One of the great things about handheld consoles is the fact that you can use them absolutely anywhere. Despite Nintendo’s early successes with the NES and SNES, their main success stories over the last few decades have been the Gameboy range, the DS and now the runaway success of the Switch and it’s that portability that has made them popular with their owners everywhere. Certainly with the Vita that’s probably one of the main reasons why I was drawn to it so much. While we have a PlayStation 3 as our “main” household console, that’s become more of a home media centre over the last few years becoming a main source of entertainment for the whole family acting as our DVD and Blu Ray player and link to the global entertainment hub that is Netflix, Amazon, and all of the catch up TV services that we use on a daily basis. Gaming has become a secondary pursuit.
Infact, my two passions now when it comes to gaming is my extensive collection of retro gaming hardware and software and the PS Vita. In terms of games, the Vita offers me the right balance of titles and genres to meet my gaming needs exactly but its the flexibility it has that really helps it shine meaning that it fits perfectly into my lifestyle. As I said before, our main TV is shared amongst the family so it’s rare that I get to use the PS3 for gaming anymore. If I do then I’m usually relegated to using the “man cave” or grab time when (and wherever) I can so I need to be able to play wherever I can so I need something to hand at all times and the Vita is ideal in those situations. Whether I want to play for a few minutes or longer sessions it’s ideally suited no matter what. However it goes much further than that…
We live in quite a small village in South Wales and as we don’t own a car we’re dependent on public transport to get everywhere, Our nearest towns need a 30+ minute bus ride and our largest town takes in excess of an hour. It’s a laborious journey at the best of times but the idea of being able to spend that time playing games makes the trip all the more bearable each day, regardless of whether I’m playing a deep, involved RPG or a fast action shooter. Surprisingly though, that’s not the main time I get to use the PS Vita. Infact, I’m known for being something of a night owl so most of my gaming time on the PS Vita gets done – of all places – in bed…
As long as I’m not too tired, if I’m still awake and after my wife has usually gone to sleep, I’ll load up the Vita for an hour or so to unwind before finally settling down to sleep in our Bedstar bed myself. My gaming choice tends to change depending on my mood (as it does for all of us) but there are some I have found that are sure-fire winners for after dark gaming that really make the most of playing late at night…
Jeff Minter and his software company Llamasoft have never hidden their love of classic arcade games and almost every title they have released to-date has taken an arcade classic and added their own unique psychedelic twist to the visuals. TxK is no exception and has brought the definitive interpretation of Atari’s classic Tempest with stunning visuals and a soundtrack that will delight the ears, that’s only enhanced further with the lights out and sound thumping through a good pair of headphones. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Living where we do, we don’t have the greatest internet connection and having several of us in the house sharing the net all the time makes online gaming a nightmare. Playing after the rest of the family has gone to sleep becomes a real joy as I finally get all of our home bandwidth to myself. Selfish yes, but it means I can play the Vita’s first-person flagship shooter on an equal footing with all of the other players when it comes to online play (well I could if I was any good at it!). Regardless of my own ability, it’s an unmissable experience and one I could spend an entire gaming session on.
Nothing like a good scare before bedtime and Limbo certain delivers here. It’s one of those compelling, grim platform games that doesn’t rely on stunning visuals, excessive blood and gore, cut scenes or a Hollywood A-list voice cast. Instead, it’s black and white visuals, shock tactics, eerie sound effects and edge-of-your-seat tension make for a thrilling game. Just don’t play this one alone if you have headphones on and the lights out… you have been warned!
Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness
We all used to love a good bedtime story growing up and I guess that’s why so many of us still love to read late at night in bed. For many, books have been dropped in favour of using a Kindle or similar e-reader but when it comes to the Vita I’d turn to a good visual novel and there are many better than the futuristic detective story Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness. The only downside to this game is that it helps if you’ve seen the anime series prior to playing the game, but that just gives you an excuse to watch that too.
Final Fantasy X
One of the best RPGs available for the PS Vita, a superb remaster from the PS2 original and a great way to unwind after a long day. It was tough to narrow down what I felt would be the perfect RPG to make it into my Top 5, especially considering the nature of late night gaming but Final Fantasy X from Square Enix has it all – a great story, superb combat system, stunning graphics and sound, and plenty to do in addition to the main quest. The only downside to the game is the infrequency of the main save points but that only highlights the wonders of the Vita’s standby mode so if you’re part way through and feel that it’s time that you really need to sleep (when you look at the clock and realise you’re still playing at 4:00 am!), then all you need to do is pop it into standby mode and carry on without worrying about finding a save point.
Well those are my choices but I’m sure you all have your favourites so I’d love to hear them.