Give the Vita a Chance

My frustrations with mobile gaming are well documented.  Despite the impressive technology and awesome UI built into smartphones nowadays, finding an iOS or Android game that’s worth playing when you aren’t on the crapper is nigh impossible.  I haven’t given up on my Quixotic quest (which Psydra could easily end with an iOS port of Dark Scavenger), but my frustrations lead to the purchase of a handheld device built specifically for mobile gaming: Sony’s PS Vita.

An attractive piece of technology, the Vita is sleek, it’s light, and it fits easily in my hands despite my long fingers and the touch panel on the back that requires a looser grip.  It’s got one of the crispest screens I’ve seen on any kind of handheld.  The touch functionality is accurate and easy to reach without having to shift your hold on the unit.  The home screen is an intuitive imitation of iOS that scrolls vertically rather than horizontally.  The PSN store is organized in a logical fashion, separating Vita games, cross-play games, PSP games, and free demos into separate categories.  There’s a Netflix app and a Skype app.

My only complaint with the Vita was the difficulty I had trying to give Sony my money.  Neither of my credit cards worked in the PSN store.  I know the information I entered was correct because I saw the $1 test charges hit my accounts.  For whatever reason, something between my banks and PSN just didn’t jive.  And when you try to purchase something in the store unsuccessfully a few times, PSN locks out your account for 24 hours.  Support can’t unlock it for you, which is flat out stupid.  I’ve resorted to purchasing PSN cards at 7-11.  It’s an annoying extra step, but it doesn’t ruin my overall experience.

Sony recently announced that the Vita has sold 1.8 million units, a paltry number compared to Nintendo’s 3DS and its 10.5 million sold.  Many analysts are also comparing its sales numbers to those of the iPad, which is just stupid and unfair.  We’re dealing with two completely different classes of device here.  If you want an entertainment center, you get an iPad.  If you want a gaming machine, you get a Vita.  The cross-section of people who have to decide between the two would seem to be pretty small, given the aforementioned dearth of quality iOS games for those of us who want something deeper than launching birds at rickety houses inhabited by green pigs.

The difference in quality between Sony’s handheld and bigger console games is negligible at best.  So the Vita has a smaller screen than that massive TV to which you’ve hooked your Playstation or XBox; the games are just as good and the controls are just as comfortable and responsive.  I really wish smartphone gaming would get its act together so I only have to carry one device around, but for now I’m content to throw the Vita in my bag whenever I want to game on the go.

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  • Vampiric

    its a nice sentiment, the vita will be fine as the 3ds is now

  • Axe99

    Well said – the Vita will be just fine.  It’s important to remember that the 3DS has had a holiday season and a large price cut, and had the advantage of brand mindshare going into this gen.  1.8 million units for the Vita at this stage is pretty solid.  It’s easily the best handheld gaming device available, it’ll be fine, it just needs to keep building, which I’m sure it will :).

  • yarinoma

    Sooooo…..then……if the Vita is, in your opinion, a gaming machine, then what is the 3DS classified as?

  • YachtCaptainColby

    Ha, total oversight on my part in that sentence.  It’s true that if you want a gaming machine, you buy a Vita or a 3DS.

    I tried both.  I didn’t really like the 3DS.  Why, in this day and age, does a device want me to use a stylus?  It reminds me of people who were still walking around with Palm Treos when everybody else started carrying iPhones.

  • YachtCaptainColby

    I hope so.  The small number of games is a bit disconcerting, but history has shown that it takes a little time for development to get up to speed on a new console.

  • Axe99

    It’s a case of having perspective – at this time in a consoles launch (less than three months after launching outside of Japan) the number of games available for Vita compares very well with the launch of the PSP, 3DS, X360, PS3, PS2, Xbox and Gamecube.  But, of course, everyone’s comparing it to the 3DS (a year longer on the market) or, even worse, the two HD consoles!  Everyone was saying the same about the PS3 and 3DS not long after launch, and both are going just fine.

  • yarinoma

    I got you. I completely understand. I forgot the name of the newest smartphone that came out and for some reason it uses a stylus to draw on the screen. The commercial seems to be taking a stab at apple for having sketch apps on it but no stylus to use other than your finger which does get in the way when you want to make fine lines.

    I love my 3DS and, oddly enough, am waiting for a COD off shoot of some sort or any 1st person shooter. But with the Vita’s features, Im not sure if thats going to happen.

    I have a PSP but the only titles that really appealed to me were the ones that were specifically made for the system like Pursuit Force and GOW, SIlent Hill. Alot of those franchise games I never played until PSP so it wasnt a port for me.

    I will give Vita a chance but not right now. I have been satisfied with the last new titles on 3DS. Especially Kid Icarus. Might play through MGS: snake eater again because I never played through it on PS2. And RE was extremely well done.

    As long as 3DS can keep pumping out these descent titles, thats where Im going to stay.