Feature Article

Why You Should Buy a Vita in 2014

Just buy one already!

by

Join us over the next few days as we look at all of the leading games consoles and platforms out right now and try to convince you why you should spend your hard-earned cash. We're kicking off with the PlayStation Vita, with Tom McShea outlining why Sony's portable is worth your while.

I haven't been shy about my love for the Vita. Hardly a day goes by that I don't lose myself in one of the countless digital offerings on Sony's fantastic handheld. And yet, if you were to look at the sales figures, you would see that I'm part of a tiny minority. Well, I can't explain why others haven't been as excited as I am, but I can sure tell you why this is a system that you need to own.

The Library

The Vita is a veritable greatest-hits collection of the best independent games out there. For some, having ports dominate the library is a bad thing; I have no idea why that's the case. Games from every platform find their way onto the Vita, so instead of rushing from one device to another, I have most everything I want in one place. Plus, even if I already played a game for dozens of hours when it first came out (such as Terraria or Spelunky), having them in portable form makes me eager to dive in once more. Sony has really embraced portability by giving some games cross-buy/cross-save functionality. I can solve devious puzzles in Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark on my PlayStation 3, and then continue where I left off when I commute to work in the morning.

With enough practice, you, too, can juggle yetis.

Although the indie section is where the Vita is strongest, there's a wealth of more traditional retail offerings as well. As far as I'm concerned, Rayman Origins and Legends were meant to be played on the Vita, because platformers thrive in short bursts. I'd much rather collect lums on the go than tethered to my television. And visual novels such as Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward and Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc have coaxed me to leave my Kindle at home while I'm absorbed in their digital stories. If you want to spend more than a hundred hours invested in one amazing adventure, Persona 4 Golden will keep you riveted with the daily lives of ordinary high school students who battle demons. Oh, and whenever you need your heart warmed, Tearaway is like an arts and crafts table brought to life. Where else can you design the scary face of a jack-o'-lantern while exploring a colorful world?

Don't forget about the expansive back catalog from previous generations. Many of my favorite games from the PlayStation and PSP can be downloaded on the Vita. For someone like me, who has never played through Metal Gear Solid, has missed many games from Final Fantasy's heyday, and somehow skipped Chrono Cross the first time around, having these available wherever I am is a huge bonus. I am never at a want for new games for my Vita. Because of the huge selection of games on offer, my backlog grows larger with each passing week as I struggle to find time to play everything.

Upcoming Games

If I could choose any game to be brought to the Vita, it would be Super Meat Boy, which is sadly an impossible dream. Lousy licensing issues! However, for those who enjoy the comedic sensibilities and dastardly challenge of that unforgettable platformer, there's The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, made by one half of Team Meat. I just hope it isn't the first game that causes me to throw my Vita in anger after what are sure to be many, many deaths. Speaking of building on legacies, the mastermind behind Thomas Was Alone is bringing the stealthy Volume to the portable realm, and if you desperately wish you could spend more time with the cast from Golden, look no further than Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Dancing? On a handheld? Why not? The more rhythm games, the better, no matter how bizarre they sound.

The only way to counter a spy is to be a counterspy!

You're still hungry for more games, aren't you? You're so greedy. Well, you're in luck, because there are more than just three games planned. CounterSpy has been making me excited for quite some time. Sneaking around is my specialty, and I assume such hijinks are made even more interesting when you throw them into a Cold War setting. It's better than a hot war, right? Well, that depends on what you want. Android Assault Cactus sports a silly name and copious amounts of blood as you race for high scores in twisted battle arenas that may as well be warzones. And don't forget about Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, which should pick up right where the outrageous original left off.

Want to give your trigger finger a rest? Hohokum is as far away from police enforcers and hired assassins as you can imagine. Drifting through eye-catching worlds while relaxing music plays over you seems like the perfect way to forget about the day's troubles, even while surrounded by anxious commuters on a train. I could go on listing games that make me squirm in anticipation (Dustforce! Rogue Legacy! Natural Doctrine! Starbound!), but, sadly, I must wrap this section up. I'll leave you with two words: Murasaki Baby. Let that sink in for a second. Want to know what it is? Think Baby's Day Out except, you know, fun.

