Vita means Life
-every Vita fan, always.
We are now in the final week of June and our Console Challenge countdown of craziness is about to reach its ultimate and irresistible culmination! The editor side of me is breathing a preliminary sigh of relief whilst the reader in me is facing an impending date of disappointment. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through these top 7’s and I hope you have too.
Today, I am positively enthused to re-present to the world the Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage who has been on holiday for a bit of time but whose fingerprint is literally everywhere you look. That’s right, the OCN Mage, whose secret identity is Geddy of @nostalgiatriggr and nostalgiatrigger.com, was crucial in TWRM surviving the crisis that occurred here not long ago when our WordPress theme got screwed up! Geddy swooped in, like so many seagulls, and snatched the opportunity to be of assistance from my clumsy little child-like hand. He helped us with some custom coding to get TWRM the look it is emblazoned with to this very day, and that blew my mind that he would go so far to help us out. Charity like that isn’t forgotten, and also that’s the best thing about putting together a team: everyone can bring their own specialties to the table.
Forever a mage (and more importantly forever in my well-red heart), here’s Geddy with his nostalgia-triggering list of the top 7 best games for the PlayStation Vita!
-The Well-Red Mage
If you were to ask a close friend of yours, “Hello friend, can you tell me your favorite things about the PlayStation Vita?” they might answer back, “the PlayStation Vita, what’s that?”
Now at this point, you probably just woke up in cold sweat even dreaming about this nightmarish scenario, because it would obviously mean you need to find a new friend, and the line at the friend store is always unreasonably long and you don’t have the spare time to build another one out of parts from your Spare Friend Parts bin.
Well I’m here to shock you, presumed fan and inhabitant of Vita Island: the PlayStation Vita has a long, checkered history, one that we fans commonly look past. Sadly, no part of the Vita timeline truly enjoyed an appreciation by the mainstream audience.
You’re probably familiar with the Console Challenge, an ongoing daily challenge wherein Mages (And non-mage contributors! -Red) from these parts discuss their favorite seven games from a different console. Well, thank goodness I was among those Magey ranks, because the first draft of the console schedule lacked the PlayStation Vita entirely! Luckily for those of us who remember this incredible system, I was able to strong-arm (ask nicely) the Well-Red Mage himself into being forced to (voluntarily, and in a very supportive manner) add it to the challenge list!
While sad but true, an expensive buy-in cost of the PlayStation Vita paired with overpriced proprietary memory cards did doom the console from the start. But, there were and still are terrific games being released for the console, and a lot of them exclusives! While I only have been into the Vita scene for about three years, I have put together what I consider to be the highlights of the system. Seasoned Vita fans may notice the absence of some heavy-hitters on the console, but then isn’t that the point of an opinion-piece in the first place?
Most of these games are still easily obtainable too, either digitally or physically for dirt cheap. So let’s talk best PlayStation Vita games, through the eyes of yours truly!
#7. Dragon’s Crown
This was the first game I picked up on the console, as I was intrigued by the artwork alone. What do you get when you combine a 2D brawler with a Diablo-style loot system? Evidently, Dragon’s Crown. The over-the-top disproportioned character designs paired with frantic battles and boss fights get the blood pumping. The frenzy of online multiplayer makes Dragon’s Crown one to revisit time and time again, changing characters and thus fighting styles in the process. The online scene is even still active, albeit trickling down, but the updated version Dragon’s Crown Pro is currently the place to be if you’re an owner of a PlayStation 4.
Do you like hectic Tetris-like puzzlers? Do you like electronic music? Look no further than Lumines! While other iterations of the game are available on other consoles, it’s right at home on the Vita. A seemingly simple Tetris-clone at first, it suddenly becomes evident as the BPM increases and the rows of blocks stack up that a strategy must be developed, and fast. The first time playing this game, I got so caught up in the well-mixed soundtrack and the strobe lights that over an hour passed on a single play. My body felt like it had just been at a rave. Play it in the dark and with noise-canceling headphones for the ultimate experience!
