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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Crave

Ups: Innovative gameplay; great graphics; well-done levels. 

Downs:  A little short; some minor sound issues.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast


Pao Pao Amusement Park will never be the same! The professor has invented a new robot named Neo to defend the park against Pinki and her gang of evil-doers. Pinki is a two year old crime boss with a binky, but she’s met her match when it comes to the power of Super Magnetic Neo. Neo ‘s head is a huge magnet which can reverse magnetic polarities to attract and repel him through all the mayhem that Pinki and her band can hand out.

The amusement park is comprised of four worlds, the Jungle world, the Ancient world, the Cowboy world, and the Future world. Each world has four stages and one boss/bonus stage, and each has to be completed before you move on to the next. While you're busy fighting evil flora and fauna, you can pick up treasure, hidden items, medals, and bonus tickets. Each world is connected by a magnetic rollercoaster through space with a small stop at Neo’s apartment to round things out. In addition to the main game, there are 100 challenge levels to practice flexing your magnetic muscles.

The designers of this game did a great job on the graphics in the major worlds. We are pulled into an animated environment that is smooth, colorful, and great fun in the eye candy department. I was a wee bit disappointed that there weren’t more cinema screens to enjoy, and the ones that were there didn’t seem to have had much time put into them. The challenge levels were basically magnetic mazes hanging in black space, so they didn’t really pack much punch, but the rest of the game was pretty fabulous to look at.

The music and sound effects were solid for the most part. The only problem came during regular game play when the designers used background sounds for certain elements of the landscape, most noticeably with the waterfalls and rivers. There would be a slight pause in the other sound effects and then the background sound effect full blast for several feet before it totally disappeared again. Smooth transitions just weren’t this game's aural strong point, but there were lots of fun effects for hero and bad guys alike and a good musical score, so I wasn’t too unhappy in the sound department.

The movement for Neo is smooth and easy to master, even for younger children. After a quick explanation of north and south polarities and magnetics (which is a great learning opportunity, by the way), most kids are good to go. And the designers made it easy by color coding the poles in pink and blue to correspond to the control pads. The rest is just practice.

The camera is a hovering third person above and behind Neo. For the most part the camera went unnoticed, but there were times when it would have been really helpful to be able to switch my view, and there were unused control functions, so it apparently wasn’t a space problem. What cut down on the need for camera angles and also a little bit of possible fun was the fact that Neo’s course was pretty much set up for him and there wasn’t much room for exploration.

A related issue is the fact that this game didn’t end up being very lengthy or its world very large compared to some of the other games we’ve been seeing lately. I guess I’m getting spoiled by games like Sonic and Mario where there are huge landscapes and dozens of alternative possibilities for exploration and action. It didn’t take me long to work my way through the game, and even though there are bonus and challenge levels, it still didn’t have the longevity I’ve come to expect. Granted, it will take most younger children longer to work their way through, but don’t expect this to be a long haul like Sonic.

Despite some of the problems this game has, I did enjoy playing it and found that most kids are pretty enthralled with it as well. Although I might complain about what more could have been done in this game, I have to say that what it does do is give us a fresh game scenario and a brand new way of playing that has lots of great possibilities. It also provides a springboard for learning and imparts more to the younger players than just sore thumbs and glazed eyes.

The Dreamcast is still building its stable of kids games, but it looks like their going to have quite a collection if their new games are any indication. Super Magnetic Neo is a great game to pick up for a change of pace and although it may not keep you going until next Christmas, it will give you hours upon hours of entertainment.

--Monica Hafer