Launch it away.
Packaged with the First Edition Bundle for PlayStation Vita, Little Deviants is an expected mini-game collection that showcases the unique features of the handheld—the front and rear touch panels, the camera, the Sixaxis accelerometers, and even the built-in microphone. In that regard, Little Deviants serves better as an interactive guide for the Vita than a $30 video game. Anyone who follows gaming news closely would not be surprised by this in the slightest, as Sony closed the game's developer bigBIG Studios in mid-January, before Little Deviants even came out. I shudder to think of a worse omen.
In the world of mini-game collections—remind me never to book a ticket there—Little Deviants stays true to what it is. The graphics are bubbly, vivid, and cartoonish, featuring a cast of five fun-loving blobs who just want to fool around and make cute noises. (I wish I could hit them with a Pokéball.) The story, if that matters, vaguely centers around the blobs being chased and attacked by robots and zombies, which somehow means that you need to play 30 mini-games evenly distributed throughout six worlds to rescue them.
The focus of the mini-games on the camera, gyro sensor, and touch panel controls of the Vita is unique and certainly intentional, but there are other unique control functions on the Vita, like the two analog sticks, that shouldn't have been ignored for the sake of proving a point. One set of mini-games have you maneuver a little deviant like a marble by deforming the ground by pressing the rear control panel or by tilting the Vita in various ways. But aside from conjuring up a few nostalgic memories of playing the wooden marble maze Labyrinth, they will likely leave you scratching your head as to why they didn't just use the analog sticks or D-pad instead. It's a question that persists whether you're fumbling to turn a gear, attempting to play its version of Bust-a-Move, or singing/humming/yelling “Objection!” just to activate the Vita's built-in mic.
Luckily, there are several instances where the controls aren't forced. One mini-game, which would have been awkward with any other control scheme, has you tapping on the front or back touch panel to knock off robots from a set of windows. Other notable mini-games have you skydiving through a series of rings by way of the gyro sensor or shooting robots using the full range of the camera in 360 degrees, with your room of choice becoming the background of the mini-game itself.
But otherwise, the majority of the mini-games aren't memorable, and if they are, it's usually for the wrong reasons. The award system tries to dangle the elusive score for the gold rating as some kind of motivation for taking on a difficult challenge, but when achieving the bronze rating is all you need to move to the next mini-game, there's not much point behind getting a higher score. Getting the gold rating is mainly for bragging rights on online leaderboards, as there's no online multiplayer whatsoever. After slugging through all 30 mini-games, they're more annoying than enjoyable.
It also doesn't help matters that some of the important controls to earn a higher score are usually tucked away as secrets. If you only read the instructions at the start, you'll do fine for a while before you ultimately screw up. That's usually when a pop-up hint appears telling you of a special function that would have helped at the beginning of the game. It's like driving a car for the first time and not being told that the brake pedal exists until you've crashed into a schoolchild. Why these controls are buried as “hints” in the start menu screen is befuddling. The same goes for why you're knocked back to the main menu every time you exit a mini-game.
Little Deviants has no business costing $30. That's $1 per mini-game, and that makes me want Angry Birds for the Vita now. It can be entertaining as a series of curious tech demos, but not for any longer than a few hours. With the robust launch lineup for the Vita, it would have been happily replaced by Sony's Uncharted: Golden Abyss or WipEout 2048 in the First Edition PlayStation Vita bundle which targets the core audience anyway. Targetting the casual audience is perfectly legitimate and a mini-game collection makes sense on a handheld, but Little Deviants shows off the Vita more than it does itself.
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