Magic Mansion for iOS brilliantly evokes Nintendo's Game Boy and Game & Watch series

By , on August 25, 2016
Last modified 7 years, 9 months ago

We've grown somewhat accustomed to seeing iOS games that evoke the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming - all chunky sprites and chiptronica soundtrack. But most of these references come from past eras of home console gaming.

Magic Mansion, on the other hand, references a very specific period of portable gaming. Its monochrome palette and crisp, simple 2D graphics evoke Nintendo's original Game Boy handheld, and the stand-alone Game & Watch devices that inspired that.

Endless climber

Developer Sets and Settings (who made Wrassling and Battle Golf) and publisher Nitrome (Beneath the Lighthouse, Gunbrick, Icebreaker) refers to this aesthetic as 1-bit, which just about sums it up to perfection. That applies, too, to Magic Mansion's wonderfully blippy music and sound effects. If you grew up with a Game Boy, it'll all come flooding back.

Despite this retro presentation, Magic Mansion essentially plays like an endless runner. Your little witch automatically runs from side to side. When she reaches a ladder, she'll climb to the next level, adding another point to your score.

Magic Mansion

Standing between you and that ladder, however, is an assortment of traps, from spikes to pools of hazardous liquid, wandering ghosts, and cannons. Tapping the screen will cause your witch to hop over these hazards.

Watch your step

The trickiness here is in how brief that jump is. It's really more of a hop, meaning you need to be extremely precise with your timing. If your calculations are slightly off, it's insta-death and a return to the start for you.

Collecting coins, meanwhile, allows you to purchase new characters for subsequent run-throughs, Crossy Road style.

Essentially, then, Magic Mansion is pretty familiar stuff. But its perfectly judged Game Boy-influenced presentation makes stand out from a crowded endless runner crowd. Retro fans should check it out - especially as it's free to download.