When the original Lemmings came out back in the day, most modern gamers were not old enough to play video games. It had a fantastic premise where you had to micromanage a bunch of lemmings with different skill sets to complete levels with varying degrees of difficulty.
There was a climber, a floater, a digger, a builder and many others. Since it was such a huge hit, it was ported to various platforms and has spawned sequels and inspired a lot of other games over the years. In the same vein, Tetris is a game that has given birth to an entire genre of games that revolve around block positioning. When you combine elements of these two classics together, you’d expect the result to be fantastic. And MouseCraft is fantastic, but only in flashes. On the whole, the game is charming and has a cute visual design, but doesn’t really challenge you intellectually like the classics it derives from.
This doesn’t mean that the game is a complete letdown, however. On the Vita, the graphics look fantastic and the sheer goofy charm of the visuals will put a smile on your face even if the levels themselves aren’t the most difficult you’ve played.
The Game Play:
The premise is pretty simple – you have a rodent trio that you have to get from the start of the level to the end. What happens between point A and B is where the game shows you its repertoire. Our charming protagonist is a cat, but he’s no ordinary cat. He’s a wacked out mad scientist with the gear to live up to the title – huge glasses, a dingy lab coat and everything else that you can summon from the repository of mad scientist stereotypes. And he’s not confined to interludes. You can always see him in the background, looking at the results of his crazy experiments, and alternately being delighted or horrified by the results. His presence brings an extra touch of immersion to the proceedings and makes the happenings on screen even more hilarious.
You’ll find a lot of funny moments on display here – snarling mechanical mice, the souls of mice ascending to the great beyond, what looks like cheese with a strong, strong scent and other things. Watching our cat scientist, appropriately named Schrodinger, chuckle in the background as you move things around in the level is a lot of fun.
You can spin these blocks around, a la Tetris, and carefully reposition them so that your mice are able to get through to the end. If you lose all three of your mice during a level, you lose, so make sure that you save at least one to get to the cheese, even if a couple have to die for the cause. Over the 80 levels that you will play through during the game, you will encounter varying degrees of difficulty, produced by obstacles both in the environment and in the form of actual enemies. You see, our good cat tried to create mechanical mice in the past, but things didn’t go too well. To get through the levels, you can use bombs that you find at different places in stages. These bombs help you blow up obstacles and get through. In addition, you get some specialized bricks that perform some distinct functions, such as providing a safety net when one of your mice takes a fall, or indestructible ones that stay put even in a pool of acid.
When the different elements of the environment meld together, MouseCraft often produces some really interesting moments. For example, your mice can drop from great heights into water and still live, but only for a little while, or they will drown. The game could have done with more of these complex level dynamics, and it often feels like it panders to being more accessible instead of truly embracing its puzzle roots. Most puzzles will be a cakewalk for gamers who’ve had experience with puzzle games in the past, and even for those that haven’t.
The replay value:
In the game comes from shards that you can collect from various different areas in a stage. You don’t need to collect them all to complete any individual level, but you will need to have a certain amount to unlock the later stages. You might find yourself coming back to earlier levels that you sped through to collect these extra shards. The game doesn’t make any of this too difficult, since it provides you with a lot of tools to make your life easier. You are able to rest the stage, undo moves you’ve made and even stop time altogether while you figure out what you have to do. The ability to stop time completely takes away a lot of the sense of urgency and thinking on your feet that other puzzle games require. If you are so inclined, you might choose to stay away from this option to ramp up the challenge.
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