E3 2011 is only a few short days away and yet, despite the epic five hour press conference Sony has planned, the game company is already flooding the Internet with information regarding its Next Generation Portable, rumored to be called the PS Vita.
In our Sony E3 2011 Conference Preview, we mentioned that Sony had already confirmed they’d be showing seven NGP titles at their keynote – and, after today, we’ll have seen five of them in action.
Jeff Rubenstein and his PlayStation Blog team have been busy cranking out NGP gameplay content over the last twenty-four hours.
But before we detail the games themselves, let’s look at a very intriguing new feature that Scott Rohde, Vice President of product development at SCEA, detailed at the recent press meet-up.
“All PSP titles that are currently available on the PSN can be played on the NGP – and they’ll take full advantage of the graphics smoothing capabilities of the system. And the controls will be remapped to take advantage of the dual analog sticks.”
No doubt one of the largest complaints leveled against the PSP was the single analog stick hardware – especially when so many of the system’s titles were practically begging for dual stick integration. The inclusion of remapped controls and graphics smoothing on the NGP creates a real incentive for consumers to revisit some of the better experiences in the PSP library. However, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not the features really work intuitively when we get to dig into the past titles – since retrofitting the titles with the new controls may not necessarily produce a better experience (at least not in all cases). Similarly, in general, emulation software is notorious for being fickle (at best) – with some titles looking incredible, while others look even worse than the original format.
That said, we’ll have to wait until Sony’s E3 keynote to uncover other high-profile NGP details (i.e. price, release date, network infrastructure, etc) – as well as, hopefully, chances to test out more PSP experiences on the NGP.
As Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, put it:
“We’ll talk more about social connectivity features down the line — today is about showing off the core games and getting you hands-on time. I’m sure you have burning questions on launch date, pricing, 3G data plans, and we’ll be very happy to share all those with you moving forward.”
No doubt the most anticipated NGP title is the upcoming Nathan Drake prequel, Uncharted: Golden Abyss – which is set to utilize a host of new features, including the handheld’s gyroscope and rear touch pad, not to mention the same wise-cracking action-adventure that players expect from the series.
Check out the Uncharted: Golden Abyss featurette below where John Garvin and Chris Reese of Sony Bend Studio discuss their upcoming handheld title:
Take a look at the NGP WipEout featurette below – where Game director Stu Tilley lays-out what fans can expect in the Next Generation WipEout:
The NGP WipEout will include “10 new tracks, 20 new ships, new game modes and weapons” – as well as, once rumored, cross-platform gaming that will allow NGP players to engage in multiplayer battles against PS3 WipEout HD Fury owners (and vica versa).
Next up, and the only announced NGP title that isn’t part of an existing franchise, is the 2D platformer (and musical instrument) Sound Shapes – which started out as a passion project from Jonathan Mak (Everyday Shooter) and partner Shaw-Han Liem.
According to Mak:
“Sound Shapes is both a musical instrument and a classic 2D platformer. You can use it to make music, but then you can ‘play’ that music like it’s a video game.”
We’ve included the Sound Shapes featurette below – since Mak implored readers, “It’s kind of hard to describe in words so check out the video!”
Sound Shapes certainly looks intriguing and hopefully stands as an example of the kinds of innovation that the NGP can offer for independent developers looking to make successful (possibly downloadable) titles – similar to the kind of creativity we’ve seen on Apple’s App Store.
Sony also debuted first-looks at franchise-favorites, Super Stardust Delta as well as Hustle Kings on NGP – though no video was captured. In both titles, the developers were primarily touting improvements to the core gameplay – as a result of the NGP’s various hardware features: touch screen controls and rear trackpad help with precision shots in Hustle Kings and dual analog sticks as well as the six axis gyro (and gorgeous 5” OLED screen) allow for the celebrated Super Stardust gameplay – on the go.
Check out images from Super Stardust Delta as well as Hustle Kings in the gallery below – along with shots of some of the other titles we covered:
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @benkendrick – as I’ll be reporting on-site at E3 with hands-on impressions of all the announced (and unannounced) NGP as well as Sony console titles.
Stay tuned to Game Rant for our on-site coverage of E3 2011 starting early next week.