Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Vita on a tear as sales soar*

*by 2017 standards

Vita sales last week in Japan were 8,483 according to Media Create figures, helping drag the Sony machine a little away from obsolescence in the seasonal sales. The numbers are tracking currently at about half of last winter's figures. Over the year, the portable is headed for around 350,000 units, so down two-thirds in a year.

Things would be a lot better if Sony had launched a HD Vita/PS4 Remote Player a year ago as Switch continues to eat its cake, lunch and babies, with 165,000 sales over the week! That double the PS4's combined sales and pisses all over Sony as the company runs out of steam and ideas fast.

Again, there are no Vita games in the software chart, but Digimon Hacker's Memory and the Japan-Vita-only Atelier Lydie are out this week, which should make a decent dent.

On the plus side, Vita is outselling the New3DS and 2DS, Xbox One and Xbox One X, Wii U and PS3 showing how stunning the hardware was for its time, with its seventh birthday in Japan next week!

Last week's figures, here's the historical chart for a giggle!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Steamworld games go physical this week

Probably mentioned this before, but Steamworld Dig and Steamworld Heist go physical this week thanks to Limited Run Games for $24.99 each with a 3K production run. PlayStation TV compatibility is a new feature.

Image & Form's critically acclaimed SteamWorld games will be available as complete physical editions on the PlayStation Vita. Each is fully patched with any applicable DLC included on the cart.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review Xenon Valkyrie +

Fabrice Breton brings Vita owners a delicious slice of arcade roguelike action in the form of Diabolical Mind's Xenon Valkyrie +. The plus indicates the game has various gameplay improvements over the PC original.

A blocky little pixel actioner,  you land on an imperiled planet where an evil witch has taken control of the machines. Starting off by picking from one of three crew, weak but nimble, strong but slow etc. Initially, you have a couple of easy levels to explore, learn the ropes and level them up to face the first boss, with much tougher battles beyond that.

Your crewman ventures out into the first levels, an Ancient Techforest. Armed with swords, guns, grenades and the odd special move like a super leap to reach higher areas, they stumble around the randomly generated levels. Note there's no penalty/death for falling, but deciding when to use your sword or gun is a key life skill.

Another tactic is wall climbing and learning how far you can jump or how to get into the narrow gaps where chests packing health and credits may be stashed. Spend a little time learning the ropes, and you can save a lot of pain! Some levels feature a locked treasure chest that might have a better weapon, a useful tool or just a random piece of crap.

Leveling up and finding cash is important as, at the end of each level, you can buy some stock goods like shields, ammo and health, while upgrading your health, strength or defensive capabilities based on your character level. Still, there's nothing quite like racing through the level leaving a trail of carnage in your wake. You can also return to the top of each level, a wise move if you missed a chunk out through a big fall or found a good chest but couldn't reach it from below.

In the early going, learning about the game is vital. Some enemies can be easily killed just by whacking them from above, others will explode after a few hits, while some leap around madly. Figuring out who does what and how to get around will help build your character up for the first boss battle.
In these, the screen is dominated by a trigger-happy fiend who will take a little more figuring out how to kill. Beat him, her or it, and you can return to the surface. If you've found enough rare metal Teamerite, you can trade it in for some proper rare weaponry, before setting out again to the deeper levels.

As the opposition gets tougher, and the levels more complex, you can use grenades to blast rocks and create your own paths, ideal for accessing that hard to reach reward or to make it easier to kill tougher enemies. But, with leaping, exploding creatures all around survival becomes a serious challenge the deeper you go.

If you want a closer look, check out 12 minutes of gameplay here. With lots of little rules and skills, you really need to pay attention. Pure fun to play, Xenon Valkyrie is packed with challenge, for such a little game. The desire to do better on my next run after yet another permadeath hasn't worn off yet, and to find out what the other tools are weapons are. The chiptune soundtrack is sumptuous and the tiny graphics work well on the Vita's screen.

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £TBC (PSN)
Developer/publisher Diabolical Mind/Cowcat
File size 90MB
Progress: Deeper underground

Super Robot Wars X physical announced in Asia with English subs

Fancy some Super Robot Wars that isn't all Japanese? Bandai Asia is releasing a subbed version over there. Available on PS4 and Vita in digital and physical form, if you're heading to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines or Indonesia after 26th April, pick one up or get importing.

Wow, Bandai really is pushing the boat on this, here's a translated interview with producers Shinya Satake and Takanobu Terada explaining what's new and fun in this version.

Bandai shows off more Cyber Sleuthing Digimon action

This seven-minute clip is probably lots of stuff we've seen before, I don't have the time to go through all of Bandai's previous output for the new Hacker's Memory game to check. Either way, enjoy it, and wonder why they didn't go the Pokemon Go route and add an AR mode? 

The game is out in Japan this week, coming west in early 2018, and since the first outing was pretty fantastic fun, expect plenty of love for the game as a new generation of beasties are bred and evolved.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Papers, Please gets documented on Vita next week

How funny is that? In the previous story on Stardew Valley I casually mentioned that all we need is Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please on the Vita and we have the essential indie set. Lo and behold, just a day later, Lucas tweets his game is coming out next week.

