Battle Of The Handhelds: Playstation Vita vs. Nintendo 3DS XL

IMG_0073I think I’m getting old. Not because I have a beard where there was no beard before, nor because I have a good understanding of what a mortgage is and actively enjoy watching the news sometimes, although those things don’t make me feel any younger.

The reason I feel old is because I find myself enjoying handheld game consoles more than at-home ones. Partially because the nostalgia from playing games from the 90’s and seeing “1998” on a title screen while being able to recall the launch is weird, but the main reason is that I’m enjoying being able to play amazing games on the go. Why does that make you old you may ask? Well, when I was younger at least, I had time to sit down and play games at home, nowadays between friends, finding time to stay healthy, life and running the website, I don’t have all that much time to put into games.

Naturally a lot of older people will play some easy to access games on their smartphone, but what about those of us in our early 20’s? We still want the core gamer experience of a console, with the portability of a smartphone. Enter the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS/XL. Now some people may not be fortunate enough to get both and if like me, you are a child of the 90’s then it may be hard to choose between these two seeing as they are both pretty much used as a new, faster version of the old in-home consoles. Luckily I have gotten my hands on both! Please note that the 3DS XL reviewed in this article is not the “New” 3DS XL with the extra buttons and stick, although I do have a limited edition Majora’s Mask one on the way which I will be doing a full feature article on, along with a comparison between the New 3DS XL and the one in this article.

First things first, if you have any bias towards Sony or Nintendo, like knowing that you prefer Modnation Racers over Mario Kart then I’d instantly say go with the manufacturer that you prefer, because that is ultimately what this will come down to and that way you will not be disappointed. That said there are some cross compatible franchises like Metal Gear Solid on both consoles, so check out the list below.

  • Some Sony Exclusives I Have Played/Owned:
    Tearaway – Awesome game, amazing use of the touch pad, engaging story that literally puts you in the game and beautiful art style, must buy.
    Modnation Roadtrip – Playstation’s Mario Kart, not quite as good but still a lot of fun, great customization. I had Mario drifting Paul Walker’s R34 GTR on a replica Bathurst track. Awesome stuff.
    Metal Gear Solid HD Collection – MGS 2/3 remastered, somewhat fun but the control sticks didn’t quite work for me. (Note: Snake Eater also available on 3DS)
    Freedom Wars – Awesome game, similar to Monster Hunter but with a very interesting, albeit complex story, must have.
    Motorstorm RC – Eh, not great. Not nearly as good as console Motorstorm and Modnation is better, your call.
    Sly Cooper Games – The Sly you’re used to on console, now portable, fun game.
    Little Big Planet – The same LBP experience again now portable, a lot of fun.
    Minecraft PSV Edition – A perfect port of Minecraft, sticks work surprisingly well compared to other games.
    Uncharted Golden Abyss – A showcase of all the Vita’s hardware, ok game but no where near as good as console versions and the sticks are useless for shooting if your thumbs are bigger than an 8 year old’s.
    Gravity Rush – Weird and totally unique puzzle-y game, definitely a must have for those seeking something new.
    Playstation All Stars Battle Royale – Super Smash Bros. for Vita. Well made, lot’s of PS characters and good fun.
    Borderlands 2 – Don’t do it. It simply didn’t work for me the same way that the console version did and only disappointed. Max two player co-op and you need a decent size memory card to hold all the DLC + other games.
    Grim Fandango – Technically not out yet but a remastered version is on the way. I love this game so so so soooo much. Likable characters, cool story and a lot of fun. Aztec beliefs meet Noir setting, totally awesome combo. Must have.

    Also a whole lot of PS1 games such as Abe’s Odyssey and Spyro, definitely worth checking out for the nostalgia.
      Note: Very few games are being made for the PSV at this point in time, which is a shame.

  • Some Nintendo Exclusives I Have Played/Owned:
    Super Smash Bros. – A portable version of the game we all know and love. Looks great, plays great and is just great. You can also use the 3DS as a controller for the Wii U version providing you have a copy of the game on Wii U and 3DS.
    Pokemon X/Y – Awesome game, feels a lot like Red/Blue to me. Huge world to explore and a lot to do. Must have.
    Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby – A remake of Ruby/Sapphire and just as good as the originals/X & Y. I prefer X/Y personally because I was never really a fan of Ruby/Sapphire but still a really great game and a must have for Poke-fans.
    Mario Kart 7 – Again another portable version of the classics. It’s good and very addictive. Must have.
    Heroes Of Ruin – Totally underrated title, kind of like Warcraft 3. A lot of fun, a must have for RPG fans.
    Bravely Default – Awesome RPG game, definitely a must have if you like cool art style and story, demo available!
    Mario Party: Island Tour – Mario Party portable, loses something special when you aren’t all in the one room.
    Fire Emblem: Awakening – Turn based RPG, great multiplayer and an incredible game. Must have.
    Scribblenaughts Unlimited – Huge purple whale with jet pack. That’s all. Must have.
    Metal Gear Solid 3D – Solid port, 3D looks great but definitely needs circle pad pro to be played properly. Better than PSV version in my opinion because the lower screen is your best friend. Must have for MGS fans.
    Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate – Woah mama! This game is awesome. Action adventure free roaming at it’s portable best. I love it, it’s hard to fault really, like MGS the extra stick is a necessity though.
    Ocarina Of Time 3D – Nostalgia city! A perfect port of the classic game (one of my personal favourites). Hyrule looks awesome in 3D and the game totally holds up as an adventure game, even by today’s standards. Can’t wait for Majora’s Mask!
    A Link Between Worlds – The best game on 3DS, maybe not the most replayable but definitely the best. I play it weekly and I will probably never trade it in, ever. I loved A Link To The Past and this is so reminiscent of that while still being an all new Zelda game. Must have!A wide assortment of Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Donkey Kong games that I have yet to get around to playing also exist, along with a huge assortment of older Nintendo games available digitally. Note: The Nintendo games library wins hands down in my opinion, simply because there are so many more games than the PSV has to offer.

