Friday, March 31, 2017

Emerald Shores to shine this summer

Emerald Shores is the result of a one-man indie project, Fordesoft, and will sparkles on PSN this summer. A platformer RPG, it borrows from classics like Super Mario World but throws in character levels that add power and new skills.

The main storyline will have at least 20 main levels, 5 boss battles, really short cutscenes, a few secret unlockable levels (find those hidden exits), and then something for those who manage to complete all of the secret levels. There's a Remix Mode which plays just like the original story mode, but all levels are rearranged to be more difficult.

There are two world maps: the one you see in the trailer, and then a floating island called Emerald Shores. Levels have powerups hidden in them, which grant abilities like double-jumping and throwing fireballs. Not confirmed yet, but the plan is $9.99 and cross-buy between PS4 and Vita.

Is that a Gundemonium in your pocket?

The Vita has a Decent roster shooters, but I always room for a few more on my memory card, so its a pleasure to welcome Gundemoniums. Based on a rather old, but colourful, PC shooter, that was recently re-released on Steam, it is getting a fresh case of ammo and some new features thanks to developer Platine Dispositif and indie publisher Mediascape.

The Vita version gets widescreen support, and new characters to play as and even more bullet hell action. The original was seriously hard, so don't expect anything like the cute fluffy western shooters that are merely tough. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Danganronpa V3 characters line up for their class photos!

So begins the run up to the release of September release of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, just the six months to go. But that's not stopping NIS America getting in some early teasing with the character line up. Meet the first bunch of miscreants and super stars who'll be putting their lives in our hands in the autumn.

Kaede has been playing the piano ever since she was a child, earning her the not-so-flattering nickname, "Piano Freak." After winning numerous trophies at piano competitions, she soon received the far more prestigious title of Ultimate Pianist. Kaede has a positive personality and puts all her effort toward achieving her goals. She feels a deep resentment toward Monokuma for forcing everyone to participate in his absurd killing game.
Ultimate ???: Rantaro Amami
  • Though Rantaro can't remember what his Ultimate talent is, he doesn't let that get him down. In fact, he's quite excited at the prospect of learning what his Ultimate talent actually is. Though he comes across as glib and laidback, Rantaro is the only one to remain calm and press Monokuma for information while the others panic. At times, his attitude suggests that he knows more about what's happening than his classmates, which only heightens the air of mystery surrounding him.
Ultimate Inventor: Miu Iruma
  • An inventor who is responsible for creating a wide variety of commercial products, starting with her famous "Eyedrop Contact Lenses." However, Miu believes that coasting through life is the best way to live it. As such, she considers her eyedrop invention a failure because she actually had to work to create them. Her arrogance is matched only by her penchant of vulgarity. Every time she opens her mouth, a stream of dirty jokes and innuendo comes rushing out. Strangely enough, she becomes submissive and docile whenever anyone gives her any pushback.
Ultimate Supreme Leader: Kokichi Oma
  • A boy whose Ultimate talent is being the supreme leader of an evil secret organization that boasts a membership of over 10,000 people. However, there is no proof that such an organization actually exists. Even Shuichi, the Ultimate Detective, is unfamiliar with the identity of Kokichi's organization. As a self-professed liar, Kokichi revels in blurring the lines that separate fact from fiction. He has a tendency to say whatever pops into his head, and is prone to theatrical outburst of crocodile tears. But don't let this innocent smile fool you - as a supreme leader of evil, Kokichi feels no remorse over tormenting his classmates. 

Something God Eater comes this way

Two years ago, on the 5th anniversary of God Eater, we got a look at the revamped Resurrection. Now on the 7th birthday, after a painful nico nico show of flogging viewers the CD, the trainers, the concert, the toys and the watch, we finally got a glimpse of something new from Bandai Namco in the world of God Eater.

UPDATE: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment UK has put out a new teaser trailer for the new GOD EATER project. "The calamity that devoured Fenrir continues… And from the ashes, a new generation of Gods begins!"

Since that comes from western Bandai Namco, I guess a worldwide release is assured. Yet, as is annoyingly common, they don't mention formats. Let's just hope they stick with the Vita for one more round! Given the series' popularity in Japan, (500K physical sales for Rage Burst and Resurrection) it would have to release there, but will Bandai's foreign divisions bring it here?

