Thursday, April 28, 2011

PSP Hardware Sales Rule in Japan

Here's the numbers, with the PSP selling twice as many as the 3DS, which really needs some AAA games for it, last week's in brackets.

PSP - 49,162 (23,846)
3DS - 23,038 (28,252)
PS3 - 19,033 (22,265)
Wii - 7,866 (8,122)
DSi LL - 7,064 (7,724)
DSi - 6,214 (6,809)
Xbox 360 - 1,891 (1,898)
PS2 - 1,163 (1,261)
DS Lite - 283 (423)
PSP go - 265 (207)



On the software front the PSP stacks up behind a couple of DS games at the top of the charts which is headed by a Pokemon Typing game of all things. 



1. Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS 59,363 NEW!
2. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 Professional 45,397 (337,166)
3. 2nd Super Robot Wars Z Hakai Volume 44,973 (351,992) PSP
4. Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 27,931 (99,195) PSP
5. Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 24,365 (110,851)
6. Detective Conan: Aoki Houseki no Ronbukyoku 19,786 NEW!
7. Gachitora! Abarenbou Kyoushi in High School 13,560 NEW! PSP
8. SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs 4 12,613 NEW!
9. Pilot Wings Resort 10,675 (37,228)
10. Otomedius X 10,502 NEW!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tri-Ace Bringing new RPG Frontier Gate to PSP

Frontier Gate is described by Tr-Ace as a Monster Hunter role-playing game, in a turn-based style. Which sounds fun to say the least. The company behind the Star Ocean RPGs is a little late the PSP party, but is more than welcome.

To be published by Konami, Frontier Gate allows three players to play together (in ad-hoc mode) each with their main character and a partner character, by playing with different partners, you will get the full spectrum of the game's story.

Andriasang has a few details on the mechanics of the game and some partner details, but we await the first screens to see how this thing looks, there's nothing on the Tri-Ace or Konami sites. Guess we'll have to wait and see what Famitsu brings.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sony Comes Clean on PSN: "Someone has stolen your data"

A full update from Sony, an entire week after the PSN service was shuttered, has just been released and reveals the full horror of the situation.

I'll leave it to Sony to depress all PSP/PS3 owners themselves:


Thank you for your patience while we work to resolve the current outage of PlayStation Network & Qriocity services. We are currently working to send a similar message to the one below via email to all of our registered account holders regarding a compromise of personal information as a result of an illegal intrusion on our systems. These malicious actions have also had an impact on your ability to enjoy the services provided by PlayStation Network and Qriocity including online gaming and online access to music, movies, sports and TV shows. We have a clear path to have PlayStation Network and Qriocity systems back online, and expect to restore some services within a week.

We’re working day and night to ensure it is done as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience and feedback.

Valued PlayStation Network/Qriocity Customer:
We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19, 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network. In response to this intrusion, we have:
  1. Temporarily turned off PlayStation Network and Qriocity services;
  2. Engaged an outside, recognized security firm to conduct a full and complete investigation into what happened; and
  3. Quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure by re-building our system to provide you with greater protection of your personal information.
We greatly appreciate your patience, understanding and goodwill as we do whatever it takes to resolve these issues as quickly and efficiently as practicable.
Although we are still investigating the details of this incident, we believe that an unauthorized person has obtained the following information that you provided: name, address (city, state, zip), country, email address, birthdate, PlayStation Network/Qriocity password and login, and handle/PSN online ID. It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained. If you have authorized a sub-account for your dependent, the same data with respect to your dependent may have been obtained. While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility. If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, out of an abundance of caution we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained.

For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information. Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking. When the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services are fully restored, we strongly recommend that you log on and change your password. Additionally, if you use your PlayStation Network or Qriocity user name or password for other unrelated services or accounts, we strongly recommend that you change them, as well.

To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant, to review your account statements and to monitor your credit reports. We are providing the following information for those who wish to consider it:

<LOTS OF CREDIT REPORT STUFF DELETED>

We thank you for your patience as we complete our investigation of this incident, and we regret any inconvenience. Our teams are working around the clock on this, and services will be restored as soon as possible. Sony takes information protection very seriously and will continue to work to ensure that additional measures are taken to protect personally identifiable information. Providing quality and secure entertainment services to our customers is our utmost priority. Please contact us at 1-800-345-7669 should you have any additional questions.
Sincerely,
Sony Computer Entertainment

PSN Downtime: No Where To Go and No One To Shoot

Not only and tens of millions of gamers not playing online or buying stuff, but real developers who rely on PSN being up are losing revenue. An IndustryGamers piece, highlights the not-exactly-plight of PixelJunk creators Q-Games who will suffer if gamers lose confidence in the PSN service once it does come back up.

Then there's all the folks who brought SOCOM, Portal 2 and other multiplayer-heavy titles that have no where to go and no one shoot. Reviewers who get their code through download codes will also be missing out (was hoping to do Persona 3 this week, but that looks unlikely).

All of which means Sony will have a real struggle on its hands to repair the image of PSN, as well as make the service bulletproof in future. The very latest from Sony is a decidedly unhelpful:

 "There are a number of sources speculating on the nature of the PSN issue and ETA's but there has been no official feedback on this as yet"

Sony Unveils New PlayStation-Certified Tablets, Good for Games?

In Tokyo, Sony has just unveiled its S1 and S2 tablets, one being a home device, the other a more portable-friendly clamshell format. The Android 3.0 Honeycomb devices pack a 9.4 inch screen and a pair of 5.5 inch screens respectively, no real specs were mentioned beyond Tegra 2 chips.












