Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sony's Music Unlimited PS Vita Review

Okay, a bit of marketing basics here, if you launch a service called Music Unlimited, it had better damn well be unlimited. Just because telco's think they can sell you limited "unlimited broadband", don't think you can get away with that shit on a music package.

Available in two forms, Basic £3.99 and Premium £9.99 on the PS Vita, PC and now on smartphones, it purportedly offers millions of tracks. But that is far from the case. If you try the basic package, you can only listen to some of music's less popular genre streams and no new music whatsoever (except 30 second snippets, like a preview service that you have to pay to use!!!!).

That's fine, if you like film soundtracks (largely the work of Hans Zimmer, judging by my test) and the darker side of metal, punk plus some other odds and sods. But, you simply don't know if the songs you're after will be available on the cheaper service, which seems hugely unfair and rather a con. Some songs from an artist appear to play happily in Artist Channel, but their albums cut off after 30 seconds... what the hell is going on?

And, if you try anything that's a Premium feature, you are constantly nagged to get an upgrade :(.

Pay for the premium package (which costs more than a Netflix subscription, do you see the problem here Sony?) and you get access to all the latest hits, plus some more accessible premium channels (pop, rock and so on), see the full spec here. But, while the sound quality is great, the interface is sloppy with random looking buttons on the touchscreen, confusing links between places and just a trillion miles away from the simplicity of a Spotify or iTunes app.

The worst thing, and the major reason I don't think this isn't an unlimited offering, is the minute you tap the Start button to go anywhere else, the music stops. My years old iPhone can manage to play music and browse, or tweet, so why can't my shiny new Vita?  Want to drop a screenshot into a Music Unlimited review, big pause coming right up!

So, in effect the £3.99 version lets you listen to the bargain basement albums in your local HMV's 99p bin. If you actually like music you have to pay for the full £9.99 service, which is overpriced and then you can't use your Vita for anything else. For US users, the pricing is the same in dollars, and Music Unlimited recently became available in Canada, but just because it is there, doesn't mean you should use it.

Aside from the ill-advised use of the Unlimited tag, over-priced subscriptions (if the basic was free and the premium was £6.99, I'd be quite happy) there is plenty of music to enjoy but the app needs a UI professional to get involved and a software engineer to make it multitask. Fix all that and I'll renew my subscription.

First LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes gameplay trailer

Wrapped in a neat comic-trailer are the first gameplay clips of the next LEGO Batman game coming to the PS Vita and other consoles. See capes flap, special powers used and baddies being done-in the LEGO way.

With Batman, Robin, Catwoman, Superman and more joining in the fun, this could be the most versatile traveller's tales yet, as Superman can free fly and is basically indestructible. Wonder where the villains are keeping that Kryptonite?

Kingdom Hearts getting series a HD Vita remix?

If you don't remember the Kingdom Hearts adventures then you'll soon get another shot courtesy of Square. According to a decent-looking rumour, we'll see at E3 next week the unveiling of Kingdom Hearts 1,2, Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, and Birth By Sleep receiving HD upgrades for the Vita, PS3, and Wii U.

That'll neatly get around the PSP Birth by Sleep game never making it to PSN, and as long as the pricing is okay (and where Disney is involved, that's always an issue), should bring the series to an appreciative new generation.

Treasures of Montezuma Blitz gets an update, now friendlier

I wish the Vita would drop users a message when a game is ready to be updated, like iOS does. I only blundered into the Montezuma update on a bored give-it-another-go moment. The update takes the game to v1.50 and makes a lot of things that made people cross more tolerable.

For a start, there's hints on the loading screen, making it easier to understand how to play the game better. The totems and bonuses and now front-and-centre rather than tucked away in the side and the UI has been tweaked to be more friendly.

When playing, you're less likely to run down the five-go limit and the daily scratch card seems a bit more generous (or I'm just being lucky) and appears each time you load (so far). In-game hints appear more frequently, so there's less brain-freeze time and levelling up happens faster. Plus a bunch of extra whizzes and sparkle have been added to liven things up.

The game is still free to play, so give it a whirl in its new, improved guise, especially if you weren't too happy with it first time around. Things that still need to be fixed include the multiple pop-up PSN loading screens, and it crashed on me (just the once), but still worth trying out.

Guacamelee, as mad as it sounds, with chickens

Sony's first Pub Funded game is hitting the Vita and PS3 soon. Developed by Drinkbox, the folks behind the fabulous Mutant Blobs Attack, its a Metroid-vania style action-platformer set in a magical Mexican inspired world. Check out the PSN blog post introducing the game.

The game draws its inspiration from traditional Mexican culture and folklore, and features many interesting and unique characters. Guacamelee builds upon the classic open-world Metroid-vania style of games, by adding a strong melee combat component, a new dimension switching mechanic, and cooperative same-screen multiplayer for the entire story. The game also blurs the boundaries between combat and platforming by making many of the moves useful and necessary for both of these.

Malicious shows good intentions this time round

I covered Malicious some nine months ago when first announced as it looked like a game trying to do something different. Now called Malicious Rebirth, the game from Alvion has come on a bit in its Vita incarnation and Andriasang has a herd of new screens for it.

The Vita version gets new stages and bosses, and while its an all-out more agressive looking game, it is hard to ignore some hints of Gravity Daze in there, check out the game's site for its chilled vibe, hopefully that'll get an update soon.

PacMan and Daytona Skins hit Ridge Racer

Noticed on the U.K. PSN store that Namco has put up the PacMan skin for the Kamata Synci Ridge Racer car for £1.19.

And, to add to your nostalgia based racing, in Japan they've just announced a Sega/Namco crossover putting the Daytona No. 41 Hornet car in the game.

