Monday, June 30, 2014

Personal Note - Gwendolyn.

There but for the grace of God.

Almost three years ago exactly, I wrote that I didn't want to want a Japanese PVC figure, but in the case of Odin Sphere's Gwendolyn, I wanted a Japanese PVC figure. At the time, I held back because such a purchase was, no doubt, the first step towards becoming one of those otaku whose bedrooms you see pictures of - filled wall-to-wall with hundreds of eroticized bits of plastic, clutching body pillows with naked cartoon characters on them. 

Then, last year - I'm not sure, entirely, why - perhaps just because Muramasa Rebirth on Vita reminded me, I went ahead and bought Momohime. This year, a company is coming out with three high-quality Dragon's Crown figures, which you know I'm all up in, and once I had orders down on those, I started to wonder... why not just go ahead and get Gwen? 


Gwendolyn, the warrior princess of the Valkyries, sold by a power-hungry father to a tortured soul who offered genuine love, who fell in love in return and fought her way through Hell and into Heaven, battling alone against the dragon who would eat the world and sacrificing herself against the apocalypse of Ragnarok to save her beloved Oswald.  

If I'm going to be a guy who has PVC figures at all - and I already am one of those - I want one of those figures to be Gwendolyn. 

So now she stands next to Momo, in front of a signed print of Harley Quinn, as drawn by Jamie Tyndall. 


Like the Dragon's Crown girls, Sif's Gwendolyn is a nicely accurate representation of George Kamitani's concept art:

Gorge Kamitani's concept art, and the Yamato SIF EX figure.

She's not as dynamic as (Alter's) Momo or Alter's Gwendolyn - a lovely figure far more collectors purchased, which highlights Gwen's badassery and doesn't suggest her vulnerability.  I love that Yamato's Gwen features a look of innocent distrust, and is accompanied by the bird.  (In Odin Sphere, after her elder sister's death, Gwendolyn would often see a blue bird who gave her advice, and encouraged her to stop seeking the love of her evil father, and accept the pure affection of Oswald, the black knight - only at the end of the game does Gwendolyn realize that the bird does not speak with the voice of her sister, but her own.)

So that's two out of five Vanillware figures down.

Three to go.

Some new Mighty No. 9 work-in-progress footage.

Damnit.

This trailer makes Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles look kind of awesome.



I love that Raph seems to have a larger part, here.  When we were kids, I was Raph.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Some games are the games you want them to be.


No Man's Sky is the indie darling, right now, and the game is still a long ways off.  Oh sure, we're all hyped for Hyper Light Drifter and Hotline Miami 2, but twice in the past six months, No Man's Sky appeared at a video game event, and twice No Man's Sky kinda' became the game no one can shut up about.

It's probably had more coverage, more articles, more hype since E3 than the latest Assassin's Creed - and that's pretty huge - but Ramzeltron raises a good point.


Which is wise.

When the game was announced at VGX, we all kinda' peed ourselves at the concept, but at the same time it was like, really?  Really, this was put together by four guys at the studio that made Joe Danger?  An infinite universe in which everything is procedurally generated?

That's insane.

It's been explained a bit, now - yes, every plant, animal, rock formation, forest, river and planet is procedurally generated - but it's not quite as infinitely-organic as it seems.  The system creates planets by randomizing sliders on everything from vegetation density to the length of a herbivore's neck.  The devs themselves create those templates - they create a basic antelope-like animal, with the basic features - and then have sliders for all of that creature's aspects - the size and shape (and existence) of their horns, the color or pattern of their hide, and so on and so on.  If the game rolls the dice and the planet it's generating has antelope-like animals on it, it runs its randomization on all the sliders Hello Games have permitted an antelope-like creature to have, and what comes out the other side is... procedurally generated.

Once explained, it seems totally doable - totally reasonable - but it's the questions I have that make No Man's Sky so exciting.

Is this a space station?  I hope it's a space station.  I hope I can land on it and trade goods I've obtained from space piracy.

No Man's Sky's public face is that of Sean Murray, an adorable, bearded, accented fellow who beams with love at what his team are putting together, and he describes far more than an ambient experience that sees the player passively wandering around an infinite number of procedurally-generated planets going "nice trees!"  He describes a universe alive with interstellar commerce, militaries, societies and intelligent alien species interacting with each other - and I'm dying to know how the player interacts with them.

