Browsing through my PlayStation Plus backlog on the Vita some time ago I cam across a game that promised several hours of platforming fun and good humor. I had only played one LEGO game before and that was LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean on the PS3 and I had no problems with the game, although it definitely was an easier, simpler title than what I usually play. Based on my experience with Jack Sparrow and the company, as well as having heard that every LEGO game is very similar to the next one, I though I would give LEGO Lord of the Rings a try on the handheld console.
I launched the game, created a new save file and… I didn’t play through the first ‘tutorial’ battle. I can’t really put my finger on it but something was wrong. I didn’t like the combat, everything seemed poorer and of lower quality than what I remembered from the Pirated LEGO game. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since the LOTR game is a port of the 3DS title and was not developed with the Vita in mind. Still, I wasn’t enjoying it and I decided to play something else instead. Some weeks later, however, I talked about the game with other players on The Vita Lounge forum and I got encouraged to give the game another chance, especially since it offered an easy and relatively quick platinum trophy. This sounded more like something that would convince me so I clenched my teeth, played through the first battle again and I mostly enjoyed the rest of the game.
Hotline Miami seemed like a perfect fit for the PlayStation Vita, with retro-looking graphics, the ability to pick it up and play for shorts periods of time and the gameplay which felt very arcady. Also, it looked like a good trophy boosting candidate with a challenging, yet not discouraging, platinum trophy at the end. I’ve been meaning to check the game out for quite some time, having heard many people praising it very much, but my less than perfect experience with other well-reviewed ‘indie’ games, including Spelunky and Stealth Inc., made me reconsider everytime I went to the PSN Store. Ultimately, I gave in to temptation when Hotline Miami got an insane discount and I picked it up for around $3. Obviously, the NA region got it for free on PlayStation Plus the following month, which may mean it is coming to EU as well sometime soon. Still, as the rest of this post will show, I do not regret spending the money and I would have probably spent the full price earlier had I known what the game had to offer.
After I completed Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy a couple of weeks ago, I was really looking forward to tackling the two remaining titles in the main Jak and Daxter trilogy. I loved the platforming emphasis of the first game and, even though the camera work was lacking sometimes, I had a very fun and challenging experience. That’s why I thought that what was about to come next was even better. Naughty Dog had two more years to fix some of the controls and game modes and deliver a difficult, amazing platforming experience.
However, they decided to go in a different direction. An open world, guns, more vehicles, more varied gameplay, less platforming. I decided not to look anything up about the game before playing it, in order not to ruin the surprise (10 years after the fact but what the heck…) and indeed, I was very surprised. The game I was playing was, more or less, Jak and Daxter: Grand Theft Auto, with less emphasis on stealing cars. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for and certain parts of the game can go back to the depths of hell they came from, but I had fun with it anyway and ended up unlocking the Platinum trophy in less than two weeks.
I am a relative newcomer to PlayStation gaming. I got my PS3, my first Sony platform, just three years ago and I wasn’t really familiar with all the studios and IPs that PlayStation had to offer. Sure, I played Crash Bandicoot many years earlier but I didn’t recognize Naughty Dog until a friend recommended a little series called Uncharted to me. Still, having played and platinumed all three of Drake’s adventures, and having enjoyed The Last of Us more than other games last year, the names Jak and Daxter didn’t really ring a bell.
Luckily for me, the HD remake of the Jak and Daxter trilogy was made available to PlayStation Plus subscribers last September in Europe. I was out on holiday and with no Internet access to grind the Killzone: Mercenary Platinum, so I decided to give the platformer a go, not expecting anything and feeling that it would take me just a couple of minutes to go back to Spelunky or Stealth Inc. Well, 3 days, 4 hours and 45 minutes later, the Platinum was mine and now I’m really looking forward to beating the remaining two games in the series.
OK, so maybe I was almost a year late to the Sound Shapes party but it wasn’t over by the time I got there. Not only that, there’s new content coming out for it even now, especially with the PS4 launch just behind us. The game is as simple as they get – you roll around as a small ball that can stick to some surfaces and is harmed by red elements in the environment and the goal is to reach the end of the stage. A very basic platformer game, it would seem. What lifts Sound Shapes beyond such a simple premise is its music design. With tracks composed by artists such as Deadmau5 or Beck, the songs become richer and richer with every note our little protagonist collects on its jumpy merry way. All this adds a rhythm element to the game and makes it that much more fun to play. There are several quite distinct worlds (records) to visit, each one with a unique visual and audio style, and all of them are worth exploring.
The features of Sound Shapes don’t end here, however. Beating the game unlocks the Death Mode, which introduces much harder levels that can sometimes be challenging even for platforming savants. We are also offered a channel editor with sounds and shapes (ha!) unlocked throughout the campaign. Similarly to LittleBigPlanet, the amount of user-generated content is staggering. And last but not least, the Beat School mode asks the player to recreate a sample loop prepared by the game designers. I spent most of my time solving those little puzzles. Not only do I like a musical challenge, all those silver trophies are worth going through the levels and the game awards a single trophy per challenge.