The God Eater community and game site hasn't updated yet, so no sneaking in to find any hints.

All it shows is something very big, angry and capable of melting buildings! Nice!

Original: Sure its covered by niconico shit, but here's a tiny peek at the next God Eater, whatever it may be, and whatever formats it may land on.

Death or Kiss Limited Edition of super-cuteness

Oh Japan, you lucky people! Even a relatively noddy little game like Death or Kiss gets the Limited Edition treatment, with a CD and plastic figure that meet up to form a heart if you get the PS4 version too. The anime-based bundle of cuteness is out today in Japan if you fancy an import, the official site has lots of art and video.

UPDATE: With the game now on-sale in Japan, here's a new gameplay clip to tempt those who like their muscly merchants.

Five Minutes of Dungeon Travelers 2-2 info

Aquaplus has a new trailer out, showing a whole bunch of stills, screens and art from Dungeon Travelers 2-2. The update/expansion/new story/whatever has the same busty girls in peril scenarios, presumably with a few gameplay tweaks and new creatures to summon. The game is out on 20th April in Japan, the original got a western release, but it passed my by, so I guess there's hope for this one.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Akiba's Beat gets a May western release date

Wow, May may well be the Vita's last hurrah, with a slate of big games kicking in the doors. Akiba's Beat is the latest to arrive, joining The Caligula Effect, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds, Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and Summon Night 6 among others. Sure, there's plenty more to come, but May is rammed with hopefully great games. Akiba's Beat hits the EU on the 19th thanks to PQube.

Unlike the stripping vampires of Akiba's Trip, this episode sees mysterious events taking place in Akihabara, the world-famous district of Tokyo where technology and culture meet. Twisted by a sinister presence, the people’s memories, hopes and dreams manifest in reality and warp Akiba in strange ways, the town is now stuck in a time loop, causing dangerous distortions in the very fabric of space and time!

Vita sales continue to slide in Japan

The latest Media Create chart shows another 430 unit drop off in Vita sales over the week, as the Switch continues to sell strong. That down to around 7,500 for the week, still not bad for Sony's creaky old hardware.

On the software front, Accel World vs SAO creeps toward 50K as it drops down to No. 7 while Minecraft sneaks back into the top 20, still selling 4K a week and now up to 1.13 million physical copies. Perhaps that's why Sony Japan has some renewed focus on the Vita, if only for kids. No sign of Side Kicks in the MC chart, perhaps it'll appear in Famitsu's later.

UPDATE: Side Kicks sold a decent 3,200 (60-80% of its initial production run) for 25th place in Famitsu's chart. Digital could well double that, but a shame that it wasn't more aggressively promoted, as the game seemed to offer something pretty different to the usual VNs, but that could be part of its problem.

This week sees Musou Stars release, but can't see gamers rushing out to buy a Vita for that, even if the software sales are decent, although likely below PS4 sales.

Last week's chart

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ukon waves his sword in new Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception video

And this week's mystery guest is... Ukon, in the third character trailer for Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception. Not your stereotypical mercenary he's a smooth talker who cares about the common people and is well respected by those under his command.

Haku and Kuon encounter him fairly on early in the game, and Ukon convinces them to help on a simple escort job. Sounds simple, right? Well, it turns out this "simple escort" job is more of a "fend off dangerous bandits" sort of job. Regardless of this slight miscommunication, Ukon takes a liking to the strange duo and will act as a mentor figure to them. Of course, there's much more to Ukon that will be revealed as events unfold...

Kuon was the star of the previous character intro video.

Fairune hits PSN today

Fairune is a simple 8-bit-style RPG ported over to the Vita by Qubic. It hits the EU PSN today, coming to America in a few week's time. Playing as a young girl, chosen by the magic book, you embark on a mission full of mysteries and riddles.

Level up, exploring the map, and defeat hordes of monsters, recover Ghost Icons to banish evil for all eternity in a world full of surprises, which can grant you great power and reveal new paths.

