It’s has been just over a year since the Vita was released, so how is it doing compared to the PSP after one year? Not well. The PSP already had a slew of titles ready to be released by 2005, but the Vita has less than a dozen games that have been announced for 2013. The system had a great launch with some excellent games. Uncharted: Golden Abyss showed the Vita’s graphical power and near PS3 quality gameplay. However, it felt like a generic Uncharted experience and played everything too safe. WipEout 2048 was another graphical powerhouse with the typical, and excellent, Wipeout gameplay, but didn’t really do anything new. Rayman Origins was a great port and showed just how vibrant and colorful the OLED screen on the Vita looks. There were a few duds, but the overall launch was pretty good.
People were excited because games like Gravity Rush, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, Persona 4: Golden, and a few other games were ready to be released throughout the year. In fact, the summer had quite a few games being pushed out. The holidays came and went, so where are the games? Being kept inside developers pockets. Due to the poor choices of the PSP there is some sort of stigma against Sony handhelds, and this includes the Xperia Play phone, the UMD design choice, only one analog nub, and pirating issues really turned developers off of Sony’s handhelds. While the Vita has yet to be properly hacked, publishers are still scared. The PSP was hacked and downgraded on day one, but hackers seem to be struggling with Sony’s new proprietary memory card issue. This is good news for developers, but why aren’t they catching on? The Vita’s sales haven’t made a huge splash, and they are just slowly trickling off shelves every month. Should we continue waiting or give up?
Keep waiting and be patient. There are a few AAA titles slated for 2013 starting with Soul Sacrifice and Killzone Mercenary which has proven to be the first good FPS title on Vita, maybe this is the killer app we are waiting for. Previews have shown that the game looks as good as Killzone 3 and feels really solid. While most of 2013 consists of ports, let’s hope by E3 many developers are going to announce some great Vita titles.
For people who are on the fence keep waiting. I can’t really justify spending $250 on the system plus $50+ on a memory card, and $40 per game. Don’t forget a case, and the data plan from AT&T if you get the 3G Vita. $450+ just isn’t worth it. Wait for a price drop, or wait for more games to come out. People who already own a Vita just hold on a bit longer. Right now, my Vita is collecting dust but if you do have one, get a PS Plus account. Sony is releasing free games every month for PS3 and Vita owners.
I have wondered this for years since its slow demise in 2008 when the good games started coming in at a slow drip. 2005-2008 were the PSP’s peak years, but towards the end of 2008 the good games started tapering off and just the crappy console ports were in abundance. The PSP is still doing strong in Japan with lots of AAA titles over there being released but never seeing the light of day here. With God of War: Ghost of Sparta and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together being the last great PSP titles you wonder where it’s going. Nowhere really, but there is still a great library for newcomers hopping on board with the PSP-3000 and PSP GO.
That’s also another problem: Too many hardware iterations. The first PSP (a.k.a. PSP Phat) was bulky and had lots of dead pixel issues due to high-quality LCD screens being new in portable electronics. The PSP Slim & Lite came out that added a new brightness option, better battery life, as well as a better wi-fi card, and sturdier hardware. Due to the crappy LCD screen that showed ghost images on-screen it was quickly pushed off the market and the PSP-3000 model came along with super light (and cheap feeling) hardware, a redesigned UMD door, some rearranged buttons, and switches, as well as the TV output option, but this didn’t really help the software any. By this time games started going digital due to the PSP GO which was a smaller more compact slide-out model that didn’t have a UMD drive and completely failed due to Sony scrapping the goodwill model for UMD owners. If Sony were had used cards like the DS, to begin with, it could have saved development costs and probably saved the hardware from being a failure in the end.
The UMD movie business ceased in 2009 due to the PSP GO coming out and smartphones, tablets, and other streaming services coming onboard so physical media was just too expensive outside DVD and Blu-Ray discs. The PSP was just a big mess of successes and failures, but there is still some good to be had on the system. Some amazing games were released like both God of Wars, Syphon Filters, a slew of Final Fantasy games as well as a Kingdom Hearts game, plus dozens of others that are considered gaming classics. The PS Vita should remedy this problem and hopefully, Sony will succeed more (like the second analog nub is a freaking start). So if you plan on still buying a PSP go ahead if you are a new owner, but people who are thinking about jumping in stay put because the PS Vita is right around the corner.
Handhelds these days have the remake curse with Nintendo being the worst. Really three different GBA’s? Four (and soon to be five) DS models? Once the latest and last iteration comes out you tend to think that model should have been the first. The same goes with the PSP since the 3000 is amazing and should have been the 1000 model. The first thing you’ll notice when you take it out of the box is the weight. This thing feels light as a feather, and I almost thought it was a fake piece of plastic. This also is a benefit when playing games, and reduces hand cramps.
Another thing you’ll notice is it’s slimmer, and all the fat has been trimmed off. The D-pad is built better and is concaved on the inside instead of just flat like the original model. The speakers are located at the top front instead of the bottom thus the speakers are also more clear and less tinny. The addition of a built-in mic is great too for online play. The memory stick slot also has a major change with it up near the top left side instead of the bottom. The slot is also a piece of plastic that comes out instead of the black corner piece. The slot is hidden well and blends in nicely with the unit.
Finally, the UMD slot has changed with a pull-out slot instead of a switch that makes it pop out. You just lay the UMD in instead of sliding it in like a cassette tape. It’s quieter, seems to be slightly faster as well, and uses less battery power. Another good change is the WLAN switch is on top of the unit next to the USB port which keeps you from accidentally switching it on. The console feels better when holding due to its glossy back, and there are no contours for your hands, but this makes holding the unit better for some odd reason.
Other than that everything is the same. The screen is crisper, and brighter, and the new PlayStation home button looks great too. The Wi-Fi is slightly faster, supports newer security, and this unit is just solid and brilliantly designed. I really went back to my old UMD collection just to play the unit more, because games look nicer, and they just feel great being played on a solid piece of hardware.