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Lost Oddities: Rub, Touch, Shout, and Feel the Magic!

Impress your true love!

I experienced my first real crush when I was in high school. I met her during the first week of class, and as strong as my feelings towards her were, there was no way that my young self was actually going to act on those feelings. Yet, destiny is uncontrollable, and by destiny, I mean those closest to me at time that my naive, teenage mind decided could be trusted with my most personal secrets. My friend told someone about my crush, who then told someone else, who then, well, you probably know how this went down. It spread, people stopped me in the hallway to ask, “are you going to do it?” My hand was forced, and at the homecoming game I was going to do it. I of course took as long as possible. If I saw her group of friends walking my way, I suddenly needed to use the restroom. “Hey Jurge! I found her. She’s over there!” I would hear. “Oh, wow, I didn’t see her there. I’ll be right back, I have to do… the lemo… I’m going to get something to drink!”


I would eventually ask her out on a date, but at the first moment of me stumbling on my script that I nervously rehearsed all day, I folded. I kept stumbling on my words and at some point I mentioned that my cat died that weekend (I have never owned a cat).

The point of all of this is that initiating and keeping an intimate relationship can be sort of harrowing. It’s a tense, nerve wracking, sweaty, and awkward experience, but one that, for the longest time, we were not able to successfully emulate for others to experience. Like many human breakthroughs, it was just a matter of waiting for the correct piece of technology to present itself, for us to mirror what is so essential to the human condition.


In 2004, Nintendo unleashed the Nintendo DS, a dual screen handheld gaming system with a single-touch screen. This new way to play launched with an eccentric title from SEGA’s Sonic Team. Feel the Magic XY/XX, known in European regions as Project Rub, is a collection of mini-games that is really hard to believe headlined the system’s launch. With its minimalistic, far-out 70s styled box art of a slender, featureless woman in a bathing suit, it really stands out in the group of launch titles like Super Mario 64 DS, Ridge Racer DS, and Sprung (we might come back to this one some other time).

Feel the Magic chronicles a day in the life of a featureless young man represented by a black shadow, whose only distinguishing physical traits are his hair and the clothes on his person.
This is how everyone in the game is represented. In fact, the box art for it really serves as a style guide for the rest of the game, as that aesthetic dictates the game’s graphic design and characters. Sharp oranges, yellows, and the occasional blue color the games austere art.


Source: Gamesradar +

When walking down a typical street he sees her, the woman of his dreams, and it’s love at first sight. Before he can even greet her, a group of men with bunny ears frantically approach him and introduce themselves as “The Super Performance Group Rub Rabbits.” They will be his morale support, his cheerleaders, as he tries to get and retain her attention through various mini-games that accurately depict the blossoming of a romantic relationship. When I approached my own crush and spoke to her on that night, I thought that I felt butterflies in my stomach, but what I actually felt was the feeling of having a goldfish trapped in my stomach, and as it swam around it eventually found its way to my sphincter. Thank you Feel the Magic, for perfectly encapsulating that feeling in a way that I couldn’t even hope to be able to express.


Source: GameFAQs

That mini-game is one of the first you encounter in Feel The Magic, and it sets a precedent for the rest that are to follow. They are animated, peculiar, and almost force a smirk on your face. Some of them are a sort of take on the various idioms we have come up with to describe the strange, but incredible relatable moments that occur in a relationship. When you first see that beautiful guy or gal, you might think to yourself, “why would they pick me? They probably have so many other better choices.” But then you decide to go for it.

Executing your approach will be challenging. Walking the fine line of being charming and not coming off as creepy or desperate is very difficult. Almost like riding a unicycle on a steel beam that connects two 100-story skyscrapers. I would say that’s a pretty apt comparison.
It’s hard to play Feel the Magic and not draw the connection between it and the WarioWare series of games; a game series that’s also a collection of unconventional mini-games. I think it’s a fair comparison, and I actually think more games out there should borrow elements from that series, but their tones are pretty evident. WarioWare feels like a product for all ages, while Feel the Magic skews slightly more mature. Don’t get too excited though, because for a game with one of its titles being Project Rub and the subject matter it covers, it’s pretty innocuous. There are some moments that would make you blush, but I would hardly even consider them risqué. It’s clear that Feel the Magic comes from a different era of touch enabled games, before we twisted that power to create some suggestive gameplay opportunities.


I could keep describing the game’s collection of mini-games, but I feel it’s way more fun to discover them naturally. This is a title worth revisiting.

It’s visual direction is  something else and it feels like it came from a SEGA that was long gone by 2004. This is the same publisher and development house that would release the western ‘inspired’ game Shadow the Hedgehog just one year later. This game feels more like the SEGA of the late nineties and early 2000s. A SEGA that was hungry, felt like it had something to prove, and because of that creativity was at an all time high throughout all of its studios; the publisher of games like Rez, Space Channel 5, and Seaman. For that reason alone I think it’s worth returning to, if only because it really is a fascinating thing. One that harkens back to what made an iconic publisher so revered.  



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Author: Jurge Cruz View all posts by
Jurge writes about old games and more in the name of Irrational Passions. He has OPINIONS. He also has a movies podcast named Movies Are Reel and a games podcast calledJurge, Ryan, Video Games. Follow him on twitter @jcruzalvarez26

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