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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Mighty Flip Champs DX (PS Minis)

What many critics believe to be the greatest title on DSiWare is no longer an exclusive, recently making its way over to Sony’s PSP Minis service. It’s not a perfect port or even that much of an improvement, but there’s a reason why Mighty Flip Champs was so loved to begin with – WayForward’s complete mastery of retro-style games. If that’s what you’re looking for, Mighty Flip Champs DX delivers it in spades.

The gameplay is inherently straightforward in concept, but is quite challenging in practise. Unlike other platforming heroes, Alta cannot jump or run, only climb walls and move left or right. She instead relies heavily on her unique ability to switch through several screens at will. An image showcases the effects that flipping will have on Alta. Should you flip screens at a poor point in time, our heroine will be impaled by spikes or get stuck in bricks. Successful flipping will lead you to one of several animals. The amount of animals and screens to traverse ultimately varies upon the stage, but meeting them all in the correct order will allow you to complete the level. It’s a glorified puzzle game, but the illusion of an action adventure is apparent throughout.  All of the levels are taken from the original with no new ones added, so owners of the DSi game don’t have much of an incentive to pick this up.

Contrary to what you might initially think, the gameplay transition from the DSiWare game is utterly flawless. Instead of spreading the images across two separate screens, two smaller screens are shown on the PSP/PS3. It works just as well as the original; if not slightly better, because it’s easier to compare screens when they’re side by side rather than vertical. Size isn’t an issue due to the PSP’s longer screen (and obviously the TV’s size).

Featuring Game Boy Advance-like eye candy, these sprites are definitely worth taking a gander at. The PS3 edition is surprisingly clean, without any of the pixelated sloppiness that you might expect from the big screen.  All the original sprites have been left intact, but the visuals outside of gameplay have undergone something of a change. Menus have been altered slightly to look more refined and each level begins with artwork of Alta and her pals. It’s little more than a loading screen, but I’ll honestly take any excuse to see the finely drawn art.

It would be rather criminal to avoid mentioning the game’s retro soundtrack. The chiptune soundtrack consists of NES-like melodies, with a taste of modern thrown in for good measure. There’s only one song per world (eight stages), but they’re varied enough that they don’t get repetitive easily.

The whole experience isn’t without niggles, though. The load times when retrying a stage are regrettably rather lengthy, so some of the tougher stages will inflate the time you invest simply because of the slowness. There’s also not much incentive to obtain an S-rank in all of the stages. Your ranking in a level is based off of time, so once you figure out a solution it’s just a matter of doing it hastily. Thankfully, 40+ levels will be sufficient enough that people who want to ignore the ranking system can still enjoy plenty of content. After all, the more puzzling levels are affairs that can last several minutes or even hours if you get stuck.

Mighty Flip Champs DX is just as good as the original, only in slightly different ways (the cheaper price being chief among them). If you’ve played the original, there’s no need to bother with this since it has the same levels, but all PSP/PS3 purists should flip right on over to the PSN store.

-Clark A.

Review: Mighty Flip Champs DX (PS Minis)
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