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!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Valkyrie Drive launches in the UK

PQube keeps bringing the Vita physical releases, and we need to keep buying them. So head out to the stores and pick up Valkyrie Drive, out today in the UK and Europe. Grab the Limited Edition while you can.

Valkyrie Drive itself is Marvelous' usual offering of action, boobs and costumes, you'd think at least one politician could have cried foul by now and tripled Vita sales over night.

The game hits the US on 11 October. Up next from the publisher, Steins Gate 0, yum!

Fate Extella goes opera in new clip

The world of Fate Extella is a very pretty one, the voices are alluring, and the singing suitably operatic in this new trailer. Type Moon and Marvelous have compiled the best bits of the characters and classes into this one trailer with the limited edition and a teasy bathroom scene at the end to help keep people watching!

Damn, just realised I've been spelling it wrong all this time, must have kept seeing a phantom "r" in there. All fixed now!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Online co-op ARPG Rogue Raiders formally announced

Having been teased earlier in the week as a concept, it looks like Rogue Raiders Online is swinging into full production thanks to the talents of solo developer Cristina Ramos. Described as a four-player, online co-op, action role-playing game, the early images look pretty cool and I'll be following this closely to see how the gameplay develops.

UPDATE: Check out the first tweet showing the game in motion:



Mary Skelter's purification gag is old before it starts

Having spent some time playing Criminal Girls 2, Mary Skelter offers absolutely nothing when it comes to showing the girls in the game the path to righteousness, or whatever. Sure, Japan probably hasn't had a game like this for, oh, 15 minutes, so I'm guess they'll lap it up. But without even a variety of tickling tools this just seems pointless titillation. Out in October, from Compile Heart, whatever!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Idol Death Game TV's ladies strut their stuff

Releasing in October, Idol Death Game TV from D3 has come from pretty much out of nowhere to looking like another addition to the Vita's quirky roster of fine exclusives. Still not much of a hint as to the death aspect in this long, chatty trailer, but being D-rated in Japan (17 and over) its probably going to be pretty kinky, gory or both.

After a long break, Vita gets a Japanese No. 1

It has been quite a while since a Vita game sat atop the Japanese chart, Gundam Breaker 3 in March fact fans. And, after a lot of self-hype from Aqua Plus, I was expecting a few more than 47K sales for Utawarerumono, the tactical RPG crammed into a visual novel.

Still, it managed to outsell the PS4 edition and depose Persona 5 from the top of the Media Create chart. The sequel has already done better than the original managed in an entire year, according to the publisher, so expect more from the series in 2017.

Minecraft is the only other Vita game in town, stoically marching on to 900,000 boxed sales. Demon Gaze 2 is out this Thursday in Japan, so should also make a decent entry next week.

Then, things go quiet until the middle of October when launches get pretty mental on the JP release list, culminating in World of Final Fantasy, SAO Hollow Realization, Neo Atlas 1469 and Berserk on 27 October.

A shame Sony couldn't get the new colour Vita models on sale in time to benefit!

01./00. [PSV] Utawarerumono: Futari no Hakuoro (Aqua Plus) - 47.363 / NEW
02./01. [PS4] Persona 5 (Atlus) - 45.178 / 309.971 (-83%)
03./00. [PS4] Utawarerumono: Futari no Hakuoro (Aqua Plus) - 38.507 / NEW
...
12./12. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition (Sony) - 5.959 / 880.325 




Even that release can't boost Vita hardware numbers, dropping just below the 10K line of stability. Don't expect much to change until the end of October

5pb's Vita line up of awesomeness

Even if you don't understand Japanese, take a look at the 5pb site and browse through all those upcoming visual novels with a Vita tag on them. Sure, they're not all Steins Gate quality and not all will come west, but even knowing they exist should warm the hearts of most Vita owners.

Up next is Plastic Memories, while Anonymous Code looks pretty special, and has plenty of English on the portal site to help us get into it. Chaos Child is also coming next year, and that's just the tip of a chunky iceberg of visual novel fun.


Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls Opening Movie

Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls hits the Vita and PSTV next month, digitally and in stores, October 18 for NA and Europe on the 21st! The difference is important for once, as the US version has a regionally correct orange Dreamcast while Europe gets the more subtle blue colour.

In the RPG adventure, Neptune finds herself transformed into a motorcycle and now IF, must take main stage! With the help of the Sega Hard Girls, IF must jump, dash, climb, and crawl her way to recover the lost history of the Grand Library.

