Sony's Next Generation Portable (NGP) has come a long way — it's got a final name, price, release date and plenty of upcoming games. Below, you can find our full review of the Japanese edition of the system, and stay informed with all the latest updates about this powerful gaming handheld.
Jun 5, 2012Read Article >
Sony has just announced that Hulu Plus and Crackle apps will be available on the PS Vita "soon." Both streaming video services are US-only, and have been available on the Playstation 3 for some time. Sony has been pushing apps on the Vita — Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare all have a presence on the potent portable since launch or shortly thereafter. The two video streaming apps will join the recently-announced YouTube app for PS Vita, which will launch later this month. Hulu Plus and Crackle both appeared onscreen alongside mainstays like the MLB.TV, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Sony Music Unlimited, and a curious ESPN logo. We're not going to assume quite yet that means that Watch ESPN or any of these other services are coming to the console, as Jack Tretton said "we're bringing many of these services to Vita," but we'll be keeping an eye out.
Feb 10, 2012Read Article >
The US online store for Sony's PlayStation Vita has already come online with a number of downloadable titles, but one question that has remained open is exactly which PSP games will be compatible with the new device. The company provided an answer today, posting a preliminary list of 275 downloadable games that will be waiting for gamers, including Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection and Tekken 6. Alternative methods to get PSP games onto your Vita are also covered — if you've got compatible titles on your PlayStation3, you can copy them over via USB — but there are limitations to how many devices games can be activated on. Joystiq also reports that several additional titles work with the device as well (Valkyria Chronicles 2 and Pixeljunk Monsters Deluxe are cited), with Sony noting that its master list will be updated in the coming weeks. It remains to be seen whether the expanded catalog will help the Vita avoid the sales issues it's had overseas, but we'll know when the device launches on February 22nd.
Feb 8, 2012
As promised, version 1.6 of the PlayStation Vita's firmware went live today, so we thought we'd check it out ahead of the system's US launch. The two headline features are a new Maps application and video support for the front and back cameras, and the only other immediately obvious change is that the Home button now glows blue whenever the power is on, instead of being reserved for notifications.Read Article >
The Maps application might as well be a direct port of Google Maps for iOS. The two apps are essentially identical feature-wise, though the Vita interface has been tweaked to be consistent with other apps for the system. Where it differs from and arguably betters the iPhone app is in its presentation — with such a large screen, it can display much more at the same time. Loading data is a little slow, though, with checkerboarding once you scroll the slightest bit in any direction. It seems sluggish next to an iPhone at similarly zoomed-out settings, but then the Vita has more data to load and render at once.
Feb 7, 2012
While we haven't found the PlayStation Vita's battery life to be terrible, it's certainly a far cry from the days when you could expect your Game Boy to keep on going well into the double digits. However, last year Sony announced plans to mitigate the issue with an accessory, and it's just been given a release date. The "portable charger" is essentially a 5,000mAh battery pack that should be good for one and a half full charges of the Vita, after being charged itself for around seven hours. While the Vita's power consumption depends on a lot of factors, we'd expect the combination of system and portable charger to last for at least ten hours in total. It'll go on sale in Japan on April 5th for ¥4,500 ($58.69).Read Article >
Also announced is a ¥1,500 ($19.57) car adapter, which goes on sale from March 22nd and does what you'd expect by filling your Vita with power from a cigarette lighter socket. No official word yet on a global release date for these accessories, but we'd expect them to shortly follow the imminent launch of the Vita itself, if not sooner — GameStop is currently listing the portable charger for $49.99, with an unlikely-sounding release date of today.
Feb 6, 2012
PlayStation Vita to get maps and video recording via firmware v1.6, Mac support this week (update: confirmed)
Andriasang is reporting that February 8th will see the first significant firmware update for the PlayStation Vita. The update will add a new Map application, which looks to be using Google data with standard functionality like direction search, building information and so on. This may well be the first compelling reason for some to buy the 3G version of the Vita, as the Wi-Fi-only model doesn't have GPS hardware. The Photos app will also be updated with the ability to record video, a feature mysteriously missing from the launch firmware. To go with the new firmware, Sony is finally releasing a Mac version of its Content Manager application, which is required for transferring media and other data to and from the Vita. We can't confirm these reports just yet, but rest assured we'll let you know our thoughts if and when the update becomes available.Read Article >
Update: we have official confirmation from Sony that the update will indeed be coming this February 8th.
