10 Classic PlayStation Titles That Are Missing From the Vita Store

10 Classic PlayStation Titles That Are Missing From the Vita Store - Article

by Adam Cartwright, posted on 11 September 2017 / 5,872 Views

Replaying classic games is something that’s very important to me (and likely something I’m going to continue writing about a lot in future). It’s a joy that’s been rediscovered thanks to the Vita, due to the console being perfect for playing PS1 classics, as well as PSP games, without making them look horrible on a big screen.

I’ve written previously about how the service with classic games on Vita could be improved and one of my major issues is that there are a number of key titles that are completely missing from the PlayStation Store. This inspired me to produce an article about what games are missing and I ended up coming up with about 50 different suggestions – from niche forgotten classics to multi-million selling blockbusters. Over time I narrowed that down to the ten most obvious omissions and I aim to examine what they are, why they’d be great on the Vita, as well as suggestions for why they’re missing.

 

Crash Bash

Crash Bandicoot was a legitimate star during the PS1 era. His games sold gangbusters and reviewed extremely well; advertising was everywhere and he was the mascot for the platform he was on. Sony decided to book-end his time on the home console with a party game spin-off entitled Crash Bash, which featured a variety of mini-games ranging from pushing opponents off platforms on the back of a polar bear to shooting gems at targets on the back of a dragon. It didn’t receive the most stellar reviews from critics and was definitely best played with friends, but I still had an absolute blast with it.

Every other game in the Crash series is available on the store – including the SCE-published Crash Team Racing – so it seems a bizarre decision to exclude Crash Bash. With a resurgence in the IP recently thanks to the recent release of the N-Sane Trilogy, perhaps there’s a fleeting chance we'll still get it, but it’s more likely that it will simply be remastered for Sony’s home console. Thankfully, there does seem to be a way to play a beta version of the game on the handheld if you’re into that.

 

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII


One of the PSP’s flagship titles was this prequel to Squaresoft’s seminal PS1 RPG Final Fantasy VII. Telling the story of Zach Fair, the SOLDIER whose memories were confused with Cloud’s during the events of the game, Crisis Core shifted the action into a third-person action-RPG perspective and filled in numerous plot gaps. The title was a resounding success, selling more than 3.1m copies worldwide and receiving a very positive critical reception. Sadly, despite all of this, it failed to show up on the PSP’s digital store when it launched and is still missing from the Vita’s store too.

The reasoning for this is fairly simple, and unfortunately something that I don’t ever see being resolved. The game modelled one of the main characters – Genesis – on the Japanese musician Gackt, who also provided the voice acting for the character. Combine this with the fact that the end theme – Why – was a licenced track by musician Ayaka, and you have a web of licencing issues to overcome for a digital release, which is the reason it was a UMD-only title. This is likely the same reason we don’t have a remaster too, although whether this changes with the advent of the episodic release of the Final Fantasy VII remake remains to be seen.

 

Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep

Square Enix titles are sadly a recurring theme in this article. Despite being one of PSP’s biggest supporters, they haven’t managed to get many of their handheld titles up on the digital store and as such Vita is missing a large number of them. This Kingdom Hearts prequel, following the stories of characters Aqua, Terra, and Ventus was a late-in-life game for the PSP and remained one of the handhelds most beautiful releases. It's also notable for providing a nice shift in the series' battle mechanics. Critical reception was positive, and while official sales numbers are unknown we estimate that it sold a healthy two million plus worldwide.

Why Birth by Sleep is missing from digital storefronts is unknown – it has previously been suggested that it was to do with licencing issues (again) relating to the Disney characters in the game, but these were seemingly overcome with the remastering of the game for the PS3 (and later PS4) in the HD 2.5 Remix collection. Why this couldn’t have also been fixed for a digital release is a mystery, but it's possible that Square didn’t want people buying this version and preferred them to spend their money on the home console collections.

 

MediEvil 2

The PlayStation Store has been a pretty good home for classic games, with many franchises fully represented from their PS1 days – things like Spyro the Dragon and Tomb Raider have every entry available on PSN. As such, when the original MediEvil appeared on PSN in 2007 it was easy to assume the sequel would make the jump too – but it never did. The great adventures of Sir Dan Fortesque in Victorian England are therefore confined to the archives, despite the game being a large improvement over its predecessor.

