Back in 1999, Sony released the PocketStation in Japan. Like the Dreamcast's VMU, the PocketStation allows you play various minigames from compatible PS1 titles on its small black and white screen. And now that it's available for the Vita, I decided to see what we missed out on.
In reality, PocketStation for PlayStation Vita isn't as much its own standalone app as it is an addition to the PSone Classics launcher. Now instead of just being able to begin the game of your choice, you have the additional option to start up the PocketStation memory card emulator as well. In addition, when you launch a PocketStation-compatible game, you are now given an option screen, asking if you'd like the memory card associated with the game to be a virtual PocketStation.
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.
Currently, there are 46 PS1 titles on the Japanese PSN compatible with the PocketStation application. The biggest problem I had with the PocketStation games was figuring out how to install them and play them (as you have to do this from inside each individual PS1 game) — until I remembered that all I needed to do was read the virtual manual, at least.
All in all, these Game & Watch-style games (like those you'd find in Wario Ware) are nothing special. However, it is nice to see this often forgotten addition to gaming will not simply disappear into the mists of time.
Check out the video above to see how these PocketStation games look in action on the PlayStation Vita TV.
PocketStation for PlayStation Vita was released on November 5, 2013, for Japanese PSN Plus members. It will be released for free to everyone on the Japanese PSN on December 3, 2013. There is currently no word on a Western release.