Vita Heaven & Hell


I am now approaching my third week with the PS Vita and am happy to report that all is well. I'm still getting plenty of mileage from it and remain utterly clueless as to what I'm supposed to be doing with Near. I finished my first playthrough of Uncharted Golden Abyss last night - check back later this week for a review - and although I'm still plugging away at Lumines Electronic Symphony, I'm becoming increasingly reluctant to put in the time needed to boost my high scores. On Saturday I played Voyage mode for a solid hour only to miss my high my 2000 bollocking points!

I still have Rayman Origins to keep me busy and though I very much doubt I'll get the platinum (fucking Black Market nonsense), I do like the idea of playing through Golden Abyss one more time on hard/crushing. Super StarDust Delta is the only remaining launch title that I have any real desire to play, and I'll probably download it later this month. Once they are all out of the way, there is only one more confirmed release in the next six months that tickles my fancy: Gravity Rush (June).

Sony certainly delivered on their promise of a strong first and third party launch line-up, but we don’t yet know whether there will be a constant stream of quality games continuing into the foreseeable future, as Sony suggested. Worrying rumours persist that developers are abandoning the Vita in preference of the 3DS, though there has been little in the way of proof.

Last week, Sony announced that worldwide Vita sales had reached 1.2 million units. A little over half of this can be attributed to Japan, where it has been on sale since mid-December, with the remainder split between other territories. Unfortunately, Sony did not offer a region by region break down. Whatever the final split may be, by all accounts the Vita’s week one performance in the UK was underwhelming at best. Reliable figures are surprisingly hard to come by, but even the most optimistic of reports paint a pretty dismal picture. It has been reported that anywhere between 45,000 and 61,000 Vitas were shifted in the opening week. Taking the lower figure, this would be only half the number the 3DS managed at launch and a quarter of the PSP's record breaking debut, though clearly that product arrived at a very different moment in time, pre iPhone, iPad and android.

I don't intend to dwell on the reasons for this - price, shitty economy, dominance of mobile gaming, an ancient Egyptian curse, not necessarily in that order - but clearly it has not been the most impressive of launches. In Japan, sales are dropping by the week, consistently dwarfed by the 3DS’ takings and even lagging behind the PSP, though this cross-generation comparison is misleading as the last few weeks have seen a number of high profile exclusives for a seven year old console that is still hugely popular in its home territory.

A Vita exclusive Final Fantasy VII remake? You know you would!

I'm sure we can all agree that the more attractive, exclusive games the Vita can offer the better. To this end, Sony will be holding a Vita dedicated mini-conference on 9th March, to be streamed live. The "Welcome! PlayStation Vita Game Heaven" event is expected to reveal a number of previously unannounced games and is to be attended by a host of prolific designers, all eager to introduce their latest and greatest and swear fealty to the Vita.

Expect the announcements to be Japan-centric, not necessarily catering to western tastes. I have already read rumours of a continuation of the Phantasy Star Online series, but the franchise that everyone will be hoping for is of course Capcom's Monster Hunter. Currently raking it in on the 3DS, a new Vita exclusive MH has the potential to reverse Sony's early fortunes close to home; such is the popularity of the series. We can also expect lots of new apps and don't be surprised if Sony starts giving more information on core franchises moving over to Vita. We have yet to hear anything much of Little Big Planet, and Infamous could be a winner for Sony’s twin-sticked, sexy mutha.

Sony would do well to nab a Fumito Ueda exclusive and have him fidget uncomfortably in front of the camera for five minutes, though this is admittedly a long shot considering the tortuous development of The Last Guardian and his move to a freelance role.  Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi would be a huge coup; a Last Story port would be interesting, but a brand new IP would be even better, something to make the RPG faithful take note and consider putting down their DS.

With a view to increasing fortunes in the West, perhaps we will hear more about the already confirmed Call of Duty. I think a Modern Warfare 3 spin-off would pay dividends, featuring a brand new campaign and offering cross platform multiplayer, twined with the console version. I doubt it would be technically possible, but if it were feasible to provide the exact same multiplayer, with cross platform levelling and stats, it would be huge. I don't think Sony/Activision would have any problem getting the CoD faithful to invest in the opportunity to continue their fragging away from the sofa.

