Vector Unit's recently released MouseBot is both a change of pace and a return to roots for the small team so to speak. It’s not another entry into the Jet Ski world like last year’s Riptide GP Renegade, but it is another entry into mobile platforms. This time around you will be "driving" a robotic mouse, as a team of cats led by one sinister feline aim to figure out the best way to rid of the ever familiar rodents. The end result is a very solid on-the-go game, one that is not only challenging, but comes off as a modern approach to the age old Tom & Jerry classic game of cat and mouse. For the purposes of the review, I played the free version of the game, both in and out of early access, to have the experience I believe most players would have. So while there is a "premium" version, my following thoughts should accurately represent what a free player can expect from the title.
MouseBot is a casual mobile game, one that is set up like many others in the same boat. By this, I mean you have a set amount of lives, premium currency, and a more casual currency. The map structure is also similar to many others in the genre. There are several level sets, each with varied levels and increasing difficulty. Throughout these levels, which are a spin on the traditional mouse mazes from scientific testing, you will try to successfully guide your robotic mouse to the goal. Along the way you will gather cheese and avoid traps, the latter of which are constantly evolving and out to destroy you. During these mazes, you will come across axes, lasers, acid, and lots of other obstacles that will try to hinder the MouseBot unsuccessful. There is a great variety amongst these traps, with a new trap being introduced each time you start one of the nine level sets. The last one in particular, the electricity, is a really fun one that spikes the difficulty up just the right amount. The inclusion of some liquid hazards also add to the variety in just the right ways. Collecting cheese becomes quite the trying task when all these traps are laid out to end your runs.
The cheese you collect is the games form of currency. Collecting a set amount of cheese in a track is not only a bonus objective, but also a way to unlock some fun customizable options for your mouse to use. After collecting 100 pieces of cheese, you can randomly unlock either a head piece or a new paint job. From cheese and cow body patterns, to Viking hats or South Park inspired toppers, these are a really fun way to express your mouse’s appeal for flair. My only issue with these is that it seemed I would unlock duplicates, with no way to sell them for rebates so to speak. With so many to unlock still, I found it odd that I got a green paint three times in a row. Aside from that, these options are really fun and add some more life to the game.
What doesn’t always have life though, is the actual gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, this game handles great. It plays very well and is 100% fair, even at the free level, and if you die several times you will start to see a pattern to the timing and realize there is always an ideal path. And while the game is challenging in all the right ways, it is just not always fun. In the beginning, it was just a little too easy. I cannot quite put my finger on exactly what the game is missing, but it is missing something. That’s not to say I did not enjoy it, having fun in spurts, it’s just that while I loved beating the challenges, they were not screaming “fun.” Regardless, the game is enjoyable, at a level that is approachable for all audiences. It does get more fun though towards the end, with the best variety and challenges peaking in the later portions. Aside from that, there is really little to complain about. If I had to be picky, it would have been nice to see multiple routes, considering the “maze” approach. It also would have been fun, in my opinion, to play with gyroscopic motion controls, which were not among the games three control scheme options.
Overall though, MouseBot is a great mobile game. It is one of the better looking, and running games I have played recently. Its graphics are smooth and colorful, and its mini-cutscenes get the job done in a cute and cartoony approach. Though not always fun, many will find a surprising amount of challenge, but it is always fair and well balanced in a way that will keep you playing. Even in it’s free to play form, it’s undeniably an easy recommend. It’s a great casual game, and I think that was the goal this time around for Vector Unit, serving as a pet-project so to speak. At the end of the day, MouseBot is a success, one that I played every last level of. I am looking hopefully forward to updates to see what else this mobile title has in store for players down the line.
*Note: Entry to the beta was granted prior to release by Vector Unit, but the game was played entirely in the Free-to-Play form. You can download the game here
Final Score: 7.5/10
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