10 Cancelled Vita Games That Should Have Happened - ArticleAdam Cartwright , posted on 22 September 2017 / 13,659 Views
Despite great support from a number of developers and publishers throughout the past five years, ranging from tiny indie studios to huge AAA publishers, the Vita has still been a console full of missed potential with a number of genres and major franchises sadly missing from the handheld. While games get cancelled for every console in existence, the Vita’s lukewarm worldwide sales meant a number of projects never saw the light of day that would perhaps have been made had things turned out differently.
What I’m aiming to look at in this article is ten of the more high-profile games that were either officially announced or heavily rumored to be coming to Vita but which never ended up appearing, with an examination of what we knew about them, what they could’ve been, and what happened to them.
Probably the most high-profile title on the list, BioShock Vita was officially announced at E3 2011 yet went radio silent for many years afterwards, only re-surfacing years later when Ken Levine took to Twitter to explain that he still wanted to make the game but Sony and 2K had never managed to work out a deal.
Rather surprisingly, it later transpired that the series’ creator didn’t envision the title as an FPS, but rather a turn-based tactics game set in pre-fall Rapture.
How this would have panned out is anyone’s guess and there were more than a few rumblings of disappointment that it wasn’t an FPS, but it’s an intriguing concept and the Vita has shown itself to be a capable home for games of this style.
At the very least, fans hoped that 2K and Sony would manage to get the iOS version of Bioshock onto Vita, but even that hasn’t happened and seems increasingly unlikely given that it was pulled from the app store. As such we are left completely without the franchise on the handheld; a disappointing outcome given the excitement following the announcement.
Perhaps the most surprising cancellation on the list given that the studio developing it - Gust - have released a total of eight Atelier games and two Surge Concerto games on the platform, and have a ninth Atelier title lined up for 2018. Chronos Materia was to be a turn-based role-playing game that utilized the company’s strengths in character design, combat, and item creation, but what made it unique was a time-travel mechanic that allowed characters to travel back and forth to train up and defeat enemies.
After being announced in 2013 for release later that year, updates on the title weren't given for a number of years and it was presumed cancelled until official word came in 2016 that the game was no more. I wonder how much influence Koei-Tecmo’s purchase of Gust had in this decision as the company was soon developing much larger-scale games, such as Nights of Azure, while also forging on with releasing Atelier across multiple platforms (no longer releasing exclusives as before), meaning they likely no longer had the manpower for smaller projects.
Whatever happened, it’s a shame this game didn’t see the light of day – although we have multiple Atelier titles to fill the void, none of them were designed specifically for Vita, nor do they include the interesting time-travel mechanics proposed.
Final Fantasy Type-0/Agito
If Chronos Materia is the most surprising cancellation, then Type 0 & Agito are the most insulting. First some history – Type 0 started life as Agito XIII, a mobile game set in the same universe as Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. As time passed, the project shifted to PSP due to technical constraints inherent in mobile development and was handed to the team that made Crisis Core. It's an action-RPG with some RTS elements and a darker aesthetic and story than previous titles, making it well-received among import reviewers.
The project released on PSP in late 2011 in Japan and soon gained notoriety among western Vita fans who petitioned hard for its release on Sony's newer handheld, given the PSP’s decreased prominence at western retail. Progress seemed to be made when a localization was announced on the PlayStation Blog in 2014, confirming the game was coming to Vita, only for this to quickly be amended to PS4/XB1, causing outrage among fans.
Months later, a white flag was offered when Square Enix announced that their mobile companion game Final Fantasy Agito (which borrowed heavily from Type-0) would be coming to Vita as an expanded release in 2015. Months went by without any word before the mobile game was shut down and soon after the Vita version was cancelled, with the whole game being repackaged as an online multiplayer RPG. The best part? This new title was skipping Vita entirely, releasing only on PC & mobile.
It seems this particular brand of Final Fantasy just was not destined for Vita, despite originating on the PSP and looking to be a great fit for the handheld. The way it was handled by Square Enix was nothing short of atrocious, providing lots of optimism for Vita fans before shooting these hopes down not just once but three times.
