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Sony: PSN currently offline, no word on when it will return [update: it's back]

In a brief statement posted to its official support page, Sony notes that the PlayStation Network is currently down.

"PSN is currently offline, and we are hard at work to resume service," the message reads. "At this time an estimate as to when PSN will be online is unavailable; however, we will update this article as soon as there's additional information." Those affected by the outage are urged to follow the @PlayStation Twitter account for updates on when service has resumed.

Anecdotally, reports we've received suggest that the PSN Store is available to some players, while connecting to an online match results in a server error. Internal testing reveals that Joystiq staffers are unable to connect to Destiny's multiplayer Crucible mode.

Update: As commenter Mule points out, Sony's Twitter suggestion isn't quite accurate. For updates on the status of PSN, follow @AskPlayStation. The @PlayStation account may let you know once the service is back up, but for now is just angry PlayStation owners complaining en masse.

Update 2: PSN is once again online.
[Image: Sony]

PlayStation TV launches stateside with last-minute compatibility changes


The PlayStation TV launches today in North America boasting compatibility with a large number of PSP, PS Vita, and PS minis games, but users at NeoGAF point out that a last-minute compatibility update renders several major titles unplayable on Sony's new hardware.

Just prior to the system's stateside launch, Sony updated its PlayStation TV compatibility list, removing entries for notable PSP games like Twisted Metal: Head-On, Valkyria Chronicles 2, and WipeOut Pure. Several Konami-published PSone games are also no longer compatible with the PlayStation TV, including Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and Suikoden.

The lack of omitted games that begin with the letters A through L suggests that Sony may be sorting out cross-platform rights issues alphabetically. While SNK-published PS minis games like Time Soldiers and Vanguard didn't make the cut, fellow SNK Arcade Classics 0 ports like Athena and Guerrilla War remain listed, hinting that further compatibility updates may be in store.

Positioned as a non-portable alternative to Sony's PS Vita system, the PlayStation TV plugs into any HDMI-equipped television and plays games and movies downloaded from the PlayStation Network. The system is available today as a $99.99 standalone package and bundled with a DualShock 3 controller and memory card for $139.99.

[Video: Sony]

Vib-Ribbon launching in North America via PSN tomorrow

At last, Vibri is free. Sony announced today that PaRappa the Rapper creator Masaya Matsuura's vector-graphics rhythm game Vib-Ribbon will hit the PlayStation Network tomorrow, marking its long-awaited North American debut.

Released for the original PlayStation in 1999, Vib-Ribbon puts players in control of Vibri, a bizarre rabbit-like creature who must vault on-screen obstacles in time to a backing music track. In a novel twist at the time, Vib-Ribbon allowed players to insert their own music CDs and create playable levels based on individual tracks, often upping the game's challenge far beyond the difficulty of its default soundtrack.

Though Vib-Ribbon was released in Japan and Europe, a North American version never surfaced. This week's PSN release will be the first time Vib-Ribbon is officially available in the United States, and Sony notes that its CD-scanning feature will arrive on the PlayStation 3 fully intact.

[Image: Sony / NanaOn-sha]

Spend $100 on PSN in October, get $15 back

Sony's latest promotion is dishing cash back to those that buy goods on PSN this month. As of October 1, players that spend at least $100 using their Sony Entertainment Network wallets will receive $15 in credit. The credit will be delivered to those taking advantage of the offer "on or before November 7" via email or PS4, PS3 or Vita system notification in redemption code form.

The promotion runs through Tuesday, October 28. Players will have until December 5 to redeem their $15 credit codes. Now the question is: What ever shall you spend that $100 on? PS4 players may consider the recently-launched and excellent Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, or may choose to pre-order Alien: Isolation via PSN. Or you could just blow it all on repeated rentals of Hocus Pocus. Your call.
[Image: Sony]

Strider 2, original arcade Strider team up on PSN next week

Capcom's over-the-top arcade side-scroller Strider 2 will launch for the PlayStation Network next week as a PSone Classic, the publisher confirmed yesterday.