Key features include:

  • A history of Sega with Hatsumi, Dream Cast, Saturn, Game Gear, Mega Drive! Familiar faces Neptune, IF, Nepgear, Plutia, and Uzume return as playable characters!
  • Be Anything You Want! Change classes to switch up stats to customize your team! There are also special skills only specific classes can use!
  • IF is hown stuntman! Maneuver through treacherous dungeon terrains with various actions like jump, dash, climb, crawl, to reach items or special rewards, and even destroy objects to clear the path ahead!
  • Fever Time! Jump to obtain the rainbow gem and unleash Fever Time! This reduces enemy turns during battle, enables HDD form, and raises stats by 10% to give you the advantage!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Marvel's female heroes get their own Zen Pinball tables

I have no idea how many sites will write about Black Widow playing with your balls, but it is the obvious line when Zen produces a two-table pack dedicated to Marvel's super heroines. That includes Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl and Spider-Gwen, each with their own story and set of missions hidden among the ramps and bumpers.

The pack is out this week, for PS Vita, PS4 and everything else that supports Zen Pinball, and should provide a fresh dose of slick hero worship at the altar of the silver globe.

Supermagical and Stranded near Vita launch

Tama Games is a small but dedicated Spanish publisher with a string of cool games behind it (okay, maybe not Fart vs. Zombies). However, Stranded, Odyssey on the Red Planet and the bubble popping SuperMagical, updates to popular mobile titles, are currently with Sony for QA testing, suggesting imminent launches.
SuperMagical from Super Mega Team borrows from the awesome Bust A Move games, but should still be an awesome fun puzzle and adventure game, where you’ll visit tons of magical places, meet cool characters, and cook amazing spells.

Stranded sees your spacecraft crash on the surface of Mars, with all your equipment lost. With a spacesuit and a limited amount of oxygen, your only hope of escape is to reach the rescue module before the air supply runs out!
They may not be among the awesome big name and high-end indies hitting the Vita this time of year, Still, spare a thought and some cash for them, and we may get more games like the upcoming Escape from the Pyramid heading our way. More details on the Tama website.

A quick play of the Dragon Quest Builders demo

Popping up like an autumn squirrel out of the leaves comes the demo for Dragon Quest Builders, now out on EU PSN, UPDATE: with the US version now also live. Square Enix's monster seller in Japan should easily generate a lot of love in the west, but how does it play?

The demo offers an hour or so play, with the first few quests showing DQB as being easy-to-love, a Minecraft-lite with a gentle story to follow and a suitably sedate pace of events and action. You can mildly customise and name your character, and choose to play as a boy or girl, before setting them off into a world lost to time, with people stumbling around like passive zombies.

They, Pippa and Rollo are the first people you meet, need a hero, a leader, and above all a builder, and possibly a plumber. Enter you with your noddy hat! You can soon start turning mud into walls, sticks into doors and beds, before crafting basic essentials like weapons and tools. You know the drill (if only you had one), but this time you need to help the people out rather than going and crafting your own luxury pad, recreating the pyramids or building a fleet of steel tanks.

This focuses the game neatly and gives a greater sense of purpose, which some, I guess younger gamers will love, while Minecraft die-hards will probably turn their diamond-armoured nose up at.

In design, DQB is totally Minecraft, from the crafting benches to chests, and the way you gather and create. However, the mission structure and (in the demo, anyway) tight limits on resource types make it a lot more focused, but it retains the relaxed atmosphere of Creative mode and while there's sure to be big battles along the way, there's none of this in the early going.


Once the demo ends, you can still carry on exploring the four corners of your island, which has some surprises, and go fine tuning your little village. The full game is out in a couple of weeks, digital only on the Vita in Europe.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Criminal Girls 2 is a UK No. 1 at retail

The UK retail chart of non-specific sales continues to provide a chuckle as NIS America's Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors storms to No. 1. They could at least have given it a UK spelling, how many do we reckon it sold, 100 physical units?

Last week's No. 1 Psycho Pass is on the express elevator to hell, down to No. 10 while God Eater 2 continues to show more legs than the Criminal Girls sticking around the top five after a month on sale.

FIFA 15 reenters at No. 17 and Lego games are surging up, suggesting people are stocking up for kids' Christmas presents, anyone know if EA bothered to update the FIFA roster?

1. Criminal Girls 2 NIS America
2. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens Warner
3. Minecraft PS Vita Edition Mojang
4. God Eater 2: Rage Burst Bandai
5. Lego Marvel Avengers Warner

Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (C)2016 UKIE Ltd

Over on Amazon UK's top seller list, Need for Speed at under £10 is currently top for Vita games, with pre-orders for World of Final Fantasy at No. 2 and FIFA 15 shooting up the wing at No. 3. Criminal Girls is down at 37, suggesting a very short sentence in the chart.



Out this week at retail are physical copies of the excellent Lumo, while after a few weeks' delay Valkyrie Drive finally revs up, courtesy of PQube!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Root Letter gets a pen pal edition

How to make visual novels interesting? When its about letters, how about a writing set? This mighty leap of logic from Rice Digital, actually makes it an interesting proposition. You can get the US version or the EU version (£60).

