Developer: HD Publishing
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★½☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Magnetic Joe debuted in February as a free game, though from the beginning HD Publishing promised that a paid version would later be released; it was well-received, but its simplicity justified the nonexistent price tag. The developers have held true to their promise, and Magnetic Joe 2 was released in the beginning of this month for $1.99. It’s clear that the game has evolved since then, and Magnetic Joe 2 is an innovative little title and a pretty good arcade-puzzler. It has its flaws, sure, and it still doesn’t offer too much complexity, but it’s a good game.

img_00384Everything in Magnetic Joe 2 revolves around, unsurprisingly, magnetism. Joe is a delicate little ball who has the ability to magnetize with a touch of your finger. Magnets are scattered around each stage, and when Joe is magnetized, they propel him—the only catch is that each magnet has a direction associated with it, and you have to time Joe so that he doesn’t end up impaling himself on spikes or running into an enemy. If he does, he’ll shatter into a rain of pixels!

Levels are puzzle-like and require various maneuvers to ensure Joe’s safety, but they all boil down to one objective: go from point A to point B. There are other things to take into consideration, too. Each completed level earns you a gold star, but beating the “developer’s time” will earn you an extra one. Stars can be used to unlock special unlockable abilities:

  • Cloak: Joe becomes invisible, making the levels even more challenging
  • Bad: Makes Joe stronger, letting him destroy walls more easily
  • Rerverse: Reverses the controls. Now you have to demagnetize Joe
  • Josephine: She is light and floats better
  • Bot: Makes Joe immune to robots
  • Fire: Makes Joe immune to fires
  • Hood: Makes Joe immune to spike balls and green monsters

Additionally, there are four (really three) different game modes. Tutorial is a 10-stage introduction to the mechanics of Magnetic Joe, while Classic consists of 30 levels focused around timed completion. In the 30-level Collect mode, you still have to try and minimize your time…but you also have to collect all of the little baby Joe’s on your way out. And in Enemy mode (again, there are 30 levels) you have to make it to the end in as little time as possible, but this time there are tons of “deadly foes” including spiders robots. Oh my!

img_00404All in all, Magnetic Joe has a decent amount of variety, and if you like the basic gameplay, 100 levels (90 not counting the tutorial) should keep you occupied for a little while. Most of the level designs are fairly straightforward, but they’re still fun to play through, and quite a few are challenging.

On a more technical note, the game’s controls are pleasantly simple. All you have to do is tap anywhere on the screen to magnetize Joe. That’s it. There are menus, of course, but the control scheme is just about the simplest one in the world.

Sadly, the graphics are also simple…painfully so, at times. Everything is rather pixelated and not exactly pretty to look at. It’s all functional, sure, but don’t expect much in the way of eye candy. Jagged edges are prime stars in this little play. On the bright side, the audio isn’t anything new, but it is reminiscent of an old arcade game. While that’s nice and all, the sound effects and the music both get on your nerves after extended listening.

Magnetic Joe 2′s gameplay is supplemented by some solid features. You can, for example, choose from portrait or landscape orientation, with screen lock as an option; download your friend’s high scores (my nickname is simply “bonnie”); play your own music; and those extra, unlockable abilities that I mentioned earlier. However, there’s also a built-in ad for Magnetic Joe (the original), and it’s advertised as free. Not so: the original game is now priced at $0.99, presumably so as to not cannibalize sales.

You know, besides the lackluster graphics, I really don’t have many specific things complain about with Magnetic Joe 2. For me, the gameplay wasn’t overly compelling, and the originality of the magnet mechanic wore thin pretty quickly; your mileage will vary. The false advertising of Magnetic Joe as “free” definitely needs to stop, too. I suppose my final conclusion is that Magnetic Joe 2 is simply an ordinary game: a good one, and a solid offering, but nothing extraordinary. There’s nothing wrong with being simply “good;” you won’t be wasting your money if you do buy. “Joe” falls short of demanding the label “must-have,” but it’s still an entertaining, simple arcade puzzle game that will be much appreciated by fans of the previous version and newcomers alike.

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