Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth heading west

The Utawarerumono games from AquaPlus are confirmed for a western release via Atlus. America gets both physical ($39.99) and digital Vita versions, while Europe is going digital-only, price TBC.

Mask of Deception will release in the spring, and the sequel, Mask of Truth will arrive later in the year, both with English text and the original Japanese audio.

The original sold 47K on its release in Japan last September, with the games packing an action RPG into a visual novel.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception features:
  • An Unforgettable Story - Mask of Deception offers a story-rich visual novel experience (40-50+ hours long) that lets players shape the future of a fully realized world filled with fantastical lore and history! Mask of Deception sets up the story for a thrilling conclusion in Mask of Truth, and we'll reveal more information about the final game at a later date.
  • An Active SRPG Battle System - Players will need to defend Haku and his friends by engaging in intense SRPG combat with the various hostiles that populate the world. The battle system is a thrilling mix of turn-based tactics and Attack Chain mechanics. Players can remain active during combat by successfully completing timing-based charging rings to execute critical attacks or vital dodges/blocks.
  • Fully Fleshed Out Combat - Unique combat features such as the rewind function, elemental affinities/weaknesses, unique character skills, and more add a layer of depth to fights. It'll take true tactical acumen to emerge victorious in battle!
  • Breathtaking Art - With a stunning art style and beautifully rendered cutscenes, the game is a feast for the eyes for Japanese visual novel and anime aficionados! 
  • Beautiful Songs and a Thrilling Score - The rousing music, recorded and remastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios and EastWest Studios, is a perfect soundtrack to accompany a great adventure. 

Blue Reflection likes some slow action

I tweeted about yesterday's live stream from Gust, but must have missed the first showing of some Blue Reflection gameplay in between the hours of jabbering. Here it is in high quality, showing off some classic Vita-style dungeoning with a very restrained, filtered palette and some rather slow, placid, RPG battling.

I thought it was more visual novel, based on all the previous school girl-talk clips but this looks passable, even if the engine needs work on its loading speed.

Danganronpa V3 bears up the Media Create chart

The bear that doesn't care hits No. 2 in Japan's Media Create chart,  with the Vita version trouncing the PS4 model. But angry bears fail to top the combined world collision of Disney and Final Fantasy in the latest Kingdom Hearts title. Even with the PS4 version splitting the market, D3 managed very consistent sales compared to previous games.

1. Kingdom Hearts 2.8 (PS4) 137, 797
2. Danganronpa V3 (Vita) 76, 166
3. Danganronpa V3 (PS4) 40, 006
10. Minecraft (Vita) 8,890
14. Valkyrie Drive Bikini Party Edition (Vita) 5,078

That splash does little for Vita sales which dive in traditional fashion down to 13,816, still tracking its usual 14-15% of the market. It should pass 5.5 million units next week for Japan

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tokyo Xanadu LE coming west

Falcom's Tokyo Xanadu has been promised a western release for a while thanks to Aksys. Now we have some more solid details with the unveiling of a neat Limited Edition (the first one for a while, will add it to the Pinterest board of similar loveliness) plus a summer release, ahead of a tarted up PS4 version later in the year.

The Vita edition, which hit Japan in October 2015, comes with:
  • Tokyo Xanadu Physical Game (Vita)
  • 5″ Deluxe Morimaru Plush
  • Blade Card Game Deck
  • 60 page Art Book
  • CD Soundtrack
  • Collector’s Box
Aksys also has Caligula and Bad Apple Wars to deliver to us lucky western Vita owners.

Atelier Shallie Plus launch trailer

Hitting stores on Friday, Atelier Shallie Plus is an update on the PS3 adventure, featuring new content and secrets. It takes new devotees, perhaps those who enjoyed Atelier Sophie (review), or fans of the earlier games in the series on a new journey. It will see familiar faces from other Atelier titles helping heroines Shallistera and Shallotte on their journey through the world of Dusk.

Returning characters who take on a larger role in Atelier Shallie Plus include Escha Malier, the eccentric specialist of old-style alchemy, Logix Ficsario, the down-to-earth alchemist and government official, and the talented Ayesha Altugle, famously known for her remedies and medications. Players can choose any of these characters to join their party as well as experience brand new event scenarios not present in the original Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea.

Fate Extella gets a launch trailer

Hitting PSN this week, welcome Marvelous'  Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star game which comes with a Day One PSN version for PlayStation Vita with an exclusive DLC outfit "Cold-Blooded Warden" for Gilgamesh.

Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star features a diverse cast of “Servants” – ancient warriors of legend and imagination, always at their Masters’ orders – who survived the Holy Grail War that took place on the Moon. In a future watched over by the all-powerful lunar super computer Moon Cell Automaton, these champions now battle for dominance over this digital realm, known as “SE.RA.PH.” This story takes place after the events described in Fate/EXTRA, and depicts the world after that previous Holy Grail War.

Rogue Aces, almost home for tea and medals!

Infinite State is getting closer to completion with Rogue Aces, currently in beta. Here's another clip of the bright-and-breezy shooter tearing up the skies. Follow their Twitter for all the latest details and fun things they are cramming into the game.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Where can I buy a PS Vita?

Having had plenty of fun and games watching minuscule supplies of Vita consoles arrive and vanish across Europe and the US over the Black Friday and holiday season, here's 2017's slightl less-frenzied edition. I think it is still important, as people still want to buy the Vita, even if Sony is making it increasingly tough to do so.

After supplies all but vanished over Christmas, hopefully because Sony Japan was hogging stock for its own big sales (almost 200,000 Vitas sold in six weeks), a new western-model Vita might be slightly less unicorn-like now. To be honest, if you want one, grab a Japanese model, commonly available new, and live with the X-O button crossover.

I'll update daily, or even more frequently as time allows. Do shout/comment if you spot a new Vita on sale anywhere.

UPDATED: Tue 17 January

North America

Amazon US gets semi-regular stock from Above All Games, with the price ranging from $200-$210.

As of Monday 16 January it has 20 units left in stock!


Amazon UK has one seller (in Italy) with new Vita consoles in stock.
Argos has no Vita consoles, but some games onsale.
Smyths Toys stated they weren't getting any new stock in, after selling out over Christmas!
GAME has some pre-owned stock, at least you can check it out in-store, unlike eBay.

Amazon DE has PS Vita Lego MegaPacks (7 left) for €299.
Game Spain has PS Vita Star Wars Lego bundles for a bargain €195.

Ausatralia/Middle East

EB Games AU has pre-owned stock

JP video roundup: Accel World vs SAO and more

Accel World VS Sword Art Online Millennium Twilight gets a highy polished opening trailer as I try to catch up on the few new Japanese videos that popped up over the last week. The rest are visual novel fare, but it looks like they'll take up more of the Vita's roster in 2017, so its a good job we're growing to love them.

Blue Reflection

Wand of Fortune 2

Friday, January 13, 2017

Focus confirm Farming Simulator 2018 for Vita

While announcing a Farming Simulator knock-off for the Switch, Focus Interactive has also let slip that Farming Simulator 2018 will be heading to the Vita, due sometime in 2017. The Vita previously enjoyed FS14 and FS16, but missed out on last year's iteration.

Developed by GIANTS Software, Farming Simulator 18 brings a load of new features for virtual farmers to harvest fields from the palms of their hands! It opens up access to a huge selection of over 50 farming vehicles and machines, faithfully recreated from over 30 of the biggest names in the industry, including AGCO's most respected brands: Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra.

Yep, Nintendo has just launched the Vita 2!

Well, that has a familiar look to it. The Nintendo Switch overnight news includes a third-party line up with FIFA and Rayman Legends. And, oh look, here come some gimmicky Nintendo games (ARMS, 1,2 Switch, Snipperclips), just like the Vita had. Add in a bunch of quirky Japanese games heading west in Puyo Puyo Tetris from Sega and Square's Project Setsuna (both Japanese Vita titles) and a new Shin Megami Tensei title to appeal to the otaku. More game news and posts on the Microconsoles Roundup blog.

Déjà vu anyone? Throw in some retro Sonic games, a return for Bomberman plus Nintendo's regular staples and its hard to be super, super excited. But clearly Switch will be home to lots of Japanese games that didn't quite make it west for Vita - looking at you Square Enix! With no sign of CoD or obvious sci-fi heavy hitters, at least the Switch contines to offer a wider, all-encompassing range of games.

The £279.99 ($299.99) Switch, plus more for extra controllers, natch, is a 720p HD mobile or 900p TV machine (for complex games like Zelda), presumably 1080p for simpler titles. Internals are unspecified, but it is powerful enough to run a custom Skyrim game. And, just like the Vita, it has one crippling pricing flaw, $80 for extra controllers, which will nix most of those cheery images of family gaming!

Looking at the game list, Switch actually has a far worse release line up than the Vita managed, although quite a few digital titles (Binding of Issac, Shovel Knight and others) will be added to the eShop by launch day, 3rd March, to bulk things out - but little new stuff.

