Tuesday, October 17, 2017

As predicted, Sony starts to publish for the Switch

We all know Sony has given up on the Vita, but still has a good roster of games that it could use for other portables. Enter the Switch, and cue Sony wondering how it could switch, without looking like a total turncoat.

I figured this would happen not long ago - and Sony has now shown its hand by letting Sony Music handle publishing duties. For now, it is using the new Unties label (ho ho) to publish third-party content like Tiny Metal from Area 34 on Switch, PC and other formats.

But if the "experiment" proves a success, expect a roster of Sony titles like Locoroco, Patapon and so on to get a "third party" port. Guessing it won't be far into 2018 after Sony ceases production of the Vita that we see the first PlayStation game to make its way over.

Other titles on the way from Unties include Last Standard and Merkava Avalanche and DEEMO Reborn.  Japanese details of the news here.

Obviously, there's no shame in making money off a rival console, just a shame Sony hadn't realised that portable/hybrid gaming could work, if it had shown some faith.

The wider Sony company haemorrhaging money during the Vita years didn't help, but this will be something of a gut punch for die-hard fans.

Monday, October 16, 2017

New Gintama Rumble trailer wades into battle

Set for an early 2018 release across Asia, Gintama Rumble will only be available on the Vita in Japan, here's the latest trailer showing off the One Piece alike in action, The Asian English language version is PS4 only and it seems very likely that Bandai US/EU will pass on a Vita western version. Still, if you like these Musou-style games, then you might want to give it an import and enjoy the whack-a-mole battling.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Rogue Aces nearly ready for take off

With luck, Infinite States' Rogue Aces is now with Sony for QA checking on the Vita and PS4. Whisper it quietly but a pre-Christmas release could be on the cards for this fun shooter with the huge mustaches.

While folk may politely cough *Lufrausers* in its direction, there's a generation of gamers trained on Harrier Attack and many more. While we wait, check out the latest test video of the game in action, and get ready for lots of boring men talking about boring machinery! Woof!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Chaos Child out now in Europe

I've covered pretty much all there is to know about the world of Chaos Child and its place in the Science Adventure series in previous posts, but now the game is here for £34.99 on the UK PSN or in stores. Check out the launch trailer and hope it sells well enough to see PQube continue to release these fantastic visual novels in the west.

The game about violent murders and alternate realities from 5pb and Mages hits the US in a couple of weeks.

Review Son of Scoregasm

We may have to invent some new swear words for Son of Scoregasm, since you can't really play this in bed next to your significant other or in a room with the family and not get really, really mad at it.

Well, not mad at the game as such, but your poor judgments, control skills or perhaps just luck. This game is as tightly wound as a clock spring, and one mistake sees your quest to finish a tough level explode in pieces.

Son of a gun

Son of Scoregasm is about trading off your score for survival, you can shoot your enemies down with guns, but don't score points. To get points you need to use your pulse shield to zap those at close range and collect the resulting power-ups to boost your multiplier. That will send your score soaring, the game's simple but brilliant mechanic. The more you shoot, the more powerful your gun gets but the more you use your pulse, its limited power will crap out on you at the worst second.

During this trade off, the nasties will be on your tail at all times, pixel close. One fractionally late button press or wrong choice and you're toast. Or biscuits, which is what the wafer-thin plot is all about, rescuing the King's biscuits. At least each level only lasts 60 seconds-ish, so you can be straight back in the action.

Out-run the enemy

Each level's enemies have different movement patterns, additional hazards like laser grids and crushers or force bombs. But once you learn the right pattern to move in, you can concentrate on building up a massive score to compete on the live leaderboards. There's also an easy or hard exit to the next level giving you some flexibility in how you play.

You can also pick any accessed level to play in score mode, to try and master it and earn a medal if you meet the high score requirement. With small but well-formed polygon graphics and a clever unified map, the game looks gorgeous with lots of little effects, but nothing that distracts from the heat of battle. The electronic soundtrack from John Marwin is suitably pacy and the effects are crisp on headphones.

As an older gamer, who thought nothing of a five-hour single game of Atari ST Tetris, this is intense stuff, I'll never be near the top of the leaderboard due to my now-creaky reactions, but I do love the challenge. Talking of, why are there only 30 people playing this game? Apart from Sony failing to put it on the PSN front page of the Vita app. Buy it now!

