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Vempire (Minis)

For: PSP


Product: Vempire | Developer: Impressionware SRL | Format: PSP | Genre: Puzzle, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Vempire PSP, thumbnail 1
The vast numbers of match-three clones sloshing around the internet are testament to the casual phenomenon kick-started by PopCap's Bejeweled and since taken on by the likes of Puzzle Quest.

Like those experimental mice who will keep pressing a button that jolts their brains' pleasure centres - even to the neglect of food and water - people can't seem to avoid addiction to the simple joys of creating matching horizontal or vertical lines.

To that degree, then, it's no surprise to see an incarnation of the genre among the 13 launch titles of Sony's PSP Minis program.

Although, if you want to get technical, Vempire is actually based on Bejeweled Twist, PopCap's latest iteration, which has you matching four coloured objects by rotating any 2x2 selection on the game grid.

There is a slight gameplay difference here as you can rotate your 2x2 selection clockwise and anti-clockwise - something that sits well with the PSP's shoulder buttons. Bejeweled Twist's control - designed for simplicity and single button mouse use - limits your moves to clockwise-only.

As the title suggests, Vempire's theme is ghoulies, monsters and blood suckers.

It has you matching objects such as gold blocks and evil-looking potions, while fighting off demonic bosses and purchasing and unlocking minions and suitably creepy power-ups to speed your progress.

The flow is straightforward, with each of the ten levels being split into three quests and one harder bonus mission: 40 in total. You have to complete each set of three quests to unlock the next level.

Along the way, you'll collect currency in the form of the gold bars you match. These are used to buy power-up minions such the Fairy, who turns all rock objects into gold blocks, or the Zombie, who randomly destroys a column of blocks.

To summon them you have to follow specific match patterns. In the case of the Fairy it's matching four potion items followed by four test tubes. To summon the zombie, you'll need to match-four: two lots of blue vials.

The other element of Vempire you have control over are the artefacts. You unlock these by completing each bonus mission, and they act as modifiers increasing the probabilities of different objects appearing in the levels. There are nine in total, and you can equip up to four at the start of each quest or bonus mission.

On the downside, each level has a boss - such as skeleton warrior, ghost or a spider - who will be appear at various times. These essentially act as obstacles by obscuring or hiding the game grid, hence delaying your moves.

This is important as you only have a set period of time to complete each quest. Generally, the difficulty level is set low, though, so you shouldn't need to retry many of them until you're into the later parts of the game.

This isn't the case in terms of the bonus levels, however, with the hardness of the second one, in particular, set too high for such an early point in the game.

More generally, it's also the case that while Vempire is functionally satisfactory, and works well in terms of the PSP shoulder button control scheme, it's not a game that generates much excitement.

There isn't much coherent in terms of the design either. Things just happen as you make the quickest match-fours you can. Neither the minions or artefacts really add anything substantial.

Faced with such an experience, then, even the experimental mice might choose to take it or leave it.
Vempire (Minis)
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 12 October 2009
Vempire is a competent match-four game, but other than being a launch PSP Minis title, there's not much to get excited about
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