PC | Yullaby | 1 Player / 2 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play)
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8th June 2010; By KnucklesSonic8
First and foremost, the gameplay itself is rooted in the ever-so popular "match" formula whilst achieving its own sense of unique mechanics. The backdrop for the game makes players feel like they're taking control of a hectic factory, with high-speed gears and the like. Each turn, two blocks come out from machine at the top of the screen and it's up to you to place them carefully on the conveyor belt below. You can flip them around by pressing spacebar, move the belt using your left and right arrow keys, or speed up the process by holding the down arrow. Controls can be configured to the way you like so don't worry if you're not a fan of this setup.
In order to gain points, you'll need to use left- and right-facing magnetic conductors to close off a series of blocks. Gray blocks serve as fillers for these connections and once they touch a conductor, their colour will change as well. Block placement is very important. Wise decisions will generate good results, especially when the chain system comes into play. By thinking ahead of time, players can maximize their point totals by placing blocks wisely in such a way that a single block will connect one row, while the next set of blocks will connect, and so on. Conversely, poor decisions (such as using two different-coloured conductors to close off a segment) will create X-marked blocks. These can be removed by forming nearby energy lines but if you're not careful these can pile up. There's definitely a hidden sense of depth that goes beyond the spur of the moment and just placing blocks narrow-mindedly.
Once you start having piles of blocks that reach towards the top of the screen, you'll need to be more cautious on how you play. If your stacks make it to the very top, it'll be Game Over. Thankfully, conductors that you haven't closed towards the bottom of the pile will start to lose their charge over time. Eventually, they'll disappear completely, which alleviates some of the frustration that could result in being unable to reach these areas at all. And, of course, the higher level you're at, the faster the blocks will fall and variety will come into play with new colours for you to keep in mind. Just like in the WiiWare release, you may very well find the entire game to be very addicting, with a minimal amount of frustration to be had.
The PC release, naturally, gives you more options on customizing your gameplay. Prior to opening up the game, you can alter the level of detailing in the various elements as well as the resolution itself using one of three settings: Low, Medium or High. This is a useful feature if you find that your computer has some trouble running the game steadily in the way it's intended to be played. As mentioned before, you can configure keyboard controls prior to playing, and even set the keys for local multiplayer play.
All of the modes from the WiiWare release are here as well. You have the normal Block Attack mode, in addition to Time Attack, Co-op and Battle. What the WiiWare version doesn't have, though, is the inclusion of achievements and online leaderboards. Whenever you achieve a high-score in Time Attack, Block Attack or Co-op, your record will be sent online. Then, you'll be able to see your rank in comparison to all gamers in the Steam community. There are a total of 40 achievements that players can strive for. As an achievement is unlocked, a small dialog box appears during gameplay telling you what you've been able to accomplish. There are awards for multipliers, reaching a certain level, playing a versus match and more. It's great to have them as part of the package and I sincerely wish that both of these features were incorporated into the WiiWare release. Although I was somewhat surprised that online battles were not included, I know I would've personally been motivated to compare my scores with others around the world in the WiiWare version.
The great soundtrack is still in place here, except now, you have the ability to plug in your headphones, bump up the bass, and enjoy some audio goodness. Depending on your computer's capabilities, the visuals look really detailed and the game is a pleasure to look at. At times, I experiences some slight slowdown when the game's gears started working really hard. Although you should hope a factory would run steady all the way through, it was somewhat annoying to see, especially coming from the WiiWare release where the framerate was always consistent during single-player and even most multiplayer games. And at another time, the game randomly stopped working altogether. Furthermore, the WiiWare version offers uninterrupted gameplay and a smoother framerate.
Magnetis is a fun game for your PC that you can enjoy for a few minutes at a time. Its compelling gameplay and motivating score system and mechanics, definitely make it worth playing. But do I recommend the PC version over the WiiWare version? That depends. If you want more extras and will be motivated more by online leaderboards and achievements, then go for the PC version. However, if you want to focus more on presentation (i.e., a consistent framerate), a stronger pick-up-and-play appeal and better multiplayer integration, then by all means, go for the WiiWare version. With so many other PC releases out there, Magnetis is bound to get lost amongst the pack; on WiiWare, it shines more brilliantly as a funky, replayable puzzler in the minds of those who stopped to give this a try. Either way, don't let this one pass you by.
24/30 - Very Good
Gameplay 8/10 - Great mechanics that break the mold and offer something very unique, lots of room for player mastery and experimentation
Presentation 8/10 - Music is just fantastic, framerate can dip depending on your computer's hardware, graphics look great on your computer screen
Enjoyment 4/5 - Definitely addicting, great for quick bursts, multiplayer is more fun on Wii, online leaderboards offer even greater motivation
Extra Content 4/5 - All modes from the WiiWare release, online leaderboards and achievements, some may crave for more
Equivalent to a score of 80% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)