FEATURE – A eulogy for my PS Vita

On the 6th of May 2014, my PS Vita of 2 years silently passed away into the console afterlife. It was a tragic moment for me, seeing as how it’s been my console of choice for the past year or so and I’ve literally played thousands of hours worth of games on the wonderful little device.

In honour of my Vita, I would like to retell the story of our life together. The good times. The hard times. Those times when all hope seemed lost… and then the moments of Persona 4, that made anything seem possible.

RIP PS Vita 1000 – I will always love you…

THE BEGINNING

You might not know this but I used to be a videogame developer. I know, weird eh? Well back in February 2012, while working as CEO of Irish Indie development company, Open Emotion Studios, I walked into my local GAME retail store and eagerly forked over my 250 to claim my PS Vita. I was on a lunch break at the time. This was a mistake… My productivity dropped that day as I sampled Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Rayman Origins, Touch my Katamari and Escape Plan.

Uncharted Vita

Uncharted on Vita proved the systems capabilities right out of the gate.

It was love at first sight. Although the UI was a bit bubbly and plastic, I liked how easy it was to set up and get playing. Compared to my PS3, which had to download updates practically every 15 seconds, the Vita made it feel as though I could jump into any game at any time. This was actually the start of a new era for Playstation UI, and the tradition has carried over to Sony’s latest home console, the PS4.

The OLED screen was (and still is) the best display on a portable console to date. Everything had this almost 3D quality to it. The screen seemed to have layers of depth, with icons floating in the foreground, while the background seemed a million miles away. Games like Uncharted delivered the kind of AAA experience I had been waiting my whole life for on a handheld device. Even console ports like Rayman Origins got more play than they ever did on my PS3, partly due to the consoles mobility and accessibility.

Lumines

Lumines got me through many a commute to Dublin while working on Mind of Man.

Well, not long after obtaining my Vita three fairly life changing things happened. First off I left the company I helped found to explore other facets of the games industry. Secondly I got a job writing for an Irish video gaming website. Third, and most important, I got a job in Dublin working on a bizarre little social media app called Mind of Man. For the first month I commuted up and down to Dublin (3/4 hours each way) EVERY. DAY.

If I didn’t have my Vita, I think I would have gone absolutely crazy. Luckily, I was getting more games too due to working for The Player, so Lumines, Gravity Rush and Disgaea 3 joined my list of played games and were getting devoured by my insanely long commute. Then it happened. I ran out of games. I played them all the way into their coffins and buried them six feet under. Ah well, there will be plenty more games to play soon, right? RIGHT?!?

THE MIDDLE

Silence. That was what occurred for quite a while and my Vita sat idly in it’s carry case waiting for me to remember it’s glory. Fleeting moments of greatness, like LittleBigPlanet Vita came along, but releases were too few and far between to really warrant having the Vita on my personage at all times. Time’s were bad. I moved onto the Wii U and ushered praise on that consoles launch line up. Yikes – how the times have changed, eh?

LBPV

Little Big Planet Vita helped for a while, but it looked like the Vita was dead in the water.

There were announcements for Vita. Lot’s of announcements, but very little in the way of things ACTUALLY materializing. I constantly sensed derision from people when I mentioned my Vita and eventually, I almost stopped mentioning it entirely. One of my best mates passed away that year and it was one of the most crushing experiences of my life. We had always shared a huge love for all things gaming and his passing has made my world a decidedly less wonderful place.

Why bring this up? Well, you see I visited my friend in hospital a few weeks before he passed away. We talked about The Walking Dead game frantically, discussing our theories as to what would happen in episode 5 – an episode he just lived to play through a week or so later. More importantly, I sat by his bedside and we played our Vita’s. We swapped games, discussed our favourite upcoming titles and he even asked if I wanted to borrow Assassins Creed Liberation. I told him it was OK. I had just reviewed Assassins Creed 3 on PS3 and Wii U so I really didn’t want anymore AC at that time.

ACLiberation

If I had only known how good AC Liberation was, I would have borrowed it.

When he passed away it was honestly like I lost a part of myself. Nothing made sense anymore. During his funeral, the man’s young son played Little King’s Story on the Vita and asked me for help whenever he was stuck. Tearing up I agreed. History does repeat itself and it was so nice to see my friend live on through his son. In a weird way the portability and accessibility of the Vita allowed the boy to stay connected in some way to his father – and keeping me connected at the same time.

I had grown tired of Ireland. After losing this important part of my life, I wanted out. So I decided to move a couple of hundred miles south to the Mediterranean island of Malta. Guess what I played on the flight. Yep, that’s right. My Vita. I got Persona 4 around that time… and everything else is a blur. Persona 4 literally soaked up a few hundred hours easily. Also, around the same time many Indie titles got ported to the Vita too, meaning I could play Hotline Miami and Limbo on the go.

