Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Neon Chrome

This is the 80s right (possibly the 2080s)? Everything is lit with garish neon and synthesiser beats dominate the audioscape. Neon Chrome is a building, an archology to be exact, and the bastion of the mighty Neon Corp. This dictatorial regime which needs its ass hacking off and handed to it (anyone remember Max Headroom?).
As an agent of change, you enter the battle, armed with a pop-gun and some hacking skills, and then you die after a very brief tutorial. Only to be reborn as a new asset, one of 96 random characters, a hacker, psycho, soldier, tech or other that helps change your approach to the game, as you aim to master 30-odd levels of increasingly tough techno insanity. Neon Chrome is already highly variable, with random levels and challenges laid down by the evil Overseer who you aim to topple. This gives the game its deriguer roguelike nature, as your build up assets and skills, buy power-ups and try to defeat the chunky end of level guardians.

Given the game now plays in 4K on PS4 Pro, the Vita's screen does struggle a bit to show Neon Chrome to its best. But, some big-explosion slow down aside, at least those neons really pop on the OLED as you get to grips with this twin stick, sometimes-tactical, shooter. And it looks like to toughen up the end, quick run throughs are a no-no as you always have to destroy a certain number of power units to escape.

Yes, the lines are a little jaggy, and the text pretty titchy, but the raw experience of the game is there. As you storm each floor to find the keys to progress up the express elevator to hell, there's lots to loot, hack and kill, with augmentations to improve your asset's skills. Melee attacks can be used when drones or guards get too close, essential if you need to reload in the middle of a close-quarter battle.

Do you go for speed, stealth or take the destructive route around each level? Handily there's a few trophies for all these approaches, but the actual levels soon become repetitive and there's all those tempting desktops and machines that you "could" hack, but remain resolutely inactive. That takes something away from the game, would have been a great way to add some back story and depth to these relatively anonymous levels.

Finally, there's the music. While indie games struggle to match their AAA cousins in visual spectacle, they can leave them standing with epic scores, and Neon Chrome is something I could listen to, all day every day, pretending to be a secret agent or digital warrior.

Score: 8/10
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Price: £11.99 (PSN)
Developer: 10 Tons
Progress: Stopped the Overseer

New Macross Delta Scramble clips

Bandai is hyping its new Delta Macross game with a bunch of gameplay and intro videos. guess this is for DLC or the v1.02 update that has just landed, as the game itself has been out for a while. Light the burners and enjoy.

Three games for Vita on PS+ in December

A decent line up of Vita games for the first time in a while with Tiny Troopers Joint Ops, Color Guardians and former Flash game VVVVVV on Vita or via various Cross Buy shenanigans. The full line up is on the PS blog, guess its the same in the States and Europe, as usual.

SD Gundam and Samurai Warriors storm the Japanese charts

While nothing can touch Pokemon, for a few weeks at least, Vita games continue to match their PS4 and PS3 equivalents in the new Media Create chart from Japan. SD Gundam series continues to sell well, although down on the PSP SD editions, while the latest Samurai Warriors has a pretty poor start to life. The latest Code Realize also gets into the top 10.

01./01. [3DS] Pokemon Sun / Moon (Pokemon Co.) - 375.665 / 1.966.294 (-76%)
02./00. [PSV] SD Gundam G Generation Genesis (Bandai) - 88.324 / NEW
03./00. [PS4] SD Gundam G Generation Genesis (Bandai) - 87.568 / NEW 

04./00. [PS4] Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru (Koei Tecmo) - 26.682 / NEW
06./00. [PSV] Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru (Koei Tecmo) - 13.049 / NEW
07./00. [PS3] Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru (Koei Tecmo) - 11.040 / NEW
09./00. [PSV] Code: Realize - Shukufuku no Mirai (Idea Factory) - 8.250 / NEW
16./13. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition (Mojang) - 5.628 / 925.955 (+19%)
19./04. [PSV] Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star (Marvelous) - 3.929 / 86.224 (-58%)

On the hardware side, those new releases, plus presumably some early sales action in Japan sees Vita sales up over 3,000 on last week shifting 12,250 on the week. Expect a big drop for this week as everyone waits for the new colours, then Vita needs some of those sharp rises to get it over a million for the year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

God Wars story trailer

There can't be anything bigger than God Wars, right? Surely it'd be a cosmic scale slug fest that no mortal would know about until the lights went out. So, why are these dinky little characters involved? Check out the story trailer to find out what's going on, and visit the NIS America game site for details on the characters and how they fight.

First week of December is massive for Vita

In Japan, on 6th December Sony releases two new colour models of Vita, plus the Minecraft limited edition. Between them, then need to help Sony shift about 250,000 units to boost the handheld's sales up over a million for 2016, a barrier it has managed to beat for the last three years. That should provide a solid indicator to Japanese developers who will continue to support the Vita for the foreseeable future.

Before then, America hosts PSX 2016, in Anaheim, California on December 3 and 4. Vita owners will be hanging on for a couple of bones thrown by Sony's developer friends to keep the handheld in western developed titles. Last year, it was Double Fine with a couple of classic adventures (we still wait for Full Throttle) and Square Enix with the fun-packed Hitman Go.

As experienced Vita owners will know, we expect nothing, yet hope for something. The lack of Vita hardware on the shelves is increasingly worrying. Does Sony have a new budget bundle in the works to replace depleted stock or is that it for western hardware sales? If there's nothing being sold, then even smaller western developers will think twice about expending effort on a console with no visibility. On the plus side, some in-progress titles will be on show to remind others that it exists.

Between the two events, plus a few days for sales data to come out of Japan, we'll get a feel for how the Vita will go in 2017. There's already a modest list of games on the release list, but with the Nintendo Switch on the way, any developer with an eye on the future will likely be ready to walk away from the Vita without a good reason to support it, no matter how vocal the community.

