Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Idol Death Game TV's ladies strut their stuff

Releasing in October, Idol Death Game TV from D3 has come from pretty much out of nowhere to looking like another addition to the Vita's quirky roster of fine exclusives. Still not much of a hint as to the death aspect in this long, chatty trailer, but being D-rated in Japan (17 and over) its probably going to be pretty kinky, gory or both.

After a long break, Vita gets a Japanese No. 1

It has been quite a while since a Vita game sat atop the Japanese chart, Gundam Breaker 3 in March fact fans. And, after a lot of self-hype from Aqua Plus, I was expecting a few more than 47K sales for Utawarerumono, the tactical RPG crammed into a visual novel.

Still, it managed to outsell the PS4 edition and depose Persona 5 from the top of the Media Create chart. The sequel has already done better than the original managed in an entire year, according to the publisher, so expect more from the series in 2017.

Minecraft is the only other Vita game in town, stoically marching on to 900,000 boxed sales. Demon Gaze 2 is out this Thursday in Japan, so should also make a decent entry next week.

Then, things go quiet until the middle of October when launches get pretty mental on the JP release list, culminating in World of Final Fantasy, SAO Hollow Realization, Neo Atlas 1469 and Berserk on 27 October.

A shame Sony couldn't get the new colour Vita models on sale in time to benefit!

01./00. [PSV] Utawarerumono: Futari no Hakuoro (Aqua Plus) - 47.363 / NEW
02./01. [PS4] Persona 5 (Atlus) - 45.178 / 309.971 (-83%)
03./00. [PS4] Utawarerumono: Futari no Hakuoro (Aqua Plus) - 38.507 / NEW
12./12. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition (Sony) - 5.959 / 880.325 

Even that release can't boost Vita hardware numbers, dropping just below the 10K line of stability. Don't expect much to change until the end of October

5pb's Vita line up of awesomeness

Even if you don't understand Japanese, take a look at the 5pb site and browse through all those upcoming visual novels with a Vita tag on them. Sure, they're not all Steins Gate quality and not all will come west, but even knowing they exist should warm the hearts of most Vita owners.

Up next is Plastic Memories, while Anonymous Code looks pretty special, and has plenty of English on the portal site to help us get into it. Chaos Child is also coming next year, and that's just the tip of a chunky iceberg of visual novel fun.

Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls Opening Movie

Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls hits the Vita and PSTV next month, digitally and in stores, October 18 for NA and Europe on the 21st! The difference is important for once, as the US version has a regionally correct orange Dreamcast while Europe gets the more subtle blue colour.

In the RPG adventure, Neptune finds herself transformed into a motorcycle and now IF, must take main stage! With the help of the Sega Hard Girls, IF must jump, dash, climb, and crawl her way to recover the lost history of the Grand Library.

Key features include:

  • A history of Sega with Hatsumi, Dream Cast, Saturn, Game Gear, Mega Drive! Familiar faces Neptune, IF, Nepgear, Plutia, and Uzume return as playable characters!
  • Be Anything You Want! Change classes to switch up stats to customize your team! There are also special skills only specific classes can use!
  • IF is hown stuntman! Maneuver through treacherous dungeon terrains with various actions like jump, dash, climb, crawl, to reach items or special rewards, and even destroy objects to clear the path ahead!
  • Fever Time! Jump to obtain the rainbow gem and unleash Fever Time! This reduces enemy turns during battle, enables HDD form, and raises stats by 10% to give you the advantage!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Marvel's female heroes get their own Zen Pinball tables

I have no idea how many sites will write about Black Widow playing with your balls, but it is the obvious line when Zen produces a two-table pack dedicated to Marvel's super heroines. That includes Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl and Spider-Gwen, each with their own story and set of missions hidden among the ramps and bumpers.

The pack is out this week, for PS Vita, PS4 and everything else that supports Zen Pinball, and should provide a fresh dose of slick hero worship at the altar of the silver globe.

Supermagical and Stranded near Vita launch

Tama Games is a small but dedicated Spanish publisher with a string of cool games behind it (okay, maybe not Fart vs. Zombies). However, Stranded, Odyssey on the Red Planet and the bubble popping SuperMagical, updates to popular mobile titles, are currently with Sony for QA testing, suggesting imminent launches.
SuperMagical from Super Mega Team borrows from the awesome Bust A Move games, but should still be an awesome fun puzzle and adventure game, where you’ll visit tons of magical places, meet cool characters, and cook amazing spells.

