Despite years on commercial life support, the Vita’s become a niche gaming Mecca.
Say what you will about the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s long-neglected handheld is a hard system to put down. Ever since it first released in 2012, detractors have been quick to dismiss the Vita as dead in the water. Long abandoned by Sony themselves, it’d make perfect sense for the scrappy handheld to finally fizzle out, but it’s managed, against all odds, to carve out a strange niche in the modern gaming landscape, amassing some pretty devoted fans in the process.
Don’t believe me? This week alone we’ve seen three Vita games land in our inbox for review. In fact, we’ve seen more support for the Vita this month that we did in January of 2016.
So, what is it that’s keeping the Vita alive these days?
RPGs mostly. The PlayStation Vita has become something of a refuge for Japanese role-playing games that aren’t quite of PlayStation 4 quality and would likely be overlooked on the PlayStation 3. Publishers like KOEI Tecmo, Idea Factory International, and NIS America have largely been pulling the weight for the Vita, delivering some pretty exceptional ports and remasters of some of last-gen’s more noteworthy adventures, while tossing in a few original releases for good measure. While that means you’re not likely to find many AAA blockbusters on the handheld, there’s almost always a slow trickle of grand, 50+ hour adventures being released. That said, despite Sony’s radio silence when it comes to talking about the system, it’s become a must-own device for fans of the dungeon-crawler genre, or those wanting to play some of the last-gen’s better epics on the go.
The Vita has also proven to become the platform of choice for the pervier players who prefer a bit of privacy when it comes to some of the more risque romps released in recent years. From controversial RPGs like the BDSM-themed RPG Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors or Gal Gun: Double Peace, an arcade-style light gun game that literally has shooting shooting schoolgirls with a pheromone gun until they collapse in orgasmic bliss, the Vita has plenty of titles to keep those sweaty-palmed acolytes of Japan’s fleshier distractions thoroughly entertained, free to partake in the seedy action from the privacy of their 5’’ screen of shame. Considering the likelihood of these kinds of games ending up on the 3DS is essentially zilch thanks to Nintendo’s image as a more family-oriented company, Sony’s more lax approach when it comes to controversial content has ensured the Vita is the handheld of choice for this particular demographic of gamers.
Another niche genre that’s found some surprisingly sturdy footing on the Vita is the visual novel genre. Which comes as no surprise, as games that require such a great deal of reading are obviously better suited for a screen that you’ll likely have just a few inches from your face. From the metaphysical adventure Steins;Gate 0 to the gritty anime-inspired crime thriller Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, these text-heavy epics simply shine on Sony’s trusty handheld, and are arguably much more enjoyable than their console-bound counterparts.
Make no mistake, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Vita – at least not for Sony. But while the handheld has had trouble finding any semblance of commercial success, it’s gone on to become a platform that’s thrived on giving more obscure titles a place to call home. And even now, nearly five years since it first hit retail, there’s more than enough quirky fun to be had for players looking to dabble in someone of gaming’s lesser appreciated genres. Just be ready for plenty of fleshy fan service. It’s nigh inescapable.
Not bad for a system that’s been on life support for the past few years, eh?
So, are you a proud Vita owner? If so, what games are you looking forward to playing in 2017? Furthermore, what are the kinds of games that keep you coming back to Sony’s underappreciated handheld? As always, we love to hear what’s on your mind. Be sure to sound off in the comments and let us know.