Fight for the future

Polite Plea: After almost seven years and 7,000 articles, the number of stories is slowing down. Time and developers move on, but I'll always be posting, as the Vita becomes the new Dreamcast.
However, I do need a new Vita as my launch day model is starting to show its age. Please consider clicking an ad to help my new Vita fund!
Once reached, hopefully in time for Christmas, I will remove all adverts, leaving this island of Vita life an ad-free oasis!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sony Japan shows off Vita as a remote player

Back home, Sony has actually kept a recent promise to do more with the Vita. It has put out a new series of online ads, one tutorial and one funny. They show off how to keep on playing PS4 games when others need the TV.

Quite how or why Sony globally didn't take this approach three or four years ago, who knows! With the new value packs out this week, I guess this is about as much as Sony can do with no first party titles to pimp.

Review Demon Gaze II

Good news Demon Gaze fans, Kadokawa and Experience haven't fucked this up! I seriously loved the original DG back in 2014. But, since then, pretty much every DRPG (Lost Dimension, Operation Abyss, Ray Gigant etc.) I've tried has messed about with the basics, added some stupid rules, impenetrable plot or weird twist or mechanic that made me hate them with extra bile.

The recent Mary Skelter from Idea Factory/Compile Heart restored some sanity and disorder, now Demon Gaze II keeps the back-to-basics trend rolling. There are a few tiny tweaks, but otherwise, this could have come out in 2014 and slurped on the massive success of DG, which sold over 180K thanks to its global appeal, probably well over 200/250K by now.

That's not to say DG or the sequel, are some boundary-pushing, genre-busting classics. Instead, in both games, you get a solid RPG adventure with a likeable cast and speedy gameplay. Nothing fancy or overtly whacky.

Styx and the City

While some of the cast follow on from No.1 and the scenery is pretty much interchangeable, the sequel has moved downtown. With such locales as Star Temple, Business District, Dragonwood Park, Royal Castle the perfect city of Asteria has a dark underbelly with its ruler relying on demonic forces to keep things quiet and under his thumb.

Each level plays home to a set of demon circles that you need to capture at which point the end of level battle is your next port of call. Defeat a demon and she can be bound the Demon Gazer's side (that's you). As a party, choosing from 16 demons, you can build a team that can take on the worst of the dungeons.

Battles are short and swift, with a range of physical or magical attacks, following the usual elemental rules. If things get tricky, turning the girls into demons will up your firepower, depending on how much juice is in the Star Guage. Familiar features like auto-route on the map, help you get around fast and quick battle will zoom you through minor encounters. Along the way, hidden skulls to collect for Prometh and mushrooms for the guy in the store provide secrets to find and extras to track down.

Every now and again, a major UMF creature will threaten the city and help advance the plot along, but this is really just a game to enjoy for the dungeon raids and a spot of grinding to take down the next demon.

Demonology one-on-one

If you want to get to know your demons a little better, you can take them out on dates and give them presents to improve their performance. One tacky but very minor addition is Maintainance mode where you need to prod them in the right spot, but it is so unsexy that you have to wonder what the point was.

You can bunk your demons in rooms on the second floor of Stella's House to make them happier, and decorate their and your room with furniture to increase some skills. As part of a rebellion, the radio studio in the basement provides a more entertaining diversion with the team putting out nicey-nicey shows to bring down the oppressors. This helps boost the Revolution score, but battling is the only way to progress.

Out on the streets, you can grind by auto-map running and speed battling through any level a few times. There are also locked doors on each level for a fair bit of retreading later on. Some random running around is needed, as gems are rarer than in the previous game. That's presumably to make eager gamers buy the in-app purchases.

Still, it is not pushy or in your face. What is of concern is this game is about three years too late to ride the Demon Gaze wave, and while there's a PS4 version, players are saying the game looks poor on a big screen, so what was the point? Whatever comes next, faster and with more focus please Experience/NISA!

Aside from the pointless nod to fan service, a few gripes remain, you still can't go through a door sideways - really? Auto-map stops when you run over a trap, and every character does an annoying squeal, also when you're trying to find hidden areas, didn't any tester say that was slightly annoying? And in some early battles, the enemy will constantly respawn reinforcements which can be a big pain for beginners.

Those aside, if you just want to romp in the dungeons, beating the bejeezus out of all kinds of weird monsters, this is a great slice of fun. But I think sharing romantic gazes down the halls of the demons isn't much of a thing now.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £34.99 (Amazon or PSN)
NIS America
File size 1.1GB
Progress: Deeper underground

UK Chart update and latest Famitsu reviews

Chart time and in the randomest thing ever, 2014's Sorcery Saga leaps out of nowhere to be the UK retail Vita No. 1. I guess that sold 50 copies to Demon Gaze II's 48. Perhaps there was a sale on, although the game is £19.99 on Amazon.

