PlayStation Vita at 10 – remembering Sony’s handheld hero

Vita means life.

Well, would you look at that? 10 years of PlayStation Vita. While Sony’s support barely lasted as long as the system’s own battery life, there’s still a lot of love for the Vita here at TSA.

Looking back at the Vita, a lot of the things we loved about the console in the early 2010s can almost seamlessly be applied to the Nintendo Switch as well. The Vita may not have ended up with a comparable lineup of stellar first party games, but the simple notion of being able to experience traditional, console-quality games while on the go still appeals to this day. I still have my original OLED PS Vita launch model and it was only the other week that I found myself glued to it once again, hammering away at Final Fantasy X.

We can only praise the handheld so much without talking about how the PlayStation Vita ultimately fizzled out. In short, this came down to a combination of factors:

  • The casual mobile market was soaring.
  • Sony couldn’t maintain a lineup of must-have games.
  • PlayStation didn’t enjoy the rabid fandom it boasts today.

With the dust settled, the Vita has clocked a total of 10-15 million units according to the latest figures, compared to the estimated 80 million PSPs Sony managed to flog. This may seem like a failure, but only if you’re wearing your boring industry analyst cap.

As a gamer, the PlayStation Vita continued to exude life well after Sony called a retreat. For many the console became an indie powerhouse, showcasing gems from OlliOlli, Fez, and Guacamelee! to Hotline Miami and Rogue Legacy. It’s just a shame a lot of these games are now hidden with the Vita’s online store no longer accessible via browser, making bargain hunting during the digital sales a lot trickier.

If not indie games, the Vita became home to various Japanese imports – mainly visual novel games and JRPGs, including the much-praised Persona 4 Golden. One game I have particularly fond memories of playing is Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc – a twisted, murderous visual novel I cradled well into the night. If my only option was to play it on PC or console, I would have 100% passed.

To say that Sony didn’t support the PlayStation Vita at all is a lie. While many of the platform’s best games weren’t its own, Sony crafted several new IP, ported big PS3 hits, and Vita-lized existing series such as Uncharted, WipEout, and even Killzone. For me personally, it was the best way to play through the Jak, Ratchet, and Sly remastered trilogies, as well as Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 in HD.

With Sony now confidently leading the current home console war, there’s once again speculation that it may be considering another handheld system. As proven by the popularity of the Nintendo Switch and the fact that punters are lining up to preorder the Steam Deck, there’s still room for portable gaming consoles, even if smartphones are more powerful than ever and cloud gaming becomes an increasingly relevant option.

What are your fondest memories of the PlayStation Vita? Did you pick one up on launch day? Do you still play it now, and which games ranked among your favourites?

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Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualSense at this point.

9 Comments

  1. It was most definately the need for the owerwhelmingly expensive memory cards that was biggest contributing factor to its downfall.

    Fondest memory – LBP and TearAway.

  2. … And using the Vita as an xray camera to find the bottles in a Sly game… on PS3.

    • I think it was called cross controller.

  3. I loved the Vita, but disappointingly after not using it for ages and trying it, only a few games worked (I think due to it being a flash memory based system), and in my attempts to get everything back working, managed to basically wipe everything on my main memory card… I could redownload all the games, but most of my saves weren’t backed up, and I think it also borked the PS Mobile games :/

  4. I agree about the memory card prices, it’s always been a problem with Sony gadgets but it’s great to see Nintendo avoiding the issue with their Switches.

    I adored my Vita, a friend front Japan brought me a slim model months at launch, after getting my head around the X-O swap it was an utter joy to play. Wipeout, the MGS collection, Rayman and Killzone were the absolute mutt’s nuts and I made time to play plenty of old PS1 favourites like Spyro and the MGS1. Apart from Killzone I didn’t use the online features much (except for trophies, they were a real treat) but I did enjoy remote playing PS4 games, it worked shockingly well. Ultimately the console was difficult to hold and after a couple of years of stiff fingers and hands I found myself ignoring my Slim Vita in favour of the PS4. The silver lining was making a very decent profit on everything Vita I’d bought, including the novel but ultimately limited PSTV, and getting on the Switch train.

  5. The only thing I find with the Vita is that my hands start to cramp up after a while – still have my blue Vita slim for impromptu Wipeout 2048 sessions though.

  6. I really liked the Vita, but it came out at the wrong time and had some major design flaws (the biggest being the silly memory card prices). Particularly enjoyed Uncharted, MGS Collection, Wipeout and Rayman. Whilst I got rid of the Vita a few years ago I still have my original PSP stored somewhere.

  7. I definitely have fond memories of the Vita, and it still works, I just played some more Zero Time Dilemma on it some weeks ago, when I was on holidays and away from my other consoles. My favorite games were brilliant Virtue’s Last Reward (which was a surprise gem I got with Plus), Killzone Mercenary, Uncharted, most of which I got with Plus (well, KZM I actually did buy). I hope my Vita still lives on for many years to come, as every time I return to it after some months of not playing it, I am surprised how well it works and of the build quality it got.

  8. Thanks for reminding me of my favourite console.

    Just hacked it now, playing Pokémon Emerald on the gorgeous screen at the moment.

    Downloading roughly 200GB of games onto an microSD adapter which will go into the game card slot and finally kill off my memories of the extortionate Vita storage prices

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