With people doing flips over the graphic capabilities and price of the PS Vita, ready to throw down cash for a pre-order, all I can think is that we've been here before.
It was E3 2004, and Sony was ready to enter the handheld world, looking to take on the kings of the market and do what they did on the console front: destroy their competition with superior technology. Nintendo’s newly announced DS, an unwieldy beast with graphics that differed only marginally from the N64, left many wondering what the hell they were thinking by releasing a handheld with two screens. For Sony, it looked like the next few years would be a walk in the park.
The only ones who didn't get wrapped up in the hype were the unfortunately closed-minded Nintendo loyalists (who, let's face it, were likely bitter because they couldn't afford both handhelds). Right away, I had my own pre-order in at GameStop, and I couldn't stop looking at screens and videos of this modern marvel. It was a console experience you could take with you; what wasn't there to love?
I also had my DS reserved, and was excited to play a library made up of N64 ports and minigames. For me, it was about the games, and both systems looked promising. The only hardship I endured was the constant cries of "Nintendo’s going under" on forums across the web, my own site's message board (R.I.P.) included.
Some of the talking points of Sony’s PSP:
•Graphics akin to their home console at that time, virtually slaughtering Nintendo’s handheld in visual capability
•$250 price tag
Of course, the PS Vita has been updated to include many standards of today, like having touch controls and cameras, but a lot of it feels like déjà vu.
The PSP had some amazing breakthroughs, and game play experiences I haven't enjoyed quite as much anywhere else (I’m looking at you, Lumines), but over time, the game library ran thin. With every great release, the lack of a second joystick became increasingly frustrating, and the system's limitations started showing their true (read: ghosting) colors.
To date, the DS has outsold the PSP two times over, worldwide. It defies most logical explanations, but shows that brute force doesn't guarantee a crushing victory.
An aside: like the PSP, I got bored of the DS eventually, and both systems collected dust until I got around to selling them. And I’m not sold on the 3ds either.