We take a look at the genres and titles that we’re longing to play on this glorious handheld.

There’s no doubt that the Vita is an excellent handheld console with an excellent library of games as a whole, but there’s also no doubt that it’s easy to find holes in that library – especially in North America and Europe. Some genres are almost completely absent in the West, and even more only include a small sprinkling of titles to choose from (some of which are a stretch to include at best). There are also some series’ that are on many/all other PlayStation platforms and yet haven’t been brought to Vita as well – many of them of the “system seller” variety.

Come with us on a journey through the glaring omissions the TVL team could find.

Sports

NHL

The PlayStation Vita is a mixed bag for sports. While it’s true we’ve got a few sports titles in the West, such as the FIFA and MLB: The Show series’, we’re missing some of the other big sports games like those in the NHL, NBA and PGA leagues, SSX, a 3D skateboarding title,  and more. While previous iterations of PlayStation products have nearly all had versions of those video games, both the PlayStation Vita and more recently the PlayStation 4 seem to be missing some important ones which the library will be full of holes without.

Want to go snowboarding, skateboarding, play some hockey or dribble a ball (or maybe just have some variety in baseball/European football)? You’re out of luck for now – that is, unless you want to dig into some PSP/PSOne titles. The titles we have aren’t the best versions either – take a look at FIFA and Madden on Vita, for example.

FIFA 13 and 14 are simply re-skins of the launch title FIFA Football for Vita – a game now over two full years old. Madden 13 is simply a re-skin of Madden 12 for consoles with a few tweaks and the glaring omission of Online Franchise Mode. Not only that, but it’s sluggish (especially in menus) and the AI is sub-par – often not completing plays you’ve drawn out.

We need some EA Sports or 2K Sports love – or hell, we’ll even take newcomers if they’re willing to do the work to give us some decent games. We’re really not too picky – even those FIFA and Madden games I was harping on have sold relatively well despite their issues. Will someone please just take the hint and hook us up?

Horror

DeadSpace

Though horror isn’t the most widely used genre in video games, there are quite a few staples that we expect to see on every system none-the-less. Like sports titles, it’s true the Vita has titles that can be considered “horror” – though in this case they’re simply few and far between (and some could argue, not very horrifying). Titles like Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut, Limbo and Silent Hill: Book of Memories touch on the horror genre, but only the first of those even attempts to be horrifying with any kind of success.

We’ve got no real version of Silent Hill (BoM is a bastardization in the form of a dungeon-crawler), no Resident Evil, no DOOM, nor Dead Space – all we’ve got at are a couple of games that only touch on the genre and a pixelated achiever. Titles like Outlast on the PlayStation 4 clearly show we still want to be scared, but it seems like nobody’s willing to try anymore.

First and Third Person Shooters

The Vita is seriously lacking in shooter titles that aren’t “shmup” style.

Battlefield

In the realm of first-person shooters, yes – we have the f$#%ing fantastic Killzone Mercenary, but what about those who like variety? Surely you’re not going to go back to playing Declassified or Burning Skies after feeling the greatness of Killzone, so what else can you play to mix it up? The truth is that Vita is seriously lacking in decent first person shooters. As much as I love Killzone, we need something different – like how Killzone was something different for the other PlayStation consoles. People like variety, and unless you want to play some very mediocre games, there’s nothing else in the FPS genre worth playing.

Army-of-two

So how about third-person shooters? The Vita has Unit 13 and Uncharted – both of which are considered average or slightly above in gameplay, but not great nor stand-outs for any other reason (though we’ll admit, Uncharted looks great for being sub-native in resolution). Titles like Army of Two, Lost Planet, Just Cause and Mass Effect (which are prevalent titles among PlayStation consoles, if not staples) are completely missing from the Vita’s lineup. Other than the lone entry from defunct SOCOM developers and an Uncharted title that’s considered one of the weakest, we’ve got a pretty sad set of choices if you’re looking to shoot some baddies from over the shoulder of your favourite soldier or hero.

So, um, developers – you guys know this thing has dual analog sticks, right? That was the biggest qualm developers and players seemed to have with the PlayStation Portable, and yet it featured many first and third-person shooters over its lifetime. Coded Arms titles, Medal of Honor titles, Star Wars titles, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, Rainbow Six: Vegas, SOCOM: FireTeam Bravo series’,  Dead to Rights: Reckoning, The Godfather, Syphon Filter titles, Resistance: Retribution and more were all present on the PSP, many of them considered good games despite their limitations.

C’mon developers; we clearly have the demand, where’s the supply?