This was particularly surprising as following the re-release of the original game in 2007, the PSP remake MediEvil Resurrection also appeared on PSN in 2008. It seemed a shoe-in the sequel would also release, but this never happened. I can’t really think of any reason for this, other than the fact that perhaps the previous releases didn’t sell well enough to justify the investment, but considering it would simply be a ROM dump of a game which Sony already owned the source code for, it shouldn’t have been too much of an investment. With Cambridge Studio now shut down, it seems unlikely this will ever happen, which is a real shame.

 

Metal Gear Ac!d 1 & 2

Back before PSP’s launch, Konami – publishers of the seminal PS1 game Metal Gear Solid – announced that the handheld would be getting a spin-off game available for its launch, entitled Metal Gear Ac!d. Rather than the tactical stealth-action of the main series, Ac!d would focus on turn-based combat using decks of cards – an interesting twist which proved a great fit for handheld play. It was followed by a sequel in 2005, but by 2006 the publisher had decided it was better to shrink the main MGS experience on the go and as such Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops was born.

Thankfully Portable Ops, its expansion Portable Ops Plus, and its sequel Peace Walker are all available on the PlayStation Store and compatible with the Vita, but oddly Ac!d 1 are missing. Perhaps this is due to the company simply seeing them as outdated in the wake of the newer titles, but personally I think they’re well worth revisiting and would be great on Sony’s newer handheld. A glimmer of hope occurred when Metal Gear Solid’s Community Manager stated he would “like it [to happen]” but so far there has been no movement with regards to this.

 

Ridge Racer Revolution/Ridge Racer 2 (PSP)

Thankfully, the Vita is well represented by Ridge Racer games, with one from each era (Ridge Racer Type 4 from the PS1, Ridge Racer from the PSP, and a native Vita title as well). Despite this, there are still a large number of titles in the series that are missing, including the original PS1 Ridge Racer and its expansion Ridge Racer Revolution; the often-ignored Rage Racer and the compilation title Ridge Racer 2Each have their own pros and cons (the early PS1 games have aged rather poorly, while Ridge Racer 2 is merely an expansion for the original PSP game), but it would’ve been nice to have seen them all included on PSN for purchase.

Mostly, these titles had original soundtracks, so licencing is unlikely to be an issue. Perhaps Namco simply doesn’t see much profit to be made in re-releasing the classics, but personally I’d be very interested in trying the majority of these titles again, particularly Ridge Racer 2 which is largely seen as one of the most content-rich games in the franchise. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame to see them missing from the store.

 

Star Ocean: First Departure/Star Ocean 2: Second Evolution

The third and final Square Enix franchise on this list is Star Ocean, an underrated action-RPG series that features some crazy sci-fi plots and incredibly enjoyable combat. The original two games were both remade for the PSP in 2007 and 2008, respectively, providing a great way for gamers to re-visit these classic titles, as well as showing the franchise was a perfect fit for portable play. Yet despite this the games never appeared on digital stores and to this day are not playable on Vita.

As with MediEvil, I can’t really think of any reasoning for this aside from laziness. The second game was recently remade for PS4 and Vita in Japan (as a digital-only release) yet the producer announced they have no plans for releasing it in the west, showing the company really doesn’t want western gamers playing Star Ocean on the Vita – for whatever reason.

 

Tekken 3/Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection

As with Namco’s other franchise, Ridge RacerTekken is a series which has decent representation on Vita thanks to Tekken 1 being listed as PS1 classics and Tekken 6 being available in the PSP’s store. Yet despite this the series’ two best titles are missing – Tekken 3 from the PS1 was the ultimate in smooth fighting available at that point, while Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection was a brilliant reinvention of the franchise that followed on from a disappointing 4th. The latter went on to become one of the PSP’s best reviewed titles and was also a big seller at more than 2.2m sold.

The reason for the former's absence is easily explained – Tekken 3 features guest character Gon, a dinosaur from a Japanese manga series which likely would’ve been a licencing nightmare to be included in a digital release. But Tekken 5‘s absence is less easily explained, as the game seemed to have no licencing hoops to jump through and the PS3 digital version is fully available. Possibly Namco only wanted people buying the sequel, Tekken 6, but it still seems like a bizarre decision.

