The Playstation Vita launched in Europe on February 22, with a strong line up of launch titles. Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout 2048, Rayman Origins and FIFA were all part of what should have been a very successful launch. A week after the Western launch it was announced that a total of 1.2 million units had been sold worldwide, and considering it launched in December in Japan that wasn't overwhelmingly impressive and since launch the sales have dropped considerably.
Overall, the reception has been positive with regards to the Vita's capabilities and plethora of input means. However, third party publishers seem to have taken a wait and see approach as the device has failed to get sales going. It's a powerful machine, almost capable of the same feats as its older brother, Playstation 3, thanks to its 4-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore and 512 MB RAM. The delicious 5" OLED screen (960 × 544), does its part to help sell players on the terrific power the device houses. With a myriad of in put options available to developers, ranging from your standard set up of dual analogues, four face buttons and shoulder buttons, and d-pad to the more exotic touchscreen, rear touch pad, motion sensing and dual cameras.
Sony have continued to launch titles for PS Vita with highlights since launch including Unit 13, Resistance: Burning Skies and Gravity Rush. On March 31, sales had reached 1.8 million worldwide. But much like the Nintendo 3DS, that didn't hit its stride properly until Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land launched, PS Vita seems caught in a bit of a post-launch depression, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
PS Vita offers many different categories of games. First of all you've got your retail selection lead by Uncharted, Gravity Rush, FIFA and so on. Dedicated PS Vita titles that are only available on that platform both as retail products and as downloads. Then there are dedicated Vita titles that are only available through download, these include Super Stardust Delta, Tales from Space: Mutant Blob Attacks, and Escape Plan. In addition to this there is a huge selection of PSP titles available for purchase in the online store and in the future PSOne classics will also be made available for purchase.
The PS Vita is highly compatible with your Playstation 3 and Motorstorm RC was the first title that you could play on both PS3 and PS Vita only needing to buy one game across the platforms. Hopefully more games will follow along the same suit offering cross platform save functionality. Sony has everything in place to make PS Vita a vital new addition to every active PSN user's (and even more so PSN Plus users) arsenal of devices, and it is going to be interesting just how this will be utilised in upcoming PSN/PS Vita and PS3/PS Vita releases.
If PS Vita has struggled to distance itself from its roots as a traditional pure gaming handheld, it's not for lack of applications. Recently Skype joined the fray and PS Vita has applications such as Facebook, Youtube, and the innovative Near that lets you see what other players are playing close by.
It's difficult not to point the finger at the long, slow death of PSP in Western markets as one of the key reasons to the slow start of PS Vita - it was an uphill struggle from day one. Another difficult obstacle is the rise of tablets and smartphones as gaming devices, putting a high-end gaming device targeted at an older demographic than your traditional Nintendo handheld in a difficult position.
Our feature continues on page two with a selection of upcoming releases on PS Vita.