Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vita sales firm in Japan as Splatoon 2 dominates

Vita sales remain firm, more like set in concrete, in Japan with the latest Media Create figures showing yet another 4,500 units sold last week. That's not surprising with just one new modest entry, World Election from Piacci at No.18 that sold just 3,017.

The Vita roster is looking pretty skinny these days, especially with Splatoon 2 selling over 600K (and Switch just under 10K), so nothing but a big hit or seasonal sales is likely to move that black-and-red iron bar up.

There's nothing much happening for the Vita until 24 August when The Lost Child and Yomawari: Midnight Shadows hit.

Last week's figures

One for the kids, It's Spring Again

A well-rated PC and mobile game, It's Spring Again, is an educational game for children ages two and up. It uses game mechanics to teach children about the seasons and has just the four trophies, which is the only reason I found out about the game. Arriving on Vita and PS4 soon, thanks to developer Baba Yaba Games, it could help keep those little relatives quiet for a while with its impressive art style and simple mechanics.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Review - Volume

There was a particular purity about Thomas Was Alone that carries over into Volume, even with the move from flat pixels to 3D and a funkier sci-fi plot. Volume is also one of those games that despite being available on PS4 and PS VR fits best on the Vita, even if it might not quite have the fluidity of the big screen or immersive versions.

You play as Locksley, a modern day avatar of the Robin Hood character. He is aided by VR/AI creation Alan (Danny Wallace), who is being used to hack into the treasures of a corrupt British regime, and to stream footage out to others to ferment rebellion. Defending the status quo is Gisborne, a techno Theresa May or Liam Fox, voiced by the king of computer-generated characters, Andy Serkis.
When your world starts to fall apart
Each of 100 core levels is a compact puzzle with a range of tricks, and security-guard traps to overcome to collect the treasure and escape. Caution and timing are your watchwords. While there is a community best-time leaderboard, you can worry about those later. Instead, you start out, treading cautiously around, working out the route and learning from your many mistakes.
Mike Bithell in his blue period
Tricks such as whistles, jumping mute buttons, alarm cancellers and noise makers will help you past the guards. You can see their cones of vision and regular patrol routes, and generally, know where they will go if you alert them. Creeping along the walls, hiding in cupboards and a good, old-fashioned leg it to the exit all add to the fun! New tricks are added later on like the Blackjack to stun enemies, so things never get stale.

The stark atmosphere, the many notes you find along the way and the slightest scope of different paths mean Volume never gets boring or leaves you stuck in that one place. You can put the Vita down for a few minutes, try the user-created levels for a spot of fun, or try to beat some of those times.

Whatever, the game never feels pushy or has the vicious degree of addictiveness that can lead to hatred and 4AM where-did-my-life-go? moments. Like a good British afternoon tea, it is a game to be savoured, enjoyed not rushed through in a blur of chemical romance.

The deeper review bit...

Normally around here in a review, I start looking for deeper mechanics or meaning, trying to link characters to classic archetypes (or talking about fishing minigames with an axe to grind). But Volume is a pure and simple affair, politics aside. There's no bolted-on social interactions or a sudden appearance of a fishing minigame (I think).

Instead, you can build your own levels with the brilliantly simple creator and try to think of fiendish traps for others to fall into. If there's one thing that's annoying, the death mechanic is a bit feeble, surely something more final or variable would have helped.

With Volume, you can see exactly what you're getting and while the puzzles get more fiendish, it never tries to alienate or overwhelm you. With deliberately muted tones, simple but polished graphics and a clever plot, Volume may be rather long, but is still well supported by the community (the weekly blog has only just finished publishing some two-years after launch). Buy cheap in the PSN sale and enjoy, a lot!

Price: £3.99 (PSN Summer Sale, usually £14.99)
More reviews
Score: 8/10
Dev: Mike Bithell
Size: 1.4GB
Progress: Roaring 40s

Friday, July 21, 2017

More info on Digimon Story Hacker's Memory

Bandai continue to drop information on the next Cyber Story game, even though it isn't arriving until early next year. Hackers in the digital world are divided into groups with different objectives. Some will cooperate whilst others fight each other to destroy the dimensional barriers and invade the real world.

The largest hacker group, “Zaxon”, will strongly fight to protect the Digital World. One member, Jimmy Ken, is unsatisfied with the management so decided to create his own group called “Demons”. Confusion reigns in the Digital World especially with this mysterious hacker named K who wants to chase the criminal who is hunting for your account.

In the game, players can battle against each other with Digimon they have trained. Upgrades to the Network Battle experience add a Rank Battle mode with pre-determined rules and rating points. Event Battle rules will change every 2 weeks. This special mode won’t affect players’ score but will reward players’ with items.

In the Free Rule Battle, players will be able to create a room with its own rules and invite up to 8 friends. The coins earned from Rank and Event Battle modes can be used in the Coin Shop to purchase accessories to equip your Digimon or change the appearance of your character in the online mode.

The Lost Child can be found in a dungeon

Kadokawa has just dropped a first look trailer showing off the characters and a few screens of The Lost Child in action. It looks suspiciously like an old-school RPG.There's science, magic, scales and some outlandish looking demons, but not much to get excited about. The game arrives on 8th August.

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late crashes west

PQube is bringing Arc System's Under Night IN-Birth Exe:Late[st] to the Vita by the end of this year. A missing link between traditional 2D fighter gameplay and the over-the-top craziness of ‘anime' fighters, it comes from developer French Bread.

They are responsible for Melty Blood, a cult fighting game big in Japan. UNDER-NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[st] takes place in a fictional modern-day Japan, where a mysterious event called Hollow Night occurs on a monthly basis. During the Hollow Night, shadowy creatures called Voids appear and attack innocent people. Survivors of these attacks sometimes develop special abilities and become known as an In-Birth. The game follows a young man named Hyde, a survivor of one of these attacks, as he becomes involved in the goings-on around the Hollow Night phenomenon.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sokoban Next is a puzzling arrival on Vita

Yep, another out-of-nowhere arrival on the EU PSN store today, meet Sokoban Next from PalmStorm. Billed as a smart game for smart people, the Hungarian company has tweeted in 18 months, so they aren't so bright.

Sokoban Next an iOS/Android port, but still looks like solid fun, with you helping the dragon hatch its eggs by pushing them into fiery nests across 100 3D puzzles. Only £5.35 seemes worth a shot!

Kuroyuren You Tan trailer

Now an Otomate title, Kuroyuren You Tan, and one that actually has a decent line-up of well-drawn, non sexualised characters. Might even go as far as to say some of them are attractive, apart from the ones with the silly mustaches! Guessing there's a naval theme judging by the stupid hats and some of the attire, other than that I know nothing!

Auto translate tells of a story set a year after a fire monster ravages Tokyo, all is quiet and love is in the air, until some flaming moths turn up!