Sure, its largely cosmetic, I doubt they've ported over the Daytona physics into Ridge, but to see that mean machine on the Vita is a nice first step (hint: Sega, cough, etc).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spy Hunter revs up the Aston for the PS Vita

Quite a good week for classic gaming, but out-doing the Jet Set Radio HD do-over, comes a true classic, from when I was little and arcades were strange, fun, new places. Spy Hunter from Bally Midway has already had one makeover since the classic 8-bit arcade machine days. Now its getting a full handheld remix for the Vita and 3DS

Warner Bros. is in charge of this version, the trailer doing a nice take on the typical Volvo advert. Naturally the game has moved into 3D, and the sole 3DS screen shot seem to have a rather more serious tone than the trailer and the original.

Still, if it captures the spirit and dyamics of the original game (including the original would be good too), I'll be a happy junior Bond again. And, no, that's not actually an Aston Martin.

Jet Set Radio Won't Kill the Video Star

Sega's Jet Set Radio, headed to a Vita soon, has put up a quick video showing off the smoothness of the game and the details in the backgrounds. As a taster for the full thing, its hard to go wrong with.

Check out some pics here and the original release notes. Oh, do click 720HD mode before viewing, looks a little pants otherwise.

New Zone of Enders HD shots show off the mechs

To brighten up a rather weird day in gaming (blame the French and Sony), Andriasang has put up a new set of ZoE HD pics, showing off the game's mechs and anime.

Looks like an end of year release for the Vita version, which if we get the Gundam and Little Battlers games over here should make for a mechy Christmas all round.

Vita getting more free apps for music, travel and growing things

Right, a music app in the form of the neat looking but wankily-titled Imaginstruments I get. A real world travel game cum app, Travel Bug which uses Near to make real world challenges for you and friends, I also get. And I like the idea of an environment simulator, Ecolibrium, but everything about them just has that slightly kiddy feel that would make them more at home on the new white cheap PSP.

Check out the PS Blog post here for the details. do you agree, this is just a little bit too cheesy? If these are for kids, then I wouldn't let mine out and about with an expensive bit of kit, yet if they're for adults, then why the Cbeebies-style designs?

If Sony were going to do anything like this, it should be with a fitness app, something with wide appeal that everyone could use. Apart from the music app, I can see these being a quick download, try and delete jobs. Along with the ebook reader, Sony seem to be creating a "worst of Wii" world.

Japanese game and hardware sales, another sphincter-clenching grimace for Sony executives?

Another week, another sphincter-clenching grimace for Sony executives, what will the numbers be this week?

From 4gamer, here's a pretty little chart to show things in perspective, the Vita is up a couple of hundred sales from last week, on the software front, a deluxe version of Samurai and Dragons shifts a mere 6,000 copies, a new PSP game rolls into the top three and there are five PSP games in the top 20.

Software charts:

1 Dragon's Dogma (PS3) 302,040 NEW
2 Mario Open Tennis (3DS) 101,645 NEW
3 Prince Sana (PSP) 61,376 NEW
4 Dragon's Dogma (X360) 29,000 NEW
17 Samurai and Dragons Deluxe 6,072 NEW

OFFICIAL Sony confirm PlayStation Vita €50 price cut for France

Now will the whining stop and will people just go out and buy one? The announcement is breaking right now  and will take effect from June the 1st, in time for E3. Hopefully that translates to £40, although with the value of the Euro plummeting, it could be £10 by the time it takes effect, which would make the Vita around £159 on the likes of Amazon.

For America, that's likely to be a $50 cut, assuming they get it. More to follow. The big question, if you don't already own a Vita will this help you go out and get one?

Update: Right, this is a rebate offer so buyers need to claim the money back, and its only running for until mid-July. Not quite the across-the-board slash we'd all hoped for, but its a start, right? MCV is taking up the story

Update to the update: MCV now saying this might be a French deal only - bof! That's just rude. Will there be gamers clamouring at French embassies applying for citizenship?

Square avoiding the PS Vita? No games in E3 lineup

Having spent years crafting great titles for the PSP, Square seems rather coy about doing anything new for the Vita, side from the launch title, Army Corps of Hell and the upcoming Final Fantasy X remaster. Perhaps there are new games, tucked away in the wings waiting to be revealed, but for now Square has published its E3 show list with no Vita titles in sight.

There's not a Third Birthday or Dissidia Update, A Final Fantasy megamix of the older RPGs, a Crisis Core for PSN, it all seems rather bleak. Any or all of these could be announced as new during the show, but it seems like the company currently has other priorities, with a major mobile focus.

NBA 2K13 coming to PSP, surely some mistake?

And don't call me Shirley! In a press release, Take 2 has announced NBA 2K13 as arriving at the beginning of October. Oddly the release says:
will be available on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 in North America and October 5, 2012 internationally for the Xbox 360(R) video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation(R)3 computer entertainment system, PSP(R) (PlayStation(R)Portable) system, Wii(TM) system and Windows PC. A Wii U(TM) version of NBA(R) 2K13 will be available in the launch window, at a later date. 

Now that's got to be a cock up right? I loved the Dreamcast versions, but haven't played it in recent years. If it does arrive, hopefully on the Vita and not the PSP, then I'm keen to give it a go. I've emailed Take 2 to clarify.

Here's the first video of the game from E3, looking very detailed...

PS Vita getting an ebook reader?

MCV is reporting that Sony will show off an ebook reader at E3 for the PS3 and likely the PS Vita. So, now the Vita can Skype, do social video with Nico Nico and will soon be a document reader. Apple tried a big move on this with ebooks 2.0, packed with great levels of connectivity and interactivity, earlier in the year.

But for Sony, it is more likely to be a flatter reader offering, bringing books, PDFs and perhaps comics back to the handheld. Called "Storyteller", it'd be good if Sony does pack in interactive options, but given its feeble music service and cookie-cutter video store, its hard to see Sony doing this well.

