PS Vita 4 Years on – It’s Still a Viable Gaming Platform, but You Need to Understand What It Is

It’s been four years since the PS Vita released in Japan, yet it doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was unboxing my brand new system in the living room before my partner, who, in a bid to shut me up for a bit, kindly bought it as a gift. I sat on the floor in a child-like manner with my new console still in its packaging. Giddy, I tore away at the Amazon packaging, discarding it haphazardly around the room until I got to the goods. Eager to get my hands on the latest bit of kit, I didn’t think twice about ripping the console’s box to shreds, much to the dismay of my onlooking other half.

A decimated box and a messy living room later, I’d finally got the prize: My new PS Vita. It was clean. So clean that I slid in my hands and I almost dropped the thing. I carefully switched it on, barking “no, don’t need it” when my other half suggested reading the instruction manual; I already knew everything about the console and I wasn’t about to sit and read some bloody instructions when the latest entertainment system was sat in my sweaty palms.

Before the PS Vita released I’d watched just about every trailer for each announced game. I’d read every article about the console’s capabilities, and I’d even bought a couple of games via my local Blockbuster (R.I.P) before I even owned the console. I’ve always stated that, as a person who needs to write about games in an impartial manner, I’m not really a fan of any console. I don’t have a company that I pledge allegiance to, nor do I give two toots as to which console sells better – I care about games.

That being said, I think the PS Vita has become the exception to my own self-imposed rule of not taking a side. With the market for dedicated handheld consoles limited to Sony’s PS Vita and Nintendo’s 3DS, it just seemed logical to pick the one that best suits my gaming needs. I do own and play a 3DS (even got suckered into the 2DS hype…), but the PS Vita remains my primary on-the-go console, even after four years of bitterly muttering “f**k you, Sony” every time I looked at the prices of PS Vita memory cards. In fact, I’ve probably cursed Sony for just about every decision regarding the PS Vita.

The last couple of years have seen AAA support for the console all but die. I rejoiced at Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the PS Vita, and I almost wet myself with excitement just watching off-screen recordings of Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Don’t even get me started on LittleBigPlanet Vita. Then the releases started to slow down, at least in the types of games I’m interested in. What came about was the influx of indie games. I’m not against indie games at all, but I think it’s fair to say I took part in the collective groan when 2D side-scrollers were announced one after the other. My argument was that I’d paid (well, the Mrs paid, but out of my bank) around £250 for a console that promised to house console-quality games, not titles that I can pick up on my smartphone at a better price.

It’s not been all bad – in fact, it’s probably opened my eyes to the imaginative ideas that come from smaller developers whose decisions aren’t based upon rigorous market research and focus groups. I’ve played games that I’d otherwise not give a second look at, one of which I’ve been playing for well over two years.

After the AAA’s dried-up and the indies took over the PS Vita, I laid my pretty little console down and left it untouched for far too long. I’d given remote-play a go in the PS4’s earlier days, but it wasn’t really up to scratch. The lag was unbearable and all it achieved was getting me to say “f**k you, Sony” once again. However, in recent months remote play has become my saviour. My partner takes up the TV a lot of time and so I’m forced to utilise the PS Vita’s remote play in order to avoid Ru Paul’s Drag Race and other nonsense. With a frame-rate bump to 60fps for games that support it and all but eliminated lag, it’s a blessing, for sure.

It’s not the only use the PS Vita has, though, and that’s thanks to PlayStation Now. The subscription service has effectively given my PS Vita a second – or third – shot at life. I can play a bunch of PS3 games via the service on my PS4 or, when the TV is occupied by bitchy cat-fights amongst grown men, I can pluck out the PS Vita and play through some games that I’d previously missed out on or just didn’t bother to finish.

Back when the PS Vita released, I envisioned a future where we’d get top-name games hitting the console every month. It’d be my other home console, effectively. That’s not happened, but I’m not too pissed off about it because it sort of still has happened. Between PS Now providing me with over 100 games to pick and play at any moment and PS4 remote play on the toilet/in the bath, I think I seriously underestimated what the future could hold for the little console that was written off far too early.

Perhaps in a few more years we’ll see even more use for the Vita and, hopefully, a successor, though the latter seems unlikely at this point in time, especially with Sony focussing all of its efforts on the profitable home console.

In short, it’s not been a bad four years. Yes, there have been bad times, but the amount of fun one can get out of something that costs so little these days is something to cheer about. The memory card situation is still a pitiful joke, though, so once again, as I look to my PS Vita and try to decide which game to delete to make room for a new addition to my library I say: F**k you, Sony.

Four years, eh? How’s the console treated you since its release? Have you stuck by the little console that could, or did you give up on it early on? Are you a late adopter who has taken a shine to the console? Viva la Vita down in the comments below.

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