Editorial Miscellany: Vitafied

Scale it back, Vita.
Bubbles! Look! They are cute, right? Please?

As predicted, I received a PlayStation Vita for my birthday last week, LusiHandhelds, and so I have plenty to reflect on this week. I did not play it as much as I would have normally because my birthday also coincided with my last day at my old job and so I have been busy making sure that my time is going to be spent effectively. That means resisting just how often I would have actually liked to spend time with the system. Nevertheless, I still managed to download a bunch of games, start to personalize the interface, and – of course – test out the games themselves.

Starting Point

I have to say that Cross-Buy really is an amazing system. It was the reason I was pushing so hard for a Vita as a gift this year. It was exciting to know that I already had a library of games waiting for me and now that I have the system, it is just as exciting to know that so many games will be available on multiple systems. I was also gifted a fifty dollar PlayStation Store card, but most of that went to re-buying the Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster games because Square Enix is greedy. If I owned a Vita at the time of release, I never would have bought the console version and I’m perturbed that a collection like that is not Cross-Buy. But, of course, I cannot really talk because I did buy both at the end of the day. The other two games I added to my collection were Tearaway and Hohokum which was a Cross-Buy, thankfully. I love how fast the Vita’s interface is. The difference between it and the PSP is comparable to the power difference felt between the PS4 and PS3. Suspending a game to check trophies, change settings, or even just customize the interface is a breeze. The OS music and aesthetic is trying a little to hard in my books. It really wants gamers to believe that it is the holy trinity of Sony, Nintendo, and Apple all in one, but it loses itself a little along the way. It feels like it is tired from being put through the marketing wringer a few too many times. But it is a small complaint compared to the speed and ease of use of the console. It is everything I hoped it would be so far, and games feel great on it. In some ways, I feel like it will be my new PlayStation 3. I use my PS4 as often as I can now because of its improved speed and power, but many of the games I miss from the PS3 are available on my brand new Vita. It’s a wonderful combination. But I suppose I should talk about the games themselves.

But the game is still cute.
The loading times still suck.

The Cross-Buys

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster, FEZ, PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate, Eufloria HD, Proteus, Hohokum, Rogue Legacy, and to some extent Flower all look and play marvelously on the handheld. Any issues that the games had on the console versions are still present, but nothing negative is added by the experience. In fact, I believe some of these games have a better home on the Vita. Sly Cooper for example is a fun title, but nothing exceptional. It is not really a game that I am going to use the TV for, especially now that I share one with another human. That being said, I would still like to beat the game at some point, and wouldn’t mind experiencing it in small chunks. The Vita is perfect for that.

The Free Games

I “bought” some of the PS+ Vita games via my PlayStation consoles when they became available and combined with the current titles on the service it has provided me with Uncharted: Golden Abyss which seems aggressively mediocre, Mutant Blobs Attack which is quite fun but nothing special, and Metrico and Dragon’s Crown which are downloading now. There is not much more to say about that, to be honest. I would rather talk about Hohokum.

At least as far as I can tell.
I am a little more than halfway through the game.

Hohokum Is Amazing

Hohokum is amazing. Well, I should say that Hohokum has an amazing design philosophy and is quite successful in its implementation from what I have seen so far. The premise is that a dimension-travelling character who looks like an eye with a long tail explores various worlds and tries to determine the logic of each one. Where the game is most successful is with its imagination. The opportunity that travelling between worlds provides is not lost on the developer and the worlds are varied and beautiful and mysterious. A common logic connects the entire universe, which is also a good move, but there is plenty of exploration within that logic and therefore slipping in and out of dimensions can be thrilling, and the same feeling comes from discovering the world’s secrets. It was a wonderful decision to have every trophy be a secret because Hohokum reminds us that experimentation and exploration is what learning is all about and that learning is a rewarding experience. I am not sure that Hohokum will crack Top Ten lists for me, but it is a wonderful starting point for a design mentality.

Final Thoughts

That is it! I love my Vita so far, but I am just getting started. Games like Rogue Legacy and Hohokum have such streamlined cross-save features that I am already spoiled by it. I love swapping from the PS4 to the Vita in case Caileigh would like to use the TV. Hell, with the Gamepad, it’s possible to play three console games at the same time in the same room. Technology! Anyway, what do you guys hate about Mel? Also what games should I buy?

5 comments

  1. I have to say that Cross-Buy really is an amazing system.

    Yes it is.

    Steam did this well by allowing people to buy a current copy of the game on one PC platform, and then get it on every other PC platform when/if it is released. This meant that the day I moved from my old PC desktop to a new Mac, I had almost all of my favourite games there, waiting for me.

    Sony has learned from the huge success of Steam and has done a good job of getting started. I am *told* (though I cannot confirm it, of course) that Sony pushes devs to use the Cross-Buy system, but that each dev makes the final call themselves. So, when UbiSoft’s Child of Light was not crossbuy, it was Ubisoft’s greed, and not Sony’s oversight, which lay behind it.

    Nintendo remains fucking clueless. They probably don’t know what ‘Cross-Buy’ and ‘Cross-Play’ are or mean, and I expect they think ‘Steam’ is ‘something that comes out of Reggie’s ears if we ask him about Mother 3’.

  2. Rumour though it may be, it fits the bill with Ubisoft and Square Enix being two notable companies not to use the system.

    I’m not entirely certain about Nintendo being clueless here. There have been rumblings that I feel aren’t out of the question. That being said, I am highly skeptical that such a system would have the intuitive easy-of-use that Sony has managed, and would be more likely to fit the bill of a cross-save rather than a cross-buy.

  3. In a hilarious confirmation of my semi-joke comment, we have had it confirmed via an interview with their former indie manager that many very high-up people at Nintendo really *don’t* know what Steam is. For real.

    For real.

  4. We’re slowly learning that all of the jokes we made about how Nintendo operates are not, in fact, jokes, but are instead accurate representations of reality.

    Just waiting for confirmation on the Oracular Banana now.

Comments are closed.