It’s easy to think that the Playstation Vita was a disaster, considering the relatively poor sales figures. But it really had a lot going for it: it revolutionized gaming input systems, it was the most powerful handheld on the market at the time of its launch, and it provided cross-save, cross-buy and cross-play features for those games that enabled it. Here are three games that highlight each of these unique aspects of this underrated handheld.
UNIQUE CONTROLLER SCHEMES – TEARAWAY
Tearaway is the kind of game that one dreams of as a developer. You see, if you were in a casino, a Lucky Nugget such as this would completely change your night: this is when you bet all your savings on Black 11 and PLOW! that’s exactly the number that comes up. Similarly, with TEARAWAY, this is a constellation alignment that combines a unique art style and fun gameplay while at the same time revolutionizing controller and input schemes on a handheld. While we’ve been used to playing with buttons and even touch screens for a long, long time, the way TEARAWAY implemented the cameras on the Vita as well as the rear touchpad was not cumbersome, but rather brilliant and fun.
A lot of times, the implementation of new controller schemes seem forced (I’m looking at you, Nintendo DS Zelda games), but TEARAWAY made it seamless to interact with the real world through the new inputs on the Vita. Sure, there was a re-release of the game for the PS4, and while all the charm of the original game was there, it was nowhere near as revolutionary as the original release on Sony’s portable.
HUGE HORSEPOWER – UNCHARTED: GOLDEN ABYSS
When UNCHARTED: GOLDEN ABYSS came out, people were shocked: all of the pre-release jitters about having an UNCHARTED experience on the go evaporated as the glorious technological achievement that was GOLDEN ABYSS blew the competition out of the water. Even in 2019, it continues to look absolutely incredible.
The great thing about UNCHARTED: GOLDEN ABYSS is that it not only looks incredible, but it’s super fun as well. It adds a more “third-person shooter” flavor to the UNCHARTED franchise that hasn’t really been seen within the UNCHARTED universe, before or since. It’ll be over half a decade before Nintendo would bring this level of graphical fidelity to a portable system.
CROSS-BUY GOODNESS – RAINBOW SKIES
I know I’ve talked a lot about RAINBOW SKIES, the continuation to RAINBOW MOON, but it’s not only because I was the LATAM localizer on it. The truth is that EASTASIASOFT has been very, very good about supporting cross-buy, cross-save and cross-play features whenever possible. That’s the case with RAINBOW SKIES, which is cross-buy with the PS3 and PS4 version of the game.
If you live in Asia, EASTASIASOFT publish a lot of RATALAIKA games there, and they also feature cross-buy and cross-save on a lot of their games. The fact that you could buy a game once and then own it on other platforms is quite unique. Sure, a lot of games decided to charge you for different version, even if they released simultaneously, forcing you to double-dip. But even going back to games such as DRAGON’S CROWN, you can see this cross-something philosophy in action.
In the end, then, we can acknowledge that the Vita underperformed in terms of sales. but the truth is that it revolutionized a lot of other aspects of gaming. It also showed that there was a possibility of experiencing near-console quality in terms of graphics fidelity, and that an ecosystem that is supported by game developers can become much more unified through features such as cross-buy, cross-save and cross-play. These are, of course, just three of the games that showcase how unique the Vita was. There are many more things that are great, innovative and even to this day, unbeatable about the Vita. And we’ll revisit those at a later date.