Friday, April 29, 2016

#TeamHandheld Report - 04/29/2016

Welcome back to another #TeamHandheld Report. I hope everyone is doing well, as I sure am right now. I've been spending a lot of time looking through my older handheld games, looking for ways to better organize things. I'm wanting to replay a few GBA games, but I just can't seem to get motivated to play them without sleep mode. It's really spoiled me to the point where I can't play without it.

Also, if you're like me and are a collector, definitely check out Limited Run Games, as the Vita version of Futuridium EP Deluxe will be going on sale in just over a week on May 9. Cosmic Star Heroine, YIIK, and Volume are all getting physical releases as well, so keep an eye out for more info.

Enough of that, let's get to what I've been playing.

Now Playing

Bravely Second (3DS)

While I wasn't the biggest Bravely Default fan, I did enjoy my time with it. I wasn't really bothered by the repetitiveness of the last few chapters, at least not as much as others I've talked to about it. I liked old school feel and enjoyed everything related to Ringabel, though the rest of the story and such didn't stick with me long. That said, I wasn't super excited for Bravely Second. Not that I thought it would be bad, but I was just expecting more of the same. Guess what? That's just what it has to offer. But guess what else? More of the same is just what I've been needing.

Much like Default, Second offers a fun job system, charming characters, and lots of gameplay functionality that I'd love for other RPGs to steal. Adjustable difficulty works well here, as does once again having the option to crank the encounter rate way up or turn it off completely. This allows me to grind mindlessly while multitasking and then work my way through dungeons without being stopped constantly by trash enemies. This alone makes my experience so much better, because I can play the game at my own pace. Bravely Second isn't a simple copy and paste, as the new jobs are super creative this time around. When I say it's more of the same, I mean that it still follows much of the same formula, which I'm totally fine with.

On top of all this, Bravely Second also brings back the micromanagement base building mini-game which I find myself engaging in way too much. Thankfully, it all takes places without much hands-on work, so I just set all of my friends to work and let it run overnight. This alone was likely the reason I never turned BD off during the 50+ hours it took me to finish it, and it seems like Second will be the same. While Bravely Second is more of the same, it seems to still strike all the right cords for me and do it just as well (if not better) than the original. This seems like just what I've been craving, so I might just park on this one a while.

-More of the same isn't a bad thing-

Severed (Vita)

I've liked both other Vita games DrinkBox has released, especially Guacamelee, so I've been curious for a while to see how Severed turned out. Starting off, the first person exploration feels a little stiff, but I adjusted to it pretty quickly. I wasn't really sure how I'd take to the first person touch screen combat, but after a few practice battles I found my groove and really started to enjoy fighting. Next, I started getting into battles where I had to fight enemies attacking from different directions. I wasn't a fan at first, but like everything else so far, I adjusted and started having fun. Then I started running into these multi-enemy battles over and over and it just started becoming tedious. I went from enjoying exploring and fighting to dreading combat, because it was just happening too often and getting in the way of the fun parts.

The game concept works for me as the exploration is engaging, even if the areas have been dull, yet pretty, landscapes. Character progression is solid, too, using body parts found from enemies to upgrade attacks and such. It all works quite well, but combat, especially using the touch screen only to fight a swarm of foes, just got old quickly for me. I wanted less of that and more of everything else. Maybe I just hit a poorly paced section, but I got tired of having to swing around and time things just right. Maybe I just need to play this one at a slower pace, as it was a quick burnout once it hit.

-Touch screen madness-

The Sun and Moon (Vita)

At first I thought that The Sun and Moon was just going to be another challenging platformer, but it's something much different...something kinda confusing. Instead of the typical "make hard jumps" platformer, The Sun and Moon just decides to screw with you by messing with gravity instead. The point of each stage is to collect three dots and then jump into a black hole to warp out of the level. While that sounds easy, you can't always jump high enough on your own, so you often have to jump up and then as you're about to land phase into the ground. This causes you to sink into the ground and get pushed back up messing with gravity and allowing you to go higher. I'll be honest, I just couldn't wrap my head around this beyond some of the initial stages, but it is at least quirky and unique, so I'll take that over just another tough platformer.

