Review – Flametail

Flametail
The mini-games of No More Heroes 2 have already taught me that managing waste disposal in space is an ordeal of cosmic proportions. And while the DSiWare release of Flametail finds plenty of ways to back up that notion, it also finds space between the planets to create a puzzle game that mixes simple and patient controls with devious designs, lightly crossing two genres to offer up a title worthy of some overdue DSi reviews.


Flametail begins with the aesthetic layout of a shmup, player’s hold the DSi like a book and use the dpad to move the tiny incinerator podship across the screen in a square by square routine. As the ship is moved, a flame trail of fiery squares follow behind the player, the path forward creating new ones while the end pieces dissipate and vanish.

Flametail

Ahead of the player waits trash in the form of brightly colored blocks, presumably left over from an intergalactic game of Tetris. These blocks are stuck together in various shapes and sizes, and the player’s job is to touch the larger forms at any point in order to mark them for incineration as the flame trail catches up with each new move forward. Groups of blocks directly touching one another burn from any one being touched, while diagonally placed and stray blocks need to be reached separately.

It all sounds very easy, but a few instant deaths taught me otherwise – and by a few I mean many.

The key ingredient in blaming myself for repeated failure is the fact that the player is responsible for the pacing of the game – nothing happens unless the player moves the ship. As the ship is moved however, a solid bar from the bottom of the screen also moves in turn, and the game ends when that bar touches any garbage not yet burned or the flame trail of the ship.

Flametail

This means that the player must ensure that objects burn up before the line reaches them, and make sure that their own trail is gone in time. And this is the tricky bit that saw me replaying even the first level more times than I care to admit. The additional complication is that the player can’t see the road ahead of the screen in most cases, meaning that there’s many times where the ship can become trapped by its own flame trail in a square prison of doom – not unlike taking the wrong turn on a Tron light cycle.

Power-ups provide some occasional aids to the player, gained from collecting letters on the screen that actually spell out the bonus Wheel of Fortune style. The five words to watch for are RADAR, which provides a much needed glimpse ahead of the player’s position – PUSH, which allows the player to move a single block around – ZAPALL, which destroys all blocks on screen – MISSILE, which fires a blast in the direction the ship is facing – and IGNITE, which ignites all blocks on screen. These latter two power-ups require the player to trigger them manually.

After only one night I’m just getting started with the planetary tour Flametail has to offer, but its deceptively simple and leisurely pace along with the shmup fancied visual style have already made it an easy puzzler to sink into, even if I spent a good chunk of time cursing it last night.

Touring the DSiWare store for the first time in a very long time yesterday, the game certainly stands out as a title that offers a challenge just fresh enough to not warrant the “not another puzzle game” cry I’ve been known to utter in the past.



Flametail
Developer – Mindware
PublisherNintendo
System – Nintendo DSi
Release Date – June 7, 2010
Price – 500 DSi Points

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

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  • http://www.reverbnation.com/ujnhunter Ujn Hunter

    Not that it really matters to me seeing I don’t own a DSi… but is there a “Left Handed” setting in the option menu by any chance?

    • EdEN

      Out of curiosity, what’s keeping you from buying a DSi or an XL?

      • http://www.reverbnation.com/ujnhunter Ujn Hunter

        I already own an original Nintendo DS (Phat) and don’t really like Digital Downloads. So for me… the DSi is not an improvement, but more of a downgrade seeing it doesn’t play GBA games.

    • http://www.gamesugar.net Jamie Love

      checked just now for a left-handed option, that’s a negative.

      • http://www.reverbnation.com/ujnhunter Ujn Hunter

        Really? That’s lame. Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword (the only DS game that I own that uses the DS in a sideways position) has the option to switch orientation for left handed people. See… it’s not just the Wii that is right hand biased! :(

    • Tarot

      The game itself is inherently ambidextrous. You hold the DSi vertically and play using only the +-key (mostly). There is no touch screen controls. Since there is only one way to hold the DSi vertically with the +-key at the bottom, it doesn’t make sense to have any “flip screen” option. You just hold the DSi that way, and play on the +-key using whichever hand you prefer.

      • Ujn Hunter

        Well that works. Thanks for the info! It’s tough being a left handed gamer in this new Motion/Touch age… :( If this game required touch controls with the stylus I’d be SOL.

  • EdEN

    Thanks for the review Jamie. I’ll be downloading the game tonight.

    Tell me Jamie, what DSiware games have you purchased so far?

    • http://www.gamesugar.net Jamie Love

      Thanks for reading it Eden. I grabbed Flametail, X-Scape and Looksey’s lineup last night. Hoping to give x-scape a review before the end of the week. Also after browsing I finally want to grab dark void zero and metal torrent.

      • EdEN

        Dark Void Zero is a great old school 8 bit game. A bit short but it’s only 500 points. Metal Torrent I haven’t tried since I’m not a huge fan of “bullet hell” games.

  • Ben

    Hey, Jamie. Great review! But I have a question. I know it says there are multiple stages within the space tour mode but does each stage have it’s own high score? Or does the whole space tour blur together in one huge, strung together level that keeps your score all the way to the final game over? And what’s the time limit mode like? Thanks!

    Ben

  • JasonBall

    Who knew Disqus was this old?