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Friday, February 17, 2012

Got my PS Vita!

Yeah... surprisingly, Canada Post showed up yesterday morning with my PS Vita! The earliest I've ever gotten a package from Canada Post, I think...

At this point I haven't played with it much. Even though I bought the First Edition bundle which includes a 4GB (proprietary) memory card, I ran out to Future Shop & sprung for a 32GB card.... which is another $100.00 on top of the $370-some odd I paid for the bundle & Uncharted.

I also bought Lumines Electric Symphony because Touch My Katamari isn't out until next week.

Little Deviants came in a box (yay!) not a cheap sleeve or a download code like past PSP game bundles. Although I'd be ok with having Little Deviants on my memory card rather than physical cartridge.

The PS Vita game boxes are cute.

But opening up the box, I find the game cart and...... nothing else. No game manual, no paper documentation of any kind inside.

And the PS Vita carts themselves are held in the box in a strange way. I honestly am not sure how Sony wants us to remove the carts. Maybe there's some technique I'm missing?

PS Vita cartridges are small. Smaller than 3DS/DS carts. They look about the same size as an SD card.

Part of the First Edition Bundle is a PS Vita case, which is fairly nice. The case is a hard leather shell that's designed almost exactly like a 3DS case I bought recently.

It has 4 pockets for games, and a top netted pocket for accessories like cords/headphones, etc. I put my PS Vita AR cards in there.

A lot of the reviews out there go over the PS Vita menu icon interface fairly well. I don't think I can add much to what's been said. Here's some early initial impressions.

Video: media content from a PC to PS Vita needs to be done through a Content Manager Assistant program. It's not as intrusive/clunky as Media Go was, it's similar to the Blackberry Playbook program needed to transfer media to that device. I downloaded/installed the Sony CMA a few days ago, and just used it now to transfer a MP4 simple profile video I recorded with my Neuros Recorder. Starting up the PS Vita's Video section, the page is chock full of ADVERTISING.

Basically, trailers or rental/purchases of video from the PS Store. You have to carefully tap on the little icon in the center of all this junk to get at what you've got on your own system. I can't figure out how to remove this crap from my "Live Area".

Videos seemed to be just piled into a single list, there doesn't appear to be folder support on the Vita. The video list can be sorted alphabetically or by date.

Video controls are very basic and a major step back from what was on the PSP. The XMB or whatever the main PS Vita menu is called doesn't use physical buttons at all except the PS button to exit applications. Unfortunately, this extends to the video controls. You need to touch the screen to bring up the video control menu, and the only options there are a standard iDevice/smartphone slider control, 15 second skip forward/back buttons, thumbnail scene search, and a pause button. There's none of the fine tuning video playback options that later PSP firmware updates brought to that system here. I'm not positive, but there doesn't even seem to be an aspect-ratio adjust. [UPDATE:] Video aspect ratio can be adjusted from 4:3 to fill the screen by double tapping on the screen.

I guess the thinking is that the Vita doesn't have a hold switch because it doesn't use the face buttons for applications like video. I like touchscreen options, like on my phone. But not allowing buttons/d-pad controls for this app seems really dumb.

Little Deviants: So I've been playing Little Deviants a bunch since I got it. It gets mediocre reviews, but I have to admit I like it & am glad I got it in the bundle. It's a collection of minigames and like most, some work some not as much. Some people call it a glorified tech demo. Maybe.... but I'm personally having fun with it for the most part.

PSP games on Vita: So I looked through my list of downloaded PSP games. 90% of them say "Cannot download to PS Vita". I have 2 PSP games that can be played on Vita: Syphon filter Logan's Shadow & Ace Combat Joint Assault. I briefly played Logan's Shadow, and... to my disappointment there was NO 2nd analogue stick support for the game. It uses the same controls as the PSP. I thought that one of the reasons that only some PSP games are compatible with Vita was that they were optimizing some of them to use the 2nd analogue stick? otherwise, the upscaling while not awesome, is ok considering it's from an older system. [UPDATE:] There IS 2nd analogue stick controls on PSP games! Hold down the touchscreen for a few seconds while playing a PSP game, and the menu comes up to assign the 2nd analogue stick to face buttons, D-pad or even double the left analogue stick. There's also Bilinear filtering which smoothes out the PSP graphics and it does a pretty good job of it.

