Sony may not have a definitive mascot outside of Japan, but the company houses some unforgettable characters. Already quite popular is Sackboy, the hero of a game that spawned more creative ideas than many games this generation. On paper, Little Deviants looks to channel a similar novelty by virtue of using nearly every single feature in the Vita’s arsenal. Could the alien critters in Little Deviants soon join the ranks of Sony’s other heroes? If the quality of the actual game is any indicator, they’re best left forgotten.
Ignoring that the game is intended to showcase the Vita’s hardware, this is a rather run of the mill minigame collection starring particularly cutesy aliens referred to as deviants. Your overall goal is to restore the parts of a broken spaceship to send the deviants home after a crash landing. This is done by achieving high scores in the games you play, thus unlocking more games and widening the scope of potential ship parts to obtain. There’s very little in the way of narrative, but the gibberish-spouting characters do a decent job of explaining things through slapstick comedy.
In theory, these games are so simple they should work. Some games will have you skydiving using the tilt sensor, rolling around in ball form by using the rear touchpad, or knocking robots out of windows by tapping the screen with dextrous reflexes. They’re not really worth discussing in detail, since they have the approximate depth of a Mario Party minigame, but within three plays, you should have a respectable mastery.
Unfortunately, even with a pool of 30 games, many of them serve merely as alternate modes or extra levels of ones you’ve already played in disguise. Even if many of them weren’t redundant, there still wouldn’t be much to see here, especially since your skills often carry over from one game to the next.
Since the purpose of the game is to show off the Vita, does the game do an effective job of showing practical uses for them? Frankly, it often ends up doing the opposite. The camera, microphone, tilt sensor, rear touchpad et al manage to make the experience more troublesome than it should be.
I found myself frequently wrestling with the controls, most notably when the rear touchpad or tilt sensor came into play. One game requires you to move your little deviant around by pressing the rear touchpad to manipulate the ground ala Super Monkey Ball, but the accuracy offered leaves much to be desired. In a similar vein, several minigames require tight turns at high speeds with little to no time to react. It doesn’t help that you have to tilt the system using dubious accuracy to pull of these turns. It’s not even so much that the games are difficult – I was able to obtain more than a few gold medals – but merely frustrating.
Earlier I cited Mario Party as an example of how much depth you can expect from each game. The main difference between the aforementioned title is not only the higher quality of the games on offer there, but the amount of content as well. Little Deviants has a grand total of about 30 games, which may seem like a lot initially, but it’s difficult to justify repeat plays once you’ve attained a gold spaceship in each. Considering the moderate level of difficulty in most, that shouldn’t take too long. Beyond replaying the games (of which many are questionable), there’s not much longevity to speak of.
Aesthetically and musically, the game is quite competent. The characters, though simple, have a reasonable amount of charm with their basic designs. The music is nothing to write home about, but feels at home within the realm of the world itself. You’re not going to be blown away, but that was never the goal here.
Little Deviants stands out among the Vita launch titles in that it actually feels one. Whereas several of the other games succeed at doing what they should for their respective franchises, Deviants has the hefty task of trying to usher in practical uses for all the features whilst establishing a new property. Most of the games here are at least playable, but it’s still a rather barebones and forgettable collection that won’t last much longer than a week. Either way, the deviants are off to an unfortunate start.
I apologise in advance that this following piece is going to be a bit of light academic discussion (I hope it provokes some conversation in the comments!), but I do believe that if games are going to be taken seriously as art, then they should be treated as such, and analysed as such.
Ahh racing games. The thrill of having the imaginative wind flow through your hair. Turning your controller thinking it has some effect on your driving ability. International Super Karts, released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005, creates a mix between high-powered V8 fueled racing and go-karts, and fails to deliver.
So I’ve had the chance to sit down and spend some real time with the PlayStation Vita. In short, I absolutely love the console – it really does offer everything I like to play around with on my consoles, and the power of the thing is honestly amazing.
But there are six major reasons I really love the console. The Dual Sticks? Nice, but as I’m not a big fan of FPSers, not a massive deal. The rear touch screen? A nice gimmick, but perhaps longer term a gimmick that developers are going to forget about. The advanced augmented reality? I like the free games, but like gyro controls, I’m not a fan of the experiences those games usually offer.
No, for me there’s six other reasons. Here’s why I think the Vita can be the best handheld console of all time:
Donald Duck; there are just not enough games out there that star Disney’s most famous duck. With a horrible speech impediment and a nasty temper, Donald is still one of the most endearing cartoon characters in history, and thanks to the PS2 classics, now we can play one of his better games.