UPDATE: Looks like a pattern is taking shape here, a trophy leak shows Lara Croft Go will release on the Vita. Despite the out of order nature of release, that's good because it means Hitman Go sold enough to make it worth Square'e Montreal studio crank out another port.

All we need is a couple of adventures and perhaps a PS2/3 era port and the Vita is good to go for another year. Personally, I'd love to see one of the PS2's or PSP's classic racers like Burnout or Midnight Club get a new lease of life. Perhaps some Grandia or Xenosaga along the way. Let us know what you'd love from the archives!

A first look at Clockwork Ley Line from Dramatic Create

I guess 2017 will be heavy with lots of these revamps of old games, it takes less time to code, is easy to recreate old art assets and rakes in the cash. Tokeijikake no Ley Line is a trilogy of old PC visual novels being tarted up by Dramatic Create. It packs in the usual suspects of witchy school girls, draughty corridors, bears and monsters. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ten minutes of Black Wolves Saga chat and weather

Black Wolves Saga: Black and White continues to get a lot of interest from western gamers. Even without sight of a translation, the Japanese version from Idea Factory and Otomate hits Japan next year and if there's enough hype could well sneak west.

Check out the game site for a little more detail. This clip packs in plenty of fine visual detail, dramatic music, background effects and a dose of weather to help liven up the JP chit chat.

Steins Gate 0 tops UK Vita retail chart

Who knows how many it actually sold, but Steins Gate 0 is popular enough to dethrone Minecraft, which held off the challenge of recent new releases. The PQube published visual novel from 5pb and Nitro+ is the only new release, but a host of reentries across the top 20 including FIFA and Persona 4 suggest that Christmas presents are being snapped up.

A shame SG0 didn't dent the all-formats chart, but the action is fierce with all the big name games doing roaring sales. Certainly Vita hardware sales are up, with many offers having sold out over the Black Friday sales, so far. And that's with old PS4 stock and Xbox One deals being sold for not much more than a Vita, impressive stuff!


Inevitable EU PSN Cyber Monday offers, Lumo is cheap in Digital Flash sale!

Doesn't the term Cyber Monday sound so crap and out of date? To dodge the phrase, the EU PSN has gone with the term Digital Flash, which is a bit better. Anyway, if you haven't picked up Lumo before, now is the perfect time as the game is 2/3rds off at only £5.49 on PSN and HELLDIVERS: Super-Earth Ultimate Edition is only £7.99. Other highlights include Crypt of the NecroDancer for £4.99 and Croixleur Sigma for £3.99.
Note last week's Black Friday offers expire at midnight tonight, if you missed out on any deals.

Also on offer are: A Boy and His Blob, CounterSpy, Entwined, Flower, flOw, Grim Fandango Remastered, Hitman GO: Definitive Edition, Jetpack Joyride, Nidhogg, Race the Sun, Rainbow Moon, RESOGUN, Retro City Rampage DX, Rocketbirds 2: Evolution, Sky Force Anniversary, SteamWorld Heist, Tetris Ultimate and a few more.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Review La-Mulana EX

How's this for retro? La Mulana comes with a 4 by 3 aspect ratio, the Vita's widescreen padded out by some arty user-selectable backgrounds. In the middle of that is the dinky hero, Lemeza Kosugi who you'd be forgiven for thinking was Indiana Jones, or perhaps Fred, or Rick Dangerous, if your gaming habits go back a few decades.

What is certain is that La Mulana is another tough challenge for a generation of Vita owners brought up recently on Rogue Legacy, Spelunky and now Flame Over. This time, much of the toughness comes from layers of clues and puzzles buried across maps and multiple screens as you try to advance. Fortunately, this being a really old game (originally out in 2005 on PC in Japan), there are plenty of guides online.

One of the new features for this EX version is that the levels are more easily accessible, but that you means you can get into trouble that much faster. You really need to potter around the opening screens first, collecting all the requisite goodies from the shops, including a scanner, translator, a gun, weights and other essentials.

Your laptop (quite the modern adventurer, this chap) has limited RAM and you can only run so many programs at once, another part of juggling in the challenge. Once you do go exploring, the flip-screen design means you're popping back and forth between levels, looking for enemies to whip, shuriken or shoot (funkier weapons can be found further in the game), traps to trigger, or avoid, and ways to solve each tricky puzzle, and there are many of them.

Working out the clues will generally get you facing a major monster sooner or later, and you need to conserve (and boost) your health getting past the minions to compete in these major battles. Once you work out a bosses' routine you can figure out how to finish them off, but there's a lot of trial and effort, and save points are few and far between.

Playing is initially a pain with some very old conventions stuck to by the game. Once you jump, you can only adjust your glide on the way down. And lots of deaths may discourage you, but as you get used to the mechanics and the tough bosses, there is  perverse fun to be had.

Score 7/10
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Price: £11.99 on PSN
Dev: Pygmy/ Rising Start
Progress: Blaming it on the Moonlight

Neon Chrome lights up the Vita next week

While I updated the release list earlier, I didn't have time for a proper piece on Neon Chrome coming to the Vita next week. The game looks awesome on PC and iPad, and must incredible in 4K on a PS4 Pro, let's just hope the Vita's OLED screen and aging CPU is up to the task.

You get some idea from a very short clip taking off-screen with a Vita from October, with the top-down cyberpunk shooter looking pretty impressive. Will you go in all guns blazing or use cybernetic abilities to fight your way through to take down the Overseer?

Steins Gate 0 launch trailer

Yep, pretty much the most anticipated visual novel is out today in Europe and the US. And, here's a new launch trailer from PQube. The original was a true classic and the reviews for the new one are pretty positive too. Can't wait to try it myself!

