Spoilers, You will die.
Mobile gaming tends to get a bad rap because the library of games is oversaturated with clones, games with poor controls and just downright laughable production values. But amidst the sea of garbage that the Play and App store can be, you’ll find a few pearls, of which a few are listed below. To us these games prove to be worthy examples of games that could make the leap from their current mobile homes and put down some roots on our beloved PS Vita. Have a look.
Infinity Blade (series)
Infinity Blade is perhaps one of the most important mobile game series outside of Angry Birds. Chair demonstrated that understanding the limitations of input on tablets and smartphones wasn’t a hindrance, but rather the design of the game had to play to those strengths. Infinity Blade not only has an appropriate control scheme for what they wanted to do, the controls are fluid and highly responsive. In addition to tight controls Infinity Blade also bridged the gap in terms of graphical disparity between mobile and console games. The whole series is delightful to look at and would look just as beautiful on the Vita.
It’s rare to find a game — especially on a mobile device — that offers such serenity when playing. Monument Valley combines the peaceful nature of Journey with the “world is a puzzle” functionality of Fez all with intuitive touch controls. You’d most likely have to hold your Vita vertically to maintain a proper view of each level, but without the concern of needing other button inputs this wouldn’t pose an issue. Vita has been somewhat of a haven for great indie games and Monument Valley deserves a seat at that table.
There has always been a layer of strategy to the Hitman games and with Hitman GO that is the game. Converting the traditional gameplay elements of its predecessors into a game of chess. Hitman GO challenges players in a diorama style environment to carefully eliminate targets and/or infiltrate certain areas. While some other shooter franchises have had less than graceful outings on mobile, Square Enix created an intelligent solution to that problem with Hitman GO. Vita doesn’t have a huge library of turn based strategy games, but Hitman GO would make a great addition.
I’ll be the first to say that most Spiderman games on mobile are complete trash, but something unexpected happened to me with Spiderman Unlimited, I had fun. Let it be known Spiderman Unlimited is an endless runner and stigmas will dictate that it’s a muddled freemium mess, but it strangely defies most of those sentiments. Unlimited has a serious amount of depth and content for an endless runner, most of which can be attained without ever having to spend a cent. Regardless of that the game is a great deal of fun to play. With a myriad of different Spidermen at your disposal (as the name would suggest) and a variety of areas to web sling through it really showcases itself as a premier title in it’s genre. That might not hold much weight with some, but this would make for a excellent free-time-killer on the Vita.
Probably the most frustrating thing in a mobile shooter is wonky virtual buttons and sticks that are unresponsive which ultimately lead to an unfavorable experience. Epoch is a covered based shooter that simplifies the control scheme to ensure tight gameplay for its fast paced encounters. It has fun customization options for your robot and gorgeous graphics that’d pop on that OLED screen (or LED for newcomers). Epoch would blossom on the Vita not because of a lack of competition, but more so its pick up and play accessibility for quick mobile gaming romps.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery
For those who don’t know what Sword & Sworcery is, shame on you, but it’s an exploratory action adventure game that blends in–you guessed it– swords and sworcery mechanics with an audiovisual style that is pretty rad. The folks at Capy Games combined killer music with an accompanying art style that compliment each other so well. S&S handles wonderfully on current mobile devices and is another indie title that could easily take up residence on the Vita.
There are literally millions of mobile games out there and these are just a few of what we think would work well on the Vita, but we want to know from you what we missed. Let us know what mobile game(s) you’d like to see on Vita in the comments below.
It seems only appropriate, with Rise of the Tomb Raider making its way as a timed Xbox exclusive, to look back to Ms Croft’s roots, which are firmly embedded in PlayStation history. This isn’t an easy game to look back at however. Does one look at it though a portal, as though the game had just hit the shelves in its bulky CD case? Or as a game rooted in the past, which set definitive guidelines that have shaped the way games are today? In this Tomb Raider review, I find that neither side is entirely appropriate.
Certainly, the most dated aspect are the visuals. Expect to see jagged edges and fuzzy textures galore. The game’s geometry and open spaces aren’t so bad really, and neither are the animations. Sure they’re a little janky by today’s standards, but they at least impose the game’s isolated, hostile atmosphere. Overall, remembering these visuals through rose-tinted glasses will give nostalgic players a hefty shock.
As far as the story goes… it’s a bit thin on the ground. If you’re expecting a story from a PS1 game, you’re far better off looking at Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy. That’s not to say there’s nothing on offer, but given how far storytelling has come during this time, I think it’s only fair not to expect a lot here. Also worth of note is how refreshing it is to be playing as classic Lara, before the digital boob jobs, and it’s good to see the new instalments have strengthened her character to this end.