#5. Hatsune Miku – Project Diva F 2nd
Sticking to the rhythm game genre, we have what was one of my top games I played in 2017 – Hatsune Miku – Project Diva F 2nd! Whew, what a mouthful, that title.
It’s not unlike any other rhythm games out there as far as controls go (although there is no required touch-screen use which was important to me), but where HMPDF2 (jeez!) goes above and beyond is in the polish. You play through songs on four difficulties, each one playing out as an actual concert mixed with a psychedelic music video, aiming for high scores, and unlocking costumes and items that you can use to decorate the rooms of all your Divas. This adds a surprising amount of content and overall replayability. Now, I don’t consider myself a fan of anime or J-Pop necessarily, or, at least I didn’t before playing this game. But it sucked me in and kept me at it for almost 30 combined hours before I decided to call it quits. If you need any convincing to jump into the mania of a Hatsune Miku game, watch a gameplay video.
#4. Ys: Memories of Celceta
I picked this up at complete random on an Amazon sale. Maybe it was ad tracking, or someone is spying on me, but about two months before I got a Vita, I found this on my recommended list for $8, and I picked it up. To this day, I don’t know why I did, but I’m glad it worked out that way. Ys: Memories in Celceta is what made me a huge fan of the Ys franchise, which truth be told does not get a lot of exposure in the West.
What separates Ys: Memories of Celceta from other games in the action-RPG genre is that it takes your typical ARPG elements – beating up bad guys, fighting bosses, and finding treasures – and dials the speed and adrenaline up to a thousand. This is a fast-paced action-packed title that will keep you playing for hours! You assume the role of several different characters who can be swapped out, all with differing attack styles and specials.
Worth noting is that the story is fairly light, as is the case with most Ys entries, leaving you playing the game and annihilating bosses and creatures, all while uncovering the Great Forest of Celceta.
While not a console exclusive by any means, the Vita version of LittleBigPlanet was an adorable foray into the 2D puzzle platformer genre that kept me interested from start to finish. Sporting a gorgeous pseudo-realistic appearance, unlockable mini-games, and even the ability to play co-op multiplayer, controlling your little Sackboy through each world is both satisfying and engaging. It uses many of the features unique to the Vita in ways that make sense and aren’t forced. In fact, in this sense, it has a lot with the next entry on my list…
Tearaway is one of those exclusives that demonstrates every unique feature of a console, yet it manages to do so without using said features as a crutch or at any point jeopardizing the fun factor. The simple “paper-based” environment is interacted with using both the front and rear touch-screen while you guide “the You” character through gorgeous worlds of 3D platforming and puzzle adventure. This is the kind of game that you finish and are truly sad that it’s time to move on.
#1. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
What’s this!? Another Ys game on a top 7 list!? I know, I know, but hear me out. Ys VIII, somehow, was able to do everything that Memories of Celceta did, but even better. Personally, I felt it fair to include both, as the overall feeling while playing each game is entirely different. While Memories of Celceta focused on the gameplay first and foremost, Ys VIII has story-telling as its focal point. In my opinion, Ys VIII can be viewed as an evolution of the franchise, as the heartfelt story full of twists and turns suck you in and build an emotional investment. With similar (yet, improved!) fighting mechanics, challenging bosses, gorgeous environments, beautiful cutscenes, and no shortage of heart-pumping music to keep your blood pressure elevated, all of the characters you meet and places you will visit in Ys VIII will stick with you long after you’ve finished it.
It’s a masterpiece of Nihon Falcom and one of my favorite games of all time, on any system. If I can get you to check out anything today, it’s this game.
Word even has it that it’s releasing for the Nintendo Switch… on June 26th, 2018. Hey wait a minute, isn’t that today!?
The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage loves video games, getting nostalgic for the 90s, and his beautiful wife who may or may not be standing right behind him. You can read more words written by him over at his blog Nostalgia Trigger.