The collection looks pretty smart in a neat box, and includes either the PS4 or Vita version. Someone should point out to the big publishers that this is how limited editions work! It also comes with a CD, very stylish if unassuming print and art book,


UPDATE: If that's a bit much for you, then there's a plainer Limited Edition for £39.99 with the game, art book and box. That's available from Game in the UK and VideoGamesPlus in North America for C$49.99.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Square's Collective may offer a Vita version for Legend of Lumina

Looking not too dissimilar to Square's own Dragon Quest Builders, Legend of Lumina from Apex Frontier is all about farming, monster raising and adventuring. The game is up for your vote on Square's Collective Page.

Vote for a Vita version and it could come our way, one day. The game is in the early stages of development, and built in Unity, but looks like it would fit well on Sony's portable, so sign up and give it some love.

UPDATE: This project has been scrapped due to legal issues between the investors and developers. A new project should be announced soon!


Of the other new additions to the Collective list, A Dragon Named Coal has a 3DS option, so you may want to politely encourage the developers in the direction of a Vita edition for the smart looking 2D Castlevania type game.



Oceanhorn confirmed for PS Vita

FDG Games has the joyous news that Vita owners will be getting a port of its charming RPG Oceanhorn, developed by Cornfox & Bros. That's after a poll saw almost 4,500 show an interest in the game. I played Oceanhorn on an iPad a couple of years ago and it is a thing of beauty. They are talking to Limited Run about a physical release, which would be extra awesome.

While there's no time frame for Oceanhorn: Monsters of Uncharted Seas, you can grab a Vita theme here. Hopefully this level of interest will nudge FDG to bring Monster Boy from Game Atelier over too.

Interestingly, Oceanhorn 2 was announced as in development last month, so if the first game does well, hopefully the sequel, which is going full 3D, could just make its way to Vita a little faster.


Review: Claire Extended Cut

The Vita's run of PC indie ports continues with Claire, a 2014 Steam release from Hailstorm that provides yet another dose of highly-effective 2D survival terror. First thing to note: Claire has been extensively patched since launch to fix some bugs with saving and maps, resolving some panic issues and so on. If the game annoyed you on day one, try it again!

The Extended Cut version is far more than just a straight port with a move to a 2.5D engine in Unity that offers dynamic lighting, but the basic gameplay remains the same. Claire is a nightmare plagued girl, consigned to St. Barbara's hospital to look after her mother. It starts with a younger Claire dreaming (or is she?) about her home turning into a scene from Poltergeist. When the dreams start becoming reality, Claire has to navigate the halls and find a way out with a dark terror lurking in the shadows.

Out there, somewhere, there are people to find, some to rescue, light sources to find to keep the dark at bay and nameless terrors to avoid. This is no gung-ho game where our teenage protagonist suddenly becomes a first class ninja or gun mistress. Instead, running and hiding is usually the only option. To that end, Claire nips in and out of doors, using the map to find a safe cupboard to hide in or to aid exploration.

The Map To Claire's Heart

Actually the map screen is probably open more than in any game I can recall, as she moves between areas through passages, and you desperately try to find the right door. Exploring can get complex and navigating around a locked or barred area becomes pretty frustrating. To help out, items to be picked up sparkle slightly, but there's still plenty of nooks and crannies to dig for them.

Lock picks will help advance your progress, but which door do you use them on? Batteries will help power the torch, once you find it and so on. But there are still lots of questions at every turn, where did all the candles come from? Why are all the clocks stuck at 3:33? Is that a demon or just some flickering rubbish? Why can this healthy looking girl only jog about 5 steps?

There are lots of doors, behind, in front and to the side of many rooms in the hospital, which can confuse, especially as Claire has limiting sprinting capacity, a need for energy and, as with any person in a nightmarish hospital, can easily become panicked. There are a range of different endings to her story, so while the game might only be six to eight hours long, there's plenty to seek out among its dark passages.

The hospital is broken up into wings, and there's also a school where something equally grim is going on, but your main aim is to complete the objectives, as listed in your journal. With such limited visual information, sound plays a huge part in the game and there's all sorts of peculiar effects playing around the stereo space behind a haunting ambient audio track (tune is definitely not the right word).

Claire isn't quite as dramatic as the ambiance makes it out to be, basically a simple explore and puzzle game, but the story is worth sticking with, and this is a perfect handheld game for short doses of heart-fluttering scares.

Score: 7/10
More reviews
Price: £13.99, $14.99 (PSN)
Developer: Hailstorm
Progress: Let me out the closet!

Macross Delta Scramble TV spot and gameplay

Shout and cheer and they will come buying appears to be the theme of this advert with a few clips of gameplay and the voluble characters that feature in a long awaited Vita outing for the Macross series. If you want a better look at the action, jump into this video about 27 minutes and there's plenty of gameplay.

This game looks pretty sharp for a Vita exclusive with am impressive city backdrop, lots of detail in the mechs and multiplayer.

