Earlier in October, Sony announced that it was ceasing production of its premium handheld console, the PlayStation Vita.
This is a sad fate considering the potential that the underappreciated and misunderstood system once held. Announced in 2011 and simply referred to as the ‘Next Generation Portable’, online chatter was rife with rumours about the system’s power and features.
What we finally got was a little powerhouse of a machine, which enabled developers to go whole hog with games of a similar fidelity to home console releases.
What really makes the system special is its expansive library of quality games
This is in fact the single most misunderstood factor surrounding the Vita, as many assumed its sole purpose was to imitate larger home console games, which became less and less true as the Vita matured and grew. At first, Sony Bend’s Uncharted: Golden Abyss proved a close match for Naughty Dog’s blockbuster franchise, and the now defunct Guerrilla Cambridge’s Killzone: Mercenary actually outdid the efforts of its PS3 big brothers in a lot of ways.
However, later on in the console’s life is where things got interesting. After Sony slowed down its support, bigger releases were something of a rarity. In lieu of this, more niche titles made by smaller studios were able to fill the gap and release some real darlings that the unique Vita facilitated beautifully: Rogue Legacy, Don’t Starve, Spelunky and others breathed new life into the struggling platform.
Titles made by smaller studios were able to fill the gap and release some real darlings.
But what would come to define the Vita’s colourful library of games were the consistently brilliant JRPGs which, for my money, made the system one of the best handhelds ever released. Dragon’s Crown, Odin Sphere: Leifthraser, and Muramasa Rebirth all take advantage of the system's beefy graphical capabilities as well as succeeding in making sprawling, deep experiences accessible on the go with few concessions made. This cemented the Vita as a must-own amongst fans of the genre.
Which brings us neatly onto the system's magnum opus, Persona 4 Golden. More than just a remake of its 2008 PS2 counterpart, this reimagining makes several key improvements to the game's mechanics and presentation. Additional narrative arcs, more opportunities for exploration and a heap of new content make this an enticing package for any self-respecting JRPG fan.
Thus, despite being released relatively early in the console's life cycle, Atlus’ marvellous game will be the reason why many hold fond memories of the Vita.
So, if you're in the market for a device to occupy your empty commutes with experiences that live up to the expectations of gaming on a home console, the PlayStation Vita provides a more portable and compact alternative to the wildly popular Nintendo Switch.
What we finally got was a little powerhouse of a machine
But what really makes the system special is its expansive library of quality games, and if you're a fan of JRPGs in particular, why don't you already have one? Sony may have underutilised this feature-packed little gem of a system, but that's no excuse for anyone to overlook it's impressive résumé.