The launch of a new system always brings games that are keen to show off the capabilities of the new hardware. The PlayStation Vita boasts a suite of nontraditional control inputs, and Little Deviants is more than a little obsessed with them. Touch screens, motion sensors, cameras, and a microphone are all put to use in this decent minigame collection that lets you control the antics of bland blobs in a generic cartoon world. The skill-based games pair nicely with the focus on high scores, but even the best activities are only mildly fun. Though it lacks charm and has a few duds, Little Deviants serves as a fine showcase for the Vita's more unusual control inputs.
There are 16 game types spread over 30 levels, and you won't need to touch an analog stick at any point throughout the few hours it'll take you to complete them all. Some of the more familiar challenges include tilting the Vita so that your balled-up Deviant rolls through a maze, tipping the system side to side to navigate down a meandering mine shaft, and using the touch screen to aim and fire a cannon. Slingshotting your Deviant around a wrestling ring and raising a hill with the rear touch pad to roll your Deviant around are two of the more creative options.
Many of the games can be played while holding the Vita in the standard, horizontal fashion, but some require a vertical orientation. In one game, you tap the front and rear touch pads to knock robots out of a grid of windows, and depending on your finger length, you may need to resort to some strange grips to better position your hands for success. Little Deviants encourages you to rethink the best way to hold your handheld system, and sometimes a minor adjustment can make a big difference in your score. The majority of the games respond well to the various control schemes, but some have problems that a different grip can't fix.
The primary offenders are the herky-jerky races to escape a robotic sperm whale. As you flee on a rocket down narrow corridors, shifting camera angles and unclear obstacles make safe steering needlessly difficult. Worse, the courses have a disorienting habit of forcing you to turn around large bends rather than leaving you in full control of your ship. Picking out three pitches that the Vita will differentiate during the singing minigame is also tricky, and spinning a gear with opposing touch pad swipes is awkwardly imprecise. Fortunately, of the seven repeated game types, only the races suffer from serious problems.
The majority of the games work well, and they are generally complex enough that it is increased skill rather than dumb luck or brute force that yields better scores. Most levels contain obstacles to avoid or enemies to destroy, bonus stars to boost your score, and a box-faced cat to add to your collection. While it is fun to try out the various activities, much of the novelty wears off quickly, so the only replay incentives are improving your control dexterity and earning higher scores.
The bronze/silver/gold thresholds and displayed scores of your friends encourage some score-chasing fun, provided you can maintain a connection to the PlayStation Network. Neither the game nor the Vita makes it easy to have multiple players on one system, so though you can still hand your system to your friends to play, they won't be able to record separate scores. Furthermore, if you lose your connection to the Internet mid-game, an obtrusive message window pops up to tell you about it, but it doesn't automatically pause the game. These irritations aren't major, and the incentive to top a friend's score can be a strong motivator for just one more try.
The novelty of using the various Vita control schemes is a fun reason to play Little Deviants, but score chasing generates most of the game's lasting appeal. The Deviants themselves add little to the package; their generic brand of wackiness and the insipid looping soundtrack are easy to ignore and mute, respectively. Though there are a few misses, most of the games here provide enough entertainment value to make Little Deviants a solid way to put your shiny new Vita through its paces.