Here we investigate the overlooked, the underappreciated, the Shameworthy titles of the world. Jump in to an existing mission thread and give your thoughts, or start your own to kick off a discussion.
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Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by asatiir » Sun Aug 10, 2014 3:36 pm

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I was planning to have this post for the Squawkbox, but as I mentioned it in the possible missions thread, I thought I'd give it the squad mission treatment.

Why PS Vita?

It's become staple that a lot of people can never say Vita without the following "has no games" then proceed to play the games available on it on different platforms (Luftrausers, Thomas was alone, Stealth Inc./Stealth Bastard, Spelunky, Hotline Miami, Rogue Legacy, Guacamelee, Child of Light to name a few). This particular detail does bother me, when I've either played most of these or planning to on the Vita and not on the other platforms. I personally prefer handhelds over console and PC and have preferred them since childhood, and the fact that the Vita can deliver ports of these games, that are on console and PC with little compromise proves that it does have games. Even ports that are available on 3DS tend to run better on Vita (see Virtue's Last Reward, Rayman Origins and Metal Gear Solid 3).

That's looking at it from the general point of view, there have been a collection of niche titles have been mentioned through the squad among other sources to be excellent games. I personally have a hard time enjoying Chunsoft visual novels (Virtue's Last Reward and Danganronpa) but I know that these game are highly regarded, but even when Corpse Party game have been PSP games, there's a good guess that many played them on a Vita and there's the sequel coming as a Vita exclusive. Velocity is another game that has found most of its popularity on the Vita as it had a start in PSP minis, the Vita remake and the new upcoming game being Vita and PS4 exclusive from the very beginning.

I can't think of anything beyond this point, I was more satisfied with the Vita as a handheld than the 3DS which I've only felt was a legit handheld by the time Fire Emblem got released, and that's been collecting dust since.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by Angry Jedi » Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:22 pm

Okay. Let's talk Vita.

Vita is not a triple-A games machine. I'm not sure why anyone ever expected or wanted it to be, but the popular perception of the system as being somehow "dead" (despite tons of evidence to the contrary) largely stems from this. No new triple-A franchises are being developed for the system -- it doesn't have a Call of Duty (that isn't shit), it doesn't have a Battlefield, it doesn't have another Assassin's Creed in the pipe.

So what? I say. If I want the spectacle and big budget of triple-A games, I damn well want to play them on my 55-inch TV with booming audio blasting out of my soundbar. I want to recline on the couch like I'm enjoying a good movie; I want the spectacle of the game to be something other people will be blown away by. In short, the last thing I want from a handheld is triple-A.

Instead, what I want from Vita is what I've got, and that's two distinct things.

Indie games on the go

From a Western perspective, Vita is a great platform for indies. Big-name indie darlings like Spelunky and Rogue Legacy have found a great home on the system, thanks in part to their own gameplay loop being particularly well-suited to handheld play: a drop-in, drop-out structure that you can either while away a few minutes with over lunch, or spend longer with if you're, say, taking a long trip somewhere or just, you know, sitting in bed and want something to play. Some of the best new indie titles even come to Vita first -- FuturLab's astonishing output springs immediately to mind here.

I have a hard time justifying the indie titles on the new-generation TV-connected consoles when most of them are readily available on PC -- and often well before they hit Xbox One and PS4 -- but with Vita, you're getting a new twist on these titles: you're getting the ability to put them in your pocket and take them with you wherever you go. For me, this type of game has completely replaced the shallow nonsense of most mobile phone gaming: I'd much rather play a round or two of Spelunky than endure the tap, tap, tap tedium of Tiny Tower.

Oh, there you are, Japan

If you like Japanese games, you need two systems in 2014: a PlayStation 3 (yes, 3) and a Vita. Between the two of them, these platforms are continuing to fly the flag for excellent Japan-developed entertainment, whether it's the visual novels of Chunsoft that Asatiir mentioned above, or the JRPGs of Gust, Nippon Ichi Software and Idea Factory.

Now, I'm not saying here that everyone should enjoy these games, because I know that they don't. However, to deny that the people who do enjoy these games exist -- which is the narrative perpetuated by the mainstream press any time Vita comes up and these games don't even get acknowledged -- is to do the Vita, as a system, an enormous disservice. It is an astonishingly good platform for both visual novels and Japanese-style role-playing games -- and far from there being no games available for it, there are plenty of examples of each already available, with plenty more to come.

And this isn't even getting into the matter of PSP backward compatibility, which broaden's the system's library to literally thousands of games.

So what's the problem?

The lack of triple-A is perceived as a problem. The games Vita has may be great, but they're not the sort of things that wow people on the stage of an E3 or Gamescom press conference. This isn't in itself a bad thing, but it means that Sony is left looking as if it wants to sweep Vita under the carpet, and it leaves journalists who haven't explored the library the platform has to offer -- which is a disappointingly large number of them -- thinking that the platform is dead and buried.

Couple that with exorbitant prices for proprietary memory cards -- though, to be fair, once you buy one, it will last you a while, so long as you invest in a decent-size one to begin with -- and you end up with a system people are hesitant to take a risk on purely because of the price. And that's sad.

3DS is more widely regarded as the "better" handheld from a games library perspective, but since owning both I've spent far more time with and got more enjoyment out of the Vita. And I hope that will continue to be the case for many years yet.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by Tolkoto » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:34 am

I love how the Vita gave me such a great way to finally play through Persona 3 (via the P3 Portable version for the PSP) and Persona 4 (with Golden on the Vita). I spent pretty much a year just with those two games.

