Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sword Art Online slashes to No. 1 in Japan

Namco's Sword Art Online outsells the next three games in the chart combined, storming in at the top spot of Media Create's latest chart. With BlazBlue kicking and punching its way in at No. 7 as a slightly delayed Vita release, and with Super Robot Wars sticking around at No. 8, things look pretty happy for the Vita.

01./00. [PSV] Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment # (Bandai Namco Games) {2014.04.24} (¥6.664) - 145.029 / NEW
02./00. [3DS] Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call #
(Square Enix) {2014.04.24} (¥6.264) - 80.523 / NEW
03./01. [3DS] Yo-kai Watch
(Level 5) {2013.07.11} (¥4.800) - 43.136 / 798.046 (+24%)...
07./00. [PSV] BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma
(Arc System Works) {2014.04.24} (¥6.264) - 10.709 / NEW
08./06. [PSV] 3rd Super Robot Wars Z: Jigoku-Hen
(Bandai Namco Games) {2014.04.10} (¥7.689) - 8.678 / 154.669 (-51%)

Hardware sales get a decent boost with just under 5,000 more units sold than last week's recent low. Hopefully the green line will rocket up as Golden Week sales kick in across Japan. Perhaps the PS4 and Vita TV firmware update will help goose sales of Sony's little box next week to support the Vita effort?

Arcana Heart 3: Love Max cuddling your Vita soon

Due this autumm, Arc System Works and Examu's cute lady 2D wrestling game is hitting the PS3 and Vita with suitably ludicrous characters and cuddly combat.

You want super stealthy, diminutive, speedy ninjas who vanish to confuse foes!? Like a rollerblading bat-winged beauty, or a brash giant robot-piloting bunny girl!? Characters can be combined with 23 various arcana (celestial beings) who give players more freedom in how their favorites fight (a total of 529 different combinations!). Arcana alter things like power, defense, and how quickly your power bar recharges. They can also do things such as provide healing, reflect ranged attacks, provide the power of flight, and so much more!
For more info, check out the game's website.

Vita firmware update 3.15 arrives to support the PS4

The latest Vita firmware update does little if you don't have a PS4 to sit alongside it. Is this a big hint as to the Vita's future, in the west anyway? According to a PSN update, the new version includes:

PS4 Link Update for Remote Play: Linking your PS4 and PS Vita together will now be easier with the 3.15 update for PS Vita. It’ll enable Automatic Device Registration, which will automatically detect and pair both systems when they’re both online and the same user is signed in to both devices. This makes it even quicker for you to get started on Remote Play or access other second screen features.

The update also works on the VitaTV, adding some much needed PS4 functionality, as was promised in those early adverts. Plenty of Twitter users seem keen on this, perhaps that might help sales of the Japan-only dongle along? The PlayStation iOS app is also being updated.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

School Idol Paradise is just too perky for western eyes

Hope you don't have a hangover this morning, Kadokawa's new trailer for ASCII's School Idol Paradise (Love Live) is just way too bright in all senses. With a gang of rhythm dancers, singing, pastel hearts everywhere, it is the My Little Pony of games. Don't bother bringing this one west please!

Freedom Wars subtitled trailer sets the scene

Despite some horrible grammar, unfortunate innuendo and corny dialogue, a new subtitled video from Sony gives us some of the background into Freedom Wars. Enjoy the rendered scenes as Beatrice and her hero set the scene, and let us all pray that the in-game stuff (oh which there's a few seconds) can keep its head up.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Have holiday, will travel. Western PSN gets Golden Week sale

Golden Week is hitting Japan, as the country takes off and goes travelling mad. To help them celebrate, Sony is throwing a best-of-Japan sale on the US PSN, hopefully with an EU one to follow. I guess that's only fair since Europe has stolen the Black Friday concept, lock stock and smoking discount sticker gun.

On the sale, we have a wide range of classics, including (PS+, PSN, original prices):

Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland (PS Vita) $19.59 $27.99 $39.99
Atelier Totori Plus: The Adventurer of Arland (PS Vita) $19.59 $27.99 $39.99
Chrono Cross (PS3/PSP/PS Vita) $3.49 $4.99 $9.99
Chrono Trigger (PS3/PSP/PS Vita) $3.49 $4.99 $9.99
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PS Vita) $32.39 $35.99 $39.99
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z (PS Vita) $10.00 $19.99 $39.99
Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection (PS Vita) $8.99 $14.99 $29.99
Muramasa Rebirth (PS Vita) $7.49 $12.49 $24.99
Persona 4 Golden (PS Vita) $14.62 $19.49 $29.99
Ys: Memories of Celceta (PS Vita) $19.59 $27.99 $39.99

UK Vita Chart, Demon Gaze stares hard!

Demon Gaze (review, maps) storms into the otherwise dozy Vita chart, but doesn't dent the all-formats Top 40. Still, it proves that even niche Japanese games can sell over here, would love to know some numbers from NIS America.

Football Manager maintains a grip on the top, and with no Vita world cup game (remember when they used to come out on every format in existence), expect FIFA 14 to stick around over the summer.

1 - Football Manager 2014 Sega 1 (last week's position) 3 (weeks on release)
2 new Demon Gaze NIS America - 1
3 FIFA 14 EA Sports 2 31
4 Killzone: Mercenary Sony 8 34
5 Tearaway Sony 11 23
6 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD  Square Enix 4 6

Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (C)2014 UKIE Ltd

Further adventures in Demon Gaze Maps

Having put up the first batch of Demon Gaze maps last week, here's the rest for anyone else struggling their way past Mimic and through the later stages of the game. Missing that one door, pathway or secret? Its probably here in the Grimodar, King's Court, Infinite Dungeons, Eden Dungeon, Endless Dungeon and Clock Tower (I think) and the lower dungeons when hunting for Astro, Pluto and Uranus.

The game is certainly a lot easier with the post-it notes being scattered all over the levels, although people declaring their lust for characters in rather unromantic terms is probably something we can do without. Don't forget to check out Operation Abyss from the same developers or Mary Skelter if you love your dungeons!