Wand of Fortune otome trailer

Chalk up another one for Idea Factory's endless list of otome games in Japan. Wand of Fortune II is based on a 2008-era anime set in a school of magic with the usual range of students that poor newcomer Lulu has to investigate/romance while doing her potions and defence against the dark arts (possibly) classes! The game is out on the 3rd of March in Japan.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Vita games on show at #PSX16

Remember, Sony doesn't do handhelds. So, why not take yours to PlayStation Experience in Anaheim this year and remind them about it. Even better take thousands of photocopies of a Vita and leave them all over the show floor with a "Missing!" logo over it.

No one is expecting any Vita news from Sony, but there are a few blank slots in the presentation line up, just in case anyone believes in miracles. Last year we got Hitman Go plus Full Throttle and Day of the Tentacle, so a couple more games along those lines would be welcome

On the plus side, some Vita games will be on show, tucked away in basements or back rooms. Check out Fallen Legion for one and Cosmic Star Heroine. Will update if any more stick their head out of the secret entrance. Heart Forth Alicia, Shakedown: Hawaii, Salt and Sanctuary, Jenny LeClue among others will be there in some form, and I expect Limited Run will have some news.

UPDATE: Ska has confirmed that Salt and Sanctuary for Vita will be on show.

UPDATE:  Vita supporters Greg and Colin from the PS I Love You podcast will be doing a live show, so expect some Vita love from them. 12:00pm on 4th December! We can join in the fun on a livestream.

Check out the pretty Fate Extella DLC costumes

Fate Extella from Marvelous gets another batch of DLC, guess Thursday is extra content day in Japan at the moment. They have a bunch of new costumes, some bright, some stylish and some pretty boring really. Hopefully all of this stuff will be baked into the western release.

UPDATE: Yep, more DLC - will it never end? Looking good in suits while clobbering bad guys!

UPDATE: Here's the third in this apparently never ending series of DLC trailers.

Sega's Valkyria Azure Revolution gets launch DLC

Hitting Japan in January, Valkyria Azure Revolution will come with a big of extra DLC for day one. As highlighting in this brief video, there's special skills and rewards for early buyers, plus a fully voiced extra story. I don't think there's word of a western release, and given Sega has been pretty shit of late, don't expect on.

Black Friday Vita offers up on EU PSN

If you have any cash left, go spend it. There's Lego, Jak and Daxter or Ratchet and Clank trilogies (for £6.49), Digimon, GTA, Killzone, Civilization (£7.99), Gundam, Unit 13 (for just £3.99) and much more. Check out my Black Friday and Christmas sales page for store deals elsewhere (US, Aus and EU). Deals are live until the 28th, when I guess slightly different Cyber Monday sales will kick in.

For newer games, hope Sony does its 12 deals of Christmas again!

UPDATE:  THE US PSN Flash sale offering is almost identical to the EU one, good if you like collections and RPGS!

Media Create chart and sales from Japan

This week Vita sales drop as expected, with new colours and models hitting Japan on 6th December. So, selling 9,191 units isn't too bad. On the Media Create software chart, its Pokemon time again, approaching over 1.7 units across Sun and Moon, so nothing much else gets a look in.

On the Vita front, Hakuoki: Yuugi Roku sneaks into the top 20 with around just 3,200 sales. while Fate Extella shifts another 8,700 to stick around the top five on an otherwise quiet week. Out today in Japan are id: Rebirth Session (Entergram) and Money Hungry Princess (NIS), but all eyes are on the 6th for some big Vita sales to drag it toward a million for the year.

Last week's chart info.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Rogue Raiders goes PC after Vita KS comes up short

Firstly, kudos to Christina Martin for even trying to launch a Vita Kickstarter, especially one as impressive looking as Rogue Raiders. Her campaign was smart, the game looked cool and she responded well to comments, despite some unwarranted hostility. But, even with the support of most Vita sites, getting 267 backers and only €8,000 in funding was well short of the goals.

Perhaps the online element spooked potential backers, certainly from what I could see, or there was little way to get others interested who aren't in this fun little community. Whatever, it makes for a tough future.

Goodbye furry fellow, we barely knew you!
Firstly, we're unlikely to see a Vita only Kickstarter again, so expect to be clinging to those stretch goals. Generally, even those have declined this year, so if you see a Vita goal for a game, back it before they vanish for good. If anyone does fancy a Vita-led Kickstarter, make sure the game is easily recognisable as a concept, and is well on the road to completion.

Secondly, Rogue Raiders will now head to PC to get wider backing on Steam, and will hopefully appear on the Vita is there is enough interest and Christina has the time to make a port. Backers of the KS, who haven't lost any money (some people seem to have a hard time getting that point) will be invited to early access!

Thanks again Christina, it was a fun ride, shame it didn't work out.

Rogue Aces gets a new battle clip

Remember Luftrausers? Miss that kind of seat of the pants flying action? Enter Rogue Aces (formerly Wing Kings) from Infinite State. The all-action shooter hits the Vita in early 2017 and has a fantastic voice over, as you can hear in the lower clip.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review: Exile's End

Ahhh, old school, there you are - we've been expecting you. Annoying respawning enemies, minimal health and gear, a map that doesn't really help and a procession of running back and forth. Yet, yet, Exile's End is bizarrely pure, removing most of modern gaming's trappings, making it pretty challenging and rather clever. So don't dismiss it, just because there isn't an item crate every five paces and big arrows saying "go here."

Exile's End features graphics, tunes and design by a few Japanese design legends, with Magnetic Realms at the helm, but to be honest they could come from the pen or keyboard of any smart indie. However, it does feel authentically old-school, and I keep longing to dash off and play a spot of Turrican or Another World.

