The year (so far) in review plus our top ten staff picks of 2013.
This year has perhaps been a tough one for our little handheld. It seems the “Vita is DOOMED” articles have died down a little but it’s still struggling to perform in the way we hope. Starting the year at just over 4 million the Vita has since surpassed the 5 million mark but as many of you know, a million sales or thereabouts in six months isn’t the strongest figure. Despite this, those who have purchase the Vita are absolutely loving it, with an impressive attach rate of 10 per console. This is testament that despite many people being on the shelf, the Vita DOES have a great library of games, with a steady flow that hasn’t really dried up all year.
Granted, there is currently an onslaught of indies being released courtesy of the hard work of Shahid Kamal, but it’s no surprise given that indie classics such as Hotline Miami have sold better on the Vita than the PS3 and have sold by the bucket load so it really is no surprise that small development studios are looking to the Vita as a viable platform to release content on. Sony seems to be considerably growing up after taking a bit of a battering when the PS3 was first released at that rather taboo price point of £424.99. They have realised that the gap between mobile and gaming handhelds is getting smaller and you have to give credit for their actions. Despite this, Sony has always said that the Vita is capable of PS3 graphics and blockbuster gaming on the go, and while they haven’t quite delivered this yet, each title that is released gets better and better; you only need to look at the jump from WRC3 to MotoGP 13, or to Soul Sacrifice and Toukiden (both responsible for sales spikes in Japan despite the lack of marketing).
E3 had Sony showing off a few of their games for later this year, including Killzone: Mercenary (which looks just as good as PS3 games) and Media Molecule’s Tearaway. Indeed, despite the PS4 focus at E3, Sony still had over 30 titles on display at E3 and Jack Tretton went on record saying we’ll have at least another 85 titles released by the end of the year. He also stated that so far over 125 titles have been released which is a slap in the face to the naysayers out there claiming the Vita still has no games. Remote play was also hotly talked about and Shuhei Yoshida boasted that it will finally become a reality with PS4 and all standard games will be remote play compatible. Whether this sees a sales spike when the PS4 is released remains to be seen, but given there was no price drop announcement for the Vita in the West, eyes are still looking forward to PAX and Gamescom. Sony knows the Vita is struggling and it’s still hotly speculated that a price drop could hit before the PS4 is released. So looking forward the future looks bright for the Vita. It’s certainly not down and out and we’re sure despite the rocky start the Vita is just beginning to flourish. With several blockbuster titles and hordes of indies being released this year, remote play a certainty with PS4 and undoubtedly a price drop in the not-too-distant future, things can only get better and below you can find our top ten of the year so far, based on our personal opinions and votes.
10 – The Jak & Daxter Trilogy
Jon – I gave this one a solid 9/10, and despite framerate issues it still managed to enter the EU charts at number 6 in June. Naughty Dog’s classic trilogy didn’t get the perfect port but the sheer magnificence of the trilogy meant it didn’t matter. With bright, colourful graphics, wonderful characters and varied yet challenging gameplay, this classic trilogy really comes to life on the Playstation Vita at a very good price.
9 – Urban Trial Freestyle
Kyle – What can I say, I never played the trial games on any other consoles, so this one had me at hello.
Jon – Finally the Vita has a contender to Xbox’s Trials series. While it’s not perfect there is a fair amount of fun to be had here and environmental explosions with massive jumps make it a joy to play.
8 – Men’s Room Mayhem
Paul – So, you are in a public toilet and its really busy. All these guys are coming in busting to do there business and you have control over their restroom etiquette. It’s as fun as it is crazy and well worth a look.
Jon – It may not be perfect in any way, and may get repetitive but the gradually escalating flow of people you have to manage in Mens Room Mayhem becomes a mad frenzy and the graphics and concept are charming. It may not be the deepest experience out there but for the price it does well at being short lived fun.
7 – Thomas Was Alone
Paul – How can something so simple be so amazing? Right from the start the narration and music will catch you in this unorthodox platformer with quite a lot of teamwork with the characters required. Mike bithell has created a masterpiece and Curve Studios deserve a lot of credit for this.
Jon – Simplistic but driven by a lovely little story, this indie classic may well charm the pants off you.
