While this magnet-physics game is fairly attractive, a few elements also repel.
The premise of An Alien with a Magnet is fairly simple: get Alien back to his home planet by using the only tool still working on his spaceship, a magnet. Doing so is a matter of using said magnet to rotate around various planetoids before slingshotting yourself to the next one. Repeat as necessary.
However, doing so is actually trickier than it sounds. The game simply requires you to touch anywhere on the screen to activate the magnet, releasing as necessary. Determining the exact angle at which you’ll fly off can make things a bit trickier, though, as you try to collect the numerous baubles and items floating in the vastness of space.
Collecting those items is kind of the thing, too, as doing so raises your score, but also dictates your path, which can take you off the direct trail to the end of the stage. This isn’t so bad in itself, but at the same time, should you happen to crash into a meteor or planetoid, you have to start all over again from the very beginning. It’s enough to take the wind out of one’s sails, as Alien’s speed manages to slow enough to have a decent sense of control, yet never gets fast enough to regain ground you’ve already covered.
There are also some stages which have alternate exits which lead to bonus stages. These are fun, and have you bouncing around trying to collect as many items as you can before exiting. The aforementioned determining of angles makes it tricky, though, and unfortunately, it can be a little dull if you should miss; that is, you’re more likely to bounce back in the exact same direction you came from, rather than a different angle, which makes bouncing around feel a bit tamer than one might expect.
Oh, and that repetition mentioned from restarting a level? If you choose the alternate exit, then you have to replay the course over again in order to proceed. Sure, this is a thing you do in some games like Mario, but such games afford you a certain level of freedom that you won’t find here, and it suffers a bit as a result. Simply put: doing the same thing in different scenarios produces different outcomes, and they’re not all going to be good.
Despite this, An Alien with a Magnet is still enjoyable and provides a nice level of challenge across its story and bonus modes, though one might not be inclined to marathon it. But in shorter spurts, or if you manage to get on a roll, it satisfies.