Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Star Wars Rogue One pinball trailer

Still haven't seen the movie, but I won't mind a few Star Wars Rogue One spoilers in the guise of this smart set of pinball tables with the heroes and villains zapping wildly at each other. Looks like the usual high-class job from Zen Studios, and will line up neatly with all my other Star Wars tables.

Tactical battle game, Dynasty Warriors Godseekers hits PSN this week

Taking its cues from the Dynasty Tactics series, Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers brings tactical gameplay to the Vita and PS4 this week. Players must strategically move their units across a grid-based battlefield to defeat opposing forces, all with various skills and weapons (and costumes).

The game unfolds during the chaotic end days of the Han dynasty, a period in Chinese history when ancient China was overwhelmed by uprisings and internal strife within its imperial court.

Famed warrior Zhao Yun and his pal Lei Bin unwittingly liberate a young girl, Lixia, from a mystical prison, and in their efforts to unravel the mystery behind her imprisonment, uncover a hidden, terrible fate. The two friends and the mysterious Lixia then find themselves entangled in a pivotal struggle for the salvation of the world, and take part in a battle that will echo throughout history.

Itadaki Street shown off at Square's 30 anniversary annoucements

File under extremely unlikely to come west, here's a peek at the characters from Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts appearing in the updated version of Japan's party video game. Yes, a Wii version of the game called Fortune street did appear in western stores, but I guess it didn't do too well, as there's been nothing more.

Lots of console and mobile news from Square's event but nothing else for the Vita, not even a revised version of Crisis Core.

Monday, January 30, 2017

BeardedBear wants €15K for a Kickstarter

Looking like a cross between Super Crate Box, Whoa, Dave, PixelJunk Shooter, Nunnageddon and several other diminutive shooters, BeardedBear is up on Kickstarter, asking just €15,000 for console ports of the main PC version.

Billed as an arcade shooter with roguelike features, its about a bearded cyborg bear zapping aliens across time and space. What's not to like? Apart from the fact he seems to be killing sleeping cats!

Seems like a decent game but isn't exactly picking up the buzz, so please share and get some news out there!

Friday, January 27, 2017

MUSYNC coming to western Vitas?

Originally a Chinese Vita release, and since on mobiles across Asia, looks like MUSYNC, the challenging rhythm game might finally be headed our way. Here's one of the more challenging levels, but each one looks very different, so check out more videos to see some of the variety.

New trophies in the latest Minecraft Vita update

Minecraft version 1.41 update is out for the Vita today, and for those still playing the game as more than just a construction tool. There's 18 new trophies among the feature list, for Survival and Tumble mode, along with many, many fixes. Keep an eye on the updates in the Minecraft forums.

  • Added new 11 trophies for Survival.
  • Added new 7 trophies for Tumble.
  • Fix for Horses not jumping to the correct height.
  • Re-entering a tutorial area while the playing the Tutorial will reset the chests.
  • Fix for Slab blocks not blocking light.
  • Fix for Chickens not dropping Cooked Chicken when they die on fire.
  • Fix for Blazes not dropping Glowstone Dust when they die.
  • Fixed the drop grate of Gold Nuggets.
  • Fix for Zombie Pigmen not dropping Gold Ingots when they die.
  • Fix for tamed Ocelots remaining hostile to anything they were attacking before being tamed.
  • Fix for crash when spawning too many Shulkers.
  • Fix for Enderman not taking damage from rain while in a Boat.
  • Improvements to framerate when throwing a lot of Lingering Potions.
  • Fix for Wither Skeleton being able to walk through two block high spaces.
  • Minor changes to Battle Mini Game maps to close off areas that should not be accessible.
  • Fix for lighting issues when digging down in spawn area.
  • Fix for rename Record losing its name after being in a Jukebox.
  • Added chance of Melon, Pumpkin, and Beetroot Seeds, and Jungle Saplings spawning in the Bonus Chest.
  • Fix for a range of tooltips that would appear when the action was not available.
  • Fix for Mob Spawner error that occured after using a spawn egg to change what it should spawn.
  • Fixes to End Gateway generation.
  • Fix for End spawn location being in the wrong place.
  • Added a particle effect and sound effect when a mob spawner fails to spawn due to spawn limits.
  • Fix for crash when placing a Sign on top of Tall Grass.
  • Stop End Crystals exploding when "TNT Explodes" is disabled.
  • Fix for Hoppers not collecting items above them.

How to get sexy space pixies in your room!

By being a cheery, social person apparently. These aliens are suffering from no-date nights on their own planet. So, the Gun Gun Pixies come here to study our social interactions The Shade game is coming to Japanese screens via Compile Heart, unlikely to head west, I suspect.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Atelier Firis goes big on building

If you felt a little feeble in any of the previous Ateliers, with your little magic cauldron and some dinky bottled spells, Atelier Firis should scale things up a bit for travelling parties. And there's a new trailer to boot.

The Synthesis system in Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey features new additions to suit the story's nomadic nature. For example, Mass Synthesis allows Firis to create large items to overcome obstacles in her path, such as building a bridge to cross a river, or a boat to cruise across a lake.

Deciding what to build not only changes the appearance and accessibility of various locations, but can also affect the course of the story! Furthermore, the effectiveness of items can be amplified with the use of special Catalysts, which grant bonuses and provide greater perks to the end result.

Publisher Koei Tecmo also revealed some bonuses available to those who pre-order. Specifically, two costumes give Firis useful bonuses. The Resort Vacation costume increases the chances of finding high quality materials for use in synthesis, whilst the Wonderland outfit decreases the time it takes for synthesis and fast travelling between landmarks!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Would you sign up to Tattoo Nation from Sushi Typhoon?

Tattoon Nation arrived in Japan last September, got a fair score in Famitsu, but vanished after that. It was mentioned as getting an English release, but no sign of it yet. The game sees magical tattoos being used in battle after some mythical disaster, to get around Japan's intense aversion to body art.

I'd be more interested in getting Sushi Typhoon's other game Creeping Terror on 3DS ported to the Vita, that looks a bit more with it.

Akiba's Beat getting a limited and Neet edition

Not much detail, but it looks like buyers of the physical Akiba's Beat, dragged west by PQube, will come with a neat artbook and box in this limited edition. In the UK, it will be available exclusively at GAME when the title launches in the spring.

UPDATE: A new LE, called the Neet editoin will be available from Rice Digital for UK and US buyers. The version contains the game for PS4 or Vita, a bag, soundtrack CD, art book and Pinkun plushie.

The Vita version is £34.99 compared to the £49.99 for the PS4 version.

Set in an accurate but hyper-stylised recreation of Akihabara, the world-famous district of Tokyo where technology meets culture, the action RPG offers real-time party based combat. As dark forces descend on the town, the people’s memories, hopes and dreams manifest in reality and warp Akihabara in strange ways, threatening the very fabric of space and time!

