Sony Japan Confirms Three New Games For Europe
The PlayStation Vita received short shrift last year, especially here in Europe. A tiny handful of big hitters aside, Sony's handheld rarely found its way into our sweaty palms, completely outgunned and outgamed by the 3DS in ascendancy.
But 2014 could well reverse the Vita's fortunes. Over the last few months, Sony and third party partners have been bringing a huge number of fantastic localised titles to British shores, alongside some fantastic indie gems and cross-platform games, culminating in the announcement that three major Japanese releases are also headed West.
More than just a niche proposition, handheld gamers are going to have a lot to love this year - and so many reasons to keep Sony's portable powerhouse to hand.
Sony Japan Studio has confirmed that three big games will be making their way out of Japan and heading Westward this year, with Freedom Wars being the biggest among them. Originally teased as Panopticon, this exciting project revealed itself as a cyberpunk action-RPG with visceral combat and supporing 8-player online co-op. Sporting exciting art direction and some massive bosses, it's exactly the sort of deep and social experience that the Vita has been crying out for.
Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines is another interesting proposition: a cult RPG that lets you command a clan of terminally-aging samurai over multiple generations with the aim of purifying future generations, who you'll then lead into combat with each passing bloodline. Details are thin on the ground, but as the kids say: dat art direction...
Finally we have Soul Sacrifice Delta: a retooled version of last year's cult ARPG featuring an enormous amount of extra content. Though Soul Sacrifice didn't exactly set the world on fire, I absolutely loved its cut-throat multiplayer, versatile magical abilities, brutal combat and 'pick up and play' bite-sized arenas, so I'm excited to see whether Delta can expand things further and become a sleeper hit. Mind you, since the original game received an extraordinary amount of free DLC -- everything from new bosses to extra stages and abilities -- it's galling that we can't just download the Delta content as an expansion.
These three games join a growing army of fantastic localised titles that have been gracing our British Vitas over the last few months, the region-free import scene notwithstanding (another increasingly important feather in the Vita's cap). Publishers like NIS America teamed up with regional distributors, such as Reef Entertainment, bringing us games that have made our next-gen consoles redundant. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is still my favourite game of 2014 thus far -- in my opinion, the best game of the year so far -- while Ys: Memories Of Celceta gives JRPG fans something to shout about. Even vocaloid superfans have been able to savour Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F (one of the most-requested localisation jobs out there), with SEGA now fully backing the device.
Fans of Japanese games and JRPGs will be in their element, but the Vita hasn't just been catering to this specific niche. Borderlands 2 is on the way, cramming the outstanding shooter hybrid onto a handheld platform. Football Manager lets us import our PC cloud saves and pick up where we left off on the bus or at work. Of course, it'd be rude not to remember the Vita's headline acts, such as LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway, Killzone Mercenary and Uncharted: Golden Abyss amongst others.
Classic arcade concepts have been reworked by the outstanding shooter TxK -- blowing Resogun out of the water -- while Luftrausers lets us leap into the cockpit of some bizarre Nazi X-Planes. The indie scene has absolutely exploded on Sony's machine, giving us a huge amount of games to play thoughout numerous genres, and it's only set to continue with the likes of Broforce and Mercenary Kings. Port jobs, sure, but the Vita is powerful and convenient enough to become the go-to-platform for games like these. Everything looks better on that OLED screen (though I can't personally speak for the 2000 series' LCD offering).
Critically, Sony seems to be nailing quantity, quality, big-budget showstoppers and localised cult classics, creating a unique downloadable ecosystem that we've never seen on a handheld console before... all before bringing the enormous PSX and PSP back catalogue into the equation. We've previously argued that the PS Vita is a "cult connoisseur's paradise," but now Sony's handheld has a real shot at becoming a mainstream contender.
Your move, 3DS. Tomodachi Life looks incredible, but we'll need more than that to stop the PS Vita from running riot this year.