Magical Disaster X

Voting for IGMC 2018 wraps up tomorrow, so we’re going to end things off on a bang with Magical Disaster X, by AtlasAtrium. AtlasAtrium participated in the last IGMC with Star Child, which won #5 in Judge’s Choice – and maybe with this game, they’ll end up getting higher.

What I love about Magical Disaster X is that the first two minutes alone gives a good indication of what the game’s about: it is an extremely silly take on the magical girl genre. The city is being terrorized by a heinous villain with the reporter proclaiming that they’re all doomed – ignoring the fact that said villain is a living vacuum. Then, magical girl Kosma arrives on the scene, descending in a pillar of light… then her partner Hesperos faceplants right next to her, on fire and knocked the fuck out. This introduction does so much for the game, quickly establishing the game’s style and characterizing Hesperos as a hotheaded screw-up in comparison to the more careful and professional Kosma.

After the introduction and battle – and after Hesperos recklessly devastates a street – you’re thrown into the greater world of the game. Tasked to infiltrate the lair of Disaster X, the heroes wander into a ridiculous world. If the opening cutscene doesn’t capture the essence of Magical Disaster X, the above screenshot certainly does. Magical Disaster X is full of fun writing and concepts, from the banter between the magical girls to the hilariously blunt game over screen that’s hard not to like.

While Hesperos is initially presented as a sidekick, she’s the character that actually carries the game. If I knew her in real life, I absolutely wouldn’t want to work with her – but she’s also so funny that I’d look past her flaws. The villains of the game are also great, having this “Paper Mario villain” quality to them that I really enjoy; something that I also really like is that the final boss of the area, in spite of her snarky and mocking dialogue, is genuinely a huge asshole that you won’t feel bad about beating up.

And beating people up in this game is actually satisfying! After the intro, you’re thrown into your first battle, where you aren’t hassled by tutorials – the skills do a good job at explaining themselves. Playing the game requires you to understand how to combo these skills together to effectively fight enemies, as just spamming attack will absolutely not help much. You can use Hesperos’ dodge roll to save her if she’s low on health, or you may be using it to buff her next attack. You could then go into a debuff skill to make one of her teammates’ next attack hit harder or use an attack that makes enemies more susceptible to debuffs for Kosma to take advantage of. You’re pretty much required to master using skills for the demo’s final boss, because she hits real hard.

While battles can get difficult, the game is generally merciful. You are fully healed after every battle and the game is generous with money for you to buy items; also, shout out to the revive item also giving a shield so that the revived doesn’t die immediately, that is a good fucking idea. There are no levels, but you do gain another party member with her own moveset and Hesperos can actually switch to using a different skill set, so there’s still some stuff to play around with, even without the standard sense of progression.

The game entirely uses original art and while I personally wish the sprites were bigger, it’s still quite nice. The game’s soundtrack isn’t original, comprised of tracks taken from a variety of sources; the variety leads to the overall style of the soundtrack feeling consistent. Still, it’s pretty good. The title screen music even has slide whistles in it, so it’s a winner in my books, even if it feels inconsistent with the rest of the tracks in the game.

One more thing that I like about Magical Disaster X is that within the demo timeframe, it manages to do a hell of a lot. It’s got an engaging beginning, a whole dungeon that introduces more characters and character development and it all ends with a climactic gauntlet and boss battle. While the game lacks an actual resolution (there’s abruptly nothing after the final battle), the amount of content and its charm is enough to act as a hook.

Magical Disaster X is a fantastic IGMC entry. Like honestly, my only problems with the game amount to nitpicks. Magical Disaster X carries itself with fun writing and engaging combat, wrapping itself up in its own visuals and handpicked music choices to grant it a strong sense of identity. This may possibly be the strongest prototype in IGMC 2018 and unless there’s something stronger, I think it’s the entry that most deserves to win.

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