PSP Vita to be releases in Japan 2011 (why not)?

Back in early June 2011 at E3 Sony announced details for the PS Vita.  This is Sony’s successor to the original PSP introduced in 2005.  It boasts a 3 cell processor (similar to the PS3 which has 7), touch screen interface, 5inch screen, touch sensitive back panel and also, including the all important second analog stick.  Sony further announced that the PS Vita would be released in Japan December 2011.

This sounds daft to me.  Why you may ask?  At this current moment in time the PSP console is selling extremely well in Japan due to the many iterations of Monster Hunter which allows co-operative local play for up to four players.  The co-op feature is heavily used in Japan where gaming is more socially acceptable and played in public places such as Cafes.  The PSP, in Japan anyway, is in the best shape it has ever been where it is currently outselling the Nintendo 3DS and is constantly top of the hardware charts list in recent months.

Games that appeal to the Japanese hardcore such as Gundam, Arcane Slayer, Tactics Ogre, Dynasty Warriors and Final Fantasy Dissidia show that there is still a market for Japanese centric games which the PS3, 3DS and Wii are currently lacking.

Therefore, my suggestion to Sony would be to release in the US markets first then Europe where the original PSP is experiencing a downturn due to lack of developer support both first party and third party.  Secondly, consumer interest has peaked and the PSP is looking worse for wear as it is being superseded by newer technology such as mobile devices, tablets and of course the 3DS.

I think the Japanese market still has another year to run for the original PSP.  The PS Vita could suffer a similar fate to the PS3 whereas it was introduced too early and harmed its sales as the PS2 was still selling in high numbers.

Gaikai – a platform agnostic solution for the future gaming needs

I have just played the demo version of Mass Effect 2 on the Gaikai website; judging from the website it’s an impressive user of today’s technology for streaming a game in real time in your browser thus making it a platform agnostic solution.

I have just played the demo version of Mass Effect 2 on the Gaikai website; judging from the website it’s an impressive user of today’s technology for streaming a game in real time in your browser thus making it a platform agnostic solution.  Theoretically you should be able to play games using OSX, Linux or a Windows system using any choice of browser albeit Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera or Safari.

All that was required was a visit to the website and install the Gaikai Java applet which is similar to most other plug-ins to play video or music such as Flash or Quicktime.  There is no need for special hardware such as excess RAM, dedicated graphics card or a powerful CPU.  Instead the Gaikai technology uses your PC as a thin client to stream the display data whilst the actual game is hosted and played on the Gaikai servers.

This is similar to the Onlive solution however this will require you to purchase a special box and controller to access it unlike Gaikai which will support your mouse and keyboard as standard.  I am sure in time there will be controllers that will be made compatible with this system.  The closest example I can think of is Facebook which currently offers only the most basic arcade/console games and takes up minimum hardware power.

At the moment the Gaikai platform headed by (Dave Perry) is marketed as an advertising platform for accessing game demos but this has been downplayed somewhat.  The potential for this technology in the coming years, due to the trend in an ever increasing oversaturated OS market, seems to make sense.  As the internet browser is common place and a powerful application among all devices; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this is where we are heading for PC and mobile gaming in the future this is why HTC have invested heavily in OnLive.  Similar to streaming media platforms such as Netflix, Napster, Spotify and Qriocity all games will be available in a large library ready for the gamer to play.

The only question remains is how to generate sufficient revenue and profits from such a platform?  Personally, I think games 3-5 years old should be available as part of your monthly subscription with each publisher getting a share based on how much their games are played and you pay extra for any new release games.

I don’t think it will put out Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft anytime soon (let’s face it they are great at what they do and have a very successful business model) but Gaikai will be a great platform to provide accessible gaming and help grow the gaming community further whether it is farmed out on a publisher by publisher basis or becomes a competitor to Steam.

NGP unveiling – my thoughts…

After the unveiling of the Sony NGP I can safely say that is a gamer’s wet dream come true. Sony has responded to fans’ requests to provide a portable console with touch screen, dual analog sticks and motion control.

After the unveiling of the Sony NGP I can safely say that is a gamer’s wet dream come true. Sony has responded to fans’ requests to provide a portable console with touch screen, dual analog sticks and motion control. Also, added are two cameras, gyro sensor, touch back panel with a larger screen.

One question remains for me will the NGP support Android OS?

The hardware under the hood certainly suggests the NGP is more than capable of running Android OS. Although, I doubt this will be the main framework that the NGP is built around. The 4 cell processor similar to the PS3’s 8 cell processor leaves a mouth watering prospect of playing some huge blockbuster games translated straight from the PS3’s library. Couple this with re-releases of key first gen PSP titles that a lot of consumers may have missed only adds to the excitement. The only thing missing is 3D – but I can see why this hasn’t been the focus. All Playstation consoles start off as power house monsters and adding 3D would have severely increased costs and would have a detrimental effect on the graphical capability. However, Nintendo on the other hand tend to couple their hardware with key software in mind.

