Thursday, July 19, 2018

Waking Violet Walkthrough and Guide Part 2

Continuing on from the first installment, let's get on with the puzzle solving. The third portal room contains five puzzles and two exits.


Getting around: Collect the potions, stand on the trigger and send a clone past the open gate. Use the clone to half-step on the second trigger to keep the gate open, and move your original clone into the gate, shuffling them down. Use them to push the block above the lightning orb to get past, read the note and start pulling blocks around. Pull the original block to block the left side of the lightning bolt, so you can move further down the level. Move one clone to the bottom and pull that block over the water, sacrifice the clone to get the clock and escape.

Pull back: To open the gate, push the lower block right, push the block above you up, then move up that first block into the next chamber onto a trigger. move the second block along and then pull the remaining two into place using the minimum amount of pulls (four). In the orb room, use pull to move the block half a step left and send a clone over, it can safely get the clock and the original Violet can escape the room.

Isolation: Shoot the lower-left block to make some room and put the other three on the available corners. Pull one block out from the side to fill the last trigger and get out of the room to collect the other potions. Go back to the block room and move them using your pull power into a line in the water to collect the clock. Then pull the final block out to get to the portal. (easy isn't it, spent hours trying different tactics on this one!)

waking violet, isolation
Beware the trap: Move the nearest three blocks around so you can push the right-hand one onto the trigger to zap a block. Now move the upper left block further left, the block below down, and move the middle block to the right so you can expose the portal. Collect the clock, and immediately move the block to your left to stop the ghost from coming down.

waking violet, beware the trap

Pull over: Similar to Isolation, move the four blocks onto the triggers, but without using any pull powers. Just move the two left ones into the right room, and vice versa, with a bit of juggling. That leaves you with all the potion power to send two clones across the top row in the orb room, allowing one clone to collect the clock and you to escape.

waking violet, pull over

Back in the portal room, collect the key, position the two nearest blocks on the lower triggers and then move the upper one to open the two gates. Take the upper portal first for a welcome change of colour.


Tempo: Walk left to right across the four triggers, stepping back after hitting the last one to avoid the blast. Go through the door, pick up the potion, and go across to pull the block into the water. Push the second block into the ghost room and position it so they can't follow you. Collect the clock and return to the portal.

Emergency button: Collect the potion, push the block in the main area a half-step onto the right-hand button. Go up the screen, move the left block up, then push it down and right to get the three blocks onto the triggers. Move the original block between the ghost and the trigger above it, then hit the clock. This will send him down the screen to trigger the door so Violet can get into the portal.

Curling: Collect the potions on the outer corners. Push the outer two blocks straight up. Then move the next two to the outer holes and send them up too. The clever bit here is stand half a step onto the ice and pull them back. Stand still, so they both block the lighting across the lower edge.

The second clever bit is to go up the middle path, face left and fire another pull at the block, then skate toward it so you stop under the clock, a few goes might be needed to get the timing right. Go down to get the clock, right to stop under the portal and up to enter it.

Third time is a charm: Move past the first block and take half steps to collect the two potions below it. Then push the block up to escape the lightning. In the second room, half push the block to the left, then push again and go right quickly to avoid the fireball. Push the block up and into the ghost room for later.

In the second lighting room, half push the upper left block down to block the lighting. Then fetch the spare block from the ghost room, pull it down the right-hand entry and half-cover the right hand lightning. move the middle block down and leave enough room to go around it without getting zapped and pull the last block down. Now cover the horizontal bottom lighting route with those two. Enter the green portal to go play Pac-Man.



Bonus: Hungry like a ghost: Zoom out the map so you can see the ghosts and collect all the dots. Break the map into quarters, and lure the ghosts into one, to clear the opposite area. Two power ups will chase them away, and when you get the last one the level finishes instantly, so don't worry about a chase for the last few.

To complete Third time is a charm, do the same up to the third room. This time pull any three blocks into the ghost room, however you like, and place them as shown to block the ghosts in, so when you collect the clock, you can escape.



I'm typing move levels in now, (shame Blogger can't live blog) - check back soon for the later puzzles!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Red Art makes the Bard's Tale physical

Inxile's remastered The Bard's Tale on Vita is a chunky old game at over 1.6GB, something that should have seen the remaster stagger drunkenly to a physical release last year. However, French publisher Red Ant is taking up the mantle, and celebrating its first physical edition with a Vita and PS4 release of the classic RPG later this year.


Only 3,000 Vita copies will be produced, so preorder yours now for €25. Okay, the game is only £8 on PSN right now, but boxed copies are forever, and that's plenty of memory card space for smaller games. 

Media Create chart data and Famitsu scores

No Vita games in Japan's Media Create chart this week, dominated as it is by Switch titles with Octopath Traveler at No. 1 But that hasn't stopped the Vita from selling with sales up 650 on last week up to 4,112 this week, as it steams away from the recent 2K and 3K lows.

No idea why, given that Japanese releases are down to a trickle and pretty much all focus is on the Switch. Dark Quest 5 and Radio Hammer Station were out this week (both download only, I think) but hardly system sellers.

On the non-Vita front, Idea Factory's decision to bring Mary Skelter 2 to PS4 only bombed, with the game only selling 10K, down from 18K on the Vita launch of the original.


Over in Famitsu land, Collar x Malice: Unlimited (out next week) is the only Vita game to get rated this week, scoring a mixed bag of 9/8/9/7 for a total score of 33/40.

Waking Violet Walkthrough and Guide Part 1

Marco Mastropaolo's Waking Violet (review) is a tricky little puzzler with dark overtones, ones that seem to get darker the more you get stuck. Having finished it, I'm going through it again to create this guide, With over 40 levels, there are lots of sections where the solution is less than obvious.