UPDATE: Game had a sale on with copies down to a few quid! That deal has now ended.

1 Re-entry Sorcery Saga: Curse Of Great Curry God
2 New entry Demon Gaze II
3 1 Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
4 3 Minecraft: Playstation Edition
5 2 Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified
6 17 Akiba's Beat Acquire Corporation
7 6 Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
8 4 Assassin's Creed Chronicles
9 5 Chaos;Child
10 16 Farming Simulator 18

Last week's UK chart data and last week's Media Create Japanese chart

In Japan, the weekend news that Atlus is bringing Valkyrie Chronicles 4 to Switch will be no surprise, but is another subtle nudge toward commercial irrelevance for the Vita.

Still, Famitsu has updated its most-wanted list, with a few Vita games still gaining attention. Square's Romancing Saga 3 leads the way and the ever-popular science VN series getting more love with Anonymous;Code.

13. Romancing SaGa 3 – 191 votes
21. Ushiro – 125 votes (PSP)
28. Anonymous;Code – 91 votes

Also out are the latest Famitsu reviews with Rejet's otome Usotsuki Shangri-La 7/7/7/8 (29) out on the 30th and visual novel Chouchou Jiken Rhapsodic 8/8/8/8 (32) keeping the Vita flag flying.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Licky Lizard gets a sticky patch

Licky the Lucky Lizard (review) is one of the more insane games of the year of Vita. If you were worried about performance of this endless climber, can't say I noticed any issues, there's a new patch out to keep things running smoothly.

Remember to support your one-man and smaller dev teams folks, as they're soon all we could have left. Unity has moved way past the Vita, and with the likes of GameMaker Studio 2 not supporting Vita (Juna Ranger is just one game we lost in this way) their efforts will take more work using older less-supported versions to come to Sony's portable, but if we don't buy what's on the market now, they won't even bother in future.

Virtual On Magical Index opening movie

The last game from Sega for the Vita? Seems likely, but the Virtual On meets a Certain Magical Index crossover should get a decent reception, arriving mid-February. A decent theme song in "Get Ready" guides us through the usual roster of mechs and supernatural-powered students.

Some of the ACMI crew featured in Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax if you're not used to that anime, and this isn't the first crossover, there was a PSP game that mixed them up with the Scientific Ensemble team.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ice Cream Surfer soft scooping to the Vita

Once a Wii U game three years ago, Ice Cream Surfer is making a comeback, including on the Vita. Dolores Entertainment from Barcelona is at the helm of this shooter, where a mad range of heroes must ride the ice cream of their choice to take on a world of strange veg and animals. Other than that, I know nothing!

WindJammers CE physical revealed by Limited Run

The who-knew-we-needed-it WindJammers game proved a big summer hit on the Vita and PS4. now there's a Windjammers Collector's Edition from Limited Run for completionists or frisbee fiends. It includes the game, a soundtrack CD, 18 x 24-inch poster, and a proper frisbee in a gate-fold box with a die-cut slipcover.

Only 2,500 of each version will be made and the cost is a whopping $64.99.

Vita might not be at PSX but a handful of games are there

Thanks to Cross Play, Cross Buy and/or pure developer tenacity, a handful of games that are coming to Vita will be on show at PlayStation Experience in December. Sony has just released the attendee list, but cunningly fails to mention Vita in any form.

Sure, these games might be showing on PS4 hardware, there might not be a Vita logo anywhere in sight, and Sony security will probably confiscate any portables, but the games are still coming.

First up, as just announced, there's Russian Subway Dogs from Spooky Squid.

Games we already know a lot about are Konjak's Iconoclasts, Hopoo's Deadbolt and YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, while a version of EarthNight is still on the cards (Cleaversoft say it is still in their plans).

Update: Luc Bernard and Arcade Distillery will be there too, I guess this is where they will reveal their new game!

Then there's the impressive looking Children of Morta, which is still confirmed for a Vita release.

Last month, Sekai confirmed that Fault Milestone One is still coming to the Vita, likely along with World End Economica and probably a few more titles (Root Double?), but with this company throwing releases around it can be hard to tell.

Games I'm still checking on include A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher while browsing the show list for any new titles that may have sneaked in. Let me know if I've missed anything.

