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  1. There have been plenty of genre fusions over the years, but puzzle and rhythm games seem to be a new one to me. Thus is the premise behind Arc System Work's Magical Beat which arrives for the PS Vita as a digital download today. The game presents you with a "match-3" style gameplay, but with a twist—dropping blocks with perfect timing to the music's beat will send them to your opponent's side of the screen. In addition, there are many different combo possibilities as well as other unique challenges. Last but not least, it features an original Vocaloid soundtrack by Nico Nico celebrity Kikuo and planned DLC for the title features cameos and tunes from Arc System Work's other titles, like XBlaze: Code Embryo, Blazblue, and Guilty Gear. Magical Beat will be available for download on PS Vita for $9.99 when the PlayStation Store updates later today. Source: Press Release Are you interested in Magical Beat's puzzle/rhythm gameplay?
  2. Marcus Estrada

    E3 2014: Hands-On With Murasaki Baby

    Murasaki Baby was first shown at E3 last year but Sony didn“t do much to explain it. Even the name doesn“t help much aside from telling players that it has something to do with babies… Thankfully, Murasaki Baby for Vita was present on the show floor this year. Here are our thoughts on the game so far. In this title, players guide a monstrous young girl (literally - her smile is a sharp, impossibly wide grin on her forehead) from a 2D perspective. So how do you guide the character around? You use the Vita“s front touch screen to hold hands and move her along. If you pull her too far too fast she stumbles. The concept is certainly unique, although it leads to a little bit of trouble. Obviously, having your hand covering portions of a screen for a long period of time is not the ideal way to play something. Thankfully, there“s not much to be obscured as far as the demo was concerned. The whole touching aspect of Vita is used for other portions of gameplay as well. By swiping the rear touch screen you can change between various backdrops. Aside from being aesthetically different, they affect the main gameplay field. For example, the red backdrop can be used to activate a “scare”. Doing this shocks enemies on the field, although it also makes the lead baby cry, stopping her progression momentarily. Swiping motions are also utilized for things such as getting the character to jump over gaping holes. The demo had no way to activate touch screen features with buttons. Enemies in the game seemed rather unique. First I came across flying paperclips. Why is being poked by those even a big deal? Simply because your character carries a balloon with her. You don“t want it getting popped! Next there were tentacles seeking to drag her away. Jumping over these tentacles was impossible. Instead, the game urged players to change the backdrop from green (tentacle) background to something else. Obviously, aspects like these aren“t tremendously puzzling but it leaves the door open for more head scratching ones later on. No discussion of Murasaki Baby is complete without a mention of its visuals. They simply stand out as totally unique in comparison to the rest of Vita“s library. The world looks like it was sketched by someone suffering from weird nightmares. All in all, it“s hard to walk away from the demo not wanting more of Murasaki Baby. Here“s hoping Sony gives it some more attention prior to launch.
  3. Earlier today, Natsume revealed that a new Harvest Moon game was on track for release later this year, and now they've revealed their lineup for the rest of E3 next week. Well... almost everything! Natsume announced on their Facebook page that they would be bringing at least two games for Sony platforms, three for iOS devices, and three new announcements for Nintendo platforms. Naturally, Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley counts as one of the latter, but what's especially interesting is that the two remaining games are not classic eShop titles, and Natsume is teasing that at least one of the two may be a Wii U title. What could they be? With Natsume increasing its original IP to include the likes of the Gabrielle and Yumi's Odd Odyssey series, it's possible it might be one of those, or a classic IP revival (Lufia, perhaps?), or even something entirely new. For now, here are the games you can expect to hear about at E3- Sony games End of Serenity - a PSP JRPG similar to Mystic Chronicles New Reel Fishing title for PS Vita (obviously not the game's actual title) iOS games Gabrielle's Monstrous Duel Hometown Story: Pocket Ninja Strike Nintendo games Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley ?????? (Unrevealed Mystery Title 1) ?????? (Unrevealed Mystery Title 2) eShop classic titles Source: Facebook Are you looking forward to seeing the games Natsume has in store for E3?
  4. Indie game publisher Nicalis has announced that its tough-as-nails, 8-bit, action-platformer 1001 Spikes is set for release next week on June 3. The game stars Aban Hawkins as he searches for his estranged, world-famous archaeologist father who mysteriously disappears but leaves behind a map that points to ruins where legendary treasure awaits. Known for its brutal difficulty, 1001 Spikes also features single and multi-player co-op as well as vs. multiplayer. There are also nearly two dozen unlockable, playable characters that have different abilities (such as Curly from Cave Story), over 100 stages to clear, and multiple endings to obtain. 1001 Spikes will be available for purchase on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita (via the PlayStation Store), and Steam (Windows and OSX) for $14.99. Nicalis also confirmed that the game will feature Cross-Play, allowing PS4 and Vita owners to receive both versions for one price. Additionally, there will be a $5 loyalty discount on Steam for anyone who has also bought Cave Story or Night Sky. Source: Press Release Are you excited for 1001 Spikes next week?
  5. Mojang announced on Thursday that Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita versions of their uberly popular video game Minecraft will be coming this August. They also provided details on pricing, features and compatibility. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 Editions of Minecraft will be available for $19.99 but you can upgrade from the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions for $4.99. To do so on Xbox One you will need to have either bought the game through the Xbox Live Marketplace or signed in online using the disc-based version. At this time only PS3 owners who bought the game via the Playstation Network will be able to take advantage of the upgrade option. Mojang is working with Sony on a way for blu-ray owners to upgrade but there is not a solution yet. Xbox One and PS4 owners will be available to take advantage of this option for one year after release. Players will be able to import their Xbox 360 saves to Xbox One and PS3/Vita saves to PS4. However, they will not be able to transfer them in the opposite direction. Cross-platform play will not be possible. Most previously purchased DLC will be available for use in the upgraded versions. The Playstation Vita Edition will be a bit different. It will feature cross-buy and cross-save. This means that the Vita version will be free for owners of the PS3 version and PS3/Vita saves will be transferable. Again, Mojang is working with Sony on a way for blu-ray owners to unlock the Vita copy of the game. If you do not yet own Minecraft on PS3, it will cost you $19.99. All previously purchased DLC will be available for use on PS Vita. Well there you have it! We will bring you more on the upcoming versions of Minecraft as the release date approaches. Source: Mojang Which new version of Minecraft are you most interested in?
  6. Jason Clement

