Fluidity: Spin Cycle is just the game I needed after suffering through two mediocre titles and having my retinas seared by explosions and rampaging tigers. The warm, fuzzy feeling born from guiding a sentient mass of water through various puzzles was a lovely breath of fresh air. Originally released on the Nintendo’s Wiiware service in 2010, some light research has discovered that Spin Cycle is simply a 3DS port that uses the handheld in lieu of the Wiimote. The lack of any 3D effects combined with the awkward use of handing the 3DS makes the product feel somewhat slap dashed. However, I’d be more upset about that if a) I played the original game and b) didn’t find the gameplay experience and puzzle design so enjoyable.
Fluidity: Spin Cycle puts the player in control of a water sprite named Eddy who must clean out a magical book besieged by an evil, oil-like sentience that has taken the magical Rainbow Sprites (who have the power to bring parts of the book to life) captive. At the start of each stage, Eddy breaks out of his anthropomorphized form and becomes an unruly mass of water that can be moved by tilting the 3DS left or right. Guiding the liquid across oddly shaped environmental objects, structures and switches designed to open pathways and activate complex mechanisms that will free the trapped Rainbow Sprites is a challenge considering how easy it is for globs of water to, for lack of a better phrase, break away from the pack. Things get especially trying during the stages that have been taken over by the Gloop, resulting in mind bending, gravity-free level design and boss fights.
Even though there are systems in place that make managing a semi-lifeless puddle of water seem trying, advancing through the game will unlock various forms and abilities for Eddy to take, such as a block of ice, a rain cloud or break through fragile surfaces with explosive force. Survival is dictated by the amount of water Eddy retains throughout the stage. This decreases as water separates and as annoying as that can be, the most terrifying force is fire. Fire-based enemies and traps have the capacity to boil the poor water sprite and if he prolongs his contact with flame, Eddy’s health will deplete and the game is over. No matter how Eddy loses water, it can be replenished either by chasing after loose globs of liquid or collecting water bubbles scattered throughout each stage. This comes at a cost, however, as the amount of water bubbles collected counts towards your end level rank. The remaining number of collected bubbles combined with the amount of time taken to finish are tallied and turned into a rank and thus we find Fluidity’s motivation for repeated play: the pursuit of five star rankings. An additional merit of replay is the hunting down of hidden puzzle pieces buried deep within each stage.
Complementing the game’s fun, puzzle-centric nature is the game’s visual similarity to a picture book. Some levels are more subtle than others but everything has this nice faded, aged look to it that allows the more colorful assets, like the Rainbow Sprites, to really stand out. As for Eddy himself, it’s difficult to not compare his design to that of Drippy the Rain Drop.
Fluidity: Spin Cycle offers up hours of uncompromising puzzle fun. The only downside is a control scheme that isn’t as comfortable and streamlined as the Wiimote. Turning the 3DS upside down is an awkward experience in its own right, given the shape and weight of the object, but having to interact with context sensitive touch controls makes dropping the 3DS system a frequent occurrence. The game doesn’t take advantage of other unique features of the handheld which is a real shame – some 3D effects would have been nice. Then again, the 3D would get disrupted while moving the system around so I suppose there’s a legitimate reason not including the effect. Despite all these issues, Spin Cycle is a thoroughly engaging game with puzzles that are smartly designed and well thought out with solutions that require the right amount of brain power to get through each round.