Maddening, confusing, awkward, and humiliating; Frobisher Says! can be all these things.  Yet I dare you to play just one round, and not come back for several more.

Beginning initially as a pre-order incentive for the PlayStation Vita, the game has been released into the wild and upon the masses since October 23rd of 2012 with a price tag of exactly zero dollars. While the word free hasn’t always been synonymous with quality, this is an exception. At a point in which our time is equally, or more valuable as our dollars, Frobisher Says! is worth your investment.

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Consisting of just fewer than forty ridiculous micro-games that seem to utilize every aspect of the Vita’s hardware, this is the perfect crash course for new Vita owners. Executing quick cuts of eccentric random humour and sporting an art-style out of a John Kricfalusi cartoon, the game oozes character. Forget the sterile and bland Welcome Park, you will wish there was a way to remove and delete it – but in the end you will have to settle on forgetting about  it because Frobisher Says! is vastly superior in every way.

Let’s take a moment before we proceed to address the rather large elephant in the room, yes this is indeed a game that is very much in the vein of Nintendo’s popular WarioWare franchise.  However, as much as fair of a statement as that is, it is not at all a slight against the Frobisher Says! as its own title.

Frobisher Says! takes itself with a sense of self-deprecating humour, asking you to “play our stupid game”.  The core gameplay is a battle for points. In the standard Fixed Length game mode, you will be judged by your ability to complete mini games successfully and quickly. But the game also allows for a dubious sudden-death mode for those so inclined.

Each of the micro-games varies in quality, as you may have presumed with a title such as this. The best of the lot tend to utilize the Vita’s physical inputs. Whether you are clogging leaks using the front touch, scratching backs using the rear touch, or popping heads using both; all of the Vita’s inputs get a moment to shine.  Furthermore there are also quite a few games that make interesting use of the front facing camera, asking you to smile or frown at prompts or to make a silly face.

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Sadly the worst of the bunch are unmistakably the augmented reality (AR) based games.  While none of these games are in any way “broken”, they just aren’t practical Asking me to frantically tickle my Vita’s backside in public is one thing, but asking me to chase an AR bird while on the train is another. While it is possible to turn all camera and microphone related portions off, it should be mentioned that they do make up a considerable portion of the mini-games.

Book-ended between each one of the games is a distinct proclamation of the moniker “Frobisher Says!” in a quirky English-accent. Before you know it you will blast through a round of these bite-sized bits of fun and within moments will be slamming the “Again! Again!” button with a reckless abandon reserved only for marathoning a season of Game of Thrones.

Surprisingly Frobisher Says! also hosts a few extra social features that you may not have expected, including local multiplayer and near functionality. Pass and play multiplayer gaming may not exactly be new, but it is a welcome inclusion. The ability to rush through a round, tally your score and compete with friends is something that I think will give this rather short game the legs it needs to remain untouched on your console. As for the Near functionality, Frobisher Says! makes use of it by filling a gallery by exchanging receipts with others who you’ve come in contact with. While neither is revolutionary in their nature, both are additions you wouldn’t have predicted to be included in a free game.

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Speaking of the word free, the game is exactly that. There is no “freemium” here, no dangled carrots, and no pay to win; but there is however paid DLC for the game. There are two paid DLC packages, the Super Fun Pack, and the Mega Fun Pack. Both of these extensions add 15 extra games, and cost $1.99 each.  Nevertheless, you will never be pressured or taunted at any point to make a purchase – nor is it essential to the experience.

For those trophy hunters out there you should also take notice that Frobisher Says! comes complete with trophies, and they are quite easy to acquire. Just starting a game will earn you a bronze, as will watching the credits without skipping.

Shortcomings aside, it is hard not to recommend Frobisher Says! to everyone who has a Vita. Whether you are an early adopter or a new convert, there is something for you to enjoy here. Where Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the title you pull out to show the Vita’s graphical capabilities, Frobisher Says! is the game you use to explain how the Vita’s hardware works. A couple of quick rounds of zany micro-game action and you are able to wrap your head around every one of the Vita’s functions.  Even if you yourself are fully aware of what the Vita has to offer, then there is still enough insane humour and fun to be had and for you to enjoy. Even with its limited length, at the supreme price of free there is no excuse not to play this game. SCEE and developers Honeyslug have given Vita owners a gift, and you owe it to yourself to play it.

  • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

    Great reviewer of a fun little timewaster. And at free everyone should at least have a go!