You may recognize Housemarque from such games as Super Stardust, and Resogun. The Finnish developer has made some of the best shoot-em-ups around lately. Furmins is not one of those. Starting life as an iOS game, the surprisingly great Furmins has finally made its way onto the PSVita.
An unexpected diversion
Furmins is basically what happens when you take The Amazing Machine, Pinball, a dash of Peggle, and some Tribbles, toss ‘em all into a blender, and pour yourself a puzzle game smoothie; delicious. The basic premise is to get your Tribbles, er… Furmins from one end of the stage into the goal.
It works in two steps: the first step basically being a clone of The Amazing Machine and others of the ilk. You move objects like bumpers, or boulders around the screen to set up a path from point A to Point B. Some objects, like the melting blocks of ice that need to be perfectly timed are especially unique.
The second step is where Furmins really sets itself apart. Once you hit “Play” certain elements of the level become interactive, such as bumpers or treadmills. So rather than just creating the perfect physics-based Rube Golberg contraption and watching the results, you need to actively assist in guiding (or more often flinging) the cute little fuzzballs across the level. Some of the levels are really creative and unique within this little sub-genre. The low gravity bonus stages do some really cool things with their physics.
Your first impression of Furmins will likely be “well, this is an adorable clone of something I’ve played dozens of times already” but trust me, you’ll want to give it a few levels. The clever physics and timing based puzzles get devilish to work out, especially when trying to grab all the pieces of candy for the bonus stars you’ll need to unlock all the levels.
The fun really begins when you have to start taking a more active roll in the transport of fuzzy cuteness. Timing bumper bounces, treadmill reversals, etc, is extremely fun, and wildly addicting. You need to collect stars gained from beating levels under a certain time, collecting all the candy pieces, etc, in order to unlock later levels, but don’t worry, you’ll have no problem getting enough to unlock the whole game. Besides, trying to figure out the best way to finish all the levels is half the fun!
The graphics and sound in Furmins are about what you would expect: terribly cute. The big bright-eyed Tribble-like creatures are adorable, especially when they shout with glee as they plummet off the bottom of a level to their certain death. Happiest little things ever. The level backgrounds, with their oil painting art style are quite nice without ever proving to be a distraction. Honestly there really isn’t all that much else to say about the audio/visual department in Furmins, other than it’s perfectly competent. And cute. Did I mention the game is cute?
The Trouble With Tribbles
My only complaint about Furmins would be that on some levels it is unnecessarily hard to place object with the required pixel-perfect accuracy; the Vitas screen is just too small. They really should have added the ability to zoom in on the larger levels where things just get way too small to manipulate accurately. Aside from that minor quibble, Furmins is rather excellent. It gets plenty challenging without ever quite reaching that point where you want to start yanking hair out, and is a ton of fun to play whenever you have a couple minutes to mess around. For something that is ostensibly pretty derivative, it manages to actually be surprisingly unique and refreshing. For the money you really can’t go wrong with Fumins for getting your cute puzzling on while on the go.