Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kenka Bancho Otome 2nd Rumble trailer

Bobble-headed brawling is the latest feature among the character introductions in Spike Chunsoft's Kenka Bancho Otome 2nd Rumble, perhaps one of the last major published titles hitting the Vita in Japan. If you're a fan, the official site has Twitter banners and icons and more to play with, following the theme of the original Girl Beats Boys tale from the popular manga.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Trailer for Kemco's RPG de jour, Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God

Cooking games are popular, RPGs are popular, you can almost see the jackpot signs lighting up behind the eyes of Kemco's big boss as he cranks up the production line another notch. That might be the cynical approach, but hey, this trailer for Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God, actually looks like it has some soul to it.

Update: Despite it mentioning Vita on the Video title, it might not be, so don't get even slightly excited just yet!

Running the bar in an RPG world you need to keep the kitchen stocked and the customers happy, which makes for a neat mix. As you rake in the profits, you can improve the hostelry to attract bigger and better-paying customers. If we ignore the cookie-cutter characters, I think this could be rather fun, in a grindy kind of way.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sony ditching E3 in 2019, new plans afoot?

While Sony yells about the mega sales of the PS4, now past 86 million units in five years, it still had the corporate sneakiness to bury the fact it won't be at E3 next year. Rather than just be honest about this news, it was buried in the report, causing the usual fuss. Sony could have made the statement clear and in bold, and there would be about 10% of the drama being shown.

But why the low-key effort and why won't it be there? Given that PlayStation 5 is lurking in a lab somewhere, it sounds to me like Sony had a long-standing plan for PlayStation 5 that has since been derailed by the hybrid success of the Switch and Microsoft’s new focus on cloud “any-device” gaming.

The portable factor? 

Likely, I suspect Sony is revising its next-gen plan to include mobile, any-device or play-anywhere gaming as part of the package, instead of the PS4/Vita Remote Play combo that didn’t take off when Sony cancelled its portable. It needs to be part of launch because if you make it an extra like PSVR, then only a tiny fraction of the users will adopt it.

Will this be a touchscreen controller as in the one Sony patented recently with a larger screen? Will it require a complete re-engineering of PlayStation Network to link multiple devices and services? Either way it sounds like Sony has had to delay PS5, which is the only reason it wouldn't want to be toe-to-toe with Microsoft at the world's biggest game show next year.

Microsoft can use the time to flog Xbox One X2 and Nintendo a more portable Switch next year. Sony will be in no hurry to launch PS5 having trounced Xbox this gen, and since they canned Vita 2, all their resources can be focused on the one product, no matter how many parts there are to it.

Of course, there are plenty of other events Sony can show a PS5 at, in Japan, Europe, or it can host its own global press event at a time exactly of its choosing. That might be next year, more likely 2020, but any later and it risks losing fans to other devices.

Me, I got my PS4 last week and have a five-year catch up to get on with, so I don't really care.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

13 Sentinels unlucky for Vita owners in Japan

Atlus has announced Aegis Rim: 13 Sentinels won't come out for the Vita in Japan. The game has had its 2018 release date officially shuffled to "TBA", extending the endless delays on this game, and formats changed to PS4 only. As translated from the Japanese announcement below.

[Before change]
Scheduled release date: 2018
Compatible models: PlayStation ® 4, PlayStation ® Vita

[After change]
Expected release date: to be determined
Compatible models: PlayStation ® 4

Even if it had released on Vita in Japan, the chances of Atlus bringing the handheld version west were probably pretty remote given the latest shift in release date.

Good job I just picked up a PS4 I guess, but this news can't really come as a surprise as Vita sales drift ever lower and developers look to squeeze modern gaming concepts and tech into a very old platform.

Basically, that's it for major developers working on the Vita in Japan, so indies, ports and retro releases are the future, but probably not for long. No worry though, most of us have years worth of backlogs, and most Vita games still look good enough that I'll be happy going through my library from launch day Uncharted to more recent releases all over again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Vita sales slide into the night in Japan

Media Create's latest figures show the Vita's sales matching trend with last year but reduced to just under 2,000 sales for the last couple of weeks. The million yen (£6,785) question is will it pick up at all over the seasonal selling period, or is it doomed to float quietly to the bottom. Consider the Switch sold over 54K this week while the PS4 managed 16K, slow clap for Sony's product and marketing teams.

No games in the Media Create chart and it looks there might never be again at this rate. Atelier of the New Earth Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists  from Gust is out next real hope, out on 13 December.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Microsoft's cloud gaming effort suggests a Vita-ish future

Hmm, this is twice I've written about Microsoft recently. First for their icky concepts for smartphone controllers. Now, over the weekend, the company held a big show that was mostly about Game Pass, its cloud streaming game service that's pretty-much device agnostic. As if MS is fast moving away from the "Most Powerful Console in the World" as those endless adverts insist.

Update: Kotaku seems to be agreeing with me!

Like many other powerful things, X1 sales aren't amazing. Will there be an Xbox Two? Of course, it won't go the way of selling Windows upgrades, Nokia phones, Windows Mobile, Zune music players etc. But it might not be the expensive hyper-box fans would hope for. Will there be AAA console-exclusives? yes, but the time and cost of these projects is unsustainable expect for a few keystone projects.

Instead, Game Pass is now globally available on iOS and Android, with more devices to come. But, console games, on a phone? Even with a crappy controller bolted on to it? You can see where this is going, right? More games on Game Pass and PS Now, more platforms? All you need is a good device to play them on. So why not an Xbox-branded game device that does the job perfectly?

The Cloud is Where its At

Where MS has found success in recent years to take up the slack from all the failed hardware is in cloud and services. That's where its gaming future seems to lie. Game Pass at $10 a month for a bunch of games you can play on any device sounds pretty cool, like PlayStation Now, but with a wider spread. And with so many services, why not one box that plays them all?

Gamesindustry.biz even suggests that the service could arrive on Switch or PS5, which would earn major subscription bucks and put a host of games on new platforms. That's assuming the platform holders agree, and Sony rarely plays nicely with others, until the fans pick up their pitchforks.

With PS Now worth just under $150 million a quarter, and many companies preferring to tout their service income rather than hardware sales (even Apple is going this way), your gaming future could be cast in this Netflix-like light. And services in isolation are bad, just ask Microsoft!

But most controller-based games need a few buttons and nothing has come close to the Vita. Sales of those mobile controllers are tiny. So, if all the big names in gaming want an anywhere, any-platform, any-service, gaming-device, surely a 5G Android Vita spiritual successor, would work best, casting to HD TVs and encouraging multiplayer.

Just a thought!

