A few exceptions aside, DSiWare hasn’t quite delivered that much of a bang with its first slate of games and apps released over the several months since the service launched. Given the moderately high level of creativity found amongst the numerous (non-shovelware) games now populating WiiWare, there’s still plenty of time and potential for Nintendo’s handheld version to fully grow into its britches. With a slew of more substantive games on the way, WayForward Technologies is leading the charge with Mighty Flip Champs!, a brainy platforming puzzler that’ll throw you for a good loop.
At 800 Wii Points, Mighty Flip Champs! not only sports a more robust price tag than most of its other DSiWare brethren, it actually delivers a challenging and enjoyable play experience of moderate length that more closely resembles a full-blown DS game release. Beyond the substantive amount of play value the game offers on a first run-through for your hard-earned dollars, its flip-flopping levels merit further exploration to fully grasp the excellently warped depravity contained therein. The way it forces you to stretch your noggin in new ways to successfully tackle its dimension flipping puzzles may also produce a peculiar burning smell – and it won’t be coming from your DSi.
With a magic wand in tow, you play as a sassy anime-gal named Alta who can warp through a cycling array of dimensional chambers to reach a cornucopia of nooks and crannies. This is primarily what allows her to navigate her way through the game’s many puzzle levels. Initially, the gameplay looks like a typical platformer, until the realization sets in that you can tap a single button to cycle through and swap out several different screens to alter the landscape of the level design to your advantage. While the real world action in any given level resides on the top DS screen, the touch screen shows the next dimensional layout that can be flipped into existence. A mirror image of your location also shows up on the bottom screen to help you track where you’ll wind up if and when you flip. It’s a very unusual and cool gameplay mechanic the development team gradually builds on as the levels progress.
The main goal in each level is to help Alta rescue any straggling friends that are lying around – including a jet-pack wearing kitty and a pig-cow – and safely reach the friendly fish man who’s waiting for you in some typically hard-to-reach location on the screen. Since your heroine can only walk left and right or climb around on mesh ladders (all handled with the D-Pad), her magic wand is a crucial tool for getting around. Tapping any of the four main buttons triggers her lone special ability. Flipping between screens to make new platforms appear, open pathways to get to where you need to go, and round up all the necessary critters to progress takes some getting used to. However, just as flipping the screen can help you by creating new perches to traverse tough terrain, it can alternately lead you to a quick demise. Accidentally warping yourself into a solid object will reset the level, making all of your hard work all for naught.
Early on, the level designs ease you into the unusual gameplay, which admittedly is a little tough to get a handle on at first. Some levels only have one or two additional screens to flip through, while others have many. You can tap the touch screen at any time to leave the Mark of Champions to mark a specific spot you need to reach. This can be extremely helpful when flipping through half a dozen screens. Making the situation more intense, each level is timed and you’re assigned a letter grade based-on how quickly you proceed through each level and how many flips your use. Trying to blow through some of the tougher levels at high speed will only result in frustration. We found focusing on trying to solve the puzzles themselves to be more enjoyable and rewarding, but 100 percent completion buffs will dig going back to try for a better score.
By the time you’ll get into the swing of things, the puzzle challenges start to ramp up in difficulty, becoming excruciatingly tough at moments. In some cases, you’re forced to flip screens in mid-fall several times in order to catch yourself in a tiny little space surrounded by solid mass. Other times you’ll have to flip into special blocks to break them and hit colored switches to make other blocks appear and disappear. Finding the correct sequences of paths to take can be a challenge on its own. Also, at the end of each tier of levels, Alta wand goes haywire, flipping between several screens at regular timed intervals. Navigating the level by being in the right place at the right time when the flip occurs is another tricky and fun way to play.
Catchy music and a cute visual style round out the game’s upbeat presentation. The characters are pretty small on the screen, but they’re loaded with subtle movements and nice animation details. The background of each set of levels has a distinct look (and scrolling movement in some cases) and there’s a cool shimmery visual effect applied to the phantom levels on the lower screen. Mighty Flip Champs! has a great level of polish, both in concept and in presentation, and it’s this kind of attention to detail and style we’d like to see given to more DSiWare releases in the future.
Mighty Flip Champs! is super fun and extremely challenging. It’s certainly one of the first must-have games available for DSiWare, and there’s a lot gameplay to explore. A lot of thought and mental anguish clearly went into every aspect of the game’s design. The puzzles are extremely clever, even if they ramp up in difficulty rather quickly. You’d do well to give this one a spin. For eight bucks, you can’t go wrong with this unusual puzzler.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.2 Graphics
Colorful characters and levels loaded with personality. 4.0 Control
Easy to control flip mechanic is challenging to master. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Catchy tunes and neat sound effects. 4.2
Though hard at times, players who like a brainy challenge will find this one a ton of fun.
4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.