You have played puzzle games before. You have played platform puzzlers before, too. That does not mean you have played anything like Wayforward’s latest, Mighty Flip Champs. The developers of LIT have take a simple concept, mixed it with a standard video game genre, and given us a completely different take on it thanks to some splendid puzzle design and the dual-screen nature of the Nintendo DS.
In Mighty Flip Champs!, you play as Alta, the holder of a magical warp wand that allows her to “flip” through dimensions. She uses this power to retrieve her animal friends and to escape each trap-riddled dungeon. You can only move left and right on the D-pad as Alta, though you can also climb the mesh ladders found in many levels. If you press any of the face buttons on the DS, you will “flip” to the next dimension, which is first shown as the bottom screen in a reflected form. Essentially, you walk around on the top screen in the direction you need to go in order to be safe on the bottom screen, and then you flip. You will see when you are about to send Alta into a bed of spikes or in the middle of a solid wall–both are great ways to kill off Alta, but horrible for progressing through the level–and can adjust accordingly. You also get a helping hand from the stylus, as it allows you to mark a square on the bottom screen that also shows up (and remains) on the top screen, even after flipping. It’s a good way to remind yourself of where you need to end up while the world uproots itself around you.
June 1, 2009
The level and puzzle design starts out simple enough, with the game letting you get a feel for the flip mechanic in simple ways like walls that block your progress in screen one that are wide open paths in screen two. Then they start to add more screens to the mix, add spikes, long drops, extra walls to make travel between areas on a single screen more difficult, special blocks that break when Alta flips into them, and areas where it is necessary to flip multiple times before you hit the ground in order to avoid walls and spikes along the way. The last level in each area also takes control of the wand out of Alta’s hands, and puts it on a timer. This means you need to move fast and think fast in order to get out of the level without getting Alta smooshed in a wall or stabbed with spikes.
There are over 40 levels in Mighty Flip Champs!, which, given the difficulty of the title as you progress, is a lot of time you are going to spend on the title attempting to beat it. Throw in the fact that each level is graded based on the amount of time it took you to complete it and the number of flips you used, and you have 40+ reasons to replay the game. The puzzles are challenging, but they are not impossible; the feeling you get from completing one–and completing it well–is very satisfying, and well worth the effort you will put into it. You can’t ask for much more than that out of a puzzler, or any game for that matter.
Graphically, Mighty Flip Champs! is simple, but polished. The characters in-game are small, but they have a number of animations they go through as they move or just sit there in place. The art shown in between levels is well done, with the characters taking on an anime style that’s pretty pleasing–the cat has a jetpack, which is all you needed to sell me on it.There’s a neat effect on the reflected bottom screen, as it looks like it’s shimmering–a nice touch, considering it’s supposed to be another dimension at that time.
The sound in the game is also excellent, with a catchy tune for each world of rooms. The music sounds very old-school, and is the kind of catchy stuff that sticks in your head even when you aren’t playing–the song for the first world is stuck in my head as I write this section. It certainly adds to the game experience (you have to love a quality soundtrack in a puzzle game) and is still fun to listen to, even after you failed to pass a level for the Nth time because you can’t remember to flip on time.
For a game with this much replay value and polish, I would have no problem paying standard DS retail prices. Thankfully, we do not have to, as this is a DSiWare exclusive release that costs all of $8, or 800 Nintendo Points. This is a great value for $8, as it is a game you will spend a lot of time trying to complete and master–since the stages can be short as well, it’s also a great title for quick pocket gaming, as you can pull out the DSi and give it a whirl for a few minutes before you need to stop.
Wayforward took a traditional genre in puzzle platformers and added an innovative mechanic to it with the dual-screen flipping, and ended up coming out with Mighty Flip Champs!, a special game that all DSi owners should try their hand at. The title is challenging, lengthy, well polished, and a total blast to play, even when it starts to fry your brain. Highly recommended.
Mighty Flip Champs! is available exclusively for the Nintendo DSi through the DSiWare store. It is priced at 800 Nintendo Points.