 It is up to self-professed NEET, Asahi Tachibana, to lead a rag-tag group of chosen ones to take on the freakish manifestations of Akihabara.

Vita passes 5.5 million in Japan on latest Media Create chart data

As is the traditional, all hardware figures are sliding down for the rest of winter, making it hard to tell what's good or bad news. The Vita sold 11,521 on the week, enough to take it over 5.5 million lifetime. That represents about 16% of Media Create's hardware sales, and down substantially less in percentage terms than the dominant PS4 or 3DS.

On the software side, this week sees one-time Vita game Gravity Daze 2 top the chart for the PS4. Valkyria Azure Revolution slots in at no. 7 for the Vita, at 18,000 that's just half the sales of the PS4 version. Danganronpa V3 sticks around at No. 8 with another 16,000 sales.

Last week's figures

Side Kicks a murder adventure shows California, Japan style

Billed as an adventure game that reveals the real evil, Side Kicks has been under the radar since an announcement last year. Now publisher Extend is putting up some gameplay clips and a more recent trailer, showing off the team of the Sakrada Police Department, set in a fictional Californian town.
 I like the relatively normal people and visual style of the game, which seems to be a murder mystery set in a diner, apparently with lots of the action set around town, and in an idealised version of a California diner. The official Side Kicks site (some English) has plenty more imagery. There's also a bunch of tweets (in Japanese) flying around.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New trailer shows Toukiden 2 coming March 24th

A new action-packed trailer is out today, confirming a Vita release for Toukiden 2. It shows off the versatile Demon Hand device and the village of Mahoroba, as well as some of the new characters who will aid players on their quest. The game is out on the 24th in Europe, on the 21st in the US.

Pre-orders (up now on Amazon.com for a physical version) will receive the ‘Tenko Costume’ armour, allowing Slayers to dress up as their fluffy partners, as well as the “Sanada Masayuki”, “Sanada Noboyuki”, “Sarutobi Sasuke” and “Chiku Rin In” Mitama to bolster player’s skills and abilities and aid them on their Oni-slaying adventure.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Qubic dropping more fun games for Vita

Hot on the snappy heels of Air Race Speed comes another duo of mobile ports for the Vita from busy developer/publisher Qubic Games.

Mr Pumpkin Adventure, created by Japanese developer CottonGame is also a Steam/Wii U title. A point-and-click, hand-drawn, adventure, you have to solve puzzles for the amnesiac vegetable in a strange world of robots, other veggies and sinister plots.

Geki Yaba Runner (for which a 3DS Deluxe edition exists) is yet another endless runner, arriving at the end of January. It features diminutive gnomes on a quest to collect lots of socks. It features, challenging and quirky runner gameplay, over 100 levels, character transformation to get over specific obstacles, boss castles and more.

A better look in the Blue Reflection

Now we've seen some of the gameplay for Blue Reflection, the game is starting to look of more interest, if you can get past the daytime plain schoolgirl act. By night, these girls are kick-ass warriors laying waste to floaty demon things with, umm, giant bears as a special attack. Throw in the usual undie-gazing activity and its a typical Gust game through a misty filter, due out at the end of March.

UPDATE: Character trailers now rolling out, will add them to the bottom.

Rainbite the latest developer to nibble on the Vita

While Sony doesn't like to talk about the Vita, in the background it is still supporting development and encouraging indies to release their games on the venerable handheld. Exhibit A: A tweet from Rainbite in New Zealand, showing off their new Vita test kit.

UPDATE: Here's a pic of the RPG_looking game in action...

The team has just published PC game Slick: Ruff Justice, a top-down GTA or Hotline Miami style shooter in pseudo-3D with FPS elements. However, reading the comments, this is for something new and unannounced. Can't wait to see what it is!

Exile Election first trailer and info

Hmm, where have we heard this before? A mad toy doll in charge of the lives of a bunch of humans with murky pasts and tortured souls! Seems like NIS is borrowing liberally from Spike's Danganronpa when it comes to Exile Election.

The game sees a dozen unwilling contestants trapped in an amusement park with the mechanical monster toy hosting regular elections deciding who gets bumped off. To survive you, as Kaname Ichijou, need to figure out who killed your little sister in a previous election. Dive into the others' personalities and weaknesses to gain leverage over them, trying to dupe them into keeping you alive.

The official website has the first character information, but I think we all know where this is headed!

Fate Extella tops UK Vita retail chart

The UK chart finally sees some action after the seasonal sales start to drift. Marvelous manage to grab the top spot in a battle with Koei as Fate/Extella (review) outsells the latest Atelier offering. Neither game manages to dent the all-formats charts, but presumably the publishers are still making enough money to make retail versions worthwhile.

Note that these figure won't include any limited editions from the publisher's own online stores, which is where the majority of sales could come from, given the niche nature of the Vita market.

1. Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star (Marvelous)
2. Atelier Shallie Plus (Gust)
3. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TT)
4. Lego Marvel Avengers (TT)
5. Mincraft PlayStation Edition (4J Studios)

Over on Amazon UK's chart, we have the usual mix of new titles and sales madness. What's kind of odd, is that Amazon's sales are incorporated in the official Chart Track data above, and you'd imagine would dominate over regular retailers like GAME, Argos and the few larger online retailers that still stock Vita titles.

1. Need for Speed Most Wanted (Criterion)
2. Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified (Activision)
3. LittleBigPlanet (Sony)
4. Valkyrie Drive (PQube)
5. Corpse Party Blood Drive (Marvelous)
6. Steins Gate 0 (PQube)
7. Atelier Shallie Plus (Gust)
8. Assassin's Creed III Liberation (Ubisoft)
9. Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star (Marvelous)
10. Persona 4 Golden (Atlus)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review - Rayman Origins

File under so late to the party, that the even the cleaners have left! I've had this as a physical release since launch, but apart from some quick blasts, have never really sat down and enjoyed it. I did just that over a quiet January weekend - reminded by the fact that 2013's Rayman Legends will be a Switch launch title - and boy is Origins fabulous. Well worth picking up for £5 in the latest PSN sale.

The story, as is, sees the lazy Ray-folk snoring so loudly that they wake up a grumpy witch who curses their glade. The fairy folk and Electoons are captured and must be set free. Cue much platform action, across flat open races, mountainous climbs, collapsing scenery with a spot of flying and swimming to round things out.

With their polygon obsession, it is easy for  developers to overlook the impact of some Each of the 60 level looks gorgeous, with spectacular interaction between creatures, scenery, helpful elements and many cunningly hidden secrets. Each level is short enough to not get bored of, and if you collect enough Electoons, you can scoot off, and venture back and forth. Each level also has a time trial mode to add a splash of extra challenge.

To add some extra spice, you can play as Globox or a couple of other Ray-folk, but the Vita version is single player only. In a nod to its then newness, there is a touchscreen pinch-and-zoom feature to zoom in and out on some of the 60-odd levels.

