Augmented Reality. Shoehorned into to most devices in some fashion these days in a bid to impress the user, although in reality this is all there is to do. More like apps rather than full, engaging experiences. The PlayStation Vita has quite a few itself, some of which are free and some which are almost free, such is the inexpensive tag attached to them. But even at a cheap price, are they worth the cost?

Rather than review each individually, which would in effect be pointless – each would only yield a couple of hundred words at the most – I have grouped them all together for you in one place. Some of these are not really games as such, and serve as mainly a tech demo for the Vita. But I’ll group it and score it anyway. So, you’ll need those six AR cards that came packaged with you Vita that you probably ignored. If you threw them in the bin, fret not for you can download them from here.

fireworks ps vita
Remember, remember the 5th of November. Well, remember the 2nd, as that’s my Birthday!

What better way to set a party off than with a few fireworks, so it seems apt that it is where we begin. Fireworks is a free application that serves very little purpose. It has no trophies, but it has leaderboards. Using AR cards 1,2 or 3 you create an enviroment akin to a household fiirewords display. the fireworks start setting off and you use the touch screen to detonate the fireworks, and you will accumulate a higher score the closer you get to the optimum detonation. There are 152 different firework types to unlock in total and you will encounter and unlock these along the way in three different play modes.

Tabletop sees you using the cards on a flat surface, infinite uses the cameras and the world around you in a quest to score as highly as you can whilst challenges will have you in three different difficulties attempting to hit the targets. It’s fun for a short while, but you wouldn’t pay for it.

cliff diving image ps vita
It’s about as much fun as Splash was on TV.

Fun for a little while also applies to Cliff Diving. Creating a diving platform from your AR cards, you attempt to clear and unlock 6 worlds (and a custom one) and complete all of the diving requirements within. Using the X button, Dan the diver will run to the edge of the dive board, upon which you hit the button to alter his trajectory, fall through hoops and all sorts of other silliness. As you progress through these challenges you find yourself needing to increase your adrenaline, and press a different button upon diving too. Or you mess up your diving, leaving Dan with a hefty medical bill. Luckily you earn money from successful dives.

table football ps vita image
It’s not as good as FIFA 13.

Rounding up the free applications, we have Table Football, which requires all six AR cards. Three of which will make the pitch, two for the stands and number six makes for a nice scoreboard. After you are good to go it runs you through the basics and you will very quickly see that this is an AR version of Subbuteo, in that everything is controlled by flicking, and it all gets quite tactical. Play a pass and move your player sort of thing. Well, it would if it was any good, which it isn’t. Good job it’s free!

Probably the best one here. But no NHL.The next few aren’t free, but are pretty cheap. And have trophies. Staying with the sporting theme we have Table Ice Hockey. Using cards one, two and three you create a far more aesthetically pleasing recreation of a sports ground which actually places pretty well.

Passing and shooting is pretty good and works well, and you can have a good of punch up too if you irritate the opposition enough. You face off and press on on the face buttons when prompted, then use X to pass and O to shoot whilst using the left stick to skate around. The game is packing 13 trophies, one of which is a well loved ad-hoc one, so if you get this and want the set you will need a friend with the game too.

The matches are quite fun and for the price you can’t really grumble and if you give it a shot, you will find something to entertain you for a short while and a decent and quick approximation of the sport. Not forever though, so seriously EA, can we have a proper Vita NHL title please?

table top tanks image ps vita
If only it did look this good!

Moving on to something completely different we have Table Top Tanks. Packing 15 solo missions, you use your cards to generate a battlefield around you and then attempt to progress through many different challenges, some of which involve collecting flags, and some which involve the obvious destruction of other tanks. If you imagine some military based Micro Machines, lovingly brought to life via AR on your Vita then you get to blow other things up, you are pretty much there. These challenges progress from simple objectives to  multiple ones and will certainly keep you occupied. Once you have done this, you can also play against human players via ad-hoc if you know anyone with the game. It would have been nice to have played it online though.

It’s quite fun, once you get used to the way the tanks handle, and use the left stick to move, the right stick for aiming and you use the shoulders for shooting either machine gun rounds or rockets if you have any. It will fill a few minutes here and there if nothing else!

pulzar ps vita image
You made me point my Vita at the ceiling to tell me that?

Rounding us up we have PulzAR. it’s an interesting puzzle game, which uses all six cards. PulzAR requires you to place AR cards down to aid you in powering a missile silo with a been of energy, using reflective mirrors and so on before the clock winds down in order to save the world from a meteor strike. As you progress through five different difficulties, with 5 levels in each one. The game certainly gets quite difficult and challenging but will more than keep you busy.

All of the games suffer with little niggles that go with the territory, the need to keep the Vita in a reasonably restricted position, keeping the AR cards in view andbest played in short blasts, rather than offering you engaging exeriences. You will notice that I haven’t scored the games. There is very little point, seeing as they are either free or a close to it. Table Ice Hockey and Table Top Tanks in particular are worth a little look if you have a spare bit of change, and PulzAR will offer a little challenge to you for a spare 5 minutes here and there, but that’s all they will offer.

  • Kyle Wakeling

    I was actually going to shell out some cash, and get all of these to try before I heard Paul was reviewing them; damn am I glad I waited. It seems the only ones I might like are Pulzar and Table Ice Hockey, and I don’t think they’re worth the cash right now. There aren’t enough good AR games to justify me pulling out the cards and having a game, not to mention the hiccups and freakouts associated with precision camera holding. Thanks for saving me some money, Paul. 😉

  • Vince Harris

    PulzAR is quite fun, for puzzle fans. But sometimes if you move the Vita it gets confused about the cards, which seems to happen with most AR games, sadly. Also you can’t really play these games in public, which kind of defeats a lot of the purpose of having a handheld. Hahah. But PulzAR is definitely my favourite, and I did enjoy moving the cards, rather than pressing any buttons. And I think Tabletop Football is the worst. The controls just didn’t work at all and I could barely get it to register my field set up. Glitchy as anything.

  • PrimevalPanda

    @teflontactics:disqus Only one that I have played so far that you already know is PulzAR and for the little cost it was worth it. Shot through all the trophies in about an hour or two as the puzzles were easy to figure once you placed the cards in the exact spots you needed them to be in in the later levels.