Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: League of Evil

Ahh, the peril of one wrong step! League of Evil might sound like a The Asylum low-budget take on a Marvel blockbuster. But, it's a pretty simple game of reactions and learning the right pattern to pass each level.

League of Evil hit iOS back in 2011 from Ravenous Games and has landed on pretty much every platform since, with the Vita release coming at us thanks to Ratalaika and Woblyware. As a cyborg secret super-special agent of the Global Defence Force, you need to infiltrate the League and put an end to whatever plans they are hatching.

Each map has two aims, get to the end and punch a bespectacled man, and find the briefcase. To really be a star in the battle against the League of Evil, you have to do that in the minimum amount of time to earn three stars.

Add that lot together and you get a thousand deaths, misjumps and cock-ups in between the odd cool "wow" moment as you string a series of perfect leaps, punches and dodges together to get through a tough section or sneak in under the time limit.

Our hero has some amazing leaps he can perform, double jumps, sliding down walls, clinging to outcrops, but only one punch move to deal damage to some enemies. They have guns, gun towers, laser grids, ninjas, whirling hammers, spikes and many other hazards that make it all seem a bit unfair, and our hero rather under-equipped.

In the background, a great set of chiptunes keep driving the pace of the game along, and with each level lasting only a few seconds, its hard to get bored of as you try to perfect that last set of leaps.

As a bonus, League of Evil comes with a level editor, allowing you to build your own and share maps with friends. Note, Ravenous and Ratalaika are also combining to bring us Devious Dungeon, which could be more of the same with a fantasy twist.

Cheap and cheerful, this is a perfect blend of compelling action and your inner battle against your calm and patience in the battle to succeed.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Ravenous/Woblyware/Ratalaika
File size 43MB
Progress: In the green

Cowcat porting and improving Riddled Corpses for the Vita

As with the mighty Xenon Valkyrie +, Riddled Corpses EX is an updated and improved version of Diabolical Mind's PC original, now headed to PS4 and Vita with Cross Buy. The mighty pairing of Spanish originator and French Breton Fabrice (aka Cowcat) have worked their magic and the game is slated for a Q2 release, i.e., soonish.
Riddled Corpses is now uprated to a smooth 60fps, even on Vita. It offers a retro-style twin-stick shooter across dark wastelands and ruined cities. As well as the speed boost, there's better hit detection, improved combos, a better story mode and other improvements over the original. More importantly, fairer griding takes it more fun, while arcade mode is more arcadey!

Actual Vita screens below!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Review: Rogue Aces

Gaming is rarely as pure when its just you and a feeble fighter plane against a land, sea and sky filled with enemy targets. Enter Rogue Aces from Infinite State, a nod to the likes of Harrier Attack, SWIV and all the other hopeless-odds shooters, most recently Luftrausers.

From the driving guitars on the intro screen, Rogue Aces is fast and furious fun throughout. Take off from your carrier deck and battle across dozens of campaign missions to impose your little slice of a new world order on the land. All before your petrol or ammo runs out!

A little banter from the excellently-mustached boss and its off into the blue yonder, flying what looks like a riff on a P-47 Thunderbolt. Using dual-stick controls, you manage speed with the right stick and direction on the left, with guns assigned to the right trigger and bombs and missiles on the buttons.

Getting used to the controls takes a minute, a set of quick tutorials helps, but mastering them so you can zip around at ground level across the changing landscape or strafe multiple moving targets takes a little longer. Fighters buzz around you in a constant battle, while streams of bombers or zeppelins will hove in on a particular target.

Stay on Target

Tanks and troops roam the land, protecting high-value targets like radar stations or enemy airfields, and naval forces pose a threat to your tinpot carrier. Basically, there's nowhere to hide, but you can steal enemy bases to shorten mission times before death inevitably claims you. Military power (left trigger) can give you a quick boost to get out of sticky situations, unless your engine is damaged.

A normal campaign throws sets of brief mission objectives at you, wave after wave. Frontline campaign sends you across a sprawling series of island challenges, against the clock. Some islands are guarded by a boss enemy Baron plane with faster performance and bigger fricking guns to ruin your day. Master more of the game and you open up the Survival mode or the scary Bomber Defence (oh, and the Credit scene shooter!) .

Gaining XP gives the game the "Rogue" in its title as you can upgrade your craft with better cannons, speed, turning ability and other goodies. The more levels you gain, the more boosts you can use. Shooting down fighters provide parachute crates with extra goodies, but mostly, you'll be desperately trying to avoid the ground and keeping an eye on your target with a quick nod at your damage levels.

Visually, the game is perky with lots of great effects, especially the searchlights at night, plus the rolling day/night cycle and weather, to the constant build up of dead ships and craft littering the landscape. Having played the Switch version, the Vita stands up remarkably well, with smooth play and graphics that are only slightly less crisp. Also, the text is bigger in size on Vita, so more easily readable, something that many developers forget!

Packed with challenge and secrets to find across a good range of mission types, this is simply ace in short bursts. While Rogue Aces might sound hard, there are a few easy tactics to learn that will get you through most situations. Just the one annoyance, you can't carry on a Frontline Campaign at the same times as a regular one, surely a patch can sort that out?

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £7.99 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Infinite State/Curve Digital
File size 83MB
Progress: Shot lots of stuff up

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Musynx brings disco beats to the Vita in June

MUSYNX is a successful mobile tap-tap music game headed to Vita and PS4 on 19 June courtesy of Acttil. It features over 50 tracks across pop, rock, trance, R&B, classical, and more with stylish artwork and beats aplenty as players tap furiously to each track to match the rhythm.

With varying difficulty levels and DLC on the way, it could find a home for those who don't like the excessive fluff of Dancing All Night or Hatsune Miku.

Vita sales clinging on in Japan

Vita sales are almost identical to last week at 2,912, according to the latest Media Create chart data. Things look relatively quiet on the hardware front, with even the Switch falling to a year old of 36K. That's ahead of Golden Week starting at the end of the month, but recent years have shown narrowing boosts in sales, compared to the madness of the PSP era.

