Magnetica Hands-On

We try out the upcoming DS puzzle game at GDC.

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Magnetica is the upcoming puzzle game for the Nintendo DS that was one of three DS titles announced for the dual screen portable system earlier this year. The game is an update of the 1998 arcade game called Puzz Loop, whose influence can be seen in modern works such as Zuma. The game is being developed by Mitchell, creator of the original arcade game, which players would know from its most recent DS title, Polarium. We had the chance to play what appeared to be a near-final version of the game at Nintendo's booth today at GDC.

The game on display featured four modes: challenge, quest, puzzle, and versus. The basic mechanics of the game are dead simple: You just have to take out multicolored spheres traveling in a path toward a hole at the center of the screen. To do this, you'll have to shoot balls of the same color from a launcher and create groups of three or more spheres of the same color. You'll also find power-ups mixed in with the assorted spheres that will yield effects such as slowing the progression of spheres, reversing their movement, and even stopping them altogether for brief periods of time. While this may sound as though it makes things easy, the game's got some bite thanks to a challenging level of difficulty that makes if tough to coast for too long, as the speed of the spheres picks up pretty quickly. The DS twist given to the game is the ability to fire off the spheres from the launcher by using the DS stylus.

The visuals in the game sport a futuristic theme that's heavy on the bright colors. The 2D graphics sport a Technicolor look that's nicely done. Given the simple look of the game, the action moves along smoothly even at its most manically fast pace.

The DS is obviously a good fit for puzzle games, and Magnetica doesn't appear to do anything to prove otherwise. The game is fun, accessible, and works fine with the stylus. Look for Magnetica this June.

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