You can't procedurally-generate dialogue, can you?  If I can land on a space station and trade for goods, is it procedurally generated?  Has Hello Games put together a dozen alien species that are responsible for broad swaths of the galaxy we'll be exploring, and we'll communicate via text options at spaceports, or is it even more ambitious?  Is it less?  Will hostile species call me on my space-radio and warn me to stay back from their borders, lest they train their Omega-7 disintegrators on my ship's vulerable hull?

'Cause that'd be awesome.


All those unanswered questions are part of why No Man's Sky has prominently featured in the post-E3 conversation - because the game Sean Murray grins and gushes over has sparked our collective imaginations with everything he hasn't told us, everything we haven't been shown.  We fill in those gaps, automatically, with our hopes for the game - and Ramzeltron's not wrong to suggest those hopes are describing a game that cannot exist.  I mean, that'd be crazy.

But sometimes, man.  Sometimes the game you see in your head - the game you want - is the game you get.


Games do come along that redefine what you believe video games can be capable of.  Fallout: New Vegas actually happened, man.  That's real.  Far Cry 3 and Batman: Arkham City and Dark Souls - those are games that are so damned good we could not have reasonably hoped for them to exist - but here we are.

We live in a world where sometimes - not always.  Not even once a year - someone makes the game you've been dreaming of.  Once in a blue moon, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas happens.  Once in a lifetime, Dragon's Crown happens.

And hyped as I was for Dragon's Crown, I didn't expect it to be Dragon's Crown.  I expected Vanillaware to give me another Odin Sphere or Muramasa - a game I'd find myself absorbed in for forty or fifty hours, but no more.  I didn't expect to still be playing it, 220 hours later, because I told myself I really should put more time in to Battle Princess of Arcadias today and convinced myself to instead get re-familiarized with all the things it's not, and ended up getting ten levels on my Sorceress and speccing her into the Curse spell so now I can turn those goddamned red cap goblins into frogs.


No Man's Sky could be one of those games.  I can't guarantee anything, of course - it could also be another Watch Dogs or Thief - you never know.  But I kinda' doubt it.

But I keep on thinkin' about somethin' Sean Murray said in his PlayStation Blog video.  About how, when he was a kid, this was the game he imagined playing.  For years, he went on hoping someone would make the game he saw in his head - the one he wanted to play - until he realized that he'd just have to step up and make it.  It's that kind of personal vision and creative ownership that gave us games like Dead Space and Mark of the Ninja - that gives rise to the special ones.

Sometimes the game on the disc is the one you saw in your head, when you saw its first trailer.  No Man's Sky could be one of those games that changes the world - that redefines what we believe a video game can be capable of - and, if nothing less, trying to do what's never been done before is an excellent place to start.

Believe.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

On my walls.

Heavy Metal Hanzo's Lollipop Chainsaw fan art.  One of my all-time faves.

Over the past three weeks, I've been nabbing cheap frames from Wal-Mart and printing out 11x17-inch high-quality color copies of some of my favorite gaming images.  A lot of these were already hanging, in some form or another, but these are my absolute favorites - worthy of expanded dimensions.  Printing at Staples is surprisingly cheap and easy - just fill up a USB drive with JPEGs and PNGs, fire it in to their system and run them off - but I'll admit, I'm pretty tempted to go in and get them to do a custom printing of this little number:

Key art from Resonance of Fate.

It looks far better at 11 inches across, but my original version of this image is 4680 pixels by 6000 - it's ridiculously large - and it's one piece that I'd really love to have as a full-sized poster.

For a long time, I only had two Vanillaware pieces on my walls - the cover art for Odin Sphere...


 ...and the clean art for the Play magazine cover which features Muramasa's Momohime erotically battling the game's secret boss, the giant octopus...


...and given my affection for both games, larger-format pictures are very satisfying.  Even better, the larger frames and printing permitted me to finally add the cherry to the top of this Vanillaware cake, with the character select scene from what is now one of my favorite games of all time, Dragon's Crown.

I love the bored look on the Amazon's face.  She's like "let's just get the fuck out of here and kill something."

With Muramasa and Dragon's Crown, though, I wanted to have some pure screenshots as well, showcasing not just the art design but the remarkable beauty of the games themselves, while in action.  To that end, I've got the Momohime-Vs-Samurai screenshot that took me so long to successfully take...


