Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Boob-obsessed Omega Labyrinth Z heads west in 2018

Oh, boy! Or oooh, cheeky! Depending on your point of view. PQube is bringing the boob-obsessed Omega Labyrinth Z from D3 west in 2018.

Billed as the most tantalizing rogue-like RPG of 2018, the big haul is a magical grail that can grant any wish. Legend has it that the grail is hidden in a secret cave, that only reveals itself on opening day of the Academy each year.

Naturally, that means Aina Akemiya, a young self-conscious student at the academy, and her friends are going to try and take advantage of it for their own, deeply personal, use. In the game, you battle through the usual dungeons with random maps, monsters and loot. It features:
  • Tactical turn-based combat – Control the battlefield with expert positioning and use of skills!
  • Explore lengthy dungeons – Randomly generated dungeons brimming with loot is yours for the taking!
  • Item management made easy – The ‘Purse' system allows you to send items back to town if your inventory fills up in a dungeon. 
  • A shopaholics dream – Purchase items with Omega Power, even the dungeons have shops!
I'll leave all the boob-fetish stuff to the official site which should go live soon, but draw your attention to one of the Japanese videos of the game in action. 

Sony's massive new Vita launch nets around 3,000 extra sales

The launch of the new Vita (no) Value Packs in Japan has seen sales rocket from 3,090 last week to, um, 5,964 according to Media Create figures. That's a not-quite doubling of sales, showing just how low Sony's ambition has become, perhaps it put 5,000 on the shelves tops?

Not that most Japanese gamers need a new Vita. Switch sales dominate the hardware market at 68% of all sales, while no Vita games are in the top 20 again.

Side note: I was wondering if the new 3.67 firmware was due to these new units having some new components. If anyone has one, can they investigate?
With no Sony-developed titles to promote the bundle, the company is relying on a deflating liferaft of third-party games. But the problem didn't start this week, year or even last. When Sony bet everything on PS4, which has bankrolled the company for a couple of years, it now has nothing to counter Switch and no handheld/hybrid play left.

So, come on Sony, a HD/WiFi/GPU upgrade, capable of handling PS3 ports and Remote Play is all you need and you're back in the game for Japan. Even if it is three years late. How hard can that be? Back to 3,000 next week? Although on the plus side, it was only 500 below the PS4 Pro :)
What next Sony, the PS4 Pro Plus?

Energy Invasion brings Breakout back to full charge

Miss the odd game of Arkanoid, or any of the other Breakout clones? Well, Energy Invasion has just popped up with a Vita and PS4 trophy list and looks to add some fresh polish to one of the oldest genres. Published by Sometimes You, who brought us Alteric, Energy Cycle and Spiral Splatter among others, they may not be the classiest of titles, but at this point everything is welcome and this looks pretty trippy.

The Longest Five Minutes takes place next February

After a fair old delay, we now have a date for NIS America's Longest Five Minutes western release.

In what appears to be the spirit of 30-second Hero, here comes another pixel-fun RPG. An amnesiac hero, presumably taking the piss out of all other RPGs where you wake up concussed must take on a Demon King.

With no memory of finishing moves, his hometown, and even the reason he's trying to defeat the Demon King in the first place, things will be tough. Look out for this on 16 February, digitally on Vita. Official website here.

Time Recoil, 10tons Vita swansong

Finnish developer 10tons has delighted us with Neon Chrome and Xenoraid among others, but it looks like Time Recoil will be their last outing on Vita. That's as the system struggles to keep up with their newer efforts, and the pain and time cost of porting outweighs any financial benefit. Fair enough, and thanks to the team for being upfront about it.

Time Recoil is a top-down shooter loaded with slow-motion gunfights, epic special moves, time attack mode, and a time travel storyline. In Time Recoil, players have a freakish, Matrix-like superpower: Kill to slow time. Subsequent kills give more time in slowdown and enable you to conduct unbelievable slow motion feats!

Or maybe that's just the Vita grinding to a halt? Either way, kills in slowdown grant special moves, allowing you to dash through walls and enemies.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A better look at SkullPirates and WarTheatre

Yesterday's Twitter videos didn't show the new Arcade Distillery games off at their finest, but crank this up to HD and full-screen for a better look at the more action-focused SkullPirates and the strategic WarTheatre in early action. These and 3D platformer Manufactured Beauty will definitely add some colour to the Vita next year.

UPDATE: Skull Pirates needs a Kickstarter campaign to get funded, launching on 1 December, check it out here.

Pixel Noir latest trailer from the wrong side of the cyber tracks

Now that SWDTech has a publisher (BadLand) for its adventure game Pixel Noir, things are steaming toward a release next year. Here's a new trailing showing off the latest beta build of the game.

"Living on the streets of a shithole like Pinnacle City, there’s only two things to keep you going: A pack of cigarettes and the feeling that there’s more than this. There was something rotten in that rundown place. You were in over your head, but you were too proud to admit it. It was your pride that killed your partner. With the hospital burned to the ground and nothing to exonerate you, they threw you in jail."

