Tuesday, October 15, 2019

PlayStation Now back on the Vita, sort of

PlayStation Now was a genius little app for the Vita way back in 2015, bringing a mass of PS3 titles streaming to Sony's handheld. But the powers at PlayStation seemed to lose interest in the project, so much so, they eventually pulled the Vita app in 2017, limiting it to PS4 and PC. That is until Google recently announced Stadia and Microsoft started offering xCloud, making streaming trendy and a useful way to gain revenue from the archives.

Now the revamped PlayStation Now is here, with new offers and a stronger focus on content. The good news is the downloadable category of PS Now games can be Remote Played on the Vita, and I count 327 PS4 titles at the moment.

With the new 7-day free trial, you can give them a spin no-money-down, or if you want to go all-in, ShopTo.net has a £10 off an annual sub, making it just £3 and change per month. Since you have to download them to the PS4, and files range from a couple of GB to 45GB for the likes of GTA, that limits the flexibility of PSNow, and if you spend all your time on the big screen, this isn't much use. But if your big-screen time is limited, the Vita still proves itself highly useful. (UPDATE: Of course, you can use an iOS or Android device with a DualShock, but that's way off Vita Island).

The bad news is, the older stuff, like PS2 titles from Red Faction to Star Wars Jedi Starfighter and PS3 titles like the Bioshock originals are still streaming-to-PS4-only, so can't be played on the Vita. Presumably the lag-upon-lag would be too much for most games, but I'm willing to give it a go if Sony would change that setting.

Still, for us Vita owners, the PS4 downloadable titles in PS Now count as regular games, like the delectable Shadow of the Beast I've been testing it with. They must be downloaded to the host PS4 for PlayStation-More-Than-Now play, player at higher-res with reduced lag, limiting RP to your local network, so if your Remote Play has been poor before, don't expect a boost now or a great experience.

You can run the PlayStation Now app remotely on the Vita to test all this out. With the likes of Air Conflicts, Batman, Borderlands, BloodBorne, Doom, F1 2017, Fallout 4, Gravity Rush 2 and many more all there for the playing. That's 300+ games you can currently play for nothing, even if you used a previous PSNow trial, with Trophies and saves. There's a Downloadable section in the app so you can see what's playable.

Having played the updated service on the PS4, there's still the odd bit of lag with the PS Now servers, but mostly it is a positive experience and on the Vita, my Remote Play is usually pretty good. Get going with the free trial at least and see what you can get from it.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Deep Space Rush and Foxyland jump to the Vita

Ratalaika and Bug Studios are bringing more pixel fun to the Vita with Deep Space Rush arriving in October and more projects in the pipeline. The games, including Foxyland are developed in Construct2 or 3, and seem to be another source of games from Ratalaika to port over.

DSR is based on Deep Space, an iOS and Android endless platformer, it looks pretty sharp, checking to see if there are any updates. While Foxyland, and hopefully Foxyland 2, are more traditional platformers with cute little critters leaping about some risky woods.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Review: A Hole New World

A Hole New World answers the question that some of us have been asking since our earliest platform memories. What's below all those horrendous dead-drops we've come across that have consumed so many of our precious lives?

In A Hole New World, dropping into one of those holes results not in death, but in a trip to an Upsidedown-like world Reversee where the rules of physics are reversed and you can use the many tunnels to avoid traps and tricky areas on the surface, and vice versa. Sure other games have used the mechanic to open up new worlds, hide secrets or lure players to their doom, but HNW uses it as a broad theme.

The plot of A Hole New World sees your city invaded by floating or armoured monsters from the Upside Down World! As a Potion Master, you must lob your spells, rather like the fireballs from Ghosts n Goblins to defeat the array of enemies before you. Levels contain secrets to find, and sometimes different routes across the level.

The game is a 750MB download on the Vita, which for a bunch of NES/Spectrum-era pixels (without the colour clash), is a big file, suggesting there's either a huge world under those gaps in the scenery or something else. HNW only has five levels, so checking what the deal is.

As you'd expect of a potions wizard, the game is not about charging at your enemies and taking a few hits. Instead, you need to plan attacks, time jumps and throws to perfection and learn the patterns of the bosses. Unlike so many other games, HNW is happy to flood the screen with enemies rather than have you plod along taking them down one-or-two at a time, which is cool and you have enough lives to experiment with your approach.

Fortunately, there is plenty of food around the place and behind closed doors to keep your health up and checkpoints to save the dreaded back-to-the-start-itis. After you complete the first level, you meet Fay, a fairy, who you can fire as a more direct weapon, and defeating the further end-of-level bosses gives you new potions to throw around.

Unfortunately, HNW isn't totally perfect on the small screen. The shrinkdown from the 2017 Steam original leaves black bats against a dark background invisible, and you'll learn the hard way about all sorts of prickly passages. Also, if you slip back down from a series of complex jumps you can end up in swamp of enemies, and the later bosses seem hard for the sake of it as opposed to challenging your skill.

That said, A Hole New World is a short but joyous romp through the world of pixel platforming with a neat twist, a strong visual "scratchy" style and listenable tunes. With Game + mode, boss rush, challenges and other extras, there's plenty to keep us playing too.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £7.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Hidden Trap
File size 750MB
Progress:  Upside down, boy, you turn me, inside out
(review code provided)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Pantsu Hunter goes physical

Cheeky visual novel Pantsu Hunter isn't all that high on the list of games I'd like to see get a physical release. Yet, here comes EastAsiasoft and PlayAsia with a boxed release for Ascension Dream's game where you get to rummage around the lives of a bunch of nice girls and their linen baskets on the hunt for panties in the name of scientific research, okay!


The usual audio CD, and production run card pad out the offering, but I'm hoping the publishers start looking for more essential physicals that will get our pulses running for the right reasons.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Accel World vs SAO and SD Gundam G hit Play Asia as limited reprints

PlayAsia keeps churning out the reprints with two more-than-welcome Namco re-releases, ACCEL WORLD VS SWORD ART ONLINE for $39.99 and SD GUNDAM G GENERATION GENESIS at $49.99. At just 500 copies each, these will vanish quickly, so get your orders in now.

Retro gaming on your Vita

I'm getting a Mega Drive Mini today (a birthday treat that I can't open until later), and will be pre-ordering the PC Engine CoreGrafx Mini. But, as I have the world's greatest portable in my hands, what can you retro game on the mighty Vita, or a PSP if you have one to hand?

I love a good retro day, not needing to worry about trophies, performance issues and remembering endless controller options. What I do worry is that so many games are hard to find or play, like the Atari vector Star Wars games, or the Bally games like Tapper, Mikie and Spy Hunter (not the terrible modern version) or Irem's Kung Fu Master and Moon Patrol (without going the emulator route).

