Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vita sales firm in Japan as Splatoon 2 dominates

Vita sales remain firm, more like set in concrete, in Japan with the latest Media Create figures showing yet another 4,500 units sold last week. That's not surprising with just one new modest entry, World Election from Piacci at No.18 that sold just 3,017.

The Vita roster is looking pretty skinny these days, especially with Splatoon 2 selling over 600K (and Switch just under 10K), so nothing but a big hit or seasonal sales is likely to move that black-and-red iron bar up.

There's nothing much happening for the Vita until 24 August when The Lost Child and Yomawari: Midnight Shadows hit.

Last week's figures


One for the kids, It's Spring Again

A well-rated PC and mobile game, It's Spring Again, is an educational game for children ages two and up. It uses game mechanics to teach children about the seasons and has just the four trophies, which is the only reason I found out about the game. Arriving on Vita and PS4 soon, thanks to developer Baba Yaba Games, it could help keep those little relatives quiet for a while with its impressive art style and simple mechanics.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Review - Volume

There was a particular purity about Thomas Was Alone that carries over into Volume, even with the move from flat pixels to 3D and a funkier sci-fi plot. Volume is also one of those games that despite being available on PS4 and PS VR fits best on the Vita, even if it might not quite have the fluidity of the big screen or immersive versions.

You play as Locksley, a modern day avatar of the Robin Hood character. He is aided by VR/AI creation Alan (Danny Wallace), who is being used to hack into the treasures of a corrupt British regime, and to stream footage out to others to ferment rebellion. Defending the status quo is Gisborne, a techno Theresa May or Liam Fox, voiced by the king of computer-generated characters, Andy Serkis.
When your world starts to fall apart
Each of 100 core levels is a compact puzzle with a range of tricks, and security-guard traps to overcome to collect the treasure and escape. Caution and timing are your watchwords. While there is a community best-time leaderboard, you can worry about those later. Instead, you start out, treading cautiously around, working out the route and learning from your many mistakes.
Mike Bithell in his blue period
Tricks such as whistles, jumping mute buttons, alarm cancellers and noise makers will help you past the guards. You can see their cones of vision and regular patrol routes, and generally, know where they will go if you alert them. Creeping along the walls, hiding in cupboards and a good, old-fashioned leg it to the exit all add to the fun! New tricks are added later on like the Blackjack to stun enemies, so things never get stale.

The stark atmosphere, the many notes you find along the way and the slightest scope of different paths mean Volume never gets boring or leaves you stuck in that one place. You can put the Vita down for a few minutes, try the user-created levels for a spot of fun, or try to beat some of those times.

Whatever, the game never feels pushy or has the vicious degree of addictiveness that can lead to hatred and 4AM where-did-my-life-go? moments. Like a good British afternoon tea, it is a game to be savoured, enjoyed not rushed through in a blur of chemical romance.

The deeper review bit...

Normally around here in a review, I start looking for deeper mechanics or meaning, trying to link characters to classic archetypes (or talking about fishing minigames with an axe to grind). But Volume is a pure and simple affair, politics aside. There's no bolted-on social interactions or a sudden appearance of a fishing minigame (I think).

Instead, you can build your own levels with the brilliantly simple creator and try to think of fiendish traps for others to fall into. If there's one thing that's annoying, the death mechanic is a bit feeble, surely something more final or variable would have helped.

With Volume, you can see exactly what you're getting and while the puzzles get more fiendish, it never tries to alienate or overwhelm you. With deliberately muted tones, simple but polished graphics and a clever plot, Volume may be rather long, but is still well supported by the community (the weekly blog has only just finished publishing some two-years after launch). Buy cheap in the PSN sale and enjoy, a lot!

Price: £3.99 (PSN Summer Sale, usually £14.99)
More reviews
Score: 8/10
Dev: Mike Bithell
Size: 1.4GB
Progress: Roaring 40s

Friday, July 21, 2017

More info on Digimon Story Hacker's Memory

Bandai continue to drop information on the next Cyber Story game, even though it isn't arriving until early next year. Hackers in the digital world are divided into groups with different objectives. Some will cooperate whilst others fight each other to destroy the dimensional barriers and invade the real world.

The largest hacker group, “Zaxon”, will strongly fight to protect the Digital World. One member, Jimmy Ken, is unsatisfied with the management so decided to create his own group called “Demons”. Confusion reigns in the Digital World especially with this mysterious hacker named K who wants to chase the criminal who is hunting for your account.


In the game, players can battle against each other with Digimon they have trained. Upgrades to the Network Battle experience add a Rank Battle mode with pre-determined rules and rating points. Event Battle rules will change every 2 weeks. This special mode won’t affect players’ score but will reward players’ with items.


In the Free Rule Battle, players will be able to create a room with its own rules and invite up to 8 friends. The coins earned from Rank and Event Battle modes can be used in the Coin Shop to purchase accessories to equip your Digimon or change the appearance of your character in the online mode.

The Lost Child can be found in a dungeon

Kadokawa has just dropped a first look trailer showing off the characters and a few screens of The Lost Child in action. It looks suspiciously like an old-school RPG.There's science, magic, scales and some outlandish looking demons, but not much to get excited about. The game arrives on 8th August.

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late crashes west

PQube is bringing Arc System's Under Night IN-Birth Exe:Late[st] to the Vita by the end of this year. A missing link between traditional 2D fighter gameplay and the over-the-top craziness of ‘anime' fighters, it comes from developer French Bread.

