MouseCraft – First Play

Mice have long been used as a joke in cartoons. There was poor Jerry being constantly chased by Tom and even Pinky and Brain would inevitably end up in some sort of funny situation. The upcoming MouseCraft, published by Curve Studios and originally developed by Crunching Koalas, feels like a homage to these cartoons.

 

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In MouseCraft, the purpose of the game is to try and guide a bunch of mice to the cheesey goods that they seem to enjoy so much. However, there are also Anima shards scattered throughout each level and only mice can collect these shards. As you might expect, it makes the task of shepherding the little blighters to the promised cheese not so straightforward.

The idea behind collecting the Anima shards is so a scientist can continue his experiments. No questions asked, if it’s done for science, then it is perfectly acceptable. Naturally. Except there must be another reason for this task, but it wasn’t possible to find out during the demonstration.

From what I can gather, a limited number of brick shapes are placed down on the level from the start. These will serve as platforms, enabling the mice to crawl their way towards the cheese. However, as you might assume, this isn’t all straightforward, considering the mice move automatically and it becomes increasingly difficult to guide them along the right path.

Fortunately it’s not necessary for every mouse to survive – although you will miss out on 100% completion by not accomplishing that. The poor mice can die in various gruesome ways, such as being crushed by the very brick shapes that could lead them to the promised land.

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With further in-game progression, new mechanics are constantly added, such as the ability to place brick shapes after the mice have started moving. MouseCraft is actually a very flexible puzzle video-game when it comes to how it’s played. There are handy abilities that make it possible to speed up the action (for the not so patient) and undo any actions taken, like placing a shape incorrectly. This is also useful if you wish to attempt a level in a different manner. Naturally, this also makes it easier to attempt various methods of  completing a level, without having to worry constantly about the poor mice dying.

What is so great is that MouseCraft isn’t content with sticking to the same ideas found in early levels. Instead, it keeps on adding all sorts of new, fun ideas, such as a bomb item to break brick shapes that are blocking the path. Then there are different brick shapes – one looks like jelly – and hazards like water and electricity.

With each new idea introduced, MouseCraft grows into a better game – like a fine mature cheese, if you will. It was satisfying to figure out some of the trickier levels during the demonstration.

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It looks great on all platforms, which makes sense given this isn’t a game made to showcase visuals. However, the PlayStation Vita version works best due to the controls. The ability to drag brick pieces and interact directly with other features is fantastic. It’s definitely much easier than with a controller and it’s the sort of title that will work really well on the move.

As an extra incentive, there is also a level editor which makes it possible to create custom levels. At the moment it isn’t possible to share these with other players on PlayStation hardware (only on Steam). However, there is the ability to use the same save file across the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita cross-play version.

MouseCraft certainly has the potential to be an interesting puzzle video-game and one that can captivate players for hours.

It even contains robot mice. Who doesn’t love robot mice?