The PlayStation Vita was a great system despite its lack of support from Sony. It had an incredibly strong first 3 years and tons of support from indie and third-party developers over the years. While Sony nailed the hardware down pat, the system was stuck in limbo between mobile gaming and Nintendo’s strong 3DS support. Here are my top ten favorite Vita games of all time. These will not include remastered compilations, HD ports, or anything that wasn’t significantly special for the Vita.
10. Borderlands 2
It may have struggled technically on the small hardware, but there were many patches put in place to make it playable. With that aside, Borderlands 2 is the best shooter on the Vita, and a lack of them didn’t help despite having twin sticks, due to the overall amount of content. We got the entire Borderlands 2 experience, plus all the DLC for $40 which was a steal. While it took a graphical hit, playing with a buddy on the go was never more fun.
9. Gravity Rush
Despite the nauseating camera, Gravity Rush was a treat to look at and featured a full console experience on the system. The characters were interesting, and the anti-gravity gameplay was one of a kind on the system. While it lacked in story and development, the game had gorgeous locales and interesting things going on.
8. Dragon’s Crown
A Vanillaware game is always something to get excited about, but having one on Vita is something more special. The game looked fantastic on Sony’s OLED screen and featured fantastic co-op gameplay with responsive controls and interesting characters. The game may have been short, but the experience was something to remember.
7. Muramasa: Rebirth
Muramasa was one of the best games on the Wii and having it ported to the Vita was a pleasant surprise. Not only did the system get this exclusive remaster, but it played better than the original. With Vanillaware’s gorgeous visual design it played buttery smooth on the Vita with plenty of DLC, challenging combat, and interesting characters. It remains one of the best Vita games of all time.
6. Uncharted: Golden Abyss
While Golden Abyss didn’t push the series into new directions and played it safe, it was a solid Uncharted adventure that showed off the power of the Vita. Very few games achieved this graphical showcase and all the controls, combat, and adventuring were as smooth as ever. The lack of originality hurt the game a bit, but Nathan is as charming as ever in this adventure.
5. DJ Max: Technika Tune
You won’t see this game on most people’s top ten lists. This is one of the few good rhythm games on Vita and it takes advantage of all the hardware. The DJ Max series was a popular Korean rhythm genre on PSP, and its debut on the Vita is fantastic. With prompts displaying over music videos, the game is addictive with various taps, buttons presses, and modes. This game got me into K-Pop thanks to the game’s front-runner group KARA being featured with several videos.
The makers of LittleBigPlanet pull a fantastic game out of their hat that makes this the single most unique game on the system. It cleverly uses all of the hardware’s features with bright, vivid visuals and fun puzzles. Sadly, the game is really easy and extremely short (less than 4 hours long), and sadly we will never see a sequel.
3. Killzone: Mercenary
The single best FPS on the system, Killzone was the first with the budget of the franchises console brethren, Mercenary is probably the single best looking game on the system and plays amazingly well. With a solid campaign and fun online multiplayer and challenges, this is your go-to shooter.
2. Mortal Kombat
One of the best fighters on the system, and the game I got most excited about for this system. While the game took a mysteriously questionable graphical downgrade, the entire 2011 game is intact with exclusive Challenge Tower modes and all DLC characters. The fighting is smooth, fun, and the only MK game on the system.
1.Persona 4: Golden
While I never finished this game, and I don’t know if I ever will, this game probably gives you the most bang for your buck. A whopping 40-50 hour JRPG with remastered visuals from the PS2 game and added content for $40, it’s a damn steal. The story is brilliant, the combat system is amazing, and there’s something here for everyone. Patience is needed, and some level grinding, but once you get into the swing of the game you won’t put it down. This is what we needed more of on the Vita and sadly, we didn’t get it.
It’s sad to say that the Vita was a mostly commercial flop as Sony got scared with the first sign of trouble. The Vita still continues to release JRPGs and visual novels today, but first and third party support has been long gone. The Slim Vita was released right at the beginning of all this, but there’s still a huge library to play on anyone who hasn’t picked up a Vita yet. While the launch system was a fantastic piece of hardware, the slim version is as well.
