Have you had your suggested servings of water today?
Like nearly all downloadable services, there are gems that define that downloadable service. One could say that UNO cemented Xbox Live as a place for pedos and socially-awkward losers whereas WipEout HD took PSN to a whole 'nother level. With WiiWare there have been some solid gems from indie developers, and that's really the case with most downloadable services. It's the independent developers that really make a service shine due to low cost and the ability to make a game without needing one-hundred employees to do so. Nintendo's presence on WiiWare hasn't been the strongest. They're more known for giving third parties a shot on WiiWare. When they do develop or in this case publish a WiiWare game, Nintendo Wii owners take note as is the case with Fluidity. Developed by Curve Studios, does Fluidity make for a good game, or will it make you wonder "water" these guys thinking in making this game?
When some nasty ink penetrates a sacred book, the Aquaticus, trouble brews. The pages are covered with this icky black goop, and it's up to your powers to save the day. In Fluidity you tilt the Wii remote to move water through the labyrinthine pages of the Aquaticus, much like how PSP owners played LocoRoco by tilting the playing field to move the little LocoRoco. You flick the Wii remote upward (the game is played solely with the Wii remote in a horizontal fashion) to jump. When in liquid form, you can hold the A button down to gather your pool of water into a nice blob. Hold the button down for too long, however, and your ball of water will explode and splash all over the place. By collecting bubbles of water, you gain more extra lives for when an enemy dries up your amalgamation of aqua or your puddle of H2O is destroyed by a pool of lava. You're then placed at the beginning of the area with most of your work still intact.
The goal of Fluidity is to prowl the pages of the Aquaticus, searching for rainbow-colored magical drops. These are collected through solving short, medium, or long-length puzzles using the powers of water. One puzzle has you entering hoses as you shoot yourself to a higher platform, nimbly dodging rising and falling fireballs. The premise here is to carry two goldfish from their current bubble prison to a fishbowl through a fiery maze of fire hoses and fireballs. Taking the goldfish back to their home rewards you with a magical drop. Collecting several of these opens up a final area where you enter the heart of darkness, defeating all enemies in the area to unlock the way to the machine that is spewing all of the black goop over the pages of the Aquaticus. By destroying the machine, you open up the next chapter of which there are five.
Magical drops are plentiful throughout the pages of the mystical Aquaticus, and arrows inside the comic panel-like presentation of the book show areas you have and have not completed yet. Each chapter houses a multitude of magical drops that are just waiting for you to collect them, given you have the required skills and know-how. In addition to magical drops, there are also hidden puzzle pieces to collect. These open up mini-games to play. The very first is bringing a series of goldfish to their fishbowls before time runs out and they suffocate.
As I mentioned before, you must possess the required skills to pass a given trial. As you progress through the pages and chapters of the Aquaticus, you earn new abilities and forms. For instance, certain stations can turn your fluid into a solid block of ice or a steady stream of steam. Both have their own abilities to them. Ice can stick to walls, push down hard-to-budge buttons, and be shoved around by catapults whereas steam can fly around levels by tilting the Wii remote on the Z-axis, can suck up items, and electrocute enemies by charging them with solid volts of lightning. Several in-game puzzles require you to alternate between forms to attain magical drops. Fluidity in some ways feels like a Metroid game. As you earn new abilities, you can reach new areas. As you earn more magical drops, you can enter new pages of the Aquaticus. Despite the lack of space pirates and a purple dragon named Ridley, the similarities really end there.
The platforming and puzzles get particularly more involved and challenging as you go deeper into the game and hit the later chapters. There's spinning platforms, hoses that shoot your liquid out over long distances and dangers, pools of deadly lava, harmful enemies that need to be taken down when vulnerable, pinball tables, pulley systems, and so much more. There's easily over ten hours of content in this 1200 point game-- well worth the money.
Presentation-wise, each world has its own colorful theme from an Aztec-inspired temple grounds to a bustling cityscape. Chapters are divided up into pages just like panels of a comic book to create a really cool effect. The art style uses colorful and cartoony hand-drawn backgrounds along with convincing special effects for the three forms of matter you can become: liquid, solid, and gas. The music doesn't jump out at you. I mean, the game won't earn any scores of the year awards, but it fits nicely for the type of gameplay involved.
Fluidity isn't a perfect downloadable game, however. Sometimes the controls can feel too loose, and there's little in the way of control customization to fix that. Later challenges can simply feel too cheap, requiring precision platforming and jumps. Additionally, it can just be difficult to know how to solve a puzzle without looking at a FAQ or walkthrough (cheater). Other than those problems, Fluidity is a challenging game that oozes with charm and personality. Yes, there are a lot of duds on WiiWare, but make no mistake that Fluidity is not one of such titles. It shows that Curve Studios put a lot of love and care into this game. For 1200 Nintendo points, I think it's time for a water break.
[SuperPhillip Says: 8.75/10]