Friday, May 26, 2017

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA opening movie and launch dates

September is looking like the next good month for the Vita, after a spectacular May, with Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA now confirmed for a western release on the 12th in American and the 15th in Europe. Another cracking RPG for the Vita, I'll take that!

The intro movie shows a mystery island full of strange characters and beasts. This is another series I've never really got into, apart from Memories of Celceta back in 2014. So, looking forward to see what this can offer.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chaos;Child confirmed for western release

We all knew this was coming, but now its official. CHAOS;CHILD is coming to western Vita owners this Autumn. Part of the Science Adventure Series, the visual novel series that also spawned the critically acclaimed Steins Gate, it takes place in Shibuya, Tokyo, several years after an earthquake has nearly destroyed the district, it follows Takuru Miyashiro, a high school student who lost his parents in the earthquake, and his group of friends.

When a series of bizarre murder cases take place in Shibuya, Takuru notices that the dates of the murders match up with a series of murders that happened six years before. Using this knowledge, Takuru and his friends begin to investigate and find themselves embroiled in a dangerous murder mystery…

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Japanese Media Create sales data plus Famitsu reviews

This week's Media Create data shows Vita's poor run continuing, but - again - we're talking about six-year-old technology that's faced with a shiny new rival. What did Sony think was going to happen? More to the point, will they bother doing anything about it?

This week it sold 4,088, just a few shy of its worst over week of 4,021 back in 2012. The drama to see how low it will go would make a great TV show! Still, if it continues to sell at 4K a week, that will take it over 300,000 for the year. and closed to six million life time, which isn't a bad knock for an abandoned product that SCEJ has spent over a year pretending it doesn't exist.

On the software side, no Vita games in the top 20, and the schedule is pretty light with only Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII with Power-Up Kit due anytime soon.

Over in Famitsu land, Tekken 7 gets the plaudits, no surprise there, but both of this week's Vita games get decent reviews:

Death Mark (PS Vita) – 8/8/8/7 [31/40]
Tsukitomo. Tsukiuita. 12 Memories (PS Vita) – 7/7/7/8 [29/40]

Plantera gets a Vita trailer

While we wait to see if Wild Season or Farmville or something else tips up on the Vita, here comes Plantera. In the Ratalaika game, you buy plants, animals and items from a shop and place them in a 2D parallax scrolling garden. With the goods you get from your garden, you can earn more coins and grow a huge farm. Or you can just create your own dream garden.

The PS Vita version comes with new features plus full touch screen controls. If you want something more meaty then check out Farming Simulator 2018.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A good week for UK Vita physical sales?

Well, I didn't see anyone rushing to the distributors going "get more Vita, stat!" However, there are three new entries at the top of the UK retail chart, which is cause for celebration. PQube's Akiba's Beat perhaps undeservedly takes the No. 1 spot, given that it is a pretty poor game. The PS4 version only managed No. 26.


There's loads of DLC on PSN for the top two, so hopefully, the publishers will make even more money over and above these launch sales.

The Lost Child, a new Japanese RPG announced

Despite the drop in sales, news games continue to be announced in Japan. Kadokawa will publish Takeyasu Sawaki's The Lost Child. The teaser doesn't give much away, and there's some info coming in the new Famitsu magazine, but apparently, demons and guns are involved. The game is based on the critically loved El-Shaddai.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review Oceanhorn Monster of Uncharted Seas

I first played this game on iPad a few years ago, and was charmed by its bright visuals, soaring music, and jolly-go-adventuring tone. With none of the endless exposition of JRPGs, none of the politicking nastiness of more mature games, it was a breath of fresh sea air. And, now it has landed on the Vita thanks to the desire of the community, plus the efforts of publisher FDG and developer Cornfox. So, here we go again.

