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! 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!)

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.

Rather than believe 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 the years, 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, this is an update on a 2016 piece, if you think it seems familiar.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Vita releases pop up in Japan's top 10 led by Idolish 7 Twelve Fantasia

The latest Media Create chart shows that Vita games can still sell. Idolish 7 Twelve Fantasia is the highest entry at No. 4 selling 21,500 which is a very good haul. The Vita version of Secret of Mana 2 manages almost 18K sales at No. 7. That's well below the PS4 version which saw almost double the sales at No. 2.

However, Virtual On vs A Certain Magical Index bombed out, selling only 9,200 on Vita for No. 16, again with half the sales of the PS4 version, which seems to be a trend. Those games help Vita sales rise to just under 5,000 units for the week,

Out this week is Your Four Knight Princesses Training Story from Nippon Ichi, which looks lively enough to generate some interest and is a three-way battle between Vita, Switch and PS4.

Monday, February 19, 2018

10 minutes of Super Robot Wars X gameplay

Didn't spot this in the flood of character trailers released at the end of last week, but here's a good look at the gameplay of Bandai's Super Robot Wars X, in among lots of characters and cutscenes. Apart from another Gundam titles, is this Bandai's last game for the Vita? The game is out at the end of March, so it won't take long to find out.

Wow, still a lot of interest in this series, the video has picked up over 150,000 views in 12 hours!

Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare lurching to Vita

It seems like more publishers are just throwing games out at the Vita with no effort at news or promotion. Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare is one of rash of titles suddenly getting trophy listings pretty much out of nowhere, and there's no sign of Russian dev Mobirate even acknowledging its existence (TBF, their social media hasn't updated since 2015/2017).

As a mobile game, we may be fearing the worst, but Dead Ahead: Zombie Warfare is pretty well rated and looks like fun, with distinctive characters and lots of weapons and skills. Among the expected games, other random titles like One Eyed Kutkh from Baba Yaga, and Deep Ones are popping up. A shame its more or less impossible to do any proper coverage, beyond putting up the original trailer, but do keep an eye out and let us know if you try these games out.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Liar Princess and the Blind Prince gets a first proper trailer

After the recent teasing, here's a proper look at NIS's Liar Princess and the Blind Prince in action. Just your typical fairy tale of a pointy-toothed princess, who's actually a wolf, who takes the job of guide a blind price through a prickly and dangerous wood.

To what purpose will probably be revealed only by playing the game, and what's her true nature? Still hoping on a western release, even though NISA never mentioned the game during its recent press event.

Trailer trash Friday, Fate Extella, Persona Dancing and Virtual On vs...

Hey, Japanese publishers, sort your video scheduling out, six in one batch? That's just dumb, anyway, here are the latest character clips from Fate Extella Link, the Persona Dancing games and Virtual On which I think is now out over there.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Two more undateables turn up for Hakuoki Edo Blossoms

After weeks of likely lads, it looks like Idea Factory is scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to love interest for Hakuoki Edo Blossoms.

First up is Hajime Saito who as the smirk of a convicted fraudster and a turn of phrase that would make Byron vomit a lung.

Or, as the PR blurb puts it: Saito is the quiet, “lone-wolf” who acts as the captain of the Shinsengumi’s 3rd Division. As a man of few words, he finds most conversation meaningless. His seriousness stems from his childhood.

Then there's Keisuke Sanan who's limp hair and weedy glasses scream "punch me in the face!" Apparently, he is logical and reserved (punch me harder!). He is obsessed with discovering an antidote for the Water of Life (and kick me in the groin!), because of his guilt over what he's done to the Fury Corps.

Yes, I'm getting quite bored of the drip-feed of drippy characters, just release the game already!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

PQube publishing Muv Luv and Alternative to complete the trilogy

PQube and ixtl are bringing Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative (Kickstarted to the tune of $2 million back in 2015) to western PS Vita owners in both Physical and Digital forms this summer.

Muv-Luv, which contains both the ‘Muv-Luv Extra' and ‘Muv-Luv Unlimited' storylines, is available on PS3, Xbox and others in Japanese, while Muv-Luv Alternative in the second PS Vita release completes the "trilogy".

Across the series, we follow the exploits of Takeru Shirogane – a young student caught between the affections of his childhood friend and a mysterious heiress – Muv-Luv seems like a simple romantic story.

However, as the Muv-Luv story soon become an epic sci-fi adventure pulling in some of the most exciting elements of the mecha genre, parallel universe and time travel. At over 150 hours play time, Muv-Luv represents one of the true powerhouses of the Visual Novel genre and a story that demands to be experienced.

Vita sales firm in Japan and latest Famitsu reviews

Vita sales remained surprisingly firm in Japan last week, with sales down just 80ish on a week where PS4 new releases and solid Switch performance dominate the Media Create chart. Related to the Vita, Dragon's Crown Pro entered the chart for PS4 at No. 11, selling 11,200 copies which, with strong original Vita sales might be enough interest for a proper sequel.

In bonus news, Toby Fox's Undertale is going down a storm in Japan, clocking up 100,000 digital sales across PS Vita and PS4 in six months. Search Undertale on Twitter and see the continuing rabid amount of Japanese interest. That means the May physical LE release should get a great response. Also hopefully, Japanese publishers 8-4 will be looking for other western titles it can sell over there.

