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 has for some years perhaps been seen as a laughing stock to console and mobile developers. If you stick to the major sites, all developers see is the negative news, so why code for a dead device? And if the major developers are ignoring it, why should you care?

The truth is the Vita isn't for everyone. But for any developer where building a brand, gaining 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.

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.

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

Atelier of the New Earth coming to Japanese Vita owners

Japan's latest Atelier title "Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists" throws a town-building mode into the mix alongside the series favourite characters, including Sophie, Escha, Rorona and many others. The game is officially announced tomorrow, but there seems to be plenty of leakage for the game, possibly subtitled Atelier of the New Earth.


Will the Vita version be another weak production, or have the developers thought more about getting the best from both formats, rather than just cramming what they can from the PS4 version in an suboptimal mess? Chance of a western release? Pretty much nil.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Limited Run keeps it real at E3 with The House of Fata Morgana and more

If Vita owners want games, then Limited Run has shown the way with limited physical editions helping boost sales, attract developers and create a buzz around a niche platform that would otherwise be a lot closer to death.

The little company that roared had its own Twitch show today, wrapped in a fake E3 keynote, to highlight its latest reveals, with much of the Vita's remaining most-wanted titles getting boxed releases, plus some all-new additions, including:

All new The House of Fata Morgana 2019 release

BiFrost/Konjak's Iconoclasts.
MidBoss 2064:Read Only Memories (announced last year, but dev time!)
Sukeban's Va-11 Hall-A (also announced last year, but even more dev time!)


Senran Karuga Bon Appetit
Spelunky
Salt and Sanctuary
Phantom Breaker Battlegrounds Overdrive

Exile's End


Catch a replay here.
Watch live video from LimitedRunGames on www.twitch.tv

Pixel Panzers gets some early gameplay action

Pixel Panzers has been teasing regularly with animated GIFs, a range of tee-shirts and other nuggets. But it looks like the core game is coming along well, with this early look at tanks slugging it out on the plains.

Sure, there's probably lots more to do and add, but - as long as they don't add annoying anime characters - I'm going to be well into this game, if it has even a hint of accuracy about the different models for armour, range and so on.

Zanki Zero splashes into action with swimwear DLC

It has been a long time coming, but we finally get to see some Zanki Zero in action, although not too much. The summer Japanese release is a long way from that early gorgeous artwork shown a year ago. But, since the game isn't coming west on Vita I guess its no massive loss as the usual step-by-step RPG action moves into soggy terrain.


And guess what, even for a game set on a tropical island(ish) and begging for characters to be in swimwear all the time, Spike will still try and flog some cossies as DLC (more boys and girls on the JP 4Gamer piece).


Friday, June 8, 2018

Be at peace with new Musynx gameplay trailer

PM Studios has put up four new videos for Musynx in action, my favourite is this peaceful little number 'That Little Starry Sky' that's helping me get through a hectic Friday afternoon. Check out the other ones and get ready for another dose of stylish-looking rhythm action fun.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight Hitting the Vita in the west

Phew, that's one big sigh of relief all around as Atlus confirm that the latest pair of Persona dancing games will get a Vita western release. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight will arrive in early 2019, with no word on a physical release.

Update: Atlus' EU PR gal says the Vita will be digital only as production of game cards will have ended!



Valfaris Gameplay video for fun with swords and guns

Worryingly, I recently got a press release from Digital Uppercut with fresh gameplay video of Valfaris, but listing it for PC, PS4 and XO, only. However, developer Andrew Gilmour, sort of hinted on Twitter (via a like to a here's hoping GIF, so pretty tentative) that it might still be coming. Guess I'll leave it on the list for now.

He's has been hard at work with the sequel to Slain, and while this from the PC version, it gives a good look at the early levels of the shoot-and-slash gameplay we should get one day. Let him and the publisher know you still want it on Vita.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Liar Princess and the Blind Prince stumble into the Japanese chart

The latest Media Create chart sees a pretty-much honours-even battle, given the disparity in user base. That's as Liar Princess and the Blind Prince manages to sell just over 6,400 each on the PS4 at No. 10 and the Switch at No. 11 in the latest chart, with the Vita version not far behind at 4,500 sales.

As PS4 sells about 6X as many consoles and Switch a whopping 20X many units per week, that's not bad at all. Digital sales could be quite high for this cutely dark adventure, hope to see some word from Nippon Ichi soon.


On the hardware front, Vita sales remain locked in the low 2Ks, nudging up 100 but nothing to write home about. Still, rather have them creeping up slowly than continuing to drift down. Out this week is Fate/Extella Link, which should do some bigger business on all formats.


As for last week's Persona new entries, all gone, poof! Suspect that's the end of that spin-off idea!

Vita's design is still ahead of the game!

ASUS' Republic of Gamers "ROG" Gaming phone is a new kid on the portable fun block. And boy did its designers not have a damn clue. There's a cooling fan option, a super-size 3DS-style chunky case and then the turd on the cake, worse-than-Nintendo Switch side controllers. All shameful additions as the actual phone looks pretty cutting-edge.

Sure, between these three kludges, Android gaming fans might find a suitable way to play whatever it is that Android gamers play. But, seriously, Sony proved themselves way ahead of the game when it came to style and design with the PSP and Vita.

