A Month with My New Imported PlayStation Vita

I gave my VITA a fitting wallpaper with Catherine

It’s been about a month since I first got my PlayStation VITA from my local import store. I had to wait a few extra days for the shipment to come in and pick up the 3G edition, because even if it doesn’t work in the US, it’s good to see the differences and find out what the 3G version of the VITA is all about.

Luckily the VITA, like all other PlayStation products after the PlayStation 2, has been region free right out of box and allows you to select your language. I was tempted to start with English first, but some stories I’ve read about made me go with the Japanese settings first. After the basic set up of time, date, and setting up the system, I linked it to my Japanese account I made for my PlayStation 3 (for demos and special events, PS HOME has… ::cough:: Macross Frontier Concert ::cough::). I began playing around with the PS Store and downloaded a few demos.

With so much touching expect smudges but fear not for mine has a screen protector

The moment you start up in the VITA menu, everything is controlled by the touch menu, different pages will allow you to freely manage your applications. Some of the applications pre-loaded include Near, Welcome Park, Trophies, The PlayStation Store, Group messaging, Friends, Party, Browser, Remote Play, Videos, Music Content Manager and Settings.

After playing around with the Japanese Store and a few of the available demos, I went ahead and reformatted the VITA and started all over again. This time, I linked my VITA to my English PSN account. No PSN store yet, which means no way to download or transfer any of my PSP games over to the memory stick. It did sync trophies and I got to play around with the Welcome Park.

Welcome Park is your VITA tutorial, it has a few mini games that teach you the abilities of the VITA, like the camera, Touch Screen for both front and back, six-axis control, and trophies! After that, Welcome Park is no longer needed…..delete!

Near uses wi-fi to show you who is playing locally and what’s around. There were only 1 or 2 people around me with a VITA during that time.

Since the PSP VITA only allows you to tie in one account, I decided to stay with my English account, rather than resetting again, the VITA is region free so I bought 2 VITA games, one action one fighting, transferred my PSP save data over to my PC, and then into my VITA and I felt like things were ready to go.

Now it’s time for the main event with my first VITA game! It was a no brainer for me as I picked up Uncharted: The Golden Abyss. Not only is Uncharted a great series, but the game also has English dialogue and subtitles. Making use of the VITA’s camera, six-axis motion, touch screen the game was not only long but fun, stay tuned for our review on the game soon. The Vita cartridges are about the size of an SD card and after you first play it a game bubble is created for every game requiring you to touch to start the game, and have the game inside the VITA.

Now a concern many people had including myself was the controls, two thin looking thumb sticks, control pad and very small buttons while the front and back on of the system are touch screen. The thumb pads are a nice addition and work just like the thumb pads on the PS3, and the control pad and buttons are much smaller after a couple of minutes of playing and getting used to it, it was almost no a problem. There were a few minutes I may have pressed a wrong button because of the size but after playing some Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 my fingers got used to the VITA fast, playing a lot of PS2/PS3 helps with the layout.

And finally the menu, the one thing the VITA does absolutely right are the menus. At any time by pressing the PS button you minimize whatever program or game you were playing and allows you to access other applications like browser or Facebook when its available. From there in the menu options you can continue where you left off in the game or close it by  sliding your finger as if you were flipping pages.

Is it worth the $250 or $299 dollars? The 3G version is actually pretty terrible, $14.99 per month for 250MB of bandwidth or $24.99 for 2GB is pretty crud depending on what you want to do, especially if you are buying games and don’t have a PS3. If you have unlimited internet it’s better for you to pay the $14.99 for the tethering  and do whatever you want, I laugh since in Japan you could buy 100 hrs of internet for about $50 bucks and use it as you please which would of been nice. For the Wi-fi aka the system itself, Uncharted gave me a good reason to fall for the VITA and if games like it keep coming out the VITA will be great for gamers who want action and great looking games on the go and be able to still do all there social stuff anytime.

Battery Life: Very Low, 4-6 hrs depending on what you do, since the VITA focuses a lot on the touch and. The battery really gets drained, and unlike the PSP, the battery can not be switched out. The VITA can be its own worst enemy when you really are in the middle of a game and battery is running out. Luckily Sleep mode can be your friend as I have left it on for about 4 days without needing a charge, and it was still in great health after a full charge.

Hidden Costs! The biggest one is the Memory Card, since the VITA itself has almost built in memory to hold saves or many apps, VITA games save in the cartridge so unless you plan on transferring PSP games, PS1 games, music and movies over you have no worries, but if you do look to spend up to $99 for a 32 gig card. The other problem is be very careful since the stick is very small and very easy to misplace.

One memory card can be linked to each account so if you plan on having multiple accounts, take good care of the memory sticks and have fun resetting your PS VITA a lot.

Overall VITA does a nice job of mixing a handheld console and social device together while also bringing out some great games. I am still waiting for the PSN Store to arrive and see what Sony will be doing to improve the gaming scene and also the social applications. It’s great for PlayStation fans and hardcore gamers, but it still has ways to go before it makes casual gamers want to pick it up.

The PS VITA will be on sale February 22nd in the US, but for those who pre-ordered the First Edition bundle, they will get it on the 17th.

Grade: B+

There’s still so much to test out once the America PSN store is up.

Here are the first 40 seconds of Uncharted: The Golden Abyss:

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Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.