Friday, October 7, 2011

Catching Up on Vita News

If you haven't seen it yet, the above is the, that the PS Vita will ship in in Europe.  It was shown off in this European PS Blog post a while back and, no matter how much I like the box (and I do), I can't write just about that.  True enough, the blog also lists the features the Vita will come pre-loaded with (Possibly not all of them) but it's not really anything that we've not seen yet, though some things are explained a little more which is quite welcome.  Let's take a look at some of these:
Welcome Park – We invite you to the Welcome Park to explore and discover all of the brilliant features packed into PS Vita through a series of mini-games.
This would be the one thing that I haven't heard of yet, and would be the reason the box has a PEGI (PAL equivalent to the ESRB) Rating on it assuredly.  Yes, I know you noticed it, and I noticed it too, but didn't care to really look into why.  I simply assumed it would come pre-loaded with a demo or something, which admittedly was a little folly of me since the Vita is not coming with any extra storage media.  Yes, we all sad-face about it a little, but I'm not too fussed; I have about three or four memory sticks for my PSP floating around, all gotten fairly cheap and the minimal cost to experience as I have has never brought down my overall experience.  Regardless, Mini-Games to show off the quite a neat little idea.  I can only wonder just how 'mini' they will be.
Party – Fancy a chat while you’re gaming? Speak with your friends anytime you like with Party. The voice and text chat application allows you to talk to up to eight party members, no matter what you’re doing. Party also allows you to set up and jump in multiplayer games and chat with Friends while you play different games, bringing cross-game chat to PS Vita.
Party's been, possibly, the most controversial aspect of the Vita so far (the other big ones being Price of all the damn things and  battery life) in my opinion, since its reveal re-ignited the torch of the Cross-Game Chat crowd, believing with fervent hope, bordering on the dangerous sort, that despite the machine lacking Cross-Game Chat for 4 years, this meant it was coming to the PS3 without a doubt.  And when we were all informed that it's just not possible, they reacted....poorly.  That it's on the handlheld, but not the PS3 is perceived as a slap in the face, rather than an evolutionary step and they have in turn, took to panning the device.

It's a bit silly, to say the least, but they'll come around or stop vocalizing about it so loudly eventually and we'll all have a little bit more peace because of it.  The app is honestly something desirable, which is clearly why there's such a hubbub about it, and I'm honestly curious to see if that "No Matter what you're doing" holds up when it comes to playing PSP games on the device, as it would assuredly make the Monster Hunter-type games quite a bit easier to to play and quite a lot more enjoyable.
Group Messaging – Another great way to contact your PlayStation Network friends is with a PSN Message. Send them an update or even a picture you’ve taken with your PS Vita to let them know what’s going on. You can message your friends on PSP and PS3, and you can have conversations with multiple people at once.
This is...this, I'm not  really sure about, in all honesty.  I mean, it's a fine thing and all, I'm confused as to how it will work.  Obviously, with a PS3 user, it'll just send a message to your PS3 Inbox, possibly with a picture attachment (as is possible currently), but what about the PSP?  To my knowledge, such a thing does not exist on the PSP in its current state, and I wonder at the ability to actually add an inbox in as a feature.  The only other option I can perceive would be to add a specific App ability to the PSP (ala the Comic Reader and Qirocity) that you have to be in to participate in such a chat.  Which wouldn't be quite bad, since that's more or less what you have to do on the Vita as well, but it still seems a bit unwieldy since it would be the only way to know if you have a message or not.  I guess, as with everything else, we'll see, and I can't wait to find out the details.
Near – An exclusive location based gaming network for PS Vita. With near you can stay connected to all of your PlayStation Network friends and make new ones by sharing information about yourself, based on your location. Press the Update button and find new people based on where you are, challenge them to games or play cooperatively and enjoy a completely unique gaming experience on PS Vita. You can even send and receive new levels, unlocks and in-game items to enhance the way you play – everywhere you go will hold new surprises. You can view your friends’ game preferences, see how many trophies they’ve earned and compare your stats to see who the better player is.
As we know, I'm fairly interested in Near and have been for a while since I first really heard of it, and this new explanation of it does nothing to quell that interest but rather raise it.  That they're still saying "send and items" makes me hope, hope, hope that, at the very least, the next Phantasy Star Portable (Possibly named Phantasy Star Victory or PSV for short, get it?) makes heavy use of this as I would love to be able to go full-on altruism and drop rare weapons that I don't want for other folks to pick up where I go.  Of course, the reverse scenario would be lovely as well.

Something mysteriously absent in the line-up of features is a Video button, which, of course, has stirred up quite a few people in the comments section of the blog post.  I'm pretty sure we've seen video of the Vita playing, er, video, and I imagine this is a tactical omission to announce something more 'customizable' in its place.  Where we have TV Services and Video sections on the PS3, I figure apps similar to those will appear on the PS Store Day One or shortly after to offer we, the consumers to pick where we get our videos from mainly.  Perhaps a general video player for things downloaded off the PS Store as we have now, and a dedicated Netflix app (If 3DS can do it, so can this) among others.

Also worth a mention, especially considering we're going over a list of features of the device, is that 3G downloads are limited to 20 MB at launch, meaning your big downloads will have to be through Wi-Fi which every model of the Vita will have right out of the box.  I, like many others, thought this would be a big to-do among people, but apparently this is pretty standard with 3G devices so the outrage simply wasn't there so much; people have already conformed to this and are silently compliant with this pact.  I was more than surprised at this, but in a pleasant fashion, as I figured anything to throw at the Vita in a negative light would be pounced upon.  Still, the 20 MB limit might be raised in the future, to which I understand would be a big talking point if that were the case.  I'm not so concerned since I have no use for 3G; even though my internet is terrible, Wi-Fi is free and is, thus, good.

The final bit of news would be the several different game 'semi-announcements' as of late, coming from Marvelous AQL, Squeenix, and Falcon among others.  I call them semi-announcements as they're not giving us a whole lot, really.  Army Corps of Hell, the Demonic Pikmin-esque Squeenix entity being made by apparent former Pikmin developers has a release window of "2012" because, remember, it's Squeenix.  Falcon has announced an updated version of the second Legend of Heroes game for the Vita which, at this point, only touts more voice acting, but will surely add more bullet points soon enough.  And Marvelous AQL apparently has three 'new' Vita games in the works, of the "RPG", "Action RPG", and "Action Adventure" variety, where one of those may or may not be the new Little King's Story game.

Still, that we're getting all these announcements of new games yet is a positive sign assuredly.  Developers seem to really be taking to the Vita as they have the PSP and we can only hope their willingness extends to this side of the pond, as it were, for those of us who don't know Japanese and the like.  For my money, I'm saying there's already more support for the Vita over here than there ever really was for the PSP, and I feel confident that it'll do much better than it's predecessor.  At least, I'm hoping for it with every bit of my being.

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