Broccoli's Amazing Aria & Sweet Serenade Love trailer gets plenty of love

This has only been up a few hours and has already stormed past 7,500 views, not bad for a sing-song Vita love adventure from specialists Broccoli. The game is out in October, it might only be a port, but seems to be attracting plenty of comments and interest. There's an official site if you want more detail.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vita sales creep up again in Japan

At this rate, Vita could crack 5,000 sales a week, by December! Last week, the Vita sold 4,655 in Japan, up around 80 on the previous week's figures. That's with no new Vita releases in the Media Create top 20 and only Minecraft representing with another 3,100 sales.

On the other hand, Nintendo releases a new 2DS model and instantly sells 43,000 - imagine what a new Vita colour or even an upgraded unit could do! In reality, as Japan hits summer holidays, expect things to be very quiet indeed for the next six to eight weeks! But if the Vita continues to shift 4,000 units a week, that's enough to keep the droves of RPGs, visual novels and other Japanese curios headed our way.

For reference, the latest Famitsu has a couple of Vita reviews, with action game Utsusemi no Mawari scoring 32/40 and Sekai Project's visual novel Wagamama High Spec getting a modest 28/40.

Sony, time to update the PS Vita store app

None of this is rocket science, but Sony's absolute refusal to recognise the Vita in any shape or form, beyond modest indie developer support, is really starting to grate.

Take a look at the PS Store app - EU version - yours may differ. Gamer's Choice doesn't have anything from this year, with the latest release being from April 2016. Top Sellers hasn't been updated in getting on for a year, when Darkest Dungeon came out, while the All section still has PlayStation Now, even though Sony is canning the service on the Vita.

Is this really the best Sony can do in promoting games to a captive audience?
Top Sellers from a year ago, way to go Sony!
Don't even go into the Video section, New Films - no content, New to Rent - one item, Latest Episodes - no content. Top Films and Top TV Shows are kept up to date, but searching through "All" is a nightmare, so I hope you know the name of whatever it is you want to watch.
Who searches for TV show by year?
Also, there are hardly any video sales on, you'd think given Vita's sub-HD display everything would be super cheap! People watch loads of YouTube in a browser, we don't have Netflix on Vita in Europe, so why shun an obvious source of content?

Basically, the Vita PSN store app has had minimal updates over its life and nothing of note in recent years. At some point, Sony has to have a tidy out or clear up as Vita moves to end-of-life. Please, at least make it more usable for the people who still use it, more friendly to indies who are the lifeblood of the Vita now and perhaps just show you can make an effort, no matter how small.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Occultic;Nine visual novel hitting Japan

Okay, this series has only just come west, see the anime trailer. But in Japan, there's already a strange visual novel rolling out as a PSN-only release. Instead of picking verbal or dialogue choices as in most VNs, in this one you pick choices from the hero's blog.

Mixing magic, boobs and demons, its a heady mix, I guess if the western showing of the anime picks up fans, a translation may be incoming, but don't count on it. A teaser site for the game is now up.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Polara endless runs to the Vita

Another out-of-nowhere indie arrives on the Vita soon, using the Ikaruga colour changing trick to add a little spice to the concept. Polara, an old iOS game, doesn't look like much, but the gameplay could make it worth a punt if cheap enough on release very soon.

Japanese video Friday presents Clanpool intro and more

Hello Japan, please feed us impoverished western gamers more trailers!

First up is the opening video for Tokyo Clanpool and the much anticipated Gintama, even if most of us know nothing about them. Then, Rejet has a bunch of clips for Tokyo Boys V Fan (or whatever its called), showing off chunks of VN gameplay. Will update if anything else drops.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Samurai Showdown V Special slicing up the Vita

Ahh, Sony, you can always rely on them not to put the Vita in any of their headlines. I guess there's a PSN blog post that fails to mention the Vita also. I'm sure we're still allowed to watch this PS4-only trailer. Vita is in the small print, but who looks there? Any how, here's the trailer for SNK's classic brawler Samurai Showdown V Special which is coming Cross Buy and Cross Play.

Offering lots of slashing,  blood and pixelly fighting goodness, I'd prefer another Metal Slug myself, but there you go.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Domination battles in Digimon Hacker's Memory

Maybe I was a bit harsh expecting Hacker's Memory to be just a revamp of Digimon Cyber Sleuth. The developers at Bandai appear to be going to some lengths to add new combat systems and features, such as Domination, along with a very Daft Punk soundtrack.

Check out the new video and see what you think of the new Victory Conditions, the almost Lara Croft Go like movement system, and other features.

Media Create data shows Vita up on Omega Labyrinth Z launch

Japanese Vita sales continue to be as flat as roadkill, with the handheld selling another 4,500-some, just up on last week. Will any release ever help shift the flatline? Or, is the Vita simply in some perma-hell of doing just enough to stay relevant.

There's one new entry in at No. 5 with the updated cleavage-enhanced Omega Labyrinth Z selling 8,800 on Vita, just pipped by the 9,300 on PS4. Otherwise, Minecraft sells another 3,300 to remind people it exists, wonder if Vita would already be dead in Japan without it.

With the Switch selling five times as much per week in the slow months of summer, while the Vita might have a decent release roster, how long before developers and publishers move their focus to Nintendo's baby?

Last week's data

Shakedown Hawaii trailer shows bad business done good

Is this secretly a Donald Trump spoof? The semi-sequel to Vblank's Retro City Rampage adds in a Del-Boy Trotter element to the carnage, as you attempt to build dodgy businesses around Honololu-esque Hawaii.

Badged as "business in the front and bodies in the back" you need to build up your scams while crushing any opposition and have huge amounts of flaming fun into the bargain. With an eighties vibe and a crunching electronic soundtrack, Shakedown Hawaii will light up your Vita, hopefully later this year.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fallen Legion launch trailer

The Vita has done well out of the likes of Grand Kingdom, Odin Sphere and others. Now Fallen Legion is here with an all-in battle system for four character combat control and a huge set of RPG customisations. Enter the dark fantasy world of Fenumia and join Princess Cecille on a twisted tale to save her crumbling kingdom from foes within and without.

One second your Exemplars are slashing a manticore and the next you’re commanding your team to block right before a magic spell hits to reflect it back at your foes. In between battles, you make split-second decisions that change how the game unfolds. Will you raid an innocent village for a strength buff? Or stand up to a warmongering governor instead of resurrecting a fallen party member? Each choice you make bestows a different power-up and permanently changes the world.

How Sony might reinvigorate the Vita

The troubled history of the Vita will always be a contentious issue, especially for those who still love it. Mainly, it was a victim of Sony being a near bankrupt corporation suffering massive losses during Vita's launch years.

Sony sold off divisions and units, slashed jobs, wrote down everything it could and issued profit warnings monthly, the Vita being ignored was but a drop in the ocean. That perilous financial state made Sony risk averse, and the slow take off of the Vita sealed its fate, after a few one-shot big hitters and poor third-party efforts didn't fly.

