Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ragnarok developer still losing money

Korean developer Gravity, behind Ragnarok Online, Odyssey and Ragnarok Odyssey Ace has been losing millions of Korean won a quarter for some time now. Not sure how long it can keep this up, but it does have a parent company to absorb the loses, we have to hope that Ace can turn things around. Read the grim detail in its report here.

The company says of its Vita output, The decrease QoQ was mostly due to decreased revenues from Ragnarok Odyssey, a PS Vita game. Suggesting that interest is dying out on the older game. While it says of Ace...

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, a PS Vita game based on the universe of Ragnarok Online and expansion pack of Ragnarok Odyssey, is slated to be launched in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia on August 29, 2013. The game will be rolled out in North America and Europe in the first quarter of 2014.

More new and old indies headed to the Vita and PS4

The list just grows and grows, as Shahid and co. track down more titles that will light up the Vita, and ensure we're not twiddling out thumbs waiting for the next big PS4 release. These were announced at PAX, and there's surely more to come On the old, and decidedly retro, side we have VVVV from Nicalis while new titles include:

Cosmic Star Heroine from Zeboyd

Road Not Taken from Spry Fox

Sony creates new Third Party Dev Group, port begging for real

In an attempt to get third parties back on board, Sony U.S. has a new team to 'reach out' and do deals. According to the blog post...

"The Third Party Relations team at PlayStation is well known for developing solid relationships across this industry, and this new group will work closely with our publishing partners to bring their beloved IPs to some new places. This means you’ll see even more great games on PlayStation platforms, including new IP’s, ports, and localized products. In addition, our partners who are currently in production will have us as a resource to strengthen their development process, ensuring quality and consistency on all Third Party. Contact me on Twitter through the ingenious and mesmerizing handle of @giocorsi"

Sounds like Sony has made port-begging an official job title, but hopefully it can tie titles and dev teams together. However, if you think that means loads of AAA games will flood the Vita, as lots of people are tweeting this later-day Shahid, think again. Unless it has a mad budget, Sony can't do much more than second division wheeler dealing. And if publisher x doesn't want game y on Vita, it just isn't happening *cough Capcom cough*.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

You can't stop the Japanese playing (and talking about) Ragnarok Odyssey Ace

Skip forward about six minutes to bypass the earnest chatter and enjoy these keen gamers creating a party and trying out one of the later missions in Ragnarok Odyssey Ace. I'm pretty sure the lead player is being rather rude to the ladies, but the game itself looks somewhat evolved from the first version and should shake up the chart on release this week in Japan. Some details on the powers in use on the Famitsu site.

Vita firmware 2.61 goes live

As you'd expect from a .01 release, there's not much new to look at with Sony saying the usual... "PS Vita system update 2.61 is coming soon, system software stability during use of some features has been improved." Haven't downloaded it yet, but will keep an eye out for any noticeable changes over the day.

Time for some rule that even a .01 update has to have at least one new or useful feature? Let us know if you spot anything. While we're here, what do you fancy seeing in the next big, presumably, 3.00 release? I'd like save state icons available on the top menu (or in a neat folder) allowing me to launch a game exactly where I left off, no menus and loading.

While  not specific to the upgrade, surely Netflix can get their EU app out now?

UPDATE: What the update does do is fix some PSP minis running on the Vita where the save file could be corrupted to allow running VHBL custom code (used for running emulators), some games still allow access to VHBL however. So, Sony is keeping the lid partially shut on the Vita from a potential piracy perspective, for now.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Spelunky and Real Boxing hit the Vita

Asking £12 for an indie game seems to be pushing it, even the £9.59 for PS+ subs is a bit steep, but Spelunky looks like another sure fire indie the Vita and the pricing is comparable with the PC version. Luckily there is a demo to try first and at only 125MB won't take too long to experience the game, playing it now, and it does look pretty sharp.

Real Boxing is a long awaited sports sim, that is it vanished into iOS development first, costs a more reasonable £7.99 with mo-capped fighters and intense detail. With the Vita lacking in this area, Wonder if Vivid will also bring its ski jumping simulator over as well?

Super Robot Wars leads Vita sales in Japan

Odd, earlier this week, I was wondering if two Vita games in the top five would boost hardware sales. Ithe short answer is no, as post-holiday sales slumped to 11,000 units. Both Super Robot Wars and Conception II managed to shift nearly 19,000 copies each to land in the top five, but overall it seems a quiet week in Japan.

04./00. [PSV] Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Masou Kishin III - Pride of Justice <SLG> (Bandai Namco Games) - 18.929 / NEW 
05./00. [PSV] Conception II: Shichisei no Michibiki to Mazuru no Akumu <RPG> (Spike Chunsoft) - 18.878 / NEW 

Fun fact, the Vita version of Conception sold nearly four times as much as the 3DS version, suggesting that the Vita is the grown up console in Japan, and the introduction of the 2DS (see last story) may widen that gap, with the likes of Killzone coming to the Vita.

Oh snap! Nintendo's 2DS reignites handheld wars

Outside of Japan, where the 3DS is king, portable sales are pretty much in the mire. Sony has jut cut the Vita's price but Nintendo has just trumped that with a whole new console. The 2DS is a non-3D 3DS machine, cheap at £109 or $129 which puts it in the price range of most toys, and well below the Vita's £169.

The device is a flat one, no folding to protect the screens and is supposed to be one big screen under all that plastic. With still no dual-sticks it limits its value to core gamers, but is so cheap that kids could lap it up.

While Nintendo has done a good job shifting the 3DS, this apparently backward step means under-7s can get a 2DS, avoiding the whole 3D eye strain thing. It can help shift lots of cheap games from the early catalogue and with a Wii U price cut, also help make Nintendo's big screen gaming less of a disaster. Or it could be ignored like the mini Wii, time will tell but Nintendo has definitely left Sony looking pretty pricey in sticker stakes.

Killzone Mercenary is big in Japan

Not that it's a guarantee of big sales, given KZM is a western shooter and everything, but the Japanese seem to like it with Famitsu giving it a very perky review, rating it 9/8/9/8. That might help it grab some sales out there, but I doubt Sony has massive hopes. Of more interest will be the western reviews and I bet despite the widespread lavish previews, most mags and sites will knock it down a point or two for not being CoD, only being a 'portable' game or some other prejudicial  reason.

Anyone who has played it can clearly see this is the best you can get out of the Vita in technical terms. Perhaps it can be faulted for story, boxy or sparse MP or restricted access to weapons or something else that's not clear from the beta (I don't know, I await my boxed copy like everyone else). In that case, fair enough but any reviewer taking the easy-out of Vita=weakness train deserves to be booted offline and out of the industry.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wonder Flick from Level 5 heads from mobile to Vita

Level 5 had a big event in Japan today, and announced several new titles. Headed to the Vita and other consoles in 2014, is Wonder Flick, a card RPG game that is headed to smartphones first. Cute characters aside, this could have potential as long as it doesn't drag some scummy in-app purchases from the mobile versions.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vita set for another good week in Japan

Tsutaya's early version of the Japanese chart suggests some good news for Media Create's hardware sales numbers out later in the week. Both Conception II and Super Robot Wars are in the top 4, which should continue the platform's good run of hardware sales, and encourage more Vita development out east. 

While the most ardent loyalist will agree that the Vita is unlikely ever to be a phenomena like the 3DS, it is now getting games that stick in the charts (Toukiden is still in their top 20) and  decent rising HW sales month after month. Whatever it's indie niche status in the west, Vita is very much 'a thing' back home.

