Friday, April 29, 2016

Results season from Japan shows up some fun figures

So, the PS4 sold 40 million, big whoop! Sony's number fest now focuses solely on the big boy console, with the Vita barely mentioned. However, PSN sales are now growing fast and I'd like to think the Vita is chipping in, given the higher cost of most PSN games and the usual small premium, even on modest indie titles.

Follow ZhugeEX on Twitter for all the graphs and details, but out of Tecmo's recent news comes some decent Asian sales figures, across all versions.
With two of those coming west, those numbers should rise pretty smartly later in the year. I wonder how many DoA sales were from frustrated importers? Will update as more numbers come in from the various publishers. 

Compile Heart's 2016 roster featuring Mary Skelter

Mary Skelter is the Vita star of Compile Heart's 2016 line up (around the 1:30 mark) with a sneaky look at the new Neptunia game, Cyber Dimension Online, which doesn't have a platform attached to it, right at the end.

Here's a slightly longer teaser for Mary Skelter, although it still doesn't give much away.

More Otomate fun from Idea Factory

As ever, I have no idea what's going on in these trailers, but Idea Factory continues to role out the Otome titles for the Japanese market. Will they ever come west, who knows? Collar x Malice certainly has high production values in this more actiony-than-usual trailer, and a hefty dose of English!

Not so sure about 7 Scarlet, which definitely has a more run of the mill look to it. Given I rather enjoyed a couple of play throughs of Amnesia Memories, I think that western Vita owners could do with a little more otome in our lives.

The latest on some long lost Kickstarter Vita games

I've been diving into the depths of Kickstarter list and seeing what's happening on some of the projects I fancied or backed over the years.

First up, Game Atelier, who canned their KS project when they got backing, said earlier this month of a potential Vita version of Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom...
About platforms: We hear you loud and clear! There's PS Vita, WiiU and even more. We totally agree that these platforms need to get Monster Boy, too! However, it's impossible for us to work on all ports at the same time. Also, the game needs to sell well enough so we're able to finance the porting work as it can be very time consuming. Since we don't have any guarantee for success, we just can't announce additional platforms at the moment.

As if often the way, many projects are focusing on PC first. My much anticipated copy of SWDTech's Pixel Noir will have to wait awhile as the team is at:
Development on Pixel Noir is going smoothly! As of today, we're 40+% through our project plan for development of our initial, alpha systems.
Soul Saga is also storming ahead on the PC Steam version, but it looks like console owners will be waiting a while for our turn to play:
Soul Saga's development is cruising along and I'm crunching in as many humanly feasible hours as possible to get you the best game I can this year!

Cosmic Star Heroine is just about to hit PC beta, but still sounds very rough,  so still seems like there's some way to go before that ever lands on the Vita.

All is quiet on the MechRunner front with not much in the way of updates or social media comments from the arcade shooter team. We heard in January the PS Vita version was getting closer, so hopefully some news will drop soon. 

Being a bit more proactive is Alfonso Martin whose gorgeous Heart Forth, Alicia continues to astound. Check out his weekly livestreams of progress! 

As ever, let us know of any progress on Kickstarter or other crowdfunded games you're following. 

New Sword Art Online Hollow Realization trailer

Bandai has dropped a new video to show off the huge world of  Sword Art: Origin, teeming with new characters like Strea, Philia and the mysterious NPC Premiere who will stand alongside Kirito and Asuna in their many battles.

During their adventure, players will discover many different landscapes, such as the exciting Valley Map and its aquatic environment. But they will have to be careful, these beautiful landscapes hide terrible monsters among the environment. The game hits the west in Autumn.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Square Enix shows off Vita Dragon Quest Heroes II gameplay

Square continues to push the Vita in Japan, while having all but abandoned it in the west. We still live in hope for some Dragon Quest  Builders fun, but getting DQ Heroes II seems like a long, long, long shot.

Dive into YouTube and you can compare this video with a version running against the PS4, which is naturally smoother and shinier, with more detail, but the Vita version looks pretty tight, running at native res and 30 frames per second. There's a bit of pop-up here and there, but you can see that on the PS4 clip.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sky Force Anniversary confirmed for the Vita

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Infinite Dream's shmup, Sky Force popped back into the Vita collective consciousness when Trophies for the updated version of the 10 year old shooter appeared.

That's been confirmed now with a PSN story and trailer on the superb retro shooter modernized and souped-up. The game will be $9.99 on the US store running at native res and 30fps, out this summer and Cross Buy with PS4 and PS3.

Oswald is the latest Odin Sphere star

Oswald? Not much of a name for a hero is it? However, he definitely has a dark side to him and he's the star of the latest of the Odin Sphere Leifthrasir heroes to get an outing on video. He shows off his feisty short sword play and zippy battle tactics. Not long to wait now until the game arrives in early June.

If you couldn't already tell by his appearance, Oswald isn't quite like the rest of the characters unveiled so far. A born warrior prone to extreme violence and cruelty, but what did you expect from the most powerful soldier in the Ringford army? At first, Oswald serves Melvin, the eventual usurper of the Ringford throne, but a series of events leads him to serve Queen Odette, the ruler of the Netherworld, in exchange for a cure to a mysterious weakness.

Burning Blood boils to the top of the chart in Japan

The PS4 version of One Piece Burning Blood managed to outsell the Vita version by a nearly 3,000 units as Japan gets back to buying games. There were a hefty five new Vita releases to keep Minecraft company, with Bullet Girls 2 and a pair of Otome titles kicking around the chart.

The latest update to Phantasy Star Online 2 sold a rather poor 7,000 physical copies, according to Media Create, helping to build up the game's user base very slowly. The Episode 3 release managed over 25,000 sales.

