I meant to post a review of this title about a month ago, but kept putting it off due to chronic lack of interest. That sentence may lead you to believe that this is a terrible game and you know everything that you need to know, but that isn't entirely fair; I could easily believe that MFC could be a very enjoyable title for a very specific kind of gamer. Clearly, I am not that type of gamer, but C'est la vie.
DSiWare: Dr. Mario and a billion clocks
For those of you that do not own a DSi and aren't familiar with the package, the system comes with 1000 free points to spend on titles and apps in the DSiWare store. After purchasing a DSi, I decided to save my free points until some decent games became available; the initial offerings were paltry. I'm pretty sure I was with the majority on this.
However, those free points were burning a hole in my console, so to speak. In a moment of weakness, I downloaded Mario Clock for 200 points (I like making Mario jump while waiting for trains-- so sue me.) My dark appetite for software of questionable value whetted, I succumbed to temptation and downloaded Mighty Flip Champs for 800 points. It seemed more like a complete game than anything else available in the DSi store, and I was curious what this supposedly ground-breaking "puzzle-platformer" had to offer.
Platformer= JUMPY JUMPY?
First, the bad news: Alta cannot jump. Maybe it's just me, but when I think "platformer" I think of jumping from platform to platform, and I was immediately disappointed with the game for lacking this feature. Much of the gameplay concerns walking Alta off ledges and pushing the "page flip" button in the attempt to land her where she needs to go next, which is somewhat like platform jumping I suppose, but it just feels like something is missing.
Actually, considering that so much of this game involves walking off ledges on purpose, it's kind of like a dyslexic platformer, but that's neither here or there.
On another note, the anime-style artwork used for the beginning and end of level screens is competent, but generic: It's like they picked up one of those "How to Draw Manga/Anime" books and Barnes and Noble and tried to copy that derivative American-Anime style as closely as possible. Window dressing like this isn't terribly important, but personally I like to see some creativity in this department since I keep hearing that getting an artist job in the game industry is OMG SO COMPETITIVE; if so much skill is required that artists like me need not apply, at the very least I'd like to see some art in these games that actually impresses me.
The good: MFC has an original concept. Each stage is made up of several "pages" with different backgrounds that you can flip between with the push of a button. The goal is to navigate Alta to her friend, Froggy, who is located somewhere in the level, a task which requires paying attention to not only what's on the screen, but anticipating what's the on the next screen. The real strength of the game is how it encourages a kind of fourth-dimensional thinking, where your constant concern is how Alta's movement on the current screen will position her on the next screen, and the next, and so on. There are some quite satisfying "aha!" moments to be had when you finally figure out how to pass a stage that has stumped you for a while.
If you're a gamer in search of a unique puzzle experience, this title could be worth picking up-- especially because if you own a DSi, chances are you still have 1000 points on your account with no prospects of spending them on anything particularly exciting anytime soon. While I could never recommend this game at anything approaching retail price, for $8.00 (or free, depending on how you look at it), it's worth checking out for dedicated puzzle fiends.
If nothing else, hey, it's the BEST downloadable platformer featuring a purple-haired chick and an amorous frog available for the DSi so far this year. Believe it.