Indie Darling VVVVVV Comes to the 3DS

This is a lovely early New Years’ Gift for all US fans of the 3DS as well as Indie gaming! Terry Cavanaugh’s acclaimed super-hard and incredibly addictive 2D platformer VVVVVV has come to the US 3DS eShop for $7.99 and is apparently quite a blast to play with the 3DS’ much loved 3D-without-glasses screen as well as the second screen that makes the game quite a lot of fun to play.


With its simple controls and simpler graphics, yet extremely convoluted puzzles using the gravity-inversion trick of the game, VVVVVV looked like the best kind of game to be ported to handheld consoles such as the Sony PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo 3DS. So when Cavanaugh decided to go through for developing it for the 3DS, using the secondary screen as a map for the game (one of the more useful ways of using the second screen with this game, although I cannot say I did not see this coming).

The 3DS version, being $3 dearer than the PC version, includes the ability to download fan-made levels on the PC and playing it on this game. In effect, for $7.99, you are getting an unlimited array of levels to keep playing with on your 3DS. Considering how easy this game is to pick up and play, this perfectly supplements the handheld nature of the platform.

Really Big Sky: A Review

One of my first forays into gaming was with a top-down shooter game called Flying Tigers, which my dad constantly tells me is the best video game he has ever played. It was mostly because of the fact that the game’s goal was very simple: shoot everything, and on top of it the only controls you needed were those that were required to move (you automatically kept on shooting). It’s an excellent game and on many counts, is still fun to play. How is it relevant to this review? If you liked Flying Tigers or any of its kind of top-down shooters, you are going to love Really Big Sky.


Boss Baddie’s second game in the Big Sky series (they do not have a storyline as such, but it is a sequel of sorts), Really Big Sky is a blast to play from get go. The visuals are crisp and colorful, bordering on the edgy and epileptic. Unlike other randomly generated level games, Really Big Sky does not look somewhat unfinished, working practically like buttery smooth toast with the enemies, your ship and the satisfying explosions. Much of the levels’ time consists of you shooting colorful lasers and blasters at your enemies and collecting odd power-ups, evading asteroid fields, fighting bosses and pummeling planets with your drill before dying in an altogether dramatized explosion.


Dying is a core part of this game, because there are no health bars to speak of. If you touch an enemy laser, you’re dead. While this makes the first attempt, where the player is assaulted by both enemies on screen and the brilliant fountains of color from the screen itself, terribly hard, it also gives the player the opportunity to convert the points accumulated in the level into cash to buy power-ups such as improved blasters and adding on a shield. Accumulating more points, skills and kills unlocks other game modes such as boss-only, retro, arcade and others.


Drilling is also a very important point of the game. Your ship features a drill that you can activate by pressing a key. This stops the automatic shooting, but allows you to drill through a planet’s core, getting point multipliers, speed increments and other such bonuses. On top of that, while you are using the drill, your blaster gets more powerful for a short while of use because of the pressure build-up. Seriously, that is the explanation given.

While it is a generally fun game to play, Really Big Sky suffers from some minor issues. First and foremost being that the Esc key exits the game without confirmation, and there is no pause button. This led to many hair-tearing moments when I, at a humungous score, had to leave the game for a moment and inadvertently pressed the Esc. key, thinking it would pause the game. It ended the game, instead.
Much of the game and the bonus power-ups are not explained at the start, leaving you to understand, through trial and error. While this is not necessarily a bad thing in my book, it may be so for others.


Whereas at the start of the level it looks rather harmless and even easy, the game gets progressively tougher fitting closer to an exponential graph rather than a linear one. The game is very addictive, nevertheless, and the adrenaline pumping soundtrack in the background makes it quite a lot of fun to survive waves upon waves of ships, asteroids, planets, bosses and space dinosaur skulls (I am not kidding)

You can buy Really Big Sky from a number of places for about $7.99. Go get it!


