The human body is 70 per cent water: you're basically a puddle that got lucky. Spin Cycle, a 3DS eShop sequel to the ace WiiWare game Hydroventure, is about a puddle that didn't. Without the third or so that turns us from precipitation to precipi-person, Spin Cycle's sentient slosh, Eddy (ho ho), is slave to 3DS' gyro-controlled gravity. Tilting the handheld dribbles him around 2D mazes, guiding him towards trapped rainbow sprites. And that's only the levels with gravity.
Curve's big 3DS addition is 360 spinning. What would have proved too spatially baffling on a static TV is doable on a handheld: turn the machine upside down and the screen goes with it. Your dignity goes with it, too. Ever tried playing an upside down 3DS on a train? People tend to look at you like you're the village idiot. And woe betide anyone who plays with headphones - it's quite possible to garrotte yourself in more frantic stages.
The gyroscopes handle it admirably, never losing their position despite being thrown all over the place. Whether your mind is made of similarly stern stuff is between you and your GCSE grades. Much of the game's success is owed to Curve's careful balancing of realistic physics and gaming sense. While spraying from nozzles or snaking through cracks captures the wild uncontrollability of water, the option to jump or clump the puddle together keep Eddy on a tight arcade leash. Wii U eShops's similar Puddle could learn a thing or two.
Navigation is just one part of puzzles that can involve ferrying items, activating switches, guiding bigger objects with your tilts and, in many cases, changing physical state. Freezing into an ice cube or boiling into vapour brings new properties and skills. The magic touch is that each form is satisfying in its own right, whether you're wafting lonely as a cloud, or smashing through walls like an Incredible Hulk-flavoured ice lolly. And a constant drip (really? - Ed)) of new powers ensures the fun keeps coming.
It doesn't all work. Platforming with an ice cube is about as frustrating as, well, trying to guide a slippery cube over tiny platforms. And the boss battles - four variations on a theme - are completely out of place.
It pales in comparison to pulling off moves on an upside-down 3DS. Flip a 3DS and fingers no longer sit by the buttons. Replicating the buttons on the touchscreen makes them a slightly easier target, but it still means raising a hand/wrist/arm in front of the screen.
It doesn't ruin the game, but your heart does sink when you see a new stage is a full-spinner (the split is half/half). It's a blip in an otherwise improved sequel. Dividing the game into 60 stages is the best innovation - it removes the original's backtracking and turns each course into a devious skill challenge as you collect bonus drops within a strict time limit. Just beating the 60 takes a good ten hours; doing so with five star ratings will double it.
The human body is 70 per cent water, but after ten hours with Spin Cycle it'll be closer to 10. You'll sweat it out as you teeter along cliff-edges and you'll lose it to specks of rage spittle, but most is lost to tears of joy.
Hydroventure: Spin Cycle is one of ONM's best 3DS eShop games