|System: PS Vita|
|Dev: Bigbig Studios|
|Release: February 22, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Josh Engen
When BigBig studios hauled Little Deviants out of the laboratory, the game genuinely felt like an overt sales pitch for the upcoming PlayStation Vita. This feeling was underlined when Sony used the title as an actual sales pitch at last summer's E3, when game journalists finally got their hands on the little console. Now, we obviously haven't been able to spend a ton of time behind the wheel of Little Deviants yet, but when game developers release a title that's specifically created to show off a set of hardware, the game itself is usually subpar. And while Little Deviants isn't going to test the boundaries of the Vita's graphical capabilities, BigBig has managed to utilize nearly every single control option that the Vita has to offer, and that's no easy feat. So the biggest question is whether BigBig was more concerned with making a high-quality game, or if they were merely showing off.
Essentially, Little Deviants is a collection of minigames that have been specifically tailored to compliment the Vita's unique input options. And, as you discover each new game mode, it can start to feel like a checklist for Vita's hardware. Augmented reality? Check. Touch screen control? Check. Gyroscopic motion control? Check. Stylus-heavy, 3D gameplay? Sorry, no, but if that's what you're looking for, I've got a Raving Rabbids title that should fit the bill.
Actually, Raving Rabbids is an annoyingly appropriate comparison to Little Deviants. Both games feature an excitable/adorable crew of little creatures that players must control in a series of minigames. In both games, players are given a variety of control modes. Also, as one of the Wii's launch titles, Raving Rabbids showed off the Wiimote's capabilities before people had a handle on motion gaming, which is what the Deviants aim to do for the Vita.
However, in a lot of ways, Little Deviants is a better Raving Rabbids game than Raving Rabbids ever was. If the game's quirky interface options give it the same kind of replay value that the Rabbid titles have, the Deviants are headed for the top of the genre. Watch out WarioWare, you're probably next on the Deviants' hit list.
In its capacity as a sales pitch, Little Deviants really does shine. In fact, it's one of the only titles we've seen that has seriously attempted to utilize the Vita's rear touchpad. In a mode called Rolling Paradise, players control a deviant who must have recently had all of his limbs amputated and now can only roll around the map. Using the rear touchpad, players elevate part of the terrain which forces the deviant to roll down the newly created hill. Have you ever kicked your dog off the bed by shoving your feet at him through the blankets? Yeah, it's like that.
Gamers who have recently been brainwashed by iPhones and Android devices should feel pretty at home in the "House of Whacks" and "Rotten Rumble" game modes, because both modes utilize the system's touchscreen. House of Whacks is essentially a pocket-sized Whac-A-Mole, with one exception: some of the deviants must be whacked using the rear touch panel. Rotten Rumble, on the other hand, involves whipping deviants at a wrestling ring full of zombies. Players pull the deviants back, à la Angry Birds, and carefully take aim at the undead wrestlers. Once the deviant is released into the ring, he ricochets around for a while and flattens any undead in his path.
Botz Blast is an augmented reality FPS that uses the Vita's camera and gyroscope. Players control their character by rotating 360 degrees in search of evil robots and tapping the right trigger to fire. You're probably going to have to physically stand up while playing this mode, so if standing isn't your thing, have another slice of cheesecake and log onto World of Warcraft for another 14-hour bender.
Once you're done murdering zombies and robots, it's probably time to pilot a spaceship in Depth Charge. This mode also uses the Vita's Sixaxis rotational controls, except it incorporates them into what seems like a standard platformer. You'll pilot your vessel through a series of difficult stages on your way to a bomb before the clock runs out.
According to BigBig Studios, the game includes over 30 minigames, so we've barely scratched the surface here. Some of these game modes, like Rolling Paradise, are extremely difficult to master and well constructed. Others, like House of Whacks, feel like an excuse to utilize a specific piece of hardware. But, in the end, Little Deviants is an impressive combination of gameplay and technology.
With heavy hitters like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, FIFA Soccer, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss among the Vita's launch titles, it's already a pretty appetizing little console. But if Sony can keep populating the system with quirky little titles like Little Deviants, users may be forced to turn in their Nintendo membership card.
In fact, it really doesn't bother me that Little Deviants is equal parts silliness and sales pitch. Because, even if it is actually an overt attempt to sell the Vita's hardware, it's a great sales pitch.
Date: January 16, 2012