Friday, June 30, 2017

The Long Reach gropes in the dark for the Vita

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

UPDATE: The Long Reach has a mid-March release date!

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

LTTP review - Steamworld Dig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Score: 8/10
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Price: £7.39 (PSN)
Size: 80MB
Dev: Image and Form
Progress: Assimilated

God Wars battles up the Media Create chart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

God Wars sells 100K around the world

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

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

Valkyria Revolution gets western launch trailer

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

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

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

Tier Blade - Fragments of Memory trailer

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

Accel World VS Sword Art Online DLC trailer

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

JumpJet Rex rockets on to the Vita

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

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Video Friday from Japan, teasers and trailers are ice cold

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

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Some fresh Hacker's Memory details - meet Nokia

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Minecraft is the only game selling on Vita in Japan

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

God Wars storms the UK retail chart

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

13 Sentinels gets an E3 trailer

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

Vita sales in Japan bouncing on the 4K line

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

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

Vita game trailers from E3

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Limited Run's E3 lineup rocks the Vita

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

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

Vita marches on at E3, who needs Sony?

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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Review Shu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

2018's Bloodstained gets an E3 trailer

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

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

Wayforward bringing Mummy Demastered to consoles

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

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

Ys VIII character art and bios

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Vita sales sneak up in Japan

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

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

FuturLab's Velocity 2X physical release nears

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

The LE contains:

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

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

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

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

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

Mystereet F: The Detectives’ Curtain Call trailer

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

Tokyo Clanpool sees the politicians wade into RPG battle

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

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

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

D3's Omega Labyrinth Z is a bust

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

Shakedown Hawaii shows off its true colours

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

This isn't the Vita successor you were looking for

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

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

Home goes physical on Limited Run

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

Yomawari Midnight Shadows gameplay trailer

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