A decent mini-game compilation that costs $10 to $20 too much.
We've said for a long time that Sony and BigBig Studios' Little Deviants is an ideal pack-in game for PlayStation Vita, primarily because it does a good job showcasing the machine's abilities; on top of that, everyone loves a free game with their purchase. As a separate retail release? Not so much, especially at $30.
Well, they got it half right. You can score a copy of Deviants with the Vita First Edition Bundle, releasing February 15. Otherwise, it's off to the store to spend extra cash on this mini-game compilation, and while it provides several hours of fun, a lack of depth and a hint of frustration mars the experience.
You can tell Sony wants this new IP to turn into something more lucrative. Little Deviants plush toys perhaps. Unfortunately, there's little about the characters we find appealing, and the same goes for their somewhat cooler rivals, the evil Botz. In other words, the story won't move you, other than hitting a button to skip cut scenes.
That aside, the varied assortment of mini-games take center stage, and let you experience many of Vita's strengths. Botz Invasion, for instance, makes use of the portable's camera for some Augmented Reality fun, as you physically maneuver the system to blast enemies before they kidnap Deviants and disappear into the void; word of warning, you'll look silly playing this one in public.
We're also fans of Rotten Rumble, a game that works sort of like Angry Birds in the sense that you pull back on the screen (which stretches at different lengths the more you pull) and then send a character charging into groups of zombies.
Shack Shover, meanwhile, pays homage to Whack-A-Mole, as you quickly press the touch screen and rear touch pad to hit bad guys; very addictive.
Other mini-games don't work so well, especially those that use the aforementioned rear touch pad. The first (and most publicized), Rolling Pastures, lets you guide a finger along the back of the system to create hills along the front screen, the idea to roll a Deviant around collecting keys and stars. Novel concept, but in practice, it's too difficult to wrap our brains around. At least the developers did the smart thing by giving players all the time in the world to complete these stages.
Unfortunately, we spent more time on the mini-games that don't work so well, compared to the ones that do. Some of the best are over and done with after 20-30 minutes.
Social interaction, meanwhile, involves comparing high scores on leaderboards and nothing more. What, no multiplayer options to see who can roll to the goal fastest, or shoot the most robots? Missed opportunity.
Bottom line, Little Deviants is a good game. If anything it brings to mind numerous iPhone and iPad titles we've seen over the years. Thing is, none of those games cost $29.99 individually, and would probably not cost more than $6.99 in one package. As it stands, this game doesn't have what it takes to compete against Vita's better offerings, but if you give it a chance (and have the money to burn), it does the job.
Review copy provided by Sony.
What's Hot: A variety of mostly fun mini-games, online leaderboards, utilizes Vita's most touted features.
What's Not: Frustrating rear touch controls, too expensive, no multiplayer, little emotional attachment to the characters.