The Five Sleeper Hits of the PS Vita Launch

I got a chance to attend one of Sony’s Vita Hill Social Club events last week, where I got some substantial hands-on time with the upcoming handheld. Sony had all of their biggest first-party launch titles there for gamers to try, some of them with the purpose of showing off the Vita’s exciting new features. WipEout 2048 was there for PS3 cross-play, Little Deviants showed off the front and rear touchpad to great effect, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss made excellent use of motion control.

Those are all well and good, but with over 20 titles slated to be available at launch a few gems are bound to be overlooked. While I enjoy AAA blockbusters as much as the next guy, I also enjoy rooting for the underdog. With that in mind, here are the sleeper hits that you should give another look when you pick up your Vita on February 22nd.

Lumines Electronic Symphony

Back when the PSP launched way back in 2005, Lumines caught everyone by surprise. Hell, it was arguably the best game available at launch, no small feat releasing next to titles such as Metal Gear Ac!d, Twisted Metal: Head-On, and WipEout Pure.

With the Vita set to release soon, we’ve got another Lumines game to look forward to. This time, though, no one will be caught off guard by Electronic Symphony. It keeps the gameplay that was so popular in its two PSP entries, while adding touchscreen control for those so inclined.

So why’s it on the list? Have you seen the games that are going to be available at launch? Lumines might be great fun, but even classic puzzle goodness will have a tough time breaking away from a launch crowd that includes a full-fledged Uncharted game and console-quality Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and FIFA ports.

Escape Plan

Escape Plan will be available on launch day, but you won’t see it when you pick up the Vita at your favorite retailer; it will only be available on PSN. While that means the price will be easier on our wallets, it’ll be a lot less visible to the public — especially those without internet access.

Hopefully people will saunter into the PlayStation Store as soon as they get their Vita home, because Escape Plan looks spectacular. It’s not just its eye-grabbing black-and-white visuals; the game is geared to make innovative use of the hardware’s fancy new touch and motion controls. The title implies the objective: guide your two dudes out of death-trap laden rooms. Swipe to make the characters move across the screen, tilt to make them float in the appropriate upwards direction.

We’ve seen the “get the hell outta there!” premise before in titles like Exit, but Escape Plan promises to deliver that in a whole new way. It’s a title well worth loading up your PSN wallet for.