PS Vita Essential Tips And Information

There’s far more to owning a PS Vita than buying and playing games either from cards purchased in stores or as downloads from the PSN Store. There are a wealth of features that the console offers to owners but most users will either never use the console to its full potential or don’t know what it can offer straight out of the box. Hopefully this guide, which we’ll update regularly, with give you a few pointers in the right direction as well as maybe giving you a few new ideas of what you can do…

Content Manager

This is arguably the most underrated piece of software available on the PS Vita’s home page and one that everyone should make use of. In addition to being able to assist in transferring images, music and video files from your PC to your Vita (once you have downloaded and installed the accompanying PC software that you can get from Sony’s website) it also offers one other key function that is vital if you plan on getting a larger or multiple memory cards at some point for your console… It allows you to copy entire games to your PC and transfer them to another memory card!

While games are still locked to your particular Vita so there’s no chance of copying games for your friends, what it does mean is that you can manage your memory cards more efficiently. If you upgrade to a larger memory card it means that you can transfer all your data – games, save game data, add-ons etc – to your new card quickly and easily. If you have multiple cards you can organise them to maximise the amount of space you have. If you are pushed for space and there are games you don’t think you will play for a while, you can also just copy them to your PC, delete them to free up space and then transfer them back over at a later date when you need them.

Memory Cards

It goes without saying that you should buy the largest memory card possible but if you can’t do that, then you can get additional cards later and through the use of Content Manager just split your games up into themed cards to keep better track of them. Ideally though, with many downloadable titles coming in at around 1Gb+ in size and a large number of titles now offering DLC, we’d recommend that you have at least 16Gb of storage on hand for your PS Vita if you can.

Cross Buy

A phrase that has been used quite a lot recently, Cross Buy is one of the most important initiatives to come out of Sony to involve the Vita. Basically what Cross Buy means is that you can purchase a supported title or add-on for the PS3 or Vita and you will automatically be entitled to download the version of the product for the other format free of charge. For example, for anyone who purchased MotorStorm RC for the PS3 from the PSN Store, they were able to download the PS Vita version free, and the same for any DLC content. As the game also featured Cross Play, it meant that you could play against your friends no matter what console they had and play the game at home or on the move for just a single payment.

Not every publisher has signed up to Cross Buy at the moment, but a lot of major games do support it so they’re worth looking out for. Highlights include Zen Pinball 2, Wipeout 2048 (Wipeout HD and Wipeout Fury from the PS3 are available as free add-ons for the Vita), PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, Motorstorm RC, Ratchet and Clank: QForce and more.

A little known variation of Cross Buy is also present on most titles available through the PlayStation Network Store. When you purchase any title from the Store you are granted permission to download and install games on up to two consoles and two handheld consoles activated and registered with your PSN account. However, with PS Minis and PS1 games, if you have purchased these for your Vita, you can also run these quite happily on your PS3 / PSP and vice versa, effectively giving you Cross Buy functionality.

Cross Controller

An underused feature at the moment, Cross Controller allows you to use the PS Vita during PS3 games as a replacement for the PS3’s controller but making use of the Vita’s screen, touch screen and touch pad and additional functions as part of the PS3’s game adding additional gameplay elements and functionality. Only a couple of games have this so far although a lot more are expected to come. The most notable to-date is Little Big Planet 2 which has puzzles and levels that specifically take advantage of the Vita, using the touch screen to interact with levels and solving puzzles on the Vita’s screen.

Cross Play

Not to be confused with Cross Buy, Cross Play allows you to play games or transfer game data between different versions of the same game on the PS3 and PS Vita. Great for those of you who prefer to play games on your TV downstairs and on the Vita when you are on the move but don’t particularly feel like playing the same game from the beginning on two different consoles. More and more games are supporting the facility to share save game data or high score data including Zen Pinball 2, Knytt Underground, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock and many more. In the case of Zen Pinball 2, if you set a new table record on the PS Vita, the next time you play on the PS3 all your table records will be updated accordingly so all of your PSN account details will keep the same scores no matter what system you play on.

Cross Play does offer two additional types of interaction for gamers… and these have been highlighted the most by some of the earlier racing games released for the Vita. First is something offered primarily by games like ModNation Racers: Road Trip but has also been seen by other games as well where you can exchange user created level and character data between systems. For example, in ModNation Racers right from the start the Vita version can access all of the tracks, cars and characters that have been created by everyone who had been playing the PS3 version released several months earlier ensuring that the Vita version launched with an incredible amount of available online content.

In terms of the other aspect of Cross Play, games like MotorStorm RC and Wipeout 2048, Vita owners can go head-to-head against PS3 owners when playing online and while only a limited number of games offer this right now, the list is growing daily and it offers an incredibly amount of potential for online gaming.

