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Can Indies Save the Vita?

Posted on August 8, 2013 AT 10:50am

The PlayStation Vita, currently the biggest underdog in the portable console market, has had a bit of a rough start since its launch last year. Originally it touted itself to be a true home console experience in the palm of your hands. The strategy was starting to sound eerily similar to that of the PSP; a strategy which, by all accounts, had not been terribly successful last time around. Since the announcement of the PS4, Sony has enhanced their relationships with independent developers and brought much of that love to the PS Vita. The one remaining question is whether this will be a boon for the portable, or if it’s too little too late.

I’ll be the first to admit that, all things considered, I love my Vita. The display is gorgeous, many of the games have been great experiences and I love being able to grow my trophy collection on the go. The only problem, like some other hurting consoles that I won’t name here, is that there just isn’t enough. A combination of PlayStation Plus and Sony’s focus on indies seeks to change this by filling the void with a few games that, in spite of lacking the shininess of a AAA title, have the heart to make the Vita a console worth carrying around.

Most recently, Sony offered up a game called Dokuro as a free download from their PlayStation Plus service. Not really knowing what it was all about, but always willing to try it out for free, I downloaded the game and instantly fell in love. The game has you filling the shoes of an evil minion with a change of heart who’s decided to lead the princess that’s just been captured safely from the dangerous castle. The game has a great chalk-looking art style that keeps it simple and takes great advantage of the PS Vita’s OLED screen. The game has you escorting the princess through the castle, tasking you with eliminating any possible threats and solving puzzles as the princess strolls forward automatically.

The game is broken down by stages and is amazing to just pick up and play for a few minutes, but still has that overall arc that makes it worth going in for the long haul. In other words, it’s the perfect marriage of the paid games with a well-implemented portable style that makes it addictive to play without all the micro-transactions that make it feel slimy.

Plenty of other games, like Knitt Underground, Men’s Room Mayhem and Guacamelee have provided many a pick-up-and-play excuse to own a Vita as well. With this inundation of indie games for the console, it’s gotten a bit better and my Vita has collected a bit less dust over the last several weeks. While it has by no means completely revitalized the console in a way that makes it more of a contender, it’s definitely getting there. Games like Tearaway and Killzone: Mercenary are on the way to try and maintain that original image of being a portable PS3, but in the meantime I’m happy killing the time with some impressive indie games.

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