The PlayStation Vita launches in Japan this weekend, and with the North American launch right around the corner, there's no better time to get caught up on some of the biggest games coming to Sony's new handheld system. We've taken a look at a select number of launch games that will be accompanying the system on store shelves and have broken them down into helpful, handheld-friendly terms that everyone can understand. Be sure to check back early next week for more coverage on the Vita hardware and the Japanese launch.
Games for the Plane
With fully voiced cutscenes starring everyone's favorite treasure hunter, the first portable entry in the Uncharted series doesn't look like it will be skimping on the familiar style of cinematic storytelling. Some of the new Vita features include tapping on ledges and handholds to climb across environments, as well as moving the system around to aim your gun via the built-in gyroscope.
The Vita is the first major handheld to offer dual thumbsticks, so you should be able to play this sci-fi first-person shooter for hours on end without having to toss the system aside with that all-too-familiar sense of frustration we've all felt while playing a portable FPS. Touch-screen controls include the ability to tap exactly where you want your grenade to go before you throw it.
The original Little Big Planet won hearts with its charming arts-and-crafts visual design, as well as an extensive level editor that let players create their own stages. The Vita version also looks charming, but what really has us excited about this game is the way touch-screen controls should make level creation substantially more intuitive than fiddling with a PlayStation 3 controller.
EA has had a spotty track record when it comes to releasing portable versions of its popular sports franchises. (We scored the first Madden entry 3DS game a whopping 4 out of 10.) But everything we've seen of FIFA on the Vita suggests that this game looks and plays like its console brethren--right down to full announcer commentary. Its Vita-specific features include passing by tapping on a player and aiming your shots with the rear touch panel.
Games for the Bus
This 2D puzzle platformer has an interesting black-and-white art design that gives it the look of an old-timey art-house movie. Your job is to navigate through a series of elaborately constructed death traps using a variety of touch-screen and motion-sensing control schemes.
The frenetic fighters come to Sony's handheld complete with all 50 fighters and touch-screen controls for over-the-top combos. Additionally, the Vita's Wi-Fi capabilities let you record and share replays, and its PlayStation 3 connectivity options turn the Vita into a controller while playing the PS3 version of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Excelsior!
While Mario Kart's status as the greatest karting series of all time has been carved in stone seven times over, ModNation Racers is one of the best alternatives you can find. This signature track creation tools from the series are coming to the Vita, with the ability to design track layouts with the drag of a finger.
While this third-person shooter may look like a portable version of SOCOM (it is, after all, developed by the same studio that created that series), it's actually an arcade-inspired game where you try to rack up high scores and make it onto the leaderboards. It's that score attack system combined with its traditional shooter gameplay that should make this game work for medium-length play sessions.
Games for the "Office"
It wouldn't be a new system launch without a minigame compilation of some kind, and that's exactly the space that this game occupies. It's got a thoroughly goofy sense of humor and more than enough eccentricity to spare. The minigame nature of Little Deviants means it will use pretty much every control scheme the system can offer, including some augmented-reality games that use the system's rear camera.
The first Lumines, a block-dropping puzzle game with a big focus on music, was one of the best titles available during the early days of the PSP. The series will arrive on Sony's latest handheld with Electronic Symphony, which lets you use touch inputs to move your blocks on the screen and fully synchronizes the dance music to all of your actions.
Like Lumines, Sound Shapes is a game where all of your actions and button presses affect the musical soundscape. It's a 2D platformer, so you can pick up and play individual levels for short gaming sessions, but there's also a deep level editor if you want to extend your gameplay longer.
The Katamari series made a name for itself with an eccentric sense of humor and gameplay that involved rolling a ball around that picked up random items, people, cars, and, eventually, entire planets. The series returns with Touch My Katamari, which lets you morph the shape of your katamari ball using the Vita's touch-screen controls.
Want to see more? Keep an eye on GameSpot over the upcoming weeks to see coverage of other launch games we didn't get around to showing here, including Gravity Rush, Wipeout 2048, Hustle Kings, and Ridge Racer.