I would assume that this console will initially retail around £250 in line with the current 3DS console although over time it will eventually reduce in price and replace the original PSP as their main portable platform. My only concern is how this will be marketed and compete with the various devices that the original PSP didn’t have to contend with.

Game saves – save anywhere is the future

I trade in my old XBOX 360 for a new slim model ensuring that I have copied all of my game saves and content to an external drive.  Copy version seems ok with all game saves intact.  I copy the content and game saves to my new XBOX 360 slim.  I fire up Forza 3.  I look for my game save.  No game save available.  Dissapointment sets in…

I am not a happy bunny after spending around 15 hours Forza 3 prior to this and losing my game save is not on.  I will not be touching Forza 3 anytime soon.  A similar thing happened with my PS3 where I was unable to copy over my Uncharted 2 content.  Why do hardware manufacturers make it so difficult to retrieve your game saves?

This brings me to cloud gaming profiles.  Imagine a world where you play a game and the saved game is automatically uploaded as part of your profile.  Wherever you are you can access your game save and profile.  It is a simple idea and in this hi-tech day and age I am surprised it hasn’t been thought of already?

Granted we are not going to see Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo hold hands and share user profiles.  However, all three should be able to implement a cloud game save solution.  The amount of hours I have poured into various games over the years only to find that I can no longer revive my scores or game states.

We are stepping in the right direction with Apple and it’s Game Center where your game saves are backed up as part of the App to re-sync later.  However, this is locally via PC and your Iphone/Ipod Touch.  As gamers we need a better solution.  Please Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo listen!!!

Sony E3 2010

In my eyes Sony’s E3 2010 press conference came second after Nintendo. They showed a vast array of game titles covering all types of genres and appealing to all demographics. This has always been a strong point for Sony.

In my eyes Sony’s E3 2010 press conference came second after Nintendo. They showed a vast array of game titles covering all types of genres and appealing to all demographics. This has always been a strong point for Sony.

I think the change that we are seeing from Sony is that like Nintendo they too are moving towards producing more first party titles as evident from the below.

One thing you won’t get away from is 3D with glasses or without. I believe playing certain games such as Killzone 3D or Gran Turismo 5 3D will enhance the experience and immersing you even more in the environments. From the keynote I thought Killzone 3 is shaping up to be something special and judging by the last public demo of Gran Turismo 5 you can tell it is taking shape and I hope it is worth the wait as it is still my racer of choice.

I wasn’t too impressed with Infamous 2 and never enjoyed the first game. However, LittleBigPlanet 2 looks all the more important with its new level of creativity taken to the extreme and covering a wide variety of genres. This could become it’s own ‘mini APP’ outlet.

EA seemed to be in cahoots with Sony as of late and announced exclusive content only for PS3 such as Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor and Mafia 2. This is overall good news for Sony given that Activision have favoured the XBOX.

Sony also, showed off their Move controller. Seeing some of the demos such as Sorcery, Tiger Woods 11 and Socom confrontation I can see this working well on traditional games as well as the frivolous party games that will inevitably ensue.

Kevin Butler also made a grand speech claiming that all gamers were important and that the casual and hardcore games could co-exist which is the overall message that Sony is trying to portray.

The oddity of no new PSP is a puzzling one but I suspect Sony wanted to sit back and wait to see what Nintendo offered. They have falsely backed a dying 5 year old PSP console for the next 6 months. Although, the PSP is selling well in Japan I am sure that these sales will pan down with no new Monster Hunter or Metal Gear for the remaining 6 months. I am looking forward to Patapon 3 and God of War: Ghost of Sparta which is due to be a last hurrah for the current gen PSP.

Sony also, showed off the Playstation Plus a new subscription service which will give you exclusive demos, free games and other benefits. Package looks good so far and the fact they have taken a different route to XBOX Live bodes well to add a differentiator in the services offered to gamers overall.

All in all Sony made a stable and impressive showing.

Intro/logo screens really necessary??

I hate intro/logo screens.  Is it really necessary in today’s gaming?

There is nothing worse than loading up something like Fifa 10 and for the first few minutes of your game having to see all the logo screens.  Multiply this by the number of times you access the game it becomes a significant number.  Surely if someone wants to know who created the game they can go to the credits section?  Or even have logos placed on the menu screen as small icons/logos maybe similar to a web page?

I am sick and tired of seeing logos technology specific i.e. softdec, unreal engine, havok engine, dolby surround sound etc etc.  The list goes on and on.  Not forgetting the logo screens for the games’ publisher and developer.  The gaming industry really need to get the UI right as this is the first impressions of a game.  I think Nintendo have this more right than others.  I think the worst offence that can be committed is to have a intro movie right at the begininng which you cannot skip but that is another story.

