Fluidity [Video]

Fluidity Cover
Platforms WiiWare
Genre Instant Metroidvania: Just Add Water
MtAMinutes to Action 0
Keep Playing? Definitely

I don't know why I've bothered registering my games with Club Nintendo these past five years. So many surveys and registration codes, and what have I received in return? A couple calendars, an LCD relic, and a set of collectors' pins. It's downright sad next to the free eReader that Sony sent me.

But times have changed, and this is the new, modern Nintendo! The bold new Nintendo of 2012 not only releases limited-availability demos and supports paid DLC, it actually puts up some worthwhile prizes for Club Nintendo members. Specifically, Club Nintendo now offers a small selection of downloadable games in exchange for the coins that you earn by registering Nintendo products. First party games only, but hey, baby steps.

Fluidity, a WiiWare title of some renown (called Hydroventure in Europe), was one of the games available in December for a fair 150 coins (it's no longer there, but you can only get it on the Wii Shop Channel for $12). The game received positive press and has whiffs of Metroidvania and fluid dynamics puzzles, so that sounds like a winner to me. I've played an hour: am I happy with the coins I spent, or should I have gone for the Mario Folder and Bookmark Set instead? I'd be the coolest kid in homeroom with those folders...

- The progression is like a hybrid of 3D Mario and Metroidvania: the ant farm layout of branching paths lead to different challenges, each with a collectable Rainbow Drop. Acquiring Rainbow Drops and new abilities (like the Gather ability in the video below) unlocks new options in each area. The helpful map always kept me on the trail to new areas, and occasional warp points keep backtracking from getting out of hand.

- On a system where motion controls sometimes get shoehorned in and ruin things, Fluidity's tilting feels just right: responsive without being oversensitive. It took a few minutes to get used to tilting the stage to move my liquid, but it worked just fine. I never had trouble jumping with a shake, either.

- It's hard for me to nail down a style for Fluidity, though one word that springs to mind is "subdued." The visuals use plenty of color, as befits the picture book narrative and graphic novel stage layouts, but never get anywhere near gaudy. The music sounds like something you'd hear in a particularly good elevator, calm but catchy.

- It may be too early to be praising Fluidity for its variety, but I've enjoyed all of the puzzles so far. You control more than the water in Fludity, and other objects in the stage react to your tilting. In sixty minutes, I rotated gears, directed geysers, put out fires, carried rubber duckies and more, without a weak moment throughout.

- If there's one part of the game that rubs me the wrong way, it's the effort required to keep your water together. You can apparently "die" in Fluidity by losing too much water, either by evaporation by enemies or leaving some of the fluid behind the core of the puddle. Considering how much water you have to manage at times, it can be a bit tough to keep it all together. It reminds me of managing the horde in Kirby Mass Attack; it works well most of the time (and the Gather ability gained early on helps out), but I struggle to control the entirety of the stream when precise movements were necessary.

Minutes to Action: 0

Would I keep playing? Definitely. It didn't take long for Fluidity to suck me in, and luckily it looks like there's quite a bit of game left in this WiiWare download. It's a steal at 150 coins, at least compared to the 300 coin Nintendogs Greeting Cards, anyway.