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Best PS Vita games 2018: 12 must-play games for Sony’s under-appreciated handheld

Sony’s discontinued handheld is home to some of the best gaming gems money can buy

The handheld PlayStation Vita was the ill-fated, underappreciated follow-up to the PSP. Released in 2012, the Vita never quite took off in the West – but it’s had a renaissance in recent years, becoming a particular favourite for RPGs and Japanese gaming on the go.

Not every Vita game is a winner, though, and it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s our guide to Vita’s must-play titles, along with some general purchasing tips for eager shoppers.

Buyer’s guide: The best PS Vita games

How much storage space will I need?

Before you start splashing out on new games, you’ll need to think about storage. There’s only one gigabyte of storage built into the PS Vita itself; that’s fine if you’re buying physical game cards, but if you intend to start downloading new titles then you’ll definitely want to invest in a PlayStation Vita Memory Card.

These cards come in sizes ranging from 4GB to 64GB. PlayStation Vita games are normally less than 1GB in size, so if you just want to try out a few new titles then 8GB or 16GB should do you fine. If you plan to suck up the entire breadth of Vita’s library, opt for something larger.

Should you buy digital or physical games?

Although Sony no longer sells the PS Vita, its digital download store is very much alive – so you can normally choose whether to buy a game physically or in digital form. Digital titles tend to be cheaper than their physical counterparts, especially if you keep an eye out for Sony’s regular sales on the PlayStation Store.

However, some of the best games are Japanese and aren’t available for download in the UK. You can set up multiple PlayStation Network accounts, allowing you to access different regional stores, but it’s a lot simpler to buy physical cards. There are no regional restrictions on the software itself, so you can happily play Japanese game cards on a British Vita. You may also be able to save money buying second-hand game cards, rather than paying full-price for downloads.

Best PS Vita games: The must-have titles for your Vita

1. Persona 4 Golden

In a sleepy Japanese town, people have started mysteriously going missing – then turning up dead a few days later. Meanwhile, a strange new channel has appeared up on TV, airing only when a fog descends upon the village. Intrigued? This absorbing RPG places you in the shoes of a new student at the town high school, trying to cope with both the ups and downs of teenage life and the emergence of powerful supernatural forces. Not merely one of the best games for the PS Vita, Persona 4 Golden is one of the best games ever made, full stop.

Buy Persona 4 Golden now from the PlayStation Store

2. Danganronpa 1 & 2

This uniquely Japanese puzzle game plays out like a visual novel crossed with a Phoenix Wright-style courtroom drama. Placed in the shoes of a student trapped in their school, your only way out is through a murder game orchestrated by a sadistic remote-controlled bear. Yes, you read that right. It’s your job to figure out who’s murdering students, and then take them to task in the school’s courtroom. The original game and its sequel are sold together for the PS4, but if you’d rather play on the go, you can snap both instalments up pretty cheaply on the PlayStation Store.

Buy Danganronpa or Danganronpa 2 now from the PlayStation Store

3. Tearaway

This colourful adventure from the minds behind LittleBigPlanet makes fantastically creative use of the Vita hardware. The screen acts as your window onto a world made of paper: shifting the Vita around in your hands gives you new perspectives, with some levels even letting you push your fingers through the rear touchpad to interact with the environment directly. Your face meanwhile is continually captured by the front-facing camera, and you’ll occasionally catch yourself in cutscenes. The whole adventure feels like a wonderful, memorable journey; not even the PS4 remake Tearaway Unfolded quite matches the magic of this Vita gem.

Buy Tearaway now on the PlayStation Store

4. Gravity Rush

Gravity Rush is a mind-bending 3D platformer that continually challenges your perceptions by essentially allowing you to “fall” in whichever direction you choose. Playing as Kat, an amnesiac with the power to control gravity, it’s your job to protect the citizens of Hekseville from a hive-mind known as Navi. You’ll quickly find yourself diving deep into the world of Hekseville, uncovering Kat’s past and unravelling the driving forces behind the Navi. A sublime experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Buy Gravity Rush now on the PlayStation Store

5. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward kicks off with a pretty arresting premise. After waking up in a locked facility with no memory of what’s happened to you, you have to work out how to break out… while playing ball with a crazed rabbit puppet called Zero who’s locked you into a murder game within the facility.