UPDATE: Demon Gaze II is out now!

Endless Dungeon, Dark Mine, Light Mine

Flooded Mine

Friday, April 25, 2014

Freedom Wars video shows off its melee weapons

Hmm, not sure why this video is a week old and Famitsu is running the story as news today. However, check out the melee tools of the trade in the world of Panopticon (pretty similar to any other JRPG really - where's the imagination?). Don't worry there's probably another video along next week showing the ranged weapons which will include gatlings, rocket launchers and sniper rifles.

Natural Doctrine patch makes life (and living) easier

Natural Doctrine got off to a rocky start in Japan with poor scores and weak sales. The western release should at least be off to a better start, assuming it incorporates the new patch that's out in Japan. Update 1.03 for Vita and PS3/4 reduces the games's toughness on the easy mode, which has been the cause of some complaint. Presumably, it is still a right bastard at the harder levels.

The patch also adds improvements to online play and adds a pair of co-op missions. Here's what to expect from the quirky RPG. See the Vita version in action here.

Japanese Digital sales in March, it all counts right?

Vita games do pretty well in the latest digital sales out of Japan, but still show the country's reliance on boxed copy sales, with digital sales doing around 10% of their physical counterparts. Soul Sacrifice Delta and Hatsune Miku did okay, but you wonder why gamers are asking for 256GB cards if overall sales are so light.

01. [3DS] Pokémon Battle Trozei (Pokémon Co.) - 30.235 (74.1%)
02. [PS4] Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Konami) - 14.463 (11.2%)
03. [PSV] Soul Sacrifice Δ (Sony Computer Entertainment) - 12.437 (13.8%)
04. [PSV] Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd (Sega) - 10.415 (9.2%)
05. [PS3] Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Konami) - 8.678 (4.4%)
06. [PSV] Samurai Warriors 4 (Koei Tecmo) - 6.610 (10.0%)
07. [PS3] Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd (Sega) - 4.861 (6.7%)
08. [3DS] Yo-kai Watch (Level 5) - 4.410 (2.8%)
09. [PS4] Battlefield 4 (Electronic Arts) - 4.174 (14.5%)
10. [3DS] Mario Party: Island Tour (Nintendo) - 4.162 (1.9%)

The recent Media Create figures are here. Also from Famitsu are the latest review scores (actually from last week, but Famitsu is hiding its scores now):

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma (PSV) – 8/9/8/8 [33/40]
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment (PSV) – 8/8/8/8 [32/40]
Imasugu Oniichan ni Imouto Datte Iitai! (PSV) – 6/8/7/6 [27/40]
Rayman Legends (PSV) – 8/8/8/9 [33/40]

There are no Vita reviews in this week's issue. After next week's figures things start to quieten down for a few weeks.

Attack on Titan and Fate Stay/Night get cool figurines

With an Attack on Titan game coming sometime, and Fate Stay/Night being something of a PSP classic, if you're into the games or associated series, then how about treating yourself to one of these fun figurines from Good Smile. With lavish detail, Mikasa Ackerman and Figma Archer are among the roster of heroes and villains on the site.

Attack on Titan as a game was teased last year, there's a 3DS game out, but surely something bigger is happening, and the team are making an appearance in the latest Phantasy Star Online 2 update. Other than that there's little hard info on the video game version of the popular series, perhaps something will come out to coincide with the 2015 movie.

Student project Origami Kami hits PlayStation Mobile

Senior students from the University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) program have released their senior project game for Playstation Vita. Created over the course of a school year, the game is the graduating student’s final project.

“Origami Kami” is a top down, 3D puzzle boat game. Players collect paper cranes while navigating stunning Asian rivers while avoiding whirlpools and other hazards. Accumulated cranes can be used to purchase additional boat models and skins. “’Origami Kami’ is an easy game to pick up, play, and get lost in,” said Ross Marabella, producer for Valhalla Studio Productions, who worked on the game with 10 other programmers, artists, and designers from the University of Utah. “It’s a perfect game to unwind while enjoying the scenic water and world.”

The game is available now on PlayStation Mobile for PlayStation Vita or select PlayStation Certified Android devices. It retails for $1.29.

UPDATE: Now out on the EU PSN (21 May) for just 99p.

Review: Starlight Inception

This review could easily become a massive essay on the whole idea of crowd-funding, funding levels, user expectations and interaction between fans and developers. I'll save that for another time, but, for clarity, this is the first game I helped fund and I'm delighted I did. However, when you invest in someone else's dream, just remember it remains their dream.

UPDATE: A major update is in development to help fix many of the issues in the current version of the game. I'll happily update the review when that patch goes live.

UPDATE 2: Starlight Inception quick re-review based on the new 1.01 patch. 

Well, it took ages to redownload the 2.5GB game again, then ages more to download the 2.2GB patch. When that lot was finally ready to play I reentered the world of Starlight Inception. And the good news is, yes, it is massively improved, and well worth a buy at £14 for a full space combat game on the Vita.

The Chicago mission where the original version started to go horribly wrong is a far better looking vision of desolation to fly through. Overall, gameplay is snappier, combat improved and a little, but not a lot brighter. Improvements to the mothership scenes and multiplayer means getting into the action is mercifully a lot quicker.

Starlight remains rather short, and it probably needs a PSN sale (or a cheap multiplayer-only version) to get more players into the new Quick Match lobby. The story still doesn't grab you like a space opera should, but with the Vita so light on this sort of game, you can put up with it to enjoy the zippy, varied, and rather enjoyable space combat.

So, yep, make this game a firm 7/10 now the patch has delivered on the original promise, and enjoy shooting up the final frontier on your Vita.


Starlight Inception takes place at the dawn of Worlds War IV, spreading out across the solar system, with a rookie pilot who's training mission is about to put him in the thick of the action. Told through news clips, and combat crew chatter, the war unfolds, creating a steady stream of missions similar to those space jockeys have been flying for decades. No surprises here, but that's what Starlight is about, with knowing wink to the many series that have gone before.

But what's important is getting in your Palomino fighter or Emancipator bomber and laying waste to enemy craft. The first missions are fun enough, with straight forward waypoints to follow, a few hapless enemies to hose down with guns, or missiles and other weaponry. Assisted targeting makes it easy to start, but you can disable that when you're up to speed. You can juggle guns, shields and repair priorities, and switch between weapons - all handled effectively on the Vita's limited buttons.

Things go a bit wrong for Starlight when we hit Chicago in the second mission. Clearly, the Vita (or Starlight's engine) can't handle the city graphics. Instead you get a gray world with self-constructing spires popping up as you fly around looking for survivors. But later, on Mars, you can zip around the landscape hosing ground targets quite happily, so I'm not sure what happened there!

Overall, this might look great on PC or PS3, and it certainly has an awesome big-budget soundtrack, but it suffers rather on the Vita with teeny-tiny and horrible fonts, and gloominess that no brightness setting can fix (these screens look about 10 times brighter than the actual game). There was a beta, but that was just a "does it work" test, rather than a feature test. Which is a shame as a lot of little niggles could have been ironed out of the game through proper feedback but hey, its Escape Hatch's dream, remember.

Between missions, the game falls between the two stools of trying to be a space opera and a fast-and-portable shooter. We don't need the slow walks around the Midway mothership, or the long monologues, a flat map and chatty updates as you fly between waypoints would have been so much better. Your wingmen can complete most of a mission without you, so your participation seems pretty optional.

Restarting and waypoint glitches where you've just died or that skip a mission section, are also annoying, but hopefully bugs that can be fixed. If you stay focused on the missions, with the extra patrol levels to fly and multiplayer (empty to sparsely populated), then there's just about enough to see and shoot.

The graphics sometimes impress, but are mostly poor-to-fair, while the music is suitably anthem-esque. Zipping in and out of planetary atmospheres is cool, and taking on big Tao cruisers with the multiple target spots is a brief joy, even if the framerate drops up-close. Starlight manages to capture the basics of space combat, but lacks much in the way a boresight target mode, and a light for the cave section, and there feels like little real challenge to the game.

A shame the game is way too short, but taken as a starting point, hopefully Escape Hatch will build on Starlight and make something bigger, better and more innovative. I doubt that will be for the Vita but I wish them luck. For Vita owners starved of space combat, this isn't the feast you were hoping for, but its a modest snack to chew on.

Score: 6/10 (7/10 with the patch)
More Reviews
Price: £13.99 (PSN)
Escape Hatch
File size 2.4GB
Progress: Lost in space

Flying Hamster II Kickstarted cancelled, game now has publisher

Highlighting the perils of Kickstarter, the lovely looking Flying Hamster II didn't really get going on the crowd funding service, but it did get enough attention to grab a publisher. So the campaign has been cancelled, and FDG Entertainment will help bring it to market. Hopefully there will be a Vita version after the PC launch, time to update the Kickstarter list.

Game Atelier says:
"Hi beautiful backers, During the past few weeks many things happened behind the scenes and now we are glad to officially announce our future plans for Flying Hamster II. While we were working hard on a relaunch of this Kickstarter campaign with a new approach and lots of improvements, we had the chance to discuss with FDG Entertainment's Thomas Kern about a possible collaboration on Flying Hamster II. We finally agreed to put our efforts together and make the game happen without rebooting our campaign. We are really thrilled that we can go on production earlier than we could ever expect, thanks to the help of FDG Entertainment, and without changing anything from what we initially planned to make."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ars Tactica taking turns on your Vita

Ars Tactica looks like a game following in the many Tactics titles (Final Fantasy, Ragnarok, etc) that found a home on the PSP. Bringing things up to date, Ars Tactica, offers turn-based strategy and combat set around an isometric 3D grid.

The title is being developed by Alpaca games and has a Twitter account and Facebook page offering up pics and more info. It is coming to PC and Vita, thanks to Unity, sometime soon we'd like to hope.

Thanks to Vagabond for the hint.

Sony boosting Vita production to combat stock issues in Japan

When the western Sony big cheeses were crowing about the PS4's 7 million sales, there was not a twitter about the poor old Vita, slogging away, selling 10,000 a month in the States, if you believe NPD. In Japan, however, its a different story (now matching the 3DS) with Sony's President Hiroshi Kono offering up the following nugget:
Hello, everyone. The other day, we announced in this blog, the actual sales across the whole world has surpassed 7 million units in total for "PlayStation 4" (PS4) I think this is greatly down to your support, thank you very much. Thanks, In Japan, in addition to PS4, PlayStation Vita also is very popular and is enjoying sales so that supply can not keep up, causing out of stock in some shops. 
We apologize for the inconvenience, so we have now an adjustment in order to meet the demand, thank you for your patience. 
That's been lightly edited for clarity, but with PS4 sales pretty low due to the lack of games, I'm confident he means the Vita, so it sounds like a hike in production is underway of the 2000 model (or perhaps returning unsold western 1000 units and repackaging them?), which will help sales rise further. I do love in the comments that people are asking for 128Gb and even 256Gb memory cards.

Mind Zero gets a translated developer diary

Aksys is bringing Acquire's paranormal mystery game, Mind Zero, to western Vita owners this summer. Rather than spout on, they're translating the developer's own words about what actually looks like a pretty stock dungeon crawler.

The game did pretty tamely in Japan, and really failed to stand out beyond the few real-world video clips, I mean the one bit gameplay you'd choose to use when showing a game off isn't plain text in an empty classroom? Okay, it gets more exciting in the last few seconds, but is anyone overly hyped for this?

From the developer: Mind Zero is a dungeon crawler RPG for the Vita that pits high school students in the middle of a war between our world and the mysterious and dangerous “Inner Realm”! Play as Kei, a Japanese high school student, who suddenly becomes a minder, a human who can control a MIND, an otherworldly creature with powerful skills. With the government and other minders hot on their tail, will Kei survive, or will his own MIND consume him and be his end?