Battle Princess Madelyn launch trailer, 2019 for Vita

Handpicked Games and CBit's Battle Princess Madelyn retro platformer is hitting the major formats this year, a little later than planned. but it is still coming for the Vita and Wii U, just a little later - into 2019. Still can't wait to get my hands on it, but this might be one I pick up on the Switch for time-sensitivity and the higher res detail.

Will still get on Vita for the trophies, but likely not that many as a I usually get stuck a few levels into these types of Ghosts n Goblins games, and hammer away at the that level from time to time, until I get bored or somehow make it through.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The circle is now complete, PS Vita meet PS4

I'm not the earliest of adopters of regular consoles. I only got an XBox 360 when the Jasper non-RROD model came out. My PS3 was one of the cheap skinny models with dust-trap styling, and now I have a PlayStation 4 slim model to stretch my gaming life out a few more years. 

Mainly it'll take over as the release list for Vita games dries up. Thanks to PS+ and Cross Play, I already have a long list of titles to enjoy. I can enjoy all the effects as they were designed, and not have to squint at tiny text on the Vita screens. But I guess most of you know this already with your own PS4 experiences. 

And, of course, I can go PS4-ing on the go. Early signs of strong Remote Play are good, with a blast of Resogun working fine around the home. Based on others' experience, pretty sure I know what to do if problems do start. And, I look to forward to trying long-distance play.  

In case you were worried, this won't mean the end of PS Vita Roundup, which easily has a good year of official life left in it before we hit the crazy world of hyper-indie and legacy backlogs. And my PS3 is far from done, I have quite a few games still to finish and a modest backlog on that too. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

NIS America waves bye to the Vita with trio of physical releases

NIS America will grace its homeland at least, no word of an EU release, with a trio of Vita physical releases as a final farewell to Sony's handeheld. Penny Punching Princess (review), The Lost Child (trailer) and The Longest 5 Minutes (review) will neatly slot into any collector's shelves as a nice bookend from one the Vita and PSP's staunchest supporters.

Landing on March 19, that's perhaps a key date as physical release production wraps up and we're left with the Sony-can't-be-arsed-to-update-it PSN store and a dwindling supply of Vita hardware.

Still, thanks to NIS America for their support, from the fun of the Criminal Girls and, of course, bringing us the mighty Danganronpa games. Plus the deeper PSP titles like Aedis Eclipse and Disgaea. Which I'm sure will all be getting HD updates for the Switch.

Note: these are selling out fast on the NIS America store.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Retro-platformer Ghoulboy swings at the Vita

He's got a (fake) viking helmet and a big sword, among a range of other weapons. Wrap Ghoulboy in an unashamedly retro skin, with excellent chiptune music and old-screen effects, and we have a classic platform romp headed to the Vita packed with puzzles and challenges. Dolores Entertainment is bringing the Serkan Bakar-coded original to consoles soon.

The Steam version launched last year and has mostly positive reviews. Ghoulboy is combines action-RPG with hack 'n' slash fun. It brings back the look and feel of the very best classic retro platformers from the 90's, introducing refreshed and engaging gameplay mechanics. Digital and physical releases are promised.

Monday, November 5, 2018

New Konosuba RPG shows Vita party isn't quite over in Japan

It has been a while, but a new Vita game has actually been announced (ignoring the endless stream of romance VNs). The drought is broken thanks to Entergram with a new KonoSuba RPG: God's Blessing announced for Japan. The short announce trailer shows off a dash of classic JRPG action, and a racing tune, hopefully lots more to come.

Update; The game has a release date for the end of March 2019, and a host of new fan-service in the bonus "goddess cultivation game" For more information if you'd care to hit auto-translate on the link, or just stare at the pretty pictures.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Review: Fast Striker

Hot(ish) from the Dreamcast and NEO-GEO comes a fun and pacy shooter to warm up your arcade reflexes this winter. Fast Striker from NG:DEV.TEAM joins the Vita's rich list of arcade shmups including TxK, Velocity Ultra, Neon Chrome, DariusBurst and others with a rip-roaring 60fps blast spread over six stages, with four different ship/game modes.

At its default view, Fast Striker takes up a tiny window for crisp and clear original pixels in the middle of the Vita's screen. You can scale the view up to make things bigger but things appear less clean as you near full screen view, still playable though. In the background, raving dance anthems blast out as you dodge massive ships and endless volleys of fire.

Your Fast Striker ship is nimble enough to weave in and out of the action, but when you start firing your vessel slows down, so careful use of the fire button is required. When enemies die, they drop tokens, which will gravitate toward your ship if you stop firing, creating some fun risk/reward mechanics. Shields (circle) help keep your craft out of a tight spot, or you can use them to crash through a fleet of enemy ships. Extra lives and a smattering of continues can help you build up the knowledge and skills to make it deeper into the game.

Below the battle, tiled industrial or sci-fi city scenes help set a dark tone for the game, and help make the bold-coloured incoming fire more obvious. One quirk is lots of different-looking tokens appear, they can look like enemy fire at first, some consistency or border colour would be helpful here, but you soon learn.

The real focus of the game is to get the highest score possible through chains, bonuses, accuracy and so on. A shame the high scores aren't online to give you something to compare your efforts to! The different modes, Novice, Original, Maniac and Omake (new for the PlayStation version) have different scoring systems and up the volume of firepower, as best demonstrated by the game's official screenshot page.

Also worth remembering is that you shoot behind you with the square button to take out any lurkers. Among all the chaos keeping a good line through the bullets is key to your long term survival, most times it feels more like luck than design, but somehow you can squeeze through many impossibly tight situations.

Its annoying there's nothing in the digital manual about what all the extras are. What's a "tech bonus" and who is the blue robot you shoot for extra tokens? Some context would be really helpful, with perhaps a few hints about what the game's secrets are. Still, if you like repetitive shooting, Fast Striker provides a quick blast of action, but perhaps lacks the sophistication of recent games, and it still isn't Ikaruga!

Score: 7/10
More Reviews 
Price: £5.79 (PSN, Cross Buy)
Developer/publisher: NG:DEV.TEAM/EastAsiaSoft
File size 99MB
Progress: Many bullets dodged

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Microsoft plans a (badly) portable Xbox gaming experience

Microsoft could release a brilliant remote play device like the Vita, to augment the mighty Xbox One X machine and generate more interest to drive sales. But, no, instead Microsoft Research is planning something like these shitbricks so people can play on their Xbox titles via xCloud (or whatever they end up calling it) on their phones.

While only dummies, they look horrendous and, even refined, you can bet the final product will be premium priced. Microsoft would struggle to sell anything that looks like a hippos arse and the whole solution looks like the usual bad idea.

