What began life as a mere tech demo for its creator's Voxel 3D engine somehow turned into a fairly hyped up DSiWare release that's gotten quite a bit of attention since it was announced last year. Not only that, but the game has undergone a major visual overhaul during the course of its development.
The ultimate goal in Flipper is to guide the boy to his captured goldfish. While this starts out quite easy, you'll soon be presented with many obstacles that will demand you to transform the landscapes in order to reach him. This is where the game's power-ups come into play: some power-ups will allow you to destroy parts of the landscape whereas others will allow you to repair and rebuild it. The Voxel engine allows you to pretty much destroy things at will with almost complete freedom, something that lends itself to creating an almost endless variety of ways with which to solve each level's puzzle.
Controlling your character requires little more than touching the desired destination on the touchscreen. If your character can reach the area indicated, he'll walk to that point. If not, you'll have to pick up and make use of the various power-ups strung around each of the game's levels. Using a power-up is every bit as simple as moving around – you need only click the power-up icon and then touch the area you wish to destroy or rebuild using the stylus. While the puzzles start out easy enough, you'll soon be faced with very tricky puzzles, not to mention enemies that you must avoid at all costs.
When you complete a level, you'll be given a score based on various criteria. You can even locate a hidden star in each level, something that gives the game a nice little layer of replay value. The controls are fairly responsive, although it does take a little getting used to. The camera controls can be a little sluggish at times, but they get the job done for those times when you have to rotate the areas around in order to survey the entire area. The simple and intuitive play controls do allow you to spend more time trying to figure out the puzzles and less time fumbling with a set of overly complicated controls.
Flipper isn't one of those games that's going to set new standards for visual flair, but its voxelated look does add a lot of charm to the overall experience. It doesn't hurt that the game's many areas are all very well drawn and extremely colorful as well. Toss in the nearly limitless freedom of altering terrain in each level and you have what is a very solid and often rewarding visual presentation.
As engaging as the unique visual style of the game is, it's the soundtrack that truly shines in Flipper. Not only are the tracks very fitting of the theme in each area, but they're also extremely catchy. It's also nice that the tracks tend to be fairly lengthy and varied enough as to not become repetitive during longer playing sessions. Most of the sound effects do a nice job of complimenting the game's background audio and the gleeful cheer of the boy each time he reaches his goldfish is a nice charming touch as well.
Personality and charm go a long way in digital download releases and luckily, Flipper has ample helpings of both. The Voxel 3D engine is impressive and there's plenty of fun to be had for those who can appreciate the game's unique presentation. The open and free environment makes for a wildly varied gaming experience, but sadly one that feels like it ends a bit too soon and tends to leave you wanting more. That being said, the ride is certainly fun while it lasts and not a bad value for 500 Points.