Once upon a time it looked like it would become a trend to include small LCD video screens on video game console memory cards. The Sega Dreamcast is remembered partly for its VMU units that let players access tiny minigames when away from a main game, but Sony took a crack at the idea years before with its PocketStation add-on. Linking up with select PSOne games, the PocketStation, well, allowed players to access tiny minigames when away from the main game. Existing pretty much as a Japanese novelty (despite international release plans, the device never left Japan), it's one of those parts of gaming history that most people aren't aware. Now Sony has brought the PocketStation's spirit back with a free downloadable add-on for the PlayStation Vita that emulates the old PocketStation functions with compatible PSOne Classics. The downside? It's only available in Japan. Some things never change. Richard Eisenbeis at Kotaku has taken a look at how the PocketStation add-on works and whether or not international audiences are still missing out after all these years.
To test it out, I decided to see how it worked with PSone classics Hot Shots Golf 2, Holiday Aquanote 2, and Fire Pro Wrestling G (as they are currently free with PlayStation Plus). In Hot Shots Golf 2, the PocketStation mini game is a simple driving range based on the golf system in the game proper—in other words, it's a simple timing-based minigame. Holiday Aquanote 2’s PocketStation game is a memory-style game. Each button makes a different pitched beep. When a fish swims up, it gives a series of beeps; and it is your task to make the same series of beeps via your button presses in response. As for Fire Pro Wrestling G there were actually several minigames that centered around either tapping buttons as fast as possible or keeping time with a constantly changing beat.
I'd like to experiment with the PocketStation options for the few compatible PSOne games I own, but probably wouldn't do much beyond satisfy my curiosity. The Rockman Complete Works titles (Mega Man here in the United States and beyond) include a few things one can do with the device that I'd always wanted to try just to say I've tried them. Considering that bringing international players onboard with what's largely a Japanese-exclusive toy must be a localization nightmare; nobody is going to bother patching these old games with new language translations after all this time, so I can understand why the Vita app remains in Japan, but who wouldn't want the opportunity to at least muck about with it?
(image via Wikipedia)