Gravity Rush

I don’t know why, but even though I’ve had Gravity Rush for years on my Vita, I never ended up playing much of it, and I can’t remember what made me not get back to it after initially only playing the first few missions. But for some reason, I woke up yesterday morning (Saturday) in the mood to re-visit it, and proceeded to absolutely fall in love with it. I love it as much for the its aesthetics and the way it tells the story (with the animated comic panels), as I do for the gameplay that is so much fun once you get a good handle on it, zooming everywhere and executing attacks from the sky. I’ve already put in 3-4 hours, and it now has me ridiculously excited to experience the sequel on PS4 when it comes out (and yes, I know there’s the PS4 version of the first one out there, but I’m happy to play the copy I already own on Vita). Just goes to show that sometimes, you just need to be in the right frame of mind or interest to really appreciate a game.

Heroes Within

As I’ve mentioned quite a few times, I really love all of the Star Wars tables that have been released for Zen Pinball 2 – especially to play on PS4, where they look amazing – and so I was pretty excited to get a new set of 4 tables, Heroes Within. What can I say, it’s another bunch of great tables that are fun as fuck, and as I’ve said before, I think these are the best Star Wars games getting released these days – there’s nothing else out there that reminds me how much I used to love this franchise. I especially love the Han Solo table – it has the Cantina music playing the whole time! And just a reminder that even though these are cross-buy, you need to buy them first on PS3 or Vita, and then import them to PS4 (if you just buy on PS4, you won’t have access to the PS3/Vita versions).

Trials Frontier

Yet another free-to-play game I’m trying out, and again, how long I end up playing this will depend on how stingy it becomes with its resources – as I’ve said before, I’m willing to unlock stuff, but not pay for resources. So far I’m having a really fun time with this, and I’ve played quite a bit with nothing stopping me. I should say that I do quite like trials games in general, and so it’s a type of gameplay I’m already attracted to. I’m surprised I’m not having issues with the controls, considering you use on-screen buttons, but it does play quite well – but yes, I’d still prefer to play something like this on Vita, like Trials Evolution. So yes, it plays well (on iPad), the graphics are really nice and slick, and I’m even digging the loose storyline and setting (sort of western-like) they use to set up all the levels and the upgrade system (for your bike). I was having trouble putting it down, which also gets me that much more excited for Trials Fusion, the console companion to this game that’s coming out soon (both made by Finnish developer RedLynx). 

Harmony of Despair

I remember when this first came out a few years ago, and that I wasn’t too excited about it. I eventually picked it up during a sale, and even then, it took a while before I finally really played it with a friend over, and that’s when this game truly shines. Last night I played some more with a friend over, and was reminded of how much fun this game can be. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night lately on my Vita, and this basically offers up the same graphics and gameplay, but in a multiplayer context. Sure, sometimes it can be slightly frustrating when you’re lost in the giant level and aren’t sure where to go next, but you still have fun zooming in and out, trying to figure out a way to get to the final boss. 

Destiny of Spirits

This is a new free-to-play game that just came out for Vita, a collaboration between Japan Studio and Q Entertainment. I’m finding it interesting so far, although I just started playing it last night. It’s all about summoning and collecting spirits, and then going on missions that are basically just battles, like what you see pictured here. After you’ve selected the spirits you want to sent to combat, it then runs on auto, and you can pause it to re-direct your attacks, use special actions, etc. The big thing of the game seems to be that it uses location data, so where you are when you play the game will affect the kinds of spirits you can summon. You can also trade spirits with friends, and there may be even more friend interaction that you can do, but I don’t know anyone else playing this yet – and there’s no reason you shouldn’t, since it is a free download after all. I’m of course always weary when it comes to free-to-play stuff, but I’m still curious to give this a few more play sessions, to see what I get out of it. 

Symphony of the Night

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I’m usually not particularly interested in playing old games – the experience rarely, if ever, matches the memories I had of playing them in the first place – but this week’s revelation that longtime Castlevania creator Koji Igarashi was leaving Konami to make games on his own got me feeling very nostalgic for Symphony of the Night, and so I picked it up to play on my Vita. This is also the first time I play it in English, as my original playthrough was of the Japanese edition (that I played while I was a student in China), and it was also responsible for the first bits of Japanese I learned – I still regularly quote the “arigatou gozaimasu” from the shopkeeper. I’ve played a couple of hours now, and am really enjoying the gameplay again, but my biggest annoyance is when I die – it takes at least a minute to be playing again, since you first have to go back to the start screen. Dying in games is not the frustrating part, it’s how long it takes before you can be playing again (and of course, how much progress you’ve lost). I am very happy that I’m having a good time with it, still digging the graphics and music, and the pure satisfaction of killing creatures with my sword thrusts and flinging axes. But man, fuck those jumping monkeys – they annoyed me way back then, and they still annoy me now.

Luftrausers

A dogfighting game with minimal 8-bit graphics didn’t sound like something I’d be really into playing, but it’s gotten to a point where I’ll buy anything by Vlambeer on day 1, and so that’s what I did with this. I got the Vita/PS3 (cross-play) version, and so far have only played on Vita, which is how I really wanted to play it anyway. This game is incredibly addictive, and the way that you just start up a new game so quickly (flick up) after you die makes it so that it’s hard to stop. I really dig the controls – it’s not a twin-stick shooter, you’re giving your plane a boost by pushing up on the analog stick, and steering by pushing left or right. Stop shooting and you can heal yourself automatically. I was having a blast going in controlled stalls to get in a better position to shoot down my enemies, and the upgrade system – you unlock new parts for your plane – gives a nice variety to the gameplay. 

Doctor Strange

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Zen Pinball 2 continues to be one of my most played games on PS4, and I was happy to get two new tables recently. First up is the Doctor Strange one, and although I thought it looked a bit plain when I first saw it, I am now digging the sort of psychedelic colors, and I’ve managed to rack up close to 30 million so far – on a match in which I did the full “Nightmare” mission. Again, as a reminder, you should buy these tables on PS3 or Vita, and then import it to PS4 (if you buy on PS4, you can’t play them on the other consoles).

Star Wars Pinball: Balance of the Force

I love pinball, I love Zen Pinball 2, and I especially love the Star Wars tables. I recently got the second set of SW tables that were released for the game, Balance of the Force, and wow. I truly believe that these are the best Star Wars games that have come out in years. I get such a charge from playing them, with the amazing music and sound/voice effects that really make me fall in love with the series all over again (yes, it is possible to wash away the bad taste from the prequels). And as much as I already loved playing these on PS3 and Vita, they are astoundingly beautiful on PS4. Also, note that although Zen Pinball 2 purchases are cross-platform (PS3/PS4/Vita), you need to buy them on PS3 or Vita and then import them in the PS4 version of the game – if you buy them in the PS4 version, you can’t access them in your PS3 or Vita versions of the game.

Urban Trial Freestyle

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This is also currently free if you’re a PlayStation Plus member – for Vita – and I really got addicted to playing it yesterday. I didn’t think I’d be into playing a “trials” game – I seem to remember trying Trials HD (different series) on XBLA, and not being interested in dealing with the difficulty of it. But here, I’m having fun, and it’s probably because even if you crash, restarting from the last checkpoint is extremely fast, instant really. Great game to have on a portable, and it looks great too.