Friday, August 18, 2017

Review Undertale

The sheer excitement for Undertale, stemming from its E3 announcement for the Vita and PS4, isn't exactly borne out when you first get started with the game. You, a Simpson's shade-of-yellow pixel character, meander around a simple-looking realm of the undead, meeting a bizarre roster of characters.

The million-selling PC title, which I've never played, comes to the Vita and fits perfectly on the small screen. Text is readable, controls are tight, jokes are universal and those pixels are as crisp as ever.

Stick with the game beyond the opening house and snow village 'Snowdin', and you soon get a grasp on why the game is so loved. Firstly, there's the sense of humour, which varies from edgy school grade jokes to punchlines delivered long after you'd forgotten about the feed.

Then, there's the non-puzzle puzzles, RPG in-jpokes, the mystery unopening doors, the backstory to even the most generic of characters, that in other games live and die without so much as a "how do you do?" Finally, there's the sense of tragedy and loss as the tales of the monsters and the underworld are told.

Undertale is unique in that you don't actually have to fight any of the enemies blocking your path. Simply fleeing will avoid the early encounters, while playing with dogs using sticks or balls, petting creatures, outwitting them, or ignoring their attacks or responding to them in other ways can help you avoid engagements and win one of the game's true endings. The further in you go, the more complex these non-fatal battles become.

Undertale the anti-battle adventure

If you do end up in battle, your heart takes center stage in a small bordered arena, where enemies will launch various attacks. Staying still will outfox some foes, while moving is an essential for other attacks. They are colour-coded, so once you get the rules, you can master the battle, even earning back health points. But why battle, when ghostly music can frighten opponents away? Just one of the many other ways of slipping past a fight!

Winning battles through combat makes you stronger, avoiding fighting or dodging their blows makes you smarter, both of which beg for separate playthroughs, which is hugely encouraged. You do have attack, defence and health stats, but by playing it nice, these are rarely called upon. Play nasty and you can boost them in stores with a regular supply of cake and accessories.

Between each spot of combat or puzzle, the world is littered with endless little witticisms from judgy plants to memes that come to life and characters or situations that mercilessly take the piss out of traditional role players. Shopkeepers are worth having conversations with, just don't try to sell them your pathetic collection of nick-nacks, in fact pretty much everything is worth having a look at.

As a bonus, complete the game, and you can fill out the black border that surrounds the 4-by-3 ratio game with pretty surrounds. This all helps to elevate Undertale above those simple 8-bit looks. It should also serve as a lesson to other RPG makers not to drag out the same old earnest motifs every iteration. And to would-be coders, this is Toby Fox's first game, proving that imagination can outdo technical skill given the right ideas.

Some grumpy buggers might not get the joke, or baulk at a £12 game with no polygons or hellish death battles, but I'd hope they are in the minority.

Price: £11.99
More reviews
Score: 8/10
Dev: Toby Fox
Size: 155MB
Progress: Hotland

Otome Neo Angelique gets a pastel trailer

Out in December for Japan, Neo Angelique Angel's Tears from Otomate looks like an entirely typical love adventure with plenty of well-heeled gents, and a couple of rougher types, fading in and out of the trailer.

The latest in a long line of PS2 and PSP adventures, they're based off a 2000-era anime, but are still set in Arcadia and the Cardinal University. In the game, a set of accidents that seemed to have nothing to do at first glance eventually force the main character to make a big choice related to the entire universe. Woo!

Tokyo Clanpool: sex and politics

From the chat I've been seeing, soon YouTube will be banning all this sort of sick filth, putting Japanese game developers who want a little fan service in their titles in a sticky situation. The story so far, saw Tokyo Clanpool as just a bunch of cute politicians wading into battle against alien invaders.

But this clip drags in the almost inevitable boob fondling and stimulation to help channel the mystical power of Ether into them to help boost their capabilities. If Google and YouTube ban this sort of thing, you can almost see the Japanese cultural ambassador stomping down to the UN in his mech suit demanding justice, flanked by orgasaming cosplay types. Stay classy, Compile Heart!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Square posts another set of Itadaki Street character clips

Whatever the heck this Monopoly-style board game is, it isn't Dragon Quest and it isn't Final Fantasy. However, I'm sure Japanese gamers will lap it up, now Square has bolted on some cash-in characters, as demonstrated by this Cloud clip.