But its the manic platforming that's the heart of the game. A heart is a precious thing in Rayman, as it will save you from death if get tagged by a nasty, land on some spikes or fall into a beastie's lair. You can only have one at a time and learning where they are in tougher levels is a key to success.
The game moves swiftly between world types, from the verdant Jibberish Jungles, dark and dingy caverns of the Grumbling Grottos where playing with the lights is essential for your survival to the icy fruit madness of Gourmand Land. Every new level has at least one delightful moment, and you can go back again and again to find new things, or Electoon prisons you missed and find new tricks that impress.

If you ever get bored of the latest whizzy shooter, or feel that gaming in general is depressing you, Rayman is one of those cheery titles that can make you fall in love with the whole scene again.

Having gone way back for this review it looks like a game that could be released today and be rapturously received, so if you've never played either Vita title - go and grab them. Hopefully Ubisoft will revisit the series properly one day and provide a new adventure.

Score: 10/10
More reviews
Price: £4.99 (PSN)
Developer: Ubisoft
Progress: 99 Electoons go floating by

Ghost 1.0 possible for Vita

The Spanish love affair with the Vita seems to be continuing with indie dev Fran Fistra up for a possible port of Ghost 1.0. It is pretty low down on his list of things to do in 2017, but if the intent is there, the Vita community should make him welcome. That said, the dev brought his popular UnEpic over to the Vita last year, so there's a good chance of this happening.

In the game, a mysterious agent, capable of becoming a digital ghost, sneaks aboard the Nakamura Space Station. The station is well-protected with its heavy defences, a never-ending arsenal of weapons and mysterious artifacts.

Review - Axiom Verge

Another late to the party review - sorry, I'm trying to catch up. Axiom Verge sees science go wrong, again! Perhaps Donald Trump is right, and just scared of the cosmos ending or being eaten by inter-dimensional goblins?

Anyway, waking up in some creaky alternate reality, our hero Trace is this week's hapless scientist in need of getting out of his own experiment-gone-wrong mess. He certainly wouldn't last a minute without some of the neat weapons left lying around this Alien-esque landscape.  But this isn't really much of a shooter, more a game of trial-and-logic.

Setting out, inspired to survive by some guidance from a disembodied voice, he soon finds notes about the horrors that are going on in this strange place, along with some increasingly tough denizens, although they are more for show than anything.

Axiom Verge isn't a game to rush through, every room, accessed through airlock doors that denote progress, looks like a piece of fine pixel art, with subtle detail and love crafted into every corner.

Doing his best to bring back memories of NES games, Tom Happ has done a great job creating the visual style, which looks awesome on the Vita's small OLED screen, thanks to the excellent port by Sickhead Games. I can't imagine it looking as good on a big LCD!

A map helps remind you of where you might need to head, while the right thumbstick cycles through the various weapons, with the triggers and areas of the touchscreen used to activate special weapons or effects.

And, naturally, you'll soon discover that some places are inaccessible without the right weapon or skill, as the game lurches into Metroidvania territory. The first example is the Nova shot that can explode some distance from you, to trigger out-of-reach switches and so on.

This all necessitates a fair bit of running back and forth, and when you get the sneakier equipment, then you need to explore all the rooms carefully to find out how you can change the environment. There are probably enough save points, but it always feels like you are miles from one, just when you need it.

Given all the love for the game, I was hoping that Axiom Verge would be a near perfect experience, but there are too many easy ways to zap the bad guys, even the bosses without ever really feeling under threat. As soon as you pick up enough health upgrades, then dying rarely seems an option, once you've learned their patterns.

Fortunately, the rest of the game from the score to every oozing pixel provides plenty of menace and threat. And to think its all the work of one person is hellishly impressive. Even if there isn't huge replay value, bar some secret rooms and weapons for completionists, Axiom Verge's icon will sit on my classics page with Risk of Rain, TxK, Fez, Spelunky and other indie essentials as games never to be deleted.

Score: 9/10
More reviews
Price: £14.99 (PSN, currently £7.39 on sale)
Developer: Thomas Happ (port by Sickhead)
Progress: Tooled up

Review - Stranded A Mars Adventure

Tama Studios is one of a few publishers/developers suddenly showing an interest in bringing their wares to the Vita. Stranded is happy-pixel, charming, mobile port with simple but fun mechanics that sees your crashed astronaut trying to make it to the end of each level.

Stranded is a fair example of class 101 in game development. Take a simple mechanic, expand on it a few times and slowly ramp up the difficulty, but like Forrest Gump, simple is sometimes good! All you have to do is get to the end of the level without running out of air. Level one just lets you jump, but successive levels add sliding, jet-pack, wall jumps and other tricks, and soon its a veritable feast of well-timed leaps and moves.

Being a mobile port, the aim is to get the three-star rating for each level, and collect as many nuts as you can to upgrade your suit, or buy a spanking new one. The nuts act as a jumping guide in most cases, but on the more complex levels there are various routes to take with blind leaps and frequent deaths, but flags as way points mean you're soon back in the action.

Definitely one to play with the D-pad rather than the analog stick, this is old-fashioned fun gaming with no pretension, and that's no bad thing. Sure, some levels are confusing as to where you can and cannot land or bounce, and when you go wrong its feels easy to blame the game, but for a little piece of arcade twitchiness, but not a patch on Jetpack Joyride, enjoy it for what it is.

Score: 6/10
More reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer: Tama
Progress: Gone Nuts

Review - Fate Extella The Umbral Star

I've never really gotten into one of these Musou whack-a-mole games with meaningless combo counters and endless cookie-cutter monsters being put to the sword by practitioners of over-the-top moves. However, Fate/Extella could be the game that changes my opinion. The latest in the Fate series, it sees the saga depart from visual novels and card games, into combat mode as a huge comet trashes a planet, leaving behind giant shadows to feast on the natives.

With the survivors' minds wedded to some AI virtual construct, the Moon Cell, it all goes a bit digital. In this realm, you can summon legendary warriors, borrowed imaginatively from many histories and literature, as powerful servants to fight off the shadows and their minions, as well as some other upstarts, who have an eye on the binary landscapes recreated inside.

Due to some wonky firmware update within the Moon Cell, there's chaos on both sides, ultimately it boils down to a game of conquest. You need to battle through area after area of minions, claiming sections for your own, trashing the slightly more powerful aggressors before beating down an end-of-level overlord.

Battle of the Fates

Helping you out are a range of sword wielders (saber class), bow men (archer class) and pike prodders (lancer class), plus assassins, riders and a few more to act as your servants in battle. You can also get upgrades in the form of Mystic Codes, which are collections of skills triggered by the direction keys, Bonds with other characters that provide powerful skills and a range of personal power-ups for your character.

There's a lot of them to go around, but in most cases its hard to feel them making a massive difference. Noble Phantasms are the big finishing moves and while splashy and destructive, only really help clear out an EOL.

