After beating two platformers in a row (Strider 2 and Super Meat Boy) and with two more platformers next in my Steam backlog (Strider 2014 and They Bleed Pixels), I decided that I’d take a break from platformers for a bit by playing…
…another platformer. I’m really great at researching games, by the way.
Anyway, this is a 2D physics-based collectathon platformer. Basically, the plot is that ink gets spilled on a picture book, and you have to clean it up. Tilting the Wiimote will tilt the table the book is on, which will cause a pool of non-sentient water (the protagonist) to move in that direction. Shaking the Wiimote will make the water “jump” (this can sometimes be done while the water is in midair; perhaps that’s a glitch?), and pressing the 2 button will make the water interact with a nearby object. You can also push the A button to zoom the game out a bit and view the panel that the water is currently in (pun not intended) as well as a bit of the adjacent panels, while pushing the minus button will bring up a less detailed stage map (but you can look at all the panels with it). If a small part of the water gets separated from the main body for too long, it will evaporate. The goal is to explore each stage to collect Rainbow Drops (similar to the Shine Sprites in Super Mario Sunshine or the Courage Emblems in Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg), and to get to them, you’ll usually have to do something simple, like bring fish to a fishbowl, bring rubber ducks to a bathtub, or play a really boring game of penny pusher (which doesn’t even involve the game’s normal player physics; it’s its own thing). Collecting a rainbow drop will make the nearby ink splotches vanish in a puff of smoke, and just like with most collectathons, the victory jingle will play and you’ll be sent back to the stage select, even though there’s usually more of those items in the stage. The game does have little books within the book that act as shortcuts to other parts of the book, so you won’t have to play the same parts of levels too much. There are also optional jigsaw pieces that, when enough are collected, will unlock high-score mini games.
As you progress, you’ll get different powers for your pool of water, including being able to change into ice or a cloud. For example, the first power you get is to ball the water up, which makes platforming a bit easier (though it isn’t uncommon to be slightly off and lose some of your water as a result), and if you stay balled up for long enough, the water will burst outward. After you get the ice transformation, the next power-up you get lets the ice stick to a surface for a short period of time, and this can be used to climb walls or to prevent the ice from slipping off a horizontally-moving platform (harder than it sounds without the power). Similar to other collectathons, there are some collectibles that you can’t get without certain powers, meaning you’d have to progress to the next stage, get the power, then go back to the previous stage to get the collectibles.
Also, there are no bosses in this game: after enough Rainbow Drops are collected, you can enter the ink’s lair for the current stage, and the goal is to destroy the ink generator at the end of their lair (by collecting the Rainbow Drop right next to it). To get the Rainbow Drops in the ink’s lairs, you have to defeat all of the ink monsters in the area to open the way forward (ink monsters exist outside the lairs as well, but those enemies can be avoided). There are a grand total of two enemy types in the game: slugs (will light themselves on fire for short periods and are invulnerable while engulfed in flames) and hornets (fly around and shoot projectiles). All other hazards are stationary and can only be avoided. There’s not even a final boss; the last ink lair before the staff roll has you doing the same thing as the other ink lairs. Also, there will be enemies chilling in the background of the ink lairs, which is a neat detail (this is how you see the hornets for the first time, and you even get to see an unused enemy, which got my hopes up for a third enemy type only for me to be let down at its nonexistence outside the background).
Something else to note about the game is that you don’t lose a life when all of your water is gone; you lose a life when 3/4ths of your water is gone. This can be annoying when, for example, you’re low on water and barely make it past an obstacle, only for some water that got separated earlier to evaporate and set you back at a checkpoint. The game is easy enough that this doesn’t happen too often, and there’s lots of water bubbles to refill your water and reserve water (lives), although you can only have five reserve waters stored at a time.
However, I think my main problem with the game would be its motion controls, particularly with the jumping. You see, if you don’t lift the Wiimote high enough (even if you barely miss the threshold), the water/ice won’t jump to its full height. This can become quite problematic: for example, there are parts where you need to stick the ice to a gear, then use the gear’s momentum to jump further upward. A simple jump won’t be enough, so you need to gather speed and keep the table tilted toward the gear when you jump, but if the game decides that your rapid lift of the Wiimote wasn’t high enough, you’ll miss the jump and fall into lava. For a non jump example, the last power you get is the ability to shoot the water up in a jetstream, and it will come back down after reaching a certain height. However, you can only shoot in three directions (up, up-left, and up-right) with the precise aim reliant on how you have the table tilted, and if your aim is slightly off, the water will bounce off the edge of the wall or crest and fall just short of the platform, and in the worst case scenario, by the time you realize what’s happening, 3/4ths of your water is already on a collision course with death (though you might be able to save the water if you tilt away and jump).
EDIT: By the way, remember how you move the water by tilting the Wiimote? Well, if you tilt it too far, the table will start to rebalance itself, which means you don’t get as much momentum for your jumps, etc.
Oh, and the game has fake walls, too. You might be able to see a pixel sticking out if you look close enough, or you might see a suspicious-looking design on the wall, but for the most part, they don’t seem to be very well indicated (although fake walls have always been a pet-peeve of mine in games). At least they’re mostly for optional things.
Overall, this game is hard to recommend. I hesitate to say it’s a bad game, but it seemed like every moment of fun was contrasted with a moment of “GET OVER THERE, DANG IT! AARGH!”