The new console wars have only just begun, but Nintendo and Sony have had new portable systems available for over a year. The Playstation Vita and Nintendo 3DS are both incredibly fun devices that offer different kinds of games and different input methods. Both systems are excellent, but each provide different experiences depending on what kinds of games you enjoy.
The Vita is the better system in terms of power. It features both better processing speed and a better screen. The Vita’s 5-inch OLED screen is a marvel to look at. The 3DS’ LCD screen also looks good, but not nearly as good as the Vita’s screen. The Vita also has slightly better battery life, though both have terrible battery life for being portable systems. The one area the 3DS beats the Vita is storage. The 3DS uses standard SD cards, which are incredibly cheap compared to the Vita’s proprietary memory cards.
Both systems have online stores and online play, though the Vita operates with the Playstation Network, while the 3DS seems to do its own thing with the eShop. Recently, Nintendo unified the Wii U store’s currency with the 3DS eShop’s currency so that they can be used by one account instead of operating separately, but that’s the closest thing Nintendo has to a robust online network. With the Playstation Network, the user only needs one account to buy things from the PS3, PS4, Vita, or PSP. Their paid service, Playstation Plus, offers complimentary games each month for users, as well as discounts for other games. Both systems are able to play games online for free.
The Vita is more useful to those who own a PS3 or PS4 than a 3DS is to somebody who owns a Wii U. The 3DS has little, if any, functionality with the Wii U. The Vita, on the other hand, can be used for remote play with the PS3 and PS4. This makes it much like the Wii U’s touchpad. I don’t have a PS4, but I have tried remote play with my PS3. I hear they vastly improved it with the PS4, which is a good thing, since the PS3’s remote play feature was next to unusable.
As I said earlier, each system has a different set of games and control mechanisms that lend itself better to different kinds of games. The Vita has two analogue sticks and a touch screen. When I heard about this when it was announced, I thought that there would be lots of shooters. However, there have been very few since Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified bombed. Much like the PSP, the Vita is very well suited to JRPGS (Japanese Role Playing Games). One of the first games I got for Vita was a JRPG called Persona 4 Golden. It was originally released in 2008 for the Playstation 2 and has spawned an animated series, a fighting game spin-off, and a terrible looking dancing game spin-off. In one playthrough, I have put more than 60 hours into this game and plan on playing it at least twice more. There are many other great games for the Vita, such as Muramasa Rebirth, Gravity Rush, Dragon’s Crown, as well as many ports of indie games, like Terraria, VVVVVV, and Hotline Miami. It is also compatible with digital PSP games, which includes a wide catalog of many great games. It is also compatible with many Playstation 1 games available on the Playstation Network, meaning the Vita is perfect for anybody like me who still needs to beat Final Fantasy VII.
The 3DS has a wider variety of games, though most of them are made by Nintendo. It features old Nintendo 64 remakes of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64, as well as many staple series, such as Mario Kart 7, Pokemon X/Y, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Fire Emblem Awakening, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, as well as others. There is also a new Legend of Zelda title available. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a direct sequel to the SNES masterpiece A Link to the Past and has garnered lots of praise. The 3DS is compatible with the DS games and plays nearly identically to the DS. It also has a catalog of older games from the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Sega Game Gear era. To be perfectly honest, Nintendo’s older catalog is severely lacking, especially since the only Game Boy Advance games were released to early adopters and never put on sale. There are a selection of indie games available for the 3DS, but it’s also quite sparse.
The Playstation Vita and Nintendo 3DS are both great systems that offer different kinds of games for different crowds. The Vita features a wider backlog with Playstation 1 and PSP games, as well as a good amount of games made for the Vita. The 3DS, while lacking in older games, has several titles that are worth playing. The Vita retails for $200, while the 3DS is available in several varieties. The 3DS XL retails for $200, the normal 3DS retails for $170, and the hinge-less 2DS retails for $130. Both are excellent systems with a wide variety of games available. I highly recommend both. The only determining factor is your preference in games. If you like weird indie games or lengthy JRPGS, the Vita is tailor-made for you. If you like Nintendo games and tend to play more action oriented games, the 3DS is your system.