When a developer leads off by telling you their game is a unashamed cross of Lemmings and Tetris, you can’t help but raise an eyebrow. Having said that I played it before they lead off with anything and the first thing I said was that it was exactly that. Well a slow paced Lemmings crossed with Tetris with a Lost Vikings feel, anyway.
I was lucky enough to play the Polish developed Mousecraft at EGX Rezzed earlier in the year, thanks to PlayStation conversion specialists, Curve Studios, when everyone else at the event seemed to be paying Krunching Koalas’ game no attention. I played maybe 8 levels of the title and fell in love with it.
The idea is that you are assisting a cat called Schrodinger (I kid you not) and you have three mice that you have to guide from their starting position to a plate full of cheese. Simple enough, and rather Lemmingy in a loose three rather than a hundred kind of way. The thing is that unlike Lemmings, that in some cases the path to the cheese isn’t just blocked a la the green haired rodent juicers of old, but there are gaps where blocks are needed. So rather than equip the mice with abilities like the amazing purple clothed cliff divers, you have to place blocks which look suspiciously tetromino like into the playfield to allow the mice to get to their cheese… sometime while picking up other things too such as “Anima Shards” which form a type of in game currency. Of course it’s not that simple as sometimes you have to add a block after the mice have passed once, deal with bombs and even explode parts of the level out of the way of your migrant meeces. There are also jelly blocks, explosive blocks and electric bricks to take out invading enemies, which start appearing as you progress along the 80 levels and five locations. Schrodinger is essentially finding ways to build a mouse powered machine, you know, like you do!
To be brutally honest it probably is a bit pedestrian for some gamers, even with the ability to fast forward the game but if you want something a little slower paced than Lemmings or even Flockers (assuming it is, indeed, coming to the PS Vita), then this is certainly worth a look. I warn you though, like SteamWorld Dig and other mini-surprises, it will get it’s little rodent claws into you and compel you to have just one more go at each level, esepcially as mastering each and every level isn’t as easy as it looks. You will be going back to improve on yourself.
A big bonus to the game is that even when you have finished story mode you can create your own levels in a very easy to operate level editor. I just hope that it will allow direct sharing of the levels with other players with an update in the future.
Graphically it looks just like the PC version (and every other version) and even at close inspection, the graphics look great, and certainly are far more than adequate for the game, while the music and sound effects are pretty much bang on for the tone and pace of the gameplay – the PS Vita is not getting a poor-mans version of the game by any stretch of the imagination.
As with many indie digital releases on the PS Vita (and PS4) these days this originated on the PC, however Curve have done a better job on the conversion to the PS Vita, and I say conversion rather than port with intent, as some of the features of the PS Vita have been utilised. The touch screen support in a game of this type really does make a huge amount of difference both in gameplay with being able to use it to position the bricks and rotate them, but also with selecting and dragging items in the games level editor. The game was originally developed in Unity, so I suspet that helped Curve as I believe the support for native PS Vita features in Unity is rather good.
This is a cross-buy title across PS Vita, PS4 and PS3 (it’s offered as a bundle of the three, in fact, on the PlayStation store at a normal price of £9.99) and also offers cross save (referred to as “Cloud Sync” on the menu screens of the PS Vita version.)
The game is a great puzzler and though perhaps at the upper price range for such a release, I do feel it offers great value for money with the number of levels, level editor and the fact it has been converted to the Vita properly. I have no hesitation in recommending it to everyone (my wife and children keep playing it, to give you an idea) and although it’s not exactly cutting edge nor all that original, per se, it does offer a unique twist to the puzzle game genre and has to be worth checking out if you have interest in the genre whatsoever. Now excuse me while I go back and have another go!
You can find the game on PlayStation store at https://store.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com/#!/en-gb/games/mousecraft/cid=EP4395-NPEJ00333_00-B000000000001136
At A Glance
- Title: Mousecraft
- Publisher: Crunching Koalas (original PC version)/Curve Studios (PlayStation conversions)
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: Yes (PS3 and PS4)
- Cross Play: No
- Cross Save: Yes (PS3 and PS4)
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 247MB