Thursday, April 26, 2018

Mixed Bag's first image of new Vita game

Italian developer Mixed Bag has one more game left in its impressive arsenal for the Vita. We don't know what it is called yet, but the company has just shown off a first running-on-Vita image of what looks like a pixel puzzle game.

A closer look reveals tiles, lighting effects, possibly explosions and maybe a blog. Whatever, given their epic work on Futuridium and forma.8, the new game should drip with class! A more formal reveal is expected soon. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Vita has a new flatline in Japan

Vita sales for the last three weeks have peppered the 2,900 line with pinpoint accuracy. That's created a neat new flatline, which presumably is the trend for the year. Is that enough to keep the factory churning them out into 2019? Guess we'll find out when the PS+ support ends what Sony plans to do with this rapidly ageing hardware platform.

On the games side of the Media Create chart, Nippon Ichi's tanks and dudes title Metal Max Xeno sneaks into the top 10, selling 15K on PS4 at No. 7 and 8,355 on the Vita at No. 9. 

Interestingly, the game's producer claimed 50K total sales after just two days, showing how strong digital sales are now. So, perhaps the real figure is closer to 18K on Vita. Hopefully we'll get more detailed information.
【Kono P's tweets】2:25 AM - 20 Apr 2018 Today's a little happy thing ... As of today, the number of domestic sales of Metal Max Xeno has exceeded 50,000. I think that it is still a small step as a charm of the original series ... It is said that the interest from dealers and storefronts is also good. Thank you for your continued support.
Even so, guess we won't be seeing much more effort to reinvigorate the old series. At the top of the chart, Nintendo Labo products battle God of War for the podium places. Pro Jikkyou Baseball is out this week, which should shift a few units as ever.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: League of Evil

Ahh, the peril of one wrong step! League of Evil might sound like a The Asylum low-budget take on a Marvel blockbuster. But, it's a pretty simple game of reactions and learning the right pattern to pass each level.

League of Evil hit iOS back in 2011 from Ravenous Games and has landed on pretty much every platform since, with the Vita release coming at us thanks to Ratalaika and Woblyware. As a cyborg secret super-special agent of the Global Defence Force, you need to infiltrate the League and put an end to whatever plans they are hatching.

Each map has two aims, get to the end and punch a bespectacled man, and find the briefcase. To really be a star in the battle against the League of Evil, you have to do that in the minimum amount of time to earn three stars.

Add that lot together and you get a thousand deaths, misjumps and cock-ups in between the odd cool "wow" moment as you string a series of perfect leaps, punches and dodges together to get through a tough section or sneak in under the time limit.

Our hero has some amazing leaps he can perform, double jumps, sliding down walls, clinging to outcrops, but only one punch move to deal damage to some enemies. They have guns, gun towers, laser grids, ninjas, whirling hammers, spikes and many other hazards that make it all seem a bit unfair, and our hero rather under-equipped.

In the background, a great set of chiptunes keep driving the pace of the game along, and with each level lasting only a few seconds, its hard to get bored of as you try to perfect that last set of leaps.

As a bonus, League of Evil comes with a level editor, allowing you to build your own and share maps with friends. Note, Ravenous and Ratalaika are also combining to bring us Devious Dungeon, which could be more of the same with a fantasy twist.

Cheap and cheerful, this is a perfect blend of compelling action and your inner battle against your calm and patience in the battle to succeed.

Score: 7/10
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Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Ravenous/Woblyware/Ratalaika
File size 43MB
Progress: In the green

Cowcat porting and improving Riddled Corpses for the Vita

As with the mighty Xenon Valkyrie +, Riddled Corpses EX is an updated and improved version of Diabolical Mind's PC original, now headed to PS4 and Vita with Cross Buy. The mighty pairing of Spanish originator and French Breton Fabrice (aka Cowcat) have worked their magic and the game is slated for a Q2 release, i.e., soonish.
Riddled Corpses is now uprated to a smooth 60fps, even on Vita. It offers a retro-style twin-stick shooter across dark wastelands and ruined cities. As well as the speed boost, there's better hit detection, improved combos, a better story mode and other improvements over the original. More importantly, fairer griding takes it more fun, while arcade mode is more arcadey!

Actual Vita screens below!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Review: Rogue Aces

Gaming is rarely as pure when its just you and a feeble fighter plane against a land, sea and sky filled with enemy targets. Enter Rogue Aces from Infinite State, a nod to the likes of Harrier Attack, SWIV and all the other hopeless-odds shooters, most recently Luftrausers.