As the Vita shuffles quietly off to the technology retirement home, it proves that only Sony really got the portable gamer design right. Switch feels clumsy and cheap. Despite the muscle behind those iPhone games, there's no obvious mobile controller choice that's really comfortable, and here we have yet more crude abuse from Microsoft to solve what should be a simple problem.

The real solution, of course, is for someone to build something like the Vita with brutal WiFi, good battery and 4G/5G for remote gaming. But make it platform agnostic so PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo games could be played anywhere.

LCD screen prices are a fraction of what they once were, and system on chips reduce the unit price further. While this dream machine might not be an OLED nuclear reactor of a system, even a modest device could bring most of the world's games under one portable screen.

Monday, October 29, 2018

More lingerie fun in the latest Japanese Catherine trailer

A lady showing thigh? Holy cow, stop the press. Not sure why Atlus Japan is flinging this tepid smut in the guise of an adult drama theatre at Japanese gamers to pimp Catherine Fully Body. Surely, Catherine will sell on its merits as a class game, not by a few more touchy-feely cut scenes. Oh, hang on...

UPDATED: And another clip... the many loves of many K/C/Qatherines

Anyway, more to come, except in the west where Atlus is too busy flogging the digital delights of the new Persona Dancing games. Odd that the company has a placeholder for the miles-away 13 Sentinels, but nothing for Catherine and the placeholder site still refuses to mention formats.

PlayStation Classic lineup revealed, most playable now on Vita

Sony has published a final list of the 20 games (and only these, no expansion or store to download more) that will populate the £90 PlayStation Classic Mini Console, launching early December. We have something for everyone in the list, bold titles you can play on Vita/PS3 right now (EU store anyway), most for just a few £/$:

Rayman, Grand Theft Auto, Toshinden, Ridge Racer 4, Mr Driller, Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal, Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey, Syphon Filter, Tekken 3, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Wild Arms, Cool Boarders 2, Final Fantasy VII. Jumping Flash, Destruction Derby, Revelations Persona (as PSP title Shin Megami Tensei), Resident Evil: Director's Cut, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Intelligent Qube.

The console clearly isn't aimed at modern PS gamers, instead its for those who gave up gaming a long time ago, or collectors. Revelations Persona is perhaps the most interesting addition, as the starting point of the PSP and Vita's most talked-about series before the PSP revamp.

Anyone interested? I still think these games (except for Rayman and Mr Driller) on a HD screen will look pretty scary, while on a portable, the condensed viewing area provides a better viewing experience. And as Sony is promoting in the dumbest way possible "the new console is approximately 45% smaller than the original." - like anyone cares?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Battle Princess Madelyn seeks autumn launch

Throwing in a little animated intro and some fresh gameplay, check out Casual Bit's latest trailer for Battle Princess Madelyn. It mentions an autumn release, and there isn't that much of autumn to go, so here's hoping for more great Ghosts n Goblins style platforming fun soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut chopping up the Vita

Cubist horror fans are in for a treat with Slayaway Camp, a debut from Blue Wizard Digital, arriving early November, a couple of years on from its Steam original release. A killer isometric puzzle game, players control Skullface, a cute-yet-psychotic slasher. He rampages around each level, squashing, flaying, and decapitating hapless victims.

The recent trophy listing helped prepare us for this fresh horror, but as you can tell by the trailer, Slayaway Camp is a darkly comic homage to 80s horror movies. Vita owners get a special console-only Butcher’s Cut edition, the biggest and bloodiest version. The game has a 9/10 rating on Steam, and comes hot on the heels of pixel-chiller Halloween Forever. Features include:

  • Base game and the following additional content: Deluxe Edition, My Gory Valentine, HellCamp, Monthly Murderers Series 1 & 2, Supernatural Forces, and Santa’s Slay 
  • 300+ Fiendish puzzle levels to massacre your way through
  • 60+ Killers to cause comical carnage with, including deranged wackos such as Mutant Hillbilly, Kevin, and the killer inter-dimensional clown: THAT
  • 90+ Gorepacks with delightfully OTT kill scenes to shock and entertain
  • Feeling squeamish? Choose PG Mode and play without blood or gore
  • Starring Mark Meer (Cdr. Shepard from Mass Effect) as Skullface and Derek Mears (Jason from Friday the 13th) as Jessica
  • Genuine hair-metal soundtrack by legendary Canadian group GNÜ TRUNTION
  • Created by Jason Kapalka (Peggle, Bejewelled), Nate Schmold & Jessi Ross (Cosmochoria) and Ido Yehieli (Cardinal Quest)
  • Slayaway Camp was selected as an overall winner at the annual Google Play Indie Games Festival

Vita still bobbling along in Japan

As we approach the holiday season in Japan, Vita sales continue to bumble along between 2,250 and 2,500. I doubt there will be anything like the spikes of previous years in December, as Japan gulps down Switch units at 40,000 a week, but any little boost will be welcome.

Again, no Vita games in the Media Create top 20 chart. A couple of weeks back, historical visual novel Sengoku Hime 7, a series that's been running since the PSP days, managed to sneak into the top 30, but there aren't any serious Vita releases until the next Atelier just before Christmas.

kFunction lighting up Vita OLEDs with Scintillatron 4096

Just when you thought Vita release news had dried up forever, along comes Dorset-based developer kFunction with its particle-tastic shooter Scintillatron 4096. An intense combo challenge with online leaderboards and trophies to tempt you to master the fast-paced arcade shoot ‘em up action!

These shots are from the 4K PS4 Pro version, but hopefully the Vita edition will bring some of this magic to OLED screens in December.

In Scintillatron 4096, players take on hundreds of enemies in frantic showdowns whilst also making tactical choices about the colour-based combo system. Combinable power ups can either help or hinder game play and topping the global rankings is the aim of the game.

Features include:

  • Combos - This is what it’s all about! High scores need combos. Enemies are one of two colours. Take them out in sequence and aim for a perfect wave. Learn what to attack first, how to ‘herd’ the enemies and how to use the colour-flip-power-up to maximise your combo score.
  • Hi-Score and world rankings - Just like it used to be, your hi score is everything. Scintillatron 4096 has local and worldwide rankings for score, deepest wave and highest combo. The scores are separately tracked for one and two player games.
  • Single player -  Alternatively, play on your own with dedicated high score tables, rankings and achievements.
  • Challenge - We mean it when we say the game is easy to play but difficult to master. Progress a little, build some combos and you’ll find packed, intense levels with audio and visuals to match.