The S2 model also looks better for gaming as the player can have virtual keys on the lower screen with the game up top. The models will be released as Sony Vaio devices, nothing to do with Sony Ericsson or the Xperia Play. As such they should work with Sony's home entertainment Bravia devices in fun and interesting ways.


The S2 playing games, looking stylish

There is coverage of the launch from the WSJ, and most sites now have pretty pictures. As the devices are PlayStation Certified, they will be able to play games from the PSN store, whenever that comes back up - which wasn't mentioned during the event. Otherwise, it does the whole movies and music thing with Internet and social stuff.

The S1 with BIG buttons

The tablets are expected to launch in the Autumn which is about a million years too late to have any impact as a market mover, will this news stop anyone buying an iPad 2? Um, no!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Ragnorok Rocking on to PSP

Ragnorok Princess of Light and Dark is a new strategy RPG heading to the PSP later this year (and one that will hopefully get a western release). Andriasang has a Viking-boat-load of screen shots and art. Famitsu has run a feature on the game introducing warrior characters Torene and Cynthia, and the princess Adelaide.




The art style is depressingly like most other JPRGs with a little Norse mythology tacked on. And it seems like every other game coming over is a strategy RPG (I'm currently reviewing Aedis Eclipse, which has come hot on the heels of Tactics Ogre and so on.)




Still its another game to look forward to and with Apollosoft and Chime working on development duties, there is plenty of reason to expect a classy game in the end.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

NGP Launch Line-Up Firming Up; WipeOut, Uncharted, ModNation plus new games

Sony's NGP launch is starting to feel a little more real as a number of sources suggest that the launch line-up of first party games will feature titles both new and old. A report has suggested that it might launch in Europe and the US before Japan in 2011.

Launching with it will be a new WipeOut game (2048), Uncharted, a revamped ModNation Racers and a new game called Smart As... That's probably not quite the list gamers are expecting, but as long as there are plenty of third-party titles to flesh things out, it shouldn't be too bad.

A Resistance game is expected to release in the new year and will be one of the first games to use some NGP trickery, using the system's camera to help players pick up weaspons according to a snippet at UberGizmo.

Friday, April 22, 2011

PSN Outage and what it could mean for NGP

Sony is planning a neat cloud-storage save system for its NGP and PS3. Hopefully you will still be able to save games locally, because if we get hit by Sony's current PSN outage in the future, all of sudden everyone goes back to a Level 1 Dwarf on whatever role-playing game you're in to.

The PSN incident (which Sony say will now see the store and services closed until Wednesday) and Amazon's similar outage highlight the perils of storage your stuff in the cloud. Amazon already offer a cloud storage service for your music. Apple and Google will do the same soon - what happens when that service becomes unavailable - despite these companies' promises of 99.95% uptime and multiple redundancies in the systems.

The current situation is annoying a lot of gamers, some of whom pay for the privilege, it is stopping people spending money with Sony on PSN and generating a lot of bad PR. That's being made worse by Sony refusing to say what is really going on and only hinting at a resolution - being upfront and honest would go some way to mitigating the rising anger.

Imagine if that happens to a generation of NGP or other gamers reliant on the cloud and online infrastructure, especially when even offline single player games need an online authentication system, there will be much more bad press and possibly legal investigations should that go wrong.

PSP Smokes the Japanese Charts Again With Super Robot Wars Z

Sony smashes the top spot this week in the software charts with Super Robot Wars Z selling over 300,000 copies in its first week. The PSP has four of the top 10 and nine games of the top 20. Although it hasn't done much for the hardware sales as it only sold 25,000 PSPs this week, with the 3DS on the rise with 28,000.


    Dai-2-Ji Super Robot Wars Z: Hakai-hen (PSP) - 307,019
    Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (PS3) - 86,486
    Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 - Professional (NDS) - 86,364
    Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (PSP) - 71,264
    Persona 2: Innocent Sin (PSP) - 62,721
    Pilotwings Resort (3DS) - 26,554
    Homefront (PS3) - 22,111
    Earth Defence Force 2 Portable (PSP) - 16,898
    Pro Baseball Spirits 2011 (3DS) - 11,644
    Dynasty Warriors 7 (PS3) - 10,369

Final Fantasy Type-0 Official Site Launches

Get ready some industrial/anthemic noise belting out of your speakers as Square has opened up the Final Fantasy Type-0 Official Site - the site has a bunch of world screenshots in the Prologue tab, some action shots in the System tab and character art. But, at the moment, I'm just happy sitting here listening to the music in the background.



Expect more to follow in the build up to the game's launch with the World and Special tab yet to have any content. As an aside, Andriasang has some new better quality screens up and it does look gorgeous, while still leaning towards 3rd Birthday presentation-style, which is no bad thing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Games Hit for Xperia Play

After all the drama of the launch, its now time for the Xperia Play to start delivering.... and there is no sound of the postman's feet on the drive. Filling in the gap comes Unity3D, here to publish couple of titles, Battle Bears -1 and Cordy.



Unity has a mobile games development system that makes it easier to build cool games and helps developers publish their titles. Battle Bears -1 is a highly aggressive bear-on-bear shooter while Cordy offers gorgeous, pastel-coloured, platform antics.



Both games are a whole lot better for the Xperia Play's controls, which makes me wonder if all the games with unified score centres will have to have a special chart for players using the Xperia Play, as they presumably have a slight-to-massive advantage over those tilting furiously or stabbing at the screen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PSN EU Store Update 20/4

New Games

Ben 10 Ultimate Cosmic Destruction £23.99
Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection £27.99
Patapon 3 £21.99

Minis

Dual Invaders £2.49

20Q £2.49

Demos

Gladiator Begins

Spring Offers  - same as last week

Final Fantasy Type-0 News Emerges

Having got Dissidia 012, The 3rd Birthday and FFIV out the way (phew), Square can now focus on the former mobile-turned-PSP heavyweight Type-0. Some news has been released by Japanese magazine, Jump with more news this week and next from Dengeki and Famitsu.



Andriasang has translated the details with the return of a Moogle, and the lead characters. But, behind all the glossy articles, all we want to know is how the game plays. The engine does look a little similar to what we've seen in The 3rd Birthday. But with a more magical focus to the combat, and the possibility of online team play (probably not a million miles from Monster Hunter) there is a tantalising core of gameplay wrapped in the Nova Crystallis mythology that could offer something special.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sister Rose Chang and her slutty friends Kicking Ass on PSP

Can't recall seeing much about Sister Rose Chang before, but publisher D3 has been busy promoting its number one hit, Earth Defense Force 2. The game was released in Japan at the end of last month and features a gang of raunchy ladies kicking the asses of various zombies and screen-filling monsters.



Sister Rose Chang carries a D or 17+ rating in Japan. It isn't on D3's U.S. site, so is unlikely to ever make it over to the west. To be fair, it doesn't look all that great a game. However, before you cast it to the back of your mind, take a look at the game's site, which has some neat animation and you can see some of the costumes rendered a lot better than the game's screen shots do, saving you a lot of mental effort.

If you want a PSPGo, get going now, production ceasing.

[UPDATE] - Sony Japan has officially confirmed production has ended for the PSPGo, a plucky little innovator - it will be remembered fondly.

A report over on Andriasang suggests that Sony has ceased production of the PSPGo, presumably to make way for production of the NGP. The poorly-selling device never really caught on and without the mega-selling Monster Hunter Portable games appearing on the PSN store, it was never likely too.



I'd love to pick one up once prices have bottomed out, regardless of its perception as a failure, it does look fantastic and I have enough PSN games to make it a worthwhile backup device. Hopefully a price cut will see the last of them fly off the shelves into good homes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Congratulations we've had a little Wii sister!

PSP2roundup has just had a sibling, Wii2roundup will do the same job of gathering all the gossip and information on the successor to the Nintedo Wii that leaked this week. Drop on by to find out what will be inside the console and, more importantly, what games and developers are signing up, as the news comes out.

I'll pop a side bar link so you can jump between the two sites easily enough. So that's PSP2roundup (black) and Wii2roundup (white) - easy enough to remember.

Friday, April 15, 2011

O2 Updates on Xperia Play Launch and Fix

A blog post from o2's testing folk suggests that the delayed launch of the white Xperia Play from the phone network is coming soon. It also buts the problems firmly in Sony's court, wonder if the update is o2 specific or will be put out to other provider's phones too?

... we’ve received new software from Sony Ericsson which we’ve been testing here and, I’m happy to report, it has fixed a lot of the bugs that would have stopped our customers having a great experience when they use the PLAY. This is an important milestone for us and means the PLAY is nearly ready to go on sale.

I’ll update you again shortly and we’ll also be publishing more details on the Xperia PLAY very soon, including prices and specific release dates.

NGP Vision Engine Tech Demo Up and Running

Catching up after a day out in the real world yesterday, so here's a video of the Vision Engine from Trinigy, showing off a few NGP tricks. It doesn't look all that spectacular really, but as an example of what can be done isn't bad. It looks like the original video has been pulled, so don't know how long this one will hang around for.



The trouble with tech demos is we all know how good these things look, the success of NGP won't be down to good looking games, that's expected, it is down to novel use of the NGP's interfaces and controls to produce something "new" to gaming, rather like the Wii did.

Trinigy announced its engine on NGP back in February, offering the following features:

-Optimized character skinning system for NGP– allows for efficient rendering of detailed characters with very high polygon and bone counts.

-Full support for cross-platform and platform-specific texture formats– offers a straightforward workflow and easy porting of existing content, while providing high-loading performance and platform-specific content optimizations, where required.

-Multithreading system– takes full advantage of NGP’s CPU cores for animations, mesh deformation, particle simulation, physics, visibility determination, and more.

-Highly efficient rendering– Efficient rendering system minimizes CPU load.

-Optimized shader/shader constant handling– includes full cross-platform compatibility.

-Comprehensive support for NGP’s user interface–includes multi-touch as well as support for dual analog sticks.

-Fully featured graphics technology– includes normal/parallax maps, specular maps, dynamic lighting, post-processing effects and more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PSP Tops Both Charts in Japan (Again), Saved by Earth Defense Forces 2

Shock horror, the PSP only has six of the top ten games in Japan! Standards are slipping and must be addressed! There's a new number one in the form of Earth Defense Force 2 (check out their fun video from a while back), otherwise its largely the usual suspects in a quiet week, figures from [AndriaSang].

[PSP] 01. Earth Defense Forces 2 Portable 63,795 (NEW)
[NDS] 02. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 42,397 (205,405)
[PSP] 03. Ebicore + Amagami 23,849 (93,070)
[PSP] 04. Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection 19,392 (154,946)
[PS3] 05. Dynasty Warriors 7 17,002 (400,608)
[PSP] 06. Monster Hunter Portable 3rd 12,060 (4,429,577)
[NDS] 07. Kimi ni Todoke Tsutaeru Kimochi 11,229 (NEW)
[3DS] 08. Nintendogs + Cats 10,997 (182,519)
[PSP] 09. Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy 9,484 (428,619)
[PSP] 10. Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity 8,822 (321,241)

No. 1 Baby!

On the hardware front, the PSP has a narrow lead over the 3DS, but its a big drop from last week. However, with Super Robot Wars Z out this week and Story of the Last Promise out in a couple of weeks, normal service should resume soon:

1. PSP: 35,478 (57,379)
2. 3DS: 32,910 (42,979)
3. PS3: 22,431 (27,453)
4. Wii: 8,825 (10,249)
5. DSi LL: 8,386 (9,706)

2nd Super Robot Wars Z

PSP Getting a Bollywood Game...

... hey, why not! India is a booming market. The story from the Telegraph newspaper [via Spong] says that Agent Vinod, a James Bondish action flick, and a superhero game, Ra.one, are being produced by Sony for the PSP.

The original Agent Vinod film is from 1982 but there's a remake in the works (starring the very bing in Bollywood Kareena Kapoor) so, it could be timely and a great way to get a specific market interested in the PSP.

I know there are quite a few Indian software houses churning out games for the western market, but its only a matter of time before they start digging into their own culture. Personally, I've always wanted some more cross-cultural games, the French used to do some great stuff (Captain Blood) and I'm sure the Koreans could do some mental reworkings of some of their horror movies!

What's your favourite foreign-based and themed game (Outside of the UK, US and Japan)?


NGP U.S. Launch Confirmed for 2011

Quite why market research analysts broke this news I'm not sure, but the smug folk at Lazard say that NGP will definitely launch in America in 2011. Which probably leaves us Europeans out of luck, but hey-ho! This is based on analyst day that no one else seems to have heard about???

The story is on MCV, where the analysts also get in a tizzy about pricing (don't they understand there are some things people just have to have) and then reveal themselves as ignorant analysts by comparing Uncharted on NGP as looking impressive compared to early PSP games - well duh!


Final Fantasy V Now on PSN

Dunno if I missed this in the PSN Store update, or Square just does its own stuff now but Final Fantasy V joins:

Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection (review coming soon)
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VIII

on the PSN store. Spot the gap there, well FFIII is £9.49 on iTunes while this is just £7.99 with all new CG and stuff!

EU PSN Store Update

If you saw the Spring Offers post from earlier in the week, that appears to be your lot for PSP games this week. Apart from them, Dissidia 012 owners will find some extra costume packs for 79p.

There is also a range of new dynamic themes also for 79p. If you loved LittleBigPlanet, then all the expansion packs are now also down to 79p, permanently, so there is no rush.

No sign of Patapon 3 which should be hitting the store, perhaps it'll just appear later on!

PSP Prices Falling in the UK, NOW!

It looks like the price of the PSP is coming down in the UK to match the cuts across Europe and Australia. Tesco has slashed the price of a PSP-3000 to £99 from £149, its the red model, but that's okay right? For reference, the piano black 3000 model is £125 while a white PSPGo is £145.

This might just be Tesco having a spring sale or it could be them getting ahead of a formal announcement from Sony UK. Either way expect cheaper PSPs elsewhere soon as others follow suit. Which can only be good news, what with most PSP games being pretty cheap either new or second hand, or even on the PSN store.

Having had a look around, Sainsbury's is only selling the PSPGo at £225, Game has PSP-3000s in for £130 with HMV doing them for £142. If you know of anywhere with them (new) as cheap or cheaper, let us know.

Japanese PSN Store Update: Dino Crisis 2 and more

Let's face it, the Japanese get all the best stuff, their store update this week includes a host of classics including the likes of:
  • Dino Crisis 2
  • R-Type
  • Max Surfing
  • Capcom's Pocket Fighter
Plus a bunch of Japanese-specific titles to go alongside the new stuff, I dream of a western store update like that. Check out Dengeki for pics.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Xperia Play BackStab Trailer

After an earlier all-cinematic effort, here's a new trailer from Gameloft featuring some in-game footage. The game is out at the end of this week and seems to offer a combo of Pirates of the Caribbean meets Assassin's Creed action going for it.


With sword play, gunplay and close quarters fisticuffs, there's lots of action to be had, but is the game any deeper than that? You have to hope so.

Book the Date - Sony's E3 Event Announced

Sony will be showing off the NGP and its shiny new name on 6th of June at 5PM Eastern time (10PM UK). That's the day before the show opens and with no new hardware expected from Microsoft or Nintendo, the show is Sony's to steal.

Expect masses of great software announcements above and beyond January's unveiling but don't be too upset if the launch date has slipped into the next year and the price is a little more than expected... those are facts we'll just have to deal with.

Sony Europe's PSN Spring Sale - Leap into Action!

Sony's EU blog has just unveiled a Spring Sale with savings on loads of PS3 and PSP titles. Here's the PSP savings you could make, the highlight has to be God of War: Ghost of Sparta for £12, but will anyone pay £17 for Michael Jackson?

On-sale Now

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands £15.99
NBA 2K11 £15.99
Worms: Battle Islands £7.99
Half Minute Hero £6.29
Michael Jackson: The Experience £17.49

From Thursday, 14th April

God of War: Chains of Olympus - £7.99
God of War Ghost of Sparta £11.99
ModNation Racers £11.99
Twisted Metal: Head On £7.99
LittleBigPlanet PSP £7.99

minis/PSOne

Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder £0.99
Mad Blocker Alpha: £0.99
Edge £0.99
Space Shooter for 2 Bucks £0.99
Angry Birds £1.24
Rayman (PSone) £2.99

Japanese Getting Some Great PSP Skins

My PSP is black, has always been black and will forever be black. But if I lived in Japan it'd have a new set of clothes every week... Just look at what Japanese PSPs get to wear this week...