Super Robot Wars X sticks in the top 20 on the Vita, selling another 3,340 copies moving it well over 60K. Out this week is Metal Max Xeno on Vita and PS4, which will hopefully prove that Japanese buyers don't just want RPGs and visual novels!

Over in Famitsu land, the latest review scores are in with a bunch of Vita games coming soon. Bizarrely, Pro Jikkyou Baseball scores the same as God of War, just showing how screwy their scoring system is!!!

NadeRevo! Nadeshiko Revolution 24/40 (visual novel, girls)
Natsuiro Kokoro Log 28/40 (another visual novel, girls)
Utawarerumono: Chiriyukusha he no Komoriuta 32/40 (not a visual novel at all)
Tengai ni Mau, Iki na Hana 33/40 (you get the idea, but this one is boys)
Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2018 38/40

Review: Sir Eatsalot

Sir Eatsalot isn't your ordinary platforming hero. Not for him the ability to cling on to a ledge with one finger and pull himself up, if you slightly misjudge a jump. Nor the power to steam through a level at super-Sonic speed or wall jump to inaccessible places.

Instead, our gluttonous pal is a stout and sturdy knight who finds himself on the wrong end of a mad witch, the chain-smoking Hysterica and her minion hordes' plans. The kingdom of Gluttington, with its lovely cake and treat-filled world in under threat from sour lemonade, and he's not the sort of pussy to drink it! So, it's up to Sir Eatsy to sort things out.

Sir Eatsalot is a Vita exclusive, making good use of front and rear touch controls, and packing in a few inventive ideas, while borrowing liberally from the best bits (the palette, scenery and caged fluffles in need of rescue) from Rayman, Zool and a few other classic titles.

The OLED vibrance really makes Eatsy stand off the screen, while touching the Vita has trees rattling, goodies dropping down, and is useful (nay, essential) for dealing with tricks and traps, and causing panic as you juggle touch and button controls.

Pump up the Volume

One note, this is definitely a game for headphones as the audio is pretty low key through the Vita's speakers. It is definitely worth enjoying the plucky soundtrack and the heavyweight effects at high volume as our portly hero goes trudging into battle.

While the game starts out fun and cuddly with a few simple leaps and challenges, it soon becomes apparent there's a fiendish streak lurking within. There are plenty of vicious run/jump/trap/run/jump/trap moves that require precise control, tapping and a few goes as that panic becomes hysteria!

Loading up on quests from various Gluttington residents, Eatsy must zip in and out of the smallish multi-room levels, finding keys, levers and artefacts. Then do a lot of backtracking (one of the game's minor niggles) to access the next bit of the map, with light relief from spots of jousting and other challenges.

Cutscenes with Hysterica also lighten the load, and would have been great with some proper bonkers Helena-Bonham Carter (or perhaps, Miranda Richardson's mad Queenie) doing the voice acting. But, budgets and multilingual issues likely conspired, especially for a modest dev team like Behind the Stone.

Let Them Eat Cake Wars

Food is always close to Eatsy's heart, he can run with a doughnut-powered sugar rush, but only for a few seconds. His three hearts of life can be restored by other yummy snacks growing among the bushes along the way. One useful feature of the page-flipping levels if that you can duck back to a previous screen to top up before fights, but falling leads to insta-death and restarting that section (again, and again, and again).

As Eatsy ventures across the Creampuff Mountains and into the Chocolate Mines, every creature he comes across offers a quick drawing challenge to help fill out the game's bestiary, with each providing a tiny hint or nugget of information about the realm. There's also the sheer cuteness of beasts like the Pastry Pups and cocoa harvesting cows (golems apparently, but they look like cows to me!)

In battle, Eatsy's moves are limited to swinging his sword and blocking with a shield or running away. This feels slightly clunky, perhaps due to his weight, but isn't the most fun aspect of the game. Also, anything involving a CheeseBomber and explosive crates is decidedly unfun. But, a few missteps aside, exploring and being drawn in by Sir Eatsalot's hand-crafted charm is great fun and well worth the price.

Depending on how patient you are, or how likely to smash up your Vita against a wall, you can probably knock off a point or two from my score. That's due to the tricky combo sections and endless back-and-forth which may spoil your enjoyment. But, I'm entranced by Eatsy's and Hysterica's antics, the funny animations, and love the overall feel of the game and appreciate the clear effort that's gone into creating something that's nearly awesome!

Score: 8/10
More Reviews
Price: £9.49 (PSN)
Developer/publisher Behind the Stone
File size 580MB
Progress: Manic Miner!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Spacejacked gets a Vita gameplay trailer

Run and gun, and do tower defence, pixel style with the Vita's latest great-looking indie. Spacejacked from Rotten Mage was firsr shown running on Vita around 18 months ago and looks like it should be launching soon. The PS4 version is out next week with final optimisation on the Vita version currently underway.

All good games have a hero just called Dave, he's a lone technician in charge of protecting the spaceship from being overrun by aliens while it prepares to warp.

Cosmic Star Heroine lights up Vita next week

We've been talking about and looking forward to Cosmic Star Heroine for almost five years now. Finally, after an incredible amount of effort by the small Zeboyd team, we have a release date. 24th April for EU and the US!

It is Cross Buy so if you have the PS4 version, which came out just over a year ago, will be a free add for your Vita. Check out the latest Kickstarter update post for the official news. Chasing up some Vita images or video (now added!).

Friday, April 13, 2018

Review: Reverie

New Zealand, home to great wine, a relaxed way of life and now a great Vita adventure in the guise of Reverie. By focusing on the local wildlife and flora close to Rainbite's heart, this game is truly distinctive from the herd, a perfect slice of pixel portable adventuring.