PS Vita Launch Lineup Details Released

Okay this is exciting and at the same time slightly exasperating. I really really want the PlayStation Vita to release sometime tomorrow and have all the money in the world to buy it as well as all the titles that come with it. Alas I do not live in Utopia, and thus I will have to wait like the rest of non-Japan to get my grubby paws on the device. However, here is a list of things that the PS Vita release in the USA will feature (from the Official PlayStation Blog):


SCEA Launch Day Titles
Escape Plan (PSN Only)
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational
Hustle Kings (PSN Only)
Little Deviants
ModNation Racers: Road Trip
Super StarDust Delta (PSN only)
UNCHARTED: Golden Abyss
wipEout 2048

Launch Window Titles
Gravity Rush
MLB 12 The Show
Reality Fighters
Unit 13

Third Party Publisher Launch Day Titles

Army Corps of Hell
Square Enix, Inc.

Asphalt Injection
Ubisoft, Inc.

D3 Publisher of America

Blazblue: Continuum Shift EXTEND
Aksys Games Localization, Inc.

Dungeon Hunter Alliance
Ubisoft, Inc.

Dynasty Warriors Next
Tecmo Koei America Corporation

F1 2011

Electronic Arts, Inc.

Lumines Electronic Symphony
Ubisoft, Inc.

Michael Jackson The Experience
Ubisoft, Inc.

Plants vs. Zombies (PSN Only)
Sony Online Entertainment LLC

Rayman Origins
Ubisoft, Inc.

Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen
Namco Bandai Games America Inc.

Tales of Space: Mutant Blobs (PSN Only)
Drinkbox Studios

Touch My Katamari (TB Edit: *snicker*)
Namco Bandai Games America Inc.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Capcom Entertainment, Inc.

Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition
Sega of America

Launch Window Titles

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Warner Bros. Interactive Ent. Inc.

Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention
NIS America, Inc.

Tecmo Koei America Corporation

Ridge Racer
Namco Bandai Games America Inc.

Silent Hill Book of Memories
Konami Digital Ent. America, Inc.

Supremacy MMA: Unrestricted
505 Games

You know what I really really want to play? (No not Touch My Katamari, however immaturely perverted that may sound) I wish to play the Uncharted game made for the PS Vita. From what I’ve heard and seen, it looks incredible.

So who is going to gift me a PS Vita in the holiday spirit eh? I’ll probably write a poem to you and Sony about it!


Risen 2: Dark Waters Launch Date Announced

Risen was a fantastic open world Role Playing Game (RPG) that was not taken up very seriously by many gamers. Its Gothic style of play (being way too hard in the beginning and getting harder progressively) made few, albeit loyal, fans. Nevertheless, the game was hailed as a force unto itself, not as a poor man’s Oblivion but rather one of the closest spiritual successors of the Gothic series.

2D Boxshot Wizard v1.1

Now, the developers of Risen have announced Risen 2: Dark Waters, a sequel set in a world where strange and dark things lurk in the murky depths of the sea that are blocking trade routes and traffic. As an Inquisition agent, you are sent to discover the cause and possibly eliminate this problem by seeking any and all help that you can, including that of the the cutthroat pirates. The pirates, however, know more than they are willing to divulge.

Players will have a chance to become pirates, lay siege in the middle of the sea to ships around the sea, or become officers of the law and take down pirate ships. The game also allows players to become adept at using firearms from the old age. Flintlocks and blunderbusses! Yay!

Deep Silver and Piranha Bytes said that the game is set for a 2012 release, with the North American edition going live on the 24th of April, while the European version goes live on the 27th of April.

Considering that this is one of those few games set in harbors and docks with a distinct piratey feel to it, I cannot wait to get my hands on this game. The last game that even sounded this much fun was Sid Meier’s Pirates! and boy was it a lot of fun!

F1: The Game Online Enters Closed Beta

For me, sports-based games are rather pointless because there’s one out every second year and I derive maximum enjoyment by either

  1. Going the wrong way in a track and crashing into other cars in the most spectacular and absurd manner possible. (I’ve been doing this since Superbike 2000 and I believe it’s a remnant of the Road Rash days)
  2. Using cheat codes to win a football/cricket/hockey(?) tourney 234782507 wins to 0 losses.

