Bridge Constructor (PS Vita) Review
Bridge Constructor is a game purchasable on the PS3 and Vita for $9.99, and separately on the PS4 for the same price. While fairly new on these systems (mid-December 2016), the game itself has been around for quite a while. It released on Steam in 2013, and has been around as a phone app since 2012. The game wears it's app store pedigree on it's shoulders: the Vita icon bubble has the same picture on it as the iPhone app. Within the game, you are tasked with helping a small country fix every bridge on their island nation after a major natural disaster. Strangely, even though there is a history of terrible accidents and a propensity to natural disasters, they hire one dude and give him a ton of wood to fix it up. Bridges can be ironclad, or they can fall apart the second two cars cross it; you will get paid either way. It's your duty to work your way across the island's five areas and repair all the bridges, regardless of whether or not they stay together after you get your paycheck.
As the game goes on, you quickly earn the privelege of utilizing different materials. You use wood, steel, concrete, and wire to keep your bridges aloft, but you must maintain your budget. Finding the right combination and coming in under budget is key to progression. Sometimes the physics seem a bit wonky, as bridges you feel are secure will crumble with a strong wind, while others will seemingly hold up when they look like they are being held together with toothpicks.
The game itself is solid for what it is. It's been around for years, and is just now getting ported over. Unfortunately, I can tell the port is just that: a port that relies on what was already there. The Vita misses out on a lot of features that are obviously in the mobile app primarily since it was ported to the PS3 with cross-buy.
The Vita is a touchscreen system. Obviously, it seems, that the game would be entirely available on the touch panel, but it is not. Instead of mimicing the phone screen, the game fully utilizes the controller buttons. The touchscreen allows you to slide in a menu from the sides during construction, but you then have to use buttons to navigate the large, finger-sized on screen icons. Outside of that menu, touching the screen will pan and zoom the image, and placing pieces requires you to go to the analog stick for an on-screen cursor. For me, this turns into a lesson in frustration. If I had been tasked with simply reviewing the PS3 edition, it may have been tolerable due to it being the ONLY way to play, but seeing the glaring omission from the Vita edition just ground my gears.
As for the gameplay, other little frustrations happen, such as the boards only being able to be a certain length or shorter. I know this makes a difference in stress and load-bearing walls/floors, but when you're a half-inch from the edge to have that link become a major point for collapse it gets very frustrating. Using the controller and cursor can get frustrating, as you think you stopped putting down material only to slide to your next task and drag an extra piece along. Many times I found myself trying to run the game via the touchscreen; it's so naturally designed to feel like it would work with it. It's really a shame that there's no way to get it to work. Plus, the music continues exactly the same no matter what, and the loading screen "gears" would stutter, making me feel as if it had frozen.
In terms of the actual purchase, I dislike the fact that these days "cross buy" games will work on PS3 and Vita but not PS4, meaning a double purchase if you own the modern system. (Note: a few other Gamer's Lounge staff have noted that they found the PS4 edition showing as free when they got the Vita edition, but I can't guarantee that's continuing, and the store does have separate pages for both editions.) There is another caveat, though, and that's the other editions of the game. Firstly, the game is on Steam for the same price, and there are more editions of the game (Playground, Stunts, and Medieval for $9.99, and an expansion for trains for the original for $2.99). There's the original app with touchscreen controls for $1.99. There's a free to play version with in-app purchases to get a taste test for the game. And beyond that, the game is currently on Kongregate for free with ads running on the side. There are tons of ways for you to play this game, cheaper or free.
So, while I appreciate you reading this article, you literally can get a full impression of whether this game is worth your time through this link right here. Give it ten or fifteen minutes and make your own call. It really boils down to whether you would want this game on the go or on the big screen. It's probably better situated to kids, as I can see my construction-loving 11 year old figuring out the puzzles or my chaos-loving 5 year old watching the bridges fall apart. It'd be handy to have on different systems for them to enjoy without taking over your phone, but it's hard to recommend when there are so many other ways to play it.
As a game, Bridge Constructor is quite fun for a low admission price. Kids and construction nuts will have a blast with it's lighthearted design methods. But when you look at it as a whole, it's hard to say someone should run out and buy the Vita or PS3/4 edition when there are so many cheap and easy ways to play it. Try out a free version, and see if it's for you.
Thanks to the developers for providing a copy for review.
Final score: 3/5