Friday, August 29, 2014

Sony sponsoring indie corner at Tokyo Games Show

Some 68 developers from 17 countries have been invited to this year's Indie Corner at Tokyo Games Show, highlighting the inevitable rise of the smaller game, even in a country where the 3DS and Vita continue to dominate console sales. The area will be sponsored by Sony and is the second time TGS has hosted a major indie presence.

Eastasiasoft and Witch Beam are among the list of attendees, and expect plenty of new indies from Japan's nascent scene. One new name to me is French developer Swing Swing Submarine whose latest project, Seasons After Fall is a graceful platform adventure, they say Vita is a possible platform target for the Unity-developed game, so keep an eye out!

I'll have a more thorough dig later and see if there's anything else that could be headed our way. Elsewhere, we expect some serious Vita good news now the console if a firm second favourite with Japanese gamers. You can find the English Guide here (PDF).

Unfinished Swan paddling to the Vita

Yesterday saw a host of new indies announced for the Vita, but it has taken Sony Japan to reveal a PSN trailer for the art house PS3 game Unfinished Swan from Giant Sparrow, aided by Santa Monica studio. Now it is coming to PS Vita and PS4, we too can join in the ink splatting fun as you navigate your way around a mysteriously blank set of pages.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth2 heads to western Vitas

Good lord, the first game has only been out a matter of days, and now the sequel is already confirmed for western Vita owners to enjoy thanks to Idea Factory.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth2 was developed based on Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 for the PS3. Now, it offers a new story, a newly revamped battle system, newly voiced characters, and new playable characters.

If Salt and Sanctuary is another roguelike, I'm going to punch someone

Is there some Rougelike template kit out there that I haven't heard about. I could be wrong having only seen the trailer, but this new indie being pimped by Sony looks rather like yet another Metroidvania, Roguelike or whatever the hell you want to call these games.

Okay, I can breathe a little easier having read the game is billed as a stylistic, brutal, action RPG platformer, or is that no different? Still, its yet another game for the Vita, so excuse me while I rush off and update the release list.

Explore Alone With You on the Vita

Having been rather saddened that Station didn't get Kickstarted, there's hope for would be space adventurers yet with the arrival of Alone With You. Looking a little bit like one of the Space Quest adventures, we have another retro-feel game on the roster, but that's no bad thing given the general lack of good old adventures. Listed for a 2015 release expect to hear more about Alone With You, which also features a touch of romance soon.

Dengeki puts up a digital Chain Chronicle V magazine

I used to like importing the odd Japanese magazine, back when PSP demo discs were a thing. Now though there's not much point. But I do like what Dengeki is doing with this Chain Chronicle guide, a free digital edition you can browse by clicking here.

No more wonky mag scans or low-res screens. Naturally, I haven't got a clue what the text is about but you can look at all the pretty characters and get the gist of the game's battle modes from the screenshots. Give it a peek!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Velocity 2X, Joe Danger and TxK hit PS+ in September

If you were wondering about why FuturLab was being coy about the price of Velocity 2X, now we know why. The game will be free on PS+ in September allowing us to enjoy the finest refinements in shooting for many years for nowt.

The game's first review score is out with a 8 from Edge, which is none too shabby. Also along for the ride next month are the sublime TxK, the new-to-Vita Joe Danger and PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale (is the MP still live for that?). Note both the US and EU have the exact same line-up!

Funnily enough, all the PS4 users seem really cross at this deal, since V2X is Cross Buy, but most Vita owners should pretty happy with that lot, two brand new games to Vita isn't bad at all. The games arrive on September the 3rd, so clear some space from your memory card! More on the PS blog.

This week's PSN update

For those who want to pay cold hard cash, this week's PSN update adds Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth1 to the store for a hefty £32.99. RPGers might fancy a go at the PSP title End of Serenity which is just £11.99. Disgaea 4 is available on retail from Friday, which should be the best of the bunch.

More discounts in the EU PSN end of Summer sales

Nice list this week with a quite a few tempting titles. Most come with an extra 10% discount for PlayStation Plus subscribers. The Atelier titles are in there as must-buys if you like RPGs but there's also cheaper Toukiden, Persona 4 Golden, MotoGP 14, Stick it to the Man and many more.

Fruit Ninja Was €4.99/AU$7.55/£3.99, now €3.99/AU$5.95/£3.29
MotoGP 13 Compact Was €9.99/AU$14.95/£7.99, now €3.49/AU$5.25/£2.89
Stick it to the Man Was €12.99/AU$19.45/£9.99, now €4.99/AU$7.55/£3.99
Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen Was €14.99/AU$22.95/£11.99, now €6.99/AU$10.45/£5.79
Touch My Katamari Was €19.99/AU$24.95/£14.99, now €9.99/AU$14.95/£6.99
Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend Was €24.99/AU$32.95/£19.99, now €9.99/AU$14.95/£6.99
Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz Was €29.99/AU$39.95/£24.99, now €9.99/AU$14.95/£6.99
Metal Gear Solid HD Collection Was €29.99/AU$44.95/£24.99, now €12.99/AU$19.45/£9.99
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus Was €34.99/AU$47.95/£29.99, now €14.99/AU$22.95/£11.9
HISTORY Legends of War Was €34.99/£28.99, now €14.99/£11.99
Atelier Totori Plus: The Adventurer of Arland Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €14.99/AU$22.95/£11.99
Dead or Alive 5 Plus Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €14.99/AU$22.95/£11.99
Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland Was €39.99/AU$59.95/£32.99, now €19.99/AU$29.95/£15.99
Atelier Rorona Plus with 3 DLCs Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €19.99/AU$24.95/£14.99
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €19.99/AU$24.95/£14.99
Toukiden: The Age of Demons Was €39.99/AU$47.95/£29.99, now €19.99/AU$24.95/£14.99
Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €19.99/AU$24.95/£14.99
Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €19.99/AU$24.95/£14.99
Demon Gaze Was €39.99/AU$59.95/£32.99, now €19.99/AU$29.95/£15.99
New Little King’s Story Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €19.99/AU$24.95/£14.99
MotoGP 14 Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €19.99/AU$24.95/£14.99
Deception IV: Blood Ties Was €39.99/AU$54.95/£34.99, now €24.99/AU$32.95/£19.99
Street Fighter X Tekken Was €44.99/AU$62.95/£39.99, now €14.99/AU$22.95/£11.99
Persona 4 Golden (PS Vita) Was £34.99/€39.99/AU$54.95, now £14.99/€19.99/AU$24.95 (offer runs until 3rd September)
Thomas Was Alone (PS Vita) Was £6.19/€7.49/AU$11.25, now £3.29/€3.99/AU$5.95 (offer runs until 3rd September)

Bullet Girls romp into the Japanese chart

Assuming nothing will move that blummin' Yokai Watch game from No. 1, Bullet Girls from D3 makes a creditable effort in taking the No. 3 spot with nearly 30,000 sales. Chaos Head Dual makes a less auspicious entrance with just 5,000 at No. 14, just behind Monster Hunter Frontier which manages another 5,000-and-a-bit sales, but is dropping pretty quickly.

Despite all that action, Vita sales drop to below 16,500, as the holiday spirit fades and gamers are waiting for the next big release. That would be Love Live and Toukiden Kiwami out today, but I have no idea how the idol game will sell and don't have massive hopes for Kiwami.

