Little Deviants Review

Little Deviants (Available exclusively on the PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Bigbig Studios
Release Date: February 14, 2012

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Little Deviants E10+ for everyone ten and older because of animated blood, cartoon violence and comic mischief. My opinion is that children would only struggle with the cartoon zombies. It’s doubtful though because of the game’s charm.

Plays Like: Mini-games that highlight the Vita hardware. There’s really nothing like it, but it’s still very similar to other mini-game compilations.

Review Basis: Finished the game, earning at least a bronze trophy (in-game trophies, not PSN) in all 30 mini-games. The majority were completed with a silver.

When a major hardware developer releases a new device, companies are eager to exploit its unique features.  Such is especially true for portables, as their nuances typically help them stand out from other machines on the market. Bigbig Studios’s Little Deviants doesn’t push the Vita’s specs, but highlights how the user can interact with the hardware. The result promotes Vita’s unique control methods in some ways, and has its weaknesses stick out like a sore thumb.

The Great:

The gyroscope, back touch panel, front touch screen, and camera are heavily used. Little Deviants lessens the burden of Vita owners learning the system’s features. The game also just might spark creative developers to take Bigbig’s efforts to another level.

The Good:

+ 16 mini-games. The different activities are offered across 30 levels, giving players variety.  Some minis are repeated more than others.

+ Gyroscopic maze escape is a blast.  With the gyroscope, you guide a little ball deviant to the exit, collecting stars for points.

+ ‘Whack-a-mole’. You tap the front touch screen and back panel to knock out bots opening and closing windows. This requires unusual handling of the portable so you can be quick enough, but the game is fun.

+ Slingshot wrestling.  Imagine pulling your earlobe with your thumb and index finger. That’s how you play: thumb on the front screen, and index finger on the back. Pull in any direction, and watch your deviant fly from the ropes into bots. Good fun.

+ Rescuing mine workers. Zipping through a shaft to help workers flee a bomb is another gyroscope great. Most of the gyroscope games work well and are fun.

+ Replay incentive. Your high scores are visible to friends at the stage select screen. Thus you know who’s creeping up. This promotes friendly competition.

+ Real challenge. You must master each mini-game to win the coveted gold. I pursued gold on the first stage and gave up because you have to be borderline perfect.

+ A colorful and charming cast, and environment variety. The menu is intuitive and works well. The music is generically cheery, and overall the presentation is excellent.

+ A true portable title. Quick loading, and the mini-games play for minutes at a time, if even that long.

The So-So:

+/- The singing game. It’s supposed to determine tone difference, and sometimes works great, but you’ll also find yourself screaming like a lunatic to hit the high notes.

+/- Several mini-games require rear touch pad use to morph the terrain for your deviant’s travel. I think they look better than play.

+/- Score chasing doesn’t last forever. You have to play incredibly to earn gold trophies, and there’s not enough here to motivate that.

The Bad:

– Race mini-games. They’re awkward thanks to a constantly shifting camera that’s really never where it needs to be. You’ll crash into walls and other obstacles because you can’t see them.

– The spinning gear mini-game. It works similar to the wrestling game (use the front and rear touch) where you shift a gear, but it’s cumbersome. I got frustrated just trying to earn a bronze.

The Ugly:

The shooting game forces you to stand up to use the front-facing camera to blast bots appearing in your real-world space. People watching me during this thought I was losing my mind because you have to twist and turn to find the critters.

The Lowdown:

Bigbig Studios recently closed, but Little Deviants is a fun offering. I think it would’ve been better as a digital release, as $30 is too much to ask. It’s cheaper on the PSN. I think $15 would’ve been perfect. For now, the problematic mini-games and extremely high difficult mean only some will keep going back to it. My girlfriend is obsessed with it though. That counts for something, eh?

Average Score Scale: 6.5 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 6.5/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You want 16 different ways to interact with your Vita.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: $30 is too high for your wallet for 30 mini-games that can be cumbersome.

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