There's a certain stigma attached to early hardware adopters. It stems from the jaded demeanor bestowed upon the tech-savvy by years of manufactured obsolescence, in which sleeker, slimmer, and smoother versions of existing products, often with new features, have been brought out within years, if not months, of the initial device's release. Those who purchase these gadgets and gizmos at launch are scorned as impatient, needy slaves to corporate culture, completely lacking all semblance of self-control and self-respect. I, too, have gazed down upon those masses from my ivory tower, secure in my decision to hold off on the 3DS until after it dropped in price, the Xbox 360 until the second generation of hardware was being phased in.
But now, with the Vita, I find myself among them. Why? What about this device makes a day-one purchase so appealing? Why should you pre-order it or, failing that, line up for Sony's latest handheld upon release, rather than waiting for the inevitable price drop or second hardware iteration? At the very least, why get it before features like Remote Play and its PSOne Classics compatibility are fully realized? Well, here are a few reasons.
It Introduces Potentially Cool Hardware Features
First of all, it's a natively twin-stick handheld, which allows for intuitive 3D action games right from the get-go. But there's also the back touch panel, which is an innovation that, in the gaming quarter, is specific to the Vita. It's also the first dedicated gaming device that can come with built-in 3G support. The back touch panel is readily accessible while playing games with the buttons on the front, which allows for touch features to be implemented without demanding that one remove one's hands from the traditional controls and shift them to the screen, where they cover the action. The 3G, meanwhile, introduces potential for location-based gaming events or features. While the latter is a more "eyes-to-the-future" sort of thing, the former is an immediate benefit, deserving of experimentation.
It Has a Great Launch Library
This is the real key. The hardware in question is cool and all, but it's irrelevant without the games to support it. Nintendo's 3DS fell upon hard times at launch because, as novel as the glasses-free 3D tech was, the games that were available alongside the handheld were less than compelling. The Vita has Uncharted: Golden Abyss and WipEout 2048, as well as a brand new ModNation Racers title. This is in addition to ports of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend for the fighting game fans out there. Further, launch window title Gravity Rush has been garnering tremendous interest, grabbing a near-perfect score from Japan's famous Famitsu magazine.
The point is, there are a wealth of launch-day or close-to-launch-day titles for the Vita that promise interesting, unique, engaging, and entertaining experiences. Some of them are brand new entries in big-budget franchises, while others are full-fledged portable versions of console originals (some of which even sport cross-device multiplayer). Whatever your poison, though, it looks like gamers who're buying the system on day one will not be bored.
For a Better Future
How many people own a PSP? Personally, I bought two. I had a Go until recently, which I put toward my Vita purchase, but I only purchased the Go after a few years without one of the handhelds, having sold my original PSP-1000 way back in the day. The thing is, I sold the PSP-1000 because the only games I found myself playing on it were Japanese imports. Many of these titles eventually made their way over the states, but the transition was a slow one, and the system never really caught on over here the way it did in Japan and Europe, where it managed to capture a respectable chunk of the handheld market from Nintendo's dominant DS. This is, in part, because the system didn't really have a lot of games that appealed to those in North America and, from day one, suffered something of an identity crisis as it was struggling to condense console-esque experiences down into a handheld that wasn't quite able to make that work.
It's a cycle, though. The system didn't have games that people in America wanted to play and so Americans weren't interested in buying it. Without a market for their titles, why would American developers invest in producing software for the PSP? There's no way to break out of that. Sony seems to have learned from that debacle, and so the Vita, from its inception, will have a lot more to offer for those with a Western gaming palette, but continued support (and expanded support) from American developers means that gamers will have to demonstrate their interest in the device. What better way to do so than by turning out en masse to purchase the handheld on release? Showing developers that the market for Vita titles it a thriving one is the best way to perpetuate the system's life.
b>Buying at Launch Gets You Extra Goodies
So, there's the First Edition Bundle. It's the 3G version of the Vita along with Little Deviants, a 4 gig memory card, a month of 3G service (with a 250MB limit) and a carrying case. Also, you get the handheld a week early. That's neat and all, but what about those with a bit more patience, who can hold out until the official launch? For them, there's extra incentive to go the 3G route, since it, for a limited time, comes bundled with an 8 gig memory card and free month of 3G service (also the 250MB plan). Both also come with a bonus PSN game. It's an offer that won't be available after launch and, given the price of memory for the handheld (Sony's proprietary formats aren't cheap), it's nice to get some packed in to start you off right.
All of that said, the ultimate decision is yours. The system certainly punched my buttons (personally, I'm excited for Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus), but maybe you're satisfied with your existing hardware. Maybe you bought a 3DS and that's fulfilling your mobile entertainment needs, or you find that you only really have time for mobile phone games while you're on the go. And all of that's okay. No device is going to be for everyone. For those on the fence, however, who are interested but hesitant because they're afraid of the Vita turning into a high-tech paperweight like its predecessor, this is your call to get out there and make sure that doesn't happen.
And you get to play some cool games while doing it. Isn't that swell?
Date: February 7, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*