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Lamenting the Playstation Vita



As years have gone by and the Playstation Vita has persisted, it seems much of the “criticism” for the handheld comes from childish inclinations. From the hate for Sony’s proprietary devices to the odd conception of console exclusivity and superiority: it’s not only the SCA (Sony Corporation of America) who’ve failed the Vita, but also we the consumers. The Vita has long been in a slump, forgotten by its parent company and always an afterthought in the way of marketing; but aside from the dedicated user base who hang onto their now-legacy device, drawing from every ounce of its vigor, we’re left with the only other extreme: those who treat the Vita like a paperweight, perhaps less.

Now, I hold the Playstation Vita in high regard, and I could honestly say that it’s my favorite handheld of all time. It’s offered me a slew of criminally-underrated, niche titles that have really struck a chord in me–be it emotionally, professionally, or as plain-and-simple entertainment. As of the writing of this article, I still occasionally find myself hankering to go back to grinding in the Netherworld, maybe exploring more of the Great Forest of Celceta, or potentially revisiting some of the classics from my childhood; and it’s clear to me that there’s a surfeit of content and game to be found on the handheld. It’s sad to see that first-party support for the Vita has completely vanished, left only with the seemingly incessant (and very much welcome) third-party support.

But what I find most heartbreaking is the conduct of some gamers in regard to the Vita. It’s one thing not to find the library all that favorable; the system has found a very specific niche from which to cater to and thrive off of, and there’s little in the way of hope for a brighter future for the seemingly undying handheld. It’s an entirely different matter, however, when the most common approach to the Vita is that of bias. It’s a difficult topic to approach–it’s all subjective and mine is unpopular opinion–but all I can do is lament the Vita’s history here in the West and try my best to highlight the misconceptions that surround the handheld.

Faulty Memory Retention

Allow me to tackle the infamous argument of how Sony handled the Vita’s memory cards and how it was a terrible idea. Now, I’m certainly no fan of being forced to use proprietary devices when there are numerous other, more cost-effective alternatives, and I can agree that initially, the idea sounds terrible. Yes, indeed, the prices for these memory cards are just as bad, and now that inflation has begun to trickle in it’s only going to get more expensive and much, much worse. However, as a proud owner of a 64GB memory card for the Vita (that’s $100+ gone!), ever since it’s arrived in the mail, it’s really set things into perspective for me. Those once reasonable arguments that I previously empathized and agreed with I know recognize as products of impatience.

Firstly, you don’t need 64GB of memory space, let alone maybe more than 16GB. It’s convenient, sure, and it makes the transition from physical to digital a lot less cumbersome–I no longer have to constantly redownload those digital-only titles due to lack of space–but not only will I admit that the Vita’s download speed is often egregious and variable (it’s taken me an hour before to download less than a single gigabyte, and this rings true for even the PS4), but I wholeheartedly advocate sticking to physical media for another generation. Nowadays, outside of the now rare Vita-centric PSN sales, physical versions of Vita games are far cheaper than purchasing their digital contemporaries, especially true for any frequent Amazon customers. Aside from Senran Kagura (those update file sizes are extensive), most physical games won’t even take up more than 100MB, making a physical-only library all the more persuasive and viable.

Secondly, there’s no need to bloat your home menu with games that you’ll most likely never play outside of whatever PS+ throws your way; and even then, you’ll most likely–again–never play them (I speak from years of experience). You’ll feel far greater an incentive to finish that one game you barely managed to fit onto your 4GB storage (8GB are the new standard and packaged with every 2000 model, mind you), and far lesser a temptation to dip your toe in every pool and further dilute the experiences. A bigger, more expensive memory card is nothing more than a time-saver, and we have more than enough time in our lives–though, our backlogs may disagree.

The Vita vs 3DS Debate

I’m sure arguing about whether the PS2, Gamecube, or Xbox was better was entertaining growing up, but you’d have thought that we would have outgrown such unbecoming tendencies of elitism as we matured. That would certainly be ideal, but the contrary is more often than not true with both the Vita and the 3DS’s user base. Not everybody is guilty, no, but I’ve been a constant subject to the lame argument that people prefer one system over the other–but rather than being a simple matter of preference, their attitudes are dismissive and averse to the mention of their “rivaling” cousin.

The amount of blind hate for the Vita seems to be especially contagious, escaping even the realm of the informed gamer. Outside of Sackboy (and even that’s a stretch), Sony isn’t especially known for any recognizable names or faces–they dabble in various genres–and that lack of familiarity immediately turns off a number of people. Most would prefer a console with a brand that they’ve seen constant exposure and zealous recognition for: they’d prefer the safer alternative. Even if they personally don’t have that great a connection to it. Of course, there’s also the matter of how some feel that a majority of the games on the Vita misrepresent and objectify women (popular the subject for JRPGs); but that’s a different, much more difficult topic to broach and best saved for another time. But, coupled with the few that won’t even take more than a shallow glance at games like Freedom Wars and call it “another Monster Hunter clone”, or liken whichever game to others of its genre (that’s kind of what they’re for) and prepare their belittlement, and we have a strikingly disparaging opposition. It’s a bit sad knowing that while some can enjoy either platform and get a taste of the best of both worlds, we still haven’t escaped the mindset of yore–as if liking video games comes with an inherent superiority complex.

