The PlayStation Vita is quite the powerful portable gaming device, but we get the feeling it's a bit underappreciated. Sure it's great for Remote Play and other PlayStation 4-paired abilities, but what kind of experiences are available without another console involved? What can be enjoyed on just the Vita? We have 20 games here that serve as perfect examples of what the Vita has to offer, and we think some of these games may surprise you. Here are the Best PlayStation Vita games.
Media Molecule introduces all kinds of new fabrics and elements with each new release. The devs started with their burlap buddy Sackboy in LittleBigPlanet before transitioning to a world made entirely of paper with Tearaway. Hidden inside this wonderful paper place is a beautiful story filled with adventure and danger, as we're tasked with leading our little messenger Iota (or Atoi the female messenger) through many different obstacles to deliver his message to we the players. Make sure you stick around until the end also, as Tearaway has one of the most charming endings we've ever watched, and it truly must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD
We would have been plenty happy with a HD remastering of just Final Fantasy X, as that game is still one of the best in the entire series. That wasn't enough for Square Enix though, and it decided to remaster Final Fantasy X-2 as well to give us a double dose of PS2 Final Fantasy action for the Vita. We have zero problems with playing these games again, invoking fond memories of seeing these games for the first time and remembering everything they had to offer. If Square and Sony wanted to bring us more HD remastering of Final Fantasy games, we certainly wouldn't be against it.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Take the Phoenix Wright investigation and trial formula, mix it with Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, infuse a little bit of Battle Royale, add a maniacal teddy bear looking to spill some blood, and Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is born. This game tests every bit of our logical skills, throwing us into a quandary of death and sorrow and making us figure out who's behind the misfortune befalling these kids. This is one messed up story, and the sequel Goodbye Despair takes the craziness even further, but it's a tale that should be played by anyone looking to test their brain in the most insane way possible.
Hotline Miami is about as gruesome as they come despite being a pixelated world viewed from the top down. Our main "hero" Jacket is expected to do some really messed up things as he fights the mysterious group forcing him to do these things, using all kinds of weapons to mutilate the henchmen in white. Of course if he doesn't act fast himself, Jacket himself gets mutilated, so we suppose it's a necessary evil. While the surface is bloody, Hotline Miami's story is rather deep and made us think long after we finished it. If Hotline Miami isn't out of the backlog yet, put on the animal mask and jump in now.
PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate
We saw the name "shooter" in the title and made some easy assumptions about what we were about to play, but we couldn't have been more wrong. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is a twin-stick shooter tasking us with saving stranded astronauts from every obstacle known to game-kind, from monsters to lava to ice and more. The twin-stick method is very intuitive even on the smaller sticks of the Vita, perfectly placed so we can shoot our way through these obstacles courses and save our buddies from destruction. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate should be on any Vita owner's radar, and we're sure it will defy every expectation.
Here's another game that turned our world inside out... literally! Fez is a 2D platformer starring a little all-white fellow named Gomez chosen by some higher power to collect Cubes in order to save the world. What makes this game so unique is the ability to turn the 2D world on the Y-axis, creating brand new paths that otherwise we would have never seen before and making us now think about four different possibilities instead of just one. This completely changes the way we think about all platformers, not just this one, and we think we're more complete players now that we've experienced it. If we can feel this way about a game, then you should certainly check it our for yourself.
Dragon's Crown is a return to the glory days of side-scrolling brawlers like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Sonic Blast Man. There's a little bit of Gauntlet thrown in as well, allowing us to choose between a handful of different classes like Warrior and Witch and forcing us to learn each class's unique attributes, strengths, and weaknesses. This is a deep, daring dungeon brawler that will challenge the most hardened and experienced players from beginning to end. Dragon's Crown was clearly made with the old-school player in mind, and it does a wonderful job of bringing the old day back to the forefront for a little while.
Thomas Was Alone
Computer AIs in the shape of squares, rectangles, and other parallelograms act as the stars in Thomas Was Alone, which probably doesn't (and shouldn't) make any sense to those reading this. However, within those shapes is a beautiful story of overcoming adversity and surviving impossible odds... even though they're squares. The cheeky British narrator adds a layer of humor and wit to the otherwise ordinary world of shapes, and leading these squares from beginning to end is far more fun than it should be. We highly suggest playing through the story of Thomas and his friends; it won't take long to see why we love it so much.
Bit.Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Endless runner games are usually found on tablets and smartphones, but one of the best ones out there resides right here on the Vita: Bit.Trip Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. 95 stages of free-running await anyone who tries the game out, tasking players with jumping, gliding, running, and even dancing in order to avoid obstacles and get through each course. Every action contributes to the soundtrack that plays during each level as well, so jumping and gliding to the perfect beat is a sound strategy for winning each level. Commander Video and his crew are some of the best runners out there, and Runner 2 is a prime example of how fun a runner game can be.
Muramasa was a wonderful 2D action platformer on the Wii, but its transition to the Vita pushed it even further into excellence. The magnificent 2D graphics shine even more on the Vita's tiny screen, and the action and platforming elements remain untouched from the initial experience. We love playing as Monohime and Kisuke through every part of Muramasa Rebirth, and experiencing it again after playing it on the Wii initially was no trouble at all. If Vita owners need a new game to play for a few weeks, we'd recommend Muramasa Rebirth now, tomorrow, and for as long as the Vita is around.
