Back when Sony’s second major foray into the world of portable gaming (a la PlayStation Vita) was released back in 2012, I was one of the 20 people worldwide to purchase the device day one, hot off the heels of my 18th birthday. Complete with the console-quality Uncharted: Golden Abyss and a far too small 4gb proprietary memory card in hand, I walked away with the thought that I’d made a smart purchase, even if I wasn’t buying into the gaming eco-system I expected.
Four years later and the PlayStation Vita is a portable gaming system that is still very much supported by the likes of indie developers and Japanese publishers, feeding the dedicated if somewhat niche selection of gamers that are both passionate if a little small.
But what’s the verdict on someone thinking about dipping for Sony’s inventive yet struggling handheld and is there enough promise in the future going forward to keep the platform sustained? Simply put, is the PlayStation Vita worth buying?
What does the PS Vita do differently?
Those familiar with Sony’s first handheld system the PSP (Playstation Portable), will generally understand the kinds of experiences and user interface affiliated with the PlayStation Vita. What the system does most differently is the addition of a back touch that allows users to control the system via the use of a rear touchpad as well as the traditional front touchscreen, the bad news however – good luck finding a game other than Little Deviants that uses it effectively.
One pretty nifty feature not available that has since been added since launch is the addition of Remote Play, which allows players to experience the gloriousness of a PS4 game on the beauty of a 5 inch OLED display screen (if you have the original SKU that is). Whilst latency can sometimes be an issue and as with most streaming services the quality can vary depending on the internet connection available in your area, it’s a cool feature that instantly adds over 1,000 more game experiences.
Despite not having the best library of FPS games, the PS Vita is currently the only handheld on the market that incorporates two dedicated analogue sticks that allows for direct movement and camera control without the need to use a D-pad. Unlike the New 3DS which adds a small nub in its right corner, every PlayStation Vita comes complete with this feature meaning that should you choose to play such titles as Freedom Wars, Snake Eater and even Minecraft, you’ll get a smooth playing experience that easily rivals its console counterpart.
Are there games for the PlayStation Vita? Debunking the popular myth.
Often an issue that many PS Vita players take to their heart, is the common misconception that the platform has no games. Whilst the Wikipedia page suggests that there are currently well over 1300 games on the platform (most being digital), this is unfair yet I feel confident in saying that there are easily over 200 decent Vita games most players will find some kind of enjoyment out of.
Obviously as with any system, the more genres you enjoy and are accustomed to playing, the more life you’ll find within the PlayStation Vita’s quite generous library of games. It’s by no means the preferred platform of choice for those hoping for hardcore triple-A experiences, yet those only now purchasing a Vita have a nice backlog of first party games such as Killzone: Mercenary, Resistance: Burning Skies and the aforementioned Uncharted Golden Abyss.
There’s no denying that those who enjoy and have a passionate love for all things Japanese, Indie and RPG will feel right at home when purchasing a PlayStation Vita, yet outside of these very specific genres I’d have a hard time recommending the system before researching as to whether or not there are enough games on the system that interest you.
What’s in store for the platform ahead?
So the Vita has had a rocky four years, and whilst first-party support is next to non-existent, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t fun to be found when looking at the next few years ahead in the console’s life cycle. Just recently the Vita has received a wealth of new games from a number of top-tier publishers in the industry, with TT Games bringing their mobile version of LEGO: The Force Awakens to the vita, as well as Square Enix (a Vita favourite) stealth releasing the fully remastered JRPG classic Adventures of Mana after it came to the app store earlier in the year.
Those who regularly subscribe to Sony’s premium PS Plus service can also look forward to a plethora of free games each month also. The most recent Vita games that have come to the service includes: Grim Fandango: remastered, Helldivers and Geometry wars 3, all decent games that span various genres for hours of entertainment. If you already own a PS3 or PS4 and are a PS Plus member, without a Vita you are just leaving free games on the table, along with the potential to transfer saves between systems, and take your favourite games on the go with you.
Is the PlayStation Vita worth buying in 2016?
The truth is that if you’re somewhat on the fence about grabbing a PlayStation Vita, it pays to research into some of the games that have released before and those that are coming in the future. Not only will this help you further justify your purchase into an eco-system that is not the busiest around, but it will also let you know the kind of experiences you are in for in the few years ahead.
For those who adore the JRPG genre or like the idea of taking a LEGO game on the road with them, the answer is a resounding yes, being consistently supported by these kinds of games from their respective publishers. However, if you’re much more accustomed to the heavyweight experiences often found with most triple-A games, there’s plenty of interesting games already available in the library, yet they’re by no means guaranteed any longer.