Announced a little over a year ago, the developers kept an open dialogue with Vita fans on Twitter. This has helped to build plenty of interest while avoiding spoiling the adventure or dimming the excitement with information overload. Not bad for a young developer. I won't ruin the overall story, about a family of arguing fishermen, but it is handled with fun and a dab of pathos.

You start off in bed, as young boy Tai, on holiday in a seemingly idyllic little village of Harikoa with its store, arcade, beach and some pretty scenery. A cluster of NPCs help set the scene and give you the odd clue, when it soon becomes apparent that ancient forces are at work.

Lost in a Reverie

These lead you outside the town, into the woods or plains, to new islands and beyond, where strange people wait to help give you small tasks. We're in quick and simple find-this-do-that and keep the item territory, but it is so charmingly set up, there a strong sense of welcome and strong desire to play on.

The island of  Toromi is populated with cute little critters that can do a little damage, who's been attacked by a cockatoo before? Handily, there's a strong supply of pizza and ammo in wooden crates to keep health and weapons topped up. The vivid scenery is enlivened with smoke, waving flowers, bugs and scudding clouds, all adding to the charm.

Starting with a cricket bat, you can give the bugs and the game's true enemies a good thrashing, while a yo-yo, dart gun and other weapons provide variety and a way to solve the game's many switch-based puzzles. Other items like a snorkel and heelies help you get around new areas, key to finding the feathers that are a part of one of the larger sub-quests.

The mechanics of Reverie

For a newbie developer, the internal workings of the game work very well, it saves automatically at regular intervals, and teleports can prevent some slogging around. If you do something clever there's a brief moment of Atari Lynx-like zoom to highlight what you did!

Everything happens in short bursts, with no long drawn-out conversations or spirit-sapping battles, across the compact world. With a constant supply of trophies throughout the game, plus fun little mini-games to act as diversions between the main six dungeons, it never feels weighed down.

With a down-home charm all of its own, Reverie has the emotional attachment of a visual novel in the form of an adventure that warms the soul and brings a smile to any gamers' face.

If I had to moan, and its a review, so I get at least one whinge, the dungeon waypoints on the map pop up and are never really explained as to why you need to go there. That's something that could be tightened up with a few simple sentences and would add a little more depth to the NPCs.

Also, pick-ups can be left in inaccessible places by dying creatures, which the odd time might be a pain, but luckily are generally not vital. Those aside, if you're looking for a short, eloquent, world, that's full of imagination and discovery, this hits the spot. If you think early Zelda meets Undertale, that's a neat Venn diagram for Reverie with the very best of both worlds.

Score: 9/10
More Reviews
Price: £11.99(PSN)
Developer/publisher Rainbite
File size 211MB
Progress: Cryptic clues!

Persona Dancing Moon and Star Night opening movies

Has Atlus run out of characters to show off? Guessing so, as we now have the full opening movies for both Persona 3 Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5 Dancing Star Night. Bringing more disco joy to the Persona series, the games are out in just over a month in Japan, and I guess we have to pray really hard that we get a Vita western release.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Deep Ones dives on to the Vita

Out now on PSN, Spectrum-styled 8-bit adventure Deep Ones is just £5 on PSN from Sometimes You. As the commander of a wrecked submarine, you have to adventure to repair and regain control of your vessel while the creatures of the deep seas try to have you for lunch.

With a splash of Lovecraft and some philosophy, there's plenty to like about the game, with its moody lighting provided by creatures. Developed by Burp! Studios, expect to see more of these really retro games hit the Vita as relatively easy ports. 

Play with your Astrals in The Lost Child

NIS America continues to churn out the JRPGs with The Lost Child headed our way in June. This new trailer shows off the Astrals, conquered enemies you can use for your own powers and skills. The game failed to set the Japanese charts alight, so any western interest should help them recoup some of the development cost.

Fate/Extella Link heads west digitally

Not sure I can go through all this again, Marvelous has announced a digital release for Fate/Extella Link in the west. Please just release the game without the tedious drip feed of a trillion characters/costume trailers and whatever else the Japanese PR department sends your way.

Picking up where the story ended in Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star, Fate/Eextella Link expands the roster of playable Servants with 10 new legendary heroes added to the original selection of 16, including Charlemagne, pictured in action.

These new Servants hail from other entries in the Fate series and include the likes of Astolfo, Scàthach, and Francis Drake. The high-speed action gameplay of Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star continues with improved visuals and new battle mechanics in both single-player and an added multiplayer mode supporting 4-on-4 online battles.

Players will also be able to move freely around their new base camp—a medieval cathedral suspended in the sky—and interact with Servants to build bonds with them, taking on side missions that further flesh out their backstories.

Release date to be confirmed, although a tweet mentions winter.

Metal Max Xeno final trailer spins its tracks

UPDATE: NIS America has just confirmed the western release is PS4 only, in the teaser clip below. This comes as an immense bummer, if not a surprise. Commence your campaigning now! I'd like NISA to put a price tag on a Vita version and run a Kickstarter just to see if there's genuine interest in them doing it!

Original story: With the absence of anything like a Freedom Wars sequel or spin off, Japan is light on modern team battling games, so perhaps Metal Max Xeno will fill the void.

The bubbly cast battle massive mechs in their tanks, and dismount for some light RPGing. Check out the latest trailer from Kadokawa, the game is out next week.

The game got a decent Famitsu review, scoring 8/8/8/7 [31/40], but are enough fans around from the early 90s of the original release to make an impact on the chart?

Super Robot Wars X continues to sell in Japan

Super Robot Wars X is the only Vita game in town, well the Japanese Media Create chart, sticking in the top 10 and selling another 6,500 to cross the 60K mark. Given the PS4 version is just over the 100K mark, that's still a sizeable contribution.

Looks like a quiet week on the hardware front with only the Switch continuing to sell well. Vita drops down to below 3K, the first time its ever been that low at 2,929. Even it bounces around the 3K line for the rest of the year, that should keep Sony churning units out.