Outlands' North to mess with your mind

North is one of (many) games I know nothing about, but the review highlights up on its Steam and home page suggest something interesting is coming our way. The game has a set of Vita trophies appeared, so I guess a release is coming soon thanks to publisher Sometimes You.
“NORTH feels like a breath of fresh air in an indie gaming landscape that is quickly becoming saturated with titles that address hard hitting topics, but still feel as though something is missing. One can only hope that other developers take notice.” - Motherboard
“NORTH is a fantastic blend of sci fi adventure and social commentary in which you explore a bizarre futuristic Blade Runner-esque city, filled with strange creatures and strange customs.” - Free Game Planet
This video makes a fair effort at explaining it without giving anything away, and while it might be a short game, it looks well worth investigating and support the developer and publisher.

Monday, November 27, 2017

MoonBear's Pocket Build could come to the Vita

Over in the wilds of Reddit, a dev asked if Vita owners would like to see his latest mobile game on Sony's platform. A sandbox free-building game, you can create what you like, how you like, with no threat or wider ambitions to fulfill. Feel free to drop in a comment of support.

From the iOS version page, "Have you ever wanted to make your own little fantasy world? A farm, some kind of castle, or just an epic fantasy city? Pocket Build is an open world game where you can build with no limitations or restrictions. Build whatever you like, whenever you like, however you like. The possibilities are endless!"

Arcade Distillery's Manufactured Beauty their third game announced today

Hot on the heels of SkullPirates and War Theatre, Arcade Distillery has another game on the go, somewhat further from completion. Called Manufactured Beauty they aim to make a game that pushes the technical limits of the PS Vita. Given that title is currently held by Killzone, that's a brave challenge to undertake.

However, this game is more likely to be compared to Sly and other 3D platformers, loosening the comparison a bit. In the game, you are a robotic rabbit, Mr. Cuddles stuck in a 3D platform world of remnant creature and robot parts.

Cuddles will bump into other mechanical animals and needs to find out where they are all there, and presumably who put them all together.

Luc Bernard announces SkullPirates for Vita and PS4

Arcade Distillery continues to support the Vita with some fine looking games. Next up is action RPG SkullPirates, revealed in this tweet just minutes ago. Following that is War Theatre, a strategy RPG. Fill your boots!

Update: SkullPirates is set for a Halloween 2018 release!

Hopefully, it will have more refined gameplay than Plague Road, which looks awesome but was a little stilted, but with a fast learning curve. They seem to have borrowed the visual tone of Plague Road, but folded it into a more action-based game with RPG mechanics, can't wait. Time to tick off one of the Vita's unannounced games list from the release schedule.

Again, the visual theme is familiar, but the volume of characters and the level of aggression has been kicked up a few notches.

Rainbow Skies limited edition in pictures

Pre-orders are up for the Rainbow Skies limited edition on Play Asia, with some neat pics of what's in the box. At just £28 for UK buyers (plus postage) or the basic physical version for £19, this looks like a game well worth snapping up.

Check out the game trailer in the previous story.

Rainbow Skies teaser trailer and LE

Classy-looking RPG Rainbow Skies is on the way in 2018, with a hysical limited edition from Play Asia. A Rainbow Moon LE will also be arriving if you want to match the set. They include maps, CDs and a guide book.

The new adventure features monsters you can tame, upgradable characters, with a wide range of customization and character development possibilities. There are plenty of optional and endgame content, side and treasure hunt quests, a humorous story and plenty of content.

The story goes as follows: It's a big day for Damion with a final examination as a monster tamer, an important profession in his hometown, which is constantly threatened by monster attacks. However, after a terrible hangover, Damion completely messes things up and not only fails the examination but also destroys the entire monster compound.

When he tries to cover up his mishap with his examiner Layne, things turn from bad to worse and through a number of unforeseen circumstances, they find themselves between two rival superpowers.

Enjoy the new trailer as Damion and his friends get to work sorting out the mess.

Friday, November 24, 2017

VA-11 Hall-A hits the charts in Japan

Missed this earlier in the week as the first Media Create chart only goes up to 20, but the Famitsu chart digs a little deeper. And congratulations go to Sukeban Games, for VA-11 HALL-A reaching No. 29 and selling 1,968 copies, between 40% to 60% of its limited print run at ¥3.000.

The cyberpunk bar game generated plenty of interest and positivity with drinks in real bars and loads of fan art being created. That, a fantastic soundtrack and some true grass roots appreciation make this more than a modest success, not bad for a western indie on a dead platform that no one loves.

It gets to be on the same list as new Pokemon, Star Wars Battlefront and Dragon Quest releases. Can't wait for the EU release.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Raspberry Pi-powered Pip handheld nears KS success

I've had a lot of fun with my Rasberry Pi microcomputer over the years, as a media server, emulator and general gadget. The maker community gets another version soon, a Kickstarted portable is very nearly there, made by UK company Curious Chip.

UPDATE: Main funding goal reached!

Some 90% funded with three weeks to go it looks a bit like a Playmobil Switch, but can be used as a kid's creative tool or as a portable gaming unit, playing Minecraft and other games.

The components are more battery-life-friendly versions of the current third-generation Pi, with a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, 800*480 60Hz screen, SD card storage and detachable controllers.

It might not be a modern Linux game player, but could make fun little emulator box if you install Raspian. I guess it would be somewhere between a PSP and a Vita in performance, but stick a MAME on there, and there's fun to be had.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Vita sales in Japan at risk of dropping below 3K

We accept the Vita is dead hardware in the west, but Japanese sales show just how fast it is falling to the Switch onslaught on Sony's home turf.