Stranded sees your spacecraft crash on the surface of Mars, with all your equipment lost. With a spacesuit and a limited amount of oxygen, your only hope of escape is to reach the rescue module before the air supply runs out!
They may not be among the awesome big name and high-end indies hitting the Vita this time of year, Still, spare a thought and some cash for them, and we may get more games like the upcoming Escape from the Pyramid heading our way. More details on the Tama website.

A quick play of the Dragon Quest Builders demo

Popping up like an autumn squirrel out of the leaves comes the demo for Dragon Quest Builders, now out on EU PSN, UPDATE: with the US version now also live. Square Enix's monster seller in Japan should easily generate a lot of love in the west, but how does it play?

The demo offers an hour or so play, with the first few quests showing DQB as being easy-to-love, a Minecraft-lite with a gentle story to follow and a suitably sedate pace of events and action. You can mildly customise and name your character, and choose to play as a boy or girl, before setting them off into a world lost to time, with people stumbling around like passive zombies.

They, Pippa and Rollo are the first people you meet, need a hero, a leader, and above all a builder, and possibly a plumber. Enter you with your noddy hat! You can soon start turning mud into walls, sticks into doors and beds, before crafting basic essentials like weapons and tools. You know the drill (if only you had one), but this time you need to help the people out rather than going and crafting your own luxury pad, recreating the pyramids or building a fleet of steel tanks.

This focuses the game neatly and gives a greater sense of purpose, which some, I guess younger gamers will love, while Minecraft die-hards will probably turn their diamond-armoured nose up at.

In design, DQB is totally Minecraft, from the crafting benches to chests, and the way you gather and create. However, the mission structure and (in the demo, anyway) tight limits on resource types make it a lot more focused, but it retains the relaxed atmosphere of Creative mode and while there's sure to be big battles along the way, there's none of this in the early going.

Once the demo ends, you can still carry on exploring the four corners of your island, which has some surprises, and go fine tuning your little village. The full game is out in a couple of weeks, digital only on the Vita in Europe.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Criminal Girls 2 is a UK No. 1 at retail

The UK retail chart of non-specific sales continues to provide a chuckle as NIS America's Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors storms to No. 1. They could at least have given it a UK spelling, how many do we reckon it sold, 100 physical units?

Last week's No. 1 Psycho Pass is on the express elevator to hell, down to No. 10 while God Eater 2 continues to show more legs than the Criminal Girls sticking around the top five after a month on sale.

FIFA 15 reenters at No. 17 and Lego games are surging up, suggesting people are stocking up for kids' Christmas presents, anyone know if EA bothered to update the FIFA roster?

1. Criminal Girls 2 NIS America
2. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens Warner
3. Minecraft PS Vita Edition Mojang
4. God Eater 2: Rage Burst Bandai
5. Lego Marvel Avengers Warner

Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (C)2016 UKIE Ltd

Over on Amazon UK's top seller list, Need for Speed at under £10 is currently top for Vita games, with pre-orders for World of Final Fantasy at No. 2 and FIFA 15 shooting up the wing at No. 3. Criminal Girls is down at 37, suggesting a very short sentence in the chart.

Out this week at retail are physical copies of the excellent Lumo, while after a few weeks' delay Valkyrie Drive finally revs up, courtesy of PQube!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Root Letter gets a pen pal edition

How to make visual novels interesting? When its about letters, how about a writing set? This mighty leap of logic from Rice Digital, actually makes it an interesting proposition. You can get the US version or the EU version (£60).

The collection looks pretty smart in a neat box, and includes either the PS4 or Vita version. Someone should point out to the big publishers that this is how limited editions work! It also comes with a CD, very stylish if unassuming print and art book,

UPDATE: If that's a bit much for you, then there's a plainer Limited Edition for £39.99 with the game, art book and box. That's available from Game in the UK and VideoGamesPlus in North America for C$49.99.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Square's Collective may offer a Vita version for Legend of Lumina

Looking not too dissimilar to Square's own Dragon Quest Builders, Legend of Lumina from Apex Frontier is all about farming, monster raising and adventuring. The game is up for your vote on Square's Collective Page.

Vote for a Vita version and it could come our way, one day. The game is in the early stages of development, and built in Unity, but looks like it would fit well on Sony's portable, so sign up and give it some love.

Of the other new additions to the Collective list, A Dragon Named Coal has a 3DS option, so you may want to politely encourage the developers in the direction of a Vita edition for the smart looking 2D Castlevania type game.

