Monday, October 31, 2016

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape hit Vita in HD combo

The Nonary game series has been a big hit on the Vita, with Virtue's Last Reward (review) and the recent Zero Time Dilemma all attracting huge interest. Now the circle will soon be complete as the original game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (999) comes to the Vita and PS4 in a HD update, along with an upscaled Zero Escape for those who missed out first time.
The bundle will be called Zero Escape: the Nonary Games. The PS blog has the details of Aksys and Spike's latest collaboration, which brings the cult DS game or way with English and Japanese voice overs as part of the pack.

No imagery yet, but things should look pretty crisp when the game arrives next spring, in both physical and digital form.

Money Hungry Princess out for more cash

Nippon Ichi has a new trailer out for Money Hungry Princess, which will hit Japan toward the end of November, with fast and furious money grabbing arcade action. Use that money to control the people and beat the monsters, capitalism has never been so much fun.

Wanted Corp shoots up Vita in November

French developer Eko put out a tweet that most of the world missed a couple of weeks ago showing its 3D co-op shooter Wanted Corp will hit the Vita and Steam in November. The game originally came out on Xbox 360 and PS3 years ago, but gets a fresh lease of life now.

The company has a history of niche and family games for console, but this and the likes of How to Survive and Handball 16 (also on Vita) seems to be an effort to produce more credible titles. This trailer is a couple of years old but I'm checking to see if they have any Vita assets.

World of Final Fantasy tops UK Vita chart in new release rampage

Proving that retail sales do still happen and matter for the Vita, new releases kick out the usual suspects in the latest chart. WoFF hits No. 1 with word of sell outs among many stores, which is impressive, or Square only produced a few thousand units.

There are three new entries and Valkyrie Drive goes up the chart - something that rarely happens in Vita land.

1. World of Final Fantasy (Square) NEW
2. Root Letter (PQube) NEW
3. Minecraft (Mojang) Non-mover
4. Yomawari (NIS) NEW
5. Valkyrie Drive Bhikkhumi (PQube) Up from No. 6 

None of them have the chops to break into the individual format chart, but WoFF hits the all-formats chart at No. 11 counting both Vita and PS4 sales.

Will update the PSN chart when Sony bothers to crunch the numbers for that. Here we go (as of Friday):

1. Dragon Quest Builders
2. Darkest Dungeon
3. Odin Sphere
4. Oddword New n Tasty
5. Need for Speed Most Wanted
6. LoH: Trails of Cold Steel

Over on Amazon UK, WoFF tops the chart with Valkyrie Drive at No. 3 and Root Letter in at No. 6.

Latest Japanese chart info and Vita unit sales.

Gust shows off more of Atelier Firis

Just started getting back into Atelier Sophie, trying to finish the game before Firis arrives, and so should you - its an excellent and accessible RPG! Gust seems to have moved the character visuals up a notch for Firis, the game is out in Japan next week and should hit the west, given previous publishing efforts.

The game's Japanese site for Alchemist of the Mysterious Journey is having a countdown to launch festival with more content to come I guess.

UPDATE: Below the Vita clip is a new soundtrack extract with gameplay.

The Senran Kagura girls Pebble Beach Splash

Coming next March, certainly in Japan, Pebble Beach Splash is part of the Senran Kagura fifth anniversary celebrations, and does a take on Dead or Alive's Xtreme 3 Venus island "relaxation" game. With singing, dancing and splashy, splashy the intro is purely cosmetic, who knows what the game will involve, but it probably won't stray far from the current Senran engine.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Valkyria Azure Revolution rockets into action with new trailers

Sega's Valkyria Azure Revolution is picking up steam, as publishers now concentrate on promoting their 2017 releases. Not only does the game have a neat site with some enigmatic choral music but trailers are starting to pop up showing the RPG swords, guns and bombs battling game in action.

It looks pretty special, but I'm guess chances of a western release are few and far between considering Sega is pretty much done as a publisher with a glimmer of intelligence or dignity here. Hope someone else picks it up.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Steins Gate 0 trailer trashed

The early comments suggest that, somehow, this game lives up to the brilliance of the original. Steins Gate 0 will materialise on the 25th of November in Europe and 29th in North America thanks to PQube and should set a new standard for visual novels. Hopefully the sales will be better or as good on the original, and keep interest in the Vita going, especially when it comes to VNs.

Project Classic hopes to bring open world platforming to the Vita

It really does look like the Vita fan base is taking ownership of the handheld (seems rude to call it a Sony device these days).  Here's a first early look at a project being created by Vita fans.

UPDATE: The game now has a work-in-progress title of Warped

UPDATE: Here's a first WIP screen from the PS4, with word from the developer that the game is increasing in scope and features, with a full announcement expected in December. They describe it as "as the world of Rime with the vulgarity of Conker."

They say, "Project Classic is a PlayStation Vita game for Vita owners created by Vita owners. It will be reminiscent of classic 3D platforming games." In development for a month now, they plan a late 2017, early 2018 release.