Chain Chronicle V, PS Vita, 2014!

Is pretty much what this video says. The game is also for iOS and Android, making my worry slightly. Apparently, the game is a mini JRPG that's heavy on the combat. The Vita version will feature the same story and gameplay, with some extra characters and scripts.

In the game, players recruit characters into an army in order to defeat the menacing Black Army.

Ah, found a gameplay clip which explains a lot more. The game's name derives from the interlocking relationships among this vast cast of more than 200 characters. Akira Ishida voices 46 of the characters, and Ai Nonaka, Shiori Mikami, Ayane Sakura, Maaya Uchida, and Kotori Koiwai also have roles.

Sony removes your right to play games!

After the maintenance and surprise move to open up previously unplayable PSOne and PSP games on the Vita. Someone at Sony has had a hissy fit and revoked the changes, so now if you missed out, you can't download certain games on the Vita. If you got them, then well done, you! Sony on the other hand is missing the point.

Rule one of customer experience, don't give people something and then take it away.

Rule two of customer experience, if you make a mistake explain about it, don't muck about behind the scenes.

Rule three.... see Rule one.

I see no official word from Sony about what's happening here. It can't be a licensing issue, as the games were already there. At best we can hope that someone jumped the gun. At worst, Sony has just shown they can do something that benefits users and has decided to take it away again, cue toys out of prams and a minor shit storm out of what could have been a beautiful thing. But, Sony's good at producing that sort of result, so we're kind of used to it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Monster Hunter Frontier G gets collaborating

While we wait for Capcon's olde online monster hunting game to arrive on the Vita, and then get its arse over to the west, the Japanese team is still churning out content for the existing PC and console versions.

Watch in amazement as a dragon protected only by giant blotchy pixels is attacked by the team from Attack on Titan (looking very Battlestar Galactica, chaps), then go wow as the Infinite Stratos team do a little song and dance. I guess all this content will hopefully come to the Vita, if you like that sort of thing. Otherwise, is there any point in releasing the game on the Vita at all?

Vita still top in Japan on falling sales

Vita hardware sales remain above the 3DS in Japan this week according to Media Create. But with the country having very much an off-week and little in the way of new releases (is there an annual "turn off that console day" in Japan?, there isn't much good news to shout about with Vita sales dipping below 20,000 for the first time in a couple of months.

The Vita is just below 18,000 while the 3DS slips below 15,000. Sword Art Online and the new BlazBlue are out tomorrow in Japan, so should provide a boost to the Vita's numbers next week. Expect the 3DS to do very well though, as Nintendo is running a free game offer with console sales.

The following week after that is Golden Week which sees a big sales boost for portable gadgets as lots of Japanese go travelling. After that summer hell commences and sales will struggle without a big name game to provide a lift.

Another World 20th Anniversary will party on the Vita

Delphine's 16-bit hit, designed by Eric Chahi, is back for its 20th (um 23rd actually) birthday. The lovingly rotoscoped platform adventure was a massive award-winning title at the time and made it to most formats, with a recent PC HD edition arriving a couple of years back, which also made it to iOS.

That is likely the version, with further improvements, to hit consoles including the Vita soon. Should look really smooth on the small screen. UPDATE: The game is arriving on the 25th June on the EU PSN.

Muramasa and Golf teeing off on PS+ in May

Funky and stunningly drawn arcade game Muramasa Rebirth from Marvelous (localised by Aksys) leads the way on the Vita's EU PS+ collection in May, ably abetted by the consigned-to-the-bargain bin Everybody's Golf, although there's plenty of neat DLC for it.

What that does make me wonder is what is developer Clap Hanz doing now? It dabbled with Tennis on the PSP and those fun Stress Buster mini games, then uprated Golf for the PS3. But what are they working on next?  Their last product appears to have been a smartphone Smart Golf game, but surely they have something bigger in the pipe?

Danganronpa 2 dated for September

Have you survived the perils of Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc (review) yet? Have you made it through the trials and tribulations of the students and the psycho bear? Then regroup and rest up over the summer because he's back for more in September. NIS America has put an early September date on the sequel for the US, with an EU date probably not far behind.

Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair packs the students off to a tropical island called Jabberwock and runs through the same type of mad student escapades, murders and trials. Can't wait to see what lunacy is thrown at us this time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Need help navigating Demon Gaze? Try these maps

I don't usually do hints and tips, preferring to slog my way through games the old-fashioned way. However, as my review of Demon Gaze points out, its pretty easy to miss a turn or hidden passage that can leave you scratching your head and pretty much stumped or bumbling around looking for that one next step.

Check out these maps of the early levels which should help you find the missing bits in the likes of Red City, Slave Grave, Star Curtain, Blue City, the White Garden and Neptune's Lair. Click on a pic to enlarge and you should be able to figure out where's where on each map and how to get to the bits you're struggling to reach. I'll post the later maps sometime in future, so no one can accuse me of going spoiler mad.

If you need further advice, here's a Google Docs sheet with hints, stats, class and weapon info, plus boss and treasure guides!

UPDATE: The later maps are here for when you get deeper in Grimodar, Black Cage and other dingy places.

Star Wars: Masters of the Force table homes in on Zen Pinball

We've already seen videos of Chewbacca in action and those loveable Droids for the new set of Zen Pinball 2 tables. Seems the team aren't done, throwing in a fourth table alongside the New Hope episode.

Adding some Jedi masters to the mix, Masters of the Force focuses on the lightsabre wielding ones and their mysterious ways. If only you could guide your pinball around the table with some force-like powers!

One Piece Unlimited Red coming in Limited edition

For all the sense that title makes, here you go. One Piece: Unlimited World Red is coming to the PlayStation Vita (and other formats) in July! Namco has announced a Day One Edition that includes DLC costumes for Luffy, Nami, Sanji, Chopper, Zoro, Usopp, Franky, Robin, and Brook. This edition (format not specified) will also include an additional quest for players to enjoy! The Day One Edition will be available at launch while supplies last. Here's some new screens to enjoy.

