There has been a couple of times in the past where I have found a brilliantly cheap game (that is obviously the best game ever) on Steam, and gifted it to Dante to play. Today he returned the favour and gifted me Secret of the Magic Crystals to play. I had never seen or heard of this game before, and going off the title I figured it was something to do with magic crystals and secrets. So I quickly downloaded and installed it while I was waiting for my Mass Effect 3 copy to install, and had a quick play.
The game starts out with a nice story to set things up. A meteor has crashed into the planet, and the crystals were lost. What crystals? Well the ones in the meteor of course! Silly you, not knowing that. So your granddaddy finds 2 of these crystals somehow, and quickly realises that they give horses magical powers, which in my opinion is rather obvious. What else would meteor crystals do? So he takes his findings to his peers in the academic community, and those heartless bastards laugh him out of the room. Long story short, he has a big cry, moves to a farm, and gives you his crystals, hinting that there are many more crystals in the world to be found!
Great, so its an RPG where you go around searching for these crystals, probably with a focus around horses! Well no, not really. That beginning story doesn’t really have anything to do with the game, except as a quick reference to explain away why you have a unicorn on your farm and why everything is made of magic. What I found out after a lot of disappointment was that the game is based around the farm, where you breed, train and race horses. The magic crystals you ask? I have no idea, it appears that they have nothing to do with the actual game at all, despite the name of the game.
The game starts out with a tutorial telling you what needs to be done. Groom your horse, train him up, send him to races and quests and breed him. So I go about grooming the little pony that I have in my stable, and it suddenly transforms into a unicorn. Why? Because MAGIC! After I got over the shock of a sudden unicorn, I decided to try out the training before I sent it off to a race. The training consists of semi-quick-time events akin to Dance Dance Revolution (or Stepmania). Arrows slowly move along the screen towards your noble steed, and when it gets above it, you have to hit the corresponding key.
Once I figured this out, I thought “Great, some gameplay that works well in other games, I can live with this!”, finished up training my unicorn and decided to send it off to a race. You’d think given the training style, that the race would be an extension of that, where the horse is going along, and you have to hit the keys as they come across to determine if you win, right? Wrong. The horse runs off screen, and you get to see a text commentary of the race as it happens. The problem with this is that you are sitting there doing nothing, you have no input on the outcome of the race, just (barely) get to watch it happen. It also appears that the messages are randomized, so they race may start with them “coming around the final bend”, then they come around that bend another 3 times before the race is over.
After being disappointed by this, I found out that there are also quests. Naturally I thought that this would be the core gameplay, going out to complete quests and train my horse at the same time, eventually leading back to the magic crystals story line. Unfortunately I was wrong again. The “quests” are just arbitrary bits of text to use as an excuse to send your horse off for a minute and come back with a bit of coin. Once again there is no input from you.
This game is rather silly, with no actual gameplay to come with it. The story is non-existent past the opening scene, and the mini-games around the farm are just that, mini-games. Not to mention that the tutorial actually never ends. Every time you go to one spot on the farm, the tutorial pops up telling you what to do. “But what if I’ve already read the tutorial and now what to do?”, you ask? The game doesn’t care, you can learn again.
After finding out this last bit where the game is not actually a game, I closed out of it and started up Mass Effect 3.