But of course, all this goes to show that I am not the target demographic, even if I am a Formula 1 fan (to some extent). Nevertheless, the latest official video game from the speeds-that-make-you-scream racing sport of Formula 1 has entered its closed beta and you can give it a try.


It is apparently one of those free-to-play online things. This is the latest scourge that has developed in the video game industry (quite akin to the 3D craze that has been doing the rounds in every Hollywood movie since Avatar) and it does not seem to be going away any time soon.

However, if racing cars with drivers around the world is your thing, and you do not mind astonishingly terrible lag (alright I am generalizing) you can sign yourself up for the closed beta here. However Codemasters (of GRID, DiRT fame) is developing this game so the racing will be quite fun.

Oh and they also released a trailer here. Do have a looksie!

PS Vita Gets Hacked, Runs Hello World Code

Of course gets hackedis a broad term and generally this means that the handheld can play homebrew games, but considering that the device was released just a couple of days ago, I think this is a brilliant development. Yes, Sony’s new handheld gaming console, the PlayStation Vita has made to run custom code within two days of its release. The handheld features a 5 inch OLED touchscreen display, along with a touchpad behind at the back of the device, to analog stick and a motion sensor along with more-than-capable innards making this a brilliant little gadget. However this hack was performed using the PSP emulation feature of the Vita, with a homebrew jailbreak called the Half-Byte Loader (HBL) being used to run the custom code. helloworldvita Japanese PSP hacker mamosuke put up this post on his blog. The post explains how he used the HBL for firmware 6.31 to run the hello worldscript on his brand new PS Vita. His blog, though, is mostly in Japanese and Google’s translate feature leaves one wanting for something far better. Taken up from his site:-

PSN version save game exploit with other titles, so there are some that may be realized in the start of the PSP Homebrew PS Vita Once you have established how to start the HBL, the saved data is Sony ” Administrative Assistant for PlayStation content “must be transferred to the PS Vita, and further to transfer the state must now transfer the save data folder into the Hello World binaries that only the saved data . Will be transferred into the data folder in the save if the body can then be started with Vita HBL.

This new development also has the ominous effect of Sony noticing and crushing this exploit pathway sooner or later. For a company that has been dealing with leaks for so long, I guess it becomes second nature. So, will you be buying the new Sony PS Vita? Tell us in the comments!

Gaikai Puts Up a Huge List of Streaming Demos On Its Website

Remember Gaikai? That tiny startup that wished to enable folks with not-so-good computers but definitely good internet speeds to play games on the web browser itself? This service was a bit like OnLive, the streaming gaming console, minus the actual buying of another dedicated piece of hardware. Gaikai allows you to do the same thing while lazing around on your bed, with your personal room heater laptop.


However, unlike OnLive, Gaikai will only be showcasing demos for games on their website. It is like a quick advertising service; instead of people waiting for downloads of demos to finish (and demos these days are huge), they can go to the Gaikai website and launch the demo of whatever game they wish to play and see if they like the game. Gaikai uses its own software to compress the images and send it to your browser screen, while your keyboard and mouse movements are translated into its input in the server far away. All this is accomplished with the magic of Java.


Currently, the selection of game demos is quite interesting, with The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Dead Space 2, Dead Rising 2, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age II, and Crysis 2 adorning its halls (and we suspect they really like the number 2). All you need to do is point your browser to the website, allow Java to always run on that site and start playing.gaikaideadrising2

Sadly, however, the service is only supported in some regions, and mine was not one of those supported regions. I suspect this is due to control-lag issues and will not be solved in a while. So if you do try it out, let us know how it went eh?

The Humble Indie Bundle 4 Becomes the Fastest Selling Bundle

With great fanfare and much adulation, the Humble Indie Bundle 4 (not exactly the fourth, technically speaking) has been released. It contained the exact games (plus an addition) that we had talked about in our earlier post. Great happiness, since I was looking forward to playing many of the games in that list, beginning with Gratuitous Space Battles and Shank. (The other games in the bundle are Super Meat Boy, BIT.TRIP RUNNER, Jamestown, NightSky HD and Cave Story+)


The bundle is also the first to break the one million dollar mark in a mere twenty four hours. A feat that few mainstream games manage to do. For this, Jeffrey Rosen and his Humble team need to be applauded.