Ghost Recon Final Mission
Of all the games on this list, Ghost Recon Final Mission is the one we probably know least about. All we have to go on was a retailer listing from 2012 that showed the title – alongside Assassin’s Creed 3 – coming to Vita. Given Assassin’s Creed happened later that year (through the side-story Liberation), it’s safe to assume that Final Mission was at least in consideration if not development at some point (possibly in development at Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation developer Ubisoft Sofia?).
As such, there’s not much for me to say about this game other than why I think it would’ve been great. While the PSP entries were of varying quality, they were part of a much larger line-up of tactical shooters that included Brothers in Arms, Rainbow Six, and SOCOM. On Vita, however, Ghost Recon would’ve stood out, being the only game of this type aside from the launch title Unit 13, which had already shown us the potential of a good third-person shooter on the handheld thanks to its twin-stick controls.
Hyper Light Drifter
One of the most anticipated indie games in recent memory, Hyper Light Drifter is a fast-paced action RPG with a gorgeous pixel art aesthetic, beautiful soundtrack, and minimalist story that created an absolute storm on Kickstarter, raising over $645k by its conclusion. Development went fairly smoothly and by early 2016 PC gamers had the game and console ports were to follow, but in September the developer confirmed that Vita (and WiiU) versions had been scrapped.
This was particularly frustrating due to the game’s origins on Kickstarter meaning that fans had actually paid for this development and it still wasn’t being delivered. Although the developer’s health problems certainly shouldn’t be understated, a contingency plan or porting studio could have been explored before outright cancellation. Incidentally, Just Add Water (famous for the Oddworld Vita ports) reached out to the developer on Twitter, but so far there has been no update on this front.
Hey Alex, get in touch we'd like to take a serious look at it if you're cool with that?— Just Add Water (Dev) Ltd. (@jawltd) September 8, 2016
Hyper Light Drifter should have sat proudly with other indie classics on Vita, like Bastion; Hotline Miami, and Super Meat Boy, but sadly it wasn’t to be.
It was only recently that news of this potential port was revealed by series creator Yoko Taro. Supposedly, they wanted to give new players the chance to experience the game while simultaneously adding some extra content, making it an expanded port. Apparently, the title never happened because the team was busy with other projects at the time, so it fell by the wayside, and by the time the team was back to working on the franchise again they’d come up with ideas for a sequel, which landed on PS4/PC earlier this year, so the Vita port remained a pipe dream.
If there’s one thing the Vita has shown itself to be a capable home of, it’s quirky Japanese games, and Nier is definitely up there among the quirkiest, having received a particularly notable cult following after its release. Plus, it would provide some nice genre variety, being an action game with RPG elements. Furthermore the breakout success of Automata meant a Vita port of the original game would've provided an ideal way for people to revisit the origins of the IP. Sadly it wasn’t to be.
Tales from the Borderlands
Telltale Games rapidly went from being massive Vita supporters to not even touching it without much in the way of an explanation. With the help of Sony, its critically acclaimed title The Walking Dead: Season 1 was ported to the handheld. Telltale quickly expanded on this to include two further games – The Walking Dead: Season 2 and The Wolf Among Us. Following that, Tales from the Borderlands was confirmed at E3 2014, while sizzle reels at E3 2015 showed Game of Thrones and Minecraft Story Mode for Vita as well.
Yet by the start of 2016 none of these games had been released and the situation was looking increasingly bleak. Telltale PR man Job Stauffer re-confirmed the company’s commitment to the platform early last year, but as the holidays hit and there was still no word on any of the games it seemed increasingly likely they weren’t coming at all – especially given that Telltale was refusing to respond to any questions about the Vita on social media.
The reason I singled out Tales from the Borderlands is that it’s by far the best looking of the three that were announced but never arrived and, indeed, it was the best reviewed, so it's a shame it never came to the handheld. Amusingly, the game was actually included on the blue Vita slim’s box when it released in North America, along with a 'coming soon' release date, so Sony was definitely confident it was going to be released.