I've dug out the big old chart to show how Sony's poor management of the Vita has left the console now. At a time when in previous years, big releases and new colours or models would help spike sales, it remains in perma-decline. There isn't a single Vita game in the new Media Create chart and the Vita managed just 3,090 sales.

Note, in the Famitsu chart, Va-11 Hall-a sneaked into the top 30, top job Sukeban!

Sure, it might shuffle up a little this week as the new non-value packs arrive, hitting shelves today, but with no new colour or game bundles, this really is the last gasp of a company consigned to portable defeat. Digimon Story is the next major release in mid-December.

And here's the current year chart showing just how fast decline has come to the Vita. Seriously, Sony all it would have taken is a HD upgrade in 2015/16 with a better WiFi chip and SD card support! On the plus side, it could be another year until sales fall low enough for Sony to end production, which would bring it to eight years old not a bad innings!

December 15 western release for Romancing Saga 2 confirmed

Developer Akitoshi Kawazu has finally confirmed a western release date for Romancing Saga 2, a game with a deeper and sorrier tale of its publishing than any game based any soap opera! Note he promptly clarified December 2017!

UPDATE: release confirmed as December 15th! There's a new PSN blog post with a producer interview and new pics.

Now it is just down to Square for the details, I'm guessing a physical release is very unlikely. Given this is Square, I'd still say there's a good chance of the release not happening! Romancing Saga 3 is down for a 2018 release in Japan, with a western release also promised by Kawazu-san once the port of RS2 has finished. Busy man!
Romancing Saga 2 Android version 

Enjoy this look at Atelier Lydie & Suelle on Vita

Since the Vita version isn't coming west, here's probably our only peek at the new Atelier game on Sony's portable. And if you compare it to the Switch video of Alchemists of the Mysterious Painting, you can see why developers and gamers are moving on.

UPDATE: Another trailer has popped up...

Even so, would it really have hurt for Tecmo/Gust to nudge a digital version our way? That would be helpful for long-term fans to complete their collection. Personally, I really enjoyed Atelier Sophie last year, but I'm not too sure how much more cutesy potioning I can take.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] heads west in February

Quick, add a stupidest game name to those game of the year polls, I think we have a late entry (but, I think that's the point)! In related news, Arc System Works' latest anime brawler hits the west across all PlayStation formats on February 9th thanks to PQube on publishing duties.

  • Thrilling cast of characters – A varied cast of 20 characters, including series newcomers Phonon, Mika, Enkidu and Wagner!
  • 19 glorious stages – Including 4 beautiful new areas, Cafeteria, Children's Playground, Momiji Alley and the Cathedral of the Far East.
  • Re-balanced gameplay – Old favourites have new abilities and new gameplay elements have been added, including the ‘Veil Off' system that opens up new combo opportunities.
  • Mission Mode – Learn new skills in a dedicated combo challenge mode and take on some of the hardest challenges in the game.
  • Tutorial Mode – An expansive tutorial mode has been added to the game that teaches all the skills necessary to level up your game.
  • Chronicle Mode – Discover the narrative of UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[st] in a dedicated story mode experience.

Star Wars Battlefront II review

A long time ago, 12-years, in a galaxy that had never heard of loot crates, there were plenty of Star Wars games to go around. From strategy fleet wargames, third and first-person action titles to the world of Battlefront where you could slog it out between Rebels and the Empire, gaming was good.

Who knows what is happening now, except rampant corporate greed. But over in portable corner, you can still have a spot of MP LucasArts Star Wars fun. The PSP game, only 595MB in size, plays on the Vita and multiplayer still works using local network.
Camera phone shot of the PSP game
Programmed by Pandemic with Savage Entertainment on duty for the portable version, Battlefront II offers single player challenges, Galactic Conquest mode and Instant Action, while multiplay is quick to setup and go via WLAN. Play is obviously better on the Vita with dual sticks, but manageable on the PSP.

Battles take place across a range of worlds from Dagobah to Endor, Hoth to Naboo and a handful of lesser planets with space battles set over Yavin and Coruscant to mix things up. Sides from both the original and prequel series are available to fight with on any mission.
Camera shot of Battlefront II running on the Vita with filtering enabled. 
In theory, the PSP exclusive features of Rebel Raider, Imperial Enforcer (mission 1: kill all the Ewoks) or Rogue Assassin tours of duty add some cachet to it, but most people will prefer the four-player online mode with familiar troops and equipment.

This 2005 game does look basic with blocky structures and blurry textures. Outdoors is presented in various shades of mud.  Still, the characters are recognisable and the music is as awesome as you'd hope, to make up for the limited range of sound effects. But, when General Grievous turns up dual-wielding lightsabres, that more than makes up for any ropey visuals.

In action, the game is reasonably smooth, aiming is tight on the Vita, not so much on the PSP, and the action is fast and furious on the indoor maps, with a little more leg room outside. Swapping troops or getting to play as Yoda or another hero makes any battle unpredictable and dumb fun for all ages. And then there's the multiple weapons to try out, stomping around in an AT-ST, all in a game the size of PS4 save file!

That's the good news, the bad is looking for it on the EU Vita PSN store app shows no results. I downloaded this from my history list, so it is there, and I can see it on the PC browser store, but not sure about other regions or stores! Wonder if EA asked for its removal to avoid "confusion!"