Having waded my way though the game, here's a guide with hints and tips, any questions, comment or tweet me. This was done on the Vita version, but I guess they work for PS4, Switch, PC etc.

Opening level: Push the blocks into the water, use the final block to lock in the ghost, trigger the alarm clock and exit the level. The first portal room has six more puzzles, solved in order of top row first, left to right.

waking violet tips

Fire flies: Leave the block protecting you from the lightning. Go round the corner and stand on the trigger to send a fireball down the screen to remove one block, so you can escape later. Then, move the nearest lower block in the pile to the left, then push up, move the block on your right to the square in front of the trigger.

Use the right stick to get a full view of the map. Collect the alarm clock and then immediately push the nearby block left to stop the ghost getting you. Trigger the fireball when the ghost is in front of the launcher. Push the block up to exit the level.

Rekindling old flames: Arrange the three squares to your left around the lightning orb to stop it shooting.  Read the note and follow the instructions. Move the lower block to get the clock, shoot the three blocks and shove the last one past the portal to escape.

waking violet, rekindling old flames


Thinking inside the box: Collect the potion. Push the middle block two right, go around it and push the upper right block two down onto the trigger. Push the first block you moved up two, then sort out the other two to open the door. Fireball the block in the next room to open that door. Fireball the left, then the right blocks to exit the level.

High voltage: This is where the game's clever use of half-brick positioning comes into play. Move the first block to prevent the nearest orb zapping you. Push the second orb right and position it to block both orbs from hitting you (pictured). The rest is simple, align the blocks to avoid the lightning, collect the clock and retrace your steps.

waking violet, high voltage


Boolean logic: In room one, place the block on the trigger to open the door. In room two, push the block onto the nearest  trigger to keep door one open. Then move the original block into this room. Put both blocks on the two left hand triggers to open the new door.

Stand next to the blocks obstructing the passage and fireball them out the way. Shoot the blocks to your right first to get enough fireballs to clear the way to the clock, then reverse course and exit, pushing the last block out of the way.

Walking on water: Push the nearest block up to cross the water and get the potion. Push the second block right one, get the potion by the ghost, then push it right again and get the third potion. Fireball the block to open the door below you. Fireball the block at the bottom of the passage, read the note. Move the two blocks to reach the potion. Press square to trigger your water ability and collect the others, the clock and return to dry land.

Trigger the ghost door and walk off it and you should kill the ghost (trophy trigger), repeat a few times until it works. Then exit the level. Collect the key, move the four outer blocks to the four corners and the middle block to up the upper-middle block to open the next door.

waking violet guide

The second portal room has seven puzzles, solved in order of top row first, left to bottom right.


Half-way there: Collect the three potions and shoot the first two blocks. Push the third block down one, but not into the water. The next block, push half-a-step down so it blocks the lightning orb. Make a bridge with the next two blocks and collect the right-hand potion. Now go back a bit and stand to the right of the half-block that protecting you from the first lighting orb. Activate walk-on-water and surf  across to it, push it a half-block to the left, go down and left to push the remaining block down before the time expires.

waking violet, half way there

Now push it half a block down to defend against the lower lightning bolt and push it onto the trigger to open the exit gate (pictured). Collect the potions and clock, trigger walk-on-water and quickly make your way to the exit. 

How many me: Push and fireball the blocks to get over the water to the note, collect the potions. Follow the instructions to clone yourself, move the clone to open the door on the right, use the original you to collect the clock and open the door on the left, switch over and exit.

Sacrifice: Collect the four potions, shoot the block above the lower potion to get out, move a block to collect two more and use fireballs to get the two pairs of potions. You can ignore the solo potions, as long as you have 200 points. Stand above the clock, collect it and fire a clone down the map. Run up the screen to stay alive until the clone lands, then if the ghosts get you, you switch to the clone, or when you die, you'll automatically move to it.

Poker faces: This looks complicated, but is pretty simple. Collect the potions and create clones down, left, left and up to reach the trigger for the gates. Using the second clone, block off the lightning orb, then move the blocks into the water, shoot the block to open the gates again, and then go back to the first clone to collect the clock and return to exit the level.

poker faces, waking violet


That's enough: Move the upper right block to the right and grab the potion. Push the lower left block down a half and then push the middle block up and left so half of it is on the gate trigger. Collect the clock and use the other two blocks so you can go through the gate. Shoot the block from some where safe and then half-move onto the trigger to fire a green bolt to open the other gate so you can escape.

An "I" in TEAM: Push the first block down, collect the potions you can, then push the block back up and on top of the higher trigger. Push the left block in, shoot the lower block, collect the potions and push the surviving block out and up onto the lower trigger. The clever bit here is now to stand on the middle trigger to open the door and send a clone right across the map.
an I in Team, waking violet

Then step off the trigger, go back down and push the right block in, collect the potions. Push that last block out into the left room and loop back to push it up and onto the middle trigger so you can escape.

Now use some clone teamwork to activate the sets of triggers, using the block where needed to collect the clock and open the exit.

Ubiquity: Move left and collect the potions, move a half square onto the trigger and dodge back up to avoid the green bolt to open the gate. Push the block in collect the potions, create a clone on the other side and use it to push the block up on to a trigger, sit a clone on the other trigger and head up.

The final bit is weird, I put a new clone in front of the clock gate. Shot the two blocks, then stood on the lower trigger, and once the bolt had passed the upper gate, rushed up to stand on the higher trigger and then grabbed the clock as the middle gate opened with the clone.  There may be a more elegant solution, but I was out of there!

Move on to Part 2

Monday, July 16, 2018

Ratalaika and Appnormals bringing Stay to the Vita

Wow, that's quite some press release claim: "To experience a game like STAY, is to juggle life and death." Whatever, its another cool-looking game headed to the Vita.

