Whenever a new game system is released, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be a game built exclusively to show off the various capabilities of said system. In the case of PlayStation Vita, that title would be Little Deviants. Taking a collection of minigames and building them around the unique control interfaces of Vita, Little Deviants does a great job of showing just what the system is capable of. Unfortunately, it does so at the detriment of the overall gaming experience; while many of the minigames are pretty enjoyable, reaching them requires you to muddle through quite a few that are not.
There's not a lot in the way of storyline in Little Deviants, as much of your adventure revolves around locating the many parts of your busted spaceship by beating a vast series of minigames. Each time you successfully complete a minigame with the required score, you earn a part of your ship and unlock a new minigame to play. You're also awarded a rocket rating of bronze, silver or gold, depending on how many points you amass. To add a unique little twist, you can also pick up a hidden Mogger, which is basically the Little Deviant equivalent of a cat. As you unlock more minigames, you're able to play them individually in order to earn a better rocket ranking or a higher ranking on the online leaderboards.
Since there are a variety of minigames to tackle, lots of different gameplay and control elements are on display. There are games that allow you to guide your Little Deviant using the system's gyro controls, augmented reality challenges in which you must swing the system around your surroundings in order to shoot down enemy robots, touch screen-poking activities, plus games that force you to manipulate the environments by maneuvering your way around the rear touchpad. There's even a minigame that will have you singing into the system's microphone in order to break bottles being tossed your way by an unruly audience. However, while some of the games seem to benefit from the unique control capabilities, others feel like the controls were forced upon them.
The highlight of the collection would have to be the Sixaxis and augmented reality challenges. Most of these are very well-designed and control quite well. The responsiveness of the motion and camera controls do a great job of conveying realism to the numerous gameplay experiences. It's outside of these games that things begin to go off track. The touch screen minigames tend to feel uninspired, even on the first play, and the rear touchpad activities, while very flashy from a visual standpoint, often feature erratic controls that end up being more frustrating than fun.
There's no denying the fact that PlayStation Vita features some amazing control functions, but it's perfectly clear from playing Little Deviants that developers are going to have to use some discretion when making use of them. Some of the controls are absolutely spot-on and extremely responsive, but there are also many times when the controls come off as clunky and not very intuitive to the activity they're built around. It also would have been nice if there was more incentive to go back and play the games again other than just high score shoot outs. You can always return to the individual minigames you really enjoyed, but having to play through the entire game to unlock them all might be more effort than some gamers are willing to put out.
Given its vibrant and cartoony style, there's certainly no shortage of flashy visual moments to be found in Little Deviants. The backdrops of the various areas all show a good amount of detail and the Deviants themselves are very pleasantly rendered and animated. There are even a host of unique cutscenes, complete with a storybook-style visual presentation, to further the game's charm. The developers also managed to weave a huge amount of variety throughout the settings rather than stick with color palette changes alone. It's refreshing to see brand new visual touches popping up, even late in the game's progression.
Although there are a wide variety of musical influences mixed into the soundtrack of Little Deviants, it's not enough to keep the tunes from sounding rather generic. Even with the mixture of orchestral and techno elements, each track you're treated to somehow ends up sounding a lot like the one before it. Granted, the background sounds do tend to blend heavily into the musical efforts, sometimes even overtaking them, but it still doesn't do a very good job of enhancing the intensity of the minigames. There are a few interesting tracks here and there but, much like the minigames themselves, they tend to get lost in the shuffle of uninspiring musical compositions that never seem to hit their stride.
If you're looking for a game that will show you just about every in and out of the Vita's control experience, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more thorough showing than Little Deviants. Of course, if you're looking for a game that will keep you engaged for the duration and coming back for more, you might want to look elsewhere. While some very enjoyable minigames are on offer, there just aren't enough of them. With little to come back to other than chasing a higher score, the experience ultimately turns out to have more style than substance — and one that's not going to appeal to everyone.