As great as home systems like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 may be, there will always be something pleasingly personal about a handheld device. That’s one reason it’s such a shock the Wii U hasn’t been a wholly successful release, combining traditional gaming with the awesome GamePad. Nintendo hasn’t given up on the Wii U yet, and rightly so.
While there was some speculation that their next offering, preliminarily called the Nintendo NX, would replace the 3DS, the upcoming batch of games prove it’s not going anywhere.
And while the PS4 still dominates sales, Sony has some great things in store for Vita players this year. Here are just a few of the games handheld-fans can look forward to in 2016…
Hyrule Warriors Legends (3DS)
We were excited when Hyrule Warriors was announced for the Wii U: this fusion of the hack-and-slash style of Dynasty Warriors, but with the environs of The Legend of Zelda was met with overall positivity. A video for this port version of the game accidentally made its way online before the official teaser at E3.
This isn’t solely a portable translation of the Wii U game, however: it adds new story elements from the ever-popular Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and allows you to switch between characters on a whim, making for more adrenaline-fuelled play.
Fortunately, you won’t have to wait long to play as Tetra and King of Hyrule: Hyrule Warriors Legends is out next month!
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles Trilogy Pack (PSV)
The action-adventure franchise has been going strong for nearly a decade now, and the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles have taken gamers to China, India, and Russia across the trilogy which debuted in April 2015.
A year on, the platform games are being bundled together in a special PS Vita release.
Not only does the series span three countries; it also immerses you in select times in their histories, including the struggles between the Sikh Empire and the East India Company in 1841, and the crumbling Ming Dynasty in 1526 China. Admittedly, the games separately received mixed reviews, but the connecting narrative might just make this trilogy pack a pleasing addition to the Vita family.
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (3DS & PSV)
… And basically all major consoles. In case you missed it, Star Wars is big. The Force Awakens was greatly hyped, and actually lived up to its promise. Combine that franchise with LEGO, and you’ve got an essential purchase.
Lego’s Star Wars series began in 2005, their first one selling 6.7 million units worldwide. Considering the reception to J.J. Abrams’ film (and Lego’s latest venture, Marvel Avengers), this game could be even bigger, and will be available in June, likely around the same time as the movie’s DVD and Blu-ray release.
What’s more, you can play it on the bus, on the train, and on the Millennium Falcon. Portability is king!
Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)
“Who are Marth and Roy?” That’s what gamers asked back in 2001 when Super Smash Bros. Melee included the two characters who were only recognizable to Japanese players. Their popularity prompted Nintendo to start releasing their home series, Fire Emblem, in the West.
Fates has been in the works since the critical success of 2012/13’s Awakenings, also on the 3DS; retaining the staff (and so, too, the creative vision) of the previous game, we expect Fates to be met with a great deal of fanfare, especially considering its reception in Japan.
Exclusive to Nintendo’s handheld consoles, this tactical role-player allows you to customize your main character straight away before delving into battle across the kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr. To tell the whole story from different viewpoints (and to keep it at a reasonable price), Fates is split into two games, Birthright and Conquest, released in North America this month. A third route, Revelations, is available in March.
SaGa: Scarlet Grace (PSV)
You can be forgiven for not having heard of this franchise, but it’s an adaptable one that’s survived a crossing to a different platform. The SaGa RPGs began on the Game Boy in 1989, but has never been a massive name in the West. But the announcement of Scarlet Grace has already got its fans very, very excited.
The previous two games were released only on the Japanese social network, GREE, and on your PC, accessed through your Internet browser. That means this is the first mainstream game available since 2002/3’s Unlimited Saga for the PlayStation 2. The series is known for its unconventional, open-world gameplay, so the advancements in definition will prove a pleasing contrast to the world displayed in the last game.
World of Final Fantasy (PSV)
Okay, so you might not know SaGa, but that’s just a spin-off from this highly-successful series you’ve no doubt heard of, if not played.
