No, I haven’t turned full Nintendo. Not yet, anyway. Only on the full moon do I sprout a 3DS and go on a mad Mario Kart spree. Yet that will soon be changing when the Nintendo Switch releases on March 3rd. Why? Well, read on and I’ll tell you.
The PS Vita, for me, has been a massive disappointment. Sony announced it with all the fanfare it could spare, and promised us a full-on console gaming experience on the go. To be fair we did get a few big games: Uncharted, Need for Speed, Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, and even Sly Cooper, to name a few. Actually, I think I just named 90% of the big games that ever released for the system. I know, I know, there’s a ton of indie games, but that’s kind of my point: I’m not that big on indie games. It’s not that I despise them by any means – some are rather good – but as I bought the Vita with the expectation of great-first party support and some big blockbusters, I can’t say I’m all that thrilled when new games are added to the Vita’s library.
It’s been almost five years since the Vita released and for approximately half of its life Sony hasn’t given a toss about it. The Vita was left to die so the PS4 could live, basically. I can understand that sacrifice from a business perspective but it doesn’t mean I like it. The lack of first-party support was truly shameful, as was the pure disgusting price-gouging with the propriety memory cards – but that’s a topic that’s been done to death, so I’ll refrain from pointing any of my (middle) fingers at Sony on this occasion.
These days, my PS Vita is lucky to even get turned on once a week. Maybe I’ll get a review code come through and that forces me to play. Maybe I just want to play a bit of Spyro when I’m in the bath. Maybe I’ll use it for a bit of remote play if I can’t be bothered booting my laptop up to use the superior remote play on that. I don’t use the thing half as much now as I did in the first 12 months of its life.
For enthusiasts of handheld gaming, the PS Vita was supposed to be the dream. Now? It’s only real audience is those who’re big fans of endless ‘metroidvania’ 2D games and weeabo stuff that I’ve absolutely no interest in. Crudely put, maybe, but it’s unfortunately true. Maybe I’m coming across as a little bitter? In truth, I really am bitter and I have been for years. Every E3, Gamescom, and PSX, I’ve stayed up to the ungodly hours of the morning (most of Sony’s conferences are horribly timed for us Europeans) in the hope that Sony would pull out some surprise announcements for the Vita. And with each passing year I was dealt another disappointing blow. Call me naive, but I still held out hope even when most internet commentators had already declared the Vita snuffed. Well, that disappointment ends this year, but not by the grace of Sony.
Enter the Nintendo Switch. For those of you who are frighteningly out of touch with gaming in general, the Switch is Nintendo’s latest games console. It’s a hybrid console, actually, as you’ll be able to play it on your big TV when it’s docked, but you’ll also be able to pull it from its dock and take it anywhere you please. The best part? There aren’t any sacrifices to the portable mode. The screen will have a lower resolution (which is still higher than the PS Vita’s) and you might lose a little bit of detail in the portable mode, but you’ll still be playing your big AAA games on a rather fetching bit of kit.
As an owner of a PS4, Xbox One, and a decent(ish) laptop, I know the limits of the Switch. For me it won’t be another console to play on the TV. What’d be the point? Third-party support (so far) seems minimal, and compared to the PS4/Xbox One, I just don’t think I can take that step backwards in terms of graphical fidelity and online stability. But as a handheld? Boy, it’s pretty hard to compete. Sure you could go and get a fancy tablet computer and play games on that, but the Switch is a dedicated gaming device that can be used just about anywhere.
There’s a lot to be excited about too. Full games – not gimped ports or shoddy spin-offs – that you can take anywhere in the house, on the train, on a plane? Count me in. A portable console that can do multiplayer without the need for extra controllers? OK, I can’t really see many situations where I’d actually use this consistently, but it’s nice to have the option rather than not. Then there’s the biggie: Games. Most of the misguided Sony supporters (really, supporting a corporation?) will rattle off a list of upcoming games and declare the system far from dead. Maybe they’ll declare it to be the greatest “indie machine” available, or a great way to play PS1 and PSP games. To them I say: “Get in the bin, mate.” I didn’t buy an “indie machine” or a £250 PS1/PSP; I was sold a console that Sony said would be akin to a home console experience in my hands. That’d be true if this was 1995, but it’s not.
As I said before, I can see the shrewd business decisions behind ditching the Vita when it failed to make its way into every pair of sweaty gamer hands, but it’s still piss-poor. Let’s not pretend otherwise here. Sony actually announced it would not be making any more games for the system before any major third-party publisher stated as such. The firm basically lit a signal fire that told all the big publishers: “This ship is sinking, leg it!” While at the same time offering a safe refuge for them on the PS4.
Nintendo on the other hand has an almost perfect track record when it comes to supporting its consoles. Granted the Wii U suffered a little due to some questionable decisions by Nintendo, yet here it is at the end of its short life with a major AAA first-party game waiting in the wings. That’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, just in case you were wondering. A commendable effort by all accounts. Even if the third-party publishers shun the Switch in favour of the PS4/Xbox One/PC – something that’s not totally unfathomable – you can bet your left foot that Nintendo will keep on pumping out games for as long as the Switch is relevant, and that’s a damn sight more than we can say about Sony.
In short: The best portable games will go to the best portable console, and in this case that’s going to be the Nintendo Switch. When my local lake thaws after this brutally harsh winter, you’ll find my Vita at the bottom of it with a note saying: Do not resuscitate.
So, PS Vita owners, what do you think? Is the PS Vita dead in the water now? Will you be throwing yours in the river to make room for the Switch? Or do you think I’m an absolute loon that needs to get invested in weeabo games? I never will, but you can leave your suggestions down in the comments section below so I know what to avoid in future. Ta.