While the Wii U is this year's clear winner for "most bizarre new game console," Sony's PlayStation Vita is still putting up a multi-touchscreen fight. I just got to spend some more time with the thing (my first impression was a rushed, four minute per game session of speed dating) and even have some photos and video to show for it! Check it out after the break.
Uncharted. It might sound predictable, but Uncharted is undoubtedly the flagship experience for the PlayStation Vita, and I really enjoyed my time with it. The other night I did some of the shooting and combat, which is great for a handheld, but today I spent most of my time just navigating around the jungle. I find the touch controls super intuitive, and it's interesting to watch myself "intuit" different methods of input depending on what's thrown at me -- for jumping across a chasm I might hit the X button, but then when faced with a low ledge I found myself automatically swiping at the screen to scramble up it. It can be a minor frustration when something I swipe or tap doesn't respond and I have to revert to buttons instead, but those occasions are rare, and I think it speaks to the fact that it doesn't take much love from a touchscreen interface to unsettle years of control scheme stagnation.
The other thing to know about this game that it looks amazing. The screen is truly wonderful, and there's just so much visual detail and subtle character motion. I don't think pictures or video of the screen really do it justice, but check out the video above to get a taste.
Little Deviants. This is one of the most important games to me, not because of the actual gameplay (fairly simple minigames) but because of the use of the rear touch control. After using it for a while, I was still having trouble feeling perfectly comfortable or adept at manipulating the rear touchpad. I think a bit of matte texture would make it easier to do smooth, subtle motions, but I think the bigger problem is that it's all kind of a shot in the dark -- you don't know where your finger is in relation to the onscreen action until you tap. Hopefully this will be solved with practice, but developers will also have to make the choice between "realism" with 1:1 touch control on the back, or something a little more abstracted (which was the choice for hand over hand rope climbing in Uncharted).
The video above is a developer playing the game, which should give you an idea what a trained hand can do with the rear touchpad -- he was certainly doing a lot better than me.
Reality Fighters. I suck at fighting games, and hate them because of that fact, and I didn't see anything about Reality Fighters that would change that, but it's still a pretty great looking demo. You simply put an augmented reality card on a table and start fighting with 3D fighters roaming across the real-life landscape. The Vita was tracking motion at a really high frame rate and resolution, and I'm looking forward to more games taking advantage of the sheer computational power here -- the Vita's next-gen graphics make the 3DS look kind of like a toy.