Visual novel Dramatical Murder gets a Vita recode

Visual novel, anime and manga, the PC game Dramatical Murder is getting a Recode version for the Vita. The sci-fi story isn't one I'm familiar with but there's plenty on the right Japanophile pages, or Wikipedia if you want to be straight about it. With plenty of visual novels finding some success our way, there's a small chance that Nitro+Chiral and Digiturbo could bring it west, perhaps.

The trailer looks funky enough, and its out in Japan at the end of October, so keep your gas masks ready!

Countdown to Sony's September 1st PlayStation event

Okay, look into the timer, not around the timer, look into the timer! Just sit here for as long as it takes, until Sony finally, hopefully, deals out some Vita goodness at one of its frickin' events. Perhaps, you know, click on an ad while you wait! Certainly, don't go anywhere!

Of course, Sony could go the other way and leave the Vita stuff for TGS later in the month, making this a big PS4 push. In which case, there's still not long to wait for the likes of Gravity Rush 2, Final Fantasy VII HD, Monster Hunter 5 and other dead certainties for the Vita.

Since the event was announced, there's been masses of speculation, but what do you really want to see from it?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Latest Famitsu reviews are in, what the heck is BinaryStar

A couple of Vita games make it into this week's Famitsu reviews, with a very good score for the western indie hit, Stealth Inc. BinaryStar also gets a good score, but what the heck is that? Judging by the trailer we're well into romance visual novel territory, but it gets quite a good score for what are often cookie cutter games.

These come after a raft of recent reviews. Hopefully Stealth Inc. will sell well over in Japan and widen the door for more indie games, expect some bigger releases to get reviews in the next few weeks.

BinaryStar – 9/8/7/7 [31/40]
Stealth Inc. Ultimate Edition – 8/8/8/8 [32/40]

Minor shuffles in the UK Vita chart, Swapper tops PSN

Betting bored of this stagnant mire of, admittedly very decent, games? New releases are nearly here as we hit Autumn. But will they cause much of a shake-up among that heavily entrenched top 5? Hyperdimension Neptunia and Disgaea 4 are out this week, Danganronpa 2 the next. Hope you like Japanese releases, but still no word on Minecraft, which still tops Amazon's pre-order list.

In the PSN chart, recent indies The Swapper (264 ratings) and Rogue Legacy (1,106 ratings) sit atop a pile of older AAA games, once again proving their popularity. Even though the prices of these games are creeping up as the quality and scale increases to fill the gaps left by the major players. Looks like PSN is still being hampered after the weekend's DDOS attack, so I wouldn't be trying to buy anything right now.

Amazon UK Top Sellers (live list here)

Minecraft (Mojang)
Danganronpa 2 (NIS)
FFX HD (Square Enix)
Killzone Mercenary (Sony)
10 Game Bundle (Sony)

Vita UK top five retail games


Vita PSN (EU) Top Sellers

The Swapper (Curve)
Rogue Legacy (Cellar Door)
Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft)
Need for Speed Most Wanted (EA)
Borderlands 2 (Take 2)

Gundam Breaker 2 stomping the Vita

Despite coming with a limited edition bundle, the Vita's previous Gundam Breaker outing only sold 33,000 on launch last November. Still, that hasn't stopped Bandai from bringing out a second title for the Vita, announced with the inevitable teaser trailer and a new site. Not much can be gleaned from the clip, apart from the usual nods to massive mechs and customization. More news will be let lose in the upcoming Famitsu.

Titan Souls gets a new gameplay trailer

Titan Souls is the pixel-based homage to games like Shadow of the Colossus homage, coming our way thanks to Devolver and Acid Nerve. It shows the hero being mashed by all sorts of over-sized nasties and could well be another essential game for you indie folder. The game is on-show at the latest Penny Arcade PAX in the States this week.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Soul Sacrifice Delta gets Freedom Wars crossover content

Continuing the share-and-share-alike theme that's pervading increasing numbers of Vita games, the heroes of and beasties from Freedom Wars are jumping ship and heading over to Soul Sacrifice Delta for a spot of DLC. It definitely looks like a good match, and since both games are here, or heading our way, it would seem reasonable for the the DLC to follow on.

Are folks still playing SSD? It seemed to sputter out and not really get the attention that the original Soul Sacrifice did, perhaps because it was download only. Anyway, as long as the content keeps coming, those charging through the endless battles should be happy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Will gamers find the Vita adventure bundle?

Okay, ignoring the fact that TxK is definitely NOT an adventure game, Sony is throwing out another bundled 8GB memory card to gamers, packing in Tearaway, Uncharted, Gravity Rush and Escape Plan as downloadables. Will they all fit on 8GB? Probably not. And where's a JRPG or something for diversity. The card and games costs €39 (£32).

There's also the console bundle priced at €199. Certainly a decent collection of games, but where's the Minecraft bundle I wonder? That's surely the one that would help sell a few Vita systems and generate some interest.

There are quite a few existing Vita bundles on Amazon, but stock seems low and prices have gone up, presumably as they run down to make way for the new season's offering. 

More Muramasa DLC hits Japan

Even as the DLC for the western version continues to pop up every few weeks, Marvelous in Japan are churning out more episodes to keep this fantastic hack and slash adventure rolling on. Newly announced this week with a trailer, is what I think translates as "Hidden Hell Woman" but I could be wrong, plus an interesting recipe for something useful.

The update lands on Japan's PSN next week. If you've missed the game, I strongly recommend getting back into it, in fact I will too, as soon as I've finished off and cleared a few more indies off my memory card.

Play Freedom Wars listening to the CD, wearing the tee-shirt

Japanese Freedom Wars fans can now order a bunch of extra goodies to go along with their prison-sentence reducing gaming sessions. Since we're getting the boxed version over here in October, any chance of these following it across the world?

I do rather like the tee-shirt (2,700 yen)! If you fancy importing them, I'm sure its possible, currently available on Ebten, which I think accepts all cards. The CD (2,000 yen) is "Politburo Culture Promotion Committee approved!" so has to be good, right?

The tracklist includes such political whimsies (via auto-translate) as:

1: Imprisonment of Koi for 1,000,000 years
2: First Panopticon Labor Song
3: Nananana
4: Thorns Lullaby
5: Imprisonment of love -Instrumental- 1,000,000 years
6: Panopticon Labor song first -Instrumental-
7: Nananana -Instrumental-
8: Thorns Lullaby -Instrumental-

New Natural Doctrine trailer shows your survival instincts

I guess this is being billed as a sort-of Demon Souls, with the kind of toughness, tactics and strategy, and grimy grinding, but NIS/Kadokawa's title does have a lot of cool features of its own. This latest trailer demonstrate how careful planning and use of the environment can affect your chances for survival.

Some maps include interactive elements that allow you to open new paths and find hidden surprises like treasure (good!) and trolls (bad!). Make the right choices and you just might survive. Get ready for this Cross Play, Cross Save title for Vita, PS3 and PS4 on the 22/26th September depending on where you are in the world. At least we should get the easy mode from day one, as Japanese gamers found the game overly tough.

Natsune's End of Serenity landing in Europe

One of the final PSP games released before Sony shut off the taps on production, End of Serenity is a classic RPG that Natsune is bringing to the EU next week for Vita owners to enjoy. Here's a look of the game in action, should you be thinking about picking it up. Does it do something that other JRPGs lack? Or is it just another fun bug-battling adventure? Either way, assuming the price is reasonable, don't miss out.