While I won’t get into technical details about the hardware, the Slim Vita is virtually the same system just slimmer, more ergonomic, lighter, and has much better buttons and placement. The awkward oval start, select, and home buttons are gone with new circle buttons that are firm and less mushy. Everything just has a more satisfying click and less of a mush feeling to it which is nice. The downside to lighter and slimmer is cheaper feeling, but it still feels good in the hands.
The home button no longer lights up so those LEDs were moved to the top next to the power button as small bars which look sleek and minimal. The Vita also uses a standard micro-USB cable which is nice and ditches the proprietary charger, it’s just too bad they didn’t do that with storage. 1GB of internal memory is included for tiny games and saves, but you can’t use it concurrently with the outrageously expensive memory card.
The biggest change of all is the LCD screen which is no longer OLED. The Vita was touted as having a fantastic looking screen, and while the LCD is nothing to scoff at, it doesn’t pop like the OLED did, but you wouldn’t notice unless they were side by side. This change always more battery life as well. Also noted is the exclusion of 3G models as AT&T killed the Vita plans less than a year after launch.
Overall, the Slim Vita is the best version to get just due to all the improvements. Griping about the OLED screen isn’t enough to justify not wanting this version. We won’t get another iteration so this is the best you can find.
Handhelds have been around longer than I have, but I feel wonderful knowing I saw the handheld market grow and bloom into what it is today. From the Jaguar Lynx to the New Nintendo 3DS, we have come a long way and made leaps and bounds in the gaming and tech industry to get here. Even on mobile phones games look so good that we are seeing PC ports and console ports on them. There is one particular handheld that I have fonder memories of more than GameBoy, DS, and even the Sega Game Gear. It’s the Sony PlayStation Portable. It was an ambitious and monster of a system that sold millions of units and has one of the most dedicated followings of all time that is strong even today. While pirating and custom firmware is what ultimately made the PSP so strong, it still had amazing games and was one awesome system.
I remember seeing the PSP back in late 2004 when images showed up online. I remember thinking it was the slickest damn thing to ever be invented and I HAD to have one. The problem was I was a 14-year-old teenager with a measly allowance and broke parents. How was I to afford a $250 console ever? Well, pre-orders, of course, were a thing back then too and it was like a layaway program. Thankfully I got my pre-order in 8 months before launch as Sony only shipped one million units worldwide and there were none on store shelves after release. The anticipation was palpable and I remember making wallpapers (the one below has followed me from 2005 and sadly our PC was ancient and had an 800×600 resolution), talking on forums, watching videos, and just staring at images of the darned thing. I put $50 a month on the system until finally, I had enough for the console, sales tax, and Ridge Racer. I remember leading up to the last week of the release I talked about it to death with my family until they hated me.
Two days before the system was released games were already available to pick up. I remember picking up Ridge Racer ready to go. I was so fascinated by the UMD and held that little thing in awe as I read the manual page for page. I had the game and was so ready for the system and it couldn’t come sooner. March 24th rolled around and I remember not being able to sleep that night, it was like Christmas. There was no midnight launch for the system as there weren’t enough pre-orders for it, but I had my mom drive me to GameCrazy about 30 minutes before the store opened, about 9:30 AM. I stood in a line of about 50 people and waited patiently for my turn as I had paid for the system in full when I picked up the game.
As I stood in line I watched people walk out with those big boxes and as I got into the store the employees all had their’s out. I felt my heart race as I saw the system for the first time in person from afar. It is literally still one of the most beautifully designed systems ever made. I got up to the counter and saw my box there staring at me. I remember I had to pay one penny as for some reason it was short a cent. I remember everyone in the store laughing but I didn’t pay attention. I got a penny from the car and ran inside, threw that sucker down and grabbed the box. The car ride home was tense despite only being a few minutes. I ran inside and tore the box open and remember holding the system for the first time through that anti-static styrofoam paper. The original launch system came with a 32MB Memory Stick Pro Duo (mainly for saves), a white leather wrist strap, a cleaning cloth, and a pair of headphones. It was gorgeous and beautiful. After playing with the system settings I popped in Ridge Racer and was just blown away by the game, and the rest is history.
