Monday, May 30, 2016

Akiba's Beat follows up from the Trip

A new teaser site has appeared, promoting a sequel to the ever-so-fun-but-rather-naughty stripping fight fest that was Akiba's Trip. The sequel from Acquire is on the way to the PS4 and Vita, and goes by the name of Akiba's Beat.

Hopefully the new version will have a bit more meat behind the endless beatings. There's a low-res scan of pages that will be in this week's Famitsu to kick off the coverage.  Judging by the English heavy nature, this version will also come west.

Edutainment game Type:Rider hitting PSN

According to a trophy listing, the Vita is getting the interesting mobile title Type:Rider from BulkyPix. The mobile game is a couple of years old, but harks back decades to the crazy world of edutainment, where kids got to tap pictures to make music play, access fun games and get other multimedia magic tohappen.

Obviously Type:Rider is a little more evolved, with the trophies suggesting there is a fair game in there, but the overall aim is to educate and teach about typefaces, fonts and other aspects of the printed word.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sony vs. E3, where the Vita finds love?

Personally, I suspect we can discount the Vita getting much love from Sony at E3. Instead it continues to take a punt on VR, which could end up being just as niche, all the while rolling in the cash from PS4 sales - which is fine!

If we're lucky then perhaps a simmering, yet alone sizzling, reel for the likes of recent hits Severed, Downwell, and upcoming good stuff like Steins Gate Zero, Dragon Quest Builders and Trails of Cold Steel II.

More likely though, Sony will leave that to the third parties, so as not to divert attention from tits wearing VR helmets and doing crappy live demos. Therefore, the press will continue on the Vita is dead vibe, despite much evidence to the contrary.

Sony continues not to help itself, which was understandable when the company was hemorrhaging money. But, now it is back in profit, a few small, low-cost, decisions could go a long way to helping.

1) Look at how the Vita is sold 

Check out Amazon, where the Vita is advertised as the "New slim 2014 model" - who would buy that? Sony needs a new model, with the slightest of changes, perhaps a better WiFi chip, so the advertising can say "new 2016 model."

How hard is that? I'd still like the company to be brave and go with a HD PlayStation 4 Portable Remote Play upgrade and rebrand, but hey, I'll take a Vita that at least sounds current.

2) Accept the Niche

Vita is niche, we all know that, but Sony should accept it and thrive within those confines! Do more limited editions, get that Dragon Quest Builders Silver Slime model or the Ys VIII edition, how about some God Eater over here. All Sony has to do is change some cardboard wrapping and the power plug. Niche + cachet & desirability = bigger niche!

3) Games are the Vita

We get that stores don't want to stock Vita games. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't make them. Partner with Limited Run to get more games in boxes and sold online. Get some energy into Gio's #buildingthelist and show us some fresh results. We know there's work going on in the background, but now is the time for some foreplay!
There you go, Sony doesn't have to spend money developing new games, although it would be cool if it did. Sony doesn't have to do much in the way of new marketing, although it would be cool if it did! And if you think Sony doesn't like niche, then why does it still sell record players? The defence rests!

Root Letter fourth trailer of despair

Root Letter is coming our way, and while I prefer the slightly edgier tones of Steins Gate and Virtue's Last Reward, I may just be tempted by something a little less pacy, a lot more breathy with more human drama. Here's the latest Japanese trailer from Kadokawa with those handy subtitles

Romancing Saga 2 is its own saga, coming to Vita after all?

Square Enix really are as mad as box of frogs, on acid! Their minimal support approach to Vita in the west is understandable, if you imagine the company as a bunch of gray suits in a boardroom.

However, Square's creatives are starting to push this "make some noise and we'll see" approach. And, it might just be that by making some racket, things are actually happening.

