Gravity Rush Review

Gravity Rush, the highly anticipated Playstation Vita exclusive from Keiichiro Toyama, designer behind the Silent Hill, Siren and several other titles has finally arrived for western audiences after multiple delays causing several release date revisions.

The game starts off with the protagonist, Kat, falling from the sky and landing in the floating town of Hekseville. She soon wakes up completely devoid of any memories of who she is or where she’s landed. Now fully conscious, Kat soon meets a mysterious cat that has apparently chosen to accompany her for some unknown reason.

Kat’s feliene companion, Dusty

It’s not long before kat discovers that with her new feline companion, now called ‘Dusty’, she has the ability to shift gravity at will. Of course, this attracts quite a fair amount of attention from the citizens of Hekseville, some of whom regard Kat as a hero and some who only think of her as a nuisance.  Coincidentally, the town also sees an increase in devastating ‘gravity storms’, which alter the gravity in the surrounding area and sucks in anything unlucky enough to be nearby, and attacks from a species of mysterious monsters known as the ‘Nevi’. Confident in her newly discovered gravity powers, Kat decides to help fight the Nevi as they are encountered to protect the citizens.

When using Kat’s gravity abilities, the main one at your disposal is shifting gravity to virtually any direction. This allows you to walk on walls, ceilings, the sides of buildings or anywhere you can possibly imagine. By shifting gravity, you can also ‘fly’ to any desired point by using the right analogue stick, or motion sensor to move a target reticule in to place while floating, then shifting gravity to that direction. To combat the Nevi, Kat’s main attacks will be a standard kick while she’s standing on the ground, or a gravity kick, which can be used while floating in mid air and homes in on the targeted area with gravity-enhanced force. Later in the game, you will also learn new special gravity attacks you can use in battle.

Floating around one of the areas in Hekseville

The bulk of the game’s story is told through completing designated story missions, which you navigate to by finding the mission markers placed in the town. This means a fair amount of travelling back and forth around the different areas of Hekseville to get to your next objective point. While this may seem tedious, simply using the gravity powers to explore Hekseville provides an enjoyable experience as you fly around and explore the city from above the rooftops, underneath the city’s foundations or walking along the walls between the many buildings populating the area.

In addition to the story missions, you can find and play through optional challenge missions scattered around the city, each requiring you to complete a certain objective such as defeating as many enemies as possible within a time limit or use your gravity powers to pick up as much garbage as you can to clear the streets. While these extra missions aren’t essential and don’t supplement the story in any way, they do reward you with ‘precious gems’ depending on how well you do at the end of the challenge. These gems can then be used to unlock other challenge missions or upgrade Kat’s abilities and enhance her powers. Completing these extra missions and collecting gems scattered around the town will help you get a few more hours out of the game, but these may not appeal to players who are only interested in the main storyline.

Kat at home, relaxing between missions

As for the story, Gravity Rush presents a unique and intriguing tale, featuring interesting characters and consistently grabs your attention with multiple twists and turns in the storyline. While some of these plot points can be pretty predictable, the game also progresses in a few completely unexpected ways.  The story narrative throughout the game should have no problem keeping players engaged and wanting to know more about what happens next with Kat or the numerous other personalities she encounters along the way. A lot of supplemental plot points are raised during the game, such the history of other characters or where Kat came from, but the ending leaves a few of these points unresolved, with no real closure to kat’s story or any final conclusion. Hopefully, this leaves the door open for additional story content in the form of DLC or a sequel to tell the rest of the story and fill in the gaps that are left at the end of the game.

Hanging around…

From a technological standpoint, Gravity Rush doesn’t seem to be pushing the limits of the PlayStation Vita hardware in terms of graphical fidelity. However, the beautiful comic book inspired, cel-shaded graphics definitely make you forget about that. The environments and characters in gravity rush have a unique style to them and the level of detail in creating the world you explore in the game is amazing.

Even though it’s only been a couple months after the PlayStation Vita’s western release, common opinion is that it’s currently in dire need of exclusive titles for it to remain relevant for multiplatform gamers. Luckily, Gravity Rush delivers a unique experience you can only get here on the PS Vita and would be a welcome addition to any owner’s collection.

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Lumines : Electronic Symphony Review

Just over 6 years ago, Lumines debuted on the original Sony PSP console as a launch title developed by Mizuguchi Tetsuya, probably most known for Rez and its spiritual successor, the recent Child of Eden game. Fast-forward to present day and Q has returned with the latest game in the Lumines series, Electronic Symphony, for the PS Vita’s launch.

Upon starting the game, you’ll be greeted with the menu, where you can select to play one of the various modes available. The main game mode, voyage, allows you play through all the skins in the game’s tracklist back to back.The core aim of the game still remains the same as always, you use the falling blocks to match squares of the same colour, which are then cleared as the time slider scrolls past the screen. As you complete each skin, you unlock it and can then add it to a custom playlist in the returning playlist mode. The first few skins in voyage mode start off rather easy, with the difficulty gradually increasing the longer you manage to continue playing without any blocks reaching the top of the screen. This is definitely useful for new players, so they can get accustomed to playing the game, but veterans may find it takes too long to get to a difficulty level which would challenge their abilities.

