When Sony announced that they would be bringing a raft of original titles and apps to Android devices via a new PlayStation Mobile initiative, it was only when the word Futurlab was uttered that my interest piqued. Futurlab were the developers behind the, frankly incredible, PS Minis title Velocity that really made it worth owning a PS Vita – despite it working on PSP and PS3. With Fuel Tiracas, the first of two PS Mobile titles from Futurlab, you can see how the hard-as-nails twitch gameplay from Velocity has, naturally, transferred over to powering up atmosphere generators on a Toron Nebula outpost known as planet Tiracas.
On the surface Fuel Tiracas seems easy: hit lights to fill gauges so you can complete a level. It’s essentially whack-a-mole meets Simon Says and some robust game mechanics; and that’s exactly why it works so damn well as a mobile title. As you progress through its twelve levels Fuel Tiracas gently introduces new mechanics, be that dangerous resources that train your accumulated total, switches that indicate the appropriate switch to press, or even venting fuel pods that are too full. It’s with these layers – and the ever decreasing levels of fuel already accumulated – that turns this into a frantic game of managing input and output all in an effort to reach 100% output and complete the level.
To fill each of the fuel pods you’ll have to hit corresponding nodes located at either end of the screen. These nodes flash a corresponding colour and you’ve got to hit it to collect the energy before it disappears. Just like with Velocity, because Futurlabs layer on the difficulty it rarely feels overwhelming until the last few levels pile on the pressure. However as you complete levels you’ll see each atmosphere generator fire up and provide a slither of more liveable habitat on the planet – indicated by the world changing – which is a nice enough to see after you’ve just made your thumbs bleed.
It may seem that 12 levels really isn’t many, but you’ll spend a lot of time on the later levels trying to actually finish them in a reasonable time – shamefully one attempt I made lasted well over ten minutes, at which point I just restarted. The inclusion of leaderboards also means you’ll want to go back and beat the hell out of those who have managed some eye-watering – and wrist breaking – times. All in all plenty of content and reason to revisit, especially when you can see certain reviewers times and may strive to beat them – which is essentially what happened to me when reviewing the game.
Fuel Tiracas may have been born from the iconic scene in Aliens with Bishop, Hudson, a knife and some incredibly fast hand movements, but ultimately Futurlab have once again created a portable title that is an absolute dream to play. It’s equal parts addictive as it is frustrating – in a good way – really making you want to give it just one more go to improve your time; something that is absolutely essential for any mobile title. And quite honestly, at 40p who are you to complain if for some reason it doesn’t manage to please every gaming bone in your body.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: On a sharp mobile screen or the PS Vita OLED screen it looks wonderful with bright crisp colours. It’s audio is also rather sublime but won’t be knocking any socks off.
Gameplay – 5/5: Simple, addictive and fun. More layers are brought in as you progress so you don’t ever get bored or become complacent.
Innovation – 3/5: Although not really doing anything overly new, it does bring together some great ideas and wraps it into a solid and enjoyable framework.
Value – 5/5: It’s almost impossible to fault Fuel Tiracas on its impeccable value. At 40 of your pennies you couldn’t even buy a chocolate bar – let alone one that’d last this long.
Final Score: 4/5