We’ve had our usual hiatus over the last month or so here at Vita Player and while we’re now starting to work on new reviews and features for the site ready to get back on track and we’re trying to actively recruit new writers to help fill the void where our existing team aren’t able to keep up the pace between their personal lives and working on the site, on a personal level I want to spend much of my own time working on expanding our PlayStation Mobile coverage. In the last few months the range has expanded considerably to just under 300 titles and while I have a lot of reviews in the pipeline to help all of you make informed choices over what to buy, unfortunately I felt that this short post was in order following this week’s releases…
Normally I’m hesitant about singling out any games developer or publisher, especially at a time when the Vita is crying out for games, but this week on the PSN Store there were no fewer than seven games released by Lightning Game Studios, with prices for these ranging from £3.39 to a staggering £5.49 – pretty much the same price as the PSN classic TxK. For one developer to be so prolific there either had to be a team behind all of these releases, the games needed to be ports from other platforms or something else altogether so maintaining my 100% record of owning every European-released PSM title, I investigated further…
Releasing a lot of titles isn’t unusual – we’ve seen plenty from Mike Oliphant, Thomas Hopper, Zhang Bo and more, but so many at the same time is new to PSM and something that set alarm bells ringing for me and being blunt, the warnings were justified. Normally, while I would reserve my opinions on games for my reviews, I feel that Vita Player readers deserve advance warnings regarding these titles, especially at the asking prices to ensure that you don’t get caught out purchasing them.
First in the PSN Store itself, while the games are developed by Lightning Game Studios, in the store they are listed as being by B.P. – for what reason, I don’t know but that’s what you need to look out for. On loading any of the seven titles, you are thrown in the games with no instructions, a dependence on the touch screen to start the games (even those that don’t use touch controls for the games themselves) and numerous issues but I’ll try to be brief. One thing I noticed throughout all seven were that there were pieces of music used repeatedly across multiple titles regardless of whether it fit the game or not (as Tim Collins did with his PSM games) and the “touch to start” options were very sensitive requiring the player to touch a very small defined area of the screen rather than anywhere. Extremely frustrating to say the least. But onto the games…
The first one I downloaded, Happy is a Flappy Bird clone. Very primitive visuals, not particularly responsive and at three times the price of any of it’s competitors there’s nothing at all to warrant its purchase.
Another Flappy Bird clone, this time the bird is flying at an accelerating speed through the game. Each time you flap you not only rise but move faster so the game is more inertia based that timing your flapping carefully. However, the bouncing movement feels like the bird is swimming underwater and as each column comes towards you blind, you end up flying too quickly to be able to react. Pointless.
Cubes with faces (supposed to be babies, I would assume), fall from the top of the screen, tap on them before they reach the bottom and you score points. That’s all there is to it for your £3.39!
A Space Invaders clone where you control a pineapple that shoots bullets (don’t ask – I lost all interest at this point) at waves of attacking fruit. They fire endless streams of bullets at you that are a nightmare to avoid (although I’m mention more on this in a second). Left analogue stick to move, touch screen to fire (yup, no X or other buttons which was utterly bizarre) and the attacking waves only stay in a central “block” on the screen so there are safe areas to the left and right of the playfield. Effectively you can just pop in and out to pick off the opposing fruit. The waves don’t even close ranks a la Space Invaders, nor do they speed up or descend towards you. The final nail in the coffin for this one… only three stages and you’ll complete the whole game in under 5 minutes.
Despite the obvious copyright issues with Taito, this is a bare bones clone – no powerups, bland visuals but even worse a ball that stutters across the screen as it moves, a random nature to it causing it to speed up for no apparent reason, and a bat that is unresponsive, has no precision control whatsover and is prone to jumping erratically whenever it gets close to the edges of the screen.
This one is beyond me. You’re presented with a 3 x 3 grid containing the numbers 1-9 in a random and between the numbers are four buttons. Pressing these rotates four of the numbers so you can re-arrange the position of them. I presume that you have to re-order the numbers in the grid but in what order I don’t know. I managed to get them into the order 1-9 and nothing happened. I clicked on the Solution button… nothing happened. The button that was the most productive was the PS button when I quit the game to play something else. Astonishingly, this is the same price as TxK!
A card game and I can’t really tell whether this is meant to be a variation of Klondike (patience) or not because it seems to run according to its own rules and plays against the clock. Sadly, this is the best of the bunch but it’s still one to avoid.
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It’s shocking to see any of these being approved by Sony and released, let alone all of them and they only serve to give PlayStation Mobile a bad name. These games have a combined selling price of almost £20 and about £12 of that goes to Sony Computer Entertainment. For the same price of all of these you could get three months of PlayStation Plus, a copy of Child Of Light or countless other titles for the Vita, not to mention any of the other PSM titles that are worthy of your attention and the good games that do get released get overlooked thanks to developers like Lightning Game Studios.
It’s sad to think that when I do finally review all of these, I think I’ll struggle to give any of these games a score above zero but there will be people out there who will part with their money and if these just happen to be their first experience with PSM then it doesn’t bode well for the format in the long run…