The PlayStation Vita has a new series of apps. You might not have noticed, but they are now a pattern which constitutes to me a series. Once being an event, the Welcome Park app that teaches you the features of the PS Vita. Twice would be a coincidence, with the recently-released Paint Park. Three times is a pattern. Treasure Park is an app that allows you to create puzzles for your friends and those nearby to play. Also upcoming is Wake-Up Club, which is best described as an alarm clock with social functions. No release date has been set for Treasure Park and Wake-Up Club. While they could be seen as simple apps also found on smartphones and tablets, these should be seen as something more for the Vita.
Aside from sharing the “Park” moniker, these applications have something else in common: they introduce players to features of the Vita in fun ways. Here’s the thing, though: Sony needs to realize this by tapping into the potential. Welcome Park started off great as an app of minigames – with trophies – that teaches players how to perform the various control functions within the Vita. Granted, the game could benefit greatly from a fleshed-out leaderboard along with notices posted in the LiveArea of beaten times and scores. Now with Paint Park, we have an app with a lot of potential, or to put another way, in need of a much-needed update. This app does not include trophies like Welcome Park, and only allows for ad-how multiplayer. Paint Park needs multiplayer with friends on players’ PSN friends list, as this would show off just how fun the social aspect of gaming with a Vita can be. The light features within the app should also be expanded, as the color selection is minimal and much more could be done with a drawing application for a device that has two touch surfaces.
Not much else is known about Treasure Park, but this app should also include features like trophies and notices from the LiveArea when a challenge has been beaten. Another feature of the Vita, the Near app, could benefit from a free and simple app such as Treasure Park to introduce players to how much fun Near is for multiplayer gaming.
UntappedWake-Up Club really has a chance to be a surprisingly entertaining app that otherwise performs a rather mundane task on mobile devices not designed from the ground up for gaming. To be quite honest, the Vita has needed an alarm clock but the social aspect of Wake-Up Club sounds, well, weird. Here’s how to make it a Park-worthy app. Many games include time, but not many address time directly. One challenge within Alarm Park (Wake-Up Park sounds like the result of excessive partying) could be to use a Google Map of the world to match as many of the 24 official time zones with their respective times. Sound like equal part education and entertainment? Well, that’s the point. The “Park” series of free apps should be simple games designed to both entertain and inform you about the Vita. From learning how to use the front and rear touch screens to why your part of the world is given that time zone you always choose when setting your time, each app would have a purpose within the Vita.
The series could take other routine apps found within phones and tablets and turn them into Vita Park Series apps. Need a calculator app handy? Why not earn trophies by completing a series of challenges that focuses on those keys you rarely used in a scientific calculator? Would you like a calendar on your Vita? You could also play mini-games to hone your holiday knowledge, so you’ll always be aware of those upcoming holidays. Speaking of mini-games, how about playing a game comprised of mini-games, just to keep your reflexes sharp? Frobisher Says was released for free earlier this year, and compared in Official PlayStation Magazine in the UK as “Warioware on acid”. Frobisher Says should be renamed Frobisher Park, and released for free along with the other Park-Series games within a section of the PlayStation Store.
These similarly-named apps available and coming soon to the PlayStation have the ability of showing those familiar with casual games how much more is possible with a PlayStation Vita. Sony should be alerted of this potential and show the breadth of the system by turning these entertaining apps into informative games.