Whinier gamers often complain that there are no new ideas out there. They sorta have a point: Can you name a single major title this year that wasn’t a sequel? But in a more incisive way, those people are just lazy. Case in point: Where Is My Heart?, the new PSP Mini game out of the wildly creative Copenhagen Game Collective that makes a strong case for remembering and exhuming both Sony’s portable and the Mini format.
WIMH? belongs to a rising tide of games from a genre that’s difficult to articulate, like any number of other games that are truly inspired, but also sound single-malt insane when recounted simply. WIMH? is about a family of monsters who, lost in the woods, must retrieve their hearts by forming differently sorted totem poles so they can transform into giant world-rotating galloping teeth, bioluminescent antlered beasts that can double-jump or shoot small pools of light to expose the evil that lurks beneath friendly gargantuan mushrooms.
It’s strongly reminiscent of Blizzard’s old SNES strategy-puzzler The Lost Vikings. Except the monsters have no abilities or strong suits individually, but they can stand on each other’s shoulders at designated spots to activate the aforementioned superpowers. Players will need to use those powers strategically, because getting those hearts is difficult. Each stage consists of square panels that aren’t actually connected: Walking left to right might have you pop from the lower-left corner of the screen to the top, and then off to the left again.
Though WIMH? gently nudges you through its easier levels to let you get your bearings, it quickly gets brazenly disorienting, since the only way to figure your way out of each puzzle is through trial and error—with an emphasis on error. As the stages grow larger and take up more and more of the screen, the inevitable epiphany of how to pass through the level arrives later and later, but correspondingly becomes that much more satisfying.
On the other hand, that means the game is also a bit one-note. It’s an incredibly interesting note, but still, there isn’t much variation as you work your way through all 26 levels. The first difficulty spike comes around level 15, but even then, that’s just 11 levels of misery after 14 levels of tasty, easily digestible game-cake. But then that’s the purpose of the overlooked Mini format, no?