PSN Update, get ready for Gravity Daze and Resistance

The U.S. had a rare Vita-led update yesterday with the Gravity Rush (guess I'll have to stop calling it Gravity Daze now) demo, plus Resistance launching (with a demo that's the same size as the full game (is it an unlockable trial then?). The Americans also got the lovely-looking Pure Chess and the Nico Nico app.

Not sure if we get Nico Nico too, but the Gravity Rush demo is 472Mb and the Resistance game or demo are both 2.8Gb, so make sure you've got plenty of space for when the update hits today. Resistance is getting mixed reviews, averaging around 60%, but I reckon the multiplayer makes it worth a go. Gravity Rush is scoring just below 90, a shame its not out for a couple of weeks yet. Check out the updated release list for what else is coming in June.

UPDATED: Okay, the PSN Update post is live and guess what, Sony stuff it up again with no demo for Resistance. My immediate, and cynical thought, is that Sony saw the reviews coming in and decided not to let EU gamers try it in advance. My guess is it'll let the pre-orders and early adopters in first before releasing the demo in a couple of weeks. You can see their point, but it shows a shocking lack of confidence in its own games. Care to comment Sony?

There's also no Nico Nico either. No wonder Sony blog editors are moving on so quickly, it must be a pig of a job to moderate. Note, the EU Gravity Rush demo is 492Mb, must be all those extra languages.

On the positive side, PSP and Vita gamers get Blazing Souls Accelate from Idea Factory. A JRPG where Zelos, who makes his living as an independent contractor, obtains a crystal infused with magical energy called a "Core Elemental" after a freak accident. Almost as soon as it fell into his hands, Zelos was besieged by a number of mysterious beings intent on taking the power of the elemental for their own.

There's also the usual batch of DLC but, frankly, missing that Resistance demo is looking deeply suspicious. At least we'll have Rush to try.

Nico Nico hits PS Vita in America

File under "odd," Japan's social video service Nico Nico has appeared on American PS Vitas, unveiled in a PS  blog post yesterday, the service is barely known outside of Japan, so its a bit of a punt. On the plus side, it will allow Vita owners to stream Sony's E3 presentation live, so has to be worth a go.

I guess it'll appear in Europe today, if not, Sony really needs to sort out its timing as Europeans won't have a compelling reason to install the app until next year. Probably a good time to ask Sony about a proper YouTube app too.

Any American's having a go with it? Let us know what you think.

PlayStation Plus coming to PS Vita at E3

Sony wants more of your money. The greedy bastards not only expect us to pay for Sony's Music service, since the company won't put Spotify or LastFM on the Vita. To rent or buy movies, since U.K. Vitas don't have Netflix yet and now it is "offering" us PlayStation Plus.

That's fine for the PS3, which has masses of content to give away on a monthly basis, but the Vita is rather bereft of games right now. So, what can Sony offer? Well, we'll find out at E3, the move to cloud gaming might be an positive move, if the Vita can handle it. But the main reason folks sign up is for the free games and apart from an army of old PSP and PS One titles (which we can't currently play, something else Sony needs to announce at E3), then there's little to tempt us.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cute platform puzzler Snapshot has the PS Vita in focus

Continuing the recent good run of PS Vita announcements, the Sony blog has just unveiled Snapshot, a cute looking PSN platform/puzzler where the player takes "photos" of bits of the level and transfers them to other places to help solve the puzzle or give the character, Pic, some needed equipment like keys of crates.

On later levels you'll need to photo light to help illuminate darker areas and so on. Sounds like another cunning use of the Vita's camera. Hot on the heels of When Vikings Attack and Big Sky Shooter, the Vita is certainly getting the content it deserves, and about time too.

More tips and tricks for Mortal Kombat Vita

NetherRealm has put up a second video showing off some hints and tips for mastering the PS Vita version of the awesome fighting game. Including some advice on the mini games.

Not much more to say than go buy it if you don't own it, and learn from these videos if you're having trouble becoming a master of the art.

Xperia Play nibbling Gingerbread crumbs, how about an Xperia Play 2?

Sony's gaming smartphone, the Xperia Play, can do better job of playing PS One games than a Vita currently can. Yet it won't be upgraded to the latest version of the Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich, due to problems with the gaming software.

That's perhaps the price you pay for a unique phone among the herd of Android clones. The device has already lost half of its branding when Ericsson sold out to Sony, now it looks destined to remain in the backwater of Android phones (admittedly, along with thousands of other devices that can't or won't be upgraded).

However, the obvious question is, will Sony bother to bring out an uprated Xperia Play with a current class quad-core processor (NVIDIA's Kai is a budget quad option), graphics core and enough RAM to cater for gamers who like cutting edge smartphone games? No sales figures were ever announced for the Xperia Play (that I've found) and the drip feed of dedicated games for it has tailed off recently. So, it seems likely the phone didn't do that well.

Such a phone could easily play PSP or PS2 games and access a massive catalogue of emulated or other titles. But while Sony takes its sweet time getting PlayStation Suite going, there is no real driving force to bring such a phone to the market. The current model is available for around £250 SIM-free if you fancy one, and many are around second hand for a lot less.

UPDATE: Looks like that's a no then, according to this Inquirer article, Sony's main priority is to beef up Playstation integration on mobile devices, dismissing rumours that it could be planning to launch a second-generation Xperia Play handset. "Bringing the Playstation Network to other devices is important. Doing so creates a community based relationship with customers, like those found on social networking web sites."

Sony launches white PSP E1000 model for summer

Sony must be getting some PSP sales from somewhere, as the company is launching a new white model of its cheapo PSP E1000. Judging by the lifestyle shots, these are firmly aimed at the kids to keep them quiet during the summer holidays. The ice white unit's price is still £89.99 and will be on sale in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and Ireland.

