What was rumour has now been confirmed, with Sony announcing it’s to close the PS3 and PSP stores on July 2nd, with the Vita store to close soon after on August 27th, taking with them a whole bevvy of games that were only available via digital download. It’s bitterly disappointing news, and while Sony confirmed you’ll be able to re-download games in your library for an undisclosed time after – because who needs details? – for many there’s now a limited window to pick up some true gems. What follows isn’t meant as a comprehensive list of what’s going to be lost – it’d be too depressing, for one – but rather a guide to what’s worth picking up before it disappears.
The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character
What a beautiful, challenging thing this is: a game about moving an octopus between one wall and the next, collecting stuff, avoiding stuff, and marveling at the sheer variety on offer as the levels fly by. With simple controls and a fiendish design, this would work so beautifully on the Switch, but that’s a hope for another day. For now, remember the many hours it spent bringing gorgeous frustration to Sony devices.
Alien Zombie Death
PomPom Games should be considered indie royalty, and the disappearance of Alien Zombie Death should be a cause for wailing and the tearing of garments. This is a side-on shooter in which you move between different lanes, blasting away at on-coming baddies and occasionally collecting something. It’s brilliant. PomPom is no stranger to having its games nuked by Sony, incidentally. Rebel, a beautiful PlayStation Mobile game, and a shooter in which you can’t shoot at all, is still in regular rotation on my Vita.
Daytona USA HD
Thankfully this superlative version of one of Sega’s most iconic 90s racers lives on via backwards compatibility on Xbox, though that only puts its imminent absence on PlayStation in relief – here’s an all-time great, brilliantly restored in HD with all the wow and pizazz that once melted the faces of young observers at the Trocadero perfectly intact, as are its selection of all-time great tunes. Get it, and get it now.
Oof. This hurts. By killing off Frobisher Says, Sony is killing the unofficial introduction to all things Vita. This beautiful hand-crafted spin on WarioWare took its players around every one of the handheld’s bizarre means of input. It did all this while being genuinely funny, too, offering weird specifics, wonderfully scrappy art – the kind of thing that feels like it’s been doodled in the margins of a school textbook – and a great sense of feedback. And I think it was free at the time too. Oof, Sony. Oof.
Cor, but Gravity Crash is video games, isn’t it? The neon lines pick out alien worlds and deadly foes. The black of space seems to glow. Conserve fuel, gad about, blast anything that moves in a shower of fireworks. Even if the game wasn’t a treat, it would still be a delight just to look at. And that Lunar Lander heft to the movement gives it a wonderfully grumpy personality.
The Last Guy
Another example of the out-there brilliance of Japan Studio that once was at the heart of PlayStation, The Last Guy is a slight but nevertheless hugely enjoyable experiment. An offbeat top-down action game that has you shepherding crowds through a zombie outbreak, its use of satellite imagery gives it an edge that hasn’t dulled to this day. It’s a strange, beautiful and very playable thing, and exactly the sort of game that Sony doesn’t seem too interested in anymore.
Noby Noby Boy
There once was a time when PlayStation was a byword for carefree, creative oddities that pushed at the boundaries of what we expect from a video game, and they don’t get much more creative or carefree than the work of Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi. Noby Noby Boy is perhaps his strangest yet, a freeform toy that had players consuming their surroundings in an attempt to lengthen their character – and to work together to reach out to the stars and beyond. Thanks to the combined efforts of the playerbase, Noby Noby Boy reached the sun way back in 2015, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a chance to play this fantastic thing.
The best of the PixelJunk games? Certainly the most loveable. This is a slot car game with all the lane-changing and horn-tooting that suggests. But it’s also a playground of modes and rules and tweaks. And it’s also a beauty: look down upon these matchbox worlds with their smooth arcs and sun-bleached buildings. The perfect venue for polite chaos to erupt in.
Super Rub ‘a’ Dub
I’m not going to pretend that Super Rub ‘a’ Dub is a game you should rush out and play right now, nor am I even going to suggest it’s half-decent (though being from Sumo Digital, you know it can’t be all bad). Rather Super Rub ‘a’ Dub is an important part of PlayStation history, having been inspired by the tech demo that heralded our first look at the PlayStation 3, and something that felt like an indelible part of its identity.
Resident Evil original trilogy
Yes, you’ve played these all to death before, and yes it’s perfectly possible to find these through other means – but thanks to Sony’s flaky commitment to backwards compatibility, the demise of the older PlayStation stores means that the PS1 versions of Resident Evil Director’s Cut, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 Nemesis will no longer be available for purchase. It’s one small example of the massive loss that occurs when services such as this are switched off – and if you want to pick up other digital PS1 titles whose physical copies now reach a pretty penny, such as Xenogears or R-Type Delta, your time is limited.
A double blow to the heart, this, as Trash Panic is not only a fine example of the oddities that used to be offered up for download – it’s also one of the best examples of Sony’s Japan Studio doing what it did best. A fittingly scrappy take on Tetris, it’s short on polish but absolutely huge on charm and does not deserve to be forgotten.
So you’ll never exactly be short of ways to play one of Jeff Minter’s many takes on the Tempest formula, but you will soon be robbed of the chance to play one of his very best efforts. TxK stands out as one of the Vita’s very best, and certainly one of the finest ways to show off its glorious OLED screen which pops with all the phosphorous brilliance of an original vector Tempest cab. Put some headphones in, lose yourself to its soundtrack and to what amounts to a master at the very top of his game. TxK is pretty much close to perfect.
Where is My Heart?
OK, Where is My Heart is technically – as in literally – available on Steam, but this game belongs on PSP, its creamy colours shimmering through that beautiful widescreen display, its music tumbling out of the speakers. An ingenious platform game about a trio of animals, Where is My Heart chops your view of the action into little squares and then puts the squares in the wrong place. It’s surprisingly difficult to untangle the action, but as you do, you truly start to inhabit the game’s spaces. Brilliant.