Eurogamer's best games lists aim to guide you to the highest quality, most original, most exciting games around today. Each regularly updated list presents between 10 and 20 varied games that we think would make a fine foundation for any game collection.
What a strange journey it's been for Sony's PlayStation Vita. First billed as the handheld that could give you all the pizazz of home console gaming on the move, its role and purpose has moved on significantly since its western launch back in 2012. That's probably for the better, too - games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and WipEout 2048 weren't short on spectacle, and if you're looking to see what exactly the Vita's capable of there's still no better place to look than that pairing. It turns out playing slightly watered down versions of home console staples wasn't what people wanted after all, though, and since then the Vita's turned into something far more interesting: an indie powerhouse that's home to an esoteric blend of games, and one that's become a pretty much indispensable companion to the PlayStation 4 thanks to its incredible Remote Play capabilities.
Here, then, are some of our own picks for what's best to pick up on the Vita if you're diving in right now - and whenever you're not grinding out some Vanguard marks in Destiny while sitting on the toilet, or seeing off a quest line in The Witcher 3 while lying in bed.
Sadly somewhat overlooked when it arrived alongside the Vita at launch, this is a wonderful extension of ClapHanz' long-running golf series. Indeed, of that launch line-up it's Everybody's Golf that's the most worthy of returning to, its rich fairways and oh-so-adorable sugar pop Japanese style as endearing now as it was back then. Everybody's Golf is a sumptuous looking game, its aesthetic really popping on that delicious screen as it sells you on its own pastoral whimsy. It helps, too, that this is an excellent golf game, with a slow, easy rhythm that makes it the perfect companion to a long, lazy summer weekend away.Buy Everybody's Golf from Amazon
Fez belongs on Vita because Phil Fish's Proustian platformer is a pocket universe, and it's a treat to be able to hold that universe in your hands and stare down into it. The main idea here is that the game plays out as you explore a 2D world that is actually a 3D world that you can rotate on its axis in order to navigate. The reason Fez is so magical, though, is because it relies on its heart more than its brain, avoiding combat and taxing reaction platforming in favour of a measured retreat to the days where games were heartfelt and individual and obviously labours of love. The deepest mysteries to Fez require a pen and paper to solve them, but the first time round they also required a community - a gang of enchanted players spread across the globe wondering just how deep the rabbit hole went. Fez is a marvel.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Thanks to the breadth of the original PlayStation's back catalogue, a sizeable part of which is available to download and play on the Vita via the PlayStation Store, it's perfectly possible to have the first ten Final Fantasy games in your pocket - all of which should be enough to keep you going for a lifetime or two. The crowning part of any such collection would surely be the recent remasters of Final Fantasy 10 and 10-2, the two entries that set the series on its more modern trajectory, for better and for worse. While some elements have dated - we'd happily never play a game of Blitzball again, thank you very much - the ability to carry around such a rich, detailed world with you in a truly defining RPG is an opportunity that probably shouldn't be missed.Buy Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster from Amazon
Slick, surreal and totally charming, Gravity Rush harks back to a golden age of gaming from the not too distant past - a time when the likes of Jet Set Radio made us all fall in love with a very Japanese aesthetic. This third-person adventure that combines light combat with delirious, free-wheeling exploration could have been right at home on the Dreamcast, in fact, but it's another one of those games designed to work exclusively on the Vita, making the most of that glorious screen and all those fiddly inputs. It's quite a clumsy game, all told, as you struggle to manoeuvre its protagonist Kat through rich environments, but it is deliberately so. Master it, though, and you're afforded the beauty of flight, which has never felt as intoxicating as it does here.Buy Gravity Rush from Amazon
Before this there were already two excellent mainline LittleBigPlanet games, courtesy of Media Molecule - though there's a very good argument that this handheld offshoot, from Tarsier Studios, is the best of the bunch. What makes it so special? It's partly in how every facet of the Vita is put to great use, but also through how much fun Tarsier has clearly had in putting it all together. Creating new levels has always been a large part of LittleBigPlanet's appeal, but now actually playing what's put before you by the developers is just as much fun.BuyLittleBigPlanet Vita from Amazon
You really can't go wrong with Vlambeer, the marvellous indie duo behind Ridiculous Fishing, and the Vita's home to two of the developer's very best. Super Crate Box, available via PlayStation Mobile, is a quick-fire treat, but Luftrausers is the pick of the pair. A shooter with absolutely majestic controls, the delight in Luftrausers comes in how readily Vlambeer deconstructs the form thanks to the many different loadouts you can equip on your plane. This is a shooter that's at its best when you're not even shooting - and that's quite an achievement.
