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Surprise! Vita themes, new Ys game, and more ⊟

Did you know there was a Sony press conference last night? I did, but I slept anyway. Labor Day, y’all! Anyway, here’s a quick roundup of news, thanks to the PS Blog and Joystiq:

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New Mighty no. 9 trailer, beta ⊟

If you’re a backer of the Mighty no. 9 Kickstarter at a high enough tier, you’re eligible for a beta code. It’s PC only… 

But! Mighty Gunvolt isn’t PC-only, and all Mighty no. 9 backers will also get a code for that this week! They’re for 3DS, of course, and currently only North American codes are going out.

Anyway, we can all look at this trailer, and the game seems to be coming along really nicely. It looks like something that would definitely be my jam.

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Super cute Mario/Zelda stationery ⊟

Artist J.C.T. Holmes created these notecard sets featuring either Wind Waker or Peach/Rosalina themes, for $8 each (per set of 6). I love the idea of writing people letters on something that looks like it should be used to send a powerup to Mario!

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Super Famicom boxart book Kickstarter ⊟

Here’s a book worth Kickstarting and then Coffeetabling*: a collection of Super Famicom boxart images, with full-color art and descriptions. It’s on Kickstarter until September 28, and I’m confident it’ll make its goal.

If you want one, you’ll have to pledge at least £24/$38.82USD /€30.21 EUR. 

*that’s just putting it on your coffee table

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You’ll have to purchase 3DS menu themes ⊟

Maybe you assumed this, but I just ran across this bit in yesterday’s 3DS news press release: “Themes will be available for purchase from a Theme Shop that will be added to the Home menu.”

So it’s a separate shop with a separate icon? Weird. But the whole thing actually seems smart, I must grudgingly admit. It’s kind of a lot of work to make custom icons and music for each theme, so it wouldn’t make sense to make it free; and impulse-buy things like this will probably be a tempting use of leftover eShop funds.

Interestingly, for each of the custom faceplates Nintendo showed for the standard-sized 3DS yesterday, there seemed to be a matching Home menu theme. I wonder if the faceplates come with themes?

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A few leftover 3DS news items ⊟
This stuff, from this morning’s Direct/press release is exciting, if maybe a bit less OMG WHAT than new 3DS hardware (seriously, though, what). So here it is! Let’s catch up together!
Kirby eShop games out today: The Triple Deluxe spinoff games Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe and Kirby Fighters Deluxe are on eShop today, for $7 each, and you get bonus stuff if you already have Triple Deluxe. Why did Nintendo wait until a day after its normal eShop release day, sending these out along with Gunvolt and Layton vs. Phoenix Wright? Well, uh, man I don’t know.
Fantasy Life DLC: “Origin Island offers a new area that is home to an ancient culture and powerful enemies, additional story content, new ranks to achieve in Life Classes, access to even more powerful equipment and two new varieties of pets to adopt: birds and dragons.” It’ll be out on the game’s Oct. 24 release date.
Ultimate NES Remix: Out December 5 for $30, and contains challenges based on 16 NES games. The main problem I had with the Wii U games was that they weren’t on 3DS, so, cool!
2DS bundles: No announcement of the new 3DS hardware for US, but we get… existing 2DS colors with a code for Mario Kart 7, for $129.99. These come out early October. That’s just as good, right?
Don’t forget to check out our coverage from this morning: New 3DS and XL announced, customizable faceplates and Home menu themes, Amiibo figures revealed and up for preorder, and our thoughts on the New 3DS.
BUY Nintendo 2DS & 3DS/XL, upcoming games

A few leftover 3DS news items ⊟

This stuff, from this morning’s Direct/press release is exciting, if maybe a bit less OMG WHAT than new 3DS hardware (seriously, though, what). So here it is! Let’s catch up together!