There's this little number as seen in Story of the Last Promise [AndriaSang]


Or, there is this more masculine effort for Alter Ball [Dengeki]


Can't say I've seen a western game offered with a cool skin!

PSP and MediaGo Xperia Play Firmware Updates Ahoy!

A new PSP firmware update is due soon that will, presumably, pave the way for the Qriocity music service, launching later this week in the UK. Although Sony lists it as a mere compatibility update. Hopefully

A little more fun is a Media Go update that will enable Xperia Play and other Sony gadget users to mix and match their content from the PC app. Haven't looked at Media Go in years, anyone know if its worth bothering with these days? Or does it just try to out-muscle iTunes and other media players?


What Is This, Pick On NGP Week? Now the iPhone 5 Butts In

First, there are all these searches about iPad vs NGP, now Eurogamer has a piece suggesting that a delayed iPhone 5 launch is likely to have an impact on the NGP launch. Well, unless the iPhone 5 sprouts dual-analogs and Monster-Hunter-Gear-Solid-Tomb-Raider-Jedi-Death games, then the answer for any proper gamer is likely no.

More likely, the threat will come from cheaper PS3/Xbox consoles and games that will make the NGP, at whatever price it sells for, look expensive. But, since there's some 60 million PSP owners out there, even assuming only a third are still active - that's 20 million buyers looking for an upgrade.

Ahh, now it makes sense (Neptune Mk-II)

When I saw this countdown last week, I was all excited about some mega-emulator, but I'd forgotten about (Make that barely heard of) Neptune from Compile Heart. The in-game, cross-console, RPG that features various heroes from generations of past consoles is getting a sequel and it looks like being PS3-only for now.

Apologies for inadvertently getting anyone all in a tizzy, normal service resuming...

Capcom Unveils Dragon's Dogma Video, News from Captivate

Capcom held its Captivate event behind sealed doors last week and news should start coming out today. I expect nothing whatsoever to be announced for NGP, but some games will obviously me targeted that way in time.

First up is the trailer for new game Dragon's Dogma, a brief and largely uninteresting reveal of a castle and some trees. Looks like a late 90s tech demo at best.


PSP Games Out This Week

Pretty quiet given there's a holiday on the way, hopefully the PSN store updates will have some more in the way of entertainment.

In the U.S.:
Patapon 3, $19.99
3D Twist & Match (mini) [review here]

Europe:
Patapon 3 £19.99
Persona 3 Portable £34.99

Monday, April 11, 2011

Continuing this iPad vs. NGP Silliness

After writing my weekend thought, based on my search stats, I read this piece, this morning, stating that games are the No. 1 use for tablets with 84% of owners using their iPad for games. The thing is, they get the iPad first - then they discover and play games.

If they wanted to play games in the first place, they'd have have got a games console. What is an issue from now though, is that since portable gaming can be seen as somewhat kiddy, or that tablets are just the "must-have" gadgets, people will naturally assume that gaming on the iPad is where its at.

That's not a bad thing in itself, but if big-game developers divert more resources to cut-down touchscreen-based games, there is less available for other devices. While I love the iPad and admire what its doing to the PC industry, I'm not so sure that developers should be taking the quick and easy buck.

I'd rather things went the other way, developers come up with original ideas and concepts on the iPad and then bring them to life on fully-powered, tighter-controlled devices. Anyway, enough on the subject as even I'm starting to obsess on what is just one peculiarity of this moment in time.

The Little Battlers: PSP Mech Game With Real Mechs

Level-5's next game appeals on so many levels, not only is it a game, but an anime and the UMD version will come with a cool plastic Airfix-style kit, so you can build your own. The mini-mech game was supposed to be out last year, but with so much extra-curricular activity around it, the delay wasn't really a shock.


With a whole bunch of PSP games coming with little extras now, this stands out above the others and will hopefully make it intact when it comes out in the west.

PSP Due For A Golden Summer?

With last week's news of a PSP price cut in Europe and a reduction this week for the PSP Go in Australia plus price cuts to the game ranges and a raft of great titles on the way, is the PlayStation Portable about to have an Indian Summer?

There's no need to go into how well the console is doing in Japan, dominating both hardware and software charts (Dissidia 012 was the biggest selling game in the country in March). But various software and hardware forces are aligning in other territories to give the console a last push.

Sure, a lot of these games are Monster Hunter wannabes (White Knight Chronicles, Phantasy Star Portable Infinity, Lord of Arcana) but there is still plenty of potential with The 3rd Birthday, Persona 3, MHP3, Lego Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean, Patapon 3 plus the PSOne releases. So, while it might not get rid of the also-ran tag, it could help build a firm base for NGP adoption and help improve developer confidence.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Thought: Who Keeps Searching for iPad vs. NGP?

Due to some excellent weather in the UK, its been an out-and-about last few days, but when I have come back indoors, people are still searching for "iPad vs NGP." Can I ask why? The iPad (even in its second iteration) is a general purpose device, it has touchscreen and tilt controls.

The NGP is a gaming thoroughbred, with tilt, touch (front and rear), analog and digital controls. You can play any game under the sun on it. The only thing I'm slightly envious about the iPad 2 is its HDMI-out connector, which I really hope Sony will pack in there somehow.

