Unconventional Games of the Year Choice #3 – 6: The Vita Is Full of Life After All.

Some people think the PlayStation Vita is dead in the water. I’m not one of those people for a few darn good reasons, number one being I actually OWN one and aren’t some overpaid analyst or internet troll with a grudge. Although the few titles listed below are only a tiny slice of what I played during this year, they’re all highly recommended because they managed to pack a load of fun into that system while being completely different game experiences.

 
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable was the first “big” game of 2013 for me and Japanese developer Sandlot didn’t disappoint in bringing an enhanced “port” of their former Xbox 360 exclusive to Sony’s handheld in fine form indeed. You’re not buying an EDF game for the best visuals nor a deep and engaging story at all, folks. But if you’re a fan of 1950’s giant insect and Japanese sci-fi flicks, the mash-up here is relentless and supremely entertaining. That and the game can take weeks or months to complete if you decide to go it solo like a true EDF maniac and play through all the different difficulty levels while trying to get every single weapon and trophy you can. Toss in Pale Wing from EDF2 (she changes the gameplay up drastically and is a blast to play around with) and the ability to play with like-minded EDF mates in co-op (which makes the tougher difficulty levels much more bearable if you’re fighting for all the Trophies) and you get a fun little evergreen that’s addictive and makes you want more. Thankfully, Sandlot’s newest EDF game is headed to the PS3 and Xbox 360 in February here in North America and it’s packed full of all-new content and even tougher enemies to defeat.

 
If you like things grimmer yet still action-heavy, Soul Sacrifice is not only right up your alley, it’s calling out to you and drifting onto your Vita before you even realize it. Given that Sony very wisely released a lengthy demo that allows your save file to be transferred into the full version, this ends up as one of those games where you’ll try before buying and end up happier because of it. Between the dark, disturbing storyline and the combat-packed gameplay where dispatching or saving enemy souls changes up the game considerably, there’s a solid sense of progress felt as you clear each chapter and gain some formidable powers. While you can (and should) clear the game solo, a solid co-op mode insures this one will be played about as much or more with a few friends. There’s already a sequel coming to Japan and it’s bound to land here as well (most likely sometime in 2014), but it would be even better to have this as a PS4 (and PS3) game for those of us who like our games on larger screens…

 
Tearaway caught me way off guard because I hadn’t been following it at all until I saw screens and a fantastic gamplay movie sometime after E3. Media Molecule’s quirky art style gets a flat paper makeover and as a Vita exclusive, the use of both touch screens is superb and yes, better implemented than anything on the 3DS as far as input goes (Although you DO need to watch your fingers when that bottom screen poking action is in play). The game is part adventure, part platformer, and all extremely wonderful to sit down with for a spell. Watching someone watch someone play this game is also great, as non-gamers tend to be more amazed at what we take for granted and yep, they’ll want to try this one out after about a minute or two of watching you getting tap-happy. Between the main game and the incredible chunk of freedom you have in customization, this in one of those titles you’ll probably go back to many times after you’ve completed it…

 
I really wanted to play Ruin ever since I saw the demo at a Sony press event waaaaay back before the Vita launched, but it seems that the cross-platform PS3/Vita action RPG is either dead in the water or still in development hell. It’s too bad about that game, but Doki Doki Universe, while not a substitute at all, manages to be the first Vita/PS3/PS4 cross platform experience available and it’s a non-stop charmingly goofy one at that. You’re a robot that was abandoned on a tiny asteroid with a red balloon and after being picked up by a UFO, it’s up to you to explore a bunch of different worlds in order to discover what humanity means as you help a bunch of folks with assorted problems. It’s basically Toe Jam & Earl as a side-scroller (one of the guys who created that Sega Genesis classic worked on this new one), a ton of stuff to collect and optional facebook mail integration that’s great for those of you social butterflies that LOVE to share all sorts of stuff. The whimsical art style recalls a child’s drawings come to life and won’t make you think of the power of any system running it at all. Nevertheless, the game hooks you in from the beginning and keeps you playing perhaps a bit longer than you thought you would (which is always a good thing)…

Honorable Mentions (and then some!): Killzone: Mercenary, Ys: Memories of Celceta, Valhalla Knights 3, Terraria, The Pinball Arcade.

Ys: Memories of Celceta Launch Trailer: I’m Getting There, I’m Getting There…

 
Thanks to Xseed Games still dropping DLC for Valhalla Knights 3 on PSN and me deciding to try out a bunch of it. I have not yet gotten around to polishing off the review I’m almost done with. Then they go an release Ys: Memories of Celceta and I’m suddenly seeing the rest of my year gone with the wind once I get around to picking this game up. THANKS, guys! No, really. It’s not like I have anything better to do than to prove that the Vita isn’t dead as some say (or hell, dead at all!), and it’s always a pleasure to play a new JRPG that’s actually an old JRPG redone with some spiffy new visuals and even more fun gameplay than the original. That said, as I keep stressing… someone REALLY needs to create a means of stopping or slowing down time so that I can enjoy more of the games I buy and play. Anyway, you should add this one to your library if you haven’t already – I’ll get out a review in a bit…

Ys: Memories of Celceta: The Vita Nets Another RPG Winner From Xseed Games

Ys StandardHa. Just as I’m starting up my Valhalla Knights 3 review (which I’m hoping will be a definitive one as it’s not filled with wrongheaded references to incorrect thought processes gone wild), my inbox is buzzing away and telling me that not only is there DLC for that game I need to download NOW, Xseed is also going to be shipping out Ys: Memories of Celceta for the PlayStation Vita on November 26, 2013.

For the uninitiated, the game is a very heavily reworked/remade retelling of Ys IV (one of the few games in the popular Nihon Falcom RPG series not yet released in English until now) and features an enhanced party battle system from Ys SEVEN, along with the insanity of Boss Rush mode. Are your fingers prepared? They’d most surely better be is all I’ll say…

Ys Memories of Celceta CEAs usual, this one is getting the triple threat treatment of a physical retail and PlayStation Network digital release for $39.99 as well as a special Ys: Memories of Celceta Silver Anniversary Edition for $59.99. According to the press release, it’s definitely omake time for Ys fans with this one:

This Limited Edition contains a 3-CD collection of original and arranged music spanning the entire history of the franchise, a cloth map detailing the lands of Celceta, a logo-emblazoned compass, and ‘Adol’s Travel Journal’ containing 130 pages of adventuring strategies and artwork, all within an exclusive commemorative package.

Of course, that compass won’t help you navigate the game world on your Vita, but I think you’ll do just fine without it. Besides, you need TWO hands to use your Vita and if you wanted to be distracted by a second screen you’d be playing another system entirely, correct? Now, about Ys V and Ys V EXPERT… I’ll be definitely holding out hope that those get the remake treatment one fine day…

Wallet Drain Alert! Xseed Games Brings It With Some Awesome Surprises…

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Wow and double wow. First we get the spectacular news that Pandora’s Tower is headed to North America and now Xseed is setting out to make 2013 even better for their fans (and possibly their best year to date) by announcing a VERY cool selection of new titles plus yet another classic Nihon Falcom JRPG set heading to PC gamers via Steam. Even better, everything but the Steam download is getting a retail release!  Yes, I’m typing this post with a big fat grin on my face, as I want everything here that’s coming.

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