The story begins with a narration which acts as a prologue to the main game itself. Due to colonization and expansion, wizards have been collecting a magical substance known as mana. Mana is versatile and immensely valuable to wizards, so it was harvested until there was no more left in the world. Wizards battled fiercely against each other in order to claim the mana for themselves. Some wizards summoned monsters to aid them but the monsters turned against their masters.
In the end, one wizard cast the ultimate spell in order to end the conflict once and for all. Unfortunately the spell was too strong and so the wizard perished. It's now down to his apprentice (that's you) to bring about order in the land.
In terms of gameplay, Magic Carpet is a First-Person Shooter with a heavy emphasis on magic. You have a supply of mana which dictates what spells you can use and how long for. Collecting mana increases your mana bar, which allows you to cast more spells without having to recharge. At the start you may only be able to throw a few fireballs but later on you can hold down the mouse button on spells such as Rapid Fireball and Lightning in order to deal more damage for a longer period of time. In the late stages of the game you can throw Meteors and summon Volcanoes which deal an enormous amount of damage.
Basic tactics involve casting the 'Castle' spell which allows you to create a fort of your own where your mana will be stored. Hot-air balloons of your colour will periodically set out from your castle and bring 'claimed' mana to your castle. To claim mana you need to cast the 'Possession' spell (which can also be used on buildings for a slight mana boost).
There are twenty four spells in the game, most of which are destructive abilities but there are some which can be used in interesting ways. 'Fools Mana' creates fake mana which will act as a trap and cause damage to whoever tries to claim it. The player can also create a 'Skeleton Army' which will attack all castles on the map (including your own!).
There was also an expansion called Hidden Worlds which had a snow tileset and swapped the rarely used Flamewall spell for the altogether more useful Homing Meteor spell. A sequel titled Magic Carpet 2: The Netherworlds was released in 1995 and contained new monsters, night levels, caverns and a variety of different changes to spells (particularly they all have three different levels of power). The game was on several systems and was ported to the Sony Playstation.
Wizards: Zanzamar (You) (White), Vodor (Red), Gryshnak (Purple), Mahmoud (Blue), Syed (Green), Raschid (Pink), Alhabbal (Orange), Scheherazade (Black).
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abusive Precursors: All the levels in this game? You're looking at the result of wars between wizards. No wonder there are monsters everywhere and tiny settlements.
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality: You can't fall off your carpet (but given that you're basically just a floating sprite this comes as a blessing)
- Always Chaotic Evil: The monsters exist to kill players and Wyverns will destroy any towns they come across.
- Annoying Arrows: Castle guards and town guards use these. Skeleton Armies will fire these as well, to devastating effect if hundreds are attacking at once.
- Artificial Brilliance: Enemy wizards have a pretty sophisticated AI for the most part. They can fly around the map, claim mana (even if someone else has claimed it first), fight monsters, fight other players, destroy other player's castles and use a wide variety of spells (most notably Fireball, Castle, Possession, Lightning, Accelerate and Meteor.
- Artificial Stupidity: Ground based monsters have trouble getting around the map, particularly when some terraforming has taken place. Some enemies will get stuck on the coastline and can sometimes get stuck on the maze walls from time to time.
- Using a fireball on a Griffin will not only backfire but will also cause the entire herd to attack you at once. Enemy wizards can be coaxed into attacking them if you happen to fly between a herd when the wizard is shooting at you.
- Awesome, but Impractical: 'Global Death' does a lot of damage, but by the time you get it you'll already have access to much more damaging spells like the 'Thunder Storm' or 'Meteor' spells. To a lesser extent, the 'Rapid Fireball' spell at a low level, since you don't have many charges and you could just as easily spam the 'Fireball' spell and do just as much damage.
- Beneath the Earth: There are underground levels in Magic Carpet 2: The Netherworlds.
- Boring, but Practical: Fireball is useful for most monsters (except Griffins and Wyverns), Lightning is a low-level spell but does a lot of damage in a short space of time, Possession is your best friend when it comes to gathering mana for the majority of the game and you will use the Castle spell many times. Accelerate is useful for escaping dangerous monsters and chasing enemy players.
- Colony Drop: A variation: creating your castle (and expanding its walls) does tremendous damage to most things in the way and makes collecting their mana extremely convenient, and many maps include a swarm of giant bees or flock of vultures (or something similar) near your starting point to give you a fast opening option. Of course, this can backfire if it turns out you bit off more than your castle can chew up.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Your flags and mana are white. Unclaimed mana is yellow. Each wizard has their own unique colour. Enemies on the map are black dots.
- Crapsack World: Trying to live peacefully in a small settlement while powerful wizards are dueling all the time and monsters are constantly rampaging around is a very difficult lifestyle choice.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: if you are killed, as long as your castle is standing, you can resurrect there immediately by pressing Space. This is used to good and bad effects: as the player, you can keep going with relatively little effort even dying repeatedly against bigger monsters. The bad is that the same rule applies to AI wizards, making any attempt to eliminate them a long attrition battle. The sequel eliminated this downside by forcing AI wizards into a 30-60 seconds interval before they could resurrect, giving the player ample time to destroy their castles.
- Deflector Shields: The rebound spell will automatically redirect any fireballs back at their attacker (Griffins have this as a passive ability). Wyverns are immune to Rebound completely and take no damage from any projectiles bounced away.
- Dressing as the Enemy: In the second game, you can temporarily appear to be a flying monster such as a wasp.