Its another, you've crashed on a planet, get us out of here sci-fi games, with minimal plot, no excessive chit-chat and a world full of unfriendly wildlife, and then unfriendly people to take on. You stumble around the first area, finding a few rocks to lob at the lurking worms. then your suit starts powering up so you can survive more than a trip, and at last pick up a gun and can start dealing proper death.

Soon double jumps, grenades, gravity guns and other goodies come your way, but the perils increase with slavering monsters, radiation zones, the old chestnut of collapsing platforms and more. Each time you move between a level, you need to check what you're packing, no good going into a gun fight with a rock, or wasting a precious grenade, so careful thought is always required. There are some secrets to find, but they are damn hard to spot, as you dive deeper into mines, churches and beyond.

Yes, the game is pretty compact and short, but that's better than so many games that drag out for days. Yes, its not perfect, a few animations here and there stilt your progress, and the enemies are dumber than dumb (and how hard is it to crush a worm under foot?) But for a portable game, Exile's End is pretty much perfect, with fast restarts in the room before you died and a smart line in tech for you to play with.

Score 7/10
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Price: £7.99 on PSN
Dev: Magnetic Realms
Progress: Church on time

Koei fires Atelier Firis west in 2017

Friendly, charming, Sophie was my first Atelier game, and left a fair impression on my heart. So, it is good to hear more potion fun is headed our way with the next in the series, Atelier Firis, coming to western PlayStation owners.

The latest edition lands on PS4 and Vita (digital only) in spring 2017, which is the 20th anniversary of the Gust-developed series. Firis is the 18th main game, and about the last eight have hit the Vita, either directly or through an upgrade. Is it worth diving back earlier into the series?

Firis adds a branching narrative to the series, with a choice of focusing on alchemy, combat and relationships. The second entry in the ‘Mysterious’ saga follows the adventures of the enthusiastic Firis Mistlud and her loving older sister Liane Mistlud. The Mistlud sisters have lived their entire lives in the isolated town of Ertona, where Firis uses her unique ability to see where crystals of materials are buried.

By way of a fateful encounter, Firis learns of the Alchemy Exam and decides to take her first step into the outside world, setting off on a grand journey to become a certified alchemist and discover the mysteries that life has to offer! Players will experience a vast world with towns, environments and other locations reaching up to ten times the size of those featured in Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Japanese video burst Dv3, Black Wolves Saga and Bon Voyage

Lots of videos from our Japanese Vita game developing overlords today, so I'll drop them all in one post to save time and space. We have a dash of Danganronpa V3 character introductions, a soupcon of Idea Factory's Black Wolves Saga and a dusting of Dramatic Create's Bon Voyage visual novel. Enjoy or look on confused, your choice!

Period Cube chaining up western Vita users

Period Cube: Shackles of Amadeus is another one of those games where you're playing a virtual RPG, this time within a visual novel. Announced back in the summer, among a host of Aksys releases, we now have more details, with a spring 2017 release date and a mini-site.

Period Cube Shackles of Amadeus is a single player game with you in search of your missing older brother. Joining the ranks of an online RPG, “Arcadia” in search of clues. Having lost consciousness after being drawn into a mysterious light, you wake up within the game’s fantasy world!

Confused and shaken by your strange yet familiar surroundings,you learn that the only way to escape this world of life-or-death is to clear the game. As the gameworld begins to crumble and fall apart, you gain the status of the “Shinken” (divine sword), key to clearing the game, and become targeted by hordes of enemies.

Eclipse bringing Spheroids to the Vita in January

Back in March, Eclipse brought us Tachyon Project, and I gave a mention to their next project they were working on, a little title called Spheroids. That game is now ready for the big reveal, launching in January on PS4 and Vita with Cross-Buy support. As a young, blocky lad you need to splat the alien sphere menace, across a range of fun-looking levels, armed with special skills and weapons.

Review: Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II

Okay, this review is a bit shorter than for the first episode. If you liked all the little details that made ToCS I so much fun, then there's still the fishing, trial quests, finding books and recipes, plus plenty of side quests to help build up your stats. There's also the odd diversion like snowboarding to pass the time.

In short, ToCSII is incredibly similar to the original in terms of gameplay features. Many of the early locations are the same too, but have suffered destruction or oppression in the ongoing war caused by the Noble Alliance.
Good morning campers, I'll be your recurring pain in the ass for this episode
But what of our heroes? Rean Schwarzer wakes up being moaned at by that damn cat, to find his giant fighting robot, Valimar, out of commission. Stumbling down a mountain, he is soon launched on a quest to reunite with the rest of Class VII, and then to start fighting back against this nasty imperialism.

If you played the first game, then you can import your save, and some stats and relationships will carry over, which is a clever touch. If you played the first, you'll get the intricacies of the plot, but there's enough flash-back sepia shots to help explain the who, what and why to new players.

As you pick up your rag tag army of school mates, strung across the land, plus some new friends, the on-going story reveals itself. Old characters make surprising revelations and enemies go from Batman-camp to mildly scary with ominous undertones.

We slowly get a sense of the scale of the war, and that the armies you met in the first story are still battling manfully against the superior technology of the Nobles and their political shenanigans, which will split and divide the party along the way, just who among your egalitarian bunch can you really trust when high power is at stake?

Your early battles and quests are very much about survival. To spice up the combat, Overdrive is a new power that allows multiple attacks in sequence to real deal some damage to the major enemies. Unfortunately, there's still too many God-likes floating around the battlefield, twisting the story to their own ends, and you know you can never defeat them early on, which makes these fights a real chore.

