For the first time in what feels like a month, I was able to sit down and play a game for the sheer enjoyment of it last night. I didn’t feel like playing a console, so I chose between my two handhelds. Ultimately, Fire Emblem: Awakening for the 3DS was what won. But this made me realize that I really do prefer my 3DS to my PS Vita. Here are the reasons why.
To begin with, the 3DS is genuinely more accessible than the Vita for my fine motor limitations. The system can be placed on a table and, thanks to the hinged lid, I can still enjoy the full experience of the gameplay just as if I were holding it in my hands. By contrast, when setting the Vita down, if a player wants a correct perspective on it, they have to stare directly down at it. Not only is this uncomfortable, it also doesn’t address the problem of not having access to the Vita’s back panel. I know there are stands that you can get for the Vita that allow you to set it up and play it at an easier angle, but even there the convenience of the 3DS’s setup will always put it ahead of the Vita. This is because the 3DS can be set up on any table without the hassle of trying to find a stand and because it is easy to handle just on its own.
But beyond the screen issue, the 3DS is a more comfortable gaming experience. This is because I find the PlayStation Vita to be too oblong and, due to some problems with my wrists, it can be hard to grip the Vita in such a way to effectively use the buttons for extended periods of time. The bottom line is, handheld gaming is gaming that you are supposed to be able to take anywhere and enjoy. Therefore, it has to be a comfortable experience, and for my money the 3DS is just more comfortable than the PS Vita.
This is not to say that the PS Vita is a bad system. It is better in almost every technical field than the 3DS—graphics, sound, user interface, etc. One thing that I particularly enjoy about the Vita is the cross play functionality. It is nice to have console quality games on the go. But this brings me to the second reason why I prefer the 3DS.
The 3DS has a bigger library of better games. I’m always confused when Sony talks about having “console quality games on the go.” It’s almost as if they are only referring to technical specifications. But being a console quality game doesn’t mean just having good graphics and sound. “Console quality games” also implies a depth of immersion that most of Sony’s Vita titles seem to lack. I’m a big Uncharted fan, but I was not able to lose myself in Golden Abyss. It felt exactly like what it was—a handheld version of Uncharted. And yes, even though it looked and sounded like the console games that I love, it didn’t feel like a real Uncharted game. It didn’t pull me in like its console predecessors. As a result, I put it down after about four hours, and I haven’t returned to it since. Compare that with Fire Emblem: Awakening—which has none of the graphical or sound quality of a Vita game, and yet has a great story, challenging game play, and is completely accessible—and it perhaps becomes clearer why I prefer the Nintendo 3DS. The fact that the 3DS has better games is the more important reason for my preference, since I am a gamer first, and my preferences go further than who has the best graphics or the newest technology.
I realize that the Vita is a newer system. But I am afraid that they are going to end up like the PSP, where developers stop making AAA quality titles, and the system will die out. Don’t get me wrong—I think this is a bad thing. I love what the Vita is trying to do. However, I think that they need to focus less on flash and more on substance in their games.
Please feel free to correct me in the comments below, and if there are any games on the PS Vita that you feel like I am missing out on, let me know, as I am always looking out for good handheld games.