The past twelve months have proved mixed for Sony's miniscule machine. While the platform holder managed to put an end to the disappointing software droughts that plagued the PlayStation Vita in 2012, the portable powerhouse failed to really realise its sales potential yet again – despite a sizeable price drop and some stellar software. While the Japanese giant pins its hopes on Remote Play resurrecting the flagging format's commercial fortunes, though, we reckon that these titles were system sellers all on their own.
Bronze Trophy: Tearaway
With the outrageously imaginative studio behind LittleBigPlanet at the helm, it's no real surprise that Media Molecule's adorable Tearaway was one of the most anticipated first-party projects in production for Sony's slimline system at the start of the year. Sadly, an unfortunate delay meant that Iota and Atoi's creative excursion got crumpled by the stampede of excitement surrounding the arrival of Sony's next generation system. However, that didn't prevent a percentage of sharp Vita owners from prodding and poking their way through one of the most adorable adventures of 2013. A slender running time prevented the title from taking home top marks, but its carefully considered controls and effortless charm forced it to flutter to the front of our poll like a perfectly crafted paper plane.
Silver Trophy: Killzone: Mercenary
A masterful achievement in visual engineering, Killzone: Mercenary was assembled with a single objective in mind: to produce the best looking handheld game that has ever been made. And from that perspective, the gun-heavy experience was an explosive success. With character models, textures, and even set-pieces that would give the PlayStation 3 a run for its blood money, 2013's other big daytrip to the Alpha Centauri System was just as impressive as its next generation co-conspirator. As is customary for the sci-fi series, the shady black market storyline was about as memorable as a sherry-fuelled sing-song – but the varied level design and unexpectedly impressive multiplayer gave this game's graphics a reason to shine.
Gold Trophy: Persona 4 Golden
[ Editor's note: No, we haven't gone mad – we know that Persona 4 Golden launched last year in North America. However, for the purposes of this poll we employed European dates, making Atlus' JRPG eligible for this award. ]
If you had told us that our favourite Vita game of 2013 was going to be a conversion of a PlayStation 2 title, we probably would have believed you – after all, the joke that Sony's handheld 'has no games' is still doing the rounds almost two years after its initial release. Thankfully, Persona 4 Golden is everything that a port should be, and more. Hours of additional content and several new gameplay features coupled with an already incredible JRPG means that it's one of the best titles available on the portable system. Who needs original releases?
Persona 4 Golden really is the complete package. It has an amazing story, charming characters, intense combat, and huge amounts of gameplay. Indeed, you'll be hard pressed to find an RPG as polished and well designed as this one – and whether you're new to the genre or an expert in the field, this is the very definition of a must play. – Push Square
Robert Ramsey's Thoughts:
"Between diving into a television to rough up some shadows and roaming around the innocent little town of Inaba to make friends with complete strangers, Persona 4 Golden weaves a contrasting but incredibly engaging mix of gameplay. For me, it's not only the jewel in the Vita's crown, but one of the best JRPGs ever made – its sense of style and overall quality is almost unmatched."
Clearly our writers don't, as Atlus' masterpiece ran rampant in our staff vote. And who can blame us? It's difficult to think of any particular flaw when it comes to this mind-blowingly stylish, high school-based, shadow-slaying romp. From the brilliantly produced musical score to the eye-catching artwork and even the menu design, Persona 4 Golden oozes polish. Over the 70-hour adventure, we've come to know the game's cast like real-life friends, learning of their troubles, hopes, and dreams – and then when we think that the adventure is over, that New Game Plus manages to tempt us back all over again.
What was your favourite Vita game of 2013? Do you agree with our winners, or would you have selected something else? Cast your vote and share your thoughts in the comments section and poll below.
What was your favourite Vita game of 2013? (52 votes)
OMG HD Zombies
Persona 4 Golden
PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD
Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark
Thomas Was Alone
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