Saturday, July 30, 2016

Vita firmware bypassed, retro games a go-go with Henkaku

Without breaking into piracy territory, Henkaku allows Vita owners to relatively easily play retro, missing PSP (soon) and other games, with bubbles and everything, all on the latest firmware. This champagne moment for the homebrew crowd, and those aghast at Sony's arse-faced limitations on PSP and PS One games, is pretty big news in a quiet summer.

Benefits so far include:

  • EU users being able to install the Netflix app. 
  • Persona 4 players getting the Japanese audio
  • Switching PSN region accounts without hassle
UPDATE: Sony has finally dragged its Vita firmware crew out of retirement and dropped version 3.61 to spoil this party. Will this move see the start of a tit-and-tat battle between the crackers and gatekeepers, or is this a Berlin Wall around any exploit, for now? More to the point, if Sony can panic and get out an update when there's the slightest hint of a threat, why can't it provide more regular beneficial updates for users?

The point is, that's likely all it can do, Sony can't offer users anything new or improved as a carrot, all you get is continued access to PSN and new digital games, which for some probably isn't enough of an incentive.

Original story continues: Also, soon we could actually play Crisis Core on the Vita, and the original Ridge Racer PS One, as well as SNES, SNK and MegaDrive games that are freely available on pretty much every other handheld device. There's also the world of abandonware, old games and true homebrew to enjoy!

With only a year or so of leading Japanese developer interest in the Vita, this has to be, on balance, good news. Soon, those developers will start moving wholesale to NX, leaving Sony's portable dreams to history.

As another positive, it might also encourage Sony and other publishers to push more legit retro content to compete, for those who can't be bothered with all the FTP work involved. At worst, Sony could kill Vita production tomorrow, but no one outside our little group would really care!

UPDATE: Apparently Henkaku was downloaded 30,000 times in the first few days, that's more than most Vita games sell I guess! Now its been out a few days, what's your take?

Pic from
A key point here is that Sony can't actually fight back. It no longer makes games for the Vita, it can't release some blockbuster title that politely forces the majority of gamers to upgrade, breaking the exploit or workaround (if it can be stopped). All you have to do is disable automatic updates to ensure Sony can't ruin your retro fun. Yes, it could get other publishers like Namco's upcoming God Eater games to require a firmware update, or ban users from using PSN store, but with the Vita's limited output, that's just a small dent in the user base.

So, I guess Sony will enjoy a few more hardware sales, while trying to play good cop. However, with all the Android consoles already offering these retro emulators and games, sales won't see a PSP-like spike.

Piracy will come eventually, as hackers root around inside whatever features this FTP-based system offers, but that's down to individuals to decide. What are your thoughts on this and what retro game are you most looking forward to playing?

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters update Daybreak Special Gigs fades west

With the original visual novel still on the PSN store for £15, you might want to hold off for the uprated and improved, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters: Daybreak Special Gigs.

Ignoring the silly name extension, it will hit Europe on 21 October 2016 and is billed as the ultimate version of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters with five new chapters, more scenarios, and improved gameplay.

Check out the site for details and a few screenshots of the visual novel.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

LTTP Review: Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified

Late to the party.... um, yep! Just a few scraps of cake and some people on Table 9 playing online! However, at just a few bucks for a US import with some Amazon vouchers I had kicking around, why not? Seriously, don't pay more than $15/£10 for Call of Duty, and you may find it offers a limited amount of fun.

Head online, and there's always plenty of people to play against in tight, tense, close quarter battles, in team deathmatch, free for all and a couple of other modes. Just throw away your memories of the Xbox epics and think back to school when you played Killer/Tag/Hunter with a bunch of friends in a small area. It does feel silly initially, spawn, die, spawn, kill, kill, die, spawn, die, spawn, die - all within a minute. But, once you get a feel for the map you can learn a few tactics and locations to string together a killstreak.

Getting used to aiming takes a fair while, and it is never as tight as the big-screen versions, with everything compressed into such a small space. Always having a finger free to tap the screen for melee is recommended, as it is very easy to run into opponents, missing from one-foot away with a weapon.

Unfortunately, you can't take screenshots, so here's a grainy photo
Overall though, apart from the crappy shadows, the game actually looks pretty decent, with maps borrowed liberally from the history of the Black Ops series. It really shouldn't be called Declassified, perhaps Fragmentation would have been a better name!