Oh, and then there's expert mode, don't even ask! Also, the trophies seem a little glitchy, so except an update soon.

Score: 8/10
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Price: £5.79 (PSN)
Size: 62MB
Dev: Charlie's Games
Progress: Across the board

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Son of Scoregasm out now on EU PSN

Stay on target, as the Vita gets another great shooter to add to the roster. Son of Scoregasm from Charlie's Games arrived overnight on the EU PSN, for just £5.79. A game of saving biscuits to a trippy electronic soundtrack, it is basically an excuse for vibrant shooty fun across the galaxy in a range of slightly twisted levels with changing rules, threats and lashings of bullet hell.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tokyo Clanpool flops as Vita countdown to extinction continues

DRPG Tokyo Clanpool sold just 5,200 at retail according to Media Create data in Japan, landing at No. 12, meaning that even a decent and well-promoted game sells no better than some generic visual novel titles. Digital sales may be helping Compile Heart's game, but from a public perspective, all Vita news is bad. That's reflected in the latest Vita sales that dive again to just over 3,500, down a couple of hundred in just a week.

Other recent flops include Kadokawa's The Lost Child selling 3,658, when even just a year ago all-new titles like Mary Skelter managed 18,358 sales while Furyu's Caligula sold 31,243 sales. Perhaps it is just DRPGs that are out of favour now, but week after week Vita releases are showing up with reduced sales.

Next up is the quirky Itadaki Street on the 19th, will flinging characters from Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest into a board game make more of an impact? Demon Gaze II will further test the waters for DRPGs with the Global Edition release in mid-November.

With Sony having missed all the seasonal opportunities to do anything to promote the Vita, the tick-tick-tick down to zero continues. Developers continue to flock to Switch and fans are left wondering what could have been if Sony had bothered with a HD, CPU/GPU upgrade a year or two ago.

Grab any Vita consoles you can because when production ends, prices are likely to shoot up, even though we still have a good year or two of games on the way.

Previous chapters in this sorry saga!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Text patch on the way for Ys VIII

I've noticed a couple of typos or quirky uses of phrases (like the below pic) in the latest Ys, but apparently, there are quite a few, which has put out some bad vibes around what is an awesome game. To that end, Takuro Yamashita, President and CEO of NIS America, has released an official statement regarding the localization of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA.

To All Customers of Ys VIII,

Thank you for all the feedback and support we have received since the launch of Ys VIII. It has
come to my attention that the quality of the Ys VIII localization has not reached an acceptable
level by our own standards, but most importantly by yours. As president of NIS America, Inc. I
want to apologize to you personally for this grave error. This situation should not have happened
– especially to a game as wonderful as Ys VIII and by a company that strives to deliver the very
best customer experience in each title. We have begun internally to investigate the causes of this
situation as well as to implement steps to ensure that a similar situation does not occur again.
As for Ys VIII itself, we will have a new translator and editor go over the entire localization to fix
grammatical errors, typos, inconsistencies, and also to take a fresh look at the dialog and
characterizations. For the script, where necessary, we will re-translate and re-edit the game
including updating voicework to reflect these changes. We plan to have this work done by the
end of November and will offer the updated localization free of charge for both the PlayStation
4 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game via patch. The Steam version of the game will
include this localization in its initial release.

Review Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle

From the brief stories about the Japanese version, this has always looked like a pretty basic title, relying on the characters and their skills to give it some depth. Unfortunately, Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle doesn't seem to be deep in any capacity, apart from making me hate it lots.

Breaking away from the RPG titles like Genso Wanderer, it lets the girls of Touhou engage in some one-on-one battling. Led by shield maiden Reinu, you go from stage to boring stage engaging in some of the worst fighting action since the Atari Jaguar tried to do Virtua Fighter.

Bland worlds, poor level construction, boring characters, boring "plot", crap effects, piss-poor special moves are just some of the problems that put this in line to be the worst Vita game ever. While the girls all have a range of magical powers, they are pretty much just variations on the same feeble ball lighting effects, and see you bounce around the level trying to avoid them with no tactical skill involved at all.

Yes, you can put in blocks to stop the "bullet hell" attacks, and special cards come into play from time to time, but the developers have clearly, never, ever played a fighting, battling or wizardly game. All we get is a sack of crap. as Meiling and others spout inane drivel at each other.