Warlock's Tower has deadly steps for retro gamers

If you miss the greenish hue of GameBoy pixels, Warlock's Tower has you covered. A truly old-school RPG, it features 100 rooms of fiendish puzzles where every step you take costs a life - pretty harsh for a humble postie doing his job! The game will be out on Vita early next year.

UPDATE: This pixelly pleasure has now been updated with a spring release timeframe.

World of Final Fantasy launch trailer

Here we go, folks. What should be the biggest Vita release of the year is now out. Go get it on PSN or in stores. Square has put up a not-exactly new launch trailer to celebrate the launch and the promise of some free DLC. Still playing Dragon Quest Builders too much to get started on this, but early reviews and comments suggest that it has pretty much split Final Fantasy fans down the middle.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Kemco goes retro RPGing with Asdivine Hearts

Kemco is a legendary, yet smaller, name among the world of Japanese publishers, but it is still plugging away. Arriving early next year, Asdivine Hearts has been revealed on the PS Blog, although they say next to nothing about the game, other than its old-school with a very 16-bit look to it. They could at least explain what the name means.

The game arrived on Steam earlier this year, and there's more information on that page, highlighting the hand-drawn art and other features. There's also a lot better pictures - making me wonder if Sony don't really like this one.

Demetrios has a Cynical adventure on the Vita

Shimmying over from the PC, Demetrios is about to have a Big Cynical Adventure. Told in traditional adventure style, it packs in toilet humour and irreverence at every turn, with a bunch of interesting characters and a distinctly Parisian setting. Hopefully it won't cost more than the $9.99 you can currently get it on Steam, either way it is very well rated and well worth a look.

Updated with the PlayStation trailer, which is exactly the same as the original, just slightly more PlayStation-y, really guys?

UPDATE: The game will launch on Vita on 15th November (scratch that, delayed into December)

Sora arrives in World of Final Fantasy as free DLC

World of Final Fantasy is out this week and should be the biggest western Vita game of the year. Square is already stacking up the DLC with news that Sora, from Kingdom Hearts is making a guest appearance, and will be available as free downloadable content for the game this winter.

NIS America pops up a God Wars trailer

NIS America brings God Wars to western Vita owners in early 2017, with a new website and trailer to whet your appetite. The tactical RPG in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics and many others should provide a decent battling challenge as three nations fight it out over territory and for power.

Akiba's Beat and Berserk dated for early 2017

Both of these games have been on the 2017 part of the release list for some time, but with no specific dates. Now Tecmo has stepped forward to announced Berserk will release in the west on 24th February for the Vita with a digital release, while PQube is bringing us Akiba's Beat will be landing in the first quarter, with no word of a physical release.

Berserk will come with a set of bonus downloadable costume content for pre-orders. These include the White Swordsman and Golden Swordsman costumes for Guts, allowing him to switch out his famous Black Swordsman costume for a fresh look, the Golden Hawk and Black Hawk costumes for Griffith, replacing his bright white outfit for darker shades, and the Pirate and Blue Stripe costumes for Schierke, switching her dark robes for a more cheerful design.

Severed among the Vita games up for Canadian VG Awards

Canadian Vita owners, do your duty and do some voting, with Severed and Alone With You up for nominations for best handheld game at the Canadian Video Game Awards. You don't have long, until the 2nd of November to get your votes in. Both those games are also up for best Indie title and Best Canadian made game. FYI, Loud on Planet X is coming over to Vita at some point later.

The big event takes place on November 15th in Montreal where all Canada's leading developer lights get pissed and fall over, just like developers everywhere else (I'm guessing).

Best Mobile/Handheld Game

Alone With You (Benjamin Rivers Inc.)
Deus Ex GO (Square Enix Montreal)
Leap of Fate (Clever-Plays)
LOUD on Planet X (Pop Sandbox Inc.)
Severed (Drinkbox Studios)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Death Idol Game TV bombs in Japan's Media Create chart

Hopefully some games sold a few copies in Japan as the big selling season kicks in. Remember that across all areas, sales are down and falling fast for console games, and the landscape since the glory PSP days has changed irrevocably.

Macross Delta Scramble from Bandai raids the top five, in at No. 4, with 24,600 sales, just ahead of Reco Love Blue Ocean/Gold Beach with a reasonable 16,000. Idol Death Game TV pretty much bombs with 5,800 sales, which makes supporting new ideas just a little less likely for the Vita from Japanese publishers.

That said 3DS churns on, with over 21 million lifetime Japanese sales, even as the country gets ready for Switch next March, showing what loyalty to your product can get you. This week, despite all the chart activity, the Vita sold 8,850 in Japan, up just a few on last week.

