Magical Beat: Keep rhythm and wait for that sweet drop

June 24, 2014


Both good music games and good puzzle games have value outside of the mechanics themselves. One gives you a reason to listen to new music, and the other keeps your head in check and reinforces pattern recognition. Arc System Works, known for its work in the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series, released Magical Beat, a hybrid rhythm-puzzle game, in the arcades in 2012. Two years later, it’s on North American Vitas.

Magical Beat feels like an odd blend of Puyo Puyo, in which you match like colors to clear blocks, and Lumines, letting you rotate a piece above the playfield and drop it. The kicker here: you have to drop the piece to the beat of the music. Don’t have rhythm? Don’t worry! The game provides you with a metronome that clicks to the beat of the music, as well as gives you a gauge on the safe area to hit. As long as you hit close to the beat (Good ratings) or on the beat (Best ratings), your pieces will fall safely into place. Hit way off beat and the pieces scatter randomly out of place.


While the idea might sound a little wacky, it plays a lot better than it reads. It’s a nice change of pace from other puzzle games such as Puyo Puyo or Tetris in which working quickly gets you victories. Magical Beat puts players on an even playing field of sorts, where your success relies on whether or not you can keep the beat and your patterns together.

The game offers a tutorial mode for those easing themselves into the game, as well as Normal and Hell difficulties that provide most of the single-player experience. There’s also a My Own Battle mode that allows you to choose the song you want to play. And… that’s it. There’s no online play, and matches against other players can be played through the game’s Ad-Hoc mode. The game also lacks a formal story to tie all the characters together.


Aesthetically, the game embraces a pixel art style wholeheartedly. For those familiar with the pixel avatars used in BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma’s online mode, you’ll find this look very, very similar. Considering the game’s bigger focus is on the puzzle mode and music, keeping the art style simple for the characters was a good call.

Music is hit-or-miss depending on your tastes. The default soundtrack is done by a well known NicoNico artist by the name of Kikuo and are done in a Vocaloid style. However, if that’s not your thing, upon beating the game on either Normal or Hell, you unlock additional characters and songs from other Arc System Works games. These include new original tracks, as well as a pinch of songs from Guilty Gear, BlazBlue and new series Xblaze, as well as avatars from those series. The songs are a nice way to break up all the Vocaloid tracks. Add-on content has been announced for the game, but there’s no word on when it will reach the western PlayStation Store.


While it’s not revolutionary by any stretch, Magical Beat manages to feel different enough to check out if you’re looking for a new puzzle game. The fast-paced gameplay and music will definitely keep players on their toes and constantly challenge players. While there could be more game modes, it gets the job done by recreating the arcade feel of the game the best it could and keeping it local.

Pros: Fast-paced challenging gameplay, Overall soundtrack has nice variety
Cons: Vocaloid side might not appeal to everyone, lack of game modes

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.