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Talking Point: Are We Neglecting the Strength of the Vita's Lineup?

Posted by Sammy Barker

There's plenty to smile about

When the PlayStation 3 was at its lowest, you couldn’t move for criticism. Every announcement, news story, and trailer was accompanied by a heated discussion; each unfortunate exclusive was forced to carry the weight of the entire machine. As the flagship format settled – its commercial fortunes reversed and operating system improved – the incessant analysis died down, and it allowed us to concentrate on the most important thing: the games. The software was always there, of course, but as opposed to the core of the plot, it was the subtext that filtered into a much larger – and often tedious – narrative. And the same is starting to occur with the PlayStation Vita.

Sales for the system are poorwe know. While its position has steadied a little in its native Japan – a well-timed price-drop and a slew of Monster Hunter-esque titles its saviour – the console’s position continues to dwindle overseas. And as a consequence, that’s the topic that’s on everyone’s lips. But the focus on the system’s retail failings seems to have overshadowed the more interesting story: the console's getting a lot of great games. And yet, as we navel-gaze over the shortcomings, are we losing focus of the platform’s real triumphs?

The truth is that beneath the pent-up demand for a so-called killer-app, the Vita has blossomed into a compelling piece of machinery. It may not be the gadget that we originally envisioned, but it’s grown into something even more exciting. It certainly feels niche – no doubt a reason for those lagging sales numbers – but the dedicated handheld market is changing, and, if we’re honest, the portable was never going to be anything other than that. But that shouldn’t detract from the console’s strengths: the dream of playing Call of Duty on a country garden bench may have been pushed to the side, but its absence has created an opportunity for a wealth of infinitely more interesting software to shine.

Take the recently released Hotline Miami. The dark, occassionally disgusting indie murder-‘em-up is nuttier than a fruitcake and more addictive than nicotine – but it’s brilliant on Sony’s slick little machine. The game plays like an absolute (fever) dream, takes advantage of the console’s unique inputs in intelligent ways, and fits the modern philosophy of portable gaming more snugly than a Rooster-style raid mask. It’s arguably the ideal Vita release, and it’s accompanied by dozens more of its kind, including – and by no means limited to – Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, Thomas Was Alone, and Guacamelee. These games may also be playable on the PS3, but why would you want to enjoy them anywhere else when they suit the Vita better than drainpipe jeans?

Sadly, it feels like the quality of these games has been mitigated while we all long for the celestial software on the non-existent horizon. Rejected like a reformulated recipe of Coca-Cola, it’s as if the current lineup is worthless because the console needs “big” titles to sell. But we’d take Velocity Ultra over pretty much anything else, and while your collection of blue cases may have trickled to a standstill, that doesn’t mean that the system is not securing some incredible games.

We’re not saying that the lust for blockbuster titles needs to go away – we’re looking forward to Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway, too. But if you’re letting your desire for big-budget games detract from your appreciation of the system’s overall offering, then you’re not getting the most out of the handheld at all. And while the abundance of underground indie hits may do little to elevate the hardware out of the retail ghetto that it currently resides, it shouldn’t take anything away from the quality of the software.


Are you satisfied with your Vita, or have you stashed it away until the next big game? Has the stream of indie software kept you glued to your console, or are you seeking your portable entertainment from elsewhere? Let us know in the comments section below.

How satisfied are you with the Vita’s lineup right now? (40 votes)

Very, the console’s securing some stellar games

33%

I like the indie titles, but wish there was more to look forward to

33%

Meh, I’m neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

8%

I play what’s available, but I’m pretty disappointed to be honest

18%

It sucks, I did not buy the system for minor releases

10%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (36)

ShogunRokAdmin

#1

ShogunRok said:

I'm going to sound a bit like a snob here, but despite the overall quality of available indie titles, they're just not enough to keep my attention at this point. Sure, I pick up the console and tend to have a blast with games like Guacamelee!, but the only title really forcing me to keep coming back is still Persona 4 Golden.

I'm all for smaller games that I can pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, but I really need something that I can envelop myself in - another huge RPG would be perfect.

