Archives for posts with tag: Handhelds

Switch console
I’m pretty excited about the Switch. I have to admit, I like the idea of a hybrid console quite a bit; while I love my home console blockbusters as much as the next person, I have a lot of admiration for my handhelds, because they offer games that either don’t see release on home console, or that just make sense to play on a smaller screen wherever you are. Games like Danganronpa, Steins;Gate and Bravely Default, and others like Rhythm Thief, Yomawari and Etrian Odyssey make systems like the Vita and 3DS worth owning, so the prospect of a machine that gives me both my handheld fix and Nintendo’s evergreen home console titles certainly excites.

Before the unveil, when rumours of a hybrid console were still just that, Nintendo moved to consolidate its handheld and home console teams, leading many to believe that their new machine would give gamers the best of both worlds in one box, offering a steady stream of typically home console-style titles and more traditional handheld fare, all in one place. Post-reveal however, the waters were muddied somewhat when Reggie Fils-Aimé, President of Nintendo of America, stated that the Switch would not serve as a replacement for the company’s current handheld, the 3DS. This statement was further strengthened when, during a Nintendo Direct stream for the Fire Emblem series, a new handheld-only title was announced.

Of course, it’s a good thing that Nintendo are continuing to support their 65 million-strong 3DS userbase, but the only thing I could think in the aftermath of that announcement was, “why couldn’t they put that on the Switch as well?”

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, a ground-up remake of the Japan-only 1992 Famicon game Fire Emblem Gaiden, lands on the 3DS in May, just two months after the Switch itself hits store shelves supported by a pretty meagre launch line-up. Of course, by May, new Switch owners will also be able to get hold of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a Game of the Year-style port of the Wii U kart racer, as well as, presumably, a handful of other games, such as Disgaea 5 and Puyo Puyo Tetris. And while there was also an announcement for a new, Switch-only Fire Emblem at that Direct presentation, it won’t see release until sometime next year. So it strikes me as a bit odd that Nintendo didn’t think to put Echoes out on both systems, giving gamers the choice of where (and how!) they want to play the game, while also bolstering the Switch line-up at the same time.

It seems to me that Nintendo have an opportunity here to both beef up their new console’s catalogue and transition gamers over from the 3DS, by releasing those handheld games – and I’m making the assumption here that Echoes won’t be the last ever game made for the 3DS – on the Switch too. One problem here could be price, as gamers aren’t likely to pay significantly more money for a game that they could just get on their existing 3DS, and pre-order pricing for Switch games is currently a bit out-there (Super Bomberman R for fifty quid, anyone?). What I’d like to see Nintendo do is to make the games available on the same day and, crucially, at the same price for both systems. I’d be perfectly happy to pay, say, £30 to play a Fire Emblem Echoes or a Link Between Worlds-style Zelda adventure on my Switch, filling the gaps between the likes of Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey.

Project Octopath Traveler, from the Bravely Default team, suggests we will see smaller-scale, traditionally handheld-style games on the system.

Project Octopath Traveler, from the Bravely Default team, suggests we will see smaller-scale, traditionally handheld-style games on the system.

This is a new concept for a games machine, one that can be used as either a handheld or a home console, so lets see it take advantage of that unique selling point and bring as many games into our hands as possible. Handhelds like the 3DS and Vita are overflowing with tons of little Japanese curios, visual novels, old-school jRPGs and rhythm-action games, and sadly, eventually those systems are going to be put out to pasture. I want the Switch to pick up that slack, to continue that legacy, while pushing up the minimum target spec, allowing for more technically-impressive handheld games while also bringing Nintendo’s stellar home console output right into my lap, all at the same time. I want to see Nintendo really embracing the handheld aspect of the Switch; I want to see it become a super-powered successor to the Vita and 3DS as much as it is a sequel to the Wii U, even if they do keep insisting its primarily a home console.