Meet the ladies of Great Edo Blacksmith

Honest, there is a dungeon crawler in all this! but it seems NIS is focusing on the ladies of the game who must win the affection of our hammering hero right now. They're a feisty, winsome, shouty bunch, so it looks like a bunch of muscles and metal trinkets won't be the only things he'll need to secure his lineage.

The game is out in November, so expect a few more clips of the various ladies in the village before we get into the meaty stuff of the dungeons, nasties and other elements, to prove there is actually some game in here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sword Art Online leads EU PSN releases

Having watched endless videos of the Japanese version, feast your eyes on the western edition, available now on PSN, with the promise of the mega-update to follow in a few weeks time. That, along with Crimsonland (£9.99), CounterSpy (Cross Buy, £9.99) and Gravity Badgers provide something for everyone, with SAO costing a hefty £32.99 and those bargain Badgers at just £3.99.

For free you can check out the Disgaea 4 demo, while lots of Rockstar titles including Midnight Club and GTA games are dirt cheap for PSP/Vita owners.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a Role Playing Game based on the novel, manga and anime, and reflects the charming characters and breathtaking environments from the virtual reality world called Aincrad. In a simulated Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) setting, players find that they are trapped within the game and must explore and defeat enemies until they reach the highest levels of Aincrad to beat the game and free themselves from the fantasy world.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment includes an HD version of the preceding game Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment, so fans have the option to play through Infinity Moment or jump into the new Hollow Fragment adventure to conquer two different sides of Aincrad. In Hollow Fragment, Kirito is suddenly teleported to the new Hollow Area on the 76th Floor and encounters a mysterious player named Philia, who bears a dark past and the telltale orange mark of an unwelcome player killer. With the emergence of fearsomely powerful monsters, the two decide to set aside their differences and join forces to defeat a greater enemy and also face the infamously murderous player killing guild called “Laughing Coffin.”

New Batman 3 trailer introduces Brainiac's plan

A new trailer and bit of art for the latest LEGO Batman blockbuster, Beyond Gotham shows off Brainiac’s diabolical plan to shrink the Earth and take control of his enemies using the power of the Lantern Rings. All of which will send the DC super heroes to party with the Legion of Doom on a journey across the Lantern Worlds to stop the nefarious evildoer from adding Earth to his twisted collection.

Sounds like a good jaunt away from the usual city scenes and prison-bar adventures of the previous Batman games.

Monster Hunter sales decent as Vita sales rise

Vita sales are up around 3,000 this week on the Media Create chart as Monster Hunter Beginner's Pack made a timid start to life (I guess most players downloaded the free PSN version). According to Famitsu's figures, it sold 60%-80% of its supply, so Capcom weren't exactly expecting huge things.

Looks like nothing can touch Yokai Watch 2, which continues to dominate. On the plus side, interest in monster hunting dragged both Freedom Wars and MH4 on 3DS back into the top half of the chart.

01./01. [3DS] Yo-kai Watch 2: Ganso / Honke (Level 5) - 118.526 / 2.212.518 (-2%)
02./00. [WIU] Hyrule Warriors # (Koei Tecmo) - 69.090 / NEW
06./00. [PSV] Monster Hunter Frontier G: Beginner's Package (Capcom)  - 21.169 / NEW
17./18. [PSV] Freedom Wars (Sony Computer Entertainment)  - 4.542 / 280.209 (+17%)
19./24. [PSV] Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment # (Bandai Namco)  - 3.984 / 238.539
20./27. [3DS] Monster Hunter 4 # (Capcom)  - 3.796 / 3.327.503

The sales chart shows recent weeks keeping pace with last year, but I wonder what Sony has to offer that can match those big blue spikes at the end of the year. Certainly, something big needs to happen at Sony Japan's upcoming press event or Tokyo Games Show to kick things back into high gear. 

The Vita remains stuck behind the 3DS but ahead of the big-screen consoles, despite their big launches, which means plenty of Japanese developers will be looking to support it. 

Toukiden leads the way in Famitsu review scores

As I've said recently, there's a very busy couple of weeks lined up for the Vita and four new titles get reviewed in this week's gaming bible over in Japan. Toukiden does well (check out the recent launch trailer), but I suspect the many different versions of Love Live! will see doing well in the charts over any more serious titles.

Toukiden Kiwami (PSV) – 9/9/10/9 [37/40]
Hyperdimension Neptunia U (PSV) – 7/7/7/6 [27/40]
Kiss Bell (PSV) – 6/7/7/6 [26/40]
Love Live! School Idol Paradise (PSV) – 6/6/6/6 [24/40]

No idea what Kiss Bell is, most weeks I like to find out what some of the lesser Japanese titles are, but going by that name I think I'll pass this time.

New Out of Order clip tries to push Magical High School

After the shocking sales for Lost Dimension, Namco has to hope for better things for its own, broadly-similar-looking, Magical High School Out of Order, which is approaching launch for the end of October. Perhaps the magic factor will help it sell more, but there's still the similar dodgy uniforms, weak-looking combat and cut-and-paste characters to wade through.

Magical High School does have a popular source material anime behind it to help generate some hype, while Lost Dimension was an original work, so there's some hope for it, but there does seem to be an small herd of these games to confuse even the most eagle-eyed of Japanese gamers. Any westerners watching MHS? Any impressions on the gameplay in this latest clip?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tecmo Koei shows off Toukiden Extreme opening video

With Toukiden Kiwami going on sale tomorrow in Japan, I'm wondering will the fans flock to buy an upgraded version? Or, has it had its hour in the sun, now that Monster Hunter Frontier G, God Eater 2 and Freedom Wars are also available to tempt gamers.

There's a heck of a lot of competition not only from Monster Hunting games, but a very busy Vita line-up in the next couple of weeks. Still, the trailer is Tecmo's usual high standards and that's always enough to get some gamers excited.

Mission Memento Mori teases Dark Metal

Bandai Namco's upcoming game Mission Memento Mori doesn't give much away in this new teaser, but the official site lists it as an adventure game. The full title is M3 The Dark Metal, and its based on an anime on which I know nothing.

It started early this year, so is quite a new thing, and portrays the usual battle between light and dark, with school kids thrust into the battle. Any interest from the western world,

Danganronpa Another Episode featured in Famitsu

Don't know when the high-quality scans will start appearing, usually Thursday I think. But Famitsu is blowing its own trumpet with a piece on the Danganronpa spin-off gaming from Spike Chunsoft coming to PS Vita next month. The piece includes a small scan of the characters, plus their voice actors, and there's bound to be a few more pages to look forward to.

Another Episode (surely they can come up with a better name) features shooter elements as well as a horde of different bears related to Monokuma to mix up the action. Can't wait to see how it plays, also in the issue are pieces on Bullet Girls and Tecmo's latest historical masterpiece and bloodbath.

Sony Japan schedules big September 1 press event

Tokyo Games Show isn't starting until September 18, so what will Sony be waving at the world from this event? There's an event page here, so the company clearly has plenty of news to impart. But what would it want to get off from its chest just weeks before Asia's biggest gaming event? Will it announce Vita stuff to clear TGS for a big PS4 push, which Japan needs, or do things the other way around, given the Vita's success in Japan.