So now, after the Adventures of Mana and Setsuna farce (boo!), the Dragon Quest Builders digital only news (yay!), we now turn to the madness of Romancing Saga 2. It already exists in English is coming to iOS and Android, but was flatly ignored on Vita, until now, when we get this message:
So, progress, of a sort. Which still leaves this lot and more up in the air:

  • Dragon Quest Heroes II
  • SaGa Scarlet Grace
  • Final Fantasy Adventures
  • The missing Final Fantasy Crisis Core on PSN  
That's where we go back to the men in suits. One joined up bit of policy for the Vita, saying "yes, let's do this properly" and there's no need for the endless noise making and online petitions. So, sort out it Square Enix, accept there's a small but vibrant user base, and a valuable source of revenue here and make your own noise! 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Western Vita owners get sandboxed in with Dragon Quest Builders

Square continues its love/hate relationship with western games. Yes, we get Dragon Quest Builders, but only in digital form! There's also no sign of the limited edition Vita models. I'd figure that would be a brilliant way for Sony and Square to charm the pants off long-anguished Vita owners stuck with our mostly black models. However, looks like it is not to be as Sony firmly refuses to promote Vita hardware.

Anyway, the game itself is pure Minecraft adventuring with a Dragon Quest skin, so should be amazing. It sold very well in Japan and will do pretty well here, even if it is only digital! Landing in October, expect it be one of the bigger sellers of the year.

Fate Extrella trailer introduces the classes

Fate Extella is another dive into the Fate world from Marvelous and Type-Moon. Packing in the combat types, this new trailer shows a couple of the classes, with Archer and Saber types coming out to play. Expect many more clips and reveals over the next few weeks.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

FPS Paranautical Activity ghosts onto PSN next week

A good day for spooky games on the Vita, although Paranautical Activity has a fair bit more pact to it than Yonawari! It combines the classic FPS style of Doom-era FPS shooters with the randomness and difficulty of modern roguelikes like Binding of Isaac and Spelunky.

Developed by Code Avarice, it features include procedurally generated levels, fast gameplay, hidden levels, over 100 items, 40+ enemies, ridiculous bosses and a dubstep soundtrack and some raving day-glo ammo. Here's the original's 2014 trailer.

Yonawari comes out of the dark to western gamers

NIS America is bringing the torch lit adventures of Yonawari: Night Alone west this October. A young girl is walking her dog, Poro, around town at dusk when an accident forces her to return home with only the dog's lead.

The girl's older sister goes out into the night to search for the dog. Time passes. Growing impatient, the younger girl decides to search for her missing sister and Poro. But when she steps foot outside, she realizes that this is not the same town.

The darkness has made the town unfamiliar, and she appears to be utterly for the spirits that stalk her. The girl must hide from, outsmart, or outrun the hunting spirits while she searches for clues to find her loved ones.

New Ys VIII trailer goes to sea

Lacrimosa of Dana is shaping up to be the next major Vita RPG and Falcom seems to be hard at work making it a worthy epic. The latest trailer shows off the coastal and at-sea setting for the game, with epic spires, massive dragons, sea beasts and rickety old boats at the peril of the sea.

Interestingly, the Vita version is due first this year, in July, with the PS4 version not due out until 2017. That should give the portable version a healthy sales boost, especially with the limited edition Vita editions and the natty Premium Box. Check out some soundtrack snippets here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mighty No. 9 shows off its skills in a master class

Sure, us Vita owners will still be spinning our wheels for this one, but hey, we're patient and we have Downwell! Is Mighty No. 9 a game or breakfast cereal? Either way they are advertising it in the cheesiest way possible. With the big launch next month, we'll sit on the sidelines until the autumn or whenever, biding our time until we get our port.

Review: Downwell

You want retro? I'll give you retro, consider a mashup of Jumping Jak (expect on its head, so Falling Jak) and Bombjack and you kind of have the ingredients for Moppin's Downwell. In design terms it looks so simple, but as with the best true indie classics, the execution is fiendish and fantastic at the same time.
The simple but cunning mechanic is in the hero's boots, these fire a range of weaponry depending on what you pick up on the way down, helping arrest your fall and dealing death. This, along with a vicious range of nasties make for on-the-fall tactical decision making, even as you try to dodge, fire and grab the bonus gems. Red is the key color here, enemies with a red top will hurt you if you fall on them, those with a red bottom cost you life if you jump up and those that are all red - RUN!