...though now, I'll admit, I wish I'd taken it while she wielded a sword that was metal-colored, not pink. And while I've got a shot of the Elf in action at my office, for my home office, naturally, I went with a huge printout of the Amazon layin' the smackdown on some lizardmen.


...I just kinda' wish it had her name as Chance instead of Babette.  Oh well.  To go along with that giant image, I also printed out one of my all-time favorite screenshots, period - Leanne/Reanbell in combat with a walking tank in Resonance of Fate, soaring through the frame in a backflip as a grenade detonates beneath her.


Oh, and some Tomb Raider stuff I've always liked.



So now those are nestled in amongst Eddie from Brutal Legend,



Justin Currie's Looming and Ah!  A Snake! and, well... many more.


Dem's stylish walls.

Styx: Master of Shadows is a game I want to be good.



Okay, so this is a B-quality stealth game from the folks who made the 69-Metacritic Of Orcs And Men, starring that game's stealthy goblin Styx.

In a world where orc and goblin-kind have suffered genocide at the hands of the humans and elves, one goblin will have his revenge.  I like the idea!  Here's 14 minutes of pure gameplay, which doesn't exactly make Styx look like the prettiest goblin in the room - but while stealth is a genre that's very, very easy to do wrong, it's also a genre I always want to see done well - and the very concept of playing a sneaky goblin against a tower full of murderous, evil humans is pretty darned appealing to me.



Plus I think the Wretched Clone, who's literally retched up by Styx, is pretty clever.  But I love puns.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Resogunagain.


I have, honestly, barely thought about Resogun since Chamberlain and I completed our score duel last year.  Resogun Heroes - a five-dollar DLC pack - dropped on Tuesday, which provides a somewhat-randomly-generated survival mode, and we both gave it a peek and immediately began prodding each other with messages regarding what our scores were and the other's weren't.  In survival mode, it's impossible to ever drop your multiplier (which would disappear if you went too long without shooting an enemy in the game's campaign), and you have a single life.

One hit will kill you, unless you nabbed a shield pickup (and kept it).  Like Resogun proper, it remains entirely a score attack game that is won solely on the strength of your kung-fu.  And my kung-fu is strong.


I don't believe our new competition is yet complete, but I will say that there came a point yesterday where I absolutely did not believe I could beat his score, after trying for like ninety minutes.  Fortunately, Chamberlain is simultaneously willing to wear the guise of my opponent and my sifu, and he reminded me that I really should be using my overdrive as much as possible (I was literally never using it).

And so...


I really should have bought the season pass - and would have, for the extra three bucks, if I knew it existed - as Resogun is one of the most purely fantastic experiences you'll have on your PS4.

Elsewhere, Kayla and I have taken to playing Dragon's Crown together on our Vitas.  There's part of me that knows I should be playing on my Amazon with hers, the better to (1) edge my Amazon closer to the level cap and (2) help her through Infernal mode, but this week at work I put up a framed print of one of the only safe-for-work screenshots I have of the game,


and it really got me hankerin' for some hot elf action.  And now, for the moment, I find I have some time to kill.

I think I'll go practice my horse stance.

No Man's Sky - The Story of Hello Games is a must-watch.

Watchit.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Free DLC coming to Octodad.


That is... exactly what the game is like.

Octodad is a breath of fresh gaming air, so I'll happily go back for seconds - as long as Kayla's there to laugh along with me.

"Octodad Shorts are DLC levels we're releasing for FREE, which explore new scenarios in our tentacled father's life. New levels were our number one most requested feature (next to making the game free), so we've been hard at work doing what you all tell us to!

- Over 40 new objectives!
- Over 20 breakable plates!
- Over 0 unconscious ragdolls!
- Under 4 new songs!
- An unspecified amount of new octopus sounds!
- Probably a pizza!
- 0 Stealth Missions"

The "0 Stealth Missions" part is appreciated.

The Order 1886 dev diary - creating the half-breeds.



One day, man.  One day I'll see uncompressed footage of this game.

inFamous: First Light coming August 26th.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

July is another great month of free Plus games.


PS4 gets indie multiplayer favorite TowerFall Ascension and the Strider reboot.  PS3 gets Dead Space 3 - which despite being the worst Dead Space game is a fine game, so I'll definitely download that - and something called Vessel I've never heard of.  Vita gets the totally-awesome Muramasa Rebirth (yay for Kayla, but I can't buy it digitally twice) and Doki Doki Universe, which I'll be happy to check out.



