Guardians of Magic - Amanda’s Awakening falls into the strict adventure game category. The focus is on the story, puzzles and inventory items. There are no hidden object scenes. It falls on the short side, but the puzzles and fun gameplay do make up for that a bit. It feels more like the first episode of a game than a whole game itself, akin to what Telltale Games does. For the price, it’s a solid adventure experience, and one we can only hope will see another release.
Amanda finds herself suddenly alone after her grandfather passes. She goes to his home and starts to investigate, discovering more about the world of magic she didn’t know. She was aware magic existed and her grandfather practiced, but she chose science over magic at an early age. By the end of the game, she’s decided to devote herself to her grandfather’s causeÂ - as the title suggests. The story involves a conflict between the worlds of magic and science, with her mentorÂ smack dab in the middle of this battle.Â This title ends with Amanda embracing her heritage and defeating the evil scientist, although because of the wonderful job the writers did with the backstory, we feel for the scientist and can somewhat understand his point of view.
I’ve never done acid or any other kind of recreational drug for that matter, but I can only assume Space Giraffe is the byproduct of all those hits or joints smoked or pills popped or needles thrown away; it’s like playing Tempest while watching a laser light show set to the 70s sounds of The Doors. Despite the fact that there are some infuriating parts to it, this mishmash of old arcade sensibility mixed with high-octane music and visuals, produces a surprisingly fun and crazy arcade game.
You play as a giraffe, which isn’t anything like the longneck animal of the same name, but is instead rather a three-pronged spaceship that shoots psychedelic flower petals from its head and two arms. As the giraffe, you’ll find yourself strapped to the end of several wire framed levels, either able to go left to right, up or down, or around and around depending on the layout of the board. As you travel the edge with your blasters firing steadily without having to press any button, you’ll see X shaped creatures slowly making their way towards you. As the giraffe, it’s up to you to destroy them before they get to you (of course, if they do get to you, you can always just bump them off the level).
As you advance through the levels, you’ll start facing more and more of these creatures, and soon they’ll start firing bullets at you, which will be the bane of your existence. The bullets, like everything in the game, are flashing lights of bright, groovy displays of pyrotechnics, which blend into the level a bit too well, leading to many deaths over and over. Thankfully, instead of just having to avoid them, you can shoot the bullets and send them temporarily off the board as well. Another enemy you have to watch out for are the flowers, which will grow towards you, stopping slightly above the level where you are shooting from, so that if you go too far in one direction, you’ll run into their stalk and lose a life.
To help you combat these obstacles, you’ll receive help in the way of bomb powerups (unleashing a fury of laser bombardments, erasing all the enemies that are on the board at a time), and then the giraffe also has a jump feature, which allows you to jump off your track, pushing yourself away from it, and giving you a bit more room to move and view things for a short time.
Despite the bullets and flowers, perhaps the greatest enemy is the boards themselves, which are generally too much on a flat plane of existence, making it so that you can’t properly see everything in your straight path, which will have you running into plenty of things you didn’t know were there, and only because you couldn’t see them at the time. Of course, if it isn’t the flatness of some of the board levels, it’s the fact that so much blends into each other because of the hypnotic trance of the visuals, making your bullets get lost in the swirling dance of colors in the background.
However, despite some major difficulty shortcomings, the game is a blast with its kooky styling, such as featuring pictures hidden in the vibrating colors, lambs baaahing, people sneezing, and plenty of old school game gags and references, like after you complete a level saying the giraffe is in another castle. The game also goes out there with its ranking system, giving you such rankings as “Meh” even when you thought you just tore up a rather hard level.
The best thing about the game is the graphics, because though they are very old school with its straight lines, the lovely ballet of colors is really a visual treat. If there is one thing to praise above all others with this game, it would be the sound work. Whether it is the insane sounds of sheep, sneezes, or whatever â€“ the game sounds great. Plus, the odd sound effects work well with the overall game, as the pounding bass and piano tinkling rhythms will really get your head bobbing as you swiftly scoot about, taking down enemies; heck, you could turn this puppy on at a party and you’d have an instant rave going on â€“ lightshow, music, and all.
It’s got some pretty big problems holding it back from being a truly amazing game, but that doesn’t stop it from being an interesting look at game design and a fun game to boot. You also get a ton of levels to play in, plenty of achievements, online leaderboards, and it all comes in under a few bucks â€“ nothing much to complain about.