Developer: Bigbig Studios
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Release Date: February 23, 2012
Price: $32.99 (available here)
Little Deviants is one of the PS Vita’s numerous launch titles, coming to the handheld alongside big names and big games like Wipeout and Uncharted. Whilst Little Deviants is a fantastic demonstration of all the Vita’s flashy new control schemes, it really is just a collection of mini games that only the high score obsessed will find any great joy with.
Are you really expecting anything? The set up for Little Deviants is kept to a cutesy minimum. A space ship full of the titular Deviants is shot down by some nasty robots and crash lands on a cubist planet of cubist humans. The robots follow shortly after and decide for some random reason to raise the dead to help them crush the amorphous blobs that are the Deviants. Players must take control of the Deviants and guide them through a series of mini games to win back their space ship parts and escape the planet.
As mentioned above, Little Deviants is primarily a demonstration of all the new wizardry that is packed within Sony’s latest handheld. Think of it as the Wii Sports for the Vita, except it’s not free and it’s not half as friendly to non gaming relatives and Christmas parties. Every mini game is controlled using the gyroscope, touch screen, microphone or touch pad, and old school buttons only get involved in one type of mini game. Score enough points for a bronze medal and another game will be unlocked, with each success netting the Deviant’s a space ship part with which to rebuild their craft. Games are primarily touch screen and gyroscope based, with these motion controls used to roll Deviant’s around mazes, tilt them through caves and steer them through race courses. There’s a touch screen variant of whack-a-mole that utilises both touch screens, and even one game that requires a bit of singing.
Now everything is technically sound, and the game truly shows off just how accurate and sensitive the alternate control options on the Vita are. Unfortunately none of the games are particularly addictive or fun, and there are even a couple that are a complete turn off – using the back touch screen to generate a hill to roll around the Deviants is a nice twist of an idea, but in execution it feels clumsy and based on luck rather than skill. There’s nothing that leaps out of the collection and grabs you, nor anything particularly surprising or creative. The augmented reality game (move the Vita around to shoot down some robots that fly around your house) is good for some gimmicky fun, but will quickly bring some hurt to your world,either when your arms get tired of holding up the Vita or someone on the train whacks you for being an idiot.
Portability is a concern, and not only with the above example. The singing mini game (you can hum or whistle if you want) will induce even more wrath from members of the public, and unless you’ve got nice big man hands, it can be a bit difficult to get decent control over the whack-a-mole style game without assuming some strange yoga position to allow both hands access to the Vita. If the handheld is charging you can write off the augmented reality games, and things will become a lot more difficult on the tilt based sessions too.
There is some fun to be had with the games, but only in short and sweet sessions. Although there are thirty on offer there are an awful lot of reskinned repeats that simply dial the difficulty up a notch. Apart from unlocking more games, the bronze, silver and gold trophies serve little purpose, and leaderboards are tucked away in a separate menu rather than updated live at the end of every game. If you do take to a game enough to bash away at it repeatedly, then a silver medal earns you a gallery item, and a gold a bit of glory. Another completely bizarre feature has you collecting a ‘Mogger’ from every game – that’s a cat to you and me – that does nothing but sit in a house – is Little Deviant’s trying to turn us all into cat ladies? Perhaps there’s some sort of reward for collecting all the cats, but I honestly can’t bring myself to play through every game again in search of them.
Audio & Visual:
Much like the gameplay in Little Deviants the audio and visual properties of the game are good but not in any way unique. Everything has a vibrant coat of cartoon paint, and the Deviants themselves always have their mouths hanging open and bounce around like the insane googly eyed blobs that they are. They and the zombie style enemies have some amusing details, and the backgrounds are simplistic but bright. There’s nothing overly flash on offer here – the Vita can certainly do better – but everything is bright and bubbly enough to make Little Deviants a pleasant enough experience for the senses. Sound effects and music follow a similar pattern, with upbeat tunes and a light hearted, goofy feel.
Little Deviants is difficult to recommend. The games within it are by no means bad, but there’s just not enough here to make the package stand out. It shows off the Vita’s control capabilities very well, but anyone who’s booted up the handheld will have had a similar experience with Welcome Park. If you’re a fan of mini game compilations or like chasing high scores purely for the sake of it then you may find more joy here than most. Ultimately there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to the Vita launch line up, and with Lumines and Super Star Dust Delta among them, this arcade compilation doesn’t stand much of a chance.