Gallery: a visual tour of the PlayStation Vita

We're counting down the days until the PS Vita launches — Dec. 17 in Japan and Feb. 22 in North America and Europe — and we can't help but feel that Sony's polished the device off a bit since we last played it the summer.

With the launch inching closer and closer, we can finally show you some close-ups of the PS Vita (Sony's been stingy about photo shoots with it). And in typical DVICE fashion, we toted a bunch of other gadgets including a Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Portable (original model) BlackBerry PlayBook and LG Nitro HD to size the PS Vita up against. Get ready for a visual tour!

I've had the honor of playing the PS Vita on several occasions and each time I wrap my small-ish hands around the device, I walk away craving the device even more. As a person who picked up the PSP when it first launched (yes, I have Riddddgeee Raaaacerrr), I was floored by its multifunctions. The PSP brought near-PlayStation 2 quality games (at least graphically), a huge 4.3-inch display (higher than any portable device in 2005) and real online multiplayer gaming.

As a daily commuter, I loved the little PSP, and despite its huge success in Asia (hello Monster Hunter!), it dried up pretty quickly here in the States, especially after that horrible PSPgo redesign (later scrapped in favor of the PSP-3000).

The PS Vita is going to launch (at least in North America) with a huge bang, with tons of games — with the largest collection of games available either on launch day or in its launch window. Sure, it's an uber powerful machine with quad-cores and dual cameras, but let's be real — we care about the games.

I can't show you just how impressive these games look, or how great they feel — you'll have to trust me on this one — but let's just say I had so much fun playing during my two-hour hands-on that I deleted almost all the games on my iPhone 4 to make way for them.

Of the dozen or so games I tested, I enjoyed these the most: Resistance: Burning Skies (secondary weapon fire with touchscreen!), Escape Plan (a funny little black and white puzzle-solving game that uses the touchscreen to guide a solemn dude from one end to the other — with obstacles of course), Lumines (it's back!), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (button mashing with touchscreen taps for instant specials!) and Unit 13 (third-person shooter made by Zipper Interactive (a.k.a. Socom 4 guys).

Impressive as all the games are, I was saddened to hear that developers aren't embracing PS3-PS Vita cross-platform functionality as the WipeOut 2048 dudes are doing. Most games allow you to save your game on either system and load up the game save on any system from the cloud, but that's about it. It's still the beginning days, so we'll see how things shake out with time.

For now, enjoy the close-ups with the PS Vita below. It won't be for another three months until most people will get to buy a one.

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