Metal Max Xeno is out next week so we might have a blip the following chart to see if people still buy Vita around a specific game.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Enjoy the music of Liar Princess and the Blind Prince

What's the sony, Miss Wolf? The theme for Nippon Ichi's Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is performed by Akiko Shikata and sets the theme for the game's dark cartoon shenanigans rather nicely. She's worked on Ceil No Surge and other soundtracks. Check out the original trailer.

Chasm falling onto Vita this summer

Bit Kid's Chasm is a gorgeous looking pixel adventure coming to the Vita this summer. An old-school action adventure game, you play a new recruit on your first mission which leads down a closed mine close to where townsfolk have been vanishing from.

Fighting supernatural creatures, you must restore peace to the Kingdom, exploring the depths and using all the equipment that comes to hand. More info a US PSN blog post, but the game features:

  • Six massive areas to explore, procedurally-assembled from hand-crafted rooms
  • Challenging retro gameplay and authentic pixel art (384x216 native res.)
  • Massive bosses and new abilities to discover with lots of otherwise inaccessible areas
  • Customize your character by equipping armor, weapons, and spells

The Lost Child found in June

NIS America has confirmed a date for the digital release of The Lost Child on Vita. 19th/22nd June is when you can indulge in another bout of RPG fun with a sci-fi edge to it. The game pretty much bombed in Japan, so the developer will be hoping for some western love.

When occult journalist Hayato Ibuki gets caught between a war of cataclysmic proportions, he must capture mythological and arcane creatures known as Astrals to fight alongside him to solve the mystery of the mystical device bestowed onto him by a strange girl. Fight through massive dungeons called Layers and decide the fate of the world...

Friday, March 30, 2018

Penny Punching Princess Review

Wow, a Japanese game that isn't an RPG, visual novel or quirky murder mystery. Instead, Penny Punching Princess takes the barest of role-playing elements and mixes it into what looks like a clever little fighting game.

With sparkling visuals and lashings of cash, it feels lively, has a boisterous sense of fun (thanks to the snarky narration) and is well paced, with more focus on the action than endless banter. One thing that's not clear is her name, is she Princess Penny, just Princess? Whatever!

Broke, due to her dad's gambling issues. The time is right for "Penny" to reclaim her crown, largely by raking in cash, bribing all and sundry, helping her avoid unnecessary fights and building up her combat skills.

Penny Pinching Pugilist

Each level sees the Princess set out hunting treasure chests. Every few steps, spikes pop up sealing her into an area where monsters appear. Bash them about a bit, with light or strong attacks, and they drop some loot. Sping the right stick when they are "Break" stunned, and you get even more to boost your overall ranking. Throw in dodges to avoid attacks, and hidden skills or special attacks, and the action gets pretty frenetic.

Other hazards, flames, spikes, cannons, hammers and so on add to the chaos and slow you down. Rather than fight everyone, you can bribe a more powerful beast to your cause, and summon them to do some random damage. The more powerful they are, the more money is needed, and there's a charge meter on the bribe calculator, so you can only toss out the brown envelopes sparingly.

You can also bribe the environmental relics, so a triple-fire cannon can become a useful ally against the bosses. Health portals are few and far between, but you can at least make it through the early levels before the game's issues become apparent.

One useful character, a heart-shaped creature, "Life Man" provides you with a rare source of bonus health, so is well worth paying off. Also, a random feature called Coin Miracle lets you cash in some credits for health, a powerful attack, a brief outbreak of gigantism and other bonuses.

Issues Don't Make This Mint

While PPP looks great fun at first, a few issues soon become apparent. The combat controls are next to useless, and Penny seems to get stuck doing one move repeatedly or refusing to turn around. There's also the fact that one hit can knock you into something else in the smaller battlezones, doing large amounts of damage rather unfairly.

Also, many battles can be won simply be standing in a corner and pummelling away, which surely wasn't the developer's intention. Finally having to do calculator entry, and then trying to tap the right monster (you can use the controls, but it still doesn't help) in a crowded battle is one of the dumber game mechanics I've seen. It can often get you killed and just isn't fun, there's no excuse for it.

Back at the Castle

Between levels, Penny can boost her stats with skill points, improve her armour through collectibles, but none of that really helps make the game better. There's no joy to be had growing a heard of beasts you can't do much with.

Later in the game, Isabella joins the fun as a long-range attacker who's a bit handier in battle, but it doesn't really change the dynamics all that much. With the game rapidly running out of ideas, this is a neat-looking engine that you could make a great Gauntlet-type game out of, but PPP fails to maximise on it.

A shame, as it looks stylish, has a great, sometimes emotive soundtrack, but is hampered by dumb design decisions, and in the end, just isn't all that fun!

Score: 6/10
More Reviews
Price: £TBC (PSN)
Publisher: NIS America
File size 933MB
Progress: Broke and no interest!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Countdown to PS+ Vita Death: 99 Vidas and Q*Bert Rebooted are your April games

PlayStation Plus managers are counting down the months until they don't have to worry about fobbing Vita owners off with minnow games.

Just to prove the point, we have the hapless Q*Bert effort from a couple of years back, along with the newer, and rather better-looking, 99 Vidas beat 'em up from Brazilian team QUByte. The games are available on the 3rd of April.

Vita sales firm in Japan

Vita sales were almost identical to last week according to the Media Create chart, with another 3,600-odd happy Vita owners out there. Hopefully, it'll stay at that level for a while to calm developers' nerves.

On the software front, Attack on Titan 2 was down at No. 18, having sold another 5,000 copies to pass the 20K barrier on Vita. Sword-wielding love adventure Otomate title Ikemen Sengoku sneaked in at No. 16 selling 6,750 copies - a decent haul considering the number of these games out there. 

Last week's figures.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Rogue Aces cleared for take off

April 12 will see a fine squadron take to the air in defence of the realm. Despite the PS4 logo flashed across the front of the video, Rogue Aces is very much on the Vita.

