It’s games like this that made me love Sega’s Dreamcast system. The sheer amount of testicular fortitude it must have taken to pitch this idea to Genki and getting them to actually approve it deserves a badge. Where else can you play as a robotic baby with a magnetic head that you use in a cookie-cutter 3D platforming game? My point exactly.
Welcome to the world of Super Magnetic Neo, a quirky Japanese game that was luckily ported over to North American shores on June 14, 2000. In quite possibly the worst yet weirdest story ever written in gaming, Pao Pao Park has been taken over by the Pinki Gang. “The Professor” (yes, that is his given name) retaliates by letting loose NEO! No, not from the Matrix. We could only be so lucky.
Neo is a robotic baby with a magnetic head that has north and south fields, which he can use to attract or repel objects within the Pao Pao universe. Certain areas of the game require you to repel floor-ridden magnets to boost your jump and then quickly attract to a magnetic zip line in order to progress. Outside of this unique feature, the game is pretty much any standard platform game where you collect useless crap that all look alike, repeat a few times and then fight a boss. So yeah, if Crash Bandicoot had swallowed a giant magnet and looked like the lovechild of a Smurf and Baby Stewie, it would have been SMN.
God bless VMU creativity as well! Using the VMU acts as a radar of sorts that shows the location of a hidden item found within each of the 20 levels. Hunting and sniffing out these sweet pieces of love yields—what else?—furniture for your house! See, your house is located in a HUB type area in which you use the magnetic zip lines to go to-and-from the different worlds within the game. In the center is your comfortable abode which SHOULD be chock full of useless goodies found using the VMU radar-ish… thing.
There really isn’t much else one can say about SMN that couldn’t be said about 1500 other 3D platforming games, but goddammit NONE OF THEM HAD MAGNETIC HEADS! Sometimes the controls can get a bit hectic when you are trying to attract and repel to a million different things in the bonus levels, but otherwise they should come as second nature.
Overall, if you manage to find this “attractive” (yeah, I suck) game on eBay or buried under 400 copies of NBA2K at the local game store, give it a go. If you are a hardcore platforming nut you’ll enjoy yourself, but if you love games that really make no sense and kind of make you wonder what the hell the person was on when they scripted it… you might enjoy this one a little more. Hell, this may be your favorite game of all time next to Katamari Damacy or Space Channel 5.