- Early Game Hell: Or more precisely, Early Level Hell. At the start of each level you have no mana, only weak spells (and sometimes not even that). The basic fireball spell does little damage, you don't have the mana to spam it, and several enemies (including enemy wizards) deflect it back at you. Once you manage to get Lightning Bolt or Homing Meteor the game gets a lot easier, and by that time you'll also have enough mana to be able to make use of your spells.
- Enemy Mine: If you're in a tactical frame of mind, you could redirect the Skeleton Army to attack enemy castles. Enemy wizards don't form alliances but can sometimes attack enemy wizards at the same time, leading to an unintentional collusion of forces. Don't expect them not to retaliate if you accidentally hit them with a spell though.
- "Get Back Here!" Boss: Enemy wizards love using Accelerate to get away if they take too much damage.
- Giant Enemy Crab: Crabs start out small, but they can eat mana to grow bigger and gain new spells. A full-grown crab can cast Meteor.
- Interface Spoiler: The spells are visible as grayed-out outlines, but you won't know what they do until you try them or until an enemy wizard uses them. The enemy matrix on the map screen also tells you exactly how many enemy wizards are currently in the game.
- Invisibility with Drawbacks: One of the spells you can obtain. Stops working after a fixed amount of time when you attack something (until you unlock the Attack Invisible upgrade in Magic Carpet 2).
- Invulnerable Civilians: Averted, they can be killed and even turned into the undead by the Skeleton Army.
- I Own This Town: You, if you cast Possess on all the villages there. Town guards will even guard you if a monster tries to attack you.
- Jackass Genie: Genies will hound you constantly, steal all your mana so you can't get away or attack, teleport away if injured and even steal your spells.
- Kill It with Fire: Definitely case in point for the Fireball and other flame related spells.
- Kill Steal: Unclaimed mana is up for grabs for anyone, regardless of who made the kill. So expect a lot of in-fighting during the enemy wizard raids.
- Magic Carpet: The wizards' main method of transportation are flying carpets. Zanzamar (the apprentice) has his master's spirit merged with it.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Kafkar died in the first game's intro, but continues helping his apprentice as a Spirit Advisor throughout both games.
- Mêlée à Trois: Happens if there are enemy wizards and monsters in close proximity.
- Money Spider: Every monster drops mana when killed.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the first game, Kafkar, the apprentice's master was the one who wrecked the world, in an attempt to end the Wizard War for good by killing the monsters and the rampaging wizards with a massively powerful spell. Unfortunately, the spell was too powerful for him to control and devastated the entire planet with a massive earthquake. Kafkar himself was killed by the spell, leaving his apprentice, Zanzamar, to fix the mess he created. Fortunately for the apprentice, he was able to preserve Kafkar's soul, and merged him with a magic carpet.
- No "Arc" in "Archery": Arrows just go in a straight line, which means they can be avoided fairly easily.
- Nostalgia Level: The daytime-themed levels of the second game.
- Oh, Crap!: Your reaction if you hit a Griffin or if a high-level enemy wizard appears right in front of you. You have about two seconds to run before he begins his assault.
- Our Wyverns Are Different: In an inversion of how things usually work, while dragons are fairly low-level enemies that look like flying caterpillars and shoot fireballs the wyverns that you encounter much later are stronger and look like traditional dragons.
- Our Zombies Are Different: These ones steal your mana and spells if you get too close.
- Necromancer: Summoning a Skeleton Army is fair game.
- Regenerating Health: Your health and mana will recover over time. In addition, you heal around ten times as fast in your home castle.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: If an enemy wizard's castle is harmed in any way they will retaliate against the attacker.
- Second Hour Superpower: Certain spells take a while to unlock, but they are extremely useful when obtained. Particularly high level ones like Meteor and Volcano.
- Sequence Breaking: If you're lucky you can get out of a maze early by hugging the walls in the right way. In the cavern levels you can use crater and earthquake to avoid parts of the map if they are obvious traps.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: The monsters, spells and enemy wizards were sprites but the towns, water, landscape and castles were all 3D.
- Storming the Castle: Destroying enemy castles is the only way to gain mana at later stages of the level when all monsters have been destroyed.
- Stuff Blowing Up: When a castle takes enough damage an explosion is heard and the castle level decreases by one. When this happens to a level one castle it is destroyed and if the enemy player is killed then they are eliminated for good.
- Take Your Time: You can do this in the monster-only levels. If there are enemy wizards however, they can and will kill monsters for mana. When there are no more monsters they will turn on you.
- Too Dumb to Live: Players that attack griffins or wyverns when their level is too low.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: Liked the open-world freeroaming in early levels? In some levels you are trapped in a maze. This makes it much more dangerous for several reasons. Firstly there is no room to place a castle, so if you die then you die for good. Secondly you cannot easily escape combat due to the impassable walls.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: While some enemies use fireballs and lightning, other monsters use spells that you can not use, such as throwing boulders or firing arrows.
- Unwinnable by Design: If you take too long harvesting mana, strong monsters or enemy wizards will wipe you out fast. The trick is to keep the enemy wizards busy by destroying their castles and then flying to a different part of the map.
- Useless Useful Spell: Flamewall is a fairly weak spell for what it is, Fools Mana doesn't work on the AI of the enemy wizards and the Shield ability is rather pointless since it would be better to kill the enemy monster rather than just stop a portion of the damage. Duel is essentially useless against AI opponents.
- Video Game Caring Potential: You can defend townsfolk, form temporary alliances with enemy wizards and be pragmatic with the non-aggressive monsters.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Want to destroy towns and kill all the guards? Summon a skeleton army to assimilate all the civilians and shoot arrows at players? It's possible if you're into that sort of thing.
- Wizard Duel: A crucial part of the game's fun factor.