Fight for the future

Polite Plea: After almost seven years and 7,000 articles, the number of stories is slowing down. Time and developers move on, but I'll always be posting, as the Vita becomes the new Dreamcast.
However, I do need a new Vita as my launch day model is starting to show its age. Please consider clicking an ad to help my new Vita fund!
Once reached, hopefully in time for Christmas, I will remove all adverts, leaving this island of Vita life an ad-free oasis!

Friday, November 24, 2017

VA-11 Hall-A hits the charts in Japan

Missed this earlier in the week as the first Media Create chart only goes up to 20, but the Famitsu chart digs a little deeper. And congratulations go to Sukeban Games, for VA-11 HALL-A reaching No. 29 and selling 1,968 copies, between 40% to 60% of its limited print run at ¥3.000.

The cyberpunk bar game generated plenty of interest and positivity with drinks in real bars and loads of fan art being created. That, a fantastic soundtrack and some true grass roots appreciation make this more than a modest success, not bad for a western indie on a dead platform that no one loves.

It gets to be on the same list as new Pokemon, Star Wars Battlefront and Dragon Quest releases. Can't wait for the EU release.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Raspberry Pi-powered Pip handheld nears KS success

I've had a lot of fun with my Rasberry Pi microcomputer over the years, as a media server, emulator and general gadget. The maker community gets another version soon, a Kickstarted portable is very nearly there, made by UK company Curious Chip.

Some 90% funded with three weeks to go it looks a bit like a Playmobil Switch, but can be used as a kid's creative tool or as a portable gaming unit, playing Minecraft and other games.

The components are more battery-life-friendly versions of the current third-generation Pi, with a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, 800*480 60Hz screen, SD card storage and detachable controllers.

It might not be a modern Linux game player, but could make fun little emulator box if you install Raspian. I guess it would be somewhere between a PSP and a Vita in performance, but stick a MAME on there, and there's fun to be had.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Vita sales in Japan at risk of dropping below 3K

We accept the Vita is dead hardware in the west, but Japanese sales show just how fast it is falling to the Switch onslaught on Sony's home turf.

I've dug out the big old chart to show how Sony's poor management of the Vita has left the console now. At a time when in previous years, big releases and new colours or models would help spike sales, it remains in perma-decline. There isn't a single Vita game in the new Media Create chart and the Vita managed just 3,090 sales.

Note, in the Famitsu chart, Va-11 Hall-a sneaked into the top 30, top job Sukeban!

Sure, it might shuffle up a little this week as the new non-value packs arrive, hitting shelves today, but with no new colour or game bundles, this really is the last gasp of a company consigned to portable defeat. Digimon Story is the next major release in mid-December.

And here's the current year chart showing just how fast decline has come to the Vita. Seriously, Sony all it would have taken is a HD upgrade in 2015/16 with a better WiFi chip and SD card support! On the plus side, it could be another year until sales fall low enough for Sony to end production, which would bring it to eight years old not a bad innings!

December western release for Romancing Saga 2 confirmed

Developer Akitoshi Kawazu has finally confirmed a western release date for Romancing Saga 2, a game with a deeper and sorrier tale of its publishing than any game based any soap opera! Note he promptly clarified December 2017!

Now it is just down to Square for the details, I'm guessing a physical release is very unlikely. Given this is Square, I'd still say there's a good chance of the release not happening! Romancing Saga 3 is down for a 2018 release in Japan, with a western release also promised by Kawazu-san once the port of RS2 has finished. Busy man!
Romancing Saga 2 Android version 

Enjoy this look at Atelier Lydie & Suelle on Vita

Since the Vita version isn't coming west, here's probably our only peek at the new Atelier game on Sony's portable. And if you compare it to the Switch video of Alchemists of the Mysterious Painting, you can see why developers and gamers are moving on.

Even so, would it really have hurt for Tecmo/Gust to nudge a digital version our way? That would be helpful for long-term fans to complete their collection. Personally, I really enjoyed Atelier Sophie last year, but I'm not too sure how much more cutesy potioning I can take.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] heads west in February

Quick, add a stupidest game name to those game of the year polls, I think we have a late entry (but, I think that's the point)! In related news, Arc System Works' latest anime brawler hits the west across all PlayStation formats on February 9th thanks to PQube on publishing duties.

  • Thrilling cast of characters – A varied cast of 20 characters, including series newcomers Phonon, Mika, Enkidu and Wagner!
  • 19 glorious stages – Including 4 beautiful new areas, Cafeteria, Children's Playground, Momiji Alley and the Cathedral of the Far East.
  • Re-balanced gameplay – Old favourites have new abilities and new gameplay elements have been added, including the ‘Veil Off' system that opens up new combo opportunities.
  • Mission Mode – Learn new skills in a dedicated combo challenge mode and take on some of the hardest challenges in the game.
  • Tutorial Mode – An expansive tutorial mode has been added to the game that teaches all the skills necessary to level up your game.
  • Chronicle Mode – Discover the narrative of UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[st] in a dedicated story mode experience.

