Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Vita is dead. Nothin' to play on Vita, no Sirree...


I'm still playing Metal Gear, of course, and curious about SOMA, but lately I need my gaming to be sort of... gentle and relaxing.  And so, with the Gravity Rush 2 details we got at TGS, the original game has actually been seeing the lion's share of my gaming time, lately.  It's a bit remarkable, going back to it after the Vita became a veritable garden paradise of retro indies and psychedelic indies and ultraviolent indies and ultra-hardcore indies, plus weird Japanese stuff, and find one's self reminded of what the Vita was - and what it was to be - when Gravity Rush first landed on the platform. 

With Gravity Rush, the Vita felt like the platform it was always promised to be - a phenomenal, accomplished way to play triple-A quality titles on the go.  Here was a thrilling, new, open-world adventure with heady spiritual and philosophical undertones that actually made flying fun - which is not nearly common enough, I'll tell you - and it's so gorgeous!  Its animations are so perfect!  It's soundtrack is wonderful! 

After Gravity Rush, we got two triple-A releases from Sony.  They were both, similarly, excellent - Tearaway and Killzone Mercenary - and then the faucet stopped.  Sony just gave up on the triple-A Vita releases. 

Thank God, Japan didn't.  There are actually more high-end games coming to Vita in the remainder of 2015 that I'm going to buy than there are coming to PS4.  I mean, obviously, there are a lot more triple-A games coming to PS4 this fall - but if we limit consideration to those that I'm going to buy? There's one - Fallout 4.  The end.  (Probably.)

Before 2015 is out, I'll likely have The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel and definitely Senran Kagura: Estival Versus on my Vita.  And guess what showed up today?


I paid one hundred and twelve of my dollars for the Persona 4: Dancing All Night: Disco Fever Edition.  It comes with some DLC costumes, a Vita skin (you know I have never put a skin on my Vita?), a gold Teddy keychain, a reversible carrying pouch for your Vita and very nicely-packaged two-disc soundtrack.

I'll pay fifty bucks over MSRP just to give Atlus a financial hug.

Elsewhere, The Cove finally opened up in Darkest Dungeon today.


I gave it a quick whirl, diving in with a (frankly, badly-balanced) crew of all tanks and a healer, because all of my top-shelf DPS peeps had died of like, the plague or terror or something, and we dove into a short room-clearing run.

I was stunned by electric-shocking, free-floating jellyfish, had no attack that could snipe the gott-damned fish-men healers who kept to the back row, and had my Crusader's block knocked off by a giant crab-man.  (Tastes like crab, talks like people.)  Five stars, would get stunned by jellies again.

I also snapped up Grow Home on PS4 and September's two PS+ Vita games (La Mulana EX and Xeodrifter).

The problem with Vita isn't that there are no games.  It's that there isn't nearly enough time time to play all the bloody games it has.  ...when am I gonna' try Danganronpa?

[update] Okay, I can say with absolute certainty that P4: Dancing All Night is way, way harder than the last rhythm game I played, Elite Beat Agents (2006).

Also, if you haven't snagged Grow Home for your PS4 - it's free with PS+ this month - go snag Grow Home for your PS4.  Do this thing.  Beautiful, exploration-driven and very classic platforming.  Puts one in mind of the N64 era. [/update]

Monday, September 21, 2015

Game Diary - Metal Gear Solid V.

Her name is Pouncing Harrier.

Chamberlain, you are not alone.  Alex, too, dislikes where Metal Gear Solid has gone with V - it's too different, has too much weird extra shit like waiting for your base to build its latest platform or the tier-2 silencer for your sniper rifle.  There's too much stuff, and a lot of that stuff is suspiciously like other stuff you already did - but...

I love it.  Of course, I love it.  Metascores and critical consensus cannot always (or often) be trusted - critical consensus kept giving the Mario Galaxy games perfect scores, and I hated those fuckers - so I'm prepared to say that the consensus of two well-read gamers is perhaps more legitimate than what a review aggregate site has to say.

If you went into Metal Gear Solid V gleeful at the thought of the rather-strict linearity of previous Metal Gears, you will be sorely disappointed by V.  If you go in expecting the story to sit front-and-center while exceptionally detailed AI and skooshy stealth infiltrations sit in the background, well then fuck this game.  That is not this game.  This game barely qualifies as a core title in the legendary Metal Gear Solid series, if those are your criteria, but they're not mine.

Non-lethally choking out the dude who came to investigate why the lights went out.
That's my Metal Gear.


