Feb 27, 2012

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Little Deviants Review

Little Deviants Review

On paper, Little Deviants sounds like the perfect title to purchase on launch day. The game showcases the Playstation Vita’s different control methods, sports around 30 mini games, and is developed by Bigbig Studios, a respectable first-party developer. Most of these bullet points, sadly, do not translate into a good title, and instead leave us with a game that is marred by repetition and design flaws.

Little Deviants lacks in its narrative like most mini-game collections. The story is told through loosely connected cut scenes that weaves a tale of the struggles endured by the Deviants after they crash land on an Earth-like planet. The game follows the Deviants as they attempt to rebuild their rocket ship, which is made increasingly difficult by the villains of the game, the Botz. The story comes off as forgettable and fragmented. While it can be cute and colorful at times, it adds nothing to the title in terms of substance.

The mini games, for better or worse, are the true focus of the game. The developers put emphasis on the various control styles that the Playstation Vita has, resulting in a uneven title with a few hits and a lot of misses. Each mini game usually lasts for a couple of minutes and has you doing various tasks like rolling a deviant around using the rear touch pad, utilizing the Vita’s six-axis motion controls to navigate mazes and evade obstacles, and using the Vita’s microphone to belt out musical notes. While some of the mini games feel intuitive and clever, many come across as shallow, repetitive, and irritating.

Much of the time, the controls leave the player feeling like they don’t have complete control of their character due to some awkward camera angles and unnatural positions when holding the Vita. The rear touch pad was an offender of this at times because we aren’t used to using a touch pad when you cannot see where you’re touching, which makes being precise a difficult task. Many of the mini games also force you to turn your Vita to a vertical position, making it uncomfortable to hold the device and control precisely due to its length and the position of the touchpad.  Aforementioned, however, when Little Deviants gets a mini game right, it can be really fun. Some levels, like the six-axis motion control mazes, felt precise and were both intuitive and addicting. But for every game that is fun, there are a dozen that fail to use the Vita’s capabilities to its full potential.

The length game and the similarities from mini-game to mini-game also creates a few problems for Little Deviants. The game features a total of 30 mini-games but many of the games feel too similar to one another or are the same game but in a different location. Also, the mini-games are easily unlocked (by getting a bronze trophy score in each one) and can all be played within a matter of hours. The developers tried to counteract this with online leader boards, a myriad of trophies, game art, and other unlockables, but the incentive to unlock these goodies will probably lessen with the frustration that is sure to ensue when playing some of the mini-games.

Little Deviants has a colorful, playful art style that pops on the Vita’s OLED screen, creating a great visual experience. While it isn’t a technical marvel and doesn’t rank as one of the best looking Vita games, Little Deviants looks good enough to make you appreciate buying your brand new hand held. The game also runs smoothly and load times are short, which is always a good thing. The soundtrack is catchy as well and matches well with the frivolity of the title.

The Playstation Vita has one of the strongest launch line-ups in recent memory, but it doesn’t show when looking at Little Deviants. While the game has its moments of fun, it is often held back by an overabundance of shallow mini-games that are a pain to play through. At the end of the day, Little Deviants sits as a mediocre, overpriced launch title that fails to showcase the Vita’s capabilities.  If you’re looking for a similar experience without the price tag, stick to Welcome Park, which comes pre-installed on the Vita.

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Little Deviants

Platform: PS Vita
Genre: Action
Release Date: 02/15/12
Developer: Bigbig Studios
Publisher: SCEA
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
MSRP: $29.99