This year's Tokyo Game Show is going full steam ahead, and handheld consoles are quickly becoming the stars of the show - little surprise given that this generation of home consoles is in decline and the Wii U is still over a year away. While many of the 3DS' big announcements (such as Monster Hunter 4 only coming out for Nintendo's system...as far as we know...) have already hit, Sony has hardly kept mum about the Vita.
At a press event on Tuesday, Sony announced that the Vita will be coming out on December 17th of this year. While we all expected to hear a release date in that window, having the announcement puts a certain finality on it. Sony is sticking to its guns, and the system is coming out this year; whether or not that means it will be out this year outside of Japan is another thing entirely, however. Releasing the system at that time in Japan, then turning it around and releasing it in other regions would be a recipe for massive shortages - and whether that would end up building the system's hype or generally turning gamers off would be a big roll of the dice.
Meanwhile, Sony is being very clear to stress the line-up of games coming out for its new handheld. Reports indicate there will be no fewer than twenty-four PS Vita titles on display in one form or another at TGS 2011, and that the system will have a hefty launch line-up when it releases in Japan. This is good news for gamers who have been burned by consoles that launch with a measly selection of games (not pointing any fingers here - just about every console maker in history has been guilty of that offence). No announcements were made regarding the launch date or lineup for regions outside of Japan.
Sony also showed off the Vita's ability to stream games from the PS3 in a manner similar to the Wii U's newfangled controller, and released details about the system's battery life and memory pricing. The Vita should get about 3-5 hours of battery life for gameplay (more for the system's other functions), and memory cards will cost anywhere from $29 US for 4 GB to $124 US for 32 GB - a significant premium over an SD card. Meanwhile, the system will launch in Japan for $390 US for the 3G model and $325 for the Wi-Fi only version.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the Tokyo Game Show 2011 as we hear it.