Interesting for sure, did it do this last year? There was an event recapping all the PlayStation 4 news for Japan, but since it launched later for them, I guess they wanted to get that out the way before TGS, or it could be a way to showcase Sony's indie push to Japan before all the big games news. Let me dig into the archives and see what history there is on this.

If it follows the western theme, don't expect much Vita-ness, as that could all be left for TGS. Still, would be nice if Sony's Saving PS Vita plan get some bones to it. Anyone else think that having ditched the Vita online Invitation/Direct events, and PlayStation Meeting, perhaps its time Sony should follow Nintendo with smaller monthly events? Anyway, set your alarm clock, that's 7AM UK time, 2AM EST etc...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pix the Cat scratching the Vita's itch

Coming soon to the Vita and PS4 comes Pix the Cat from French developer Pastagames. It reminds me a tiny bit of Dreamcast freebie, ChuChu Rocket, with ducklings instead of mice, and the cat saving them instead of intent on pain. Add an acid-trip twist, scaling the Atari Lynx would be proud of plus an overdose of bass lines and it looks like a bit of a blast.

The developers previously brought the cute Pix n Love Rush to the PSP and more recently Rayman Jungle Run to phones. Looks like another fine arcade diversion, read more on the company's blog about its Gamescom showing (missed it from last week, among the rush of other new indies).

Check out the trailer which gives a better sense of the full lunacy.

What's Sony's next move for the Vita? If there is one

Regardless of the late attempts at some defensive hype building, Sony ditched the Vita at Gamescom. There was nothing happening, nada, not a bean, no new major games, no promotion, no effort. Which leaves Sony (and us Vita fans) with about three choices in the immediate future.

That's All Folks

This is it, there is nothing more. Sony US and EU will flog the Vita and Vita TV as mere accessories for the PlayStation 4. Indie titles, crowd-funding and Japanese imports plus the easiest of ports will provide us with games, but if it takes a bit of effort, don't get your hopes up. This also leaves us doing most of the promoting, good job we're a noisy bunch!

The Miracle Cure

Never going to happen! But we live in the faintest of hopes that one game, one big title, be it a Grand Theft Auto, a new Assassin's Creed, Battlefield, Tomb Raider or a Demon Souls/Dead Rising spin-off will sell bucketloads and reinvigorate the platform. But, expect Jesus to return before one of those events happens.

The Cunning Plan

Sony has shut the hell up about Vita because it has enacted a recovery plan. This plan is taking time as it needs to get many pieces in place first. These pieces are: 
  • Some games 
  • Revised pricing 
  • Third parties 
  • New marketing 
  • New apps
Now, there's no evidence of any of this taking place, but imagine a scenario. Around the same time as Tokyo Games Show in September, Sony EU/US drops a press event, unveils its new Xperia 3 compact tablet, plus - drum roll - a new cheap western Vita model (it doesn't need one for Japan). 

This model runs Android too, adding plenty of new (but mostly crap) games to the roster. Sony will have its own curated Android games store, but that can be bypassed. We also get far better apps than Sony can make for the major media and social sites. 

Along with the cheaper console comes cheaper memory cards. To support the new launch, Sony throws open Gran Turismo Portable 2, Uncharted Trilogy HD (ahead of a PS4 release), a raft of new/old PS classics, free-to-play Monster Hunter Frontier G and whatever it can get from Sony Japan. Feel free to mention any of the many rumored or hinted-at games throughout the years here. 

Neatly package and market the crap out of that lot in the run up to Christmas, and we could just have a success on our hands. And, if it fails to sell, then at least Sony can say they tried everything, shut up shop and focus on the PS4. No one could blame them (much) after such a push. 

Naturally, The Cunning Plan option relies on Sony having some foresight, muscle and money for the task. It could have been underway for a year or longer, buried under NDAs and cunning diversion of resources from the main PS4 push. 

So, what do you think? Does Sony sound like that sort of company? Or, is it really just looking at the shocking Vita sales and running off to play with the shiny king-of-the-block PS4? I glumly suspect I know which of these is the actual case, but would like to hear any cheerier ideas. If you want hope, look at Microsoft, still furiously flogging and promoting its Surface tablets despite miniscule sales. If they can do it, why can't Sony (revenue aside). 

Judas Code gameplay does its own bullet time

Tri Ace's shooter-cum-card game Judas Code popped up a new trailer last week showing off some of the slightly odd-looking shooting action and a bit more of the card/strategy side of the game. The shooter side reminds me of the 8-bit hit Cabal from TAD, while the card game makes sense if you're throwing in a free-to-play, IAP-mode.

How slow is that missile going though? If Tri-Ace can tie it all together then it should be great, and with plenty of English already in there, a western version shouldn't be too much to ask for. The game is out next week in Japan, be good to see what sort of reaction there is to it.

UK Top 10, shuffle the same old pack

Right, this is starting to get really jaded now, and would be a problem for Sony, if it cared. Anyone taking a look at the Vita chart will see old games littering the place and a crippling lack of new releases. If you were picking one up then there's still lots of solid names in the list, but it is feeling its age now.

With Minecraft the only major release until Autumn/Winter (Freedom Wars October, Tales of Hearts R November), its not going to get much better. And to think, this is quite a decent list, compared to Spring when very old (even launch) games dominated. So while indies may keep the userbase playing, the wind down to obsolescence continues.

2 -    BORDERLANDS 2 2K GAMES 1 12

Japan buys into horror with Shin Hayarigami

More catching up, Lost Dimension managed to sell a mere 3,868 copies on launch last week in Japan, barely denting the Media Create chart. I think this was due to all the marketing videos looking identical and generating all the excitement of a dazed housefly. Making a slightly better impression was the horror game Shin Hayarigami, selling 12,500.

That hardly helped Vita sales which remained firm at 18,400, just a nudge down on last week. But, if Japan really loves its Monster Hunter, then things should be more exciting this week as Frontier G is now on sale over there.

Retail chain Tsutuya currently sees it in at No. 8 behind a host of big 3DS games and Hyrule Warriors, which suggests it won't be doing monster numbers, but we'll see on Wednesday. On the plus side, the game recently celebrated 4.5 million players, which - if only 10% of them fancy trying the Vita version, would easily make it the platform's best seller!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Vita games stacking on next week's PSN release

Its a Noah's Ark of Vita games next week for the US PSN drop, with physics-based puzzler Gravity Badgers plus a Kung Fu Rabbit adding to the inevitable indie roster of furry creatures. A little more serious looking is the major digital-only release of Sword Art Online from Namco, providing yet more beastie slaying in the Vita's first MMO-like title.

Throw in the high-quality design of CounterSpy plus the 10-year old stylings of Crimsonland and that's a pretty decent week in anyone's book. Hope most of these make it to the EU release, not that I have much spare money after my holiday.

Watch the Phantasy Star Nova demo in action

The demo landed on Japan's PSN last week. Now, we can finally take a look at what Phantasy Star Nova looks like after the 13 trillion different versions of the rendered intro that Sega passed off as marketing over the last few months. Check out the video from YouTube Skyghene22 (dude, turn your notifications off when making these clips!), as he takes on that first big monster with a party and has a roll around the wastelands of this planet.

