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Action-RPG Sword Art Online: Lost Song hits PS3, Vita in 2015

Publisher Bandai Namco has revealed that Sword Art Online: Lost Song, the latest adaptation of the popular Sword Art Online manga and anime series, will reach both the PlayStation 3 and Vita at some nebulous point in 2015.

As its name suggests,…
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Themes coming to Vita in imminent 3.30 system update

If the aesthetics of your Vita handheld are looking a bit drab, don’t worry: A system update slated to hit the device “later tonight” adds support for a host of themes that can alter the appearance of your Home screen, Start screen, icons and…
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REVIEW / Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (VITA)

 

Back in the early days of video games, conventional side-scrolling brawler games like Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Final Fight were all the rage. The reason being was that they were easy to learn and fun as all get out to play. The gameplay was simple; just brawl your way through the stages while collecting food items for health and loot items to boost your score. If you are feeling nostalgic and are looking for something that has all of the fun and action of the early days of video games with an updated design, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds from Mages and 5pb Games has all that and some. Offering a multitude of loot drops, fast-paced brawler action and a very deep character skills set upgrade system, this brawler will pummel your senses like nothing else available on a hand-held console. It’s been almost two years since its release on the Xbox 360 and it has finally made it’s way over to the VITA.

 

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Fights can break out anywhere. Even in a video game arcade.

 

The story in Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is your typical fare consisting of a stereotypical bad guy, Phantom, who is trying to reclaim his powers of darkness by kidnapping the younger sister of your friend and the journey to rescue her begins. The gameplay, however, is anything but typical. Stages are side-scrolling affairs with the battle action taking place in the foreground and the mid-ground with the background being filled with amazing locations such as shopping centers, sewers, forests and office buildings. You can play as one of four female protagonists initially but there are other characters that you can find during the journey as well as some DLC characters that you can download. The enemies come at you in waves as you use all available real estate to dispatch them and claim the spoils of their demise all while earning skill points to level up your character, power up items to boost your attacks and coins and jewels to boost your score.

During gameplay, you can use the D-Pad or the left joystick for movement as well as to perform certain attacks. The square, triangle and circle buttons are used for the weak, medium and strong attacks, respectively while the X button is reserved for your special attacks. Attack combos can be pulled off by using a combination of taps on the D-Pad and button presses. Each character has their own signature attacks to compliment the standard attacks like punches and kicks. There are also special attacks that can be done once the Burst Gauge has filled to a certain amount or all the way. Of course, waiting until the Burst Gauge is completely filled will open up the largest can of whoop-ass available. In addition, the left shoulder button is used to jump between fore- and mid-ground in order to maneuver around the stage and to get in the best possible attack position.

 

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This is what happens when the Burst Gauge is filled; momma looses her $ #!&.

 

The battle system in Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is surprisingly robust and really helps to add a new twist on a once overabundant video gaming staple. The addition of a Burst Gauge and the corresponding D-Pad taps and button presses to perform certain attacks are a gameplay mechanic from fighting games so it should be familiar right from the start. Having battles take place on two different planes isn’t an altogether new idea for brawlers but having them stuck to one plane or the other is. In games like Double Dragon, your movement is not restricted to two planes but you can in fact move your character freely from one plane to the other or anywhere in between. In the case of Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds, being that there is only so much screen space to work with on the VITA, it helps to allow the player to keep track of their character. The one drawback to having to jump back and forth is that if you are in the mid-ground and a larger enemy is in the foreground, the larger enemies can actually obscure your view of the battlefield and can totally block out your character altogether.

 

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Enemies come in all shapes and sizes so make sure to position yourself where you can always see your character.

 

The artwork in Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds immediately grabbed my attention. While the opening intro is done in an anime styled montage, the game itself is done in this really unique stylized pixelated technique. It has a very retro feel to it while at the same time setting itself apart from how most games in this genre from other Indie studios are doing their artwork. Colors are bright and playful in the outside areas and dark and dank in the indoor or underground areas. The character designs for the heroins are very cutesy and unique. The enemy designs are also a sight to behold with many of them sporting retro ‘80s styled outfits like acid wash jeans, bright pink wigs, studded denim jackets and pencil ties. There are also a few demon types that will show up and help to round out an eclectic, if not downright colorful, cast of fleshy punching bags.

The soundtrack in Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is the icing on this tasty brawler cake. Tracks are done in a cool chip-tune style that really takes you back to the time of 8/16 bit consoles. The tunes are very catchy and serve the onscreen action very well. 5pb games has done an awesome job of getting the feel of the era just right and the soundtrack is what makes it all happen. It was also a nice surprise to see that the voice overs are all in their original Japanese glory with English subtitles. I think that this helped to maintain the distinctly Eastern feel of the game.

 

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I had a red jacket like that back in the day. Those guys have style.

