Friday, March 30, 2018

Penny Punching Princess Review

Wow, a Japanese game that isn't an RPG, visual novel or quirky murder mystery. Instead, Penny Punching Princess takes the barest of role-playing elements and mixes it into what looks like a clever little fighting game.

With sparkling visuals and lashings of cash, it feels lively, has a boisterous sense of fun (thanks to the snarky narration) and is well paced, with more focus on the action than endless banter. One thing that's not clear is her name, is she Princess Penny, just Princess? Whatever!

Broke, due to her dad's gambling issues. The time is right for "Penny" to reclaim her crown, largely by raking in cash, bribing all and sundry, helping her avoid unnecessary fights and building up her combat skills.

Penny Pinching Pugilist

Each level sees the Princess set out hunting treasure chests. Every few steps, spikes pop up sealing her into an area where monsters appear. Bash them about a bit, with light or strong attacks, and they drop some loot. Sping the right stick when they are "Break" stunned, and you get even more to boost your overall ranking. Throw in dodges to avoid attacks, and hidden skills or special attacks, and the action gets pretty frenetic.

Other hazards, flames, spikes, cannons, hammers and so on add to the chaos and slow you down. Rather than fight everyone, you can bribe a more powerful beast to your cause, and summon them to do some random damage. The more powerful they are, the more money is needed, and there's a charge meter on the bribe calculator, so you can only toss out the brown envelopes sparingly.

You can also bribe the environmental relics, so a triple-fire cannon can become a useful ally against the bosses. Health portals are few and far between, but you can at least make it through the early levels before the game's issues become apparent.

One useful character, a heart-shaped creature, "Life Man" provides you with a rare source of bonus health, so is well worth paying off. Also, a random feature called Coin Miracle lets you cash in some credits for health, a powerful attack, a brief outbreak of gigantism and other bonuses.

Issues Don't Make This Mint

While PPP looks great fun at first, a few issues soon become apparent. The combat controls are next to useless, and Penny seems to get stuck doing one move repeatedly or refusing to turn around. There's also the fact that one hit can knock you into something else in the smaller battlezones, doing large amounts of damage rather unfairly.

Also, many battles can be won simply be standing in a corner and pummelling away, which surely wasn't the developer's intention. Finally having to do calculator entry, and then trying to tap the right monster (you can use the controls, but it still doesn't help) in a crowded battle is one of the dumber game mechanics I've seen. It can often get you killed and just isn't fun, there's no excuse for it.

Back at the Castle

Between levels, Penny can boost her stats with skill points, improve her armour through collectibles, but none of that really helps make the game better. There's no joy to be had growing a heard of beasts you can't do much with.

Later in the game, Isabella joins the fun as a long-range attacker who's a bit handier in battle, but it doesn't really change the dynamics all that much. With the game rapidly running out of ideas, this is a neat-looking engine that you could make a great Gauntlet-type game out of, but PPP fails to maximise on it.

A shame, as it looks stylish, has a great, sometimes emotive soundtrack, but is hampered by dumb design decisions, and in the end, just isn't all that fun!

Score: 6/10
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Price: £TBC (PSN)
Publisher: NIS America
File size 933MB
Progress: Broke and no interest!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Countdown to PS+ Vita Death: 99 Vidas and Q*Bert Rebooted are your April games

PlayStation Plus managers are counting down the months until they don't have to worry about fobbing Vita owners off with minnow games.

Just to prove the point, we have the hapless Q*Bert effort from a couple of years back, along with the newer, and rather better-looking, 99 Vidas beat 'em up from Brazilian team QUByte. The games are available on the 3rd of April.

Vita sales firm in Japan

Vita sales were almost identical to last week according to the Media Create chart, with another 3,600-odd happy Vita owners out there. Hopefully, it'll stay at that level for a while to calm developers' nerves.

On the software front, Attack on Titan 2 was down at No. 18, having sold another 5,000 copies to pass the 20K barrier on Vita. Sword-wielding love adventure Otomate title Ikemen Sengoku sneaked in at No. 16 selling 6,750 copies - a decent haul considering the number of these games out there. 

Last week's figures.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Rogue Aces cleared for take off

April 12 will see a fine squadron take to the air in defence of the realm. Despite the PS4 logo flashed across the front of the video, Rogue Aces is very much on the Vita.

Mixing and mashing the whole Luftrausers, Harrier Attack and many other side-shooters elements, it is procedural so offers plenty of varied challenge. There's a realistic flight model to add to the feel of an aerial ballet. And, with the gung-ho or stiff upper lip character voices provided by Marc Silk it sounds bags of fun.

More on the PSN blog.

