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Reviewers divided on American version of PlayStation Vita
Reviewers divided on American version of PlayStation Vita
February 13, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

February 13, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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    30 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Ahead of PlayStation Vita's Western launch on February 22nd, many consumer outlets posted their reviews and thoughts on the new handheld today, expressing wildly varied opinions over its potential.

With the review embargo imposed on Western journalists now lifted, publications are sharing the first thorough examinations of the PS Vita that many U.S. consumers will be exposed to, as they decide whether to purchase the $249 (or the $299 3G model) system when it releases.

Several mainstream sites like Forbes are excited about the PS Vita as a "gamers gaming machine" that "reaches out to a customer base that is not being served at the moment" by other platforms like smartphones, which have stolen much of portable gaming's thunder in recent years.

Time agrees that the handheld fills a void for gamers: "Why buy a Vita in what’s quickly become a smartphone/tablet world? Because you want to play serious, console-style games (with console-style controls) on the go. That's the Vita's exclusive promise at launch, anyway."

Others like The Washington Post, however, don't believe its games are much better than mobile titles: "It is not mind-blowingly better than really killer smartphone gaming experiences, such as Electronic Arts’ Dead Space for Android and iOS, or the incredible Infinity Blade II."

Gizmodo published an especially negative review, in which it compares the system's usefulness and features to smartphones. It advises consumers to not buy the handheld, and declares, "The whole notion of the Vita feels strangely antique."

The gadget site site adds, "With both phones and laptops creeping up on the traditional turf of the computer, the Vita feels uncomfortably without a place that makes sense, falling short of either side — it's not out-phoning your phone or out-consoling your console."

Other concerns brought up by reviewers include its "obtuse interface," "ridiculously expensive" memory cards, and worries over the software lineup failing to deliver any hits after the launch and Capcom's Street Fighter X Tekken in late March.

Tech site The Verge comments, "We're not saying there are no games coming. But things are uncharacteristically murky, especially for Sony, who have made the PlayStation platform the 'Home of the Exclusive' for years now. ... The PSP demonstrated that Sony needs a steady stream of portable-friendly, platform-specific releases."

Many have blamed PS Vita's lacking catalog for the handheld's poor performance in Japan, where it launched in December. The system has struggled to match the sales of Nintendo's 3DS and oftentimes the PSP there, as many wait for must-have titles to release for PS Vita.


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Comments


Pablo Simbana
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why should I care about Gizmodo's review, it reviews the PS vita as a smartphone/tablet and not as a dedicated gaming machine. Says nothing about the games and complains about all the other extra features non-game related, don't waste your time and read the kotaku one.

http://kotaku.com/5884517/the-playstation-vita-the-kotaku-review?
tag=ps-vita

Jason Lee
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I think the Gizmodo review is actually incredibly interesting, and not really a review of the Vita more so than the legacy of handhelds. They do say that it's a powerful piece of hardware that plays games. Which is what the Kotaku review states too, as does the Time and other positive reviews. I think though Gizmodo is pointing out how misguided the Vita seems to be as a mainstream device.



It will have its niche, and for everyone looking for hardcore games on the go it will fill that niche. But that niche might not be large enough, especially with the possibility that the Vita will lack strong titles like the PSP. It used to be that if you wanted to play any sort of game on the go, you had a Gameboy or Gamegear but casual or semi-casual players have moved away from dedicated game handhelds like the Vita with the rise of iWhatevers. I think the Gizmodo "review" is not a review inasmuch a declaration that the idea of the Vita is a dinosaur, and its showing that at the seams.

Joe McGinn
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Good points Jason. I heard an interesting thing about Vita: that within Sony, there was a war. Everyone on the planet, every Sony division, wanted it to also be a phone - except Japan. Japan won.



We can never be sure but I think that was a deeply misguided decision. I know I would buy it if it was also a phone: Vita or smartphone? For me as a gamer that's an easy choice. But they have positioned it in a very inconvenient space, as an extra handheld device I have to carry about in addition to my phone. An inconvenience, to a modern audience, does not sell.

Florian Garcia
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The psp started the same way. It was a slow launch with very few titles. I personally don't give a crap about the smartphone market and I will be happy not seeing this crowd coming on the Vita. I don't understand why people expect devices to be this or that. So yes, the Vita won't be an iDevice and I say yay! to that. I've had iPhones for years, played thousand of games on it and never spent more than 10 minutes on one nor ever felt comfortable playing.

Hakim Boukellif
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@Joe

Phones have limited lifespan. The PSP is 7 years old now. And although it's on its last legs in the west, it'll probably keep trucking for another year or two in Japan. In comparison, how many people, especially among smartphone owners, still use their phone from 7 years ago? Or 4 years for that matter?



