5 reasons the PS Vita deserves a second chance

Nobody buys this thing, but it's actually pretty dang cool.
Nobody buys this thing, but it’s actually pretty dang cool.

Sony’s new portable, the PlayStation Vita hasn’t exactly been selling like hotcakes. Well, maybe it’s been selling like hotcakes that are covered in periodical cicadas. In any event, this week Sony announced it would no longer be focusing on the device, meaning no more AAA first party titles. They are instead relying on third parties and indies to carry the gadget through its lifespan.

Many people are crying this is, informally, the death of the system. Maybe this is true. Maybe it’s not. I can say with some sort of pseudo-authority that it certainly deserves to live. After all, its very name means “life.” Etymology aside, there are plenty of other reasons. Here they are:

Terraria is essentially a 2D Minecraft and it's a blast.
Terraria is essentially a 2D Minecraft and it’s a blast.

Indies on the go: Indies have undergone something of a renaissance in the last few years. They are everywhere, clogging up Steam, PSN, Xbox Live and even the garden variety Internet. Why? To be blunt, the big blockbusters have begun to bore the pants off of a growing segment of the gaming population. Another muscular space marine wandering a brown landscape causing massive bloodshed? Great. That’s not at all embarrassing to enjoy as a grownup. (It actually is. I was using reverse psychology.)

In any event, it seems only the indie titles continue to embrace gaming as an evolving and experimental art form. To that point, the Vita has access to a great number of these games and more all of the time: “Terraria,” “Fez,” “Limbo.” All of the most recognizable titles and dozens of less recognizable titles all ready to play on the go, or even on the toilet. It’s a veritable indie machine.

Limbo is free for PlayStation Plus members. Also, that spider is terrifying.
“Limbo” is free for PlayStation Plus members. Also, that spider is terrifying.

PlayStation Plus: The PlayStation Plus service is an absolutely fantastic deal. Remember all of those years you paid for Xbox Live, just to be given the privilege to play something else you also paid for? Sony blew the lid off of that idea and started giving away gads of free games to consumers who plunked down that $8 a month. It’s sort of a Netflix for games, as PS4 and PS3 owners know.

However, it’s also greatly supported on the Vita. Remember that list of indie titles in the paragraph before them? You can play most of them for free, in addition to some of the system’s earlier bigwig games like “Uncharted” and “Gravity Rush.” Also, look for insane discounts on other games every once in a while. I recently snagged a bunch of old RPGs for around two bucks a pop.

Back in my day, we hiked through ten miles of snow in the nude to play these games.
Back in my day, we hiked through ten miles of snow in the nude to play these games.

OG PlayStation Games: There was once a system simply called PlayStation. This ancient and beloved console housed gobs of classic games, including fantastic installments in the “Final Fantasy,” “Suikoden,” “Persona,” “Spyro” and, of course, “Resident Evil.” You can download them all right on to your Vita, giving yourself a ridiculous case of the nostalgies. Be careful, however. Games were tougher back then.

Is Persona 4 Golden a great RPG or the greatest RPG? It's both!
Is “Persona 4 Golden” a great RPG or the greatest RPG? It’s both!

From Japan With Love: The Vita is region free, meaning with a little settings rejiggering, you can download any Japanese game you want. Even if you don’t want to mess with that, the American PSN still houses tons of quirky Japanese titles, not to mention all kinds of great RPGs. “Persona 4 Golden is a particular delight.

Holy shnikes! That guy's hands aren't attached to anything! Oh yeah. The remote play stuff is cool too.
Holy shnikes! That guy’s hands aren’t attached to anything! Oh yeah. The remote play stuff is cool too.

PS4 + Vita = K.I.S.S.I.N.G.: The PS4 and the Vita are made to work together side by side like Mario and Luigi, Jobs and Wozniak or, uh, Hall and Oates. Not only can the Vita be used as an extra controller for PS4 games, but the Vita can actually be used to play PS4 games (provided you have a decent web connection). I’ve recently been fooling around with this feature and it works pretty well. There is a slight lag but its nothing to complain about. So if you’ve ever wanted to play the new Infamous game while laying in bed, this is probably your only chance, unless you install a television on your ceiling.

Once net neutrality is dunzo, PS Now will become PS Sometime Later. BAM! Political humor.
Once net neutrality is dunzo, PS Now will become PS Sometime Later. BAM! Political humor.

The Future?: Sure, there might not be any portable versions of “Ratchet and Clank” or “The Last of Us” coming to the Vita anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean there will be a dearth of games. As I stated earlier, the indies keep flowing, as do the quirky Japanese titles and other third party oddities. Also, Sony has announced that the PlayStation Now service (which streams games) will be available for the system, making it a possible contender to play all of those old PS2 and PS3 games. The future is bright — well, bright-ish.

Aren't my Photoshop skills second to none? I am a golden God!
Aren’t my Photoshop skills second to none? I am a golden God!

Is this enough?: Well, it’s for you to decide. It is for me, but then again I’m a games reviewer who spends most of his time talking to a stray cat named Sharky. Of course, no amount of plusses can erase some of the negatives that are built right into the system, the proprietary and expensive memory cards being a particularly tough one to swallow. At the end of the day, however, it’s a fine little system that certainly deserves another look. Maybe the success of the PS4 will be kind to it.

 Follow Lawrence Bonk on Twitter @sidescrollers


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.


Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.