Game Reviews

Mystery Castle 2

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Mystery Castle 2

The Android platform finds itself in a somewhat awkward place at present. Stuck between Apple’s seemingly unstoppable iPhone and the progressively archaic-looking standard Java-based mobile devices, it’s been blighted with a somewhat underwhelming flow of amateurish applications and lazy ports of old mobile games.

A cursory glance at Mystery Castle 2 might lead you to assume it falls in the latter camp - this is, after all, a game that appeared three years ago on standard phones. However, as was the case with part one of the series (which we reviewed a few weeks ago), this is most definitely an adventure that’s worth revisiting.

Once again Monty the Wizard takes centre stage, but instead of clearing out cobweb-filled castles he’s traveled to the Far East and has set his sights on conquering the pagoda of an evil vampire baron.

Although the location may have changed, the basic gameplay remains very much the same: the bloodsucker’s fortress is filled with locked doors that can only be opened by collecting the pre-requisite number of gemstones.

These are scattered through the various rooms of the building, and to obtain them all you’ll have to solve the fiendish puzzles set by the nefarious baron.

These usually involve moving blocks around in order to fill gaps and create makeshift bridges. The placement of said blocks is very deliberate and more often than not the solution to each room requires pin-point movement of the objects contained within.

Thankfully, if you get stuck or push a block in the wrong direction you can choose to restart the room from the beginning - something that you’ll find yourself doing often, as some of the later conundrums are downright evil - which of course makes it all the more satisfying when you eventually crack them.

As was the case with its predecessor, Mystery Castle II throws a few other elements into the mix in order to keep the challenge fresh and interesting. The most obvious is the presence of enemies that will think nothing of sending Monty to an early grave, ignoring his pathetic offer of an impromptu magic show completely free of charge.

Also, some doors can only be opened by collecting the right scroll, which further complicates Monty’s quest and makes things even more testing for the player’s grey matter.

Runestone Games hasn’t really given Mystery Castle 2 a massive facelift since its mobile outing three years ago: the most notable improvement is the expanded playing area and higher resolution visuals. It’s more of a subtle retouching than a full-scale paint job.

Ultimately, your opinion of Mystery Castle 2’s graphics is likely to hinge on whether or not you feel that hand-drawn 2D visuals have a place in today’s games. We happen to quite like the look of the game as it harks back to classic 16-bit titles such as Chip’s Challenge, but that's just us.

Despite the change of scenery and the anime-styled aesthetics, Mystery Castle 2 essentially offers the same gameplay that we saw in the Monty’s first outing. This can be viewed as either a good or bad thing: if you lapped up the original then you’re obviously going to enjoy this, but those of you that experienced head-scratching feelings of indifference are unlikely to come to a dissimilar conclusion here.

A little bit more innovation wouldn’t have gone amiss, but for just over £1 this represents excellent value for money. It may be old skool but Mystery Castle 2 could teach modern games a few tricks.

Mystery Castle 2

Spell-binding puzzle action prevails in this deliciously old-school romp, but if you’re expecting eye-popping action then you may come away slightly vexed