Thanksgiving weekend has passed as well as its abundance of crazy deals, but now you have a shiny, new PS VIta system on your lap without a library to support it. You might have bought it in a bundle including a game like Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation or Uncharted: Golden Abyss, however those can’t be the only games you’ll play on your $180+ (depending on how much you got it for) portable powerhouse.
Before you run out to the stores to get yourself some brand spanking new games, be wary of the games you shouldn’t buy this Holiday season.
10 – SUPREMACY MMA: UNRESTRICTED
We don’t have the specific percentages, but we’re assuming that there has to be PS Vita owners who also love the sport of MMA. Sadly, there is only one game out there for the handheld system and it isn’t very good.
Supremacy debuted on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms last Fall to negative reviews maintaining a 48 and 47 Metascore respectively. Its poor animations, small roster, quick campaign, laggy controls and substandard online play didn’t win Supremacy any fans, and its portable brother continued a majority of those problems.
While a Vita version of the game does seem enticing as it’s more arcade-y than the UFC brand of video-games, its $30 price tag (according to GameStop) is more than enough to warrant a “No Buy” from Smooth Town.
9 – SILENT HILL: BOOK OF MEMORIES
This might be a somewhat controversial addition to the list, but we’ve included this game simply to warn everyone that this is not your typical Silent Hill game. It’s actually an RPG dungeon-crawler that is set within the Silent Hill universe with a new cast of characters and storyline to plow through.
Book of Memories earned itself a 58 Metascore with a number of mixed reviews. The game isn’t necessarily scary or as psychologically haunting as the first several games were, but as long you know what you’re getting yourself into then maybe you could find some consolation with the fact that you’re playing a spin-off in the franchise.
The same mechanics every dungeon crawler in existence have had is in full play (play through a plethora of rooms, hack and slash baddies, find loot, fight bosses) in Book of Memories, but don’t expect a truly engaging or deep experience to come with it. We don’t find it particularly worth it to plop down $39.99 on a new copy of Book of Memories, so we say “Skip It”.
8 – REALITY FIGHTERS
Intended as a launch title to show off the Vita’s system capabilities, Reality Fighters is a simple, lightweight fighter that’s fun and intriguing for the first couple of days, soon turning into a monetary regret.
The game basically has you use a photo of anyone you can think of, import that mug, dress him or her up in silly costumes and use them in a variety of virtual arenas. The game either uses its pre-loaded panoramic arenas or you can use the Vita’s cameras to use a still or live video to host your battles.
It’s a fun distraction at first, but soon its novelty will wear off (I gave it a month) and you’re left with a title which will probably get lost in the couch or make home with some dust bunnies under your bed. It isn’t expensive with a $19.99 price tag, but if you really want a true gaming experience to make your end of the year enjoyable, as well as a game to last you for another 365 days, then go ahead and “Save Your Money”.
7 – SUPER MONKEY BALL: BANANA SPLITZ
Super Monkey Ball debuted in 2001 in Japan as an arcade title called “Monkey Ball”. Since then, the series has spawned eighteen more sequels and spin-offs on a variety of platforms from the GameCube to the PSP to even mobile phones. It’s been eleven years, but the basic formula of tilting your monkey to the goal line has remained steady for the most part and Banana Splitz doesn’t do a whole lot to change that.
The game is still as charming and enjoyable as all other games in the series, but that’s where the problems start. If your expectations for this game would be something entirely different for a brand new platform, then you’re already very wrong. The game has its basic courses to play through, but besides that it doesn’t get any deeper than what’s been laid out before you.
Banana Splitz comes with some mini-games and a map editor, but they’re either so boring or flawed that it isn’t even worth considering these extra features as a selling point to the game. Throw in a $29.99 price tag and your mind is basically already made up. “Ignore It”.
6 – MADDEN NFL 13
There was a Madden NFL 13 Vita bundle floating around, so if you already bought that then there isn’t much else to say here. However, for those Vita owners who are foaming at the mouths for a portable Madden experience, then we can’t really say much to keep you away from this title simply because it’s the only Madden game out there for the system.