That's pretty much what you get with a totally random collection of set piece single player missions, where you get one life to complete it, and can aim to achieve better ratings, through faster, more accurate run throughs.

There are rescue missions, acts of sabotage, protection jobs, but each boils down to enter room, kill, move on, achieve objective, more rooms, more kills, repeat. The enemy AI is so poor, it won't take long to figure out a speedy pattern through.

The graphics mostly look okay, but there are some alarming texture jumps, probably why the game won't let you take screenshots. There's also a few solo survival missions to play, and then once you're done with them, there's always multiplayer with custom classes and loadouts. They are fun on the larger maps with enough players, and it is still easy enough to find a decent game.

I should have perhaps played it first without the patches to see if CoD was really as bad as early reviewers claimed. However, while it never feels as tight as Killzone, it is at least playable, if more random than any spec ops operator would expect. Boresight mode is too slow, and free aim is a one-way trip to low ammo, but once you've gone a few rounds, things feel slightly less hectic.

So, yeah, this is a bargain basement nod to the CoD series, cooked up in a few weeks by some over-stressed coders at Nihilistic/nStigate who should never have got the job. Check out the many YouTube videos to see how it can be played, and to prove that people still enjoy it.

Score: 4/10
More reviews
Price: $19.99 (Amazon US)
Developer: Nihilistic
Progress: Wounds, some mental!

Review: Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

This game has looked pretty gorgeous since the first reveal, but its only when you get it playing on a Vita OLED that you realise how bold and detailed everything is There's a Blizzard level of polish to menus, control layout and character graphics, while every level is crammed with visual detail and little effects. All of that is pretty impressive, considering OSL is an update to a PS2 title.

Of the 200 plus screenshots I've taken, I want to post them all, but that's probably overkill. (Putting some up on Pinterest) And, while a game might look pretty - that doesn't mean its brilliant, so what happens when we get past the style and into the content? Each chapter is broken down into books, that a little girl, at home with her cat can read through to open up new missions - that's the level of creative detail here. Each of the five main character's story expands into an overall epic, nipping back and forth through plot points from a slightly different perspective.
It starts with Gwendolyn the Valkyrie, trying do the right thing in a castle with her over-bearing father a drunken giant of a barbarian and many magical plots outside the walls. Exploring is brilliant fun, most levels roll around like mini-Earths with multiple exits to new areas of the map, with countries and cities broken down into smaller areas, with many minor a few mid-level and an ominous boss for each chapter.

A toggled map overlay (no separate screen required) plus not one, but two, mini-maps show you where to go, what to pick up and who to battle or avoid, its brilliantly effective! The first chapter with Gwendolyn spends a little too much time showing off pages of old books, but the pace soon picks up.
You race after each objective around the map, picking up new skills and abilities along the way. These actions, magic spells and support skills can be instantly linked to button shortcuts, and you'll soon learn what are favourite skills and what you can live without.

Make sure you stop and take a look around once in while. From ruined cities to light glistening through stained glass windows or ice shards, this is an amazing game to gawp at, it feels rather like when Rayman came along.

Each can be powered up by Phozons, glowing crystal like shards given off by enemies in battle, or collected as you explore, or Ability Points that come with experience. All of these skills make for fast upgrades, great ways to explore your character's abilities. There's also a load of food, spells to make and ingredients for meals.
The cooking is probably the one bullshit aspect of the game. It doesn't feel needed, and there are many other ways that each character could gain experience boosts. The annoying piggy chef doesn't help either. Perhaps collectable/craftable item sets would have been more in keeping and better for the characters. That and the limited storage space, until you get home chests and bigger bags, are the real only gripes with the game.

Them aside, you'll race through this game and enjoy every minute. One reason is that most battle levels are timed and you need to both quick and effective to get an S rank. Also, the small levels leave very little hanging around or stumbling for exits. Apart from the larger monsters, battles are short and snappy. You can pause them with Triangle to consume a potion or left trigger to launch a spell that doesn't have a short cut, allowing you to figure out what works best, heat, cold, light and dark are the four basic potion or spell types - no rocket science required.

Odin Sphere is both a visual delight and a fun roving beat-em up with so many neat little tricks and features. If it would have dumped the cooking segment, then its a nigh on perfect adventure, bordering on chaotic brilliance.

