Handheld Gaming 2013: Playstation Vita vs Nintendo 3DS

I wrote some stuff about Vita vs 3DS in a Reddit post, I thought I’d expand on it here.

I have access to both a first-generation 3DS with ambassador status (this is actually my brother’s but he doesn’t use it much) and a PS Vita which is only a couple of months old. I use the Vita a lot more because reasons:

  1. The screen is very very nice, especially compared to the 3DS screens. My eyes hurt a bit after a while of using the 3DS (even with 3D off). The Vita games also look a lot better compared to 3DS ones. The visuals are more crisp and colorful, especially for games like Persona 4 Golden or Disgaea 3.
  2. I’m a Playstation Plus subscriber (and I have a PS3), which means my available Vita library gets bigger every month without me spending additional money. And with the PS4 support coming, it’s even better.
  3. No online account for the 3DS means I’m not going to make digital purchases off the eShop, which limits my available library. I’m not interested in making eShop purchases that are tied to the machine; I’m worried about losing or breaking the system and losing access to all my purchases. This is a severe limitation of the 3DS in this age of digital downloads.
  4. I just find that I like more games on the Vita. I like Mario and Zelda on the 3DS (I’ve finished NSMB, Mario 3D Land and Ocarina of Time; the new Legend of Zelda will probably be the next game I play on 3DS), but aside from that most of the library is meh for me. I played Tales of the Abyss and Paper Mario Sticker Star on the 3ds but both got boring for me after a while (I’m probably at around 80% of ToA and gave up on Sticker Star at the first boss). I might try out Fire Emblem, and if there’s a new Advance Wars I’d jump on that. Etrian Odyssey looks interesting but there are dungeon crawlers on the Vita too. On the Vita so far I’ve been playing P4G, Disgaea 3 and Gravity Rush, with some Street Fighter x Tekken thrown in every so often. As soon as I get a bigger memory card, I’m going to get into Blazblue Continuum Shift;  then there’s Uncharted and Final Fantasy Tactics and I heard Zero Escape was good, and I want to try Guacamelee, and one of these days I’m going to give in to impulse buying urges and get Xenogears off the store, oh and if LBP Vita went on sale I’d get that, etc. People who say the Vita doesn’t have games might just be uninformed; in terms of the number of games I’m interested the Vita is slightly ahead, and that whole PS1 classic back library puts it leagues ahead.
  5. Achievements/Trophies. I realize a lot of people don’t care for them and don’t “get” people who like them and that’s fine, more power to you. But I do like them, though I’m not like a platinum hunter or anything like that.

The only real downside of the Vita as far as I can tell is that the memory cards are helluva expensive; but maybe that will change this week.

And…that’s it. Just thought I’d write some gaming stuff since E3 is happening in a few hours. 😀

Street Fighter IV: The Answer Lies in the Heart of Battle

For the record, I purchased an original R1 copy of Street Fighter IV for the PS3 last Tuesday, and we’ve been pretty much playing it whenever we had free time at home. The one time I came in late to work during the month of February was because of Street Fighter IV.

Street Fighter IV came in with ridiculously high reviews for both the XBox 360 and PS3 versions, the PS3 version garnering a 94 (universal acclaim) on Metacritic It can’t be denied that it’s an awesome game, although not everyone agrees. I’m not going to discuss all the details of the game, you can click through the links above to read more.

One thing we always judge our fighting games on is the “random fighter selection” feature. SF3: Third Strike didn’t have it, but CvS2 and we played that a lot more than SF3 (and we would have never played SF3 had our PS2 not given up on our CvS2 disk). SF4 has a random fighter selection feature, but it’s a bit substandard since (a) You can cancel out of whatever selection it randomly gave you and (b) I got six Dhalsims out of seven randoms today! That’s insane. Also, in versus mode you have to move the selection cursor back to the random slot when choosing the next fighter (mildly annoying)

Another neat feature: during versus matches, the game keeps tracks of continuous wins! Street Fighter sessions at home are generally won in a “five-in-a-row” basis, i.e. the first player to win five bouts in a row is considered the winner and the session ends. So this feature is pretty useful for us.

We’ve tried playing online, although as usual connection is crap between BayanDSL and PLDT players, and the majority of Pinoy players seem to be on PLDT. Surprisingly, my brother was getting good connection ratings for opponents from Japan! The matching features are okay, despite not having double-blind character selection (this more accurately reflects the arcade experience though!) One thing that seems neat although we haven’t tried it yet – when playing in arcade mode you can allow other online players to challenge you at any time, just like a real arcade game!

One last thing: Cammy’s ultra is pretty sw33t.