Sword Art Online heading west this summer

The manga-based Vita game, subtitled Hollow Fragment, is just about to explode onto shelves in Japan, but Bandai Namco (to use its new silly revised name) has promised a western translation this summer. The game (plenty of news here) was a massive hit on the PSP first time around, and Namco must hope the Vita version will do just as well.

It is only getting a digital release in the west, but we can't argue at getting an online party RPG. Sword Art Online on the PSP sold nearly 140,000 copies in its opening week. Would be good to see the Vita version do as well when it launches in Japan on Thursday. Following on from the Tales of Hearts R news, looks like the Vita will have a happy JRPG summer.

The Walking Dead Season 2 gets a Vita trailer

You know, they're probably lobbing stock console footage over that Vita screen. Anyway, if you've managed to ignore the big-screen versions, here's what The Walking Dead Season Two should look like on a Vita with Clementine growing up into a well-rounded human being, under the circumstances. Episodes 1 and 2 are out this week.

Sly Trilogy creeps in at No. 5 on UK Vita chart

A day late after the Easter Holidays, the UK Vita chart is pretty much unchanged, with only Sly Trilogy making a new entry. Football Manager sticks to the top job better than Chris Moyes ever could and FIFA 14 makes it a sporty one-two.

2 FIFA 14 EA SPORTS 3 30

The curious incident of the PSN maintenance and the new PSOne/PSP games

After Monday's PSN maintenance, some US Vita users saw a bunch of classic PSP and PSOne games appearing on the store, with the likes of Konami attributing it directly to the roadworks. Not all of them work, but some now work on the Vita that previously were PSP-only. Some over-excited posts are claiming "nearly all" games are there, but before you get too excited, there's certainly still no Crisis Core, Kingdom Hearts or the original Ridge Racer.

Scrolling or searching around the EU store on my Vita, I can't see much difference. However, if you check the website version, there seems to be more going on there, but not hugely. What all this means, we can only guess, but either Sony is trying to equalise its offerings around the world, or is preparing a decent push for the Vita as a classics machine. Perhaps the rise in digital sales through the indies has seen Sony note rising demand for the older games?

It could be a reaction to the recent US Flash Sale, which generated a lot of comments. Please comment if you've noticed or see anything new, or if anything grabs as a must buy.

Revenge of the Titans pops up on PEGI

Curve Studios continues to push out the Vita hits, with Revenge of the Titans due for a summer release and now rated by PEGI as a 12, containing mild bad language - oh, the horror! The game and Titan Attacks (rated only a 7, oddly enough) were revealed as a dual-pack back in February, but Curve has since split them up to focus on each title.

Things have been a bit quiet since the first news, with this PEGI update offering little info. Developed by Puppy Games and billed as the best Space Invaders tribute ever, there's plenty of info on the PC version, as we wait to see what the PS3, PS4 and Vita versions offer.

Avoid Droid gets some timed Vita exclusivity

InfiniteStates' Avoid Droid (revealed at the start of the year) is hitting the Vita in June, a month ahead of its iOS release. While that's not something that will shock the iPhone world, its a nice touch from the English developers. The game itself packs in fiendish arcade mechanics, a host of fun and (explosive) fruity visuals, a blippy soundtrack and what could be nods to classic gaming and demands a strong survival instinct.

The basic aim is to eat the fruit to creation chain reactions, which help keep you alive a little longer, as you rack up the points in a hostile arena with distinct challenges on different levels. With multiple play modes, this is a great mobile game coming to Vita first instead of the other way around, taking advantage of proper controls (although there's tilt if you like that sort of thing).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Soul Saga shows off its first footage

One of the successful Kickstarted games with a Vita stretch goal, has put up about 12 minutes of alpha footage, showing off progress on the game so far. The eventual Vita version might not look quite as spiffing as this PC footage, but you get the drift and be sure to check out the forums where discussion and voting for game features is on-going.

Heart Forth Alicia crashes past Kickstarter funding goal, Vita version under discussion

Self-described Metroidvania RPG (but isn't everything these days :)...) Heart Forth, Alicia from Alonso Martin has crashed through its $60K funding goal in a matter of days and stands at $105K at the time of writing.

Why should you care? Because in the latest update the developers are discussing the possibility of a PS Vita version, which they are keen to do. Given the support of now-official industry legend Shahid Kamal Ahmad, I'm sure that could be made to happen. Check out the KS page for some cracking visuals and plenty of juicy info that should make anyone contribute if a Vita version is confirmed.

Check out other Vita kickstarter titles here.

Indie shooter Project Root arriving in July

Brazilian developers Opqam let us know that its classic looking shooter (has a certain SWIV vibe to it, I think - ignoring the free rotating screen) will hit the Vita in July. The pics from a development build certainly look pretty lively, there's some video and a suitably bruising soundtrack on the game's home page.

Akiba's Trip 2 getting racy on the PS4

Acquire's semi-kinky vampire fighting game sold around 33,000 on release for the Vita, and I guess that wasn't enough as it is now exposed again, with a PS4 version in the works. That's after the announcement of the Vita game heading west, via XSeed and rebadged as Undead and Undressed, as the publisher aims to extract maximum value from the title.

Presumably the PS4 version will also head west, although Famitsu is only discussing the imminent Japanese release, with improved load times and more characters on the streets of Akihabara, plus the benefits of sharing those just-exposed combat moments with friends.

Sony's God of War Vita bundle fails to get the blood running

Take a look at the difference between the PS3 and Vita God Of War bundle, spot the difference? I know Sony is struggling to sell the Vita, and the fewer SKUs (types of stock) it has to deal with the better. But, is sticking a new download code and a new wrapper around the old black unit (guess the new LCD model will be the one that ships), really any way forward?

If the Vita user base is struggling then surely offering some variety is one way of attracting more users, and how much does a red plastic case really cost Sony? Especially in a limited quantity that adds some extra value or cachet to the item. On the plus side, assuming this Italian mock-up goes Europe-wide, its another addition to the Vita bundle family, but it is hard to imagine it getting even did-hard God of Wars fans rushing to stores. 