The game is best played in Tate mode, holding the Vita long ways. Although the Vita's headphone port becomes a bit of a sticking point if you're playing with cans that have a chunky plug. Still, you can configure the controls to something comfortable for you. You can also change the colour scheme and your default style of character to add some variety (or just more lives).

Down With the Skids

Then, its on with the plummeting, as you try to stay alive, across four worlds of mad descent. This is old-school gaming, tricky from level one and much harder the further you get. At the end of each level you get to choose an extra power-up to help you along the way and stores are accessible in each level, if you're in the right place, or able to react to reach the entrance.

Naturally, what starts out as simple bits of platform soon become spiky traps as you move on through the catacomb levels into the deeper, darker places of Downwell. In later levels, the things throw stuff at you, and those early spiky snails now look positively cute!

Clarity of thought is required to get anywhere in the game, you need to remember what's above you when you jump, what could be below as you fall, and be on the look out for threats and opportunities on all sides, all while dropping into a procedurally generated black hole in the earth, managing your meagre firepower and looking for upgrades.

Simple and genius gaming, Downwell is an example of what one person can do, no need for high-mesh polys or a budget of billions. Developer Devolver helped bring the game west and to a wide audience including the Vita. If 1,000 truly indie developers are inspired by Downwell, and make similar experiences with their own unique features, they could help feed the Vita for another year or two.

That's important, as is supporting the game, even if you think Spectrum level pixels are below you, consider Downwell arrives on Vita just six months after its iOS debut - anything that shrinks the, often massive, gap has to be good.

Score: 9/10
More reviews
Price: £3.99
Developer: Moppin
Publisher: Devolver

Vita sales approach five million in Japan

<pirate voice> Ahh, we're in the doldrums now! </pirate voice> Yep, Vita sales are going nowhere fast in the dead zone of late spring. The handheld sold just under 11,000 units in Japan according to Media Create chart information, which is its worst week of 2016.

On the positive side, even if it keeps that feeble number up, it will pass five million lifetime sales in Japan next week. Also, there's finally a major new release to celebrate with Dragon Quest Heroes 2 out on Friday, which should give things a healthy nudge.

Also out of Japan are the latest Famitsu review scores with this week's big release top scoring:

Dragon Quest Heroes II (PS4/PS3/PSV) – 10/10/9/10
Neverending Nightmares (PS4/PSV) – 7/8/8/7
Taisho Alice All in One (PSV visual novel) – 8/8/7/7

This week the Vita managed to sneak a couple of new Otome titles into the chart with Idea Factory's Period Cube: Torikago no Amadeus in at 16, selling 3,850 and Spike's Kenka Bancho Otome doing a bit better, shifting 8,000 units to land in the top five. Otherwise, Powerful Pro Baseball passed the 125,000 sales mark and Minecraft continues selling, and selling and selling.....

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Steins Gate Zero listings appear in the west

Hmmm, PQube is promising big news for the upcoming ComicCom London event and now Spanish sites are putting up placeholders for Steins Gate Zero. All just as I've finished off Virtue's Last Reward! What good timing.

Another Update: And now it is official...
Update: If PQube won't confirm it, other retailers will, with Rice Digital offering posters and pre-orders in the UK! That comes with a 2016 date and physical release.

It is not hard to wonder what all that could be about? Given the huge success and interest in Steins Gate in 2015, the last Vita game to crack the all formats chart, the likelihood of the sequel arriving is pretty high. So, get polishing your microwave and stock up on bananas! Guess I ought to Platinum this original so I'm fully prepared.

Downwell is live on EU PSN, launch trailer is go

Devolver has launched the Vita and PS4 Cross Buy version of Downwell across all PSNs now, so grab the game and get plummeting! It is only £3.99/$5, for 45MB of fun, which for a game with Spectrum-era graphics and a Platinum trophy isn't too bad.

Reviews are great, as you'd expect for such a simple but fiendish game, developed in Japan by Moppin. So, go powering up your Gunboots and get ready for action, what chance you'll see Spelunky or Steamworld Dig on the way down?