Mixing and mashing the whole Luftrausers, Harrier Attack and many other side-shooters elements, it is procedural so offers plenty of varied challenge. There's a realistic flight model to add to the feel of an aerial ballet. And, with the gung-ho or stiff upper lip character voices provided by Marc Silk it sounds bags of fun.

More on the PSN blog.

Friday, March 23, 2018

More western releases skip the Vita, the spiral tightens

With news that Spike Chunsoft are bringing Steins Gate Elite and Zanki Zero west, but not to the Vita, it looks like another developer has given up on Sony's little console. Still, Spike gave us a good life, so there's no point moaning at them.

Presumably the economics don't add up with the extra PEGI/ESRB ratings, the Sony approvals and the cost of some extra coding, ignoring the chance of a physical release. Hopefully, PQube or someone else will pick some of the games up, but if not imports are an option, or go buy these great titles on a bigger console!

So, go and play the original Steins;Gate (again) and the Danganronpa titles and all the other little bundles of joy (like the Shiren and Conception games) that Spike and its slightly unhinged developers sent our way.  Their memories will live long!

Annoyingly, this looks like a late decision, as the video for Steins Gate Elite still have the Vita mentioned.

New Metal Max Xeno trailer with added dinosaurs

Kadokawa has teased with some recent Vita screenshots of Metal Max Xeno on Twitter, now its back to the big glossy trailers with more tank battling action. This time, the goodie vehicles are taking on a range of rapidly growing monster mechs, often bolted to dinosaurs as if they'd never heard of the Zoids license.

Here's the previous trailer from the end of last year, the game is out mid-April in Japan, still no word of a western Vita release.

A Vita trailer for bitDungeon Plus, out next week

Developed by Dolores Entertainment, and brought to the Vita and PS4 by Hidden Trap, this fast-paced retro roguelike combines the randomized loot of Diablo and the fast action combat of Zelda.

bitDungeon Plus features randomized dungeons in a pixelated world plenty of enemies, loot boxes and massive final bosses! The difficulty curve will provide new challenges on each new adventure.
The PS4 version has co-op play and is Cross-Buy with the Vita edition which comes our way, as the team says, "Because owners of this little beast deserve it!"

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Aksys welcomes you to a summer of mystery

We already knew the games were headed west, but Aksys has bookended its little visual novel fest with a neat campaign, the Summer of Mystery.

Three upcoming interactive fiction titles feature adventure, intrigue and suspense, including Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly in April, 7’scarlet in May, and Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk in June.

Featuring creepy towns, mysterious mansions and ancient feuds, each phyiscal release will include a collectible character card set inside the package, and fans who purchase all three titles can get an exclusive set of collector pins.

In Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, a girl wakes up in a mysterious mansion with no memory of who she is or how she got there, while in 7’scarlet, Ichiko visits a strange village to look for clues about her missing brother.

The heroine of Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk must find a treasure to bring peace to her town and unlock the mystery of her own past. A popular genre for young adults in Japan, otome (interactive fiction) games feature deep character development and engaging plots in which the player’s choices influence the storyline. Rich anime-style artwork and cinematics draw the reader further into the story as they create their own adventure each time they play the game.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Attack on Titan 2 and Winning Post 8 chart for Vita in Japan

Vita sales took a sharp downturn last week by 1,800 sales down to 3,644 as some games actually pop up in the Media Create chart. The numbers are kind of what I was expecting, still the previous weeks' higher sales were a welcome shot in the arm.

On the games front, Attack on Titan 2 makes a fairly scattershot entry, but still doing decent numbers on the Vita, selling:

No. 3 PS4 - 28,480
No. 4 Switch - 22, 941
No. 8 Vita - 15, 261

Also out across several formats, Winning Post 8 sold:

No. 11 PS4 - 8,459
No. 17 Vita - 3,837
No. 18 Switch - 3,745

Full data here, last week's figures here. Over in Famitsu-land, the latest review scores are out with SRWX topping the list ahead of a bunch of visual novels.

Super Robot Wars X 33/40
Memories Off: Innocent Fille 32 (video below)
Enkan no Memoria: Kakera Tomoshi 29
Galtia V Edition 29

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Penny-Punching Princess trailer is full of character

Penny-Punching Princess, an isometric brawler, sees the poor princess dethroned and having to fight her way back up the rankings to take charge once more. And why fight, when you can bribe the enemy bosses? And even former princesses have friends, so meet her silver-tongued beetle butler, Sebastian, and the smelly-but-sweet zombie Isabella.

Looks like a lot of deviousness in NIS America's quirky title, arriving in early April.

Monster Slayers to deck the Vita

Digerati and Nerdook Productions are bringing Monster Slayer our way soon. A rogue-like, deck-building, RPG adventure, players create a hero and choose a path through the perilous Northern Valley to defeat minions, monsters, overlords and the legendary Harbinger to become a true Monster Slayer.

Key Features include:

  • Strategically shape your deck as you acquire new cards from merchants, treasure chests, and allies
  • Collect fame from each run to unlock new abilities that can be used by future heroes
  • Every playthrough is different: levels, enemy encounters and loot are randomly generated
  • 12 different character classes: Rogue, Ranger, Knight, Barbarian, Cleric, Wizard, Assassin, Beastmaster, Apothecary, Brute, Monk, and Necromancer
  • Recruit companions to join you on your quest and make use of their special abilities
  • Equip your hero with stat-boosting loot to improve the chances of victory
  • Beat the game to unlock the ultimate challenge: Legendary Mode
  • Inspired by the much-loved deck-building RPG, Dream Quest, created by Peter Whalen (Hearthstone)

Sir Eatsalot finally chows down on a gameplay trailer

Having teased us for months with art and animated GIFs, Behind the Stone has finally got round to unveiling a proper trailer for the Portly Knight's game. Sir Eats' finds himself in all sorts of predicaments, showing a game that won't take itself too seriously. The food-frenzy adventure is out next month, physical and digital, with an Asian release just confirmed.

