Sony made quite a big splash on their home turf this morning with a wide assortment of announcements. Here’s a quick round-down of everything they revealed and my thoughts on the news.
The first big reveal was the announcement of a remodeled PS Vita. It’s 20% thinner, and 15% lighter than the previous model. It replaces the OLED screen with a LCD screen, and increases the battery life by one hour. It also includes one gigabyte of on-board storage, although there’s not very much you can do with that, but one would assume this would allow the system to use this storage in lieu of memory cards, but this hasn’t been confirmed as of yet. If it does remove the need for memory cards that will certainly be a selling factor for a lot of people.
Speaking of memory cards, Sony announced price drops for the Vita memory cards in Japan, and also announced a 64GB model, which will retail for 9.980 yen or about $100 USD. Personally I still think the pricing is way too high. A 64GB SDXC card can be easily found for $60.
The new Vita will go on sale in Japan on October 10th, and will retail for 18,980 yen or around $190 USD. It will be available in six colors, and as of writing this there has been no confirmation on when this new Vita will be made available outside Japan.
The next big news was the announcement of several big Vita exclusives including a remastered or deluxe version of Soul Sacrifice called Soul Sacrifice Delta. Details are scarce at the moment, but we know it will include new content and a more fleshed out storyline. Sony also announced Soul Sacrifice 2, but didn’t say anything about it.
SEGA announced Phantasy Star Nova, which takes place in the popular Phantasy Star Online 2‘s universe. Shame PSO2 has yet to make its way outside Japan as of yet, but this new one just might as it’s more of a traditional RPG, which just so happens to be featured in this rich universe. Up to four players can team up online should they choose, but the emphasis is on single-player this time around. Much like Soul Sacrifice Delta, Phantasy Star Nova is set for release in 2014.
In a somewhat surprising move Sony announced the PlayStation 4 will be available in Japan on February 22nd. There will be several SKUs available, but the core model will retail for 39.980 yen or about $400 USD. Since the system is region free I’m fairly certain a lot of Japanese die-hard Sony fans will import it from North America or Europe. Never thought I’d say that before. Sony says the reason for pushing the platform into 2014 is to strengthen the Japanese software for launch.
SEGA announced Yakuza Ishin will debut not only on PS3, but on PS4 as well. It will retail on February 22nd, making it the biggest named franchise for the Japanese launch of the new PlayStation.
During a sizzle reel several other Japanese developers showcased short teasers of upcoming games, but not much was revealed. The list of titles highlighted include Natural Doctrine, Guilty Gear Xrd, Deep Down, Lily Bergamo, Wonder Flick, and more.
This device allows over one hundred Vita games to be played directly on your HDTV, while using a DualShock 3. The system reads Vita game cards, and memory cards, but no word yet on how digital downloads will work. We know it has access to Hulu and Netflix though. Why do I say “over 100 Vita games” you might be asking, well any games that require specific use of the Vita’s unique features like the touch screen or back track pad obviously wouldn’t be able to be used. The device will also allow remote play with the PS4, meaning you could have your PS4 in one room and play it on another TV in the house with a DualShock 4. This functionality will be added via a firmware update later next year. The PS Vita TV will be available in Japan on November 14th and will retail for 9.480 yen or around $95 USD. Once again, no word on if and when it will be released outside Japan.
All in all that’s a pretty decent amount of information from Sony’s pre-TGS conference. What do you guys think of this? I, for one, am really hoping Sony does away with the copy protection on their HDMI-enabled devices such as the PS Vita TV and PS4. The only way to record PS3 footage right now is to use component cables in order to bypass the HDCP. If they don’t include that on the Vita TV than I will most certainly pick that up for future video content. As for everything else, it’s nice to see them announce a remodeled Vita, although a savings of only $10 is hardly worthwhile in my opinion. Would have been nicer to see this one debut at say $150 or so. That way not only would there be an obvious savings right away, but if the device doesn’t require memory cards because of the internal storage there would have been great word of mouth post-launch as well. I’m also shocked the PS4 won’t be hitting Japan until early next year. It’s amazing how times have changed, no?