11 Upcoming PlayStation Vita Games to Watch Out for in the Second Half of 2018 - ArticleAdam Cartwright , posted on 15 July 2018 / 5,182 Views
At the end of last year, I wrote an article that went against the grain of doom and gloom for Vita that we’d been seeing for years. It was an optimistic look at 11 brilliant Vita games that were supposed to be landing in 2018. It proved to be one of the most popular pieces I’d written in a while and even now still gets 10-20 hits per day, showing just how dedicated the Vita fanbase is at searching out new content.
By coincidence, nearly all of the games included in that list released in the first half of the year (aside from Drifter and Drift Stage, which are still MIA). This means that anyone viewing this list now might be led to think that “Vita has no games coming” (or at least, no more upcoming games), but that isn't the case at all – despite being in its twilight years, it still has a spree of amazing titles to look forward to.
So, in this article, I’m going to re-examine the subject and look at 11 more upcoming Vita games that I’m really anticipating. These are all due to land in the latter half of this year according to the latest information that's out there. Pickings may be slimmer than they were a few years ago, but there are still stand-out titles coming that I’m sure will be absolutely worth playing on the handheld through 2018 and beyond.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Kickstarter has been an incredibly mixed bag for Vita (in fact I’ve written a whole article about the subject), but I feel it’s mostly been worth it because for every project that’s disappeared without a trace (*cough* MightyNo9) there’s another that’s made the handheld’s library just that bit better by delivering a quality experience. Bloodstained is looking more and more like a project that will actually happen (the prequel, Curse of the Moon, landed on Vita in May and the devs recently re-confirmed their plans) and the game itself may actually live up to the hype too.
Created by Koji Igarashi of Castlevania fame (aka the father of the genre), Bloodstained is a sprawling adventure title that casts you as Miriam, a demonically-enhanced hunter exploring an ancient castle, with more than a few nods to Symphony of the Night along the way. The pedigree behind it is all there, early backer impressions are positive, and the Vita port is being handled by Armature (the studio behind the Metal Gear Solid Collection), meaning all the pieces are in place for it to be one of the standout titles on Vita for the latter half of 2018.
Bullet Girls Phantasia
The Vita doesn’t get many third-person shooters these days (although there are more available on the platform than you’d think), in large party because the support that’s left tends to be Japanese in origin. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that what is likely to be the final TPS on the handheld is a Japanese game loaded with female characters and lewd elements that looks to be an insane amount of silly, over-the-top fun.
Bullet Girls is a series that was born and flourished on Vita and, while Phantasia is also coming to PS4, it still feels like a handheld game at heart. Pitting you as one of a number of students at an all-girls military academy who get sucked into an alternate dimension full of orcs and mythical creatures, you’ll have to gun (and for the first time, stab) your way through hordes of enemies to escape. Previous entries were seen as fairly cheap and trashy, although a lot of players noticed some major improvements in the second entry which made it something of a guilty pleasure. It’s the first time the series is available in English too, meaning importers won’t have to struggle with guides and Google translate anymore.
Sometimes, waiting can be a good thing. In the case of Chasm, PS4 demo booths after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014 gave the promise of a clever and engrossing 2D adventure platformer, but things went oddly silent following this until it resurfaced earlier this year with a Vita port added – thanks in no small part to the positive reception and sales of the publicist’s previous game (Axiom Verge) on the handheld. It’s absolutely great to see developers adding Vita versions of their games in 2018, against all odds.
But is the game itself going to be worth our time? Well, you play as a knight sent to investigate a mining village where strange happenings have begun to occur. You can expect to make your way through a series of gorgeous 2D areas (the makeup of which the developers promise will be different for every player) and explore, fight supernatural creatures, and solve puzzles to get to the bottom of the mystery. All the pieces are there to make a brilliant final product, so it’s easy to get excited about this one. It shouldn’t be long until we’re able to play it either – the game is targeting a summer release across all platforms.
There perhaps aren’t quite as many Vita localizations scheduled for the latter half of 2018 as I’d expect, let down by most Atlus titles being pushed to 2019 and NISA skipping things like Coven, Metal Max and The Princess Guide. One company which stepped up to the mark is XSEED, which despite my reservations over its future on the handheld decided to announce the latest Fate title for Vita just before E3, surprising a lot of fans in the process.