Protagonist Quinn has found himself in quite the tricky situation and he is going to need your help if he is to survive and make it to one of STAY’s seven different endings and if that’s got your interest piqued, you can learn even more about STAY, with the details below:

Quinn is a hapless soul who has only gone and got kidnapped and left forsaken in a derelict building, on the verge of ruin. With only a PC to keep him company in his multi-ending pixel-art adventure, although players can’t control him directly, they can control his actions via communication and keep him company. Discovering who is responsible for Quinn’s kidnapping and why he was taken in the first place, is no small task.

If you walk away from Quinn and STAY, not to return for a good few hours, due to real time, hours will pass in the game as well. If left on his own for too long, in this 24 Chapter long game, Quinn can lose all trust he has in you, start acting desperate and even go insane.

The game plays for eight to 10 hours with around 40 ways for poor old Quinn to die.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Sigi A Fart for Melusina gasses the Vita in September

What a neat way to end what's been the first of the really quiet summer weeks in gaming. While checking out on yet another mystery trophy listing, some more news nuggets dropped as I got in touch with the developer for some clarification and detail.

First up, Pixel.lu, a Luxembourg-based developer has a bunch of games in the pipe. Confirmed on Vita for a 7 September release is Sigi: A Fart for Melusina, an 8-bit-style retro Ghosts and Goblinsy jaunt with blistering gameplay.



Even more exciting is Plutonium Pirates, currently being ported by @Pinkerator who is checking to see if the Vita can handle this more modern-looking title. If things work out, and with Vita there is no guarantee, this should land later in the Autumn.

Hopefully, if they sell well enough the developer might bring its other titles currently under development our way. 

Punch Line Cheermancy Edition for Vita announced

Do you want a pigeon mask with that? Asked no one ever! But you will get one with the Punch Line Cheermancy Edition. And what do you put in a visual novel collector's edition about a student who cannot handle the sight of girl's underwear? Well, Rice Digital is offering the usual soundtrack, book, collar and a pigeon mask, naturally!


The official description of the £79.99/$99.99/€99.99 out this Summer package includes:

Physical game in collector’s box
Stunning, premium 128-page artbook featuring CGs and concept artwork
Chiranosuke’s cat collar and pendant
Japanese Punch Line logo keychain
The official soundtrack
Full-size rubber pigeon head mask!

Order the EU version here, or the US version here.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: Super Destronaut DX

Wow, way to go with the love/hate thing. On first load, Super Destronaut DX welcomes us with sharp retro polygon front-end screen offering a bunch of fun-sounding game modes. But, select one, and a giant purple/brown turd of a spiral transition wipes the screen, and I feel rather sick about the whole thing, eeeeew! That's officially the worst effect I've seen on a Vita game, but moving on...

The Battlezone-style landscape you first see in any mode is rapidly filled up by your usual alien invader fleet, wibbling across the screen. A few new weapons aside, it could be 1980 all over again. The game modes vary your objectives, but essentially, you shoot wave after wave of mildly animated aliens, ramping up a multiplier.

As they fall, you can shoot grey wrecks for more points, and need to dodge any wreckage that lands as it drifts down the landscape at you. It's a big shame that's all the landscape is used for, some ground based targets or a sub-game would be great fun!

Weapons including lasers, rockets and bombs are gained when shooting the orange larger alien, usually tucked away at the top of the fleet. These are vital for passing most of the challenges, but since it is down to the luck of the draw on what aliens appear, some you just won't pass until the right fleets appear. At least each level ends with a better jazzier, transition than that first turd-athon!

Enemies fling rockets and missiles at you at various angles, so there's a few patterns to learn, but really this is a five minute joy-ride at best. As with many Ratalaika games, it throws trophies at us, and you can easily gain another Platinum before breakfast, and you don't have to complete the game to get it - boo!

With online scores, there's a little extra challenge, but the game is decidedly lacking in that DX-factor. The Barry Dunne provided voice work does add a neat touch, among a smattering of pixel effects, and there's hardcore mode for masochists. But everything else should be ramped up a few notches to make SDDX stand out more.

Note, unless it is well hidden, our version lacks multiplayer, despite what it says on the Vita PSN page.

Score: 6/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Ratalaika/Petite Games
File size 133MB
Progress: Platinum

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Zanki Zero sells well in Japan

The Vita version of new Spike Chunsoft aquatic RPG Zanki Zero sold 9,111 copies, landing at No 7 in the new Media Create chart, two-thirds-ish of the 15.5K on PS4 for a decent 24K+ overall launch. That makes it more of a shame the Vita version isn't coming west, especially as Aksys continues to pound out the Vita releases.


On the hardware front, Vita sold 3,444 just a fraction down on last week, running par with the latest 3DS and 2DS models. Out this week are free-to-download Dark Quest 5 (below, Dungeon Hunter in the west) and Radio Hammer Station.




Review: Waking Violet

Puzzle games on handhelds have been massive both in sales terms (Tetris on Game Boy) and in building cult status (Chips Challenge on Lynx) etc. Near the end of the Vita's life comes the tricksy Waking Violet to charm the socks off gamers. Thanks to Mixed Bag and developer Marco Mastropaulo, it is a fun and challenging sign off.

Update: If you're stuck, check out my guide.

