Written by: Prince Luchini
Over the past few years, Sony’s neglected handheld device the Vita has been hanging on to dear life as content still releases on the platform. At the start, the Vita seemed promising with it being a powerful handheld device for its time, with big console franchises like Uncharted, God of War, Little Big Planet and so on being released for Vita. Due to those properties and the Vita itself not selling well, Sony decided to stop supporting the Vita. As the years passed, apps like Skype and Netflix began disappearing from the platform, and during E3 Sony stopped mentioning anything about it. I began to feel like Sony was done with it and was quietly killing it off, leaving Vita owners in the bushes.
On the flip side, the Vita has garnered a solid dedicated fanbase while also having a diverse catalogue. Just like with the Dreamcast, the Vita became a device where 1st party support was completely abandoned, and it came down to the efforts of diehard fans and developers taking it upon themselves to keep it alive. More specifically, niche Japanese and indie developers kept the Vita from pulling a Wii U. Developers like Atlus, Falcom, Vanillaware, and Nippon Ichi have been nonstop with the support for the Vita.
The parallels between the Vita and the Dreamcast aren’t hard to notice, but it’s still interesting to look at. The strongest one is the diverse library they both share. Along with its demise, the Dreamcast is widely known for its variety. From fighting games to weird virtual pet games like Seaman, the Dreamcast has many diamond in the rough kind of experiences. The Vita holds a similar regard as the Dreamcast; games like Hotline Miami, Skull Girls, and Severed are all unique experiences that performed well on the platform. Even though some of these games may have appeared on Steam, indie developers feel that these IPs feel right at home since there is always such high demand for unique titles.
Instead of being Sony’s flagship handheld, it has now morphed into its own ecosystem that has opened the gateway for indies and niche games in general. By being a gateway to smaller titles that would be overlooked on Steam, having a place on the Vita allows these titles to flourish. Even upcoming games like VA-11-Hall-A and Undertale were recently announced at E3, they were getting Vita ports. Limited Run Games, which is a company that gives physical releases to digital games, gives more life to the Vita and encourages the hardcore collectors to support underrated PS4 and Vita titles. This device has gained a life of its own, and while it never set the world on fire like the 3DS, it has made its own mark in gaming culture. Its original intent was to bring the console experience on the go. It has now become a haven for the indies and lowkey Japanese developers the can cater to their audience. The Vita with the support its getting seems like it has at least a 10-year life cycle ahead of it.