With huge numbers of games available for £6-10 on Amazon and some remaining in stores, its not a bad time killer for the little ones, or those who need to replace an older model. Just remember there's no Wi-Fi, so its a UMD-only device unless you copy your downloads from PC or PS3 to the memory card. The unit should hit stores by July.

Of course, a few more colour varieties for the PS Vita might be a pressing issue for Sony, with a white model coming to Japan, but Sony clearly thinks if it can get lots of young PSP owners, they might upgrade to Vitas when then time comes.

New Nippon Ichi Vita game puts you in a journalist's shoes

Having been having a great time of it in the halls of Disgaea 3's Netherworld, its good to hear Nippon Ichi is keeping up the flow with a new game based on journalism. Called "Special Report Division", the game has been unveiled in this weeks Dengeki and is due out in August.

No pictures yet, but expect something to emerge in the next few days for what is classed as an adventure game, but could well follow Disgaea's crazed RPG format. Hopefully NIS America will bring the new game west, and for once guys, leave the Prinnys at home. Or, it might follow the Attorney at Law games on the DS, with a procedural feel to it.

Hopefully the game will focus on breaking stories, getting scoops and trying to squeeze pop culture references into articles, rather than the endless drinking and moaning that forms most of a hacks career.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Turtle Beach M5 headphones out for PS Vita next week

Checking on Amazon, I see that Turtle Beach's M5 mobile gaming headset for the Vita and 3DS should be out next week (4th June) for £39.99. I love playing games through my XL-1s with the Dolby Surround box but the amount of wiring is pretty silly for a mobile experience.

These have just the one wire, with 40mm speakers and an inline microphone for chat and multiplayer, they match the Vita's colouring and will work with pretty much any PC and device too. 

So, if you take your gaming seriously, or your family or neighbours take their peace and quiet seriously, then these might well do the job.

Wizorb, a new mini for PSP and PS Vita

Just for a second I was thinking someone had brought the wonderful Wizball back from the 8-bit days, but this is in fact a breakout game dressed up as an 8-bit RPG from Beatshapers, who have done sterling work on keeping the mini catalogue growing.

Set in the once peaceful Kingdom of Gorudo, a land threatened by an evil presence, the only hope for salvation is Cyrus, a wizard versed in a secret magic art called Wizorb! Explore many strange places from the derelict monster infested town of Clover to Gorudo Castle atop Cauldron Peak. Danger lurks around every corner so you’ll need to keep your wits about you and have quick reflexes in order to survive.

•             An all-new block-breaking game set in a fantasy world
•             Use your magic wand to bounce the orb and cast various magic spells
•             Over 60 levels in 5 different worlds
•             Epic boss fights and multiple endings and bonus levels

Some screenshots are on show at the game's official page.

Assassin's Creed III and Ghost Recon sneaking to the Vita?

Several retailers are now listing Ubisoft's big console titles, the newly released Ghost Recon and the upcoming biggie Assassin's Creed III will both appear on the PS Vita. Both Game and Zavvi in the UK listed the titles, which have now vanished back into the ether. Both games made it onto the PSP in various forms,

I suspect Assassin's Creed III will be the full game, which is appearing on the Wii U as well as the Xbox, while Ghost Recon is more likely to get a specialist outing with its own unique game, where it can take on Unit 13 at its own game. Expect both to make prominent appearances at E3. Original story VG24/7.

Review: Disgaea 3: Afternoon of Detention

Humour can go a long way to make or break a game. The previous JRPG I played similar to this was Aedis Eclipse on the PSP and, lacking any of Disgaea's crazed brand of humour, it really turned into a grind. But I'll be delighted to carry on playing this to the, presumably, bonkers conclusion, as with every cut scene and twist in that tale makes you think something along of the lines of; "Huh?", "Did he really say that?", "Chortle!", "Nooooo!" and "Ewwww!" Sometimes, several at once.

It is a game that breaks with a whole bunch of RPG traditions, you don't start in a dungeon or forest, in fact most of it is set within the steepled towers of the Evil Academy, school for badass demons in the Netherworld. The teachers and pupils (average age, 1,500 years old) here are so deluded and spend so much time infighting, they have little need to go outside for their adventures.

Mao is the anti-hero of the game, mad because his dad smashed his PlayStation saves. His dad happens to be the Overlord of the Netherworld, so isn't a demon to be taken lightly. It will take lots of training, teamwork and suffering through the quirky/bastardly realm of the Netherworld to get his own back, with some wild and devious twists in the plot.

The first few hours feel like an extended tutorial as you learn the ropes of the buddy system, bonus blocks and the basics of combat, magic and the classes – don't disrespect the Gods of Cookery! There is a lot to take in and below the cheesy, bubble-gum veneer is a pretty deep game with plenty of variety to experiment with, and you can jump back and forth between battles and classes to learn new tricks and master the various arts.

Naturally, being an evil school, combat isn't the only option, there's bribery, theft, politics via homeroom voting and status ailments like "deprave," plus the ability to create new classmates to bolster your gang of friends. You can spend almost as much time building and tweaking your party as you can in battle, and there are also extra levels in the Item World and other places to go on experience raising and loot stealing runs.

You also end up with the people you were fighting in earlier battles on your team, adding new skills. So, it is useful to pay attention to what they were hitting you with to see how you can use them in action. With death not being an option in Disgaea, only defeat, you can keep trying new ways to win until you succeed.

There are some nags, the Vita's rear touchscreen can trigger all kinds of odd view changes, moves through menus with an errant casual touch. The combat system feels rather antiquated and restrictive, and it is easy to forget about some useful tactic due to the lengthy Scooby Doo-ish cut-scene chat. Still, loads of fun and hugely inventive, this is a game apart from most role-players you'll come across. 

I've got ages to go in this adventure yet, but can thoroughly recommend it, purely on the basis of having enemy characters called Cantankerous and Cruton, never mind the fun in character, special move and team building.

Developer: NIS
Price: £34.99 (PSN)
Score: 8/10
Progress: Cooking things up
More reviews

Friday, May 25, 2012

Smart Resistance Burning Skies TV ad

Resistance Burning Skies is all set for launch, just need a couple of TV spots to inform the masses. And Sony's ad agency is doing a good job at blurring the lines between reality and the gaming world with this effort, and gets a dig at all those TSA (Border Force or whatever) screeners who annoy us at airports.

Coming on the heels of the recent Japanese Gravity Rush advert, and the original Vita advert, this is looking like a pretty tight campaign.

Zone of the Enders HD first screens

With the Metal Gear HD collection headed our way in June, don't forget about the Zone of the Enders collection which is also due on the PS Vita at some point. Konami has just released the first screens for the game. These are for the big consoles, but shouldn't look much different when shrunk down to the Vita.

The big-box versions are due for the end of October, so perhaps a Vita release in early 2013 isn't out of the question.

These classic Hideo Kojima titles are set around colonised planets in the solar system and pack in lots of Egyptian mythology. 

At the unveiling in Japan, the developers have said that work is starting on an official sequel to the series, which is probably not something the Vita will be able to cope with, unless Hideo designs it outright for the handheld. Check out some concept art at Andriasang.

Big Sky shooter tripping on to PS Vita

A combination of indie devs Boss Baddie, VooFoo and publisher Ripstone (the later two brought us Pure Chess) are bringing a hot and trippy-looking shooter to the PS Vita. Big Sky Infinity is a new product (the game below is an older title for PC).

From the release, "the newest iteration in the Big Sky series is Big Sky: Infinity, it will be the first of the Big Sky games to appear on a handheld or home console and will be available on PlayStation3 and PlayStation Vita later this year. Big Sky: Infinity is a procedurally generated, super fast, twin-stick shooter game that will introduce new modes and enemies, and touch controls to its predecessors."

Jet Set Radio Grinding to the PS Vita

Here's one for the Dreamcast fanbase, cel-shaded skating and graffiti game JSR is coming to the Vita with touch functions and uprated HD graphics this summer. The game was scheduled for an Xbox and PS3 release, but clearly the Vita has the chops to handle this quirky blast from the recent past.

From the release, "Jet Set Radio is an updated version of the celebrated SEGA Dreamcast original, featuring upgraded HD visuals paired with the original funky soundtrack that rocked the ears of gamers worldwide in 2000. The PlayStation Vita’s unique features provide new ways for gamers to interact with the environments of Tokyo-to, from touch functionality that makes spraying graffiti more natural to Vita camera integration. Jet Set Radio for PlayStation Vita is a handheld version that loses nothing in the way of content or experience in comparison with its console and PC brethren."

These Vita screenshots show off the game to good effect, it still looks highly distinctive even some 12 years after the original arrived on the Dreamcast. Now if we could get a decent version of Crazy Taxi, all will be well with the cosmos.

Nayuta no Kiseki trailer shows off Falcom's slick ARPG

Falcom's latest PSP action RPG in the Tales of... series has had a site update and a new trailer, Nayuta no Kiseki is the tale of a girl awoken from a permanent sleep. Looking prety awesome for a PSP game, expect this to be a fond farewell to the handheld.

The site has a neat line-up of all the goodies in stores hyping this game, wouldn't mind getting some of that sent over if the game makes it to western shores.

Hatsune Miku Vita gets an "F" and new video

The official title for Sega's PS Vita title is Hatsune Miku Project Diva F and a new video is out to cement that name in gamer's minds before the launch.

UPDATE: According to Sega, the new game will ONLY feature new music, content and costumes, good news for anyone who thought the game might be a rebundling of old material, or a best of title.

It shows off a couple of the songs and how the game mechanics work of the Vita, looks like only the nimblest of fingers will get perfect scores on the touchscreen, with Technical Zones to really set the top players apart from the rest.

A blog update also showed off some pics from the game's augmented reality mode, which put Miss Miku out and about in the real world.

Check the post for more pictures and ask yourself how long before entire AR girlfriend simulators emerge in Japan.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Foosball 2012 dev shows off crossplay

Grip Games' upcoming PS3 and Vita table top football game is a buy-one get-both deal, which is how these things should be done. It offers full crossplay and all your achievements are fully synchronised to PSN.

With extra content too, all of which will work on both your versions, this is looking good as a model of how to launch, service and offer games between the PS3 and Vita.

Check out some new LIttleBigPlanet developer footage

Tarsier, mentioned in the last post for When Vikings Attack, are working hard on the PS Vita version of LittleBigPlanet, and they've put up a new video showing off the game and explaining the new story mode, tools and other things new to this version.

Its more people talking than clips of the game, but what there is looks really cool with use of the Vita's tilt feature, and downloading content and levels from anywhere.

When Vikings Attack... your PS Vita

Those Vita releases just keep on coming, this time in the form of a fun Viking horde. Developed by Tarsier (a big-eyed tree-hugging primate if memory serves, also the guys who are doing LittleBigPlanet on the Vita), it comes with crossplay, and much horde-based violence as these Vikings arrive to pillage in rather modern surroundings.

The aim seems to be to get the biggest horde, smashing up the environment and lobbing things at your (AI or multiplayer) rivals. Certainly looks great fun on either the big or small screen.

Persona 4 Golden goes disco in its opening movie

This is what you'll see on firing up one of the PS Vita's most wanted titles. Strongly advise anyone on recreational drugs not to watch it.

These recent screens show a little more of what's on offer and the official site (also a beacon of colour) has loads going on.

