Sony’s deeply attractive Playstation Vita handheld has been available in Europe for a little over two weeks now, and if any one thing defined the console’s successful EU launch, it was that bountiful selection of stellar launch software. It was true to say that the Vita’s debut featured more than its fair share of ports, but they were rarely cynical and (more importantly) were rarely slapdash. After two weeks of constant play, we’ve selected our ten favourite Playstation Vita games….
10. Rayman Origins
A stripped-down port it may be, but Rayman Origins is so joyful – and the Vita so otherwise bereft of platforming action – that it’s pretty much impossible to resist, even a second time around. The lack of co-op is a massive disappointment but Origins works just fine as a single-player experience, and with the exception of the title that made it to number two on this list, it’s the best looking game on the system so far. And if you happened to miss the PS3/360/Wii iterations last year, there’s no good excuse not to get stuck in now.
8. Modnation Racers: Road Trip
SEGA’s majestic Yakuza series aside, Modnation Racers probably remains the Playstation 3’s most unjustly ignored exclusive. The Vita’s Road Trip doesn’t match its big brother in terms of overall quality – loading times are generally lengthy, there’s no online multiplayer to speak of and the frame-rate can get choppy later on – but building courses with the new touch-screen controls is an absolute joy and the single-player campaign is surprisingly gripping, with smartly designed courses, unpredictable AI and uber-tight controls. Road Trip 2 may yet set the world alight, but as a substitute for Nintendo’s you-know-what, this is more than enough to be getting along with.
8. Everybody’s Golf
Everybody’s Golf has always been compulsive, easy to grasp and unusually complex beneath the bonnet… and the Vita version doesn’t buck the trend. It doesn’t have much time for the console’s unique features which is totally bizarre – if ever a game could benefit from touch and tilt based control, it’s a golf game – but the formula is as formidable as ever, and there’s an exceptionally generous amount of content included. The tournament-based online multiplayer is a blast despite the lengthy loading times, and the campaign gets deeply challenging later on; like any decent golf game should.
7. Super Stardust Delta
Super Stardust HD was an endearing and effective PS3 shooter that always stood in the shadow of the 360’s superior Geometry Wars… but the franchise appears to have just found its natural home. In addition to the impressive selection of unlockable mini-games – all of which successfully utilise the Vita’s most unique features – Delta is generally just prettier, more challenging and more thoughtfully designed than its predecessor. If you’re a sucker for twin-stick shooters, strive to meet handheld gaming’s first as soon as possible.
6. Virtua Tennis 4: On Tour
Another port, but a singular and compelling one all the same. That bizarre boardgame-style campaign remains as much fun as it did on home consoles last year, and whilst this package is essentially the same as the previous one – slick visuals included – the Vita version uses some of the platform’s coolest features to enjoyable effect. You can add your own face to an avatar, friends and “Near” buddies appear on your Exhibition circuit, and an amusing VR feature allows you to take a snaps alongside your favourite pro. The touch controls aren’t perfect, but when SEGA are on the ball with it, vanilla Virtua Tennis is always difficult to find fault with.
5. Wipeout 2048
Wipeout 2048’s tilt-based control scheme may be the work of someone who should probably be kept well away from tapered cutlery, but everything else about this package is predictably rock solid. It’s an instalment that’s much more combat-heavy overall, with tracks that have been designed specifically to accommodate multiple warring players ably… and the cross-platform play works like an absolute dream. If you’re suffering from franchise fatigue, 2048 won’t cure it; it’s yet another series entry that mercilessly plays to its own strengths, and is happy with being nothing more than a fantastically well-crafted Wipeout game. Aren’t they all?
4. FIFA Football
After Konami launched their (stellar) 3D iteration of Pro Evo along with the Nintendo 3DS last year, and chose to gift it with no online support at all, hopes probably weren’t massively high for EA to push the boat out with FIFA Football on the Vita… but that’s exactly what they’ve done: this is the best handheld football game of all time. It’s online-ready, cribs some of the best campaign features from its elder bro and has the coolest shooting mechanic of any football game, ever. If you’ve got large hands this bit might occasionally prove problematic – it uses the unit’s rear touch screen, and you have to lay off it completely until you’re goal-ward bound – but successfully using it to score an absolute peach is satisfying to the power of eleven.
3. Motorstorm RC
An absolute knockout in terms of value and sheer functionality, Motorstorm RC is more-or-less essential. There’s no conventional multiplayer component but the online leaderboard support – which includes SSX-style updates when friends trash your scores – is exemplary. And if you’re into showboating, the game’s superb Drift mode will probably become an obsession in a matter of seconds. Graphically it’s nothing elaborate but the consequent lack of technical hitches and loading times make for the most fluid and stress-free Vita experience of all. And if you’ve ever been a fan of a Micro Machines game or fell for the charms of that tremendous PS2/Xbox racer Mashed, you’ll be in hog heaven here.
2. Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Nathan Drake is currently in danger of becoming Sony’s very own Super Mario, but that’s primarily because he has only ever appeared in thoroughbred AAA software… and Golden Abyss is no exception. Eschewing a bitty structure in favour of an unyielding save system and with visuals capable of making anyone’s jaw drop, it’s as glossy and throat-grabbingly playable as its PS3 brethren. The story is unmemorable and the touch-screen swipe commands – during action sequences anyway – should have been canned, but the brilliant tilt-based actions become habitual almost straight away. If you own or are planning to own a Vita, this is a real no-brainer.
1. Lumines: Electronic Symphony
The original Lumines was the undisputed star of the Playstation Portable’s launch line-up back in 2005, and Q Entertainment have effortlessly pulled the same stunt once again. An enchanting and gripping puzzler – much improved by the addition of high quality headphones – featuring sumptuous audio/visual presentation and a very neat new levelling system, it’s the most elegant and oddly affecting Lumines title to date. The optional touch-screen controls are an afterthought (swerve them) and using the rear screen to maximise the impact of your special powers isn’t as intuitive as it should be, but those microscopic quibbles aside…. Enjoy.
Sony’s Playstation Vita console is out now. To visit our dedicated PS Vita store, click here.
Watch the trailer for Lumines: Electronic Symphony below: