The Playstation Vita is truly a beast, as any proud owner of Sony’s niche handheld will tell you, and it has an impressive library of games to showcase it’s technical dominance. Whether you are a long-time fanboy or you just bought an OLED on eBay, here are five games every Vita owner must play.
First up is Killzone: Mercenary — the game that showcases the technical prowess of the Vita like none-other. It’s truly astounding how a game can look and feel so sharp, on such a small device. Mercenary makes good on Sony’s promise of console-quality titles on the Playstation Vita, though it’s obvious we won’t be seeing many more (if any) AAA experiences in the future.
The story is solid, though a bit cliche, with plenty of post-game mission variations to provide a major boost to replay value. More importantly, the gameplay is as tight as any Killzone game on PS3 (or PS4, for that matter). And if you’re a multiplayer fan, don’t be dissuaded by the fear of a dead online community — there is still a strong and solid base of both new and veteran Mercenary players logging in daily.
So pick up Killzone if you haven’t already, as no game shows off what the Vita can do better than Mercenary.
Quick Score: 9/10
Though Velocity 2X is technically cross-save with the PS4, it feels most at home on Sony’s handheld — making it an absolute must-have for Vita owners.
The sheer speed of the game makes the bright color palette really pop, and the drive to complete levels with a perfect rating demands precision from even the most hardcore of twitch-gamers. If precision and muscle-memory isn’t really your thing, Velocity 2X’s story is certainly worth a play-through, as it’s just plain fun to maneuver through 2X’s levels with such perfectly tight gameplay.
And... I’m not gonna’ lie... I’d take Kai over Samus any day. (Please don’t kill me, Metroid fans!)
Quick Score: 9.5/10
Everybody knows that golf games are great on handhelds. Sadly, Vita owners are deprived of Mario Golf, for obvious reasons. No worries, though, as we have a legitimate competitor! Known as Hot Shots Golf in the United States, Everybody’s Golf is the golf experience available on Vita.
Gorgeous graphics and tight, comical gameplay make hitting the links fun, no matter where you are. Like many Vita games, the colors really pop (especially on that OLED), and there are plenty of unlockables and challenges to keep you busy for months. And you’ll want to play for months, because — as many of us know — handheld golf games can be so addicting!
Hot Shots Golf was the first game I played on Vita, and it maintains a permanent place among the greatest games the platform has to offer.
Quick Score: 9/10
Gravity Rush has recently been remastered on PS4, but — for a long time — it remained the Vita’s most unique (and possibly best) exclusive. No game represented the Vita quite as well as Gravity Rush, and no self-respecting Vita owner has gone without playing this game.
The gameplay can be a bit wonky at times, but that’s almost part of it’s charm... and charm is something it certainly isn’t lacking. The art-style is beautiful, like we’re playing a comic book, and Cat is definitely one of Sony’s more compelling characters (she’s actually available as DLC in Hot Shot’s Golf).
It’s truly a fantastic experience to progress through the first chapter of Cat’s story on Vita, so pick this one up before Gravity Rush 2 comes to PS4. (If you don’t own a Vita, get the Remaster on PS4).
Quick Score: 9.5/10
I platinum’d Uncharted: Golden Abyss a long time ago. Looking back, I still can’t believe Sony Bend managed to make a full-fledged Uncharted experience on the Vita.
In fact, not only did they succeed in making a true Uncharted experience, but they also managed to enrich it with touches only the Vita could provide. Though holding the Vita up to a light source might to read an old map might be a bit annoying, solving puzzles and cleaning collectibles with the touch controls is legitimately fun, as is searching for that perfect camera shot using the Vita’s camera.
And they finally gave Drake a backpack!
Like Killzone: Mercenary, Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a true console-quality experience on Sony’s aging handheld. The story easily holds up to those of Uncharted 1-2, and is easily the best third-person action-adventure game ever produced for a handheld.
Quick Score: 10/10
Author’s Note: This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the best games available on Vita, and there are obvious exclusions — such as Persona 4: Golden, Muramasa Rebirth, etc. So don’t flip out! There will be other Vita lists in the future, so consider this Part One of a “Games Every Self-Respecting Vita Owner Must Play” series.
Think my scores are too high? (I am choosing the best games, after all.) Think the Vita is dead? Let me know what you think in the comments, or tweet @Shasdam.
Until next time, always keep a microfibre cloth handy!
Adam is an American living in Budapest, where he studies the Comparative History of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. In addition to being an author on TAY, he also teaches English privately to businesses and individuals. Contact him on his ConTAYct Page or @Shasdam.