Spin Cycle doesn't quite hit the highs of the original, but it is still a great game.
The original Fluidity (or Hydroventure, as it is called in Europe), which came out in late 2010, was the cream of the crop on WiiWare. Controlling water through an open, storybook world with Metroid-like progression was fascinating, fun, and fantastic. The game’s 3DS eShop sequel eschews some of that exploration for a portable-friendly, level-based progression. For the most part, the charm and quality of the original shines through even in Spin Cycle’s abbreviated levels, but in some ways, the game falls short, specifically in the many 360-degree rotation stages.
The controls in most levels are fine, showing off how the 3DS gyroscope can work well with small, precise movements. Wielding your water effectively is easy, and using a combination of large touch screen buttons and the shoulder buttons to interact with your mass of water is easy and intuitive. It’s occasionally frustrating to keep your water together, as it splashes around freely in liquid form, but once you get the hang of the way the game works, the issue lessens.
One issue that doesn’t is the concept of spinning the 3DS in a circle. Some levels, which are marked accordingly, require you to spin the 3DS around in a 360-degree rotation to progress. Not only is it disorienting to play a 3DS game like this, but because of the placement of the volume slider and the Start/Select/Home buttons, mistaken button presses are plentiful. To boot, sometimes you need to turn the system upside down and press a touch screen button to do something, so you either need to stretch across the top screen to press the button, or hold the system at the top and look at the action in a weird, low position. If you have an original 3DS, these issues likely won’t be as big of an issue, but if you have a 3DS XL, with easier-to-press Start/Select/Home buttons and a bigger frame, moving the system around can get dicey. You can circumvent the accidental button press issues by holding the system parallel to the floor and tilting it in different directions to do the spin cycle levels, but that is still a difficult experience on the 3DS. You certainly can get used to it, but despite some interesting and novel level design, the 360 degree rotation levels are too frequent and too frustrating.
The levels that don’t feature the full rotation are excellent, fortunately, especially as you near the end of the game’s 60 levels. While the individual goals in each level are fun and reminiscent of some of the objectives in the original, the lack of overworld exploration is sorely missed. Instead of an expansive open world like in the original, Spin Cycle is linear. Levels feature some minor secrets, and exploring those nooks and crannies can reward you with a puzzle piece, used for unlocking bonus sandbox levels, and excess water, used to increase your end-of-level rating. You gain new abilities that can open up puzzle piece hiding places in earlier levels, but for the most part, what was a once unique Metroid-like exploration game is now just a linear platformer. It’s a bit of a bummer.
Fluidity’s return features of a hell of a lot of whimsy, though. The game has a story now, putting you in control of a heroic water droplet named Eddy who strives to save a bunch of cute, female Rainbow Spirits from the villainous Goop. The worlds are a lot more outlandish, too; for example, the first world features a whole lot of dinosaurs, and one level features a spaceship taking off.
The game includes four worlds containing 15 levels each. In addition, the puzzle pieces and five-star rating system provide a bit of opportunity for replay value. The experience is still fun and definitely worthwhile, but it’s disappointing after the strike of lightning that was the first Fluidity. Check it out if you want some straightforward water-platforming action, but if you were expecting layered, explorable worlds, Fluidity: Spin Cycle isn’t that.