If Maria the Witch and Rovio's Retry were to ever run into each other at a party, there'd be an immediate argument about who should go home and change.
Granted, the two games seem like they're miles apart on paper. Maria the Witch is about a clumsy young magic-user that needs to get a handle on her broom, whereas Retry is about a clumsy pilot that needs to perform some serious maintenance on their bird.
Beyond their dissimilar premises, the challenges both games throw at you have a lot in common. Try and land your loopy witch or your insane plane without crashing and burning. Avoid cliffs. Avoid obstacles.
And for the love of Zeus, avoid clouds. They're like lovable sky-sheep in our world, but in the world of Maria the Witch, they're electrified death.
Witch on a Plane
Let's get it out of the way: Retry technically came before Maria the Witch. Retry soft-launched in Canada, Finland, and Poland in April. The current version, 1.4.3, went live worldwide on October 21. Maria the Witch seemingly launched without a soft release on October 15.
But while Maria the Witch has a lot in common with Retry, Naps Team put an admirable effort into squeezing more charm and content into their game.
Unfortunately, some of these efforts highlight the game's weaknesses and make them impossible to ignore.
For one thing, Maria the Witch's character design treads a really weird path between "tribute" and "rip-off." The titular Maria looks uncomfortably similar to legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki's Kiki the Witch from Kiki's Delivery Service.
The game's seaside background likewise hews closely to the movie's airy setting. There's even a Miyazaki look-alike that rides a Totoro-style cat, which may indicate the character designs were copied in the spirit of parody.
The "tribute" is otherwise played pretty straight, though. It's all kind of bizarre.
More troubling are the meandering stages. Maria the Witch's challenge comes from trying to gain equilibrium while flying. When you hold the side of the screen, Maria performs an endless loop-de-loop on her broom.
You steer the young witch by positioning her with said loop-de-loop, and then issue small taps to drive her forward.
It sounds complicated because it is complicated; Flappy Bird's smell is all over Maria the Witch, same as it's all over Retry.
But whereas Retry serves up small stages, Maria the Witch requires players to zip back and forth through a stage in order to grab mail, put it in floating mailboxes, and then fly to the end of the level.
Despite the oft-insane challenge of each level, there are some pretty neat ideas at work here. Maria can navigate through water via giant bubbles, and find hidden passageways that hide coins. Coins are necessary to "buy" checkpoints - and they're very difficult to nab (of course, you can buy them with cash).
No checkpoint? If you so much as tap the edge of a cloud, it's back to the start, Henrietta Potter.
It's like black magic
The coins bring up another problem with Maria the Witch - advertisements disguised as "tips." Needless to say, dying is a part of life in this game.
Nearly every time you eat it, a tip pops up and asks you if you'd like to spend (large amounts of) coins to get past tough bits.
Permanent upgrades are advertised, too. "Why don't you buy a magnet to draw items towards you?" the game asks over and over. Because I didn't want to the first twenty times you made me stare at this advertisement. Thank you.
It's easy to admire what Maria the Witch is going for here, and anyone that thinks Retry is child's play is certain to appreciate the extra-thick challenge up for grabs in Maria the Witch.
The question is whether or not someone out there thinks Retry is too easy. Otherwise, the long stages and advertisements deliver tonnes of frustration without much fun.