11 Upcoming PlayStation Vita Games to Watch Out for in 2019 - ArticleAdam Cartwright , posted on 13 January 2019 / 4,992 Views
A year ago, I wrote an upbeat article about just how many great titles there were to look forward to on Vita in 2018 and picked 11 which really stood out to me that I really wanted to play. Not all of them managed to make it out during the year - indeed some of them appear like they might not ever make it out on any platform - but the ones that did certainly made great additions to the handheld’s library.
Fast forward a year and the console is in a very different state. With worldwide discontinuation looming, alongside the end of production of physical carts, it seems that circumstances which have allowed the console to keep going may finally be coming to an end and 2019 will be the final year the Vita receives any significant software support. That doesn’t mean Sony’s handheld isn’t going out with a bang, though, and that’s what I’m aiming to examine in this list – 11 more upcoming Vita games to look forward to in 2019.
Rather amusingly, a number of these are games I already included in my 2018 list and my second half of 2018 follow-up, as titles inevitably face delays and struggle to make targeted release dates. Hopefully every one of these games does indeed land in 2019 and still targets the Vita, helping it go out in an explosion of quality.
Catherine: Full Body
This was the main reason my original list consisted of 11 games rather than 10. Catherine was announced as an expanded port for PS4 and Vita late in December 2017 and promised a “winter 2018” release, which I had pegged as being before the end of 2018, but that later slipped to February 2019 in Japan. We’ve recently seen Atlus' western branch confirm that the game won't be hitting overseas shores on Sony's handheld, but that personally won't stop me importing it just to get that brilliant puzzle gameplay on the go.
Catherine casts you as Vincent, a man who cheats on his girlfriend Katherine with a young beauty named Catherine. As he struggles to cope with the guilt of his infidelity, he has increasingly disturbing nightmares that take the form of demented block puzzles that will test the skills of even a seasoned gamer. New to Full Body is Rin, a third potential love interest for Vincent who introduces her own story beats. It seems absolutely perfect for handheld play and looks to be Atlus’ final game on the platform after the company kicked things off in style with Persona 4: Golden.
Code: Realize ~Wintertide Miracles~
In 2015, Aksys Games took a gamble that paid dividends for the firm when it localised an otome game named Code: Realize ~Guardians of Rebirth~. It followed a cursed woman called Cardia as she discovered her purpose in Victoria London, alongside a plethora of potential suitors based on historical figures. I loved it and it seems the Vita-buying audience did too, as Aksys doubled down on otome games going forwards, including with the Code: Realize fan disc Future Blessings, which provided more time with the game's characters.
Wintertide Miracles is the second (and potentially final) fan disc and introduces a group of winter-themed stories and new scenarios focusing on the characters Finis and Herlock Sholmes. It’s definitely one for the fans, but as the final English otome likely to hit Vita I couldn’t not include it. It's a fitting way out for a genre that I’m sure many people weren’t expecting to enjoy quite as much as they did.
Another holdover of a previous list that highlighted “winter 2018” but actually meant 2019, Fate/Extella Link is a sequel to 2017’s action musou set in the Fate universe. Adding 10 new servants to the roster, refining the gameplay, and following a new story about protecting the virtual world, it promises to be an enjoyable finale to the franchise on Sony handhelds.
Extella provided a really enjoyable take on the musou formula – colourful, flashy, and fast - and I’ve little doubt that Link will hit all the same notes. More than anything, though, it’s one of the last localization efforts for the platform. Long after companies like IFI and NISA have abandoned Vita, XSEED keeps chugging along and it’s nice they’re not skipping this one, ensuring XSEED support goes out in style (alongside the lovely otome London Detective Mysteria, which just released before Christmas).
Glass: A Boxing Story
I’ve written at length about all of the sports games available on Vita and, although there’s a decent showing, the handheld never quite got the love that its predecessor had in the genre. In particular, things like boxing and wrestling went largely ignored, but thanks to the dedicated guys at Nitoris Media it seems like we’re getting a custom-built take in Glass: A Boxing Story, which promises to mix a serious story with some deep strategic gameplay inspired by Fight Night and Punch Out.
One of the nicest things about this title is the passion of the developers – it seems the whole project came about from a group of fans wanting to build a game for a platform they loved and so put their hearts and souls into it. Development may have gone a little slower than expected (I doubt we’ll get that hinted Vita wrestling title the developers talked about, though I hope I’m wrong on that), but it’s lovely to see how Glass has grown from a simple prototype into a full-blown game and it's definitely one to keep an eye on this year.
Perhaps the strangest Vita announcement to come out of 2018, Hardcore is a DICE-developed (yes, of Battlefield fame) 90s platformer-meets-shooter originally created for consoles like the Mega Drive but was ultimately cancelled as the publisher shifted focus to the-then upcoming PS1. Somehow, the enthusiasts at Strictly Limited Games have revived the project decades later and it’s due for release on Vita in early 2019.
Not much else is known about the game, but these kind of retro platformers always play extremely well on Vita, and with the developer’s pedigree behind it there’s a safe bet that it’s going to be pretty enjoyable. As the title suggests, I'm expecting it to be extremely difficult (as many games from the early 90s were), but otherwise I’m excited to find out more and finally play it in the next few months.
