Tag Archives: persona

Ranking the Games of the PlayStation Classic

psx classic gamesWhen the PlayStation Classic was announced a few months ago it was only revealed what 5 of the included 20 games were going to be. It was odd, but considering most places pre-sold out I suppose it didn’t matter. When Nintendo had success with the NES Classic Edition, it meant we were in for more of these devices. Myself and many others tried to predict what would be included on a potential SNES Classic and most people probably came pretty close to nailing the final line-up. Nintendo is heavy with first-party titles and its brand is forever connected with the likes of Mario and Link. With Sony, that first-party recognition isn’t there. During the height of the original PlayStation, Crash Bandicoot was positioned as the company’s mascot, but he wasn’t even owned by Sony. His games were just published by Sony, but the character would eventually come to be owned by Activision. Still, it seemed inconceivable that Sony would pass over Crash, and yet they did! He will not be appearing on the PlayStation Classic as Sony has finally unveiled the remaining 15. I knew predicting the line-up would be more difficult than doing so with the SNES Classic, but apparently I didn’t realize just how hard it would be as I went a putrid 1 for 15 with my predictions.

I suppose if I wanted to give myself bonus points I could dampen that showing by saying I at least hit on two additional franchises. And two of my requested titles (Intelligent Qube and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo) actually made it, even though I thought it would be a long shot to see them included. There’s no hiding from it though, I whiffed big time and I’ll own that. The actual line-up has likely surprised many and it has some nice surprises and some not-so-nice surprises. It’s a weird line-up, and since the PSX era did have some weird games I suppose that’s appropriate. There are three puzzle games among the 20, no 2D fighters, and only one title each from Konami, and Square-Enix. That means no Mega Man, Lara Croft, or Alucard. Were publishers not willing to “play ball” with Sony and its machine? Or was Sony just not willing to pay more for bigger titles? The Japanese version does have some different titles, including Parasite Eve and SaGa Frontier, but the Japanese market is a lot smaller than the North American one so maybe Sony is trying to maximize profits outside of Japan and is less concerned about the home country.

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There are a lot of contenders for biggest snub, but Alucard might be the biggest.

This is not an optimal line-up of games, but does that make it bad? Lets suss it out and rank these titles starting with the least appetizing:

20. Battle Arena Toshinden – A decent looking launch title, it was quickly overwhelmed by Namco’s Tekken franchise. Most people forget about this franchise, and with good reason. It’s not a good game, and it’s odd to use this one instead of the better sequel, but even that game isn’t great.

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Excited to revisit this one?

19. Destruction Derby – This game was a one-trick pony when it was released in the launch window of the PlayStation. It was cool to see cars explode and get smashed-up and it was sort-of perversely fun inflicting damage on other vehicles, but it was all empty calories. No one should be playing this game in 2018.

18. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six – This was one of the most heavily marketed games of its era. I probably saw more commercials for Rainbow Six than I did Final Fantasy VII. It’s okay, but the PSX port was pretty abysmal. Anyone playing Rainbow Six in 1998 probably shouldn’t have been playing it on PSX. Electronic Gaming Monthly even awarded it a dubious 3.8/10.

17. Jumping Flash! – We knew this one was included, and I even argued it had a place given it was a launch title and was just so very “of the era.” That doesn’t mean it’s particularly good and by today’s standards it’s quite ugly. Unlike the games listed before it though, it has a certain curiosity factor going for it that will make it worth a look when the PS Classic drops, but it might not be a game you actually stick with.

16. Cool Boarders 2 – If you like snowboarding and “extreme” sports games, then you’ll probably have this one ranked higher. It’s all right, but most people will probably wonder why it’s here and not Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (it’s the licensing, folks).

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I probably logged over 100 hours with this game, but I’ve never wanted to replay it after Twisted Metal 2 came out.

15. Twisted Metal – I loved this franchise on PlayStation, well the first two games at least. The first one though has not aged well at all, and even in the moment, I knew I was playing a junky game, but it had a certain fun factor. The sequel though is way better and actually still playable. I considered it the most obvious lock for the mini console even ahead of Metal Gear Solid so the fact that this game is included but the sequel is not blows my mind.

