Fight for the future

Polite Plea: After almost seven years and 7,000 articles, the number of stories is slowing down. Time and developers move on, but I'll always be posting, as the Vita becomes the new Dreamcast.
However, I do need a new Vita as my launch day model is starting to show its age. Please consider clicking an ad to help my new Vita fund!
Once reached, hopefully in time for Christmas, I will remove all adverts, leaving this island of Vita life an ad-free oasis!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Legendry Ikari coming to PSN via SNK

SNK is releasing the very classic Ikari to the PSN in Japan, (bettered only by Capcom's Commando in my estimation). Here's hoping for a quick western release, hey its only a vertical shooter - how complicated could that be?




Original Dengeki post here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Top 10 PSP Lifetime Highlights

Okay, so the PSP is now entering the land of budget-price console and games, so here's my highlights from six years of fun and games, feel free to add your own.

1. Getting my PSP
I ordered my PSP off an Asian friend and it felt like we should have been doing the deal in a dark back alley as I passed over hard cash for the hot-off-the-shelf Japanese model PSP-1000K. Normally I joined the queue in a store, got the same console everyone else was buying, but here I was ahead of the pack with something that neither me nor my friends had ever seen or held before.



Happily this was before the days of these endless unboxing videos, so I just ripped stuff open and got playing, fondling the weighty chunk of plastic and hardy controls and buttons (the same unit is still going strong today without a pixel out of place).

2. The Crossbar Interface
Okay, things have come on a lot since the PSP's launch, I now have a wireless router to make use of most of the features. The XMB itself has added more features over time; the store, the comic store and other extras, but navigating the XMB for the first time felt (given I've never had a PS3) so different and advanced compared to traditional consoles.

3. That First Game
WipeOut Pure was the game I went for and thankfully, despite being a Japanese version played completely in English. And boy did I put some hours into it, advancing through the classes, playing the different sub-modes endlessly. Then came downloadable extra tracks, additional music packages, and the thrill of beating a track you'd been stuck on for hours.

4. Multiplayer
The first time I ever played against another person was on PES, and boy was it fun - on opposite sides of our office - without the need for squidging up on a sofa in front of the big-screen, getting wires twisted, being punched to break concentration or any other intrusions.

5. Grand Theft Auto
Okay, the PSP can't quite do PS2 games, but it can come pretty close and nothing proved that more than the GTA ... Stories series, awesome levels of depth and endless game play

6. Patapon
Where PSP has felt a bit let down is in the field of unique games. Okay there have been a few but nothing stands up more for the PSP than Patapon. While LocoRoco did okay, Patapon stood out as mental gaming that did rhythm action without music and create a whole new style and challenge all of its own.











7. PSOne
Again, the PSP promise of PSOne games hasn't quite lived up to the promise due to the endless licensing issues, but there has still been a fair amount of excellent content come our way, most recently Vagrant Story and with lots more to come, this is one, rather late, gift that keeps on giving.Sure, a few games show their age badly, but Rayman and others look and play like the true classics they are.

8. On the Go
I've played the PSP pretty much everywhere, on trains, planes and in bed - out and about, at work, on holiday. For all the criticisms levelled against it, you can still play very high quality video games where you like - for that it is and always will be unbeatable (and yes, there's a DSi in the house, but its frankly crap in comparison.

9. Japanese Downloads
Nothing beats the slightly odd feeling of downloading a Japanese demo of some game that is massive over there, and not having the slightest clue what you'll play, how you'll play it, or even if you can play it. I've pulled dozens of Japanese demos and while 'enjoyed' might not be the best word, its been an experience.

10. Lifespan
Since the PSP came out there have been about 32 different variants of the Nintendo DS, while the PSP has kept on chugging along, apart from the cosmetic upgrades and PSPGo, my original still does all the same stuff as they do.When it needed more power, Sony unlocked the processor which has to be a first in console history, although they should just have let it run at full whack from day one.

Still to Come
There is obviously a lot of life left in the PSP, but with only a few hit games left to come, its days are numbered. It could still go out on a blaze of glory if Sony opens it up for homebrew, or the minis scene becomes a hot bed of new invention and not just a graveyard for iPhone ports.


Grumbleweeds
Sure the PSP isn't perfect, even some of those highlights have caveats in them and the PSP does a few whiffy features, the less said about the browser the better, the lack of international integration on the PSN store, the whole UMD thing, but as a piece of kit you can put in a pocket that predated proper smartphones by years, its not bad at all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

PSP Price Cut, But Where's the Rest?

Sony US has announced an official PSP-3000 price cut down to $129 from the weekend with bundles down to $159. Which is good, but what about the PSPGo? That's the machine I'd like to pick up - news on that being cheaper would be good, but at the moment its still $199.

Alas, in Europe, Sony has nothing to announce on any front, although it probably has plans, a £99 PSP would sell a fair few. Plus, there has to be some innovative marketing left in the cunning plan cupboard? Interestingly Sony has said, "PSP has been performing particularly well in Europe so far this year" which must come as a bit of a pleasant surprise.

