Gaming resuscitation

There is a certain irony that I’m returning to complete this after it lying on a virtual shelf gathering eDust…

A few About 10 months ago I bought a second-hand Vita. I’d always like the look of the machine but I’d also always thought my next gaming purchase would be a Nintendo 3DS of some sort. This latter assumption was based on my original brick DS being held together by sellotape, the result of a moment of laziness, a subsequent fall and a broken hinge. I had limited funds and no real way I could justifiably buy any machine of any format. A 2nd or 3rd hand DS Lite if the DS failed was as far as it was going to go. I have a small DS backlog so I could justify a replacement so long as I could find one cheap enough.

A token collection promotion (on a grocery product that was going to be purchased anyway) led to a free piece of electronics that was never going to be used. Short story: its sale in an online auction eventually paid for a WiFi-Only PlayStation Vita, it was just a case of waiting for the price to drop a little more. Patience and playing the long game is key in so many things in life I find.

I’d seen a trend in the quality of PS Plus games and Cross-Buy offers and I knew I wasn’t playing enough to buy retail games. PS Plus is the cost of one game at release. It was true at the scheme’s launch, it remains so, it bore into my thrifty soul and I finally succumbed. The timing coincided with the funds from the sale and I started “claiming” Vita titles being offered in preparation should the Vita purchase become a reality.

I was still keeping an eye on 3DS prices but despite loving the original DS there was (and still isn’t) enough being released of interest to my tastes. Certainly nothing that I couldn’t live without or count on two hands. How could I justify the cost of a 3DS (even if it would be paid for by grocery consumption, not regular income) to basically play my backlog? The answer became increasingly clear that I couldn’t.

Sony’s seasonal freebie promotions for PS Minis and online developer code giveaways had meant over the years I had built up a small catalogue of indie games I could play on a PlayStation Portable. A cheap PSP was looking increasingly appealing, though not necessarily justifiable.

The PSP wasn’t exactly catered for in PS+. By the time I joined the Minis had been phased out and the Instant Game Collection was the relatively “new kid on the block”. The only PSP title included from when I joined up to the time of finishing this article totals ONE. The system wasn’t screaming to be bought, even on the cheap given my backlog.

Sony’s memory cards are famously pricey but their various themed bundles with collections of games give you a sizable collection with little effort. That you need a memory card for the Vita anyway means they’re a no brainer and can often be found for much less than RRP with little effort. The games I’ve got this way alone are numerous and of notable quality.

But lets cut to the chase, you already know I bought a Vita and that I patiently assembled a collection via various sources.

The Vita is now a big proportion of both my gaming time and virtually the only platform I get to play titles that have been released this year. I’m also playing more, for the boringly predictable reason that it’s portable.

My financial situation and me being a tight git (it’s not because I’m Scottish, enough with the stereotypes) combine to mean no new games for me unless the price is astonishing, I really want a particular game AND/OR it’s a niche title that may be hard to find at a later date. That I have a sizeable backlog and a stubborn streak means PS+ is pretty much my only source of games. It certainly helps that I can’t afford to move to the Next Gen, there’s nothing on them I am gagging to have and less games are being released for PS3.

The current PS+ policy of 2 games (at least, Cross-Buy can mean more) per system per month, and many of them being recent indie titles (particularly on Vita), has resulted in me actually playing some games at the same time as other people!

Most of my newest physical games are over a year old. Most are older than that! Having a physical copy is my preferred way of getting games yet I’m virtually digital-only currently when it comes to adding to those I have access to. It’s not that I don’t insert blu-rays into my PS3 it’s just that I’ve been striving to not make the situation worse.

There are seemingly almost only 3 readily-held opinions held about the PlayStation Vita (based simply and unscientifically on my perception).

1) It’s dead. Sony aren’t making big budget titles for it and neither are other publishers.

2) It’s alive and kicking. Niche, Japanese and Indie games are appearing all the time.

3) It’s the only way to play PS4 when the kids or the Other Half are hogging the big screen.

I’m probably a 2). I’ve always been into quirky, more unusual titles with a few more regular games for good measure. It’s a portable machine and I don’t expect a big budget on a small screen. There’s little point when there’s little screen estate to show off in and when its played is usually not suitable circumstances for a deep game or one that requires a lengthy session to do it justice.

I digress again though. The Vita has allowed me to play more often, stay relatively current and still feel connected with fellow gamers while I attempt to catch up. I wasn’t on the verge of giving up gaming. It was never likely to happen. That one small piece of electronics would energise me and stop me feeling increasingly alienated though is a wonderful thing.


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