If you’re open for logic and reasoning, then allows us to inform you that Madden NFL 13 for the Vita is nothing more than a shoe-horned port of Madden NFL 12. I mean, the roster updates are there as well as all the teams, but the stats and records for the teams are carried over from 2010, not 2011. Already the game is far from the level of its console counterparts, but the fact that the game doesn’t come with the new physics engine, online Franchise Mode or even file-sharing like MLB The Show did, basically renders this game as nothing more than a casual football gaming experience. Some people are okay with that, but Vita owners deserve better.
The game has constant framerate drops and it barely added functionality to make use of the Vita’s special features like using rear touch pad for jukes. For $39.99, you may as well just buy the full console release and get with the times. Simply put: “Just Say No”.
5 – RIDGE RACER
We’re now halfway through the list, and we’re getting into some pretty serious territory. Ridge Racer is complete garbage. It’s a Ridge Racer game making its debut on yet another platform and absolutely no effort was made into making this title seem even remotely worth spending your hard-earned money on.
It ships with 3 tracks and 5 cars with a stupid upgrade system to make those cars seem a little bit different than they were before. The progression takes forever just to earn money, there isn’t a Campaign to play through and the online multiplayer is junk. Not only does it take forever to actually hop into a game, but the host can’t switch over to one of the other limited tracks meaning that you’d need to drop out and find a new lobby just to race on something different.
Its visuals are bland, the rewards aren’t there and throw in a $29.99 price point and Namco Bandai may as well pay you for spending at least fifteen minutes with this game. The answer to this is easy: “No”.
4 – RESISTANCE: BURNING SKIES
Now, some people are actually fans of Burning Skies and it doesn’t take much to see why. It’s a portable FPS experience set within the Resistance universe. The problem here is that Nihilistic Software made little effort into slapping together a contained FPS experience with some online multiplayer and soon called it a day. Developers like Valve and Naughty Dog and lately 343 Industries with Halo 4 spent countless hours molding their triumphant campaigns to near perfection as well as fine-tuning its multiplayer offerings to make your purchases worth it. Burning Skies is more about charging you upfront to just have something to play on the Vita, and you’re better than that.
The visuals, while not incredibly impressive, do have some really nice moments reminding you the potential of the PS Vita. The controls translate nicely onto the handheld and the campaign itself is simple enough to spend about seven hours on the Story Mode, but the new main character feels more like a lifeless stranger most of the time and the game carries an unshakable easy difficulty setting. It should also be noted that some of the touch-screen/pad controls work in your favor some of the times, but carry the potential to annoy and frustrate you most other times.
The game currently retails for $29.99, and while you could do much worse for that amount (like Ridge Racer), this list exists to tell you — the consumers — the worth of some much talked about games out now for the Vita. When it comes to such a laid-back and half-heartedly developed title in comparison to something like LittleBigPlanet PS Vita or Persona 4 Golden, you soon realize that you have much better options to spend your money on. So we say: “Buy Something Else Instead”.
3 – LITTLE DEVIANTS
For $19.99, this was a tough game to throw onto the list because of its cheap pricing, but if it were ten dollars cheaper, I would definitely recommend this purchase to every Vita owner on the planet. Sadly, as it stands, I’m even hesitant to utter the title of the game to the desperate Vita owners slowly populating the planet with every passing day.
Little Deviants is the mini-game collection that’s primarily developed to showcase every single feature the Vita offers as a system. Touch-screen games, rear touch pad games, tilting games, AR games, it’s all there. The problem is that Little Deviants is nothing more than just those games. Think of it like Wii Sports. Would you really go out to a store and spend $19.99 (in the case with Little Deviants) on the game? Deep down inside, you hunger for a more satisfying experience and this game has none of that.
It’s incredibly repetitive with no real goal to work towards. It has a Bronze, Silver, and Gold trophy style of high-score progression to give you some kind of reward for spending time with the game, but after awhile, you’ll find yourself getting Bronze and swiftly moving on with absolutely no hesitation making this completely obsolete within the grand scheme of things. At this point in the lifetime of the Vita, you shouldn’t be satisfied with mini-games. “Get a Real Game”.
