A Flash From the Past
When, in July 2017, Adobe announced that they would stop supporting Flash Player at the end of 2020, millions of gamers had the same thought: “But what about my Flash games?”
In its heyday, from 1995 to 2014, Flash was the preeminent animation player on the Internet. A vast number of browser games were created, mainly in Flash, to be played through web browsers without the need for additional software. Most of them were simple and free to play.
The original developer Gal Mamalya teamed up with publisher Second Maze to resurrect Mitoza.
Some Flash games, like Bloons and Bejeweled, proved addictive and successful. Others, like Club a Seal and Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, were tasteless and regrettable. Most, in accordance with Sturgeon’s Law, were forgettable. But a few, like Mitoza, turned out to be true works of art.
Fortunately, the senescence of Flash has not doomed every Flash game. Bejeweled may technically be gone, but you can find a near-identical experience in a number of places.
In a similar vein, the original developer Gal Mamalya teamed up with publisher Second Maze to resurrect Mitoza. The surreal indie adventure game is back as a free to play (or name-your-own-price) game on the Google Play Store, Itch.io, and Steam. It’s even, ironically, available on the Apple App Store - for the first time, since Steve Jobs famously rejected Flash in 2010.
“It's Not a Game, It's a Toy.”
Developer Gal Mamalya released Mitoza in 2011. Mamalya had been designing games for corporate clients such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Mazda, and Unilever. But Mitoza was a passion project which he created on his own time. “Mitoza” is Hebrew for “mitosis,” which speaks to the game’s themes on the cycle of life.
Mamalya claims that Mitoza isn’t really a video game at all, but something more like a toy. He argues that a game needs to provide the player with a goal and obstacles to overcome in order to reach that goal. Mitoza provides neither.
Rather, it provides a branching story. Each time, you can take a different path and see what happens - but you always end up back at the beginning.
Choices and Cycles
The player is presented with a spotlit image. The first one is a seed. You have two choices, represented by icons to the left and right of the image. Choose one, and something related to the image will happen - but the action and the result are always surprising. They follow a dream logic which makes a certain sense in hindsight, but can’t be predicted in advance.
Each choice leads to two new choices - until the end, when you’re back to the seed. Time to start over.
However, your path does not go unmarked. In a nod to modern gaming sensibilities, Second Maze has added achievements. Now you can look back at the record of the previous journeys you’ve taken and endings you’ve reached.
You’re probably not playing a ten-year-old Flash game to witness cutting-edge graphics. But Gal Mamalya and Second Maze’s remastered sound and video provide an elegant and engaging experience. The look and sound convey a sense of wonder and whimsy which carries you through, curious about what happens next.
A Short, Strange Trip
Mitoza is an experience not to be missed for anyone who’s interested in the rich storytelling potential of interactive media. That said, it might be better to think of it less as a story than as a joke.
It’s a joke in the same way that surrealist art is. It makes wild connections and challenges you to make sense of them. Sometimes it makes visual puns, sometimes it’s just being silly.
Mitoza is unique, surprising, and pervaded with gentle humor. It’s a quick trip, and one well worth taking a few times.