Photo: Business Insider / Matthew Lynley
The Vita is an absolutely gorgeous device. And, in a lot of ways, it’s a much better device than the iPhone and other smartphones.For playing games, at least.
But Apple and other smartphone manufacturers can learn a lot from the Vita. Here are some ideas that those manufacturers and developers should steal if they want to make better apps and games.
Using a physical analogue stick is easy. Using a virtual one on a touchscreen is not.
But a lot of games -- like Assassin's Creed -- insist on using virtual analogue sticks. They're wonky and painful.
Look at a Vita game like Uncharted: Golden Abyss. You draw a path with your finger on the touchpad or use physical analogue sticks. That's a smart control scheme.
Seriously, guys. Get on it.
There's a huge amount of wasted real estate on the iPhone and other phones that could easily be converted to a touchpad on the back of phones.
Think about it: when you hold your phone, odds are your middle fingers are touching the back of the phone.
There are tons of possibilities for a back touchpad in games and apps on the phone, based on some of what we saw from games like Lumines on the Vita.
The iPhone sports a 3.5-inch screen, which really isn't enough to show off all the crazy effects that the A5 chip and the rest of the iPhone's guts can generate.
The Vita's screen is 5 inches long, and it really makes a huge difference when playing games like Rayman Origins because you can appreciate the panoramic views and the sheer scale of some of the levels.
We aren't saying you need to go all the way to five inches. Four and change is fine if you know how to use it.
You can download a ton of games on the PlayStation Vita, but there's no way they'll all be able to fit onto a single 16-gigabyte memory card.
There's an easy solution though: pop in another memory card.
Not quite, with some phones like the iPhone. Those have static storage, and while it's improving, the size of games and other apps is just increasing. Eventually you'll reach a critical mass and won't be able to download more.
Apple doesn't quite have a fix for this other than deleting and re-downloading the app from iCloud.
Seriously, guys, you can do better.
This one is more suited toward app developers: don't just use a single feature on the iPhone or other phones to control your games. Use all of them.
For example, in a game like Katamari Damacy on the iPhone, you almost exclusively use the accelerometer to move.
In a Vita equivalent game, you use the analogue sticks to move, the touch screen to vary the size of your character, and swipes to execute special moves.
It isn't anywhere close to as complicated as it sounds, and it gives you the opportunity to try all sorts of ways to play a game or use an app until you find something that suits you specifically.
A lot of developers have already been doing this, but there's a massive collection of games already out there that was released on consoles like the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and PlayStation 2.
Apple and other operating system developers should create tools -- or at least make it easy to create tools -- that make it easy to quickly port old games to the new operating systems.
Square Enix is already all over this: they're porting their PlayStation titles like Final Fantasy Tactics to the iPhone. But seeing how successful the old catalogue of games on the PlayStation store has been, Apple needs to be all over this.
Major props to Android for already making this practical, at least.
Let's face it: some games play better with buttons.
There are some third-party workarounds for controlling games on the iPhone with a Bluetooth controller. But Apple and other phone operating system developers need to hand out a better way of synchronizing controllers and opening up apps for their use.
Imagine if you could carry around a phone case that snaps onto your iPhone and adds an analogue stick and a couple of physical buttons to the sides of your phone.
Now imagine one that's manufactured by Apple and works as seamlessly as the phone.
That would be pretty sweet.
Angry Birds is one of the most popular games on the iPhone.
But developers shouldn't shy away from making blockbuster-calibre games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss or Rayman Origins for the iPhone and other mobile devices.
It's impeccably rare to see an app priced over $20 on the iPhone. But who's to say that wouldn't work as an experiment?
Developers: try launching a Triple-A title like Uncharted, that works well with touch controls, at that price point and see how well it does.
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