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All the time I played Final Fantasy VII Rebirth – the second part of the planned trilogy FF7 remakes — I couldn’t stop thinking about replaying the first game from 1997. When the credits roll RebirthI made a difficult decision: How play original? There is no shortage of options. The game has been ported to most modern platforms and I still have the original PlayStation discs (all three). But in the end, I settled on the much-loved but often forgotten video game hardware, the PlayStation Vita. And you know what? This little thing still absolutely rules.

My rekindled love affair with the Vita started because of it FF7, and I went through the game at whistles and starts. But it also blossomed from there. Not only had I forgotten how good the handheld was for playing classic games, especially timesyncs like RPGs, but what a great present it had. Sound forms remains one of the best music games ever made and likes it Hotline Miami, Bastionand Fez Perfect for Vita. I was reacquainted with post-apocalyptic strategy games Tokyo Jungle Mobile and the simplified skateboarding action of the former Olly Olly.

All of these games make sense on the Vita because Sony completely got the hardware. It’s small and light like a handheld, but it doesn’t change in terms of functionality. It’s got all the sticks and buttons you’d expect from a PlayStation device, and – except that those sticks are on the small side – it controls like a PlayStation controller. It even includes a touchscreen for a few games that really benefit from it, like a soccer game Time passes. It’s basically a Switch design from before the Switch even existed, but it’s more rugged because it’s a rugged device. It is an ideal compromise between comfort and performance.

Final Fantasy VII‘s Golden Saucer is more fun on portable.
Image: Square Enix

Even now, in what could perhaps be described as the golden age of handhelds – see: Playdate, Analogue Pocket, Steam Deck (and its clones), as well as the Switch – the Vita still stands out in this regard. The only thing that really comes close is the Switch Lite because of how it slims down and tightens up the original design. But if I want to play a bunch of different games on the go, including those that require a traditional control scheme, the Vita is once again my favorite. Lately I’ve been playing Lumins: An Electronic Symphony it’s hard to imagine doing it comfortably during battles on an exercise bike and while cruising around the steam deck.

Of course, using a Vita in 2024 has its drawbacks. Mostly, it’s about getting new games. The Vita isn’t exactly the right platform for modern developers, and even older (physical) releases can be difficult to get hold of. Whenever I thrift, I see a lot of Nintendo DS games, but a Vita cartridge is a rare sight, and while you can buy digital games in the Vita store, Sony has made the process more tedious than it needs to be. Still, it was worth wandering through the different menus so I could get it Parasite Evei plan to play right after FF7. Unfortunately, the classic games are mostly straight ports without any of the quality-of-life tweaks found in modern releases.

Indeed, the Vita is a good lesson that just because a company moves on from a gaming platform doesn’t mean you have to. Nothing about the hardware or its games feels particularly dated. And since there are so many Vita games out there, along with old PSone games I want to replay, there are plenty of Vita games I never got around to, so I don’t bother choosing. In just a few weeks, I built quite a queue; after Parasite EveI have the original on my list Suicoden and Personality games. These aren’t Vita-exclusive games – they feel better there.