There's plenty more character clips turning up on their YouTube channel, if you want to see your gaming heroes reduced to the role of a chatty token.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Media Create flatline continues, how long until Sony starts developing for Switch?

Zombie Vita sales continue bouncing around the 4,600 mark, with no new games in the Media Create chart for the handheld. Even with Switch pretty much sold out around Japan, no one beyond this mythical few thousand seems keen to pick up the Vita, and Sony hasn't shown off a new colour or promotional model in months, missing the simplest of tricks.

Clearly, Switch will be the next Vita, but Sony just letting it walk in and take over the world remains pretty embarrassing. How long until Sony starts developing its own IP titles (more LocoRoco rather than Uncharted) for the Switch? The clock is ticking I think!


Down in Famitsu land, haven't seen any review scores this week, but a few Vita games appear in the most-wanted chart. This shows there's still interest, but how long until these, or certainly any 2018 titles, swap over to Nintendo's baby.

10. Romancing SaGa 3 – 220 votes (TBA)
19. Shin Yomawari – 154 (out next week)
22. Tokyo Clanpool – 104 (October)

Mary Skelter limited edition goes high on art

If you want to get truly immersed in the bloody world of Mary Skelter, you can bag a limited edition Nightmare box next week from here, if turn-based combat RPGs are your thing. The $69 set includes a collector's box and the game with a reversible cover.

It also comes with a Blood Maidens Cloth Poster, Mary Skelter: Nightmares Novel,  an original collection of short stories, complete with stunning, full-color original artwork plus a 70-page Nightmares Official Art Book.

Retro RPG Antiquia Lost bags a trophy list

Revealed at the end of July, Antiquia Lost now has a trophy listing with a Platinum and plenty of loot to collect. The Kemco and CMC Create project only just arrived on Steam, so the PS4 and Vita version is a quick follow up.

Antiquia Lost is a pretty modern looking pixel RPG with the unique feature of a slime heroine who eats gems to grow skills, and she can imitate the many monsters that the party of adventurers face. More traditional characters include Bine, a lad who lives in a small rural village. He is challenged by Lunaria, a girl who lives near the village, to go with her to the royal capital, where many quests await.

What with Undertale, The Bards Tale and more on the way, Vita continues to be a true RPG machine!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Meet Adol from Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, trailer and DLC info

Pressing on, without any fear, here comes Adol Christin, the latest in the line-up of Ys VIII characters. Not only is he the sort of brainlessly heroic type you want in the front of a party, he'll also come with his own set of first week DLC...

  • Adol's Silver Armor - The memorable, original armor Adol wore in Ys.
  • Adol's Adventurer Clothes - Jaunty clothing that Adol wears on his adventures around the world.
  • Adol's Survival Kit - Obtain items that are useful when adventuring on a deserted island. Survival Kit includes: Blade Ring II (x1), Empty Bottle (x1), and Iron Ore (x10).


Undertale is out, enjoy the launch trailer

Something strange happened today, my timeline was flooded with tweets of people dusting off their Vita or going and finding the damn little box so they could enjoy Undertale. A whole forgotten raft of Vitas are being powered up, not for some swanky new FPS, but a modest pixel RPG.

Looking at the pic below, it is hard to see why, but having racked up awards and kudos all over the place in its PC incarnation, it is clear that there's a lot of love for this game. Check out the trailer and grab your Vita too, to enjoy the fun. It is out now on EU PSN, but you have to search for the game, at £11.99 and weighs in at 155MB with a 65MB patch, I'm downloading it now!

Burly Men at Sea trophies pop up

Brain & Brain's arty nautical adventure was mentioned at E3, but is another of those Vita games that kept its head below the sonar. Now the trophies have popped up, I guess it is ready for launch on the Vita and PS4.

UPdate: The game now has a PSN blog post and a release date of 19 September.

Its distinctive style has won Burly Men at Sea several commendations, with clever use of basic shapes and plenty of humour to give the Scandinavian fishing crew some depth. The PC version has been out for a while, so after this port, it'll be interesting to see what this team do next.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fresh The Lost Child intro trailer

With Demon Gaze II and Mary Skelter heading our way, looks like we're in for a bit of a resurgence of old-school RPGs, as The Lost Child heads to Japan next week via Kadokawa. The few gameplay clips in this suggest this has plenty of step-by-step dungeons with a range of big bosses for your team of avatars to fight, as angels and demons battle for control of Japan.

