Thursday, August 31, 2017

Demon Gaze II gets a Welcome to Asteria trailer

The old Demon Gaze battles may be a distant memory, as the Kadokawa/Experience RPG came out in 2014. So here's a new trailer to remind folks, or newer Vita owners, of what they are missing. It shows off some of the monsters you'll encounter in the dungeons in a blink-and-you-miss them style.

The original was perfect old-school RPGing, so here's hoping the new version hasn't been overly tweaked or laden with dense mechanics. NIS America are on publishing duties with the game landing mid-November.

Shovel Knight King of Cards digs 2018

Shovel Knight is one of the best-supported games outside of Killzone Mercenary, with a near endless supply of content. That comes to an end as the final chapter looms large in 2018. King of Cards offering four new realms to bash and dig through, more monsters to mash and plenty of hidden treasure. There's also a new card battle mode, naturally, to increase or blow your riches on!

Media Create chart data and Famitsu scores

Vita sales fall by 1,000 to 4,080 despite a couple of new titles arriving in the Media Create chart, which isn't a particularly good sign. Worse is the low sales of an all-new title like The Lost Child, which means developers are likely to be hopping over to Switch faster. At least Yomawari outsold the PS4 version by a few copies!

All eyes on Sony's press event to see if Sony gives up or wants to fight on.

Media Create sales:

08 Yomawari: Midnight Shadows (Nippon Ichi)- 8,255 / NEW
17 The Lost Child (Kadokawa) - 3,658 / NEW

Famitsu reviews:

Antiquia Lost – 7/7/7/7 [28]
Iwaihime: Matsuri 8/8/8/7 [31]
Moujuu-tachi to Ohime-sama 8/8/8/7 [31]

Licky The Lucky Lizard Lives Again leaps this way

Licky The Lucky Lizard Lives Again is an endearing looking 2D, arcade-style, endless platformer. Stuck in a lava tube, Licky uses his extensible tongue to keep on climbing. Players compete to climb higher and survive longer than friends and other players on online leaderboards.

Licky's long tongue can be used as a unique grappling mechanism to swing to higher platforms, as well as collecting health packs and projectiles. By combining consecutive grapples together, players can build their multiplier and earn points even quicker!

With unique levels each time you play, and six upgrades to unlock, it looks like great fun! Licky costs $2.99/€2.99 and is out tomorrow (next week in the US).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sony Japan's press event set for 19 September

Up bright and early in a few weeks for Sony's big Japan press event ahead of Tokyo Game Show. Set your alarms for 8AM UK time on 19 September (Midnight PST or stupidly early for east coast America).

Sony's line-up of listed events and titles doesn't mention the Vita once, which is a pretty gloomy way to start, but with plenty of third party releases still to hit Japan, you'd hope Sony would have at least one partner on board.

UPDATE: The event came and went, jump to about 9 minutes into the video for a rerun

Will the company take the fight to Nintendo with an updated Vita or other portable/hybrid? Or will it let Nintendo walk in and dominate portable gaming forever? If so, then will Sony start publishing on the Switch?

Livestream link now active! Either way it will be interesting to find out how they spin it, since focusing on PSVR isn't getting them anywhere fast and PS4 is being ran hard by Switch showing there's life in the portable concept yet.

Having been suggesting the PlayStation 4 Portable for three years now, will Sony finally have the balls and the budget to do it?

Windjammers flies today

Riding the breeze of retro nostalgia, DotEmu finally brings the frisbee SNK NeoGeo title to the Vita and PS4. Announced a year ago at PlayStation Experience, there's a lot of rose-tinted glasses love for the game, but will it meet expectations?

Weighing in at just 46MB and costing £11.99 on PSN, you might want to do your research. It features multiplayer, but is only local on PS4, six levels and characters, plus a couple of mini games thrown in.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Secrets of Mana screenshots

Following hot on the heels of the announcement video are some official screens of the game in action. We even have a packshot, even though the press release says the game is only getting a digital release, so perhaps that might change.

Yomawari Midnight Shadows gameplay trailer

If you're up for more Yomawari after the first dark and spooky adventure, or you missed the game, check out the gameplay of the sequel which is a bigger and better game. It is still based around the same tight and revealing engine where the girls get lost in the dark of the big outdoors. Lots of cool effects and twists in the work, judging by this clip.

Shantae Pirate Queen's Quest trailer

The major update for Half-Genie Hero features a total re-imagining of the base game’s play style, theme, and storyline. You’ve played the genie-half, now experience the other side of the story! As the villainous pirate Risky Boots, your quest is to travel Sequin Land in search of the components needed to conquer Sequin Land and defeat the Half-Genie brat!

Mecho Tales gets a proper trailer

We've seen plenty of Twitter video clips of Arcade Distillery's Mecho Tales, but nothing in gorgeous hi-res. Luc Bernard has fixed that now with a gorgeous look at the bright platformer. It features Little Thief and Angel as protagonists fighting their way across 20 levels of platform mayhem.

Note, we're still waiting for Plague Road in Europe, last boxes are being ticked for certification and so on.

Danganronpa V3 demo trailer

The demo of NIS America and Spike Chunsoft's latest murderfest is out now on US, no sign of it in the EU, (but it is on PS4 if you're multiformat). If that applies, you can now have a preview play of Danganronpa V3, if not check out the demo gameplay video.