Feb 5, 2012
GameStop has announced that 3,300 store locations should have playable demo PlayStation Vita units on-hand for shoppers to try out, but we'd advise you to call ahead before making a trip. We just spent some time calling GameStop locations in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, and not a single location had a unit available for shoppers to test. We called some twenty locations in total, and every store either said they had to keep their PS Vita units under glass with a demo video running on the display (many cited security reasons), or said that they weren't getting them at all. Stores suggested we try calling higher-volume stores, but even that failed to lead to a playable Vita.Read Article >
That said, if you do manage to track one down, GameStop should have eight playable games on it, including Uncharted: Golden Abyss, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, and Little Deviants. Hopefully this will help eager gamers whet their appetite for the Vita until the early adopter "first edition" bundles launch on February 15th — provided they can find a demo to try.
Feb 4, 2012
Sony's been trying to wave off concerns over the poor sales of the PlayStation Vita, and the drumbeat continued on the company's recent earnings call. CFO Masaru Kato stated the the company sold 500,000 units in the first three weeks after launch — it's being outsold by the nearly year-old Nintendo 3DS — but that the company was bullish on its prospects. "I think we had a very — a good start," he said, and when pressed further about the months ahead stated "we don't think we have any problems."Read Article >
To be fair, the Vita has only launched in Japan and a few neighboring countries at this point, but questions remain if the device can compete at its $249.99 base price point when faced with the rise of cheaper smartphone and tablet-based gaming. Sony is certainly hedging its bets, recently announcing a new discounted launch bundle for the 3G variant of the device, and confirming that downloadable versions of Vita games will be sold at a discounted price (at least here in the US). We won't have to wait too long to see if it pans out: the US and European Vita launch is scheduled for February 22nd.
Jan 24, 2012
The PlayStation Vita has some unbelievably nice hardware. In our review, we gave Sony's latest portable a 9 in terms of both overall design and for its gorgeous Super AMOLED Plus panel. Still, it would seem that in an ideal world, the Vita would've taken on a notably different and more design-oriented appearance than what shipped in Japan last month and is due to hit US shores in February. This is according to lead designer Takashi Sogabe, who provided an overview of the Vita's creation in a roundtable discussion covered by CVG.Read Article >
One of the more interesting revelations is that an early prototype of the device featured a clamshell design (think Tablet P) before the look and feel returned to a more traditional PSP style following input from publishers. Further, designers also toyed with an extra half inch of screen real estate before settling on a 5-inch display for portability. In fact, a large part of the discussion revolves around the compromises that must be made between designers and engineers during the development of such a mainstream product. Sogabe reveals that the Vita's original look was much thinner than the final build, only to be changed because "engineers wanted to put all the features in." In the battle of form and function, we'd likely have made the same call. After all, the Vita might not be so compelling if it weren't for its powerhouse specs. Check out the source link for the full, fascinating discussion.
Jan 24, 2012
Before the PlayStation Vita launched in Japan last month, we were under the impression that the Remote Play feature would be up and running with all PS3 games. That turned out not to be the case, with the Vita only able to stream the small list of games that already had the feature built in for Remote Play on PSP. Jailbreakers are working to get it up and running with the PS3's software library, though, and there's been a breakthrough in a hacked version of firmware 3.55.Read Article >
Videos posted on YouTube show games like Battlefield 3 and Batman: Arkham City being played on the handheld with a fair bit of input lag, though perhaps not significantly more than native Remote Play usually involves. Chances are that Sony will stamp this out in one of its already-frequent firmware updates for Vita, but hopefully the feature will find official support in the future — after all, the company itself showed off Killzone 3 streaming to the Vita at last year's Tokyo Game Show.
The Flickr app for PlayStation Vita popped up in the Japanese PlayStation Store today, so we thought we'd check it out. It's a free download, and works like any other Vita app — downloading it installs an application to the home screen with its own LiveArea from which you start it up. Pairing your Flickr account to the Vita is a matter of signing in on the Vita browser, memorizing or making a note of a nine-digit security code, and using it to log into the application. After that, there's no sign-in process to deal with.Read Article >
The application itself uses a pretty intuitive interface, arranging the standard Flickr functions in rows from top to bottom, and letting you scroll through photos from left to right. Thumbnails are a little slow to load, even though they're compressed, but full-size pictures do look great on the Vita's five-inch OLED screen once you finally get them up. First you have to tap on the thumbnail, wait for it to load a second thumbnail that fills half the screen (the other half being dedicated to the photo's information), then tap it again for a full-screen view. The app doesn't do so well with caching, either, meaning that you have to wait for each individual photo to load when flicking through an album.
