Friday, September 29, 2017

Son of Scoregasm finally arrives in October

Charlie Knight's Son of Scoregasm has been on the cards since early 2014, but as with most one-man developers, real life tends to get in the way. However, the wait is finally over and we can all enjoy a dose of frenetic twin-stick shooting fun in the vein of Tempest meets Geometry Wars in a couple of weeks.

Check out the PSN blog post for a few more details, but mostly thanks to Charlie for sticking with the project and seeing it through!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Steamworld Dig 2 hints and tips

Steamworld Dig 2 is another perfect slice of portable gaming. As you move through the terrific robotic adventure (review), you're more than likely to miss a few of the fascinating artefacts that are well hidden in each puzzle room, down among the lava beds and other locations across the game.

While not exhaustive, here are the ones that caused me a fair bit of grief, along with some of the solutions to tougher puzzles and the location-based trophies. To speed up your artefact finding, focus on upgrading your lamp as the Eye for Weakness mod will light up secret entrances.

Will add more if there's interest.

Demon's Crib: Make your way to the top of the level, don't bother worrying about the acolytes or barrels, just get there. Use the Hook Shot to hang above the exit door, making sure you don't accidentally leave. The lava will come up, but not to the top, then flow back down. Carefully drop to the bottom of the level and at the lower right is the entrance to the secret area.

Lava Shooters: The fossil artefact can be found on the last leg of this long run through fireballs. When you've done the long runs left, up, right and down, head inside the structure, look for the pair of jets shooting down and follow the rightmost up to a ledge where you can break through into the secret area.

Leaky Lodge: If you enter from the higher of the two doors, you will see a big 2X2 rock just waiting to fall down. However, dig an extra level under it and to the left of the rock is the entrance to this secret. The other hidden area is on a long left-to-right run at the top of the maze.

Mine Cart Madness: This is one of my favourite set puzzles in the game. The first is just a warmup really, move the higher minecart to the right and watch it fall, then move the lower cart into that. It will fall through the quicksand and into place, allowing you to advance.

For the second one, move the lower cart left, jump up and move the higher one to the right. Follow that down and move it left into the first cart. Hop over and hammer the first cart until it is destroyed and move the new replacement cart to the right. Now move the old cart right into new one, and it will fall down.

Finally, and here's where I had so much fun, there are three carts to move. Never mind me trying to explain it, this guy has a YouTube video you can watch!

Mushi Mushi Snuggery: The artifact is tucked in the lower left corner of the map, stand to the right and shoot over the bouncers to open it.

Hodge Podge Hang: To the right of the start is a treasure, you have to hook and thrust jump around the ceiling that's below you to access it. At the very top left of the map is some ore and you can get an upgrade cog by going all the way around the tricky map to the final narrow drop back to the start.

Swim Swam Sway: Two secrets are to be found in the depths here, which is why you might be confused about not getting the green tick. The first secret here is on the left near the bottom of the first descent among the spiky blocks. Then do the loop around to the section that heads up with more spikes and a few spitting purple beasts. On the left just above the first purple creature is a secret bit of wall, lurk next to it and the shots from the purple creature to your right should knock it out, revealing the way.

Yonker Brothers: There are three of these fellows, scattered across the map. The first is right above you at very start of the game, so when you have the power to jump or rope high enough, head back and meet Zebulon.

The second chap can be found by traveling to Below the Wall tube, there's a door just to the lower right of that tube, head there and further right of that behind a secret wall is Josh.

Finally, go via the tube to Lower Temple Shaft or Temple Cistern, head to the door on the right to enter Yarrow. A few steps ahead of you is a drop down, hammer there and enter the secret to find Luke, get his blueprint and claim the trophy.

When you collect all 42 aftefacts, you can head to the windy desert and find the secret area using a max-upgraded jet pack to explore the clouds for some more puzzles.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Vita tick down to sales extinction continues in Japan

With Andrew House spouting his usual "smartphone rules" crap (the only time Vita ever gets mentioned in the mainstream press) as rabid Switch buying continues, the Vita stands no chance out on the streets.