The way I see it booting up straight to the menu page doesn’t seem like a huge deal now as most games require a compulsory install or require a straight install.  Previously games have had logo screens in order to hide the fact that the game was loading in the background.

What do you think add your comments below?

Mirror's Edge review

I love this game. Despite playing the majority of the story mode without realising that you can pick up weapons (not explained in game very well I thought but I’ll forgive them) :)

I love this game.  Despite playing the majority of the story mode without realising that you can pick up weapons (not explained in game very well I thought but I’ll forgive them) :)

Dice have come up trumps with the look and feel of this game.  Also, the sound created by Solar Fields is nothing short of stunning.  Both graphics and sound really pull the whole concept of running and jumping through the environments together by adding verve and agility to the pacing.

Some people will not get this game due to it crossing several barriers such as running and jumping through first person mode and secondly, the simplistic nature in its combat.  Which neither makes it a traditional first person shooter or say a platformer.

However, saying that I liked the fact this is trying to break new ground and for the most parts the combat, running and jumping works.  There are moments of slow down in pace which doesn’t sit comfortably with the running sections.  It is more fun running across and over buildings which gets your adrenaline pumping rather than the minimalist shooting sequences which can frustrate especially given your health bar.

The story mode lasted around the 8-10 hour mark for me and then you can take on the challenge mode.  It is a worthwhile game those looking for something different and willing to take the gamble.  I loved the art direction and for the most parts the environments and characters.

4/5

PixelJunk shooter review

This game reminds me of Solar Jetman for some reason. Maybe it is collecting things on a 2D plane controlling a ship. Your job is to save the scientists/miners whilst navigating your spaceship through obstacles and the ever changing environment.

This game reminds me of Solar Jetman for some reason.  Maybe it is collecting things on a 2D plane controlling a ship.   Your job is to save the scientists/miners whilst navigating your spaceship through obstacles and the ever changing environment.

The controlling of the ship is basic where the fun really comes from is exploring the 2D environments and playing around with the fire, earth and water elements to complete stages is a lost mechanic of the 8 bit/16 bit era.  I ended up restarting a lot of the levels as I wanted to get a perfect score and save all the scientists.

It is pure old skool gaming with updated visuals and sound.  Speaking of the sound it has some amazing techno/ambient music in this game.  The game lasts for around 5-7 hours depending on your gaming prowess.  It has amazing sound with great gameplay mechanics.  I can’t wait for the sequel.

5/5

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood multiplayer

Details are starting to emerge on Assassin’s Creed brotherhood which will focus on multiplayer. Up to 8 players is supported with each taking on the role of an Assassin with the goal to kill each other in the stealthiest way possible.

Details are starting to emerge on Assassin’s Creed brotherhood which will focus on multiplayer.  Up to 8 players is supported with each taking on the role of an Assassin with the goal to kill each other in the stealthiest way possible.

It looks as though the same development team that created the multiplayer component of Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow will be working on this.  It sounds intriguing…. after enjoying Assassin’s Creed 2 I am looking forward to this.

Assassin's Creed 2 review

This game is a mix between zelda/GTA/Prince of persia set in renaissance italy. There is a lot of variety in the gameplay. I haven’t played the first game yet which was accused of being slightly too linear without any variety in the gameplay.

This game is a mix between zelda/GTA/Prince of persia set in renaissance italy. There is a lot of variety in the gameplay. I haven’t played the first game yet which was accused of being slightly too linear without any variety in the gameplay.

The main story mode is the obvious draw to the game where you take control of the main character Ezio. Ezio moves with verve and agility allowing you to climb the highest towers with ease. You are constantly rewarded with upgraded armour which make the combat sequences that much easier to deal with. The missions have a lot of variety with some taking on the role of stealth assassin while others see you in a obstacle race scenario. I found the tomb sections really interesting where you are solving puzzles in a dungeon like map very much like Zelda. It’s great collecting treasures, paintings, glyphs and codex pages not to mention unravelling the story piece by piece.

The cities that you travel through are very much like gta but the single difference I feel is that the character movement and abilities given to you in this game adds more of a sense of freedom as you can climb up buildings as well as jumping across them to get to your desired location simile to prince of Persia but in a traditional gta city. Although a car would help sometimes. :)

I played the XBOX 360 version as it is supposed to be slightly graphically superior compared to the PS3 version but don’t let that dissuade you from great game.

The entire game lasts between 16-20 hours if you collect all the treasures and complete all the missions. Graphics and menu presentation is simply amazing and I wholeheartedly recommend this game to even the die hard Zelda or gta fans. A truly epic game.

5/5