I tried out Strider's demo the other day and didn't think much of it, but free's an attractive price for anything - and speaking of demos, I'm gonna' go check out Blue Estate.

[update] Blue Estate controls perfectly well with the Dualshock 4's giros, and headshots aplenty are easy and comfortable to come by, but in the playing of this rail shooter I find myself wondering why anyone would want to play a rail shooter, when they could just be playing a shooter.

This genre existed because, back in the day, you could put a fake gun in an arcade and holding that gun and seeing things get shot on the screen felt cool.  Then someone got the bright idea to let the player decide where to move, and dictate the ebb and flow of the combat themselves - why anyone would want to take a step back is beyond me.

I'm gonna' go load up my old Totori save and craft some bombs. [/update]

Road Not Taken is coming to PS4 on August 5th.


The lovely survival/puzzle game also got a pretty bad trailer today, which in no way trades on any of its actual strengths.



But there's also some pretty boss wallpapers available over at the PS Blog.  Oh, and they say the Vita version will come "later this Fall" - so I'll be playing Road Not Taken later this fall.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A few points of interest.



Rail shooter Blue Estate dropped today for PS4.  Twenty bucks for a comedy-driven rail shooter..?  That's actually a bit appealing.  I haven't played a pure rail shooter since House of the Dead on PC, but Blue Estate is controlled entirely by the giros in the Dualshock 4 - that is, you aim by tilting the thing - which sounds awful, but this one guy at IGN says it's cool, so...

On the other hand, it's IGN, so...



Resogun got an update-slash-DLC pack that adds a new mode, lets you play local co-op and design your own ships PLANET EXPRESS SHIP!



Yeah, that's happening.

Also, Atelier Rorona Plus finally landed on Vita, today - the first game in the Arland trilogy and the last to get the Plus treatment - which just reminds me I really need to finish Totori, cause Alchemist of Dusk actually looked pretty cool and if Gust keeps being so cool about making and localizing Vita RPGs, I should probably just get on board.

Today, on my lunch break, I played four games on my Vita.  ("Four games!?" exclaimed Kayla.  "I didn't finish four games," I noted.) I started the tanker chapter on Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and it just kinda' served to remind me that Kojima's controls used to be willfully terrible.  Then I played a bit of Olli Olli and a bit of Hotline Miami before I tripped, and fell into...


And it's like ohhh shit, son.

Monday, June 23, 2014

REVIEW - The God of War Collection on Vita.

The Vita's God of War Collection offers up-ports of God of War (2005) and God of War II (2007), which catapulted developer Sony Santa Monica to industry fame.  They're adventure-brawlers, entirely, with the occasional rare bit of puzzle-solving to wade through before you're back to cracking skulls and taking names.

There's a famous quote from (God of War director) David Jaffe, that goes like this.  When he pitched the game - a blatant Devil May Cry ripoff - to Sony executives, they told him "there's nothing innovative about this at all," to which Jaffe replied, “I don’t care about innovation. I care about fun. I think we can execute this better than anybody.”

And they did.


It's worth noting that almost a decade has passed, since then - these games have aged - but it's equally worth noting that when God of War II appeared, it put games appearing on the then-new-generation Xbox 360 in their place, and - rather like The Last of Us did in 2013 - blew people's minds with what the aged hardware was capable of.  God of War doesn't look bad, per se, but it's not as lovely as any vita-native game would be.  God of War II, for the most part, continues to look pretty damned incredible thanks largely to Santa Monica's exemplary design and art direction.


As brawlers, the God of War titles have never exactly been in competition with the Devil May Crys and Bayonettas of the world - this is not a frame-specific infinitely-deep ultra-brawler - but in the same way a good, mouth-filling pizza can often satisfy in a way a four-star meal cannot, God of War's comfortable accessibility and mean challenge permits it combat a tactile thrill, throughout.

It's worth noting that, since God of War, many action games have gone on to revel in ultra-violence - but God of War was the first mainstream title to blow our minds with the savagery of its hero.  I still remember the first time I snatched a harpy out of its air, stomped a foot on its torso and heaved back on its wings until they tore free - it was revelatory.  Like the first time you saw Ninja Scroll as a kid, God of War broke down barriers, and set standards that its peers have emulated to this day.


Okay, enough about God of War's hallowed legacy.  Are they worth playing on Vita?