But for all the holes in the retro world, there's still plenty to enjoy in short retro-bursts. Note: I'm not going into individual releases like the many Mega Man games or upgrades (Ultimate Ghosts n Goblins), that's another article. And yes, I've probably missed a few collections, while others may simply have vanished, nudge me if you remember one that's accessible!

Into the history books

Naturally, there's all the PSP and a decent list of PSone games to grab directly from PSN, including the original Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Rayman and Vagrant Story among others. But that's not very retro is it? (depending on your age I guess). The odd thing is, despite the growing interest in retro, most of the Vita's offerings come from the PSP days.

There's the PSP Mega Drive (or Genesis) Collection, offering Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Phantasy Star and Virtua Fighter 2 among 28 releases of varying quality.

Going even further back, arcade nostalgia fans can grab the two PSP Capcom Classics Collections, that include Street Fighter II (various versions), 1942, 1943, Gun Smoke, Ghosts n Goblins, Mercs, Strider, Black Tiger and many more. And the more you play, the more art and cheats you open up for each game as a reward!

Making this nostalgia trip even stranger is one of the Vita's most recent releases that takes us all the way back to the dawn of gaming with Atari Flashback Classics. This (sold old) physical offering has some 150 games from the early Atari consoles. From the simple fun of Breakout to Tempest, Centipede and many other classics.

American PSN does it better

If you have a Vita with a |US PSN account, you can grab Namco's five PSone retro bundles that include Pole Position, various Pac Man titles, Galaxians, DigDug, Metro Cross, Dragon Spirit and more.

There's also SNK Arcade Classics, with a great roster of beat em ups including Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, plus lots of Metal Slug and sports games. Metal Slug is available in various forms with Metal Slug 3 getting a recent release. Or, if you want to remote play, the 2019 SNK 40th Anniversary PS4 collection.

Physical Options

Annoyingly, a lot of retro compilations never made it to PSN or have been removed over time. Taito Legends Power-Up is another PSP mixed bag with everything from Space Invaders to New Zealand Story and Rastan Saga.


Retro Modern

Even if you don't really have much of an interest in old games but like the aesthetic, there are plenty of new games that ride the retro wave, from Super Life of Pixel, the isometric Lumo to Habroxia, all making use of modern computing power to deliver that classic feel.

And, of course, sometimes interest in an old or abandoned game from the dev community brings us the likes of WindJammers and the shiny Ultracore.

There there are those who pick up and run with classic ideas like H.E.R.O., in the fresh guise of Bobby Bombastic.

All of which means, short of buying those knock off consoles, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy gaming history!

Monday, September 30, 2019

New Vita games rush this way with trophy listings

A few new games popped up as Exophase listings over the weekend. Deep Space Rush is one of those mystery titles, not on Steam and all searches only link to the new trophy listing. They talk about zones and monsters which gives us a fair hint as to what's to come.

Super Box Land Demake we know a little more about, coming from Juliano Lima (aka LightUp Games). Check out his blog, for more info on this fun adventure that comes on the heels of, and looks like an evolved project compared to Super Wiloo Demake (below), next up from him is Milo's Quest which I hope will also make it to the Vita.

Finally, and probably pick of the bunch, is Just Ignore Them from the twisted folk behind My Big Sister. A similar pixel adventure

Also on the way is more wordy fun with Tic-Tac-Letters from Powgi, a single player logic puzzle based on tic-tac-toe. Players start by placing letters so that there are no more than two Xs or Os consecutive in a row or column. Then continue with new letters and larger and more challenging puzzles.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Shovel Knight King of Cards heads to Vita in December

Yacht Club Games has finished off work on the final installments of the Shovel Knight adventure. The final episode is almost a year later than first promised, but hey - these works of genius take time and December isn't all that far away.

Shovel Knight: King of Cards is the final campaign in the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove saga, and it’s bigger and grander than ever! Step into the regal shoes of King Knight, the Gilded Goon himself, as you shoulder bash and spin jump through all those who would oppose your reign! Travel through 4 new worlds and more than 30 all new courses, all on a journey to best the “Three Kings” who lord over the land.  Discover what it takes to become a true monarch, meet a friend or two, and amass a King’s ransom in items and loot! Refined platforming, exquisite visuals, story with heart, action-packed courses, glorious new bosses and more await in Shovel Knight: King of Cards!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Review: Habroxia

Space, the final frontier. These are the - die you mothers! Sorry, some days I feel in peace and cosmic harmony with the gaming world and other times, I just want to blow stuff up. Today is one of the those days and here's Habroxia from Lillymo to provide the drug.

Somewhere between Xenon and the legendary Nemesis comes Habroxia, a sparkling dive into shoot 'em up nostalgia. It throws chrome-tinged vertical and horizontal levels at us with waves of ships firing chunky bullets at your vessel from all directions with a range of growing bosses (why do they have names, when there's no plot?) with heftier firepower and bigger health bars the further you get in.

On its own, it looks nothing too dramatic, but add all the little features and tricks like different bullet types, some of which you can shoot down, together and we have a challenging shooter with some impressive ideas and good use of Trophies to get us perfecting those trigger finger skills. For a start, you are blazing across one of the early levels, and all of a sudden your ship and the action rotates and we get a vertical shooter. Some levels, you have to rescue astronauts, who are tucked away in tricky corners (don't shoot them) and the challenge builds up with a persistent charge.

Along each level there are plenty of power-ups for your rockets, bombs and lasers, risking life and limb to collect them and health for your shields. Also, picking up credits means we can go mad in the store where you can permanently power up your ship to help out on the tougher levels. Each level is packed with asteroids, whoosy-radar things, ground installations and waves of attack craft. Far from bullet hell, you still need your wits about you, but the core levels follow set patterns, so you can learn where to dodge and what to take out first.

The controls are also a bit unusual, the right trigger fires your main weapon, left trigger and the right-stick fire your directional weapons and both triggers launch the third weapon type. The combination has the Vita shaking rather a lot but the alternate controls make more sense, using the shoulder button to boost. (bonus point to the game for having the controls listed in the digital manual!)

In play, there's progress from level to level, with no need to go back to the start. Combos give your score a bit of kick, depending on how long you can avoid enemy bullets, and new modes are unlocked when you reach a particular point. Invasion mode goes vertical with your mission to keep ships from reaching the bottom of the screen while Rescue sees those plucky astronauts in need of assistance.

