posted 4/10/2013 by Jeremy Duff
other articles by Jeremy Duff
Platforms: Vita
I think that I made it pretty clear in my review of the PlayStation 3 version of Germinator that I am something of a bubble-popping-game addict. This genre just always hooks me, no matter how obscure or simple the game may be; I’ll pop bubbles all day if you give me the chance. The PS3 version of Germinator was a solid entry into the genre and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, I just felt that there were some areas that could have used a little bit of improvement. I never would have expected that there would be such a marginal improvement in the overall experience just by porting it to a handheld, but that is exactly what I have experienced with the Vita version of the game!

Now, since I already spoke at length about the gameplay and mechanics of the title in my PS3 review, so I am not going to dive too deeply into those same details again. As I said before, Creat Studios hasn’t made much of an attempt to fix anything that wasn’t broken in this genre. The core, bubble-popping mechanics are as solid as any game before it and the twist of giving special abilities to the different colored germs goes a long way to freshen up the experience. All of that has carried over to the Vita without a hitch; actually, it works better thanks to the improved controls (which we’ll discuss later).

The experience offered here, in terms of game modes identical to the PS3. You have the same story, puzzle and arcade modes to choose from. The only difference really lies in a vast improvement of your control options and a better setting for the concept. From a control perspective, the touch screen brings a lot to the table for the Germinator experience. Sure, you still have the option of using the analog stick for aiming your shots, but why would you use that when you can simply touch the screen where you want your shot to land. This makes pinpointing more difficult shots so much easier that I can no longer imagine playing the game any other way.

That isn’t to say that the touch functions take all of the challenge out of the experience. Very rarely do you have a direct / straight on shot; most of the time you are going to be trying to either bank off of a distant wall or thread the “needle” through a small window of opportunity between existing germs. Thanks to the touch mechanics, you can do this things at a much quicker pace than trying to line up things with an analog stick. As beneficial as it is to the control-experience, it also makes things more frantic as it moves the game along at a much faster pace.

When I mentioned that the Vita was a better “setting”for the experience, I meant that primarily toward the system’s portable aspect. These types of games are better suited for short spurts of gameplay versus the traditional, extended experience found on a console. When I sit down on my couch and fire up a game to play, I usually intend on being there for a while, and in those cases a puzzle game isn’t exactly my first choice. However, whether I am car-pooling to work or killing some time waiting in a doctor’s or dentist’s office, the quick-fix style that the genre offers is exactly what I want (and need). The game is better suited as a mobile title and as a Vita game, that is exactly what it comes across as. The result is a more enjoyable experience, primarily because it is packaged better.

Not everything from the console version of the game made the jump to the Vita version however. The Youtube video option found in the console version has been scrapped. Actually, I considered the inclusion of the video uploading ability to be a detriment to the overall experience on the console. With a majority of the stages in the game’s modes being set pieces, having the perfect solutions posted out there on Youtube so easily would lure people away from putting in the effort that the game needs(and deserves).  While this doesn’t impact the overall experience much (if at all), it is a decision that I question; was that option really that hard to implement into this iteration of the game? I can’t imagine that it provided much of a technical hurdle given the power of the Vita, but hey, what do I know?

I still take issue with the game design of the main modes of the game. The story and puzzle portions of the game are too “predetermined” for my liking; I like randomness in my puzzle experiences and these are set pieces with one ultimate solution. Now, when you dive into the game’s secondary (or should I call it tertiary) mode, the Arcade mode, you will experience puzzle-bliss. This mode is fast paced and completely random, truly challenging your skills at not only aiming your shots but managing your colors and powers. This should be the focus of the game, not just the last option available on the main menu.

I thoroughly enjoyed Germinator on the PS3, and I absolutely adore it on the Vita. The added portability of this version of the game goes a long way to making it a more enjoyable experience. the game works better in short spurts and the Vita promotes exactly that: short, quick spurts. You can’t stop what you doing on the PS3 only to come back and pick right up at a later date; you can do exactly that on the Vita. This is where the game belonged form the start!

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

Rarely do you see the portable version of a game eclipsing its console counterparts, but that is exactly what the case is here. Germinator “feels” better on Sony’s handheld and result is a much more enjoyable game overall. I still wish the gameplay experience felt in the Arcade mode was more of a focus in the story portion of the game but I can deal with it thanks to its new-found portability until Germinator 2.

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