Long live the Vita!
If you're a Vita fan, you were probably just as hopeful as I was that Sony would give it the spotlight during its Gamescom press conference. And man, did Sony deliver. High-production AAA projects were announced in droves; several ports for awesome PC-only indies were revealed; and fast-paced sizzle reels did an incredible job of reminding us all that the Vita has many uses outside of just games. Thanks to Sony's undying support, the Vita is now in a perfect position to beat out its competition.
Sure, some people argue the device suffers from "paltry first-party releases" and "a complete lack of exposure from the very company that designed the thing". And yeah, sometimes they even claim the system is all but dead in a market completely dominated by Nintendo and Apple. But I say NAY to the naysayers. In fact, Gamescom is proof that the Vita is more alive than ever--here's why.
Papers, Please is coming to Vita
Papers, Please is a PC indie-hit that has you play a bureaucratic border guard. Who will get into the country you're guarding? Whom will you refuse access? Now you can make these life-changing decisions from the comfort of your couch. Sure, the reveal of the Vita port for Papers, Please was really confusing, as Sony stuffed it inside a video reel filled with PS4 games. Plus the game's creator had to hop on Twitter and clear up the port's intended platform. Doesn't matter though, it's a new game to play, and this one happens to be genuinely excellent. Take that, 3DS.
More AAA studios are dedicated to the system than ever
The Vita is finally getting some love from big name developers. I mean, look at Media Molecule--it has constantly trumpeted the Vita as an excellent piece of hardware. Tearaway is a truly excellent game, one that made use of all of the Vita's numerous features. So what better way to show how awesome the Vita really is than to port one of its best games over to the PS4? Maybe Media Molecule can even convert a few console gamers to Vita lovers!
Those are just two of Sony's many Vita-centric Gamescom announcements. However, both of them pale in comparison to... uh... that... other announcement... You know, the one with the Lasers? Crap. Lost my train of thought. But I'll be damned if I let the naysayers win--Gamescom is as good a time as any to remind you that the Vita is useful for lots of other things...
It makes for a surprisingly good paperweight or doorstop
Sony's conference was so packed with awesome Vita news that you might have forgotten about this useful tidbit. The Vita is an impressively weighty device, and when you're not basking in the warm glow of its high-definition screen, you can set it down on all sorts of things to keep them from moving. Post-it notes, legal documents, to-do lists, your kid's awful drawings--weighing more than 9 ounces, the Vita will make virtually anything stay put. Oh, you've got a door that needs to be propped open? Don't worry, the Vita can handle that, too. It's a truly versatile machine.
An upcoming software update will let Vita owners permanently accessorize their bodies
Now here's an exciting Gamescom announcement: in the coming weeks, the Vita will receive a big software update that adds a few pounds to its weight. So what does this mean for you? If you ever drop your Vita on a sensitive bit of skin, like an ankle or a wrist, you can give yourself a giant gash, which will likely leave a permanent scar--I recently tried it out during a closed beta test, and it worked marvelously (results above). Don't think of it as an injury. Think of it as a way to display your undying devotion to your favorite handheld. And you can impress your friends with embellished stories of how you got it.
It's STILL great for watching YouTube and Netflix
Video streaming apps like YouTube and Netflix have been made for pretty much every tablet, gaming console, television, toaster, and box with a screen on it--and the Vita is no different. The apps work just as well as you'd expect, and you can watch your favorite cat videos and C-grade horror flicks with relative ease. In hindsight, this has little to do with Gamescom, but I just wanted to remind you that this is something you can do with a Vita.
It's a pretty decent flashlight substitute
I actually discovered this one while watching Sony's conference in the dark, so it counts. The darkness ain't got shit on the Vita's impressively bright screen. Just turn that sucker on, and you'll be able to maneuver through inky blackness with ease (and without a single stubbed toe, to boot).
It's great for playing games Sony accidentally forgot to tell you about
Ah, yes, but you wan't to know about the games, right? WELL THEN. Sony cleverly announced a few titles during Gamescom by not talking about them at all. Have you heard of the free-to-play social strategy game Destiny of Spirits? How about Uncharted: Fight for Fortune, the collectible card game based on Sony's flagship franchise? No? Well, now you have, and they're ready and available for you--or anyone, really--to play them. Please play them.
...and indie games no one's heard of
The Vita is practically the destination for indie games. Papers, Please is just the latest to join the Vita's incredible lineup of smaller games. One guy slaved over his creation for three years, and his art-house stick-figure fantasy rogue-like tower defense game is finally coming out on the Vita. You've got 8-bit walking simulators like Proteus, the epic Farming Simulator, and whatever the hell is on PlayStation Mobile. There are so many games on offer here that you'll easily be able to wait for all those big budget Vita games that are in the works.
...and really bizarre (and often perverted) Japanese games
One common complaint about the Vita is that it has absolutely no games, and that couldn't be further from the truth. You can play a Japanese cooking game starring busty ninjas, or a Japanese RPG where you breed with other girls to build your party, or a Japanese game where you strip the clothes off of vampires, or even a Japanese game where you punish young girls. In fact, if it's a game filled with half-naked anime ladies, you'll likely be able to play it on your favorite handheld. Who needs Uncharted when you've got Hatsune Miku?
...and really weird, obscure Japanese visual novels
Nothing says "video games" quite like reading 40 hours of text, and Japanese developers have opened the floodgates to American audiences. Games like Danganronpa or Virtue's Last Reward feature hour after hour of hot reading action. You'll be tasked with expertly pressing the X button hundreds--nay, thousands--of times to make your way to the game's thrilling conclusion. Think you have the skill to make it through? These games will test your mettle.
...and, of course, a half-dozen Monster Hunter clones
That's not to say that every Vita game is an escapade in perversion or filled with words. No, you've also got the insanely popular and ridiculously obtuse Monster Hunter series--and all of its clones! While the only official Monster Hunter game on Vita right now are the PSP games, they're available on the digital store, waiting to be downloaded--and a Vita one is on the way. There's also Soul Sacrifice, Toukiden, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, and many, many, many more. You too can be completely lost and die constantly for hours at a time.
Expand your library with a wealth of PS Plus titles
One thing that always gets a lot of love during Sony press conferences: the value of PlayStation Plus. Which is a thing that also exists on the Vita. Every month, Sony cycles in two more games that you can download for the price of absolutely free--as long as you're a member of their program, of course. So that obscure Japanese boob game you've been eyeing for a while? Just wait a few months, it'll probably show up on Plus for free at some point.
Play all of your favorite PS4 games
If you've got a PS4, you've got even more games at your disposal. As long as you've got a decent connection (and your internet provider's idea of providing "customer service" doesn't involve throttling your account), you can easily stream games from your PS4 right to your vita. Play Assassin's Creed 4 while tucked into bed, or play Diablo 3 on the toilet--it's your game, take it where you want. Alternatively, you can pick up a Vita TV, as displayed during Gamescom, and stream your Vita games from those same locations. Not bad.
See? It's not dead at all!
If Gamescom has proved anything, it's that there's no better time to be a Vita owner than now. Let the haters drink their haterade--you've got that 80-hour-long visual novel about a harem of scantily-clad yet strangely demure females you're playing. Do you have a unique use for your Vita or a favorite game you like to play? Let me know in the comments!
Be sure to check out the rest of our Gamescom coverage--like this list of 42 games you might have missed from the conferences, or our preview of Sony PS4 (not Vita) exclusive Bloodborne.