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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: Mighty Milky Way (DSiWare)

Mighty Milky Way is the latest DSiWare release from WayForward. Considering the company’s track record and its ability to push out phenomenal titles like Shantae, you would expect Milky Way to continue that trend. With a unique concept that involves guiding an alien across an array of planetoids, how could you go wrong?

WayForward had two DSiWare hits. This is not a third

Although Mighty Milky Way is the spiritual successor to 2009’s break-out puzzle game, Mighty Flip Champs, the two are unmistakably different in terms of gameplay. The basic premise is to get Luna, the game’s alien heroine, to the goal in each level as she seeks to accomplish a secret mission. This is done by creating and destroying planets via the touch screen, as well as by making Luna traverse them. The longer you hold down the stylus, the larger the newborn planet will be. It costs planet candies to create planets though, so you have to make sure you use them correctly. The larger the planet is, the stronger its gravitational pull will be. Luna herself is a bit unwieldy to control since she travels around a sphere in a pre-determined direction and you only get to manipulate her pacing, but it becomes much easier with time.

The process of figuring out a solution to the puzzle posed by the top screen takes mere seconds. Where the real challenge lies is in manipulating Luna around the stages. While flying from planet to planet, your accuracy needs to be pin-point, which truly tends to raze the fun of the game. You can stop and try to calculate perfectly what angle Luna will fly, but you can’t always get a clear picture of the stage in order to accurately judge whether she will skim against an electric fence on her way to the next planetoid. Should you mess up once in the stage, you’ll have to repeat it from scratch.

Floating around da moons

While that isn’t much of an annoyance the first few times, it quickly becomes tedious and makes you want to put the game down. You are fully capable of solving the level’s puzzle, yet maneuvering Luna is more trouble than it needs to be. The ability to zoom out is helpful, but only to a small degree. Given the relatively slow-paced nature of most levels (particularly the ones that involve collecting planet candies), it just makes repeating them over seem like an absolute chore. In theory, the game should be a few hours long, but much of the extra time is due to unnecessary deaths. 

As the game progresses, new obstacles and gameplay elements are introduced, but the goals are largely the same. At the end of each world, you’ll face off against a boss, which is really more of a speed mission than a fight. These bouts don’t do much to change up the pacing, but they are certainly welcome. 

Musically, this title is very upbeat and joyous. While some would find this off-putting, it seems to elevate the experience, and at times it even exhibits an air of retro flair. The same can be said for the graphics of the game. While they won’t push the DSi to its limitations, they are attractive and continue with the new, yet retro-esque theme. Also worth noting is Luna's French dialog that can be heard throughout the game at various points. It's nice to see some vocal work in DS titles, no matter how insignificant the amount.

Mighty Milky Way is definitely not WayForward’s finest work, but even so, it is far from being a disappointment. At 800 Nintendo Points, there are far better (and cheaper) puzzle games on the service such as the game’s prequel, the Art Style series, or Animal Puzzle Adventure. Your money doesn’t buy you much in terms of replay value either, but it lasts long enough to warrant a purchase. Milky Way offers interesting gameplay mechanics and an appealing style, but only if you’re willing to contend with varying levels of frustration.

- Clark A

Review: Mighty Milky Way (DSiWare)
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