So, we enter the final phase of the PSP's active life, with just a few hit games to come in the roster before it mooches off into budget, cash-in and franchise release-only territory. Surely when it hits that sad point, Sony can let go control and make it homebrew friendly?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Pre-NGP Game - Spot the Devs and Figure Out the Games

So, all the middleware/developement tool people have duly trotted out their press releases saying they support NGP. They also say that "many developers are already working on games"

For example, Epic's Mark Rein drooled; "NGP raises the bar for the performance of handheld platforms with its multi-core GPU and shader-based, multi-core CPU. This makes Unreal Engine 3 a particularly advantageous fit for NGP. Furthermore, multiple UE3 licensees are already working with NGP, some of which have indicated they intend to release their games for the platform’s launch."

So, our mission now is (and feel free to play along at home)

1. Find the list of signed up developers for each game creation product. (List here)
2. Scan the developer's site for:
  • Existing titles that they are still working on,
  • Job hires for NGP,
  • Unannounced projects,
  • Teasers and other info.
3. Report back
4. Make big-ass list

Okay, you can go to EA or Ubi's site and pick a big list of games, but really we're after the new IP titles, or new games that use NGP's tech in fun ways. The info is out there, we just have to find it. If you're really obsessive then LinkedIn, games developer forums and other dev-centric places are good spots to lurk.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NGP Pricing from $250 Potential Leak

This was translated directly from a French site, so don't shoot me if its rubbish:

Rates!

So according to the internal source, the price will be very aggressive: the NPM WiFi model would be marketed at a price ranging between 250 and 280 dollars, that's between 220 and 250 € including VAT.

The NGP 3G , meanwhile, would be provided at a rate between 320 and 350 dollars , or between 280 and 305 € including VAT. For this price, moreover, some applications will be preloaded: augmented reality applications mainly.

It should be noted that, overall, prices are advertised in the same range as those seen on Gamestop. Is this a good sign?


See the original here: http://www.pspgen.com/info-intox-ngp-prix-abordable-raisonnable-actualite-196079.html


UPDATE - Having tracked it back to source, this looks less and less realistic, in fact - thinking back to some of our own posts - it is unlikely that Sony would know the final price yet, as components are still to be finalised. As you were!

Xperia Play, Gameloft's Titles Unveiled, 10 Now, 10 Later

Gameloft is getting right behind the Xperia Play, throwing two games into the bundle that comes with the phone - Star Battalion and Asphalt 6 - plus another eight available to buy at launch, with a lot of them from the "mix and match" naming convention that is Gameloft's trades.

They include Assassin’s Creed, Brothers in Arms 2, Let’s Golf 2, Spiderman: Total Mayhem, Modern Combat: Black Pegasus, Real Football 2011, and Splinter Cell: Conviction plus Uno for the kids!

The company has also promised another ten titles in the first six months, which isn't a bad haul - but will there be new, original and device-specific content among them?

Could iPad 2 Be A Gamer's Dream

With the iPad 2 unveiling confirmed for next week, and such features as a massive resolution display unlikely additions due to costs, could Apple take a gaming-focused direction with the device to waggle a finger at Sony's forthcoming NGP and Xperia Play?

If Apple can squeeze in a dual-core processor then it could certainly be a power match for the Xperia Play, in fact the current year-old iPad can run it pretty close. If it manages to ship with the rumored dual-core SGX543 GPU, then it could give the NGP a fair fight. Of course both those devices have dedicated control inputs, something iPad will never have.

We'll see next Wednesday, but with extra cooling, and increasing gaming activity on the iPhone and iPad, Apple would be mad to ignore the booming community, and the chance to put a cat among its rival's pigeons.

An Italian Xperia Play Video

This is from a fairly dull tech briefing rather than a glossy press event, and the camera work is terrible, but the slides are in English and give a hint of what Sony Ericsson is planning with Xperia Play and gives you some interesting numbers about the local market.



For an Italian video, you'd be hoping for more dusky maidens, perhaps some good food, but all we get is a cameraman with some strange lazy hand illness and a speech that would probably only sound more boring if translated.

EU PSP Store Update 23/2

While the Americans have been lapping up Xenogears, I've been prowling the floor waiting for it to show up on this side of the Atlantic. Did it, did it? Ummm - no, bum!

Yes, I could sign up for a US account (thanks Kristoph), but that's a pain until Sony allow multiple accounts registered on a PSP. Anyway, here's what we get to play with today...

A fairly bare week with Tactics Ogre, the standout, if expensive, highlight. Still, its £25 on Amazon, and you only have to wait for the 1Gb download! Will check to see if its cheaper anywhere else.

A shame that the PS3 gets a Clone Wars demo but PSP doesn't, remember the little fella guys.


New

Ys I & II Chronicles £15.99, 915 MB
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together £27.99, 1122 MB
Peter Jackson’s King Kong £7.99, 488 MB

PSone

Twisted Metal £3.99, 68 MB

Essentials

Cars £7.99, 259 MB

minis

Nothing new, sale still on though for those 99p bargains.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NGPentlemen, Start Your Engines

A rash of announcements from third-party types has seen most of the tools used to develop the best games unveiled as working tools for NGP developers to use.

The latest announcement is CryENGINE from Crytek, that powered the gorgeous Crysis games. What its not saying is which version of the engine, apart from the fact that it will be a custom edition. Here's hoping its CryENGINE 3 which is powering the awesome Crysis 2 and Warface games.

Late last week, Morpheme 3 from NaturalMotion, an animation engine used to produce more realistic character movement and other effects. Add that into the previously announced monster Unreal Engine, the Havok physics engine plus a host of audio and interface solutions and it is clear that any developer can just get on with the job of producing a fun game without having to worry about building a host of tools to get the job done.


