L2 / R2 Button Grip Review

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With every gaming system, or electronic system in general, there is always something that is wanted more than what is already there.  Take the PSP, for example.  It had the basics for the PlayStation controls, but it had a few things missing.  Many in that generation wished for the Analog Nub to be an actual analog stick, as well as a second analog stick.  With the release of the PS Vita, they got their wish.

Now, new systems aren’t always the only thing that can add features that gamers want.  There are also some technical accessories that can do the job.  The PSP got this with the Camera Accessory.  With the PS Vita, this is also there in effect.  As we think of all of the things people wanted that the Vita doesn’t have, we focus our thoughts on triggers.  There are a lot of games that would work better with actual L2 and R2 triggers on the Vita, especially Remote Play.

Within the past few weeks, some Vita owners were granted that wish.  An overseas developer called Joetsu has developed a special grip accessory to enable play with L2 and R2 buttons.  Having released exclusively for the PS Vita Slim Model, here is my official review of the L2/R2 Grip!

Design

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The grip is designed to be shaped similarly to a controller that uses a PS Vita Slim as the central mechanism.  It is an open plastic piece of equipment that the PS Vita snaps into and is designed to hold much like a Dual Shock 3 controller with shorter hand grips on the left and right side.  On the front is an open area the Vita goes into with small plastic nodes sticking out to help hold the system in place.  On the back is an open area in the middle to showcase part of the rear touch screen along with covered areas around the two triggers.

The top and bottom are the most interesting, though.  The bottom has convenient holes to not cover up the Memory Card slot, Micro USB Port, and Headphone jack.  The top has the L2 and R2 triggers as well as covered areas behind them that cover up where the mechanism and the pressure pads are.  The pressure pads themselves and placed just below where the camera on the system is, each touching the left and right upper areas of the rear touch screen.

The triggers themselves are shaped and move like the triggers do on the Dual Shock 3 PS3 controller.  The main difference is that they’re made of a silver-colored metal, so they do feel a little different than plastic triggers on other controllers.

Performance

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As far as performance is concerned, there are two areas to cover: Hardware and Software.  The PS Vita will click into the grip with pretty decent ease.  You have to put the top on first and, once it clicks in place, it has a pretty firm grip on the system.  One corner will remain slightly loose to help you take the grip off if need be.  All in all, though, it goes into the grip cover with ease.  Getting the system out, however, requires some patience.  Every time I’ve tried to take it out, it will come out, but it will feel stuck and I’ll feel like I’m about to snap the cover in half.

Holding onto the grip is very comfortable.  Despite the hand grips being shorter than on the main PlayStation controllers, the feel settles in very easily and quickly.  I wasn’t using it for 5 minutes before it felt comfortable, as if I were used to using it for days, if not longer.  All of the ports and compartments are still shown and accessible with relative ease, other than the Rear Touch Screen, which I will explain in just a moment.

Performance in games for this grip is exceptional.  Aside from Remote Play, there are other types of games that use these upper regions of the rear touch screen for control input.  In my testing this week, I’ve played PlayStation Now, PS One Classics, as well as a host of Vita-native games with this grip with a lot of success.  When you press the triggers, the game will respond immediately, as if they had been designed into the Vita, itself.  In all honesty, these triggers work with better accuracy than tapping the rear touch screen with your finger.

As I said above, Remote Play isn’t the only thing you can use this for.  It works magnificently for PlayStation Now games as well as PS One Classics that use the L2 and R2 triggers, like Metal Gear Solid and The Misadventures of Tron Bonne.  As far as Vita-native games go, the main game that improves from this is Borderlands 2.  With the grip, it is a lot easier to play without having to tap the rear touch screen or accidentally graze it with your finger.  Other games benefit from this as well, such as opening chests in God of War Collection and moving the camera in Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention.

The biggest thing of note is that you won’t want this accessory on all the time.  There is a large section of the rear touch screen open when you have the grip on your Vita, but it is very hard to reach and swipe this section.  Because of this, you’ll need to remove the grip whenever you need to play a game that requires rear touch controls that do not involve tapping the top areas of the screen, like Tearaway or LittleBigPlanet.

Summary

All in all, the L2/R2 Button Grip does a magnificent job of incorporating extra triggers to a PS Vita Slim.  On the downside, it’s very hard to use the rear touch screen with this on and it is a hassle to try to get your Vita out of the grip.  If you’ve got a Slim and regularly use Remote Play, PlayStation Now, PS One Classics, or Borderlands 2, though, this is a must-have accessory.

8/10

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