Developers Steer New Directions with PlayStation®Vita System Controls
By John Gaudiosi
PlayStation®Vita offers game developers an assortment of control options, giving players a choice of how to play many games. With a front touchscreen, rear touchpad, dual analog sticks and additional control buttons, as much creativity has gone on behind how gamers navigate virtual worlds as the detailed environments that they’re exploring.
Yuichi Tanzawa, director of Square Enix’ Army Corps of Hell, said players will be able to utilize the touchscreen to activate items (instruments) and the rear touch pad to play those instruments.
“I feel that the PS Vita System will play a vital role for the next generation of handhelds,” said Tanzawa. “With its wonderful balance of elements, features such as touch and analog sticks, and its developer-friendliness, as a gamer I look forward to a wide array of titles from casual to hardcore. With the exceptional specs, development is no longer restricted by conventional handheld spec limitations. It’s now possible to develop at the same capacity level as for consoles.”
Ryota Niitsuma, producer of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 at Capcom, said his game makes use of the touch controls for more intuitive gameplay. The touchscreen opened up a myriad of ideas about how this functionality could push forward the fighting genre.
“When it comes to fighting games, you might think that controls based on commands are a must, but being able to touch from the front and the rear, makes it very easy to move the characters,” said Niitsuma. “So even for those who think that they are not good at putting in the commands, they can enjoy the game using the touch controls.
Gamers can also fight with the traditional dual analog sticks to control the characters. Niitsuma said that since the characters are made so well, the response for aggressive fighting game controls is quite good.
Tecmo Koei Producer Kenichi Ogasawara said that since Dynasty Warriors NEXT was developed around the concept of using the PS Vita's functions to their fullest while keeping the central focus on the interface and communication features, his team was able to aggressively challenge themselves with new changes to the gameplay and game design, which were not previously possible in the series.
“In order to express an even greater feeling of exhilaration within the series, we implemented a new action called ‘Speed Musou’ utilizing the touch sensors,” said Ogasawara. “Each character has their own unique version of the move, so we definitely want users to give it a try for themselves. In addition, duels between officers are all touch-based, putting to use this new functionality to draw a sharp contrast with the series to date. The basic controls are similar to standard PS3™ titles, where they are used to control the camera and character movement. Aside from this, they are used as alternate controls for the gyroscope functions.”
Hideo Teramoto, producer on Namco’s Ridge Racer Vita at Cellius, said that the left analog stick works for standard steering. As for the right analog stick, there’s an option to use it for accelerating and braking. The latest iteration of the racing franchise has received a design facelift with an entirely new user interface (UI) based on the front touchscreen. The background of the UI boasts a stunning image of the series’ iconic mascot, Reiko Nagase, from R4 – Ridge Racer Type 4.
“Make sure to touch the interface over Reiko Nagase, and take your first steps into the world of the game,” said Teramoto. “The PS Vita’s sticks are so incredibly easy to use, that it even turned some of the members of the development team into hardcore fans who now love using the right analog stick for accelerating and braking. Try setting the game’s control settings to Type D and give it a try yourself.”
Toshiyuki Nakanishi, producer on Touch My Katamari at Namco Bandai Games, said that his development team began with a brain storming session on what kind of Katamari Damacy would be possible if they used the functions of the PS Vita System. While ideas quickly filled out the entire white board, the idea that stood out the most was to “stretch or squeeze the katamari with the touchscreen and roll it.” Nakanishi believes this idea brought on the “qualitative evolution” to Katamari Damacy for the first time since it was conceived.
"The player can use the touch panel to roll the katamari," said Nakanishi, who said the large screen enhances the experience. "The rear panel is used to change the shape. This changes the visual of the katamari and widens the strategy. The front panel can also be used to change the shape, but I think most people will use the dual sticks to roll and the rear panel to change its shape."
Katamari Damacy is a game that used dual sticks from its inception. The PSP® version of the game was the only one that replaced directional buttons. Nakanishi said fans who have been wanting a dual stick portable experience will finally get their wish with this PS Vita exclusive.
Choice has been a main theme heard from development teams around the globe when it comes to PS Vita’s control options. With over 100 games in development, gamers will have plenty of options when driving, fighting or exploring these rich new worlds.