Next week's arrival of WoFF might help some, but I guess all eyes are now on the new colours and limited editions in December to give sales a kick. Meanwhile over in Famitsu land, the latest review scores are in, with Gareth Noyce's Lumo getting creditable sevens across the board:

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Journey – 9/8/9/8 [34]
Lumo – 7/7/7/7 [28]

Last week's figures

Exile's End ends up on the Vita today

Exile’s End is a dark and futuristic 2D side-scroller that immediately brings back memories of Robocop and Shadow of the Beast to 16-bit era gamers. It offers a mix of adventure-style puzzles, tightly-controlled platforming, and dangerous aliens to take down. Through a combination of Marvelous, Xseed, Magnetic Realms and original PC developer Matt Fielding and his Japanese team, it is quite the all-star effort.

The game was developed as an homage to early ’90s action-adventure PC games, drawing heavy gameplay inspiration from classics of the genre as well as thematic influence from ’80s sci-fi films and anime. Boasting uniquely stylised cutscenes, multiple endings, and an atmospheric soundtrack by Keiji Yamagishi of Ninja Gaiden and Tecmo Super Bowl fame, Exile’s End will have players investigate a massive, interconnected alien world and experience a story filled with ancient riddles and modern-day hubris.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fate Extella confirmed for January release with physical LE

Fate Extella has been down as "early 2017" for a while now, and Marvelous have been good to their word with a January release date for the game that will have a physical release with some smart limited editions both for the PS Vita and PS4.

Players will experience the story of Fate Extella: The Umbral Star from the independent perspectives of the three heroine Servants and face off against foes from a variety of Fate productions, including characters from Fate/EXTRA, Fate/stay night, Fate/Zero, Fate/Apocrypha and Fate/Grand Order, in fast-paced action. The ‘Moon Crux’ battle mechanic debuts in this entry to match its series-first gameplay style, transforming the player-controlled Servants and granting them considerable powers that allow them to devastate enemies and take formidable challenges head-on. The game will contain the original Japanese voices with English text.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Oddworld Stranger's Wrath gets physical with Limited Run

Oddworld is one those fun series that refuses to give up the ghost, and rightly so. It is up there with Rayman as one of the most loveable and enduring platform series in gaming. New n Tasty has already sold out on Limited Run, so its only fair that the earlier editions get their time in the sun.

The series' 3D outing Stranger's Wrath enjoyed a HD remake on PSN in 2012, thanks to Just Add Water and now gets a fresh lease of life via Limited Run. Packing fearsome reversible artwork, a map, poker cards and the game in a format Sony can never take away from you, get ready to jump on this latest great boxed offering.

Suspect that the third game in the series, Munch's Oddysee HD won't be too far behind - sure the chronology is all screwed up, but enjoy these games forever in boxed format while you can.

Limited Edition SaGa Scarlet Grace models for Japan

By the quick application of some spray paint to the existing Vita models, Sony and Square have come up with a host of new styles for the release of SaGa Scarlet Grace. The red one is the real standout, with the others using fairly dull black on white or vice versa. Not a patch on the Metal Slime DQB bundle.

These hit Japan mid-December, check out all the different models of Vita available if your import budget stretches far enough.

Rogue Raiders, a Vita exclusive we all have to support

Okay, there's been a fair bit of excitement over action RPG Rogue Raiders in the last few weeks, the WIP screenshot news have been easily the most popular stories. But, now its time for the Vita family to put its money where its mouth is!

The Kickstarter is live now, and there's no hiding behind other formats. If we want this game, its down to Vita owners to back it! Cristina Ramos (aka Dangerous Alone) has already done spectacularly as a lone developer, the early work looks amazing, and her ideas for the game sound amazing.

It has already raised over €2K of its modest €33,000 goal in the first hours, but the community needs to donate, to share and to shout about this game. Not only to get it done, but to prove to other developers that the Vita is a viable option for their work.

No more talk, time for action! There are stretch goals, mostly aiming to add extra features, and get more developer support, but let's do this one step at a time.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Vita finally joins the Bridge Constructor crowd

Okay, this game was big on iOS years ago, but Bridge Constructor is finally coming to PS Vita and PS4 according to trophy listings. As I recall, it was fun but deeply frustrating during its five minutes of fame as the iPhone game de jour.

UPDATE: Original German developer Headup Games are working on the PlayStation versions, and reckon it will hit the Vita in January.

Its another one of these ghost releases, with no news from the publisher, no idea who the port developer is and so on. Still, it should be worth a blast, just to find how many ways there are NOT to build a bridge.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rice Digital may have some news at London ComicCon

Among its impressive line up of visual novels on show at MCM ComicCon in London (October 28-30) the company has a mystery announcement buried in its stage show schedule. The company is playing host to Marvelous Europe and its sister publisher PQube, so there's a fair chance it could be for the Vita.

12pm - Fate/EXTELLA Chat with Marvelous
1pm - Mystery Announcement & Game Presentation!
2pm - Root Letter Chat with PQube
3pm - Steins;Gate 0 with PQube
4pm - Tournament Top 4s!
5pm - Giveaway Extravaganza

Vita shopping guide for Christmas

If you're searching for a new Vita for the holidays, either as an upgrade, a kid's present or a Remote Play gadget for your PS4, then this is the place to find the best deals. I'll also cover the top games and best priced memory cards.