UPDATE: here's the trophy list

Check out the original PC trailer, not that there’s much to see in a game of passport control paperwork. Any other indie games left that we really need?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Merry Christmas, Stardew Valley heads to Vita in ‘18

Probably the best news we’ll get before Christmas. The Stardew Valley dev blog has confirmed a portable edition of the popular farm game. That comes after a few non-committal comments over the year. All that leaves is Papers, Please and we have pretty much all the key indie games that will likely fit on a Vita. Thanks will be Cross Buy with the PS4 version, but no multiplayer, can live with that!

With even low-ploy games struggling to run on Sony’s ageing hardware do shout if you think there’s anything else we need.

Japan trailer Friday

More Gintama Rumble, 13 minutes of gameplay this time to enjoy/.

A new sing-song VN tale of love and happiness in Fortissimo, with a couple of trailers from Idea Factory, hitting the high notes in March 2018.

And finally, the latest Code: Realize trailer with about nine minutes of talking gameplay.

Idea Factory shindig shows off Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms characters

Idea Factory had its little west-coast party last night with a few new bits to share across PS4, PSVR and Vita. The upshot for portable lovers was a new trailer for the visual novel Hakuoki Edo Blossoms, out next spring.

It features some pivotal moments in your quest to romance handsome samurai bachelors. The young Chizuru, determined to find her father, will romance the famous warriors of Shinsengumi through a series of engaging stories and dramatic events. Now, experience new characters, love interests, and episodes in the world of Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Party in One More Dungeon next week

Here's the launch trailer for Ratalaika's One More Dungeon, a rare FPS outing for the Vita. Somewhere between the original Wolfenstein 3D and Hexen era, it offers a roguelike shooter, with procedurally generated levels and pixel-art graphics. The game is Cross Buy and Cross Play with the PS4.

Your mission is to reach a final level deep within the dungeon and destroy the obelisks that are used by forces of Evil to invade the world. Using melee weapons, magic staff and antique artefacts to wade through the hordes of enemies while finding the many secrets!

Features include:

  • Procedurally generated levels.
  • 30+ types of enemies and 80+ items.
  • A Sanity level that can reduced by using artefacts acquired in-game.
  • Customisable gameplay in the form of modifiers that can be tweaked prior to playing, to tailor make the gameplay to one of your choosing.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Iconoclasts to take on the Vita in January

Some two years after the original reveal trailer, Iconoclasts finally has a release date, on the 23rd January. That's what comes of one man taking on a crazy mission to recreate his own vision of platforming perfection, step forward Joakim Sandberg, aka Konjak.

Here's a fresh launch trailer and you can read more on the PlayStation blog. It looks epic in scale and I hope all those crystal and snow scenes really pop on the Vita's OLED.

There's also a new website to check out!

Vita sales on the up in Japan

Could the comeback be on? While the Switch manages to sell 125,000 in Japan last week, Vita sales stormed past the 6K barrier to 6,127 units! That's thanks to seasonal sales, which while still poor compared to previous years should convince developers that the Vita will be viable in 2018. Spring still looks pretty strong for the Vita in Japan with new games being announced daily.

Unfortunately, while Switch games boss the Media Create chart, there are no Vita games to be seen in the top 20. Over in Famitsu land, Bandai's Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Hacker’s Memory on PS Vita and PS4 grabbed a feisty score or 9/9/9/8  for 35/40 to be the best-rated game. It lands in Japan next week, so could make an impact.

Last week's figures

Trailer trash Wednesday, Certain Magical Virtual-On vs Shantae DLC

UPDATE: Prototype's Alice: Heads & Tails romance VN has a fresh trailer with a gorgeous soundtrack, the rest looks pretty by the numbers with derigeur pastel art and doey eyes all over the place.

More madness from Sega Japan, with a decent look at Certain Magical Virtual-On, we've seen the intro clip before but stick around for some gameplay, multiplayer and even a hint at the PS4/PS Vita Cross Play mode.

Over here, Shantae gets another bunch of levels thanks to the Friends to the End update, the last part of the Shantae: Half-Genie Hero story. When Shantae falls prey to dark magic, it’s up to Shantae's BFFs Sky, Bolo, and Rottytops to save her from a Nightmare Realm of her own imagining!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Super Hydorah shoots into action next week

Abylight helped bring Cursed Castilla to the Vita recently, and they're firmly on the retro bus now with Super Hydorah. This classic-looking shooter with heavy-on-the-scanline effect display looks like it came right out of the Psygnosis or Thalamus era.

In Super Hydorah, an evil force has launched an invasion of the Omios star. As the most skilled and deadly pilot in the galaxy, you face the dreadful menace of the Meroptians, bio-mechanical creatures set in a ruthless war of conquest. Equip your ship, select a route and fight planet by planet against the hordes!

Well-rated on Steam, the Vita version is limited to single player only, but still has lots to offer. Including:

  • 21 levels divided into 35 sublevels, 35 bosses and more than 100 enemies
  • Non-linear level layout with route selection
  • Dangers of different nature in each level (not just bullets)
  • Weapon selection and power-ups in every mission
  • Memorable and epic original soundtrack by Gryzor87
  • Secrets, multiple endings, achievements plus rank system
  • Robot chase minigame adapted to single player
  • Trophies and cross-buy option
It seems a little pricey at €19.99, but with plenty of shooters on the Vita, including Sky Force I guess there's a roaring trade. 

Attack on Titan 2 dated 15 March for Japan

No western release for the Vita, but you should be able to import the Japanese version and play along, since it looks broadly similar to the first game. And, after all, the endless shouting is pretty much the same in any language. Famitsu has some fresh art and screens, while the new trailer shows off how good it will look on the PS4.