In 2009, Firemint defined a genre with their hit line draw guiding game Flight Control.
Becoming instantly popular on the iOS AppStore and then being ported to various other platforms, Flight Control spawned an abundance of games attempting to emulate the success. And while none of these games have quite lived up to the original, Men’s Room Mayhem is fun and charming enough that, in certain ways, it just might be able to.
Well, charming might not quite be the right word, but fun it is. The wave-driven gameplay has you guiding an array of would be toilet goers to urinals or cubicles – depending on what they… require, designated by the yellow drop or roll of toilet paper in the bubble above their head. In the main mode, they come in waves (rather than an endless drivel of toilet-goers), each of these busier and with bladders fuller than the last.
Scores are persistent between waves in a game and there’s a short bonus stage between each, allowing you to clean up any spillages or pools of blood from fights, which happen when two bursting customers cross each others’ paths.
It’s a very solid system – the score is multiplied by the amount of the people in the bathroom which makes it much harder when there’s a large mob. Bonuses such as making customers wash their hands before leaving or leaving a space between urinals for ‘etiquette’ points push this score system forward, as well as the regular cleaning rounds offering up extra points.
Objectives keep the gameplay (and the toilets, since they’ll push you on to playing more) fresh as a core part of the game’s ranking system. By completing objectives – such as making X people wash their hands in a round or having Y near misses with toiler-goers – you’ll get points towards collecting bronze, silver and gold medals, although these are largely pointless.
With seven locations, including pubs, hotels and even a festival there’s a lot of variety, including level-specific characters such as the hippie, who may take some time to stop and dance; the drunkard, who will walk at a randomly assigned pace; or a woman, who will cause the males in her proximity to stop in their tracks.
Mayhem has a noticeable sense of humour; it’s mostly toilet humour – literally – but the pixellated blocks while the men do their thing define the game’s tone from the get go. Presentation, too, is lovely – the menus are simple and touch-based and while the animated characters aren’t anything special, they do the job, before doing their own job.
Strip away all of the toilet locations and characters, however and all you’re left with is a not quite good enough line guiding game: the drawing itself can feel a bit disjointed as you have to draw around obstacles perfectly, which is a task even on the Vita’s large screen; objectives don’t refresh between rounds, only when you start a new game, essentially making you restart (and lose your high score) if you want to progress through the ranks, nor do they have enough variety; an array of speeds for different characters can soon become messy and make it much harder than it needs to be.
- A fun, cheap distraction.
- A good bit of variety with characters, gameplay and locations.
- Solid scoring system.
- Wave gameplay works well; a different approach to the genre.
- The core gameplay isn’t fluid enough.
- Objectives are too similar and aren’t refreshed immediately.
- Progression feels largely pointless after unlocking all levels.
Despite the somewhat flawed core gameplay and objectives system, Men’s Room Mayhem is a good bit of fun and a good distraction for the price – just don’t go in expecting a worthy rival to the brilliant Flight Control; while that game and the title song lingered in your head for months after, this will be much forgotten much quicker.
Don’t let that stop your toilet fantasies however (although, please do stop those other ones) - it’s great for the budget price, particularly on the Vita.
Men’s Room Mayhem will be available for £1.99 on Vita (half off for Plus subscribers) later this week or for 69p on phones without the additional bonus content.