Sunday, February 26, 2017

Blue-Collar Astronaut floats to the Vita next month

Jobs in space won't all be of the Mark Watney or Jim Lovell type heroics in the future. Instead, people will be needed for more regular roles; parking space craft, trucking cargo, delivering pizza will be the Joe jobs of tomorrow.

Vita owners can get in on that action with Blue-Collar Astronaut from Mutated Software, launching mid-March. It features a range of craft to control over 40 levels, with different objectives to meet in increasingly tough time limits. The Vita version is on-show now at GDC if you want a peek.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Are you scared of the Death Mark?

Experience Inc,'s next unsettling title for the Vita is Death Mark, which releases this summer. As one of those afflicted with this mark, you have to figure out a way to survive. It all seems very nightmarish and borrowing from lots of Japanese movies and horror memes, all crammed into one of the more in-your-face visual novels.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Axiom Verge getting a physical LE Vita release

Axiom Verge on the Vita is awesome, but it would be great if you owned it on a physical cart right? And wouldn't it be even better to have a map, poster, artbook and a soundtrack CD? Well thank BadLand for putting this together as the craze for Vita physicals continues to grow. Think I'll be grabbing this one, still love exploring the alien landscapes and finding out better ways to battle the creatures to this day!

Super Robot Wars V launch trailer

The latest bot battle hits Japan today, with great interest in the Asian version that has an English language option. With hordes of mechs from various Japanese series, it should do well in the chart as usual, but it'd be cool to see how importers affect the wider Asian sales, given the amount of interest flying around on forums and Twitter.

Spanish dev Hydra wants to bring Froggler to Vita

Froggler is one of the game blocky/voxel types games that haunt the mobile app stores, but since we don't have the mighty Crossy Road on the Vita, then this would be a good substitute. Spanish developer Hydra Interactive hopes to bring the game to the Vita, approvals permitting, and why not? If it works out, some of their more evolved games like low-poly sword fighting game UpsideDown might even head our way!

Review forma.8

Guess you have to be pretty old to remember Terrahawks. But in that Gerry Anderson puppet sci-fi show, round metal balls did battle with grizzled alien invaders to protect the Earth. I'll go with that reference point, rather than Eve from Wall-E that everyone else is using. Largely because there was a shouty English ball and a snooty French one among the troops. If there had been an Italian one, it would be forma.8; cool, suave and going on its metal way in fine style.

Forma.8 sees a bunch of spherical probe droids launched at a new planet, and our drone is cannoned into a strange alien architecture. With a mission to explore, its glow in the dark eyes soon reveal a strange ecosystem that is a joy to navigate.

Narrow caves give way to enormous landscapes with the smooth zoom leaving you as a dot on the landscape. Life teams around the underground pools of water or lava, and tech-laden metallic passages hint that not all is as it seems.

With an ambient soundtrack, impressive and eerie soundscape, dramatic lighting (which I'm sure looks fantastic in 4K on a PS4 Pro, but is just as gorgeous on an OLED Vita), you float around powered by a gas jet that leaves a neat ion trail. Early obstacles are overcome with a little nudging and experimentation. Later on, you can pick up some skills that might be classed as weapons, but aren't as clumsy or random as a blaster.

The game plays rather like Exile's End or Axiom Verge, with some back and forth, and pick-up upgrades needed to get into new areas. But, with its largely pacifist stance, you can enjoy the ride more, and worry less about much of the local wildlife, bar a few major obstacles. There are glowing orbs of energy to keep the drone powered up and healthy, and plenty of little secrets to find.
Those set piece aliens are where the game does come unstuck, a bit. The first one is a large spider with a doom-laden red eye and a repulsor skill. Nearby flying bugs were dropping from a pod, so I guessed you needed to feed them to the creature to distract it. That didn't work, so I tried hiding in the grass to see if it would lose interest - no dice. Then, I tried blowing up its exposed legs, many, many times.

In the end you only needed to push your little demolition charges at the eye, but I wasted a good while working that out, and did it by accident in the end, having expected a more nuanced solution from such a beautiful game! And of course, the next monster along, I tried everything apart from the feeding it flying bugs, which was the correct solution - aaarrrggghhh!
Fortunately, most of forma.8 is a glorious travelogue through an alien landscape, trying to find the secrets it holds and gleaning any meaning you can from them. A basic map shows where to head next, but the route is often circuitous, or inaccessible without picking up a new skill, so this isn't really a game for arcade freaks.
An incredible effort from a small Italian team, their years of work has paid off, and produced a title that can proudly sit among the finest of Vita indies along with Velocity 2X, Neon Chrome and Shovel Knight.

Perhaps being a little less enigmatic, there's one page in the manual with some mystery icons on it, would make the game more accessible, but learning forma.8's mysteries is all part of the fun.