The easy answer is, if you're a fan of these two games, the Vita versions are console-perfect ports.  They look far superior to their original PS2 versions, with generous upscaling from their native sub-HD resolutions to the Vita's 960x544 screen.  Framerate never stutters, all effects are lushly intact, and it looks... well, perfect.

The only caveat are the game's cutscenes, which were pre-rendered for the PS2 titles and have not been recreated, here.  What you get are the original cutscenes, exactly as they appeared, and filling up far fewer pixels and being far blurrier than the game that surrounds them.


If you've never experienced a God of War game, but enjoy brawlers as a general rule?  Yes, these games are worth picking up, as God of War II holds up beautifully over time and continues to offer a soaring, far-bigger-than-life adventure that most modern brawlers can't quite reach.

Beyond graphics that were remarkable for their time, God of War and its sequel are textbook examples of video game pacing and design.  They just clip along beautifully (the Hades sequence in God of War not withstanding), veering from a beautiful, quiet set piece to a colossal, blood-soaked brawl and back again, never pushing too hard, and always letting up when it's time for a breather - it's hard not to get swept up in Kratos's insane quest for revenge on the deities who wronged him.

God of War Collection on Vita is an excellent port of some excellent games.  The mechanics are smoothe and comfortable, the design is excellent, and the graphics are a bit dated - plus, you get to rip the wings off harpies.  And Icarus.



That's always a good time.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Who'd'a thunk it?


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Want to play the first level of Firefly's Diary? Like, right now?

Without even leaving your computer?  Nippon Ichi's got a flash version of it right here.


There's also a game where you shoot the mysterious little horned girl out of a cannon here, but it is - ironically, I suspect - non-canon.

Thanks for pointing this out, Vagrant Winds!

Finally.


I'd like to thank my publicist, who never stopped believing in me ^.^

That's where wizards come from.

The Destiny Alpha was all kinds of awesome - and, honestly, the best way for Bungie to really let folks know what the deal is, with their game (they were doing a terrible job at just explaining it) - but perhaps the most memorable part of the experience was a line offered by your AI-companion "Ghost," voiced by Peter Dinklage.  "That wizard came from the moon."

Now... some folks think it's a terrible line.  I disagree - it paints the Destiny universe in richer colors, reminds us that its scope spans far more than the mere Earth, and raises some succulent sci-fi questions.  It is, then, fitting (heh) that Bungie took it, and spun it into merchandising gold:





I don't wear T-shirts, but I'd totally buy this as a hoodie.  Bungie, hook me up with a hoodie.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Game Diary - Battle Princess of Arcadias.

There's a big difference between a princess and a battle princess. 

2D sprite-based action-RPGs are my kryptonite, and exposure to one renders my usual defenses moot.  Within (literally) ten minutes of booting up Battle Princess of Arcadias, I got a message from a friend asking for impressions - "positive, so far, but I literally only just finished the first battle," I told them.

I goofed around for another half-hour or so, grinding some levels on the first fight and trying my hand at the first boss, which leverages the game's Batallion mechanic, in which you both fight in traditional ARPG style and give orders to your crew of adorable AI warriors via a frustrating little menu in the top-right.

As you scroll through the orders you want to give, the game keeps on playing, and kicking your ass.  After a try or two, I beat the boss and called it a night.


Upon booting up the game the next day, I discovered no save game data existed.  I'd searched for a save option, but couldn't find one and reckoned it must be auto-saving (no such luck!).  Turns out it's buried in the menu you can only bring up from the map screen, and the game doesn't tell you that.  Handy!

But, armed with a bit more experience in the game's systems, I forged on, re-grinding my levels much more efficiently thanks to the familiarity, beat that boss like it was on easy mode and moved on to the game's first batallion-versus-batallion fight.

I'm not sure I get the batallion-versus-batallion fights.


Some batallion types (axe) are strong against other batallion types (sword), so I selected only batallions that had up arrows against the type I was fighting.  They still managed to kick my ass, somehow, and I don't know why.  If I use defense formation, they kick the shit out of me.  If I use attack formation, they kick the shit out of me.  I just squeaked out a victory, and I have no idea how I did it.

So after a bit more time, my initial impression of BPoA has gone from "positive" to "mixed," but "mixed" isn't "negative."

The game is very pop-JRPG-Nippon-Ichi style.  Princess Plume is a cheerful nutcase in the classic sense, always enjoying everyone's company, always greeting everyone with a cheer, always loving the idea of going and fighting another colossal monster.  That's her business, of course - she's a battle princess - and while she and her respectable weapons have defeated thousands of foes, she just now, today, learned that the things she kills actually die.

