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The 3DS library gets a little weirder with these quirky eShop games (preview)

Nintendo’s 3DS eShop is home to a diverse bunch of downloadable games. With a mix of classics, recent releases, and a growing presence of titles from independent developers, you never know what you’re going to get when the store updates every week.

A recent showcase of upcoming eShop titles only strengthens that belief. Fluidity: Spin Cycle, Ikachan, and Tokyo Crash Mobs all offer unusual experiences for your 3D-enabled handheld. With the exception of Fluidity (out on December 27), Nintendo doesn’t have any specific release dates or price points for these games just yet.

Fluidity: Spin Cycle

Fluidity: Spin Cycle

A sequel to Curve Studio’s 2010 WiiWare game Fluidity, Fluidity: Spin Cycle is a physics-based puzzler that has you guiding a body of water through a series of obstacles. This time you’re using the built-in gyro and motion sensors on the 3DS to move the water around, while you activate your various powers on the touch screen by holding down the virtual buttons. The only ability I saw temporarily held the water together in one place, which is useful for turning on the many weight-sensitive switches you’ll find in the game.

I only played a handful of the beginning chapters, so puzzles didn’t feel very challenging, especially if you take your time — the point of each level is to grab the rainbow-colored water droplet at the other side, and if you get to it before the clock ticks down to zero, you’ll get a higher score. I found it kind of soothing to ignore the timer completely as I became preoccupied with flipping the 3DS 360 degrees to explore the more hard-to-reach areas.

Ikachan 3DS

Ikachan

Ikachan comes from the mind of Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya, the one-man team behind the celebrated indie hit Cave Story. Amaya originally released this Cave Story spinoff for free on the PC in 2000 (which you can still play). In Ikachan, you control a squid who has woken up in a small corner of the ocean ruled by a nefarious fish known as Ironhead. Crustaceans and other denizens of the sea serve as enemies, while sharp pieces of coral reef and blocked passageways prevent you from escaping.

With an open-ended world and some non-playable characters to talk to, Ikachan plays like a slower-paced Legend of Zelda game, right down to a row of hearts serving as your life bar. You earn experience points and levels by eating the blue fish or defeating enemies, and you become stronger by finding new items to equip — the first being a pointy hat that allows you to vertically destroy blocks and enemies (you’ll need another object to attack horizontally).

The gameplay is simple but engaging, in part due to the lighthearted aesthetic and atmosphere it shares with Cave Story. I enjoyed just swimming around to see how big Ikachan’s world really is — it’ll take about two and a half to three hours to finish it on your first playthrough.

Tokyo Crash Mob 3DS

Tokyo Crash Mobs

“I’m just gonna let you go. Follow what’s happening and just let it happen.” These were the words a Nintendo representative told me before handing over a 3DS loaded with Tokyo Crash Mobs. After a few minutes, I understood why: The game is a little weird. You have to eliminate “scenesters” or cliques — who stand patiently in an organized line — by tossing or rolling a person wearing the same colored outfit. To do this, you drag the 3DS stylus on the touch screen as if you’re pulling back on a slingshot, and then lifting it once you find a target.

Three or more colored matches takes the group out of the line, and you can easily create combos by clearing them in quick succession. But this isn’t the only activity in Tokyo Crash Mobs. A loose narrative that appears purposefully incomprehensible tells the story of two women: Grace (the thrower, pictured above) and Savannah (the roller), each with their own events. Sometimes they can team up, as they did in another minigame I played, where the duo fought against a small army of brightly colored ninjas using their throwing and rolling skills.

It was definitely bizarre, and I laughed a few times at its ridiculous, and confusing, premise. I don’t think any words do this game justice — it’s just something you’ll have to play for yourself.


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