Child of Light
The Japanese RPG style has fallen out of grace as time marches on, making it really hard to find a good JRPG game without digging into the PlayStation Store's collection of older games. Child of Light changes all of that, delivering the exact JRPG feeling we'd been seeking for a long time. The world of Lemuria is a beautiful yet treacherous one, and our heroine Aurora and her motley crew certainly have their hands full, but the beauty of the UbiArt engine and the novel idea of creating dialogue in poetic verse make this a very memorable game perfect for the Vita during a long travel session. This Child of Light will lead the way to wonderful gaming.
Luftrausers checks off so many boxes on the "classic games emulated by this game" checklist, it's hard to know where to start. There's some 1941 in there with its World War II plane shoot-em-up setting, there's Gradius and Ikaruga in the power-ups and higher weaponry, and there's even a bit of Asteroids to be found in the gravity and 360-degree turning aspect. This Frankenstein of classic games is marvelous and insane fun, luckily not a victim of "too many cooks in the kitchen," and Vlambeer has created a few monsters in people trying to beat their own high scores. Take flight in Luftrausers but be warned: we don't know when or if you'll be able to put it down.
Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
It's hard to believe that a tiny launch title that came out way back in February 2012 could still make such an impact today, but Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack has challenged us since the day we first held our new Vitas. Controlling the blob as it consumes everything in sight and grows larger and larger is a lot of fun, and the physics-based puzzles the game throws at us can really force us to think outside of the blob as we solve them. Sometimes the best games are the ones we least expect, and Mutant Blobs Attack is still high on our Vita list today.
Cellar Door Games
Rogue Legacy pits us in front of a giant castle and says we have to go in and kill five bosses, which sounds simple enough. Here's the problem: the castle is randomly generated so it's never the same twice, and losing a life turns control over to one of the previous character's "heirs," each with his or her attributes. These heirs also sometimes come with afflictions that affect the game, like color-blindness which turns everything black and white. Hating Rogue Legacy while we play it is a big part of why we love it so much, because few games throw monkey wrenches into our plans like this one does. Rogue Legacy is not for the beginner, but it's definitely worthy of a try from seasoned gaming vets.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Like the Final Fantasy collection above, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection takes two of the best PlayStation 2 games and combines them onto one tiny cartridge that we can take with us wherever we go. Metal Gear Solid 2 is a total mindblow that may cause you to think you're hallucinating when playing really late at night, while Metal Gear Solid 3 is the current reigning "best of the series" champion in many MGS fans' eyes. Both games are must-plays however, as is the entire MGS series, so picking this up to play on the road is a fantastic idea.
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited packs over 200 hours of content onto a tiny Vita cartridge so well, we think it's some manner of sorcery straight from the game itself. The turn-based strategy game is brimming with personality and humor, but underneath that soft exterior is a game that carries a pretty steep difficulty in the later stages. This is one of those games where you can taste the ending at one point, but there might be five more hours of battling to do before the final boss even appears. Fans of the series love it and RPG aficionados will love it, too.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Unlike Mutant Blobs Attack earlier in the list, we fully expected Uncharted: Golden Abyss to be a launch title that stuck with Vita fans long afterward. It's a full Uncharted experience made especially for the Vita after all, and we all know Uncharted strikes gold every time a new game launches. Nathan Drake moves just as well on the Vita as he does on its console brethren, and those looking to try an Uncharted game for the first time need only look at Golden Abyss as a great place to do so.
Street Fighter X Tekken
We never thought that fighting games would excel on the Vita as they have, but every fighting title is a damn near perfect port from console to Vita. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat are two other examples, but the most impressive is Street Fighter X Tekken. The massive roster, the team-based matchups, and the array of costumes all made the journey during porting, bringing the full experience of this crazy crossover to a portable that we can bring with us wherever we want. We hope this fighting games on Vita trend continues, because being able to fight on the go has proven to be quite cool.
Sine Mora is a great example of why the term "bullet hell" exists in video games. Throughout a gameplay session bullets will be flying all over the screen at players and enemies alike, creating a true "hell" for those trying to figure what the heck is going on among all the insane action. This game gets out of control in the lower settings, and we have yet to venture into the realm of "Insane Mode," so we don't know what awaits those crazy enough to up the ante. No matter how you play, Sine Mora is a fast-paced, action-packed shooter that's sure to delight and frustrate all at once.
Persona 4 Golden
Portable Persona 4 was thought to be an impossibility until the Vita came along, and now we can't imagine with system without it. This port of the amazing PlayStation 2 RPG brings every character, story beat, battle element, and arena from the original to the Vita while adding new Personas, new areas to explore, and even a brand new character added to the story. Right now there's no better way to experience Persona than with the PlayStation Vita, a title we never thought a portable system could hold for any non-exclusive franchise, and it will always be the best place to play Persona 4 even long after Persona 5 hits shelves.