That rhetoric comes with another 150 sales drop off in the latest Media Create chart data. The countdown to hardware production extinction is definitely ticking (more on that last week). Whatever magic number Sony needs to keep producing Vita hardware can only be around the corner, or perhaps it will just give up after a final push for seasonal sales.

Since the original chart (still updated at the bottom for history's sake) is pretty meaningless now, here's the post seasonal Vita sales for 2017. Tick, tick, tick!

As an aside, The sales issue is not all Sony's fault, it looks like Japanese stores are loaded with second-hand units that make selling new models a tougher task, especially with no new colours or Limited Editions this year.

On the software front, another Otome title shifts 5,450 units to scratch the lower reaches of the chart but will vanish next week. Increasingly, even decent upcoming fodder Occultic;9 from Mages, out tomorrow, and the next major(ish) release Tokyo Clanpool from Compile Heart next week will do little better.

From a visibility perspective, the Vita is fading fast in Japan, and with a dwindling release list, even local publishers are turning to indies like Va11-Ha11-A. Enjoy these last months folks, and the extended gasp of brave developer support, it has been a fun ride!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review Steamworld Dig 2

With the belated review of No. 1 still in my mind, it was with great excitement that I started shoveling my way into Steamworld Dig 2. Many improvements are immediately obvious, the game has a lot more visual pop to it, blazing away on the Vita's OLED compared to the original's more muted tones. There's also a bit more lateral movement and a sense of the wider surface world to explore, with its own weather, providing the odd break from the usual digging down.

Our avatar has also changed, with heroine Dorothy (or Dot) taking on the role of the prospector in the quest for missing Rusty from the original. She soon finds a town of beaten-up droids and their optimistic mayor. He's sure the one-ratchet town will survive the growing trend of earthquakes, even as one local builds a rocket ship to get everyone out of there.

We are digging in a material world

Soon we're heading down into the mines, that are loaded with ores, secrets, treasure and portals to other parts of the world. Doors lead to puzzle areas where you can find a cog to improve your powers and a secret artefact that will encourage one of the townsfolk to give you blueprints to build more useful tools.

Exploring, mining or questing can be done together, or you can meticulously scour the mines of gems and secrets before moving to the next area. There are secrets everywhere, and a fair bit of back and forth is needed to track them down, so taking notes is recommended. Later blueprints in the game will give you tools to make finding things easier, but doing it yourself is far more rewarding.

Secret areas start out as just a hidden tunnel, cleverly located here or there, but soon you'll need to use tools or your enemies carefully, or pull off multi-step, multi-function leaps and swings with aplomb to find the buried loot. Getting a green "completed area" tick on the map when you finish off some of the tougher areas gives quite a sense of achievement.

Heading deeper, each section of map reveals some gorgeous detail and lighting to them, with a range of bizarre characters to meet along the way. One minor improvement is less reliance on water and light to power your journey, so there's a little less slogging back and forth for resources. But Steamworld Dig 2 generally remains faithful to all the fun bits of the original.

The game has a lot more trophies, making the journey feel more rewarding, while the higher value ones are still for various types of completion to appeal to the speed runner or collectors out there. Some games make it a drag when you have to revisit earlier levels, but SD2 is a delight, with new skills helping you solve previously impassable puzzles and finding all the cunningly hidden secrets!

Once you get to the lower levels, the bosses do toughen up a little, and there can be more a few more random deaths than some gamers would like, but stick with it. Hugely charming, with joyous music and suitably clanging sound effects, everything in SD2 is a delight, I'd save the last comment for the enemies, mostly cute and hapless but who through your blueprints can be made to explode causing cascades of damage and destruction that could be a fun mini-game in its own right.

May the Cult of the Destroyer bless Image and Form, and whatever they do next! I'd love it if they could update Steamworld Tower Defence to the Vita.

Score: 9/10
More reviews
Price: £15.99 (PSN)
Size: 160MB
Dev: Image and Form
Progress: Completed the story, all artefacts

Monday, September 25, 2017

TGS Zanki Zero trailer

Spike Chunsoft must be looking for new projects as Danganronpa V3 winds down after release. With aquatic-themed RPG Zanki Zero (announced back in April) coming along well, I wonder what surprises the company has down the line.