However, it must be known that the average purchase of Windows users, by far the biggest share of the Bundle buyers is abysmally low at $4.70, meaning most of us (yes, you and I both) did not think that these five games are worth even a dollar apiece. Maybe some people buy the bundle at the average rate once, and buy it for pennies to gift to others, or maybe they do not think indie games are worth more than that. Either way, it is rather disheartening to see the abysmal rates from Windows users.


However the makers of the Bundle have made an effort to increase the spending by allowing two bonus games to be unlocked only if the purchase is above the average. The bonus games are Gratuitous Space Battles and Cave Story +. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best Bundles in a long while, and those two bonus games seal this brilliant game. I urge you all to spend more than the average to get your Bundles!

Hide your Phone from your Kids; Disney Introduces Four New Mobile Games

Disney Interactive Media Group, India has unveiled a brand new and exciting menu of four mobile games. The four multi-genre Disney games – Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides, The Legend of G-Sword, Brain Gain, and Typhoon Riders – will be available across all the leading mobile phone carriers and can also be downloaded via the Disney WAP site:

Priced at INR 50 each, these games have been developed in India. For each game downloaded, player will get an additional Disney game at no extra cost. Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG), a segment of The Walt Disney Company, is responsible for the global creation and delivery of interactive entertainment, multi-platform video games, and lifestyle content across all current and emerging digital media platforms.

Brain GainPirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger TidesThe Legend of G-SwordTyphoon Riders


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

This official 2D mobile game embarks you as Capt. Jack Sparrow on a quest to find the mystical fountain of youth and come across Blackbeard, the deadliest pirate of the sea. This action adventure game spans you across the plot of the official movie which introduces you to key characters and different locations.

The Legend of G-Sword

This action packed game takes the players into the real Ninja World. The players get to fight against the Dragon Snake, powerful and evil Ninja Gijanosho Eji’ who has only one motive in mind to conquer the Ninjutsu World, his Dark Disciple, and flying creatures.

Brain Gain

Brain Gain is   a complete package of brain games with cute characters and environments. It allows you to test focus and memory power while playing with jumping frogs, puzzles, zooming cars, and counting bees. Brain Gain is an exciting way to sharpen the brain and be smarter than your friends. This game also gives an opportunity to achieve a high score and be a Disney Certified Brain Gain Champ!

Typhoon Riders

The ultimate motorbike racing game, Typhoon Riders, requires the player to race against a motorcycle gang to get to the top and take the ring leader’s place. The players get to earn money, buy new bikes, and use the Typhoon feature to take out any opponents on the road.

PS3 Firmware Update 4.00 Removes Support for the PSP. Oh Dear.

I have this theory that in the Tokyo headquarters of Sony Entertainment Corporation, a Gríma Wormtongue-like figure ominously whispers and fills in the ears of Kaz Hirai, who is reclining like King Theoden. (If you do not understand what I am talking about, then you really must read The Lord of the Rings. Please do so immediately!) Otherwise there is no explanation as to why some of the best features of the PlayStation 3 (PS3) console have been serially diluted over the years. The original PS3 was a brilliant console with backwards compatibility and hardware emulation for PS2 and older consoles, along with the ability to install a custom OS (Linux, to be precise) and connect a PlayStation Portable (PSP) and transfer compatible games to it. In the next sub-iteration of the PS3, called the PS3 Slim, the hardware emulation was replaced by software, and eventually a firmware update permanently removed the ability to install Linux on the system.


Now, it seems that firmware update 4.00 adds support for the PS Vita (due to be released on December 17th in Japan and parts of Asia) and, surprisingly, removes support for the legacy PSP.

Shacknews reports that the glitch(we are giving Sony the benefit of doubt here) removes the Copy function of every compatible game from the Xross Media Bar (XMB, the UI of the PS3 and the PSP) on the PS3’s screen, effectively disallowing the copying of a legally downloaded game on to a legally allowed secondary platform.

We await more news on this, but I really hope for Sony’s sake that it’s a glitch and not a feature.