This intimate moment I had with my PSP was a cherished moment in my childhood as I didn’t have that many. I look at my PSP units now and take them for granted as they are about $30 a pop and can be found anywhere. I grew even fonder with my system as homebrew was around the corner just a couple weeks after launch and before Sony even released the first firmware update. I remember how fragile hacking and downgrading and flashing the PSP units were. Thankfully I read things carefully and QJ.net had an amazing community that Dark Alex and other famous modders posted on. I never bricked a single unit, but I did break a unit. About 3 or 4 months later I attended driving school and while in line at a Subway during lunch I pulled out the system to check the time and I saw spider-web cracks along the screen. I had put the unit in my front pocket and then sat down causing the material to stretch too tightly over the unit and crack it. My father knew an electrical engineer who could solder a new screen, but after paying $70 for it and him frying the motherboard it didn’t do any good. I was without a PSP for several months until the launch units were under $200. I got my new unit back and was more gentle with it than you could ever imagine.
Fast forward over 10 years later and I have had a PSP-3000 unit, and now own a PSP Go. I have added custom faceplates, taken the entire system apart and put back together, and downgraded and modded the thing to kingdom come. I want to now talk about my personal favorite PSP games — a top 10 if you will. These are games I have played personally and I know the system has a massive library of over 3,000 games, but I have only played a fraction.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror — This was one of the first game I ever purchased for the system. I pre-ordered this game and tore it open when I got home. I even wrote a complete in-depth walkthrough for the game which was insane. Little did I know this would become one of the best games on the system and sadly, one of the last for the series. I played this game 100% and unlocked everything it was so damn good.
Ridge Racer — The first game I ever purchased for the system and one of the most memorable. The sense of speed was amazing, and the soundtrack was so good I downloaded it and listened to it elsewhere. I completed this game 100% as well and probably put dozens of hours into it.
God of War: Chains of Olympus — By the time Kratos made his way to the system I was already working and buying $40 games was nothing at the time. I pre-ordered this game and was probably never more excited for a game on the system. It was epic, felt just like the PS2 versions, and was the first game to use the 333Mhz in the processor and it looked gorgeous. It could be beaten in about 4-5 hours, but multiple playthroughs every so often are worth it.
Race Driver 2006 — One of the longest games I ever rented on Gamefly and for good reason. This game featured so many faces and classes of cars from rally to racing semi trucks. The graphics were incredible and the physics were amazing.
Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 Remix — One of the first games I ever bought for the system. I never got a chance to play THUG 2 so picked this version up. It’s one of the best games on the system and sadly the only good Tony Hawk game on the system. It featured rad music, excellent visuals, and smooth controls.
Mortal Kombat Unchained — This one was hit or miss with some people. I waited year after year for the next Mortal Kombat announcement and hoping one would be released on PSP. After Ultimate Mortal Kombat was announced for DS I lost all hope. When Unchained was confirmed to be a port of Deception I was all right with it as it contained the entire game. What got people mad was the lack of online play which helped the continuity of Deception on consoles. The game also featured badly compressed audio and the graphics were downgraded quite a bit. Konquest mode is one of the ugliest things to grace the PSP.
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep — When Square announced a Kingdom Hearts game for PSP it was no surprise. Shortly after the success of Kingdom Hearts II they thought it was a good idea to split the story and make it even more confusing. The game looked amazing and was a fully fledged KH game on the go. If you have CFW get the Final Mix version with undubbing and more added content.
Burnout Legends — This was one game I never actually owned. It was one of the most highly anticipated games on the system and for good reason. The sense of speed from Burnout 3 carried over to the portable at a solid 30FPS and was packed with content. The only downside was no online play, but it sure did look amazing.
Daxter — One of the first epic adventures on PSP that had the PlayStation touch. Fresh off the heels of Jak 3, Daxter put you in the shoes of the otsel and sent you off on a short but sweet adventure.
Tomb Raider Anniversary — When I realized my PC couldn’t handle Anniversary I was bummed, but the PSP version turned out to be an amazing port and was one of the best looking games on the system. The controls worked out well and the entire game made it onto the system. Play this over the mediocre Legendports.
The PSP is a legendary system. There were so many fantastic games on this console that it has been considered the second best next to the GameBoy Advance. The PSP had a great start and a rough ending, but overall hundreds of games were released and a good quarter of them was worthy of being in a collection. Now, I have played and owned the PSP since that wonderful day on March 24, 2005, when I was a teenager and saved up my allowance on pre-order payments for 6 months. However, what ultimately killed the PSP sales wise was piracy. The PSP was very easy to hack and many custom firmwares were installed on the system and thus downloaded games. While this is possible on every console in existence the PSP became a Pirate Station Portable if you will. Emulators were made for the system so you can carry around SNES, GBA, Genesis and even PS1 games on this thing. It’s a very powerful and versatile system and many things can be done with it.