New otome brand hits Japan, more school-based shenanigans

Karinto is a new brand focused on otome games from Karasuri. Its first release roughly translates as School Run X Japanese Sword "Otome Sword Musashi"and features Musou as a girl at a school loaded with handsome swordsmen, athletes and other charming creatures.

Dengeki has some character profiles, and the game is slated for a Vita release in 2017.

[Synopsis - auto translated]

I'm a high school student who lives in the country.

But one day, I picked up the key to a locked warehouse and picked up a stick from a wooden tree inside.
At that time,
I heard a voice saying "Second generation, my wood sword, treasure."
I did not care at that time, but from the next day it will be serious!
People who held the sword came and said "Musashi, a game!
Everyone says that I am the second generation of Musashi, and I will be in trouble even if I am killed, but the opponent does ... If
the defeat of the sword is overcome, it is true that my fate to follow the winner for the rest of my life.
Is not that strange in this era?
How in the world is it! Is it?

Romancing Saga 3 gets a Vita port in Japan

Following on from the success of SaGa Scarlet Grace last year, and the arrival of Romancing Saga 2 it seems fairly logical for Square to keep rolling these games in this classic series out. So, it is little surprise that Romancing Saga 3 will get a Vita, iOS and Android port in Japan.

Remastered for the modern age, the nineties RPG gets a low-key announce with a web posting, a spot of art and not much else. Keep an eye out for more.  As with Romancing Saga 2, its unlikely to head west, whatever Square says. Unless, by some miracle, they decide to release a digital bundle in the west?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Valkyria Revolution confirmed for western summer release

We knew the latest Valkyria effort was coming west, but it looks like Sega - remember them - is picking up the release rather than leaving it to partner label Atlus. After Hatsune Miku's last outing, I thought they'd given up on the Vita. But no, the off-shoot Valkyria Revolution will get a western release at the end of June in digital-only form for Sony's portable along with deluxe PS4 and X1 releases.

The JRPG starts with a revolution, Jutland's elite soldiers, the Vanargand, must band together to defeat the Ruzi Empire and stop death itself in the form of Valkyria. This grizzled anti-Valkyria squad is equipped with advanced mana weaponry and has the powerful ability to wield ragnite spells to combat this terrifying threat.

The unit is comprised of soldiers who have a high affinity for ragnite, and even Jutland's own Princess Ophelia has joined the ranks. The princess carries the utmost love for her country and has answered the call of duty to liberate those who are suffering from the Ruzi's tyranny. However, Amleth Grønkjær, the commanding officer of Vanargand hides a terrible secret. Is he friend or foe to the country he has sworn to protect?

A tale of two Toukiden 2 games

The UK charts are out and Toukiden 2 is No.1 on the Vita retail list. On the PS4 chart, it only managed to creep in to No. 28, presumably because everyone was buying the freak-fest that is Mass Effect Andromeda.

Realistically, the PS4 version could have sold a few more copies than the Vita edition, but since neither made the individual formats (value or units) charts, only Koei Tecmo's accountants will ever know.

Still congrats to the company on another Vita UK No. 1 and well done to everyone who went with the physical edition. However, based on this news and last year's Japanese sales, I'm not too sure there will be a Toukiden 3, although a T2.5 may be on the cards.

The retail chart rundown by GameTrack is:

1. Toukiden 2 (new entry)
2. Steins Gate 0 (no change, 18 weeks on chart)
3. Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified (up from 7)
4. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (down from 3)
5. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (up from 9)
6. Root Letter (down from 1, 20 weeks on chart)

Will update with PSN digital Top Sellers list if Sony can be bothered to, seems to have been very static for a long time. Toukiden 2 is at No. 4 on the Amazon Best Sellers list while Ys VIII tops the pre-order list. Drive Girls is also there, although still unconfirmed, so we'll likely here about that this week.

Salt and Sanctuary Vita screens

A couple of these grabs, sent over by Ska, appeared on the PSN blog posts, but the rest seem new, and uncropped. Take a peek at Salt and Sanctuary in action on the Vita. The game has generated plenty of coverage on Reddit, NeoGAF and other places, as interest in the Vita port seems pretty high. Always good when a game reminds people that the Vita exists.

