For a game slapped with a "Touch Generations" label (a way for Nintendo to draw in non-video game players with accessible, easy to grasp concepts) Magnetica is hard. While a knock-off of Puzzloop and the more recent Zuma, Magnetica's tighter confines, fast moving pieces, and rapidly increasing levels separate it enough to be its own game. The extra modes and wildly fun multi-player keep you coming back.
With its core concepts, Magnetica adds a few of its own touches. Instead of having one spot from which to shoot balls, you'll have up to three in later levels. With some of the complex layouts, it makes sense, while also forcing players to pay attention to every move they make. Shooting a colored ball to help it join with two others of the same color is only a matter of flicking the stylus on the touch screen in the direction you need it to go.
Clearing levels is done by eliminating a certain amount of balls from the screen, and you'll be helped by various power-ups. Depending on the chosen mode of play, these vary from color-clearing spheres, slot machines, coins (for points), and more. Wireless, single card multi-player adds a staggering amount of ways to dismantle your opponent, including some that bring in other DS features like the microphone.
Progression when playing solo takes place in quest, puzzle, or challenge. The latter is a series of levels you'll need to clear to 99 in order to advance. Quest is similar, only with a different set of objectives and unique mechanics like the above-mentioned slot machine. Puzzle is self explanatory, giving the player a set of balls to clear in a certain number of turns in increasingly difficult stages.
This is a solid variety of play modes, though there's nothing to unlock. You'll gain a screen of developer credits if you fight through either the quest or puzzle modes. The seemingly endless challenges are not worth the effort. This is a title that will keep you busy for some time, regardless of whether or not you're an expert in the games it's copying. The challenge level is definitely set on high, mostly due to its level design and cramped quarters on the bottom DS screen.
Still, Magnetica's bright graphics, addictive, derivative concept, and multi-player (where available) more than make up for the lack of extras. No matter how many times you fail to clear a level, you'll be back. Magnetica brings that unexplainable addictive hook that great puzzle games always have along with it.
Magnetica is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.