    IMG_0075Size wise these two aren’t anywhere near being considered bulky but the PSV pulls ahead slightly with it’s “all in one design” making it more compact as apposed to the flip design of the 3DS. Both are easy to store in bags and even some jacket pockets. I wouldn’t recommend putting them in your pants pockets though, just a bit too big for that. Both feel great in hand, with the 3DS taking the cake only marginally for me just because of the way that the screen flips up, it creates a nice little spot for you to rest the console on your fingers while still being able to access the shoulder buttons, whereas the PSV has to be held tightly.

    That said the PSV feels great to hold with some softer indented patches on the back and rubbery sticks making it very tactile. The only downside I found with the PSV is that if you are playing intensely or on a hot day, the sweat from my hands made it a little hard to get a good grip while also the responsiveness of the rear touch pad and screen was noticeably lessened.

    This is not exactly a complaint but something I should note; if you are not going to buy a case for either, you will probably be fine with the 3DS because it folds up nicely, protecting the controls and screens, where as the PSV’s sticks jut outward and with their sticky rubber pads, they will get hooked on everything. I had a slim protective case for mine though, so no problems were had as long as I kept it inside.

    Both consoles uses cartridges which I personally love. They are small and easy to store and they are somewhat durable so no complaints on either front there.

    The camera on the 3DS is horrible. I would never use it. The PSV has an ok camera but I would still probably never use it. The social features of the PSV far outweigh the 3DS and is just so much easier to use, particularly YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Menus make sense and it’s equally easy to add people online as it is on PS3/4. The 3DS’s adding system is a little bit of a faff but will work when you figure it out. A note should be made that I don’t know anyone with a PSV but know many people with DS’ and always see them at conventions where as I never see any PSV’s.

    IMG_0074The PSV is easily more high tech in a lot if ways but a lot of the features require friends who also have a PSV. There is a music player and map app too but to be able to store music would mean you have to fork out for a large memory card which is Sony’s own. A note should be made that any SD card will work in the 3DS XL. I feel like most people will already have an iPod/iPhone/smart phone which they are more likely to use maps and listen to music with. The 3DS isn’t as bad as a calculator though, it’s just focused more on practical applications than beefy tech-specs. There still is a web browser, but I’ll never use it. Streetpass is a nice touch and I always find people, even when I’m just out and about where as I never found anyone on the PSV’s equivalent of Streetpass and honestly can’t even remember what it is called.

    Both batteries will last a full day of playing for a few hours here and there, I don’t have exact times but I was not disappointed with either console’s battery performance.

    At this point you’re probably starting to think I am no longer being unbiased and you’re right. While I do genuinely love both consoles for different reasons, the 3DS just works better for me*. The games are better and there are more, the console works better and doesn’t waste it’s hardware on things that no one will ever use. I do prefer two sticks but the PSV’s just don’t work for me at all.

    *With all that said, I think the key point is that it works for me. I prefer Nintendo games to Sony games. It’s always going to come down to that in my opinion. Which games do you prefer?

    Do you prefer the PSV or 3DS? Have you got both? Did this article help you make a choice? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @pikalew

    – L

3 replies »

  1. I own both, and there’s frankly not much to play on Vita. Yes, there are a few good games, but most of them can be played on PS3, PC or other systems. 3DS games are produced for the 3DS, with the 3DS in mind. They are not an afterthought. Seriously, it seems that Sony is making the same mistake everybody made in the past, which is develop a portable system with subpar versions of console games, instead of making a great game specifically for that system. This is something Nintendo has always understood, starting with the Game Boy, where a game like Link’s Awakening was just as good, if not better, as anything on console. I remember having the same problem with the PSP, which felt like a lesser, portable PS2, and now the Vita feels like a lesser PS3. Yes, I love having the ability to bring Indie games & PSone classics on the go, and frankly they look better on the vita then on my big LCD screen, but I really think that as long as they simply port games, or make flawed subpar versions of bigger games, they will never have a chance to really make a dent in the portable market.

    Even the games I truly enjoyed on PS Vita, felt like they would be better on a home console. A feeling I rarely have with the 3DS.

    Yes, the graphics are far better on Vita, but I have to say, I prefer the gameplay on 3DS. I just think Sony never took the Vita seriously enough as its own device. Nintendo of course has to rely on the 3DS much more these days, since the Wii U is not selling so well, so that’s also a factor for the avalanche of quality games on that system.

    Even the argument for the Vita as an indie machine is not as strong anymore, because the 3DS is getting quite a bit these days, and often at a cheaper price. For instance, Shovel Knight, probably the best rated indie title of 2014 is only on 3DS.

    Where the Vita wins hands down, is at the cross compatibility, that is something that is truly infuriating and that I hope Nintendo fixes with the New 3DS.

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