The PlayStation Vita, Sony’s next-gen PSP handheld, is coming, with all its high-tech new bells and whistles. Would you like to know when?
Nintendo has announced that the price of the 3DS portable game console is being dropped from $249.99 to $169.99 on August 12th. If you do the math, that’s a 32% price cut for a console that’s less than 5 months old. Nintendo couldn’t have picked a louder way of announcing to the world that sales of the 3DS suck.
Sony’s forthcoming successor to the PSP is expected to be one of the big headline-grabbers next week at E3, but in advance of that mega-event, they’ve taken the wraps off of three titles gamers can expect to play on the NGP (which is heavily rumored to be called the PSVita).
First and foremost on the list is Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which is being developed by Bend Studios with collaboration from Uncharted creators Naughty Dog Games. The main thing Sony wants everyone to know is that Golden Abyss is an entirely new Nathan Drake adventure — it’s not a port of an existing Uncharted game. Oh, and also that they’re incorporating the NGP’s touchscreen controls right into the gameplay, so that you can interact directly with the environment instead of just mashing buttons. Looks pretty compelling, see for yourself:
A whole new Wipeout experience is on the way, and the bullet point news item is the fact that this will be the first multiplayer title ever to interface between two game devices. Wipeout will let you play head-to-head against other NGP players, and PS3 players. Both. At the same time. Yowza. Once again, as you can see from this video, the touchscreen and six-axis controls factor heavily into the gameplay.
Soundshapes is something unique. It’s a different kind of platformer where music and platforming become one and the same. Everything in the levels is synchronized to a sort of electronica/trance music, and manipulating things in the environment will add new notes, beats, and ever increasing complexity to the music. The video makes it look like you can’t really do anything wrong, with the key to the game being experimentation. You can even create your own levels and recordings.
Hustle Kings brings the popular PS3 billiards game to the new portable platform, taking advantage of (you guessed it) the touchscreen controls. Like Wipeout, this one will be cross-play enabled with the PS3, and even allow you to play it in turn-based mutliplayer rounds as each player comes online, a la Words With Friends. You can even use the six-axis to rotate the camera around your ball, and make use of the built-in still camera and microphone for chatting with friends.
The NGP version of Super Stardust Delta is not a port of Super Stardust Delta HD for PS3. Being the first portable gaming console with two sticks makes NGP ideal for a dual-stick space shooter like SSD. It will be playable with both familiar dual-stick controls, and an entirely new control scheme that’s made just for the NGP.
It would seem that the recurring theme we’re seeing here is that most (if not all) NGP games are employing intuitive use of touchscreen and motion-sensitive controls to let gamers interact with popular Sony franchises in a whole new way. Sony promises to provide plenty more details on all things NGP — and PS3 — at E3 next week.
Lest you have any lingering doubt that Apple’s iOS is a gaming platform to be reckoned with, today’s events hammered the idea home.
The iPad 2, just unveiled today by His Steveness, features a graphics processing that’s nine times the speed of the original iPad. That’s some monstrous horsepower, particularly for a device that was already more powerful than all other handheld gaming devices. And don’t forget, the iPad has a bigger screen than any other handheld console, so the fact that it’s now going to be able to power high-def games at 9x the original’s speed, on all that screen real estate, is incredibly impressive.
The iPad 2 also has video cameras facing front and back, FaceTime video chat, and a significantly thinner, lighter frame. Just like the iPhone 4, the new iPad has a gyroscope, and there’s a new version of iOS coming with it — version 4.3. It comes in two colors — black and white.
Curiously, despite all that extra processing power, Apple didn’t up the iPad’s storage capacity at all. The iPad 2 comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, just like its predecessor. You’d think gamers in particular would crave more space to store downloaded games.
Not a single game was mentioned in the Apple keynote this morning, but did you happen to notice where the Apple keynote took place? It was held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and would you look at that? The Yerba Buena Center is right across the street from the Moscone Convention Center, where the annual Game Developer’s Conference is taking place all this week.
And what was Nintendo’s big keynote news? That a new Super Mario Galaxy game is coming to the 3DS (good stuff), and that streaming Netflix movies will be available on the 3DS (meh). The company also took some potshots at game “apps” and their “quantity over quality” approach to sales.
