Back in 2012, the gaming market was an entirely different beast. We still thought nothing could beat the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 was still playing catch-up, and Nintendo players got a shock to the system with the just-introduced Wii U. During this time, we also had the PlayStation Vita.
This year marks the tenth anniversary that it’s been on the market, providing an evolution in handheld gaming that made the PlayStation Portable look like the NES in comparison to the SNES. Loaded with features and some killer franchises, it had the chance to be Sony’s killer portable.
For some reason, however, it wasn’t. The system eventually faded into obscurity when Sony gave up support on it in 2019 due to lack of interest, focusing its attention on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 instead. However, it’s still managed to attain a cult following over the years, mainly due to die-hard fans and developers still giving it the support it needs.
That raises an interesting question: is it worth picking up a PlayStation Vita even after all these years and without its original manufacturer on board? We’re going to say yes, and here’s why.
(Also, quick side note: we’re not going to talk about modding here. This is about approaching the Vita from a collecting perspective.)
It’s Still a Hell of a Piece of Hardware
Even though it’s ten years old and nowhere near the tech that the Nintendo Switch provides (in terms of controls, anyway), the PS Vita is still a workhorse. It can still produce full-color visuals like a champ, and it can handle both physical and downloadable games without missing a beat.
Not to mention the set-up it has is terrific. It features two analog sticks that make playing all sorts of games easy, including its Uncharted spin-off, Assassin’s Creed, and LittleBigPlanet 2. It’s also a haven for twin-stick shooter fans, with a variety of third-party and indie favorites to choose from. Remember the good old days of Robotron 2084? Thanks to the Vita’s set-up, those days continue to thrive with all-new experiences.
There’s that screen, too. The early model Vitas still look good after all these years, even if they’re smaller than most others. The OLED models are a thing of beauty too, with crisp visuals that continue to shine in a number of 2D and 3D games. The sound is excellent as well, even going through smaller speakers. (For good measure, you can use a headset to get the most out of your stereo sound, like we do.)
When it comes to hardware, the PS Vita is still excellent. On top of that, if you do enough searching, you can find a good special edition model such as the awesome, orange one. It looks like something straight out of Orange County.
Don’t Forget the Games
One real interesting caveat to the PlayStation Vita’s library is just how many games it has available. The library may not be as large as the PlayStation 4’s, but there’s still a lot to choose from – especially on the indie front.
That’s because devs, at the time, found it relatively easy to develop a game across PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. In fact, for a few years there, releases usually ended up day-and-date across both platforms.
In its heyday, the PlayStation Vita was home to a number of huge AAA releases. A strong port of Borderlands 2? Yup. A near-perfect port of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3? We still have it! Gems like God of War Collection, Ratchet and Clank Collection, and Jak and Daxter Collection? In our library, so to speak!
There is an interesting catch to buying physical games nowadays: most of them go for top-dollar. Since the PlayStation Vita has become such a haven for collectors and those needing everything for the system, there’s high demand. As a result, some games can actually go well above $50, and maybe even $100. That’s child’s play compared to, say, the Dreamcast and Sega Saturn market, but you’ll still pay quite a bit.
That said, the good news is that most games are accessible. You can find a good portion over on Amazon, as well as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. You can also check around eBay, with all sorts of nifty deals available.
On top of that, several indie releases are also available to add to your collection. This past year alone, we saw physical releases for a number of rarities. These include the arcade-style racer Horizon Chase Turbo, the fun side-scroller Super Meat Boy, and the gun-toting adventure Luckslinger. While the market has pretty much dried up for 2022 (for now), there’s more than enough to hunt down out there.
Again, you’ll need a deep wallet to get most of the games on the shelves these days. It’ll be worth it, though, especially if you need a good physical library to go along with your recently acquired Vita.
It’s Worth It In the End
Even though Sony’s given up on the PlayStation Vita, that doesn’t mean you should. What remains is a wonderful handheld system loaded with features – particularly Remote Play. This still works on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, serving as a nice trick that lets you play hit games away from your TV. Not to mention the system’s awesome game library and technical features.
So, yes, it’s worth it. Your wallet will need to be ready, and your passion just as much so. If they’re both ready, however, this piece of hardware is worth venturing into. I just hope it continues to thrive in another decade.
Need more retro goodness? Check out our review of Moto Roader MC!