Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bloodstained finally gets Vita stretch goal

It always seemed logical, given the money thrown at the project, but Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night finally has a Vita stretch goal. 'Just' another $500,000 will get us a port by Armature, the Vita Batman guys, along with a Wii U version! Part of me is thinking, well, if you weren't going to support the Vita out of the starting gate, why tempt us now? But, frankly we need all the games we can get, so bring it on.

Koni Igarashi's Metroidvania title has 12 days to go, so reaching the stretch goal shouldn't pose a problem. Now if Yooka Lailee will get on board that should make quite a happy Vita line up for 2016. Plenty more Kickstarters to support here.

Friday, May 29, 2015

No Vita version of FIFA 16 says EA

EA has confirmed to Pocket Gamer that there won't be a legacy version of FIFA 16 this season on the Vita or 3DS. Fair enough, since they haven't bothered properly updating the game since the original Vita FIFA Football title, but it looks like we won't get to kick it with the ladies of the Xbox One and PS4 edition.

But, what - it must have taken all of a day's work to update team database? And since the game is a permanent fixture in the physical and digital top five, it must shift a few copies over the course of the year,

Also a shame, as it would have been good to guide the exciting Championship promotees of Bournemouth and Watford past the hapless Chelsea defenders on the bus!

Acquire's Metropolis Defenders spins into action

Acquire's Metropolis Defenders is coming along well in development, the game hits Japan in July. The spinning-around Tower Defence title has that typical Japanese focus on characters, but the core gameplay looks intriguing and I can't see much in the way of a rapid translation for us western gamers.

Planet Centauri 2D RPG has sane Vita stretch goal

Asking a mere €27,000 for a Vita version makes this endearing-looking Kickstarter like quiet a good prospect. Planet Centauri 2D is a sandbox RPG from French developer Permadeath, with the hero striding around on a dinosaur, and capable of molding the landscape around him.

There's a huge list of features from the PC version which is pretty much done, so its a straight port to the Vita and other platforms. Not sure how many of these features will appear in a Vita version, but its still an impressive achievement for a small indie:

Unique Monsters, weapons, and armor!
Craft your own magic spells and create your own dynamic gameplay!
Catch them all! Capture and tame monsters
Character Creation : Over 100,000 physical combinations and over 500 unique clothes.
Story Mode, Quests and Multiplayer
Achievements have a real impact on the environment
Dynamic Weather conditions. From serene snowflakes to raging hurricanes
Agriculture and Cooking, Fishing
Create your weapons and armors
Build a village and assign roles and jobs to its inhabitants
Use a wide array of electric components and logic gates to design advanced systems!
Set the behavior of NPCs and Robots
God Saucer- Lots of minigames!
Mods, Mods everywhere - use many editors to create your own dungeons, biomes, monsters.

Check out more Kickstarter projects here.

Ghostly rhythm action game Deemo hitting Japan

Deemo first appeared last year at TGS but is now out in Japan, with its haunting story of a girl, a ghost and a piano. One of the few Japanese indies nearing release, with Airship Q on the way, this should be an easy conversion for the west and sonically a bit different to all the squeaky vocaloid games.

Civilization Revolution 2 Plus given a PEGI rating for Vita

Civilization Revolution 2 Plus has been rumoured for a while, with various sources and leaks, but it looks like it is actually happening, now it has an official PEGI rating. It does have today as a release date, but that's probably just random form filling. Not sure what the "Plus" stands for as there doesn't appear to be any in-app content, perhaps its the latest version with new missions?

The game came out last year on iOS for £7.99 ($9.99), and while the official site doesn't mention the Vita, I guess this confirms everything. It would be great to get a Firaxis title on the Vita, and those earlier leaks also mentioned an X-Com game coming, which would be even better. If they all run off the same engine, other Firaxis titles could follow, so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Disco Fever comes with the western version of P4 Dancing All Night

The western version of Persona 4 Dancing All Night is due to hit the west just a few months after June's Japanese release, and the west will also get in on some of the fun limited editions with a Disco Fever version and a Launch Edition.

The Fever version comes with loads of DLC costumes, Vita skin, bonus song, 2 CD soundtrack, pouch and the game. The Launch edition has the skin, no sign of the Japanese limited edition lime green model.

Second generation Nvidia Shield portable on the way?

A German site has picked on a benchmark of a likely second attempt by Nvidia to win over portable gamers. With Sony more or less giving up, is this the way we'll go? Packing a whopping 7.8" (possible typo there, unless its a curved screen - which would be cool? Or its a tablet and the portable tag is wrong) full HD screen, huge amounts of memory in 3GB, the latest Android OS and a 2GHz quad, or even octa-core Tegra X1 CPU, it could be quite the gaming monster.

Quite a shame it'll be stuck to playing mostly generic Android games. Here's a pic of the original so stick a couple of inches on that screen for an idea, if that information is correct.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 confirmed for August new fishy trailer

We already had a 25th August date for the US, so a new 28th August date for EU, ME and Aus makes sense. But we do get a new trailer to go along with it, showing the action on Fishman Island. Since Sony is all but ditching the Vita, we've gotta love Bandai for keeping the big name games coming!

HMV Japan Dancing All Night buyers get exclusive costume

With launch just weeks away, soon we'll be free of all this damn costume videos. But, for now, here's the latest clip from Atlus, showing off the HMV exclusive kit for Loppi and Nanako Dojima. Hopefully the western release of Persona 4: Dancing All Night will come with all this stuff in the box, rather than passing it out among the few retailers still selling Vita games.

Wonder if its worth starting a campaign to get everyone to buy it day one at retail in all countries, just to see how far up the charts we can get a Vita title.

Loot rustles up Whispering Willows to the Vita

Loot is getting out the blocks as a porting studio and publisher. It didn't get off to a great start on the Vita with Q*bert Rebooted (calling your game Rebooted shows a major lack of imagination). Hopefully it will have more success with Whispering Willows, the best looking of three new Vita games the company will be showing at E3.