The first thing that impresses in Fate Extella is the smoothness and fluid visuals, the game plays at a constant pace regardless of how many low-poly moles there are on-screen, bolstered by plenty of flash effects, presumably to hide the lack of detail, but it does make things seem impressive. While its not as shiny as the PS4 version, it really does look good with a fair degree of background detail.

Aerial enemies see you leaping about the battlefield like a demented grasshopper, trying to swat them down while arrows handily point out the direction of the major foes, not that you can see much in the middle of a major dust-up, with blur and wobbly effects aplenty.

Stab and Repeat

To bulk things out further are side quests, the same battles with some random objectives thrown in and free battle which is exactly the same, with the only objective being to boost your score or ranking.

At this point you realise there really isn't much depth to the main game, and the roster of annoying characters (including a squealing Idol of all things) show just how hard it is for most Japanese developers to think outside their little cubicles. The random lovey-dovey scenes make me want to delete the game there and then,

The gameplay is fun for a couple of hours, but you can soon lose faith and the will to live through the barmy plot. And then, once you've admired the latest new character moves, you go back to the same couple of moves that seem to work, while working around in a tight circle to thrash the enemies. The harder game modes don't make it any more fun, they just mean more hitting needs to be done faster, which is challenging, but oh so boring after a few failures.

While the game is a fast-paced technical marvel, neither the story nor the game mechanics really do anything to support all the flashy visuals. The battles rapidly get too long to be any fun and,

Score: 6/10
More reviews
Price: £29.99 (PSN)
Developer: Marvelous
Progress: Slashed until I couldn't slash anymore!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Berserk's Awakening abilities explained

In Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, playable characters have devastating abilities that must be “awakened” to draw out their true potential. Awakening abilities offers overwhelming temporary boosts that allow players to demolish hordes of enemies in their path.

Players can take advantage of Guts’ Berserker Armor to unleash deadly blows, Griffith’s demonic Femto form to deal swift bursts of damage, and Zodd’s giant Apostle (PS4 screen below) form to effortlessly topple foes. Players will encounter an array of fearsome foes throughout Berserk and the Band of the Hawk.

Evil Spirits, Ogres, Kelpies, Golems, Trolls and Demonic Knights are just a handful of the many enemies that players must annihilate during their adventure. Collect raw materials and upgrade weaponry outside of battle to increase attack damage and unlock new combos to wipe out these savage opponents.

God Wars: Future Past checks out with a new trailer

With a trial version of Kodokawa's God Wars hitting the Japanese PSN in a couple of weeks, here's another anime trailer showing off some of the doubtlessly insane story. The tactical RPG is headed west in March, so check out the official NIS America site for some slightly more comprehensible details.

Fate Extella DLC campaign announced

Fate Extella hits stores and PSN today, with that smart limited edition. My review is in progress and I've hardly gotten my mind around some of the moves from the main characters, but Marvelous already has a roster of DLC extras lined up.

The post-launch DLC schedule for Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is spread across 5 weeks, each week bringing exclusive costume content for an array of Servants - from swimsuits to formal wear, and everything in-between, there’s sure to be something to please everyone. Fans of Fate/stay night will want to particularly check out Week 5 which will provide alternative models for ‘Saber’, Gilgamesh and ‘Archer’! Check out the attached pictures to see the entire DLC catalogue!

New EU PSN sale replaces the Christmas sale

You  may still have a few hours to grab a bargain from the January sale, Resident Evil 2 Revelations for £7.99 etc,  but Sony is already replacing it with a "Games under €20 (£16) sale," Most are for PS4, but there's some PS3 and Vita goodies to grab too. If you still have any money in the crappy January of Doom!

Note: The web PSN doesn't seem to be working right now, and I'm not sure if the sale prices are up on the Vita PSN store, so don't buy just yet! (UPDATE: Seems to updating now).

Highlights include: Active Soccer 2 DX, Axiom Verge, BADLAND: Game of the Year Edition, Crypt of the NecroDancer, Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth – Digital Edition, EARTH DEFENSE FORCE® 2017 PORTABLE, Downwell, Dex, Jetpack Joyride, Slain: Back from Hell, MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death, MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM EXTREME VS-FORCE, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, One Piece Burning Blood, Rayman Legends, Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us series and so on.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pick a partner for Touhou Genso Wanderer

NIS America has sneaked out another trailer for Touhou Genso Wanderer, showing off the range of partners who will accompany the lead character, Reimu, the Hakurei Shrine Maiden, on her RPG adventures. The game, and its splinter project Double Focus, arrive toward the end of March.

Uncanny Valley launching early February

Pixel survival horror games are doing a roaring trade on the Vita, with Claire review and Home, among others already firm favourites. Now, along comes Uncanny Valley (PSN blog post), a game where you have to think about what you do, as it provides an open, sandbox story, where decisions will have repercussions later on.

Timepiece Ensemble checks in during Febuary for Japan

Timepiece Ensemble from developer Glace and publisher Entergram is another all-girl visual novel, with a talking cat. This one lives in a shop and sells time to the school girls, enabling them to do more with their day. I'd guess there are plenty of consequences to that, and lots of fun too. Formerly a Windows 18-rated VN, the Vita version lands in Japan at the end of February. Official site, here.

The cops are crashing Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Venus

Whoop, whoop, that's the sound of the police! As Tecmo's love island of sporty girls continue to get the updates with a couple of risque costumes. Quite why Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Venus never came west is (not that much of) a mystery, but if it turns up on the Switch, or if they do a Deluxe version on PS4 only, I will be be miffed!

BadLand and FuturLab make Velocity 2X physical

While not quite the PS4 super bundle with an audio CD and more extras, the PS Vita physical edition of Velocity 2X is on the way from rival-to-Limited-Run publisher, BadLand. The FuturLab hit shooter is one of the classic retro-modern games on the Vita, along with the company's other output like Surge Deluxe which I still like a blast of from time to time.

The game comes with a code for Velocity Ultra, the Vita-update to the PSP original. The big question really is what are FuturLab working on next? They were last seen working on PSVR products, but Sony is going very quiet on that front.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

More Mosou Stars character trailers

UPDATE: And to celebrate all the new folks below, here's a new, more full-on trailer.

Ooops, looks like I missed these at the weekend, a trio of new(ish) character videos for Musou Stars. Given I'm currently reviewing Fate Extella, better get used to all these whack-a-mole, massed-rank, battle games. The new members of the crew include Hollow, Millenia, and Ryu Hayabusa.

More recent press in Japan also reveals that Laegrinna from Deception IV: Blood Ties, Oda Nobunyaga from Samurai Cats, plus usual suspects Lu Bu from Dynasty Warriors, and Ii Naotora from Samurai Warriors, likely with more to be added to the roster, or as DLC characters for later.

