So, on Black Friday I took Amazon’s bait and purchased the Black Friday PS Vita Bundle with The Walking Dead and some other stuff I don’t remember because the last 2 weeks have been entirely consumed by Persona 4 Golden. I just checked, and my total time spent on my game so far is just shy of 30 hours. Needless to say, I am enjoying it. Mind, there are parts that creep me out (READ: SHADOW RISE), and there are a few bits where treatment/depiction of women has made me cringe visibly. But overall, I very much like the story, and Atlus has done a phenomenal job of improving the graphics and letting combat fade off to the side, because nothing ruins a strong story faster than combat that gets in the way of it. I’ve never been a huge fan of turn based combat (my last major game obsession before this was Sanctum 2, a First Person Shooter/Tower Defense hybrid), but in Persona 4, it works perfectly, especially considering how clunky navigating the dungeons in third person can sometimes be. I played Persona 4 a little with my controller on a PC emulator, and the problem is the same, so maybe that’s just a problem with dungeons made of hallways or my playing style rather than the Vita’s joysticks.
The next two paragraphs are a rant about the PS Vita. It is summarized in the paragraph after. You don’t really need to read it unless you really are interested in buying one, because otherwise it’ll probably be boring.
Speaking of which, I have been extremely happy with the PS Vita so far. For me, I like the weight of the thing, and despite the small size of the buttons and joysticks, I like those too. I think Sony has done a very nice job of making the device feel nice, at least to me. And the touch screen actually works well, which was honestly somewhat of a surprise to me the first time I turned it on. However, I’m not a big fan of the UI, and though I can imagine having issues using the back touch panel and the bumpers (‘L’ and ‘R’ buttons) at the same time, most games don’t use the rear touch panel, so the point is somewhat moot.
Which brings us neatly into my issues with the Vita, namely the lack of games. I’m not really sure why, but developers haven’t really been making all that many games for the Vita. I can only imagine as to why (and if someone can clarify this for me I would be extremely happy), since the primary method of distribution is digital download rather than the PSP’s UMD’s (so glad they ditched those). However, there are 2 more major issues I have with the console that sort-of compile into one larger, more important issue that I think Sony really needs to address, and fast. The 2 issues are device storage and the charging port, which compile into the large, ugly head of proprietary hardware. To explain, it helps to understand that Sony likes making money, and one of the many ways it has tried to do this over the years was to introduce and only support hardware and software that they developed in-house. The PSP’s Universal Media Disk (UMD) and the Memory Stick Duo (used in the PSP and all Sony cameras for several years) are two of their more recent failures, while the Betamax video format is probably their most high profile one. Unfortunately, they haven’t always lost, in fact the Blu-Ray Disk format was initially developed entirely by Sony. This success evidently gave Sony enough hope that they decided to give the Vita zero onboard memory, a proprietary charging/USB interface port, and expensive memory cards that are only made by Sony. This is bad, because while there have been times where companies really needed to do things like this to make their devices work, those times are not now. Micro SD cards and Micro USB ports are now used almost (I’m looking at you, Apple) universally in mobile devices, and they work quite well. So it doesn’t make sense that Sony would build a device that is otherwise quite nice and nearly ruin it with proprietary stuff.
(Wow that is a long two paragraphs… I should probably step down now…)
So, to summarize all that, despite the proprietary charging cable, proprietary memory cards, and lack of games, I like the PS Vita. It is a well designed and well built handheld and I will play it more, as long as I can find games to play on it. More importantly, I love Persona 4 Golden. The awesomeness of the original combined with the updated graphics of the Vita make it pretty much a must have for fans of the original and the Persona games in general. I look forward to finishing it and playing again.