Despite a visibly poor selection of titles available for the console at retail, the PS Vita actually has access to a vast software library – far greater than many gamers realise and much of this has been available since the console first launched. While a relatively small number of titles have been made available through normal retail channels, because of the console’s ability to connect to the internet via wi-fi and 3G it – like it’s predecessor and the PS3 – can take advantage of the PlayStation Network and download a myriad of titles that considerably expand the range of games on offer.
Bearing that in mind, one of the first things that must be high on the shopping list for any PS Vita owner should be a memory card. However, for those of you who had a card bundled with your console, try not to settle for anything too small. A 4Gb card just isn’t adequate for anything other than system software, a few downloads and save game data. 8Gb is better but realistically speaking, to get the most out of your Vita you really need to be considering a minimum of a 16Gb / 32Gb card or several cards that you can swap over as needed if the expense of larger cards is too much.
So looking at the PS Vita, what can it run beyond native PS Vita game cards that make the machine so under-rated at the moment? A lot more than people give it credit for which is one of the driving factors behind this site…
Downloadable PS Vita games
As well as being able to buy games in store, you can download most, if not all PS Vita games straight to your console. The only drawback is storage space – some games will need at least a couple of Gb of space so unless you have a 16gb or 32Gb card for your Vita or a couple of memory cards, then it’s probably not the most practical option for the “normal” retail games. However, there are a large number of dedicated download only titles that fall in at well under 1Gb each (some significantly less) and are exceptional games in their own right. And some are even free!
PS Vita game add-ons
You’ve bought the original game and you’re close to completing it so what next? Well, many titles are offering additional content through the PSN to extend the life of the game. Wipeout 2048 has all of the tracks available from Wipeout HD and Wipeout Fury from the PS3 available, and Ridge Racer offers a massive selection of new tracks, cars and music for downloading. But if you want more, there are extra levels, characters and more for a wide range of titles.
PSP downloadable games
Out of the box, the Vita is backwardly compatible with the PSP. However, one thing that it is lacking is a UMD drive so it can’t run native PSP games. However, Sony do offer a wide selection of PSP games available to download covering pretty much every game genre you can think of!
PS1 downloadable games
If you’re looking for some retro PlayStation action, there are over 100 classic PlayStation One games available for downloading from the PlayStation store as well. Just like the PSP, the Vita is also capable of running PS1 titles and with Final Fantasy V, VI, VII, VIII and IX all available, that’s several good reasons for trying these out for starters…
PS mini downloadable games
If you’re not sure about dedicating too much space for game downloads, then there are always Minis. Released on the PSP and later through a firmware update made compatible with the PS3, Minis are smaller games available through the store, typically under 50Mb in size but don’t let that fool you… they may not be as impressive visually and were developed for the PSP but there are some real gems amongst them. From retro arcade conversions, updates of classic 8-bit and 16 bit games, RPGs, puzzle games, arcade games, platformers… there’s something to suit all tastes and at incredibly cheap prices.
One great bonus with the Minis is that any of these that you purchase can also be used on your PS3 as your purchase grants you the right to download and use them on up to four consoles – two handheld and two “normal” consoles so you could run them on your PS Vita and PSP if you have one!
PlayStation Mobile downloadable games
The latest wave of games is part of Sony’s PlayStation Mobile platform. Launched to link in with their PlayStation Certified range of Android phones, these are games that will run on a range of Sony approved Android smartphones and tablets that have met certain performance standards that have ensured that Sony are happy to have the PlayStation brand associated with them. The PS Vita can run all of these games and they are available at an incredibly cheap price too, and some are even free!
While many may hate the word “app”, there is a range of other software that you can get to run on your Vita straight from the PSN store – Skype, Twitter, Facebook and a range of others with more in development so you can use the Vita as more than just a games console.
Downloadable films and TV programmes
As well as the games side of things, there is an online library of films and TV shows covering a wide range of categories offering something for everyone. From modern shows and films to classic 80s television and movies, you can buy single episodes and movies to download straight to your PS Vita and watch them on the go.
A great feature that was first seen with MotorStorm RC and is being widely adopted by publishers at the moment, Cross Buy offers gamers the chance to buy a game on the PS3 or Vita that is released on both formats and then get the same game for the other system absolutely free. An increasing number of games are offering this including Zen Pinball 2, Wipeout 2048 (allowing Cross Buy access to Wipeout HD and Wipeout Fury’s tracks), Ratchet And Clank Q-Force, and many more. What this means for owners of both consoles is that you have an instant software collection that you can build up quickly across systems more affordably.
The way the system works varies from game to game but usually titles purchased through the PSN Store are downloadable on both systems and games purchased at retail need to be purchased for the PS3 and then come with a code allowing the PS Vita version to be downloaded.
PlayStation 2 games to come…?
We’ve already seen PlayStation 2 games released for downloading through the PlayStation Store for the PS3 and certainly the PS Vita is more than powerful enough to emulate the PS2 adequately to be able to run PS2 games so it may only be a matter of time before PS2 functionality is added to the console. The only potential stumbling block could be the current size of the Vita’s memory cards. With a typical PS2 game shipping on DVD and using several Gb of space, it would mean that for PS2 downloads to be viable, gamers would realistically need to be owning 64Gb cards to make this practical.
Nothing to do with games themselves, but I can’t talk about downloading titles from the PSN Store without mentioning Content Manager. This is one of the most important programs you will ever use for your PS Vita. By downloading the corresponding software for your PC from the PlayStation website, it will allow you to transfer files across to your PC. That doesn’t just mean music, videos, photos and game save data though… it also includes all the games you have downloaded. While they are still locked to your Vita, it means that you can manage your memory cards better, re-arrange them and move games from one card to another so if you buy new memory cards rather than needing to re-download all of your games, all you need to do is just copy files to your PC and back again.
Personally, rather than having a large 32Gb card, I store my games on three separate cards and even a 4Gb card is still useful! I use that for some basic apps, Minis and PlayStation Mobile games and despite having over 34 games on the card it still has 2Gb of free space. Similarly, I use an 8Gb card for PSP and PS1 games and reserve my 16Gb card for PS Vita titles maximising the use of all three. If I ever do run out of space on any, all I need to do is copy games to the PC that I don’t use, delete them from the card and copy them back when I want to play them again.
Finally, there is one thing to bear in mind when it comes to downloading games from the PSN Store and that is the issue of “missing” games. While no explanation has been offered for this, there are a number of games that do not appear to be present on the Store for downloading when you view the listing on a PS Vita. This includes Minis, PS1 and PSP games and even some PlayStation Mobile titles. In the case of some of these, it has been reported that they are not fully compatible with the PS Vita and as such they have not been made available for purchase which is understandable.
However, when you view the PlayStation Store online through a PC or on a PlayStation 3 and look at the list of PS1 or PSP games, it indicated what system each title will run on, and there are many that state clearly that they will work on the PS Vita so you can purchase them, but they are strangely absent from the PS Vita version of the store. If this was limited to one or two obscure titles this wouldn’t be a major concern, but this is a significant number of big games including Killzone: Liberation and the two retro arcade compilations Capcom Classics Remixed and Capcom Classics Reloaded.
With such high quality titles absent it can lead PS Vita owners to believe that there are not as many titles available as there actually are. In reality the Vita has in excess of 700 titles available to play including native games (retail and download) and older games, but with so many missing gamers are losing out on many gems. Our advice… if you’ve exhausted all the great choices on offer on your Vita, check out the store on your PS3 as well – you might be pleasantly surprised!