While I don't think the Vita should try and match the 3DS in the boxed retail space, I don't think there's any denying that the system could use a little more in the way of "AAA" titles. While 2013 was good to the Vita with releases like Sly Cooper, Rayman, Killzone, Tearaway, and a number of major Easterntitles, 2014 is looking a bit bare. Gravity Rush 2, Soul Sacrifice Delta, and the rumored Sly 5 are on the horizon, but the rest of the Vita's major releases are mostly Eastern titles, leaving those in the West with less to look forward to.
We've got a ton of these, but where's the retail push from Sony?
I like the unique spot the Vita has carved out for itself, mixing a dedicated handheld with physical games, smaller digital titles, and companion features with the PS3 and PS4, but I certainly wouldn't mind more major releases from Sony and its partners either. In the past, Sony has looked to their popular console franchises to create portablespinoffs from. While these games are oftentimes quality, they rarely create the same level of enthusiasm from gamers as the core titles, many of whom are too busy playing these console installments in the first place.
Instead, Sony should look to the Playstation back catalog for future Vita titles. Franchises that haven't been touched in a while, or simply haven't been given the love and attention they deserve. Franchises that are stylized, wouldn't cost a ton to develop, and would fit the Vita well. Here are four ideas on where they should start:
1) Jak and Daxter Series (3D Action Platformer) -Developers: Naughty Dog, Ready at Dawn, High Impact
-Last Installment: The Lost Frontier (PS2/PSP - Nov 2009)
One third of the trio that helped define the Playstation 2.
Status: Ratchet & Clank has continued to see almost yearlyinstallments since its inception in 2002, and Sanzaru is now in charge of the Sly Cooper franchise. So what happened to Sony's other iconic PS2 plaformer? After Naughty Dog finished Jak 3 in 2004, then newly formed studio Ready at Dawn went on to develop the excellent Daxter spin off for PSP in 2006. While they have since moved on as well, High Impact Games (the developer of two Ratchet spin offs) went on to create a fourth Jak platformer, albeit one that wasn't up to snuff with its predecessors.
Future: There are currently no plans to make a fifth Jak and Daxter platformer. While Naughty Dog toyed around with the idea of a Jak reboot when they split their studio in 2009, that team instead went on to make something very different. It is currently unknown what they are making now. High Impact is mostly doing licensed and mobile games, but I'm sure they'd jump at the chance to make another high profile sequel in a major Sony franchise. The Jak brand still has weight with consumers, and a new game with the right resources could really give the Vita a new killer app. If need be, there's no reason why Sony couldn't make this a dual Vita/PS4 release like they're doing with Sly now, making them Cross Buy and selling the latter at a discounted price.
Ever since that PS1 Demo Disc, I've been sold on this series. Where's my new sequel?
Status: This has never been one of Sony's biggest franchises. Across three installments, the series has only managed to move about 2M units at retail, but has generally reviewed well and has been fondly remembered by many fans and games writers. Studio Cambridge (now a sister developer of Guerrilla Games), created two titles on PS1, the latter of which released right after the PS2's Japanese launch. The original was remade for the PSP, but it was less well received than the original.
Future: Without the brand recognition of some of Sony's other franchises, MediEvil has been a bit neglected over the years. Apparently, Sony did have plans for a new installment on PS3, PSP, or potentially both, but nothing ever came of it. Guerrilla Cambridge just finished Killzone: Mercenary on Vita, and would now be available to make a new game in this series. More so than anything, I think this game would help show that Sony cares about more than a handful of bankable franchises, and that the Vita is and rightfully should be the place for more obscure, interesting games like this.
3) LocoRoco Series (2D Platformer) -Developer: Japan Studio
-Last Installment: Midnight Carnival (PSP/Android - Oct 2009)
Potentially the happiest game of the seventh generation.
Status: The first LocoRoco was an early PSP title, and while it didn't sell incredibly well, I think most people remember this series for its colorful art style, upbeat music, and simple, laid back gameplay. While it might not have done very well as a $40 product, its more reasonably priced sequel and spin off did a little better. The similarly priced PSP game Patapon, which is also known for its delightful art style and music, largely went on to replace LocoRoco in Sony's portable software lineup.
Future: As it stands, there isn't any news about a new LocoRoco game. Patapon 3 was finished in 2011, and Studio Japan has since worked on a number of other solo and collaborative efforts, including a handful of newVitagames. This team is big, and they could easily form a studio to develop a new LocoRoco at any point. Could a game like this be done on consoles? Sure. But it works best on handhelds. It's cute, it's bite sized, and (optional) tilt controls could be a great addition to the series.
