Vita First Impressions

My First Edition bundle arrived safely and securely yesterday thanks to Amazon (release day shipping) and FedEx. I also picked up a 16GB memory card, a screen protector, Lumines, Hot Shots Golf, Uncharted; Little Deviants was packed in with the bundle.

My very first impressions are that the hardware looks sexy; yes, it is the long awaited PSP2 (i.e. dual analog sticks), but so much more. This will be a common theme everywhere. Not only are the game cartridges small, but the memory card a tiny. They will get lost. In fact, as I was setting up my Vita, I had a moment of panic when I could not find my 16GB memory card, lost in the clutter of the kitchen counter. It is small.

I didn’t get off to a good start with my Vita. Upon start up, one of the first things you get to do after setting up your language and date/time is purchase a 3G data pass. As I was attempting to type in the various info boxes on the data pass form, I ran into multiple issues. The screen wouldn’t refresh properly, the text entry keyboard would not close, and so on and so forth. I finally gave up and turned off the system to start over.

This happened three times. On the third go, the Vita wouldn’t even turn off. What a mess! After doing some quick google searches, I saw that I may need to hold down the power button for 30 seconds. That did the trick.

I skipped the data pass section and moved on with the rest of the setup. It is not really intuitive. Because a firmware update was required, that had to be completed before I could link up with my PSN id (jcalvert for anyone keeping score at home).

Once that was done, I once again attempted to purchase a data pass. This time I was successful. Maybe the earlier failures were related to the firmware shipped with the Vita? Who really knows …

I do know that I purchased a 3GB non renewing data pass, which may have actually been a mistake. As posted in an earlier article, the First Edition bundle has a deal for a 250MB data pass and a free PSN game, 30 days after purchasing and activating a 250MB data pass. The AT&T insert included in the box mentions the free PSN game, but not a restriction on the data pass size. I’ll have to do some digging to see what I can turn up.

While I received a purchase confirmation email from AT&T, I didn’t get anything that noted that I would receive a voucher for a 250MB data pass or a free PSN game. Assuming I will receive these in 30 days, not knowing if the voucher is good for any game priced under $14.99 (or whatever) is going to limit my purchases during the next 30 days. Or at least until I figure out if I am going to get a voucher.

It’s not as if I’m going to be starved for games; four is a good start. If I need more, Target is offering a 2 for 1 special, which is something of a shocker for the mainstream Vita launch on February 22.

I’m not going to spend much time on the games; will just hit the high points for now. I didn’t have time to fire up Uncharted or Little Deviants.

Lumines is fantastic; really just what I was expecting. I only managed 1.5 hrs with it yesterday, but it was a rewarding 90 minutes. Is it worth $40? Hmmm … really depends on what you are after. I love zoning out and just grooving to the music; at least I did with the original PSP version. While it has creative use of the front touch screen (activate your avatar special) and rear panel (rapidly tap to restore your power up to 100%), I’m not sure casual fans will appreciate the upgrade from the PSP. Visually eye popping, yes, but as a system seller, Lumines has niche appeal.

Moving on to Hot Shots, I can easily see myself getting addicted. I haven’t played the series since the original PlayStation days or PSOne as it is now called. After playing one practice round of 9 holes, and managing a -3 in one of the online tournaments, I am ready for more. In the interests of full disclosure, I played a second tournament, and I was doing really well until I managed a +7 on the last hole. Ouch!

As mentioned above, I’ll post some more comments on the games later. Metacritic currently has Lumines tied with Rayman as the top rated Vita game. Uncharted and Hot Shots have also received favorable scores; Little Deviants looks to be the stinker.

I messed around a little with the Near application. The first time I fired it up, I discovered an unpopulated location. i.e. me. When I fired it up again last night, Near discovered two over Vita players, both playing Welcome Park, within a two mile radius of my house, which was pretty cool. At least in my area, other gamers are feeling the Vita love. This morning Near discovered four gamers. I’ll have to experiment some more because I’m not really sure what I can do with Near, but it is a very cool concept.

Closing comments. Don’t ask me if the Vita was worth the money. After shelling out for the Fire Edition bundle, three games, a 16GB memory card, and a 3G data pass, I have spent a ton of cash on Sony’s newest portable console. I’m happy with the purchase; honeymoon period if you will. Only time will tell if I am going to get gaming value for my investment.


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