Feel happy with the Atelier Firis intro video

Missed this yesterday, an intro video for the chirpy, happy world of Atelier Firis, which I'd hope comes west after the good response to Atelier Sophie, was my first foray into this series. Certainly the gameplay videos for Firis look a step up for the series, on the PS4 at least, hopefully the Vita version will have a little extra polish to it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Get catty with Nights of Azure 2

Tecmo is keeping the gameplay of Nights of Azure 2 well hidden, but there's a cat! Which is about the highlight of this art heavy intro Rusewall Island and its characters. The PS4 game did head west, but I'm not so sure this will leave Japan, although plenty of Gust's other work has.

Vita sales shuffle up in Japan on Persona week

Japan explodes out of the summer lull as Persona 5 sells over 335,000 on PS4 and PS3, pretty sure a Vita version would have stomped on both of them. Other than Minecraft, the Media Create chart is bereft of Vita releases, yet Sony's portable managed to sell almost 13,000, a hefty boost on the summer flat line. The new PS4 slim model sold almost 95,000 units, which isn't bad.


Tactical visual novel Utawarerumono: The Two Hakuoros (Aquaplus) is out now, and will hit next week's chart, with the publisher claiming over 130,000 day one sales across all PlayStation formats, while Demon Gaze 2 (Kadokawa) should prove that classic RPGs can still be a big hit the following week.

A closer look at the summer of not much Vita action, no big sellers, yet somehow it manages to sell over 10K a week on average. Some very big sales weeks are needed in the run up to the holidays to help the Vita shift another million over the year.





Easy Rider goes ape in Fate Extella

Another Fate Extella clip showing Type Moon's endless pummeler in action, with a Rider taking to the battlefield on a Pegasus horse. It joins a long list of clips showing pretty much the same beatings happening to the same cookie cutter hordes, which with the deeply generic opening movie has me less than excited about this, especially with so many other games on the horizon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review: Psycho Pass Mandatory Happiness

Boy, this is not an easy game to love. It won't let you take screenshots (these are provided press shots), it disables the WiFi for no good reason, all the trophies are hidden, and it populates an interesting world with a cod lineup of detective characters out of the worst teen pulp fictions.

They are all here, the grizzled, wrinkled old cop. The angry youngster with the purple tie, sexy lady boffin and anally retentive smart arse Inspector, and you - the new kid on the block. Given most Japanese rooms are tiny, its a miracle they can all fit in most crime scenes!

The world lies somewhere between the futures depicted by Demolition Man, Minority Report and Logan's Run. Set 100 years in the future, people live well, monitored by intensive security cameras and their own personal Psycho Pass, yet still wearing cheap suits and ties.

If someone leans toward imbalance, criminal thoughts or antisocial tendencies, they can take medicine to curb those traits, or will soon face a visit from the Enforcers, who hunt down those that stray on the wrong side of the tracks.

Pain in the Psycho Pass

As a visual novel, based on a recent anime series, you're a new Inspector in PSB Division 1, forced to make multi-choice decisions to help guide the story. Go here, do this, talk to so and so. It'd be amazing, if your partners were in the slightest bit interesting, but they aren't - while managing to be largely incredibly annoying to converse with. Also, if you're the rookie - why are you making all the decisions?

You're fighting against a mystery puppet master who is using the invasive technology behind Psycho Pass to control other people to do their bidding. Using the drugs to create terrorist incidents things soon spiral out of control.

As ill-befitting such a society, blowing people's heads or legs off seems a really random way of sorting out the criminal class, but that's what several scenes boil down to. There's also the usual interpersonal dramas, the odd bit of social time and other personal choices to make. Do you take the medicine to keep your own Psycho Pass readings in check, or abandon them and see how it goes?

The story itself is vaguely interesting but let down by bad mixes of art and narrative. A crowded hospital corridor it says - while we look at a picture of an empty hall. A massive fight erupts, yet after none of the characters have a mark on them! And so on, it all contributes to breaking any grip the game may have on the audience.

You play again and again, trying to find the right routes, avoiding the bad endings and trying to dive deeper into the mystery, but its not a patch on Steins Gate in terms of plot, charm or execution. Even with cunning use of saves, its a long slog through Psycho Pass and the prose just doesn't keep me interested.

Score: 6/10
More reviews
Price: £34.99 (PSN)
Developer: NIS America
Progress: Logan's Run out of patience

See Saga Scarlet Grace in action

Now Tokyo Game Show is just a fading dream, the publishers are putting up videos of their live events. Check out 90 odd minutes of SaGa Scarlet Grace being demoed by men in suits from Square Enix and also the cool limited edition.

There's plenty of exploring and battling in the psuedo 3D world, with lots of English text already in place, which might hint at an easy translation job.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Psycho Pass beats MeiQ to UK retail No. 1

Two physical retail games out in Britain in a week? Madness I say, but the techno-thrilling visual novel Psycho Pass (review in progress) manages to beat RPG MeiQ, probably by about 100 sales to 75, judging by how Sony perceives the market. Kudos to NISA and Idea Factory for keeping them coming.

