Last year at this time when the Pixelnauts website was a smattering of ideas and bits of code, I bought a Playstation Vita. It had just been released, and there was a new Uncharted game that looked console quality on a handheld system. I was excited to see this new generation of Playstation handheld as it looked to greatly outclass the 3DS which I hadn’t been using much. A five inch OLED screen, touch pad and touch screen, dual analog sticks, wi-fi and 3g, it seemed like a solid devise tech wise.
Now it’s a year later, and the Playstation Vita hasn’t been doing amazing sales wise. We’ve just passed Vita’s first birthday, if small electronic devices can have birthdays, and we’ve heard some things about the future for Vita. So how do I feel about the device now that I’ve had it for a year?
Nice hardware. The Vita is a nice piece of hardware, specs wise and control wise. The five inch OLED screen looks amazing, and it has the hardware behind it to push some really great graphics. Uncharted: Golden Abyss looks fantastic and it was a launch title, I can only imagine how well developers can push this little beast graphically. The dual analog sticks are decent, but can feel a little awkward to handle. It’s a combination of their small size, and low placement, but it never hurts to hold it. It’s also way better than trying to use both the d-pad and analog nub on the PSP.
Not so great battery. The battery in the Vita could use a little more juice. It doesn’t last as long as I want it to. The same can be said for the 3DS and even the 3DS XL, but the Vita seems to drain the fastest to me.
Expensive Memory Cards. Why couldn’t Sony use a standard memory card format? Why do I have to buy an expensive memory card to be able to buy games digitally off the PSN? I think it would have made more sense to have nice cheap memory cards, so people will be more likely to use the PSN to buy games and make the money back that way. Spending a hundred dollars (or morel like eighty on sale) for a thirty two gigabyte card seems extremely high. Considering how much you really get out of having one (PSN demos, saving some games that don’t save to carts, PSN purchases, etc) it was really surprising that the system doesn’t include one with it, not even a small four gigabyte card to get you started.
Why did I get one with 3g? Better question, why did Sony even offer one with 3G? I have never used the 3G connection on my Vita, even in the first month when I could for free. The data plans don’t make a lot of sense, though now with data sharing plans it might work out better dollar for megabyte. But from a gaming standpoint, nothing really uses the 3G fully and thus it’s a waste. Most of that is because Sony only allows limited features to be used over the Vita’s 3G, compared to the more robust offerings on wi-fi. I do have a friend who uses the Vita’s 3G for email and such since he doesn’t have or want a smartphone, but I think he’s in the minority there.
Games. I haven’t bought a ton of games for my Vita, as there isn’t a huge library available. That’s not uncommon in a systems lifespan, as usually the first six months are pretty barren as far as releases go. The last game I bought was Persona 4 Golden, and that came out last October. But other than that, I’ve only bought a few titles since the launch of the system, namely Gravity Rush and Assassin’s Creed: Liberation. I was hoping for more titles to really grab me and I haven’t seen that yet. Some of that is personal preference, but I think the Vita could just use more titles in general.
PSP games. Downloading PSP games off the PSN and being able to play them on my Vita is great. There’s some really decent PSP titles out there to kind of round out the Vita’s shortcomings, if you haven’t played them before. However some of the big PSP titles aren’t there. Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, two huge PSP titles are not available for purchase on the PSN and thus can’t be played on the Vita. I’d love to see them available, and can’t figure out why they aren’t already.
PSone Classics. I really love that it plays all my PSone classics from the PSN. I played through Final Fantasy 6 on my Vita a few months ago, and it was nice. Yes, the PSN version has loading times that are a pain, but I loved that I could play in bed for a little bit, or if I had to wait for an oil change. It makes those console RPGs into nice portable distractions thanks to the system sleep mode. I love this feature.
Crossbuy / Crossplay is great. This is a huge benefit of the PSN that the Vita needs to leverage more. I love that since I bought The Pinball Arcade for my Vita I get a copy for my PS3. And while they’ve done it for Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale and the new Sly Cooper, I’d love to see it done more. It makes for a big value to the consumer and I think if pushed big it would really sell systems.
Remote Play. Remote Play could have been fantastic, but as it is on the PS3 it’s horrible. There’s very few titles that can utilize it and the lag on the controls is pretty bad. I had dreams of playing Mass Effect 3 on my Vita via Remote Play, but that never came to be. Thankfully at the PS4 announcement last week Sony talked about Remote Play being a feature of the PS4, and they are working on the problems it currently has. The lag is being worked on, and they are trying to make every PS4 title have Remote Play as a feature. That’s awesome and I think it will give my Vita new life.
So am I happy with my Vita over the last year? Yes and no. I still think it’s a system with a lot of promise. But last year I could say it was new system blues that kept it from having all the cool titles and things I’d feel compelled to play on it. Now it’s a year later and I don’t feel enough has changed to be out of that dry patch yet. I’m excited for the PS4 integration, but thats months away and requires me to buy a PS4. I’m still waiting for the Vita to grow into what it needs to be, and it’s disappointing and a little worrying we’re a year out now and not there yet. But I’ll just hope for the best and fill the downtime between big releases with PSone RPG’s from 15 years ago.