Published on November 12th, 2013 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Fluidity: Spin Cycle
By Joseph K. Saulnier
The original Fluidity, from British developer Curve Studios, came out in North America as an exclusive on the WiiWare service nearly 3 years ago. The game ended up surprising many people in a variety of ways as it took the basic concept of controlling water in its various forms and churning out a long, depp, and fully engaging physics-based adventure/platformer. Fluidity: Spin Cycle is Curve Studio’s follow up to the console game, which modifies the basic concept to create a brand new handheld version of the game on the 3DS. But… does it live up to the brilliantly thought out original?
Fluidity: Spin Cycle has you take on the part of a water spirit named Eddy. Eddy must find and rescue his rainbow spirit sisters, who are trapped in a wizard’s storybook by the evil Goop. While this time around, Eddy has a personified form, this change does not reflect itself in the gameplay as his new form is really only shown at the beginning and end of each stage and for reaction shots on the bottom screen. The overarching plot of rescuing the rainbow spirits never really evolves either, and it definitely leaves a lot to be desired. But what is much more interesting is the unique interactions that you will find yourself engaging in with various NPCs, which include helping a botanist to collect flower samples, a secret agent to infiltrate an enemy’s base, and a rusty robot to complete the tasks that his programming demands of him but he is no longer able to complete on his own. I find that these interactions help the player to connect with the stages.
The controls in Fluidity: Spin Cycle are kind of a tough to manage. You move Eddy by tilting the 3DS, and all other actions are accomplished with a mix of the L and R buttons and the touch screen. Eddy’s cloud form is especially a difficult to control as the left and right movement is done with tilting, but the up and down movement is done with the shoulder buttons. Optionally, you can use the physical buttons instead of the touch screen for many of Eddy’s actions, but this is never made clear. Besides, this control method has issues of its own. This isn’t to say that the controls are terrible or anything, just that they take a while to get used to, and you may never feel 100% in control of Eddy.
Fluidity: Spin Cycle has you guide Eddy through 60 stages set in 4 chapters. Each chapter represents a different era in time, and are themed according to that era. You start the game in a prehistoric, dinosaur-filled environment, and by the end you will have worked your way well into a future complete with robots and flying cars. These stages work nicely with the portable nature of the title.
One new addition to the handheld follow up, which is sure to turn some people off, are the full 360° stages. During gameplay, you can (and must) flip over the play environment by turning your 3DS completely upside down. I didn’t mind these too much, and in fact found many of them to be rather enjoyable, but I must admit that the regular stages were preferable. If these 360° stages had been scattered throughout the game, it wouldn’t really be an issue, but they make up nearly half of the playable stages. It doesn’t help their case that these stages all have the same purple color palette either.
The non-linear nature of the game comes into play heavily in each stage as you work to power up your character, often requiring you to backtrack after pushing buttons and pulling levers, returning gears to the correct machines, switching between water forms, solving puzzles and more to open new ways to progress. There are also many of the Goop roaming around these stages, who will drain water from you if you hit them when they are powered-up, as well as several environmental hazards like pits of fire and crushing pistons. Be wary, because if you lose too much water, you have to start over at the last checkpoint. There is also a boss fight at the end of each chapter, although more accurate would be to say that there is a single boss fight in the game which comes back several times in a somewhat different variation. It’s a pretty cool battle, but I wish that there were more variety in the boss fights instead of rehashing the same one multiple times.
The visuals of Fluidity: Spin Cycle are very pleasing to the eyes. It’s not a particularly technically impressive game, but it has an expressive and detailed 2D art and animation style. Unfortunately there is no 3D effect in Fluidity: Spin Cycle, which, due to the focus on tilt controls, is understandable. The presentation is topped with a light-hearted, upbeat soundtrack that fits the style nicely, although the songs repeat a bit too often for my liking.
Fluidity was easily one of my favorite games on WiiWare, and I naturally had high expectations when I heard that a sequel had been announced. Although I was initially disappointed at some of the structural changes in Fluidity: Spin Cycle, including the focus on the 360° stages, as well as a control system that took a bit longer to get used to, the game won me over with its pure creativity and variety, both in the environments and the gameplay. Never would I have thought that a little puddle of water could meet such an assortment of characters and do so many amazing things. Fluidity: Spin Cycle is not without its faults, but it’s still a superb game for me puts it on par with the original. And with nearly 15 hours or more of filler-free play time, it’s one of the best bangs for your buck on the 3DS eShop.