The cool thing about running an indie game studio is being able to try different ideas for games. Vector Unit, a team that established itself off of arcade racers like Beach Buggy Racing and Hydro Thunder Hurricane, decided to do just that with its mobile release MouseBot – and now that game is getting a fair chance on consoles.
MouseBot: Escape From CatLab doesn’t attempt to reinvent the mobile experience for something new, but, surprisingly enough, it still works. In the game, you control a mouse robot making its way through a series of mazes while cat scientists observe from above. Though the general goal of “get to the end” is there, MouseBot offers other tasks as well, and rewards players for them.
For instance, there are various bits of cheese to collect in each stage, as well as traps to avoid. There’s also a hard-to-snag heart piece that can require a bit of thinking to get to. Oh, and for you speedrunners out there, you’ll also be rewarded for completing the level in a certain amount of time. Do all this and you’ll conquer the stage and get closer to unlocking power-ups, such as the ability to transform into a hoverboat in some stages, as well as the helpful sidestep ability. The dozens of skins you can pick up are fun too, though built generally for cosmetic purposes.
The gameplay is pretty cut and dry and doesn’t really revolutionize enough to make MouseBot any kind of elite platformer. But there’s some old-school fun to be had here, and completing the game 100 percent does have its certain challenges. Not to mention the whole thing costs $5 anyway, which is a pretty fair bargain considering what all you’re getting here.
The game also benefits from a decent presentation. It runs fairly smoothly and has a great deal of character with its little mouse bot, though it could’ve clearly used more cut scenes. The music’s not bad but gets repetitive over time.
While it would’ve been nice for the console version of MouseBot to get something extra – a multiplayer component or leaderboards, perhaps? – it’s not too shabby. The game keeps its basics in check and throws in enough gameplay tricks to make the whole thing worthwhile. It may not be a classic like Vector Unit’s other endeavors, but it’s a neat idea that still works. And in this day and age, it’s always nice as a studio to try a little something different.