Friday, May 20, 2016

#TeamHandheld Report - 05/20/2016

I've got a slightly shorter #TeamHandheld Report this week, and as such I'm doing a deep shallow dive into my backlog to clear some of these games off. I own quite a few Vita games that I've not written about yet, so I'd like to touch on as many as possible here. That's going to mean some backtracking, but I'm good with that. I only received a couple of comments about me covering PSP stuff here, but it did give some ideas for others things to try in the future. Thanks for the input.

Before I get to the good stuff, I have two quick things to mention. For those of you who bought Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, you can fill out this form from Sega and mention how you've love to have Valkyria Chronicles 3 on Vita. Not sure how they know you bought the game, but I'll trust you to be honest.

Second, Mr. Tired is once again back on Kickstarter to try to get funding for its RPG/Visual Novel Undead Darlings. While initially for PS4 and PC, there is a stretch goal of $115,000 for a Vita version. It seems lofty, but if this sounds interesting to you then check it out here.

That's it for miscellaneous content, so let's get to playing. Oh, one more thing...keep an eye out for something special soon on the main site.

Now Playing

LittleBigPlanet Vita (Vita)

With a name as creatively bankrupt as LittleBigPlanet Vita, it's hard not to expect this to be an uninteresting experience. That's especially true for me, as I've been vocal about my lack of love for LittleBigPlanet over the years. I was surprised when I actually found this one to be enjoyable. Sure, the game's jump is still a little too floaty for my tastes, but the level design on this one was pretty solid. One issue I have here is something that too many Sony properties try to do on Vita, and that's to force touch screen functionality. This is rarely a smooth process to have players juggle between the touch screen and regular controsl (see Tearaway for a good example), but here you'll be moving around and have to use your finger to move a block or press down on a booster which means you have to move your hands off the real controls to do so. It's something that bothers me anytime a game does it, because it splits my focus in the least natural way possible just to show off the touch screen.

That complaint aside, I can see why people claim this to be the best LittleBigPlanet out there, as it's the first to not bore me within the first level. While still far from being on the same level as some of my favorite handheld platformers (like the awesome Super Mario 3D Land), this one is at least a solid entry. Tarsier Studios should have been given more to do on handhelds than just this, as they seem to be a very talented group with a decent eye for portable design.

-The best LittleBigPlanet I've played-

Superbeat: Xonic (Vita)

After playing DJMax Technika Tune last year, I was excited to see how its spiritual successor would do. When Superbeat: Xonic hit late in 2015, I played a little bit of it and didn't really get drawn in like I did with other rhythm games like DJMax or Persona 4 DAN. The music selection wasn't the problem; it was the gameplay that struggled to keep me engaged.

What I loved about DJMax was the videos that played during each song, as they were entertaining to watch and kept me wanting to replay stages to watch them again. Xonic relies solely on the music to keep you going, which while great, wasn't enough for me. Each stage lacks any videos or much interesting at all going on visually, so any sort of drawing power those other games had for me is lost here, as I could just listen to the music outside of the game for more enjoyment. I understand the budget was probably too small for the studio to get rights to music videos, but that's no excuse for lacking any sort of eye-catching content during the gameplay sections. It got boring fast, and I found myself returning to P4DAN and DJMax instead.

-Good music, but bland stages-

Bravely Second (3DS)

I figured I should briefly touch on what I've been playing the most over the last week, even if I've already talked about it once here. Bravely Second has been eating up most of my 3DS time of late, though I've got strange feelings about it. The story and characters are still charming and the real highlight of the game, but I have mixed feelings on this one's job system.

This is something I talked about on Twitter the other day, but here's some extra detail. I really love RPG job systems, though I often don't like how they are implemented in games. Many times you have very little time to find out if you like a job and want to keep using it until you've spent a lot of time with it to unlock the higher level skills, but then you get other jobs too quickly and are soon covered up.

That's my current issue with Bravely Second. I'm in chapter two, have over ten jobs unlocked, and feel like so many of them are just wasted. I've just picked ones I think I'll like and have stuck with them, grabbing a new one here and there. I don't feel as if this is very efficient, like many of these jobs were pointless to even have. It's tough to be that upset over this, and I don't want to just call out Bravely Second for doing this, as it's often commonplace in games with job systems. Either give me tons of easily swapped jobs with a few well-defined skills or a limited set of jobs with tons of skills. Having both just seems like a waste. Rant over.

On the positive side, I really like being able to fight high level Ba'als that have been weakened, but still give lots of experience. This has helped me to level up as I feel like it and then just avoid all random battles in dungeons. It might not be how the developers want me to play this game, but they've given me this option and I love it. Time to go bust some more Ba'als.

-Some issues, but still going strong-

Upcoming Games

Downwell (Vita)

This downward dropping game hits Vita next week, so I hope to get a chance to check it out. Looks really sweet.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (Vita)

Nothing new on this front...still coming soon.

#TeamHandheld Updates

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