Tagged: PSVita

Of 2015: The Mobile Games

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Bad as my eyes are these days I did play some actual mobile games in 2015. Most of them were free, only a couple were on my phone and some were barely games at all. In the course of dilly-dallying on this post I also came up with these crude ASCII symbols for each handheld so enjoy those as well.

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Early in the year I finally hopped on the crazy hype wagon for Crossy Road. Sure enough, it was a fun Frogger-like with voxel graphics and a bunch of goofy skins. Quick and fun and sometimes infuriating, I poked at it for a few months. Much, much later I happened upon Horizon Chase thanks to digging up news for OSV. It excels as an update and homage to classics like Top Gear and they even pulled in Barry Leitch, the original composer, to revisit the music. It’s fabulous looking, fast and fun to play but I think I’m going to hold out for the upcoming PS4 release to really dive in.

Honorable mentions go to Tori Watch and Neko Atsume!. Both are similarly peculiar Japanese phone “games” that simulate sitting outdoors and waiting for birds and cats, respectively, to wander into your yard. There isn’t much that you really do but they were both cute and free and very, very Japanese-y.

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Thanks to PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Mobile, the Vita continued to get frequent use through the first part of the year. OlliOlli 2 brought more 2D twitch skateboarding but even though it’s vastly improved from the original it didn’t grab me as strongly. The same month, Flame Over debuted exclusively on the Vita and I spent a few weeks throwing myself against its challenging mashup of firefighting and roguelikes. I’ve since picked it up on Steam where I enjoy it much more but I was happy to support the game early on.

Finally was Oh Deer! Alpha which has the distinction of only being available to buy for a few short weeks. It was one of the last releases to Sony’s Android-powered PlayStation Mobile marketplace which was home to all kinds of cheap, knock-off, and illicit apps and games over the years. As an alpha, Oh Deer! is a basic game, one that apes the art and gameplay of OutRun but replaces the Ferrari with a station wagon and traffic with deer. Lots and lots of deer waiting to be mowed down or avoided. It’s up to you and the game’s music — marking a return to the scene for Motohiro Kawashima — changes in intensity depending on how you play. I’m still hoping it becomes a full game some day.

 

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Serving as experiments in Free-to-Start design, and to tide people over until a proper sequel, Nintendo went nuts with free Pokemon games in 2015. I skipped Pokemon Picross because I will never understand picross in a way that makes me feel good playing it. Instead I kept up with Pokemon Shuffle and Pokemon Rumble World for a while.

Pokemon Shuffle is an oddball matching puzzle game with almost no rules and a lot of grinding if you want to catch and train all the ‘mon. On the game board you can move pieces just about any which way to make matches while daily energy limits introduce the “challenge”. Without paying real money there are few Pokemon you can catch so I just poked at its fun and colorful fringes before bed for a while.

Pokemon Rumble World is a Free-to-Start iteration of Nintendo’s long running but mostly overlooked Pokemon action series. It’s a little like Dynasty Warriors in that the fun comes from demolishing hordes of simple-minded fodder on the way to slightly tougher boss battles. I was hoping this would be the Rumble game I finally got into but I ditched it even before grinding up against its microtransaction wall.

Finally is Nintendo Badge Arcade which I’ve somehow spent the most time with. It’s simply a nefarious arcade claw game that desperately wants you to pump real money into it for a chance to grab Nintendo branded trinkets. You then stick these badges on your 3DS Home screen… to look at. That’s it. I have more to say in my Dailies of 2015 post but I’ll sum it up again here: it’s so well designed that it makes you feel great even when you’re scamming it for free plays every day.

Gawp at the Smoldering Remains of PlayStation Mobile

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If you were wondering what would happen to the PlayStation Mobile marketplace the day after its July 15th execution, all you need to do is look above. The “PlayStation Mobile” button remains on the Vita storefront (presumably until the next firmware update) but it only leads to this stripped down store page with some unceremonious text.

Thanks to everyone who developed, shopped and supported the PlayStation Mobile marketplace. It was fun and weird and probably not all that successful for anyone involved but it was great that it ever existed.

It is Totally Time to say Goodbye to PlayStation Mobile!

I hope you loaded up on all your favorite Flappy Bird clones and weather apps because the PlayStation Mobile marketplace officially died yesterday on the Vita. Actually, it’s more like it’s slowly being strangled to death. July 15th marked the last day for new content releases (of which there were none) and as of September 10th purchase via web browser and re-download of previously purchased content will be disabled.

In honor of the dysfunctional storefront, which I periodically kept an eye on, I recorded one last look at all the game and app categories. Dramatic readings of busted game descriptions ensues. Unfortunately, when I stopped to eat dinner the microphone got muted and so there’s a 30 minute chunk with no audio. I pop back on at the 1:14:00 mark, and yes, I recorded 90 minutes of this derelict marketplace. I really did like it, for good and bad reasons.

Breaking down Sony’s huge PlayStation lineup

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At first sight this updated list of forthcoming PlayStation releases looks enticingly massive. The official blog post is pages long (even excluding the pages of comments below it) but once you take your personal tastes into account things shrivel quickly.

Not into min-eSports style competitive multiplayer?
Not wild about PC ports?
Not up for more twin stick arcade shooters?
Not hot for indie games?

That’ll cut out up to 70% of this list and you can ignore another chunk of it that covers recently released titles. What’s left for PlayStation fans to look forward to? By my estimate about 74 exclusive releases between PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Vita. Only a dozen of those are likely to be major retail releases and surely some of these games are going to slip to 2016 or beyond.

The good news? If you’re a fan of anime/manga then PlayStation will treat you well. There’s a surprising number of games either based on or inspired by Japanese properties, most of which I’m unfamiliar with.  Sony also hasn’t completely cut off ties to a few oddball titles I was worried about. Both Shadow of the Beast and Everyone’s gone to the Rapture are, at least, mentioned on the list. The Last Guardian, however, is nowhere in sight.

It sure makes for a flashy blog post and headline as every other outlet copied and pasted the listing instantaneously. But really give it a look over for yourself and decide how many of these 220 titles you need a PlayStation console for.

E3 2014: PlayStation TV could be a surprise hit for Sony

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While the introduction of the Vita TV to North America as the PlayStation TV doesn’t bode so well for the Vita name, it could be a big win for Sony. Coming this Fall in two SKUs ($99 alone, $140 with a Dual Shock 3, 8gb stick, HDMI cable, and the Lego: The Movie game), the minuscule box offers a lot of PlayStation synergy.

It can download and play “select” Vita, PSP, and PS One games from the PlayStation Store. It can stream “select” PlayStation 3 games from PlayStation Now, and it can remote play PlayStation 4 games across a local network. It will also enable buying and renting movies, TV shows and music from the PlayStation Store and since it’s basically a Vita it should also offer Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and other entertainment apps. It’s a super tiny box and at least with PS4 remote play it addresses that complaint about family members hogging the living room TV.

Could it ever compete with Chromecast, Fire TV, or the dozens of other little plastic media boxes already established in the market? It’s possible but Sony will probably slack with keeping it updated. The one major selling point I see is Sony’s angle with Disney Infinity 2. Details were nonexistent at their press conference but at $99 for the console it could be the cheapest way for kids to get sucked into Disney Infinity 2.

Add on the marketing angle of the tiny box, the game streaming and media apps and it could be a surprise seller for parents this holiday season. I don’t think I’ll ever need one but it’ll be interesting to watch how this potential dark horse fares out of the gates.