Lumines: Electronic Symphony
How's this for hyperbole - until the mighty Drop7, Lumines was the best thing to happen to puzzle games since Tetris. There's truth in that statement, as there is in pointing out that Q Entertainment's rhythm-infused formula has never been better than in Electronic Symphony, the Vita exclusive iteration that weaves in a more contemporary, more recognisable soundtrack. There's more than a slick selection of new beats, too, with a shuffle block that acts as a welcome agent of chaos, and a handful of new modes that help break down Lumines' marathon sessions into something a little more manageable.Buy Lumines: Electronic Symphony from Amazon
Minecraft: PS Vita Edition
What is there left to say about Minecraft? It's an hour-sapping sandbox, a unique survival simulation, a communal construction project, it's whatever you want it to be. Minecraft had existed on portable platforms before PlayStation Vita, but only via Mojang's stripped-back Mobile Edition. For PlayStation Vita, console developer 4J Studios has managed the impressive feat of shrinking its ever-evolving PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One edition onto Sony's smallest screen. If you have Minecraft on PS3 then this version of the ubiquitous blocky sandbox is available free via Cross-Buy, and if you go on to pick up the PS4 version afterwards you can then get that at a discount. You can even continue your hard-built worlds from the PS3 version while on the go - and that's something you have to dig.Buy Minecraft from Amazon
Remember Super RC Pro-Am, Rare's excellent Game Boy racer that had you pitting squat, lively remote control cars around a series of isometric tracks? Someone at Evolution Studios clearly does, because that forgotten classic feels very much like the inspiration for this diminutive, delightful spin-off of the MotorStorm series. The cut-down tracks and top-down view are perfect for handhelds, of course, but so too is the structure, its events only taking up a couple of minutes apiece while it's threaded with leaderboard competition that keeps you coming back for more.
The skateboarding genre, once so crowded, has fallen fallow in recent years, and it's taken a game like OlliOlli to remind us what we're missing. Not that this 2D, quickfire skating game is overly similar to the likes of Tony Hawks, though it does share the same thrill of chasing a high-score, and the same satisfaction of busywork with your fingers leading to a perfectly executed combination. What developer roll7 has achieved here is arguably better than the skating games that have gone before - something purer, more expressive and ultimately much more fun to play, and something that's absolutely perfect for the PlayStation Vita.
Persona 4 The Golden
Big games don't always fit well on small consoles, but Persona 4 Golden proves that the opposite can sometimes be true: this epic JRPG which has the ability to consume whole seasons has found a perfect match on the Vita, having previously existed on the PlayStation 2. It's a big game, yes, but Persona 4's real charm is in its more diminutive subject matter, its dungeon crawling fit around the everyday concerns of a teenage school kid in rural Japan, a life that's observed with a real warmth and eye for detail even as it folds in more supernatural elements. All of which has been enough to ensure Persona 4 has become something of a cult favourite, and perhaps the real standout game in the Vita's library.Buy Persona 4 Golden from Amazon
There is something wonderfully architectural about Housemarque's attempt to bring the side-scrolling Defender template into the age of modern consoles. Brilliantly, it's mostly about architecture coming apart, with each enemy, each power-up, and the hulking space-gothic background to each level composed to tiny little voxel cubes that can't wait to erupt under laser fire. The eye candy has survived the transition from the PS4 surprisingly well, and there's a wonderful rhythm to Resogun that remains untouched too. At its highest difficulties, this is a game where memory is as important as reactions, as you race from one wave of enemies to the next, dodging and dashing to keep your multiplier intact. Legendary stuff.Buy Resogun from Amazon
Rogue Legacy sees you venturing into a deadly castle loaded with ghosts and skeletons and all manner of traps. The twist is that when you die, it's not quite game over. The castle rearranges itself, your enemies return in force, and you head back in again, as another generation of your old hero's family, blessed with an ailment or genetic surprise that will change the way the game plays. It's entertaining stuff, whether you're colour-blind, suffering from Alzheimer's, or merely terribly afraid of chickens. Beyond that, there's a skill tree to work your way through and a series of road-block bosses that force you to master the basic platforming and combat. Rogue Legacy is not quite Spelunky, but it's clever and funny and charismatic in its own right. And, man is it afraid of chickens.
