My name is NEO...
You know the phrase: "Don't judge a book by its cover?" Basically, this cliché says that judgements shouldn't be made on appearances alone. Let us look at freaks, for example. No, I'm not talking about the freaks that come out at night or even the freaks of the industry. Let's look at the original freaks, the old-school circus freaks.
People from all over would come to gawk and stare at others who were outwardly perceived as different. What the "norms" didn't think about was how similar they were on the inside. The elephant man still cracked the shells of his peanuts, the bearded lady still had to wax her moustache like all the other guys, and the midgets still put on one little shoe at a time.
At a glance, Crave's latest platformer Super Magnetic Neo looks like some cartoonish game spawned out of a circus freak show for kids, but look a bit deeper and you'll find much more than that.
Before you even open the box, you'll notice the bizarre, cartoonish characters that reside within Super Magnetic Neo. The lead character, Neo, looks like a mutated Smurf with a cardboard box glued on his little, round, noseless head, while arch villain Pinky is a talking two-year old wearing pink Mickey Mouse ears who rides on a flying rubber ducky with a rat skull painted on the side. Sounds like a typical night out in San Francisco. They may not be your average video game characters, but they sure do add some interesting flavor to the game.
At its core, Super Magnetic Neo is a basic platformer that has its lead character jumping from level to level. What separates it from other platform games is the use of super magnetic polarity. Neo has the ability to radiate North and South magnetic rays (called Polar Pops) which he uses to both attract and repel objects and enemies. Using the same polarity will cause Neo to bounce off objects and using the opposite polarity forces him to cling to them. Also, using the opposite polarity on enemies will turn them into little Ener-Cubes that have an explosive charge.
This magnetic feature adds a new dimension to the game and challenges its players to do more than just run, jump and shoot. Gamers must master the art of knowing when to use the North rays and when to use the South rays. While learning the tricks of polarity, you must keep in mind that a lot of practice goes a long way. After you've gotten the hang of it, the game becomes much more fun and a lot less frustrating.
The graphics in Super Magnetic Neo are top notch. Each of the four game worlds is full of multi-colored, smooth textured backgrounds. Even the world select screen is a graphical monster, taking you on a short rollercoaster ride through the amusement park that the villain has taken over.
Another cool aspect of the game is the way it employs different types of movement for Neo. He slides down snowy hills, rides a Camelcycle through ancient lands, and bumps around in a mine cart. Action takes place both in the standard 3D setting and from a side scrolling view.
The major problems that plague Neo are pretty standard for a 3D platformer. First, there is the camera trouble. 3D platform games tend to have a problem with the placement of the camera angles; either they are so close you can't see what you are doing or so far that background objects will occasionally block your view. There are times when the camera will move closer or further for a better view, but it takes a bit too long and is only effective if you stand still and wait for it to happen.
Another small problem is the depth perception of the maps. The layout of some levels makes it difficult to tell just how close or far you are to an object. This can sometimes spell disaster if you fall off the edge of a cliff you couldn't see or fail to jump as far as you thought you needed to. These problems are indeed frustrating, but not too hard to overcome.
Overall, Neo can be described as a quirky platformer that's got a lot of personality. While not a revolutionary game, it does employ some original gameplay aspects that keep it from becoming just another boring platformer. If you can look past Neo's freaky cartoonish appearance and look deep down inside his little Smurfy heart, you'll be surprised just how much fun this game can be.