It sees you play as Elena, a lady on the hunt for her missing father, in a haunted house. Developed by Night Light Interactive, with hand crafted graphics and bags of atmosphere, it certainly looks the part. Also coming out for summer are mind-bending puzzler, Back to Bed and Velocibox, a 3D endless runner. 

Extreme Dimension Tag Blanc + Neptune VS Zombie Army trailer

Borrowing from Hyperdimension and who knows what else, the recently announced 'Extreme Dimension Tag Blanc + Neptune VS Zombie Army' is on its way to Japan thanks to Compile Heart. This trailer doesn't really give much away in the gameplay stakes, except more battling in the vein of Neptunia U Action Unleashed, this time with a multiplayer element and a horde of zombies.

With Hyperdimension rapidly becoming the single biggest franchise on the Vita, I hope you like those squeaky voices and big eyes!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Assault Android Cactus gets a new trailer

The Vita version is slated for later this year, but I'll happily wait for 2016, if it can come out on handheld looking as polished and smooth as the PC version. The top-down 3D twin-stick shooter from Witch Beam looks simply stunning and with great pacing. Add in a bunch of great characters, cleverly designed levels on that monster space craft, and we're definitely looking at a hit.

Night City Assault kicking it on Kickstarter

Fans of Streets of Rage, Double Dragon, Renegade and other eighties brawlers will be on familiar territory with Xtra Mile's brawler with a metroidvania twist. The game has just popped up on Kickstarter and needs $115,000 Aussie to hit the Vita stretch goal.

Check out the full list of Vita Kickstarter campaigns for this and many more that represent much of the Vita's future line-up, if funded.

Shhh, don't wake the sleeping Japanese gamers (latest chart)

Japan's early summer slump with the Vita and Vita TV selling a few hundred more than last week, just behind the PS4 but ahead of the New 3DS LL according to Media Create. Overall, its oh so quiet. with a couple of niche Vita games entering the chart. Ironically Minecraft on Vita is now back up to No. 2, continuing its strong sales run.

01./00. [PS4] The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Spike Chunsoft)  67.385 / NEW
02./03. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition (Sony)  11.898 / 167.176
04./00. [PSV] Lovely x Cation 1 & 2 # (5pb.)  - 6.835 / NEW

08./00. [PSV] Abunai: Koi no Sousa Shitsu - Eternal Happiness # (Asgard)  - 4.266 / NEW

Sony writes off the Vita, in black and white

Sony's plans for 2015 and beyond do not include the PlayStation Vita, that's made clear in the company's new strategy document. Also, Sony CEO Andrew House described it to investors as a "legacy device" which is polite talk for "dead as some doo-doo."

UPDATE: Sony has tried to backtrack on Andy's comment, saying basically, "legacy" only meant the first-gen Vita write offs, and it will continue to support the new Vita 2000 and PS TV. But with no Vita news in their presentation, and no new games under development, that will trigger the bullshit alarm in all of us. Also, Andy House is a shrewd dude who knows what's he talking about, so I'd believe his comment over generic anonymous PR hack!

While the main focus is on PlayStation 4, and rightly so, instead of keeping the Vita running, Sony is risking its PS4-driven recovery with huge bets on services like:
  • Playstation Vue (since most people already have a Netflix, Amazon Prime or a cable on-demand service, why would they want a late-to-the-market effort?)
  • Project Morpheus (no one has made money on VR yet and there's a good chance that Sony will be a high profile casualty if this comes out as over-priced and catalogue limited)
  • PlayStation Now (only viable when it has a massive subscriber base due to the massive infrastructure costs, and with Sony treating it like a drip-feed service rather than an a la carta menu, that won't happen). 
The only mention of the Vita in Sony's bumper fun investment booklet is in the recent write-off of assets. So, while Sony may keep it running in a holding pattern for Japan, expect no investment whatsoever in the west. That's already happening with indies focusing on PS4 only, Cross Play rapidly becoming redundant and all effort from a few third parties. 

Of course, Sony could be holding back anything it wants to announce at E3 from this report, but the chances of anything major Vita-related coming out of that are next to nothing. Instead, as most of us know, the future is niche, but the Vita's life is far from over, just because its creator doesn't love it anymore. 

Visual novel Norn9 coming west from Idea Factory

While the world and dog waits for next week's Steins;Gate release, it looks like other publishers are smelling money in the visual novel market. Idea Factory is bringing us Norn9: Var Commons, something I'd never heard of before, so it must be pretty niche? Or maybe Otome fans have been crying out for this?

There's a PSN blog post up with some details, with a fantasy world of mixed-era technology and three girls in need of answers trapped on a boat full of mysterious passengers. While I like the idea of some top-end visual novels coming west, I hope the Vita doesn't become a shovel magnet for them. Is this high-end story telling?

The game will be retail and digital in the States, digital only in Europe.

New Looney Tunes Galactic Sports trailer

From the lofty reaches of the PlayStation New Zealand YouTube channel comes a new trailer for those crazed Warner Brothers characters, with six events its definitely one for the kids, with archery, space racing, water tubing and more. It certainly looks bright enough, and will probably be a pack-in title for any Vita summer campaign Sony might offer bored kids on their holidays.

Note, the game is now onsale in the UK for £19.99 on PSN, nice marketing plan there Sony! You can pick up a physical edition from Amazon at £30, but stock is limited, as in there probably wasn't much to start with.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What would a theoretical PS Vita 2 need to sell?

Purely hypothetical, since I'm pretty sure its never going to happen, except for a more realistic PlayStation 4 Portable remote play device. However, if Sony were planning a second-generation Vita, what hardware would it sport, and what features would it need to support?

Let's start off with social sharing, and pause for reflection on why Sony didn't do it with the original Vita? Imagine three years ago, if your gaming friends' Twitter feeds were suddenly flooded with spectacular looking game pics from a portable device. That could have made quite a difference to the Vita's fortunes. So, if there is a second model, then a Share button, so successful on the PS4, should be front and center to instantly send in-game pics (and possibly video, depending on the hardware) to your Facebook and Twitter followers as a gimme.

