Wednesday, September 27, 2017

SteamWorld Dig is 2 Hot

SteamWorld Dig 2 is now available on both PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch for #TeamHandheld fans; both versions are available digitally for $19.99. Developer Image & Form Games has stated that Dig 2 is the fastest selling SteamWorld game and has already earned back most of the game's total development budget. Very impressive. Below is the launch trailer along with some screenshots. Do Enjoy.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Pocket Review - Collar X Malice

Visual novels can come in many different flavours depending on their target demographic. Some opt to be straight out dating sims, while others look to tell mysteries, and of course others try and combine the aspects of both. Collar X Malice is the latest title from the Idea Factory's Otomate department to get a western release, courtesy of Aksys Games, and a textbook reminder that otome games can have universal appeal. It greatly succeeds by providing a tale that should interest all visual novel fans, not just those the otome sub-genre is usually targeted at.

Collar X Malice's premise greatly interested me from the start, surrounding a series of murders claimed by justice-seeking organisation called Adonis. The game follows Ichika Hoshino, a rookie officer working in a newly-established, community-focused department trying to help prevent panic stemming from the X-Day murders, which have occurred on a monthly basis counting down to the mysterious X-Day, and resulted in Shinjuku being placed under a quarantine. Ichika becomes embroiled in these when she is kidnapped and has a collar placed on her, which is ready to inject poison at its creator's command. She is rescued by a group of (mostly) ex-cops who are investigating the X-Day murders on their own, though Adonis apparently knows about them. Identified as a potential sympathiser by Adonis, they request — with preventing her own death being a rather good motivating factor — that Ichika joins forces with the group to investigate the incidents and learn the true motivations.

Of course, being an otome game, this group features five eligible bachelors, though the game is appreciably more about the overall tale, blending any romance in with that rather than shoehorning dating sim aspects as some other titles tend to do. The way the game handles the routes works well. Rather than sharing a common route for a substantial period of time, the routes split off very early in the proceedings. Four characters' routes are available from the start, each of these focusing on one particular X-Day case, and completing all of these will unlock the final character's route (arguably the true route) that manages to give the overall picture of what happened as well as reveal who is truly behind all the events. There is also good overlap between the routes, as things that happen in one will come up in others in one way or another, sometimes giving neat context to potential bad ends or even being changed by the decisions made in it. One route in particular helps offer a vital clue as to who the overall mastermind is.

Initially, I had planned on playing one or two routes and leaving it there, but as I learned more of the game's structure and aims, and thanks to the snippets of information gleamed from those routes, I was easily sucked in to going back for more. The way each route builds up both its individual tale of justice and revenge is great, but the way it also builds up the overall tale during this process is what provided the impetus for me to keep going back.

The suspense in Collar X Malice works excellently, and the handling of Ichika's relationships is very well done. This doesn't just apply to the character whose route was chosen, but also to Ichika's relationships with her coworkers, her brother, and even those placed under suspicion for the murders. The romance is nicely handled as Ichika's fondness for the characters grows and the characters themselves learn to come out their shell and open up to her, and it works well that it's always against the greater backdrop of the terrorist dealings and trying to investigate those first and foremost.

The style of the game is superbly brought to life with great art and some excellent Japanese voice-acting that brings out each characters' eccentricities. The music aids things as well, with some decent variation that matches the various themes for each scene. Aksys Games' localisation does a very nice job overall, but there are some misplaced breaks or tags that caused things to be a bit out of place. Fortunately, these don't affect enjoyment and readers will most likely automatically correct them mentally anyway. It's also worth noting a nice touch in how the game colour-codes its choices, between key choices that affect the plot (potentially leading to bad ends) and those that affect the route character's trust or affection towards Ichika. It's definitely one of the better looking visual novels out there.

Collar X Malice is one I would easily recommend to any with an interest in visual novels overall, let only otome fans. Already built on a fascinating tale of intrigue and suspense, the game is only helped by a magnificent cast and stylish telling. I was not expecting that I'd play through it so thoroughly, but once it drew me in there was no getting out without seeing all it had to offer, and I'm very glad it did.

TLDR A great thriller that will easily engage readers as they aim to learn more about the events and stellar cast.
Enjoyed By? Anyone looking for a suspenseful tale with a fantastic cast of characters.

This game was played on Vita via digital code provided by publisher.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Jackbox Party Continues for Switch Owners

After the successful Switch release of The Jackbox Party Pack 3 back in April, Jackbox Games has decided to bring more party games to Nintendo's new hybrid system. The Jackbox Party Pack and The Jackbox Party Pack 2 are both scheduled to hit the Switch on Aug. 17. While not confirmed, the prior release was $24.99, so that would not be shocking to see each of these listed for that price. Here's what's included with each pack along with a brief trailer for each game.

