Frantics (PS4), the latest offering from PlayStation in its Playlink mobile-phone based series, is a selection of 15 mini-games designed to get people who wouldn’t normally play video games – play video games.
You can either play them on your own or – as PlayStation hopes – in party mode, with other people. The games are hosted by The Fox, a game-show styled presenter who will, from time to time, mix things up by calling on a player to do a particular thing. It’s a good way to keep the party atmosphere going and does create some uncertainty on how things will go.
You download the Frantics for PS4 companion app onto your smartphone (either using Google Play or the Apple App Store) then use it to tilt, swipe, drag and press your way through the mini-games. You use your phone’s camera to take a photo of yourself, which is then displayed in-game.
Winning a mini-game grants you a crown, which becomes one life when you tackled the final mini-game, so the more crowns you have the better your chances of coming out on top as victor. You can also collect coins which can be used to upgrade abilities, which comes in useful.
Most of the mini-games are sports games. In Friendless Runner (an endless running game clone), you use the phone screen to swipe left, right, up and down to avoid obstacles while trying to bump opponents into said obstacles, loosing a heart). It’s fun but might not keep you entertained for too long. A nice touch is when you die during a round (race) you can sabotage a player, lessening their chances of winning.
As a weekend warrior cyclist one of my favourites was Tour de Frantics and there’s a Bomberman-style one and a football/soccer type one and I was impressed by how responsive the phone controls were: They’re simple enough to mean that there’s no confusion while you’re playing the games.
Look, Frantics isn’t going to be for everyone, it’s not ground-breaking and it’s unlikely to hold your attention for long, but it’s a nice addition for people who aren’t into gaming but are keen to game in a party-style environment while using their smartphones.