Don't let the incomprehensible combination of words that make up Gravity Badgers' title fool you. Taking more than its share of inspiration from the bird-tossing behemoth that is Angry Birds, does this flick-to-throw clone do enough to stand on its own four paws in a genre that's quite literally overflowing with trash?
To use the term 'clone' may seem a little heavy-handed, but – shortly after being brought up to speed on the space-dwelling badgers and their struggle – you'll see why it's the ideal term to describe this release. The premise is to drag your finger across the PlayStation Vita's screen to determine the power of your spacesuit-wearing mammal's jetpack, while dragging up and down to aim. Sounds familiar, right? Remove the colourful backdrop and wooden castles and replace them with a basic nebula theme and several obstacles and you've got yourself Gravity Birds – ahem, Badgers.
These obstacle courses provide the core challenge of the game, and consist of quite the eclectic collection of items. Celestial colour coded rocks attract or repel your omnivore as he whizzes by, while teleports and tubes disrupt your path from A-to-B. Giant, unexplained ice cubes also make an appearance, acting as pit-stops for your cosmonaut, offering a rare yet crucial opportunity to re-launch yourself. These form some seemingly ingenious courses, but trial and error is largely the order of the day.
This method of play is where the game seems to unravel. Each level requires the collection of three glowing orbs; collect all three in one try and you'll glean a three star score, with each failed attempt knocking a point off your final rating. This works well in its avian-flinging forefather, but not so much here, as the game depends upon trial-and-error – yet penalises just that. As a result, you'll simply restart each time that your extraterrestrial mammal jettisons off into the nothingness of space, rather than re-attempt. In essence, this doesn't change much; you just have to tap a few extra buttons, which seems incredibly counter-productive nonetheless.
Having to restart so often will also mean having to navigate the in-game menu, which is frankly questionable. Glowing images represent menu options; logically these icons would relate to the process that they carry out, but that's not the case here. Like everything else, guesswork is required even for navigating the user interface, as each option is effectively just an unhelpful circle.
The tragic menu décor seems to be an exclusive issue, however, with much of the art style throughout proving quite endearing on the old retinas. It visually lends itself to the sci-fi vibe, despite its hideously basic backdrops and poorly rendered sprites. The audio is less successful, though, with a continuously looping soundtrack plucked straight from the 80s sin bin that'll haunt you throughout the 140 stages on offer.
While 140 sounds like a lot of badger for your buck, these levels follow a rather disappointing trend of being incredibly similar. Each arena features very little that distinguishes itself from the last; once you get past 20 or so stages, it's all blurred into a furry, starry mess of jetpacks and paws. The occasional boss fight could've offered respite from this tedium, but instead they work to extend it, requiring only the navigation of some firepower up until your foe spontaneously combusts.
Gravity Badgers contently relaxes in the shadow of its inspiration, doing incredibly little to differentiate itself from any of the other animal-flicking escapades out there. Its sci-fi façade is pleasant enough, but does little to mask the fundamentally unimaginative mechanics and basic gameplay on offer here.