14. Oddworld:  Abe’s Odyssey – I said the PS Classic has three puzzle games, but you could make the case Oddworld is more of a puzzle game than a true platformer. This game was hyped a bunch as being a game that gave the player numerous ways to solve a problem, but it didn’t really play out that way. It was interesting, but hardly great. It’s graphical approach should hold up well enough though.

13. Wild Arms – One of the previously announced titles, I gave my speech on it already. It’s serviceable, and its simple JRPG mechanics mean it will always remain playable. It’s just a bit crazy to think that this machine has only three RPGs when the PSX was an RPG behemoth, and Wild Arms is one of the three.

12. Grand Theft Auto – GTA was a surprise hit for the PC when it was released, and it was somewhat surprising to see it get a PSX port. It was also the first title I was denied an ability to purchase at a GameStop. Like modern GTA titles, it was arguably at its best when it was just played like a sand box causing mayhem. Unlike modern GTA titles, the actual missions and story isn’t that rewarding and the game was really difficult. It was at least a little easier to handle on the PSX than with a keyboard. It should still be fun to screw around with, but might not have much legs with the PS Classic.

Intelligent-Qube

The inclusion of Intelligent Qube is a bit of a surprise. Is it a system-seller? Probably not, but it’s worth a look if you end up getting a PS Classic.

11. Intelligent Qube – This was a surprise inclusion, but a worthwhile one. It’s an interesting puzzle game that’s at least not another brick-falling puzzler. I don’t know how well it’s held up because it’s been many years, but it should be playable and may be a dark horse contender for many folks’ most played title on the Classic.

10. Resident Evil (Director’s Cut) – There’s no denying this title was huge for the PSX, and the Director’s Cut version was superior to the original. It is possibly the worst in the franchise on the PSX though and its controls are not something I look forward to returning to. It took many hours to get a handle on them in 1996 and I’m not sure I still have such skills. Maybe it’s like riding a bike?

9. Syphon Filter – This was basically Sony’s attempt at a first party MGS or Rainbow Six. It was fine for what it was, though I’d prefer a dual shock to play it. It’s going to look ugly, and even Gabe Logan’s running animation looked horrendous in ’99. It might surprise though, and the only reason why I didn’t include it in my prediction was because I didn’t think Sony would release it without dual shock support.

8. Ridge Racer Type 4 – A totally competent racer, but let’s face it, this isn’t the racing game you want. Gran Turismo was the first-party behemoth, but I’m guessing licensing issues made it impossible to include. WipeOut was an alternative racer, but one I’d consider more fun than Ridge Racer. I would have taken Crash Team Racing over this one, honestly, and I’m not sure if I’d even play this more than once on the PS Classic. The racing genre is one that basically improves a lot with better technology, so going back isn’t always fun unless it’s more of an off-beat title. I suspect this still plays well enough though, which is why I’m ranking it this high.

persona

I’m happy to see the original Persona included in this collection, but it’s also not a hard to find game so I wish something like Valkyrie Profile was included instead.

7. Revelations:  Persona – The first game in what is now known simply as the Persona series is the biggest surprise inclusion on the PS Classic. This was not a popular game when it was released, and Persona still has more of a cult franchise vibe than a mainstream one. The first game is not as good as more recent entries with the series really blossoming with Persona 3. It is still playable though, and it’s more strategy-oriented battle system differentiates it from Wild Arms and FFVII. This one is a nice surprise and unlike the original Final Fantasy on the NES Classic, fans who are only familiar with the newer entries might actually enjoy playing the first in the series as opposed to just checking it out for the sake of curiosity.

6. Mr. Driller – The nice thing about puzzle games is that they age well. Mr. Driller is another surprise inclusion. It was well-received in its day, but not really a system mover or anything. It’s fun and charming though and if you like puzzle games with a slight Tetris vibe then you’ll get some mileage out of this one.

5. RaymanRayman was all over the place in the mid-90s. He was so omnipresent that I kind of wrote him off for this system as I never associated him with PlayStation. His game is pretty good though, and its 2D approach should hold up just fine. I never loved Rayman, but I never hated his games either.

