One-Coin Gaming is a new column where I check out a game from the bargain bin and share my thoughts on it. Join me on my quest to find the hidden gems under 500¥ or £5. I started the column in an attempt to broaden the variety of games I play, but also because while some games might be poorly reviewed at launch, looking at them with a lower price tag and a few years or months of patches might change how things come across.
I love my Vita. That little machine is one of my favourite gaming consoles out there, even if Sony themselves rarely gave it the care and attention it deserved. I spent hours on mine playing a mixture of indie games and JRPGs (hello complete set of Final Fantasy I-IX), but sometimes you really felt the desire to play a game that really pushed the hardware. Uncharted: Golden Abyss was one of those games – a blast to play with some very impressive handheld graphics. Gravity Rush was another. These games felt like they really hit that original message from the Vita – console experiences on the go. While they were great however, they could at times feel a little bit like console-lite experiences – not quite as deep as their home console counterparts, even if they were polished and fun to play. One game however, really made its home on the Vita – Tearaway. Media Molecule’s game might not have been as much of a raw graphical powerhouse as Uncharted, but it pushed the Vita to its limits in so many other ways, namely utilising every possible input on the device, from the back touchpad to the cameras. Tearaway felt like a game that could only exist on the Vita. And for a while, it did.
I was impressed when Media Molecule announced that they were going to release an alternative version of Tearaway on the PS4 (they decidedly refuse to call it the definitive edition) known as Tearaway Unfolded. To say I was eagerly awaiting its arrival would be a bit of an overstatement, but my interest was piqued nonetheless – how would they manage to take this experience designed so specifically for the Vita and bring it to a more traditional home console environment? I actually never picked the game up when it released. I kept thinking that I’d wait for a sale or for it to come down in price a little. Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of people thought the same thing- Tearaway Unfolded failed to crack the charts on its week of release. Over time, I kind of forgot the game even existed, until a few weeks ago, when I spotted it on sale on the Playstation Network for just under £5. At that price, I could no longer say no. I snapped it up and downloaded it onto my PS5.
Booting up the game, I was given a hit of nostalgia upon seeing Iota and Atoi, the two possible avatars. I remembered having a lot of fun editing and customising mine on the Vita, so I was looking forward to seeing what I could do on the PS4 game. It had been such a long time since I’d played the Vita original that I couldn’t really remember the early game levels, and so I found myself questioning if this was actually a port, expanded edition or full-on sequel. It still feels fresh and joyful to walk around in this papercraft world – the NPCs are all humorously designed, and many give you the chance to add your own decorations, while the environments all look like they could really have been made out of paper. In terms of the gameplay, not a lot is changed from the original Vita release- it controls like a typical high-quality platformer, and most of the touch functionality has been moved up to the Dualshock 4’s touchpad. The lightbar gets its own uses as well (in theory, although technically it’s the motion controls doing the heavy lifting). It’s all thoroughly charming.
Media Molecule have a high level of polish that runs through many of their games and is evident here too – you can feel the care that was taken in crafting the world, the script, the gameplay. It manages to feel exciting and capture that Mario magic in a way that many platformers find a little difficult. You find yourself thinking you’ll just play a little more to see what the developers throw at you next. I have to admit though, that while the team have done a remarkable job at bringing the game to televisions, I can’t help but feel that it still feels a little more comfortable on my Vita. Having this little papercraft world in the palm of your hands just feels right – it feels personal, like you really are on your own unique journey. This is also helped by the fact that you can natively do everything in the game with the Vita – no peripherals needed. The PS4 version however does feel a little more standardised, missing that little sparkle that it had on the Vita. While it’s only a minor grievance, I do sometimes find myself wishing that they wouldn’t remind me what I could do with Playstation Camera or the Tearaway mobile app as often as they do. It’s just a small thing, but you do find yourself thinking you’re missing out on experiencing the full version of the game.
While I personally prefer the Vita version of the game, I also understand that there are many more PS4s out there than Vitas, and as such, a vast swathe of gamers who have no choice but to play the game on their home consoles. In which case, I can wholeheartedly recommend Tearaway Unfolded. It’s a blast of a game and was well worth my £5. Honestly, even when not on sale, the game is pretty cheap these days – £15.99 on the Playstation Store, and I’d say it’s still worth the purchase then. Go for it – you won’t be disappointed. If you do however have a Vita, I’d be tempted to pick up that version instead.