I’ve gone over how to break this news to you in my head many, many times. I considered keeping it as a dirty little secret, the kind that you only let out when drunk, or plunging off of a cliff in an open-top sports car. I thought long and hard about blaming it on a naughty dog. I even considered going down the denial route.
The problem is, I now own a Playstation Vita and I think I might be falling in love with it.
There, I’ve said it.
So, I guess I’d better explain myself better, less you end up standing there, arms folded demanding some good excuse for this transgression… Ok… It all started last year at E3…
You see when Sony officially revealed the PlayStation Vita (up until then we’d been calling it the NGP) at E3 I was set down a route that would see me in the situation I now find myself in. The official ‘reveal’ wasn’t about whistles and bells, nor did it feature a shed load of launch title trailers, instead it was simple. Refined. Dignified. The product was there for all and sundry to witness and judge.
At this point I was confused as to how much of a step up from the PSP the Vita would be, but we kept hearing talk of the ‘Portable PS3’ being banded around and this trailer was enough to cement my mind with pure gaming joy.
Who wouldn’t want HD in their hands? Who wouldn’t want an OLED screen pumping out those HD visuals? Who wouldn’t want updated versions of Wipeout, Super Stardust and Everybody’s Golf (SHUT IT!)?
I did, but I didn’t like the price. Sub-£300, barely for the 3G model, which would be required to fully appreciate what was on the plate, was too much for my budget, and the Wi-Fi version was tempting, but I had an issue paying out more cash for a handheld than a full on home console. As we moved towards launch day I saw the PS Vita booth at Eurogamer 2011, and posed for a photo with Feisar Pilot Ami Nakajima. I was impressed by everything, but the price was still a stickler. After jumping on the 3DS at launch and then seeing a chunk wiped off of the RRP a few months later – and despite the Ambassador offer it still stung – I couldn’t commit to a handheld console at such a high-end price, when I expected the same again. But no price drop came.
Some retailers put together decent bundles, but the Wi-Fi model that I had decided to go for just didn’t drop low enough to shift the constant feeling that a price drop was right around the corner, awaiting my purchase before striking like a bargain-infused cobra on heat.
So launch day came and went, a friend bought one and let me have a few games, all of which served no purpose other than to fuel my desire, which continued to grow until I heard the news that PS Plus subscribers may soon get free PS Vita content as well as their PS3 freebies. This sent me over the edge, I was like a fourteen year old boy with three miles of railway tracks and hedges stuffed full of old copies of grot magazines to work through. The anticipation was palpable. The prospect of free stuff was enough to force my hand, I was about to take the plunge, to dive headlong into the OLED world of HD handhelds, but then I realised. I still couldn’t justify the cost. I would still have to purchase a seperate memory card, and then I’d need to get some games…
Things were a LOT easier when we were kids, “Daaaaaaaad! CAN I HAVE A VITA?! PLEEEEEEEEASE?!”
So with a wife and kids, responsibilities and bills to pay, I resided my self to a world in which I would settle for just owning a 3DS (and don’t think I’m ungrateful for that).
I sold Vitas to people at work, I sold them games and accessory packs.
Each one that went out the door felt like another opportunity was gone. But then I was saved. Someone didn’t want theirs. They traded it in. At my store!
This meant that on top of the reduced price, I could apply staff discount of 20% to the price tag. I was suddenly in the position to afford my own Vita. I opened the box and vowed that no-one would ever reject her again. She would be mine. I called her Evita.
Placing her on the work counter downstairs in my shop, with a post-it note attached with two words scrawled on:
Now all I had to do was convince my wife that we needed a Vita in the house – admittedly a hard sell as even I couldn’t see past the gaming side of the device – but it seems I didn’t need to.
“If you want” she said, before I even had a chance to justify my desire. All I’d said was “Doll? We’ve got this pre-owned Vita at work” and she played a blinder, supporting my obsession with the ‘shiny’. Within a week we’d shuffled our finances around, robbing Peter to pay Paul and she was mine. I took her home and carefully opened the box before taking her out and powering her up. She felt good. The screen dazzled, bright, crisp, clear.
I downloaded a few free titles – the best of which was a British-made mini game collection called Frobischer Says – and sat in awe of the clarity.
I’ve been gaming on the go since the late 80’s, but even the 3D effect on the 3DS paled in comparison to the feeling I got navigating the PS Vita’s menus. The whole device reeks of quality, and yet despite this it is still regarded as an expensive folly by most. I can see why. It is expensive, but dammit some things just are. I’ve since picked up a full retail game on download for half the in-store price and got that desired copy of Everybody’s Golf. (See, I told you to shut it. I LOVE that series!) I’ve bought some smaller titles, most notably the brilliant Motorstorm RC. I am a long way off of having a great library of games, but that will come in time. I’m still refusing to pay top price for anything, which seems to be a winning strategy, but the system has a lot of potential. This year will decide if Evita and I will make it through the honeymoon period, but I reckon we’ll get through it, together, in the light of an OLED sky.