Sign up for details on the limited-to-2000-units physical edition here thanks to PlayAsia.

Japan shows off a little Remote Play love

Maybe this is why Vita sales keep perking up in Japan? Is Sony finally realising that the Vita can help keep PS4 owners onside when it comes to the onslaught of Switch? Check out this Fist of the North Star Remote Play demo.

Sure, just one video won't make much of an impact, but if there's a constant stream of them, reminding Japan that it works, and is still in the stores, every little could help.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Vita sales still over 5K in Japan last week

Vita sales dip a little in Japan, down to 5,467 according to the latest Media Create data. But are still batting well above recent norms and averages. Again, there are no games in the chart so no real idea why this is happening. Still, its good news as Sony will have to continue to make the console a little longer to meet demand, and developers will churn out more games.

Last week's figures

Epic new Attack on Titan 2 trailer

Sure, the game is not coming west on Vita, not even digital-only. But Attack on Titan 2 will be an easy import for people who played the first one. Here's the latest trailer from Japan as it hits the shelves, out in the west on everything but Vita next week.

Check out the latest Vita version gameplay here.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bullet hell Vasara a possibility for Vita

2019 seems a mighty long way away, but Brazilian developer and publisher QuByte is hinting that the pair of Vasara shooters (2000-era Raiden goes bullet hell with manga overtones) might come to the Vita. And, it'd be great to have another game that takes advantage of the Vita in portrait mode.

Already confirmed for Switch and other consoles, it'd be a good pair to have, even if I'm probably crap at them, although I'd be more than happy with direct ports of proper Raiden or Gunbird. Anyway, will stick it on the list of possibility for now until we hear some firmer news.

Get your rogue on with Bit Dungeon Plus

Another Indie Studios Bit Dungeon Plus is a to-the-gills version of the original PC with monsters galore in a roguelike pixel world. You'll throw melee and magic attacks against the many enemies, with loads of weapons to collect and the essential grind to help you survive the later levels. The game has been on every platform ever, so should fit well on the Vita.

Loot your Vita in the Devious Dungeon

If these pixels look a little familiar, its because Devious Dungeon is from Woblyware, the same people behind Omega Strike in the previous article. Publishing via Ratalaika, Devious Dungeon is a medieval focused action platformer. Release date to be announced soon.

As a generic knightly hero, you must venture deep within the dungeons eliminating the monsters, collecting loot, and leveling up and upgrade your gear. Features include 65 randomised levels over five worlds, RPG-style upgrades, boss battles and more.

Omega Strike takes aim at the Vita

Steam release Omega Strike from Woblyware is headed to the Vita, judging by a recent trophy listing.  In true eighties-retro style, our bandana-wearing hero and his friends are out to defeat Doctor Omega and his mutant armies.

Omega Strike is a pixel-fest of an action-adventure game with multiple playable characters, set across an interconnected world, loaded with monstrous enemies and hidden treasures, plus new abilities for your heroes. Each character has unique abilities which you must utilize to overcome the deadly traps and enemies that roam the world of Omega Strike.

Attack on Titan 2's Annihilation mode on Vita

Out in Japan this week, check out Attack on Titan 2's multiplayer modes including Annihilation mode, as played by a couple of the voice actresses. The game supports 4 vs 4 players who can rack up scores for their team by taking down the big chaps. Good to see Tecmo happy to show off the Vita version!

Friday, March 9, 2018

A good look at Super Robot Wars X gameplay

Enjoy nearly 15 minutes of gameplay of Super Robot Wars X just put up by Bandai in Japan. That's if you ignore a couple of minutes of chit-chat at the start - hope there's a Skip button! Beyond that, there's a good look at the tactical map, set up screens and the combat action between the quirky bots and mech-type tanks.

UPDATED: Added a newer Asian English video with 10 minutes of gameplay and subtitles to go alongside the Japanese original.

NeuroVoider is one for the fans

With miniscule to modest sales, the developers still turning up to bat for the Vita are mostly doing it for the love of the handheld and the community. Remember that when it comes to your buying decisions.

The latest labour-of-love from Flying Oak is NeuroVoider, the twin-stick RPG, it looks like a must-buy and the developers have little reason other than passion to bring it our way! We should get news of a release date next week.

UPDATE: Release date confirmed for 14 March! Price, £6.99

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Retro classic Bounder to bounce on the Vita

In the eight-bit days, pretty much anything could be a hero, which is why we got Bounder, a game all about a tennis ball, trying to boing its way to freedom. The top-down game, from Gremlin Graphics if memory serves, was pretty unique for the time.

The 8-bit original versions will soon land on mobile, and now the developer has gained the rights for console versions, with the Vita a target offering a new up-to-date edition plus the originals.

Naturally, this sends most older gamers scurrying back to other games we'd love to see including Wizball, Uridium, Fred, California Games, SpinDizzy and so on. Many have been remade on PC, but it would be great to get some of these on the Vita's OLED!

Vita sales shoot up in Japan

Not sure why yet, but the Vita sold over 6,500 units last week in Japan, beating sales of the PS4 Pro and the 2DS LL! There were no new Vita games in the Media Create chart, so perhaps there was a sale on to generate those extra 1,500 units over the previous week. Or, maybe lots of PS4 owners want to remote play Monster Hunter World, which has sold 7 million copies WW and 2 million in Japan!

Enjoy the good news as it lasts, with the Switch and PS4 romping ahead. Dragon Quest Builders arrived on Switch at No. 2 selling 28,400 copies compared to Vita's launch sales of 178,016 back in 2016.

Or, perhaps lots of gamers are getting ready for Four Knight Princess Training Story (NIS) out this week or Attack on Titan 2, out next week. Seems unlikely, given that AoT2 looks way better on every other device and FKPTS is also on Switch, but you never know!

Last week's figures

Review Midnight Deluxe

I'm naturally suspicious of a game that gives you a silver and gold trophy just for your very first move! And to grab a platinum in under an hour, that smacks of someone trying to sell their game as an easy set of achievements.

