With many saying that iPhone has the market on small app-like games, you’d be best thinking that Vita has already lost and that everyone else but Apple should just pack up and go home. PS Vita though, has already proved that it has some tricks up its sleeve, with excellent budget titles such as Motorstorm, Super StarDust and now, the game we are here to talk about, Blobber Team’s A-Men.
Even though A-Men is a decent little title, you do however have to get over the awful script, with LOL’s, noob and self-referencing, it makes plenty of attempts to sound cool but ends up being more like your dad trying too hard. Move all that aside and what you have is a really challenging puzzle/platform game that feels like a blend of Lemmings and forgotten classic The Lost Vikings.
The initial setting is at an A-Corp factory, a company that creates robotic soldiers, A-Droids. Even though an incredibly dangerous product, the staff at the factory seem to like goofing off and use these A-Droids as target practice out of hours. Calling themselves the A-Men, the six workers manage to inadvertently set off the factory machines, creating hundreds of the A-Droids whom then run amok through the factory. The A-Men try to rectify this by setting the factory to explode and stop the toy uprising but absent mindedly forget to set the charges, and in their hasty escape crash their chopper.
The levels have been split into four distinct environments to avoid any repetition, Forest World, Seacoast World, Winterland World and Factory World, with each being extremely challenging; even the first basic tutorial level in the jungles caused plenty of deaths. Each level is laid out like a platform game, with varying different ledges and holes to jump across. With the touch screen you are given the freedom to move the camera around, checking out the lay of the land and zooming in and out by pinching the screen to get a better overall picture before tentatively moving your character through the hazard laden lands. The aim of each level is to dispose of a set amount of A-Droids to allow your chopper to safely land and get you to the next drop zone.
The A-Droids come in a few flavours, the basic grunt will just walk left to right, stopping at walls and turning right around again; these guys are pretty basic though and will also walk right off the edge of platforms, irrespective if they will survive or not. This can’t be said for the more advanced A-Droids, who are not only aware of holes and traps but will also use lifts to pursue you; killing these guys required a lot more forward planning. As with any of the enemies, if you catch their line of sight they will sound a trumpet and then charge you, outrunning you most of the time and ending the game.
It’s not just the A-Droids that cause problems, with spike traps, walls of napalm, boulder traps, electrical wires and land mines all out there for you to get killed by. But whatever can kill you can also be used to kill the A-Droids, with the basic droids just happy to walk into a spike pit or some bare electric cables, the more clever A-Droids you can trick by luring onto camouflage land mines.
Whilst you have a few solo missions, most will involve a selection of the A-Men already saved; switching between the available characters is simple with a tap of the shoulder buttons. Initially most of the levels are quite daunting, but with trial and error, patterns and the level layout presents itself, showing obvious areas where each of your team can use their skills.
Of the six A-Men, only five are playable, with each one able to pick up and use items specific to them. The Private is able to use a rifle and explosives, handy for shooting a rope with a large boulder attached to it or just lobbing a grenade into a crowd of A-Droids; the Engineer can create and destroy bridges and ramps, the Spy can imitate A-Droids; the Strongman can pick up and throw large boxes and also get the attention of the brainier A-Droids and cause them to run towards him. There is also a Commando, who uses parachutes and grapple hooks to get behind enemy line and finally, the sixth member, the rather dopey chopper pilot.
Each of the A-Men’s controls are a mixture of both button and touch screen, with you moving around with the LS and jumping with X. Each of the A-Men’s abilities appear on the right of the screen, allowing you to either use buttons or the touch screen. With the inclusion of their own items each character is able to interact with other items, switching off and on power sources, plunging a detonator or opening trap doors. With so many switches in each level, when you approach on, you’re able to use a pair of binoculars to zoom into what the switch operates, allowing you to perfectly time triggering a spike trap just as an A-Droid walks over it on the other side of the map.
Though you can pass the levels by just clearing the required amount of A-Droids, trying to dispose of them all will earn you plenty of extra level points, which alongside any points earned in the side challenges can be spent on items of clothing for your team and also gifts for you Near friends.
A-Men is a great title for the Vita, utilizing the large portable screen with well animated characters and some punishing and well designed environments. Just getting through the bare minimum is a challenge enough, while completing levels 100% offers plenty of head scratching moments.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
A-Men is available now via the PlayStation Store on PS Vita. Why not buy some instant credit from ShopTo and save yourself some cash on this and other games.