While the PS Vita was a critical success thanks to some innovative design features and future-oriented compatibility with the PS4, it wasn’t the financial blockbuster Sony was hoping for. With 18 million units sold, the PS Vita had an OLED screen long before Nintendo upgraded its Switch console with the better display technology.
With PS Vita’s online store nearly closing this year, another reminder is to grab some titles from this console’s digital market before it’s too late. Sony’s pocket gaming machine had a great selection on offer, and if you’re thinking of what games to grab for a recent retro collection of classics with either of these, our top 10 list of the best PlayStation should be Vita games influence your mind. We have arranged them alphabetically and excluded some of the (admittedly great) collections of Vita from consideration. But yeah, it’s still very cool that Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper and Metal Gear games can be played on the go.
Danganronpa: Triggers Happy Havoc
If you’ve ever thought about wreaking havoc, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a fascinating study of how far some people are willing to go when they reach their limit. The setup itself was simple and relied on The Hunger Games and Battle Royale to establish its core storyline. Trapped in an abandoned building with 15 other students, the only way out of the makeshift prison is to kill another student and avoid being found guilty of the crime.
The game’s intricate plot plays a grave tale of betrayal, guilt, and a deep investigation into the human psyche, mixing quick reflexes with sharp decisions, rhythm games, and trials that reveal shocking truths about the cast. Despite its somber theme, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc still has a surprisingly upbeat tone, relatable characters, and impressive graphics that stand out on the PS Vita.
Read our Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Test.
Gravity Rush breaks the laws of physics with enough ruthless dedication to attract the attention of an Isaac Newton-sponsored police force. The action adventure game from Japan Studio played the players as Kat, a manipulator of the forces of gravity who could fall into enemies by changing the direction of gravity and making herself easily as a feather to get through the skies and streets of Float Hekseville.
Gravity Rush is a killer app on a console that has had no shortage of certified classics over the years. Gravity Rush is a happy celebration of power that still looks great almost a decade later. If you know someone with PS Vita, chances are that this game has a precious place in their collection. A remastered port has been released on PS4, and Gravity Rush 2 is worth playing too.
Read our Gravity Rush review.
Hotline Miami is the perfect one-round game that has skillfully balanced frustratingly challenging levels with the euphoria of a single perfect run. Lo-fi visuals capture the heady lure of ultra-violence and reckless courage necessary to survive each level, with the entire game feeling like a long extension of Tony Montana’s last drug-propelled booth in Scarface, which is set to 11 .
Tirelessly addicting and a real eye-catcher from start to finish. This is a game on the PS Vita where it’s a good idea to make sure your wrist strap is snug so you don’t throw your console through a wall after another failed run.
Read our Hotline Miami review.
Lumines Electronic Symphony
Lumines first appeared on the PlayStation Portable, and by the time it was ready to bring its signature sound-based puzzle gameplay to the PS Vita, it had found a few new tricks along the way. Developer Q Entertainment has once again combined style with the catchiest electronic music in the world while using the PS Vita touchscreen to enhance the original gameplay with tactile enhancements. The new Voyage mode was a challenge that would push any Lumines veteran to the limit, while the ad hoc nature of the multiplayer made for intensely beautiful sessions of addicting audio and visual beauty.
Read our Lumines Electronic Symphony Review.
Persona 4 Golden
The Persona series has long been one of the best JRPG series in gaming, with the recent years seeing the games developed by Atlus, which have grown in popularity thanks to titles like Persona 5 and Persona Strikers, in a new light. Persona 4 Golden still holds a special place in the hearts and minds of fans as this upgraded version of the PS2 gem made a huge difference to the existing mechanics and story, making it the final version of this great adventure.
For many years it was exclusively available on the PS Vita and anyone fortunate enough to have played this masterpiece of flexible battles, challenging dungeons and brilliantly written characters had a well-deserved grin on their faces for a while. When Persona 4: Golden finally hit PC, not only did it become a surprise hit on that platform, but it also changed Sega’s approach to how traditional Atlus games were rolled out around the world. The story of Persona 4 Golden is a thoughtful and compelling mystery that will captivate you. It’s a long RPG of exceptional quality.
Read our Persona 4 Golden review.
DrinkBox Studios made a name for itself on PS Vita with games like Tales from Space and Guacamelee, and Severed was no different. The controls of the game tell the rich story of a young girl who tracks down her missing family by making a bloody path through nightmarish monsters. By swiping the screen, players can perform fatal blows on monsters or tap at the right time to fend off an attack and respond with devastating damage to anything unlucky enough to get in the way of protagonist Sasha’s anger.
Like other games from the developer, Severed looked great, combining his deep finger flexing gameplay with graphics that were clearly appalling. It’s an old school dungeon crawler with modern flourishes.
Read our Severed review.
It wasn’t exclusive to the PS Vita, but Spelunky was best enjoyed on Sony’s handheld system when it was launched in 2013. On the surface, Spelunky is a compelling roguelike that combines platforming with a brutal challenge. It wasn’t uncommon for a typical Spelunky run to last around five minutes before a player made a mistake that sent them back to the beginning of the maze, and for the Vita that makes the game a perfect portable experience with incredible highs and Lows.
The co-op factor is also commendable, as Spelunky’s crossplay functionality expands the game’s core idea and opened the doors to wild and hilarious predicaments. Risk-return dynamics at its best, the best version of Spelunky was what the PS Vita called home when it arrived on this system all those years ago. Spelunky remains one of the best roguelikes ever made after all these years. It’s the kind of experience that can make you fall in love with the genre.
Read our spelunky review.
Not too many games have given players almost unlimited power within their digital worlds, but Tearaway is one of the few exceptions to the rule as players have literally been able to break down the barriers between the virtual and real worlds. While you were still playing as a sentient shell on a mission to reach the sun, you were also the day star at the same time, your face connected to the celestial sphere through the magic of the PS Vita’s front camera.
The wafer-thin building blocks gave way to a traditional 3D platformer with a clever and colorful level design, which felt unique thanks to the maximum use of all technical aspects of the PS Vita. With a distinctly British attitude from Little Big Planet developer Media Molecule, Tearaway is still a unique feat of fantastic puzzles, fun platforms, and a distinctive style of art.
Read our Tearaway review.
Jeff Minters TxK was essentially a reinvention of the Tube Shooter Tempest series, but more importantly, it was the concept that was near perfection as well. The simplicity of TxK, rolling through the infinite expanse of space and destroying everything in your way, looked like a mental trip on the bright screen of the PS Vita, while the soundtrack that came from the speakers was one with the Feet was throbbing collection of tunes that complemented the escalating action in front of you.
A trippy and visually bustling fusion of psychedelic action, TxK was an instant classic when it landed, and legal issues eventually limited its release and led to Tempest 4000.
Read our TxK test.
Zero Escape: Virtue’s Final Reward
Adventure games found a comfortable niche on PS Vita, and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward was a standout example thanks to its combination of devious puzzles, intriguing characters, and a jailbreak theme that required tough decisions. The follow-up to Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors was a compelling mix of visual novel storytelling and puzzle rooms that would leave you scratching your head bloody while looking for a solution, supported by an interface that connects the systems of 999 has improved significantly.
For fans of high quality storytelling, Zero Escape was a benchmark for its genre on PS Vita as it interwoven its science fiction and horror themes into a hidden gem of thrill and chill.
Read our review on Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward.
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