Flights of Fancy

In a different time with some clever use of resources, and not by thinking like a monolithic game company, Sony could have out Pokemon'd Niantic's Go game with Invizimals, while LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway could have been in-school creativity fests, long before Minecraft.

Sony could have out-evolved the Switch long before it was revealed through hardware upgrades, while using Vita's awesome backward and streaming compatibility to attract the retro audience. Coulda, shoulda, woulda, etc!

Instead, it did none of those things due to those financial constraints, and focused on the PS4 and then the, even more, niche PSVR. Now the Vita's PSN store doesn't get updated, beyond what's new. PS Now support is ending to prevent us playing PS4 games. PlayStation Plus subscribers get minor releases at best.

There's the odd spot of kudos for developer support, but Sony does this so under the radar that whole games get released with no one noticing.

Major news sites never mention the Vita, Sony fails to mention it at every opportunity, with even multi-platform games appearing to be PS4 only. It is clear Sony wants all focus on PS4. With no sign of a Vita upgrade on the horizon, how could Sony make use of the Vita in a changing market?

Changing Times, Feel the Retro Vibe and Digging Out Secrets

As Sony stepped back, indies and Kickstarters filled the void. But with Switch on the rise and Kickstarter proving to be a falling trend, interest is fading. Developers should be aware of the sales possibilities and undying loyalty of a sizeable niche of gamers. So far, activity that is mostly down to the community and active developers.

So, where's Sony's 2017 Vita indie campaign? Where's the industry-only PowerPoint showing the returns on select Vita indies compared to their Xbox/PC/PS4 equivalents? 

As for retro, Nintendo is doing it, very cleverly with limited releases. Atari and Sega are doing it, although most wish they wouldn't. Spectrum and C64 games are still being developed, all the way up to low-poly titles and pixel fests across many formats.

So, where's the limited edition PS one-styled Vita with 50 classics on a memory card? 

None of this costs Sony much money, Japan produces many different limited runs. Apart from printing some boxes, creating the PS one design template for the Japanese Vita factory and some licensing fees for third-party PSone games, this is a cheap for-the-fans project. By adding in some rare or missing games like the original Ridge Racer, Persona 1 or Ace Combat it becomes a collectible, and talked about.

Where's the secret game?

Sony has the money now to help the Vita along a bit with the gaming division driving the company. It also has likely dozens of game concepts, canned Vita projects and side-projects across its studios that could be turned around to provide some quick love. If Nintendo can pull Star Fox 2 out of a hat, Sony certainly has a few tricks.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Accel World vs SAO out in Europe today

Accel World Vs. Sword Art Online brings together characters from two of Reki Kawahara’s series. Providing a large roster of characters battling in this action role-playing game adventure. Players will also be able to team-up with three other friends to battle rivals in fierce online multiplayer modes. Additionally, through the use of a new Switch System, players can enjoy fast-paced battles while switching to different characters, enabling them to chain together long combos without stopping the action on screen.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Life of Pixel Special Collection getting a Vita release

Super Icon's Life of Pixel was one of my favourite Playstation Mobile titles from 2013. Bringing all the generations of console and home computer gaming together into a simple but challenging platformer, it could definitely have done with a full PSN release with trophies and perhaps leaderboards and other refinements.

That time has come with Life of Pixel Special Collection adding all of the later updates and landing on PS4 and Vita this summer. The one-man coder is also hard at work bringing Best Buds vs Bad Guys to all formats. Hopefully we'll see that soon.

So that's why Sony pulled PlayStation Now from the Vita

PlayStation Now was a decent streaming gaming idea, but with an overpriced subscription. It let us play PS3 games on the Vita and rather well too with a decent WiFi connection. However, Sony announced earlier in the year that it was canning the service for Vita and other devices, and now we know why.

Because now it is introducing 50 PS4 games to the service that can now be played on Windows PCs only. For £12.99 a month, I'd be quite a happy Vita owner able to play the likes of Shadow Fall and others. But, no, Sony want us to ditch our Vita handhelds and blow more money on a PS4 slim or pro model. Which not everyone in the universe wants or can afford!

That also explains why Sony ditched the PS Vita TV model, as that would let people play some PS4 games on a big-screen TV for just £50. And we can't be having that now, can we?

Perhaps a few games have DualShock issues that might not translate well to the Vita, but mostly these games should do fine, it is merely Sony's money-grabbing, you-must-upgrade, mantra that has made this move slightly more annoying.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Halfway through 2017, Vita has sold 212K in Japan

While still dragging along the 4K-a-week line, up to 4,400 this week - the Vita has now sold just about 212,000 units in Japan in the first half of 2017. That's about half where we were last year, so bad news, but this number and the 5.6 million install base (assuming most Japanese still use their Vita) seems enough to keep publishers interested in Sony's rapidly aging hardware.

That's shown on the software side, where there are a few new Vita entries, proving that good or niche games will still sell. The much-anticipated Osomatsu-San shifted almost 12,000 physical units. And just about any visual novel will sell around 3,000 copies, showing the market is still there, if you add in a few digital sales too.

04./00. Osomatsu-San: Hang-Up Finding Employment Advice (Idea Factory) 11.579 / NEW
13./15. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition (Mojang) 3.175 / 1.170.416 (+4%)
14./00. [PSV] Tsumigui: Sen no Noroi, Sen no Inori for V (Dramatic Create)  3.105 / NEW
16./00. [PSV] Karumaruka Circle # <ADV> (Entergram) 2.937 / NEW

Review Don't Die, Mr Robot!

Currently a PS+ game, Don't Die, Mr Robot! is a neon-tinged, fruit-filled, robotic game of survival where your dear Mr. Robot is a target across many, many puzzles. The hypnotic game has an arcade, chill and time trial modes for practicing and honing skills, but it's in Remix mode that the game really shines with 50 puzzles and increasing rewards for your performance.

You can scoot through the first 20-odd, picking up bronze or silver medals, the odd gold or platinum, but soon you need to head back to get the higher rankings to open up later levels. That's where perfecting your skills really come to the fore, be it dodging enemy robots by the narrowest of margins, herding fruit, collecting coins or simply staying alive.

The coins can be used to collect new skins and costume accessories, or open access to special guests, who add a few limited powers to spice things up, but that's pretty much window dressing. With its vibrant colour scheme and an excellent collection of pacy electronic tracks, DDMR is a pitch perfect portable title, great for a quick blast, and to compare your score against the global and friend leaderboards.

