WARP, bless em, really got behind the 3DO and when they weren’t busy making D (on Amigas!) they tried out all sorts of crazy ideas, including this puzzle game that can only really be described as “unhinged”.
Flopon-kun’s a puzzle game that’s roughly along the same sort of lines as Puyo Puyo, so as you’d expect the basics involve chaining together four of the same blocks in any non-diagonal pattern to make them disappear. You do need to be a bit careful and not pile too many of the same block together as in those instances they’ll form a large colour-coordinated character that can only be popped by destroying a chain of four of their matching block next to them. After a bit (I’m still not entirely sure if it’s to do with your score, time passed, or the amount of blocks destroyed) the bottom three rows disappear and you move up a level – although this appears to be exactly the same as the one you just finished as there are no CPU opponents or any other noticeable differences.
Flopon-kun’s main gimmick is the way you manipulate the blocks – rather than rotate them around each other like Puyo or flip through them vertically like Columns you instead “bend” them, going through straight and L-shaped arrangements in a clockwise or anticlockwise rotation depending on which button you press.
That’s about it for the single player mode – there’s no attempt to create any personality or characters beyond the ones used for the blocks (the cat-blob, two-headed purple thing and… the other two) and no story mode to engage with so it’s charitably a “pure” puzzle game for puzzling’s sake. There’s also a two player mode for social Flopon-ing, although it’s really more playing a single player game next to somebody else than a competitive experience.
A quick flip through the main menu reveals an omake (bonus) section that’s home to three playable toys - we’ll get to those in a moment – and three FMV movies (trailers for D and Totsugeki Kikan (Karakuri) Megadasu!!, and a delightfully lo-fi and raw video of the WARP team introducing themselves). “Toy” might sound like an insult but it’s just a statement fact; these things are meant to be a simple item for you to play with and not a game in their own right, and that’s why Dance Tengoku, Oyaji Hunter, and Hataage Daigaku are even stranger than the already rather odd regular puzzle game. This is one of those instances where I’ll let the pictures do the talking, because if I try to explain what’s going on here I’m pretty sure it’ll just make things worse.
Once you cut through WARP’s signature weirdness the game is ultimately an average puzzle game with a lot of odd things in it but no real character or substance. Still, it’s always a pleasure to play even an average WARP game because they’re one of very few developers who made exactly what they wanted to make, and everyone else had the option of getting on board or going away.
If you’re determined to play a slice of WARP-ed puzzle gaming I’d suggest a look at this game’s sequel Flopon World – released in the US as Trip’d - I haven’t played it myself, but it appears to address all the issues I’ve mentioned above and offer a more robust puzzling experience.