E3 06: Magnetika Preshow Hands-On

If you're familiar with puzzle games like Zuma or Bust-a-Move, then you'll be in familiar territory when you dive into Magnetika.

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The DS and its unique controls and form factor make it well suited to puzzle games like Magnetika, which is headed to the system early this summer. Similar to the popular puzzle hit Zuma, Magnetika tasks you with firing multicolored marbles from the center of the screen toward a long strand of other balls rolling towards your home point. Shooting is as simple as flicking your stylus across the DS's touch screen, which lends Magnetika an intuitive control scheme. And while this premise may sound simple, it is put to extensive use through the game's dozens of levels and variety of modes.

For instance, there's a level-based quest mode, each one challenging you to accomplish some specific task. These levels start off very easy, as if to train complete newcomers to puzzle games, but get tougher before long. There's also a puzzle mode, in which you have a limited number of shots to clear the screen--best make every one count. And there's the challenge mode, which forces you to try to stave off a never-ending onslaught--no levels, no nothing. There's even a versus mode that lets you throw your opponent for a loop by using various annoying weapons.

The game is very similar to Zuma in its mechanics, or to the lesser-known Puzz Loop. Match three like-colored marbles in a row and they all disappear. Like-colored marbles also attract each other, so eliminating a sequence may result in chain combos as the marbles on opposite sides also collide. Of course, the touch-screen support should help differentiate this game, and it even is compatible with the DS rumble pack. The game seems to offer pure, simple fun and it kept us well occupied for a good 20 minutes or more during a Nintendo pre-E3 event. Expect Magnetika to ship early this summer, and look to GameSpot for further details.

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