Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Microsoft plans a (badly) portable Xbox gaming experience

Microsoft could release a brilliant remote play device like the Vita, to augment the mighty Xbox One X machine and generate more interest to drive sales. But, no, instead Microsoft Research is planning something like these shitbricks so people can play on their Xbox titles via xCloud (or whatever they end up calling it) on their phones.

While only dummies, they look horrendous and, even refined, you can bet the final product will be premium priced. Microsoft would struggle to sell anything that looks like a hippos arse and the whole solution looks like the usual bad idea.

As the Vita shuffles quietly off to the technology retirement home, it proves that only Sony really got the portable gamer design right. Switch feels clumsy and cheap. Despite the muscle behind those iPhone games, there's no obvious mobile controller choice that's really comfortable, and here we have yet more crude abuse from Microsoft to solve what should be a simple problem.

The real solution, of course, is for someone to build something like the Vita with brutal WiFi, good battery and 4G/5G for remote gaming. But make it platform agnostic so PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo games could be played anywhere.

LCD screen prices are a fraction of what they once were, and system on chips reduce the unit price further. While this dream machine might not be an OLED nuclear reactor of a system, even a modest device could bring most of the world's games under one portable screen.

Monday, October 29, 2018

More lingerie fun in the latest Japanese Catherine trailer

A lady showing thigh? Holy cow, stop the press. Not sure why Atlus Japan is flinging this tepid smut in the guise of an adult drama theatre at Japanese gamers to pimp Catherine Fully Body. Surely, Catherine will sell on its merits as a class game, not by a few more touchy-feely cut scenes. Oh, hang on...

UPDATED: And another clip... the many loves of many K/C/Qatherines

Anyway, more to come, except in the west where Atlus is too busy flogging the digital delights of the new Persona Dancing games. Odd that the company has a placeholder for the miles-away 13 Sentinels, but nothing for Catherine and the placeholder site still refuses to mention formats.

PlayStation Classic lineup revealed, most playable now on Vita

Update: The PlayStation Classic is out now, and will likely sell out quickly, snapped up by nostalgic fools and resellers. But for those who can't find one, seriously, a cheap second hand Vita can provide many more PS1, PSP, PS2 and PS3 era games plus a massive roster of Vita classics, mostly available at budget prices!

Original story: 

Sony has published a final list of the 20 games (and only these, no expansion or store to download more) that will populate the £90 PlayStation Classic Mini Console, launching early December. We have something for everyone in the list, bold titles you can play on Vita/PS3 right now (EU store anyway), most for just a few £/$:

Rayman, Grand Theft Auto, Toshinden, Ridge Racer 4, Mr Driller, Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal, Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey, Syphon Filter, Tekken 3, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Wild Arms, Cool Boarders 2, Final Fantasy VII. Jumping Flash, Destruction Derby, Revelations Persona (as PSP title Shin Megami Tensei), Resident Evil: Director's Cut, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Intelligent Qube (available on Vita as Kurushi Final).

To make things worse, the bundle uses PAL (50Hz vs the NTSC 60Hz refresh rate) versions for almost half the games, making for a chuggier experience for American gamers used to nippier fare.

The console clearly isn't aimed at modern PS gamers, instead its for those who gave up gaming a long time ago, or collectors. Revelations Persona is perhaps the most interesting addition, as the starting point of the PSP and Vita's most talked-about series.

Anyone interested? I still think these games (except for Rayman and Mr Driller) on a HD screen will look pretty scary, while on a portable, the condensed viewing area provides a better viewing experience. And as Sony is promoting in the dumbest way possible "the new console is approximately 45% smaller than the original." - like anyone cares?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Battle Princess Madelyn seeks autumn launch

Throwing in a little animated intro and some fresh gameplay, check out Casual Bit's latest trailer for Battle Princess Madelyn. It mentions an autumn release, and there isn't that much of autumn to go, so here's hoping for more great Ghosts n Goblins style platforming fun soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut chopping up the Vita

Cubist horror fans are in for a treat with Slayaway Camp, a debut from Blue Wizard Digital, arriving early November, a couple of years on from its Steam original release. A killer isometric puzzle game, players control Skullface, a cute-yet-psychotic slasher. He rampages around each level, squashing, flaying, and decapitating hapless victims.