Scroll down for the Vita buying guide if you're new to the world of Sony's handheld.

UPDATE: This article is rapidly turning into the "where the hell can I buy a new Vita?" page, any updated offers below, newest at the top.... if you know where to buy a new Vita, please let me know. It looks like stores will not be getting any stocks once they are sold out!


Vita Slim Lego Star Wars Bundle €199


Target Stores have the Vita discounted to $139 (SOLD OUT)
Woot has an open box offer for the Vita at $89 (SOLD OUT)
Amazon has new Vita consoles (third party seller) in stock for $199 (UPDATE - SOLD OUT)
UPDATE: Amazon US has new stock, but the price is going up (by $10 so far), very limited stock.

Smyths has the PS Vita LEGO Action Heroes Pack for £175. (Out of stock everywhere, and the company comfirms no more are coming)
GAME Stores have some stock of the LEGO Action Heroes Pack for £169. (UPDATE - Sold out)
Amazon UK are out of stock of new Vita systems, used models only.
Argos has stock of LEGO bundles from £179 (SOLD OUT) some cheap games tho
Gameseek (Out of stock)
Checked many indie stores - no sign of any fresh stock.

EB Games has lots of titles going cheap

Buying Guide for PlayStation Vita

In terms of stock, no one seems to know (and Sony won't say) how long the Vita will remain on shelves for. Also, be aware that with the price of the UK pound still free-falling, UK retail prices could soon go up. The only advice on that basis is - get one while you can!

Certainly in the States, reports suggest they are few and far between, while here in the UK, online seems to be the place to shop. Individual consoles seem pretty thin on the ground, unless you want to go second hand, with plenty on eBay or through Amazon resellers. But there are still a few new bundles to be had, which nets you a memory card and a bunch of games.

NOTE: Some reviewers say these aren't coming with the 8GB memory card - do check it is included before you buy, and return it pronto if it doesn't! 

Don't buy a Vita expecting the latest western big-name games, Sony and major western developers have long since abandoned the Vita, but even launch games like Uncharted still stand up incredibly well. One-time Vita exclusives like Gravity Rush and Danganronpa may well now be coming to other formats, but the portable versions are still the go-to editions.

There are still 100s of indie and Japanese games still to come for the Vita running into 2018, and with a cheap back catalogue, second hand scene, and plenty of PSN sales - a new Vita will still provide a life time of gaming.


Since 2014, all Vita models have had a LCD display, if you can find an original 1000-class model new, then that has a blacker, brighter screen, with more pop. But the difference isn't massive and if you buy a new 2000-class model, you won't know there was ever a difference.

Vita Memory Cards

Despite their outrageous pricing, Sony has never noticeably cut the cost of memory cards for the Vita. The rule is buy the biggest you can afford, a 32-GB model will store plenty of games. The 64-GB models are Japanese imports as they were never officially released here.

Amazon has a range of cards or bundled cards with download codes for games, like the Disney or Mega packs to spice things up a bit, ideal if you are getting them for a gift, as the basic cards are pretty tiny and pointless on their own.

There's a suggestion that the 64-GB cards corrupt more easily than the others, so always keep a back up of you games and saves on a PC.

Grips and Docks

The Vita has a range of cases from hard plastic to canvas. There are also some grips available that can make it more comfortable to use, and add triggers to save tapping the rear screen on some games. They range from dirt cheap to modestly priced, just remember to check they are for your model of Vita - some generic types cater for both.

My launch day model has survived a few drops and bumps, but you definitely need a comfy case for road trips and travel, also somewhere to keep game cards is very handy to save rooting through your game cases.

Games and Content

I won't tell you what games to buy, there probably over 1,300 Vita titles so far. From PS one (100+), PlayStation Portable (250+) and Vita (650+) games available, depending on your region. Since it doesn't get the latest big-name games, you can spend plenty of time diving in and out of the back catalogue, with many games available cheap in retail and PSN sales.

When it comes to buying for children, the many LEGO games are perfect choices, as are Minecraft and Dragon Quest Builders for keeping them occupied with fun construction and adventuring. Ambient arcade games like Flower and Entwined also have appeal, while the likes of Fez, Lumo and Thomas Was Alone will appeal to older children.

Check my reviews to find games that match your interests. Here's a what to get in 2017 piece, if you wnat to think long term. Do note that some Vita games are available in physical form from stores, others are only available to download from PSN.

Physical copies could well increase in value over the years, and will boost the value of your Vita collection if you ever decide to sell it. Buy those if possible, especially if they are Limited Run titles with small production runs. Going physical will also save you messing about with lots of expensive memory cards as that collection grows.

The Vita is still very much a viable proposition for a gaming fan who's not just after the latest Call of Duty. With a gold mine of quality titles, it might not be for everyone, but it has the best gaming community since the Dreamcast and it annoys the hell out of Sony every time someone buys one, so go on!

