Friday, January 19, 2018

Japanese trailer trash Friday, girls, guitars and trains

Rounding up the week with the latest trailers from Japan. We start off with another clip for Sega's Certain Magical Virtual-On in which we meet the impossibly squeaky RVR-14/VSL Fei-Yen Kn.

Next up is Nippon Ichi's Four Knight Princesses Training Story landing in March, this clip is mostly dull character and map shots, but a few action scenes all led off by a corker of a guitar track.
 From earlier in the week (if you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen this one) we have Prototype's latest visual novel, An' call Belle, with its suspicious train-fetish.

Bandai put up a live stream of Digimon Hacker's Memory

Digimon Cybersleuth Hacker's Memory is out now on Vita and PS4 around the world and Bandai in the US put up a live stream to welcome the game. There's plenty of gameplay and chat over the show with a mix of western and JP footage. (It is not live on EU PSN yet, but keep an eye out).

If you're a bit poor, the very similar playing original Cybersleuth is only £6.49 on the EU PSN store, but that offer ends today, so be quick.

Tecmo Japan shows off Attack on Titan 2 running on Vita

The gap between Attack on Titan (Wings of Freedom in the west) on the Vita and consoles was one of the first big signs that Sony's portable was running out of gas, and Koei isn't bringing the Vita version of Attack on Titan 2 west. Sure, it doesn't look pretty but it still seems playable!

But you could still import the sequel from Japan, as the controls and tactics look largely the same, with some new weapons and presumably the latest tales to explain why we're still whacking the great big lomping giants. The sequel still looks pretty playable, albeit with lots of popup visible and the muddiest of textures going on. But with most of the surviving cast returning, it carries on the story alongside the anime. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Defender's Quest launch trailer

Tower defence games seem a bit thin on the ground since the heady days of FieldRunners, with a few titles popping up to keep fans happy. Most recently was Aegis of Earth, perhaps the world just moved on.

Arriving in February from Level Up Labs, Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten DX, an update to a 4/5 year old game. First mentioned last summer, is a tower defence and RPG hybrid pixel game that focuses on three things. You must learn the game's tactical depth, become a master of customization, and enjoy the story.

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms reversible covers and English screens

Idea Factory is bringing Edo period romance visual novel Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms our way in mid March. The physical edition will feature a reversible cover for your own choice of sword- or gun-wielding studly types. They are the object of young Chizuru's affection, determined to find her father, she must romance these famous warriors through a series of engaging stories and dramatic events.

IF also has a first batch of English screens. Featuring Hijikata, a "Demon Vice Commander" of the Shinsengumi who has to cope with Shinsengumi's fracturing after losing the Battle of Toba-Fushimi in Kyoto. In the face of shifting tides, the normally stern disciplinarian begins to let his softer side shine through, but maintains his integrity as a warrior.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Persona Dancing boxset jives for Japanese gamers

Hopefully, we'll get something like this when the new Persona dancing Moon and Star games head our way. But if you want the Japanese version you can grab the Persona Dancing Deluxe Twin Plus set from PlayAsia for just over £105.
The set comprises four CDs with over sixty tracks, a set of DLC costumes and the full physical release games.

Ready for another round of Digimon stories? New Hacker's Memory trailer

Bandai Namco America has popped up a fresh launch story trailer for the new Cyber Sleuth Hacker's Memory release, out this week. The first game was brilliant fun and this new story, with a few new Digimon, should give it another lease of life to Eden and the strange digital world that's leeching into modern Tokyo.

Vita sales are "back in the room" in Japan

Down with a bump as Media Create sees Vita sales fall to 4,388 for last week, back down to where it was for most of last year. With a nod to irony, one-time PSP exclusive Final Fantasy Dissidia NT is the only new entry for PS4, selling 100K, and all eyes are on Monster Hunter World for next week's charts. Ah, the memories! Minecraft remains the only Vita game on show.

Last week's dataNote, I've aligned the chart to match weeks, as 2017 had a crossover week with skewed holiday sales.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Studio Ravenheart shows off Seraphim

Twitter followers will have seen plenty of teasing glimpses of Studio Ravenheart's Seraphim, developed in Unity 5, looking all techno and virtual in the form of lots of short GIFs. Here's a longer look the developers have kindly sent over showing the shooter in action on a proper Vita screen.

With its slightly ethereal meets Transformers in The Matrix look, the game is set in an abstract celestial realm. You assume the role of a great otherworldly being, defending planets from invading sentient matter. Blasting comets from your six mighty wings as cosmic constructs surround you looks like a tough challenge among all the visual bling. If all goes well it could easily sit at the top table of cool Vita shooters.

The dev's last tweet was "Working a new level of polish for #Seraphim! Expect a more dopamine-inducing experience! I'll tweet update on every change!" So expect it to look even better on release, and follow @RavenheartRex for all the latest news.

Bandai shows off Gintama Rumble on the Vita

If memory serves, pretty much all the footage up until now has been from the PS4 version, but to settle expectations, Bandai has just popped up a video of the Vita version of the musou game, and, to be fair, it looks pretty smooth, if a little down on the numbers of whack-a-moles and less glossy effects, as we'd expect.

Even so, Gintama Rumble looks pretty impressive. Is the brand big enough to make a major dent in the Japanese chart? Not long to wait to find out, as the game is out next week.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Vita sales perk up in Japan

As the Media Create chart company catches up with business post-holiday, we get another set of sales data this week, from the 1st of January to the 8th, giving us a very neat sales year. Vita sales shot up 4,000 on the previous week to nearly 12,000 units not too down last year.