The Hardware

Raw specifications have never interested me. What does matter is how a system's technical prowess affects its games. Killzone: Mercenary looks just as good as its PlayStation 3 counterparts, and having that kind of power in portable form is a luxury. With gorgeous games such as Gravity Rush and Assassin's Creed III: Liberation cramming in visuals I'm accustomed to seeing on a television screen, the Vita provides great-looking games no matter where you feel like playing. Plus, don't ignore the incredible flexibility of this hardware. There's a touchscreen, back-touch panel, gyroscopes, a camera, and two analog sticks, so a huge variety of experiences can be brought to life.

Unlike the platform she appears on, nothing can keep Gravity Rush's Kat down.

But that's all marketing babble. One of the reasons the Vita is such an incredible piece of hardware is that it's extremely versatile. By supporting Unity--an engine used by many developers--scores of games can be easily ported to Sony's handheld. And because the system is so powerful, developers can bring games over without taxing the system's resources. That's why we're seeing a steady influx of so many independent games. Sony's hardware welcomes the small-scale games that provide the creativity and innovation that make me so excited about the future while still being powerful enough to let larger teams push its technical limits. It really is the best of both worlds.

Speaking of the future, because the Vita is so well designed, I don't expect many changes in the coming year. Sony has released a cheaper model in Japan that swaps the gorgeous screen out for something less impressive, and there's a chance that could make it stateside, but don't expect anything more significant. The Vita TV is also out over there; it lets you play Vita games on your television, but it's little more than a novelty. So the only real hang-up with the system right now is the exorbitant price of the memory cards. Hopefully, Sony will cut their price soon, eliminating the last reason someone might have to stay away from the platform.

Other Stuff

The Vita's focus is entirely on games and you can see that dedication when you look at the ancillary features that further enhance the experience. PlayStation Plus is a subscription service that is a huge help for those who want to spend as little money as possible while still enjoying the best games out there. Every week, Sony hands out select games free of charge, along with deals on lots of other games, so as long as you're willing to shell out $50 per year, you're always going to have new games to try out. Just last week I downloaded Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, the sequel to one of my favorite kart racing games, and that joins other free games such as Soul Sacrifice and Hotline Miami in my queue. Not too shabby.

Free is the perfect price for any Sonic game.

Another amazing feature is Remote Play. The Vita seamlessly connects to my PlayStation 4, allowing me to play console games without the need for a television. I'm immediately spoiled by this option. While my wife watches a movie, I can try to survive for one more day in Don't Starve or learn another sea shanty in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. I've had no problems with lag hindering my experience, and even though the Vita has fewer buttons than the DualShock 4, developers have figured out creative ways to use the touchscreen that has eliminated any potential problems. Leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 4, Remote Play never seemed that intriguing, but it's an indispensable part of my gaming routine now that I have it.

Finally, Sony just unveiled PlayStation Now, which feels downright gluttonous considering I already have more games than I could possibly find time to play. Now is a streaming service that brings the extensive back catalog from Sony's rich history (PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3) to modern platforms. And, yes, the Vita totally supports this service. Just imagine playing Shadow of the Colossus while staying in a hotel room, or being able to admire Alice: Madness Returns after being dragged to your in-law's place. The Vita's impressive hardware, robust streaming solutions, and varied library have made it my go-to system, and it's clear to me that anyone who loves games would adore one once they give it a chance. Remember, "It's better on Vita" isn't just a slogan I made up; it's the truth.

Discussion

545 comments
S0num
S0num

Do you have a preference between the OLED and the slim? I like my OLED a lot, but I've been considering selling it and getting the slim instead because it's more lightweight and a longer battery life. I don't think the drop in screen quality to the LCD would bother me :s still unsure though.

Poncho_Hachacha
Poncho_Hachacha

I bought a Vita at launch and wound up selling it just under a year in. It's a great piece of hardware that in quite a few ways even put the aging 360 and ps3 to shame, especially when multitasking. But, the Vita exclusive games just didn't feel complete enough to me. Many of them were missing a feature here or there or just lacked polish. That's really the biggest problem with it imo. The ps store offerings were great. The additional apps were great. But, the Vita specific games just fell short imo.


