Magic Boy puts you in the unlikely control of an apprentice wizard with the equally unlikely name of Hewlett. Now, little Hewlett is a student at sorcery school and this is the first thing that needs addressing.
It makes sense to me that if you are going to attend magic school you need an entrance qualification. Now, I don't know about you but when it came to decision time at my comprehensive concerning your options. 'O' level magic was not on the list.
English language, maths and even religious education yes, but no insight into the world of arcane knowledge - well not at my working class state run seat of learning.
However, it would be interesting if such a topic was an exam subject because I for one would take it.
Imagine the exam, you walk on to a fanfare of trumpets wearing a patched up cape, top hat and obligatory white gloves (all courtesy of Mr Hoofey). Along side you your gold bikini clad assistant, the beautiful sixth form babe Jane Hedley-Hedley-
As the rest of the school look on with mouths gaping wide open, you embark on your first examination trick - sawing the beautiful Jane into segments. However, because of the government cutbacks in education spending, all is not what it should be on the props front. For one, the box into which the sultry Jane must slip her slender self into is courtesy of the second year craft department.
These particular pieces of timber lived their former lives as part of a front gate and the remnants of a sledge involved ina freak downhill accident. But anyway, thanks to the talents of Form 2B, the box is ready on exam day, albeit suffering from chronic dampness and splinters.
A drum roll commences and Jane slides into place, simultaneously your makeshift saw makes its appearance to cries from the crowd. TO be honest, these aren't shrieks of horror at the size of the saw in your hand, but cries of astonishment that you're going to attempt this act with a craft knife from the art department.
As you make your first incision into the jagged slots filed into the box, your unwitting assistant jobs her shapely posterior on one of the many splinters. The next few moments seem to last a lifetime, as Jane jumps in pain the craft knife slips and lacerates her thigh. This in turn dislodges the box which topples sideways to reveal a hollow plinth where the slightly wounded Jane stand sobbing into a pair of dummy legs.
Those fateful few moments have sealed your fate, and put the dampers on your dream of a career in magic. Think, no hope of going prematurely bold, "not a lot" of opportunities for having the worst catch phrases in show business and best of all absolutely no chance of marrying your mutton dressed as lamb assistant.
Anyway, once more there seems to have been a quite major digression from our starting point. To recap, Hewlett is top dog at sorcery school - it's a bit like Fame with wands and cauldrons. He's passed all his exams and pipped the moustachioed David Copperfield to the number one spot despite his impressive vanishing of a jumbo jet up his magic circle.
Despite being Merlin's little pet, things aren't a total bed of roses. You see, one evening Hewlett stays behind to swat up on some book or other. As he rummages through the cupboard where every tidy sorcerer keeps their left over spells, he trips over a trapdoor that leads to the basement.
It's down here that the Grand Wizard keeps a wide variety of crazy magic animals. But not for long, because as soon as they clap sight on the vaguest hint of daylight they bolt for it.
Now I don't know about you, but it seems that the big cheese isn't looking after his pets very well. Keeping them locked up in a subterranean cell it's no wonder they bolted, anyway remember kids - a magic animal is for life not just for Christmas dinner. Hewlett however, is not concerned with living the born free ethic and is more concerned about not getting into trouble with teacher.
To achieve this Hewlett must recapture all of the marauding menagerie and return them to their environment au natural in the cellar.
As Hewlett your search will take you through four main worlds. They consist of Sand Land, Wet World, Plastic Place and Future Zone and strangely enough they all really do speak for themselves when it comes to what kind of environment they are.
Now, each world is made up of 16 levels. This might shatter the illusion of the plot somewhat, but then again we're talking about a platform puzzler and not real life. As you journey around the worlds you are asked to complete an initial eight levels. Once you've done so when you visit for the second time you explore a second set of eight.
To access any of the levels you simply highlight them on the compass screen which clever clogs Hewlett carries around with him.
Basically control of the play is fairly simple and straightforward. All the normal joystick movements push Hewlett in the relevant direction and pressing the Fire button shoots his love wand - they don't call him Magic Boy for nothing you know.
Hewlett's wand has a range of power ups which lengthen, strengthen or spray his shot wider and all help stun the animals.
Once they are stunned simply moving the would be wizard into the stunned creatures results in them being bagged up in Hewlett's magical sack and hence recaptured.
As usual in this form of zap-
For one, there are tokens to collect which when completed grant you extra lives. On the downside there are dissolving platforms, sticky blocks, toxic pools and trap squares to be aware of.
Graphically, Magic Boy is very sweet and sugary. With his blonde hair sickly smile and red cape Magic Boy is a dead certainty for a cutesy award. This doesn't say a lot for his big magic wand pretensions, but his snug tunic (which could easily pass as a skirt) does keep it firmly lodged in the right place.
On a more serious note, both the scrolling and animation are really rather nice on Magic Boy and despite my allegations directed towards his manliness the whole feel of the product right.
Playwise, I've never been a great fan of platformers of any kind, but I do acknowledge that they have a massive following among gamers. I also have to confess that I actually enjoyed playing Magic Boy. The control seemed to respond really well and the puzzle aspect of the game made play a lot of fun.
With 64 levels and 32 bonus levels to explore there's a great deal to do in Magic Boy. It's a very friendly and easy to play title with a lot to offer platform lovers.
It sounds good, plays well and it's so annoyingly cute you almost want to retch. Plus, the first few thousand copies feature a free copy of the Cool Croc Twins. What more do you want from a game?