Avengers Unite

Many developers are moving to Unity 5, and the Vita can't cut it with its years old hardware, despite being listed as a supported platform. So, any new hardware spec will have to provide support for the majority of Unity 5's features. The Vita's ARM Cortex A9 can be replaced by the A15 or the new A57 for greater power and efficiency performance. Add a little "+" magic from Sony and we get top notch gaming again, and even smaller developers adopting Unity should be keen to port!

While I'm not expecting the Vita to play all those supercool real time demos that the latest engines like to show off, by turning down the shaders, physics and some of the glossier effects, any new Vita generation should be able to cope. Naturally, that means a full HD screen to keep up with the smartphones of this world and going back to OLED as a premium device.

Do the Android

Make way for Android support. The Vita might be largely uncracked thanks to its security systems, but the lack of apps and software means that any future Vita needs a major boost. Enter Android with a metric whoop-ass of apps and games. Sony could partition the system or make it pure Android, but either way, the feeble social media app support and lack of content apps were criminal Vita omissions, as if anyone was going to subscribe to Sony Music and Video services!

Fix the WiFi

One of the most appalling features of the Vita was its slow download performance, and the horribly experience some people have had with remote play. Any next Vita will need a kick-ass smart WiFi chipset for constant streaming performance.

Sort the Storage

Some gimpy accountant at Sony rubs his hands in glee, whenever they sell a Vita memory card. His hands fell off through frostbite years ago! The idea never worked and while it may have prevented piracy, it helped kill the system. Whatever comes next, from a tiny SSD drive to plain old SD cards, Sony must learn that lesson. While we're axing things, the Vita is a games machine, it doesn't need cameras or touchpads, use the space for some killer portable speakers, PS4 compatible thumbsticks and triggers, and do things properly.

What else would you add to your ideal next-next-gen portable? Remember, its only a dream!

Holy crap, some movement in the UK Vita chart

Having recently said I wouldn't bother with the retail chart anymore as it bears no relevance to the typical Vita owner, compared to the PSN download Top Sellers, there's a stirring among the upper reaches of the chart.

Check out my review of Neptunia U and there are plenty of YouTube clips of Disney Infinity 2.0 in action. Will the Disney title stick around the upper reaches of the charts long enough for Disney to continue to support it? Guess we'll find out. Despite its arrival on the Vita, DI2 fell six places in the all formats chart, so I'm guessing sales were in the 100s, not 1,000s.

2 = FIFA 15 EA SPORTS 2 35

Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (C)2015 UKIE Ltd

Monday, May 25, 2015

Net High teaser from Japan's Marvelous

Meet a couple of the heroes who will feature in Marvelous' new PS Vita game, Net High. The game's official site is live, and puts them in a future where those with vibrant 'Tweeter' accounts get extra money, the best jobs and other perks.

Naturally, those without good social reputations are ignored. But they are fighting back by hunting down the lies spouted by the big wigs who are embellishing their online personas. By engaging in a flame war, you can bring them down while boosting your own ranking.

Not much idea how this will play out, but its a cool idea and as a Vita exclusive, sounds like it could be a clever riff on the Danganronpa formula.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dancing All Night cast enjoy a little cross-dressing

And why not? The Persona 4 crew are swapping costumes in this latest trailer (just release the game already dammit!). Dancing All Night is still a few weeks from launch, and recent trailers have checked out the minor characters making an appearance and the girls in their swimwear.

What next? It won't be beyond Atlus to tie in some crossover content from mech or sci fi games, just to help churn out a little more DLC. Will there be an international pack for the global DLC with some dodgy foreign use of international dress?

Updated EU Vita PSN Top Sellers, Helldivers wins!

The top sellers this week on the European Vita store show Helldivers popping back into the No. 1 spot with their bundle offer, deposing Shovel Knight. The 'chart' is also back up to 10 games strong, not sure what happened last week. Need for Speed and Another World are on sale, well worth picking up.

1. HellDivers Heat Bundle (Sony)
2. Shovel Knight (Yacht Club)
3. Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment (Bandai Namco)
4. Need for Speed Most Wanted (EA)
5. Minecraft (Mojang)
6. Another World (Digital Lounge)
7. FIFA 15 (EA)
8. Broken Age (Double Fine)
9. Hotline Miami 2 (Devolver)
7. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD (Square)

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth3: V Generation western trailer

Arriving late June, It’s time to Nep-Nep like it’s 1989. Neptune’s been sucked into an alternate dimension of Gamindustri! In order for her to escape from this late ‘80s world, Neptune will have to collect enough shares to open up the path to her own dimension. Sounds easy enough – except a nefarious alliance called the Seven Sages wants to rid Gamindustri of all CPUs, including Neptune!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Latest Airship Q gameplay clip

I've been wading through the indie release list, checking what's still coming, what's quietly died on the vine, and what's made some progress. First of these, and most notable for being the largest profiles Japanese indie is Airship Q from Miracle. Check out the latest gameplay clip from a couple of days ago.

The feline themed sandbox game mixes crafting adventuring and battling airships in the sky. It still only has a "2015" release date, but should be nearing completion.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Samurai Warriors 4 II battling to the Vita this October

Koei has announced Samurai Warriors 4-II will hit the Vita in October. A hero-focused saga, it tells the stories of the series' noble warriors through 13 new chapters. These chapters revolve around nine characters introduced in Samurai Warriors 4, three fan-favourites from previous titles and a brand new addition (Naomasa Ii - pictured) to the samurai roster.

The game will feature many new and improved features as the battle, action and character development systems have been revamped. It also introduces a highly challenging and richly rewarding mode called: the Endless Castle. Players can choose to enter and struggle to survive for as long as possible, or to play against the clock and see how far they can get up the castle’s increasingly difficult levels!