Because if they mean to support the Switch and the 3DS separately, we have to wonder why they ever bothered to merge their handheld and home console teams in the first place.

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Tomorrow, the sequel to one of the 3DS’ most celebrated jRPGs hits European shores, as Square Enix’s Bravely Second: End Layer lands on store shelves. Like Bravely Default before it, the sequel is also getting a deluxe collector’s edition, and because I bought that, I also bought this. Because I’m a sucker for limited editions.

So, what’s in the box? Well, it’s a similar deal to the first game, containing a large art book (the main draw for me), a figurine and a mini soundtrack CD alongside the game – there’s no pack of cards this time, however. One of the things that surprised me with the original game’s limited edition was the size of the box, and there’s little change here; while the box is a different shape, it’s still huge. Where am I going to put this thing!?

Bravely Second Deluxe Collector's Edition

Opening the box, we’re greeted with a lovely piece of black and white art of new character Magnolia on the inside lid, as well as a look at the game box, the soundtrack CD, and the miniature figurine of Agnes in a small box, all sitting in a cardboard tray. Lifting out this tray, we find the art book hiding underneath.

Bravely Second open box

Below, you can get a look at the full contents of the box, before we take a closer look at a couple of the items.

Bravely Second full contents

Probably the only complaint levelled at Bravely Default‘s collector’s edition was the quality of the included Agnes statue. While quite large and weighty (I believe it’s made of polystone), the paintjob was pretty messy, and it just didn’t really look like Agnes at all. That’s been fixed for Bravely Second; while the figurine is much smaller and made of plastic, it actually looks like Agnes, and is a much greater representation of both her in-game look and Akihiko Yoshida’s artwork. In the gallery below, you can see a comparison of the two, but here’s a close look at the figure itself.

Bravely Second Agnes figurine

Last up, here’s a look at the art book, the headline item as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, it’s not hardback like the original game’s book, however, we’re getting a much thicker tome this time, and it’s not just an art book. Here we have a full design works book, collecting production sketches and artwork from right across the game’s development. Included are the original Japanese notations, complete with English translations. I haven’t looked too deep into it for fear of spoilers, but a quick flick through suggests this book will be an absolute must have for fans. Also, upon opening it, we’re treated to that same piece of artwork of Magnolia that I mentioned earlier, only this time in glorious colour. See more, including a couple of comparisons with the original book, in the gallery at the end.

Bravely Second Design Works

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase. Coming in a little cheaper than the original Deluxe Collector’s Edition, with a couple of definite improvements over some of the included items, it’s a nice treat for fans. Now I just have to find the time to play the game! For now, enjoy the gallery, and the game if you’re getting it this week.

Theatrhythm Curtain Call 3DS pouch
Today, the sequel to one of my favourite games of 2012 hits the 3DS. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, to give it its full, unwieldy name, is the follow-up to Square-Enix’s rhythm-action Final Fantasy compendium, and it’s fit to bursting with more music, more characters, more modes and even more fanservice. I’m a sucker for pretty much anything FF, especially its music, so I was glad when Theatrhythm turned out so well. And I of course ordered the Collectors Edition of Curtain Call, which has just arrived. So let’s take a look at what you get in the box.

Theatrhythm Curtain Call collectors edition

It’s quite a large box for a 3DS game, and it’s pretty similar to the one Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn came in, with a sturdy box covered by a card slipcase. Inside is a collectors pouch for your 3DS emblazoned with the cast and logo, and unfortunately for me, it’s for a 3DS XL. I can still use it to store my launch model console, of course, but it won’t be a snug fit.

We’re also treated to five platinum CollectaCards of the kind found in the games. The pack of five contains Edgar from Final Fantasy V, Zack from Final Fantasy VII/Crisis Core, Yuna in her X-2 appearance, Final Fantasy XIV‘s Y’shtola and finally Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics. All the cards are double-sided, with character art on the front and a short bio on the reverse side. You can see the back of Zack’s card in the gallery below.