Does this get your beastie slaying thumbs twitching? Or is Japan just an endless treadmill of these clones now? Anyone spot anything new or different in the game's DNA? The first edition of the game will come with some special costume recipes, experience boosters and other extras to get gamers in nice and early.

Feast on the indie goodness still coming to Vita

Okay, so Gamescom was a bust, again, but there's still a bunch of indies headed to the Vita to enjoy. Check out the likes of Typoman, Flame Over and Crimsonland (which releases next week). Add those to the likes of previously covered titles like Volume, the feast of Kickstarted games, and there's still enough to look forward to for most gamers.

Looking more like a major studio title, Kick and Fennick was originally due early this year, but has been in further development for some time, however, a new trailer did pop up at Gamescom.

Does all that mean Sony should abandon first and third party Vita development support? Umm, no, but until a few million folks rush out to buy a Vita (for which there are no big games to tempt them) we're kinda screwed.

Continuing our slide into the Vita's indie future, and catching up on stuff I missed last week, here's a new peek at Guns Up. the free-to-play title from Valkyrie that offers realtime strategy, that's Cross Play across the PlayStation platforms. Mixing some old-school shooting and resource management, it looks fun, but only if the free elements are sufficient to make the game a non-stressful experience. There's a little more detail, but not much, on the PSN blog, with a release slated for later in the year.

Other games on the way include wonky Tetris-alike 99 Bricks Wizard Academy and many, many more. I guess if you want to play Tomb Raider, there's always the PSP versions!

Then of course, there's this little gem, will gamers who've played Minecraft on every other format imaginable rush to play it again on Vita? Or is it so late that its time as the indie-golden-child is over.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hello Despair, more Danganronpa 2 screens

Picking up after some days AFK, here's a bunch of new pics for NIS America's Danganronpa sequel that will be lighting up Vita screens with mischief, mayhem and murder in a few months time. Which of these folks will be the stabbee and which will be the stabber (at least one of them will involve a knifing right?). Can't wait to find out as the series goes tropical for its next instalment.

Remember, there's the spin off on the way and likely a good run of further episodes in this twisted mystery saga.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

PSN EU Update, Gravity Crash goes Ultra and the sale continues

After the dismal Gamescom showing, Sony keeps pushing the indies out with the quirky cross-buy title Hohokum and the hectic Gravity Crash Ultra. There's also more One Piece and Dynasty Warriors DLC, plus an update on the summer sale.

 Hohokum (Cross-Buy PS4/PS3/Vita) £9.99/€12.99/$19.45
Gravity Crash Ultra £5.79/€6.99/$10.45

The sale continues on the Vita this week with some new price cuts, most including an extra 10% off PS+ subscribers, with 20% off in a few cases. There's a £10 off Soul Sacrifice Delta, price cuts on recent new releases like Cel Damage and God of War, there's also some PSP titles add for old-school gamers.

Ace Combat Joint Assault + ACI DLC 3.99/€4.99/$7.55
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate £11.99/€14.99/$24.95
Cel Damage HD £3.29/€3.99/$5.95
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z £14.99/€17.99/$26.95 20% additional PS Plus discount
DYNASTY WARRIORS 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition £14.99/€19.99/$24.95 10% additional PS Plus discount
Ethan: Meteor Hunter £3.99/€4.99/$7.55
God of War® Collection (PSV) £13.99/€16.99/$25.95
LIMBO £3.99/€4.99/$7.55
LUFTRAUSERS £3.99/€4.99/$7.55 20% additional PS Plus discount
Mortal Kombat £11.99/€14.99 Rayman Legends £11.99/€14.99/$22.95
Rayman Origins now £6.99/€9.99/$14.95
RIDGE RACER £6.99/€9.99/$14.95
RIDGE RACER – Ultimate Edition £9.99/€12.99/$19.45
Soul Sacrifice Delta now £14.99/€17.99/$26.95
Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark £3.99/€4.99/$7.55
SteamWorld Dig £3.99/€4.99/$7.55 20% additional PS Plus discount
Uncharted: Golden Abyss £11.99/€14.99/$22.95
Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition £4.29/€5.19/$7.85
Worms Revolution Extreme now £5.79/€6.99/$10.45

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Turn up the Volume on Vita in 2015

Having just taken some holiday time to finish a bunch of games, I can now cross Thomas Was Alone off the list. So, next up from the saviour of small cubes in gaming comes Volume, which is being shown off at Gamescom with a 2015 release date.

Again featuring the vocal talents of Danny Wallace, the PS4 and Vita release pits stealth and creativity as your weapons, sneaking about to avoid the enemy and achieve your goals. It looks distinctive, fun and enagaging, but remains a bit of an enigma, which is good.

Sony's Gamescom's Vita underload

Okay, Gamescom has come and gone as far as the world is concerned, the big press show where Sony shows off its big guns came out not even firing blanks for Vita owners. SONY HAS NO AMMO. If you're looking for bodies among that wreckage, the company announced that Tearaway is coming to the PS4 (which is good as Media Molecule's game deserves a wider audience) and Mike Bithell's (he did mention the Vita, but I guess that was his rebellious nature) Volume is coming to PS4 and Vita in 2015.

Sony is now saying 'go on the show floor and look for indies', like Papers Please which is coming to the Vita and new shooter In Space We Brawl, but only journalists and a few intrepid gamers see that floor. The rest of the world is moving on and there's no Vita in it for them. The Gamescom press event was Sony's big marketing push for the west and it failed to even nod in the direction of the Vita.

Well done Sony, another nail in the coffin, as the last dregs of good will evaporate. Expect all Sony's focus to be on PS4 forthcoming, and if the Vita still gets indies beyond this time next year, I'd be impressed. Hope you all like Japanese titles!

In Space no one can hear you brawl

Despite shooting a whole live action advert for this 16-bit looking shooter, Sony couldn't manage to fit a single Vita in, further demonstrating their commitment to one of the two lead games platforms it owns. Apparently, In Space We Brawl game is coming to PS4 and Vita, guess its not Cross-Play as they could easily have tacked that into the video.

As for the game, I'm not exactly left screaming for more, unlike the idiot actors in the clip (Sony really shold apologies for the gurning runt on the front of the clip). Developer Reply Forge hopefully has a lot more to do before this is finished. What I was hoping for after the first few seconds was something like Virgin's online PC shooter from the early net gaming days where space bombers and fighters ganged up on each other in big mazes (name escapes me).

Hatsune Miku 2nd F gets western release dates

Sega will bring the vocaloid goddess to the west this November in both boxed and digital form for fans of her first (digital only) outing. Featuring more songs, dances, friends and toe-tapping rhythm action, Ms. Miku is one of the bigger selling Vita games in Japan (that doesn't involve slaying monsters at any rate).

The game hits Europe on 21st November, I have in idea how the first game did over here (also on PS3), but it looks like Sega has packs little more confidence in the Vita and it's fans to pick the game up. There was a demo of the first title, give that a blast if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The shout of the Vita fans is being heard

Despite Sony's inability to sell, ship or market the Vita, the few owners in the universe are being heard loud and proud by developers. In the last week, a petition to get Namco to consider the new Digimon game for the west passed its 50,000 goal. If that'll achieve anything remains to be seen but with increasing success in Japan, and their games selling reasonably over here, it is more likely to happen then not.

