psvita_oneyearold_top
Feb 24

We almost didn’t notice, but it turns out the PS Vita is one year old this weekend. Being the modest little handheld that it is, we thought we’d bake it a cake and surprise it with the birthday bumps!

When the PS Vita was first announced in January 2011 we were reasonably impressed with it, silly name aside. Sony’s decision to use commodity smartphone components was a wise move, one that they’ve recently repeated with the x86-based PlayStation 4. The launch games – particularly Uncharted: Golden Abyss – were suitably impressive, and once we got the device in our hands we were really satisfied with the high build quality of the device. Viva la Vita, we thought.

“we wait for a genuinely system selling game”

At the same time, everyone has been a little skeptical about Sony’s handheld. The original PSP suffered from a slightly generic and malnourished games catalogue, with the Nintendo DS ultimately beating it up and stealing its lunch money. This time around, whilst the Nintendo 3DS poses a threat to the PS Vita, ultimately the biggest threat to both devices (and arguably console gaming in general) has come from iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. £35 PS Vita games will always struggle against 69p or even free mobile games.

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It’s a bit too early to give a final verdict on the PS Vita, but Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai recently admitted sales were lower than expected, with Sony finally about to drop the PS Vita price, in Japan at least (down from ¥24,980 to ¥19,980 for the Wi-Fi model). The PS Vita’s main problem though, has been a lack of great games. Even in Japan, where the PSP performed quite strongly, the PS Vita is selling at a quarter of the pace of the original PSP (reaching the million sales mark in 42 weeks as opposed to the 10 weeks it took the PSP). It’s urgently in need of a killer app.

Whilst we wait for a genuinely system selling game to appear on the PS Vita, that’s not to say there aren’t a few games worth owning. So let’s take a quick look at some of the Vita’s best.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss

uncharted_gapsvitaThe stand out launch title manages to do an awfully good job of looking like a fully grown PlayStation 3 game. Its biggest strength is its biggest weakness – it’s too much like a PlayStation 3 game. It is very pretty though, and as a technical accomplishment, this is one of the games people use to showcase the PS Vita.

LittleBigPlanet

littlebigplanet_psvitaSackboy’s PS Vita debut is delightful. Whilst very similar to its PlayStation 3 brothers, LittleBigPlanet tries to make use of the PS Vita’s features, particularly the touchpad, for a bunch of new vehicles and mini-games. Once again Stephen Fry’s dulcet tones make the world seem a better place.

Persona 4 Golden

persona4golden_psvitaWhilst technically a revamped PlayStation 2 game, the long awaited Persona 4 Golden has been described by some as a masterpiece. One of the best JRPGs around, it mixes traditional RPG gameplay with quirky humour, schoolgirl miniskirts and television serial killers. An essential for any RPG fan really.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted

needforspeed_mw_vitaWhen releasing a console game on a handheld system, most publishers have a tendency to farm it out to a second tier developer, resulting in a pale imitation of the original. Criterion Games however, are a bit better than the average developer, and developed the PS Vita version of the game alongside the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, resulting in a PS Vita version that they say is “exactly the same game”. Which as it happens, is a very good game.

Gravity Rush

gravityrush_psvitaA tricky one to describe, Gravity Rush is a beautiful cel shaded game with a girl that flies around with a magic cat, manipulating gravity and hitting lots of things. Not entirely unlike Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, but a whole load more original. Created by the men behind the original Silent Hill, and initially developed as a PlayStation 3 title, Gravity Rush is something of a hidden gem, quietly being awesome.

Phantasy Star Online 2

phantasystaronline2_psvitaThe sequel to one of the best games ever made. At least, that’s what we’re obliged to say as hardened Sega fanboys. PSO 2 is due to be released this week in Japan, although a western release date is still unconfirmed (though the PC version has been confirmed so hopefully the PS Vita version will follow). While the concept of the online action RPG isn’t as revolutionary as it seemed on the Dreamcast twelve years ago, the prospect of PSO 2 on the PS Vita is still fairly mouth-watering.

Whilst a lack of good games is a real problem for the PS Vita (we’d have difficulty finding enough to compile an impressive top ten), at least there’s the PlayStation Store to keep gamers entertained. With a fairly decent catalogue of PSP and PSone titles to download (as well as a few indy titles), some people may find that the PS Vita makes a rather good PSP… if you happen to like obscure Japanese role playing games, you might be quite busy.

