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Gaming Review

'Little Deviants' review (Vita)

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Released on Wednesday, Feb 22 2012

Little Deviants - PSVita

© Sony


Also available on: N/A
Developer: Bigbig Studios
Publisher: SCEA
Genre: Arcade

The PS Vita's launch line-up has been carefully tailored to ensure it spotlights all of the platform's gizmos, from the touch-screen to its dual cameras. Little Deviants is a collection of mini-games that attempts to show off everything the device has to offer in one fell swoop, but it isn't quite the dazzling tech demo we were hoping for.

Developed by Bigbig Studios, Little Deviants makes use of the PS Vita's microphone, touch-screen, rear touchpad, motion sensor, and back-facing camera. There's a range of gameplay types on offer, including twists on the Marble Madness and Whac-A-Mole formulas, though most are shallow and repetitive.

There is a semblance of plot behind all of this. An oddball alien race known as the Deviants are chased across the galaxy by an army of robots, only to crash land on a planet inhabited by block-headed humanoids that look like they crawled straight out of Minecraft. The Deviants' mission is to rebuild their spacecraft, and each stage takes them closer to this goal by yielding another essential component.

Most mini-games involve guiding the spherical extraterrestrials towards a goal, or protecting them from a wave of enemies. One stage has players using the rear touchpad to reform the environment, rolling their Deviant towards the end of the level, swerving obstacles along the way. Another uses the rear-mounted camera to create an augmented reality experience, setting a space shooter against your real-world surroundings.

Little Deviants even includes a singing mini-game, in which players are required to hum into the system's microphone at the correct pitch. Motion controls also come in to play on numerous levels, including one reminiscent of Pilotwings, in which the player oversees a parachute jump.



Most of the games offer some arcade-style kicks in the short term, and the technology behind them is impressive. Unfortunately, they last little more than a few minutes each. Moreover, the volume of gameplay modes available from the off creates the illusion of variety, but Little Deviants starts to rehash at around the halfway point. Couple this with bland objectives such as 'reach the finish' and 'race against the clock' and the replay value isn't exactly staggering.

Getting interfaces right on brand new hardware is a challenge for developers, yet Bigbig has had some success here. Most mini-games play well enough, with only the motion controlled events letting the side down. The camera is disorientating in the augmented reality levels, and it took us a good few tries before we figured out how to control the parachute descent, despite having read the tutorial.

Little Deviants attempts to hold players' interest through continuous reward, and in this regard it fails miserably. New levels are unlocked when you rack up a high score, but once the recycling begins, it's difficult to see this as positive reinforcement. The inclusion of multiplayer options would certainly have boosted its longevity, and perhaps even made this a value for money package, but the game doesn't make so much as a cursory glance in this direction.

It may lack on the gameplay front, but Little Deviants is a bright and vibrant affair with stacks of charm and character. The art style is aptly goofy, and will definitely strike a chord with younger gamers. It's just a shame it is backed up by an unspectacular soundtrack.

For a game clearly intended as a demonstration of the PS Vita's hardware capabilities, Little Deviants isn't the best flagship for the handheld console. It feels like a string of vaguely amusing tech demos rather than a game in its own right, and even in this regard it fails to captivate for any length of time.

> Read Digital Spy's review of Uncharted: Golden Abyss
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