Some time ago I held a poll asking GBATemp users which console they would like to see in the next “But Foxi, Why Would I Want A…” issue and to my great surprise, Sony’s latest handheld wonder, the PSVita, took the poll by stride. This is a rather heartwarming result considering how lukewarm the PSVita’s reception is as of today. A shame, because the platform has a lot to offer, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start from the beginning, which goes back further than one would think. The initial reports about Sony's next generation handheld date back to 2009 when Eurogamer posted an article stating that Sony’s working on a brand-new gaming portable that will utilize the PowerVR SGX543MP4+ and offer graphical prowess comparable to the original Xbox. Ever since that report surfaced various outlets published new and exciting information from insider sources confirming that the device is indeed in development. Before long, photos of the mythical device began circulating the web, showing a PSP Go-like, slider-based device with dual analog sticks and dual cameras, supposedly the devkit for the upcoming system. The rumour mill kept turning for another year before at long last the system was unveiled during the PlayStation Meeting 2011. The world could finally gaze upon what was yet to come, the Next Generation Portable, the system that would later become what today we know as the PSVita… and it was glorious. The Hardware PSVita PCH-1000 in all its glory The PSVita currently comes in three flavours - the 1000, 2000 and TV models. The latest revision, the PSVita-2000 comes in a variety of colours, from the standard black through white, pink, yellow, cyan and graphite, there's also a couple of limited editions for those who don't mind spending extra for owning a unique system. The face of the device sports most of the control inputs, including the trademark shape buttons, the PlayStation, Start and Select buttons, two analog sticks, the capacitive touchscreen and the front-facing camera. In addition to those, the system also has the left and right shoulder buttons as well as a rear camera and the rear touchpad. Underneath the surface, the PSVita features Sony's SIXAXIS motion sensors. The handheld is strongly reminiscent of the original PSP, it's pretty sizable and weighs quite a bit for a portable, but feels very solid as a result - you know it's a fine piece of hardware the moment you pick it up. In addition to the handheld versions of the PSVita, Sony also released the PSVita TV - a stationary microconsole compatible with Dualshock 3 and 4 controllers - this version is however incompatible with software using the touchpad, touchscreen or the cameras at present. Specs-wise the PSVita has nothing to be ashamed of - thanks to its quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and PowerVR GPU, large amounts of RAM and dedicated VRAM it stands the test of time and continues to deliver unparalleled visuals in gaming and beyond, especially on the gorgeous OLED display of the original model. With enough horsepower to blow both the competition and most smartphones on the market right out of the water, the PSVita has all the makings of a terrific gaming device for gamers on-the-go. More than just for Gaming Aside from video games, the PSVita also sports a lot of functionality not normally associated with handheld consoles. The system comes with a full-blown web browser with video support and an HTML5 score high enough to put it ahead of even last generation home consoles, the Wii, the PS3 and the Xbox 360 which technically should have a horsepower advantage over the PSVita, and a set of multimedia applications including a music player, a video player and a photo browser. In addition to the built-in functionality, the PlayStation Store also offers a variety of applications for the PSVita, including Google Maps (especially useful for GPS-equipped PSVitas), Facebook, LiveTweet, Skype, Flickr and a number of video streaming apps including YouTube, Netflix*, Hulu Plus*, Crunchroll* and more. Needless to say, the PSVita does more than meets the eye, not to mention that it can do a couple of things at a time thanks to its multitasking capabilities. If you happen to be stumped in a video game, there's nothing holding you back from browsing the web in search of guides or even watching an online walkthrough on YouTube. Peek-a-Boo! The PSVita also sports two 0.3MP cameras capable of capturing both photos and video footage which can additionally be Geotagged with location data. The resolution isn't much and the quality of footage leaves a lot to be desired, but it's a welcome addition to the function set nevertheless. Those cameras can also be used in gameplay, perhaps most notably in Tearaway. *Subject to region availability A Social Handheld for the Social Gamer Near™... Far... Wherever you are... Some gamers like to keep their gaming private, others love to share their exploits with their family and friends - the PSVita meets both half-way. The system has built-in optional social functionality that allows you to share information regarding your latest games and trophies through the notification system as well as home screens of individual games, hold group video and voice chats via the Party app, send messages, sound clips, photos and screen shots of your favourite gaming moments directly to your PSN friends. This can of course be further expanded by installing additional applications, allowing you to share via Facebook or Twitter. All this is well-integrated into the OS, comfortable and simple to use - in fact, most of the sharing is completely automatic. New to PlayStation Network and don't really have any friends to share with? Not a problem - start up Near, a special service for gamers on-the-go that allows you to find new friends and discover game content one step at a time - before you know it, you'll have a list of PSVita owners that happen to live nearby that you could invite to your friends list and game with. Don't feel like making rounds around the block? Not a problem either - many multiplayer games contain leaderboards and practically all display PSN ID's, allowing you to invite fellow gamers straight away, others include matchmaking functionality so that you can log straight into the