Review: Dress Up! Time Princess - Magic Lamp Visual Novel

Magic Lamp was the last visual novel I completed in the Dress Up! Time Princess smartphone app and will likely be my last one, at least for a while. This app is extremely addictive and time-consuming. If you download it, be sure not to start new stories lightly. Take your time with them. Don't attempt to do three stories at once like I did. The Magic Lamp novel contains two chapters and takes about as much time to go through as Queen Marie, which is a little over a month. This novel stands apart from the others in the game because of its Arabian setting. Similar to Swan Lake, the story begins as a gender-bent retelling of "Aladdin," complete with similar-looking characters and costumes, but it goes in an unexpected direction by the end of the first chapter. Magic Lamp reveals secrets about the characters' pasts that are very different from the fairy tale or Disney interpretation.

Magic Lamp visual novel book cover in Dress Up! Time Princess

Players who enter the world of Magic Lamp assume the role of Gina, a slave girl who is liberated with the help of a handsome stranger who turns out to be Prince Kahir of the Full Moon Kingdom. Gina is tasked with recovering a special lamp from a dark cave by a sinister-looking sorcerer with a cobra staff. Don't be fooled by the resemblance these characters bear to the classic Disney movie. This story takes a very different twist from any other version of "Aladdin" even though it make a few tongue-in-cheek references to the Disney version by naming the pieces of its Jasmine costume "Shining Bangles," "Shimmering Slippers," "Splendid Earrings," and "Speechless." The plot of Magic Lamp has two distinct paths the player can take in each chapter based on whether they pursue the genie, Light, as a love interest with the evil sorcerer Chapur as a villain or Prince Kahir as a love interest with the Prime Minister as a villain. As a long-time fan of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, in which Wonderland's Alice falls in love with a handsome genie, I opted for Light's route first and completed Kahir's arc later for the sake of completion.

Light, the genie/love interest in Magic LampPrince Kahir, a love interest in Magic Lamp

For me, Light's story arc is more engaging than Kahir's. Light offers Gina a chance to have her wishes granted, but in truth, he needs her more than she needs him. She is tasked with finding a magic ruby that was stolen from his lamp to restore his powers and memories. The deeper she falls into the rabbit hole, the more Gina realizes that Light's past is intrinsically linked to the other characters in the story. I found his path extremely rewarding thanks to the beautifully romantic ending and the magical secrets that get revealed about his past and Chapur's. This story gives Chapur a stronger motivation as a villain than Jafar had due to a traumatic incident from his past. Kahir's arc is more simplistic and revolves around his desire to help Gina and his connection with Sinbad, a worldly socialite with many important contacts. The most interesting thing about Kahir's path is that his mother is the famous Scheherazade of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, where the original story of "Aladdin" comes from. She is the most humble and tragic queen I've ever seen in a fairy tale. She was forced to marry the king after he stole a magic relic from her but grew to love him and her son over time due to her submissive nature. I think Kahir's path would have been more interesting if it elaborated further on his mother's tragic past.

In-game artwork of LightKahir's mother, Queen Scheherazade

The fashions in this visual novel were a mixed bag for me. Some of the most beautiful outfits in this story are the ones that you can only win by getting lucky in the app's lottery system and are not required to play the story levels. I liked the veils and dangly golden jewelry better than many of the outfits themselves. The flowing Arabian fashions are a big change from the stiff hair and poofy ballgowns in the Queen Marie novel. It's refreshing that each visual novel in Dress Up! Time Princess unlocks a brand new style of clothes for your wardrobe, but I wish that some of the required outfits were a little nicer. Many of the required outfits are bland and baggy robes that a nomad might wear to traverse the desert. They may be practical, but they aren't very pretty. One of my favorite sets, the Wondrous Rose, which contains a gold fez-style crown and dazzling oversized gold earrings with little pearls hanging over a flowing red and gold dress with sheer white sleeves, didn't even have any pieces as a requirement to unlock any of the story levels.

Dawn Breaks costume--a sheer pink skirt over a long-sleeved white top with a long pink veil with pearl accentsWondrous rose - a gold fez-like crown and dazzling oversized gold earrings with little pearls hanging from them over a flowing red and gold dress with sheer white sleevesLush Oasis - a green Tinker Bell-style dress with a long green veil and floral jewelry accents

Overall, the Magic Lamp visual novel in Dress Up! Time Princess is a clever reimagining of the story of "Aladdin" with a female protagonist. I love the idea of being able to romance a genie, something that was briefly explored in the recent Aladdin remake, but was done best in the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series. The mysterious backstory between Light and Chapur was surprisingly deep and complex. It was a pleasure to follow their path and uncover their secrets over the course of the novel. Kahir's path offered a lighthearted alternative, though his mother was deep and fascinating as well. I wish the game offered as much insight into Queen Scheherazade's past as it did with Light and Chapur. Though some of the required fashions were a little frumpy, I loved the elaborate gold jewelry, flowing veils, and mystical-looking accessories. I would recommend this visual novel as the second story for players to unlock after completing Queen Marie. Just be aware that the difficulty level in the second chapter can get frustrating near the end.

Story map of the Full Moon Kingdom, inspired by Disney's AgrabahMonument to honor the Magic Lamp

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