I had to pick between two different games to put in this list because they're both so similar when you bore right down to the basics. And with the name DJMax having a wider appeal than the name Cytus, I feel that Cytus needs to take this spot.
Cytus is a rhythm game where a line scrolls up and down the screen, and when it crosses over bubbles you tap them to pop them and get a score. There are over 80 songs in Cytus Lambda right now (including 10 exclusive to this version you can't find in the iOS or Android versions) and it comes at a cost of $12.99.
The entire game has a kickass Japanese soundtrack and for over 80 songs that have two different note sheet variations each, and even hidden ones to find yourself, there's no denying it can stick around on your Vita for a while. The note patterns get extremely frantic and touching the screen like a madman hearing the noise of something like Shoot Out while you're doing it is an absolute blast to anyone who enjoys rhythm games. And there's even a free 10-song demo to try out for yourself!
Unfortunately, that makes me come to why I feel the game is underrated - it's a PS Mobile title, so most Europeans miss out on it, and some other regions do as well. But if you're in one of the few regions that CAN get Cytus Lambda, then tap that PS Mobile button at the top of your store and get down to some funky tunes. You might just fall in love.
There are two different things that are guaranteed to be loved in this life, and that's money and ninjas. Everybody loves ninjas, and Shinobido 2 is a game of ninjas.
A launch title on the Vita, Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen was made by the developers of the original Tenchu games on the PlayStation, Acquire. You play Zen, a ninja who's objective is to prevent an evil force from taking over the world while answering questions about their own cloudy past.
You get a ton of tricks to help you survive the ten or so types or procedurally generated missions - you can brew your own tools like lures, landmines, spheres (which act almost like grenades), drinks to improve yourself or confuse the enemy, or you can get head-to-head in direct combat (but you're extremely weak, so this is never encouraged). Complete the objective and influence the battle between three rival factions, in your attempt to find information on the ancient Tenma mirrors.
I love this game! Building your own tools and engaging enemies from far away or up close is always fun to do - especially when you have six enemies guarding a package that you need to get at - throw a bunch of smoke and confusion grenades to confuse the enemy, jump in from twenty feet away, assassinate a couple of enemies and throw the rest off a nearby cliff face. It's a ton of fun to do once you get it right.
Unfortunately, it's relatively easy to get it wrong. The controls aren't very precise in some situations, and once you actually get spotted, getting into face-to-face combat is not very good at all. Trying to actively fight once you've been spotted will just get you killed, especially on Hard - rely on assassinations (or extremely strong explosives) or you WILL die. But some will consider this a challenge, and those of you who want a ninja game with decent to insane challenge, here's your chance.
Starship Troopers from Japan, in the form of a video game.
Earth Defense Force 2017 was originally released on the Xbox 360, but with this enhanced port to the Vita, they've added new stages, and included the Pale Wing from Earth Defense Force 2 (also known as Global Defence Force in Europe).
You play a singular trooper against waves of giant ants, spiders, robots and spaceships, with nothing but a tiny assault rifle and infinite ammo. But as levels go on and you pick up armor and weapons pickups, you effectively become a one man army with massive rocket launchers, shotguns, all matter of different weaponry amongst a destructible set of buildings, forests and eventually bare areas as the situation gets worse and worse. Next to you is mission control and fellow marines with narm charm up where the sun don't shine.
And it's awesome. Running and dodging dozens of giant bugs throwing acid at you, running in vehicles looking for supplies, facing ten story tall robots aiming two explosive cannons dead at your face, taking it all up to 11 when you unlock the jetpack wielding Pale Wing, and especially including three other friends along with you to do this (the first Earth Defense Force game ever to do this, before Earth Defense Force 2025, releasing next year!) is just an experience one doesn't forget very quickly.
Unfortunately it's just not for everyone. The barebones gameplay + long playtimes isn't for everyone, and it does take a long time to finish the game - if you don't do the game in the right difficulty order (Normal - Hard - Hardest - Inferno) you will run into a brick wall. But this is still something anyone who loves arcade shooters, living your Starship Troopers fantasies, or anyone who loves a good time with online co-op. Get on the battlefield, Ranger!