So, for players looking for more of a challenge mode, Master mode gives you 5 ‘zones’ of increasing difficulty and speed, which you can play through in sequence, or select a specific zone once you’ve unlocked it. Stopwatch mode is included as a simple time-attack mode where you need to clear as much blocks as you can in 30,60,180 or 300 seconds. Multiplayer is also included in the form of the Duel mode, where you can play other Lumines players via the Ad-hoc connection.

To keep ES from being a simple rehash of the previous games, several new features that have been introduced to the Lumines series. The main addition, the Experience System, keeps track of the scores you get in each of the game modes and awards you XP. as your XP bar fills and you level up, new skins and avatars are unlocked. This feature will be very useful for players who want to get some of the later skins in voyage mode but cant survive long enough to reach them.
The avatars that you select now can provide you with abilities you can use in game to help you clear blocks or to hinder your opponents when playing multiplayer. Each avatar has 2 abilities, one for single player and the other for multiplayer, with over 40 different avatars available to unlock. While the addition of avatar abilities isn’t a game-changing feature, it can definitely be useful when you have a pile of blocks nearing the top of the screen and need something to deal with them quickly. This can also be said about the ‘Swap Block’, another new in game feature, which will randomly swap the colours of all the connecting blocks when it is placed. If you’re lucky it could even create a large chain of blocks once it’s swapped the colours around.

One unusual addition to the game is the “world block”, which is a block of 2 million squares, which gets reset every 24 hours. During every 24 hour period, all Lumines : ES players are tasked with clearing this block by contributing squares. This is done automatically when you clear squares in the single player modes while connected to the Internet. This isn’t essential, but contributing to this will award you with bonus XP, which can help you unlock that next skin or avatar.

While the core game hasn’t been changed a great deal from the original, Q Entertainment have imbued Electronic Symphony with several new features to enhance the experience for old and new players alike. Playing Electronic Symphony on the PS Vita with the vivid colours and backgrounds, as well as the new 3D blocks, looks absolutely stunning on the 5” OLED screen, while the catchy soundtrack will always keep you coming back for more. If you want to be fully immersed in the experience, a good pair of headphones would be a wise choice indeed.

Osu!droid Review

If you’ve owned a Nintendo DS, you may be familiar with a game called Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, which was a music/rythym game released in japan and then spawned a US/EU adaptaption called Elite Beat Agents. Both these games were very well received by fans and gaming press, and eventually a PC game simply called osu!, based on the original DS game was created by Dean Herbert, aka peppy.

with osu! on PC, players could use their mouse to play or, if they had access to a graphics tablet, use a stylus instead, which many found was a better way to play and far more accurate than using the mouse. osu! also introduced many features and additions to the basic gameplay style found in the original DS games, players could create and share their own beatmaps for any song they wanted, and use custom skins to modify how the game looks when playing a certain song.

With that history lesson over, a port of osu! called osu!droid has been released on android, thanks to the efforts of a coder who goes by the name of pesets, after porting the game to the android platform over the past few months. Visually, the game looks almost exactly like the PC version, with the same interface and also retains the ability to display custom skins included with particular beatmaps. The basic concept of osu!droid is simple to learn but difficult to master, especially when you decide to try some of the hard or insane level beatmaps in the game.

When you start the game, you’ll be greeted with this title screen; you can choose to play, modify options or quit. After clicking play, the game will load for a few seconds to scan the designated directory and add any newly added beatmaps into the game libary. Once this has completed, you’ll see your song selection list. osu!droid comes with 4 sample songs and osu!droid lite doesn’t come with any songs at all (this download would be better for you have a low data cap on your android device). Scroll through the song list by swiping up or down and then tap on a song title to reveal the different difficulty levels available for that song. Some songs will have one or two different difficulty levels and some others may have up to 5 or possibly more. It’s completely dependent on whoever created the beatmap, since all of the beatmaps are created by the osu! community online.

As mentioned before, the gameplay is based on osu! on PC, which in turn is based on Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! on Nintendo DS. So, if you’re familiar with either of those, you’ll know exactly how to play this version. For those who don’t, you play by tapping the circles on screen in time with the music. When a circle appears, a ring also appears around it, gradually getting smaller until it is the same size as the outer circumference of the circle. Once the outer ring reaches this point, this is the optimal time to tap the circle. These circles also appear in a sequence and are numbered to indicate in what order you need to tap them to progress through the song. Depending on how accurate you are, you’ll score 50, 100 or 300 points on each circle. Some beatmaps will also include sliders and spinners. Sliders require you to drag a sphere along a path that appears on screen and spinners need to be spun around multiple times to fill a gauge to complete that section.

Compared to the original PC version, osu!droid is an excellent port so far, retaining many of the features that made the PC game such a fun game to play. However, there are some features which aren’t included in this port, namely online rankings for songs and online multiplayer against other people. This may be a dealbreaker for some of the hardcore PC osu! players, but for simply playing a good music rhythm game on your own and having a wide selection of songs to play from. osu!droid is a really good choice for now.

osu!droid is available now on the android market for all android devices using android 1.6 and up

[Android Review] – QBeat for Android

QBeat - Music/Rhythm game for android
Cost: Free
Availability: Android Market

Tested on: ASUS Eee Pad Transformer [Android 3.2]

While looking for some music/rythym games to try out on my tablet, i found this little game on the Android Market. It wasn’t the J/Ubeat game i was originally looking for but did help pass a few minutes. Continue reading