Star Wars Battlefront II review

A long time ago, 12-years, in a galaxy that had never heard of loot crates, there were plenty of Star Wars games to go around. From strategy fleet wargames, third and first-person action titles to the world of Battlefront where you could slog it out between Rebels and the Empire, gaming was good.

Who knows what is happening now, except rampant corporate greed. But over in portable corner, you can still have a spot of MP LucasArts Star Wars fun. The PSP game, only 595MB in size, plays on the Vita and multiplayer still works using local network.
Camera phone shot of the PSP game
Programmed by Pandemic with Savage Entertainment on duty for the portable version, Battlefront II offers single player challenges, Galactic Conquest mode and Instant Action, while multiplay is quick to setup and go via WLAN. Play is obviously better on the Vita with dual sticks, but manageable on the PSP.

Battles take place across a range of worlds from Dagobah to Endor, Hoth to Naboo and a handful of lesser planets with space battles set over Yavin and Coruscant to mix things up. Sides from both the original and prequel series are available to fight with on any mission.
Camera shot of Battlefront II running on the Vita with filtering enabled. 
In theory, the PSP exclusive features of Rebel Raider, Imperial Enforcer (mission 1: kill all the Ewoks) or Rogue Assassin tours of duty add some cachet to it, but most people will prefer the four-player online mode with familiar troops and equipment.

This 2005 game does look basic with blocky structures and blurry textures. Outdoors is presented in various shades of mud.  Still, the characters are recognisable and the music is as awesome as you'd hope, to make up for the limited range of sound effects. But, when General Grievous turns up dual-wielding lightsabres, that more than makes up for any ropey visuals.

In action, the game is reasonably smooth, aiming is tight on the Vita, not so much on the PSP, and the action is fast and furious on the indoor maps, with a little more leg room outside. Swapping troops or getting to play as Yoda or another hero makes any battle unpredictable and dumb fun for all ages. And then there's the multiple weapons to try out, stomping around in an AT-ST, all in a game the size of PS4 save file!

That's the good news, the bad is looking for it on the EU Vita PSN store app shows no results. I downloaded this from my history list, so it is there, and I can see it on the PC browser store, but not sure about other regions or stores! Wonder if EA asked for its removal to avoid "confusion!"

Score: 6/10
More Reviews
Price: £3.99
File size 600MB
Progress: Feeling the Force

Black Friday PSN EU PS+ deals up

Here are your EU PSN Black Friday deals for PlayStation Plus subscribers, valid until Friday. The usual suspects plus a couple of recent gems. Hopefully, a follow-up sale for those who don't PS+ will be along shortly.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sony Japan shows off Vita as a remote player

Back home, Sony has actually kept a recent promise to do more with the Vita. It has put out a new series of online ads, one tutorial and one funny. They show off how to keep on playing PS4 games when others need the TV.

Quite how or why Sony globally didn't take this approach three or four years ago, who knows! With the new value packs out this week, I guess this is about as much as Sony can do with no first party titles to pimp.

Review Demon Gaze II

Good news Demon Gaze fans, Kadokawa and Experience haven't fucked this up! I seriously loved the original DG back in 2014. But, since then, pretty much every DRPG (Lost Dimension, Operation Abyss, Ray Gigant etc.) I've tried has messed about with the basics, added some stupid rules, impenetrable plot or weird twist or mechanic that made me hate them with extra bile.

The recent Mary Skelter from Idea Factory/Compile Heart restored some sanity and disorder, now Demon Gaze II keeps the back-to-basics trend rolling. There are a few tiny tweaks, but otherwise, this could have come out in 2014 and slurped on the massive success of DG, which sold over 180K thanks to its global appeal, probably well over 200/250K by now.

That's not to say DG or the sequel, are some boundary-pushing, genre-busting classics. Instead, in both games, you get a solid RPG adventure with a likeable cast and speedy gameplay. Nothing fancy or overtly whacky.

Styx and the City

While some of the cast follow on from No.1 and the scenery is pretty much interchangeable, the sequel has moved downtown. With such locales as Star Temple, Business District, Dragonwood Park, Royal Castle the perfect city of Asteria has a dark underbelly with its ruler relying on demonic forces to keep things quiet and under his thumb.

Each level plays home to a set of demon circles that you need to capture at which point the end of level battle is your next port of call. Defeat a demon and she can be bound the Demon Gazer's side (that's you). As a party, choosing from 16 demons, you can build a team that can take on the worst of the dungeons.

Battles are short and swift, with a range of physical or magical attacks, following the usual elemental rules. If things get tricky, turning the girls into demons will up your firepower, depending on how much juice is in the Star Guage. Familiar features like auto-route on the map, help you get around fast and quick battle will zoom you through minor encounters. Along the way, hidden skulls to collect for Prometh and mushrooms for the guy in the store provide secrets to find and extras to track down.

Every now and again, a major UMF creature will threaten the city and help advance the plot along, but this is really just a game to enjoy for the dungeon raids and a spot of grinding to take down the next demon.

