There’s still plenty of fight left in the PlayStation Vita, so long as you don’t need the AAA experience
In recent months we’ve heard an endless cacophony of cries that the PlayStation Vita is effectively dead. Thinking back, it seems like just months after Sony’s handheld workhorse released in North America in February of 2012, critics and consumers alike were ready to dismiss the system as a complete flop. This belief was fueled in no small part by the utter lack of first party support for the handheld, which fizzled out rapidly in the console’s early days. However, contrary to popular belief, there are still plenty of reasons these days to get your mitts on the handheld, so long as you aren’t looking for the definitive AAA experience.
When looking at the Vita’s position today, it’s important to note the history of Sony’s previous handheld, the PlayStation Portable. Outside of a handful of solid first party releases — particularly a pair of superb God of War titles — the system saw little support from Sony’s major development studios. However, long after the hardware manufacturer abandoned the platform, it became a sturdy foundation for niche developers and smaller Japanese publishers looking to release games in the west without having to develop costly titles on the current-gen consoles PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Even now in 2015, the console is still seeing releases. Ys developer Nihon Falcom’s very solid action-RPG,Brandish, launched this past February on PSP, and, more recently, their long-anticipated RPG The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, released on the platform just weeks ago, both courtesy of publisher XSEED Games. To this day, Sony’s debut handheld is praised by many as a fantastic platform for underrepresented franchises, despite the system’s middling sales figures.
That said, I think it’s safe to say we’re seeing much the same phenomenon happen in regards to the beleaguered PlayStation Vita. While we likely won’t see another big-budget title grace the platform in the way the Uncharted: Golden Abyss did alongside the system’s launch, publishers like ATLUS, XSEED Games, NIS America, Idea Factory International and KOEI Tecmo America have consistently been releasing quality games for the system. From last month’s fantastic releases Dynasty Warrior’s 8: Empires and Superbeat: XONiC to last week’s Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space, the Vita is still seeing a steady stream of titles well worth your gaming bucks, so long as you’re not put off by a library almost entirely propped up by anime-inspired releases and oftentimes liberal fanservice. However, if you’ve still held onto your Vita for all of these years, you likely know this already, and embrace these types of games to begin with.
While this year has had several exceptional releases for the Vita, there are plenty more games coming down the pipe for the handheld which should hold your attention well into 2016. Developer Nihon Falcom’s long-awaited epic, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (look for our review soon), is slated to bring grand adventure to the system in just over a week, and Bandai Namco’s absolutely gorgeous RPG, Ray Gigant, is poised to pounce onto the handheld early next year courtesy of publisher Acttil. These are just a few of the titles worth keeping your eyes peeled for in the coming months, with new releases being announced on a seemingly weekly basis. If history is any indication, it looks like the Vita’s finest days could very well lie ahead.
So, don’t call the coroner just yet – the Vita still has plenty of fight left in it. If you’re a fan of niche games and JRPGs, there are a wealth of titles both readily available and in the works that are sure to steal countless hours from you. If you’ve been on the fence about snatching up Sony’s latest handheld I say take the plunge, or at least consider picking up a PlayStation TV. There’s never been a better time to do so.
So, are you a Vita owner? If so, what has your experience been with the handheld? Do you regret your purchase? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below and let us know.