With only nine characters there isn't even much variety and given the super-niche nature of the game, good luck with finding someone to play in the game's online mode. Each girl has a story to follow, but they are so shallow and banal, few will even bother to wade through them all.

Ironically, the game does have a neat digital manual that shows all the commands and concepts off, but in action, Burst Battle quickly descends into a farce. To think, some people might get this for the PS4 or Switch, imagine how depressed they will be.

Some skills are overpowered, others are too annoying to even want to use, but whatever you try to do, you'll only come away from this game feeling either very disappointed or ripped off. Note that new updates add more stages and characters, but they really fail to make any difference to how poor Touhou Kobuto actually is.

Score: 2/10
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Price: £29.99 (PSN)
Size: 670MB
Dev: NIS America/CubeType/Play.Doujin
Progress: Hating it with a passion

Cowcat bringing Xenon Valkyrie to the Vita

Diabolical Mind's Xenon Valkyrie+ is a sci-fi rogue-lite platformer game with RPG elements being ported to the Vita by Cowcat (of Demetrios fame) and promising lots of improvements over the PC original. Arriving this winter, it features three heroes battling across a scarred moon.

You must fight to the deepest part of a moon and halt the plans of a wicked witch. Along the ay, you find many weapons to fight through the unique, randomly-generated world. Encounter many characters, stores and enemies that tell a legendary story. With traditional graphics and high quality chiptune music, level up and get the amazing power of the Xenon Valkyrie!

Review Semispheres

Just when you think people are running out of ideas for puzzlers, along comes Semispheres, a twin-stick mental challenge with a roster of cunning twists to turn your brain into soup. Spread over 13 levels of four/five challenges each, your simple aim in life is to guide two drones to the finish portals.

The game arrived on PC earlier this year and is a pretty fast port to the Vita and other consoles, with a stack of kudos and awards behind it. So, well done to Eastasiasoft and Vivid Helix for getting it to console pronto.

The early levels have the two blobs helping each other out, avoiding relatively robotic guards, while remaining fixed on their half of the screen. But soon they can switch places on maps, make distraction sounds in each other's half through portals and other tricks to add a fresh level of mental dexterity. Imagine playing two games of Volume at once, and you're pretty much there.

There's no time mode that I'm aware of, and Sid Barnhoorn's ambient soundtrack leaves you to solve each puzzle in your own pace. Visually striking with a rich layer of detail and some pleasant lighting, it feels very charming, while trying to scramble your mind.

Complete a set of puzzles and you get to see a few frames of the story behind this adventure, but in play everything is pretty ambiguous. What are the guards guarding, are your twins blobs, drones, a symbiotic jellyfish? Who knows.

Nurse, pass the brain extinguisher, please!

Sometimes you need to finely time both characters' progress at once, on other levels its a step-by-step process with some back and forth. Being zapped by a guard can often be a useful tactic, and sometimes you can iterate one trick across the two halves to make progress, while at other times you are trying two very different tactics.

All of these tricks leave your brain trying to keep up as the puzzles get tougher, controls reverse as the drones swap over, across what is a deeply cunning challenge. Still, you're well rewarded with a solid stream of gold and silver trophies for making steady progress, for one of the more rewarding games out there. It is a little pricey for what's a very short game with little replay value, but those puzzles do make it a great couple of hours.

Price: £9.49 (PSN)
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Score: 8/10
Dev: Vivid Helix
Size: 360MB
Progress: Completed

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Ys VIII Lacrimosa of Dana

Okay, so we didn't get Trails of Cold Steel III, but damn has Falcom delivered with Ys VIII! If it does happen to be the last big Vita RPG, we go out with a charming and engrossing adventure that has the perfect level of appeal.

As ever, Adol Christin takes the helm in this latest Ys epic tale that starts out on the high seas, but soon moves to a deserted island. One that's anything but empty. Picking up a fine cast of friends and acquaintances to help out, what starts out as a quest for survival becomes a little gem of village and resource management.

Creatures litter the island, but they look like they belong here, unlike in many games, and most are easy to love, with little bugs, birds and others doing minimal damage to the party. The giant beasts that form set pieces are also gorgeously coloured and designed.

Combat, exploring, item harvesting and management are all enabled so naturally and effectively, the game never wastes time diverting you from the story or disrupting the sense of adventure. Even chat and banter is kept to acceptable levels. Also, since key characters are running the stores and upgrades, they feel part of the story and not the usual tacked-on extras.