  1. Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Maso Kishin III: Pride of Justice - PS3
  2. Conception II - PS Vita
  3. Disney Magic Castle: My Happy Life – 3DS
  4. Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Maso Kishin III: Pride of Justice - PS Vita
  5. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team - 3DS

Killzone bundle to fly the Vita flag

Last year, we had CoD, ACL, Madden and other bundles that helped shift 'some' Vitas. This year it looks like KZM is the big white hope. By far the best 'console' Vita game by some distance, it proves what the handheld can do, as anyone who has played the beta can attest.

Game UK has a £169 bundle for pre-order, with a 3G model, memory card and game. Guess there will be a Tearaway bundle for the kids, as the 18 sticker for this and the Walking Dead bundle (if that comes to Europe) makes this a grown up toy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Final Horizon and Flame Over in indie development for the Vita

Two games with no pics or video are being promoted across the PSN blog now, suggesting that the company is trying to keep its Gamescom momentum going with smaller publishers. We have Final Horizon from the folk behind Total Recall. It offers RTS action with an alien robotic invasion to be fought off.

 Flame Over is a fast-paced, action-packed fire-fighting roguelike, featuring randomly generated levels and a complex fire simulation that radiates, jumps between objects, consumes fuel and destroys its environment in real time. The player’s objective is simple: guide a fire-fighter through the 16 floors of Infernal Industries’ skyscraping HQ, exploring your environment, seeking out loot, secrets and power ups and hunting down blazes against the clock.

Both could be great fun, although its hard to tell without even a teeny screenshot, but its good to see indie developers get a voice this early in a project's life. More info and art on the PSN blog.

Another new Final Fantasy X HD video shows off combat

Not sure if this is similar to the Japanese version from a while back, but take another peek at FFXHD in action with this clip from Gamescom. Still no word on a Vita release date, or if they'll do a nice bundle on the games. All questions it would have been good to get an answer on at the show.

Namco gets ready for Tokyo Games Show with big Vita showing

Sony might be losing western third party support, but in Japan increasing Vita sales are providing a platform for third parties to invest in decent games. So, we go from Gamescom to Tokyo Games Show in little more than a heart beat. Namco has lined up a great range of titles for the Vita (and PSP don't forget), here's the list, click the links for related news with God Eater 2 leading the way as a Monster Hunter replacement.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z (PS3, 360, PSV) – Playable, Video
God Eater 2 (PSV, PSP) – Playable, Video
Gundam Breaker (PSV) – Playable, Video
J-Stars Victory VS (PS3, PSV) – Playable, Video
Super Heroine Chronicle (PS3, PSV) – Video
Super Robot Wars OG Saga Masou Kishin III: Pride of Justice (PS3, PSV) – Video
Super Robot Wars Operation Extend (PSP) – Video

Tokyo Games Show runs from September 19 - 22 and will hopefully bring about some decent new Vita titles to make up for the west's lack of big party interest.

Switch Galaxy gets an ultra edition for PS4 and Vita

Switch Galaxy was a fun little PSM game that's getting a serious upgrade for a wider PS4 and Vita release. Throw in uprated and far shinier visuals, more gameplay elements and we have a bundle of high-speed fun that harks back to all the 8- and 16-bit route runner games that provided such a stiff arcade challenge.

In a similar vein, we'll also be getting a Gravity Crash ultra, which brings the fun of those classic Moon Lander and Oids-style games to the Vita, the original was a PSP mini.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Broken Sword, The Serpent's Curse gets a Gamescom trailer

Missed this among all the recent fuss, a look at some early animation of the upcoming Broken Sword game that Revolution is bringing to the Vita. Will definitely be good to get back to some good old-fashioned adventuring and puzzling.

Lemmings Touch should come with a furry Vita case

Lemmings is already available as a PSM title, but a touch version is on the way to make use of the Vita's touch screen. All we have for this is a rather poor pic out of Gamescom and some slowly updating PlayStation pages, these suggest there's a zoom function to focus on the relevant Lemmings, which would be handy, hopefully we'll get an English update soon.

New Little King's Story going free on PS+ in September

Konami's cute RPG New Little King's Story will join the ranks of "free" PS Vita games for PlayStation Plus subscribers in September, along with the biker heaven of Urban Trial Freestyle and the hit indie game Stealth Inc. Stealth is a bit of a surprise having just gone on-sale, but everyone should try it.

Further adventures in J Stars Victory vs trailers

Its getting hard to spot the difference between these Namco fighting trailers, but one thing is certain, this game looks the business on PS3 and Vita. We've got Luffy - check, Toriko - check and others scrapping it out with outlandish moves and cross-anime antics.

FIFA 14 on Vita is another scam and a con job!

Not surprised in the least, but the "new" version of FIFA 14 is, in my opinion, another EA scam. Or, as EA puts it (according to a flack talking to EuroGamer), "There will be a Vita version, and it'll be the same great gameplay, and new kits. I have nothing to do with the prices, " EA Sports' David Rutter spouted.

There is a "Legacy Edition" tag on the box, as if they're trying to justify this pathetic excuse for an update. So, please DO NOT  buy this repackaged two-year old game, tell your new Vita owning friends not to buy it and so on. Perhaps if it comes out at a budget price, then fair enough, but Amazon's place holder price is £39.99. You can now pick up FIFA 13 for £15 in places. Buy that instead and live with the slightly out of date kits and teams.

Quite how they can justify £40 for adding some new kits is a disgrace of the worst order and I hope the proper gaming press do their job and take EA to the cleaners. All the development was done and expensed years ago, it does not cost £40 to put a license on the box and tweak a few graphics, I'm sure EA will line up some further excuses, but do not fall for them.

I wonder if Konami are rethinking bring the new PES 2014 over to Vita to take advantage of the disgruntled gamers. Or, if you get a PS4, buy that version with all the new bells and whistles and use remote play! Unfortunately, given FIFA 13's persistence in the top five of the UK chart since its launch, I guess many uninformed gamers will fall for this, all over again.

Kat arrives in the realms of Ragnarok Ace, out now in Japan

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is now on-sale in Japan, and to get the DLC ball rolling, gamers can already pick up Kat to play in the game. Since her recent outing in Hot Shot's Golf (see the previous Pac-Man story), she's been a bit of a DLC tart, but growing her brand probably means a sequel to Gravity Rush is all the more likely.

More on the game's long list of crossover content here. That and its decent review score should see it selling well in the charts next week.

Pac-Man joins the world of Hot Shots Golf

There's DLC and then there's throwing Pac-Man into every game on the planet. He's been in Ridge Racer, Katamari, Street Fighter x Tekken and probably many others. Now he arrives in Hot Shots/Everybody's/Minna No Golf for the PS3 and Vita, as detailed in Dengeki.

The western version gets most of this stuff, including not too long ago, the arrival of Kat from Gravity Rush. So, hopefully he'll womble his way over here soon enough. We wouldn't be surprised if developer Clap Hanz are hard at work on a PS4 version of this series, having seemingly dropped the Tennis game that was fun on the PSP.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Prices of Vita memory cards and systems start to come down

Look around the web and you can finally find a 32MB memory card that doesn't cost the earth. Scouting around on Twitter and like turns up deals at Sainsbury's £43, Tesco £49 and so on. No budge from Amazon yet, still at £54, but I'll keep an eye out (actually if you check the other offers, Amazon has a £39.99 Prime price, but they could still be updating and it could be sold out).

UPDATE: Amazon now has 32GB cards in stock for £39.99, unsurprisingly this is now the No. 2 Vita seller behind Killzone!