4. Metal Gear Solid – I’m not crazy about this list of games, if you haven’t noticed, but I do think it’s pretty top-heavy. The last four are mostly interchangeable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Metal Gear Solid tops many lists such as this one. My reasoning for placing it 4th is because I think we’re missing out on some of the bells and whistles with this version by not having the dual shock support and a memory card full of Konami games. I also think the game hasn’t aged too well and recent entries in the series really helped to smooth out the gameplay experience. It’s still a fantastic game, it’s just not as fantastic as it could be on the PS Classic.

puzzle fiighter

This is a great choice for inclusion. I have nothing bad to say about Puzzle Fighter.

3. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo – This is probably my favorite puzzle game. It’s incredibly addicting and the rare puzzler that might be more fun in two-player mode than single-player. It’s got a lot of charm and personality and its sprites should hold up very well. I’m a bit surprised at its inclusion, especially given the omissions of traditional Capcom fighters, but also delighted.

2. Final Fantasy VII – We’ve all probably played it. And even though there’s been backlash towards this title over the years because it’s the most recognizable from the long-running series, that doesn’t mean it’s still not in the conversation for best Final Fantasy game. It’s readily available on other platforms so its inclusion isn’t sexy, but it’s also necessary. If you’ve got about 40 hours, you should give this one some time.

tekken 3 jin

The visuals may not wow you like they did in 98, but Tekken 3 is still a blast to play.

1. Tekken 3 – And the best game of the PS Classic is Tekken 3. A late era title, it actually holds up quite well in the visuals department and the game is simply one of the best 3D fighters ever made. It has a huge roster of characters, some fun additional modes and characters, and there should be something for everyone in terms of fighting styles. If you don’t like 3D fighters then maybe this won’t win you over, but I spent many hours with this one and I’d actually be excited to run through it again and try to unlock all of the additional characters and modes. Well, maybe not Tekken Force Mode.

 

So that’s it; the PlayStation Classic and its 20 games. Are you going to get one? Did you already pre-order one and are reconsidering that decision? I’m over-all not impressed with these 20 games, the majority of which I don’t need to revisit. Even some of the games that I think are fine I still don’t want to really play in 2018. Why play Twisted Metal when you can easily play Twisted Metal Black? Why play Rayman over the easily acquired (and cheap) Rayman Legends? I wasn’t that excited over this console to begin with, as the nostalgia factor just isn’t quite there for me with the PSX era. If the list had turned out to be something closer to what I predicted I might have been tempted. With this list, though? I’m looking at spending 100 bucks to play Persona, Intelligent Qube, and Mr. Driller as the other games I really enjoy I still own for PlayStation and can play them right now if I want. I have a first-gen PS3 hooked up to my TV right now so nothing is stopping me from popping in Tekken 3 if I wish to play it. I’m not everyone though, so for those who loved the PSX and maybe sold all of their old games I can at least see some appeal, but I still feel like this roster is one big missed opportunity.


Persona 4: The Animation

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Persona 4 The Animation

Originally conceived as a spin-off of the Megami Tensei series of video games, the Persona series has blossomed into a full-fledged series able to stand on its own. In the minds of many, it has surpassed its sister series to become the tentpole franchise of developer Atlus’ numerous video game properties. And of the four main games released in the series, the most recent, Persona 4, is likely the most popular and most beloved. Which is why this game in particular has received numerous spin-offs of its own. From the fighting game Persona 4 Arena, to the rhythm game Dancing All Night, the Persona series, through Persona 4, has managed to touch multiple genres across several consoles. This is pretty impressive considering that Persona 4 is already eight years old. As a very late entry on the Playstation 2 console, it would not have been surprising for the game to make little or no impact considering many gamers had already moved onto newer consoles, but Persona 4 persevered and three years later found renewed life on the Playstation Vita in the form of Persona 4 Golden.

The game itself is an excellent example of what a modern Japanese Role Playing Game can offer. More importantly for the series, it introduced a wonderful cast of very likable characters that drive the story along. It’s because these characters proved so endearing that Atlus spun the series off into an anime. First released in Japan in 2011, Persona 4 The Animation largely stays true to the source material and tells the game’s story in anime form. It was because I enjoyed the energy of the game so much that I decided to check out the anime, even though the great mystery of the game was already known to me as a result of playing through it multiple times.

p4-group

The gang’s all here.