Eric Giralt has found inspiration in everything video games growing up, and while not conventional, roused him to aspire to become a writer. If he's not playing Monster Hunter or Disgaea, he's wishing he could finish all those games that have been piling up in his digital library.



  1. John Cal McCormick

    February 18, 2017 at 11:49 am

    This is a bit of a stretch.

    I have a Vita and I use it a few times a week. It’s also my favourite handheld console ever. I love a lot of things about it, and the library of games for it is really strong as long as you don’t want console quality titles on your handheld.

    Unfortunately, that’s what Sony told people it was for.

    It isn’t anybody’s fault that the Vita has failed but Sony’s. It was badly designed and badly marketed.

    Memory card prices are ludicrous and to suggest otherwise seems like going beyond the benefit of the doubt to me. When you’ve got some games that are bigger than some of the memory cards available for the system, and you’ve got even meagre cards costing way, way more than bigger, non-proprietary storage options, you’ve messed up.

    No L2 and R2 makes remote play – undeniably one of the systems coolest features – more laborious than it should be.

    It’s overdesigned with features that hardly any games use, but that drive up the price of the console making it a tough sell. Back touch pad? Camera? AR? Gyroscope? Few games make use of any of them and without them the system would be substantially cheaper.

    The PS Vita exists as a weird, time capsule console representing a period in time in which Sony was transitioning from the chaotic, you’ll-buy-it-because-we-tell-you-to arrogance that built the PS3, and the humble, we’re-sorry-and-we’ve-learned-a-lot, games games games mantra of the PS4. It has a lot of strengths, but too many crippling flaws. And that’s not our fault. It’s Sony’s.

    • Eric Giralt

      February 18, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      I’m glad there’s someone who’s so vocal and disagreed with me on the matter; and while I wish I could be so forgiving to ignore the misconceptions of the user base and the gaming community, I really can’t bring myself to the task.

      I’m not saying to forgive Sony for their use of proprietary memory cards; I even addressed that in the article. What I am saying, however, is that the Vita shouldn’t automatically be disqualified for it. There are better alternatives, and you certainly don’t need a 64GB like I have–it’s overkill. As for there being games that exceed the lowest size storage, the only one I could think of (not including DLC) was maybe Killzone Mercenaries. Most, if not all of the games on the Vita are well under 4GB.

      In regards to remote play, and I think you know this if you’ve used it, but there are alternatives to the L2 and R2 buttons–mainly using the front and back touch pad if my memory serves me right. Aside from the third-party triggers you can find online that are meant to supplement that, Sony made an excellent decision in making every facet of the Vita a replacement for whatever missing button or function. It’s not the most convenient solution, and you may find yourself struggling to get a comfortable hold of the handheld considering the features’ placement, but it’s there.

      As for it being over-designed, we live in a world where the Nintendo Switch was sold out not too long after it went up for pre-order; and the Switch doesn’t need as many features and gimmicks as it has to really sell (just it being a portable console is enough). I don’t know whether to suspect it’s brand recognition or bias. And I wouldn’t exactly attribute the lack of games that utilized these features Sony’s fault, developers just shied away from the idea or implemented them in subtler ways. And the price is no different from a New 3DS XL, I hardly see that as an issue.

      • John Cal McCormick

        February 19, 2017 at 8:49 am

        Most games on Vita were under 4GB but some were over. In fact, if I recall correctly, Killzone had a day one patch that was bigger than the game that you couldn’t download if you had a 4GB card.

        I’m not saying that we should lay all the blame for Vitas failure at the door of the memory cards but it didn’t help. It’s like death by 1,000 cuts except more like death by four or five cuts. They made a series of blunders that alone wouldn’t have sunk the console but all added together did.

        Proprietary memory cards are ridiculously expensive and there’s absolutely no excuse for them.

        Remote play isn’t great. It’s and fantastic idea. But those L2, L3, R2 and R3 replacements just can’t cut it. I was playing Saints Row IV on vita the other day via PS Now and the run button was assigned to the top left corner of the front touchpad. I persevered longer than most would have but it’s just so unintuitive.

        Nintendo Switch sold out of preorders because everything sells out of preorders. The Wii U did too. Preorder numbers are worthless. The Nintendo fanboys buy up all of the initial allocation of consoles, and then once they’ve got theirs the general public get a go. Month three or four sales will be the true indicator of how the console is going to fare.

        And the Switch is another console like the Vita that seems overdesigned. Not only does it not need as many gimmicks and features to sell, I actually think it’d sell better with less of them because it’d be way cheaper. It’s an argument I’ve made in articles and podcasts and whatnot again and again. Price is a huge factor in the success of a console. Get rid of the things you don’t need to lower it.

        The Switch at $100 less, with no motion controls, would be a far more attractive proposition for gamers on a budget. Similarly, in an age where people don’t need handheld consoles because they’ve got smart phones, price is super important if you’re going to try and sell them a handheld. 3DS wasn’t immune to this – it struggled early on and even though sales picked up it is nowhere close to matching the sales of its predecessor. Vita sales are a fraction of those of the PSP. A lot of that is a shift in the market that neither company rightly predicted. But if they’d been a little less gimmicky and a little cheaper then the decision to pick up that handheld you don’t really need becomes a lot easier.

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