Jackbox Party Pack includes:
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK 2015 (1-4 players)
Fibbage XL (2-8 players)
Drawful (3-8 players)
Word Spud (2-8 players)
and Lie Swatter (1-100 players)

Jackbox Party Pack 2 includes:
Fibbage 2 (2-8 players)
Earwax (3-8 players)
Bidiots (3-6 players)
Quiplash XL (3-8 players)
and Bomb Corp. (1-4 players)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nurse Vita Love Hits Today

Degica Games, in collaboration with Kogado Studio, has localized Nurse Love Addiction for Vita. This game is a visual novel about life, love, and romance originally released on PC, but is now available for Sony's handheld. It just hit PSN today for $39.99 for those who are interested. Check out some of the screen below for a better idea of what you're in for.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

DotEmu's Vita & Switch Games Interview

This interview with the French video game studio DotEmu's CEO Cyrille Imbert touches on the upcoming Vita release of Ys Origin, physical releases through Limited Run Games, and future titles. Many thanks to all involved for taking the time to answer these questions. While there is some overlap, head over to RPGamer for some chat about the console side of DotEmu's RPG releases.

Michael A Cunningham (Pocket-Console): First off, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Recently you released Ys Origin on PS4 and soon on Vita. How did that deal with Falcom come about? Did you approach them with that specific game in mind or what? If so, what was it about Ys Origin that made you want to release it on consoles? (Editor's note: I'm thankful you did, as I love Ys Origin.)

Cyrille Imbert (CEO, DotEmu): Haha, I am glad that you liked it. Ys is a great RPG series. We first started to work with Falcom on Ys Chronicles I&II that we adapted to mobile. We came to Japan and proposed them this mobile project which they accepted. Mobile was a new market for them and as we already had nice references like Final Fantasy or Double Dragon, it was not too complicated. When we decided to expand to the console market, we thought that Ys Origin would be a great way to start. We presented the project to Falcom and even if they are familiar with the console market, they liked our vision of promoting the series in new languages, like French or Spanish. There was also a lot of possibilities in terms of UI improvements, screen ratio, achievements, etc. Finally, Sony really helped us out as well, as our main point of contact there is a huge fan of the series.

MAC: Did you handle any re-translation for this version or was the XSEED PC release dialogue used in full?

XSEED was really supportive and authorized us to use the English version they did as a reference for other languages. We knew their translation was top-quality, so we thought it would be great to ask them. I am glad we did!

MAC: We are excited for the Vita version that's still on the way, is it still on track for a May release? What challenges have you faced in bringing it to Vita?

Yes, the release will be on May 30th as announced, and we are really excited! The delay is due to the fact that we made the mistake of working first on PS4. As it is a game from 2006, the optimization work in terms of performances was not too big. However, when we started to work on the Vita, we saw almost immediately that the performance optimization would take us a long time, as the device is made very different. We miss-calculated that. But the build we have in the office now looks and feels great and I can’t wait to see people playing Ys Origin on the go.

MAC: Will there be UI changes on Vita, as there were some tiny icons even on PS4? Will load times be comparable to those on PS4?

Yes, we adapted completely the UI and tutorials in all languages, to provide the best portable experience possible. Also, as we had to do a lot of optimization work for the PS Vita, the load times should be the same or even quicker than on the PS4 version. By the way, the PS4 version will most likely be patched soon so players can enjoy the optimization work we did for the PS Vita.

MAC: Any plans to work with Falcom on future ports? The company still has a few PSP games, mostly the Legend of Heroes games, that would be great to see ported to newer consoles or PC.

That would be great indeed, we are working regularly with Falcom for Ys Origin and Ys Chronicles and we would definitely love to continue to bring their other licenses too. (TLoH: Trails in the Sky would be very, very nice for example ;) )

MAC: Can you talk about the limited edition of Ys Origin that will be released via Limited Run Games? Just an art book included with it or is there more? Will the PS4 and Vita versions have the same limited edition content?

Unfortunately I can’t reveal much for now, as we are still working on it, but you will be hearing about it very soon. Yes, both collector versions should have the same content.

MAC: How has it been seeing your games released in physical format?

It’s great! Thanks to Limited Run Games we have the opportunity to actually have something that we can hold in our hands. It is a great feeling and I think we will do more and more physical editions with our upcoming games.

MAC: What has it been like working on games for Vita? Ys Origin and Windjammers both look like great additions to the system.

The Vita is a device from 2012. That implies a lot of optimization work, even for games that are old. So we need to spend more time and extra care for this kind of work. However, the final result is great: coming from the mobile scene, we love the idea of people playing these games on the go. 

MAC: How is Windjammers coming along? Do you have a release window for it yet? Will both versions hit at the same time and both have online play?

We are going to release big news for Windjammers by the end of May. So no definitive release window yet, but if everything goes well, players will be able to throw flying discs at each other this summer. We are aiming for a simultaneous release, but as we learned with Ys Origin, we prefer to be 100% sure before confirming anything. 

MAC: On the publishing side of things, you've recently released Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap on Nintendo Switch. Was the Switch release handled directly by DotEmu and LizardCube or did you have third party help? What fun challenges arose from working on the Switch release?

