Tapping the PS Vita’s True Potential

Most KSU students likely grew up owning Nintendo’s massively popular handheld gaming system the Game Boy: a device with simple two- dimensional graphics. Years have passed and handheld gaming has continued to evolve, recently moving prominently onto our mobile phones. Everyone owns a device that primarily works as a phone with minimal gaming capabilities, but what if more people embraced a device that acts primarily as a gaming console alongside all of the mobility and social functions of a cell phone? Such a device has existed for more than a year and is called the PlayStation Vita.

Sony’s handy device is truly something unique among the hundreds of identically functioning smart phones out there. The system itself is designed primarily to play console quality games on- the-go. Many of its games are identical to versions of PlayStation 3 games, made possible by the console’s dual analog control sticks. This allows for the massively popular first person shooter genre to be playable on the device.

Alongside its gaming capabilities, the Vita’s wealth of apps such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Netflix truly make the device worth buying. Due to their well designed user interfaces, the apps really are worth using on the device. It might only be five inches across, but the OLED touch screen on the Vita is incredibly sharp and features a better display than most HD televisions. It is quite handy to be able to hook up a pair of headphones and watch Netflix in bed. With front and back facing cameras, the device is also great for using Skype video chat.

Despite all of these features the Vita has suffered from two major problems: Sony’s weak marketing strategy and high cost. Many reading this have likely never heard of the Vita or simply have chosen not to buy one because of its unrealistic prices. The Vita launched at $250 alongside proprietary memory cards that ran up to $100 for a small 32-gigabyte stick. Now, after nearly one and a half years, Sony has kicked the Vita sales train into gear, dropping the price to $200 as well as dropping memory card prices.

The price drop will not do any good without promising game releases to back it up. Since its release, the Vita has become notorious for its small amount of available games. There are two major reasons why that is about to change.

Sony recently announced two major game releases for the Vita that will surely push sales of the console. Those games are Minecraft and Borderlands 2. These might be ports of pre- existing console games, but both have a substantial fanbase excited to spend hours playing these games outside of home.

The second reason is actually the upcoming home console, the PlayStation 4. Those who own a Vita will be able to use its remote play feature to play PS4 games on their Vita. As we are still three months away from being able to use this feature, it is still unknown whether streaming games onto the Vita will work well, but there is no denying the usefulness of this feature— especially when someone else wants to use the television.

For those interested in gaming, the PS Vita is the real all-in-one device. Phone calls are the only feature making the Vita short of being more useful than a smart phone. Since many of the social features actually work better on this device than on a phone, the Vita is worth buying for casual and serious gamers alike.