The game plays out as a split between a visual novel and an escape-room game, featuring a novel mechanic where you have to keep repeating sections to uncover new narrative branches. It’s not for everyone, but if you love a good narrative and want to play one of the best puzzle games out there on the Vita, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward is an absolute must.

Buy Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward  as part of the Nonary Games now on the PlayStation Store

6. Velocity 2X

Part speed-runner, part puzzler, part shmup, Velocity 2X is one of the finest games the PS Vita has to offer. Gameplay is split between intense top-down flying sections and on-foot exercises more reminiscent of Metroid. It’s actually the sequel to a PSP game, but you don’t need to have played the original to follow what’s going on: Velocity 2X stands very much on its own feet.

Buy Velocity 2X now on the PlayStation Store

7. Hotline Miami

Very early on Hotline Miami asks “do you like hurting people?” And make no mistake, this is a violent game – hyper-violent, in fact. Each mission requires you to work your way through a building, floor by floor, killing everyone who’s inside as you get to your goal. It might sound like a romp; the catch is that if you take just one hit you’re dead. This means you’re forced to tackle each floor like a puzzle, albeit one backed by pulse-pounding electronica and oversaturated imagery. Your only respite from the madness comes between levels as synthwave and hazy beach pop punctuate surreal scenes of mental distress and fatigue.

Buy Hotline Miami now on the PlayStation Store

8. Wipeout 2048

Wipeout has always been a showcase title for Sony, and even though Wipeout 2048 was one of the PS Vita’s original launch titles, it’s still one of the platform’s very best games. You can also download Wipeout HD and Fury as extra content, giving you the entire contents of PS4’s Wipeout Omega Collection in a nifty handheld format.

Buy Wipeout 2048 now on the PlayStation Store

9. Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster

Everyone has their favourite Final Fantasy game, but this classic double-bill from the PS2 days is always a strong contender. Stepping into the shoes of famous Blitzball player Tidus, you embark on a journey to find your missing father and help rid the world of the plague of Sin. The two games together clock in at close to 100 hours of gameplay, so the package is fantastic value for anyone wanting to get the most out of their Vita.

Buy Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster now on the PlayStation Store

10. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection

The word “collection” perhaps oversells this twin-game pack, but Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater are still a formidable duo. The former title is sometimes regarded as a misstep for the series, but in today’s climate, its drama of government deception, misdirection and the manipulation of a nation has never been more relevant. Snake Eater meanwhile is more of a hardcore survival stealth game: fans will appreciate its drama and backstory, even if its sprawling journey isn’t as tight to play on the go. Together, you’re looking at two era-defining games from one of the finest minds in games, yours to play absolutely anywhere you like.

Buy Metal Gear Solid HD Collection now on the PlayStation Store

11. Spelunky

Deputy Editor Alan Martin’s favourite game, Spelunky is a roguelike platform adventure that’s brutally difficult. In principle it should be possible to finish it very quickly – there’s an achievement for beating the game in under eight minutes – but in practice you’ll find it takes a long time, and a lot of dying, to master the “grammar” of the game. Even then, the challenge is unpredictable, as no level is ever quite the same twice. Spelunky is available for a wide range of platforms, but we love the portability of the Vita version – and it’s great preparation for Spelunky 2 later this year.

Buy Spelunky now on the PlayStation Store

12. Luftrausers

Luftrausers is the PlayStation Vita’s perfect all-out arcade shooter. It’s not just about pow-pow, though: while aiming with your right stick, you need to stay propelled to keep yourself in the sky and target both boats on the sea and jets in the air. As you take out your enemies, tougher ones come along, including huge sky fortresses and nuclear kamikaze pilots. One particularly engaging feature is the ability to mix and match plane parts to create unique loadouts that push you to play in different ways – and potentially reach new high scores.

Buy Luftrausers now on the PlayStation Store

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