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Vita shooter Velocity Ultra free this week on PlayStation Plus

FuturLab’s Velocity Ultra is this week’s featured addition to the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection, giving subscribers a chance to check out an underrated PS Vita gem free of charge.

Velocity Ultra is both a vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up…
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REVIEW / Demon Gaze (Vita)

 

Demon Gaze is one game that, under normal circumstances, might not get your attention.   As old-school dungeon crawler’s go, the terrible 3D dungeons, partially voiced dialogue and seriously lacking musical score might initially have you regretting your purchase and trading it in for something else.  However, it would be something of a mistake to ditch this one before giving it a chance to show you what’s under the hood.  Seemingly never-ending, anime-inspired shapely heroines and disappointing graphics aside, this RPG from developers Kadokawa Games and Experience Inc. has something about it that will keep you playing until the very end.

 

Beware my muse. She's a fickle b!$ *# with a short attention span.

 

In this game, you take on the role of a Demon Gazer, a rare breed of warrior that can capture the souls of demons and use them as powerful allies.  Having lost his memory while exploring a dungeon, he meets up with another Demon Gazer who has lost her powers and takes it upon herself to train you in the ways of the trade.  The in-game action is reminiscent of early dungeon crawler classics, in other words it features old-school difficulty as well as slow turn-based battle mechanics.  All action in the dungeons takes place in first-person view.  Each dungeon is even more perilous than the last and tasks you with leveling your character sufficiently enough to eventually face down and defeat the dungeon boss.  One disappointing aspect of Demon Gaze is that there is no 360-degree movement therefore in order to traverse the varied environments, you have to walk through grid-based locations that offer a myriad of branching paths with plenty of enemies and loot scattered throughout.  Having the view this way doesn’t allow you to actually see yourself or your party but you do get the option of placing your party member’s in strategic formations to enhance your battle effectiveness.

While exploring the dungeons, battles are either triggered as you walk around the corridors or are static encounters.  You can usually go around the static encounters but you will still be confronted by enemies that pop up randomly.  This is a game where you will need to do some grinding if you want to be sufficiently strengthened to face the dungeon bosses, so fighting enemies as you come upon them only works in your favor.  And don’t just think that you can breeze through the combat because you would be sadly mistaken.  You and up to five party members will need to have a strategy prepared for basic attacks, spells and defensive schemes when you come face-to-face with waves of enemies out for your blood.  There will be times when enemies that you have confronted will wipe out your entire party so to balance that out, you need to have a party that consists of characters that possess efficient combat abilities so that you are never at a disadvantage.

 

Beware! Monsters ahead.

 

Although the character designs in Demon Gaze are very spectacular and are inspired by anime, the dungeon art is severely lacking in imagination and polish.  The character designs are very sophisticated and are very unique.  It is clear that a lot of time was spent designing characters that would be interesting and help to set the theme of the game as a whole.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the dungeon designs.  The locations outside of the Inn, where you have a room rented, are drab and very unappealing to look at.  It is such a jarring experience to view the awesome artwork of the characters and then to travel into the world and be presented with environments that do not balance with the rest of the game and seem like they were tacked on after everything else in the game was completed.

The score for Demon Gaze was another chance for Kadokawa Games to really wow the player yet it ended up being a missed opportunity.  By about the second hour of playing, I was already tired of hearing the same score over and over.  Boasting between 30 to 40 hours of gameplay, it’s hard to believe that a more robust musical score wasn’t included with this game.  Sound effects, however, are meticulously spot on and really help to get you into the battles and feel like you are landing some serious blows on your opponents.  The voice over work as well is some of the best that I have heard and really is one of the finer points of the game.

 

Don't be fooled. These little guys are dangerous.

 

Demon Gaze is a throwback to a time when RPGs were simple, didn’t spend a lot of time holding your hand and threw you into the world telling you to succeed at all costs.  At times, it feels cheaply made but the steep challenge that it presents to the player will keep you hooked for hours on end.  Regardless of the ugly environments, you will find yourself wanting to conquer the next dungeon or see what cool weapons and items that you can find next.  For the price of admission, you really can’t beat the length of gameplay and the immersion that will happen when you get sucked into the quirky storyline.  As far as RPGs go, Demon Gaze is a perfect fit for the Vita and one that you should add to your library.

 


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Minecraft to hit PS4, Vita in Q2/Q3, can transfer PS3 worlds

Earlier this month, Minecraft developer Mojang announced May 16 (North America) and May 14 (Europe) release dates for the game’s boxed PS3 edition. In the comments of the PlayStation Blog announcement, Mojang’s Owen Hill noted that the developer is…
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Danganronpa 2, Fairy Fencer F, Disgaea 4 dated for Vita in North America

North American Vita owners are going to be busy this fall, with two RPGs and a mystery-centered adventure on the way from NIS America. IGN reports that Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited will lead the effort on August 12, followed by the…
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Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Origins headed to PS Vita

Konami has announced plans to bring a horrifying duo to the Vita via the PlayStation Network. Silent Hill: Origins and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories are both planned for European release, with a date to be announced shortly.

A press release from…
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Dynasty Warriors 8 bug reports requested for PS4, Vita versions

Tecmo Koei has issued a public request for feedback from players experiencing bugs within the newly launched PlayStation 4 and PS Vita versions of Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition in an effort to fix widely reported issues.

The…
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PSA: Terraria upgraded to version 1.2 on Xbox 360, PS3, Vita

As expected, the console versions of Re-Logic’s 2D sandbox platformer Terraria have been updated to version 1.2 today. The update brings a large list of bug fixes as well as improved gameplay mechanics and graphical changes to the PS3, Xbox 360 and…
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Season 2 of The Walking Dead haunts Vita next week

While the Vita still lags behind its console and computer counterparts, fans of Telltale’s critically beloved The Walking Dead won’t have to wait much longer for the second season of the emotionally charged zombie adventure.

