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Parallel port

Product: Machinarium | Developer: Amanita Design | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Adventure, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: US
Machinarium PS Vita, thumbnail 1
Adventure games on handhelds and home consoles historically haven't fared too well, due to a reliance on traditional control schemes using sticks and buttons.

But on the latest generation of touchscreen-sporting portables they seem to be slowly building a respectable library of point-and-click titles.

Not only is Machinarium a damn good adventure to begin with, but it's also a superb example of how to port a point-and-click game to Vita, using every trick in the book to provide a near-flawless transition.

Do the robot

We'll kick off with the game itself. Machinarium is ace: it's a traditional adventure set in a grimy, oil-smeared world of rust and tin, set against an ambient and almost ghostly soundtrack. There's no language in the game, and no voice acting. Like Escape Plan, it says everything it needs to visually.

You're a robot that has been dumped outside the city walls, and must make your way back in to save your robotic girlfriend, solving devious puzzles and thwarting some evil bullies along the way. It's a simple story, told in a not so simple way - you enter in medias res and piece together the bits you missed along the way.

The inhabitants of the city are an odd bunch: all robotic, but displaying very human characteristics ranging from nervousness and addiction to compassion and despair.

Starting out tough, and never relenting too much from then on, many of the puzzles act as significant barriers to progress, even with the walkthrough that you can refer to at any time. There's a hint system, if you just need a poke in the right direction, but it's nevertheless a slow-moving experience.

To make things slightly harder, you also can't see whether items and scenery elements are useful to you until you get close to them. But if you're an adventure game fan, the gameplay is otherwise very much the standard formula, albeit without dialogue.

Oil change

What impressed me most about Machinarium is the quality of the port. Having already finished the game on PC, I thought I wouldn't be able to easily adapt to the Vita. However, there are whip-smart additions that almost leave you thinking this was designed for the Vita from the ground up.

You can use the left analogue stick to move the cursor, with a tap of the Cross button interacting with the element you highlight. The right stick adjusts your robot's height (so that he can reach areas just out of reach), which proves an invaluable addition to the control scheme - as does the ability to tap Square and instantly move to your inventory.

Once you close the inventory, your cursor jumps back to its previous position on the screen, a thin white circle quickly targeting it to provide a visual motif for your eyes to follow, letting you get back to adventuring rather than search the screen for an easily lost cursor.

The cursor will also snap to a point of interest if you're close enough to it. Remember how you'd hunt through pixel after pixel in the older adventure games? That simply doesn't happen in Machinarium.

You needn't use the sticks, though - you can swipe about the screen or rear touchpad to move the cursor, a double-tap serving as the 'action' button. It's not as fast as a mouse, but it's easily comparable to playing on a laptop with a trackpad.

If hunting Trophies is your thing, then you'll be pleased to read that there's support for these in here too, though no Platinum. There's also a wholly pointless internet ranking facility, in which you can compare your completion score with others around the world.

Going into the review for this I expected a strong game at the core, but what surprised me most is how thoughtful this snappy port of a modern classic is. If you're yet to discover the mechanical joys of Machinarium, this is your chance.
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 12 April 2013
Machinarium on Vita is an elegant version of a great game, adapted for the platform with a good deal of thought and care
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Feb 2013
Post count:
@xxxAcesHighxxx | 14:13 - 3 May 2013

Now it's finally out in europe, Machinarium has indeed been well worth the wait, but there are a couple of annoyances that stand between Machinarium Vita and utter perfection:

The fact that it doesn't utilise Vita's 16:9 widescreen display is one of them. Aside from the opening splash screen, the entire game plays out in 4:3, with ungainly black borders on either side of the screen.

For me, the control scheme is also worthy of mention. Amantia have opted for a combination of iPad's touch interface and PS3's more conventional analogue sticks and buttons. However, instead of feeling like the best of both, the controls here feel convoluted and lacking their own identity.

Like I said, these two issues are merely annoyances, and are in no way deal breakers. However it would be awesome if Amanita were to address them.
Aug 2012
Post count:
@xeroxeroxero | 16:36 - 16 April 2013
@AcesHigh - Nothing yet, I'll go pester them to see if there's a release date for Europe / UK confirmed yet.
Feb 2013
Post count:
@xxxAcesHighxxx | 16:26 - 16 April 2013
Do we have any news regarding a release date for this one yet? Hope it hits in tomorrow's store update!
Feb 2013
Post count:
@xxxAcesHighxxx | 18:04 - 12 April 2013
Thanks for taking the time to reply Peter.

I've done a little digging around, and learnt that Amanita submitted the game to SCEE at the same time as SCEA - and it's still going through the system. Having said that, I've also found out that Sony were trying to put it out in this weeks update, but in the end it was just too tight. Therefore with any luck, I guess it *may* finally be with us next week!?? Though that's probably for the best, as I'm sure Amanita wouldn't have relished going toe to toe with DrinkBox's (utterly excellent) Guacamelee! for a share of the spotlight..!!
Aug 2012
Post count:
@xeroxeroxero | 13:48 - 12 April 2013
@AcesHigh - I can't imagine it's far off, as the vast majority of the work's likely been done for it to hit UK shores. Worth the wait, definitely!

Again, I think it makes sense for them to bring their games to Vita, and Sony seems to be courting indies pretty hard recently... so who knows?
Feb 2013
Post count:
@xxxAcesHighxxx | 13:29 - 12 April 2013
Do we have any idea when Machinarium is likely to hit the EU Playstation Store Mr W? Our North American chums got it three or four weeks back, and I'm desperate to give Josef, the little tin-can-man-with-a-plan, a home on (in?) my Vita! I have it on iPad and Mac anyway, but Amanita are properly ace as far as I'm concerned, and I want their wares on every device I own - well, excluding the dish washer and fridge-freezer!!

And how about Botanicula next? I know they're working on an iOS port as we speak, so Vita makes sense too right?!!