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Hardware Review: PlayStation TV

After a great deal of anticipation, on 14th November 2014 the PlayStation TV (formerly known as the Vita TV in Japan) made it’s way into stores in the EU. The PS Vita micro-console has caused something of a stir of late because of it’s handling by Sony, least of all in the way it is currently being marketed primarily as being an add-on for the PS4, but is it a worthy addition to the PS Vita family? Retailing for £84.99 it’s a rather unassuming package, less than half the size of a shoebox and from the outside at least it does very little to tempt new gamers into parting with their money. It’s clear from the offset that this is being pushed at people who are looking at adding to their existing PS4 set up and everything else that the console can do is really being offered as a bonus – the opposite of the approach taken in Japan.

Before continuing, I do want to stress now that unlike several other members of the Vita Player team, right now I don’t own a PlayStation 4 so Remote Play wasn’t a factor in purchasing a PlayStation TV for me and as such it’s not something that I’m going to be discussing in this review. Instead, I’m going to concentrate primarily on the PSTV’s role as a device for playing PS Vita games on a television and it’s suitability for doing so – my reason for owning one. So what about the console itself…

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SteamWorld Heist PS Vita

Image & Form Joins Forces with Steam Powered Giraffe For SteamWorld Heist

The devs at Image & Form finally reveal their SteamWorld Heist collaboration with musical geniuses Steam Powered Giraffe.

Yes, the rumors have been true: Steam Powered Giraffe is working on the soundtrack for Image & Form’s anticipated multi-platform space strategy adventure SteamWorld Heist, due in spring 2015. The quirky San Diego-based band (that just so happens to feature humans parading as antique singing automatons) will not only make all the songs and in-game music for SteamWorld Heist, but will also be featured in the game as a troupe that Captain Piper and her crew encounter in bars while recruiting fighters. Image & Form CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson is happy: “A SteamWorld game about steam-powered robots featuring real-world steam-powered robots. It’s perfect!”

In addition, while out in the field on a heist mission, you’ll be able to collect sheet music containing Steam Powered Giraffe songs which you can later play on a jukebox in Captain Piper’s ship – thus allowing you to select which tunes grace your ears as background music.

This match made in steampunk heaven came as a stroke of luck. Brjann elaborates: “I met with SPG at E3 in June to seal the deal, and since I love their music I have to admit I was a bit starstruck. But it turned out they loved our games as well. We’re very much alike, childish and pretty resourceful. They wear a bit more makeup at times, is all.”

The band agrees: “Luckily, make-up aside, our mechanical cog-filled hearts were in synch. When asked if we would like to collaborate with Image and Form on their next SteamWorld game we immediately said yes! We loved SteamWorld Dig, and a steam-powered robot band making music for a steam-powered robot game? Count us in!” says David Michael Bennett (The Spine) of Steam Powered Giraffe.

David is positive about working with Image & Form: “It’s a unique and enjoyable experience for the band. There is definitely a ton of passion going into the game, from them, from us, it’s a labor of love and we personally can’t wait to share our contributions to the game with the world.”

Check out the music video for “Prepare for Boarding”, the first song from SteamWorld Heist, featuring Steam Powered Giraffe in all of their steam-powered glory:

http://youtu.be/JlOsgnNH24s

SteamWorld Heist will be released across a range of platforms including the PS Vita in Spring 2015.

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Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ‘to double in size’

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is due to get a significant expansion which will hit the Vita sometime in 2015, it has been revealed.

Developer Edmund McMillen announced the changes on his blog, stating that he has created a new design document including a new game mode which will almost ‘double the amount of things you can do.

The expansion will contain new enemies, bosses, new areas, endings and a new playable character.

If you want the chance to design a new item for the game you can, as McMillen has asked players to submit item ideas. See this reddit link for further details.

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There may be ‘Fowl Play’ in new visual novel ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’

Pigeon Fancies and Visual-Novel lovers can finally find common ground in newly announced title ‘Hatoful Boyfriend’, slated to hit the Vita in 2015.

Hato Moa has created a visual novel / avian dating sim in order to address this gap in the market. As the only human student at St PigeoNation’s institute, you will chat with all sorts of birds on your way to finding true happiness with your one true pigeon.

The game apparently features some plot twists as well, as dark conspiracies are uncovered. Of course, in a game featuring pigeons in a school, ‘hellish fiends’ determined to bring about the apocalypse feature widely.

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‘Poncho’ wrapping up on Vita in 2015

Indie developer ‘Delve Interactive’ have confirmed that their game ‘Poncho’ will be coming to Vita and PS4 in 2015.

The game details the story of a platforming poncho wearing robot called, you guess it, Poncho.

The game sounds Metroidvania-esque in that there are no levels, instead the protagonist explores their 2D world by moving in 3D parallax levels. It is up to Poncho to choose where he wants to go, and who or what to interact with.

The game sounds fascinating and is another addition to the interesting 2015 line up of games for the machine.

Zen Pinball 2 Venom Pinball PS Vita

Venom Strikes On To Zen Pinball 2 On PS Vita This December

Zen Studios, the developer and publisher of hit digital games like Zen Pinball 2 and CastleStorm, has revealed its latest pinball table based on a Marvel Comics property, one that stars Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis, Venom. Venom pinball will be coming to Zen Studios pinball platforms on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita the week of December 8.

