Note: this article has been moved and is now outdated. Please see the Asynchronous Gaming Wiki for the latest version.
Super Stardust Delta from Housemarque on the PlayStation Vita is a critical darling, capturing just about everything that made Super Stardust HD on the PlayStation 3 so great. The score chase mechanic is in full force here, with separate online leaderboards per game mode letting you see where you measure up against people on your PSN friends list, or around the world.
The Vita handheld comes in two variants, a WiFi version and a 3G version. We know that Trophies and Near Game Goods will be cached and synchronize when the user reconnects via WiFi at a later time, but what happens to your all-important Super Stardust Delta high score when the Vita isn't connected via WiFi?
Updated 2012-05-25: See below for information from the developer on how this game uses NEAR.
Super Stardust Delta has Trophies, and it also supports Near's Game Goods feature. The Game Goods sent (and received) consist of individual song unlocks in the multiple soundtracks available as background music as you play. These include soundtracks such as Arcade and Orchestral should you decide to change those Soundtracks as you play. The song unlocks are generic -- they will simply unlock the next song you haven't unlocked yet (if any are available). Delta will inform you when you start the game up whether a Near item is ready for upload or not.
Super Stardust Delta's implementation of their leaderboards initially confused me, but in the end worked admirably. If you can't get on WiFi, the system can't connect to the PSN, and any high scores earned are shown on the system as belonging to a generic "User" instead of your PSN name. This was initially alarming -- there was no indication as to whether or not that was permanent or what would happen with that score when I did reconnect. But once you do reconnect to WiFi and run the game, it does indeed synchronize your scoreboard up and assign your proper PSN name to that score.
Delta enhances the score chase mechanic by informing you about changes to your friends' status on the leaderboards. Did someone beat your score while you were away? Are you now in last place for a given game mode? Did you lose the top spot in a given game mode? It will tell you as much. These are all excellent ways to spur players on to play your game more. Other developers should take note.
We'll find in future entries in this series that not all games support the Vita as well as Delta.
PSNation.org has posted information from Housemarque on how NEAR is used by Super Stardust Delta. Here's what they had to say:
“Gifts automatically increase score on the “received gifts” leaderboard, and they unlock songs from the “Retro” soundtrack in Super Stardust Delta, but only under certain conditions.
A track is unlocked + a gift is sent if…
- The game is started for the very first time
- The game has been played for more than an hour (since a previous track unlock)
- It’s been 12 hours since previous track unlock
…In all those cases the game sets a new gift for others to download within 1km in NEAR
Players can download more gifts than there are tracks on the retro soundtrack (but that will still of course affect the gift leaderboard), but they will not unlock anything more.”