These three articles – 3DS and Vita: Past, Present and Future, How does Wii U fit in my wallet? and Nintendo series reborn – were originally written as entries for the Blog of the Week competition at IGN. The first two won the prize and I think the third is pretty good, too. I hope you enjoy!
This article was originally posted on IGN on February 24, 2012.
I’ve been a Nintendo follower for over ten years. The first time I ever bought a video game system not made by the house of Mario was in 2009, when I decided to get a PS3 so I could play those games that came out everywhere – except on the Wii. Games like Assassin’s Creed and Batman: Arkham Asylum. In this seventh generation of home consoles, one thing was immediately noticeable: Two systems – the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 – were in many ways equivalent. Whether someone’s favorite is one or the other is just a matter of personal opinion and experience. And there was a third system – Wii – that was completely different: it featured absolutely amazing games – Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword are good examples – that weren’t available anywhere else, but it also lacked amazing games that were available everywhere else. So there was a clear reason for someone who’s always had nothing but Nintendo systems to get another system. Having two systems allowed for two completely different experiences.
The same could be said about owning both a Nintendo portable and a Nintendo console: a GBA and a GameCube, or a DS and Wii. Nintendo always knew how to differentiate a game meant to be played on a big TV while sitting on your couch and one meant to be played while waiting at the bus stop. You’d get great games of the same series either way – Metroid Prime on GameCube and Metroid Fusion on GBA, for example – but each one would be built specifically for a console or a handheld.
While it can be argued that owning both a Nintendo handheld and a Sony handheld also gives you two very different experiences, it can also be argued that having a Sony console and a Sony handheld give you two similar experiences. Vita’s launch (and launch window) lineup certainly had more volume than the 3DS’s, but a quick look at it shows that quite a few of the more interesting titles, like Rayman Origins or Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, are already playable on other platforms. Platforms likely already owned by people interested in Vita. Even new titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss don’t differentiate themselves enough from their console counterparts to be really intriguing. There are some really interesting titles, like Gravity Rush, but those seem very few for now.
Vita also carries a burden left by the PSP: That many of the great games only came out in Japan. It’s much easier to make a list of amazing games that came out in the west for the DS than it is for the PSP. And that brings another thing: knowing your system will be useful for all those years you’ll spend with it. Despite the 3DS’s weak launch lineup, when I bought mine I knew that there would/will eventually be a new Mario, new Mario Kart, new Zelda, new Pokémon, new Metroid, new Kirby… Games that would make my purchase valid. When I think of the Vita’s future, I see a few titles that will likely come out that will interest me (God of War, inFamous, Gran Turismo), but I always feel like I’d rather play those on my PS3. And if those games do end up being released for both platforms, there will be no reason to purchase a Vita.
After having such a positive experience with my PS3, I have to admit I want a Vita. Rather, I want to want a Vita. And I’ll probably get one in a few years, after it’s cheaper and has a considerable library. But it currently gives me no reason to want it. For now, I’ll entertain myself with Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land and, soon enough, Kid Icarus: Uprising. And in a few months, Luigi’s Mansion 2 and Paper Mario. And hopefully Fire Emblem, if we don’t have to go all Operation Swordfall for that. And finally, there’s a new home console coming out this year that my wallet is ready for. I wouldn’t be able to buy a Vita and Wii U in the same year even if I wanted to.
The Vita has potential. It’s a powerful handheld packed with control options and features. But if its fate is to become a pocket PS3, I’d rather stay with my PS3.