Date: 12-21-2010 19:01
Author: Mason King

PDC profile: Mason

I must confess that I didnít give this game a second glance when I first saw its appearance on the PlayStation Store last month. But then I had the PS Move supported demo a try, and I'm glad that I did. Read on to find out why!

The Basics

The uniqueness of Funky Lab Rat, compared to the vast amount of platformers, is that it allows the player to manipulate time . You have the power to help your character by pausing, zap/skipping forward, and rewinding time. Incidentally, your character is a small rat that is on a quest to escape a crazy laboratory while bizarrely munching up pills on the way. This un-earthly lab is the reason that this rat holds such magical powers, and youíll be sure to use them frequently in order to carry out your escape plan. You're not mistaken to think that this storyline is equally strange and confusing, because in all truth, thatís exactly what it feels like upon starting up the game. However, youíll soon overcome that feeling to find a polished and fun platformer underneath.

The basic controls of the rat are something youíll find of a consistency through 2D platformers. The player's movement is performed with the left analog stick on either a DualShock or navigation controller, depending on your preference of using a PS Move. The rat can also jump with a swift press of the L1 or Move button, which felt awkward on a standard pad, but performs well while using the Move. You also are in possession of a flash-light (torch), which you can control with either the right analog stick or by moving your move controller in a torch-like fashion. The inclusion of the torch puzzles me to some extent because itís not really a feature that adds to the gameplay, and feels tacked on as an afterthought perhaps only there to take advantage of the Move. Nevertheless, you can use the torch to reveal pills and exit gates that are hidden under a bunch of clouds.

Where the game gets really interesting is with the time manipulation. Each of the symbol button (, , , & ) is assigned to a different time-bending technique, which will vary depending on your control choice. The ability to pause time is perhaps the best ability offered, because it allows you to pause in-game and manipulate certain objects to help you through the level. You must be wise with the use of these however, since you are only given a select number of pauses throughout each level, which adds to the puzzling aspect. Other abilities including skipping levels entirely that your stuck on, rewinding time when youíve made a mistake, and even starting the level again from scratch. These are ideal for making the game a whole lot less stressful when you are getting stuck.

Puzzling Labs
What I enjoyed about Funky Lab Rat was the variety in levels. Each level presents you with a new task where you have to put your platforming and puzzling skills, as well as your time manipulation abilities, to the test. You may be required to shift wooden blocks with your pause and grab technique to open up pathways for your character, which later on gets used in creative ways to progress through the game. The variety of levels will keep you entertained, but I must warn you that you will only get full enjoyment if you play the game in shorter bursts. I often found myself playing 4-5 levels before taking a break and returning later.

Completing levels in the game will give you a rating of gold, silver, bronze or nothing depending on how many pills you manage to pick up from that level. This gives the game some re-playability, as you hunt down those final pills to get the golds. Some later stages however throw you very difficult puzzles, so you may see your streak of gold medals slowly dropping to bronzes.

So, Anything Else?
The game lacks any additional modes or multi-player options, just the main set of levels. I also felt that some kind of creation mode, similar to LittleBigPlanet offers, would have been a nice inclusion, but for an inexpensive PSN title, youíll find plenty of enjoyment here. There are also trophies to be unlocked in Funky Lab Rat, which are mostly earned from unlocking new worlds to play in, but there are a few you might want to work for, such as collecting all the pills in the game. Graphics are presented in a pleasant cartoon style, with bright colors, which is something that's missing from many of this generation's games. The audio is not too spectacular, but you can play your own music from the XMB , which I found satisfying.

Bottom Line
Funky Lab Rat is a fun platforming game that is perfectly suited for Sonyís Move controller, but it's not as magical on a standard pad. In the game you'll find a lot of fun and level variety in the main levels for it's low price-point, but you might not have any reason to come back to it in the long run, with it's unfortunate lack of any extras.

Funky Lab Rat was developed by Hydravision Entertainment for the PS3. Itís now available on the European and North American PlayStation Store for £5.49/$9.99 respectively. I spent over 7 hours puzzling and re-puzzling my way through this game, spending most of the time using the Move controller.

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