Habroxia combines some lovely ideas, like the backstories of the astronauts, not some are quite perfectly implemented, while still adding to the sense of drama. A good spacy-handbrake turn sound would really top off the rotation mechanic, while some more imagination in the weaponry department would have been cool. Also, I hate that a space ship can still crash into solid land, surely some sort of collision avoidance is fitted to these things?

The music is rather plinky and doesn't seem to help the atmosphere but there's nothing that really stops this being a great game. With plenty to do beyond the core missions, Habroxia is plenty of fun, looks retro-gorgeous and is just a layer of polish off from being awesome.

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £5.79 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Lillymo Games
File size 37MB
Progress:  Bombs and big bad guys
(review code provided)

Friday, September 20, 2019

Now you can use DualShock 4 for iOS 13 games and iPhone Remote Play, no need for Vita 2?

The latest release of Apple of iOS 13 sees iPhone users easily able to pair a DualShock 4 controller over Bluetooth and play the latest Apple Arcade games.

A rush of launch titles like Oceanhorn 2, Chu Chu Rocket, Mini Motorways, Sonic Racing, EarthNight and around 70 others, with more set to come for a £4.99 monthly subscription make it a tempting move. The update also makes the Sony PS4 Remote Play iOS app usable!

Physically, all you have to do is hold down the PS button and Search on the DS4 for a few seconds with the iPhone's Bluetooth on, and it will appear on your phone, making mobile gaming a whole lot easier to control. I'm sure Android users are way ahead of me on this, and other MFI controllers are available!

Why Sony didn't allow the DS4 controller to take over from the Vita for newer games at any point, either for direct control or more natural remote play, who knows? After all, the Vita has Bluetooth and Remote Play, making it ideal for more flexible gaming.

And it was available long before the PS4 Remote Play app appeared on iOS. The brutal truth of which now makes the idea of a future Vita pretty much redundant. All you need is one of those bondage restraint clamps and your iPhone (or Android) and the DS4 represents the future of portable gaming - still looks butt ugly, but usable. Or, there's the iPad's bigger screen at rest on your legs for in-bed play with a bit less squinting.

Picture taken with my Vita so it still feels part of the family
So, enjoy the Vita as the retro device it now is, with the last of the studio and indie games on the way, as technology is moving on without it. Even a modestly recent iPhone has a way better screen for brightness and resolution, chunky speakers and stronger WiFi.

My little XR is devastatingly powerful with great battery life, making the Vita look like the relic it is, either for remote play or brand new games that Apple can attract with its massive budget to propel the arcade service into people's minds.

Using this super-phone/DS4 partnership, Sony's own developers don't have to worry about hobbled versions of PS5 engines for Vita 2 "exclusive" games, everything will run on the PS5 or PS 5 Pro with 5G streaming for Remote Play at home or away on whatever phone or other device you own.

Just in case you had the tiniest lingering hope of a new portable from Sony, as the new Switch Lite comes to sweep up seasonal sales, why would Sony try to compete when it can let iPhone do the legwork? And having only dabbled in iPhone gaming (Angry Birds, Fieldrunners etc.) this combo feels like a decent, workable, way forward, especially with the Apple Arcade lineup - and when that opens up on Apple TV, who needs a big box console for indies?

Yes, I'd love to see a Vita 2 or an official Sony PS4 Remote Player handheld, but for now this is as good as it gets.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Hole New World falls onto Vita

Hidden Trap has dropped an October release date for A Hole New World, a Unity-engined game announced back in the summer. A busy pixel-platform-shooter with a solid 8-bit-vibe to it, now with a 38-piece Vita trophy listing and a Play Asia limited physical, (1,500 copies), it sees your city being invaded by monsters from the Upside Down World!

As the Potion Master, you must defeat this evil with the help of Fäy, your companion fairy, and your collection of potions! With a wide range of characters across the city, you jump and shoot to fight enemies and bosses to acquire their powers!

Story Mode offers five different worlds, with Game+, Boss Rush Mode, Challenge Mode and multiple endings to keep us playing. There are over 30 different enemies, 7 boss battles and lots of secret characters to discover!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Shooter Habroxia getting a physical Vita LE

Lillymo and Eastasiasoft are bringing a cool-looking retro shooter to the Vita this month, and we get our own little physical LE (just the 1,500 units) too with an audio CD and other goodies. In Habroxia, players blast their way through a myriad of extra-terrestrial incursions through horizontal and vertical levels.

Habroxia features 15 levels with intense boss fights, rescue missions, shifting perspectives and plenty of surprises. A persistent ship upgrade system, three endless side modes, 50 different enemies and 10 unique boss fights should make for plenty of retro space shooting fun.

A Winter's Daydream frosts over the Vita

Answering the age-old question, what happens when your grandma transforms into a cute chick? A Winter's Daydream is a western visual novel coming to the Vita according to a trophy listing (including a platinum). Developed by Ebi-Hime, the plot, if that's what you want to call it, sees 19-year-old Yuu unable to stand his younger sister, Otoko, and the feeling is mutual. 

It’s been almost a year since Yuu saw her last, having escaped his dreary home town to study in the bustling city, but with the advent of New Year’s he finds himself obliged to return to his family to celebrate.
Unfortunately, Yuu’s absence has not softened his younger sister, and Otoko is just as sullen and surly as ever before.
Finding the atmosphere at home unbearable, Yuu decides to escape once more — not to the city this time, but to his grandmother’s snowy, secluded village.
The reunion between grandson and grandmother starts normally at first… until one moonlit night, when the pair witness a star streaking through the sky.
The following morning, Yuu enters the kitchen, still half-asleep, to discover...
“Who are you? What are you doing in my grandmother’s house?”
...that his grandmother has transformed into a cute young girl!
What is the reason behind his grandmother’s drastic change? Will Yuu be able to restore her to her original self? And why is she so adorable?!

The developer has a host of idol and similar games in his archive, with a strong artistic style and reasonable reviews, so here's hoping more head over to the Vita.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Tempest 4K goes physical on PS4, any chance of TxK?

There are many lingering injustices on the Vita, the largest being that one of its finest shooters, Jeff Minter's 2014 vector-fest TxK never got a physical release. If you want to support the old Ox, and I do hope he's getting some cash from this deal between Atari and PQube, then the newer Tempest 4000 for PS4 game is available in boxed form for EU types (the US version has been out for a while).

Hopefully the PS4 release (pic, below) will act as a nudge for someone, somewhere to dig up the Vita version and put that in a pretty blue case, even if we have to import it from Japan!

