The Vita Report

Oops, got a little behind on writing this one. This is all stuff I played before the recent trio of Vita reviews I did on A Most Agreeable Pastime. 

A puzzle platformer from…the creators of God of War? Strange. It’s a decent little game, but this kind of game is definitely not Santa Monica Studios’ strongest suit. It has an interesting visual style, but it doesn’t really do anything you haven’t seen in every other game like this, with no new additions to make it stand out. I finished the main story and just stopped there without bothering to go on to the challenge levels or DLC expansions. I guess you could do worse if you want a quick puzzle fix and see it on sale for a few dollars, but I wouldn’t suggest that you go out of your way to try it.

This was a free game of the month from a while back. Another puzzle platformer, but this one’s very different. You just kind of roll your way through levels without a lot of direct control over your “character” most of the time. You’re just a weird energy ball really, and all you can do is change to each of the 4 elements, and so each change will let you survive certain situations or increase your momentum so you can keep rolling on to the next set of obstacles. For example, changing to fire lets you survive fiery environments, air lets you raise upwards, water lets you flow through tiny spaces, and so on.

There are other advantages and disadvantages to each element and the levels begin turning into increasingly complex roller coasters of death. It actually gets quite difficult in the later levels, and sometimes trying to get your guy to roll at just the right speed and direction can start to feel more like luck than skill, but I still ended up enjoying it all quite a bit. One of the best free games I think I’ve played on here. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into this type of game.

After being so disappointed by the Jak & Daxter games, I kind of expected this series to end up being about the same, as they so often seem to be mentioned side by side with each other. Boy was I wrong though. Ratchet & Clank is everything Jak & Daxter tried to be, but mostly failed at. The controls of your character and your vehicles are actually functional and solid, there’s a huge selection of weapons and gadgets and they’re all very fun and easy to use, and the levels are huge and really well designed, full of interesting obstacles, enemies, and secrets.

What a huge game too. So much bigger than I expected from this kind of game. I actually have only played the first of the trilogy so far because the first one was so long I thought I’d take a break to play some other stuff before jumping into the next one, but I have high hopes after the impressive first entry.

And another free game of the month, which is…surprise, surprise…another puzzle platformer. This is a color matching game where you have to change the color to make various platforms and obstacles appear or disappear accordingly. I know I’ve seen this feature in other games (but I can’t think of which), but they usually stick to 2 colors and Hue apparently decided to expand on this formula by using 8. The puzzles are well designed and a bit tricky, but not frustratingly so. Another surprisingly good game for a freebie.

Yet another free one, but they can’t all be winners. Forma8 is kind of a Metroidvania, except you play as a flying orb that moves excruciatingly slowly and there’s not nearly as much focus on combat as there usually is in such a game. I guess this is for the best because the combat is really clunky. I only had two weapons during my several hours with the game, a basic attack that shoots an incredibly short-ranged circle of energy out around your body, which turns out to be useless against most enemies, and a tougher, longer ranged missile attack…except it’s a charged attack that you can only fire this one out of your backside, so I’m sure you can imagine how this can make for some extremely awkward combat when you’re a slow-moving flying orb and to hit something you need to position yourself facing away from the enemy while holding the secondary attack button and then let go at precisely the right moment to hit your moving target. Fun times (not really).

I struggled through more of the combat than I’d have liked, but what ended up putting me off all the way was the horribly slow pace. Movement is just so very slow and the levels are large, twisting caverns that are full of a lot of empty space, and all the typically required Metroidvania backtracking becomes painfully tedious. I just got too bored and moved on to the next thing.

Aaaand you guessed it, one more free game of the month. This one was ok. Decent enough twin stick shooting mechanics bogged down with forced co-op mechanics even in singleplayer, a horrible story and characters, and some other really clunky design decisions. Still, the shooting was fun enough to entertain me for a few hours. I wouldn’t really recommend paying for it though. There are much better twin stick shooters and/or co-op action games out there.

A fun Gradius-style shooter that I already did a full review for: Review of Super Hydorah at A Most Agreeable Pastime

A short pixel art roguelite dungeon crawler that I also already did a full review on recently: Review of One More Dungeon at A Most Agreeable Pastime

And finally another roguelite that I also already wrote a full review on: Review of Xenon Valkyrie+ at A Most Agreeable Pastime

I wanted to say a few more things about it now that I’ve finished though. My high opinion of the game hasn’t changed, but damn the last few things to conquer in this game were tough. If you want the real boss and ending you have to beat the game with the 2nd and 3rd characters, but not just beat the game normally, you have to take a detour through each characters respective secret set of levels, then come out the other side alive and finish the rest of the game again. This unlocks the 2 halves of the ultimate weapon, the Xenon Valkyrie.

Then you have to take the first character, buy the Xenon Valkyrie (which you have to do for each attempt), beat the game yet again, and then you can finally enter the hidden final area which is suddenly a side-scrolling shoot-em-up battle against the real final boss. It’s kind of a light bullet hell fight, which doesn’t seem too horrible, except all his attacks kill you in one shot and of course, if you lose you have to start back at the beginning of the game again. Luckily this only took 3 tries, but at about an hour per try, I was really starting to lose patience with it, so I’m quite glad that’s over with.

That wasn’t quite everything though, as there was still the dreaded super secret area, the Blackstorm Lab. This place was made up of 4 levels full of extremely tough enemies and taking place in almost total darkness. There are no shop/rest areas between any of the levels and the entrance is found very early in the game so you have no choice but to enter it at a very low level. Then if you can finally manage to get through the 4 levels, you’d expect there to finally be a shop/rest area, but nope, it throws you right into a really nasty boss fight that you need some serious health to survive. I finally made it, but this took quite a few tries to finally conquer. I lost count of how many exactly.

Even with those extra frustrating bits, it was still one of the better Vita games I’ve played. I keep getting the music stuck in my head too. Think I’ll have to pick up the soundtrack.

So that’s all for this edition of The Vita Report. In fact, this might be the last one of these you see for some time, as a recent development may be causing me to put the Vita down for a long period of time. What exactly does that mean? Well, I’m not gonna tell you right now, but you’ll hear all about it soon!

P.S. Finally hit 100 followers. Not going to make a whole post about it, just allow me this one moment of boastful celebration! Thanks to all of you fine people for reading!

2 comments on “The Vita Report

  1. Escape Plan looks interesting, but I don’t like puzzle platformers at all. It’s just the art style that grabs my attention there.

  2. The Otaku Judge says:

    Congrats on hitting 100 followers. I used to think that the Vita was famous for RPGs and visual novels. Seems like puzzle platformers are equally popular on this handheld.

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