Jan 18, 2012
2011's Mortal Kombat was widely praised for bringing the series back to excellence after many years of sub-par entries, and now we know that it's officially coming to the PS Vita this spring. It sounds like this will primarily be a port of last year's title, with some new content and gameplay features thrown in to keep things fresh. Unfortunately, there's no word on what exactly these additions will consist of, nor is there an exact release date, but at least we know it's coming soon. Even though we knew this game was coming, we're glad to get an official word that it'll be out soon — hopefully Warner won't wait long before dropping an actual date on us.Read Article >
Update: The official PlayStation.Blog sat down with longtime Mortal Kombat director Ed Boon and gleaned some more details, primarily that the game includes everything that was in the PS3 version, up to and including DLC characters and content. Boon says the studio did have to reduce poly counts in order to maintain a smooth 60fps framerate. There will be two Challenge Towers in the Vita game to facilitate short bursts of on-the-go gameplay, and there'll be uses there for the motion controls. There's also one-on-one multiplayer over regular or ad-hoc Wi-Fi... and with the touchscreen, you'll be able to swipe to execute fatalities! Still no release date, though.
Jan 16, 2012Read Article >
We've still got over a month before Sony's PlayStation Vita will touch down in the US and Europe, and yet the system's already getting a second firmware update in its native Japan. According to Sony, version 1.52 improves the overall stability of the Vita system, but Japan's Ascii Plus Weekly confirmed with the company that there's a fairly specific bugfix, too. Some 3G-ready handhelds wouldn't properly detect a SIM card, flashing a "No SIM" message, but the publication managed to successfully detect a troublesome NTT Docomo SIM card shortly after the update was finished. What we haven't heard (yet) is if this latest update interferes with the work being done by the hacking community.
Jan 14, 2012Read Article >
Funnily enough, the line about word-of-mouth is the same thing we've been hearing from Microsoft all week about Windows Phone market share. With the 3DS heating up after a sharp price cut (due to its own lackluster start), the Vita has an uphill battle as it enters the US market at $249.99. Luckily for Sony, the Vita's impressive graphics could give it some serious staying power once the machine comes down a bit in price, but we'd imagine Sony wouldn't mind selling a few more of these up front. A bird in the hand and all that.
Earlier today, we saw Sony's PlayStation Vita show off its AT&T cellular chops with Unit 13, and now we've got the quad-core handheld demonstrating another augmented reality title. In case you're unaware, the US and European versions of the PlayStation Vita will come with six AR cards when they go on sale this February, and you can download a bunch of games: This one is Table Football, which turns the cards into goals, grandstands and a scoreboard. You can place them however you like, spreading them apart for a larger field, or closer in for a smaller one, and when you score a goal, the field gets re-rendered with fuller 3D graphics to show off the replay. Of course, you'd already know all that if you watched the video to begin with!Read Article >
Jan 12, 2012Read Article >
All that is detailed in the partnership agreement, the details of which we're of course not privy to. The North American PlayStation Vita box art for the 3G model highlights "Connected by AT&T" fairly prominently — and don't think otherwise. Plans start at $14.99 for 250MB and $25 for 2GB — same deal as iPad. So let's be clear: region-free, carrier-locked, and PSN-monogamous.
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There's not much left to learn about the PlayStation Vita that launched in Japan — find our full review right here — but we just got our hands on a Vita connected to AT&T's 3G HSPA network, and playing Unit 13. It's a third-person shooter from Zipper Interactive, best known for the SOCOM games, where you run from cover to cover though a series of shooting-and-sneaking missions trying for a high score. The game has actual multiplayer over Wi-Fi, but the 3G functionality allows for the game's online global leaderboards to be updated in real time, and in a clever stroke, the game notifies you if a friend beats your score, gently nudging you to jump back into the game. Turnabout is fair play, right? The game will be available in Vita's "launch window," so we're expecting to see it shortly after the handheld's February US launch. Check out our video below.
Jan 5, 2012
After a fairly dramatic drop in its second week, the PlayStation Vita's sales in Japan continue to decline. According to Media Create figures published by Japanese site 4gamer, the Vita sold 42,648 units in the week starting December 26th, taking fourth place in the hardware charts. The Nintendo 3DS, however, continued its run of strong sales with 197,952 systems sold and five of the top ten software titles. It's worth noting that sales for all current systems fell last week, with the 3DS's figures being less than half of the previous week's total, so it's perhaps unfair to single out the Vita. Nevertheless, with Sony's latest (and arguably greatest) being outsold by the PSP and 3DS in every full week since the launch weekend, it certainly could have had a better start.Read Article >
Elsewhere, Famitsu published Enterbrain's figures for the whole of 2011, revealing that the Japanese games industry shrunk overall by 8% in the calendar year. The 3DS took top spot in the yearly hardware sales, with over 4 million systems sold since its launch in February. Sony's PSP was next, moving close to 2 million units, and the PlayStation 3 was the best-selling home console in 2011 with nearly 1.5 million sold.
