Friday, December 19, 2014

An early look at One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3

This first look at Pirate Warriors 3 in action, most likely PS4 shots, judging by the details. Still, here's roughly what we should be getting on Vita at some point in 2015, assuming Bandai gets the game, developed by Tecmo's Omega Force, over here.

There was a trailer released a few months back, with the game due out in March, but for such an ambitious looking project, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a delay.

Resident Evil trailer shambles on to the Vita

After almost a year of will it/won't it, we finally got confirmation that Resident Evil Revelations 2 will lurk onto the Vita next February back at PlayStation Experience. Capcom has released a first trailer of the games rendered intro. Its not much to look at, but hey, Resident Evil on a PlayStation portable platform, finally! Its only been 10 years, so yay for that.

Set between RE5 and 6, it puts us in the boots of Claire Redfield and her sizable arsenal for some episodic arse kicking. Not sure of the Vita version (which Sony is publishing) will hit the same launch date as the others, or if it'll manage the co-op gameplay, but here's hoping.

Hyperdimension Neptunia U Action Unleashed hitting up western Vitas

Idea Factory continues its onslaught of western releases for the Hyperdimension girls with the new "U" title subtitled Action Unleashed coming our way in 2015. In this game, the girls of Industri try their hand at 3D combat, which may or may not be a good move.

We have the first trailer and some Japanese screenshots to celebrate the news. This follows hot on the hells of the announcement of Hyperdevotion Noire coming west.

Features include:

 Street brawling! For the first time ever, your favorite Neptunia characters will have to hack ‘n’ slash their way through waves of enemies in real time! In the free-roaming stages, you’ll get to create chain combos both on the ground and in the air.

Two-person party! With the Dual System, you’ll be able to switch between two characters on the battlefield. Balance out each character’s strengths and weaknesses to create the ultimate battle duo, and even get some new playable characters – some of whom might be familiar from previous Neptunia games.

Let’s get physical! The heat of battle can cause some wear and tear on your outfits. When you experience a “Costume Break,” your outfits will tear.

Review: Resogun

Having said "it can't be done!" when the game launched on the PS4, here comes Housemarque's Resogun on the Vita and PS3 thanks to Climax Studios. Sure, they've chopped the frame rate down to 30fps, but guess what, that has no effect on its playability. Yes, the graphics (or the text for that matter) doesn't look quite so crisp, but that has no effect either.

Instead we have a classy looking arcade game with demolition and destruction around every corner. With three ships initially at your disposal, Nemesis, Ferox and Phobos, you roam around the curved landscape, trying to rescue humans Defender-style from the aliens, while trying not to be wowed by the vast destruction and wondering if they let some junior apprentice design the rather primitive baddies.

With the odd nod to Super Stardust, notably in the end-of-level giant baddies, it feels immediately familiar to play with tight controls of whichever ship you play as. The soundtrack is great, but only through headphones, the Vita's speakers really don't do the audio justice, but most of the effects are really bland however you listen.

Most of the fun comes from diving in and out of the waves of enemy fighters, blasting them with the dual stick controls. You sometimes wonder how you came out of some scraps as instinct takes over and the screen fills with enemies. But, if things get too hectic the bombs, boost and overdrive buttons will come to your rescue, letting you unleash some of your own mayhem. The later two are charged up by collecting the detritus of the baddies and building up the score multiplayer which is the key to getting up the online leaderboards.

With arcade and single level modes, plus online co-op to add to the fun, Resogun does look impressive but some weak design choices don't make it stand out among the Vita's crowded roster of top shooters. There's a few things I don't get. Why do some aliens move above the top of the game zone? If you're following them, you can get trapped up top by other waves, or blow your multiplier as they become unkillable, it seems an odd feature.

Then there's the feeble alien design, and I'm still not sure what made them think throwing rescued humans was a good idea, it just distracts you (and sometimes gets you killed). And the total lack of the PS4's DLC - surely that could have been bolted on if we're paying £10 for a port?

So, there's loads of good in Resogun, but I'm not sure why it was hyped as the best shooter ever, except for lack of choice at the PS4's launch, It isn't quite as tight or good as Super Stardust, and not as slick as TxK, Velocity 2X and a few of the other Vita killer killer apps!

Score: 7/10
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Price: £9.99
Dev: Climax/Housemarque
Progress: Lost in the zone

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Minecraft Story Mode from Telltale Games

Having gone to all the trouble of bringing Minecraft to the Vita, and it selling really well! And the fact that Telltale seems happy to support Sony's handheld, I'd guess this could be headed our way, a new tale from Mojang and everyone's favourite digital story tellers.

Minecraft Story Mode is a standalone adventure based in the blocky world, with a narrative-driven episodic adventure for PlayStation consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android-based devices.

