Sony PS Vita vs. Nintendo 3DS: Handheld gaming Prizefight

While some think that Apple has run away with the mobile gaming market, Sony and Nintendo are boldly holding on to their gaming franchises with reinventions of their hardware.

The Nintendo 3DS, which debuted last year, is an improvement in terms of graphics from its Nintendo DS predecessor, but time has not been kind to Nintendo's hold of the casual games market--and, glasses-free 3D has been a gimmick, at best. Still, with Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart plus a price drop, the 3DS is on a rebound.

Meanwhile, the newly released PlayStation Vita has superior graphics and … Read more

PlayStation Vita and the complexity conundrum

If the far-reaching trend is toward stripped-down interfaces, why does Sony's new PlayStation Vita have so many buttons?

The most obvious counter-examples are Apple's iPhone and iPad, each with a singular physical button augmented by contextual onscreen touch controls. But we've also seen this concept of "design by subtraction" elsewhere. Traditional touch pads on laptops, pairing a tactile surface with discrete left and right mouse buttons, are being replaced with clickpads, which incorporate those left and right mouse button functions right into a one-piece pad. Newer phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note, are nearly all screen, clearly designed for gesture control above all else.

By way of contrast, Sony's new PlayStation Vita handheld game console has 13 buttons, two touch panels (one on the screen, the other on the back), and a pair of analog control sticks, not counting the volume buttons. Additionally, there are separate panels that open up to accommodate game cards and memory cards (plus a SIM card slot on the 3G version).

Of course, its level of complexity isn't necessarily a bad thing, and without its wealth of physical inputs, the Vita couldn't do the thing it does best: mimic the living room console experience in a way that previous handhelds, or your iOS/Android device, simply can't touch. … Read more

Video game characters get real with fake Facebook photos

Artist Andrew Golden lives in a world where famous video game characters have escaped from their consoles, signed up for Facebook accounts, and posted photos from their everyday lives.

Golden's imaginings run the gamut from Uncharted Drake's family vacation at the Grand Canyon to Goro from Mortal Kombat showing off his 12-pack stomach and four arms at the gym.

The images don't stop at snapshots. They also include snarky or admiring comments from video game characters' Facebook friends. Mario from Super Mario Brothers hoists a beer at a bar while his sibling Luigi announces his photobomb in the comments section.… Read more

What's a PS Vita game cost? Ask again tomorrow

Several PlayStation Vita games are seeing preorder price cuts (and one disappointing price increase) before the launch of the next-generation handheld gaming device planned of February 22.

Little Deviants, Wipeout 2048, Modnation Racers: Road Trip, Reality Fighters, and Hot Shots Golf: World Invitation, which cost $39.99 previously, are currently available for $29.99 (via Amazon, GameStop and others).

Sadly, it seems that the highly anticipated Uncharted: Golden Abyss for Vita rose in price from $39.99 to $49.99. There's little doubt that the next game in the Nathan Drake saga will be stunning and sell moderately well, but I feel a $50 retail price will turn off many gamers.

There is a certain sweet spot at $29 that Sony will have difficulty ignoring as time passes. I cannot envision a sustainable business model selling $50 triple-A portable games, regardless of the visuals or experience. … Read more

The 404 at CES 2012: Where we have the power (podcast)

LAS VEGAS--For our last live episode from CES, we're joined by Sony's John Koller who shows us the U.S. version of the PlayStation Vita and President of CBS Interactive Jim Lanzone...fingers crossed that we still have jobs after this!

First we sit down with Sony's Director of Hardware Marketing John Koller for a first glimpse at the American version of the PlayStation Vita mobile gaming device. Last year Jeff got the chance to look at a preview of the Japanese-only model, and the hardware is truly meant for the hard-core gamer.

Replete with dual-control pads, … Read more

PS3-only: The best PlayStation 3-exclusive games of all time

The debate continues to rage throughout this generation's console wars: Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3?

