The launch of a new gaming system is an exciting time. Not only do we get a shiny new toy to play with, but the software that accompanies new hardware can sometimes offer a window into the future of gaming.
Of course, not every launch title is destined to become a timeless classic, but a solid launch lineup can go a long way toward helping a new console establish a foothold in the market. That's a good thing for the PlayStation Vita, which arrives in stores this week with one of the most impressive launch-day lineups ever.
They aren't all winners, however, and with more than two dozen games already available for the Vita, choosing the right ones can be a challenge. To help ensure you get the most out of your new Vita, here's a rundown of 12 of the system's best launch titles:
The best of the best
"Uncharted: Golden Abyss" (Sony, $49.99) - The PlayStation 3's flagship franchise arrives on the Vita will all of the bells and whistles of its console cousins. Controlling a young Nathan Drake feels just as responsive on the Vita as it does on the PS3, which is a good thing as "Golden Abyss" emphasizes action over story. "Uncharted" makes good use of the Vita's touch controls, but doesn't force them upon gamers who prefer to play in a more traditional fashion.
"Rayman: Origins" (Ubisoft, $39.99) - It's not often that a port is regarded as a must-have launch title, but this beautiful platformer shouldn't be missed. "Origins" is every bit as impressive on the Vita as it was when it released on consoles late last year. The bright color palette is an excellent showcase for the Vita's sharp OLED screen, and even though the game lacks the multiplayer support found on consoles, it remains one of the Vita's early gems.
"Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational" (Sony, $39.99) - It wouldn't be a Sony launch without a new edition of this popular arcade golf series. "HSG" retains the same visual stylings and gameplay that have made the franchise a hit, while making good use of the Vita's touchscreen controls. And with support for up to 30 players in online tournaments, this is the Vita's most impressive multiplayer title.
"Super Stardust Delta" (Sony, $9.99) - This twin-stick arcade shooter is a prime example of the unique portable experiences only available on the Vita. As beautiful as it is challenging, "Super Stardust Delta" is a steal at $10. And the addictive nature of trying to climb the global leaderboards make this easy to recommend.
"Escape Plan" (Sony, $14.99) - No launch title showcases the Vita's unique features quite like this downloadable puzzler. Guiding prisoners Lil and Laarg through a series of bite-sized levels using only the system's touchscreen, rear touchpad and Sixaxis functionality is an experience unlike any I've had before, though some later levels tested the limits of my dexterity. The black-and-white color scheme highlights the Vita's superb contrast levels and the overall presentation is top-notch.
"FIFA Soccer" (EA Sports, $39.99) - After years of getting short-changed by handheld consoles, sports gamers finally have a portable gaming system to call their own with the Vita, as evidenced by this amazing effort. "FIFA" is a full-featured sports sim, complete with many of the bells and whistles from last year's console release, including a full career mode. The Vita's touch controls can be used for passing and shooting, but I preferred to stick with the traditional control scheme. Hopefully future sports titles will follow the lead of "FIFA" and bring full-featured efforts to the Vita.