I have a confession; I’m a gadget whore. If it plugs into a wall, it’s shiny, and has an “on” switch I probably have bought it or lusted over it at some point. Handheld systems fall into this realm and I’ve owned just about every one since the Game Boy. The problem is - I never give them the love they deserve - despite every intention of getting my money’s worth. I think part of the problem I’ve always had was most "portable" games just felt like an incomplete package and the systems they ran on a bit shallow. My expectation of them was too high as I wanted the console like experience. Sony’s PlayStation Vita may be a game changer for me, it feels like a portable console and the games have the same quality and swagger as their bigger console brothers.
It’s hard to play the Vita and not think, “ya know, this is what the PSP was originally hyped up to be.” Perhaps technology just wasn’t quite there back in 2005. Perhaps Sony was trying too hard to compete with Nintendo. It’s clear that the Vita isn’t trying to compete with iPod games or even Nintendo 3DS titles. Phone games are a completely different market, quality and price point. Instead Sony has done what Sony does best, make an incredible sexy piece of hardware and filled it with the technology to support it.
My physical launch line up. Notice the plastic wrap on a certain game? Yeah.
The screen is obviously the center point of the system and it’s absolutely gorgeous. While the screen might not feature an HD resolution, I’m not sure you could tell the difference, everything looks crisp on it. Colors are vibrant, viewing angles are solid, and the touch screen responsiveness is exactly as you’d expect. While your eyes are assaulted with beauty your ears should be pleased by the system’s speakers, which pump out some pretty decent spatial sound.
Sony is touting the dual analog stick functionality of the system as the second coming, and as great as that is, it should be expected from gamers. Modern console games simply require this kind of input, so to omit it from the design would have been a have been a huge mistake, just ask any 3DS owner who had begrudgingly purchased a Circle Pad Pro. Overall the layout of the controls are comfortable, though there is a baffling decision when it comes to the touch screen - namely it’s the only method of input on certain things. This goes for the main interface and the menus of several games, forcing you to take your hand off the controls, move it to the touch screen to navigate, and then back to the controls. Honestly, it’s a minor thing, but supporting both d-pad/stick navigation along with the touch screen just seems more natural.