Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Vita To Plays - Volume 2

Greetings, #TeamHandheld. I'm back with volume 2. As I head into this crazy week of being treated for a brain tumor, I figured what better way to distract myself than by playing and writing about all these Vita games. Well, here's my thoughts on one great game (Cosmic Star Heroine) and nineteen others.

Vita To Plays - Volume 2

Cosmic Star Heroine

I've been waiting for Cosmic Star Heroine to hit Vita for a while now. Even though I backed it on Kickstarter and received a PS4 code last year, I supported it because I wanted it on Vita so I patiently waited to play it there. I have to say that it was definitely worth the wait. With a large cast and a four character party system, it does so much that I enjoy in an RPG. There are times when you are focused on using specific characters and also times when you have total freedom of party choice. It balances the best of both worlds in this case, though I sort of wish I'd gotten more focused time with the cast. The story is well paced, skills unlock at regular intervals, new characters are introduced at a brisk, yet perfectly extended pace as well, so you are not overloaded from the start. Combat was fun throughout, and when I finished the story, I was happy to go back and collect all the trophies I had missed to get the platinum. It might have taken a while to hit Vita, but it was worth the wait and I'm thrilled to be able to play it on the go.

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk didn't start me off with high expectations after all of the other Omega Force failures I've had this lately, but imagine my surprise when this one actually gets to the point fast and had me wanting to play more. While I am not familiar with the source material, the dark tone fits the creepy, slow combat well and the spooky characters and unsettling narrative made me stick around longer than normal. I don't think this one will take me the distance, but I was more impressed with Berserk than anything else similar to it so far.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds

I've been collecting quite a stack of visual novels/otome games, so I figured I'd finally give one a shot. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds was already downloaded, so I fired it up. It has a very interesting start, which is nice, because it didn't beat around the bush with a lot of filler in the prologue. I'm curious about it enough to stick around for more, but we'll have to see if the pace keeps up as I jump between a lot of games.

Attack on Titan

Well, I just couldn't get a break Omega Force titles, but at least I am getting through them quickly. Attack on Titan brings about a twist by having players be able to jump around and swing at enemies instead of just the standard bum rush. That said, wow is the swing and attack awkward to pull off reliably. Even during the training sections I felt like I was just blindly flying around accomplishing nothing. Sorry, but this one is another hard pass.

Azkend 2: The World Beneath

What the heck is Azkend 2? I was asking myself the same thing when I downloaded it. Turns out that it's a match-three puzzle game with an adventure game overlay. While I don't have much time or interest in this style of game right now, it seemed decent enough, though parts of the adventure side were a little directionless.

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND

I have no idea how many BlazBlue games there are, but I feel like I've tried all of them on Vita. These 2D fighters are pretty, but I just can't get into them. Sadly, BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma EXTEND hasn't broken that trend.

Broken Sword 5 The Serpent's Curse Episode 2

While it's not fair to judge Broken Sword 5 The Serpent's Curse Episode 2 without having finished Episode 1, I'm pretty sure that I'm never going to play the first so I might as well get this off my plate. The story in the original started off slow, so diving right in here with a tad more context might have actually been fine. The UI is a little awkward, but once I adjusted to it things started going smoothly. Oddly, I now am somewhat curious about going back to see how long it would take to get through both.

Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires

Oh Warriors games, we both know better by now. Why do we even bother with each other? Not only is Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires full of hack and slash combat that doesn't hold my interest, but there's also a lot of story and strategy that holds no appeal for me. At least this was over quickly.

Escape Plan

Escape Plan is solid enough for a puzzle game, but has done nothing to hold my interest. It's just another ordinary puzzler in a sea of puzzle games. Oh, and it uses the Vita back touch, which is always a turn off.