A first look at Berserk on the Vita

Having done a pretty decent job with Attack on Titan, the early looks at Berserk: Band of the Hawk had me wondering how Team Ninja could get that working on the Vita. Again, there was no need for concern, as it looks pretty smooth, if a little muddy with more muted lighting than the big-screen version.

Obviously, this could be the high-effort first level and the game could badly fall down later on, but Berserk is yet more proof that the Vita has plenty of power in it, even if this is just a reskinned AoT game with some new tweaks, now characters don't have to fly through the air at high speed! The game is out in Japan next week and comes west in 2017.

Just for comparison here's the latest clip from the PS4 version in action, having a boss fight.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Creating Root Letter, a producer's view

PQube continues to deliver content to get the west excited about its upcoming visual novel Root Letter. Unlike all the other Japanese games slavishly set in Akihabara or some other trendy area, the rural scenes and pastoral music for Root Letter set it apart. But, just because something is set outside the big cities, perhaps with hints of older world Japan, doesn't mean it can't make for a great story.

10 Tons posts a short clip on Neon Chrome in action

There's a huge list of indie games still plodding their way out to the Vita, and its always cool when one turns up after a period of wondering if it will make it or no. Neon Chrome is the latest to show itself, a top down shooter with those must-have rogue elements may explode onto PSN in November if all goes well.

Will Nintendo's Switch be the Vita 2 Sony never made?

Sony had lots of good ideas with the Vita (and several duff ones). A powerful portable, practically a mobile device, playable on TV (when PS TV arrived). It had Remote Play for a few PS3 and then all PS4 games, and eventually supported apps, indie developers and smaller games, alongside the big titles.

Crap app support, horrible WiFi speed, proprietary memory cards and failing to market it were just some of the drawbacks.

Nintendo, with a longer legacy in portable gaming has always kept things low power, stayed away from bringing the big-screen experience to the smaller screen, it has also fudged its way through recent generations, with the botched 3D effect on the 3DS, and a continued failure to encourage third parties outside of Japan and so on.

Believe it or not, the people at these companies are pretty smart. It is just politics and some inner-need to be "different" that screw things up. Xbox One's media focus, Wii U's name, PlayStation 3's Cell obsession and so on are among the big ticket cock-ups.

UPDATE: Within a few weeks of the announcement, lots of indies seem to be flocking to the Switch as their next port of call. No matter how many of their big-name games EA or Activision brings, it looks like Switch will be the next home for indie devs and a massive array of titles.

Which brings us to today's Nintendo news, the company that has a lot riding on whatever hybrid device NX turns out to be. We know it won't be a PS4 and X1 challenger, in the raw power stakes, even though the new Hyrule trailer looks pretty swish. Consensus is NX will combine portable and TV gaming, but how, we'll find out soon.

UPDATE: The console is called Switch and splits out its controllers so you can use it like a Vita, as a small screen with wireless controls (Joy-Con), or plug it into the big screen via a dock and play with a proper controller. Watch the video, its easier to explain that way. In part it's a gaming tablet, with a decent screen size. Specs should follow soon, although Nvidia chips are running the show.

The press release says, "Developers can design their games supporting a variety of play styles, which gives gamers the freedom to choose an experience that best suits them." which I guess most developers will hate or ignore - look how many used the Vita or Wii U camera.

If done rightly, this could easily become a device that has massive broad appeal across age groups and types of gamer, courting mobile, retro and modernistas. With Sony out of the portable space, the floor is Nintendo's - don't balls it up chaps!

Hopefully there are more colour options than dull grey, and while there's a modest list of publishing and middleware partners, to show Nintendo is truly in the groove, there really should be a massive list of indies too!

Does this set the stage for Sony to push a PlayStation 4 Portable remote play device, at least to keep 5.5 million Japanese Vita owners in the family (by the time Switch arrives)? Or, is the company too defeated and embarrassed to try? As it is, Vita owners still playing may have dozens of games they treasure, so won't just ditch Vita at the first sight of a new Nintendo. However, Switch is a logical upgrade path that Sony has gifted portable gamers to move on to.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea comes west in January

Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is coming to the Vita in January with a neat £49 Limited Edition thanks to NIS America. The game tells the tale of Shallistera, the daughter of a tribal leader who embarks on a voyage to find a cure for her ailing father, and Shallotte, a struggling alchemist who wishes to bring success to her family’s Atelier.

They both are joined by a diverse cast of characters which will help them throughout their journey. Players will encounter the quick-thinking Kortes, Shallistera’s childhood friend and bodyguard, Wilbell voll Erslied, a magician in training, Jurie Crotze, a lone-wolf treasure hunter, and Miruca Crotze, a childhood friend of Shallotte’s who works as a blacksmith.
Limited Edition Includes:
Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemist of the Dusk Sea Physical PS Vita game
Alchemist Handbook (48-page softcover art book)
Original Soundtrack (30 tracks)
Microfiber cloth (6" x 6")
Collector's box

Game DLC Includes:
Administrator's Battle Outfit
Atelier Series Special BGM Pack - Famitsu bonus
Atelier Series Special BGM Pack - Dengeki bonus
Shallotte Costume ”Hero Girl”
Shallistera Costume "COSMO FIGHTER"
Premium Box Bonus for Shallistera, Sophie Style
Premium Box Bonus for Shallotte, Plachta Style

Mary Skelter dashes into the Media Create chart

The latest Media Create chart is out in Japan, as we hit full bore release season, Mary Skelter is the only Vita entry at No. 4, selling 18,500, not far behind Paper Mario Color Spash and Tomb Raider. Out tomorrow in Japan are Macross Delta Scramble, Idol Death Game TV and Reco Love.