The Ska Studios title is out this week. As it is Cross Buy with the PS4 version, it'll be £14.99 ($17.99), which seems a worthy investment in one of the more celebrated indies. Hopefully some Vita video will pop up soon, so we can see how smooth it is, and to see if Sickhead Games' port is up to the mark. Hopefully the UI, missing in these pics, has been refined for the Vita's screen.

UPDATE: Now live on EU PSN.

While the Switch might be scooping up more indie love in future, with S&S, Risk of Rain, Neon Chrome, Axiom Verge and many more, the Vita has more than proved that a good team can still see it compete with modern hardware. We also have The Deer God, Oceanhorn and plenty more on the release list.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Salt and Sanctuary arrives on Vita next week

One of the most-pestered after games hits the Vita a year after the PS4 release next week. Salt and Sanctuary comes to us via Sickhead Games, handling the port of Ska Studios game with aplomb. The Souls-like RPG packs in action.

The game is Cross Buy if you own the PS4 version, some detail on the PSN blog, chasing for some pics or video of it in action on the Vita.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Exile Election trailer weaves a story

Not the best way to start the day, what the hell? I guess as Exile Election is set in a theme park this kind of makes sense, but make what you will of the artistic trappings and the bizarre semantics. Apples are life, poison, health? Butterflies represent freedom, transformation? Whatever.

The game is out in April on Vita and PS4 and should provide those who are all Danganronpa'd out with some fresh judging to do.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kuon is this week's Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception star

Following on from last week's Haku trailer, this week Atlus is celebrating Kuon, a doe-eyed pal and faithful follower for the battles to come. She's a mysterious traveler who rescues Haku in the beginning of the game and eventually becomes his "guardian."

While not much is known about her past, she's an intelligent and free-spirited woman who's an apothecary by trade. The polar opposite of Haku, Kuon is a responsible person who always gets the job done. Oh, and she's quite useful during battles too. She a scrappy fighter who prefers the intimacy of hand-to-hand combat, and her knowledge of herbology and medicines lets her act as an effective healer.

Accel World vs SAO causes ruckus in Japanese chart

Accel World vs. Sword Art Online managed to shift 38,653 for third spot in the new Media Create chart, beating the PS4 version by 5,500 units. Even combined at 70K, that's just a bit teeny down on the 850K that Monster Hunter XX sold at no. 1. Remember when Monster Hunter used to sell millions on launch?.

Bringing up the rear, visual novel Yu No managed to shift 8,800 copies to land at 15. But that was outsold by the PS4 version.

On the hardware front, Vita sold 8,004 dragging along at seasonal lows, but still impressive for a 5.5 year old system in tech-obsessed Japan. Not much hope of an immediate boost, Side Kicks is out this week, but marketing has been light to say the least, Musou Stars arrives at the end of the month but should favour PS4 sales.

Last week's chart

Kemco brings Revenant Saga to PlayStation

Kemco continues its mini-revival as a gaming brand with a host of mobile RPG titles stretching back into history. Revenant Saga is next up mixing pixel exploring with 3D battles, following on from Asdevine Hearts. Actually looks pretty decent, if there's enough story and characters worth caring about. The game is out this spring.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: Toukiden 2

In an effort to fill the gap left by Monster Hunter on the Vita, we've had Freedom Wars, Soul Sacrifice (and Delta), many God Eaters, and the Toukiden series to keep us blatting away at increasingly chunky demons with an ever-widening range of weapons.

Given we're approaching the end of the Vita's life as a mainstream device, perhaps Toukiden 2 will be the final hurrah for those who love partying hard and slaying into the night. The game sold around physical copies 125,000 in Japan and comes west this week.
You only real notice the neat effects in still screenshots, rarely when in the thick of the action
You play another hapless mortal plucked from fighting demons in olde Yokohama and sent through a portal some new mountain/woodland/otherworldly patch of turf spreading around Mahoroba Village, on which to fight the pesky Oni and their demonic overlords.

As with any other hunting game, you are soon assigned missions to prove your worth and to sort out some of the town's dire needs. Outside, the world quick-loads between areas, creating that almost open world feel, and there is a lot more to see and do in the countryside, with ad hoc missions, plenty of hidden goodies and a biblical number of trophies to earn.

