Despite constantly getting burned by poorly launched hardware – hello, 3DS! – I made the decision to pre-order a PS Vita (Wifi) about a month ago. I’ve spent a good chunk of my free time since it was released on Wednesday playing it. Some assorted thoughts are below.
When it comes to my attention span, these consoles lost out in 2009.
The PSP software market, already a bit dry, turned desert-like this year. It was hard to find titles that weren’t reviewed poorly (Gran Turismo Portable) or overpriced to hell (LittleBigPlanet PSP, GTA:Chinatown Wars).
The Wii and DS repeated their performance from last year, with the Wii managing 2 retail purchases but no downloaded titles, and the DS managing one retail purchase.
The 360, which last year managed a whopping 1 retail game purchase, managed to sink to an abysmal 0 retail games and about 4 XBLA purchases. (The 360 continues to get a bit of a free pass since every game on the Multiplatform list is available for it.)
With this poor performance in mind, let’s find some silver lining in an otherwise dreary year.
With my 360 still on life support, and the Wii not meeting my needs, the PS3 remains the *de facto* platform I did much of my “real” gaming in 2008. The PS2 provided my usual fixes (long RPGs and IIDX titles), while the PSP gradually shrank into nothingness.
I still maintain that PSN is the best download service across all the consoles – not just for a lot of compelling, full-blown titles, but because of a good UI, fair DRM principles, and the lack of space bucks-style currency.
## High Points & Surprises
While I can understand the frustration from those wanting a tight platformer, LittleBigPlanet is the best full-blown platforming experience I’ve had since Super Mario World. The community features are just icing on an already delicious cake.
I have bought nearly 100 songs for SingStar. It is one of my fall-back games, something I can always play to unwind.
My favorite studio this generation is PixelJunk. Every PS3 should come with PixelJunk Monsters and PixelJunk Eden. (And if you’ve played those two but not played Racers, you really should.)
Metal Gear Solid 4‘s campaign was exactly what I wanted it to be. As someone who played through the previous three games multiple times, it had the same level of absurdity and over-the-top story telling I have come to expect from Kojima Productions. It was worth waiting in line for 9 hours for.
Echochrome has the best soundtrack of any downloadable title I played this year. It provides the right contrast to the brain-rupturing puzzles.
I could sit and start at the WipEout HD UI all day. It reminds me of the best of the IIDX themes, only…you know, actually HD.
We imported Sony’s Afrika once the Chinese/English version came out. I can understand why Sony is hesitant to bring it out in the US – but this game pierces me at the core. It is the ultimate photo-geek game. I can only hope I have enough money for a zoom lens soon, because I’m tired of scaring the animals away. (I also hope they patch in an Export To XMB function, so I can upload my photos to Flickr.)
Almost all of my RPG cravings this year were filled by a game that started with the word “Persona“. All of my button pushing/disc spinning cravings were filled by two more IIDX titles. The PS2 is still good for something, I suppose!
Patapon was the sole shining point on my PSP this year.
After 10 years of playing Gran Turismo on a Dual Shock, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue convinced me I needed to buy a wheel. It’s a different – and much better – experience. Now I just need the final version.
Buzz! Quiz TV finally became a reality, and all other quiz games pale in comparison. Having had a handful of parties where I pulled out the controllers, I can only describe this game as a crowd pleaser.
## Low Points & Disappointments
Hey, Konami – way to bog down the Metal Gear Online with a needless registration process and a completely separate store!
After being a huge proponent of the first game, I had high hopes for Resistance 2 – but ended up feeling let down. It’s not bad, it’s just not gripping. It’s very middle-of-the-road and currently lost in my pile.
Had it been released last generation, SOCOM: Confrontation would have been fine. But with the current expectations of the basics for online play, it is broken garbage. Until it gets patched to a working experience – any day now, supposedly – it is the quintessential “shitty peripheral pack-in” title, and indefensible as a standalone release.
Who greenlighted Jeopardy!? Even at the new reduced $9.99 price point, it’s still $20 too expensive given the horrible presentation.
Final Fantasy: Crisis Core was mindless enough to keep me entertained but a little *too* converted for a portable gaming experience. Is it too much to ask for a proper Final Fantasy game? I’d take a remake of FF8 over Crisis Core.
## Open Questions
Does Sony know how to advertise? Buzz! Quiz TV, Singstar, LittleBigPlanet – do non-core gamers know these titles are out and absurdly fun?
Will anyone still be using Home in a year?