Sales fall flat in post-holiday Media Create chart

Back to the slump after Golden Week as sales of everything plummet with the PS4, new 3DS and Vita (plus Vita TV) only just peeking over 11,000 sales each. Worse for the PS4, the latest remaster of FFX-HD only sold 15,900 copies - dismal compared to the boost it gave the Vita in games and hardware sales.

Minecraft soldiers on at No. 3 on the Media Create chart, shifting another 11,000 copies, but with no new entries, its as dead as some doo-doos. There's just a bunch of visual novels out this week, while Cross Anjou might spark some life next week, having picked up a decent Famitsu score Nobunga's Ambition also hits, that's just been confirmed for western release on PS4 and PS3, but I'm not sure the delayed portable edition will follow.

Steins;Gate gets a character trailer

Meet the people who inhabit the crazy world of Steins;Gate. The highly-lauded visual novel tale of time travel hits the Vita in early June in Europe. It features an unlikely bunch of nerdy heroes and rogues. The 5b and nitroplus game, published by PQube, has pre-orders for limited editions at Game (with an art book) and Rice Digital (with a metal robo-gonk), with the basic edition on Amazon UK.

The cast includes:

 Okabe Rintaro Eccentric, self proclaimed mad scientist and founder of the ‘Future Gadget Lab’ – a small group of friends who have an ambition of overthrowing the rule of the world.

Mayuri Shiina Okabe’s long-time friend, Mayuri enjoys creating cosplays and works part time at a maid café. She is always cheerful and positive – greeting everyone with a friendly ‘tuturu!’

Itaru Hashida An experienced computer programmer, super-hacker and Otaku, his affection for Faris can often lead him say crude and inappropriate things out loud.

Makise Kurisu An extremely talented neuroscience researcher at an American University, Kurisu is drawn into Okabe’s world because of her scepticism of his experiments.

Faris Nyannyan The most popular waitress at the Maid Café ‘Mayqueen Nyannyan’ and a mean RaiNET player, she is very much the object of Itaru’s affection.

Moeka Kiryu A mysterious and shy young woman, Moeka rarely speaks – instead preferring to communicate through text messages, even if her friends are in the same room.

Suzuha Amane Athletic part-time assistant at the workshop belonging to Okabe’s Landlord, Suzuha has a keen interest in Okabe’s work. She enjoys riding her bicycle.

Luka Urishibara Shy and feminine, Luka is often mistaken for a girl. As a result he is incredibly self conscious and unsure of his true feelings.

Sony's on-the-move EU sale slashes Vita and PSP prices

You can get huge savings on a host of PSP and Vita games this week on the EU PSN store, with typically 50%-70% off the likes of Call of Duty, Breath of Fire, Daxter, Persona 2/3, Gran Turismo, LocoRoco and Patapon. The full list is:

Asphalt : Urban GT 2 [PSP], Asphalt Injection, Best of Arcade Games Deluxe, Best of Board Games Deluxe, Breath of Fire 3 [PSP], Broken Sword 5 – the Serpent’s Curse: Episode 1, Broken Sword 5 – the Serpent’s Curse: Episode 1 and 2, Broken Sword 5 – the Serpent’s Curse: Episode 2 , Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified, Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded [PSP], Capcom Puzzle World [PSP], Darkstalkers Chronicle [PSP], Daxter [PSP], Gran Turismo [PSP], Gravity Rush, Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey [PSP], Innocent Life [PSP], Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier [PSP], La-Mulana EX, LocoRoco [PSP], LocoRoco 2 [PSP], Mega Man Maverick Hunter X [PSP], MotorStorm Arctic Edge [PSP], MUD – FIM Motocross World Championship, MXGP – Compact to full game upgrade, MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame, MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame (Compact), Patapon [PSP], Patapon 3 [PSP], Persona 2/Persona 3 Portable bundle, Persona 3 Portable, Pure Chess, Reality Fighters, Riviera [PSP], Rugby 15, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona Full Game [PSP], Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Super Stardust Portable [PSP], Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow, Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror [PSP], Tomb Raider: Anniversary [PSP], Tomb Raider: Legend [PSP], Trails in the Sky, WipEout Pulse [PSP], Worms: Battle Islands and WRC 4 FIA World Rally Championship

Vitamin Z to fuel the Vita

Namazu Studios is getting ready to unleash vegetable death on the Vita in the form of Vitamin Z. An endless shooter, you need to zap mutated fruit and veg to keep them at bay. It looks pretty simple, but actually uses the Vita's touch and tilt features to aim the gun that's bolted to the floor in the middle of the screen.

Set across many levels, you descend into this science lab gone bad, with a kick option if they get too close and lots of sub-missions to carry out. There's power-ups and extra weapons to pick up, the game first came out on iOS, so will probably have in-app purchases, but looks like a fun addition to the Vita.

Review: Race the Sun

The Vita has a stack of demanding twitch games for us to enjoy, but Race the Sun from Flippfly at least adds a new perspective to the endless runners and xVania games out there. Built in Unity and cast with a chrome sheen, your solar-powered glider simply has to keep up with the setting sun, nothing else matters.

You can do that either by plotting a true-as-possible course through the mazes, mountains, traffic and other obstacles across the three worlds (and the bonus Void). Or, you can weave in between them to collect tokens and power-ups, always risking a sideswipe with an object that will slow you down, or a full-frontal impact that will leave you as putty on the landscape.

To add some variety, the map changes every 24 hours, so you have just enough time to master a set of levels, before it all shuffles around. You can complete the many sub-missions the game has to offer, "crash x times," "collect x things," or "travel so far" and you can get extra slots for power-ups, decals for your ship or other goodies. But, with the purity of gameplay, with a semi-Arabic-sounding trance soundtrack, and that early arcade feel to the scenes, you really only focus on the road ahead while calculating the risk of deviating from your flightplan to grab a power up.

Race the Sun isn't quite perfect, with very slow world loading times, the ability to roll the ship seems a bit random, sometimes the sound cuts out or isn't patched together quite right, and the menus and loading screens are horribly basic.