If you can't wait or want to get warmed up, give Son of Scoregasm or Geometry Wars 3 a go.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Meet the boss in Shakedown Hawaii

Vblank has a fun write-up of the CEO character in Shakedown Hawaii, with the game now scheduled for a release early next year. Just one snippet... Shakedown: Hawaii includes a full Story Mode (including side quests), Arcade Challenges for fast paced pick-up-and-play action, and Free Roam Mode for when you just want to dive into the world and play.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New pair of Persona Dancing... trailers

The Persona disco craze continues with new trailers for Dancing in Moonlight and Dancing in Starlight as we meet new characters and their moves. The games land on 4th December, so now should be the perfect time to explore Persona 4: Dancing All Night again, or for the first time, to set your fingers tapping!

Halloween Forever scares up a trailer

Ahh, its the fake fear time of year. And Poppy Works has a new trailer for Halloween Forever showing off the SNES-style platform adventure from Peter Lazarski with a pip-spewing pumpkinhead trying to survive in what looks the unfriendly world of the undead.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Death Mark western trailer begs you to pick up the phone

While the horror is palpable in any language, the game makes a bit more sense with English subtitles. So, thank Aksys Games Localization for this anglicized trailer of Death Mark, with all the fun hinted at by the ESRB rating!

Remember the limited edition when considering buying the horror fest, when the game releases at the end of the month. Oh, and don't pick up the phone!

Vita sales tick up in Japan

After the news that the Vita will be discontinued next year, sales in Japan have perked up to 2,600 over the last couple of weeks, according to Media Create. But no big jump, most likely as gamers are picking up second hand units as spares. On the plus side, it is outselling the PS4 Pro and the 3DS LL.

No Vita games in the chart, where Super Mario Party fluffs its lines, selling just over 100K. Not much on the schedule bar visual novels and low-end JRPGs until December to give things a boost.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Snogging alert in latest Catherine Fully Body clip

Lap it up westerners since we don't appear to getting Catherine over here. Enjoy another break-in-the-action clip of sweet nothings as Japan prepares to get its hands on the ultimate version of this action puzzler. Still four months to go for the JP release, and maybe if we keep politely hammering away at Atlus USA, they might do the right thing and the help the Vita go out with a bang.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

EastAsiaSoft fires a Fast Striker our way

Bullet Hell definitely looks like the appropriate description for Fast Striker, a  classic shmup from Germany's NG Dev Team. Originally released as a modern Neo Geo and Dreamcast title, it packs in massive ships, a driving soundtrack and tight, tactical space battles.

The game is out in mid-October and will get a physical release, limited to just 2,200 copies on Vita. Some Vita physicals are digging near the bottom of the barrel, but this looks like a great title to own.

Features include:
  • 6 Stages, including huge boss battles
  • 4 Game modes: Novice, Original, Maniac & Omake
  • Elaborate scoring system
  • Adjustable screen & control settings
  • Constant 60 fps

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I Am the Hero hits the Vita soon

We might rip into Ratalaika for dropping games with easy platinums, but the Vita's most active port specialists do the hard yards when required. Take I Am the Hero, a beat 'em up from CrazyAnt that has stretched the Vita's ageing hardware and required some serious optimisation to get it running.

With reflective surfaces, a mix of polys and pixels and lots of animation and effects going on, hopefully it will remain fluid and fun. The original is only a year old from Steam too, so far from a quick mobile port. Release is promised before Christmas, so bring it on!

Games for new Vita owners

At the end of its time, the Vita isn't going quietly into the night. New buyers are popping up all over the place and the first question on their minds is, what games should I get? I'd written a few lists over the course of this blog, from the heady days of 2012 and 2015.

However, based on a recent tweet fest, here's a list the community has come up with that covers pretty much all tastes and bases, broken down into hopefully useful categories to help new players out. If you want more detail on a game, they might be on the review list.

Feel free to comment with any you think are missing! And, remember, there's still a decent roster of new games to come, see the release list.

Vita Exclusives (originally) 
Persona 4 Golden
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Killzone Mercenary
Gravity Rush
Assassin's Creed Liberation

Monster Hunting
Freedom Wars 
Soul Sacrifice
God Eater Resurrection/God Eater 2 Rage Burst
Toukiden I/II

Digimon World: Cyber Sleuth
Demon Gaze
Rainbow Skies
World of Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy X/X2
Dungeon Travelers 2
Darkest Dungeon
Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus
Atelier Sophie
Ys: Memories of Celceta
Mary Skelter: Nightmares
Trails of Cold Steel
Conception II: CotSS
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed (not Akiba's Beat, which is terrible)
Punch Line
Yomawari Night Alone
Yomawari Midnight Shadow

Visual Novels
Steins Gate
Steins Gate 0
Hakuoki Edo Blossoms
Amnesia Memories
Muv Luv
Root Letter
Death Mark (coming soon)
Zero Time Dilemma

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Virtua Tennis World Tour (physical only)
Olli Olli (1 and 2)

Ridge Racer
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
WipEout 2048

Borderlands 2
Riddled Corpses DX
Rogue Aces
Velocity 2X
Xenon Valkyrie
Son of Scoregasm
Neon Chrome
Risk of Rain
Soldner 2X
Aqua Kitty DX
Geometry Wars 3

Arcana Heart 3
Street Fighter x Tekken
Mortal Kombat
Marvel vs Capcom 3


Dragon's Crown, Shantae
Sir Eatsalot, Reverie
Stealth Inc., Undertale
Lumo, Slain
Axiom Verge, Sound Shapes
Odin Sphere, Rayman Legends
Iconoclasts, Shovel Knight
Chasm, Spelunky
Steamworld Dig, Steamworld Dig 2
Salt and Sanctuary, Lara Croft Go
Hitman Go
PSP Games Worth Playing On Vita: (PSN region choice may vary)

Persona 3, Gran Turismo, Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories,
Loco Roco, Patapon 1,2,3, Resistance Retribution
God of War: Chains of Olympus, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Tekken 6
Ace Combat, Dissidia Final Fantasy, Patchwork Heroes
Half Second Heroes, Ridge Racer, The Third Birthday
Black Rock Shooter

PlayStation One titles: (PSN region choice may vary)

Crash Tag Team Racing, Metal Gear Solid, Rayman, Resident Evil 1,2,3,
Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, Vagrant Story, Ridge Racer Type 4, Spyro Series,
Crash Bandicoot 3,  Chrono Trigger, Wild Arms

Review Jack N' Jill DX

Jack N' Jill DX is a fun mobile jump-along game where you tap X to leap Jack across perilous levels so he can be reunited with his beloved Jill. A simple retro-style Game Boy title, there are 140 levels to cross. At least Jill gets a go in the later levels.