Persona4

Persona 4 is potentially the game that broke my Vita. So many hours played…

My first few weeks in Malta were spent lounging in the sun playing a wonderful selection of PS Vita titles, even on the beach. I then got a job, working for a bank (ugh) and reality set in. I really had to no time to play my home consoles anymore, barely getting to scrape the surface of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U at launch. A game I was incredibly excited about pre-release. Still, my Vita received love. I travelled everywhere in Malta via bus and donning a set of headphones dragging hour after hour of enjoyment from my little machine.

THE END

Late in 2013 my wife decided that she wanted to return to Ireland. She loved Malta as much as I did, but she hated being away from her family. So (at first) begrudgingly I agreed to the move home. I had to spend several weeks alone in Malta before moving home and during that time, I tried to keep my bills as low as possible due to a fairly liquid financial situation… Therefore the Vita was the perfect console choice, seeing as how it only needed charging each night as opposed to hogging electricity throughout the day.

LEGOLOTR

PS Plus is integral to the Vita experience. I got Lego LOTR and played it while travelling.

Sadly bidding farewell to my friends in Malta I set forth on my journey home. The adventure back to Ireland was long and arduous. We had bought a Chihuahua while abroad, meaning that I couldn’t fly direct. Instead I had about 30 hours of travelling via planes, trains and ferries to get home. Trust me when I say that my Vita got me through that experience. Without it, there’s every chance I would have gone insane.

That was January. This is May. For the last few months of my Vita’s life, we mostly played games like Soul Sacrifice and Toukiden. We also shared our long time bond with my PS4, using remote play to tackle inFamous Second Son and Final Fantasy XIV when the screen was hogged. I bought a new headset last week and we tested it out in Killzone Mercenary, where I got my ass unceremoniously handed to me.

Infamous remote play

Remote Play is a fantastic feature and selling point to owners of both PS4 and Vita.

Then on the 5th of May, I played some Toukiden while in bed. The Vita ran out of battery and as per usual I plugged it into the wall to charge it. The orange light flickered for one or two seconds, as opposed to going solid and then disappeared entirely. I thought “How odd”, but seeing as it was 3 in the morning, I simply drifted off to sleep. In the morning I grabbed my Vita, ran downstairs and made a coffee.

Disbelief set in. At first I thought – Ah ha, It’s the charger. So I travelled to my local Gamestop store and asked the clerk if he could test a preowned Vita charger on my console. Now, the light wouldn’t even turn orange at all. How strange. I tried three more stores and 4 more chargers, but none showed any signs of life. I resigned myself to the belief that my Vita was toast. I won’t lie – I cried. OK, maybe I didn’t physically cry, but I cried on the inside damn it!

Toukiden

Toukiden was the last game me and my Vita would get to play together.

Then, my wife suggested I contact a mate of mine who is incredibly adept at fixing all manner of devices. This dude has fixed several of my laptops, tablets, PS3’s and Xbox 360’s in the past. He’s basically a genius. So, off I went to his house with my Vita held out in front of me like a dead family pet. He popped it open, checked the battery and also the charger. Everything seems to be in order, he told me. We clasped the case back on and the orange light held solid. Eureka, I thought.

It still wouldn’t turn on, but my mate informed me that maybe I would have to wait a few hours for enough charge to boot the console up. I left it overnight and rushed downstairs that morning, as excited as I have been any Christmas of my life. Well, like most Christmas’ of my youth, I was sorely disappointed. The Vita had gone back to the blinking orange light issue and wouldn’t charge at all, once again.

END. FIN

So, there it is. My Vita is gone – and with it so many memories. Memories of friends lost, places travelled and lessons learned. Memories of strange worlds, unique characters and indie classics.

Paddys Vita

Farewell old friend. You shall be missed 🙁

I know what you’re thinking. Just get a new one you big crybaby, and I probably will. I’ve even considered getting a PS Vita Slim – even though it has a substandard LCD screen, it does have longer battery life and 1GB internal storage. However, that replacement Vita will never be THIS vita. The Vita that I played with a dying friend. The Vita that I played the day I left the company I founded. The Vita I played when I landed in a new homeland.

This is a story about connection. I know you can never truly connect to a material possession, but my Vita shared some of my best and worst times and the thought that it will never boot again leaves me with a sickly feeling in the pit of my stomach. I will continue on my PS Vita journey with a new console, and we will share many wonderful (and likely tough) new memories, but I will never forget these two years and the service this console gave me. Ciao, my friend. May you rest peacefully with my Sega Dreamcast and all 5 Xbox 360’s. Be at peace.

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