Super Robot Wars V gameplay footage

Another live stream yesterday (alongside Blue Reflection, posted earlier) was Bandai's latest from the world of Super Robot Wars. The footage is up in high quality to take a peek at, with the dinky robot heroes beating each other up on land and in space. The game is out next month in Japan, and seems to be one of the series that will never head west, although if local sales decline, who knows!

Games Workshop's PS4/Vita Talisman arrives in spring

Nomad Games and the legendary Games Workshop will unleash the Talisman board game,
adapted to bring the experience to PlayStation 4 and Vita. Given most board/card Vita games died on their arse, hopefully a big brand title will have more legs!

Going the full D&D route, family or friends take on the classic roles of a heroic warrior, powerful sorceress, wizard or even a troll. Each of you are on a Magical Quest - In this perilous adventure, players battle it out to journey across a dangerous land and be the first to claim the Crown of Command, a magical artefact with the power to destroy all rivals and make the bearer the true ruler of the kingdom.

The PlayStation version will include over 50 characters to choose from, alternative endings and rules, unlock-able perks, as well as a number of expansions. So for all you fantasy RPG fans out there, be prepared for an epic adventure with friends and family this Spring!

God Wars Future Past confirmed for March

I've had this penciled in for an end of March launch on the release list for ages, so I'm not sure why it needs confirming. However, NIS America has done a press release and got a post up on PSN blog, so I may as well join in the fun. God Wars hits America on the 28th and Europe on the 31st March, cool Limited Edition via the NISA store.

Based on last November's story trailer, the isometric strategy battle game from Kadokawa is a little more personal than the bigger-than-big sounding title. With turn-based battles, every character has a main and secondary role that can help turn the tide of war, along with a wide range of weapons and equipment.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Mask of Truth heading west

The Utawarerumono games from AquaPlus are confirmed for a western release via Atlus. America gets both physical ($39.99) and digital Vita versions, while Europe is going digital-only, price TBC.

Mask of Deception will release in the spring, and the sequel, Mask of Truth will arrive later in the year, both with English text and the original Japanese audio.

The original sold 47K on its release in Japan last September, with the games packing an action RPG into a visual novel.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception features:
  • An Unforgettable Story - Mask of Deception offers a story-rich visual novel experience (40-50+ hours long) that lets players shape the future of a fully realized world filled with fantastical lore and history! Mask of Deception sets up the story for a thrilling conclusion in Mask of Truth, and we'll reveal more information about the final game at a later date.
  • An Active SRPG Battle System - Players will need to defend Haku and his friends by engaging in intense SRPG combat with the various hostiles that populate the world. The battle system is a thrilling mix of turn-based tactics and Attack Chain mechanics. Players can remain active during combat by successfully completing timing-based charging rings to execute critical attacks or vital dodges/blocks.
  • Fully Fleshed Out Combat - Unique combat features such as the rewind function, elemental affinities/weaknesses, unique character skills, and more add a layer of depth to fights. It'll take true tactical acumen to emerge victorious in battle!
  • Breathtaking Art - With a stunning art style and beautifully rendered cutscenes, the game is a feast for the eyes for Japanese visual novel and anime aficionados! 
  • Beautiful Songs and a Thrilling Score - The rousing music, recorded and remastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios and EastWest Studios, is a perfect soundtrack to accompany a great adventure. 

Blue Reflection likes some slow action

I tweeted about yesterday's live stream from Gust, but must have missed the first showing of some Blue Reflection gameplay in between the hours of jabbering. Here it is in high quality, showing off some classic Vita-style dungeoning with a very restrained, filtered palette and some rather slow, placid, RPG battling.

UPDATE: Latest video shows off 15 minutes of fun across an hour of typically mad Japanese live stream...
I thought it was more visual novel, based on all the previous school girl-talk clips but this looks passable, even if the engine needs work on its loading speed.

Danganronpa V3 bears up the Media Create chart

The bear that doesn't care hits No. 2 in Japan's Media Create chart,  with the Vita version trouncing the PS4 model. But angry bears fail to top the combined world collision of Disney and Final Fantasy in the latest Kingdom Hearts title. Even with the PS4 version splitting the market, D3 managed very consistent sales compared to previous games.

1. Kingdom Hearts 2.8 (PS4) 137, 797
2. Danganronpa V3 (Vita) 76, 166
3. Danganronpa V3 (PS4) 40, 006
10. Minecraft (Vita) 8,890
14. Valkyrie Drive Bikini Party Edition (Vita) 5,078

That splash does little for Vita sales which dives in traditional fashion down to 13,816, still tracking its usual 14-15% of the market. It should pass 5.5 million units next week for Japan but even if continues to sell 10K a week over most of the year, Sony Japan should be pretty happy and developers will keep on coding for it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tokyo Xanadu LE coming west

Falcom's Tokyo Xanadu has been promised a western release for a while thanks to Aksys. Now we have some more solid details with the unveiling of a neat Limited Edition (the first one for a while, will add it to the Pinterest board of similar loveliness) plus a summer release, ahead of a tarted up PS4 version later in the year.

The Vita edition, which hit Japan in October 2015, comes with:
  • Tokyo Xanadu Physical Game (Vita)
  • 5″ Deluxe Morimaru Plush
  • Blade Card Game Deck
  • 60 page Art Book
  • CD Soundtrack
  • Collector’s Box
Aksys also has Caligula and Bad Apple Wars to deliver to us lucky western Vita owners.

Atelier Shallie Plus launch trailer

Hitting stores on Friday, Atelier Shallie Plus is an update on the PS3 adventure, featuring new content and secrets. It takes new devotees, perhaps those who enjoyed Atelier Sophie (review), or fans of the earlier games in the series on a new journey. It will see familiar faces from other Atelier titles helping heroines Shallistera and Shallotte on their journey through the world of Dusk.

Returning characters who take on a larger role in Atelier Shallie Plus include Escha Malier, the eccentric specialist of old-style alchemy, Logix Ficsario, the down-to-earth alchemist and government official, and the talented Ayesha Altugle, famously known for her remedies and medications. Players can choose any of these characters to join their party as well as experience brand new event scenarios not present in the original Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea.

Fate Extella gets a launch trailer

Hitting PSN this week, welcome Marvelous'  Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star game which comes with a Day One PSN version for PlayStation Vita with an exclusive DLC outfit "Cold-Blooded Warden" for Gilgamesh.

Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star features a diverse cast of “Servants” – ancient warriors of legend and imagination, always at their Masters’ orders – who survived the Holy Grail War that took place on the Moon. In a future watched over by the all-powerful lunar super computer Moon Cell Automaton, these champions now battle for dominance over this digital realm, known as “SE.RA.PH.” This story takes place after the events described in Fate/EXTRA, and depicts the world after that previous Holy Grail War.

Rogue Aces, almost home for tea and medals!

