Since I finally obtained a PlayStation Vita in 2012, it was my console of choice. It had a great library of Japanese role-playing games and anime themed games released throughout the Heisei Era. While the console did poorly in the west, it sold well in Japan. This is not too surprising since Japan vastly prefer portable consoles opposed to home consoles.
Since I am and still learning and practicing Japanese, I only play a vast majority of games in Japanese. With the Nintendo 3DS being region locked, it’s relegated to being the Pokémon machine. This still holds true with the New 3DS, which is a Japanese model since I only ended up play Pokémon on it really.
Sadly, Sony dropped the ball with the Vita and discontinued production in March of this year. Add that to their controversial censorship policy that also applies to Japanese published games, Sony consoles has become less appealing. Not only that, in 2017, I finally got a Nintendo Switch, which is now region free.
Now with Japanese role-playing games and other Japanese games coming on the Switch, there is really no reason to buy any consoles from Sony anymore outside a few exclusives. With that, I would like to share my experience of owning a Vita from an Anime fan’s perspective.
I have to admit that the PlayStation Vita was an impressive console back in the early 2010s. It had the capability of providing full console game experiences similar to the PlayStation 3, but portable. Back then, smartphones weren’t as capable as they are now. It eventually became my most used console. I primarily use it to play all the Atelier series games (besides the last three most recent ones), Neptune, Tales of Hearts R, and a bunch of other Japanese games. Also, there are a few licensed anime games from Manga Time Kirara series, namely Hanayamata Yosakoi Live and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka Wonerful Party. It was a good source for Japanese practice materials since the console was popular in Japan. Since the console is region free, I only needed to import the games.
Throughout the lifetime, besides the original Vita, I eventually got a white slim model and a PlayStation TV. I originally received a PlayStation TV as a Christmas present since I wanted to record Vita footage and this was the cheapest way to do so outside of modifying a Vita console. I eventually found out that it can’t play all the games. This includes Love Live School Idol Paradise, Monster Monpiece, Ciel no Surge, Kancolle Kai and Tales of Hearts R.
The funny thing is that some of these games that are blacklisted can be played with some work arounds. While it took almost two years to remove that limitation, but it happened. A homebrew hack called Henkaku removed this limitation and added additional capabilities such as using the DualShock motion controls to make the games fully playable on the PlayStation TV. Additionally, you can use flash drives in place of the proprietary memory card. Still, it’s not the most optimal solution.
As for the slim Vita, I bought it mostly because I wanted to get my original Vita modded with a capture card. I was not satisfied with the PlayStation Vita. Also, I wanted to record footage of games that I couldn’t play on the Playstation TV. While expensive, I sent my original Vita to Katsukity, who went out of business this year so they can install the capture card. This added a USB port that allows you to view contents of the Vita screen on a computer.
Technically, you can hook up your laptop to a television and play your Vita games on the big screen television. In a way, this mod did the job better than the PlayStation TV and also make it work like the Switch’s TV mode. Of course, it’s not perfect as it requires a computer since you need to run the viewer software.
While I enjoyed the Vita, it’s a flawed system. First off, Sony hamstrung the system with the proprietary memory cards to combat piracy. Not only you needed them to store save data, but they are very expensive. The 64 GB capacity never made it out of Japan. Even if it did, it’s still very expensive. In comparison, the Nintendo Switch can take any micro SD card up to 2 TB theoretically. Also, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg for one. While there are now hacks for the Vita that allows a use of a micro SD card with an adapter or using USB storage in place of the Vita memory card, the damage was already done.
The second flaw is the lack of video output. Unlike the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation Portable Go, there is no video output on the Vita. While Sony planned to add video output to the original Vita, they decided against it at the last minute. They want to make the PlayStation TV instead, which is crippled as mentioned earlier.
In my opinion they should have brought back the dock idea from the PlayStation Portable Go. The dock allowed users to place it in the dock, connect a DualShock 3 controller and play the games on the big screen. With Nintendo taking that idea and improving on it with the Switch, I felt that Sony missed a big opportunity. If they had that capability from the start, I think the Vita would sell even more, especially in Japan.
As a whole, the Vita was an enjoyable console to play with and I don’t regret getting one despite its flaws. Obviously, the Vita would have done better if it used cheaper memory cards and video output. Now with Sony’s censorship policy, I highly doubt I will ever buy another PlayStation console ever again. Not only that, Nintendo made a better successor to the Vita without the ridiculous censorship policy.
With that, do you own a PlayStation Vita or PlayStation TV? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.