The PSN 100: PS Vita
A retro gamer's guide to the PS Vita at the dawn of its digital destruction.
The PSP/PS3/Vita digital stores are about to go the way of the dodo. That is, dead. Extinct. They're all going to go dead extinct. As a result, it seems like a pretty damn good reason to prepare a list of digital titles for each system that you really ought to consider getting while they're available. I've already done the PSP, soon I'll be doing the PS3 and a final list of errant PS1 and PS2 classics available on PlayStation 3, soon to go the way of the void. Allegedly. 100 games, total.
Initially I was planning to focus on games that have no physical release, but that felt too limiting so I've just used the criteria of "anything available digitally", which for Vita is - I'm fairly sure - all of them.
I've also stuck with stuff available on the US store, though I may do a supplementary list for Japan-only titles. We shall just have to wait and see, shan't we?
An absolute pig of a platformer, this kaizo nightmare sees adventurer Alban Hawkins getting down to some good, solid adventuring in a series of incredibly demanding, trial-and-error stages. It looks wonderfully sharp on the Vita and a ton of fun once you get your head around its tricks and traps.
A Boy and His Blob
WayForward’s reimagined version of the classic David Crane action-puzzler is a soft, sweet, cutesy-poo thing that happens to feature some rather fiendish platform puzzling. It’s attractive and fun, and there’s a dedicated button just for hugging the blob, you big soft shites.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Problematic fave alert! Troubling themes abound in this accuse-‘em-up in which an imprisoned cadre of maladjusted high schoolers take part in a series of messed-up murder trials in order to liberate themselves from the clawgrip of ursine outlaw Monokuma. Basically Phoenix Wright mixed with, ooh, I dunno, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain.
I didn’t like this game but everyone says it’s great so I put it on the list. Not for me though. Fumbly-tumbly confusing stuff. Also the main character’s towel falls off and she goes “Kyaaaa!” Masterpiece is it? Seems like yer common-or-garden anime pelch to me.
A brilliant handheld FPS that actually feels like a proper console shooter, no half-measures, swear down mate. Intelligent visual design, a fun campaign and excellent multiplayer (with a DLC offering bots for neverending fun) make this one of the very finest Vita games. A deserved system seller and easily, comfortably the best Killzone.
Nifflas’ beloved freeware PC series hit the Vita with a lovely and expansive mash-up of previous Knytt titles and ball-bouncing follow-up Within a Deep Forest. An enjoyably pastoral Metroidvania, with an amateurish charm to its visuals.
Yes, La-Mulana is available on the Nintendo Switch, but this EX version is slightly superior with its added bestiary. Also, quite frankly, I prefer holding the Vita to holding the Switch. This was the first (and, to date) only version of La-Mulana that I beat, and it remains possibly the pre-eminent masterpiece of freeware. But, you know, this version isn’t free. Unfortunately.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
Basically LittleBigPlanet 2 but tightened right up, with a genuinely fabulous campaign seeing you fling Sackboy all over cleverly-designed and thoroughly appealing levels. Of course, the whole creation suite of the big boy versions is here too, though you can say goodbye to that archive of user-created goodness. Sniffle.
Love Trousers mate, that’s what they call me. No it isn’t. It’s a Vlambeer epic that sees you launched into frantic dogfights with a host of upgrades and missions to clear. Surviving even thirty seconds is a titanic achievement, frankly. A brilliant game.
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Fairly sure this is the only way to play Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on a handheld, though MGS3 is available in presumably intolerable form on the 3DS. Not sure how this one would gel with the rear touch pad, but it’s MGS2 and 3, so it’s on the list. Stamp. Next.
Vanillaware’s gorgeous ninja-‘em-up, improved from its already-great Wii incarnation and bolstered with a bunch of game-changing DLC that’s soon going to be GONE FOREVER unless it gets some sort of unlikely re-release. Though even the vanilla (har har!) version of the game is worth your time. An enjoyable 2D slasher.
Need For Speed: Most Wanted
Brilliant open-world racing game with the scintillating, revelatory concept of just letting you get on with it, Most Wanted is a burned-rubber banger from top to tail. Don’t care about the “reach the top of the leaderboard” goal? Just arse around in a fast car. Again – brilliant.
Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines
A beautiful art style and - even better - reams upon reams of tragic childhood deaths as your cursed clan struggles through a lifetime of demon slaying while you marry all your daughters off and, maybe, inbreed them?? I would hope not. Look, I haven't played this, but it's supposed to be interesting. You like RPGs, right??
Race the Sun
As compulsive as THE CRACK DRUG, Race the Sun sees you in your Starfox/Sky Roads grounded spaceship, erm, racing the sun as it sets in the distance, collecting icons to make the sun get back in that sky, you while avoiding explosive death via the medium of smashing into a wall at ten trillion miles per hour. It’s kind of basically a mobile game in its mission-based structure, but it’s good instead of shite. Get it.
Ratchet & Clank Collection
Why, it’s rock-solid ports of the first (and best) three Ratchet & Clank games! No meaningful extras, but having these marvellous platform-shooters on the go is more than enough. Don’t worry about the lacklustre Jak series ports – these are great efforts with only some very minor (seriously, barely notable) rear touchpad silliness to worry about. Ace.
Sayonara Umihara Kawase Plus
The last traditional Umihara Kawase before Fresh! Metroidvania’d it up all, this is an enhanced port of the already-pretty-good 3DS game. Cheap and cheerful fishing-line firing platform puzzling of surprising longevity and multiple paths through the game. Not the best one in the series, but still very much a good time.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
This transplantation of Diablo-lite gameplay into the Silent Hill universe works better than many would be prepared to admit, and WayForward's adventure through Konami's iconic series deserves a better reputation than it has. It's also exclusive to Vita (for now, and probably forever), so make sure you give this difficult, demanding dungeon crawler a fair roll of the dice.
Soul Sacrifice Delta
What we've got here is basically Monster Hunter but with a more fantasy-horror bent to the proceedings, and it's really rather good. Reams of loot, a really fun endless dungeon mode and pretty strong graphics make this a Vita essential. Now, just why on earth has this one not been ported?!
Right. Okay. It's my list and I can put whatever I want on it, so I'm putting Superfrog HD. It's the Amiga game Superfrog, but with crappy new graphics and all-new levels. Oh, and they included all the original levels too, the absolute heroes. It looks poor but it plays great, and it's got a frog in it, so buy it immediately, cheers.
Super Star Wars
It's the SNES game Super Star Wars, based on some stupid movie or other. The best one of the Super Nintendo trilogy (it is, don't argue), it sees Luke, Han and Chewie leaping around in a variety of classic locations like that bloody sand planet that turns up in every sodding film in the series, and that canteen with that music that's honestly pretty unremarkable. Anyway, it's good, get it.
Media Molecule's platformer is very much tailored for the Vita hardware, making fine use of every single element of the system. It's fun, too, to go with the enjoyable gimmickery. They released it on PS4, too, but that version isn't nearly as fun given that this is very much a Vita title through and through.
Japanese High School antics meet in the middle with a dungeon-crawling Ysish RPG in Tokyo Xanadu, Falcom's attempt to bite the style of the Persona series. However, this is more than just an imitation, with a joyously ludicrous storyline to follow, engaging gameplay and a pleasingly eerie atmosphere to enjoy.
EAT ELECTRIC DEATH. Basically just another version of Tempest, the criminally underplayed TxK might be the best incarnation of Jeff Minter's masterpiece, with spectacular graphics and sound giving way to a trance-like gameplay experience that's one of the best titles the Vita has to offer. Get it played NOW.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
A remarkable achievement, this tiny version of Sony's biggest series holds up remarkably well and - surprisingly - hasn't been ported to PS4. There's a lot of new system gimmickery, but overall this is a shockingly adept translation of its bigger brothers' game feel to a handheld. And this game's main new character, Marisa Chase, did get a shout-out in Uncharted 4, so that's nice.
As great as it ever was, Wipeout 2048 has only been dulled by its content turning up on Wipeout Omega Collection for PS4, but don't sleep on this original incarnation. It still plays great and it's a slice of futuristic fastness at its finest. Zip zap zoom your way to, um, eBay. And buy this, I guess.