Hustle Kings Vita – E3 Preview

Hustle Kings is no stranger to the PlayStation 3, having released in late 2009 in Europe and early 2010 in North America. Boasting incredible visual fidelity as well as a patch to support the PlayStation Move, it really is the go-to pool simulator for billiards fanatics everywhere. Now the game will be coming to the PS Vita, and we’ve got our hands-on preview after the break.

Hustle Kings is being developed by VooFoo Studios, who developed the original PS3 version. I was told it is approximately six months in development, but what I did see was already extremely polished. First and foremost, it was mentioned that Hustle Kings on the Vita will support cross-play, which means that PS3 and Vita owners alike can engage in multiplayer rounds. The game will utilize the same “HKC” in-game currency system as a reward for playing well, which can be used to “purchase” various sticks, chalks and more. In addition, all DLC available for the PS3 version of the game will be available for the Vita version. No word on if you have to re-purchase said content yet though, but if the DLC remains the same files then a re-purchase is unlikely.

Touch controls are enabled by default, and actually make sense here. You can position the cue with the left analog stick while setting your spin on the cue ball by simply touching its graphic in the lower-left portion of the screen. To shoot, you drag a finger on a graphic of the pool stick located along the right-hand side of the screen to move it back, then thrust your finger forward as hard as you would like the shot to be made, and in as straight a manner as possible to ensure an accurate shot. This type of game lends itself nicely to touch-based controls; it feels just as natural, perhaps more so, than the game did with the PS Move.

Beyond using the front touch screen, the rear touch pad also played a role in Hustle Kings on the Vita. In this demo you could use the back touch pad to simulate rubbing the tip of your cue stick with chalk to increase shot responsiveness. It’s a novel use which makes more sense than simply shaking the handheld. The PS Vita’s internal inertial sensors were also shown in use here. Using a special mode of the in-game camera, you could rotate your view from any ball on the table by simply moving the PS Vita. Speaking of cameras, you can also use the PS Vita’s front camera to take a picture of yourself to use as your character’s avatar, something which we are seeing a lot of with games on this platform.

Overall, Hustle Kings is looking to come over to the PS Vita as a faithful reproduction of its PS3 counterpart, and then some. The game looked gorgeous on the PS Vita’s 5-inch OLED screen, with an impeccable framerate to boot. With easier controls than even the Move-enabled version, cross-play multiplayer across platforms, and a unique asynchronous multiplayer option where you take turns with another player (ala Words With Friends on mobile platforms), followers of the staple bar/pub game will no doubt be in for a treat when Hustle Kings launches on the PS Vita.