Super Magbot is somehow a throwback to old-school platformers and also an intensely modern one. In short, it's a frustratingly hard experience that'll have you cursing the names of everyone involved in the project, but also the kind of game that'll have you "I can do it on this next try"-ing a dozen times in a row before you finally succeed on a tough level, blitz through the next couple, and then get stuck again and begin the cycle anew.
You take control of a little robot called Magbot, who has been tasked with saving the system of Magnetia from the evildoers who want to claim the resources there as their own. Normally in a platformer, this would involve you jumping about the place and occasionally bopping enemies on the head to take them out. This isn't a normal platformer, though, because you can't jump.
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The Power Of Magnets Repels You
Instead of jumping, you're armed with a blue magnet and a red one. Thankfully, the worlds you'll be traversing happen to have a bunch of red and blue magnets lying around them. I'm not 100% sure it makes sense, but the system is called Magnetia, so I'm just assuming there's a good story reason for it.
So, rather than jumping, you have to use the magnets you control and those scattered throughout the levels to get to the end goal of each. If you fire your blue magnet at a blue magnet, you'll be repelled, and if you fire it at a red magnet, you'll be attracted; the same is true of your reg magnet but in reverse.
When you start off, that'll be a simple enough matter, because you'll have plenty of time to think about which magnet you need, and often lots of time in-between individual activations to plan your next move. Yup, it's really simple, to begin with.
It'll Blue You Away
Of course, as you progress through the levels, you'll find new kinds of magnets. Some of these you'll have to destroy to progress; others will require you to be as fast as possible because they'll break after a couple of seconds of standing on them.
What this means, in practice, is that you have to plan ahead a little bit more. You have to keep in mind when to attract, when to repel, and which colour you need at each stage of any gauntlet of jumps. This is where the game can become frustrating, but it's also not the only aspect of difficulty you're going to have to deal with.
Along with the magnets themselves, you'll also have an array of different obstacles to avoid. The first world is filled with things like sawblades and poisonous pits. These pose problems for sure, but things literally only get harder as you go through the worlds, each of which adds in its own flavour of problems for you to deal with, often on top of the ones you already know and loathe.
Screaming Is Good For The Soul
Because of all of these things, Super Magbot is an incredibly simple game, but that simplicity also allows it to be obnoxiously difficult. When you know that your controls are essential, just two buttons and moving, you become incredibly aware of the fact that what's being asked of you isn't something you can't manage.
It means that the level designs themselves literally can't be that complicated, because you've only got a couple of things to manage. However, that doesn't mean that the sequence of button presses won't frustrate you, but you'll only even blame yourself. There's no "the game is being unfair and this is ridiculous," it's just a constant reminder that the only reason you can't get through the level is that you pushed the wrong button or mistimed a jump.
Super Magbot is a fiendishly difficult game that builds upon its simple premise with layers upon layers of new variables to manage and timings to master. It relies on your becoming flustered and messing up, rather than making the levels all that difficult. It never asks you to do anything more than time your button presses and use the correct magnet, but that never stops it from breaking you. It's a delight, but it's also not going to be for anyone who's not interested in taking a break every ten minutes to scream at the sun.
Reviewed on PC
Review code provided by the publisher