I know I'm going to check out Trails in the Sky soon.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by Beige » Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:56 pm

Got Danganrompa cued up and ready to go as soon as I'm done with Virtue's Last Reward... a day or so. This will mark the first time I've actually booted up my Vita since getting it last Christmas. Not a great sign, I would say. Also, gotta try Gravity Rush so I'm told.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by Tolkoto » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:48 am

I LOVE GRAVITY RUSH!!!

Seriously, one of my favorite open world games, and my overall Game of the Year for 2012.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by Angry Jedi » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:56 am

I respected Gravity Rush and thought it was mostly good, but I did not love it. In fact I really disliked the latter half and the DLC, which I made the mistake of playing before I'd finished the main game.

Awesome art style and characters, though; definitely a distinctive and memorable game, even if I didn't love it consistently.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by asatiir » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:15 am

Angry Jedi wrote:I respected Gravity Rush and thought it was mostly good, but I did not love it. In fact I really disliked the latter half and the DLC, which I made the mistake of playing before I'd finished the main game.

Awesome art style and characters, though; definitely a distinctive and memorable game, even if I didn't love it consistently.

I agree with Pete here, it really fell apart by the end, though I would be interested in a sequel if they revise the things I didn't like about the previous game.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by Alex Connolly » Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:06 pm

Angry Jedi wrote:I respected Gravity Rush and thought it was mostly good, but I did not love it. In fact I really disliked the latter half and the DLC, which I made the mistake of playing before I'd finished the main game.

Awesome art style and characters, though; definitely a distinctive and memorable game, even if I didn't love it consistently.


Yeah, I fell off the Gravity Rush wagon quite hard. Loved the initial impression, found the combat increasingly tedious and the world lacking...I dunno...substance? It was akin to going back to Jet Set Radio or something. A world without true interaction. A great world, but a superfluous one that merely facilitated the movement.

Would love to know what is happening with the sequel. What's the bet it doesn't end up coming to Vita? Hope it does, because I'll support it like nobody's business. Was hoping to see it at Cologne, but our last hope is TGS.

Will pool my thoughts on the Vita, but I think we're all on the same page with the system. It's a great conduit to the massive PSP library - a library second only to the PS2 regarding variety and catering to niches - and has and will provide the perfect home for all sorts of indies.

A machine without the proper journo connections, it seems.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by Tolkoto » Fri Aug 15, 2014 3:23 am

You guys are nuts! Or, I don't know, your opinion is different than mine, and I dislike that.

I loved Gravity Rush's combat. I liked that it was one of the few open world games to actually have cool bosses, and it was also one of the few third-person action games to actually pull off fun aerial fighting. I especially loved zipping around a large city while fighting some giant monster.

I love open world games with creative means of movement. I loved jumping around like a mad man in Crackdown, gliding and zip-lining in the Batman games, and hookshotting and parachuting through Just Cause 2. Gravity Rush's gravity-bending may be the coolest of the bunch. I also kind of liked that the game was a bit more focused than some open world games. I kind of hate how Grand Theft Auto has a million dumb diversions. It overwhelms me, and none of them are ever particularly fun. Same thing with playing poker in Watch Dogs or chess in Assassin's Creed. I'd rather be playing the actual game than digital versions of stuff I could in the real world, like bowl. You know what I can't do? Run up the side of a building. I want to do that.

Also, the aesthetics were just gorgeous. The art and music were breathtaking.
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Re: Unsung and under appreciated: PS Vita

by Angry Jedi » Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:25 am

Tolkoto wrote:You guys are nuts! Or, I don't know, your opinion is different than mine, and I dislike that.

I loved Gravity Rush's combat. I liked that it was one of the few open world games to actually have cool bosses, and it was also one of the few third-person action games to actually pull off fun aerial fighting. I especially loved zipping around a large city while fighting some giant monster.

I love open world games with creative means of movement. I loved jumping around like a mad man in Crackdown, gliding and zip-lining in the Batman games, and hookshotting and parachuting through Just Cause 2. Gravity Rush's gravity-bending may be the coolest of the bunch. I also kind of liked that the game was a bit more focused than some open world games. I kind of hate how Grand Theft Auto has a million dumb diversions. It overwhelms me, and none of them are ever particularly fun. Same thing with playing poker in Watch Dogs or chess in Assassin's Creed. I'd rather be playing the actual game than digital versions of stuff I could in the real world, like bowl. You know what I can't do? Run up the side of a building. I want to do that.

Also, the aesthetics were just gorgeous. The art and music were breathtaking.


For me, Gravity Rush had some great ideas -- the gravity-bending as a means of movement being one of them -- but implementation that I didn't like quite so much. I appreciated the idea of the aerial combat -- it was super-satisfying to go swooping through the air to plant a boot in the face of an enemy at high-speed when it went right, but when it went wrong I found it infuriatingly difficult to aim. This was a huge issue with the DLC, which largely consisted of aerial combat against things that were ridiculously difficult to hit. It marred the experience quite a bit for me, but didn't stop me thinking back on the first half of the game in particular rather fondly.

You're bang on the money about the focus aspect. While it might have been nice for the world to have a little more "personality" about it at times, I appreciated that the map wasn't filled with pointless distractions that had little to do with the game save to artificially inflate its play time and provide something to pad out the trophy list with. There were additional activities like the slide races and the like, but these were 1) optional and 2) useful in training you in how to use some of Kat's abilities more effectively.

You're also spot on re: the aesthetic; I recall comparing it to European comic books like Asterix and Tintin at the time (a comparison that, apparently, was accurate) -- the way the background was basically "line art" until you got a bit closer looked super-cool and is still unlike pretty much anything else I've ever seen.

Perhaps I'll revisit it at some point.
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