Boss! review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Fair Play Labs
Developer: Fair Play Labs
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

You have to give Fair Play Labs credit for being different, if nothing else. Whereas pretty much every other game ever made has you playing as the hero (or, at the very least, a charming antihero), in Boss! the studio decided to go a different route. Here, you’re a (literal) monster rampaging across the countryside, beating up the knights/ninjas/wizards trying to stop you and eating whatever fair maidens and cows are unfortunate enough to get in your way.

As you can see, it’s a fairly unusual premise — though, it should be noted, not a wholly original one, since Boss! is a port of an iOS game of the same name, which in turn was a port of a PSP mini, Wackylands Boss. So it’s been done, if not very often.

Boss 2

Unfortunately, once you get beyond that basic idea…well, you see that it’s really just that: a basic idea. Every level here is more or less identical. Your monster walks into an area, the bad — er, sorry, good — guys enter from the right and left side of the screen, you punch them until they’re all gone, and then you walk on to the next area. And that’s the whole game, repeated across a giant map.

Admittedly, I’m simplifying things a bit. As you go forward the game starts throwing different enemies (sorry: heroes!) at you, and you gradually learn a couple of new attacks. And each level ends with a boss fight, as you take on a wizard-created monster alongside your regular opponents. For the most part, though, Boss! is defined by how often you’ll be hitting that square button over and over and over again.

Boss 3

On the upside, of course, at least those controls work just as they’re intended. Moreover, if you approach Boss! as a mobile game that you can play for a few minutes here and there, rather than anything meatier than that, you’ll find that whaling away on knights and archers is actually kind of fun in small, quick doses — especially when you’re standing near the edge of the screen, and they just keep bouncing off the invisible wall back into your waiting fist. Those sequences end a little quickly, but it’s still hilarious to see the good guys bouncing into your fist over and over again.

There’s also something to be said for Boss!’s aesthetic. The unnamed monster is pretty cute, and it only gets cuter as you get to dress it up in new clothes (which you buy with the currency you obtain from beating up the heroes). Doing things like turning it into a Christmas-themed monster or giving it fuzzy gloves and a a little bow on its head injects the game with just the right amount of absurd adorableness.


Of course, it would’ve been nicer if they’d injected Boss! with better gameplay, too. Cute costumes and a funny premise can take you surprisingly far, but at the end of the day you still need to be something more than a repetitive beat-’em-up. Boss! tries its best, but unless you dressing up monsters in seasonally-appropriate attire is your thing, you’ll probably find it to be a little lacking.

Grade: B-