TGS 2011: Sony Press Event Recap

There was a lot of anticipation for Vita news at TGS 2011 this year, as there were still many unanswered questions, such as release date and hardware details. After 90 minutes on stage, many of those questions were answered, but some were still kept a mystery. I took a ton of notes while watching the stream late into the night, so I may be missing some details here since I was also on the Twitterverse discussing the event as well, oh and also, I don’t speak Japanese 🙂

The presentation began with all of the numbers that were left out of the E3 presser, concerning sales numbers and the like. Once that was done, a Sizzle Reel for the Vita was shown, focusing in the user interface and social features available. I noticed right away that the user interface looks quite slick and easy to use. Since it was all in Japanese though, I didn’t get a lot of details out of it.

After that, the release date for Japan was announced, with the Vita hitting store shelves on December 17th, 2011. Also announced was the 3G carrier for Japan (and no, they didn’t announce a different carrier for the US, so we’re still stuck with AT&T) The carrier in Japan will be NTT DoCoMo, which apparently a bit pricey but incredibly reliable. They’ll also be offering prepaid plans, which is actually setup kinda weird, with the equivalent of $12 getting you 20 hours of time, and $60 getting you 100 hours, so there’s absolutely no discount for getting more hours right away since this equates to $6 per 10 hours.

This was followed by a live, on-stage demo, but I have no idea what he was showing. It looked like the initial setup, but honestly I have no clue. It was funny though, the he couldn’t get the Vita to boot at first, but it did eventually. Also, during the demo, it had a real Wii-vibe, mainly because of the background music. That scared me a bit at first, but rest-assured, this ain’t the Wii. A couple more simplistic demo videos were shown, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. One new feature that I see being useful is that the Vita is able to play your music while you’re doing other things in the interface. They haven’t mentioned if this is also available while playing games, but hopefully we’ll hear more soon.

To help those that are new to touch controls of any type, a new app called “Welcome Park” will be available, which is a set of minigames designed to get the player familiar with the new features and with what the Vita can and cannot do. It’s actually a pretty cool idea, and looks like a fun and interactive way to familiarize folks with all of the new features and control options available. They also reiterated the Vita’s support in the social space with native apps for Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Foursquare.

Next-up was Yoshinori Ono from Capcom to announce “Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3” as a launch title for the Vita, with full Internet play via the PSN over WiFi and 3G, and that a special touchscreen enabled control scheme would be available for “Street Fighter X Tekken”, and that Japanese PlayStation mascots Toro and Kuro have been added to the Vita version of SF X Tekken, with a very short clip showing them in action.

After a weird photo-op handshake (many of these occurred) Shinji Hashimoto from Square-Enix walked on-stage and revealed “Lord of Apocalypse”, a new Action-RPG and “Army Corps of Hell” which I have 0 details for. Also on the PS3, Final Fantasy XIII-2 gets a December (in Japan) release date while Final Fantasy Type-0 is dated (in Japan) for October 27th. Then one of the bigger “megatons” of the night, with the announcement of Final Fantasy X HD Remake coming to both the PS3 and the Vita, and by the looks of what I was seeing on Twitter, this news is quite welcome by fans of the Franchise.

Then Hideo Kojima hit the stage to explain “transfarring” again, then a huge tease video announcing “Zone of the Enders Collection” for Vita (Sweeeeeeet!) coming in 2012. He was followed by Masami Yamamoto from Japan Studio to announce “Hot Shots Golf 6” (AWESOME!), some new RPG’ish game that looked like a Badman title, and “Minna to Issho” which translates to “Friend Network.” That’ll probably only be released in Japan though,

Next was Sieji Sujimoto to announce a “Nico Nico” application for Vita, which is a popular Japanese video service, but not much was really shown. Again, Twitter interest seemed high, so this is probably a good thing.

Last but not least during the wrap-up, 26 titles for the launch of the Vita, which is mind-blowing, and over 100 titles in the works. They also showed a picture with some accessories, including a car mount for using the Vita as a GPS I would assume, and other various stuff that we’ve seen for other handhelds.

So my thoughts on what we saw are pretty mixed (and they DO have another Keynote this week, but I have low expectations.) They’re obviously holding-out on a release until almost the last minute, but I have preordered one from Japan, even though I may get screwed if it’s ties too much to Japan in terms of games and PSN account limitation possibilities. It’s nice to get a release date finally, but where the hell are the other details like internal storage, how it’s going to handle PSN accounts, and how region-free it’ll actually be?? Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally psyched for the Vita, but withholding these details is giving me an ulcer! What kind of interaction will it have with the full PSN and even the PS3? Will there actually be an HDMI port of any type (probably not)?

I will say though, the launch lineup looks stellar. Also, the fact that it will play “most downloadable PSP titles” is still such a great thing, I already counted at least 10 Vita titles that I want at launch, if not more. Has there ever been a console launch when you could say that?? This could easily be the best console launch in history if Sony plays their cards right.

One major gripe though is, where’s the PS3?? The only news that we really got were the Square-Enix announcements. I understand that interest is high for the Vita, but they went 90 minutes and really only revealed the release date. They couldn’t carve 5 or 10 minutes out to cover games like “The Last Guardian” and the like? Also, the amount of gameplay video in the entire presentation probably accounted for 2 minutes tops. I know that the social aspects are popular in Japan, but I wasn’t the only one joking on Twitter with lines like “Oh, and by the way, the Vita can play games too.”

So, as usual, the Japanese presentation was flat and underwhelming. Every year we expect better, as we talk ourselves into believing that “this year will be different.” It’s pretty obvious that details like internal storage are going to be a mystery until about a week before release, and I’m still curious if any of these launch titles will slip. What I actually saw was pretty cool, and I’m excited for it, but I also walk away a bit disappointed. The launch of the Vita is just about 3 months away, and there are still some important questions that beg to be answered,

Get hype folks, because this just got Real!

Oh yeah, did I mention the Ys IV remake for Vita?!?!

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  • Anonymous

    So Glenn from what site are you purchasing your Vita?  I’m excited about the Japanese launch date being announced knowing the the NA release is incoming.  Otherwise the games I really want on Vita are now Uncharted Resistance and FFX.  There are several PSP games that I’ll finally be getting on the Vita.

  • So no release date for europe or USA? And Glenn I might be thick but what does Ys stand for?

  • Anonymous

    This Vita launch is going to be sweet! I can see this being the headlines for weeks, even months after its release.

  • Anonymous

    This Vita launch is going to be sweet! I can see this being the headlines for weeks, even months after its release.