Reviews// Little Deviants

Posted 13 Feb 2012 14:00 by
The characters in Little Deviants look like the kind of garish plastic toys that you might find in a Kinder Egg. Maybe that was the point.

Perhaps the grand plan was to create something akin to Activision's Skylanders, where a brand transcends a mere game. Well, there’s no chance of that happening now because Sony’s closed up bigBIG Studios - and that’s a shame because Little Deviants is, despite the character design, a rather fun little mini-game festival that’s perfect for the PlayStation Vita.

Portable gaming was made for quick-fire gameplay just like this, and Little Deviants does it with a visual flair and creative design that harks back to the classic PlayStation days where everything was happy and cartoony and bright. None of this generation’s realistic grey-and-brown nonsense.

Its story says it all - you control a five-blob team of Deviants (each with mental-looking faces) who have crash-landed on the Whoman world (geddit?) after failing to escape an attack by the evil robot Botz. As each of the Deviants - Goopher, Pyruss, Frostal, Blobber and Nucleor - you have to rebuild the rocketship by completing a variety of different challenges. Cue primary colours.

bigBIG has gone out of its way to create something that takes full advantage of the Vita’s myriad of control inputs: from the gyro sensor and trigger buttons, the touch screen and rear touch pad, to the camera and even the microphone. Each mini-game uses a different set of controls, which are detailed before you load up the stage. Loading, as it happens, tends to be lightning fast compared to other Vita games. Other developers need to step it up.

As a result of the emphasis on eclectic control schemes, you get a variety of different experiences - mostly positive ones. Botz Invasion, for example, plays a lot like Face Raiders on the Nintendo 3DS. You have to move the Vita around in an augmented reality space, protecting flying Deviants from abduction by shooting at incoming Botz.

The gyro sensor is used in the majority of the games in Little Deviants. Cloud Rush is a skydiving stage that sees you tilting the console to position yourself and fall through point-scoring hoops. Other uses include rolling around Marble Madness-style stages within a time limit, using the Vita as a steering wheel during a survival race and navigating a maze collecting points while avoiding enemies.

Some games use the rear and front touch screens to varying effect. One of the levels that has been mentioned a few times in previews, Rolling Pastures, requires the use of the rear pad to raise the game world in order to roll your Deviant to a goal. This is inspired and really quite fun, but some practice is required to actually become good at it - it can be difficult to wrap your head around the control mechanic, particularly when under pressure from enemies or time limits.

Perhaps more intuitive are the Shack Shover and Rotten Rumble stages. The former works a bit like Whack-a-Mole, only you have to hit the Botz enemies from behind (so if they’re facing towards you, you need to tap them on the rear touch pad) when they appear and avoid the innocents. The latter is exceptionally fun, as you’re using both touch surfaces to pinch and fling Deviants around to batter zombies to death.

For all the stages that are entertaining to play, there are one or two that fall down a bit - and this is largely due to the developer having ambitions that ultimately couldn’t quite be fulfilled in reality. One such level uses the microphone and asks you to use high, medium and low pitch singing (or speaking) to smash bottles heading your way. Unfortunately, the game gets confused as to what is considered a high and low pitch, and so you end up vibrating your voice in all kinds of different tones and end up looking like a bit of a tit.

Other games just have too much going on to really enjoy it the first time around, somewhat defeating the point of Little Deviants being an accessible and simple title. For example, a stage called Hot Air Hero has you raising a hot air balloon by tickling a Deviant using the read touch pad. While this is going on, you need to use the front touch screen to take out a constant stream of birds that are pecking away at your ride. It can all get a bit confusing and overwhelming on the first couple of playthroughs.

After the first couple of worlds, the mini-games start to repeat themselves too. Thankfully, many of these happen to be duplicates of the more entertaining games - the same premise, but different environments. And despite these few drawbacks, as a whole Little Deviants is a title that really plays to the Vita’s strengths - the gyro sensor is very responsive, and makes playing the tilt-based games a joy to play.

A variety of collectibles - strange block-headed pussy cats called Moggers, Gallery pictures and downloadable Near gifts - add a bit of replay value alongside the simple score-attack. A very adequate package for £20, and an interesting set of games that’s perfect for on-the-go gaming. If you want a game that takes advantage of every kind of input control the Vita has to offer, in a fun arcade setting, then Little Deviants should be on your wish list.

Pros:
+ Takes full advantage of the PlayStation Vita
+ A lot of fun - you’ll be replaying quite a few of these games
+ Great level of creativity in the games

Cons:
- Repeating mini-games
- Some of these games must have sounded better on paper
- Leaderboards are your only interaction with other players

SPOnG Score: 7 / 10

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