To me, Metal Gear Solid has always been a series that (1) loves stealth, (2) reveres and revels in our enthusiasm for what came before and (3) significantly evolves with every iteration - and every numbered entry in the series has been a significant iteration on what Kojima had done before.  He's never finished.  His formula for gameplay is a living thing that he's constantly smoothing and coaxing into new shapes while maintaining the original spirit.  No game ever dropped in this series that felt like the last one, in terms of the intricacies of its simulated battlefields.  It's always richer, always downright silly with detail and nuance and tiny little touches, but each new step in the MGS canon has always come with some significant departures from what came before.

Solid, with its extended story presentation and strange third-person controls.  2 with its first-person aiming, far more detailed world (remember shooting the pans in the galley and being all "whoahhh") and those sweet hold-ups, 3 with its incredible wildlife-preserve fauna simulations and camouflage systems, 4 with greater intricacies in all things and huge, sprawling levels, and V...

What's important, to me, is that in its moment-to-moment play, V feels like Metal Gear.  Sneaking up on a dude, whipping out my pistol and growling "hands up" is as cool now as it ever was, except now I can force the guy into the ground without touching him, or get some intel out of him about the location of the hostage I'm looking for.


It feels like Metal Gear in moments that have never appeared in any Metal Gear game, ever.

When me and my trusty war-wolf come dashing over a hill just before sunset to see the enemy outpost sprawled out beneath us, I hold down X and we smoothly transition from a flat-out run, lowering ourselves gracefully and silently into a crawl.  And I pull out my binoculars.  It's the sweetest stealth.

It's Metal Gear.  Just because Metal Gear's never been like this doesn't mean it's any less Kojima, any less stealthy, any less reverent of what came before.  Like come on, Venom Snake's silhouette is identical to his boy's, and Mother Base is basically one huge salute to The Big Shell Incident.

I could swear I've been here before...

I'm not saying I never loved watching the Metal Gear Solid games.  I could watch Ray backflip off that tanker in 2 a hundred times.  Remember when you fought Ray, while driving Rex, in 4?  It was gott-damned awesome, is what it was, but what I have always loved most about the Metal Gear Solid games is actually playing them.  Sneaking around dudes and having fun with the AI and pulling off masterworks of sneakiness - and with V, Kojima has final-tuned all of the systems he's been monkeying with for twenty years, and set them loose in a sandbox that I can spend hundreds of hours with.

Like Kojima, I find it very hard to be finished, too.  I love picking up a problem, a mission, an operation, holding it up to the light and turning it over in my hand until I've seen every facet of it.  Until I know it, deeply, to the point that I can dash into it and perform a perfect symphony of stealth.

Fuckyeah!

I have not, I should note, put a hundred and forty-four hours into Metal Gear Solid V - that's counting the times I left the game running while I went and watched a movie with Kayla or something, so my dispatched operatives' missions or base components could run down their clocks in my absence.  And yes, that's bullshit.  And yes, "MB coins" is an awful fucking thing.

I blame Konami.

But the play of the game... the way it feels, the way its AI runs on all cylinders, with so many variables, but is just stupid enough to have a ton of fun with.  The fact that I am, at the moment, playing through the campaign of a Metal Gear Game with a female avatar...

In a lot of ways, V isn't a Metal Gear game.  In a lot of other ways, it's way, way more more than I could have hoped.

ASAP: always the appropriate time.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Persona 5 delayed to Summer 2016. But Persona 5 is still coming, YAY!

What I need right now is some stylish teenagers running comically from fantastical dangers, well-produced anime cutscenes and insane-o enemy designs.



Ahhh that's better.

Land of No Night coming west for PS4. Fans want it on Vita.

Remember Land of No Night?  That kinda-yuri-lookin' RPG from Gust (the Atelier series) with nice graphics for PS4, PS3 and Vita?  Here's a recent trailer showing off a few of the hero's transformations - the "rabbit" outfit allows fast movement and quick strikes, the "mage" outfit permits party buffs and ranged attacks, the armored transformation offers solid defense and major offense, and the final winged version is considered to be the ultimate.



Annnyway, Koei Tecmo's US and European Twitter accounts confirmed that Land of No Night will be getting localized in 2016... for PS4.  To which the Twitterverse replied "um - excuse me - what about VITA?!"






Now, Koei Tecmo's US Twitter account didn't address their fans' pleas - but, thankfully, those European folks have a little thing called manners.




So here's hopin'!

Koei Tecmo's Attack on Titan looks NOT terrible!

The game's TGS trailer offers a few scant seconds of gameplay, starting at about 1:02.



It's coming in 2016 for PS4, PS3 and Vita, and... well, let's be honest, the odds of this actually having fun movement and a complete, triple-A all-around production are slim.  But it still gives an Attack on Titan fan what they want - high-speed big action moments with the mother of all box cutters.

What?  You want more gameplay to make a better-informed decision, even if it's highly compressed?  Well, okay...



And that... does not look very fun.  That looks very repetitive and not skill-based.

Hm.  Well, that's what reviews are for.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - THE NEXT THING FROM VANILLAWARE.



This is not a drill, people.  Also, color me wrong because I predicted their next game would have nothing to do with the yearly art Kamitani put out in 2013.  Turns out it does!

Now sit back, relax, and watch the first trailer for a new Vanillaware game you've never seen before aiiiii!



Okay.  Okay.  Stay cool.  Let's chat.

First of all, this is a huge departure, stylistically, from anything Vanillaware's done in the past.  Odin Sphere, Grim Grimoire, Muramasa, Grand Knights History and Dragon's Crown are all deep in the fantasy vein, while 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim seems to exist in near-future or modern-day Japan.

We see a splash of several characters in the above trailer, and several shots of different characters strolling through environments, suggesting - in classic Vanillaware form - that 13 Sentinels will offer multiple protagonists (a reported translation of the trailer notes "intersecting stories" - so there's that too).  Beyond that - beyond a mostly-empty modern Japanese city, giant robots, gorgeous presentation, awesome music and platinum blond teenagers - we know nothing about it.

Is it an action game?  Is it turn-based?  Is it an RPG?  Is it a visual novel?  Who knows!

While the action-RPG is their bread-and-butter, Vanillaware love to experiment with different genres - GrimGrimoire was an RTS, and Grand Knights History was a turn-based strategy RPG - it would not be a great surprise to discover 13 Sentinels is something the studio has never tackled before.

I... really hope it's not a visual novel.  For the record.

Vanillaware, yay!

Gravity Rush is getting a PS4 remaster.

And the collector's edition (in Japan) comes with a sweet Kat Figma figure.



Why introduce Gravity Rush to the PS4 audience, you ask?  Well, because...

Gravity Rush 2 is PS4-only.


No Vita for you.  For those of you - like me - who played and loved Gravity Rush on Vita, and are dying for its sequel on your favorite handheld, Sony has an important message: 


I mean, I guess we knew this was coming.  Between Sony refusing to confirm the platform and saying that they're basically suspending all first-party triple-A development for the Vita, the writing was on the wall...

I just... it was like one of only three really great, original triple-As on Vita - along with Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Tearaway - and now...

Siiigh.  Here's a gorgeous trailer...



...but a PEGI (UK ratings board) version of it exists, which pretty much guarantees it's getting localized.  So that's cool.

Also, here's a lossless version of said trailer, if you'd like to hit download, go get your Vita, return to your computer and watch it in greater glory, while clutching your favorite platform and rocking back and forth, weeping gently.

Danganronpa V3 announced.

For PS4 and Vita.  Here, have an announcement trailer.



I have... no fucking idea what's going on here.

...I nabbed Danganronpa 1 and 2 on the cheap with a PSN flash sale a few weeks ago... really should try those...

Hey look, Toukiden 2 has a prerendered trailer.

So prerendered!



We also got word today that it'll be open world - new for the series.  It's comin' for PS4, PS3 and Vita.

Exist Archive TGS trailer.

Every time I ready anything about Exist Archive - an RPG from Tri-Ace coming to PS4 and Vita on December 17th in Japan - I find myself hit by a gentle wave of sadness that I'll never get a sequel to (Tri-Ace's) Resonance of Fate.

God, Resonance of Fate was awesome.  But this game also has people doing cool spinny shootie moves with guns, so I'll have to buy it.  It's almost pure gameplay!



Wow, this is actually the first post I've made on Exist Archive.

Whelp.  Now you know.  Exist Archive is a thing that... exists.

Ni-Oh is coming to PS4.

Looks kinda' like Dark Souls with stiffer combat, and samurais.

...I fucking love samurais.



Interestingly, Ni-Oh was originally announced as a PS3 launch title.  It... didn't make that window, obviously, but it appeared on Famitsu's readers' most-anticipated-games list every year for the past decade, so Koei Tecmo was like "ehhh I guess so."

Also, 60FPS.

Hey look, a new Dark Souls III trailer from TGS.

Violent!

Bloodborne: The Old Hunters coming November 24th.


Welly welly welly.  We knew it was coming, but it's still pretty darned nice to see!



Here's a lossless version of the trailer, if you prefer.