I guess the scary thing here is that a lot of these games started showing up in 2015, which demonstrates how long the process is for smaller developers. The scarier thing is Sony can't just admit that it has a little handheld that lots of people love, and dedicate a small corner to it and the many games still to come!

Russian Subway Dogs bark at the Vita

Okay, I guess if your development studio is called Spooky Squid, you aren't going to release an ordinary game. So, let's meet Russian Subway Dogs from a Canadian team. In this pixel arcade fest, your post-soviet pooch must steal food, avoid the people and wildlife to survive and wrack up points.

We've all seen enough viral videos of animals on subways, so it is only fair that the dogs of the Moscow Metro get their own game, and fun it looks. Due out in 2018, it mixes fun and insanity with a particular charm set against the ornate underground. Can't wait to give it a go!

As if often the indie way, along with the dogs and other animals, there are a host of guest appearances by characters from other games to watch out for! More info on the official site.

Ratalaika publishing retro-platformer "0000" on Vita

Is this the most retro game to hit the Vita yet? The first of Ratalaikia's publishing projects for 2018, "0000" from Alvarop is an almost ZX-81-style "hard as nails" platformer. Featuring one-bit mode visuals, you play a cowboy sent to beat 100 levels of tricky jumps and traps, packed with spikes, lasers, spiders, the usual!

Fail and you are randomly dumped on another level, until you have beaten them all and then get to replay it all again in hardcore mode (without dying for the trophy!!!!). With a level editor and multiplayer race mode, it might not look much, but everything is in the gameplay.

The game is also getting a PS4 release, official site here.  Ratalaika also has three more games on the way, check the release list for the vaguest of hints!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

12 minutes of Xenon Valkyrie+ gameplay on Vita

Demetrios developer Cowcat is bringing Diabolical Mind's Xenon Valkyrie+ to the Vita soon, a game that's packing spritely rogue and RPG elements. If you like the idea of permadeath, randomised levels and multiple routes, endings and many secrets, this could be heaven. Or hell, as you battle into a moon of fire and ice to defeat a wicked witch and her massive boss minions.

This is a game of a diminutive hero in epic landscapes, with epic battles to fight. Originally a PC release, the Vita version has plenty of refinements to it. Check out some 12 minutes of early gameplay from the Vita version, there are more pics and art at last month's announce news.

Occultic;Nine takes 15th in Japan as Vita sales reach a new low

The Vita sold 3,210 in Japan last week, a new low for the handheld ahead of the arrival next week of the new not-at-all-value packs. That might give sales a tiny boost, if there's anyone left who wants one.

New entry Occultic;Nine and its massively-chested cover art managed 15th place for the Vita at 4,600 units some way behind the PS4 version at No. 11 with 5,850, a bit strange for a visual novel, but showing the tilting balance in Japan. On the plus side it sold a lot more than the Xbox One X managed!

Va-11 Hall-A is out this week with a physical release. Given the amount of interest for the game, hopefully, it will spring a sales surprise. Beyond that we have a host of visual novels or oddities including Butterfly Case, Secret Night Club and Amenity's Life Then things quieten down over December before picking up in 2018, for the Vita's last hurrah! See you on the other side.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ratalaika announce MetaGal for the Vita

Continuing to support the Vita very well, Ratalaika is bringing Steam title MetaGal to the Vita and PS4. Released last year by RetroRevolution, it is popular among the speed running fraternity, with plenty of videos online showing off blistering runs and top technique.

You will take on the role of "Meta" part-cyborg all-girl, in her quest to rescue her Creator Doctor Ray from the clutches of General Creeper and his rogue army.

Metagal's sisters, were also kidnapped by Creeper and transformed into battle cyborgs. Meta must face her sisters, free them, and copy their abilities with eight stages of intense action before a final showdown.

New Iconoclasts gameplay video

Konjak's Iconoclasts continues to look like a class piece of gaming, and is rapidly nearing launch. Looking like the finest of Metroidvania platformers, there's lots of adventuring and exploring, with a range of skills to learn to tackle the monsters and boss beasts. With seven years of love going into this game expect something very special.

Tokyo Tattoo Girls and Demon Gaze II launch trailers

NIS America is a busy bunny this week with a double launch of Tokyo Tattoo Girls and Demon Gaze II to celebrate. If you played the first Demon Gaze, you'll know the drill with a very slick JRPG sequel with a few new tricks, but nothing much that gets in the way of the gameplay. Review coming soon.

Tokyo Tattoo Girls is a very different beast, with strategy and ink high on the agenda, lots of different takes on this game, can't wait to try it myself. Both titles are out this week. now in America, Friday in Europe.