Oceanhorn confirmed for PS Vita

FDG Games has the joyous news that Vita owners will be getting a port of its charming RPG Oceanhorn, developed by Cornfox & Bros. That's after a poll saw almost 4,500 show an interest in the game. I played Oceanhorn on an iPad a couple of years ago and it is a thing of beauty. They are talking to Limited Run about a physical release, which would be extra awesome.

While there's no time frame for Oceanhorn: Monsters of Uncharted Seas, you can grab a Vita theme here. Hopefully this level of interest will nudge FDG to bring Monster Boy from Game Atelier over too.

Interestingly, Oceanhorn 2 was announced as in development last month, so if the first game does well, hopefully the sequel, which is going full 3D, could just make its way to Vita a little faster.

Review: Claire Extended Cut

The Vita's run of PC indie ports continues with Claire, a 2014 Steam release from Hailstorm that provides yet another dose of highly-effective 2D survival terror. First thing to note: Claire has been extensively patched since launch to fix some bugs with saving and maps, resolving some panic issues and so on. If the game annoyed you on day one, try it again!

The Extended Cut version is far more than just a straight port with a move to a 2.5D engine in Unity that offers dynamic lighting, but the basic gameplay remains the same. Claire is a nightmare plagued girl, consigned to St. Barbara's hospital to look after her mother. It starts with a younger Claire dreaming (or is she?) about her home turning into a scene from Poltergeist. When the dreams start becoming reality, Claire has to navigate the halls and find a way out with a dark terror lurking in the shadows.

Out there, somewhere, there are people to find, some to rescue, light sources to find to keep the dark at bay and nameless terrors to avoid. This is no gung-ho game where our teenage protagonist suddenly becomes a first class ninja or gun mistress. Instead, running and hiding is usually the only option. To that end, Claire nips in and out of doors, using the map to find a safe cupboard to hide in or to aid exploration.

The Map To Claire's Heart

Actually the map screen is probably open more than in any game I can recall, as she moves between areas through passages, and you desperately try to find the right door. Exploring can get complex and navigating around a locked or barred area becomes pretty frustrating. To help out, items to be picked up sparkle slightly, but there's still plenty of nooks and crannies to dig for them.

Lock picks will help advance your progress, but which door do you use them on? Batteries will help power the torch, once you find it and so on. But there are still lots of questions at every turn, where did all the candles come from? Why are all the clocks stuck at 3:33? Is that a demon or just some flickering rubbish? Why can this healthy looking girl only jog about 5 steps?

There are lots of doors, behind, in front and to the side of many rooms in the hospital, which can confuse, especially as Claire has limiting sprinting capacity, a need for energy and, as with any person in a nightmarish hospital, can easily become panicked. There are a range of different endings to her story, so while the game might only be six to eight hours long, there's plenty to seek out among its dark passages.

The hospital is broken up into wings, and there's also a school where something equally grim is going on, but your main aim is to complete the objectives, as listed in your journal. With such limited visual information, sound plays a huge part in the game and there's all sorts of peculiar effects playing around the stereo space behind a haunting ambient audio track (tune is definitely not the right word).

Claire isn't quite as dramatic as the ambiance makes it out to be, basically a simple explore and puzzle game, but the story is worth sticking with, and this is a perfect handheld game for short doses of heart-fluttering scares.

Score: 7/10
More reviews
Price: £13.99, $14.99 (PSN)
Developer: Hailstorm
Progress: Let me out the closet!

Macross Delta Scramble TV spot and gameplay

Shout and cheer and they will come buying appears to be the theme of this advert with a few clips of gameplay and the voluble characters that feature in a long awaited Vita outing for the Macross series. If you want a better look at the action, jump into this video about 27 minutes and there's plenty of gameplay.

This game looks pretty sharp for a Vita exclusive with am impressive city backdrop, lots of detail in the mechs and multiplayer.

Feel happy with the Atelier Firis intro video

Missed this yesterday, an intro video for the chirpy, happy world of Atelier Firis, which I'd hope comes west after the good response to Atelier Sophie, was my first foray into this series. Certainly the gameplay videos for Firis look a step up for the series, on the PS4 at least, hopefully the Vita version will have a little extra polish to it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Get catty with Nights of Azure 2

Tecmo is keeping the gameplay of Nights of Azure 2 well hidden, but there's a cat! Which is about the highlight of this art heavy intro Rusewall Island and its characters. The PS4 game did head west, but I'm not so sure this will leave Japan, although plenty of Gust's other work has.