While I can’t condone piracy, if you own a large collection of classic games it’s great to have them on the go with you and this became my main driving point for playing this system to this day. Outside of emulators, the PSP library is like no other. Racing games, action, and RPGs were among the most popular genres on the system. The PSP had one of the greatest handheld launches of all time with Ridge Racer, Darkstalkers, Lumines, Ape Escape, and many other brands on board. The system was sleek, the most beautiful handheld system ever created, and powerful. I remember booting up Ridge Racer for the first time and being overwhelmed by the graphical fidelity, sound, and large screen. This was also the first handheld with this large of a screen. We had widescreen gaming in our hand with a huge 4.3″ LCD and that was even bigger than phones back in the day. In 2005 you had BlackBerries with small screens and flip phones. Phone screens didn’t catch up until 6 years later. The PSP was way ahead of the time.
While many great games took forever to be released it was a slow trickle for sure. Huge games were milestones for the system like God of War, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Gran Turismo, Tactics Ogre, and many others. These games defined the system as fantastic and there were also many other hidden gems thrown in there. There were also many JRPG ports that were only seen in Japan that were now ported to English for the first time and this trend continues with the Vita. The PSP was perfect for JRPGs that you could keep in your pocket. Now the PSP had many flaws like the terrible UMD discs that nearly crippled the system. The system also had many failed services like comics, Skype, UMD movies, and the terrible internet browser. The system remains great for watching movies, listening to music, and playing games but more so natively rather than through paid services. They just didn’t work on the PSP at all.
The will be my very last review of the PSP hardware line as it was the last (outside of the E1000 unit that was in Europe only). The PSP Go is a very difficult system to find these days as it is the least widely available. The PSP Go released in 2009 and was discontinued barely 2 years later. The PSP had two previous models that greatly improved on the system with the 3000 model being the best. Surprisingly, what drove sales were how easy the hardware was to hack and downgrade. The original model was the easiest to hack as it was mastered by the time the 2000 model came out. The 2000 model had a new motherboard and several hurdles had to be overcome with various firmware updates and are the least popular model of the three. The 3000 system didn’t take as long as Sony was slowing down on the firmware updates and the PSP Go was hacked in no time flat.
With that said, the actual system is even sexier than you could imagine. A slide out PSP? No way! Many mock models were created for the PSP 2 that was said to be announced around the time of the PSP Go release. The system does have drawbacks over the original models but there are advantages that help iron some of this out. First off, the system fits in your pocket easier. The PSP wasn’t really the best for your pocket was it was very wide.
The Go eliminates the buttons on the side of the screen but putting the screen on top of the buttons which is a genius idea. While the chassis is now all plastic it’s still very sturdy. The system retains the overall shape of the PSP and has rubber feet on the bottom of the system and the PSP ring logo is now removed. The buttons have been completely rearranged, more dramatically than the PSP 3000’s arrangement. The new PS Button introduced on the 3000 is now on the top screen being the only button on there. The Bluetooth and Wifi lamps are at the top of the screen as well as speakers flanking the screen. It’s very minimal and looks great, and this is my favorite Home button so far on the system. On the top of the system are the usual L and R buttons but they are larger than the previous systems and lay more flat as they don’t makeup part of the shape of the system like before. The PSP has a volume rocker for the first time which is on top of the system and the screen and note buttons flank that. These are the only bad decisions as when the screen is up these buttons are hard to press as you have to blindly feel for them. Your most used buttons are under the screen with the analog nub between the D-pad and face buttons which is interesting as it was under the D-pad previously. The nub is inset so your thumb stays inside and feels more like an analog stick and it sticks up away from the console but doesn’t tilt still. The D-pad is much improved as it doesn’t rock like previous systems and the face buttons are the exact same size as the Vita. You can actually see the influence of the Vita in the PSP Go.
