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Magic Touch

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Rating: 4.2/5 (26 votes)
Comments (26) | Views (4,501)

PatrickMagic TouchThe latest from prolific, UK-based Flash developer, Nitrome, Magic Touch is a "mini-game" that allows you to pop balloons by drawing corresponding symbols with your mouse. Why? Because you're a wizard, and your castle is under attack by robots. Obese robots. Si, si, claro...

The game is "mini" in the sense that, unlike most of Nitrome's other clever titles, there isn't a level progression, or any new elemental additions like new enemies or objects. The same seven symbols you'll see in the first two minutes will be remain stable over the next ten, but the speed of descent will shift. The game gets progressively difficult for this reason, but odds are you won't be done in by a sheer deluge of skill-taxing tasks.

The main problem that underlies Magic Touch is the same problem that underlies all games that rely on gestural input: an unreliable analogue to digital conversion. In other words, games like this demand a symbol that can be drawn in an infinite number of ways, yet boils down to a single command. And while the way you drew the symbol might be perfectly fine to your eyes, it might not be to the very specific method the game employs for interpreting your mouse-scratch, and then you die. The designer at Nitrome knew this, and designed the symbols accordingly; they're all exceptionally simple. The more complex ones—the 8 and the half-8—are really forgiving, you can draw them lop-sided with tiny loops and it still counts. Yet one of the simplest symbols in the history of symbols, the circle, will drive you mad with the precision required to pop its balloon. Odds are that when you lose, it'll be because you failed to draw the circle properly for the third time in a row.

Additionally, the game suffers from an easily correctable flaw; sometimes a robot will float down underneath another robot, and that first robot's balloon will be blocked from view by the second robot. So you've got to wait until you can see what that second bot's balloon symbol (or symbols!) are before popping the more imminent threat. Giving lower bots priority in layering would solve this largely petty, but occasionally disastrous issue.

All in all though, this is worth giving a try, even if the magic touch hasn't yet been completely applied.

Play Magic Touch


Heh. I played the game for about 30 seconds and immediately came here to complain about the circle when I saw I was pre-empted.


Yup, within the first two minutes, I had had to wait for a second knight to come down so I could pop it and see the first, and I had died because of a circle. That mechanic really needs to be improved


I was just killed by a 3-bot chain in a later phase, where by the time I could see the top two, the bottom one hit.


You could just do what I did and remember the few different symbols and then just draw them at random. You're likely to match one that you can't see.


Fun enough to try at least a few times, yet there was one thing I saw. After failing at my fourth attempt to draw an 8, I watched as the enemy with the 8 balloon reached the ground, then the 8 balloon became a ^ balloon, and rose up out of the screen. I'm not sure if i failed to draw an 8 and the game accidentally made a ^, or if it was a fake 8 the whole time. Very strange, very strange. Any ideas?


Vinny its not just you, i tried it a few times with the 8 balloons and they all turned into a ^ when they rose up.


Heh. I'm currently in 4th place with 5710 :)

The random drawing of symbols when an enemy is covered by another does help.

I'm 99% sure that the 8 and half-8 symbols are measured by how many times they cross over each other. I tested by making a spiral and crossing back over it once and it was recognized as a half-8 even though it didn't look much like it at all. With the purple, you can draw sharp angles on it like an hourglass or even like two continuous half-8s side-by-side (looks like a pig's tail) as long as there are 2 intersections.

I also tried finding a better way for the pink circle.

I like to "preload" a half-8 whenever possible, so that if I see yellow, I just let go, but if I see purple, I cross back over.

It's ironic that now that I can do the yellow and purple consistently, my blues and greens sometimes don't get recognized as such.


I'm not a big fan of this one. I don't know what it is, but the more games Nitrome puts out, the less I seem to like them. Considering the amount of time you have before the robots reach the castle, the fact that robots can easily hide other robots can be fatal. Yeah, you could guess, but you shouldn't have to, I don't think.

I don't really understand why there is a time limit for drawing each symbol (not sure if it's a time limit or a limit on the length of the line, but it seems to be a time limit). The descent of the robots is a time limit in and of itself--why do we need another one? It makes it rather hard to draw the "figure eight with the antenna" symbol. At least for me. Could be my lack of coordination.

I am becoming less and less impressed with the rate at which Nitrome pumps out games. It seems like they are going for quantity over quality.