For Vita console newcomers, Amazon has now dropped the price to £149 for the WiFi model, so between them you can get a max-spec Vita for £192. It can be found cheaper, someone mentioned £144 on Zavvi and there may be better deals.

A reminder, a typical SD 32GB Card is just £15-£18 before you think Sony is getting all magnanimous.

Vita weekly sales up 6,000 in Japan despite no new games

The Vita sold over 21,000 units last week in Japan according to Media Create charts and data. I'd like to offer a solid reason, apart from a Japanese holiday, but there are no new entries of any sort in the chart, with Dragon's Crown approaching 100,000 sales still in the top 20.

Ragnarok Ace should help things along when it launches next week, thanks to a good score in the latest Famitsu and its existing success on the Vita, plus the number of tie-ins in this version.

Killzone Mercenary Beta is live on the PSN store

Killzone Mercenary Beta is live on the PSN store, weighing in at 1.4GB - go get it now and start using the Vita the way it was meant to be played. Its only for PlayStation Plus subs this week, with everyone else getting on board next week, a clever use of the subscription service. There's some other stuff out too this week, but does it really matter?

Gran Turismo PSP leads update to PSP/Vita sale on the PSN store

Sony has updated the PSN summer sale with a host of games that you can now download to your Vita for next to nothing. GT leads the way and makes up for a complete lack of a new portable version, while I'll happily grab LocoRoco on the Vita (why hasn't this been updated for tilt?) Burning Skies for £10 might tempt a few too, with all items having an additional 10% off for PS Plus members, Pursuit Force is a cracker if you're looking for some fun!

Gran Turismo (PSP) Was €7.99/£6.49/$11.75, now €3.99/£3.24/$5.87
LittleBigPlanet Was €14.99/£11.99/$22.95, now €7.49/£5.99/$11.47
LocoRoco (not available in Bulgaria, Hungary, Qatar) Was €7.99/£6.49/$11.75, now €3.99/£3.24/$5.87
MotorStorm RC Complete Edition Was €8.99/£7.29 $13.25, now €4.49/ £3.64/$6.62
Pursuit Force (PSP) Was €7.99/£6.49/$11.75, now €3.99/£3.24/$5.87
Resistance: Burning Skies Was €24.95/£19.99/ $32.95, now €12.45/£9.99/$16.47
Little Deviants Was €14.99/£11.99/$22.95, now €7.49/£5.99/$11.47
Everybody’s Golf Was €14.99/£11.99/$22.95, now €7.49/£5.99/$11.47
Reality Fighters Was €14.99/£11.99/$22.95, now €7.49/£5.99/$11.47
Killzone: Liberation Was €7.99/£6.49/$11.75, now €3.99/£3.24/$5.87
MediEvil: Resurrection [PSP]  Was €7.99/£6.49/$11.75, now €3.99/£3.24/$5.87
Smart As… Was €14.99/£11.99/$22.95, now €7.49/£5.99/$11.75

Japan gets a Hatsune Miku AR air hockey game

A PS+ exclusive in Japan, Hatsune Miku continues to burst off the screen into our world, this time in an AR air hockey title where various versions of the songstress and her friends can play games (even holding a tiny Vita).

Looks pretty fun, with its own unique-looking AR card, but very unlikely to arrive on western AR cards, a couple of pics and some detail over on Famitsu.

Sony Japan PS4 press conference on 9 September

With Tokyo Games Show at the far end of September, Sony can't wait until then to announce the PS4 Asian release details to its home audience. So, a special event is being set up for early September to drop the tons of games and other details they'll want to hear.

Expect some new games to be announced specific to Japan, and hopefully they will take the time to tie-in the Vita to the deal, via cross-play and maybe announce some other goodies to goose Vita sales alongside the PS4. Either way, it will only be a couple of weeks before TGS which is when the main action will take place, so perhaps lets not expect much.

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace scores well in Japan

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure for PS3 got a perfect score in the new Famitsu, but the Vita wasn't too far behind with the updated Ragnarok game getting a decent score of 35, up a couple of points from the original's 33. That should help the Vita cement its position as a monster hunting gamer's happy home. The game is out next week in Japan, and I'm pretty sure Gung Ho said it was coming west. 

Hotchkiss (Snatch my Kiss) involves school girls and groping, I think we can leave that one there. 

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace (PSV) – 9/9/8/9
Seitokai No Ichizon Lv.2 Portable (PSP) – 8/8/7/6
Hotchkiss (PSV) – 7/7/6/5
Saki Achiga-Hen: Episode of side-A Portable (PSP) – 7/7/5/5

Broken Sword 5 ventures on the Vita soon

Sneaking in among all those indies there are still the odd full-spectrum games coming to the Vita, it'd help if Sony would mention them a little louder is all. Broken Sword is one of gaming's lingering adventure brands and Revolution Software has confirmed that The Serpent’s Curse will arrive on PlayStation Vita later this year.

The game got Kickstarted last year, and will be the first new game in the series in six years. I was playing one of the originals on iOS last year and they're still compelling adventures even now, lets hope the team have something special for this new release.

The new Sony and indie Vita game trailers from Gamescom

In case you missed it, like me (real life always gets in the way at the worst possible times), here's the new games that made it out at Sony's Gamescom presentation, including Rime, Murasaki Baby, Hell Divers and more. I won't put the Binding of Issac trailer up as it scares me. I'll put more up as I find them (Velocity 2X already up, here).

Velocity 2X expands its Quarp jump

The game that arguably got the Vita indie scene rolling is back with a sequel announced at Gamescom, the trailer features new levels, designs, and an intriguing peek of our fighter pilot on the run around one of the massive ships she's otherwise blowing to pieces. Due in 2014 on Vita and PS4, it should continue FuturLab's refinement of an already slick piece of gaming.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Get ready to enjoy Sony Vindie, cheaper but no big games

Many moons ago, Randy Pitchford kindly pitched Borderlands 2 for some other developer to do for the Vita. Sony (with Iron Galaxy) have taken up his invitation, which unfortunately sums up third parties' approach to the Vita, "not my problem, mate", while Sports Interactive will roll out the a new Classic version of its hugely popular PC/PSP staple Football Manager, which always sells well and is a great addition.

That was it for big-name games for the Vita from third-parties, all Sony could manage on its big Gamescom stage. Some first parties are working on unannounced stuff, but that leaves the Vita with no big games for this Christmas, beyond a questionable FIFA 14 update. All of which effectively condemns the Vita to niche games, indies and the odd Japanese conversion. And, of course, a second screen for the PS4.

Which is no bad thing, for existing owners. We get to lap up all those great indies that are coming our way like Fez and Minecraft. But the Vita wasn't selling at reduced prices beforehand and it won't now with the this "fake" price cut (both Vita and the 32GB memory card have already been reduced for months {on Amazon for example}, and didn't sell gangbusters then). So, a few thousand Borderlands and footie fans will hop on the Vita bus, but that's it for hardware sales unless Killzone helps sell a million units.

I love my collection of great indie games, and my decent line of of launch full titles and the odd gem that's come along since. But the Vita has been repurposed, moved on from being a full on, big-bang gaming, machine to something new and different, smaller and more intimate. If some big games appear next year great (Assassin's Creed maybe, Shahid's mystery game), but the Vita will be very old news by then.

New and different isn't bad, its getting a Tempest game after all, but it'll take some getting used to. Sony still has some first party titles to come, probably a Gran Turismo eventually, but get ready to spend your Vita life out of the gaming spotlight and in the more intimate surroundings of an indie-sideshow. Which is very far from what Sony launched it as. I don't mind, too much, I'm all for evolution and know the perils of changing markets.

