The Vita is coming out tomorrow and I wasn’t sure what exactly I should write concerning the launch. So I decided to take the easy way out and look at five reasons why you should be excited about the Vita. As you may be aware, the Playstation Vita is Sony’s next-gen handheld system. It is the successor to the Playstation Portable (PSP), which was, arguably, the only successful non-Nintendo handheld ever made, and even then it lagged miles behind the Nintendo DS. The Vita was released in Japan opposite the latest instalment of the wildly popular Monster Hunter franchise, Monster Hunter 3G, released on the 3DS. It has been struggling in its home territory due to a combination of the 3DS taking off, and a lack of games, which appeal to Japanese gamers. Nevertheless, the Vita can’t be considered a failure just yet, especially since its North American and European launch haven’t even happened yet. So, let’s look at some reasons as to why the Vita should be a success upon its launch in the west.
|This is a pretty accurate graph, people. Thank you internet!|
1.) Backwards Compatibility
First let’s start with one of the shakier praiseworthy merits of the Vita: backwards compatibility. For those who don’t know, backwards compatibility is the ability for a next-gen system to play previous-gen games. The Vita isn’t entirely backwards compatible the same way the 3DS is, but a substantial amount of the PSP library is available for digital download, with the promise of new titles being added. Some games that work on the Vita aren’t on Sony’s official list of backwards compatible games, such as Valkyria Chronicles 2, but backwards compatibility, even if limited, should be praised. This doesn’t help most PSP owners, who had a collection of UMDs, but for early Vita adopters who never owned a PSP (And I’m sure there are plenty of those), there will be a significant collection of high quality games available to be downloaded on day one. Sony has said that Playstation Classics won’t be functional with the Vita at launch, but compatibility with these titles would be integrated, most likely, in a firmware update in the same way the 3DS’ e-shop was added after the launch. The Vita’s backwards compatibility at launch leaves a lot to be desired, but any backwards compatibility is a good thing, especially with the PS3 cutting its PS2 backwards compatibility.
|Thankfully, these horrible things are gone forever.|
2.) Game Variety
The Vita is launching with 26 games, which is, in and of itself, extremely impressive, but what is more impressive is the sheer variety of games. Japanese gamers were disappointed with the lack of a huge game such as a Monster Hunter, but western audiences will not have such a worry, considering the success of the Uncharted series in the west. Almost every genre is represented with the notable exception of RPGs. Action gamers will find plenty to love with the new Uncharted game. Platform junkies will jump all over Rayman Origins (Bad pun). Fighting fans are spoiled with choice over Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and Blazblue Continuuum Shift Extend, and racing aficionados will get plenty from Wipeout 2048, and Modnation Racers (Although, going by reviews, I wouldn’t recommend this one). The point is that the insane variety of games allows the Vita to appeal to an incredibly huge audience on day one, and that isn’t including the PSP or Mini (Never include Minis) games available for download.
|If you stare at this for five minutes, all you’ll see when you close your eyes is Duke Nukem giving you the finger.|
3.) A Modern Console
The Playstation Vita is a full console experience in a way that no handheld has been able to be. It is the first handheld with two, industry standard, analogue sticks that has the graphical power to be able to have games with full 3D environments. The importance of this addition is that without a second analogue stick, the player cannot effectively control the camera and move their character through a 3D space. This was a serious problem in the design of the 3DS and prompted the release of the Frankenstick add-on. Secondly, the Vita is the first handheld which implements a modern achievement system by implementing Playstation Trophies. I’m not going to get into the debate over whether or not trophies are good or not right now, but they are extremely popular and the inclusion of trophies is a major selling point for many gamers. Finally, there will be interactivity between the Vita and PS3, including transferring of games, and saves.
|Shameless self promotion: Just platinum’d Final Fantasy XIII-2. Thumbs up!|
4.) Upcoming Games
It isn’t enough to have good launch games. A system needs to continue to have good releases in order to energize the system. The 3DS was able to build momentum and overcome its less than perfect launch with Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, Super Mario 3D Land, and Mario Kart 7. Similarly, the Vita has a good number of exciting games on the horizon. Metal Gear Solid’s HD collection, Zone of Ender’s HD collection, and Final Fantasy X HD, are some top notch ports coming soon to the Vita. Persona 4: The Golden should stand as the definitive version of one of, if not the best games last generation. It, along with a Disgaea 3 port should bring the RPG crowd in. On top of this there are continuations of popular series such as the recently announced Call of Duty, and the top down shooter: Silent Hill Book of Memories. Finally there are exciting new IPs such as Gravity Daze, which will be very interesting to see how it ends up fairing in the review process. All in all, the Vita isn’t just blowing its load prematurely (Alright, I could have used a better expression). It looks like it will have some serious staying power.
|I would seriously buy the Vita for this game alone.|
5.) Competitive Edge
The Vita has a competitive edge over the 3DS in several key areas, which will be important for the system given the lead the 3DS has. Firstly, until the inevitable 3DS redesign, the Vita is the only system with twin sticks, and it’s stronger, making it likely the preferred platform for multiplatform games. Since both the 3DS and the Vita are strong enough to take similar games, multiplatform games will likely be favoured by the Vita. Multiplatform games have never been a significant factor in handhelds, but as the capacity of handhelds approach consoles, there is likely to be an increase of successful multiplatform games. Although, at this point it is mere speculation on my part. Secondly, the PSN is fully functional and user friendly, and while the 3DS’ e-shop is the best online service Nintendo has ever offered, it’s still far behind the sophistication of the Playstation Network. This framework allows for better development and distribution of games, demos, and DLC, which are key in modern gaming, and something Nintendo is working hard to catch up on.
|I love you, Nintendo, and your e-shop is getting better all the time, but it doesn’t compare to the PSN.|
The Vita is coming tomorrow, and, at this point, nobody knows if it will sink or swim. It could be a runaway success that justifies the $50 million advertisement campaign Sony has announced, or it could be the biggest failure since the Virtual Boy. That being said, the time for judgement doesn’t come until the system has been out for a year, as most systems struggle to find a place in their first year. The 3DS struggled and now it’s at the top of the world. Whether or not the Vita is a success in the end doesn’t matter now, what matters is that it doesn’t look like the Vita will disappoint early adopters. It’s being launched with an armada of quality games, with more on the way. It has a modern control scheme and interface, and it promises a large amount of connectivity with the PS3. Altogether, the Vita looks like it should have a wonderful launch.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer