Thursday, October 31, 2013

Muramasa gets new DLC content in Japan

Marvelous' pretty side-scroller Muramasa is now out in the west, so get playing that, but the developers aren't done yet in Japan with the first batch of Japanese DLC throwing in some new characters. Looks like just your typical girl and her cat beating seven shades out of the usual suspects across the lovingly-crafted levels. We should get the new content sometime in 2014.

Further video nasty adventures in Dynasty Warriors

Good lord, doesn't Tecmo ever stop producing these epic battle scenes? Here we have some of the Dynasty Warrior 7 (possibly 8) ladies strutting their stuff across the battlefield. The Japanese stories are going on about Challenge modes and new heroes, but all I see is clang of steel and splat of weak flesh. The game is coming to Vita, PS3 and PS4, with special editions for all formats shown at the end of the clip.

Will you 'Remember?' this new Vita Kickstarter project

Just gone live is 'Remember?', a Kickstarter for PC, Vita and consoles title that puts us in the shoes of an Assassin, but with an RPG focus to it, rather than AC's exploits (I think). Apart from some pretty scenery, there isn't much to look at and UK developer Deluxe Games has some explaining to do as to, which takes up most of the intro video on KS. Still, there's no hero, no early sketches or anything to give me a sense of the project's aims.

The team is looking for £390,000 with a two month deadline. They say it features a world to freely roam about in and many quests to undertake with skills to learn and so on. I think I need to see some more details before putting in any cash into this one, along with a bit more story than the current one that looks like it was written by a primary school pupil. Seriously, would you go on a quest written in that style?

Sony Japan puts up new Atelier Rorona and Disgaea 4 trailers

The revamped Atelier RPG from Gust and new Disgaea 4 Return title for the Vita get some in-game action thanks to a pair of new videos put out by Sony Japan. They'll add to the roster of hot titles for Japanese gamers and keep the Vita rolling into 2014.

Sony Vita sales still stalled, Q2 results glum

Sony has just announced its second quarter results for the consumer tech giant, with the mobile division earning almost three times what the games division managed. Declining sales were blamed on the PS2 and PSP, while an $8 million loss in the gaming division was blamed on that Vita price cut. Forecasts were slashed 40% suggesting Sony is still in trouble, despite stemming the losses of cash in recent years.

The PSP and Vita sold just 800,000 units in the quarter to the end of September, that's up a little on 600K the previous quarter. If you want to be positive, you can add 150,000 thanks to the Vita 2000 launch in Japan and Killzone in the west to kick start the new quarter. Vita TV and God Eater, and Tearaway in the west, will easily double or triple that, and the Vita/PS4 harmony should drive things further. Sony expects to sell 5 million this year, leaving 3.6 million to go over six months, not sure if that includes the TV unit. 

All that activity is still small beans compared to the success of the PSP driven by GTA, Gran Turismo and Monster Hunter. Just one of those titles appearing on Vita might change the game, but Sony seems happy to sell it slowly but surely for the next few years. The success of Sony's smartphone biz might make portable redundant soon enough if the new wave of controllers takes off.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

TellTale working on a Star Wars adventure?

Having brought (or bringing) Walking Dead (Seasons 1 and 2) and The Wolf Among Us to the Vita, what will Telltale do next? After all, its clever little cel-shading engine could be tuned to cover almost any saga or story? In a recent Reddit chat, the team are dropping some strong hints that a Star Wars game could be among the next topics for them to cover.

So, what would you fancy, a dark and dingy Boba Fett adventure, some early Han Solo smuggling exploits or a full-on Empire vs. Rebellion scrap from one of the distant corners of that galaxy far, far away? Its unlikely they'd be allowed to get away with a Teen or Mature rating on any such game, but it could still push the darker side of the series

Sony announces rewards for Vita and PS gamers in the US

Guessing this will come to Europe at the same time but it looks like Sony has put together a points reward scheme. You collect points by buying on PSN, getting Sony hardware and watching Sony movies. Those points can be converted into digital downloads, or even more Sony products.

It might take a while to reach Europ, if it ever does, given the currency jungle over here, and it might take some effort to get anything good out of it, but nice if it works. Shame there aren't points for collecting trophies, or for buying on Amazon, given its popularity. Read the details on the US PSN site.

Invizimals rampaging across the Vita and PS3

Two games try to get the brilliant Invizimals idea in front of more gamers this week with a PS3 and a Vita game to link up the action between TV and portable, where the Vita comes into its own as a monster tracking device. The new trailer sets the scene, and the Vita's built in camera should help develop better sales than the PSP could manage.

Vita still batting straight in Japan

The Vita is holding firm in Japan with a near flat week of 24,500 sales, down just 800 on the previous week, and likely taking the new model over 100,000 sales in three weeks. In the chart, perennial favourite Jikkyou Baseball does the business across all three PlayStation formats.

The PSP version manages to outstrip the Vita thanks to its ten-times greater user base and there's three PSP titles in the top ten, in case you thought that was going away anytime soon. But the Vita rampage starts soon enough with sales likely to go ballistic again.

01./01. [3DS] Pokemon X / Y # (Pokemon Co.)  - 229.402 / 2.569.124 (-52%)
02./00. [PS3] Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2013 (Konami)  - 83.883 / NEW
06./00. [PSP] Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2013 (Konami)  - 36.002 / NEW
07./00. [PSV] Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2013 (Konami)  - 24.331 / NEW
09./00. [PSP] Kamigami no Itazura # (Broccoli)  - 12.078 / NEW
10./00. [PSP] Diabolik Lovers: More, Blood # (Idea Factory)  - 10.481 / NEW
11./10. [PSV] Dangan-Ronpa 1-2: Reload (Spike Chunsoft) - 10.459 / 96.162 (+10%)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TuneIn radio app dials in for US Vita owners

I love TuneIn on my iPhone for listening to olde rock stations, sports and the odd burst of trance when trying to concentrate. Now the app is being made available in the US for Vita and PS3 users, available for free and with account support so you can get your favourites list.
Hopefully it'll make it to Europe, but since we still haven't seen the Netflix app over here (what the Hell is up with that?) don't count any radiophonic chickens. UPDATE: The app is live on the European PSN (you might need to search for it), but is only free to PS+ subs, otherwise its a paltry 79p, which shouldn't break many banks. Of course the mobile Pro version costs too, so that shouldn't be a surprise.

A shame it doesn't play in the background yet, which would make it more useful so we could browse and tweet with some tunes on.

Proteus gets new trailer to celebrate launch

This week sees Angry Birds, Invizimals and probably a few others launching on the Vita, but this amazing ambient world-changing game looks the most likely candidate for my cash. The game got a pretty glowing review from Edge and while I know little about it from that piece, something is tickling my gaming senses.

The Walking Dead Season 2 will star little Clementine

Perhaps no surprise, but since the series is relatively new to the Vita, it might come as a shock to some to see the protagonist in the next set of zombie heartbreak (and gnawing) adventures will be none other than Clementine, the girl we tried so hard to protect in the first adventure.

Throw in all the characters met in the Vita's 400 Days DLC, most of whom you'll probably play as over the five episodes of this seasons, and its another recipe for brains! This will follow on from The Wolf Among Us, which brings some larger canines but similar decisions to make for mature adventurers. Pretty sure I'll go for the season pass on this. (Below video is age-gated).

Akiba's Trip 2 scores well in Famitsu as Japanese releases stack up

The de-clothing vampire combat game gets a decent score in the Japanese weekly along with JRPG Exstetra. With so many big games arriving and also hitting the PS3, I'm not sure AT2 will do quite as well as the PSP original, but we'll see soon enough, the game is out on 7 November, among a raft of major Vita releases.

Akiba's Trip 2 - 33/40
Exstetra - 30
Glass Heart Princess - 30 (PSP)

The Monday preview chart for Japan showed the Vita version of Jikkyou Pro Baseball selling worse than the PSP version (perhaps due to digital sales). But with Gundam Breaker out this week, expect a top two position for the Vita.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

iPhone and Android finally ready to kill off Vita and console gaming for good

Apple has taken an age to sort out the iPhone as a gaming machine, hiring games industry people and nudging the code over several years. Now it might be ready to get going for real. Buried in the recent iOS 7 update for iPads and iPhones is plenty of code to help the smartphone work with 'proper' controllers to make some games playable, others work properly and yet more run for the first time on a smartphone or tablet. Android is also supporting these devices.

While this MOGA Ace might be a mock-up, or the final thing, and while it might look pretty cack, it and an army of similar premium or budget controllers could finally kill off any real hope of a third-generation of portable gaming device from Sony. Why compete when any iOS device or Android can play games properly, stream to the big screen and be more generally useful?

If these accessories become commonplace for gaming phone owners, then what's the point of releasing a dedicated games device that will only sell a few million? Instead, Sony can bundle a controller with one of its premium Android phones and get its Vita in-house developers focused on Android via Unity. It will still only sell x million phones, but its games can reach across hundreds of millions of devices.

Third-parties can also focus their portable gaming efforts on the billion strong Android and hundreds of millions of iOS user bases who updated their devices at least twice a week, and not that quirky few million Vita owners with their slowly out-dating technology.

The tempting sound of all those in-app purchases ringing in is likely to deafen developers' ears to the cut-throat mobile games business, rampant piracy and the litany of failure for huge numbers of titles. Indies too, who are switching to the Vita as it offers a small but vibrant environment might also drown in the mobile scrum. Just Ask industry legend Jeff Minter.

Which puts Sony in a hard place. It won't be making much money off indie developers, yet they represent the future for the PS4 and beyond as AAA behemoth titles squash mid-level games, developers and a generation of talent. Who would buy a future console that just gets five or six mega games a year? Sony seems barely able to support two devices in-house, so the Vita is the obvious one for the chop.

Indie (which will soon need a far cooler name) is the answer to the future of all consoles, yet if mobiles and tablets become an all-conquering force (slowly over a couple of years, I'm not saying one game, phone or accessory will kill everything stone dead) in gaming with proper buttons and controls, what's to stop them slowly killing proper gaming for all time, as developers fall away one by one?

Batman Blackgate fails to jail break the UK top 40

How dead is portable gaming in the UK? Well, Batman Blackgate doesn't register in the new chart and is available on both PS Vita and 3DS (actually out next week on 3DS), which should have given it some impetus. The game plenty of coverage and got middling-to-decent reviews last week.

The main game on PS3 and Xbox shot straight into number one, despite selling only around half the copies of its predecessor, so there's definitely some life in the series. Perhaps if the developers had tried to convert the full-fat game onto the Vita and ditched the 3DS version, it would have sold more. Killzone Mercenary is now on its way out, down to No. 26, while the genius of Sega Tennis priced at £7 in most places continues to hang around at No. 39.

On the Vita chart Blackgate does manage to land at No. 1, but who knows with how few sales. Milestone's WRC 4 enters at No. 13. Dragon's Crown is already out of the Top 10, which suggests even the best Vita titles are only selling limited numbers of boxed copies.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Everyone loves Tearaway

Today was always going to be a bit quiet after the rush of news yesterday, but the previews for Tearaway have now gone live (since when was an embargo for previews a thing?) and all of them seem suitably glowing about the papertrail game. It looks like the most original thing in all gaming this year, nevermind on the Vita.

Kotaku: "I think there's finally a game you really do need a PlayStation Vita to play and a Vita game you’re really going to need to play"

Sixth Axis: "In terms of platforming gameplay, aside from all of the touching, poking and crafting that You will be doing, it’s a pretty standard affair. Once Iota collects that jump move, it becomes similar to Banjo-Kazooie and the platforming games that I grew up with, which I personally find quite endearing."

OPM UK: "But it’s the way you’re involved in, and made a part of, the world that really wins. You’re an active role of the story, a mysterious entity just outside Iota’s world who he needs to get a message to."

God is a Geek: "Use the touch screen to fold a part of the environment and it crumples up exactly like in real life. It sounds like a stupid thing to say about a world made of paper, but the world is realistic."

Many more are popping up, I'd imagine the reviews will pretty much follow these trails of thought. Which leaves the one big question, what on earth will Media Molecule come up with next?

Get your fight on or your clothes off in this new Akiba's Trip 2 video

If you're playing as a vampire that is, if that's possible? Do the goodies risk losing their undies too if they take too much of a beating? Is there an option to run into a gaming-clothes store and pull on a new PacMan hoodie mid-bout to re-arm? These and other questions will probably never be answered by western gamers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Toukiden passes 500,000 sales in Japan, winging its way west

And they say original IP games don't sell! Tecmo Koei's Toukiden on the Vita has now sold around 470,000 physical copies and will easily have passed half-a-million thanks to digital sales in Japan. All that as we await the arrival of the western version. With God Eater 2 to come in Japan, that'll likely soon claim the sales record, but its good to see original games can sell, even on a modestly popular format like the vita, which is approaching 2 million Japanese sales, so around a quarter of gamers own it I guess.

Wolf Among Us follows The Walking Dead onto Vita

Quite the raft of new games news today,with the latest being the perhaps unsurprising news that Telltale's The Wolf Among Us will hit the Vita. Hopefully they've tidied up the engine from Walking Dead (review), but still packed it to the rafters with tension and heart-rending decisions. More on the PSN blog.

Ragnarok Odyssey Ace will hit western Vitas

Not too much of a surprise, I guess the original did okay over here, given the lack of other monster hunting options until Soul Sacrifice turned up. But Xseed has now confirmed we'll get the game in early 2014 with cross-play between the Vita and PS3. The physical version will come with the games soundtrack on CD and existing users' Ragnarok DLC can be downloaded into the new game. More on the PSN blog.

Behind the scenes with Batman Blackgate

Hot on the heels of yesterday's screenshots, listen to the developers at Armature guide us through a level in the Vita's upcoming Batman title, with a full array of gadgets being used to help Bats through the level, plus some tips on how best to navigate those brutish tugs.

OlliOlli helping the Vita get its indie skate on

OlliOlli has come on massively since its early showings, and now the finished article is almost ready to hit the Vita for some superior endless running (or skateboarding) action. This teaser shows exactly how much fun there will be splatting your body into the concrete.

