The PlayStation Vita has faced some rough times during its nearly two-year run on the market, and sometimes its baffling to think about. Its superior tech and OLED screen hasn’t been enough for some, but for owners, the platform has been nothing short of a blast -- if there’s one thing critics can no longer say, it’s that the Vita has no games.
Over the last 12 months especially, the highly underrated handheld has built up a solid catalogue of first and third-party titles, such as Soul Sacrifice, Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway. With continuous support from indies and an always welcome and ever-increasing presence from Japanese developers, 2014 and beyond look great for Sony’s portable solution.
Here are the known titles headed our way later this year.
Borderlands 2 is a big deal for the PS Vita. While the popular open-world shooter has been there and done that on home consoles and PC, a game of its size and scope on the Vita is something many gamers have been looking for -- and one many owners wanting more third-party support want.
Sony’s formation of Third-Party Production last year and their success with Borderlands 2 could also mean a lot more great third-party content gets transferred to the Vita faster and more frequently, so if you haven’t played the explosive Borderlands 2 yet, the Vita version is coming your way -- and sooner to be expected, if a recent tweet by 2K Games International (who promptly deleted the tweet afterwards) can be believed.
Release Date: March 2014 (rumoured)
DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
DanganRonpa is bat shit crazy, and that’s why it’s so intriguing. The game is a murder mystery visual novel about a group of highschool students being forced by their school headmaster-- a psychotic black and white bear named Monokuma -- to murder each other in order to graduate. Yeah, that sounds Japanese alright.
With updated graphics, touchscreen functionality, two new game modes and alternative stories from the PSP version, surviving Hope’s Peak Academy with a crazy cast of characters will certainly be interesting. Visual novels aren’t exactly the biggest genre out there, but the excellent Virtue’s Last Reward proved it can be done justice -- especially on the Vita.
Release Date: February 14th, 2014
Deception IV: Blood Ties
Does anyone remember Deception on the PS1 or Trapt on the PS2? No? You would be forgiven, but Tecmo Koei's dormant strategy-RPG franchise looks set to make a stellar comeback.
Blood Ties is centered around winning rounds of battle through strategy and cunning -- but unlike the usual SRPG staples, this game sees players set up traps across the battlefield and watch enemies fall into them while avoiding them. Some of these traps are gory and others hilariously absurd, but one thing is for sure -- it's brilliantly sadistic.
Demon Gaze is a dungeon-crawl RPG centered around Oz, a mysterious young man with a magical eye that can be used to seal demons. The gameplay splits between some deep dungeon-crawling action and relationship building at a safe hub known as the Inn.
For NIS America fans and JRPG fans in general, this is one title to watch and it's great to see more unlikely Japanese games get swift localisations -- the Western Vita fans definitely deserve more and more foreign support.
Release Date: April 25th, 2014
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z
Battle of Z continues the trend of under-the-radar DBZ games but certainly delivers when it comes to a 70-strong character roster, 8 player multiplayer and frantic fighting action.
The Vita version adds on ad-hoc multiplayer and online; it's also good to be able to bring DBZ action on-the-go through cross-saves between the PS3 and Vita versions and to also not see the portable version get snubbed in features.
Release Date: Out Now
Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster
It’s safe to say a good chunk of the main install base of the Vita are JRPG lovers always itching for another turn-based fling, and X and X-2 happen to be right on time -- it’s been too long since a “pure” FF title.
Considered by many as the last “true” Final Fantasy, this HD remaster includes cross-save support between the PS3 and Vita versions and plenty of extra goodies thrown in that we Westerners missed out on the first time. For gamers like me who never owned a PS2, it’s great that we can catch up on another classic on our beloved Sony handheld.
Release Date: March 23rd, 2014
If there’s one massive exclusive to watch on the Vita, it’s Freedom Wars. A new exclusive from Sony’s Japan Studio (Gravity Rush, Soul Sacrifice), the game depicts a futuristic world in the year 102013, where the Earth’s surface is in ruins and humanity lives underground in settlements known as Panopticons. The art-style has a very anime-dystopia feel, with the ruined world full of people with virtually visualized ID numbers above their persona and the gameplay looks set to challenge Monster Hunter in multiplayer awesomeness.