Ignoring that, Midnight Deluxe, a sort-of-successor to 36 Fragments of Midnight, is an illuminated game of touchscreen golf, trying to flick your glowing cube (actually a fairy|) into a target hole. Your shots must overcome natural landscape obstacles, pointy fences, whirring saws, smiling fluffy monsters and lasers - the usual golf course hazards.

With no story, plot or cutscenes, you play Over 70 levels, each a single screen, aiming to finish in the least amount of shots possible. That's tricky as the touchscreen controls lack the sensitivity required to play well. You can do full power or little chip shots easily, but anything mid-range is in the lap of the gods. On some levels, you need to take repeated shots quickly to avoid rising spikes or moving objects where the game becomes pure pot luck.

The challenge does ramp after the 40th level, when you get the platinum! Diving through laser grids and multiple switches add to the challenge, but progress does feel more like luck than skill. Even so, Midnight Deluxe is deeply lacking in ambition,

Petite Games have failed to provide any secrets to find, no variation in colour scheme, no bonuses, no nothing! Sure, its cheap, and a spot of exclusive fun for Vita and Switch owners, but not even a level designer? What exactly is Deluxe here? Okay, the game is a package of a couple of older PC games, with some extra levels tacked on, but it still feels mighty empty.

Score 5/10
More Reviews
Price £3.99/$4.99
Size: 97MB
Publisher: Ratalaika
Developer: Petite
Progress: Finished

Monday, March 5, 2018

Gintama Rumble DLC pack unmasked

Still playing your import Gintama Rumble? Bandai has some fun DLC on the way with a host of paid-for assist characters to play as in that certain musou style. Check out some Vita gameplay from the January launch and remember the Asian version has English subs if you want to get a copy!

Japanese Attack on Titan 2 TV spot

Pretty sure there's an asterisk in there somewhere, with "PS Vita version looks  nothing like this!" Even so, the Attack on Titan sequel from Koei Tecmo is out next week in Japan, and should shift a few copies on Vita. Especially exports, as the game won't get a western Vita release. There's some Vita gameplay from a January post, if you can stand the pain of pop-up it doesn't look too bad.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Rice Digital offering a Muv-Luv complete set

If you love your Muv-Luv then this collector's edition from Rice Digital is for you. Muv-Luv contains both the ‘Extra' and ‘Unlimited' storylines, while Muv-Luv Alternative completes the trilogy. The CE features:

  • Muv-Luv & Muv-Luv Alternative for PlayStation Vita (PEGI-rated UK/EU versions or ESRB-rated US versions)
  • A premium Muv-Love collector's slipcase to store both games
  • 6 x Muv-Luv art cards 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review Deadbolt

Wow, this is a change of pace from Hopoo. We've gone from zipping about in wide open alien tundra to the cramped quarters of undead zombies who need to get punted firmly into the afterlife. That makes this a very different game for anyone hoping for something similar to Risk of Rain.

But that's a good thing, just because it borrows from the same minimalist pixel style, doesn't mean we need the same game. Also fairly minimal is your life, even as a reaper of souls. Just the one hit and you are done for.  That's why some planning, luck and quick reactions are required, or, at a push, there's lots of furniture to take cover behind.

Each house, disco or den of zombies, vampires, skeletons and other assorted undead is broken down into rooms, some dark, some lit, others with deadhead security cameras. Some have vents you can smoke through to move around, while you can turn lights on or off. Adding to the spooky atmosphere is a great soundtrack that varies between lounge lizard and gothic gloom.

Aiming with the left trigger held down and firing with the right means you can shoot out lights, aim upstairs at targets and so on. In some places, there are extra objectives such as burning drugs, collecting items, while some trophies require using certain tactics. Distractions include microwaves that go "ping," knocking at doors and a few more to help set traps.

The trick is to sneak around as much as you can, throwing knives is a stealthy kill option, and take the creatures out room by room, without alerting the others. If you do make too much noise-of-death-happening, then others will come running and you either need to have enough ammo to cope, or somewhere good to hide.

Luck comes in at that point, sometimes the enemies will trap you leaving you to go out in a blaze of glory, stabbing futilely with a blade, or you restart and try again. Sometimes you'll find a cassette that helps explain the tale, with a light yet effective backdrop to your nocturnal activities.

For each level you complete, there's a reward in souls, which you can trade with a dodgy geezer down at the docks for better weapons. Handily, you can change your load-out from your collection in the boot of your car at the start of each mission, giving you some leeway in tactics. If you're crap at a level, then bad luck - all you can do is try different weapons and tactics until something works.

Packed with cunning puzzles and new threats or traps for each chapter of the story, this is a tight and focused puzzle/blaster that continues Hopoo's run of fine form. Sure, its frustrating when you have to shoot, close door, pick up other gun, open door, shoot, vanish into vent in about one second, but these are the kind of hoops soul reapers have to jump through.

Score: 8/10
More reviews
Price £7.99
Developer: Hopoo
File Size 187MB
Progress: Disco

PlayStation Plus for Vita ends in a year

We've all known the pickings are getting pretty slim for Vita owners subscribing to PlayStation Plus. Now Sony is putting us out of our misery with a one-year alarm call for the end of games on the service. Running from November 2012, when it landed in a blaze of glory with Uncharted and Gravity Rush to March 2019 isn't a bad innings.

Following the likes of PlayStation Now and PlayStation Minis to the grave, announcing March's PS+ games, the new PS blog post has a beginning-of-the-end postscript:
We also have an important service update to share. Starting next year on 8th March 2019, the PS Plus monthly games line-up will focus on PS4 titles and no longer include PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita titles.

That won’t affect any games already downloaded prior to 8th March 2019. Those games will still be part of your PS Plus games library as long as you remain a member. So its pretty much time to get a PS4 or a PS4 Portable if Sony ever announces such a device. 
For reference, this month's Vita games are Claire: Extended Cut and Bombing Busters (both for PS Vita and PS4), showing just how close to the bottom of the barrel we are. Claire is pretty good, but BB isn't.

