Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Opposites Do Attract: + | –

Monday, July 9th, 2007 by Jesse in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 78 votes, average: 2.83 out of 5)

I have always been astonished by magnetism. To me, there’s nothing like that awed amusement you get when two blocks of metal eerily push each other apart, and sprinkling iron filings near magnets just to see the field lines never loses its charm. So you can imagine how intrigued I was by an arcade-style action puzzle game centered around the theme of magnets.

Attractive Concept

Enter +|- (pronounced plus or minus), in which the player controls a standard bar magnet that can rotate or reverse polarity. The premise is fairly simple: eliminate oppositely-charged particles by causing them to touch. The particles appear randomly and swarm around the magnetic field, gradually drawing closer until they stick to the circle which encloses your magnet avatar. The particles build up into heaps, and if they grow too tall, it’s game over.

Playing in hard mode introduces a new element that drastically affects the game. When you fail to score points in a certain amount of time, a neutral particle is spawned as a sort of punishment. Neutral particles cannot be interacted with, so once they’re stopped, they’re there permanently, unless you make use of the screen-clearing special attack.

Repulsive Implementation

The problem with +|- is that there is little sense of control and little room for strategy. It’s not frustrating per se, just overwhelming. At first, I thought the pace of the game was too slow — almost boring. Very suddenly, I found myself at the mercy of an onslaught of particles: building up piles on opposite sides, switching the polarity, and hoping for the best. The action in +|- is all-or-nothing, and simply seems too luck-based.

The vector field your magnet generates is visible, but it really doesn’t help: we just don’t have the instinct built up to easily understand magnetism. Vector fields are not something most people deal with in the everyday world, and as a consequence, the physical nature of +|- does not lend itself to intuition as readily as other games. This alone isn’t a bad thing; in fact, I usually think it’s fascinating when a game requires me to adapt to a strange new world. In this world, though, the element of control feels weak: it sometimes seems like I might as well be spinning the magnet around randomly for all the good it’s doing. (Of course, I concede the possibility that I’m just really bad at the game.)

+|- Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(+|- Game Screenshots)

Neutral Rating

+|- isn’t unplayable, but it could certainly use a little polish — a wishy-washy term, I know, but it’s difficult to pin down what +|- lacks. Perhaps something as simple as slowing the motion of the particles could allow for more thinking and less reflexive gameplay, or perhaps a series of levels could be added featuring multiple magnets in different configurations. It feels like +|- could be so much more than it is. For the time it took rale and co. to develop, +|- is something to be proud of, but you probably won’t see it becoming a smash hit anytime soon.

Download +|- (4.05 MB)

[via the Experimental Gameplay Project]

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5 Responses to 'Opposites Do Attract: + | –'

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  1. Relys said,

    on July 9th, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    I totally agree. I love watching things attract and collide.

    Great game!

  2. Dom said,

    on July 10th, 2007 at 1:37 am

    Video does not load. Anybody else has this problem? Other videos on the site are ok for me.

  3. extremejon said,

    on July 11th, 2007 at 11:56 am

    I played this game already. Can’t say I liked it.

  4. AquaGeneral said,

    on July 13th, 2007 at 3:55 am

    Sorry for being offtopic but my name is also Jesse. I know atleast 5 other Jesse’s from the Internet and there 4 in my school.

  5. on July 13th, 2007 at 6:56 am

    This game was featured in “101 free games for Windows” in Games For Windows.

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