Thursday, March 27, 2014

Despite Being the "Uncool" Platforms, I'm Proud to Own a Wii U and Vita.

If systems were children in middle school, Nintendo's Wii U and Sony's PlayStation Vita would be the ones that were bullied all the time. Of course, there's really no emotional scarring when video game hardware is considered, unless you are VERY emotionally involved in gaming, but my analogy still holds some weight. The point here is that these two platforms are sort of like the fish floating at the top of the bowl, while the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo 3DS swim around happily below. ...I don't know why I felt the need to do yet another analogy.

ANYWAY... the Wii U and PlayStation Vita are on life support with poor hardware sales, worse software sales, and little hope of gaining any traction in the market. With the Wii U, many are doubting Nintendo's relevance in the industry, something that would have been shocking to think about a generation ago. It simply shows how quickly success comes and goes. We've learned that with Sony's transition between the ultra-successful PS2 and the once floundering PS3.

Regardless, even if these platforms are seen as "uncool" by gamers, I can't help but love and find both platforms severely underrated. Excuse me while I stand up and admit this to the group as if this were an A.A. meeting-- "I'm Phil Stortzum. I'm a gamer... and I'm proud to own a Wii U and PlayStation Vita."

I remember the feeling I had walking into Best Buy a cold December night, picking up a deluxe Wii U, paying for it, wrapping it up when I got home, and sitting it under the Christmas tree. It's always been somewhat of a tradition for my family to get Nintendo platforms close to each of their launches.

However, I didn't really think Nintendo would blow their momentum from the Wii in such an astronomical and historic way. Software sales are not impressive by any means, and that resulted in third-parties cancelling projects or straight out abandoning the platform. Even knowing that I won't be getting games in series like Batman, Need for Speed, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts, for starters, doesn't really do much to annoy me. With a collection of 24 retail Wii U games, 13 of which are from third-parties, I'm more than satisfied with my purchase, even if the system takes an early retirement.

I've already got to revisit one of the more beloved Legend of Zelda games with The Wind Waker HD, was able to conquer one of the greatest 2D platformers ever in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, had a blast playing co-op with my brother in the fantastic Super Mario 3D World, explored the streets of LEGO City with the best LEGO game yet in LEGO City Undercover, survived the terror and fright of the game that probably makes the best use of the Wii U GamePad in ZombiU, smiled more than I gritted my teeth in frustration with Sonic: Lost World, had fun gatherings with friends and family thanks to both Nintendo Land and Wii Party U, and took down mighty behemoths in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate online with friends across the world. It would be an apt statement to say that I've more than made my Wii U purchase worth it.

Those who harass Wii U owners and the system they possess always seem like so very bitter individuals. It wouldn't surprise me if most of them had never touched the system or its unique controller. If they had, perhaps they would see exactly what they're missing. I know that I no longer take for granted being able to peek at a map in an open world game without needing to pause my progress, or decide between playing a console game or watching TV because now I can do both via off-TV play for most titles. The Wii U started off with me hesitant and unsure of whether I felt screwed out of money, but now I can't imagine my gaming life without it.

Shifting gears (or rather systems), I recently received a PlayStation Vita from a trade on a gaming site (GameTZ). It came with a 16 GB memory card and a charger. Already I own nine games for the system, with a tenth coming in the mail next week sometime. Like the Wii U, it absolutely bewilders me how anyone can say that the system is lacking in games. The great thing about owning a platform that isn't selling well (as weird as that is to say) is that one can find terrific deals for software, even in brand-new and sealed form. The most I've spent on a game so far is $30.00 exactly, and that was for a more niche and rarer game, Ys: Memories of Celceta.

I'm looking through my collection of nine PlayStation Vita games, and I'm still realizing how much I'm missing from my library. I still have Person 4 Golden, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Final Fantasy X/X-2, and Ragnarok Odyssey Ace to acquire. There's too many worthwhile titles available, and that's not even counting all of the digital software already on the PlayStation Store with more content coming in week after week. Sony has established the PlayStation line of hardware as the go-to place for indies. The company makes no attempts to hide this fact, even championing it frequently. I have to be stingy on my PS Store purchases, however, because I have but 16 GB of data on my memory card.

That reveals itself to be my main problem with the PlayStation Vita, and it's no secret to any owner or potential owner of the sexy device. The Vita uses Sony's proprietary memory cards, seen in storage amounts of 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. However, even the 8 GB card, which hardly holds enough content as is, is rather expensive. When you're looking at upwards of nearly $100 to upgrade to the 64 GB card, you know that your memory cards are too pricey!

Not the actual size.
(It's actually MUCH smaller!)
Still, I can't stay mad at my Vita. Its features and technology just amaze me. As a kid of the early 90's, I would have never believed you if you said that games so complex and full of technical detail could be possible on a machine that fits in the palms of my hands. We've come a long way since the Game & Watch and Game Boy, that's for sure!

The following wasn't supposed to come off as me trying to rationalize my purchases as a way to say "Hey, Phil. You DIDN'T waste your money." No, it was more to show that both platforms have a wide variety and amount of software and features that make them worth getting, and to show how a typical owner like myself can find great enjoyment from both platforms. The negative press doesn't affect me as an owner of both, but it obviously affects those on the fence about getting either the Wii U or Vita. Who wants a system that is constantly called doomed or a failure?

My approach with this editorial was to show that both the Wii U and PlayStation Vita are worthwhile choices for anyone who has the spare time and money to fully invest themselves in the platforms. By simply giving them a chance, one will find that each offers an abundance of software and features that cannot be found anywhere else. Even if this approach doesn't work, my happiness derived from both Wii U and the Vita will most likely ignore any negativity surrounding either.

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