Now I first encountered this game back in 2014 at the Gadget Show Live.
I think that you can see the side of my head as I play it in the background whilst Dave conducts the interview and no I’m not the dark haired guy with the glasses, that’s Matt.
And speaking of Matt he actually reviewed MagNets when it was originally released.
Anyway, back then at the Gadget Show you only have a limited amount of time in order to sample games and the environment is not that conducive for an immersive experience.
Roll on a couple of years and I’ve got Mike messaging me with a review to do; he’s also in the video but behind the camera.
So one 25 digit code later the console announces that MagNets: Fully Charged was now available to play. This is a new and enhanced edition for the Xbox One.
The front end is very retro and reminds me of Amiga games with simple clear text – none of that bas-relief nonsense here.
On-screen there are a series of option but being thorough I opt for help and got the couple of pages concerning the plot and controls.
I might be an idea to specify what kind of a game this is. The press release helps me here with the statement, frantic arcade-feel retro "collect-em-up".
So there you go but is it actually like..
Well the game start you off in Polarity Park where and something has gone amiss and apart from a briefing you’re offered the option of playing a tutorial.
Plot-wise it seems that the MagNetPets have escaped and others called Bloxbots have gone mad you’re the Ranger (read much maligned maintenance robot).
You don’t have any weapons per se but you do have a MagNet with which you encapsulate the opposition in order to exhort damage. This you may have to do several times in order to render the robotic adversaries into scrap, the collection of which is crucial in order to progress.
Now all this is played in an off-set top-down angle. The controls are fairly straightforward; left stick to navigate leaving jump and dash on the face buttons and the MagNet on the triggers (interestingly labelled –ve & +ve respectively in the controls diagram).
The levels start off fairly compact but do open out and typically follow similar mechanics. Protect something/someone from attack. Take the scrap (gold things) from any defeated foe to the Recycletron to be recycled. This act of recycling is the main method of progression since the Recycletron will give you ‘stuff’ in return (a bit of advice here; unless achievement hunting do not collect more scrap than is necessary since depositing it a the Recycletron zeroes your counter and if you touch a foe whilst carrying scrap it will cause it to be dropped).
A quick word here also about the ‘stuff’ the Recycletron gives you. You either get a personal benefit (health/shield) or some item that you have to carry to a location within the environment.
The location that you have to transport the item to is sometimes not overly obvious and if you use your weapon you’ll drop it. Something that you’ll do often in the more panicky moments and finding the item again to pick it up can be arduous if you completely forget about this limitation and you have to backtrack your movements.
Your MagNet can from time to time can also be used to charge devices and the visual progression be usually be witnessed along a cable leading from the inductor to the device needing the power. The MagNet operates in an edge to edge (opposite sides of a circle or antipodal point) placement and one nuisance with it is that you have to surround your victims with it but jumping will cause it to reset so stopping you from jumping backward over the heads of the following masses.
The levels go by quite quickly initially and get progressively more demanding. Sometimes this because of the addition of a new type of foe and sometimes because the level requires exploration in order to understand the objectives. End levels are punctuated by a ‘big bad guy’ that can be easier than the levels that you have had to negotiate to get there.
As I write this I’ve completed the main campaign and I’ve begun to investigate the other options. There’s a level select and another called challenges. These do exactly as you’d imagine with the challenges giving you a progression indicator for completing each level against four objectives (time, scrap collected, full health and scenery damage). Achievements are only unlocked by playing at normal/hard difficulty/impossible (I’ve been playing on normal up to now). There is also a local multiplayer option but I’m not in a position to experiment with that however you can see the unlocked multiplayer characters elsewhere.
I had expected a little bit more in the way of physics based puzzling (you’re called Faraday, magnetism is one of the fundamental forces and the aforementioned control labelling) but that potential looks to have been left untapped. This is however an interesting (albeit frustrating) game at times and the gameplay quirks do drive you to wanting to see it completed.