In the gaming world, there is no escape from the never-ending console wars. Every year at E3, developers battle it out to see who has the best and most promising software and hardware to impress their audience.
Although the wars generally are waged between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft and their major home consoles, there are also handheld systems that keep the companies alive. When thinking of handhelds, many may immediately mention the Nintendo 3DS, one of Nintendo’s most popular products.
However, the PS Vita, Sony’s latest handheld, is often overlooked. During this year’s E3 conference, there was a notable lack of Vita support from Sony, who, according to IGN, will persist in making any more AAA games from major developers. If there are no “major titles”, then what is there to play on the Vita? Some of the most prominent titles are JRPGs.
The PS Vita is an amazing system for Japanese games, being one of the best consoles for fans of this particular genre. For those who are not into JRPGs, the Vita library may appear to be lackluster, especially since many titles are also available on PS3 or PS4 systems. However, there are several amazing titles that can appeal to both hardcore JRPG fans and any gamer alike.
So if you’re looking for some of the best PS Vita games to play, we’ve got you covered with the best JRPGs on the console. Below are ten games that have received critical acclaim and are must-buys for any Vita owner:
10. Muramasa Rebirth
Originally a Nintendo Wii title called Muramasa The Demon Blade by Vanillaware, Muramasa Rebirth was revamped for the Vita, with new features, characters, and quests. This action RPG follows the two, intertwining stories of Momohime, a princess possessed by a spirit, and Kisuke, a ninja on the run.
With fun action hack-and-slash style gameplay mixed with RPG mechanics, Muramasa Rebirth is definitely a must-play title. It is also worth noting that in the Vita version, four new playable characters were added, each with their own story arcs with additional bosses. Both the story and the beautiful 2D environments will pull any gamer into the vast unique world of Muramasa.
9. Dragon’s Crown
Developed by Atlus and Vanillaware, Dragon’s Crown provides a unique and satisfying 2D action RPG adventure. It is set in a medieval fantasy world named Hydeland, where sorcerers, warriors, and heroes long to find the legendary Dragon’s Crown, a treasure must be found before it falls into the wrong hands.
Players have the option between six characters, each with their own unique fighting styles, appearances, and attributes. One unique part about this game is the help of player avatars, companions that assist you in battle, ranging from elves to wizards. Environments, like Muramasa, are beautiful 2D works of art. The game also seems to be heavily inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, with the setting, class systems, and narration style. The many character choices, co-op, and online multiplayer features also add to the content of this game, making it a lasting title to play.
8. Freedom Wars
Many PS Vita games, as well as handheld games in general, lack high-end multiplayer capabilities. Freedom Wars, however, offers a refreshing experience that appeals to both casual and hardcore gamers. Featuring an intriguing underground dystopian society with a fully customizable protagonist, Freedom Wars follows the life of a prisoner with amnesia, sentenced to 1,000,000 years for simply living.
In order to work off one’s sentence and unlock privileges, players must undergo dangerous missions on the surface, featuring battles with fierce enemies and rescue missions. Story mode and multiplayer mode work hand in hand, so that players can jump between what they like. Monster Hunter fans will also find the gameplay familiar. If you pick up this game, be prepared to serve additional time for resting, since nearly everything is considered a crime.
7. Final Fantasy X-X2 HD
A digital remake of the classic PS2 games, Final Fantasy X-X2, has made its way to all of Sony’s major platforms. The story follows Tidis on a journey to the fantasy world of Spira with the summoner named Yuna. Final Fantasy is known for its unique turn-based gameplay, sphere grid, and job system.
X2 features Yuna as a protagonist with an all-female cast. Final Fantasy X and X2 are arguably two of the best games the series has to offer. The gameplay of this remake is practically identical to the original games, but features redefined graphics and different musical rearrangements. Fans of the Ps2 release or any RPG should pick up the Vita version, especially since it offers an on-the-go option to take Final Fantasy wherever you go.
6. Tales of Hearts R
The DS game never released in the US, Tales of Hearts found its way worldwide through the release of Tales of Hearts R, a Vita exclusive. In this action RPG, players follow the story of Kouhaku, a young girl whose Spira, or hearts and emotions, were broken into several pieces and spread across the world.
The protagonist alongside his companions, must restore her Spira while figuring out who is behind all of this. The story features dark undertones masked by the cheerful appearance of the characters. Gameplay, like all Tales of series, is interesting in that it involves pushing a series of buttons, resulting in attacks that inflict damage on the enemy in real time. Not only is Tales of Hearts R one of the only titles for handhelds, but it also offers several hours of gameplay and an original story that will keep players busy for a long time.
5. Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
Featuring the unforgettable adventures of the vampire ruler/prinny-instructor Valvatorez, Disgaea 4 is an absolute must-play for fans of strategy RPGs. Featuring unique, over-the-top combat that can only be found in a Disgaea game, it surely doesn’t disappoint, with an interesting sense of humor and a great cast of characters that strive to maintain the balance of good and evil in the Underworld.
The difference between the Vita and original PS3 version features the inclusion of all available DLC, new weapon shops, new playable characters, and new gameplay elements to improve on the original version. There are also new storylines that are exclusive to the Vita release. This results in Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited being the definitive edition of the original, making it all worthwhile to check out.
4. Ys: Memories of Celceta
Ys is a notable RPG series that has very little presence outside of Japan. However, despite not having several of the titles localized, Ys: Memories of Celceta made it’s way westside. Following the continuing tale of Adol Christin, Ys: Memories of Celceta focuses on piecing together lost memories of the amnesiac protagonist. At times, the memories of Adol will come back to him, which is interesting from a player standpoint.