Unseen64 has been a great source of information for finding out about games that we otherwise wouldn’t have known even existed and the website really pulled through in unearthing details about this particular title. Pitched as a Vita-exclusive title to release during the console’s first year, Terrorforge was a sort of god-game where the player controlled the forces of nature to defend planet Earth from alien invaders. It would have made use of both front and rear touch to control powers such as summoning earthquakes or tornadoes.
Although the game was only ever in the early prototyping stages, it sounded extremely cool and would’ve made a nice addition to the Vita’s library, as there really isn’t very much similar on the console or even elsewhere (Eric Chahi’s From Dust being the closest game I can think of). It sounds like it also would've made nice use of the unique inputs available.
The game was pitched to Sony itself and – as we’re all aware – it dropped support for Vita fairly swiftly, meaning the project never received a greenlight in the first place and wasn't even shopped around to other publishers, so sadly it never saw the light of day.
Warrior’s Lair (aka Ruin)
If there’s one thing fans seem to universally agree is missing from Vita’s line-up, it’s a good loot-heavy dungeon-crawling RPG in the Diablo vein. Although Dungeon Hunter Alliance made a decent budget substitute, and things like Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy emulate the experience, there’s really not been anything to properly plug the gap. If it had ever released, Warrior’s Lair would definitely have been that game.
Revealed alongside the console at E3 2011 and originally known as Ruin, the game took the dark fantastic aesthetic of so many in the genre inspired by Diablo, as well as many of the core mechanics of isometric ARPGs. Its unique twist was a content creation tool – players could create and edit their own dungeons to store loot in, which could then be a location for other adventurers to explore, providing it with a potentially endless stream of content.
Sadly the game hit trouble when its developer, Idol Minds, was taken off the project in April 2012 and development was handed to in-house SCE developer Sony San Diego. After this the project went quiet until its eventual cancellation in July 2013. The reasons for this remain unknown, but prior to cancellation a former developer supposedly predicted its fate and noted that Vita games had been given a Metascore target to hit, which numerous titles missed, leading to Sony becoming sceptical of upcoming projects.
It marked a sad end to a title that would’ve made a fantastic addition to the Vita’s library.
Zone of the Enders HD Collection
As with Warrior’s Lair, Zone of the Enders was another announcement at a major press conference that didn't materialize. This one was announced at Sony’s pre-TGS press conference in 2011 by none other than Hideo Kojima himself, alongside revealing that the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection would also be hitting the handheld. While the latter title did eventually arrive, ZoE HD never did.
Presumably there are multiple reasons for this cancellation. Upon release, the home console versions received negative feedback for looking bad and running poorly – and it took nearly a year to be patched on PS3 (the Xbox 360 version was never fixed) - likely meaning Vita optimisation would have been difficult. In addition, the sales of the PS360 ports were cited by Konami as ‘disappointing’ and plans for a new sequel were scrapped. Those factors, combined with the Vita’s lukewarm hardware sales, meant there was ultimately no future for Zone of the Enders on Vita (although Konami have recently revived the IP for PS4 in one of the most surprising announcements of TGS 2017).
As with all of the cancellations on this list, it’s a shame to see the game not hit the console, particularly as the Vita has been quite a good home for great mech-action games (Gundam and Macross among others), as well as Hideo Kojima’s other works (the first three Metal Gear Solid games).
I’ve always seen Vita as the little handheld that could. Despite lukewarm hardware sales and lack of backing from Sony, the console has maintained a steady stream of amazing games throughout its life. Whether this was through surprise localization announcements (DanganRonpa, Demon Gaze), indie games which sold well enough for their creators to pledge ongoing support for the console (Retro City Rampage, Thomas Was Alone), or fan-driven movements to get specific titles (Borderlands 2, Oceanhorn), the platform has proved a surprisingly great market for a number of developers and publishers.
In spite of this, some titles just haven’t been able to come to fruition for a number of reasons, ranging from performance problems to legal struggles and everything in between, although the biggest hurdle seems to remain that the Vita just hasn’t sold very well. This has meant a lot of lost potential for fantastic handheld titles, and although I personally don’t feel disappointed with the experience I’ve had with Vita in the slightest, it’s difficult not to lament what could have been.