With that said the buttons feel great and the body is nice. The power slider and wifi switch are very similar to the PSP 3000 on each side of the system, but the worst change of all is a new proprietary memory card called Memory Stick Micro. This was one last stab to combat piracy, but the internal flash actually helped it. The new memory cards are much more expensive than the MS Pro Duo cards that were widely available. So, if you upgraded to a PSP Go you had to ditch your Pro Duo which is an awful move on Sony’s part. While the internal storage is a nice 16GB for several games, a larger size would have been nice to eliminate the removable media altogether. 32 or 64GB would have been just fine and no one would have complained. On the plus side with this internal storage comes lightning fast read and write speeds so load times are greatly reduced in most games. The Go also has Bluetooth 2.0 which no other model had. This was to connect Bluetooth headsets and the DualShock 3. Oh yes, you can play games with the DualShock 3 which is a nice feature, however, there’s no easy way to play as you have to put the Go on a flat surface. USB 2.0 was also removed and now has its own cable which means your other cables are out the window. If you lose this cable you’re screwed, however, USB A to B was being phased out as phones were using Mini B cables which is now a standard. Hey, at least it still has a headphone jack and mic.
Most people complain that the Go has a screen that’s almost half an inch smaller than the previous models. After a while you don’t notice and the picture is extremely clear due to the better LCD tech inside the Go. The “looking through a screen door” issue is gone here and the screen is crisp and bright even by today’s standards. Overall, I can consider this the Gameboy Advance Micro of the PSP. Every handheld system usually has a miniature “best of” variation and this is it.
With that said, the PSP Go is my personal favorite of the system. I love the larger versions, the PSP 3000 is the best of the three, but something about ultra-compactness and the slide out screen really sells the entire package. It’s a gorgeous system and it’s a shame it hasn’t been re-released. The only true way to play this is by buying the UMD versions, downgrading the firmware, and playing the backed up ISO of your game. You can even downgrade a UMD PSP, and there are plugins that allow you to rip the game from the UMD onto the MS Pro Duo and then transfer it to your Go to completely circumvent piracy. This huge hurdle is probably what killed the Go and the fact that the PSN store is shutting down on the PSP natively this month is a crying shame. You can still buy and purchase PSP games, but eventually, those will go away as well and this hacking circumvention will be the one and only way to even get games on this system.
It’s also the rarest of the variations as a new system will run you over $200 which was the original price point and even just finding one in good shape is a chore on its own. I picked up a beat up system near me for $80 with the charger, and it was the only one in my entire county. I later tracked down the white model used in perfect condition for just $100, but again, most cheap Go systems are extremely beat up. If you don’t care about that then $60-80 is your price range which isn’t bad.
Now that gaming on tablets and phones is becoming more serious and popular, companies are coming out with dedicated controllers for your devices. PowerA was one of the first ones out of the gate with their Moga series of controllers. This is the mobile version that holds your phone while you play. It’s Bluetooth so there are no cords tethered to your device. The controller is very well designed and sturdy, it doesn’t feel cheap at all.
I love the ergonomics of this controller. The middle of the controller has a flip up phone holder. It can hold up to 6″ phones, so everything up to the Samsung Note II. The top and bottom of the clip have rubber grips so your phone doesn’t slip out, and it keeps it from getting scratched. Getting the controller to connect is a breeze. The initial setup is done with the Moga Pivot app, it also scans your device for games that can be played with the controller. You can also navigate and launch these apps with the controller. The controller sits well in your hands, and is powered by 2 AA batteries, each is housed on either side of the controller. PowerA went for minimalism with this controller and they nailed it.
The only issue with the controller is that it feels too rigid. The buttons aren’t very soft and make a loud clicking sound. The thumbstick nubs are a bit stiff and there’s no D-pad. I like the L and R triggers which feel great for shooting games and racing. I wish the controller had analog sticks rather than nubs. It’s really hard to adjust to these in a shooter, I had to turn the sensitivity way down in the game to make it feel somewhat normal. The controller is also lacking bumpers which could have fit just fine. So there’s a bit of a learning curve with this controller.
At least it comes with two free games, Pac-Man and Sonic CD. It also includes a really nice leather case to hold your controller in. The biggest issue of all is that there aren’t many games that support this thing. There is a free universal driver app to use in emulators which are probably the main reason why someone would buy this. I was able to play a GBA, SNES, PS1, and Genesis emulator with no issues. Other than this, this is well worth the $40 for anyone looking for a controller without having to buy special cables, rooting, or buying expensive apps.
