These days, there’s more to buying a video game system than just putting your money down on the unit itself. Accessories and peripherals have been doing booming business this generation, and cases for handheld devices are surely the most-wanted of all of those items. They’re also the most necessary, protecting our expensive investments from the damage that can result from traveling. After all, it’s tough to argue against a reasonably priced protective enclosure for something like a PS Vita. Folks who purchased one of those touch-enabled beauties can look to Thrustmaster for some interesting hard shell options, which will do a good job of securing their precious cargo.
When the Vita launched in late February, Sony released its starter set, which contained a carrying case and other helpful items. Shortly afterwards, the folks from Thrustmaster launched their three item line-up of officially licensed encapsulating carriers, including the elegant Very Important Player (V.I.P.) case, along with the manly Special Player Forces (SPF) case and its yellow Uncharted-themed variation. Ranging in price from $24.99 to $34.99 USD, each member of the inanimate trio is marketed towards a different type of gamer. There’s the classy clam shell for those who’d like something basic and sleek, the military style protective briefcase and one themed after the system’s most talked-about North American launch title.
I recently got my grubby hands on the V.I.P. and S.P.F. models, so I thought I’d give you folks an idea of what to expect from the two third-party accessories.
Gamers who want something basic yet interesting-looking will find that the Very Important Player case is right up their alley. It features a no-nonsense clam shell design, allowing for safety and convenience. Instead of forcing users to go through more than one step in order to put away their digital baby, this design only requires them to make sure that the system is properly secured within its felt cutout. Opening it up, placing the Vita inside and then closing the lid completes the necessary process, which is made easier by hinges that close with authority. A ribbon strap that pushes the handheld upwards for a safe withdrawal is also included, eliminating any perceived hassle.
The major benefit of this case is its aforementioned ease of use. Since it’s only slightly larger than the Vita itself, there won’t be much of an issue fitting the V.I.P. case into your pocket or a cramped luggage bag. As a result of those benefits and the fact that it’s priced the lowest of the three, this V.I.P. model will most-likely be the most popular item from this accessory line. After all, people are drawn to things that look nice, and a black clam shell case with silver PlayStation Vita lettering on its top portion happens to fit that bill. Plus, having a felt screen protector on the roof of the interior of the case is a huge bonus.
Although this case is quite well-made, there is one downside to it that might worry folks like me. As a clean freak, my ideal handheld protector is air tight, providing protection from dust. Despite springs that close in manly fashion, the V.I.P. case felt like it could’ve shut a bit tighter. After closing it and pressing down for good measure, I noticed that there was still a slight opening around its middle region. Most gamers probably won’t care about this, especially since one of the first-party cases has an even larger opening. However, it’s something that I felt was important to mention for dust haters like myself.
Inspired by the military, this machismo contraption is built to resemble a heavy duty army briefcase. A black exterior shell and locking clasps further that feel, but it’s the protective padding inside that really sells the homage. Belief must obviously be suspended in order to see a video game accessory as a military case, but there’s a neat resemblance to be found. The foam sort of looks like the type of soft interior padding that would be used to transport explosives that wouldn’t handle bumps well, much like the PS Vita. As its box suggests, this one is for the shooter fans among us, as well as those who want an extra level of protection. The latter aspect is made available thanks to shock protection qualities.
As an added bonus, slots for several Vita games are included at the top of this unit, which is a definite asset. Eliminating the need for individual game cases, no matter how small they happen to be, will have a noticeable impact on your travel load. Plus, this way, you’ll know where the games are at all times. There’s no risk of dropping a game while on the go.
The first time I set eyes on Thrustmaster‘s Vita cases, I figured that the V.I.P. model would be for me. Its simple, elegant and sturdy design seemed like a great fit, but I actually liked the S.P.F. case better. At first, it didn’t feel as sturdy, but then I saw the padding inside and felt how secure the system was after being inserted into its cut-out. It takes some light pressure to actually secure a Vita into the aforementioned foam, which is something every user will be happy about. I was impressed by how good the fit was, as it wasn’t too tight or anywhere close to being loose. That would’ve been an issue if there wasn’t an extended corner to assist with removing the device from its confines. The design team did a good job creating this one, although I wish the black exterior coating was a bit better-looking. With the system inside and the clasps locked, it ended up feeling quite sturdy after all.
In the end, these two cases are definitely worth looking into for your handheld protecting needs. Regardless of which one suits your play style best, you can rest assured knowing that you’ve made a good choice. Each one has minor drawbacks, but they do their required job well and without any noticeable problems. Plus, both happen to be interference free, meaning that there won’t be a reason to worry about leaving the system on while it’s inside one of the cases.
Combined Rating: 80/100