7 Best Underrated PS Vita Games, so what are you waiting for? Play 'em!

The PlayStation Vita itself is such an underrated gaming gadget. It follows that some of its games are going to get buried into obscurity. Here are seven of the best underrated PS Vita games.

Best underrated PS vita games

7. Super Mutant Alien Assault

If you haven’t played Super Crate Box, then you are not going to be familiar with Super Mutant Alien Assault. Developed by Cybernate, this is an arcade-style shoot 'em. In this game, players control a robotic avatar to fight through sections of a spaceship overrun by mutating alien creatures. The game features fast-paced, fluid action with plenty of challenges, combining platforming, weapons, abilities, and objective-based levels across three galaxies. Each galaxy must be cleared in one sitting to beat the corresponding difficulty level, making the game both hard and addicting, with a progression system that adds complexity and keeps the experience fresh.

The game's progression system is particularly rewarding, as each level completion grants tokens to unlock new enemies, weapons, abilities, and more. The first runs are the hardest, but gradually the upgrades turn the tide in favor of the player. The addition of new alien creatures changes the dynamics of each level, requiring players to adapt and learn new strategies. 

Each alien behaves uniquely, and mastering the weapons and abilities is key to defeating them. Though some technical issues and control precision challenges exist, especially on the PS Vita, the game's emphasis on skill and rewarding gameplay make it a compelling title. The co-op mode adds an extra layer of strategy and challenge, making it a fun, hectic experience for players. While there was a deluge of indie darlings at the time of its release, no one seemed to play this very underrated gem. It is now time to correct all of those.

6. Counter Spy

Here is stealth game which also hid itself from the audience. Counter Spy offers a unique and engaging experience, albeit a brief one, clocking in at around two hours for a complete playthrough. Despite its short length, the game excels in providing an entertaining ride through its spoof of the Cold War, where both the United States and the USSR are hilariously attempting to blow up the moon. As a member of C.O.U.N.T.E.R, your mission is to infiltrate both sides, gather intelligence, and thwart their plans, making for an intriguing premise that keeps you hooked.

The game's aesthetics are top-notch, capturing a 1960s spy thriller vibe with stylish visuals and period-appropriate background music. The main character, a mysterious black-clad agent, adds to the game's charm and atmosphere. The blend of 2D platforming and 3D shooting creates a dynamic and immersive experience, where strategic planning and stealth are key to preventing the DEFCON level from rising too high and ending the game prematurely.

Counter Spy's gameplay shines with procedurally generated levels, ensuring a fresh experience with each playthrough. Unlockable weapons and formulas add variety, while three difficulty levels cater to those seeking an extra challenge. With its stylish presentation and replay value, Counter Spy is a highly recommended adventure for those who enjoy a mix of stealth, strategy, and action.

5. XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus has surprisingly made its way to the PS Vita, despite previous rumors and the lack of promotion from 2K. Fans of the game will be pleased to find that this port is not only decent but exceeds expectations for the Vita. XCOM Enemy Unknown is a 2012 reboot of the classic 90’s turn-based strategy series by Julian Gollop, where players control a squad of elite soldiers against an alien invasion. The game retains its nerve-wracking, strategic gameplay where every decision can mean life or death for the soldiers.

The game features four main classes of soldiers, each with a branching skill tree that allows for customization and strategic depth. The permanent death mechanic adds emotional weight to each mission, as players grow attached to their soldiers only to risk losing them to a single lucky shot. The base management aspect also adds pressure, as players must balance global panic levels and resources, making early game decisions crucial for long-term success. The thrill of narrowly surviving and successfully pushing back against the alien threat keeps the gameplay engaging and intense.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus includes the Enemy Within expansion, adding new story elements, enemy types, maps, customization options, and enhancements like cybernetic implants and mech suits. While the port misses out on utilizing the Vita's touch controls, it remains a strong addition to the Vita library. The release of this game, even late in the Vita’s lifecycle, is a welcome surprise and because of that it did not receive the accolades. Well, XCOM 2 also got released at that point and time and that was the better game, but it was not as portable as this. 

4. Thy Sword

Ratalaika Games has brought a wide variety of indie PC games to the PS Vita, using their in-house development tools to convert titles across multiple genres, from puzzle and action to sci-fi and RPGs. Among these releases is Thy Sword, a fantasy hack-and-slash platformer with a clichéd storyline. In Thy Sword, a peaceful land is invaded by an evil overlord, shattering a magic crystal into five pieces. The player embarks on a quest to retrieve these pieces and restore peace. 

