The Vita Lives On… As Long as its Remote Play Functionality Does

It may not be perfect, but the PlayStation Vita will always live on in my heart.

Last month, Sony announced that both the PlayStation 3 and the Vita’s support in their monthly PS Plus games would come to an end by March 2019. Surely, this looks to be the final nail in the Vita’s coffin (a rather long line of nails, if you ask me). While the PlayStation 3 has had a good, long run in the spotlight, it seems like the Vita never got a fair shake. Knowing its exclusion will finally put the portable out to pasture, there’s one feature that will always make it a mainstay in my gaming play time: its remote play functionality.

Is it a cheat to claim that the Vita’s best function is its ability to play another console’s games? Maybe, but what’s it matter? While Sony rather abruptly abandoned releases on Vita a good while ago, it has been the countless smaller publishers that kept the device alive in its twilight years. Even these days, there’s a few standout releases each month but eventually even those will grind to a halt. Without new games to play, the Vita’s remote play functionality with the PlayStation 4 helps it remain a device I still turn on every day.

For instance, I’ve recently been playing through the entire Kingdom Hearts series thanks to the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX re-release. It’s surprising how great these games look, even now, on an HD television screen. Yet in a two bedroom apartment I share with my significant other, it’s a bit difficult to play through that much content without hogging the screen for hours on end. Thanks to the Vita, that hasn’t been much of a problem.

I’m trying not to sound like a promotional campaign for a dying device, which is hard since I love this function so much as it is. While my personal wireless setups can make the remote play functionality a bit of a hassle to deal with, things work well for the most part. My PlayStation 4 is connected wirelessly, as is my Vita, so I can’t go running around my apartment like a maniac while playing a game. However, sitting on a couch next to my significant other, still being able to play a lengthy JRPG is a God-send.

It may be true that other devices allow for this same type of service. Any PC now has remote play functionality with both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One thanks to respective proprietary applications for each. However, there’s a simple convenience the Vita provides that makes the entire experience so much more seamless.

I could go into my bedroom to grab my notebook computer, a device which has seen more use than its deserved, to try and play PlayStation 4 games over my wifi connection. Doing so, however, would require me to hook up a Dualshock 4 to my notebook via an unfortunately short USB connector, then messing with Sony’s annoying program which for whatever reason has more trouble connecting than a cellphone in desert. Or, I could simply pick up the Vita that’s sitting in front of me, connect it to my PlayStation 4, and start playing.

It’s a quality of life feature that I feel is growing more uncommon these days. Besides Microsoft’s continued commitment in providing backwards compatibility support on the Xbox One, most of these things seem to come and go. Sony has yet to make any of its many PlayStation Classics available on the PlayStation 4, instead opting to have players re-purchase them. There are of course obvious reasons for why backwards compatibility has fallen out of favour with big games companies like Sony, and similar ones for why Microsoft would suddenly be so interested in them. Yet the cynic’s approach to these issues doesn’t interest me. I simply want my gaming life to become easier and more convenient over time. The PlayStation Vita’s remote play feature has always felt like a step in that direction to me.

Because of the Vita’s particular place in history, I can relate to the platform’s more hardcore fans. Growing up on a Sega Saturn, I can relate to the experience of loving a failing console with all your heart. The Saturn, like the Vita, similarly found success elsewhere, so it made the pain sting a little less. We are lucky to have as many small publishing companies and localisation teams that are willing to bring over the gems we otherwise would have missed, but even releases like those will dry up in time. The ability to remote play PlayStation 4 games on my Vita, however, will ensure its place on my coffee table. Alongside stacks of bad magazines and empty soda cans will it stay, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.