Japan seriously came through for 3DS and Vita fans this year with some absolutely cracking JRPGs and visual novels that proved absolutely stunning and perfectly suited for on-the-go gaming. In amongst them, of course, were some utterly brilliant indie titles, and the odd Nintendo stalwart as well.
What we said: Macabre yet playful, disturbing yet uplifting, thought-provoking and intensely compelling, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a masterpiece of storytelling and characterisation. So long as you're prepared for a visual novel as opposed to a full-blooded adventure game, it's a truly essential purchase, and a Vita exclusive you'll savour over two dozen rewarding hours.
What we said: Etrian Odyssey Untold is a class act. The sensational vintage exploration, manual mapping and gruelling combat of the DS original has been granted a new lease of life, reinvigorated by strong characters and a superb story that's engaging enough to satisfy yet never outstays its welcome. Atlus approached their remake with subtlety and restraint, resulting in a uniquely lovely package.
What we said: The world of Spira looks better than ever as the new layer of detail makes you feel like you’re playing a new game rather than a HD re-release and the traditional RPG combat feels better than ever in the wake of genre’s attempts at modernisation. Great storytelling never gets old though and Final Fantasy X’s is an absolute genre gem.
What we said: Persona Q is the best of all possible worlds. Etrian Odyssey's masterful dungeon crawling goes hand-in-hand with the superb characters and great storytelling of the Persona series, resulting in a magnificent RPG that stands out on its own impressive merits. One of the best crossover titles in years is handily one of the best games of 2014. The Q might as well stand for 'Quality.'
What we said: TxK is a marriage of hectic arcade fun, eyepopping style and impeccably-honed substance, proving that the arcade spirit is alive and well on PS Vita. You'll come for the visuals, stay for the action and fall in love with its irrepressible personality over many barmy hours.
What we said: Futurlabs have nailed two genres here with retro side-scrolling shoot em’ ups and platforming thrown together to fantastic effect. Play the game at speed and you’ll struggle to find a slicker experience on your PS4.
Winner | Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Halfway between Phoenix Wright, Persona, Corpse Party and Virtue's Last Reward, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is one of the best (and most disturbing) visual novels to ever hit British shores, and easily one of the most compelling games on the PS Vita so far. If not the year so far, as long as you're comfortable with the differences between a visual novel and a traditional adventure game.