Waking up on a perky, verdant looking island, surrounded by crystal seas, you start out as a young lad, who's father has vanished in a battle with some dark sea monster. Talking to the locals, you soon find yourself on destiny's path, with a stick for a weapon, and a small creaky boat with a range of islands to visit. The game is largely isometric with an island-hopping travel section to break up the exploring of forest, deserts and the many cave systems that lie under each island.
 Looking up, there's an island in the sky that's intriguing but inaccessible early on. And, you'll need to talk to townsfolk or discover isolated island dwellers, to find clues to discover the location of new islands. This bite-size approach involves some to-and-fro but never feels overwhelming. Combat starts off with tapping some hapless crabs with your stick - soon upgraded to a sword and shield. Along your travels, you soon pick up bombs, spells, a bow-and-arrow and other tools to help break into new areas and expand the map.

Oceanhorn isn't too fond of handholding, which might be good or bad for you. Making a note of any obvious clues, inaccessible areas, and where you found them, is a good way to stop from getting frustrated. Solutions to puzzles are never too far away, and keys in chests make a regular appearance along with checkpoints to save the game to prevent you having to retread too much ground.

Even then, sometimes you might just not realise you need to drop a bomb here, or move something there, which is where things get annoying. Handily, there are a million and one guides to get you out of any sticky situation.

It is rare that you are outmatched or over-crowded, by nasties, unless a boss appears. Even then, it is only a matter of using the right weapon with the right timing to bring them down. Alongside sailing, you can also do a spot of fishing to jolly things along.

Health, ammo and other bonuses lurk in the undergrowth, and you make slow progress up a linear experience tree along the way. Keeping an eye out for hidden treasure chests, walls you can blow up and other goodies are all part of the fun. The graphics don't vary much over the course of the game, somehow an ice-level gets into the mix, and Oceanhorn could definitely do with a few more enemies, but it is a fun, if sometimes frustrating, adventure to explore with eyes wide open at the loveliness of it all.

I guess it's a shame the game never had female character option, my daughter would love it even more then. And it would be cool if you could jump earlier on, I mean, really - how hard is jumping and climbing? But playing it on the Vita, with a few touchscreen features is a decided improvement on the tablet version.

Score: 8/10
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Price: £11.99 (PSN)
Size: 200MB
Dev: Cornfox/FDG
Progress: Sailing across the sea, to rescue a chest of spam!

Bodycheck slams the Vita this week

Ludometrics' Bodycheck got a couple of mentions back in 2014, but has been on the back-burner since then. However, from out of nowhere, the medieval sports fighting game bursts out of its corner ready to rumble on the Vita this week. Fans of Speedball should love the approach and as long as there's enough power-ups, point weapons, magic and other bits of fun to add to the mayhem, it could be another hit.

New screens for Digimon: Hacker's Story

A fine start to the week, with a new batch of pics for Digimon Cyber Sleuth Hacker's Story, coming west in 2018.  The conflict between hackers has erupted in the digital world! The battle for the ultimate power has begun. Yuugo - a talented and charismatic hacker leading the biggest hacker group called Zaxon will fight for their rights against Jude (the legendary hacker team) lead by the former hacker Aarata Sanada and other crews. Join the Hudie faction lead by Ryuji Mishima and fight for victory.

Domination Battle is a battle between groups of hackers for the control over the server domain in the digital world. Proceed in a group battle and experience a strategy game warfare, unlike any other battles in the game.

In Domination Battle there are two different teams: Ally team & Enemy team that will battle in the network area. Both teams will start on neutral state, and the color of the area will change according to the team (Blue/Red) when a character steps into it. The aim is to fight for these areas and collect area points to win the fight.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Japanese trailer time

So many announcements for the Switch these days, you can almost feel the energy sapping from the Vita camp in the west. But, fear nor, over in Japan the releases keep coming as this new bunch of teasers and trailers show.

First up is Konosuba, Attack the Destroyer, another fun pixel RPG from 5pb. Definitely something I'd pick up if anyone fancies bringing this our way.

