Putting PS Vita TV to the test – a closer look at Japan’s plug-in-and-play box
Packing the power of a Vita into a sleek unit the size of a pack of cards, PS Vita TV is a curious piece of PlayStation hardware. With no touchscreen, touchpad, gyro or camera, it is, in a way, quite seriously hobbled. Many of PS Vita’s coolest experiences, from soaring through the sky in Gravity Rush to grinning at the camera in Frobisher Says, are unavailable – because games that rely too heavily on Vita’s unsupported functions simply won’t run on this bit of kit. But fear not, PS Vita TV’s charms lie elsewhere.
If you already have a Vita, then the obvious use for this Japan-only box is to continue your outdoor-based adventures on the telly when you get home. It has slots for game cards and memory cards, so you can just swap these between your PS Vita and Vita TV – you even can transfer saves via your PS Plus account. Digital purchases can be downloaded to both units from the PSN Store if you prefer to use separate memory cards or Vita TV’s somewhat puny 1GB internal storage capacity.
But even if you don’t have a Vita at home, Vita TV will also work as a standalone device. It plays most Vita games, upscaling them to 1080p, and all of the compatible PSP, PS1 and PC Engine games on PSN as well. The device is DualShock 3 compatible (DS4 will be patched in later) and you can even connect two at a time, which is great for playing PS1 classics with a friend – something even Vita can’t offer.
Currently only available in Japan here’s what the basic PS Vita TV bundle gets you.
For just 9,954 yen (£59, or 14,994 yen/£89 bundled with a DualShock 3 and 1GB memory card), you have a micro-console connected to your TV with hundreds of cheap, brilliant games to enjoy. For PS Vita and PSP games, local and online play work just as they do on a normal Vita. Inevitably there are video, music and ebook apps too, though most of these are currently Japan-oriented – no Netflix, for example.
Aside from a dazzling first week thanks to the simultaneous launch of God Eater 2, sales of Vita TV have been far from stellar, making a Western release uncertain – though Sony boss Andrew House says he still sees Europe as a “strong market” for it. In the meantime your sole option is to import, but heed caution before doing so – because Vita TV is basically region-locked.
Sony has bizarrely chosen to prevent
PS Vita TV from working with Western
PSN accounts, and, by extension,
memory cards associated with one
Sony has bizarrely chosen to prevent the unit from working with any Western PSN accounts, and, by extension, memory cards associated with one. That won’t bother you if you have a Japanese PSN account anyway, and the UI (nearly identical to Vita’s) does run in English, so it’s not a complete waste of time. But as intriguing as PS Vita TV is, most of us are better off crossing our digits for a European release with – you would hope – a few necessary refinements to sweeten the deal.