In A-Men you take control of five wannabe soldiers – who call themselves the A-Men – who must eliminate squads of rouge robot soldiers who’ve escaped from a factory that the A-Men worked at. By using environmental traps you must shoot, crush, and electrocute these robots through 40 levels. It’s a facsimile of Lemmings and Commandos, on a 2D plain. It works pretty well too, if it wasn’t for the frustrating difficulty.
Each of your troops has their own unique set of abilities to match their distinct personality. To conquer your robotic foes you’ll need to switch between your men to take advantage of each ones skills. Additionally with most abilities having a limited number of uses, you’ll have to carefully plan your attack.
You’ll quickly find that the same obstacles that harm enemies can often hamper your progress, so jumping the gun and making decisions on the fly seldom works in your favour. The control panels that trigger many of the hazards conveniently show you what they trigger and elements such as new environment hazards and new abilities are gradually introduced, so analysing and executing actions is intuitive.
However, you’re given little leeway in what strategies to use. Your limited resources and the design of each level suggests multiple paths to completion but in reality there’s only one, and you’ll need to stick to it and time actions meticulously to complete each level. This is where the difficulty comes in. Dumber opponents will march straight into danger like lemmings, but you’ll need to be far more cunning to deal with others, which will activate lifts and pursue you if they catch a glimpse of you.
Of course, you certainly have the tools for the job. Camouflaged mines, bridges, guns, dynamite and more compliment each of you’re A-Men’s abilities and offer solutions. It’s just figuring out how best to use them that can get frustrating, especially on later levels where you’ll be in command of multiple A-Men at once.
Fortunately Touch and traditional controls make interacting with your A-Men simple and quick. The analogue sticks move characters and the camera, while the face and shoulder buttons use items and switch characters respectively. You can also use the touch-screen to select weapons and personnel instead. However, choosing an action can be frustrating, with the three action buttons changing according to context, switching which item they activate. It has a horrible habit of causing you to waste items, which can force you to restart a mission.
Additionally, you have to pay for the right to create mid-stage checkpoints, with coins that are awarded whenever you destroy an enemy. It’s a risk reward mechanic that forces you to strategise further but is utterly devastating when things go wrong on a particularly long mission – if you didn’t buy a checkpoint.
A-Men takes a goof ten hours to complete, with several more if you intend to 100 percent levels by killing every single enemy. It certainly offers a lot of content for a great price, and the cerebral task of deconstructing each level in your mind to figure out the best way to kill all your enemies is satisfying.
Jumping is a bit floaty and grabbing onto ledges is not always a certainty, often causing you to fall amongst a squad of bloodthirsty robots, but this melding of older titles creates a familiar yet refreshing puzzle title that is well worth a look.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Platform: PSVita Release Date: 22/02/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of A-Men for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a PSVita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.