Everybody’s a little deviant
Everybody’s Golf and Little Deviant, two titles that won’t be on many people’s shopping list when they pick their PlayStation Vita on launch. However, one or two titles always manage to surprise when a new console or handheld launches, does that sentiment apply to either? Read on to find out.
(Developer: Clap Hanz | Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment)
In stark contrast with golf’s real world reputation as a sport of the social elite, Everybody’s Golf is just as the name implies – golf for everybody. The series is a Sony system mainstay, and it’s easy to see why with it’s cheerful and accessible take on the 18 hole formula. It’s quite happy for you to dive right in too, with very little in the way to stop you getting right at the heart of the game – making it a perfect match for a handheld system such as this.
Presentation in the game is utterly charming, with vibrant and bright colours being used throughout the range of courses and in the quirky and fun caricatures you can choose to play with. You start off with access to only two of these, but you’ll soon find yourself unlocking more as you get further in the game – some via beating them in a stand-off, whereas others can be bought straight away from the in-game shop once you’ve earnt enough credits from your playing. As well as credits, you can also level up your relationship with each character, helping build up your stats as you go on and giving you that extra incentive to keep on slogging through the challenges.
Despite its cartoonish look, the game of golf it plays is surprisingly solid underneath too. Those looking for pure simulation might be better looking elsewhere, but there’s a decent amount of variety in the courses, hazards within, and ways you can tackle each of these, with a lot of precise stats and measurements to help you judge how best to tackle things. Although taking the default shot is often a reliable way forwards, it’s not always the advisable due to the risks involved – a lot of the challenge comes from learning to understand the risks of each shot, where any minor miss in terms of timing your swing can cost you a number of extra shots and potentially see you throwing a tournament.
If you’re a regular to the series then there’s really no great advances that make this stand up above any of its predecessors, other than having access to the game on the go, and being able to pick up and play online matches with your friends at your own pace. It might just be golf, but it’s a fun game even for those with no interest in the sport – and is an ideal pick up and play title for new Vita owners.
(Developer: Bigbig Studios | Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment)
Setting the tone appropriately, Little Deviants opens with a light-hearted cinematic that runs you through its cast – a number of tiny little monster-esque ‘deviants’ that each bear some kind of quirky but specific trait that you’ll forget within seconds. Calling them characters may be an exaggeration, too – you’ll not be getting familiar with them or their stories, as instead you’ll be switching between them as you jump from game type to game type as you progress. That’s right – Little Deviants is a collection of mini-games. Whilst that may set some alarm bells ringing straight away, let’s start by saying this: it’s not as bad as you may think.
There are a few common threads throughout all of the games – ‘Botz’ enemy characters, hidden ‘Moggers’ to find, and copious use of the Vita’s new control methods. The first game you’ll try has you using the rear touch panel to elevate the areas you press, where you must roll your deviant about between enemies and to an end goal. Another plays out more like a whack-a-mole game, where you must touch either the front of back of the system based on which way the enemy’s facing. Another has you use the Vita like a steering wheel to dodge between obstacles and pick up collectables as you try and escape a pursuer. Another is more like the 80s classic ‘Marble Madness’, albeit controlled with the system’s gyroscope as opposed to a trackball. As tempting as it is to carry on listing each and every one, there’s too many to mention; there’s 30 levels in total, and whilst some recycle mechanics, the majority of them dabble with new ideas that are dropped as quickly as they’re picked up. Heck – one even tries to get you singing at your Vita.
Each stage has target scores for you to meet, and although just scraping through the requirements for a bronze medal will see you unlock a new stage, the real challenge is in trying to earn silver and gold score, or in taking the challenge that step further and sending out a challenge to a friend online. Whilst it certainly has child-friendly presentation, even the more simple stages can prove incredibly tricky when trying for high-scores, which is exacerbated by the often imprecise nature of the controls. That’s not to say you’ll be cursing throughout all of them though, as some really do work well and are quite fun – the bigger problem then being that there’s not enough depth in any of them to really sink your teeth into for long periods of time.
Although as a game it’s a bit too shallow to really recommend, when it comes to showing off what the Vita can do, Little Deviants is a completely valid title – it looks clean and moves smoothly, and even the worst mini-games have at least some merit in showing off the ways you can interact with the system. Hopefully some developers out there are playing it, taking note of what works and what doesn’t – as on that front, it’s a great little resource of ideas.