    Child of Light Heading to Vita This Summer

    Good news for handheld fans—Ubisoft has announced that their new, critically acclaimed RPG Child of Light is heading to the PlayStation Vita soon. If you missed it when it initially debuted at the end of April, the game is a visual treat and has some great battle mechanics as well as fascinating side-scrolling gameplay; so much so that it's the first game to score a 10 on record for Game Podunk. Child of Light will be available for download on the PlayStation Store on PS Vita on July 1. You can check out the latest trailer for the game below. Source: Game Informer
  7. Jason Clement

    Review: Luftrausers

    Developer: Vlambeer Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform: PSN (PS3, PS Vita), PC, Mac, Linux, Release Date: March 18, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone This review is based on the PS3 version of the game It starts out unassuming enough—your small, pixelated air craft is launched into the sky to take on an army of enemy naval ships, airplanes, submarines and more. A squadron of enemy aircraft approach from behind, but you're able to shake them off and take them down. While that's happening, a few small gunships start firing on you from the waters below. Dodging their fire, you swoop down, opening fire and blowing both to smithereens before realizing that an even larger fleet of enemy planes has descended upon your position. The sky is darkened and filled with endless amounts of machine gun firing every which way. A few guided missiles scream past in all of the confusion and narrowly miss grazing your aircraft by inches. And to add to all that, you face a barrage of incoming cannon fire from a massive battleship below. But despite everything, you avoid almost every shot... that is, until an ace pilot comes out of nowhere and blows you right out of the sky—your plane erupting in a blaze of glory amidst explosions everywhere. Welcome to Luftrausers. What was just described is what you can expect out of an average session of the game, if you can expect to survive even that long. If you're a seasoned pilot, you may get to see multiple battleships, submarines, and even a blimp or two in addition to all of that, making for some truly chaotic gameplay. At the heart of Luftrausers lies an aerial arcade shoot 'em up that, like many similar action-oriented titles, revels in its willful destruction. There's a certain similarity to Geometry Wars where, in that game, skill is rewarded in part with brilliant displays of beautiful fireworks-like explosions. And yet the thrill of explosions and chaotic action that results is only one aspect of Luftrausers. The central mechanic lies in building up your score by use of chained combos which result from shooting down other air- and naval-craft. Shooting down five planes quickly and consecutively, for example, will give you a 5x multiplier (which will eventually max out once you reach 20x). You'll then have just a few seconds to keep that combo going by shooting down or destroying something else, otherwise the combo breaks. But if you manage to keep it going? You'll be rewarded with potentially thousands and, if you're good enough, tens of thousands of points that will possibly land you at the top of the worldwide leaderboards. One of the best things about Luftrausers is how it exceeds at being easy to get into, yet being difficult to master; just about anyone could pick it up and start playing and know exactly what to do in just a few short seconds thanks to the simple controls and mechanics. In fact, when you first start the game, you simple press the up button and you're taken immediately into the gameplay. There's no drawn out narrative or exposition either; all you're given are a series of three short missions (of which there are 100 in all) each time you launch your craft, and they range from taking down certain enemy craft to score-based challenges and even ones with special conditions (i.e. taking down 10 enemy fighters while on fire). Completing these missions yield additional vehicle bodies, engines, and weapons that provide different bonuses or effects. For example, one body type is so sharp that it can cut through other ships with ease when you run into them and yet another type will drop bombs automatically as you fly. One weapon turns your gun into a single, deadly cannon shot while another gives you a wide spread shot of five bullets. Being able to mix and match different combinations is crucial to completing certain types of missions and it's a lot of fun to find out which combo works best for you. The game's 8-bit pixelated aesthetic lends to its charm and would look right at home on something like the NES, though the pixel art of the different military personnel on the option screens have already caused some controversy. They are intentionally designed to appear as fascist so as to evoke a feeling of the era from the 1900s to 1980s where military intelligence were able to ascertain that the opposing forces were studying and designing "secret weapons" though not quite knowing what they were. In light of this, Luftrausers' character designs have garnered much criticism for their supposed similarity to Nazi symbolism; Vlambleer claims in