Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Macross Delta Scramble lights its jets

The Vita is badly down on air combat games, so if you ignore the generic Japanese robot bashing, perhaps Macross Delta Scramble could sneak onto the list? Bandai's mech transformer shooter hits in October and definitely looks like fun!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

New Toukiden 2 battle trailer

Having finally run out of slightly different weapons to show the world, Tecmo is resorting to oh-so-pretty CG to squeeze the last bit of hype out of Toukiden 2. Sure, it looks impressive, but you'd expect a PS4 game to actually play like that now, right? The trailer is presumably bolted on to the new demo that's out in Japan.

Also, if they're in the middle of a blazing hot desert - how come there's not a drop of sweat on any of them after an intense battle! If you missed it, here's the intro for the robot character. The game is out next week in Japan, and I'm pretty sure it won't sell more than a few hundred extra Vita consoles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review: Grand Kingdom

After NIS's Grand Knights History on PSP failed to make it west, it has been a long wait for something similar. Now Grand Kingdom is finally here to pick up the slack, putting us in the tough leather boots of a bunch of mercenaries who can influence the outcome of kingdom wide battles by sticking those toecaps into the ribs of many enemies.

With the usual nations in peril and at each others' throats backdrop, at its most basic, Grand Kingdom see your party running around a mission map with a range of objectives, collecting, fighting or exploring.

Some "traps" litter the map, like rain, storms, thunder, weak bridges, rocky ledges and so on to slow the party down, and the clock is usually ticking in the form of move limits. When the squad comes across an enemy, we enter turn-based combat mode which is split over three rows to give some depth to proceedings.

With limited turns, each party member can move, attack, defend, cure or use spells or ranged weapons, depending on their class. Defeating the enemies is down to tactics, or in the early going just plain thuggery as you pummel everyone in sight. Soon, the need for tactics becomes apparent, your big sword or hammer wielding types can swing their weapons reining havoc down upon friend and foe. Then, just wait until the dragons or support artillery get started, running away can be a useful option.

Being in the right place at the right time can be vital, and battle maps too can be littered with tricks, traps and obstacles on both sides to make winning trickier. Ranged weapons have an extra component of timed aiming to get right. As you gain experience you can perform party combos

Complete a mission and you get some goodies, with more resources, treasure chests and other extras tucked away in corners of the main map. Find these while completing the main mission, usually find x items, defeat x warriors, protect so and so, and you rank up, gaining new skills. There are lots of customisation options, so the game has plenty of depth, but we're digging with a teaspoon here, not a shovel.
Among the interesting features in Grand Kingdom is some actual encouragement to avoid combat, giving you options to sneak past or delay opponents. That's a refreshing change, however, many things bug me about the game, from major annoyances to peculiarities or quirks. I'd compiled this little lot with just a few hours of play, so I'd imagine there's more to uncover...
  • Loading screens make regular and annoying appearances throughout Grand Kingdom. They're always a few seconds too long, especially between relatively data-light parts of the game, like jumping from one menu to another. 
  • Also, menus are all over the place, with base menus, quests, party, nations, and many more, none are really laid out best for the Vita's screen, thank the PS4 version for that. Most of them bury information several levels deep too. You want a healing potion, that's Quest Menu, Use Supplies, Choose Item, and the menu vanishes so you have to repeat those steps to treat a badly shot-up party. 
  • Fighters fall over, all the time, even mighty high-level oaks, which is ludicrous! 
  • Another dumb feature is Assist Mode where one team member, who was seconds ago useless, turn-limited and can't move, can suddenly leap across the battlefield to deliver a killer blow, that seems to break most of the rules of the game, but since its a benefit, I can grudgingly live with it. 
  • Going from an experienced party back to a new team of level one noobs is a galling experience, which quickly gets boring. Fortunately, you can send them out on assignments to other kingdoms to gain some skills automatically.
  • Lose the last battle and you fail the quest - which is not fair or funny! Especially when better enemies get first shot and can cripple a mis-arranged party. 
  • Finally, it is too easy for a slip of a finger to make one of your party attack the wrong way, beat up an ally, or move the whole team the wrong way on the map. Similarly, you can be making a move with one character and tap the wrong button when the next character comes up, causing chaos or mucking up your plan. 

