The days are basically numbered for Sony’s beleaguered portable console, the PS Vita, and they have been for some time. But that hasn’t stopped indie developer Drinkbox Studios from supporting it. Three of the company’s four games have been released for the Vita (including the excellent Guacamelee!), and the latest (hack-and-slash explorer Severed) came out earlier this year as a Vita exclusive.
However, Drinkbox knows that it needs to move beyond Sony’s aging handheld: That’s why Severed is coming to iOS devices as well as Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS. The iOS port arrives today ready for the iPhone and iPad and costs $6.99. That may be a little expensive for an iOS game, but it’s less than half of what the game costs on the Vita. And it dramatically expands the number of people who’ll get a chance to play Severed.
Previous Drinkbox games eventually made their way to various Xbox and PlayStation consoles, but Severed relies heavily on the touchscreen, making iOS and Nintendo’s platforms a far better match this time out. I played an pre-release version of the game on iOS, and it seems particularly well-suited to the wide expanses of the iPad’s screen (though it works on the phone, as well). Slashing your way through enemies feels great on the big screen, and the two-finger gesture to adjust your character’s first-person view is a totally natural gesture.
Everything about the Vita version of the game is intact here, including Drinkbox’s signature bright and eerie art style and some wonderfully creepy atmospheric music. It may cost more than the average game, but Severed is a pretty extensive experience as far as iOS games go. It also has a number of new iOS features, including cloud save across multiple devices, game center achievements, graphics optimizations using Apple’s Metal technology and an easier “casual” difficulty mode.
If you’re a Vita fan, however, Drinkbox has some sad news: It sounds as if Severed will be the studio’s last game for the handheld. “We’ve talked about if we were ever to do a Kickstarter, the Vita might be a stretch goal,” Drinkbox’s Graham Smith told me. “We have an internal game engine that we use that really works well with iOS now, so now all things being equal it’s just as easy to put out a game on iOS as it is on the Vita,” Chris McQuinn from Drinkbox adds. “We love the Vita, but we also need to survive financially.”
But the good news is that Drinkbox appears to be more than capable of bringing its distinctive style to iOS. The company has made some excellent games thus far, regardless of platform, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens once they start building games from the ground up with iOS in mind. And the company’s support of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 thus far means we’ll likely see new games there in the future as well.
Sony is planning to sell its battery division to Murata, a Japanese firm that makes a diverse variety of products like wireless components and robots. Sony started the battery business in 1975 and was the first company to commercialize lithium-ion batteries back in 1991. The electronics giant has been selling off core businesses and assets in an effort to return to profitability — it recently unloaded its VAIO PC division, New York and Tokyo Headquarters, and Sony Online Entertainment game division. It also split off its sensor and TV businesses into separate companies.
Murata will likely acquire the Sony Energy Devices Corporation subsidiary and manufacturing plants in China and Singapore, excluding alkaline batteries and USB chargers. It then intends to “position the global battery business as a core operation within its energy business.” The battery arm is part of Sony’s profitable sensor division, but was a drag on earnings in 2015 to the tune of $270 million.
Sony started the battery business in 1975 and was the first company to commercialize lithium-ion batteries back in 1991.
Sony says that while it focused on improving the profitability of lithium-ion smartphone batteries, it adds that the “competitive environment is significantly changing.” In fact, Samsung claims it is the current leader in small lithium-ion batteries, and has been since 2010. Other players like LG Chem and Panasonic also outsell Sony.
The agreement is non-binding pending “due diligence and negotiation of detailed terms and conditions of the transfer,” Sony says. Executives from both companies are aiming for an agreement by mid-October 2016, with the transfer complete by March 2017.
Yakuza fans, rejoice! Yakuza 0 has finally been given a release date, and it’s officially on its way as a PlayStation 4 exclusive.
Travel back to 1988 to the streets of Kamurocho on January 24, 2017 with the latest entry in the Yakuza series. It’s a prequel to the previous games in the series, so if you’ve yet to try one of them out this is one of the best ways you could get acquainted.
This PlayStation 4 release will feature chapter titles, character introductions, opponent names and on-screen directions in English rather than offering subtitles for the kanji for the first time since Yakuza 2. In addition, the Japanese voice actors will remain, with the English script retaining Japanese honorifics.
Yakuza 0 will receive both physical and digital copies next year when it rolls out in January. Check out the official website for additional details.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Key PlayStation exec Adam Boyes already said he was leaving Sony to return to game development, but it’s now clear that he’s making this switch in style. Iron Galaxy Studios has confirmed that Boyes will become its CEO as of August 8th. That’s right — one of the PlayStation world’s best-known figures is now working for a developer whose best-known work involves the Microsoft-exclusive Killer Instinct reboot. It also created Wreckateer, an early showcase for Kinect, and played a big role in producing the hilariously simple fighting game Divekick.
As to why Boyes is coming aboard? Iron Galaxy founder Dave Lang says it’s all about helping the company spread its wings. Boyes can “expand and evolve” the studio’s publishing work, freeing Lang and new Chief Product Officer Chelsea Blasko (an Iron Galaxy veteran) to focus on in-house game creation. You might just see the company become a bigger player in the game business.
Source: Iron Galaxy Studios (PDF)
PlayStation Vue just became much more enticing if you’re a fan of American football. Sony has announced that both NFL Network and NFL RedZone will be available by the time the regular NFL season kicks off this fall. It’s not clear what packages will include the channels, but you will get typical Vue features (such as a cloud DVR and simultaneous streams) and access through the NFL’s dedicated apps and websites. Combined with ESPN and other sports coverage on Vue, you may not have much reason to hold on to a conventional TV subscription if you’re all about the gridiron.