an apology on their site that they did not design the pilot (or anyone else) with that in mind, however. For what it's worth, I do agree that it's an unfortunate oversight on Vlambeer's part, but the designs are generic enough (perhaps except for the style of uniform; no swastikas, though, thankfully) that I didn't have any particular problem with it. That minor controversy aside, Luftrausers is quite the experience. Its fast, aerial dogfighting and increasingly complex naval battlefield during gameplay make for one of the most thrilling experiences I've played through this year. It might not make a huge splash for the first few minutes, but once you really start to get into racking up points through combos and attempting to take down some of the harder enemy crafts and such, the real fun starts and it becomes incredibly addicting. Too many times I would have a play session that would be extended by another 5-, 10-, 15-, 30-minutes or even an hour just because I had to give it one more try to finish the mission or reach x amount of points. If you love arcade-style gameplay and acquiring high scores and such, you owe it to yourself to play this game; its a complete blast. Now if you excuse me, I have a blimp to take down. Pros + Fast, addictive, aerial dogfighting action + Simple to learn, control, but difficulty steadily increases in-game the longer you survive + Music is pretty catchy, especially after long sessions of play + Leaderboards and plenty of missions offer lots of replay value Cons - Fascist art-style might be offputting to some - May only appeal to fans of arcade shmups and score attacks Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Luftrausers is one of the best aerial arcade shoot 'em ups to arrive in recent history. If arcade games and going after high scores is your thing, grab your helmet and get ready to take off, because this game is a blast. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher
  8. It was only a week and a half ago that the PlayStation Store hosted an amazing sale for games that were marked down to $0.99, and now Sony looks to be following up on the tremendous savings by providing another big sale. In honor of Golden Week in Japan (which encompasses four holidays and is the biggest shopping and traveling week of the year there), the PlayStation Store is hosting a sale to celebrate some big Japanese games which you'll be able to get for up to 50-75% off. Here's a list of what's on sale- Color Key PS Plus Price Regular Sale Price Armored Core: Verdict Day (PS3) - $5.99 $9.99 $19.99 Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk (PS3) - $24.49 $34.99 $49.99 Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland (PS Vita) - $19.59 $27.99 $39.99 Atelier Totori Plus: The Adventurer of Arland (PS Vita) - $19.59 $27.99 $39.99 Chrono Cross (PS3/PSP/PS Vita) - $3.49 $4.99 $9.99 Chrono Trigger (PS3/PSP/PS Vita) - $3.49 $4.99 $9.99 Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PS Vita) - $32.39 $35.99 $39.99 Devil May Cry HD Collection (PS3) - $8.99 $14.99 $29.99 Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z (PS3) - $15.00 $29.99 $59.99 Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z (PS Vita) - $10.00 $19.99 $39.99 Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational (PS3) - $5.00 $9.99 $19.99 Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory (PS3) - $14.69 $20.99 $29.99 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3) - $14.99 $24.99 $49.99 Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (PS3) - $11.99 $19.99 $39.99 Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection (PS Vita) - $8.99 $14.99 $29.99 Muramasa Rebirth (PS Vita) - $7.49 $12.49 $24.99 Persona 4 Golden (PS Vita) - $14.62 $19.49 $29.99 rain (PS3) - $3.75 $7.49 $14.99 Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers (PS3) - $15.00 $29.99 $59.99 SoulCalibur V (PS3) - $5.00 $9.99 $19.99 Tales of Symphonia Chronicles (PS3) - $10.00 $19.99 $39.99 Time and Eternity (PS3) - $9.79 $13.99 $19.99 Ys: Memories of Celceta (PS Vita) - $19.59 $27.99 $39.99 Zone of the Enders HD Collection (PS3) - $10.49 $17.49 $34.99 There are also a number of other sales on games that include the likes of Daylight ($11), Vagrant Story ($3), Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 1 & 2 ($5 and $10), and much more. Check out the rest of the list on the PlayStation Blog! Source: PlayStation Blog Which games will you be buying during this sale?
  9. Bandai Namco announced yesterday that the game Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment will be making its way to North America. The title is based on the popular anime series (now available for streaming on Netflix if you're interested) Sword Art Online which follows a number of gamers trapped in a MMORPG. The story of the game is alternate to that of the series so expect a few changes here and there. In addition to the main story the title features a dating mini game and a multiplayer mode. Hollow Fragment will be available via download on the Playstation Store exclusively for PS Vita sometime this summer! As always, stay tuned to Game Podunk for future updates. Source: BANDAI NAMCO, Siliconera Are you excited to see this game coming to the West?
  10. Steve Bitto

