Five years ago when the Wii was launched we saw Rayman: Raving Rabbids, a mini-game collection about a bunch of adorable, albeit rambunctious critters that showed off the at the time alien system's unique capabilities. Now, five years later, we have the similar Little Deviants for the PlayStation Vita on the horizon. While the game shares spiritual similarities with the Rabbids series, Little Deviants also feels entirely unique, thanks in large part to the technical capabilities of the Vita.
The final game is to include over 30 mini-games. In my hands-on time, I got to test four of them. The first was called "Botz Blast," and it was an augmented reality game about shooting robots chasing the deviants. It operated like the 3DS's Face Raiders, in which you view the world through a camera and aim by moving the system around. Unlike Face Raiders, Little Deviants also uses the touch screen. When robots squirt slime at you, you have to manually wipe it off the screen. Doing so was as strangely gratifying as wiping a windshield with a squeegee.
Afterwards, I played a variation of whack-a-mole called "House of Whacks," in which you're presented with a 3x3 grid where deviants pop out and you need to tap them for points. The twist is that sometimes they'll be facing the other way and you'll have to use the back panel to thwart them. Also, you must avoid hitting humans. The rear control panel works better than one would think since you're essentially playing blind. It's instinctive where you're touching the controller so this rarely presented a problem. The size of the system, however, was an issue. My tiny hands couldn't reach the center of the system's back without adjusting my grip, in which case my thumbs could only reach the edges of the front screen. The big screen may be nice, but in instances like this it's a mixed blessing.
Next up was "Hole Control," which is controlled entirely with the rear-touch pad. This is a top-down game about guiding a deviant to a hole ala golf. The catch is you can't control the deviants directly, so you roll them around by terraforming the landscape. Touching the rear panel raises the ground, while sliding your finger around causes the terrain to ripple. It's a bit fiddly and overly sensitive, but maybe it just takes some getting used to. There are also UFOs trying to capture the deviants with their tractor beams, so one must avoid those.
The last game I played, "Depth Charge," was the simplest and my favorite. It tasks you with guiding a falling deviant down a canyon so they can diffuse a bomb at its base. This is done entirely by tilting the system. Curiously, deviants can (and must) fall up at times. It doesn't make sense, but it's fun. As they fall, they have to collect stars and avoid something that looks like cobwebs or whirlpools. It's very simple, but extremely precise, and the screen looks amazing even when viewed under obtuse viewing angles.
Unlocking new mini-games will be mostly linear as the campaign follows a loose story arch, though there will be options to bypass certain games. This way you won't hit a roadblock if you're not good at a particular game or wish to avoid playing a mic-based challenge in public, for example.
While it's hard to shake the feeling that deviants are merely orange Rabbids, the games I played generally performed well and showed potential for the PlayStation Vita. Whether it'll be more than just a tech demo remains to be seen, but when it comes to opening up new gameplay possibilities, it gets the ball rolling.