Besides blogging about anime, I am a big gamer as I played video games since my childhood. In the past, I was a big Nintendo fan and I’m still am. However, when I started learning Japanese since 2011, I find that playing Japanese Games can be a good way to practice what you learn while discovering new vocabulary and Kanji. Of course, the Playstation Vita made that all possible when I got one on my birthday. Since I have played with it for almost five months, I want to share my experiences. (Image Source)
While I like the Nintendo 3DS, it started collecting dust as I played more games on the Vita. It’s because the Vita is a nice and powerful portable handheld that can even produce graphics close to the Playstation 3. In addition, it has a very nice OLED 4-inch touchscreen, which easily beats the Nintendo 3DS’s with a 3D enabled screen as this screen can produce crisp colors similar to the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy phones. Not only that, it have dual joysticks, which is the first for any handheld. The only downsides I have with the hardware is that the memory cards for the Vita is outrageously expensive ($59 for 16GBs) and the rear touchpad can easily get scratched.
One of the strengths that the Vita has is a lack of region locking. The region locking in Nintendo’s recent handhelds is one of the things that annoyed me a lot because you can’t import and play 3DS games released only in Japan (and there is a good number of games like that). I find this decision incredibly stupid since Japanese games cost about 2 times more than American releases. With the Vita, you can play games from any region and even use PSN accounts from different regions although you are limited to one account and have to buy credit from a third-party site like Play-Asia or Japan Codes. Because of this, you can import games that only have a Japanese release such as visual novels (Little Busters and Fate/stay night, the two popular visual novels I know from top of my head), 2 “Tale of” games that Namco refuses to localize and others. This is a good thing because I am looking for text heavy games to use for my Japanese self-study practice besides studying grammar rules and writing sentences. So far, I played with two Vita games extensively (Little Busters Converted Edition and Atelier Totori Plus):
Little Busters Converted Edition: This is basically the Little Busters visual novel, but on a portable system. I just find it more convenient to play it on a portable system since I can read the visual novel anywhere and look up words on the fly. I know there is a translated version, but that is cheating considering that mastering the Japanese language is one of my priorities.
Atelier Totori Plus: This is basically a port of the PS3 game with the DLC content already included. Believe it or not, like Atelier Meruru, which I wrote about in a recent post, this game is addictive. Compared with the PS3 games, the graphics look gorgeous. Like the PS3 game, this game involves a young female alchemist named Totooria Helmold who wants to become an adventurer to find her lost mother.
While I also have LittleBigPlanet and Persona 4 Golden, I was slightly disappointed with the former as Sony is doing the online pass crap again to screw over gamers. As for Persona 4, I heard it’s one of the best Japanese RPGs you can get currently on the Vita that is localized. Aside from that, I preordered Tales of Hearts R, which comes out in March. I wonder how the gameplay will be like since Namco likes to keep most of its games Japan only.
As for Playstation Portable games, if they are bought from the Playstation Store, you can play with them on the Vita. From experience, they play rather smoothly on the new system. However, Japanese text can be difficult to read at times, especially the more complicated kanji since they look blurry, which makes it hard to look up. This is due to the upscaling for PSP games. Not only that, you cannot take any screenshots while playing non-Vita games, which is a bummer since there are times I want to take screenshots of PSP gameplay for reviews such as my Idolmaster Shiny Festa review.
Overall, I like the Playstation Vita a lot although some might find it expensive (although it can use a slight price cut) and bash it for it’s low sales. Nowadays, I use my portable consoles a lot more than my home consoles as I go out quite a lot. From a person who is studying Japanese language, the Vita is more attractive as you don’t have to get a Japanese console just to play Japanese games unlike the 3DS. Even so, I still love both systems and take them over crappy mobile games any day. I just think Vita has a slight edge in my opinion for its capabilities even though there is a lot of potential that remains untapped.