Sony originally launched its PlayStation Vita handheld in 2011 in Japan and 2012 elsewhere. The powerful device was meant to be the successor to Sony's PlayStation Portable, but it struggled to find an audience. A variety of issues kept the PlayStation Vita from reaching its full potential, and while Sony stopped releasing new games for it quite some time ago, it seems the device will soon be completely dead.
Unconfirmed reports point to Sony shutting down legacy PlayStation Stores for the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita. If the reports are to be believed, the PS Vita PlayStation Store shutdown will take place this coming August, giving fans roughly five months to purchase and download any of the games that they still want to play. Exact details on how this will work have not been revealed, but it's quite possible that PS Vita owners will lose the ability to re-download their purchased games, so it has sent the community into a bit of a panic.
While the PlayStation Vita's demise seems to be right around the corner, it's a reminder of the handheld's wasted potential. The PS Vita certainly had its issues at launch - like expensive memory cards and a lack of must-play titles - but it was still an exception device for a number of reasons. In fact, the PS Vita may very well be one of the most underrated video game handheld devices ever made.
The PlayStation Vita is a powerful machine, capable of running games with graphics that tend to fall somewhere between PS3 and PS4. In fact, many PS Vita games were released as cross-platform titles, eventually releasing on the PlayStation 4 or vice versa. The handheld's UI had a bit of a learning curve, but otherwise it served its purpose as a powerful gaming handheld that could run visually-intensive games, and at one time, was easily the most powerful handheld console on the market.
The PS Vita hardware may be most notable for its graphical capabilities, but its design in general deserves some recognition. A clear upgrade from the PSP, the PS Vita includes two control sticks to vastly improve controls in its various games. It also uses a touchscreen for some unique gameplay mechanics in certain games as well as menu navigation, and its rear touchpad is also used in clever ways as well. The device is small enough to make it easy to hold for long sessions, but not so small that it would give one hand cramps when playing like other handheld consoles.
The PlayStation Vita doesn't rely solely on its gimmicks, though. It is capable of playing completely traditional games and it can do so very well. The gimmicks are just icing on the cake, allowing the developers to get a bit more creative when it came to developing PlayStation Vita-specific titles.
Seeing the popularity of features like Xbox's achievements, Sony eventually introduced a trophy system for the PS3. Sony extended its trophy support to the PlayStation Vita, giving PlayStation fans to collect trophies on the go. Trophy support was well-received by PlayStation Vita owners, as was the handheld's other online bells and whistles that came together to make it an overall more impressive device.
One of these features was PlayStation Vita's Remote Play. After the launch of the PlayStation 4, Sony made it possible for PS Vita owners to stream games from their PS4 console to the Vita. This made it possible to play basically any PS4 game in handheld form. Essentially, this allowed the PlayStation Vita and PS4 to offer functionality similar to Nintendo's Wii U console, which greatly expanded the ways people could use their PS Vita handhelds.
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