Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New otome brand hits Japan, more school-based shenanigans

Karinto is a new brand focused on otome games from Karasuri. Its first release roughly translates as School Run X Japanese Sword "Otome Sword Musashi"and features Musou as a girl at a school loaded with handsome swordsmen, athletes and other charming creatures.

Dengeki has some character profiles, and the game is slated for a Vita release in 2017.

[Synopsis - auto translated]

I'm a high school student who lives in the country.

But one day, I picked up the key to a locked warehouse and picked up a stick from a wooden tree inside.
At that time,
I heard a voice saying "Second generation, my wood sword, treasure."
I did not care at that time, but from the next day it will be serious!
People who held the sword came and said "Musashi, a game!
Everyone says that I am the second generation of Musashi, and I will be in trouble even if I am killed, but the opponent does ... If
the defeat of the sword is overcome, it is true that my fate to follow the winner for the rest of my life.
Is not that strange in this era?
How in the world is it! Is it?

Romancing Saga 3 gets a Vita port in Japan

Following on from the success of SaGa Scarlet Grace last year, and the arrival of Romancing Saga 2 it seems fairly logical for Square to keep rolling these games in this classic series out. So, it is little surprise that Romancing Saga 3 will get a Vita, iOS and Android port in Japan.

Remastered for the modern age, the nineties RPG gets a low-key announce with a web posting, a spot of art and not much else. Keep an eye out for more.  As with Romancing Saga 2, its unlikely to head west, whatever Square says. Unless, by some miracle, they decide to release a digital bundle in the west?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Valkyria Revolution confirmed for western summer release

We knew the latest Valkyria effort was coming west, but it looks like Sega - remember them - is picking up the release rather than leaving it to partner label Atlus. After Hatsune Miku's last outing, I thought they'd given up on the Vita. But no, the off-shoot Valkyria Revolution will get a western release at the end of June in digital-only form for Sony's portable along with deluxe PS4 and X1 releases.

The JRPG starts with a revolution, Jutland's elite soldiers, the Vanargand, must band together to defeat the Ruzi Empire and stop death itself in the form of Valkyria. This grizzled anti-Valkyria squad is equipped with advanced mana weaponry and has the powerful ability to wield ragnite spells to combat this terrifying threat.

The unit is comprised of soldiers who have a high affinity for ragnite, and even Jutland's own Princess Ophelia has joined the ranks. The princess carries the utmost love for her country and has answered the call of duty to liberate those who are suffering from the Ruzi's tyranny. However, Amleth Grønkjær, the commanding officer of Vanargand hides a terrible secret. Is he friend or foe to the country he has sworn to protect?

A tale of two Toukiden 2 games

The UK charts are out and Toukiden 2 is No.1 on the Vita retail list. On the PS4 chart, it only managed to creep in to No. 28, presumably because everyone was buying the freak-fest that is Mass Effect Andromeda.

Realistically, the PS4 version could have sold more than the Vita edition, but since neither made the individual formats (value or units) charts, only Koei Tecmo's accountants will ever know.

Still congrats to the company on another Vita UK No. 1 and well done to everyone who went with the physical edition. However, based on this news and last year's Japanese sales, I'm not too sure there will be a Toukiden 3, although a T2.5 may be on the cards.

The retail chart rundown by GameTrack is:

1. Toukiden 2 (new entry)
2. Steins Gate 0 (no change, 18 weeks on chart)
3. Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified (up from 7)
4. Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (down from 3)
5. Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (up from 9)
6. Root Letter (down from 1, 20 weeks on chart)

Will update with PSN digital Top Sellers list if Sony can be bothered to, seems to have been very static for a long time. Toukiden 2 is at No. 4 on the Amazon Best Sellers list while Ys VIII tops the pre-order list. Drive Girls is also there, although still unconfirmed, so we'll likely here about that this week.

Salt and Sanctuary Vita screens

A couple of these grabs, sent over by Ska, appeared on the PSN blog posts, but the rest seem new, and uncropped. Take a peek at Salt and Sanctuary in action on the Vita. The game has generated plenty of coverage on Reddit, NeoGAF and other places, as interest in the Vita port seems pretty high. Always good when a game reminds people that the Vita exists.

