iFun4All is a studio that has built a strong repertoire of bite-sized videogame experiences for handheld and mobile devices without ever truly achieving breakthrough success. Many of their titles have been remarkably popular and yet iFun4All have never achieved fame in the eyes of the gaming public. Their latest effort, Die!Die!Die!, sadly falls into this same caveat: enjoyable, but a million miles from earth shattering.
Die!Die!Die! is billed as the PlayStation Vita’s first ‘Medical Defense’ videogame. While uncertain whether this in itself is a genre that can be defined as different from the usual shoot-‘em-up experience, Die!Die!Die! certainly is. Taking inspiration from the tower defence genre Die!Die!Die! eschews the traditional space ship upon a scrolling backdrop formula and instead sees the player using a mounted cannon attacking enemies approaching a gate. That cannon just happens to be a syringe, and that gate just happens to be an artery, intestinal tract or other vulnerable cavity.
As a PS Minis title Die!Die!Die! operates entirely via the touchscreen to ensure compatibility with all PlayStation Mobile certified devices, though PlayStation Vita players may use the left analog nub and face buttons in-game if they so choose. This includes all functionality, from menus to gameplay. Though Die!Die!Die! assumes that you’ll probably be aware of this it does cleverly remind you by asking you to press where an arrow is placed to take a digital photograph and enter your name for your doctor’s identification, which also acts as your identifier for your save data. From here you’re free to jump straight into the first campaign, with ten completed levels unlocking the second and a further ten in this new addition unlocking the third. Eighty four levels are included between the three campaigns in total, each lasting between a minute and three; perfect for short waits or travelling on public transport.
The gameplay itself is simple and frantic. The player must aim shots form their syringe at enemies that move across the screen from right to left. It takes a moment to charge a shot, meaning that players will not only have to predict the movement of the enemies but also ensure that they move from the current batch to the next in time to load another shot. There are a number of power-ups that help with this process, pausing the enemy movement or offering a triple-shot for example, and the player must again weigh-up the risks of collecting these bonuses in favour of aligning another shot.
In addition to the three campaigns Die!Die!Die! offers a Survival mode. With the option of three difficulty settings and a much higher than usual drop rate for power-ups, the player must ensure that no more than one hundred enemies pass them by. This may sound like a fairly lenient fail line, but when more than thirty enemies appear on-screen simultaneously within the first minute of playing, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
The visual quality of Die!Die!Die! is of a high standard throughout, with high quality cartoon visuals and charming animation. It’s a simple presentation which reflects the gameplay perfectly, as Die!Die!Die! defines the style of gameplay built to be disposable: you can enjoy it for a few minutes now and then pick-up exactly where you left off several months later without too much hesitation. Die!Die!Die!, then, is an enjoyable action videogame that’s perfect for on-the-go gamers, but it’s never going to trouble your top tier PlayStation Vita titles.