Waking Violet sees our heroine, in her cute cat-hat, trapped in a dream with increasingly tricky puzzles between her and reality. Moving cube blocks around, she must open doors, get past traps and unlock gates. Nothing too radical, but delivered with a part ambient/nightmare mood that both disturbs and pushes the player on.
Waking Violet

Hub rooms allow you pick different puzzles if you get Violet stuck, but you'll need to solve each one to win the key to move further. Switches, obstacles and water are just some of the things preventing her progress, with each room, except the last few, needing you to trigger a portal to escape. Throw in the odd Pac-Man and Bomberman mini game and there's plenty of fun crammed into a quite small game

To help, Violet has some clever tricks up her sleeve, including fireballs to destroy blocks, wind to pull blocks toward her (normally, she can only push them), teleports to create alternative versions of herself and a limited time where she can walk on water. These are all powered by potions, with limited supplies, so there's usually only a single solution. If you do get stuck the pause menu will offer a hint.
waking violet
Opening doors, sliding on water, all part of the fun

Finally, if you stuff something up completely, left trigger sends Violent back in time, step-by-step until you can try another route to escaping that level.

THE HALF STEP, REMEMBER THE HALF STEP

The trick to Waking Violet, above any similar puzzlers, is that Violet can move blocks a half-step, obstructing two things at once. When you've been hitting your head against the wall playing the game as you would any other, this nugget of information suddenly becomes very relevant. Remembering it will help get past those two lighting orbs, or block ghosts from grabbing Violet!
Waking Violet

Deeper levels mix all of the elements in to multi-sequence puzzles, with ghosts roaming around once the portal is triggered to cause further chaos. Another handy feature is zoom out mode, so players can see the whole level in one screen.

Loading is rather slow on the Vita, and the game moves at a slightly chugging pace. That and the dark tones might not be to everyone's taste. However, as a puzzle challenge, there is lots to like and 40 plus levels to conquer making it a great portable play title.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £6.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Marco Mastropaulo/Mixed Bag
File size 243MB
Progress: Completed

God Wars expansion, Labyrinth of Yomi incoming

If you're enjoying Kadokawa's God Wars: Future Past, get ready for more with Labyrinth of Yomi, a major expansion heading to west, August 31 (EU) and September (US). Featuring a new story, battles and characters, at $19.99, it'd better be a lot of content, even for fans of the main game.


I'd share some more content, but NIS America is bigging-up the Switch Complete Legend version, so there's red logos over everything!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tetra's Escape slots into place on Vita

What do you get if you cross Tetris and a puzzle platformer? French studio, ABX Games has the answer with Tetra's Escape, a curious-looking title where the tetromino shapes must be used to create a safe passage to the end of each level.

Trophy listing is already up, so expect a release soon, and get ready for plenty of star and trophy collecting along the way to truly complete each level across six worlds.




Ready for launch - Super Skull Smash GO! 2 Turbo

Retro games deserve retro adverts, right? Even if that's not quite your thing, check out this new look at Super Skull Smash GO! 2 Turbo, offering crazed pixel platform action, out next week.

From Poppy Works and TACS Games, SSSGO!2T finds the Kingdom of Bones in need of a hero, but you'll have to do! The Evil King is up to his old tricks again, unleashing hordes of skeletons, zombies, ghosts and vampires.

Run, jump and super-skull-smash your way through the kingdom purifying the land as you go. Battle giant robot skeleton bosses and avoid deadly traps. Journey through the eight unique lands in the Kingdom of Bones bashing monsters and solving puzzles as you go. Earn bonus hearts and find hidden secrets galore!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Aksys still delivering new Vita games with Death Mark and Code Realize

Anime Expo has long been a friend to the Vita and Aksys was there to fire possibly the last shot in support of the Vita. Coming our way "soon" are visual novel Death Mark with a physical release, and in 2019, Code Realize: Wintertide Miracles.

Death Mark scared the pants of Japanese gamers last year with a grim modern tale set in and around Kujou Mansion. The Code Realize content is a fan disc, bolted on to the original game with extended stories and endings. Will update when I see an official press release with some more detail. In the mean time, here's some gameplay from the Death Mark demo...

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Trailer Trash Thursday, Battle Princess Madelyn, Fate Extella and Radio Hammer Station

A good mix this time out, check out the latest Kickstarter update for Casual Bit's Battle Princess Madelyn with plenty of gameplay. There's yet more Japanese Fate Extella DLC with fresh costumes for heroes Nero, Altera, Elizabeth, Nameless, Gilles, Darius, & Lancelot. Finally a fresh look at Radio Hammer Station with some great-sounding tunes, which really should be coming west, given its already in English.

Will update if any new videos pop up!




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Japanese Vita sales perk up in latest Media Create chart data

Vita sales are now officially in "quirky" territory, where big jumps can happen for no obvious reason. Why sales are up over 1,300 from last week to almost 3.5K this is anyone's guess. A period Otomate visual novel, Shinku no Flame hit the latest Media Create chart at No. 13, selling 4,641 but the likes of Zanki Zero (out tomorrow) shouldn't be getting people that excited, should it? Or, perhaps importers are starting to have a real impact on sales?

If you do want a chuckle, remember that Ys VIII sold 45K on launch for the Vita in 2016. For its Switch release, it managed less than 6.5K! Then again, Switch dominates the top of the chart with Mario Tennis Ace and Minecraft.


Last week's data - Tune in next week for more chart craziness.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Chicken Range has the Vita in its sights

With trophies popping up on Exophase, looks like this plucky title will soon hit PSN for the Vita (digital only). Described by publisher Funbox (who gave us Space Hulk a few years ago) as as a fun and quirky shoot-em-up, you need to take down the poultry using pistols, AK47, RPG’s, alien ray guns and other weaponry.

Priced at £14.99 and also coming to PS4, it had better have decent design values. The play field is twice as wide as the screen, so you must be constantly moving your aim side to side in order to track down targets. To increase the difficulty, the chickens throw eggs at the screen to obscure the player’s field of view. Once your screen is covered in egg, its game over!