 

Those individuals that say that they can’t get on the bandwagon because the VITA doesn’t have any games need to come up with a new excuse. To that I say, in my best Patton Oswalt voice: “No Games!? Aw, come on, you’re not even trying!” This year has seen some really good games released for this platform and even though Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds has been around for a couple years, it is still a very welcomed addition to the VITA library. The structure of the game is perfect for on the go action and/or short gaming sessions. There are no deep story lines that you have to keep track of in order to understand what is going on.   Just balls-to-the-wall brawler action with a soupcon (a slight flavor) of certain RPG elements. If you are still on the fence about the VITA I can guarantee that if you play this game, you will be hooked.

 

The post REVIEW / Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (VITA) appeared first on That VideoGame Blog.


That VideoGame Blog

OlliOlli2 ramps up for PS4, Vita release in 2015

High-flying skateboard stunt sim OlliOlli is getting a sequel on the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, developer Roll7 announced today.

OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood expands on the framework of its predecessor with split-route levels, an improved grinding…
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REVIEW / Metrico (Vita)

 

Bar graphs. Pie charts. Histograms. These are things that should be kept in math class, not in videogames. Digital Dreams, a new videogame developer, tried to make the newest trend of information graphics (i.e., infographics) into a fun platformer for the PlayStation Vita called Metrico. Its success, however, may not be as high up in the charts. No pun intended.

 

 

Metrico has no plot. The game starts by asking whether the player wants to play as a man or woman and drops that avatar into the world of infographics. The gameplay has a very experiential nature to it; it does not give the player much hints as how to progress except for a short tutorial of the newest aspect at the start of each world. It leaves the player to figure out how to work each graph by jumping, running, shooting, or killing enemies.

Each world consists of a few levels of graphs that the player has to manipulate in order to progress to the next level. There are a few ways to progress to each level, but the game is mostly a puzzle, which means a simple mistake can lead to restarting the level. While the game is short with only six worlds with around eight levels each, the game can take longer to complete because mistakes are so easy to make when there are really no hints as to complete the puzzles. However, for very apt players of puzzle games (or resourceful by using a guide), the game can feel very short and boring.

 

Running, jumping, shooting, and/or killing will manipulate the infographics.

Running, jumping, shooting, and/or killing will manipulate the infographics.

 

Players should not expect fireworks and fanfare at the end of each world (and completing some very difficult puzzles). What does await at the end is a choice to go with a very vague statistic: two percentages of a whole. Players can then decide to go with the popular or the unpopular vote, and whichever they choose increases that statistic. The statistics at the end of each world really serves no purpose in the game and may give players an underwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

Speaking of accomplishments, trophy hunters, or PlayStation players who like to complete all aspects of a game, will get frustrated. Many of the trophies consist of playing the whole world with some type of restriction, whether it may be jumping a certain number of times to never hitting the restart button. Failing to do so, means restarting the whole world again, which means having to sit around three minutes for the world to fully load as the game is graphically intense with seamless transitions to each level.

 

Making a simple mistake may mean restarting the whole world for those who want to achieve everything.

Making a simple mistake may mean restarting the whole world for those who want to achieve everything.

 

Metrico, however, is a very aesthetically pleasing game. The developers play around with colors and light in each world, and it creates worlds that have individual themes. The game also utilizes all functionality of the Vita, from its motion sensor to its cameras although they are introduced to the game as the players progress. At one point toward the end of the game, there is at least one level where all of the Vita’s functionality must be used to complete it.

 

The game is beautiful even when it is black and white.

The game is beautiful even when it is black and white.

 

All in all, Metrico successfully paints a eye-catching game utilizing infographics, but sadly fails to create an innovative puzzle platformer. The game should be meant for a rental, but as of right now, Metrico is only purchased digitally. If this game is available with the advent of PlayStation Now, that would be the perfect time to play it.

 

The post REVIEW / Metrico (Vita) appeared first on That VideoGame Blog.


That VideoGame Blog

Final Fantasy series developers unveil Zodiac for Vita, iOS

French developer Kobojo has assembled a team of Final Fantasy series veterans for Zodiac, an upcoming multiplayer online RPG for iOS platforms and the PlayStation Vita.

Taking place in a persistent online world, Zodiac features gameplay that spans…
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Final Fantasy Agito+ is a free Vita game for Japan

Final Fantasy Agito is coming to Vita in Japan as a free game called Final Fantasy Agito+, due out on January 15, 2015. A new trailer details the Vita game, with information translated by Final Fantasy Union. Final Fantasy Agito+ contains the content…
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Sony UK boss: The Vita is ‘trucking along’

“There’s a perception that it’s fading away. I can absolutely assure you that that’s not happening. It’s proving remarkably resilient.” …


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Jungle Rumble brings musical monkey mayhem to Vita ‘very soon’

Developer Disco Pixel has announced that its rhythm-based platformer Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas is coming to Sony’s Vita handheld.

In Jungle Rumble, players control a troop of monkeys that must battle an opposing simian faction…
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Marvel Super Heroes star in LittleBigPlanet Vita rerelease

Just over two years after the adorable burlap creatures of LittleBigPlanet first reached Sony’s Vita, the charming, creative platformer is being relaunched with an extra helping of Marvel Comics cross-brand synergy.

Dubbed LittleBigPlanet PS Vita:…
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