The recent trophy listing helped prepare us for this fresh horror, but as you can tell by the trailer, Slayaway Camp is a darkly comic homage to 80s horror movies. Vita owners get a special console-only Butcher’s Cut edition, the biggest and bloodiest version. The game has a 9/10 rating on Steam, and comes hot on the heels of pixel-chiller Halloween Forever. Features include:

  • Base game and the following additional content: Deluxe Edition, My Gory Valentine, HellCamp, Monthly Murderers Series 1 & 2, Supernatural Forces, and Santa’s Slay 
  • 300+ Fiendish puzzle levels to massacre your way through
  • 60+ Killers to cause comical carnage with, including deranged wackos such as Mutant Hillbilly, Kevin, and the killer inter-dimensional clown: THAT
  • 90+ Gorepacks with delightfully OTT kill scenes to shock and entertain
  • Feeling squeamish? Choose PG Mode and play without blood or gore
  • Starring Mark Meer (Cdr. Shepard from Mass Effect) as Skullface and Derek Mears (Jason from Friday the 13th) as Jessica
  • Genuine hair-metal soundtrack by legendary Canadian group GNÜ TRUNTION
  • Created by Jason Kapalka (Peggle, Bejewelled), Nate Schmold & Jessi Ross (Cosmochoria) and Ido Yehieli (Cardinal Quest)
  • Slayaway Camp was selected as an overall winner at the annual Google Play Indie Games Festival

Vita still bobbling along in Japan

As we approach the holiday season in Japan, Vita sales continue to bumble along between 2,250 and 2,500. I doubt there will be anything like the spikes of previous years in December, as Japan gulps down Switch units at 40,000 a week, but any little boost will be welcome.

Again, no Vita games in the Media Create top 20 chart. A couple of weeks back, historical visual novel Sengoku Hime 7, a series that's been running since the PSP days, managed to sneak into the top 30, but there aren't any serious Vita releases until the next Atelier just before Christmas.

kFunction lighting up Vita OLEDs with Scintillatron 4096

Just when you thought Vita release news had dried up forever, along comes Dorset-based developer kFunction with its particle-tastic shooter Scintillatron 4096. An intense combo challenge with online leaderboards and trophies to tempt you to master the fast-paced arcade shoot ‘em up action!

These shots are from the 4K PS4 Pro version, but hopefully the Vita edition will bring some of this magic to OLED screens in December.

UPDATE: Release date set for the 18th

In Scintillatron 4096, players take on hundreds of enemies in frantic showdowns whilst also making tactical choices about the colour-based combo system. Combinable power ups can either help or hinder game play and topping the global rankings is the aim of the game.

Features include:

  • Combos - This is what it’s all about! High scores need combos. Enemies are one of two colours. Take them out in sequence and aim for a perfect wave. Learn what to attack first, how to ‘herd’ the enemies and how to use the colour-flip-power-up to maximise your combo score.
  • Hi-Score and world rankings - Just like it used to be, your hi score is everything. Scintillatron 4096 has local and worldwide rankings for score, deepest wave and highest combo. The scores are separately tracked for one and two player games.
  • Single player -  Alternatively, play on your own with dedicated high score tables, rankings and achievements.
  • Challenge - We mean it when we say the game is easy to play but difficult to master. Progress a little, build some combos and you’ll find packed, intense levels with audio and visuals to match.

If you can't wait or want to get warmed up, give Son of Scoregasm or Geometry Wars 3 a go.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Meet the boss in Shakedown Hawaii

Vblank has a fun write-up of the CEO character in Shakedown Hawaii, with the game now scheduled for a release early next year. Just one snippet... Shakedown: Hawaii includes a full Story Mode (including side quests), Arcade Challenges for fast paced pick-up-and-play action, and Free Roam Mode for when you just want to dive into the world and play.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New pair of Persona Dancing... trailers

The Persona disco craze continues with new trailers for Dancing in Moonlight and Dancing in Starlight as we meet new characters and their moves. The games land on 4th December, so now should be the perfect time to explore Persona 4: Dancing All Night again, or for the first time, to set your fingers tapping!