Final Fantasy burst onto the market in 1987 and with over 110 million units sold, is one of the best-selling video gaming franchises of all time. Thanks to its stunning photo-realism, the fifteenth instalment in the core range is expected to be released later this year.
World of Final Fantasy offers something a little bit different, however. This upcoming release for PS4 and Vita will have gameplay reminiscent of the franchise’s roots, and will be more accessible for the next generation of young gamers, so should ensure its future. As such, it has fresh-faced “Chibi”-like aesthetics while keeping the RPG ethos, as you explore Grimoire, a world filled with classic Final Fantasy creatures.
Mighty No. 9 (3DS & PSV)
Support for Mighty No. 9 is pretty overwhelming: the project was funded on Kickstarter, where its aim of raising $900,000 was achieved in just two days. It’s now raised $4,000,000, meaning the title will be porting to handheld consoles as well as all major gaming platforms, including the Wii U, PS4, Linux, and OS X.
Why is it so popular? Mighty No. 9 is a traditional Japanese side-scrolling action game, combining the 8- and 16-bit flavor with modern tech and fan input. You play as Beck (named by fans), the only android not infected by a computer virus, fighting your fellow Mighty Number machines and taking your enemies’ weapons once they’re defeated.
The really exciting thing, however – the aspect that sets this apart from other upcoming games – is the direct involvement of Keiji Inafune, best known for giving Mega Man its distinctive style; indeed, Mighty No. 9 is seen as the spiritual successor to the much-loved franchise. And if you want to indulge in some side-scrolling goodness, why not go to the Nintendo eShop where you can see a fine selection of Mega Man archive games? 1988’s Mega Man 2 is probably your best bet.
Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow (3DS & 2DS)
This year, Pokémon celebrates its 20th anniversary, but so far, it’s been played surprisingly low-key. Think of all those 1990s kids with fond memories of wild Rattatas, Pidgeys, and Weedles, ready to relive the glory days!
That’s why three popular titles have been rereleased on new models of the 2DS, pre-downloaded onto transparent versions of the handheld consoles. And if you’re a 3DS owner, the titles will be on the Nintendo eShop from 27th February!
Charizard and Blastoise front the original games (poor Bulbasaur – always the bridesmaid), while Pikachu brightens up the Yellow, originally a reaction to the popularity of the TV series. Yep, blame Ash for that electrifying yellow stalker. It’s nearly time again to see Professor Oak and make your choice.
Ray Gigant (PSV)
Aliens have invaded Earth!
And in true Eastern fashion, these Gigants look like beasts from myth. Previously released solely in Japan, this game will hit the Western market later this year presumably exclusive to the PlayStation Vita. There are already ample amounts of Dungeon-drawler RPGs for the console already, but this does at least have an interesting narrative style: you approach the story from three viewpoints; three people striving to save us all via different methods – and these all converge at the game’s conclusion.
Ray Gigant is expected this spring, but there’s some uncertainty whether it’ll have a physical release or be available solely as a download.
Zero Time Dilemma (3DS & PSV)
The Zero Escape story began in 2009/10 on the DS with Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, and continued with 2012’s Virtue’s Last Reward. Zero Time Dilemma‘s evolution started when the previous game was released, but as the series hadn’t proved popular in Japan, it’s been delayed until the middle of this year. It’s come as a wonderful surprise to its considerable fanbase.
If you doubt their dedication, Google “Operation Bluebird”.
The series is a visual novel adventure that mixes tense “escape the room” scenes with moral dilemmas about such topics as torture, mass killings, and the price of freedom. Zero Time Dilemma is due on both popular handheld consoles, so that intimacy will encourage a deeper connection with the narrative, and affect your “way of thinking, values, [and] virtues”, according to its writer, Kotaro Uchikoshi.
That’s the tip of the iceberg. We can’t wait to start these enticing games, but who knows what other great stories will unfold on the 3DS and PSV?
Which games are you most looking forward to in 2016? Are there any you want to be ported? Or any you’re desperate to play, despite them only being available in Japan? Let us know below.