Bumping into the scenery will send Jack in the other direction. Avoid falling into pits and bumping into spikes, and you can generally get to the end okay. As the levels progress jump boosters are added and other things to avoid.

Each level is short enough that if you make a mistake you don't lose too much time or the will to live. Further into the world, nasties start to appear that can be avoided or bounced on. Power-ups can help you out, in the form of speed-ups, invulnerability and so on.

Later levels stack up the tricks and complexity of the platforms to create some tough challenges, but being Ratalaika, you can still get the platinum within an hour, and without getting into the meat of the game.

Unlock enough levels or collect enough coins and you get to play a set of mini-games, and can buy some treats for your little friends. Are they ghosts or decapitated thumbs? They look rather like Pac Man's ghosts, be a shame if they are already dead. And with no real story being revealed along the way, it doesn't really matter.

With jolly tunes and pleasingly simple level backgrounds, this is simple fare, where the toughest parts of a level just require a slightly earlier or later leap, or perhaps a different bounce pattern. Low-cost fun, there's some challenge, but this would be so much better if it took the Super Life of Pixel approach and tweaked the art style for each world to add some variety.

Score: 5/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Rohan Narang/Ratalaika
File size 94MB
Progress: Platinum

Monday, October 1, 2018

Battle Rockets trailer lights up the Vita

I can only see the tweet version for now, but will update to a higher quality version later if one pops up. That aside, welcome Battle Rockets from Gumbo Machine coming to the Vita in 2019.

A quick-draw shooter where one or two players or more must battle it out for victory, it might look simple, but I'm betting there's bags of challenge among the eight single player campaigns and that fast-paced multiplayer.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Fate Extella Link details

Fate/Extella Link is headed our way early next year thanks to Marvelous and XSEED. Picking up right where the 2017's Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star left off, Link will arrive in early 2019. It adds 10 Servants to the original roster of 16, including including Astolfo, Scáthach, and Francis Drake.

Note, PS4 screenshot!

The high-speed action gameplay has been refined, and players will battle their way through massive invading armies to protect the virtual world of SE.RA.PH from an invading force. New features allow players to hunker down in base camp, to move freely around their army’s base camp, a medieval cathedral raised into the sky, and interact with their Servants to build meaningful bonds.

The Vita is a digital only release for $39.99.

Puzzler Collapsus falls on the Vita

Wraith Games is showing off its award-winning puzzler Collapsus around the expo scene at the moment, and I've just noticed the "coming to Vita too" mention. That was originally announced back in April, but guess I missed it.

Collapsus features a unique risk-reward, resource management mechanic in among the usual block-busting moves. That and a device rotation mechanic plus a bunch of different modes from the chilled Zen and challenge modes over 300 mind-bending single screen puzzles.

Also good to see a full colorblindness accessibility mode. Hope it does well, and they consider bringing Rarkanoid out way too!

Root Letter Last Answer first trailer

Adding a little live action to the classic Root Letter visual novel storytelling, this remaster of the 2016 original is heading to Japan in December. Check out the official site for more information on the actors taking up the roles of their pixelly predecessors. There will be a premium physical release, more info on that to follow, chances of a Vita western release? Unlikely, I suspect.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Review: Stay

Here we go adventuring on the Vita, except you're not the one having the adventure. instead interaction is limited to online chatting to someone trapped in a room, in the dark, on his own - very much against his will. That's not the only thing strange in Stay, the game keeps track of how long you play, or how long you leave this chap, Quinn, in the lurch.

The actual adventure elements are pretty basic, you have a few key phrase choices to make, either encouraging Quinn on, or urging caution as he bumbles around in the dark finding all sorts of mysteries. As you talk, you affect Quinn's mood and little measures for sanquine and other long adjectives fill up on the left hand side, hopefully for the good, but it doesn't make much sense.

Puzzles make up the rest of the game, and here we take control of the action, trying to put back vases together, solve block-type brain teasers and much more. The wall puzzle and chess games are just bizarre, and not helped by the strutting peacock or other diversions!

Other times you watch on during interludes as Quinn explores, perhaps quietly screaming at him to do something logical (if its dark and you're on the roof, wait until daylight, moron!).

Along the way Quinn picks up a menagerie of animals, because why not? And some items, which might come in use later on. With no guide to the puzzles, unless you cheat, that's where you will spend much of your time struggling, and once you've found a route through the game, I don't think there's much more joy in trying other ways out, or trying to empathise more (or less). And if you don't like Quinn, his back story won't be of any interest as the game progresses.

I'd like to love the idea behind Stay, but the execution is pretty ropey in places, and there's only so much fun chatting to someone on a keyboard. This from someone who hates using WhatsApp! A shame as the music is gorgeous and the early going can suck you in. As one of those games best played in the dark on headphones, its a shame it doesn't demand your attention until the end.

Ironically, as Night Trap comes out on the Switch, I was wondering if that would make a better text-type adventure? With more, slightly bat-shit girls to engage with, it could work. But stuck with Quinn, I'm not feeling the love, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't.

Score: 6/10
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Price: £9.49 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Appnormals/Ratalaika
File size 225MB
Progress: 12th circle of hell

Latest Media Create and Famitsu data from Japan

Two weeks ago, Vita had its worst ever sales at 1,973 in Japan. Then at TGS, Sony announced an end to Vita production sometime in 2019. Fair to say the two events are probably related. Last week's figures from Media Create show sales pinging back up to 2,718, but aside from people stocking up spare consoles, this is a one way ride.

What was once a stellar seller for the Vita, Steins Gate Elite only just creeps into to the top 20, selling 3,700, while the PS4 and Switch versions are in the top 5, selling 13K each. That's as clear a sign as anyone needs that the Vita's time in the sun is almost over. Famitsu's review pages are crammed with Switch titles, and anything that once brought delight to Vita owners now on PS4/Switch/PC pretty much exclusively. 

Tick, tock, all we can do is wonder if PS5 will have a portable/hybrid element, as I don't have the time or energy to fight my way in front of the big TV.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Back in 1995 ideal for the Vita's poly power

If you were into computers or consoles in the mid-nineties, you were there for the switch from pixels to polygons and the mostly woeful efforts to create realistic characters or worlds. From the Virtua games on 32X to Atari Jaguar's Iron Soldier to the first accelerator cards on PC, things were blocky and bulky, but the dawn of a new age.

Back in 1995 from Japanese indie "Throw the warped code out" is a short (2-3 hour) game bringing back all those memories with low res polygon model, the horrible texture warping, CRT emulation, and fixed Alone in the Dark CCTV style camera angles.