Gladiators, Ready

As a warrior, you can specialise in traditional weapons like double blades, swords and poles, or go modern with ranged muskets. Stick with one and become a master or pick and choose depending on what type of beast you end up fighting. New entrants the sword and shield will tempt those who give a damn about defensive skills, while the chain whip is a good mid-range attack platform.

Another new feature is the Demon Hand that allows for big jumps over some terrain (Bionic Commando-style) and for grabbing Oni and dealing more damage, or allowing your Matami spirits to perform even more effects. Fully charged, it can even help rip the bigger monsters to pieces!
Claptrap? Never heard of him!
Character customisation allows you to have fun with your hero, while most of the natives are so desperately earnest or hard-bitten you just want to end their suffering! One sparkling piece of light in this dross is Tokitsugu (who starred in the Studio 4C anime), while he's not a patch on Claptrap from Borderlands 2, he does at least add some edge.

As the out-of-towner, suspicion is poured upon you, but you soon start to earn people's trust, although a power struggle between the town's samurai and local guards, which adds a little spice, but basically your life's work is to run around, kill things and find the clues as to your mysterious predicament.

For Battles Ahead

Whenever you head back to town, the new portals speed this up immensely, you can use the spoils of war and loot from the land to increase your armour and weaponry. You can fortify your gear, reforge it or create new items. Boost defence, elemental defence or increase Aegis.

When not battling Oni, you can also learn new skills, splash about in the pool, or explore the town. Conversations have no impact on the direction of the story, but help to nudge the plot along - nice character art by the way. Whatever you're doing, there is usually a pointer on the mini-map or a "!" to indicate where to go.
Decent draw distance, but the usual drab textures
Whatever you do, the early battles are generally weak, in that you can sit back and watch your allies take down the monsters. Things get more challenging later on, but the story and characters that appear deeper into the game are interesting enough to make progress worth while. If you're new to Toukiden 2's world, then taking on a few solo battles helps you learn the many skills faster.

Yes, this is a little less shiny and fluid than the PS4 version, but plays perfectly well on the Vita and has just enough plot depth and challenge to keep playing. What is annoying, is that most of the games neat effects are missed in the heat of battle. Also, lot of features like bonds are just fluff, but playing with and mastering the Demon Hand is worth the price of admission.

Score: 8/10
More reviews
Price: £29.99 (Amazon)
Size: 2.7GB
Dev: Tecmo Koei
Progress: Out there, somewhere

Slay the Toukiden 2 launch trailer

Toukiden 2 hits the west this week, but hopefully you've been playing the demo (which allows you to carry content over to the full game). I'm reviewing it right now, and have to say its a lot of fun, if barely breaking from the straits of its predecessor. Sure, its a bit open world, with a few more monsters, heroes and weapons, but be under no delusions about what you're getting into.

The new trailer shows what's on offer...

Art, screens and info for Digimon Hacker's Memory

Bandai Europe is dropping all the details on the new Vita Digimon Cyber Sleuth game. After being accused of a crime he didn't commit, goggle-eyed Keisuke Amazawa has no choice but to dive into the digital world and investigate to prove his innocence.

Hacker's Memory is an all-new game, that promises to be deeper and darker, but since the original Cyber Story was pretty much perfect portable gaming fodder, other than adding more Digimon (with 320 now in the roster) and a new story, it doesn't look like too much tweakage has been done.

Trailer up for Bandai's Digimon Hacker's Memory

Since the original piece was getting overfull of updates, here's a fresh page for the Japanese trailer of Bandai's update on Digimon Cyber Story. Hacker's Memory promises to change what we know about the original. It releases in Japan in 2017 and in the west, early 2018 - in time for the Vita's sixth birthday most likely.

Guess its time to reinstall and replay the original, in case there's any goodies to be grabbed for the semi-sequel. All of the original production leads are back with Kazumasa Habu producing, Suzuhito Yasuda the character designer and Masafumi Takada as composer! The western release will offer up Japanese voices, English and German subtitles.

