First Impressions: Frobisher Says
Posted by Sammy Barker
Stand on your head
If Simon Says had an illicit affair with Nintendo’s madcap minigame series Wario Ware, Frobisher Says would be the hyperactive accidental love-child. Honeyslug’s eccentric PlayStation Vita launch-title might not be drawing the headlines like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2048, but it's easily the most humorous game we’ve played in a long time.
Borne out of an inside office joke, Frobisher Says marks Honeyslug’s second outing on PlayStation platforms. It previously released the delirious Lemmings-inspired Kahoots on the PlayStation Minis label back in 2009, and there’s a definite spiritual connection between the two bite-sized titles. Both games are markedly mad, visually eccentric and quintessentially British.
The structure of Frobisher Says is very similar to the likes of WarioWare and Rhythm Heaven, but what sets Honeyslug’s title apart is the sheer range of gameplay possibilities that the PlayStation Vita affords. One minigame challenges you to “squash the toffs” by pinching a slew of top-hat sporting English gentleman between the PS Vita’s front and rear touch interfaces. Another cheekily asks you to dry an “extraordinarily long sausage dog” by wrapping your hand around the PS Vita and motioning forwards and backwards. The game’s got an outstanding sense of humour, making it hard not to giggle as you’re introduced to the increasingly ridiculous minigames.
Not every objective relies on touch, though. One sequence asks you to “find the flan” by putting you in control of a small eight-bit inspired crocodile that you must navigate through a simple Super Mario Bros.-themed maze. Another simply challenges you to look away from a shy child, with the PS Vita’s front cameras used to detect whether you’re looking at the screen or not. It’s technically impressive stuff, yet seamlessly integrated. Everything is timed, so you have just a few moments to react, with each completed minigame adding a point to your total tally.
The range of minigames is varied, though even during our short hands-on we started to notice some repeated ideas. As always with games of this ilk, Frobisher Says’ longevity will depend almost entirely on the size of its minigame roster.
As with the gameplay, Frobisher Says’ visuals are purposely inconsistent. Honeyslug’s contracted a range of different artists from various backgrounds to produce each of the minigames’ graphic styles, a decision which lends itself perfectly to the disparate nature of the gameplay. Some minigames have a Wallace & Gromit-inspired stop-motion look to them, while others resemble cartoons and retro video games. It’s a trick that makes playing each of the minigames a genuine surprise. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to be doing next, giving the game’s opening moments a real novelty infused flavour.
Our worry is that the game will lose its appeal quicker than a stick of cheap bubble-gum, and so it’s important that Honeyslug prices Frobisher Says appropriately. Anyone who pre-orders PlayStation Vita will get exclusive early access to the game, too.
Humour and games go together about as successfully as chalk and cheese, but Frobisher Says made us smile for a whole afternoon. This is a genuinely funny game, and a great showcase of the PS Vita’s multitude of functions. We can’t wait to go hands-on with the final product next year.