Retro City Rampage dev touts Vita as growth platform

In an inciteful state of the market post for how Retro City Rampage has performed in various markets, VBlank cites the Vita as a valuable platform for developers.
PS VITA has been a very healthy market which is completely counter to the misappropriated console's stigma as a failure. With less AAA competition, it's easier to get store placement and store placement is what sells games. Over the past two years, sales on PS VITA have become proportionately higher than PS3. PS4 proves healthy as well. PlayStation developers releasing games in 2015 should prioritize PS4 followed by PS VITA.

Interestingly, a PSP version was in the works at one point. Hopefully, all the number crunching means the next game from the Studio will also hit the Vita, once they've ported RCR to every platform on the planet!

Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart battle trailer

The girls from Industri are getting ready to battle it out with a new batch of enemies in their first venture into strategy gaming. The Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart trailer from Idea Factory shows off some of the tactical maps, laden with tricks and traps, and some of the funky battle moves they have at their disposal as they battle to win the Gamarket?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

God Eater 2 Rage Burst getting flexible demo, new video

Bandai Namco is ramping up for the next installment of God Eater early next year. For a start, there will be a new demo, the data of which will carry over to the full game. Players can also use the same data across PSP/ Vita and PS4. They did drop this neat new cinematic trailer.

Finally, there will be a big fifth anniversary event on the 4th Feb, with news on the anime and perhaps some new projects from the team.

Week 50 in Japan, Vita selling 25,000 easy

As the Vita version of Minecraft hits 100,000 sales on the Japanese PSN, we look to the boxed copy sales to give the format a lift in Japan as it struggles to beat last year's highs. Sales according to Media Create are up a little on last week to just over 25,000, keeping them high but nothing like the stellar impact of FFX last year.

On the other hand, with no new games out, that's a decent figure. The PS4 manages to roar into life with 68,000 sales on the back of a GTA V bundle, but the 3DS remains king with 150,000 across the various versions.

The Vita is now only 10K ahead of last year's figures so will likely end up slightly down on the year. While there's lots of good stuff for Japan next year, looks like it will take nothing less than a full-on Monster Hunter game to lift the Vita above 1.1 million sales which it has managed in each of the last two years. Overall, Vita is approaching 3.5 million lifetime Japanese sales.

On the software side, there's no new Vita games out, with only Phantasy Star Nova skulking around the bottom of the charts. It should just keep into 150,000 territory before vanishing.

18./10. [PSV] Phantasy Star Nova (Sega) - 10.117 / 137.263 (-49%)

Review: Final Horizon

Fancy a spot of highly-focused tower defence with your seasonal gaming? Then Final Horizon fits the bill pretty well. There goes mankind, rushing off into deep space to colonise some new worlds, and look here comes a nasty arachnid race to punt us back into oblivion. Premise set, off we go with the humans needing help across a series of solar systems, planets and moons.

Each provides a tightly scripted battle with only a few units to place and a few bases to drop them on, so each level is about figuring out the right strategy and letting the sentry guns, missiles, aerial bombardments and other systems do their job to mince up the advancing spiders and their allies.

You need to get the right balance between power units to drive your weapons, and defensive kit to keep the hordes at bay. Energy is also used to repair bases, so a steady supply is your first priority. Once your base is set you only need to wipe out a fixed amount of invaders. Do the job and its on to the next level.

To spice things up you get to use of some of the weapons from the orbital Firestrike system to the big guns of the Strikeback cannon. This changes the perspective and puts you neatly into the action for a short while.

For some more longevity, there's scoring rounds and leaderboards, so you can play some traditional tower defence, but within the limits of the main game, that feels rather limited. There's also some extra DLC missions to grab, in the Dark Galaxy pack, if you really love the game.

With great weapon and bug design, this has a slight feel of the Atari revamped Battlezone on PC, but being bolted down to fixed defensive points really grated after a while. Hopefully there will be a sequel, if it sells enough and Eiconic will expand the game. Certainly each battle is finely pitched, if not exactly a fierce battle.

There are some fine touches, the world preview screens can be spun around to take a look at the gorgeous planets, and its fun to go back through the campaign missions and tidy up any objectives you missed.  Then there's some fluffs, like who gives out stacks of trophies in the VR training mode? That seems pretty pointless and the game itself offers little hardcore challenge until the bosses turn up, when everything goes rock hard.

Between those mega-challenges, there's plenty of fun in managing your meager resources, upgrading and strategising. Playable either on the trouchscreen or with the buttons, Final Horizon is a neat game with some good design, and some spots of hectic play, but a little more ambition could have easily made it a 9.

Score: 7.5/10
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Price: £7.99
Dev: Eiconic
Progress: Now arachnaphobic

Review: Rock Boshers DX

Another Vita upgrade with a DX bolted on the title, and do you know what, I have no idea why? But, let's not worry about that. Rock Boshers DX pays homage to the Spectrum era of simple gameplay and blotchy graphics.

