Tag Archives: Magnet Man

REVIEW: Magnet Man

Not to be confused with the Mega Man 3 boss by the same name, Magnet Man ($1.00) is yet another game by developer Chris Antoni1, a simple platformer using the power of magnets to fuel its type of predictable (yet occasionally smart) puzzle-solving. The idea isn’t exactly novel on its own— magnetized platformers being rather common— but when done right (on XBLIG, the excellent Magnetic By Nature comes to mind), it can attract2 an audience.

Magnet Man - Screen

Like MbN before it, this one’s similarly a platformer, albeit one starring a shirtless gladiator(?). I think. And yes, he has a magnet surgically-implanted on his arm, which he (of course!) uses to attach to and repel from the changing polarity of magnets that he can control (via switches). Or maybe he’s just carrying a magnet. It’s hard to tell, and doesn’t really have any effect on the game at all. There is no story or text of any kind, no motivation or impetus, just the ‘Job well done, sir!’ of setting a high score.

Save for the later levels, where some tiny penguin-like enemies show up (one hit equals death, so you simply avoid them), it’s just you and the magnet cannon. And a bunch of same-y looking stage designs between you and each exit. Your cannon is versatile, allowing you to attach yourself to ceilings or pull yourself straight across the length of the level, provided you are ‘lined up’ with said magnets, and on level ground. While that’s not exactly a twist on the formula, Magnet Man‘s insistence on those conditions does create some clever traversal puzzles and the occasional ‘how do I get there?’ moments.

Magnet Man - Screen2

This generally requires you to swap polarities, time your moves to disappearing bricks, or push a ‘boulder’ (sort of looks like a Transformers‘ head) with your cannon in order to create stairs or safe havens from spike pits. Expect to make a few mistakes, but the level of difficulty’ rests more on your patience than actual challenge; you have a limited amount of lives, but given that you can save at each new level, you’re never in any danger of losing your place.

That said, starting from the title and all the way to the graphics, Magnet Man is not very interesting. The gameplay is decent, but it’s all visually and tonally bland, lacks any sort of personality (sorry, Magnet Gladiator), and feels rough around the edges. With a little more time in the developmental oven it might fare better, but with far better (and far more inviting) magnetic platformers out there, there’s no real reason to invest your time here.

  1. I should really just change the name of this site to ‘theANTONI’, seeing as how I’ve been strictly reviewing games by him. It seems that way, certainly. 
  2. Only bad ‘magnet’ pun I’ll do, I swear. And I stick to my promises…. okay, fine. Just those two. 

REVIEW: Zippy Push Kid

When you’re lording over the power of magnetics, you need to name yourself something with a little no-nonsense snap to it. Contemporary, a bit dangerous, even. It may not advertise his skills directly, yet Zippy Push Kid (80 MSP) fits the bill. It’s got layers. He’s sounds like a good guy already, not settling for the cheap or obvious like Magnet Man (sorry, Capcom). Too bad his gamesake doesn’t give him much time to attract an audience (you see what I did there, with ‘attract’? Clever, right?).

Zippy Push Kid - Screen

Human or Magnet, you make a  >_<  face, that’s gotta hurt.

Not that ‘attraction’ is the objective. Zippy may be a literal magnet, trying to escape from a cyborg test lab as magnets are wont to do, but he’s not trying to form any attachments (yeah, I’m doing it again) along the way. And I mean zero. Everything in the game, from movement to combat, is based on using his inherent abilities to do the complete opposite, to push or repel attackers and boost to perform jumps. Seems counterproductive for being a magnet, but I’ll bite.

The idea is implemented well, too, sort of like ‘being a jetpack’, with a meter that depletes and refills quickly, giving you just enough juice so that you won‘t go around zapping everything or zooming through with impunity. Most enemies can be pushed backwards or thrown into spike pits in this way, and you can always propel yourself upwards and bop them, Mario-style. The steering takes a little practice, but you’ll be getting around quite easily quite quickly.

Progress within the stages is periodically halted by gates, requiring you to ‘push’ various shapes towards keyholes. It’s not as precise or simple as grab & carry, though it’s an interesting use of your powers. Sadly, no upgrades or ideas are introduced beyond that, save for a ‘wall kick’ repel move that’s never utilized outside of one collectible situation, which changes your magnet shots from aqua blue to green for the duration of the stage for some inexplicable reason.

Zippy Push Kid - Screen2

‘Magnetic rays’ or pissing contest? You decide.

A few snags prevent the game from ever really taking off. Despite the occasional trouble in magnet-pushing myself around and over gaps, Zippy Push Kid is very low-impact platforming. The enemies and hazards are spread out, for the most part, with plenty of health refills in between. In fact, I had to go back into the game after completing it just to die and confirm that checkpoints do exist. And with five levels (including one apiece for a tutorial and end boss), all of which run under five minutes in length, the game is extremely short and pedestrian. There’s just not much going on. More should have been done with the mechanics / design to make better use of the magnetism (or anti-magnetism, as it were).

That doesn’t make Zippy Push Kid a bad game, just a shallow experience with nothing to cling to, that’s over before it’s done anything interesting. That genericy may play to the strengths of an era with short attention spans, but an even worse fate is not doing enough to stick in gamers’ minds. Cool name, though, bro.