Score: 6/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99
File size 600MB
Progress: Feeling the Force

Black Friday PSN EU PS+ deals up

Here are your EU PSN Black Friday deals for PlayStation Plus subscribers, valid until Friday. The usual suspects plus a couple of recent gems. Hopefully, a follow-up sale for those who don't PS+ will be along shortly.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sony Japan shows off Vita as a remote player

Back home, Sony has actually kept a recent promise to do more with the Vita. It has put out a new series of online ads, one tutorial and one funny. They show off how to keep on playing PS4 games when others need the TV.

Quite how or why Sony globally didn't take this approach three or four years ago, who knows! With the new value packs out this week, I guess this is about as much as Sony can do with no first party titles to pimp.

Review Demon Gaze II

Good news Demon Gaze fans, Kadokawa and Experience haven't fucked this up! I seriously loved the original DG back in 2014. But, since then, pretty much every DRPG (Lost Dimension, Operation Abyss, Ray Gigant etc.) I've tried has messed about with the basics, added some stupid rules, impenetrable plot or weird twist or mechanic that made me hate them with extra bile.

The recent Mary Skelter from Idea Factory/Compile Heart restored some sanity and disorder, now Demon Gaze II keeps the back-to-basics trend rolling. There are a few tiny tweaks, but otherwise, this could have come out in 2014 and slurped on the massive success of DG, which sold over 180K thanks to its global appeal, probably well over 200/250K by now.

That's not to say DG or the sequel, are some boundary-pushing, genre-busting classics. Instead, in both games, you get a solid RPG adventure with a likeable cast and speedy gameplay. Nothing fancy or overtly whacky.

Styx and the City

While some of the cast follow on from No.1 and the scenery is pretty much interchangeable, the sequel has moved downtown. With such locales as Star Temple, Business District, Dragonwood Park, Royal Castle the perfect city of Asteria has a dark underbelly with its ruler relying on demonic forces to keep things quiet and under his thumb.

Each level plays home to a set of demon circles that you need to capture at which point the end of level battle is your next port of call. Defeat a demon and she can be bound the Demon Gazer's side (that's you). As a party, choosing from 16 demons, you can build a team that can take on the worst of the dungeons.

Battles are short and swift, with a range of physical or magical attacks, following the usual elemental rules. If things get tricky, turning the girls into demons will up your firepower, depending on how much juice is in the Star Guage. Familiar features like auto-route on the map, help you get around fast and quick battle will zoom you through minor encounters. Along the way, hidden skulls to collect for Prometh and mushrooms for the guy in the store provide secrets to find and extras to track down.

Every now and again, a major UMF creature will threaten the city and help advance the plot along, but this is really just a game to enjoy for the dungeon raids and a spot of grinding to take down the next demon.

Demonology one-on-one

If you want to get to know your demons a little better, you can take them out on dates and give them presents to improve their performance. One tacky but very minor addition is Maintainance mode where you need to prod them in the right spot, but it is so unsexy that you have to wonder what the point was.

You can bunk your demons in rooms on the second floor of Stella's House to make them happier, and decorate their and your room with furniture to increase some skills. As part of a rebellion, the radio studio in the basement provides a more entertaining diversion with the team putting out nicey-nicey shows to bring down the oppressors. This helps boost the Revolution score, but battling is the only way to progress.

Out on the streets, you can grind by auto-map running and speed battling through any level a few times. There are also locked doors on each level for a fair bit of retreading later on. Some random running around is needed, as gems are rarer than in the previous game. That's presumably to make eager gamers buy the in-app purchases.

Still, it is not pushy or in your face. What is of concern is this game is about three years too late to ride the Demon Gaze wave, and while there's a PS4 version, players are saying the game looks poor on a big screen, so what was the point? Whatever comes next, faster and with more focus please Experience/NISA!

Aside from the pointless nod to fan service, a few gripes remain, you still can't go through a door sideways - really? Auto-map stops when you run over a trap, and every character does an annoying squeal, also when you're trying to find hidden areas, didn't any tester say that was slightly annoying? And in some early battles, the enemy will constantly respawn reinforcements which can be a big pain for beginners.

Those aside, if you just want to romp in the dungeons, beating the bejeezus out of all kinds of weird monsters, this is a great slice of fun. But I think sharing romantic gazes down the halls of the demons isn't much of a thing now.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £34.99 (Amazon or PSN)
NIS America
File size 1.1GB
Progress: Deeper underground

UK Chart update and latest Famitsu reviews

Chart time and in the randomest thing ever, 2014's Sorcery Saga leaps out of nowhere to be the UK retail Vita No. 1. I guess that sold 50 copies to Demon Gaze II's 48. Perhaps there was a sale on, although the game is £19.99 on Amazon.

UPDATE: Game had a sale on with copies down to a few quid! That deal has now ended.

1 Re-entry Sorcery Saga: Curse Of Great Curry God
2 New entry Demon Gaze II
3 1 Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
4 3 Minecraft: Playstation Edition
5 2 Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified
6 17 Akiba's Beat Acquire Corporation
7 6 Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
8 4 Assassin's Creed Chronicles
9 5 Chaos;Child
10 16 Farming Simulator 18

Last week's UK chart data and last week's Media Create Japanese chart

In Japan, the weekend news that Atlus is bringing Valkyrie Chronicles 4 to Switch will be no surprise, but is another subtle nudge toward commercial irrelevance for the Vita.

