The PS5 is going strong, but the same can't be said for other Sony products. As rumors have heavily hinted that both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita digital storefronts will be closing in the coming months, it has raised many questions about the viability of an all-digital future, and what this means for games conservation. While that is a discussion that will no doubt be argued about passionately over the next few years, we have to look at what the current situation is in front of us. Things look dire, especially if you are a PlayStation Vita fan like myself. With no digital storefront, many Vita games had limited physical copies which means that the prices will skyrocket massively in the coming months.
This means if you're a Vita owner your best option is to load up on the PlayStation Vita games that you have not yet been able to experience or purchase. Even though the store will be closing, digital copies will still be able to be downloaded to the Vita via your PlayStation account. While Vita support has been lackluster for many years, there is still a wealth of games that you should experience on the handheld. Here is a list of some of my favorite experiences on the handheld.
Killzone remains one of my favorite PlayStation franchises alongside Resistance. Unfortunately, the only thing these two franchises seem to have in common is that Sony has completely left them behind. Putting these feelings aside, one of the first games you should experience on PlayStation Vita is Killzone Mercenary. While Killzone: Shadow Fall did a lot of damage to the franchise's reputation when it launched on PS4, Killzone Mercenary is a hidden gem that many missed because of it being exclusive to the Vita, but it was by far one of the best games on the platform.
The game canonically takes place between Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 and packs an exciting FPS campaign that rivals Killzone 2. The game's controls are tight, and honestly, FPS gaming has never felt this good on a handheld. Even to this day, Killzone Mercenary stands a head above many other handheld FPS titles. With its responsive controls and buttery smooth performance, it makes you almost forget you are playing a portable console. In addition to the single-player campaign, the multiplayer was incredible for its time. When it comes to handheld consoles outside of Pokémon we often did not consider multiplayer as part of the equation. This was just another way that Killzone Mercenary stood up above the rest, as it had a multiplayer packed with a variety of modes and maps that put many modern multiplayer games to shame.
Killzone Mercenary was ultimately one of the PlayStation's best arguments for the viability of the Vita, and it remains one of the must-play titles on the handheld. Whether you are a fan of the Killzone franchise or not, the intuitive FPS action is too addictive to miss.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
The words underrated and Uncharted are often not spoken in the same sentence. Uncharted: Golden Abyss is an absolute must-play for every fan of the franchise just for how the story ties into the mainline games. Golden Abyss acts as a prequel to Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, which was the first installment in the franchise. It gives players a look at a much younger Nate and provides a great narrative backstory to him.
Alongside Golden Abyss being an interesting narrative setup, the game is an excellent action-adventure game. While it was a launch title for the Vita, Sony Bend did a fantastic job bringing the world of Uncharted to handheld. All the essential aspects of what we came to expect from Naughty Dog's franchise were there, from the action-packed gunplay to the Indiana Jones-styled adventuring across a variety of tombs and landscapes. It truly feels like a proper mainline Uncharted title, and the introduction of motion controls to the aiming and shooting was impressive. It made the Vita feel like an absolute game-changer when it was released back in 2012 in North America.
If you are a fan of Uncharted, then Golden Abyss is an absolute must-buy, as it feels like an essential part of the Uncharted franchise.
Persona 4: Golden
While many people's first experience with the Persona franchise was Persona 5 on the PS4, Persona 4 Golden is well worth investing time and money into picking up. Whether you are a long-time fan of the series or curious about the franchise, Persona 4: Golden finds a perfect balance for both. The game can certainly be challenging in terms of the time investment, though, because like many JRPG's, Persona 4 is a long game with over a 100-hour run time. However, with a wide variety of difficulty modes as well as multiple endings, it is hard to resist booting up a brand new playthrough after finishing your last.
While Persona 4: Golden is available on Steam, as it released on PC late last year, I would still highly recommend picking up this game on the Vita. The portability of being able to play the game while on the move certainly helps you get through the almost 100-hour story much quicker. If you are a JRPG fan, then you should certainly check out Persona 4: Golden.
Tearaway is an artistic and simple platformer from the British development studio Media Molecule. While many will likely know Media Molecule for their work on the Little Big Planet franchise or Dreams on PS4, Tearaway was a unique experience on the Vita that, very much like their previous games, pushed the boundaries in some very unique ways. Tearaway was one of the few Vita titles that used almost every aspect of tech contained within the handheld. It was essentially the Astro's Playroom for the Vita. Unfortunately, it wasn't packed in with the handheld.
Tearaway, like many of Media Molecules' other games, takes a large amount of risk while still packaging it in an adorable and fun experience. The platforming isn't necessarily challenging but, combined with the papercraft art style the charm of the game is through the roof. It's a fun and peaceful adventure that captures you in with a weird and fantastical story. You can see a lot of the early ideas of Dreams within Tearaway, with the customizability of the character you play. With a wide variety of different papercraft-styled cosmetics which you cut out and craft yourself, it makes the game feel very personal and fun. My daughter had a blast playing and exploring Tearaway because it plays into the childlike wonder of imagination.
Tearaway is an interesting and compelling small title that gives players a glimpse into some of the creativity that we saw from Dreams. A must-buy title, if you enjoy smaller Indie styled games.
Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time
Sly Cooper is perhaps one of my favorite PlayStation IPs from when I was younger, and Sly 2: Band of Thieves is possibly one of my all-time favorite PlayStation 2 titles. This is why to round out a list of must-play Vita titles, it feels like it would be a crime to exclude Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. This was the last installment in the franchise, and the worst part is that it was far from a bad game. While many franchises get shelved due to declining sales and negative reviews, Sly Cooper went out on the same high it entered on.
Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time has all the makings of a classic Sly game, from the amazing cast as well as weird and wacky levels. I cannot stress enough that Sly is not at all a serious game, nor does it necessarily make sense even within its context. But it is classic Sly action, and the game perfectly blends platforming stealth-based action beautifully with the natural humor portrayed by Sly and his crew of misfits. It's hard not to get nostalgic while playing it. Franchises like Sly Cooper have fallen to the wayside, so being able to play the last installment in the Sly series feels like a part of PlayStations history. Honestly, it should be played regardless if you have nostalgia for the little raccoon and his friends or not.
Vita meant life
While the Vita was undoubtedly a missed opportunity by PlayStation at the time, it still had some amazing games. If PlayStation is truly shutting down the store functionality on the Vita and PS3 this year, here's hoping that it will do some sort of PS Plus bonus and give away a bunch of these fantastic titles to the remaining Vita owners. But as the legacy of the Vita slowly winds to a close, I will always have fond memories of the handheld. With the rise of mobile and cloud streaming of the best games on PS5, we will likely never see an official PlayStation handheld again. The times are certainly changing.
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