Preorders up for Secret of Mana 3D remake for early 2018

Just when I get used to slating Square for not bringing great games (like Setsuna) west, or not bringing Dragon Quest Builders II to Vita at all, they manage to get back on my good side with this type of antic.

Casually, out of nowhere, we get the news that a total 3D remake of the original Secret of Mana will land on Vita and PS4 on 15th February 2018, with a global matching digital-only release. It may look a bit Chibi (Check out this conflicted opinion from a big fan of the series) but its another big Vita release for 2018.

Features include:
  • Audio Updates – including a newly arranged musical score and voiced characters
  • 3D Graphics - revamped visuals for the entire game; a vivid, Mana-filled world rebuilt in 3D for the first time
  • Upgraded Gameplay – the original system has been reworked in an effort to realise a modern action-RPG with improved gameplay
  • Dialog scenes added – several core scenes from the original story now newly visualized in-game
DLC pre-orders include special character costumes, with a Moogle Suit for Randi, Primm and Popoi, Tiger Two-Piece for Primm and Tiger Suit for Randi and Popoi. Actually, there's no pre-order button for the Vita version, but I guess we'll still get the pre-order DLC costumes.

Perhaps that's the Mana team have been so busy and titles like Adventures of Mana were so tetchy in development and the pixel conversions from iOS editions took forever.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Indie Vita dev update

As the bigger publishers move their focus to Switch, The Vita community is increasingly reliant on smaller developers and publishers for Vita games. Here's a look around the caves of #VitaIsland where the coders are hard at work.

You can check out Twitter for the regular posts from a bunch of teams working on Vita games:

Rainbite for Reverie (daily posts and a new dev blog)
Behind the Stone for Sir Eatsalot (regular updates)
Valfaris (lots of art and WIP imagery)
Luc Bernard plenty of Mecho Tales update
These are the few that spring to mind, do tweet me with links to other regular posters!

But there are still loads more that are working quietly under the radar. Some won't talk about a game at all until Sony "magically" announces it, others are just too busy juggling real life and coding to have much of a social media presence.

Canadian team Celcius are still hard at work on space explorer, combat and trading game Drifter, with this March build showing the game coming along nicely. First announced in 2014, the game will be done when it's done, but is definitely something to look forward to as the Vita remains pretty bereft of spacy fun.

Kickstarter is definitely on the way out for Vita, but there are still dozens of titles in progress and while news can be sketchy, stuff is still happening. This often coincides with devs having a PC or other version to prioritise.

The Muv Luv team recently announced that the major goal of its Kickstarter was done, and "we can now resume PS Vita development of the trilogy. We apologize again for the severe delays, and like we said before, we'll fully commit to them and will get most of the items in our checklist done before the year ends."

Vita over 5K in Media Create chart data plus Famitsu reviews

Cripes, DM! The Vita has sold almost 5,200 units in Japan last week, breaking a 14-week run of being stuck in the 4Ks, and that's with no new games entering the chart. Minecraft sticks around at No. 19 with another 4K units, bringing it close to 1.2 million boxed copy sales in Japan.

With plenty of new stuff on the way, including Yomawari: Midnight Shadows and
The Lost Child out tomorrow, and more as we speed out of summer place your bets for 4,5 or 6K next week?

Over in Famitsu land, the latest scores show Undertale being well received in Japan, Nights of the Azure should do well with an import boost as its coming west on Vita, and I have no clue what Crank In is.

Undertale  – 8/9/8/8 (one point more than Sonic Mania)
Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon – 8/8/8/7
Crank In – 7/7/8/7

Demon Gaze II and Tokyo Tattoo Girls release dates revealed

Some actual Vita news from Gamescom, holy cow! NIS America has dropped release dates for the sequel to the much loved Demon Gaze and the slightly more quirky Tokyo Tattoo Girls.

Both games are arriving in North America on November 14 and for Europe on November 17. Here are some new TTG pics to celebrate. Demon Gaze II will hopefully still have a fan base, with the original one of the purer RPGs that was total fun to play, without the developers mucking around with silly or boring extra mechanics.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ratalaika sneaking FPS roguelike One More Dungeon onto the Vita

One More Dungeon is a first person shooter roguelike coming to us via Stately Snail and Ratalaika, with procedurally generated first person levels and pixel-art graphics. A roguelike, originally on PC/Steam, that places you in the shoes of a nameless adventure seeker, your job is to reach the final level deep within the dungeon and destroy the obelisks that are used by forces of Evil to invade his world.

UPDATE: Trophies now listed

If you remember the original Wolfenstein or Hexen, this should toll a few bells, hopefully the Stately Snail folks in Russia can expand the maps up and down for future versions, although the original came in 2015, so perhaps that ship has sailed.

Getting there won't be easy though as lots of enemies stand between you and your goal, but the good news is you can use all kinds of melee weapons, magic staffs, and antique artefacts to blaze your way through.

  • Fusion of old school FPS and Roguelike games.
  • Procedurally generated levels.
  • 30+ types of enemies and 80+ items.
  • A parallel universe with manually created locations.
  • A Sanity level that can reduced by using artefacts acquired in-game.
  • Customisable gameplay in the form of modifiers that can be tweaked prior to playing, to tailor make the gameplay to one of your choosing.

