i’ve been playing a lot of the early DS games and worked my way through a lot of magnetica (aka actionloop), released about a year and a half after the DS’s debut. since its release the gameplay has become more familiar through popcap’s popular zuma games (a version of which was recently released on DSiware), but the game’s origins actually date back to a japan-only series that debuted in 1998 with an arcade release called puzz loop.
on first encounter the gameplay of magnetica and its brethren feels too simplistic and the combo system doesn’t seem very deep. the combo system does turn out to be fairly satisfying, though, although not nearly to the extent of the king of all combo systems found in the tetris attack series. magnetica‘s gameplay also focuses attention on your ability to put a piece where you want it to go, which takes away from the immediacy and tactility found in almost all other puzzles games of this type. i’m personally not a fan of this added hurdle, but i’m guessing most other players won’t have any objections to it.
in terms of modes, chasing after gold medals in the quest mode does make the game much more worthwhile, since executing combos with precision becomes essential. the quest mode has 21 unique levels, after which they repeat twice for a total of 60+ levels. the second (and presumably third) incarnations of the levels just add more obstacles to the boards, such as barriers, which didn’t interest me at all and which put me off continuing to play the game. presentation-wise the game competently follows the same slick electronic feel that has become ubiquitous since the release of lumines but isn’t otherwise particularly memorable.
all in all i enjoyed this puzzler more than i thought i would but probably won’t be coming back to it anytime soon. it’s turned out to be quite a DS-centric year so far, but hopefully i’ll be shaking things up a bit in the near future.