Collectorz.com’s Game Collector solves one of the (few) downsides to digitally downloadable games; that you end up with a library of games that you don’t have sitting on a shelf. This can at times make it hard to keep track of everything that you own, especially if you’ve got multiple consoles and stuff stored on a range of devices.
I’ve played a few of the Gamebook Adventures series of iPad games, and they’ve been universally of a high quality. The newest one in the series, Infinite Universe doesn’t do anything really different in terms of mechanics, but it is a very different story, worth a new look for fans of the previous games.
Crazy Cheebo: Puzzle Party arrived on the DSiWare scene midway through last year. Springing up as yet another Match 3 Puzzle game on the system, Cypronia's title faces stiff competition from titles such as “A Little Bit Of... Puzzle League” and “Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords” and unfortunately, it simply doesn't stand up well against its challengers.
It seems to be a constant; another Sony gaming device, another Hot Shots Golf game. As such, it would be all too easy to ignore the first golf game on the Vita, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you pass up the latest sequel. World Invitational offers more bang “fore” your buck than prior instalments, with charming characters and visuals to boot.
It’s hard to expect all that from the basic game of golf, but Hot Shots pulls you in with its simple charm before drowning you in the multifarious details of the sport. After picking the character of your preference and your choice of ball and club, it’s time to swing for the fences.
The first few courses ease you in with simple design that any amateur can complete without much golf knowledge. It’s just the basic process of aiming, selecting your power, and putting on the green. Over the long haul, though, this game gets fiendishly difficult and borderline frustrating. You need to take into account a number of different factors for every single swing you make, namely wind, spin, where the ball will roll, and bunker locations. If you botch just one course in the higher league tournaments, you’re all but finished.
And yet, the challenge in World Invitational feels warranted and any failure is always because you overlooked something. The game gives you a variety of ways to take into account the variables, such as an overhead view of obstacles, number statistics, the “flow” of the green, and the wind direction. If you’re really stuck, you can flick on easy mode to make your opponents play poorly or grind for money by replaying older courses. That way you can afford better equipment or a new character that better suits the testing course up ahead.
Characters can also be visually customized to your liking. It’s actually quite engaging to dress up your golfer and this helps add your own flavour to them in lieu of the lack of a full-fledged creation system. You can even customize the lobby character, which then serves as your online avatar when exploring the e-hub.
I mentioned this earlier, but World Invitational is absolutely dripping with content. The game contains a points system that rewards players with cash to spend at the shop. From there, you can buy new characters, courses, golf clubs, costumes, music tracks, and more. Nearly everything is locked from the get-go, so that leaves at least a hundred items of various prices to be obtained.
On top of that, you’ll want to obtain a perfect crown on each of the Challenge Mode levels so you can unlock even more tourneys. Doing this is no easy feat – many require you to have near-flawless playing for nine to eighteen consecutive courses. If you want to perfect the game, you can expect to be playing six months from now. When you do master it, there’s even a mode that removes the ability to view the statistics so as to entirely immerse you in the game of golf.
World Invitational is reasonably friendly in terms of the ability to pick up and play, but a mid-tourney save function would have been rather welcome. At least you can suspend the game via the Vita itself, but it’s a bit inconvenient.
Strangely enough, there are more than a few songs that comprise the soundtrack, despite this being the quiet sport of golf. Many of them are bland filler or uninspired, but now and then you’ll stumble across a fine tune. The sounds too are pleasant; at least until you hear the caddies speak. The voices of caddies tend be rather grating, albeit still tolerable. I feel it would have been more effective to use the voices of the characters themselves and only when it’s a reaction to your performance.
Fancy visuals were equally as unnecessary as the music, but boy do they look good here. The cartoony style of the characters is the source of personality in the series, and World Invitational is no exception, but it takes this further than the PSP entry by making the world itself seem that much richer.
I'm not exaggerating when I say Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational is the best golf game I’ve ever played. If you only pick up one launch title, this is the perfect candidate thanks to the sheer amount depth, content, and replay value.
Tecmo Koei does it to me every single time. They release a Dynasty Warriors game. I play it. I get addicted and I can’t wait to play the next one. There’s always just enough new stuff added to the basic formula to not only justify the purchase, but get me hooked in all over again.
Regardless of your opinion on the man, it goes without saying that Michael Jackson made his mark on the music industry in a big way. It’s logical, then, that Ubisoft would carry on the torch by releasing Michael Jackson: The Experience on as many gaming devices as humanly possible. Or...perhaps it’s just a cash-in using tons of pre-existing material and an icon’s name to sell the product, but at least this Vita entry is mildly competent.
One of the things I love about a new console launch is playing with games we wouldn’t usually touch. While we wait for our usual favourite genres and franchises to appear on the console, we’re willing to give games that are a little different ago; after all, we have to play something, right?