We will be having some in-depth impressions about the PlayStation Vita hardware and such later, so I'll skip the tech specs and all that stuff for now. I did have a few things to say about some of the games, though…

Army Corps of Hell Screenshot

Army Corps of Hell. I haven't put very much time into this one, only about an hour or so. I've heard from a number of people that it gets pretty repetitive and I can see that happening in the future, but I'm really enjoying it at the moment.

Basically, it's Pikmin in Hell with a pure combat focus. The player can switch between three types of minions—soldiers for close-up, spearmen for distance attacks, and mages for… mage-ing. You do a lot of switching between your troops while taking out lesser demons, and then some impressive-looking boss battles pop up occasionally.

Like I said, I haven't put much time into it, but it's working for me so far.

Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen Screenshot

Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen. A complete piece of crap. This game is almost exactly like the original Tenchu (PS1, 1998) with a very minor cosmetic touch-up and a few sim elements thrown in.

While Tenchu kicked all ass back in the day, games development has come a long, long way since then, and for Bandai Namco to release a game that could easily pass as a PS1 title is completely unacceptable. The graphics are crude, the lock-on during combat needs tons of work, the camera frequently goes crazy, the touch controls are unpredictable, and there's a ridiculous amount of repetition in the missions and environments. There are some good ideas here but there's just no excusing how poorly it was produced.

I'm going to be trading this one in for credit towards something else ASAP.

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack Preview

Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack. This one is download-only from the PSN store, and I strongly suggest that every Vita owner take the time to pick it up at their earliest convenience. It's great, and probably the best Vita game I've played so far.

The gameplay is sort of like a mix between a 2D platformer and Katamari Damacy, but the art style is super-clean and colorful, and every level offers something a little different. The developers were clearly trying to take advantage of everything the Vita offers technically, and they've done a superb job of making it all feel sensible and natural. More than any other game I've played, this one feels as though it was specifically made for the Vita itself, and that's a quality I think other developers should emulate.

Total thumbs up. Buy it right now.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss Screenshot

Uncharted: Golden Abyss. I've never been the biggest fan of Nathan Drake, but I needed to pick a third title after taking advantage of the Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale at Amazon, so this one was my "why not?" choice. I chose… Poorly.

I didn't spend very much time with this title before trading it back in, but this isn't the kind of experience that I want to have on a handheld. The touch controls felt very forced and awkward, too. I don't have much good to say about the Uncharted formula in general, so I was glad to see this Vita version go and I don't miss it a bit.

It's Uncharted with touch controls. So… Whatever.

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational Screenshot

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational. This is the same Hot Shots that's been around forever, so if you are a fan of the series, then this is a no-brainer. It looks great, the controls are very smooth, and it's basically the only golf series that I ever pick up.

On the other hand, I have to say that I've really gotten used to so many games offering character customization these days, so to go back to something as limited as Hot Shots is pretty jarring. Not being able to create my own character is fine since the game is structured on unlocking more powerful golfers as the player progresses, but not being able to completely change outfits or accessories doesn't make me very happy. Sorry Clap Hanz, but simple palette swaps don't cut it.

Super-solid golf, but it feels a little behind the times.

Brad Gallaway
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