Still, Famitsu has updated its most-wanted list, with a few Vita games still gaining attention. Square's Romancing Saga 3 leads the way and the ever-popular science VN series getting more love with Anonymous;Code.

13. Romancing SaGa 3 – 191 votes
21. Ushiro – 125 votes (PSP)
28. Anonymous;Code – 91 votes

Also out are the latest Famitsu reviews with Rejet's otome Usotsuki Shangri-La 7/7/7/8 (29) out on the 30th and visual novel Chouchou Jiken Rhapsodic 8/8/8/8 (32) keeping the Vita flag flying.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Licky Lizard gets a sticky patch

Licky the Lucky Lizard (review) is one of the more insane games of the year of Vita. If you were worried about performance of this endless climber, can't say I noticed any issues, there's a new patch out to keep things running smoothly.

Remember to support your one-man and smaller dev teams folks, as they're soon all we could have left. Unity has moved way past the Vita, and with the likes of GameMaker Studio 2 not supporting Vita (Juna Ranger is just one game we lost in this way) their efforts will take more work using older less-supported versions to come to Sony's portable, but if we don't buy what's on the market now, they won't even bother in future.

Virtual On Magical Index opening movie

The last game from Sega for the Vita? Seems likely, but the Virtual On meets a Certain Magical Index crossover should get a decent reception, arriving mid-February. A decent theme song in "Get Ready" guides us through the usual roster of mechs and supernatural-powered students.

Some of the ACMI crew featured in Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax if you're not used to that anime, and this isn't the first crossover, there was a PSP game that mixed them up with the Scientific Ensemble team.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ice Cream Surfer soft scooping to the Vita

Once a Wii U game three years ago, Ice Cream Surfer is making a comeback, including on the Vita. Dolores Entertainment from Barcelona is at the helm of this shooter, where a mad range of heroes must ride the ice cream of their choice to take on a world of strange veg and animals. Other than that, I know nothing!

WindJammers CE physical revealed by Limited Run

The who-knew-we-needed-it WindJammers game proved a big summer hit on the Vita and PS4. now there's a Windjammers Collector's Edition from Limited Run for completionists or frisbee fiends. It includes the game, a soundtrack CD, 18 x 24-inch poster, and a proper frisbee in a gate-fold box with a die-cut slipcover.

Only 2,500 of each version will be made and the cost is a whopping $64.99.

Vita might not be at PSX but a handful of games are there

Thanks to Cross Play, Cross Buy and/or pure developer tenacity, a handful of games that are coming to Vita will be on show at PlayStation Experience in December. Sony has just released the attendee list, but cunningly fails to mention Vita in any form.

Sure, these games might be showing on PS4 hardware, there might not be a Vita logo anywhere in sight, and Sony security will probably confiscate any portables, but the games are still coming.

First up, as just announced, there's Russian Subway Dogs from Spooky Squid.

Games we already know a lot about are Konjak's Iconoclasts, Hopoo's Deadbolt and YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, while a version of EarthNight is still on the cards (Cleaversoft say it is still in their plans).

Update: Luc Bernard/Arcade Distillery will be there too, to show off newly announced games, War Thunder and Skull Pirates.

Then there's the impressive looking Children of Morta, which is still confirmed for a Vita release.

Last month, Sekai confirmed that Fault Milestone One is still coming to the Vita, likely along with World End Economica and probably a few more titles (Root Double?), but with this company throwing releases around it can be hard to tell.

Games I'm still checking on include A Duel Hand Disaster: Trackher while browsing the show list for any new titles that may have sneaked in. Let me know if I've missed anything.

I guess the scary thing here is that a lot of these games started showing up in 2015, which demonstrates how long the process is for smaller developers. The scarier thing is Sony can't just admit that it has a little handheld that lots of people love, and dedicate a small corner to it and the many games still to come!

Russian Subway Dogs bark at the Vita

Okay, I guess if your development studio is called Spooky Squid, you aren't going to release an ordinary game. So, let's meet Russian Subway Dogs from a Canadian team. In this pixel arcade fest, your post-soviet pooch must steal food, avoid the people and wildlife to survive and wrack up points.

We've all seen enough viral videos of animals on subways, so it is only fair that the dogs of the Moscow Metro get their own game, and fun it looks. Due out in 2018, it mixes fun and insanity with a particular charm set against the ornate underground. Can't wait to give it a go!

As if often the indie way, along with the dogs and other animals, there are a host of guest appearances by characters from other games to watch out for! More info on the official site.

Ratalaika publishing retro-platformer "0000" on Vita

Is this the most retro game to hit the Vita yet? The first of Ratalaikia's publishing projects for 2018, "0000" from Alvarop is an almost ZX-81-style "hard as nails" platformer. Featuring one-bit mode visuals, you play a cowboy sent to beat 100 levels of tricky jumps and traps, packed with spikes, lasers, spiders, the usual!

Fail and you are randomly dumped on another level, until you have beaten them all and then get to replay it all again in hardcore mode (without dying for the trophy!!!!). With a level editor and multiplayer race mode, it might not look much, but everything is in the gameplay.

