Read Peter Galvin’s review of the Sony PlayStation Vita in this week’s Gamer column.
Most of the Vita’s launch games exist to show off what the system can do. Mini games, short races, puzzlers; a lot of this initially sounds like phone gaming. But, even with all of Sony’s efforts to ape the success of Apple’s app store, don’t discount the Vita’s sticks and buttons, a fundamental that phone gaming has yet to overcome. Real games have buttons, people.
This mini-game collection came as a pack-in with early orders of the Vita and seems specifically designed to show off the system’s novelties. Think WiiSports, but instead of a remote, you have touch screen games and “augmented reality” that uses the rear camera to allow you to shoot aliens in your house. Each game is fairly one-note and, for all but children, the novelty will grow old fast.
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
For everyone who thinks their phones can play games, play Golden Abyss. While this third-person shooter may stack less favorably against its console brethren, as a handheld title it’s simply stunning. An Uncharted adventure with very few concessions, Golden Abyss is closest to a home experience you’re likely to get on a handheld.
Super Stardust Delta
A score-attack twin-stick shooter where you wipe out asteroids as a tiny spaceship, Stardust has been a fixture on the PlayStation, and this handheld version might be the prettiest and most addicting entry yet.
Early shoo-in for most unique downloadable title in the launch, Escape Plan has a gloomy black-and-white aesthetic that recalls Limbo and early Tim Burton. Basically a point-and-click adventure game, Escape Plan probably tries to do too much, but its distinct style is worth a look.
The best racing game at launch, WipEout offers a lot of content, a great sense of speed and a steady increase in difficulty — and it means you can skip the depressingly shallow ModNation Racers: Road Trip and Asphalt Injection.
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
This entry in the Hot Shots Golf series is largely uninterested in the Vita’s touch-screen, but golf mechanics are tight and short rounds create an addicting “just one more hole” experience that would seem to go against the sport’s generally calming nature.
Lumines Electric Symphony
Lumines may be the most addictive puzzle game. The Tetris-esque gameplay seems simple, but Lumines is more of an audio-visual experience that challenges you to beat your own — and the world’s — high scores to some pretty rave-y electronic music. Wear headphones!
Rayman Origins may be a port, but it’s a port of a full length console game and remains one of the best platformers of this generation. Even without co-op play, the colorful and fast-paced stages are masterfully designed and it’s nice to have them on the go.