And not that I necessarily think this way, but to many potential buyers, they see Vita's expanding indie catalogue as something that lumps the device in the same market as mobile phones - essentially painting the picture that Vita is little more than a console that plays mobile games which also happen to be more expensively priced.

For that reason among others, it feels like Vita has gotten a bit of a bad reputation as mentioned in the article. It's also a bit off putting to think Sony originally promoted the device as a home console experience in the palm of your hands, but until we get a slew of big budget games, they've been forced to take an entirely different route.

Squiggle55

#2

Squiggle55 said:

My favorite games are the indie games without a doubt. I spend more time with something like Guacamelee than any of the retail titles I've bought. Once the PS4 comes out I'll have my portable home console with remote play and hopefully the quality indie stuff keeps flowing.

irken004

#3

irken004 said:

The vita's been slowly getting me into indie games more, which isn't a bad thing at all. Not exactly what I expected when I first bought my system, but with the promise of KZ, tearaway and more on the way, indie titles have been a relief on my wallet and game cravings so far.

MadchesterManc

#4

MadchesterManc said:

Im looking forward to doing with the Vita what I did with the PsP, play Jrpg's on the go. Sure Im looking forward to Killzone n the like, but Im also looking forward to importing the likes of Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth too in the future. The indie titles are nice but thats not why I bought the Vita if Im honest and while there deos seem to be some great ones, they don't interest me enough. Luckily I only got a Vita the other day so Im late enough to the party to have a decent backlog of titles to keep me going till my imports start trickling in.

KALofKRYPTON

#5

KALofKRYPTON said:

I second the general sentiment of the article. There's stuff I'm playing on my Vita that I wouldn't have played on my PS3. This is not a bad thing for me. Plus has provided me with plenty to play, mostly stuff that I really enjoy including some of the physical releases I didn't get around to buying.
I'm still a fair way off finishing most of my Vita games-I confess that I don't actually finish most games, but as long as I've had my fun I don't mind.
I really think that Sony's indie smooching and the upcoming 'big' releases are enough to bring a few more big developers back to Vita.
It certainly has the potential now to fall within the PS4 remit of big budget behemoth and indie darling all in one.

get2sammybAdmin

#6

get2sammyb said:

@ShogunRok I don't think you're being snobby, I think you reflect the general consensus. And I agree that the smaller games don't necessarily hold my attention either - but the cool thing is that there's so many. I'm playing Hotline Miami right now, and when I'm done I'll be straight onto Stealth Inc. Then PixelJunk... It seems to be never-ending. And they're all awesome.

I do totally understand the disappointment on the flipside, though. It's an interesting topic, and must have Sony in a bit of a quandary really. On the one hand, I'd be happy if the Vita continued down this path. But I also understand why that would disappoint others.

Punished_Boss_84

#7

Punished_Boss_84 said:

We are neglecting the strength of the PS Vita lineup: in spite of "The PS Vita has no games" "PS Vita has no system sellers" The latter which is true and the former which if you search hard enough is incorrect. "Too Expensive" (Memory Cards/PS Vita) PS Vita? Not really (especially at the moment) the memory cards? We all know the answer.

Not what everyone wants but the announcements are incoming: http://www.gamesta.com/wrc-4-announced-for-october/

Toukiden, Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Z, Dragon's Crown, Valhalla Knights 3 and the above: prove that the platform must be a financially viable platform for third parties.

"It sucks, I did not buy the system for minor releases" Sadly, very sadly this is where i fall upon. I rarely buy small titles aside from Coconut Revitalised, Motorstorm RC (Voucher Discount) and another one i can't remember. Big releases this year is Toukiden, Killzone Mercenary, DBZ: The Battle Of Z and Tearaway. Big titles is where the majority of my play time lies.

KALofKRYPTON

#9

KALofKRYPTON said:

I haven't tried Hotline yet. It's on the list. I must say though Thomas Was Alone is a great game, I implore anyone to try it out.

Punished_Boss_84

#10

Punished_Boss_84 said:

@get2sammyb
No. But sadly as i stated above "It sucks, I did not buy the system for minor releases". it still applies for the future. Demos available?

I want the big games, i will play those games elsewhere. "Minor releases" were not the driving point of my original investment: games like Uncharted and Wipeout those were the driving point.