The PS Vita d-pad & face buttons are also different. Yes they're small, maybe even smaller than the PSPgo buttons? But the real difference is the feel. They are clicky and high raised, they don't feel as good as PSP/Playstation controller buttons. Maybe they need time/use to get worn-in. They're not terrible but they don't have that traditional PSP feel. The analogue sticks feel nice but I don't have a game that makes use of them... well Uncharted Golden Abyss does but I haven't tried it yet.

The build quality of the PS Vita is nice. It's all plastic, but it seems very stylish looking. It's larger than the PSP, but it feels *almost* lightweight because it's so "spread out". If this was the PSP Slim we all speculated about back in 2007, it would be a major success; handily checking off most fans want lists. But this isn't 2007. It's 2012. Gamers are sick of the smartphone comparisions, but that IS where the war is-- competition from smartphones has seriously hurt Sony & Nintendo handhelds. I'm playing with my PS Vita, which feels more or less like the first PSP I bought, the PSP-1001 but with smartphone additions like the touchscreen. But that's almost all the modern touch it adds. In many ways it still feels like an old device. As I'm flicking through the apps, I kept thinking, "Man what this needs is access to the Android Marketplace..." Yes there's the PS Store but it just feels so barren compared to the Android Marketplace, iTunes App Store, hell... I bet even the Windows phone marketplace is better stocked. If only the PS Vita was Android app compatible, it would really open up the possibilities. As it stands, the Vita feels like an isolated piece of nice but dated tech. And we know the PS Store won't get much better-- because they've had years to add content & improve and they mostly haven't. Sure they will add a few apps, but it will never rival the majors.

The Vita is pretty much a games machine. Some people will really like that. Personally, I don't see enough games on the horizon to make me satisfied enough just from games. Right now I'm desperately hoping for a Star Wars Battlefront game that will show off the Vita's dual analogue sticks.

I'm really surprised by how many features were STRIPPED OUT of the PS Vita from the old PSP. We have FEWER options rather than more. There's no battery power percentage (though that disappeared with the PSPgo because of hacking) Part of Sony's thinking might be to "keep it simple" but the lack of ability to "fine-tune" the PS Vita is annoying compared to the PSP. Like wi-fi is difficult to adjust, you have to go into the settings app to turn it on/off. Remember how it used to be a switch? And wi-fi sucks a lot of power, the PS Vita battery life doesn't feel any better than the PSP-- 3 hours or so without wi-fi. Bluetooth is also turned on by default & should be deactivated if you don't need it. I can't wait to pair my bluetooth headphones to the PS Vita, but I will have to, to make sure there's no dead pixels or any other reason to return the console.

I still have much to explore/discover with the PS Vita, so maybe after a few weeks I'll have a better opinion of it, once I know what it's really capable of.



Herrjeff said...

Glad for you and thanks for sharing your first impressions. I tried a demo unit yesterday and lost a few minutes trying to select a game demo with the D-pad and X button... old habits! I hope video playing with get improved in future updateas, because I really enjoy the PSP system compared to IOS. If you have 2 minutes, may you try to change your lamnguage settings to French and see if your games will switch language?

Rhio2k said...

To remove the carts, just pull down and out from the top. The clasps will let the game pop out. To put them back in, just put the bottom of the cart at the bottom of the holding area, and push the top part in so the clasps separate, allow the cart to touch the back of the case, then click shut on the sides...basically what you did to take it out, in reverse.

Don said...


I changed my PS Vita language to french, Little Deviants displayed French in gameplay, but Syphon Filter Logan's Shadow (PSP downloadable game) did not.


Don said...

Rhio2K: I still find that it's awkward, the carts are not only small but very thin. I can understand Sony wanting them held in place securely, but I wish there was a better way to slip them in/out.