The game could do with a little more variety when it comes to nasties, but the different gameplay challenges generally mean you're too busy focusing to notice, and if you get stuck on a challenge,  go back to chill mode and relax for a while! Certainly, this is the only game that's ever made me go, "not now, I'm collecting aubergines!"
The trick to getting high up the rankings is to maximise your fruit combos, kills and narrow scrapes to get huge combos, but each second you wait adds more chaos to the screen and requires pixel-perfect timing. It is hard not to love DDMR and be sucked in by the challenge, and is an utter bargain among the many smaller games on PSN.

Score: 7/10
More reviews
Price: £2.89 (PSN) (currently a PS+ title)
Size: 217MB
Dev: Infinite State
Progress: Fruit Pie

Save the Ninja Clan trophies pop up for Vita

Another week, another game pops up magically for the Vita and PS4 via a trophy listing. How hard is it for Sony to at least come up with a roster? Anyway, Save the Ninja Clan looks like a cross between 10 Second Ninja and a more traditional platformer.

It doesn't have the highest visual quality, but there's plenty of going on and it looks like a stiff challenge to add to the list of fun arcade titles.

Take a look at The Longest Five Minutes

Coming to the Vita in 2018 thanks to a chunky delay, presumably to get the Switch version ported, Longest Five Minutes from NISA comes with an overview video to explain the game. Amnesia as a game idea isn't new, but used in this way it makes for a different slant on the traditional RPG genre.

NISA bringing Demon Gaze II and Penny Punching Princess west

After a raft of visual novels out of Anime Expo, here come the RPGs, with NISA's successor to the hugely popular Demon Gaze arriving later this year and Penny Punching Princess (was Penny-Hungry Princess in Japan) in 2018. Longest Five Minutes slips from a 2017 release into next year.

There are limited editions shown off for each game, but no sign of a Vita physical release (yet), will check in with NISA and see what's happening.

In PPP, our newly minted Princess has to bribe her enemies to fight for her, rather than the usual bunch of heroes. She can also activate deadly traps to turn the tide of battle in this fast-paced RPG brawler.

Monday, July 3, 2017

NIS America tease with Ys VIII and Danganronpa V3 trailers

The latest trailers shown off by NIS America show off the mini-games in Danganronpa V3 and a quick bout of battling action for Ys VIII Lacrimosa of Dana. Both games are out in September and look likely to be among the last of the Vita's big releases.

The Ys clip is all about the Mysteries of the Isle. Enjoy them while you can!

Lots of Vita news from Anime Expo

For future reference, next year, don't worry about nothing on the Vita from E3. July is where its at, with Anime Expo providing more news, to keep feeding the weeaboos.

First up we have Aksys bringing a pair of visual novels, Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly and Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk next year. A pair of otome titles, they seem to be better known for their music than any actual game.

They will come along with 7'Scarlet to bolster the Vita's VN roster. This lot seem to have sold around 5K each in Japan, so western releases are more likely to help them turn a profit.

Already on the release list, but now with a launch date is Bad Apple Wars which will land at the end of September. That's the same time as Danganprona V3 which probably isn't the best sales move, but we'll see.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Long Reach gropes in the dark for the Vita

Despite being badged in the video as  a PS4 release, this is also coming to the Vita according to an EU PSN blog post. The Long Reach from Painted Black Games will instantly appeal to anyone who played Uncanny Valley, Home and the growing trend of 2D adventure psychological horror games doing the rounds.

This seems to have a fair bit going for it, and with the usual something-in-the-lab-has-gone-badly-wrong setting should be a blast to play. Check out the blog post for more details. The Ukrainian developers have a Facebook page if you want to follow along.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

LTTP review - Steamworld Dig

Well, this is embarrassing, I tapped on that dusty old Steamworld Dig icon, and got straight back into this amazing predecessor to Image and Form's Steamworld Heist. Then, I wondered what I had scored it, only to find that I never got round to putting up a review. Well, let's fix that right now.

Steamworld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt is part homage to the endless digging/mining titles that litter gaming history, and part Metroid-style. Whatever that means in this day of a million games taking that idea in a million different directions.

Dig's hero is Rusty, a robot who has been bequeathed an old paid-out mine by his predecessor Joe. In a hot and barren land, it is about as welcoming as a snake in your boot. Finding Joe's rusting hulk and a mystery to solve, up above is the town of Tumbleton where the local droids can provide some advice and basic supplies.

Dig works as a game because you need light, water and health, which aren't easy to find at the bottom of a mine shaft. So, you pop up and down like a tourist at a major tube station, replenishing your resources, selling off the gems and minerals you find to fund some better kit. These quick bursts of activity keep you moving and pushing on, with some finely balanced gameplay making the underground gloom a joy to explore.

The soil at the top is pretty easy to hack through with a regular pickaxe, but the deeper you go, the more powerful your equipment needs to be. And the deeper you go, the stranger things get. What are the strange creatures in the Old World, and what is all that metal in Vectron? There are also plenty of little grottos to explore with switch or jumping puzzles where you can find extra goodies to buy better equipment.

Cutting a different path each time you play makes the game a challenge too, will you go for speed over loot, or caution over a potential trap that will leave you needing to use a teleport? With Rusty rapidly getting uparmoured and upgunned (or uphanded) to fight off the nasties, you can also choose to fight your way through or take a more passive route. All interesting choices that open the game up to a range of play styles.

For a game set in a mine, Steamworld Dig is gorgeous on an OLED with glowing crystals, sparks flying as you hack through the rock and subtle glimpses of the wider world in the background. The robots all come with stacks of charm, and its easy to see why Image and Form wanted to take them further in Steamworld Heist, which does make me wonder what they can add in the upcoming direct sequel, Steamworld Dig 2, which will hopefully also get a Vita release.

So, apologies for not getting a review of this great game up earlier, a genuine oversight, and if you have a few pounds, do throw it at PSN on this game. With a trophy for finishing in under 2:30, it isn't exactly massive, but is finely constructed to offer coal sacks of gameplay.

Score: 8/10
More reviews
Price: £7.39 (PSN) (currently on sale for £2.49)
Size: 80MB
Dev: Image and Form
Progress: Assimilated

God Wars battles up the Media Create chart

God Wars, having claimed a 100K worldwide sales limps into the Japanese top then this week, with only 10,000 sales across Vita and PS4. Throw in perhaps the same for digital sales and that makes the game quite the global hit. Interesting to see if that will nudge more Japanese developers and publishers to spin out their games around the world faster?

08./00. [PSV] God Wars: Future Past (Kadokawa) - 5.291 / NEW
10./00. [PS4] God Wars: Future Past Kadokawa) - 5.039 / NEW
15./11. [PSV] Minecraft (Mojang) {2015.03.19} 3.061 / 1.167.241 (+4%)

On the hardware front, the Vita sells just over 4,000 for about the trillionth straight week. I'm pretty sure someone at Sony is being sent around to buy stock up from the stores, that Sony then push back into the channel creating some twisted cycle of sales purgatory.

Over in Famitsu land, a couple of Vita titles get reviewed, with the boob fest of OLZ doing suspiciously well.

