Little Deviants is another launch title for Sony’s fancy new handheld, developed by Bigbig Studios, who I’ve never heard of before, but apparently developed a few other handheld titles, like Pursuit Force and MotorStorm: Arctic Edge, and Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice, and… well, according to Wikipedia, that’s it. I’ve never played any of those, though, so I was curious to see what Bigbig was bringing with Little Deviants.
The story, as near as I can figure it out, goes something like this: the Deviants are flying through space, being chased by the Bots. The Bots shoot down the Deviants, and they crash land on this strangely blocky planet. The Bots land there as well, and use some strange laser to raise the blocky planet’s dead to help them do something to the Deviants. Kill them? Capture them? Not sure. Anyway, it basically comes down to the Deviants (aliens), versus the Bots and the Dead’uns (Robots and zombies). Aliens vs. robots and zombies, huh? Sounds like the plot of a Z-list horror movie. But it’s nothing so gruesome. Basically, the point of the game is to help the Deviants rebuild their ship, and you do this by playing one of thirty mini-games. Yep, you heard me right: Little Deviants is a mini-game collection.
Now, before you sigh and shake your heads, giving the Deviants up as a lost cause, I’d like to point out that Deviants is by no means simple shovel-ware. The mini-games are constructed solely for the purpose of utilizing the Vita’s unique features, and in that regard, it actually succeeds quite well. Some games utilize the front screen, some the rear screen, some the cameras, the microphone, the tilt sensor, it’s all used at some point within these games, and for the most part, it all works quite well. Using the tilt-sensor to guide Goopher the Deviant as he plunges from a plane through a series of rings in the sky is, for some reason I’ll never be able to explain, actually quite fun. And using the microphone to hit the right pitch to allow the Frostal Deviant to send a musical note to smash a bottle flying towards him will definitely draw attention to you on the subway. The games aren’t hugely unique in their use of the Vita’s features, but they still use them well.
That doesn’t mean all the mini-games are fun, though. I found the game that has you using the rear touchpad to ‘distort the landscape’ and help your Deviant roll around collecting keys to open up exit portals is more annoying than anything. I just found it somewhat hard to control the Deviants this way, even if the actual distorting of the landscape was quite easy. Likewise, there’s a game that comes off (to me at least) as a cross between Pac-man and Bomberman, where you’re using the tilt sensor to roll your Deviant through a maze of corridors trying to pick up all the little clocks. This game works the way it was intended to, but I just found it kind of boring. Yes, that particular gripe is hugely opinionated, but it illustrates a key point: when you’re game is just a collection of mini-games, you better make sure that every game is equally engaging, and Little Deviants falls a little short in this regard.
Running in tandem to that is the fact that some of the ’30’ mini-games are just rehashes of the same game, only made slightly harder. The ‘Rolling’ set of games, the one I mentioned that involves ‘distorting the landscape’ has at least three different renditions, and the Pac-man–Bomberman-style game has at least 2. I say ‘at least’ because I haven’t yet unlocked all of the mini-games: I found repeating the same game I played earlier, just in a different environment with different styles of enemies, hampered my enjoyment of the game somewhat. It got to the point where I had to play the third rehashing of the ‘Rolling’ games, or a game involving using the tilt sensor to platform-jump that I found extremely tedious to progress further, and I just called it a day.
That’s really all I can say about Little Deviants. It’s a mini-game collection meant to showcase the Vita’s features. The quality of the games is somewhat unbalanced: some being really fun, other being rather un-enjoyable, and a rather shameless recycling of a few of the games, knocking the ’30’ mini-games down to somewhere between 15 and 20, if I had to guess. That said, I personally can’t hate on the game too much: it came as part of the First Edition Bundle, so I definitely didn’t pay full price for it. Plus, it’s not really bad, just mediocre. If I was a bit younger, I would probably enjoy it a lot more. The colours are bright, the Deviants, Bots and Dead’uns are all pretty cute, in an odd alien-robot-zombie kind of way, and the music is pretty uppity. I feel like I’m just a little out of the intended age-range for that game. That said, I still enjoy playing Mario Party, and that’s been around since I was a small child, so it is possible to make this kind of collection appealing to older players. Little Deviants just doesn’t. If you want a game that showcases the Vita’s features, and are old enough to buy it, I’d recommend picking up Uncharted: Golden Abyss over this. The only thing Deviants uses that Uncharted doesn’t is the camera, and, I mean, it’s a camera. Although that’s probably one of the cooler features of the game: one of the mini-games uses the cameras to put whatever location you’re in as the backdrop. I gave it huge props for that: it was cool to see little aliens and robots flying around, all superimposed on my bedroom surroundings. But, still, a camera is a camera. You know what they do. I just can’t bring myself to suggest buying Deviants instead of one of the Vita’s other launch titles. If you, like me, have the chance to get Deviants for free, or at a pretty huge discount, then sure, by all means. It’s a pretty fun distraction, and you may even enjoy it more than I did. But judging it as a game, and not simply a tech demo of the Vita’s features, I just found it to be a little bit wanting.
Title : Little Deviants
Format : PS Vita
Developer : BigBig Studios
Publisher : SCEA
Release Date : 02/22/12