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Flip the Core - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Flip the Core

DSiWare | Engine Software | 1 Player | Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
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3rd July 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

However you spin it, the inspiration well keeps getting deeper with all these dimensional-themed games. An idea typically associated with the puzzle genre, Flip the Core is but one of multiple shmups that have explored a similarly systematic gameplay execution in hopes that by creating a deeper environment to wade through, the experience as a whole can be deepened. The title may not have the nicest ring to it, but Flip the Core catches attention in other, more important ways.

    The main mechanism at work here to circumvent an otherwise basic structure has to do with the bouncing between two interconnected dimensions to reach an end point. A press of the L or R Button will flip the environment so that you transition over to the top or lower part of an invisible dividing line. As you do so, you'll get to see a very brief glimpse of the three-dimensional, top-down look as the two dimensions meet in the middle. You'll find all the action takes place on the DS' top screen while the bottom screen is used to display other important statistics including your score. But wait! Wouldn't it be an obvious thing to have both dimensions displayed at the same time, as per the system's capabilities? This is one of the first things that sort of bugged me about the way the development team chose to execute their concept, as the use of both screens would have conveyed that dimensional feel in a superior fashion and made the realness of it that much more apparent.

    At any rate, while you won't ever have to use the flipping system to show off your skills of evasion and maneuverability, this system allows you to do more than just get past obstacles. Flipping at the right time can reduce the threat of an enemy's attack pattern and provide a better possible outcome. An example of this would be when an enemy attacks with a radial burst effect; switching to the other dimension will make those same bullets appear in horizontal formation. You can't just go around activating it willy-nilly. Warnings are given in areas where you can't perform the move safely. This does not mean that doing it anyway will cause your ship to explode; simply that it will get stuck in place for a second before sending you back to where you came from. The game doesn't present much excitement or experimentation in that sense, but this is a leniency that actually aids in the preservation of balanced gameplay.

In terms of the more basic systems put in place, players can switch between three available shot types using the A Button: a laser beam, orb-like missiles, and a standard blaster. I wasn't really fond of the missile attack as not only was it the least effective in high-pressure situations, but the ranged shots often had a disorganized follow-through. All weapons require energy to use, so continually holding down the fire button will only deplete you of your resources. You must replenish those same resources by collecting energy bits dropped by enemies. These only stay in the current dimension for about a second or two before they automatically turn to outlines, indicating that you must now transition to the other dimension to grab them. As you gather more and more of these, the energy levels of these weapons can increase up to a third rank. From there, you can build towards Overcharges, which are basically bombs that have a temporary distortion effect on the visual environment as damage is being inflicted.

    Admittedly, all other areas of Flip the Core's setup aren't that fancy. Well, when you think about it, even the concept itself isn't exactly ground-breaking. However, the area where I feel the game performs the best in is its sense of balance. The overall pace isn't intense or intimidating and even features moments of calm. And while the game doesn't put much pressure you at the beginning, it does hold its own as it presents what are essentially small mazes created with the dimensional changes in mind. More often than not, these actually help validate the system's use in spite of the fact that the game never really goes anywhere further with it. All things considered, I can see younger fans of the genre especially loving what this game does. The system is inoffensive and easy to use, and the pace set out over the course of the short journey does feel balanced enough for younger players to get acquainted with the action without feeling overwhelmed too soon.

    If not already drawing attention for its marketed feature, the game especially catches attention for its nice visual style, refraining from using a predictable and rather drab colour palette that would be an easy aesthetic choice for the developers to make. It's a positive trait that's easy to observe, though if I were to nitpick, the backgrounds aren't stable 100% of the time and thus don't lead to a solid impression. Musically, the tracks included work fine, and there's even one that had similar audio qualities as some SNES games. But even then, nothing ever stands out.

Not lasting much more than an hour, Flip the Core presents four five-to-ten-minute stages with an average boss fight to end things off. Even though the overall experience doesn't hook you enough to want to keep playing again and again, the value equation isn't bad for a $2 game. The game isn't nearly as creative as it thinks it is or tries to be with the concept never really coming to life or meaning something else than what has been portrayed throughout. But what the team has put together still works enough for me to give it a soft recommendation. 

    With respect to their relaying of this concept to players, it would have done much more good for the construction had a dual-screen organization been implemented. Having said that, Flip the Core doesn't suffer significantly because of what some might describe as an oversight. The game is balanced quite nicely, enough for me to say that even younger players can feel less apprehensive about getting into this. All the while, the game still carries a degree of challenge that older players may not necessarily love, but will likely find to be adequate. Couple all that with a price that's hard to argue against and it can be said that Flip the Core is a safe bet for fans of the genre.

20/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Execution of the main concept could've been a bit better, other systems are fairly basic, good pacing with commendable balance
Presentation 7/10 - Visual style is different from the norm, not free of minor technical issues, music works but ultimately not that special
Enjoyment 3/5 - Simple fun, not a great deal of excitement or exploration to be had, balance allows younger players to ease into it, somewhat challenging
Extra Content 3/5 - Will last you about an hour or so, pretty decent for only $2, high score tables present but there's not much motivation to return

Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Flip the Core
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