Flip Wars has a simple premise: ground pound tiles to flip them over to your color. The player with the most colored tiles at the end of the round is the winner. Two alternative modes let you focus on knocking out other players by flipping the tiles they’re standing on, but really, that’s all there is to the entire experience. Flip Wars is a Nintendo Switch eShop game with as much depth as a minigame from Mario Party.
Don’t get me wrong. I love minigames integrated into bigger releases or as diversions from the main game. However, there isn’t much to Flip Wars to justify it as a stand-alone title. The game offers a light three modes. The first, Panel Battle, pits four players in a tile-based arena. By jumping and hip dropping, the panel you land on, as well as a cross-shape of panels around it, will flip to your color. Think of it like the four-way explosions of Bomberman bombs, except with flipping tiles instead of explosions. However, the arenas are very small, so the tides are bound to change constantly within the default two-minute rounds, and it feels like only the last half minute actually matters in this game. And in that final 30 seconds, anyone can churn out a last-second victory, turning Panel Battle into a forgettable luck-based affair. Power-up items help turn that tide, granting such abilities as flipping diagonal tiles or becoming invincible, but there is little complexity to picking up a random item and gaining a huge advantage.
The other two modes take advantage of the game’s knockout mechanic. If you flip a panel on which your opponents are standing, they are knocked out momentarily. In Knock Out mode, whoever takes out the most players within the time limit wins. Life Battle is the stock mode equivalent, giving players a set amount of lives before they are eliminated from the competition. Battling others is more satisfying than flipping tiles, but the knock out mechanics are a bit buggy. Sometimes my opponent would be on a flipped tile and somehow avoid being knocked out. Other times, we would knock each other out simultaneously, despite hip dropping at different times.
There are a few additional mechanics strewn in, some helpful and others annoying. For one, you travel at a reasonable walking speed when on your own panels but slow down to a crawl while on others’, giving you a clear disadvantage. The idea makes sense, but movement is so sluggish, making it so difficult to encroach on another’s territory that you’re stuck hip dropping adjacent tiles. More interestingly, you can perform a midair dash, effectively repositioning your landing. This technique, along with the ability to do a fast landing, can be used to psych out your opponents, possibly knocking them out.
There are a paltry 12 arenas, though that number is even less impressive when you realize they are all meager variations of each other. There are four types of arenas, only two of which contain additional gimmicks of tile-flipping buttons and lasers. The other two types consist of a standard arena and an “expert” one, which is literally just the same thing with more cubes blocking your path. Each of these stage types can be played on one of three color fields: a hazardless green one, a blue field with waves that shake the arena, and a yellow one featuring lightning bolts. And voila: we have 12 rushed mix-and-match arenas that get old fast.
And that overall lack of depth is the biggest issue Flip Wars faces. There is nothing more to this game than the three modes, and the repetitious gameplay quickly loses its luster. The local couch multiplayer likely won’t hold your group’s attention. You can turn to online play, though it’ll likely be difficult to find others playing this game – not a surprise given the better online offerings found elsewhere on the Switch. Occasionally, when the game finally located an opponent for me after minutes of waiting, the game became laggy, which is unforgivable in a chaotic game like this. And don’t get me started on playing alone with the A.I. who, at the highest level, seems to have no clue what it’s doing. As a final spit in the face, the main menu includes the option to play against someone with another Switch, but it’s inexplicably unavailable as of this post-release review.
The presentation is on par with the kind of games you would have found back on WiiWare – cartoonish visuals lacking any real graphical polish. The Bomberman family has more personality than Flip Wars’ generic armored characters. I at least liked the energetic synthesized music – fitting for the game but otherwise unremarkable.
Mario Party 7 has a minigame, “Tile and Error,” in which players must ground pound tiles to claim territory. The fact that Flip Wars can so easily be compared to a 30-second minigame from over a decade ago should say a lot about what you’re getting yourself into if you purchase this. Some of the hip dropping, tile-flipping mechanics are genuinely interesting, but Flip Wars is essentially a $10 minigame and a rather average one at that.
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!