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Hydroventure

Water way to have a good time

There are some great WiiWare titles lurking in the uncharted depths of the Wii Shop Channel, but unless you know what to look for - or *cough* have a trusty Nintendo magazine to hand - it can be difficult to sort the World Of Goos from the Sexy Pokers.

Especially since Nintendo don't seem to comprehend the importance of demos. Despite this, however, the channel's become a beacon for the kind of experimental, brilliant and just plain weird games that Johnny Microsoft or Billy PlayStation wouldn't touch with a bargepole.

Hydroventure (known as Fluidity in the States) is all of these things and more. It's experimental, it's weird and, more importantly, it's brilliant. It takes a simple idea - the simplest of ideas, really - and milks it for everything it's worth.

Here's that idea, then: you control a blob of water. It doesn't have googly eyes, a badass pair of sunglasses, or even a smart-alec sidekick named Ice. It's simply a blob of water - but, wonderfully, it behaves exactly as such.

H2-OMG
Tilt the remote and the blob will roll to one side, often splitting into smaller blobs that happily go sloshing off if you don't keep track of them.

Flicking the remote causes the mass to jump upwards, scattering it far and wide into any nearby crevices until you learn the explosive gather move, which uses pressure to hold the liquid mass together.

Along the way, you'll use your blob of water to activate switches and waterwheels, extinguish fires, kill 'goop slugs', water plants, and usher stranded goldfish back to their bowls.

Water is as versatile here as it is in real life - you get the sense the developers had a lot of fun designing Hydroventure around its properties, and that infectious feeling is found wherever you look inside the game.

It practically drips from the walls, in fact. Just as you're beginning to tire of sloshing water around, the game adds a device that enables you to transform into a block of ice, complete with its own rule set and special moves. Later on, you can also turn into a cloud, and harness the power of rain and thunderstorms.

The game's minimalist world is structured similarly to Metroid's - all out-of-reach areas and tantalisingly locked doors - which makes these watery powers the equivalents of Samus' grapple beam, morph ball and so on.

But it's to Curve's credit that your move set never feels contrived or clichéd (there's no double-jump, for example); it instead makes perfect sense given the adaptable and multi-talented nature of the all-important wet blue stuff.

As in Metroid, it's a process of empowerment. Your first attempt at a stage merely scratches its surface.

But as your shapeless, runny form gobbles up abilities and Raindrops (think the Power Stars from Super Mario Galaxy), you gradually reveal more and more of the game's four sizeable environments by besting their lava pits and pressure switches with the ever-increasing strength of your watery mass.

LI-QUIDS IN...
Enemies are mere obstacles that don't pose any serious threat, so the majority of the game involves puzzles, and lots of them.

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