Magicka is an attempt to make the side-scrolling brawler work on a touchscreen device. It takes the basics of the genre, then cleverly twists them into new shapes that work better than floating joysticks ever could.
So you've got your combos and special moves, as well as all the rest of the violence you'd expect from a beat-'em-up. You've also got impressive cartoon graphics, a deep co-op mode, and a rich vein of humour running throughout.
And it's all squished together in a package that works on a touchscreen in ways a traditional entry to the genre never could.
You play as a young wizard tasked with freeing a fantasy kingdom from violence and oppression. With a tongue lodged in your cheek, a magic staff, and a slew of different spells at your disposal you set out to right some wrongs and kill some bad guys.
These spells are represented by a series of buttons around the bottom of the screen. They're your basic elemental fare, with fire, lightning, earth, and water all present. You also have a healing spell and a shield spell you can use to fix any damage you've taken and protect yourself during tougher fights.
Your movement and attacks are all controlled with taps. You tap a spell, then tap the enemy you want to fire it at. Tapping a spell more than once adds to its potency, but if you're trapped in a corner it's sometimes a better idea to spam out a few quick attacks to buy yourself some breathing space.
Different enemies have different vulnerabilities and strengths, and learning which spell to use when is part of the game's allure. You can also combo together different elements to create different attacks.
Blending together a heal spell and an offensive spell, for example, creates a beam that blasts out of your wizard and does large amounts of damage. You learn other combinations as you progress, until you've built up a powerful arsenal.
The game doesn't quite eradicate the problems of action gaming on a touchscreen, though, with the control method occasionally slipping up and firing a bolt of electricity in your direction instead of at a foe. And while it is slick, some might find it a little one-note.
Still, Magicka is a fast, funny game, and its four-player co-op is the frenetic icing on what's a delicious, if not quite filling morsel.