For now though, enjoy this new trailer from Tokyo Game Show, I had hoped this would be rather special and original, after seeing the scale and beauty of the first artwork. But it now looks like a pretty stock DRPG with a soggy theme, although the story could elevate it about the many contemporaries. Still no news on a release date beyond 2018.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Catch up on the TGS live streams from Sega/Atlus and D3

Overnight these guys had a lot to show from new Phantasy Star Online 2 content to Bullet Girls Phantasia, plus the usual bedlam of cosplay, shouty hosts and other goings on. Catch up on Sony's main press event (with English) if you missed it from earlier in the week.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Demon Gaze II character trailer

Stella's Place sounds like a bar I'd like my own stool at. But in Demon Gaze II it plays host to this line up of characters, most of which you'd probably want to avoid like the plague. For example, I'm sure everyone gets a bit nervous when their local version of Lezerem, a black-market radio dealer who supports the Revolutionists turns up with some dodgy goods on offer!

Steins Gate Elite first look

Are we ready for more drama and heartbreak in the world of Steins Gate? Well, there's Chaos Child on the way soon, to tide us over. But this new story from 5pb, based on the latest anime and more in tune with its visual style with full animation will be hitting Japan next year. Will the running ever end? And will the story lend itself to this more fluid style?

D3 shows off Bullet Girls Phantasia

Yep, the Bullet Girls are back for another triggy happy outing in Japan, with word of an English language Asian version if you're keen, and with D3 reluctant to bring the series west. This time they are fighting dragons and demons, while offering the usual fan service fun.

A Certain Magical Virtual-On first look

Shown off at TGS, we finally get a look at some gameplay of the worst-named cross-over title ever. A Certain Magical Virtual-On provides plenty of bot-on-bot action, which looks pretty basic on the PS4, but I suspect the Vita version will lose most of the little detail there is.

The bland looks will probably annoy PS4 owners more, and unless you're deeply into your mechs, I can't see this being worth an import, even with all the English language text floating around.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Battle Princess Madelyn first trailer

After its Kickstarter success, Casual Bit has a classy first trailer for Battle Princess Madelyn. And, while some developers leave the Vita version off the list of platforms as a to-do-list afterthought, they've had the decency to put it in there with all the others.

Hopefully, we'll be seeing the Ghosts n Goblins homage sometime next year, can't wait!

The slide continues for Vita sales in Japan

Japanese gamers bow before an influx of Winning 11 and F1 games this week, leaving no room for a new Vita title. Only Minecraft is left to represent the handheld, selling another 3,160 copies to pull it clear of 1.2 million boxed sales.

The Vita itself sees another tick down to 3,847 units according to Media Create sales data. That trend of losing 50-80 sales a week (excluding a Christmas spike) would see the Vita hit zero in around another year, approaching its seventh birthday. And, since Sony has shown no sign of a successor device, I guess production would end next summer. Snap them up while you can folks!

Vita cracks heads with Super Skull Smash GO! 2 Turbo

Super Skull Smash GO! 2 Turbo from Thomas Hopper and TACS Games is an action puzzle platformer about smashing skulls, designed from the ground up for the PS Vita. If it looks a little familiar, It is the sequel to PS Mobile game "Super Skull Smash GO!" Thomas' previous work includes "Out of Mind" and PSM game of the year "Console Saga".

The game features hardcore platforming action set over 30 levels across 6 world themes with giant retro boss battles. There's also plenty of secrets and easter eggs to find, all to an authentic chiptune soundtrack.

With this and Life of Pixel headed our way, wonder if any other PSM titles will get a second lease of life? Check out the trailer and some screens...


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SteamWorld Dig 2 launch trailer

Just a week to go until we get to enjoy SteamWorld Dig on the Vita. While the gameplay looks familiar, this launch trailer shows off the new interface, and a bunch of new levels and new types of gameplay mechanics.

Image and Form are a class act, and I hope this isn't their last Vita game (on the basis that sales will likely be tiny compared to the Switch edition), but if it is, they will be going out in style.

Review: Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony

Note: I'm still wading through the blood in the meat of DV3KH, and you can't take screenshots past the first chapter, so this review should be pretty spoiler free.

