Many people use video game reviews to determine how to spend their hard-earned dollars. While as an adult I don’t take this as seriously and I now make my own money I am more forgiving of games that aren’t perfect. As kids or teens, we have limited money and are usually picked through gaming magazines to determine if that one game was worth the money because we only got a few a year. For me, it was only during Christmas time that my parents bought games. I mostly rented mine throughout my childhood and teen years. Even for rentals, I was picky as I didn’t want to be stuck on my weekend with a dud of a game. Even a 7/10 or 3.5/5 would be considered a waste of time. This was the last generation in which AAA title after AAA title would be considered fantastic and with so many exclusives it was hard to keep up with. The HD era of gaming would see budgets balloon to insane heights and game releases slowed down as a result.
In my eyes, 7/10 or 3.5/5 games are mostly ignored. These aren’t always considered hidden gems either. Some are, but some are just considered forgettable. Not awful or good, but just passes under everyone’s radar. These aren’t the “so bad it’s good” games either. A few of these games have cult followings; a few I had only heard of while compiling this list and some I played myself growing up. I compiled this list from Metacritic with games between 74-70. I feel that’s the true blue 7 range. 79 and 78-rated games usually only have about 25% of the critics giving it a 7 to bring an otherwise 8 score down some. These games are at least rated by half the critics as 7/10. While I know many people don’t listen to critics and some might feel this game should be rated higher or lower is subjective. Like it or not, critic reviews drive sales and it may be the reason why you might find a few games on this list you’ve never heard of, thought was talked about worse than you remember, or something along those lines
Tokyo Xanadu – 2017
An acceptable original JRPG that was released late in the Vita’s life. While the repetitive dungeons and predictable plot are nothing to write home about the world and characters are well crafted, and it looks great.
Most Recent Entry: Tokyo Xanadu eX+ – 2017 (PS4, PC)
Frobisher Says! – 2012
A fun launch title that was only released in Europe. This free title showed off the Vita hardware and was hilarious to play. The game isn’t very long, but it doesn’t cost you anything either.
Collar X Malice – 2017
The end of the Vita’s life was stuffed with visual novels. This is a great one with a deep plot, lots of twist endings, and great art, but it’s a slave of its genre. There’s almost no gameplay. The cut scenes can stretch up to 30 minutes long with tens of thousands of lines of dialogue to read. If VNs are your thing then you got a good one here.
Most Recent Entry: Collar X Malice: Unlimited – 2018 (NS, VITA)
Baboon! – 2015
A frustrating but still fun puzzle platformer. It has a cute art style and an addictive nature that keeps you coming back despite its difficulty.
Freedom Wars – 2014
This game was so close to being the next big portable Monster Hunter clone, but the gameplay and combat fell through. It has a great world, characters, and story, but the combat is the weak link here. It looks good, and if you’re sick of Monster Hunter in portable form give this a shot.
Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal – 2015
If you love ecchi fan service and traditional anime tropes in your dungeon crawlers then this is for you. It’s a bit dry in terms of environments, and the story is complete nonsense, but it does serve its niche audience well. This would be the final entry in the To Heart series as well.
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space – 2015
There’s no story here. You just go from mission to mission for quick pick-up-and-play action, and it’s best played with friends. This severely limits the game to solo players, but it’s dumb fun that the series has always been known for.
Most Recent Entry: Earth Defense Force: World Brothers – 2020 (PC, PS4, NS)
Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni – 2016
If you love the Senran Kagura series you will love this. The abundance of ecchi fan service, decent combat, and fun characters, but a lot of anime tropes, and nothing in the game ever achieves greatness.
Smart as… – 2012
This was Sony’s attempt at the Brain Age games that sold millions of DS systems. Sadly, the bland presentation didn’t attract anyone, and the high price point did. It has fun brain teasers and can pass 10-15 a day, but that’s about it.
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed – 2015
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation – 2015
Closer to a hack-and-slash and less of a JRPG like the games in the past. The interesting characters and funny script will keep you hooked, but it lacks an overall sense of polish.
Most Recent Entry: Neptunia Virtual Stars – 2021 (PS4, PC)
Soldner X-2: Final Prototype – 2015
A fun if generic feeling side-scrolling shooter. It’s short, but hard and will keep you coming back for awhile. It’s a port of a five-year-old PS3 game but done very well.
Toukiden: The Age of Demons – 2014
Another game trying to take a piece of the Monster Hunter pie. This game was much faster-paced and simpler to learn. It looked great but had a shallow story and uninteresting characters. Come for the combat and great art design.
Most Recent Entry: Toukiden 2 – 2016 (PS3, VITA, PS4, PC)
Unit 13 – 2012
This isn’t SOCOM for Vita. Everyone thought that was what this launch title was going to be. What we got was a great looking if generic design military shooter. The story sucked, and the online component was underbaked, but the mission was fun in bite-sized chunks and it played well.
Escape Plan – 2012
This downloadable launch title was praised for its great art style and fun puzzles, but it was way too slow to play and had clumsy controls. If you can stomach that, and skipped this puzzler, then go for it.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation – 2012
The game was held back too much. More development time and this could have been a great game, not just an okay one. The world felt cramped despite being fairly large, and the plot was a mess despite Aveline being a great character. It’s a technical marvel on the Vita, but don’t expect greatness.
Most Recent Entry: Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – 2020 (PS4, XONE, PS5, XSX, PC)
Demon Gaze – 2014
This highly anticipated dungeon crawler lets a lot of people down. Sure, it looks great, but the dungeons are boring, the combat is average, and the game is a serious grind. If you love planning until you’re broken and love that feeling after a hard battle then this is for you.
Most Recent Entry: Demon Gaze: Extra – 2021 (PC, PS4, NS)
New Little King’s Story – 2012
A port of the 2009 Wii game was surprising. Sadly, the game took a few steps backward, and if you played the original there’s no reason to play this one. If you like Pikmin you will probably enjoy this.