So, enjoy this future Vita owners, its the only one we've got - at least the Vita isn't dead, and if any says so, just point them here. One thing, I hope indie developers don't fall into Sony's PR machine clutches and only release pics or videos when they're told to. No sign of that so far, but I'm watching for it.

Gung Ho shows off Ragnarok Ace's crossover content

Recent stories out of Japan showed the new Ragnarok Odyssey Ace getting friendly with a lot of other Sony, Tecmo and Sega franchises and now we can watch a little bit of that character cross-pollination love-in in action. The video is mostly developer chat, but there's a few glimpses of familiar characters along the way.

PSN Maintenance coming Thursday, trick or treat?

Hmm, coincidence, or a regularly scheduled break in our entertainment? Sony is putting up a service announcement (below) for some post-Gamescom PSN work. Will it be just tweaking, or is a new service, revision of other improvement on the way? Will it pave the way for another firmware update, although Sony's last 2.60 update was pretty decent.

There is PSN Maintenance scheduled for Thursday 22nd August from 20:00 until Friday 23rd August 2:30 BST For the duration of the maintenance you will be unable to log into the PlayStation Network, Account Management and the PS Store. PS Home may also be unavailable. Some users may be able to sign in however, the services listed above will still be unavailable during the maintenance window. There may be some additional downtime after the maintenance period for testing purposes.

Gamescom Predictions, taxi for the Vita?

With mere hours until Sony's PS4 pre-re-launch thingy, a Vita Hail-Mary pass and some other news, here's what I think we'll get from Gamescom, in the however many minutes of time Sony gives it among all the next-gen hoopla.

  • One "oh my God" third-party game announcement, on the basis that if something isn't announced now, the Vita won't get an inch of headlines (beyond the "doomed" variety). This will also help cover up for the lack of other developer support for the Vita. Hopefully it won't be a Bioshock-fiasco non-announce, but any game is likely to be some way down the release line. 
  • A price-cut, not massive, and Sony will focus on bundles and perhaps reduced game prices (Best of range) and a cut in memory card prices, or perhaps the announcement of licensed third-party cards. 
  • Lots of stuff we already know about. If Sony spends five minutes on the Vita and half that time is wasted on Killzone and Tearaway, then I might just cry. 
  • Perhaps the PS4/Vita bundle, but what about a PS3/Vita bundle for those not wanting to take up the cutting edge? Lets face it, there will be a dozen PS4 games or so, but a PS3/Vita combo offers hundreds of titles. 
  • Some Gaikai news, this has gone quiet since the buy-out but Sony will want something for those PS4 buyers to do once they've got bored of those launch games.
  • Coverage of indie games where some proper games used to be (sorry to be churlish about this, but while I'm having great fun with these games I signed up for a Vita to play Monster Hunter, Ace Combat, GTA and so on). 
  • Perhaps some more Japanese Vita titles heading west, but with little third-party interest, probably not much. 
Anything you can think of that might turn up, or that should be on the list? Realistically, what could this mega-game be and will any publishers turn up to support the Vita? Add a comment on how many minutes you think the Vita will get dedicated to it and kudos could be yours.

Vita seeing price-cuts across America as Gamescom looms

Call them sales, promotional offers or whatever, most US retailers now have the Vita below $200 (£125) with joining the likes of BestBuy and other box shifters. Not much sign of movement from UK retailers, but they are usually better at holding off on price drops until an announcement, should Sony decide to make one at Gamescom.

The only recent UK activity has been the bundling of the Summer Mega Pack bundle on Amazon and advertised recently at Argos. I suspect the EU won't get much of a price cut, but further bundling activity and perhaps a cut in the price of memory cards. The Vita is also now due its own "Best of" range, but games prices are already pretty low, expect for the Vita's must own titles.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Walking Dead lumbers to the Vita this week

The U.S. PSN is having a bumper week with loads of good stuff lined up for it. Add to that list the long awaited traumatic decision making process that is The Walking Dead. That'll go on-sale tomorrow on the States, no word on an EU release yet, but I'd imagine Sony wants some big games out to coincide with Gamescom.

If you've played it, you've seen it all, if not (or you only played the first episode), its a gripping and bruising ride through a zombie apocalypse with all kinds of small-town hell to go through. There's also the 400 Days DLC, and a full hardware bundle coming to US shelves.

Jeff Minter shares the latest on Tempest TxK

In a new blog post, Jeff Minter has some videos of the early going in his Vita Tempest remake with some classic and hints of new features plus some points for discussion. As a Jaguar fan I think we should keep the lady sounds, even if they are a bit more suggestive than the original. With the gaming nearing Alpha, it seems to be coming along at great speed.

There's also news of a handy feature for perfectionists, with the arrival of Restart Best mode.
And speaking of replaying levels to improve your score, we have implemented our usual “Restart Best” level unlocking method, which for each level records your best ever state at the end of a level (score, lives earned and bonus multiplier), allowing you to carry on from that level with those recorded stats at any time. People really liked this in our other games and it works really well with TxK.

Sony offers a Summer indie fun update

Sony U.S. has a new video showing off the latest indie treats coming for the Vita with the eagerly awaited Spelunky down for next week's PSN update. The rather dull looking Divekick (Riverdance meets Kung Fu Master?) leads off things, with the more impressive, but similar sounding, KickBeat following on in September with the old school Dragon Fantasy II leading us into Autumn's big games (remember them?).

Hopefully European dates will track those and we should get the PS+ discount too. Bring on the good times, and those big-name games!

Let's Fish swims to South American waters

I get quite a few visits from South America, so those readers (ola to you) will be pleased to hear that Let’s Fish! Hooked On from Wired has been localised and will be available to download in Argentina, Brazil and Chile on the 27th August via their local PSN services.

Prices are AR $23.99 / BR R$40.99 / CH $22.99. with anime characters to unlock and numerous classes of fish, earn new lures and 11 themed outdoor stages on your way to becoming World Champion fish-catching type person. Its a fun enough game, if not exactly striving for great heights or new territory, read me review here. One wonders if they get piranha and other local delicacies to catch?

Where to watch the Gamescom livestream

Sony has put up its countdown page to the live event tomorrow (6PM UK). So far there's already a pic of the usual shiny backscreen, and a big stage which suggests the usual line of droning executives and scarily enthused developers showing their latest wares. I'm sure there has to be a better way to present a show than this. Get Reginald D. Hunter to host it for a start!

With the focus likely to be on the PS4 and the "we've got poor third party support, so here's some indies" diversionary Vita tactic, I've dialled down my expectations and done my hyped/prepared-to-be-disappointed pre-game mental workout, and trotted out a guide to what Sony should be thinking.

The trouble with Sony is, while being good at a few things, and having some stellar staff, it really can't seem to join up the dots. Until it gets a true visionary on-board, it will continue this bumbling approach to its console/handheld symbiosis in terms of development and marketing, and the handheld will always be the worse off for it.

I'd love to be proved wrong (note, a PS4/Vita bundle will not make Sony "right"), but pretty much every hope has been slowly crushed at each event (and non-event, whatever did happen to that second Japanese PS Heaven gig?) since the Vita's launch. Still, there's usually the odd ray of light and if just one is bright enough the Vita might pick up some useful developer support.

Anyway, for all the as-live-as-I-can-type updates and post-match depression booze-up, I'll have a page up and running.

Starlight Inception's Kickstarter nears delivery

The Vita's first Kickstarted project is nearing completion. Backers (including me) have been receiving emails asking for their choice of format and other details, depending on their funding commitment. With the game available on Vita, PS3 and PC (via Steam), I'd hope you lot are sticking with the Vita version.

