Friday, July 5, 2013

Why Don't We Talk About Playstation Mobile?

Two separate posts that appeared in my twitter feed a few nights ago inspired a momentary bit of rage at their misleading titles, but it struck me as odd afterwards since they were not, in essence, lying about anything.  I'm not going to link them, but the separate posts each basically were titled something to the extent of "(Game) is coming to Playstation Vita!" in which the two games were Chaos Rings and Tokyo Jungle.  Chaos Rings is one of Squeenix's Cell Phone RPGs that I haven't put a single bit of looking into, but Tokyo Jungle is something...different.  Tokyo Jungle is something that I would very much like to see on my Vita.  The only thing is, when you actually -read- the posts, the turns out the context is that of a Playstation Mobile release for each of the two, not one that goes through the channels that makes it an official Playstation Network game.  So, as stated, I was annoyed by that at first and thought to write it off completely.

Then I wondered -why- though.  Why was the fact that they were Playstation Mobile titles and not PSN titles a -bad- thing?  Since if I reacted negatively, it has to mean that they're a bad thing.  I have to say, though, that I do think I've figured it out, and it's a little disheartening as to what I think the reasons are.

Playstation Mobile, if you're unaware, is a side-platform available to developers/publishers to bring their smaller games, generally from the iOS/Android market to Playstation-Certified devices which doesn't specifically mean Vita, but the Vita is one of the devices that PSM works well with.  I think that distinction itself harbors a little ill-feeling towards it since we generally don't -like- the smaller, casual phone games that proliferate the iOS/Android market.  Cell phones aren't gaming devices, they're not made to be one and they're not specialized for the task (or customizable to be so), they're simply things that -can- run games...for a couple hours and then the cell phone batter dies and completely kills the reason for its existence. 

It certainly doesn't help that the limited architecture of the devices means for games that, in general aren't nearly as deep as we're used to in terms of story, length of play (though, given some AAA titles, this could be argued heavily) and things of that nature.  There are exceptions of course, and that list grows longer by the day, but the stigma for now is Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and to some extent even Plants Vs. Zombies as fun little 'time-wasters' and not generally 'games' in a broader, deeper sense.  (I'm not looking to get into the pedantry that evolves from that type of statement.  Yes, Angry Birds is a game, but it's also shallow in comparison to 95% of the games, even downloadable titles, that are released on 3DS/Vita.)

So, in opening a storefront for that specific type of product that is literally housed in the same application in which you can buy full Vita games that offer the type of experience that we're used to, you're sort of asking for trouble.  It also doesn't help that PSM is sort of Playstation's version of the whole XBox Live Indie Game scene in that it simply doesn't get a lot of advertisement and the games don't benefit from things that everything else on the platform -can- (aside from PSP games).  We were assured long ago that Playstation Mobiles would eventually be able to support things such as trophies, leaderboards and the other niceties that we're used to these days, but that was almost a year ago and I haven't heard a peep about it since.  Perhaps it is a bit difficult considering PSM covers the PSP and Playstation-Certified Phones, but it should be possible.  Basically what this means is that, even if you don't -care- about those types of things, you might see their lack of inclusion as them being a lesser game, which makes you less-inclined to buy it and play it when that $3 or so could be spent towards something else that feels more 'supported' in the grand scheme of things.

Still, I remind myself that games like Dragon Fantasy Book I were born on iOS, meaning great things -can- come from that sort of device.  These two titles, I think, are a boon for the platform since Chaos Rings is something I could not play otherwise, but I just might.  I'd like to see what kind of UI changes are made considering the game doesn't have to have giant buttons all over the screen before I make a judgment call on that.  However, the version of Tokyo Jungle that is coming to Playstation Mobile something rather 'interesting'.  In other words, more Tokyo Jungle than Tokyo Jungle already was.  It's not going to be the same game as on PS3, the wander-around roguelike in which you can have a pomeranian take down a dinosaur eventually, but it will be close.  Shane Bettenhausen, someone who seems close to the Indie side of Playstation, describes screenshots of the Playstation Mobile version of Tokyo Jungle as "FFT with gazelles and pomeranians" which is...enticing in its own way.  Thankfully enough, the release date for the American version of Tokyo Jungle's Mobile iteration is Next Week (I believe the 10th) same as Japan's release, so we'll get to try it out then.  And you can bet I'm going to give it a shot.

basically I just need more SRPGs like FFT in my life and bonus points if they're exceedingly weird like Tokyo Jungle

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