Review: Damn, that's one long prologue, Danganronpa V3 immediately feels like a beefier game than its predecessors, allowing you to explore more of the Ultimate School and meet a new generation of classmates who will soon be doing dirty deeds to each other. The game is certainly better and sharper looking too!

The long intro isn't helped by the charmless antics of the Monokub bears as they pop in and out to intercede. That's before the one-and-only Monokuma shows up to start proceedings properly. At least he has the decency to mock the length of the game's intro!

In between all the tutorials, we find the usual bat-shit crazy Ultimate this, that and other students. Around the school, there's lots of places for murdering to be done, and plenty of tools for job. If you've never played a Danganronpa game before, then it makes for a useful if extended intro, navigating the halls, using the map properly, looking for clues and guessing what will happen next.

Then, the diabolical plans come into play as the 16 students get the obvious "here's an easy escape route" out of their systems, via a neat 2D platform mini-game. They bunk in for the night and wonder how they will get out of the Academy sealed inside a very massive budgie cage, alive.

On with the killing

The first death and the ensuing class trial thankfully pick up the pace. Once the crime has been discovered, you learn to use the Focus View to see what's important in a room, clicking on everything is essential to progressing the story, sometimes more than once as views, people and rooms change.

Without giving too much away, it is easy to see where the various avenues of investigation fall down or stand up, especially if you've ever played a previous version or seen an episode of Dexter or CSI. Evidence and stories are gathered as Truth Bullets, with a smattering of dark humour, funny discoveries and huge amounts of cod emoting from the cast of increasingly defensive characters.

There are characters you will love, those that you hate, but most have dark histories that can skew your loyalties one way, then the other. Danganronpa remains one of the few games that can put you through such an emotional rollercoaster, even if the over-acting will take the edge off for some.

Then we're off to the trial, the one bit of the series I really don't like, with its increasingly infuriating truth bullets and seemingly random word blasting. This long, drawn out process of elimination is often confusing and badly-explained, especially at the higher difficulty levels and is definitely a trial to get through. The new games don't really add much other than variety, Scrum Debates feel pointless with the whole class shouting at each other, the rhythm section feels out of place, while the car racing Psyche Taxi game could make a good freebie title in its own right.

Trial by twists, and twisted by the trial

The further you get into the story, the deeper the plots the become, with more clues, more lies and deceit, and the body count soon mounts up. There's a neat retro trip into virtual reality, and a lesson in game coding, but it all ends up at the trials which more complicated as the numbers thin out, and the twists come thick and fast. It is easy to feel overwhelmed at times, but speeding through the pleas, anger and denial means you lose some of the raw edge to the game, so I recommend persevering and taking your finger off the advance button.

Between the trials, there's a little personal time where you can get to know your classmates better and befriend them with gifts, but that's always felt a rather tacked-on part of the series.

There are a few annoyances in D3, most of which run through the series. Primarily that if you investigate things randomly, then some of the information appears out of sequence. It always seems best to talk to people first, then look at the evidence, but that removes some of the freedom to explore how you like.

Then there are the annoying trial games, especially at the higher difficulty levels, even with the gimmicks and assists it offers. I'd be delighted if there was an option just to fill out the comic strip timeline, the last act of any trial, as a substitute for someone who just wants to play through the story.

However, the game is held together by its gut-shredding plot, some clever/annoying twists in the later rounds, capped by the gruesome finales and that stomach-churning need to know who will come out at the end. With superb, lunatic, character design, the game holds its charm, while the vivid, lurid, colours in the world help Danganronpa V3 rivet itself to your eyeballs.

Price: £TBC Amazon UK, $39.99 Amazon US, PSN: TBC
More reviews
Score: 9/10
Dev: Spike Chunsoft
Size: 3GB
Progress: Then there were five, and one was very mad

Semispheres bongs its way to the Vita

Radu Muresan's (aka VividHelix) Semispheres won many plaudits based on the PC release back in 2016, now us Vita owners get a go at this ambient, dual-sided puzzler thanks to Playscope and EastAsiaSoft.

Plan ahead as you work on the left and right on the screen, and trigger the parallel puzzles to get both of your half-heroes through to the end of the level.