The biggest issue is a not-quite-total confidence in the controls, meaning what you thought should be a twitch left and right to dodge through a couple of small gaps might end up with you slamming into a wall. That might be by design, but I was left quite a few times with the feeling I'd been robbed. But, there's also Labyrinth and Apocalypse modes to offer slightly different challenges and extend the life of the game.

All in all, that makes Race the Sun just as gripping in its own way as Spelunky, Flame Over and Jetpack Joyride, with each region adding a new level of complexity. Kudos goes to the developers for acknowledging their Kickstarter backers in such a cool way on the credits. As I read it, sales were slow for the PC original, hopefully the developers have found better support from the PlayStation community across Vita, PS3 and PS4, and their next project may grace the Vita's screen.

Score 7/10
More reviews
Price: £7.39
Dev: Flippfly
Progress: 25th Hole

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia U Action Unleashed

The jangly guitar, the squeaky voices - yes, its another adventure into the world of Neptunia to rescue the console CPU girls from their latest drama. This time, journalists (spit!) are invading the land and trying to get exclusive stories about their adventures. So far, so squeaky!

Yet, in a twist from the previous turn-based games, most of which I found so annoying as to be instant deletes, this one offers real-time enemy smiting action in the vein of Pirate Warriors or Dynasty Warriors. For each mission you need to move from area to area, or sit in one location and bash the bejeezus out of anything that comes near. It is highly repetitive, but fun, and the crystal clear, primary colour visuals really pop off the OLED screen.

Npetunia U is still quest-based, so there's the usual bit of banter around each mission, but its clear to see what level missions you should take and which ones to avoid, until the girls have leveled up a bit. With the hordes of cookie cutter enemies all over the screen, it can be hard to see what you're hitting and what's hitting you. Sometimes, the girls clothes fall off, which means its time to switch characters. (I can't believe I just wrote that) and as you hit more creatures, your EXE and special move gauges fill, allow you to deploy the big stick actions.

While it looks good, some missions require whipping literally hundreds of the pests into oblivion, or taking down a mildly-threatening boss with a million whacks, which can't be fun for anyone. Most missions take two of the girls and their neophytes into action, so you can mix up battle styles and combos to vary things, but its really just chop, chop, chop. Regardless of ranged weapon or melee, weak or strong attack,

Between missions, you can explore the city and meet the girls, with a host of scenes to move the plot along, they also open up more quests! With plenty of quests, the game moves along at a fair old pace, and the vibrance and happy tone of the game makes it easy to keep going despite the repetition and lack of character development. Besides, how can complain about hitting a space invader with a lobster over and over?

It really is hard not like Nep U, despite the shallow gameplay and story. I really have no idea what most missions were about, most just end collecting a chest or hitting the right kill number. However, going along for the ride seems to be part of the fun. There are some issues, the enemy life bars are hard to see in the throng, and you can spend some time hitting a dead beastie that was just waiting for its vanishing animation to trigger.

If you're into the deeper core of the Neptunia universe them I'm sure you'll giggle at every twist and turn and knowing wink from a character. For the rest of us, its prettified clobberin' time, which is no bad thing. overall.

Score 7/10
More reviews
Price: TBA
Dev: Compile Heart
Progress: Teenage level dreams

Monday, May 18, 2015

Persona 4 Dancing All Night dancing with Denon

Guess Apple's Beats can go suck it, as Atlus partners with Denon to bring some higher-quality audio (or is it marketing) to the Persona 4 Dancing All Night game. Let's face it, these must by mighty tight headphones to stay on during all that twirling, throwing down and throwing shapes, its a shame they're not available in Persona-esque colours either - that wooden effect one looks particularly horrible.

Shovel Knight dominates EU PSN Top Sellers

I've given up on the UK retail chart, what's the point of any chart that doesn't include digital downloads? Not there has been much in the way of change in physical sales for months. So, that leaves the Vita's own Top Sellers list, is it me or has Sony trimmed this list down to seven games.

Just checked, and yes it did used to be a top 10! Please check your Vita and see, or perhaps the others games haven't sold enough to count?

1. Shovel Knight (Yacht Club)
2. Broken Age (Double Fine)
3. Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment (Bandai Namco)
4. Minecraft (Mojang)
5. Nidhogg (Messhof)
6 Hotline Miami 2 (Devolver)
7. Titan Souls (Devolver)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Meet more of Lost Dimensions' psychic heroes (or traitors)

Lost Dimension, despite the generic plot and cookie cutter characters does seem to have an interesting premise behind it, with half of your specially selected ninja-skill psychics apparently set to betray you at any turn.

Here we meet another bunch of the crew. Do any of them look like they belong a little too much in those 'superior race' outfits? Any dodgy hint of an accent? Or, would that be too obvious?

Hopefully the battles are bit more involved than these clips show, or is this just one of those games that's really hard to show off in a short video? Don't think I've ever asked so many questions of a game, guess we'll find out when it releases in July with all that free DLC.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Deception IV trailer ramps up the Stupid Deaths

Tecmo's The Nightmare Princess, aka Deception IV is stomping her high heels (and the other weapons at her disposal) on all manner of enemies in the latest set of misadventures for all kinds of unfortunate heroes. It truly looks great fun, but how long will the 'ha-ha' last?

This episode sees Velguirie, a wickedly sadistic, and infernally mischievous devil daughter take centre stage. She must lure humans into the demi-plane between the dreamlands and the waking world and use traps to ensnare their souls. The game hits stores mid-July

The girls of Persona 4 Dancing All Night show their cossies

ZZ Top may have sung about Legs, but these girls know how to use them. This clip shows off the swimwear DLC for Persona 4 Dancing All Night, and shows Atlus aren't afraid to debase their characters a little for the boys. Chie, Yukiko, Rise and Naoto are all game, but at least there's no excessive jiggling going on.

