Also On: PS3
Publisher: Bloober Team
Developer: Bloober Team
Hopefully this isn't being a little too blunt, but I honestly have no idea why A-Men 2 even exists. I mean, I don't know well-received the original A-Men was when it released in the UK back at the Vita's launch, but when it finally came out here in North America eighteen months later, I'm pretty sure it didn't set the world alight or anything. Speaking as the critical consensus of that first game (literally!), I can tell you that it's not some amazing hidden gem, and judging from the number of ratings it currently has in the PSN store, I don't think it sold like gangbusters.
And yet, here's the sequel, occupying the exact same puzzle-platforming niche as the first game. And I do mean the exact same spot — as far as I can tell, A-Men 2 is like A-Men is every possible way. It looks the same, it plays the same, it has the same sense of humour. Realistically, I suspect A-Men 2 could've been released as a patch replacing the first game entirely, and no one would be any the wiser.
It's not as dire as I'm making it sound, of course. If you're looking for a ever-so-slightly above-average platformer that punishes you for every little mistake, like the original, I guess it'll do the job. Because believe me, A-Men 2 is out to make players' lives as difficult as possible. It not only docks you points for taking advantage of infrequent save spots mid-level, there are one or two times when it loaded my save files, only to drop one of my characters right into a situation that instantly killed them. While I don't think Bloober Team have created a HAL-like AI that's out to get you, I wouldn't put it past them either.
On a related note, they've made it so that you'd have to be crazy to not use those save points; these are long, long levels, and everything is out to kill you. If you don't save your progress, you're basically consigning yourself to replaying levels until you want to throw your Vita across the room.
Equally annoying is the fact that your characters need to be in just the right spots to do anything. Oh, you want to build a bridge right next to that tutorial sign? Then you need to be standing right in that tiny space where it's allowed, and not a fraction of a nanometre too far to the left or right. Want to use your grappling hook? Same thing. Want to have your big muscleman drop a crate on the bad guys? Then make sure he's facing the right way, because even though he can carry a giant crate, turning in another direction is apparently too much for him. The whole game is full of little annoying things like that.
Again, I don't want to say the game is terrible, because it's not. I've certainly played far, far worse games than A-Men 2. It's not broken, and it's not bad. It's just…I can't get over how completely and utterly inessential it feels. When writing about the first game in the series, I said that there are about a dozen very good PS Vita platformers you should play before this one, and that's just as true for the sequel as it was for the original. If you're desperate for something really, really hard, I guess give it a shot, but don't expect it to be much more than a forgettable time-waster that you play between other, more distinctive games.