Flower is a beautiful, peaceful game. I've already played and enjoyed it on PS3, but it looks just as lovely on Vita. The controls are a little bit awkward here, but I hate motion controls on portables and the movements do work better on a controller.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved

After hearing about Geometry Wars for years, I was finally able to get some time with a game in the series. Yes, I know Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions is from a completely different developer than the originals, I still had to download it and try it out. And guess what? It feels like a twin stick shooter. Nothing special, but this is also not my genre.

King Oddball

King Oddball feels like a game I'd play on a kiosk at a Chili's. You get three stones to swing at and hit vehicles sitting on different platforms per stage. It's kind of catchy like a free download on mobile (which it might have been), but I'll probably move on...after one more round.

Kung Fu Rabbit

Kung Fu Rabbit seems like a decent, though extremely basic platformer. You jump, collect carrots, avoid black gunk, and eventually attack enemies from behind. Not seeing the appeal of this one at all, sadly.

Lemmings Touch

I've always been curious about the Lemmings series, having followed it for years, but Lemmings Touch is my first hands-on with it. While I can see the puzzle appeal, it is just not my thing. I don't have enough patience to really give this enough time to make a solid judgment call on quality, it just wasn't for me.

ModNation Racers: Road Trip

ModNation Racers: Road Trip feels like what you get when you try to mix Mario Kart and LittleBigPlanet, but you leave out the charm and fun characters. Controls are sluggish, it feels slow, and is just boring. Pass.

Samurai Warriors 4

Oops, here we go again. At least this one gets to the action a lot quicker, but I still struggle to care. Sorry, Samurai Warriors 4.

Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3

Oh, check this out. Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 lets me start off by creating my own character. That's pretty cool, but why does she looks so much worse in action than in the character creator? Oh who cares? I'm already back to the boring hack and slash, even though I was able to speed through the boring dialog sections. It was sort of cool to get dialog options, but they didn't really mean enough for me to care. Please no more Warriors games.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is pretty interesting, but I am not too keen on the stealth aspect it focuses on. The controls on Vita don't feel precise enough to make this feel comfortable to play. It's nice to see something this meaty on the system, though.

Super Star Wars

Super Star Wars appears to be a faithful re-release of the original SNES game based on A New Hope. You start off as Luke shooting creatures in the desert and then move onto flying around attacking jawas. Though it plays well, it still has the SNES trappings like limited lives. It was fun for a few stages, but I'm not in the mood to go backwards like this right now.


Have you ever wanted to play Limbo, but replace the creepy kid and brutal deaths with lessons about fonts? If so, then Type:Rider is the game for you. It's super simple and totally steals the Limbo vibe, but it works...if that's what you are looking for.

That's all for now. I've got a lot left to get through, so maybe next time I can plow through tons of the Atelier games. A little with each should be enough.

Today's To Plays: 20
Current Remaining To Plays: 66

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Vita To Plays - Volume 1

Greetings, #TeamHandheld. I'm back with another little project. Cancer has taught me that there's not enough time in life to play through and complete every game in my backlog, so that's not a goal of mine. What I have decided to do is at least play SOME of every Vita game I own. As of this posting, that's over 450 games counting physical and digital releases. I was curious how many I had actually played and found that the number was quite high, so I started a list of all the ones that I hadn't yet touched. That was around 85-90 games, so this column marks the start of where I go through this list as I at least sample a little bit of every Vita game I own.

I had two options in doing this. I could just play these games and mark down that I had done so on a spreadsheet somewhere or I could opt to write a small note about each one. There was no way I was going to be able to do a longer post on each, so it was either a brief statement on each or nothing. Not every update will be this large, and they will be sporadic, but for now enjoy following my newest crazy goal.

Vita To Plays - Volume 1

A Virus Named TOM

A Virus Named TOM is a rather interesting puzzle game where you have to flip pipes around to complete paths which allows you to "hack" into systems like a robotic dog. Neat score based concept with a quirky setting, but not really something I'm into.