Silent Hill has had a rough patch, and I thought Book of Memories would change this. The game seems really great at first, and I like the idea of the series branching off for the first time to a different genre. The dungeon crawling path works well for the series, but it is poorly executed here. The first few levels are fun, but later on, they repeat the same way over and over again. The game doesn’t feel much like Silent Hill at all except visually, and I promise you there isn’t a single scare in the whole game.
The story is paper thin in which a man or woman (you get to create a character with a very weak customizer) that gets a strange book for their birthday from the mailman seen in (the last terrible game) Downpour. It is full of memories and you decide to go inside and change them. That is pretty much it. The story is barely delivered through notes and scattered audio clips. Silent Hill is known for good stories that are at least confusing, but not boring. This one is boring and uninteresting.
The game has a top-down perspective and you run around levels opening rooms and completing challenges to find puzzle pieces. Silent Hill is known for puzzles, but these are pretty lame (more on that later). You are safe in hallways and each room is random. That is probably the most fun part of this game: What’s in the next room? Some need keys to open which is found in red highlighted objects. When your flashlight is on these objects you can search through are highlighted and they contain things like ammo, medkits, weapons, keys, and repair tools.
The whole point of the game is to run around smacking down everything in sight, but this is where the game mainly fails. The weapons are nods to pretty much everything seen in past game like the steel pipe, wood plank, fire axe, revolver, sledgehammer, and a few original weapons. The issue here is that they can break very quickly. This made the game extremely tough because enemies are really hard to take down. Even after leveling myself up a lot I never did much damage. Using repair tools can come in handy, but they are hard to find and you can’t hold many of them. You can once you upgrade your backpack more, but this requires a lot of memory residue which is also hard to come by. Saving up this currency is even tough because you will be spending it on medkits and repair tools 90% of the time. See what I mean? This is all a vicious cycle that never ends.
There are RPG elements that allow you to equip relics which increase stats. Leveling up takes forever and doesn’t seem to do any good. The combat itself is boring and stiff. You just mash an attack button until everything dies. The lock-on button is handy for ranged weapons, but blocking didn’t really do much good for me. I felt the combat system should be more refined and intuitive for a dungeon crawler. Maybe add some spell casting? I can’t tell you how tired I was of the game by Zone 11, I just called it quits. One redeeming quality to the combat are the fun boss fights every three zones. You have to use strategy and discover their weakness, but why can’t regular enemies be like this? Most enemies are ones from previous games and very few are new. I just felt the developers didn’t know what direction to go in, Silent Hill survival horror or dungeon crawler.
It really shows in all the flaws in the game. The puzzles are the same three that repeat over and over. Event rooms are confusing with zero clues on what to do. Even the karma bar seems useless because picking up enemies’ blood (depending on whether they are light, blood, or steel) will move your karma bar around. Seems pretty pointless actually. The only way to really enjoy this game is co-op with up to four players because the game is really hard. Not to mention the fact that if you die before saving at the one save spot in each level you have to do it all over again, not fun.
Book of Memories has some nice graphics for the Vita, nothing special though. There are no scares to be had and the same track loops over and over again. The story is uninteresting, the character creator is weak, the combat difficulty is all over the place, the combat system is boring and stiff, and many other elements wrapped in the game just feel wrong and half-baked. I love the idea of a dungeon crawler in this series, but please pick one side or the other. Also, make it scary next time.
Wipeout is one of the longest running racing series out there debuting on the original PlayStation and has spanned every PlayStation console ever since. 2048 is the first Wipeout on the Vita, so what would a PlayStation console launch be like without a Wipeout title? 2048 doesn’t really do much to change the series which it desperately needs, so that is probably the worst part about the game. This, overall, is a very solid Wipeout game.
Everyone mainly looks forward to how far a Wipeout game can push a console. The game looks amazing on the Vita with a great sense of speed. Wipeout is known for a wide variety of event types and 2048 delivers there too. There’s time attack, zone events, and a new combat type event. I don’t know why this wasn’t in any previous Wipeouts, but you just go around destroying as many vehicles are you can and earn points. Zone events return where the car accelerates on its own and you just have to survive. I wish there were more original event types, but what’s here works fine and there are a lot of them.
