A love-dating sim? It doesn’t seem to be Sonic Team’s style now, does it? And you’d be right – Feel The Magic is being developed, like Space Channel 5, Rez and Astro Boy before it, by the artist formerly known as United Game Artists. UGA have always had a flair for innovative artistic display, and Feel The Magic looks set to break the boundaries of at least the Sonic Team label.
The graphics are shaping up to be superbly unique, suiting the cult-like following and niche audiences UGA have recieved from their past projects. The graphics use both the 2D and 3D capabilities of the Nintendo DS console: at times the silhouetted characters turn out to be actual polygonal figures as well, and the design of the entire game produces an air of cool not seen since the ‘status quo’ already established with the Apple iPod adverts. And how much more niche could you get for the Western market too – Dating titles are very much a gaming delicacy best served in its native Japanese homeland, but this brave move to retail Feel The Magic to even America is as bold as the colourful graphics themselves.
Not that any of us should be complaining; it saves us all the trouble of importing it, doesn’t it? And far from being one of the generic and confusing love quests littering Japan, Feel The Magic actually keeps things as entertaining and as simple as possible. You play as yourself (albeit not ‘with’ said person, else that kind of denounces the point of the game), a guy who desperately falls in love with the hottest gal in town. But she’s not putting out so easily. She wants you to show how much you will dedicate yourself to her. She wants to be impressed. She wants a guy to truly love her, and treat her like a true gent (you being the gent, not her).
At this juncture, usually you would expect a bunch of annoying, tedious and rampantly agitating adventure quests and modes, chatting up her friends to maybe see what she likes best and all that tosh. Feel The Magic really does have some tricks up it’s proverbial sleeve, choosing to stick to short, amusing and downright wacky mini-games. Think more along the lines of Wario Ware on Game Boy Advance, but with an actual love interest theme. And the games revealed so far sound very innovative and promising:
In one mini-game, a random dude manages to eat all sorts of sealife animals. On the bottom screen of the Nintendo DS, using the touch screen you must push the animals out of the person’s stomach and up his throat so that he can then regurgitate them out of his fat gob (shown on the top screen of your NDS) with cheeky grin and all. Another allows you to clean the apple of your eye, as she falls face first into a pile of crud, while in a similar touchy game you must pick scorpions off of your potential Valentine, whilst being careful to not actually rub her up yourself (she’ll get a little annoyed you’re not bothering to pick the scorpions off her back if your hands start a-wandering…). One really imaginitive aspect that struck me as fantastic was the way even the Nintendo DS microphone was being used: one mini-game has you trying to blow out candles, and you do this by blowing into your DS Mic. The DS can detect how hard you are blowing (easy) and will show on the touch screen accordingly. Thus, if you blow too hard (oi) you could end up winding yourself.
The touch screen and microphone are apparently the only functions of the Nintendo DS being used for this game, to keep things relatively simple throughout, and with 30 mini-games like the ones mentioned above, including tapping bulls to avoid a stampede and digging for your love’s lost possessions on the beach, you can tell United Game Artists will help turn Sonic Team back into the cult original developer it once was during it’s Burning Rangers hey-days. This is going to be an incredibly quirky game that uses the DS’ functions and makes perfect display of the things that make the new handheld unique. It will be released as a launch title in Japan and in America too, and that shouldn’t leave much doubt for a launch title proposal for Europe too, pray the powers above.