I bought a secondhand OLED Vita (they’re cheap*, *well below N3DS prices) in anticipation of a trip. I have a number gripes that don’t really outweigh how much I really fucking like this thing, to wit:
1a. The Playstation Store is a total abomination. PSP and PSOne games run on the Vita apparently at random. Spyro, Metal Gear Solid and Crash Bandicoot all conspicuously lack support, as does the PSP Gran Turismo. I presume that this limitation is entirely non-existant for anyone who’s hacked their Vita. Likewise, it’s a crapshoot whether a particular title you bought on one system will play on another. I fully expected my PS3 Sly Cooper and Jak & Daxter Collections to support it… The former (which I bought digitally) has no such support, while the latter (which I own in boxed form) only supports it with digital purchases. I’ve been sure to double-check everything on the store to make sure it has Vita support before buying anything.
1b. As a former PS+ subscriber, there is no way to view what games I previously claimed from the service prior to its expiration… And obviously that puts me off re-subscribing at all. I have broader issues with the service in general, so I’ll stick to the Flash Sales, which are, blessedly, and probably necessarily, taking cues from Steam’s steep discounts. ($2.24 for Ridge Racers!)
1c. The store requires you to put at least $5 in your “PSN Wallet” to make a purchase. Fuck. That.
Why doesn’t this thing support Dualshock 3/4, exactly? The PSPGo got DS4 support well past the end of its lifespan. The poor Vita was clearly released in the awkward transition period between the Playstations 3 and 4, and despite the larger install base the older hardware got quickly thrown to the wayside. There’s a pitiful number of games on the PS3 that support “Cross-Controller” play with the Vita, so I do feel that I would need a PS4 to really get the most of it.
No TV-out peripheral was ever released, despite hardware support for it. I failed to do my research prior to buying the system, assuming it was at least as capable as a PSP, so I was rather disappointed when I got home. At least the resounding flop that was the PSTV is on fire sale, so I’ll get to enjoy its particular quibbles and problems soon.
On the whole, the Vita’s footprint is just a little too big for me, even with my relatively large (~10") handspan. And yet the analogue sticks are still too small to wield any real precision. The ergonomics are probably a step above any other portable I can think of, but the dreaded hand cramp will and does inevitably set in, particularly with games that rely heavily on the shoulder buttons. These issues combined make Nuclear Throne something of a chore to play. I generally have a bag of some sort with me, so actual portability is less of an issue–not that you’re not a madman if you try sticking one in your front pocket.
I, too, hate the proprietary memory format. I hardly believe that the profit Sony made off its own wafers offset the lost sales from not supporting MicroSD. The system cheekily tries to wipe your memory card if you log in with a different PSN account; I felt like Sony was mocking me.
The speakers suck. Whatever. Expected. I’m just not a headphones guy. (Maybe if I could plug it into my TV…)
On a broader level, Sony’s modern strategy of abandoning hardware support and backwards compatibility leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. My formative systems were various incarnations of the Gameboy, a Playstation and later its sequel, and PCs, and I hate buying the same games twice. The Vita works much better as a compliment to its big brothers in the Sony ecosystem, and it’s a damned shame that there’s so many (presumably licensing-related) shackles.
All of that said, in my mind I’ve already dubbed the thing the PSPerfect. While its native library is relatively small, there’s more than enough that piques my interest and it is certainly the ideal way to play any PSP game. UMDs, ye won’t be missed. I’ve a feeling I’ll be ripping quite a few games in the next few weeks, as soon as I figure out how to install CFW on this thing. The games are starting to disappear from retailers, so now is probably the time to buy one if you’re at all interested. The digital releases, however, are surprisingly abundant: X-COM: Enemy Unknown (seemingly with the expansion) just released two days ago, and there’s a steady trickle of indie and obscure anime games.
TL;DR: It’s good, but potential was certainly wasted.