fray. Long story short, if you feel like sharing your gaming exploits and more with other users, the PSVita gives you ample opportunities to do so in ways that don't feel hammered in. Don't feel like participating? Don't - no one's forcing you - you can manage your sharing options from within the system's privacy settings and adjust everything to your personal needs. "But Foxi, the PSVita has no Gaemz" One of the stereotypes you often hear about Sony's handheld wonder is that it supposedly has no games to offer - this may have been a valid complaint back when it was released, but right now the library is quite sizable with plenty of quality content to choose from. I've hand-picked some of my favourite games on the platform as examples. Soul Sacrifice The story of Soul Sacrifice takes place in a world torn by war between monsters and the sorcerers keeping them at bay through their power of sacrifice. You are one of the many innocent prisoners of Magusar, the mad sorcerer who lost his mind in an effort to remain immortal through sacrificing and devouring the souls of his victims. You are in luck though, all thanks to Librom, Magusar's magically animated journal that allows you to re-live Magusar's memories through the eyes of one of his dear friends, an inexperienced adept of the order. With Librom's help you can gradually observe Magusar's decent into madness and learn the art of sorcery that will allow you to challenge the madman... as soon as you dare to face him. You decide whether the souls of your foes are to be sacrificed or saved, you decide the outcome of the story and what kind of a sorcerer you'll become. The game features addictive gameplay, gothic aesthetics and a fantastic well-voiced story that's well-worth the effort of completing all of the game's missions. Recently Soul Sacrifice was released in an enhanced version called Soul Sacrifice Delta featuring additional content and improved gameplay mechanics. Uncharted: Golden Abyss Uncharted: Golden Abyss puts you in the shoes of Nathan Drake, the famous treasure hunter with an uncanny ability to get himself into all sorts of trouble. Joined by Victor "Sully" Sullivan, Marisa Chase and Jason Dante, you'll have to traverse the Central American jungle in search of ancient artifacts. Naturally, you almost immediately face some "issues" as you follow the trail of Spanish conquistadors, namely you run into Robert Guerro, a general of the local army of guerilla fighters, who despite your archeological exploits doesn't seem to be pleased with your presence in the area. If you wish to find the titular Golden Abyss, you'll have to make good use of both your brains and brawn in this fast-paced action-adventure title - a must-have for all Uncharted fans. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed If you're a fan of kart racing games, look no further - All-Stars Racing: Transformed is there to give you our karting fix. The PSVita offers a fantastic port of the game which unlike the underwhelming 3DS release is in no way inferior to the home console version of the game. With a cast of characters from Sega's most beloved franchises such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Crazy Taxi, Space Channel, Super Monkey Ball and more, a variety of fun power-ups and exciting gameplay that takes you racing on land, water and in the air, you're bent to have a lot of fun with this one. Dragon's Crown Fans of brawlers rarely get to enjoy quality releases these days, but Dragon's Crown sets the bar quite high and will definitely be much to the liking of fans of arcade-style beat-em-up's. Set in the land of Hydeland, Dragon's Crown takes you and your friends on an adventure across beautifully hand-drawn dungeons, fighting your way through countless hordes of enemies before you can finally face the mythical dragon... if the legend speaks the truth, that is. Pick one of the six playable characters, assemble a team of four fighters, controlled by your online friends or A.I, save the kingdom, impress the damsel and score mountains of gold - what's not to like? KillZone: Mercenary Wherever there's war, there's also warmongers like Anders Benoit of the Phantom TalonCorp., and where there are warmongers there's also mercenaries, soldiers of fortune like you - Arran Danner. This shooter puts you smack dab in the middle of a conflict between the ISA and the Helghast, between commander Alex Grey and Colonel Victor Kratek, over the planet of Vekta. Armed to the teeth with the latest in weapons, armour and drones, you'll have to choose where your loyalties lie as you blast your way through enemy lines... whoever that enemy you might choose to be. In addition to the addictive story mode the game also offers a great multiplayer mode that separates the grain from the chaff and puts your skills to the test. KillZone: Mercenary is a fantastic FPS that feels right at home on PSVita's dual analog setup - it's great fun, it looks stunning and it's well-worth your time. Of course the system has plenty of other titles to choose from - WipeOut 2048, Dynasty Warriors NEXT, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends, Gravity Daze, Borderlands 2, Persona 4 Golden, Tearaway, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time or Metal Gear Solid HD Collection are just some of the many games currently available for the PSVita. Aside from native PSVita software, the console is also compatible with PSP, PSOne and PSMobile software, all available through the PlayStation Store. The system has a "bad rep" for being a dumping ground for weeaboo games and Indies, but in truth there's no shortage of other content on the platform - rest assured. It's also worth to note that the PSVita is entirely region free. If a game you'd like to buy is unavailable in your region, nothing stands in the way of importing it - the world is your oyster. Row, Row, Row your Boat, Gently Down the Stream! One of the many strong points of the PSVita are its streaming capabilities. The system is capable to stream select games from the PS3's library as well as the great majority of PS4 games, allowing you to take your gaming outside of the living room, and if bandwidth allows it, also anywhere you go. In addition, the currently tested PlayStation Now service will allow users to