The PlayStation Vita is the $350 handheld that either the world desperately needed or needed not at all. It could go either way in this era of rampant cell phone gaming, where many games are played with nary the press of a button or flick of a stick.
The Vita (reviewed here) gives us a handheld machine with sticks, touch panels, lots of buttons, a fully downloadable game library (optional; you can buy many of the games in physical stores), lots of online features and, oh yeah, graphical horsepower like we’ve never seen before in a gaming handheld.
Cool. So what must you play on this thing? Start with these seven games.
Fat guy. Little guy. Locked in room after room. Tap the front of the Vita to direct them. Tap the back to manipulate the rooms. It’s all in black and white, as if the developers thought this game was so cool it didn’t need colour. How right they are. (This game is download-only.)
A Good Match for: Puzzle game fans.
Not for Those Who Want: Colour. (See: Rayman)
Here’s how it looks in action.
Soccer. Football. Whatever you want to call it. It’s the console-style FIFA game that people love, with the added feature of the best implementation of the Vita’s rear touch panel.
A Good Match for: Sports fans, fans of sports games, whose other options at Vita launch are this, golf (see below) or a forthcoming baseball game.
Not for Those Who Want: Sports games that sync with their home games. This one does not.
Here’s how it looks in action.
Gravity Rush is a delight — an open-world adventure game built around a truly new-feeling mechanic. The protagonist Kat is able to re-orient gravity, letting her fall in any direction. It’s something of a mix between falling and flying, and it makes the game a uniquely disorienting, highly enjoyable experience. Combine those mechanical smarts with a wonderfully imaginative, fun story, lush visuals, gorgeous art design and a dizzy, grand soundtrack and you’ve got a real winner for the PSVita.
A good match for: Crackdown and Infamous fans, people who like their games to look and play differently, jazz-heads.
Not for those who want: familiar mechanics, deep and involved combat.
Here's how it looks in action:[video provider="youtube" id="Ecp-RTtmtX8" size="xlarge" align="center"]
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Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
It's golf with cartoon characters and some of the coolest uses of the Vita as a gyro-enabled camera. Check out this preview we shot.
A Good Match for: People who like golf games, obviously!
Not for Those Who Want: Real golfers and real courses. This isn't crazy Mario Golf fantasy, but it's not Tiger Woods-sim-authentic either.
Here's how it looks in action.[video provider="youtube" id="uKhlNwxl0SE" size="xlarge" align="center"]
[image url="https://img.gawkerassets.com/post/9/2012/02/luminescover.jpg" size="legacy" align="right"]
Lumines: Electronic Symphony
Tetris goes to a rave. That's what this is. This is as much a falling-block puzzle game as it is an interactive electronica concert. Either aspect is cool enough in this game that you can hate the other and still have a pretty good time.
A Good Match for: The legions of people whose good taste caused them to declare the first Lumines as the best launch game for Sony's previous handheld.
Not for Those Who Want: ...their games to be more tough than meditative, who need their game sessions to terminate before they get to their bus stop.
Here's how it looks in action.[video provider="youtube" id="ObwLzE3vtdc" size="xlarge" align="center"]
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Mutant Blob Attacks!
A smart and funny physics puzzler that's packed with interesting ideas. You control a grumpy blob who's gone on a goofy version of a 1950s horror movie rampage. You must navigate through a series of short but jam-packed levels, dodging lasers, rockets and farm animals to survive.
Mutant Blobs Attack is welcomely difficult but never feels punishing about it. It uses the both the Vita's touchscreen and gyroscope effectively, and is consistently impressive in how far it'll push you to creatively use the blob's limited but versatile skill-set. Read our review for a more in-depth look at the game.
A Good Match for: People who like puzzles, zany humour and a bit of a challenge.
Not for Those Who Want: To just relax and coast. This game isn't easy, and in a few places, its difficulty can be frustrating. Also, the humour probably isn't to everyone's taste.
Here's how it looks in action.[video provider="youtube" id="6hjjkiRREsI"]
[image url="https://img.gawkerassets.com/post/9/2012/02/raymanoriginscover.jpg" size="legacy" align="right"]
We loved this cartoony, musically-amazing side-scroller on the PlayStation 3 so of course we love this shot-for-shot port on the Vita. We can take this one with it. And hug it. So maybe we love it even more.
A Good Match for: People who enjoy running from left to right while sometimes hopping, i.e. fans of Super Mario, Sonic and all good side-scrollers. This one is fun and a beauty.
Not for Those Who Want: Black and white. (See: Escape Plan.)
Here's how it looks in action.[video provider="youtube" id="4vKCmeyeD74" size="xlarge" align="center"]
[image url="https://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17e6s3xelwx6cjpg/medium.jpg" size="legacy" align="right"]
Super Stardust Delta
It's a twin-stick arcade shooter. On a portable gaming system. That has twin sticks. This is a descendant of Asteroids, Space Invaders and so many other games that were just about shooting down space enemies to earn a high score. But this one has the visual fireworks to make it one of the most dazzling handheld games ever. (This game is download-only.)
A Good Match for: People with two thumbs.
Not for Those Who Want: ...a storyline, an adventure or anything else you wouldn't expect from an arcade game.
Here's how it looks in action.[video provider="youtube" id="pYql98tL-t4" size="xlarge" align="center"]
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Where Is My Heart
It's not too much of a stretch to say that Where Is My Heart? re-invents almost every convention of the platformer genre. There's still running and jumping in this adventure where a family of three monsters tries to track down their lost home. But those actions happen in a fractured landscape where going right can put you on the top of the screen. WIMH blends the sense of displacement created by its 2D Escher-ism with a clever mechanic that lets you rotate the panelled blocks of the gameworld around an axis. It's funny, intriguing and disorienting all at once, just like life.
A good match for: genealogists. You literally can't get anywhere worthwhile in the game without plopping one monster relative on top of another's head and sometimes, you'll transform a monster or three into a ancestor with special abilities. Danish developer Bernie Schulenburg made a game that serves as touching metaphor for family ties and players will probably think about the loved ones who helped them jump to life's next level as they journey deeper into the experience.
Not for those who want: stomping onto enemies' heads. Where Is My Heart? is gentler than most other Mario-style games and the thrill comes from cracking the environmental puzzles of each level.
Here's how it looks in action:[video provider="vimeo" id="30525241" size="xlarge" align="center"]
[image url="https://img.gawkerassets.com/post/9/2012/02/wipeout2048cover.jpg" size="legacy" align="right"]
Futuristic race car driving, for the umpteenth time. WipEout games are about racing across high tech roadways in a future when tires are retired and it is fair to shoot a missile at your opponents on the track. This launch game gives us online play, blazingly fast racing, and a promised connection to a PlayStation 3 game of the same name, which will enable owners of the portable or console game to race each other.
A Good Match for: Anyone looking for a terrific racing game on the Vita and/or a visual showpiece.
Not for Those Who Want: ...to blink. Or people who want more customisable content (try the Vita's ModNation Racers)
Here's how it looks in action.[video provider="youtube" id="eKVqZsuBMvY" size="xlarge" align="center"]
NOTE: This list will be updated if and when we discover better games. We will only ever list 12 games, at the most. And, in the case of the Vita, we will give this list another pass this week to incorporate some of the best downloadable PSP games