A-Men 2 tries to take the Vita by storm again

Arriving in November, A-Men 2 is the sequel to one of the Vita's original indie games that got rather overlooked in the rash of first launch titles. From Bloober, it'll be cross-buy with the PS3 and looks to be a more polished affair than the first one. Bloober also did Deathmatch Village, if anyone got into that.

Between Me and the Night, a new indie with Vita stretch goal

To be found on indiegogo, Between Me and the Night is an impressive looking comic-stylised puzzle adventure game developed by Rain Dance Studios with a basic funding goal of $70,000 with a Vita and PS3 version kicking in at $410,000. They promise to that if funded, the Vita version won't be just a cheap port, the game will be fully re-imagined for the platform.

Destiny of Spirits beta quick play

Bad Luck, oh thanks for that. If I was superstitious I'd stop playing this game beta right now. But that's what I got just for entering my age (old) and location (knackered old country) into this global online myth-based battling game. On the other hand, my lucky element is 'wood', so at least some Americans will get a chuckle from Destiny of Spirits.

The actual game sees you try to conquer the world via competitive battles against sets of darker creatures, with your party of up to six mythical creatures battling in online contests. You can have three beasts in a fight at once, and they use elemental and skill relationships to boost each other's abilities, tilting a fight in your favour. If a beast or your team die in battle then it takes half-an-hour for them to revive, so you'd better develop a strong bench.

Building a strong party is clearly the key to success and collecting Spirit Points, Summoning Stones and Destiny Orbs, won after successful battles, will help to boost your forces, with the last item used to summon super-creatures. You can also merge creatures to create more powerful ones, which should provide plenty of thinking, especially when trading with other players. Spirit Points are rare and needed to boost your health, guess where the currently inactive Store will come in handy?

As you can see, its all neatly, drawn, although there's next to no animation in the battle scenes, and it looks like once the game goes live, some Sony celebrity characters might enter the fray to liven things up. I can't find PvP in the beta, not sure if that will be a feature of the final game, but it would be a great diversion to the main mild co-op based play.

The tutorial and beta offers a quick look at a slickly presented game that may just be a touch stat- and skill-heavy for casual gamers. Spirits and gifts can be traded with other players to open up the social aspect and friends can be drafted in to add support for big Boss battles, at a cost. You can also go hunting for new spirits using the GPS (or WiFi location).

My only outright concern at this point is the near constant game-halting "communicating" circle almost every time you tap something. Developer Q? Entertainment need to sort that out, I know an always online game needs to regularly update to the server, but it can do it in the background without slowing down the player. There's also too much hopping to the message screen, pop-ups would help sort that out.

Another gripe are some currently dumb interface decisions. For example, it will let you send a friend request, and only then will it tell you "You can't send any more friend requests!" Exclamation marks appear on a main menu item but when you tap that menu, none of the sub-options have the mark so you don't know which one has something urgent to tell you.

Also, Spirit selection for your party should be drag-and-drop, that's why we have touchscreens! You shouldn't have to tap through multiple menus, when you could slide along the list of reserves and drop them into blank holes or to replace tired/KO'ed characters. Similarly, the Mailbox needs an Accept All option as wading through a day's gifts/bonuses and credits takes too long.

As its a beta, there's also lots of failure to connect messages and other dropouts, that had all better be fixed by launch (unlike Killzone). If Sony get enough players into this, and as a free-to-play title it should (unlike Ridge Racer and PlayStation All-Stars which are now die-hard-fan only territory) then this could be a vibrant alternative to Pokemon or the endless mobile battle games for the Vita.

See the recent beta trailer and the original E3 announce trailer here, anyone else playing the beta, what are your thoughts?

Proteus arrives next week on Vita

Arrrggghhh! Aliens! Oh, that was Prometheus. Sorry. The rather calmer game Proteus lands on PS Vita next week after its successful launch as a PC indie hit. Improvements on the original include, location-based creation of island worlds using the Vita's portability and players can now effect the environment directly, adding depth and immersion.

Proteus is a game about exploration and immersion in a dream-like island world where the soundtrack to your play is created by your surroundings. Played in first-person, the primary means of interaction is simply your presence in the world and how you observe it. The procedurally generated islands are home to creatures natural and imagined, tranquil valleys and ruins with magical properties.

MotoGP 13 gets patched

A quick fix from Milestone for those enjoying the dramatic conclusion to the MotoGP season and some super-fast racing on their Vita. The patch for all systems is available to download and includes fixes for:

  • When selecting custom rider, the race number of the bike in the pits has now the same colour of the main bike 
  • After playing an online race, in the Race Results screen, physics settings of the previous race are properly displayed 
  • The stat “Career pole positions” in MyGP statistics is now working properly 
  • Online modes performances have been improved 
  • The opponent of the last race can’t be changed anymore from the post race menu 
  • When technical problems are set to ON, adversaries behavior is now much more realistic 
  • When performing a 100% length race, the lap and position counter is now working properly even when using Rewind after completing about 75% of the laps 
  • Minor save games issues have now been fixed 
  • When playing a full weekend race, on wet condition only soft tyres were available. Now the behaviour is correct. 
  • During online races, the sound of the semaphore on the grid, can be now heard properly. 
  • General stability of the game has been improved 
  • Fix the bug that something occurred with only the player is on track (Only PSVITA) 
  • Fix on suspensions damages, this bug created the “bike underground” effect 

NIS bringing Hyperdimension Neptunia to western gamers

Nippon Ichi ends the wait for a crumb from the Japanese table of Vita gaming goodness with Hyperdimension Neptunia PP (WIP title) coming to the US and Europe in 2014. Also coming is Mugen Souls Z for PS3. With a retail and PSN release, the Idea Factory game promises a dose of crazed idol career building in a virtualized world.

In HDNPP, the player takes on the role of the main character, hired by one of the four CPUs—Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert — to be their producer and manage their idol careers. Get your training wheels on, ladies, because a new producer is in town and the fate of Gamindustri hangs in the balance! Will you be able to properly raise these CPUs into idols, or will their citizens be stolen away from them by the popular idol group MOB-48!? Teach these girls to sing, dance, and properly promote themselves to the general populace thanks in part to your expertise in training video game idols back on Earth. As the girls' popularity rises, they will be able to join one another in singing duets, or maybe even come together for a full ensemble!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PSN EU Update, Holy Bat Demo and JRPG sale

The highlight of the Vita update this week is a demo of Batman Blackgate (arriving Friday), plus a trial of Valhalla Knights III which you should probably try as the game is getting some very polarised opinions around the net. After the big KZM patch comes the Killzone Mercenary Art Book, a free download and the beta of Destiny of Spirits, the big Vita card game (note, the beta doesn't kick off until tomorrow, so no rush).

