I have always been a fan of portable gaming systems. Back in the 80s, it was all about the Nintendo Game and Watch and the less than impressive Tiger Electronic versions of classic arcade games. Portable gaming, in those days, was more of a novelty than anything else. When Nintendo came out with their much-anticipated Game Boy, though, my love for portable gaming went into overdrive.
Decades passed, and we have seen many successful (and unsuccessful) portable platforms fighting to be gamers’ choice of pocket real estate. Recently, there has been a surge in mainstream and casual gaming that has bled over to mobile, bringing online access fees in the form of data plans and the DLC model with it.
The newest addition to the portable video game market is the Sony PlayStation Vita. Instead of giving you a breakdown of hardware specs I will just tell you about my experiences with the with the system. The first thing that I noticed was how elegant the body is. It has a very “Apple” approach to hardware design with the finely crafted chrome around the face of the system. The next thing that I recognized was how small the D-Pad, the four face buttons, and the dual analog sticks are. It would seem that every part of the PSVita was small, but that is not the case. The main attraction to the system has got to be the large 5 inch OLED screen. Pictures do not do this system justice; you must see it in person. This screen also does more than just look beautiful, it is also features multi-touch input that responded very precisely.
I was welcomed to the system’s user interface with a series of mini-games that were just mere distractions, but did a good job of showing off all of the major gameplay features of the system. The Vita already had an update available, so I downloaded it in order to get the most current, fully enhanced experience. After updating, I proceeded to input my PSN ID into the Vita so I could continue playing certain games in between the PS3 and the new portable.
About 45 minutes had passed and I was ready to play with my new toy. The first game that I loaded up was Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and it was a sight to behold. As I looked into the 5 inch OLED screen, it felt like I was watching an incredibly high-def window of someone playing the game on a PS3. A portable system can’t look this great, can it? UMvC3 is gorgeous on the PSVita, with its super high frame-rate and the variety of colors that just pop out of the screen. Welcome to portable console gaming.
After playing some of the other Vita games, I wanted to see what else could be done with this mighty handheld. I was eager to test the party chat function, due to the fact that the PS3 is not the best place for game chat. I knew that the Vita had it’s own microphone and that it was put to some good use, so I invited a friend into my group. After that, something magical happened; I could hear my friend’s voice coming out of the Vita’s speakers. I knew from that moment on that this system wasn’t just a bunch of hardware specs, but a revolution. The next day, I did the same thing, but this time I was talking with two gentlemen from different parts of the world, one from the UK and the other from Japan.
The Vita isn’t perfect, though. The user interface can be at times, a cluster-fudge, and you can become lost in the menus very easily. Many of the functions are also too separate from each other, I mean, really, should the friends app, message app, and the party app all be separate from each other? Also, my Vita froze up on me twice in the same day. Granted you can just plug it into a power-source and hold the power button for twenty seconds or so. I can see a lot of trouble shooting for many Vita owners who are not always researching this stuff like I do.
Overall, the PSVita is a testament to the how far both portable gaming and consumer technology have come. There are still many features that I have yet to delve into, and over time, with system updates and a larger variety of apps, the Vita could become a very powerful multimedia tool. Now if you will excuse me, I will get back to playing some Wipeout 2048.