From the driving guitars on the intro screen, Rogue Aces is fast and furious fun throughout. Take off from your carrier deck and battle across dozens of campaign missions to impose your little slice of a new world order on the land. All before your petrol or ammo runs out!

A little banter from the excellently-mustached boss and its off into the blue yonder, flying what looks like a riff on a P-47 Thunderbolt. Using dual-stick controls, you manage speed with the right stick and direction on the left, with guns assigned to the right trigger and bombs and missiles on the buttons.

Getting used to the controls takes a minute, a set of quick tutorials helps, but mastering them so you can zip around at ground level across the changing landscape or strafe multiple moving targets takes a little longer. Fighters buzz around you in a constant battle, while streams of bombers or zeppelins will hove in on a particular target.

Stay on Target

Tanks and troops roam the land, protecting high-value targets like radar stations or enemy airfields, and naval forces pose a threat to your tinpot carrier. Basically, there's nowhere to hide, but you can steal enemy bases to shorten mission times before death inevitably claims you. Military power (left trigger) can give you a quick boost to get out of sticky situations, unless your engine is damaged.

A normal campaign throws sets of brief mission objectives at you, wave after wave. Frontline campaign sends you across a sprawling series of island challenges, against the clock. Some islands are guarded by a boss enemy Baron plane with faster performance and bigger fricking guns to ruin your day. Master more of the game and you open up the Survival mode or the scary Bomber Defence (oh, and the Credit scene shooter!) .

Gaining XP gives the game the "Rogue" in its title as you can upgrade your craft with better cannons, speed, turning ability and other goodies. The more levels you gain, the more boosts you can use. Shooting down fighters provide parachute crates with extra goodies, but mostly, you'll be desperately trying to avoid the ground and keeping an eye on your target with a quick nod at your damage levels.

Visually, the game is perky with lots of great effects, especially the searchlights at night, plus the rolling day/night cycle and weather, to the constant build up of dead ships and craft littering the landscape. Having played the Switch version, the Vita stands up remarkably well, with smooth play and graphics that are only slightly less crisp. Also, the text is bigger in size on Vita, so more easily readable, something that many developers forget!

Packed with challenge and secrets to find across a good range of mission types, this is simply ace in short bursts. While Rogue Aces might sound hard, there are a few easy tactics to learn that will get you through most situations. Just the one annoyance, you can't carry on a Frontline Campaign at the same times as a regular one, surely a patch can sort that out?

Score: 8/10
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Price: £7.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Infinite State/Curve Digital
File size 83MB
Progress: Shot lots of stuff up

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Musynx brings disco beats to the Vita in June

MUSYNX is a successful mobile tap-tap music game headed to Vita and PS4 on 19 June courtesy of Acttil. It features over 50 tracks across pop, rock, trance, R&B, classical, and more with stylish artwork and beats aplenty as players tap furiously to each track to match the rhythm.

With varying difficulty levels and DLC on the way, it could find a home for those who don't like the excessive fluff of Dancing All Night or Hatsune Miku.

Vita sales clinging on in Japan

Vita sales are almost identical to last week at 2,912, according to the latest Media Create chart data. Things look relatively quiet on the hardware front, with even the Switch falling to a year old of 36K. That's ahead of Golden Week starting at the end of the month, but recent years have shown narrowing boosts in sales, compared to the madness of the PSP era.

Super Robot Wars X sticks in the top 20 on the Vita, selling another 3,340 copies moving it well over 60K. Out this week is Metal Max Xeno on Vita and PS4, which will hopefully prove that Japanese buyers don't just want RPGs and visual novels!

Over in Famitsu land, the latest review scores are in with a bunch of Vita games coming soon. Bizarrely, Pro Jikkyou Baseball scores the same as God of War, just showing how screwy their scoring system is!!!

NadeRevo! Nadeshiko Revolution 24/40 (visual novel, girls)
Natsuiro Kokoro Log 28/40 (another visual novel, girls)
Utawarerumono: Chiriyukusha he no Komoriuta 32/40 (not a visual novel at all)
Tengai ni Mau, Iki na Hana 33/40 (you get the idea, but this one is boys)
Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2018 38/40

Review: Sir Eatsalot

Sir Eatsalot isn't your ordinary platforming hero. Not for him the ability to cling on to a ledge with one finger and pull himself up, if you slightly misjudge a jump. Nor the power to steam through a level at super-Sonic speed or wall jump to inaccessible places.

Instead, our gluttonous pal is a stout and sturdy knight who finds himself on the wrong end of a mad witch, the chain-smoking Hysterica and her minion hordes' plans. The kingdom of Gluttington, with its lovely cake and treat-filled world in under threat from sour lemonade, and he's not the sort of pussy to drink it! So, it's up to Sir Eatsy to sort things out.