Cross-dressing romance mystery hits Japan in December

Another romance VN lurks zombie-style into action, hitting the Vita and PS4 in an update to an age old PC release. Koi Suru Otome to Shugo no Tate: Bara no Seibo appears to be about cross-dressing agent for Shield 9 who infiltrates girls schools to solve crimes and mysteries.

Here's a peek at an earlier version's gameplay with English text. It lands just before Christmas in Japan, with no hope of a western release.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Romancing Saga 3 hits the west in November

That's funny, there I was giving the rapidly-shrinking release list its autumnal tidy-up and having confirmed that Romancing Saga 3 is due out in Japan on 11 November, Square only goes and confirms a same day western release too.

Here's the latest trailer with a plot run through, plenty of art and screens, digital-only naturally. No such joy with SaGa Scarlet Grace unfortunately.

Japanese Vita game end of year and TGS roundup

Japan has just a handful of Vita games on the release schedules for 2019, and most are in the updated/pseudo-sequel visual novel vein like Mellkiss from Entergram (first trailer) and Prototype's Cat Wearing Military Shoes (2nd).

Danmachi (3rd) Familia Myth livens things up with some cute RPG action, before possibly the Vita's grand  farewell in the form of Square's Romancing Saga 3, the only major release left by the look of it, arriving on 11 November.

There's still a lot of previously announced games on the release list, but I suspect most of these have already moved to Switch/PS4 only now, like the Chaos;Head Noah remake that I just scrubbed off the list. Fair enough, given the die off in interest, a few others have slipped in to 2020, but I'd be impressed if they ever arrived.

As for Tokyo Game Show, kicking off today, there's literally nothing I can find for the Vita on it, as you'd expect. But it'd be cool to see one or two new titles pop up in the Indie Game Area or a few more physicals.

Oh, here's one an updated visual novel (sigh) - Koi Suru Otome to Shugo no Tate: Bara no Seibo (AXL/Entergram)

Games already announced that should be at the show (but probably not on Vita) include:

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition
Phantasy Star Online 2 latest updates
Romancing Saga 3

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Review: Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s

The Vita's long lineup of Japanese games with an underwear fetish helped make it popular in the west, with the likes of Punch Line, Konosuba, Criminal Girls and Akiba's Trip all delving into some sort of fetish. With Pantsu Hunter, there's no need to wait years for the translation, as its a western effort at the mildly saucy visual novel/adventure from Ascension Dream.

The relatively simple aim is to relieve ladies of their underwear as part of a science experiment. Our "hero" in the guise of the hapless Kenji has a theory about love and knickers. Fortunately, we're only borrowing them from around their homes or the local hot baths by going through some 70s-farce style shenanigans over four chapters with a range of young ladies.  PSA - REMEMBER - stealing pants is still a crime!

With no manual saving, if you screw up then its back to the start. So take notes or make a chart of what helps you progress and what goes wrong. Each girl has a number of panties stashed in their location, and there good, true and many other endings to each segment. To help out, hold down the square button and you'll see all the action points in a scene.

Some interactions are obvious, others require multiple uses or this-item-on-that-object, all laced with 90s nostalgia from VHS machines to computer viruses and more. With  mildly erotic scenes, this isn't a deep game, with about four to five hours of play, with plenty of silly scenes that you might enjoy. Whatever your moral stance, it is gentle and a funny reminder of life if you've ever been a "good friend" to someone.

You can be too nice, too course, plain offensive and easily get booted back to the start. The sepia/pastel tone of the visuals adds a certain charm, and the music has that lounge lizard touch to it. The voice acting is perfect for the roles. while extra scenes reveal the inner pains and desires of the ladies, so if anything the game can teach bone-headed males to look beyond the surface.

Annoyingly, sometimes the text can be read out of order, or doesn't quite make sense. I guess the typeface could be a point larger on the Vita's screen, and there's still long loading times and hefty pauses, even though a recent patch has improved performance. The pace can really drag if you're trying to get back to where you were too, but with a little patience this is a nostalgic little trip through the perils of meeting and winning the hearts (or pants) of young ladies.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £7.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Ascension Dream/Sometimes You
File size 669MB
Progress:  Found some pants
(review code provided)

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Review: Himno

Himno is a game of many levels. There are the character levels Himno goes up by exploring, dashing and collecting sparkly gems along the way. There are also the many physical levels you jump up and descend to find the exit to each "District", lighting torches to reveal more of the world. Then there are level wisps that you find from time to time, collect those (assuming your level is the same or higher) and you get a special power like extra jumping height and much more.

That's a lot to absorb from this ambient adventure where there's no real plot, no real goal and the only way you can die is by falling into the water at the bottom of each level. Exploration of the procedurally generated levels is done through jumps, wall jumps, wall hangs, dashes and using rising platforms to find the exit portal, that can be anywhere on the level.

The worst of these exits are by the water margin, often through a tiny gap, as you can risk a high level for a few tricky jumps to get there, with the slightly fidgety controls likely to fail you at the wrong moment. If you do get stuck, or don't want to risk instant death, you can teleport back to the start and try and find a different route.

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of the game is you can't look down to see what's below - turning you into a foolhardy leaper or a total coward, as the sound of the lapping water gets louder.

All the while, you are leveling up and maybe wondering what the hell is going on? But the game gives no real clues. Why does Himno have a sword if he/she never uses it? Why are the wisps here, what's the purpose of the garden at the start? Where did all the lights go? Or what powers the crazy bouncing lightning that can propel you across the level.

I do like Himno, with its great atmospherics and evolving ambient soundtrack, but a hint of justification for these actions would have been lovely. Also, one minute you can be bouncing along the level quite happily with a great sense of achievement, and suddenly one mistimed jump or failed action sees you plummeting away to the depths, or sometimes you just can't find a way to the finish and feel very deflated, which prevents the game getting a higher score.

The game is also very dark, hard to play on a Vita OLED in the daylight. I tried it on the PS4 and the controls feel more responsive and there's less of a light issue, but you would lose the gorgeous glows on the Vita's OLED.

Between this and Legend of the Skyfish, the Vita's indie credentials have had a good boost in recent weeks, here's hoping it continues.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Breakfast Studio/Grab the Game/Ratalaika
File size 123MB
Progress:  Platinum
(review code provided)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Gory tale Distraint hits Vita next week

How wide is the Vita's screen? I hope its enough to cram in the super-wide display mode used by disturbing adventure DISTRAINT: Deluxe Edition, and still be readable! Distraint is a 2D psychological horror adventure game with very adult themes that tells the story of Price, a young man who forecloses on an old woman’s apartment.

