I’ve become a handheld gamer, preferring to use my time on Japanese trains to play games for pleasure. Playing on trains requires either a PS Vita or a Nintendo 3DS, both of which I gladly bring with me to work every day.
Neither device fails to live up to what I expected from it, and I use them each a lot. For the Nintendo 3DS, I play Nintendo’s games and everything they publish. That includes games they pick up from Square Enix and Atlus. For the PS Vita, though, I’ve used it as a means for playing indie games and my classic favorites. I’ve burned through far more PSOne era JRPGs on my Vita than I have original games!
Which is why I think I’m starting to see the limitations of the handheld. In 2016, I’m finally using the handheld to play original content!
The PS Vita hosts three major games this year; but, all three titles are also available on the PlayStation 4. Those titles are Dragon Quest Builders, Exist Archive, and World of Final Fantasy.
When it comes to using the Vita, I kind of expect that portable versions to hold up to the main console builds. That’s the way it is with most indie games, at least. None of these JRPGs are too complicated. One would think the Vita would have no problems helping them reach their potential. Now that I’ve played both Dragon Quest Builders and Exist Archive on the PS4 and PS Vita, I see that isn’t the case.
The PS Vita versions of these games seem second-rate. The power of the PlayStation 4 is tapped to make these games be the best they can be, but the Vita versions feel like temporary substitutes. They are not the versions you would prefer to play; instead, they are the versions you play when you leave home. Frame rates fail to keep up, and Vita’s wimpy analog stick doesn’t feel right. For plenty of reasons, once you get home, you’ll put the Vita aside and jump back on the console.
If you’ve been following my thoughts on gaming, this is not how I want portable gaming to go forward. We need a console that allows players to throw the same portable experience they get on the train onto their televisions. That experience should be developed and optimized for portable consumption, and it should offer an equal performance on a TV.
Dragon Quest Builders and Exist Archive feel like they are working backward from that notion. They were clearly made for the PlayStation 4 and then downgraded to the Vita.
I’ve not played World of Final Fantasy just yet, but I am probably correct to assume that it will fall in line with these other two games.
Likely a unicorn that I will never catch, but the consistency between both versions is what I am looking for. I don’t want to feel like I can’t get the best experience from a Vita. I want equilibrium. Indie games can do it, why can’t these Square Enix JRPGs?
I’m not bashing the Vita versions or their gameplay because they’re pretty good. But, it’s becoming obvious with each passing release that publishers aren’t prioritizing the power of the Vita, and games that seem capable are downgrades from their PlayStation 4 counterparts. This goes double as the portable system is even starting to struggle with simpler titles. Dragon Quest Builders and Exist Archive aren’t even AAA releases like Uncharted, God of War, or the other handheld AAA experiences Sony promised. They are just niche titles that seem ideal for mobility,
Not so, I suppose.
Of course, this is all the more reason for the NX to become an all-purpose, play everywhere console. If Nintendo can bridge that consistency gap between handhelds and consoles, and also score its own ports of Dragon Quest Builders and World of Final Fantasy, then I think it will definitely become my ideal console.