More modestly, Phoenix Force developer Awoker Games agreed to a Vita version after hearing plenty of fan feedback, with Attractio coming our way thanks to more outpourings of support. And in the last couple of days, the makers of Surgeon Simulator have asked to hear back if we want a Vita version, to much tweeting.

In the big scheme of things this is bad news. Developers shouldn't need to be asking if the Vita is a viable platform. While some at Sony, notably the Stategic Content guys, are waving the banner high and proud, somehow there's still a world of coders unaware of the Vita's potential. Sony really should be getting caned for this failing.

But, if we have to get our hands dirty, like with the #PSVitaDirect campaign, then the fans are doing the Vita proud, so well done us.

Unmechanical to test its metal soul on the Vita

Catching up on some late news from last week, Grip Games is bringing an updated version of Unmechanical across the PlayStation platforms including Vita. A metallic, industrial-looking puzzle adventure, I guess it has a certain appeal, but I found the movie Robots one of the most soulless things ever, so the little hovering fella will have to go some to win my heart over.

With extra content over the PC original, will it glow on the Vita's screen or will all those neat effects from the Unreal Engine be for the PS4 version only? It will be Cross Buy on release, so at least we can enjoy it across all formats.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Retro adventure Station goes live on Kickstarter

Already backed this, and so should you if you have fond memories of 16-bit adventures. Set deep in the Arctic Ocean, not far from the North Pole, a survey crew is hard at work in the quest for resources. The work is hard and dangerous, and the people who do it have become hard and dangerous themselves.

Some of the crewmembers are working off parole contracts. Others are in search for some easy money and will do anything to make a buck. The rest just have nothing to lose. And all the while the management of ARC is mired in an internecine power struggle. During this routine survey mission a bizarre event takes place that causes the crewmembers to go insane and start killing each other.... yay! Anyone remember Sphere? Sounds like that but with roughnecks instead of scientists.

The game has a Vita stretch goal of $55K Canadian (around £30,000) so seems very reasonable. Check out the Kickstarter page, the game's page here, and other Vita crowdfunding efforts here.

Its the Gamescom PS Vita prediction bingo game

If you're a Vita owner, then question has to be what will Sony cock-up this time after the E3 disaster? The company has a hell of a lot of good will to win back after the Type 0 fiasco. Alas, it has next to no first party resources (they're all working on PS4 titles, apparently), no third-party support (except for Japanese studios, LEGO games and a few easy ports) to bring some good news with.

Sure, it can show a massive indie and crowd-funded show-reel of games (the release list goes well into 2015) that are already announced. And, there's likely a few PC indies it has signed up on the quiet.

But, as a fan and punter, I'm looking at the screen (except on my Vita because Sony can't be bothered to create a Gamescom app for its own platform) and waiting for some big news. What on earth could that be? What would make me think it was holding on to my Vita for?

The easy wins for Sony are sequels, expansions or new games built on existing engines. Tearaway, Killzone Mercenary, Call of Duty all have Vita engines ready to use and it costs a lot less to get an Asian or Eastern European third-party to knock out a game that uses them, but doesn't have the big-game-name attached.

Next up is more HD remakes, from the stable of PS one games including Syphon Filter, which is due a refresh, to more of Sony's cartoon chums. Then there's the dream, the big game coming down from the rafters with a halo around it and fireworks going off. Just.... one.... game... that's all Sony has to find from somewhere.

If it does "reannounce" FF Type-0 then I hope the press gives a really slow handclap to that notion. But otherwise, Take 2 seems to be only standard-bearer based on its success with Borderlands 2, so could that Bioshock iOS news come back round with a Vita attached?

The winner's prize is another year in hellish Vita anticipation, will we ever learn?

Arcana Heart 3 and Tokyo Twilight Hunters heading west

Good old NIS America, keeping the Vita flame fluttering with a new brawler and a cool visual novel that I've been keen on since the first Japanese shots. Since the announcement is for an EU release, guess we'll see more of these at Gamescom.

Tokyo Twilight Hunters. From the developers of Deadly Premonition, Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters is a visual novel that offers a unique battle system and an immersive tale of life, death, and the space in between. As an ordinary transfer student you start life at Kurenai Academy in Shinjuku. On your first day touring the new school grounds, you quickly encounter something supernatural, which throws you headfirst into the world of ghost hunting. You must come face to face with ghosts as you blur the line between life and death.

Arcana Heart 3: Love MAX is another update to the series, with the 2D fighter in 3D scenes adding rebalanced gameplay and new game modes. Mix and match each character with Arcanas (celestial beings) in order to figure out which combination works best for you while creating new deadly custom combos! Prove your skill in online multiplayer or enjoy the new content in story mode.

Fun on Friday, a redesigned Vita interface

Some people don't like the bubbles, some people hate the bubbles. I'm okay with them, but its by far a practical solution the minute you get a big games collection. Graphic designer Dribbble (Matt Race) has taken a go at mixing the best of the PS4 interface with a future Vita makeover, and the results looks pretty good.

I guess Sony don't like the bubbles either since (unlike the PSP to PS3) they didn't copy the idea over to the PS4. Is an overhaul likely? Probably not given the effort in repainting every Vita icon ever, but it would be good to see progress made in the UI.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Proof Sony marketing doesn't have a damn clue for #PlayStationGC

Yes, I rip Sony's marketing every time it raises its incompetent head above water. Sorry if that's getting boring, but - ooh look - a shiny new "teaser" video on the PlayStation blog...

Did you see anything teased? At all? Anything? Ever? Then, the associated blog post witters on about how you can view the event on your PlayStation... except the Vita. Why not? Its a media device, it plays and streams video. How hard would it be for Sony to knock up a quick app for Gamescom? See here for a few proper Gamescom hints.

If that's the level of attention Sony devotes to the Vita in the warm up to the biggest show in Europe, why would anyone expect anything of interest for the handheld at the actual press event? Of course, I would love to be wrong, but Sony really doesn't give a damn, and proof is written all over that post.

Fortunately Sony marketing isn't responsible for the games at the presentation, or the games themselves. Still, the whole of Sony really needs to be showing a balanced approach and using all the weapons at its disposal, one of which is the small handheld it is too afraid to use. I'm vaguely amazed they showed it in the video.

Fighting Climax mixes and matches Dengeki characters

Coming in November, this tribute to all things in the Dengeki stable features characters from Sword Art Online, Accel World, Magical High School and many others. The 2D brawler is hot from the arcade version and looks pretty traditonal compared to some of the craziness coming out of the BlazBlue games.

With Sega at the developer helm, some of the levels will be based on Sega properties to give it a particular flavour. Think I'll stick to Injustice myself, but it should be a pretty easy western port if Sega is feeling generous.

Natural Doctrine gets a multiplayer trailer and screens

Natural Doctrine from Kadokawa brings the harsh dungeoning of Demon Souls style games to the Vita, PS3 and PS4 with CrossPlay. A challenging strategy game that features really nasty nasties that lurk in the sprawling networks of mines and ruins in the areas surrounding the fortress city of Feste.

 Both the trailer and screenshots show off the online multiplayer options of the game, including various co-op and versus modes. On top of that, nearly all characters (both friendly and enemy) you encounter in single-player are available to fight for you in multiplayer!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

PSN EU update with new PS+ games

Here's the list of all the fun new content for Vita owners with a right indie fest going on with three new games arriving including The Swapper, Table Top Racing and Metrico in my personal order of preference. You can also grab Fez and Proteus on PS+ if you haven't already got them.

