Friday, June 22, 2018

Xseed puzzles over London Detective Mysteria release

Visual novel London Detective Mysteria aka (Eikoku Tantei Mysteria: The Crown), is coming to Vita via a digital release this Autumn thanks to Xseed. I rather liked the Japanese trailers a few years back, so its good to see this one creeping out of the mist.

See it on show at Anime Expo. Diving into the curiosities that lie hidden in London’s darkest corners, you play as heiress of House Whiteley, interacting with personalities inspired by Victorian characters like Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper.

Players must choose their words carefully as they interact with other characters, as decisions made throughout the story will not only affect special rewards but will also shape whether Lady Whiteley finds love or something more sinister in the shadows of 19th century London.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Waking Violet officially announced for Vita by Mixed Bag

Having teased with a first image back in April, and the trophy listing somewhat spoiling the surprise, Waking Violet by Marco Mastropaolo is officially announced today, by publisher Mixed Bag as their farewell publishing release to the format.

Given I'll never forget the magic of Forma.8, and the fun of Futuridium, they'll always have a special place in my heart, and I'll pick up their future titles on any formats I own. Waking Violet is a native-res, 60fps game that sees the teenage heroine of the game trapped in a dream.

Using a classic 2D top-down approach she has to solve puzzles using a range of spells and the ability to turn back time, if she ever wants to wake up. Check out the launch trailer, with the game coming very soon.

Side Kicks developer eXtend teases new game

Extend, makers of the "why the hell isn't this coming west?" award-winning adventure Side Kicks, have a new game in the pipe.

No idea if its for Vita or not, but their previous projects were, and the company has put a hell of lot of post launch effort into Side Kicks suggesting that it still has a lot of faith in Sony's little handheld.

Here's hoping, and that someone notices how different Side Kicks looks from the usual VN fodder and will take a punt on a western version. Also, if they can write the teaser in English, how about the whole game to make an import easier?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Latest Media Create chart and Famitsu scores

God Wars: The Complete Legend was the only Vita release in Japan last week and made a modest launch across its multi-format release, managing 23,000 across digital and physical. In the Media Create chart, it managed 2,967 on Switch at No. 15, 2,649 on PS4 and failed to chart on Vita, but I'd guess around 1,200-1,500.

With combined retail sales of around 7,000, digital is more than 66% of typical sales now, which is impressive. Retails sales were poor compared to the previous release, Future Past, where it managed 5K each on PS4 and Vita. A western release for The Complete Legend for Switch is confirmed, but nothing for the Vita.  Still, we can just go play God Wars: Future Past.

Hardware sales fall, with Vita dropping back down to just above the 3K mark after a perky boost last time out. That takes it to over 100,000 for the year as we near the halfway point.

Check out last week's figures. Over in Famitsu land, a couple more PS Vita visual novels get well-rated in a quiet week for new titles.

Kurenai no Homura Sanada Ninpou Chou (Otomate) – 8/8/8/8
Dynamic Chord (Honeybee Black) – 8/8/8/7

Kemco's Antiquia Lost finds its way to Vita today

Its been a quiet few weeks on PSN as everyone takes a breath after May's spectacular releases. But the ball starts rolling again today with the arrival of Antiquia Lost from Kemco. A classic-style RPG, its Cross Buy with the PS4 version, it costs 14.99 euros, with PS Plus users getting a 20% discount for first two weeks! (£11.99, £9.59 discounted)

I can't see the game on the Vita store yet, but the web store has it here, and there's already a bunch of IAPs that make the game easier, at a modest cost.

The story of Antiquia Lost revolves around Bine, a young man who lives in a small rural village. He spends his days peacefully, doing jobs and dealing with demons for the villagers. One day, he is asked by Lunaria, a girl who lives near the village, to go with her to the royal capital, and so their adventure beings, full of the usual allies, skills, magic and skulduggery-dealing enemies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Would Fortnite work on the Vita?

After the Switch release, there's been a decent number of tweets asking Epic for a Vita version. I think they're based on extreme optimism, but really - I don't know, I'm not a coder or hardware guru, I'm asking for a friend. To avoid this being a really short post. Let's have a quick think about it.

Map Size

The key issue is the map size, which is pretty large in Fortnite. Someone worked it out at .7275 square miles. Obviously, the rush job that was Call of Duty kept its Vita maps tiny, as the developers had no time to optimise the game. Killzone Merc has some pretty large maps, but nothing that I can think of that comes close to the scale of Fortnite. And, while Justice for All (mission 1) showed a city flythrough, all the action takes place indoors in more confined spaces.

Could the Vita stream that amount of spatial and visual data, while keeping track of 100 players (briefly)?


When it comes to hardware, the Switch version has 4GB of RAM to play in, that's shared between CPU and GPU. The Vita has 512MB of RAM and 128MB of VRAM, which is tiny in comparison. making me think its not really a goer, especially when the Switch's raw speed is over twice times that of the Vita's 444Mhz, effectively allowing it to a lot more processing in a lot less time, (ARM Cortex A9 vs three ARM Cortex A57s cores running at 1GHz, with Maxwell graphics, pushing a theoretical 25.6GB/s throughput).

