Speeding onto the PlayStation Mini platform soon!
PlayStation Minis, Sony’s slightly more pricey equivalent of the iTunes App Store for the PSP, PS3 and Vita, just hasn’t gained the popularity that I am sure Sony was hoping it would. A lot of this is due to the lack of innovation concerning the games that are available on the service. Don’t get me wrong, there are some real stars there, but for the most part the games have lacked the “wow” factor.
Which is a real shame as the PlayStation Minis platform gives indie developers a chance to display their wares without having to fight through the crowds. One developer who is using the platform to maximum effect is Brighton-based FuturLab. Their first game, Coconut Dodge, charmed gamers by casting them as a Crab who has to catch good stuff and avoid bad stuff. Whilst not exactly the deepest game, it is very easy to play and difficult to put down once you get going. Coconut Dodge was even named PSN Game of the Year 2010 by PSNStores.com.
But now, FuturLab are about to launch their second game and they have left the Crab behind and ventured into space. The studio have set out to make ‘The Best Game on minis’, lofty aspirations I think you’ll agree. But, you know what? I think they might do it…
Velocity is a vertically-scrolling shooter with a retro styling. Players work their way up the screen, shooting down formations of alien ships whilst rescuing stranded survivors. So far, nothing particularly new then. But what makes the game innovative, and thus a lot more interesting, is the very simple teleport mechanic.
Whilst their ship is flying through the levels, the player can hold down a button and a cursor will appear. Move that cursor anywhere on the screen, and the players ship will be teleported instantly to that point. This changes the dynamics of the game. Now, rather than having a scrolling shooter, you have a scrolling shooter/puzzle game. The levels are laid out fairly simple to start with. The player comes to a dead end and they can simply teleport over it before the bottom of the screen reaches their ship and continue on their way.
But quickly the levels get more complex, with the player having to zap around all over the place to avoid dead ends, rescue survivors and even activate switches. Some of the levels even have the player rushing through with a time limit, tapping into a style of twitch gameplay which can only be called challenging.
Of course, there are still aliens to shoot through all of this teleporting. The player can also use bombs, which can be fired in all directions, to activate difficult to reach switches or take out annoying turrets.
Whether or not FuturLab have managed to produce ‘The Best Game on minis’ will be for the players to decide when the game launches on May 16th (May 2nd for PlayStation Plus subscribers), but there is no doubt that Velocity is one of the most impressive mini titles that I have ever played. Watch out for our review around launch date.