You can find a complete list of middleware tools, here.

Sony's Hack-Proof PS3 to Provide Basis for NGP Security? Will there be a death-switch?

After the trauma of seeing its once-secure console repeatedly violated, Sony is supposed to be planning a new version that will defeat the hackers. After the far-worse trauma that befell the PSP (with something like less than two out of 10 games played being purchased), its fair to assume that Sony will bolt whatever technology the company comes up with for this new PS3 into the NGP.

But you have to bet on the crackers getting through eventually and I wonder when companies will start throwing in a death-switch that starts killing consoles once the terms-of-service have been violated, say, three times by playing pirated games, by refusing to update the software or some other condition.

Sure, NGP has another four years of anti-piracy research to fall back-on, but if Sony is going far enough to claim that the new version will be hack-proof (which is a fairly massive claim in a world of hackers armed with patience and cyber tools that can bring multinationals to their knees), then it would make sense for the PS3 code to follow into its new little brother.

Hopefully Sony's latest pain will see a more secure NGP and one that developers will see is a fortress for which they can continue to have a long and happy relationship with. But the death-switch would be the ultimate sanction and one that has to come eventually if there really is no such thing as hack-proof.


Persona 2 Getting More Extras

Andriasang has news, http://www.andriasang.com/e/blog/2011/02/22/persona_2_trailer/, of DLC available for the upcoming remake, sounds like the developers are putting in a lot of effort, above and beyond, to polish this classic gem.

With the third title having met with popular and critical acclaim, what chance of the first one getting a makeover? Although The NES original might be a touch long in the tooth.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, February 20, 2011

PSP: Tactics Ogre: Doing the Business

Just a quick word in praise of Tactics Ogre which is the first PSP game since God of War: Ghost of Sparta to threaten the top of the critic's ratings, despite the silly subtitle with every tweet about it glowing with praise.

Currently doing the business with a Metacritic score of 88%, its out in the UK next week so I'll be grabbing hold of it soon, although I do slightly prefer the US cover (below). Also, is there anything extra in that Premium Edition? No one seems to know.



Quite why European and UK mags are giving it a hard time with low-80s scores is beyond me, you can't say "One of the most competent, solid, well-put-together J-RPGs you will ever play" and then give it 81%. In the meantime, I ought to go and play some Final Fantasy Tactics, just to get back into the swing of things.




One buying issue I'm facing now is, do I still want to get games on UMD, knowing that I'll be picking up an NGP on day one (might even do that midnight queuing silliness)? The site (which hasn't been updated since last October - nothing like a bit of a marketing push to help a game sell, Square!) doesn't say if its coming to the PSN store. [UPDATE - It is coming to PSN, found out via the US blog]

For a game that's already out, there's a big lack of clarity, something the publisher really needs to sort out. Still, I'll get this one way or the other and hopefully this'll help keep the PSP rolling for a few months yet.

If you have any further information, please comment!

Friday, February 18, 2011

White Xperia Play - Very Pretty*


I'm not sure why, but I got a white iPhone rather than a black one and would rather have a White Xperia Play, which is exclusive to o2 in the UK. I think the white casing makes it look a bit smaller than it really is.


Just need to wait until some sort of firm pricing deal is up... my iPhone contact expires in December, so not too long to wait. As I've already seen lots of posts stating that formerly touchscreen games are a lot better with proper controls, bring it on!


*Until about after a week of use!


Mixed Reaction From First Xperia Play Hands Ons

A few sites/mags have had access to the Xperia Play now, mostly at a London event.

Their reactions are a little on the mixed, side with some "getting it" more than others. For the Slashgear reviewer to complain about "only" 50 games at launch is laughable and ignores all the regular Android games it can play.

Stuff Mag - "And it’s a notch above the PSP controls – or a Sixaxis PS3 controller – thanks to the touchpad controls found in the middle of the device. We found it easier to control our speeding ball of horsepower with the “hard” keys, but that’s probably a combination of early software and user inexperience."

"Even so, next to prodding and swiping a touchscreen, the Xperia Play is a relative joy. The payoff is a comparatively bulky form that, combined with the Xperia Play’s plasticky build, will make it less alluring to style hounds."

Slashgear - "For one, I’m disappointed to see that the XPERIA Play will come with only about 50 games at launch. That figure will of course be higher over time, but considering there are thousands of games available on the iPhone, and hundreds of outstanding options on the Nintendo DS, I just don’t see a reason to turn to the XPERIA Play as my gaming choice."

Edge - "It's comfortable in the hands, but aside from the screen, the Xperia Play doesn't look or feel expensive in the same way as many newer smartphones, or Sony's own Playstation and Bravia hardware ranges. The combination of shiny black plastic for the exterior and matte silver plastic for the slide-out game pad do not do that beautiful screen justice."

NGP is Sony's Big Bet For the Near Future

As Sony has pointed out several times, there will be no PlayStation 4 for many years to come, therefore its immediate fortunes rest on the PS3 and the NGP to provide revenue. With PS3 due a price drop around Christmas, it can expect a mostly weak 2011 as the gaming winds drift in the favor of Xbox and casual gamers.

When the PS3 price drop does hit, Sony may be losing even more money on the hardware (but less than it used to, due to improved techniques and cheaper parts) while gaining in software sales, assuming it manages to get a handle on the firmware breach and piracy issues that threaten to do a great deal of damage.