    SCEA Files Two Game Software Trademarks

    This past weekend NeoGAF user Rösti uncovered some interesting SCEA trademark filings from April 14 and 15. The two video game software trademarks were titled "Entwined" and "KILL STRAIN," respectively. While this is all the info we have at the moment, more will likely be revealed as E3 approaches. Up until this point we know very little about what Sony's first party studios are working on. While Uncharted 4 and The Order: 1886 are both promising, the PS4's "AAA" lineup is relatively weak. With Sony franchises like Warhawk, Socom, and Twisted Metal tapering off on the PS3, there is a void for new IP's to fill. Undoubtedly, Sony knows this and has some announcements up their sleeve. Could it be "Entwined" and "KILL STRAIN?" Only time will tell. In the meantime, stay tuned to Game Podunk for updates! Source: NeoGAF So what do you think these games will be about and who is developing them?
  11. The second season of Telltale Games The Walking Dead series will release on Playstation Vita this Tuesday, April 22. The story follows young Clementine after the events of the critically acclaimed first season. Episodes 1 and 2 will be available for $4.99 each but if you purchase the season pass you save 20% overall. According to IGN, Episode 3 is expected to release sometime in May so you have at lease a few weeks to catch up! Is The Walking Dead something you'd like to play on the go? Source: IGN, Playstation Blog
  12. As you might have known, a rogue GameStop listing teased that Tales of Hearts R, an enhanced Vita port of the original DS title, was coming Westward. While the source seemed dubious, it was apparently correct. Hideo Baba has released a video confirming a Western release of the title. You can see it below: The Vita title will apparently be hitting during Winter 2014. There is still a little confusion about the some specifics, though: Originally GameStop had a page saying that the title would be a GameStop exclusive, but that page has since been taken down. Also, the video itself seems to have been unintentionally leaked, and the original has also been taken down, though the video itself doesn't look to be fake in any way. Are you excited to snatch up this Vita Tales title?
  13. Developer: Telltale Games Publisher: Telltale Games Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, OSX (PS Vita and iOS coming at a later date) Release Date: April 8, 2014 Rating: M for Mature Note: As this is the halfway point in the story, some spoilers are discussed in this review We're finally at the halfway point in the The Wolf Among Us, and by now, most stories usually give the audience a good idea of where the plot is heading. While Episode 2 was still a solid episode, this was one aspect that it failed at as the whole episode just felt more like a sub-plot then it was actually advancing the story, at least until the end. Fortunately, Episode 3 picks up the pieces and manages to do something interesting with them, all the while introducing some new characters that shake up the situation a bit. Episode 3: A Crooked Mile begins with the fallout over the revelation about Crane that was revealed at the end of Episode 2, leaving Bigby determined to track him down for answers. The evidence discovered against Crane so far is pretty convincing, and he feels the need to let Snow White know at once; however she's already tied up with another matter tied to the previous episode; the timing of which couldn't be worse due to what's going on. Adding to the fuel on the fire is the fact that with Crane having disappeared, Fabletown is now without proper leadership, a fact that Bluebeard points out when he barges in on Bigby and Snow in the middle of their investigation in the Town Hall. Bluebeard's insistence on helping with the case throws a figurative wrench into the gears as Bigby and Snow can't be certain of his intentions and if he has ulterior motives in all of this. Unfortunately, they're left no choice but to agree to his inclusion on the matters and the three are left to investigate Crane's apartment, what the Brothers Tweedle are up to, and who Crane's black market glamour supplier is. There are some intriguing moments throughout that especially stand out, such as two separate instances that have Bigby dealing with a person that is under the influence of medication and/or alcohol. Naturally, the way you respond is crucial since someone without their full thinking faculties is more opt to make rash decisions, and interestingly enough, you can play along with their delusions and game their expectations to further your cause. The moment with Holly in particular is an interesting one, as you come to learn a little about the relationship between her, The Woodsman, and her sister, Lily. Some of the decisions Bigby must decide in this episode feel like they have a lot more weight given to them as well, with at least two of them seeming like they may have major ramifications down the road depending