man, an octopus). You've probably played tons of games like it, but none of them on the iPhone, and that's what makes it special.
On top of that, Castle of Magic sports some of the best graphics, with a well-animated and cute character, bright and colorful environments, lots of gems strewn about the playfield and plenty of slick looking effects.
We also love the audio, including the cheery soundtrack and happy go lucky main character; he screams "Robin Hood" whenever he acquires the bow and arrow. If you have headphones, we suggest plugging them in to get the full experience.
Whether you want to play Castle of Magic all depends on the controls. Get past the shoddy buttons and you'll find a wonderful game with a sweet retro vibe. Downloading the free Lite version will give you a taste of the action, but for $4.99, this is one app worth taking a chance on.
What's Hot: Visually stimulating environments, adorable hero, different abilities, plenty of bad guys to kill, slick audio.
What's Not: At times sloppy controls.