Sir Eatsalot is a Vita exclusive, making good use of front and rear touch controls, and packing in a few inventive ideas, while borrowing liberally from the best bits (the palette, scenery and caged fluffles in need of rescue) from Rayman, Zool and a few other classic titles.

The OLED vibrance really makes Eatsy stand off the screen, while touching the Vita has trees rattling, goodies dropping down, and is useful (nay, essential) for dealing with tricks and traps, and causing panic as you juggle touch and button controls.

Pump up the Volume

One note, this is definitely a game for headphones as the audio is pretty low key through the Vita's speakers. It is definitely worth enjoying the plucky soundtrack and the heavyweight effects at high volume as our portly hero goes trudging into battle.

While the game starts out fun and cuddly with a few simple leaps and challenges, it soon becomes apparent there's a fiendish streak lurking within. There are plenty of vicious run/jump/trap/run/jump/trap moves that require precise control, tapping and a few goes as that panic becomes hysteria!

Loading up on quests from various Gluttington residents, Eatsy must zip in and out of the smallish multi-room levels, finding keys, levers and artefacts. Then do a lot of backtracking (one of the game's minor niggles) to access the next bit of the map, with light relief from spots of jousting and other challenges.

Cutscenes with Hysterica also lighten the load, and would have been great with some proper bonkers Helena-Bonham Carter (or perhaps, Miranda Richardson's mad Queenie) doing the voice acting. But, budgets and multilingual issues likely conspired, especially for a modest dev team like Behind the Stone.

Let Them Eat Cake Wars

Food is always close to Eatsy's heart, he can run with a doughnut-powered sugar rush, but only for a few seconds. His three hearts of life can be restored by other yummy snacks growing among the bushes along the way. One useful feature of the page-flipping levels if that you can duck back to a previous screen to top up before fights, but falling leads to insta-death and restarting that section (again, and again, and again).

As Eatsy ventures across the Creampuff Mountains and into the Chocolate Mines, every creature he comes across offers a quick drawing challenge to help fill out the game's bestiary, with each providing a tiny hint or nugget of information about the realm. There's also the sheer cuteness of beasts like the Pastry Pups and cocoa harvesting cows (golems apparently, but they look like cows to me!)

In battle, Eatsy's moves are limited to swinging his sword and blocking with a shield or running away. This feels slightly clunky, perhaps due to his weight, but isn't the most fun aspect of the game. Also, anything involving a CheeseBomber and explosive crates is decidedly unfun. But, a few missteps aside, exploring and being drawn in by Sir Eatsalot's hand-crafted charm is great fun and well worth the price.

Depending on how patient you are, or how likely to smash up your Vita against a wall, you can probably knock off a point or two from my score. That's due to the tricky combo sections and endless back-and-forth which may spoil your enjoyment. But, I'm entranced by Eatsy's and Hysterica's antics, the funny animations, and love the overall feel of the game and appreciate the clear effort that's gone into creating something that's nearly awesome!

Score: 8/10
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Price: £9.49 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Behind the Stone
File size 580MB
Progress: Manic Miner!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Spacejacked gets a Vita gameplay trailer

Run and gun, and do tower defence, pixel style with the Vita's latest great-looking indie. Spacejacked from Rotten Mage was firsr shown running on Vita around 18 months ago and looks like it should be launching soon. The PS4 version is out next week with final optimisation on the Vita version currently underway.

All good games have a hero just called Dave, he's a lone technician in charge of protecting the spaceship from being overrun by aliens while it prepares to warp.

Cosmic Star Heroine lights up Vita next week

We've been talking about and looking forward to Cosmic Star Heroine for almost five years now. Finally, after an incredible amount of effort by the small Zeboyd team, we have a release date. 24th April for EU and the US!

It is Cross Buy so if you have the PS4 version, which came out just over a year ago, will be a free add for your Vita. Check out the latest Kickstarter update post for the official news. Chasing up some Vita images or video (now added!).

Friday, April 13, 2018

Review: Reverie

New Zealand, home to great wine, a relaxed way of life and now a great Vita adventure in the guise of Reverie. By focusing on the local wildlife and flora close to Rainbite's heart, this game is truly distinctive from the herd, a perfect slice of pixel portable adventuring.

Announced a little over a year ago, the developers kept an open dialogue with Vita fans on Twitter. This has helped to build plenty of interest while avoiding spoiling the adventure or dimming the excitement with information overload. Not bad for a young developer. I won't ruin the overall story, about a family of arguing fishermen, but it is handled with fun and a dab of pathos.

