Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ben's Corner: The Vita - Then and Now

It's hard to believe, but the PlayStation Vita has been out for quite a few years now, and I can't help but look back on it's current life. Where it started, how things changed over the years, and where it is at now. Things are so much different from what they used to be back when I first reviewed the thing, and although I didn't think it was possible, my opinion of it has greatly changed. So, today I'm going to do just that, take a look back on the past few years, and let you guys know my current thoughts on the console -- starting at the beginning.

When the Vita was first coming out, I didn't know how to feel about it. I wasn't really excited for it, but at the same time I knew I wanted to get one. I liked the PSP for what it was, and even though the Vita only had a small line up, I had faith that some more games I would love would come out sooner or later. It already had a few interesting titles such as Gravity Rush announced, but at the time the Nintendo 3DS was just more appealing. In it's case, I rushed out and bought it on day one, spent hundreds of hours playing it, and I continued to follow every little piece of news Nintendo (or 3rd party devs) put out. I loved it, and I really couldn't see myself liking the Vita quite as much. Heck I even remember thinking "if I get a Vita, I'd never use it as much. I don't need Netflix on it, I'll use it for a few games and stick to using it on my 3DS!" Man, I want to hit myself for that, but it's the way I thought back then and I can't change it... Anyway, the Vita wasn't something I was going to run out to get on day one, but it did interest me some, and I had hopes for future releases. So, I held off on getting one up until my 21st birthday.

Although I had become used to buying my own games and consoles during high school, my family would still get me gifts on special occasions, and for a "big birthday" such as 21 they decided to get me a big gift. The question was though, what did I want? I typically bought everything the moment I wanted it, so what would I ask for for my birthday? Well, the only thing I could think of was the Vita, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss -- a game I couldn't wait to play, but at the same time one I couldn't get myself to save up for a Vita for (mainly due to other releases on the 3DS). So, I waited, and when my Birthday came I finally got one. Along with Uncharted and Gravity Rush (which I bought before I even owned the console), I dove into the world of the PlayStation Vita, and instantly liked what I saw.

Putting aside the nice OLED touch screen, the wide verity of apps (some of which, such as the YouTube app, are sadly gone), and and the very much improved message system and the brand new party system, what really blew me away were the games themselves. Uncharted made me feel like I was playing a PS3 game, Gravity Rush quickly became one of my favorite games in recent years, and the games I bought soon after continued to stun and amaze me. Everything about the controls felt right, they looked great, and they were a lot of fun in general. I came to really like the Vita, and I started using it for things such as Netflix, but it wasn't before long that I ran out of things to do. It ended up being something I would pick up and sit down every once in awhile, but it's lack of games put me off. I continued to see my 3DS as my "better" system of the two, and I wasn't expecting too much more form the Vita -- until things greatly changed.

Not too long after, the Vita started getting updates, PS1 games were added, and the PSP library continued to expand. More and more games continued to come out, JRPGs made their way to the west (the main reason I even wanted a Vita), and even visual novels such as Virtue's Last Reward were released! Suddenly the Vita that I originally wasn't that excited for, had became something I could have only dreamed and hoped for. It was a handheld that was giving me great RPG titles like Persona 4 Golden, my favorite fighting game series BlazBlue, visual novels like Danganronpa, and a ton more of classic PS1 and PSP RPGs as well! Soon my small collection of 4-5 games grew into the tens, then into the fifties, and soon I found myself with over eighty games not counting my collection of PS1 and PSP downloads. I was overloaded with games, and still to this day more continue to be released that I cannot wait for.

Although a lot of people may be unhappy with the steady stream of Japanese games, for anyone who actually loves this sort of thing the Vita greatly improved. It's a JRPG beast of a handheld, and it continues to get more and more as the days go on. However, on the other hand, if you were expecting it to be non stop first party Sony games, and handheld versions of console games like Uncharted or Killzone, then the Vita could easily be considered a flop. Yes it does have some HD collections which are really nice (Metal Gear Solid, Sly, Jak, etc), but for anyone hopping for larger releases, I can see why the Vita wouldn't be for you. The Vita basically turned into the PSP after the first year or so, with Sony only focusing on the remote play aspect of it for the PS4, and the streaming aspects which is the main selling point of the PlayStation TV (Vita TV in Japan). Even so, for me, the Vita is one of the best things that could have ever happened.

On another note, the Vita is still lacking in some areas, and it has lost quite a few apps over the past year -- including the YouTube app which I would use constantly. While it is true you can use the web browser, it just doesn't work as well, and it takes longer to get to. Despite this, I still personally feel that the Vita is worth owning, but only if you're the type of person who is into JRPGs, visual novels, fighters, and indies, or if you want to play some PS1 classics, or PSP games. If you're hoping for major releases from Sony, then well, you should check out the PS4 instead.

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