The Ska Studios title is out this week. As it is Cross Buy with the PS4 version, it'll be £14.99 ($17.99), which seems a worthy investment in one of the more celebrated indies. Hopefully some Vita video will pop up soon, so we can see how smooth it is, and to see if Sickhead Games' port is up to the mark. Hopefully the UI, missing in these pics, has been refined for the Vita's screen.

While the Switch might be scooping up more indie love in future, with S&S, Risk of Rain, Neon Chrome, Axiom Verge and many more, the Vita has more than proved that a good team can still see it compete with modern hardware. We also have The Deer God, Oceanhorn and plenty more on the release list.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Salt and Sanctuary arrives on Vita next week

One of the most-pestered after games hits the Vita a year after the PS4 release next week. Salt and Sanctuary comes to us via Sickhead Games, handling the port of Ska Studios game with aplomb. The Souls-like RPG packs in action.

The game is Cross Buy if you own the PS4 version, some detail on the PSN blog, chasing for some pics or video of it in action on the Vita.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Exile Election trailer weaves a story

Not the best way to start the day, what the hell? I guess as Exile Election is set in a theme park this kind of makes sense, but make what you will of the artistic trappings and the bizarre semantics. Apples are life, poison, health? Butterflies represent freedom, transformation? Whatever.

The game is out in April on Vita and PS4 and should provide those who are all Danganronpa'd out with some fresh judging to do.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kuon is this week's Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception star

Following on from last week's Haku trailer, this week Atlus is celebrating Kuon, a doe-eyed pal and faithful follower for the battles to come. She's a mysterious traveler who rescues Haku in the beginning of the game and eventually becomes his "guardian."

While not much is known about her past, she's an intelligent and free-spirited woman who's an apothecary by trade. The polar opposite of Haku, Kuon is a responsible person who always gets the job done. Oh, and she's quite useful during battles too. She a scrappy fighter who prefers the intimacy of hand-to-hand combat, and her knowledge of herbology and medicines lets her act as an effective healer.

Accel World vs SAO causes ruckus in Japanese chart

Accel World vs. Sword Art Online managed to shift 38,653 for third spot in the new Media Create chart, beating the PS4 version by 5,500 units. Even combined at 70K, that's just a bit teeny down on the 850K that Monster Hunter XX sold at no. 1. Remember when Monster Hunter used to sell millions on launch?.

Bringing up the rear, visual novel Yu No managed to shift 8,800 copies to land at 15. But that was outsold by the PS4 version.

On the hardware front, Vita sold 8,004 dragging along at seasonal lows, but still impressive for a 5.5 year old system in tech-obsessed Japan. Not much hope of an immediate boost, Side Kicks is out this week, but marketing has been light to say the least, Musou Stars arrives at the end of the month but should favour PS4 sales.

Last week's chart

Kemco brings Revenant Saga to PlayStation

Kemco continues its mini-revival as a gaming brand with a host of mobile RPG titles stretching back into history. Revenant Saga is next up mixing pixel exploring with 3D battles, following on from Asdevine Hearts. Actually looks pretty decent, if there's enough story and characters worth caring about. The game is out this spring.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: Toukiden 2

In an effort to fill the gap left by Monster Hunter on the Vita, we've had Freedom Wars, Soul Sacrifice (and Delta), many God Eaters, and the Toukiden series to keep us blatting away at increasingly chunky demons with an ever-widening range of weapons.

Given we're approaching the end of the Vita's life as a mainstream device, perhaps Toukiden 2 will be the final hurrah for those who love partying hard and slaying into the night. The game sold around physical copies 125,000 in Japan and comes west this week.
You only real notice the neat effects in still screenshots, rarely when in the thick of the action
You play another hapless mortal plucked from fighting demons in olde Yokohama and sent through a portal some new mountain/woodland/otherworldly patch of turf spreading around Mahoroba Village, on which to fight the pesky Oni and their demonic overlords.

As with any other hunting game, you are soon assigned missions to prove your worth and to sort out some of the town's dire needs. Outside, the world quick-loads between areas, creating that almost open world feel, and there is a lot more to see and do in the countryside, with ad hoc missions, plenty of hidden goodies and a biblical number of trophies to earn.