My point is i will not play minor games because i have done so before and regretted it e.g. Not played it or deleted it. if i buy little games i will definitely regret it: i will enjoy it and get bored quickly.

rastamadeus

#11

rastamadeus said:

I think the Vita has gone beyond worrying now. It's going to be around for a few more years and that's it while 3DS could well go on to break DS records and mobile phone/tablet games continue to thrive despite 99% being terrible. There was a topic about saving the Vita in the forums and although people argued for and against the general consensus was that the Vita will never be what we all want it to be but so what - just stop with all the crap and enjoy the great games it does have and the ones on the way.

Paranoimia

#12

Paranoimia said:

It sucks.

I love the Vita, but I want more triple-A stuff. I can't wait for Killzone Mercenary and Tearaway. Whether they are on Vita or PS3, I'm sick of "retro" style indie games. The retro style does not appeal to me in the slightest. I grew up during a time when every game looked like that, all the while longing for a time when things would advance to what we have today.

I would not call myself a 'graphics whore'; I'm not worried about smooth anti-aliasing or massive polygon counts, and I'll take a rock-steady 30fps with detailed graphics over a choppy 'almost' 60fps any day. But the game should at least look as if you've put some effort into it. Gameplay is king, sure - but I'm not interested how great the gameplay might be if it looks like something created in MS Paint.

I have bought retro-style games, but ones which at least look as if they've tried with the graphics. Ones I can think of off the top of my head are Gravity Crash, Crash Commando, and Blast Factor. If you include top-down or isometric as 'retro', you can add Dead Nation and all versions of Super Stardust to the list.

But I did not invest over £200 in a state-of-the-art handheld to play games which look 20 years old and could run on a Gameboy Advance, and every time they announce another 'retro' indie game, I can't help but roll my eyes and sigh. The Vita is a great machine, and deserves better software - much better.

ObviouslySheik

#13

ObviouslySheik said:

I really only get hooked on the big-name games like Need For Speed, Rayman, or Assassin's Creed. Persona 4 was one of those more niche titles that I picked up because I played the other three. And as far as digital-exclusives, Super Stardust is my favorite. But until the next big game, I'm investing my funds in PSone Classics. I find that games like those are more fulfilling and substantial than little indie titles.

charlesnarles

#15

charlesnarles said:

I bought a Vita ...and then I bought a 3dsxl cause I wanted to play MH tri (looks terrible, p.s.) and now I'm waiting for everyone's next move, and voted "pretty disappointed, honestly". All I play is MHFU and MGSPW on Vita. I'd love to love a game : Where the hell is the canon SH Vita game? Where is every sequel to every great PSP game except for VK3? What happened??

jgrangervikings1

#17

jgrangervikings1 said:

You've still failed to mention the biggest issue in your article. There are great games available for Vita, but by-and-large they're download-only games. Once the consumer has purchased the Vita, they have great gaming options available because they can buy thru PSN. For the average consumer, though, if they haven't purchased a Vita yet they're not going to because all they know is what they see in the retail stores, and that means they're only seeing 7-10 games and a whole lot of dust bunnies. Sony needs to figure out how to get the word out that there are loads of great games available, but they're not going to be found at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, or even Game Stop. They're online thru PSN.

8vpiper

#18

8vpiper said:

@jgrangervikings I think you hit the nail on the head right there! Price is not the issue well not in my country as Vita is cheaper or the same price as a 3ds depending where you shop. last month they ran a special Vita with cod or AC, 4gig memory card, and wipeout, motorstorm for roughly 200 dollars (I purchased a second Vita) There is games but does the average JOE know about it

get2sammybAdmin

#19

get2sammyb said:

@jgrangervikings Yeah, that's a very fair point. I wonder if Sony's considering putting together some retail compilation packs. I suppose that could help with visibility, right? And it's done something similar on PSP/PS3.

