It has been a year since Cosmic Star Heroine made its PlayStation 4 and PC debut. Now, people have another way to play. The versions that appeared in April 2017 kept people trapped at a desk or in a living room, but the April 2018 PlayStation Vita release presents people with a number of new opportunities. It gives us a chance to take a RPG about traveling to multiple planets in a solar system on the go. It also gives people a reason to grab their system again to enjoy a great port.
As a reminder, Cosmic Star Heroine is a game that acts like a love letter to the Phantasy Star and Suikoden series, with a battle system that takes some cues from Chrono Trigger. Alyssa L’Salle is a galactic government agent who finds herself framed. Rather than running and hiding, she decides to fight back and save the day. This journey takes her to three different planets, Araenu, Nuluup and Rhomu. It results in her finding 11 playable allies who can join her party and eventually take the lead in certain situations. It even means she finds other people sympathetic to her cause and willing to join her on her space ship, which means more things to do at the hub or more support when a team heads into the field. It is a great, well-paced game that pays tribute to the past while staying fresh.
What struck me when playing Cosmic Star Heroine on the PlayStation Vita is how well it looks and runs here. Since I am playing on the older, OLED model, there are times when I feel like the sprites seem crisper and more vibrant than they did when I went through the story on a standard PlayStation 4 with LED HDTV connected. There are smooth transitions with minimal loading between areas and the framerate seems very consistent. I did notice a small drop when the party would move from one map to another, but it would only last a moment. Everything seems to just flow.
There are some glitches present in Cosmic Star Heroine at the moment. In my case, I experienced two issues with the menu. One is that the cursor is not showing in the sub-menus. This is a known issue, however, and Zeboyd Games will have it fixed in the next patch. I also did have the menu freeze when I saved at the transition between chapters three and four. But then, the save was not corrupted and things were resolved when I exited the game and started again. I see these sorts of things as minor impediments, rather than actual issues.
One thing to note is that while there is a cross-buy option, there is no cross-save system. This means if you were playing it on the PlayStation 4 when it launched last year and have a save file, you can not transfer it over and continue your progress on the go. Robert Boyd actually addressed this issue on Reddit, noting that, “PS4 & PC use one save setup & Vita uses another save setup and trying to get them to play together nicely wasn’t something I wanted to struggle with.”
While this might disappoint some, I did not bother me when I went back to Cosmic Star Heroine. When I beat it on the PlayStation 4, it took me about 12 hours. There is no new game plus option, so it is not like I would have been able to port things over. (Though, I could see this frustrating people who are still in-progress.) I took this as an opportunity to play it again and try to do everything. I know there were things I missed my first run, like some extra crew members and weapons. By having it on a handheld, I feel like I have this extra time and opportunity to pull out my Vita and do extra exploring when I have a few minutes. And, since it does have a separate trophy list from the PlayStation 4 version of the game, it does mean more kudos for people who care about those kinds of accomplishments.
Cosmic Star Heroine is an enjoyable game that tells a new story while keeping in mind some classic game concepts. It ran very well on the PlayStation 4 and PC. Now, it does just as well on the PlayStation Vita. The spritework fits well on the system, with framerates that feel consistent and no loading issues. It does omit cross-saves, which does keep people from continuing the same adventure at home and on the go. Still, PlayStation Vita owners in search of a new RPG may want to keep it in mind.
Cosmic Star Heroine is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and PC.