We had the privelage of visiting WayForward's offices today, right before the rush of E3. It was there, from the home base of fantastic games like Shantae and Lit, that we had some hands-on time with Mighty Flip Champs, WayForward's newest DSiWare title.
We sat down with WayForward's Chris Losorelli to learn more about portable puzzler, discussing how what at first appearance seems to really simple can turn out to be complex and insanely challenging. We also talk about big-lipped fish men and cats with rocket packs on their backs. Well, you'll see what we mean.
Imagine a puzzle game that has players flipping between "pages" of different mazes. The top DS screen displays one maze, and the bottom a completely different one, mirrored upside down. By hitting a button, these mazes switch places, with your on-screen character remaining in the same position, just now in a new setting.
Your job is to figure out when and where to switch places in order to clear the maze, trying your best not to be in the wrong place, as spikes and other obstacles will take you out. You'll run through chambers, climb ladders, and fall into pits, all while watching your time, doing your best to get to the end as fast as you can.
Mighty Flip Champs has a retro feel, with tight control and deceptively simple game play. Your memory will be tested with brain-busting combinations of rooms, with you working to try to see how they relate to each other. And when you do finally figure it out, you'll want to go back and try it again with a focus on time. The game transitions from a puzzler to a time-attack challenge as you master each of the almost 50 stages.
The visuals of Mighty Flip Champs are charming, with level designs that remind me of NES games. You'll play as Alta, a cute world-warping, magic-wand toting girl that cycles her way through maze pages to find a fish man. Or a frog man. We really don't know what the hell this thing is supposed to be. The funny thing is that neither does WayForward. They tell us that these characters, which serve as maze goa lpoints, aren't supposed to make any sense at all. Somehow the big-lipped fish man seems right at home with his friends, like the pig cows and the cat with the rocket pack on. You don't have to know what they're there for -- you only have to get to them.
We played several levels of Mighty Flip Champs. The early levels are predictably basic, but quickly ramp up into challenges that have you doing things like switching pages at precise times to be sure you land on platforms and not in pits. Your brain will be stretched and pulled until it's a wobbly goo as you try to plan your steps (and falls) through these mazes. When you do finally figure out the puzzle's paths and reach fish man, there's a strong sense of accomplishment, like you've overcome something that was never supposed to be able to be figured out.
Just for the hell of it, Chris fired up some of the later levels for me to try. One of the last levels had me flipping pages as Alta fell constantly, just narrowly missing spikes and disaster, only to drop into warp points that had her falling elsewhere. I finally did complete the level after some trial and error. I was so excited that I jumped out of my chair and yelled "hell yes," embarrassing myself in the process.
With few quality titles on the DSiWare store, I've been hoping for something new and original to play. Mighty Flip Champs fits that bill nicely with its challenging puzzles and crazy characters. It's a game that feels comfortably old, yet new and fresh at the same time. I can't wait to get in and flip through more puzzle stages. Be on the lookout for our full review soon.
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