The game really has that console feel to it with polished animations and intricate level designs. There seem to be a wide variety of level design elements to keep things interesting, as well as a number of secret areas that can be found.
First of all, I was pretty starved for what I felt was a "true" platformer for the iDevices, and this certainly fills the void.
Overall, the graphics are impressive, colorful, clean and sharp. The sound is fine, as someone mentioned before the music isn't Nintendo, but what is except Nintendo? I like the sound effects, and the small elements of voice added. I like the level designs, and the first boss battle was fun as well, although pretty simple to defeat. I have high hopes for the rest of the worlds, and wholeheartedly recommend this for anyone at the current price, which I feel is quite reasonable for a game of this quality.
After we've spent some time with the game, we generally agree with these sentiments. The game carries an overall polish and level of detail lacking in many other iPhone titles. The levels in particular seem very well designed with an attention to detail as well as secret areas to explore:
So the second world is a pirate ship. Imagine my surprise when I miss a jump and fall to the water below, and instead of dying like I expected, I discover an underwater portion to the level! I also find a new power-up, the SWORDFISH! You can now color me officially impressed!
There are perhaps two areas of possible contention for a game like this.
Game length is always a concern for any level-based games. Castle of Magic has 5 worlds with multiple levels within each. The official gameplay estimate is about 3.5 hours playing straight through. Each level, however, seems to have additional areas and a number of gems to collect so completing these levels fully will likely take you a fair bit more time. Simply trying to get to the end, however, will result in relatively shorter gameplay time.
The second area is of controls. The game offers Gameloft's typical virtual-dpad and button layout. If you've played other Gameloft games, you'll be relatively comfortable with these controls. As always, however, there is some level of clumsiness with any virtual-dpad control on the iPhone, though this does not seem to be a major impediment to the game. Regardless, I suspect this control scheme is the best (only?) option available for such a traditional platformer. While iPhone-specific games like Rolando or Toy Bot have the luxury of mixing swipe/accelerometer controls, Castle of Magic is seeking to mimic the traditional console platformers so many have grown up with.
Our gameplay video shows us playing the game after only a little practice:
Overall, a solid title from Gameloft that's going to appeal to any platformer fan.
App Store Link: Castle of Magic, $5.99