Little Deviants has been the one title to show off Sony's rear touch panel on its upcoming PlayStation Vita portable. And for good reason -- the game shows off what the system is capable of controls-wise. Unfortunately for Sony, gamers can expect to experience both the good and bad side of rear-focused gaming. Yeah, I said it.
One of the two modes that stood out during my hands-on with the system at E3 was the one that involved the rear touch panel to raise the landscape and, in turn, moves a ball-shaped character towards a defined goal.
It's the mode that's been gracing all the promotional material for Little Deviants and the PS Vita itself. It demonstrates the system's unique technology by way of giving the player a point of reference to know where their fingers are and promotes a sense of "feel" to the gameplay. It was quirky, interesting fun that happens to make up one of the many mini-games included in Little Deviants.
On the other hand, one mode demonstrated how rear touch panel controls can go wrong on the PS Vita. The mode in question can be boiled down to whack-a-mole with both front- and rear-facing enemies to hit. The front-facing enemies are easy to touch-hit, but when it gets to the enemies facing backwards -- those that you need to tap on the rear touch panel -- is when it gets a bit difficult. Since there is no way of knowing where your fingers are relative to what's on-screen, you're stuck guessing (and hoping) you get lucky and tap on the right enemy.
The lack of any real, physical boundaries outlining the play area on the back of the PS Vita exacerbates the issue, but creating such a hardware revision would encroach on the system's svelte design.
Both modes show off Sony's slick, new system with a bit of the growing pains highlighted for the benefit of wise future projects to learn from.