Nintendo’s new handheld launches on March 27th.
Apple’s iPad 2, meanwhile, beats them to the punch by hitting stores two weeks earlier, on March 11th.
Apple has declared war on the handheld gaming marketplace. Don’t let anybody tell you differently.
Following months of speculation and insider leaks, Sony at last unveiled its follow-up to the PlayStation Portable. It’s codenamed “NGP” (next-generation portable), which I can only assume means that Sony isn’t planning on calling it the “PSP2.”
The new device is a powerhouse of hardware, with tons of cutting-edge features packed into its sleek, stylish frame. At a special event last night, Sony worked hard to make the NGP out to be a high-tech cross between the power of a PS3 and the social capabilities and capacitive touchscreen of a smartphone or iPad.
That’s right: the NGP comes with a touchscreen — and not only that, but the rear of the device is equipped with a touchpad of the same size, allowing for new ways of playing. The front screen is 5″ wide, offering 960×544 resolution, and it’s not LED — it’s OLED, the next-gen screen tech that’s brighter, clearer, and draws less electricity to run. It has the usual arrow and PS action buttons, along with two analog sticks (compared to one on the PSP), making it more like a PS3 controller. It also uses the same Sixaxis accelerometer and gyroscopic sensor that’s inside the PlayStation Move controllers. Other specs include some striking similarities to the iPhone: 3G and Wifi connectivity, a three-axis electronic compass, built-in GPS, Bluetooth, and both front and rear cameras. No idea if Sony is planning a “FaceTime”-like video chat feature for those dual cameras, but they did mention that ARGs (augmented reality games) would definitely play a big part of the new device.
NGP will support downloadable games as well as a new physical media that’s basically a specialized flash memory card. The best part about this is that flash cards are upgrade-proof, meaning that future games will be able to use flash cards that hold more data but maintain the same physical size. Sony says that DLC and saved games will be stored directly on these flash cards as well.
Social networking is a major component of the NGP, with full PlayStation Network access and a whole new application called “LiveArea” that makes it easy to keep up with your friends’ activities. LiveArea will work with every game, automatically displaying the latest stats and activities of your friends on whatever games they’re playing. Another feature called “Near” will keep track of where you take your NGP, and show an interactive map that displays the locations of your friends when they’re nearby.
Franchises with titles announced for the NGP at Sony’s special event include:
- Call of Duty
- Little Deviants
- Hot Shots Golf
- Reality Fighters
- Gravity Daze
- Smart As
- Hustle Kings
Sony also announced a new initiative called “PlayStationSuite,” which will bring last-gen PS features and games to specially-licensed and authorized smartphones (such as the leaked prototype that’s been making the rounds). The NGP handheld will be compatible with all PlayStationSuite content, and will be backwards-compatible with PSP downloadable content as well.
No pricing has been announced yet — although with all that advanced tech crammed into such a small package, there’s no way it’ll be cheap — but Sony expects to deliver it to the marketplace by the end of this year.
Nintendo was very eager at a special media event today to convince consumers that the 3DS handheld gaming system is more than a one trick pony. “3D gaming without the glasses” is certainly the headline talking point, but there’s a lot more under the hood of this thing than just the fancy screen.
First up, the big news: The Nintendo 3DS drops on March 27th in North America, for a lower-than-expected price of $249.99. It arrives a couple days early in Europe, on the 25th, for £229 in the U.K. and €249 everywhere else. More than 30 titles are expected between the launch date and E3 in June, and the hardware comes in two pretentiously-named colors: “Aqua Blue” and “Cosmo Black.”
Inside, the 3DS has a motion sensor and an accelerometer, which is said to allow for Wii and iPad-style gameplay. There’s also a healthy array of built-in software, including a Mii Maker that works with the front-facing camera, an activity tracker, a built-in pedometer, “AR Games” for augmented reality fun, “Face Raiders” which lets you shoot things with your Mii face (meheh?), a Web browser, video player, and audio software. The already-announced 3D outward-facing camera was heavily hyped as a potential draw to the system for non-gamers.
