3DS owners – Maybe
A few months ago this wouldn’t even be an argument. Nintendo’s 3DS had an anemic launch library, and the eShop wasn’t even operational for two months. Since then, several system-sellers have released — The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, and Mario Kart 7 chief among them — and the eShop is finally offering some decent content (even if Nintendo knows fuck-all about making a digital marketplace navigable).
Many 3DS owners are very happy with their systems, and understandably so. Console-quality games such as Resident Evil: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater have just released, and there’s plenty more where that came from. Nintendo itself will be serving up Kid Icarus: Uprising, Luigi’s Mansion 2, and Paper Mario in the coming months.
Above: Pushmo is pretty rad, too.
On the other hand, the Vita is undeniably superior as far as raw hardware is concerned. It’s significantly more powerful and still provides battery life equal to Nintendo’s handheld, while also offering a plethora of control options that are each better than its 3DS counterpart. Analog slider? Have two analog sticks right out of the box, no Circle Pad Pro necessary. Resistive, stylus-dependent touchscreen? How about a multitouch capacitive OLED display, and a rear touchpad? Vita is also connected to PSN, while Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection, friend codes and all, is still the worst way to play games online on any available gaming system.
In any case, both systems are viable platforms for portable gaming fans. Both have plenty of great games right now, with plenty more to come this year. If your appetite for portable gaming isn’t satiated just by the 3DS, then the Vita is a fantastic option. Should you trade in your 3DS to do so? No, probably not.
iOS/Android gamers – No
Before the iPhone first released in 2007, mobile gaming was a joke. The only game worth a damn was Snake, and that released on Nokia phones ten years before. Fast forward to today, and free-to-play (and fun-to-play) games such as Hero Academy and Tiny Tower are all the rage, while major publishers are also releasing great mobile versions of their most popular franchises — say hello to Dead Space and Mass Effect. Even original games such as Infinity Blade can make Vita owners feel a little wanting.
Suddenly, people that previously had zero interesting in gaming can load up Angry Birds or Cut the Rope and play for 10-15 minutes at a time. However, while a few of them might end up seeking a dedicated gaming device for something deeper, many of them view gaming as a supplemental feature on their smartphone or tablet. Any tablet or smartphone worth a damn does productivity and social networking better than the Vita ever could, and if you’re used to spending $1-5 per game on a $300 device that you already own anyway, the PS Vita is a nutso proposition — you have to spend at least $250 on a Vita, another $20 for just 4GB of storage, and $30-50 per game.
I would love nothing more than for those that game exclusively on iOS or Android to pick up a Vita, or even a 3DS, and fall in love with portable gaming the way I did way back in 1991. Times have changed, though, and while I firmly believe that Vita is the superior gaming platform, it’s not the right gaming platform for those that view gaming merely as a neat function of their phone or tablet.