People often ask me how I like my Vita. More people don’t ask me what I think of my Vita. I find however, that whether or not someone asks me for my opinion on the Playstation Vita, I am giving my opinion of it. I love my Vita. I think it is a fantastic system with a library that is small on its own, but is actually really large if you take into account the extras. It plays PSP games, it plays PS1 games, and it has a lot of great games on its own. What I think gets you the most value in this system though, is the types of games you see in the available library. My PSP got a lot of play not because of the short, quirky games; which were fun, don’t get me wrong. The Japanese-style RPG’s are where the real value is on Sony handhelds. My PSP was a JRPG machine, and my Vita has quickly turned into that as well. Between the PS1 Classics, which include Final Fantasy V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, as well as other venerable series such as Breath of Fire, and the PSP library, which has things like Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions and Persona 3 Portable, the Vita has thousands of gaming hours available in the back catalog alone, often times for cheap.
Despite the massive amount of gaming choices available for the intrepid RPG gamer on the Vita, there are some glaring holes in what is otherwise a stellar library, especially from the PS2 era. While a few of these games are old titles that really have no reason to not be available on the Vita, some are more modern titles that while great on their native systems, would feel a lot better on Sony’s powerful portable. I know at times there would be a great deal of work needed to even think of getting the game on the Vita, but I don’t care. This is a wish-list.
Lost Odyssey: This beast of a game came out in 2007 on the Xbox 360. One of the first attempts on the Microsoft system to woo Japanese gamers, this game came by way of Mistwalker Studios, headed by Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Coming in at 4 discs and featuring the first 1080p graphics for a RPG on the system, Lost Odyssey was probably the best Final Fantasy game of the generation, despite not coming from Square Enix. It felt a lot more like a Final Fantasy than the garbage featuring Lightning. The hurdles of getting this game to the Vita are most likely too numerous for this title to ever be given serious thought. First of all, I am pretty sure Microsoft helped Mistwalker make parts of the game, which makes it unlikely it would cross over. Also, the game is huge, at 4 discs, there are probably a ton of art and sound assets that would need to be downscaled to a large degree to give this game a prayer of working on a handheld. It’s a shame too, because this would probably be the perfect game for the Vita. It still looks great today, sounds great, and reminds you why Final Fantasy was so good in the SNES and PS1 era.
Dragon Quest VIII: This game is coming out on iOS. Frankly that gives it no excuse as to why it couldn’t be ported over to the Vita. This long, pitch-perfect adventure came out in 2004 on the PS2 and really took hold in North America in a way Enix had never seen previously. If you’re ready for a 60-hour anime RPG, then this game is amazing. Akira Toryama’s art really popped on the PS2, basically making the game look like a swords and sorcery version of Dragonball Z, complete with spiky-hair super-transformations. The powerful and sharp screen of the Vita would be a perfect fit for this game, and being on the PS2, file size honestly would not be much of a concern. Also this game was a PS2-exclusive until only recently. Compared to Lost Odyssey, Dragon Quest VIII is a title that really shouldn’t have many hurdles in coming to the Vita.
Shadow Hearts: It is not often a Japanese RPG takes place in Europe right before the first World War kicks off. But then again, not all games are Shadow Hearts. Featuring a great combat system that keeps the player engaged with active button timing, and a story that was off the walls bonkers with demons, looming war, and general Japanese insanity, this is a game that blazed its own path back in 2001. Spawning a couple of sequels, these games have a dedicated following to this day that will probably continue to be nothing but saddened by the handling of the IP. Chances of this game are basically nil, with the developer Sacnoth (eventually Nautilus) going under, and the rights now in the hands of Aruze Gaming. Aruze has absolutely no interest in the property, with no mention of it anywhere on its website, presumably because it is not a neon slot machine. This is a real shame, because in our HD era, people deserve to see this great gem.
Suikoden III, IV,V: Every day, I am becoming more and more sure that Konami secretly hates its fans. The first Suikoden came out on PSN very quickly, and then nothing. It seems like there may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon with Suikoden II, as it was recently reviewed for classification by the ESRB. However, it doesn’t mean the downtrodden fans of Konami’s hidden gem should rest on their laurels. Suikoden III was an amazing game in its own right; featuring great visuals, and three well-developed protagonists. Suikoden IV tried some new stuff and was hit and miss, but had a great setting that allowed the series a little freedom from its past for a bit. Suikoden V was a sprawling adventure that featured so many callbacks to games past, it felt like a big thank you from Konami to those of us who had stuck with the series since the PS1. However, that thank you was quickly followed with a fuck you, with the only Suikoden game coming out since then was the terrible DS title, and then nothing but silence. I cannot help but feel that the only reason these games could not come to the Vita is Konami’s stupid insistence to forget these games were ever even made. They were all on the PS2, and could probably come out as a collection similar to the FFX HD on the Vita; one title on the cart, and the other two get downloaded through PSN. Or sell them individually for ten dollars a piece, it would be nice to see this series get the love it deserves.
Dragon Force: I thought this was the longshot of my initial list, until I did some reading about Shadow Hearts. A mainstay of my Ebay search history, this game came out for the Sega Saturn in 1996, and was nothing short of a revelation for me. Featuring deep, “Rock-Paper-Scissors” gameplay hidden behind colorful, engaging army battles, and the absolutely perfect localization job of Working Designs, this game is something that was experienced by far too few people. This is a long, but highly replayable game that would be perfect for a portable system, especially the Vita’s snappy suspend function. Sega seems to own this game outright, so I really don’t see anything that would stop it from coming out on PSN, or even as a full-fledged re-release. Maybe the localization would have to be redone, since Working Designs is no longer around. XSEED did a great job on the PSP Lunar though. So maybe in my dreams, Sega could contact them, and I wouldn’t have to buy a Saturn, and a 100 dollar copy of this game on Ebay? That would be nice.
I have a few other JRPGs I would love to add to this list, but they will have to wait for another time. However, I have to say, if even half the games from this list made the jump to the PS Vita, I would say it was the definitive machine for games in this genre. It may in fact already have that title, but as always there is room for improvement, and I hope to see it. Until next time.