Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
I have just screamed "Frobisher!" into the bottom of my Vita whilst sat on a train, moments after waving the console up and down to try and cool down a flushing, cartoon Japanese woman. I'm getting some strange looks. A middle-aged woman across the aisle has coughed pointedly a number of times, appraising me disapprovingly over the top of her oversized, horn-rimmed spectacles.
I conclude that Frobisher Says! is not really a suitable game for public transport.
Sony's gift to those who pre-ordered the Vita (soon to be free to all-comers in a month or two), Frobisher Says! is really a tech demo first and a game second. Forty or so mini-games have you manipulating the portable console in front of you in a variety of different fashions, making good use of every technological gimmick that Sony's shiny new product has to offer.
One game sees you having to quite literally smile for the camera, with the game reprimanding you if there's not quite enough light in the vicinity. Simultaneous use of the two analogue sticks sees you playing the accordion, with the next game perhaps asking you to plug leaks using multiple inputs on the touchscreen, or hiding from monsters with the aid of the rear trackpad.
It's all very bizarre stuff, with each mini-game prefaced by the seemingly self-satisfied smuggery of a snooty child, voiced by Kevin Eldon, who sneers "Frobisher says..." before ordering you to embark on the latest slice of Vita frottaging. Drying an "unfeasibly long sausage dog" has you frantically rubbing both front and back touch panels, you see.
The closest point of reference is probably WarioWare Inc., the devilishly wacky assortment of mini-games that graced the DS. Though the Wii version might be more fresh, there's none of the family appeal of standing around and making a tit out of yourself with this title, understandably so. Unfortunately, though, neither is there the quick-fire urgency that one gets with Nintendo's slice of insanity on the DS.
Frobisher Says! offers up two simple game modes: a fixed-length mode that sees you trying to beat the clock to work out exactly what to do in each game, and then doing it, with a score for your reward at the end; and a sudden death mode that has you attempting to string the longest run of successes together, one at a time.
Sadly, there's none of WarioWare Inc.'s longevity, and no real incentive to continue past the first five minutes, as the limited number of mini-games soon becomes repetitive. There's an expansion pack that delivers many more, but whereas the point of Nintendo's game was to provide a frantic, disorienting slalom of zany appeal, with objectives and an end goal to chase, here the games are rather more self-contained. Somehow Frobisher Says! manages to both overcomplicate the core mechanics while providing too basic a framework to begin with.
Then again, the point is to instruct and amuse, which Honeyslug have managed quite nicely. The local 8-player, pass-the-Vita mode creates some brief chuckles, and it's worth downloading if only for the WTF? appeal and because it's free. Honeyslug have done a good job of ticking off every bit of Vita hardware, and some of the mini-games may well warrant a few chuckles, but with space at a premium on those memory cards, it probably won't stay on your system for long.
That said, when you're about to fling your Vita across the room after someone pips your MotorStorm RC score by a fraction of a second, winking at a games console to make a merry man dance can sometimes break the rage. It's also the only Vita game I've seen to be responsible for making a child exhale Lilt through their nose. It's a fine, fun, frolicsome introduction to the Vita's notable features, and it might even put a smile on your face as it shows you the ropes.
Oh, and did I mention that it's free?!
- Does a better job of introducing the Vita's tech than the Welcome Park
- Funnier, too
- It's free.
- We'd probably mark it down if it wasn't free
- Not really a game, as such
- "But Frobisher said..." won't stop you getting asked to leave the quiet carriage.
The Short Version: Frobisher Says! could use a bit of structure to at least give it some semblance of lasting appeal, but as an introductory tool for the Vita it rather excels itself. And it's free - if it even gives you half a guffaw, it's done it's job.