Wading Into the Plot and Battle

Once everyone is together, Class VII start fighting back and trying to make a meaningful difference to the war. First up is disabling a jamming device on top of the watchtower in the Nord Highlands. As the action starts to pick up, I find the game is still full of odd quirks. There's rest points in corridors inside the enemy bases, really?And, the team will never kill an obvious enemy, letting them reappear later on for a rematch to do some more damage.

That was fine in the first game when the squad were innocent school kids, but this is war, dammit and they should have learned the price of mercy! Still, soon they are racing across the land, stopping off to find random food or other items, if you really want to complete every side quest, and with a barrage of trophies for getting closer to each of your pals!
Weren't you in Rise of the Robots? 
In a fight, you rely on movement, skills and constant healing and buffs to keep beating up the enemy, be it angry wildlife, a massive robot or increasingly annoying range of mercenaries. Your powers come through orbments charged into your Arcus technology which also acts as a communicator. That's a fun way to build and swap out skills, but in most battles you just rely on brute force and special attacks to win the day. A shame, as the movement, enemy analysis and counter tactics rarely get a look in.

After the first couple of chapters the plot thickens and the pace picks up, without spoiling it, its not quite as epic as the first game, in part due to familiarity. Also, perhaps the developers are saving the big shots for No. 3, although there's no guarantee that game will ever launch on the Vita.

As you explore the wider world, there is still very much the sense that Cold Steel's developers have created a wonderful visual scenery and a decent political tapestry and crammed on to the Vita, even if it is all explained in a Politics 101-class style. Trails of Cold Steel 2 is pretty damn epic and a great way to spend the cold autumn/winter months buried its embracing plot.

Score 8/10
More reviews
Price: £29.99 on Amazon
Dev: Falcom
Progress: Act 3

Get Slain on PSN this week

Not got that Christmas feeling yet? Fair enough there's over a month to go. However, as a Vita owner, I've been looking forward to Slain for long enough. Sure, we had to wait a while as the developer patched the launch version which met with a mixed reception, but now we get the real deal game, the "Back to Hell" full fat game, with every bloody pixel glowing in OLED glory.

UPDATE: Note the developers are working on a nasty bug, so you may want to hold off until a patch is in place, as it may limit your progress.

Slain is out this week on PSN, there is a physical PS4 version coming, hopefully the Vita will get the same treatment, which would make a very cool gift! Signature Edition, the people behind the boxed version are polling Vita users, so make yourself heard.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Heart Forth Alicia gets a new gameplay clip

Having celebrated the game in my top titles for 2017, here's a fresh three minutes of gameplay of the gorgeous looking Kickstarted platform adventure. The game is now scheduled for a mid-2017 (for the main versions, never mind the Vita edition), but as long as it keeps on getting even-more visually sumptuous, I don't really mind.

If you're going to PlayStation Experience, you'll be able to play the latest version of the game.

In the gameplay video above, Alicia explores and fights through an atmospheric and treacherous area in the Verillion Trail, East in the Valley of √čliadin

Doom comes to the Vita thanks to Zen Pinball

Apart from Remote Play, there's little chance of ever seeing the best of Bethesda games on your Vita. However, Zen Studios has tied up a deal to create Fallout, DOOM and Skyrim tables for its Zen Pinball player.

The pack arrives in early December, hopefully bringing plenty of those grinding Doom soundtracks and effects to the table, along with the epic sights and sounds of those gorgeous RPG worlds.

From the press release: Explore the secrets of the post-nuclear wasteland in a world decimated by atomic war, join Factions, raid Vaults and collect Bobbleheads on the Fallout Pinball table, fight your way through the UAC research facility while taking on hordes of demons to earn the DOOM Slayer name on the DOOM Pinball table, and craft weapons, wield magic, equip armor, buy and sell goods, mine materials, find companions and complete side quests before defeating Alduin and fulfilling your destiny as the Dragonborn on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Pinball table. Each table features leaderboards, score tracking, exciting social features, and more!

Severed wins best handheld game at CGAs, nominated for more awards!

Severed picked up two awards at Canada's big gaming shindig this week, proving that treading your own path with game creativity can have its own rewards. With award season firmly upon us, what else can Vita games pick up along the way?

  • Best Mobile/Handheld Game: Severed (Drinkbox Studios)
  • Best Musical Score: Take My Hand by YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN & Pantayo - Severed (Drinkbox Studios)
The Golden Joysticks take place tonight in London and there will be a live stream of the event, while America's The Game Awards take place on 1st December in Los Angeles, and have a stream too. Severed is nominated again for the TGA handheld category, good luck to Drinkbox again! 

Five Vita games you'll love in 2017

With several of the games from the 2016 feature list still stuck on the release schedule, its time to look forward to what us Vita owners can enjoy as the cream of the crop in 2017.

Sure, the Vita hardware is now seriously old and cranky, and few stores sell new models. But, if you can get hold of one you will enter a world of amazing games that don't rely on 4K eye candy to sell them.

Akiba's Beat
Ditching the stripping action of Akiba's Trip, the semi-sequel from Acquire takes on a darker tone and looks like a more rounded game for it. From the many early looks, it borrows from most of the Vita's best games, which is no bad thing. There's hints of Digimon, Persona and much more going on, if it all ties together neatly, then this could be a corking adventure and fighting game.
Alternatively: If Akiba's Beat doesn't sound like it will do it for you, Tokyo Xanadu from Aksys or Caligula from Atlus could easily fit the bill!

Shakedown Hawaii

The news on Shakedown Hawaii has been non-existent since the reveal a year ago, with developer Vblank making only a few WIP appearances at game shows. However, all that diligent effort has hopefully been focused on producing one of the tightest and most entertaining pixel games to hit the Vita.