So, the NGP will be Sony's big hope for revenue at the end of the year. Since consoles (except Nintendo's) are generally sold at a loss, Sony will be looking to good attach rates, to help generate profit.

If Sony does decide that NGP is to be sold at a fractional profit, and the interest is really there, then hefty sales should see it make a good return, but if it plans a five-to-six year lifespan for the device, instant returns aren't high on the agenda.

What Sony can't afford is for NGP to dwindle (both in hardware and software sales terms) in any market, as has happened with the PSP. So, expect heavy advertising and pushes into all territories, even the traditional lesser markets like Australia and Brazil that are now highly important, and if China lets the console in - wow!

I say Australia is increasingly important, purely due to orbital mechanics. If you follow any tech market, you wake up to news that happened in Australia overnight. If a launch went well, if an exciting product hit, if there's a bug - the Aussies get it first and via Twitter and rolling web news, we find out about it before our toast is warm.

If NGP starts getting a bad reputation there, it will infect opinion in Europe, then America, something that Sony can't allow to happen to such an important launch. All in all, Sony has to have a global focus and look for a string of rolling success:

  • Good numbers for the hardware launch
  • No running out of stock
  • Good launch games
  • Launch surprises
  • Good Month 2,3,4 launches

that builds momentum everywhere. If it can do all that, then Sony is welcome to do magic tricks at my kid's birthday!




PSP Mini Developer List

As its a slow news day, here's a list of mini developers/publishers to keep an eye on. With the number of full PSP releases starting to dwindle in the run up to NGP, it looks like PSP gamers will have to rely on these guys for their gaming fun, so support you local (or wherever) mini developer! Add a comment if I've missed an active dev.

Developer Title(s)

BeatShapers Carnivores
BigBen Brick Breaker
Chillingo Dracula
Frima Space Shooter for Two Bucks
Funtank Vector TF
FuturLab Coconut Dodge
G5 Mystery of the Crystal Portal, Supermarket Mania
Gameloft Let's Golf
Halfbrick Age of Zombies, Blast Off
Infinite Dreams Sky Force
Hands-On Bloons
Invictus 4X4 Jam
Mediatonic Monsters Stole My Princess
Playerthree Apache Overkill
PopPom Alien Zombie Death
Supermono MiniSquadron
Sanukgames Twin Blades, Hysteria Project
Slitherine Egypt: Empire
Xendex Red Bull X-Fighters
Zalag Shift Extended

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Xperia Play Could Be Yours For $400 (leak)

The price of Sony Ericsson's Experia Play (PlayStation Phone) has been (theoretically) leaked in a competition run by the company. In the small print, it says the phone is worth $400 (499 euros or around £270) which sounds about right for a SIM-free, high-spec Android phone.

Sure, if you get one on a contract you won't have that initial outlay, but over time you end up paying that amount (and more) anyway. The competition is on the company's Facebook pages if you fancy entering.

Dumbass articles of our time?

Can someone please read this at Product Reviews and come up with reasonable argument as to why the author is right. My response in the comments (and below) I think sums up what's wrong with his arguments, but jeez what a random pile of crap posing as an article (And, yes, sometimes I do go off on one and spout drivel too, but I try to keep it vaguely sane)

Sorry? "miles behind.... in offering a better gaming experience" What? Please go and try playing Sonic 4 or Resident Evil on the iPhone, then try them on the 3DS/NGS when they come out.

The difference is beyond night and day, in fact its a good few revolutions beyond... Also, developers will be challenged by 3DS and NGP to do new things(http://bit.ly/hnzshO) whereas all the iPhone has is a semi-novel control method that hampers most game types, so that developers have to reduce and remove features for games to fit in.

Games work better on games consoles, novelties work well on iPhone - even stuff that should work like point and click adventures have become unnatural and stilted (see Broken Sword).

I won't argue there isn't a lot of money to be made from developers producing GOOD iPhone games, but gamers have a far different set of expectations than general phone users do and are rarely impressed by anything that the App Store can offer.


Sony PlayStation Tablet, A Really Dumb Idea

News of the rumored PSP Tablet (aka S1) was, I imagine, met with broad laughter in the halls of Apple, Samsung and everywhere else. While Sony has aced it with the NGP (a super console in your hand) and the Xperia Play (a gaming phone), there is zero pressing need for a gaming tablet.

Tablets were invented for consuming media; as movies and books don't translate well on the phone-sized screen. They were also invented for showing executive presentations in a stylish way. Beyond that everything else is just a rehash of existing uses, most of them done with the tablet on a stand, on the lap or propped up on something.

Try playing a game holding a bag of sugar upright and your wrists will collapse within days, or you'll end up like Popeye. Also, if you do want to play games on an existing tablet there is a lot more screen space for the soft-controls and buttons to be placed, so the gaming action isn't obscured by sweaty thumbs.

So, Sony are two for three this year, and this tablet is the unfortunate turkey in the pot. The PlayStation brand is at risk if Sony starts throwing it at all kinds of mad ideas and here's the perfect weapon for anyone with an axe to grind.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Are PS2 Games Coming to PSP?

That's an odd thought in itself, but there are some rumors doing the rounds that this could be happening. To be honest, I think this is something for either NGP, or Xperia Play (using PlayStation Suite).

If Sony had given the PSP enough power to run PS2 games, it would have been selling them on the store years ago, to help prop up dwindling PSP sales in the west, and to generate heaps of revenue from the massive PS2 back catalog.

