(WiiWare)

Magnetica Twist (WiiWare)

Game Review

Magnetica Twist Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sammy Barker

Does the intuitive Magnetica Twist have hidden depths that make it something to shout about?

It was always likely that WiiWare would provide the perfect platform for the criminally overlooked puzzle genre. These games have always been popular, but given their nature they are often unfairly ignored when sitting next to higher-profile releases such as Super Mario and Metroid. With WiiWare already providing us with the likes of Dr. Mario, Pop, Toki Tori and the prospect of Tetris in the future, the puzzle genre is unlikely to be diluted on Nintendo’s new download platform. The question is: how does a relatively unknown game like Magnetica Twist weigh up against the bigger names?

Magnetica Twist (known as Actionloop Twist in Europe) is developed by the Mitchell Corporation, based on their 1998 arcade game PuzzLoop. The game makes passing references to Bust A Move and Zuma (although given the times of release it’s likely Zuma was heavily influenced by the original PuzzLoop). This instalment is based on the DS version which was released to high praise in 2006 and offers the same range of modes and gameplay, but given its WiiWare price tag, is somewhat cheaper.

The gameplay is intuitive but oh so difficult to describe. Basically, different coloured marbles are pushed around a set route (usually a swirl shape) with increased speed as the game progresses. When a marble touches the end of the route the game is over so it is your job to clear as many colours as you can. To do this you control a Bust A Move-esque cannon which allows you to aim and fire marbles from the centre of the screen. Essentially you’re looking to match three identically coloured marbles to remove them from the screen. On the surface that’s all Magnetica Twist is – but bubbling beneath are some interesting mechanics that serve to mix things up a little.

Each of the marbles is attracted (magnetically) to marbles of the same colour. This means when you clear a cluster of balls, if the colours of the marbles on the varying sides match, they will be brought together through the rules of magnetism. This relieves pressure on you as it keeps the chain from reaching the end and it allows for some satisfying combos.

If you’re not pulling off many combos though, the pressure can really mount. Given the swirl shape of each level, when the strain is on, marbles that are on the outside of the swirl may be blocked off. At these points you may need to use a “Lob Shot” to clear the screen. To do this, you hold down the “A” button and a targeting reticule will move slowly away from the cannon. This target represents the place in which the marble will land when you release the “A” button and thus adds an element of skill and timing. While the game may appear simple in concept, there's actually an incredible amount of depth, much more so than in your average puzzle title.

Weighing in at 1000 points Magnetica Twist is not one of the cheaper WiiWare titles, but the range of options is extremely satisfying. On offer we have Quick Play (for one or two players), Challenge, Quest and Multiplayer modes. Quick Play is just a standard “beat the high score” affair where you are asked to continually clear the screen as new colours are introduced and the speed is increased. A rocket appears every 10 levels and pushes the marbles faster but you can destroy it by hitting it with a Gem Stone. This mode is particularly fun with two players as you work in co-op to clear the screen. A nice touch is that you have to lob over your friend's cannon to reach marbles on the other side.

The Challenge mode is a bit like “Continuous” on other puzzle games, where the flow of marbles starts at a steady pace and ends up moving at an almost mind-boggling speed. This mode comes in normal, hard and very hard. Only the adventurous should explore the latter.

Quest mode is an attempt at including some target-based gameplay. Each stage you’ll be given a new objective to complete, for example: “Clear 50 gemstones in 120 seconds.” The stages get progressively harder but if you do get stuck there are always choices of two other objectives to help keep you moving. Each set of stages culminates in a boss encounter which includes more marble clearing, but is a nice addition nonetheless.

Finally, there’s multiplayer mode, which is laden with options. After choosing whether to play head to head or co-operatively, you’ll choose which type of game you’d like to play. In co-op there's: Today's Pick, which is a set of random challenges that change on a daily basis; Annihilation, which has you clearing a set number of marbles before time runs out; Colour Split, similar to Annihilation but each player is assigned just one colour; and Co-Pilot, whereby two players share a cannon with player one firing the marbles and player two piloting angle.