Vita sales continue their gentle decline to 8,772 for the week, with only World of Final Fantasy likely to give it a boost before the new colours arrive. PlayStation VR sold 51,000 units, with PS4 sales up over 30,000.

Also out today, the latest Famitsu scores for a bit of a laugh, given that Berserk on Vita scores the same score as the PS4 version - is it really as good? Guess we'll find out when the gameplay clips turn up on YouTube. SAO gets the same score as the PS4 version too, do they even check? Most of these are out next week on the 27th.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk  – 9/9/9/8 [35]
My Teen Romantic Comedy  – 8/7/7/8 [30]
Neo Atlas 1469 – 8/8/10/7 [33/40] (yep, a 10 from one reviewer)
Saka Agari Hurricane Portable – 7/7/7/6 [27]
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization  – 9/8/7/8 [32]

Smach Z handheld hits Kickstarter again, races toward goal

I talked about the Smach Z last year when its Kickstarter was cancelled as the creators considered their options. Many months on, and they are having another go, with a slightly more refined offering. Still powered by Steam OS, it brings Linux PC, with a Windows 10 option, gaming in a truly mobile format.

While we can argue all day about the games coming to it, and the potential for emulators and piracy, and so on. The huge interest on day 1, $200K of its $250K main goal shows there's plenty of interest in portable gaming, if a company is brave enough to find the market!

Check out the new campaign and imagine a Vita 2 with these innards!

UPDATE: The campaign has passed its first funding goal!

Square fixes SaGa Scarlet Grace load times

Ahead of its December release, Square Enix shows it is capable of handing criticism (sometimes) by already patching the load time issues that were causing grumpy comments from players at the company's TGS booth. A new video shows the update shaves a few seconds off load times, but it still isn't exactly what you'd call spritely.

Anyway, since Square is fixing its cock-ups, let's build that list:

  • I am Setsuna Vita release
  • Western release for Dragon Quest Heroes I and II
  • Tomb Raider and Deus Ex Go please
  • Final Fantasy: Crisis Core remaster
  • Oh, and if we could get the Limited Edition of SSG over here, that'd be cool too
  • Cross Play/Save for DQB and WoFF

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Exist Archive gets a western launch trailer

With a physical and PSN release, Exist Archive is all over the place today. You may have seen the screenshots earlier. Now, here's the official launch trailer for the game, showing off a few clips of in-game battling from the Aksys game localiser team who's sturdy work got the game over here.

Unworded adventure due a Vita release

Bento Games has won many awards for the concept of its unWorded,  a narrative tale that's pretty strange even by modern indie standards. According to the game's site, the story is about a book writer, who was hospitalised after a serious accident. As his wife at his bedside reads fairy tales of his own creation, the player is in his mind, sharing his last thoughts as he reminisces about his life and work, standing with him at the death's door.

The game is mentioned for Vita, after the iOS release, I'm checking with the developer for any details. It is developed in Unity, but doesn't seem to be doing anything that would overly tax the Vita hardware.

Berzerk opening movie

I'm going light on coverage of Berserk because I suspect the Vita version will be a somewhat reduced effort compared to all the gloss off the PS4 trailers. As it is, Band of the Hawk still looks pretty meaty.

Here's the main trailer for those keen on the headed-west in '17 release from Tecmo. Can't go wrong with the scope of the game, and while I admired Tecmo's effort on Attack on Titan, this just seems bigger and bolder for the little old Vita to cope with - hope I'm wrong but we can all still enjoy the trailer in full fidelity.

Akiba's Beat coming with Japanese and English voices

XSEED Games had a little news from its AkibaFest in Little Tokyo, with Akiba’S Beat coming west with dual audio voiceover support, including both English and Japanese language dialog options covering each of its nearly 22,000 spoken lines. Among the voice artists are Alexis Tipton (pictured), Brittney Karbow, Chris Patton and Ed Bosco.

Both voiceover languages will be present on-disc for the PS4, while Vita owners can download the Japanese-language voiceovers separately as a free DLC item. In addition, the company announced that the game’s “cute little uggo” mascot character, Pinkun, will phase into reality as a 3.5” tall pocket plushie that will come with all pre-orders at participating retailers while supplies last.