If you look at the two main characters after they die, the number on their chests go higher.
Released right after launch on the Vita, Escape Plan has you controlling Lil and Laarg through a series of deadly traps set up by a megalomaniac prison master. Using both screens on the Vita and the motion sensor function, you control them carefully through these intricate puzzles, defeating enemies and figuring out some really twisting mindbenders.
The style is a very lovely to look at noir style, with a good set of black and white colors permeating the world, with everything you need to see being nice and visible. Plenty of lovely touches are across the whole game, making it feel like a living, yet somewhat gleamy and glossy world, even though your characters can simply explode like a filled water below at the slightest touch.
I think this game was kind of underappreciated, especially when the game first launched - a lot of people reported some fairly severe control issues. It took a little while for the developers to fixed them, but they went completely overboard in the best possible way - in the months that followed, they released a ton of free DLC, offering some paid DLC for free for a limited time, and some actual paid DLC as well, really extending the life of the game. You should really take a look!
*unce unce unce BOOT* *unce unce unce BOOT*
KickBeat was released on the Vita by Zen Pinball developers Zen Studios a couple of months ago. You play a ninja in an impressive technicolor landscape, with enemy ninjas slowly descending around you to heavy music. Deliver a swift kick to the face on the beat to score combos, powerups and points. Extend your experience with the ability to import your own MP3s from your memory card and create your own beats to kick with.
And it's a ton of fun too. The backdrops are really colorful, the ninjas are smooth and some of the soundtrack they have for the game is great - from well known names like Celldweller's Switchback all the way to a Chinese song that, if you search for the name for the song, you mostly get results from a single trailer for this game with the song throughout it. And being able to extend your library adds almost infinite replayability.
The game isn't without it's issues though, admittedly. The music library in the game is actually relatively short, with only 18 tracks coming with your purchase, relying on user extension of the soundtrack. That, and there will probably be no DLC due to the game not selling well. Also of note is that, the moment you ascend from the average difficulty, you lose any sort of prompts, which makes the game pretty difficult unless you're pretty damn good at rhythm games. But still something you should look at if you can enjoy rhythm games with a slight twist on them.
Sonic saying "Eat my dust" is as cliche, and yet justified, as it can possibly get.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a port of the similarly named game available on almost any other platform. It's Mario Kart, Sega style - a ton of wacky courses that fall apart every lap to give a unique experience in every race, dozens of Sonic and Sega franchises represented via characters and said tracks, and transformations between hovercraft, planes and cars through every stage of a race keeps the action on a head.
And here's the thing - Sumo Digital did one of the best console ports of a game to the Vita to DATE. Every course, character and vehicle is represented in full detail, the game's controls are perfectly tight, the loading times are suitably low...there's not a single compromise made here, like, at all. And that's amazing.
The main problem this game suffers though is that there's not much of an online scene anymore. A kart racer lives and dies by it's multiplayer scene, and it's a ton of fun online, but there's barely anyone racing (and literally no-one in the battle modes, the one part of the game that doesn't have any AI available). So how about we all try to populate the best Mario Kart competitor available on a portable platform?
Around when this game launched I managed to top the leaderboards for Washington D.C. And some kid send me a message that ended with, and I quote, "and im prety smart". That's no joke, I swear.
Smart As is the Vita's answer to Brain Training. Every day, you can get your Brain Score by playing a series of 4 mind mashing games in logic, arithmetic, language and observation. Your performance is added up to an overall score afterwards, and you can even get custom challenges based on your current location, or high scores of locations around the world.
And it's compelling! Constantly improving your score through these progressively more difficult games can keep you coming back, and comparing yourself with people around the world. And even better, John Cleese, that famous British man from Monty Python and the hilarious Fawlty Towers, voices the narrator. You can't get a much better voiceover than him.
Unfortunately, there's just not much else to the game - the daily training and free play is the most you'll get out of actual gameplay, and they won't keep you entertained if you try to slam them. But if you just relax, play it for ten minutes or so a day, then put it down, then you'll enjoy yourself and maybe even improve your brain power.
My high score on Medieval Madness is 59,221,690. Beat my score!
