Sony will release its PlayStation Vita in North America on February 22, though you can own one as early as February 15 if you’re willing to pony up some extra dollars for the First Edition bundle. You can actually try one out as soon as right this very moment, or however long it takes for you to get to your local GameStop store.
A press release reveals that Vita demo stations are now up and running in more than 3,300 GameStop locations. If you’ve seen in-store demo kiosks for other consoles and handhelds then you know what to look for. A number of games are available for you to try out, including Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Little Deviants, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, FIFA Soccer, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, Virtua Tennis: World Tour Edition, Escape Plan and wipEout 2048.
This is a smart move by Sony, no question. The PlayStation Portable seemed like the Next Big Thing before it came out, but certain technical drawbacks (we’re looking at you, single analog nub) and a sparse library of true quality games saw the Nintendo DS overtake it. The Vita now arrives in a market that is home to a brand new and increasingly popular Nintendo handheld; anything Sony can do to let gamers actually check out the physical reality of the Vita will be a big help, especially with the diverse assortment of games being demoed at these kiosks. I’ve played or seen most of them in action, and they represent a good cross-section of what you can expect from the little handheld.