Title: Vitamin Z
Developer: Namazu Studios
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 165 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Not Available
PSTV Support: No
Games that are free-to-play have a certain reputation, depending on what console you’re referring to. Free games on Mobile are known for having outlandish Micro-Transactions to be able to grab easy money from you. In the console world, it comes and goes. Some free games don’t force these purchases onto you and some do. Some games have them as required content and some have them as optional content.
With the PS Vita, it’s been the same. Some free games don’t pressure you to buy anything, whereas others do. Some free games also have a habit of not being as well-tuned as other games. There have been a few free-to-play games on the Vita that have had very poor performance, most likely as a result of the lowered development with it being free to play.
As we move forward, we have more free games to look into. In the library of free games, let’s take a look at the most recent that has come to the PlayStation Vita, even as an exclusive title. Here is my official review of Vitamin Z!
The story of Vitamin Z is very short and shown in very short scenes. There isn’t an overall plot, but the basic premise is that you play as a mad scientist whom accidentally created a concoction that turns fruits and vegetables into sentient zombified fruits and vegetables. She then sets up a large arena to create and kill all of these zombified foods for the thrill of it.
The story definitely has a cute and Dexter’s Lab sort of feel and look to it, but there are no scenes to be able to see a deepened story. It’s more or less a setup to show you why you’re shooting at zombified foods as you play through the game.
Vitamin Z is an arcade-like game that may not have a specific genre associated with it. The game feels like an action game, but also feels like some sort of tower defense game at the same time. You will be in the middle of the stage on a spinning platform, trying to shoot and fend off enemies as long as possible before the game ends and you can jump back in and try again. At best, it’s a defense-oriented arcade shooter.
The game only has one game mode, which is the campaign. During the campaign you are on a central platform, fending off enemies as time goes by in the hopes of getting through to the next floor and so on and so forth throughout the entire building you’re set up in. You’ll keep fighting until enemies attack you long enough to run your HP out when you get a game over and collect the money rewards you earned as you played through the game.
Combat in the game has you on a rotating platform that acts as a constant gun turret. You can fight enemies with these as well as super attacks that must be charged to use or recharging stomp attacks to not only damage but force enemies back away from you. As you defeat enemies, items will appear as well, which have multiple purposes. Some of them replenish HP, some give you specific power-ups like freeze weapons or time-altering weapons, and others increase your damage.
When you get a game over, you are given all of the currency that you collected by defeating enemies. This can be used to purchase upgrades such as starting on higher floors, increasing the damage for specific weapons, extra lives, among other things. These are easy to get to begin with, but the excessive playing of the game will soon be made apparent.
Many of the upgrades cost thousands upon thousands of currency, and if you don’t do really well at the game you may come out of a single game with not even 100-200 at your disposal. Because of this, the game is very grind, heavy and it may take you dozens, if not hundreds of plays through the game just to get the upgrades you need to get to the higher levels.
Another thing that comes into play here is micro-transactions. Since money is so hard to come by, the game has a lot of PlayStation Store links thrown in to be able to spend real money on in-game money. This can be cheap, but the game does pressure you to use in-game money if you don’t want to spend hours upon hours of grinding to get what you want.
All in all, the game is fun, but it’s not very long either. With the upgrades you need, you could pass the entire game in less than 20 minutes. However, getting to that point could take several hours of grinding beforehand. Overall, there’s not a lot to the game aside from the base gameplay that’s shown even from your first sitting.
Like many free-to-play games on the Vita, there are a couple ways of playing the game. First of all, you can only navigate the game’s menus with the touch screen. There are currently no button controls for navigating that area of the game with the Vita’s physical buttons. You can also use the touch screen to play the game, tapping the area you wish to move your aim to or tapping on the base or charge icon to use stomp and charge attacks.
When you’re in the middle of a game, you can rotate yourself with the Left Analog Stick and move the aim further out from you with the Right Analog Stick. Using the Stomp Attack is done with the Square or R buttons and the use of a charged attack is done with Triangle, Circle, or the L trigger. All in all, it’s a very easy control scheme to learn.
Visually, the game looks decent. If you see zoomed versions of the characters, you will notice that there isn’t a huge amount of facial detail, but with the camera angle where it is, all of the models and effects look very crisp and clear, without many jagged edges to see at all. It is a very nice part of the game.
The problems with the presentation come from some technical problems to be addressed. First of all is lag in the menus. Each time I have tapped on a command to go from the main menu to the next, there is a delay where the game freezes and doesn’t do anything for about 3 seconds. This is more than a load time, but the game stopped, trying to process the command before the loading sequence even begins. The loading itself isn’t bad, never offering more than about 6-8 seconds before loading the game.
One last thing is also with the touch controls. There is lag when you use the touch controls in the menu. However, in some areas, tapping the screen won’t do anything at all unless you try it a few times or more. I have many cases where I would tap a command two or three times in a row and nothing would happen.
Vitamin Z is a very cute and odd take on the normal zombie formula. On the downside, there are a good number of technical problems holding the game back tied with very grindy, repetitive gameplay and pressure to spend real money on in-game currency. The base gameplay can be fun, but not to the point of justifying several hours of grinding.