I meant to say I tried finding a better way for the pink circle, but nothing worked well.

There are levels of a sort. The point values of each balloon start at 10, but at some point they become 20 each, then 30, 40, 50, and so on. You just aren't aware of it unless you're watching your score. You could also count the increasing probablility of seeing bigger groups of balloons on an individual robot. Is there ever a 6- or 7-balloon bot?

jasonharper September 1, 2007 2:59 AM

The trick with the circle is to have the end of your line near the beginning, but NOT touching it. A "C" would have been a better symbol for this gesture than a "O".


What balloons?
Did the creator even test the game once? I didn't even start yet...

Clearly, the depth of the balloon-guy should count down and not up for each new balloon-guy. So the next balloon-guy one always shows up behind the previous balloon-guy


Suho1004: The "magic meter" at the bottom left will decrease as a function of time, but only when the cursor is moving, and the speed of the cursor doesn't matter. So if you draw really fast, you can draw symbols the size of the screen. I do think that the descent of the robots is a little too short. A few centimeters more would be nice.


Hot Air 2 was one of the most brilliant online games I've seen, but everything Nitrome has posted since seems to be decreasing in quality. It almost seems that it may not be worth it to review some of their games if they sink to this level of unplayability.


8th place with 7060 for now :)
Has anyone seen a robot with over 5 balloons?


Simply uninteresting compared to other nitrome games.


Not what I've come to expect from Nitrome.


Yep, this game stinks up the place. That balloon behind other knights problem makes it pointless.

And it's WAY too picky about getting the shape drawn just right on some of 'em.

Oh well, that was forty-seven seconds wasted.


It's really not that hard once you know what the game is looking for:

half-8 (yellow) - the line crosses over itself once

8 (purple) - the line crosses over itself twice

circle (pink) - the ends of the lines are close together but not touching

You can draw these 3 shapes as jagged as you want (drawing open-cornered triangles for the pink symbol works most of the time) and in any direction/orientation (so you CAN draw a C for the pink circle if you're careful).

And like I said before, the purple doesn't even have to look like an 8 or an hourglass. It can be an ampersand or two continuous loops like a pig's curly tail.

I also have a new strategy:

I draw out something that I hope will be recognized as the pink circle, but I don't release the mouse just yet.

If I see a pink balloon, then I just release.

If I see a yellow balloon, I draw a vertical line downwards that makes 1 intersection.

If I see a purple balloon, I go down like I'd do for yellow, but then go back up to make a 2nd intersection. It looks something like the V in a circle in the movie V for Vendetta.

For any other balloon, I just release and draw whatever is needed.

I got back up to 10th place with 6960. Fortunately, I didn't have the layering problem at all.


It's a nice idea towards the Nintendo Wii though ...

Long time player, first time complaner September 3, 2007 12:31 PM

I have always thought that Nitrome games were well programmed, and always new, original ideas. Well some of their recent games have really changed my mind, and Magic Touch? Rubbish.


So the high scorers get there by GUESSING at what the next shape will be?!?

Is it just me or does that scream "Poorly designed game!!" to anyone else?

It's still too picky about how you draw some shapes and lets you get away with sloppiness on others.

Another huge problem is the playing area is way too short. By the time you can see the stupid balloons the creature is halfway to the castle.

Pathetic offering on way too many levels.

Throbert McGee September 9, 2007 11:38 PM

Was I the only one who found myself re-drawing the freakin' vertical line of the orange balloon more than any other shape?

I'm gonna vote in FAVOR of the overlapping robots that sometimes obscure each other's balloons -- I thought it added challenge rather than frustration.

Incidentally, the robot design reminded me of the Skeksis "bug-stormtroopers" from The Dark Crystal.


Wow. This is almost as bad as Toxic. Nitrome needs to step it up a notch... Square Meal wasn't too bad, but Toxic, Dangle, and Magic Touch just aren't fun... they need to take a break, methinks.

Anonymous November 6, 2007 4:51 PM

if you draw the circle really small it helps a lot.
but the game is a bit blah anyhow:/


Yeah, the vertical line is really wierd. It doesn't let you get away with a horizontal or anything. The game ain't that great... but it's a good waste of time IF you have time.
It helps to have a touch screen with a pen. HEHEHE.


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