Score: 9/10
More reviews
Price: £29.99 (PSN)
Developer: Vanillaware/Atlus
Progress: Gazing at the scenery!

The Longest Five Minutes ticks west

Time critical is a big thing in the business world, but rarely do RPGs rely on down to the second timing. 30 Second Hero on the PSP changed all that, and I guess it was part of the inspriation for SYUPRO-DX's new RPG, hitting Japan today.

We get to run against the clock in 2017, likely digital only, with The Longest Five Minutes recounting the life of a hero during his final encounter with an epic and evil Overlord. As the story unfolds, the conversations you have with your party and the Overlord will unlock memories of the hero’s journey. Each memory plays out in classic 8-bit RPG style, and the outcome of those memories affect your party in their final battle.

About the Story: Our hero faces the origin of all evil, the Overlord himself, but suddenly loses all memories of his adventure. His finishing moves, the name of his hometown, and even the reason he's trying to defeat the Overlord in the first place, all gone. Our hero feels as though he's letting his allies down... In the midst of battle, his allies’ words and the Overlord's taunting triggers flashbacks, bringing his memories back piece by piece.

Ys VIII vies for the top of the Japanese Chart

Falcom's latest Ys RPG, Lacrimosa of Dana, sits at No. 2 in the Media Create chart on entry, shifting plenty of physical copies, but still way behind the still lingering Yokai Watch phenomena. The update to Stranger of Sword City also battles into the top 10, while visual novel 7 Scarlet just about squeaks into the top 20.

01./01. [3DS] Yo-Kai Watch 3: Sushi / Tempura (Level 5) - 168.782 / 800.918 (-73%)
02./00. [PSV] Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (Falcom) - 43.753 / NEW
08./00. [PSV] New Interpretation Stranger of Sword City (Experience) 7.248 / NEW
12./09. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition (Mojang) - 5.744 / 829.979 (-6%)
16./00. [PSV] 7'scarlet (Idea Factory) 3.128 / NEW
17./20. [PSV] Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2016 (Konami) 2.961 / 159.388 (+3%)
20./11. [PSV] Coven and Labyrinth of Refrain (NIS) 2.733 / 42.519 (-48%)

For all that activity, around 60,000 total game sales, Vita sales go up by only around 400, barely a dent. This elongated flat patch is an increasing sign that Sony needs to something soon after the Summer holiday to kick start interest in hardware, be in new colours, or limited edition models. There were some Ys VIII Vita models, but they were exclusive to the Sony store. 

Shiren the Wanderer picks up a new trailer

Shiren is out this week on PSN (£32.99 on EU PSN) and only a 400MB download. To celebrate here's a brief but unashamedly old-school look at Spike's retro RPG, published by Aksys. Fully titled The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate, it sees Shiren and his ferret Koppa in an update of the DS original.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Macross Delta Scramble lights its jets

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

UPDATE: Here's a more recent chatty video showing off some of the characters and gameplay...

UPDATE: Some new pics are doing the rounds on Japanese sites of some pretty spiffy craft and crew, more on 4Gamer.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

New Toukiden 2 battle trailer

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

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review: Grand Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Hyper Light Drifter drifts to autumn on Vita

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

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

Beyond Human takes another shot at fame!

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

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

Gratuitous gorgeous Gemma Chan pic!

Valkyrie Drive gets a release date, physical version

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

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

Alone With You wants a friend in August

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

Organ Trail bleeds out on PSN

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

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

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

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

World of Final Fantasy Mirage trailer

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

Check the Square YouTube Channel for more of these little critters in action.

Legend of Heroes 3rd Evolution anime intro

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Toukiden 2 anime kicks robot ass

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

MeiQ Labyrinth of Death confirmed for September

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

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

Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS-Force launch trailer

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

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

Akiba's Beat rolls out the character trailers

I'm starting to hate this with games, one trailer dripping out at a time for each character, for whom there's barely any tactical variation, expect a vaguely different weapon, suitable craziness of hair and slightly different annoying squeaky voice. Latest ones at the top!

On we go, with the translated English versions from Acquire... here's Saki (or Asahi as he was in the Japanese version at the bottom - is there some alcohol advertising deal going on here?)

UPDATED: At least Yamato gets to keep his name in the latest translated trailer.