Link appeals to me as one of the few bigger-budget titles left on Vita – a colourful musou that has you hacking through hordes of enemies as various characters from the Fate universe in an expanded sequel to 2017’s Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star. It also continues the twisting and bonkers storyline from the PSP’s Fate/Extra, showing just how at home the franchise has been on Sony’s handhelds. It’ll be nice to play one final title on Vita in this universe which, by all accounts, appears to be as impressive as ever.
London Detective Mysteria
Aksys has been absolutely hammering otome games on Vita in recent years, with 2018 alone seeing four released in the first half of the year and a fandisc planned for 2019. Other publishers haven’t been as forthcoming, though – only Idea Factory International has dabbled in the genre, which is surprising given how Aksys is clearly seeing success, but the common theme between both their efforts is that they’ve been from the same Japanese label – Otomate. While this is no bad thing (the titles are generally high-quality), I’ve always thought it would be interesting to see other developers take on the genre.
Enter London Detective Mysteria, finally coming to the west via XSEED Games after a colossal wait (it was originally teased for release in the 2013 new year’s card from the company). Developed by Karin Entertainment, the game follows the mysteries of 19th century London through the eyes of heiress Lady Whiteley. It has more than a hint of Code:Realize about it from the setting alone. It’s receiving a digital-only release this fall and although the lack of physical is disappointing, I’m just happy to have the game at all at this point.
Long-time readers of my content will be aware that I’m not really a fan of sporting games unless they’re of the ‘extreme’ variety (think SSX), so including a game based on boxing on this list seems a bit odd. Yet when Pato Box came along on Kickstarter it caught my eye thanks to the stylish black & white graphics, quirky main character, and focus on providing a Punch-Out style story and adventure mode, which means you aren’t just fighting in rings. The developers ended up getting me to pledge to the project once a Vita port was revealed in the plans, despite my natural wariness towards the funding site due to the spree of failures we’ve seen.
The game is already available on Steam where it has received great reviews and while the devs have revealed that they need a little longer to get the Vita port ready, they seem dedicated to the cause of ensuring it releases (latest estimates are pegging it for some time around August, which means it shouldn’t be long until we can give it a try). Incidentally, there’s another boxing game planned for Vita in the future (Glass: A Boxing Story), which goes for a more realistic aesthetic and will be one to keep an eye on as more details are revealed, although I’m not sure it’ll hit the planned 2018 release date.
The Vita has been home to many different things – fighting games, indie platformers, Japanese RPGs, and so on, but two areas it has particularly excelled in, especially later in its life, are lewd games and visual novels. At the forefront of the latter is Kotaro Uchikoshi, creator of the revered Nonary Games series including 999, Zero Escape and Zero Time Dilemma, who took some time away from game development in 2015 to work on the Punch Line anime – a bizarre series that follows a boy who becomes a spirit and subsequently protects his ex-housemates from danger, the twist being that if he sees their panties, the Earth will be destroyed. Fascinatingly this was converted into a game by 5pb in 2016 and it’s finally finding its way to the west courtesy of PQube in 2018.
I won’t pretend that I’m expecting Punch Line to be a particularly high-brow game, but like PQube’s previous release Gal*Gun: Double Peace, I’m expecting to find a fun and addictive game that’s worth checking out. Amusingly, the scenario of controlling a ghost and using him to possess objects reminds me of the PS2 classic Ghost Master, as well as Vita games such as Haunt the House or Poltergeist, although here it plays out like a point ‘n’ click adventure. Either way, we’ll be playing Punch Line for the bonkers story and funny fanservice and it looks like it’s going to deliver on both those counts.
Russian Subway Dogs
Sometimes, an idea is enough to sell you on a game. That’s very much the case with Russian Subway Dogs from developer Spooky Squid, which follows the titular canines through a title where you will (among other things) juggle bottles of vodka, set fire to bears, and chase high scores while frantically staying alive fighting for scraps of food in the Russian subway. It sounds bonkers, but that just makes it all the more compelling.