Star Ocean: Second Evolution

Amazingly, despite my work schedule I still managed to finish a rather old-school RPG. I finished Star ocean: Second Evolution for the PSP today, clocking in 30 hours of playtime. I have to say I quite enjoy playing RPGs on handhelds. RPGs are usually rather long games so it’s nice being able to handle them in bite-sized chunks while commuting, et cetera.

Star Ocean: The Second Story was probably one of the best Japanese RPGs to come out of the Playstation era, despite the lackluster translations of that time (hey, it was pre-year 2000, all translations were pretty bad then!) Now comes the PSP enhanced remake, featuring a brand new retranslation, anime cutscenes, new VAs, an additional character, et cetera. The works! I’ve been playing it during off times for about two weeks, and pretty much had Claude overlevelled most of the time since I never removed him from the party.

With the PS1 version I never managed to complete the optional stuff like the Cave of Trials bonus dungeon and the harder difficulty levels due to lack of time. Hopefully the handheld version will allow me to do those things; I will probably play the Rena story on one of the higher difficulty levels.

The PSP version is spot-on awesome, and makes me want to play Star Ocean: Til the End of Time again. I’m glad that there are still some good games coming out on the PSP despite the high level of piracy on the platform (not that I’m helping =/) Hopefully Sony comes out with a handheld that can support the PS2 generation of games.

Star Ocean: Second Evolution is a very deep game with a decent story and great battle system plus lots of extra stuff to do, so it’s highly recommended, especially for fans of the PS1 version.

Side Note: Luckily, I haven’t tried Star Ocean: First Departure. I say luckily because it’s supposedly quite bad. It was a generation ahead of Second Story so I guess they weren’t very good then.

Valkyria Chronicles

Finally finished Valkyria Chronicles last Saturday, clocking in at around 25 hours. Quick Review:

  • Beautiful, beautiful game, even on my SD TV; it’s like watching a flowing watercolor painting
  • When you start the game, all the dialogue/cutscenes seems a bit draggy but eventually you get used to the pacing and then you don’t mind because the battles are really engaging. Speaking of battles;
  • I’m not sure if it would be good for beginners to tactical games. Unlike the FFT series and similar games, most battles require a decent strategy and grasp of tactics to complete. I kept getting Game Overs at the start because I was playing it like an FFT clone. It actually reminds me more of X-Com: UFO Defense’s squad-based tactics. You need to move, shoot, then run for cover. Always make sure your troops aren’t open to enemy fire and your tank’s weak spot isn’t exposed. You pretty much always need to find a way to sneak around the enemy troops as your weaker troops will not often survive rushing headlong into enemy fire. Each class (Scout, Shocktrooper, Lancer, Engineer, Sniper) has a definite role to play and you’ll need to know when to use each type of unit. You also need to consider finishing battles as quickly as possible to get higher scores and bonus experience/money. Early battles take around 30 mins to complete; later battles in the neighborhood of 1.5-2 hours. Don’t worry, you can save in-battle. (Yes, I sometimes reload when my sniper misses a clear headshot!) It’s definitely top-notch tactical gameplay that’s innovative compared to other games tagged as SRPGs.
  • There’s some replay value here also; The New Game Plus mode gives you a chance to try to get higher scores in each battle, plus there are optional Skirmish battles which I will probably try to beat at some point (I finished the game with minimal grinding, so I only played one Skirmish Battle). I wish it had trophies though =/
  • Overall, a highly recommended game. Unfortunately it didn’t sell very well despite the awesome reviews; the RPG audience is probably very small on the PS3 due to the lack of quality RPG titles for the console, but hopefully Sega decides to release a sequel sometime despite the low sales figures.

Gaming in 2009

I wanted to make a calendar of game release dates in 2009 (so I won’t forget), but apparently details are sparse. The only games that I’m remotely interested in that already have release dates are:

20 Jan 2009:

  • Mana Khemia: Student Alliance (PSP)
  • Star Ocean: Second Evolution (PSP)

17 Feb 2009:

  • Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (NDS)
  • Street Fighter IV (PS3)

17 Mar 2009:

  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume (NDS)

Unknown Release dates (2009):

  • Dragon Quest IX (NDS)
  • Suikoden Tierkreis (NDS)
  • Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon (First Half 2009) (NDS)
  • GTA: Chinatown Wars (NDS)
  • Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (1Q 2009) (NDS)
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (Spring 2009) (NDS)
  • White Knight Chronicles (PS3)

Pretty slim pickings, but it’s probably a blessing in disguise, considering how much backlog I have. The following are games I still want to finish from 2008 or earlier:

  • Jeanne d’Arc (PSP)
  • Final Fantasy: Crisis Core (PSP)
  • Chrono Trigger (NDS) I’m very close on this one!
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village (NDS) Yes, I’ll finish this, hopefully soon!
  • Disgaea 3 (PS3)
  • Final Fantasy IV (NDS)
  • Dragon Quest IV (NDS)
  • Castlevania: Order of Eclessia (NDS) Just started playing it last night
  • The World Ends With You (NDS)
  • Yggdra Union (PSP)

Wishlist for games to be announced in 2009:

  • Remake of Lufia 2
  • More PS2 remakes on the PSP, specifically Dragon Quarter
  • US releases for Disgaea 2 (PSP), Tales of Heart (NDS), Tales of Innocence (NDS)
  • More PS3 RPGs

PS3!