I'll check in with the developers once the game is out to find out what proportion of backers went for the handheld version, and if they'll be doing any more Vita projects in future. Hopefully the game will live up to the vision and bring the Vita some classy much-needed space combat action.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rumours of a bigger Vita sneak out of Japan

IIt didn't take long for Nintendo to shove an XL on the original 3DS. So should we be surprised that Sony might be sneaking out a larger-screen Vita?

Reports from a Japanese newspaper (Tokyo Keizai, which appears to be a university, making the story sound a bit fishy) suggest a PCH-2000 model will come restyled to match the PS4, sporting a 6.3″ OLED but at the same resolution and with 1 GB of system RAM. Surely they could squeeze full HD into that without upsetting the applecart?

The extra memory will let more programs multitask, but won't be accessible to games to preserve BW compatibility. The question is, besides what's the point, is will it include some internal storage or support for cheaper memory cards? That'd be nice, along with decent speakers which are appearing in phones and tablets now.

The Vita is already plenty big and users are asking for HD-out, not a larger model. The idea might appeal to Japan, but is part of their insane, must have every colour/size/shape culture. The west won't bat an eyelid, unless perhaps it offers full Android and acts as a phablet too.

A reveal, if true was slated for TGS, but if the leaks prove true, why wait for such an inconsequential announcement. Any name suggestions? PSV-Go, PSV-Stay, PSV-Wideboy?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Killzone Mercenary multiplayer beta coming 21 August for PS+ subs

Last month we were promised an open beta for KZM and earlier this week Guerilla were teasing an imminent announcement. Now its all official, with dates for PS+ and regular users attached and a new trailer to show off some of the fun of multiplayer FPS action done properly on the Vita.

For EU gamers, the open beta for Killzone: Mercenary will be made available to Vita PlayStation Plus subscribers from the 21st August. On the 28th August the beta will open up further to become available to all users, ending on the 3rd September 2013. With the game due out mid-September, I hope there's enough time to tweak the balance and nothing too grim is uncovered in the process. More on the PS blog, dates are -1 day for the U.S.

Hotline Miami 2 bringing heat to the Vita?

Miami Hotline has been near the top of the PSN charts since its release, so it wouldn't be a massive shock if Devolver brought the second episode, Wrong Number, to the Vita. In fact it might have dropped a big hint according to reports around the web suggesting it updated the target format information, before rapidly removing the info.

The good news is, yay, another cool indie game for the Vita. The bad news is, if all Sony has for us at Gamescom is a string of indie games plus a couple of big-name new titles, then that won't do Vita hardware sales many favors into 2014 as indie games don't sell hardware. In fact you can stick a fork in the Vita for major development if that's the case, and that's ignoring all Sony's other pressing Gamescom issues.

Also just read the game has a rape scene, that'll end well. Pretty sure Sony won't be mentioning that during the presentation.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Grip Games offers a guide to Atomic Ninjas

Coming to the PS3 and Vita, Atomic Ninjas pack a mean arsenal, and this survival guide to the game shows off some of the levels and techniques required to navigate them. Its certainly a long way from the company's previous work in Impossible Game and Foosball. The game should be out in a few weeks, offering plenty of multiplayer fun, and there's a handy interview with the developers over on Punkandlizard.

Pets to piddle all over your Vita

Sony is following in Nintendo's wet shoes and piling in a bunch of pets on to the portable. Feed em, tickle em, dress them up and other stuff. Spiral House are the team behind the game, which admittedly looks a lot better than the endless DS puppy titles.

It tries to one-up those versions with more gameplay, but, frankly, while the Vita needs more games and to appeal to a wider audience, this is one I think most of us will pass on. Unless the pup grows up to be included in a future Call of Duty title.

Dragon's Crown raids Europe on October 11

If you haven't imported a US copy of Vanillaware's hit action game yet, then there's only a couple of months to wait until the official EU version hits the stores, according to NIS American. That purdy exclusive Dragon’s Crown art book will also be available to those who preorder at select European retailers.

Dragon’s Crown features breathtaking visuals that bring the fantastic characters and monsters to life with fluid artistry. Players can engage in local or online co-op play for dozens of hours of intense dragon-slaying action.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dragon's Crown hangs in there in the Japanese Chart, Vita sales steady

The new Media Create charts are out, and Dragon's Crown sticks in the top 10 for the Vita at No. 9, shifting another 11,000 units. That brings it just a few shy of 100,000 physical sales and it was doing very healthily in digital sales too. The PS3 version is still in the top five, increasing sales by 50%. No new entries for the Vita this week, with Sega's Yakuza HD port failing to make a splash for the Wii U.

The Vita sold another 17,600 which is flat (not surprising given the lack of major releases since Dragon's Crown) but basically double what it was selling last year. Last week's details here, Mind Zero has vanished pretty quickly. The PSP is about six weeks of sales away (still doing 6,000 a week) from hitting the 20 million mark, hope Sony is ready to celebrate.

Killzone Mercenary open beta: news on Friday

Direct and to the point, (this is the kind of tease you can handle). Guerilla Game's very own Mathijs de Jonge has tweeted that we'll find out details of the open beta for the Vita's finest first-person shooter this coming Friday. Prepare to lock and load fellow mercs, soon we dine in Hell! In the meantime, enjoy this footage from the closed beta.

Note the pre-order price on Amazon is down from £30 to £28 (cheaper still than the pile of poo that is Black Ops Declassified), if that helps nudge you along to the most essential Vita purchase of the year.

PSN in the US gets some nice Vita discounts

Alongside the arrival of Fruit Ninja, Open Me and a complete version of the sublime Pure Chess, the U.S. PSN update really tickles with this list of reduced Japan-originated titles. I'd love to pick up Katamari and Silent Hill for a few pounds... may need that new memory card ahead of Gamescom, assuming we get any similar deals to add to our Summer in Europe reductions.

Soul Sacrifice (PS Vita) – PS Plus Price: $17.49
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus (PS Vita) – PS Plus Price: $19.59
Guilty Gear Accent XX Core Plus R (PS Vita) – PS Plus Price: $7.34
Atelier Totori Plus: The Adventurer of Arland (PS Vita) – PS Plus Price: $19.59
Silent Hill: Book of Memories (PS Vita) – PS Plus Price: $7.50
Ridge Racer PS Vita(PS Vita) – PS Plus Price: $6.25
Touch My Katamari (PS Vita) – PS Plus Price: $3.75

Terraria, coming along nicely on the Vita

Spotted by @HiddenAway1 on Twitter, are some Terraria work in progress shots from the developer's (Engine Software) Facebook page. With all those pixels looking super-shiny on the OLED screen, this looks like another classic slice of indie gaming on our way, and you can't go wrong with some old-school RPG with endless (almost Minecraft-like) abilities to farm the world around you.

Check out the wiki for the 14 realms (environments really) and masses of opportunities for exploration, crafting and character building that will be rolling to the Vita soon.

Dear developers/publishers, just release the sodding news or product, no teasing!

Short and sweet this one, but hopefully something that everyone has noticed.

Rule 000001: Under no circumstances should a publisher or developer tease a new project, piece of news, update release, screenshots, video, trailer, or anything else. Keep this stuff off Twitter, blogs, basically everywhere.

Why? Because the microcosm and macrocosm of online gaming news sites, forums and social media, will digest it, chew it round, add their own flavour and spit it out in 300 different ways that mean absolutely nothing you announce can live up to what that collective imagination can produce.

