If you're reading this, there's a decent chance that you found a PlayStation TV among your gifts this holiday season. Or maybe you're thinking about picking one up in the next month or two. In any case, this list is for you.
PlayStation TV has been out for more than a year now; but with it now being available for as little as $20 in some places, many people are just now picking it up for the first time. What's more, several RPGs have launched since then. In the course of researching this piece, I was reminded of several PSP and Vita games that I still really like; but for one reason or another, have flown under the radar.
I should add that the the idea for this article came to me from USG user DellarTheGamerDragon, who reached out to me a couple weeks ago to ask which JRPGs they should pick up for their new PlayStation TV. They wrote, "I have both the Vita and the PSP, but never really got into the RPG scene with them, as I've always preferred playing them on the big screen. Could you recommend to me any good JRPGs that are exclusive or special experiences that I might enjoy on the PSTV?"
Rather than reply directly, I figured I would share my thoughts with everyone. By the way, I'm intentionally limiting this to games that you can only really find on the PSP and Vita. Trails of Cold Steel, Trails in the Sky, Dragon's Crown, and Persona 3 Portable are all great, but for the most part they are better enjoyed on other platforms. Of course, if you don't happen to have a decent PC or a PS3, they are worth considering as well.
In any case, without further adieu, I present to you the RPGs you should be playing on your PlayStation TV.
Persona 4 Golden [Vita]
Persona 4 Golden was number four on our 15 Best Games Since 2000 list, and it's still the single best reason to own a Vita or a PlayStation TV. It's a stylish RPG with a gripping story, a great soundtrack, and a memorable cast; and once it gets hold of you, it doesn't let go. It's a great portable game on the Vita; but if you really want to play it on a TV, then Persona 4 Golden is basically the "definitive version" of the game. Its updated HD visuals look great on the big screen, and it brings with it all kinds of improvements from the PS2 version, including several new story scenes. If you haven't played Persona 4 yet, and you don't feel like shelling out for a Vita, then this is the single best way to experience the best JRPG of the past 15 years.
Muramasa Rebirth [Vita]
This is another "definitive version" of a game that was released a few years back. Muramasa: The Demon Blade was originally released for the Wii, where it won praise for its lush visuals, but was lamentably stuck in standard definition. Muramasa Rebirth fixed that issue with a very nice HD upgrade and several new characters. On both platforms, it is an enjoyable action RPG that draws heavily on Japanese lore for a distinct and extremely attractive visual design. Like other Vanillaware game, it has been criticised for its somewhat repetitive combat, but it's nevertheless a graphical showcase on PlayStation TV.
Soul Sacrifice Delta [Vita]
Like Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Soul Sacrifice Delta falls into the category of "graphical showcase" for the PlayStation TV. Ostensibly a Monster Hunter clone, it's both deeper and darker than its original inspiration, featuring among other things the ability to save or sacrifice your enemies after you've defeated them. Soul Sacrifice Delta is an enhanced edition of the original game that brings with it a large amount of content, including rebalanced mechanics, an optimized engine, and a new faction, so it's the one you want to get. Oh, and it also happens to be the only version that will run on PlayStation TV.
Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines [Vita]
Oreshika flew completely under the radar when it was released early last year, but it didn't deserve to. The sequel to a PlayStation RPG that was never released in the U.S., Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines is an extremely dense dynasty-building RPG in which you attempt to raise up a family cursed with the inability to live longer than two years. In addition to being one of the more interesting RPGs on the PlayStation Vita - you have to choose your head of household, deal with unruly teenagers, and breed the right traits ahead of a sustained dungeon run - it's also one of the most attractive, featuring an art style reminiscent of Okami. It's not for the faint of heart, but if you're looking for something a little different, then Oreshika is worth a look.
