Little Deviants is that most quintessential of launch titles – a game that tries to incorporate all of a console’s features into one package. Unfortunately, in this case, that frantic packing of everything in has come at the cost of absorbing gameplay and eye-catching presentation.
Essentially, this is a selection of mini-games, each based around the idea of helping the deviants of the title best the evil robot army. Hardly thrilling stuff… the idea is clearly aimed at young children, but surely that begs the question of whether or not the Vita is aimed at children at all? For my money, £229.99, fancy analogue stick and a fancy screen says that it’s not.
Throughout the marathon of mini-games, all of the PlayStation Vita’s input options are utilised in one manner or two – that includes the front touch screen, the rear touch pad, the gyroscopic motion, the cameras and (heaven forbid) the buttons. None of them especially well implemented, but hats off to developer Bigbig for trying.
The main problem isn’t that the inputs don’t work, it’s that the mini-games you’re asked to play are lacking the depth and that ‘just one more go’ hunger that the best of these games provide. In short, they’re too simple to hold your attention for more than a couple of tries. I feel as though I should be chasing new personal high scores, approaching the same game from multiple angles and comparing my performance against that of my friends. But I just don’t want to; the games are too dull for that.
When Sony first demoed Little Deviants at E3 2011, one of the game’s features that they showed off was the ability to deform the landscape using the back touch pad. In reality, what you need to do is alter the environment so that it causes your deviant to roll into a pre-determined extraction point on the map; avoiding enemies as you go.
Rather than the intuitive experience we were promised, the game is one of the most difficult (and certainly most frustrating) of the whole package thanks to how awkward the camera angles make things. The isometric viewpoint (a la Diablo) would be much improved if it was changed to a straight top-down camera, it wouldn’t look as nice but you’d actually be able to work out what’s going on.
Better are the augmented reality games, but only because their genuine novelty factor offers a slightly longer lifespan. The system’s rear camera is used to great effect early on during a shooter mission in which you must destroy the robots and protect the deviants fleeing through the sky. Rather than a mere turret section, the camera provides a background of whatever it’s looking at (park, lounge, view from the toilet seat) and the gyroscopic controls aim your gun.
Yes, that means you look like an idiot as you move the console all around you (including behind your back) as you try and take out the robots and save the deviants.
As I said, it’s a novelty but it’s at least a fun game to show your friends and each have a go at attaining the top score. Then it’s time to pop Little Deviants out and change the game.
The game’s styling is almost equally devoid of quality or charm. Deviants themselves have been designed to appeal to as many people as possible, meaning (invariably) that they actually appeal to no one. Their design is so safe and lacking in personality that it’s as though they’ve been designed by the head of CBBC specifically to present a family-friendly aura to parents.
It’s difficult to work out exactly who Little Deviants is aimed at. The system is too flash and fragile for kids, but the games are too simple and irritatingly cutesy for adults. Further work on each of the games would improve this no end, as would a cast that packs a bigger punch.
Jack of all trades, master of none springs to mind.