Over in Famitsu, solid scores all round for a bunch of random-sounding Vita visual novels this week. The Vitamin X release is a 10th anniversary edition, while the others are the usual schoolgirl travails.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de Ultimate – 9/8/8/9 [34/40] (Koei) Visual novel
Vitamin X Destination – 8/8/8/8 [32/40] (D3) Visual novel
Kimi no Hitomi ni Hit Me – 7/8/8/8 [31/40] (Giga) Visual novel
Ouka Sabaki Zan – 8/8/8/7 [31/40] (Dramatic Create) Visual novel

Virtual On: A Certain Magical Index is out this week, which might help nudge Vita sales along.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Review - The Longest Five Minutes

Half-Minute Hero from Marvelous shook up how RPGs could be played with insane bursts of auto-battling on the PSP. Playing in the same time-juggling ballpark, The Longest Five Minutes takes a skewed approach, pitching you straight into the climactic boss battle with some giant demon taunting you and your crew.

Except Flash's memory has been wiped (is that an IT joke?)  leaving his party floundering in the face of their biggest enemy. To get things back on track, Flash has to remember what led up to these epic scenes, which sends us scampering back through time to various adventures where the story starts. All told from a view askew stance, there's of zipping back and forth through time to different places and the many quests that got us here.

In reality, that means lots of pixel-fun light RPG adventuring with short and long quests across a world linked by boats, trains and bridges. The approach means there's no need to care about leveling, up and hitting auto-equip and auto-battle will see you fight quickly and effectively.

Each part of your past has one key objective to meet and a few side quests that you might want to follow up on. In its fast 8-bit style, there's not much to look at, and most characters have a couple of quirky or funny lines to make them worth talking to, but its not exactly a chat-fest.

A texty adventure?

On the plus side, the text is a good size and very readable on the Vita's screen, so kudos to the developers for that. There's also a few pages in the digital manual to cover all the controls,  not that there's much to get wrong.

With landscapes and buildings ranging from the modern to classic RPG fodder, the simple pixel design is bright but effective. The pan-pipe led tunes are also charming and expansive, and perhaps the only major annoyance is a lack of signage or detail on the map screen.

The story itself has plenty of humour and little quirks to it, with enemies taking on the form of wherever you happen to be, which is better than generic rats or random creatures that many JRPGs throw at us.

Add in some mini-games and there's a lot to enjoy, but you could easily finish the adventure in under six hours. If you like plain and simple retro adventuring this is a decent effort, but if you a little more dash or verve to your adventuring, then probably better wait for something more menacing.

Also, the price is more expensive than Secret of Mana by £10, also out this week, and Under Night In-Birth, which is a bit of a joke! Something NISA needs to consider with any future releases. For a feature-packed LE, fine but not for a digital release.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £34.99(PSN)
Developer/publisher NIS America
File size 286MB
Progress: Across the sea

Saturday, February 10, 2018

NIS America confirms summer date for The Lost Child

While, as you'd expect, all the great news was for Switch owners from NISA's event overnight, we still get a snippet of news. Already confirmed for a western release The Lost Child, with a new subtitle, Walking Among Gods will be with us this summer.

Another typical Kakokawa RPG title, it features over 50 entities from myths and legends to capture, each with three unique forms to progress through! Over 250 skills to learn and distribute among your party of captured Astrals and massive dungeons with up to 99 floors of deathly dangers to conquer.

Friday, February 9, 2018

More Persona Dancing trailers, Yukari and Ryuji

The Persona 3/5 sunlight/moonlight/boogie marathon launch tease continues with a couple of new trailers for the latest groove-stars across the double release. Today's batch from Atlus brings us Yukari Takeba for Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night's Ryuji Sakamoto to get you in the mood for a disco weekend.

Persona 4 Dancing All Night was a solid 7/10 in my book, but these are supposed to have more story and better use of the characters, here's hoping!

Meet Souji and Shinpachi from Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms

Continuing the character bios in the run-up to the next month's launch of Idea Factory's Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms, meet Souji Okita and Shinpachi Nagakura.

A wry, quick-witted swordsman who is fiercely dedicated to the Shinsengumi. He travels with Chizuru to reunite with the Shinsengumi after being bedridden with wounds sustained after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, a battle where the Shinsengumi were forced to retreat from Kyoto to Edo. Okita's tough exterior eventually softens, and his appreciation for a well-lived life becomes more apparent.

Brash, hot-headed, and impulsive. Shinpachi Nagakura (on the left) is a musclehead more dedicated to his principles, rather than his loyalty to the Shinsengumi.  Nagakura is known to hang out with Sanosuke Harada in Shimabara.

Previous batch

Trailer trash Friday: Four Knight Princess, World End Syndrome and more

Arc System's World End Syndrome has an opening trailer, a particularly artistic affair. The girls of Mihate City are enamoured when a new chap turns up at their school, otherwise still don't know much about the game.

Four Knight Princesses still sounds like a porn film, but here's the latest candidate, Monomaria. The game looking like pretty spot on as an action title but I can do without all the overt characterisation as our heroines blather on in the middle of battle.

And, not that it really looks much different to previous efforts, here's the launch trailer for the latest Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2018.