Gamescom has gone and Sony used their press event at the Tokyo Game Show to announce a couple of things. However let’s take stock a little.
Imagine my surprise as I was rather prophetically watching the Sony press conference from Gamescom wearing my Shadow Of The Beast II tee shirt (that came with the game on the Amiga) when the trailer started… hmmm that monstery thing looks familar… Oh My Gawd! Then I got annoyed with people calling it an ancient Omega game… bah! Humbug!
Anyway the following games were announced at Gamescom for the Vita:
- Murasaki Baby
- Batman: Arkham Origins – Black Gate
- Lego Marvel
- Football Manager Classic 2014
- Borderlands 2
- Velocity 2x
- Rogue Legacy
- The Binding of Issac
- Wasteland Kings
- Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Of course the big hitters there are Borderlands 2 as they came out of left field a bit, Minecraft as lets face it, handheld Minecraft could sell hardware and Batman which we already kinda knew about. However it’s not exactly a long list is it? Plus there aren’t that many BIG big names to attract attention. Problem is that the PS Vita *IS* the best handheld, hardware wise and there are some fantastic , but generally unknown, titles on it, and Sony appears to be relying on the quality of the product to sell it – and it’s not working still. I personally don’t know how people don’t see the PS Vita Wi-Fi 8GB “Kids” Mega Pack as a complete steal at £170 but it isn’t exactly flying, which is a huge shame. Bigger names on the format would attract attention – but they need to be designed from the ground up for the PS Vita to be attractive.
Also announced was an official PS Vita Wi-Fi hardware price drop (but the Vita is STILL cheaper in the UK than the official price by quite a chunk – with machines with 8GB memory cards and software available for £170 inc. VAT.) – looks like the 3G version has gone the way of the dodo, however.
Sony also stated a price drop on the memory cards was incoming, though there has yet to be official clarification of the new pricing structure. However retail and trade pricing now seems to suggest that the 4GB card is still around at about £15 (was around £20), 8GB are now at around £20 solus (was around £32) or £35 with a Mega Pack (of which further editions are on the way), 16GB now appear to be at around £30 (was around £45) and 32GB at around £60 (was around £80) )This is good news, as it makes the handheld more accessible, but surely the 4GB card’s time is up?
Then this morning Sony dropped the bombshell to the Japanese gamers that they wouldn’t be getting the PS4 until next year, which was a bit of a surprise. However in the next two months Japan will be getting the slim PS Vita (series 2000), and the 64GB memory card on the 10th of October while November sees the release of the PS Vita TV mini console that plugs into your home display.
To be honest the slim PS Vita really doesn’t light my fire at all as an internal 1GB memory card is almost useless and one of the big selling points of the standard PS Vita, the stunning bright and vibrant OLED screen, is getting replaced by a duller, lower powered LCD display. Urgh – and it probably wouldn’t work out being much cheaper than the Wi-Fi original PS Vita sells for when it is released in the UK… Honestly – jump on the current model while you can.
However … however… the PlayStation Vita TV… I would imagine this is getting universally derided by gamers across the world, at least initially until the idea really sinks in… Sony may well be going after the OUYA and other similar devices with this, but even in a more mainstream way this move is absolute GENIUS.
No I haven’t been smoking anything (at all, tobacco included) but think of it this way – the last PS2 shuffled off the production line right at the end of last year and further cost reduction on it was impossible. The PS3 is proving difficult to cost reduce any further as the parts aren’t cheap. It’s fair to say that the PS Vita is somewhere between the PS2 and PS3 in technology level, so positioning a home console below the PS3 using it’s technology is hardly ludicrous.
So let’s look at Sony’s new home console line up, potentially, as we hit Christmas
- PlayStation 4 – £349 RRP
- PlayStation 3 – £184 RRP
- PS Vita TV – £99 RRP?
So that’s facet one – a £99 budget entry level console that can stream videos and play MP3s, offer 2 player games and has a vast catalogue from the PS One, PSP, PS minis and PS Mobile ranges (all as PS Store downloads) as well as the Vita games (both downloads and on Vita cards) that don’t require the touch panels, microphone or cameras. One video at least also shows the PS Vita TV being controlled with a Dual Shock 4 suggesting that some touch games may yet be accessible.
Don’t be surprised to see things like PS3’s Little Big Planet Hub make the jump either, along with some of the PS2 games that got redone for the PS3. The PS Vita, after all, also allows the addition of Vita specific and PS Mobile apps, so alongside the already available Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube apps, it’s hardly a big leap to see iPlayer and the like joining things like Netflix and Lovefilm on the device.
The thing is, the machine has one little necessary feature in its tiny form factor that would make a huge difference to it’s use. It has a USB port. Now I assume this is meant just to recharge the Dual Shock 3 controller you use to play games (and it does support two simultaneously, as well as the PS3 Bluetooth blu-ray remote as a media controller). However add a USB hub and echoes of the Raspberry Pi scream at you… Could this, with the right add-ons be a beginners indie development kit just waiting to happen? Perhaps this could drive a new bedroom coding revolution. Just add a USB hub, keyboard, mouse and storage device with the development kit on and Sony could be cultivating new content for years, and not just for the PS Vita platform, either. Hell, what’s to stop Sony allowing a sandbox environment for a desktop OS and things like Open Office? Deluxe Paint please, EA!
Finally there’s the whole Remote Play option. Though Sony are understandably pushing the use of the mini-machine as a remote play terminal to connect to the PS4, the word on the grapevine is that PS3 is supported too, though, of course, the feature was vastly under-supported by game developers on the Cell based console, hence Sony’s decision to put it in hardware on their new AMD based baby. So streaming via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet to the PS Vita TV and you might even be able to use your Dual Shock 4 to control it. Add Gaikai and all of a sudden games from every Sony console could be playable on this tiny box.
We’ll see what else is yet to come out of the Tokyo Game Show.
For now though, I’ll settle for Wipeout 2048 on my main TV.