There's also the matter of the fact that most people only need and have one phone. Why would someone who already has an iPhone or Android phone get another device marketed as phone? Alternatively, why would that person switch to a Vita if that meant having to leave all the apps he already has for his or her previous phone behind?

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Craig Page
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I would get one if it was also a phone. Touch screen games are all right, but very limited with the controls you can use.



My phone is the exact same shape as a nintendo controller, why can't it have a directional pad, A and B buttons, and a start and select button?

k s
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I expect the high price of the machine and it's memory cards to be a serious obstacle, not too mention the lack luster list of exclusive games. All and all I'd be surprised if the vita does even as "well" as the psp did.

Lyon Medina
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To say the very least, was not very high to begin with.

Travis Flynn
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I agree that the gizmodo review was needlessly obtuse, mostly seeming to rip on the device for not have as good of a user interface as an iDevice, and essentially writing off the fact that it even plays games at all. In fact, the premise of the conclusion is that ignoring games the Vita wouldn't be worth purchasing.



I'm not sure if everyone should be so doom and gloom about the Vita. It seems to me it basically occupies the exact same space of every tablet device, but a little smaller. Tablets sacrifice gaming for better browsing, and the Vita seems to do the opposite.



What I can't understand is why, when the vita is priced similarly to almost every tablet (Actually, much less) yet many reviews condemn it solely based on the price. I'm not saying I wouldn't appreciate a price drop, but in a day and age when people are getting $200-600 phones and $300-600 tablets, it seems weird that $250 is an outrageously high price.



Perhaps it's marketing. The vita will live and die on the support it gets. Being abandoned by the MH franchise may be the death knell of the console, sadly. On the other hand, the launch lineup is really pretty varied, and I'm kind of surprised it's been so widely criticized. Many of the games have been very highly rated. Still, the Vita needs a "killer app" to succeed, for sure. Maybe Gravity Daze?

Lyon Medina
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The Vita is a ground layer product, to me at least. the next product that is built strictly for gaming is going to be a lot more better prepared because of the lessons people are learning from the vita now.

Darcy Nelson
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I wasn't gloom and doom until they announced they pulled backwards compatability with PSP games. D:

Joe McGinn
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That was spectacularly dumb of Sony, wasn't it Darcy? It's not even a question of whether or not you will use the feature - I know many people ask for backwards compatibility and never us it. But it's a real slap in the face, like Sony is saying before they even launch they are not really committed to Vita, at least not outside of Asia.

John Flush
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@Darcy - having not been a PSP owner, I pretty much use the next console, with backward compatibility, as the place to re-engage with a brand. It would have come with all the good PSP games and got me on-board with the current gen.



As a consumer I did the same thing with the Wii. I had no interest in the GameCube, but when I heard the Wii had GC compatibility I could easily find 10 or so games on the Wii I wanted to try and still get some Wii games.



I don't think backward compatibility is as important when everyone already owned the prior console (eg. PS2 -> PS3) - but this move pretty much killed interest for me in the Vita.

Hakim Boukellif
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@John

Since you never owned a PSP, the lack of Passport program in the US shouldn't really affect you unless you were planning on buying UMDs. The Vita is backwards compatible with PSP games on PSN.

Eric Geer
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Backward compatibility killed it for quite a few people I know, including myself. It just seems like they don't really care about the US market(which they shouldn't because PSP wasn't extremely popular here) But I know I have purchased quite a few games that I would have liked to carry over to the PSVita.



Oh well. This is a system I would like to have since I am a handheld gaming whore, but due to the price, memory card price, lack luster lineup, and no UMD passport program...I will probably just wait for a price drop(6-12 months)



@John---I agree--backward compatibility is generally to "re-engage" with the brand...and because of the lackluster launch titles...this would have helped out immensely with the PSVita IMO. Since there are quite a few incredible PSP games that have come out over the last few years that most people probably didn't even bother with.

John Flush
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@Hakim - I might have to look again then. I only graze the news and hear it has been pulled and think oh well.



The fact PSN might open it up to me means I should re-look at it. My only fear is no one has figured out digital distribution should lower the cost, especially with older games. But I still need to look.

Evan Combs
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I find that people at gadget sites rarely tend to be into games. Yeah they like games like Angry Birds, but are clueless when it comes to everything else gaming related. They tend to care more about overpriced phones and tablets.



