Given that robots are man-made objects whose functions are entirely programmable, it's striking how often we go to war with them in fiction. No doubt Freud with have had some ideas on the subject if he and robots had co-existed.
In A-Men you take command of five would-be soldiers - the A-Men - whose mission it is to take down some wayward robots. Primarily using environmental traps, you've got to shoot, crush, and electrocute androids through 40 levels of Lost Vikings-inspired 2D puzzle-platforming.Be A-Man
Each of your troops has his own unique talents and distinct personality. Among others there's the cliche-dribbling private responsible for the majority of your attack force, and the vastly under-used spy who blends in with enemies by wearing a silly hat.
The only way to win is to switch between the men to take advantage of each individual's skills. Most abilities are limited-use, however, so you have to dole them out carefully.
You soon learn what these guys are all about: every character rattles off inane commentary at any opportunity. It's funny at first, but when you're attempting a level for the dozenth time you'll be thankful for the option to turn the catchphrases down in favour of the brassy soundtrack.
The same obstacles that harm enemies also hamper your progress, so it's a balancing act to create both A-Man-friendly passages and deadly setups for your foes. Convenient control panels trigger many of the hazards: you can see what connects to where by standing next to a switch and pulling out some binoculars.
Dumber opponents ignorantly trot into danger like lemmings, but you need to dial your cunning up a few notches to deal with the more tuned-in automata - the ones that activate lifts and pursue you doggedly.
The engineer's knack for camouflaging land-mines provides one such perfect - and hilariously evil - counter-attack.A-Man Up
Touch and traditional controls meld together well. The analogue sticks move characters and camera, while the face and shoulder buttons use items and switch characters respectively.
But if you want to make the most of Vita's new inputs, you can prod icons on the touchscreen to select weapons and personnel instead. Pinching your fingers on the screen zooms in and out, and the rear touch panel focuses the camera back on your current character with a double-click.
A-Men is a hard-nosed commando of a game that constantly tests you, both intentionally and unintentionally. The complicated design and limited resources of later stages put the task-management side of your brain through assault courses a-plenty.
Somewhat cruelly, you have to pay for the right to create mid-stage checkpoints, which forces you to strategise further.
Coins are awarded whenever you destroy an enemy, and you can spend these on new outfits in a shop. Here you can drop goodies for other players via Near, too.
A-Men takes approximately ten hours to complete, but if you really want a gruelling task then you can try to 100 per cent levels by removing every single enemy from the battlefield.A-Man Down
While A-Men's war is generally fair, there are some annoyances. The functions of the three action buttons change according to context, and occasionally they'll swap around at the last second, which leads to wasted items or frustrating death.
The last thing you want when an enemy is running towards you at full pelt is to taunt him rather than set off a deadly trap. A-Men can be very fussy about where you stand, too: you need near pixel-perfect alignment for some actions.
Jumping is floaty and grabbing onto ledges is not always a certainty, leaving you tumbling to your needless doom every so often. Aiming trajectories, such as grenades, is cumbersome and slow.
The final quarter of the game also suffers from slowdown, which causes camera lag that can affect play. None of these flaws is game-breaking, but they do cost A-Men a few stripes.