Could Ron Gilbert's The Cave provide some Vita adventures

Adventure games don't get much of an outing outside of the PC, but Ron Gilbert's the cave is promised for PC and consoles. So, I'd guess the publishers, Sega and Double Fine will want maximum return on investment. And, since the Vita has a super high quality screen, it could do justice to the game's graphics.

Judging by the arcade/adventure overtones of the trailer, it would play really well on the Vita too. The game's website is up, and hints at the depths the game will take you to, it will play host to more information when it becomes available. In the mean time here's a couple of screens to tide us over.

I'll chase up publishers/developers and see if there's any news, but on any format, The Cave looks like a winner.

Metal Gear HD hitting U.K. Vitas on June 29

A while back there was a press release dating Metal Gear HD on the Vita on the 12th, appears that was for the American market as a new EU press release says the 29th, which is the same day as the Japanese launch. I have no idea why the Americans get the game two weeks early, but hey there are enough other games coming out that month to make it less of a pain.

Cheapest pre-orders seem to be from ShopToNet at under £23. Certainly not a game to get as a digital download unless you have an obscenely big memory card and ultra-fast broadband.

More Namco PSP games unveiled in Japan, choose from fighting or basketball

With Sony's PSP bagging three of the top five games in the latest Japanese chart, there's still gold to be had in those UMD titles. So, the releases, particularly revamps of older games, keep coming. First up is Rurouni Kenshin, a fighting game from Namco with new characters and gameplay tweaks. Some more art and shots at Andriasang.

Also from Namco comes Kuroko Basketball, a fun-looking sports game based on a pretty new anime. It mixes a spot of adventuring, practice and actual matches with loads of teen jock angst and special moves to pick up. More pics at Andriasang.

Nippon Ichi's 20th Anniversary title for PS Vita

A teaser site is showing off the usual mystic-looking westernised Japanese school girl who will play some role in one of the company's 20th anniversary titles. Note the shadows of the people on the other side of the glass. There are some other shapes in the "glass", could be a crown? Anyone detect anything else?

Guessing at a school-based RPG, heavy on the relationship building and endless cut-scenes. We'll learn more in the fullness of time, the only message on the site apparently translates as "The object of data gathering previously exceeded everyday life."

Zen's Kickbeat combines music and fighting on the Vita

Just based on the title, I'm imaging Glee meets Mortal Kombat but I suspect the game is really a little more upbeat than that. From the video it looks like a rhythm action title, but the actions are kicks, punches, dodges and blocks.

All of this is fought on some rather Tron-like arenas, with the music coming from big and upcoming names, with some Pendulum and Marilyn Manson, indie pioneers Celldweller and Blue Stahli, and eclectic talents like electronic music producer Voicians and Taiwanese rapper Shen Yi.

A full unveil will take place at E3, but tap this up as one the Vita's increasingly quirky but cool range of music games along with Sound Shapes (featuring Deadmau5)and Hatsune Miku.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A closer look at Soul Sacrifice on PS Vita

Japanese site Famitsu has been given access to Sony's Soul Sacrifice on the Vita, showing off a bunch of new art and screens. It goes through a couple of your sacrificial spells, Excalibur and Salamander and introduces the Cyclops.

The auto translation is pretty rough, but Andriasang has done a better job and tarted up the screenshots. Of most interest is that it isn't just your own bits you can sacrifice "The offering system involves calling out spells by making an offering of objects in your surroundings. Examples include turning boulders and lava into shields and golems. The rarer the object, the more powerful the magic, but once sacrificed, the object will be gone for good."

Japanese Charts, PSP still doing the business.

This week in the fun world of Japanese games sales (wouldn't it be good if we got proper data from the US and EU regions) we have Sony's handhelds selling 10,652 PSPs and the Vita 6,347 units, up a little on last week's low.

The PSP crashes into the top five games with the No. 1 title, "My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute", Persona 2: Eternal Punishment at No.3 and Brother's Conflict at No. 5. Selling 50,000, 25,000 and some respectively, get the details here.

There are six PSP games in the top 20, but aren't PSP titles just getting stranger and stranger, and slightly more depraved. How far are we from "Nonce, the game"?

UK PSN having a Vita games sale, Everybody's Golf and others just £11.99

Been waiting for some prices to drop before picking up some of the less essential PS Vita games? Now is the time to act (assuming you have a lot of memory tab space free). Sony has dropped the prices of Everybody's Golf, ModNation Racers and Reality Fighters down to just £11.99.

I paid full whack for Golf at launch, and really don't have the inclination (or space) for the other two, but hopefully some gamers will be able to expand their collection thanks to this offer. Newcomer TableTop Tanks is now live on the store and at £1.59 anyone can afford to give this AR game a go.

Resistance builds for next week's launch

Resistance Burning Skies is looking good! And to show it off in advance of next week's launch, here are some big pics showing off some of the nastiest creatures yet to grace the PS Vita. Offering full multiplayer, social features and a world of Chimera to take down, will this help turn the Vita's fortunes around.

Click to enlarge

Japanese TV Spot for Gundam Seed Destiny on Vita

The marketing push is on for the Vita's first Gundam game, but its a safe bet it won't be the last given the huge number of PSP releases. A new TV advert shows off the space and ground-based combat, multiplayer and some of the mechs.

Check out some recent pics here and remember they'll be getting these cool decal-screen protectors. I don't think a western release has been confirmed, but really, it should be happening in a just and righteous universe.

Accel World getting detailed today on Namco web TV show

In about 90 minutes (from the time of typing) at 8PM Japan, Noon UK time, 7AM EST, NamcoBandai TV has a web show up offer more information on Accel World, the PSP and PS3 RPG based on a popular anime.

Update: Okay, that was a bust, the show wasn't available outside of Japan, I'll try and track down any new information, but check out this trailer anyway.

These things are usually pretty incomprehensible, but hopefully there will be some neat video clips to watch, or just enjoy Japanese commentators getting very excited.