on your decision. The conclusion to this episode is also much more well done than the previous two. Whereas the first two episodes went more for quick shock value, Episode 3 presents a more organic ending by introducing new characters that quickly establish themselves as a major threat and dish out consequences for the actions that take place. By the time the credits roll, the plot escalates immensely, not because of shock value, but because a true villain is finally established. And with the underlying themes of poverty, gradualism, racism, and such being discussed, combined with the fact of a larger conspiracy going on, the next two episodes look to pay off in a big way. If there's one thing that's unfortunate about Episode 3, it's that the gameplay itself still doesn't quite live up to what was presented in the first episode. It's still very much a linear affair, with you only having to click on most of what's on the screen in order to proceed, though there are a few action scenes, especially one important one at the end that triggers a major decision you'll need to make. Still, it's a shame there isn't more actual detective work and deducing that happens, like when Bigby cross-examined Mr. Toad's story in Episode 1. After a slightly faltering second chapter, Episode 3: A Crooked Mile really picks up the plot once again and sets it on the path that it needs to be going down. Things are continuing to be built upon - characters, themes, and the plot, and it feels like things are continually moving. It still doesn't quite live up to the highs of the first episode, but it's a great continuation in its own right with plenty to take away from and leaves you excited for the remaining two episodes. Pros + Story pacing is much better this time around + Developments that occur are more interesting and feel like they're going somewhere + Ending does a great job of setting up the final two episodes Cons - Still not a whole lot of investigation/puzzle solving and such Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great Episode 3: A Crooked Mile is a return to form for The Wolf Among Us. Its developments mark a significant part of the story and will leave you hungry for more. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher.
  14. The March NPD sales numbers for the United States have been released. The Playstation 4 was the best selling console in March despite a push from Titanfall Xbox One bundles. Speaking of Titanfall, it grabbed the top spot on the software sales chart followed by inFAMOUS: Second Son and South Park: Stick of Truth. Below are the top ten selling software in order: Titanfall (XB1, PC) inFAMOUS: Second Son (PS4) South Park: Stick of Truth (360, PS3, PC) Call of Duty: Ghosts (360, PS4, PS3, XB1, NWU, PC) Dark Souls II (PS3, 360) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS4, XB1, PS3, 360) NBA2K14 (360, PS4, PS3, XB1, PC) Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (PS3, PSV) The Lego Movie Videogame (360, PS3, 3DS, NWU, XB1, PS4, PSV) Minecraft (360) The main take away this month is that the game industry is alive and well in the United States. The Playstation 4 and Xbox One continue to outpace their predecessors, even the PS Vita saw a boost thanks to FFX/X2 HD Remaster. Hopefully these trends continue. Source: Joystiq Which of these games did you purchase this month? Worth the price tag?
  15. If you're a Vita owner, you may have been wondering what Sony's next big first-party titles would be for the handheld. Well, wonder no more as they've finally unveiled not one, not two, but three JRPGs coming later this year courtesy of SCE Japan Studio. The first of these is Soul Sacrifice Delta, which Sony is branding as the ultimate edition of last year's Soul Sacrifice, and it comes complete with lots of new content and improvements. Sony also confirmed that save data from the original Soul Sacrifice will carry over into this game as well. Next up is Freedom Wars, an RPG being collaborated on with SCE Japan Studio, Shift (Gods Eater Burst), and Dimps (of Sonic fame). The game is set in a dystopian world in which prisoners live with million year sentences from their birth. As a prisoner, you'll fight for freedom by participating in rescue missions that will reduce your sentence. You can see a trailer for the game below. Finally, there's Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, of which the first part of the title translates roughly to 'Go Forth Over My Dead Body.' The premise of this RPG has you in charge of an ancient Japanese clan that is cursed with a maximum life-span of 2 years. Naturally, your quest is to lift that curse, and you'll do so by enlisting the help of gods from Japanese mythology in order to ensure each new generation of the clan will last longer than the last. And there you have it! Be sure to expect more news on these games as E3 approaches in just a month and a half. Source: PlayStation Blog Are you excited for any of these games?
  16. Jason Clement

