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Men's Room Mayhem: Please wash hands before playing


This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

The PlayStation Vita represents an interesting cross-section between traditional console games and mobile apps. During the time I've spent with the handheld, I've found myself gravitating toward its mobile-influenced games; I lost a solid week to Jetpack Joyride, and the free-to-play ecosystem sim Ecolibrium is my current obsession. Men's Room Mayhem is another successful Vita take on mobile gaming concepts, and I've had a lot of fun with it so far.

Men's Room Mayhem plays similarly to the iOS hit Flight Control, only you're in charge of bladder and bowel relief, rather than air traffic management. Patrons enter your bathroom wishing to use a urinal or a stall. Your job is to guide your customers to their destinations by drawing paths on the Vita's touch screen.

You'll need to act quickly, though – ignore your waiting customers for too long and you'll have a mess on your hands. Bonus points are awarded for maintaining bathroom etiquette (leaving empty space between urinal users), and for making your patrons wash their hands before exiting.

Your biggest challenge in Men's Room Mayhem is making sure that patrons don't collide with one another. Cross the streams – if you'll pardon the expression – and your customers will get into a fight, leaving a pool of blood on the floor after you break up the fracas. Patrons who wander in afterward are seemingly oblivious to this carnage, and will leave bloody footprints in their wake. It's kind of gross.

Much of the game's difficulty depends on how players approach its challenges. You can keep things running relatively smoothly by guiding your patrons in and out of the bathroom as quickly as possible, hygiene be damned. Score multipliers and bonuses are awarded for riskier play, but one wrong move can lead to a chain reaction of messy consequences. If six "incidents" occur within a single timed round, the game ends.

Men's Room Mayhem's premise is solid enough, but it would quickly wear thin if not for its Jetpack Joyride-like mission structure. Throughout the game, you'll need to complete bonus objectives in order to unlock later levels. You're given three missions during each round; you may need to meet a hand-washing quota, for instance, or you might need to earn a specific number of etiquette bonuses.

One unfortunate side-effect is that once you complete all three missions in a single play session (which is pretty easy to do), you'll need to end your game before you can grab a new set of objectives. The mission structure works better in Jetpack Joyride, where objectives often stretch across several play sessions.

Despite this, it's easy to justify spending a lot of time with Men's Room Mayhem. You can finish a few rounds and complete a handful of objectives in just a few minutes, making it an ideal pick-up-and-play game, and trophy support gives dedicated players incentive to finish its surprisingly lengthy campaign mode. It's a success on multiple fronts: it has the simplicity of a mobile game, but enough depth to justify its presence in the PlayStation Store.

The PlayStation Network's flexibility encourages small-scope, modest-budget games like this one, and it allows developers to price their wares appropriately. If it were more expensive than it is, Men's Room Mayhem would be difficult to recommend. As a cheap impulse purchase ($1.39), it's a great fit for the platform.
This review is based on a PSN download of Men's Room Mayhem, purchased by the reviewer.

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