After picking up a Nintendo Switch last July, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the right Japanese game to be my first import purchase for the system. Since the Switch is region free, that means it’s much easier (and cheaper!) than importing things for the Nintendo 3DS. When I heard San-X’s adorable Sumikko Gurashi characters would be getting a Switch game, titled Sumikko Gurashi: Sumikko Park e Youkoso, I knew that I’d have to pick it up!
The craft bug strikes me often, but it’s not often that I actually finish a crafty endeavor I start. In the case of practical items, however, necessity requires me to complete them so I can actually use them, so when I decided none of the Vita cases available at retail were anywhere near cute enough for my extremely discerning tastes, I had to come up with something on my own and have it ready to go in a flash.
|Game case for size comparison/aesthetic purposes only, of course|
What do fashion shows, deranged nurses, and a talking rabbit have in common? They just so happen to feature in the three game demos I played over the last week! The first week of October was surprisingly busy for game demos, and though I don’t usually jump at the sight of a new demo, all of these happened to be titles I’m interested in enough to give them a shot. I know you’re dying to see what titles I’m talking about (or have you guessed already?), so I’ll cut right to the chase.
I don’t believe I’m the only one who noticed that the new art direction for the sequel to Little King’s Story, titled The King, The Demon King and the 7 Princesses: New King Story (now that’s a mouthful), differs significantly from the original. Case in point:
|King Corobo from Little King’s Story|
|“New and improved” King Corobo|
I would be lying if I said I didn’t like his new character design at all, as I actually quite like the illustration above, but the fact of the matter is the original had such a unique, quirky art style that has been completely thrown out the window. I assume the majority of the reasoning behind the vast change in art style stems from the fact that anime/manga style art appeals to a much wider audience. With developer Cing dissolved, Marvelous Entertainment probably has free reign to do what they wish with the intellectual property rights. As such, we get this:
|In-game screenshot from Little King’s Story|
|New King’s Story. As you can see, the in-game graphics are ever-so-slightly more realistic.|
|The things the King of All Cosmos says will never get old.|
As you may be aware, a certain beefy little handheld finally made its way overseas on the 23rd (22nd if you live pretty much anywhere but Australia) of February. What do we call it? The PS Vita? Playstation Vita? PSV? Or simply… Vita?
Well, regardless of how you prefer to refer to it (I’ll be calling it the “PS Vita”), it is definitely one fine piece of hardware. You may already know where this post is leading, but to cut to the chase: Yes, I bought one. Not only bought, but Shaun and I preordered an Australian one, making it the first console I’ve ever preordered, let alone picked up on launch day.
My reasoning for this was twofold: My colleagues over at VGW were heckling me to get one, mostly due to the fact that they needed someone with my area of gaming expertise (read: someone who’ll play all those weird Japanese games) who could pick up a few of the titles in the console’s mighty launch lineup. Not only that, but I’ll begrudgingly admit that I only just bought my first PSP last year, and it was used. Shaun and I absolutely love the PSP, and if the PS Vita turns out to be half as good as that system was, I want to give Sony my support (read: cold, hard cash).
Factoring in some exciting titles to look forward to and the fact that Shaun unblinkingly responded with a simple “yes” when I told him I was thinking of getting one meant that come 10 am on Thursday the 23rd, a beautiful new PS Vita was all ours for the unboxing.
Title-wise, I got hard copies of Touch My Katamari and Shinobido 2, along with a download voucher for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, all for reviews. As Touch My Katamari was the main launch title I was interested in, I haven’t felt the need to purchase any of my own games yet.
By the way, have you seen how small these cartridges are?
|The cases are extremely small and thin, too. Makes sense, considering that
they don’t contain a manual as a rule (anyone who is interested in holding a
funeral to commemorate the death of the physical game manual is more than
welcome to join me).
I tried to get a few pictures of the system itself, but unfortunately it’s a bit too glossy for me to get a proper photo of. But you all have seen it already, right?
I was told many times before I actually had the PS Vita in my own grubby hands that the system really shines when you get some hands-on time with it. I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree. Though the system looks a little bulky, and it does have some weight to it, it feels great to hold and even better to play with. The directional and command buttons have a real weight when you press them, and the dual analog sticks feel great, albeit a little small. Touch screen functionality is integrated seamlessly into the system’s control panel, and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the in-built camera.
Basically, the PS Vita is my equivalent of hardware porn. I was still waiting for my games to come in on launch day, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t just pick up the Vita and turn it on 10 times over the course of the afternoon, just so I could hold it. Yes, my husband thinks I’m crazy.
But what about the launch lineup?
|The built-in screenshot function is amazing, if a little hard to execute in some games.
In this screen I’m playing as the pink girl, Platinum, my new favorite BlazBlue character.
Of course, you won’t find me commenting on such AAA releases as Uncharted: Golden Abyss or the latest shiny Wipeout racing game, but I can tell you about the few Japanese titles I’ll be reviewing.
Touch My Katamari – This was, without a doubt, the title I was most looking forward to. Touch My Katamari is very standard Katamari fare, so if you’re a fan of the series, there’s a lot to like here. I don’t want to spoil my review, so click the link to check it out if you’re interested. Needless to say, I really enjoyed my time with the game, but it was much too short. I beat every single level the game had to offer (and there were a number of repeats from past Katamari titles) in just about 3 hours. Disappointing, but boy, does it look great on the Vita!
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend – A beautiful portable version of BlazBlue: Contiuum Shift. It not only contains the DLC characters from the PS3/Xbox 360 versions, but another new character and dozens of modes to sink time into. The only problem I’ve had with it so far are the load times, and a nasty bug that causes the screen to freeze randomly when a battle is loading while playing in arcade mode (this has happened to me every time I’ve played arcade mode). I’m not sure if this problem is something wrong with my download or not, but I did find someone with a similar issue over in the GameFAQs forums. I’ve contacted Aksys PR to see what’s up. Review forthcoming.
Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen – I honestly don’t know if there’s anything good I can say about this one. It looks and feels like a PS2 title, and the controls are finicky and annoying. The ninja gameplay mechanic is fun, but this title doesn’t do anything that the original Shinobido or the Tenchu titles didn’t do better. In fact, Shaun played Shinobido on the PS2, and agrees that Shinobido 2 feels like more of a glorified port than a sequel. Review forthcoming.
All in all, I’m more than happy with my Vita. The possibility of playing PSP titles downloaded from the PSN with enhanced graphics is another great bonus – I even purchased a copy of Half-Minute Hero just so I could see how great it would look. Though the battery life is nowhere near good enough and there isn’t an amazing new must-have JRPG for the system yet, I do not in any way regret purchasing the system on launch.
Did any of you grab a PS Vita, or are you thinking of getting one? If you’re on the fence and want to ask me some questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!