PSN Review – Funky Lab Rat

December 12, 2010Written by Corey Schwanz

Funky Lab Rat is a new PlayStation Network title looking for your hard-earned money. As one of the few PSN games to have PlayStation Move support, is the game really as funkadelic as it sound? Or does it just fall flat?

Funky Lab Rat puts you in the tiny little shoes of Diego, a lab rat that has gained awareness of his surroundings and is escaping the laboratory. The goal is to traverse across in cleverly designed platforms. Along the way you have to pick up capsules to open up subsequent worlds. Simple enough, right? Sounds like it, but the folks over at Hydravision definitely figured out how to throw in the major twist. Diego has the ability to control time: stop it, reverse it, start over, or all together skip certain levels.

This devilishly simple game mechanic opens up a world of possibilities to the types of puzzles that can be created. The levels give a set number of freezes with unlimited number of reversals and certain levels focus more on platforming skill or puzzle solving. For example, Diego can jump, freeze time in mid-air, move a block or even create an entire tower beneath him (depending where the jump came from), unfreeze, and land at the apex to get a precious pill or walk to the exit. It’s a simple concept, but it adds incredible depth to otherwise simple platforming.

Depending on the your control setup for Funky Lab Rat, your experience can be very different. The game supports a lone DualShock 3 or a Move + DualShock or Navigation controller combo. The single DualShock forces you to tediously run the cursor around the screen to pick up objects and places them down in other places. It’s slow and cumbersome, but for people without a PlayStation Move, it will suffice. These control issues never interfere with the actual platforming, so precision is never compromised. The PlayStation Move functions exactly as you would expect it to. You point the cursor on the screen and quickly and efficiently pick up objects with the T button, rotate them with a turn of the wrist, and still have the level of proficiency and accuracy for small movements. Once you play with the Move, it really is hard to go back.

Unfortunately, while the Move definitely feels a lot better than playing with the standard controller by itself, it’s not without its own problems. The PlayStation Eye tracks the glowing sphere of the Move exactly, but it does not use the accelerometer to track the position of the cursor on the screen. That means to move around the screen you must fully move your arm back and forth. There isn’t even a way to recalibrate the sensitivity to make it OVERLY sensitive to compensate. It’s nothing to keep you from playing the game but, when you see a title like Sports Champions or Tumble that let you navigate around the screen easier, it gets frustrating. Also, with a name like “Funky Lab Rat,” images are conjured up of soulful, jazzy, and very rhythmic soundtrack. You can think of it more as “a few songs” rather than a “soundtrack,” and it gets incredibly repetitive very fast.

Funky Lab Rat is also quite hard. Very hard in fact. In the first two worlds you’ll think, “This isn’t so bad. I got ALL of the pills while only XX were required. This game will be a cinch.” But shortly after that, your brain will be twisting around meticulously crafted puzzles and how to jump around them. As mentioned earlier, the game graciously includes a “Zap” ability that lets you skip entire levels. When used, you don’t get to keep any pills from the level but you get to move on. It’s a great tool to keep players from getting TOO frustrated, and cleverly cannot be overused. Although the game doesn’t even require collecting a single pill to beat a level, the new worlds are opened up only after collecting so many of the conniving capsules. Completionists will definitely be swearing to themselves for the best trophies, as there are some real doozies with this title. Perfect runs with zero deaths and NO restarts across every level is one example, but there is one trophy that has players “Finish the last level without pausing more than 22 times.” Too much hassle for most players, but there are definitely some masochists out there who wouldn’t mind.

Funky Lab Rat is a unique little puzzle platformer that utilizes the oft under-implemented Move controller to solve cleverly designed levels. While the title definitely isn’t as funky as the name makes it out to be. It alleviates the issues of getting stuck after that one level so you don’t have to ignore the rest of the game because of on small issue. And with giving perfectionists plenty of goals to go after, Funky Lab Rat is well worth you hard-earned money.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Plenty of content for casual and hardcore players

+/- Move controls work well but not everything they COULD be

– Soundtrack is incredibly repetitive

8 out of 10