Earlier today, we shared a report that suggested that the storefronts for PS3, PS Vita, and PSP games would be going away by this Summer. While there is still time and Sony has yet to address the worrisome news, we couldn’t help but reflect back on some of the PS Vita games that we’ve enjoyed the most. For all of the lack of support that this handheld system had, it truly was revolutionary for its time with its dual cameras and tracking. The remote play was nothing to scoff at either. So, if the reports are accurate and the storefront does go away this year, here are 10 of the best PS Vita games that you should play before the store closes for good.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection includes Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and the PS Vita port was optimized to perfection. The Vita version of these Hideo Kojima adventures fully utilized the unique (at the time) touch-screen controls when taking to combat. It was also really easy to go from playing this on the PlayStation 3 to the Vita, because saves and trophies all saved, making it even easier to take this particular Kojima experience on the go.
“The Metal Gear franchise has a long history and many exceptional moments,” reads our review of the collection. “While this collection doesn’t give you the complete picture, it highlights many of the reasons this series has such a devoted following. The fight against The Boss, Colonel Campbell going nuts, the haunting tune as Chrysalis flies by – these are the kind of memorable events that define Metal Gear, and they are just as awesome as you remember.”
Persona 4 Golden
Persona 4 Golden is a masterpiece. It’s a fine representation of RPG gold and surprisingly enough, the PS Vita is the best way to play this game. While the title itself is available on other platforms like the PS2, PS3, and Windows PC, I feel that you haven’t truly experienced what Persona 4 Golden has to offer until you’ve played it on Vita.
Using the PS2 version as its base, the Vita edition brought with it new characters to meet, new enemies to annihilate, and a new way to experience the branching story. To me, this game is one of those titles that are the reason to get a platform. If you didn’t have a Vita already but love Persona, Golden is a fine excuse to get both.
I’m not kidding.
“Persona 4 Golden’s greatest strength is that everything fits together seamlessly, from the connected battle and social aspects to the fresh changes,” reads Game Informer’s review. “Newcomers are sure to find plenty to love, while series veterans can revisit fond memories and experience new content. This game still remains one of the best RPGs to date; don’t miss out on your second chance to experience it.”
Guacamelee! is brilliance personified. The story of journeying through the land of the dead in the name of love is stunning in itself, but this 2D platformer shined for many reasons: the combat was spectacular (made even more so on the Vita), every inch of this game sparkles with individuality, and there are so many secrets to uncover hidden cleverly throughout the entire adventure.
Plus, you can play as a Mexican farmer that happens upon a magical luchador mask, how cool is that?!
According to our review, “Even with its platforming frustrations, Guacamelee is an excellent addition to the genre, retaining important classic elements and introducing several fresh additions. The main campaign took me around seven hours (with a decent amount of secret-searching). The pacing is just right, sending you from one adventure to the next without any bloated, boring spots. If you’ve got a PS3 or Vita, go suplex this into your system now.”
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was made with portable systems in mind and it shows. This visual novel adventure is as twisted and weird as you’d expect from this franchise and it’s actually the title that started it all. First released in Japan-only back in 2010 for PSP, it eventually came over to other platforms — including Android and iOS — a few years later.
Playing as Makota Naegi as he finds himself in a real battle royale situation (before battle royale was cool) was a treat and set up the series to become a massive hit. And yes, there are the iconic mechanic bears. And murder. Lots of murder.
To learn more, this is what our review had to say: “Danganronpa’s murder mysteries are just that – mysterious. I found myself constantly second-guessing what the solution to each investigation was until the verdict was passed. Few games keep the wool over your eyes as effectively as this dark tale. Making a story so gripping is tough in a video game, but it’s Danganronpa’s best attribute. I was surprised, captivated, and challenged by the culprit in every case. Danganronpa proves why having an interactive experience can make stories more thrilling, even in the context of such a bleak scenario.”
Dragon’s Crown is a stunning brawler that is made almost perfect by the way Atlus and Vanillaware modernized this game’s beat ’em up mechanics. Stylized to the T, the story progression of this game worked flawlessly with its intense combat. It’s the perfect action RPG for those that love a good fight and a solid challenge.
For those that may be concerned that Dragon’s Crown fell into a trap that many games in this genre have with short lengths and unsatisfying ends: don’t be. This adventure is fulfilling, rich in storytelling, and brutally satisfying when carving one’s way through a swath of foes. Unlocking new skills paired with the beautiful art style makes this a must-have for any PS Vita owner looking for something to spend some time on.
“It’s clear that Vanillaware has a fervent love for the roots of the role-playing genre,” says Matt Miller in his review for Game Informer. “Nods to old tabletop gaming abound, up to and including a dungeon master-like narrator who carries you through the story. Even so, Dragon’s Crown needn’t be a niche title; its accessible combat and rewarding upgrades are great fun for any action fan. In particular, if you have fond memories of days spent gathered in dim arcades with friends, wasting enemies and quarters in equal measure, then this is a surefire hit. Dragon’s Crown is proof that the cooperative brawler isn’t dead.”