It is digital only on Vita and physical for PS4.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Pixel Noir gets a new, darker, trailer

Dated as first quarter 2018, there's still a long way to go for this pixel RPG adventure that's been through its own on-going development saga for at least three years, probably a lot longer. The new trailer shows off some teamwork, a baddie or two and plenty of moody atmosphere for those who live in the shadow of Blade Runner, Syndicate Wars and other dark delights.

Iconoclasts nearing completion, new sneak peek

Definitely the most colourful game heading to the Vita, Iconclasts continues to impress (previous sneak peeks) and is fast approaching completion with sole developer Joakim Sandberg fine-tuning the game in-between bouts of Zelda. Hopefully not too long now for another excellent dose of Vita platforming!

A little more Digimon Cyber Sleuth action?

After Bandai's Digmon World farce, the Japanese company has clearly been rooting around last year's assets and realised that Cyber Sleuth was actually pretty good, and dusted down the engine for a pseudo-sequel update, currently being splashed across Japanese magazines.

Listed for Vita and PS4 in Japan, "Hacker's Memory" is likely just a glorified expansion pack, with another hapless victim sucked into cyber space, with a host of new Digimon to play with. Given Cyber Sleuth (review), was very popular in the west by Vita standards, hopefully we'll get a digital release, unless Bandai are still being complete dicks.

UPDATE: Apparently, there's an EU trademark kicking around, so the game is likely coming, but I'm sure Bandai will manage to annoy Vita owners somehow.

UPDATE: The JP Site update is now live with our scary-eyed hero on the front page and a 2017 release time frame.

UPDATE: Western release confirmed for early 2018, there you go, a big name game for the Vita's sixth anniversary(ish).

In Japan, they are shipping the original game with this update, making a neat high-profit bundle.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Japanese Video Fest

Yet another Blue Reflection character clip from Gust to start us off today. Welcome Kaori, a blonde with brains. Of more interest, a peek at Idea Factory's latest VN Alice: Black and White, based on Alice through the Looking Glass, which is out in June.

Likely some more clips out later on, so will update...

Let's sing and dance like we're in Marginal 4... (several new clips on the Idea Factory channel).

And another one Damascus Gear, Operation Tokyo...

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pre-order Akiba's Beat for a free plushie

When you can't take out your pent up rage on random strangers in Akiba, how about the Pinkun Plushie that comes with physical pre-orders (Game and Amazon in the UK) for Akiba's Beat.

PQube is bringing that increasingly rare beast, a physical release of Acquire's cult title west on Vita and PS4, with this adventure based on fan boy, idol and cosplay delusions, rather than the first game's stripping vampire motif

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Deer God arrives in April

The great indies keep on coming to the Vita, with The Deer God now lined up for an April 25 release date. The perilous bambino adventures from Crescent Moon stretch over forests, deserts and other gorgeously designed realms, and since deer don't shoot, it should provide a more passive challenge for gamers.

Media Create chart and Japanese releases, reviews

Its a western game on top in Japan, thanks to Tom Clancy on the PS4. No Vita action in the Media Create chart, other than Super Robot Wars crossing the 100K mark as it slowly drifts down. No sign of otome title Wand of Fortune II making a fun splash, as hardware sales continue that likely flat line, down to 8,398 this week, resting until the spring holidays.

16. Super Robot Wars V (Bandai) - 4.790 / 101.336 (-63%)

Out today in Japan, to hopefully stir up next's week chart, are Accel World vs. SAO, Yu No and Fate Morgana Collection. At the end of the month, Blue Reflection is out, which given the amount of marketing and coverage that game has got, had better sell at least 100K across PS4 and Vita, otherwise some poor marketing/design genius is going in the naughty cupboard.

Meanwhile over in Famitsu land, the latest reviews show Japan's critics falling slowly out of love with Monster Hunter on 3DS, guess players will still lap it up though. Meanwhile Californian-set visual novel Side Kicks, out next week, gets a very positive response as more traditional adult VN Hatsuyuki Sakura, an update to an old Windows game, is less likely to dent the chart.

Monster Hunter XX (3DS) – 9/9/9/8
Side Kicks! (PSV) – 8/8/8/7
Hatsuyuki Sakura (PSV) – 7/8/8/7

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meet Haku, our hero in Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception

He's an amnesiac (ah, that old gaming chestnut) and described by Atlus as an unlikely hero, but he's the one who gets to do the leg work in Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception, a visual novel come strategy RPG.