During each level, ammo crates drop at varying intervals which will refresh your ammo levels and “Shino”. Carry up to 3 weapons with you; only 4 are available in the earlier levels, the remaining weapons will unlock as you progress through the levels. The game contains 15 different levels. Each level introduces different baddie chickens with varying difficulties to kill them due to enhanced protection gear. Chicken types include Riot Police Chickens, Tank Chickens, Ninja Chickens, Helicopter Chickens and many more!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Japanese PSN Vita top sellers

Since Sony pretty much has done away with the western PSN top seller updates for Vita, here's a peek at what's hot on the handheld in Japan's digital store. I wasn't aware of this list until Experience's director mentioned them in a recent tweet to celebrate Sword City (thanks to that hefty discount) going to No. 1.

Good to see the likes of Undertale and Salt & Sanctuary doing well also. Wonder if we can get any numbers on those sales?


Meet the ladies of World End Syndrome

Arc System Works' latest has all the essential elements you need for a visual novel, a train journey, the sound of the sea, some wonky piano music and line up of squawking, breathy and enthusiastic ladies bidding for your attention.

The game is out at the end of August, no word or sign of a western release, on any format, but I guess A Vita version would be a no-go.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Zanki Zero launch trailer

Zanki Zero is Spike's latest game for Japan, but not coming west on the Vita for no good reason. So look and drool over the arty empty-world trailer that precedes what unfortunately looks like a run of the mill DRPG. Given the success of Demon Gaze and other games on the Vita,

I'm sure a western Vita version would find a receptive audience, but it looks like you'll need a Switch to enjoy Zanki Zero on the go.

Super Destronaut DX to invade the Vita

The Vita has had some fun riffage on the Space Invaders classic theme with the Titan games among others. Now, here comes Ratalaika, with an update of Super Destronaut, a Steam title developed by Petite Games. The DX tag hopefully means more modes, mad colour schemes, scoreboards and other benefits, more news on that soon.


In related news, a tweet from New Blood Interactive, suggests they are keen on bringing their pixelly shooter, Super Galaxy Squadron EX Turbo, developed by Synset, to the Vita. We can never have enough retro shooter fun, so bring it on!

Time to update the lists of mystery and possibility.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Japanese Media Create chart data and Famitsu scores

The latest Media Create chart data brings back fond memories of when Minecraft was the only game keeping Vita alive in Japan (selling a million boxed units). This week it hits the Switch, selling 61K in the process at No. 3, behind New Gundam Breaker on PS4 and Mario Tennis Ace at No. 1.  No Vita games in the top 20.

With Aquatic update being the last for the Vita, looks like lots of Japanese gamers will soon be moving onto the Switch version. On the hardware front, Vita sold just 2,163, a new low. Given the flat-line ahead of the summer, it is unlikely to make any sudden moves north, which leaves only down.


Still, there's plenty of games to come. Spike Chunsoft's soggy DRPG Zanki Zero scored 34/40 in the latest Famitsu reviews with two 9s and two 8s. Visual novel Seven Days: Anata to Sugosu Nanokakan scored two 8s and  two 7s for a 30.


Roundabout arrives on Vita traffic island

After being announced back in 2014, traffic-dodging sim Roundabout is one of those games I'm sure most of us had forgotten about. It arrived on PS4 in 2015, but, from out of nowhere, the No Goblin game has landed for Vita on the US PSN as Crossy-Road-Buy for PS4 and Vita without so much as indicating.


The US price is $9.99. Oddly the UK PSN has the PS4 version on-sale for £2.49 so I guess we won't get it, if ever, until the price goes back up. From the description...

Roundabout is a '70s B-Movie game where you drive a constantly revolving limousine! Pick up passengers, find secret collectibles, take on dangerous missions, and fall in love in an open world puzzle adventure. Roundabout is the debut title from No Goblin, a studio founded by designers of games like Destroy All Humans! and Rock Band!

In Roundabout, you need to pick up passengers and drive them to their destinations. The catch: your limousine is constantly spinning in circles! To move around in Roundabout, you need to time your limousine's movement with the constant rotation in order to curve around obstacles, buildings, and more.

Set in 1977, Roundabout tells the rise to fame story of Georgio Manos, arguably the world's most famous revolving chauffeur. You'll experience the seventies in the only authentic way possible: with full motion video set in the interior of a limousine.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Rainbow Skies

Rainbow Moon was a fiendish slice of RPG fun, still eminently playable today and so crisp its hard to believe that it is five years old. But, time moves on and Rainbow Skies is finally here to take over the mantle with an all-new engine and adventure.

Available on PSN or in EastAsiaSoft's gorgeous limited edition, Straight away, the key and very obvious change is the size of the character graphics, with bags more detail, costumes and weapons that change as you upgrade them. The world also looks more hospitable and charming, with a touch of Oceanhorn about it, if somewhat flatter.

Rainbow Skies is Cross Buy/Save with PS4/PS3, if you want to enjoy the visuals in HD on a big screen, but they do look stunning on an OLED Vita.

Falling from their cloud-hopping world to the mysterious lands below, Damion and Layne are two keen young warrior types who end up thrust into an adventure that sprawls across the small islands they used to look down on.

The action is strictly classic RPG, with turn-based stages for battles, plenty of quests and side-missions. Rather than building the usual party, Rainbow Skies offers a neat addition in the form of monster raising, as you hatch eggs and then bring your former enemies to fight on your side, deal out healing or act as punishment absorbers.

Battling Through to the Rainbow

As there's so much to like about the game, I'll get the annoyances out the way first. Battles with 20 enemies are no fun, simple! And there's no way to skip to the outcome, if your party is always going to win. Even 10 well-matched opponents can see battles drag out for too long, sapping the fun from the game. Also, the lovely in-battle cut-scenes are gorgeous once or twice, but endlessly repeated, as the skip option doesn't always work - and things drag!