The game is slated for release later this year!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Time travel puzzler Still Time lands on Vita next week

Reminding me a tiny bit of Stealth Inc., Sony has just put up a blog post for Still Time, a light and time bending puzzler with some stylish effects to light up a little pixel world. The game from Alan Zucconi is out next week and Cross Buy with PS4.

Check out the blog for a few more details, key to which is that you can assist and hinder your other selves as your travel, but all the good stuff is in the atmospheric video.

Sony teasing the reveal of something new for PlayStation

Common sense says this has less than 0.1% chance of being a new Vita, but just in case, I'll put this here. Most likely it isn't something "new" at all, but some random PS4 bundle, it looks very sports car, os Gran Turismo GT Sports? Or possibly, a PS4/PSVR package or an even cheaper PS4 Slim design.

UPDATE: As expected, just a new Gran Turismo Sport LE, pretty but hardly new. However, I hope Sony noted all the requests for a new Vita in the comments of the original post. There is still much love.

For actually "new" it could be a hardware extender, augmented gaming kit, a breakout box or external storage option, there are many things it could be, but would they really be teased like this?

But, just in case Sony wants to go toe-to-toe with Nintendo Switch, then there's always that faintest of hopes for a Vita Pro or PlayStation 4 Portable Player. Guess we'll find out at one of Sony's upcoming events. Anyway, definitely none of them, whatsoever, obviously!

Sony isn't officially at Gamescom beyond a booth, and Paris Games Week is at the beginning of November, so I'd expect an out-of-sequence reveal to stand apart from all the other news. Since there's no timer on reveal, stay tuned!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Review Undertale

The sheer excitement for Undertale, stemming from its E3 announcement for the Vita and PS4, isn't exactly borne out when you first get started with the game. You, a Simpson's shade-of-yellow pixel character, meander around a simple-looking realm of the undead, meeting a bizarre roster of characters.

The million-selling PC title, which I've never played, comes to the Vita and fits perfectly on the small screen. Text is readable, controls are tight, jokes are universal and those pixels are as crisp as ever.

Stick with the game beyond the opening house and snow village 'Snowdin', and you soon get a grasp on why the game is so loved. Firstly, there's the sense of humour, which varies from edgy school grade jokes to punchlines delivered long after you'd forgotten about the feed.

Then, there's the non-puzzle puzzles, RPG in-jpokes, the mystery unopening doors, the backstory to even the most generic of characters, that in other games live and die without so much as a "how do you do?" Finally, there's the sense of tragedy and loss as the tales of the monsters and the underworld are told.

Undertale is unique in that you don't actually have to fight any of the enemies blocking your path. Simply fleeing will avoid the early encounters, while playing with dogs using sticks or balls, petting creatures, outwitting them, or ignoring their attacks or responding to them in other ways can help you avoid engagements and win one of the game's true endings. The further in you go, the more complex these non-fatal battles become.

Undertale the anti-battle adventure

If you do end up in battle, your heart takes center stage in a small bordered arena, where enemies will launch various attacks. Staying still will outfox some foes, while moving is an essential for other attacks. They are colour-coded, so once you get the rules, you can master the battle, even earning back health points. But why battle, when ghostly music can frighten opponents away? Just one of the many other ways of slipping past a fight!

Winning battles through combat makes you stronger, avoiding fighting or dodging their blows makes you smarter, both of which beg for separate playthroughs, which is hugely encouraged. You do have attack, defence and health stats, but by playing it nice, these are rarely called upon. Play nasty and you can boost them in stores with a regular supply of cake and accessories.

Between each spot of combat or puzzle, the world is littered with endless little witticisms from judgy plants to memes that come to life and characters or situations that mercilessly take the piss out of traditional role players. Shopkeepers are worth having conversations with, just don't try to sell them your pathetic collection of nick-nacks, in fact pretty much everything is worth having a look at.

As a bonus, complete the game, and you can fill out the black border that surrounds the 4-by-3 ratio game with pretty surrounds. This all helps to elevate Undertale above those simple 8-bit looks. It should also serve as a lesson to other RPG makers not to drag out the same old earnest motifs every iteration. And to would-be coders, this is Toby Fox's first game, proving that imagination can outdo technical skill given the right ideas.

Some grumpy buggers might not get the joke, or baulk at a £12 game with no polygons or hellish death battles, but I'd hope they are in the minority.

Price: £11.99
More reviews
Score: 8/10
Dev: Toby Fox
Size: 155MB
Progress: Hotland

Otome Neo Angelique gets a pastel trailer

Out in December for Japan, Neo Angelique Angel's Tears from Otomate looks like an entirely typical love adventure with plenty of well-heeled gents, and a couple of rougher types, fading in and out of the trailer.

The latest in a long line of PS2 and PSP adventures, they're based off a 2000-era anime, but are still set in Arcadia and the Cardinal University. In the game, a set of accidents that seemed to have nothing to do at first glance eventually force the main character to make a big choice related to the entire universe. Woo!

Tokyo Clanpool: sex and politics

From the chat I've been seeing, soon YouTube will be banning all this sort of sick filth, putting Japanese game developers who want a little fan service in their titles in a sticky situation. The story so far, saw Tokyo Clanpool as just a bunch of cute politicians wading into battle against alien invaders.

