It was with some fanfare that the South African PS Vita launch event took place at the Swanky Randlords in Braamfonten,
And all the gathered press and video game industry VIPs all had the same question
on their lips... is there space for another handheld video game system in the
market. Not many have been able to take on Nintendo’s DS empire, and the last Sony
attempt, the PSP, seems to have faded away. Johannesburg
The answer is not one that can be based on theory and conjecture. We found this out shortly after the event, when we took out Vita out of the box and turned it on for the first time. See, while there are all manner of things to read about the Vita, both on and offline, and the marketing material proclaim a whole bunch of stuff about the unit, this one really adheres to that old adage: the proof is in the pudding. No theoretical information can truly allow one to make a decision... not when the Vita proves itself to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Because of this, writing a hard and fast review of the unit is difficult. It really is the kind of thing that you need to experience for yourself, truth be told, so heading down to a retailer to check out a demo unit is a great idea. Admittedly, the price point is pretty steep, but experiencing the unit in action may well be enough to convince you that, yes, there certainly is space for this handheld in the market. And while many may make accusations that the Vita has borrowed (or stolen) ideas from other sources, the implementation of the various features in this neat package is excellent, delivering a device that is not only fun to use, but well thought out.
Naturally, much of the Vita’s success depends on the ingenuity of those creating games and applications for it. But it does offer a very solid starting point for developers, with lots of options that can allow for an extremely creative approach to portable gaming.
Yes, we love the Vita. It offers more than just a gaming platform, thanks to features like internet connectivity, and even as a gaming platform, it delivers an excellent experience, thanks to powerful hardware combined with some rather nifty ideas. With 3G and WiFi flavours available, getting connected to the ‘net and PlayStation Network is simple with the Vita, too, allowing for online play and downloads.
So yes, we can tell you all about it over the next few pages, but the fun to be had with Sony’s innovative new device is something that you will need to experience for yourself. And you should.
Standard controller style D-Pad, comfortably located.
Dual Analogue Sticks
Sensitive dual analogue sticks allow for excellent control within games. Placement may be uncomfortable for some, but you do get used to it.
5” OLED multi-touch capacitive screen. 960 x 544 resolution, support for approximately 16 million colours. Graphics are delivered by an SGX543MP4+ GPU. The screen is bright and clear, with very responsive touch screen capabilities.
For pausing games by returning to the home screen. The Vita’s ARM Cortex A9 four core processor sill allow multiple functions to be used at once.
Front Facing Camera
0.3 MP camera (640 x 480 resolution). Allows for video communication and certain game functions. Can also be used to record photographs and video.
Start / Select Buttons
As with all PS platforms, these perform functions within games, notably pausing to the game menu.
Standard PS control buttons, comfortably placed (although the X button is fairly close to the right analogue stick.)
Although they do deliver discernible stereo, sound is best enjoyed via headphones. The speakers are simply too small to deliver great sound quality, although the performance is passable. An integrated microphone allows for speech to be used in games or online.
Well positioned shoulder buttons add to the control functions of the Vita.
Memory cards are sold separately, but are essential to using the Vita. They plug in here. There are a variety of sizes available, although they are fairly pricey.
Rear Touch Pad
Innovative, sensitive capacitive multi-touch pad allows for added game functions.
Headphones go here. When using headphones, the audio is of exceptionally good quality. Any headphones with a 3.5mm jack can be used.
Rear Facing Camera
The rear mounted 0.3MP camera allows for photos and videos to be captured, as well as being used in Augmented Reality games.
A USB cable connects at the bottom of the unit. This is used for charging, as well as connecting to a PC or PS3.
Battery life is up
to five hours of gaming time.
Sim cards are inserted here, for 3G compatible devices only. Wi-Fi only Vitas do not have this port.
Easy to find volume controls for adjusting levels through either the headphones or the stereo speakers. Volume levels are indicated by an on-screen display.
The power switch requires a long press to power the unit up... no accidental switching on!
Purchased game cards get inserted here. The cover of the port is a little difficult to open.
Memory cards are essential for playing and downloading games for the Vita. As none are included, they must be purchased separately. The memory card is shown here alongside a standard SD card, for size reference. They are rather small, so keeping them safe is important.
Games for the Vita can be purchased either on physical game cards or online through the PlayStation Network. This second option is cheaper, but will require more memory cards to be used… so the two options even out in the long run. The game card is shown here alongside a standard SD card, for size reference.
The PS Vita has, thus far, proven to be a remarkable enjoyable device to use. With innovative ideas and a host of included software, including friend management, browsing and content applications, it is more than just a gaming device. It fits well into a modern lifestyle, and serves as a wonderfully portable, powerful and versatile entertainment unit.
On the downside, it is currently fairly expensive. But, at the time of writing, global sales are good, and possible price drops in the future are highly likely, thanks to enthusiastic early adoption world-wide.
The connectivity offered by the Vita is great, and is well supported here in
thanks to the already strong presence of the PlayStation Network. It will be
interesting to see if any cellular service providers work with local distributors
Ster Kinekor on bundle data deals. South Africa
When all is said and done, the usefulness of the Vita as an entertainment device is undeniable. Let’s hope that game developers take advantage of what it has to offer, and keep the new games rolling.