Battle mode includes three different modes, which include avoiding the rocket, a race to clear all the gemstones and also sending blockers to your opponent's side to make it more difficult for them. All of the multiplayer modes work solidly and are genuinely fun to play. It’s obvious the developers are trying to cater to the Wii’s emphasis on “family fun” and have succeeded with flying colours.

What’s nice about the multiplayer mode is that it can be enjoyed alone (with the computer stepping in) or with friends. Given the sheer range of multiplayer modes on offer and the slim chance of having friends with you 24/7, it’s nice to be able to replace friends with a computer controlled opponent sometimes. An extension to multiplayer mode is a records mode that tracks your reaction times and games progress. What’s really cool, though, is your relationship with other Mii’s on the same console. People you play together with lots will have a thick line drawn between them and if you beat said player a lot more than they beat you, you will be rewarded by the line being thicker at your end, symbolising your dominance. It’s a neat touch and furthers the depth and detail that Magnetica Twist provides.

Magnetica Twist is absolutely stacked with options, so it’s certainly not overpriced given what is crammed in there. Sadly the game has one major flaw in its controls. The Operations Manual (and in-game tutorial) tells you to play the game holding the Wii Remote in its standard position and twisting to turn the cannon in the centre of the screen. Anyone who played Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz will know that controls involving twisting can be excruciatingly painful on the wrist. This game is no different. To turn the cannon full circle almost requires you to make an arm breaking manoeuvre and quickly becomes tiresome. It’s sad, because the game is genuinely fun and you want to play it, but, the limitations caused by the movement of your arm and wrist stop you.

The game's saving grace is that it can be played by holding the remote in the “NES” position, using the 2-button to fire and tilting forwards and backwards to turn the cannon. This position is playable for longer periods but is still not ideal. Given that there is no option to use the Nunchuk or Classic Controller we expect most games to play t with the remote sideways. Quite interestingly, we could find no mention of playing the game this way in the Operations Manual which is rather worrying given the developers “favoured” mechanism is so horrible.

Graphically, the game is nothing special. Your Mii sits neatly in the cannon in the middle of the screen and marbles are bright and vibrant. There are varying types of marbles, although colour blind players will have a hard time with playing as we've yet to spot marbles with shapes inside. Backgrounds are simple textures which change colours depending on the mode and level but it is all extremely basic. Having said that, this is a game that doesn’t rely on a complex style so the graphics suit the purpose. Similarly, the music gets the job done, opting for bouncy synthesized riffs that grate after a while but can easily be turned off and replaced with your own music selection.

It's probably worth quickly mentioning that there is no WiiConnect24 or Wi-Fi play available in Magnetica Twist, which is a shame given the range of multiplayer options included, but we can always wish for an update.

Conclusion

We're of the opinion that Magnetica Twist offers one of the finest puzzle experiences currently available on WiiWare. Having said that, the lack of online and controller issues make it difficult to recommend. If you like your puzzle games you might be advised to pick this up, but genre sceptics might be persuaded to wait for the inevitable release of Tetris, which promises to feature a robust online mode. As it stands, Magnetica Twist is a solid puzzler that is packed with content but is unfortunately marred by controller hiccups.

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User Comments (37)

Yatesy

#2

Yatesy said:

I think that you did a good job explaining how the game actually plays; the "Lob Shot" sounds quite interesting, and the puzzles themselves seem to have a bit of variety. However, I'm holding out for Taito getting their act together and lavishing us with some motion-controlled Bust-a-Move.

Objection

#3

Objection said:

Pretty good review. I thought the control scheme might be a problem. Why didnt they have you just aim with the wiimote in the direction you want to fire?!

Terra

#4

Terra said:

I'll be downloading this when i get some more points, spending my latest on Blazing Lazers, Star Soldier R and Super Star Soldier

DazzaAdmin

#5

Dazza said:

Great review Sammy! I really like Zuma on XBLA so who knows I might pick this up soon. I am glad it is not just a load of old balls :p

get2sammybAdmin

#7

get2sammyb said:

I've no idea why they didn't use pointing you know. It does seem like the obvious choice.