Gladiators, Ready

As a warrior, you can specialise in traditional weapons like double blades, swords and poles, or go modern with ranged muskets. Stick with one and become a master or pick and choose depending on what type of beast you end up fighting. New entrants the sword and shield will tempt those who give a damn about defensive skills, while the chain whip is a good mid-range attack platform.

Another new feature is the Demon Hand that allows for big jumps over some terrain (Bionic Commando-style) and for grabbing Oni and dealing more damage, or allowing your Matami spirits to perform even more effects. Fully charged, it can even help rip the bigger monsters to pieces!
Claptrap? Never heard of him!
Character customisation allows you to have fun with your hero, while most of the natives are so desperately earnest or hard-bitten you just want to end their suffering! One sparkling piece of light in this dross is Tokitsugu (who starred in the Studio 4C anime), while he's not a patch on Claptrap from Borderlands 2, he does at least add some edge.

As the out-of-towner, suspicion is poured upon you, but you soon start to earn people's trust, although a power struggle between the town's samurai and local guards, which adds a little spice, but basically your life's work is to run around, kill things and find the clues as to your mysterious predicament.

For Battles Ahead

Whenever you head back to town, the new portals speed this up immensely, you can use the spoils of war and loot from the land to increase your armour and weaponry. You can fortify your gear, reforge it or create new items. Boost defence, elemental defence or increase Aegis.

When not battling Oni, you can also learn new skills, splash about in the pool, or explore the town. Conversations have no impact on the direction of the story, but help to nudge the plot along - nice character art by the way. Whatever you're doing, there is usually a pointer on the mini-map or a "!" to indicate where to go.
Decent draw distance, but the usual drab textures
Whatever you do, the early battles are generally weak, in that you can sit back and watch your allies take down the monsters. Things get more challenging later on, but the story and characters that appear deeper into the game are interesting enough to make progress worth while. If you're new to Toukiden 2's world, then taking on a few solo battles helps you learn the many skills faster.

Yes, this is a little less shiny and fluid than the PS4 version, but plays perfectly well on the Vita and has just enough plot depth and challenge to keep playing. What is annoying, is that most of the games neat effects are missed in the heat of battle. Also, lot of features like bonds are just fluff, but playing with and mastering the Demon Hand is worth the price of admission.

Score: 8/10
More reviews
Price: £29.99 (Amazon)
Size: 2.7GB
Dev: Tecmo Koei
Progress: Out there, somewhere

Slay the Toukiden 2 launch trailer

Toukiden 2 hits the west this week, but hopefully you've been playing the demo (which allows you to carry content over to the full game). I'm reviewing it right now, and have to say its a lot of fun, if barely breaking from the straits of its predecessor. Sure, its a bit open world, with a few more monsters, heroes and weapons, but be under no delusions about what you're getting into.

The new trailer shows what's on offer...

Art, screens and info for Digimon Hacker's Memory

Bandai Europe is dropping all the details on the new Vita Digimon Cyber Sleuth game. After being accused of a crime he didn't commit, goggle-eyed Keisuke Amazawa has no choice but to dive into the digital world and investigate to prove his innocence.

Hacker's Memory is an all-new game, that promises to be deeper and darker, but since the original Cyber Story was pretty much perfect portable gaming fodder, other than adding more Digimon (with 320 now in the roster) and a new story, it doesn't look like too much tweakage has been done.

Trailer up for Bandai's Digimon Hacker's Memory

Since the original piece was getting overfull of updates, here's a fresh page for the Japanese trailer of Bandai's update on Digimon Cyber Story. Hacker's Memory promises to change what we know about the original. It releases in Japan in 2017 and in the west, early 2018 - in time for the Vita's sixth birthday most likely.

Guess its time to reinstall and replay the original, in case there's any goodies to be grabbed for the semi-sequel. All of the original production leads are back with Kazumasa Habu producing, Suzuhito Yasuda the character designer and Masafumi Takada as composer! The western release will offer up Japanese voices, English and German subtitles.

It is digital only on Vita and physical for PS4.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Pixel Noir gets a new, darker, trailer

Dated as first quarter 2018, there's still a long way to go for this pixel RPG adventure that's been through its own on-going development saga for at least three years, probably a lot longer. The new trailer shows off some teamwork, a baddie or two and plenty of moody atmosphere for those who live in the shadow of Blade Runner, Syndicate Wars and other dark delights.