The biggest issue that lets this original Raider down is the control system. Way back then, analogue sticks weren’t the norm on the original PlayStation, so in this iteration, you’ll have to make do with shonky d-pad controls. Given how integral the analogue stick is today, it really is quite jarring. Making precise leaps and jumps are instinctive in newer games, but this original version asks for the same precision with a looser handle on Lara’s movement. Sure, you can remap the Vita left stick to work as a faux d-pad, but it just isn’t the same. The lack of camera movement is also a significant issue, as keeping an eye out for nasties like bats and wolves becomes frustrating without any real idea where they’re coming from. Sure, you can hear them, but they’re usually somewhere out of view. The game does have a very handy auto aim system, rarely seen these days, but with multiple opponents, combat — usually one of the most enjoyable aspects — becomes a chore very quickly.
While the original suffers quite a bit, there is an alternate option with Tomb Raider Anniversary. It’s a PSP game (also on PS2, if you’re still rocking one of those) which runs on the Vita fairly well. The visual makeover alone is very welcome. That said, this version also has its own issues. While control problems are almost gone (be sure to map the right stick to L+R for camera control), Anniversary introduces QTEs in key areas, in particular a key boss battle. That, plus a slightly easier overall experience, and some odd framerate issues, makes it a difficult decision to between the two.
If you’re thinking of heading back to one of the gems of the PS1 era, be sure to heed these warnings. Visual fuzz and control issues aside, this is a solid older title worth looking at. However, those aforementioned issues leave a permanent stain on a game that has, at least partially, aged quite a bit.
Developer: Core Design
Publisher: Eidos Interactive (now Square Enix)
Versions tested: Vita, PS3 (PSN Classic), Vita (PSN Anniversary)
Full disclosure: James already owned Tomb Raider before this review. James purchased Anniversary Edition for this review.
Playstation Plus secures a winner, but has the charm gone?
Back in 2012 when Fez first appeared on Xbox 360, critics and players were won over by the charm and the joy of Polytron’s indie puzzler. The 8-bit visuals hit all the correct nostalgia buttons and ensured the title became an indie hit among Xbox players. Hell, it got Eurogamers ‘Game of the Year’ that year, no small feat.
However, it seemed the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding Fez became more prominent than the game itself in gamers minds. The now pseudo-celebrity and Fez designer Phil Fish, whilst clearly extremely talented was sort of a loose cannon, the most telling of this would be looking at Indie Game: The Movie, which chronicles the last days of development on Fez, a development time of five years, no less. Two and a half Call of Duty’s are made in that time.
The legal issues surrounding the game led to Fish leaving the industry. Subsequently, Fez 2 will now never see the light of day.
Still, how has the PS4/PS3/Vita port fared? It’s good. Real good. But it’s not as fun as it was back then.
If you’ve never played Fez, what we have is a two-dimensional platformer set in a 3D world. You play as Gomez – a weird looking white thing with a big head -, who is super happy living his two-dimensional life until he witnesses a golden hexahedron explode before him, tearing the dimensional fabric of his existence. For some reason he receives a Fez, a Fez with the power to jump into the third-dimension. Once the game seemingly reboots itself and glitch, the game returns and you can rotate your viewing angle 90 degrees left or right around the gaming world that reveals four different views of the 3D space that Gomez occupies. The game is built around how your environment can interact between the views, new paths appear and platforms materialise before you. Something broken on one side can become solid on another etc..
Gomez can jump between ledges, although he can’t jump far. If you’re jumping down prepare to die alot. Gomez dies an awful lot, luckily he just respawns where he was standing so all is well. The aim of the game is to collect small fractions of the giant hexahedron to re-establish the original universe built around you. There’s plenty of puzzling, timing and some damn good platforming to be done to ensure this happens. Fez isn’t easy, and it’s what makes it compelling.
The charm seems to have gone though. There have been plenty of indie copycats of Fez since its release and one could argue they’ve taken this idea and made it better (Monument Valley comes to mind). Just because Fez did it first doesn’t necessarily mean it did it the best. You don’t really get pally with Gomez, instead you fling him from one platform to another, throwing bombs at doors, rotating his viewing angle and jumping to grab yellow cubes. There’s simply no denying the heart and soul that’s in this game, it’s a beautiful creation on the outside and the music is brilliant – interestingly it seems to sound like an 8bit version of the PS4 home screen music. It isn’t, but it certainly reminded me of it whilst I was playing.
You get the meet characters along the way but they don’t really do much to help your cause. If you’re ready to dig in Fez has plenty to offer and is a nice time-waster. It’s spiritual home across the three platforms is undoubtedly the PSVita. Platforms have seemingly always suited handhelds and the Vita is a great system to play Fez.
Ultimately though, it seems the magic has been lost. No rose-tinted glasses here, the best days of Fez are most certainly behind it.
But hey, it’s free. So for that reason, you have no excuse not to at least give it a shot.
See how FEZ compares to everything else in the PSGamer Review Leader Board here.