If you want to play games as they are meant to be played, you get an NGP, if you want to do some gaming as well as the whole app thing you get an iPad, its quite simple and doesn't require seaching about in Google for an answer.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Karimogi (PSN) Review

With its life-affirming little ditty, bright & breezy graphics and cute characterisation, Karimogi is a fun little blocks game. It should by rights have the sort of gameplay that sucks you in and makes you wonder where the hours have gone.

The only trouble is you're never really all that in control of things and can spend too long just waiting for something to happen - and its very easy to get stuck. The aim is to build complete rows within the trap your character has fallen into. To this end, you can shove some blocks around, but only push - never pull - and you have a small supply of bombs to get rid of unflattering lines.



Get a sub-row of three or more matching objects and you score more points when the row completes, complete enough rows and you escape the level. The real trouble is that your bombs are more likely to kill you than help and getting hit by a falling shape means instant game over.

The overall mechanics of the game don't make for a fun or particularly friendly or challenging experience. In later levels, rockets and other challenges are added to the mix, but the core gameplay just doesn't really grab. A shame, as everything else has the potential to entertain.

Perhaps if the character could hammer and break blocks (like Rockman) this would be a better game. It needs something more, that is for certain.

Available on PSN for £2.49 [StormBasic]
5/10 If you met this game in a bar, you'd really want to talk to it. But all it would do is discuss climate change, and get its facts wrong!

Sony's e3 Plans Leaked?

Heard a little about this earlier in the week, but here's a massive list of alleged activity from Sony at E3

- Sony will confirm the official name, pricing and release date of the NGP
- There will be 7 first party titles revealed for the NGP
- Hideo Kojima’s NGP project likely to be Peace Walker
- The Wipeout engine has been perfectly ported over to the NGP and you can expect the release of the game in the first quarter of the NGP’s launch
- Chance of another Metal Gear game on its way in the future
- There are 37 titles in the working for Sony platforms, but most will not be revealed until a European event (likely Gamescom)
- Sony will reveal titles that will not be available until Christmas 2012 at E3
- Santa Monica Studios will be on board, but don’t expect much more information about the title (potentially next God of War title)
- A sequel to Warhawk will be revealed before E3
- 2 PS3 exclusives won’t be presented at E3 but will be available before the end of the year in Europe
- Twisted Metal, Resistance 3, Uncharted 3 and The Last Guardian will be playable at E3
- Polyphony Digital are returning with a new title before March 2012
- Polyphony would like to make Europe a privilege for its next title. “Please don’t underestimate their work even if they deceived some of you.”
- A Rockstar game, probably GTA V, could be released before Agent was planned to be

Friday, April 8, 2011

Drums Challenge (PSP) Banging This Way

Sanuk has a nice line in PSP minis with Pix 'N Love Rush, Twin Blades and 3D Twist & Match on the store. Next up from the French publisher is Drums Challenge, a quite literal button basher as you tap away in rhythm to the various musical styles.


Master the rounds, go for a perfect score, and imagine you are one of the world's greatest drummers. All for less than the price of a pint! Originally an iOS game from a Brazilian developer, this should get your samba feet tapping!

PSP Getting European Price Cut

Earlier in the week, I wondered if the PSP would get a price cut to help boost sales in case there was a delay to the NGP. While NGP may or may not arrive this year, the price cut is happening, from today.

The price is coming down from 170 euros to 120 euros on the continent and coincides with a raft of quality PSP games hitting the streets soon including The 3rd Birthday, Monster Hunter Portable 3, Final Fantasy IV and others.

The 3rd Birthday PSP Review (Disengage brain, safety off - go!)

Ah, Square intro videos, I hope that – when I die – the flashbacks of my life are rendered as smartly as this, with lots of particles, flare effects and lingering glances from loved ones.

Someone who knows all about near-death experiences is Aya Brae (heroine of the Parasite Eve series [the first of which is available on the U.S. PSN, hopefully coming to Europe soon] to which this is mildly related). Her Christmas Eve is interrupted by the devastating arrival of massive plant-like tentacles and associated roaming ghouls from underneath the streets of New York. When these guys come to town, they really trash the place.


A year on from these horrific events, from the relative safety of her organisation's secret bunker, she is beamed into that horrific past to deal with the infestation, a time when the alien menace means near-death happens on a minute-by-minute basis.

The time travel is invoked by a fancy system called Overdive (not a typo), where Aya takes over the body of another person, dropping into all kinds of scenes from rock concerts to full-on firefights. Rather than have one life throughout the game, Aya can keep on going as long as she has enough hosts to jump into.


Friendly Fire

Your nominal comrades can also be used in a buddy scenario called Crossfire, where everyone targets a single enemy, good for high-powered beasts, giving it everything they've got. Combat starts with pistols, M-16s but will soon expand to sniper rifles, heavy machine guns and more.

Aya's other superpowers include a skill called Overkill where Overdive is used to appear inside the body the enemy and blow it bits. Finally Liberation is a power bar that when maximised sees Aya able to automatically dodge attacks, dash in blurred leaps and gives her an energy shot.

From the awesome opening scenes, The 3rd Birthday sets its stall out to impress, but quickly you realise that it largely consists of lots (and lots) of shooting at cookie cutter demons, body hopping and waiting until Aya's superpowers are charged up to inflict the big kill.


If these creatures are all deformed-DNA riddled beasts, shouldn't they look a little different? There are breaks from the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire in the form of "run away!" moments and a jaunt in an attack helicopter, but anyone hoping for some thought-based progress will be disappointed.

My main gripe about the game is that most monsters take more than a mag of ammo to take down, so there is a very regular and very annoying pause where Aya gives off a wounded grunt- why a grunt – surely an "Oh-oh" would have been more appropriate, before you can reload. If you can get over this and other minor grizzles, then the game is actually a rather fun romp, as long as you don't think too hard about it.

