OK, dig this. Back in the heyday of the Arabian Nights, these were the way to get around town. The brand and the model didn't really make any difference. Persian, Chinese, Indian, Syrian, whatever. As long as the thing got off the ground it was usable. Mine was a cute little three seater throw rug from Pier One. That puppy could stop on a dime and take a turn like a Tron light cycle. Ah, nostalgia...

A game from Bullfrog, released in 1994. One of those Molyneux games.

The story goes like this: A world was created with a lot of mana, the magic power. People discovered why mana was useful and began collecting it. That turned into rivalry. (People are greedy.) And then... a magician tried to restore the order in this war (known as Wizard War), but failed.

Now, this magician's apprentice does the right thing by restoring equilibrium in every world. This is done by annihilating all weird creatures and collecting the mana contained in them.

The player - the said apprentice, of course - flies around with a flying carpet in a near-eastern-style world, and casts spells. One of the most important ones is the Castle spell that creates a castle to which the mana is then collected by automated hot air balloons (the castle can then be expanded if there's too much mana to hold it).

The game was technically very cool, looked great, and had a lot of fresh ideas.

The sequel, Magic Carpet 2, was equally great with even more magical insanity.

"Be wary, fly well and cast evil forever from this world."

1) The magic carpet is one of the fastest ways for a someone to get down a snowy hill. It consists of a rectangular sheet of durable, low-friction, hard-but-bendable plastic about a millimetre thick and big enough to sit on. It has two handholds cut out of one of the narrow ends. The rider generally sits down on the carpet and holds the front end curled upwards between his or her legs.

They are cheaper (under $10) and easier to carry around (roll up to 5 inch diameter) than an inner tube, and they go about as fast. The rider is much more intimate with the ground beneath them, however, which makes the ride somewhat bumpier, and scarier, and more dangerous. This can also make it more exciting, of course.

I'm not completely sure if they're still in production. I'd be very surprised if they weren't, however, because of how cheap and effective they are. The ones I remember seemed to always be yellow for some reason. I may only be remembering the ones in our household, though.

2) The magic carpet is also one of the fastest ways for someone to get up a snowy hill. It is a lengthy conveyor belt for use on snow hills to carry up sledders, skiiers, snowboarders, or anyone else who wants to get to the top. In contrast to the variety of magic carpet detailed above, this kind has incredibly good traction, perfect for those wearing skis. Like the other kind of magic carpet, however, it very cheap relative to most alternatives.

It is used on the smaller runs on ski mountains, making it easier for new skiiers to get up the hill by taking away the intimidation of having to board and depart a chairlift.

If you happen to own a ski hill, you can order a magic carpet from the people at Magic Carpet Ski Lifts (www.magiccarpet.rmce.com).

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