So here’s the thing about Sony’s portable offerings. I’ve tried to care, I really have. As a piece of hardware the Vita looks absolutely astounding and I remember looking at the PSP in comparison to the DS when the PSP launched. The tech that Sony were offering seemed to outclass the DS in my opinion, and UMDs seemed like a great option. I mean everyone knows and trusts optical media, it’s everywhere around us. Hell they were putting out movies on UMDs, how cool was that? Being able to watch films on the way home clearly seemed the way forwards.
Do you know what I bought? A DS. I still have that original DS, the very first iteration of Nintendo’s double-screened portable. I never got around to getting a PSP, at least partly because I couldn’t use it to play Mario Kart. If it was going to go to college with me, and it made that trip many times, then that was all it really needed to do. I don’t actually think I owned anything other than Mario Kart for some time.[drop]That’s the sort of game that the DS was sold on really, games like Mario Kart. I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s one of the games that crops up on every Nintendo platform ever, I mean games that I can pick it up for a few minutes and then be done with it. There’s so many DS games that let me do this, I can just play a track of Mario Kart or a fight or two in whatever version of Mortal Kombat I have for it. Even Pokémon lets me do a few quick battles and then slip it back in my bag.
This is the key thing with a portable gaming system for me, it’s one of the reasons that games on my iPhone appeal so much. I just want to play something I can pick up on the bus and essentially be done with by the time I need to get off.
Yes, the iPhone’s low-end price tag on games is certainly appealing but it’s the type of games that appear on the App Store that really sell them to me. For example I can open up Flick Kick Football, slam a few balls into the new, fail dismally and then it’s time to get off the bus again.
Neither the PSP or the Vita has been sold to me in this way. Oh, I know that it’s getting some of these pick up and play titles but Sony’s advertising seems to be focused around selling me games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss. Back on the PSP there was a focus on these larger experiences as well, it seemed to always be games like God of War: Chains of Olympus that were pushed to the forefront.
Now I’m not saying that these are bad games, in fact the response to Golden Abyss seems to be very positive. However, I don’t want to sit down and play twenty minutes of one of Drake’s adventures. I may have spent some time talking about my issues with the Uncharted series but I still enjoyed plopping myself in front of the TV for longer than I’d care to admit and playing through the games in just a couple of sessions each.[drop2]That’s just not how the game will work on a portable console. I know I can sit down on my sofa and play it but why would I? There’s two consoles connected to my TV right now. If I shuffle things around I can connect up an original Xbox, a Gamecube or even a N64. I can even bring in a Master System, if I can work out how to resurrect it. With all of that at my fingertips I’m not sure I’d really want to sit in my front room with the Vita for a while.
No, for me portable machines are for the bus or the train, they’re for if I have five minutes between writing one article and editing the next. On more than one occasion they’ve been for waiting for a reply to an email from a client. They are not, to me, for playing huge adventures like Uncharted.
Of course, I’m there are many of you who the Vita is a perfect fit for, and I hope you enjoy it, I really do. For me however? It just doesn’t seem right.
Now, where did I put that iPhone? Time for some StickCricket.