Sony was first out of the gates Monday with their SCEJA press conference (that’s Sony Computer Entertainment Japan/Asia for the unfamiliar).  As is usually the case with Sony pressers, the presentation concerned itself with news from all three platforms, but chose to hold off the PS4 announcements for the main event slot. We’re impatient here, so will look at the event in descending order of excitement:

PS4


Japanese punters with a keen eye on things in other territories heaved a sigh of disappointment with the announcement of the PS4’s Japanese release of February 22nd, 2014. Three months after Western release, it seems strange indeed for Japan to be in the same position that Europe was ten years ago when it comes to releases. Still, more time to save for bundles at 41,979 for the regular machine, and 46979 for a pack with the Playstation Eye included. Almost as compensation for the wait, day one purchasers will also find a download code for a copy of Knack in the box at no extra cost, and hopefully we’ll still be able to access our US or European Plus accounts and grab the by then, numerous freebies on offer.

psycho break

SCEJA’s reason for the release delay was to allow more time to develop new games geared toward the Japanese market. That influence might be hard to see from the launch lineup, where Japanese additions to the Western presence amount to titles like Nicori no Puzzle (a, err, Sudoku game), and Capcom’s already announced Strider redux. At least that’s what a sizzle reel unveiled, before more detail was delved into with old standby Dynasty Warriors and Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin seeing the Yakuza franchise return to feudal Japan. For post launch, Shinji Mikami’s Psycho Break seems sufficiently old school Biohazard enough to win fans, and Grasshopper were on hand to tease Lily Bergamo,  an action title with second screen action on smartphones and tablets that hopefully will improve on Grasshopper’s recent inconsistent form.

SRPG fans are being catered toward by Kadokawa’s Natural Doctrine on all Playstation formats, and Level 5’s Wonder Flick, which will have a continuous experience across PS4, Vita and smart devices. Arc System Works are bringing Guilty Gear Xi to fighting game fans, and for fans of weird B-games, EDF will be on hand, months after EDF4 appeared on PS3. Mobile Suit Gundam, DreamClub and Idolmaster were also announced for stereotypical demographic box checking fans.

deep down

Of much more interest was the opportunity to finally receive concrete details of Capcom’s Deep Down. The game doesn’t quite seem up to the fidelity of the target footage shown at PS4’s announcement, but the online RPG seems to be the most exciting PS4 title coming out of Japan in the forseeable future, with hints of a Assassin’s Creed style plot spanning fantasy and scifi. Deep Down will have its multiplayer dragon slaying in playable form at TGS.

Away from gaming, PS4’s media partners for Japan were mentioned, with Music Unlimited shown off and compatibility with Japanese streaming service Niconico joining Ustream and Twitch for game footage sharing being trumpeted. This all wrapped up a presentation that covered most of Sony’s domestic bases in time for preorders opening on Saturday October 5th. Most notable to those who’ve been following pre launch furore in the West though was a lack of independent presence; quite how indie relationships will work on PS4 in Japan remains to be seen.

PS Vita

vitaslim

Sony wasted no time during the press conference in revealing a new piece of Vita hardware. The generation 2000 Vita slim is 20% thinner and 15% lighter than the current system, with a slight increase in battery life, owing to an LCD rather than OLED screen, and a minimal amount of onboard storage, as well as availability in six different colours, so no more buying a can of spray paint on your way home from the game shop with your new piece of kit. It releases on the 10th of October for 19,929 Yen, and will be available in Wifi flavour only. New Vita customers in October can also receive 90 days of the Japanese Playstation Plus for free, and some bustle was made over Sony’s work to improve the service, with more and better games added to the instant game collection for Japan, including Gravity Daze and Disgaea.

In terms of new games, there were a few announcements geared to whipping the Japanese press up, with a good chunk of time afforded to the Kyoto Game Project (not the city, but ‘collaborative hunting’). This is a program known casually inside SCEJA as the ‘ohshitwestilldon’thaveMonsterHunterwhatarewegoingtodo’ project. Still, Soul Sacrifice earned praise right around these very parts for being similarly beast hunty but also significantly different from MoHun, so there is room for games to have their own identity. God Eater 2 joined announcements of Phantasy Star Nova (a single or multiplayer hunter set in the PSO 2 universe) and Gundam Breaker, and capped off with the reveal of Soul Sacrifice Delta by Compile’s Keiji Inafune. You know, it might just be me, or maybe between the Mighty No.9′s influences, and this one year turnaround for Soul Sacrifice, Inafune might be coming round to the ‘unadventurous’ ways of the Japanese industry. As long as the games are good.

ps-vita-tv

The big surprise for Vita was the announcement at the end of the show of Vita TV. This micro console is a Vita, sans controller and screen that operates like a mini media box that also plays Vita games. Some, (but not all) titles will have workarounds for Vita touch screens, and perhaps more useful to multi TV households, will handle remote play for PS4, so those forced out of the living room experience aren’t necessarily ghettoised onto a small screen. The 9,950 Yen, or  a memory card and controller bundled pack for 5,000 Yen more is an exciting Playstation entry point, as well as a neat solution for those wanting a cheap media box with a little bit more on top.

 

PS3

It still exists. Gran Turismo 6 is coming out.But screw that, the new stuff is what we’re interested in.

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