The lights are on
At Sony’s Tokyo Game Show booth the company showed off the remote play ability of the Vita PCH-2000 with its upcoming launch title Knack. The colorful 3D platformer was running on a TV while simultaneously streaming from the PS4 to the Vita. I bashed goblins and explored city streets while shifting my attention between the TV screen and Vita 2000’s screen to compare the experiences.
This was my first hands-on experience with Japan’s Vita 2000. The new system is lighter and slimmer than the original Vita. It also touts a claimed extra hour or so of battery life and a packed-in 1 GB memory card. Despite the reduced mass it still sits well in the hand, but I experienced some minor thumb cramping after about 10 minutes. The original Vita’s stunning OLED screen has been swapped out with a more compact LCD screen. The LCD screen looks good but doesn’t have the same clarity and true blacks of the OLED screen.
The Vita 2000 was connected to the PlayStation via USB cable. When I tried unplugging the cable to get a truer sense of the handheld’s weight, the stream between stopped, informing me that the remote play wasn’t occurring over wi-fi. In a sense, the experience feels similar to the using a plugged-in Wii U GamePad to play games without the TV. True untethered remote play has yet to be seen in action.
Knack is a colorful 3D platformer that looks great running on the PlayStation 4 and an HDTV. The hundreds of individual particles making up the titular golem are crystal clear on the big screen. The action is blurrier on Vita 2000’s smaller LCD screen, which is obviously more noticeable when directly comparing the handheld and the TV. I noticed a slightly reduced framerate on the Vita 2000, raising some concern about how the remote play function will hold up over a wireless connection. Keep in mind that these versions of Knack, the PlayStation 4, and Vita 2000 aren’t final, so my hands-on time isn’t necessarily representative of the retail experience.
While much of my attention during the hands-on time was focused on appraising the Vita 2000 and the PS4’s remote play feature, a few cool things about Knack stood out. Smashing objects in the environment and watching dozens of tiny relics fly onto Knack reminds me of collecting bolts in Ratchet & Clank and it’s very satisfying. The fixed camera angle lets players use the right analog stick to dodge, making it easy to evade a goblin’s axe thrust and counter attack. Finally, there are tons of secrets hidden behind breakable walls that lead to items which give Knack stat boosts like increased health or damage. Be sure to read our extended hands-on impressions.
I walked away from my time with the Vita 2000 and Knack excited to see how remote play works over a wireless network. I’m also looking forward to playing more Knack. It’s a cute, simple action-platformer that reminds me of the mindless fun that comes with kid-centric games like Skylanders. Knack launches alongside the PlayStation 4 on November 15 and the Vita 2000 releases in Japan this October. Sony hasn’t confirmed whether the handhelds new iteration will arrive stateside yet. But considering the Vita 2000’s inferior LCD screen, I don’t think we’ll be at too much of a loss if the unit doesn’t make it overseas.