JavierYHL

#20

JavierYHL said:

vita is good,actually is so good that i am trying to find games just to play on it,for ps3 its games like last of us that make me turn on the ps3 and play...but for vita is i went to the psn store quite often just to find games so that i can play on it...i finished virtue last reward and i just download chaos ring yesterday...its such a waste sony...its the only gaming system i have that i prefer the device more than the games on it... :(

Gamer83

#21

Gamer83 said:

Honestly I love the system's current library. Yeah, the indie games won't help move the system off store shelves in big numbers but stuff like Guacamelee and Sine Mora are perfectly suited to handhelds. In fact I feel that way about the majority of indie titles and it keeps me coming back to the Vita. I also find myself replaying other games a lot. Mortal Kombat despite the hit in graphics is still phenomenal and I love having it on the go. Gravity Rush, Uncharted, Muramasa, MLB The Show, Sly... really love all of those as well and if Killzone Mercenary can match the quality of Killzone 2 (which I still play frequently despite it being an older game) then that will be another that keeps me coming back.

I do wish Sony would open the checkbook to Rockstar and Capcom though. Vita needs an exclusive GTA and an exclusive Monster Hunter.

CrimsonMoonMist

#22

CrimsonMoonMist said:

I love the Vita's lineup so far in spite of its lacking quantity.
Gravity Rush, Persona 4 Golden, Soul Sacrifice, Uncharted Golden Abyss, Little Big Planet, Muramasa Rebirth, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3... yeah, I wish there was more on the horizon, but for what it is right now, it's just fine.

SuperSilverback

#23

SuperSilverback said:

While its great the vita is getting so many indie games, i want more than just that. Words cant describe how much i want KZ Mercenary and Tearaway. I hope it picks up at some stage. The psp had so many awesome games, Birth By Sleep, Crisis Core, 3rd Birthday, Resistance Retribution, Dissidia, Liberty City/Vice city stories GOW Chains/ghost of sparta

Sutorcen

#24

Sutorcen said:

I am a happy Vita owner since February and I have to say that this is a dream come true for me. To be able to play PS3 quality games with controls to match, wherever and whenever I want is absolutely fantastic. Vita may not have the PS3 equivalent of The Last of US but it has some impressive games to show. LBP although an old game it is a masterpiece and a demonstration of what the PS Vita is capable of. Soul Sacrifice does a great job with its free DLC almost every two weeks. The indie games that have been released and those that will be, are among the best in the industry. I have to say that, since February Sony has done everything right with the Vita. Don't forget that we are in the second half of the second year of its life cycle, so the best is yet to come. If you have a Plus subscription (do get one it is worth it) then the Vita experience becomes even better. I too wish I could play a Mass Effect game or Dark Souls on my Vita, because I know it can handle it, but I will not complain with what I'm getting. Things will pick up, even more.

Punished_Boss_84

#25

Punished_Boss_84 said:

@Sutorcen
"I have to say that, since February Sony has done everything right with the Vita."
I know this is a PlayStation eccentric site but Really? In terms of marketing it really hasn't been good or existent. Where was the Soul Sacrifice TV Ad? Where Was The Gravity Rush TV Ad? Where Was The Sly Cooper and PSASBR TV Ads?
But to be fair its only recently kicked off in the UK:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49JFiib2Zac

Where is the PS Vita support worldwide? All but SCE Bend Studio ignore PS Vita. SCEE have some studios on it. SCEJ have one studio pumping out a lot of good games in addition to marketing and collaborating a lot PS Vita projects.

There are a lot of problems right now: but the the games drought ends in August anyway.

Jairo_MC

#26

Jairo_MC said:

@Paranoimia
I completely agree with you. I bought the Vita for the big guns that Sony promissed and has failed to deliver so far. The only reason that I don't regret buying a Vita is Persona 4 Golden and Gravity Rush. As for the indie titles I loved Sound Shapes and it is one of my favorite games on the system. However, after I bought Escape Plan on the first year discount, I was hugely disapointed and haven't bought others indie titles after that. I still have to play Tales from Space, which I'm enjoying, but I didn't buy the Vita for minor titles...
Honestly, I don't see the point of releasing a machine as powerful as the Vita and flooding it with indie titles that the PSP could handle...
This year I'm really looking forward to playing Killzone: Mercenary, even though FPS aren't my thing, just because I want something new to play. The only other title that I'm loong forward too is Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD.