-What's going on?!?-

Upcoming Games

Sega 3D Classics Collection (3DS)

I've only played a couple of the games in this collection, so I guess it's time to check out what I've been missing. Not sure how this will end, as my prior Sega experiences have mostly been with RPGs.

I also have quite a few older games I need to get around to, but just haven't had the time. Not sure what else is on deck right now, but I'll find something to check out for next week.

#TeamHandheld Updates

Friday, April 22, 2016

#TeamHandheld Report - 04/22/2016

After many months off, the #TeamHandheld Report is back. Things got busy towards the end of last year, and I've spent the past few months dealing with cancer treatments and doctor's visits, but I've decided to try to not let any of that get me down. Instead, I hope to channel all that handheld gaming excitement into more of these Reports. For this week, I've had a few rocky starts, but that happens sometimes.
Now Playing

Axiom Verge (Vita)

I've been excited to play Axiom Verge for some time now, but I fear I might have done the game a bit of injustice. Before I started it, I finished off a replay of Super Metroid on 3DS VC which reminded me of just want I love from games of this ilk. That said, Axiom Verge hasn't been giving me the same kind of feeling of progression forward that something like Super Metroid does. While I'm constantly receiving new weapons and abilities, I've yet to find anything new that makes me feel more powerful. Simply running across Power Nodes that increase damage doesn't give the same feeling that finding a whole new item like the Plasma Beam or Screw Attack do in Super Metroid.

Again, I understand this comparing these two is not the fairest of comparisons, but it's hard not to see where Axiom Verge could have tweaked a few pacing decisions or balanced progression a little differently. That aside, this game runs super smoothly on the Vita, so it's great to finally have it out on a handheld. I plan to give this one a little distance so that I can come at it with fewer comparisons and try to enjoy it as it is, not judge it by what it is not. Right now, I just can't get out of my head how much I love how Super Metroid is designed and how great it is to have that on a handheld as well. Sorry, Axiom Verge, I'll be back.

-Not a super comparison-

Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)

I knew it would be hard to top Awakening, despite trying the same style, but I think my first fears for Fire Emblem Fates came when it was revealed that there would be two versions and story DLC to tie them together. When I finally cracked it open, I was shocked how quickly, and without much fanfare, I was shoveled through the first few chapters to get to the "choice" between the two sides.

Once I finally picked a side (Birthright), things started to feel more like a Fire Emblem game, but something just hasn't set well with me the whole time. Fates feels like it was hurt by the decision to cut it into two pieces. Sure, each side is massive and the game(s?) isn't lacking for content, but the story, characters, and even the battles haven't felt special. It feels like Intelligent Systems was forced to make over twice the amount of game that Awakening was in even less time, because I've yet to get the same spark that the prior game shined with. It feels more like a shift backwards toward Shadow Dragon than a progressive step forward in game design.

After playing a few more chapters, I've decided to just put this one on hold, and I might return down the road, but not likely any time soon. There's a better chance I'll play the Game Gear Shining Force that's been sitting on my 3DS for a while now.

-Fated to disappoint?-

Assassin's Creed Chronicles (Vita)

After just a short period of time with Assassin's Creed Chronicles, I can easily say that this game works much better for the Vita than Liberation ever did. Where Liberation tried to cram the console experience onto a handheld, which simply drew comparisons as to how it didn't feel as good, Chronicles seems like the right kind of pace change that the series needed on Vita. I've only dug into the early parts of ACC: China so far, but other than checkpoints needing to be a little more frequent, I'm enjoying it. It's an interesting take on the series that I can really get behind.