In Back in 1195 you relive a mystery game genre with an old-school user interface and tank controls.
Explore a sparse cityscape in the year 1995, littered with clues about the past, interact with a cast of damaged characters whose intentions you can never truly know and uncover the mystery of yourself, your daughter, and what happened to the city.

Review Super Mutant Alien Assault

All the comparisons for Super Mutant Alien Assault point to Super Crate Box (which hit the Vita as a PSM title). That's not a bad starting point, but SMAA certainly looks a step up in class, arriving on Vita a few years after the original Steam release.

After Earth is destroyed, humanity is spread in fleets across three galaxies, on the look out for a new home. Pursued by alien craft, while the humans sleep, robots are on patrol to defend from the aliens crawling out the walls.

Each single-screen level, built from a range of pre-set rooms, can be played in a number of ways. there's plain survival mode, pressure mode where you need to regularly visit a pair of pressure vessels to stop them from blowing up, reactor mode where you need to fuel the hyperdrive, Thruster has you carrying big balls of chemicals that mean you can't fire your guns, while an end of level vanquish mode requires you to defeat the boss to move onto the next set of ships.

Each level has a few crates with a growing number of goodies or skills you can pick up. Double jumping, dodge and other skills will help you survive each level, while hearts give you a little more life.

There's also a weapons dispenser and other tricks, and here you get to play a bit with the game's mechanics. Blowing enemies up is easier than shooting them, especially with the mini-gun that takes ages to spin up, or the M-16 limited to a crappy 3-shot burst, grenades might not go where you want them, so learning the exact place to stand to dodge a leaping alien or to launch a weapon is key.

Targets are a range of aliens from green slime monsters to rhino-like charging creatures, swarms of bee-like things. The longer they live the tougher they get, so don't spend too long planning and get on with the killing.

You also need to think about what weapon to end a level with. Having one round in an RPG is no good to start the next one, so in the few seconds before a level ends, you might want to try getting a new one.

As more weapons unlock, you can customise the starting load-out from a weak but reliable pistol to extra skills, and different types of bots. Ultimately, its down to luck and skill how long you last, but SMAA is thoroughly enjotable once you get the hang of it.

The need for all these little thoughts and how best to use your skills make the game come alive. That and the vibrant, brilliant pixel detail, in each area, driven by a beat-heavy soundtrack scream one-more-go after each and every death.

Once you complete the game, there's an endless mode for high score fun, and further difficulty levels for even more challenge. A finely nuanced game, its difficulty starts at tough and only gets harder, so learning every trick you can will help, especially against the fierce over-size bosses.

Score: 7/10
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Price: £9.49 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Surprise Attack
File size 75MB
Progress: Third world

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Catherine Full Body opening trailer

Okay, so it looks like we're not getting Catherine in the west, as Atlus focus solely on the PS4 version. But I'll be happy to import a Japanese copy for my Vita, I don't think the original was too complicated to play.

Here's the latest Japanese opening movie to get you tempted, and its all in English! Shame the game play clips I've seen were all in Japanese, would have been too hard for developers Studio Zero to offer a global edition?

Edit: video changed as Atlus' original removed due to a copyright claim, go figure!

Hacky Zack kicks over to the Vita

A Steam release last year, just recently dropped on the Switch, Hacky Zack is a fun-looking puzzler from SpaceBoy Games. It looks like Digerati are bringing it to the PS4 and Vita too, according to a trophy listing, although they seem to add Vita quite often for games that aren't coming our way. See the uncertainty over Reverse Crawl for some previous!

Either way, if you like tricky puzzlers, this looks like it could be fun, it has overall positive reviews on Steam. On the negative side, SpaceBoy hasn't tweeted in 18 months and their website is down, so don't expect any further adventures of Zack!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sega and Capcom slam together Phantasy Star and Monster Hunter online

Capcom's Monster Hunter Frontier Z has been providing a steady stream of revenue for years across many formats now, in between the major releases, and is the only way Japanese Vita owners can enjoy some recent monster hunting on the go.

Sega's Phantasy Star Online 2 has long been a massive seller for the Vita in various update versions, and the stream of content must have every Japanese player running a 64GB memory card to the max.

In perhaps a final hurrah for both games before next-gen successors arrive, the two are getting together to trade content with Sega showing off this first crossover. No idea what the details are aside from monster in phantasy land, but it looks fun.

Original story [4Gamer] (JP)

Vita production ends in 2019

Well, we knew it was coming, and with Vita sales in Japan down to below 2,000 a week, this was inevitable. Sony has announced an end to Vita production next year with no plan for a successor. With more complaints about failing parts on forums than new game news, it won't come as a shock, even if its a bit weird for Sony to do this during a shiny new-thing show.

Economics dictates a factory or production line that can probably make 20,000 or more units a week can't run at 10%, so there you have it. At Sony's Tokyo Game Show event, while showing off the PlayStation Classic, a SVP of Interactive Entertainment confirmed the news (auto-translated).
Question - Can you talk about deployment of portable machines such as successor to PlayStation Vita?
Hiroyuki OdaOda - "At the moment, I do not have a plan of presentation about the new model of the portable machine (it is the plan at the present moment only). PlayStation Vita continues production until 2019 in Japan, and shipment will be completed thereafter."
Do not call this PlayStation TV! 
That suggestion of a "plan" likely means the company will put all its focus in to PS5, with perhaps a hybrid mode/device to keep up with the Nintendo's of this world.

But it won't be the end, there's no mention of cart production ending in Japan, yet. 2019 still has a modest line up of releases and, if developers are still crafting NES, Mega Drive, Dreamcast and even C64 and Spectrum games, I'm sure someone will find a way to keep the Vita bumbling along.

The key issue will be if the all-new PS5 PSN update somehow changes or kills PS Vita content. That will happen eventually, then there's gonna be a massive download rush to put all those titles somewhere safe.

In the meantime, buy a spare Vita before the prices shoot up, and all the physical copies you can! The Vita is now officially nostalgia. There will be plenty of nostalgia articles to come but think about this, a 2011-spec piece of mobile hardware will still be selling (a few) in 2020!

An end, but not the end!
What I really want to know now is, Sony would have had a mid-life/successor/upgrade plan for 2014/15, how powerful would that have been?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

PlayAsia bringing STAY physical release

PlayAsia is pretty much focused on PS4 and Switch as you'd expect, but the company will stick pick up interesting titles for the Vita in a fine show of spirit.

The first of its new roster announced for Tokyo Game Show is STAY, the chatty puzzle suspense fest from Appnormals that I'm in the process of reviewing.