Otherwise its sales and DLC with the first Persona title now stupidly cheap for PSP/Vita, with extra reductions for PS+ subs:

LittleBigPlanet 2 (Cross-Buy) – The Nightmare Before Christmas Costume Pack – Level Creator Pack
Hungry Giraffe (mini) – Was £2.49/€2.99, Now £1.24/€1.49
Hungry Giraffe (Vita) – Was – £2.39/€2.99, Now £1.19/€1.49
International Snooker – Was £9.99/€12.99, Now £3.09/€4.02
Growlanser Wayfarer of Time – Was £15.99/€19.99, Now £7.99/€9.99
Gungnir – Was £15.99/€19.99, Now £7.99/€9.99
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona Full Game [PSP] – Was £7.99/€9.99, Now £3.99/€4.99
Let’s Fish! Hooked On – £9.99/€12.99

Vita sells another 25K in Japan

The Vita version of FIFA 14 made a suitably inauspicious entrance in the latest Japanese charts, outside the top 20, while the PS3 version managed a top six spot, suggesting that Japanese gamers aren't being fooled. Danganronpa Reload clings to a top 10 spot, just, but things get busy again soon. 

The new Vita itself sold almost 25,800 units according to Media Create, and with a hot roster of games to come over the next month, should be pushing past 2 million lifetime units in Japan pretty quickly, and we still have the Vita TV to come. 

MXGP Gets a world champion in the game

Milestone's upcoming Motocross title should offer some more thrills and spills than the technical and precise MotoGP game for Vita owners, and it now has the stamp of a seven-time world champ on it. Meet Tony Cairoli who will be one of the playable riders in this mud-splattered racer.

Vita games stack up in the latest Famitsu reviews

Another batch of review scores from Japan are in for the Vita, showing off some decent numbers (whatever your opinion of Famitsu scores) for this season's big games. These games should keep the new Vita selling in the run up to God Eater 2 and Vita TV.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 (PSV) – 9/8/8/8
Gundam Breaker (PSV) – 9/8/8/8
FIFA 14 (PSV) – 8/8/7/7
Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko (PSP) – 8/8/7/7
Seishun Hajimemashita! (PSP) – 8/7/7/7
Heart no Kuni no Alice (PSP) – 8/7/7/7
FIFA 14 (PSP) – 7/7/6/5

Batman Blackgate screens show the scowl through the cowl

The Blackgate game for the Vita and 3DS is almost upon us with a release of Armature's game due next week. The busy studio, also working on Injustice, seems to have captured Bats in all his brooding magnificence and made good use of his collection of bat-belt accessories. Be fun to compare these with the 3DS version.

Elemental's Reborn Kickstarter goes back in the incubator

The rather smashing-looking cyberpunk action RPG Reborn was announced for Kickstarter a few weeks back, but has been put on hold due a delay in the team getting a solid-looking gameplay example together. As the company puts it:
Elemental-Labs has been working tirelessly to get gameplay footage up and running to show to fans, but it appears that it will take another several weeks to finalize. They know that without in-game footage, their audience will not be convinced of their ability to make a game. So, rather than having the project end without showing sufficient assets to the audience, they have decided to cancel the project for the time being and relaunch it with gameplay footage in November.
 So, if you were keen on this game then watch out for the relaunch of the Kickstarter campaign in a few weeks. As mentioned in the first story, the Vita stretch goal is a pretty big one, but if a decent gameplay video helps get it there, then it would have been worth the delay.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes gets a launch trailer

Okay, so the Vita version isn't the open world adventure, but its still got big figures in it and, hey, if you're a fan of Agents of SHIELD then you have to buy it, right? The game is out this week in the US and Europe and here's a new trailer to celebrate.

No reviews of the Vita version yet, but the big-screen editions seem to be doing okay, with a good score from Polygon among others.

So you're buying a PS Vita, essential games to own

Just over a year ago, I wrote this buying guide, covering the best Vita games, budget titles, augmented games and others so far, which has proved to be one of the more enduring articles on the blog. All the games on the original article are still valid choices, but its time for the 2013 version, for all those who are picking up a Vita now they're dirt cheap, or are planning on joining the fun with Vita TV.

If you're coming in late, that's an impressive roster of good or great games (for a theoretically struggling platform) and the indie stream has really given it impetus. See my reviews list for some more detail, or search the blog for news, video etc. Anything I've forgotten, or your own favourites? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sony plays the nostalgia violin for your #PlayStationMemories

What was your first PlayStation memory? Sony wants to know on the twitter hashtag #PlayStationMemories and put together a cute video of some idealised PS love. Mine are in more-or-less order...

  • Watching the original Ridge Racer on a Japanese import PSX
  • WipEout on PlayStation, and pretty blown away by it on PSP and Vita too! 
  • Staying up all night with flatmates, taking turns to finish the first Tomb Raider game (and then the second)... 
  • Trying to explain who "revolting ocelot" was to my girlfriend when she came in on the Metal Gear Solid early going
  • Sadly moving my Dreamcast aside to make way for a silver PS2
  • Getting a PS3 just six months ago and having a truckload of free PS+ games to enjoy

Fez running on a Vita, just about

See those few pixels in the middle, that's movement that is. Meaning this isn't just a screenshot plastered on a Vita as a joke. It comes from Polytron's Twitter account, so has to be real right? You can just make out the hero on the same platform, and the whole thing looks pretty much like the Xbox version. Just how much of it is finished though? Lets hope we here some more details soon.

Japanese releases as the busy season arrives

Things are about to get very busy in gaming, and while the Vita might take a back seat to the PS4 over here, in Japan its pretty much a firm second favourite behind the PS3. Here's the big releases to expect (and maybe import) in the coming weeks. At least one big (selling) release each week should see the new Vita continue to shift, but its the 14th which is the killer week for much-awaited God Eater 2 and the Vita TV arriving.

24 Oct
Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2013 Konami
31 Oct
Neptune Rebirth 1 Compile Heart

7 Nov
14 Nov
21 Nov
28 Nov

Dec 5
Batman Arkham Black Gate

Dec 19
Amnesia V
Magical Girl Madoka
Shin Gundam Mosou
Injustice Gods Among Us

Dec 26
Final Fantasy X HD
Final Fantasy X-2 HD 
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Bundle

Killzone back on top of the UK Vita chart

The Vita chart is having a bit of a shuffle at the moment, so while there are still six games that have been out around a year or longer, we have four relatively new titles, with Killzone rightfully back at No. 1 (and still at 13 on the all-formats chart).

Hopefully the coming releases will finally banish some of those old-stagers, Virtua Tennis is apparently up to 15 in the all-formats chart purely on Vita bundle sales.

8 FIFA 13 EA SPORTS 10 56

Compiled by Chart Track, (C)2013 UKIE Ltd

Sega teasing new Vita game: The new story will begin

So far the teaser site is only showing a flashy text logo, but buried in the source meta data is the telltale sign, "PlayStation Vita" which pretty much gives the format game away (and Vita only too, whoo-hoo). But what is the game? The colour scheme of the flash looks a bit Shenmue, but the logo is nothing like Shenmue's script curves. Any ideas?

It doesn't look very Yakuza-like, which was my second thought. A story-led game suggests something adventurish, "The new story" suggests an existing series getting a new tale, rather than a whole new world and series, or am I just reading too much into it?

