Some believe that the PS Vita is dead, and while Sony may appear to be making moves to phase out the thrilling console eventually, they are still releasing brand new games each week to appease the player base. The number of games coming to Vita is bolstered by the immense popularity of fellow handheld – yet hybrid – console Nintendo Switch, which has given developers even more reason to create games that are suited to handheld devices like the Vita.
At the heart of each console is its offering of games, which ultimately determine the greatness of a console. So, we’re going to see how the PS Vita games of 2019 so far have stacked up to the games produced by the big three consoles.
January: Classics collide
— PlayStation LifeStyle by Mandatory (@PSLifeStyle) January 17, 2019
The Nintendo Switch continued its hot-streak of top-class, triple-A games with Super Mario Bros U Deluxe, reinvigorating the platformer for the new console. It was a big hit and praised by most critics but, as explained by The Guardian, wasn’t exactly a memorable rendition in the overall Mario series. On the PS Vita front, unfortunately the new platformer simply couldn’t compare, with Emerald Shores coming across as unpolished upon release. It had some intriguing game mechanics, but simply fell short of being comparable to Super Mario Bros U Deluxe.
Despite not being able to match what was likely the biggest and best release of January 2019 head-to-head, the games Drowning proved that the PS Vita is still able to produce excellent games. The real highlight for us was the sleeper release of Atari Flashback Classics. This retro compilation delivered a staggering 150 games from the back catalogue of one of gaming’s legendary hardware and software giants to the PS Vita. From the arcades and their home platforms, this neat package not only brought the company’s history together in a single collection, but gave gamers the single biggest retro archive ever released for the home.
Combining this with Drowning is a unique game that is wildly powerful while exploring rarely touched and sensitive issues made January a superb month for the Vita.
February: Crazy month of gaming
Within a matter of a couple of weeks, the highly-anticipated Metro: Exodus, the long-awaited Crackdown 3, and the overhyped Anthem all released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC – with Crackdown 3 being an Xbox exclusive.
Metro: Exodus was a very well-received game but caused controversy by being an Epic exclusive on PC, Crackdown 3 effectively flopped, and even tough Anthem sold well, it has been rife with problems and is currently the butt of the joke in gaming circles. Just behind those three in the spotlight was Jump Force and Far Cry: New Dawn, which led to US store Target offering a ‘Buy 2 Get 1 Free’ sale, per VG 24/7, on all of the triple-A titles in February.
Here was also a peak in online gaming in February, predominantly through online casino platforms. The new website Energy Casino launched its Energy and Super Spins bonus, which saw players swarm the applicable games of Starburst, Mega Fortune, Guns N’ Roses, and Aloha! Cluster Pays. The promotion has continued since February via Oddschecker, keeping the games among the most played online this year.
With so much going on in gaming, it should have been difficult for the PS Vita releases to make a name for themselves in February, but then came Code: Realize – Wintertide Miracles. The latest localisation from Akyss in the visual novel series and yet again this didn’t disappoint. Add to this the long awaited RPG Fernz Gate from Kemco as a limited edition physical version from Limited Run Games and it left Vita owners quite happy.
March: Bloodstained makes a big play for Vita
March was highlighted by the PC release of Yoshi’s Crafted World and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Yoshi is yet another win for the Switch, boasting world-flipping mechanics and adorable gameplay. Sekiro was incredible well-received and will likely be a game of the year contender. Created by From Software, the makers of Dark Souls, Sekiro boasts unique gameplay, a stunning setting, and a true challenge for gamers.
The Vita had an interesting month both digitally and physically. We had the intriguing platformer Peasant Knight from Ratalaika which suprised us with its ingenuity, followed up with a new AAA title in the shape of Fate/EXTELLA LINK. Possibly the final game in the Fate series to land on the Vita but certainly one for gamers to embrace.
Limited Run Games weren’t going to sit on their laurels either as they delivered a shock announcement with a physical release of 2018s Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. The game earned grand critical acclaim, being a nostalgia-filled tribute to vintage Castlevania that boasts enough modifications for it to be enjoyed by all gamers. Bond of the Skies, War Theatre, and Peasant Knight were fun enough, but the re-release of Bloodstained was, for many, the epitome of Vita gaming in March.
April: A month of cool down
Compared to the manic nature of February and high-class nature of March, April has been relatively tame. Towards the end of the month, Mortal Kombat 11 and Days Gone will make a splash, but thus far, top-draw game releases have been very few. On 5 April, Forma.8 was granted a physical re-release from Limited Run Games, which is a great little exploration game that boasts tremendous aesthetics but is hardly a top of the line game. But apart from a few more titles from Ratalaika April has been fairly quiet so far for new Vita games. Probably the biggest game of the month so far has been the platformer Furwind from Eastasiasoft although it’s not scheduled for release yet and only pre-orders have opened this month.
Over 2019, there have been some tremendous games released across the board. While the biggest triple-A console titles have stolen the limelight, there have been a fair few PS Vita games that deserve to have their names up there too. Our pick of the year so far is Atari Flashback Classics but what’s yours?