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?