Is it worth buying a PS Vita in 2021?

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Peter Molyneux
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Is it worth buying a PS Vita in 2021? Sony's beloved handheld may have been a commercial flop, but it continues to garner an engaged audience nearly a decade after its original release in Japan. So what's it like to play on a PS Vita in 2021? Is there upcoming PS Vita games is it worth paying attention? And is the console model as it approaches retro status? As part of this PS Vita Guides, we'll be looking at all aspects of portable gaming in 2021 and beyond, including hardware availability, game prices, and more.



PS Vita: What's the gaming experience like in 2021?

Despite its paltry sales, PS Vita has always been a generally well-regarded piece of hardware. Unlike other console failures, it's generally accepted that Sony's second handheld was the "right device released at the wrong time." That is, its business shortcomings were largely about the transition to smartphone gaming and the limitations of its software library, rather than inherent issues with the system itself.

Considering it was originally released in December 2011 in Japan, the system doesn't look as dated as its age suggests. The OLED display on the original PS Vita 1000 model continues to dazzle to some extent, though obviously much less impressive in the era of Retina displays and 4K UHD TVs. That said, the unit is still relatively comfortable to hold, generally has a premium feel, and has one of the best d-pads Sony has ever made.


Unlike other legacy consoles like the PlayStation 3, the PS Vita also retained its original speed, which means navigating the UI and starting games is a relatively quick and effortless experience. Recent software updates have largely focused on fixing exploits, but the PS Vita can still connect to the PlayStation Network and go to PS Store, although support for these has been largely dropped by the platform holder and pre-installed apps such as Near does not work anymore.


Games

PS Vita games are generally still very enjoyable, although you have to consider the age of the hardware somewhat. Titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which were technical feats when they launched nearly a decade ago, now look dated compared to the efforts available on the Nintendo Switch. That's to be expected for such old hardware, of course.

Still, the system is still a great place to enjoy smaller scale indie titles like Rogue Legacy and Spelunky. With the unit's crisp screen and excellent controls, many of the side-scrolling experiences are even better enjoyed on the PS Vita as opposed to the PS4 - although the majority have since been ported to the more contemporary Nintendo Switch.

There are some great PS2 ports that also feel at home on the PS Vita: Persona 4 Golden, Final Fantasy X HD, and Metal Gear Solid HD Collection fit the format perfectly, with very little compromise. And exclusive titles like Freedom Wars, Tearaway, and Soul Sacrifice Delta are also worth playing on the device.


PS Store

The PS Store is still open and operational on the PS Vita – in fact, since Sony revamped its browser-based storefront ahead of the PS5's release, it's the only way to buy digital software for the system. Unfortunately, while the PS Store remains available, much of its functionality is in something of a stasis: it hasn't been properly updated for months nearly years.

This means that new software releases - and there are sometimes even some in 2021 - are no longer listed on the PS Store; you will have to find them manually using the search utility. Likewise, you will encounter many issues, such as broken images and missing logos. Most games no longer display screenshots, and navigating your game library can be a huge headache.


Downloads over Wi-Fi are quite slow, largely limited by hardware and transfer rates. Perhaps the biggest downside of all, however, is that Sony no longer delivers PS Vita games, meaning you'll have to pay full price for digital copies of much of the console's software library. Given that physical prices also go up as hardware ages, it's not the most profitable console in 2021.

User interface

Whether or not you like PS Vita's bold 'bubble' design, the UI works well in 2021 and hasn't been marred by a decade of firmware updates – unlike, say, the PS3. Navigating the console is still extremely fast, there are tons of settings and switches to tweak, and the organization is pretty decent as well.


Obviously, all the downsides of the device remain in 2021, like how saves are tied to gaming apps. You'll find that some features no longer work: Near has been disabled, YouTube has been disabled, and Twitter no longer has not been updated for at least five years. Despite this, the web browser is still pretty much usable and other apps like the calendar still work too.

It's worth pointing out that while Remote Play is available for PS4 consoles, you can't use Remote Play with a PS5, which is a frustrating but not terribly surprising downside given how old the game is. pocket computer. You'll also find that things like friends lists and messaging, while technically still functional, don't always work exactly as intended.

PS Vita: how much should you pay in 2021?


Sony technically discontinued the PS Vita in 2019, so it's unlikely you'll be able to pick up a brand new unit in 2021, although we're sure there are a few gasket systems out there. You're more likely to buy the laptop used from a reseller like GameStop, CEX, or eBay. As such, the price will largely depend on the model and its condition.

Typically, you'll probably pay between £80 and £120 in the UK and between $100 and $150 in the US, although most systems come with extra accessories and games. You will want to pay attention to whether the seller includes a PS Vita memory card, as these are exclusive and essential. You can buy a 4GB memory card for as little as £10/$10, but you'll probably want more space.

Play-Asia is still stocking new Japanese PS Vita memory cards, but these are extremely expensive, going up to around £200/$250 for the larger 64GB option, which is a big ask. We'd recommend trying to get a used 32GB memory card at a reasonable price – this should give you more than enough flexibility, with the average PS Vita game size hovering around 1GB.

Unfortunately, owning a PS Vita in 2021 can be quite expensive. Depending on what you want to buy, the physical prices of PS Vita games increase; Used copies of Persona 4 Golden can easily fetch upwards of £40/$60 – even if it's just the cartridge without a case. The fact that PS Store prices are no longer discounted means you'll have to step outside if you want to play portable.

Models

There are two types of PS Vita with minor differences: the PS Vita 1000 and PS Vita 2000. You may also see the PS Vita 2000 called PS Vita Slim, as it is slightly smaller and sleeker than its original counterpart. Overall there's very little difference between the two devices, although the PS Vita 2000 lacks the original's OLED display, which means the contrast is lower overall.

Based on price, we'd recommend going for the PS Vita 1000, although the PS Vita 2000 is also a perfectly adequate option. It's worth noting that there was also a 3G version of the PS Vita 1000, but we'd recommend skipping this one unless you find it as part of a really good deal, as it's heavier than the standard Wi-Fi model and that many network features have now been removed.

PS Vita: Are there any upcoming games?

If you're thinking of buying a PS Vita in 2021, you'll definitely check out its software catalog. That said, despite the system shutting down in 2019, new PS Vita games are still on the horizon. These are mostly developed by small independent teams, although there are occasionally new titles released in Japan as well.

Many of these titles release with very little fanfare and have to be searched on the PS Store to find them. An upcoming title includes the shoot-'em-up sequel Habroxia 2, which is currently slated for release on February 3. Companies like Play-Asia also regularly release limited-edition physical copies of niche PS Vita titles, making them a fun format for collectors.

PS Vita: Is it worth buying in 2021?

The PS Vita has, against all odds, stood the test of time well. While it never amassed a particularly large catalog of tentpole titles, it always excelled as a system for indie releases and smaller games. That remains true in 2021, where many games are better enjoyed on the handheld compared to its big brother, the PS4.

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind before buying a PS Vita in 2021: software prices are usually quite steep, whether you're buying limited editions for newer releases, used copies of games high level or even digital. downloads from the PS Store. You also have to consider memory card costs, which can get exorbitant depending on how much space you want.

The device itself, despite disabling a number of its features, remains elegant and pleasant; unlike the PS3, it also retained its ease of use and responsiveness. The story will still be mean to the PS Vita, it deserved more - but that doesn't mean you can't indulge in what it has to offer, even if you'll have to pay a bit through the nose for the privilege.

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