Rainbow Skies is also very old school about commands, there's no "repeat attack," "collect all" or "cure all" button that would speed up progress. I don't mind ditching a few low-end cures if there's no room for them, just get me to the next battle! And there's no Undo if you make a genuine movement mistake that stuffs up your tactical plan!

Later in the game you do get speed boosts and other items to speed your passage, but it really takes some grind to get there.

Not bad as such, but certainly over-complicating things, there's also perhaps one or two layers too many in the skills and buffs department. You start with the usual leveling up and weapon adornments plus equipment which is okay.

But, then there's combos, battle ranks, passive skills, battle levels, food levels, different days have different effects, and extra potions among others. I always forget at least one for a while and suddenly have a bunch of decisions to make or have struggled when a simple update would have made life a bit easier.

So, lots of little quirks that may wind you up, but nothing that breaks the game or, apart from minuscule delays (multiplied by the many thousands of times they happen) to delay progress. Fortunately, there's plenty of healers littered around the more challenging areas to keep you moving forward.

At the Happier End of the Rainbow

Something I also hated at first was the target or movement restrictions on skills, aka you can only throw a rock in a straight line, or heal those very near you. But, over time, you learn some fun tricks to take advantage of, and you can use dropped loot bags to defend your team from the enemy, and line them up for devastation.

Since you spend so much time in battle, minimising damage and turns means you'll focus on the skills that do the widest damage, but with so many to choose from, up to a dozen for each character you can feel you're missing out. The more you use each skill, the more powerful it becomes, so you'll have a few favourites. If they become ineffective against certain classes, you'll need others on standby.

Beyond fighting, there's treasures to dig up, and every place you visit is gorgeous to look at with lots of detail in the towns, fiendish secrets out in the wilds, and hundreds of things you should remember to investigate when you can get past that next mountain pass! Takes notes, as the game's book can bury stuff you want to know!


Those aside, there's so much to see and do that you never get bored with Rainbow Skies, meeting some very strange characters, and always finding some new dungeon, house or bit of creepy wood to explore that opens up a fresh secret or quest. Taking to the seas to explore other islands is another example as you progress, trying to get back home while helping out the locals.

Each main quest comes with a bunch of side quests, and most are genuinely fun to explore and take time to uncover the wider world. The game's sense of humour is spot on, from rude radishes to some sardonic NPCs, so there's always something to chuckle about.  Only briefly do you seem to get railroaded down one particular path, but the world soon opens up again with lots more to see, do and kill.

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £21.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher SideQuest/EastAsiaSoft
File size 2.8GB
Progress: 55 hours in

Ice Cream Surfer spending summer on the Vita

After being announced by Hidden Trap last November, things went very quiet for this port of a mobile/Wii U game. But, Ice Cream Surfer is finally coming to the Vita and PS4 as Cross buy, with a new trailer to celebrate this food-based shooter.

Publisher Hidden Trap helped bring Bit Dungeon Plus over to Vita earlier in the year, best to support these games if we want further pixel fun from them!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Rainbow Skies developer video clip

Should have my review up this week, but in the mean time, check out this developer chat about the epic 100-hour-plus RPG that's launching across PS4/PS3 and Vita with Cross Save this week.

The SideQuest developed title is everything an RPG fan could hope for with plenty of ways to tweak characters' skills, a fun and wide world to explore with plenty of dungeons and killer vegetables, among other threats.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Xseed puzzles over London Detective Mysteria release

Visual novel London Detective Mysteria aka (Eikoku Tantei Mysteria: The Crown), is coming to Vita via a digital release this Autumn thanks to Xseed. I rather liked the Japanese trailers a few years back, so its good to see this one creeping out of the mist.

See it on show at Anime Expo. Diving into the curiosities that lie hidden in London’s darkest corners, you play as heiress of House Whiteley, interacting with personalities inspired by Victorian characters like Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper.

Players must choose their words carefully as they interact with other characters, as decisions made throughout the story will not only affect special rewards but will also shape whether Lady Whiteley finds love or something more sinister in the shadows of 19th century London.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Waking Violet officially announced for Vita by Mixed Bag

Having teased with a first image back in April, and the trophy listing somewhat spoiling the surprise, Waking Violet by Marco Mastropaolo is officially announced today, by publisher Mixed Bag as their farewell publishing release to the format.

Given I'll never forget the magic of Forma.8, and the fun of Futuridium, they'll always have a special place in my heart, and I'll pick up their future titles on any formats I own. Waking Violet is a native-res, 60fps game that sees the teenage heroine of the game trapped in a dream.

Using a classic 2D top-down approach she has to solve puzzles using a range of spells and the ability to turn back time, if she ever wants to wake up. Check out the launch trailer, with the game coming very soon.

Side Kicks developer eXtend teases new game

Extend, makers of the "why the hell isn't this coming west?" award-winning adventure Side Kicks, have a new game in the pipe.

No idea if its for Vita or not, but their previous projects were, and the company has put a hell of lot of post launch effort into Side Kicks suggesting that it still has a lot of faith in Sony's little handheld.

Here's hoping, and that someone notices how different Side Kicks looks from the usual VN fodder and will take a punt on a western version. Also, if they can write the teaser in English, how about the whole game to make an import easier?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Latest Media Create chart and Famitsu scores

God Wars: The Complete Legend was the only Vita release in Japan last week and made a modest launch across its multi-format release, managing 23,000 across digital and physical. In the Media Create chart, it managed 2,967 on Switch at No. 15, 2,649 on PS4 and failed to chart on Vita, but I'd guess around 1,200-1,500.

With combined retail sales of around 7,000, digital is more than 66% of typical sales now, which is impressive. Retails sales were poor compared to the previous release, Future Past, where it managed 5K each on PS4 and Vita. A western release for The Complete Legend for Switch is confirmed, but nothing for the Vita.  Still, we can just go play God Wars: Future Past.