Even if Sony had some sort of cloud-based OnLive solution, the PSP takes 1/3 of its power to run the network connection, so I doubt there would be enough to manage the game side. Looking at the hardware, there just isn't the power for the little PSP to do the job.

Finally, I read translations of interviews with the Japanese Sony guys and most statements can be easily misconstrued, so this is one rumor going straight in the bin.

EU PSP Store Update With Video

So, here's what's new in the store this week. I notice that Sony has started adding file sizes to games, which is helpful. Content wise, the minis sound interesting, I've played Zenonia on the iPhone and its okay, everyone should have played Final Fantasy by now while TNT Racers looks like the most fun.

New Games
Final Fantasy £7.99
Castle Rustle £8.79 (video here, pic below, demo also available)
TNT Racers £7.99

Castle Rustle looks bright and cheery!



Neo Geo
Fatal Fury £5.49

Essentials
FIFA Street 2 £7.99

PSone
Atari Anniversary Edition £5.49

minis
Karimogi £2.49


Swap Zap £3.49


Zenonia £3.99



Demo
Castle Rustle

Add-on
Lord of Arcana DLC

God of War up for BAFTA Award

The awesome God of War: Ghost of Sparta and (in a multiformat way) LEGO Harry Potter are the PSP's representatives in the BAFTA's best handheld game category. Get your votes in here.


  • Cut the Rope Chillingo/Zeptolab
  • God of War: Ghost of Sparta Sony Computer Entertainment/Ready at Dawn
  • LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment/TT Games
  • Professor Layton and the Lost Future Nintendo/Level 5 Games
  • Sonic Colours SEGA/Sonic Team
  • Super Scribblenauts Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment/5th Cell
Note that Ready at Dawn made a couple of positive comments about the NGP last week, describing it as "the thing" or something like that, so perhaps there's hope for some action from them on the dev front.

PSP US PSN Store Update

Missed this yesterday, for Tuesday 15 Feb:

Games (also available from PS3 Storefront)
  • TNT Racers ($7.99)
  • TACTICS OGRE: Let Us Cling Together ($39.99)
PSone Classics
  • SAIYUKI Journey West ($5.99)
  • DESTREGA($5.99)
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire ($5.99)
Demo
  • Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive Demo
Add-ons
  • Lord Of Arcana – Pack 1 (Free)
minis
  • Soccer Bashi – Minis ($3.99)
  • Core Blaster – Minis ($3.99)
Game Videos
  • Tester Season 2 – Reunion Show
PSP Themes & Wallpapers
  • Azmodeus Dark Angels PSP Theme (x3) ($1.99)
  • Legends Of War: Patton's Campaign Wallpaper 7 (free)

So, What Features Did Sony Leave Out Of NGP?

Lots of stories yesterday about Yoshida-san's comments in Edge magazine about leaving stuff out of the NGP, but no one seems to have asked exactly what features they were.

My guesses would be:

1. 3D
2. Full-4G phone
3. SSD drive
4. Carbon fibre or Titanium skin (which would be a bit Apple)
5. Surround sound speakers

Can't think of much else you can throw into a portable, any more suggestions?

Star Battalion Video Shows Off Xperia Play

If you ignore the whiny marketing speil, this video of Gameloft's Star Battalion shows a little of what the Xperia Play is capable of. Guess there will be more of these videos out over the next week or so, will add them here as they arrive.

Star Battalion looks neat with plenty of space and planet-based action, not sure the pace is up to much - but with the proper controls it looks genuinely playable - try that on an iPhone! A shame you can't hear what the audio is like over the whiny guy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ridge Racer 4 coming to PSN Classics

PSOne great Ridge Racer Type 4 (the one that shipped with the jog dial controller - if memory serves) is coming back to life via PSN next month. Not much more needs to be said, but please enjoy this corking intro video... and smell those exhaust fumes. If only they could drag the original back into life, it might look rather rigid, but is still a classic.



Pix'n Love Rush Coming to PSN minis

I have the classic-looking Pix'n Love from French developers Pasta Games for my iPhone, but while its very pretty and stylised - its often annoying because one mis-move of your thumb on the direction soft-buttons and doom beckons. Okay, its not that serious because most levels are against the clock, but it is a pain.

Those dinky soft buttons at the bottom, grr!

Hopefully that'll be resolved by its appearance as a PSP mini with new content, levels and games. It is due out in the middle of March and should be a more rounded experience with proper controls. The below video shows off the new modes (Note to certain other developers, that's how to promote your upcoming mini):


10 Bygone Games That Should Come Back on NGP/3DS

All the big-name games were lined up for the unveiling of Sony's NGP and Nintendo's 3DS, all the monster franchises that you'd expect. But with the prevailing trend for older games making a comeback (think 3rd Birthday giving Parasite Eve a new lease of life, Persona taking the Shin Megami games to western audiences and many others) and the fact the Xperia Play should offer up a bunch more PSone games, I think this is a list worth making.

So, in no particular order, here are 10 games from history that I think deserve another shot at the big time. Some are rather obvious but hopefully I've dug a couple up that'll have you scurrying for Wikipedia. If you have your own favorites, feel free to add them in the comments.

