Thursday, January 17, 2019

Japanese otome games still popping out for Vita

Variable Barricade, Golden Corda Octave (out mid-February) , Panic Palette (already out), Nora and Princess and Stray Cat Heart 2 - so many mad names, and still a few games or DLC headed to the Vita. Check out the clips dug up during my latest trawl through the Japanese publisher YouTube channels.

What was good to see is the number of playthroughs for even pretty obscure titles that came west (or didn't with people relying on fan subs of Google translate) to get through the stories.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Heroes Trials goes questing on Vita thanks to Ratalaika

Shinyuden's RPG adventure Heroes Trials has made its way over to the Vita thanks to Ratalaika, landing on January 22/25th on PSN with a Platinum Trophy up for grabs. Two heroes with different attack styles go exploring in a four-hour-or-so compact adventure that dumps the endless cinematics and plot waffle of big-budget RPGS for rapid action and progress.

Check out the trailer and we'll have a little competition with codes and Heroes Trials toys soon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Firmware 3.70 arrives for Vita, brace yourselves!

Things Sony could do in a firmware update:

Improve the LiveTweet Twitter app to support 280 characters and multiple image uploads.
Update the Browser to better support YouTube and other vital popular sites
Show free card space on the information bar at the top of the screen
Tweaking the PS4 Link app for stronger WiFi connection, or give us more data, than just the weak connection icon, as Remote Play is an increasingly common use.
Make global sharing with PS3 happen so we can play any game remotely too.

Things Sony's latest 3.70 firmware app does:


Seriously Sony, a little love as you kick the barn door shut?

Specifically, the Vita homebrew community has had a look and notes changes to the Calendar and Near Apps, presumably to defeat any future hacking attempts, rather than improving them for users.

Dreamwalker pops up on the EU PSN store

Code Mystic's Dreamwalker hit the US PSN around new year, but takes its bow in Europe today, hot on the heels of a pesky firmware update. The game may only be £1.99 but it has an official site, which is more than most titles get these days.

Note, it is on the UK store, and I've paid for it but the game isn't downloading yet, may be up later in the day.

A puzzle maze game, the hero is walker, a character after my own heart who just wants a good night's sleep. Rearrange the clouds to create a path through to sunrise without getting woken up.

Do support Code Mystics, they managed to get the coming-soon Atari Flashbacks Classics on Vita, and if sales do enough hopefully future titles too!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Fresh Catherine Full Body JP trailer

Okay, so there are some very quiet murmurs that the Vita version might not be coming west. But in a minor "up yours" to Atlus I recommend we all buy the Japanese version (the Dynamite limited edition is excellent) and spam Atlus's Twitter feed with photos of it, every minute of every day after release on 14 February.

UPDATE: Note the new screenshots out of Japan show a smattering of English in the game...

Here's the latest trailer, to get you suitably excited.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Media Create Vita sales firm at the end of 2018 in Japan

Update: Had the Famitsu figures originally, changed to MC numbers, which are better!

The delayed Media Create sales figures for the last week of 2018 have turned up, showing that the Vita sold over 3,500 units, making for almost 13K sales in the month of December, and trundling along nicely, if you ignore that it sold over 14K in one week alone in 2017's holiday sales.

Things perked up a bit more for the first week of 2019, with the Vita shifting over, 4,100 units. Surely exports are now playing a key role in those sales?

This is probably the last chart I'll write up, unless there's some crazy sales move or a Vita release actually hits the game chart, but will continue to tweet the sales figures and chart over 2019. Total sales are over 5.95 million, already a million down on the newer Switch, a couple down on Japanese PS4 sales and trillions below 3DS/2DS sales. So, not a sales success, but still an awesome piece of hardware.

Life with a Vita in 2019

As we settle into 2019 like a new pair of shoes, Vita life seems remarkably good for a dead console. New developers like kFunction are delivering great games with Scintillatron, and Sony is still providing dev kits to coders (probably grudgingly by now).

Also, random trophy listings continue to pop up out of nowhere, and there's still plenty of activity from physical publishers even as the cut off for physical cart production in the west looms.

As a day-one Vita owner three things still worry me, what happens when Sony stops making the memory cards - and why hasn't it cut the prices to encourage people to stock up? Also, shouldn't there be a mandatory notification period before any game (cough, LEGO!) vanishes from PSN?  Finally, what happens when all the Vita hardware is gone?

ps vita 2019

Those concerns aside, here we are and there's still a decent list of games on the way, even if a few drop off the radar due to developers not having the bandwidth or struggling to port titles to an ancient bit of silicon. But what a piece of hardware, iPhone has moved on six or seven generations since the Vita launched, yet Sony's portable continues to deliver games that shame or on a par with most mobile fodder.

Even as the games drop off, more people seem to be finding the Vita as their favourite way to play visual novels, the Tomb Raider archive, JRPGs, other PS One classics (especially after the PlayStation Classic Mini farcical launch) and indies-on-the-go.

Remote Players are also getting on-board, perhaps spurred, ironically, by the success of the Switch. And, as Microsoft looks to some sort of hybrid future, there's still a good chance that Sony will respond with a PS5 Remote Play unit - HD, many triggers and a good WiFi stack. Maybe there is a Sony portable future of some kind - which we'll need as Vita prices continue to rise, and old hardware inevitably begins to fail - how do we pass preserve these valuable single-format game collections or pass them on to others?