Rheasink – A simple, yet very enjoyable and innovative game. Even though the art style might look bland at the first glance but Thowas Was Alone actually has a very nice, clean and effective aesthetics. I also found unexpected and overly serious voice acting to be a humorous and pleasant addition.
6 – Atelier Totori Plus
Yuuki – I’m a fan of the series and it got good port.
Jon – It may have scored higher as Yuuki is the only one of us who has played it, but the fact that it was released with no marketing and stills sells well to this day with the sequel inbound and an 8.5 from Yuuki is testament to the quality here.
5 – Moto GP 13
Jon – Similar to Atelier Totori Plus, I’m the only one who has given Moto GP 13 a score, and it received top marks from me. My game of the year so far it took me completely by surprise by being such an exciting, accurate representation of the sport and including a long and robust career mode.
4 – Velocity Ultra
Paul – There is a reason that this has been accumulating stellar scores across the board. It’s amazing. The controls, the speed, the addictive nature, the soundtrack – it’s all amazing.
Jon – I’d heard all the hype but wasn’t sure I’d like it due to the shooter elements and boy I was wrong. The game oozes style with a stellar soundtrack, fantastic art direction and frantic gameplay. Add to this loads of levels and trophies and you have a fantastic experience for less than a tenner. Genius.
3 – Persona 4: Golden
Yuuki – The best RPG on the Vita, hands down!
Rheasink – What can I say… It’s magically addicting, you simply cannot stop playing once you get into the game. Grinding part was a bit annoying and the game itself is a bit too long for my tastes, but Persona 4 Golden is still a remarkable game with its well-crafted character, fantastic story and good humor, hence it being the highest rated PS VITA to date.
Jasper – I nominated it last year too (it was released in NA in 2013 and EU in 2013). It didn’t make it last year as most of the contributors on The Vita Lounge were in Europe. AND STILL NO ONE HAS PLAYED IT (except Yuuki). I actually wanted my top 5 to be:
1. Persona 4 Golden
2. Persona 4 Golden
3. Persona 4 Golden
4. Velocity Ultra
Jon – Again, this may have scored high had more of us have played it but judging by how much Jasper bangs on about it it surely is pretty special!
2 – Guacamelee!
Kyle – An amazing game that draws you in and doesn’t let go until you complete it at least once. Frustrating at times, but always there with a laugh to reward you; Guacamelee is definitely my favourite indie title so far this year.
Paul – Brutally hard in places but unashamedly fun. Packed with humour, homage and hours of fun. Drinkbox served up a winner here.
1 – Soul Sacrifice
Paul – Arguably the biggest release of the year so far on the Vita and it’s a good one. It can be grindy but that you can share that with others negates that. Many hours of gameplay, strategy and fun and so much to discover.
Kyle – Easily my favourite of the year so far. I’ve put over 100 hours into it, and collected the platinum, but I still can’t stop playing. The DLC they’re giving us is just the sweet icing on my sacrificial-cake.
Jon – OK, so I still haven’t got my hands on the full game but I can tell from the demo that this is special. Obviously I can’t comment on the ongoing story but the gameplay is accessible, fast and fun and the graphics are good with a silky smooth framerate.
Rhys – Soul Sacrifice is without a doubt the Vita’s best kept secret and Sony’s worst marketing strategy at the same time. There was very little coverage from Sony, the sheer lack of advertisement in the West was nothing short of criminal. Yet despite that Soul Sacrifice is clearly one of the triple A titles to grace the console that is backed up with volume of free (and decent) downloadable content. To date we’ve been given 2 additional Black Rites and 8 new boss characters with more promised. It’s the game that keeps on giving.
Rheasink – Honestly, I didn’t expect much from it. I have never been too interested in these types of games but Soul Sacrifice turned out to be a very nice surprise. Demo alone got me hooked for over 10 hours, and I wasted another 60 in the full game. Touching story, good graphics, fun multiplayer and tight controls makes it one of my favorite PS VITA games so far, let alone 2013.
So there we have it! Soul Sacrifice is our game of the year so far. What do you all think? Have we made the right choices? What are your highlights of the year so far? Let us know in the comments and look out for our most anticipated titles feature which is coming soon!