One of the greatest joys in this column is stumbling across games like Magix: games that I’ve never heard of, because due to their very nature, they haven’t had a lot written about them over the years.
I mean, sure, over the course of this column we’ve seen plenty of games where the “lewd” element is little more than a reward for engaging with relatively mundane game mechanics — Pairs springs to mind — but it’s still interesting to discover games that your average gaming enthusiast likely isn’t familiar with.
Today we’ve got another such example of a game that you almost certainly won’t have heard of, but which is actually worth a play if you enjoy a solid puzzler. I bring you Magix, a 1995 arcade game from Korean developer Yun Sung, a company who are not exactly a household name but who were nonetheless fairly prolific in the mid to late ’90s.
Magix is essentially Tetris with a slight twist. Variously shaped pieces fall down a vertical well, and it’s your job to arrange them in such a way that they create complete lines. Completed lines disappear, and anything that was supported by that line falls down to clear some space.
Rather than simply being an endless marathon-style puzzler, Magix instead divides itself into rounds, with each round requiring you to create a particular number of lines in order to progress. As the round number increases, the game starts making things a little more awkward for you by starting off each stage with a number of blocks in increasingly inconvenient arrangements. This means that in order to clear the stage, you’ll probably want to clear some space as soon as you can.
Clearing space is also important because when you complete a round, you get a bonus according to the number of completely empty lines in the well. As such, the less you have in the well at the time you finish the stage, the more points you’ll get.
Where Magix provides a slight twist on Tetris is that the pieces it uses aren’t exclusively tetriminos made up of four tiles. Along with the usual expected tetriminos are pieces that make use of three and five tiles — small “L” shapes, longer than usual longbois, short stubby longbois, “T” shapes with an extended “leg”, “P” and “q” shapes, and the most awkward of all, “U” shapes that are near-impossible to find a good position for under most circumstances.
It’s surprising what a difference these additional pieces makes. It’s honestly hard to say whether or not it’s “better” than Tetris, because the longstanding appeal of Tetris has always been its simplicity and consistency, but it certainly provides a nice bit of variety — particularly when combined with the interesting level layouts that start appearing after you’ve cleared a few stages.
Magix does undermine its own challenge factor a little bit, though, most notably through the fact that continuing takes you back a round, making the game easier every time you feed in another credit. This means that you’re never really forced to deal with the more complex pre-existing arrangements and progress beyond a point with which you’re comfortable; if you mess up, you simply go back a stage to something you can obviously handle. And to make matters worse, your score doesn’t reset on continuing, either; when combined with this somewhat overenthusiastic generosity, the score is thus almost completely meaningless other than a measure of how long you played.
Magix also has a two-player mode that is largely worthless; rather than adopting a competitive versus formula as in conventional Tetris, the game instead simply allows two players to completely independently work on their own puzzles. There’s no interaction with one another, and both players can be on completely different levels at the same time — whoever beats their stage first causes the background image to change.
And that’s where the lewd comes in. Yes, we’ve got another game where the lewd connection is somewhat tenuous at best, since Magix’s core gameplay has absolutely nothing to do with its saucy content. Instead, the game simply unfolds atop a pixelated, low-colour digitised background of various ladies in a variety of states of undress — usually writhing around in lingerie, but often with exposed breasts and displaying poses that are a lot more obviously “sexual” than in many other sexy games.
One interesting thing about Magix that stands out with regard to its lewd content is that its lovely ladies aren’t exclusively white or east Asian as in most other games of this type; it seems to incorporate models from all over the world with a wide variety of skin tones. Doubtless this isn’t quite what people demanding greater diversity in games had in mind, but it’s noticeable enough to be noteworthy regardless; it’s all the more interesting to see coming from an Asian developer, since many other east Asian lewd games tend to focus almost exclusively on east Asian women if they’re using digitised imagery — and anime-style artwork otherwise.
Is Magix worth playing? Yes, if only as another interesting historical curiosity that not many people talk about. The core gameplay, being essentially Tetris, is solid enough and the sexy ladies provide plenty of incentive to try and progress. As with most lewd games, though, don’t go into this one expecting something that particularly rewards “mastery”; rather, we have another game where the more coins you pump into the machine, the more sexy pictures you’ll end up seeing.
Well, you know, they say sex sells — and I think we’ve certainly seen ample proof of that being true when it comes to arcade games in this column to date!
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