  • Kirby eShop games out today: The Triple Deluxe spinoff games Dedede’s Drum Dash Deluxe and Kirby Fighters Deluxe are on eShop today, for $7 each, and you get bonus stuff if you already have Triple Deluxe. Why did Nintendo wait until a day after its normal eShop release day, sending these out along with Gunvolt and Layton vs. Phoenix Wright? Well, uh, man I don’t know.
  • Fantasy Life DLC: “Origin Island offers a new area that is home to an ancient culture and powerful enemies, additional story content, new ranks to achieve in Life Classes, access to even more powerful equipment and two new varieties of pets to adopt: birds and dragons.” It’ll be out on the game’s Oct. 24 release date.
  • Ultimate NES Remix: Out December 5 for $30, and contains challenges based on 16 NES games. The main problem I had with the Wii U games was that they weren’t on 3DS, so, cool!
  • 2DS bundles: No announcement of the new 3DS hardware for US, but we get… existing 2DS colors with a code for Mario Kart 7, for $129.99. These come out early October. That’s just as good, right?

Don’t forget to check out our coverage from this morning: New 3DS and XL announced, customizable faceplates and Home menu themes, Amiibo figures revealed and up for preorder, and our thoughts on the New 3DS.

BUY Nintendo 2DS & 3DS/XL, upcoming games
New 3DS: an exciting upgrade for a specific audience ⊟
Nintendo surprised everyone this morning, including people like me who weren’t paying attention to the internet, with the announcement of a “New” 3DS hardware line, featuring redesigned 3DS and 3DS LL/XL models with faster download potential, a right analog thing, extra shoulder buttons, and more. While I’m staring at this and digesting the info, let’s think out loud about it!

My first reaction is, I don’t want to have to buy a new thing. But that’s just me. Nintendo is making a stronger argument in favor of upgrading than with previous 3DS models, as this one can play exclusive software (its specs are reportedly better), like a 3DS version of Xenoblade Chronicles. So it’s like the DSi in that way – that upgrade also played exclusive games, while still being considered a DS. Or maybe it’s more like a cell phone, which changes generations in a fluid, kind of confusing way. In any case, this is kind of a new generation but not really?
But it’s definitely aimed at the kind of people who follow game news closely, the “hardcore” types who early-adopt new game systems and won’t be confused by the name “New 3DS.” Like the Wii U before it, this version of the 3DS adds more sticks and buttons, and more inputs (like the Amiibo reader), making the system inherently more complex to interact with. For people like you and me who play video games constantly and are used to 20 buttons, this is awesome. For the last remaining people who jumped in on DS because of simple touch controls and Brain Age, this is kind of a step away. I mean, it’ll still work with all that stuff, it just seems a bit less purpose-built for Touch Generations-type experiences. Man, remember Touch Generations?

It also represents a surprising step away from the 2DS – even as Nintendo of America announces new 2DS bundles. I’m surprised to see the redesigned hardware bringing back the original 3DS, which I thought had been basically replaced as the low-price model by its cheaper non-folding counterpart. But with no New 3DS line announcement here yet, and more 2DS news instead, I’m more confident in my theory that, like the Wii Mini, the 2DS is For The West. It makes sense: Nintendo has absolutely no trouble selling full-price 3DS hardware in Japan, so the lower-priced 2DS isn’t really needed.
Anyway, aside from the -=IMPLICATIONS=- or whatever, just about everything about this new line is a welcome upgrade. Even the cameras are better! And used to track your face and tweak the 3D viewing angle – like that one DSiWare game but for real 3D! I definitely want replaceable faceplates on my 3DS, a move that makes sense for durability purposes (3DS scratched up in your pocket/backpack? Put a new face on it!) and customization. Improved battery life answers the main criticism of the 3DS line, if imperfectly, and the ability to transfer data to PC wirelessly will definitely improve my workflow for adding screenshots to reviews.
And the system update that adds new menu themes, most certainly designed for this new hardware, will help spruce up everyone’s 3DS. Thanks, new 3DS, for subsidizing my Animal Crossing menu!
BUY Nintendo 2DS & 3DS/XL, upcoming games

New 3DS: an exciting upgrade for a specific audience ⊟

Nintendo surprised everyone this morning, including people like me who weren’t paying attention to the internet, with the announcement of a “New” 3DS hardware line, featuring redesigned 3DS and 3DS LL/XL models with faster download potential, a right analog thing, extra shoulder buttons, and more. While I’m staring at this and digesting the info, let’s think out loud about it!

