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Eight games to try on your new PlayStation Vita

So you've decided to buy Sony's new handheld but haven't settled on any games. Not to worry. Flip through our launch lineup impressions to make sure you aren't bamboozled when you arrive at your local game shop.

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Lumines: Electronic Symphony This puzzler will eat away at your free time like a school of starving piranhas having at cow. Players control quartets of blocks falling from the top of the screen, aiming to line them up with similarly coloured blocks resting in the play area. Make a square of four matching blocks and they’ll vanish, along with any adjacent blocks of the same colour. The action is set to psychedelic graphics that dazzle the eyes and music from the likes of LCD Sound System and Underworld. My first game lasted nearly 90 minutes, and it was pure, meditative bliss. It’s pricey for a puzzle game ($40!), but it might be the most entertaining experience currently available for Sony’s new handheld. (Ubisoft/Q Entertainment; 9/10)

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Super Stardust Delta The exorbitant cost of Vita memory cards means you’re much better off buying games retail than downloading them. However, this shooter, which costs just $10 and is only available through the PlayStation Store, is well worth the memory. It makes excellent use of the Vita’s twin thumbsticks: one to guide a ship as it glides across the surfaces of heavenly spheres, the other to control the direction of weapons that perpetually fire at swarms of deadly objects and enemies. It looks great, sounds wonderful (love the thumping electro score), and plays even better. (XDEV; 8/10)

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Little Deviants Most Vita games are targeted at a slightly older audience, making this compilation of mini-games a good contender for families looking for something everyone can enjoy. Sixteen short games offer a variety of challenges. Players use the front and rear touch surfaces to do things like push robots out of windows and slingshot creatures around a wrestling ring. You can even use the Vita’s camera in an augmented reality UFO shooter that sets the action in your real-world surroundings. It doesn’t last very long, and its ho-hum presentation is a letdown, but it shows off much of what the Vita can do. (BigBig/SCEA; 6/10)

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Rayman: Origins A testament to Vita’s ability match the living room game experience, Rayman: Origins is a port of last year’s terrific side-scrolling console platformer that manages to stuff all of its precursor’s charm, good looks and joy onto a five-inch screen. If you’ve any fondness for running to the right, jumping on enemies, searching out collectibles and pulling off well-timed leaps, this is the Vita game for you. The only thing lacking is multiplayer, but there’s more than enough fun to be squeezed from the solo experience. (Ubisoft; 8/10)

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Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational The latest entry in Sony’s cartoonish golf games is surprisingly challenging. Expect to have a tough time just shooting par, especially on the devilishly difficult Legacy of Golf track. The rest of the experience is much the same as in previous editions. Players work through a series of tournaments to unlock new items in the pro shop and better golfers, then hop online to post scores in daily multiplayer tournaments. Good fun for golf nuts, but I wish Clap Hanz would have ditched the three-tap shot meter and taken advantage of Vita’s analogue thumb sticks to offer players a more nuanced swing mechanic. (Clap Hanz/SCEA; 7/10)

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Dungeon Hunter: Alliance Fans of action role-playing games and isometric monster slaying will be only partially sated by this re-release already available on other platforms. It has all the ingredients of a decent dungeon crawler – plenty of mythical creatures to kill, loads of loot to collect, occasional narrative sequences to provide purpose to our journey – but lacks the personality and visual panache of competing games. It’s competent, but not much more. A Diablo or Torchlight killer this ain’t. (Ubisoft/Gameloft; 6/10)

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Wipeout 2048 With support for up to eight players via WiFi and cross-platform competition with PlayStation 3 gamers, Wipeout 2048 was made with multiplayer gaming in mind. Stunning, futuristic cityscapes slide past slick as butter on a hot pan as our hovering racers zip through curving avenues. Steering with an analogue stick feels great, but motion-control lovers can opt to pilot their craft with slight tilts and control thrust via the rear touch pad. Repetitive after a while, but fun to revisit for a quick race or two. (SCEA; 7/10)

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ModNation Racers RoadTrip This customizable kart racer is a missed opportunity. It’s the only Vita game I’ve seen that suffers performance problems, including a stuttering frame rate and long loading screens. And while its track editor offers intuitive customization features via the Vita’s touch screen and rear touch pad, the creative tools are shallow and unsatisfying. Kids may have fun with it, but older players interested in a deeper experience should keep looking. (San Diego Studio/SCEA; 4/10)

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