And Yet It Moves
It’s not often that the phrase ‘cut-and-paste’ can be used to compliment a game’s visuals, but with mind-bending platformer And Yet It Moves this is absolutely the case – the games graphics, you see, are made almost entirely from torn sheets of paper, glued together to construct a game world unlike anything you’ve seen before. That the game-mechanics underneath are equally original makes for an experience that is not only one of the premier games on Nintendo’s WiiWare channel, but also one of the most beguiling titles of recent years.
Originally released in April 2009 on the Mac and PC, And Yet It Moves’ transition to the Wii – and the Wii remote – could not be smoother. In fact, it’s hard to believe that the game wasn’t conceived with the Wii remote in mind, such is the ease with which its gels with the console’s unique capabilities.
Though a platformer at heart, And Yet It Moves shows a degree of ingenuity that manages, at times, to put even the heaviest hitters in the genre in the shade. This is made possible through the implementation of a very simple mechanic – while you do have direct control over your nameless hero (an unnamed pencil-drawn man who looks a little like Fido Dido), running and jumping often come secondary to your ability to freeze time and spin the game world through 360 degrees. With a press of ‘A’ and a quick twist of the Wiimote, the entire world pivots on its axis. Gravity remains constant (down is always down) and your characters’ momentum is left untouched. It’s a concept that is difficult to comprehend without the Wiimote in your hand and even with the controller clasped firmly in your grip it can take some getting used to. With time and practice, however, rotating the world to line up platforms, manipulate loose boulders and activate platforms (amongst other things) becomes second nature. From this impressively robust foundation developer Broken Rules have managed to spin out a dizzying range of permutations.
While the aesthetics throw up plenty to ponder (what is the significance of the visual style? What is the motivation of the scrappily drawn man and why has he been dumped in such a twisted landscape?) And Yet It Moves remains clearly focussed on the gameplay. Even the endlessly fascinating distraction of seeing how the world has been patched together from scraps of paper, blotches of ink, photographs of moss and ferns and childish scribblings can’t overwhelm the strength and subtlety of the gameplay.
At its simplest, world rotation is used to bring platforms that were previously out of reach of your characters’ modest leaping ability within range. A more complex application would be having to leap off a spring board before twisting the world and using the built up momentum to send your character sailing over a vast gap. Throw musically-responsive platforms, marble-maze-esque mini-labyrinths, move-mirroring doppelgangers and hungry chimps into the mix, and you have a title that stretches your brain cells with nearly every step.
With no score or collectibles, your motivation is always to simply reach the end of the level, but Broken Rules have done much to expand the package. Not only are there multiple control systems (the game supports a single Wii-mote, the classic controller, and offers two Wiimote/nunchuck configurations), there are additional modes of play including Limited Rotations (which does exactly what it says), Survival (which limits the number of lives you have) and a range of game-changing adjustments. That many of the latter can only be unlocked by completing certain in-game achievements (of which there are 28) makes for a game that will be challenging you long after you’ve finished the relatively short core game.
This Wii version also has a number of advantages over the Windows/Mac original. Most significantly, you are no longer restricted to 90 degree rotations and, with the immediacy the Wii remote input making for a much more fluid experience. The package also includes an additional three levels.
Unfortunately there are some rough edges – we experienced a few occasions where the frame rate stuttered, and a couple of instances where the character flitted through objects (which, happily, aided us in solving one of the more challenging puzzles…). Luckily these are small blemishes on what is a hugely impressive package.
And Yet It Moves offers both style and substance – when you’re not gawping at the visual insanity that’s gracing your TV screen or soaking up the twitchy, shuffling electro soundtrack, you’re wracking your brain on how to overcome the next obstacle, continuingly having to master new tricks and calling on skills already learnt. While it may be a touch on the short side, it is still a game that has been crafted with a clear and uncompromising vision and we’re happy that it has found a new home and – hopefully – a new audience on the Wii. If you have any interest at all in challenging and original game design, it really is more than worthy of your attention.
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