Strategy Games

C&C

Unless you want to play a zombie/nun-infused real-time strategy game or hunt down a copy of Patton’s Campaign (History: Legends of War), you’re pretty much out of luck for strategy titles. Prominent titles like Command and Conquer, Civilization the strategy titles in the Sims series and Valkyria Chronicles (which were present on PSP/PS3) are completely missing from the Vita’s line-up and there’s really very little in the way of replacements.

What’s even more of a shame is that strategy games seem to work so well on phones and tablets and yet see so little love on a piece of hardware better equipped to accept the vast array of inputs and controls they feature. These are form factors which share a lot of core features, and yet the Vita is the clear winner by simply including a solid set of hardware buttons and other inputs to compliment the lone touch screen developers have been given up ’til now.

Why are we not getting strategy games that take advantage of the Vita’s advantages?

Visual Novels (in the West)

Getsuei Gakuen Kou

While Japan (as usual) has a plethora of visual novels to choose from, the ones that have made it to the West are both well-loved and few-and-far-between. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is a well lauded title I hear talked about a lot around the message boards, and did well enough to get added to the Plus IGC (which I’m told only takes the best), while Danganronpa and Persona 4 Golden (which contains VN elements) are amazing games I can personally attest to.

Other than that though, we’re starving for visual novels in the West – if someone would hook us up (I’m looking at you XSEED/Aksys), I’m sure we’d buy enough of their titles to make it worth it.

Racing (sort of)

gran_turismo_5

“Racing? But there’s a lot of racing games for Vita!” you might say – but then again you might not be in North America. While it’s true we did okay with first year racing games like F1 2011, Ridge Racer, Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, year two wasn’t anywhere near as kind. In February of 2013 us North Americans got our last proper release with MUD, though we received the long-delayed WRC3 not long after.

A full year later and we’re yet to see any real racing titles hit the Vita in North America (we’re still missing titles like MotoGP13 and WRC4 which hit Europe), and we’re all without staples in the Gran Turismo, Grid, DIRT and Nascar series’. We need more racing titles, and you know a Gran Turismo would be a system seller – the wait for the rev of some new engines is getting tiring.

Open World Titles

GTA

One of the biggest outcries since the launch of the Vita is that it’s lacking open world titles. Though a few games have come along that fill this criteria, they’re still few and few between – titles like Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation and Gravity Rush do little to quell cries for games like Grand Theft Auto, inFamous and Skyrim. The open world titles we have appeal to a subset of users and not a giant group – we need those big open world RPG or action titles, and as of right now there are a few on the horizon (though they’re partly niche titles as well).

Titles like Akiba’s Trip 2 and Borderlands 2 hope to offer a more complete experience when they launch later this year in the West, but for now we’re twiddling our thumbs and eyeing that copy of Liberation we’ve all completed and are torn whether to even touch again.

In Conclusion…

While missing these titles in no way takes away from the awesomeness that is the Vita’s solid handheld library, it does give those considering purchases some pause. There are some omissions that are talked about so much that there’s little doubt a proper version would be what we consider a “console seller”, and yet we’ve heard no word about anyone paying those omissions any attention. Would we benefit greatly from an NHL or NBA title on Vita? Hell yes we would. Would GTA or Gran Turismo make people run out to their local game store and buy a Vita? You bet your ass!

Please; someone take heed of what we’re missing. Not that I’d wish them on anyone, but even mediocre titles in most of these genres would likely make a difference – and yet there seems to be little interest to get them out there. Are you guys wearing your sunglasses inside, or can you simply not see what’s right in front of you?

For the love of gaming, a little help please – we promise it’ll pay off.

  • ruefrak

    I was always hoping we’d get more open world games like Red Dead or Assassin’s Creed. I don’t have the time to sit in front of my tv for the hours these games require, but on the Vita they’d be perfect. Pick up and play for a bit and then suspend the game when I had to stop. AC Liberation was close, but just technically kind of messed up.

  • VitaRG

    I agree with this article. I would like to play another Ridge Racer since I platinum the last one. Also wouldn’t mind a GTA or even a port of San Andreas with trophies, Even with the horror genre I would love a Horror game that keeps you on your feet.

  • jpelgrom

    [header image] That’s a lot of Vita games. Do you really own that much retail Vita games, or is it just an image you found on the internet?

    • Kyle Wakeling

      It’s an image I found on the internet; while my Vita collection is every bit that big, it’s only around 1/3 of that physically with the rest digital.

  • El Casual

    Good article.

  • Rodolfo Ferreira

    I agree with everything Kyle pointed out in the article. But the truth is, while android is still breathing, our beloved handheld will never get the games, period. Devs listen to Sony, Sony tell ’em to make games for the PS4 and that’s what they do. Two years later, Vita’s library is full of ports, re-skinned games, ripped off games and…Sony’s games. Eastern devs are the ones who keep the handheld going. No support from Sony when it comes to LETTING EVERYONE KNOW the Vita exists on a TV ad. SCEA do not know the Vita exists, or at least they pretend so very well. If the Vita does not get the support from a big softhouse, I believe it’s pretty much done in the US.