Dragged into a war between Uzurusha and the mighty Empire of Yamato, Haku must fight to defend the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire using strategy against his enemies' brawn.

Forma.8 hints and tips

What a lovely little robotic, exploring adventure. After much rooting around in the darker corners of the game, I just grabbed the Platinum trophy for Forma.8 (review). If you haven't tried it yet, the game is highly recommended as a perfect portable title. If you have it, and are missing an artefact, energy flower or are just confused by this rather cryptic game, then here's how to get find everything and get through the tougher challenges.

Basic Adventuring

Even from the early going, you will find out how the secrets in Forma.8 work, and can often see something you can't reach. Don't stress about getting these straight away. But do note down, or hold the left trigger and take a screenshot, where you saw them, to make it easier to pick them up later on.

As you go, nudge past any obvious secret entrances (see below), quite often you'll find either a flower or artefact. Some artefacts are hiding behind timed race events or the game's few real threats. For the races, you'll see a glowing orb, and a path or maze to navigate, sometimes with a few creatures to battle too. Learn the fastest route and each race should only take a few goes.

To collect this artefact, nudge the little lifeforms with your shield into the black hole to feed it! 
For the larger monsters, anything with a red eye, keep hitting it with your mines. For the venus fly trap, just keep it well fed. The big glowing orb can't be killed, so you need to run away in one of the longer races, keep going until it is trapped, don't think you've escaped as the map changes.
Explosions that track you can be useful to open up some areas
Energy flowers and keys give off a tone when you get close enough to them, keep poking around until you uncover where it is hidden.

Finding All 50 Artefacts

You will need all 50 to get the Platinum and the good ending. Most of the them are well hidden in the 
fiddly passages or dark corners of a level. The basics for finding the artefacts is to look for flat spots among the dark edges, shards of light, or other indicators. Also, look for glimpses of a room with no obvious entrance, while large dark areas can be obvious candidates for a hidden room. 

I'm trying to put a map together of the location of all 50 artefacts, will update when done! 
This flat spot soon gives well to a well-defended artefact
When you've gathered up plenty of artefacts, take them to this room and trigger the glowing totem. For every 10 you possess, you can open up one of the hidden hatches to grab useful extras to augment your probe.  

When you find 45 aretefacts, you will pick up a scanner that lights up any rooms on the map with a remaining artefact as blue. This makes it easier to know where to look, even if you can bet those last few will be pretty well hidden. 

The Tetris Shapes

The secret objects you find will actually trigger secret doors. Find the totems and trigger the object. Inside the unlocked room will be another object, find all of these and you gain access to the The Lost Temple.  Note down where the totems are, in case you don't have a secret object to open it with.

The Lost Temple

The Lost Temple is a series of endless similar rooms, with three different routes that end up with your finding artefacts, The first route is found when you enter the maze, printed as icons above an altar like strucure, the second is found by collecting Tetris shapes. Their meaning of the icons is found on a star in one of the outdoor areas.
The clue to navigating the Lost Temple is in the stars

The Dystopian Fortress

Near the end of the game, Forma.8 does its best to throw some 3D puzzling at you, as the mazes tower out of the screen, find the gaps that your ship will fit in and follow the path to the remaining pulse emitters, left or right of the main path.

Futuridium Ship

That familiar vessel is easy to find once you have the teleport skill. Head to the level with the pneumatic tubes, jump outside the normal route and you will find it at the bottom right of the large open area. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

New Vita games splurge from Japan

Is two a splurge? While not exactly a torrent, a couple of news pieces from Japan from this morning and over the weekend signal more Vita gaming goodness on the way.

First up Sega is dragging the Virtual On name back to life, with a bizarre sounding cross over with the Certain Magical Index... visual novels. Quite how this will play out, the trailer showing characters and robots from both series doesn't really help, but I guess supernatural powers from the VNs will leak into a robot-summoning ability? Who knows! Anyway, A Certain Magical Virtual On is due in 2018 on Vita and PS4!

The Certain Magical Index crew were last seen in Dengeki's Fighting Climax compendium brawler.