I purchased a PS3 last week! As is typically with me making large purchases, a was wishy-washy about it for a whole two weeks (although Alvin had been egging me to buy one for months).

To show how indecisive we are, here’s the conversation we had at the store:


Saleslady: Sir, anong kulay ang gusto nyo? Black, silver or white?

Me: Alvin, ano gusto mo?

Alvin: Kahit ano, silver na lang siguro.

Me: Sige ate, silver na lang

(The saleslady proceeds to take the silver model out of the box)

Me: OK lang ba silver? Parang mas maganda black.

Alvin: Gusto mo ba black? Ayos lang sakin kahit ano.

Me: Meh, kahit ano naman e, di bale na.

Saleslady: Silver na ba talaga sir?

Me: Sige ate, test mo na.

(She turns on the PS3)

Alvin: Dapat nga ata black na lang.

Me: Ate, pwede pa palitan?

Saleslady: Naon ko na po e!


Anyway, yeah, non-sequitur. I thought long and hard about the PS3 purchase because obviously it’s more expensive than the X-Box 360 and furthermore, and the games are expensive as well. But you gotta go with the best really.

Our PS3 package came with 2 games of our choice, and we found out just as we were buying that we had to be picky about the regions as most likely R2 games (Europe) would not work on our standard definition NTSC TV. Yup, I had decided not to purchase an HD TV because, well, they’re hella expensive! For our two free games, we went with Metal Gear Solid 4 (obviously) and Valkyria Chronicles, both are PS3 exclusives.

MGS4 is a damn awesome-looking game, even on our SD TV so I can only imagine how much better it would be in HD. I wasn’t planning on playing it myself, but instead satisfied myself with watching the cutscenes as my brothers played through it. As is typical of MGS, the game was short and my youngest brother got to the ending cutscene within a mere four days after the PS3 was purchased! Luckily there’s still MGS Online and Hard/Extreme modes so there’s still some replay value there.

Valkyria Chronicles is the game I’m playing and I’m currently 8 chapters in. From reviews I expected it to be a tactical RPG like FF Tactics and the like, but after playing I find that it reminds me more of squad-based tactical games like X-Com: UFO Defense. The game is rendered in very detailed and beautiful cel shading and is a blast to play and also somewhat hard – actual tactics are needed to win battles unlike in FFT-style games where typically it’s not too hard to power through the battles.

Another slight disappointment was that the US Playstation Store wouldn’t accept a local credit card for PSN purchases, so I was unable to purchases Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix as it is currently only available on the US PSN. Thanks to some kind folks at the PSPinoy message boards though for facilitating the purchase for me. I was able to successfully download SSF2THDR but was saddened by the lag I experienced while playing online. Hopefully I can tweak some of the network settings on the PS3 to solve the latency issues.

Overall, the PS3 seems to have been a good solid choice. Now if only I had more time to play games!

Catching Up

I’ve been submerged in work for the past two weeks or so, not having much time to do anything else aside from work and the DS, which lets me sneak in some Professor Layton, FFTA2 or Civilization Revolutions while waiting for bug fixes to be confirmed.

So I took a break this weekend and won’t be reporting back to work until Wednesday. No plans really, just some unplanned downtime to unwind a bit…

Blogged with the

Flock Browser

Some Fun Homebrew NDS Apps

I was neglecting the NDS a bit, so I decided to look for some fun homebrew stuff to do with it. Here are some I tried (You’ll need some sort of flashcart to use these. Mine is an R4.):


  • Pocket Physics

    – a neat little toy app that allows you to draw diagrams on the touch screen that would then become affected by physics. It’s a bit like a free-form

    The Incredible Machine

    that’s portable. It’s a bit of work to get a nice physics model done, but there are some available for download, you can just view the work of others if you want.

  • Colors!

    – a painting/sketching app for the DS, you can create images that have a painting feel to them

  • ScummVM DS

    – SCUMM was the adventure-game engine that drove a lot of the point-and-click adventure games of the 80s such as the Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion games. Provided you have a copy of those games, ScummVM DS allows you to play all those old games on your DS!


There’s a whole world of homebrew apps/games out there to explore, these were just the ones I could try out in one sitting. Try

this post from 4-color-rebellion

for some recommendations.

For more details, you can also check out the recently concluded

Homebrew Week at DS Fanboy

.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to help Guybrush find Big Whoop…