Revolutionary: On the Edge

Mike sylvester
M. sylvester|11.20.08

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Mike sylvester
November 20th, 2008
Revolutionary: On the Edge

Nintendo fans have been practicing parkour with their very own platforming princess since the 8-bit days. Now it seems another traceuse is stepping in on the territory Samus pioneered. On the surface, it doesn't seem as if Mirror's Edge has very much in common with the Metroid franchise. Yet,the respective series heroines' exploits can be experienced and enjoyed in either first person 3D or 2D sidescrolling viewpoints.

Mirror's Edge 2D is currently in the beta stages of development with its destined platforms still unannounced. It hasn't yet got any of the fascist oppressors seen in the 3D version, but they'd only get in the way of the acrobatics that are on impressive display here. Rarely do we get to control such fluid and graceful 2D animation, and it makes the treat all the more delectable when you get to do it with a Wii Remote.

When Mirror's Edge 2D's development is finalized, like it's 3D counterpart, it probably won't have you running rampant on a killing spree. You may instead be challenged to avoid confrontation with whatever enemies will eventually be placed in your urban playground, using a repertoire of climbing, rolling, sliding and jumping maneuvers. This platformer is almost like Sonic in how the fun is not so much in the collecting, exploring, and combat as it is in just trying to move through a level as quickly and gracefully as possible. Even though the superb animation does a lot to mask it, using a keyboard to control a character as agile as Faith feels sort of stiff and unresponsive. It's funny how often I struggle to play a game with a keyboard and think to myself, "I bet this would work so much better with my Wiimote!" While I don't always win that bet, I believe I did with ME2D.

Would you like to try it for yourself? Well, just copy and paste these seven lines of code into GlovePIE and start running!

Up = (Wiimote.SmoothPitch > 35) //Pitch up to wall run, climb
S = Wiimote.A //Jump
Down = Wiimote.B //Crouch, roll, slide
Left = Wiimote.SmoothRoll < -20 //Tilt left to move left
Right = Wiimote.SmoothRoll > 20 //Tilt right to move right

M = Wiimote.Up
//Toggle music
Shift + P + I + E = Wiimote.Home //Stop script running

I toyed with the idea of using only motion controls to move around, but testing proved that to be unreliable -- largely in part to my inability to process the thoughts for flicking the Wiimote in a direction while simultaneously rolling it in another. I can't walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, either. I resorted to having Faith's upward and downward motions controlled by the A and B buttons respectively, similar to how those controls are mapped to upper and lower shoulder buttons on the HD consoles' controllers. It's fairly intuitive, and combined with motion controls for left and right movement, you can keep Faith's momentum going for perfectly timed long jumps, and to skid to a stop for high jumps. I couldn't get the timing right to pull off a high jump for the life of me with just the keyboard, but using the Wiimote brings all of those formerly unreachable areas within grasp.

Mirror's Edge 2D is being developed by Borne Games, in partnership with the 3D version's publisher, EA. The version I played was 06, but at the time of this column's publishing, the beta had already been upgraded to version 08. It's impossible to tell what impact the inclusion of enemies will have on the flow of gameplay, and some more controls will have to be mapped for defense and attacks, but this beta has given a glimpse of a game that could easily be brought to the Wii (as WiiWare perhaps?) and enhance the spirit of its gameplay themes through use of motion controls.

Every other week, Mike Sylvester brings you REVOLUTIONARY, a look at the wide world of Wii possibilities. And sometimes that world is made of goo. We hope EA and Borne Games will follow the example of developers 2D Boy, who brought their flash-rooted property, World of Goo to Wiiware. If you're still not convinced that flash and Wiiware are a match made in virtual heaven, also check out our review of Defend Your Castle.

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