I'd suggest that's really where the idea falls down, but the Vita can do amazing things, so who knows!

Size and Detail

On the plus side, the game is only a 2GB download on the Switch, so it could easily fit on the Vita and PSN. Drop down the texture maps and reduce the polygon count (if that's beneficial) and it could be a little smaller, given Fortnite is quite low-poly anyway.

Another benefit here is that Fortnite plays using dynamic resolution, but the Switch version already sacrifices a lot of visual detail to get it running at 30fps, so I think the Vita version would look a lot worse. Interestingly the linked article says Fortnite on Switch can drop to 640 x 360, which is lower than the Vita's 960 by 544, but its all the other processing that would eat up meagre resources.


Assuming that Epic's coding gurus spent a lot of time trying to cram the game onto the Vita, would the results be competitive? Even if they managed a steady frame rate, playing it on the big screen on Switch is great fun. But, in undocked mode, things get a bit tougher with very small targets, very far away. Then again, the Switch is pretty horrible to play FPSes in, it just feels wrong, Vita should feel better.

Still, down the res for the Vita even further and you'd be shooting at air most of the time, which isn't fun. Presumably the game has aim assist for mobile device players, but how much more vague would Vita shots be compared to other players on different platforms?

If someone wants to give it a go, and capture all the optimisation tips from Vita coders past and present, I'm happy to give the results a try? Over to Epic! Hopefully, someone there can try to cram it in, even as exercise in curiosity, and who knows after that.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Steins Gate Elite opening movie tells an epic tale

Steins Gate is still one of the most emotional times I've spent with a game, and I'm wading through Steins Gate Zero at the moment. The new Elite version, a fully animated tale with some new routes through the original SG story, might not get a Vita western release, but it hits Japan in September.

Check out the new opening movie from 5pb and start asking western pubs (Spike Chunsoft) to get on with a Vita version! The limited editions come with an A4 80 page art book and posters and more goodies.

Sony's portable PlayStation options as PS5 and Android move on

Sony across its various divisions has made a lot of changes recently, from publishing on Nintendo Switch to changing tack on Android Home development, capped off by soft confirmation of a 2020 launch and inevitable leaks about the power of PlayStation 5 (aka PS4ProProPro).

With my little analytic head on, this creates a few interesting avenues for PlayStation (or wider Sony) if it is to reinvigorate its portable gaming plans.

The most obvious is that Sony, by launching a new Android Home app, could feature Remote Play as a key function, rather than just an extra app. Sure, Sony has tiny smartphone sales but they are still higher than Vita. But, if it rolls out the app across the wider Android universe, rather than just supporting recent Xperia devices, it could gain some traction.

Add in a specific, but flexible, Vita-style PS4-controller dock (rather than this kludge) and things suddenly get interesting. How about an official Vita emulator for Android, locked into PSN to go with it? Given Sony's piracy panic, that's perhaps a step too far.

Against this is Sony's anally-retentive control of the ecosystem and hatred of other devices (see the whole Fortnite on Switch thing!)  Talking of Switch, it would seem likely that the Unties project with Tiny Metal on Switch is dead, one release in six months and no great reviews or hype. Still, Unties continues to publish on PS4, so it could revisit the Switch, if the right Sony game turns up. Will that nudge more portable gamers to Switch, it can't hurt - which is why Sony probably won't do it!

A little sister for PlayStation 5?

Finally, there's the road to PS5. The lack of a Vita 2 created a massive hole in Sony's release schedule, not filled by the PS4 Pro or PSVR. Now the company is on the move to PS5 with its AMD next-gen graphics architecture Navi and Zen CPU, specifically for the Japanese giant’s upcoming console, there are some interesting developments.

AMD's first road map for Navi highlighted its scalability as a key feature. The 7-nano meter technology would be ideal for mobile, so there's a slim to fair chance that AMD could produce a comparable streaming-level architecture or reduced power/core version for HD portable gaming alongside the full-fat console version.

Developers could code once, deploy to both, with the smaller format automatically culling visual features for portable performance that few would notice. Failing that a kick-ass WiFi or 5G solution would make streaming direct off the console trivial, now that Remote Play is a fairly mature (if you have the right broadband) technology.

Likely none or maybe one of these ideas could come to fruition. Nothing sounds like a PS Vita 2, but a PlayStation 5 Remote Play device sounds a reasonably compromise considering the company's recent softer tone to on-the-go gaming.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why developers should partner for a Vita version of their game

The Vita has for some years perhaps been seen as a laughing stock to console and mobile developers. If you stick to the major sites, all developers see is the negative news, so why code for a dead device? And if the major developers are ignoring it, why should you care?

The truth is the Vita isn't for everyone. But for any developer where building a brand, gaining thousands of extra sales, or learning to interact with a community is important, the Vita is a great opportunity or training ground.

It comes with a welcoming community, helpful porters/coders offering plenty of advice, and savvy publishers and marketers who can get your game seen.

Community and Visibility

The community is the key part, whatever the total Vita sales, there's still a core ownership buying every decent game in sight, double dipping on physical releases, and doing a bunch of free PR for any release, no matter how small.