Infinite State is getting closer to completion with Rogue Aces, currently in beta. Here's another clip of the bright-and-breezy shooter tearing up the skies. Follow their Twitter for all the latest details and fun things they are cramming into the game.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Where can I buy a PS Vita?

Having had plenty of fun and games watching minuscule supplies of Vita consoles arrive and vanish across Europe and the US over the Black Friday and holiday season, here's 2017's slighty less-frenzied edition. This is important, as people still want to buy the Vita, even if Sony is making it increasingly tough to do so.

After supplies all but vanished over Christmas, hopefully because Sony Japan was hogging stock for its own big sales (almost 200,000 Vitas sold in six weeks), a new western-model Vita might be slightly less unicorn-like now.

Options are Amazon third-parties (semi-regular stock) eBay or second hand stores (check for scratches). But perhaps the best option is to grab a Japanese model, commonly available new from many importers (on Amazon, eBay and more), and live with the UI X-O button crossover.

I'll update when time allows. Do shout/comment if you spot a new Vita on sale anywhere.

UPDATED: 22 March

North America


Amazon UK has Vita systems at £198 (up £10 on last month) fulfilled by Bargain Games UK (better than the Italian source from recent months).
Argos has no Vita consoles, but some games onsale.
Smyths Toys stated they weren't getting any new stock in, after selling out over Christmas!
GAME has some pre-owned stock, at least you can check it out in-store, unlike eBay.

Amazon DE has PS Vita Lego MegaPacks (7 left) for €299.
Game Spain has PS Vita Star Wars Lego bundles for a bargain €195.

Ausatralia/Middle East

EB Games AU has pre-owned stock

JP video roundup: Accel World vs SAO and more

Accel World VS Sword Art Online Millennium Twilight gets a highy polished opening trailer as I try to catch up on the few new Japanese videos that popped up over the last week. The rest are visual novel fare, but it looks like they'll take up more of the Vita's roster in 2017, so its a good job we're growing to love them.

Blue Reflection

Wand of Fortune 2

Friday, January 13, 2017

Focus confirm Farming Simulator 2018 for Vita

While announcing a Farming Simulator knock-off for the Switch, Focus Interactive has also let slip that Farming Simulator 2018 will be heading to the Vita, due sometime in 2017. The Vita previously enjoyed FS14 and FS16, but missed out on last year's iteration.

Developed by GIANTS Software, Farming Simulator 18 brings a load of new features for virtual farmers to harvest fields from the palms of their hands! It opens up access to a huge selection of over 50 farming vehicles and machines, faithfully recreated from over 30 of the biggest names in the industry, including AGCO's most respected brands: Challenger, Fendt, Massey Ferguson and Valtra.

Yep, Nintendo has just launched the Vita 2!

Well, that has a familiar look to it. The Nintendo Switch overnight news includes a third-party line up with FIFA and Rayman Legends. And, oh look, here come some gimmicky Nintendo games (ARMS, 1,2 Switch, Snipperclips), just like the Vita had. Add in a bunch of quirky Japanese games heading west in Puyo Puyo Tetris from Sega and Square's Project Setsuna (both Japanese Vita titles) and a new Shin Megami Tensei title to appeal to the otaku. More game news and posts on the Microconsoles Roundup blog.

Déjà vu anyone? Throw in some retro Sonic games, a return for Bomberman plus Nintendo's regular staples and its hard to be super, super excited. But clearly Switch will be home to lots of Japanese games that didn't quite make it west for Vita - looking at you Square Enix! With no sign of CoD or obvious sci-fi heavy hitters, at least the Switch contines to offer a wider, all-encompassing range of games.

The £279.99 ($299.99) Switch, plus more for extra controllers, natch, is a 720p HD mobile or 900p TV machine (for complex games like Zelda), presumably 1080p for simpler titles. Internals are unspecified, but it is powerful enough to run a custom Skyrim game. And, just like the Vita, it has one crippling pricing flaw, $80 for extra controllers, which will nix most of those cheery images of family gaming!

Looking at the game list, Switch actually has a far worse release line up than the Vita managed, although quite a few digital titles (Binding of Issac, Shovel Knight and others) will be added to the eShop by launch day, 3rd March, to bulk things out - but little new stuff.

It is also over-priced compared to the PS4/X1 competition, and big launch hitter Zelda will hit Wii U too, diluting the appeal. On the plus side, microSD storage support - showing Sony how it should be done! Then again, Nintendo's PSN-style subscription services sounds typically Nintendo-clueless!

Nintendo also risks a Sony-style backlash dragging developers up and promising games that aren't even in development yet like a Suda-51 No More Heroes project. Also there was no mention of Monster Hunter - at all! Has the Capcom bubble finally burst?

That said, after an inevitable autumn price cut, I'll be picking one up, when Mario Odyssey arrives, as I can see lots of smaller Japanese and indie developers considering it a natural successor to the Vita. If it sells enough it should be viable through 2018-2020, just enough time for Sony to fart out a proper Vita 2.

Quick and blatantly obvious predictions:

Major western publishers treat Switch exactly like they did the Vita.
Many promised games never show up if Switch sales are poor.
Japanese and western indie devs migrate Vita titles to Switch at a growing rate.
Switch has its best year in 2018, then fades fast.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Vita owners laugh in the face of statistics

As with any relic or collectible, the Vita is more of an emotional proposition, just like baseball cards, classic cars, stamps or build-an-R2-D2 part works. There is barely an economic case these days for teams to develop a game, or for gamers to buy increasingly rare, limited or costly boxed copies of them. Yet, delightfully and amazingly, people do, with sizeable effort on both sides.

I have no idea why, but am truly impressed when, developers choose Vita as a target platform. Or when Vita owners help a game reach some distant stretch goal or encourage a developer by weight of passion to bring a version out for us.  

Stick Your Statistics

However, for those into their numbers, according to the new Game Developer Conference survey report, only 2% of developers currently have the Vita in mind (and the data could be quite old). Fortunately there are many hundreds, if not thousands of developers out there, and only 3% (quite possibly the same crowd) are focused on the upcoming Switch. 

Over in the sales data column, the Vita captured just 0.2% of the UK retail market revenue and 0.4% share according to GfK data. UK retail sales hit £776 million in 2016, so Vita earned £155,200 of that pie, according to the data. Still, not bad for a device Sony killed three years ago, and you know what they say about statistics! So why are the games still coming? Clearly the numbers don't add up.

I'm assuming that sales from online publisher stores like Marvelous and NISA don't count toward that total. All those limited editions that people keep sharing on Twitter must add up! There's also digital, which if Sony would ever let a publisher mention them, should shunt sales, value and revenue a lot higher, otherwise this blog would have been left intentionally blank back in 2014. 

Analysts are wanking themselves silly over sparse data points, based on incomplete numbers and fragmented information, captured using increasingly out of date methods. Why? Because that's their job. 