Example, starting with the almost harmless sounding, "we'll have some new screens next week" rapidly becomes "great, they must be for an unannounced platform, this publisher will save platform x." Just release the screens when you're ready and your fans will be grateful, and pleasantly surprised.

Example, "some big news tomorrow" becomes, well that could almost be anything. And, while you might think its a smart move to generate some hype, the vagueness of it all means you're more likely to have created 700 different versions of hope, 699 of which will be crushed by whatever it is you actually show. And the one bozo who guessed right will be the feted as the next Michael Pachter (which isn't something you want to encourage).

I could go on, but you get the drift. Really, just announce your news and move on. Playing at PR is a mugs game left to the professionals whose job is to manage those expectations, and wield embargoes like flick knives.

Yes, blogs and game news sites lose about a third of their "stories" (me included), but good, we can focus on proper news instead. However, if you are going to tease some news, be deeply specific about what it is (or isn't) not that that'll stop the imaginations of gamers going wild.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LittleBigPlanet celebrates Tearaway in new update and contest

Teased as big news, this is actually pretty cool. Tomorrow's update for LittleBigPlanet will include a bunch of Tearaway stickers and a soundtrack, and Media Molecule is running a competition for the best created levels with a Vita as the big prize. That should keep LBP'ers going for a while and gives us a chance to experience some of the Tearaway world, before Media Molecule's new title arrives.

Open Me to come with trial version, many pricing options

Quirky augmented puzzler Open Me arrives on the European PSN on Wednesday, with a trial version there to encourage everyone to have a go. Then rather then splash out on the full game we'll be able to buy packs individually or in bulk depending on how much you want to play the game. There's also some free extra packs when you buy any one of the sets, based around Gravity Rush, Toro and Tokyo Jungle.

More on the PSN blog, note there's a special AR card you  might want to print out ahead of time for the best experience. It all makes Peter Molyneux's cuboid effort look rather tame.

Mike Bithell pumps up the Volume

The creator of the fiendish Thomas was Alone looks like he's had the Tron boxset on loop for his new game that seems to blend Stealth-like creeping and VR-style designs. To be honest, the screens look more impressive than the trailer, beyond the first , which has a rather alpha feel to it.

With formats yet to be announced this looks like a PC game, perhaps with console and maybe a Vita version to follow, if Mike feels TWA sales justify it. With a level editor for social challenges, and more to be revealed at upcoming events, this looks pretty slick, whatever formats it lands on.

Big LittleBigPlanet announcement due today

From tiny minds come big ideas, but what could Sackboy's creators have for us? A post on their Twitter yesterday suggests something newsworthy is being announced. Could the Karting game be coming to the Vita? Could LBP3 for PlayStation 4 and Vita be teased ahead of Gamescom? Who knows but keep checking the skies, or better yet the PSN blog, for more information.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Help fund Burst!, an explosive rhythm Vita game

An odd mix of education, indie music and crowd funding puts this in an unusual niche, as you use elements from the periodic table to create the colours for a firework display, played out to music in a rhythm action style. It needs a fair way to go to hit its $10k funding needs and since I've never seen the Product Funder site before, this might not be that high on anyone's radar, so give it a retweet or share if you can.

With a Vita skin as one of the rewards, if you have some spare change, why not give this a go? Certainly different and something that could be worth supporting

Fruit Ninja to slice up the Vita this week

The fiendishly popular three-year old iOS finally comes to the Vita, something we realised a few weeks back when a bunch of in-app treats appeared on PSN. It will appear on the US PSN for certain this week, alongside Japanese open-'em-up Open Me, and hopefully in Europe too

Funnily enough for a game with tens of millions of players and much popularity, and being an iOS owner, I have little idea about what it does,  beside slicing fruit obviously.

Still, I was more than happy with Jetpack Joyride so will look forward to this, assuming the correct balance of play and in-app purchases is maintained. There's been a great deal of extra content for the original game over the years, so we also wait to see if the Vita gets any of that. Also remember that Halfbrick's next game Collossatron might get a slightly quicker port to the Vita.

Review: Stealth Inc.

Curve Studio's Stealth Inc., defines perfect portable playability, so its odd the game started out on the PC (as Stealth Bastard). Its also so slick and polished, that it seems rather crude to tag it with the "indie" label. But since that's the way the Vita rolls these days, there you go.

Puzzling your way through 80 levels (plus the was-free, now cheap, DLC The Teleport Chamber levels), you need quick reactions, muscle memory and a sixth-sense to work your way around the tricks-and-traps that litter each scrolling area, packed with buttons to activate, computers to hack and security systems to navigate, using shadow and silence as your weapons. From scanning lasers and patrolling dustbin robots to roaming (but blind) sentries, its your task to open the final door and escape undetected, or more likely seen, but-unscathed and slightly smouldering.

To encourage you to do better there are the fierce challenges of medals, global fastest-time boards, and awards for not being seen or dying on a run. That's where the muscle memory comes in as you practice and retry a level to shave a few tenths off your time, trigger slides or blocks with nano-second precision and avoid cocking-up a series of jumps. Its all invigorating stuff and there's a host of unlockable Stealth characters with special features to add some tactics to your progress.

If you just want to get to the end, or master every level with an S rating, you can pick-up-and-play Stealth Inc forever, most levels take a minute or two to complete, but you can spend 5 minutes or so figuring your way around a tricky one, and then trying to do it "properly". Then there's the hidden secret Snitches on each level that provide a final layer of challenge, finding these requires extra exploration or mastery of a particularly challenging sequence.

So easy to describe, so fun to play and yet a right bastard to master, that's the game in a nutshell, its only a £1 more expensive than the PC version, and you get Cross Buy with the PS3, but it doesn't look quite as perfect on the big-screen.

Price: £7.99 (PSN) Curve Studios
Score: 9/10
Progress: Set of Doors No. 6
More reviews

WRC 4 gets a first trailer from Milestone

Milestone is keeping motorsports rolling on the Vita with both MotoGP and WRC games, and the second Vita instalment in rallying is on the way. As is usual, the developer is showing off the big-console version in action first, but the Vita versions have been pretty fine looking in comparison.

So, here's a first peek at WRC 4 in action, bringing the Swedish forests zooming past the windshield, both previous games have pinged in and out the mid-reaches of the chart, lets hope this one can stick around the higher places longer.

Pachter kills the Vita, long live the Vita

I normally wouldn't bother responding to this, but since there's likely not much news ahead of Gamescom, rant on! In one of his blabber-fests, industry gob-shite Pachter has condemned the Vita to death. He knows the numbers, or has a better idea than most, so there is some basis to his assertion.

Hints about those numbers and market activity back up his claims, the Vita isn't selling, but you don't need to be an industry analyst to work that one out. However, for those who own a Vita, or will pick one up over the rest of the year, "death" isn't the problem it used to be. Over a decade after its scrapping, there are still coders writing games for Sega's Dreamcast, and that system lacks the developer tools like Unity that make the Vita far more attractive to develop for.

His suggestion of "death" is likely from the lack of interest from big-name developers, which is true and most gamers have grumbled about since launch. When the Vita failed to sell millions of units in its first month, that writing was always on the wall. So, Sony has dug in and got on with the job (while also working up for the PS4).

So, we have a lively stream of indies, and most developers seem pretty happy with the returns they are getting from the compact but thriving ecosystem. As that builds up a head of steam, it might not attract the big names, but mid-range developers who can quickly pivot a project for the Vita are more likely to take an interest. And, with the PS4 finally approaching launch, Sony should be able to divert some resources back to it (we had the same thing with PSP and PS3).