While not officially confirmed for localisation, I’ve included Sony Japan’s latest title in this list after several other unlikely Japanese games (Demon Gaze, DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Toukiden) all received the green-light for Western releases in recent weeks -- this one looks just too big for the West to miss!
Release Date: TBA
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Still craving 80s synthesised tunes and top down shoot ‘em ups against the backdrop of bloody gang warfare? Wrong Number is heading our way, and sooner than we thought. Continuing the story of the nameless killer in the first title, the sequel sets up players as four youths looking to replicate 'Jacket''s notorious Russian Mafia genocide.
The ultra-violent, highly stylised Hotline Miami did extremely well on the Vita upon its release last year and Wrong Number looks set to deliver the same high-octane action we’ve been craving -- especially good looking on ‘dat’ OLED screen.
Release Date: Q3 2014
Minecraft seems to be on every console these days, but if there’s one more perfect platform for the addictive sandbox title, it’s the Vita.
Similar titles like Terraria have already seen success with players wanting to get their exploration on-the-go and with the only other portable choice being Android devices, it’s safe to say such a popular title would look and play better on the Vita’s OLED touch screen and controls.
Release Date: Q1 2014
MLB 14: The Show
PlayStation has always been the platform for a Major League Baseball fix, and no matter how niche this title is on the Vita, the yearly trend is thankfully continuing with MLB 14: The Show.
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
An odd looking Vita exclusive announced during E3 2013, Murasaki Baby is a side-scrolling game where players control Baby, a dark and scary looking child in a world populated by children’s fantasies and fears. Using the Vita touch pad, a player must guide Baby through twisted environments and change the mood of the world by, yes, you guessed it -- popping balloons. What the?
Directed by Massimo Guarini, the mind behind such quirky and gloriously weird titles Killer7, No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned, Murasaki Baby is going to be a unique title, to say the least.
Release Date: TBA
Persona 4: Dancing All Night
Okay, so it's not Persona 5 or the direct sequel to Persona 4: Golden many people were hoping for, but Atlus has a way of making worthwhile spin-off titles to the main Persona franchise no matter how off-beat they are -- Persona 4: Arena being a prime example.
In terms of canon, the game takes place one year after the infamous events of Inaba; Rise Kujikawa returns to her entertainment career and the gang reforms to take on the Shadow threat in "dance battles". If it has as good a soundtrack as P4:G, the fans will be there.
Release Date: TBA
In the vein of 2D sandbox games like Terraria, Chucklefish’s Starbound looks set to be “that” next indie game taking over all of our free time. The game takes place in a two-dimensional, procedurally generated universe, and the player is a citizen feeling their homeworld on a spaceship (appearance, race and ship fully customisable).
After crash-landing on a habitable planet, players can go off and explore multiple randomly generated planets, traverse through the stars, build new homes, weapons, armor, and generally get lost in what looks like more sandbox goodness, and all perfect for portable play on the Vita.
Release Date: Q4 2014
Toukiden: Age of Demons
Sony may not have portable Monster Hunter exclusivity anymore, but it has built a strong catalogue of original IPs challenging MH’s throne -- Toukiden is the latest exclusive title to do so. A third-person action game involving a group of demon hunters, the gameplay is full of glorious hacking and slashing giant monsters against a backdrop inspired by various historical periods of Japan.
With over 200 characters based on both fictional and historical Japanese figures to customise and fight Oni-demons with, Ad-hoc and Wi-Fi multiplayer and some stunning graphics, it’s great to see more games we never thought would ever make it out of Japan get full localisation.
Release Date: 14th of February 2014
Ys: Memories of Celceta
Already out in North America, Ys: Memories of Celceta has opened to overwhelmingly positive reception across the pond as a deep and sizable RPG adventure for Vita owners to sink their teeth into.
Memories of Celceta is a re-envisioning of the fourth instalment in the long-running Ys series with an updated version of the party-based battle system from Ys SEVEN, a huge overworld and plenty of exclusive JRPG goodness for Vita owners feeling a little burned out from Persona 4: Golden and Valhalla Knights 3.
Release Date: February 2014
What other upcoming PS Vita games are you looking forward to? Sound off below.