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Stories:  (from Big Fish Sales Blurb)
FIRST STORY – takes you on a journey of magic and wonder as you guide a young lady on a quest to find her brother and stop the manifestation of a terrible evil. As you search beautiful hand-painted scenes for hidden objects, solve cunning puzzles and enjoy delightful mini-games, you`ll move ever closer to the startling discovery at the end of the journey. Hours of relaxing gameplay that will stimulate your mind and enchant your spirit lie ahead!

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MOON LIGHT – After Professor Fobros goes missing from the Magic School, it`s up to Katrina, and her brother Roger, to find him. Discover Professor Fobros` terrifying secret, as you travel around the world in this exciting Adventure game. Unravel an ancient mystery as you piece together a powerful amulet in Magic Encyclopedia 2: Moonlight. Can you solve the tricky puzzles and master the minigames in order to find the professor?

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ILLUSIONS – When Catherine receives word of an attack on the Magic Academy, she sets out to save her school from a fate worse than foreclosure! Join her as she learns about The Illusionist, a wizard that’s changed the appearance of countless objects around the world and is gathering an unstoppable army. To defeat her nemesis, Catherine will have to figure out ways to switch back and forth between reality and deception to solve puzzles and free the Academy Wizards.

Options & Main Menu:  These are very basic in FIRST STORY, are basic in MOON LIGHT, and just a little better in ILLUSIONS, which also has Chapters under PLAY so you can go back in the story if you wish.  However, ILLUSIONS is not Widescreen which is surprising.  There may be a moment of confusion when opening game 2 which just opens as MAGIC ENCYCLOPEDIA – don’t panic – it then moves on to the MOON LIGHT page.

I recently revisited these older games when I realised that I had yet to review them. Obviously games have rapidly developed since these came out, but despite their less sophisticated Options settings, their formats are actually really good and still stand as a great alternative to the sometimes over-complicated later games.  So though the story is a bit basic, the format keeps you moving forward.

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Music & Voice-Overs: The music improves from first to third game, becomes less repetitive and more relevant.  It can be muted down.  1 & 2: there are no Voice-Overs – just intervening black & white drawings of story-lines (not quite story-boards).  3: has story-line in colour.

Extras: Surprisingly, in Game 2 there are MINI-GAMES that you can play after the game ends.

Desktop 1:  (Left) Crystal (1) ; (Left-Centre)Repair Artifact Bar ; (Top Right) Site Coins, Map Globe; (Right Centre) Inventory for completed Artifacts; (Bottom Right) Jewel Box for collected Gems, ? (Hint).
2:  (Left) Crystal (1) ; (Left-Centre)Repair Artifact Bar ; (Top Right) Site Coins, Map Globe; (Right Centre) Inventory for completed Artifacts; (Bottom Right) Amulet for collected Gems, ? (Hint).
3:  (Left) Catherine, Special Items Locked Lens; (Centre) Inventory /Repair Artifact Bar; (Right) Magic Glasses, Crystal Ball (Hint).

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Tutorial:  Automatic tutes that you need to just bear with, follow instructions, then get on with the game.

Graphics:  These are actually quite enjoyable, especially in 3.  The earlier two games tend to be a little blurry at times despite the Game Mode on my screen which does improve them somewhat.  In fact I think this is worse in 2 than in 1.  The locations are well depicted, very suitable to their specific countries, with colourful images that are fun to explore.

Maps 1 & 2:  These are great.  They act as a Default Screen between game levels.  The Origami Crane, that assists you in these games, circles the next site to be explored.  Each site when complete has a red flag above its chosen icon – if there is no flag it means that you still need to find all the Gems.  In 2 a gem will be above it’s site in place of the red flag until you have returned to collect it.  3 has no Map.

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HOPs:  There are none as such, but each site has scattered pieces of items to be found and repaired in the REPAIR ARTIFACT BAR.  I actually like this more than the specific HOPs – you get to immediately do an across the scene (fun) sweep for anything that looks out of place.  Then you can settle down to find the bits, still missing in the Bar below, that may be harder to find.  While you may have to peer when searching for these last items per site, you can use the Hint to find them.   The Hint then recharges slowly.

Mini-Games & Puzzles:   These are in all games, and vary in fun, logic, difficulty and frustration levels.  They can all be Skipped, though you need to look carefully as the Skip button isn’t always consistently positioned.  This also recharges slowly.

Collections:  1: Gems ( at least 2 per site); Question Marks ( varied number per site).
2: Gems  for the Amulet, to travel to the Professor’s Vault.

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Game-play:   As already mentioned, your main play involves collecting parts, solving problems, and moving to the next location, whether via the Map in 1 & 2,  or in 3 via portals which you don’t seem to activate other than by finding scrolls at each of the sites which sends you on through the cut-scene. When you can no longer go any further remember that you can access the second site via the Coins, where you can collect other items for both sites.  In 2 there are sneaky little ‘eye spots’, that show up blue, with a funny noise as you pass over them, to magnify and search for an extra missing part.  You will see an example of this in the pic for MOON LIGHT above.

Tips:  1:  Very important – when preparing to do the Latin words game, don’t panic because you don’t know Latin.  Look beneath your Map!  Assembled Items have to be placed in the right order.
2:  One completed Item goes on to complete another.
3:  in the final scene, smash the mirrored images with the hammer to match each character change by the Illusionist.  Then collect each Item gained in the Magic Glasses Illusion Mode.  Also, to find and collect Fireflies, pick up jar and ‘mouse-over’ it around the screen to show the buzzing Fireflies positions.  To collect Special Items at each Location, you need to visit each scene within it to find all the parts.

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Player Participation:   This is very high in all three games.  In 3 as there is no Map there is a lot of going back and forth between scenes within sites.  This is physically a little tiring, as you have to keep changing the site parameters via the Magic Glasses, but it also part of the fun.

Frustration Factors:  I need to mention here that the Cursor for game 1 floats, especially in some of the Puzzles.  You can either SKIP  all of the affected Puzzles, or to rectify this problem, close the game first, then try resetting your Mouse speed up a little.  If that doesn’t work, or not make enough difference, then go to your TROUBLESHOOTING in the CONTROL PANEL of your computer, select RESET GAME TO EARLIER VERSION, then select MAGIC ENCYCLOPEDIA when it comes up in the (loaded) list, then Test Game for suggested setting, then Apply/Okay.  Then go out and Restart the game.  You should find that it has become at least manageable.
Another frustration is that all games – though less for 3 – load slowly between all scenes.  Patience is required.

Satisfaction Factor:  This is also high, despite the lower sophistication technically of these games.  All three stories are engaging, particularly the third one.  All Item gathering is fun, especially in 3 where the Graphics are the sharpest.  I really like them and hope there can be more of them for PC sometime.

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I highly recommend these games.

Jud House 31/08/2017

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About judsartwork

I write reviews of Adventure and Hidden Object games that are Crime, Fantasy, SciFi, Renovation, Travel, Quest and/or Mystery by genre. I have a Masters in Writing (2006) and have been writing novels, both crime and fantasy for many years; plus Haiku, verse, and prose both fictional and literary. I am also an artist of modern, Acrylic, textural and hard edge work, underwater, fantasy, expressionist, and Cosmos paintings. I use mixed media (Acrylic, Watercolour, Pastels) in textural Monoprints, finding surprises to expose within each work. Having both an analytical and creative mind has meant that I have strong powers of observation, and the persistence required to follow computer problems through till I solve them. Of course I am not always successful, but am willing to ask for a little help in order to then unlock the main problem myself. My Troubleshooting Blog, 'Problems and Solutions', was the result of my tenacity.
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