PlayStation Vita gets a lot of flak for not having the most robust library in gaming, but it still deserves some credit. After all, Vita's launch line-up was arguably one of the greatest in history - in terms of variety, quality, and quantity - and the handheld has even received a few standout experiences in the months since. If you haven't tried Gravity Rush, Resistance: Burning Skies, Sound Shapes, Foosball 2012, Puddle, or the mini Velocity, you're definitely missing out.
But you know what really grinds my PlayStation-loving gears? Seeing critics and dissenters ignore the absolutely stellar line-up of Vita games coming before the year is out. In the next few months, tons of truly promising titles are coming to Sony's shiny new handheld. Here's 10 of them.
Release date: October 16
The first title on our list is something of an unknown, but Ragnarok Odyssey should definitely be on the list of any action-RPG fan and Vita owner. The game promises to combine the best elements of epic grind-fests like Monster Hunter and deep role-playing adventures like Final Fantasy and Skyrim. 20,000 character combinations, six job classes, 4-player online co-op; Ragnarok Odyssey sounds like everything this RPG-starved handheld needs, and you won't have to wait long to get it. Publisher XSEED will put the game on store shelves in October.
Madden NFL 13
Release date: August 28
Sure, sure, it's "just another sports title". Actually, Madden NFL 13 is the legendary franchise's debut on PS Vita, and we're pretty excited. Gameplay looks tight, and our own Tim Nunes felt the game made excellent use of the Vita's unique touch-based controls. Plus, EA has adopted a "wait and see" approach on all things Vita, including cloud saves and Cross-Buy. Supporting their first major sports entry on the platform might be the best way for us Vita owners to show we mean business, and expect only the best from here on out.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
Release date: September 25
Sackboy's debut on Vita would be special even if the game were a rehash of the incomparable LittleBigPlanet 2, but thankfully, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita (I know, awkward title) looks even better. Front-touch, back-touch, and gyroscopic controls add a compelling layer of puzzle-solving and navigational depth to the platforming experience we already love, and every single piece of LittleBigPlanet 2 community content and DLC will work on Vita, day one. We've got a hunch that LittleBigPlanet PS Vita will be in the running on many Game of the Year lists - for it's first year, Vita could hardly ask for a better blessing.
Street Fighter X Tekken
Release date: October 23
With its staggering array of PlayStation-exclusive DLC and characters, Street Fighter X Tekken is a fighting game marvel that's simply begging to be played with the Vita's fantastic D-Pad. And played it shall be, for when the Vita version launches on October 23, it will come with all 12 exclusive characters and new control schemes that take advantage of touch screen controls. Oh, and did we mention cross-compatibility? Any Vita player can take on PS3 gamers in head-to-head matches, and vice versa. We want more of this, please, and we're glad that Street Fighter X Tekken is set to deliver.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Release date: October 30
We haven't seen much of Need for Speed: Most Wanted until just recently, but Criterion's take on this long-running franchise warrants a close look. Our own Steven Williamson went hands-on with the PS3 version at gamescom, and loved what he played. Intense car chases with real players fueled by dirty tactics, a wide-open game world free to explore, and gorgeous visuals befitting of any game this focused on cars. We fully expect the same awesome gameplay from the Vita version, and EA has said they're considering implementing Cross-Buy for the pair.
Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
Release date: October 30
When we first saw this Assassin's Creed side story at E3 2012, we were taken aback by the surprise of the series' first female protagonist. Aveline's role in New Orleans during the Revolutionary War has yet to be determined, but we can't wait to run, jump, and stab our way through an open world that seems to rival its console counterparts. Ubisoft has thrown its support behind Vita in a big way, and we'd bet money on a surprise connection between Liberation and Assassin's Creed III.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified
Release date: November
The secrecy surrounding Black Ops Declassified in recent months certainly matched up to its name, but thanks to a strong showing at gamescom, we now know better what to expect from the series' debut on Vita. 4v4 multiplayer matches with modes like Team Deathmatch and Kill Confirmed, a single-player campaign that fills in the events between Black Ops and its upcoming sequel, and high-throttle blockbuster action that can only be found in Call of Duty. We hope Black Ops Declassified delivers on these promises and more, becoming Vita's first truly awesome first-person-shooter.
Persona 4 Golden
Release date: November 20
If you know Persona, then chances are you're already excited for the release of this HD remake of the RPG mainstay's fourth entry. If you don't know Persona, let me give you the rundown. Demonic summons, whacked-out plots, awesome characters, and more JRPG depth than you can handle. Seriously, these games are insanely long and packed with stuff to do. So, take the 120-hour-plus Persona 4 from the PS2's heyday, add hours of new content and a brand-new party member, then spruce up the entire game with revamped visuals and an HD upgrade. You've got Persona 4 Golden. Now, go pre-order it.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Release date: November 20
The full version of Sony's crossover brawler - every character, stage, and game mode - is coming to Vita on the same day as the PS3 version, and we couldn't be more excited. Not only will PlayStation All-Stars give us a chance to act out our PlayStation showdown fantasies, but it will be a proof of concept for everything that has placed Sony firmly on top of the console network heap. Cross-Buy. Cloud saves. Cross-compatibility with PS3. PlayStation All-Stars is loaded with features, and will certainly be another Game of the Year contender on Vita.
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault
Release date: Fall
We got a double-dose of great Ratchet news at gamescom this year. Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (QForce in Europe) is not only coming to Vita, it will also support Cross-Buy. Insomniac has promised that this entry will return to Ratchet's glorious bolt-collecting roots with an extra focus on maximum replay value. We'd be more than happy just welcoming back the gameplay that made us fall in love with Ratchet in the first place, but now we get to play anywhere? Oh, All 4 One - we hardly knew ye.
Do you plan on picking up any of these 2012 games for your Vita? Has our list convinced you to buy a Vita this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below, and keep it to PSU.com for all things Vita in the coming weeks, months, and years.