Magicka is a long-running game series from Swedish developer Paradox Interactive that the company has recently decided to go big on. In addition to an upcoming multiplayer spinoff, Paradox has released this version for iOS today, hoping to bring some of the PC game's magic to Apple's touchscreen platform. And in general, they're successful. While it's not perfect, Magicka for iOS does recreate some of the desktop series' wackiness and creativity.
On the PC, Magicka is a top-down RPG of sorts, where players can control various wizards that run around blasting off spells. On iOS, that game has been translated to a side-scrolling beat-em-up, but the spell-combining mechanic from the original title is still included. Basically, you have a series of elemental icons across the bottom of the screen, and you can combine any four to create spells on the fly. Hit four fire icons or ice icons to cast spells of those types, or you can combine fire and water to cast a steam spell, or fire and electricity to cast a thunderstorm spell, or water and electricity to both wet down your enemies, and then light them up with current.
You can attack any of the bad guys that are pestering you or your allies (the game offers local co-op, which can be a lot of fun). There's also a "life" spell to either heal yourself or others. The spells have some really fun effects, too. For example, casting life on the undead hurts them. You can also use a wall spell on your various elements. Extra weapons and robes provide stat bonuses, just like in the main game, but most of the fun involves sussing out which spells to use in any given situation. The game also carries a wacky tone -- Paradox's Swedish sense of humor shines in its weirdness.
I don't think Magicka for iOS is quite as fun or original as the PC title. To a certain extent, Paradox is just trying to spread the brand more than creating an original iOS game. But it is a lot of fun. Whether you're a Magicka die-hard or just want to try the game's spell-creation system on your iPad, Wizards of the Square Tablet is a very good time for a price of US$1.99.