The House in Fata Morgana
I’d argue that Limited Run Games has been one of the best things to happen to Vita, as its ability to put out small physical prints of games has encouraged developers who might have otherwise given up on the console to keep going and finish their games. Limited Run Games cemented its love of the platform by announcing that its first ever localization would be the much beloved visual novel The House in Fata Morgana and will release on the handheld in 2019.
I can’t say a whole lot about this one as I’ve been trying to avoid information about it so that I can go in blind, as various people have told me it’s one of the best stories they’ve ever read in a videogame (though I’d be impressed if it managed to top Steins;Gate). All I do know is that it has a unique art style and that time travel plays a big role in the plot, but hopefully everything else about it measures up to the lofty praise it has received as well.
NightCry, the point ‘n’ click horror game from developer Nude Maker, seems to have faced a hell of a lot of problems during development (despite a PC version releasing, the promised Vita and mobile ports went years without any kind of an update). Surprisingly, publisher Playism has recently responded to Tweets to say the title is still coming and, following this, a Trophy list has surfaced, which has restored my hope that it's actually happening.
The game is a spiritual successor to the cult Clock Tower series and casts you as a group of survivors on a ship trying to escape a terrifying monster with a pair of giant scissors. While critical reception to the PC version was mixed, it nevertheless received praise for being a pretty faithful modern representation of PS2 era horror titles and apparently has some genuinely tense gameplay too. It’s also rare to see a 3D indie game targeting Vita, meaning there are plenty of reasons to get hyped for its release (hopefully) in the not too distant future.
Things have been all quiet on the Pixel Noir front for a little while, but we have previously had reassurances that the game is still targeting a Vita release, which is great news because it looks pretty fantastic. Originally funded through Kickstarter, the title eventually picked up a publisher in Badland Games and seems to have expanded its scope while still staying true to its original premise.
Pixel Noir has you playing as a detective trying to clear his name in the neo-noir Pinnacle City. While his sanity slowly unravels he takes on quests to help unravel the mystery of the city. With its isometric perspective, turn-based battles, and supernatural elements it certainly seems heavily inspired by Persona 2 – hopefully it matches that game’s quality to make a great parting gift for Vita.
Romancing SaGa 3
Romancing SaGa 3 may well be the final Vita release by a major publisher, in this case Square-Enix, a company whose support exploded in later years versus an anaemic offering early on. Square-Enix found particular success with its remaster of Romancing Saga 2 on both mobiles and Vita (the latter shifting more than 200k copies in Japan), so it's unsurprising to see the game’s sequel getting the same treatment.
The SaGa titles are known for their non-linear design and unconventional structure (often with multiple protagonists and branching story paths) and the third entry is widely seen as the culmination of this design. Plus it's never actually seen an English release before now, making it even more of a treat. There’s no word on whether the Vita version will be coming to the west yet, so I’m crossing my fingers that Romancing Saga 2 sold well enough on the platform to justify it.
Another holdover title that was supposed to make 2018 but ended up being pushed back to 2019, Shakedown Hawaii is a 16-bit open-world crime sim and pseudo-sequel to 2012’s Retro City Rampage. That game received a large amount of positive acclaim when it first released in Vita, so it’s easy to get excited about a bigger and better sequel from the same developer, set amongst the sweeping beaches of Hawaii.
New elements include an empire-building mechanic that I assume will play out similarly to the one in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, where you attack and defend business to make money. That was one of my favourite parts of GTA and I’m sure it will work just as well here. Combined with bombastic action it’s certainly shaping up to be something special. There’s even talk of a physical release, so make sure to keep an eye out for that, since I’m willing to bet it’ll be gone quickly!
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG
YIIK is undoubtedly a very strange proposition for the Vita market. It's a western-developed turn-based RPG that's seemingly heavily inspired by classics such as Earthbound, and includes a very trippy and out-there story and dungeons filled with puzzles and traps. Except it’s also populated by a cast of hipsters who meet on an internet message board and is animated using a unique 3D style that I can tell people will either love or hate.
It’s been in development for what feels like an eternity (sadly family bereavements seemed to slow things right down, although I'm glad the developers were able to move on from this and keep going), and although the trailer seems to demonstrate it will definitely be an acquired taste, my hope is that it lives up to expectations to deliver a truly memorable and unique experience. There’s a physical print coming from Limited Run Games too, which is a nice bonus.
This is probably the last upcoming Vita games article I’ll ever get to write, as I doubt there will be enough coming that I’m excited about in the second half of 2019, let alone 2020. I’d love to be wrong about that and hope to have enough material to do another one of these in 6 months' time, but I find it pretty unlikely. Plenty of games have been announced for the console that we’ve not heard about for ages that I’d love to think are arriving next year, but the only logical thing to conclude is that they've been silently cancelled, which is a real shame, as there are cool-looking titles like Drift Stage in that category.
But that’s okay. The Vita has had a solid 7 years of life and built up an impressive library far beyond its meagre hardware sales would have you believe. Plus, the games on this list show there is plenty of quality to look forward to in 2019, and that’s not even counting titles which didn’t quite make the cut, like Back in 1995, Glitched, Monster Crown, Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story, Seraphim, and Sharin no Kuni (plus, if you’re an importer like me, Atelier Nelke, DanMachi, KonoSuba, and Pro Yakyuu Spirits look good).
I’m sure there will be a handful of surprises and plenty of disappointments along the way, but no matter what happens, I’m just happy we’ve reached this stage in Vita’s life and I’ve got 11 fun looking titles to anticipate for 2019.