Sunday, 20 July 2014

One To Watch: MouseCraft [PS Vita]

Here's a quick question: What do Schrödinger's Cat, Mice, and some tricky Tetris-style shapes all have in common? Well, they are all part of a new wacky puzzle game called MouseCraft, which has been developed by Polish indie studio, Crunching Koalas, for the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita.

The game is a kind of hybrid of two great gaming franchises - Tetris and Lemmings.  Players must help the main character - a cat named  Schrödinger - to fulfill his scientific experiments by guiding a trio of mice along a platform from A to B.  This may sound simple, but it is a lot more complicated than it sounds.

Players must use a set of  Tetris-style blocks, which can be picked up, rotated and arranged in a way that creates a safe pathway for the mice. The game only requires players to get one of their three rodent charges all the way to the goal for a new level to be unlocked. Along the way, the trio of mice have to collect several blue crystals and other items which Schrödinger sells to fund his experiments.

Any mouse who makes it to the end of the level without dying will receive a cheese-based reward, but there are a tricky selection of obstacles and hazards which must be overcome if the mice are to get their paws on the coveted cheese prize.

There are eighty different levels to complete, which are split across four different stages, but each of these stages contains many obstacles, including enemy rats, pools of water and/or acid, and various forms of electrocution to contend with.

Don't worry though, players can unlock several special blocks as they successfully complete each level. For example, Bomb blocks will explode in order to clear the pathway ahead of difficult or wrongly-placed blocks, Jelly blocks will cushion the mice's landing if they should fall and Crumbling blocks slowly disintegrate when placed, to allow the mice to get past an area more easily.

Some block shapes can also be rotated in such a way to create steps or stairs leading to higher platforms, which can help the mice to locate blue crystals that would otherwise be unreachable. Nevertheless, all blocks must be placed carefully if your rodents are going to cheat death. Mice can jump off a singular block without harm, but will fall to their death from a platform that is any higher than three blocks.

The different types of blocks and the way the shapes can be rotated to intersect each other is brilliant, and seriously adds to the replay value of the game, and there is even a fun and easy-to-use Level Editor mode, so that creative players can attempt to construct their own challenging levels once the game's core stages have all been completed.

Unfortunately though, the Level Editor mode has one slight flaw: There is no online sharing features in this game, which is a bit of a disappointment, as none of these player-created levels can be shared amongst fellow PS Vita users.

In conclusion, MouseCraft is a very fun game, which will provide an adequate number of gaming hours for most people. The colourful cartoon graphics and witty style help to make the game very entertaining.

Furthermore, the game is subject to Sony's Cross-Buy policy, which means that if you purchase the game in one format, it becomes automatically available for download on any other formats that the player might own as well. Thus a PS3 and PS Vita owner only needs to purchase the game once in order to play the game on both consoles, making MouseCraft very good value for money.

If you like zany gameplay, brain-bending puzzles and cute cartoon characters, then this is most definitely a worthwhile game for your collection. Overall Mini Gamers Rating: 8/10.

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