In summary, Sound Shapes is another game that offers almost unlimited content with several interesting modes and tons of trophies for the hunters out there. Even though it is also available on PS3 and PS4, I liked it best as a portable experience, playing a level or two whenever I had some time.
I was rummaging through some of my old papers while cleaning up before Christmas when an Amazon receipt found its way into my hands. The receipt was from November 23rd and the only item on it was a PlayStation Vita console I had ordered taking advantage of one of the blitz deals Amazon Germany had to offer several days earlier. I had been wondering if the Vita was worth getting but being able to buy one for 25% less was a deal I couldn’t have refused. It’s now been over a year since I got it and I have to say it had been a very good choice. I already put up a post explaining why I think the Vita is worth having but for those who still say that there are no games to play on Sony’s handheld, let’s have a look back at the last 13 months and see what titles I got to enjoy on PlayStation Vita. I’ve been jumping from game to game, especially for the first couple of months when I wanted to try everything out, but I decided to pick one title for each month I had my Vita starting from November 2012.
Even though the Vita I got from Amazon came bundled with Little Big Planet, it wasn’t the first ‘big’ game that I decided to focus on on the handheld. I decided to quickly grab the free PlayStation Plus titles, which were Gravity Rush and Uncharted. I knew what to expect from the latter and that’s probably why I went with Kat first, choosing her over Drake. I had heard about Gravity Rush in PlayStation podcasts and it got good reviews so why not give it a try?
The gravity shifting mechanic and the tilt controls took some time getting used to but after a while it was smooth sailing. It feels much longer now but I got the Platinum trophy in just 10 days. The game wasn’t especially difficult but some of the challenges, especially the ones involving throwing objects, weren’t something I completed on my first try. Also, I had to look online for help to find all the rare Nevi that had to be defeated for three of the trophies.
I liked the comic book style of the cut scenes in the game and the graphics and audio quality were amazing. I did not expect that a handheld machine was able to produce such images and sounds. There were some frame drops when Kat used her ultimate attacks and there were many enemies on the screen but that was expected and didn’t take away from the experience much.
As a first experience with a complete system that is only slightly bigger than a DualShock 3 controller, playing Gravity Rush was really something else. Having completed Kat’s adventure, I had no doubt that buying a Vita was a good choice and it would bring me many hours of fun and entertainment for months, and hopefully years, to come.
The poll is now closed. Thanks to all of you for voting! After a very close race, Resogun (6 votes) won over The Last of Us (5 votes), which really coincides with what I wanted to do. What I didn’t anticipate is getting another Platinum trophy in between, which I managed to unlock in MotorStorm RC.
Since Resogun is a PS4 title, I would like to invite all of you to watch me stream the game and encourage me to get better and also give me some helpful tips. Just go over to my Twitch page. The show starts at 7pm CET / 1pm EST.
With all those PS+ and other games floating around and limited time, I decided to ask you to help me decide which game I should focus on next. I propose a rather wide selection of different genres and older and new games to choose from but if you have some other ideas, please let me know. However, I won’t be buying any new games so if you want to add another option, make it a PS+ game.
I’m away again next week and will only have my Vita with me so when I get back I will tackle the game that wins the voting.
We’re literally hours away from the official launch of PlayStation 4 in North America. Some of the luckier players have already been able to put their hands on their own console and those excellent DualShock 4 controllers. Although it is possible that many of the day-1 crowd, the ‘hardcore gamers’, also own the PlayStation Vita and are familiar with all the great stuff it brings, some of the more casual players may not even know that a de-facto companion console to the PS4 exists.
In this post I would like to give five reasons why I think buying a PS Vita is worth it. There’s obviously more but we have to start somewhere, don’t we? How do you feel about the console. Do you have one? Will you get one with the new PS4? Let me know in the comments below the post!
1. PlayStation 4 connectivity / Remote Play
OK, so the delivery guy has just left the new console at your doorstep and you can’t wait to put that Killzone: Shadow Fall Blu-Ray in the system and boot it up. Not so fast. The wife wants to watch the new episode of whatever it is that wives are watching now. Do you see the problem here? PlayStation Vita comes to the rescue with the Remote Play functionality. Sony tried this idea previously with the PSP and PS3 and also the Vita and the PS3, with very poor results. Only few titles supported this feature and the quality of gameplay was less than acceptable in most cases. All this changes now. In just a few simple steps, explained in one of Sony’s pre-launch videos, you are able to continue playing on the handheld device, sitting next to the lady who is happy that you’re spending quality time together. The minute the show ends you can go back to playing the game on the big screen and feast your eyes on the next gen (should we start calling it current gen already?) graphics. The Vita can also be used as an additional controller, even providing some extra gameplay options, Wii-U style. Although currently the connectivity range is realistically limited to your local area network, with the increase in the quality of general Internet availability, it might be possible, in the future, to take your PS4 games on the road, and that’s something else.