In the last couple of months I’ve spent quite lot of time on airplanes. While years ago I stopped playing videogames on planes, because I had to always write or I’d rather watch a movie, I made a concentrated effort in playing on the Vita and 3DS recently.
PlayStation Vita and the 3DS
I like Sony’s hardware and the Vita is pretty sweet. The best thing about the Vita is that it certainly show’s that’s Sony’s learnt about what Microsoft has done with it’s Xbox Live and OS in general and obviously Apple. The Vita OS seems pretty good with lot of programs being able to run in the background and switching from each is quite fast, though what I hate is that whatever program you want to start or go back into, you always have to tap in the middle of the screen after you’ve already tapped the software icon. Completely unecessary, one tap should be enough.
The Vita is almost too good. The group chat etc features, well I just dont see too many people playing on the Vita unfortunately. So not sure how many of these features will be used, but the OS is definitely great. Being able to play a game, go to Twitter, Settings and then back into the game is great. Sadly the Facebook app at the moment is just super slow and crap. Also the wifi doesn’t seem too strong, I have trouble getting a good signal in area’s where I got a good signal with my iPhone. I’m able to type a lot better on the Vita than on the iPhone, but mostly due to larger screen size which allows for larger virtual keyboard.
The hardware feels good in your hands and the screen is really great. The game’s are good too, but here’s the dilemma. They are good, yet…I feel better playing the 3DS games like Super Mario Land 3D and Mario Kart 7 – they just seem somehow better built and more unique experiences than what there is on the Vita. There’s a huge variety of games on the Vita and in general a lot of the downloadable smaller games are really good.
But somehow, the Vita feels like …too much of a “professional, big console experience”, whereas the 3DS feels…it’s own thing. Inferior graphics-wise sure and the battery life is absoutely horrible, but somehow it feels more unique.
I only recently “got” the 3DS Mii friends thing and Spot Pass/Street pass. Having the 3DS in my pocket while in Tokyo, I got like 50+ people in into my 3DS and it’s fun to see their Mii’s, where they are from and also play with them in that simple game. You get really good visual feedback on who you have met, it feels fun. Now with the Vita you got Near, it tries the same thing, but with too many stats, who is playing what, in what area and you only see the avatars and the service is slow, like almost everything with PSN, which is annoying. Near is a good idea, but again…the simplicity in the 3DS sort of works better, even Near is able to give you downloadable things and friends over wifi and not just by having someone in the console’s close proximity. When I get some Near gifts, I just dont get a good sense of what I got in games, whereas on the 3DS I do. Also have I shared gifts with anyone? How do I know?
I love Sony, so I’d want to like the Vita more and I do love it, but I was surprised at how much fun I had on the 3DS in Japan. Now, in Finland when I have the 3DS with me, I’ve gotten one friend on it in six months – these types of features that really depend on actual physical proximity of the console, only work in Japan and at show’s like E3/GDC, but here in Finland and I guess most of Europe, it doesnt. We just dont sit so much on trains with everybody owning a handheld console where they could communicate.
I do love the customization on the Vita. Being able to put in your own wallpapers and taking screenshots of games is awesome. Also, like I said, the OS is good and really bodes well for the PlayStation 4, but also…it feels Sony is following, not leading. Putting two touchscreens etc onto your device doesnt necessarily make it better.
Still, the only time I use the 3DS is when there’s great games like the two I mentioned. Now the machine sits collecting dust, while I do mess around with the Vita and keep it with me on most work days.
But, there’s New Super Mario Bros 2 coming for the 3DS in August, that’s the next time I’m gonna use the device I think. There are quite a few promising Vita games in the pipeline from some internal Sony developers. I cant say more, but there’s some new IP stuff coming that should do good.