Theatrhythm Curtain Call CollectaCards

Finally, we have two CDs to listen to. The first of these is the same five-track remix CD that also comes with the cheaper limited edition version of Curtain Call, while the second is a 20-track ‘best of’ collection, which includes untouched music from across the series. These two discs come in the same jewel case, and you can see the full tracklisting for both in the gallery.

That’s it for collectors goodies, but printed on the manual is a note stating that those who’ve played the demo (like me!) will begin the game with some characters already unlocked and ready to go.

For £45, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got here. I’m about to get started and I can’t wait to spend another 90 hours on the new game. My 3DS is pretty much sorted for the next year.

gravityrush2Sony have let the Kat out of the bag (sorry) and announced a sequel to my second favourite game of last year, Japan Studio’s excellent Gravity Rush. Revealed in a sizzle reel shown at Tokyo Game Show, a short trailer has since hit Youtube. It begins with a montage of beautiful concept art, before leaping straight into in-game footage showing Kat gracefully falling with style through a gorgeous cityscape. You can see the trailer below.

Also returning is Raven who, like Kat, also has gravity-defying powers and began the first game as something of an antagonist, before teaming up with our cheerful hero later in the game. There are still many mysteries surrounding the two and the world they inhabit and I can’t wait to get some answers.

This is probably the best gaming news I’ve heard all year, I loved Gravity Rush and have been hoping for a sequel ever since I hit the end credits. Until Ni No Kuni arrived, Gravity Rush was the closest thing to playing through a Ghibli film as I could have expected to find. It’s a beautifully drawn, lovingly-told journey of discovery and Kat is a fantastic protagonist; a super-powered amnesiac who, rather than being miserable about her missing memories and mysterious situation, approaches everything with an easy cheerfulness (balanced with a hint of cheekiness and the occasional bout of teenage petulance). Instead of moping, she genuinely enjoys her newfound abilities and just gets on with the business of saving the city of Hekseville.

If you haven’t yet played Gravity Rush, I urge you to do so in anticipation of the sequel. As far as I’m concerned it’s the Vita’s best game. For now, enjoy the trailer and have a listen to some of the excellent music from the first game.

p4gbanThings have been a bit quiet around here recently, mainly thanks to a couple of reasons. Firstly, not much in videogameland (if only that were a real place…) has caught my attention recently. With everyone looking to next generation consoles, much of what fills up column inches these days is rumour and speculation that won’t be confirmed or denied until E3 at the earliest. Secondly, it was my birthday a few days ago, so I’ve been too busy eating cake.

It’s also been a while since I’ve written anything about videogame music. I’ve recently started playing Persona 4 Golden after a few weeks away from it, and with the music occupying brainspace when I’m not even anywhere near my Vita, it seems like a good day to showcase some of this colourful game’s colourful audio.

Persona 4 Golden is an enhanced remake of the 2008 PS2 RPG/Social Sim hybrid that released on the Vita just a couple of months ago in Europe. To commemorate the remake a new opening was created, which does a great job of encapsulating the feel and aesthetic of the game.

As you can see, it’s upbeat, colourful and cheerful-sounding. I love that the presentation of the game is so at-odds with the subject matter; Persona 4 is a game about mysterious disappearances, grisly murders and people struggling against their literal inner demons, yet it’s drenched in neon colours and upbeat pop music. At times it reminds me of Sega just before they bowed out of hardware; bold, bright colours, happy music and most importantly a sense of FUN! Here’s the battle track, ‘Time to Make History’.

Like all good battle themes, it kicks the tempo up a bit in order to keep you pushing forward, but it’s just so damned catchy! I often find myself humming along as I’m bashing shadows’ faces in, and the track often takes up residence in my head long after I’ve switched the Vita off.

