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Snoopy's Magic Show Review Rewind

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On 05/25/2021 at 11:10 AM by Jamie Alston

There never was any magic, was there?

Unless you like the antagonistic gameplay elements, steer clear of this one.

There is nary a soul out there who hasn’t seen or heard of Snoopy- that lovable beagle in the Peanuts comic dating back to the 1950s. Having existed across various forms of media, it was only a matter of time before Snoopy and friends would end up on a Nintendo system or two. Such was the case in 1990 when Kemco released Snoopy’s Magic Show on the Game Boy. A few years later, one of my sister’s school friends let my brother borrow this game, which I eventually played and completed. Returning to this game as an adult, I have no idea how kid me finished it without a broken spirit.

Snoopy’s pal, Woodstock, is accidentally multiplied into a staggering number of copies after the dog attempted a magic ball trick gone haywire. Your goal is to rescue four Woodstocks in each room before the timer bordering the screen runs out. Much of this involves pushings blocks, destroying barriers, and using warp zones to teleport to remote areas of the room. Some puzzles have additional obstacles like one-way tiles that move you along a specific path and barriers that appear and disappear at various intervals. If the game’s mechanics had stopped there, it would have had a shred of dignity as a middle-of-the-road block puzzle game at the very least.

The primary antagonist is a ball (or two in some levels) that bounces around the room and kills you on contact. Like Captain America’s shield, that thing does not obey the laws of physics. It constantly changes course at will with little consistency to its movements. The ball actively pursues you and does everything possible to cross your path. Initially, I assumed that it was merely the frustration of dying repeatedly and restarting the same room getting to me. But I eventually noticed that the ball always seems to quickly find its way into my area despite the room being full of obstacles that should make such occurrences a rare event.

Attempting to devise any semblance of strategy is rendered pointless since the enemy constantly adapts to your movements no matter what. Worse yet, it continually ricochets at a 45-degree angle, making it extremely difficult to avoid when in close quarters since Snoopy can only move in the four cardinal directions. These gameplay elements add an unwelcome layer of tension in rooms that require interaction with other objects. For instance, movable bricks can only be pushed in one direction. Still, the only way of knowing which bricks can be moved in that particular direction is through trial and error while that infernal ball is constantly gunning for you.

Trying to solve each puzzle while avoiding hazards becomes highly frustrating and feels claustrophobic in the worst way. The same goes for any rooms with warp zones. Teleporting is, at best, a risky endeavor since the killer ball can also teleport if it touches the warp zone. Some warp zones are concealed behind moveable blocks and instantly teleport you to a random part of the room. This results in many occasions where a mistimed warp will send you directly into the path of the hazard.

And don’t make the mistake of stepping on a warp zone at the same time as the enemy, because- you guessed it- you’ll die. It’s particularly misleading that the character sprites blink momentarily while teleporting. In most video games, that usually means you can safely pass through an enemy without being penalized. But this game eschews such logic in favor of instant death.

The game purports to have over 100 levels, but that’s not entirely true. After reaching level 60, the puzzles repeat from the first room with an added twist. In addition to avoiding the bouncing balls, you now need also to avoid Spike- Snoopy’s brother. Spike roams the floor and repeatedly spams narrow areas you need to pass. He also moves faster and can push blocks around, making matters all the more difficult for poor Snoopy. By this point, it feels like the game is trolling the player, daring you to continue to the next level. It’s a game of cat & mouse that feels wholly unnecessary and soul-crushing.

On a more positive note, there are a couple of items in most rooms that can assist you briefly. Touching a clock icon freezes the enemies in the room. Collecting a “P” icon will make Snoopy invincible for a short time. It also allows him to destroy any enemy on contact. But true to the game’s antagonistic antics, both power-ups are always hidden behind bricks, which again requires trial and error. And if you’re fortunate enough to find them, the effects last for barely five seconds, giving you little protection from the bombardment of enemies stalking you. To put it simply, the power-ups are virtually useless.

Strategic thinking and the resulting victory are fundamental principles of the action puzzle genre, but this game completely misses the mark. The enemies are programmed in such a way that your success depends more on chance than it should. Meanwhile, you’re still required to plan around moving blocks, teleporting to other areas in the room, and finishing before time runs out. The flawed implementation of hazards hounding you in each room turns Snoopy’s Magic Show into an exercise in frustration.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Cary Woodham

05/25/2021 at 03:24 PM

I've never played this.  You'd think I would, since I like games where you run around a maze, getting things and chasing after things and running from things.  Looks like it has kind of a Adventures of Lolo/Kickle Cubicle vibe.  But as a kid, I didn't buy too many Game Boy games because I didn't think most of them were worth the money.  Back then as a kid (in my eyes anyway), games were EXPENSIVE!

Sicne Kemco made this, I wonder if they published this same game in other countries using whatever popular character they could get the license to.  That's what happened with Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle.  Have you ever read up on the history of that game?  Man that game had so many crazy licenses, depending on what country that game was released in.  The series has starred characters like Roger Rabbit, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Hugo the European Troll, Garfield, Woody Woodpecker, and even Kemco's own mascot Kid Klown!

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

05/25/2021 at 11:03 PM

I wonder the same thing regarding if Snoopy's Magic Show existed under a different license in other countries too, especially since nothing about the game is unique to the Peanuts comic except for appearances from Spike and Woodstock. Otherwise, you could swap them out with any characters and nothing would be lost.

However, it seems that Kemcvo always intended to make this a Snoopy-themed game since the same game exists in Japan and Europe as well. They made a Game Boy sequel to this, but it was only in Japan.


05/31/2021 at 02:16 AM

I had the GB version of Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 1. I saved up hard-earned money for it after playing it on NES. It admittedly did have enough levels and stuff to give me some bang for my buck, though it wasn't the best game out there. But then, the Game Boy at that time mostly had games like that and Alleyway. Great stuff like Kid Icarus, Metroid II, Link's Awakenening, and the FF Legend/Adventure games took awhile to come out.


05/25/2021 at 07:30 PM

Definitely has Crazy Castle vibes. 

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

05/25/2021 at 11:04 PM

I've actually never play Crazy Castle. I hear it's pretty frustrating and a waste of the Looney Toons license.


06/02/2021 at 02:01 PM

It was okay for what it was, maybe. It had 80 levels, so I guess I got my bang for my buck since I bought it out of my allowance. 

Matt Snee Staff Writer

06/02/2021 at 10:52 AM

Damn, Snoopy skimped on the magic. Cry

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