Alternatively: Best Buds vs Bad Guys (possibly coming to Vita)

Heart Forth Alicia

Unlike Hawaii, Hearth Forth Alicia developer Alonso Martin has been showing off his labour of love at every turn on Twitter with some gorgeous aniGIFs, and it has matured into a true thing of beauty. Sure, the Vita version could still be a long time coming, but hopefully it will hit in 2017 and provide an epic platform adventure for lovers of modern and retro games to revel in.

Alternatively: Shu

Drift Stage

"Where did all the fun racing games go, daddy?" is something children will be asking their parents in years to come. Previous gaming generations had loads of them, something that is in short supply, not only on the Vita. Drift Stage is coming to the rescue in 2017. with super slick retro visuals and all the fun of early Ridge Racer.

Alternatively: Ummm, Drive Girls?

Bad Apple Wars

There's a bunch of visual novels coming west next year, and I know pretty much nothing about most of them, so going on title alone, and a rather cool trailer, I'm going to put my faith in Bad Apple Wars. What can go wrong when you're already dead, and get sent back to school to pick from one of two juicy factions?

Alternatively: Take your pick from Collar X Malice, Period Cube or any of the games Sekai finally sneak out.

Do let the world know what you are looking forward to playing from the release schedule in the comments!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Operation Babel New Tokyo Legacy is NISA's latest announce

Dungeon crawling RPG Operation Babel: New Tokyo Legacy is the next game up in NIS America's list of western releases, with a Spring 2017 physical and digital release release. No intro clip, so here's the Japanese original.

Continuing the story of Operation Abyss, the latest Experience RPG has you defending near-future Tokyo from a new and devastating threat! Grab a pre-order on the game page.

Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors Godseekers heads west in 2017

Quite the week for Japanese games announced for a western audience. Following on from NISA's volley fire, here comes Tecmo announcing Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers for a 2017 digital release.

The game is set during the chaotic end days of the Han dynasty, when ancient China was overwhelmed by uprisings and internal strife within its imperial court. The story follows renowned warrior Zhao Yun and his close friend Lei Bin, who unwittingly liberate a young girl, Lixia, from a mystical prison.

The two friends and the mysterious Lixia then find themselves entangled in a pivotal struggle for the salvation of the world, wherein they must navigate the maelstrom that is Three Kingdoms era China, meet countless great warriors and take part in historic battles. In their efforts to unravel the mystery behind Lixia’s imprisonment, Zhao Yun and Lei Bin uncover a hidden, terrible fate, forcing them to make difficult decisions in a battle that will echo throughout history.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Rose in the Twilight announced by NIS America

Borrowing from the muted look of HotlNiq and Yomawari, A Rose in the Twilight sees a little girl and giant needing to help each other to escape a dark castle. But this being another Japanese import, nothing is going to be quite that straightforward in the platform puzzle adventure.

Hot on the heels of Cladun, let's hope NIS America keeps on rolling out the releases. The game is getting a physical and digital release, and lands next spring, just in time for the real roses to bloom.

Fate Extella tops the Media Create chart

This week's Media Create chart is dominated by Fate Extella, selling 160K across Vita, PS4 and limited editions, with the Vita version tops at 73K. Further down the chart, World of Final Fantasy moves to 69K while Sword Art Online is up to 91K, both just about neck and neck with their PS4 versions now.

For hardware sales, the Vita sneaks back above 10K, with 10,410 sales, but the new PS4 Pro monsters the chart with 92K sales, but don't be too smug the new mini NES managed 261K sales. All eyes are on the new red and silver models, plus the Minecraft bundle out on 6th December to give a final boost to Vita sales, after that its likely to be a very steady decline across 2017.

Over on Famitsu, there's a load of fresh Vita reviews in this week, most of these are out over the next couple of weeks. Pokemon Sun/Moon is out in Japan this week so expect 3DS bedlam next week!

Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru – 9/9/8/9 [35]
SD Gundam G Generation Genesis  – 8/8/8/8 [32]
Code:Realize – Shukufuku no Mirai – 8/8/8/8 [32]
Money-Hungry Princess  – 7/8/8/7 [30]
Otome Riron to Sono Shuuhen: Bon Voyage  – 7/8/7/7 [29]
LEGO Ninjago: Nindroids  – 6/7/8/7 [28]
Torikago no Mirage: Hatsukoi no Tsubasa  – 7/7/7/7 [28]
Traveling Stars  – 7/7/7/6 [27]
id: Rebirth Session – 6/6/7/8 [27]

Pump up the volume with the Danganronpa V3 soundtrack

Elevator doors closing, get ready for some easy listening with the Danganronpa V3 soundtrack sampler from Spike Chunsoft. But , if you want something a little more spicy for all that murder and death, there's plenty of snippets across the musical range for everyone.

New Twin Star Exorcists trailer from Bandai Japan

There's remarkably little game play in this three minute look at Twin Star Exorcists, coming to Japan from Bandai in January. Still take a peek and see what you think, dodgy looking old-school RPG with a spot of boob juggling is all I can get from it.

Princess blue-eyes stars in Hana Oboro otome trailer

Another day, another Otomate title heads to Japan thanks to Idea Factory. Hana Oboro sees a 15th century blue-eyed princess having to uncover the mystery or curse surrounding her family, finding a lost heirloom and restoring the honour of her clan. And what's the significance of the two talking foxes?

There's an official website if you like your otome titles, the production values look pretty high end, and you can't go wrong with a soundtrack by Rookiez is Punk'd (I think).

New Drive Girls trailer revs up

Girls, fighting giant monsters! Not even their sizeable cleavage can help them, so they turn into cars! That appears to be the gist behind Tamsoft's Drive Girls on the Vita. So, they ram them, then splat the remainder into the ground. It all looks rather primitive, but it could be good fun, not that I really expect to see this coming west.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Black Wolves Saga gameplay trailer

After showing off some pics and art a week ago, here's a first look at the updated drama from Idea Factory in, umm, "action." It mixes the best of the PSP and PC games but looks heavy on the pastels, and not much happens over this 20 minute clip. Hopefully the story and intrigue of the plot make up for that. Anyone have any experience of the originals?