Kill Boost


Through the early levels, you have enough firepower to make it through unscathed. On completion of a level, you get a Metal Gear-like rating depending on your speed through the level , number of deaths and other feats. Accuracy isn't a problem as auto-aim makes up for the PSP's controls and, generally, performing all her powers is done with ease.

A radar shows you where to go and the location of friends and foes. While teleporting can sometimes leave you confused, your objective is generally clear, even so there is endless radio chatter from your dumb-as-mud comrades back at base. If anyone deserves a bullet, they do - try to ignore them!


The number of giant beasts that The 3rd Birthday throws at you is very impressive, none of this wading through levels of minions to reach them, they pop up all over the place and while taking them down is often a matter of repetitive shooting actions and some observation, take a moment to enjoy the view of these whirling dervishes, there's some very impressive creativity in their freakish DNA.

Aya's DNA is also subject to change, at the end of a level, or a mid-level rest point, you can upgrade her capabilities as her levels advance with improved healing, more damage and so on. She can also buy new weapons or upgrade her existing ones, which adds a smidge of role-playing diversion to the endless gunplay.

How Many Candles?

The 3rd Birthday really crams a lot of impressive features and bags of style into a PSP game, but it does end up rather like a high-budget Sy-Fy channel film. It looks gorgeous and plays well, with only the odd camera glitch, but you're better off ignoring the bizarre-to-silly plot and often dumb scene-setting, and enjoying the violence, upgrades and the overall spectacle of it.

Available on UMD, £34.99
The Twisted Edition comes with an art book of Aya in various guises.

Developer, Square-Enix
8/10 Disengage brain, safety off - go!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gungnir PSP Trailer Unleashed on Famitsu

Japanese site Famitsu has the first video from the upcoming action RPG from Sting. A little bit Final Fantasy Tactics, it looks to have all the essential ingredients of the genre including over-dramatic characters, massive weapons and rebels fighting an evil empire!

NGP to be Named and Priced at E3 Rumour

Okay, this sounds so reasonable and logical that its hardly worth making a fuss about. However the news [VG24/7 via some French spod] does come with mention of a new Polyphony Digital game in 2012, which is welcome news.

Although if its like the last time when Sony promised a game that didn't appear for nearly five years then I'm going to get very upset indeed.

As for the actual name, well I wouldn't be surprised if Sony dropped the PSP name after its relatively weak performance in the west, but it'll have to be a PlayStation something, so - go through the alphabet, add each letter to the PS and think of a mobile, portable or freedom-ish kind of word that could go with it....

PSA - PlayStation Anywhere
PSB - PlayStation Bus
PSC - PlayStation Cargo
PSD - PlayStation Dynamo
PSE - PlayStation Everywhere
PSF - PlayStation Funsize
PSG - PlayStation Go (oh, hang on)
PSH - PlayStation Handheld
etc
etc
etc

Ghostlight's Persona 3 PSP Competition Now Live

To celebrate the release of Persona 3 in the UK, publisher Ghostlight has some corking prizes in its brand new blog competition. There are four competitions running over the next few weeks with rare Japanese figures up as prizes.


All you have to do is suggest what game the company should release next - decent competitions are pretty rare these days, so get going.

Xperia Play Adverts - They Keep On Coming

Another Xperia Play advert has hit, showing off the gaming power of the machine, I'm loving a series of adverts that don't screw around with arty concepts!



Check out the car ad from the other day, and the Kristen ads from a couple of weeks back - easily one of the best tech campaigns in recent years.

Grand Knights History Screens - Both Grand and Knightly

Andria Sang has a collection of lovely looking screenshots for the PSP's upcoming RPG Grand Knights History from Vanillaware. Looks truly lovely and the stats system doesn't look as typically complicated as in most Japanese RPGs.

Capcom Goes Silent for Captivate 2011

[UPDATE] - If you're still hitting this page, all the news is here... not that there's much of a shock.

After the Capcom news yesterday, I was doing some chasing and it turns out that everything happening at the company's Captivate Event in Florida is under a secret embargo until next Tuesday.

Apparently Monster Hunter will be hitting the 3DS which is no great surprise but there should still be some cool PSP stuff like Monster Hunter Diary 3 and hopefully some NGP news, although that may well be kept back until the e3 show in a couple of months.

First Monster Hunter Diary G Trailer

For those who don't get Monster Hunter, you definitely won't get the Diary spin-off series about the pesky feline critters. Still, this is bound to do huge business in Japan, so welcome the first trailer.


Undoubtedly cute and typically mental it looks like it might borrow a little from Patapon but is a creation designed specifically to sell about 20 billion copies in Japan.

PSP Dominates in Japan, Again! Hardware and Games Charts

Once again the PSP spanked the 3DS in the Japanese weekly sales, you have to put this down to the lack of great big-name games for Nintendo's new console and the PSP enjoying a particularly rosy patch, pretty much every week sees a new big-selling game arrive, this week its BazBlue II and Amagami storming into the chart, (although nothing could match Dragon Quest for the original DS) with six PSP games in the top 10.