Tales of Hearts R gets a western Vita release

Anyone have any idea what Namco's Vita strategy is? No Tales of Innocence R western release, but its Japanese remake of the DS title (announced over there back in 2012) is. Really seems pretty screwy, but what do we gamers know as ToH R comes west? UPDATE: here's the first trailer, looks like a DS game doesn't it!

Yes, Innocence R was also a DS remake, but releasing them this sporadically and out of sequence seems rather barmy, and scattershot. Perhaps if this does well, we'll get some Innocence. The game is due out by the end of the year, so its not like they're rushing this.

Tales of Innocence R sold around 70,000 on launch in Japan, Tales of Hearts R managed 55,000 in its first week. With Tales of the World heading to 3DS and with the series' almost random release history over nearly 20 years, perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised, but an all-new title would be welcome.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Montezuma will have his revenge on Vita

Montezuma Blitz was one of the first free-to-play games on the Vita, and once you mastered it there was no need to ever pay for the money-grabbing micro-payment stuff. Which means it still has a place on my Vita, with friend and global leaderboards offering continued challenge. Now, get ready to welcome Arena, the latest Treasures of Montezuma title which offers multiplayer and more fiendish gameplay.

 More on the PSN blog but from the look of it, the extra bonuses and other skills will see players racing to find the optimum strategies in this RPG like challenge.

Review: Demon Gaze

Aye, aye! This is more like it. Having played quite a few RPGs where I got hacked off or swamped by overloaded skill systems, ludicrous battle schema and inane cheeriness/insanity from characters, the old school saves the day in the form of Demon Gaze (trailer). Sure, Japan is loaded with quirky titles like this, but its rare for one to travel this far, Eliminage aside, and to make such a graceful conversion.

For anyone who has fond memories of an early jaunt through the realms of the Bards' Tale, Dungeon Master or Eye of the Beholder, this is for you. Quick, slick and fat-free (five races and eight skills) role playing: where you beat the crap out of monsters, level up fast and simple, get new gear and find more creatures to kill. Demon Gaze is so streamlined, its almost perfect for portable play; with secret areas that you can still figure out, grid navigation, auto-move fast-travel, plus a sizeable, but not daunting, number of skills and spells.

All of which puts the emphasis on going out into the wilds and having fun, picking up the liberal smattering of trophies along the way. Monsters turn up at random or in specific combat squares, triggering quick turn-based battles, with the odd uber-nasty demon in each smallish level to conquer. That might not sound too exciting, but in every realm are several gem circles. Offer up some weapon, armour or special gems and, once you've marmalised the demons that come through the portal, they'll drop useful items that you can equip, sell or convert into better ones.

Again, its all done in seconds, or perhaps minutes on the longer battles where you get stacks of experience, making most scraps worthwhile. There's the odd pause back at the Dragon Princess Inn for a spot of exposition and characterized silliness, even that's all over in a minute or so. You can rent new rooms to expand your party, find new quests at the bar, get a change of style from the bathhouse, improved gear from the undead loon in the basement or new kit from the nut-job store owners, then its back out into the wilds.

Outside, you can fight with a decent range of weapons, magical skills and special powers. It rarely takes long to find something that will do the job on a particular type of nasty, with the usual elemental weaknesses coming into play. And, if you do screw up and die, there are regular save points at each gem circle. For each level increase, you can boost one of the six strengths, which raises the core stats of health and magic points. There's probably a whole lot more stattage going on under the hood, but the game doesn't burden you with that information, just get on with it.

Key to the bigger battles are the deployment of your captured demons. You can summon them, but only for a certain time before they get all grumpy and go rogue. They'll randomly throw out buffs or melee attacks to spice things up and can easily turn the battle when there's rows of enemies and you're party's life is ebbing away. Should you forget about them, and its easy to do so with the pace of the game, they'll turn up randomly from time to time, to dole out a good kicking.

You can get stuck from the time to time, and if a clue from someone in the Inn isn't forthcoming, just head out into the wilds and you'll probably find a route you missed, or kick some walls down dead-end paths to find a hidden quest item you overlooked. In a nod to the Vita's connected-ness, players can also leave Gazer memos around the realms, providing clues or warnings. One key essential is to always go back with enough cash to pay the rent.

In a game of this pace, some issues seem a bit incongruous; your Level 12 hero panicking at the sight a lone frog, the demon you forgot to invoke appearing in the last throes of a major battle, and rather repetitive monster types. But, if it does start to lose you a little as a speed-run, you can always start diving deeper into the specializations, be it an Assassin with their specialist killing gear or crafting a hardcore wizard to deal death from the rear.

And if the Demon Gaze world isn't hip enough for you, then grab hold of some of the free DLC that offers the crew from Disgaea to join your party and get into the action, 'cause RPGing is always more fun with a penguin! If I had to pick holes in the game's limited offering, its very stingy in restoring magic through potions and at new levels, in the first half certainly.

Demon Gaze has just about enough of a plot to keep you rolling, and the battles are so fast and furious that grinding (a bit of which is needed to defeat the major denizens) never really feels like grinding, even with the super tough later bosses. Sure, the game is olde worlde in many senses and does little to push the boat out, but it is in essence a perfect, slick, portable RPG that is very easy to love.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £29.99 (Amazon)
NIS America
File size 520MB
Progress: Glub, glub, glub

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hyperdimension Neptunia PP introduces its characters

Another NIS America game, another roster of characters to grow fond of. There's released a batch of character intro video trailers for Neptune, Noire, Blanc, and Vert, which I'll put up over the weekend, here's the first, meet Neptune singing and dancing her way into our hearts.Look out for more of the ladies strutting their stuff on this post.

Vita goes code red in America

With quoted NPD sales for March in the States of just 10,000 units, the Vita is in a death spiral over there, and probably in Europe, that not even the finest indie efforts and all the Japanese conversions in the world will help with.