Jairo_MC

#27

Jairo_MC said:

As for the article, I think Sony is ignoring the strengh and potential of the Vita... If Gravity Rush 2 was announced, I would be very, very happy as that game is great!

moomoo

#29

moomoo said:

Let me provide a perspective as someone who does not own a Vita.

I don't care what kinds of games any system provides as long as they're high quality. I do care, however, that I can only find them on that device. That's something the Vita is having major problems with. If Hotline Miami, Guacamelee, Thomas Was Alone, Sound Shapes, etc. were exclusive to the Vita, I'd have bought the system a long time ago. But I don't need to buy the thing to play most of the games I'd like to play on it. And unlike Nintendo machines, where I can count on Nintendo to bring software for its products, I honestly don't know how well Sony will support the Vita. There isn't a lot from Sony on the near horizon for the system, and it looks bleaker when you look at the longer term. It also doesn't help that they didn't touch on the Vita at all during the two E3 conferences since its release.

@sanquine Doesn't it rely on Near in major ways, though? I don't know if Freedom Wars will leave Japan...

moomoo

#31

moomoo said:

@Koto Heck, I'd just be fine if they had a memory card price drop. Like, make them the same price as SD cards. So basically drop it by more than half. And bundle the system with a bigger one and a game.

With such an emphasis on the digital environment, the insanely high prices of those memory cards discourage people from playing downloadable games. I get that Sony makes money off of them, but it's weird to see two things Sony has implemented not compliment each other.

AVahne

#32

AVahne said:

@moomoo
Unfortunately, I don't think Sony will ever drop Vita memory that low. Heck, their memory sticks are still ridiculously expensive compared to SD cards. I'm hoping for at least half off.
Better yet, for the holidays they should bundle a 32 GB card with a Vita for $250. No games necessary in that kind of bundle, especially if Sega finally gets off their butt and releases PSO2 in America.

JaxonH

#33

JaxonH said:

@ShogunRok So very well said. My thoughts exactly. While indies are nice, it's not what I bought a Vita for. I will say this- I own a 3DS and a Vita, and I really do love them both equally. The reason my 3DS gets 10 times the play as my Vita is simple- I own like 25 top-notch, triple AAA must have 3DS titles, with another 7 pre ordered, all of which contain as much if not more content than many console games, and the blockbusters keep on coming. Fire Emblem Awakening alone gave me 100 hours on the campaign, and has easily become my favorite game of all time. On the Vita side, it has Persona 4 Golden, which as you said, is easily the Vita's best release. But the fact it's a port speaks volumes for Vita's library. The games that DO come to Vita excel. Sonic Racing Transformed is far superior to its 3DS counterpart, and looks damn near as good as the Wii U version does on the gamepad. Rayman Origins is so amazing on Vita words cannot describe it, Gravity Rush is excellent, and I'm more than excited for Batman Arkham Origins- Blackgate. But that's not enough. Except for Gravity Rush, all of those games are multiplats and ports, and while still some of my favorite games, the Vita needs EXCLUSIVE games I can't buy on my Wii U or PS4 (when it launches). I wanted Bioshock Vita, a REAL CoD Vita, a Portal game on Vita... games like The Last of Us, on Vita. If Vita could obtain titles like that, if The Last Guardian was Vita exclusive, or if Vita could at least get a port of GTA5, I would be 110% satisfied, and the handheld would sell like hotcakes.

JaxonH

#34

JaxonH said:

@moomoo I agree. I WILL NOT BUY a 32gb memory card until it's $50 or less, and even THAT is more than twice what standard SD cards cost. My 8gb is full, so I stopped purchasing games from PSN. Haven't bought a game in over a year. And I've got a feeling I'm not the only one. Sony can be so dumb sometimes. If they'd just slash memory card prices by half (at LEAST half), more people, such as myself, would go out and buy a bigger one or an additional one. What would follow is nothing short of a miracle- WE'D START BUYING GAMES FROM PSN AGAIN!!! I'm a regular digital content consumer. While I don't buy retail games, I do buy indie games and Virtual Console games on the eShop, and between the Wii U and 3DS, I spend at least $20/mo on each system. I'd love to start spending money on PSN again, I've got cash in hand ready to give Sony. But they won't let me. Every month they keep the $100 price tag on a 32gb card, they lose at least $20 from me. So far that's around $240 in lost sales, and still counting. How does that make sense? Sorry for rambling, this subject just frustrates me...