The vehicle classes are fun and the speed ramps up pretty quick in this version. B to A has a huge difference, but some fans may turn their nose up at the thought. I preferred this, but don’t worry there are plenty of vehicles to unlock and use so you can fine tune your play style just the way you want. There are plenty of unique tracks that look great and are designed well. My major complaint is that there aren’t any new weapons. The same quake, rocket, missile, mines etc. are still present and haven’t ever changed.
Multiplayer is where the most fun is at, but this time there is Wi-Fi so you can play online. A huge complaint I have is that the load times are just absolutely atrocious. There have been patches since release to shorten them, but they are still pretty long and need to be cut down even more. If you can look past these issues than 2048 is the best racer on the Vita right now. The game controls very well thanks to the actual analog stick so PSP fans will notice smoother controls this time around. If you own the PS3 Wipeout you can do Cross-Play which is fun and makes you feel like you got your monies worth.
Overall, longtime fans may either hate this game or love it depending on how you feel about the series as it stands today. It really needs some renovation with new weapons, event types, and maybe some customization? 2048 is stunning to look at on the Vita but suffers some seriously long load times in turn.
Before you write Pushmo off as a cutesy kids puzzle game think again. The game uses depth as its core which is what the 3DS is all about. You get to move blocks forward by four blocks, but you have to rescue a Pushmo at the top by figuring out how to configure these blocks. Thankfully you can jump around so this makes the game a bit easier, but not all are as easy as they seem. One puzzle can only consist of four blocks, but the way they are shaped makes it difficult to climb so you have to figure out how to stagger these to get to the top.
This makes the game original and fresh as to stray away from the Tetris, physics, and memory clones. If you feel really stumped or want to analyze what you did just rewind with the shoulder buttons or reset the whole thing via a button at the bottom of the blocks. This is the entire game, but when you get bored go ahead and build your own puzzles which add a layer of extra fun. There are plenty of puzzles to solve, but the game is quick and easy to just play on the go without worrying about checkpoints and saves.
The art style is cute with bright colorful graphics and the 3D effects are there to help immerse you in the depth layering which makes it feel like part of the puzzle solving rather than a gimmick or something that gets in the way (like Bit.Trip Saga). With the low price point you get dozens of hours of fun content, but overall the game is just really simple and only good in short bursts. This is a game for any age, any player type, and for everyone who owns a 3DS. Right now this is the eShop’s killer app and probably the best game on there.
Colors: Cosmo Black, Aqua Blue, Flame Red, Pearl Pink, Red
Nintendo is well-known for making hardware that takes huge risks. While they usually fail software-wise, they tend to soar in hardware sales. The 3DS started out pretty poorly with crappy launch titles and a steep retail price ($250). About 6 months later Nintendo dropped the price to $170 (the same price as the Wii and DSi XL) and suddenly sales rose and third-party developers jumped on board. I wonder why… Now that the 3DS is in full swing I finally got one for Christmas this year and got several games to tinker around with this bad boy. I actually have to say the hardware is well-built and very impressive despite my early speculation that the hardware would be a complete failure.
The whole system is just completely new because not only is the system capable of 3D, but it also has more powerful hardware so they like GameCube/PS2 quality. The main menu is designed more like the DSi, but leaning more toward what the Wii looks like. You can now use the Mii Plaza, plus a bevy of built-in apps that are pretty neat. When you start the thing up you will notice some hardware changes like an analog stick which completely changes the way DS games are played. The top screen is only capable of 3D, but it’s slightly bigger (3.53″) kind of like the DSi XL (4.2″). The bottom screen is the same size which I found disappointing, but there was something about technical issues that keep the touchscreen from being 3D.
The system has a 1ghz processor which is about 10x what the other DS systems are capable of (133Mhz) and the GPU is also more powerful. To show this power off the system comes with AR (augmented reality) cards of famous Nintendo characters that you use in the built-in game AR Games. Setting the question mark box down in front of the camera acts as a menu with different games like shooting targets, billiards, and being able to pose the characters to take 3D pictures, and other crazy games. This is actually very impressive and it’s so neat to just see these guys pop out of real-life onto the 3DS. My only complaint is that you can’t do anything with the characters other than posing them.