Chaos Child confirmed for October with new trailer

PQube hopes to continue with the success of Stein's Gate and its sequel with the Chaos Child visual novel causing a ruckus among western Vita owners next month. Part of the sprawling Science Adventure series, it takes place in the same world, but has an interest in altenate realities rather than time travel, likely with the same twists and turns, and a high level of emotional involvement.

Chaos;Child will release in Europe on October 13, and North America on October 24.

13 Sentinels trailer shows off some stomping, skulking, running gameplay

The previous sneaky looks at Vanillaware and Atlus' 13 Sentinels have been purely art-based, but in this new TGS trailer, we get to see some "action", if you like people running, walking and the ankles of a great big bot doing a little stomping. The game, from Dragon Crown's George Kamitani's could still be anything, but is definitely the most interesting thing out of the show.

With a "coming 2018" tag at the end, and Vita still listed as a format, is this final farewell to big budget Vita games? Looks like it since there was no new hardware on show from Sony, so enjoy the Vita while it lasts.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ys VIII is your UK retail Vita No. 1

Falcom's new RPG only went on sale on Friday, so I'm assuming most of these were pre-orders, but Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is the Vita retail No. 1, for whatever that's worth. I don't see the PS4 version (same price) in any list, not even the PS4 dedicated chart, so while the figures are probably minuscule, the Vita version at least gets a bit of kudos for making an effort.

1. new Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana (Falcom
2. + Metal Gear Solid HD (Konami)
3. - Minecraft (Mojang)
4. + Killzone Mercenary (Sony)
5 - Call of Duty Black Ops (Activision)

Chart information Copyright UKIE

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Take your VitaminX and Apples for your Vita (JP)

Guess Idol games are in vogue in Japan, here's a couple of new clips highlighting some of D3's VitaminX Destination action and whatever the heck Honeybee's Apple Polisher surprise movie is. Too tired to even look these projects up right now, comment if you know what the heck is going on!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Heart Forth Alicia coming 2018, new video

The gorgeous Metroidvania platformer Heart Forth Alicia is still coming to the Vita with work well underway. As is often the way with these Kickstarter projects it's taking a while, and developer Alonso Martin is battling multiple issues to get the game done. That's put it into a mid-2018 release period, but given the amount of Vita games out soon, that's no bad thing.

For backers, a PC/Mac demo is now available to see how progress is going, I'll let you know what I think of it. For everyone else, here's a video of it in action.

Ys VIII Lacrimosa of Dana launch trailer and exclusive DLC

Out now in Europe, Falcom's Ys VIII Lacrimosa of Dana is a massive RPG adventure and the PS Vita version comes with an epic limited edition and a bunch of exclusive DLC (list below). Check out the launch trailer to meet the characters and storyline.

PS Vita DLC List: Deserted Pirate Adol, Deserted Pirate Laxia, Deserted Pirate Sahad, Deserted Pirate Hummel, Deserted Pirate Ricotta, Deserted Pirate Dana, Tropic Swimwear Adol, Tropic Swimwear Laxia, Tropic Swimwear Ricotta, Tropic Swimwear Dana, Hug Hug Feena, Hug Hug Lilia, Hug Hug Dark, Stylish Glasses Set, Stylish Sunglasses Set, Ancient Mask Set, Free Set 1, Free Set 2.

Dangaronpa V3 character trailer as release nears

The latest bunch of unfortunates-turned-murderers line up for the camera as we rush toward the launch of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmong, perhaps the biggest of the last Vita releases.

I'm already wading into the review and rushing toward the second trial, the game is everything you'd hope for if you've experienced the first two murderfests! There's plenty of twists, bearish humour and some clever use of graphics. If you missed the demo, check out this gameplay clip.

Summon Night 6 finally nears release

After a protracted period of approval, the strategic RPG Summon Night 6 is almost ready for release, having passed QA with Sony Europe. So, Gaijinworks has dropped a new trailer to renew excitement for the game.

