Yin Yang

Oct 9

Yin Yang Screenshot
Yin Yang is a new game from Nitrome that appears to be based on one of Sean Howard’s ‘Three Hundred Game Mechanics’, Negative Space.

I immediately recognized the game mechanic from The Three Hundred, and was impressed that someone had actually taken one of the ideas and produced such a polished game from it. There was a lot of buzz about The Three Hundred a while ago, and while I noticed that Sean stated on the site that anyone could use the ideas, I wondered if anything would ever come out of them.

The concept is brilliant. A white character lives in a world with black sky and white ground. The white ground from that world is actually the sky for another character, who is black and walks on the black sky from the other world. In Yin Yang the player controls both characters, alternating between the two by pressing the space bar. This inversion becomes really interesting in later levels where the gravity of the two worlds is also transposed, so a deep valley in one world becomes a giant mountain when the character is changed and the worlds flip.

Screenshot of moving platform/tunnel
Nitrome keeps most of the elements described in Sean’s outline: movable boxes, ladders, and a goal flag that each character must reach to complete the level. They also do a great job of adding new elements. Moving boxes create a tricky platform for one character and a sliding tunnel for the other (above). There are portals for transporting a box from one world to another, and even switches that will flip the gravity for the current character. Some levels also feature switches that one character must stand on in order to open a door for the character in the other world.

Yang opens a passageway for Yin
It’s interesting to see how Nitrome addressed some of the problems that Sean pointed out in his description of the idea. Sean expressed concern that the objects in one world would create an impassable barrier for the other character. He talked about giving the characters the ability to pass ‘in front’ of certain objects, like ladders, to get around this limitation. One of the greatest things about the finished game is the ability to create a passageway through one world by strategically placing boxes to create a solid barrier/passageway.

Pushing a box through a portal
The game features really great character designs as well. Yin and Yang look like big bald babies that will get bored and fall asleep if you play as the other character for too long. When switching between the two, the current character announces himself with a high-pitched ‘Yin’ or ‘Yang’.

I only have two real gripes about this game: First, if one of the characters dies during a level, you have to start over from the beginning of the level. I see this game mainly as a puzzle game; the challenge is trying to figure out the correct sequence of actions to move each character to the goal. I don’t like that even if I’ve figured out the solution to the puzzle, I can be thwarted by a poorly timed jump, and have to repeat the entire level.
Second, the game is really buggy. Often, jumping on the worms will not kill them, but will instead harm you. Weird things can also happen if you allow a box from one world to fall into the hole created by a box from the opposing world.

Nevertheless, the game presents an interesting mechanic and gives me a lot of good ideas for my own world flipping game concept Donut Drop

Play Yin Yang