Vita

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I found myself constantly surprised by Rollers of the Realm. Phantom Compass has managed to blend pinball gameplay with RPG mechanics in the absolute best way. There’s no denying that Rollers is a digital game, and there is no effort put into making it a simulacrum of a real pinball table. Physical pinball is great, but sometimes it’s nice to use electronic platforms for more, and that’s exactly what Phantom Compass has done here. READ MORE

2014 has proven to be a fruitful year for fans of the Tales franchise. Tales of Hearts R marks the third release, following remaster compilation Tales of Symphonia Chronicles and fan-friendly sequel Tales of Xillia 2. It’s been billed by some as the great JRPG hope for the faltering Vita, the result of a fan-led campaign to see more localized titles make it to American shores for its content-starved audience.

It isn’t a bad game by any means, but it suffers from the weight of the expectations it bears. READ MORE

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There’s no denying that The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a huge package offering lots of replay value. With over 200 items, randomly-generated maps and enemy placements and rewards for completing the game multiple times, Rebirth is a completionist’s dream. READ MORE

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Another Musou game? Yes, Omega Force and Koei Tecmo America have been quite prolific as of late, pumping out releases in the Warriors series faster than most can keep track of them. Even those who love the franchise may be feeling some fatigue, and thinking that Samurai Warriors 4, the latest release, is a good one to skip and take a break. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your wallet), the game justifies itself with refined combat, interesting battlefield strategy and a level of care and polish that has been absent in most Omega Force releases. READ MORE

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It’s always been a bit crazy how Japan has managed to remain so different when it comes to video games. Senran Kagura is probably one of the biggest examples of this: a game based on Japanese myth, mixed with more modern themes, but not one that simply takes game mechanics from something already popular. While Shinovi Versus continues where Burst left off, the series really doesn’t feel like any game before it. Shinovi Versus builds on the earlier games, but adds quite a bit to it thanks in part to the increased power and control available on Vita. READ MORE

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When you first encounter Natural Doctrine, it appears to be a hybrid of Valkyria Chronicles and a crazy person’s conspiracy wall. As you play more, the symbology and walls of tied-together information begin to be somewhat more legible, but the metaphor becomes ever stronger: Natural Doctrine searches frantically for answers to how to make a good strategy RPG and overlays a web of complicated systems to try to make that happen, but ultimately it’ll just drive you mad. READ MORE

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Vertical shooters these days are largely something we see as part of the past, or as super-difficult PC games from Japan. Velocity 2X is neither of those things. The original Velocity was a typical vertical shooter that started as a PlayStation Mini, designed for the PSP, though it eventually received a PS Vita and PSP port called Velocity Ultra. In addition to taking the series to the television, Velocity 2X adds varied level types and increased accessibility. READ MORE

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The long, long line of Musou games thrives on sheer volume of content. Those who aren’t fans of the series will get nothing out of the prospect of doing something they don’t like dozens upon dozens of times, but if you buy into the Warriors formula, you can expect Omega Force to pile your plate high with characters, battles and unlockables. Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, the third enhanced edition of the game, adds an extra layer of cameos and modes to a title that already offered quite a bit. READ MORE

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Surprisingly hot on the heels of the release of the first game, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has both the benefit and the challenge of following an experience that is still quite fresh in players’ minds. Considering how much the original Danganronpa turned the visual novel genre on its head, it’s hard not to wonder whether the sequel could live up to its standards.

I’m happy to say that it did that and then some. READ MORE

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Stealth games have gone through somewhat of a renaissance as of late, augmenting traditionally rigid mechanics you associate with the genre for something more forgiving. This is a way to introduce the genre to new players without alienating the veterans, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. CounterSpy continues this new traditional in style, with randomly generated side-scrolling levels and a focus on maintaining the balance between pure stealth and action. READ MORE