(This Review is based on the original OLED modal that doesn’t have 1G of internal storage and bigger rear touch placers.)
Sony’s successor to the PSP has ventured an interesting journey through the gaming industry. Released worldwide in 2012, its early titles amazed with production values coming close or on par with home consoles. But the expense of making a Vita game at the time made the handheld suffer the chicken and egg predicament. How can you get people to buy the console without software support, but where can you get the developers willing to pay the expense for making the software.
It was a console that had so many excellent strengths from its design, features that can be used in inventive ways as illustrated in Tearaway and being 1 of 3 modern consoles able to play classic games, but its own excellence was its greatest weakness.
Artwork from Dorkly, Videogame consoles are your teachers, page 3, number 10
3 years later, the Vita’s solution to its problems was shifting focus to being a console thriving with unique and cult status games, a companion device for the PS4 and giving a solution to retro gamers wanting to play PS1 and PSP titles but own a PlayStation 4, as the Vita is able to play PS1 and PSP titles. As of the 25th January 2015, the PlayStation Vita has sold 9.6 million units worldwide and its rival the 3DS has sold a dumbfounding 50.4 million units. By inspecting the negative and positive elements of Sony’s handheld and how its game library can be a utopia for aficionados of gaming, one will discover how the PlayStation Vita is the best handheld console that dared to compete against the unshakeable masters of the handheld console.
Weighing 260 grams and having a stunning OLED screen, the original Vita fits well in a cargo trouser pocket though it doesn’t have the slimmer weight of the Vita Slim which makes it easier to fit in a regular pocket. Even though this model may need trousers with long and deep pockets so it doesn’t slip out and hit the concrete, its greatest virtue is the display.
OLED Vita Screen photo from Mobile Fanatics, Up close with the PlayStation Vita, http://www.themobilefanatics.com/2012/03/photo-gallery-up-close-playstation-vita/
Bright, vivid and colourful are a few words describing the majestic beauty of the OLED display. Games with colourful art direction appear crisp and pop out while games with a more realistic or gritty art direction have clear contrast and rare colours stand out.
The handheld also has the advantage of responsive dual analogue sticks that are as comfy as the DualShock 3 and 4 once the user is used to the small yet effective input range.The D-pad isn’t as separate or mushy compared with the Dual 4, but great for PlayStation 1 games with their more finicky and precision based gameplay, like in platformers. The traditional shape symbol buttons and R1 and L1 are also there, but how does one play a FPS (First Person Shooter) without the distinctly missing R2 and L2 buttons.
The Vita uses the touch screen and the obscure rear touch pad to make up for a lack of R2 and L2 button, and games for the Vita have used the touch inputs in varying degrees of success.
Impulse Gamer, Little Big Planet
The front touch screen is an intuitive and sensitive input, and its sensitivity along with a dual shock control layout has been put to great use in fighting games as well as improving on functionality in games like Dragon’s Crown where it’s used to find treasure while fighting through hectic battles.
Tech Radar, PS Vita Review, March 05 2012,
The rear touch pad is a mixed bag in terms of intuitiveness and reliability. While being an inventive way of interacting with in game objects and makes actions more involved, the pad by its nature and placement is prone to accidental input, and because the original Vita is no longer in production and replaced by the vastly better Slim, OLED models are plagued with technical issues that all revolve around the rear touch pad. When installing games that heavily use it like Tearaway, such games may stop the pad from functioning completely which can cause critical progression issues in games where it’s used to progress in a Vita game. This issue only applies to the original Vita, and not the Vita Slim.
PlayStation PS Vita, WordPress, PS Vita Specs
The console with its screen and glossy finish is a dust, stain and finger print magnet that will often need cleaning. Even if it’s a bit unfriendly to fashionable trouser pockets, the Vita is an good looking handheld, and the rear touch pad issue only affects a certain number of games, with a large majority of the library being fully playable without the rear touch pad.
A plethora of features reside in the Vita, with the most useful ones being Remote Play, Content manager, Videos and web browser. The other features, while having there uses are done better on other consoles, and even smartphones.
Pocket Lint, Hands-on video: PS4 Remote Play Explored
Remote Play allows the player to have PS4 gameplay streamed to the Vita with the handheld being the controller. This is a commendable feature for players that have their sessions regularly interrupted by people watching TV and is similar to the Wii U tablet. The function works with all PS4 games that don’t require the PlayStation Camera, and the L2, R2, L3 and R3 are mapped to the front touch screen with Start and Select being the Share and Options button.
Dragons Dogma Wiki, Dragon’s Dogma PS Vita backgrounds,
Due to the compulsory need of a proprietary memory card, content manager will be a frequently used app as digital Vita games have sizes of 1 to 3 GB’s filling up 16 GB card quickly. (Psychical game cartilages are smaller in file size) Apps on the card are in coloured categories making space management a simple press on the screen.
