The PS Vita is an impressive little handheld. It’s got unprecedented power for a portable device, can stream games from the PS4, and has an intuitive interface that just feels right, even on the most hardcore of games. In many ways, it was braced to be the portable haven for gamers away from home. That was its target audience. Somehow, that didn’t end up being the case.
It’s probably a result of piss poor marketing on Sony’s end. It was the same fate that the PSP suffered, in fact. The company didn’t promote the handheld well, didn’t offer any compelling bundles, and, before long, first party support dropped off for the console. Major third party developers also stopped showing up after the initial launch.
Early titles, like Uncharted : Golden Abyss demonstrated what the PS Vita was capable of. That game looked great, felt great, and offered an untold perspective into the narrative of an already popular series. If more exclusive titles like this debuted on the handheld, it would have had a healthier lifespan. Gamers may have actually been motivated to buy it. Instead, a bulk of the handheld’s sales were motivated by its compatibility with the PS4 around the time of the console’s launch. That draw didn’t last long, however. The PS Vita isn’t a total loss, though. For some gamers, it is actually the perfect platform.
It’s true that most adult gamers in the world have to drive themselves about. As such, it would be impossible or, at the very least, unsafe for them to play games while they travel. This partially negates the need for a portable hardcore gaming platform. Fortunately, there are places in the world where public transit is cheap, reliable, and commonly used. The subway systems of New York, for one. The Subway systems of pretty much all of Japan, for another. In fact, the handheld flourishes in Japan in part for this exact reason. As such, games that are uniquely Japanese in design are among the most popular for the PS Vita. This makes the handheld a haven of possibilities for gamers in the United States who are fans of these genres.
One genre that is rare here but popular in Japan is the visual novel. These are narrative heavy games that offer players a sort of “choose your own adventure” gameplay experience. These come in many forms, though the dating simulator variety seems particularly popular. Sometimes these games can gain such a following that they are turned into successful anime series, as was the case with Fate/stay night . Some worth trying, if you are looking to check out the genre, are Steins;Gate, Hakuoki, and Sweet Fuse.
Then, of course, there is the JRPG. Not as popular as it once was, this genre still maintains a dedicated fan base. Handhelds are perfect for these, as they allow players to access the game from virtually anywhere; an undeniable convenience considering the amount of time one can invest in them. These are frequently turn based affairs that are perfect for the road as a player can look up from their handheld to observe their surroundings. Popular entries available on the Vita include Jean d’Arc, Persona 3 Portable, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky and Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention.
It is unfortunate that the PS Vita never took off the way it was supposed to. It would have been nice to have more variety on the system and more motivation for developers to make games for it. However, it is nice to see that it is finding a place in the hearts of some gamers. If you have been hesitant to buy the platform, but happen to like these particular genres, then maybe go ahead and take the leap. I don’t think there will be a dry spell for these sort of games anytime soon. Not if the PSP, which suffered a similar fate and whose games are largely available on the PS Vita, is any indication, anyway.