2 – FIFA SOCCER 13
FIFA 13 on the consoles are a work of art within the sport of soccer (or football; take your pick). The series has come a long way and it’s a very exciting time to be a FIFA gamer, unfortunately if you’re also a Vita owner (or worse, exclusively a Vita owner) then FIFA Soccer 13 will exist solely to disappoint you.
FIFA Soccer for the PS Vita earlier this year was a fine experience as it ported much of what fans liked about FIFA 12 at the time as well as including the ever-addicting managerial modes. FIFA Soccer 13 for the Vita includes almost exactly the features of the game before it and does nothing to add anything different besides some cosmetic changes such as a different looking menu and new kits and boots.
Seriously, both games are nearly identical. Most people would feel somewhat fine with EA ignoring the Wii port since that console is now being phased out with the release of the Wii U, but leaving the Vita behind in favor of the console versions within its first year is problematic not only for Sony in terms of weakening third-party support, but also for Vita owners worldwide. If you want a soccer/football game on the go for the Vita, grab FIFA Soccer  from earlier this year at a much cheaper price. FIFA Soccer 13 just “Makes Puppies Cry”.
1 – CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS DECLASSIFIED
This was such an easy number one to make both for its awful quality and the horrible intentions Activision carries as a publisher. Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified looks like a Call of Duty game. It handles kinda like a Call of Duty game (although it does have some baffling touch-screen controls). It might smell like a Call of Duty game, but it isn’t. It’s a mess masquerading as one with its sole purpose to steal your money. It’s the literal definition of milking a series and Vita owners — and Call of Duty fans alike — should do everything in their power to both stay away from the game and to tell loved ones to do so as well.
Where to begin?! The visuals look muddy for the most part. While people like to crap on the console versions for sticking to an aging engine, it still looks okay for the most part. Black Ops Declassified just looks second-hand and the unsure reaction to its reveal trailer from way back when remains largely unchanged. You have a reason to be wary. It’s as if you were shopping for a new car only to find a rusty bicycle with a cardboard chassis of a Bugatti Veyron for far less than what it would really cost to buy a full-fledged Bugatti begging you to buy it. Please don’t. It should also be noted that the developers of Resistance: Burning Skies — Nihilistic Software — developed this gem.
While the Campaign wins some fans from the regular iterations in the series, the online multiplayer is by far the bigger selling point for the newer Call of Duty games. So, how did the Vita version stack up? At the bottom of the barrel! It’s only capable of doing 4v4 in a small number of super cramped maps with only a handful of modes. The weapon load out and customization is there, but there isn’t a point to it if what you’re getting yourself into is a half-assed multiplayer offering that’s embarrassing at best.
Activision so clearly churned out this game to help Sony sell some more Vita consoles — and it’s ludicrous $49.99 price point proves that — but the word of mouth between fellow gamers travels much more quickly than either company could ever have anticipated. The laughable 38 Metascore doesn’t help them any as well. Still, there will be people who will buy this game thinking that they’re getting an equivalent of the console versions, but in due time they will be angrily searching for that receipt to send this game back to the shelf from where it gave you those puppy dog eyes.
“Never Buy This Game”.
By now you might already be regretting your Vita purchase, but you really shouldn’t. It’s an expensive piece of hardware for sure, but we’re very early into its life cycle and there are a number of games already out now worth your money as well as games out in the near future brimming with potential.
If you want a game out now, then feel free to try your hand at Persona 4 Golden, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, Street Fighter X Tekken and Retro City Rampage. The latter two are available on other platforms, but if you were meaning to get them just on your Vita then you would still get a good experience. Not only that, but games like PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Rachet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault have that “Buy the PS3 version, get the Vita version free” deal going on for the foreseeable future, and Sony rolled out PlayStation Plus for Vita owners. You aren’t forgotten and you won’t be, but it’s up to a number of third-party publishers to get themselves in gear to give this system ample support heading into 2013 and beyond.