Players can use these cues as clues or information that may be of value later in the game. Combat is fun and simple, involving three attack types that are effective against each other, slash, strike, and pierce. Similar to Tales of, Ys has real time combat and a number of commands that can be issued to certain buttons in order to be used effectively. One of the biggest selling points this game has is the exploration, featuring one of the largest worlds a handheld system has to offer. Fans of Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles will find themselves getting lost in the intricate world that Ys: Memories of Celceta has to offer.
3. Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1,2, and 3
Let’s Nep Nep! The Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth series probably is one of the most niche and unique games that the Vita has to offer. Imagine the ongoing console wars, only personified as female goddesses who represent their respective consoles, ruling over the land of Gameindustri, fighting for shares in order to keep their powers alive.
The Hyperdimension Re;birth titles are a refreshing break from serious games, as it is an intelligently written parody of the gaming world that often breaks the fourth wall. At first glance, many may say the game is a fanservice-heavy title featuring mindless moe characters. However, the goddesses of Neptunia are considered strong female leads and even say they are at one point through the dialogue.
The Re;birth series is a remake that vastly improves upon the PS3 original core titles, implementing the gameplay style of Hyperdimension Neptunia: Victory, adding additional content, and rewriting parts of the story. Re;birth is not simply a port, it’s an entirely new experience for any fans of the series. Expect many game references and characters that represent the various companies and developers that exist in this world today, such as quotes like, “It’s dangerous to go alone, take Nep.”
2. Akiba’s Trip 2: Undead and Undressed
Akiba’s Trip 2 can be seen in a three ways. Either it’s the most extensive virtual tour of Tokyo’s Akihabara district, one of the weirdest game concepts ever made, or both. Akiba’s Trip 2, like Hyperdimension Neptunia, is a parody game that is flooded with references to games, anime, and Japanese pop culture. It follows the rather unusual journey of the protagonist and his quest to stop otaku vampires, or Synthesizers, from overtaking the city.
How, you wonder? By stripping off their clothes in hack-and-slash style combat and letting them burn in the sunlight! Although the plot sounds horrible on paper, it’s nothing but pure fun. The protagonist also has several love interests that make this game both an action RPG and a dating sim. In addition to the main story, players have the option of taking on several hilarious side quests such as convincing a Yaoi fangirl to seek intervention for her obsession as well as a teenager’s plead to stop her mother from cosplaying Hatsune Miku. Akiba’s Trip 2, although not a long game by any means, has extensive content to keep players interested. There are so many weapons, ranging from waifu pillows to tennis racquets.
Perhaps one of the most unique features is that there are over a hundred stores that are identical to the real-life Akihabara, in which players can visit and buy items. If this game doesn’t make you want to visit Japan, nothing will.
1. Persona 4 Golden
One of the sole reasons to buy a Playstation Vita, Persona 4 Golden is the best JRPG the PS Vita has to offer. The Persona series is known for high-quality games and stories that keep players busy and entertained. Originally a spin-off from Atlus’s Shin Megami Tensei series, Persona made its own presence as a series of its own, featuring school life combined with a fantasy world setting in which the world must be saved through the power of a persona, a being that is a manifestation of one’s self.
Heavily rooted in Freudian and Jungian psychology, the Persona series focuses on discovering one’s true self through bonds represented by tarot cards. Originally a PS2 game, Persona 4 is known for its realistic setting and well-written, multidimensional characters that complement the setting and story beautifully.
Set in the rural town of Inaba, Yu Narukami, the protagonist who has transferred from a large city, must balance day-to-day school life while exploring dungeons in the Shadow World, a place manifested by one’s emotions and feelings. Due to a string of mysterious murders and disappearances, Yu and his friends must discover the truth behind Inaba’s secret, which might even mean the end of the world itself.
What’s unique about Persona 4 is the multiple game elements that make the entirety of the game experience. Combat involves Pokemon-like elements in which the player uses powers such as Garu (wind) and Agi (fire) to exploit the enemy’s weaknesses and win the battle. Dungeons have many floors, with minibosses and bosses that stand in the way. If the player does not feel like battling on a specific day, that is where the social sim and dating sim elements kick in.
Social links, perhaps the most prominent addition to the Persona series, involve a series of ranks in which the protagonist bonds with those around town. Bonds are important because if a bond is linked to a specific tarot card, the demon or persona used is stronger. Each social link is a great way to peer into a party member or NPCs life, adding to the deep characterization and overall setting. There are also other activities to do to increase stats. Maybe you feel like studying in the library in order to increase academics, or perhaps folding paper cranes will earn some well-earned cash, among other things.
What makes Persona 4 Golden an even better version of Persona 4 is all of the additional content. In Persona 4, the game went from April-December. However, in Persona 4 Golden, an additional two months are added, January and February, along with new events, dialogue, and an additional dungeon to complete. Golden also adds two new characters and social links, as well as another ending. Other events and features are sprinkled throughout the entire “school year” from receiving a scooter license to playing in a school band to a beach trip.
Difficulty levels were also added to appeal to both casual and hardcore players. Overall, the new additions revamp the PS2 classic, making it a worthwhile title for new and old fans, since nearly 30 hours of extra content was added to the game. Persona 4 is a long game already, but this addition will keep players busy for a while. It is a beloved title that will not only go down as one of the best RPGs of all time but also one of the best PS Vita games of all time.
The PS Vita is not dead. There are several titles that make buying the system worthwhile. However, people who do not like RPGs or Japanese games may have a harder time finding PS Vita games to play. One thing is for sure: the Vita is a memorable system in its own right, having some really fantastic exclusive titles and becoming the best system for fans of JRPGs. Games are definitely still being made and localized across the globe, serving as a bright future to the underrated game console, the PS Vita.