The Pinball Arcade is one of two choices you get on the PS Vita if you want pinball simulation, and the one I feel is the most overshadowed by it's competitor, Zen Pinball. Pinball Arcade is a labor of love to the physical pinball machine, with detailed recreations of pinball tables from the 80s and 90s - everything from obscure (Black Hole) to extremely popular (Star Trek).
And the game plays spectacularly. The physics feel AMAZING underneath your fingers, the ball rolls with a satisfying roll and the flippers / bumpers reflect in such a way that it just feels amazing to play. And it's complemented by some of the best pinball tables in existence - Medieval Madness, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Big Shot, Tales of the Arabian Nights. In my honest opinion, the styles and themes of the Pinball Arcade beat an equivalent table in Zen Pinball in almost every occasion. The library of recreations in this game is amazing and there's promises to keep releasing, even with a enormous 35 tables available right now.
The downsides come with the price and the schedule - buying all the tables in this game is extremely expensive, with $60 being the full cost of every table available (minus Pro Packs and a couple more tables still to come at the time of writing). While you can pick and choose, it costs significantly more if you eventually decide to buy every table. That, and the schedule manages to fall behind a lot - at the time of writing the Vita is two table packs behind the other platforms, with not many details on when they're coming as of yet. However, there's still an amazing set of three dozen tables here that you should look at immediately.
Rest in peace, Zipper Interactive.
Unit 13 is the final game from Zipper, the original creators of the lovely SOCOM series. You're a member of an elite force who's sent in solo on four types of missions, gaining points by playing to your character's playstyle (the explosives man will get more points for taking out tripmines) and general performance (speed, headshots, stealth). The more points you get, the more stars you get to unlock boss fights, and the higher you get on the leaderboards.
And the game plays really well! Being the first real third person shooter on the Vita, the twin sticks lend themselves lovely to the Vita, with cover and shooting working exactly as you'd expect. High score attacking is great, and you can play dynamic missions for every character as well, to give more content for you to play. You can even change your soldier's loadout to play to more your style - want to move sneaky with smoke grenades or go loud and dumb with a shotgun and frags, you can do either.
The downsides come in the form of the game only having co-op multiplayer for two players to attempt a high score, which is a shame because this game would work really well with multiplayer. And the game is kinda glitchy, not game breakingly glitchy but it's still got some problems, especially in co-op. But if you're a fan of any kind of score attacking, playing Unit 13 should be on your list immediately.
This game will likely remain in my top 10 games of all time. (Yes, I did give it a 10/10 review on this very site.)
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward is a sequel to the niche Nintendo DS game 999. It's a visual novel that is like combining the Saw series with a helping of science fiction. You and nine characters are trapped in a mysterious facility with a bunny telling you you're going to die if you don't play his sick, prisoners dilemma game. But there's so much more under the surface to the point where the entire game is one giant mind screw.
But WHAT a mind screw it is. One of the true games that manages to merge the idea of having multiple timelines into a storyline. You can care about any of the characters you're trapped with. Careful foreshadowing prevents you from being too screwed up once you're done. Voice acting and graphical presentation that have nearly no flaws. Very well designed puzzles that have no red herrings, no dead ends and you can drop out anywhere if you need a break. And a story that has a ton of twists, turns, and is extremely compelling to the point where you will lose sleep until the tale is done. And enough callbacks to satisfy, satiate and outright explode the brains of people who've played the original. And the Vita version benefits over the 3DS version, with less bugs, a higher quality presentation and slightly easier controls.
You're required to play 999 if you want to get the best experience out of VLR. It's not for people who hate long cutscenes or puzzle gameplay. But for EVERYONE else, you need to get into this series immediately. The most compelling visual novel I have ever played, and it should be so much more appreciated than it is today.
And that's it. Ten experiences that I personally think are worthy additions to the PlayStation Vita owner's library, and hopefully ten games that get a ton more exposure and hope that the Vita gains more credit for having an amazing library in both the foreground and background of the gaming world. If you haven't gotten a Vita yet, you really should - it's worth it.
List by bluemaximax011 (10/28/2013)
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