Update: Some of the Japanese text apparently suggest its a card battler game, which is a massive let-down right away. A new free-to-play in-app-purchase heavy title beckons I fear.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Starlight Inception beta hitting PSN on the 22nd

Heads up Kickstarter types who backed Escape Hatch's Starlight Inception, the Vita's first crowd-funded game. Check your email for your beta download code and put it somewhere safe for a couple of days, as the beta goes live next Tuesday. In it we get to fly the Lightning craft through the tutorials, get ready to feedback with your bug reports and issues.

Note that some graphics are still placeholders, as is the voice track, which will all be revised before release. A final version is expected before the end of the year with a release date TBC. Sure, this isn't quite Elite Dangerous or that other big-budget Kickstarter, or even the better-specified PC version, but its ours and hopefully we'll get to love it.

UPDATE: Note the beta codes only work on the US PSN store, EU types are out of luck, for now.

Atlus joins in the Persona sales fun for Americans

Europe already has a sale on for the Persona PSP titles via Ghostlight, now Americans can get in on the act too, a PSN sale from Atlus for the three Persona titles plus a host of others is live to help you fill up your new 32GB (or 64GB card if you imported) with gaming goodness.

Class of Heroes Was $14.99, Now $7.49
Crimson Gem Saga Was $14.99, Now $7.49
Hexyz Force Was $14.99, Now $7.49
Kenka Bancho Was $14.99, Now $7.49
Knights in the Nightmare Was $14.99, Now $7.49
Persona Was $19.99, Now $9.99
Persona 2 Innocent Sin Was $19.99, Now $9.99
Persona 3 Portable Was $19.99, Now $9.99
Riviera Was $9.99, Now $4.99
Yggdra Union Was $9.99, Now $4.99

The Persona 3 movie gets a new trailer

They've been dragging this out since summer, but a third trailer released recently says this is getting near to release in Japan, with a late November date tagged on the end. You can watch the previous trailers on the film's site along with a host of other information. Could this be a modern-day Akira? Given the western success of the games. I'd certainly take my PSP on a date to a cinema to see it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

US Black Friday deals reveal cheap Vita goodies

While you can pick up dirt cheap Vitas with loads of games in the UK (via Argos), Americans will have to wait for the Black Friday sales in a few weeks when their mad selling season kicks off. However, those deals are always leaking early and its no surprise to find some Vita goodies among the madness. This is a Gamestop flyer with cheap bundles, memory and games. No doubt the other box shifters will reveal their offers soon, while Amazon will have its own mad sales (which the UK version usually replicates in a milder form)

Friday Thought: How Sony can sell indies to the great buying public

As most of us already know, gaming has a problem. As another big studio (2K Marin) closes, we'll likely see a couple more small studios emerge from the grim chaos. They join the herd of smaller and indie studios, and those using crowd-funding to develop new games and ideas, perhaps netting the Vita a new game or two.

The trouble is, if you walk into a game store, or a supermarket, mall or whatever, all of that vibrant activity, the imagination, the revolutionary ideas all remain completely invisible. If you look at a shop's Vita rack, you might see eight games and maybe an edge-on row of second-hand titles. That's not going to interest any casual buyer. Even if you look on Amazon (UK at any rate) the Vita apparently has five games coming out for it in the next 90 days... you'd think the format was already dead, there are more Dreamcast games coming out this year!

Sony has a few months until the Vita 2000 and TV hits western shelves (I'm sticking to my two-year anniversary date of 24 February or around then, unless these sudden £139 deals are a fire sale before the new models blow in before Christmas, in which case stick with the Penguins) to figure out a way to enlighten the masses. How would you do that?

Here's my plan... Don't by clever, be Honest! I'd put out TV adverts throwing 50 titles in rapid fire succession at the viewer, I'd say "These awesome games are only available on the PlayStation Network Store. To access PSN you need a Vita/Vita TV, PS3 or PS4... these are available in the shops... buy one now!"

Sure you'd have to put an asterisk up for some non-exclusive games, but who looks at the small print? You could follow that up with tabloid newspaper adverts with a 100 screens across a spread... "100s of games, free or cheap with PlayStation Plus, only online" (more asterisks for subscription costs and so on). Do that long enough and hard enough, and people would get the idea that there's an ecosystem behind what they see on the shelves.

As the indie scene continues to explode, the Vita has a unique opportunity as an easy-to-develop for portable system with proper controls. It is perfect for short-bursts of gaming between home and office, when the big TV is being hogged, first thing in the morning or late at night. Have you seen Sony trying to sell any of that aspect to the real world?

Combine the two ideas and it could just help sell some handhelds. Personally, I've pretty much given up hope for Sony's marketing machine, trying to cling on to some broken demographic research and some clean-living lifestyle aesthetic. Sony will only be doing its job when there's a mainstream advert of someone playing while in the toilet! Any other ideas?

Free-to-play Crazy Market hits the Vita

Game Atelier brought the charming Sunflowers to the Vita, and is now back with a free-to-play offering with a broad appeal. Only a 31MB download, there's the usual in-app purchases of coins and a couple of boosters, but nothing too insidious.

Crazy Market lets you take control of the pretty Lulu or the dynamic Eugene and run the cash register from the biggest supermarket in town. But the task won’t be so easy, the Boss is pretty nuts and won’t hesitate to throw bombs directly on the conveyor belt, where customers may also forget their babies or even their cute little doggies!

Hopefully you can use any of the 6 super-boosters to make your life easier. Can you make it through the whole three months at the supermarket before your well-earned holidays under the sun? The game features 110 levels scattered on 60 days, 12 useful boosters and upgrades, 108 different items and their catalog cards to collect, 11 trophies and a leaderboard.

God Eater 2 less than a month away, new video counting down

Namco's God Eater 2 hits Japan on 14 November, and there's a new video out to help with the countdown. It seems like a mish-mash of previous ones, plus some new gameplay clips, a better look at the new weapons, all overlaid with a decent piece of choral music.

Check out the opening anime video in full, if you've missed that. We live in hope of a western release, but with the demo rolling out content since July, Japan is pretty much stoked for this game which coincides with the release of the Vita TV. That and the cross-play PSP version releasing alongside should provide pretty spectacular sales.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ys Memories of Celceta being recalled in English

Fed up of seeing too many Japanese screenshots on these pages? I know, it hurts doesn't it. Still, its not all bad news, despite Namco and others being stingy bastards, as Xseed is hard at work bringing Falcom's Ys Memories of Celceta for us English users. Gematsu has the first batch of sweet-looking screens and some art. I've put a couple of the brighter ones here.

Killzone Mercenary patched for future expansion

Good news everyone... the new Killzone patch fixes those pesky network drops and other connections problems even the fastest of Wi-Fi and broadband connections have been having. Then there's better use of respawn points to stop the near-instadeath problem plus the usual fixes and improvements. The patch also prepares the way for future DLC expansion, which was something hinted at by Guerrilla earlier this week.

Bad news everyone... the patch is a whopping 1.2GB, to download, but will replace the original patch when its installed. However, you still need that amount of space to download and install it. Thank God those 32GB cards are so cheap now (irony alert). Another (smaller) patch is promised in the near future, hopefully that will provide some new MP maps for us to rage around.