Hopefully Sony gets it's together and starts developing the brand better from software to marketing. If so, I could see myself buying another one. But, until then, I'm content just seeing how it plays out from the sideline.


This year's e3 will be big for me as far as the Vita goes.

chyng85
chyng85

Sure I'll buy one after price cut in my region.

mtappe
mtappe

Great system; well built, outstanding resolution, functionality better than the 3DS.  That said, 3DS owns a superior gaming library and it's only getting better.  If the price went down a little on the Vita, I might be tempted but as it stands, the 3DS is the go-to portable for the foreseeable future.  Counting the great library of DS games that are also playable on the 3DS, it's not even close concerning quality games.  It is MORE than just Mario and Zelda, which is the tired quip thrown out by all of the haters.  This is what I've got rolling on my 3DS at any given time:


3DS CARTRIDGES

ANIMAL CROSSING:  NEW LEAF

MARIO KART 7

SUPER MARIO 3D LAND

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA:  A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA:  OCARINA OF TIME

POKEMON X

POKEMON Y

ETRIAN ODYSSEY IV:  LEGENDS OF THE TITAN

ETRIAN ODYSSEY:  UNTOLD – THE MILLENIUM GIRL

CASTLEVANIA:  MIRROR OF FATE

CAVE STORY 3D

FIRE EMBLEM AWAKENING

KID ICARUS:  UPRISING

RUNE FACTORY 4

SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI  IV

3DS GUIDE – THE LOUVRE

LUIGI’S MANSION:  DARK MOON

DONKEY KONG COUNTRY RETURNS

MONSTER HUNTER 3 ULTIMATE

SUPER STREET FIGHTER IV

PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE MIRACLE MASK

RESIDENT EVIL REVELATIONS

3DS DOWNLOADS OFF E-SHOP

STEAMWORLD DIG

SHANTAE

SHANTAE:  RISKY’S REVENGE

GUNMAN CLIVE

RAGE OF THE GLADIATOR

PUSHMO

3D CLASSICS:  KID ICARUS

MIGHTY SWITCH FORCE

HYDROADVENTURE:  SPIN CYCLE

CRIMSON SHROUD

CAVE STORY

DS GAMES

CASTLEVANIA:  ORDER OF ECCLESIA

CASTLEVANIA:  DAWN OF SORROW

CASTLEVANIA:  PORTRAIT OF RUIN

ZELDA – SPIRIT TRACKS

ZELDA – PHANTOM HOURGLASS

OKAMIDEN

CHRONO TRIGGER

YOSHI’S ISLAND

FIRE EMBLEM – SHADOW DRAGON

GOLDEN SUN – DARK DAWN

MIGHT AND MAGIC – CLASH OF HEROES

THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU

METROID PRIME – HUNTERS

RADIANT HISTORIA

BROKEN SWORD – SHADOW OF THE TEMPLAR'S

AGE OF EMPIRES – MYTHOLOGIES

ETRIAN ODYSSEY II – HEROES OF LAGAARD

DRAGON QUEST IX – SENTINELS OF THE STARRY SKIES

“” VI – REALMS OF REVELATION

“” V – HAND OF THE HEAVENLY BRIDE

“” IV – CHAATERS OF THE CHOSEN

PROFESSOR LAYTON – CURIOUS VILLAGE

“” – LAST SPECTER

equanox214
equanox214

How come when they show off remote play they dont just turn the damn tv off so people dont go "why would i want to play on a small screen whenim infront of the tv?"

equanox214
equanox214

sweet lord rogue legacy is coming to vita!?! gaaahh i might have to buy that again

LeoKRock
LeoKRock

PS Vita + PS Plus subscription + 32GB memory card and you are set for life.

jflkdjs
jflkdjs

Well done, Tom. Loved every bit of the article. I actually have 3 Vitas. Beat that! :)

demukinu
demukinu

I have Vita, so I don't need a PS3 :p 

I love my Vita, but it's basically a "smaller console". There is not much going for it if you already own a PS3 for example, it plays exactly the same. Still pretty good though, I like mine.

euphoric666
euphoric666

I looooooooove my Ps Vita. i don't even own a cellphone, but damn i can't go out without my Vita.

