You might not think it, but Terraria is definitely one of the more hotly anticipated games to come to the PS Vita. I myself have been looking forward to playing it on the go for the better part of this year after putting plenty of time into the PC version for the past couple years. And now it's finally here. Terraria on Vita is just about the same exact game that has already come to the consoles, so you can check out our full-fledged review for that to get the big picture.
Instead, I'm going to talk about how it plays, looks, and feels on the Vita in comparison.
Like the PS3 version, there are two control schemes: a smart cursor and a manual cursor. The smart cursor works exactly the same, and does a pretty good job at detecting what blocks you actually want to destroy. Manual is what you want to use for placing blocks, and can still be used with the right stick. However, the Vita version allows you to use the back touch panel for cursor control (including the smart cursor). It actually feels pretty natural switching between the two schemes on the front touch screen and moving the manual cursor with the back panel. I mostly stuck with the analog sticks personally.
Speaking of the front touch screen, this is what I feel gives the Vita version a significant edge over the PS3. The interface is completely compatible with the touch screen, and gives the user just as much control over it that a mouse would. You can swap your inventory, switch menu tabs, craft, and directly select which item you would like to use out of the ten currently equipped at the top (or cycle through them by pressing the left or right sides of the screen). Items can also still be hotkeyed to the d-pad.
As with any game that gets the portable treatment to the Vita, it almost always looks better than it ever has on the system. The sprites look incredibly crisp, clean, and vibrant, with everything screaming with color. If there was any complaint it'd be that things don't stay as crisp as soon as you zoom in. That's a minor complaint, and one that shouldn't deter anyone.
If you've played both the PC and console versions, it's going to be hard to convince you to jump on Terraria Vita for $15. There are a few parts of the 1.2 update built in, but the full update is still on its way. However, if you were already looking forward to getting this version, then it's a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the game is not a Cross-Buy title, but is a cross-play -- up to eight-player multiplayer -- and a cross-save game with the PS3 (I was not able to test this for my impressions, but I'm sure it all works just fine). I imagine getting a group of fellow Vita friends in the same room and playing Terraria together would be a truly worthwhile experience.
If you played just the PC version, or are a complete newcomer, and you're looking for another version of Terraria to check out, then the PS Vita version is an easy recommendation.
[*].disqus.comto your security software's whitelist.