Just one more (hopefully), Mizuki Aihara

And, this week's contestant is...

And one more...

Yet another one...

UPDATE: And another one...

I know this is how Japanese PR works, but is it not possible just to shove them all in one video? Anyway, here's Riyu Momose (now forever to be known as The Marmoset). She beats people up with a pole weapon and squeaks while her pink hair wafts around.

And here's Asahi who carries a sword and has really boring hair and clothes, its like he's not even trying! Still, his headphones are glued to his skull

Save the world for SAO Hollow Realization

With its autumn release data edging closer, here's a pretty detailed look at the world of SAO Hollow Realization, with more detail about the many characters and customisations in the virtual MMORPG. Sadly, only the PS4 version gets the shiny limited edition - how hard is it for companies to get these in shops with a choice for the buyer to get either the Vita or PS4 game (at appropriate cost)?

Get ready for a Mutant Mudds Super Challenge

Mutant Mudds hit the Vita way back in 2013 (oddly no longer showing on PSN), I'm guessing it did well enough for Renegade Kid and publisher Nighthawk to bring semi-sequel Super Challenge along to the handheld along with PS4, coming later this month after launching on the 3DS.

UPDATE: The game is out now on EU PSN for £7.99

Featuring a nerd on a jet-pac, he can zip in and out of the screen to deal death to a range of peculiar baddies from ghosts to giant spuds. A range of weapons are needed to take them down, it looks like finding them and enough life will be half the trick.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Asterisk Wars: Phoenix Festa heads west via Bandai

I was struggling to work out what this is, until I realised the A.W. meant Asterisk War. Even then, the previous stories focus on lots of girls running around fighting. So, according to the press release Phoenix Festa is an Simulation Action genre arriving in July.

Judging by the lack of art, new imagery, and short order date, guessing this is a bare-bones subtitled digital release.

In a post-apocalyptic 20th century, the Integrated Enterprise Foundation is formed to recover from devastation. Cities are reorganized including the one called Rikka, also known as Asterisk. Within Asterisk, six academies hold tournaments called “Festas” pitting students from each academy against each other.

 Phoenix Festa combines dating sim mechanics and combat, and features its own original storyline dug out the light novel series. Players will experience a challenging adventure with numerous endings and multiple outcomes, going about daily school life by making friends and competing in the Phoenix Festa tournament. They will have to train themselves in order to increase their fight abilities as they prepare their participation in the Phoenix Festa tournament.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Adventures in #screenshotsaturday

Slowly but surely indie devs around the world are working hard on games, some of which are heading to the Vita. Regardless of format, the creativity is staggering - check out dozens of games incubating away here (it runs into #screenshotsunday too).

Remember to help back the Vita games up for funding here.

Loads of voxel-based games are in progress that shoulda/coulda/woulda be an easy port to Vita, if a developer is suitably encouraged. But the game that most struck me as awesome was Racing Apex (Kickstarter on hold), which is probably too complex for Sony's ageing hardware. It looks like an earlier gen version of the lost-in-dev-hell 90s Arcade Racer, but surely someone can do a Virtua Racing-style game that would run well?

Anyway, definitely coming to the Vita: click for a few more pics from Infinite State for their gorgeous looking Wing Kings, with the game new getting a day/night cycle and a pretty setting sun.

And, going back to racers, here's the latest on Drift Stage hopefully hitting the Vita eventually...

Roguelike Children of Morta is coming on well, giving me a nice Diablo vibe with some insane spells in your armoury.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Valkyrie Drive confirmed for western release

PQube has announced it is bringing the racy Valkyrie Drive to the west, sometime this year, after much murmuring from fans. The Vita exclusive girly combat game offers aerial-based battling with pleasure-based weaponry (okay) and destructible clothing (perfectly normal compared to everything else!)

No word on a physical or digital release.