Mortz_88
Mortz_88

I was never really interested in a PS Vita but I got it as a present for Christmas and I haven't looked back, it is worth having just to play the old PS classics on the go, I am currently on a Final Fantasy marathon with the 50% sale, so much nostalgia!

93BlackHawk93
93BlackHawk93

I'd love to get one especially for the Persona games but I have a huge backlog. TT

drwhoiscool
drwhoiscool

I'm pretty happy with mine, FFX remake is the game i'm really looking forward to...  when its complete.   The only game i have seen that slows it down is LBP  (huge lbp fan, slightly disapointed in the Vita version).    Anyone who owns one, I would recommend the NYKO expansion.  For $25 you more then Double your battery life.  Hotline Miami  and soul sacrifice are pretty awesome for the price.

fanirama
fanirama

Best handheld I've ever purchased to date. Games are also spectacular. I don't think there's a better handheld than this. Hihgly recommended to anyone on the fence.

thrombosis45
thrombosis45

You could at least try to make it look like it's not an advertisement. I guess Gamespot just doesn't care anymore, gotta get paid one way or the other! Nintendo is quickly becoming like American beer companies, if they would spend all the money they spend on manipulating media on their actual products, then they wouldn't suck and wouldn't need to.

Lowri001
Lowri001

PS Vita is such an underrated platform, mine lives in my bag, its great being able to play old FF titles on the bus to work.

Cellpwn
Cellpwn

Persona 4: Golden is borderline system-seller material in my book. That game almost made me forget the real world existed for a few days.

KiraDEATHNOTE
KiraDEATHNOTE

I don't regret buying a PS Vita. Tom said it best "Just buy one already"! More people buy a PS Vita then more games we'll see for the system (that's a fact people).

I use the vita a lot more than my 3DS. It's hard to go back and play games on a 3DS once you start playing a PS Vita.

Personally, I'm more interested in more JRPG games on PS Vita than the ones on 3DS.

jon_bone
jon_bone

Because you don't mind paying for insane memory card prices!

FireVixen
FireVixen

I love my Vita. And this is coming from someone who usually doesn't do portable gaming. It's so cool. Especially since I get my favorite PS1 classics.

Iranazi
Iranazi

I'll probably get one when I get a PS4, which might still be a while since I need a replacement PS3 first

sagmoon
sagmoon

Thanks Tom! Great article, and I couldn't agree more. As a huge portable gamer, I had 2 DS's and a 3DS, and then I got a VITA. As much as liked the Resident Evil offerings on the 3DS, once I played the VITA, I couldn't go back to my 3DS. I couldn't stare at that tiny screen anymore and I was tired of my hands cramping and going numb. I sold all my DS's back. VITA ruined me for any other handheld, the screen is gorgeous and it's so comfortable to hold. And with Playstation Plus carrying over from my PS3 to my PS4 to my VITA for one low price? It's a no brainer!!

Dieknochenblume
Dieknochenblume

Great article. I'm a late adopter though, so I'll definitely get a Vita once the price drops and it comes bundled with a PS4 slim version. That will be awesome.

jmartin1016
jmartin1016

I bought mine about a year ago. It's my favorite system of all time. And McShea is right about Rayman Legends. It's way better on Vita than home consoles. Don't knock it till you try it. 

p_cardoso
p_cardoso

What I did:


- Sold my PS3 w/o games, just a controller, for X.

- Bought used PS Vita plus 32GB memory card for the same X.

- Downloaded entire year of PS Plus offerings.

- Bought P4Golden on PSN Xmas Sale.


Now enjoying gaming nirvana, giving time for PS4 to grow its library. And in the future, when I eventually buy it, I'll have a great companion device ready for it.


What's not to like? :)

deadkingdg
deadkingdg

No, I will not buy one in 2014. I already bought one in 2013, why would I buy another one?