The game is also getting a PS4 release, official site here.  Ratalaika also has three more games on the way, check the release list for the vaguest of hints!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

12 minutes of Xenon Valkyrie+ gameplay on Vita

Demetrios developer Cowcat is bringing Diabolical Mind's Xenon Valkyrie+ to the Vita soon, a game that's packing spritely rogue and RPG elements. If you like the idea of permadeath, randomised levels and multiple routes, endings and many secrets, this could be heaven. Or hell, as you battle into a moon of fire and ice to defeat a wicked witch and her massive boss minions.

This is a game of a diminutive hero in epic landscapes, with epic battles to fight. Originally a PC release, the Vita version has plenty of refinements to it. Check out some 12 minutes of early gameplay from the Vita version, there are more pics and art at last month's announce news.

Occultic;Nine takes 15th in Japan as Vita sales reach a new low

The Vita sold 3,210 in Japan last week, a new low for the handheld ahead of the arrival next week of the new not-at-all-value packs. That might give sales a tiny boost, if there's anyone left who wants one.

New entry Occultic;Nine and its massively-chested cover art managed 15th place for the Vita at 4,600 units some way behind the PS4 version at No. 11 with 5,850, a bit strange for a visual novel, but showing the tilting balance in Japan. On the plus side it sold a lot more than the Xbox One X managed!

Va-11 Hall-A is out this week with a physical release. Given the amount of interest for the game, hopefully, it will spring a sales surprise. Beyond that we have a host of visual novels or oddities including Butterfly Case, Secret Night Club and Amenity's Life Then things quieten down over December before picking up in 2018, for the Vita's last hurrah! See you on the other side.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ratalaika announce MetaGal for the Vita

Continuing to support the Vita very well, Ratalaika is bringing Steam title MetaGal to the Vita and PS4. Released last year by RetroRevolution, it is popular among the speed running fraternity, with plenty of videos online showing off blistering runs and top technique.

You will take on the role of "Meta" part-cyborg all-girl, in her quest to rescue her Creator Doctor Ray from the clutches of General Creeper and his rogue army.

Metagal's sisters, were also kidnapped by Creeper and transformed into battle cyborgs. Meta must face her sisters, free them, and copy their abilities with eight stages of intense action before a final showdown.

New Iconoclasts gameplay video

Konjak's Iconoclasts continues to look like a class piece of gaming, and is rapidly nearing launch. Looking like the finest of Metroidvania platformers, there's lots of adventuring and exploring, with a range of skills to learn to tackle the monsters and boss beasts. With seven years of love going into this game expect something very special.

Tokyo Tattoo Girls and Demon Gaze II launch trailers

NIS America is a busy bunny this week with a double launch of Tokyo Tattoo Girls and Demon Gaze II to celebrate. If you played the first Demon Gaze, you'll know the drill with a very slick JRPG sequel with a few new tricks, but nothing much that gets in the way of the gameplay. Review coming soon.

Tokyo Tattoo Girls is a very different beast, with strategy and ink high on the agenda, lots of different takes on this game, can't wait to try it myself. Both titles are out this week. now in America, Friday in Europe.

Va-11 Hall-A live on US PSN, game of the year?

I know the Vita bubble is a crazy place some time, but with the fervor around Sukeban's Va-11 Hall-A you'd think this was a major label release. There are herds of Japanese and US comments about the game and a fair amount of fan art being shared. People are worshipping the soundtrack and there's a general buzz that's pretty rare for a game about beer.

Certainly, more hype than we'd usually see for a big-name release, and plenty of EU types wondering when we get it (guess PEGI or translations are holding that up).

If you're waiting to jump in or are achingly European you can see the trophies here. And here's the trailer to remind us what we're missing. The game is $14.99 which is a lot for an indie, but Vita could still be the perfect home for this title and should be snapped up to remind the world we're still kicking.

Would you vote for Va-11 Hall-A as the best game of the year? Guess I'll have to run a poll pretty soon.

Steins Gate Elite clips

5pb is ready to dive back into the classy world of Steins Gate with the new Elite, all-animated, look. Check out this super-brief snippet from a couple of clips and hope PQube is on the ball with a translation. The Japanese version lands mid-March next year.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Eight minutes of Gintama Rumble action

Largely five minutes of people shouting and hitting those cookie cutter hordes, musou style. If this type of game still excites you after years of whacking clones in many other series (like Musou Stars), then welcome to Gintama Rumble.

The rest of the time is spent showing off some special features of Bandai's limited editions, including a stone joystick penis, soundtrack and DLC! Anyone care to clarify?

Danganronpa V3 continues to dominate UK retail Vita chart

We must be getting close to Christmas as the number of LEGO games in the top 10 rises. Yomawari and Chaos;Child shuffle around with the old stagers, but there's nothing to stop Danganronpa V3 continuing its domination of the chart, even if it is probably only selling tens of copies a week!

1 Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (NIS America)
2 Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified (Activision)
Minecraft: PlayStation Edition (Mojang)
4 Assassin's Creed Chronicles (Ubisoft)
5 Chaos;Child (PQube)
6 Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham(Warner)
7 Yomawari: Midnight Shadows (NIS America)
8 Lego Ninjago: Shadow Of Ronin (Warner)
9 Lego Marvel Avengers (Warner)
10 Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization (Bandai)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Deadbolt may lock in on the Vita

Hopoo did a brilliant job bringing the slick and gorgeously-soundtracked Risk of Rain to the Vita last year, and it looks like the company's next title Deadbolt is on the way, via a PEGI rating. A stealth action hybrid, you play a very grim reaper trying to hold back a tide of the undead.

