I hadn’t been to the midnight launch of anything in over a decade. The last launch I attended was May 2001 when the Tool record “Lateralus” released on the same day as the Weezer “Green Album.” The midnight release at Tower Records was nerdy and fun. So was the release of Sony’s PlayStation Vita last week at GameStop.
I went to the Vita’s midnight launch to investigate two popular suspicions: a) that there was a market for standalone portable game devices in the age of iOS and b) that teenagers are very bad. I spent half an hour waiting for the Vita, which is to say I spent half an hour watching mostly 17 – 21 year-old guys interact with each other. In this brief but fulfilling period of time, both of these suspicions were confirmed.
How does Vita fit in your life?
After unboxing my Vita I set it down next to all my stuff, of which I have plenty or maybe too much: a Kindle Touch, an iPhone, an iPad, and a 3DS. Seth Schiesel of the New York Times refers to this newfangled predicament as “pocket bulge,” which is a gross way of saying it, but I’ll admit he gets the point across.
The most common question I’m asked is why I have a Kindle and an iPad. I have a long-winded, cranky old-man explanation, but the short of it is LCD screens are bad for you.
When you’re reading a Kindle or a bound book under soft light, you might find yourself happily dozing off. When you read on iBooks, you find yourself tiring of the book but not actually getting tired. So forty minutes after putting the book away you’re watching Wrestlemania 1986 highlights at 3:30 a.m. When this happens to me I am usually pretty pissed about it.
This happens because LCD exposure is a melatonin inhibitor. Melatonin, among other things, controls your circadian rhythms, which establish the 24-hour human cycle.
I have a point: The Vita’s OLED screen is much less harsh than the LCDs we’ve been shoving in our faces since the advent of iOS. This is a pleasant gift from Sony, especially to the vast world of night-time gamers. Though you should still play under soft light, lest you terrorize your brain any more than need be.
How are the games?
The games are good, thank god. “Uncharted” is awesome as expected. It delivers the cinematic experience Sony benchmarked with the Uncharted and God of War series graciously into a five-inch screen. “Lumines” is also great, but a lot weirder than I remember it being on PSP.
I predictably enjoyed the games I could pick up and get lost in like “Super Stardust Delta,” “Hot Shots Golf” and “Little Deviants.”
I sort of ignored the games like “Hustle Kings,” and “Wipeout 2048,” mostly because they had that extra learning curve or I might just be too old to understand them.
And So On
When you pick up a system at launch, a lot of the excitement stems from your future expectations. What do I expect from the Vita? A really great God of War game where the finishing moves are touch-centered, to start. I’m not asking for a miracle but I’d appreciate a half-decent Final Fantasy game. A new Metal Gear title would be rather welcome, as would a Dungeon Siege. Would also love to see games like “Flower” and “Journey” and “Trine” come to the Vita—titles where the pick-up-and-go nature were dulled by the PS3′s sit-down-and-stay requirement.
Where I have high expectations is “Tetris,” noticeably absent from the PlayStation Store’s Minis. With the touch controls and standard sticks, Vita has the opportunity to innovate on “Tetris” and probably make the greatest “Tetris” ever made. I will pay upwards of $19.99 for a great “Tetris.” Just sayin’.
Vita’s veritable blue ocean is the portable wide-screen gaming experience with two-analog sticks and powerhouse processing.
The red-ocean stuff is really red, but who cares? If they didn’t put a front-facing camera on it everyone would be like, “these dicks were too cheap to put a front-facing camera on this thing.” The Vita has a front-facing camera. Now what?
Here’s what: The Vita is a great gaming console that, yeah also plays Netflix and has a Maps app on it. As long as Sony and publishers focus on the former, there will be a lot of happy gamers out there.