Why So Devious?
Sony’s brand new handheld, the PlayStation Vita, is a neat little device with a lot of cool, gimmicky features. Of course, Little Deviants is here to provide a colorful minigame collection that shows off all these features to Vita owners. At this, it certainly excels—it uses the Vita’s touchscreen, rear touchpad, Sixaxis gyroscope, camera, microphone, and even Internet capabilities—but should you consider it an actual game or just a compilation of tech demos?
Before we attempt to answer that, let’s take a look at what exactly you’re getting with the title. There are over thirty minigames here, each with a unique premise. For example, Rolling Pastures has you tap the rear touchpad to raise the landscape and make your Deviant roll around, collecting keys and avoiding hazards. Shack Shover is the game’s take on Whac-A-Mole, where doors open on the side of a building and players must tap robots (or Botz) to knock them out of the doorways. The twist here is that the player will need to tap the Botz from behind; some will be facing forward and need to be tapped on the rear touchpad, while others will be facing backward and need to be tapped on the touchscreen.
Botz Invasion is an augmented reality first-person shooter that has the player shooting Botz that are flying around the real-world environment. Corridor Calamity has players tilt the Vita to make the deviant roll through a maze to collect items and avoid zombies and Botz.
Rotten Rumble is one of my favorites, throwing a Deviant into a wrestling ring with a bunch of zombies. Players must “pinch” the Vita (with one finger on the touchpad and another on the touchscreen) to stretch the environment. Letting go will cause the ring to “unstretch” rapidly, catapulting the Deviant across the ring and knocking out whatever zombies are unfortunate enough to get in your path.
All of the games I mentioned are a lot of fun, but obviously not all of Little Deviants’ minigames are created equal. There are some I simply don’t care for, like Cloud Rush, which has players maneuver a freefalling Deviant through rings that are hovering in the air. (It sort of brings to mind Superman 64, now that I think of it.) For the most part, though, every minigame is at least moderately entertaining, and a majority of them are actually a lot of fun.
Highly competitive players will even be able to log into Sony Entertainment Network and work their way up the leaderboards, or even challenge a friend to beat their high score. There is even an eight-player pass-around feature for local competitions.
Now, one thing that developers of titles like this tend to forget is that without a sense of quirky charm, minigame collections usually fall flat. This is a truth that Little Deviants doesn’t ignore. It includes its collection of various Deviants, each with a distinctive look and wacky personality. There’s Goopher, the plain orange one; Pyruss, the fire elemental one; Frostal, the frost elemental one; Blobber, the adorable pink gooey one; and Nucleor, the glowing green one with an exposed skeleton floating inside. Players will start with Goopher-exclusive minigames, but will unlock new Deviants as they complete challenges. (They will also be able to uncover cats called Moggers hidden throughout the different games.)
Aside from the Deviants themselves, there are the Whomans (humans) and Botz (robots), as well as an assortment of adorable zombies. Zombies come in several varieties, from the chainsaw-wielding to the acid-spewing. The unique abilities of each zombie type actually make for some interesting gameplay variations when they are applied to various minigames. In Rotten Rumble, for example, chainsaw zombies must be stunned before they can be hit, and acid-spewing zombies will cause your screen to get blurry.
There is a little bit of a story here, but it’s not much more than an excuse to throw a whole pile of minigames at players. The Deviants come to Earth (or whatever planet this is supposed to take place on), causing mayhem while being chased by an army of Botz and zombies. Scoring high enough in minigames will grant rocket ship pieces, which will help the Deviants get out of this crazy zombie-and-Botz-infested place. (I almost wonder if the developers borrowed the build-a-rocket concept from the Genesis classic Toejam and Earl here.)
The minigames are laid out on a cube-shaped overworld map that’s a bit reminiscent of Mario Galaxy. This overworld is divided into various areas, each with its own theme and look. For example, Twisty Root Grove is a Halloween-themed area with a lot of zombies in its minigames, while Chillrock Gorge is a snowy wintertime area.
The game has a colorful and cartoony art style that’s appropriate for a minigame collection, though it’s not going to make you run over to your best friend’s house to show off how great Little Deviants looks on the Vita’s HD screen. The background and music also won’t cause you to run out and sing the game’s praises, but they accomplish exactly what they need to.
At the end of the day, Little Deviants is an entertaining minigame collection, and it never tries to be more than that. It’s certainly a lot of fun when you are still experiencing that warm fuzzy feeling after unboxing the brand new Vita, but I’m pretty sure that six months down the road, we’ll be remembering the more substantial Vita titles like Uncharted and WipEout 2048 instead. Still, for Vita owners itching to use the handheld’s more gimmicky features, Little Deviants will give you a pretty good sampling of what these features can do.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
Quirky and cartoony, though this is probably not the game to make players excited about the Vita’s HD screen. 4.5 Control
Little Deviants takes advantage of pretty much all the Vita’s control options, and to great effect. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The audio isn’t all that memorable, but it’s not annoying either. 3.7 Play Value
There are over thirty minigames here, but overall, the game probably won’t hold your attention once you start playing the Vita’s blockbusters. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best