Sales on PSN may vary from just a few thousand to tens of thousands, most developers I've talked to characterise their sales as "on target" to "exceeding expectations." But the key benefit is visibility, there are a couple of new Vita releases a week, compared to the stacks of games tipping up on Steam, iOS and even on PS4.

A few stats and comments from your fellow developer/publishers' mouths.

Read Fabrice Breton's post-mortem on Demetrios to see how the Vita community punches above its weight....
Sales were pretty good on the portable console. Despite being announced as "dead" even before 2016, it still has a very strong community, and many indie and japanese game are still released. With a good reason – they still sell well enough to warrant ports! Even more important than sales is the players reception, and Demetrios was very well received by the Vita community! They absolutely loved it. I think the entire Vita community on Twitter knows about it. They're some of my biggest supporters now, and I thank them for it!
And the love continues to this day, as Cosmic Star Heroine proves (excluding digital sales),

Of course, there are limitations, the Vita doesn't support the latest versions of Unity, GameMaker and other coding tools. However, there are plenty of ways to get a game on Vita, and experienced coders have lots of tips in getting performance and frame rates up.

Even games where the coder has given up hope, a solution has often been found. And, porting to Vita can help performance on other devices.

I'll update this with further data, comments and resources from and for developers, but for now it acts as a simple place to point out to coders if they are thinking of a Vita title.

Vita sales bounce on 28 Days of Play bundle in Japan

Hot on the heels of the news of a Vita western release this winter, Fate Extella Link storms to the top of the Japanese Media Create chart on PS4 and Vita. The PS4 version sold 78.6K to the Vita's 38.1K, so more than double, showing the widening gap in format sales, but that's decent numbers for a Vita game in the current climate.

We'll get another comparison next week as God Wars comes out on both formats (and Switch) tomorrow in Japan.

That and the 28 Days of Play new Vita bundle helped lift hardware sales to just under 4,000 for the week. I'm guessing some of that is importers struggling to find Vita hardware in the west, quite a few new western Vita owners are showing off their new toys! 

Fate Extella Link e3 video

Xseed has a new trailer out with a winter western release scheduled for Fate Extella Link. Sign up here for the usual Musou mayhem  with added cleavage and some impressive looking backdrops. Coming digitally to Vita, it adds 10 newly added playable characters, updated visuals, added story and more. The game is playable on the e3 show floor if you're around.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Catherine Full Body trailer still coy on formats

Atlus USA has a new Catherine Full Body trailer up at E3, with a 2019 date, while completely forgetting to mention which formats might be appearing where. That doesn't really fill me with confidence. Even so, we should be able to import and play the Japanese version, I hope! The game isn't on the company's show floor list, so don't expect to hear anything more until TGS.

Muv Luv loves up the UK retail Vita chart

Don't do this very often, but the GFK UK retail sales ChartTrack has a couple of new entries in the form of the Muv Luv games from PQube. Shows the value of a well-thought out product, and proves that Vita owners are still buying games, even as Sony pretends it doesn't exist.

Interestingly, Europe-wide digital sales data (merging PSN, Steam and Xbox Live) is now available, but there's no obvious source to get a breakdown of sales!

New   1              Muv-Luv         PQube   
6         2              Metal Gear Solid HD Collection     Konami
New   3              Muv-Luv Alternative         PQube   
2         4              Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified     Nihilistic
Re       5              Grand Kingdom     NIS America
5         6              Assassin's Creed III Liberation     Ubisoft
7         7              Toukiden 2     Koei
4         8              Need For Speed Most Wanted     Criterion
Re       9              Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms     Idea Factory
Re       10            Legend Of Heroes Trails Of Cold Steel II     Nihon Falcom

Atelier of the New Earth coming to Japanese Vita owners

Japan's latest Atelier title "Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists" throws a town-building mode into the mix alongside the series favourite characters, including Sophie, Escha, Rorona and many others. The game is officially announced tomorrow, but there seems to be plenty of leakage for the game, possibly subtitled Atelier of the New Earth.

Will the Vita version be another weak production, or have the developers thought more about getting the best from both formats, rather than just cramming what they can from the PS4 version in an suboptimal mess? Chance of a western release? Pretty much nil.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Limited Run keeps it real at E3 with The House of Fata Morgana and more

If Vita owners want games, then Limited Run has shown the way with limited physical editions helping boost sales, attract developers and create a buzz around a niche platform that would otherwise be a lot closer to death.

The little company that roared had its own Twitch show today, wrapped in a fake E3 keynote, to highlight its latest reveals, with much of the Vita's remaining most-wanted titles getting boxed releases, plus some all-new additions, including:

All new The House of Fata Morgana 2019 release

BiFrost/Konjak's Iconoclasts.
MidBoss 2064:Read Only Memories (announced last year, but dev time!)
Sukeban's Va-11 Hall-A (also announced last year, but even more dev time!)

Senran Karuga Bon Appetit
Salt and Sanctuary
Phantom Breaker Battlegrounds Overdrive

Exile's End

Catch a replay here.
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