1 N Psycho Pass NIS America
2 N MeiQ Labyrinth of Death Idea Factory
3 = Minecraft Mojang
4 - Lego Star Wars TFA Warner
5 - Lego Marvel Avengers Warner
6 - God Eater 2 Bandai

Amazon's PS Vita Best Sellers list is a bit more random with pre-orders of World of Final Fantasy beating out Need for Speed (for £9.50) at the top of the list in the UK. God Eater sticks at No. 3 while Sonic's racer is at No. 6 - seriously developers, Vita owners want a good racing game!

Amazon UK Vita chart

Demon Gaze 2 trailer shows off the DLC

Demon Gaze 2 hits Japan at the end of the month, and the original is still one of the most active RPGs on the Vita, judging by the constant searches for it. The game will pack in a host of new characters and lines-up some DLC for later consumption, shown off at TGS. Call of the Grimodar will expand on the adventure further - hopefully a western release won't be too far behind.

Friday, September 16, 2016

SaGa Scarlet Grace's stylish limited edition

I do hope the Japanese realise how lucky there are. Check out this little lot that LE buyers can pick up with SaGa Scarlet Grace. The Square Enix bundle includes:

  • The physical game 
  • Digipak Saga Scarlet Grace Soundtrack CD with three CDs of original music and previous episodes. 
  • An illustrated book reproducing the works of Mr. Kobayashi with all 29 characters
  • A card game of Saga Scarlett Grace with original character illustrations.
  • All in a great presentation box

Not a bad little collection.






Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pavilion finally nears Vita launch

Holy cow, I last wrote about Pavilion in 2014, but the VisionTrick game fell off the radar a long time ago. Now the game is finally launching on Android and Steam, with the Vita and PS4 version following on from them, specifically:
PlayStation4 & PlayStation Vita – As soon as the above versions is shipped we’ll start preparing the PlayStation versions.
So, it may be a while yet, but the Swedish/Japanese developed adventure looks well worth the wait. In the game, you control the environment, not the man - with light, shade, music and sound all helping guide your actions and choices.

New Vita trailers pour out of Tokyo Game Show

Tokyo Game Show is now in full swing and so a whole bunch of new trailers are out to show off Japanese developers' latest and greatest. In no particular order, we have Saga Scarlet Grace, Valkyria Azure Revolution, SD Gundam G Generation Genesis and World of Final Fantasy,

UPDATE: Add Idol Death Game TV to the list:





No Digimon World Next Order for western Vita owners

UPDATE to the UPDATE: Bandai officially now on everyone's shitlist by retracting its earlier update (according to Gematsu) and going back to the PS4 only release. 

Make of that what you will, either Gematsu is taking the piss (and I never saw an update from Bandai), but given the publisher only recently released God Eater 2 to a positive reception, I fail to see how it loses out by bringing a Vita version of a JP Vita game, with the voice-over already done for the PS4 version, to the western audience.

UPDATE: Bandai has backtracked (according to Gematsu) and promised a Vita release for 2017! Put the pitchforks down people! 

After all of this week's good news out of Japan, there was bound to be some bad. And here comes the kick on the teeth. It has been announced by Bandai that the new Next Order title will be PS4 only in the west.

No word from Bandai EU yet, so there's still a glimmer. UPDATE: No, same story in the EU - will start asking some questions as to why. - I've made inquiries at Bandai to see what the situation and background is.
BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. the premier publisher of anime videogames today announces Digimon World: Next Order is coming to the Americas exclusively in digital form for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system.
That's despite Digmon Story Cyber Sleuth being one of the best selling Vita games of the year, according to PSN charts, and one of the best rated and most loved titles for Vita owners. Seriously, I've seen endless playthroughs, hundreds of screen shares of people with their finest Digimon and so much love for the game.


So, either the Vita's best sales aren't good enough for corporate Bandai, or this is part of a wider ranging ploy by Sony and friends to sunset (as they like to call it) the Vita in the west during 2017.

Let's go with the online noise, petitions and so on, but I'm fairly sure it won't make much difference. Bandai's resources are finite and I'm sure it wants to focus them on PS4 and PSVR titles. After SAO Hollow Realization, I don't think Bandai has anything big planned (Chroma Squad not really counting), so this could be the end of the company's western Vita efforts.

Ta ta Telltale

Getting more bad (but hardly surprising) news out the way, it also seems that TellTale has given up on the Vita. A much-liked and retweeted request and email to them has met with no response, so I'll strip all of their previously announced titles out of the release list.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Castle Invasion gets a PEGI Vita rating

Just outed by a PEGI rating for the Vita, Castle Invasion: Throne Out from Cat Trap Games is a comic 2D tower defence game. You get to defend your king's castle with a snarky archer against the onslaught of a rival king's army. Features include:
  • 50 frantic, action packed levels.
  • 5 deadly bosses.
  • Use coins dropped by enemies to buy over 40 weapon upgrades...then feel guilty for being a murderer.
  • Wizards, jesters, knights, dwarves, executioners. All the things you wanted to skewer with spears when you were a child but you were born in the wrong time. Now you can!
  • Full to bursting with awful, awful puns.