It is also over-priced compared to the PS4/X1 competition, and big launch hitter Zelda will hit Wii U too, diluting the appeal. On the plus side, microSD storage support - showing Sony how it should be done! Then again, Nintendo's PSN-style subscription services sounds typically Nintendo-clueless!

Nintendo also risks a Sony-style backlash dragging developers up and promising games that aren't even in development yet like a Suda-51 No More Heroes project. Also there was no mention of Monster Hunter - at all! Has the Capcom bubble finally burst?

That said, after an inevitable autumn price cut, I'll be picking one up, when Mario Odyssey arrives, as I can see lots of smaller Japanese and indie developers considering it a natural successor to the Vita. If it sells enough it should be viable through 2018-2020, just enough time for Sony to fart out a proper Vita 2.

Quick and blatantly obvious predictions:

Major western publishers treat Switch exactly like they did the Vita.
Many promised games never show up if Switch sales are poor.
Japanese and western indie devs migrate Vita titles to Switch at a growing rate.
Switch has its best year in 2018, then fades fast.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Vita owners laugh in the face of statistics

As with any relic or collectible, the Vita is more of an emotional proposition, just like baseball cards, classic cars, stamps or build-an-R2-D2 part works. There is barely an economic case these days for teams to develop a game, or for gamers to buy increasingly rare, limited or costly boxed copies of them. Yet, delightfully and amazingly, people do, with sizeable effort on both sides.

I have no idea why, but am truly impressed when, developers choose Vita as a target platform. Or when Vita owners help a game reach some distant stretch goal or encourage a developer by weight of passion to bring a version out for us.  

Stick Your Statistics

However, for those into their numbers, according to the new Game Developer Conference survey report, only 2% of developers currently have the Vita in mind (and the data could be quite old). Fortunately there are many hundreds, if not thousands of developers out there, and only 3% (quite possibly the same crowd) are focused on the upcoming Switch. 

Over in the sales data column, the Vita captured just 0.2% of the UK retail market revenue and 0.4% share according to GfK data. UK retail sales hit £776 million in 2016, so Vita earned £155,200 of that pie, according to the data. Still, not bad for a device Sony killed three years ago, and you know what they say about statistics! So why are the games still coming? Clearly the numbers don't add up.

I'm assuming that sales from online publisher stores like Marvelous and NISA don't count toward that total. All those limited editions that people keep sharing on Twitter must add up! There's also digital, which if Sony would ever let a publisher mention them, should shunt sales, value and revenue a lot higher, otherwise this blog would have been left intentionally blank back in 2014. 

Analysts are wanking themselves silly over sparse data points, based on incomplete numbers and fragmented information, captured using increasingly out of date methods. Why? Because that's their job. 

Reasons to be Cheerful

Over in Japan the Vita still makes up 15-20% of its home market in hardware and software sales. Already this year, we've seen plenty of new games announced for the Vita, that will probably make their way here as the Japanese publishers need to sell more copies now to justify development expenses.

Also there's the release list, it looks pretty healthy, even if a few titles get cancelled or developers fail. And as we wade into 2017, the games keep coming with new announcements from western devs starting to trickle through, yep, only a trickle but that's all we really need.

I think this basically means us Vita owners, and the few newcomers who can find a unit are finding themselves part of a slightly crazy family, 

A Rose in the Twilight grows release dates and new screens

NIS America has potted the release dates for A Rose in the Twilight, with the spooky puzzle platformer sprouting on April 11 for America and April 14 in Europe, both on PSN and physically via NISA's store.

In North America, a standard or limited edition will be available exclusively on the NIS America Online Store. In Europe, only the limited edition version will be available from the NISA store.

New NepNep Connect Neptune Chaos Chanpuru trailer

Looks like the Neptunia girls and other stars from the Compile Heart young lady treadmill are at it again. It being minimal clothing and perky adventures in this free-to-play card battling game, coming to Japan soon. The game is known to feature new girl Yurina, plus Neptune, Tiara, Faust from Trillion, Otoha and Luanna from Moero Crystal, with many more to follow, probably.

Danganronpa V3 limited edition Japanese unboxing video

Oh, Japan, you lucky country. Check out one lucky buyer exploring the high quality limited edition version of Danganronpa V3. I haven't found a clip of someone with the new LE Vita hardware bundle, but will add one if I come across it. Want a new Vita western-type people - well tough! Only for Japan.