The second games is Face Raiders which takes your face and puts on flying helmets that you shoot down. This is kind of freaky and fun at the same time, but it helps show off the great AR abilities of the system. Other than this the menu is in 3D as well as most of the eShop, but I can’t explain how much it just pops and makes playing games that much more fun. It didn’t hurt my eyes at all even with the 3D depth slider all the way up, but you have to view it almost straight on or the view shifts and the 3D goes away, so the whole idea isn’t flawless. The 3DS is capable of downloading some apps that are pretty fun, but overall the eShop is lacking in good games. The majority are remade original Game Boy games that no one really misses, but over time it will expand…I hope. The 3DS also features StreetPass which will exchange info on games you own when you pass people in the car or when walking which is lots of fun. The system also has a pedometer which awards coins that can be used in certain games to unlock stuff. SpotPass allows you to download and unlock items in games when near a center when outside. This is so much fun and adds some unique qualities to games.
Even when playing games for an hour or more my eyes didn’t even hurt, and yes even when I was tired. Some games work better than others, but overall the 3D effects really add to the experience and make most 3DS games unique over regular DS games. Of course, you can play regular DS games, but the top screen puts black bars on the side to compensate for the larger screen, but I found this was kind of stupid and should be full screen. The battery life is also shorter because of the more powerful hardware, but it has some pretty good power saving features to extend this. One other advantage is that the 3DS takes SD cards and has internal storage plus it has 2.4 GHz wi-fi card for super fast internet speeds. 3DS games also (FINALLY!) save to the SD card instead of on the cartridge due to the size capacity of the 3DS cards (plus price hikes).
When it’s all said and done the 3DS is well worth the money and there are enough great games to consider a purchase. The 3D is revolutionary and actually works with the games, but just make sure you try an in-store demo before buying because the 3D will not work for some people or it may hurt your eyes. For the low price and great features, I would go pick one up right now!
The survival horror is a slowly dying genre, and the king of the genre, Silent Hill, is barely keeping it alive. Shattered Memories is the first American made Silent Hill, and the whole formula has pretty much changed. Hardcore fans will probably not like this, but the elements that make SH scary are still intact. The game is more about enjoying the experience and less about winning. Puzzles are very simple, there’s no combat, so it’s all about exploration and atmosphere.
You play as Harry Mason who wakes up from a car crash to look for his daughter Cheryl. He runs into different characters (including a MILF’d up Cibil) and you run around the town of Toluca to find her. In between sequences you are in therapy sessions and these consist of mini-games and are pretty neat because they change the outcome of the story and the ending. This is a new element for the SH series, and I hope this comes back in some form.
Once you step into the dark you run around with your flashlight and are basically trying to find mementos and trigger sequences such as when the screen gets staticky. This means that there is something nearby that will send you some sort of message on your phone. While these are creepy, you can also snap pictures with your phone camera and this usually is also worked into puzzles.
When you see a white triangle above something that means you can interact with it. These can be little micro puzzles because you use a hand to push and pull things. While this was obviously created for the Wii version it works great here on the PSP. Most puzzles aren’t nearly as mind-bending as past SH games because most of the time the key is in the same room as the locked door, and clues usually don’t need more decrypting. What may get you is navigating the nightmare sequences.
Now, these are different than the air raid siren bringing rust that consumers SH in past games. Usually, a scene will trigger something and ice will start covering the room. As you run around you must find the X that’s on your map because it’s usually a puzzle you have to solve to continue. While you run around scary creatures chase you and you must knock down objects to block their path and to let you know you’ve been there before. Some sequences have you running around hallways and bringing you in circles until you go into the right sequence of doors. These sections can be quite hair-raising because of the music, sounds of the creatures, and if they catch up to you-you have to shake them off via on-screen prompts.
There are some unique parts of the game that make it cinematic such as riding in cars in the first person, and figuring out how to get out of them, and the first person swimming sequence at the end of the game. Silent Hill has never been quite so cinematic before and it’s a great addition. Despite all this, the game has a great twist ending and has enough uniquity to keep you busy to the end. However, the departure from traditional Silent Hill elements may make some people hate this game. The game looks amazing on the PSP and really feels like it was built from the ground up for the device. This is a top-notch title for the handheld, and we need more of them.