There are plenty of reasons to buy each, and they share a lot of games in common. The difference lies in the console exclusives.

Microsoft also has its fair share on the Xbox 360 (Left 4 Dead 2, Gears of War, Fable), but the lion's share of quality exclusive games are on the PlayStation 3. Many franchises you're no doubt just a tad familiar with: Uncharted, God of War. Others you might be less aware of: Flower, Heavy Rain. Collectively, these games alone are worth buying a PS3 for.… Read more

Another round with the PlayStation Vita

With the PlayStation Vita going on sale this Saturday in Japan, we're now nearing the home stretch as the powerful Sony portable gets set to follow up Stateside on February 22, 2012.

Sony brought the Vita to New York last week for a final tour before the new year. We're hearing it will make an appearance at CES as well, but we were excited to get some more hands-on time with the machine before next month's massive show.

Can the Vita succeed in 2012? First, let's recap what we already know:… Read more

The 404 945: Where wow, you guys are a lot taller than I thought you were (podcast)

Big thanks to everyone who came through last night's 404 Meet-up at the CNET Gotham holiday gift guide. Friendships were made, business ideas launched, and plenty of stickers were given; it was one of our most productive meet-ups to date!

We'll wrap up last night's event and show a quick interview segment on today's show, then launch into the headlining news of the day: Logitech has announced that it made a huge mistake with its Revue Google TV set-top box, and the company has no plans to upgrade or reinvent the existing hardware. Tune in to find out your other options for streaming Web content to your TV.

We'll also chat about near-field communication (NFC) chips making their way to luxury goods like Louis Vuitton wallets, Prada bags, and Nike sneakers to battle bootlegers, a six-year project to tweet the events of the second World War, and Jeff gives us his quick-take of "Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword."

We've been talking about games like Battlefield 3, Batman: Arkham City, and Uncharted 3 a lot on the show, and Blockbuster just gave us two copies of each game to give away in conjunction with Blockbuster's promo running through Nov. 22 where if you buy a copy of the game in-store you receive a free month of unlimited game and movie rentals!

We have PS3 and Xbox 360 copies for Battlefield 3 and Batman: Arkham City and two copies of Uncharted 3 for PS3 to give away. Here's how to enter:

Follow The 404, Justin, Wilson, and Jeff on Twitter. Tweet out a message that includes #GimmeFreeGames and @The404.

And that's it! Just remember that you need to be a U.S. resident to be eligible and the contest ends November 22. We'll select the winners at random, so good luck!

Stream or download today's show after the break!… Read more

Crave 64: Shiny, happy future (podcast)

Donald and Eric comment on RIM's dull vision of the future and are only slightly more enthusiastic about Microsoft's competing take on things. A Nokia researcher shows off a genuinely interesting vision of what flexible touch-screen devices might be able to accomplish. In Geek News, Eric confesses his love for Uncharted 3 and Harrison Ford's face.

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A third serving of Uncharted territory

The Uncharted series, which has quickly become the staple franchise of the PlayStation 3, has won over hard-core and casual gamers alike with its lighthearted action gameplay, witty characters, and amazing sense of adventure.

The third title in the series promises to up the ante even higher, so it's back to the jungle we go with our look at Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.

Jeff:Nathan Drake has got to have the best and worst luck in the history of video game characters. But that's why Uncharted games are such a thrill to play. Each sequential title in the franchise puts Drake in a bigger mess than before, tasking players to find new ways to save his life over and over again.

Maybe more so than any other game out there, Uncharted 3 plays much more like a Hollywood blockbuster than it does a conventional video game. It's the first title you'd want to show off to nongamers, with the hope they would then realize all the fun they're missing out on.

Veterans and newcomers to the Uncharted series will get sucked right in, as the early hours of gameplay are much more varied than what's been presented in the past. Naughty Dog has also again raised the bar on dictating compelling narrative, as Uncharted 3 makes the characters even more relatable and likable than ever before. Plus, I'm not sure there's a better musical score in all of games. … Read more