Gaming, Video Games

PS Vita Vs. 3DS: Little Handhelds, Big Differences

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Courtesy of

A few posts ago, I wrote about the Xbox One Vs. PS4 Vs. Wii U console war, as it had not yet played out. The 3DS and Vita battle was short-lived, however, and it didn’t take long to see that, once more, Nintendo came out on top of the handheld market. This doesn’t mean that the Vita is a bad system, however, and they’re tough to “compare” because they’re so different. Similar to my last console war post, I’ll talk about the features of each, the ups and downs, and I’ll touch on how you might be able to decide between the two if you haven’t yet.

Let’s start with the PS Vita:
Price: $199
Avaliable Versions: 3G+Wi-Fi Version, or the Wi-Fi only version (Both are $199).

Distinctive Features: Most notably, the Vita is a single-screen system that has a back touch pad and a touch screen with a 960 × 544 resolution. The touch screen implementation had already been implemented years ago by phones and the DS, but the back touch pad is something unseen on a mobile gaming device. This allows for very innovative game features, including terrain manipulation, and essentially adding extra buttons to the system, simply by allowing your previously non-utilized fingers to have a purpose other than simply holding the system. This is great because it eliminates the need to create more physical buttons, which take up more room on the device.

Additionally, the Vita has two analog sticks, a d-pad, four face buttons, two bumper buttons, a home button, and select and start buttons. It also packs in a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and two cameras. The handheld uses two types of memory cards: the memory card that functions like an SD card or a Memory Stick Pro Duo, and the Vita game card, which is the equivalent to a game disc or cartridge.

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What It Can Do: The Vita, as I mentioned, has touch capabilities, which brings it up to speed with Nintendo and smartphones. The Vita is a powerful handheld, featuring a strong processor, and enough RAM to get the job done; this allows for better graphics. It includes social media integration, access to PSP, PSOne, and Vita downloadable titles on the PS Store, and interaction with the PS4, including the ability to play PS4 titles on your Vita through remote play.

Games: The Vita seems to target a Teen and Mature audience (both in beefy hardware, and in games). Therefore, games include Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, Dragon’s Crown, Killzone: Mercenary, and Black Ops: Declassified. Other family and kid friendly titles include Rayman Origins, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Wipeout 2048, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, and Plants Vs. Zombies.

Summary of Pros: Innovative controls, strong processing and graphic abilities, wide variety of games, button set of a console controller, and 3G capability.

Summary of Cons: Doesn’t have a ton of “must-have” console exclusive titles, battery lasts only 3-5 hours on low settings, (although there are add-on battery packs that can be purchased) somewhat high price, and small buttons/buttons are too close together. The latter can be helped, but not completely avoided without needing to make the system much larger.

Next up is the 3DS:
Price: $169*
Avaliable Versions: Base 3DS model for $169, 3DS XL (larger unit) for $199, and the recently announced 2DS for $129. For simplicity sake, this review will only discuss features of the base model 3DS

Distinctive features: Everyone knows the DS line of game systems by the clamshell, dual screen design. The top screen has a 800 × 240 resolution, and the bottom screen has a 320 × 240 resolution. The feature that sets the 3DS apart from the DS and DSi is the ability to play games in 3D, without the need for special glasses. This feature can be turned on and off by using the 3D slider on the right side of the top screen. Furthermore, the 3D effect can be made weaker or stronger by moving the slider as well. This adds depth to backgrounds, causes items to pop out at you, and can make titles more appealing and/or engaging. As always, the bottom screen of the DS is a touch screen, whereas the top screen is not. The bottom screen oftentimes is used to display game options, an in-game map, or extra relevant information.

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Additionally, the 3DS features an accelerometer, a gyroscope, two outward facing cameras capable of 3D pictures and video, and a front facing camera for 2D pictures and video. The main buttons include four face buttons, a d-pad, a “circle pad” acting as a thumbstick, two bumpers, a power button, and select, start, and home buttons. The system uses 3DS game cartridges to play physical copies of games, and utilizes an SD card to save game files, digital games, pictures, music, and more. Therefore, it has two card slots. Of course, the system also comes with a stylus for the bottom touchscreen.

What It Can Do: The 3DS is geared more toward kids, and the features reflect that. The Mii Plaza encourages you to interact with other 3DS users to play minigames featuring their Miis. Swapnote allows you to send picture messages over the internet to your friends, and registering a friend still involves a friend code, thus making it safer for kids (and adults, for that matter). Other features include a Mii Maker, download play, allowing you to play select titles with local friends who don’t have the game, Augmented Reality capabilities, and a web browser. It should be noted that the processor and RAM are not as powerful as the Vita, but the innovation of the 3D and dual screen features make up for this; fine tuned graphics aren’t missed when the games are so engaging and fun without them.

Games: The 3DS is very much a kid-oriented system. The games reflect this; titles include Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Mario Kart 7, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, Star Fox 64 3D, Skylanders, and more. There are teen and adult oriented games, however, and these include two Resident Evil titles, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, Super Street Fighter IV 3D, and Dead or Alive: Dimensions

Summary of Pros: It uses 3D, two screens for more information, has a good size, and the circle pad is great. Furthermore, the Streetpass and Spotpass features are good additions, as well.

Summary of Cons: Has few good games for the older audience, 3-5 hour battery life (but battery packs can be purchased), lacks a second circle pad, which could be helpful (but this can also be purchased as an add on), and the 3D can be painful to some viewers.

So, the question is: which should you buy? Generally speaking, if you want more T and M rated games, go for the Vita. If you’re looking for E rated titles, get the 3DS. More specifically, how important is 3D to you? How important is a back touch pad? Do you need 3G, or would you prefer the Spotpass and Streetpass features instead? Both systems are very different, and each one targets a different audience. Which audience you fall in, I can’t answer for you.

If you found this post (or other posts) helpful, please leave a follow and a like! It’s very much appreciated. Also, check out the Let’s Play channels in the “Links” tab, and I’ll see you next time!
Matt Shiflet


9 thoughts on “PS Vita Vs. 3DS: Little Handhelds, Big Differences”

      1. I know this is late, but Minecraft is coming to the PS VITA but not 3DS(why). If I lied then notch herself lied too.

      2. I think it’s probably because of the capabilities and graphics of the systems; the vita can handle it, but the 3DS cant. Also, you are probably aware of how crappy Nintendo’s 3rd party support is, so it’s not that big a surprise for me.

  1. As someone who owns both consoles (although I haven’t had my Vita for long), I can say they’re both great systems. The 3DS has better games, while the PS Vita is better for people with PS3′ and PS4’s (the PS3 also supported remote play, but it was optional to include, so few companies did. The only one that I thought looked good was Lego Batman 1). I also prefer the backwards-comaptability on the Vita. I can download PSOne titles, which came out at the same time as the N64. The 3DS can play N64 titles (like the remastered Zelda: Orcarina of Time, but none of them are on the store) but none are on the store. It’s good that in can play DS games without having to rebuy them though.
    3DS for kids and lots of games.
    PS Vita for more teenager and adult games and PS4 owners. Also Playstation Now is a new streaming service for old games, including PS3 games.

    1. I think with PlayStation Now coming out, it’ll definitely give more people a reason to buy a Vita, possibly myself included. I wanted the Vita over the 3DS at first, but then, slowly but surely, the 3DS library fleshed out much better than its opponent’s. But now with ps4 remote play, and PlayStation Now, I’ll be considering a Vita this Christmas for sure

  2. Good day! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your articles.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go
    over the same topics? Thanks a lot!

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