Little Deviants is an excellent way to experiment with the PlayStation Vita’s numerous new features, including the front and rear touchpads, camera, motion sensor and augmented reality capabilities. That said, this collection of bite-sized minigames feels more like an extended tech demo than a full product. While there’s some decent variety in the compilation, there isn’t much replay value, and a few of the games are a chore to play, making the overall experience uneven and frustrating.
The premise for Little Deviants is that adorable, bug-eyed aliens have been chased across the galaxy by angry Botz - aka robots. Unfortunately for the deviants, they’ve crashed landed on a planet inhabited by tiny, blocky-headed humanoid-looking people, and must piece together their bubbly little spacecraft to get home. And that’s where you come in. Each minigame unlocks the next game, and grants you a new piece for your spaceship. Short but amusing scenes breathe some life into these oddball creatures, but you’ll soon realize that even though they may have their own unique traits, none of that comes into play. Minigames are entirely focused on using the PS Vita’s features, so it really doesn’t matter that one deviant is extra bouncy or more electrically-charged than another.
Expect to smear your grubby fingers all over the touch screen and use the PS Vita’s motion sensors quite a bit. The controls are precise and tight, making it easy to score enough points to earn a bronze ranking and move on to the next game, but minigames that use the rear touchpad are simply not fun. With the exception of the game where you punch robots out of a window (who wouldn’t like that?), it’s awkward to have to slide your fingers along the back of the handheld. For example, several minigames required that we use the back touchpad to create hills and roll our deviant around to collect stars, avoid robots and finally jump into a portal for the next level. Thankfully there is no time limit, and while this is a fantastic display of what the touchpad can do, it’s not very intuitive and we never felt like we had complete control and would much rather use the motion sensor. One of the more interesting minigames was a puzzle where we had to redirect electricity with different types of metal plates. The problem is that the front and back touchpad are both used to rotate the screen, so unless we were holding the Vita at the tips, we’d brush the back and accidentally rotate our view.
A handful of minigames are repeated, and it was unfortunate that the back touch-controlled rolling one appeared several times when some of the others were much more engaging. However, there are plenty of entertaining ones with solid controls where you steer a deviant through underground passages, or tilt the Vita to roll it around in a maze to collect stars. One minigame had us holding the Vita sideways, using the back touchpad to aim and the front touch screen to fire a deviant from a cannon. It’s a simple aim-and-shoot kind of game with some memory work involved, but it worked well, so it’s too bad it only showed up once.
There is some replay value, whether it’s getting that high score or unlocking a collectible for the interactive art gallery or cat house (yes, you can collect portraits of moggers, which are essentially cats.) The presentation of these features is well done, and there’s a lot of personality in the setting. All your stats are also tracked in case you’re wondering how many times you’ve bounced and how far you’ve rolled.
Little Deviants is structured in short, digestible chunks making it an ideal portable game, but there are a few augmented reality games that will force you to stand up and shoot at imaginary Botz, and a singing game that uses your voice’s pitch to stop incoming objects. (Just a warning, in case you plan on playing it in public.) While the game is solely a single player affair, some friendly competition would have been a nice addition. The only competition is in the high scores, where you can go online and compare them with your friends.
In small doses, Little Deviants is an enjoyable experience and a great way to become familiar with the PS Vita’s new tech. But beneath all that charm and googly-eyed cuteness, there isn’t much to offer beyond the 30 minigames, with a chunk of them repeated on a various maps. It seems like Little Deviants would have been better suited as a tech demo, and should have come bundled with the system.