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W The Magic Garden ith winter now in full effect you may be thinking of getting your seedlings in the greenhouse and turning over the turf. Take a piece of advice though, do not play Magic Garden instead. If you are brave enough to face the rain and snow then you have enough courage to take on a very different style of game. Magic Garden is not a horticulture simulation: it is unlike anything you have ever played.

Grobble is a naughty Gnome who has been banished to a rural garden by the Gnome King. He is imprisoned there until he has all grown up and responsible; which he can prove by making the dilapidated garden both beautiful and functional. The garden contains flower beds, a lawn, vegetable patch, an old hollow tree, a fountain, a greenhouse, a garden shed and a well.

Laughing gnome
Grobble is the sprite, that has to put right, this English country garden. Wandering about he looks like just the sort of jolly, chubby sort of gnome you would be proud to have in the front garden. (Only if you are one of those weird people who think that a small concrete statue looks good - Ed). He is controlled by either joystick or mouse, and can scurry anywhere in the garden. To access the various areas just move him there and up pops a close-in screen of the building or location.

Magic Garden is a test of time and object management. Grobble has a shoplifter’s coat that is packed full of pockets, where he carries his garden-tending tools. To plant seeds for example, he needs a digging tool, seeds and to stand in the flower bed. By accessing his pockets (press fire) he can select which seeds to plant. Clicking on the ‘use’ icon starts Grobble planting, provided he is carrying the trowel. This takes time, though, and while the flowers are being prepared, the lawn may be going to waste, the fountain could be leaking or roof tiles could be falling from the shed.

Capability Grobble?
Gardening is always seen as a relaxing, therapeutic past time, but Grobble has to contend with the random elements that make his life rather hectic. Weather is his primary concern. A forecast meter tells him when bad weather is on the way: this can ruin a good garden.
On top of this are the impish elves who sneak out to steal bits of the lawn and fish that escape from the pond for a float around the garden. Both must be caught and put back in their proper place if the garden is going to be magic, not tragic. These add new twists to the game, forcing Grob to chase, sprite style, around the garden and the tunnels beneath the well.

Magic Garden has a strangely cute feel. Its individual nature is strong enough to stand and be counted as a major development on the Sim City management-style genre. Everything needs to be done at once but only one job can be done at a time. It forces players to grasp the core elements that influence the status of the garden, to maintain these bare necessities and then tweak the peripheral elements.

The graphic language this test uses is its strongest asset; a refreshing and boldly original approach. Using the gnome theme the management is cute without being twee, it is testing but does not feel it. The symbols, flowers, vegetables, lawn mowing, gnome catching etc. interact logically if the humorous logic of the game is appreciated.

Magic Garden is not an action game and can be slow especially when accessing pockets and different areas of the garden. These are not fatal flaws, but they do annoy. If you get into the game, and it does take a while to understand why and what you have to do, it becomes riveting. If you like your games to be instantly accessible stay away from Magic Garden, but if you do not mind a little learning and you fancy something different then it is worth going through the gate for.
Trenton Webb

Amiga Format, Issue 29, December 1991, p.82

Magic Garden
Electronic Zoo * £25.99
  • Looks odd, sounds odd but plays well.
  • Disk access between screens slows the game unnecessarily.
  • This takes a while to learn but is well worth the effort.
  • Mixes sprite style and icons effectively.
  • A bravely original game that can grow and then grip you.
Verdict: 79%


Grüne Magie

The Magic Garden logo

Electronic Zoo hat die digitale Gartenarbeit entdeckt: Hier gibt’s kein Blut, keine Gewalt, noch nicht mal einen Superhelden - nur Zwerg Grobble, der zur Strafe für seine Unartigkeit ein magisches Gärtchen auf Vordermann bringen muss...

The Magic Garden Aufhören darf er erst wieder, wenn das Grünzeug dermaßen wuchert, daß sich der Zwergenkönig nicht mehr einkriegt vor lauter Begeisterung! Aber bis dahin ist viel zu tun: Grobble muß den Rasen mähen, ohne dabei kleine Tiere zu verletzen; der Wasserstand im Brunnen sollte regelmäßig kontrolliert werden, und falls dort Fische herausspringen, müssen sie mit einem Netz eingefangen werden.

An und an schauen freche Zwergekollegen vorbei, die den Torf aus dem Rasen rupfen wollen – Grobble hat’s wirklich nicht leicht! Der kleine Gartenzwerg wetzt ständig von einem Ort zum andern, sät Gemüsesamen auf den Beeten aus, züchtet im Gewächshaus Blumen, reguliert die Temperatur, holt Werkzeug aus dem Schuppen, durchkramt seine Manteltaschen nach Blumensamen und anderen wachstumsfördernden Gegenständen, gießt und repariert und macht und tut...

Auf den ersten Blick ist der magische Garten ein ganz originelles Puzzle-Spielchen, bei dem es vornehmlich darauf ankommt, die richtigen Gegenstände im richtigen Moment zu finden bzw. Anzuwenden. Aber die Geschehnisse wiederholen sich sehr schnell, weil der Garten doch arg klein ist. Manche Grafiken müssen immer wieder neu geladen werden, außerdem sehen sie nicht besonders aus, die Zwergenanimationen sind auch ziemlich daneben. Kurzum, eine gute Idee, aber mäßig ausgeführt. (C. Borgmeier)

Amiga Joker, January 1992, p.?

Amiga Joker
The Magic Garden
Grafik: 39%
Sound: 51%
Handhabung: 58%
Spielidee: 73%
Dauerspaß: 44%
Preis/Leistung: 42%

Red. Urteil: 45%
Für Fortgeschrittene
Preis: ca. 79,- DM
Hersteller: Electronic Zoo
Genre: Mixtur

Spezialität: Putziges Poster, Spielstände speicherbar, nervige codeabfrage nach jedem Game Over.