But this clip drags in the almost inevitable boob fondling and stimulation to help channel the mystical power of Ether into them to help boost their capabilities. If Google and YouTube ban this sort of thing, you can almost see the Japanese cultural ambassador stomping down to the UN in his mech suit demanding justice, flanked by orgasaming cosplay types. Stay classy, Compile Heart!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Square posts another set of Itadaki Street character clips

Whatever the heck this Monopoly-style board game is, it isn't Dragon Quest and it isn't Final Fantasy. However, I'm sure Japanese gamers will lap it up, now Square has bolted on some cash-in characters, as demonstrated by this Cloud clip.

There's plenty more character clips turning up on their YouTube channel, if you want to see your gaming heroes reduced to the role of a chatty token.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Media Create flatline continues, how long until Sony starts developing for Switch?

Zombie Vita sales continue bouncing around the 4,600 mark, with no new games in the Media Create chart for the handheld. Even with Switch pretty much sold out around Japan, no one beyond this mythical few thousand seems keen to pick up the Vita, and Sony hasn't shown off a new colour or promotional model in months, missing the simplest of tricks.

Clearly, Switch will be the next Vita, but Sony just letting it walk in and take over the world remains pretty embarrassing. How long until Sony starts developing its own IP titles (more LocoRoco rather than Uncharted) for the Switch? The clock is ticking I think!

UPDATE - and here we go, Sony Music's new game brand publishing on Switch!

Down in Famitsu land, haven't seen any review scores this week, but a few Vita games appear in the most-wanted chart. This shows there's still interest, but how long until these, or certainly any 2018 titles, swap over to Nintendo's baby.

10. Romancing SaGa 3 – 220 votes (TBA)
19. Shin Yomawari – 154 (out next week)
22. Tokyo Clanpool – 104 (October)

Mary Skelter limited edition goes high on art

If you want to get truly immersed in the bloody world of Mary Skelter, you can bag a limited edition Nightmare box next week from here, if turn-based combat RPGs are your thing. The $69 set includes a collector's box and the game with a reversible cover.

It also comes with a Blood Maidens Cloth Poster, Mary Skelter: Nightmares Novel,  an original collection of short stories, complete with stunning, full-color original artwork plus a 70-page Nightmares Official Art Book.

Retro RPG Antiquia Lost bags a trophy list

Revealed at the end of July, Antiquia Lost now has a trophy listing with a Platinum and plenty of loot to collect. The Kemco and CMC Create project only just arrived on Steam, so the PS4 and Vita version is a quick follow up.

Antiquia Lost is a pretty modern looking pixel RPG with the unique feature of a slime heroine who eats gems to grow skills, and she can imitate the many monsters that the party of adventurers face. More traditional characters include Bine, a lad who lives in a small rural village. He is challenged by Lunaria, a girl who lives near the village, to go with her to the royal capital, where many quests await.

What with Undertale, The Bards Tale and more on the way, Vita continues to be a true RPG machine!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Meet Adol from Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, trailer and DLC info

Pressing on, without any fear, here comes Adol Christin, the latest in the line-up of Ys VIII characters. Not only is he the sort of brainlessly heroic type you want in the front of a party, he'll also come with his own set of first week DLC...

  • Adol's Silver Armor - The memorable, original armor Adol wore in Ys.
  • Adol's Adventurer Clothes - Jaunty clothing that Adol wears on his adventures around the world.
  • Adol's Survival Kit - Obtain items that are useful when adventuring on a deserted island. Survival Kit includes: Blade Ring II (x1), Empty Bottle (x1), and Iron Ore (x10).

Undertale is out, enjoy the launch trailer

Something strange happened today, my timeline was flooded with tweets of people dusting off their Vita or going and finding the damn little box so they could enjoy Undertale. A whole forgotten raft of Vitas are being powered up, not for some swanky new FPS, but a modest pixel RPG.

Looking at the pic below, it is hard to see why, but having racked up awards and kudos all over the place in its PC incarnation, it is clear that there's a lot of love for this game. Check out the trailer and grab your Vita too, to enjoy the fun. It is out now on EU PSN, but you have to search for the game, at £11.99 and weighs in at 155MB with a 65MB patch, I'm downloading it now!

Burly Men at Sea trophies pop up

Brain & Brain's arty nautical adventure was mentioned at E3, but is another of those Vita games that kept its head below the sonar. Now the trophies have popped up, I guess it is ready for launch on the Vita and PS4.

UPdate: The game now has a PSN blog post and a release date of 19 September.

Its distinctive style has won Burly Men at Sea several commendations, with clever use of basic shapes and plenty of humour to give the Scandinavian fishing crew some depth. The PC version has been out for a while, so after this port, it'll be interesting to see what this team do next.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fresh The Lost Child intro trailer

With Demon Gaze II and Mary Skelter heading our way, looks like we're in for a bit of a resurgence of old-school RPGs, as The Lost Child heads to Japan next week via Kadokawa. The few gameplay clips in this suggest this has plenty of step-by-step dungeons with a range of big bosses for your team of avatars to fight, as angels and demons battle for control of Japan.

The Bard's Tale to be told on the Vita

The greatest story ever told? When I was a very young RPG player (and my older brother was an addict) The Bard's Tale series was an awesome 16-bit set of adventures, plunging into murky depths shown in a trading card-sized part of the Atari ST screen.

