Wake-up Club is a social alarm clock for the Playstation Vita. That is a mouthful, because a social alarm clock is a foreign concept to the entire human race. I will give credit to Sony for legitimately innovating on the very concept of the alarm clock, and coming out with something that is compelling. However, technical limitations end up marring what could be a great experience.
Social alarm clock?
Wake-up Club is a free download from the PSN store on the Vita, and doesn’t take up very much space. When you first open it, you are presented with a fairly Spartan home screen. You can set or modify alarms, go to a settings screen, and check statistics. You can select from a variety of backgrounds for your home screen; I use a Gravity Rush theme.
Setting an alarm is simple enough; you set what time you want to wake up, and what days of the week that alarm should be active on. You can set an alarm tone of your choice from the predetermined list, but you cannot use your own custom alarm tone. I personally find that the loudest alarm volume setting, along with the volume on the system all the way up, is too quiet for my tastes. However, there is one other setting, and it is the crux of this application: Whether this is a normal alarm or a Wake-up club alarm.
Wake-up club alarms require an active connection to the Playstation Network because they are social. You and 11 other people that have the same alarm time will be put into a group. When your alarm goes off, you wake up like normal. Then, you see whether or not the other 11 members of your group have woken up. You can encourage sleepyheads to wake up by tapping their avatars. Doing so sends them “encouragement” to wake up, which is transmitted in the form of some kind of annoying audio chirp. You can send encouragement as fast as your finger can slap the screen. The Wake-up club is successful when everyone wakes up, but it fails if at least one person remains snoozing 5 minutes after the alarm rings.
So what’s the point of Wake-up Club? There’s something neat about working together to get everyone out of bed, and I don’t think anything like this has ever existed before, but is there anything more? The answer is yes: there’s Trophies. This is an alarm clock… with Trophies. On my first use of the app, I got a bronze trophy for waking up successfully, a second bronze for being the first in my group to wake up, and a gold trophy because our club was successful.
The app suffers from two major flaws. I want to reiterate the lack of volume on the alarm. Unless you use external speakers or headphones, this will not wake you up. I have to use my phone’s alarm to get up in the morning. This is probably due to the limits of the Vita’s external speakers. However there is what I consider to be a much bigger problem.
If you do not leave Wake-up Club as the active app on the Vita, that is, if you leave a different app open, or you go to the Vita’s home screen, the alarm will simply not work. The Vita can be in Standby mode, but the last active app has to be Wake-up Club. This means I have to have the presence of mind to turn on Wake-up Club before I go to bed, and leave it on that screen. While Wake-up Club is a “small app”, which means it can run while you have a game in standby mode without interrupting it, the very fact that I have to remember to “set my Vita to alarm clock mode” goes against what I am used to in my life. My phone has an alarm clock. As long as my phone is on, it will go off at the time I set it to. Sadly, this likely isn’t the app’s fault, but more of a flaw in the nature of the Vita itself. Nevertheless, I have to judge the app based on what it is capable of doing.
Oh, and there’s a Trophy for waking up less three seconds after the alarm goes off. No matter how fast I press the screen to wake up, I can’t get my time under three seconds, and I’ve tried doing this several times in a row, even with my Vita in active (not Standby) mode.
THINGS WE LIKED A LOT
- The concept is legitimately novel
- The execution of it feels whimsical and cute at times
THINGS THAT NEED IMPROVEMENT
- Alarms just aren’t loud enough
- Will only function if left as active app in Standby mode