Last week, Sony released the PlayStation 4 in the Western world, but that wasn't the only PlayStation console to make its debut in stores. Japanese consumers this past week saw the release of Sony's new micro-console, the PlayStation Vita TV.
The Vita TV is basically a home console version of the Vita. Instead of a touch screen, it uses a PlayStation 3 Dualshock controller (and is purported to be able to use the PS4's controller as well). It can play 153 Vita titles (though only some of these are big name titles) as well as PS1 classics and PSP titles downloaded from the PlayStation store. It is compatible with various media streaming apps that you can download off of the PSN; and it is also purported to allow remote play with the PS4, allowing you to play your PS4 games on a TV other than the one connected directly to the PS4 — though without a PS4 of my own (as it has not yet been released in Japan), I was unable to test this.
Over the past few days, I tried out several different games on the Vita TV. The Vita games I tested were Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (JP), Danganronpa 1・2 Reloaded (JP), and Lumines Electronic Symphony (US). For the PSP I played around with Final Fantasy Type-0 and for the PS1, I tried classic Japanese dating sim, Tokimeki Memorial 2.
When it comes to the Vita games I tried, they both looked great and played great on the big screen. While I was somewhat worried beforehand about how games would look upscaled, they looked no less clear than on the handheld Vita — and appear easily on par with many older PS3 titles. The frame rates were stable as well. In the end, I could see no visual difference between the games on the handheld Vita and on the Vita TV. It really was just like playing the Vita on a big screen.
However, when it comes to playing Vita games, the worst thing about the Vita TV is the lack of a touchscreen. While the Vita TV does have a virtual touchscreen (that turns your thumbsticks into mouse-like pointers when you click R3 or L3), it is hardly practical if you need to touch something with any speed or accuracy. Playing Shinovi Versus, where you have to "tap" the screen to lock on to a target, was made more than a little difficult. In other games where you are in no rush to touch the screen, though, it works well enough.
The other downside to the Vita TV is that it can by no means play all Vita games (Japanese). Many popular, big name titles simply won't run at present — though more titles will no doubt be added as time goes on.
As for playing PSP games and PS1 games, it works fantastically. Unlike the PSP 2000/3000, the Vita TV outputs the PSP games at 720p — filling the whole TV screen. Games appear smooth — if a tad pixelated — and overall look much better than when I output from my PSP 2000. PS1 games look equally good and mirror what they look like if you were to play them from a PS3.
There is one more important thing of note, however. If you were thinking of importing you may want to think twice. At present you can only use a Japanese PSN account — meaning any games you have on a Western account are not playable. And while some Western versions of games are compatible with the Vita TV, most require patches that may or may not work with the Western regions' versions. (I was personally only able to test Lumines which does not require a patch.)
When it comes down to it, the Vita TV is an affordable alternative to the Vita with its mere ¥10,000 ($100) price tag. More than that though, if you are a PS1 or PSP lover and want those games to look the best they can on your HDTV, the Vita TV may be right up your alley. So let's all hope it comes West soon.
The PlayStation Vita TV was released in Japan on November 14, 2013. There is currently no word on a Western release.