Having been playing Odin's Sphere at the same time, it is harder to love this game due to its lack of polish and the distinct lack of joy within. Exploring the different cities and creating alliances feels to much like hard work to be fun, even the dash of multiplayer through alliances fails to light the game up. Everything feels a little forced or generic and despite plenty of tactical depth, I'm struggling to love it. 

There's little inherently wrong with Grand Kingdom, it perhaps just came out at the wrong time against some gorgeous competition and feels rather bland in comparison.

Score: 7/10
More reviews
Price: £29.99 (PSN)
Developer: NIS
Progress: City breaks!

Trails in the Sky and Uppers duke it out in Japanese chart

The new Media Create chart sees Trails in the Sky: 3rd Evolution take second spot with 10,500 sales - that's just 600,000 down on the latest Yokai Watch title at No. 1. Down in seventh is Uppers which manages a fairly meagre 7,000 sales, so not quite the battle royale we were hoping for. Still, the Japanese publishers are now increasingly relying on western translations to boost sales. so its kind of good news!

Vita unit sales continue flat at just shy of 11,000. Will Pokemon Go's arrival in Japan today finally nail handheld gaming? Some games continue to sell okay, but nothing this summer has spiked Vita sales as in previous years.

Dragon Quest Heroes II and Powerful Pro Baseball 2016 are still clinging on at the bottom of the chart, having sold 215K and 155K respectively, but nothing seems capable of lifting Vita sales now. Minecraft keeps on giving at 825K.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Hyper Light Drifter drifts to autumn on Vita

With the PS4 version coming next month, there's not much surprise that the Vita version of Hyper Light Drifter will be holding until autumn, due to the dreaded, but now expected, porting and performance issues.

These are going to plague increasing numbers of Vita ports as base versions demand more from their systems. But who cares, as long as we get the game, a 16-bit style RPG with an awesome soundtrack in playable form, in the end. In the meantime, here's the PC release trailer for the Heart Machine title.

Beyond Human takes another shot at fame!

Beyond Human was on Kickstarter a couple of years ago, and failed. However, as with many projects that tried crowdfunding, it has rolled on in the background, and is ready to take another shot. A cool pixel Metroid shooter, check out the game's Twitter feed for the latest screens and animation.

The new Kickstarter, due in September will be supported by a demo and much improved visuals than in the video below. That should easily get it over the line and Vita owners can chip in for our version, which was part of the base funding goal. Wonder if there's any room for a pixelly Gemma Chan from Humans the TV show?

Gratuitous gorgeous Gemma Chan pic!

Valkyrie Drive gets a release date, physical version

Pre-order the physical copy of Valkyrie Drive on the Vita and you get six bonus cards for the sexy charged-up combat game. The PQube-published game will hit your mat on 16 September, offering hack and slash arena combat with plenty of over-friendly ladies who become the weapons in battle.

With 28 missions and four-player mode, it is all about the ladies! Rice Digital have an even groovier Liberator's Edition, with a Vita Peach Skin Case, soundtrack, art book presentation box and more goodies For £60!

Alone With You wants a friend in August

The indies are popping up all over the place in the last few days, helping give the Vita summer roster a very healthy look. Coming in August is EGA styled adventure Alone With You from Ben Rivers. The space adventure sees your character needing to get along with his AI to survive a lurking menace. Its not quite Event[0] (PC) which takes a similar vein in 3D, but the strong narrative focus should get us buying into the plot.

Organ Trail bleeds out on PSN

Popping up pretty much out of nowhere, bar a quiet announce last year, get ready for some survival fun with Organ Trail Complete Edition from @HatsProductions on the EU PSN. It includes the Endless Expansion and the new Final Cut Expansion from the PC original! The very retro game packs in a host of mini-games with the objective of staying alive, but even your death is celebrated in fine style!

