Michael Jackson: The Experience HD
This struck us as a rather odd title to bring to the PS Vita, given that on the consoles (particularly the Wii), this rhythm-action game was all about emulating the late Jacko's unbelievable dance moves. Having played it on the PS Vita, we're still of the opinion that it's a rather odd title.
Diehard Jackson fans, of course, will love it. As will anybody else whose idea of fun is rubbing their stomach and patting their head at the same time. Because that, essentially, is what it's like to play. We swiftly discovered that it's best to play it with the PS Vita placed flat on a surface. You launch a Jackson song and then lead him through his dance routine by making prescribed gestures on the touch-screen.
Obviously, timing is the key to nailing them, and Michael Jackson: the Experience uses a clever means of communicating how to time your gestures, with two symbols per gesture which get closer to each other, finally overlapping at the point in time when you're supposed to nail them. Circles, for example, denote a touch, while arrows show the direction of the swipe you need to make.
You also have to make curved swipes, and sometimes must touch two parts of the screen simultaneously. Typically for a rhythm-action game, every input you make is rated, and you earn points accordingly (as well as allowing Jacko to get through his dance routine).
The game has two modes: HIStory (which lets you choose any of the tracks from that album) and Battle, for head-to-head play either locally or via the PSN. There's also a Backstage menu option which should keep those fanatical fans happy. And that is much-needed, given that they are the only PS Vita owners likely to buy the game.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance
When we fired this hack-n-slash up, we were instantly met with a dread word: it was developed by Gameloft, Ubisoft's mobile phone development wing. Yep, it's an iOS game that has been upscaled for the PS Vita, making it more of an exercise in launch window box-ticking than a credible contender.
In gameplay terms, it was beguiling enough: basic, unsophisticated but satisfying enough dungeon-based hack-n-slash action seen from a three-quarters top-down viewpoint. With a convoluted storyline in which you play a king resurrected after 25 years, whose ex-wife has ruled tyrannically in your absence, you initially decide whether to play as a Warrior, Rogue or Mage.
It's pretty bog-standard stuff, with the main concession to the PS Vita's unique input possibilities being use of the rear touch-pad to control the movement of the fairy that accompanies you (which you mainly use to find hidden treasure). There's some use of the touch-screen, too: you can pinch to zoom in and out iPhone-style, and double-tap to launch your fairy's spell. The touch-screen also comes in handy when managing your inventory.
All the hack-n-slash clichés are present and correct, including pressure-plates that open doors and treasure chests. There are, of course, boss-battles. Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, then, is hardly an essential purchase - although it will presumably have a price-point that reflects its mobile phone origins. One for those who prefer skulking around virtual dungeons to interacting with the real world.