-Better than Liberation-

Upcoming Games

Bravely Second (3DS)

It's in my 3DS and ready to go. I just need to make sure not to start up Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya instead. That might actually happen, but not if I actually answer the call of the Catmancer. I have been craving a good, classic RPG, so hopefully this will help with that.

Severed (Vita)

I'm a big fan of DrinkBox Studios, so I'm curious to see how they follow up Guacamelee with this unique twist on first-person dungeon combat.

#TeamHandheld Updates

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tales from Vita: Severed Game Attacks

At long last, DrinkBox Studio has announced the release date for its first-person dungeon crawler, Severed. It launches on April 26 on Vita for $14.99 with a 10% discount the first week it's available.

Since first being shown at the PlayStation Experience in 2014, Vita fans have been excited to see what is next from the developer behind the fantastic Guacamelee and one of the best Vita launch titles, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack. Now that it is almost upon us, enjoy the new trailer and some brand new screens from the game.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Skullgirls Fighting on Vita Next Week

After months of tweaking, Lab Zero Games is finally ready to launch Skullgirls 2nd Encore for Vita. On April 5, Skullgirls hits with all five DLC characters, voiced story mode, a platinum trophy, three new gameplay mods (challenge, trials, survival), and cross play with the PS3/4 versions. It is also crossbuy with the PS4 release, so it's free if you have that version. Check out the launch trailer and some screens below.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

No Joke, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X is Coming

Miku is back with Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X, hitting Vita (and PS4) this fall. Like others before it, this will be available both digitally and physically at release. This lovely rhythm game features thirty songs and around 300 costumes for customization as players work through the five Cloud auras such as Classic, Cool, Cute, Elegant, and Quirky. Below we have some more features from the press release, a new trailer, and some additional screens from the Vita version to hold us over until fall.

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X features include (via the press release):
  • Digital Singers Take Over the Living Room - Produce live concerts accessorized to the max with unlockable costumes, songs, and stages to create custom live concert starring Hatsune Miku and her friends!
  • 30 Miku Tracks - An assortment of new and classic Hatsune Miku music will be yours to jam to! The songs are split into auras and have different difficulties and challenges to complete. Project DIVA Xincludes new arrangements and medleys by beloved artists as well.
  • Cloud Requests - Go to five different Clouds with Miku and her friends, and explore them and the challenges within. But naturally, selecting the right modules and accessories are key to fulfilling the requests. There's also Free Play, which offers the traditional experience for Project DIVA games.
  • Interact with Miku and Her Friends - Things start to get very meta for the digital singer as she and her friends discover what it's like to live in the world of Project DIVA X - players can interact with the characters.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Axiom Verge on the Verge of Releasing on Vita

While we still don't have an official release date, we can take solace in the fact that Axiom Verge is officially in certification for Vita. Should hopefully have an update with a solid release date soon. In other non-handheld news, it's also coming to Wii U and Xbox One.

Update: Axiom Verge is coming to Vita on April 19.

Zero Time Dilemma Dated

While I'd like to hope there is little that I need to tell you about Zero Time Dilemma, the third Zero Escape game, I can't take that 100% for granted so read about how great Virtue's Last Reward is here. This puzzling adventure game follow up to 999 and Virtue's Last Reward will hit 3DS and Vita on June 28, 2016. Check out the first official trailer if you dare, though I'd suggest you just play the prior two games and go in cold. My pre-order went in back last July, so I'm sold already.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hitman GO Lands on Vita on Feb 23

While originally a mobile release, Hitman GO: Definitive Edition is coming to Vita (also PS4 and PC) with some changes for the better when it hits on Feb. 23 in North America and Feb. 24 in Europe. This turn-based strategy game has been updated for console controls, has a platinum trophy, and includes all content updates from the mobile version removing the need for the in-app purchases it did have. Along with these new changes, the game will also be cross buy at $7.99 and will feature cross save between Vita and PS4. Hopefully this does well so we can get Lara Croft GO on Vita, too!