Other social apps that come pre-installed include Party – a service that facilitates voice and text chat with friends – as well as Group Messaging, which lets players communicate with groups of people and potentially organize play sessions.
One of the most curious initial apps is Remote Play, which allows users to wirelessly connect with and access content residing on a PlayStation 3. It’s simple to set up – just enter a code on your Vita – but its utility seems limited, at least for the time being. I was only able to get one game residing on my PlayStation 3 to work; a downloaded copy of Final Fantasy VIII. Still, it’s a novel way to go from playing on your couch to playing in your bed. You can even connect to your PlayStation 3 when travelling, assuming you left the console switched on and can find a hotspot (or splurged for the Vita 3G edition, which sells for $50 more). Hopefully Sony will increase content support.
Other onboard apps include music and video players, a simple web browser, and a basic navigation app powered by Google Maps. More apps are slated to be available at or shortly after launch, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Skype, and Netflix.
Clearly, I’m besotted. A few quibbles aside (the proprietary memory card and weak battery are particularly irksome), the Vita is pretty much the handheld game platform this hardcore gamer has always wanted.
But I’m also pretty sure that I’m a member of a dying breed: Those willing to pay for and lug around a high-end device the primary purpose of which is gaming. It seems to me that in a world in which everyone has a smartphone and/or tablet and can buy decent mobile games for a couple of loonies, the number of discerning game lovers willing to endure the cost of a portable game experience of a higher caliber is dwindling.
I want to be wrong. I hope the Vita beats the odds and goes on to live a long, fruitful life, and that together we can make many happy memories solving puzzles and perforating Nazis.
But I’m a realist. I’m going to make the most of each day I have and each game I play with my Vita, but prepare myself for the time when it comes to an end.