Game Name: Mighty Milky Way
Platform(s): Nintendo DSiWare
Release Date: May 9, 2011 (US) May 27, 2011 (EU)
Price: 800 Points ($8 US)
Back in 2009, Wayforward released an instant cult classic onto the DSiWare by the name of Mighty Flip Champs. The game was a puzzle-platformer which utilized stage design to offer variety as players flipped the entire stage to find a path out of each level. Two years later, Wayforward have released a bit of a successor to Mighty Flip Champs with Mighty Milky Way. Instead of being a true sequel though, Mighty Milky Way offers completely different gameplay mechanics with a new heroine to guide through each out-of this-world stage. How does this new entry into Wayforward’s resume measure up compared to past releases? Here is my review for Mighty Milky Way.
When starting up Mighty Milky Way, there is no way you can ignore Luna, the main character player’s must guide through each stage. Not only is Luna a little green alien with a lot of spunk, she is also French and speaks it fluently during the game. Luna’s main goal is to make it to the warp point located on each planet filled stage, later going on to fight a dapper T-Rex at the end of each area as she aims to complete her “secret mission”.
Luna is a sheer delight to control as with such a simple plot, the vibrant nature of her character made the whole game feel fun and lighthearted all the way through. Most characters just die when they meet their doom. Luna actually stops, speaks a charming little phrase in French and then parishes. When you complete a stage, Luna stops to blow the player a kiss as a thank you, which is as adorable and rewarding as it sounds. Wayforward seem to know how to create characters like this, and while Luna isn’t exactly an in-depth portrayal, she certainly will make you want to fight to finish Mighty Milky Way to the end based on personality alone.
The way Mighty Milky Way actually plays is honestly like nothing I have ever seen before and is honestly a bit hard to write down a paper due to it’s complex nature. Mighty Milky Way is a bit of a puzzle-platformer. Instead of actually controlling Luna, players must act as a gravitational guide as they pull the heroine from one planet to the next, eventually pulling her into the warp point goal at the end of each stage. This may sound simple, but this game relies heavily on proper timing, requiring a lot of thought-out strategy and planning ahead to succeed.
To accomplish this mission, the touch screen is used to quickly create planets for Luna to jump to. Every time you collect a piece of candy, an extra planet can be created which will pull Luna into it’s orbit. Once Luna is on the planet, she will walk around it in a clockwise fashion until you give the planet a tap, pulsing the planet and launching her into the direction she was facing at the time. If you launch Luna without a planet for her to safely land on, she eventually will keep floating and fly straight into a barrier on the stage, one that usually kills the player instantly.
Most levels are designed with a few planets ready to be orbited, with an end-level warp point usually being located in a blank space on the other side of the map. To get to this destination, a set number of planetary candy are scattered throughout each area which makes the main objective of each level to collect every piece found as candy is crucial for creating the next platform to land on. To make things tricky, if Luna pulsates off the same planet twice, it is destroyed instantly. Thankfully the game is ready for this as planning ahead is made easy due the main map located on the top screen as well as a zoom function added in with the Up and Down buttons on the D-Pad. Creating a planet is done by tapping in a blank space with the stylus. Holding down the stylus instantly controls the size of the planet you are creating. At certain times, a different sized planet is needed so yet again, this is an element the player must think out a bit as if the planet is too large or a bit too close to the edge, Luna might walk right into a barrier. Barriers are not all bad though as some walls are made out of a bouncy material, letting Luna pounce off the walls of a stage to collect candy or to fly to a new area of the map.
To mix things up a bit more, some planets have enemies roaming about which kill at the touch. Since there is no way to actually kill an enemy aside from destroying the planet they inhabit, they must be avoided. Using the left and right buttons on the D-Pad, Luna has different speed settings which can speed up or completely stop her walking pace to assist with this and for most enemies this does the job fine. Later on, enemies with other abilities introduce themselves, requiring new techniques to avoid and upping the challenge greatly. Other gameplay elements are also added in during later levels of the game, changing the gravitational pull gameplay with tele-portals and cannons that are used to create different means of planetary travel. Those wanting variety in gameplay will not feel hungry during Mighty Milky Way as each stage feels distinctly different from the next, making each new area a feel like whole new experience.
Each area as I mentioned is made up of 10 stages in all, and at the end of each you are greeted by a T-Rex boss that uses a laser to destroy planets that Luna is gleefully walking on. Boss battles work a bit the same as standard stages but with a much greater threat that increases the intensity to work and think faster. Overall, Mighty Milky Way is one of Wayforward’s most challenging offerings to date that requires thought and strategy to complete and because of this, every time I completed a stage I felt that much more rewarded at the end. After you complete the game, a time-bomb mode is unlocked which doesn’t really change the way the game is played, but increases the challenge dramatically by adding in a timed approach.
Visually, Mighty Milky Way isn’t going to win awards with it’s graphics as they are a bit pixelated at times. However, the bright colors and personality are displayed vividly throughout each “universe” Luna traverses through, making each area unique in it’s own way, from smoldering hot settings to sunshine lit backdrops. Luna is a charming little protagonist as well, which shows through in her bubbly sprite and animations as she struts upon each planet.
The music in this game is exceptional, from tunes that are a throw-back to many 16-bit classics as well as the main theme that Luna sings herself. Wayforward were genius in making Luna French as well as it adds a lot of depth to her character. I had no clue what the little alien was spurting out when she died, but each time I usually cracked a smile as there is a lot of personality in her voice that makes even the most frustrating of levels feel oddly calming and enjoyable.
Mighty Milky Way is an interesting and welcome addition to the DSiWare as the whole concept and gameplay mechanics introduced feel completely original and unique. I sat trying to think of any games to compare this title with but honestly I can’t come up with any as this gem truly stands on it’s own legs in just about every way. With the bubby character of Luna to the vibrant galaxies to explore, Wayforward have introduced yet another DSiWare title that feels like a cartridge release. Mighty Milky Way may look like a simple game from afar, but the complexity and thought that was added into the level design gives the game a thick layer of strategy, enhancing the rewards for completion ten fold and giving birth to yet another Mascot on the DSiWare.
I Give Mighty Milky Way: