Review by mikaa

"A solid puzzler, if overpriced"

At E3 2004, Nintendo specifically stated that the Nintendo DS was not, repeat, NOT, just another Game Boy. Excluding the obvious dual screen set-up and touch screen, naturally, what other way could you tell the difference between the two system "lineages?"

If you said game library, allow me to laugh.

Like its sister portable, the Nintendo DS is loaded with puzzle games, excluding all Game Boy Advance games. Tetris DS, Meteos, Zoo Keeper, Puyo Pop, Brain Age (yes, it does fit as a puzzler... sort of...), Mr. Driller, Pokemon Trozei, Bust-A-Mo... Yeeeah, I think I made my point. Of all the DOMESTIC US releases, there are quite a few puzzle titles. Many of which are quite notable and worth the purchase (Tetris DS and Meteos are nice titles), while some are almost a joke (Pokemon Trozei leading the charge of sub-par puzzlers).

So how does Magnetica stack up against such competition? To be blunt, Magnetica is little more than an enhanced Java game with puzzles and extras tacked on a la Tetris DS/Polarium. Yet, despite the weakness in the concept, the game is far from the worst puzzler on the portable market.

Let's start by looking at what the game is: picture, if you will, a clockwise-spinning spiral, with colored orbs moving from the lower left and towards the center. At the center are two objects: a "portal" that produces more gems that share colors with existing orbs, and a slot that, when fed an orb from the spiral, ends the game. The "portal" that produces orbs is the key to the game: take your trusty stylus (this is a Touch Generation game, after all), and fling the orb at your desired target. Simple as pi. No, not the food, the numerical Pi. As in, the number wit... uh, where was I?

There are a few variations on this core philosophy throughout the cart, from a slot-machine mode, to puzzler mode (figure out how to clear out all of the orbs with none left), to a standard puzzle mode and (of all things for a puzzler) a "quest" mode.

How does this warrant a fun time and the price of US$35? It is addicitve, just like your run of the mill Java/Yahoo Flash game. Except, here you pay a hefty fee and don't run the risk of catching a computer virus. The puzzle modes are almost pathetically easy to a seasoned puzzle fan, but with such a simple game engine, plus the rediculously addictive qualities the game has, it is hard to put down. Granted, Lumines (PSP) is still my puzzler of choice, but Magnetica is simple enough that it is easy to pick up without reading a thick manual.

All things said, Magnetica's only flaw is the absurd price: US$35 is a bit steep for this game. Granted, it IS a Nintendo-made game, and it is quality, but about five bucks less and it would be a must-have, no excuse. Oh well, at least you can send demos to friends and other DS systems...

Score: 9 of 10

* Best Features: Controls, Graphics, Modes
* Worst Features: Music, Price (at the time of this review)
* If You Liked: Tetris DS, Lumines (PSP), Meteos
* Guilty Pleasure: Actually, I didn't have one; I honestly thought I would hate this. Does that count?

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/13/06, Updated 11/20/07

Game Release: Magnetica (US, 06/05/06)

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