    • jakdripr

      Honestly I’m very close to giving up on the vita. Pretty much if sony doesn’t announce some top notch shit at e3 this year I don’t think things will ever change for the vita. It’s a shame really, the handheld has some serious potential but it’s been reduced to a port machine. And you know what, I wouldn’t even mind that if it was handled properly. Make all PSN titles cross-buy & cross-save and I could find some use for it but nope, stuck having to buy two copies of most games that I want to play on my ps3 and on the go.

      Real goddamn shame.

  • nonscpo

    For visual novels you forgot to mention “Hakuoki”, as far as open-world is concerned I’m looking foward to Akiba’s Trip 2 (can’t wait to waist my days walking around Akihabara). You didnt mention RPG’s or JRPG’s (THE STAPLE OF ANY HANDHELD) but I suppose there’s no real need to mention them as were well taken care of on that end (Persona 4G, Conception 2, Mind Zero, Demon Gaze, etc, etc). You also didn’t mention side scroller beat-them-ups, as far as I know all we have is Dragons Crown (but not to worry as the 3DS isn’t any better all thats currently available is Code of Princess and Senran Kagura Burst)

    • Kyle Wakeling

      Off the top of my head, both Guacamelee and Muramasa Rebirth fall into the beat-’em-up genre as well (though not exclusively). RPGs of most kinds need not be mentioned as many are in development or already released.

      I must admit though, not too versed in visual novels – so while I recognize the name Hakuoki, I omitted it out of ignorance and not disdain 😉

      • nonscpo

        Cool, didn’t know about Guacamelee being a beat-them-up, for some resonance I thought it was a platformer. To be fair Hakuoki isn’t my taste either but being a Visual Novel I still felt it deserved an honorable mention.

        • Slizarus

          Guacamelee is both, with sometimes quite difficult platforming segments (near the end) and lots of beat ’em up fights.

  • Slizarus

    I’m content to wait, I thought the 3DS and PSP were crap when they came out too, but now look at them. (Though PSP was a different era where gaming tablets didn’t exist)

    EDF is also a Third Person shooter that offers substantial variety in weaponry 🙂

    And There are some solid games still in development for the Vita. I have no doubt it’ll survive. Just wait till Minecraft Vita comes out and every kid will get one, Portable Minecraft? Please and thank you.

  • italodance

    Great post Kyle tnx man you should have send it to Sony

  • ‘the wait for the rev of some new engines is getting tiring’

    😀

  • fatdog21

    Great article and 100% right. I feel the types of games that interests gamer in the west like shooter and open lack world games we dont get. I love Killzone Mercenary but its goin on six months and im ready for a diffent shooter….im ready for the type of variety that we had on the psp to come to the vita.

  • Griever

    I really wish there were more strategy titles coming to Vita. When Final Horizon was announced to be another tower defence game, rather than an RTS as I first suspected, I was genuinely quite disappointed. Like you say, they do so well on tablets & smartphones that I thought more of them would be making the leap across.

    I’d also love to see more racing games. I bloody love WipEout; Need for Speed & Ridge Racer but apart from that the library is quiet. I’m thinking of diving into some of Milestone’s games (particularly MXGP & WRC) but I’d still love to see Codemasters or someone commit to the handheld a bit more.

    I actually don’t really have the desire to play any other FPS games on Vita after Killzone Merc. It was great, and it’ll be the game I return to if I ever want to play an online FPS. But I definitely think the genre is more suited to home consoles and one decent FPS with a good online mode is enough for me.

    • Griever

      Oh, and one thing I’d like to add as well is: I wish more devs took a tumble on making downscaled home console versions of games rather than upscaled 3DS versions.

      Yes, I realise sometimes it wouldn’t work. I’d imagine something like Batman Arkham Origins wouldn’t run very well on Vita.

      But stuff like the LEGO games; Farming Simulator etc. could run on Vita with just a bit of fiddling, and I’d imagine they’ll be all the better for it.

  • Owen McNamara

    Absolutely agree. I’ve griped about the lack of FPS games on here before, but even more people are clamoring for at least a proper GTA (and most would be quite happy with GTA: San Andreas being ported over, thank you very much). Indie developers are kicking ass and taking names (and large quantities of the contents of our wallets), but first and third party publishers seem few and far between in their offerings, especially outside of Japan. It’s gotten to the point where I applaud ANY game that isn’t a dungeon crawler or JRPG, even ones I have no interest in like Football Manager. The Vita cannot live and die on remote play alone.