The Bard's Tale to be told on the Vita

The greatest story ever told? When I was a very young RPG player (and my older brother was an addict) The Bard's Tale series was an awesome 16-bit set of adventures, plunging into murky depths shown in a trading card-sized part of the Atari ST screen.

UPDATE: The game is confirmed as out this week (15 August) in the US, priced only $9.99 which is pretty cool. It is badged as The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled version, so might be a little more polished.

This, however, is the PS2 version with 3D action and minimal RPG-age, which makes it certainly more exciting, even if that does take away some of the imagination factor. As a bonus, the original games are included, assuming we get the full package. Note this isn't related to Bard's Gold, a pixel platformer that came out last year.


With trophies listed for a Vita version and InExile teasing some news, looks like the Vita could be home to a whole new era of classic fun. The game popped up on iOS and Android (£2.99 with IAPs) promising 30 hours of play, the voice of Cary Elwes as the Bard a few years back, so is an easy port for InXile, hopefully if it does well, some of their more modern titles (Bard's IV, Mage's Tale etc) will follow.



This does make me wonder how many other PS2-era games have gone the mobile route and are ripe for a Vita release. Any suggestions?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rabi-Ribi brings cute bullet hell exploring to the Vita in September

PQube will drop the adorable bunny-based side-scrolling action game, Rabi-Ribi, digital only on Vita, in Europe on September 1, 2017. 
  
In this hybrid shooter, platformer, you swing your Piko Hammer for truth, justice and bunny-kind as Erina, a bunny-turned-bunny-girl stars in a 2D side-scrolling action platformer that combines freedom to explore, platforming and bullet-hell style boss encounters.

There's a vast map full of hidden nooks and crannies, with secrets and power-ups galore. You can go back and forth through the non-linear stages, unlocking new skills and abilities or return to previous areas and uncover new paths and secrets.



With story driven quests, in her efforts to find her way back to her master and discover what has happened to her, Erina becomes embroiled in a wide variety of events as she gets to know the inhabitants of Rabi-Ribi island.

Melee and ranged combat

The Piko Hammer is your main way of delivering furious bunny justice. Level up the Piko Hammer with use and unlock new skills and combos, including massive uppercuts and crushing dive attacks. Ribbon the Fairy serves as your trusty projectile partner. Improve your relationship with Ribbon to level up her skills and damage. Collect new magic types for Ribbon to use with vastly different functions.


Bullet-hell Boss Encounters

Face off with a multitude of bosses, all sporting their own fiendish attack patterns as they turn the screen into bullet-hell mayhem. Preparation, understanding attack patterns and devising strategies to beat them is key. Unlock Boss Rush mode to face a gauntlet of bosses!

Check out the announce trailer to see it in action.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Slain successor Valfaris will slay the Vita

Announced earlier this year at E3 for PS4, Slain developer Andrew Gilmour has taken to Twitter to confirm that its more sci-fi looking cousin Valfaris will also come to the Vita. While there's no video gameplay yet, some GIFs lurk on the dev's Twitter.

The only detail we have is that after mysteriously vanishing from galactic charts, the fortress of Valfaris has suddenly reappeared in the orbit of a dying sun. Once a self-contained paradise, the grandiose citadel now plays host to an ever-growing darkness. Therion, a fearless and proud son of Valfaris, returns to his home to uncover the truth of its doomed fate and to challenge the arcane evil at its very heart.

Otherwise its the same-old slashfest with new and improved blasting, allowing you to dominate ranks of deadly enemies and bosses, from the weird to the grotesque (and some that are just grotesquely weird)! All to the thud of a seismic soundtrack by ex-Celtic Frost guitarist, Curt Victor Bryant. Guessing 2018 for this!

New Aria Soft romance Empress of Peach Flower waves its guns and swords around

Auto translate says this ARIA Soft game is called "Sliver of 1000, Empress of Peach flower" or ""Thousands of Edge, Empress of Peach flower" - take your pick. The 18-rated adventure will land on Japanese Vita screens in December. Other than that, the available information focuses only on the cast and singer of the drippy song. Searching around, there's a website which is very pretty and shows off the high-quality graphics, hopefully someone with better Japanese will decrypt some detail soon.