Dragons Dogma Wiki, Dragon’s Dogma PS Vita backgrounds,
There is also 3 back up methods for games on the Vita and they are the PS3, PC and PS Plus cloud storage. Cloud storage keeps save files and is the easiest method that simply needs the player to be subscribed to PS Plus which is purchased on the PS Store starting at $10 for a month and won’t make you top up if the automatic funding option is turned off on the service list once purchased. The PS3 serves as a mass back up storage for Vita games and allowing music, videos and images to be transferred onto the Vita while storing PS1 save files that cannot be saved on the cloud. (The PS4 sadly does not support the PS3’s mass storage utility for the PlayStation Vita)
PC back up requires Content Manager Assistant to be installed on the PC, and makes it easier to organise one’s Vita games while serving as the best way for getting music files on the Vita. These methods offer great versatility for preserving Vita games as well as getting other forms of media, particularly music on the handheld.
The PS Store also offers movies to rent that are found on the Videos app on the home screen, and is an acceptable video player, with movies looking great on the OLED screen with reasonable rental prices at round $5 to $6. TV rentals however are lacklustre because the pricing structure will have the user purchasing one episode at a time instead of a whole season, making them more expensive and stopping binge watching.
The web browser is commendable for finding walkthroughs, and nothing else. Having only 512MB of Ram, the browser takes an eternity loading webpages and has virtually no security unless paying for Trend Micro Security to defend a browser that struggles to load and display any decent website. It’s a useful app for guidance in a game, but is terrible when compared against other respected web browsers.
The four features of the Vita are apps that give handheld strong potential as a multimedia device that provides great distractions when the player wants more than simply games from their console.
(P.S There are 32 and 64 GB memory cards but are available only in Japan, and other countries have only 4, 8 and 16 GB memory cards commercially available.)
The titles for the Vita cover a range of genres with the most popular games being JRPGS and Indies. One of the criticisms aimed at the handheld is the lack of exclusives in the library and how it pales in comparison to the 3DS library. The reason why the Vita thrives with Indies and ports while having sparse exclusive like Tearaway and Killzone Mercenary is due to one simple fact.
Vita games have production values that are close to the budgets of console games which makes them more expensive for handheld developers to create. When the Vita launched worldwide in 2012, its launch titles Gravity Rush and Uncharted Golden Abyss amazed with their production values and inventive use of the Vita’s control features. But these games set a high expectation that the Vita would have exclusives that matched or came almost close to console games, and resulted in a drought of games that wasn’t a popular IP like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed meant to be system sellers and being inferior to their console counterparts.
10 best PlayStation Vita Games cover image, Arcade Sushi
The PS Vita would remain in obscurity in the handheld market until the PS4’s Remote Play feature gave the Vita some much needed attention. It wasn’t a solution to its problems, but people realised that a competitor to the 3DS existed and by that time, ports of games such as Dragon’s Crown, Persona 4 Golden, Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remastered and having backwards compatibility with PS1 and PSP titles gave people incentive to purchase the handheld. Then the Vita shifted its ambitions from the console experience on the go, and instead thriving on indie titles and hosting a gaming library of critical darlings and cult classics that were made in the Vita’s life time period of 2012 and 2014.
With the PlayStation Vita’s original and current ambitions, it has never had a popular system seller and is very evident with the 3DS’s 50.4 Million units sold and the Vita selling 9.6 million units. The game library of the PlayStation Vita clear cuts a gaming audience in half. One half will be having a ball as the library is stuffed and exploding with offbeat and specialised titles taking video game elements of eons past, and giving them a modern update or create a fantastical element that gives players an experience they will find nowhere else. The other half have found their gaming needs with the 3DS and its blockbuster titles of Pokémon, Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart and it’s stellar Street Pass social feature allowing them to have greater connections with gaming friends.
With such a broad and unique library of games, the Vita is the modern aficionados’ handheld console.
Poster artwork by Patrick Zachar, Deviant art
Sony’s little console is an exotic product of the handheld market. Even with a dwindling beginning and the problematic reliability of the originals rear touch pad and the borderline money sink of a compulsory memory card, its revision the Vita Slim fixed the pad’s issues and being less awkward in the everyday pocket. The library is a smorgasbord of unique IP’s and classic PlayStation games that epitomise the brands international third party developer’s innovative and evolutionary efforts in the gaming world.
The original Vita in comparison to the Slim, is one of the master disasters of the PlayStation lineage. But the original is a reminder to avid fans of video games that often it takes time and a lot of blunders before an entertainment device matures into a product worth spending dozens of hours on with all its incredible adventures waiting to be experienced.
Summation: If you really want to get the PlayStation Vita, I implore you to but the Vita Slim because it has a better touch pad and 1 GB internal memory, enough to play an indie game or two and the argument on what screen of both models is better won’t matter when you actually play on the Vita Slim. Please note that the images without a description and link to the source were captured with my IPad and the Vita screenshot feature (Start+ PlayStation button). And yes, now that I am beginning to credit the image and artwork sources of other people’s creations, I will be updating my older reviews and giving credit to the images and artwork of other creators they rightfully deserve.
Have a great day and don’t hesitate to point out an inaccurate detail in this review.