Ys: Memories of Celceta [Vita]
One of the earliest and most popular examples of the action RPG made its debut on the PlayStation Vita back in 2013, but it didn't become compatible with PlayStation TV until last year. A remake of Ys IV, it stars series protagonist Adol Christin and a rotating cast of characters as he adventures through the land of Celceta. Likes Ys Seven, Memories of Celceta lets you control up to three characters, each with a different attack type. The action is good, but the soundtrack is what stands in the minds of most of its fans, its synth rock tracks being catchy and memorable. If you enjoy Memories of Celceta, check out Ys Seven and Ys: The Oath in Felghania, both of which were released on the PSP and are playable on PlayStation TV.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together [PSP]
It's hard to heap enough praise on Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, which makes an argument for being the best tactics game ever made. Similar to its indirect successor, Final Fantasy Tactics, which was also made by Yasumi Matsuno, Tactics Ogre features a large cast and a variety of classes; but where it really shines is its story, which is a startlingly dark tale of medieval politics and treachery featuring a large number of route splits. The PSP remake allows you to navigate these splits freely once you've finished the game, and it also includes the rather intriguing ability to rewind time and try to fix a bad turn. The ability to pick it up at will makes it more enjoyable on the Vita; but if you can't get hold of a Vita or a PSP, then you owe it to yourself to check out Tactics Ogre on PlayStation TV.
They haven't been great lately; but during the PSP era, Sting Entertainment was one of the platform's more and interesting and daring developers, with a portfolio that included Knights in the Nigmare - an RPG that married strategy, adventure, and bullet hell elements. Gungnir was part of their Dept. Heaven series, which loosely connected Riviera, Yggdra Union, and Knights in the Nightmare across a common universe, and one of their final releases on the PSP. As such, it was largely overlooked in the U.S., coming long after the platform's demise in North America. Nevertheless, it is a worthy RPG in the mold of Final Fantasy Tactics, letting you mess with the turn order mechanics while encouraging you to keep your allies together for a variety of cooperative attacks. Like most Sting games, it's dark and story heavy, and its attractive interface looks good on a larger screen. If you missed out on Gungnir the first around, this is as good a time as any to give it a shot.
Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection [PSP]
There are close to a half dozen variants on Final Fantasy IV, ranging from the North American release in 1991 to the remakes on iOS and the Nintendo DS. Of them all, though, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is one of the best, featuring a nice graphic bump while managing to avoid the bugs of the GBA version and the difficulty spikes of the Nintendo DS version. Of course, you've probably played Final Fantasy IV at this point; but if you haven't, it remains a deeply enjoyable RPG with extremely well-balanced encounters, a great cast, and one of the best soundtracks ever. Even better, it suffers none of the aspect ratio problems of its counterparts when played on the big screen, nor does it have a problem with load times. Suffice to say, if you are looking for the definitive Final Fantasy IV experience, this is probably it.
A Few More RPGs to Consider
These RPGs are either better on other platforms, or they serve a very niche interest. Still, they are worth considering if you're looking for an RPG to play on your PlayStation TV.
- The Legend of Heroes: As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, Trails in the Sky and Trails of Cold Steel are best enjoyed on the PC and PS3 respectively. But if those platforms prove elusive, then the PlayStation TV is a fine alternative.
- Persona 2: Innocent Sin: The original Innocent Sin for PlayStation was never released in North America, so this is the only way to play it without a fan translation. It's excellent, but its a shame that the PSP remake of its follow-up, Eternal Punishment, never made it to North America (though you can still purchase the PSX version on PSN). Still, Innocent Sin is worth playing if you're curious about what came before Persona 3.
- Super Robot Wars Z3 [Japan only]: The Super Robot Wars Z3 duology is available on both the PlayStation 3 and Vita; but if you have a Japanese PSN account and you don't have a PS3, then PlayStation TV is a solid alternative. SRW's trademark action sequences look great on a television.
- Brandish: The Dark Revenant: A remake of a PC game from 1991, Brandish is an old-school dungeon crawler for the PSP. Jeremy writes more about it here.