We’re digging into the PC Gamer archives to publish items from years passed by. This text was initially printed in PC Gamer situation 206, November 2009.
Combining designer Peter Molyneux’s twin obsessions of the time—amassing mana and deformable landscapes—Magic Carpet is sort of like a simplified, first-person 3D model of Populous with out the pesky man-management. And with an important deal extra fireballs.
Reinstall invitations you to hitch us in revisiting PC gaming days passed by. This time, Ed Ricketts calls 1994’s Magic Carpet “bloody arduous”.
Every world/stage/set of islands of the 50 featured has a set stage of mana, the concept being to gather sufficient to “restore” that world (for tedious plot causes). This is the reason you occur to be floating about in your Axminster dispatching monsters with spells. At first you have got solely two, a pathetic fireball and a Possession spell. Do-in a monster with fireballs and it breaks up right into a jumble of golden mana balls that bounce across the panorama. That is where the Possession spell is available in: shooting the golden balls turns them silver and claims them to your personal.
Different magicians additionally flit about on carpets, have the identical spells as you, and are not averse to nicking a few of your mana. So it is advisable to shield it, and also you do that by amassing one other spell that builds castles out of the earth itself. Your PortaCastle comes with its personal sizzling air balloons, which get hold of your claimed mana globules and take them again, protected from hurt. The extra mana you accumulate, the stronger your fort may be, and thus higher shielded from the opposite magicians who attempt to assault it.
MC is not concerning the flying. Controlling your carpet is an easy matter of left, right, ahead and again, with mouse tilt for up and down, and since you possibly can by no means crash (or land, for that matter), it takes only some minutes to get snug with it. Spell assortment, too, is not arduous—they simply lie about on the bottom.
No, MC is concerning the technique, and the motion. The fundamental idea is superbly easy, however because the game progresses, it is advisable to use the more and more refined spells to full benefit. A well-placed volcano pinged at an enemy fort sprouts right into a satisfying fire-spewing monster that nets you quite a lot of mana, whereas Invisibility, Rebound and Mana steal might be termed utility spells.
Do you shield your fort or your balloons? Do you whizz around the native villages making an attempt to transform them to your facet, or tackle an enemy wizard instantly and try and eradicate him? Do you cope with these sodding Kraken, which pull you inexorably in direction of them with a type of tractor beam, or simply keep away from the bloody issues?
It is a game of violent chess, and by fashionable requirements, a bloody arduous one. With the introduction of the aforementioned Krakens at stage 7, what has beforehand been a little bit of breeze instantly turns critical. The mix of monster varieties, spells and surprisingly irksome enemy AI ensures a hefty quantity of swearing on the street to stage 50.
Two issues about MC will stay burned in my mind eternally—or at the least elevate a Pavlovian response each time I hear them, as they’re each sound results. The primary is the whooshing noise your carpet makes if you use the speed up spell. It will need to have been a inventory library impact, as a result of I’ve heard it on adverts, movies, music tracks, TV reveals and nearly in every single place since, and it all the time—ALWAYS—jogs my memory of Magic Carpet.
The worm that flies
The second is the noise that each the crawling worm issues and the flying worm issues (dragons, if we’re being correct) make once they assault you. It is a two-note howl of rage, or reasonably a mix of shock and anger, which is sort of not possible to explain however which turns into the bane of your life all through the game: EEEEEEH-UUUUUUH, EEEEEEHUUUUHHH. The second you hear this, one among these creatures has determined to zero-in on you—normally if you’re desperately preventing an enemy wizard and actually do not want any additional distractions at once, thanks.
In truth sound performs a significant half within the game’s atmospherics. More often than not a vaguely Far Eastern motif is warbling within the background, with the sound results altering to go well with the location. Drift in direction of a village, and a hubbub of foreign-sounding voices rises to fulfill you. Exit over the ocean and all you possibly can hear is the sighing and lapping of the waves. However these are delicate results: they don’t seem to be merely brief samples which were clearly looped, however an ambient mass of noise which drifts out and in of your consciousness.
Partly due to this, Magic Carpet is a schizophrenic game. Typically, whilst you’re hovering by way of the ether admiring the surroundings with the hypnotic music gently washing over you, it is virtually a factor of magnificence. (Yeah, I am man sufficient to say it.)
Magic Carpet was doing real-time deformable landscapes again in 1994, albeit in a quite simple type. Spells reminiscent of Volcano and Crater create gigantic spewing mountains or deep crevices, each of that are nice for cocking up enemy castles. As well as, one nifty if in the end reasonably pointless characteristic allows you to load an image and use it because the height-field to your personal panorama.
However as quickly as you encounter a beast of some type, the entire temper adjustments. The music begins pounding, your missiles fly by the dozen accompanied by terrifying whooshes and explosions, and the air is stuffed with fireplace, golden globes of mana and basic chaos. At these instances it is like being in Vietnam… nicely, like watching a movie about being in Vietnam, at the least.
MC’s graphics have been actually revolutionary of their day: deformable landscapes in “actual” 3D, water reflections and translucency, unimaginable pace. What stands out most as of late is using 2D sprites reasonably than true 3D fashions, and the cripplingly brief view distance, however at the least you possibly can lastly run it at a good clip (on the time, it wanted an extremely expensive Pentium to run its fancy “excessive decision” mode correctly).
Carpet, not like its up to date Doom, was one thing of a one-off. There nonetheless hasn’t been something to match to it. Right here certainly is a game way more worthy of a remake than yet one more tedious retro arcade title: a manic mix of pure motion, delicate technique and the form of bonkers mentality for which Bullfrog was justly well-known. EEEEEEH-UUUUUH.