Since the Playstation Vita’s arrival in February of 2012, I’ve been woefully disappointed by its software, especially given the system’s design and capabilities. Sure, we’ve had some great games–Uncharted brought the console experience to a handheld and looked fantastic, Gravity Rush was an awesome, dizzying adventure, Killzone was by far the best shooter on a handheld yet, and Tearaway was a charming, creative title unlike any other. But as most of us know, the smash hits have been far and few between. Uncharted and Gravity Rush were available at or shortly after launch, for example, whereas Killzone and Tearaway didn’t release until late 2013, almost two years later.
There have been huge gaps in between big releases in which the only games we’ve had to play are indies or miniscule ones barely worth mentioning. And don’t even get me started on the major missed opportunities (Resistance, Call of Duty), classics that never were (Bioshock, Warrior’s Lair), and the comical number of ports (Persona 4, Borderlands 2, Mortal Kombat, Injustice, The Sly Collection, Final Fantasy X-X2, and… you get the idea).
First of all, where in God’s name are the first-person shooters? The system is practically begging for them with its dual analog sticks and sheer power, yet the only good one we’ve received is Killzone. Ironically, the only other two (Resistance and Call of Duty, both equally bad) were made by the same developer–one that has since changed its name and gone AWOL. The third-person shooter scene has been equally pathetic. Aside from Uncharted and Unit 13, both of which were launch titles, we’ve seen nothing. (Note: I didn’t include Metal Gear Solid because a.) I consider it to be a stealth game, not a shooter, and b.) it’s just a collection of ports–yes, more ports!).
Secondly, where are the strategy games? The Game Boy Advance led to the debut of the outstanding Advance Wars franchise and the 3DS featured the critically acclaimed Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars at launch followed by the even more successful Fire Emblem: Awakening. The Vita, on the other hand, has arguably seen nothing even close to those games. What’s up with the lack of great, original turn-based or even real-time strategy games? You would think that with its plethora of buttons and front and rear touch controls that the Vita would be the perfect handheld device for those titles, but just as with first and third-person shooters, they’ve mostly been MIA.
And where the heck are the western RPGs? By now we should’ve gotten our hands on a great dungeon crawler or even a Bethesda-like open-world game. Dungeon Hunter was an iOS port and the definition of mediocre and Borderlands 2 was also a port (and a lazy, ugly one at that), therefore I’m not including those two. I’m talking about a great western RPG that’s made specifically for the Vita and actually harnesses the system’s strengths. There are more Japanese RPGs than I can shake a stick at–many of them ports as well, unsurprisingly–but I generally can’t stand those games and I’m probably not alone in that regard.
There’s also the fact that few, if any of the system’s most successful exclusives have seen sequels or follow-ups. Where’s the next Uncharted? May I have another Unit 13, please? Why has there been just one Lumines? Gravity Rush 2, where are you?
Ultimately, what frustrates me the most about the Vita is the sheer lack of great original games for it. I don’t care what anyone says, this system deserves better. Not only is it incredibly powerful, but it’s also similar in its shape and design to a PS3/4 controller, therefore it’s more than capable of supporting almost anything developers can throw at it. Much like the 3DS, it even has its own unique features like touch controls and a motion sensor, both of which can be used to create experiences that even consoles can’t duplicate (as Tearaway has already proven). It has some seriously impressive online capabilities for a handheld, too, like parties and built-in voice chat. The tools are there for developers to create insanely good games, yet oddly enough their interest has been lukewarm at best. As the Vita nears the end of its lifespan, I stupidly wonder if that will ever change, knowing damned well that it won’t.