Omega Labyrinth Z – 8/8/8/8 [32/40]
Touhou Genso Maroku W: The Devil of Decline – 6/7/6/7 [26/40]

Puzzler Ninja Usagimaru: Two Tails of Adventure hits the Vita in Japan

Since this trailer is in English, I'm guessing that western gamers will soon get to enjoy this pair of 3DS puzzle titles in one shot. Ninja Usagimaru: Two Tails of Adventure looks a bit reminiscent of 16-bit arcade title Solomon's Key, but with rescuing villagers as the main aim. Check out the videos and see what you think.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

God Wars sells 100K around the world

Having jumped to the top of the UK retail chart, Kadokawa is pleased to announce that God Wars has now sold over 100,000 units around the world. I'm guessing it sold maybe a thousand in the UK on Vita and PS4,  a few thousand across North America, and most will come in Japan's Media Create tomorrow.

For a niche game, that's not a bad effort and will hopefully drive other publishers in Japan to seek worldwide releases for their smaller or new titles.

Valkyria Revolution gets western launch trailer

Valkyria Revolution may be getting iffy reviews out of the gate, but for what it's worth Sega's probably-last-published Vita game is now out in the west, and the PS4 of course.

With the company managing to botch 8-bit emulated ports on mobile devices, via its Sega Forever program, is there any lower the company can sink?

Trying to big-up the complete change of emphasis, Sega describes the new version as:
"Though it bears the Valkyria name, Valkyria Revolution eschews the original series' traditional turn-based strategy and is a whole new entry with new characters, a new world, and new gameplay mechanics. The static, turn-based battlefield has become an action-oriented stage for devastating melee strikes, lethal ranged attacks, and strategic shifts to turn the tide of battle, all while exploring the incredible continent of Europa."

Tier Blade - Fragments of Memory trailer

Another otome title rolls off the Idea Factory treadmill soon, Tier Blade - Fragments of Memory is due in October. The official site has lots of info and visuals, and there will be a Limited Edition of the physical game, other than that not much discernable detail on plot or any clever features to discern from the endless mass of these games.

Accel World VS Sword Art Online DLC trailer

Packing in new characters and quests, Bandai's Accel World VS Sword Art Online summer DLC drop is due soon. Adding the likes of Alice Yujio-Obeiron, Persona Vaberu and Heathcliff, there's plenty more battles to be fought for the game that sold around 40K on launch back in March.

Monday, June 26, 2017

JumpJet Rex rockets on to the Vita

Another week, another set of trophies pops up out of nowhere. This time for JumpJet Rex from TreeFortress Games. A vibrant platformer originally on PC, it packs in the action across a galaxy of varied levels with a space-faring dinosaur as the unlikely hero.

As ever, no actual announcement, just the trophies turning up online. Would be really helpful if someone at Sony was coordinating these releases and could provide any form of promotion.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Video Friday from Japan, teasers and trailers are ice cold

More fun being teased by Compile Heart this week, with no format attached. Since it is full of chunky pixels, this Mystery RPG currently called End Quest could head to the Vita, assuming they aren't playing tricks on us and have some bloated 3D effort for next-gen consoles on the way.

Definitely coming to the Vita is The Lost Child from Kadokawa, and here's a few minutes of gameplay, with what looks like a pretty classic JRPG dungeon crawler, not a million miles removed from Demon Gaze, but in a modern setting.
Also from Kadokawa, and a little different to the usual gameplay are some master artisans making models based on some of the characters from God Wars, because that's how they roll!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Some fresh Hacker's Memory details - meet Nokia

Bandai has dropped some new details about the Digital World and the characters of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - HACKER’S MEMORY. To help the wounded Digimon after battles, a girl named Nokia (pic below) decided to create the Rebellions team to protect them from hackers with bad intentions. These Digimon may change the turn of battle and affect the journey of our heroes.

New characters will also join the adventure, Chitose, Nokia, Agumon & Gabumon.  Chitose Imai is the vice-leader of the “Hu Die” hacker team. He is the mood maker of the team and an extremely creative hacker with his own tools. Nokia Shiramine truly cares about how Digimon are treated by evil hackers. She gathered the Tamers and established the Rebellions team. With her strong sense of justice she really believes that Digimon will save the world. Agumon & Gabumon were banished from the Digital World and they found a way to get to the EDEN network where they met Nokia and friends. They have a vague recollection of what happened before coming to the real world, but for sure they came with an important purpose in mind!

Clash of hackers will continue in the Territory Battle Quest where some hackers have made a dungeon to expand their territory in Digital World using their team emblem. It’s time to fight, put your mark and expand your territory!

DIGIMON STORY: CYBER SLEUTH - HACKER’S MEMORY will be available both physically and digitally for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and digitally for the PlayStation Vita handheld system in early 2018 in Europe.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Minecraft is the only game selling on Vita in Japan

Minecraft is the only game in town for the Vita this week on the Media Create chart. It still shifts around 3,000 copies a week - slowly approaching 1.2 million physical sales. The Vita itself remains wedged just about the 4,000 sales mark. This week it shifted 4,150 for another slight increase but with no games on the horizon, there's little hope of a big push.

Likely there are a few games in the lower reaches of the chart, and God Wars is out now, along with Tokyo Boys for V, which comes in about five different versions. But everything else is focused on Nintendo's Switch with a slow and steady release schedule of major titles seeing Arms punch north of 100K on launch.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Plague Road, the Vita hit the world needs to know about

Developer Luc Bernard has taken to Twitter to highlight the success of tactical combat game Plague Road, with the Vita version beating expectations and other formats hands down with consistently good sales. "Plague Road sold yesterday more on day 1 on Vita than Steam since release."

His message for other developers is simple, the Vita can make your game a success, and if you focus on the community, you should do well. Our job is to spread that message to the many indies who aren't considering the Vita, especially for pixel, low-poly games, and highlight the possibilities.

There are so many games on Steam it is easy to get swamped, the Vita is a niche but highly active market with a better chance of reward for a decent product.

Success breeds success, so we're getting Luc's next game, Mecho Tales too. This is the sort of deal that people need to know about, so get sharing and (politely) nudging other developers over!

Monday, June 19, 2017

God Wars storms the UK retail chart

Somehow, somewhere (mostly Amazon) us British types are still buying Vita games in their physical form. God Wars takes the No. 1 sport with a new entry, knocking Farming Simulator off the top spot, with Drive Girls sticking around at No. 2.

Most of these have less than 10 in stock, so I guess the production runs are getting smaller to match pre-orders with some spares. How long before commercial physical editions, aside from Limited Run-style releases, get the chop?

