Have you ever had a “Why did I buy this moment?” Because I’m totally having a “Why did I buy this?” moment and it’s all the Steam 2012 Summer Sale’s fault. To be specific, it’s because of Secret of the Magic Crystals. It was only $1.25.
Don’t give me that look! I know it’s a pet raising game with horses. It’s so much more than that though! I was promised mighty demon steeds and fire steeds! I was going to raise and love up my very own Ponyta! Maybe even a Rapidash, if a unicorn-fire steed fusion was possible. (It isn’t.)
I guess my love of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic blinded me to the fact that Secret of the Magic Crystal wouldn’t be a wise decision, even for $1.25.
It started out promising! After seeing the introductory segment in which my virtual grandfather was mocked for his views on how a meteorite would mutate horses, I figured the “lulz” would make Secret of the Magic Crystals worth it. Silly grandpa! Nobody cares about your hypothesis, even though it did suddenly make a normal horse transform into a unicorn!
My belief that this could end up being “so bad, it’s good” continued once I saw what the player avatars looked like. I mean, look at my character! She’s a loveable little cherub! I decided to pretend that she was a steampunk orphan, abandoned by her looney grandad who was laughed out of society by suggesting a magical meteor crystal could make horses special. I’d say she’s downright precocious!
Sure, it’s a bit odd that the grandpa would make a little kid provide proof that the crystals make magic horses. I mean, if you want to prove your hypothesis, do the work yourself! Don’t just trap some little kid on a farm and make him or her do it for you!
But we’re not here to pick apart the stories or the morality of leaving what looks to be a 8 or 9 year old child to raise a bunch of horses alone on some random farm. Let’s get back to the game.
It wasn’t until I actually got my first horse that the dream ended. You start with a unicorn. You don’t get to change his name or really directly influence his skills. I was stuck with Ignazio and had to just make do with him. Not to mention for a kid’s game, there wasn’t a lot of direction. All of a sudden I’m just there with Ignazio.
Okay, I’ll admit that the name Ignazio was growing on me. It wasn’t the worst unicorn name ever. Plus he was kind of pretty. Rather, handsome, as Ignazio and pretty don’t really fit well in the same sentence together.
As fond as I was growing of Ignazio, it didn’t change the fact that Secret of the Magic Crystals didn’t help me out much. There are three kinds of brushes, which aren’t really all that different. It didn’t matter which brush I used, as long as I rubbed it over Ignazio, he was happy. The lantern in his stall, which is apparently a rare stat-boosting lantern, had a brief explanation. I wouldn’t have even known I could change it if I hadn’t just been browsing and exploring the shop on my own.
Then there are the horse activities. You can do stuff with your horse, like send it off to earn more money for you on missions, go through exercises for various competitions or make horseshoes. Since my laptop has a defective down key, that made my first experience with these mini-games fun. They’re all designed to be rhythm-based games like DDR, only with no music. That’s a lot of fun, pressing arrows in time with nothing!
What broke my heart the most was the lack of horses. There are five different varieties. That’s it. You get a unicorn, a pegasus, a fire horse, an ice horse or a demon horse. You can’t have an ice pegasus or a demon unicorn. You can’t even have a unicorn fire demon pegasus. You get one of the base varieties and that’s it.
It isn’t even that amazing when it comes to leveling up the ones you have. That’s based entirely on breeding and not your own efforts. Two level one horses will always result in one level two foal. Two level two horses net you one level three foal. So really, you could “theoretically” get by just by doing the bare minimum to build up your stable.
I can’t even really blame Secret of the Magic Crystals! It isn’t the game’s fault. I’m obviously not its target audience. The constant hand-holding reminds me I’m playing a child’s game. This was not intended to be thrilling and challenging. This was supposed to be about kids having some fun with horsies. The developer probably figured the game just had to look pretty (it does) and have the illustrious unicorn and pegasus (it does) to make kids happy. It didn’t have to offer a lot of explanations, depth, cross-breeding or variety. It just had to have a few basic, shiny horses and people would be happy. After all, it was originally just a $4.99 game.
I just can’t believe it didn’t end up being a little more… well… more! Then again, I have only clocked about one hour of gameplay. I don’t know, maybe things get better. I guess I have to keep playing it now. Maybe by around hour five, it’ll all click and make sense!
Still, let this be a lesson to you. Think through every Steam purchase! Don’t let yourself be carried away by the promise and allure of games like Secret of the Magic Crystals. Or at the very least, if you do make this mistake, make sure that the game’s under $2!
Product Page [Steam]