reviews\ Dec 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Funky Lab Rat Review


We’re not sure what would make a laboratory animal so “funky” in the first place, but no matter. Hydravision’s latest downloadable release, Funky Lab Rat, is a different kind of game than you’d normally find on the PlayStation Network, a unique mix of platforming and puzzle solving. However, its steep difficulty scale make it an acquired taste, rather than something you’d usually buy for the kids.

In the game, you’re Diego, a lab rat who’s trapped in a cage along with several of his friends. Unsure what’s going to happen to him in the laboratory, he decides to escape, though his plan hits a snag. In fact, make that several snags. He runs across a series of rooms that he needs to manipulate in order to proceed, using temporal powers he’s developed through testing. He can stop time and, if needed, reverse it as well, should he need to correct a mistake.

It’s the time-stopping factor that makes Funky Lab Rat stand out from other platforming heroes. When everything comes to a halt, you move around objects in the stage with a hand, setting the stage for Diego’s escape. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving a block but, as you move forward, you’ll engage with other obstacles, including spinning propellers, switches and gears. You’ll need to be careful, because any environmental danger could easily spell his end. And that’s where the rewind function comes in, as you can correct yourself, Prince of Persia-style, and try again to get out alive.

You’ll be thankful for these abilities, because the game picks up in difficulty rather quickly. In fact, a little too quickly. There are times you’ll be completely frustrated by the solution of a puzzle, even as you try to get through it multiple times. Worse yet, you can’t unlock later levels in the game unless you pick up certain pills that are scattered throughout – and not all of them are easy to reach. Only the most dedicated puzzle solvers will probably see Diego’s journey all the way through to the end.

And even then, you’re likely to run into hassles with the game’s platforming elements. See, Diego doesn’t jump properly, as he’ll often overshoot or miss out on a ledge, even if you think you’ve aimed just right. Granted, the rewind function helps in this department as well, but you’d think that this Funky Lab Rat would have some form of consistency.

If you can tolerate the high amount of challenge, Funky Lab Rat can be fun. Some of these puzzles are very well designed, with little pieces put into place to really make you think. Also, the little environmental touches really add a lot to the game, from the shooting flames to the bright glowing walls. There certainly is a lot of productivity in this lab. We also like the breezy in-game music and sound effects, which really add more than we could’ve expected in a game such as this.

But like we said, Funky Lab Rat is an acquired taste. It’s not a completely impossible game, but it seems built more for the scholars than the routine puzzle/platform gamers. If you’re up for the challenge and don’t mind something that’ll have you grating your teeth from time to time, Diego just might be your next hero.


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