Starwolf_UK

#10

Starwolf_UK said:

Given the nature of digital distribution there is always the possibility of reviisng the control issues...oh who am I kidding they won't do that :(

It sounds like another Metal Slug anthology. Good game but nearly ruined by the fact every control option available is flawed in some shape and the good control scheme is so obvious yet so non-implimented (in this games case pointing at the screen). But like that game it is still playable if you have enough resolve.

Seems stupid the manual doesn't mention the better control scheme. Can't wait to see the flames of the internet complaining about "the only scheme sucking".

Also it was kind of sad to hear that a clear the screen in "x moves with y pieces" kind of mode doesn't appear to be avalaible.

Edit: forgot to mention. Thanks for the review for not only being very puntual but very informative.

get2sammybAdmin

#11

get2sammyb said:

@Starfox_UK: Sadly no "puzzle mode" (as you appear to be reffering to) but I'm not sure whether it would work so hot with this type of game. This is definitely a fast and furious kind of puzzler and I think the modes that are included reflect that.

Nero

#12

Nero said:

I bought the game after reading this and tried holding the wiimote sideways and shooting with 2 and that felt better than the default one. Felt more steady that way (not perfect though). Always liked this type of game and looking forward to try it out with some friends. Lack of online is disappointing but what can one do..
Also I would have like a puzzle mode like in the DS game, though there are a few ones while doing the quest mode.

Wii_Ownz_All

#13

Wii_Ownz_All said:

I got excited and considered buying this, until I read about the controls. Sorry. That completely killed the game for me.

KnucklesSonic8

#14

KnucklesSonic8 said:

I'm looking forward to seeing this come to NA. Especially since it's a measly 100 Blocks. The smallest WiiWare title so far!! :D

edit:
After seeing the above comment and seeing exactly where the review pinpointed this, I must say: I resent the comment made about SMBBB. That game was stellar. The controls were great, and well done. The game is underappreciated and SEGA did a fantastic job with the game and re-inventing the series. I'll take innovative controls over Analog Stick ANY DAY. The fact that you compared Magnetica to this game is quite off, also, considering the stature of both games. The resemblance may seem there but there's a bigger contrast than you realize. And, no, SMBBB was not a "pain" by any means and for Magnetica to be comapred to SMBBB so.., well, poorly, then I'm sure Magnetica's controls aren't as bad as the reviewer makes them out to be.

All in all, solid review. I'm glad I was able to see that the game IS worth the 1000 Points they require from you, and I'm certainly pleased at the amount of variety in the game.

And don't take offense to my above comments but you must know, I feel strongly about this and there's probably little way you could change my mind. Anyway, I just felt it should be said... There's my 90 cents worth for the day. :)

Boringman54

#15

Boringman54 said:

So this is just like Luxor but without the Egyptian theme to it. Instead, this has a boring, monotone theme.

Well, I don't like puzzle games and I could Luxor (which is superior) for free so I'll pass.

Peznaze

#16

Peznaze said:

Looks like a great puzzler. Pity about the lack of even WiiConnect24 score boards, online play would've helped it top Dr. Mario. As is, it still sounds like a worthwhile way to spend 1000 points.

ZIMlord

#17

ZIMlord said:

i WOULD get this if it was not 1000 wii points. If it was something like 700 or 800 i would get it.

get2sammybAdmin

#18

get2sammyb said:

@KnucklesSonic8: playing this game reminded me of the awful pain I got from trying to play Banana Blitz. Just never worked for me - straight up hurt to be honest.

I reckon if you could play a painless game of BB you might be ok with the controls here.

Tate24

#20

Tate24 said:

ok, so ive got over fact
that this is all we are getting this week.

i then decided to buy it, based on your review, which i thought was very good.

I never had problem with monkey ball BB, and i find it funny people were experiencing pain, playing it. When wii-remote is very sensitive, and any movement can be achieve with little stress on your wrist, anyway i bought it, and find it easy to use, very additive to play, i like use of mii's and quest mode, i'd say to anyone that 1000 points is a little steep but due to content can be over looked.