    PlayStation Plus Instant Games for April Revealed

    It's that special time at the end of the month where the PlayStation Blog gives a sneak peek at what we can expect to see on PlayStation Plus next month, and boy what a month it's going to be. The big game that's coming for PS3 users is Batman: Arkham City, and it serves as a great jumping-on point especially for those that may be curious about the recently-announced Batman: Arkham Knight. Aside from that, the Metal Slug-inspired Mercenary Kings will be available as an Instant Game for PS4 owners, so be sure to keep your eyes out for that. Here's a full list of everything you can expect to see on PS Plus during April- PS4 Mercenary Kings PS3 Batman: Arkham City Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse (check out our review here) Stealth Inc. PS Vita Velocity Ultra Pixel Junk Monsters Ultimate HD Are you looking forward to playing any of these titles?
  17. barrel

    Review: Tearaway

    Developer: Media Molecule Publisher: Sony Platform: PS Vita Release Date: November 22, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone Media Molecule has always been a developer I respected, but never one where I was particularly invested in their actual games. Their first IP, LittleBigPlanet, left me of two minds: in raw creativity it allowed for something incredibly distinct and made headway for a vast amount of community-generated content on consoles; but as a game, it was mainly a toolset to make content that was arguably mediocre on its own with so-so platforming mechanics. Tearaway is their second foray at a new IP, with a very clearly inspired origami presentation and an ambitious design specific to the Vita hardware. With little respect to such ambition, and like many first-party Sony properties in 2013, Tearaway had the extremely unfortunate luck of not only being torn aside by having virtually no marketing, but it was also released in an incredibly brutal November time-frame. Whether or not it be out of pity, or being a self-proclaimed handheld fanboy, I decide to not leave Tearaway crumbled up or forgotten. I“ll answer the questions in advance: The silly headband-looking thing are actually a pair of headphones you can wear when you are resting. And yes, I“m always angry. The narrative initially unfolds with “You” (yes, the player in real life) quite literally shaking up both the real world and Tearaway“s imaginative papercraft world. By doing so, "You" somehow create a connection to both worlds. This spurs a curious papercraft avatar character, either Iota or Atoi, to go on an adventure to deliver a message to “You”. Having your face firmly embedded in the sun of their world, you help guide Iota/Atoi, with your otherworldly and seemingly omnipotent prowess, on their pilgrimage. For what would normally seem like a pretty basic and easy-going platformer (I'm using that term very loosely), Tearaway absolutely thrives off of its presentation, however shallow that may initially sound. In general, traversing through the world will never really be taxing or a test of reflexive skill; the experience is meant to be absorbed with a childish wonderment and be a vent for creativity. The origami aesthetic feels almost tangible on the OLED screen and the audio design is brimming to complement it in its immersive qualities. In motion, Tearaway is absolutely mesmerizing to behold and, as cliche as this phrasing is, its world feels truly alive. However stilted papercraft may inherently be in real life, the game truly goes above and beyond with its visual theme. It really feels like you can go right out and touch stuff in its world, which in some instances, you can outright do so, whether it be in the specified sequences or through casual discovery. You can also seriously tell there is a real genuine passion and commitment to the origami theme, where the title even goes as far as to give you instructions on how to create the individual characters in real-life through actual papercraft. Another treat with how the title is presented is in regards to its audio. The musical tracks play on a celtic musical theme for the most part, and despite being sparse in number count, they are quite well-done and stand out in the instances where they do make an appearance. But the more impressive works with the audio are in its more subtle atmospheric material, such as the sound of scissors serving as percussion in a background song when drawing/cutting stuff to the natural ebb and flow of paper environments wrestling back and forth; things that may very well slip past you since it is so seamlessly captivating. It's hard to not simply gush with enthusiasm about how much it gets it right in its presentational grandeur. Beyond that, though, what makes Tearaway memorable past being a stunning visual showcase is how immaculately it pulls personalized interactivity with its controls and the player's seemingly passive influence to its setting during gameplay. Like the intro implies, Tearaway is distinctly an adventure for “You” to play around within its world. While the end destination is the same for all players due to its structure, it goes out of its way to get you to contribute, and by doing so, integrates nearly every unorthodox feature on the Vita system in surprisingly cohesive ways (except “Near”; let“s be real…). The various system uses range from asking you draw a crown via touchscreen for a squirrel king, or taking a real-life photo to give a deer a new fur coat, or recording an audio clip to give a scarecrow an intimidating scream, and many more unique scenarios later on. There is also something that is stupidly charming, and probably partially