FULGOREY2K
FULGOREY2K

no, and no.

those memory cards prices are nuts

hoyholyhoy
hoyholyhoy

@Poncho_Hachacha That's what every impatient consumer does. They buy something on launch, expect it to blast off with high volumes of the best games ever conceived, end up sorely disappointed WAY too soon and sell the thing before it even had a life. That's what happened to the Vita, that's what's happening with the new consoles. It's so damn sad.

metagold
metagold

@mtappeI don't see why you feel the need to make an argument for the 3DS here. The article is titled "Why you should buy a Vita in 2014" not, "Why you should but a Vita and not a 3DS in 2014."

Right now the dedicated handheld gaming market is losing out to the mobile market. Debating between this two systems is just childish when the real enemy is the mobile phone market. If you consider yourself a dedicated handheld gamer, as long as you have the money you should buy both to support the market. Besides, they both equally great handhelds IMO. While the 3DS does have the fuller game library, the Vita's library is nothing to laugh at either, especially considering it's low user base. For what games it does lack in, it makes up for in superior hardware and online services. If people would stop making so many excuses and just buy the damn thing, I'm sure developer support would further improve. At this point it has enough games (and games on the way) to be well worth the asking price.

Jkouw
Jkouw

@equanox214  to show the low latency of the stream, as there is very little lag.

mtappe
mtappe

@demukinu I own a PS3 and have Terraria, Dragon's Crown and some of the other games that you can get on the Vita so I just don't see the reason to get a portable version of my PS3.

shreddyz
shreddyz

@thrombosis45 remember how they laughed at people claiming they were conspiracy theorists??this site treats it's users like ignorant f**ks. No wonder no one comes here anymore.

Futboljunky
Futboljunky

Yea, the msrp still sucks. As others say they go on sale all the

time now. It isn't nearly as big of an issue as it was a year ago.

drwhoiscool
drwhoiscool

@jon_bonethey go on sale once and a while.  I stocked up when future shop had them for 50% off.

matastig
matastig

@sagmoonHey you can always  use the Wii U Tablet it has a bigger screen and .......oh wait i heard  the Tablet is not a portable video game console right?  oh well (LOL )

Lhomity
Lhomity

@deadkingdgI bought a 2nd one recently, so my spouse can stop stealing mine when I want to play. $198 AUD for Vita plus Tearaway was a good deal.

ZombieGuyGeorge
ZombieGuyGeorge

@deadkingdg just for the lulz. im buying a third one!... ok, not really , but maybe it's a good idea if they'll change the oled for a  crappy led. they did the same with psp and man, I hate my psp3000

drwhoiscool
drwhoiscool

@FULGOREY2K That is the hardest part of the system, just got to wait till you see them on sale.  Don't buy 1, ever.  you'll fill it up.

mtappe
mtappe

@metagold @mtappe There are pros and cons to both systems.  My brother has a Vita and i've played Terrraria and Dragon's Crown on it and like the system alot, as I stated.  The pros are the Vita is well built, doesn't cramp up the hands like the 3DS, and it has a superior resolution and screen size.  It just feels like more quality was built into the thing.  The only real props I am giving to the 3DS is that it's library of games is currently superior, so it's not like i'm giving them tons of kudos and dissing the Vita.  There just isn't enough software out to warrant my buying the hardware, at this time.  And BTW, I am not the only person on this board to compare both systems.  This isn't trolling, this is making points about both handhelds that are dominating the market.

mtappe
mtappe

@Blabadon @demukinu @fanirama Yeah, Blabber, i'll compare the superior in number and quality games from the 3DS to the Vita library anyday.  Just the great games from the DS alone, that are compatible for the 3DS, can compete with what is currently on the Vita.  The 3 DS Castlevania's are arguably better than most anything on that system and we are talking 2005-2008 gen.

matastig
matastig

@WolfgarTheQuiet

Nah i was just making fun of Nintendo, they can make a huge screen attached to a"Joystick"  but not to their Portables lol  

KiraDEATHNOTE
KiraDEATHNOTE

@rhymeswithfreak@KiraDEATHNOTE@FULGOREY2K

Nope. It's more than worth it anyways.

You can find a sale online on amazon or somewhere else. You can just buy 8GB or 16GB and be just fine (if you have a PC or PS3 you canuse them as a hub for your PS vita games and psp games).