The Switch release/publishing and project management was handled directly by DotEmu worldwide but we got help from our friends at Kakehashi Games for the Japanese version (same for other platforms). As for the game itself, Seavens Studio handled the Switch port with a lot of implication from Lizardcube. And they did a wonderful job, given the time constraint. Nintendo really supported us on this one and we are very grateful, it was kind of a dream to be on a new Nintendo platform.

MAC: What should fans of handheld games look forward to as far as future projects from DotEmu? Any hints or teases?

As for handheld devices, we are now fully operational to go for the PS Vita or the Nintendo Switch. So when it will make sense, we will of course do everything we can to have our future releases there as well.

Pocket-Console and #TeamHandheld would like to thank Cyrille Imbert and the DotEmu team for their support of the Vita and Switch, and also for taking part in this interview.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mr. Shifty Breaks into Switch Soon

Team Shifty and publisher tinyBuild have announced that this lovely action and stealth blend, Mr. Shifty, will arrive on Switch (and Steam) on April 13. Being described as "Hotline Miami meets Nightcrawler" was all it took for me to get excited over this, as the quick action of Hotline Miami made it one of my favorite games. If Mr. Shifty can capture the quick restart feel with the trial and error gameplay, it should be a spot on winner for me. I'm looking forward to playing this when it hits next week. Mr. Shifty will be $14.99 on the Nintendo eShop.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Upcoming Nindie Games

The following titles were shown off or listed during today's Nintendo Switch Nindie showcase video as upcoming games hitting Switch.
  • 1001 Spikes
  • Away: Journey to the Unexpected
  • Battle Chef Brigade
  • Blaster Master Zero
  • Cave Story
  • Celeste
  • Dandara
  • Duck Game
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Fast RMX
  • Flipping Death
  • GoNNER
  • Graceful Explosion Machine
  • Has-Been Heroes
  • Hollow Knight
  • Hover : Revolt Of Gamers
  • Human Resource Machine
  • Ittle Dew 2
  • Kingdom: Two Crowns
  • Little Inferno
  • Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
  • Mr. Shifty
  • Mutant Mudds
  • NBA Playgrounds
  • NeuroVoider
  • Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas
  • Overcooked!
  • Pankapu
  • Perception
  • Pocket Rumble
  • Portal Knight
  • Redout
  • Rime
  • Rive
  • Rogue Trooper Redux
  • Runner 3
  • Shakedown: Hawaii
  • Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
  • Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
  • Snake Pass
  • Splasher
  • Stardew Valley
  • State of Mind
  • SteamWorld Dig 2
  • sU and the Quest for Meaning
  • Terraria
  • The Binding of Issac: Afterbirth +
  • The Escapists 2
  • The Fall Part 2 Unbound
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 3
  • The Next Penelope
  • Thumper
  • TowerFall Ascension
  • Treasurenauts
  • TumbleSeed - A Rolly Roguelike
  • Ultimate Chicken Horse
  • Unbox: Newbie's Adventure
  • WarGroove
  • Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap
  • World of Goo
  • Yooka-Laylee
  • Zombie Vikings

Friday, February 24, 2017

#TeamHandheld Report - 02/24/2017

The #TeamHandheld Report is back with three new Vita games this week. I still have some 3DS titles I want to go into, but other games keep getting in the way. And with the Switch launching next week, oh dear...

Now Playing

forma.8 (Vita)

I've just started on forma.8, but it already has its hooks in me. This action adventure title falls in line with Metroid-style exploration, but features a cute, floating circle as the main character. Flying around these open areas looking for the right path is engaging and feels different enough from the formula to be fresh. I've only just started on this one, so I can't say too much yet, but know that I will be back to talk more about it.

-Very engaging so far-

Vertical Drop Heroes HD (Vita)

Vertical Drop Heroes HD is the latest in the group of what I call slow progression games to hit the Vita, joining titles like Rogue Legacy and Bard's Gold. These are games where you make incremental progress while learning the basics in order to eventually be able to finish the level without dying. The difference here is that instead of venturing through a castle while fighting off foes and finding random treasure, your hero is doing all that while dropping vertically down the stage. Much like Rogue Legacy, you get to select from a random assortment of character types at the start of the level, each with their own unique skills. Much like the other games of this ilk, it's quite challenging and often frustrating, but that's all part of the charm...I guess.

-Another drop in the bucket-

Deemo: The Last Recital (Vita)

The Vita is a treasure trove of rhythm games, many of which people have probably never heard of, so it would be understandable if you'd never heard of Deemo: The Last Recital before now. This game is currently available via an Asian English import, but is coming digitally to North America soon, but I got a little impatient and opted for this version. It's delightful. The rhythm sections are about what you'd expect, though the music so far is lovely. There is also a story mode and it's strange, but I am not really here for that. Just give me more music.

-Hitting the right notes-


Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight (3DS) & Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker (3DS)

Both of these are still ready to go, but I've had other RPGs get in the way. I want to do these justice, so just keep hanging on.

Various (Switch)

The Switch is hitting soon, so I plan on checking out a few new games on that, in handheld mode of course.