Also on the way is Iwaihime: Matsuri, a visual novel from NIS America, after a teaser last month. Definitely one to put the willies up you, with the whole good girl gone mad/zombie thing.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth coming September with a pillow case

Want to get really physical with the release of Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth? well the slightly limited edition comes with a nice pillow case to cuddle up to. The sequel to Mask of Deception, this finale takes place right after the dramatic events of the previous game.

Chaos has taken hold of the land in Mask of Truth as a conniving general has unlawfully seized the throne of the mighty Yamato Empire. The only ones that stand in his way are a couple of familiar faces who must rally different kingdoms together and fight against the powerful Imperial army.

Check out the Death Mark demo in action

Japan's PSN has a demo up for the impressive-looking Death Mark from Experience. I can't find any English-based play throughs, but this chap explores the first chapter and the abandoned school in around 15 minutes. I love the more realistic graphical style and eerie audio, without any squeaky characters. Hopefully, the rest of the game will be similarly brooding.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Second worst week of Vita sales ever in Japan

The end of Vita hardware sales looms large as the handheld managed to sell a mere 4,114 in Japan last week. Yes, Sony has plans to keep going, with an updated Minecraft bundle in July, but beyond that, it would be hard to see the company justifying a production line beyond the end of this year.

The worst week of unit sales was just over 4,000, and for the first time in ages, there are no Vita titles in the top 20. Then again, Microsoft continues to sell the Xbox One there with just a few hundred sales. While niche titles will keep the smaller publishers going, the larger players are all moving to Switch, and quickly. Hopefully, loyal Vita owners will cling onto their machines for another year or two, but things are not looking cheery!

After last week's brief revival on the Media Create chart, it is hard to see anything helping boost sales, ever. So, enjoy the autumn of the Vita's life and the Japanese games that continue to come our way. But unless Sony pulls PS4 Portable out the bag at one of this year's shows, portable gaming Sony style is done.

Review 10 Second Ninja X

Picked this up courtesy of PlayStation Plus a while back, and having given it a spin, I have to say wow! For such an unassuming little game, it packs in the challenge with 10-second bursts of crazed ninja-ing action.

All you have to do is defeat the on-screen enemies within the time limit, by jumping, swinging your sword of flinging a couple of throwing stars. Figuring out the best set of movements and combat is key to bringing down your time to get three stars, which will help open up the next set of levels, and whole new bunch of challenges.

How much you get from 10SNX depends on how often you restart and refine your run through a level, before your hands cramp up or you get the urge to throw the Vita at a wall. That's no fault of the game, just my aging human reaction times, and the odd errant twitch that can blow a run. But since you can be back at it in seconds, you never feel like you're losing much.

With lots of different level designs, some bad guy variation and learning the tricks of the game, like the exact distance the sword will attack from and which pixel you can stand on next to a drop or electric field are all keys to being great at time, something I'll never manage.

With sharp graphics, a great sense of humour from the space pirate cast and lots of secrets and cheeky goings-on around the hub, 10SNX is fantastic fun and a great five-minute break game. If you get stuck, yes you can get a hint or watch a YouTube video by a pro, but if your reactions can't match theirs, its pointless, but you may well die trying.

Score: 8/10
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Price: £7.99 (PSN)
Size: 300MB
Dev: Curve Digital
Progress: It broke my wrists!

Sony Japan updating its Minecraft bundle

With the Vita version of Minecraft almost out of Japan's charts and the game arriving on Switch causing a new pop in interest, Sony has thought we'll have some of that. It has updated last year's bundle with a new version coming out in July for the summer holidays.
The limited edition looks the same as the existing Vita model, which came out last year, it comes with a pouch, backgound theme and - the new bit -13 bits of DLC, mostly skins and texture packs along with the core game, likely updated to the latest version. Check the Japanese PS blog for more detail and images.
When Sony Japan said it was pushing the Vita more to kids, guess this is what they meant.