Hardware sales fall, with Vita dropping back down to just above the 3K mark after a perky boost last time out. That takes it to over 100,000 for the year as we near the halfway point.



Check out last week's figures. Over in Famitsu land, a couple more PS Vita visual novels get well-rated in a quiet week for new titles.

Kurenai no Homura Sanada Ninpou Chou (Otomate) – 8/8/8/8
Dynamic Chord (Honeybee Black) – 8/8/8/7

Kemco's Antiquia Lost finds its way to Vita today

Its been a quiet few weeks on PSN as everyone takes a breath after May's spectacular releases. But the ball starts rolling again today with the arrival of Antiquia Lost from Kemco. A classic-style RPG, its Cross Buy with the PS4 version, it costs 14.99 euros, with PS Plus users getting a 20% discount for first two weeks! (£11.99, £9.59 discounted)

I can't see the game on the Vita store yet, but the web store has it here, and there's already a bunch of IAPs that make the game easier, at a modest cost.

The story of Antiquia Lost revolves around Bine, a young man who lives in a small rural village. He spends his days peacefully, doing jobs and dealing with demons for the villagers. One day, he is asked by Lunaria, a girl who lives near the village, to go with her to the royal capital, and so their adventure beings, full of the usual allies, skills, magic and skulduggery-dealing enemies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Would Fortnite work on the Vita?

After the Switch release, there's been a decent number of tweets asking Epic for a Vita version. I think they're based on extreme optimism, but really - I don't know, I'm not a coder or hardware guru, I'm asking for a friend. To avoid this being a really short post. Let's have a quick think about it.

Map Size

The key issue is the map size, which is pretty large in Fortnite. Someone worked it out at .7275 square miles. Obviously, the rush job that was Call of Duty kept its Vita maps tiny, as the developers had no time to optimise the game. Killzone Merc has some pretty large maps, but nothing that I can think of that comes close to the scale of Fortnite. And, while Justice for All (mission 1) showed a city flythrough, all the action takes place indoors in more confined spaces.

Could the Vita stream that amount of spatial and visual data, while keeping track of 100 players (briefly)? Of course, if you have a PS4, Remote Play is an option, but would the dual-layer of network code and transmission make players noncompetitive?

Hardware

When it comes to hardware, the Switch version has 4GB of RAM to play in, that's shared between CPU and GPU. The Vita has 512MB of RAM and 128MB of VRAM, which is tiny in comparison. making me think its not really a goer, especially when the Switch's raw speed is over twice times that of the Vita's 444Mhz, effectively allowing it to a lot more processing in a lot less time, (ARM Cortex A9 vs three ARM Cortex A57s cores running at 1GHz, with Maxwell graphics, pushing a theoretical 25.6GB/s throughput).

I'd suggest that's really where the idea falls down, but the Vita can do amazing things, so who knows!


Size and Detail

On the plus side, the game is only a 2GB download on the Switch, so it could easily fit on the Vita and PSN. Drop down the texture maps and reduce the polygon count (if that's beneficial) and it could be a little smaller, given Fortnite is quite low-poly anyway.

Another benefit here is that Fortnite plays using dynamic resolution, but the Switch version already sacrifices a lot of visual detail to get it running at 30fps, so I think the Vita version would look a lot worse. Interestingly the linked article says Fortnite on Switch can drop to 640 x 360, which is lower than the Vita's 960 by 544, but its all the other processing that would eat up meagre resources.

Playability

Assuming that Epic's coding gurus spent a lot of time trying to cram the game onto the Vita, would the results be competitive? Even if they managed a steady frame rate, playing it on the big screen on Switch is great fun. But, in undocked mode, things get a bit tougher with very small targets, very far away. Then again, the Switch is pretty horrible to play FPSes in, it just feels wrong, Vita should feel better.

Still, down the res for the Vita even further and you'd be shooting at air most of the time, which isn't fun. Presumably the game has aim assist for mobile device players, but how much more vague would Vita shots be compared to other players on different platforms?

If someone wants to give it a go, and capture all the optimisation tips from Vita coders past and present, I'm happy to give the results a try? Over to Epic! Hopefully, someone there can try to cram it in, even as exercise in curiosity, and who knows after that.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Steins Gate Elite opening movie tells an epic tale

Steins Gate is still one of the most emotional times I've spent with a game, and I'm wading through Steins Gate Zero at the moment. The new Elite version, a fully animated tale with some new routes through the original SG story, might not get a Vita western release, but it hits Japan in September.

Check out the new opening movie from 5pb and start asking western pubs (Spike Chunsoft) to get on with a Vita version! The limited editions come with an A4 80 page art book and posters and more goodies.

Sony's portable PlayStation options as PS5 and Android move on

Sony across its various divisions has made a lot of changes recently, from publishing on Nintendo Switch to changing tack on Android Home development, capped off by soft confirmation of a 2020 launch and inevitable leaks about the power of PlayStation 5 (aka PS4ProProPro).

With my little analytic head on, this creates a few interesting avenues for PlayStation (or wider Sony) if it is to reinvigorate its portable gaming plans.

The most obvious is that Sony, by launching a new Android Home app, could feature Remote Play as a key function, rather than just an extra app. Sure, Sony has tiny smartphone sales but they are still higher than Vita. But, if it rolls out the app across the wider Android universe, rather than just supporting recent Xperia devices, it could gain some traction.

Add in a specific, but flexible, Vita-style PS4-controller dock (rather than this kludge) and things suddenly get interesting. How about an official Vita emulator for Android, locked into PSN to go with it? Given Sony's piracy panic, that's perhaps a step too far.


