I’ll be the first to admit that I miss PlayStation Mobile. The range of bite-sized games was an ideal way to boost my PS Vita games collection without breaking the bank. While there were a lot of titles that were sub-standard, there were also plenty of real gems released as well. A lot of games managed to hold their own up against native Vita titles and were well worth the asking price. It was a sad day when Sony decided to bring the PlayStation Mobile service to a premature end several years ago…
What Was PlayStation Mobile?
In it’s short lifetime, about 500 games and applications were released for PlayStation Mobile. PSM was meant to be a device-independent gaming platform that could deliver games across a range of devices that had low system overheads, were relatively easy and affordable to develop and would run the same regardless of what they were used on. Problems for the bite-sized games really started when Sony simply failed to market them. Developers were left to promote them themselves. There was no Trophy support so the wider Vita community had no interest in them. And the mobile gaming community was driven by the desire for “free” games – paid titles struggled commercially.
So What Happened?
The PlayStation Mobile service was terminated by Sony but they took a somewhat drastic approach. As well as removing games from the PlayStation Store, customers were no longer able to redownload titles they had already purchased. Gamers were advised to download everything and make their own backups using Content Manager. We were told to ensure that our Vitas were “activated” for PSM by the cut off date. If we didn’t do all of this, we’d lose access to our games… forever.
Sounds pretty harsh. The reality is that it was. Developers put a lot of time and effort into their games and many of these are now lost to the Vita community. With a small number of Vita owners buying these, some are already forgotten or are owned by just a handful of Vita owners worldwide.
Ten Of The Best
As I said, A lot of PlayStation Mobile games are already lost with only a handful of Vita owners still able to enjoy these titles. Players who used their mobile phones to play them have long since upgraded their handsets, so those who did buy them lost games they purchased in the process. And now these mobile gamers have moved on to playing uk casinos on the go or the likes of Candy Crush or countless resource management games that seem to flood the iOS and Android stores…
While there are still developers out there supporting the console, it’s too late to revive PlayStation Mobile or its games, at least on the Vita. However, there are some great PSM titles that were screaming out for a native PlayStation Vita remake when the service was abandoned. So here’s ten of the most deserving that we think should have had native PS Vita ports…
Chaos Rings (Square Enix)
Seeing the name Square Enix linked to this game gives you a fair idea that this is likely to be a JRPG and you won’t be wrong. Originally a port from a mobile game, it’s an incredibly deep and engaging game and never felt out of place on the Vita. From start to finish it played and felt just like a console game and it was overdue a return to the Vita in a native form.
Sequels did arrive on the Vita in Japan, but nothing was seen in the West. It was a great shame as it didn’t really need anything beyond upgraded visuals. It would have stood up well enough on its own to be a worthy budget price Vita game.
Sixty Second Shooter Deluxe (Happion Laboratories)
Amongst my personal favourites, this is a frantic twin-stick shooter. Proving that the PSM platform could handle arcade games, as the name implies, each game lasts just 60 seconds. You’ve got a single life and you just have to score as many points as you can. Grab weapon powerups, bonus multipliers and jump through level warps to increase the amount you can score for each enemy you defeat in this high octane shoot-em-up!
The simplistic visuals worked well, and I don’t think it would have needed anything for a native Vita port. Just being adapted to guarantee it’s preservation would have been worth it in itself.
Super Tank Poker (TACS Games)
Most mobile gamers will have heard of Nintendo’s Advance Wars. The turn-based strategy game was one of the best games to grace the Gameboy Advance. Some would argue that it was reason alone to buy the console. Now while this doesn’t match up to the depth or complexity of that, it does bring a novel twist to the table. While the military combat still remains, battles take place by way of a basic poker game played out between you and your AI opponent.
While I prefer the Texas Hold Em variation of the game that you’d usually play in online casinos for real money, the five card draw version here is still fun. It adds an original element to a classic game and who knows what might have been had we seen an expanded Vita version.
Haunt The House Terrortown (SFB Games)
This was a curious release. Taking the role of a ghost, you had to empty a series of buildings of their human occupants by scaring the living daylights of of them. While you couldn’t interact with them directly, you could control objects around them to convince them that the building was haunted. My only real criticism was it’s brevity, although I’d say that was down to PSM’s limitations than anything else. A dedicated PS Vita could have allowed for more locations or enhanced sound.
Rymdkapsel (Grapefrukt Games)
Sadly overlooked by many, Rymdkapsel was a true classic on PlayStation Mobile. The realtime strategy game put you in command of a large space station. Add sections and crew to staff it, defend the station from attack and balance your resources at the same time. The simplistic visuals hide its deep and absorbing gameplay. Sadly I think the look of the game did put many off from buying it so a visual upgrade could have made the world of difference had a Vita version been considered.
Shuttle Quest 2000 (TACS Games)
With retro-inspired Gameboy styled visuals this is one of the finest PlayStation Mobile games from Thomas Hopper and certainly the one with the most depth to it. Part of the game was a side scrolling shoot-em-up. This took the form of a series of missions, some were attack wave based, others involved clearing asteroid belts. But each were selectable from missions given to you aboard a space station you were assigned to.
On this station you were able to roam freely, interact with other characters and arrange for upgrades to your ship. The RPG hybrid elements added something completely original to the shoot-em-up genre and it’s something I haven’t seen since. Other than possibly the size of the game, and more visual skins I can’t think of a way this could have been improved upon.
Dark Quest (Brain Seal Ltd)
This mobile port will look familiar to anyone who grew up in the 80s. The turn based RPG takes its inspiration from the classic board game Hero Quest and it was one of the real gems from PlayStation Mobile. Not only was it a great PSM title, but it was an absorbing action RPG in its own right.
A sequel followed for Android and iOS which has subsequently been ported to the Nintendo Switch so while we can’t continue the saga on the Vita at least a lot of us can still play a handheld console version of it.
Console Saga (TACS Games)
Just as with Shuttle Quest 2000, this was something special from TACS Games. It’s a side-scrolling platformer with the central character looking not-too-similar to an old Nintendo handheld. What makes this stand out from most other platform games is that you can enter a random mix of characters and the game will use its procedural level generator essentially giving you endless replayability. It works remarkably well, and doesn’t give you any levels that can’t be completely or are unplayable.
Jaggy Race! (Tiziano Bizzini)
Released near to the end of PlayStation mobile, this side on 2.5D racer impressed us as being one of the real highlights of PSM. It wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been for the introduction of Unity to PlayStation Mobile. Instead of taking the approach of typical racers where you need to accelerate, brake and steer this obstacle course racer simply focused on delicate control of your speed to navigate each course. While this simplified approach may appear to dumb-down the game to most, it worked like a charm and with plenty of tracks it offered ample longevity as well.
Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)
This fast paced, single screen platform shoot-em-up was one of the PlayStation Mobile launch titles. The addictive gameplay grabbed the attention of the media almost immediately and showed the potential of PSM for great bite-sized gaming. At the time, this was even heralded as being the best version of the game on the market. It’s since been ported to countless other platforms, and there’s even an official port to the Commodore 64 so it’s criminal that a native Vita version never followed from this first release.
A Light At The End Of The Tunnel?
There is some hope for PlayStation Mobile fans who missed out on some of these great games. Since the Vita has been hacked, there are plans to try and rescue the entire PlayStation Mobile library for posterity. A group of Vita owners are actively working to source the entire range and preserve them. While we certainly don’t condone piracy of any kind, it’s sad that people who WANT to buy these games simply can’t and feel that this is the only option to ever see these games running again.