©Magica Quartet/Aniplex・Magia Record Partners

Madoka Magica has a new smartphone game in Japan. It kind of reminds me of another one of my favorite games—not that that’s a bad thing!

Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an anime series that initially aired in the Winter season of 2011 and on its surface is the story of a young girl, Madoka Kaname, who is swept up in the world of magical girls. The series was a fascinating exploration into—and deconstruction of—the magical girl genre itself, earning the series massive popularity. Now, the publishers of the original series have released a new game based on the world of Madoka Magica, Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Magia Record.

Image source: マギアレコード公式 on Twitter

The story of Magia Record involves the game’s original protagonist Iroha Tamaki and her search for her missing sister whose existence seems to have been erased from people’s memories. Iroha’s search takes her to the city of Kamihama, a mysterious city where magical girls—who are usually solitary and territorial hunters—are gathering.

The game is being published by Aniplex, the publishers of another extremely popular smartphone game that is currently making waves in Japan, Fate/Grand Order. An avid player of FGO myself—729 total days logged in in a row and counting—when I first learned about Magia Record‘s battle system, I couldn’t help but notice some glaring similarities.

Not that that’s a bad thing. I mean, it’s not like FGO has a monopoly on card-based battle systems.

First off was the three card attack system and the three types of cards. In FGO, the three types of battle cards are Buster, Arts, and Quick. Buster are for heavy damage, Arts increase a character’s NP gauge that, when filled, allows for a super attack, and Quick is the weakest, but allows for the drop of critical stars which increase the chance of a critical hit the next turn.

In Magia Record, the three types of cards—called “Disks” in the game—are Blast, Accele, and Charge. Blast deals more damage and can hit multiple enemies and Accele charges a character’s MP that, when filled, allows for a super attack. The outlier is the Charge disk which charges a character’s connect ability, an ability that allows for combos between the characters in your party. Depending on which disk is selected first, it applies a bonus to the subsequent disks.

 

The story is divided into segments that each consists of a visual novel part and a battle part. Again, this isn’t necessary a feature that FGO came up with first, but it does still contain similarities, including a lot of emphasis placed on the story—as well as in-game dialogue choice that don’t seem to have have any real impact beyond the next two or three lines of text.

Magia Record also features special cards—called “Memoria”—that can be equipped by individual characters for various effects. This is similar to FGO‘s Craft Essences. However, where in FGO the effects are entirely passive, in Magia Record these Memoria can act as equippable skills for more tactical control.

©Magica Quartet/Aniplex・Magia Record Partners

Then there’s the randomized summoning system—better known in Japan as the “gatcha.” This is a feature of pretty much every free-to-play game, where players are offered two tiers of summoning, the “standard” type where players can use easily obtained in-game currency to summon low-ranking items, and the “premium” type where player can use not-as-easily obtained in-game currency to have a chance at summoning some of the best stuff. The in-game currency for the “premium” type of summon is also conveniently purchasable with real money. This isn’t anything new. However, FGO is famously rather stingy with its odds. The pull rate of the best 5 star Servants is a piddling 1%, one of the lowest rates out there. In Magia Record, the best magical girls are the 4 star girls. This currently includes characters like Madoka Kaname and Mami Tomoe from the original series. The pull rate for 4 star girls? 1%.

Image source: アニプレックス on YouTube

Despite everything stated above, Magia Record is very much its own game. Battles consist of up to four magical girls and one support against up to nine enemies at once, as opposed to FGO where it’s three heroes (with 3 in reserve) vs up to three enemies. The battlefield is also divided into grids of nine with the previously mentioned Blast disks affecting everything in either a horizontal or vertical row in the grid, adding an element of tactics in how characters and enemies are placed. Each battle in Magia Record also has three optional tasks for how the battle is fought that can be cleared for bonuses. FGO doesn’t have any optional missions for battles. Characters in Magia Record gain exp through battles as well as items as opposed to items only in FGO. Magia Record also has more player interactivity where players can fight against other player’s teams.

©Magica Quartet/Aniplex・Magia Record Partners

Finally, on the technical side, Magia Record seems to be much more stable. I haven’t had the game crash once, whereas with FGO, Noble Phantasm crashes can pretty much be business as usual unless you’re using a high-end phone or tablet.

System-wise, it’d be a stretch to call Magia Record a Fate/Grand Order clone. That said, there’s a lot that does make it feel like someone took the FGO game system as a foundation and found ways to add or improve to it. Even as a long-time FGO player, despite the noticeable similarities, Magia Record has enough originality to feel like its own thing—maybe it’d feel less like FGO if they increased the odds for summoning a 4 star magical girl… For a fan of Madoka Magica, it’s a welcome addition to the franchise—especially since, narratively, it can still be considered canon, despite the finality of how the series ends.

©Magica Quartet/Aniplex・Magia Record Partners

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Magia Record can be downloaded from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store. There is currently no word on an English version of the game. The original anime, Puella Magi Madoka Magica can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll, and with English dialogue on Amazon Anime Strike.

Fate/Grand Order can be downloaded from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store. The anime special inspired by the game—Fate/Grand Order -First Order—can be viewed with English subtitles on Daisuki, Crunchyroll, and AnimeLab.

Comments (2)
  1. I’m genuinely glad to hear positive things about this game. I love the Madoka Magica franchise – the anime was outstanding and the vast majority of the manga are fun expansions on the original idea – so I was looking forward to this game; as the introduction of original characters is always a benefit in the long run.

    Hopefully Aniplex remembers the North American fanbase for the Madoka franchise and brings this one over here too as I would love to play it.

  2. Mobage game about collecting cards with girls feels like other mobage about collecting cards with girls?
    Peak intellectual writing right there.

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