UPDATE: Trophy list out

After seizing her home, his humanity is now gone - must be common for most yahoo-banking types. So begins his tale of regrets and blood & gore as he creeps through different locations, learning the backstory of Price and his motivations that led him down this dark path. Progress through the somber story by solving light puzzles across a variety of different scenarios and settings!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Review Vasara Collection

All I really want in life is the original Raiden on my Vita, but all PSN throws at me is Raiden V on PS4. Lacking that or my other fave shooter Ikaruga, here comes Vasara Collection to scratch my shmup itch.

In Tate Mode it offers a great dose of blasting fun across two games, but in regular mode the screen is too small and busy to do the games justice. Even with the pretty character art down the sides.

Note, the Vita version lacks the shiny new Timeless mode of the Steam/PS4 version and four-player mode, but that's not really a reason to pass on these smart shooters. On PlayStation TV, you do get two-player mode! Also note, the Strictly Limited physical release of 1,200 copies sold out in a minute, so PSN it is.

In Vasara, a pair of Visco shooters from the turn of the century, sci-fi tech meets fuedal Japanese history, with shogunates and lords shouting their curses as you race into battle. You can pick from a range of different pseudo-historical characters and their flying motorbike-type ships to ride, with modest speed and weapon power differentials. Then its into battle, hammering away at the enemy waves with the screen full of red gems for your melee power, power-ups for your weapons and endless streams of bullets to dodge.

The action starts out hectic and only gets madder as you go, but you can use those melee attacks and its ultimate form when the red Vasara gauge is full to repel bullets and powerful bombs to wipe out the enemy waves and the many, many boss ships. Vasara has branching paths and you'll need full concentration to slip through the massive barrages coming your way.

I love the core shooter part of the game, then though this probably a touch over my limit for bullet hell, or I'm getting worse as I get older. Also, the bikes seem a little large for the screen, but there's options to play on easy and add a bunch of continues in Free Play.

Hanging on in there until the Vasara gauge is often the only way to survive. I could do without the shouty interruptions too, but there's too much on my plate to worry about collecting the gold that falls from ground targets.

Such is the pace of the action, and as the screen fills with bullets and collectables, it does get overwhelming, especially when enemies drop huge flags when defeated. Also, when losing a life, your power-up tokens flock to the top of the screen and are a major risk to recover, usually coming down in a mix of gunfire.

When playing, I had little idea what the graphics actually looked like, as there's little time to focus. Watching some YouTube videos, the ground targets look a bit messy, with most of the love going on the pre-rendered 3D-like bosses, who are impressive beasts. The explosions look a little weedy, but on the Vita in the middle of the action, you really don't have time to notice and they look better and brighter on the OLED than these screenshots suggest.

With some impressive enemy designs, and a good blast of gaming history to enjoy, grab Vasara and lose yourself in the battle. It might not last too long, but there's plenty of carnage to enjoy.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £8.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: QuByte/Strictly Limited
File size 190MB
Progress:  Shot stuff, had fun!
(review code provided)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Review Legend of the Skyfish

The Skyfish is a nasty rascal by all accounts. But, fair enough, if humans ravage the seas for all the fish, he's going to be a bit grumpy and we deserve everything we get as his fishy army take to the land and cast the people into the sea. Imagine how cross he'll be in the presumed sequel when modern man does nothing but dump plastic and garbage in the oceans.

Yet, somehow, the unnamed hero/heroine thinks the way to make things right will be to kill all the fishy monsters and solve puzzles to rescue their family - rather than restock the seas or eat less fish. Anyway, eco message over - enter Legend of the Skyfish,
This is a charming puzzler set across many tiny islands that sees the lead character helped by the Moonwhale and armed with a swiss-army knife fishing pole that can slash at enemies, pull things toward the player and pull enemies onto traps to avoid direct combat. Its a clever mechanic, using the right stick to aim the rod, which can be improved by augmentations like the Fish Slasher and Flash Caster as you venture further into the game.

Across islands, swamps and dry seabeds, you have to solve the increasingly complex puzzles, mostly opening gates or removing obstacles, while you get to dodge or battle enemies and avoid many multi-layer traps to defeat the end of level bosses like the giant armoured Grulak with his various attacks.

While the big monsters look a little scary, this is a game any young player can enjoy as the pace is fairly gentle and there's time to think about the problems around you. Each small step to success is rewarded with perky sound cues so you know you can move on. Checkpoints refill your life too on the larger levels, and there's the odd life heart dotted around in some of the more active areas of a level.

Charming in design, use of colour, with some neat water effects, suitable tunes and with fun enemies like the puffer fish and hermit crab, plus a little firefly friend to guide you to the game's treasures, Legend of the Skyfish has plenty of panache to draw you in.

It could do more with the various weapon types, and it is odd that can hack down an armoured beast but can't break through a small line of shrubbery to progress, or why not cut up mushrooms for health? But there you go, there's still plenty of dodging and puzzling to keep you mind on the mission.

Perhaps the only quirk of the game is that you can get near the end of a level and move to a "new" portal only to realise its an old one that takes you back to the start of the level, requiring a quick runaround to reach the exit.

Another slight annoyance is the iOS original had large full screen text and touch controls, that the Vita version loses as the focus is on the big-screen ports, still that doesn't detract from the overall joy of playing this cute-as-a-button adventure. Except for a few spots where the accuracy of touch would beat the stick, especially when timed switches have you racing against the clock.

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Mgaia/Crescent Moon/Ratalaika
File size 87MB
Progress:  Third World
(review code provided)

Monday, September 2, 2019

Chill with ambient platformer Himno, soon on Vita

Himno (Spanish for Anthem) is billed as "a peaceful, 2D platformer game with an infinite number of beautiful procedurally generated maps. Take a breath, and relax." Which after the recent rash of hectic pixel jump-die-repeat games will come as a bit of fresh air to harried Vita owners.

UPDATE: Himno hits PSN this week

A trophy listing suggests an imminent release for a game that tipped up on Steam earlier in the year. Developed by David Moralejo Sánchez, it has some stellar ratings and reviews, and looks pretty slick too, with a great ambient atmosphere.

Hope the screen is zoomed in a little for the Vita version rather than dinkifying those already tiny pixel characters, but otherwise I hope to be charmed and impressed by little Himno's adventures.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Review: Mekabolt

I guess I could copy and paste the Gravity Duck review for this, since its from the same developer and publisher with just a slight tweak to the mechanics, but that would be rude.

Mekobolt offers a slight twist on the typical platforming challenge, where in some mad theme park (set across several types of terrain suspiciously similar to Gravity Duck), you need to get the batteries across a series of super-short 10-20 second levels.