stream PSOne, PS2 and PS3 games from Sony's servers, nullifying the need of owning a PS3 at home. The streaming features are quite a big selling point as they further expand the PSVita's library of available games and are especially useful if you also own other PlayStation systems and wish to take your favourite games from the TV to the palms of your hands. An "Expensive" System for the Cheap-ass Gamer Instant Game Collection instantly makes every month exciting Despite being a hefty initial investment, the PSVita is actually a good solution for gamers who like to have lots of games but don't want to spend too much on them. The PSVita, alongside the PS4 and the PS3, is covered by the PlayStation Plus subscription service. What this means is that as a subscriber, you'll get access to two new PSVita games through Instant Game Collection for as little as $4.16 a month (if you grab the $49.99 yearly subscription) which you'll be able to play for as long as your subscription lasts. On top of that, you'll also gain access to PlayStation Store discounts as well as exclusive content such as game betas, avatars and more. It that isn't enough, Plus also covers you in terms of backing up your data, allowing you to upload your save game files to the Cloud for safe keeping. PlayStation Plus is well-worth the asking price and is a service I can recommend to every PlayStation owner, especially if you own more than one console from the PlayStation family. Of course Instant Game Collection is not all that's out there for the cheapskate gamer - the PSVita also has a lot of free to play titles including games like Destiny of Spirits, No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either!, Jetpack Joyride, Frobisher Says!, Treasures of Montezuma: Blitz and more. Naturally not everyone is a fan of the F2P model, but nevertheless, it's always nice to have some free games to try out in-between of bigger releases. Hacking and Homebrew Wololo's VHBL - your go-to download for all your homebrew-loading needs As of today, the PSVita Mode of the console remains unhacked. That being said, PSP Mode has been blown open through numerous exploits, some allowing kernel access, some restricted to usermode. With those exploits in place, there's a number of ways to launch your favourite PSP homebrew, including Wololo's own Vita Half-Byte Loader as well as Total_Noob's TN-V and PRO-Team's ARK eCFW's which in addition to homebrew can also launch PSP backups. PSVita's PSP Mode gives a little bit more juice to the games and applications than the original PSP, however using the exploits means no updates, and that's quite a trade-off if you consider all the services the PSVita offers to up-to-date users. "But Foxi, if it's so great, why is it doing so poorly?" There's a number of factors contributing to the PSVita's poor sales results. The initial price point of $299 was quite hefty for a handheld console, not to mention that you still had to pick up a memory card for the system. Speaking of memory cards, these too were and continue to be pretty expensive, which leaves a bad taste in the mouths of potential adopters. On top of all that, the system still has to deal with the myth of not having any worth-while content, and that doesn't do the PSVita any favours. Of course none of those complaints are valid at this point in time - the system has been discounted to $199 since its launch and these days you can easily find bundles containing the system, a game and a memory card for $250, not to mention that you can always pick up a refurbished system for the fraction of a new console's price. As of today, there's nothing holding you back from buying a PSVita at an affordable price other than prejudice that has long since lost its relevance. "Alright, I'm sold. What do I need with a PSVita?" Honestly? Not much. PSVita game bundles come with everything you'll need, including a power adapter, a game and a memory card. If you do choose to buy just the system, all you need is a memory card and you're set, and here we encounter a glaring problem with the system - the memory cards are incredibly expensive in comparison to SD cards of the same capacity. If 8GB isn't enough for your uses, prepare for a larger expense when buying a 32 or 64GB card. Once you have your system and a memory card, I strongly suggest spending the extra buck on a PSPlus subscription, especially if you have other PlayStation consoles - you'll build up a library of games in no-time. "But Foxi, do I *really* want one?" That depends. I won't pull wool over anyone's eyes and say that the PSVita has the same footing the 3DS does - it certainly does not, but it still has a darn lot to offer. PSVita games on their own are numerous and loads of fun, and in-between of those you can still play PSP, PSOne and PSMobile games giving you with plenty of content to choose from. The system has a lot of horsepower and it shows - the games look dazzling in comparison to your average mobile or 3DS game, there's just no contest. Great hardware under the hood is coupled with a great hardware over it - thanks to the twin analog stick setup we all know and love the PSVita provides a gaming experience as close to a home console one as a portable can, and that's an achievement in and out of itself. In short, the PSVita is a great portable entry in the PlayStation family, and although it doesn't get as much love as one might want, it still delivers on exactly what it promises - full-blown console gaming on-the-go. If that sounds alluring to you, perhaps you should start saving up for a PSVita of your own. What Would you Like to See Next? If you enjoyed this article, be sure to vote in the poll above - only you as a community can decide what's going to be covered in the next issue of "But Foxi, Why Would I Want A..." and I can't wait to see what you guys will vote for! I'm doing my best to expand my collection of systems, so there's a newcomer to the list - the classic Amiga line of computers that used to compete with IBM-Compatibles we know and love. Chances are that I'll *touch wood* also get my hands on a Commodore 64 soon, too! Thanks for reading the article and don't be afraid to ask "Why Would you Want A..." - as the old proverb says, "The one who asks questions doesn't lose his way". Cheers!