The gameplay of Thy Sword involves a single-screen platformer where players must defeat every creature on the screen to progress. Defeated creatures drop items such as potions, health, weapons, and coins/jewels that can be used to buy additional health and equipment at the end of each set of levels. The game offers a variety of characters, each with unique strengths and weaknesses, and although the Vita version is single-player only, console ports feature a two-player co-op option. The levels are procedurally generated, providing consistent layouts within each playthrough, and three difficulty settings balance the challenge, requiring a combination of skill and planning to succeed.

Thy Sword features retro 16-bit pixel art visuals and an engaging, albeit misleading, orchestral opening score. Players can change the graphical style through menu options, including CRT emulation. The game includes a shop where players can purchase upgrades and participate in mini-games like blackjack. Thy Sword proves to be a fun and addictive platformer with strategic elements, procedural generation for replayability, and a "one more go" appeal. This game seems to suffer from the indie saturation the same way as Super Alien Mutant Assault. It seemed everyone passed up in playing this game for being just another indie game, which is, of course, far from the truth. 

3. Pato Box

Pato Box is a unique black-and-white game that pays homage to the Punch-Out!! series while introducing its own twist. You play as Pato Box, a human-duck hybrid who, after winning numerous matches, is betrayed and left for dead. He embarks on a quest to uncover the truth behind his downfall. The game combines boxing matches with exploration, as you navigate through a tower filled with henchmen, puzzles, and hazards like buzzsaws and poisonous gas. 

As you advance, you collect secret documents that reveal more about the story and the background of each character. These documents also provide insights into the fighting styles and attacks of the opponents you'll face. Additionally, you can find Patokens to customize your bedroom. The combat system, while easy to learn, is challenging to master, requiring you to dodge and counter the unique attacks of each henchman. Unlike Punch-Out!!enemies often use weapons like electrical attacks and grenades.

Pato Box is filled with humor, particularly duck-related puns and jokes, which add a light-hearted touch to the intense gameplay. The game also features an Arcade Mode, unlocked by playing through the story mode. Its comic book noir aesthetic probably turned off potential players. They maybe wanted some saturated colors on that OLED screen on the PS Vita. 

2. Flame Over

Roguelikes are notoriously challenging, and Flame Over is no exception. Developed and published by Laughing Jackal, this game is set up as a twin-stick shooter with randomized levels and a persistent upgrade system. Despite its seemingly fun and lighthearted presentation, where you put out fires, save people, and rescue cats, Flame Over quickly reveals its true nature with its high difficulty level. The initial challenge lies in mastering the controls, as you shoot water with the right bumper and use an extinguisher with the left, and realizing how these actions impact your movement.

The game does not provide a real tutorial, leaving players to figure out the mechanics on their own, which can be daunting. Time within each level is limited, and players must manage their resources carefully to avoid running out of water or extinguishers. Rescuing people scattered throughout the levels adds to the time, but their behavior can be unpredictable, and the presence of a death figure when time runs out adds to the pressure. The game's design forces players to learn through repeated failures, a common aspect of roguelikes, though the process of restarting after a game is slightly slower than ideal.

Flame Over is a rewarding game for those who enjoy roguelikes, and probably missed this one given that at that point in time, roguelikes and rougelites are all the hype. While it doesn't significantly distinguish itself from other games in the genre, it provides enough entertainment. And maybe, that was the reason this game flew under the radar. 

1. OMG HD Zombies

Despite being overshadowed in sales by the Nintendo DS, Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) offered an impressive library of diverse titles over its seven-year run. From major franchises like God of War and Metal Gear Solid to hidden gems, the PSP had something for everyone. One standout title was OMG-Z, a small yet brilliant game that unfortunately went under the radar for many gamers and critics alike. Now resurrected for the PS Vita as OMG HD Zombies, this game is a must-buy for every PS Vita owner, offering a delightful mix of strategy and action.

OMG HD Zombies combines the chaos of a zombie apocalypse with the strategic fun of chain reactions. Players control an armed survivor perched safely above hordes of zombies, aiming to kill as many as possible with limited bullets. Each type of zombie has a unique reaction to being shot, from exploding to shooting projectiles, creating satisfying chain reactions that can clear entire levels with a single well-placed shot. This HD upgrade introduces three new zombie types and twenty new stages, enhancing the original game's addictive gameplay with fresh content and challenges.

The game leverages the PS Vita's touchscreen for intuitive control, making it easy to target specific zombies even in crowded scenes. The procedurally generated levels and various zombie types keep the gameplay super fresh. Despite its simple premise, OMG HD Zombies offers significant replay value through its upgrade system and medal-based rewards, encouraging multiple playthroughs to fully upgrade your arsenal. OMG HD Zombies is an exceptional update of an already stellar game, making it a must-have for both new players and fans of the original.