You start off in bed, as young boy Tai, on holiday in a seemingly idyllic little village of Harikoa with its store, arcade, beach and some pretty scenery. A cluster of NPCs help set the scene and give you the odd clue, when it soon becomes apparent that ancient forces are at work.

Lost in a Reverie

These lead you outside the town, into the woods or plains, to new islands and beyond, where strange people wait to help give you small tasks. We're in quick and simple find-this-do-that and keep the item territory, but it is so charmingly set up, there a strong sense of welcome and strong desire to play on.

The island of  Toromi is populated with cute little critters that can do a little damage, who's been attacked by a cockatoo before? Handily, there's a strong supply of pizza and ammo in wooden crates to keep health and weapons topped up. The vivid scenery is enlivened with smoke, waving flowers, bugs and scudding clouds, all adding to the charm.

Starting with a cricket bat, you can give the bugs and the game's true enemies a good thrashing, while a yo-yo, dart gun and other weapons provide variety and a way to solve the game's many switch-based puzzles. Other items like a snorkel and heelies help you get around new areas, key to finding the feathers that are a part of one of the larger sub-quests.

The mechanics of Reverie

For a newbie developer, the internal workings of the game work very well, it saves automatically at regular intervals, and teleports can prevent some slogging around. If you do something clever there's a brief moment of Atari Lynx-like zoom to highlight what you did!

Everything happens in short bursts, with no long drawn-out conversations or spirit-sapping battles, across the compact world. With a constant supply of trophies throughout the game, plus fun little mini-games to act as diversions between the main six dungeons, it never feels weighed down.

With a down-home charm all of its own, Reverie has the emotional attachment of a visual novel in the form of an adventure that warms the soul and brings a smile to any gamers' face.

If I had to moan, and its a review, so I get at least one whinge, the dungeon waypoints on the map pop up and are never really explained as to why you need to go there. That's something that could be tightened up with a few simple sentences and would add a little more depth to the NPCs.

Also, pick-ups can be left in inaccessible places by dying creatures, which the odd time might be a pain, but luckily are generally not vital. Those aside, if you're looking for a short, eloquent, world, that's full of imagination and discovery, this hits the spot. If you think early Zelda meets Undertale, that's a neat Venn diagram for Reverie with the very best of both worlds.

Score: 9/10
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Price: £11.99(PSN)
Developer/publisher Rainbite
File size 211MB
Progress: Cryptic clues!

Persona Dancing Moon and Star Night opening movies

Has Atlus run out of characters to show off? Guessing so, as we now have the full opening movies for both Persona 3 Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5 Dancing Star Night. Bringing more disco joy to the Persona series, the games are out in just over a month in Japan, and I guess we have to pray really hard that we get a Vita western release.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Deep Ones dives on to the Vita

Out now on PSN, Spectrum-styled 8-bit adventure Deep Ones is just £5 on PSN from Sometimes You. As the commander of a wrecked submarine, you have to adventure to repair and regain control of your vessel while the creatures of the deep seas try to have you for lunch.

With a splash of Lovecraft and some philosophy, there's plenty to like about the game, with its moody lighting provided by creatures. Developed by Burp! Studios, expect to see more of these really retro games hit the Vita as relatively easy ports. 

Play with your Astrals in The Lost Child

NIS America continues to churn out the JRPGs with The Lost Child headed our way in June. This new trailer shows off the Astrals, conquered enemies you can use for your own powers and skills. The game failed to set the Japanese charts alight, so any western interest should help them recoup some of the development cost.

Fate/Extella Link heads west digitally

Not sure I can go through all this again, Marvelous has announced a digital release for Fate/Extella Link in the west. Please just release the game without the tedious drip feed of a trillion characters/costume trailers and whatever else the Japanese PR department sends your way.

Picking up where the story ended in Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star, Fate/Eextella Link expands the roster of playable Servants with 10 new legendary heroes added to the original selection of 16, including Charlemagne, pictured in action.

These new Servants hail from other entries in the Fate series and include the likes of Astolfo, Scàthach, and Francis Drake. The high-speed action gameplay of Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star continues with improved visuals and new battle mechanics in both single-player and an added multiplayer mode supporting 4-on-4 online battles.

Players will also be able to move freely around their new base camp—a medieval cathedral suspended in the sky—and interact with Servants to build bonds with them, taking on side missions that further flesh out their backstories.

Release date to be confirmed, although a tweet mentions winter.