The PlayStation Vita is a notorious failure born from weak support from those who made it so soon after its launch. Its downfall has been covered so regularly and comprehensively that it feels almost moot to mention it: everyone knows that the Vita has effectively died with Sony seemingly delaying the funeral.
There are just as many people aware that the Vita represents a huge missed opportunity on Sony’s part. It did a lot of what the Switch is now lauded for years in advance and has plenty of neat incentives to pick one up. Remote Play, for instance, which allows you to play your PS4 games on your Vita, is a feature that is often neglected: I was pretty staggered when I discovered I could play my PS4 copy of FIFA 19 in the palm of my hands without any technical issues.
However, the real crown jewel in Vita’s rusted and flimsy crown is Cross-Buy. For all the smart moves Sony have made this generation, it’s this pro-consumer innovation which is the most overlooked and arguably the biggest selling point it has. Other than Persona 4 Golden, of course.
Having never owned a Vita in the past, I was curious to see what the fuss — or lack thereof — was about. Seeing as how Sony quietly discontinued production of the handheld in the West, I couldn’t find a new one anywhere and instead jumped on eBay. With a little bit of searching and patient bidding, I was able to pick up a PCH-1003 model with Uncharted: The Golden Abyss, Killzone: Mercenary, F1 2011, and an 8 GB memory card for £75.
First impressions of the handheld were admittedly mixed: I hated the interface, it a little too dated for my PS4-adoring ways. The Vita was also bundled with a tonne of apps that are like sad eulogies for its failed ambition, such as Near, that I couldn’t figure out how to remove or at least organise in ways that weren’t giant circles on my home screen. After plenty of fiddling, I eventually discovered workarounds and found myself with the Vita still in my hands hours after I first picked it up.
The big reason for my new-found obsession? Going into my PlayStation Store purchases and discovering 1) Jesus, have I spent a lot of money over the years and 2) that I already had all the games I could ever need for the Vita thanks to Cross-Buy.
In the simplest terms, Cross-Buy gives you a license to use a game you’ve bought across multiple platforms under the Sony umbrella. This means that if you buy a game on PlayStation 4, you will be able to also download it to your Vita and vice versa, effectively giving you extra versions of the game at no extra cost. It doesn’t apply to all games (in fact, it doesn’t apply to that many recent games at all), but there’s still a huge wedge of what are essentially free games for you to start downloading.
Right off the bat, I downloaded Rogue Legacy, Hotline Miami 2, Guacamelee!, SteamWorld Dig, Super Meat Boy, Darkest Dungeon, and Counterspy before my memory card was full to the brim; Persona 4 Golden is a beefy game indeed. I had somehow even acquired a digital copy of the PSP version of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, which I wasted no time in promptly downloading and then ruining my nostalgic memories of. To my surprise, I then discovered that a lot of old PSP games could be downloaded for the Vita — a third run of Peace Walker is in order.
It didn’t hurt my collection that I instinctively add every new PlayStation Plus game to my library regardless of platform. I was staggered by the amount of games I had waiting for me since being a subscriber since the PS4’s debut, so much that it actually takes a few minutes for me to scroll through it all. There’s stuff there that I will never download (looking at you, Escape Plan), but it’s still nice to know that I may never need to actually buy another Vita game.
There’s also good reason to invest in a Vita if you’re a trophy hunter. A lot of Cross-Buy games will give you separate trophy lists for games, meaning that you can potentially farm the same easiest Platinum trophies. I am ashamed to admit that I downloaded My Name Is Mayo for my Vita to do just that before I came to my senses and realised that I had just tapped X 5000 times and that my life was finite.
It’s worth mentioning that the Vita isn’t without its drawbacks. I find the touchpad on the back to be atrocious for replicating R2, L2, L3, and R3 and just generally a little finicky. The sound on my model is also a little weak, though I expect it’s because logic dictates that you should be using headphones. For featuring some underrated gems and a lot of pro-consumer practices, though, the Vita is the best purchase I’ve made in a long time.
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