Barring any unforeseen…
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Silent Hill: Origins and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories combo set to hit the Vita through the PSN

Konami has teased that both Silent Hill: Origins and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories will hit the PSN and be available for the Vita soon, though no actual release date was given.

She's a little chilly

Previously released on the PSP, both titles are priced at just £7.99 Euros each, so odds are the games will hit Europe at some point, with other regions hopefully following suit.

Origins is a prequel to the original Silent Hill. You play as Travis Grady, trucker, as he enters the fabled town to find information on a young girl he rescued from a fire. The title uses the series’ third-person perspective to follow Travis as he explores the town, collects items, and has nasty childhood memories manifest into nightmarish creatures because that is what Silent Hill ALWAYS DOES TO PEOPLE.

Shattered Memories is a bit different. Regarded as the most innovative entry in the series and originally created for Nintendo’s Wii, the title adapts its gameplay based on decisions the player makes. Basically a re-imagining of the first Silent Hill, Shattered Memories is framed by a visit to a psychotherapist that asks users questions as they recount the story of original protagonist Harry Mason’s search for his missing daughter. Characters in the game will react differently to the player based on how they are approached, the questions they are asked, or how Harry interacts with them physically. Combat is also taken out of the equation entirely, meaning gamers have to flee from the town’s creatures while simultaneously having heart attacks.

Anyone interested in picking these up? I think I might head to the store and pick up the Wii version of Shattered Memories for $ 5.


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REVIEW / Conception II (Vita)

 

The act of childbirth is often held as a wondrous event across the world. Within Conception II: Child of the Seven Stars, it’s a completely different story as you conceive countless children with various women and take them into battle with you to protect the world. If you thought that was weird, we are just getting started. Atlus has brought us a game that is unique in some ways and yet painfully dull in every other aspect.

Conception II starts off with an absolutely beautiful cinematic as you approach this island that only those with the blessed mark may enter. As you enter what seems to be a military camp fused with a Japanese high school, you meet various individuals who have also been blessed by the Star God. What are these blessed teens doing here? Well, saving the world of course! Dusk circles have begun to open all across the globe, spewing out monsters that wish to destroy the world and it’s up to you to save it!

 

 

You won’t be alone on this quest, though; you’ll take your children with you. Not long into the game, you can start building social links similar to that of the Persona series with many of the females. Then, you can begin “classmating” with them. Yes, that euphemism is an actual game term and gameplay mechanic. Doing this allows you and your heroine of choice to bring a tiny, individual “star child” into the world to fight alongside you. Up to nine of these little fellas can join you as you go fight monsters in the dusk circles, as they work in teams of three.

When you create a star child, you can assign a variety of classes to it. These classes are very varied as not only weapons make a difference but also skills that the child may learn. Creating a team of star children with various classes is probably the best strategy going forward in the game without any problems. Each child and heroine also has an element that contributes to the team in various ways.

 

 

The dusk circles are laid out as labyrinths, not unlike that of the Persona series. These labyrinths are bland and boring as they all look very similar and feature more than enough dead ends. These locations might be randomized, but they look and feel the same with their mazelike corridors and dreadfully similar design structures. Each floor has a way for you to escape and a way for you to climb up to fight the boss of that particular dusk circle.

The battles are what make this game different, but not necessarily in a good way. When you go into battle, you have your standard selection of actions: attack, defend, flee, use skills, use items, etc. You also have turn order for yourself, your heroine of choice, your star children teams, and then the enemies you may be facing. Strategy isn’t a huge factor with battles sadly, as the game features a mechanic that allows you to aim for the weak spot on each enemy. This mechanic might have been more interesting if the game didn’t blatantly tell you exactly where it is. Abusing this mechanic is incredibly easy and can take the fun out of the game very quickly until you near the end of the game, where enemies become much more complex and prepared for you to attempt and strike their obvious weakpoints.

 

 

While Conception II features the very usual JRPG elements we are used to such as dungeon crawling, grinding, and repetitive battles; they also mix in some parts of a dating sim. If you want to make stronger star children, then the females you classmate with need to have a strong bond with you. This makes you take time from the labyrinths to get to know all of the seven classmate-able females in the game.

While the game only cuts away to a 3D render of the two classmating individuals holding hands, presenting the act as an innocent ritual, the dialogue couldn’t be more blatant. Sexual humor floods the dialogue and innuendo is featured in almost every part of the game. From the dialogue mentioning bust sizes and sexual acts, to the females breasts performing gravity defying acts of bouncing at every possible moment, it is clear that it takes more than a handshake to make star children. The game tries to get away with talking about sex without talking about sex all too often and it left me setting down my Vita and walking away just to get a break from the high school maturity of it all.

 

 

The biggest problem with the game isn’t the battle system nor the sexual innuendos. It’s the plotline. All of them. The female heroines all have pretty dull plotlines; the main story is extremely dull and doesn’t give you the want or drive to continue forward in order to save the world. Nearly an hour or so into the game, I found myself strongly disliking the English voice acting, so I went to the options to change it to Japanese. The option wasn’t there – it was missing. So being stuck with what seemed like try-hard voice acting made me both disappointed and almost irritated towards the late parts of the game.

Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars starts off as a decent game but quickly heads south because of its lack of imagination and a strong plotline. The battle system is possibly the only saving grace, alongside the new and novel idea of having nine star children accompany you on your battles. This game just falls flat though, especially when compared to the ocean of other similar games available on both the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita. If you haven’t already played the other staple JRPG games on your handheld system, then try those before giving this one a try. While Conception II can satisfy the craving for a JRPG game, there are other more delicious offerings available.

 

 


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