Mago feels like a long-lost ‘hidden gem’ platformer from the SNES days
The free ‘Villain’s Burger’ prologue is worth playing on Steam if you dig action-platformers
If you’ve run out of retro games to satisfy your nostalgia cravings, then chances are pretty good that you’ve looked around for “hidden gems” for your old-school platform of choice. After tearing through the cream of the crop and the cult classics, it’s natural to start lowering your standards a smidge for flawed, interesting, memorable oddities — the kind of games that get lovingly lumped together in “underrated” or “overlooked” lists.
Mago, an upcoming action-platformer for PC, doesn’t qualify exactly. It’s new! But to me, it captures some of that “wow, how have I never heard of this?” factor. It’s pretty dang neat.
I haven’t played Mago yet, technically — but an extensive free prologue called Mago: The Villain’s Burger just dropped on Steam this week, and it was half an hour well spent.
After seeing a wide-ranging trailer that featured spell-slinging, mech punch-outs, and plenty of out-there boss battles, I knew it’d be a good fit. Mago calls back to the time when we had loads of games with cavemen protagonists, because hey, we’re allowed to do that. There’s a lot going on with this game. In a good way! I’m not sure how “cohesive” everything is, but that also doesn’t necessarily work against it. I appreciate the variety.
I also have to shout out the explorable overworld map, as pictured above — it’s nice to just walk around in between levels and catch your breath. It’s a choice, and I respect that.
During Mago‘s bread-and-butter levels, you’ll fire a spell to stun enemies or unfurl vine walkways and also dash, swim, bounce, and collect orbs scattered along the way for eventual character upgrades. There’s a snappy sense of momentum, and the sprites — including our nimble sorcerer protagonist — are pretty beefy. Think Wario Land 4 beef.
This prologue version of the game also includes some auto-run challenges in which you’ll hop over foes and pitfalls as an ever-charging bird. With speed boosts to nab and speed downs to try and dodge, it’s got a bit of that Donkey Kong Country mine-cart-level trickery to it; some of the item placements can be devious fakeouts. These sections were a bit basic in Mago: The Villain’s Burger, but the trailer for the full game shows more flexibility.
Instead of spending my orbs on more health or an alternate look to replace my sorcerer’s robe, I went ahead and blew it all on a frantic time trial with stitched-together rooms.
Even though the timed challenge is mostly the same kind of platforming with the same general obstacles, the pressure is on — both in terms of an on-screen countdown and the fact that you have to spend orbs on every attempt — and that got the better of me. Sometimes, I’d have to double back to get a key to escape my current room. One particular segment, a “run out the clock” survival room with a bouncing spiky enemy, was my undoing. I knew its path, I swear I did, but I cracked under pressure. I had fun either way.
In other words, I haven’t seen every morsel the Mago prologue has to offer, but I’ve had a good enough time so far to want to invest more into it. The demo did its job.
Whether you’re only curious enough to try this precursor or you think you’d be down for the complete experience, Mago is worth watching. Dream Potion Games and HypeTrain Digital haven’t announced a release date just yet, so sample away.