UPDATE: The game is confirmed as out this week (15 August) in the US, priced only $9.99 which is pretty cool. It is badged as The Bard’s Tale: Remastered and Resnarkled version, so might be a little more polished.

This, however, is the PS2 version with 3D action and minimal RPG-age, which makes it certainly more exciting, even if that does take away some of the imagination factor. As a bonus, the original games are included, assuming we get the full package. Note this isn't related to Bard's Gold, a pixel platformer that came out last year.

With trophies listed for a Vita version and InExile teasing some news, looks like the Vita could be home to a whole new era of classic fun. The game popped up on iOS and Android (£2.99 with IAPs) promising 30 hours of play, the voice of Cary Elwes as the Bard a few years back, so is an easy port for InXile, hopefully if it does well, some of their more modern titles (Bard's IV, Mage's Tale etc) will follow.

This does make me wonder how many other PS2-era games have gone the mobile route and are ripe for a Vita release. Any suggestions?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rabi-Ribi brings cute bullet hell exploring to the Vita in September

PQube will drop the adorable bunny-based side-scrolling action game, Rabi-Ribi, digital only on Vita, in Europe on September 1, 2017. 
In this hybrid shooter, platformer, you swing your Piko Hammer for truth, justice and bunny-kind as Erina, a bunny-turned-bunny-girl stars in a 2D side-scrolling action platformer that combines freedom to explore, platforming and bullet-hell style boss encounters.

There's a vast map full of hidden nooks and crannies, with secrets and power-ups galore. You can go back and forth through the non-linear stages, unlocking new skills and abilities or return to previous areas and uncover new paths and secrets.

With story driven quests, in her efforts to find her way back to her master and discover what has happened to her, Erina becomes embroiled in a wide variety of events as she gets to know the inhabitants of Rabi-Ribi island.

Melee and ranged combat

The Piko Hammer is your main way of delivering furious bunny justice. Level up the Piko Hammer with use and unlock new skills and combos, including massive uppercuts and crushing dive attacks. Ribbon the Fairy serves as your trusty projectile partner. Improve your relationship with Ribbon to level up her skills and damage. Collect new magic types for Ribbon to use with vastly different functions.

Bullet-hell Boss Encounters

Face off with a multitude of bosses, all sporting their own fiendish attack patterns as they turn the screen into bullet-hell mayhem. Preparation, understanding attack patterns and devising strategies to beat them is key. Unlock Boss Rush mode to face a gauntlet of bosses!

Check out the announce trailer to see it in action.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Slain successor Valfaris will slay the Vita

Announced earlier this year at E3 for PS4, Slain developer Andrew Gilmour has taken to Twitter to confirm that its more sci-fi looking cousin Valfaris will also come to the Vita. While there's no video gameplay yet, some GIFs lurk on the dev's Twitter.

The only detail we have is that after mysteriously vanishing from galactic charts, the fortress of Valfaris has suddenly reappeared in the orbit of a dying sun. Once a self-contained paradise, the grandiose citadel now plays host to an ever-growing darkness. Therion, a fearless and proud son of Valfaris, returns to his home to uncover the truth of its doomed fate and to challenge the arcane evil at its very heart.

Otherwise its the same-old slashfest with new and improved blasting, allowing you to dominate ranks of deadly enemies and bosses, from the weird to the grotesque (and some that are just grotesquely weird)! All to the thud of a seismic soundtrack by ex-Celtic Frost guitarist, Curt Victor Bryant. Guessing 2018 for this!

New Aria Soft romance Empress of Peach Flower waves its guns and swords around

Auto translate says this ARIA Soft game is called "Sliver of 1000, Empress of Peach flower" or ""Thousands of Edge, Empress of Peach flower" - take your pick. The 18-rated adventure will land on Japanese Vita screens in December. Other than that, the available information focuses only on the cast and singer of the drippy song. Searching around, there's a website which is very pretty and shows off the high-quality graphics, hopefully someone with better Japanese will decrypt some detail soon.

Extensive gameplay videos of Mary Skelter and Chaos Child

Idea Factory put up an hour's worth of unhinged RPG gameplay from Mary Skelter: Nightmares (out in September), with commentary last night. Also in action was Rice Digital, having fun with visual novel Chaos Child (out later in the year), which will hopefully carry on the success of Steins Gate.

Settle in and enjoy two hours worth of new Vita gaming! Both have physical releases, and I guess will require extensive support for the developers to keep a little faith in the Vita.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Latest Media Create sales figures and Famitsu review scores

The painfully slow summer for Vita steamrolls on in Japan, with the flatline of doom stretching out to the horizon. Vita sales are down a couple of hundred last week to 4,773 according to Media Create data, and Minecraft is the only game in the chart selling another 3,200 copies. On the positive side, more games to come as seen in the Famitsu review scores below...

Over in Famitsu land, the latest scores whatever they are worth, show plenty of higher-quality Vita games still on the way.

The Lost Child – 8/8/8/8 [32]
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows – 8/7/8/8 [31]
Paradox of Gemini – 8/7/8/7 [30] (visual novel)
Taisho Mebiusline: Teito Bibouroku Hare – 8/7/8/8 [31]

Gust's Bride of the New Moon does the sexy thing

Classed as a beauty RPG, Gust's The Country Without a Night 2 (aka Nights of Azure 2, coming west but not on Vita): Bride of the New Moon is a 15-rated new release in Japan, coming at the end of the month for Vita, PS4 and Switch.