Arriving in October 2018, it is very good, not sure about replay value but still worth hunting down if you haven't played it yet. Jump to the 35 second mark in the trailer.

Sony jumps on the retro classic console bandwagon

In a move that will surprise no one, Sony has dragged out the original PlayStation for minification with 20 original era games. The minute it was announced, people started bitching about the game choice. However, Vita owners are already well ahead of the game.

Games you can play from the list on your Vita right now include: Final Fantasy VII, Ridge Racer Type 4, Jumping Flash and Wild Arms, so why bother? Only Tekken 3 is missing in the EU, and there's 15 more titles to be announced. However, note the small print, "Software titles cannot be added on via download or any other way"

My first thought is why didn't they do a portable version based on the Vita design, rather than having those blotchy blob polys and vertexes writ large on a HD screen? At least give people the choice.

Also, the controllers are pre-DualShock, so expect lots of tabloid "PlayStation sent my child to the hospital with his thumbs rubbed off" stories!

Vita owners, why wait until December? 

Having read some comments, also wonder what the chance is of Sony pulling those games from PSN to make this more "exclusive" - time to download them if you've got them.

It costs £90 and hits in December, hopefully not in limited edition numbers to cause pointless eBay frenzies! Second thought, what's inside this thing? Is it basically a PSTV (it only runs at 720p) resolution with a new OS and interface?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Reverse Crawl swims over the Vita

I saw the trophies for this game pop up on Exophase and had no idea what it's about based on the name. A quick search and there's no swimming involved, instead its a pixelly turn-based battler from 2015 that's well rated on Steam from Nerdook and Digerati.

Here's the PC trailer from three years ago... Nerdook was behind the excellent Vertical Drop Heroes, so this could well be worth investigating, assuming the listing isn't in error, which happens from time to time. Hopefully the newer Monster Slayer card/dungeon game (already out on PS4) is also on the way!

UPDATE: No comment from publisher or developer, so perhaps yet another trophy error, or they're waiting for some agreed formal announce date!

From the blurb: "A dungeon crawl where YOU are the monsters! Lead your minions in tactical turn-based combat against the pesky heroes, and unlock a variety of evil Powers. With a dynamic campaign system and a branching storyline, "Reverse Crawl" lets you experience an RPG from a whole new angle!"


- Tactical turn-based combat system, where you control the dungeon's minions!
- A dynamic campaign that will be different each time, complete with a branching storyline
- Artwork, coding and animation by one person (!) in that unique Nerdook style
- Unlock new minions, traits and powers as you play, depending on your choices during the campaign!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A fresh peek at Catherine's Full Body

Trailer time again from Japan as the Catherine Full Body site gets an update with more content and a fresh trailer to tempt us. The big question remains will we get to experience her puzzles and deadly delights on the Vita in the west, still no word from Atlus as time ticks on.

The main trailer kicks in around the 50 second mark. Interestingly, there's talk from the developers a of collaboration surprise for the updated edition. Given all the characters have variations on the Catherine name,  that has me thinking immediately of Kat from Gravity Rush, wouldn't that be cool? Any other ideas? Of course it could be something completely different.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

NG gameplay as Japan tucks into this horror title

See what's going on in the visual novel horror title NG as Japanese gamers start to explore the darkness. There's quite a few streams and gameplay videos, but this seems to be the most popular. Looks mostly like scene setting and a few minor choices in the early going but I'm sure there's plenty more to come in the later chapters.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Timespinner finally spins up on the Vita

Kickstarted some four years ago, classic platformer Timespinner from Chucklefish and Lunar Ray Games is ready to hit the Vita and PS4 (and PC). Yet another exciting looking Metroid-style game, it follows hot on the heels of Chasm (just realised I still need to do my review of that), but with a lot more characterisation, judging by the trailer.

In Timespinner, we join timekeeper Lunais on her quest for revenge against the empire that killed her family. She can use her time-bending powers to explore a vast, connected world. It hits PSN on the 25th September.

Check out the game website for more detail. Good to see some developers keeping the Vita version day and date with the other editions, rather than treating it as an afterthought.

Latest Media Create chart data and Famitsu review scores

Vita sales dropped another 100 down to 2,348 last week in Japan according to the latest Media Create data. That's in trend with previous years' late summer performance. There are no Vita titles in the games chart, topped by an impressive performance by SpiderMan selling 125K on PS4.

Things perk up over the next couple of weeks with NG Spirit Horror out this week and
Steins Gate Elite out the following week. How they'll cope among the AAA releases and general move to Switch likely means reduced sales all round.

In Famitsu land, that very same Steins Gate Elite scored three 8s and a 9 for a total of 33, but with Tomb Raider, SpiderMan and others scoring higher, I wonder if Japanese gamers will focus on the western releases over this latest dive into the SG universe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New studio Too Kyo Games announce first projects

Japan has a new indie studio, founded by the seven mostly ex-Danganronpa and Zero Escape staffers. From the Too Kyo company reveal livestream interview we get some pretty art for a lineup of games covering themes of people going to their "extreme limits x despair" (sounds familiar) and a cyberpunk-themed tale being published by their old bosses at Spike Chunsoft.

No formats, release dates or any detail really, but while Switch is probably a given and they may be too far into 2019/2020 for the Vita, I guess since that's where they found their main success, there's a ray of hope.

Update, there's a Famitsu English language piece here.

Minecraft v1.76 Aquatic update live

Go swim with the fishes in the last major update for the Vita version of Minecraft. Version 1.76 is here as a 1GB download (that's going on top of my fresh physical version install, other updates may be smaller).

The changelog is here from Mojang with the key features being six new trophies a host of life and features to explore under the water's surface. There's also a new tutorial to show off the fresh features.

Minecraft landed on the Vita in October 2014, so has been well supported for almost four years, and thanks to Mojang for that. It sold a million boxed copies in Japan, and got a Limited Edition Vita model. That helped keep the Vita relevant over there, and is still played massively online.

It also inspired Dragon Quest Builders and plenty of other knock-offs, so Vita owners have a lot to be grateful for. Will add some screens once the update has downloaded.

Super Mutant Alien Assault lands on Vita

Sticking out among the first rush of AAA PS4 games for the autumn, Chris Suffern's Super Mutant Alien Assault is up on PSN for the Vita, bringing us gorgeous glowing pixel destruction. Packed with weapons, skills and perks, your droids must protect fleets carrying humanity to the stars from aliens who don't want our scummy carcasses landing in their neigbourhoods.

Inspired by the likes of Super Crate Box, it is full of single-screen levels where you need to defeat the attackers as fast as possible using the hugely varied arsenal and unlockables. Players must figure out hte quickest route to success, if the aliens survive too long, the ship’s radiation will mutate them into bigger, nastier versions.