Reasons to be Cheerful

Over in Japan the Vita still makes up 15-20% of its home market in hardware and software sales. Already this year, we've seen plenty of new games announced for the Vita, that will probably make their way here as the Japanese publishers need to sell more copies now to justify development expenses.

Also there's the release list, it looks pretty healthy, even if a few titles get cancelled or developers fail. And as we wade into 2017, the games keep coming with new announcements from western devs starting to trickle through, yep, only a trickle but that's all we really need.

I think this basically means us Vita owners, and the few newcomers who can find a unit are finding themselves part of a slightly crazy family, 

A Rose in the Twilight grows release dates and new screens

NIS America has potted the release dates for A Rose in the Twilight, with the spooky puzzle platformer sprouting on April 11 for America and April 14 in Europe, both on PSN and physically via NISA's store.

In North America, a standard or limited edition will be available exclusively on the NIS America Online Store. In Europe, only the limited edition version will be available from the NISA store.

New NepNep Connect Neptune Chaos Chanpuru trailer

Looks like the Neptunia girls and other stars from the Compile Heart young lady treadmill are at it again. It being minimal clothing and perky adventures in this free-to-play card battling game, coming to Japan soon. The game is known to feature new girl Yurina, plus Neptune, Tiara, Faust from Trillion, Otoha and Luanna from Moero Crystal, with many more to follow, probably.

Danganronpa V3 limited edition Japanese unboxing video

Oh, Japan, you lucky country. Check out one lucky buyer exploring the high quality limited edition version of Danganronpa V3. I haven't found a clip of someone with the new LE Vita hardware bundle, but will add one if I come across it. Want a new Vita western-type people - well tough! Only for Japan.

Guerrilla Cambridge is no more, Killzone killed off

The day after Microsoft cancel's Platinum's Scalebound game, Sony decides it can play too by axing the entire Guerrilla Cambridge Studio, the team behind the Vita's mighty Killzone Mercenary, which received plenty of post-launch love and attention from the team, which was around 80 strong.

Originally responsible for the great fun Medievil series, they also knitted up LittleBigPlanet for the PSP. More recently they launched the awesome-looking RIGS for PlayStation VR and seemed like a team with a future, especially with Sony raking in the cash from huge PS4 sales. They were hiring coders only a few short months ago, the Amsterdam Studio remains open and hiring, perhaps some folk will end up there.

Another developer knifed by Sony 
Still, corporate pencil-pushers lurk everywhere and the team has been cut and shut. About the only upside is some of that Vita dev experience might go indie or find its way into other teams who may have a plan or two. Also, we might find via the leavers what, if any, plans Sony or GC had for sequels or future titles that never made it out of the planning room.

Good luck finding new jobs everyone at GC, which is at least located in a fairly lively part of the country for game studios. A few questions do present themselves...

1. Is Sony ditching first party development for PlayStation VR already? Cause that really helped the Vita's cause?

2. Are the servers for Killzone Mercenary going to stay alive, were they at GC or buried in Sony's data centres?

3. While PlayStation 4 has helped Sony as a whole back into profit, are the years of heavy losses across the business still limiting its gaming side?

More Video fun with the Gun Gun Pixies

Presumanbly, a Pixies explain it all clip, check out out gun-toting mini-babes as they try to avoid the normal-sized girls in their apartments and try to sway them by shooting them with love bullets, collecting the coins around the house, and shooting down some ghostly negative vibes (I think). Gun Gun Pixies is out in March and seems a poor follow up to the Bullet Girls games from Shade and Compile Heart.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Game: The Challenge Stage gameplay clip

Boy, 5pb don't make things easy to categorise. Here's four minutes of girls hugging and talking in a new character trailer for Hifumi, which gives away very little idea about what we actually get to do in this game with an equally very unhelpful title. New Game: The Challenge Stage is out at the end of the month, so maybe things will become a little clearer then.

Raging Loop trailer brings out the wolf in you

Japan's answer to The Wolf Among Us from Kemco is getting some love from Sony with a release trailer. I think its the same one Kemco was waving around late last year, but hey, the news is quiet and visual novels are hot. The game is out today, so its not like it was heavily promoted, but as a budget title with an interesting looking cast, let's hope we get a sniff of its soggy mane.

Solid start for Vita in Media Create chart as Minecraft rocks on

Danganronpa V3 is out in Japan today, see previous post to help kick the Vita off with limited editions for 2017. But, for now, Minecraft continues to rock it for the Vita in the first week sales this year. It sold another 32,000 and sticks to the top 4 of the chart, as the only Vita representative in the Media Create top 20.

Over the six weeks of the seasonal sales period in Japan, the Vita sold over 195,000 units, which might be why it is so scarce around the rest of the world, if Sony was stockpiling for its home market. Hopefully some stock for the west will free up in coming weeks, otherwise I guess we're never getting any more.

Accord to the hardware data, the Vita shifted 34,000 units in the first week back from the holidays. Note I've fixed the chart from last week, so the red dot on the left is now Week 1. Hopefully Danganronpa V3 will provide some good early momentum, with Valkyria Azure Revolution following on next week.

Danganronpa V3 launch trailer hits Japan

Danganronpa V3 hits Japan today, with a shiny new launch trailer. The first big Vita game of 2017 is getting plenty of promotional activity in Japan, but will it help shift hardware thanks to the limited editions?
A few perhaps, but not huge numbers, especially as there's a PS4 version with Sony's bigger toy continuing to pick up steam, and gamers switch platform to the more vibrant version. I wonder what Remote Play take-up is like in Japan.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Meet Tamaki, the new feline heroine for Mosou Stars

Japan awakes from its seasonal slumber with some new videos for the characters taking part in Koei's slug-fest. Meet Dynasty Warriors' Zhao Yun and Yukimura Sanada, plus Tamaki - a new felinesque character armed with a laser mirror just for Mosou Stars, all doling out pointy justice to the cookie cutter hordes.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Starlight Tactics still cruising slowly to Vita

After half-a-year of silence, Escape Hatch has dropped some new pics of Starlight Tactics, its more cerebral cousin to space shooter Starlight Inception. They might still have that slightly muddy look to them, but hey - we need all the space games we can get, in any sub-genre. Looks like the game is nearing completion, with developers commenting that a release "depends on Sony ultimately. Integrating trophies and fixing bugs now."

Friday, January 6, 2017

American PSN top downloads for 2016

For some reason, the European PSN bods can't be bothered to list their Vita top sellers for 2016. However, the US team are more obliging, showing what sold most digitally in 2016.

Shock horror, Digimon Story is tops, which makes even more of a mockery of Namco's decision not to bring Next Order to the Vita. Also, well done on Severed for making the top 10 among this list of major names in gaming.

1 Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
2 Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition
3 God Eater: Resurrection
4 XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus
5 Borderlands 2
6 Persona 4 Golden
7 Jak and Daxter Collection
8 Sword Art Online -Hollow Fragment-
9 Ratchet & Clank Collection
10 Severed

All Europe will bother saying is that Persona 4 Golden was tops for December with Lara Croft Go the only new entry in these sale-heavy times. In the US, Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom was the best seller before Christmas.

