I’ve played with a number of fluid based games over the years. I know I’ve owned a dozen or so of those games where you press a button to shoot air into a container filled with water in order to get rings onto little posts or shoot tiny plastic beads into baskets. Fluidity, a physics based puzzle platformer, began life shortly after the Game Developer’s Conference in 2008. The idea was pitched to Nintendo using the Wii Remote and the game was picked up for publishing. Now, with the 3DS well into its life it only seemed ilke a natural progression to move the game to the handheld. Now we have Fluidity: Spin Cycle, which will require you to use the 3DS in ways you could never have imagined.
What You Need to Know
Fluidity: Spin Cycle is a sequel to the original WiiWare title released in 2010. The game is a puzzle platformer where you play as a water sprite who must solve numerous puzzles, battle giant monsters and transform into different forms of water to save the rainbow sprites at the end of each level. You use the 3DS gyroscopic functionality combined with different buttons or the touch screen to move around the various environments you’ll see.
The Wii was known for a huge assortment of games that used the tilt functionality of the Wii Remote in different ways. The original Fluidity used it to tilt the game’s environment left and right to move the puddle of water on screen. The 3DS takes that to a whole new level. Not only are you tilting the 3DS left and right, you’ll also at various times have to tilt the 3DS completely upside down to drop onto the ceiling and move around. There are also a number of different times that you’ll have to utilize the touch screen to perform actions with your watery friend. You can push a button with two arrows pointing towards each other to have your puddle bunch up tight. (Something that the original game didn’t have) This allows you to keep all of the water molecules together and recall any that might have strayed a little too far away from the main group. It’s also useful for getting through narrow, winding corridors without having your water spread out too much. At other times you’ll see stations where you can change the form of your puddle into a block of ice or a cloud of steam. Sometimes switches need to be activated to open doors or cause the environment to change in some way. All of these buttons are easily seen and used on the 3DS touch screen. It can at times become tricky to hold on to the 3DS while trying to do this and if you prefer all of the actions are also mapped to the face buttons, or you can cause your puddle of water to jump by tapping the right shoulder button. There are even times where it’s best to use a combination of face buttons and the touch screen. For example if you need to create an explosion to unlock secret areas holding the A button to bunch up your water and then tapping the explosion icon on the touch screen to cause your water to burst apart with explosive force and break open those secret areas.
It will seem very disorienting at first and a little hard to keep things straight, but after only a few minutes you’ll wonder why more games don’t have you flipping the 3DS around in completely new ways.
Storybook Come Alive
The original Fluidity used a very cel-shaded look with sharply contrasting colors and heavily highlighted edges. Spin Cycle takes a more muted approach to the visual style of the game. Everything is done more in water colors with cooler contrasts and smoother edges to everything. Areas of the game, like the second world, which uses different nursery rhymes as the basis for levels feel very much like you’ve pulled a child’s storybook off the shelf and can tilt it around to move some spilled water. It’s a sharp contrast to the original game, but it feels more inviting. Even the fire that enemies spit out or surround themselves with is a cooler shade of purple.
The 3D functionality of the system is turned off, but it doesn’t really matter. You wouldn’t be able to appreciate this world in 3D and it would have been useless due to the way you’re moving the system around during game play.
More Linear, More Streamlined
Unlike the previous game, which was a more “open world” sort of environment the levels of Spin Cycle are much more streamlined and linear. You’ll progress from one level to another all in an effort to rescue a single rainbow sprite that is trapped. Once that puzzle has been solved you move on to the next puzzle and progress that way until the end of the game.
I had a tendency to get lost in the first game or not be completely sure of where I needed to go. That’s not the case here as all of the levels have a very definite beginning and an ending. The path to get there isn’t completely obvious (that’s part of the whole puzzle part of the game), but you never get lost or are unsure of whether or not you can get into an area. All of the objects, buttons or paths are there you just need to figure out how to properly open them up.
The puzzles themselves are very clever and will require some real brainwork towards the end of the game. Many of the puzzles will require some backtracking and use of different forms of water in order to complete. My favorite sections were the areas where you got to use the vapor cloud.
Difficulty Spikes Prove Frustrating Later
As you progress through the game and unlock more abilities for your water sprite to use the levels also get progressively more difficult. This can prove frustrating on occasion as one level that you might find very easy is immediately followed by a level that proves overly frustrating and might require numerous play through attempts to complete. This will then immediately be followed by another level that doesn’t prove too difficult. There’s no way to skip these levels or come back to them later and that will be more than a little frustrating for some players. While there aren’t many of these levels in the game they could be enough to bring down the whole experience.
I thought the first Fluidity game was a neat concept and really showed off a more clever use of the Wii Remote in a platforming setting, but it was hampered by not having complete control over your water and a not so great sense of where you needed to go at any given time. Playing through Spin Cycle was a much more fun experience as it enhanced the controls of the puddle and really took advantage of the 3DS hardware to do some things that you just couldn’t have done with a Wii Remote on your TV. Platforming games really have to do something unique to set themselves apart and the folks at Curve Studios have done a nice job of that. I was surprised at just how easy it was to manipulate this puddle of water, but also how difficult it was to keep enough control over it to get five star ratings on each level. The 3DS has some really great games available through the eShop and Fluidity: Spin Cycle is another top tier game in that environment.
Review copy of the game provided by Nintendo.
Played through the entire campaign.
Total Play Time: 13 hours