Until her squire told her, she thought the fact that she keeps fighting the same enemy types over and over again meant they were coming back to life, and coming back for more fisticuffs.  Learning she'd been killing things over and over did get her a bit depressed - but only for a moment.  After all, she has a kingdom to defend!


The presentation and animation are a very far cry from Vanillaware's gold standard, but every character and enemy in the game are undeniably cute.  Even with the briefest of encounters with the game, it's clear it offers a colossal degree of customization, with at least ten playable characters to lead your troops in to battle (each with different weapon types, combos and skills) and your standard wealth of gear to deck out your heroes with.  You level up your batallions, and those batallions gain different benefits in battle when certain leaders are commanding them.

There is a lot, it seems, to see and do, here, and while I keep telling myself I need to investigate Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes further, I'm more interested in finding out if Battle Princess is a game one should care about - 'cause honestly, at this point, I can't tell.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

MiniReview - Borderlands 2 on Vita.

Borderlands 2 on Vita is "the worst version of a good game."  That's true, but I can't make it my final word on the subject.  Textures are far lower, framerate isn't (nearly) as smooth as on consoles and details are reduced.  I wasn't the biggest fan of Borderlands 2 on PS3 in 2012 - it's not a perfect game, and didn't feel any great need to check out its Vita port when it launched in May.

Reviews, in general, were pretty negative about the port - but I picked it up anyway.

Why?  Because fellow gamers in every gamer forum I visit were telling each other it actually does a fine job of letting you play Borderlands 2 on the go.  In 2012 I suggested that, for all its faults, "an open-world space western lootfest RPG/FPS is still a beautiful thing", and two years and one platform later, that remains true.


Even in its reduced role, here, Borderlands 2 retains all those delicious facets that made it a hit in the first place.  It wasn't because it's the best damned shootin' game around - it wasn't true on your PS3 and it's not true here, as Killzone Mercenary still holds that distinction on Vita - it was because the game is a huge, rootin' tooting open-world sci-fi-western FPS RPG with all the fixins.

It doesn't hurt that the Vita version includes Gaige the Mechromancer and Krieg the Psycho, the two interesting character classes that came along as DLC in the original game, along with the Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty and Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage expansion packs.

Despite fitting in your hand, Borderlands 2 retains its hugeness.  It provides a colossal world to wander and the endless pursuit of ever-higher levels and ever-deeper penetration into your chosen skill tree.  It continues to offer a literally-infinite number of possible guns to obtain and turn against your foes (all guns in Borderlands 2 are randomly-generated, save for a few mission-specific weapons that usually suck).  It still allows for a cool wealth of character customization, its quests are still zany fun, its characters are still entertainingly written, funny and well-acted.

It has grenades that teleport out of your hand to detonate twenty yards away, spliting into twelve enemy-seeking projectiles which robs foes of their health as it applies fire damage, and returns that health to you via ethereal, floating first-aid symbols.  That's awesome.

Everything you loved about it there is here.


It's just that the framerate's not quite there.  Before going hands-on with it, I was terribly worried that its controls would hurt the title.  The Vita lacks R1 and L1 buttons, and its un-clickable analog sticks lack the L3 and R3 inputs.  It makes up for these with the left and ride side of the touchscreen functioning as buttons, as well as the left and right edges of the rear touchpad.  The default control scheme didn't work for me, at first, but after mapping things where I wanted them - exit vehicle and grenade on the front touchscreen, run and melee on the rear touchpad - it plays great.

You can remap every single input in Borderlands 2's Vita version, and it's a lovely addition.  The game is perfectly comfortable to play, now, and one finds themselves losing track of time while fighting off psycho bandits with a slag-throwing submachine gun in one hand and a brutal shotgun in the other.

And that's... all Borderlands 2 on Vita needed to do.  It needed to offer the same breadth and depth - the same content, the same sense of humor, the same scale, the same huge experience - and it does.


Borderlands 2 works on Vita.  I didn't believe it at first.  Back in May I "strongly suggested you wait for reviews," but the final word is this:

The framerate is lower than on consoles, but it hasn't limited my ability to shoot and snarl and kick asses across Pandora on the go.  Once again, even with its faults, an open-world space western lootfest RPG/FPS is a beautiful thing.