1 N  God Wars: Future Past (NISA)
2 =   Drive Girls (Rising Star)
3 - Farming Simulator 18 (Focus)
4 + NFS Most Wanted (EA)
5 Lego Star Wars: TFA (Warner)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

13 Sentinels gets an E3 trailer

There was some off-screen footage of Vanillaware's 13 Sentinels going around earlier, but I'm pleased to have waited for the HQ version. Still without formats listed, which makes me rather nervous, but here's Atlus with a westernised version of the original trailer shown off (a couple of years ago?).

Vita sales in Japan bouncing on the 4K line

Its a fairly dull week in the Japanese charts, with Vita sales back down to just above 4,000 - like its teasing Sony. On the plus side, the only new entry is a Vita game, Shiro to Kuro no Alice from Idea Factory shifting 4.385 units to land in the top 10.

However, all eyes will be focused on Switch with a roster of big games coming out over the summer and into autumn, with the Vita reduced to a few end-of-life sequels and visual novels. Hardly a fair battle, but Sony clearly has no spirit for the fight.

Vita game trailers from E3

Okay, the Vita saw exactly one "new" game announced at E3, but there are plenty of physical releases coming to boost its collectability factor, and the big games still to come all picked up new trailers to keep waving their little torches into the darkness.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Limited Run's E3 lineup rocks the Vita

There's more joy than you can shake a stick at for Vita owners, even if you're not fond of Limited Run's "limited runs" when it comes to Vita games. However, if that's the way its got to be for them to make some money and keep the community going, then fair enough. This lot might not exactly be new, but the opportunity to still own a game, like Mercenary Kings in the flesh has to be worth it.

Other Vita releases lnclude; 2064 Read Only Memories, Bard's Gold, Claire, Croixleur Sigma,
Factotum 90, and VA-11 HALL-A.

Vita marches on at E3, who needs Sony?

Yep, nothing to see, move on to our over-priced PC - says Sony! But no, say gamers and publishers, who lit up the Vita's social media bubble with gaming goodness overnight. For a start, there's the sizzle reel that Sony should have shown.
Then there's a quickfire blast of new and physical releases, demonstrating the value of Vita owners to those who may have forgotten about terms like loyalty and value. Tobyfox is bringing Undertale, the RPG with a pacifist option, our way. There's a basic version with card and manual or a Limited Edition from FanGamer that includes a physical copy, Undertale soundtrack on 2 CDs, sheet music booklet, a gold-plated music-box locket all in a neat collector’s box

Limited Run is bringing this lot our way in physical form:

  • 2064 ROM 
  • Bard's Gold 
  • Claire 
  • Croixleur Sigma 
  • Factotum 90 
  • Mercenary Kings 
  • VA-11 HALL-A
Highlighting how viable the little Vita community is, and that with just a little budget and marketing great things can still be achieved.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Review Shu

Rayman Origins was the third ever Vita game I picked up, and I still enjoy a burst of the mad French platformer. Coatsink's Shu feels very much in the same vein, with a strange cast of friends helping you along, and imbuing the titular character with special skills. Shu's job is to defeat some dark lord and find plenty of goodies, as you explore and race through a charming world afflicted by some evil power.

Every level is packed with secrets, tricks and traps that delight or annoy, depending on how well-secreted they, or if a good pixel turns out to be a bad one. That's especially when you are being chased through the level at 60fps by the dark demon that blights the land, or some of the trickier obstacles that create the main part of Shu's challenge.

Otherwise, Shu is a sometimes beautifully placid, sometimes challenging world to explore. Perfecting those new moves, looking for the telltale hint of a secret area, and wondering what happens if you jump off "just there". Levels can track back on each other, take a vertical turn and include multiple little pathways through. At the start, it is easy to misread a rock or branch and screw up, but there are plenty of totems that act as restart points and refill your five lives.

Later levels see most routes break down into a series of fixed steps and actions that you have to master, using the various skills. If your hand-eye coordination isn't that hot, this can become very annoying, and there's rarely a plan B to get around it. Mixing floating through the air, wall jumping, bashing through blocks, dipping into the water or taking a ride on a gondola, there's plenty to experiment with. But, the gaps between fun exploring and mountainous challenge feel rather uneven.

Even so, the bulk of the game is a pitch perfect joy to behold and root around in, with a timed challenge mode to compare your efforts against PSN friends.

The Vita version benefits from a special hub, The Refuge, where you get to meet your comrades in more pleasant circumstances. You can practices moves, and view art and other treasures from the developers over time as more sections open up.

Shu is super-stylish with its hand-drawn folk against eerie, shiny, gorgeous pastel or shadowy backdrops. There's lots of fun, plus a bit of a trophy fest without the grind, all of which makes it another great indie to add to your Vita's roster.

Score: 8/10
More reviews
Price: £9.49 (PSN)
Size: 1.8GB
Dev: Coatsink
Progress: Trophy vulture

Friday, June 9, 2017

2018's Bloodstained gets an E3 trailer

While the Vita will be practically invisible at E3, a few games are still on the roster including Kickstarted Bloodstained Ritual of the Night. Coming in 2018 from publisher 505 and the development team under Koji Igarashi, it should still hit the Vita given the amount of cash it raised.

Yes, the game looks a bit weird with strange umbrella battles and shiny textures, but I'm still looking forward to the release.

Wayforward bringing Mummy Demastered to consoles

Update: formats unspecified, so perhaps not for Vita but the chatter is positive.

In a surprise move, Shantae developer Wayforward will bring its tie-in retro game of the new (and shit) Mummy movie. There will be a physical release in the US, not sure about Europe yet. Even if the movie is pants, the 16-bit shooter/Metroid style game could be a lot of fun with a decent developer behind it willing to show a movie tie-in some live.

Ys VIII character art and bios

With a swathe of Vita games not coming west on the Vita this E3, NIS America provides some solace with a reminder that Ys VIII is still on the way in September. The Lacrimosa of Dana cast of characters include:

Adol Christin - He left his homeland, a nameless village in the Europe region, when he was just 16 years old and dated to adventure in the Ancient Kingdom "Ys," the Land of Mystery "Celceta," and more. Although young, he is respected as an expert "adventurer."

He was traveling across the Gaete Sea as a passenger of the Lombardia when the ship was attacked by an unseen giant sea creature. He went missing along with the other passengers.

Dana - A mystical blue-haired girl who appears in Adol's dreams. Contrary to her elegant looks, she has a wild imagination and acts quite bold, much to the surprise of her peers.

She seems to live in an advanced civilization with no record of ever having existed in the Eresia region. Adol experiences her life through his dreams.
Hummel - An enigmatic "Transporter" who goes rogue on the Isle of Seiren.

He takes pride in his work and his serious personality causes him to fulfill any duty that is requested of him. He is also a stickler for cleanliness. He drifted ashore along with a package that he was in the midst of transporting, but keeps mum about both the package and the details of his transportation request. He possesses a new type of weapon called a "gun" that is described as a small-scale cannon.
 Laxia - Daughter of the noble Roswell family of Garman, who was on the Lombardia.