narcissistic in my case, when it uses Vita's camera to place your face upon on the sun throughout the story, or when you poke your hands via the rear-pad into the world, and seeing the characters being taken aback by your "power" and constantly captivated by your presence. What is more impressive is how often it changes things up, despite how gimmicky most of these things are by themselves, so it feels so consistently fresh and appealing. What I think I like the most about playing through the game, though, is how much it encourages creativity. Iota/Atoi are fully customizable for the most part and with enough time and effort you can truly do some amazing stuff. It is especially impressive that I felt comfortable using my fingers to draw, despite owning a capacitive stylus, because the controls were so spot-on. Admittedly, I've never had a lot of confidence in myself as an artist, so I never did too much to customize Iota look beyond placing preset accessories (plus I like the character designs enough already), but it still manages to make it fun regardless of your artistic talent. One early game example is that it casually asks you to draw a snowflake. It certainly doesn“t have to be a snowflake, it can be anything you want to draw using the touchscreen. So, naturally, I just drew a crude-looking starfish face... thing. However, that crude, seemingly irrelevant one-time joke, helped pave the visual theme for that entire level where every-single-“snowflake” in the sky was that goofy looking drawing of mine flowing to and fro with the wind, just because - Tearaway is full of little moments like that. Still, for as one-sidedly positive as I may seems towards the experience, that doesn't mean it is free of criticisms. Perhaps Tearaway“s greatest flaw is how much it relies on its first time charm and novelty. The core gameplay is hardly indicative of reliving the experience again because of its carefree structure, simple mechanics, and focus on things that are only likely captivate the first-time you see them. It may have worked nearly flawlessly on myself playing through, but it“s still a short-game at the end of the day lasting on average 5-6 hours with very little replay value and not very noteworthy overall collectibles (aside from the papercraft sheets). Also, it isn't free of technical issues, where I encountered two bugs that were close to game-breaking and almost significantly dimmed my overall experience and progress. Also, the combat in particular definitely wears out its welcome and is easily the weakest portion. Even if the game does try to introduce new things as it progresses to the combat, it simply isn“t enough to make it not feel like an out-of-place chore most of time, especially when the title's best moments are without a doubt in its calmer sequences. I think the advantage that Nintendo has always had with their recent handheld hardware is that they have always lent it better to creativity and a lot of releases reflected that. Ironically, Tearaway managed to ignore that memo entirely, and was by far the most creative title that was released on handhelds in 2013. Even if Tearaway is by no means perfect, the moments it does excel at are outright brilliant and can easily overshadow most of its minor issues. While there are certainly plenty of better games (from a mechanical standpoint) that came out in 2013, you“d have a tough argument to say that few others are as ridiculously endearing, immersive, memorable, and downright creative as Tearaway. Pros: + Stellar, captivating presentation that uses origami aesthetic in striking ways + Vita system features are utilized very cleverly throughout + Creates a personalized adventure that is ridiculously charming + Well-done musical score and great audio design Cons: - Short and doesn“t have much replay value - Combat sequences don“t add much to the game - Some bugs Overall Score: 9.0 (out of 10) Fantastic Proving to be more than just a system showcase, Tearaway delightfully molds itself into one of the most memorable, creative, and downright charming titles you can find on any system from 2013.
  18. If you're craving more Monster Hunter-like action on your PS Vita, XSEED has now confirmed that Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is now officially arriving on the PS3 and PS Vita on April 1, and no, that ain't no April Fool's joke! You might recall from earlier announcements that Ragnarok Odyssey ACE isn't exactly an all-new sequel to last year's Ragnarok Odyssey but instead a revised and expanded version of that title. Some of the new additions include expanded and enhanced character customization options such as eight new brand new voices (four for male characters and four for female characters), new job-specific powers called ACE skills, a new weapon type called Halomonas weapons that grow in power along with the characters, and more. There's even a vast new dungeon complete with its own story, all-new bosses, and new challenges that unlocks after you beat Chapter 9 (which was the ending chapter in the original game). And once again, you'll be able to import your character along with his/her equipment and save data from the original game so you can continue playing them in this one. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE will be available for $39.99 in retail and on the PlayStation Store while a physical, limited edition will be available for Vita for the same price (and will include a 25-track OST), or you can opt for the regular Vita version which will be $34.99. You can check out the latest trailer for the game below. Source: PlayStation Blog Are you interested in Ragnarok Odyssey ACE?
  19. Jason Clement

