WayForward is slowly but surely becoming one of my favorite developers. I adored A Boy and His Blob on Wii and was a huge fan of Shantae: Risky's Revenge, my first DSiWare download. When I was looking for a "new" title to play on my 3DS, I decided to choose another WayForward title: Mighty Flip Champs!
Typical game screen, with Alta flipping the screens.
Champs! is a hybrid between a puzzle game and a platformer, and it works well as both. You control Alta, and the object is to reach Fishman to end each level. Alta moves with the directional pad. Left and right move her, well, left and right. She can climb ladders by pressing up or down as well. Undoubtedly, Alta won't be able to get around some of the obstacles on a given screen. That's where the flipping mechanic comes into play.
If you look at the first screen grab, you'll see that there are always two screens displayed. The current screen is always on top, and a semi-mirror is on the bottom screen. You can use any of the face buttons (A, B, X or Y) to shift what's happening on the bottom screen to the top. This is the best way to get Alta around pesky obstacles, get buttons pressed, or to reach friends, sometimes a requirement for Fishman to transport Alta to the next stage. Be careful when flipping though! If you flip Alta into a wall or onto spikes, you fail and have to restart the level from the beginning.
The faster you go, the better grade you get. The highest you can achieve is an S, and the time to beat to earn an S is always listed on the pause screen. If you manage to get 41 S scores, you get a special title screen in Champs! and a little surprise in Risky's Revenge. It's also worth noting that some stages will not allow Alta to flip them manually. They will flip on their own at set intervals.
An example of how the game works.
Let's talk about the HUD here. It's pretty basic. On the left is always a fraction. For example, 1/2. The number on the left is the screen that Alta is currently on. The number on the right is how many total screens are in the current stage. That number varies from two up to eight (and even more on the final level). In the middle is your timer, and on the right is the total number of flips that you've made. It's not important to your ranking, but it's fun to try and beat that number if possible.
The controls are solid. The game's graphics are good. Sprite art at its finest, and it all animates fluidly without any slowdown. The audio is also surprisingly good given DSiWare's size constraints.
Champs!'s only major problem is the variety of gameplay. The flip mechanic is brilliant, but...there's really not much else there. Sure, they add buttons and friends to rescue, but there aren't any enemies to fight, just obstacles to avoid. Every level is always "get Alta to Fishman as fast as you can".
In the end, Mighty Flip Champs! is a solid effort by WayForward. It's a successful attempt at something different, and it will challenge you. Getting from beginning to end took me around six hours (though some of that was getting S ranks), and getting all S scores will take even longer. If you're looking for a unique title, look no further than this 800 point gem.
I liked this game, but I didn't really love it. There are technically platforms, but... you can't jump! And you don't even have a bionic prosthetic to compensate! Still, the puzzles are pretty good, if a bit formulaic.
Which was my beef with the game. It stuck to the formula a little too much. I'd like to see them explore more along with the flipping. Maybe they'll make a sequel and really expand on it. I enjoyed it, but it could have been better.
Nice review! This game looks and sounds really interesting, I haven't played much of WayForward's games (though I'm about to crack open A Boy and His Blob for Wii) but of course I've heard good things about their titles.
Just from watching the video, the constant flipping of the screens look a bit confusing, but it sounds like the concept becomes second nature as you progress. It's too bad about the redundancy of the level designs.
And that's pretty cool that unlocking the high achievement in this game affects Risky's Revenge. I hope more developers try out these different cross-over game bonuses. (I can't remember if this was realized or not in the two WiiWare LostWinds games where you collect all the idols)?