She attempts to act like a humble noble, but her inflated sense of pride and stubborn inclinations make it a fruitless effort. In Castaway Village, where all manner of social status and job classes mingle, she feels like a fish out of water, but she decides to utilize her knowledge about ancient organisms and wildlife to assist Adol.
Ricotta - A girl who was living on the Isle of Seiren before Adol and the others found themselves there.

Ricotta is innocent to a fault and well-versed in both the island's geography and the Ancient Species. She gleaned all of her other knowledge and vocabulary from documents and books that drifted to the island shore, so her language skills are sometimes lacking.

She's been waiting a long time for her father to return from his exploration of the island...
Sahad - A fisherman from Greek who is a dynamic, generous, and cheerful fellow.

Laxia is often appalled by his frank and sometimes crude outbursts, but he is warm and sincere - even prone to crying when things get too emotional. He is highly knowledgeable about the sea and has his own philosophy about fishing. He has a family to get home to, which is why he decides to help Adol and escape the Isle of Seiren.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Vita sales sneak up in Japan

A couple of new entries help nudge the Vita higher up in the sales stakes, moving 4,454 units this week. The games do make the top 10 of the Media Create chart, but are nothing to write home about. Japanese Vita owners will be clinging on for more interesting fare later in the year. starting with Omega Labyrinth Z out in July to please the boob-obsessed RPG fans out there.

04 Sukitomo. Tsukiuta. 12 Memories (Bandai) - 12.763 / NEW
08 Shiin (Experience) - 7.099 / NEW

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

FuturLab's Velocity 2X physical release nears

Badland Entertainment brings the world a boxed copy of the mighty Velocity 2X: Critical Mass Edition at the end of the month, giving a fresh lease of life to one of the Vita's finest games.

The LE contains:

  • Velocity 2X game.
  • Critical Urgency expansion with 6 extra levels.
  • Dual Core expansion with 10 extra levels.
  • Daily Sprint expansion (a platforming level that is generated randomly each day; players can practice the level as many times as they like – but once they choose to start their final run, that score will be the one that appears on the leaderboard).
  • Exclusive Making-Of Documentary (20+ minutes) produced by BadLand Games and Picture Book Films.
  • Note, the PS Vita edition does not include the OST and Exclusive Studio Booklet

13 Sentinels Aegis Rim gets art and a site, but not platforms

We've already seen that Blue Reflection is coming west but not to the Vita, no thanks to Bandai. Perhaps due to the game's performance issues likely to get it a critical mauling from the four sites that still review Vita games.

Now here's another game slated for translation, but with no formats on the press release or the teaser website, I'm a bit worried about where 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim will end up playing.

The game was lined up for a PS4/Vita release in Japan, but by withholding format details now, that seems reason enough to be worried. Perhaps Atlus wants to drop it on Switch and PC instead? Still, nice art!

Mystereet F: The Detectives’ Curtain Call trailer

The games are pouring out of Japan today, here's a new visual novel with a detective flavour to it coming from Mages/5pb. Mystereet F: The Detectives’ Curtain Call is actually a compilation of previous adventures based around the Mystereet F anime. All we have here are some character bios, but it looks pretty fetching, with a solid look to everyone.

Tokyo Clanpool sees the politicians wade into RPG battle

Compile Heart has been playing dictionary lottery when it comes to its next RPG. Clearly, they just picked the word "politician" at random and decided to make them the heroes of this new action title. Then, they couldn't think of a way to get Carpool into the title, so went with Clanpool!

 But these aren't your usual lying-scum politicians hell bent on screwing the population over and ruining the health services to kill people off as fast as possible.

Instead, when an alien city lands on top of the Japanese parliament, they form a Cyber Tactics Cabinet to battle them. Otherwise, it is all just dressing for the usual bunch of cutesy heroines, going about their business bashing up the denizens of this dark tower.

Monday, June 5, 2017

D3's Omega Labyrinth Z is a bust

Boob-obsessed Omega Labyrinth sold 25K on launch in Japan a couple of years ago, I guess that was enough to keep publisher D3 working on a sequel, which won't do half as well this time out. The new trailer shows the same old jiggly girly rogue action, and the new features like "awakening" and "synthesis" systems won't do much to lift the game above the usual market of drooling perverts.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Shakedown Hawaii shows off its true colours

Vblank's Shakedown Hawaii can be played in a number of colour modes, from "GameBoy" to gaudy a few more subtle tones. Check out the new video and pick a favourite. The pixel shooter is finishing up on development and should be one of the bigger Vita indies of the summer.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

This isn't the Vita successor you were looking for

Sony announced Toio in Japan this week. With a radio comms unit, charger and interface box, the star is little motorised cubes and control rings. With software delivered in the vertical cartridge with the hole in it, its a compact fun toy for creative kids.

Toio promises a range of interactions and real-world games. Lego and Bandai are among the partners signed up to produce content and games. Perhaps Media Molecule will be invited to join in the fun, as the videos show it working rather well as a papercraft motion tool.

Home goes physical on Limited Run

The collaboration with Limited Run Games sees Ben River's Home's get a Playstation Vita and PS4 physical edition. The new release of the disturbing adventure, celebrating the fifth anniversary of the original PC launch, will include the most up-to-date version of the game, as well as a full physical booklet.

Yomawari Midnight Shadows gameplay trailer

Looking forward to some more Yomawari? The original from NIS was certainly challenging, but not quite a must-play, hopefully the sequel will have a little more to it. Anyway, check out three minutes of gameplay and scenes to see if this is more likely to grab you. the game hits the west in the Autumn, so not too long to wait.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Vita sales cling to the 4,000 mark in Japan

Not unexpectedly, Vita sales continue to bump along the bottom in Japan, with the six-year-old hardware dropping clinging to just above the 4K mark according to Media Create data. With no new hardware and first party games in almost three years, what does Sony expect?

The only new entry in the Media Create chart is the rather delayed release of Romance of the 3 Kingdoms Sangokushi 13, selling a  very modest 2,800 copies.

vita sales, ps vita, sales figures

But, as the release list shows, there's still plenty of games to come into 2018, and smaller publishers will keep plugging away with VN and RPG fodder. The next big test is Gust's next unveiling which will show if the company plans to keep bringing Atelier RPGs to the Vita, there's a big reveal next week, when we will find out.

God Wars Future Past character trailer, meet Kaguya

NIS America's God Wars Future Past is just a few weeks from launch, and here's a peek at Kaguya and Kintaro to show off a little more of the tactical RPG battle game, steeped in Japanese History but with a shiny modern look to it.

Update: and another character trailer showing off some of the cast and their skills...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ys Origin launch trailer

There's a whole world of Ys coming to the Vita with the recently confirmed September date for Ys VIII. But if you can't wait here comes Ys Origin, out this week from Falcom and DotEmu. Looks like some classic RPGing on the way for Vita owners who still have plenty to look forward to when it comes to Japanese games, and publishers willing to bring them west.

