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?
every time I see "LEVEL UP" i get excited. this one looks fun, but i can play tetris party when i want to play a puzzle game and save money.
Looks interesting, any word on a release date?
I was flicking through the nintendo of europe wiiware page and it appears Magnetis is coming 3rd Aug 2009 in EU!
Groovy, I'm in.
Looks pretty cool, but i'm not a fan of Tetris-style gameplay..i get too stressed by it
@LEGEND MARIOD: I noticed that listed on the Nintendo Channel, but didn't it strike you as odd? The 3rd of August is a Monday...
The fact that they even let you change the direction the d-pad move the blocks in already a good start imo.
I like that kind of thinking.
Great write-up Corbs. I'll be excited for the official review on this.
Too bad there isn't an NA release date yet.
what happened to my comments? I was first!
@RUM, oh yeah it is a monday! Hey? Anyway, I checked again and the date schedule for magnetis has vanished into thin, internet air.......
Anyway, looks interesting, but I need a review
Sounds great, Corbie. Glad to hear the game is shaping up rather nicely.
Keeping my eye on this one, too.
Thanks Corbie, now I want this sooo much more!
Hello there, this is Romain from Yullaby. Thanks everyone for the positive comments!
About the release date, in fact even we at Yullaby don't know the exact release date. The game is currently in the process of being approved by Nintendo. We hope it can hit the shop somewhere in August.
I'll be happy to answer any questions that you guys have!
I've got a question. What inspired you to come up with that insanely cool music? Even the sound effects are outrageous. (And I gave you a fitting avatar)
@Corbie: Seems our post edits cross fired
Thanks a lot, goes straight to my heart! The original intent was to create something exclusively out of FM sounds, so it would sound like something straight out of a Megadrive game. But I was having a hard time not including some NES elements as well since I'm intoxicated by those and to me they just go wonderfully with anything else, and I was also having a hard time resisting to add more modern synth sounds as I was toying with my (all virtual) gears... I wanted it to sound retro-ish anyway. As for the sound effects, 90% of them are made toying around with the same synths that served to create the music. I'd say the inspiration for both music and sound effects was mostly a desire to be rooted in both FM and NES sounds.
Thanks for the avatar, it's awesome
Looks good and judging from the trailer on Youtube it sounds great! I'm looking forward playing some 4 player games, the coop mode is a nice thing, I hope it balances well. I'm in if it's correctly priced.
Hi, Romain! I'm really looking forward to your game!
What price tag are you aiming towards?
Will the game feature online capabilities of any kind?
What have you done to the formula to add a measure of replay value into the mix to keep players coming back?
Looking forward to hearing a reply.
Wiiware has been a Mecca for puzzler fans thus far. Here's hoping for another must own title!
P.S. I love seeing devs posting on NLife. I think it really says something about the dev team's dedication when they aren't afraid to show their metaphorical faces.
About the price: can't say until our proposed price is approved by Nintendo, but we're aiming at a price making the game accessible to everyone. The best I can say right now is I think no one will say "that's too expensive for a puzzler". We're doing our best to be as friendly as possible about the price.
About online features: Unfortunately there isn't any. We had a few ideas for online modes, but we didn't have enough time to implement them, so we're kind of keeping them in mind for another game. Online capabilities - even the simpler ones (like a leaderboard for instance) - almost double the development time for small teams like us. The number of potential bugs with anything online grows exponentially so it adds a lot of QA time (and cost), and there's also big additional layer of administrative hassle with the console makers. That's why so many games don't feature any online mode. However, we really want our next games to have online capabilities so we're kind of preparing things in advance now so it will be a bit easier to handle for us the next time.
About the replay value: This is a tough one to answer. I can't tell you that we've done anything specific that "no one has done before" , just making a game with love and care to the best of our ability within the time frame and the means we had. The play sessions are rather short, I'd say about 10 minutes each if you play solo (but some people who tested the game for us mentionned they could keep playing for hours, I guess it depends on taste). I think Magnetis is the kind of game that even if you get bored with it today, will have you come back for a few minutes the next day, and the next one... Because you like the mechanic and you want to improve. You would come back to Magnetis for the same reasons you came back to Tetris or similarly tasty puzzlers.
I hope I answered your questions well. If you decided to take your chance with Magnetis, I'd love to hear what you (or anyone reading this) think of it. I can be reached at: rgauthier at yullaby dot com.
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