Offering an experience that’s closer to taking part in a genteel animated film than a big-budget, live-action movie, the first thing one notices playing Flip’s Twisted World is that the introductory premise is not conveyed through cinema-like cutscenes, but through a series of tableaux, at least as wittily drawn as a minor Pixar movie, though without much of the eccentricity of even the most minor Miyazaki productions. If anything, Flip’s Twisted World bears the closest resemblance to Ponyo, though, unlike Miyazaki’s film, the game’s strangeness feels contained, safely contextualized within the threadbare narrative.
After several passages of setup and initial exploration, the game’s most distinguishing feature comes to the fore: the “twist” function that allows the hero to rotate each segment of Flip’s adventure. Predictably, this action plays an important part in solving puzzles and obstacles, to which there is usually only one solution. In terms of design, the player is asked to accept a world of rather self-conscious absurdity (after laying out a piece of exposition, a character remarks, “I don’t know how I know that”), with physical laws that are few but unbreakable.
Apart from that, the game seems to derive modest success from its modest charm and modest visual imagination. Younger children will be pulled along by the impulse to complete the adventure, which is not too difficult. Most pleasing to adult players—for for me, at least—is the fact that the game doesn’t depend at all on any popular movie or book series, or even other video games. True, the figure-on-a-3D-landscape design has been around for several years, and the collection of gold coins is as much of a video-game warhorse as anything else, but the designers seem to have channeled all their energy into providing a gameplay experience that is relatively pure in the absence of a related franchise. To say it doesn’t reinvent the wheel is an understatement, but to call this feisty, funny game derivative doesn’t sink it either.