 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2/Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix

Perhaps one of the largest falls from grace in gaming history is the Tony Hawk franchise, which went from a multi-million seller on the PS1 to almost non-existent on the PS4. Despite this, the older games still hold up really well thanks to some tight gameplay mechanics and fantastic level design, meaning they’d fill a gap in the Vita’s library among extreme sports titles. With a whole catalogue of titles to choose from, including four Pro Skater games on the PS1, as well as the PSP’s Underground 2 Remix, you’d think there’d be some representation among the classics on the PlayStation Store. Sadly, however, every single game is missing.

Once again the issue seems to come down to licencing – something that has plagued digital re-releases of older games. As the majority of these titles' soundtracks are comprised of songs from real-world artists, royalties would have to be paid and contracts have to be re-signed for digital versions, something Activision clearly didn’t think was worthwhile, and as such the games have never appeared on PSN.

 

WipEout 2097/WipEout 3: Special Edition

WipEout is a storied PlayStation franchise, debuting alongside the European launch of the PS1 in 1995 and carrying right on through to the most recent entry on the PS4, this year's Omega Collection. Psygnosis/Studio Liverpool did a good job of supporting Sony’s previous handheld with new entries in the form of Pure and Pulse, both of which are available on the PlayStation Store alongside the original WipEout game. All of them still look beautiful on the Vita’s screen and provide some great portable racing action.

So things looked good for getting the other PS1 entries, right? Well, for whatever reason, the vastly improved sequels 2097 and 3: Special Edition are both absent from the store. Possibly this is yet again due to licencing issues, as each game contains licenced tracks from real-world artists, but it was an issue that was overcome for the series' other entries that are currently on the store, so that seems unlikely to be the key explanation in this case. Perhaps, then, the re-release of the original game simply didn’t sell well enough to make it worthwhile, but this is a terrible bar to measure things by considering the sequels improved the series' formula in nearly every aspect, likely meaning much larger potential sales. With Studio Liverpool now shut down, however, it seems increasingly unlikely this will ever happen.

 

Others

There are a whole host of other titles that I would love to see available via PSN to download onto Vita. Entire franchises are missing, like Ace Combat (despite Joint Assault previously being on the store, it’s now removed, and neither 2 nor X are available); or Yu-Gi-Oh, which had great entries on both PS1 (Forbidden Memories) and PSP (5D’s Tag Force). Both Digimon World games from the PS1 era are also not available for whatever reason, despite the resurgence in popularity of the IP thanks to Cyber Sleuth.

From the PS1 side, other classic franchises missing entries include Destruction Derby (which is missing both the second game and Raw), Driver 2, Jet Moto 3, and Twisted Metal 3 & 4.  On the subject of Destruction Derby, the vast majority of Psygnosis’ back catalogue isn’t available, ranging from all three Colony Wars games to G-Police 2, which is a real shame as they were a big part of establishing the PS1 as a platform.

On the PSP side, fun open-world racing game Test Drive Unlimited is missing, and so too are all of the licenced Spider Man games, including the brilliant second entry.

 

Conclusion

The Vita has allowed me to truly re-discover classic games – I’ve loved how great they look on the screen, how easy they are to dip in and out of thanks to suspend/resume, and how well some of them have held up. Yet, for everything the Vita gets right in this aspect, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that the console’s potential isn’t fully realised thanks to some glaring omissions of older-generation games that aren’t available on the store – and that’s a real shame.

As this article has shown, the vast majority of these come down to licencing issues - something that isn’t easily overcome and may stop some classics ever being re-released unless contracts are re-negotiated. That said, some games aren’t being held back by licences, and as such their omissions are baffling. To be frank it's likely just down to laziness, or a feeling that the effort put into publishing them wouldn't be worthwhile from a sales perspective, which is where Sony really should have stepped in to encourage and ease concerns of publishers. Unfortunately we’re too late in the day for that to really matter, but thankfully some publishers, like Capcom, still made great strides in regards to this right up until 2016.

Still, I can’t complain too much – I’ll just return to playing Spyro on my Vita, happy that I’ll be able to come back to a handheld version of this classic in 10 years' time.


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3 Comments

COKTOE (on 11 September 2017)

Always wanted to try those MG: Ac!d games.


willians1900 (on 11 September 2017)

The truth is that Sony abandoned the console near the first year of launch, it could have all that and more but Sony did not want to invest ... a pity, I'll still be waiting for a Laptop with power from a console.


V-r0cK (on 11 September 2017)

Crisis Core:FF7 is a must! It's pretty sad that an amazing game like that hasn't had any talks of any other ports. It's a crime to let it stay stuck on PSP!