Halloween Forever scares up a trailer

Ahh, its the fake fear time of year. And Poppy Works has a new trailer for Halloween Forever showing off the SNES-style platform adventure from Peter Lazarski with a pip-spewing pumpkinhead trying to survive in what looks the unfriendly world of the undead.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Death Mark western trailer begs you to pick up the phone

While the horror is palpable in any language, the game makes a bit more sense with English subtitles. So, thank Aksys Games Localization for this anglicized trailer of Death Mark, with all the fun hinted at by the ESRB rating!

Remember the limited edition when considering buying the horror fest, when the game releases at the end of the month. Oh, and don't pick up the phone!

Vita sales tick up in Japan

After the news that the Vita will be discontinued next year, sales in Japan have perked up to 2,600 over the last couple of weeks, according to Media Create. But no big jump, most likely as gamers are picking up second hand units as spares. On the plus side, it is outselling the PS4 Pro and the 3DS LL.

No Vita games in the chart, where Super Mario Party fluffs its lines, selling just over 100K. Not much on the schedule bar visual novels and low-end JRPGs until December to give things a boost.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Snogging alert in latest Catherine Fully Body clip

Lap it up westerners since we don't appear to getting Catherine over here. Enjoy another break-in-the-action clip of sweet nothings as Japan prepares to get its hands on the ultimate version of this action puzzler. Still four months to go for the JP release, and maybe if we keep politely hammering away at Atlus USA, they might do the right thing and the help the Vita go out with a bang.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

EastAsiaSoft fires a Fast Striker our way

Bullet Hell definitely looks like the appropriate description for Fast Striker, a  classic shmup from Germany's NG Dev Team. Originally released as a modern Neo Geo and Dreamcast title, it packs in massive ships, a driving soundtrack and tight, tactical space battles.

The game is out in mid-October and will get a physical release, limited to just 2,200 copies on Vita. Some Vita physicals are digging near the bottom of the barrel, but this looks like a great title to own.

Features include:
  • 6 Stages, including huge boss battles
  • 4 Game modes: Novice, Original, Maniac & Omake
  • Elaborate scoring system
  • Adjustable screen & control settings
  • Constant 60 fps

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I Am the Hero hits the Vita soon

We might rip into Ratalaika for dropping games with easy platinums, but the Vita's most active port specialists do the hard yards when required. Take I Am the Hero, a beat 'em up from CrazyAnt that has stretched the Vita's ageing hardware and required some serious optimisation to get it running.

Update:the game hits PSN next week on 28th November.

With reflective surfaces, a mix of polys and pixels and lots of animation and effects going on, hopefully it will remain fluid and fun. The original is only a year old from Steam too, so far from a quick mobile port. Release is promised before Christmas, so bring it on!

Games for new Vita owners

We're into 2019 and at the end of its time, the Vita isn't going quietly into the night. New buyers are popping up all over the place and the first question on their minds is, what games should I get?

I had written a few lists over the course of this blog, from the heady days of 2012 and 2015.

However, based on a recent tweet fest, here's a list the community has come up with that covers pretty much all tastes and bases, broken down into hopefully useful categories to help new players out. If you want more detail on a game, they might be on the review list.

Feel free to comment with any you think are missing! And, remember, there's still a decent roster of new games to come, see the release list.

Vita Exclusives (originally) 
Persona 4 Golden
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Killzone Mercenary
Gravity Rush
Assassin's Creed Liberation

Monster Hunting
Freedom Wars 
Soul Sacrifice
God Eater Resurrection/God Eater 2 Rage Burst
Toukiden I/II

Digimon World: Cyber Sleuth
Demon Gaze
Rainbow Skies
Cosmic Star Heroine
World of Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy X/X2
Dungeon Travelers 2
Darkest Dungeon
Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus
Atelier Sophie
Ys: Memories of Celceta
Mary Skelter: Nightmares
Trails of Cold Steel
Conception II: CotSS
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed (not Akiba's Beat, which is terrible)
Punch Line
Yomawari Night Alone
Yomawari Midnight Shadow

Visual Novels
Steins Gate
Steins Gate 0
Hakuoki Edo Blossoms
Hakuoki Kyoto Winds
Amnesia Memories
Muv Luv
Period Cube
Root Letter
Death Mark
Zero Time Dilemma
Collar x Malice
Code:Realize Guardian of Rebirth
Code: Realize Future Blessings

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Virtua Tennis World Tour (physical only)
Olli Olli (1 and 2)
NFL 13 (physical only)
MLB 14 (physical only)
FIFA Football (physical only)