The Animation is a standard anime series consisting of 26 half hour episodes. The voice cast for the game is largely retained for the anime, and in the case of the english dub, is nearly identical to the cast from the Golden version. The only notable difference is the character Naoto, who is voiced by May Elizabeth McGlynn, who actually brings a deeper tone to Naoto that works better for the character’s secretive nature early on. The role of Kanji Tatsume is at first handled by his video game voice actor, Troy Baker, but he was replaced midway through by veteran voice actor Mathew Mercer. I don’t know what the reason was for the switch, but had I not told you about it you probably wouldn’t notice as the two gentlemen sound very similar. The voice acting of the english dub in the game plays a huge role in making the story fun and engaging and the cast brings the same energy to The Animation. I know in the world of anime fandom there are many purists who won’t watch the english dub, but for this series, I think you would be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring it.

The Animation is an adaptation of the original Persona 4 released on the Playstation 2 and features the same cast of characters as that game. Fans of The Golden version may be a tad disappointed to find out that there’s no Marie or ski trip sequence but what is here is the meat of the original game. Now, anyone who has played the game may be wondering how the anime handles the main character. That’s because in the game the main character is your typical silent protagonist that the player names at the start of play. For the anime, the main character has been given the name Yu Nakamura, and I am sure the name “Yu” is selected for the very obvious reason that it’s pronounced the same way as the word “you” which is how virtually every character refers to him in the video game. Yu is voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch, which fans of the game may recognize as the voice of Tohru Adachi, another character in the game. Bosch voices both for the anime, and in a confusing turn of events, his version of Yu sounds a lot like Adachi from The Golden version of the game with his Adachi for the anime speaking in a much higher register. It took me awhile before I stopped hearing Adachi every time Nakamura spoke, though that’s no slight on Bosch whom I consider a fine voice actor. Nakamura in the game is fairly confident and also sarcastic. This worked for me as I often opted for such a personality for my version of the character in the game whenever I was given dialogue options. For instance, when the boys are all signed-up against their will to compete in a drag contest Nakamura embraces the challenge and seeks to win while his buddy Yosuke is mostly horrified and embarrassed.

persona_4_the_animation-02

Yu discovers he can enter the TV. As far as super powers go it’s not quite on par with Superman, but still better than Aquaman.

The general plot for Persona 4 is that Yu has left the city to stay with his uncle Dojima and his daughter Nanako for a year while his parents are away. Dojima lives in the small town of Inaba where he’s a detective and almost right when Yu shows up in town a weird string of murders starts taking place. Yu makes friends with another transplant student, Yosuke, as well as the meat-obsessed girl Chie and her best friend Yukiko. Yu and his friends think the murders are tied to this weird rumor spreading around school about a secret Midnight Channel. On rainy nights, people appear on the Midnight Channel and then wind up dead a few days later. Yu discovers he actually has the power to enter the television, and upon doing so awakens his “persona” powers. He soon shows his friends who all must face their other self in the TV world before awakening their own personas. The plot unfolds with people appearing on the Midnight Channel before disappearing, at which point our heroes enter the TV World to save them. It’s there they battle shadows and befriend a strange looking bear named Teddie. Their group expands as they save people to include the loner Kanji, a newly retired idol named Rise, and a young detective named Naoto. Their investigation into who is behind these murders often forces them to cross paths with Dojima and his assistant Adachi which creates tension between Yu and his uncle. The story unfolds as a mystery with numerous red herrings placed in the way before the mystery is finally solved.

altnboam6zps5qotenzh

A fan favorite, The King’s Game, made the transition from game to anime quite well.

