It's a great time to be a Vita owner, and an even better time to become one

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment Screenshot - Man playing PS Vita

There was a time, actually not that long ago, when the Vita was struggling to find its footing. Releases were sparse, prices were high and it seemed like it was destined to be Sony's portable indie machine. The latter isn't a bad thing, especially with all the high quality indies in its library, but considering the power of the handheld, fans undoubtedly wanted more.

The Vita eventually did get a much needed price cut by $50 in August of last year, bringing it down to a much more acceptable price of $199. Still, the fact remained that the games list for the handheld was quite short. This is in stark contrast of the large amount of games the Vita gets in Japan. Games like Gundam Breaker, NAtURAL DOCtRINE and J-Stars Victory VS have a very small chance of ever making it stateside, and this is just a tiny sample of the horde of games we'll most likely never see here. I found myself browsing various trailers for Japanese Vita games and felt sad. Sad for the US Vita because of the games it won't get here, and sad for me, because I had very little reason to pick up and play it.

Things started to look up when the PlayStation 4 came out. With Remote Play, which worked miraculously well, I was able to now play my PS4 titles on my Vita when my wife wanted to watch another episode of Four Weddings. That said, playing my PS4 games on a smaller screen hardly justified the Vita's existence. It was an added convenience, but a feature I'd hardly call a system seller.

Then came 2014, and things really started to look up. All of a sudden, our Vita release calendars went from relatively empty to overflowing with amazing titles. SEGA announced Project Diva F 2nd for a US release, and XSEED will be bringing the quirky Akiba's Trip 2, titled Undead and Undressed to the US later this year. Then later Sony announced three more stellar looking titles, Freedom Wars, Soul Sacrifice Delta and Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines.

I was starting to get worried that my 32GB memory card wouldn't be able to hold all of these games, which is a great kind of worry in the case of the Vita. And I almost forgot to mention Borderlands 2. Yeah, the open world FPS RPG will be coming in its entirety to the handheld. That's impressive.

Hollow Fragment

Two weeks ago we had the chance to check out upcoming Bandai Namco games and I was extremely happy to see Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragments and Tales of Hearts R among the list of upcoming PS Vita games. Sword Art Online is actually slated for a Summer release which isn't that long from now, with Tales of Hearts R set to release this Winter. The point is, games are coming guys! But wait, there's more!

Two nights ago, out of nowhere, Sony updated its licenses for all PSOne and PSP digital titles. What does this mean? Well, let's say you bought Crash Bandicoot 3 back in the day to play on your PS3, or perhaps on your PSP. You were out of luck if you wanted to play it on your PS Vita. Same went for PSP games. I have long since got rid of my PSPGo (yes... I actually bought one) and wanted to play Valkyria Chronicles 2. That game, among a long list of others, was sadly not supported on the Vita. Until now.

Gamers who had a large library of digital titles from the PSP era will find that all of them, including demos, are now downloadable and playable on the PS Vita. This is even a big deal if you haven't had a PSP in the past. There are a ton of games, like the previously mentioned Valkyria Chronicles 2, or Phantasy Star Portable 2 that beg to be experienced by newcomers to the system, and thanks to Sony's silent update, they now can be.

This licensing update will make fans of series like Metal Gear Solid very happy, since now nearly every game from the franchise is playable directly on the Vita. The original Metal Gear Solid, though available on PSN, couldn't be played on the Vita. Now players can experience the entire saga with the exception of Metal Gear Solid 4, starting with the original Metal Gear games that are available as part of the HD Collection.

Before 2014, I picked up my PS Vita about once a month, unless a game came out I had to review. Now, I'm playing it nearly all the time, and on the flipside, haven't picked up my 3DS for a while. A while ago I wouldn't be able to recommend the Vita to anyone but the most hardcore of gamers, who thrive on owning every piece of gaming hardware. Now, the Vita is shaping up to be one of the most attractive gaming machines, thanks to a solid lineup of releases, and some amazing backwards compatibility.

Charmander
Mike Splechta GameZone's Editor-in-Chief, retro game enthusiast, savior of kittens. Follow me @Michael_GZ
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Games: Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment

Tags: Sony

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