"Master of Magnets"
Physics-platformers proliferate on smartphones the same way ants infest picnics. The reasons for this are sensible enough: they show off the processing power of the devices by displaying complex scientific mechanics in action, but they're simple enough to play intuitively on a touch screen and often use cartoon character iconography that's ideal for merchandising. Of course, like any genre, a physics platformer has no inherent value beyond the quality of the individual game's level design and programming. Sadly, in the case of Major Magnet, that design misses the mark despite its undeniable promise.
Major Magnet casts players as the titular hero, who possesses powers similar to the X-Men's arch-nemesis Magneto. The use of magnetism is where the similarities end, as while Magneto is a frighteningly powerful and shrewd super-villain, Major Magnet is a dowdy dolt named Marv who is incapable of flight without his cape. When the evil Colonel Lastin steals that cape, Marv is forced to get around by his giant horseshoe magnet, swinging from magnetized pole to pole through various obstacle courses.
This concept could have made for a great game. Major Magnet progresses by swinging from point to point, controlled by tapping the poles to attract or repel the pudgy hero. Players have to tap with impeccable timing in order to send the Major flying in the right direction at the right time, especially if they want to get higher scores for collecting more items. Unfortunately, the timing needs to be absolute, especially in the later levels. There are split seconds between sending the Major in the right direction and flinging him to his untimely demise. Given the speeds the Major needs to swing at in order to launch himself a respectable distance, this is hardly unexpected, but it's still frustrating.
Usually these mass-market games tend to veer towards being too easy, but the difficulty of Major Magnet represents the opposite problem, and for the purpose of such a game —i.e. being a quick timewaster on one's smartphone— this is counter-intuitive. Pulling out Major Magnet for a minute or two will likely not lead to any progress within the game, except for the earliest levels. The game isn't complex enough to warrant such extensive play, but it's not easy enough to get into immediately. Some people might still enjoy Major Magnet, and there is much to recommend about the game, but there are plenty of more intuitive physics-platformers on the market.
GameDynamo's Score for Major Magnet (Mobile)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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