As e3 2014 (or as I like to call it, Christmas in June) rapidly approaches, I would like to share a more general hope of mine: Namely, that the PS Vita gets some proper attention.
I actually got my Vita by accident, but boy did it turn out to be a happy one. To cut a long story short, if you ask for a Playstation 4 as a Christmas present from a family of non-gamers, draw a picture or something, because otherwise they might wander into a game store, ask for a “Playstation thingy”, and somehow manage to wander out again with a Playstation Vita (which is, technically, a “Playstation thingy”, but obviously not the one I was after).
Anyway, after some initial “what the f*** is this shit….” unpleasantness on Christmas Morning, I quickly grew to love my Vita. I was hesitant at first (even though console gaming has mostly shaken off the ‘for children’ image, a 32 year old man playing with a handheld in public, is, let’s be honest, still something of an eyebrow raiser), but it’s portability was an immediate bonus, as I often spend a lot of my time travelling. Similarly, the power of the Vita is impressive, making it a genuine on-the-go gaming experience, certainly much more than previous handhelds, and some titles are every bit as enthralling and complete as they would be on consoles.
Then there are the additional quirky features (touchscreen etc) that could’ve been over-gimmicky, but actually work quite well, and generally add to the immersiveness of the experience, as in Uncharted: Golden Abyss, for example (at one point, I needed to hold the Vita up to a bright light, but I was on a plane, so that meant turning on the reading light, climbing on my seat, and generally looking like an idiot, but I wasn’t even bothered….)
Finally, there are a lot of games for the Vita, and more importantly, they’re easy to get hold of, thanks to the PS Store. I had an original PSP, and finding games was always something of a mission, but now it’s so easy, and with PS One, PSP, Minis, (plenty of) Indies, and Vita games all available to download at the touch of a button, the Vita has been a revelation.
All that said, though, I think it could benefit further still from more games, particularly ones that have taken all the above into account. With a bit of care and thought, developers could really carve out a niche for the Vita, making it a genuine, must-have part of the gaming canon: In other words, making the Vita vital!!
Obviously, porting a console game onto it, and then adding things to utilise the touchscreen etc is one option, and can be great if it’s done well, but I think there’s ample scope to create awesome vita games from scratch; in essence starting with those features, and then building a brilliant game around them, like with Gravity Rush, say. Similarly, even though Indie developers have so far had success with the Vita format, I’d suggest a couple of them really pushing the boat out, and nailing a quirky, yet full-length game for it would be a smart, and mutually beneficial move.
Clearly, a lot of eyes are going to be on the next-gen games at e3 2014, and how Sony and Microsoft compare, but I’d argue that just a couple of well-conceived, well-developed, and ultimately well-made games for the Vita could really make it pop, and give Sony the edge at e3, given that the Vita is a (vastly under-utilised) Ace-up-their-sleeve.
Hopefully, fingers crossed, this will be the year they finally play it, so watch this space for more PS Vita news……