You know that cliched saying that, when someone is very excited (maybe too excited for their own good) about a particular object, you describe them as a child in a candy store? Well, I was that child today (metaphorically speaking of course) as I, Joshua Spudic, Capsule Computer’s Resident Playstation Reporter/Expert, had finally clutched the Playstation Vita in my hands. The sheer presence of a portable gaming machine that I want was enough to excite me, but having my hands to touch it… is another thing entirely. From the experience today, this is a portable force to be reckoned with.
The man of the moment was John McLaughlin, a Producer within the SCE Worldwide Studios external development group, known as XDev. Based in the United Kingdom, they are in fact developing a few Vita titles, with two available for show. First up, LittleBigPlanet. Being one of Playstation’s biggest platforming games, there is little to explain. But for others, then time for a gaming lesson. LittleBigPlanet follows Sackboy around the world, encountering exotic and interesting people and puzzles. However, the real strength lies in the creation. It seems like endless opportunities for the imagination of one to flow into this game. Levels, obstacles and other nick nacks can be created. Even Sackboy can be customised. Each iteration offers something new, however, the Vita version could be the best yet.
John boots up the game and, after revealing my experience with LittleBigPlanet on other Playstation platforms, decides that I should just jump right into it. The moment I had anticipated had arrived. The Playstation Vita was in my hands. A message prompted me to slide my finger to pull back the curtains. Behind them was the remarkable graphical capabilities. I am impressed with what was achieved. For a portable, this is a beast of a machine. They are on par with the Playstation 3. If one ever goes to a public event where the Vita is being displayed, they shall not be disappointed with the visuals. On the game itself, it has the LittleBigPlanet feel, bright and colourful.
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John pointed out certain bright blue elements hanging about. Not what one would collect throughout the level but what one would grab to go across pits and gaps. They are actually touch compatible. Using the front touch screen, one can drag across that element to Sackboy. After pulling the lever, it was time to trek onwards. I had reached to another blue element, this time embedded at the bottom of the screen. With a flick on the front touch screen, Mr. Sackboy launches upwards. That was pretty awesome, ladies and gentlemen. It felt so natural to use.
Of course, that wasn’t the only time I had encountered the unique features of the Vita. The rear touch pad came into play when a row of teeth (comically spelling out Rear Touch) receded, leaving a big gap too big to jump over. So, with my fingertips, a blue fingerprint appears as soon as I make contact with the rear touch pad. I slide across the teeth and they pop out instantly. I was amazed at this feature. So much possibilities lie within this one feature, as well with the others. A puzzle within the level used both front and rear touch areas. The gyroscope was also used, tilting the man on tracks to the right by tilting the handheld to the right. The same thing is done for the opposite direction. The end of the level involves flinging Sackboy in a sardine can, which is pretty cool.
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LittleBigPlanet will not just feature the main levels. It will also feature a variety of mini-games that will utilise the Vita’s main features. One such mini-game that I tried out was a version of air hockey. Holding the Vita on its side, you slide your puck from side to side. Bumpers will sporadically pop up to the annoyance of your opponent. Another mini-game shown was a car game, where, holding it on its side and only using the right analogue stick, players will drive Sackboy on a multi-lane road, avoiding cars from in front and behind. Nice additions to a game that has already impressed me.
The second game on display was Reality Fighters. Mostly using the camera, Reality Fighters is a fighter where the people around you are the fighters. Yep, that could mean your family, relatives, friends, strangers and, most importantly, yourself. Customisation is at the forefront for this game, as well as augmented reality or AR. Want proof? Let’s check some pictures shall we.
First off, the photo being taken:
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Then the customisation:
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Yes, that is me in a disco suit. There are different fighting styles as well, with traditional (muay thai, boxing) and wacky ones available (zombie, ballet). So, in order to fit with the costume, I decided to be a disco dancer.
The gameplay is simple enough to understand but also offer complex moves as well as interaction with weapons such as tongs for pulling teeth out. Both the AR markers and the actual environments will be offered as backgrounds for the game and they really work well. Although I did encounter a few AR glitches, I was told that this early code. A second version was brought with new code, including touch screen controls for the more casual player, but we ran out of time to try that out.
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Overall, I am excited on what the Playstation Vita shall offer. Both LittleBigPlanet and Reality Fighters both impress me with their use of some of the newer features never before seen on a Playstation handheld (AR did have a limited existence in PSP via a small USB camera). They feel natural and not tacked on for the sake of tacking them on. The handheld is light and the thumbsticks do feel they are cheaply made but they are very minor points. Overall, this experience has convinced me that the Playstation Vita is the way to go.
Check out our gallery below as well as an interview with John on certain features of the Vita and how are they going to be implemented in both LittleBigPlanet and Reality Fighters.