Through the 26 episodes, just as there were through the video game’s 40+ hours, the characters take time out to be high school students who have regular high school problems. The boys, particularly Yosuke, tend to be motivated by women which leads to many humorous situations. There’s plenty of instances of more sophomoric humor that largely works because the characters come across as so genuine and naive. I imagine it’s quite easy for people to identify with some of the stuff that goes on and it certainly takes me back to my own high school days. The anime also makes an effort to capture all of the various relationships Yu forms in the video game outside of his core group of friends. In perhaps one of the more creative episodes from the show, we follow Nanako around as he spies on Yu to see why he’s so busy during the summer. It’s through her we see familiar faces from the video game such as the old woman who refers to herself as Death, Sayoko from the hospital, and Shu, the boy Yu tutors in the game, among others. The following episode retreads the same ground but from Yu’s perspective. It was a clever way to try and work a lot of material into the anime that occurs in the game.

The hardest aspect for the anime in adapting the source material relies really in its scope. As I mentioned before, the game unfolds over roughly 40 hours, depending on your pace of play. It’s not at all uncommon to log twice that many if you’re really thorough. It’s really too much for one season of television and the anime is forced to pick and choose what it considers most important, and for the most part, it does a good job. What really gets short-changed the most is the TV World where the battling feels rather rushed. I feel if I had not played the game first the TV World would just confuse me as it’s not always clear how the characters fight with their personas. Some of the investigation tedium in between characters disappearing also gets condensed with the series moving at such a brisk pace. There’s not always time to indulge in the mystery and I really didn’t feel a part of the investigative process like I did with the game. More disappointing to me though was a lot of the scenes between Yu and Dojima were either condensed into fewer scenes or omitted from the anime. I felt their relationship wasn’t conveyed as well which is a shame because it was one of the most well constructed parts of the video game.

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Just as he can in the game, Yu wields multiple personas while everyone else is limited to just one.

Likely, your enjoyment of this series will largely come down to how familiar you are with the video game. This series feels like it was meant to supplement the game. It’s 26 episodes of fan service. Visually, the show looks fine though there are many instances where there’s little animation occurring on the screen, likely to save money. Some episodes look better than others, an often trademark of anime where more money is sunk into the most important episodes. It’s largely on par, or better, than the anime sequences in the game and the characters all look how you would expect. The music should also be familiar to those who played the original game, though some new compositions were made for the anime. It’s all quite good and the added songs kept the soundtrack from feeling as repetitive as the game sometimes would get.

Persona 4 The Animation is basically what I expected. It allowed me to spend a bit more time with the characters I loved from the game, even if I was just experiencing a more condensed version of the game’s plot in a more hands-off kind of way. If you’ve never played the game, I really would not recommend you check this anime out as I don’t think you’ll be getting full value. The anime is hard to come by in the US so I had to resort to amazon.com in order to acquire it. The Blu Ray release is split into two volumes, or sold as one large collector’s edition. It’s way overpriced so I opted for the DVD collection which was still a bit pricey compared to how much a season of a typical television show often costs. The visuals are not this anime’s selling point, so I don’t think I’m missing anything by getting it on a lesser medium such as DVD, but having never viewed the DVD I obviously can’t be certain. A 12-episode Golden season was released a few years later to add the sequences from Persona 4 Golden. Right now it’s even more expensive than the normal run and I can’t justify the cost to check it out. It would be nice if they had released a reasonably priced collection that merged the two into one cohesive story, like the game, rather than try to switch back and forth between the two to get the full story in the proper order. Still, it’s kind of cool they even bothered animating the Golden sequences and if it ever comes down in price I probably will check it out. The video game is still the way better experience, but I found Persona 4 The Animation worth the price of admission.


The Vita Experiment

images-115It’s been over a year since I purchased a Playstation Vita.  I have made only two dedicated posts on the subject since which may lead people to believe that I have not enjoyed my purchase.  Far from it actually, as the Vita has been getting a lot of attention from me and has probably been played more than my 3DS over that same time frame.  Not all that long ago I made an entry about the Wii U and how it has been a disappointment for me since it’s launch last November.  The Vita has similarly been a disappointment at retail, though for different reasons.  And while I’ve enjoyed my Vita thus far, I’m not anymore optimistic about its future than I am of the Wii U’s.  If anything, I’m more pessimistic since Nintendo has a lot more riding on the Wii U and is further incentivized to make sure it does not fail.  While Sony similarly has invested a great deal in the Vita, I get the sense that Sony could afford to have it fail and move on (though such an admission would likely end Sony’s attempt at penetrating the portable gaming market via a dedicated gaming device).