Also, check out the PlayStation Mobile tab for On-Call, a first person shooter cum space combat game.

PlayStation Plus
Road Not Taken (PS4) - Delayed on Vita due to a middleware issue
FEZ (PS4/PS3/PS Vita)
Proteus (PS3/PS Vita)
Metrico (PS Vita)
LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 (PS Vita)

PS Plus discounts
Table Top Racing (PS Vita) – 20% off, ends 13th August 2014
The Swapper (Cross-Buy/PS Vita/PS3/PS4) – 10% off, ends 20th August 2014

PS Vita
Metrico £9.99/€12.99/AU$19.45
The Swapper (Bundle/Vita/PS3/PS4) £11.59/€14.99/AU$22.95
Table Top Racing £4.99/€5.99/AU$8.95

PlayStation Mobile
On Call (£2.39/€2.99/AU$4.95)
Flappig 3D (£1.99/€2.49/AU$4.25)
La Charte: Protect the Whale (£0.40/€0.49/AU$0.90)
Picbox (Free)

Media Create charts, Vita sales and Japanese company results

All go on the Japanese business front at the moment. Square Enix announced modest sales with no individual breakdowns, but decent profit. So, who knows how well its games are doing.

Bandai seems to be doing pretty well and reported strong sales of Sword Art Online and various robotic franchises (pic below).

Bandai Namco Sales
Konami seemed pretty flat with declining PSP and Vita (for which it hasn't published much) sales. It expects that to decline for the year as a whole, so don't expect any new releases from them until Christmas or well into 2015.

Konami's Sales Mix

As for the Media Create chart, its a quiet week with a bunch of Vita games in the lower reaches of the chart, with that and the 3DS pretty much dominating. Child of Light at least made an entry, not bad for a niche western game. Unsurprisingly, hardware sales are also down, the lowest for six weeks at 18,700 as we hit another pause in the releases.

06./04. [PSV] Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines # (Sony) - 7.871 / 119.336 (-56%)
15./05. [PSV] Tokyo Shinseiroku: Operation Abyss # (5pb.) - 4.403 / 19.645 (-71%)
16./06. [PSV] Corpse Party: Blood Drive # (5pb.) - 4.304 / 17.992 (-69%)

18./13. [PSV] Freedom Wars (Sony) - 4.027 / 271.798 (-25%)
19./00. [PSV] Child of Light: Special Edition (Ubisoft) - 3.893 / NEW 

Out this week are Lost Dimension from Fluidigm and God True Fashion from NIS, with Monster Hunter Frontier G proving the acid test for Vita tales the following week.

Looks like you won't escape Toro and Kuro in Monster Hunter Frontier G

If you were hoping for a dumb sidekick-free experience in Monster Hunter Frontier G if it ever comes west, you might be out of luck. A new video from Capcom show's Sony's annoying little feline mascots tacking along for the ride. Toro and Kuro keep appearing in games, but really seem like tactless add-ons of the worst order, especially in a Monster Hunter game, which has its own Feylenes to cope with.

They appear to be part of some campaign to get the Vita version selling, something it wouldn't need if Capcom could be bothered to put the real deal Monster Hunter on the Vita, since its selling very well now in Japan.

Vita exclusive Metrico gets a launch trailer

Metrico lands on PSN today, free for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Whoever thought of using spreadsheets and PowerPoint as the backdrop for a game is pretty clever (and I can imagine enterprises paying for custom versions with their graphics and logos in the game to brighten up some presentations).

A new trailer is here to celebrate the launch, showing off the game in action with its multiple input mechanisms and nods to SoundShapes, but moved to the daily office grind for knowledge workers. A Vita exclusive, the game is getting some good reviews, and if its not too much like hard work, should do well.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Table Top Racing goes green this week

While the F1 teams sleep the summer away, you can keep up your racing habit with this awesome looking tribute to MicroMachines with some full-on mini vehicular mayhem and fun from Playrise. Check out the PSN blog post for some more info and tips from the team. The game is out this week for just £4.99.

Reviews seem pretty positive so far, so this could help bump up the Vita's limited racing roster. And, if the multiplayer is on a par with its ancestor, then TTR could be a serious challenge with friends over the holidays, as it supports both ad hoc and Internet play modes (unlike its mobile predecessor).

Velocity 2X coming September

FuturLab has oh so quietly announced the release date and some new info for the upcoming sequel to its stellar Velocity Ultra. Velocity 2X will land in Europe on 2nd September (US) and the 3rd in Europe. Along with the date, there's some new tunes and hot new pics on the PSN blog post.

The game will be Cross Save and Cross Buy on PS4, so you can enjoy the super smooth HD visuals on the big screen and carry on when you're out and about. It does look awesome, and could well live up to FuturLab's claim of a potential Game of the Year. And to think, all of this from a little PSP title just a couple of years ago. One thing's for sure, achievement hunters will be sorely tested by this game, with 50 levels and 25 bonus rounds to clear!

Vita in July, America can't find them

As far as these numbers are to be believed, you can't buy a Vita for love or money in the States. While the PS4 managed to sell 42,798, Americans could only find 2,066 Vita units on the shelves in July. Sure its only VGChartz figures and need to be taken with a mountain of salt, but it looks like the Vita remains as rare as new AAA Vita games.

Now, Sony was promising to restock U.S. shelves as fast as it could, as the Vita went from 28K sales in May to 15K in June, according to the more reliable NPD. That's yet another promise it has failed to live up to, in the wake of the Borderlands 2 sellout. Sony has had two months to find some Vita units to ship or get a factory sped up, and has clearly and spectacularly failed in that mission.

If the biggest Vita story of the month is that an online retailer has some in stock, you know Sony isn't doing its job properly. So, next time Sony promises anything about the Vita, add this to the list of blown items on its to-do-list.

Naturally, I'll apologise if the NPDs show Sony get a truck load of Vitas in at the end of the month, but do you really think so? And since there are no reliable figures ever for Europe who knows just how poorly the handheld is selling here. Having seen how supply chains work on the mobile side, I really can't believe Sony is this strapped for stock, unless it has all but given up on the hardware.

UPDATE: NPD figures now show 16,000 Vita sales in July, proving that VGChartz really should just give up! And Sorry to Sony for casting false aspersions, but your marketing is still crap!

Rail Wars gets a character trailer and teases limited editions

Train games have long been a staple of western computers, but they've never looked like this. Rail Wars from Mages puts all the focus on the kids in uniforms and not the tracks or the locos that are the usual stars of the show. That's not surprising considering the anime source material, and not much is being shown of the game in this latest clip, a month on from the original news.


The limited editions will come with a towel or blanket, which is what every trainspotter needs, I guess. Plus some other, as yet unrevealed goodies. Rail Simulator it certainly isn't but you have to hope there's plenty of choo-choo action too.

Guardians of the Galaxy landing on Disney's Infinity 2.0

Not too sure about this Infinity stuff now, especially since the blink-and-miss-it E3 announce, and Sony's history of making promises it can't keep. Now, Sony don't mention the Vita in their own blog post, which is rather alarming. Also, while I know it is not exactly a gaming bible, the new Argos catalogue makes no mention of a Vita version of DI2. Maybe its out there somewhere, but if stores don't know about it, why should buyers care?

