Monday, February 18, 2013

12 months with my Vita, the cheap barmaid of portable gaming

The first year with my Vita has been a happy, if furtive, affair. While, from the hype, I was expecting a yacht-and-Mediterranean-beach with a supermodel-style brief encounter, this has definitely been more of a modern-but-cheap-hotel with a voluptuous barmaid affair, one with plenty of cheerful highlights, if not the big-bang, jet-setting, moments. 

Looking back,of all the games I own (12 boxed titles, 10 digital downloads and a hat full of PSP, PSN, Ps one, minis, PSM and others), Uncharted, WipEout 2048, Sonic Transformed and Gravity Daze are the handful that make me feel like I'm playing a next-generation portable. Everything else offers pretty much as-you-were gaming, nothing too advanced apart from the visuals from the good old PSP. 

But the Vita has been saved, for me, by the growing supply of little games that add quirk and personality to this barmaid metaphor. Nothing personifies this quickie-approach better than MotorStorm RC, a few minutes of gaming, yet near endless challenge through your friend's times and scores to beat. Shaving fractions of a second here and there saw me put weeks into the game during the Vita's first few months after the post-launch lull. 

Since then we've had the slutty filth of Frobisher Says!, some peekaboo with PulzAR and the odd refined moment of Pure Chess. While what remains of the Vita's tarnished image still promises an allure of seductive, executive, excess; I've been caning it in back alleys with PSP classics like Persona 3 Portable, minis like Velocity and a bunch of PSM titles.

Hopefully 2013 will see the Vita, now with added price cut, able to deliver on Sony's marketing department's illusion, as the games it needs to shout "hello, I'm next gen!" arrive. If not, I'm quite happy with what we've got together. I think we've learned that developers need to focus on what makes your saucy (but not tarty) little inner-gaming barmaid happy, and not trying to emulate the bigger games (unless you have the time to do a proper job).

Hopefully, she'll keep her head above water in the insanity over the big next-gen consoles (which will end up disappointing gamers in their own ways), I guess in six months we'll know if the Vita is selling well enough for publishers to devote some serious resources to it, but for now I'll settle for personality over a few genre games, as long as the important titles, GTA, Monster Hunter and a stream of originals do make the grade. 


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