2012
08.16

Back in April, I blogged about how I was rooting for Nintendo to come back after the company endured its first annual loss. As a longtime Nintendo fan, I disliked seeing the company struggle, but I also thought some factors in the market were making that struggle somewhat inevitable.

For instance, more connected devices means many people have a gaming device with them at all times, in the form of a smartphone or tablet. Games on these devices are often free, and they can make it seem like a hefty purchase to shell out $40 or $50 for a console game. I also thought at the time—and continue to believe—that the gaming industry wasn’t doing enough to get the market excited about new titles (my personal beef was with the long-awaited Pikmin 3, which has since been confirmed for Wii U). If I’m going to spend big bucks on a dedicated gaming system and games, they had better be excellent and innovative.

Well, recently I have decided I am also rooting for Sony PlayStation, specifically for the Vita. This handheld gaming device has had both praise and pans in the market. It has a lot of cool technology—including connectivity—but it also started out with a large price tag and a slim selection of games. But that might be changing. At this week’s GamesCom conference Sony announced new titles that take advantage of everything the Vita is capable of, as well as announcing some updates to the device’s firmware that sound interesting.

Vita is a handheld gaming unit with front and rear cameras for augmented reality, a 5-inch multi-touch OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen in the front, and a multi-touch panel on the rear, plus Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity options. During GamesCom, Sony said on its PlayStation blog that in addition to updates for the controls, users will soon be able to use Wi-Fi to identify their location. The “near” feature will be able to gather the information of surrounding Wi-Fi access points without an Internet connection, and it will update the location data later. Users will be able to access location data within the area covered by Wi-Fi location services.

One new game previewed at the event is called Tearaway, and the trailer for the game promises some cool use of the Vita’s capabilities. For instance, the device knows when a gamer is blowing into the device’s microphone, and wind appears on the game. Gamers can use the rear touchpad to virtually poke their fingers up into the game. Watch the trailer to understand exactly what this looks like.

While I had previously balked at paying for a handheld gaming device like Vita—after all, my iPhone plays lots of games that are free—I have to admit this game sends many of my reservations flying out the window. But, no release date yet, so we will see if Vita can capitalize on the excitement and make the game available before I’ve forgotten all about it.

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