Looks like it has borrowed the Atelier engine, but ramps up the sexy play as these girls battle demons with an array of eclectic weaponry, while wearing swimsuits - at least in this new video. Weep gently western Vita owners!

Fresh Accel World vs Sword Art Online DLC

It seems like any crossover game is an endless source of DLC for the publishers. Check out Bandai's latest roster of goodies in the Castaway from Another World Pack and SAO Origins Pack.

The £15.99 pack includes three playable characters: Alice, Eugeo and Oberon (pictured). After completing their respective side quests, these three new characters will become playable
Infinite Dungeon: A new randomly generated infinite dungeon that will include multiplayer and a boss on each floor. Diabolos and Panopticon boss form will challenge the team testing their limits, plus:
  • New characters appearance: Personna Vabel, Grafighedge and Heatcliff
  • New PVP quest
  • New Costume and Accessories

The SAO Origins Pack features an additional playable character - Sachi and the following costumes:

Kirito and Sinon GGO Avatar Costumes
Knights of the Blood Oath Costume
Kirito Fairy Dance Avatar Costume

In addition, the SAO Ordinal Scale Pack (£3.29) which features Kirito and Asuna Ordinal Scale Costumes and a second Playable Character - Yuna

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kuno's Progress looks like sweet romance

Prototype's latest Yoshiwara Amaryllis Kuno's Progress is an adult love story for Japan, updated from an original PC game by MariaCrown for the Vita. Touch screen controls take over for interactions with message feed, choice-making decisions, fast forward and rewind, and skipping scenes.

But why talk about gorgeous art and searing tales of love when the developers can witter on about how there are two colour modes, one to better match a PC monitor for fans of the original, and one to show off better the original Vita's OLED display. See these guys aren't just knocking out romance tales, they really care about their art (I think)!

Return the pants of power, said no hero ever (meet Konosuba)

Your weekly dose of fan service comes in the form of a new adventure set in the comedy world of Konosuba. This 5bp RPG action/adventure romp sees the hero having to steal and/or return the underwear of a select group of ladies, presumably where further hijinks ensue. Check out the site for more wispy details and the game's full trailer and hefty soundtrack.

Here's a new mini-clip trailer, just because! With the song Million Smile by Machico which seems to be a big deal.

Atelier Lydie & Souer Alchemists of the Mysterious Painting goes on show in Japan this winter

The Atelier series will never die, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. I guess it will continue to run on the Vita as long as Gust can drag a few frames per second out of that aging engine. The new title, Atelier Lydie & Souer: Alchemists of the Mysterious Painting offers a dual-character adventure with the usual Atelier potionery (not an actual word) and adventuring.

UPDATE: Teaser site live, and now I know how to spell their names properly (edit, edit, edit) with some special editions and pre-order DLC costumes on show.

It sees a pair of sisters of the Marlen family, able to enter a mysterious world inside a painting. Having said that, there's just this one piece of art for now. Hopefully, a trailer will arrive soon, there's talk of improved 3D models, but I guess that won't apply to the Vita version. I'd like to think western sales of the series are strong enough to merit a version coming our way in 2018.

The game is also coming to Switch and PS4, so its likely only a matter of time before the Vita version drops off the bottom of the list if sales are deemed insufficient by the Gust bean counters.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fortune Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary trailer

Square is holding its Dragon Quest Festival in Japan and there's plenty of new game news, not all of it good. Fortune Street: Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary is a weird looking party board game, revealed around a year ago. With the characters from Square's storied sagas bolted on it has cash-in written all over it. Square's YouTube channel has a few more character intro clips to stare at, but if you think this is coming west, I can't see it happening.

Less good news is that Dragon Quest Builders II has been announced, but not for the Vita. PS4 and Switch owners will enjoy the second edition, which features swimming among a few other refinements and a new story. Given the first one sold over a million across PS3, PS4 and Vita that seems a bit cruel. But I guess progress beckons, even if the Vita version managed 300,000 plus!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Snap review - Energy Cycle

Energy Cycle is a fairly generic puzzle game disguised as something slightly physics-based, but why it has electro-felines as a visual motif, I have no idea. In the three modes, puzzle, timed and infinite, you need to turn all the glowing bubbles one colour. To do that tap a bubble and it will change the colour of any vertically or horizontally connected ones.

Learning in Infinite mode is the easiest way to progress, once you've figured out how to reshape the triangles, crosses, L-shapes, sticks and more complex shapes you come across, you can master pretty much any situation in about five minutes.

After level 10 in Puzzle mode, things get tricky due to the interconnections, but logic should see you through, most levels take only 20 or so presses to finish, so don't overthink things.

And that's really it, there's no need for the cats, the very random ambient electro music and swirly backgrounds. In fact, the who game could have been done on a ZX Spectrum, such is the simplicity. Quite what players of the Xbox One version feel, I have no idea.

The game also misses badly in execution. Press a button and nothing will happen for a few seconds, not even a sign you pressed the button, leading to some awkward pauses. And, as a good-old standby, randomly tapping bubbles will often help get you past a level. But the mechanics of the game are solid, and it is dirt cheap with 19 trophies including a Platinum if you're feeling like really wringing this game's neck.