Luminous Arc Infinity gets a magical trailer

If you've enjoyed the many, many Neptunia/Disgaea tactical battle games on the PS Vita, then get a load of Luminous Arc Infinity which riffs heavily off these and many others in the tactical RPG genre. A new Marvelous game, it probably borrows a fair bit from the DS trilogy, but looks seriously smooth.

Ironically, the series has featured special magical items called Vitae, wonder if Marvelous will call them NDSae to restore balance to the force.

Gust's Yoru no Nai Kuni in screens

First there was the teaser site, then the Famitsu reveal, and now we can take a look at a few high quality screens of Yoru no Nai Kuni (A Land Without Night, apparently) in action thanks to the game's Amazon Japan listing (definitely from the PS4 version, but squint a bit and you'll get the idea).

The first screen had me thinking, oooh - Gravity Rush - but the rest look pretty much straight monster battling fare. The action RPG hopefully does things a little different to the many Monster Hunter clones out there, but we'll see! Also, not much text, so hopefully there's an easy translation on the way.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ray Gigant trailer, going to hell with a hipster beard

The Experience RPG being published by Bandai has a red-tinged new trailer out, with fire, demons, hellish beasts and the usual bunch of kids ready to fight them off. Seriously one hipster beard doesn't make for an experienced monster busting squad. Still, the game looks vibrant and a little updated on the usual Experience RPG fare, so bring it on.

What is MonoGame, and why do we need it?

MonoGame is a development system, tagged as "Write once, play everywhere!" That's not quite true as you can't easily port MonoGame titles to the Vita, yet. That nugget came out in a Q&A with the Axiom Verge crew, AV is a MonoGame title and Sony is still developing new tools to port the game, I'm guessing via expert port team Blitworks - see video.

The good news is, it sounds like it shouldn't take too long, although if Sony is involved - you never know. Previous MonoGame titles like Fez have come to the Vita, but it seems Blitworks has a new, easier, way in the pipe.

But what else could enabling MonoGame ports to the Vita bring us? Bastion was also built with MonoGame and has been announced for the Vita, presumably they're waiting on the same porting tools. Other developers using MonoGame include 17-Bit software, whose Skulls of the Shogun would be a good Vita game (they're also bringing the Unity-powered Galak-Z to the Vita). Then there's a host of other games that might get a port if the process is easy enough.

Developers are hopefully still keen on the Vita, if there's enough good vibes among the dev community about revenue and the loyal fanbase. I'd rather like to see the currently-in-Kickstarter tower defence Hydraulic Empire get a port, and there are bound to be more.

With Unity looking like it is moving ahead without much Vita support, Sony getting MonoGame and other dev tool support is vital to keeping the trickle of games coming, let us know if you think of anything else that would be a great Vita game. Any developers care to comment?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lost Dimension gets launch trailer, release date

Lost Dimension lands on the Vita on 28 July in the States, with $20 of DLC including maps, stories, quests and costumes for the first two weeks from launch. The sci-fi tactical RPG from ATLUS and Lancarse sees traitors in your own team of psychic warriors as they try and battle yet another world-ending fiend!

See the earlier intro trailer, here. There will also be some extra paid content boosters, plenty more details on the official western site. The extra missions include some stiff challenges for your team:

  • The Emissary from the Netherworld: Moderately difficult
  • The Price of Blood: More difficult
  • Runaway Cause and Effect: Most difficult

Color Guardians will brighten up the Vita's screen

The PSN update is rolling out in Europe, with Color Guardians, a game developed in bright and cheery Costa Rica (I guess) by Fair Play Labs. Bold and fast-paced, it takes the colorless world of Wizball theme and turns it into a run and dodge game where you have to repaint the world as one of the three guardians. Set across 70 stages with plenty of hidden goodies to find, it looks quite the treat.

Minecraft still the pocket monster in Golden Week Media Create chart

Golden Week holiday sales failed to boost the games and hardware sales, as expected. Nothing did massive numbers, as console sales have slid from the lofty highs of the PSP era. Vita sales are just a few hundred behind the 3DS LL.

On the software front, Minecraft is the only Vita game in the top 20, but continues to surge in sales, shifting 18.000 and moving back up the chart to No. 3. That's rapidly approaching 150,000 physical sales to go with the huge number of digital sales, as it came out months earlier on PSN.

Angus Hates Aliens should love the Vita

I was playing Dragon's Crown the other day, and wondering why no one had taken that engine and made a retro scroller in the vein of Renegade or AvP out of it. No need to worry now, here comes Angus Hates Aliens from German developers Team Stendec to fill that gap.

Packing the screen with hordes of aliens, it pits them against the rather rough house looking Angus, plus a host of weapons and useful tricks and tactics up his tattoo sleeves. More pics, plus video and music on the game's site, and follow the Twitter feed of lots of new images.

Grab those PlayStation Mobile goodies while you can

I was browsing through the PSM store just now, looking for any games I'd picked up but long since deleted to regrab before it closes in a couple of months (15 July). While checking if there was anything else worth picking up, I noticed quite a few free games there, and what's not to like about a free game.

The store opened two-and-a-half years ago, as Sony tried to ride the wave of Android games and bring some smaller games to the Vita. In that respect, it worked as there's a lot of content there, some great, some good and some amateur - but that was the point. However, Sony soon started to ignore it, dropped Android support and once it had grabbed a updates of the better games (Aqua Kitty, Rock Boshers, etc) for the main Vita store, all but gave up on it.

So, before this useful resource vanishes into Sony's desktop trash can, give the PSM store a visit, redownload your old titles, grab the free ones you can and pick up some of the goodies your missed. Many are less than a £1, so what's not to like. There's many more than my little lists, go check it out.


