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And the rest... VS. Racing 2, Machinarium Vita, Kairosoft sales
The best of the rest of the news
Product: And the rest|Publisher: Steel Media Ltd
by Mark Brown
Riptide GP developer Vector Unit has a new Android game, Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies has shed its Xperia exclusivity skin, Dark Nebula - Episode Two is coming to Android, and Crytek's Fibble is heading to the Kindle Fire HD.
The Pocket Gamer crew has been getting its grubby mitts all over new games and hardware, too, mind.
Jonathan has fiddled around with Sony's new Xperia Tablet S, and James Gilmour got a little bit excited when he played Rayman Jungle Run.
Not every morsel of mobile gaming news deserved its own PG article, though. Instead, they've found a home here. Among the best of the rest...
China Wireless Arts has released a frantic twin-stick blaster called Armed Beasts. Our managing director, Chris James, saw it while over in China and told us it was "pretty cool". High praise indeed.
Tiny Bang Story - a gorgeous mix of hidden object game and puzzler - is no longer exclusive to Xperia devices. Anyone with an Android device can now download this scrumptious little slice of puzzle heaven.
Top-down racer VS. Racing is back for more in the shape of a huge sequel. Alongside a bumper campaign, VS. Racing 2 has got a fleet of multiplayer modes, including online races and asynchronous time trials. It will set you back 69p / 99c on iOS.
In collaboration with Zynga, Ultima designer Richard Garriott has launched a Facebook game. It's called Ultimate Collector, and it's about selling all your old junk at garage sales. First impressions: not good. Hopefully, Ultimate RPG / New Britannia (working title) will restore our faith in Lord British.
Full Fat has launched "the number one kicking game on mobile", apparently. In NFL Kicker 13, you boot balls for one of 32 official NFL teams. 69p / 99c to you, sir.
Goroid has added a new campaign to its post-apocalyptic endless-runner TheEndApp. It's called London Apocalympics, and it features a British Bobby as one of three new playable characters. A bit late off the mark, guys - get it here.
On the horizon
Machinarium creator Jakub Dvorsky has told Pocket Gamer that a Vita version of his charming Czech point-and-clicker is "in the works", though it hasn't actually been confirmed for release yet. Keep crossing those fingers.
CIRCLE Entertainment is set to launch a hex-based RPG called 18th Gate on DSiWare. Yes, we didn't know people were still making DSiWare games, either. It's approved for release in the US, and is going through the final stages of checks in Europe.
There's another one! Retro Pocket is inspired by Nintendo's super-retro Game & Watch handhelds, and comes with eight mini-games. It'll cost 500 DSi Points, and will be out on September 20th in North America.
US retailer GameStop has slapped a price tag on the upcoming Android-powered WikiPad portable. When this Tegra 3-powered gaming tablet goes on sale on October 31st, it will cost $499. It's available for pre-order starting today.
According to Reuters's sources at European telecoms operators, Nokia's new Lumia 920 will hit store shelves in Europe this November. More than a month after the iPhone 5 goes on sale, presumably.
Pay what you want for a bunch of iOS game soundtracks. This music bundle includes the dirty Chipzel tunes of Super Hexagon, the orchestral loveliness of Horn, and PuzzleJuice's ambient electronica.
To celebrate 25 years of madcap point-and-click antics, all five episodes of Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space are available for 69p / 99c apiece. They are Ice Station Santa, Moai Better Blues, Night of the Raving Dead, Chariots of the Dogs, and What's New Beelzebub?
Two of Kairosoft's hazardously addictive simulations have gone on sale on iOS. You can now pick up both Dungeon Village and Pocket League Story for £1.49 / $1.99 a pop. They come highly recommended, but don't blame us if you waste the entire weekend playing them.
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Product: Machinarium|Developer: Amanita Design|Format: PS Vita |Genre: Adventure, Puzzle |Players: 1 |Networking: wireless (network) |File size: 333MB |Version: US
by Peter Willington
But on the latest generation of touchscreen-sporting portables they seem to be slowly building a respectable library of point-and-click titles.
Not only is Machinarium a damn good adventure to begin with, but it's also a superb example of how to port a point-and-click game to Vita, using every trick in the book to provide a near-flawless transition.
Do the robot
We'll kick off with the game itself. Machinarium is ace: it's a traditional adventure set in a grimy, oil-smeared world of rust and tin, set against an ambient and almost ghostly soundtrack. There's no language in the game, and no voice acting. Like Escape Plan, it says everything it needs to visually.
You're a robot that has been dumped outside the city walls, and must make your way back in to save your robotic girlfriend, solving devious puzzles and thwarting some evil bullies along the way. It's a simple story, told in a not so simple way - you enter in medias res and piece together the bits you missed along the way.
The inhabitants of the city are an odd bunch: all robotic, but displaying very human characteristics ranging from nervousness and addiction to compassion and despair.
Starting out tough, and never relenting too much from then on, many of the puzzles act as significant barriers to progress, even with the walkthrough that you can refer to at any time. There's a hint system, if you just need a poke in the right direction, but it's nevertheless a slow-moving experience.
To make things slightly harder, you also can't see whether items and scenery elements are useful to you until you get close to them. But if you're an adventure game fan, the gameplay is otherwise very much the standard formula, albeit without dialogue.
What impressed me most about Machinarium is the quality of the port. Having already finished the game on PC, I thought I wouldn't be able to easily adapt to the Vita. However, there are whip-smart additions that almost leave you thinking this was designed for the Vita from the ground up.
You can use the left analogue stick to move the cursor, with a tap of the Cross button interacting with the element you highlight. The right stick adjusts your robot's height (so that he can reach areas just out of reach), which proves an invaluable addition to the control scheme - as does the ability to tap Square and instantly move to your inventory.
Once you close the inventory, your cursor jumps back to its previous position on the screen, a thin white circle quickly targeting it to provide a visual motif for your eyes to follow, letting you get back to adventuring rather than search the screen for an easily lost cursor.
The cursor will also snap to a point of interest if you're close enough to it. Remember how you'd hunt through pixel after pixel in the older adventure games? That simply doesn't happen in Machinarium.
You needn't use the sticks, though - you can swipe about the screen or rear touchpad to move the cursor, a double-tap serving as the 'action' button. It's not as fast as a mouse, but it's easily comparable to playing on a laptop with a trackpad.
If hunting Trophies is your thing, then you'll be pleased to read that there's support for these in here too, though no Platinum. There's also a wholly pointless internet ranking facility, in which you can compare your completion score with others around the world.
Going into the review for this I expected a strong game at the core, but what surprised me most is how thoughtful this snappy port of a modern classic is. If you're yet to discover the mechanical joys of Machinarium, this is your chance.
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