A tiny hint of a plot, some reason for the cat's existence and a little effort in presentation, would have helped, but if you want a cheap, challenging, puzzler - got for it. On the plus side, if this is the developer's first game, there's plenty of hope and much to learn!

UPDATE: Oh dear, Energy Cycle has a rather horrible bug. On the Time Attack and Infinite Play modes, you can press X repeatedly when you complete the first level and the starburst appears. The game will skip the remaining levels if you keep tapping away, making it rather easy to get the platinum.

Score: 4/10
More reviews
Price: £2.99 (PSN)
Size: 225MB
Dev: Sometimes You
Progress: Platinum

Puzzler Energy Cycle pedals on to PSN

Nope, me neither! But here's Energy Cycle from Sometimes You, a physics and colour-based puzzler that's hit PC and Xbox One so far. You have to bring harmony to a grid of energy by changing all the cells to the same colour, except if you tap one, others change colour too!

Energy Cycle is only £2.99 and only 225MB. It probably worth a quick blast, with a time attack and infinite play mode to broaden the appeal. It does have a Platinum trophy among the 19 on offer if you're after some fast profile boosts!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Defender's Quest DX nears completion for Vita

Level Up Lab's classic PC tower defence/RPG crossover title Defender's Quest DX is almost ready for launch on PS Vita and PS4. Developer Lars Doucet is navigating the minefield of age ratings and Sony certifications, as you'll find out if you check his Twitter.

There's a lot of interesting detail in just how much of a pain getting a game on the Vita can be. The DX version, subtitled Valley of the Forgotten has been a critical hit on the PC and its been a while (since FieldRunners 2 and Final Horizon) that we had a good tower defence game.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Iconoclasts running on a Vita screen

This came out yesterday, but got missed in the scrum of news. We've seen lots of lovely clips (seriously, check out the quality!) of Iconoclasts, the vibrant platformer in action, but until now nothing on the Vita. While the quality isn't great, it is always good to see something running properly.

Developer Joakim Sandberg has put plenty of effort, around two years now I think, into this and while I can't wait to get my hands on it - happy for the developers to get everything perfect.

Ys VIII latest trailer of Seiren dwellers!

Lacrimosa of DANA and the endless trailers continues to edge toward release, as NIS America drop another clip showing off some more of the characters. Laxia, Sahad, Hummel, and Ricotta are the stars, with absolutely no cheese jokes!

This follows on from last week's trailer and many more before that. The game is out in September, so expect another half-dozen trailers at least. Given this isn't the most exciting character roster in gaming history, I'd be happier if they just released the game!

Chaos Child Collector's Gigalomaniac Edition revealed

Riding on the success of the Stein's Gate visual novels, Rice Digital is ramping up the bonuses with an exclusive Chaos Child Gigalomaniac Edition. The game was announced for western release back in May. Priced at £49.99 and arriving in the third quarter, the luxury version includes:

  • CHAOS;CHILD Standard Edition for PS Vita
  • High-quality Presentation Box
  • 128-page Premium Paperback Artbook
  • CHAOS;CHILD Selected Works OST CD
  • Set of Six Exclusive Pin Badges 
Chaos Child is a further entry in the Science Adventure series. Six years ago, an earthquake nearly destroyed the district of Shibuya. When a string of bizarre murders take place, high school student Takuru Miyashiro notices the dates match up with a series that also happened six years before.

Click for full size view! Pre-orders here, for the US version, click here

Moody platformer 36 Fragments of Midnight lights up the Vita

Petite games keeps the Vita news rolling this week with a release of its Steam platformer, which is also headed to Switch and 3DS. Not much detail other than "More info is coming soon!" on a tweet, but the launch trailer looks pretty atmospheric.

Having already brought Hover Heaven to PC, hopefully Petite sees enough interest to consider bringing that low-poly racer to the Vita, if Unity tweaking allows.

UPDATE: 36 Fragments now has a release date of 20 September.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mary Skelter Nightmares dated with new trailer

Mary Skelter is one of the more interesting Japanese games heading our way, now dated for a September 19/22 release date for the US and EU. The Idea Factory game is that rarity, a Vita exclusive and mucks around with a traditional-looking RPG engine, set in a scummy jail.

You need to escape as various nightmarish creatures stalk the player. Using a turn-based battle system, class changes, a blood-licking transform system. Solve the dungeons' mysteries and satisfy the prison's desires to make it out alive!

About Mary Skelter: Nightmares
The Jail suddenly appeared a number of years ago, sinking the city deep into the ground. There, the Jail had power over eerie creatures called "Marchens."

Within the prison was a boy named Jack - living a life of suffering, tortured day in and day out, in a world where all dreams, hopes, peace, and humanity had been lost for as long as the people could remember.

Then one day, amidst the darkness that prevailed, a girl who called herself a member of the Blood Team came and rescued Jack from the prison. This marked the beginning of fate - of Jack's and the Blood Maidens' escape from the Jail...

Jack and the Blood Team will face countless perils in regaining all that has been lost, to finally escape once and for all!

