Thursday, May 17, 2012

Doubting the PlayStation Vita

This is going to be an unstructured, disorganized, mostly-off-the-cuff blogpost composed while my non-functioning Verizon box fails to show the Community mega-finale. And it (the post) is about two of the biggest question marks in gaming today: the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation Vita.

The success of the PSP isn't very easy to define. It undersold in the United States (WAY behind the DS), sold respectably in Europe (a little behind the DS), and sold like gangbusters in Japan (it's a major device for the Japanese juggernaut, Monster Hunter). So is it successful, or is it a failure? Compare it to the DS, and it's a failure. Judge it by the strength of its library, and it's actually not that bad (really). Compare it to Sony's goals and judge it by its overall sales and critical success, and... no one is totally sure. There's some disagreement. Still, it was successful enough for Sony to give it a successor, the PSVita, which is an incredibly comfortable, powerful, and expensive piece of hardware that's barely a few months old and awaiting a killer app or three before it enjoys decent sales. (edit: this paragraph was probably my worst-ever use of extraneous parentheses; the over-under for parenthetical asides in this post is 16.8)

Thanks in large part to Monster Hunter, Final Fantasy, Disgaea, and Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (TitS, heh), the PSP barely edges out the DS to be the videogame system I've played the most in the past 6 years. I'm a huge fan of the PSP's library, and I'm also a big fan of several of the improvements made by the Vita. I'm neutral on the digital-only library and necessary extra memory (I like discs and it's too expensive, but it's the future and I hate clutter), but the hardware and interface itself is impressive indeed. I want one, but not until there are several games I want on it. I'm not worried; those games will come, and I'll eventually be enjoying a shiny new Vita.

But wait, there's more. The PSP still has some life left in it, which would ordinarily be a good thing. There is a significant library of games for the PSP, mostly Japanese RPGs, that I haven't even tried, much less bought, and the recent advent of the Vita caused their prices on PSN to drop dramatically. I'm mostly referring to games localized in the United States by Atlus, XSeed, and NIS America, with the odd title from one of the big boys (Capcom, Square-Enix, Namco, SCEA). I'm mostly thinking of the the Persona games, the Ys games, NIS properties, Dissidia 012, Godz Eater Burst, and of greatest concern, a few Japan-only games that may or may not arrive on US shores (Final Fantasy Type-0, TitS 2 and 3, and anything Monster Hunter).

So it would appear that I don't have a dilemma. The PSP has a ton of interesting games I still want to play, and I could likely play most of them on a Vita. The best solution is to salivate over these games until I get a Vita, then put them on said Vita so I don't have to restart them from scratch. Sounds okay, right? But then there are the complications....

First, the Vita is suffering right now. It doesn't have a slam dunk title like Monster Hunter to move units like the PSP did, or even a system-unique Final Fantasy (high-tier fanbase) or Castlevania (mid-tier fanbase) to get people interested. Bottom line is I worry about the future of the Vita, and as such I'm having doubts that a few of those aforementioned Japanese games (I mostly care about TitS, har) might not even make it over on the system.

To make matters more suspect, XSeed recently put Ys: The Oath in Felgana (probably paraphrasing / misspelling that title...) on Steam, to unknown success. It was on the bestseller list for a few days, maybe longer, but I have no idea how its PC numbers compare to its PSP numbers. Since all of those PSP Falcom games started out on the PC (basically Ys, TitS, and older Legend of Heroes games), it's just as easy if not easier for XSeed to put these games on Steam over the PSP or even just the PSN (which also means Vita). I would seriously consider getting these games on Steam over the PSN. Not an easy call for me.

Another note: Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, the Monster Hunter I'd be playing right now if it weren't for Capcom's lack of faith in the Unite fanbase, had an HD version recently released for the PS3 (downloadable from PSN). If Capcom eventually comes out with a MHP3rdG, which I'm 99% sure they will, then I assume it would land on the Vita and also the PS3. Why not? A ton of Vita games have cross-game-compatibility with their PS3 versions (including Capcom's fighting games available on both systems), and they just did that HD port. I already own a PS3, and I might not need that shiny new Vita to play the next Monster Hunter Freedom available in the United States.

So, bottom line: I want a Vita, but it A) doesn't have a Monster Hunter or another compelling game, B) might not see a few Japanese games I'm anticipating, C) could have several of its games available on other platforms I already own, and D) might fail almost as quickly as the PSP Go did. I could buy some more PSP memory and download those currently-available games I mentioned earlier, and the only games I'd be missing out on are pure Vita exclusives, which are few, far between, and not terribly impressive. I was excited for the PSVita at first, but I now have lingering doubts.


That's all for tonight. Nothing new to report on the gaming front, but I'm pretty sure I'll wrap up Red Dead Redemption and Star Ocean: Second Evolution before the end of May. I also have plenty of comics and graphic novels in the reviews pipeline. Good night, and good luck.

1 comment:

  1. I am just going to wait for more rpg games. Hopefully the memory will go down by then.