As Eddie Brock’s journalism career spiraled downward, he always blamed Spider-Man for his own failure. A symbiotic organism from an alien world sensed his rage, and having itself been rejected by Spidey before, shared his hatred of the web-head. Thus, the Symbiote chose Brock as its next host, and together they are – Venom.

The Venom pinball table features Eddie Brock as the Symbiote-empowered villain as he faces not just his mortal enemy, Spider-Man, but also the threat of his twisted offspring, Carnage.  Can Venom and Spider-Man team up to defeat a greater threat?

The Venom pinball table will also allow players to experience Carnage’s origins in an exciting mini-game, relive Spidey’s own black suit exploits with the Symbiote during an electrifying multiball event, and teach Venom a lesson by exploiting the Symbiote’s weaknesses.

Venom pinball will be available for Zen Pinball 2 the week of December 8, 2014 for $2.99/€2,99/£2.49.

As with all previous tables, we expect this to be another Cross Buy release and we would assume that it will will continue the approach adopted by the other tables so far in that it will also be fully playable on the PlayStation TV.

 

Final Fantasy

More Final Fantasy Games Compatible With PlayStation TV!

In a surprise discovery, it would appear that there are more classic Final Fantasy games that are compatible with the PlayStation TV than Sony Computer Entertainment would have us believe…

Our own tests revealed that only Final Fantasy V through to Final Fantasy X / X-2 were compatible with the PSTV leaving none of the earlier titles or the spin-offs released for the PSP playable. Or so we thought. It now transpires that all three games in the Dissidia series released for the PSP are compatible in the EU although there is a rather unusual way of getting to play them.

To access these, first you need to have downloaded them already using a PS Vita and once your memory card is in the PlayStation TV go to the PSN Store but DON’T open it, just stay on the Live Area screen. Next, return to the PSTV’s home screen (making sure that the Store screen is still present) and select any of the Dissidia games you want to play. At this point you should get the familiar error message that it won’t run.

Close that and move back to the Store screen but instead of opening it, just select the Refresh icon. Once it’s done, keep the screen open and go back and try the game again and it should run normally!

We have tried this with all the other Final Fantasy titles but it only works with these three at present. It does leave us wondering if there are fixes for other games that are on the blocked list so we will be re-evaluating games shortly and reporting back with our findings.

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Why The Need For A PlayStation TV Compatibility Guide?

Over the last few days we’ve been asked the question a few times as to why we made the decision to include a guide on the website for the PlayStation TV featuring games that work on the micro-console. It’s an understandable question to ask when Sony Computer Entertainment have already published their own official lists for the EU and US territories. Aren’t we just wasting our time duplicating their work? Well, actually no.

Looking more closely at the lists published by Sony there is one thing that we have noticed about them – they are just a basic list of games in alphabetical order, nothing more. What we have found with many games running on the PlayStation TV is that there are issues with many of them or that there is more information needed by gamers who are either planning on playing some of their existing titles on the system or buying games especially to run on it. Some have control issues, others have problems with save data but no matter what, this vital information is missing from Sony’s listing.

More importantly, Sony have failed to mention a single PlayStation Mobile game in their list despite over 100 of these being compatible with PlayStation TV. It is bad enough that the format is overlooked by PS Vita owners, but shunning it once again is unforgiveable. Finally, we felt that it was important for all of you to know what doesn’t work just as much as what does. Many of you will want to know if your favourite Vita games will function on the PlayStation TV and with the inconsistencies with Sony’s list, our guide will help you to identify accurately whether your favourite games will or won’t work.

Everything we cover is based on the European releases but we hope that you find our PlayStation TV Compatbility Guide of some use.

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PlayStation Mobile and PlayStation TV – Issues So Far

Even though Sony have made the rather strange decision to market the PlayStation TV in the west as being a companion device for the PlayStation 4 first and a PlayStation Vita second, one thing that everyone wants to know is just what will actually run on the micro-console.

We are trying to provide a comprehensive list here on Vita Player of PlayStation TV Compatible Games and Sony themselves have produced an official list although Sony’s list makes no mention of PSM titles. While we are integrating these into our list, compatibility of these seems to be far more confusing than that of other PS Vita titles…

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‘Destiny of Spirits’ special events in November and December

If free-to-play RPGs are your thing, you will be pleased to note that the creators of Vita title ‘Destiny of Spirits’ have arranged a series of events, bonuses and giveaways, commencing on the 20th November and finishing on the 3rd December.

Returning players on the 20th November will find three new items, including a ‘Gold Joker’, 10,000 summoning stones and 10,000 spirit points.

A Raid event, ’14 Days of Darkness’ has been arranged, featuring battles with different bosses each day of the week.

The one-week mission ‘Friends in Need’ will run again from the 1st December.

In addition there will be a reduction in the number of orbs needed for purification and the return of limited summons.

It will be interesting to see how the ‘free to play’ model aligns with a handheld such as the Vita, but this at least shows there is commitment on the behalf of the developer to keep updating content.

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