UPDATE: Rediscovered this article in a search (July 2014), so to bring things up to speed, There was a Kickstarter for James Pond, but that got cancelled. We got Tempest 2XK from the Jaguar, which is far better than my Cybermorph idea and Starlight Inception is standing in for X-Wing. I suppose Earth Defense Force is the modern day version of Ant Attack, but for the rest, come on developers, make it happen!

1. Vagrant Story (PSone)
I'm playing this on my PSP at the moment and I love the sense of adventure, the immediacy of getting into the action and the depth for what is one of the later PSone games. Just imagine all that wrapped in a more flexible engine with some extra menace.


2. System Shock (PC)
Yes, modern gamers can play Bioshock or Dead Space to get their kicks but nothing quite left an impact on me like System Shock 2 with its gorgeous character advancement system, heart-stopping twists and subtle tone of horror.


3. Zool 2/James Pond 2 (Amiga)
Either of these would do, just to stop horrible hedgehog games being churned out all the time. Both were 16-bit classics of their time and with some imagination, love and attention could easily make the grade today.


4. Hunt for Red October (Atari ST)
This is here as an example of the perfect level of 'casual' simulation that most of us would want from a console game, without going to the depths of the Silent Hunter series. I loved the table-top feel to it and the tension as your torpedoes hunted their prey. Anything like this with just enough skill and variety (say a whole fleet game).


5. Cybermorph (Jaguar)
Okay, this wasn't a great game - but it was fun and played at a pace that didn't freak out the new-to-consoles gamer who'd inadvertently picked up a Jaguar. Take the basic theme and add some tunnels and underground 'worlds', and a wider variety of objectives, some mining and trading and you'd have a highly playable mix that brings to mind an Elite-on-a-planet game.












6. Toobin' (Arcade)
For a game to take maximum advantage of all those gyroscopes in the PSP2, you need a theme where there is a genuine sense of 'difference' to the controls and I can't think of a better game than this. Every tilt would see your dude paddling for his life, trying to steer his tube down the river.

















7. Hardwar (PC)
If my redone version of Cybermorph is a ground-based mining game, then this can be the aerial version. A straight remake would be awesome as the player builds their little empire around Saturn's moons - just ramp up the visuals (Designer's Republic helped out on the original) and don't bog it down in too much plot, perhaps add an multiplayer option - job done!











8. Klax (Lynx)
I'm not sure why this game died out while Tetris continues strong to this day. Klax had a little bit of attitude and if a new developer threw in a few new rule deviations and some varying art styles it would be just as relevant as Lumines is.


















9. X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter (PC)
I still can't believe there is no credible sequel to these fantastic PC games, its a crime and somewhere someone will pay. Just throw the original code, missions and scripts into a new rendering engine and LucasArts would make the world a rather better place.













10. Ant Attack (Spectrum)
One of the first Spectrum games I ever played and still brilliant, all you have to do is run away from the ants, escaping the isometric city. A new version could have soldier, worker and queen ants in the mix and some different objectives, but there will never be nothing as B-movie chic as legging it from giant ants.















Update: For fans of this sort of article, there's a very good list of important PC games on Rock, Paper, Shotgun - well worth a browse. 

So, what would you add to the list, please add a comment! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Xperia Play Videos

Some smart videos have popped up showing more of the Xperia Play in action and hyping this PlayStation Certified business. They show The Sims, shooters, dungeons, a really poor looking football game and a few other snippets:





UPDATE: Other videos no longer exist, so have been removed. 

Xperia Play Stats

If you really want to know what the Xperia Play can do, here's the full list of stats from Sony Ericsson:

Xperia™ PLAY at a glance: Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY

Camera

  • 5.1 megapixel camera
  • Auto focus
  • Flash / Photo light
  • Geo tagging
  • Image stabiliser
  • Send to web
  • Touch focus
  • Video light
  • Video recording
  • Video blogging

Music

  • Album art
  • Bluetooth™ stereo (A2DP)
  • Google™ Music Player
  • Music tones (MP3/AAC)
  • PlayNow™ service*
  • Sony Ericsson Music player
  • Stereo speakers
  • TrackID™ music recognition application

Internet

  • Android Market™*
  • Bookmarks
  • Google™ search*
  • Google™ Voice Search*
  • Pan & zoom
  • Web browser (Webkit)

Communication

  • Call list
  • Conference calls
  • Facebook™ application (from Android Market™)
  • Google™ Talk*
  • Noise Shield
  • Polyphonic ringtones
  • Speakerphone
  • Sony Ericsson Timescape™***
  • Twitter™ application (from Android Market™)
  • Vibrating alert

Messaging

  • Android Cloud to Device messaging (C2DM)
  • Conversations
  • Email
  • Google Mail™*
  • Instant messaging
  • Picture messaging (MMS)
  • Predictive text input
  • Sound recorder
  • Text messaging (SMS)

Design

  • Auto rotate
  • Keyboard (onscreen, 12 key)
  • Keyboard (onscreen, QWERTY)
  • Picture wallpaper
  • Touchscreen
  • Wallpaper animation

Entertainment

  • 3D games
  • Dedicated gaming keys
  • Flash Lite™
  • Gesture gaming
  • Motion gaming
  • Video streaming
  • YouTube™

Organiser

  • Alarm clock
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Document editors
  • Document readers
  • E-Manual
  • Flight mode
  • Google Calendar™
  • Google Gallery 3D™
  • Infinite button
  • Phone book
  • Set-up Wizard
  • Widget manager

Connectivity

  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • aGPS
  • Bluetooth™ technology
  • DLNA Certified
  • Google Latitude™
  • Google Location Service
  • Google Maps™ with Street View
  • Media Transfer Protocol support
  • Micro USB Connector
  • Modem
  • Synchronisation via Facebook™**
  • Synchronisation via Google Sync™
  • Synchronisation via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync®
  • Synchronisation via Sony Ericsson Sync
  • USB 2.0 high speed support
  • Wi-Fi™
  • Wi-Fi™ Hotspot functionality
  • The service is not available in all markets.
  • ** Requires Facebook™ application installed on the device.

