- Sony discontinued production of the PlayStation Vita in March 2019, bringing the lifespan of this portable video game console to a close.
- Released worldwide in February 2012, the Vita was the successor to the PlayStation Portable, but failed to find a wide audience as smartphones grew more popular.
- Though it wasn’t as successful as Sony had hoped, the PlayStation Vita had its fair share of classic games, and helped a number of indie games make their way into the spotlight.
The era of the PlayStation Vita has come to a close with Sony’s decision to discontinue the console earlier this month.
First released in early 2012, the portable video game console never really found a wide audience, but it was a respectable upgrade to Sony’s PlayStation Portable and offered a handful of exclusive titles that were well worth the investment.
The PlayStation Vita’s most impressive features included an OLED touch screen, 3G cellular internet, Bluetooth, dual analogue sticks, and remote play for PlayStation 3 and 4 games. However, as smartphone technology began to develop more rapidly, the Vita became less compelling as a multimedia device. Happily, the Vita’s legacy can still be defined by the handful of exclusive games released during the console’s seven-year lifespan.
While one of Sony’s main goals with the Vita was to produce experiences that felt like playing on a home console, the Vita produced a number of unique games that were later brought over to more powerful hardware. And as the Vita got older, independent developers began to take advantage of the console’s strong hardware and dedicated player base. For example, PC games like “Stardew Valley” or “Minecraft” that had earned an indie following could be moved to the Vita at low cost, letting players take their favourite games on the go.
The PlayStation Vita may not have been a smash hit, but there were plenty of gems to be found on the handheld if you spent enough time looking.
Here are the best PlayStation Vita games you might have overlooked:
“Uncharted: Golden Abyss” showed off the Vita’s graphical power.
Released as a launch title for the Vita, “Uncharted: Golden Abyss” showed off the console’s hardware with a portable prequel to one of Sony’s flagship PlayStation series.
While “Golden Abyss” was designed by a different team than the main games in the series, it stayed true to form and delivered a satisfying portable adventure. “Golden Abyss” was one of the Vita’s most successful games, giving early adopters a must-play title right out of the gate.
The unique visuals of “Gravity Rush” inspired a sequel for PlayStation 4.
“Gravity Rush” was originally a Vita exclusive, but performed well enough to get a remaster and a sequel on PlayStation 4.
The game lets player manipulate gravity and soar through the air, making interesting use of the Vita’s dual thumbsticks and touchscreen in the process. As the player alters the pull of gravity, the world around them shifts, making for outrageous visuals and funny tricks with physics.
“Velocity 2X” was built for the Vita and has since been released on nearly every video game platform.
“Velocity 2x” is a run-and-gun action game with an emphasis on speed. Following the success of “Velocity” in 2012, Sony signed independent development studio FuturLab to produce more games exclusively for PlayStation Consoles.
The bite-sized levels and simplicity of “Velocity 2x” made it a perfect fit on the Vita when it arrived in 2014. As the years went on the Vita became increasingly popular among indie developers and fans who wanted to take retro-inspired games on the go.
“Murasaki Baby” is a Vita-exclusive indie title with all sorts of style.
“Murasaki Baby” is another indie game developed exclusively for the Vita. The game is a side-scrolling platformer that’s controlled only with the Vita’s touch screen. The player helps guide a small girl through a hand-drawn world filled with odd characters and even more peculiar environments.
The stylised design of “Murasaki Baby” and interesting use of touch controls play to the Vita’s strengths, and show how the console can offer a different kind of gaming experience.
The Vita version of “Tearaway” makes use of the Vita’s camera and touch screen.
“Tearaway” is another stylised PlayStation Vita exclusive that makes interesting use of the Vita’s touch screen and camera. The player aids one of two characters, Iota or Atoi, as they attempt to deliver an important message across their world. The world of “Tearaway” is completely made out of papercraft, and players can interact with it in a variety of ways.
Players can use their fingers to control the game’s environment and help their character progress. They can also draw custom designs and use the Vita camera to scan them into the game.
“Lumines Electronic Symphony” was a genuine sequel to the console versions of “Lumines.”
“Lumines” is a franchise of puzzle games with a format reminiscent of “Tetris.” The Vita version, “Lumines Electronic Symphony,” introduced a new mode called Voyage, that has varying difficulties as the player progresses through the game’s impressive visual narrative. Voyage mode was popular enough to be taken through into “Tetris Effect” in 2018, where it was widely celebrated by players.
“Soul Sacrifice” introduced a growing action adventure franchise.
“Soul Sacrifice,” and its expansion “Soul Sacrifice Delta,” is an action roleplaying series in a similar vein as “Monster Hunter.” Players embark on a quest to defeat an evil sorcerer who uses human sacrifices to stay immortal. A central game mechanic allows players to sacrifice items, teammates or even themselves to cast powerful magic.
“Soul Sacrifice” featured both online and local multiplayer, and players could also make use of a special Vita function to give each other items if they were near another “Soul Sacrifice” player.
Sadly, with the Vita no longer being produced, it’s unlikely that the Sony-exclusive series will make the jump to PS4.
“Unit 13” had a robust offering of online game modes.
“Unit 13” is an impressive squad shooter with online functionality and 3G support for daily updates. While Sony had been successful in bringing other popular shooters to the Vita and PSP, “Unit 13” showed that the Vita could provide a portable online experience that was still comparable to games on home consoles like “Call of Duty.”
“Persona 4: Golden” offered a better version of the game than home consoles.
“Persona 4: Golden” is the best version of the massively popular Japanese roleplaying game. Games in the “Persona” series can take 100 hours or more to complete, so having them available on the go has clear advantages.
While “Persona” is a fan-favourite regardless of the platform, the move to Vita showed that the console had enough strength to provide a better experience than what players were already familiar with on console. Combined with the time consuming nature of Japanese RPGs, “P4: Golden” reflected some of the Vita’s biggest selling points.
“Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines” revitalized a fan favourite series.
“Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines” is a 3D followup to “Ore no Shikabane o Koete Yuke,” a Japanese roleplaying game first released in 1999 and remastered for the PSP in 2011. “Tainted Bloodlines” was developed in response to the remake’s success and incorporated requests from fans.
In the game, players are fighting to lift an ancient curse that follows one family through multiple generations. Players build up a squad of warriors to clear dungeons full of monsters and battle their way closer to the source of the curse.
The enhanced power of the Vita allowed the development team to introduce 3D graphics in “Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines”, and as with “Persona,” the portable nature of the console lends itself to the game’s lengthy playthrough.
In the end, the PlayStation Vita is best remembered for the unique games it helped bring to light.
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