Magic Carpet 2: The Netherworlds

Magic Carpet – and its sequel, Magic Carpet 2: The Netherworlds – are unique action games. Magic Carpet came along at a time when the first-person shooter (Doom) was actually becoming a genre of its own, and Doom clones were springing up everywhere. But this time, the first-person thing was put to such novel use that very few even mentioned it. Magic Carpet was a fresh idea, and a great game.

2For those of you not familiar with the Magic Carpet theme, here’s the condensed version. You play as a flying-carpet pilot and wizard, soaring over landscapes and through dark, twisting caverns full of all kinds of evil monsters. You have magic weaponry and defenses (although not much of either at first), both of which require mana to fuel them. You get mana buy blasting monsters, then claiming as your own the resultant balls of golden mana that burst forth from your victims. But in order to use the claimed mana, you have to cast a spell to build a castle, which will then send out a balloon to collect and bring back the mana.

During the course of each level, you’ll sometimes find new spells to augment your magical arsenal; in MC 2: Netherworlds, there are a lot more of these available — 26 in all, each with three levels of intensity available. Whether or not you have enough power to cast any but the most basic spells depends on the size of your castle, because a larger castle can store the loads of mana necessary to cast some of the game’s more impressive incantations.

There are plenty of differences between the original and Magic Carpet 2: Netherworlds. Probably the most noticeable is a new narrative structure imposed over the high-flying action, complete with elaborate 3D-modeled cutscenes and a fatherly mentor whose voice guides you not only from level to level, but within each level from objective to objective.

That’s right, objectives. In this Magic Carpet, you have to complete a number of specific missions — destroy rival wizard A, destroy old temple, find spell, etc. — within each level in order to move on. Whereas the first game’s overall objective (kill all the monsters and rival wizards to reclaim the land) really didn’t change much from stage to stage, MC 2: Netherworlds is much more a big, linear storyline, and everything you do advances the plot toward its inevitable conclusion.

15Another difference, and one related to the game’s story-driven style, is that you’re often placed in very tough positions, with very few resources, and asked to wipe out, say, a swarm of web-slinging spiders. These particularly challenging little mini-scenarios often take place in caverns, where simply flying away from the danger isn’t an option. You have to find a crack or high ledge where you’re safe from attack, sneak out just long enough to get a few shots in before your spell power runs low, then dodge back and wait for it to build. These bits add a lot of strategic fun to the game.

Of course, the bottom-line question on Magic Carpet 2: Netherworlds is, does it measure up? The answer is yes. The goals set for you this time around add new challenge and, combined with the visual effects and new spells, make Magic Carpet 2: Netherworlds a pretty compelling package. Especially if you have yet to play the first game of the series.

System Requirements: 486/33 MHz, 8 MB RAM, , DOS 5.0

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