Gamers got treated to the teaser trailer of Guacamelee 2 today. The game is coming “soon-ish” and seems to feature most of the same mechanics as the first game.
For those who never played the original, Guacamelee is a Metroidvania beat-em-up that allows up to 4-player co-op, and features challenging platforming sections that require tight handling and an awareness of the world as it shifts between both the lands of the living and the dead. The game cheekily pokes fun at its inspiration by coyly throwing in Easter Eggs, like players acquiring abilities from bird-like statues or exploring caverns that feature a man slaying demons with a chain whip. Released to critical acclaim on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, the game would go on to prove remarkably popular on several other systems as well.
Which makes the decision to release this new sequel solely on the PlayStation 4 a foolish one. It should also be coming out on Vita.
I cannot be the only one who thinks that indie games have found new lifeblood on the Nintendo Switch. The console just seems like the perfect home for these seemingly bite-sized games. The Switch even breathes new life into games that have been out on other consoles for years, as having the ability to play these games on the go has made it much easier to find opportunities to play them. Indie games are no longer competing for the same time slots in gamers’ schedules as their big brothers. Now I can play AAA at home and indie on the train on my way to work. It’s perfect.
So why isn’t Sony capitalizing on this? Admittedly, the Vita hasn’t done as commercially well as the Switch, but Nintendo has now opened the door for the handheld console. For the first time in my life, I’m considering buying a Vita. I had no idea that non-Nintendo games could translate to handheld so well. I’ve been badmouthing the Vita for years, and in just a couple a months, Nintendo (because they’re Nintendo) has proven that large indie games, like Golf Story, Stardew Valley, and SteamWorld Dig 2, are best experienced in the palm of the hand. They are all still good on the big screen, but it is when they are played on a handheld that those games truly come into their own.
If I were in charge of marketing the Vita, I’d be celebrating right now. I’d be telling gamers, “Hey, you know how you love playing all these third-party games on Switch? Buy a Vita and you’ll have the same thing, but with an even bigger library of games.” Sony should be comparing their Vita to Nintendo’s Switch as coyly as Guacamelee does Metroid and Castlevania. It’s an easy comparison, and the Vita’s cheaper price point and larger game library are suddenly very appealing as players barrel towards the holiday season.
However, not only is anyone on the Sony marketing team doing anything to hint that the Vita could be a great alternative for someone who doesn’t want to shell out the cash for a Switch, they’re not even getting new games, like Guacamelee 2, on the handheld. The only reason I played the original Guacamelee at all is because I heard it was one of the reasons that gamers should buy a Vita. Even though the game came out on PlayStation 3 as well, the identity of Guacamelee is tied to the handheld. Every Vita fan was talking about this phenomenal Metroidvania that supposedly was more fun than it had any right to be. Not wanting to buy a Vita at the time, I waited. Years later, when I finally tried the game on Xbox One, I enjoyed myself immensely and immediately regretted never playing the game on Vita. That experience would have been far better on a handheld.
Now the sequel is out, and it is not coming to Vita (or at least not initially). Which is a shame, because seconds into the trailer, I was halfway through the process of ordering a Vita. I’m ready to buy a Vita and start buying all the games I missed out on, but if Sony isn’t going to bring new releases to the handheld, then what’s the point? I would only ever have a backlog to look through, nothing new on the horizon to look forward to. Guacamelee 2 would have been the game that pushed me over, reaffirming Sony’s decision to continue supporting the console handheld in the wake of the Switch’s successes. However, if Sony has no faith in their device, then it’s clear that I shouldn’t either.
Guess I’ll just wait for the Switch version of the game.