I’ve had my Vita for two weeks now, and I love it. Well, “love” might be a bit strong, seeing as how it can’t love me back. But I do like it an awful lot, more than any portable gaming device I’ve ever had the privilege of holding in my hands.
No matter how wonderful a device is, though, it’s never universal. Everyone has different wants and needs, and nothing is magical enough to be a fit for everyone. The gaming community certainly is no exception, as it spans a wide array of demographics.
With so many different gaming options and an inarguable shift in the way that gamers consume portable games, the Vita has its work cut out for it. Who should care about it, and who should simply continue as they are?
Let’s get to it.
PSP gamers – Yes
It’s natural to assume that anyone that owns a PSP should jump right in on the PS Vita, but that’s not necessarily the case. The digital PSP library isn’t even 100% compatible with the Vita yet, and as robust as the Vita’s launch library is, it might not compel every PSP owner to jump on board if they still have older games to play.
Still, I imagine that the vast majority of PSP fans have been looking forward to the Vita for quite some time now, and those with their eye to the future should have no trouble finding something that they like within the 25+ games that released on launch day. They’ll also appreciate the system’s new features, namely the dual analog stick and OLED display. The PSP’s analog nub offered mixed results at best, and its LCD screen was never particularly great — dead pixels and ghosting weren’t uncommon. Throw in the potential for touch and motion control and PSP owners should find plenty to love. I would recommend holding on to your old PSP, though.
PSP Go gamers – Yes
Jesus, yes. It’s equally compatible with the PSP’s UMD library, and your digital games might already be compatible with the Vita.
Also, why’d you buy a PSP Go, you silly sausage?
PS3 gamers – Yes
While there’s plenty of overlap, there are plenty of PS3 owners that never picked up a PSP. Honestly, Sony never really gave them a reason to. While Remote Play was a noble feature, it never really took off. Meanwhile, many PSP games tried a little too hard to be console games, but they were hindered by a subpar control setup. So yeah, I get it.
Why should PS3 owners care about the PS Vita, then? The most obvious answer is that it truly ties into your PSN account the way that the PSP never did, and you can take your online identity with you wherever you go. You can make new friends and chat with your old buddies. You can even earn trophies, and they combine with the ones you earned on PS3, counting towards your overall PSN level.
More importantly, though, there’s a lot of meaningful interaction between the two machines. You can begin the addictive Road to the Show mode in MLB 12: The Show on your PS3, save your progress to the cloud, and download it to your PS Vita and continue on the go. Then you can send that new progress to your PS3. Granted, it’s a bit expensive — $60 for the PS3 game and another $40 for the Vita version — but super fans will lap it up. Some games even offer you both versions for the price of one; the upcoming MotorStorm RC is just one example.
If you’re serious about playing your favorite games literally wherever you are, the Vita is a no-brainer.
Xbox 360 gamers – Yes
Many Xbox 360 owners have little connection with the PlayStation brand; many are former PS2 owners that jumped ship because it arrived first, and perhaps never felt the need to buy a PSP (which came out just a few months earlier) or a PS3. As such, they might have even less reason to buy a Vita. After all, they might not have a PSN ID, so earning trophies might not even matter if they’re already addicted to earning Achievements.
360 owners are hardcore gamers for the most part, though, and that’s exactly who Sony is targeting with the PS Vita. They might not have the same attachment to franchises like Uncharted (tsk tsk), but surely they can appreciate the value of being able to play third-party favorites like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Rayman Origins at the airport or boring family get-together. Plus they’ll never even have to deal with the clunky Xross Media Bar; win-win.
And who knows? Maybe they’ll pick up Uncharted: Golden Abyss and be impressed enough to pick up a PS3 and check out the (superior) console games. I’m sure Sony would have no qualms with that.