Hopefully, Sony will try to go out on a high with a few remaining high profile games to tempt people.

Vita sales over 5K in Japan

Yes, its small change and still well down on last year, but the Vita continues to tick upward in sales in Japan. That's according to the latest Media Create data where it sold 5.017 last week. The longer it stays around this level, the longer Sony will have to make the damn console and developers will keep popping out the usual fare. And perhaps taking on a few more risks or bringing over western indie imports to see what sticks.

On the software side, Project Tristars sneaks in at No. 16 with 4,300 sales but mobile port Haruka Ultimate does even better, in at No. 10 with 8,800 sales.

Last week's figures

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Coma Recut wakes up on the Vita

The Coma: Recut from Devespresso is a 2D horror adventure that has popped up on Signature Edition's store with a nothing but a 2018 release date. Originally a 2017 PC release, in this South Korean game, you must evade a relentless killer at school and survive long enough to uncover the big mystery.

Following the likes of Home, Coma is a survival-horror where as dopey student Youngho, you're trapped in the school halls, but far from alone. After drifting asleep during an exam he wakes at night, pursued by a psychotic killer. With lots of spooky lighting and chase scenes, the next door you open could be your last!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night trailers

Its the weekend, so get grooving to the latest Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night trailers, showing off Aigis, with Elizabeth welcoming us to the Dancing Zone in the second clip. Three months to go until the Japanese launch!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hakuoki Edo Blossoms trailer ramps up the inaction

Thank heavens the endless parade of character stills is over! Here's a trailer showing off those same stills with some moving Japanese text! Yes, I know its hard to hype up a visual novel, but Idea Factory is really stretching this out.  The game is out mid-March and I really want to try it, but don't need every simpering smile or raised-eyebrow of each character rammed in my face!

UPDATE: Okay, literally as I hit publish, Idea Factory just pulled the video (both NA and EU versions), no idea why! UPDATE to the update: Fixed now!

So you want to buy a PS Vita in 2018?

The PS Vita is six years old now, making it a relic in technology terms, but gamers still love it and are snapping Japanese imports or second-hand western models up, long since Sony stopped distributing them! Some are new to the world of Vita, others are on their second or third trip back to Vita Island, for some reason people just can't stay away!

Sony won't talk about the Vita, bar the very rare game post on the PlayStation blog, so many people might think it is officially dead. That's despite a vibrant little developer and a growing dedicated fan base. The Vita might not be for everyone, but it has the best gaming community since the Dreamcast. And it annoys the hell out of Sony every time someone buys one, so go on! The bastards couldn't even be bothered to remember its birthday.

Of course, you could get a Nintendo Switch with a stackful of games announced every day for it, but everyone has one of them, (ahem!) Rather than take the word of a true-believer like me, voice-of-reason Erica Griffin does a great job explaining why you should buy one!

If you're searching for a new Vita, either as an indie hit machine, retro box, or for Remote Play then you can still find them on eBay, from Amazon third-party sellers, and second-hand stores. The good news is there are plenty of all models still available, the bad news is the price is going up as they become a collector's item.


Since 2014, all Vita "slim" models have had an LCD display, if you can find an original 1000-class model new, then that has a blacker, brighter OLD screen with more pop, but is unusable in bright daylight. But the overall difference isn't a massive one. The newer models also have better battery life, standard USB charging port and 1GB of memory built in.

Vita Memory Cards

Despite their outrageous pricing, Sony has never noticeably cut the cost of memory cards for the Vita. The rule is to buy the biggest you can afford, a 32-GB model will store plenty of games (I have around 50 on mine). The 64-GB models are Japanese imports as they were never officially released here, there are more reports of those corrupting than smaller versions, but that's likely as people are more upset about the effort to rebuild their collection.

Amazon has a range of cards or bundled cards with download codes for games, like the Disney or Mega packs (UPDATE: Most of the bundles are now unavailable) to spice things up a bit.

Grips and Docks

The Vita has a range of cases from hard plastic to canvas. There are also some grips available that can make it more comfortable to use, and add triggers to save tapping the rear screen on some games, definitely easier for PS4 Remote Play. They range from dirt cheap to modestly priced, just remember to check they are for your model of Vita - some generic types cater for both.

My launch day model has survived a few drops and bumps, but you definitely need a comfy case for road trips and travel, also somewhere to keep game cards is very handy to save rooting through your game cases.

Games and Content

I won't tell you what games to buy, there probably over 1,100 games that play on the Vita. From PS one (100+), PlayStation Portable (250+) and Vita (750+) games available, depending on your region. Since it doesn't get the latest big-name games, you can spend plenty of time diving in and out of the back catalogue, with many games available cheap in retail and PSN sales.

When it comes to buying for children, the many LEGO games are perfect choices, as are Minecraft and Dragon Quest Builders for keeping them occupied with fun construction and adventuring. Ambient arcade games like Flower and Entwined also have appeal, while the likes of Fez, Lumo and Thomas Was Alone will appeal to older children.

Check my reviews to find games that match your interests. Physical copies could well increase in value over time, and will boost the value of your Vita collection if you ever decide to sell it. Buy those if possible, especially if they are Limited Run, EastAsiaSoft or other collector's titles with small production runs. Going physical also saves you messing about with lots of expensive memory cards as that collection grows.

The Vita is still very much a viable proposition for a gaming fan who's not just after the latest Call of Duty. With a gold mine of quality titles, it has attracted most of the best PC indies from Papers, Please and Spelunky with Stardew Valley and others on the way. Note, the Vita PSN store seems to be built on the same back-end technology as the PS4's, so Sony is unlikely to ever close it outright, like it did with the PSP store (and even that is still accessible via PC).

Note, this is an update on a 2016 piece, if you think it seems familiar.