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