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Australian Vita launch: Sydney harbours whispers of mutiny

Wednesday, 22nd February 2012 07:49 GMT By Brenna Hillier

VG247 joined Sydney’s cynical games and tech press on a nautical celebration of the nascent portable last night. Brenna Hillier survived unscathed, with her enthusiasm for the Vita intact. In this, she was alone.

Ephraim gave the usual nods to the Vita’s connectivity, social features, and exciting array of touch controls, but he also called it “an extension of the home console experience”. This, according to the fashionably cynical crowd around me, is exactly what nobody wants.

Squashed elbow to elbow with too many partying people on a tiny barge, I felt incredibly alone at Sony’s Australian Vita launch event.

It wasn’t just that the waiting staff were dressed in my trademark black shirt and colourful tie, requiring me to stuff mine in my handbag and ensuring nobody could remember who I was; all night, I seemed to be at odds with almost everyone I met. Everybody else seemed delighted to be on a Sony boat – I have a history and was not so pleased. I was extremely excited about the gorgeous bit of tech we were there to celebrate – everybody else, not so much.

Sony Australia’s biggest of wigs was on board the Sony Boat to give the Vita a little welcome-to-the-world speech – well, I say on board; both Michael Ephraim and special guests Empire of the Sun were sequestered on a second, roomier boat some distance away across a stretch of water probably patrolled by laser sharks to keep we plebs away from them.

Ephraim gave the usual nods to the Vita’s connectivity, social features, and exciting array of touch controls, but he also called it “an extension of the home console experience”. This, according to the fashionably cynical crowd around me, is exactly what nobody wants.

“When I’m on the train, I don’t want Uncharted; I want Tiny Wings. I don’t want to carry a PS3 around with me,” said one critic whom I hope won’t mind being quoted anonymously given what happened next: throughout the evening, as I eavesdropped while snapping photos and “absorbing the ambience,” I heard the same thing said over and over again. I am pretty sure others nearby had heard it, judged it was pretty neat and repeated it thinking nobody would notice the copycatting as the drinks tab mounted up.

I did notice, and I also thought it was a neat comment. It’s true – not everybody wants to carry a PS3 around with them. I do, though. That’s like a dream come true, except I’m not likely to be eaten by a giant carrot lurking around the next corner.

Giant carrot

The Vita isn’t, of course, really a portable PS3; we’re years and several advances in battery technology off that little whimsy becoming a reality, unless streaming gets off its arse and starts working properly. It’s pretty close though; at the lower resolution, there really isn’t that much to choose between them unless you’re a bit wanky about graphics and use words like “FRAPS,” and it’s got all the necessary buttons for a proper game with more depth than your average avian-themed mobile app.

Plus, just look at it. It’s kind of hard to stop. Photos don’t do it justice. It’s hard to photograph the Vita properly because it’s so shiny. Think about that for a second. The Vita is too shiny to be photogenic. It is like a model so beautiful that if she smiles, the cameraman has a fatal cardiac event, ending her promising career then and there.

If you hold the Vita up to an iPhone, you could probably make some sort of comparison in the portable console’s favour, but you won’t, because you’ll be too busy saying “cor” and putting your grubby fingers all over it as quickly as possible. I recall that, before I saw a retail Vita, I thought the iPhone 4S had a beautiful screen. Now it looks a bit dull and manky.

It’s not all about looks of course, but the attraction of that marvellous screen really can’t be underestimated. You should go to a shop or a mate’s house and look at it. Pop in Uncharted or Gravity Daze or even the simple cartoon stylings of Escape Plan. Do your eyeballs a favour.

Occasionally, when the conversation stuttered, people would impress each other by describing how much they weren’t going to buy a Vita on Thursday morning. “Is anyone even going to buy one?” they’d ask each other rhetorically, generally after complaining about not receiving a demo unit.

I’m buying one. I’ve got a pre-order; I’m considering nicking off work for half an hour to pick it up early. I don’t think I’m the only one. GAME ran out of WiFi-only stock last week – goodness only knows how the pre-orders have piled up since then. Talking to one of the retail chain’s buyers last night, I couldn’t winkle any hard numbers, but neither he nor the Sony account manager hid their smug little smiles.

This makes me glad. I like this little device so much that I braved a bloody Sony Boat for it. That’s a pretty dependable recommendation.

The Vita launches in Australia on February 23. A WiFi-only model is AUD$350, while the 3G-enabled version is AUD$420.

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5 Comments

  1. Dragon246

    The only portable handheld that can play uncharted and other games of console quality. A true gamers handheld. It needs to succeed .I hope it does.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. KAP

    Exactly.

    Theres quick criticism towards this and its only just been released today.
    Least make a judgement once its been out a while.
    Its a beast of a handheld with alot of promise.

    I really hope its a runnerway success and shuts all the naysayers up.

    Like i said: Gamers are never happy.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Christopher Jack

    I also talked to a GAME manager & he said its selling out faster than he could possibly imagine, although it could simply be a limited amount of shipped units. Either way, I hope its a success so that when I do grab one, it won’t go the way of the Dreamcast.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Mr-Brett

    I’d say that gamers feel differently to the press on this, they were sceptical at first but I think a lot of us are getting over the honeymoon period of the darling iPhone and touch screens in general.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. FeaturePreacher

    Here’s a little secret about the press that excludes the fine writers of vg247 of course, most of them are bad at games. This can explain why they might not like some of the console experiences in a handheld. You must remember, this is the same group of people who strong hatred for the massively popular series Call Of Duty.

    #5 2 years ago

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