Stability continues for Vita sales in Japan

Another week, another 10,280 Vita sales for Japan, up 200 on last week, but basically as regular as clockwork. A couple of otome titles entered the middle reaches of the Media Create chart, Lost Chronicle managed 3,300 sales, while Under Heaven managed 5,200.

But all Japan appears to be waiting for Persona 5 on PS4 this week and the new hardware, so much so that PS4 sold only 540 units! Will the country be as excited for a couple of new Vita colours come early December?


Review: Sky Force Anniversary

I do love a good old-fashioned shooter and, the odd quirk aside, Sky Force from Infinite Dreams hit all the spots in both its original PSP outing and the new Anniversary edition that now graces PlayStation consoles. It looks and feels very much like Sine Mora tipped on its head, with a bright sky full of planes and verdant forests full of tanks and installations to batter, or 1943 without the loop the loop.
Rather than a level by level approach, you'll need to scamper back and forth to complete each level's missions and acquire enough stars to upgrade weapons to achieve some of the objectives. There are nine levels and each offers a take no damage, rescue all the people, defeat 70% of enemies and defeat 100% of enemies mission, or collect enough stars.
Getting one or two of these mini-achievements is pretty easy to do, and finishing a level opens up the next one. Nip back to the hanger to add bombs, lasers, shields, and better defences or upgrade any of them, and you're back in the melee. Also on the ground are bonus targets to hits for extra points or gear. While in later levels, the enemy can disable your guns turning the game into a panicked dodge to survive mission.

The game does fall down in a couple of places. Its idea of "weapon upgrade" during a level is just faster fire - in my book of shooters, five weapons upgrades should see my craft spitting hellfire out of every orifice - all the real upgrading takes place in the hanger.

Also, you can buy some extra laser shots and if you die in the level without using them, say you were saving them for the end of level boss, you lose them, which is a massive waste. That's likely due to the IAP nature of the mobile version, which thankfully isn't replicated here but still skews the game slightly. Instead you can find hidden cards to get some rare bonuses.

The Vita's small screen also makes it hard to spot some features and you may miss a bullet among the stars, which can ruin your effort. Otherwise this is pure shmup territory, regular patterns to master, tricky situations to rescue people from and relentless fire from the big bosses at the end of the levels. The weather adds to the ambiance and while the music could be beefier, the audio side holds up pretty well.

If there's any chance iDteams can port Raiden, 1943 or any of those era shooters to this engine, how amazing would that be?

Score: 8/10
More reviews
Price: £7.99 (PSN)
Developer: Infinite Dreams
Progress: Six shooter

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Square explains Dragon Quest Builders

If you saw any of the Japanese Dragon Quest Builders training clips published earlier in the year, then you should be pretty familiar with how the game works. Or you might have played that little novelty known as Minecraft. Either way, here's the basics in English.



The game is digital only for Vita, and while Square are touting some day one DLC blueprints and a theme, it looks portable buyers won't even get that crumb of comfort.

God Wars Future Past rumbles west in early 2017

Spent a good part of the day cleaning up the release list, deleting all the cancelled and never-started Vita games, but adding a bunch of new titles. Just as I save, along comes NIS America with news that God Wars will hit western shores in early 2017, so just one more wafer thin edit!



The tactical RPG explores the untold history of Japan through folklore and strategic combat. See traditional stories of Japan’s origin through the lens of three warring nations, with a massive expanse of options to develop their strategies from including a myriad of character classes and equipment within innovative and challenging stages.


Check out the  recent trailer here.

Get a first look at Danganronpa 3

The bear is back as Danganronpa gets ready for a third series of grizzly murders in the game of death, due in January. Spike Chunsoft's trailer was shown at Sony's Tokyo Game Show presser, and gives at peek at the new HUD, new heroine and the same old overkill.

Sony's new united colours of Vita video

If you missed Sony's press event earlier, here's the clip of the new colour Vita models, without having to wade through a whole rerun of the live stream. Still prefer the blue one from the current roster, but the lime and white one remains my all time favourite.

Square's TGS trailers for SaGa Scarlet Grace and Itadaki Street

Square is still backing the Vita pretty will in Japan, with all sorts of off-shoot games including the new Dragon Quest vs Final Fantasy 30th anniversary title, but part of Sony's Toko Game Show keynote was a new trailer for SaGa Scarlet Grace ahead of the unveiling of the new Vita colours.


in it we get a glimpse of Urpina, Balmaint and Taria strutting their stuff in cel shaded battle. Not too sure what to make of DQ vs FF other than its a board type game, hopefully with lots of RPG elements.