Google™ services*

* These services may not be available in every market

  • Android Market™ Client
  • Gmail™
  • Google Calendar™
  • Google Gallery 3D™
  • Google Latitude™
  • Google Maps™ with Street View
  • Google Media Uploader
  • Google Music Player™
  • Google Phone-top Search
  • Google Search widget
  • Google Sync™
  • Google Talk™
  • Google Voice Search
  • Set-up Wizard
  • YouTube™

Screen

  • 16,777,216 colour TFT
  • Capacitive multi-touch
  • 4 inches
  • 480 x 854 pixels (FWVGA)

Accessories

  • In-Box:
  • Xperia™ PLAY
  • Battery
  • Stereo portable handsfree
  • 8GB microSD™ memory card
  • Charger
  • Micro USB cable for charging, synchronisation and file transfer
  • User documentation

Facts

  • Size: 119 x 62 x 16 mm
  • Weight: 175 grams
  • Phone memory: 400 MB
  • Memory card support: microSD™, up to 32 GB
  • Memory card included: 8GB microSD™
  • Operating system: Google™ Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • Processor: 1 GHz Scorpion ARMv7

Talk time and networks

  • Networks
  • Talk time GSM/GPRS: Up to 8 hrs 25 min*
  • Standby time GSM/GPRS: Up to 425 hrs*
  • Talk time UMTS: Up to 6 hrs 25 min*
  • Standby time UMTS: Up to 413 hrs*
  • Talk time CDMA2000®: Up to 7 hrs 40 min*
  • Standby time CDMA2000®: Up to 405 hrs*
  • Game play time: Up to 5 hrs 35 min*
  • MP3 playback: Up to 30 hrs 35 min*
  • Networks
  • UMTS HSPA 800, 850, 1900, 2100
  • GSM GPRS/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900
  • UMTS HSPA 900, 2100
  • GSM GPRS/EDGE 850, 900, 1800, 1900
  • CDMA2000®, cdmaOne, EVDO

Colour

  • Black
  • White

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Xperia Play is Go, Go, Go


Right, Sony Ericsson has unveiled, officially - so we can ignore all that leaked business, the Xperia Play. Its a PlayStation-Certified device - which is meaningless marketing drivel for "it plays PlayStation games" - which handily ignores all those other devices with dodgy emulators that plays PS games too.

The headline stats from the launch are a 5.5hour battery life which is better than an NGP and probably better or comparable to an iPhone if you use it for intensive gaming. Then there's the 8GB memory (upgadeable to 32GB) that comes with it, good to see SE not skimping, and at last, a decent set of controllers for a phone.

UPDATED:

Take a look at some photos from Sony Ericsson's stand at the MWC show floor and here's video of the announcement from Sonys event which also unveiled some other Xperia products:



What all that chitter chatter means is this, and future, certified devices get a neat little PlayStation logo and lozenge with the four PlayStation shapes embedded within. Compatible devices will get access to a new version of the PlayStation Network store and can also download games from Android stores. If you missed out on all this, see the Superbowl advert.


The exclusive icon will provide access to a custom version of the PlayStation Store with lots of lovely PSone and new game content. No word yet on wether an Android device can cope with PS2 titles and it will take a few years for them to be comparable to Sony's bigger, badder, NGP.



Don't get too excited yet though, as the store won't open until "later this year." To tide gamers over, the console/phone will come with one hit PSone title and six other games preinstalled (Crash Bandicoot, Asphalt 6, Bruce Lee, Star Battalion, The Sims 3 and Fifa 10). There will also be some 50 new games at launch with developers mentioned including EA, Glu, Digital Chocolate and Gameloft.

Dungeon Defenders and Dead Space were two titles mentioned, with multiplayer a big feature plus the usual array of media and phone functions. The Xperia Play will start shipping in March with the US first up through Verizon. Find out more at the SonyE site and expect some further announcements over the week.

Technically there's the much touted 1GHz Scorpion processor, 400Mb of Internal RAM, 8Gb of microSD storage, full spec rundown here with the option to upgrade to up to 32Gb more via bigger microSD cards and a lovely looking 4" screen running at 854 x 480, a little less than the NGP. Photographed properly the device looks slick and well designed.

As games and further partners are announced, this article will be updated. As for price, no one is talking just yet - but as a likely choice of upgrade phone, here's hoping it's not mental. What would you pay for a flashy Android phone, just to play some extra games?



Xperia Play showfloor at WMC

Sony is showing off its sumptuous booth at MWC with a nice view of the Xperia Play zone. Looks like some exclusive new games on show for the gaming android.

