As I looked at the snazzy fox cradling a wine glass with aplomb in one hand, I started remembering my niece going “stahhp it” with a funny, nasal voice for some reason. I couldn’t help but laugh.
Anyway, that, in a nutshell, was my first thought after loading Frantics on my PS4 Pro one Saturday afternoon.
Admittedly, I didn’t really know about the game until the telltale review code popped up in my email. As a video game agnostic, however, I’m always game to try any title, pun so totally intended. The fact that I frequently have large family gatherings in my house also makes an all-ages party game a welcome addition to my library. Then again, this isn’t your typical party game. That’s something I learned quickly as I perused the instructions that came with review code I got (yes, I actually read that stuff, which apparently isn’t universally true based on the creative ways some video game companies bury the code within the text to force you to read it).
See, Frantics also requires you to download its PlayLink app on your phone or other device in order to be able to play the game. Depending on your point of view, that’s either a good thing or a bad thing. Personally, I’ve viewed such value-added tech shenanigans with suspicion ever since the god-awful experience that was the Final Fantasy IX official guidebook’s PlayOnline tie-in. Just remembering it makes me want to wear a hat made of durian on my head to make the bad smell go away.
On the plus side, syncing the Frantics app with the PS4 game was incredibly easy. Once linked, I was able to use my phone as a controller, allowing me to swipe, shake, tilt and flick my way to party town. Granted, it’s not as unusual a gimmick now given that modern controllers have that functionality, too?— heck,? the PS4 Dualshocks even sport touchpads. But it’s nice to have an actual colorful touchscreen at your disposal. The main downside is that you lose the pinpoint accuracy of an actual gamepad. It’s one reason I’m not a super big fan of mobile games.
Visually, the game emulates that 3D animation style that has been a mainstay at movie theaters since Toy Story burst on the scene. Frantics’ style for its odd animal cast looks a bit more Dreamworks than Pixar to me, which honestly can be like a potato-potahto situation for some. Regardless, kids will likely approve despite the absence of familiar characters like a Mario or even a Rabbid. The characters have that goofy look that’s sprinkled with just enough “crazy” to give the characters a bit of an edge. Personally, I thought they looked hilarious?in a good way.
The minigames themselves should feel like familiar fare to folks who have played the Mario Party games over the years. This means frantic four-player action, an assortment of activities and plenty of opportunities to sabotage your opponents. Got a favorite friend or cousin to play with? Chances are, you’re gonna hate his or her guts after a few rounds of this game?— hopefully, while chuckling like a madman because you’re a good sport. Seriously, this is not the kind of game you would want to play with a sore loser.
Games include Friendless Runner, a behind-the-back race that has you avoiding obstacles while you try to make your competitors’ lives miserable. Then you’ve got ParaChuChu, an airborne version of a game of chicken where the last person to deploy their parachute without splatting on the ground wins — hopefully while making your foes lives miserable along the way.?You also have survival type arenas, including one with bombs raining from the sky and another one on a slippery surface where you have to try your darndest not to fall off the edge, all the while trying to make your enemies’ lives miserable along the way. Other games have you sabotaging your rivals by strategically placing mines on the field to make your their lives miserable along the way. Yup, I’m noticing a pattern here.
As with other party games, some of these minigames will be hit or miss and folks will find ones that they like and ones they don’t.?Frantics also doesn’t have that board game mechanic you see in games like Mario Party or even the Pac-Man party games. If you like to go straight to the games then that’s not an issue. Otherwise, if you want your party games to have that larger game within a game presentation, then it would be a bit of a bummer.
Personally, the game has two key downsides for me. One is the less accurate controls that I mentioned earlier. The other is the final part of each game set you play where you can better stack the odds in your favor by buying crowns. Depending on how that final part goes, it could totally make it your great overall performance from the earlier games feel like they were all for naught. While it’s certainly nice for everyone to have a chance to win at the end, part of it also seems a bit unfair.
Then again fairness isn’t exactly a priority for Frantics or even most party games in general. After all, this is a game where having a sense of ethics and fair play is definitely a disadvantage. If you have no problems with sabotage and selling your soul all in the name of minigame victory, this game was made for you.
Frantics carries on the tradition of party games with its kooky cast and sabotaging shenanigans. The mobile device requirement adds an extra element to gameplay but also serves as a barrier to entry. The final minigame competition for each set of challenges can also feel unfair at times. That being said, Frantics offers a solid selection of activities for you to undertake against friends and family. If you love the minigame genre and engaging in friendly sabotage, this’ll be worth checking out.
Rating: 7 out of 10Cost: $24.95, PS4https://www.playstation.com/en-gb/games/frantics-ps4/
Technobubble covers games, gadgets, technology and all things geek. Follow Technobubble poobah Jason Hidalgo’s shenanigans on Twitter @jasonhidalgo or his Tabiasobi Youtube channel.