The only Vita game around is still Minecraft, making a welcome return to the top 20, selling another 9K. Having cruised past the 1.25 million physical sales mark, its job is done!

Note, I've aligned the chart to match weeks, as 2017 had a crossover week with skewed holiday sales. (and the 2018 green line is zeroed just to make it obvious)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review Super Hydorah

Somewhere, there's a universe where R-Type and Raiden came to the Vita in arcade perfect form, and I'm a happy gamer. But stuck in this reality, Super Hydorah makes a welcome appearance for fans of retro shooters. It can easily sit alongside the likes of Sine Mora, Soldner, Sky Force and many others as a challenging, high-quality, blast.

Be warned though, Super Hydorah is hard, very hard. And even with unlimited continues, and a range of lasers, bombs and missiles at your disposal, you'll (if you're as bad as me) be hitting the same brick wall enemies again and again and again, until you get that lucky break or master the boss. But in the levels that I have played, this is superb fun, with deeply-detailed little pixel ships and spot-on sound effects and gorgeous detailing on each level.

Visually, we have pure-pixel fun here with no forced or pseudo-3D, and a scanline mode to make it look even more retro, if you like that kind of thing. Super Hydorah starts off at the Outer Wall of the enemy empire, with that typical Nemesis-style first couple of waves. We then roll into a series of caves, with asteroids to dodge and secret routes to find. There's some height to the level, so you can race up and down to find cover, or blast the most dangerous enemies first.

A few plays of the early levels and you learn where to go and how to fight. The early bosses aren't too bad, but take a little effort to dodge their fire patterns and keep an aim on the vulnerable spots. New weapons are awarded as you progress and power-ups confer shields, stronger lasers and other goodies.

As you progress, multiple routes through the game open up, but, like I said, its tough. Most ground enemies track you relentlessly while the flying ones stick to fixed patterns, making it easy to prioritise, as long as you can dodge their combined fire.

Into Cyclades, a human outpost where you lose points if you hit friendly installations. While there are plenty of power-ups around, there's also bats and even the local greenery and aquatic life taking pot-shots at you, adding subtle new dimensions to the battle. In total, there are 21 levels divided into 35 sublevels, with bosses for each and over 100 enemy types to discover and beat.

All of that is fine, but being sent back to the start of the sub-level, again and again, gets pretty depressing after a while. And using the continues sends you back to the start of the whole level, which is probably too much punishment for what's otherwise a fine game. If you do finish the level you get a rating and can replay them to find hidden extra lives, or secrets.

So, you need to be super-good or super-lucky to get very far into the game, and judging by the trophy distribution, few players are really seeing the best the game has to offer. Some sort of tourist mode in an update might be a good idea.

Footage of the further levels shows wondrous alien worlds, crystal asteroid belts and giant space fleets, all with further imaginative enemies and local wildlife, all to the spacey tunes of Gryzor87's excellent soundtrack. 

There's also a bonus game Robot Chase, for those times when you're really stuck and need to de-stress. Here, you twin-stick control a pair of space robots, linked by a laser rope, if they're close enough. This can cut up the floating enemies, so you need to move each one independently to create waves of destruction, or just dodge long enough to survive, great fun and a welcome bonus.

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £15.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Locomalito/Abylight
File size 186MB
Progress: Skutter of death

Kemco brings Dragon Sinker to the Vita

Dragon Sinker: Descendants of Legends is coming, thanks to Kemco and CXC Create. A modern RPG built in the 8-bit style, it offers dinky pixel graphics, chiptune sounds and plainish worlds to explore. Bolted onto that are three teams of adventurers to manage, jobs and classes, multiple endings and a few other bells and whistles.

However, as a mobile port, from a company that churns them out, I get the feeling its pretty much stock fare with little imagination or depth of plot.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Vita sales back on the slide in Japan, how low will she go?

All hardware sales are down in Japan as the year ends for the Media Create sales, but the Vita's drop back to below 8,000 isn't just a weekly back-to-normal mark. This year it sold just 38,000 over the last four weeks compared to 145,000 last year. That suggests there won't be a Vita on the shelves come next Christmas, or at least one in any meaningful numbers. 

All of which puts the onus on software, and while Vita games sell, only a few charted with any impact in 2017. Still, as long as there's interest and a sizeable user base, presumably the Japanese mainstay developers will keep going, and the odd delight like Catherine will turn up.

On the plus side, PSO2 announced topping 1.5 million Vita downloads this week, according to Sega, with "the number of client downloads of "Phantasy Star Online 2" PlayStation Vita version exceeded 1.5 million on January 7, 2018 (Sunday)."

Also, there seems to be a bit more activity among Japanese indies recently, which could provide some welcome support. Enjoy it while it lasts folks! Then again, if Microsoft will still put Xbox out there, selling 400 a week, who knows how low and long the Vita might cling on for.

Up next is musou-fest Gintama Rumble from Bandai, which managed to score 33/40 in the latest Famitsu magazine. And here's the latest advert for it.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Truth, Little Red Lie drops this week

Released around six months ago on PC, Little Red Lie from Will O'Neill (of Actual Sunlight fame) sneaks out of nowhere on to PSN this week. Billed as "A contemporary adventure about debt, family, and the truth about honesty." Its a short interactive adventure focused on the debt between generations and how our futures could be ruined and manipulated.

In the plush suburb of Scarborough, Toronto, you get to explore the contrasting characters and stories of Sarah Stone and Arthur Fox through a wide variety of deceptions. And nothing else, thanks to constant lies.