Not much has changed regarding my opinion of the Vita as a piece of tech since its launch last year.  The device is quite nice and it functions really well.  I have had no problems with my Vita in the year-plus that I’ve owned it.  No game freezing, no glitching, no nothing.  The screen is large and beautiful, the buttons placed well, and the twin analog sticks much appreciated.  I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I have yet to encounter a game that makes annoying use of the front and rear touch panels as developers have, so far, resisted the urge to shoe-horn touch controls into their games.  Just judging the console on its own merits it’s fantastic and easily the best portable gaming device ever created.

Unfortunately, it takes more than cool tech to make or break a console.  The Vita’s biggest obstacle so far has been price.  The Wi-fi edition retails for $250, which is a lot to ask of consumers for a handheld game console.  And that’s not all, memory cards have been obnoxiously priced from the start and easily push the total cost beyond $300 for any new adopters looking to get just one game with their system.  Sony has put out bundles that help trim some of the costs but it’s still a pretty big investment to get into the Vita.  Especially considering that consumers can get a pretty solid gaming experience on the go via their cell phones.  While true that there’s no cell phone equivalent to Uncharted:  Golden Abyss, many consumers seem content to save the money and just play games like that at home.  Combating mobile gaming is not a problem unique to Sony, but Nintendo has done okay with the 3DS since lowering the price which seems inevitable for Sony if it wants the Vita to have a fighting chance.

Some titles have been promoted as a 2 for 1, in that buying one copy of the game earns the ability to play it on the PS3 and the Vita.

Some titles have been promoted as a 2 for 1, in that buying one copy of the game earns the ability to play it on the PS3 and the Vita.

Aside from price, the other make or break aspect of any gaming device is the software.  Namely, the games.  Vita had a respectable launch on that front with several quality portable versions of strong games being made available alongside the aforementioned Uncharted title.  Uncharted has been a successful franchise for Sony on the PS3, though it doesn’t move units like some of the other premier video game franchises and it apparently wasn’t enough to attract a lot of early adopters.  Ever since the launch, the Vita has been spotty on the games front.  Some Vita exclusives like Gravity Rush and Assassin’s Creed:  Liberation have come and gone, and have failed to impress critics.  It feels like every Vita exclusive has scored in that 6.0-7.5 range with reviewers.  They’re good games, but not exactly system sellers.  The rest of the Vita’s catalog has been reduced to ports of console titles.  Some of these ports are done well, like MLB The Show, and work with their PS3 cousins.  One such game, Sly Cooper:  Thieves in Time, even came bundled with the Vita version allowing basically free portable play while others offer discounts when buying both.  Being able to play a console game on the go is certainly neat, but is it worth the added cost of getting a Vita?  Other ports, like last year’s edition of Madden, were done poorly which is inevitable with this sort of thing.  Developers are going to spend the most time on the editions of the game set to make the most money-making the Vita port an after-thought.

This may lead you to wonder what I’ve been playing that has allowed me to enjoy my Vita as much as I have.  Well, I made entries on my first Vita purchases, Rayman Origins and MLB, and my experience with both was positive.  I have since added the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, which contains the first two Metal Gear titles along with Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3.  I also have Little Big Planet Vita, which is an all new Little Big Planet title created for the Vita and is just as good as the console games.  I also downloaded a PSN exclusive called Dokuro which is an excellent platform-puzzle game.  Lately, I’ve been player Persona 4 Golden, a port of the PS2 game with some added content.  I think my library of Vita games is a decent representation of the console.  Most of it is composed of ports with only two titles unique to the Vita.  Of them all, it’s tough to say what I’ve enjoyed the most.  Playing the two MGS titles in HD and on-the-go was pretty damn cool and I had not played either in quite some time so it was really enjoyable for me.  Rayman Origins is just as good as the console version, which I don’t own, and is a title that works really well on a portable, well enough that I may get the Vita version alone of Rayman Legends when that comes out later this year.  Dokuro was the nice surprise, and is so far the only Vita game I would tell all Vita owners they should get.  It’s fun and it’s cheap which is always a winning combination in my book.  It also sports a unique look with its chalk drawing graphics and the game is pretty meaty as well.  Persona 4 has definitely been the title that I’ve spent the most time with.  I’m currently at the 80 hour mark and still going.  I never played the original so that helps, but even if I had I’d like to think I still would have bought this.  It’s an excellent game, though it’s dated visuals mean it won’t be the type of game you would buy to show off the Vita’s capabilities.

