There are two major handheld consoles on the market at the moment: the PS Vita and the Nintendo 3DS (let’s not bring the 2DS into this). So which one should you buy? Which one (commercial success not considered) is best? Let’s end this once and for all…
The most important aspect of any console, handheld or otherwise, is the games available for it. Without games, a console is just an impractical and ludicrously expensive lump of plastic. The PS Vita has a few strong exclusive titles, exemplified by the spectacular Tearaway, but this point has to go to the 3DS. With a vast array of exclusive games including Fire Emblem: Awakening, Pokemon X & Y, Super Mario 3D Land and Bravely Default, it’s easy to sink hundreds of hours into the handheld.
The reason the 3DS has better games is because Nintendo devote a lot of resources into developing games specifically for it. Despite the fact that the Vita has vastly superior graphic capabilities, it has too many shoddy rip-offs of triple-A console games clogging up it’s back catalogue, like Black Ops: Declassified.
3DS 1 – 0 PS Vita
Nintendo’s major innovation with the 3DS was (you guessed it) 3D without having to wear those finicky glasses. Although it occasional enhances a game, most of the time the only thing it enhances is a headache. I spend most of the time playing it with the 3D switched off.
On the other hand, the Vita includes of bounty of innovative features. The front and back touch screens were showcased by the aforementioned wonderful platformer Tearaway, and the flawless remote-play with the PS4 has been much touted. If the PS Vita had more games that exploited it’s innovations, it might be more successful.
3DS 1 – 1 PS Vita
This is a no brainer. Although the 3DS doesn’t require any more power to realise it’s well-crafted games, it is no where near as powerful as the Vita. The Vita is extraordinarily powerful for a handheld, achieving what seems to be PS3-era graphics with ease and with barely any loading times.
As I hinted earlier, I think the Vita’s power almost hinders it. There is an expectation that it should have games comparable to triple-A console titles, but there’s a reason why 1st person shooters are best played at home in front of a TV (or preferably, a monitor).
3DS 1 – 2 PS Vita
Although it is not their exclusive intended use, handheld consoles are supposed to be for gaming on the move, whether you’re on the train, or waiting in a queue or whatever else you get up to on your day to day business. Comfort is essential then, and the 3DS just edges it in this catagory. The 3DS (particular the XL) feel comfortable to hold and titles like Pokemon are easy to play in public. The Vita is not quite as friendly to the outdoor gamer, with hardcore games that require more attention, and games that utilise the rear touch-screen requiring awkward grips and such.
3DS 2 – 2 PS Vita
Value for Money
The cheapest brand-new Vita available from a leading British game retailer is (as I write) the Slim version for £179.99. The cheapest 3DS (excluding the cheaper 2DS) is £144.99, whilst the XL is £174.99.
3DS 3 – 2 PS Vita
In terms of game prices, the Nintendo 3DS’s games tend to be quite expensive, usually £39.99 brand new upon release, and don’t really tend to drop much in price as they age. With the Vita, Sony focused much of their game sales online, encouraging customers to buy from their store. The store is relatively cheap and has regular sales, including the free games that come with the very reasonable PS plus prescription.
3DS 3 – 3 PS Vita
So there we have it. Irrefutable proof. It’s a draw. However, in my humble opinion, the 3DS is much better. OBVIOUSLY this is just down to my own tastes. Objectively, both consoles are great in their own right and it just depends on what you want from your handheld. If you want more games that are generally more fun and light-hearted, then the 3DS is the one to get. If you want less games, but more mature, hardcore titles, then it’s the Vita. Both have the potential to make you happy. Personally, I have both and the 3DS is superior.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a Nintendo fan-boy. The 3DS is the first Nintendo console I’ve ever really gotten into. On the other hand, I’ve had several PS1s and PS2s, a PSP and a faithful old PS3 on which I am currently playing The Last of Us. Thank you.
A jaded horror enthusiast, I get my kicks hiding in cupboards from whatever hideous creatures happen to be around. However, I'm more than happy playing a wide range of genres on both consoles and PC. Apart from writing for Z1G, I'm also a History student.