While Sony might tout its Borderlands bundle as the future, that's a lot of weight on a years-old game. Which is put into even starker relief with this talk about Sony trying to partner with Respawn for a Vita version of Titanfall.

So, what next for the Vita, given it is supposed to get an April rebound from FFX, then another in May from Borderlands. We can line up the usual suspects:
  • Another price cut - yet look on Amazon and the console is pretty damn cheap
  • Cheaper memory cards - mainly a concern to current owners
  • More big games - takes time and who would develop for a console no-one is buying?
  • Marketing - Sony has lots of neat multi-game bundles (In Europe anyway) but you never hear about them
With the PS4 rampant, 7 million and accelerating, developers will focus on that big number no matter how much cash Sony offers (and Sony has precious little of that), how about thinking outside the little blue box:

Adam Boyes' old-game-for-PlayStation project floated about last year could incubate a hit or two (Shenmue still carries weight), but there's enough nostalgia through the indie movement to leave it as a curio, especially as all these rereleases will hit the rampant PS4 too. 

Sony develops a "hero" game. Throws everything into a western-focused Vita super hit, the same way Freedom Wars has a multi-development team. Reinvent the Syphon Filter series for today's tastes and see what comes out? 

I also wonder where a lot of the PSP hits have gone, where's LocoRoco and Patapon? Games that gave the portable distinctive titles (although I guess that was before the mobile horde). I'm sure Sony would welcome your thoughts too, since despite all its efforts, they're not having any impact. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lost Dimension finding its way to the Vita

A modern-era Japanese RPG, Lost Dimension from Lancarse, published by Furyu, is headed to the Vita in Japan this summer. There's a teaser site up with most pages unpopulated, but replete with the usual looks of pure evil, terror, firm resolve and malevolence from the cast.

It sees a team of psychics sent into a mysterious tower to prevent the apocalypse, which all sounds rather Persona (with members of the Persona team on board). Hopefully, we can expect something a little more than the usual dungeon crawling and doing more than just ripping off the Persona vibe.

Update: Scans from Famitsu

Walking Dead season 2 arrives on Vita next week

Having wondered if this was ever going to happen, given the delays, both US and EU Vita owners can reacquaint themselves with Clementine and her on-going struggle with grown-ups and the undead from next week, with the first two episodes going online on PSN. Given that the first game offered one of the easiest Platinum trophies in gaming, along with some of the most heart-rending in-game decisions, this should be a winner.

Then again, with most having played it on larger screens, will there be much demand for the same experience, shrunk down? And with Telltale apparently not bothering to fix its engine, will the glitches start to put people off? A season pass will be the most effective way to enjoy the game, with 20% off for PS+ subs. Time for a quick update to the release schedule

Silent Hill Origins and Shattered Memories revived on Vita

The PSP entries in the Silent Hill canon are being dusted down and revived  by Konami for Vita owners to enjoy the silence once more. Silent Hill: Origins acts as a prequel to the series and follows Travis Grady, a truck driver, as he enters the mist-shrouded town to dig up information on a girl he rescued from a fire.

Shattered Memories ditches the combat and is regarded as the most innovative addition to the series, adapting its gameplay to the decisions the player makes. The games will cost £7.99/9,95 Euro each, adding to the quirky Book of Memories Vita original and the original Silent Hill PSOne game.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Welcome back Bust a Move 4 on PSN

From out of quite literally nowhere comes the classic Bust-a-Move 4 from Natsume. Playable on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and PSP, it'll hit PSN soon “Bust-a-Move 4 was a very successful and popular title, and fans have been asking for a re-release for years,” said CEO Hiro Maekawa.

“We were very happy to bring this classic back to new systems as a digital download!” Bust-a Move 4 features eight playable modes, including Puzzle Mode, Versus Mode, and Edit Mode, where players can create up to 25 of their own personal stages! Bust-A-Move 4 was the first title to introduce both the pulley and chain reactions. Pulleys require players to play the entire field so that the weights on each side of the stage don’t rise or fall too low!

Featuring the iconic anthropomorphic dinosaurs, Bub and Bob, this dino duo must rescue the seven shattered rainbow bubbles alongside a cast of series favorites. With ten playable characters and four additional characters that can be unlocked, there’s plenty of ways to chase after Madame Luna!

Vektropolis returns via Kickstarter

Over a year ago, Vektropolis tugged at my arcadey heart strings with its lurid vectors and pure action. Then all went quiet, and Super Icon's Vektor Wars became the apple of my eye. What to do now though? As Vektropolis has exploded back into life on Kickstarter as a new campaign, looking for £50,000.

At this point there's no Vita version, but console options are being discussed. Prime formats are Steam and Oculus Rift, which would be cool to see. I'll chip in if a version is announced, but given some of the projects out there for Vita (see my list) there's an increasing number of titles to pick from.

Next week, Starlight Inception, the first Vita specific crowdfunded game will launch, and with this recent run of projects seeking funding, it looks like an increasingly viable source of games for Sony's portable.

PSN EU update sly zombies ahoy

Plenty to play this week with Sly Cooper trilogy leading the way, available all together or as single games. Everyone can play Badman for free while Dead Nation and Putty Squad finally make it out. Eufloria might be pricey for a PSM title, but could well be fun

Dead Nation (Cross-Buy PS3/PS Vita)
Price: £6.49/€7.99/$11.75

Dead Nation™ + Road of Devastation (Cross-Buy PS3/PS Vita)
Price: £7.99/€9.99/$14.45

Ethan: Meteor Hunter (Cross-Buy PS3/PS Vita)
Price: £7.99/€9.99/$14.45

No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either!
Price: Free

Putty Squad
Price: £19.99/€24.99/

The Sly Trilogy (Cross-Buy PS3/PS Vita)
Price: £19.99/€24.99/$32.95

PlayStation Mobile
Grand Sun R.Y.E.Z (£2.39/€2.99/$4.95)
THE PACKET QUEEN (£2.39/€2.99/$4.95)
Helicopter (£0.40/€0.49/$0.90)
Eufloria Adventures (£6.49/€7.99/$12.95)

Media Create sales see Vita beat 3DS in Japan

Despite the arrival of a new Super Robot Wars game, racing into to the top positions on PS3 and Vita, its been another slowish week for Vita hardware. Even so, the Vita is now ahead of the 3DS in Japan, which Famitsu's sales reported a few weeks back. Not much of a trend, and only by 1,800 or so, but its a start.