From the Speccy loading screen to the dinky hero, everything is small but perfectly formed and the gameplay is tight but fun. The adventure sees a young Queen Victoria trapped on Mars while enslaved minions worry about food and cheese! The DX upgrade provides Cross Buy on the PS4, trophies and Cross Save, plus online leaderboards. But will you want this on a big screen? The small version certain looks good enough.

The action sees you dual stick moving-and-shooting Her Maj around the levels, completing tasks for some helpful folk to gain access to keys, guns, health and other goodies. Each level is a short dash of logic with a spritzer of panic as you try and avoid the zombies and other threats. There's lots of little hidden extras to collect for completeness sake that adds to the challenge of each level.

Although it looks deliberately primitive, certainly compared to Aqua Kitty, I prefer this more for its charm, quirky story and slightly devious nature. Given its unashamedly retro-nature, you might think this will be over in minutes, but there's plenty of challenge too with a bunch of extra arcade games and some genuine replayability!

Score: 8/10
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Price: £4.49
Dev: TikiPod
Progress: Now a Rocky fan

Switch Galaxy Ultra switches on today

Switch Galaxy is another graduate from the PlayStation Mobile school of gaming, coming full fat to gamers this week (next week in the US). With slip-sliding-on-rails action, it has all new art, a deep looking playfield, and a lot of nods to WipEout, which is no bad thing.

Check out the Atomicom Twitter feed for some recent cool screens, and get ready to race,

Operation Abyss heads west as Japan gets a sequel

NIS America is bringing Operation Abyss to western Vita owners in spring 2015. Now called Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy, it will be available as a both a digital and boxed release. Abyss is very much in the vein of the successful Demon Gaze, with a sci-fi, cyberpunk twist, as its from the same developers, Experience.
That comes hot on the heels of news that Japan will be getting a sequel to the game, also in 2015. It sold and reviewed modestly on launch, but I guess you can never have too many RPGs in Japan. Here's a pic from the original. In the game you need to recruit and train warriors to fight off a demonic, genetically modified, threat, using blood codes for customisation.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stein's Gate confirmed for western Vita release

PQUBE will bring the acclaimed visual novel from Mages, Nitro+, 5pb and Science Adventure Team to the Vita and PS3 in 2015 for a western audience. I've always loved the look of the series across its PSP and Vita incarnations and the story - an award-winning time travel science-fiction interactive is rated as one of the best visual novels ever.

STEINS;GATE follows a rag-tag band of tech-savvy young students who discover the means of changing the past via text message, using a modified microwave. Their experiments into how far they can go with their discovery begin to spiral out of control as they become entangled in a conspiracy surrounding SERN, the organisation behind the Large Hadron Collider, and John Titor - a mysterious forum poster who claims to be from a dystopian future.

Interaction with the game takes place through the "phone trigger" system, where the player can receive calls and text messages and decide whether to reply to them or not, changing the outcome of the game’s plot. A gripping and moving Visual Novel, which has already spawned manga and anime adaptations. PQube has a Facebook page up where fans can gather in anticipation - see you there.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vita games of the year, 2014

Just noticed its nearly Christmas as every site opens up its game of the year debates/votes/contests. If you take a look at EuroGamer's poll, Danganronpa, Danganronpa 2, Freedom Wars,Velocity 2X and TxK are the Vita exclusives in a long list. Feel free to drop them a few votes as you can list up to five games.

Destructoid also has a nice long list to choose from, with Tales of Hearts R, Ys Memories of Celceta and Soul Sacrifice Delta among the others on the roster. But you can only pick one. I'm sure there are plenty of others.

Unfortunately, those polls have no chance of getting a Vita game near the top. So, what's the best game you've played on your Vita this year? The sad truth is I haven't yet played Freedom Wars or Tales or Sword Art Online (both on the Christmas list), so I can't comment on them. So, I guess February's TxK has to my top original Vita game, and that's not just the hypnotic effect talking.

It synthesizes 33 years of arcade class into your hands with a full-res display of glowing, warping, twisting pulsing lights and effects. It proves the Vita can do simple, very, very well, and make me wonder why there's no Crystal Castles or Gravitar among the many other arcade clones.

There are many other cool shooters on the Vita, some playing the nostalgia game very well. Ultimately, only Velocity 2X comes close in terms of twitch perfection and polish. I guess the sick and twisted Danganronpa 2 would have to be my favourite big release, if only for being so far outside most gamer's usual comfort zones.

And if you want a left-field game on top of that then Pix the Cat came out of nowhere, vanished up its own portal in a blaze of colour and keeps popping back up on my playlist. What's your favourite game of the year? Let us real Vita fans know in the comments.