The recent TheGamer announcement on the closure of PS4, PSP and PS Vita digital stores has left gamers like myself scratching our heads. ‘Where did I last put my PS Vita?’ I thought. Of all of the gaming consoles and handhelds I’ve owned, the PS Vita was probably the most forgettable for me. This is most likely a me problem, as I was never able to truly immerse myself into handheld games past the Pokemon series, Ace Attorney and a bit of Harvest Moon. I always found it hard to become truly immersed in the world of a handheld game, mostly because of the tiny screens and the lack of storyline for those designed for short gameplay. Often times I would turn the game off after a relatively short session, bored and with tired eyes. I think it was also a case of wrong time for me as I purchased the PS Vita towards the end of my university life and going into my first full-time job, when I hadn’t quite nailed the work-life-gaming balance just yet.
Regardless, there was definitely a strong sense of nostalgia following this bit of news especially since many of my hours on the Vita were spent playing ports of even older games. So after successfully retrieving my handheld, I had a browse through my own digital library and the PS Store to see what were some of the games I loved and those I wish I got to play.
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII changed my life and continues to be the most important game to me. It was the first RPG game I played on my PS One and my first foray into seeing how games were also a medium to tell a story. Playing it in my childhood was incredibly addictive and it continues to be a mainstay in my life. It was also perhaps 90% of my decision into even buying a PS Vita in the first place as I continued to feel bouts of melancholy about getting to play Final Fantasy VIII while I was living in Australia but was never able to, no matter how many different game emulators I tried.
Getting the PS Vita to treat it purely as a Final Fantasy VIII machine was a somewhat costly solution but it was well worth it. I played diligently for the first few months of obtaining it until I could get to a stage in the game where I had progressed enough to make battling fun and complex. This ported version isn’t without it’s flaws though and I frequently have to go between putting my Vita to sleep and waking it up again to unjam the ‘X’ button. There have been times as well where it seems the game file has corrupted and I’m unable to play but turning the system on and off or waiting a couple of days has so far remedied it.
The Tekken franchise is another stalwart in my games arsenal, dating back to Tekken 2 but having spent most of my time on Tekken 3. It’s one of the most well known arcade-style fighting games amongst other big titles like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur. Because I was mostly Team Tekken, I have a strong loyalty towards the regular cast of characters, having followed the very loose plot line while growing up. It’s a mix of both nostalgia and excitement to see Hwoarang, Jin Kazama and Marshall/Forest Law with every new instalment and particularly when seeing kids playing it at the arcade just like how I used to.
The great thing about arcade-style fighting games is how easy it is to pick up, even years after starting the game because the story isn’t imperative to completing the game. The not-so-great thing about arcade-style fighting games is exactly the same. It’s extremely repetitive unless you’re a hard working gamer who doesn’t mind the grind. After beating arcade mode the first time, there isn’t much else to do. The PSP Port of this game also unfortunately does not include the “Scenario Campaign” which is a beat ‘em up game featuring character Lars Alexandersson, a gameplay style that would at least be a refreshing break from Tekken’s norm.
One can’t talk about PlayStation classics without mentioning Spyro the Dragon. Having played the entire trilogy on my original PlayStation, I had once again bought the trilogy bundle in anticipation for a bout of childhood feels. This original series is a platform game that features Spyro, a small purple dragon who travels through worlds, flaming and head butting the bad guys with the objective to save other dragons and creatures. I believe Spyro is technically aimed at a younger audience i.e. myself when I first picked it up. However playing it as an adult is still more enjoyable as it’s quite a relaxing experience albeit with moments of slight frustration that my motor skills haven’t improved all that much since I was eight years old.
I have since also bought the Spyro Reignited Trilogy which is an incredible remaster with all of the good parts of the original Spyro series. While the PS Vita port did stave off my Spyro cravings at the time, I’ll be far more likely to play the Reignited Trilogy on my PS4.
Fans of cult films like Battle Royale and thrilling visual novels like Ace Attorney will no doubt be aware of Danganronpa. Built like a blend between the two media types above, the series typically follows a bunch of diverse high school students who are forced into murdering each other by the mysterious bear named Monokuma. The gameplay is half reading stories and sleuthing as you look for motives and murder weapons while the other half is in a court trial format as the students piece together the scene of the crime while avoiding being accused as the perpetrator. With a compelling storyline and elements of drama, adventure and dating sim vibes, Danganrompa has something for everyone.
Originally made for PSP, it’s also available on the PS Vita. My journey with Danganronpa actually started with the anime series which unfortunately was more like a montage of all of the game’s cut scenes, omitting the very important character relationship development that is introduced while playing the game. I’ve since dabbled with it on my Vita but spent most of my Danganronpa time on the ported version of the PS4.
As for the games I wish I got around the playing, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is another from my childhood that I want to be able to play again. While the graphics definitely wouldn’t hold up to today, the story is incredible and the character abilities are super interesting. Another one is Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness, purely because I love the anime series. As of the time of writing this, these games are still available for purchase as the digital store doesn’t shut until July or August 2021. I’m umm-ing and ahh-ing just because my current lifestyle doesn’t leave me much time to play more games than I already am right now. I still have some time though so maybe I will give them my money soon enough.