Aksys showing off Zero Escape on Vita at E3

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward will get an airing at E3 via western publisher Aksys. The visual novel, developed by Chunsoft, offers choice-based interaction and puzzles that must be completed to help move the story along.


Trapped in an abandoned warehouse with the usual cast of weirdos, talking rabbits and so on, the aim is to escape by cooperating with other characters. It will certainly add something different to the Vita's roster of usual games.

Pulzar: A Vita augmented reality game with legs?

The current crop of PS Vita AR games are have a big "novelty" sign stamped all over them, but things are looking better with TableTop Tanks on the way and now PulzAR, The Sony blog has the details, but basically, you need to position the mirrors to destroy asteroids that threaten the Earth, or your coffee table.

If these games deliver then I think some sort of PS Vita stand will be in order so we can play these games properly. Can't wait to give this a try and hope that other developers are out there coming up with more cunning uses for the Vita's AR system.

Sega's Super Monkey Ball an Octoberfest for the Vita

Sorry I'm late with this one, but there was some sunshine yesterday, and my pasty knees required treatment! Anyway, after some unfathomable delay, the west will be getting Super MonkeyBall (it still says Summer on the website - come on Sega, some consistency please!) in October, on the 26th to be precise.

The game offers 100 stages of tilt controlled simian mayhem, and you pretty much know the rest of the drill by now. It will feature online multiplayer, so gamers will be able to challenge the world with global leaderboards, which means the Japanese will have a huge advantage as it is out there in a couple of weeks.

Jonah Lomu brings rugby to the PS Vita in June

The man may be long retired, but he's still the biggest name in rugby, and his massive frame will adorn the package for Rugby Challenge from Aussie developer Tru Blu and Kiwi studio Sidhe, available at the end of June (making it by far the biggest month for PS Vita releases since launch).

The game will be sold as Wallabies Rugby Challenge within Australia and Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge in Europe and other territories. Looks like American rugby fans are out of luck, but you can probably import it.

Rugby Challenge on PlayStation Vita is packed with content, and features:

• Multiple game modes including Single Match, Competition and Multi Year Career Modes as well as extensive Help and Tutorial Mode options for players new to the game;
• 96 teams and 31 stadia, incorporating official team and competition licences for the All Blacks, the Qantas Wallabies, the USA Eagles, Bledisloe Cup, AU/NZ Super Rugby, Aviva Premiership Rugby, TOP 14 Orange, RaboDirect PRO12, ITM Cup, and Ranfurly Shield;
• Utilisation of key PlayStation Vita capabilities including touch screen controls for gameplay (conversion kicks and lineouts), the rear touch panel for sprint and a full touch screen user interface;
• Online multiplayer capabilities allowing gamers to compete in 1 vs 1 head to head play and leaderboard competitions;
• Extensive customisation tools allowing users to shape the game to their own preferences by creating and customising new players, teams and competitions; and
• Real-time commentary from seasoned rugby commentators Grant Nisbett and former All Blacks’ halfback Justin Marshall.

More pics, making of videos and additional info on the game's site. The game is out on the 27th June.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vita Rumour Roundup: Battle Royale, Assassin's Creed 3, Castlevania and more

Several snippets are doing the rounds right now that suggests a few corkers are headed the PS Vita's way. Someone dug up a CV on LinkedIn that suggests Sony will bring All Stars Battle Royale to the Vita. That always seemed a bit of a no-brainer and it was odd of Sony to think everyone wouldn't leap to that conclusion, if it was holding the title back for the Vita's E3 show reel.

A rambling list from an alleged Ubisoft staffer also suggests that Assassin's Creed 3 could be making its way to the Vita. The whole post sounds like a drunken rant, so that one with a pinch of salt.

Next up is word that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow might also be headed to the Vita via Konami, although that's the vaguest use of the word "rumour" going on in the source article. Finally, it looks like the invites for the LittleBigPlanet Vita beta are going out, so keep an eye on your in-boxes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Smart as... challenging your mind and your Facebook friends

The DS sparked a generation of games for those who thought their minds or bodies were getting older, and less fit than they used to be. The PS Vita will try and wade its way into this market with "Smart As..." a game to challenge the brain's synapses if you've reached the age where you can't see the point of Hollyoaks.

Developed by Climax for Sony, it uses the PS Vita’s touch screens, cameras and augmented reality capabilities to test your noggin with 20-odd puzzle games using arithmetic, logic, language and observation. Your scores are used to calculate your overall Brain Power and the more you play, the better your chances are of increasing your score and unlocking new puzzle games.

When you play Smart As using PS Vita’s online modes, you can compete with friends on Facebook and share your scores to prove you're smarter. Access online leaderboards to check how your performance rates against PSN friends, people that you’ve met through Near, or across the world.

From the recent developer video, the only worry is that it is all a bit like the Welcome Park game and while it might be neat as a free goodie, it looks like Sony plans to sell us this. As long as its on the cheap side, perhaps.

Resistance Burning Skies will infect you with Near

Resistance may well be futile as Sony has a neat trick up its sleeve for players. Using that funny social/near map thingy, you can share your infection (from the Chimera) with others, so your friends can get the same bonuses, perks and so on that you do.

Does that sound like just a cheap way of doing some marketing, or will it really improve the game for people? It'd be cool if you got messages like "Spudgun is infected with quad damage. You've got it too, get online" but using Near is hardly a priority for most gamers, so I figure most of us will never see this happening.

No Football Manager for PS Vita planned by SI Games

According to a forum post by an SI bunny, Sports Interactive has no plans for a PS Vita version of the massive selling Football Manager series. Despite doing great sales on the PSP (300,000 - 500,000K (vgChartz figures) plus each year, and still the current PSP No. 1 in the UK). The post says:
"Unfortunately there are no plans presently to do a Vita specific version of FMH at present, sorry."
Which means that something could happen in the future, but they'll need to get a wiggle on to hit next season's release. Perhaps the developers are planning something more akin to the PC version, given the Vita's power and extra inputs. Versions for iOS and Android are touch-based, so it shouldn't take too much redesign.