Demonology one-on-one

If you want to get to know your demons a little better, you can take them out on dates and give them presents to improve their performance. One tacky but very minor addition is Maintainance mode where you need to prod them in the right spot, but it is so unsexy that you have to wonder what the point was.

You can bunk your demons in rooms on the second floor of Stella's House to make them happier, and decorate their and your room with furniture to increase some skills. As part of a rebellion, the radio studio in the basement provides a more entertaining diversion with the team putting out nicey-nicey shows to bring down the oppressors. This helps boost the Revolution score, but battling is the only way to progress.

Out on the streets, you can grind by auto-map running and speed battling through any level a few times. There are also locked doors on each level for a fair bit of retreading later on. Some random running around is needed, as gems are rarer than in the previous game. That's presumably to make eager gamers buy the in-app purchases.

Still, it is not pushy or in your face. What is of concern is this game is about three years too late to ride the Demon Gaze wave, and while there's a PS4 version, players are saying the game looks poor on a big screen, so what was the point? Whatever comes next, faster and with more focus please Experience/NISA!

Aside from the pointless nod to fan service, a few gripes remain, you still can't go through a door sideways - really? Auto-map stops when you run over a trap, and every character does an annoying squeal, also when you're trying to find hidden areas, didn't any tester say that was slightly annoying? And in some early battles, the enemy will constantly respawn reinforcements which can be a big pain for beginners.

Those aside, if you just want to romp in the dungeons, beating the bejeezus out of all kinds of weird monsters, this is a great slice of fun. But I think sharing romantic gazes down the halls of the demons isn't much of a thing now.

Score: 7/10
More Reviews
Price: £34.99 (Amazon or PSN)
NIS America
File size 1.1GB
Progress: Deeper underground

UK Chart update and latest Famitsu reviews

Chart time and in the randomest thing ever, 2014's Sorcery Saga leaps out of nowhere to be the UK retail Vita No. 1. I guess that sold 50 copies to Demon Gaze II's 48. Perhaps there was a sale on, although the game is £19.99 on Amazon.

UPDATE: Game had a sale on with copies down to a few quid! That deal has now ended.

1 Re-entry Sorcery Saga: Curse Of Great Curry God
2 New entry Demon Gaze II
3 1 Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
4 3 Minecraft: Playstation Edition
5 2 Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified
6 17 Akiba's Beat Acquire Corporation
7 6 Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
8 4 Assassin's Creed Chronicles
9 5 Chaos;Child
10 16 Farming Simulator 18

Last week's UK chart data and last week's Media Create Japanese chart

In Japan, the weekend news that Atlus is bringing Valkyrie Chronicles 4 to Switch will be no surprise, but is another subtle nudge toward commercial irrelevance for the Vita.

Still, Famitsu has updated its most-wanted list, with a few Vita games still gaining attention. Square's Romancing Saga 3 leads the way and the ever-popular science VN series getting more love with Anonymous;Code.

13. Romancing SaGa 3 – 191 votes
21. Ushiro – 125 votes (PSP)
28. Anonymous;Code – 91 votes

Also out are the latest Famitsu reviews with Rejet's otome Usotsuki Shangri-La 7/7/7/8 (29) out on the 30th and visual novel Chouchou Jiken Rhapsodic 8/8/8/8 (32) keeping the Vita flag flying.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Licky Lizard gets a sticky patch

Licky the Lucky Lizard (review) is one of the more insane games of the year of Vita. If you were worried about performance of this endless climber, can't say I noticed any issues, there's a new patch out to keep things running smoothly.

Remember to support your one-man and smaller dev teams folks, as they're soon all we could have left. Unity has moved way past the Vita, and with the likes of GameMaker Studio 2 not supporting Vita (Juna Ranger is just one game we lost in this way) their efforts will take more work using older less-supported versions to come to Sony's portable, but if we don't buy what's on the market now, they won't even bother in future.

Virtual On Magical Index opening movie

The last game from Sega for the Vita? Seems likely, but the Virtual On meets a Certain Magical Index crossover should get a decent reception, arriving mid-February. A decent theme song in "Get Ready" guides us through the usual roster of mechs and supernatural-powered students.

Some of the ACMI crew featured in Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax if you're not used to that anime, and this isn't the first crossover, there was a PSP game that mixed them up with the Scientific Ensemble team.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ice Cream Surfer soft scooping to the Vita

Once a Wii U game three years ago, Ice Cream Surfer is making a comeback, including on the Vita. Dolores Entertainment from Barcelona is at the helm of this shooter, where a mad range of heroes must ride the ice cream of their choice to take on a world of strange veg and animals. Other than that, I know nothing!

WindJammers CE physical revealed by Limited Run

The who-knew-we-needed-it WindJammers game proved a big summer hit on the Vita and PS4. now there's a Windjammers Collector's Edition from Limited Run for completionists or frisbee fiends. It includes the game, a soundtrack CD, 18 x 24-inch poster, and a proper frisbee in a gate-fold box with a die-cut slipcover.

Only 2,500 of each version will be made and the cost is a whopping $64.99.