PlayStation Mobile will quietly be launched today and along with it, two rather impressive titles from an equally impressive developer, Brighton's own Futurlab. Having already made its mark quite admirably with PS Vita title Velocity, it should probably come as no surprise that this talented developer once again succeeds with its next, not one, but two titles.
The first of these titles, Beats Slider, has been known of for a while (albeit under a different name), although it has perhaps not had the attention it deserves. The premise is a simple one really, when starting the game up you are met with what on the surface seems to be a classic slider puzzle. The twist here is that each tile represents a section of music, with each row representing a different instrument.
Given that this is essentially a sliding block game, the aim is to get each of the fifteen blocks into the correct order, with each piece lighting up as you put it in its place. One of the neat things about the game is that as each block slides into place, it'll take its place in the music loop which is playing in the background, so the more blocks into you get into the correct place, the more the track comes closer to completion.
The reward for completion is unlocking the next level and there are quite a few to get through, in fact even the level select menu seems to form a set of tiles. To add to the challenge, Futurlab has also thrown in a leaderboard and timer, giving you plenty of reason to keep going back for more, while there is also a remix option for completed levels, allowing you to place the tiles wherever you like.
Beats Slider will come in at around 65 pence and that's got to be considered a steal, especially for a game as highly polished as this.
Beats Slider is the sort of title which may help make PlayStation Mobile a hit, although it's Futulab's other PSM title, Fuel Tiracas, which will really get fingers out of your pocket and into your wallet.
Futurlab describes the game as a combination of Whack a Mole and Spinning Plates. The aim is to boot up nuclear reactors by tapping the correct sequence on the screen and filling up the on-screen fuel gauges to equal levels. It all starts off simply enough, with only two gauges on screen, so off you go, tapping both sides of the screen as they light up, filling your gauge to the appropriate level, before tapping the other gauge and doing the same. Once both gauges are equal the reactor will activate, which will in all likelihood take you around 30 seconds; but wait, according to the leader board someone has done it in six seconds, this will never do, will it? So off you go, trying to remember the sequence (which never changes) so you can beat the smart ass who sits at the top, is it ever going to happen? Probably not, but you'll keep trying.
After about an hour you'll no doubt give in like me and move on to the later levels, although this is when things get slightly more complicated. For instance, sometimes when tapping away you'll fill the gauge too much, meaning you'll have to drain the fuel by holding the bottom of the gauge, if you don't do this quickly enough you may blow up the reactor. At the other end of the scale, if you don't fill up a gauge quickly enough, it'll run dry, also causing it to blow up. To complicate things even more, as you move up the levels, more gauges will appear, meaning you'll find yourself having to balance up to six different gauges, which isn't easy when they all require different levels to fill and see to constantly drain as you concentrate on each area.
It's all a bit of a mad balancing act, but at least Futurlab can't throw any other spanners in the works right? Wrong actually. Just to really make you lose your hair, the developer has thrown in special sequences, some of which are hidden and hinted at by arrows, some which require you to tap multiple times and some which are paired, requiring you to tap both at the same time. There are even contaminated sequences, touch these and you'll lose a whole load of fuel. Thankfully there is a little help in the shape of special sequences which stop gauges depleting for a short time and also one which freezes the clock.
Fuel Tiracas is wonderful, addictive, colourful, frustrating and bloody difficult, but you just try to stop playing it. Sore fingers and a simply outstanding way to pass the time, what more could you want for 40p?
We've not seen any of the other PS Mobile titles launching alongside the service today, but if Futurlab's efforts are anything to go by then we are in for a real treat. Best of all? They look and play wonderfully on Vita. Maybe there's some hope for Sony's handheld after all.