I bought my Vita in an impulse buying spree, and sometimes I have to ask myself: was that really the best idea? Overall, I would say yes, as I think it’s a pretty impressive system, but that doesn’t stop it from being the cause of a number of frustrations. Its games are generally amazing, I like how it feels, and – for the most part – touch and movement features do little to inhibit the playing experience. So with that said, what are the annoyances? What frustrates me about the device? Where have Sony gone wrong?
The Memory Cards
When the Vita was first revealed at E3 2011, the general consensus was that it was going to be an awesome, and especially affordable, handheld. That was until the outrageous price of the memory cards became known, with a 32GB costing around $100, which was then lowered to $79.99 in 2013. As it stands, even a 16GB is $36.48 on Amazon right now. That, in my opinion, is too high for the price of memory storage, and the fact that they are proprietary means that there is no other option available.
Now, you may feel that a lower amount of memory would be satisfactory. I am here to tell you that it isn’t. I have an 8GB card that barely holds anything. I have to constantly delete apps off of my Vita to make space for new ones. Sony seems to be in a state where day-and-date digital is the norm, so why would they force me into a place where I would rather buy physical copies of games, so that I don’t just have five or so on my system at any one time? Deleting them also isn’t the most practical option, as you will see below.
No Save File Access
If I were to delete a game from my Vita; that would be fine, right? Not exactly, as you can’t just re-download it from the PlayStation Store whenever you feel like it and continue playing from the point where you left off. In fact, your save file will be gone, as the Vita’s game bubbles hold not only the game itself and its updates, but also, for whatever reason, its save files. The PS3 has overcome this by having separate folders for downloaded games and saves, so it makes me wonder why the PS Vita can’t be the same. Why is there no save data management? Why can’t I even see a list of save data on the system? It doesn’t really make any sense.
Of course, I can upload my saves to the cloud using PlayStation Plus, but that obviously isn’t available for everyone – and even if I do, I can’t choose which save file I want to upload; if I have multiple saves, PS Plus will automatically upload any file from the game it wants (it seems truly randomised to me). You can back up data to your PS3 – but not individual saves, because that would be too easy. Instead, the entire application will go across with it, meaning that a transfer of a few KB could leave you waiting for hours while that digital version of Danganronpa copies onto your home console. There just isn’t an easy way to manage saves efficiently, or effectively.
While there are games that you may have to delete, there are apps that you certainly can’t. Some of these apps obviously have a necessary function, like Trophies and the PS Store – but what about those that don’t?
Take, for example, the Calendar app, which I decided to open this week. Unbeknownst to me, it was for the first time. I didn’t get much further than the setup screen, before quickly exiting. This app, and others like it, are a nuisance to me because I simply do not use them. I have to wonder why they cannot be deleted. Why do I need a calendar, or maps, or an email app on my Vita? Surely I should be given the choice to pick and choose what I want to litter my home screen with. It’s also worth noting that I own a number of other devices that do these functions more efficiently than the Vita, further strengthening the fact that I will never set a reminder, nor find a location, on Sony’s handheld.
Near: What the Hell is it?
Near is one of the most perplexing built-in Vita apps; it’s truly a mystery to me. I get that it’s supposed to be a sort of Nintendo Street Pass-type thing, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that well. It tracks your location data, and helps you discover items left by other players. That may seem cool on paper, but in reality these prize drops usually suck. I have no use imaginable for a puzzle piece in Treasure Park.
It also lets you see how many users are playing certain games in your area, and how they rate them. I am now looking at the “Player’s Voice” menu for Little Big Planet PlayStation Vita and I can safely say that I have no idea what anything on this page means, nor how this data is collected. There’s a pie chart in the middle with some strange emoticons that tell me little in the way of any particular emotion (what does a yellow face with sunglasses signify anyway?). It also says that it has a Buzz Rating of 2.5 hearts. That’s very nice, but who has made this rating, and why do I need to know this?
Near does very little in explaining what it does, and what it is about. It confuses me profusely, and I fail to see any use in it, besides receiving mediocre gifts from close-by strangers.
Games that Should’ve Been Awesome… But Aren’t
I have already conceded that the Vita has a slew of amazing games – but then there are others that would be impossible to even label as “good.” While Tearaway, Persona 4: Golden, and Gravity Rush present some awesome handheld experiences, Resistance: Burning Skies and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified do the opposite.
They both hold the monikers of Triple-A exclusives, but in them Nihilistic has created two games that both feel messy and rushed. They don’t play well; they don’t look good; and the amount of content available in them is abysmal. It makes me wonder why they were made at all. My feeling is that Sony needed the developers to finish Resistance quickly so that Call of Duty could get started, leaving them with probably less than a year to make it.
It’s such a shame that not enough care and attention were put into them, as – let’s be honest here – Call of Duty in your pocket could have been awesome. Have a few minutes to spare, turn on the system, and play for five minutes before putting it away again. The Vita needs games like that, and now with Borderlands 2 failing in similar areas, it worries me that we will never see attempts to bring bigger games to a smaller device again in the future.
I love my Vita, sans a few shortcomings, and hope that more developers will support its efforts in being a top-notch system. If this isn’t the case, and it dies a quick and painful death, at least there’s someone you can blame (probably Nihilistic).