    NISA Reveals Huge 2014 Game Lineup

    Yesterday NIS America held a press event in San Francisco where they presented their game lineup for 2014 and it's easily probably the biggest year yet for the niche publisher. First off, NISA announced four brand new titles to their lineup: Battle Princess of Arcadias, a sidescrolling brawler RPG for PS3 (via PSN); Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited (also for Vita), which is the definitive version of the game and comes complete with all the DLC from the PS3 plus brand new content; Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the Vita sequel to the recently released Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (which we reviewed here); and Fairy Fencer F, NISA's newest acquisition and a PS3 title that sports talent from Final Fantasy veterans Nobuo Uematsu and Yoshitaka Amano. Also revealed were release dates for previously announced games such as The Witch and the Hundred Knight, which is now coming in March for PS3, and Demon Gaze, which is coming in April for Vita. Mugen Souls Z (PS3) and Hyperdimension Neptunia Producing Perfection (Vita) still don't have specific release dates yet, so stay tuned for announcements about that later in the year. In all, that brings NISA's lineup to 8 games for 2014, and they remain one of the few publishers bringing some exclusive love to the Vita over the year. Hopefully this is a good sign of what to expect similarly from other niche publishers like Atlus and XSEED when they reveal their lineups soon as well. Source: Press Release Are you excited for any of these announced titles?
  20. Hot on the heels of its announcement for the PS Vita version of Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma, Aksys Games has announced a visual novel based in the Blazblue universe called Xblaze Code: Embryo. The story is set some 150 years before the events of Blazblue in which a high school student is thrown into a world of magic and the supernatural and must uncover a hidden truth. Aksys says that there will be several endings and routes to uncover, with one even being a gag. A specific release date has yet to be announced, though for now Xblaze Code: Embryo is aiming for a Summer release on PS3 and Vita. UPDATE: An Aksys rep has confirmed that the game will release on June 24th for $39.99. Source: Press Release
  21. Jason Clement

    New PS Vita Model Heading to North America

    Originally unveiled for Japan last Fall, the new "slim" PS Vita model is now confirmed to be coming to North America, and a Borderlands 2 bundle will be available along with it at launch. The bundle is set to sell for $199, which includes the new slim Vita in black, an 8GB memory card, Borderlands 2, and six DLC packs. As for the new Vita itself, it's 20% slimmer, 15% lighter, and has increased battery life for up to 4-6 hours of gameplay. Unfortunately, the OLED screen is replaced with an LCD in this version, which accounts for part of the cheaper cost. At the moment, there's no specific release date for this new model or the bundle, but Sony says it is coming sometime this Spring. Source: PlayStation Blog Will you be buying the new Vita model?
  22. Jason Clement

    God of War and Sly Collections Coming to Vita

    Sony announced today that God of War 1 and 2 will be coming to the Vita by way of God of War Collection, and that the Sly Cooper Collection will be heading to the handheld as well. Cory Barlog of Sony Santa Monica Studios mentioned in a post on the PlayStation Blog that God of War Collection will be a load-free experience and that the team did some "amazing work" with the controls. The double pack is planned for release on May 6 for $29.99. As for the Sly Cooper Collection, it features all three of the original PS2 games in the series and each has been fully remastered in HD and optimized for Vita play. It will be releasing on May 27th, though no price was announced as of yet. Source: PlayStation Blog Are you excited for these collections to hit the Vita?
  23. Today Aksys announced that the next installment in the Blazblue series, Blazeblue: Chrono Phantasma, would be coming to Vita this summer after the PS3 version's release next month. Aksys confirmed that all of the DLC will be cross-compatible, meaning that if you bought some on the PS3 version, you'll be able to use it on the Vita version as well (assuming you have the Vita version, that is). Also new to this version is an extra story mode featuring Ragna, Noel, Celicia, and Kagura at the beach. A solid release date will be detailed for the Vita version at a later time. In the meantime, Blazblue: Chrono Phantasma is releasing first on the PS3 on March 25. Source: PlayStation Blog
  24. Sony's PlayStation Plus service is steadily gaining momentum as they recently revealed that subscriptions are up threefold since the launch of the PlayStation 4 last November. A large part of that is likely due to the fact that a PS Plus subscription is being required to play PS4 titles online, but Sony UK boss Fergal Gara mentioned that he believes the value offered by the service continues to be a driving force in getting new members to join. In the meantime, Sony recently announced the February lineup of Instant Games for PlayStation Plus, which includes titles like Outlast and Metro: Last Light.
  25. We're at the tail-end of January, and you know what that means - the reveal of next month's PlayStation Plus Instant Games by The PlayStation Blog! For February, a whopping six games will be cycled into the PlayStation Plus lineup, including three PS3 titles, two PS Vita titles, and one PS4 title. Hopefully the PS4 will get more games on a monthly basis in the future, but for now it's understandable (if disappointing) since it only launched a few months ago and thus has limited games so far. In any case, here are the Instant Games that PlayStation Plus subscribers have to look forward to next month- Outlast (PS4) Metro: Last Light (PS3) Payday 2 (PS3) Remember Me (PS3) Street Fighter vs Tekken (PS Vita) Modnation Racers: Road Trip (PS Vita) What do you think of February's Instant Game lineup? Let us know!