01./00. [PS4] One Piece: Burning Blood (Bandai Namco) - 35.496
02./00. [PSV] One Piece: Burning Blood (Bandai Namco ) - 32.682
04./00. [PSV] Bullet Girls 2 (D3) - 17.224
11./00. [PSV] Phantasy Star Online 2 Episode 4: Deluxe (Sega) - 7.043
12./00. [PSV] Nil Admirari no Tenbin  (Idea Factory) - 6.987
15./07. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition (Mojang) - 6.254 / 743.558 (-3%)
18./00. [PSV] Kamigami no Asobi InFinite (Broccoli) {2016.04.21} (¥5.800) - 4.828

Despite all that, Vita sales remained flat in Japan, up just a couple of hundred despite the new entries. This week sees Rose and the Old Castle from NIS and Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2016 from Konami landing, which probably won't help to spark hardware sales.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: Severed

Take a dash of Fruit Ninja, a slice of Dungeon Master, add a whiff of mystery and get Leonid Afremov to choose the colour palette, and we have Severed, possibly the last western Vita exclusive. Thanks to Drinbox for that, who also brought the delightful and equally radiant Guacamelee to the Vita.

A tale of revenge and hacking things up, Severed pitches you as a warrior girl, Sasha, into some light dungeon puzzling and a lot of slashing. The game starts with your home trashed and your family missing. A little searching through some old-school RPG rotate and square-by-square advance mechanics find you exploring the remains of the house and a nearby woods for clues.

Each area has a few secrets in them, often indicated by flash as you pass by, so paying attention is critical. As an old school gamer I'd prefer to find the secrets myself, so I tapped every twig, brick and statue in the place, mostly to no avail - something that Severed could have better utilized.

In the first castle-like levels, puzzles, tricks and traps abound (do take notes) but that all goes out the window when you see a wisp in the distance indicating an enemy. To defeat the denizens of Severed, you need to get your blade out and go chopping via the touch screen. Advance further and you travel through dungeons, the innards of giant worms, and other more depressing locations - all smartly lit with increasingly tough combat along the way.

On the guitar, Slasha!

Your efforts at combat have to be both precise and furious. You might start off slicing crazily away, at a single enemy, but you'll soon learn that chipping away at a weak spot, and then blocking accurately as your enemy tries to strike is the only way to win.

Get things right and you can dispatch them with ease, and cleave off their limbs to collect as ingredients. Get it wrong and your feeble health ticks quickly down. In between battles you can restore energy with fruit found growing on a few trees.

Unlike most RPGs, where the opposition lines up in front of you, as you venture further, these curiously designed freaks will gang up around you. Timers count down to when they attack, so you have to face the right way, at the right time, remember the rules for each hellish creature and flick or slash with efficiency to win the battle. Fortunately, death only takes you a few steps back (and refills your health), allowing you to retry until you master the patterns - if Drinkbox had added a rhythm action section, this could be up for the best genre mash up of the year.

Build your stats, Stat!

To add a little complexity to the game, most beasts if severed correctly will drop limbs or organs that you can use to conjure up some greater powers, or you can slash open large jars around the mazes . There's several skill trees to build up through to improve your defences and attacks through uprated stats and skill percentages. Get a little way into the game and you can transmute these organs into different types to help craft the character more to your liking.

Also, as you beat the bosses, you can pick up greater armour that offers more skills and powers to turn that slip of a girl into a serious warrior. These have their own skill trees, so every big step you take in the game, gives you something new to play with. To make things harder later in, the enemies have their own skills, better defence, faster attack, so you need to reconsider your order of battle. They can also limit your powers, but you can steal theirs later on - but that makes the battles less fun, and you'll hate retrying them again and again.

That kind of dulls the impact of the game for me, a shame as it was all going so well for the first few maps. So, Severed is a pretty rapid, simple but focused game with fiendishly designed mazes, with the skill coming from your ability to slice and dice as accurately as possible. The maps, tricks and traps all play their part, and the gorgeous colour scheme and soundtrack keep you immersed. In fun terms, it is not up there with Guacamelee, and is seriously hampered in replay terms. I've even avoided showing monsters and key locations in the screens to prevent spoiling them!  

Score 7/10
More reviews
Price: £11.99 on PSN (£10.79 for PS+)
Dev: DrinkBox
Progress: Wormfood

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sword Art Online Hollow Realization lands October in Japan

Bandai's latest long version of the SAO: Hollow Realization trailer comes to celebrate the announcement of the game's release in Japan on October 27. The game is also confirmed for a western release, with PS4 and Vita versions getting a stylish special edition, in Japan anyway.

More fun and games with a new Caligula clip

Caligula's first trailer gave us a glimpse at an impressive looking game in the spirit of Persona, given it is led by the guy who wrote the early Persona stories. The second one has more characters, school and town scenes, a few brief battle snippets, mystery people behind TV screens (that old chestnut) and that mostly white costume effect that gives things a slightly ethereal edge.

Nippon Ichi gives us more Claddun

A second gameplay video for Nippon Ichi's Claddun Sengoku shows off a bunch of the editing potential and features within the game, plus some more RPG gameplay toward the end of this second half-hour clip. Last week's showed off much more gameplay, but all this customisation should appeal to tweakers, although not too sure about the character image created for this clip.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force invading America

On top of all the God Eater and Sword Art Online news, Bandai has also announced that Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force is arriving for the Vita in the States. The release date is 12 July, but there's no word on an EU release.

There are many Japanese videos of the game in action, still waiting for some western clips or pics to appear.

New God Eater 2 Rage Burst screens

These God Eater 2 Rage Burst pics are from the PS4 version in HD, but just squint a bit, since they're based on the Vita (if not the PSP) graphics and things won't look much different on the handheld. Remember buyers get God Eater Resurrection for free!