However one big 3DS release can send hardware sales soaring, something the Vita can't manage. Here's last week's numbers for comparison. Between 125,000 and 180,000 seems to be the upper limit for Vita games, excluding digital sales. With only Toukiden, Hatsune Miku 1 and FFX HD notably above that, from memory.

TTG makes a good impression at No. 6 for an all-new game, I'd be quite keen to see the latest Arc System mystery game come west. The Vita's task now is to keep selling over the next dead month or so until the summer release arrive, then the spikes need to be a lot bigger than they were in 2012/13.

01./00. [PS3] 3rd Super Robot Wars Z: Jigoku-Hen (Bandai Namco)  - 142.433 / NEW
02./00. [PSV] 3rd Super Robot Wars Z: Jigoku-Hen (Bandai Namco)  - 128.236 / NEW
06./00. [PSV] Mato Kurenai Yuugekitai: Tokyo Twilight Ghosthunters (Arc System Works) - 14.468 / NEW
14./06. [PSV] Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd (Sega) - 6.333 / 121.071 (-61%)
17./10. [PS3] Pro Baseball Spirits 2014 (Konami)  - 5.609 / 96.485 (-44%)
18./00. [PSV] Samurai Warriors 4 # (Koei Tecmo)  - 5.369 / 74.165
19./08. [PSV] J-Stars Victory Vs # (Bandai Namco)  - 5.353 / 139.875 (-55%)
37./27. [PSV] Pro Baseball Spirits 2014 (Konami) {2014.03.20} (¥6.983)
39./31. [PSV] Soul Sacrifice Δ (Sony Computer Entertainment) {2014.03.06} (¥4.980)
40./20. [PSV] Natural Doctrine (Kadokawa Games) {2014.04.03} (¥6.458)

Vita the most popular format for Flying Hamster II

Currently in the throes of its Kickstarter campaign (I added a page for all Vita KS projects), Game Atelier ran a poll to find which were the most important elements of its campaign. Among the platform debate there's a clear winner with the Vita beating everything else hands-down.

Give some backing to the project if you want to see the Monster Boy-inspired title hitting the Vita, its about 1/5 funded with over two weeks to go and brings classic platforming into the HD age.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Badman's back, and this time its puzzling

Having rather enjoyed the PSP's Badman games, its good to see the pixelly anti-hero back in action, but is a match-three puzzler really the best use of his time and resources? Well, he's going to do it anyway. And since its a free game, with some DLC in the offing, who not give it a go with its launch this week.

The Japanese game arrived late last year, with the fast-paced puzzler following on from the original's dungeon pummeling exploits. Even if you only try it for free, it should be worth a blast in ad-hoc multiplayer mode. More on the PSN blog.

Killzone welcomes the bots on Vita

Having trouble with your multiplayer connection for Killzone Mercenary? Fear not, today/tomorrow's update adds a bot mode so you can play the MP maps on your own with a herd of less-than-friendly bots to kill, or just practice for the real online battles.

Unlike the other previous updates, including the new MP maps, the “Botzone Soldier Training Pack” will cost a couple of quid/euros/dollars, still not bad for all the extra challenge. You can claim MP trophies using bot mode, if that's causing a sticking point for your run to Platinum. More info on the PSN blog.

Pixel Noir turns to the crowds

Fans of 16-bit adventures might want to take a look at Pixel Noir, somewhere between the Blade Runner adventure with some lighter role-playing elements. The developers, SWDtech are asking for $97K and its already over the 10K mark after a few days. With lots of exploring, mystery and the odd action sequence, it looks like a labour of love worth some cash.

Still in need of support on Kickstarter are Flying Hamster IIMechRunner and Cult County if you want to support more Vita games.

Terraria on Vita gets the 1.2 update this week

Terraria is an excellent build/explore game that everyone should own, especially as its in the Easter Sale right now. To make things even better, the 1.2 update is coming this week to add new features. On the list are lots of PC-only features, new recipes and over 1,000 new items, graphic tweaks, new NPCs and bosses, improved mechanics and gameplay tweaks.
See the very long list of details on the game's forum.

Hero Trap sneaks through the level gate on Kickstarter

A PS Vita kickstarted project that totally slipped under my radar made it to its Kickstarter funding goal last night by a mere $1,000. The Hero Trap by Smashworx follows in the traditions of Gauntlet with the ability to switch between characters.

Given I'll still happily fire up MAME to play the original, to here those crystal clear samples and race through those level maps tattooed somewhere within my brain, I'm a little ambivalent against anyone messing with it, but it could be fun, with its rogue-like features.

There's a PC early demo to try out, or lets wait and see what the team can do until the Vita version emerges. Still in need of support on Kickstarter are Flying Hamster II, MechRunner and Cult County if you want to support more Vita games.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dead Nation pops its clogs on PSN for Vita

History suggests we should be worried rather than delighted when a decent game turns up almost unannounced on your console. 2010's Dead Nation for PS3 from Housemarque (Super Stardust) was mentioned for the Vita ages ago. But subsequently nothing, until now, with a release on Tuesday in the States and Wednesday 16th April in Europe as a PSN release.

The conversion has been handled by Climax, who handled the recent PS4 updated version. In Dead Nation you fight off hundreds of zombies on-screen, with lots of online leaderboards to track the carnage, with a multiplayer mode for added spice.

Dead Nation will cost €7.99, and the Road of Devastation DLC can be purchased separately for €3.99, or for the complete experience, at the best price, you can pick up the bundle for €9.99. Anyone who has previously purchased the PS3 game or Road of Devastation, will be entitled to the PS Vita versions at no extra cost, thanks to cross-buy.