Magic Carpet & Virtua Cop for Sega Saturn

Magic Carpet and Virtua Cop offer very different styles of game play (open world 3D shooter vs. light gun shooter) for the Saturn but both utilize the first person perspective and were well received titles when released. But have they held up?

Magic Carpet, originally released on PC, is a deep and confounding game. After an impressive pre-game FMV intro, you find yourself in a first person perspective floating above the ground (on a magic carpet, obviously) with nary an idea of what it is you’re supposed to be doing. The manual suggests you’re supposed to be collecting mana by killing enemies, but it’s not immediately clear how you’re to accomplish this. Simply diving down and trying to collect mana by riding over it definitely doesn’t work. The key is to build castles around the various level’s terrain and set off hot air balloons to collect the mana and store in each of the castles while you battle monsters and rival wizards attempting to do the same. Sounds pretty fun, right? For me, Magic Carpet is mostly unfulfilled potential thanks to the sketchy and difficult controls. As enemies are on both the ground and in the air, it would be nice to have an easy way to quickly aim up and down but instead you have to press the Z button to lower your carpet to ground level and the C button to raise it back up. This is NOT intuitive in the slightest but whenever you’re moving around a 3D plane, there’s a chance the controls are going to be wonky. Especially on an early 32 bit version of 3D controls. Your wizard has different spells/attacks to employ throughout the game such as fireballs, shield and lightning bolt and the terrains & sounds are interesting and well rendered/programmed. However, the scaling of the terrain leaves a bit to be desired. Moving around the environment in Magic Carpet is a bit like playing in a thick fog where your surroundings only become clear to you once you’re essentially right on top of them. Thankfully there is a world map you can use to direct your wizard towards enemies or other goals which mitigates the scaling deficiencies. I can’t strongly recommend Magic Carpet but I certainly can’t dismiss it as trash.

Virtua Cop, on the other hand, is an unquestioned winner for the Saturn but it’s also a helluva lot less ambitious. I already covered the superior sequel in a previous post but while the original is more “basic”, that doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly enjoyable. Virtua Cop sends you off to shoot bad guys in typical environments such as warehouses, construction sites and the enemy HQ, but there’s still a very satisfying feeling to be had when you shoot an enemy and he falls from his perch above you. You’ll still need to watch out for innocent bystanders and chances to upgrade your gun just like in the sequel. Virtua Cop may have been surpassed in quality by it’s sequel but there’s no good reason to not own the original.

Currently in my collection:

Magic Carpet – game, manual, case C+

Virtua Cop – game, manual, case B+

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