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from AEO magazine, Volume 4, Issue 5
||| FlippingOut! ||| By: Adam Urbano / | \ GEnie: AEO.5 Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org --------------------------------------------------------------- Explaining FlipOut! is a daunting task, not to say that the game itself is complex or difficult to understand, as the game is really based on a few basic principles. What is dificult is explaining how a game that is so darn simple can be any challenge. I'll try and explain the basics of the game before I get into the difficulty levels. FlipOut! is a puzzle game in which the player flips tiles into the air in an attempt to match the color of a tile with its corresponding color on the ground. At the start of each level the player will see a square block of nine tiles on the ground. During the opening stage these tiles are only two colors, but this changes soon enough. In addition to these nine tiles, the playfield will consist of one extra tile that is thrown into the fray once the game begins. The difficulty of this "renegade" tile is that only one tile may occupy a given slot. That leaves the player with 10 tiles and 9 slots, feel free to Do The Math. This little obstacle is overcome by keeping one tile in the air at all times, if the player is foolish enough to let all the tiles fall to the ground the level restarts. So, the player starts by flipping the tile he or she wants to move, this then sends that piece into the air for a brief period of time. While that piece is floating, which can be a very brief period of time, the player must decide where he or she wants that tile to land at. The player picks a tile on the floor where that piece should land, and clicks on it. By doing this it sends the "floating" piece to rest on that new tile location, and the piece that previously occupied that space goes flipping into the air, and the process repeats itself. So, the level ends when every colored tile matches its corresponding color on the ground, and the "renegade" tile is left floating in the air. Whenever the player matches a correct tile with its correct color that tile will glow, telling the player that tile has been dealt with already. It really is much, much simpler to play than it is to explain. That explains the basics behind the game, but the game does get more complex than that. The game is made up of several different areas, with each area containing one type of puzzle. This area may contain from as many as 11 to as few as three puzzles, depending on the difficulty. //// Such A Cheesy Background To explain the progression of the levels it might help to know some background of the story. The citizens of the Cheese Planet have a Great Tile Flipping Festival, which is fairly named since all this festival consists of is flipping tiles in the manner described above. These citizens like to relax from their busy lifestyle and visit Earth. And to quote Fenesh XVII, First Scribe to King Fluffy of the Cheese Planet, "While we're on Earth we visit places like Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Easter Island. However, we are creatures of habit, and we just feel the need to flip things." It is from these many different areas that the game draws its various levels. Each level starts off with a map screen representing the various areas the player must travel to, and each area contains a different type of puzzle, although these different puzzles all adhere to the gameplay described above. The Cheese Planet consists of the basic three by three grid which reappears throughout the game. The next level is Yellowstone National Park, where the player must match a citizen with its corresponding geyser. Then comes Mt. Rushmore, where the player must reassemble the faces of the four presidents. The final Earth level is Easter Island, where the standard nine tile grid is changed by adding three Easter Island statues that contain one tile space each, bringing the total number of tiles to 12. These statues also make life more difficult in the later stages by closing their mouths, meaning the player won't be able to get at a tile he or she may need. The first non-Earth bound level the player encounters is the Sphorkle diner. This area is very similar to the geysers at Yellowstone, the difference being that the player must match a given citizen with his corresponding colored food rather than matching a colored geyser. Planets Hoopla and Pigskin consist of the nine square block game previously described. The final area is a real challenge, it is the Zero-Gravity Arena. This area not only has the nine tiles on the ground, but two walls made of nine tiles each. The last puzzle area consists of only one puzzle, and is a showdown between the player and King Fluffy to see who is the master of tile flipping. Let's just say King Fluffy isn't that nice of a guy, and I'll leave the details for you to discover. (Insert evil laugh, the sort of maniacal laughter that can only be achieved through countless attempts at beating King Fluffy....) Graphicaly the game is above par. The backgrounds are all very nicely done, although they aren't exactly eye popping. For a puzzle game, they are some of the nicest I have seen, which really isn't saying much since most puzzle games use bland backgrounds. What is truly impressive are the little details, such as the light sourcing on the tiles when they are flipped. The spectators and characters in this game are also truly impressive, they look to be little Claymation-type figures of various sorts. //// Puzzle Game Baddies It is in these figures that the games greatest difficulty comes out. The game has various competitors whose only goal in life seems to be to destroy the work the player has done. A rodeo riding guy, complete with cowboy garb, will jump onto a tile and prevent it from flipping into the air. The player must try and flip the tile several times in order to buck him off. One character will jump onto the board and pretend to be a tile, forcing the player to keep two tiles in the air while he is in play. One character eats the tiles. Another character flips tiles for you, making a real mess of things. These are just some of the many characters the player will encounter along the way. Each seperate character has its own great personality and sets of animation. The tile eater, for example, starts out looking like a fairly average raison-shaped spectator. He then jumps onto the board, picks up a tile, which tends to be about the size of his whole body, and swallow it. This leaves a little tile with arms and legs. Another obstacle is the average spectator, who tends to walk right onto the field of play. When a player flips a tile with a spectator on it the spectator gets flung into the air also. But, more preferably, if a spectator is caught under a tile that lands he will be smooshed like the lump of clay that he appears to be. For a really little morbid excursion from the actual game, grab a stopwatch and see how many of the little buggers you can kill in a specified ammount of time. This can even become a two player game, trying to see who can smash more. :) //// Wrap-up FlipOut Sound effects are minimal, but when they are used they are really great. Some examples include the wonderful smooshing sound of squished spectators, the evil giggle of the little clay figure that keeps score, and the insane "yee-haw" of the rodeo rider. The game also has several different difficulty levels, and they get pretty tough (read: impossible for mortals). The four levels of play are Normal, Hard, Insane, and Psychotic. This is about as accurate a description as one could ask for. In the Hard level, the tiles are the usual different colors when flipped, but upon landing they all become the same color. The Insane level keeps all the tiles the same color at all times, the only way to distinguish them is when they flash, indicating that the right piece is in the right area. Finally, the Psychotic level is similar to the Insane level, except they will only flash one time when placed in the proper place, meaning the player not only has to guess correctly, but remember when the pieces match. The game seemed finished, and is in fact in production now. Everything is in place and I didn't discover a single bug. There is even an endgame "cinema" already in. So expect this one to be on time, which is currently set for mid-August. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: FlipOut JagNet: No Design: Gorilla Systems Players: One Published by: Atari Corp. Available: Mid-August Price: $49.99 Here's the summary ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars maximum Control: ***** Quick and responsive, move the cursor and the action is immediate. This is to be expected, however, since there really isn't that much involved in the control. Gameplay: ***+ A puzzle game with a bunch of variations on the basic game premise. Not as deeply thought provoking as a game like Lemmings, FlipOut bears more resemblance to a game such as Concentration. Easy to learn, quick, and enough difficulty levels to keep occupied for a while. Graphics: **** Ranked against other puzzle games this one has some flashy graphics. Rendered objects, Claymation-like creatures, and all the fancy trimmings. Sound: ***+ The music samples are clean and varied, but nothing to turn up the volume for. Some of the sound samples are excellent, however, ranging from the maniacal laughs of the "enemies" to the pleasent squish of a flattened citizen. Overall: **** A solid puzzle game that should entertain most users. Nothing that is necessarily new or groundbreaking, but it is certainly a fun game.
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