Without a doubt the underdog of the Vita launch line-up, Frobisher Says is quite possibly the most refreshing gaming experience on Sony’s spanking new handheld. Developed by British-based Honeyslug (Kahoots, Hohokum) the Vita’s first free-to-play title is wildly eccentric; a zany parade of vibrant colour and interactive artwork that can only be described as WarioWare on crack. If you have yet to experience the original GBA classic or the company of Aunt Nora (might have to Google that one) just to clarify, it’s crazy; off-your-tits crazy and the best thing is that its absolutely free.[boxout]Frobisher Says is a compilation of over 40 quick-fire mini games. In the title’s primary mode a barrage of these reflex-centric puzzles are hurled at the player; the quicker they manage to resolve Frobisher’s tasks, the more points they are awarded. After a prescribed number of mini-games, the mode ends and your total score can then be directed to an online leaderbeard.
The game also features multiplayer, though for obvious reasons it’s restricted to local play only, supporting up to 8 players via one console. After choosing from Frobisher’s bizarre roster of characters, players can either compete for the highest scores, or play a sudden death variant in which the first competitor to fail a mini game is given the boot until one player remains. No matter how you play Frobisher Says it’s incredibly easy to get into and downright addictive, especially given the added score-chasing element.
The games themselves come in a number of wacky variations, from delivering a pudding via toy train and fighting a bear, to smiling at semi-nude ladies and poking an otter with a stick. One element they each have in common however is that they all clock in at under five seconds, Frobisher Says requiring lightning reflexes in order to grab top spot on the leaderboards.
BigBig Studios’ Little Deviants has often been cited as the go-to game for showing off the Vita’s capabilities, though Frobisher Says is just as good of a demonstration, if not better. Touch screens are used to swipe, tap, and pinch on-screen objects, a couple of the mini-game also make use of the accelerometer. Even the front and back cameras are put to use, with one particular mini-game requiring players to wink at the front camera, a gimpish looking avatar dancing as you alternate from eye to eye. In another, Frobisher tasks you with locating a colour-specific item in your immediate vicinity, putting minimalists at a significant disadvantgae.[drop2]It’s worth mentioning that the game offers very little in the ways of hints and tips during gameplay, which isn’t as obstructive as it sounds. During most of the puzzles a small, non-intrusive diagram of game-specific controls are displayed, leaving the player to work it out for themselves. None are particularly taxing, and though failing a mini-game will incur a split second of frustration, this is easily outbalanced by the sudden sense of achievement the next time around.
By far the most endearing element of Frobisher Says is the basic yet completely outlandish art style produced by London-based Richard Hogg. Even outweighing the unique artistic direction Sony’s Japan Studio took with Loco Roco and Patapon, the vivid contrast in colour and slightly eccentric designs never dull no matter how many times you speed through the same puzzle over and over. The music is just as quirky and uplifting, and though Frobisher’s voice will no likely grate on you for the first minutes, without him the game would certainly shed a degree of comedic value.
- Doesn’t cost a penny.
- A diverse gallery of mini-games, often forcing players to think independently.
- Looks absolutely stunning. Who said video games can’t be a form of art?
- Vita functions are integrated perfectly.
- Some mini-games require a well-lit playing area. It would be nice to disable these puzzles from the playlist for player convenience.
- Doesn’t support trophies (mainly due to it being free software.) According to the team at Honeyslug this may change in the near future.
Visually striking, hilarious, heart-warming and, most importantly, fun to play, we still can’t believe that Frobisher Says is a free download. It may not have the substance or longevity of Uncharted or WipEout, but manages to maintain equal, if not better, replay value, ideal for short five minute bursts or social gatherings.