A light snowfall dusts your living room window with white crystal that makes the early sunrise dance around the room. The heartwarming scent of pine fills the air, hitting your nostrils before the milky aroma from a bowl of eggnog left out overnight can do the same. The memories and images conjured by your surroundings are pleasant, but not nearly as palpable as your feverish anticipation. There's a gaming gift beneath that tree, and you've got a good idea what it might be.
For many PlayStation gamers this holiday season, that gift will be a shiny PlayStation Vita - the latest Sony handheld, and a dedicated gaming device that has come into its own over the last several months. A slew of excellent titles in every conceivable genre has arrived in both retail stores and on PlayStation Network. PSU is here to help you make the most of your new device, and in the latest of our series of holiday guides, we're excited to show the seven absolute must-have PS Vita games. These are the titles you CANNOT miss, standouts on the system that will keep you occupied for MONTHS.
Persona 4 Golden
The first item on our list is perhaps the easiest recommendation. Persona 4 Golden is a comprehensive director's cut of the PlayStation 2's 2008 JRPG classic. A lot of people missed Persona 4 the first time around, but that's OK: Golden gives gamers a second chance to experience addictive gameplay, memorable characters, and stunning production values alongside more new content than you'll know what to do with. Persona 4 Golden is PS Vita's first JRPG hit, and will likely be the very best RPG on the system for years to come. Don't delay. Buy this game. $39.99, Rated M for Mature
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
LittleBigPlanet's infectious mix of platforming goodness and imaginative possibility is completely intact on PS Vita, and benefits from the infusion of touch and tilt controls that only enhance gameplay, never detracting from it. Perfect for kids and grown-ups alike, SackBoy's second portable outing and first adventure on PS Vita is hands-down the best LittleBigPlanet yet. You can spend hours creating your own levels, enjoying the fine collection by developer Tarsier Studios, or just browsing the incredible creations of others -all on-the-go. Even if you've played LittleBigPlanet to death on other platforms, don't hesitate to pick up this platforming gem. $39.99 retail, $35.99 PlayStation Store, Rated E for Everyone
Super Stardust Delta
Super Stardust HD brought colorful arcade madness to PS3 as one of the system's early digital hits, and the franchise brings the same to PS Vita with Super Stardust Delta. Delightfully simply yet boundlessly strategic, Delta throws vivacious colors across your new OLED screen like nobody's business as wave after wave of enemy spacecraft and asteroid attempt to derail your noble mission of destruction. Plus, the frenetic fun of score multipliers and power-ups will keep you chasing your friends on the leaderboards for weeks. As one of PS Vita's cheapest games, it's surprising that Super Stardust Delta offers so much pure fun, but that's exactly why we love it. $9.99, Rated E for Everyone
Lumines: Electronic Symphony
Lumines is the shining star of rhythmic puzzle games. That may place it in the company of few, but this compelling mix of electronica and fast-paced block-matching is nothing short of infectious. Packed with game modes and ferociously addictive, Lumines will hook you hard and become a mainstay in your PS Vita's LiveArea. Like Super Stardust, online leaderboards are a huge draw, and the game's interface makes it easy to track what your friends have accomplished. Bragging rights are waiting for you to snag; just don't blame us if you start dreaming of falling blocks. $39.99, Rated E for Everyone
Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward
If you've never heard of Zero Escape or its predecessor Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, don't despair. These are niche games to be sure, but as the series' debut on PS Vita, Zero Escape is not to be missed. Visual novels are notoriously dialogue-heavy (and VLR is no exception), but within those words is a narrative unlike any other, riddled with ambition and reflection that could only be achieved in the video game medium. That says nothing about the game's puzzles, which are no-holds-barred difficult and make for the perfect travel companions. Virtue's Last Reward is unlike anything you've played, but if you want to test the limits of what video games are capable of, it should be the first one on your list. $39.99, Rated M for Mature
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
SuperBot Entertainment's love letter to PlayStation fans is not only a great send-up of the characters and franchises we love, but an uber-polished fighting game with loads of accessibility and strategic depth. Plus, it's network features are some of the most sophisticated around, allowing you to sync profile and character data back-and-forth between the PS Vita and PS3 version with a simple sign-in. Cross-compatibility ensures that PS Vita and PS3 players can duke it out in any environment, and with Cross-Buy, you can even get both versions for the price of one. There is no better celebration of PlayStation history on the market today, and no better evidence for PS Vita's ability to offer console-quality gaming on-the-go. $39.99, $35.99 PlayStation Network, $59.99 (PS3 purchase, includes PS Vita version), rated T for Teen
PlayStation Plus (wait, what?)
The seventh "game" on our list isn't actually a game, but it's impossible NOT to recommend Sony's subscription service to every new PS Vita owner. The reason is simple: as a PlayStation Plus subscriber, you have access to the Instant Game Collection - no less than six excellent titles available for download at any time, with new games waiting to be cycled in. The launch titles are no slouches either, and would've made for easy recommendations in our list proper. Click the links below for our reviews of each, and know that if you're not a PlayStation Plus subscriber, you're missing out on the best deal in gaming - discounts, exclusive betas, and save file syncing notwithstanding.
PS Plus Instant Game Collection includes:
- Uncharted: Golden Abyss
- Gravity Rush
- WipEout 2048
- Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!
- Jet Set Radio
- Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (PSP)
With this list of games (and service), we hope you enjoy every minute of whichever holiday you celebrate with PS Vita in hand. If you already own one, be sure to drop a comment below and let other readers know what games and goodies we missed in the list above.
Happy Holidays from everyone here at PSU!