If Sony really wanted to make a splash they could always turn to Square-Enix for help. If I were Sony, each and every day I'd be delivering a suitcase full of money to SE HQ in hopes of convincing them to remake Final Fantasy VII as a Vita exclusive. Can you imagine how many consoles that would sell? As a fan of the series I think a FFVII remake is a daft idea, but I'd still sure as hell buy it. Of course, this is all highly unlikely as why would Square-Enix want to limit themselves to just one platform when they have a game with such mass appeal, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Sony has succeeded in buying Final Fantasy exclusivity (see FFVII – X and XII). I do expect a Final Fantasy related announcement on Friday, but in all likelihood it will be something along the lines of a Vita Theatrhythm or perhaps an expanded version of FFVII: Before Crisis.

What Vita games are you hoping for and how would you build upon a relatively disappointing launch?

Comments

  1. I am pretty sure the kind of games they could announce at this event are a bit out of my wheelhouse. Maybe LocoRoco 3? That is something I really want.

    I think some more series I'd like to see on the Vita would be one of Sony's cartoon platforming series, Patapon and Syphon Filter. Maybe just some representatives in the sandbox and action genres.

    I did enjoy the launch line-up myself though. I could see myself grabbing Ninja Gaiden, Super Stardust and maybe Escape Plan at some point. I am very much looking forward to LittleBigPlanet, Gravity Rush and seeing more on Killzone

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    1. As much as I would like to see a Syphon Filter, Patapon and LocoRoco I don't see them as games that would help sell the Vita. I'd certainly buy them though!

      Gravity Rush looks really interesting & a real, uniquely Vita experience. I hope we get more games of that ilk. I won't but Super Stardust until I'm completely fed up with Lumines. Having two games on the go that are that addictive would not be a good idea!

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  2. As blasphemous as this will sound, I'd like to see The Last Guardian switched over to being a Vita exclusive. Both for the Vita's sake, and because I am a shameless colour whore who has been given a OLED screen. On a similar note, I'd be extremely happy to hear Vita and IdolM@ster in the same sentence. I've never seen anything (in nature or onscreen) that comes anywhere close to being as rich and vibrant as IdolM@ster 2 on LED, so I'm dying to see it on the new screen.

    Monster Hunter will make me happy, obviously, as will the inevitable Project Diva announcement. I think a Monster Hunter would actually help the US Vita more than anything. I'm stunned at how many times I've heard MH brought up in the last two weeks, without me ever mentioning it. I'll be surprised if the Japanese hunters can be lured away from the 3DS at this point. It's too social there, and Nintendo has the money to keep MH4 locked down for eternity, should they be wise enough to do so.

    What I'd like most is a killer new Vita IP. Something that bridges the gap between the eclectic nature of handheld games and the mainline gaming universe.

    The 3DS may be kicking ass now, but it was floundering before it got rescued by the price drop, Monster Hunter, and Mario Kart. Sony could pull off the same thing with a price drop, HD San Andreas, and Final Fantasy. Get the Vita to $300 for the system, a AAA game, and a memory card by this Christmas, and we're all in good shape.

    Plus, it's the only portable device of any kind that's ever going to be embraced by sports gamers. If Vita FIFA and Madden get shiny reviews, they could easily move several million systems in the English markets.

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    1. I wouldn't be surprised if you got your IdolM@ster wish. the Last Guardian would be interesting, though I think it would be (wrongly) seen as an acceptance of defeat on Sony's part. They couldn't get it finished on their flagship console, so they moved it to the little brother, or something like that. For my money, I don't think we are ever going to see LG on any console. Just my feeling and based on Ueda's position, Sony's reluctance to give anything concrete on the game and the fact that its been 2 1/2 years since it was first announced and to my knowledge there has yet to be a playable demo, even at behind-closed-door events.

      I think we are all waiting to see how long Sony will hold on before the price drop. Unlike Nintendo, I think Sony see their portable as more of a high-end gadget and they need the price to reflect this, so they may hold off longer before introducing any significant cut. Hopefully they will try to justify the Vita's price tag with an unmatched release schedule of quality software as opposed to lessening the value of the hardware, which would be great news for those of us who have already invested.

      And yes, I completely agree with your FIFA and Madden point.

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