CastleStorm pits the knights against vikings for keeps

Coming to the Vita next month, just in time for bonfire night, we've been waiting for CastleStorm for a while and Zen Studio is finally ready to deliver a mix of castle construction and balista-powered breakdowns. With multiplayer, co-op and medieval vs. viking machismo, it should be a great laugh. Priced $9.99 on the US PSN with Cross-Buy, more details here.

UPDATE: The game is now live on the EU PSN at £7.99 with a trial version for those who want to test it out first.

OMG Zombies HD hitting America for Halloween

Done and dusted in Europe, but Americans can now destress after the trials of latest Walking Dead episodes and shoot masses of the undead, just in time for Halloween. It will be released in North America on October 29th at the undeadly price of $3.99, and offers  a vicious challenge as you have only a few shots to dispose of hordes of the shamblers.

For those of you who never experienced the simple joys of zombie-popping in OMG-Z, then you’ll need to know that a virus has sprung from experiments on a virulent fungus that causes its zombified victims to EXPLODE when attacked. If any infected matter lands on another zombie then they explode too, causing a chain-reaction-tsunami of gore! Wise to this, your Riot Cop character is able to take down whole city blocks of the undead with a single well-placed rifle round!

Kickstarted RPG Liege gets its art together

Back in the summer (you know when it was warm), Liege was on Kickstarter with a Vita stretch goal. All of that got funded and the Coda Games team, led by John Rhee are now hard at work on building the game. A recent update on the KS page shows off their approach to the game's art (final version below, check the post for the creation process).

There's also a sneak listen for some of the soundtrack, and some discussion of how Unity helps them handle the 2D and 3D graphics translation and interaction. An interesting glimpse into the development processes.

Sword Art Online parries and thrusts with new imagery

Namco Bandai's PSP original sold around 140,000 copies on launch, so expect good things for this Vita update, with the recent trailer getting plenty of views too. The official site is now open, with the game down for a 2014 release. Japanese sites including Famitsu are showing off a range of art and screens, including these gems.

The Crimimal Girls caught on CCTV in new trailer

Coming out ahead of NIS' Disgaea 4 title, get ready for something completely different. Also, don't press play on this video if you're in a public, work or other area likely to cause embarrassment, and I'm not even going to bother with some of the screens doing the rounds on Japanese sites. Criminal Girls Invitation (an update to a PSP game) has some serious issues with "rehabilitation", all wrapped up in the doe-eyed RPG presentation style. Out in November, this would cause the Daily Mail to combust if ever imported.

Disgaea 4 Return ramps up for launch in Japan

Okay, insert your own caption for whatever the young voice-actress lady is doing, but the actual screens, plus the Disgaea heritage and brand of whack-ass-humour should make this game a sure fire Vita hit. It isn't out until the end of January, but Nippon Ichi is getting things rolling with a host of images, see them all on Dengeki.


Check out my review of Disgaea 3 if you've missed out on this series, its modestly priced on Amazon (better than the £34.99 PSN price) and well worth picking up. Since D3 made it west, I'd hope to see D4R make it over here too. Still no word on the Asagi 10th Anniversary Commemoration Project, which is also in development.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Vita sells 60,000 in Japan

As expected (see earlier post) the Vita 2000 didn't suddenly set the Japanese market alight, however it did enough to pull the Vita out of its six week sub-10K slump, selling a hefty 60,166, according to the new Media Create data, just shy of the price-cut numbers. But with the whole country playing Pokemon, it was not really a surprise.

On the software front, Danganronpa Reload 1-2 gave new owners something to play, selling over 75,000 units. Sega's Pro Soccer Club sold another 33,000. Bringing up the back of the Top 20 was Arc System Works' Tsukei Gakuen, selling 4,500, making it four Vita games in the chart, as Legend of Heroes Sen no Kiseki sticks around for a fifth week and approaching 100,000 sales total.

Coming soon to the Vita are ever popular Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2013 baseball which picked up a decent score of 34 in the latest Famitsu. Biggie God Eater 2 (with a hardware bundle) is now less than a month away, launching alongside the Vita TV, with that lot plus the Final Fantasy and other bundles, Vita has no excuse not to sell well through to the end of the year.

Limbo and Obscure join in Sony's horror sale

Underneath a huge list of PS3 games, that rather bizarrely includes Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Sony has tacked on a couple of Vita titles with 25% extra off for PS+ subs as part of a horror-themed sale. Limbo is the most likely pick-up being a class indie game. Obscure is a PSP game that I vaguely remember playing and being a decent shocker adventure.

UPDATE: Sony also has a Cross-Buy sale on for all games that you can play on both Vita and PS3 for one price. Details here but the big guns are Hotline Miami and Guacamelee.

Sale is live now, on a browser anyway, click Choose A Version on the left to pick the sale price.

LIMBO Was €12.99/AU$18.45/£9.99, now €4.93/AU$7.01/£3.79
Obscure: The Aftermath  Was €14.99/AU$21.95/£11.99, now €5.99/AU$8.78/£4.79

PS Vita 2000 Japanese sales revealed today, a new start for Sony?

At 2PM UK time we should get the latest Media Create sales figures through. I suspect they won't represent some magical "Vita is saved" moment for the handheld, but things should be looking gently up from now on. The main reason is I think that Japanese's loyal Sony gamers are rather more looking forward to the Vita TV, but mostly because agnostic gamers are all playing Monster Hunter and Pokemon on their 3DS systems.

Some 5-6 million combined sales in a couple of weeks puts the Vita in true perspective, when its best games are selling maybe 250,000 copies. Perhaps God Eater 2 and Hatsune Miku 2 will shift 500,000 but where is the Vita game that will sell in the seven figure range?

That's Sony's next part of the Vita puzzle. Its hard getting new games to sell lots, so Soul Sacrifice and the upcoming Freedom Wars, however good, will take time to generate fans. Then there's the move to mobile which further limits investment. Look at Namco in Japan, moving all its big titles to free-to-play on console, and you know they'll be cut down to mobile soon enough.

The Vita really can't compete for third-party developer's attention (especially in the west), which leaves a life of plentiful but small-selling indies until Sony can unleash a Gran Turismo, God of War double-act, with perhaps a little help from a GTA Stories or another go at Call of Duty. That interest might tick up due to the huge number of bundle bargains now available, guess stores are clearing out ahead of the western launch of the new Vita model.

Even that level of activity might not boost its fortunes that much (unless Sony pays a fortune for Star Wars Battlefront exclusivity, but that's madness), but should do enough to see the Vita through to its mid-life point, where Sony can either try again, or quietly retire its portable gaming dreams. Anyone think there will really be a true successor to the Vita, outside of Japan anyway?

PSN and PSM EU Update, Angry Birds, Fractals and Dark Quest

Muramasa Rebirth is the stand out game on this week's EU PSN update for £19.99, although it might be over-looked by everyone playing Dragon's Crown. There's also a demo of WRC 4, which is worth trying out. Angry Birds, over-priced but at least over here, is also clucking up on the store. With all three versions including Seasons and Rio, there's plenty of levels if you've never played them before on any of the million devices they're available for for a lot less money.

