It’s games galore for Sony’s mini-console
As a successor to the 70 million+ selling PlayStation Portable, hopes were understandably high for Sony’s new powerful handheld – the PlayStation Vita. However, things haven’t turned out so well for the OLED-clad wonder machine. The advent of smartphones and tablets has radically changed the handheld gaming space and Nintendo’s 3DS has taken the world by storm. All this has impeded the market progress of the PS Vita to a great degree, but is it all doom and gloom? We think not.
Much like the PSP before it, many gamers believed that Sony’s wonder-machine would dominate Nintendo’s technologically inferior offering. However, history was doomed to repeat itself as – like the DS before it – the Nintendo 3DS has proved to be the more successful handheld of the duo, once again cementing Nintendo’s place as a dominant force in pocket gaming.
However, in this year of 2014, things have changed. Though Nintendo may retain an iron grip on the dedicated gaming market, it is no longer the only big bad wolf of the handheld world. The market is flooded with new devices that have captured the imagination of the gaming populace – most notably, smartphones and tablets. It’s in this crowded sphere that has seen the Vita struggle immensely. Sony itself has been very coy about the sales numbers of the console; preferring instead to mix consoles and even terminology whenever it presents its financial results. Sold-in. Sold-out. Combined with PS3 numbers. Combined with PSP numbers. Truly, Sony loves to fudge its digits (but that won’t stop the firm from clearly telling folks about the seven million PS4 sales). In truth, the PS Vita has had a good run in its home nation of Japan – though its success has been somewhat non-existent in other countries.
It’s a shame that the Vita has had such a rough ride because it really is a great little system. It has become somewhat of a connoisseur’s choice because of its sophisticated feature-set, including its glorious (though now sadly defunct) OLED multi-touch screen, rear touch panel, dual thumbsticks, powerful specs, and lightning-fast OS. It possesses a wide range of cool apps, such as the StreetPass-aping Near, YouTube, camera for photos and films, party chat, the ability to send text and voice messages, MP3 and movie players, email, maps, and a calendar. A freakin’ calendar! Okay, so they can’t be all winners…
Of course, the most important facet for any games console is… Well, the games. Contrary to popular belief, the Vita has amassed a fine library of games over the last two years of its life. For RPG and strategy aficionados, there are great titles such as Persona 4 Golden and Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remastered. Your action fix comes in the form of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Soul Sacrifice and Killzone: Mercenary, while there are plenty of platformers, both 2D and 3D, in Fez, Spelunky, Rayman, and Sly Cooper.
No longer restricted to PC and tablets, critically acclaimed narrative adventures like Machinarium, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward and the incredible Walking Dead all prove that handheld games don’t need to be ten-minute burst sessions. All of these and more, and that’s not including the fighting games, rhythm-action puzzlers, and sports titles all ready to be played.
But that’s still not all. The PlayStation Vita is far from gasping its last breath with future releases that threaten to take over your life. Games like Borderlands 2, Oddworld: New n’ Tasty, Gravity Rush 2, Helldivers, BlazBlue: Chronophantasma, CounterSpy – the list goes on.
It is clear that Sony’s underdog has plenty of fight left within it. In addition to this incredible range of software, there is also the extensive back catalogue of retro PS One and PSP games available via PSN – far too many to list here. On top of all that, there is the miracle of PS4 remote play; something which Sony could do to advertise a little bit more. Letting you access your PS3 or PS4 from anywhere in the world, Remote Play replicates and outdoes the Wii U’s main selling point with little-to-no latency between consoles. It’s a minor addition, but one that further exemplifies the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ approach of the handheld.
All this should hopefully prove that the PlayStation Vita is worth the price of admission. If you haven’t taken the plunge, then the recent price-drop and new Slim model will most certainly tip the scales. Though many industry pundits have questioned the longevity of traditional handhelds in a market dominated by smartphones, it is immediately clear how superior playing a game really is when using a traditional control setup in conjunction with a dedicated gaming operating system. Though the PlayStation 4 is Sony’s golden child, it’s the PlayStation Vita that deserves your attention. Though its continued reliance on proprietary memory cards is an annoyance, it nevertheless represents outstanding value for money; especially when combined with a PlayStation Plus membership.
Also, those tiny game cartridges are just too damn cute.