Bit Dungeon Plus

This is another example of a fun game ruined for me by permadeath. I just can't get behind games where I can't at least make incremental progress and restarting Bit Dungeon Plus over and over just didn't cut it.

Burly Men At Sea

This is a very interesting take on branching story points, but it gets a little repetitive to see the minor variations and doesn't have a satisfying wrap up, as nothing really happens. The art style is lovely and the story is charming, but Burly Men At Sea just seems to float along quietly, even after going through everything to get the platinum.

Dead Nation

A zombie-killing third person shooter? Dead Nation could be fun multiplayer, but I wasn't in a place to accept the invite I received. Impressive that I even received one for as brief of a time as I played which speaks a lot about this game. Again, not really my thing.


Oh...flOw looks like it could be fun, but wait, motion controls...on Vita. Ugh, I'm getting sick. Nope, I should have just played on console where I don't have to move my head around like a crazy person, but that's not going to happen either.

Laser Disco Defenders

Ouch, randomly generated levels in this twin stick shooter. Not only that, but the lasers you shoot stay in the level and bounce around. Laser Disco Defenders totally seems like something that is not my type of game, but for some reason the quirky disco visual theme and music had me coming back for more, even if I did keep losing over and over.

Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition

While Mercenary Kings looks like a Metal Slug-type run-and-gun, and that's definitely how I tried to play it, I've found out that it's actually more of a 2D Monster Hunter with guns. I'll have to give this another shot with that in mind in order to be fair, because the standard run-and-gun method was not working for me at all.

Midnight Deluxe

Midnight Deluxe is a fun stage-based puzzle game where you have to make your way across the level, avoiding traps and accomplishing the right tricks to progress. Some of the solutions are creative, but the analog stick aiming makes it harder to accurately accomplish what you know you need to do.


This is a curious puzzle game where you have to lead a tiny monster across a group of people who cannot see it or they will kill it. You have to figure out certain tasks that will distract or appease the people in order to progress. MonsterBag is pretty charming, so I could see myself coming back to it.


I'm so happy to see NeuroVoider on Vita finally. I just struggle with games that have roguelike structures, as I never feel like I'm making progress. The inventory system here is a tad cumbersome, as I never really could tell at a glance what was going to be best to use. The game was more fun than I was good at playing it, if that makes sense.

Penny-Punching Princess

This is a neat concept having the ability to bribe enemies instead of fighting them, but for a fast action game having to bring up a calculator and type in numbers mid-battle is ridiculous. Penny-Punching Princess might work better as a turn-based RPG or TRPG instead, but that's just me.

Rogue Aces

A dog fighting game where you shoot up other planes, aircraft carriers, and buildings. Rogue Aces is kinda tough to get adjusted to the flying controls, but it works once you do. I felt like I was playing Top Gun on NES again, though, because I just couldn't make a ton of progress.

Root Double -Before Crime * After Days- Xtend Edition

Now Root Double starts off with a very interesting premise for the story, though it's too early to know much about what's going on and too detailed to fully explain here, but it seems to involve a lot of character interaction and some variation of time travel or something like that. The problem I had is that there is a weird favor meter for each character when you make choices, and it has to be at the correct intensity or something to impact the outcome. It was clear when you should use it, but I didn't quite catch at first glance how best to use it.

Smart As...

Smart As... is the no-longer-supported attempt at a Sony Brain Age game with online stats and all kinds of interactive features. Like many other Vita-related efforts from Sony, it was bailed on, but it seems like an interesting daily distraction if you're into that without the online components.

Urban Trial Freestyle

Urban Trial Freestyle is a Trials-style motorbike game where you race from checkpoint to checkpoint trying to get money and complete tricks for a high score. It was fun for a few minutes, but I quickly lost interest.

That's all for now, but progress has been made. Now to start on something that I hope will keep me busy longer than a few minutes, Cosmic Star Heroine.

Today's To Plays: 15
Current Remaining To Plays: 81