Friday, March 23, 2018

More western releases skip the Vita, the spiral tightens

With news that Spike Chunsoft are bringing Steins Gate Elite and Zanki Zero west, but not to the Vita, it looks like another developer has given up on Sony's little console. Still, Spike gave us a good life, so there's no point moaning at them.

Presumably the economics don't add up with the extra PEGI/ESRB ratings, the Sony approvals and the cost of some extra coding, ignoring the chance of a physical release. Hopefully, PQube or someone else will pick some of the games up, but if not imports are an option, or go buy these great titles on a bigger console!

So, go and play the original Steins;Gate (again) and the Danganronpa titles and all the other little bundles of joy (like the Shiren and Conception games) that Spike and its slightly unhinged developers sent our way.  Their memories will live long!

Annoyingly, this looks like a late decision, as the video for Steins Gate Elite still have the Vita mentioned.

New Metal Max Xeno trailer with added dinosaurs

Kadokawa has teased with some recent Vita screenshots of Metal Max Xeno on Twitter, now its back to the big glossy trailers with more tank battling action. This time, the goodie vehicles are taking on a range of rapidly growing monster mechs, often bolted to dinosaurs as if they'd never heard of the Zoids license.

Here's the previous trailer from the end of last year, the game is out mid-April in Japan, still no word of a western Vita release.

A Vita trailer for bitDungeon Plus, out next week

Developed by Dolores Entertainment, and brought to the Vita and PS4 by Hidden Trap, this fast-paced retro roguelike combines the randomized loot of Diablo and the fast action combat of Zelda.

bitDungeon Plus features randomized dungeons in a pixelated world plenty of enemies, loot boxes and massive final bosses! The difficulty curve will provide new challenges on each new adventure.
The PS4 version has co-op play and is Cross-Buy with the Vita edition which comes our way, as the team says, "Because owners of this little beast deserve it!"

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Aksys welcomes you to a summer of mystery

We already knew the games were headed west, but Aksys has bookended its little visual novel fest with a neat campaign, the Summer of Mystery.

Three upcoming interactive fiction titles feature adventure, intrigue and suspense, including Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly in April, 7’scarlet in May, and Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk in June.

Featuring creepy towns, mysterious mansions and ancient feuds, each phyiscal release will include a collectible character card set inside the package, and fans who purchase all three titles can get an exclusive set of collector pins.

In Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, a girl wakes up in a mysterious mansion with no memory of who she is or how she got there, while in 7’scarlet, Ichiko visits a strange village to look for clues about her missing brother.

The heroine of Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk must find a treasure to bring peace to her town and unlock the mystery of her own past. A popular genre for young adults in Japan, otome (interactive fiction) games feature deep character development and engaging plots in which the player’s choices influence the storyline. Rich anime-style artwork and cinematics draw the reader further into the story as they create their own adventure each time they play the game.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Attack on Titan 2 and Winning Post 8 chart for Vita in Japan

Vita sales took a sharp downturn last week by 1,800 sales down to 3,644 as some games actually pop up in the Media Create chart. The numbers are kind of what I was expecting, still the previous weeks' higher sales were a welcome shot in the arm.

On the games front, Attack on Titan 2 makes a fairly scattershot entry, but still doing decent numbers on the Vita, selling:

No. 3 PS4 - 28,480
No. 4 Switch - 22, 941
No. 8 Vita - 15, 261

Also out across several formats, Winning Post 8 sold:

No. 11 PS4 - 8,459
No. 17 Vita - 3,837
No. 18 Switch - 3,745

Full data here, last week's figures here. Over in Famitsu-land, the latest review scores are out with SRWX topping the list ahead of a bunch of visual novels.

Super Robot Wars X 33/40
Memories Off: Innocent Fille 32 (video below)
Enkan no Memoria: Kakera Tomoshi 29
Galtia V Edition 29

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Penny-Punching Princess trailer is full of character

Penny-Punching Princess, an isometric brawler, sees the poor princess dethroned and having to fight her way back up the rankings to take charge once more. And why fight, when you can bribe the enemy bosses? And even former princesses have friends, so meet her silver-tongued beetle butler, Sebastian, and the smelly-but-sweet zombie Isabella.

Looks like a lot of deviousness in NIS America's quirky title, arriving in early April.

Monster Slayers to deck the Vita

Digerati and Nerdook Productions are bringing Monster Slayer our way soon. A rogue-like, deck-building, RPG adventure, players create a hero and choose a path through the perilous Northern Valley to defeat minions, monsters, overlords and the legendary Harbinger to become a true Monster Slayer.