Game On in 2019

Back to the good stuff, and a few hundred thousand (at a guess) western Vita enthusiasts are still loving handheld life. And why not, with a device that still looks this good, that happily plays many recent pixel games and whose launch titles still look better than most of the Switch's output (while laughing at Nintendo's idea of battery life), what's not to like? Gamers are snapping them up from Japan and second hand stores, getting on board and finding what makes Vita so special.

I can understand attention-deficit types getting fed up of their old hardware and moving on, but anyone who has invested time and money in a decent Vita collection, why sell it? If you have eight years of games to play, with many that aren't on any other system, why give them up.

I've forgotten most of the finer details in Uncharted, Assassin's Creed Liberation, Killzone many of the other major league efforts - and with fewer new games there's more time for a replay, with most collectors having a healthy rotation of old and new to keep us happy. Even with a Switch, PS4 and Xbox One in the house, I could play any game on anything, but the Vita is still my perfectly-formed OLED play-anywhere box.

About the Apps, Sony

Even the apps still prove useful, getting #PSVitaShare images up via the old Twitter that's still limited to 140 characters and loads the browser to show tweet links. Until recently, YouTube worked fine and I've found plenty of lite or text-only sites that provide news and information far faster than the modern mobile sites can manage.

Yes, the store app is poorly updated, with Sony's crack-addled trainee failing to add new games on a regular basis. Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight still isn't on the front of UK store (perhaps two similar games confused the poor fool).

All these features need is the tiniest bit of Sony love and Vita could easily be fit for some purpose in 2020 and beyond, but hey - we can't have everything right?

A Fond Farewell

What does irritate me most is that Sony has no idea how to do a good sendoff. There must be a number of near complete games or easy updates lurking in the archive and all it takes is a bit of effort to say thanks for sticking around with a Vita version of LocoRoco or something else.

But will Sony bother? No, because generating any news about Vita goes against its forward-looking philosophy, which is just damn weird. I still kinda hope another company buys the Vita designs and IP, and launches a vanilla non-PS console just to keep the life flowing. Perhaps that a question someone can ask a Sony boss next time they see them.

But, all the biz lunacy aside, let's get gaming into 2019, the rest of the world might not care, but this is my gaming life, and Vita is still great fun!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Pic-A-Pix Pieces on PSN

The Pic-A-Pix series continues to bloom on the Vita offering fun puzzling wherever you go. Now on PSN for £6.49, the latest installment, Pieces, offers a big sack of picture logic games, where whimsical pixel-art pictures are created by solving puzzles.

In Pic-a-Pix Pieces, large pictures have been split into a number of smaller pieces. Each piece is a puzzle grid, and by solving them all you’ll form a mosaic that reveals a spectacular final image. A flexible colourblind mode has previously received high praise for allowing access to players who are often excluded from colour-based puzzles.

The time-trial trophies from previous games have gone, leaving players to finish them without a time pressure, and there's a Platinum if you complete the game, which is Cross Buy with the PS4.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Latest UK retail Vita chart (a one off for 2019)

Its the most meaningless chart in existence, and I'll only run it once in 2019, as its a quiet start to the year. But, here's what's selling in UK retail land on the Vita, perhaps a dozen retail copies each? maybe more for the recent Muv Luv releases.

Given that most Vita game sales are second-hand these days, not sure what the point of collecting the data is, but here we go:

  1. Meiq: Labyrinth Of Death         Idea Factory 
  2. Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified      Activision    
  3. Xblaze Code: Embryo     Funbox 
  4. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection     Konami       
  5. LEGO Marvel Avengers    Warner 
  6. Muv-Luv     PQube 
  7. Muv-Luv Alternative       PQube 
  8. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair      NIS America 
  9. Chaos;Child      PQube 
  10. World Of Final Fantasy   Square Enix 
Looking further into the future, I wonder if the LEGO Hobbit and Lord of the Rings games will pop back up the chart soon as the PSN versions have vanished? Check out the Japanese chart data for more meaningful numbers.

Lightwood brings more Pic-A-Pix Pieces to the Vita

The Pic-A-Pix games are a charming picross niche that Lightwood has a firm handle on. More simple-to-challenging puzzles are on the way to the Vita according to a new trophy listing (with a Platinum). What better way to ease into the new year before all the crunchy arcade titles turn up, checking on a release date now!

Update: The game hits PSN this week, so get ready to boost your brain power in 2019!

Almost There: The Platformer heads to PlayStation

Seems appropriate that I start 2019 with a simple-looking yet fiendishly challenging mobile title, Almost There: The Platformer heading to Vita, PS4 and PS3. A one-man band game from Bony Yousuf, the bright primary colour scheme hides many deaths and retries to get past the many tightly packed obstacles into each level.

There's a Platinum trophy on offer for anyone who can successfully sprint between saw blades while dodging homing missiles and duck under all those lasers while the floor crumbles beneath you.

Almost There was designed specifically for fans of the hardcore platforming genre - you've been warned.