The £12.99 Organ Trail is a retro zombie survival game. Your party of survivors travel west in a station wagon, scavenging for supplies and fending off the undead. Packed full of zombie mechanics, themes and references this is a must have for any zombie survival fans.

The Endless Expansion includes: Endless Mode! Play until you die, combat upgrades, car upgrades, a ridiculous physics-based driving game plus over 40 new road events.

The Final Cut Expansion doubles the content and adds co-op play, loads of new boss fights, zombies, unlockable characters and cars, new ways to die with a radiation mechanic and the ability to choose-your-own-route. New features that come with this update include:
  • Drop in co-op play during any combat scenario
  • Choose-your-route on the road with twice as many cities
  • 5 unlockable cars
  • 10 unlockable characters
  • 3 new boss fights
  • 3 new zombie types
  • Radiation mechanic gives you a new way to die
  • Hit and Run driving job
  • Graveyard retrieval mission
  • Fishing
  • More and new bandit attacks
  • Secret endings
  • Double the story encounters and road events

World of Final Fantasy Mirage trailer

Square continues to ramp up the hype for WoFF. Its got everything you'd expect, a bit of cute, a dash of mild peril and a lot of stoic heroes. The game is out later this year and stands a fair chance of being the Vita's biggest seller for 2016.

Legend of Heroes 3rd Evolution anime intro

Here's the anime intro for Falcom's new LoH title out in Japan today. 3rd Evolution is a return to the pixel-based series, a cuter saga compared to the Trails of Cold Steel hi-fi visuals.

I was enjoying the first Trails in the Sky on the PSP many years ago, and might have to dive back into it, but then I remember the first hour being nothing but chat bubbles - hopefully this is a bit more "into the action."

UPDATE: Scratch that, my PSN purchase no longer exists, looks like XSEED Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky SC bundle version is the only thing left from the old days. Mine was the Ghostlight Standard Edition - damn! Perilous thing this digital ownership lark.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Toukiden 2 anime kicks robot ass

I must have missed the previous segments, but here's the final, complete, anime clip for Toukiden 2's new character. The Studio 4C made trailer introduces our new robot friend Mononofu, and a little bit about his background. There's some cool art and renders of the little chap on a 4Gamer piece (JP), the game is out at the end of the month in Japan.

Latest Media Create sales chart doesn't need a True Fashion God

Vita sales continue their summer doze, kicking around the 11K-12K trend of recent weeks, but with none of the peeks of recent years, which isn't great news. True Fashion God 2 makes a lame new entry at No. 12, shifting just 5,500 boxed copies, while Labyrinth of Refrain sticks around a shockingly weak top 10, with another 7,700 sales.

Square's Dragon Quest Heroes II is now well over the 200K mark. Out tomorrow in Japan are Uppers (Marvelous) and Legend of Heroes: The 3rd Evolution (Falcom) which should make next week's chart a bit more exciting. Given that the US NPD chart now plan to cover digital sales, I wonder how long it will take for Japan to start dropping PSN numbers?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

MeiQ Labyrinth of Death confirmed for September

Mechs and anime babes clash in this saucy RPG from Compile Heart, now confirmed for a mid-September release. Check out the new trailer!

The rotation of the celestial bodies has ceased, and it's up to you to make your way through the four tower mazes and set things in motion again in this challenging dungeon-crawling RPG! Your heroines will be joined in battle by giant mechanical Guardians, whose individual parts can be customized in multiple ways to suit your battle style against a multitude of elemental enemies!

Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force launch trailer

As I tweeted earlier in the day, Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force is live on the EU PSN for £29.99. Now here's the trailer from Bandai for the mech battling digital-only title with the mighty machines hammering away at each other on a Vita.

The game comes with all Japanese updates and DLC included, which from memory is quite a lot of content and ad hoc multiplayer.