Frantics Review

Frantics is the latest party game entry for Sony’s Playlink and it is exactly what you would expect from a party game in the vein of a Mario Party - a combination of several mini-games that a group of friends could casually play together. However, unlike other titles, Frantics does not require any additional gaming peripherals to be able to play multiplayer. All you need to do is to download the companion app to your phones, and you and friends are ready for a game of Frantics or two, using your phones as controllers.

I love the idea behind Playlink to use the phone as a control device for party/social games. With your mobile phone replacing the need for exotic and gimmicky gaming devices, even your non-gaming friends and family can easily join you. Easy accessibility is, in my opinion, a great feature for a social game and Frantics does very well in this department.

You and your friends will have to compete in a series of mini-games hosted by a sarcastic Fox. There are 14 or so games and three modes to play. You could play each mini-game individually, or make up custom matches, or let the game host randomly select series of mini-games to sow fun and discord among you and your friends. I find the Fox game mode the most fun since everyone can just jump into the game on the go.

There are two types of game modes the Fox hosts: short and long games. For a short game, you have to compete in three mini-games, with the winner getting a crown for each one. In the end, everyone will have a chance to bid on extra crowns at an auction with the coins they collected in the mini-games. The one with the most crowns wins the match. In the longer game type, instead of letting the player with the most crowns win the match, the crowns turn into Life for the final battle royale, so the one who earns the most crowns has an advantage... but victory is never guaranteed.

The mini-games themselves are enjoyable and each clearly designed with a unique theme. Not all of them are reflex-based mini-games that you would expect. Some are cleverly designed to make players negotiate, form uneasy alliances, and then backstab your new alliances. There are also races that test your reflex and ability to sabotage. In the Friendless Runner mini-game, which is designed and controlled like an endless runner game on mobile, you are not the only one running on the track. You and your friends push each other into obstacles or work together to activate switches to remove obstacles. Each player has three lives, and the one with the most lives emerges victorious in the end.

There are also turn-based games like Chair Riots where you play a curling-like mini-game. The twist is that the players can place traps before the match starts. Your goal is to aim for the center of the target as close as you can in two turns, but you never know if a springboard would activate and throw you off the field, making you come in the last despite your perfect aim.

In addition, the Fox may call a player and give them secret missions to give an incentive to do unusual things in upcoming matches, such as intentionally letting the other player win for possible bonus crowns. This clever addition makes the matches even more frantic and intense. You will never know whether your friend has a secret mission to let you win intentionally to earn themselves a bigger bonus or not.

The game also makes use of the phone’s motion sensor and touch screen to turn it into an impromptu controller for the mini-games. You need to tilt your phone, tap the screen and swipe left and right to play several physic-based mini-games. The controls are great and responsive most of the time but there are some hiccups along the way. Very rarely, the control inputs may simply refuse to register. It is not a serious problem but can be annoying when it costs you a victory.

Obviously, as it is a party game, Frantics is best played with friends. The luster of the game quickly dissipates if you have no one to play together with because playing with NPCs is not the same as playing with actual human companions. It is a party game after all. Even the charming host, the Fox, recommends friends over NPCs.

Frantics is a great entry for Playlink with impressive use of mobile devices for casual mini-games. The games are imaginative, amusing and easily accessible for everyone. If you are looking for a well-made game to casually spend time together with your friends, you cannot go wrong with Frantics.

Lv-99 simple sheep