It shines in 4 players and has a hidden depth that makes u want to try for combos and keep you aiming for high scores. i find holding wii-mote like u would with monkey ball far more precise then latter, which is werid to use. all in all if u enjoy puzzle games then there's enough here to keep you going in till next wiiware release. =)

StarDust4Ever

#21

StarDust4Ever said:

I've owned the DS version for a long time now, and I can personally say that the "touch" control system (tap the marble and flick it) is awesome, plus, you can take it anywhere. I probably won't be getting this, but if the control scheme is as bad as the reviewer says, you might be better off just getting the DS version. It's been out for over two years now, so you can likely pick it up used or in the bargain bin for cheap. I think it would've been better to have just used the wiimote pointer as an aiming device instead of "twisting" (ex, just "click" in the direction you want to shoot). It's also a crying shame that this game only allows playing with "friends" because like many people, I have very few friends who own Wiis, let alone those who are into the same Wii titles (besides the regular blockbusters like Smash Brothers and Mario Kart) that I am, so the fact that you cannot play against real opponents online is a crying shame.

KnucklesSonic8

#22

KnucklesSonic8 said:

@Sammy: Wow. SMBBB is awesome and the controls are far from painful at all...

Anyway, I had hoped we'd get this in NA today. :( Oh well...

DEMON212

#23

DEMON212 said:

Really didn't expect to like this, but I'm addicted to it. So freaking good. And considering how much I hated Zuma, I'm well shocked.

morphballer

#25

morphballer said:

"And considering how much I hated Zuma, I'm well shocked."

That sounds like ringing endorsement right there! :)

KnucklesSonic8

#26

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Lol. xD

I'm even more excited to see this release than before!! Sadly, I probably won't see it here in NA till July, or even August due to the rule of one game per developer per month.

In any case, I hope Nintendo has this first-party game next up on the list!!!

Bananiac

#27

Bananiac said:

Graphics look horrible :(

I liked actionloop and was looking forward to get this. One game that I could play with my wife, but this just looks bland... shame...

KnucklesSonic8

#28

KnucklesSonic8 said:

You think it looks horrible?! Wow...

This game looks like a lot of fun and if my experience with Zuma is any indication, I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing this come to NA next month in July.

Jockolantern

#29

Jockolantern said:

I like the look of this and the controls sound right up my alley. Not as pretty as Zuma but, hey, it's the gameplay that really matters and it looks like Nintendo got it right.

Jockolantern

#30

Jockolantern said:

Have downladed the game and am loving it. For those of you worried about the funky forward-pointing Wiimote controls, have no fear. Holding the Wiimote sideways and tipping it up and down is not only more effective but completely free of any akward wrist movements. Quite a fluid control scheme; I've had absolutely no problems with it. The Quest system alone makes this game worth it. Fun for those who are looking for something quick and easy or for those who want their Magnetica hardcore and frantically challenging.

SRPirate

#31

SRPirate said:

yea i agree with jockolantern, when i got this game i loved it in the first few minutes, its a lot of fun to play alone and with friends or family, and the controls are actually pretty good and simple to learn, this is worth the points.

Luigison

#32

Luigison said:

This a great game with a bad control scheme. Any chance they would release an update to let you use a Nunchuck or Classic Controller? Has anyone contacted them requesting such an update? With disc based games you can return them if they are defective. This game's controls are definitely broken. How do I return it?

supermario2

#33

supermario2 said:

U can't return them unfortunately but why would you it's a brilliant game and I think it's for short gameplay not long but I can see where your coming from I bought SMBBB (Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz) and after a while on that game your wrists sound like a cement mixer, because of that I had to give it up for a week for my wrist to heal. But worth the pain.

Objection

#35

Objection said:

Okay, got this yestersay and I think the complaints about controls hold no water if you hold it in the "sideways wiimote" grip. Lots of content and fun multiplayer that I pwned in. Wished there was WI-FI except I have no one to play.

edward1224

#36

edward1224 said:

Oh, my gosh! I didn't realize this until I looked at your review but it looks almost the same as Zuma! I've been playing and addicted to Zuma as a computer game. Now I've got to download this game! I'll have to report back later on my findings. Thanks!

Ed

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