The guys over at Yullaby were kind enough to send over a preview build of their upcoming WiiWare puzzler Magnetis for us to try out.
I got to spend a few hours with the game today and I have to say, it's really surprised me. Now I expected it to be a good puzzler, but the game has a very unique feel to it and some very challenging game play to go along with it. So how does this puzzler stack up against a WiiWare service that's seen its share of puzzlers, some rather mediocre?
First I'll try to explain the actual gameplay in Magnetis. There is a vertical conveyor belt that will drop down two blocks at a time. These include varying colors of left and right-facing magnets, along with Conductor Blocks. As they come down the middle of the screen, the only thing you can do with them at this point is press the button on the controller to make the blocks switch places next to each other. You can then use the down direction on the d-pad to bring the blocks down to the the horizontal conveyor belt that runs along the bottom of the screen. While you can't move the blocks side-to-side as they're dropping down, you can move the conveyor belt at the bottom of the screen left or right, along with any blocks that are currently sitting on it.
Your goal is to put together like-colored magnets that are facing each other in order to make the magnet blocks, along with any number of Conductor Blocks in between them, disappear. The more Conductor Blocks you can get in between the magnets before you put them together, the more points you'll score. You can even set off multiple chain reactions of magnets coming together to rack up even bigger points. But you'd better watch out, as the speed with which these blocks start falling is constantly increasing and it can require you to really think ahead in order to move the blocks on the conveyor belt in time to position them correctly.
There are several modes in Magnetis to choose from. In the Solo game, you can choose from three different games: Normal, Time Attack, and Block Attack. The Normal mode is basically the main game itself, and will likely be the one most gamers will spend the majority of their time with. Time Attack mode is basically the Normal mode, only played within a 162 second time limit. In this mode you try to rack up as many points as possible before time runs out. There's also Block Attack, which forces you to score as many points as possible using only 100 blocks.
While all three Solo games are fun in their own right, it's the Normal game mode that proves to be the most enjoyable overall and can go on for quite a long time if you can manage to keep the blocks from stacking up on you. At first, the game tends to feel a bit basic in design, but you'll soon learn that there's quite a bit more to this puzzler than meets the eye and it requires a lot of careful planning as far as how you stack the blocks up. And once you begin getting several different colors of magnets coming down, it can make it really tough to keep things organized on the conveyor belt below.
There's also a multiplayer mode that features two different games: Battle and Cooperative. Battle mode allows up to four players to take each other on in a head-to-head game where each player is trying to score the most points. The screen can be split into two or even four sections. While it takes a bit of getting used to when the screen is broken down into four smaller sections, it's certainly nothing that's detrimental to the overall experience. The Cooperative game allows two players to play the same level together, taking turns bringing blocks down and into place. When one player sets a group of blocks into place on the belt, the game automatically passes control over to the other player until they've brought their set of blocks down and into place. This game shows a total score and also shows the individual scores of each player as well.
I found myself really enjoying the game, especially the more I played it and the more familiar I became with how the game was played. The game is basically everything a good puzzler should be. It's simple in design and quite easy to pick up and play, yet it offers enough depth and playability to keep you coming back for more. The music in the game is great and the tracks are quite long in length, so you don't have to worry about it becoming overly repetitive during long playing sessions.
If you can appreciate a new take on the "falling block" puzzler, you're likely to find a lot to like about Magnetis. It features some really fun and intuitive gameplay designs and makes things simple enough for anyone to pick up and play. I did have to change the default control method to "Reverse" as the regular setting for moving the conveyor belt felt backwards to me. I personally liked being able to press the d-pad in the direction that I wanted the blocks to move, instead of it being opposite on the default setting. But other than this small hitch, it was a lot of fun and it should be a nice addition to the WiiWare service.
To learn a bit more about this game why not check out our Magnetis interview with Yullaby?