Source: PlayStation Blog
It was originally thought to be a rumor: a games console that combined Sony and Nintendo hardware. Now Ben Heck proves it does exist. Thanks to Terry and Dan Diebold, who approached The Ben Heck Show team with the console, Ben was able to give you an exclusive teardown of the elusive Super Nintendo / Famicom and Sony PlayStation hybrid console. While taking apart the device, called the SFX-100, Ben guides us through the post-production alterations made to fix the prototype and gives us a tour of all the components on the board, including a custom audio chip and standard Sony integrated circuits. We also compare the system to similar consoles at the time, such as the PC Engine / TurboGRAFX-16 and the Sega MegaCD. The real question is, can we get it working? Let us know what you think of the teardown over at the element14 Community, where you can also interact with The Ben Heck Show team and learn more about Nintendo and Sony’s history.
When we got our hands on the legendary “Nintendo PlayStation” prototype last November, the device worked fine as a Sony-branded SNES console sans audio, whereas its CD drive — the part that eventually led to the birth of the PlayStation — failed to be recognized by the system. The device has since been handed over to hacking maestro Ben Heck, who has just revealed that he finally got the CD drive to power up. First of all, Ben cleaned the contact pins on the Super Disc driver cartridge to get its 256KB of extension RAM talking to the console, then he removed one of the mod wires on the logic board, which got the CD drive to make a ticking noise and even pulling its tray back in.
It was a nice “wow” moment for everyone, but the ticking noise suggested that the CD drive was struggling to move its optical head, plus the screen was flickering. Ben figured this was to do with a power glitch caused by three leaky electrolytic capacitors on the logic board, so he replaced those with modern ones, and boom! The CD drive is alive! The diagnostic software gave all the green ticks, and the CD player’s control panel appears to be working. As a bonus, the audio function has also been restored since that’s part of the CD drive’s decoder, so we can now fully enjoy SNES games on this super rare device as well.
What’s left to do now is to find some compatible disc games and see if they’ll run on the Nintendo PlayStation — prototype owner Terry Diebold believes he may have one in the boxes he bought from that fateful auction. We also came across a homebrew game called Super Boss Gaiden based on the Super Disc cartridge’s software dump, so here’s hoping they can get that to work on the device.
Source: The Ben Heck Show (YouTube)
While Sonic fans will celebrate the series’ 25th anniversary with a 2D throwback game in Sonic Mania, the official Sonic Team is working on something new. Tonight Sega dropped this teaser trailer for “Project Sonic,” which is due for the 2017 holiday season on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo’s NX. Everything in the trailer is CG, but it does indicate that we can expect both a “Modern” and “Classic” Sonic to make an appearance.
Source: Sonic the Hedgehog (YouTube)
In case you haven’t noticed, Overwatch is really, really popular. Popular enough to support millions of active players, host high-stakes professional competitive gaming drama and even inspire a graphic novel adaptation. All this, and the game’s barely three months old. Still not convinced? Okay, we’ve got one more thing: Overwatch sold better than any other game in June — and according to NPD Group, it won that top spot with a handicap.
Having a new game from a major publisher take the top spot in NPD Group’s sales report is nothing new — but this month’s sales data is sort of unique. June marks the first time the company has been able to include digital sales numbers. The twist? Overwatch’s digital PC sales aren’t part of the total.
Confused? Don’t be. Traditionally, NPD Goup only publishes numbers tracking physical game sales, but recently it struck a deal with a handful of publishers to self-report digital sales data. Unfortunately, this means the group can only publish digital sales numbers from companies that offer them willingly, and neither Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo are willing to share that data with the public. This means that titles like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Doom appear on NPD reports with an asterisk — “No digital sales included in ranking.”
Activision Blizzard, Overwatch’s publisher, actually does report console’s sales to NPD Group — but for some reason, its PC Battle.net sales weren’t included in this month’s report. It made the top spot anyway, beating out Grand Theft Auto V, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and more. That’s impressive! Still, it would be more impressive if the chart reflected the full digital sales for every game on every platform. We won’t really know who’s winning the so-called “console wars” until the industry opens up and makes that data available.
No matter how big your TV might be, a movie theater screen will likely always be bigger. But with PlayStation VR you can simulate up to a 226-inch display using the headset’s Cinematic Mode. Cinematic Mode, of course, is the feature that’ll allow you to play traditional PlayStation 4 games without taking the helmet off. It’s a bit like the virtual desktop apps we’ve seen with Oculus and Vive. A post on the Japanese PlayStation Blog outlines how it all works.
There are a trio of (simulated) viewing sizes: 117 inches, 163 inches and 226 inches. The translated post says that the default 163-inch size will encompass your entire field of view, while the gargantuan one will require you to move your head from side to side if you want to see everything at once. So, kind of like sitting in the front row of a movie theater. At the other end of the spectrum, the smallest size reorients the screen to your head movement. If you get tired while wearing the PSVR you can apparently lay down while wearing it and the display will match your horizontal perspective.
As UploadVR points out, however, there is a caveat to all this that might keep you from using the headset for any sort of critical movie viewing. That’d be the “screen-door effect” — seeing the gaps between a display’s pixels — inherent with current VR tech. However, if there isn’t a free TV in the house, this could sub in as a pinch-hitter display.
There’s no word of an actual movie theater setting like what’s available for movie watching apps on other VR platforms, but hopefully one of those will happen too. And if that doesn’t happen and you’re looking for a more immersive experience, well, hey, you can always use the helmet to check out 360-degree photos and videos.
Source: PlayStation Blog (Japanese)