As an owner of a Vita and therefore a forced ambassador of Vita Island, it is my civic duty to my country and countrymen to reach out to a specific demographic in these troubled times. I’m talking about those disenfranchised with Nintendo who are feeling left out in the dust by The Big N’s lackluster offerings on the Switch release. As someone who is already planning on picking up the Switch for my own reasons, I still do realize that the critical reception of the recent presentation has been pretty mixed, and for that reason, I want to provide an answer to all of those unimpressed and left wondering: what handheld system can I look forward to next?
The answer is: the Playstation Vita.
The Switch itself, at least the portable portion of it, isn’t totally unlike the Switch. The design is similar, the screen size is in close proximity, even the graphics are comparable to some degree. Dual thumb-sticks, touch capabilities, the whole nine yards. On the surface, they are very similar devices, ignoring the HDMI out of the Switch, of course.
But the hardware is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the source of criticism. Most were put off by the lack of release-day games, and the slow trickle of post-launch titles throughout the rest of 2017. But folks, that is where the Vita shines, with it’s game library not only in the past few years, but going forwards into 2017 and beyond.
Throw away your preconceived notions about the Vita not having any games. If my game wall had anything to say about that, it would be “your opinion about the Vita not having any games is incorrect.” Currently I have more Vita games than I do 3DS games, and I don’t have a single JRPG in my collection, which seems to be what the Vita is best known for. See, what stands out about the Vita for me and what made me want one in the first place, is that it fills the void that the Nintendo 3DS has when it comes to game selection. Certain genres practically don’t exist on the 3DS, but are plentiful on the Vita. Allow me to emphasize.
The Game Selection
I bought a 3DS for Nintendo’s first party games. There are plenty of third party titles out there but Nintendo consoles sell mostly to play first party games. Donkey Kong, Mario, Kirby, Pokemon, you name it. But when I had a craving for a 3D platformer, I was out of luck. When I wanted a first person shooter, also out of luck. A seriously huge, 60+ hour in-depth RPG? Well, aside from Xenoblade Chronicles and Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, you’re a little limited there.
Long story short, when it comes to the 3DS, you have a few key genres that are well covered: 2D platformers and action-adventure games. Your Marios and your Zeldas. But it’s lacking in the FPS, JRPG, and 3D platformer realm. And even though there is some overlap of what genres are on what system, there are simply some terrific titles on the Vita that are not and will never come to the 3DS. And that is where the Vita became my best friend.
When I want a 3D platformer, I have the Jak & Daxter Trilogy, The Ratchet & Clank Collection, and Oddworld: Strangers Wrath. That’s technically 7 games total, by the way.
How about some fantastic 2D platformers, like Rayman Legends, Shovel Knight, and Little Big Planet? In the realm of first-person shooters, Unit 13 and Killzone Mercenary.
The Vita got me into rhythm games, a genre I had never even considered. Particularly, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd (although there are a total of three Project Diva games on the Vita), Lumines, and Superbeat Xonic.
There are some great action-RPGs and action-adventure titles on the Vita as well, such as Ys: Memories of Celceta, Dragon’s Crown, God of War Collection, Soul Sacrifice and Gravity Rush.
Keep in mind that all of the aforementioned games are all physical releases that I either bought used for very cheap, or had imported from Europe, also for very cheap. There is a whole host of great games on the PSN Store, many of which see limited physical releases through Limited Run Games.
The short of it is, even though Sony has tried to pretend the Vita doesn’t exist, there are many individuals dedicated to keeping it alive. Games are dropping all the time, physical copies are still being made, and it’s not going to die anytime soon. Just visit this page if you need more proof.
Acquiring a Playstation Vita
One of the reasons for writing this article now and not, say, six months from now, is that the Vita is actually in the process of disappearing from the part of the world that’s not Japan. As Sony has stopped producing them and stores have stopped stocking them, buying used is about your only option. The GameStops in my area still seem to have plenty in stock, both in terms of hardware and of physical used games (with a light assortment of new ones), but expect this stock to disappear in the coming months.
Of course, for you, prospective new Vita owner, this means that you can nab some great prices on the hardware. Also worth considering is the chance of Vita owners selling their collection with plans to use the money to buy a Switch, or even a 3DS, which Nintendo assures us isn’t losing support any time soon. A quick glimpse on local buy/sell services such as Craigslist or LetGo and there are tons of deals for entire collections for ~$250. That’s potentially hundreds of hours of portable entertainment for $50 less than the Switch hardware.
When acquiring games for the system, you’ll want to check eBay first and foremost. There are tons of games for sale up there, at near-liquidation prices in most cases, and as the Vita is a region-free system, you can easily obtain most games that you want in physical form, from out of your local region if necessary. A good part of my collection are European imports of games that had no physical release in the West. Another part are limited release games from the aforementioned Limited Run Games.
If digital downloads are more your style, the PSN Store has sales very frequently, and prices drop all the time, but a memory card of substantial size for a primarily-digital collection is going to set you back to the tune of at least $60 for a 32 gigabyte proprietary card.
The Vita is here to stay for the foreseeable future. As long as developers find it easy to develop on, we will continue to see releases, and as long as companies keep selling limited run copies, we’ll keep seeing physical copies. The Switch may succeed or it may fail, but Vita Island seems to be impervious to Sony’s repeated attempts to give it the cold-shoulder.
Buy a Vita before it’s too late, and come join us over at Vita Island!