No Vita trailer or screens that I can find, so enjoy the PS4 clip from a couple of years back.

UPDATE: Looks like the game had some early PSN issues, but hopefully fixed now.

UPDATE 2: Confirmed the PSN issues are fixed, get playing everybody!

Quantum Suicide on show at TGS

Sure I'd mentioned Quantum Suicide from CottonCandy Cyanide before, but can't find any reference. The visual novel was Kickstarted in 2016, and the website still lists a late 2017 release date, but the game was delayed due to the developer's divorce of all things, and this trailer is two years old.

More recent news is the sci-fi thriller will be on display at Tokyo Game Show, in the Australia booth, and according to a Japanese tweet will be out later this year, and is still coming to the Vita. Overall, the developer could definitely do with better communications.

Quantum Suicide is a Japanese-style Visual Novel. You play as a researcher aboard a spaceship on an epic mission to find humanity a new home. The mission is jeopardized by a corrupted A.I system that forces you to play "The Deletion Game", a weekly game where you must battle your crew mates for survival.  Prepare to make both friends and enemies of your crew members as you play through a series of puzzles and strategy mini-games. Can you see the Everett's mission through to the end...alive?

More TGS snippets here. Ah, I had mentioned the game in the Kickstarter list (makes sense), but it seems like a title that should have made more waves.

Monday, September 10, 2018

In my twitching Severed hand, new Limited Edition pictures

Despite writing lots about all the Vita limited physical editions doing the rounds, this is the first one I had the money at the right time to snap up. I reviewed the PSN version back in 2016, but have to say it so much better holding something in your hand, having the CD soundtrack to play at will and that lovely smell of fresh plastic to enjoy (perhaps that's just me!).

Drinkbox Studios and EastAsiaSoft deserve credit for bringing these our way. Here's some unboxing snaps to enjoy if you're still tempted they still have a few on PlayAsia.com!

ps vita, severed, drinkbox, physical

ps vita, severed, drinkbox, physical

ps vita, severed, drinkbox, physical

ps vita, severed, drinkbox, physical

ps vita, severed, drinkbox, physical

Review: FullBlast

I'm still annoyed no one ported Ikaruga over to the Vita, but we've had plenty of great releases over the years to satisfy those shoot 'em up urges. Joining the hopefuls is FullBlast, a smart-looking Ouya and PC 3D shooter from UFO Crash, ported by Ratalaika.

Relatively slow-paced, it sees your chubby little craft setting out over a 3D world to defend it from alient attack. There's an American flag over your base, but no land marks to get your patriotic blood running, surely some mistake!

Your aim is to deal death to waves of alien invaders. Some sit on top of the buildings, others have crashed into them denting the scenery, but most waves potter in from the edge or top of the screen in three or four ship groups. Their fire patterns are predictable, and butterflies are the only ones that drop power-ups, so focus on them.

The combined firepower is constant but hardly anything you would call bullet hell. Even the bosses are at best sturdy, rather than awesome nightmares, and with plenty of extra lives, power ups, boosts and mega bomb pick ups, you can generally out-muscle the enemy forces.

A chunky metal soundtrack rattles away in the background and the effects hide under that, music is on or off only, with no volume control, so you need to turn the music off to really get the effects. Even then, explosions are chunky, but gun effects are rather bland with only a few other bleeps and bloops, making it all rather bland.

With a platinum trophy easily earned by the time you complete level three, there's still more than three-quarters of the game to go, across jungle and icy terrain, which seems rather unfair. On the plus side, the landscape gets more alien as you progress adding an eerie sense of foreboding.

As you charge up your weapon to max, you can fire missiles too, which partnered with some megabombs and a shield allows a well-tooled-up ship to crash through most levels easily enough. To spice things up from time to time, the game kicks in a 3D rotation mode which makes things a little more exciting.

There is an online scoreboard to compare your efforts, in easy, medium and hard more, and some internal rewards, but it feels tacked on like an extra, rather than a core part of the game. Some side missions or an accuracy score, or anything really would help out here.

What's really missing is interaction with the 3D landscape, where's a bomb button to flatten the ground targets? Where's the enemies being shot down and plowing into the car-filled streets? Anything to make this game a more interesting shooter. One boss comes out of holes in the ground but it would be so much better if, for example, you could jump into the tanks that are defending the nation on some levels and change the perspective a little.

This is a decent shooter, with a modest challenge. But with a little imagination, the developers could have made FullBlast so much more exciting. Hopefully they can push a little further next time with a more ambitious project.

Score: 6/10
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Price: £4.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher UFO Crash/Ratalaika/
File size 240MB
Progress: Platinum/Completed

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Review Sigi A Fart for Melusina

A flatulent noble after a date with a mermaid, not your typical Knight's Tale. Sigi is a short and silly platformer that takes the spirit of Ghosts and Goblins, dials down the difficulty and ramps up the daft factor. A bit of jumping, some well aimed shots and keeping an eye out for the odd mystery item and you've completed an early level in a matter of seconds.

Sigi must travel across 20-odd short levels, finding the secret rooms and objects along the way, defeating the peculiar bosses every few levels. The GnG spirit comes with the range of weapons you can use, but the first dozen levels are pretty much a cakewalk, except for wondering if each drop in the ground will reveal a secret or instant death.

With cannons to fire you across levels, clouds and tyres for tricky jumps, there's a little variety in exploring, but really its all about the rush to collect lives and defeat the four major enemies.

The bosses, you need to hit from one side, or in the right place to wear them down. They provide the only real obstacle in the game, and you should stack up plenty of lives (collecting the letters of SIGI's name, collecting 100 coins and so on) over the levels to stand a better chance to batter them. But if you do die, then restarting on the boss level annoyingly leaves you very short of lives to take the beasts down.

With charming graphics, and a jolly chiptune theme, Sigi looks the part, but the mechanics don't feel tight enough and that can slow you down through uncertainty. Battling through zombies, skeletons and the annoying crows is fun for a while but they can really annoyingly get in the way during boss battles.

Clearly, Pixel-lu is destined for bigger and greater things with Plutonium Pirates and Bobby Bombastic on the way, so I guess as an intro to those Sigi is a worthwhile experience, and if you were ever a GnG fan that found Capcom's games too hard, this might make a welcome alternative.

But, its not quite clever or tight enough to be a compelling game, and if it was any more than a few quid, I'd be rather down on it, but as a cheap-and-cheerful experimental release, Sigi is well worth a quick blast.

Score: 6/10
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Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Pixel.lu/Sometimes You/
File size 91MB
Progress: Knight, knight