More games = more interest and if that continues to build up, then so will word of mouth and sales. Throw in the expected price-cut or bundle, and you have "a cheap, great, fun games machine" that people will be talking about. So, while we're pretty much guaranteed the Vita won't ever be the portable PS3 Sony wanted it to be, for gamers enjoying the growing line-up of truly portable games (Stealth Inc. is sooo beautiful in that respect) things are cooking nicely.

That's not counting the likes of Killzone and Tearaway, and, before that death certificate gets stamped, it only takes one left-field hit to become a social, cultural, geeky phenomenon, or one big-name game (as hinted at) to blast off, and all of a sudden the Vita will sell a few more million units, and that will interest the big developers.

Also, remember Pachter's job is to promote Pachter, being right or wrong is not actually a part of his "media" job. Since he's talking numbers those are moving goalposts, with deniability and excusability stamped over every comment out of his mouth.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Infinite Stratos visual novel headed to Vita and PS3

As expected, 5bp is bringing the chicks-with-exoskeletons manga to Sony's consoles with a new visual novel later this year. Given the lack of haste in bringing Stein's Gate over, don't expect this in your local store any time soon. Here's an episode that gives us who don't slavishly follow the ins and outs of manga and anime, an idea of what's going on.

The game will focus on the Ignition Hearts sequel, in a world where the mechs that keep the peace can only be controlled by women, making them senior in society. It joins the Rozen Maiden game which was announced separately, making it a busy week for the developer.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

EU vs. US PSN sales in July, Americans are weird

That time again when Sony shows what was top of its charts on PSN, the two continents couldn't be much different, with the Americans buying big-name games while Europe thrives in the indie pool of quirk and cunning. Any sign of a new release anywhere in that lot? Muramasa is about as hip as it gets, but Mortal Kombat? Really? Well done for everyone getting Hotline Miami and Stealth Inc!

US Top 10 Vita Games:

Mortal Kombat
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Hotline Miami
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Muramasa Rebirth
Persona 4 Golden
Farming Simulator
Total Recoil
Guacamelee! Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark

EU Vita games:

Hotline Miami (1)
Total Recoil (New)
Machinarium (New)
Guacamelee! (8)
Jetpack Joyride (4)
Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark (New)
Kung Fu Rabbit (New)
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (5)
The Jak and Daxter Trilogy (6)
Urban Trial Freestyle (10)

Sony starts to big-up Gamescom, but it needs to prove three big points

Sony has started to talk-the-talk for Gamescom, just two weeks away now with promises of new Vita games (and Sony's usually voluble indie team has stopped naming names in recent weeks) and spinning the wheels of the whole PS4 bandwagon. While Vita will likely not get much airtime, Sony needs to prove a few of points to demonstrate the Vita's vitality.

  • First, it needs to show some interest from western third-parties beyond the seasonal hits, and I'm afraid Worms doesn't count. There's supposed to be one big game due to be named, but even if that helps sell a few million Vita systems (and that's a big "if") then what comes next? 
  • We need to see commitment from the big Japanese brands to get their games over faster. Publishers' slowness in accepting the global nature of gaming seems embarrassing at best and self-harming at worst. 
  • Then Sony needs to show its own treadmill is cranking up. Now we have the awesome Killzone Mercenary engine running, it needs to be distributed far and wide among Sony's empire (or SDKs to third parties) for a range of cracking FPS and RPG  titles that scale up beyond what people believe is possible on a portable title. 

If, by the end of the show, we don't get indications of those necessities, then that effectively condemns a machine approaching its third Christmas (globally) to a niche indie hit factory, with a couple of triple-A and sprinkling of double-A games. Sure, that's still better than the Wii U, but the Vita has the potential to do so much more. But, those are the breaks!

UPDATE: Also, Sony is making news about an IPTV service for the PS4 and other devices. You have to hope they were watching Microsoft's original X1 unveil failing, with the endless guff about services. Gamescom is about gaming, don't be bringing your "media services" shiz to a games show!

Similarly, we'll also hear the release date for the PlayStation 4. If Sony, as expected, intricately ties the two devices together, any marketing from here on, had better be waving the Vita loud and proud, otherwise it will just be another hollow Sony marketing effort.

Final Fantasy X HD Limited Edition looks pretty special

We all know Final Fantasy is about looking pretty, but check out this logo for the PS3 Limited Edition (click on it for a better look) for all the details among the characters. Of course the Vita isn't getting this version, we're getting the "you're screwed buy-two-get-none-free option." But that's more a limitation of the Vita's storage and the limited sales potential. Still, hopefully, Square will bundle both games in a neat box, with some goodies to call our own.

KickBeat gets a release announcement trailer

Music and martial arts combine in the pretty eagerly awaited (by me anyway) new game from Zen Studios, which has put out a new trailer to celebrate the game's release date now set for September 3. With its big-name playlist and unique take on the rhythm action genre, this could be another essential remix for Vita and PS3 owners.

Atelier Rorona screens show off the quality of Gust's update

The first news out about Gust's Atelier Rorona for the Vita suggested that another quick port was coming, considering it was an original PS3 title only released in 2010. But it looks like the effort into this revisualization is a lot deeper than first thought. These (not very hi-res) screens from a feature in the new Dengeki show off the hand-drawn detail and a decent array of effects and improvements.

Go and compare them with the heavily cel-shaded visuals and primitive interface on the original game's site (one below). More, including the mag cover, on the Dengeki site.

Ragnarok Ace demo out in Japan, are demos all Japan plays now?

With the God Eater 2 demo and now this out in Japan, are demo versions all Sony's home market gamers are playing right now? Sure, its a shame we can't download these demos like we did in the PSP days (although isn't the God Eater 2 PSP demo out now? yes it is, grab it here).

Anyway here's a new trailer to celebrate the demo of Game Arts' update to Ragnarok with the much-expanded Ace edition. IT shows off the usual mighty, multiplayer battles and challenges that solo players must overcome, liking the look of this one!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Vita manages two games in Japanese top 10

In the latest Media Create charts, the Vita sees Dragon's Crown joined by Acquire's Mind 0 which managed a rather limp 15,000 sales but was still enough to see it hit No. 7. Dragon's Crown on Vita sold more than the PS3 version this week, but is still fading fast in physical sales, suggesting Vanillaware's love is being largely enjoyed by downloaders, which saw a roaring trade last week, as the game hit over 300K combined.

07./00. [PSV] Mind/Zero (Acquire) {2013.08.01} (¥6.279) - 15.575 / NEW
09./03. [PSV] Dragon's Crown (Atlus) {2013.07.25} (¥8.190) - 13.772 / 84.855 (-81%)

Mind 0 looked so boring, I'm amazed anyone brought it. The Vita itself managed another 17,000 sales keeping it a distant second behind the all-conquering 3DS. The PSP sold another 6,000 and got its own new entry in the form of Shiratsuyu no Kai.

Freebie Deathmatch Village crashes into the PSN update

Looks like the PSN update for Europe has kicked off earlier than usual with Floating Cloud God, a freemium version of BreakQuest and the free Deatmmatch Village on offer for Vita owners, plus the new portable content of the summer sale. Deathmatch Village is only 156Mb and offers rapidfire platform action across both the Vita and PS3. More when its finished downloading.

Now its finished downloading, you choose from one of three characters, run through a quick tutorial level showing you how to use the different weapons, melee attacks and grenades, before the ultimate aim of the game is revealed, pig collecting while deathmatching!

