I'm always happy to take a trip down memory lane. MagNets brings me back to the early Dreamcast days with its simple gameplay and cheesy charm, but is it a worthy game for 2016 standards?
MagNets: Fully Charged is a 3D platformer that has quite an interesting gameplay premise. You play as a robot ranger named Faraday who uses magnetic fields to harm enemies, turn them to scrap, and recycle that scrap into useful objects. To do so, you simply hold a shoulder button down to expand the radius of a field and all of the enemies inside get damaged upon releasing the button. Once an enemy perishes, it'll probably leave some scrap behind. Once you've collected enough, you can turn it into a conductor or switch that you then place in an obvious location in order to progress further. It's all very simple and easy to understand. There are a couple of extra controls such as jumping, ground pounding, and dashing, yet performing these moves is mostly optional. Overall, it's a solid premise for a game as it creates some opportunities for fun scenarios (such as the few enjoyable boss battles).
Although MagNets is far from impressive looking, it has a charming presentation that's reminiscent of games from the turn of the century. The constantly smiling protagonist, odd cubic foes, and generic environments may put off many gamers but I actually enjoy these aspects because they remind me of when video games were built just to have fun. The soundtrack matches the visuals perfectly with electronic rhythms that were common around the same time and the sound effects are rather satisfying. Basically, if you're expecting MagNets to feel like a modern game then you'll be disappointed but those wanting a trip to the not-so-distant past will be pleased.
MagNets: Fully Charged primarily consists of a 20 stage campaign. You'll travel to four unique areas that contain five stages in each. Unfortunately, you can beat the entire game in about an hour and there isn't much to do after that. You could climb the leaderboards and try to complete every challenge for each stage but this isn't the sort of game where doing so is particularly rewarding. That being said, the adorable photo that you get after you complete the campaign is a treat that'll make your efforts worthwhile.
My most significant problem with MagNets by far is its lack of polish. I can't really put into words how shabby it feels at times so I'll just give a few examples. Sometimes, I looked at my health meter and realised that I was almost a goner yet I didn't notice that I took any damage. This is because you're not appropriately notified whenever you get hurt. The health meter moves around a little but you won't see that when you're focused on the gameplay. Also, you'll get hurt a lot since it's difficult to tell when enemies are attacking. To avoid accidental injury, I jumped around almost constantly. Finally, whenever I had an item in my possession and was about to place it where it belonged, I occasionally no longer had it on me. This was due to the fact that an enemy hurt me and thus made the item fall out of my hands. As a result, I had to retrace my steps and try to find where I dropped the darn thing.
The core gameplay of MagNets is fairly solid but it never reaches any high points. You'll come across a few different enemy types and various obstacles yet all you ever do is run around and draw magnetic fields. I would have liked to see some involving puzzles or anything substantial to break up the monotony but the only parts of the campaign that do are the boss fights. However, most of them can be defeated quite easily and then you're off to run around more humdrum stages again.
MagNets: Fully Charged is by no means a bad game; it's just not enough of one to widely recommend. The only gamers who will enjoy it are those who want to go back to a time when peculiar games like this were commonplace.
- + Promising gameplay premise that allows for some enjoyable scenarios
- + Charming graphics and cool soundtrack
- + The cute final screen is a pleasant reward
- - General lack of polish makes it hard to clearly decipher what's going on
- - Gameplay fails to reach any high points
- - Campaign only takes about an hour to beat