The robots can be shot with the Mekobolt gun to pause them, allowing you to use them to spring, climb or to get them to fire their weapons in another direction to open up new parts of each level. It makes no sense, where's the theme park, why are the robots operating if their batteries have been removed? Who did it? Why and How? None of which get answered as we score another Platinum trophy in 20 minutes.

Things do get a little more exciting in the Command Center levels near the end with teleports and other tricks, but it still all feels remarkably similar. Still, this is a cute enough game with slightly brighter graphics than Gravity Duck, a modest spurt of challenge. But, again, no secrets, no clever tricks or dive into a hint of plot exploration, which is a big shame - the developer has got the mechanics right, but could easily expand their next projects to offer us a little more depth or challenge.

Score: 5/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Somepx/Ratalaika
File size 49MB
Progress:  Platinum
(review code provided)

Legend of the Skyfish hooks the Vita soon

Having moaned a bit recently about all the very-similar puzzlers hitting the Vita, while being aware that we must take what we're offered, Skyfish looks rather different, with great art and a clever game mechanic.

Update: game out on the 27/28th August.

Legend of the Skyfish from Mgaia, ported to the Vita by Ratalaika, is an adventure puzzle game with a fishing twist. Originally a 2017 Steam and mobile game, it comes to console with the fishing rod as Little Red Hook's key tool to solving puzzles and making progress in her journey with the Moonwhale to defeat the monstrous Skyfish.

Porting work is complete according to Ratalaika, so hopefully we'll be enjoying the charm of this hook and line puzzle before summer ends.

Using her fishing pole as a weapon or a grappling hook, puzzles stretch over several islands, she can also upgrade it for new skills,

Legend of the Skyfish looks gorgeous and is made from beautiful hand-painted art, intricate action puzzles and unique enemies over a huge world of 45 handcrafted levels. Features include:

  • Unique fishing/grappling hook mechanics
  • Gorgeous hand-painted environments and creatures
  • Original music score by Sean Beeson
  • 45 handcrafted levels
  • Epic boss fights
  • Many items to find and use
  • Various puzzles to solve
  • Great for all ages!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Review: Gravity Duck

Gravity Duck offers a clever twist on the platforming challenge, where jumping puts you on the ceiling or back on the floor, and going through a gravity gate puts you on walls. With that in mind you need to navigate tricks and traps, bats, spitting vegetables and other threats to collect golden eggs at the end of each of the 140-some levels.

Set across a forest, underground, mountains and city backdrops, each puzzle adds a smidge of complexity or challenge, with the joy of doing it all again if you get it wrong. The Duck is on this mission, charged by a stone totem to collect the eggs, and that's about it for the plot but you have little time to worry as arrow blocks and laser beams start triggering to impede your progress.

The first few levels show you the gravitational ropes, and then its a matter of finding the solution to reach the end of each level. There's plenty of mistakes to make along the way as parts of the level can be obscured, or you time a jump just as the sliding block comes back at you. Still, its another easy platinum to the collection and the later levels to pack a fearsome challenge.

Gravity Duck is another neat challenge of narrow pixel escapes for Vita owners, but there are seriously too many of these coming thick and fast now, hot on the heels of Hoggy2, Awesome Pea and many more.  If someone wants to up their game, add some plot, add different routes, add secrets, add anything to make it just a little different.

Score: 6/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Somepx/Woblyware/Ratalaika
File size 29MB
Progress:  Platinum
(review code provided)

Mekabolt riveting its way to the Vita soon

The Vita trophy listing for Mekabolt is up, there are signs of dev-types playing it on the Vita, so I guess another pixel-fun puzzle arcade game is on the way, likely to coincide with the Steam release.

UPDATE: The game is live now on the UK PSN.

Crafted by solo dev and pixel artist Somepx, their first effort, and published by Ratalaika, it is described as a game where you "Use your trusty Mekabolt device to manipulate robots, solve a variety of puzzling levels and obtain batteries to fix the robots!" It looks like a pretty classy use of pixels, set in a theme park where the technician has to collect batteries to repair the haywire robots, over 100 levels of increasingly fiendish puzzles.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Pantsu Hunter brings love to the Vita

Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s is a fun adult visual novel about a retro love quest, ported by Sometimes You to the Vita landing at the end of August. Don't get too aroused though, as noted by the dev: "Warning: It's not kind of "18+" game at all so don't expect any nudity or sex scenes here (at least in console versions), but it's more recommended for adult players anyway. Especially if you're still remember 90s atmosphere."

Trophy listing here. Also be aware of a tech issue with the Vita port. "There's a known problem in Vita version with memory leaks which could happen if you'll try to play all of girls stories in a row. Highly recommended to play one chapter at the time and restart the game after."

Monday, August 12, 2019

Gravity Duck falls to Vita this week

The Ratalaika/Wobylware port of Ravenous' Gravity Duck hits the Vita this week on PSN, here's a video of the Flash/mobile original but I'm guessing not a lot has changed as there's been next to no posts or promotion about it. Jump between floor and ceiling (not too dissimilar to Hoggy2) and use the gravity deflectors to stick to walls, navigate the increasingly tricky spike-laden, cute monster-filled levels, etc.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Shooter Habroxia heads to the Vita soon

Artist/designer WanyoDos and developer/publisher Lillymo (Perils of Baking) are bringing a shiny new chrome-tinged pixel shooter to the Vita and PS4, and I love a fun little pixel shooter. Not much detail yet or a video, but the trophy listing (with a Platinum) is up, suggesting an imminent release and the screens reveal a mix of horizontal and vertical action, big bosses and plenty of power-ups.

Habroxia should be hitting the Vita early Autumn.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Review: Hoggy2

I've skipped reviewing a couple of recent Ratalaika ports like Bouncy Bullets and Toy Tanks, that have drably failed to grab my attention. But Hoggy2 has that look of class to it that makes it worth a deeper play.

What happened to the original Hoggy is my first question, and it turns out that was a 10-year old iPhone game. The sequel came out on Steam a couple of years ago. Which explains the bright and cheery graphics now doing the rounds on most consoles. Seriously, Hoggy2 is a splendid explosion of colour and fruity graphics on the OLED screen.

At first glance it appears to be a mix of match 3 games and a platformer, but as your Hoggy heroes see their kids swiped by snappish Moon Men, it turns into a more complex affair with skills, traps and challenges to overcome if they have any hope of seeing the little Hoglings again.

The early levels are pretty simple, your Hoggy, a jelly-like creature, has a main of skill of being able to stick to the ceilings, defying gravity, so floors and the undersides of platforms are all avenues to progression, replacing the usual jump mechanic.

