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Five PlayStation Vita Games You Shouldn’t Be Without

Do you own Sony's dual-stick handheld system? Then we've got some recommendations for games you need to own.
This article is over 11 years old and may contain outdated information

Over one year after it’s been introduced, the PlayStation Vita is still a little slow coming out of the gate when it comes to sales.  But with price drops and potentially big games being releases (like this week’s Dead Or Alive 5 and the upcoming Soul Sacrifice), its audience will likely pick up over time.  That’s not even counting this Fall’s line-up of big games, like Tear Away and Killzone: Mercenary.

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But at the present, there are plenty of quality games to choose from that take good advantage of the Vita, whether you’re in mood for an action/adventure (Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for older gamers, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time for all ages), puzzle solving (Lumines Electronic Symphony and Plants vs. Zombies) or racing (Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed and the awesome Need For Speed: Most Wanted).

Whatever you do though, you shouldn’t be without the following five games.  These are some of the best that the Vita have to offer right now; some go as high as $40 in price but they’re well worth the cash.

So here are our recommendations for the best Vita games you can get right now.  As always, if you have suggestions of what we might’ve overlooked feel free to suggest them below.  We can always revisit this article with your favorite picks…

Persona 4 Golden (Atlus)

Atlus is one of the few companies out there that appreciates the work that goes into localizing a JRPG for U.S. audiences.  If your characters don’t leave any emotional reasoning to reflect on you, what was the point?  That’s why we’re happy to see Atlus already left its mark on the Vita with the dazzling Persona 4 Golden.  The game is a deep, satisfying RPG with quirky characters, awesome dialogue, and hours’ worth of battles to keep you invested.  Though the game lacks the kinetic and fast-moving flair of Persona 4 Arena, it more than makes up for it with epic storytelling and strong gameplay throughout.  You’ll be drawn into this Golden world in no time.

The Pinball Arcade/Zen Pinball 2 (Farsight Studios/Zen Studios)

We’re cheating just a little bit here by naming two games instead of one, but both The Pinball Arcade and Zen Pinball 2 manage to create life-like pinball experiences and it’s hard to recommend one over the other.  On the one hand, Pinball Arcade painstakingly recreates classic pinball games of old, ranging from The Twilight Zone to Genie to Medieval Madness; they play just like the real things too, so be careful not to tilt.  On the other hand, Zen Studios does remarkable work with its virtual table designs based on original ideas as well as popular franchises like Marvel, Plants vs. Zombies and, most recently, Star Wars.  Both of these make excellent additions to your virtual library – and don’t take that much room on the system at all.  (This is good news for those stuck with a minimal 4 GB memory card.)

Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros.)

When it came to picking the best fighting game for the PS Vita, there were so many high-ranking choices.  There’s a surprising amount of choice on the PS Vita between PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter x Tekken, but all are secondary behind Netherrealm’s flawless conversion of its hit console brawler Mortal Kombat.  Featuring all the blood and guts action fans have come to expect, the Vita version also comes with bonus touch-oriented mini-games that actually make proper use of the system.  You can also kill someone with just a few swipes; it’s not often you see that kind of power come around in a fighting game.  Take that, Sub-Zero!

Rayman Origins (Ubisoft)/Sound Shapes (SCEA)

We’re cheating a little (again), but both of these platformers bring a lot to the picture and for different prices.  For those that can afford a full game and really want to see how the PS Vita handles a console conversion, go with Rayman Origins.  Featuring every level from the 2011 game, Origins doesn’t come up short in any department with simple addictive gameplay and awesome graphics – it looks like a Saturday morning cartoon brought to life.  Likewise, Sound Shapes has its own appeal for a discount price ($15), with savvy stage design that actually “shapes” itself around whatever music is playing, like selections from Deadmau5 and Beck.  Both will take a little while to complete and come with extras – Rayman has its ghost runs while Sound Shapes lets you upload and download custom levels.  They’re just too good to pass up.

Super Stardust Delta (SCEA)

Finally, while we patiently await for a shooter to really take good advantage of the twin sticks (Resistance: Burning Skies came close; let’s not talk about Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified), there’s a top-down shooter that does just as well for just $10.  Super Stardust Delta manages to continue the frenetic action of the PSN original, but introduces a very cool twin weapon system and extras weapons to help you stay in the fight.  The game also manages to retain most of its graphical edge from the original, with explosion upon explosion shattering the planet surface you’re on – all without a hint of slowdown.  The game also features varying modes to choose from (think you can survive just on bombs by themselves?) as well as fully supported online leaderboards, so you can try to keep up with those on your friends list.  

If you want more shooting action, check out the side-scrolling shooter Sine Mora as well (from Grasshopper Manufacture).  It’s more difficult, but just as entertaining, especially with its time-stopping gimmick.

What are you waiting for?  Go get these PS Vita games!

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