So, as per usual of lately, there doesn't seem to be really anything all that huge to talk about, but there are kind of a few teeny tiny things of importance that couldn't really sustain a post themselves, but brought together make something a little substantial and happy. And we like when things do that. Because it too does not happen quite enough. But there's no worry of that tonight and as an added bonus, all the little news bits are about the Vita! Which you know I like that as well and because of that, I'll be taking the utmost care in delivering the bits here. If you need a visual aid as to the preparation, imagine somebody who has taken the time to write up note cards, reads from them, and then casually tosses them over his shoulder as he finishes with it. Because I am totally doing that and you cannot prove otherwise and really, it's just a funny visual nonetheless.
As you might have already guessed, the first bit of Vita news concerns the above pictured Soul Sacrifice. The much-anticipated game, one that seems to take after Monster Hunter and the Souls franchise simultaneously, has already been announced for all regions which is fantastic, but previously unannounced was whether or not the game would support Online Multiplayer or if it would remain simply local co-op multiplayer, as some handheld titles tend to do. The game does seem to practically beg for online multiplayer (considering there is going to be a multiplayer portion of the game, online seemed like a shoe-in, but those dice are never counted until they stop rolling, of course) but at the same time, it almost seems to go against the overall theme of the game since, as we know, multiplayer is rarely, rarely ever two to four people totally 'immersed' in the game and the universe, so much as it's people who don't know each other playing awkwardly together, or people who know each other and sort of talk about whatever they want overtop the game. We've all been there, I'm sure.
Regardless of whether or not it will break the theme and/or mood, online multiplayer has been confirmed, so whether or not you want to really, honestly attempt to get 'into' the game and weigh sacrifice as a real, visceral option with some friends across the country, or if you just want to kill some things with your spine while your friends cheer you on because you're getting them free experience, you'll be able to. Keiji Inafune would obviously like it if you would subscribe to the former option, stating that with the multiplayer mode, everyone can feel the full weight of what the sacrifice means, emotionally, especially when you play with your friends 'or girlfriend'. His words, not mine. Because there's just a ton of girlfriends out there waiting for the chance to play Soul Sacrifice with their partner and they just so happen to both have Vitas instead of just share one. (Which I don't personally get; buy your own, people.) Still, the best intentions come with the move, but I'm certain that I'll find myself chatting about Phantasy Star Online 2 and other games with my buddy Kaseius whilst playing the game at some point while we just go through the motions of making things dead. And I imagine this will be a common scenario. Still cool, though.
Moving on, it's fairly safe to say that the sidescroller beat-em-up genre has been sorely overlooked in the past years, and it's only with the releases and announcements of such games like Castle Crashers, Scott Pilgrim Versus The World: The Game and the upcoming Dragon's Crown that we realize the complete lack of attention it's gotten otherwise. Well, Game Arts, the folks behind Ragnarok Odyssey, has decided to add to the solution with Picotto Knights; a stylish little side-scrolling hack-em-up that will focus greatly on customization and cross-promotion. Also of worth to mention, or perhaps as a side-effect of the already mentioned, Picotto Knights will be a free-to-play game that will, unsurprisingly, be supported through micro-transactions, likely the bulk of them being design options since that is definitely where the game's bread will be buttered. Aside from the part where you cut stuff up with a friend and/or AI companion (who will be present if you play the game offline, apparently. Likely someone who will be customizable as well).
I almost didn't bring this up since honestly, I don't know if this stands a chance of coming out in the West. It certainly hasn't been announced because it was just announced for Japan, and as it is, I think an announcement of localization would be a while coming just yet. Being that Game Arts is going to be collaborating with other companies to submit Picotto Knight styled characters (So, as an example, a Picotto Knight version of like Zero if Capcom would be up to collaborating. Zero being the obvious choice because he already has a sword of sorts and Capcom hates Mega Man.) for players to use and/or customize further possible, that suggests it's going to be very mired in licensing things. Licensing issues are, if you're not aware, a big big reason that people don't get things in regions other than the original one, since they're enough of a bitch in one region and are compounded exponentially in others. It is a giant headache that will be a very real issue facing all of gaming, especially in the digital scene, for years to come.
Of course, I would be more than happy to give the game a whirl if it -does- come over here, especially if it remains free-to-play. I am a big fan of games that have all sorts of collaborations like Picotto Knights is promising, or at least hoping for, so this seems pretty good-sounding. Even if it has to come as a base and try to attract companies on this side of the pond all over again (or, more aptly, the publisher that brings it will have to, or resort to using their own characters. NISA, XSEED and Atlus would all be likely suspects in this case, and all have some characters that could make a nice presence in the game on their own) while selling much the same DLC options for the folks who want more than the base game offers or simply wants to support the game itself. Depending on what shows up and the price on those items, it could be a pretty good market, I'd say, since that seems true for most games that offer the same business model.
With all that said, let's get to something a little more Western-focused, shall we? The people who are making Sound Shapes have put together the above video which shows off....somewhat....how to use the level creation tool a little moreso than previous videos have managed to do. Excusing the awkwardness of the guy playing, of course, who seemed like somebody who isn't quite accustomed to being in front of a camera. That said, I didn't mind him at all, except that I simply wished he'd talked a little more about the creator instead of sticking mostly to showing it off. That did have the effect of pointing out that it is fairly easy to get used to, and seems intuitive enough, making full use of the buttons as well as both touch screens for finer touches which was welcome enough for me. Everything available seemed to be quick to bring to your fingertips and it was confirmed in the text of the Playstation Blog Post about the game at least that the things used in the 'album levels' (read: 'Story' mode) will be available for use in the creator after you finish the albums, thus giving the slightest little bit of LittleBigPlanet influence that makes me happy.
It should be mentioned that he did admittedly make a single-screen level, when doing a multi-screen level (other videos, I believe, hint at a sort of go off the edge of screen, get on new screen old school design in that) is possible as well. His playing around with the blank space towards the end of the video, using the "Ahhhhhhh" bit from a Beck level and loop notes and such did take place on the next screen of the same level, purely for demonstrative purposes of course. I imagine, as with most things, the levels designed can be as complicated or simple as you want, and being a game that will allow you to play things an online community has made, you can be assured that there will be some rather crazy-cool things put out there. Personally, I'm taking bets to how many days it takes for 'remixes' of popular game songs, ala Metal Gear Solid theme, Final Fantasy songs, and the like. Smart money, I think, is on two days. We'll see, I'm sure, as I plan on getting the game and will probably look for those.
I should point out again that Sound Shapes is one of the few titles that will support PS3/Vita cross-purchase, in that if you get one version, you have access to the other for free, which basically means that you get two copies of the game, being that a digital copy of a game is still -a- copy of it, and not just a 'thing' to which we are all 'entitled'. The price-point will be $14.99 for North America, but if you're a Plus Member, you get a 20% discount, dropping it down to $11.99. Being that it is also part of the PSN Play promotion, buying it and other games in the promo (one every week for the month or something) gets you PSN funbucks back which, however you phrase it, is still free money. Not only is it a cross-purchase title, but also a cross-play title, meaning that levels created with a Vita can be played on a PS3 and vice-versa. I assume the precision allowed by the Vita version will make it be the version you'll want in this, but we'll just see. Personally, I just want a new messing around game for my Vita and this one looks like it fits the bill quite nicely.