Ridge Racer
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
WipEout 2048

Borderlands 2
Riddled Corpses DX
Rogue Aces
Velocity 2X
Xenon Valkyrie
Son of Scoregasm
Neon Chrome
Risk of Rain
Soldner 2X
Aqua Kitty DX
Geometry Wars 3
Neuro Voider

Arcana Heart 3
Blazblue: Continuum Shift or BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma
Street Fighter x Tekken
Mortal Kombat
Marvel vs Capcom 3


Dragon's Crown, Shantae
Sir Eatsalot, Reverie
Stealth Inc., Undertale
Lumo, Slain
Axiom Verge, Sound Shapes
Odin Sphere, Rayman Legends
Iconoclasts, Shovel Knight
Chasm, Spelunky
Steamworld Dig, Steamworld Dig 2
Salt and Sanctuary, Lara Croft Go
Hitman Go, Run Sackboy, Run!

Strategy Games

Desert Ashes, Meco Wars: Desert Ashes,
Disgaea 3: Afternoon of Darkness, Natural Doctrine,
XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Space Hulk,
Hyperdevotion Noire, Deception IV: Blood Ties,
Civilization Revolution 2+
PSP Games Worth Playing On Vita: (PSN region choice may vary)

The Vita's predecessors, the PlayStation Portable, sold 80 million units making it a huge success and attracting many console gaming staples to the portable scene, while inventing some new legends. You can still try most of them today.

Persona 3, Gran Turismo, Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories,
Loco Roco, Patapon 1,2,3, Resistance Retribution
God of War: Chains of Olympus, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Tekken 6
Ace Combat, Dissidia Final Fantasy, Patchwork Heroes
Half Second Heroes, Ridge Racer, The Third Birthday
Black Rock Shooter, Armored Core 3 Portable, Army of Two PSP,
Class of Heroes, Dead or Alive Paradise, Growlanser, Gungnir,
Harvest Moon, MediEvil Resurrection

PlayStation One titles: (PSN region choice may vary)

Crash Tag Team Racing, Metal Gear Solid, Rayman, Resident Evil 1,2,3,
Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, Vagrant Story, Ridge Racer Type 4, Spyro Series,
Crash Bandicoot 3,  Chrono Trigger, Wild Arms, Alundra, Castlevania Symphony of the Night,

Review Jack N' Jill DX

Jack N' Jill DX is a fun mobile jump-along game where you tap X to leap Jack across perilous levels so he can be reunited with his beloved Jill. A simple retro-style Game Boy title, there are 140 levels to cross. At least Jill gets a go in the later levels.

Bumping into the scenery will send Jack in the other direction. Avoid falling into pits and bumping into spikes, and you can generally get to the end okay. As the levels progress jump boosters are added and other things to avoid.

Each level is short enough that if you make a mistake you don't lose too much time or the will to live. Further into the world, nasties start to appear that can be avoided or bounced on. Power-ups can help you out, in the form of speed-ups, invulnerability and so on.

Later levels stack up the tricks and complexity of the platforms to create some tough challenges, but being Ratalaika, you can still get the platinum within an hour, and without getting into the meat of the game.

Unlock enough levels or collect enough coins and you get to play a set of mini-games, and can buy some treats for your little friends. Are they ghosts or decapitated thumbs? They look rather like Pac Man's ghosts, be a shame if they are already dead. And with no real story being revealed along the way, it doesn't really matter.

With jolly tunes and pleasingly simple level backgrounds, this is simple fare, where the toughest parts of a level just require a slightly earlier or later leap, or perhaps a different bounce pattern. Low-cost fun, there's some challenge, but this would be so much better if it took the Super Life of Pixel approach and tweaked the art style for each world to add some variety.

Score: 5/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Rohan Narang/Ratalaika
File size 94MB
Progress: Platinum

Monday, October 1, 2018

Battle Rockets trailer lights up the Vita

I can only see the tweet version for now, but will update to a higher quality version later if one pops up. That aside, welcome Battle Rockets from Gumbo Machine coming to the Vita in 2019.

A quick-draw shooter where one or two players or more must battle it out for victory, it might look simple, but I'm betting there's bags of challenge among the eight single player campaigns and that fast-paced multiplayer.