Killzone is pretty hit or miss for some people, but Mercenary is a first-person shooter experience you shouldn’t miss out on with the PS Vita. This one is actually the second handheld Killzone game in the franchise, but it’s arguably the best. Mercenary tasks the player with delving into the key events from the first three games as a mercenary named Arran Danner.
The controls and visuals for Killzone: Mercenary is beyond incredible but how it was designed, especially with the Vita in mind, is what makes it truly special. If you like a solid story and satisfying gunplay, Killzone: Mercenary is where it is at.
“Killzone: Mercenary sets a new bar of quality for FPS on handheld,” reads our full review. “While there’s still room for improvement, the crisp visuals, aggressive action, and solid multiplayer make it an easy recommendation for players hungry for exclusive Vita content.”
Aliens, you can’t live with them; you can’t live without them (just don’t tell Mass Effect fans). Velocity 2X is a sci-fi tale that sees an abducted Lr. Kai Tana in a fight for her life to escape hostile aliens and protect those around her. What makes this game so unique is that it effortlessly combines two distinct gameplay styles: a top-down vertical shooter and a side-scrolling action platformer. This is a fast-paced game for those that love high-stakes adventures. It also boasts over 50 artfully designed levels that you will want to explore, making replayability incredibly high for those that like to dive back into a beloved game from time to time.
The fast-paced complexity of this game is one that I can’t recommend enough. Despite the adrenaline rush I get from playing it, it’s actually an excellent stress reliever! “Futurlab’s stellar game is challenging and unusual, and its complex controls are demanding,” says Miller in his review (this man has good taste, y’all). “For that reason, Velocity 2X may not fascinate novice gamers, but experienced players will delight at its varied gameplay, spare design aesthetic, and daring speed. “
I don’t think we really have to go into why Minecraft is an obvious choice. Minecraft is available almost everywhere, and for good reason. The creative mode allows for a relaxing experience for those just looking to unwind and make magic, while the standard mode allows for similar creative freedom just while fighting hordes of pixelated enemies and herding chickens.
Like the Vine says, “Look at all those chickens.”
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Uncharted: Golden Abyss was a launch title for the PS Vita and a major reason why so many had high hopes for the mobile platform. Golden Abyss offered the same puzzles and adventure that Uncharted fans expect and delivered on its promise of an impressive on-the-go journey. Playing as Nathan Drake is always a good time, but taking to the hidden areas and collectible hunting while being able to kick back out on the porch to enjoy the fine Summer weather was a treat that I will always treasure. If you haven’t checked this out yet, I highly recommend it! Especially with how the puzzles work with Vita’s touch screen.
To learn more about the positives and negatives of an Uncharted mobile experience, you can check out our full review here!
When all else fails, go Spelunky! This indie 2D platform game is a solid choice for those looking for an enjoyable format and a hefty challenge. Don’t let the style of this game fool you, Spelunky gets real challenging real fast. Diving deep underground for untold treasure is a wild ride and the puzzles add a nice break from the point A to Z adventure.
That being said, if you’re prone to rage quitting? Make sure you go in with a level head. Failing in Spelunky takes players back to the gold ‘ol days where failure meant Game Over. Messing up in this game will land you back at the start, but at least the randomly generated levels help keep the monotony at bay.
“I may have a hopeless addiction to Spelunky, but it’s not an entirely pleasant one,” reads our review. “As exciting as it is to play a platformer with an infinite number of new levels to jump, whip, and bomb your way through, the novelty comes at a cost. You need ample patience, time, and skill to make it through Spelunky’s ever-changing caves, and much of the hidden content is virtually off-limits to all but the most hardcore (and masochistic) gamers. If you fit that description, you have my congratulations and condolences.”
With the remote play feature, you can play so many more games. While they can be played doesn’t mean they should be, however. Some titles just didn’t make the transition to handheld well but one memory I will absolutely treasure is loading up a monster of a game like Dragon Age Inquisition, taking my Vita with me outside during a beautiful spring afternoon with my dogs, and lounging in a hammock — game in-hand — with a nice scotch on the rocks. I remember at that moment feeling so at peace and comfortable and honestly astounded to be playing such an open-world game on such a tiny system I could take with me on the go. That being said, that doesn’t mean it worked the way it should, so I wouldn’t recommend playing a title like that unless you just really love the experience.
Overall, the Vita deserved better. It didn’t get the support it needed from Sony and some studios didn’t understand the true potential of the features being offered. TL&DR: The PlayStation Vita was a good system, you guys are just mean.