The PS Vita is one of the most interesting gaming devices on the market right now. When it debuted in the U.S. in 2012, Sony billed it as a portable way to play AAA titles. Games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation proved the handheld had the power to deliver on that promise. But — plot twist — the Vita never sold very well, making it impossible for developers to keep pumping AAA budgets into games that couldn’t sell enough to pay off.
So the Vita coasted along, with a largely Japanese user base spending money on games, thus securing a steady stream of Japanese titles for the system. Meanwhile, in the West, PlayStation’s digital store took off, and indie developers started porting their PS3, PS4, and PC games to the Vita — games a devoted group of Vita owners are reliably buying.
This brings us to the present. Although the Vita failed to deliver on Sony’s original ambition for the handheld, it has built up a terrific game library in a relatively short time. Whether you have a PS Vita and you’re looking for games to play, or you’re thinking of picking up this unique gaming system, keep reading. Below are the five best games available only on the PS Vita, according to Metacritic.
Metacritic score: 84
There’s nothing wrong with being addicted to something as long as it doesn’t hurt you, right? TxK is a game that gets its hooks in you quickly. It may look like just another flashy, neon, retro shooter, but there’s something special going on here. From the thumping soundtrack to the eye-catching particle effects, this game will keep you playing long after you had planned to quit.
You control a ship that sits at the base of a tiny level while enemies claw their way toward you. Your job is to move in front of them and riddle them with bullets before they reach you. Thanks to the sheer number of enemies thrown at you, this is a lot harder than it sounds. But that doesn’t make it any less fun. TxK has obvious roots in the retro arcade vein, but it adds loads of modern game design on top, making it feel brand new.
Metacritic score: 87
Here’s a genre you don’t see often anymore: the three-dimensional platformer. Popularized by Mario 64, this type of game reigned supreme for many years until the Xbox 360 and PS3 allowed the first-person shooter genre to take over the world. Tearaway, however, proves there’s still plenty of room for creativity left in 3D platformers.
Just like Mario 64 and Jak and Daxter, Tearaway has you running and jumping through a 3D game world. The gameplay brings surprises at every turn, and makes use of just about every input the Vita offers, including the camera, touchscreens, and tilt sensor. To top it off, the impeccable graphics make the entire game look like it’s made of folded paper. It’s a world unlike any you’ve seen before, and it’s absolutely worth exploring.
3. LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
Metacritic score: 88
The 3D platformer’s more popular sibling these days is the side-scrolling platformer, which includes games like New Super Mario Bros. and Rayman Legends. It also includes LittleBigPlanet, one of Sony’s most popular series.
One thing that makes these games so popular is that they’re open-ended. Once you play through the many levels that come included with the game, you can make levels of your own, or play the numerous mini-games that come packaged in. Or you can download and play the best levels other people have created. It’s the game that keeps on giving. The PS Vita version is just like the rest of the series: very creative, very fun, and full of appeal for just about every kind of gamer.
2. Velocity 2X
Metacritic score: 89
Velocity 2X is two games rolled in one: a top-down shooter and a side-scrolling action platformer. While this setup sounds like it might feel shoehorned together, Velocity 2X makes the game types feel like two parts of a whole. You start each level in a space ship. Your job is to collect gems, take out enemies, and clear all the caves you find along the way.
The caves are where the game shifts to a side-scrolling perspective, but they feel just as fast-paced and wrought with danger as the ship sections. Beating the game isn’t too challenging for a dedicated player, but getting a 100 percent clearance rate requires multiple play-throughs, each with a different goal. Mastering Velocity 2X takes a lot of time and practice, but when the game is this good, you won’t mind at all.
1. Persona 4 Golden
Metacritic score: 93
Almost everyone who has played Persona 4 Golden agrees that it’s the best game available on Vita. That’s not to disparage the other titles; it’s a testament to how incredible Persona 4 Golden really is. The game originally came out as Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 on the PlayStation 2. The problem was, it was released well past the system’s lifespan, when most gamers had already jumped ship for the PS3 or Xbox 360.
Persona 4 Golden is a remastered version of the PS2 game, giving RPG fans a new way to experience this incredible classic. The game takes place over the course of a year, and revolves around a large group of high schoolers who also happen to be monster slayers. Days play out as you do normal things like go to class, make friends, study, and work at a part-time job. You and your buddies can also go exploring nearby dungeons where you dispatch enemies and improve your stats. This Vita exclusive is the definitive version of the game, adding loads of new characters and missions to the mix. If you only play one game for Vita, make it Persona 4 Golden.
More From Tech Cheat Sheet:
- The 9 Best Nintendo 3DS Exclusive Games Released So Far
- The 4 Best PlayStation 4 Exclusive Games Released So Far
- The 5 Best Wii U Video Games Released So Far
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