The pedometer is a nice touch, you have to admit, as well as the motion sensor and accelerometer. I also like that the 3DS’ Home button is no longer for quitting your game. Nintendo has taken a page from the iPhone and other smartphones, turning the Home button into a pause button, even allow you to multitask while your game remains paused.
Another welcome change: each 3DS uses just one friend code, which only has to be registered once. No more of the blasted things for every single game! Nintendo also says that GameBoy and GameBoy Color “greatest hits” titles will be available as downloadables sometime after launch, along with 3DSWare download-specific games. You can also expect plenty of 3D game demos and videos.
The announced launch titles include:
- PilotWings Resort: fly a plane over a very familiar island — the one from Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort
- Nintendogs + Cats: uses the front-facing camera for facial recognition, so your pet will know you when you call. If a stranger tries to play with your pet, he or she may bark at them in fear!
- Steel Diver
- The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
- Kid Icarus: Uprising
- Dead or Alive: Dimensions
- Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
- Madden NFL Football
- Street Fighter IV 3D
- Asphalt 3D
- Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D
- Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
- Ridge Racer 3D
- LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
More titles in the works — any of which could wind up as launch window titles — can be glimpsed in this first “3DS Games Trailer” that was shown at today’s media event.
What do you think? Does the $249 price point make you more likely to plunk down for a 3DS of your own?
Could Sony be plotting a competitor to Nintendo’s 3DS that’s packing horsepower equivalent to its powerhouse home console? That’s the rumor du jour circulating the gaming world today. According to British print mag MCV, which covers the goings-on inside the game industry, Sony has been telling game developers that the PSP2 will be in stores by Christmas 2011, and that it’s planning on competing against the 3DS by offering a high-end device that’s leaps and bounds beyond what any other handheld is capable of.
The appearance of the PSP2 has yet to be shown to developers, but it’s expected to be very similar to the original PSP in design, with similar dual stick controls and button layouts, only with an HD screen and a honkin’ lot more horses under the hood. MCV claims that Sony has actually been using the phrase “as powerful as the PlayStation 3” to describe the new device. This is expected to be a wholly different device than the “PlayStation Phone” that’s been circling the Net with leaked photos for weeks, and my gut says that it’s likely as much of an answer to Apple‘s iOS devices as Nintendo’s latest offering.
Sony is plotting some big reveals about the PSP2 at the Game Developers Conference and E3, including the media format that Sony will be using for game sales. Downloads are expected to play a big part in the new device, but Sony wants to keep retailers happy by continuing to offer some kind of media (although it certainly won’t be the failed UMD format).
Will high-def portable gaming be enough to attract on-the-go gamers away from Nintendo’s splashy new 3D device? And do you think it’s really possible to cram all of the power of the PS3 into a handheld console? I wouldn’t even want to speculate on how much that kind of portability might cost…
Anybody remember the 3DO? It was a game console that boasted more advanced features than any of its competitors — for 1993, anyway. It made a big splash when it first launched, even being named “Product of the Year” by Time Magazine, but lasted only three years.
Panasonic, the company that manufactured the 3DO, is now officially tossing its hat back into the console gaming ring, but this time they’re attempting to launch a handheld device with a very specific purpose: playing MMOs on-the-go. It’s called the Jungle, and it’s a clamshell-designed piece of hardware made to let you leave the mancave and go out in the sunlight — but without the pain of being separated from your online game world. But before you get all tingly at the thought of taking WoW along in your morning carpool… Right now, it looks like all the Jungle will be playing is browser-based MMOs.
It sounds like Panasonic is looking for well beyond the standard fare of Farmville and the like, though, with a mascot and marketing campaign designed to appeal to the hardcore gamer. The only game title announced so far is Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica Online, a browser-based spacecraft shooter. Panasonic is also touting a web show that presents news from online games, called Online Underground. The Jungle’s website claims that Panasonic is working with leading online game developers to create some exciting new content.” Which is a good thing, since all gaming devices live or die based on the catalog of games it offers.
The Jungle has a QWERTY keyboard, standard D-pad and buttons, and sports a super high-res screen that reportedly looks pretty spectacular. Ports include mini HDMI, micro USB, and standard headphone jack. A release date hasn’t been announced yet, but if I were a betting man, my money would be on 2011.