Anonymous Code heads to the Vita, maybe more Steins Gate

Yes, I took the punctuation out of the titles, because it screws with social media. But the main news is that a new visual novel from the world of Steins;Gate is coming our way, with possibly a new entrant in the main series, also from Chiyomaru Studio and publisher 5pb.

We already knew Anonymous;Code, was coming to the Vita. It is set in 2027, with a hacker story. But Steins;Gate Elite will be the next in the series, and while that is TBA on the formats front, given the huge success of the Vita version around the world, it would be a bit harsh of 5pb to drop it yet.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA opening movie and launch dates

September is looking like the next good month for the Vita, after a spectacular May, with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA now confirmed for a western release on the 12th in American and the 15th in Europe. Another cracking RPG for the Vita, I'll take that!

The intro movie shows a mystery island full of strange characters and beasts. This is another series I've never really got into, apart from Memories of Celceta back in 2014. So, looking forward to see what this can offer.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chaos;Child confirmed for western release

We all knew this was coming, but now its official. CHAOS;CHILD is coming to western Vita owners this Autumn. Part of the Science Adventure Series, the visual novel series that also spawned the critically acclaimed Steins Gate, it takes place in Shibuya, Tokyo, several years after an earthquake has nearly destroyed the district, it follows Takuru Miyashiro, a high school student who lost his parents in the earthquake, and his group of friends.

When a series of bizarre murder cases take place in Shibuya, Takuru notices that the dates of the murders match up with a series of murders that happened six years before. Using this knowledge, Takuru and his friends begin to investigate and find themselves embroiled in a dangerous murder mystery…

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Japanese Media Create sales data plus Famitsu reviews

This week's Media Create data shows Vita's poor run continuing, but - again - we're talking about six-year-old technology that's faced with a shiny new rival. What did Sony think was going to happen? More to the point, will they bother doing anything about it?

This week it sold 4,088, just a few shy of its worst over week of 4,021 back in 2012. The drama to see how low it will go would make a great TV show! Still, if it continues to sell at 4K a week, that will take it over 300,000 for the year. and closed to six million life time, which isn't a bad knock for an abandoned product that SCEJ has spent over a year pretending it doesn't exist.

On the software side, no Vita games in the top 20, and the schedule is pretty light with only Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII with Power-Up Kit due anytime soon.

Over in Famitsu land, Tekken 7 gets the plaudits, no surprise there, but both of this week's Vita games get decent reviews:

Death Mark (PS Vita) – 8/8/8/7 [31/40]
Tsukitomo. Tsukiuita. 12 Memories (PS Vita) – 7/7/7/8 [29/40]

Plantera gets a Vita trailer

While we wait to see if Wild Season or Farmville or something else tips up on the Vita, here comes Plantera. In the Ratalaika game, you buy plants, animals and items from a shop and place them in a 2D parallax scrolling garden. With the goods you get from your garden, you can earn more coins and grow a huge farm. Or you can just create your own dream garden.

The PS Vita version comes with new features plus full touch screen controls. If you want something more meaty then check out Farming Simulator 2018.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A good week for UK Vita physical sales?

Well, I didn't see anyone rushing to the distributors going "get more Vita, stat!" However, there are three new entries at the top of the UK retail chart, which is cause for celebration. PQube's Akiba's Beat perhaps undeservedly takes the No. 1 spot, given that it is a pretty poor game. The PS4 version only managed No. 26.


There's loads of DLC on PSN for the top two, so hopefully, the publishers will make even more money over and above these launch sales.

The Lost Child, a new Japanese RPG announced

Despite the drop in sales, news games continue to be announced in Japan. Kadokawa will publish Takeyasu Sawaki's The Lost Child. The teaser doesn't give much away, and there's some info coming in the new Famitsu magazine, but apparently, demons and guns are involved. The game is based on the critically loved El-Shaddai.

UPDATE: And here's a first look at the turn-based RPG adventure's gameplay, with the original teaser below

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review Oceanhorn Monster of Uncharted Seas

I first played this game on iPad a few years ago, and was charmed by its bright visuals, soaring music, and jolly-go-adventuring tone. With none of the endless exposition of JRPGs, none of the politicking nastiness of more mature games, it was a breath of fresh sea air. And, now it has landed on the Vita thanks to the desire of the community, plus the efforts of publisher FDG and developer Cornfox. So, here we go again.

Waking up on a perky, verdant looking island, surrounded by crystal seas, you start out as a young lad, who's father has vanished in a battle with some dark sea monster. Talking to the locals, you soon find yourself on destiny's path, with a stick for a weapon, and a small creaky boat with a range of islands to visit. The game is largely isometric with an island-hopping travel section to break up the exploring of forest, deserts and the many cave systems that lie under each island.
 Looking up, there's an island in the sky that's intriguing but inaccessible early on. And, you'll need to talk to townsfolk or discover isolated island dwellers, to find clues to discover the location of new islands. This bite-size approach involves some to-and-fro but never feels overwhelming. Combat starts off with tapping some hapless crabs with your stick - soon upgraded to a sword and shield. Along your travels, you soon pick up bombs, spells, a bow-and-arrow and other tools to help break into new areas and expand the map.

Oceanhorn isn't too fond of handholding, which might be good or bad for you. Making a note of any obvious clues, inaccessible areas, and where you found them, is a good way to stop from getting frustrated. Solutions to puzzles are never too far away, and keys in chests make a regular appearance along with checkpoints to save the game to prevent you having to retread too much ground.

Even then, sometimes you might just not realise you need to drop a bomb here, or move something there, which is where things get annoying. Handily, there are a million and one guides to get you out of any sticky situation.

It is rare that you are outmatched or over-crowded, by nasties, unless a boss appears. Even then, it is only a matter of using the right weapon with the right timing to bring them down. Alongside sailing, you can also do a spot of fishing to jolly things along.

Health, ammo and other bonuses lurk in the undergrowth, and you make slow progress up a linear experience tree along the way. Keeping an eye out for hidden treasure chests, walls you can blow up and other goodies are all part of the fun. The graphics don't vary much over the course of the game, somehow an ice-level gets into the mix, and Oceanhorn could definitely do with a few more enemies, but it is a fun, if sometimes frustrating, adventure to explore with eyes wide open at the loveliness of it all.

I guess it's a shame the game never had female character option, my daughter would love it even more then. And it would be cool if you could jump earlier on, I mean, really - how hard is jumping and climbing? But playing it on the Vita, with a few touchscreen features is a decided improvement on the tablet version.

Score: 8/10
More reviews
Price: £11.99 (PSN)
Size: 200MB
Dev: Cornfox/FDG
Progress: Sailing across the sea, to rescue a chest of spam!