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Magnetic Joe

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Subdued Software
Developer: Most Wanted Entertainment
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

The DSi Ware version of Magnetic Joe is more than a simple port of the physics based mobile-game that has been out for a year or so. This version of the game offers new levels and, thanks to the power of the DS, additional features like power-ups, boss battles and multiplayer modes.

Magnetic Joe's looks are pretty basic, but not so much that it becomes a deterrent. The levels are little more than 2D mazes with one of four different themes. There is the blue and red ball that is Joe, the various enemies that belong in the different environments and, of course, the physical obstacles that are scattered throughout each level, but that's pretty much it.

Audio is fairly bland and, if you are like me, the audio can be esaily turned off without repercussion. There isn't a wide variety of background music and what is present feels a few generations too old. There aren't any audio cues in the game that make the sound required for gameplay, so there isn't really any reason to keep it on anyway.


Magnetic Joe is all about physics. Your job is to guide Joe across the level and get him safely to the end point without causing too much damage. You do this by tapping the screen (or pressing any face button) to activate the various magnetic pads that are close enough to Joe to affect him.

Each pad has a direction on it, and that is the direction it will pull your character. Basically, the game is all about knowing how you will be pulled in order to guide Joe to your goal. Of course, it's not as easy as it sounds. Along the way, you will be faced with various enemies that will either just bounce around the screen or actively shoot at you. There will be spikes on the walls that will hurt you when you hit them. There will be other items that are also magnetically charged that will cause your character to lose a heart and, then there are the boss battles that have very particular weak spots that have to be hit just so, else you will take damage.

However, you will get help along the way. These typically come in the form of various pickups that will do everything from flip the direction of gravity on the field, to increase the magnetic pull of the level's pads to shrink Joe to a smaller target, to turn off gravity, and even put you in a jet pack to give you direct control over Joe's movement.

Each level can be played in three different ways and each manner can be put on Normal or Hard. All that last setting determines is the number of hearts or hits you can take before you have to start over. The three different gameplay modes are Classic, Time and Collect.

Classic behaves just like I described above. Your only goal is to get to the end of the level before your hearts run out. In the Time Mode though, you have a ticking clock that you must beat and in Collect, there are various statues scattered throughout the level that will earn you different trophies depending on the number of them that you pick up before exiting the stage.

There is even an online component that allows you to go up against your friends and attempt to race through the levels you've unlocked.


While Magnetic Joe does have two difficulty settings for each level, don't expect even the lower setting of "Normal" to be a cakewalk. Even on the lowest settings, being able to pull and push Joe across the levels and into the exit areas can be a trial, especially when you have to maneuver around the various enemies and environmental hazards. Most of the time, I found myself getting into odd spots that no amount of finagling with the various magnetic pulls would get me into just the right spot and I would often restart the level even if I didn't actually die.

Being a fan of physics-based games, I expected to be able to go in and make some major progress on Magnetic Joe without too much trouble, but even early levels where you are taught the various tricks and traps the game will throw at you had me retrying several times. What I did like was the fact that I rarely ever got frustrated with the game and felt the need to simply put it away. There were a few times, but in general, failing at a level made me want to complete it just a bit more.

Game Mechanics:

Magnetic Joe keeps everything simple. When you tap the screen, the magnetic charges fly and they will pull Joe in the directions they indicate. There are times when you might want to tap specific objects, like the magnetic tiles that can be turned off, but for the most part, its a one-touch game and feels a lot like a port from a mobile device. That isn't to say it's bad, but the mindset behind the game's controls have the same feel.

The places where the game takes a different approach from its predecessors include the online components, and that might be the aspect that draws the attention of DS gamers. But again, Magnetic Joe isn't for everyone, especially not for those who don't really enjoy physics games where you don't have direct control over the movement of your pieces. But those players it's intended for should find a good bit of fun in this title, and for those gamers, it is worth considering.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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