When the PlayStation Vita is discussed, some will say it had no games and those who actually played it will say its lineup is phenomenal; the part of it they will especially hype up is its smorgasbord of RPGs, including those of the Japanese variety. While it’s true the Vita’s RPG lineup is stellar, I’ve always loved the console for something not talked about as much – its platformer options.
The Vita is packed with a ton of all time platforming classics. The PS2 holy trinity, Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter, are all available to play on the Vita, with the original trilogies of each franchise available. While the Jak & Daxter port has me dreaming about frame rate drops in my sleep, the Sly and Ratchet ports are good and the games fit the Vita perfectly. Each franchise’s PSP offerings are also available, including the incredible Daxter and Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. This is true if you go even further back, as the Vita also allows the native playing of numerous PlayStation One classics like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Ape Escape and more. If you’re someone who appreciates 3D platformers or are someone who missed their market dominance and want to see what all the fuss was about, the Vita is a phenomenal portal for it.
The throwbacks are great, but the Vita’s own offerings are just as spectacular. Tearaway is not only a game that defines the system as a great console for platformers, but it’s THE defining platformer of the generation. Its creativity and level design is at a level I haven’t seen in a long time, and the way it uses the Vita’s features to enhance the gameplay rather than to shoehorn a gimmick in for the sake of variety is incredible. Its charm is what pushes it over the top into classic territory – one of the main aspects of platformers from the genre’s prime era was how lighthearted and straight up FUN the releases were, and in that area Tearaway rivals even the best of them. I don’t wanna talk about it much more as I plan on doing an entire article on this masterpiece in the future, but in short Tearaway is a once in a generation experience that I implore you to play. While it did receive a heavily modified PS4 version, its original Vita release is the best way to play through this gem.
While Tearaway is the crowning achievement of 3D platformers on the Vita, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is its 2D apex. While some would debate that given just how many great 2D platformers the Vita has (Sound Shapes, Mutant Blobs Attack, etc.), I believe LittleBigPlanet is the best one the system has to offer. Like Tearaway, it takes a superb formula and not only nails it due to great ideas and level design, but enhances it through the collection of unique features the Vita has. Manipulating the world through the touchscreen and gyroscope is satisfying and naturally compliments the core gameplay, and adding in photos without having to do anything externally allows you to add your personality and connect with the game in an easy and amusing way. Its level design features are also fantastic as they allow so many things to be made – not only can you create your own 2D platformer, but with enough playing around people have made pinball, Flappy Bird, RPG’s and more. It gave the Vita its own, free arcade. While you should come and stay for the platforming, it’s a nice activity to do when you’re looking for a fix of something else too.
On top of its own games, the Vita also received ports of a plethora of classics that debuted on other consoles too. As well of the original PS One Raymans, the Vita has both Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends, two stellar 2D platformers that are right at home in a portable setting. As nice as that is, what especially makes Legends appealing is the fact that the Vita version is the best way to play it, as it comes with extra touchscreen based missions and functionality that the main console ports didn’t get. Their gorgeous graphics pop on the OLED screen (and on the LCD screen of the 2000 model), and the games in general are just bursting with charisma and amusement.
I could go on and on about the Vita’s superb platforming lineup, but I’ll leave it at my main picks so this article doesn’t become a novel. Everything I’ve covered, combined with games like Gravity Rush that merge unique platforming with other genres, make the PlayStation Vita a phenomenal home for great platforming experiences, and if you’re looking for that on the go then there’s no better location than #VitaIsland.
What are your favourite PS Vita platformers, be they Vita exclusive, a port, a classic or otherwise? Tell me in the comments below or on my Twitter profile @JoshsJots. Also make sure to follow me there for more Vita articles, as I plan to upload a new Vita article every Wednesday as well as on the anniversary of every Vita game I’ve played.