Thanks to my lovely tax return I now have a Vita. So far I’ve been really enjoying it, and the few games I have on it. Unfortunately due to finals and multiple jobs I don’t feel much like writing an entire article about anything that substantial, so I’ll just put some impressions below.
The touchscreen and touchpad are the most impressive, and in an age when touchscreens are so prolific, that’s really quite a compliment. It’s responsive, precise, and I haven’t had any issues with it beyond some gimmicky controls. The colors really pop, and the resolution is fantastic.
Unfortunately, the screen does have one slight flaw. In a dark room when the screen is a dark color it looks mottled. At first I thought it was bubbles under my screen, but then I checked my girlfriend’s Vita and it had the same issue. Some short research online showed me that not only is this problem well known, but it has thus far been ignored by Sony. The obvious response is “don’t use the Vita in a dark room” - it’s bad for your eyes anyway - but it’s a little disconcerting that a device that was so touted for its amazing screen has such a glaring flaw. It’s a small one, but it’s still a little baffling that Sony didn’t take care of it.
The analog sticks were what I was most skeptical of, and my skepticism was completely unfounded - they are awesome. They are at least as precise as a PS3 controller, and have a great feel to them, despite their small size. I’ve been playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, and I keep forgetting I’m not holding a traditional controller. The small buttons were also a concern, but they are extra clicky and lend themselves well to button-mashing.
The operating system is decent, and has some fun features. The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that you can’t use the buttons to navigate the home screens, but I’ve yet to even accidentally try to navigate with them. This might be due to the fact that, again, I have big hands, thus I had no problem reaching any area of the screen.
The software included is adequate, but won’t change the way you view small electronics. The web browser works, the keyboard works, and Netflix is a little sluggish. Not being able to browse is a big downside, as I tend to look up FAQs for games while I’m playing.
The frustrating part is that there is a workaround with the Twitter app that will allow you to browse while playing a game, so we know it’s possible just not enabled yet. In addition to that the browser doesn’t load the page until you actually scroll to it, making scrolling a little bit of a hassle. While, again, the browser isn’t a crucial part to the system, it still would have been nice to see them outsource this to someone like Opera.
Running programs work a lot like they did on webOS (for the ten of you that used it before it died). They are made up of little cards that you can swipe off the screen to close, and it all seems to work just fine. I haven’t had any lock ups with the device, or even any interface lag.
Well all know this is the important part. How are the games? Well, they’re quite impressive. I’m not a big fan of amazing graphics, but I definitely found myself marvelling at the sheer resolution and number of assets on screen. Aside from the launch games, which included several great titles, there has been very little in the way of new releases.
The next big release is Mortal Kombat which will release in a few days, and Disgaea 3 came out recently, but you’re going to be playing the same release titles for the time being. Fortunately, it was a strong lineup and there’s some good variety.
My game of choice has been Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, which is really just a re-release of Sigma, but still one of my favorite action games. Aside from some mildly annoying touch controls, it’s a great title that sacrifices absolutely nothing with its handheld release.
The Vita is quite an impressive system overall, and my complaints with it are minor at worst. After purchasing the system I was a little surprised that it was only $250, since that’s how much I paid for my 3DS and it stands a head and shoulders above the 3DS in terms of hardware. Of course, it has to compete with the beast that is Nintendo marketing, as well as various cell phone markets that have indoctrinated people into the ninety-nine cent mindset, but I think Sony has a powerful enough system to really drive demand here in the West.