A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while the mechanics of playing this game using the touch screen are easy, testers found solving the puzzles to be challenging. This isn't a game for simple diversion -- it will challenge kids to think and plan ahead. A two-player mode lets players compete against each other.
What's it about?
MAGNETICA, a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS, isn't one of those fluffy puzzle games that anyone can play while multitasking. This one requires concentration and logical thinking. The concept is fairly simple: A chain of colored magnetic marbles moves through a spiral track toward a game-ending vortex. Players strive to eliminate all the marbles in the chain before they reach the vortex.
Using a stylus on the touch screen, players eliminate marbles by \"flicking\" new marbles from a special launcher hole into the chain to make combinations of three or more same-colored marbles, which then disappear. Like-colored marbles have the special property of attraction: You can close a gap in the chain of marbles by placing, at one end, a marble the same color as the one at the other end of the gap. The game offers three modes for single players: Puzzle, Challenge, and Quest.
Is it any good?
Because the game's puzzles are so demanding, this isn't a good game for kids younger than about 12, unless they're precocious. Two people can compete in the Versus mode if they have two DS units and either one or two software cartridges. This mode has quirky, randomly appearing attack items, including clouds and black holes.
Nintendo released this puzzle under its Touch Generations brand, an attempt to create games that anyone can play. While the mechanics of using the touch screen are easy, testers found solving the puzzles to be challenging. This level of challenge creates a double-edged sword: The game is good because it pushes players intellectually, but it's bad because it will turn off players who are looking for a simple diversion. Instead of being a fun puzzle game for the masses, this seems like a niche game for hardcore puzzle lovers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about which mode they prefer -- do you want the pressure of quick decision-making at a frenetic pace offered in the Challenge mode, or do you like the untimed Puzzle mode to work things out? Is this a game that kids want to play repeatedly, or do they find it so challenging that it's better to approach it in small sessions?
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