Super Magbot is polarising in all the right ways

It seems like a given that if you’re playing a platformer game, you’re gonna have a jump button – how else are you supposed to, y’know, platform? The biggest thing setting apart the magnetic action of Super Magbot is that you do all your usual platforming with no jump button whatsoever. Instead, you’ll utilise red and blue magnet beams to lunge toward or launch off of various blue and red platforms scattered across the levels in order to clear each one and save the world.

At first, I struggled with the gimmick. You can launch a red laser at a red platform to bounce off it in the direction opposite of where you aimed, but you can also fire a blue laser at that same red platform to magnetically grapple toward it and maintain your momentum. There are a lot of different ways these magnetic abilities get utilized through the various bite-sized stages of Super Magbot, but the recently released Steam demo does a solid job of slowly getting you accustomed to each hazard and ability before introducing new ones. Aiming the laser properly, though, ended up being my largest struggle. As the challenges became tougher and required more pinpoint precision, the 360-degree aim of the magnetic beams was tough to consistently align the way I wanted them to.

Still, when you do line those beams up correctly and bust out multiple lasers in a row properly, the satisfaction is hard to beat. Super Magbot levels end up feeling a bit like puzzles, and successfully navigating them and watching your bot glide to victory feels great. Even easier levels can be tricky thanks to the optional challenge of collecting bonus fragments hidden in them. The small and swift collection of levels in the demo ended up being addicting – the bite-sized nature of each challenge gave me the urge to go back and sharpen my time scores on each stage once I had finished the entire demo.

There’s a narrative pull to the game, but it’s not nearly as strong as the gameplay itself. Magbot is tasked with defending the planet against an impending evil that will soon arrive, and the local inhabitants rise up to help the magnetic machine fulfil its mission. The dialogue in the brief set of scenes present in the demo was, honestly, not that great. It all came across as very bare and basic exposition, not unlike the sort of flat explanatory dialogue you’d get out of a children’s cartoon like Paw Patrol or something. If the game were designed for that kind of audience, it would work well, but the brain-bending difficulty of the actual game makes me doubt that’s the case.

At the end of the day, while the narrative and writing of Super Magbot seem to lack personality, it’s still more than made up for in the gameplay department. It takes a while to get used to, but this game eventually ends up becoming an addictive platforming challenge with truly unique tools and level design. While I still struggled a bit with the magnetic movement of the game even at the end of my time with the demo, I know that with more time and practice I’ll be able to soar through the levels and wrap my mind around the action even better. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the polarised platforming action evolves in the full release.