Much of the Persona 4 experience is dependant on the current weather. You find yourself checking the forecast daily to plan out the coming week, as some things can only be done on a rainy night, and thick fog often brings the body of a missing person with it. The music often reflects the weather, with different themes playing under different conditions, and the track that plays in the local town shopping district on cloudy days is another one that gets stuck in my head. Here’s ‘Heartbeat, Heartbreak’.

This song definitely has a bit of a ‘rainy days’ feel to it, at least relative to much of the rest of the soundtrack, yet it’s still got a bit of an upbeat feel to it; it’s not particularly melancholy, and you can still quite happily hum along to the tune.

While some may find the contrast between presentation and subject matter somewhat jarring, and others still may find the almost entirely upbeat feel rather twee, I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are a great many games out there that take themselves seriously (perhaps too much so), so I’m glad that Persona 4 Golden is content to offer dark subject matter in a shiny package and allow itself to have fun. Persona 4 Golden is definitely a game that has a heart.

Square-Enix’s beautiful 3DS jRPG Bravely Default: Flying Fairy will definitely see a release in Europe.

The title had been the subject of much speculation since its Japanese release last October, but in a Nintendo Direct livestream this afternoon, Nintendo Europe president Satoru Shibata announced that the game will be released later this year in European territories, as well as showing off a subtitled trailer, below.

Crystals, airships, magic, CG cutscenes? It’s all looking a bit Final Fantasy. Indeed, other than the female protagonist’s likeness to Dagger, there have been screens doing the rounds for quite some time that remind me of the art style of Final Fantasy IX – a gorgeous game, as this one also looks to be. Bravely Default apparently has a battle system similar to Final Fantasy V, with its use of jobs, and it was well received in Japan, with Famitsu awarding the RPG a score of 38/40, calling it a “supreme game”.

bravely_default_ff_009

I’ve had my eye on it for quite some time, and was beginning to think that Square-Enix were going to pull a Type-0 on us. Thankfully, that’s not the case, and I’m hoping Bravely Default is as great as it looks, and that it’ll bring the old-school jRPG goods when it releases later this year.

PlayStation Vita exclusive action-RPG-type-thing Soul Sacrifice releases in Europe on April 30th, but we’ll have an opportunity to try out the game as early as next week. An update on the PlayStation Blog has announced that a demo will hit PSN in just five days – that’s April 17th, so mark those calendars, people!

Soul Sacrifice is on my radar because it’s a collaboration between ex-Capcom chap Keiji Inafune and Sony’s Japan Studio (who have my attention for giving me my beloved Gravity Rush). The game heavily features the theme of sacrifice (obviously); players can choose to sacrifice their own body parts for powerful weapons, or the lives of other players that have been downed in its four-player co-op mode. This should mean that you really have to think about how best to augment your character as resources are finite.

ssbook

Graphically it looks pretty impressive, and I’m hoping it’ll be something to give my console a bit of a workout. By the sounds of it, it’ll give me a bit of a workout as well; the developers have stated that they set out to make a tough game, and it’s dark fantasy setting, themes of sacrifice and loss and monster designs that look like they’ve taken a little inspiration from Dark Souls seem to visually reinforce this – it looks like it might be a bit hard.

The PS Blog teased a little of what we can expect from next week’s demo:

It begins from the depths of despair, with you playing as a slave to be sacrificed, owned and imprisoned by a ruthless mage.
The looming promise of certain death is interrupted by the appearance of a mysterious “book.” The tome, inexplicably able to think and speak, introduces itself as “Librom”.
It claims to hold a special power, allowing those who read it to experience what’s written within…

There’s also the first part of an interview with main man Keiji Inafune on the PS Blog that you can see below. I do have to take issue with his assertion that his game will be the first ever to offer meaningful, emotional choices, though…

The Japanese release of Soul Sacrifice last month gave a massive boost to the Vita’s sales performance, so let’s hope it can do the same here when it launches at the end of this month.

Links:
PS Blog announcement: http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2013/04/12/soul-sacrifice-demo-hits-ps-vita-on-17th-april/