Bringing established franchises to a smaller screen

I’ve dusted off the Vita recently and played Hotline Miami which is awesome. Then I’ve played Killzone Mercenary, which looks stunning on the Vita. It plays good too. The Vita is a great piece of hardware, no doubt.

Killzone Mercenary also highlights a dilemma that Sony has not really cracked and this was an issue on the PSP as well.

I remember when the PSP first came out and how amazing it seemed. I was being told that I can now play Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution Soccer on the PSP and it would be the same game and experience as on the PS2. Now that sounded awesome, I could play the same game on the plane. How can that not be great? I played PES so hardcore, I thought it would be awesome to keep playing the game on the plane.

Sadly, reality is different. It’s not quite the same game, not quite the same controls, not quite the same experience as sitting on the couch in front of the big ass tv. The reality hits that you will never play the exact same game on a smaller screen, of course you are not. You will be playing an approximation of the “main game” . So why would I play PES or Killzone on a smaller screen when it’s like 80% of the experience? That’s the problem. It doesnt feel quite as good. If it doesnt, you wont play it for very long.

But you have to bring your big franchises to your other systems. That’s what one does. Even in this day and age when Sony’s own franchises and I think franchises in general dont drive us gamers to systems like they did on the 16-bit and PlayStation days.

This is Sony’s dilemma really.

It has published great original content on both the PSP (Locoroco, Patapon, for example) and the Vita, but those dont seem to drive sales of the hardware, so you have to bring your known franchises to the portable platform and hope they generate sales. They dont seem to. Sure, you can argue that Gran Turismo PSP aint as good as the PS2 game and Killzone Mercenary is not as good as Killzone 3 on the PS3.

I think Killzone Mercenary is a good game. It’s got great controls and the gameplay is bite sized enough that you can make progress in the levels in short bursts. Of course, you can always pause the Vita, so in some ways, it doesnt matter if the level is 15 minutes to 55 minutes. But shorter is far, far better these days.

What I really dislike is how many reviews compare Killzone Mercenary to the PS3 games and say it’s not as good. What the fuck is that? Sure, it’s aping a “real” console game, but I dont think you should review it by comparison. Comparing Killzone Mercenary to the PS3 game and saying it’s not quite as good must be really infuriating for the development team. I can totally understand that.

On the other hand, Sony’s selling the game by saying it’s a console-like experience and of course, the only comparison with Wipeout and Killzone on the Vita we have are the PS3 games. I think Killzone Mercenary does a good job of taking the universe and the style and build something out of it that’s relatively well suited to the Vita.

This is a difficult thing to crack. You need your big franchises on various platforms and they have certain standards to uphold. Though, I have to say what Guerrilla (and Housemarque…) did with Killone Liberations on the PSP was awesome. They used a top down view, since the PSP didnt have enough 3D power, but you cannot really take that approach on the Vita.

I think the indie game approach Sony is now taking up for the Vita is a good one. I dont think a single Vita indie game will sell the machine by itself, but I do think it will really help and as the price of the hardware is coming down…who knows.

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  1. Agreed. Even though these devices can be used outside of house, I argue, that most owners still only use them as handheld consoles at home.

    These “inferior” devices at this hour are also more expensive than “real” consoles like PS3. So they, in real life, dont even work as an entry level gaming consoles for kids.

    Here lies the probelm: in the living room space where both of these types of machines are being used, the handheld will always be inferior when compared to similar games.

    What Nintendo and its devs are offering are truly unique experiences, which would get tons of flak if ever published for a hardcore and high power console.

    The premise of PS Vita and DS is so different – and the fact that DS is not marketed as an option to experience the same games, rather than as a truly unique platform with original content – that it seems Vita is actually too powerful to succeed.

    With lesser specs Vita would not be expected to awe you with spectacular 3D graphics and the latest shaders, and devs would have less pressure to deliver console quality graphics and could focus on originality and innovation. It would be cheaper too.

    • Tero-Antero
    • September 8th, 2013

    You have some good points. It is truly weird Vita is getting so much hate and 3DS is outselling it so greatly. Every Vita game is reviewed in PS3 standards while 3DS as handheld games. In my eyes Vita is way more superior console. Of course Nintendo brand will always sell huge amounts, but Vita being so far behind is just…not fair. Yes, maybe the blame is the marketing ways, they should’ve stick into people’s head it’s just a handheld console.

    When I bought Vita I wasn’t sure if I will play it much, but now I just love it. Especially the games with cross-play feature are great. Really hoping Vita can pick up it’s game after PS4 is released and cross-play is given even more weight.

    • Seppo S.
    • November 18th, 2013

    Great text as always. Would be great to see some thoughts about ps4 and next gen titles…

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