Although Nintendo’s WarioWare wasn’t the first game to compile quick-fire mini-games (it’s pre-dated by Sega’s Tanto-R and Konami’s Bishi Bashi), it remains the most famous example of the genre. While so many modern games try hard to immerse the player in engaging and time-consuming missions, WarioWare revels in its ability to confound and delight in bite-sized nuggets which last seconds rather than hours.
Frobisher Says could be lazily described as Sony’s answer to WarioWare. Like Nintendo’s effort, it is based around short-burst challenges with simple objectives and completely unhinged premises. In fact, Frobisher Says manages to out-weird WarioWare on almost every level - it has you guiding ships into the bellies of sea monsters, scratching the backs of naked men with monstrous appendages and even winking your eyes in order to make people dance a merry jig. In short, it’s crazy - but in a thoroughly British way.
What’s so refreshing about Frobisher Says is that it manages to exploit all of PS Vita’s interface options. Throughout the course of the game’s events you’ll use the touch screen, D-pad, buttons, camera, accelerometer and even the rear touchpad to achieve your insane aims; the sheer magnitude of control possibilities ensures that no two mini-games feel the same.
What’s also appealing is the inventive manner in which these elements are utilised. One game sees you squashing plasticine heads by touching the front screen and the rear touchpad in the same place, thereby replicating the physical act of squeezing something between your fingertips. Another tasks you with finding an object in the room of a desired colour and snapping it with PS Vita’s back camera.
Another massive plus is the eccentric presentation. Even if you’re a fan of WarioWare, you won’t have seen anything quite as deranged as what Frobisher Says has on offer. The 2D graphics look wonderful on that bright OLED screen, and Frobisher’s commentary and instructions - all delivered in a droll English accent - are sure to provide plenty of belly laughs.
Once you’ve seen all of the available challenges, your interest is likely to wane. Thankfully you can keep things rolling by participating in seven-player local multiplayer contests, which require you to pass your PS Vita around from person to person. It’s surprisingly entertaining, and the local element means you can share the amusement together.
Repetition does come a little too soon though, and it’s surprising just how quickly you become bored.. An additional 15 games are available via paid-for DLC, and it’s highly likely that more packs will be forthcoming. These updates could provide some respite from repetition, but there’s no avoiding the fact that Frobisher Says has a limited lifespan.
The developers have attempted to artificially bolster the game’s longevity by adding in mini-games which only unlock after you’ve played a certain number of times, and others which remain out of bounds until a certain date. In the case of the latter, some aren’t scheduled for access until the middle of the year, which is spectacularly optimistic if you ask us. As diverting as Frobisher Says undoubtedly is, we’re not entire sure it will remain on your memory card by that point — especially if you have a 4GB or 8GB variant and are already pushed for storage space.
As a free download for those who received the pre-order pack with their Vita, you literally have nothing to lose by giving this quirky and unique title a spin. Hopefully it points to a long line of similarly innovative PS Vita downloads in the near future — something the system will almost certainly need if it is to prise people away from their iPhones.