They are responsible for Melty Blood, a cult fighting game big in Japan. UNDER-NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[st] takes place in a fictional modern-day Japan, where a mysterious event called Hollow Night occurs on a monthly basis. During the Hollow Night, shadowy creatures called Voids appear and attack innocent people. Survivors of these attacks sometimes develop special abilities and become known as an In-Birth. The game follows a young man named Hyde, a survivor of one of these attacks, as he becomes involved in the goings-on around the Hollow Night phenomenon.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sokoban Next is a puzzling arrival on Vita

Yep, another out-of-nowhere arrival on the EU PSN store today, meet Sokoban Next from PalmStorm. Billed as a smart game for smart people, the Hungarian company has tweeted in 18 months, so they aren't so bright.

Sokoban Next an iOS/Android port, but still looks like solid fun, with you helping the dragon hatch its eggs by pushing them into fiery nests across 100 3D puzzles. Only £5.35 seemes worth a shot!

Kuroyuren You Tan trailer

Now an Otomate title, Kuroyuren You Tan, and one that actually has a decent line-up of well-drawn, non sexualised characters. Might even go as far as to say some of them are attractive, apart from the ones with the silly mustaches! Guessing there's a naval theme judging by the stupid hats and some of the attire, other than that I know nothing!

Auto translate tells of a story set a year after a fire monster ravages Tokyo, all is quiet and love is in the air, until some flaming moths turn up!

Broccoli's Amazing Aria & Sweet Serenade Love trailer gets plenty of love

This has only been up a few hours and has already stormed past 7,500 views, not bad for a sing-song Vita love adventure from specialists Broccoli. The game is out in October, it might only be a port, but seems to be attracting plenty of comments and interest. There's an official site if you want more detail.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vita sales creep up again in Japan

At this rate, Vita could crack 5,000 sales a week, by December! Last week, the Vita sold 4,655 in Japan, up around 80 on the previous week's figures. That's with no new Vita releases in the Media Create top 20 and only Minecraft representing with another 3,100 sales.

On the other hand, Nintendo releases a new 2DS model and instantly sells 43,000 - imagine what a new Vita colour or even an upgraded unit could do! In reality, as Japan hits summer holidays, expect things to be very quiet indeed for the next six to eight weeks! But if the Vita continues to shift 4,000 units a week, that's enough to keep the droves of RPGs, visual novels and other Japanese curios headed our way.


For reference, the latest Famitsu has a couple of Vita reviews, with action game Utsusemi no Mawari scoring 32/40 and Sekai Project's visual novel Wagamama High Spec getting a modest 28/40.

Sony, time to update the PS Vita store app

None of this is rocket science, but Sony's absolute refusal to recognise the Vita in any shape or form, beyond modest indie developer support, is really starting to grate.

Take a look at the PS Store app - EU version - yours may differ. Gamer's Choice doesn't have anything from this year, with the latest release being from April 2016. Top Sellers hasn't been updated in getting on for a year, when Darkest Dungeon came out, while the All section still has PlayStation Now, even though Sony is canning the service on the Vita.

Is this really the best Sony can do in promoting games to a captive audience?
Top Sellers from a year ago, way to go Sony!
Don't even go into the Video section, New Films - no content, New to Rent - one item, Latest Episodes - no content. Top Films and Top TV Shows are kept up to date, but searching through "All" is a nightmare, so I hope you know the name of whatever it is you want to watch.
Who searches for TV show by year?
Also, there are hardly any video sales on, you'd think given Vita's sub-HD display everything would be super cheap! People watch loads of YouTube in a browser, we don't have Netflix on Vita in Europe, so why shun an obvious source of content?

Basically, the Vita PSN store app has had minimal updates over its life and nothing of note in recent years. At some point, Sony has to have a tidy out or clear up as Vita moves to end-of-life. Please, at least make it more usable for the people who still use it, more friendly to indies who are the lifeblood of the Vita now and perhaps just show you can make an effort, no matter how small.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Occultic;Nine visual novel hitting Japan

Okay, this series has only just come west, see the anime trailer. But in Japan, there's already a strange visual novel rolling out as a PSN-only release. Instead of picking verbal or dialogue choices as in most VNs, in this one you pick choices from the hero's blog.

Mixing magic, boobs and demons, its a heady mix, I guess if the western showing of the anime picks up fans, a translation may be incoming, but don't count on it. A teaser site for the game is now up.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Polara endless runs to the Vita

Another out-of-nowhere indie arrives on the Vita soon, using the Ikaruga colour changing trick to add a little spice to the concept. Polara, an old iOS game, doesn't look like much, but the gameplay could make it worth a punt if cheap enough on release very soon.

Japanese video Friday presents Clanpool intro and more

Hello Japan, please feed us impoverished western gamers more trailers!

First up is the opening video for Tokyo Clanpool and the much anticipated Gintama, even if most of us know nothing about them. Then, Rejet has a bunch of clips for Tokyo Boys V Fan (or whatever its called), showing off chunks of VN gameplay. Will update if anything else drops.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Samurai Showdown V Special slicing up the Vita

Ahh, Sony, you can always rely on them not to put the Vita in any of their headlines. I guess there's a PSN blog post that fails to mention the Vita also. I'm sure we're still allowed to watch this PS4-only trailer. Vita is in the small print, but who looks there? Any how, here's the trailer for SNK's classic brawler Samurai Showdown V Special which is coming Cross Buy and Cross Play.

Offering lots of slashing,  blood and pixelly fighting goodness, I'd prefer another Metal Slug myself, but there you go.