In the latest puzzle romp from Nitrome, you play the part of Magneboy, an orange robot powered by clockwork, with a dial in his chest set permanently to Neutral. He exists in a strange technological void, with pillars jutting out of the infinite blackness beneath. On each level, you must guide him to a checkerboard-patterned platform (robots are naturally attracted to early 60s diners). Then a vacuum tube will descend from the sky, suck him up, and deposit him in Robo-Valhalla, where he will spend the rest of his days surrounded by beautiful Magne-women and cybernetic roast pigs.
Nah, I'm kidding. He just gets to do another puzzle. Magneboy never escapes. He is doomed to eternal Sisyphean torment. Don't feel bad. He exists to entertain you.
Control Magneboy with the [arrow keys] or [WASD] and activate his Amazing Magnetic Powers with [space]. Magnetism works on the first thing in your robot's line of sight, and it has several uses. If you're looking at a blue platform across a chasm, Magneboy will be drawn forward to it. If you're looking at a gray suspended platform, it will come to Magneboy. Your powers don't work through obstacles, such as pretty flowers, which are of course the arch-nemesis of magnet people.
Analysis: Nitrome likes to make a pretty game. Although Magneboy's world doesn't require spectacular visuals, the Lego-inspired main character is nicely animated, and having the platforms peeking out of a techno void is a clever way to put the illusion of 3 dimensions onto a block-pushing (or pulling, rather) puzzle game. Add a downbeat, appropriately synthetic soundtrack, and you've got a typically high-quality Nitrome presentation.
It may be annoying at first to find how slowly Magneboy moves, but the quirky control is necessary to support the main scoring system. You get more points if you complete a level in fewer moves; but you can rotate to face different directions without it counting against you. So rather than constantly racking up useless steps, you need to hold down the arrow key for a moment after the robot turns before he starts walking. You get used to it. Most of the time, there's not a lot of area to cover.
Some of the puzzles feel a little sloppy, but most of them are nicely challenging without causing too much of a brain-ache. 50 levels await you in total, about 10 of which are well-spaced tutorials for various new elements in the game.
I would say that there are probably a few too many elements in Magneboy, in fact. Movable bridges and key platforms are fine, but the levels that feature moving attack robots were definitely my least favorite. The phlegmatic Magneboy is just not a robot made for tactical maneuvers. Realizing this, Nitrome has given you three lives per level, so the enemy robots are unlikely to even kill you, and they just seem pointless. I'd rather the whole action idea had been axed in favor of pure puzzling, but there aren't even that many action levels, so it's nearly a moot point.
Regardless, Nitrome is on a winning streak lately. This title provides a solid batch of block puzzles with an appealingly melancholy protagonist. Won't you take pity on poor Magneboy, and rescue him from the endless void?
The game is also available to Play at the MTV Arcade.