Released across Europe in November 2009, Mighty Flip Champs was welcome addition to the dare-we-say; neglected service Nintendo are offering. Still in its infancy, the DSi Shop lacks the support and titles in which other download services are triumphing with. As Apple, Valve, Sony and Microsoft have all proved that digital downloads are too good to turn down, Nintendo still remains rather unequipped for the future.
Our belief is it will change with the arrival of the Nintendo 3DS, however for now the service remains rather unheard of. The issue as a whole is something that would be best suited for another article, however the reason we feel it is relevant is due to the two killer titles for the DSi remain region locked and exclusive to North America at the time of writing. The first is Cave Story, every retro gamers favourite freeware title. The second is non other than a gem in the making by the developers of Mighty Flip Champs, a game known as Shantae: Risky's Revenge a sequel to the Game Boy Color classic.
I can guarantee that we will look into Shantae and what other titles Europeans are currently missing out on shortly, but for now let's focus on WayForward's gem, Mighty Flip Champs and not get distracted by what's missing.
Flippin' good time
Perfection within their games is something we have begun to expect from WayForward Technologies. Obvious fans of retro games with their recent releases of A Boy and his Blob (Nintendo Wii), Contra 4 (Nintendo DS) and the acclaimed Game Boy Color classic Shantae, WayForward Technologies really know what direction to push their retro themed games while perfecting their controls and gameplay. Unsurprisingly, Mighty Flip Champs does not disappoint.
Having recently entered the wonderful neglected world of DSiWare, Mighty Flip Champs was my first purchase from the shop and one I have been very pleased with. Priced up at the premium 800 points, its without a doubt a worthy purchase.
Simplicity is the key here. As many timeless classic puzzle games have proven, all you need is a simple mechanism with an addictive pattern to keep the player hooked. Look at Tetris, if you break it down into it's simplest form, you're dropping blocks down a chute. Puzzle Bobble, firing bubbles diagonally upwards. But where the excitement comes is mastering the basics and working them to your advantage. Mighty Flip Champs is no stranger to this technique, as it works you into what seems like an easy game and has you scratching your head in no time.
With nothing but the ability to move left and right, climb ladders and drop off ledges, Alta must find her way around the play area to reach the fishman. At first glance, you will notice that the fishman is impossible to reach without jumping, something Alta cannot do. The way to tackle this puzzle lies in the lower screen in the Nintendo DS.
A near perfect reflection of the current screen will be mirrored on the lower screen, one that mimics every move of Alta but finds her placed in a different layout to the current one. Alta must move into a safe and advantageous position before 'flipping' the varied lower screen into play and replacing the current one. With some levels spanning a large array of play areas, Alta will find herself needing to move all over the play area while switching screens to find the correct path towards the fishman. But should you flip a new play area and crush Alta under scenery, it's game over.
With the first few levels starting out with just two screens to flip between, the later levels have Alta and yourself scratching your head trying to memorise the last few screens in hope that you're advancing the right way. Once a variation of warps and switches get thrown into the mix, puzzle headaches occur as you begin to fight your way through the enjoyable challenges ahead.
The difficulty curve has been carefully crafted to keep you puzzled yet addicted to make you press on to finish 'one more level' from the wealth of stages present. Even the perfectionists and challenge hunters will be well occupied, as many of the levels hold a small cat awaiting an optional rescue on a hidden path. A path that is often filled with risk, but a hefty reward. Should you manage to finish the stage quickly and pick up the cat where possible, you will be rewarded with the pleasing S Rank. Take too long and you'll start to see letter ranks you'd rather not.
As we've praised the gameplay mechanics, it should be noted that the presentation of the game as a whole gives it a retro feel while maintaining its modern roots. The pixelated platformer graphics combined with the chiptune music and sound effects will have any retro gamer feeling right at home. While we think the title screen and menu is the only place lacking the retro charm, it's far from worthy of a point to bring this review down.
So should you have a Nintendo DSi anywhere near, you must get onto the DSi shop and sample this retro puzzler for yourself. The 800 points will be well spent as it is without a doubt a clear contender for the 'Best DSiWare Game' even with a year behind it. Hopefully this worthy title and DSiWare throne can be re-evaluated once Shantae and Cave Story arrive, but until then enjoy Mighty Flip Champs as there is very little that can match up to it's depth, puzzle and appeal.
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