As a device it seems to be the current ultimate portable gaming device, if ported it can play any smartphone/tablet game, but it can also play so many other games not possible on those devices. If Sony wants this device to succeed they need to try and get developers of smart phones games and apps over to the Vita. Even more importantly though they need their games to be more like XBLA and PSN games than $60 box games. If all you are going to give me is Assassin's Creed in mobile form I will pass. I don't want to see worse versions of console games on it I want to see original ideas created from the ground up to be on the Vita, instead of console games ported over to the Vita. Do that and I might actually consider buying it.

Timothy Larkin
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The Vita looks identical to a PSP. I don't know why I haven't heard a peep about this from the media. This is a huge blunder by Sony. For those that think looks don't matter, see Apple. You don't make a new state-of-the-art device and use the dated design. (Actually, the current design is what the PSP should have been.)

Eric Geer
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Um...so the iPhone has evolved in terms of design?

http://www.intomobile.com/2011/08/22/inforgraphics-iphone-evoluti
on/



As for the iPod and the iPad--they have become just alternate forms of the iPhone.



Why change the design when it works? The PSP had a good feel about it(comfortable to hold)--just needed another analog stick---So they stuck with it. They tried to reimagine it with the PSPGo and the Playstation Phone--but these just feel cramped and small(IMO)

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Timothy Larkin
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Eric:

The iPhone is released with subtle tweaks on an annual basis. Also, the iPhone's design was revolutionary where it is dependent on a large touch screen. My point about Apple was that design matters. The PSP was released in 2005. 7 years later and the PS Vita looks identical to the PSP? Nobody thought about how this would effect marketing?



Christian:

You are dead wrong. The 3DS is selling very poorly according to this Jan 26, 2012 article: http://mashable.com/2012/01/26/nintendo-sale/



Anthony and Dan:

I am referring to the overall design and look, not subtle tweaks, or technology. Sony was complacent (again) and pulled a "Sixaxis". This is a repeat of the PS3 controller design (which was from 1995!) They are pinching pennies in the wrong place.

Christian Rivers
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Tell me, would you take note if a tech reviewer decided that a local restaurant had terrible food, because it didn't fit his idea of what food was? Then why listen when he complains that a game machine is not an iPad/phone/printer/space ship. The vita is a portable console, review it as one or don't review it.

Joseph Garrahan
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I remember when the 3DS came out, some people were saying the launch titles sucked and that the Vita's launch titles would be the best launch titles ever in the whole wide world.



Funny...

Travis Flynn
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Have you been paying attention to the Vita launch titles in the US? They've been all over review sites the last few days and many of them are actually really, really promising. The 3ds launch was mostly shovelware, with 1 first party title that had very little gameplay (pilotwings resort), and then 3 other notable entries (DOA, SFIV, and Steel Diver, maybe the Turn Based Strategy game.)



The vita is launching with several top notch games, Lumines: Electronic Symphony, WipEout 2048, UMVC 3, Rayman Origins, Touch My Katamari, Super Stardust Delta, Army Corps from Hell, Hot Shots Golf, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss.



The launch lineup in Japan was extremely lackluster, but the launch lineup in the US is actually one of the most robust and complete launch lineups for a platform in gaming history. The only thing they don't have a really strong entry in is the RPG department, which is kind of surprising considering it was such a staple of the PSP.

Ujn Hunter
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I'll buy a PSP Vita eventually when it drops to $100-150 range... but the forced Touch & Waggle controls really hurt it in my eyes... if I though Touch & Waggle controls were fun I'd buy games on my iPhone and wouldn't need to buy a PSP Vita.

k s
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Knowing sony you've got a long wait and by that time it maybe discontinued.

Ujn Hunter
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@k s

I have no problem waiting. I still enjoy playing my PSP and I have a backlog of about 40 games on it. Personally I didn't feel the need for Nintendo or Sony to move onto new handhelds... I am quite content playing the ones I own.

Darcy Nelson
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I guess I'm just cranky about the lack of Passport since I recently paid full price ($40) for a new PSP game. It was a port of a Playstation port of an SNES game, no less. Obviously as a fan of the PSP, I feel that I'm in the demographic that Sony is shooting for, so IMO taking it out was a bit of a gutshot. I can see how someone who has never touched a PSP for might be optimistic about the Vita, but as someone who was very likely to spend money on this tech, I feel inclined to grump about it. Mixed reviews, indeed.

John Palamarchuk
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Why do people act like the PSP sales were lackluster? It was Sony's first handheld and it sold more than the entire lifetime worldwide sales of Nintendo GameCube and MS Xbox combined, oh and add Dreamcast in there as well...PSP still outsold them all put together. PSP sales were pretty amazing, how could you scoff at 75 million? What more can you expect really?


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