Anyway, assuming it is in the works, the flavour-of-the-month Guardians of the Galaxy will be making an appearance for the figures-cum-game experience. It features Star-Lord and Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy Play Set, and you’re also going to have the option to pick up Drax, Groot, and Rocket as singles at launch.

La Mulana EX hitting the Vita this year

The Japanese crowdfunded game La Mulana is getting its own EX-rated version on the Vita, arriving later in the year. Published by Rising Star Games, developer Pygmy Studios is bringing an updated version of the original game, set in the fabled ruins of La-Mulana. Looking very like Fred, or the endless 16-bit platformers, it has potential.

In the game players will help Indy-wannabe Professor Lemeza Kosugi explore the lost city, finding treasures and discovering a bounty of unexplored caves, unsolved riddles and ravenous monsters. But with the ruins having claimed the lives of everyone that has ever entered, will Lemeza be able to survive in the quest to find the secret to life itself?

Velocity 2X news coming 3PM UK

This isn't right surely? Indie games, even the finest of them, should pop up on the PSN store with a bang, going "hello! Look at meeeee..." Instead, it seems Sony is now turning them into "events" to make up for the lack of traditional studio games that it is no longer making and those missing third parties titles. So, today at 3PM UK, 10AM EST, tune in for the officially sanitised news.

Kudos to FuturLab for getting themselves to the top of the pile in that respect. And there's no doubt that Velocity 2X is a superb piece of crafted arcade genius. But, increasingly, with many indies "in the fold" you can't get some casually updated screenshots, release information is being withheld and some are starting to act in a very non-indie way.

Is this indies becoming part of the system? Was it inevitable once they started taking over from third-party studios? Are Sony trying to "control the message" and institutionalising everything, leading to its inevitable absorption into the Borg collective.

As long as the games keep coming, and new indies continue to burst onto the scene with feisty independence, I guess there's no harm done. But, watch it Sony, this is just one step in how the seemingly invincible empire goes all evil and comes tumbling down. Just waiting for the Velocity skinned Vita limited edition, and I think this ship has sailed.

UPDATE: FuturLab say this is all their own doing, in their own inimitable style... so maybe its just me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gamescom hints start to trickle out

Expect this to grow as the days roll by to the big European games show, but right now we have a couple of hints of new things to come from Gamescom. Latest updates are going at the top. 

Thursday: Another sneaky peek at what everyone reckons is Until Dawn? Sure its not Assassin's Creed Winter Holiday? 

Also, Shahid Kamil is hinting again, make of this what you will... 30 Second Hero 2 most likely!

Wednesday's news is that Ubisoft has some unannounced titles to show off across various platforms. After bringing Child of Light to the Vita, is there much left in the locker? Here's the show trailer with what we know about... watch out for those elephants!

Sony is now (Tuesday) teasing something with a video of snowflakes becoming blooded and the hashtag #PlayStationGC. A non too subtle hint suggests it could be a PS4/PS3 and Vita title, but what? At about the five second mark are some numbers or letters behind the ice, but well concealed, I think. (UPDATE: Concensus overnight is that the teaser is for Until Dawn.) 

Friday 1 August - Possibly for the Vita, Just Add Water (Oddworld, Gravity Crash Ultra) are first up with a hint of ... "Oh and one last thing, look out for an announcement during GamesCom."

Square Enix may be showing off some new HD games, which could mean either more HD remasters (maybe for Vita), or new games for the big consoles. Guess we'll have to see on that one.  

Like I said, probably more to come on this list as people start yammering. Outside of the Vitasphere, Bioware is teasing something all-new with a nasty trailer.

Review: Rogue Legacy

Rogueing seems to be the most popular genre on the planet at the moment, and the positivity and hype behind this made it a day-one buy for me. What we have here is a fast-paced, RPG-lite, castle-stormer, where every time the hero dies, their offspring takes up the gauntlet. Different characters, each with a quirky ranges of characteristics, ailments or personal issues add to the variety, but once in the castle, its swords and spells out until your inevitable doom.

Lives might last a few seconds or a few minutes, depending on how the random level unfolds. If you run straight into a boss or a roomful of minor fiends on an early run, then you're toast, often literally. A few levels up the ladder of near-endless improvement and you'll have the extra health, armour and damage dealing capabilities to deal with most creatures. Then its down to your agility, reflexes and luck when it comes to staying alive in the platformer-like levels.

But, when was this ever a fun game mechanic? Die and go back to the start again? Even early arcade games started picking up from waypoints or where you last died. Rogue Legacy tries to jazz up the back-to-camp mechanics with the opportunity to reinvent your character, improve your Lord or Lady's statistics and equip them with new gear via the blacksmiths or a sorceress. It's clever, but not quite perfectly executed.

You can also keep going returning to the same level layout, for a price, so its not as big an issue as it could be. However, what isn't easily resolved is the waste. Your hard-earned cash gets tipped away, even if you are just a few coins short of an update, upgrade or charm. Eventually, you can limit the damage of even this crappy mechanic, but it seems a horrible waste, in these eco-friendly times.

Into the Rogue Legacy Lair

Where's the market or Inn (a star of practically all RPG or adventuring games) to pep you up with some cheap food or potions to keep you playing a little longer? It seems like a really obvious omission, perhaps an oversight, or a valid decision to keep up the reload rate? With it, the game would be awesome, instead it remains modestly fun, but slightly soulless and rat-trappish as you look for a big pay-day.

Treasure chests are the key to upgrading doling out decent sums of cash, templates for weapons or charms for spells. Find these and you feel a run is worthwhile, but you can easily crash through a number of offspring in having a good stretch. Beyond the castle are a forest, the misty Maya, an underworld and other mazes to liven up the quest.

Each plays host to one master demon or boss who must be destroyed to help open the main door to the throne room which you pass at the start of every level. Finding them is one task, defeating them is quite another, and its here where the ability to replay the same level comes in handy. Find a demon near a teleport or the start and you can grind through, learning the creature's moves and fire patterns to develop a winning strategy. I guess once you break into the throne room, something else will kill you and it'll be back to the start again.

I do appreciate the overarching theme of rebirth, enjoy that you can make characters fly, that dwarves can get into places giants cannot and the game's other tricks. Miners can find more gold, and other classes skill's all have their place in your tactical progression. Perhaps in the super-high levels, things become less brutal, but dying for the sake of progress somehow is deeply counter-intuitive. Even when the Lich class comes along, life never seems to get much easier.

On the plus side, the simple layers of progress are well done, the visuals are cute in their classic style and quirks like the Circus and Jukebox put a smile on your face, no matter how hard the going is. The final nark is the constant Cross-Save efforts on PSN, whenever you come back from the loo, it seems to have disconnected and takes a few second buggering about restoring itself.

Just a few fixes, and this would be a work of fiendish genius. Perhaps you can overlook the trouble I had with it, and add an extra point or two. Also, there's probably a perfect upgrade path listed on some spreadsheet for the PC version, if you want to save some effort. I suppose the key here is that I'm still playing it because I want to do better, and finish it off. But am I throwing my heart into it, like in Borderlands or the years spent in Diablo? Not quite.

Score 7/10
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Price: £9.99 (PSN, currently £7.99 for PS+)
Dev: Cellar Door Games
Progress: 40-something