You might want to go for the physical release, as the game comes with a chunky manual that you'll want to refer to during the many battles that await. With a lengthy adventure ahead of you, there's also 60 Endless Domain's levels to conquer once you finish the main game. Hopefully it will ship across all areas on the 27th September

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ratalaika shows no Distraint with another Vita release

Psychological horror Distraint may look a bit cartoony, but it looks every bit as eerie and scary as Home and Uncanny Valley with sepia 2D visuals, haunting tunes and a disturbing story. As a Deluxe Edition, it comes with a revised interface, updated animation and audio on the Steam original.

The game offers a full dose of 2D psychological horror, developed by Jesse Makkonen, where you play an ambitious young man named Price. In order to secure a partner position within the famous company he works for, Price seizes the property of an elderly woman. In that very moment he finds out the price of his humanity. This is his story and the tale of his regrets...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Vita sales lurk under 4K in Japan

Vita hardware sales are down just a few this week in Japan, at 3,913 according to Media Create data. How low can we go? Is the question on no one's mind, but these numbers have to have some impact and Sony and when it decides to kill off the Vita.

Even then, with decent levels of software support coming for at least another year. This week's new entry is the visual novel Kono Subarashii Sekai Ni Syukufuku Wo aka KonoSuba from 5pb, based on the light novel series. This underwear stealing adventure sold exactly 7,000 copies to land just outside the top 10. The PS4 version sold just 44 copies more.

Down at the bottom of the top 20 Minecraft lingers on for Vita selling another near-3,000 copies! Out this week is Touhou Sky Arena from Mediascape, a girl-on-girl witchy flying combat game, which is unlikely to help sales of anything much.

New Tokyo Clanpool screens ahead of Japanese demo

Having just reviewed Mary Skelter, its kind of good to see the DRPG genre rolling on with Tokyo Clanpool. What's not so good is to see a complete lack of innovation in this latest Compile Heart game. Dress it up any way you like, it is still the same old format. Given Kadokawa's The Lost Child is heading west too, I guess this won't be far behind.

 That's to the extent that every DRPG now seems to have to have a boob rubbing fan service element (I've missed out that screenshot). Anyway, a Japanese demo is out on the 25th for those with JP PSN accounts, ahead of the full game release on October 5th.
 In the game, a top notch team of Japanese politicians of the “Cyber Tactics Cabinet,” - all girls, wade into battle against the latest demonic threat to menace Tokyo, an inverted tower city.

 While the interface screens have had some major work on them, the rest of the game is highly traditional DRPG territory. Check out the Japanese site here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Mary Skelter: Nightmares

Why can't Japanese developers put the basics in a manual? Why does the start of every RPG require half an hour of furiously tapping X for banal conversations with about 10 useful bits of information buried in the text, desperately wanting to just play the bloody game? (Yes, I know there's auto proceed and skip options, but they don't really solve the problem).

If you survive the mandatory preamble that litters the opening of Mary Skelter: Nightmares, then you have do indeed have a bloody (if pink) step-by-step role player to enjoy. Blood is at the heart of a collection of fairy tale characters dragged into a crazed sentient prison, with the surviving few trying to defeat the monsters that roam within. Blood powers their weapons, their transformations and you can lick your bleeding friends to gain health (yuk!)

The big eyes in the walls and giant clocks do sort of make sense for a nightmare prison, less so the comfy sofas. But, it soon becomes clear that the fairy tales are tied to the living prison, and as you clear Chapter 1, at least the pace picks up and the outbursts of chatter tail off.

In play, as in Compile Heart's Moero games, lone-boy Jack acts as a helper to the all-action girls. He feeds them supplies and health packs as they battle with swords, bows and playing cards, or use their range of elemental skill attacks against the demons. He must also keep them in check, as too much blood can trigger Hulk-like lady rampages that can rip your happy party to shreds.

Mixing saving the game using a Rabbit Hole pop-up tent with returns to base to stock up is always wise. That is, unless you find the wandering merchant, or benefit from one of the jail's regular bonus rounds. As you get going, there's a brisk pace with exploring, battling and scuttling away wounded.

As your party levels up, few beasts really pose a challenge until you get to the end of level Marchen guardian, when you suddenly find your health packs and attack skills are woefully inadequate. So, you'll need to grind, grind, grind a few levels to build up enough stamina. To make things worse, they can appear randomly and chase you to ensure you never really feel safe.