Key Features include:

  • Strategically shape your deck as you acquire new cards from merchants, treasure chests, and allies
  • Collect fame from each run to unlock new abilities that can be used by future heroes
  • Every playthrough is different: levels, enemy encounters and loot are randomly generated
  • 12 different character classes: Rogue, Ranger, Knight, Barbarian, Cleric, Wizard, Assassin, Beastmaster, Apothecary, Brute, Monk, and Necromancer
  • Recruit companions to join you on your quest and make use of their special abilities
  • Equip your hero with stat-boosting loot to improve the chances of victory
  • Beat the game to unlock the ultimate challenge: Legendary Mode
  • Inspired by the much-loved deck-building RPG, Dream Quest, created by Peter Whalen (Hearthstone)

Sir Eatsalot finally chows down on a gameplay trailer

Having teased us for months with art and animated GIFs, Behind the Stone has finally got round to unveiling a proper trailer for the Portly Knight's game. Sir Eats' finds himself in all sorts of predicaments, showing a game that won't take itself too seriously. The food-frenzy adventure is out next month, physical and digital, with an Asian release just confirmed.

Sign up for details on the limited-to-2000-units physical edition here thanks to PlayAsia.

Japan shows off a little Remote Play love

Maybe this is why Vita sales keep perking up in Japan? Is Sony finally realising that the Vita can help keep PS4 owners onside when it comes to the onslaught of Switch? Check out this Fist of the North Star Remote Play demo.

Sure, just one video won't make much of an impact, but if there's a constant stream of them, reminding Japan that it works, and is still in the stores, every little could help.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Vita sales still over 5K in Japan last week

Vita sales dip a little in Japan, down to 5,467 according to the latest Media Create data. But are still batting well above recent norms and averages. Again, there are no games in the chart so no real idea why this is happening. Still, its good news as Sony will have to continue to make the console a little longer to meet demand, and developers will churn out more games.

Last week's figures

Epic new Attack on Titan 2 trailer

Sure, the game is not coming west on Vita, not even digital-only. But Attack on Titan 2 will be an easy import for people who played the first one. Here's the latest trailer from Japan as it hits the shelves, out in the west on everything but Vita next week.

Check out the latest Vita version gameplay here.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bullet hell Vasara a possibility for Vita

2019 seems a mighty long way away, but Brazilian developer and publisher QuByte is hinting that the pair of Vasara shooters (2000-era Raiden goes bullet hell with manga overtones) might come to the Vita. And, it'd be great to have another game that takes advantage of the Vita in portrait mode.

Already confirmed for Switch and other consoles, it'd be a good pair to have, even if I'm probably crap at them, although I'd be more than happy with direct ports of proper Raiden or Gunbird. Anyway, will stick it on the list of possibility for now until we hear some firmer news.

Get your rogue on with Bit Dungeon Plus

Another Indie Studios Bit Dungeon Plus is a to-the-gills version of the original PC with monsters galore in a roguelike pixel world. You'll throw melee and magic attacks against the many enemies, with loads of weapons to collect and the essential grind to help you survive the later levels. The game has been on every platform ever, so should fit well on the Vita.

Loot your Vita in the Devious Dungeon

If these pixels look a little familiar, its because Devious Dungeon is from Woblyware, the same people behind Omega Strike in the previous article. Publishing via Ratalaika, Devious Dungeon is a medieval focused action platformer. Release date to be announced soon.

As a generic knightly hero, you must venture deep within the dungeons eliminating the monsters, collecting loot, and leveling up and upgrade your gear. Features include 65 randomised levels over five worlds, RPG-style upgrades, boss battles and more.

Omega Strike takes aim at the Vita

Steam release Omega Strike from Woblyware is headed to the Vita, judging by a recent trophy listing.  In true eighties-retro style, our bandana-wearing hero and his friends are out to defeat Doctor Omega and his mutant armies.

Omega Strike is a pixel-fest of an action-adventure game with multiple playable characters, set across an interconnected world, loaded with monstrous enemies and hidden treasures, plus new abilities for your heroes. Each character has unique abilities which you must utilize to overcome the deadly traps and enemies that roam the world of Omega Strike.

Attack on Titan 2's Annihilation mode on Vita

Out in Japan this week, check out Attack on Titan 2's multiplayer modes including Annihilation mode, as played by a couple of the voice actresses. The game supports 4 vs 4 players who can rack up scores for their team by taking down the big chaps. Good to see Tecmo happy to show off the Vita version!

Friday, March 9, 2018

A good look at Super Robot Wars X gameplay

Enjoy nearly 15 minutes of gameplay of Super Robot Wars X just put up by Bandai in Japan. That's if you ignore a couple of minutes of chit-chat at the start - hope there's a Skip button! Beyond that, there's a good look at the tactical map, set up screens and the combat action between the quirky bots and mech-type tanks.

UPDATED: Added a newer Asian English video with 10 minutes of gameplay and subtitles to go alongside the Japanese original.