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Tappingo 2 delayed for a good reason ⊟

Nintendo of America helpfully advised Hugo Smits to push the release of the eShop game Tappingo 2 to next week, September 4. Had it been released this week, it would surely have been buried by Gunvolt and Layton vs. Ace Attorney.

So you can play it next week instead – with cool retro console puzzles and indie game sprites, like the Mutant Mudds and Toki Tori puzzles above.

BUY Nintendo 2DS & 3DS/XL, upcoming games

PSA: get Go! Go! Kokopolo before it’s too late ⊟

A very cool DSiWare game is disappearing at the end of this month. Go! Go! Kokopolo is a cute maze action game starring a cat who lures enemies through mazes by enraging them with scratches and then leading them into the mouth of a giant plant. It’s loaded with vibrant, cartoony art. Oh, and speaking of which, look at the amazing TC art made around the launch of the game!

Not sure why it’s being delisted – or what the status is of the 3DS sequel. But if you want to check out the original game, do so before August 31! Thanks to GSK for the heads up.

BUY Nintendo 2DS & 3DS/XL, upcoming games
Gunvolt and the sliding scale of perfection ⊟
Azure Striker Gunvolt is not a Mega Man game, and I mean that in the best way. While it clearly takes inspiration from the series – a blue guy gets weapons from wacky, colorful bosses – developer Inti Creates built on that foundation to create something more flexible, with more room for individual expression and variation on the part of the player.
In that way, it reminds me more of Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien… a game I needed an excuse to write about anyway!

Runner2 maintained the basic gameplay of its predecessor: jump, slide, kick, and block to the beat while automatically running through deadly gauntlets. The sequel improved upon its predecessor by adding more moves, along with totally optional branching paths, hidden items, and analog-controlled bonus loops. You can simply complete a stage – something that requires a total lack of mistakes. Or you can collect all the gold. You could get full scores on all the bonuses; you can even “dance” during free moments to boost your score a lot more. There are many different levels of perfection to achieve, starting with simple survival.
Developer Gaijin Games (now Choice Provisions) kept the gameplay tight and simple, but added multiple avenues for expert players to vary the experience and develop additional mastery. It had a nice side effect of encouraging replays and extending the life of the game.

Gunvolt features the same kind of dynamic, player-controlled difficulty. If you want to simply brute force your way through the levels, it’s not overwhelmingly hard to do so. It’s a lot easier than Mega Man on that level, that’s for sure. The platforming isn’t as extreme, and your shots essentially auto-target – you fire your gun to target enemies, then drain their health with an electric field that arcs to their location. Keeping your field charged is an interesting wrinkle, but rarely a life-or-death challenge. Well, technically. If you still have power, you can auto-dodge attacks (at the expense of some of that power) so I guess it may actually be the difference between life or death. But what I mean is that managing that power isn’t as tense as you might expect, outside of boss fights.
But those systems open up options for virtuoso play. You can play carefully and set up your shots from a safe location, but it’s more fun to dash through the levels at top speed and/or build up impressive combos once you’re comfortable enough. And then you can take on totally optional challenges – complete this stage in this time, etc. – to further test yourself. You can retry levels with new equipment, including the different guns earned from bosses, which vary the number of enemies you can lock on to and the way shots behave.
I like these kinds of systems, because they allow the player to find a difficulty level that suits their expertise and their style of play, without having to make the explicit decision to choose “easy” or “hard.” It’s the same game, but open to different approaches. And, like Runner2, it offers different ways to consider any performance “perfect.” That’s the kind of challenge that makes me want to return to a game.
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Gunvolt and the sliding scale of perfection 

Azure Striker Gunvolt is not a Mega Man game, and I mean that in the best way. While it clearly takes inspiration from the series – a blue guy gets weapons from wacky, colorful bosses – developer Inti Creates built on that foundation to create something more flexible, with more room for individual expression and variation on the part of the player.