DariusBurst DLC packs in the 8ing shooter joy

I have yet to experience the joys of DariusBurst, but might have to give it a shot given the awesome line up of related game DLC coming out for it. The latest bundle offers three packs (Miyamoto from Mahoudaisakusen, TO-RYU from Soukyuugurentai and Wild Snail from Battle Garegga) with a new ship, stages, and music from each. They cost $4.99 (£3.99) each or together in a bundle for $11.97.

Vita kicks off 2017 with 25,000 sales in Japan

That little lonely red dot on the left, that's Vita sales last week in Japan, which I know crosses last and this year, but to keep things neat represents the start of 2017 for this chart. Vita sold 25,487 according to Media Create chart data.

Overall, Sony's venerable gadget is now approaching 5.5 million units in Japan, but 2016's sales were 200K down on 2015, and will probably be maybe only 600K for 2017. Expect this year's black line (seems fitting for what should be the last year of decent Vita releases) to be flatter than a pancake, especially with the challenge of Nintendo Switch on the way. Will Sony really leave the handheld market entirely to Nintendo, which has sold over 20 million 3DS units in various forms?

In quiet software sales, Minecraft rolls on well past the million mark and SaGa Scarlet Grace sticks around approaching 90,000 sales. Out next week is Danganronpa V3 which should help sales along a little bit.

A fresh peek inside the world of Valkyria Azure Revolution

Confirmed for a western release in a few months, Valkyria hits Japan in a couple of weeks with Sega throwing more clips out there, showing off the luscious PS4 edition. Prince Maxim is the hero of this clip, stoically chewing his way through the scenery and cut-scenes.

Death or Kiss trailer out of Japan

Just when I thought the no-news week would let me get through plenty of reviews, up comes a new video from 5pb in Japan. Life in Another World: Death or Kiss, a fairly simple choice there I think, is a bubble-gum heroine focused anime-based game arriving in March. Is death an actual option, as it all looks pretty lovey-dovey!

Review: Titan Souls

In most of my RPG reviews I mention a dislike for crashing through waves of level 1 rats, goblins, sprites and other annoyances, no matter how powerful you've become. 2015's Titan Souls (currently a PS+ game, hence the late review) does away with all that nonsense, leaving you with nothing but fiendish boss baddies to fight, armed with just a single arrow for your bow.

That's a compelling idea, but also one that has to be handled carefully, Titan Souls needs plenty of atmosphere and a world of intrigue to make the bits between the 19 battles anything other than glorified trudging. Fortunately, this mostly two-man effort pulls that off with panache. That said, this is a game you'll probably only play through once, so for now, at least, the price is right.

Outside the caverns, you can explore. But there's nothing to find beyond the doors to the caverns. You can only enjoy the pixel-gorgeous scenes and landscapes, there's no signposts to read, no hidden health potions or coins to collect, such is the sparse nature of the game.

In a cavern you'll find the demons. Observe their movements or see what you can use in the room to help defeat them. Then start firing your arrow, running and rolling to avoid death, collect the arrow or pause to summon your bolt from across the room. Every battle can be over in a few seconds or take many minutes of replay as you figure out what to do, and then get that action exactly right.

Some beasts throw out gas, flames or other weaponry to complicate the scene, but delivering the killing blow is all you need to focus on. On the Vita, the shrinkage to a small screen does seem to increase the challenge, but otherwise its on a par with the big-screen versions.

Score: 7/10
More reviews
Price: £12.99 (PSN)
Developer: Acid Nerve
Progress: Boss

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review Demetrios

Adventures are having something of a renaissance thanks to Double Fine's remasters and a slew of new titles. Demetrios is a rude and crude effort - in terms of content - from the slightly warped mind of Fabrice Breton. So, while it may struggle to fit neatly in that renaissance, otherwise we have a fun and polished misadventure set in Paris and then around some less-than-savoury global locations.

Using the touchscreen or point-and-click controls, our unfortunate hero, Bjorn Thonen, starts off being biffed on the head by a burglar, leading to all sorts of low-rent jokes around his crummy, dirty, flat and his even crummier antiques store.

Most of the puzzles are of the find and use, or combine an item, as he meets the neighbours, and performs sub-quests for most of them. That's as he sets out on the quest to find out why a tablet was taken from his antique statue, and why another dealer was murdered just weeks ago for a similar item.

With the police not playing ball, the game soon provides plenty of opportunity for you to die, or end up in jail. However, a quick tap and you're back before you made that fatal move. This is a game that doesn't take the genre, or life, too seriously.

Along the way Bjorn will find a plentiful supply of cookies that he can nibble on to provide a neat clue system. And if you get stuck the game has a reminder of your current objective in the menu. There's also a string of mini-games from fishing to arcade and carnival games to divert your attention and to rake in some coins to buy the odd essential item.

A map screen shows available locations, which come and go as they are needed, you'll pay repeated visits to the police station, but one-off locations soon disappear to save your needlessly revisiting them, which is a good touch. However, you'll need to remember where items are as, you can't randomly pick up everything in the game, so a little memory space or note taking may be required.

With an interesting, and off the wall cast, and quirky solutions to many of the problems, Demetrios is a good laugh and may help attract younger players into the world of the traditional adventure.

Score: 7/10
More reviews
Price: £7.99 (PSN)
Developer: Fabrice Breton
Progress: Complete

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: Azkend 2 The World Beneath

Another one of this month's PS+ games, Azkend 2 is well worth a peek for the story that adds a little touch of style to a typical match 3 extravaganza. A trans-Atlantic sailing goes horribly wrong for one young lady, leaving her in a poor SyFy version of 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Fortunately, she's an expert raft builder, submariner, navigator and bug buster, so will have no trouble getting home.

Azkend 2's gameplay throws pretty much everything from the puzzle game design manual at the Vita's touchscreen. Get three, four, five or more tiles in a row for splashy effects, on some levels you need to turn the background tiles a certain colour, on others bugs are flitting up the screen, while on some the rewards need to be dragged down to the bottom.

There are also puzzle challenges where you have to eradicate all tiles, plus solo challenges outside the story mode, making this quite a fun package, with some image recognition games thrown in. While it will only take a few hours to whiz through the story mode, most trophies require you to develop a little skill, or get lucky, at the many game types, so you might come back for those and the individual challenges.

Otherwise this is another fair casual gaming effort to pad out your Vita's roster for those moments when you can't face another quest or MP session in one of the major games. It has some impressive hand-drawn artwork, jolly tunes from Jonathon Geer and all the trappings of a decent mobile effort.

Score: 6/10
More reviews
Price: £6.49 (PSN, currently free for PS+ in Jaunary)
Developer: 10 Tons
Progress: Finished story mode