No official word yet, but will check in. The team's latest work is all in 3D, so unlikely that future titles will head to the Vita.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Mercenary Kings finally prepares to take the throne

Tribute's Mercenary Kings was announced for the Vita back in 2014, when the PS4 launched. But it has been one of those games that has taken a few twists and turns along the way. However, the wait is almost over with a Reloaded version still coming to Sony's handheld with lots more content than the original, check out the new trailer and prepare to rule!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Four Knight Princess Training trailer

So, there are four knight princesses, and they need training - does what it says on the tin really. NIS's next Vita release is out in Japan in January, and while it looks fun with a different story for each one, it will be down to how good the battle and training systems are - hard to tell from this first gameplay trailer.

As is traditional the girls sound all simpering and keen, which is very likely to put some off if the game does somehow head our way. Where's a good bad-ass princess when you need one.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Demon Gaze II gets a maintenance mode and DLC

While my review is still in progress, NIS America is churning out the news ahead of next week's release. First up is the game's maintenance mode, where you get to prod the scantily clad demons to find their hot spot. Its nothing like the soft-focus filth of the Criminal Girls games, and their "motivational" effort, which seems rather a shame as Demon Gaze's version feels like a poorly tacked-on, watered-down, extra.

You can also go on dates with the girls, although these are about as racy as a Sunday School outing, but there are rewards to be had. Read more about them on the NISA blog.

There is also a range of DLC that will be available for free or for purchase in North America on November 21 and in Europe/Oceania regions on November 24. Gems do seem to be in shorter supply in the sequel, so these may help speed up your progress. Check the details below:

Surprise! Three Noisy Cape Set!
Includes Monster Cape, Adult Cape, Chirp-Chirp Cape, $0.99/€0.99

Revolutionist Support Set A
Includes Undies Gem (x3), Furniture Gem (x3), Bronze Gem (x2), Gold Bar (x1), Free

Revolutionist Support Set B
Includes Strengthen Gem (x1), Furniture Gem (x3), Accessory Gem (x3), Gold Bar (x1) Free,

Dungeon Support Set A
Includes Katana Gem (x3), Sword Gem (x3), Shield Gem (x3), Fairy Balm (x1), Cure-All (x1), Star Tree Seed (x1), Free for first two weeks. $0.99/€0.99 after two weeks.,

Dungeon Support Set B
Includes Katana Gem (x3), Sword Gem (x3), Shield Gem (x3), Meat (x3), Wine (x1)
Free for first two weeks. $0.99/€0.99 after two weeks.,

Dungeon Support Set C
Includes Katana Gem (x3), Sword Gem (x3), Shield Gem (x3), Gunpowder (x5), Super Gunpowder (x3), Free for first two weeks. $0.99/€0.99 after two weeks.

Dungeon Support Set D
Includes Katana Gem (x3), Sword Gem (x3), Shield Gem (x3), Luxury Horn (x1), God Gold Coin (x1), Silver Bar (x1), Free for first two weeks. $0.99/€0.99 after two weeks.

Thursday Japanese trailer fest presents Ephemeral: Fantasy on Dark and the Utawarerumono remake

A couple of snippets out of Japan this week with a first peek at the Utawarerumono remake from Aquaplus the highlight. There's all-3D action and battling going on

Dramatic Create has a new VN offering to show from HuneX with Ephemeral: Fantasy on Dark, with a bunch of posh schoolboy types licking the blood of their lady class mates, the usual stuff then!

Over in the land of Our World is Ended from Red Entertainment, if you can stand the cookie-cutter excitement are some more character trailers of the Judgement Seven crew

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Vita sells 3,500 in Japan as buyers look elsewhere

The cold winter chill blows across the chart for the Vita with not a single title in the Media Create top 20 where Call of Duty WWII fights off all comers on the beaches. The handheld sold another 3,500 which seems to be the new baseline. With the new Value Packs hitting on the 22nd that might be people waiting, but with no obvious "value" in those packs, there is little reason for anyone to wait.

On the plus side, lots of games have been dated for Spring in Japan, so there will be plenty of games on the way for the brave buyers to enjoy. 

Last week's figures

Monday, November 6, 2017

Review Cursed Castilla

There are some games I love to have on any console I own; OutRun, R-Type, Ghosts and Goblins, and Raiden. In this respect, the Vita has been rather dismal. While G&G is a part of the PSP Capcom Arcade, it is surrounded by crud games and a dumb collection interface. The fine PSP game OutRun Coast to Coast never made it to the digital store, and PS One versions of the shooters aren't on EU PSN.

Coming to the rescue comes Cursed Castilla, aka Maldita Castilla EX, a gorgeous homage to Ghosts and Goblins that takes the original and runs off on its own little jumping-and-shooting adventure.

Available in physical form with a cool LE thanks to Eastasiasoft and Abylight Studios, the coding from Locomalito, Gryzor87 is one of those labours of love that keep the indie scene vibrant. There's various screen display modes, even a few pages of digital manual for the simplest of controls. 