The game is due to land in Q1 2017. There are two sides to the gameplay: first, players will wander the streets and question the quirky Akihabara residents on a variety of subjects related to the mystery at hand, ultimately unlocking fantasy-themed dungeons known as “Delusionscapes” which are infested with monsters called “deluseons.” These deluseons are encountered on the map and fought in a party-based action battle system, putting players’ skills to the test and creating a uniquely challenging experience that seamlessly blends a real-life locale with the secret delusory world of its residents’ innermost desires.

Exist Archive crosses EU PSN to The Other Side of the Sky

Spike and Tri-Ace RPG Exist Archive, translated by the kind folk at Aksys is now available in the west, with a blend of 3D, 2D and what looks like hand-drawn art. The 3.2GB game, subtitled The Other Side of the Sky is an RPG where Kanata and friends have been imbued with pieces of the dark god, Yamatoga's soul.

To find out why they have this curse/gift, they are sent to Protolexa, battling enemies while searching for teammates, completing quests and side events. The game features 50 hours of gameplay, Dual voice with both English and Japanese, power ups, skill customizations, hidden dungeons and secret items.

The game is currently £26 for PS+ subscribers. If you don't have 3GB spare the retail version is rather more expensive, as a US import, since there's no EU retail version.

Gust goes live action for Blue Reflection

There are only so many angles you can take on Japanese school girls pouting in anime clips, so Gust has gone one better and roped in some live action footage for the upcoming Blue Reflection. Classed as a heroic RPG, I'm guessing its in the touchy feely vein, with the girls having magical powers to do battle.

Hopefully we'll get to see some proper action soon!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Gust presents new Nights of Azure 2 trailer

Coming December, Nights of Azure 2 has a very rocking soundtrack. This first full trailer of Gust's latest PS4 and Vita epic also shows off a range of beasties, leaning to the strange and unusual, being taken down by some extremely under-dressed ladies and their fearsome pets.

Latest images from Rogue Raiders

As this gorgeous looking team shooter heads toward Kickstarter, Christina Ramos keeps kicking out teaser images showing off just how impressive it looks, frankly incredible for a one-dev effort. The campaign is promised soon, and as a Vita-exclusive will need the majority of the active Vita community chipping in to get this done.

Whatever you can do by way of encouragement, sharing and getting the word out, please do so, so that this awesome looking game can get made. Previous images here and here.

Review: Dragon Quest Builders

The big sell for Dragon Quest Builders is oh so easy. This game is Minecraft with a proper RPG bolted on. However, even through the development and preview process, there was a fear that Square Enix would somehow blow the deal.

Of course, it is easy to forget that these guys are RPG masters, with decades of experience. They also roped in Kazuya Niinou of Etrian Odyssey fame to help with the story. And, at its heart, Minecraft isn't that hard to replicate. So, in the demo, and now the full game, it quickly becomes apparent that masterful hands have been at work. They have effortlessly combined the best of both worlds and creating a thing of beauty.

Not just for a hardened cynical gamer, but my daughter (age 8, who's previous Vita love was Tearaway) finds DQB captivating and blissfully brilliant to engage with, thanks to its clever tutorials.

Dragon Questing Made Fun

While Minecraft was relatively characterless, Dragon Quest Builders starts off in traditional RPG style. Boy or girl? Costume colours, and give them a name, "Bob" in my case. There's no classes or gear to pick, but you'll pick some up as you go.

The story and crafting elements are dovetailed neatly as a scattered bunch of humans find themselves barely surviving in a world of dragons and monsters. With some divine intervention, Bob has to rebuild a shattered village and then help restore humanity via a series of increasingly demanding missions. They balance the need to forage, to stay healthy, to build and to fight.

Each chapter is set in a different part of the world, with a major reset of your skills and inventory. However, new items, materials and a whole new story keep you pushing forward, keen to find out what's on the menu next. Once you finish chapter one, you can play in Terra Incognito mode, kind of like free play, with some social sharing elements, but no multiplayer construction.

Being Dragon Quest, there's a healthy dose of retro about the whole thing. The game looks just as good on Vita as it does on PS4, but the sound effects and transitions are as eight-bit as it gets, making for some exquisite touches.

While there's no multiplayer, the villagers do start to help out soon enough, as you build kitchens, forges, supply rooms. armouries and other extensions. Not bad for what started out as a door and some mud. True pride can be taken in a thriving village, and you can spend as much time as you like project managing as you can on the adventure.

Combat is real time, and a little chaotic, as it should be, with characters swinging swords and hammers around with abandon. The bigger creatures require a little strategy to take down, but they bring their own spiky charm to the game. They also provide more items for skills that can help you zip around the landscape faster, improve your health or gear, and much, much more.

Plenty of quests and side quests mean it never gets boring, but there are some big threats to your Cantlin Island home, such as boulder throwing golems and the inevitable dragon horde. However you play the game, as a Minecraft-lite or an RPG it will never feel as deep as a dedicated title, but makes up for it with so much charm,

It is hard not to feel heroic when standing atop an copper-rich mountain, or to get that Indiana Jones vibe as you see a treasure chest inside a spooky hollow. And with many islands to explore via portal, and with grand constructions to oversee, even once the main game is over it is hard to see Dragon Quest Builders ever getting boring.