Features include:

  • When two girls get it on – one girl turns into a super weapon
  • Wield your incredible pleasure powered weapons to take on hordes of enemies
  • Ultra-fast hack and slash action with a focus on stylish aerial combos
  • Power up your weapons by turning on your girlfriends
  • Weapons can be levelled up in strength up to 15 times – getting bigger and more awesome looking every time
  • Take your favourite girls into the dressing room and rub and touch to raise their levels
  • Choose between 7 playable characters to master
  • Return of the clothing destruction system – clothes get more ripped the more you fight
  • 28 Story Missions to tackle – with high quality anime visuals
  • Battle it out in arena based online multiplayer – up to 4 players

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Levi, Erwin and Hange star in Attack on Titan Wings of Freedom clips

Title says it all really, check out the (PS4) version of Tecmo's Attack on Titan (Wings of Freedom to western gamers) in action with some of the variably volumed heroes from the series. Erwin is very shouty, Hange is kind of whiny and Levi is suitably heroic. They follow on from the new gameplay trailer yesterday.

God Eater 2 Rage Burst pre-order DLC costumes for Europe announced

God Eater 2 Rage Burst lands in Europe at the end of August and will come with some perky DLC costumes from Tokyo Ghoul, SAO and others for pre-orders. We also get a God Eater Resurrection redemption PSN code in the box, and the Vita version is less than half the price of the PS4 edition... what's not to like.

More buxom fun with the Genki Pirates

While western pirate games focus on creaking sails and cannonfire, Japan goes for creaking bras and cute fishes in Genkai Tokki: Seven Pirates. Announced back in March by Compile Heart, the game now has a Summer release date and looks great fun with a pretty map, pretty creatures and massively chested girls engaging in typical RPG battles with whales and other madness.

New Million Arthur game landing on Vita in Japan

Actually, its another port, this time of the recent mobile game, Kai-ri-sei Million Arthur, and not a sequel to the 2013 Vita release, which was itself a mobile port. The 4-player tactical RPG card battler game will come with a collection of unique features including a new knight, 3D enhancements, and so on, plus a stack of in-app purchases.

The game is out on the US iTunes store if you want to give it a shot, western PSN release seems unlikely.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Zero Time Dilemma doesn't tick in Japan

No wonder this game came west first, the third Zero Escape title managed just 5,375 sales on the Vita in Japan, supported by 3,900 on the 3DS, leaving it near the bottom of the Media Create chart. That's after Caligula failed to impress last week. To be fair, its never sold in huge numbers there. With no physical release to speak of in the west (pre-orders unfulfilled etc), its down to digital sales to help give the series a heroic send off. Will be interesting to see how 999 remastered does!

With that bust, Vita sales dipped down another 500 on the week, down to 11,400. Out this week to spice things up are True Fashion God 2. Next week is more interesting with Uppers and Legend of Heroes 3rd Evolution hitting shelves.

Attack on Titan Wings Of Freedom gets new clips

Bandai is talking up Scout mode in the latest release as Attack on Titan Wings Of Freedom. The news also comes with a set of new character trailers and this one showing how the battles rise to a climax (or your inevitable being chomped!)
The fast paced Scout Mode allows players to recruit up to three companions online to venture outside the wall and face the eerily human-like Titans together. Starting at the camp, team members are able to upgrade their gear, change their costumes and prepare resources for an upcoming onslaught. The leader of the group is able to choose from a wide selection of missions taking place across a variety of different stages, including the Forest of Giant Trees, the Ruined Town, a Farm Village and even the Stohess District. These missions, separate from the main campaign, offer further action-packed events to face as a team.

Throughout A.O.T. Wings of Freedom players will have the opportunity to upgrade their titan-slaying gear. The Omni-Directional Manoeuver Gear, blades, and scabbard can be enhanced at the camp with materials found from slaying Titans on single player and multiplayer missions. Enhancements to the Omni-Directional Manoeuver Gear include improved anchors, allowing them to attach on to Titans from a greater distance and at faster speeds. Blades can be sharpened, as well as improved to become longer and more durable, with scabbard upgrades allowing additional blades and gas canisters to be carried. It is important for players to raise their equipment’s level to perform more effectively on the battlefield.

Will Funimation app arrive on Vita as the Danganrompa anime hits?

When the Twitch app arrived yesterday, lots of people mentioned that the Funimation app is also on the way. Think of it as a rival to Crunchyroll, which we already have the app for. I suspect they must be planning to launch it soon, as the Funimation service will be bringing the Danganronpa series (new trailer below) to western eyes, with subtitles, in the next couple of weeks.

That would make a lot of sense given the Vita is the home format for the Danganronpa games and the huge number of anime fan owners. Hope that works out, as it'd be cool to see the new series (in the UK and US at least, not sure where else Funimation serves).