Score: 9/10
More reviews
Price: £11.99 (PSN)
Size: 500MB
Dev: Mixed Bag Games
Progress: Eye, robot and beyond!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Heart Forth Alicia dev update

Heart Forth Alicia's development continues to roll forward with the Kickstarted game's coders providing one of their hefty regular updates. Sure, the game is two years late and counting, but if it looks this good and the team still have the money from their $232K funding to get to final release, then I'll be only to pleased to wait a bit longer.

Work continues to get the bulk of the game into beta, with work on cutscenes, dialogue and game balance right. They state that come the middle of the year, they'll have a better idea of a release date.

Visual novels keep the Vita trundling along in Japan

Almost exactly matching the dismal pattern of 2013, Vita sales are glued to the bottom of the winter sales trend this week, but still sold another 8,200 consoles in Japan. The Media Create chart has no Vita games in the top 10, and it looks like even the immovable Minecraft might be on the way out, with only a couple of new visual novels to dent the lower half.

11./00. [PSV] Kamaitachi no Yoru: Rinne Saisei (5pb.) - 6.140 / NEW
14./00. [PSV] Diabolik Lovers: Lost Eden (Idea Factory) - 5.537 / NEW
17./10. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition  (Sony) - 4.025 / 1.110.103 (-12%)
18./12. [PSV] Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony  (Spike Chunsoft) - 3.187 / 115.840 (-24%)

Super Robot Wars V is out today in Japan, and has an English subs version for Asia, so sales could do pretty well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Badland publishing Pixel Noir in 2018

Another game drops into the growing list of titles that will see the Vita's sixth birthday, with Pixel Noir, the long-ago Kickstarter still coming along nicely. The adventure with turn-based combat now has a publisher in Badland, who will help the SWDTech-developed game get at least a digital release, and possibly a physical one if the interest is there.

Given you can't go far wrong with a cyberpunk detective thriller, I reckon this should do pretty well. I've been following this since the first KS in 2014, and can wait a little longer to finally see a gorgeous adventure on my OLED.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk launch trailer

Tecmo Koei's latest bag of muscles rages to PSN this week, bringing a new anime slant to their typical whack-a-mole action game type. With story mode and endless Eclipse (if you really like pummeling thousands of the same enemy), there's loads of slaughter to enjoy across a few combat styles as the Berserk Band strut their stuff.

I have asked for some Vita shots so we can see what it looks like, but for now, you can check out the Japanese version in portable action here.

Emperor of Love ready to rock

Ren is singing the sparky opening track for Love of Love: Emperor of Love. Another otome VN from Entergram, with a host of girls all vying for the attention of the school head boy, largely by wearing incredibly tight blouses! An update of the PC version, it appears to be losing some of the adult content to gain a wider audience, but I'm sure will be plenty saucy enough for Japanese gamers.

Nioh's William makes a guest appearance in Musou Stars

William, the not at all Thor-lookie-likie from Nioh is ditching his day job of hammering trolls in Nioh to hammer trolls in Musou Stars, in that last of the big names to make the release roster of Tecmo's whack-a-mole game. Unveiled in a live stream yesterday, here's Will in action in a proper HD clip.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Gorgeous-looking platformer Iconoclasts first gameplay snippet

Some 18 months after being announced, Iconoclasts from Konjak is creeping nearer to completion, classed as coming "soon". This first gameplay clip is brief, but shows off gorgeous art style and attention to detail within the game. If the rest of the levels look as good and the gameplay mechanics are robust enough, this looks like an absolute gem to enjoy.

UPDATE: There's now a second snippet, and hopefully many more to come of this sumptuous looking title.

Chroma Squad dumped for Vita, but Grisaia Phantom Trigger a maybe

Bandai is chopping down Vita games with ruthless efficiency now. The latest to get the axe is Chroma Squad. Listed by Sony back in 2015 and reconfirmed in 2016, the not quite Power Rangers game from Behold Studios, originally a Kickstarter for PC, had support from Bandai for the console versions, but is no more for Sony's portable.

The press release says only "the game will no longer be available for the PlayStation Vita handheld system." I'm trying to find out why, it hardly looked a technical tour de force, so likely the usual sales worries or lack of budget/bandwidth for porting.

On the plus side, Frontwing's new visual novel series Grisaia: Phantom Trigger is on Prefundia, and they do mention the Vita, but only when the whole series is complete, which could be a long way down the line, so definitely don't get your hopes up.

Also coming our way is Emerald Shores, a soon to be unveiled platformer from Fordesoft, the man behind PSM tile game Super Blackout, who also has a 2D RPG in the works. Expect more news on this soon.

Meet the crew in Exile Election

Yep, Monday is officially Japanese video day. Here's another set, showing off brief introductory clips for the cast in Exile Election, this is today's hero Kaname, with a bunch more on the NIS Japan YouTube page to have a quick squint at. Lots of new content on the game site too, wonder if NISA will bring this one west, given the popularity of similar games like Danganronpa.