Dokuro, a download-only title in which you play as a skeleton and try to lead a princess to safety, is perhaps the Vita's best exclusive.  And you get to shoot the princess out of a canon.

Dokuro, a download-only title in which you play as a skeleton and try to lead a princess to safety, is perhaps the Vita’s best exclusive. And you get to shoot the princess out of a canon.

I’m nearly finished with Persona 4 so I’m now looking ahead.  I may switch back to the 3DS for a while as I have some games for it to check out, but in looking ahead to my next Vita purchase I’ve basically settled on Muramasa:  The Demon Blade.  Muramasa is yet another port of a console title, this one being a Wii game from a few years ago.  It’s a side-scrolling action title with beautiful hand-drawn visuals.  I never played the Wii version so it will be a new experience for me.  Aside from that, I’m uncertain what’s in store for the Vita.  It had a fairly poor showing at E3 this year, and the only exclusives I’m aware of are a new Killzone and Batman title (with the Batman title being available on the 3DS too, though one would hope the more powerful Vita would be the lead console).  I’m not a fan of the Killzone franchise, and while I’m interested in Batman, I fear it will turn out like AS:  Liberations and just feel like a lesser version of the console franchise.  These games do not seem like they’ll be big system sellers for the Vita, which has lost the PSP’s biggest franchise (in Japan, anyway), Monster Hunter, to the 3DS.  Sony does have plans for the Vita concerning the PS4.  Right now the aim is to have every PS4 game playable on the Vita via remote streaming.  This is a feature the PS3 supports but never made good use of which makes me skeptical that it will be widely available with PS4 titles.  Even if it is, I can’t see it being something that gets a lot of people to buy a Vita.  It can’t hurt, but will people spend over two-hundred dollars for the ability to play their PS4 games on a small screen?  The Wii U can do that with several games but it’s something I’ve only made use of here and there (though I also only play the Wii U here and there to begin with).

The Vita really needs this game to kick some serious ass.

The Vita really needs this game to kick some serious ass.

All of this leads me to one question:  Can I recommend the Vita to gamers?  I feel as if the answer to that question is “Yes,” but with qualifiers.  If you want a good portable gaming device then yes, the Vita is a good and worthwhile system to have around.  I didn’t touch on it much, but there are quite a few indie developers out there making excellent games for the PSN that figure to be made available on the Vita.  There are some good exclusives, and there are console games out there that are the same, if not better, on the Vita.  And if you’re into playing remakes, the Vita seems to be home to many such titles with more to come.  There’s also a plethora of PSOne and PSP titles available on the PSN for download and play on the Vita.  However, anyone thinking about buying a Vita needs to look at the current crop of games and decide if it’s worth buying just for these games alone.  The future is murky and we may have already seen the bulk of Vita’s exclusive third-party titles.  I do believe Sony will support the system at least thru 2014, but if things don’t pick up third-party developers will just use the Vita as a dumping ground for inferior ports of their console games.  And since the Vita, which currently is at least on par with the PS3, will soon be lagging behind the major home consoles those ports will become more expensive to make and may be bypassed all-together.  Someone recently asked me if they should get a Vita for their kids this coming Christmas.  The question was actually phrased as an either/or between a Vita and PSP.  I told them the PSP is not worth investing in at this point, but also to hold off on the Vita since a price-cut may be imminent.  I also slipped in the fact that by Christmas the PS4 will be out and their kids may want that more than a Vita and the difference in price may make the PS4 less expensive if this individual was thinking of getting a Vita for each kid.  That will likely be my response for anyone who asks me if they should get a Vita.  Wait for a price drop, or get a PS4 instead.  The future is just too uncertain for the Vita to give it a full recommendation.


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