And, just when you think there will never be any all-new, all-Vita games, Compile Heart reaffirms its love for the handheld with a tweet. Hopefully leaving the endless string of Neptunia titles behind, a new RPG will be revealed soon,

Having focused, naturally enough, on the PS4 in recent months, good to see Compile Heart still loves its Vita audience.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, Warriors of the Sky free DLC next week

Missed this, and never really got into the series, but if you're hooked on the latest dose of virtual team battling and exploring, Bandai has a new free DLC pack coming next week to expand the game. It features the Salvatos Ruins, a new stage including many additional new areas, and a brand-new adventure with two new characters, both from Sword Art Online Lost Song, Seven and Rain!

It also offers wasys test your abilities in duels with the Duel System. Rules are simple: one-on-one matches of 8 minutes against other players but also against monsters thanks to the newly added PvE Mode! Ranks, buffs, treasure chests and many other rewards are at stake.

Two additional free DLCs will also be added with Warriors of the Sky: Lord of Inferno and Missing Chest. In the first one, you will be able to challenge a strong raid boss in Salvatos Ruins, after completing Warriors of the Sky. In the second one, the Missing Treasure Chest will appear in Teleport Plaza and you will be able to exchange Gold Pieces for items. In addition, this new update will also include the Sacrament Dungeon 3, containing 8 brand-new high-level dungeons.

Friday is Japanese PS Vita video frenzy day

Another clutch of videos out of Japan, making up for a slow week of Vita news. Apart from a bunch of release date announcements, that make the month of May a great time to win the lottery, or sell a spleen or something. So, check out some more Gun Gun Pixies action, a clip of Yu No and Marginal#4 (seems new to me) which is all about the clashes between different idol groups - the anime is up on Crunchroll if you're interested.

Idea Factory - Marginal#4

Compile Heart - Gun Gun Pixies

5pb - Yu No

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Caligula Effect coming 2nd May

With a bit of a name change, presumably to get away from the 70s arty porn flick, Atlus brings The Caligula Effect to western shores in May. Getting a digital release, the game was written by Tadashi Satomi from the Persona team, and puts people in a VR sim of perfection, a bit like the Matrix but without the cool sunglasses.

Looks like you can't escape perfection that easily! The game saw modest success in Japan, but at least came with a smart looking limited edition.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Atlus bringing war for May with Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception

Atlus drops Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception in mid May, as the release list continues to get shaken up like a frog in a blender. A collectors edition comes with an art book and slip case, plus a 50-hour story mixing visual novel and strategy game.

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.

Vita survives Switch onslaught in Japanese charts

It comes as no surprise that the launch of the Nintendo Switch dominates the Japanese Media Create chart this week, shifting 330K units. Even so, the Vita managed to soldier on selling just below 9,900 units on the week.

Be interesting to see just how quick the Switch die off is, compared to other launches, and if it will slowly take over from Vita sales as the games start to roll out for Nintendo's new pup.

On the software front, Super Robot Wars V sold another 12,000 units, to stick in the chart at No. 11 and should pass 100K next week. In shock news there's no Minecraft on the Vita to be seen, shunted out by several Switch arrivals after many years of continued strong service.

Otome title Wand of Fortune II is out this week for the Vita in Japan.

Meet the girls of Blue Reflection

Take a couple of minutes out of your day to admire the perky heroines of Blue Reflection in what I guess is a compilation of all the previous mini-clips from the past few weeks. There's some Vita gameplay you can check out for comparison to all these shiny particle-laden PS4 shots!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds blows in May

There I am moaning about the lack of news and all of a sudden the release schedule gets torn to pieces. God Wars is delayed to June, while visual romance novel Hakuoki: Kyoto Wind from Idea Factory has May pretty much all to itself. 

Given the success of Root Letter, there's a fair chance this will do pretty well and inspire more Vita VN goodness!

In the story, a young Chizuru is determined to find her father, and will have to romance a roster of famous samurai (latest bunch of suitors below) of Shinsengumi through a series of engaging stories and dramatic events. 

Hajime Saito

Heisuke Toudou

Sanosuke Harada

Chikage Kazama