In that way, it reminds me more of Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien… a game I needed an excuse to write about anyway!

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Discount Ronpa on PSN  ⊟
Danganronpa 2 comes out next week, so if you haven’t checked out the first PS Vita game yet, now’s a good time. A really good time, in fact: it’s on sale on PSN (North America) for 20 bucks right now!
Other cool deals worth noting: a sale on all PixelJunk games. I don’t have a PS Move but I’m really considering 4am for $2.50. That thing is absolutely brilliant. Oh, and Runner2 for less than five dollars! Image via nuclearcherries.
BUY Danganronpa Another Episode, Danganronpa, Danganronpa 2

Discount Ronpa on PSN  ⊟

Danganronpa 2 comes out next week, so if you haven’t checked out the first PS Vita game yet, now’s a good time. A really good time, in fact: it’s on sale on PSN (North America) for 20 bucks right now!

Other cool deals worth noting: a sale on all PixelJunk games. I don’t have a PS Move but I’m really considering 4am for $2.50. That thing is absolutely brilliant. Oh, and Runner2 for less than five dollars! Image via nuclearcherries.

BUY Danganronpa Another Episode, DanganronpaDanganronpa 2
  • Source nuclearcherries
A few things I like about Akiba’s Trip ⊟ 
Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is sort of a Yakuza-type modern-day Japan RPG thing; it attempts to be salacious, but also about otaku; it’s well-written (at least, in localization) but incessantly talky.
Uh, also, it took a long time for me to get into the actual gameplay, and then froze before I remembered to save, which is maybe half my fault. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t exactly know how I feel about it.
But I know there are some things I really like about this weird game.

Akihabara: I’ve visited Akihabara three times – not enough to know the layout, but enough to recognize some landmarks and get a vague notion of where a few places are. Akiba’s Trip recreates Akihabara just as I remember it (admittedly, minus a lot of the crowd, and in somewhat simple graphics). Even better, you can actually go into some of the real stores, even if just to buy a t-shirt.
Combo finishers: Combat isn’t as smooth as I would want from a pure brawler, but it’s all right. It’s serviceable, if a bit laggy. Combat, by the way, involves punching and kicking the clothes of enemy “synthisters” until they’re damaged enough to be easily ripped off piece by piece. When you successfully remove an article of clothing, if any nearby enemies are also damaged enough, you can hit a short QTE and remove some of their clothes. This kind of dramatic auto-combo stuff just feels fun. As for the bonus you get for high combos – enemy underwear – whatever.
Clothing: As you’re also a light-sensitive Synthister, your clothes have an in-game function: they’re your armor. Every item of clothing has its own defense level; you can get more from battles or shop for clothes. But the best part of this is that every item you wear reflects on your in-game model. So if you want to look a) fresh-to-death or b) hilarious, you can. 
This Pepper Lunch ad

Seriously, Pepper Lunch is amazing. Whenever I’m in Tokyo, I go to this fast food establishment, where you cook plates of steak, rice, corn, and delicious seasonings to your taste by stirring the contents of the sizzling hot plates around. The best. And this game reminded me of it.
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A few things I like about Akiba’s Trip ⊟ 

Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is sort of a Yakuza-type modern-day Japan RPG thing; it attempts to be salacious, but also about otaku; it’s well-written (at least, in localization) but incessantly talky.

Uh, also, it took a long time for me to get into the actual gameplay, and then froze before I remembered to save, which is maybe half my fault. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t exactly know how I feel about it.

But I know there are some things I really like about this weird game.

Read more