You can still play FMH 2012 on the Vita if you download it from the PSN, currently £23.99. If you're on a budget, Championship  Manager 2010 is available from Square Enix for just £3.99 as a mini. On the latest all-formats chart, FM12 on the PSP accounts for 7% of sales (with the other 93% on the PC), suggesting handheld is still a viable format.

UK PS Vita Chart: Uncharted finds some buried sales to dethrone Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat managed two weeks at the top of the chart before the Vita's dynamic duo could finally dislodge it. Things will get a little more lively in the next few weeks with Resistance: Burning Skies, Metal Gear HD, Gravity Rush and Doctor Who all demanding your cash.

1 ^ Uncharted: Golden Abyss
2 - FIFA Football
3 Mortal Kombat
4 - Rayman Origins
5 - Unit 13

Interesting to note that Rayman on the Vita accounts for 21% of the games overall sales on the all-formats chart. Not huge, but still valuable income for Ubisoft. Play spot the difference with last week's chart. Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (C)2012 UKIE Ltd UKIE.

On the PSN store, the top downloads are:

1 Mortal Kombat
2  MotorStorm RC
3 Escape Plan
4 Pure Chess
5 Plants vs. Zombies
6. Mutant Blobs Attack
7 Super Stardust Delta
8 Hustle Kings
9 Unit 13
10 Rayman Origins

Clearly Vita users are taking advantage of the store for the better value downloads, and good to see we're ignoring the dross that lurks on the store. A shame there's no minis chart to see how Velocity is doing.

Little Battlers still tearing it up on PSP

A huge hit on its original release, this sequel is chucking even bigger robot nasties on the PSP's screen to fight. Fully titled Little Battler eXperience W (no idea y), these massive droids will take co-op friends to take down, which probably explains the game's success.

Andriasang has a bunch more pics up, this version is being developed by Tri-Ace who worked on the awesome Frontier Gate. Hopefully all their PSP experience will move on to the Vita rapidly, otherwise, if Sony lose development talent like that, there will be trouble.

Dokuro gets a new trailer; love, potions and accordions

Not sure this really sells the game, but here you go, another look at the strange world of Dokuro. Anyone else thinking this could well just end up as another Sumioni?

Tempted to put in a few thousand words on why the accordion should never be used in video games (outside of Inspector Clouseau titles), but actually its not the problem here, just the sloooow, tedium of it all.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Opinion: Why Sony shouldn't cut the price of the PS Vita now

Almost every chart or sales-based post on the Vita ends with calls for a price cut. Similarly, forums are full of poster's demands for a slash in costs before they'll buy. Trouble is, there isn't much point in Sony doing that now. And for one simple reason.

If someone buys a cheap PS Vita right now, there are only 20-30 games for them to choose from. Say people get their two or three favourite titles (FIFA and Uncharted judging by chart history) from that lot and what next? All of a sudden a lot of PS Vitas are collecting dust in drawers (as happened in the early years of the PSP) while gamers wait for the new releases to pile up.

Sure, the Vita is better equipped with a great range of old PSP games, PSN minis and its own near range of budget titles. But it takes an effort of discovery to find and learn about them, and buyers expecting pick-up-and-play thrills are perhaps not the sort to go digging for them. (Do you see any advert saying "PS Vita available with hundreds of games, now"?)

So, Sony could cut the price this very day, by say $100 (£60) and suddenly start hemorrhaging more money which it can't recoup because the games aren't there. Give it another few months and Sony will have a heap of games available, including all the summer releases plus a bunch of third party titles.

At that point, Sony can trim the price, and when PS Vita games are rampaging through the charts around the world, it will recoup the lost revenue in hardware through games sales, memory cards from all those digital downloads, accessories and so on.

UPDATE: Typically after writing something like this, a few more thoughts creep out. When Sony does announce a price cut, it won't be that news alone. Expect new bundles, tied in with big game announcements (MHP4 anyone?) and updates to the OS in a smartphone style (PS One games). All of that takes time and business commitment, so give it a few months yet.

Getting sticky with Velocity could win you a 3G PS Vita

Not got a Vita yet, or want to upgrade to a 3G model for free? Read the review of Velocity, to get in the spirit of things, then check out FuturLab's page where you can get some free (as in the price of a stamp) Velocity stickers.

Stick those stickers somewhere cool and if you win in the coolest sticker stuck in a cool spot contest, the Vita will be yours. Just remember to make sure you buy one of the best minis ever created! Frankly, I'm mailing in just to have a sticker to put on the back of my laptop, in no way cool, but it'll make me feel better.

Sly Cooper will nick your PS Vita

Up to now PS3-exclusive Sly Cooper is getting a day-and-date release on Sony's little handheld. This news comes from the PS blog directly and is pretty much what the Vita needs, all of Sony's new games, furry mascots and platform leaders appearing alongside its big brother.

Coming with cross-save capability, users can carry on with their PS3 version at home and take the game on the road. Some additional touchscreen features are being shoe-horned in, made by Californian developer Sanzaru, this news does make you wonder if the collection of the first three games will make it to the Vita?

Sly is a raccoon, who started out 10 years ago on the PS2, having some epic adventures with his friends along the to "acquiring" great treasures. Looks pretty slick. IT also looks like PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale will be making an appearance on the Vita, with the developer saying stay tuned.

Are these late-to-the-game announcements a hint that Sony finally realises it needs to play fair across its consoles for the Vita to thrive, or has its PR been gagged awaiting E3, but Sony now realises it can't afford to wait?