The PlayStation Mobile platform hasn’t exactly taken off in the way that the PlayStation Network has, despite offering a few classic titles for handheld devices. This is mainly due to the fact that there is a lack of unique and memorable content from the provider, something that UFO Dad seeks to fix. Coming from Canadian studio Edit Mode, this new puzzler brings a few new ideas to the now-familiar match-three puzzle genre.
While the attempt to offer something new to a saturated genre is admirable, UFO Dad misses the mark by failing to be a fast-paced, replayable or fun puzzler. The art style and design are full of life, creativity and humor, but the game itself isn’t hugely entertaining.
UFO Dad starts and ends with a simple and funny premise: Dad has created a Wonder Spatula, a device so perfect for flipping burgers that alien invaders have come from other worlds to take it by force. It’s up to Dad and his suburban family to save the day, grill some burgers and bring an end to the classic midlife crisis. The art style is cartoonish and funny in its mockery of the suburban lifestyle, and the attitude of jokey fun the developers have towards the game is enjoyable. It’s always good to see a company stop taking themselves so seriously for a few minutes.
Even though it’s just a small part of the game, the details put into Dad’s design are just too funny to ignore. It’s easy to get fooled into thinking you’re playing as your own dad, watching him flip burgers nonchalantly while pulling off the sandals with socks combo. Dad is given plenty of personality in just a few shots; it’s just a shame that the character isn’t present in a better game.
The gameplay itself is a mix of familiar elements from other games, presenting a decent title that’s not exactly a blast to play. Dad (or any of the other three family members) are tasked with matching colored blocks in groups of three or more while avoiding the aliens’ tractor beam and other falling blocks. Said blocks rise from the ground at a steady pace, giving the player the opportunity to clamber over the playing field and get in the game. While it’s fun at first, things don’t really pick up until you’re a good few minutes into the round, making the first handful of levels a bore. It’s possible to raise each level of blocks manually, making things move along faster, but UFO Dad still moves at too slow a pace to be instantly replayable.
Similar to other puzzlers, the name of the game is earning high scores, and that’s really the only goal. Matching as many similarly colored blocks as possible is one of the few ways to rack up points, and it can be a tedious process depending on the sequence of blocks you’re given. Granted, characters are given a pretty wide range of mobility and are able to smack blocks all across the board, making it easy to see potential in the game, even if it fails to be fully realized. Special powers also help nab points, as do grills that help destroy blocks, but again, the variety is extremely limited.
Incentives for continuous play include unlocking the other three family members (all of whom have various special abilities) and the chance to get a high score to show off on the leaderboards. While that might be more than enough for most casual players, the package just isn’t varied or fun enough to justify hours of playing time. Admittedly, the price tag is affordable at a measly $4, and the promise of free DLC to come is enticing, but as the game stands now, it doesn’t offer enough to stand on its own.
If you’re a true puzzle junkie who seriously can’t get enough of the genre, then UFO Dad is an interesting title that’s worth the small price just for the humorous presentation and somewhat crafty gameplay. However, if your love for puzzlers is anything less than obsessive, you won’t find much to love here, aside from Dad’s rockin’ spatula.
This review is based on a copy of the game that was given to us. We played it on the PS Vita.