Day 155: 萌めくり (Moe Mekuri)

Posted: 2011/04/13 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #155, and today’s game is “萌めくり (Moe Mekuri)”.

萌めくり, better known outside Japan as Moe Mekuri, has achieved a reputation as the game where you can solve puzzles to reveal drawings of women wearing swimsuits. In some ways that’s a shame, it’s almost a distraction from how good a puzzle game this is at its core. In fact, I would have picked up this game a lot earlier if not for that fact, I feared that the game was trying too hard and perhaps using the titillation to make up for a below-average puzzler. I shouldn’t have worried, the gameplay is fantastic and the swimsuits are completely extraneous to the gameplay.

First, from the developer (kohei):

“This game is as simple as just flipping all the panels to face up. Can you pass all the stages and add the girls’ illustrations to the gallery? With the upgrade version, after beating all the stages including the SPECIAL, you can move the breasts of the images for the HARD level in the GALLERY.”

Tile flipping games aren’t new, but Moe Mekuri adds a lot of wrinkles that make it fresh. Click any normal tile and it will flip, as will its four immediate neighbours. Tiles with blue frames flip twice when directly clicked (swapping their neighbours, but then reseting themselves). Grey tiles cannot be clicked and must be flipped by getting an adjacent tile to do the dirty work for you. Green tiles flip the entire adjacent column and row. And just when you get the hang of dealing with all the special tiles, the board keeps getting bigger with each new difficulty level to advance the challenge.

There is a “soft limit” timer. The level does not end when the timer runs out, letting you experiment and find the solution. To have the level officially solved, though, you must complete it within the time limit. If you get stumped you can move on to another puzzle within the current difficulty level you’re working on, but you’ll have to eventually come back and successfully complete the levels you skipped if you want to move onto the next difficulty.

The presentation of the game is excellent, with nicely animated tile flips. The artwork that is intended as your “reward” for clearing levels is colourful and well drawn, and for the most part nothing racier than what you could see in the swimsuit section of a department store’s catalogue. The game offers both Japanese and English language options, and a tutorial that will bring you up to speed, among other options. Come for the promise of titillation if you must, but stay for the quality puzzle gaming as that’s the real reason to spend your 80 Microsoft Points on Moe Mekuri.

Click here to download “萌めくり (Moe Mekuri)”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.

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