If you complete the main game, then there are plenty of missions that reveal themselves when you complete a chapter to add extra challenge, and the freeplay mode lets you build in relative piece and quiet.

If there is an annoyance, there is no imagination shown in the rewarding of trophies, which is a shame. And it can be way too easy to bump into the same person repeatedly, press X and trigger the same old conversation. But, these are tiny issues in a game bathed in wonderful light that is so easy to play and viciously hard to let go of. 

Score: 10/10
More reviews
Price: £29.99 (PSN)
Developer: Square Enix
Progress: Island hopping

Quick Play: World of Final Fantasy demo

What a pleasant thing to wake up to on a Monday morning, the Word of Final Fantasy demo (565MB) is live around the world of PSN stores (update, not until Friday in the US and Canada, sorry North America!). A quick run through shows plenty of typical FF turn-based battles, cute mirages to help build up your team and lots of over-eager American voice actors taking things far too seriously (Tip: Settings, Cut Scene Voices - Off, or switch to Japanese voices).

In play, Reynn and Lann roam around the ramparts of some hilltop fort, meeting a host of familiar FF characters, while on the look out for Mirages to "imprism" or capture, Pokemon-style and enemies to bash. Your Mirages can transform into more powerful creatures throughout the game, 

Stacking is how you expand your team, and while it looks ludicrous having a queue of animals on your head, this is Final Fantasy. You can speed up combat by holding down the right trigger, which is more than welcome, and speed around the map on a Chocobo.
While Dragon Quest Builders looks very much on par with the PS4 version, there are clearly a few sacrifices here and there in WoFF. Still, since we don't have Crisis Core to play on the Vita, guess this will have to do, and it looks a fun enough adventure, if you can put aside Square's lurch into cuteness and those so-eager voices.
Even a quick look at the screenshots reveals lots of jagged character edges as they move in and out of the scenery, and the ground does have a peculiar shimmer about an inch up the screen. But there's nothing too ugly, especially as you focus on hunting for hidden treasure chests.
Musically, there's some soaring anthems to get you in the mood for questing. While there are some short loading scenes, cute animations make them less of a pain.

The demo takes about half an hour to play through, it doesn't sell the game as well as the DBQ teaser, but gives a fair idea of the adventure ahead.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Meet the cast of Root Letter

PQube is very much on the case with Root Letter, a murder mystery that bucks the gung-ho trend of many visual novels we get in the west to take a more gentle approach, After showing off the limited editions, this week, they introduce the cast.

Fumino Aya
Born in Tokyo an only child, Fumino Aya is a senior at high school who loves history and mythology. She’s also the lead character’s (that’s you!) pen pal from 15 years ago. Back then, she came across as kind and compassionate – but as you investigate her disappearance, you begin to question everything you thought you knew about her.
Ishihara Yukari
The daughter of an advertising exec and a waitress at a diner – Yukari grew up to be curator at the Shimane Art Museum. Always in the shadow of her older sister who had the privilege of going to a prestigious university, she developed something of an inferiority complex. Now that she’s gown up and her career is going well, she’s a little more optimistic.
Omori Jun
Dedicated to the art of making exquisite pastries and sweets, Omori owns one of the best patisseries in Shimane. He has a kind and gentle demeanour, but does this hide a dark secret? Fun Fact: The Pastry shop in Root Letter is actually based on a real world shop called Patisserie Galette. Thestor’s primary mission is to make French pastries that suit the Japanese palette!
Tanaka Kousuke
Mild mannered and suffering from lack of confidence, Tanaka has a mild speech impediment. As a kid he was always the smartest boy in school and was destined for great things. Then all of a sudden his grades started to crash. What was it that happened 15 years ago that ruined his once-perfect academic record?
Watanabe Masaya
One minute he was high school’s star athlete dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player. The next minute he’s injured and consigned to the side-lines. The tragedy was too much to take and so he fell in with the wrong crowd and was destined for a life of petty crime. Now, as an adult, he’s turned himself around, teaching PE at the local school. What was it that brought him back from the brink?
Murakami Misaki
A television presenter for a local channel, Misaki’s family runs a sake brewery. She is sometimes a little blunt and rude and craves the life of a serious news reporter. She believes that she must be impartial and report the truth – but isn’t that just a little hypocritical given the events of the past?
Nozu Shota
Shota was a spoilt kid who had a life of wealth and privilege. When his father’s company brought shame on itself or being involved in fraud, Shota went from having it all to being on the brink of poverty. He now works as a bartender, which is hardly where thought his future would be. You can’t blame him for being bitter, but why does Shota still blames someone else for his misfortune?
Sasaki Riko,
Riko is just an average housewife married to an average guy – which is a long way from where she wanted to be. Pretty and talented, she always wanted to be an actress, so that she could become rich and famous and look after her parents. Still, her daughter looks like she may be following her dreams for her, but… is that a hint of jealousy we detect?