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FWD Progress: Small Games and Big Fun

Aura-Aura Climber LogoWe’re still in the process of getting caught up after my extended sick leave due to a nasty bout of pneumonia. Slowly but surely, Nathalie and I are checking things off of our respective to-do lists. She has  reviews on the go for Chime on Xbox LIVE Arcade and a retro-styled iPhone/iPod Touch platformer called Aeropack.

I’m putting the finishing touches on my overview of the CogniFit Personal Coach software and trying to get through Manic Monkey Mayhem. An unfortunate delay in my Heavy Rain order has given me the chance to spend some time with some recent DSiWare and take down some notes on Aura-Aura Climber, Spotto! and Flipper, which I will briefly review today. Read More…

Flipper is a Buggy and Broken GameFlipper is a rather disappointing puzzle-platformer effort that lacks any real challenge and is quite frankly broken. You play as a boy who’s pet fish Flipper gets abducted by ghosts. In this game, you must repeatedly save Flipper by traversing obstacles and manipulating the environment across 20 levels.

You will pick up items that allow you to destroy or rebuild areas of the levels with the caveat that you can only hold one item type at a time. You are awarded a bonus for clearing levels without using all of the items, which in most cases is far too easy.

Each level has a star to collect and collecting all the stars in a world unlocks a star level that is no different than any other level. There are also bonus levels that grant you an unlimited inventory of items, which are completely pointless and not fun.

Flipper has to be the worst-looking “pixel art” game I have seen. It’s whole style is bland and chunky and the HUD elements look like they were taken from the cheapest iPhone app. Flipper runs at 10-15 fps like an old Java cell phone game and lacks any smooth transition between camera angles.

The game engine is a buggy mess and I was able to brute force glitch my way through several levels using less items than the developer intended I’m sure. It was too short and far too easy and I’ll probably never play Flipper again. In my opinion it was a waste of $5 and two hours.

Spotto! From Intelligent Systems is simple, physics-based fun. Here you are given a set number of bombs with which to destroy wide-mouthed ghosts. You play this game by adjusting the trajectory of your bombs with a small dial and tossing them using a button.

As you progress, you will encounter obstacles that can both help or hinder as well as some tricky ghost placements. You can also aquite super bombs that trigger a chain reaction.

The game’s story mode features 30 stages and there is a boss encounter every ten. Spotto! isn’t especially challenging, but it is engaging thanks to its addictive gameplay and charming looks. There is an unlockable Challenge mode that acts as an endurance test, making Spotto! a great value at $2.

Aura-Aura Climbber is a Great Way to Spend $2Aura-Aura Climber is, in my opinion, the best possible way you can spend $2 on a game in February of 2010. This challenging platformer combines many familiar elements into an attractive, high score-based package.

You play as a small star who has fallen to Earth and wishes to return to his rightful place in the universe. The basic idea is to guide Aura-Aura to the top of each stage before time runs out.  Aura-Aura has the ability to jump and reach out with an arm to cling to grapple points. It is somewhat a hybrid of the pointer-controlled sections of Super Mario Galaxy and DK: King of Swing.

As you climb through levels, you can collect bonus scoring items and items that increase the reach of your arm. Increased reach allows you to get to the far reaches of each stage in order to achieve high scores. This game rewards a balance of exploration, precision and speed and gets markedly tougher as you go.

As you play through the ten Time Attack stages, you will encounter laser walls and traps, several enemy types and different grapple points. Some grapple points need to be triggered in a certain order, while others will make you hover or act as a rocket.

There are 30 in-game achievements to shoot for and there is also an endless mode that tasks you with collecting items to prevent your time from running out. The graphics and music are top-notch and of the quality you would expect from a title published by Nintendo. I highly recommend Aura-Aura Climber to anyone that likes 2D platformers at all. The only thing missing is online leaderboards, but for $2 I can’t complain too much.

Now that I’ve got those impressions out of my system, I can get some real work done.  Once again, thanks for reading and don’t be afraid to click an ad for us on your way out.