Gord Games’ latest Switch release was made for kids. It features touch screen challenges that is reminiscent of the numbered connect the dots puzzles of our childhoods. A constellation of magical puzzles awaits your family in this wizarding adventure. The only issue with this port is that the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode is ill-designed for the bulk of their teaching gameplay.
Spell Casting does a good job entertaining while teaching, the focus of the game unfolds in two ways. First, in practice mode, players are tasked to trace different and increasingly difficult shapes to earn a rank (1 to 5 stars) and learn that “spell” for the upcoming exam. When the exam starts the challenge kicks in, not only are the traceable rails from practice mode gone, but you must also remember what shape you needed to make from the blank field of dots that must be connected. To clear the exam and progress, you must average 3 stars on each shape puzzle from the current “book” your casting from. The longer you take and the mistakes you make drop the final tally as you cast (draw) shapes back to back. All this combines into a tall order for most kids to defeat on their own, which is why this is a family experience.
Leaning into the “for kids” angle, there is a cast of cats that summon spells in Purrfectly Portable Edition. In each training session, there are delightful scribbles featuring the cat casters of this game. The player appears as a student and the teacher appears as a wise old wizard in newspapers like comics that have humour, commentary, and hints. The Goku and Mario references were personal favourites. These small story bits were the best part of the game because the actual gameplay is a little shallow for adult players. This is absolutely a family title and a teaching tool for kids to learn games, maybe ages 4 to 7.
When it comes to criticism, Spell Casting: Purrfectly Portable Edition missed some big opportunities to include JoyCon support. As it stands now, the game can only be played in handheld mode with your Switches screen as the touch surface. A few problems arise from this. With adult hands your palm often blocks the screen and parts of the puzzle and frustrates if you use your finger. There is very little room for error, and it’s almost as if a stylus (wand) is required to make the game work as intended. The Switch is cumbersome to hold in handheld mode with one hand, making the precision required for tracing shapes another challenge. It is a puzzling choice that the developers didn’t include a JoyCon tv mode so you could draw with a single controller in hand, using the motion plus tech to wave your hands to make you feel more like a wizard.
As far as looks are concerned the graphics are simple yet appropriate for children. Most of the game is spent in menus without over the top animations or large environments. Other features include a light achievement system tied to progression through spell books and your overall casting count. Nothing too crazy, but still a fair amount to do, especially if you want to fully five star on every level. Keeping with the childlike whimsy, the devs added Christmas and Halloween themed spells that fit right into their family-friendly mold.
Spell Casting: Purrfectly Portable Edition succeeds at wizardly distanced education, but I don’t know if the Nintendo Switch was the best place to showcase what it can do. There is a Steam version with mouse and keyboard controls that might be more up your family’s alley. By no means is this a bad kids game, but the limitation of the Switch in handheld mode holds it back.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Spell Casting: Purrfectly Portable Edition Review
Gameplay - 4/10
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 4/10
Replay Value - 6/10
User Review( votes)
Spell Casting is a great game for kids, but the Switch version loses some of it’s magic.