Despite my devout belief in the system, the Vita just didn’t have any games that excited me last year. 2016 was the first year that really made me feel like the end was near for my favorite platform on 2014. In speaking to Ross about which PS1 Final Fantasy he should play, and having already played VII together, I said VIII. After speaking to him, I decided I wanted to continue my playthrough I had began a few months prior. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to dust off the Vita and get some more quality time with it. Having been almost an entire year since I last used it, (I do own a PSTV which I have used since that time) it felt like I was picking it up for the very first time again.
I have the LCD Vita, which is much better than the OLED purists would lead you to believe. I had forgotten how light it was, how comfortable it was to hold. I thought to myself, “Wow, how did Sony mess this up?” Really though, how? The Vita was ambitious and perhaps poorly timed given the renaissance of mobile gaming that was occurring at the time of its release. The first year lacked punch, and many of the early big name exclusives were pretty bad (Resistance: Burning Skies immediately comes to mind). Even still, the Vita survived. In spite of everyone clamoring for its end, the Vita kept fighting. We were rewarded in 2014 with the likes of the two Danganronpa games and Freedom Wars, three of the best games on any platform in 2014. As recently as 2015’s PlayStation Experience we’ve seen Sony trying to play damage control, saying all these games are coming to Vita…in addition to PS4 where they wholeheartedly expect you to play them.
Sony, for all intents and purposes, is done making games for the Vita. Rumors of a Vita 2 are foolish to believe given the lackluster sales the platform has seen to date. The PS4 is Sony’s bread and butter. They tried to salvage they Vita by relegating it to a “must have” companion device for the PS4, but short of giving it away with the console, they just still can’t move units. Why is it that a surprisingly powerful handheld that flat out outclasses its competition in design and comfort can’t succeed? It’s because the people who made it never really believed in it.
It has to be the case. The PSP was a moderate success but was still crushed by the Nintendo DS. Sony wanted a second chance, but they obviously didn’t want to make the level of commitment they had to the PSP. The PSP was home to the likes of God of War, Twisted Metal, Crisis Core, Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo and too many others to list. It even had superior Killzone and Resistance games than the Vita. Meanwhile, the Vita is home to countless indie titles that feel right at home on the handheld, but those games don’t deliver on the lofty goals of the Vita bringing the home experience on the go. Even annualized sports games left the handheld in the dust after weak sales. Sony could have fixed it with an influx of quality titles from its top properties. Yes, we saw them use Killzone, Resistance, and Uncharted to varying degrees of success, but while the PSP made it seem that nothing was off limits, Sony was holding back from the Vita. Where was God of War? What about Twisted Metal? Not even a Patapon game to be seen? Gems like Tearaway, LittleBigPlanet Vita, and the stellar 2014 exclusives were too far between, leaving the Vita to be forgotten, a third class citizen behind its console cousins.
I still praise the Vita. I believe it is far superior to any handheld in design and comfort and second only to the Gameboy Advance SP in my heart because boy was that SP something special back in the day. I can’t go on anymore about how you should own a Vita because at this point, it’s better that you don’t. It wasn’t the Vita that failed or the fans, it was Sony that failed the Vita. Short of a miracle, I imagine this is the last I’ll write about the Vita. A review or two may cross my path, but the days of gushing over my handheld of choice are behind me now. Goodnight, sweet prince.