JaxonH

#35

JaxonH said:

@Legendary-boss I wouldn't say that. There are a few notable releases- Dragon's Crown in August, Killzone Mercenary in September and Tearaway in October, and supposedly Final Fantasy X/X-2 and God of War ports in December (still not listed on Amazon, and still no release date or news of any kind- those games have become like a phantom all of a sudden). Throw in a Rayman Legends port (which looks amazing btw) and that's pretty much the lineup, well, everything that's worth talking about anyways. And only 2 of those games are 1st party exlusives. Sony's depending way too much on 3rd party support here (and too much on ports), and they're not getting it- not enough, anyways. I wouldn't care so much about 3rd party support if Sony were bringing an Infamous game, or a new God of War, or if Naughty Dog had actually ported The Last of Us, or even better, developed a Vita exclusive. Unfortunately that's not the case. And 2014 lineup is non-existant. I expected a thrilling showcase at E3, and they barely even mentioned Vita. It was all about PS4, and how Vita is the ultimate "companion piece". Ughh, I so did not buy my Vita to stream games from a $400 console that I may or may not buy (even though I pre ordered PS4, that's not a selling point to me). I bought Vita for exclusives, nothing less. And tbh, THAT'S what Sony doesn't get. They think most people buy handhelds for portability, and that's not the case anymore. Most 3DS owners such as myself, never play it on the road. I'm a gamer, and I bought it because I wanted to play the games it's offering that can't be found elsewhere. Same reason I bought Vita. I wanted the device for the must-have exclusives, not to play on the Metro Transit bus on the way to work. That's why bringing games like PS AllStars and Dragon's Crown don't sell systems- because people want more than just portability. But I will say this, the fall lineup is definitely a step above what we've seen in the last year, and you better believe I pre ordered Killzone Mercenary, Rayman Legends, and will pre order FFX and GoW when those are finally listed. Fingers crossed Naughty Dog will develop a Vita exclusive title

Sutorcen

#36

Sutorcen said:

@Legendary-boss I agree with everything you say. But…

As always big companies like EA and others follow the sales. The PS Vita sales are growing but nothing spectacular is happening, that is why they are under the radar (in the news) and that is why big companies don’t invest on the console. Apart from that, the press made a very good job sticking the "Vita has no games" and "Vita doesn't sell so it's not a good console" and “Vita has no killer app” labels on it. A stain that is difficult to get rid of, apparently. Most of which, by the way, were false. Vita had many games in its first twelve months. The Vita IS the best portable console because it offers everything one would want in terms of control, plus the power to match. The killer app everyone was/is looking for was and still is LBP Vita. That thing is a technical feat and flawlessly executed and I don’t even like the game so much. But I have to give credit where credit is due.

Almost a year and a half later and the Vita has 100+ games already released and 80+ are on the way since the beginning of 2013. Marketing may suck as you say but you cannot deny that since February 2013 the Vita and Vita games are in the news in one way or another mostly with good news and good reviews. This is where Sony is doing a good job. They have made Vita relevant again. Also don’t underestimate the indie scene; they create some of the best gaming experiences out there, ones that are out of the box. If Vita is the home for indies then it’s great news for us. The big names will soon follow.

In every lackluster console launch, so more with the Vita, the console either, withers and dies or it comes into its own in its second year and beyond. This has always been the case. By the looks of it the Vita will enter its second year with a bang. If we take into account that Sony has the price cut up it’s sleeve, that many first party studios have yet to announce games for 2014 and many third party studios will follow UbiSoft’s support for the Vita, then I only see the Vita going up.

Remember the PS3's first eighteen months;

And something else, indie game or not, the fact alone that the game you play on your Vita is exactly the same game of the PS3 version is second to none. No other portable console, mobile phone or tablet can recreate this. The Vita really makes you feel that you are holding a small PS3 in your hands.

Games that look like a PS3 game... Uncharted: GA. Gravity Rush, LPB, Wipeout, Rayman Origins, Virtua Tennis, all cross platform indie games and more...

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