Against this is Sony's anally-retentive control of the ecosystem and hatred of other devices (see the whole Fortnite on Switch thing!)  Talking of Switch, it would seem likely that the Unties project with Tiny Metal on Switch is dead, one release in six months and no great reviews or hype. Still, Unties continues to publish on PS4, so it could revisit the Switch, if the right Sony game turns up. Will that nudge more portable gamers to Switch, it can't hurt - which is why Sony probably won't do it!

A little sister for PlayStation 5?

Finally, there's the road to PS5. The lack of a Vita 2 created a massive hole in Sony's release schedule, not filled by the PS4 Pro or PSVR. Now the company is on the move to PS5 with its AMD next-gen graphics architecture Navi and Zen CPU, specifically for the Japanese giant’s upcoming console, there are some interesting developments.

AMD's first road map for Navi highlighted its scalability as a key feature. The 7-nano meter technology would be ideal for mobile, so there's a slim to fair chance that AMD could produce a comparable streaming-level architecture or reduced power/core version for HD portable gaming alongside the full-fat console version.

Developers could code once, deploy to both, with the smaller format automatically culling visual features for portable performance that few would notice. Failing that a kick-ass WiFi or 5G solution would make streaming direct off the console trivial, now that Remote Play is a fairly mature (if you have the right broadband) technology.


Likely none or maybe one of these ideas could come to fruition. Nothing sounds like a PS Vita 2, but a PlayStation 5 Remote Play device sounds a reasonably compromise considering the company's recent softer tone to on-the-go gaming.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why developers should partner for a Vita version of their game

The Vita is approaching the end of its useful life, but its millions of owners aren't going anywhere. The truth is the Vita isn't for everyone. But for any developer where building a brand, looking to gain thousands of extra sales, or learning to interact with a community is important, the Vita is a great opportunity or training ground.

It comes with a welcoming community, helpful porters/coders offering plenty of advice, and savvy publishers and marketers who can get your game seen.

UPDATED 2nd July

Community and Visibility

The community is the key part, whatever the total Vita sales, there's still a core ownership buying every decent game in sight, double dipping on physical releases, and doing a bunch of free PR for any release, no matter how small.

Sales on PSN may vary from just a few thousand to tens of thousands, most developers I've talked to characterise their sales as "on target" to "exceeding expectations." But the key benefit is visibility, there are a couple of new Vita releases a week, compared to the stacks of games tipping up on Steam, iOS and even on PS4. And while the Switch might be the go-to device, competing with dozens of hot releases a week requires a huge amount of effort to gain any visibility.

A few stats and comments from your fellow developer/publishers' mouths.


Read Fabrice Breton's post-mortem on Demetrios to see how the Vita community punches above its weight....
Sales were pretty good on the portable console. Despite being announced as "dead" even before 2016, it still has a very strong community, and many indie and japanese game are still released. With a good reason – they still sell well enough to warrant ports! Even more important than sales is the players reception, and Demetrios was very well received by the Vita community! They absolutely loved it. I think the entire Vita community on Twitter knows about it. They're some of my biggest supporters now, and I thank them for it!
And the love continues to this day, as Cosmic Star Heroine proves (excluding digital sales),


Of course, there are limitations, the Vita doesn't support the latest versions of Unity, GameMaker and other coding tools. However, there are plenty of ways to get a game on Vita, and experienced coders have lots of tips in getting performance and frame rates up.

Even games where the coder has given up hope, a solution has often been found. And, porting to Vita can help performance on other devices.

I'll update this with further data, comments and resources from and for developers, but for now it acts as a simple place to point out to coders if they are thinking of a Vita title.

Vita sales bounce on 28 Days of Play bundle in Japan

Hot on the heels of the news of a Vita western release this winter, Fate Extella Link storms to the top of the Japanese Media Create chart on PS4 and Vita. The PS4 version sold 78.6K to the Vita's 38.1K, so more than double, showing the widening gap in format sales, but that's decent numbers for a Vita game in the current climate.

We'll get another comparison next week as God Wars comes out on both formats (and Switch) tomorrow in Japan.


That and the 28 Days of Play new Vita bundle helped lift hardware sales to just under 4,000 for the week. I'm guessing some of that is importers struggling to find Vita hardware in the west, quite a few new western Vita owners are showing off their new toys! 

Fate Extella Link e3 video

Xseed has a new trailer out with a winter western release scheduled for Fate Extella Link. Sign up here for the usual Musou mayhem  with added cleavage and some impressive looking backdrops. Coming digitally to Vita, it adds 10 newly added playable characters, updated visuals, added story and more. The game is playable on the e3 show floor if you're around.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Catherine Full Body trailer still coy on formats

Atlus USA has a new Catherine Full Body trailer up at E3, with a 2019 date, while completely forgetting to mention which formats might be appearing where. That doesn't really fill me with confidence. Even so, we should be able to import and play the Japanese version, I hope! The game isn't on the company's show floor list, so don't expect to hear anything more until TGS.

Muv Luv loves up the UK retail Vita chart

Don't do this very often, but the GFK UK retail sales ChartTrack has a couple of new entries in the form of the Muv Luv games from PQube. Shows the value of a well-thought out product, and proves that Vita owners are still buying games, even as Sony pretends it doesn't exist.

Interestingly, Europe-wide digital sales data (merging PSN, Steam and Xbox Live) is now available, but there's no obvious source to get a breakdown of sales!



New   1              Muv-Luv         PQube   
6         2              Metal Gear Solid HD Collection     Konami
New   3              Muv-Luv Alternative         PQube   
2         4              Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified     Nihilistic
Re       5              Grand Kingdom     NIS America
5         6              Assassin's Creed III Liberation     Ubisoft
7         7              Toukiden 2     Koei
4         8              Need For Speed Most Wanted     Criterion
Re       9              Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms     Idea Factory
Re       10            Legend Of Heroes Trails Of Cold Steel II     Nihon Falcom