The developers (creators of the well received They Bleed Pixels) have been keen to show off their product and impressions from PlayStation Experience in 2017 seemed extremely positive, which bodes well. A series of polls on Twitter have been taking suggestions for what other playable creatures will be in the game and we already have a variety of confirmed guest animals including the goat from Guacamelee and the dogs from VA-11 HALL-A, which should be fun additions. I’m not expecting this to be game of the year material, but I am hopeful it’ll be an enjoyable time waster with an irreverent and unique sense of humour.
When I interviewed Studio Ravenheart about Seraphim – the upcoming twin-stick shooter with a twist – I discovered a passionate developer with aspirations of creating something truly different in the gaming world. The focus on defensive rather than offensive play, the vibrant and impressionist-esque graphics and arcade high-score chasing might not seem like they all mesh, but I have faith in the creator to pull it all off judging by some of the addictive footage we’ve seen so far.
Sadly, things have been all quiet on the development front for a little while and it’s been some time since we’ve had any major updates (although the dev is still active on Twitter), but as far as I’m aware it’s still on track for a 2018 release on Vita and PSTV, which should make it a nice end-of-year treat for twin-stick fans. With any luck we’ll also be able to get a physical copy through a company like eastasiasoft too, but for now I’m just itching to get my hands on the game itself.
Just like with Chasm, Shakedown Hawaii has been a long time coming. This follow up to 2012’s Retro City Rampage – the uber successful 8-bit open-world crime sim by solo developer Brian Provinciano, which found a brilliant home on Vita – has been in development for what seems like an eternity but it's apparently now nearing completion and is targeting a 2018 release on Sony’s handheld (as well as other consoles).
Promising 16-bit graphics this time around and shifting the setting to the lush palm tree-laden waterfronts of Hawaii, the game also introduces new ideas such as a business management metagame (I’m hoping not dissimilar to that in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories) and a story commentary on mega corporations and white-collar crime. You can still expect the same bombastic action and destruction sprees that Retro City Rampage was known for as well, alongside a gorgeous open-world to explore (a rarity on Vita these days), making this one to keep a close eye on this year.
Sharin no Kuni
If Kickstarter hasn’t been kind to Vita in general, then it’s been particularly disappointing in the realm of visual novels, where much was promised and very little delivered. Projects like Dies Irae and in particular a variety of titles from Sekai Project ended up being completely missing in action. When Muv-Luv released last month a glimmer of hope came through for others, hopefully including Sharin no Kuni, which was a similarly well-managed project that provides regular updates.
The first thing that stands out to me about the game is the beautiful artwork, with character designs capturing that traditional anime style on a sea of gorgeous backdrops. The story too is intriguing – a bishoujo set in a dystopian future where a young man meets three girls bound by various “Duties” that he decides to investigate. It still seems on track for later this year and the Twitter account recently re-affirmed plans for a physical release through Limited Run Games, meaning it should join the sea of classic visual novels in Vita’s western library.
If you’d have told me at the end of 2012 that I’d be making two lists of upcoming Vita games to look forward to in 2018, I’d have highly doubted it, as the handheld hadn’t yet been reborn as a haven for indie developers and localizers of Japanese games. But it’s thanks to this that Vita’s having such a healthy year. The AAA development community and Sony itself may have moved on ages ago, but the publishers who have stuck around are continuing to find success thanks to a dedicated buying audience.
Of course, there’s still plenty of stuff coming that I haven’t included here too. Missing titles include Death Mark, the well-reviewed horror VN from Aksys and Experience Inc.; Deathbase 900,000,000, a fun-looking twin-stick shooter from Son of Scoregasm creator Charlie Knight; Spacejacked, a fast-paced tower-defence game; and World End Economica, an economy-themed visual novel from Sekai Project that’ll hopefully finally come to fruition. It does make me sad that I’m not able to include games like Labyrinth of Refrain, Metal Max Xeno, and The Princess Guide due to NIS America choosing to omit Vita versions from its overseas plans, but that’s another story.
I’d like to end this article on the same note I finished my previous one on – by stressing the importance of buying any of the titles on this list that you’re interested in when they come out, as the only reason we’re getting Vita games in 2018 at all is thanks to the dedicated Vita fanbase which keeps buying software, making it worthwhile for publishers to keep supporting Sony’s oft overlooked handheld.