Vita roundup: Duck Souls+ / Mekorama reviews

We’re taking a look at two brand new games for the Playstation Vita today – Duck Souls+ and Mekorama.

Duck Souls+

Developed by Green Dinosaur Games and published by Ratalaika, Duck Souls+ is a port of an earlier release on Steam that is a challenging retro-inspired platformer starting a little duck with the ability to dash in mid-air in order to reach platforms, bust through walls and evade traps.

Over 100 levels, you have to retrieve missing eggs in a barebones narrative that’s all about staying alive and getting to the next checkpoint. You’ll land on spikes, get fired on and get crushed, but restarts are instant so you’re never far away from your next attempt.

duck souls

The difficulty level in each of these 100 levels is very well balanced – there’s a learning curve, but things never feel difficult to the point of being completely unfair. And while the easiest levels can only last a few seconds, some of them will have you go through 10 or more retries as you try and nail that last jump before the finish line.

As with most of Ratalaika’s games, Duck Souls+ is a cross-buy title with the PS4 version included. It also has a trophy set that you can complete within an hour or two – two if certain levels turn out to be especially challenging to you. There’s a casual mode and a hard mode, but you don’t need to play on ‘hard’ to get the platinum trophy.

It’s a fun, well-crafted little platformer, and I was happy to play it through all the way to the end.

Score: 6.8/10

Mekorama

Developed and published by Rainy Frog (with a little porting help from Ratalaika), Mekorama is a charming little puzzle game that was originally released for mobile platforms.

In each of the game’s 100 levels, you help guide a robot through 3D diorama levels that can be fully rotated to give you different views of the challenges you have to overcome. The lack of a free camera option means you can’t always explore a level from the angle you want to, but the game’s puzzles have been designed with this in mind – giving you just enough of a view to help you figure things out.

If that doesn’t help, the game also provides a helpful in-game hint system, which usually gives you just enough to help you get past a certain part of a puzzle without giving away the solution. With visuals that remind me of both Minecraft and Fez, it’s a wonderful exercise in creativity to see how different some of the levels can be from one another – and the 100 levels provide plenty of value since I estimate it’ll take about five to six hours to get through everything (I haven’t finished the most difficult ones yet).

mekorama2

The biggest problem in Mekorama lies with the game’s mobile origins. Originally designed for touch control, you don’t have direct control over “B” (your robot) but rather point him where you want to go. That works pretty well, but the problems start when you start manipulating parts of the environment. Blocks can be moved, but getting them to stop where you want them to can feel quite finicky – possibly because of the Vita’s relatively small screen compared to a tablet screen.

This also makes the included level editor a bit uncomfortable, but it’s a lovely feature to see. If you can look past the control niggles, this is a fun little puzzle game – though it’s probably best enjoyed on a larger tablet screen. If you’re not a tablet gamer but you love puzzles, then you could do a lot worse than this.

Score: 6.6/10

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