PlayStation Vita games show off features of Sony's new handheld
Available at the launch of the new PlayStation Vita portable gaming system were Sony’s usual slate of basic sports titles, including Hot Shot Golf (rated everyone) and baseball sim MLB: The Show (rated everyone).
But if you want proof that the PS Vita is able to deliver the experience normally associated with a home entertainment console, look no further than games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (Capcom; rated teen) and Rayman Origins (Ubisoft; rated everyone 10+), which are perfect copies of their PS3/Xbox 360 versions.
For the fighting game, this is also a problem. With the exception of a special play mode that seems stapled on, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was not optimized for the touchscreen. Long load times are also an issue.
The game that all PS Vita owners must pick up is Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Sony; rated teen), the fourth game in the Indiana Jones-inspired adventure franchise. Golden Abyss provides more puzzling and exploring than the running and gunning required by the PS3 games, but is a solid action game that stays true to the spirit of the franchise.
The graphics are something to be witnessed, and the script provides all the witty banter you’ve come to expect from Nathan Drake and his associates.
The dual thumbsticks make for easier exploring because you can separately control Drake and his sight line. It should also make shooting easier, but I had difficulty trying to figure out the aiming, which was finicky.
The developers worked too hard to find ways to use the PS Vita’s touchscreen controls: you can push a button to jump so why would you bother tapping the screen? But “painting” the screen with a fingertip to establish a climbing path for Nate is a great implementation of the controls.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (Ubisoft; rated teen) is a standard dungeon crawler in which you become a mage, rogue, or warrior. Using the touchscreen makes it easier to navigate the item and equip screens and you can pinch to zoom in and out. This is nothing fancy but very serviceable.
Little Deviants (Sony; rated everyone 10+) is an alternate reality game that makes use of the camera to get you to “see” robots in your immediate, real environment. It’s effectively a collection of mini-games that use the various control mechanisms on the PS Vita, including the rear touch pad to transform a landscape to move characters around.
Lumines: Electronic Symphony (Ubisoft; rated everyone) is a Tetris variant that has appeared on other platforms. This version is largely the same as the others, although it does look amazing on the PS Vita’s OLED screen, and the soundtrack shows off the device’s superior internal speakers.
The premise behind Wipeout 2048 (Sony; rated everyone 10+) is that in the future, cars have given way to sleek racers that float just above the surface, and racing takes place on tracks that defy gravity and can make your head spin. When I first played this I was frustrated by the long load times. An update, served via the PS Vita’s Wi-Fi connection, improved load times somewhat.
Having fun with the kart racer ModNation Racers: Road Trip (Sony; rated everyone) came from creating tracks as much as racing, and with the touchscreen and rear touch pad controls, it’s even easier to come up with your own courses which you can then share with friends.
Other PS Vita games that seem intriguing but were not available for review include:
• Army Corps of Hell (Square Enix).
• FIFA Soccer (EA Sports).
• Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus (Tecmo Koei).
• Silent Hill: Book of Memories (Konami), in which players alter their character’s history by changing what’s written in a book about their life.
• Sumioni: Demon Arts (Xseed) in which players take control of an ink demon and can use the touchscreen to manipulate the environment by “painting”; different brushes create different effects.
• Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!!! from Toronto’s DrinkBox Studios is available digitally only and is a sequel to the fun and goofy platformer About a Blob, which came out last year.
• Touch My Katamari (Namco Bandai), which has you using the PS Vita’s rear touch pad to squeeze and stretch your Katamari accretion ball.
• Virtua Tennis 4 (Sega).