Family holidays aren’t always what they are cracked up to be. When you look back on them from your childhood you tend to think of all the great memories, but forget about the arguments with everyone wanting to do something different and even fights over where to go in the first place! Instead of a fun relaxing break, you end up going home more stressed than you started. Therein lies Vacation Vexation… a follow-up to Mike Oliphant’s previous game Quiet, Please! and this time our unnamed heroine is going on holiday with her family but things don’t quite go according to plan…
The game starts off with the family arriving at the coastal resort – a small, quiet town but as always everyone seems to want to go and do their own thing. Dad has disappeared fishing, Mom has gone off to take up residence in the nearest café and your kid brother… well all he is intent on doing is run around causing chaos. You? All you want to do is go down to the beach for some peace and quiet and relax in the sun. It’s not that simple though as the best spot on the beach has been taken by your neighbour Mr Peabody (small world, eh?) so the game begins… you’ve got to reclaim that spot on the beach and do everything possible to prepare yourself for the perfect day relaxing.
Basically if you’ve played Quiet, Please! then you know what to expect. It’s an old-school size-view adventure where you have to solve a series of puzzles to ultimately get that spot on the beach. A number of objects can be found in all the locations in the game and need to be used on their own or in combination with others to solve the puzzles. The puzzles themselves range in difficulty but are varied enough from stealing a book from the town’s library to getting a towel from the hotel you are staying in to take down to the beach. Sounds simple enough, but as with the previous game in the series, things aren’t as easy as you might seem!
My main reservations about Quiet, Please! were that despite being a fun game were that it was just far too short. The game was limited to in and around a single location (your house) and it could be completed fairly quickly and offered no replay value. That’s certainly not the case here. While Vacation Vexation isn’t a lot bigger in terms of the number of screens, it feels bigger because of the sheer variety of locations. There’s a beach, pier, arcade, cafe, hotel, library and other locations that you can visit and even though most are only a screen or two in size it really does feel as if you’re in a much larger game world and despite the visual style each looks suitable different to each other and works well enough.
Visually, this is one of those games that you’re either going to love or hate. There’s a trend right now for 8-bit influenced graphics (Retro City Rampage, Hotline Miami, and all of Nostatic’s other offerings on PSM) and this is no different. Animation is basic but it’s bright, colourful and has a certain charm that surprisingly fits the game quite well. If I’m honest, I don’t think a visual overhaul would add anything to the game at all and might actually “spoil” the old-school feel of the game. On the sound front, it’s pretty much the same as before as well – no music, just background sound effects but they all fit the game well enough from sounds of the sea splashing against the beach, the obligatory seagulls flying overhead to the now-expected kittens (but enough about them for now)…
There’s a lot more to do in Vacation Vexation this time around and as well as the standard puzzle solving, there’s a lot more interaction with objects that you find in the game. Without giving away any of the puzzles or solutions to them, there’s a kite that you get to fly, an inflatable raft that you can actually use in the sea and a beach ball that you can kick around and everything has a use at one point or another. One of the highlights is the arcade though… while you can’t access it fully from the start, once you’ve solved a couple of puzzles you can then make use of four arcade machines that you find in there as much as you like throughout the game. Here you’ll find a mini toy-grabber, clones of Frogger and Space Invaders and a mini version of Mike’s own Kung Fu Fight! These are all fully playable games and it has to be said that they’re all pretty good games in their own right! Two of them are actually needed to complete the main game but I won’t reveal any more right now…
One thing I quite liked about this was the ending to it. At one point I thought I’d actually completed it and the screen faded to black… and then the screen faded in again, a character came up to me and the story continued with more puzzles to be solved! A great touch and this happened a couple of times before I finally completed the game. Certainly, there’s a lot more to it than Quiet, Please! and with the amount of puzzles in the game, thankfully an autosave feature has been added after each puzzle that you solve so you don’t have to worry about having to complete the game all in one go. In fact, unless you have a good few hours spare, you’ll be glad of it!
One added bonus comes after you’ve completed the game as well. You can either go back to the main menu and re-start the game from the beginning (if you want to) or go back to the town and re-visit the arcade as much as you like to carry on playing on the arcade machines there. If you decide to quit the game at any point, the autosave will bring you straight back into the town so you can keep using the arcade, giving the game long-term replayability when normal adventures would have gone long past their “sell-by-date”!
I have to be honest and say that this is a massive step-up from Quiet, Please! and is a great game in its own right. There’s plenty of humour right from the opening titles animation throughout the whole game, enough puzzles to keep you engrossed right through to completion and some good, solid arcade clones that will keep you amused and hooked in their own right – I know I got side-tracked from the main story more than a few times playing Face Invaders and Badger! My only real gripe is the save function – even though this is a fantastic addition to the game, when it does save your progress, when you return to any games you have previously saved all of the objects have been returned to their original positions. Not a major issue as any puzzles you have been solved are remembered so obstacles that may have been in your way are removed so it’s only a minor inconvenience so hopefully this will be sorted for the next in the series.
Ultimately, even without the all of the mini games I would have had no hesitation in recommending this as a fantastic classic adventure game but with all the extras as well it makes Vacation Vexation an essential purchase to add to your PlayStation Mobile games collection and for just £1.59 it’s an absolute steal.
At A Glance
- Title: Vacation Vexation
- Publisher: Nostatic Software
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes
- Memory Card Space Needed: 28Mb