Super Crate Box
Passing Time
Life of Pixel
Gun Commando
Aqua Kitty (Get the trophy rich DX version on the main PSN store)
Rock Boshers (Get the trophy rich DX version on the main PSN store)
Hermit Crab in Space


UPDATE: Life Born (Takuya Nagasuku) Released 20th May, a tilt game all about evolution
Shuttle Quest 2000 (trial)
Massoumano Saving Latifas
Microbe Chain
Super Duck (a bit like Lemmings, but with ducks)

Everbody's Arcade (Trial)
Cytus Lambda (rhythm action)
Ninja Insect (augmented reality
Galactic Junk (video)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Metropolis Defenders gets the most pointless game clip ever

Acquire is beating the drum for the upcoming city saving game, Metropolis Defenders. Unfortunately, it is trying to beat the drum with a stick of celery, in this - officially the worst piece of video ever in gaming. Even if I knew what they were saying, I'd have lapsed into a coma within seconds.

If you go the game's home page, there is a slightly more impressive trailer, but really? The game itself looks pretty fun so why waste time with this nonsense, who knows!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dungeon Travelers 2 comes with a cute calendar

The battling ladies of Dungeon Traveler 2 are heading west, and Atlus is putting together a fun calendar of the girls for the launch edition of the mature RPG. Reaching the US in the summer and listed as both digital and physical release for Europe in the Autumn, hopefully we'll get the seductive calendar offer too.

With the kingdom of Romulea in peril, it is up the Fried and his lady friends to stop the many monsters that are leaking out across the land. Fried can boost his party by picking up the girls around the kingdom. Offering a first-person perspective with turn-based combat, players will encounter normal monsters as well as more powerful mutant girls, who must be sealed away to prevent the spread of the evil monster scourge.

Amnesia Memories first screens for Vita

Amnesia Memories is a romantic visual novel heading to the Vita and PS TV thanks to Idea Factory. Playing the heroine suffering from memory loss, you need to unravel the mystery behind your predicament and find the fella of your dreams.

With five blokes to choose from and a range of affection, trust and suspicion to guide your judgement, plus a range of subgames and hidden messages, its typical visual novel fare, but since its so rare over here (except for PC fan subs) it might be interesting to give it a spin and find out what all the fuss is about.

Tokyo Dark goes live on Kickstarter

One of the Square Enix Collective-backed projects (mentioned back in February) is now live on Kickstarter, having already raised $10,000 of its $40K base funding goal for PC and Mac. There's no formal goal for a Vita version, but the team seem keen and if the game does get funded then a Vita edition seems likely down the line.

Given the number of Vita gamers in manga and anime, it would be a natural fit, so why not fund it anyway on the off chance.

Lost Dimension gets a first western trailer

Lost Dimension looked incredibly one-dimensional and boring in its Japanese form, but as NIS America is bringing it west, hopefully the translation will help flesh the game, out and make it look a little more tempting.

It sees the usual bunch of student psychics with superhuman abilities being trained to fight off some supernatural enemy 'The End' that threatens the Earth. The trick is that as you bond with your team, you soon have to start sacrificing a few along the way to defeat the enemy, with a traitor among the squad (how very Danganronpa).

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Check out Disney Infinity 2.0 in action on the Vita

MrPSVitaReviews was quick out to the stores this weekend and got hold of a brand new copy of Disney Infinity 2.0 for the Vita, features the black-costumed SpiderMan. It hits Europe in just a couple of weeks, so here's what it looks like if you plan to pick it up, considering it looks like we're not getting Disney Infinity 3.0.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Vita sales get a little Golden Week kiss

Not much, as Japan prepared for its big spring holiday, up a couple of thousand according to the latest Media Create sales, showing how bad things have got generally, considering Golden Week used to send sales soaring. On the software, Minecraft remains the leading selling Vita game, shifting another 16,000 copies (up 4,000 on last week). Next week's figures might improve more, but after that we're into the spring/summer slump!

Not far behind Minecraft is ToHeart2 Dungeon Travellers from 5bp and Aquaplus, but its quite a poor showing by Operation Babel (Operation Abyss in the west, coming soon) selling only 8,100 copies. Guess it won't match the highs of Demon Gaze, which means that the developers had better get a move on with that DG sequel.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bandai's World Trigger spawns a trailer

First revealed to the world late last year, Bandai has been a bit quiet about World Trigger (having been a bit busy single-handedly keeping the Vita going). However, we now get a first look at the game's world - which seems to borrow rather a bit from Earth Defence Force but up the stakes with a very large city to explore (nice draw distance, if rather basic buildings and some truly appalling hairstyles). In the city are hordes of bugs to splat, which is always fun. Anyone impressed?

Red Goddess gets an opening trailer

Kickstarted platform Metroidvania adventure Red Goddess is getting closer to completion, with the team at Yanim Studio having put the final touches to a trailer. With an inspiring soundtrack, some clever gameplay mechanics, and a universal love of red heads, its got to be near the perfect game.

Production is running a few months behind plan, but hey - I'm patient - and hopefully we'll see a Vita version by the end of the year!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Another Android handheld riffs on the Vita

Remember the PSP being a great retro machine. And most of crackers efforts have been on trying to free up the Vita to do a similar job? Well, never mind. Just pay £129 and get yourself a JXD S7800. Despite the crappy name this little Android handheld with a 7-inch 1280*800 screen claims to play all Android games, plus PS1, N64, SNES, Megadrive and many more games through emulation. It seems to be an update to this JXD device from 2012!

What can the Vita play? About 700 native games (most not available in the west) some PSP titles and a very small number of PS one games - sounds rather pathetic in comparison doesn't it. Also on the way is Snail Games W3D handheld and a whole army of micro-consoles to squish the feeble-selling PlayStation TV - you'd think Sony might want to do something about that,

Bandai Namco owns the Vita in Japan

I regularly suggest Bandai should buy the rights to the Vita off Sony, and the latest figures from Japan show why. Since Japan is on Golden Week holiday, there's no chart update today, but the year-to-date sales from Media Create are out and show Bandai games dominating Vita game sales, specifically:

No. 7 - God Eater Rage Burst (296,151)
No. 11 - Sword Art Online: Lost Song (166,588)
No. 19 - 3rd Super Robot Wars Z (120,392)

That's it, not a single Sony title, and no matter how hard others have tried, they just can't crack the upper end of the charts. So, since Sony can't be arsed to produce Vita games, why not sell the concept to the only major developer that is?