On the DLC front, Zen Pinball gets its new set of Star Wars tables, with Darth Vader and the ships that made the films so memorable taking centre stage.

Valhalla Knights 3 is out next week, despite only being in Europe digitally. If the game is finished, not sure why can't they release it now? Note, if you were looking for it here, Worms came out last week, a week early, to prove such things can happen.

Some new games have arrived on PSM, including Dark Quest, a great iOS game conversion, and only 40MB (plus the PSM runtime if you've never installed one of these games before). Dark Quest is a turn-based, fantasy role playing adventure where players take the role of a mighty barbarian on his epic quest to destroy the forces of the evil sorcerer and save the land.

Stumbling through the dungeons with limited time to find the evil wizard, you can bump into allies and form parties, all with rapid-fire turns. I was wondering about a Bard's Tale or Eye of the Beholder style game on the Vita, anyone know of any works in progress?

Also out in Fractopia, a nostalgia trip for those who used to play with mandlebrot generators back in the day, (I coded it on a Spectrum once to see how many days it would take to render). Worth a go if you never played with the originals.

Dragon's Crown goes cross-play, new video

A new video from Altus celebrates the now-live update to Dragon's Crown (review) that means Vita and PS3 owners can play together, substantially boosting the player base for both sets of owners (sales were around 60% PS3, 40% Vita) making online a more fun place to play. It also makes you wonder how close the code-bases are for PS3 and Vita games to allow this to happen. If the Vita sells a few million units this Christmas (wildly optimistic I know), maybe more games will get this treatment.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Get Emerald on Vita for just $15,000 Canadian

Another day, another Kickstarter project reaches out to the Vita crowd. Emerald from Krang Games is already funded but has a stretch goal for a Vita version, and looks like a true indie game worthy of the conversion effort. Its around halfway to that goal, so doesn't too much of a nudge in the last 50 hours and as a fun little indie, with hints of several classic space games, rather than a megabucks project, shouldn't take too long to arrive.

Ghostlight's Autumn sale, full of PSP goodness

Not got any of these games for your PSP yet? Well get cracking, because despite their PSP status and regular appearance in PSN sales, they're pretty much all classics, with additional goodies too. Its kind of annoying these boxed copies don't come with a PSN voucher so you can download a copy to the Vita. Check out some PS2 and PS3 titles as well, on the GL Blog.

Fate/EXTRA (Standard Edition) + free 'Fate/The Fact' Booklet PSP was £19.99 now £12.99
Fate/EXTRA (Standard Edition) + free 'Fate/The Fact' Booklet + A1 Poster PSP New Item £17.99
SMT: Persona 2 Innocent Sin (Standard Edition) PSP £24.99 £14.99
SMT: Persona 2 Innocent Sin (Standard Edition) + Persona 2 T-Shirt PSP New Item £24.99
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (Standard Edition) PSP £19.99 £12.99
Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky (Standard Edition) + A1 Poster PSP New Item £17.99

Watch Tempest 2xK in action on the Vita

Not much in the way of sound, but watch the game in action on a Vita and big-screen via the developer kit video-out, looks truly excellent from a recent U.K. game event. It does look pretty spectacular and fast as you like with particles flying everywhere, while retaining the arcade snappiness of the original.

Invizimals won't only exist on your Vita's screen, real toys coming soon

Based on the success of Skylanders, and I don't know how Disney's toy-game thing is doing, but Sony has got a toy tie-in deal to go with those beasts behind the sofa, Novarama's Invizimals. I'm not sure if that'll be like a smart-toy service that interacts with the Vita or just some fluffy or plastic versions of the monsters from the screen.

With two games out later this month, Invizimals could lead the child-friendly charge for the handheld and PS3, but those toys had better arrive fast to make an impact on the shelves. Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom and Invizimals: The Alliance are coming to PS3 and PS Vita on October 30th

Loving the opening anime for God Eater 2

Namco aren't sparing the budget on God Eater 2, with the PSP and Vita game getting a top notch anime intro. It should stoke anyone with a pulse for the November release in Japan. With the masses of coverage the enormous demo has been getting plus the rolling releases of news about characters and weapons, this is shaping up to be the Vita's biggest game ever, possibly for all time.

Another mad Vita advert sweeps Japan

After the hit penguins, Sony has gone even further off the beaten track with a number of statues singing the praises of the new model Vita to the Japanese public, showing off the upcoming Final Fantasy X HD and God Eater 2 titles. Word is the Vita 2000 isn't exactly flying off shelves in Japan, so either folks are waiting for these games or the hoped-for second wind will either happen with Vita TV next month, or never, ever!

Dragon's Crown sneaks into the all-formats chart

Maybe Vita sales are picking up, not by much, but enough to propel a relatively niche, hardcore, game to No. 19 in the all formats charts (so that could easily be as low as a 1,000 sales, with a 59%/41% split between PS3 and Vita versions). Naturally, Atlus's Dragon's Crown stomps its way to the top of the Vita chart. While Liberation continues to sell as it approaches its first birthday, a pair of Tecmo titles reenter the fray, perhaps there's a sale on somewhere.


Review: The Walking Dead

Now how's this for a polarized review. One of the best stories in recent gaming history, (perhaps since Full Throttle), meets one of the worst conversions since World Cup 90. I Played the first Chapter on Xbox but held off the rest for the Vita version, which is a shame. And, if you've played it through on another format, then move on by, there's little to see here.

The story, sees convicted murderer Lee sent on his way down a road full of harrowing choices, stark realities, gruesome discoveries and general zombie ickiness. Across five chapters of rapid-paced decision making, quick-time events and life-or-death moments, you need to lead the people you meet to safety, or at least to make it through to see another dawn.

Its not only the zombies that are causing problems, the frailties of a fractured society are dragged to the surface in grim juxtaposition to the zombie's simple need for brains. I won't spoil any details (so this is a really short review), but it shocks, stuns and brings emotional response like few games will as you choose who lives, dies or suffers due to your choices. The end particularly can make for traumatic playing... with an audience conditioned to last-minute heroism, deus ex machina interventions and other gimmicks, this is as close to hopelessness as its likely you'll feel in a game.

All of which mastery, painted in a world-of-brown palette and broad brush, but effective, charactisation, with some fun zombie cliches thrown in, is so nearly ruined by a poor conversion from the big screen versions. Scenes are broken or are glitched, graphics appear incomplete, with weapons missing, horrible pauses mean you can die without reason, or are just left hanging, wondering if something is broken.

So, to cut a short story shorter. Buy this game, but not on the Vita, sure it comes with the 400 Days extra episode (more of a series of vignettes than a real story), but its not worth ruinous effect the shoddy conversion has on the experience.

With Season 2 on the way soon (and a GotY edition that matches this offering for consoles), hopefully the developers will fix the broken engine before a Vita release. Actually reading through some forums, it seems most versions are borked in some way. So perhaps the Vita version isn't so uniquely gimped.

Score: 8/10 (for another format which is slightly less glitchy, 7/10 for the Vita version - upgraded a point since I found out most other versions are pretty ropey too)
More Reviews
Price: £14.99 (PSN)
Telltale Games
File size 2.3GB
Progress: Braaaaiiiinnnnns!