Just imagine a new launch Vita, slightly thicker for the modern GPU and cooling, with HD OLED, quad triggers, wireless streaming to HDTV and whatever else they could cram in without the hilarious Nintendo-style Joy-Cons (which I still can't come to love). So, yep Sony might have misread the market, and ballsed up everything else, but they designed one hell of a device!

The odd thing is, as Sony has dumped Vita, why didn't ASUS license or buy the design, uprate the hardware, making case changes as needed and run a dual OS Vita/Android system? They have form for Windows/Android devices and other hybrids, so why not?






Monday, June 4, 2018

Waking Violet and Master of Mayhem line up for Vita

Such is the weird state of Vita news, entire games can come and go with no one noticing. Recently The Mooseman (this week from Shinzir) and State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem (last week by Lapovich Games) appeared as trophy listings on Exphase, suggesting a near release date.

UPDATE: Scratch Mooseman off the list  as the developer has issued a clarification. Still haven't heard about MoM.

Original story: Just goes to show, when the news is thin, in the perils of believing pretty much any online source when it comes to Vita games.

Both games seem to be about a year old PC titles and are Russian/Belaryussian developed, which is a positive-sounding source of new Vita games if the rest of the world is slowing down. Beyond their Steam pages, there isn't a huge amount of detail on the console ports, so check back for any updates.

UPDATE to the UPDATE: But in the Moose's place comes Waking Violet, a game with no history, no social media mentions, and a Twitter account that's never tweeted. Some digging and Twitter help (thanks @maryjenbeck) tracks it down to the Mixed Bag published game that was teased recently by Marco Mastropaolo and there's a teaser website up here.




Review: Riddled Corpses EX

React faster, dammit! In Riddled Corpses EX, I'd dodged a line of charging American football linebackers, barged the nest of coffins that sprang up, cut up a patch of acid-spitting flowers, detonated a flaming bin to waste a pack of devil dogs and spotted a useful extra life behind a stack more zombies, and then I died, all within about a second! Am I too old, or is the game just beyond my sensory capacities?

Diabolical Mind and Cowcat are at it again, feeding Vita owners a perfectly prepared slice of arcade mania. Riddled Corpses EX is another PC port, on the heels of Xenon Valkyrie +, that brings crispy little pixel zombie corpses for you to devastate in fun and novel ways.

That's pretty much RCEX is all about, live fast, die faster, leaving many bloated corpses in your path.
With a story, arcade and survival mode, you blat away at the undead using various characters armed with shotguns or peculiar laser weapons. Each has different fire speeds and bullet damage, plus improvised weapons like cars or fiery barrels and the odd dynamite bundle.

Demolishing coffins or hatcheries before they disgorge their undead is risky but can save time and prevent the screen from clogging up with enemies. But you will get shot more, making it a dicey proposition at best. Take time to pick up gold and power-ups, with the aim of buying (very expensive) extra weapons, adding characters and boosting their levels to make them even more likely to get PTSD is all part of the fun.


In Story and Arcade mode. sometimes the screen is static allowing a little time to think, but will soon fill up with undead. Other times it scrolls on to the next part of the six main levels, each with many waves of zombies and mini-bosses. They've been animated by some mega-brain that's now trying to wipe out humanity, typical!

Leveling up increases firepower and some characters come with special abilities. In arcade mode, that's a pain as the level-up token whizzes around the level. In any game you might randomly get a stack of extra lives, dynamite or time stoppers to help give you an edge. Other times, you're lucky to grab a few bits of gold before panic or a mistake sees death wrap his bony fingers around your throat.

In story mode, there are a few new cutscenes between levels, but there's not really much of a plot or character development to get gripped by here. Level 3 introduces a vehicle section to add some pace, and there are a few more surprises in store. Arcade mode provides in-level power-ups and bonus rounds as you start from zero, while Survival mode is good for earning cash for story mode and to finish off the trophy collection. Both have online high score charts, so you can compare your efforts against friends and the rest of the world.

Whatever mode you play, the action is driven by some fantastic chiptunes by Georgiost, originals, remixes and metal versions (when you complete the game) that are well worth taking the time to listen to in isolation when you're not panicking about which way to dodge next.


As the first game from Diabolical Mind, dating back to 2015, Riddled Corpses, even with some tweaks in the EX update, feels a little primitive compared to Xenon Valkyrie. Waves don't really feel like waves, mostly a constant shamble of undead, and there's still a few hours unnecessary grinding involved. Hopefully, the upcoming game Demon's Tier will make it to the Vita offering the best of both worlds.

As a warning, you might think some areas of maps are out of bounds, but you can go pretty much anywhere, even through trees, although it took a few failed efforts to figure that out. But, there's the odd bit of a level where your character can get stuck in the scenery, while hitting electric grids means losing a life or bringing about an untimely end.

If you do struggle to progress in story mode and get bored, Survival offers some variety in backgrounds and monsters, and provides a quick(ish) way to horde coins to power up the other characters.

Whatever mode, there's often way too much going on on-screen at once, with explosions and fire effects, obscuring a raging enemy at just the wrong moment. The game runs mostly at 60fps, but I'm pretty sure it drops from time to time.


Riddled Corpses isn't quite as easy to love as Xenon Valkyrie, but it is still a solid slice of arcade action. Getting it to run on the Vita is an impressive effort, with many hours of twitchy fun to be had as you look to see what the later characters can do, and reach the end of this tough little, grindy, arcade cookie.

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £9.49 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Diabolical Mind/Cowcat
File size 85MB
Progress: Complete