Jail House Rock

During this panicky run-around, you'll find the prison is also full of locked or sealed doors, gaps, holes you can't yet get over, cracks in the scenery and fences that you can tear through, or find a hidden switch to activate. Using the girls' blood abilities to overcome these obstacles, there's a fair bit of back and forth to explore all these nooks and crannies, but it adds to the fun and sense of completion.

At Dawn Base, a hero's retreat from the madness, you can go round the rooms and treat the girl's with gifts of interior decor pieces to boost your relationship with them. A laboratory allows party members to change jobs or boost the number of expansion slots, and muck around with their blood types. The Solar Order provide collecting missions, most of which you'll probably complete before you knew they existed, rendering these white-gowned loons rather pointless.
In Mary Skelter Nightmares, killer shoes are a feature
The Blood Weapon Factory can be used to modify blood attacks, all of which is just a complex way of upgrading weapons to take down the different types of demons that use the same old fire-water-earth-air weakness system. A store provides some basic essentials but is soon underpowered compared to what you need!

As a kind of mini-game, there's a rather tame touchscreen rub-the-lady feature to "purge" them of their impurities, likely an added extra inspired by Criminal Girls, but totally pointless and rather demeaning the game.

Deeper into jail

As you explore look out for Emotion Points, these help you get along with the prison, which has peculiar needs, but even this feature feels like a tacked on extra.

Getting deeper into the game and using the girl's job swap feature and their advanced skills, you can line up a formidable force to beat down the Marchens, but there's nowhere near enough coherent story or must-do-quests or side quests to really push you to the later stages beyond the Downtown and further.

While we await Demon Gaze II, Mark Skelter will do nicely, as its pretty much the same old experience. The enemy graphics have had a bit of a makeover, with 3D animations, but they still make little to no sense in the scheme of things. I suspect someone in Japan has a random-monster-create-o-meter for all these games!

The usual gripes also apply, why does every treasure chest hold some shitty bangle and not actual treasure, where's the variety of armour or special powers through unified kits? Can't the developers try anything in that direction?

Otherwise, the text UI takes too long, slows up play and is plain dumb. The game is also weighed down by too many systems, making it easy to miss something that could make your life a lot easier.

But, if you ignore the "Now that's what I call role playing 1997!" feel to it, Skelter is a fun, slightly mad romp, that does little with the great history of the fairy tale characters it co-opts or goes far enough with the whole Nightmare motif!

Price: £39.99 Amazon UK, $39.99 Amazon US, PSN: TBC
More reviews
Score: 7/10
Dev: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Size: 3GB
Progress: Westside/eastside all the bloody same!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Japanese Vita video Friday

Loads of visual novels are steaming to the Vita across the rest of the year and into 2018. I know nothing about most of them, so just enjoy the music, chatty madness and visual stylings! Also a few new Itadaki Street videos, if you fancy a spot of import board gaming in the FF and DQ universes.

Butterfly Incident (Idea Factory)

Rejet (three games)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Lost Child confirmed for western release

NIS America continues to bring the Vita goodness with the news that The Lost Child from Kadokawa will travel west. A very brief announce trailer, but there's basically another big dose of RPG action with big scary monsters, but more of a sinister tone than some of the fantasy fare.

The story follows a journalist on the trail of the weird and occult, who is investigating a series of suicides, leading to the monsters lurking a series of 99 levels. We only have a 2018 release date, but that's good enough for now and helps bulk out next year's list further.

Jobs for the girls in Mary Skelter

I'm in the early going of my review for Mary Skelter and after the usual explain-athon, am starting to quite like it. Idea Factory has a new update showing off the game's Job System.

This lets you change a Blood Maiden's abilities and appearance, which will allow you to access a completely different set of equipment and skills. Each Blood Maiden has a unique list of jobs to choose that's based on her combat style. Some are able to choose special jobs like "Item Meister," which allows her to use items in battle, or "Poet," which allows her to use music to support her party. There are over 20 jobs to choose from so you can customize your own Blood Maiden team!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vita sales fall below 4K in Japan for the first time ever

Can we call the Vita venerable yet? The near-seven-year-old console is certainly approaching EOL, but developers still keep kicking out the games for it.