Huh? 1080° and Wave Race? Were you deprived as a child?
Status: While Sony made a numberofattempts at creating arcade racers on the PS1, these are probably the two which are most memorable. Cool Boarders helped usher in a wave of action sports games into the industry, while Jet Moto helped prove what 3D could really do for racing games. Both franchises saw five and three installments, respectively. While hardly critical darlings, both series proved to be strong financial successes early on for Sony, and helped cement Playstation's image of being a game system instead of a "toy".
Future: The original team that worked on Cool Boarders 1&2 has since closed, while the developer who did the latter three games (Idol Minds) has moved onto smaller titles and ports. Sony hasn't touched the franchise since. Both teams behind Jet Moto have closed their doors, with twoattempts at reboots failing to be completed. Big budget games in either franchises probably wouldn't survive today, but a small Wipeout 2048 style sequel could absolutely work on the Vita. Both Idol Minds and SD Studio (who were formed from the remnants of 989 Sports), could work on a new installment in either franchise. Both series could work great as a dual Vita/PS4 release with Cross Play, and would help bring back some of that '90s Playstation nostalgia and enthusiasm.
-PaRappa the Rapper (Last Seen: PaRappa the Rapper 2 - 2001) Why it would work: Few PS1 games have the cult following that PaRappa does. Like MediEvil, it never sold particularly well back in the day, but it was well reviewed and much beloved. This probably isn't a franchise you reboot with a $60 PS4 game, but I think it could work well on Vita, maybe as a download only title if they wanted to keep it low risk. And honestly, what else in the industry today is like this game?
-Ape Escape (Last Seen: Million Monkeys - 2006) Why it would work: The first game was damn good back in the day, and much like Jak it also sold pretty well. The franchise has had a rough going from there. Recently, Ape Escape has moved away from its platforming roots, and has instead been used for party games on the PSP and PS3. Take the team at Studio Japan behind Ape Escape: On the Move, gather up some of the talent that did the original three, and set them loose on Vita with the same creativity that made Gravity Rush so interesting and enjoyable.
The most surprising thing about these games at the time was their Western appeal.
A Couple Extras:
There's a few other franchises I think might be worth digging up as well. Mark of Kri and Rise of Kasai were two action adventure games on the PS2 which were unfortunately overlooked by a lot of people. SD Studio was behind the original, which was well reviewed at the time. Heavenly Sword falls into a similar situation. Well received, but with the original studio moving onto otherthings, it's laid dormant in Sony's IP vault. It's unlikely that either would get a PS4 installment in favor of a God of War sequel or reboot, both could be good fits for Vita in the right hands. The upcoming Heavenly Sword film leads me to believe that Sony isn't done with the latter franchise quite yet.
Syphon Filter is a game I wanted to put on this list, but opted not to. With Bend Studio moving from Uncharted: Golden Abyss on to a PS4 project, I think the chances of a PS4 Syphon Filter are pretty good. With multiplayer shooters like Unit 13 and Killzone already on Vita, that's probably for the best. On a more obscure note, I think The Getaway or Siren might be a couple interesting franchises to work on. London Studio hasn't done a major game inyears, and Project Siren is scheduled to finish work on a Gravity Rush sequel this year. I'm sure both would enjoy another crack at the franchises they created.
Sony's picks for All-Stars gave me faith these franchises aren't dead.
Over nearly 20 years, Sony has managed to build an incredibly impressive IP catalog. While it hardly puts Nintendo's to shame, there's no denying the fact that their first and second party studios have put out some really incredibly software over the years. For financial and management reasons, some of these franchises get more attention than others. While the big blockbuster titles are more suited to the console experience, I think the Vita is a great place to take risks and do some interesting stuff with Sony's back catalog. And maybe create a couple new things along the way too.
What about you guys? What Sony franchises would you love to see on the Vita, and what classic IPs would you love to see make a comeback? Feel free to throw your two cents in the comments! And if you like what you read, show support and give a fellow blogger an upvote. Cause that would just warm my cold heart. Honest.
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About ctg867one of us since 2:47 AM on 11.29.2013
I'm a dude who plays games and comments about stuff. Been on Dtoid since the Jim Sterling days (2010-ish), though this account's a bit newer than that. Not quite as active as I used to be, but you'll still see me in the front page. I'll throw the occasional blog up from time to time, too.
I'm on Twitch at ctg867, mostly playing old games because nostalgia. And I'm on Twitter -- @KennyGoo -- if you're into that sort of thing. Fair warning, I tweet about a ton of shit that's not gaming related.