Sony interrupted Nintendo’s chokehold on the handheld consoles scene when it released the PlayStation Portable (PSP) more than a decade ago.
It went head-to-head with the Nintendo DS, and though it ultimately settled for second place in that battle, the PSP gave fans another viable option to enjoy games on-the-go.
So naturally, so much hype was placed on its eventual successor, the PlayStation Vita (PS Vita), upon its worldwide release back in 2012.
Among other things, the Vita is a more powerful PlayStation gaming system and possesses the coveted second analog stick. Both of which easily trumps the Nintendo 3DS, successor to the DS and the Vita’s presumed rival.
However, fast-forward to today and the Vita is essentially missing-in-action, with the 3DS barely carrying the handheld consoles’ flag against the legion of smartphones. The Vita is more popularly known now as a great medium for PS4 Remote Play, which is like a demotion. But the Vita is more than just a “sidekick” to the PS4.
Here’s why you should take a second, long look at the Vita:
The rear touchpad’s potential is still untapped
Aside from featuring a touchscreen out front and another analog stick, the Vita introduced a rear touchpad. Although it looks awkward to use at first glance, it poses a new way for you to interact with games. But sadly, many developers never really explored the potential of the Vita’s rear touchpad. They mainly use it for menu navigation and little else.
Although games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Tearaway have shown the potential of the rear touchpad (especially the latter), developers have been reluctant to dive into it completely.
It can be argued that the rear touchpad is more useful than the Vita’s touchscreen. The touchscreen causes your thumb or index finger to stray away from the face buttons and shoulder buttons, respectively. And even if you have exceptionally fast reflexes, the split-second it takes to move your fingers from the touchscreen to the buttons might prove costly.
The rear touchpad takes care of this problem; it can serve as the L2, R2, L3, and R3 buttons, all rolled into an area easily accessible with your middle or ring fingers.
If developers can unlock the potential of the rear touchpad, it could revolutionize gaming as a whole. The same way the Nintendo DS’s second screen and the Nintendo Wii U’s Remote Controller did. And we all know how those two features made Nintendo look like a genius.
It actually has a lot of quality games, too
The biggest reason the Nintendo 3DS has managed to stay afloat was its access to great first-party games. Sony, on the other hand, has essentially abandoned first-party support for the Vita. So if you’re a third-party developer, would you invest your resources, not to mention time and effort, to a gaming system that is no longer supported by its maker? This is most likely the reason why very few well-known third-party developers make games for the Vita.
Still, there are a lot of great games in the Vita’s library – especially RPGs. Arguably the most popular ones amongst the crop are the HD Remasters of Final Fantasy X and its lesser-known sequel Final Fantasy X-2. There’s also Persona 4 Golden, which is the epitome of what a JRPG is. The same way Persona 3 Portable for the PSP was, the portable version of Persona 4 is considered the better version.
Speaking of games from a long-running series, the fourth game in the Ys series, Ys: Memories of Celceta, is available on the Vita, too. If you’re a big fan of Digimon, one of the best-looking Digimon games was recently localized: Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth. You can also check out The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel and, of course, the Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth games.
The Vita has its share of great indie games, too, which actually have a big hand in keeping the Vita relevant. Games like Hotline Miami, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and Spelunky are a must-play on the Vita. If you’re a big grinder in games, the Vita continues the PSP’s trend of adapting Disgaea games – both Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention and Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited are available to waste your hours on.
The presence of the second analog stick has also allowed the Vita to venture into genres that were otherwise clunky on the PSP. This includes shooter games – both first-person and third-person. So feel free to dive into those now. And if you want a game from a popular series, the Vita can offer Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, Borderlands 2, and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection.
Basically, if you never owned a PS2 or PS3, the Vita allows you to get acquainted to games that were born from those two platforms (not all of them, of course).
We may never get another system like the Vita – EVER
Despite being edged by the 3DS in terms of overall success, the Vita still carries the distinction as the most powerful dedicated handheld console out in the market today. And there’s a chance it will stay that way for a long time. Nintendo will reportedly release a home-handheld console hybrid next year, code-named ‘NX’.
The console won’t replace the 3DS, but if it turns out to be a hit, there’s a high chance Nintendo might cease their production of dedicated handheld consoles after the 3DS. The continued rise of smartphones might also factor into that decision.
Actually, Nintendo has already dipped into mobile gaming territory, with Pokemon GO and Super Mario Run as the most notable products. If and when Nintendo says goodbye to dedicated handheld gaming systems, the Vita will be branded as The Most Powerful Handheld Console That No One Noticed.
It’s a sad fate, no?
Who knows when Sony will decide to finally hammer the last nail on the Vita’s coffin? So why not give it another go while it’s still (barely) alive? You’re missing out on the most powerful handheld console to ever grace the video game industry.
There may come a time when you’ll stumble on old gameplay videos of Vita games. The last thing you want is to have the urge to go buy a Vita, and then realize it no longer exists.
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