The story is driven by the arrival of Dana, who appears at first in Adol's dreams and then takes center stage in her own right, with her own adventure. It takes a while for the sagas to mesh, but becomes a great bit of pushing you on to see what happens next. With a party of three warriors you can soon drop people in and out to suit particular battles or play with your favourites, and there's a pleasingly constant supply of upgrades and new gear.

Combat is a mix of special moves, jumping, blocking and wielding a few big weapons to devastating effect. The wolves, sea horses, dinosaurs and other monsters look like they belong on this island, unlike the freaks most RPGs through at you. The odd mid-ranking creature or fixed point boss adds a little action, but you rarely feel outgunned, allowing the story and fighters to scamper along at speed.

If you do feel under-powered, then there's plenty of DLC extras to buy, but the game never forces these down your throat. One note that in some places, you can't access what would normally be useful items, as the boss hems you in, one of quite a few quirks.

Not quite a Love Island

Okay, not everything has perfectly meshed in this adventure, waves of monster invasions take place, with everyone panicking like cats and an Interception battle taking place. Yet, I had time to do a couple of missions, upgrade my armour, explore the island and do loads more, because you have to trigger these events by talking to a specific person, which wasn't clear.

Similarly, some big monster set pieces are farcial as you can run away and pick it up later in the day, while people often refer to things as-yet-undiscovered, as if the captain's parrot is an expert in woodwork being one example.

That kind of ruins the sense of urgency, and since it is easy to pre-complete a lot of many collecting sub-quests before you are assigned them, a little more flexibility is needed from the quests. Also, the game has rather cheekily blocked sections off that you need enough people to access, despite the fact our heroes are vine climbing, jumping demons, so seems rather trite blocking the adventurer's progress with a bit of a log or big boulder.

Yes, the PS4 version has been tarted up a bit and adds a few more features (for £15 more on PSN), but the Vita version is so gorgeous on OLED I don't think it matters with Ys' traditional awesome soundtrack, and being portable means I can enjoy this fantastic adventure anywhere. Ys VIII's engine could bring many more great tales to the Vita if Falcom is keen enough, here's hoping!

Score: 9/10
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Price: £34.99 (PSN)
Size: 3.2MB
Dev: NIS America/Falcom
Progress: Booking my tickets to Seiren Island

Squareboy vs Bullies launch trailer

Its another choatic week of Vita game launches to enjoy, from the tiny to the mighty. From Ratalaika comes Squareboy vs Bullies, a retro beat 'em up with retro pixel art graphics and OST featuring 14 chiptune tracks.

As the square, you'll take on the bullies in across your hometown of Squareburg, with a new Arena mode and bullies for the Vita version. At only £4.99 on the UK PSN, the game arrives on the 12th and is part of a herd of games out this week.

God Eater 3 announced, get out your Remote Play

Is this another Code Vein trailer or is God Eater 3 actually a thing, it is increasingly hard to tell the difference. Anyway, looks like the Vita won't be blessed with yet another episode of demon slashing, so we can either go back and play God Eater 2: Rage Burst some more, or use Remote Play if you are lucky enough to own a PS4.

Formats haven't been announced yet, except "home consoles" but a peek into the code shows no sign of a Vita (or Switch) version. Here's the blurb...

Many years have passed since the last battle. Earth is no longer a place where humans reside. Terrifying beasts known as ‘The Aragami’ are still raging around the world creating misery and destruction. To save the world and re-establish the balance, new heroes have risen, The God Eaters; those who have been gifted or cursed with new versions of the God Arc weapons (special implants powered by Aragami cells). Team up with your other God Eaters to take down these monstrous new Aragami that are tearing apart locations around the globe. But this won’t be your only mission, something is happening to the God Eaters and the line between dark and light has never been so thin… It’s time to break the cursed shackles that bind the soul of the God Eaters.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Yomawari Midnight Shadows trailer of spookiness

The original Yomawari was an innocent delight in scaring. Midnight Shadows seems to have a bit more depth to it, with a bigger town, more indoor scenes to explore and many things that go bleugh in the night.

Midnight Shadows stars, Yui and Haru, as they try to find each other and make it home safely in their own innocent little way against the dark. The game is out in just a couple of weeks and is a perfect counterfoil to all the must-to-more-gore games that line up each Halloween.