The graphics are clean and crisp with a down-home country feel to them, while the village section of the game has pig "conversion" units, stores, gunshops, vets (for your donkey) and so on. It's not the most logical of setups, but fun to learn and explore (the Premium building has a link to PSN which is where I guess DLC and credits can be acquired).

In the arena, you can challenge others to the deathmatch Hunts or the 3 vs 3 Races. Since I got there very early, not many folks about to play against.... no one if fact. Waiting, waiting.... anyone remember the fun of playing against bots when there weren't enough people online? Hint to Sony and Bloober there.

Hatsune Miku concert movies now appearing on iTunes

File under not coming to the west, but still cool. Hatsune Miku's concert movie from last year's tour is now available on iTunes Japanese store, if you have an account then dive in for 3,500yen. Or, for the rest of us, we can watch the content on YouTube in glorious 1080p, one song below, or just grab your import copy and run the AR mode.

Further adventures in Soul Sacrifice DLC

Hot on the heels of the recent 1.20 update, there's even more content arriving for everyone's favourite game of tormented souls. Eight more free quests and two new boss characters — “Cat Sith” and “Beelzebub” – are being added today. Be sure to download the free unlock key after the PlayStation Store update to play these quests.

To play the new quests, go to Mad Chronicle > Inside Avalon > Avalon Pacts > Forgotten Pact > Hour of Cypress. More on this PSN blog update. More content is on the way too, making this game an utter monster. 21st August: “The Cobbler Triplets and the Old Master”, 4th September: “The Iron Lady’s Tears of Red”, 18th September: “The Fall of the Gods”

Zen Studios' Castlestorm rated for the Vita

Zen Studios has done lots of good for the Vita with Pinball and the Star Wars tables, and lately Kickbeat. It looks like the run will continue as recent PC and Xbox release Castlestorm seems to be heading to the Vita, as figured out by a recent German ratings update. The physics-based tower defence games features awesome visuals and plenty of impressive towers to trash. Hopefully some official news soon.

Trophies in Lone Survivor, not your usual rewards

Since I was late the PS3 party, I was never really all that wowed by trophies on the Vita (expect the 100 hours of playing Montezuma Blitz, that bitch will be mine), I play the games for the game. Someone seemingly in a similar vein of mind is Jasper Byrne, developer of Lone Survivor to be published by Curve, an adventure that would seem a sticky issue for trophies.

His latest blog post highlights his thoughts, and some ability to evolve by Sony on the process of adding them to the Vita version of the game. It discusses his keeping the trophies low-key and just how deep the Platinum trophy will be hidden.

Vita and PSP games hit the PSN summer sale

A decent roster of games for Sony's handhelds hits the PSN sales today, with the likes of F1 2011, Disgaea 3, Valhalla Chronicles II, Alien Breed, MGS Peace Walker, Lumines and Guacamelee getting decent price cuts. More details here with further discounts for PS+ users.

Old though they are, my stand-outs would have to be Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and Final Fantasy Tactics for just £3.99 each, there's a lifetimes worth of gameplay in those two alone.

Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims in HD lands on PSN today

The latest indie essential for the Vita arrives today on the EU PSN, upgraded from the original mini title with better visuals and a twinstick control system, Dakko Dakko's Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims in HD! ticks all the boxes for a quirky shooter for just £2.99.

A delay on the next Vita Assassin's Creed game, fine with me

Ubisoft Sofia who worked on the generally impressive Liberation are hard at work on AC4; Black Flag, so the company has confirmed we won't be seeing Phoenix Rising (or whatever it will be called) later this year. That's fine with me, I'd rather have a late good game, than a rushed and flawed project. Since it was never officially announced, there isn't technically a delay, but at least we know one is definitely coming.

With the engine already crafted, the developers will still have had time to refine it and fix the quirks, while the characters and story will have their own gestation period. Throw in another six months to tidy all that up and we should have another cracking adventure to go on, time to update the release list again. To be honest, I haven't finished the first one, so will be glad of the time to go back and finish the job off.

5bp's teaser site hints at Armageddon, or cyberpunk adventures?

5bp, the team behind Stein's Gate, Corpse Party and Blood Drive have done the PSP and Vita some decent service over the years, so could their new game be a great portable title? A new countdown site, referring only to Shield Energy has some two-and-a-bit-days to run.

The apparent misspelling of the word datalink around the arc suggests a cyber theme, while shield and those little nuclear explosion dots familiar to NORAD watchers gives a bit of an apocalyptic vibe, otherwise your guess is as good as mine.

UPDATE: commenters suggest the game is linked to the Infinite Stratos, a chicks with exoskeletons anime and manga.

The music of Persona gets a live show in Japan

Video games music going to the stadium isn't a new thing, but Persona going on tour away from the comfort of your headphones or TV speakers is pretty neat, with a sold-out Budokan gig set for next week. For those who've mastered the art of Nico Nico, there's a paid-for stream you can follow and for the rest of us, just plug in and listen to those easy jazz beat tunes, or you can find playlists for most of the games on YouTube.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Conception II and the latest Super Robot Taisen score well in Famitsu

Out in a couple of week's Conception II should provide an interesting Vita/3DS sales comparison as the well-rated game releases (on the 22nd) on both formats. Spike's sequel to the PSP title, which is coming to the west (and which sold 30,000 on launch) sees you finding the best girls from a superior school to develop star children with which to tackle the beasts in the dungeons.

The latest Super Robot Wars game from Banpresto should also make a decent dent in the chart, one of hjte PSP games hit over 400,000 sales, but not sure when its release date is.


Conception II (3DS/PSV) – 9/9/8/8
Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Masou Kishin III – Pride of Justice (PS3/PSV) – 8/8/8/7
Dungeons & Dragons Mystara Eiyuu Senki (PS3) – 8/7/7/7

Jeff Minter showing off Tempest TxK in action

The tease that is Jeff Minter has put together a few short clips of the alpha version of Tempest running on the Vita. They're short and slow-to-load, but already look slick and gorgeous. And, we all know the end result will be a true thing of beauty. Find the clips here and here.

Take a Fantastic Voyage through DieDieDie

Can't argue with Polish developer iFun4all's (wonder if they're a spin-off of Bloober?) claim that it is releasing the first Medical Defense Game for PlayStation Vita this week. Likely reminiscent of Inner Space, or Fantastic Voyage you need to travel through the body, defending it from the viral hordes.

There's very little information on the official site, but the game includes 3 campaigns, 84 levels, surival mode and up to 4 players in the offline hot seat mode. UPDATE: Some screens below.

New Vita bundle showing some legs on Amazon, ahead of the 3DS

I thought I was looking at this wrong, but the new 10-game PS Vita bundle is actually above the 3DS on Amazon's most popular hardware chart. Sure, it sits behind pre-orders for the PS4 and Xbox One, and their current-gen versions, and even the Wii U Premium bundle.

But tucked in behind them, and ahead of the 3DS and a range of other bundles sits the PS Vita Mega Pack, so maybe it is selling more than 23 units a week. Sure, the chart updates hourly, and the difference could be single digits, but there you go, some proof the Vita is ahead of the 3DS (at one point in time, by a smidge).

PS Vita firmware 2.60 update stacks up the features

Overnight, Sony dropped a neat firmware update, answering some of users' most requested issues, just get your Vita updating to version 2.60 enjoy:
  • Anti-aliased bubbles
  • Improved cloud game saves features
  • Play content from other devices (needs PC/Mac Content Manager updating)
  • More easily turn on and off the system radios

Note, Twitter and Facebook and Skype have had recent updates too. Twitter's update fixes conversations and stability.