Injustice shows its power on the Vita

Here's an IGN video that shows off a few minutes of the Vita version developed by Armature in action, taking at New York ComicCon. Announced just before the Spiderman news, although both games were leaked well in advance, here's hoping it lives up to its billing. Certainly Netherealm and Armature have had plenty of time to upgrade and finetime the Mortal Kombat Vita engine.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cosmic Star Heroine nears funding, new screenshot

Confirmed for the Vita, Zeboyd's Cosmic Star Heroine, should offer plenty of 16-bit RPG nostalgia when it releases next year. That's pretty much a certainty with the game only a few thousand dollars shy of its funding on Kickstarter with weeks still to go, which potentially leaves it open to being a far bigger, better adventure, if they get even more cash.

Will Amazing Spiderman be amazing on the Vita?

Whatever happened to our heroes? Well, they're slowly making their way to the Vita. We've got a belated launch for Injustice; Gods Among Us and now Spiderman (the Amazing version, not that naff old one) is heading to Vita, as confirmed by the French PSN blog.

The PS3 version get decent reviews, and is another welcome addition to the Vita line-up which is very superhero oriented this winter, with Batman and LEGO Marvel Heroes also due out. Shame that Amazing Spiderman 2 has just been announced. Hopefully if this sells well, then we'll get that one a little faster.

Surge Deluxe to supercharge your Vita

Surge was one of FuturLab's sparkling contributions to the PlayStation Mobile launch, and a fun little tappy-screen title at that. The tabloid hack in me wants to shout "Is FutureLab running out of ideas?" as the company is bringing that title in a Deluxe form to PSN, hot on the heels of Velocity, Velocity Ultra and soon Velocity Ultra 2X Doublewide with-speed-stripes-on.

Some new features to the game are highlighted in a PSN blog post, but the most welcome ones will be trophies and leaderboards. Which leads me to wonder if Sony is quietly killing off PSM as having done its job, or leaving it as a sounding board for new ideas and developers. Any news in that direction would be welcome. As for FuturLab, time to think up something new chaps? My suggestion, "New Tales from the Riverbank: Death Otters vs Pyscho Pike!"

Hatsune Miku 2f demo getting a limited release, new video

A three-song demo for the Vita's next Hatsune Miku game (one of the Vita's biggest games and biggest system sellers, see chart) Project 2nd F will be released next week in Japan, but for one week only according to reports. That's probably to help shift some hardware before a more traditional demo arrives closer to the 2014 release.

With no western version of the Vita game (although Sega made the effort for the PS3 version), importing seems to be the only way to go. The songs are "Akatsuki Arai Val," "Romeo and Cinderella", "Colorful × Melody" See the game in action in this new video that was recorded at TGS.

MotorStorm and Oddworld free on PS+ in November

Sony Europe has revealed its first wintery line-up of goodies, and while the Vita's offering of MotorStorm RC and Oddworld Strangers Wrath looks pretty limp next to Capcom's Remember Me and Konami's Metal Gear Rising for PS3 users, there's still bags of gameplay and fun to be had to while away the long dark nights.

MotorStorm's challenge lies in beating the times of your PSN buddies, and playing with all the cool DLC content, while Oddworld is a quirky action game that I never really got into first time around, might give it a more of a shot this time. More on the PSN blog.

Monster Hunter Frontier G getting unified PS3/Vita characters

Bad translation time, but the developers of MHFG are talking to the Japanese press about a major update to the game and service ahead of the ahead of the imminent PS3 and Wii U launches and 2014's Vita launch. A few points they make are:

  • Data can be shared between the PS Vita and PS3 versions, on one account. So you can play the same character at home, go out with your Vita and carry on elsewhere (but not on 3G if I read it correctly).
  • Expect gradual convergence of PS3 and Vita realms to allow players of both versions to play in the same battles. 
  • A much improved G3 update is due this month with improved server integration, and many new features. Video of the G3 edition below.
  • No 3DS version planned due to lack of common code base (not that 3DS owners will mind I suspect)

Another action clip for Samurai Warriors 2 HD

Is HD updates all we're good for these days? Seems to be an increasing trend. Worse, I keep clicking the HD option for this video and it still looks like crap, hoping that's an encoding issue rather some slackness at Tecmo Koei's end. I'm also starting to forget which games is which, as it seems like we have a herd of these fuedal Japan games coming out.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: Dragon's Crown (EU)

There's a raging debate about this game, (most reviews are giving it high scores, but some are being rather po-faced) suggesting that big muscles and boobs are teenage fantasies right? Well, throw out all your 15- or 18-rated Conans and Barbarella BDs, Bond and other action movies too, because fantasy isn't allowed for us growed-ups.

Or just drop your pretension of any moral high ground, and enjoy the game for what it is. Looking at Dragon's Crown on its own merits, what you get is a gorgeous looking scrolling combat game with a deep treasure and reward system, varied characters and lots of beatings to dole out. I was thinking more a side-scrolling Gauntlet than Diablo (which some are suggesting it riffs off), on first impressions, but there you go.

The combat is a little rudimentary to begin with, your basic slicing and dicing for the melee characters and rapid whiz of arrows and zing of magic for the ranged-types. But as skills (both specialist and common) and equipment improve you can pull off more impressive moves. It feels like a hi-res version of Golden Axe at first, but the depth soon beings to shine through.

Town plays home to shops, wizards, guilds and provides the source of your missions and lets you rest between battles. Its a bit annoying to navigate but there's a map to help speed things up. Beyond the city, a neat spinny-effect map shows the various locations in Hydeland you can visit, with each level wrapped in a cloak of gorgeous art and parallax scrolling.

Doors and weak walls provide access to extra areas, while each level is littered with secret treasures that provide new weapons, currency and other goodies. Each level can be visited multiple times on side-quests, but you do need to finish the whole route to succeed, which is another minor grievance. As is the ease with which you can get lost on screen when it fills up with heroes and ghouls, lobbing spells in all directions.

You soon pick up bones that can be restored in the city, creating an ad-hoc party, or you can go online for some multiplayer action which is (while not quite as fun as MP Bomberman, one of the more chaotic online experiences). Generally you always feel like you can progress, at least through the early stages with button-stabbing frenzy. Perhaps later on, with higher level characters it becomes essential to play more skillfully.

If things go badly, you can lose your weapon, or your life, but a restart or a new implement of vengeance is only seconds away. Exploring the new levels and developing your favourite character seems to be the driver to keep you going forward, as the story is pretty much arcade-lite, and judging by those in the States playing for months, there is plenty to keep digging for.

Really, ignore the silliness over bicep and bosom sizes, dive into the game if you have the faintest fondness for side-scrolling action, and you'll uncover a deeper adventure that while not a revelation, is a finely crafted jewel of violence and character development. Watch for all the visual splendour and effects that are lavished on the spectacle as you go, its truly impressive and the Vita copes will with all the action.

Price: £34.99 (£or £31.49 for PS+) (PSN)
Atlus (released 11 October for EU)
File size 1.1GB
Score: 8/10
Progress: Halfway up the Amazon
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