UPDATE: Bandai's own numbers for its latest financial report are out, showing 650,000 sales for the multiplatform One Piece: Unlimited World Red. Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment has now reached 570,000 units, while Mobile Suit Gundam, Dragonball and other staples continue to bring in the cash.

With Bandai doing a decent effort of bringing its games west, they could promote the machine on the back of their own releases, and customise the OS, themes and bundles to a Bandai flavour.

Ar Nosurge Plus: Ode to an Unborn Star lands July

As recently rumored on Twitter, Koei is bringing Gust's RPG Ar Nosurge Plus: Ode to an Unborn Star to the Vita this July. Featuring dual Japanese and English audio, it is set in a world where takes place in a world where music and song can create magic, it tells the story of a lost civilization, roaming the edge of space for 2,000 years.

Two sets of characters form the core of the adventure, with Delta and Casty's goal to protect humanity and save the world, while Ion and Earthes, who are trying to find Ion a way home to Earth. The player can change between both pairs and discover a way to combine their storylines and strengths to eventually solve the mystery that shrouds their on-going struggles.

An update edition, it features extra costumes and DLC from the original, and will only be available in digital form.

Steins;Gate release update

A note from the game's Facebook Community page lets us know that Steins;Gate on the PS3 has passed Sony Europe Q&A testing, with the Vita version expected to pass in the next day or so. The US versions don't sound too far behind, which is likely why there's no still formal date for that region yet.

UPDATE: The Vita version has passed checking too, so its now on to manufacture for the physical copies and queuing up the digital version for release!

The greatly anticipated visual novel (game site) has to be the Vita's best chance at a breakout game this year, but there's been little hype outside Vita and SG sites for it. Hopefully things will start picking up in the next week or two before the 22 May release date.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Operation Abyss New Tokyo Legacy, new trailer

Just a quickie before I log off for the night, NIS America has put up a new western trailer for the Operation Abyss RPG sci-fi follow up to Demon Gaze. In it you see how parties are formed, with Vice-captain of the Xth Squad Kaito Saeki supporting your squad during your missions with details on how to form a synergized squad.

 Blood Codes contain the genome of history's greatest heroes that determine the role of each member, and each member can only use one blood code at a time. Experiment with different Blood Code combinations and be mindful of how long you dive into the Abyss - the longer you stay, the more aggressive the Variants will become.

A Launch Edition will come with a collector's box and soundtrack CD.

What will Sony show for the Vita at E3?

Vita fans, remember the #E32015 code! Expect nothing, hope for something, take joy from the little things! That said, in the spirit of optimism:

UPDATE 2: Less than 24 hours to go, everyone is talking about Final Fantasy VII remake for PS4, while the most people seem to be hoping for on the Vita is a price cut, perhaps a new firmware update and a look at Resident Evil 2 Revelations in action.

UPDATE: Sony has confirmed its event will be at the same time 6PM Pacific (2AM UK, yuk!) at the Memorial Sports Arena. Let the drooling commence! Rumours are that Crash Bandicoot could make a return (more likely given the success of Yooka Yaylee, now approaching 10 times its Kickstarter figure) and everyone has their hopes and dreams, all set to be dashed.

Outside bets might include the new Mortal Kombat for Vita, given NetherRealm's previous support, western Monster Hunter of some kind and more Killzone. I also hold out hope that Sony will release a teaser Last Guardian game (or mini-adventure) on the Vita ahead of the PS4 full-fat version.

But realistically, after the farce of the last two years, I suggested Sony have its own little pre-E3 Vita showing, just to get all things handheld out the way. By doing so, it can save what little false hope there is from getting raised and concentrate on PS4, without the Vita looking like a lost orphan, at the big show.

However, with less than a month until the biggest console event of the year. And Sony, having failed dismally to do much supportive of the Vita in recent years, will be looking to keep up that appalling run going. Fair enough it has the 20 million selling PS4 to focus on, with the, perhaps, 6-8+ million Vita sales apparently counting for nothing, in part thanks to that lacklustre support. Even Sony's big Vita fans in the form of Shahid and Gio Corsi have stopped talking about it (except for multiplat releases and PSN sales) as there is nothing to talk about.

On the less negative side, and with some realism, Sony should have something from Big Fest to show. That started out as a Vita exclusive revealed in 2013, but with very little content. In 2014 it became multiplatform, again with very little to show. Hopefully 2015 will show that some serious progress has been made.

Second will be Resident Evil Revelations 2 for the Vita, with Sony recently having revealed the developer and promising all the content. Will Frima cram all that content into the Vita version, plus multiplayer? Hopefully we'll find out.

Otherwise, all I'd expect is a showreel of the latest from Bandai - hopefully led by God Eater 2 Rage Burst - who seem to be the last major publisher supporting the Vita, clips from the NIS America and Idea Factory titles, plus perhaps a spot for Steins;Gate. Otherwise, its indies and Kickstarter games that might just, one day, eventually come to the Vita.

Given all the money Sony is raking in for the PS4, would it be too much to ask for them to contribute to Formula Fusion funding to get it on Sony platforms? If anything knows anything different, I'd love to hear about it! What else could Sony show and does anyone hold out any hope for an "all new" title?

Portal comes to the Vita as a Zen Pinball table

Ooh, so close! The fun bit of sci-fi gaming legend that is Portal from Valve is coming to the Vita in the form of a Zen Studios Pinball 2 table. Hot of the heels of the Star Wars Rebels table, it features the voice of GlaDOS and many timey wimey portals, laser and platforms for the silver orbs to pop in and out of.

The table will be out at the end of the month across PS4, PS3 and Vita platforms. Expect another update for the base game to add compatibility - and perhaps they'll tweak the Vita interface to better show the tables you own.