Each level is broken down into a series of jars you jump into Mario-style, opening up a little section where you need to get all the fruit, to get a key or a bunch of them, to open up the next area etc etc. With sturdy progression curve along the way, it soon gets trickier than it looks with over 200 levels to play through.

Blocks and obstacles need to be overcome using your own powers (by eating acorns) or using the cute little nasties to do the work, with bombs, eight-balls and other power-ups helping along the way. Each puzzle is tightly designed, and constantly introduces new elements like bouncing clouds, flame pits and other things to navigate with different solutions (and ways to die) constantly on offer. Note, there is a kid's mode if you want to let younger gamers play at reduced difficulty.

If you do get stuck, a tap of the triangle button resets the level instantly, and you can try again, it should only take a couple of efforts to figure out the right way to win the key. Hoggy2 comes with a fun drag-and-drop level maker if you fancy a go at your own designs. In short bursts, Hoggy2 is surprising fun and a great little challenge. The levels become hectic with enemies, bosses requiring a basic strategy to defeat.

Looking lovely and providing plenty of quick-burst fun, Hoggy2 is one of the better recent ports to the Vita, and hopefully signs of uptick in quality.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Raptisoft/Ratalaika
File size 39MB
Progress:  A few jars downed
(review code provided)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Distraint to disturb Vita owners soon

Distraint is a 2015 Steam release from Jesse Makkonen, a pixel adventure with dark overtones of psychological horror. The game has gained an impressive stack of positive reviews and sees anti-hero Price seizing the property of an elderly woman to gain a partnership in a famous company, but among the corporate evil-doing, he finds out the price of his humanity. Ratalaika Games is on porting duty, with an imminent release.

Jesse is currently working on an atmospheric puzzle/adventure Heal, about an old man making his way in the world, with no speech or text to distract from the ambiance.

Super Wiloo Demake hits consoles inc Vita this week

The original Wiloo from LightUp (Juliano Lima) hit Steam a couple of years back and this week all consoles get a new version in the form of Super Wiloo Demake, ported by Ratalaika. Wiloo is a faithful hound kidnapped by aliens, his owner is off to the rescue across a cheery 8-bit platform landscape, perfect for that Vita OLED.

No videos yet, but more gifs on his feed...

The demake brings new graphics and gameplay elements, and comes hot on the heels of Hoggy2, Mochi Mochi Boy and Bouncy Bullets as Ratalaika's porting portal runs at warp speed.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Tower of Beatrice adds some puzzling to the Vita

I was really enjoying The Witness thanks to PS+ on the PS4 via Remote Play recently, and even on the big screen, it looks like a game you could play on the Vita - maybe with a few more loading screens. Still, if you fancy some puzzle action,  The Tower of Beatrice, a year-old Steam game from Fairy Forsest, is headed to the Vita, judging by a trophy listing, providing point-and-tap puzzling.

It doesn't look too disimilar to Access Denied, but with a distinct gothic feel to it. The official blurb reads:

The life of a thief isn’t easy: always hiding in shadows, clients cheat, traps bite…

Working on a contract for a mysterious client, you'll need to infiltrate the tower of the powerful sorcerer Beatrice, steal her Book of Recipes, and get out alive.

Along the way you will enter a demon's dreams to discover his most intimate desires, accept a gift from a Granny-spider, start the Clock Tower, feed a snail, make a tea for a demon, piece together a skeleton, and finally fix your own fatal failing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mochi Mochi Boy puzzles the Vita

PixelTeriyaki's Mochi Mochi Boy is a recent puzzle game heading to the Vita soon thanks to Ratalaika. If nothing else, it looks cute and lively, with players needing to fill all the tiles in a stage to progress. PixelTeriyaki's previous work includes Super Weekend Mode and hopefully he has other distinctive projects underway that would look good on the Vita,

Thursday, July 11, 2019

In Celebration of Violence mugging the Vita

A tweet by the very busy Dolores Entertainment suggests another fun pixel rogue-splatter fest is headed our way. A year-old Steam game originally from Julian Edison, it has plenty of very positive reviews and looks like a bloodbath of fun, described as a fantasy action roguelike of exploration and murder where you live, kill, die, improve, live again.

New Blue Wings trailer from Experience

Call it Students of Round, Chevalier of Blue Wings or whatever, here's the remake that represents Experience Inc's final offering for the Vita. Cue soaring strings, arty scenes of battles and maps succumbing to angry colours. There's some character bios near the end and some dinky screens, The game is out in a couple of weeks in Japan only.

Update: Trophies are live if you're keen on importing.

Shakedown Hawaii mega-patch goes live

Vblank continues to deliver the goods, keeping the content and extra goodies to the top-down mayhem. A new patch brings the game up to version 1.04 and is a mere 43MB. Called The Full Tank update, it adds:
  • New vehicles including tanks
  • More enforcement types including agents
  • A zoomed-out camera option
  • New shakedown mission scenarios
  • Heat system to shakedowns
  • Off-island travel from the airport
  • Vehicle purchasing
  • Transferring funds to other characters
  • Game console in living room is now playable
  • Improves property selection on map screen
  • Plus bug fixes and more, many detailed in this new trailer. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Nintendo confirms Sony was right with the Switch Lite

In a totally unsurprising move, Nintendo has revealed the Switch Lite (aka the Vita 2), releasing in September at $199 and looking remarkably like Sony's humble handheld. Like the Vita there will be no TV-out and unlike the original Switch, it won't connect to a base unit for big-screen play, so this is basically the Vita with some modern processors and a not much better 720p 5.5" screen, unless they've sneaked an OLED in.

The biggest plus is the 32GB of built-in storage, plus expandability, so none of that Sony memory card stupidity! Here's the typically horrendous lifestyle video, no fat people in pants, no 3AM binge gaming, at least bookended by the more usual Nintendo intro and features guides.

Unlike the Vita, the Switch lite will have 2,000 games at launch, and come in pretty colours in the west - tempted by turquoise! Millions of Switch users looking for a better on-the-go unit, hopefully with better controls and feel, are probably pre-ordering right now.

Some early comments are hating on the no-TV angle, but Nintendo knows its market and this gives it a couple of years more bumper sales in Japan certainly, and probably pretty good in the west, until the Switch 2/Pro hits in 2020/21 (guessing)! Other comments are "oh, its a Vita!" which is amazing since apparently no one knew what a Vita was!

Hopefully Nintendo makes it easy to move accounts and games over! Is it a shame there's no secret 3DS game port and emulator in the hardware? Probably, that would have been cool and see Ninty follow MS and Sony in making retro or better-retro easier, just like the Vita did. For non-handheld games (see that video), you can play with your current Joy-Cons or go buy a set. So, like the original Switch, the Lite has that slight air of kludge to it.

