While the PS Vita is a reasonably comfortable console to hold (as far as handheld systems go and is vastly more comfortable than anything Nintendo have produced over the years, it’s still not ideal for prolonged gaming sessions. Certainly after an hour or so of Killzone: Mercenary, you need a break just to let your fingers settle back into joint properly before you can get back to slaughtering Hellgast. So no matter whether you’re a lover of FPS or racers, something really is needed to make Vita gaming that bit more enjoyable and BigBen Interactive hope to be the ones with the perfect solution…
Attaching the grip is simplicity itself. Move the clasp into the open position, place the Vita against the securing bar at the top of the grip and once it’s safely in position you hold it in place while you firmly close the lock by moving the switch on the lock. There’s no need to push the console down into any slots or any clasps on any part of the handheld so it makes it a breeze to attach or remove whenever you need to. Once it’s done, you’re ready to switch your Vita on and start playing.
Once secured in place, the grip itself gives the PS Vita a look something akin to a PS3 controller with contoured handles either side of the console itself. They are curved to fit your hands comfortably allow the Vita to sit in the palms of your hands easily while still giving you full access to both joysticks, the rear touch pad, the d-pad and all of the action buttons without obscuring the speakers in any way. The grip itself feels sturdy enough and while it is made of moulded plastic, it feels fairly durable and seems as if it will hold up quite well for prolonged periods of play and despite being dropped more than a few times (the grip, not the Vita) it’s survived completely unscathed. The handles themselves have a rubber feel to them for an enhanced grip which is a nice touch so you immediately feel reassured that the Vita isn’t going to slip out of your hands when it’s in use or if it does then you know that quite likely you’re the one to blame.
Sadly, it’s not all good with this grip though. If you plan on using the grip for prolonged gaming sessions, it’s quite likely that you’ll play more than one game on your Vita and this is where the problems arise. The grip actually obscures many of the Vita ports so you can’t access the game port, memory card slot or the USB charger port without removing the grip completely. While the memory card slot may not be important to all of you (unless you have games spread over multiple cards and have a tendency to swap cards during gaming sessions) the obstruction of the other ports is unforgiveable. At the same time, with the top part of the grip being located so close to the power and volume buttons, they can be a little fiddly to reach at times. That is only a minor issue and something that you can learn to live with, but that could have been rectified quite easily.
Also, the locking mechanism isn’t as tight as it could be. All too often I found that it loosened during play and while the PS Vita never came out of the grip when in use, it was never quite as stable as I would have liked. While this was never generally a problem for gaming, I could see potential problems for games dependent on the touch screen or rear touch pad where the Vita needs to be kept as steady as possible. Infact, I was able to slide the locking mechanism into the open position without flicking the locking switch so it did raise questions about the long-term stability of the locking clamp.
I have been in two minds when it comes to this grip ever since buying it. While it is incredibly comfortable to use and has made gaming on the Vita generally an even more enjoyable experience, the design faults have proved frustrating at best and at worst downright annoying to the point that I have left the grip sitting on a shelf for weeks on end when I’ve had game sessions of a variety of games. If you’re a gamer who wants comfort, prefers to use their Vita from battery power alone, only uses a few memory cards and plays single games for longer then I’d have no hesitation in recommending this for you. As for anyone else I’d be somewhat hesitant and suggest that you look elsewhere or try it out before you buy it.
At A Glance
- Product: Controller Grip
- Manufacturer: BigBen Interactive
- System: PS Vita