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Game Info:

Magical Star  Pillars
Developed By: Toolkitz Games
Published By: Toolkitz Games
Released: April 25, 2018
Available On: Windows
Genre: Platform, Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: 1 player
Price: $6.99

Thank you Toolkitz for sending us this game to review.

An adorable little girl by the name of Tiff is the star of the game Magical Star Pillars, a 2D puzzle-platformer where the main goal is to navigate levels to collect stars. Tiff’s journey starts off with her and her unnamed bird companion relaxing on their island, when they come across a strange star. This star grants the duo a telepathic message that the Star Pillars are in danger. It is now their job to restore power to the Star Pillars.

As mentioned above, there is a story to all of this, and a narrative is played during the tutorial, whenever an ally is encountered/rescued, and when a Star Pillar regains its power. The overall plot is something I didn’t expect from the game and it does give life to the world that Tiff runs and jumps around in. Of course a plotline in a puzzle-platformer is unnecessary, but it’s nice to have. The starting island you begin on acts as a tutorial, explaining the mechanics of both the levels and the overworld. The overworld can feel weird to navigate at times, especially on certain islands, as Tiff will have to squeeze through tight spaces which she easily gets stuck on. Maybe it would have been better if the overworld was more like a menu, but the developer is aware of these problems and has fixed some of these collision issues, as well as planning to fix more of them in later updates.

Magical Star Pillars' levels are the strong point in the game. After the tutorial, there are four islands that Tiff must go to. Any island can be started in any order, but some levels do require allies obtained from previous levels. In a way, the game is both linear and non-linear because even though you can start any island by your choosing, you will have to at least partially complete one island to complete another. There are over one hundred levels spread across the four islands with many puzzles and platforms. A lot of these levels contain robots that can be avoided, and depending on the level can also be destroyed (they mostly act as obstacles to avoid).

Each island has a special gimmick attached to it such as Steam Island focusing on using geysers to jump very high, and Storm Island using turbines and ice to mess with or hinder movement. The final level of each island contains a boss, which you have to overcome with the combination of the allies gathered throughout the game. The Steam Island boss in particular can be fairly buggy as I had it glitch out on me four times before I successfully defeated it.

Magical Star Pillars
Highlights:

Strong Points: Strong platforming; some puzzles are very engaging; a large amount of puzzles
Weak Points: Overworld can be clunky to navigate; sometimes the allies can slow down the pace of the game; music can get repetitive 
Moral Warnings: Robots are out to get you, and that’s a bad thing; supernatural setting

I enjoyed the majority of the levels due to their layout of the design, the unique attributes to some of the levels, and a good variety of puzzles. The game also has a moderate amount of challenge to it as well. It never feels too easy nor too hard at any point of the game and many levels do test the platforming skills and puzzle knowledge of the player. There is no life system attributed to Magical Star Pillars; instead, each level keeps track of how long you took to complete it, as well as how many restarts it took or how many deaths.

The solid mechanics are greatly attributed to the controls. The control scheme is very simple with standard movement using the arrow keys, jump by using the spacebar, and the shift key to your character’s respective ability. The F5 key can be used to retry a level, and the escape key to exit a level as there will be some levels that can only be completed with certain allies. Keep in mind that F5 and the escape key have to be held down for a second for the action to work. It’s rather strange, but understandable as it prevents accidental pressing of the button. Controller support is also available for people who want it; it's serviceable, but I personally prefer the keyboard for platformers. The controls are extremely responsive and the characters can both start and stop at a moment's notice, allowing precision platforming.

Later on in the game, you gain allies and can switch between them with A, S, D or F. You start off with your bird companion, who's action is toggled by the A key. He acts more as panning for the camera, a very useful ability to see what comes up ahead in the levels and to come up with a good plan for the puzzles. The other allies can also move and jump, but are typically limited in other aspects, and also cannot be used to collect the stars, even if they can reach them. Sometimes the allies can slow the pace of the game down, due to their slower movement, but this only comes up every once in a while.

Magical Star Pillars
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 96%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The graphics are okay, I guess. The world itself very basic, and some of it looks like it was done in MS Paint (especially some of the areas on Clay Island). The characters have a special charm to them. I found them to be very cute and they have an appeal. Even the robots I found to be cute. Though the designs are simple, every piece of scenery is clear as to what is and isn’t something that can and should be interacted with. The music is a nice little retro style with MIDI aspects, but can get repetitive fairly quickly as there are only a handful of songs in the game, and they loop after 30 or so seconds. If you get annoyed by it, the music can be toggled off in the options menu.

There is not much wrong morally in the game. There are robots that are out to get you, and some of them have spikes, some shock with electricity or bombs, and the little moments you can retaliate are all against robots. It’s all portrayed in a cartoon manner and when your character is struck, death is similar to how a classic Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario game deals with it. Basically the bare minimum. As evident in the title, there is also magic, but I’ve never seen it used throughout the game by the players or the enemies and is only mentioned and seen through exposition during some of the cutscenes.

Magical Star Pillars has some rough spots in and around, but the enjoyable mechanics and levels make it a very solid puzzle-platform game. I had a good time going through it. It’s not too long, only being 3-6 hours for your first playthrough, but the semi-linearity and the quick-play nature can warrant repeated playthroughs. There is also DLC being developed that will release around September of 2018 that contains more levels and more companions. It’s rather cheap for the amount it gives you and I can recommend it to any platform and puzzle fans, as well as people of all ages.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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