While we are still in the late summer slump, new games are starting to arrive, so you'd hope some Japanese gamers could be keen to pick up a new Vita, even as Switch continues to dominate Japanese gaming.

However, sales have dipped below the mystical 4,000 mark, even if sales are only 100 down on last week. Still, as a psychological barrier, it is disappointing. Is this the start of the slide to Xbox One territory? Or can the lively roster of games keep it kicking to the end of the year, or at least until Sony blinks and pops up with a Vita 2 in a couple of weeks?

Interestingly, psychological barriers are what makes companies do things, such as marketing, price cuts, new models. But Sony seems traumatised by the Vita and has done literally nothing for two-some years. It really is the strangest of situations for a console, slowly removing apps and features, despite the user base that loves it fiercely.  

On the games front, Gust's Nights of Azure 2 on Vita outsold the Switch version by 7K to 4.4K, but the PS4 edition dominated with 18K, even then that's hardly a stellar launch.

Everybody's Golf 2 hit the No. 1 spot in the Media Create chart on PS4 selling over 100K, a game that there's no reason at all it shouldn't be on Vita! It has turn-based play, even though all players 'play' at the same time, so no need for a fast network, and the handheld could easily handle the social side. Likely the blame lies with Sony for this, as Clap Hanz has done stellar work on the PSP and Vita.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review - Licky the Lucky Lizard Lives Again

I'm not sure what it is with poorly-proportioned animals and these type of endless games. On the Vita, we've had Hungry Giraffe craning his ever-long neck skywards and now there's Licky the Lizard using his impossibly long tongue to keep ahead of the lava bubbling up the tube he's fallen into. 

By mixing swinging and leaping, and sticking his tongue to one of the platforms higher up, Licky must stay ahead of the flow which accelerates the longer he survives. This does mean that you die a lot in the early going, trying to figure out what to do and which strategies work. 

Playing the tutorial a few times will give you a marginally better chance of survival, but in the mayhem of the normal game, dying is oh-so-easy. The additional skill of being able to throw rocks to destroy platforms in your way can help, but also confuse as you aim to bag a big combo score.

Also, the game is impossible to take a good screenshot of, so enjoy this video instead! As you can see swinging and aiming sideways is the key to big scores rather than just thinking vertically. 

Simple in its looks, which is no bad thing for a solo indie effect, the focus is on replayability. Licky does have that just-one-more-go appeal, and the further you get, the more upgrades you unlock like double jump, ability to hold more rocks and greater multipliers to boost your score. Watch a decent player making effortless leaps around the screen may drive you crazy, but persevere and you should be able to notch up a decent score. 

Note, this game did ship with some bugs, but a recent patch seems to have fixed those issues. 

Price: £2.49
Score: 7/10
Dev: Bez Does Games
Size: 92MB
Progress: Chameleon slow (over 25K)! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Steamworld Dig 2 dated for September

A Cross Buy purchase, Steamworld Dig 2 from the highly dependable Image & Form will hit the Vita and PS4 on 26th September for £14.99/$19.99 after a short burst of Nintendo Switch exclusivity.

Featuring new levels and tools plus upgrades, a new heroine in the form of Dorothy McCrank and a roster of new characters to enjoy. Check out the Switch gameplay, can't imagine the Vita version looking too much different, if a little less sharp.

Reverie goes physical in Asia

EastAsiaSoft has linked up with New Zealand-based studio Rainbite Limited to bring Vita action adventure Reverie to Asia in early 2018. Reverie will launch digitally on the PlayStation Store and as a physical Limited Edition, sold exclusively via retailer

Reverie is strongly inspired by Earthbound and The Legend of Zelda. Players take on the role of Tai, a young boy on summer holiday who is exploring Toromi Island. With angry spirits threatening the safety of the island's inhabitants, Tai must venture through dangerous dungeons and across a variety of environments to put the spirits to rest.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth LE unboxing

Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth brings a mix of strategy and visual novel, spread over 80 hours. Mixing political intrigue to experience, relationships to build, and battles to win, the LE comes with some comforting items to help on the long journey. including a pillowcase withYamato priestesses Uruuru and Saraana. Check out the full reveal here...