New Fate Extella character trailers

What gets you first, the "partial nudity" reference in the age rating or Gawain's piercing blue eyes? Xseed has just dropped a pair of trailers for the brave knight and a Nameless character, who's "substance is twisted out of order" according to one subtitle - ouch, that's gotta chafe! The epic brawler hits our screens early next year.

Uta No Prince Sama Repeat Love trailer

If music be the food of love, then you can bet there are about a dozen visual novel romance games about it. Brocolli's Uta No Prince Sama Repeat Love seems to focus on the music aspects of dating, with rhythm action sections, other than that its pretty hard to tell how the characters are supposed to be compatible.

The game is out in Japan next January with a special edition packed with extra CDs.

SaGa Scarlet Grace JP live play

Square has been at it again, sneaking out another live stream demo of SaGa Scarlet Grace. With an insane six hour marathon of gameplay and Japanese chit chat, plus the usual goings on, feel free to dip in and out. To be honest it looks pretty primitive, low poly and even the art design doesn't stand out. Could this be where Square blows its hard earned reputation on the Vita?

Chance of a western release, unlikely.

Monster Hunter Frontier Z kicks off in Japan

Moving on from the G to the Z, Sony is celebrating Monster Hunter Frontier going live last week, and coming to the PS4 later this month. Check out the Vita site for more details, remember you need a Capcom and a Japanese PSN account to even get this started. A wiki has an English list of all the monsters and armour appear in the new game.

Bon Voyage chat and squeals

Dramatic Create has put up a series of videos for VN Bon Voyage over the past few weeks. Guess they are just character introductions, with minimal animation of information, still take a peek if you're interested. I don't think any DC games have come west, but feel free to correct me if that's not the case. The official site has links to many more clips.

Cladun Returns: This is Sengoku! dated for spring

Getting a digital release on the Vita (physical on PS4), Cladun Returns brings its pixelly goodness west next spring thanks to NIS America. In it, you travel to Japan's Sengoku Era and help the souls of the dead settle their unfinished business.

Vita is a win-win in Japan's Christmas ad campaign

Sony is dragging out a herd of Santa and a small child to promote the Vita in Japan over their holiday season. Beyond the win-win message, buyers get the free PlayStation Christmas sock case but since the ad fails to mention the new Minecraft limited edition, and only subtly hints at the new Metallic Red version, its not really helping promote the six year old device. Some games might help, remember them Sony?

Money Hungry Princess cash-grab gameplay

The chaps at Dengeki are playing Money Hungry Princess giving us a first decent look at the gameplay of the capitalist action RPG (skip to about three minutes to avoid the chit chat).

The NIS game, out in a couple of weeks, is full of treasure chests, where coin is king, portals that recharge her majesty's health slowly and lots of nasties from bugs to dragons that can be destroyed by the traps, as and when she can afford them.

Japan gets a Minecraft Vita bundle

With the game approaching one-million physical sales in Japan, now is clearly the perfect time to launch a Minecraft LE Vita model. Available only on the PlayStation Store it comes in two styles of design with a pouch, Minecraft theme, the game plus DLC. Landing on the 6th December, along with the new red and silver color models, it should be a hit for Japan's holiday season.
Have to say I'd prefer the lower style. Wonder if Sony in the west are tempted to try and make some money out of a game that continues to print it? No, of course not. Check out all the other Vita models in the universe.

Monday, November 14, 2016

SAO and Legend of Heroes can't knock Minecraft off UK chart

One of two things is going on in the UK retail chart this week.

Either parents are buying Minecraft on Vita as a Christmas present in decent numbers, or physical sales are dying off fast. That's as the Mojang game fights off yet more new releases in the form SAO Hollow Realization and Legend of Heroes TOCS2, or perhaps people just don't like really long names for video games? SAO failes to make the PS4 top 20, while LoH sneaks into the PS3 top 10.

1 = Minecraft Mojang
2 N Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization Bandai
3 N Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Falcom
4 + Lego Marvel Avengers Warner
5 - World of Final Fantasy Square
6 - Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens Warner
7 - Valkyrie Drive PQube
8 - Root Letter PQube
9 + Killzone Mercenary Sony
10 Lego Jurassic World Warner

Over on Amazon UK, of the new releases, World of Final Fantasy is still above the two newer entries in what's quite a lively top 20, interspersed with plenty of bargains. Sony's Top Sellers page on the Vita store doesn't seem to have updated for a couple of weeks, perhaps they've just totally given up now. All that is meaningless without supporting numbers, but hey!

School's out for the Blue Reflection trailer

Gust's next game Blue Reflection may well borrow from the Atelier engine - a lot of the costume facets seem rather familiar. However, everything is very different indeed, if by different we mean the same as most other Japanese games - we've got school girls in their pants, slavering demon monsters and so on.

Split over two worlds, the girls (Hinako, Chihiro and Yuri) must solve puzzles and problems in one to bring about the end of the monsters in their own, along with the usual school hijinks and social time.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mary Skelter's western plot trailer

Don't get too excited, its just a rehash of some of the already-out-there Japanese imagery, with a brief plot synopsis. But to celebrate Idea Factory continuing to support the Vita, with this and Hakouki: Kyoto Winds, into 2017, give it up for the mad bad world of Mary Skelter.

Hakouki: Kyoto Winds from Idea Factory blows west

Idea Factory had its autumn press event last night, I guess this is the first piece of news, hopefully more will follow. Mary Skelter was also confirmed for western release.