Jan 2, 2012Read Article >
It looks like if you've got your hands on a PlayStation Vita you won't be stuck with that selection of launch titles for long. A developer has shown off a Sega Genesis emulator running on the high-powered portable in a YouTube video — the first such demonstration we've seen on the Vita. Information on how the feat was accomplished is under wraps for now, though we do know it's running the old picodrive Genesis emulator within the Vita's built-in PSP emulator. That's right, it's an emulator-within-an-emulator, and — as you can see below — Sonic & Knuckles seems to be running well on it. User frwololo, who uploaded the video, says that it's a followup to the "hello world" Vita hack we saw just the other day.
Dec 31, 2011Read Article >
Any time a new console is released, a global countdown begins until the first intrepid hacker breaks its armor and gains control over its internal hardware and features. The race is now on to crack the recently-released PlayStation Vita, and at least one hacker has shown that code can be executed on the handheld by printing "hello world" and displaying some festive lights on the screen — but that doesn't mean the Vita has been compromised. That's because these exploits aren't actually accessing the Vita's native hardware, but rather running inside the PSP emulator that allows users to play downloadable PSP games. It's hard to say if there's any way to break through the walls of that sandbox to get at the Vita from within. Still, the hack goes to show that the community is working on it, and Sony's sure to be tested as hackers inch closer to the handheld's secrets.
Dec 28, 2011
According to Japanese data firm Media Create's weekly game and console sales figures, the PlayStation Vita sold over 324,000 units in the first days following launch — but it's looking like sales dropped off sharply soon afterwards. If Media Create numbers posted on NeoGAF and 4Gamer.net are accurate, PS Vita sales declined to only 74,479 in the week ending on December 25th, while every other console on the market saw an increase during the same timeframe. We're still waiting for Media Create to officially post these numbers to its site, but NeoGAF posters Road and Chris1964 have consistently shared accurate Media Create data for months, and the post is backed up by other sources as well.Read Article >
Since launch, it appears only 80 percent of the 500,000 PS Vitas that reportedly made up the first shipment were sold, which could point to a weaker launch than expected. Of course, it depends on where those systems were shipped: the 500,000 might also include handhelds sent to other territories. Still, while Sony went on record saying that Japanese pre-orders had sold out, spot checks at several Japanese e-retailers show the Vita still in stock. That said, a console's lifespan is often a marathon instead of a sprint — with only a few weeks of sales data available, we'll hold off on writing the Vita's obituary.
Dec 27, 2011
The first post-launch firmware update (if you don't count Version 1.50 on day one) for the PlayStation Vita has gone live today, fixing an issue that affected progress in Shin Sangoku Musou (Dynasty Warriors) NEXT. The update to Version 1.510 seemingly does nothing to address the scattered problems some users have been reporting, however, which isn't so surprising considering Sony denied their existence. The best news to come out of this? We were able to update our Vita with the battery around half full — PSP users had to have a full charge to perform firmware installs, even with the system hooked up to AC.Read Article >
In other Vita download news, the Japanese PlayStation Store has been updated with a couple of new demos. The first is for impressive launch title Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but probably more intriguing is a taster of Sony Japan Studio's upcoming Gravity Daze — known in the west as Gravity Rush. The multidirectional action game is one of the more unusual titles on the Vita horizon and comes out in Japan on February 9th, with a US release pencilled in for sometime soon after the system's February 22nd street date.
Dec 21, 2011
Sony says PlayStation Vita isn't experiencing widespread issues, one gamer does battery life comparison videoRead Article >
When Sony Japan's call centers apologized for long wait times following the PlayStation Vita launch and posted an FAQ, the internet at large somehow took it as an admission of guilt — that Sony was somehow admitting that there were significant issues with the first batch of 321,400 gaming handhelds sold. As you can imagine, the company's PR department isn't not too happy about that. Sony UK directly refuted such reports when speaking to The Guardian today, saying that "we can't find any evidence of widespread glitches," and characterizing the few documented cases so far as isolated malfunctions.
Dec 21, 2011
Sonyâs PlayStation Vita represents the companyâs second entry into the volatile handheld gaming market. The original PlayStation Portable found reasonable success as a largely traditional system, with console-style games being bought in boxes from stores just like other PlayStations, but the portable gaming market has changed in the six years since that console launched. With $0.99 smartphone apps like Angry Birds satiating the boredom of many commutes, just how much appetite there is for a "full" on-the-go gaming experience is debatable. Sony's answer? Pack as much as it can into a single device, and price it starting at $249.99.Read Article >
On paper, the PS Vita is an astonishing piece of hardware, with a quad-core processor powering nearly PS3-level graphics on a 5-inch AMOLED touchscreen backed up by two analog sticks, a touch-sensitive back panel, and a smartphone-style OS. It's a confusing prospect â a dedicated gaming handheld with a lot of features taken from devices that have caused people to question the need for dedicated gaming handhelds in the first place. "Vita" means "life", but will there be a place in yours for Sony's latest creation? Let's find out.