Rymdkapsel's a model of efficiency, a minimalist strategy game that's perfectly formed. You have to colonise four monoliths, each one augmenting part of your space station, and make sure you complete your extensions in time to safely ensconce your tiny people in weapons rooms before the next alien attack wave. You don't even need to tell them what to do; they're autodidactic. It's a game about efficiency, and its efficiently told, from its flat colour-coded aesthetic, its dreamy ambient music and its abstract sci-fi setting. They're all the little touches that make you come back to Rymdkapsel 100 times rather than just the once.
The appeal of the Vita's version of Derek Yu's procedurally-scrambled dungeon crawler is not hard to pinpoint: it is a version of Spelunky that you can play in bed, early on a Sunday morning, say, when the day stretches ahead of you and you need a little disaster to get you moving. Spelunky certainly provides disaster, as you venture again and again into mines, jungles, ice caverns and temples whose objectives remain fixed but whose enemies and layouts never appear in quite the same arrangements twice. Vita's Spelunky was initially cursed with slowdown when things got busy, but a patch has done away with that, and this is now on a par with its PC and PS4 brethren. It's even got the Daily Challenges, too, which allows you to measure your platforming skills against the rest of the world. See you in the top 100.
Super StarDust Delta
Housemarque's made a name for itself by dolling up arcade's gloriously hectic past with shiny, glittering visuals, and more particle effects than you properly know what to do with. It works beautifully on Super Stardust Delta, where the developer's twin-stick shooter that sees you moving with one thumbstick and blasting with another bring's the Vita's unbeatable screen to life. The gimmick here is to wrap the arena around a 3D sphere, which means that you never know quite watch you're rushing into. The deeper brilliance, though, lies with the peerless enemy wave choreography and some wonderfully villainous bosses.
There's no other piece of hardware quite like the Vita, and fittingly enough there's no other game quite like Tearaway, LittleBigPlanet creator Media Molecule's warm-hearted attempt to reach all the places on Sony's handheld other developers dare venture. This is an adventure game that has you peering into its papercraft world thanks to the Vita's front-facing camera, and one that has you poking and probing the oh-so-touchable surfaces. Tearaway's a slight game, and hardly a challenging one, but that's not so much of a concern when it's such a disarmingly charming one.Buy Tearaway from Amazon
Thanks to some overzealous work from the new Atari, Jeff Minter's TxK is unlikely to ever find its way to any other platforms, which is something of a shame - and gives you absolutely no excuse not to pick it up. A return to the Tempest formula that's occupied Minter various times over the past two decades, this is perhaps his most electrifying take on it yet, a slick, hypnotic old school shooter whose eccentric edges hide some seriously well-tuned mechanics. This isn't just another game leaning on the aesthetic and ideals of 80s classics - in the fierce, abstract gunplay as you wrestle against the leaderboards, this is very much the real deal.
Compiled by the Eurogamer editorial team and written by Martin Robinson, Christian Donlan and Tom Phillips. For more on our best games lists and how they are curated, read our editor's blog.
Will you support Eurogamer?