“The PS Vita may turn out to make a remarkably good device for streaming PS4 titles”

There’s an argument to be had that truly opening up the PlayStation Store in the same manner as the iTunes App Store would lead to a flood of good downloadable games appearing on the PS Vita. Sony has been making it easier for indy developers to release titles on the PS Vita, with the PlayStation Suite SDK and developer program providing a helping hand, but it’s nowhere near as free or open as the iOS or Android stores… that’s not strictly a bad thing though. As nice as an open app store is, it makes it difficult to release expensive AAA games when the customers have grown used to a 69p price tag – the result, as seen on iOS and Android, is a deluge of nickel and diming freemium games and poor quality control. Whilst it may be impossible for the PS Vita to compete with smartphones in volume, if it satisfies gamers and provides a ‘proper’ gaming experience in handheld-form, we’d consider that a battle won.

When the PS Vita launched, the original PSP was seven years old. So it looks like the PS Vita will have a good few years in it, providing developers continue to support it. At least Sony are making a genuine effort to pair it up with the PlayStation 4, aiming to provide remote play for as many PS4 titles as they can. Combined with Sony’s Gaikai-inspired video-based game streaming service, the PS Vita may turn out to make a remarkably good device for streaming PS4 titles (or even the entire PlayStation back catalogue).

So here’s to more good games and hoping the PS Vita has a few good years to come. Viva la vita! Have we said that already?



Published Sunday 24th February 2013 by Games Asylum


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About the Author
Adam Philbin

Adam Philbin

Adam is the human male who gave birth to the website you're looking at, with or without the help of glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery. Now a Games Industry Professional by day, he keeps the site functioning and looking pretty.

  • http://thevitalounge.com/ Paul Murphy

    Nice article, we’ve done a few similar ones. The potential PS4-Vita link up is very exciting, but I hope that it doesn’t start indicating the Vita as an expensive accessory to the PS4, it needs an identity in its own right and whilst also the deluge of upcoming indie titles is also fantastic, it won’t make it sell that many more. It still needs it’s own high quality titles that set it apart and make you have to have it. :)

  • chicago079

    i love my vita .i do a lot of streaming already,music and movies. skype has become my new phone and to have a library of all sorts of ps games, internet,facebookingt,twitter youtube,plus some web sites i wont mentio make this vita the best consumer investment in along time. dam a android,ios. i dont have lagging issues,hacking issues , and i dont mind paying a hundred for a memory card thats can only be used on MY VITA. plus cloud storage accross the board.

  • http://www.gamesasylum.com/ Adam P

    The pointlessly expensive proprietary memory cards for the Vita are a pain. I’d have much preferred it if Sony used MicroSD cards.

  • http://twitter.com/gamesasylum Games Asylum

    Sony are going to be putting free games on Vita memory cards soon, apparently. Probably one or two PSN titles.

  • Omer Pockard

    Not being able to reach a top 10 list is ridiculous. While I completely understand not wanting to include ports in a list such as this, the inclusion of Need for Speed Most Wanted invalidates that argument. There are many many phenomenal ports of PS3 games that match the originals quality easily.

  • http://www.gamesasylum.com/ Adam P

    A bit of hyperbole there. Although I can’t say there are 10 excellent games on the PS Vita myself. The list above wasn’t a Top 6 so Need for Speed’s inclusion is irrelevant in that regard – although it is a much better port than 95% of handheld games.

  • DarthSquab

    I’m playing my Vita a ton now with all the free games on PS+. Downloading Uncharted and Wipeout for free is amazing.

  • Vita

    I hate what the done to need for speed

  • Omer Pockard

    Rayman Origins, UMVC3, MK9, BlazBlue, MGS HD Collection, Ninja Garden Sigma, Virtual Tennis 4, Sly Cooper, Disgaea 3, FIFA, Knytt Underground, Stranger’s Wrath Plants vs Zombies, All Stars Battle Royale, Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing Transformed, Street Fighter X Tekken, Virtues Last Reward, Ragnarok Odyssey

  • http://www.gamesasylum.com/ Adam P

    In the style of IdiotToys;

    Would, Maybe, Wouldn’t, Wouldn’t, Would, Wouldn’t, Wouldn’t, Wouldn’t, Would, Wouldn’t, Wouldn’t, Would, Wouldn’t, Would, Would, Would, Wouldn’t, Wouldn’t.

    :)

    FIFA has to be taken off that list though, it’s an appallingly lazy port – FIFA 13 being 99.9% identical to FIFA Football (12), which in turn is a cut-down port of the PS3′s FIFA 11. EA were taking the piss.

  • http://twitter.com/gamesasylum Games Asylum

    “Ninja Garden” sounds like the best game ever.

  • http://www.gamesasylum.com/ Adam P

    Not as good as Pants vs Zombies.

  • Omer Pockard

    While I absolutely agree that FIFA was a lazy port, FIFA 11 was a great game and having a portable version of it is amazing (either the 12 or 13 roster version)

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