I very, very briefly toyed with the idea of doing a post predicting just what could have been announced at the Sony Japan Pre-TGS Conference, but I decided on the idea that it was mostly going to be an event where the PS4 release date was going to be announced, see some Yakuza Ishin and Final Fantasy 14 on PS4 and basically be it. Just the bog-standard Japan version of the "Here's the PS4, look how awesome it is" speech that we've all gotten by now and Japan hadn't, really since they didn't even get a release date just yet. -Maybe- there'd be a big PS4 game announced. Maybe. I certainly didn't expect any big announcements or...really announcements of a sort at all. As we all know by now, I am terrible at predictions and, as such, there were a ton of fucking announcements made at the conference and I don't even know what to think about half of them.
First up, what we all expected: the PS4 launch date. It is...certainly not what we expected, to say the least, as the Playstation 4 will launch in Japan on February 22nd, 2014, months after the NA and EU launch. Those few months don't even change up the launch list all that much:
- Assassin's Creed 4
- Battlefield 4
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- Doki-Doki Universe
- Dream Club: Host Girls on Stage
- Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends
- FIFA 14
- Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn beta
- Killzone: Shadow Fall
- Natural Doctrine
- Puzzle 4 Sudoku
- Tottemo E Mahjong Plus
- Watch Dogs
- Yakuza: Restoration
Yakuza: Restoration and Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends making the PS4 launch cut, however, will make quite a big deal in Japan. Restoration was previously only figured on for PS3, but now is hitting the PS4 and possibly Vita - again, there's conflicting reports here and I base them on Joystiq just not having good people staying up late to watch the thing. Either the game is going to be released on the Vita (as DW8:XL and a few other games (especially KOEI ones) or they just made it a point to once again mention Remote Play which is not the same thing at all and is something we already know because if a game is released for the PS4, unless it makes use of the Camera extensively or something, it can be Remote Play'd. I -get- that it's a selling point, but you don't have to mention it with every game, especially when it leads to confusion like this. Speaking of KOEI games, however, I have to wonder just what Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends is going to be like, as unless it has the base content of 8, it's....literally not a full game, as XL games are Expansions. Quite a weird choice if it's going to be as light as previous XL games unless they bring 8 to Vita and PS4 as well.
Strangely enough, at the event where the Japanese PS4 release date was announced, there's a strong case to be made for the theory that the Vita was the big draw. Vita news began with the announcement of a new, thinner model that follows in the footsteps of the PSP and its revisions. The Vita-2000 (like the PSP-2000) will eschew the sexy OLED screen for a (hopefully not much less sexy) LCD screen, include 1 gig of onboard storage and come in six different colors for Japan at least. Pricing doesn't seem to be much cheaper, since it comes in around $200 with conversion rates, but Japan -loves- different color models, and with a different screen, the profit margins on the device likely make it much, much better for Sony as a product. I'm not sure how to feel about it - the Vita isn't that old to need a redesign and I fucking love the screen on mine, but there might not be that much of a difference. Regardless, I'm not getting rid of mine anytime soon and, like others, the newly announced 64 gig memory stick will be mine ASAP, meaning that my Vita will be recommended -that much more- heavily by me if you can imagine that.
The Vita also saw a few games announced for it as well, and while it was nothing exactly huge - TGS is right around the corner after all, and I'm still saying you can expect Gravity Rush 2 there - there's still things worth a mention. Soul Sacrifice Delta was announced as an updated version of Soul Sacrifice that is apparently much more than just an updated version of the game as Japan does sometimes. It promises "all new elements" (I've heard talks of a straight up 'neutral option' that is neither Sacrificing or Saving a target in terms of your 'humanity' which is interesting enough) and the like that will increase the appeal of the brand overall. I'd buy the hell out of it. Alongside that, Phantasy Star Nova was announced as a collaboration between Sega and Tri-Ace in which is seems like Tri-Ace is doing basically all of the developing of the game. It'll be based on the world of Phantasy Star Online 2, but offer a Single-Player story alongside an online Co-Op Multiplayer mode for up to four people. Best odds are on Soul Sacrifice Delta being the one of these coming West, but we can hope for both.
Lastly, and most curiously, something called a Playstation Vita TV was announced and if there's anything that I just look at and don't know about, it's this. What this is, essentially, is a Playstation Vita without the screen or the controls because you plug it into a TV for the screen and you control it with a controller; both Dualshock 3s and 4s will apparently work with it. It is, for all intents and purposes, a console version of the Playstation Vita, meaning if you don't want to game on the go, simply don't want to play a handheld in your home, or you just want to play Vita games on a big screen TV, this is your go-to device. You'll be able to put carts and memory sticks in it just like a normal Vita, and the touch-screen inputs can be mirrored with a press of the L3 and/or R3 buttons (the analog sticks when you push them down) of your Dualshock, which is...inelegant, but for minor uses, fairly inoffensive. Games like Gravity Rush, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward that make extensive use of all the Vita's features, however, might literally be un-playable on it as there's a compatibility list floating around out there which always means there will be some exceptions.
Still, at ~$99, the Playstation Vita TV is damn enticing for anyone who wants the Vita experience without actually buying a Vita. Originally, I didn't know -why- you'd want to do this, but the more I think about it, the more that it begins to make a little sense as to why you'd want to buy one even if you -have- a Vita. For one, the allure of playing Persona 4 Golden, with its lovely colors and silky smooth frames on a rather large TV is enticing admittedly. Secondly, and perhaps the -real- reason why I'd consider it myself, is that for $99, you basically have a secondary PS4 box thanks to Remote Play. Have your PS4 set up in the living room, but you want to play inFamous: Second Son in your bedroom? Hook up your Vita TV and Remote Play it on your bedroom TV, easy as that. Combine that with the media capabilities the Vita already has (Youtube, Netflix apps, Video player, some browser-video viewing ability, etc.) and what they might get in the future as a result of more exposure (perhaps Crunchyroll, Hulu Plus, and the likes of other programs that are on the PS3 already?) and it might just be something that kicks the Apple TV, Roku and the Ouya all to the curb in one fell swoop. Like the Ouya needed any help in doing that.
It makes you wonder what Sony's going to announce at the Tokyo Games Show when -that- is their pre-show conference. Aside from the obvious bits that I mentioned (Gravity Rush 2), I was literally drawing blanks as to what to think about this conference and TGS both. I don't really expect them to show up at TGS with nothing else, as that'd be really silly, but, hell, I'm always wrong with this kind of thing. But when crazy, weird shit like this can happen, it really gives you hope and excitement about what's just around the corner, or at least, it certainly gives me that. I wonder if it'd be too early to announce Soul Sacrifice 2 with the Delta announcement just made...
that 64 gig stick is going to be ridiculously priced, but it'll be worth it so that I can carry my Final Fantasy and Persona collections around hopefully