Super Magbot is a challenging 2D platformer with one hell of a gimmick: no jumping.
Yes, you heard that right.
The exclusion of such a foundational feature for the platforming genre is an audacious move – to say the least. It is like imagining a shooter without any guns!
Thankfully, the absence of the jump button comes with an interesting trade-off. To navigate the world of ‘Magnetia’, Magbot – our games hero – utilises both positive and negative magnetic properties (denoted by the colours blue and red) to navigate through the very challenging platforming levels.
This design choice underpins the game’s core formula, and it is undeniably a gamble from the developers.
I guess the question is: does Super Magbot manage to successfully innovate within the platforming genre?
Play to your strengths:
The story of Super Magbot is a simple one, acting as largely background filler to provide a hook to get you from point a to point b.
Your system is under threat. There is a big bad villain. Only you, Magbot, can save the day.
Nothing particularly complex here – but the story – and simple macguffin of collecting all the fragments to save your home planet, MagTek, works because of the emphasis placed on the game’s fundamentals.
Super Magbot plays to its strengths: tough platforming, married with a progressive rise in difficulty – that peaks at brutally hard – provided the hook that kept me going ‘just one more run’ throughout my playthrough.
The simple visual design also supplements the experience: the colour scheme often corresponds nicely with each element. Furthermore, the design also acts as a helpful indicator for gameplay, such as ice meaning a more slippery surface.
Audiowise, the music was fairly forgettable. Nothing distractingly bad, but at the same time, nothing all too memorable.
A progressive, fair, challenge:
I am by no means a platforming aficionado, however even I can recognise the difficulty curve.
The initial difficulty emanates from the movement system; with the left thumbstick functioning as your run button, and the right being your aim. Coupled with the triggers – which let you choose whether to use positive or negative – there is a high level of precision to basic movement.
Then you factor in how you need to approach each magnetic force. Movements have different properties, such as sliding or jumping. Initially, this felt quite awkward, and I died – a lot. But, after enough runs, the magic of muscle memory kicked in and I found myself intuitively navigating through levels.
Incredibly satisfying (I still died a lot).
To Magbots credit, the control system itself remains simple throughout the game. Creativity comes from new interactable items that can be found as you progress levels. These items all lend themselves largely to navigation, which is important in helping you keep up with the game’s breakneck pace.
As you progress, levels become decidedly more hostile: the floor becomes lava; unforgiving blades and spikes necessitate quick-thinking and reflexes, which adds to both thrill and despair. Thankfully, unlimited lives and super-fast respawning encourages the player to keep going back.
(Many) Trials and errors:
Super Magbot offers an impressive amount of levels. Because of the forgiving respawn system, I felt encouraged to experiment with each level. When combined with the environmental challenges; different items to use and collect, each level became a playground for me to express my creativity.
On a slightly less positive note, sometimes the game attempts to use two screens or more in the levels can be seriously frustrating. Because of the game’s frenetic pace, the one screen approach is damn near essential in trying to progress.
As an overall package, Super Magbot offers a new approach to the platforming genre: one that is initially quite difficult, but through progressive challenge and a simple control scheme, quickly becomes instinctive.
The game’s nature is fast, frantic and ultimately forgiving, which encourages the player to be creative when approaching each level.
Overall, a really fun experience and addition to the platforming genre. If you’re unsure, there is a free demo on the E-shop.