By Steve Baltimore / January 29th, 2014
Welcome to the first installment of my new series, Vita Corner. This series will consist of editorials covering various aspects of this fine handheld console. In this installment, I am going to talk about some basic hardware features and some misconceptions that are out there about this device. I know to most of you, this will be old news, but there are some out there who are still in the dark about everything this console can do.
First off, I would like to talk a little bit about the Vita’s screen. There is nothing like that OLED screen—the quality is something you really just need to see to believe. Not only do Vita titles look gorgeous on it, but upscaled PSP titles look fantastic, as well. To anyone thinking of picking up a console, I would highly suggest you pick up the current model, the PCH-1000, before the PCH-2000, with its inferior LCD screen, launches in the West.
Now, let’s talk about the control options on this system. With two analog sticks and front and rear touchpads, this system has tons of options in this department. The analog sticks are top-notch and very responsive. Another great feature is that you can fully customize the controls when playing a PSP or PSone classic. This is very handy when playing something like God Eater Burst, where you really needed a second analog stick on the PSP for the camera. Now you can fully map your camera controls to the right analog stick with ease. You can also map controls to the front and rear touchpads if need be.
Here is a point some people consider a huge sticking point against buying this console: the memory card prices. Yes, they are pretty high—though I would have to say you do save money on games in the long run. How, you may ask? Well, it’s simple: PSN sales. There are almost always Vita titles on sale on PSN. For instance, just last week, I got Killzone: Mercenary for 7 bucks (USD). Granted, I am a PlayStation Plus member, but even if I weren’t, the game was 15 bucks, which is over ½ off retail. They have these sales pretty often, so the amount you save on digital games will more than pay for your memory card in time.
You may think…”Well, I had to get a smaller memory card, so I’m gonna be re-downloading things all the time.” This is not true! You can connect your Vita via the provided USB cable or Wi-Fi to a PS3, Windows PC, or Mac and copy your games onto any system via Sony’s Content Manager Assistant. This will save you tons of time when exchanging games on your memory card. And with the numerous software updates, it now works pretty much trouble-free.
I had a person not too long ago tell me Vita memory cards were region-locked. If anyone has told you this, it is completely not true. The Vita console is 100% region-free. However, you will need a separate memory card for each regional PSN account you have. All you have to do is take out your memory card and reset the system to default, meaning you will have to restore your Vita to its factory default setting. This is kind of a pain, since you will have to set up all your Wi-Fi networks again. But after that, all you need to do is log into your EU, JP or US PSN account, put your card back in and you’re all set. It will lock the card to that account unless you format that card later on.
I hear the Vita being compared all the time to tablets and smartphones. Well, I’m gonna give you my take on why this console is much better. First off, for games, you need buttons. Sorry, folks, most smartphone and tablet games have horrible controls. The quality of titles on this console is much better than that of most mobile games. There’s also no DRM or ads that require you to keep the device connected to the Net to play a game. This, to me, is one of the biggest drawbacks of mobile gaming. Sometimes, I’m in places that have no Internet access, and a lot of mobile games do require you to be connected to the Net the entire time you’re playing, especially the free-to-play games.
The last thing I would like touch on is “Never stop playing.” This was the slogan for the Vita for a time, and it fits the console perfectly. With many games either being a Cross-Buy or supporting Cross-Save, you can save your game on your PS3 or PS4, upload it to the cloud and continue to play on the go. We should also not forget the wonderful Remote Play features the console has with the PS4, either.
In the end, I hope everyone will give this fantastic console a chance. I could go into many more details about how good some of the apps, the web browser and other software are, but I really just wanted to touch on the hardware in this installment of Vita Corner. Next time, I will talk about the games. I’ll be doing a list of 10–20 currently available titles I had a blast with. If you have any questions about the Vita hardware, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until next time, happy gaming.