Remote Play

Remote Play allows you to connect your PS Vita directly to your PS3 either by way of a USB connection, wi-fi or internet connection and take control of the console. You will see a scaled version of the PS3’s screen on your Vita and it will function exactly as the PS3 would. What this means is that you will gain instant access to your music, photo and video library stored on the PS3 (with the exception of downloaded videos from the PSN Store). While you can’t run PS3 games through your PS Vita, you can run some games remotely. At present, PS3, PS2, and Minis won’t run but all PS1 games stored on your PS3 will work remotely and all you need to do is use the PS Vita and go to the games section on your PS3, select the game and start them. They will load as normal, the PS3 screen will go blank on your TV and instead the game will start and run on your PS Vita!

As you don’t need your TV on for this, if you use your Vita at home it means that any PS1 games you have downloaded can be stored on your PS3 instead of downloaded to the Vita and can all be played in this manner instead. Basically it uses the same technology as Onlive converting the game output on the PS3 into video footage which is then streamed live to the PS Vita and decoded realtime. While visually the games don’t look as crisp as they would if they were stored on the PS Vita’s memory cards it does mean you can have an unlimited amount of storage at your disposal and the games still look good enough and run fast enough to be more than playable.

Additionally, this will also work for PS1 games that you have on disc for the PlayStation 1 (as, from a hardware point of view, the PS3 is backwardly compatible with the PS1) although you may need to go in and out of Remote Play once or twice on the Vita for it to be recongised fully as the game disc being inserted into the PS3 can occasionally override the Remote Play function but once the game starts running everything is fine. However, for some reason on the games I tested, performance isn’t as good as it was for downloaded games so it may be better suited for RPGs and not games that require quick reactions.

However, with some of the larger PS1 games available from the PSN Store using 600Mb+ (and titles such as Final Fantasy VII needing 1300Mb) this is a must for many gamers!

PlayStation Network Store Downloads

We’ve all downloaded games from the PlayStation Network Store, whether they’re native games for the PS3 or PS Vita, Minis or for those of us with PSPs as well, games for that system. However, over time there have been titles that have been removed from sale for one reason or another. This has ranged from PlayStation One releases of classic arcade conversions including Gauntlet and the Mortal Kombat series, to popular games from the Minis range including Terminator and Angry Birds. However, once you have downloaded them, you have the right to re-download them up to five times and install them on up to two consoles and two handheld systems as part of the purchase of the usage licence.

In almost every case, even when a game is removed from sale, it is still available on Sony’s servers for past customers so we would recommend that you install the game on as many compatible systems as you can as quickly as you can. Even if you don’t have space on your memory cards, it is important to ensure that you’ve downloaded and installed them as you can still use Content Manager for the PS Vita to back the games up on your PC. If you’re using a PSP, you can copy the entire content of your memory card to your PC and back it up that way and copy the card content back to the console at a later date. As cards are relatively inexpensive for the PSP, there is no reason not to use multiple cards if needed.

While this isn’t an ideal system, with top rated games such as Killzone Liberation and Capcom Classics Reloaded already disappeared from the PSP store with more being removed on a regular basis, it’s worth getting these before it’s too late…

Serial Number

Now this is a strange one… at the bottom of your PS Vita by the USB / power cable port and headphone socket you will find two stickers. One of these features a barcode and the other has the serial number for your PS Vita. While the photo here doesn’t show the stickers themselves, it does indicate where to find where the serial number sticker is, and this is the one we’re talking about right now.

PS Vita - Memory Card Slot

So why is this sticker so important? With any electronic device, there is a chance that you may need your serial number at some point in the future. Whether this is to register the console to make a warranty claim, or to make tracking easier if it does go for repair and to validate that it is in fact your console. Regardless, this is a unique number only assigned to your PS Vita. In the past, these stickers have been located on the rear or underneath of consoles but with the Vita this causes problems. It couldn’t go on the rear because of the touch pad so the only place this sticker could go was at the bottom and here lies the problem…

A number of users, myself included, have found that the glue keeping this sticker in place loses its adhesive properties over time. Whether this is from transfer of body heat as you use the Vita is unknown, but it can result in the sticker moving or at worst, coming off completely. As a Vita owner what you will then be left with is a console that will have no formal “identify”. From Sony’s point of view they could legitimately refuse to repair your PS Vita without this number so it is something you need to look after.

Keeping a manual record of this number won’t suffice, nor will a photographic  record of the sticker still attached to the Vita so if you find the sticker starting to come loose then the best option is to remove the sticker carefully, put a couple of tiny drops of super glue along the strip where it came from, and then replace it taking care not to get any on your fingers. If it is easier, lift half of the sticker at a time and glue each half down but only use a small amount of glue so you don’t damage the sticker.

Simon Plumbe

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