Key Features

  • Walking Nightmares The dungeon-crawling RPG genre gets a twist when special enemies can chase you through the dungeons! Lay traps to make your escape, or try to take them down!
  • Blood-drenched Transformations! Characters can transform with stronger stats and extra skills, but if they fight too much they may enter Blood Skelter Mode, where they go completely berserk!
  • Everyone's got a Job Strategize your dungeon battles by assigning different classes to your characters, unlocking new skills, stats, and character portraits

Beyond Human Kickstarter launches

Kickstarter generally seems to be on a downward slope, with little or no Vita action and less interest from developers. But, there's always room for one more and Beyond Human, the sci-fi Metroid-style game is now up for funding. It only needs €25,000 for the Vita and PS4 version to get made with plenty of the groundwork already done.

With a 2019 release date, it could see the Vita almost into the next decade, and who would have thought that! Check out the other recent KS action. There are a few more games still planned with Vita versions, and who knows how many others may pop one up.

UPDATE: LimitedRun Games has commented on the Reddit thread that they would be interested in a physical version if the game comes to fruition.

Danganronpva V3 roll call trailer

Here come the English language versions of all those Japanese trailers from a while back, with first bunch of the class, top of the best of the best of the best types step forward, awaiting an untimely end.

UPDATE: here's the second roll-call trailer...

This trailer introduces the Ultimate Tennis Pro - Ryoma Hoshi, Ultimate Astronaut - Kaito Momota, Ultimate Magician - Himiko Yumeno, Ultimate Artist - Angie Yonaga, and Monodam! There's plenty more to come.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception themes on the way

Not many Vita games out recently, but Utawarerumono Mask of Deception fans might fancy decorating their Vita with these stylish themes from Atlus. There are two for Vita and two for PS4, at $2.99 each for US PSN users. Guess they'll head to Europe shortly. Don't like paying for themes? Tough, not many people seem keen on doing them for free these days. There are plenty of sites that offer desktop backgrounds though.

Vita sales approach 5K in Japan as Dragon Quest XI dominates

A month ago it looked like the Vita would drop below 4,000 sales. Now it is pushing closer to 5,000. Which is just my trying to generate some excitement as the Vita remains flatlined in between those boundaries.

Still, it is up 400 on last week, with Kenka Bancho Otome breaking into the top 10 with almost 7,000 sales. A trio of games pepper the 3,000 sales mark at the bottom of the chart in the guise of: Wagamama High Spec from iMel, Grisaia no Kajitsu: Side Episode from Prototype and Idea Factory's Hiiro no Kakera.

I'll tastefully ignore Dragon Quest XI selling around 2.2 million across 3DS and PS4, even if Square did show off a Remote Play video to remind folk of the Vita. That launch managed to boost hardware sales by 4X to 5X on those platforms.

Here are the Persona 3 Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5 Dancing Star Night trailers

The two first looks at Atlus' new Persona dancing games have gone life (earlier story) showing off some of the moves and characters from the Persona 3 and Persona 5 titles. Let the fan dissections commence, but I'm just happy for a couple of decent profile games arriving in 2018.

They're already racking up 1000s of views in the opening minutes, so guess love will be high for these titles! The trailers were first shown at the Persona 5 live concert. earlier in the year there were a bunch of Persona 5 web addresses registered, so there could be more to come.

Persona series returns to the Vita with two new dancing games

Get ready for more disco fun with former and current generations of Persona crew as Atlus Japan unveils two new games. Persona 3 Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5 Dancing Star Night have been revealed for Sony's handheld. The site is live but the video links are currently unavailable.

Did you enjoy Persona 3 Portable on the PSP or Vita, get ready to groove with Yukari and Junpei once more - hopefully without everyone blowing their brains out!

Both games are listed for PS4 and Vita, but will likely use the Persona 4: Dancing All Night engine. That game was fun to play but the story dragged a lot, so hopefully things will be a bit more dynamic with these new games. Since they both have English main titles, guessing a western release newsflash won't be too far behind!

Near is dead, no great loss

The Near service on the Vita has been halted, which will come as no great loss to most Vita owners. You can't delete the app, presumably so that games don't start breaking down, but if you go to Settings, "Delete All 'near' Data" you can free up some memory card space.

Having done that, I'm now trying to remember exactly what I used it for, and a few shared puzzles aside, I really don't recall. It was fun in the early days to see other Vita owners "near" me, but was otherwise an unexplored gimmick by most users. Despite travelling far and wide, I never had WiFi on, or a 3G model, so perhaps never got the best from it.

But "near" was never going to be as fun as Nintendo's Street Pass, it's just a shame that Sony didn't try to evolve it. Some owners are still rather fond of near, with a few mournful tales of its passing around the web. Feel free to comment if you have some near-love stories

Naturally, we can expect a rash of stories about "another nail in the Vita coffin"  but it makes no practical difference to our little Vita lives. I do wonder if the homebrew or indie app crowd would be allowed to come up with something better, but we all know Sony's stance on that!

Get ready to enjoy Reverie

If you don't already, then do follow the Rainbite Twitter feed. It has almost daily updates from the developers showing lots of features and loving touches they are adding to their pixel-action adventure, Reverie. They also ask for lots of feedback on gameplay mechanics and features, making this one of the most accessible development projects seen on the Vita.

Do get involved, and enjoy this latest gameplay clip. The open world game will be done when it is done, but is definitely coming along superbly. It features plenty of New Zealand specific touches to add a distinctive look and to pay tribute to the developer's home land.