Anyway, onto the numbers:

01 [NDS] Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 163,008
02 [PSP] Amagami 69,221
03 [PSP] Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection 31,382
04 [PS3] Dynasty Warriors 7 26,493
05 [PSP] BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II 23,808
06 [PS2] Amagami 17,261
07 [PSP] Monster Hunter Freedom 3 15,864
08 [PSP] Dissidia: 012 (Duodecim) Final Fantasy 15,223
09 [3DS] Pro Baseball Family Stadium 2011 12,851
10 [PSP] Phantasy Star Portable 2: Infinity12,002

And for hardware:
  1. PlayStation Portable - 58,075
  2. Nintendo 3DS - 42,979
  3. PlayStation 3 - 27,453
  4. Nintendo DS(i) - 19,901
  5. Wii - 10,249
  6. PlayStation 2 - 1,996
  7. Xbox 360 - 1,789

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ducati Challenge Blasting on to PSP

A new game announcement! And its a good one too with Italian outfit Digital Tales bringing us some mental two-wheeler Ducati action with official bike models, urban, country and track racing, and due out in May.


There's a video on the company site, click Games, to find it and since these are the people responsible for Moto GP on the iPhone last year, they should have a pretty decent engine running by now. It'll be available on the PSN store, price not yet known.

More info as we get it

Start Saving; Sony's Tretton Hints at High NGP Price

This doesn't sound good, a note on GI.biz reckons that Sony could be preparing the world for a fairly steep NGP price. Tretton's words "I think when you're buying a platform, when you're buying technology, you're hopefully buying a device you're going to enjoy for many, many years," suggest this thing isn't going to be as cheap as rumoured.

Or, he could just be spouting off, as we've had a bunch of quotables from Mr. Tretton in the last few days and until something concrete happens, presumably at e3, then all of this remains just words. In practical terms, component pricing in Japan could go up quite a lot in the recovery from the earthquake, so whatever your best guess was it is probably time to start revising them up a little anyway.

PSP EU PSN Store Update 6/4

A lot out today (or at least reduced), so straight into it:

New
Gods Eater Burst £23.99

mini
Karoshi £2.49

Essentials
Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice £6.99
Fat Princess: Fistful of Cake £6.99
echochrome £6.99
LocoRoco2 £6.99

Price cuts
Spectral Souls: RotEE £9.99
WWII: Battle over the Pacific £4.79
StateShift £4.79
International Athletics £3.99
Skate Park City £4.79
World of Pool £3.99
Spinout £3.99

Demo of Xperia Play's Call Handling/Game Pausing Skills

Here's a jolly video from Asia showing how the Xperia Play handles the job of pausing a game you're playing when a call comes in. Short, safe and sweet in action, in case that was a concern before you rushed off to buy one?

Xperia Play Now Available From Virgin and Tesco

Going to the petrol station this morning provided a little more information than I usually get with a giant Xperia Play banner outside my local Tesco store. It is also front and centre on the shop's website, with contracts starting at £30.

Virgin Mobile will also be stocking the phone for free from around £40 a month for a 'free' phone. Check out the Virgin site for more offers. So, it looks like the boat finally made it in and these phones are now all over the shop.

No one seems to be doing anything different or exclusive, offer-wise, which is a shame but we'll keep you up to date if and when some real competition starts.

Japanese Getting Sexy Gear with Last Promise

Story of the Last Promise is out in Japan at the end of this month and developer Imageepoch is doing a great job in tempting in the buyers with a range of freebies, depending on where you buy it. The game will probably not make it to the west, and these sexy extras definitely won't.


Visit Andriasang for some more steamy pics and more detail on the game. What with this and the dubious pleasures of Akiba's Trip, Japanese gamers should be getting all hot and sweaty with their entertainment.

PlayStation Plus Members Getting Fed Well in April

I haven't joined PS Plus for the simple reason that it doesn't offer much for the lowly PSP owner, but if you have a PS3, then you're in for a treat this month with loads on offer...

PSN
  • Red Factions: Battlegrounds – Brand New title at no extra cost.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 2 – brand new and two weeks exclusive to Plus.

PS One:

  • Prince of Persia Classic
  • Creatures 3: Raised in Space

minis:

  • Dual Invaders

*brand new minis and 2 weeks exclusive for Plus*

Exclusive Discounts:

  • Clash of Heroes – 20% day 1 discount (14th April-4th May)
  • Precipice of Darkness Episodes 1 &2 – 80%
  • Dungeon Hunter: Alliance – 25% (ends on 20th April)
  • MotorStorm Apocalypse: Supercar Elite – 20% (ends on 16th April)
  • Outland – 20% Day 1 discount (from 28th April – 4th May)
  • PlayTV Live Chat – 25% off – valid until 6th July 2011

Game Add-ons:

Beta Trial:

inFAMOUS 2 UGC beta: Emails, containing voucher codes to download the beta from the Store will be sent to selected PS Plus users on 12th April and again on 19th. Users have been selected based on a few criteria including what inFamous trophies they achieved in the original game.

Please remember that not all of you will be able to access the beta at this time, though we will try and open it up as wide as possible – as soon as possible. Also, the beta will be in English only at this stage.

Dynamic themes:

  • Exclusive Growing Garden Theme
  • Exclusive Abstract Art Theme

Premium Avatars:

And here is some of what you can expect to see from 4th May – June 1st:

PSN:

  • Streets of Rage 2

PS One:

  • James Pond 2: Robocod

minis:

  • Babel, the King of the Blocks
  • The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character – brand new minis and 2 weeks exclusive for Plus.

Full Game Trial:

  • TV Superstars (Move required) – Exclusively early to Plus and 20% discount

Exclusive Discounts:

  • Eat Them! – 50%
  • Beyond Good & Evil – 20%
  • PlayTV Live Chat – 25% off – valid until 6th July 2011

Dynamic themes:

  • Exclusive City Dynamic Theme
  • Exclusive Dragon Dynamic Theme