Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Super Magbot (NSW, PC) Review

Super Magbot launches onto Steam and Nintendo Switch today. To coincide with the launch, SuperPhillip Central has a full review of this particularly difficult puzzle-platformer ready to go! Let's check out Astral Pixel and Team17's Super Magbot with this review.

An "attractive" puzzle-platformer

When an evil asteroid, tearing through the universe, leaving nothing but chaos and destruction in its path, heads towards the ever-powerful Magnetia Star, it's up to Super Magbot to save the day--and the universe. Needing to head to each of the Magnetia Star's surrounding planets to collect each one's Planet Fragment, Magbot has quite the arduous mission ahead of itself. There's no time to dawdle, either, as the sinister Magsteroid is quickly pursuing!

Super Magbot is a 2D puzzle-platformer where the main mechanic revolves around magnetism and attraction. Magbot itself is way too heavy to even jump, so instead, it uses its arms to shoot forward rays that either allow it to attach itself to magnetized walls, ceilings, and floors or repel to launch itself upwards and onwards. 

The objective of each level is simple enough--reach the goal! Getting to the goal, however, in these hazard-filled, obstacle-laden levels is another story. Starting off in Super Magbot, the game eases you into the somewhat confusing method to traverse the world. Using the left analog stick for movement and the right stick to control the direction that Magbot shoots its magnetic rays (whether red or blue), players interact with levels--specifically red and blue pieces of the environment--to get around. For example, if Magbot is standing directly on a blue floor, aiming the right stick downward and then pressing the left bumper to shoot a blue ray will result in Magbot being launched upward. Which way upward Magbot is launched depends on the angle of the right stick when the left bumper is pressed down.

Starting off, Super Magbot gently eases you into how to play and interact with its mechanics...

Likewise, there are plenty of magnetized blue and red walls that can only be scaled by Magbot aiming at them and then shooting the opposite colored ray at them to move up them. Again, the angle of its shot determines how far up Magbot gets launched. As you can probably imagine, things start off easy enough, but by the end of the first world you're needing to shoot Magbot's beams at floors, walls, and ceilings all in one go without much time to stop, breathe and think about things. 

When you have moments to ponder how Magbot's beams relate and how they will interact with the various magnetized objects like floors and walls--among other obstacles like floating bubbles, destructible floors and walls, destructive floors that fall apart soon after touching them, etc.--in levels, the game is rather enjoyable and breezy. However, the moments to think in the latter half of the game quickly dwindle to next to nothing, resulting in myriad failed attempts because you'll accidentally use the wrong ray on an object when pressured, which in turn results in plenty of frustrating deaths.

...But quite quickly the game ramps up the challenge considerably!

Thankfully, Super Magbot comes with various accessibility options for if and when the adventure becomes too tough. These include adding checkpoints to levels, allowing you to infinitely slow time when holding down one of the beam buttons (instead of only having a quick second to slow down time), and being able to use as many beams as you like without needing to touch solid ground to recover beam energy. These three accessibility options can all be turned on, off, or have one or two turned on while the others remain off to customize your Super Magbot experience to your liking and preference. Of course, turning these on will immediately disqualify you from having your top times posted on the game's online leaderboards, but not only is it a small price to pay for less aggravation, but you can turn off the accessibility options at any time to compete on said leaderboards.

Not mentioned in the review text and not pictured here, but Super Magbot does offer a colorblind mode.

Still, even with all of these options turned on, Super Magbot is NOT for the timid player. It can still kick your butt quite easily and repel certain players from enjoying the game. The most difficult challenges within Super Magbot occur when you're attempting to do perfect runs while collecting a level's duo of star fragment pieces. Collecting both of these and completing the level successfully earns you a full star fragment. In turn, collecting all star fragments in every level--even the broken versions of planets that unlock once Magsteroid "visits" them--results in seeing the best ending Super Magbot possesses. Again, even with every accessibility option turned on, this platformer is no cakewalk.

There are four main planets in Super Magbot, each containing 27 levels. The 27th level pits Magbot against a massive boss of some variety. These encounters are rather enjoyable, whether they be chase sequences where players must rush either horizontally or vertically while a boss pursues them as they frantically cycle between attracting Magbot to objects and repelling Magbot from objects, or arena battles where players must avoid attacks by utilizing careful platforming and magnetizing maneuvers.

Book it, Super Magbot! Don't let this boss or its rising tide of lava catch you!

Super Magbot utilizes a lovely pixel art style reminiscent of some of the better 16-bit games of yesteryear. It's a delightful art style that Astral Pixel crafted for its game, and it runs heavenly, too. The sound design, particularly Super Magbot's music, features plentiful amounts of hummable music, great bops, and terrific tunes that won't grate no matter how many deaths you will no doubt encounter.

Despite being a game that did once again reveal that I'm not the mellowest platformer player out there, after personally witnessing moments of gnashing my teeth together, cursing to the heavens, and having my blood pressure noticeably rise at times, Super Magbot was an overall fun and enjoyable platformer. If you crave an almost Super Meat Boy-like challenge from your platformers, then you'll most definitely discover something great to enjoy from Super Magbot. For everyone else, you may find yourself "repelled" from the level of challenge on display in this game.

[SPC Says: B]  

A code was received by SPC from the publisher for the purpose of writing this review.

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