Unconventional Games of the Year Choice #3 – 6: The Vita Is Full of Life After All.

Some people think the PlayStation Vita is dead in the water. I’m not one of those people for a few darn good reasons, number one being I actually OWN one and aren’t some overpaid analyst or internet troll with a grudge. Although the few titles listed below are only a tiny slice of what I played during this year, they’re all highly recommended because they managed to pack a load of fun into that system while being completely different game experiences.

 
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable was the first “big” game of 2013 for me and Japanese developer Sandlot didn’t disappoint in bringing an enhanced “port” of their former Xbox 360 exclusive to Sony’s handheld in fine form indeed. You’re not buying an EDF game for the best visuals nor a deep and engaging story at all, folks. But if you’re a fan of 1950’s giant insect and Japanese sci-fi flicks, the mash-up here is relentless and supremely entertaining. That and the game can take weeks or months to complete if you decide to go it solo like a true EDF maniac and play through all the different difficulty levels while trying to get every single weapon and trophy you can. Toss in Pale Wing from EDF2 (she changes the gameplay up drastically and is a blast to play around with) and the ability to play with like-minded EDF mates in co-op (which makes the tougher difficulty levels much more bearable if you’re fighting for all the Trophies) and you get a fun little evergreen that’s addictive and makes you want more. Thankfully, Sandlot’s newest EDF game is headed to the PS3 and Xbox 360 in February here in North America and it’s packed full of all-new content and even tougher enemies to defeat.

 
If you like things grimmer yet still action-heavy, Soul Sacrifice is not only right up your alley, it’s calling out to you and drifting onto your Vita before you even realize it. Given that Sony very wisely released a lengthy demo that allows your save file to be transferred into the full version, this ends up as one of those games where you’ll try before buying and end up happier because of it. Between the dark, disturbing storyline and the combat-packed gameplay where dispatching or saving enemy souls changes up the game considerably, there’s a solid sense of progress felt as you clear each chapter and gain some formidable powers. While you can (and should) clear the game solo, a solid co-op mode insures this one will be played about as much or more with a few friends. There’s already a sequel coming to Japan and it’s bound to land here as well (most likely sometime in 2014), but it would be even better to have this as a PS4 (and PS3) game for those of us who like our games on larger screens…

 
Tearaway caught me way off guard because I hadn’t been following it at all until I saw screens and a fantastic gamplay movie sometime after E3. Media Molecule’s quirky art style gets a flat paper makeover and as a Vita exclusive, the use of both touch screens is superb and yes, better implemented than anything on the 3DS as far as input goes (Although you DO need to watch your fingers when that bottom screen poking action is in play). The game is part adventure, part platformer, and all extremely wonderful to sit down with for a spell. Watching someone watch someone play this game is also great, as non-gamers tend to be more amazed at what we take for granted and yep, they’ll want to try this one out after about a minute or two of watching you getting tap-happy. Between the main game and the incredible chunk of freedom you have in customization, this in one of those titles you’ll probably go back to many times after you’ve completed it…

 
I really wanted to play Ruin ever since I saw the demo at a Sony press event waaaaay back before the Vita launched, but it seems that the cross-platform PS3/Vita action RPG is either dead in the water or still in development hell. It’s too bad about that game, but Doki Doki Universe, while not a substitute at all, manages to be the first Vita/PS3/PS4 cross platform experience available and it’s a non-stop charmingly goofy one at that. You’re a robot that was abandoned on a tiny asteroid with a red balloon and after being picked up by a UFO, it’s up to you to explore a bunch of different worlds in order to discover what humanity means as you help a bunch of folks with assorted problems. It’s basically Toe Jam & Earl as a side-scroller (one of the guys who created that Sega Genesis classic worked on this new one), a ton of stuff to collect and optional facebook mail integration that’s great for those of you social butterflies that LOVE to share all sorts of stuff. The whimsical art style recalls a child’s drawings come to life and won’t make you think of the power of any system running it at all. Nevertheless, the game hooks you in from the beginning and keeps you playing perhaps a bit longer than you thought you would (which is always a good thing)…

Honorable Mentions (and then some!): Killzone: Mercenary, Ys: Memories of Celceta, Valhalla Knights 3, Terraria, The Pinball Arcade.

2 thoughts on “Unconventional Games of the Year Choice #3 – 6: The Vita Is Full of Life After All.

  1. I dusted off my Vita to play Xenogears again, but have my eyes on a few of these titles once I have some cash. Tearaway is priority, though, since the girlfriend wants to play it too. but I really want Soul Sacrifice.

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    • Definitely grab the demos of Soul Sacrifice and Tearaway then. Both are pretty long for demos and SS lets you save progress to transfer to the main game when you finally pick it up. I think you’d like Tearaway as well, as it’s just plain fun to play even if you don’t like the cuteness factor (which is off the charts)…

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