Mary Skelter leaps in to action with a range of classes

Meet the girls who will form your RPG squad in this new look at Mary Skelter. They have a wider range than usual of jobs or roles to make them useful (or not) in battle. I mean will the "therapist" have time to whip out a couch when your team is struck by fear? There's the usual fighters and mages among the herd, and of course, every adventure needs a poet to crank out some epic rhymes about your quests!

Some pics of the girl's trades on the game site. Whatever the fluff it looks like a pretty solid RPG with a decent and non-generic line up of monsters to fight. I do live the intro piano tunes and that rush strings piece, hope the rest of the soundtrack maintains this level.

The Vita exclusive game is out in October in Japan, no sign of a western release, yet, but it looks like the kind of game that could do well over here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Twitch streaming app finally lands on the Vita

Last year Sony dropped the PlayStation Live app so we could watch PS4 players enjoying their games. Now Twitch has dropped its own app on the Vita PSN store, so we can spend even more time watching gamers on other formats play their latest titles.

Quite why, when there's too many games on the Vita for us to play right now, who knows. But I guess if your downtime involves watching others play, then that's cool enough.

There's no way to show you playing your Vita games to others, but hey - any app is welcome!

Still waiting on Netflix (EU), Spotify and quite a few others if any those company coders have some time on their hands! 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Take a western peek at Touhou Genso Wanderer

NIS America is having its day in the sun at Anime Expo after all Aksys' fun on Sunday. Here's a first look in English at Touhou Genso Wanderer, a roguelike RPG, in which you play Reimu, the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, investigating strange goings on in Gensokyo.

Along the way, you’ll encounter a variety of characters from the Touhou Project universe, discover mountains of loot—each piece of which is valuable thanks to the game’s item fusion system—and test your mettle with your favorite Touhou girl in tow as your adventuring partner in this approachable take on the roguelike genre.

Idol Death Game TV ready to win ratings

Killing your idols has always been an accepted part of the fame game, so its no surprise that Japan will soon have a Vita release dedicated to the idea. ldol Death Game TV from Witchcraft and D3 is a new Vita exclusive headed for Japan, so that's killing idols of the squeaky voiced variety, not the John Lennon type!

Due out in October, not much idea of game mechanics or content, put expect lots of bitchiness and murder behind the make-up and pretty costumes!

PS Vita still on Sony Japan's radar

In an interview with 4Gamer, Atsushi Morita president of Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan pretty much toed the party line about the Vita. When asked about the no-show at E3. He put that down as thanks to its struggles in America.

However, there's certainly no sign of the company killing it off, as many people like to claim.

Paraphrasing from the article via autotranslate:
4Gamer:  Will PlayStation Vita ever see a successor?
Morita said:  There is no thing that I can answer at this point. However, the PlayStation Vita, I think will be able to able to expand still more. It has a wide range of audiences in Japan from adults to children, where it can still grow further, thanks to Minecraft and Dragon Quest Builders.

So, expect a good couple more years effort on the Vita thanks to its undying third party support and rabid fans in the west.  A shame he didn't commit any Sony developer support to its own device, but with another million units likely to be sold this year, there's still interest in the hardware.

Zero Escape 999 likely headed to Vita

What's the point in having two episodes of an epic visual novel trilogy on the Vita, when the first chapter is lurking in DS bargain bins? Well, having finished Virtue's Last Reward and looking forward immensely to Zero Time Dilemma, it looks the origin story, 9 Hours 9 Persons, 9 Doors will hit the Vita as hinted at by this "new formats" remaster clip.

Tokyo Xanadu and a host of visual novels come west thanks to Aksys

Having long been obsessed with Monster Hunter clones, it now seems the Vita is the go to platform for Persona clones. Just as well, given we aren't getting Persona 5. I do wonder how long it will be until Persona 2 and 3 get a re-remastering, but until then, its up to the likes of Caligula and the newly-confirmed for western release Tokyo Xanadu to keep things rolling.

The game sold around 125K physical copies in Japan, and looks a lot more stylish than the newer Caligula title. Here's hoping it does good business on its western release.

As well as Tokyo Xanadu in 2017, Aksys is bringing visual novel Otome titles; Collar X Malice, Period Cube and Bad Apple Wars. Again, these are seeing more interest in the west with huge Twitter storms for what you'd think are pretty niche games!