One of my favorite features of the PS Vita is the crossplay ability it has with the Playstation 3. Having the ability to play a game on my big screen at home and then continue the same game on a portable when I leave is truly one of those things I used to dream about as a kid. It hasn’t really been used for anything beyond that though and while it’s still a new feature within the industry, I’d like to see developers spread their wings a bit and really try something unique with it. I was just reading an announcement on the the Playstation Blog about Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time coming to the Vita and thought this would be a perfect game to try new crossplay features.
More Sly Cooper is always a good thing.
One thing to keep in mind is that the PS Vita is a portable machine; meaning most people aren’t going to play for extended periods of time, so we should stick with ideas that are quick for the player. Because of that, most of these ideas will end up being expansions onto what the player would do in the main game or mini-games (for lack of a better term) that provide benefits in the main game.
Vita specific side missions
This might qualify as a “lowest hanging fruit” idea but…who cares? I think it’d be fun and it could take advantage of the Vita hardware. The side missions wouldn’t be crucial to the main game’s storyline (we don’t want to leave PS3 gamers in the cold of course) but they would offer added value and possibly build upon the story’s foundation.
From my understanding, Sly 4’s story revolves around him discovering his ancestors and using their unique abilities (I’m trying not to spoil it for myself so that may not be up to date). We could use that premise to give Vita gamers a side-story that revolves around Sly trying to find an ancestor’s Thievious Raccoonus page that isn’t in the PS3 version of the game. Owners of both versions could, of course, transfer this new ability into their PS3 game save. These new side missions would be built around the Vita’s unique qualities. Picking locks or cracking safes with the touch screen, dodging laser sensors using the motion controls, basically anything that would be unique to the Vita without stepping on the main game.
Side missions could be based around one or all of the Cooper Gang.
Or, we could base these around Bentley (the tech guru) since his gameplay is more gadget based. The missions could be about Bentley going out to test his latest and greatest inventions. There could be one gadget per Vita feature and completing all of the missions for that gadget would unlock it for use in the PS3 version of the game. We could do things like perfecting a voice modulator for Sly by recreating sounds using the Vita’s microphone. Bentley would play a noise and the player would have to try and mimic it. Once it’s unlocked in the PS3 version, Sly could use it to unlock voice controlled doors and gain access to new areas/missions. That might be a bit convoluted on paper and it may not work out in practice but come on, it’s 3 am and we’re just brainstorming ideas. That’s the best time to come up with the oddball ideas and you get the point, right?
New character, Parallel story
We could go with a more focused approach. A side story that runs parallel with the main game and provides a fun, outsiders, view of what happens in the main story. We could create a new character and say that he’s been a big fan of the Cooper Gang. He’s out to prove he belongs on the team, so he tags along in secret and tries to help however he can. He needs to be an animal, so lets make him a mole, because every good group of thieves needs a tunneler, right?
Our new character could look like this. Only, more cartoony and less old man meets creepy troll.
Between Sly, Murray, and Bentley, we have stealth, action, and gadget focused gameplay covered. So with our new character, we could focus on strategy gameplay. He’s a digger, so his missions would revolve around trying to dig his way into where ever the gang is trying to break in. Each location would have almost a labyrinth-like security system in place under their base and players would need to use a combination of touch screen and motion controls to navigate and/or disable the hazards. We should probably put some kind of timer or “air gauge” in place to create a sense of panic for the player.
Our new hero’s story can’t really interact with the main story (again, don’t want to leave out PS3 gamers) so he should always get there right after the Cooper Gang has left. Almost a “The Princess is in another castle” sort of deal but the player will get their payoff at the end. There could be some sort of unlockable content for the PS3 version (like what was mentioned above) but this idea is more about giving Vita players some added value.
Vita as an in-game gadget
No I don’t want the Vita to actually exist in the Sly Cooper world but I do think it would be cool to allow Vita owners (who own both versions, of course) to use their Vitas as a special controller for the PS3 version. It would act almost like a real world gadget for the player. You could activate a camera using the Vita’s touch screen, which would turn on the Vita’s actual camera, aim it at the TV and use the Vita’s AR capabilities to show the players things in the level that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. This could be locations of hidden items, secret areas, or even the stealthiest way to complete an objective. There’s all sorts of things you could try with that. Maybe even have them find gameplay elements around their own home.
Using that same example, they could use it for hacking computers by using the touch screen. Or, the screen could act as the camera on a spy plane or RC car and the player could use those to scout out enemy locations and tag them on their map (which could also be on the Vita’s screen). Taking pictures of enemies, using the Vita’s AR ability, could unlock character bios or show the players the best way to defeat certain enemies.
Again, there’s probably so much more we could do with these features and I’ll probably come back to this topic at a later date. If anyone has read this far (thank you) and has any ideas, I’d love to hear more thoughts on this.