Review: Master of Illusion Express: Shuffle Games (DSI)

Master of Illusion Express: Shuffle Games
Genre: Magic Performance
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 04/13/09

The Master of Illusion DSi titles are stand-alone pieces of the DS title Master of Illusion, which came out about a year ago to an unenthusiastic reception. Master of Illusion was essentially a magic show on the DS, so it stands to reason that the DSi products of the same name are also essentially magic tricks you can download and play around with. As they’re not really “games” in the strictest sense of the term, judging their merit AS games is a little awkward. So instead, we will apply the same concepts we use to judge games to instead judge these downloads as magic trick simulators. Shuffle Games is a group trick that requires audience participation, a minor amount of memorization, and the ability to follow a rhythm. The trick is fairly interesting and impressive if you have the time to learn the method behind it, easy enough to pick up in minutes, and generally impressive, though it’s neither as impressive nor as hard to figure out as Funny Face.

Visually, the Master of Illusion titles are all decent looking, and the designs are colorful and magic-themed. The text is clean and easy to read, the menus are easy to navigate and use, and the tricks are all designed in a cute, appealing fashion. Shuffle Games also comes with tutorial information that’s also well formatted, clean and easy to follow. Most of Shuffle Games is just text displays however, and while that works in the context of the trick, that kind of indirectly makes it the least interesting, visually, of the three tricks. Aurally, the tunes are cute and mysterious, and the various audio effects are solid and fit the product well. Again, the audio isn’t particularly amazing and you won’t be humming the songs in the shower, but what’s here works well enough.

Shuffle Games is essentially a trick that requires the magician to follow a specific rhythm that isn’t immediately apparent, and is done differently from one trick to the next, which makes it a little more clever than it first seems. The trick is actually three tricks in one: you can either use the trick to guess someone’s birthday, their favorite vacation spot, or what they want to do at the moment. This trick is quite easy to learn and perform, as again, it only requires following the specific rhythm of the trick, making it fairly easy to learn and perform at a moment’s notice. On the other hand, Shuffle Games is not an incredibly complex trick, and anyone who pays attention should be able to figure it out fairly quickly. Its own positive is, in effect, its own negative: performing the trick multiple times on one person will allow them the opportunity to figure out how the trick works, as it’s fairly simple, while something like Funny Face might baffle them a good bit more because of its complexity.

Shuffle Games also comes with a bonus trick, Vanishing Card, which asks you to pick a card and watch it disappear. This trick is cute the first time you see it, but easy to figure out if you’re paying attention to more than what the DSi is telling you to watch. Shuffle Games is also already included as a part of Master of Illusion itself, meaning that if you own that, you own these already. If you can find that for cheap, you might not even need these. Of the three tricks, though, Shuffle Games is the one that stands out the best on its own merits. It’s complex enough that you can fool people with it without much trouble, simple enough that a casual magician can pull it off with only a few minutes of practice, and interesting enough that people will wonder how you did it. For someone who’s just looking to fool their friends a bit, Shuffle Games is probably the best option of the lot.

Basically, if you’re an aspiring magician, the Master of Illusion downloads are cute and fun to use, but if you’re just looking to goof around, Shuffle Games is pretty much your best bet. Shuffle Games is easy to learn and perform, and while an observant person might be able to pick up on how it works, it’ll probably be the trick you’ll find easiest to learn and use in most cases, making it the best trick to pick up if you’re not the sort of person who wants to learn slieght of hand and card tricks, but still wants to baffle their friends. Vanishing Card, though cute, can be figured out in two tries, and also comes with the other Master of Illusion downloads anyway and shouldn’t really influence your decision one way or the other. If you’re looking to do some serious magic, the full Master of Illusion might be more your thing, but for someone looking to baffle their friends once or twice and nothing more, Shuffle Games is most likely just what you’re looking for.

The Scores:
Game Modes: POOR
Graphics: MEDIOCRE
Control/Gameplay: ABOVE AVERAGE
Replayability: MEDIOCRE
Originality: MEDIOCRE
Addictiveness: MEDIOCRE
Miscellaneous: ABOVE AVERAGE

Short Attention Span Summary:

The Master of Illusion downloads allow you to perform magic on your DSi to amuse yourself and friends, so if something like that amuses you, these might be worth checking out. Shuffle Games, though not the most complex trick of the lot, is an easy to learn group trick that’s good if you want to amaze your friends, but could be figured out by sharp-eyed volunteers. Vanishing Card might be worth showing to others, though it’s easy to figure out, but again, if you’re just looking to baffle someone real fast, it’s not a bad addition here.. All of these tricks come from the retail version of Master of Illusion, mind you, so if you own that, you don’t need these, and if you’re a fan of magic tricks, you might be better served buying that instead. Shuffle Games is a simple, easily learned and performed trick, and of the lot it’s probably the best bet for the lazy magician.

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