More on this later, with the official launch at 6:00pm GMT:

http://blogs.sonyericsson.com/products/2011/02/13/behind-the-scenes-at-mobile-world-congress/


Sent from my iPhone

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dates for your Diary - NGP/Xperia Play

A quick reminder that the PSP Phone (Xperia Play) will be launched this Sunday in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress (6PM UK) and then on the 28th Games Developer Conference kicks off in San Francisco, with Sony likely to reveal more technical details and demos of NGP to the gathering of dev talent.

PSP2Roundup will cover the WMC event live and then lurk around with regular updates of any snippets of news that emerge from GDC.

PSP Still Rules the Japanese Charts

The Media Create charts are out in Japan showing last week's hardware and software sales. PSP still tops the hardware charts with over 30,000 sales and PSP titles take up 10 of the 20 spots in the charts:

1. Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (DS) – 132,266 (New)
2. Macross Triangle Frontier (PSP) – 55,513 (New)
3. White Knight Chronicles Portable (PSP,) – 40,603 (New)
4. Dragon Ball Kai (DS) – 31,108 (New)
5. Kenka Bancho 5 (PSP)- 28,000
6. Monster Hunter Freedom 3 (PSP) – 27,861
7. The Last Story (Wii) – 19,178
8. Valkyria Chronicles 3 (PSP) – 17,927
9. Donkey Kong Returns (Wii) – 16,493
10. Is My Little Sister Seriously This Cute? Come On, Get Outtahere! (PSP) – 11,721
11. Pokemon Black & White (DS) – 10,795
12. Dragon Age Origins (PS3)- 10,517
13. Wii Party (Wii) – 9,678
14. Winning Eleven 2011 (PSP) – 9,301
15. A Certain Magical Index ( PSP) – 8,863
16. Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix (PSP) – 8,430
17. Winning Eleven 2011 (PS3) – 8,229
18. Ni no Kuni (DS) – 7,595
19. Inazuma Eleven 3 The Ogre (DS) – 7,165
20. Atelier Violet (PSP) – 5,564 (New)

Kaz Hirai Discusses PlayStation Suite

PSS is the app for playing PSone games on Android phones and other devices. Sony Entertainment's President Kaz Hirai, the guy who waved the new NGP at the world from the stage a couple of weeks back, has been discussing it in an interview with TechOn.

Interestingly, he says the app may end up on Google TVs, iPhones and other devices, although the initial focus is all on Android. He also said that Sony hopes developers will create new games for the platform with revenue share helping to pay for the expense of the service.


NGP Early Demand Strong, If the Price is Right

Paraphrasing this MCV story, UK game stores are seeing strong demand for the NGP with lots of interest in its advanced features and wide potential. One store is going as far as hoping for a £199 price point, while others want to see it match the 3DS at £239ish, but most reckon as long as it hits at under £300 it will still do a roaring trade.

Whatever happens with the price, Sony has to get the unit shipments right otherwise this goodwill go straight out the window if it can't get enough stock. It also needs to advertise the handheld as if it were the PS4 (or the second coming, whichever is bigger) to reach the widest possible audience.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

UPDATED: PSP Release List, 2011

Just a quickie, I've found a few games that were missing and added them to the PSP release list, a couple are looking less certain - trying to track down more information. I've also added links where possible to the game's official site.

Again, if you know of a title in development that is missing, please let us know. It looks like the smaller publishers are the ones left holding the candle for the PSP now and it'll be tough to track them all down.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

PSP PAL Store Update Feb 9 - Naruto Demo

Still revving up for the PSP Phone launch? Guess the PSN store guys are too, as there's not much going on this week. Remember the minis sale is now on with a bunch of games at only 99p. Back to the new stuff:

New(ish)
Dual-pack - Prince of Persia Revelations and Driver '76 £15.99

PSone
Bugriders £3.19

minis
Mad Blocker Alpha £3.49



Widget's Odyssey 1+2 £1.74


Demo
Naruto Shippuden: Kizuna Drive


PSP2 Provisionally Priced and Dated

A screenshot is flashing around the web of the Gamestop ordering system showing the PSP2 at $299 and releasing on Jan 1, 2012. Both of those figures are just placeholder information to give people who ask in store a rough idea, they are not based on fact or official information.

The price might be about right, but Sony will look to trim every cent to make it as attractive as possible, so why not $289? As for date, are Sony really expecting to miss the Christmas season by a week - it'll either be earlier (beginning of December) or later (End of February) but not right after Christmas.

Whatever does happen, the initial orders will all sell out, so reserve yours as soon as the pre-order message pops up from your preferred store.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

PSP Phone (Xperia Play) Who's Selling What, Where

With the official unveiling just a few days away, Sony Ericsson and Partners are letting slip who will sell the games-focused phone in what territories.


I'll update this list as the info feeds through:


US:
Verizon (rumored)

UK:
Orange
Three

Canada:
Rogers (exclusive)




Kingdom Hearts: Top US PSP Seller in 2010

There's good news and bad news in the list of best-selling PSP games in 2010, the good news is that PSP exclusive titles sold well, proving that the console has owners who appreciate what their handheld has to offer.

The bad is that only one game sold over 300,000 copies (in the stores at least, these NPD figures are so ass-backwards that they can't count digital sales). So the top 10 UMD sales for 2010 (in America) are:

Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Madden NFL 11
Toy Story 3
MLB10 The Show
NBA 2K11
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
ModNation Racers
SOCOM 3
Smackdown vs. Raw 2011

I'll try and update this with some global numbers, just to see how the US market is as part of the total for PSP sales, at a guess I'd say less than 7-8%