Also more noticeably missing now its a full portable device are the range of media apps, Netflix, Spotify, iPlayer, Hulu and so on. Hopefully Nintendo is on the case getting those and other apps for the Lite.

And to think Sony just gave away this market, forgetting the Japanese traditional long-term business outlook for some short-term western thinking! A 2016 Vita 2 with HD, dual-sticks, better WiFi/4G stack for improved PS4 Remote Play and a proper marketing campaign would have at least kept Sony in the game.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Eastasiasoft and Dolores bring disco and battling to the Vita

Eastasiasoft continues to deliver the goods for Vita owners with two new games, UnderCoder's Conga Master Go and MadGear's A Hole New World, both ported by Dolores, this month. That's alongside physical releases of Arcade Distillery's War Theater and Mecho Wars.

Both games come with manuals, soundtrack CDs and the physical Vita card, showing that physical releases are still a thing! Conga Master, a 2016 PC title, is a pixel dance/puzzle arcade game as you have to keep the disco line moving while it grows. A Hole New World is an arcade platformer with plenty of jumping and shooting fun.

Line up if you like them as the collectibility only seems to be getting more intense for Vita games. Release dates are spread over the month to keep your wallet from crying too much.

• 11th July: Conga Master Go!
• 18th July: War Theatre / Mecho Wars: Desert Ashes
• 25th July: A Hole New World

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Attack of the Toy Tanks live on PSN

With Toy Story 4 out, there's always that more combative side in our nature that wants to see the military toys go to war, a la Small Soldiers. Attack of the Toy Tanks borrows that idea, and the Wii mini-game from Wii Play to bring some fun 3D battling to the Vita, thanks to Petite Games and Ratalaika.

Out now on PSN for £3.99, with lasers, traps and tricky level design, its a fun challenge (review up soon).

Monday, June 24, 2019

Kid Tripp tips up on Vita this week

Kid Tripp pops up on the PS4 and Vita this week, with the little lad having crash landed on a mysterious island, where there's lots of running and jumping required to avoid the pesky wildlife. A harsh platformer, it came out on Switch and mobile over a year ago, features include:

• Super challenging, fast paced platforming action.
• Silky smooth 60 frames per second.
• 20 levels, spread over 4 worlds.
• Super cute pixel art by Mike Burns.
• Old school soundtrack from Chris Kukla.
• Optional challenges to test players' skills to the max.

Review: My Big Sister

You can take all the polygons and effects you like and throw them at the next Resident Evil, other zombie game or if anyone had a go the Ring series. But the core human emotion of watching someone they love turn into that "other" be it a mutant, witch or zombie cannot be expressed with visual splatter.

That's why My Big Sister works so well, as a little girl and her big sister, Luzia and Sombria, stumble through nightmarish adventures in tiny pixels, where your imagination fills in the gaps between those pixels and whatever full-screen HD blockbusters you've seen.

From home to hospital, to an endless journey via the sewers and a witchy bathhouse, there's plenty of sweet little detail in the game, but its the weird approach to horror that makes My Big Sister a pleasant surprise with lots of little twists. Play it in the dark with headphones on, and its easy to get emotionally involved in this strange tale.

Gameplay is straight forward, with a little exploring to find a thing, use it find the next thing, or give it to one of the pleasantly freakish cast. Alerts show when you're near something useful, and while some things look like an exit but aren't there isn't anything like a false/padded feel to the story.

There are a few decisions to make, but with enough save points to make going back and forth no trouble, but the game really hinges on who's telling the truth and who's lying, plus that visual novel staple of a few good and bad endings to find, through choices, or simply standing in the right/wrong place.

The adventure runs a couple of hours long with tight, focused environments usually a few rooms each. Finding and using items is probably less than half the story. That's as you meet all sorts of oddball otherworldly characters and figure out what the real plot is behind the story that seems doomed to repeat itself.

In development terms, I think this is the first Adventure Game Studio title to hit the Vita after Ratalaika built a porting tool. Hopefully that means plenty more adventure games heading our way to supplement the string of arcade and VN titles. With sharp visuals, a fun soundtrack that backs up each segment perfectly and just enough game to make it worthwhile, I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship with AGS.

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £4.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher: Stranga/Ratalaika
File size 198MB
Progress:  A good ending, some bad ones

Friday, June 21, 2019

Sci-fi VN Gnosia out in Japan

My baby is an acid-tinged, neon-tinted headfuck, to paraphrase The Wildhearts! That appears to be the case in Gnosia a new Vita-exclusive out-in-Japan visual novel from Mebius. Trophy listing here, if you care, and the trailer doesn't give much away about the fake humans in space plot!

The term Gnosia means being able to recognize the form and the nature of people and things; the faculty of perceiving and recognizing. And there appear to be werewolf-type characters hiding in human skin, I think.

UPDATE: The game scored a 10/10 from IGN's Japanese site and is worth a translated read. Wonder if Famitsu will be suitably impressed? If they are, perhaps a wider release for the game is possible, and maybe even a bit of a boost in Vita interest in Japan.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Students of Round remake trailer from Experience

The PSP Students of Round DRPG is apparently so popular in Japan that Experience Inc. thought they would remake it as their last Vita title. That's cool of them, but then they thought, we know, let's change the name to "Blue-Winged Chevalier" - which doesn't make much sense. On the plus side, they are also throwing in Stranger of Sword City Revisited as part of the deal.

The naming silliness aside, buyers will get a remastered RPG with new character art, a character builder option and more optional quests to undertake. The game lands in July and is Japanese only. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

New Konosuba Labyrinth of Hope trailer

Entergram has up a quick advert and a few minutes of gameplay of its DRPG with a host of cute enemies to defeat, out later this month in Japan. Labyrinth of Hope and Gathering Adventurers was announced last year, and you can now check out the website for more information and images.

Not sure if the quick animated clips for every battle move will make this insanely annoying, guess there's a quick battle mode to get rid of them, but it shouldn't take that much effort to beat up one one green frog!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Cybarian heads to the Vita soon

Kickstarted last year for Steam, Ritual Games and Ratalaika are bringing the arcade-classic-era style game to the PS Vita soon. Bringing back memories of Rygar with a sci-fi twist, Cybarian: The time travelling warrior looks really tight with plenty of side-scrolling violence that should look great on the small screen.

Ritual's next game is the even better looking Gun Crazy, so I hope enough people pick Cybarian up to encourage all concerned to bring that over to the Vita.