Superstar demons, here we go

With a gateway to hell opened by a demon, Don Ramiro is one of a band of heroic knights sent by King Alphonse VI to crush the evil creatures appearing across the land of Tolomera and vanquish the demon.

With a Spanish flavour, there's the usual running, jumping and shooting lances fun, spread across forests, plains, villages and castles, all with simple but flavourful visuals and tight-as-a-nut gameplay. In true 8-bit style, there's plenty of opportunities to kill yourself, and the treasures chests might offer up a weapon you hate more than anything useful.

The castle itself has several paths through it with a few extra goodies to find and reveal. Boss battles puncture the free-flowing exploits and you'll need to figure out a winning pattern, and then cope with any last-second curveballs the game throws at you to advance.

Die (and you will, often) and you can choose to continue at the cost of pain to your soul. Sure, there's enough bonus hearts and shields to extend your life, but not for long. But, the game is still a little more friendly on the pain than Capcom's originals. All of this is driven by an excellent old-school soundtrack by Gryzor87!

With a set of hidden tear crystals to find, bonus stages, a high score chart and speedrun mode to provide a little extra incentive, this is gaming as it should be, fun, pure and throw-that-Vita annoying.
when you screw up. Everything fun gaming should be!  

Score: 8/10
More reviews
Price: £9.49 (PSN, LE available)
Size: 120MB
Giant: Locomalito, Gryzor87
Progress: Key to the castle

Storm the gates of Va-11 Hall-A this month on Vita

We've all known that Va-11 Hall-A was coming pretty soon, but we finally have it confirmed with a launch video for the Japanese and US release, a little over a year after the PC version. Hopefully, EU will be around the same time with Wolfgame and Sukeban on the case. The cyperpunk bartending game has got a lot of love behind it with a cracking soundtrack, loads of fan art being shared online and lots of indie joy around it.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Cursed Castilla video modes

Just got my review code for Abylight's Cursed Castilla and one of the first neat touches about the game is the video options.

There are four view modes allowing you to play in the super-sharp original aspect with some neat art on the border or zoom in for a larger or stretched fullscreen view which add a hint of fuzz to the pixels, but makes best use of the Vita's screen space.

Check out the options and get ready to choose your favourite scanline look for this classic homage to the timeless Ghosts and Goblins. Now, on with the review.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Japanese video Friday, novels and music

Starting off today with a new Our World is Ended character trailer. There's a bunch of these now on the Red YouTube channel and they either look so boring or repulsive that I'm pretty glad their world is ending! The visual novel is out next week in Japan.

Idolish7's new Vita project is Twelve Fantasia, published by Bandai and looking very perky in a battle of the boy-bands style. The game is out next February, and while the interactive sections look like a bunch of mini-games, it could still be fun.

As a footnote, quite a few western fans on Twitter lining up to buy a Vita just for this game.

Finally, for now, a new Broccoli VN, Killer and Strawberry, gets its intro video airing... all breathy singing but against a dark almost cyberpunk city background and an armed spy/assassin - interesting and with a July 2018 release date!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Vita sales up a fraction in Japan

Vita sales were up a whopping 170 on last week, up to 3,705 as Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary barely sticks around in the Media Create chart, selling another 4,300 copies to move to 23K physical copies.

Lurking around the foot of the chart and probably selling just a few hundred each were 40 Steam Prison Nanatsu no Bitoku and at 41 Amaekata wa Kanojo Nari.

Still, with a revamped (barely) Value Pack hitting Japan in a couple of weeks,  I'm sure things will soon be peachy! On the software front, Va-11 Hall-A from Sukeban seems to be generating a lot of interest out east, which could make it a surprise hit.

Naturally Switch is way out in front as Super Mario arrives selling 460K units.

Last week's figures

Last orders at the bar, new "Value" Pack hitting Japan

A few more ad clicks folks (polite hint) and I will be getting me one of these as my backup Vita, the blue one for sure! At just under 20,000 yen, in black or aqua blue, they come with only a 16GB memory card and no game.

That represents no more "value" than the existing models on Japanese shelves and no price cut, which might tempt a few more buyers. That's weird as you would think Sony's mature console would be cheap as chips to build now.

However, getting component partners to produce such old processors and low-res screens probably costs Sony a premium - if only that mid-life upgrade had ever appeared, ironically it could be a lot cheaper! Also keeping a low-yield factory to make around 16,000 Vita units a month is inefficient, compared to Nintendo's Switch factory churning out boxes at warp speed.
Will Japan flock to buy these? With photos of Tokyo store shelves flooded with second-hand models, I can't see much of a sales bump as there's no new colour model. Sony has also stopped making new LE models, unless I've missed something. Which all makes this pretty much a low-rent, last-ditch effort to flog some more units before that production line goes dark forever!

The new models go on sale on the 22nd November, apparently as limited quantities, which means Sony is either rebadging unsold stock or is running low on components. They're pretty much identical to Spring 2017's Starter Kits, showing how out of ideas Sony is.

Sony's press release plaintively states that "SIEJA will continue to develop appealing products and strongly promote further dissemination and expansion of the PS Vita platform for more users." which is crap!

The other question is how long Sony will keep its game card production lines running? The likes of Limited Run and others depend on these for products, presumably as a less complex operation, these can run for a few years, as long as there is enough demand.