NeuroVoider is one for the fans

With miniscule to modest sales, the developers still turning up to bat for the Vita are mostly doing it for the love of the handheld and the community. Remember that when it comes to your buying decisions.

The latest labour-of-love from Flying Oak is NeuroVoider, the twin-stick RPG, it looks like a must-buy and the developers have little reason other than passion to bring it our way! We should get news of a release date next week.

UPDATE: Release date confirmed for 14 March! Price, £6.99

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Retro classic Bounder to bounce on the Vita

In the eight-bit days, pretty much anything could be a hero, which is why we got Bounder, a game all about a tennis ball, trying to boing its way to freedom. The top-down game, from Gremlin Graphics if memory serves, was pretty unique for the time.

The 8-bit original versions will soon land on mobile, and now the developer has gained the rights for console versions, with the Vita a target offering a new up-to-date edition plus the originals.

Naturally, this sends most older gamers scurrying back to other games we'd love to see including Wizball, Uridium, Fred, California Games, SpinDizzy and so on. Many have been remade on PC, but it would be great to get some of these on the Vita's OLED!

Vita sales shoot up in Japan

Not sure why yet, but the Vita sold over 6,500 units last week in Japan, beating sales of the PS4 Pro and the 2DS LL! There were no new Vita games in the Media Create chart, so perhaps there was a sale on to generate those extra 1,500 units over the previous week. Or, maybe lots of PS4 owners want to remote play Monster Hunter World, which has sold 7 million copies WW and 2 million in Japan!

Enjoy the good news as it lasts, with the Switch and PS4 romping ahead. Dragon Quest Builders arrived on Switch at No. 2 selling 28,400 copies compared to Vita's launch sales of 178,016 back in 2016.

Or, perhaps lots of gamers are getting ready for Four Knight Princess Training Story (NIS) out this week or Attack on Titan 2, out next week. Seems unlikely, given that AoT2 looks way better on every other device and FKPTS is also on Switch, but you never know!

Last week's figures

Review Midnight Deluxe

I'm naturally suspicious of a game that gives you a silver and gold trophy just for your very first move! And to grab a platinum in under an hour, that smacks of someone trying to sell their game as an easy set of achievements.

Ignoring that, Midnight Deluxe, a sort-of-successor to 36 Fragments of Midnight, is an illuminated game of touchscreen golf, trying to flick your glowing cube (actually a fairy|) into a target hole. Your shots must overcome natural landscape obstacles, pointy fences, whirring saws, smiling fluffy monsters and lasers - the usual golf course hazards.

With no story, plot or cutscenes, you play Over 70 levels, each a single screen, aiming to finish in the least amount of shots possible. That's tricky as the touchscreen controls lack the sensitivity required to play well. You can do full power or little chip shots easily, but anything mid-range is in the lap of the gods. On some levels, you need to take repeated shots quickly to avoid rising spikes or moving objects where the game becomes pure pot luck.

The challenge does ramp after the 40th level, when you get the platinum! Diving through laser grids and multiple switches add to the challenge, but progress does feel more like luck than skill. Even so, Midnight Deluxe is deeply lacking in ambition,

Petite Games have failed to provide any secrets to find, no variation in colour scheme, no bonuses, no nothing! Sure, its cheap, and a spot of exclusive fun for Vita and Switch owners, but not even a level designer? What exactly is Deluxe here? Okay, the game is a package of a couple of older PC games, with some extra levels tacked on, but it still feels mighty empty.

Score 5/10
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Price £3.99/$4.99
Size: 97MB
Publisher: Ratalaika
Developer: Petite
Progress: Finished

Monday, March 5, 2018

Gintama Rumble DLC pack unmasked

Still playing your import Gintama Rumble? Bandai has some fun DLC on the way with a host of paid-for assist characters to play as in that certain musou style. Check out some Vita gameplay from the January launch and remember the Asian version has English subs if you want to get a copy!

Japanese Attack on Titan 2 TV spot

Pretty sure there's an asterisk in there somewhere, with "PS Vita version looks  nothing like this!" Even so, the Attack on Titan sequel from Koei Tecmo is out next week in Japan, and should shift a few copies on Vita. Especially exports, as the game won't get a western Vita release. There's some Vita gameplay from a January post, if you can stand the pain of pop-up it doesn't look too bad.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Rice Digital offering a Muv-Luv complete set

If you love your Muv-Luv then this collector's edition from Rice Digital is for you. Muv-Luv contains both the ‘Extra' and ‘Unlimited' storylines, while Muv-Luv Alternative completes the trilogy. The CE features:

  • Muv-Luv & Muv-Luv Alternative for PlayStation Vita (PEGI-rated UK/EU versions or ESRB-rated US versions)
  • A premium Muv-Love collector's slipcase to store both games
  • 6 x Muv-Luv art cards