Little Deviants is to PlayStation Vita early adopters what Rayman Raving Rabbids was to Wii owners; a set of mini-games that appear “gimmicky” in nature but showcase the complete range of control methods of Sony’s new handheld with some style.
While Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the launch title that PS Vita owners will show friends as a reason to evangelise the portable’s vibrant OLED display, Little Deviants will be the game that they’ll encourage non-PS Vita owners to play so they can demonstrate how this funky new interface is just too cool for school.
Bigbig Studios’ Little Deviants offers just two game modes, one where players follow a main storyline and the other for picking and choosing any of the 30 mini-games on offer. The storyline focuses on the Little Deviants, a cute-looking cartoon-styled alien race with a penchant for mischief, who crash land on a colourful planet where they are pursued by their arch-enemies, The Botz.
With the goal being to fix your smashed-up spaceship and get back to the home planet, gameplay involves competing in a range of games that give players the opportunity to win spaceship parts. The twist is that you need to also avoid attacks from those pesky Botz who do everything in their power to stop you from leaving.
As firmly expected, the narrative isn’t an award winner and though the Little Deviants occasionally show flourishes of humour in their antics they’re not as likeable/unlikeable (delete as appropriate) as Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids. In fact, they’re rather forgettable.
Though the Little Deviants have great potential to evolve as characters in future games, we quickly became immune to their incoherent mumbling. This is because each mini-game has quite a serious edge to it due to the high level of concentration (and co-ordination) needed to score highly. Make no mistake about it, Little Deviants can be very tough and its online leaderboards hint at the competitive community that will be competing for bragging rights.
During Story mode, the main hub for selecting activities and progressing through the game is split into a number of regions which house a selection of mini-games. There’s an excellent variety of games that use the complete spectrum of PS Vita’s features, from its augmented reality capabilities and front and rear multi-touchscreens, to its tilt controls, microphone and camera. Though there is some freedom to pick and choose your favourite type of mini-game, gameplay generally takes a linear path as players attempt to earn medals which in turn unlocks part of the spacecraft and further game types.
Each game lasts no more than a few minutes and involves trying to earn either a bronze, silver or gold medal by racking up a decent score, while collecting stars for bonus points. Though there isn’t a multiplayer mode, scores are posted to the PlayStation Network and when on starting each game you can view the current scores, which is where the player’s competitive streak will probably kick in.
One of first games on offer is ‘Rolling Pastures’ in which you need to deform the landscape using the rear touchscreen to roll a Goopah deviant around a field. The idea is to collect keys to open portals, round up stars for extra points and avoid the Botz who hack away at your health metre and try and bring the game to a premature end.
This is probably going to be the first time most PS Vita owners use the rear touchscreen and it’s an impressive introduction. Tracking is spot-on and it feels intuitive to use, while the visual effects of the ground transforming on screen to your touch can be quite stimulating to the senses.
From this point forth, players need to use the motion sensors to tilt PS Vita to navigate through mazes and sky-dive through the air, use the front and rear multi-touchscreens at the same time to slam doors in the faces of the Botz – while ensuring you don’t hit one of your own squarely in the face – and use augmented reality to shoot down Botz who appear like they are flying around your room.
There’s far more besides and most of the control methods work extremely well across some entertaining scenarios, including a boxing ring battle where you need to pinch the screen to pull back ropes to fling a deviant at his enemies. The only really bad game among the bunch (there’s always one) is ‘Smashing Tune’ which tasks you with singing or humming at a certain pitch. Either we can’t sing at all, or the pitch sensor is totally inaccurate.
Though the Little Deviants themselves aren’t quite the loveable, entertaining characters we thought they might be, the mini-games are the real stars of the show and speak volumes for the future of PS Vita and its potential to really change the way we game.
As the first title in a new franchise, Little Deviants is certainly an impressive effort and should keep players entertained for a few weeks at least. Beyond that it’ll probably be forgotten, though we’ve got the feeling there’s still a lot more to come from these mischievous aliens.