Mosou Stars comes to Vita in 2017

Omega Force has been playing with its collection of characters and come up with Musou Stars, a new Koei game for 2017. An All-Stars style game with the likes of Ninja Gaiden, Atelier Sophie and the Samurai Warriors crew for some monumental battling and brawling. Quite what the final game will look like, guess we find out in 2017.




New Vita colours for Japan

As predicted, Japan plans to keep the Vita hardware treadmill going for a little while longer with a couple of new colours. Silver and Metallic Red are the order of the day, but it looks like there's no WiFi, screen or other component upgrade, so Sony is only splashing out on a couple of tins of paint.

Sony will be showing off some third party titles on its stand and there are more games to come from most Japanese developers, except Sony of course!





Still, these should help Boost Vita sales a tiny bit on launch in December and they look to gain a lift around the launch of Square's SaGa Scarlet Grace, which  goes on sale 15th December.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Valkyrie Driver Bhikkhuni trailer is all you'd hoped for

If you want boobs done properly, turn to the Senran Kagura team who have taken cleavage to new heights on the Vita. Bored of their babe fighting game, they've come with a new babe fighting game

Focused on ultra-fast hack-and-slash action with aerial combat, multiple characters to master, 28 story missions and arena based online multiplayer.Also check out the great limited edition.

Twin Star Exorcists trailer of meh!

Bandai keeps flinging RPGs at the Vita to find one that will stick, with Twin Star Exorcists tagging onto the success of some anime/manga. The screenshots for this supernatural themed series look extremely low effort, with gritty 2D RPG stylings as these two exorcists go about trying to defeat whatever ultimate evil threatens their realm.

Seriously, if this is all Bandai has to show, why bother? There could be a decent game at its heart, but it won't have won over a single fan with such a limp trailer.

You wait ages for a Vita racing game, and we get Drive Girls

It is funny how the PSP managed multiple Midnight Clubs, Burnouts, Ridge Racers and even a Gran Turismo, a feast of 3D racing. Yet, the Vita could only manage the one Need for Speed and that careless Ridge Racer cock-up.

UPDATE: Here's a new trailer introducing the ladies of Drive Girls, hope you aren't expecting any subtlety here! They fight, they drive, they squeal lots.

So, there was some vague hope of high octane antics when developer Bergsala (mostly a maker of Hello Kitty titles), a new name to me, popped up with news that Konami would show its game at TGS. Unfortunately, the early screens shots show off some horrendous panty-sniffing exercise, where the girls transform into cars.

The cel-shader racer part might be interesting, but crossing that with some very low rent characters (I won't even bother with a pic of them) makes the whole thing look pretty grimy. If you want to google these poor under-clothed nymphs, check out 4Gamer.

Check out the completely generic Fate/Extella opening movie

I'm guessing there are at least 25,000 mange intro clips with a raging fireball whizzing through space or crashing to the planet, and the final shot pulling back from Earth to reveal some heroic spacecraft or secret organization - surely someone can think of something slightly more original.

Until then, here's the as-vanilla-as-a-triple-vanilla-ice-cream opening intro for Marvelous' Fate/Extella.

Macross Delta Scramble in action

Bandai just popped up a quick new mix trailer of Macross Delta Scramble with the tunes, the action and the girls all in order, just in time for Tokyo Game Show. Certainly hope this one sprouts wings and heads west along with all Bandai's other efforts - Macross is still big here right? (last saw a bunch of episodes on VHS, if that helps).

Friday, September 9, 2016

Review: Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom

This is probably the game I most worried about of this season's big releases. How could the five year old Vita hardware possibly cope with the graphics that the poster-child PS4 version was throwing around?

In the end, I need not have worried, Team Ninja and Tecmo have produced a game that is fluid and fun to play from the get go. Sure there's some image fade-in (better than pop-up) and frame rate dips when things get busy throughout. And, yes, the lumbering Titans are decidedly low-poly and have some strange relationships with physics and buildings. However, it is easy to ignore those points as you swing through the air and swoop in to hack another hapless giant to pieces.

So, on to playing Attack on Titan, or Wings of Freedom, as Tecmo has decided to call it. If you missed the series, AoT sees lumbering people-eating titans dominating the landscape, forcing humans to live in a city surrounded by massive walls, like chickens in a coop. I watched the anime and am still haunted by all the Japanese shouting - surely one of the most voluble, vitriolic series ever! So, guess who's there in basic training bellowing at you every few seconds - flashback city.
Up yer bum, as its the only bit of you visible! 
You're soon swinging about, using Omni-Directional Mobility (ODM) gear to rappel, fly and pivot around the battlefield. Book-ended by lavish cut-scenes, each mission sees you aiming to take down a herd of Titans, aiming for the back of the neck, which is their own fatal weak spot. You also go rushing to the aid of stricken comrades, valuable buildings and citizens around the city, providing some mission structure.