Another day, another visual novel comes west. This time Hakouki: Kyoto Winds from Idea Factory will land on our shores in spring 2017. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is a remastered, subtitled-only, visual novel about romancing some of the leading Samurai of their age! New episodes, characters and story paths make it worth investing in, if otome is your life.

Flowers Autumn opening trailer

Out next week in Japan, Flowers Autumn from Innocent Grey and Prototype is the latest (the third, I think) in the series of light novels that started off on the PC and PSP. Autumn comes from the PC version, with the game site highlighting PS TV support and colour modes to match the PC original.

Handily the trailer is in English, because that's about all I know of this series.

New Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru trailer castle tour

This way, this way, follow my umbrella for a quick tour of the Samurai Warriors castles. There's some walls with guns, and here's some smelly salesmen hawking potions and shit.

Mind the bear, and Nigel the fat gate guard. Oh and here's a thousand cookie cutter enemies to smash into oblivion. Don't stare at the nobles with scary eyes!

Please remember to tip your coach driver (or click an ad, who knows!) Sanada Maru is out in a couple of weeks in Japan,

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fate Extella's equal opportunities panty DLC trailer

Either I'm bored, tired or annoyed at there being no decent news today, after a couple of decent weeks, but here's a really poor effort by Marvelous to flog some of the skimpiest DLC since Dead or Alive. Hell knows what the relevance is to the game, but if you enjoy battling in your budgie smugglers or slaying in swimwear, knock yourself out!

Idea Factory's roll of Code Realize clips

Well, I hope this doesn't spoil the game for anyone but Idea Factory has just put up 28 minutes worth of Code Realize clips. They cover the different major characters of the upcoming Otome visual novel.

Given Aksys gave us the last Code Realize game, Guardian of Rebirth, I guess this one could follow along, but judging by the clips, this is a plodding tale at the best of times. At least GoR had an interesting and relevant to us Victorian setting, this is all a bit wishy washy. Seriously, look at the site.

Meet the new characters in Steins Gate 0

Steins Gate 0 sees the return of the crazy gang in the gadget lab, but they have a whole new bunch of people to worry about in this new adventure. The original is simply an epic piece of storytelling, and well worth putting up with the slow start to go through the trauma and shock of the sharp end of the time travel adventure. Here are the new guys...

Not ‘the’ Kurisu, ‘a’ Kurisu. This is the Kurisu of Amadeus, all her thoughts and memories in an AI program that Okabe can interact with.

Maho Hiyajo
A senior at the same university that Kurisu attended in the United States – and an old friend. She looks very young and is often mistaken as a child, despite being in her twenties. She works for Alexis Leskinen and visits Japan with him.

Alexis Leskinen
University professor and mentor of Makise Kurisu and an expert in research in brain function. He brings his assistant Maho to Japan to give lectures on the Amadeus System.

Yuki Amane
A good friend of Mayuri and a character who’s predestined to be involved with one of the original cast. She’s a big fan of cosplay.

Kagari Shiina
Her real parents and real name are unknown. She is the adopted daughter of Mayuri – who takes her under her wing after meeting her through her work at an orphanage.

Judy Reyes
Psychology Research Institute professor and a colleague of Leskinen. She has a fairly blunt, straight talking personality.

Katsumi Nakase
Sporty and athletic, she does have a more girly side through her persona ‘Fubuki’ – a fellow cosplayer and friend of Mayuri.

Kaede Kurushima
The last of Mayuri’s cosplaying friends and she makes costumes for Mayuri.

The new STEINS;GATE 0 characters combine with the original cast in an alternate, darker world-line. Can the Future Gadget Lab members come together with their new friends and save humanity?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Space Overlords coming December, new creation video

12 Hit Combo's Space Overlords will allow players to name their own galaxy, and create their own system of planets. Starting by selecting from multiple planet base options, such as forest, concrete and metal, the player can build upon this foundation. By entirely customising each planet’s population, buildings, atmosphere type and more, players truly become Space Overlords. Take a look at the brand new video which details the galaxy creation system.

Having crafted a planet, or even a solar system, players will be able to upload their creations for the rest of the community to set foot on. Having this Little Big Planet-style community hub means that countless levels will be available to players. Levels created and uploaded on any platform can be played across all versions of Space Overlords.

Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea DLC costumes

Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, arrives on 20th January 2017. Buyers who pick it up within the first month get a collection of extra items. They can dress up their characters in five fresh styles downloadable for free from the PSN, including the Administrator Suit, Hero Girl Costume, Cosmo Fighter Costume, Sophie Style Costume and Plachta Style Costume.

A special selection of background music will also be available to download for free for early purchasers, featuring choice tracks from the long-running Atelier series, also check out the new English voice trailer....

Atelier Firis brightens up the Japanese chart

The Vita sold 9.186 units in Japan over the week according to Media Create data, with nothing likely to change much until the new colours in early December, but they should only have a modest impact.

Atelier Firis is the only Vita new entry, landing at No 5 with 16,153 sales, lagging way behind the PS4's 27,300, suggesting that Sony's big console is now the dominant factor there. The top four are all PS4 games,

Sword Art Online and World of Final Fantasy sold 15.7K and 14.7K each in their second weeks on the chart, they will probably outsell their PS4 counterparts shortly.

Elsewhere, just the one Vita review in this week's Famitsu with Flowers Aki Hen grabbing decent marks for a VN, 8/9/8/8.

Last week's figures

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Black Wolves Saga hits Japan in January

Popular people/wolf/cats political drama anime Black Wolves Saga gets the Rejet visual novel treatment in Japan early next year. With its striking art style, there was a game (Last Hope) out on the PSP years ago, this seems to combine that episode and a PC title Bloody Nightmare Story.