The PlayStation Vita turned one in Europe last Friday, and though we wish it many happy returns, Sony are probably less happy with the return they've seen on the handheld thus far. Sales have been sluggish, while woefully inconsistent software support has left huge gaps between the few utterly brilliant leading lights.
We've thoroughly lambasted the Vita's performance thus far. We've teased it mercilessly and screamed about current flaws until we're blue in the face. But only because we love the hardware, and we want to the platform do well as early adopters. So, here are the top ten things that we want from the PlayStation Vita - either in terms of new hardware iterations, unannounced dream projects or just 2013 games we're really excited about!
Media Molecule and Vita ought to be a marriage made in heaven, especially since the recklessly innovative UK outfit will likely throw everything they've got at the Vita's bewildering number of input methods. We fully expect a papercraft masterpiece.
9: That BioShock Game
You know, the one that Irrational hasn't started developing yet.
8: Soul Sacrifice
The PS Vita may have inherited countless dozens of JRPGs from the PSP, but it really needs more of its own. Ragnarok Odyssey is decent, but nowhere near enough.
So with Keiji Inafune on board, sporting enormous bosses, slick action and a wildly sadistic morality system that feeds directly into the gameplay, you'd better believe that we'll be dusting off our Vitas for Soul Sacrifice. We hope that it lives up to the hype.
7: Netflix For Us Brits
Once again proving that us Europeans can't have nice things, Netflix has been inexplicably delayed despite a smooth US rollout. Can we, erm, have it please?
That said, the UK Netflix selection is so much worse than the US lot that you might be better off setting up a VPN to trick Netflix into thinking that you're Ameri[ahem, that's quite enough of that - Ed].
6: PSN Prices That Don't Take The P*ss
Waaaah! Games are too expensive! Waaaah!
That's what I sound like to Sony, but the point needs to be made: Black Ops Declassified isn't worth £44.99. In fact, no Vita game is. Sony needs to wake up and smell the coffee before charging online prices that make sense, especially if they plan to embrace what is likely to be a digital only future,
5: SD Cards. Seriously. Come On.
Short of giving every Vita owner a 32GB memory card for free, Sony probably needs to ditch their proprietary memory solution. They're holding the console back, and not just because potential comsuers are put off by having to pay top dollar just to use their handheld properly.
See, the PS Vita plans to push digital PSN sales, and the service is now pretty good after a few teething problems. Except that we can't afford enough storage space to hold it all. And AAA games will practically take up a card by themselves. And transferring files between the Vita and PC/PS3 is an utter faff we could all do without.
This would naturally need a hardware revision, so in the meantime, cutting the price of memory cards might be a good way to get players using the store.
4: Phantasy Star Online 2
PSO 2 could be something of a revolution on the Vita. Based on one of the best MMOs of all time (the original Phantasy Star Online is still an exquisite Dreamcast singleplayer experience), it's one of the first attempts to get a full-scale massively multiplayer RPG action onto a handheld, complete with hundreds of players and an enormous world to explore.
Better yet, it's free to play.
IF this works (especially if it's stable over 3G) the Vita could well become a new home for MMOs, or a way of staying connected when you're away from your PC. Fingers crossed.
3: PS4 Gaikai Streaming While Out And About
Hear me out. Sony owns Gaikai, who are streaming gameplay specialists. 4G runs at a pretty decent clip. Hell, even if the UK doesn't sort out our 4G infrastructure, surely it's technically possible to stream footage of PS4 games while connected to a Wi-Fi network?
I'm not talking about remote play, rather, I'm talking about something more along the lines of OnLive: with Sony servers running games and sending the footage directly to you through via wondrous invisible radio waves. This would need a hardware revision and a new subscription model - perhaps another PlayStation Plus tier - but it would be a great fit for Sony's agressive online options and cloud saving functionality.
2: Killzone Mercenary
The Vita needs a killer FPS. Resistance: Burning Skies was a reasonable tech demo but failed as a franchise sequel. Black Ops: Declassified stunk out the office as soon as Brendan opened the box, releasing a noxious cloud of gas that stung our eyes and triggered uncontrollable feelings of rage.
What we need, therefore, is a Killzone game.
Mercenary is shaping up nicely, and it's unlikely that Sony will allow a first-party heavy hitter like this to stumble out without being polished to a mirror-shine. With luck, it will also sell well enough for other developers to start putting decent shooters out on the platform.
1: The PS4's Best Friend
Practically every PS4 game will support Vita Remote Play, but we want more. When connected as a controller, we want to use the touchscreen to effortlessly edit and share game footage. There's a built-in microphone. Cameras. All of which have hilarious avenues for multiplayer griefing, or new ways to interact with next-generation games.
When using the DualShock 4, we want the Vita to sit next to us as an interactive map, or a dynamic menu of skill toolbars in Diablo III. In an RTS, it could display our build queues, allowing us to order a few more tanks with a quick tap of the touchscreen rather than messing about with thumbstick menus. Rather than gimmicks, we want to see the Vita offering genuine value to PS4 owners, with loads of optional and surprising uses beyond just freeing up the television.
We rather suspect that the Vita will be Sony's answer to Smartglass and the Wii U Gamepad - and frankly, we think it has real potential.
After a price cut, perhaps.
Do you own a Vita and can't wait for some of the 2013 lineup? Didn't buy one but know what would tip you over the edge? Let us know in the comments!