Succeed through the early going, and you can set out on horseback, exploring out into the heartlands of the Titans and the woods where you can trap them. The missions follow the story set by the anime pretty closely, but viewed from varying perspectives. This makes up for the pretty repetitive gameplay with only the boss titans really changing and adding a modicum of extra challenge.

This travelling and a spot of resource management help add some extra structure to the game, which can make a welcome break from the endless slapping down of Titans. But whatever weapons or mods you have, it doesn't seem to make a huge difference, its not like being a hammer-wielder vs a sniper in God Eater 2, which I'm playing in tandem with this.

What's missing from the full fat PS4 version? Well buildings just sort of go up in smoke, rather than the impressive deformation of the game's bigger sexier brother. As expected, there seem to be a lot of subtle lighting and shading effects missing, and things do slow down close up even with the slab-like titans. Whatever version, there's also no getting away from the fact that most characters are just whiny or shouty bastards and the action is deeply repetitive, and the whole digital package isn't worth £40!

However, the sheer joy of whizzing around the sky and hacking shit up makes most of Attack on Titan's great fun. I can ignore clumsier moments, and lack of real depth beyond the hack-and-swipe tactics, and happily go down swinging - or not to be honest, as this isn't the most difficult of games. If the higher difficulty mode had been available without completing the game, perhaps things would have been more of a challenge.

Score: 7/10
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Price: £39.99 (PSN)
Developer: Tecmo Koei
Progress: In the wilds

Review: God Eater 2: Rage Burst

We are Blood, a highly technical organisation using massive swords and heavy weapons to defeat nasty slavering beasts! What's that? Yeah, of course you can go in to battle wearing a beanie hat and baggy cargo pants, or a crop top and hot pants young lady, or a 70's pimp outfit, certainly sir - no worries!

That's probably my main concern with the Vita's latest God Eater installment that finally arrives in the west. Yes, they did it in Freedom Wars (with some of the same dev teams) but you'd think that a highly militaristic organisation, roaming the world in a massive tracked city, would have some sort of camouflage and super-suit armour for these kids. Certainly, a chunky power suit might stop the characters whining like three-year olds whenever they take a nip from an Ogretail.

God Eater Horrible History

Back to the game, and Bandai's answer to Monster Hunter, originally launched on the PSP in 2010, still kicks ass with a metric fuck-tonne of short and sharp beast-bashing missions. The series went God Eater (PSP), God Eater Rage Burst (PSP, an update to the original) 2013's God Eater 2 (PSP and Vita) then 2015's God Eater 2 Rage Burst (Vita, PS4 - another update with new beasts and missions).

So, while the engine isn't exactly cutting edge, and PS4 owners might feel a bit hard done by on the visuals front, what we do have is a slick and smooth Vita game to enjoy, with Cross Play against those very same PS4 players.

Once your character is ordained within Blood - I wonder what happens to the people who don't make it through? They get suited and booted, and are sent on a batch of training missions. The controls are pretty frenetic with lots of use of the triggers to switch between sword (or polearm) and gun, for targeting and various toggles. There's also a range of status bars to monitor, and the chaos of multiple allies and targets all rushing around to cope with.

Slashing around with the sword is fun, and the gun is brilliant, but naturally limited on power for bigger calibre weapons, in the early missions. Bullets on the other hand, there is literally a massive database on them and the whole Blood Bullet, Blood Rage and Blood Arts thing is a saga in its own right.

In fact the database probably comes close to spoiling the game, there's just too much in there. Cut it in half or have a best-fit auto-equip option. Still, I guess some players will love all the customisation, but I just want to get out there and blat things!

Out in the Wilds

When you've finished piddling around with upgrades and wading through the database, it is time for action. Pick missions, ranging from Standard, Hard, Extras, Special, Rage Burst and Even More Special, choose some comrades and get out there to slay things, which is the real heart of the game.

Perhaps the most fun move in a game ever is X,O which makes a character jump, set to light to a fart and rocket forward - well that's what it looks like. That helps you get around a little faster, and is useful when escaping a creature that's either charging or charging up. You can pick up winning battle strategies pretty easily, or just wade in and club things to death - both seem to work.

The tougher creatures require a little, but not much thought. The early battles last barely a minute, but as you advance, there's more groups to tackle, with a little route marching between them, allowing you to heal and restore. At the end of a battle you can dish out credits and rewards, just as you give them a stream of orders in the melee.

Every now and then a little bit of politics or drama in the cut scenes unfolds to add to the plot and drag the story forward, but you're generally battling in similar environments, Or, Emil launches into yet another long winded speech - either way you'll soon be battling more Arigami with the plot thickening all around you, as each character's story develops.

Trophies are distributed well, multiplayer is sparse, but growing and, apart from it being annoying when monsters run away to hide, this incarnation of God Eater has enough variety and bustle in battle to make it a long term hit.

Score: 9/10
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Price: £34.99 (PSN)
Developer: Bandai
Progress: Touring Asia with the joy of Resurrection to play