The Launchies: PlayStation Vita launch awards
At the end of the year, we have our Platinum Chalice Awards, in which we call out the best games and reward them for their bestness. A few weeks later we have our yearly Anti-Awards, in which we lampoon the biggest setbacks and letdowns of the year for being... awful. Just awful.
Now, we introduce a new kind of GamesRadar award: The Launchies. Which launch title stood out as the best? Which is the most addictive? Which is the most launch title-y? We're giving away awards to the PlayStation Vita launch titles that left us breathless, or left us disappointed. Or just left us. Whatever.
Take a look, and please, keep the acceptance speeches short. Don't ramble for too long or our battery might sta..rt... to ru...n... .ou...--.
Best Feature We Didnt Expect to Love: Trophy Support
Typically we don't get all that excited by the signature "ding" of a Trophy. Sony was just a little too late to the party with bringing the feature to the PlayStation 3, and third-party developers dragged their feet to implement them. Once they finally did get added the infrastructure still wasn't all that strong, and we quickly grew tired of synchronizing Trophies whenever we wanted to check and see if we had any that our friends didn't. While we appreciate them, and have grown to like them as much as we do Achievements, we didn't really bat an eye when Sony revealed that the Vita would include trophy support.
And then we got the Vita. And then we unlocked some Trophies. And then we compared our Trophies to our friends' Trophies. And suddenly we... cared about Trophies more than ever?
Sony did a great job implementing Trophies not just into the games, but into the interface of the Vita, getting us exciting about Trophies for the first time in years.
Most Likely to Make you Miss Your Bus Stop Award: Lumines: Electronic Symphony
This one didn't come as much of a surprise. After missing a bus thanks to the first game for the original PSP, we figured there was a good chance that the sequel would have the same effect - and we were right. Electronic Symphony is a treat not just to see, but to hear, making headphones mandatory, and when we're in the zone, clearing blocks and rocking out to the unbelievable soundtrack, it's easy to mistakenly let our stop go by.
Sure. That's right. It was a mistake. We're not just riding it longer so we have an excuse to keep playing. Why would you even think that?
Best More of the Same Award: Touch My Katamari
Listen, we're not going to sit here and act like Touch My Katamari reinvented the Katamari. It didn't. The game features the same basic visuals, premise, and controls as it did when you first popped the hyper-Japanese game into your PS2 all those years ago. It made some nice adjustments to the formula - like allowing for the Katamari to be squished and stretched - but, in the end, it's basically the same thing. Roll stuff up. Roll more stuff up. And then roll more stuff up.
And it's awesome and we never want it to change. Touch My Katamari knows what works and what doesn't, and instead of trying to shoehorn in needless mechanics it just focuses on the things we've loved about the series for years. Some might call it a series growing stale, but we opt to put it on a pedestal for not fixing what isn't broken.
Game Most Needing of a Sequel (Albeit Not being All that Great): Escape Plan
We didn't love Escape Plan. We thought it was messy. We thought it was sloppy. We thought that it was an essay on the troubles of trying to include too many control mechanics in one game.
But at the same time, we thought it had absolutely brilliant ideas. When it worked, it was a splendid experience, hitting heights that few other puzzle games have. Which is why, in a year or so, we want a sequel. A big one. One that has longer levels, better controls, and takes advantage of the system's strengths without being afraid of leaving its weaknesses behind. In other words, we want an Escape Plan that isn't a launch title, and we feel as though the developers can absolutely deliver.
The Quick! Get it out in time for launch we don't care if it's done! Award: Modnation Racers: Roadtrip
Modnation Racers, for the PlayStation 3, wasn't all that bad. Sure, it lacked the soul of Mario Kart, but we couldn't expect it to best Nintendo's classic franchise right away, could we? No way. But in a few years, with a few iterations, maybe it could? As long as Sony doesn't force the developer to make one for the Vita launch that's missing gigantic features, there's a chance that...
Oh... they cut online multiplayer? Seriously? What's the point of customization if you can't play online?
There isn't one. Modnation Racers: Road Trip has most of the bells and whistles of the console (and PSP) versions of the game, but misses out completely with a lack of multiplayer, absurdly long load times, framerate issues, and no changes whatsoever to the core mechanics that fans have asked for alterations to. The third version of a franchise should be bigger and better, not crippled and soulless, and with some extra time there's a chance that Road Trip could have pulled it all together. But then it wouldn't have made the Vita launch, and we couldn't have that, could we?
The Best Game You Really, Really Should Have Bought Last Year: Rayman: Origins
Hey everyone. It's GamesRadar again, here to yell at you about not buying Rayman: Origins. If you did buy it, you should just hit the "Next" button above, moving on to another award. If you didn't buy the game, keep on reading, as we've got some words we need to share with you.
WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU? HOW MANY TIMES DO WE NEED TO TELL YOU THAT YOU NEED TO BUY THIS GAME? IT'S ADORABLE, AMAZING, AND HAS EVERYTHING YOU'VE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT MODERN GAMES MISSING. IT'S DIFFICULT, BUT FAIRLY SO, AND FEATURES REMARKABLE 2D ANIMATED GRAPHICS THAT YOU NEED IN YOUR LIFE. AND IT'S SO FRENCH YOU MIGHT LIFT UP YOUR VITA AND FIND THAT IT SPAWNED A CROISSANT FOR YOU TO EAT. AND IT'LL BE FLAKY AND DELICIOUS.
So, yes, Rayman: Origins takes the prize. Everyone give it a round of applause.
The *cough* Im totally sick and cant come into work today *cough* Award: Super Stardust Delta
Hello? Hey, so... *cough cough cough*. Yeah, remember how I said I had a tickle in my throat last week? Right. Yeah. Well I woke up today and I think I have a full-on cold. Yeah. It's *beep boop beep* ... What? No. That wasn't a -- no it was my... thermometer. Not a videogame. Beep bop, yeah, it says my temperature is like 103 degrees. That's pretty sick. I'm like, totally really sick. I...
Dammit! I almost had the high score! No! ...Um, yeah, totally. Sorry, that was my neighbor. He's loud. And I'm sick. I'll be in tomorrow if I feel better I *beep bop boop*
That's my doctor on the other line. He wants to talk to me about how sick I am. See you soon. Sorry.
They Really Need to Fix this in the Next Hardware Update Award: Hard to Open Game Card Slot
It's safe to assume that this isn't the last iteration of the Vita hardware we're going to see. The PSP had the 2000, 3000, PSP-E1000, and the PSPgo, and the DS had the Lite, DSi, and DSiXL (and we're guessing the 3DS will have the 3DS Lite or something later this year). It's just the way it goes. Each version is going to have little design problems that aren't noticed until millions of people complain about them on Twitter.
With the Vita, our biggest hardware concern is the game cartridge slot. The tiny slot holds games great - that's not the issue. The problem is getting the slot open is likely more difficult than it has been on any handheld short of the NGage. It's not a big issue if you have long-ish nails, but if you don't (and some of us don't) you'll be looking around your room for things to pry it open with whenever you want to switch games.
We'll likely get used to it in time, and it's hardly a deal breaker, but seriously. Fix this in the next Vita. It's driving us crazy and we really want to play Katamari without bloodying our fingertips.
They Really Need to Fix this in the Next Software Update Award: Software Updates
Updating the PlayStation 3 or the PSP was a hassle. It felt like every other week we'd be asked to update the system's firmware, which meant (slowly) downloading the update and then (slowly) installing it. The act itself wasn't all that annoying, but the frequency is really what drove us insane.
So far the Vita has only had one patch, and it wasn't all that bad. It added features and only took a few minutes to install. We're cool with that. But we're still worried that Sony is going to fall back into its old ways, constantly updating the system with security patches and fixes in attempt to thwart hackers that are going to find a new crack within an hour anyway. If it's going to do that, and we have a feeling it's going to, then we really want Sony to think about updating the way the firmware updates are deployed and installed, because we're not cool with being forced to spend 10 minutes updating our system every other week so it can release another failed security update.
Single-handedly Justifies the Need for New Hardware Award: Uncharted: Golden Abyss
It's hard to convince people to spend hundreds of dollars on a new gaming device, especially when their old one works just fine. It typically takes something very special to help justify the purchase, and typically, each console launch has one game in particular that shows that the new hardware isn't just worthwhile, but was sort of needed.
For the Vita, that game is Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Golden Abyss proves that the new generation is much different than the old one, featuring graphics that are better than even early PS3 and Xbox 360 launch games. Sure, it doesn't provide the thrills of full experience of the console versions, but it's damn close, and for a launch game that's pretty impressive.
Launchiest Launch Title: Little Deviants
We imagine that every videogame console launch title is like a student in an elementary school, and the company that created the console is the teacher. For show and tell each student goes to the front of the class, wanting to suck up the most by showing off all the neat ways it took advantage of the new hardware. One game will come up and show off it's pretty graphics, another might show some cool connectivity, but there's always one brown-noser that stands out.
In this case, it's Little Deviants, a game that has so many different functions and features that it's more of a tech demo than an actual videogame. And it did it while still being moderately enjoyable, too! Moderately... being the... uh... key word here. It was actually sort of lame. But man, does it show off those features! Here, have an apple. You've earned it.