So what've we got, here?  Well, if you were watching closely, you saw a new magic spell, a new flame/hammer weapon, a new folding blade weapon (like the sawblade, only more chef's-knifey), a bow and arrow, a shield, and some sort of double-buzzsaw-on-a-pole thing.

We've got new environments, at least one new boss in the form of Ludwig, here...


...new enemies, and - at the very least - remixes of classic fights from Vanilla Bloodborne, including Vicar Amelia and a flaming version of the Cleric Beast!

Well, obviously, this is happening.  Fallout 4 be damned.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Cove comes to Darkest Dungeon Sep 29.


The above image represents the entirety of today's announcement - but it's a pretty big deal to those of us who've fallen for Red Hook's atmospheric RPG.  Since its Early Access launch in February, only three (of an eventual five) dungeons were available to us - the Ruins, the Weald and the Warrens - and the Cove promises new unique foes to drive our heroes mad, new environments to tremble our way through and new mysterious curiosities offering boon and dread in equal measure.

Plus, we'll get to kill fish-men inspired by Shadow Over Innsmouth, so that's pretty cool!

One question it raises, though.  Red Hook promised The Cove would drop in "late September," with the full game - and the titular Darkest Dungeon - becoming available, suitably, in October.  Is one month really enough time to finish the game off?

I... kinda' doubt it - but Red Hook's done a spectacular job, so far.  Keep the faith, brothers and sisters.  Keep the faith.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I've been playing Metal Gear Solid V.


And... yeah, man.

Yeah.  This is a goatee contender.  A very strong one.  I wish Chamberlain were better at it. 

Last night I traipsed across Africa, completing side ops and clearing every outpost I came across - stripping them down to the foundations.  I cleared a huge one, set up C4 on their comms equipment and radar dish, and hit the trigger as I stalked up a hill to take out a sniper and clean the house behind him.  The radio lit up with soldiers talking about hearing explosions, and dispatching someone to check it out.

By the time I came out of the house, a hundred yards down the hill, in the outpost, a huge truck pulled in.  The soldiers inside were explaining to their commander that everything - every weapon, every soldier, every supply container, ever bit of resources in the outpost was just gone.  Just gone, man!

"Search everywhere!  Find the intruder!  Further losses will not be tolerated!" their boss shouted back at them.  Dutifully, they both hopped out of the truck, to begin searching the outpost.

Then, I attached a balloon to it, and stole their truck.  Then I stole them.

10/10 would steal again.

Also, this is a thing.


A thing that is happening.

Fallout 4 S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Video Series - Strength



Charmed, I'm sure.

"Thirteen Mecha Soldier Defense Zone" from Vanillaware to be announced at TGS?

Sega announced their TGS lineup today with no big surprised.  Persona 5 will be there, Phantasy Star Online 2, yadda yadda yadda, and... in the source code for the site, something called "Thirteen Mecha Soldier Defense Zone" for PS3, PS4 and Vita.

...which folks think might be the thing Vanillaware said they'd tell us more about in September.



People are also pointing to the yearly art Vanillaware put on their site back in 2013 as "the middle image has the Mecha name on it,"


but I seriously doubt this will have anything to do with the game.  Vanillaware put up a piece of art every New Year's which never, ever bear any resemblance to the games they're working on.

Whatever this is, I'm hoping it's turn-based.

...still burnt we never got a localization of Grand Knights History.  But whatever it'll probably be on Vita and that's all I need.  Vanillaware + Vita = happy happy Chance happy happy.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Personal Note - wah wah wah.


I am, dear reader, weathering a storm of stress, at the moment.  It is shearing off my better traits like a sandstorm, wearing them down, wearing me down to the point that I become a shapeless, angry lump with little features beyond a weary, impatient scowl.

I won't bore you with the details, but at least one of my personal tragedies will have played itself out, by the end of September.  Until the end of September - at least - I remain fortune's fool, and life's repeated transgressions have left me bitter and selfish.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain came out today, and I really don't give a shit.  Mad Max: Fury Road too, and I don't care to watch it.  I bought them both, of course - maybe just out of habit - but I feel no giddy thrill at the prospect of watching the opening of the newest and perhaps last Metal Gear game.  Food doesn't even taste the same.

What I'm getting at, here, is that I can't care enough, right now, to be a good blogger.

My apologies.

Also Galak-Z is fucking amazing.

The Deer God is now available on Xbox One.

Remember The Deer God?  That Kickstarted game where you grow from faun to stag, having little deer babies along the way as checkpoints?



Well, it's out today - right now, in fact - and free for Xbox Live Gold subscribers.  Platforming looks a little iffy to me, but it still has a lot of the charm it sold itself on last year.