Released in arcades in 1999, Strider 2 chronicles the unlikely acrobatic adventures of its ninja star Strider Hiryu, who scales gigantic structures and battles robotic creatures within a futuristic cityscape. The latest series entry, Strider, premiered earlier this year as a downloadable console and PC release. Hiryu also appears in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, most recently returning in 2011's Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

The PSone version of Strider 2 includes a port of 1989's Strider arcade game, which will be bundled with next week's downloadable PSN release. Strider 2 will be available for the PlayStation 3, PSP, and PS Vita on October 7.

[Image: Capcom]

PlayStation TV explained in one family-friendly video

Image PlayStation TV isn't an actual television, in case anyone was still wondering. It's a teeny tiny console that plays Vita, PSP and PSOne games, and streams PS3 and PS4 games. Sony recently revealed that PlayStation TV would play "nearly 700" Vita games, to be precise. [Image: Sony]... Continue Reading

Capcom slashes prices on PSN, from Okami to Street Fighter

Capcom fans with access to the PlayStation Network have good reason to be excited, as the publisher has unleashed a deluge of discounts on games ranging from classic 2D fighters to modern survival horror epics.

Highlights of the sale include fan-favorite PlayStation 2 crossover fighter Capcom vs SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001 at $5 and Lost Planet 3 at $13.49. The Resident Evil games are likewise discounted, with Resident Evil 4 HD at $6.80, Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition at $15 and the HD remake of Resident Evil: Revelations at a mere $13.49, among other sizable survival horror discounts. Capcom's discounts on Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max and Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen are especially tempting, as both the classic 2D fighter and the uneven but compelling third-person fantasy adventure can be purchased together for less than $10.

For full details on all of Capcom's newly-announced discounts, visit Capcom Unity. Not only are all of the discounted games listed in an easy to read format, but Capcom also links directly to the Sony Entertainment Network, saving potential customers the hassle of looking up each game individually on their Sony console of choice.
[Image: Capcom]

Report: PSP users in Europe, Asia lose PSN access on September 15

Sony is closing off PlayStation Network access for its PlayStation Portable console in multiple regions starting this week, IGN reports.

A Sony representative told IGN that the shutdown affects PSP owners in Europe, Asia, Oceania, and select regions in Africa. North American PSPs will still be able to access the PlayStation Network while Sony "evaluates market trends" to determine if it should expand its service shutdown plans.

While affected regions will be unable to directly access the PlayStation Network from PSP hardware starting on September 15, Sony notes that users will still be able to buy PSN marketplace content and redownload previous purchases via the Sony Entertainment Network Online Store. Sony halted PSP production in Japan in June, and discontinued North American hardware shipments in January.

[Image: Sony]

New discounts join EU PSN Summer Sale: FIFA 14, Just Cause 2

Sony's European division has rolled out a swath of new discounts now available from the ongoing PlayStation Network Summer Sale including a massive price cut on FIFA 14 and lesser but still impressive discounts on Just Cause 2, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and 1942: Joint Strike.

The aforementioned FIFA 14 discount is the highlight of the sale, as the PlayStation 3 soccer simulation's price has dropped from £59.99 to £19.99. Meanwhile, retro-futuristic shooter Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has gone from £11.99 to £6.49, open-world action adventure Just Cause 2 has been reduced from £10.99 to £3.99 and arcade shoot 'em up 1942: Joint Strike now bears a £1.69 price in lieu of its previous £7.99 tag. With the exception of FIFA 14, each of these games also receives an additional 10 percent discount for anyone with a valid PlayStation Plus subscription.

Though no PlayStation 4 games are included in this swath of new bargains, there are a massive number of discounts available for the PlayStation 3, Vita and PSP handhelds. Pay a visit to the European PlayStation.blog for a full rundown and regional pricing details.

Library of Congress discovers unreleased Duke Nukem game, chews bubblegum

Hail to the king of unlikely archival discoveries, baby. David Gibson, a moving image technician with the Library of Congress, stumbled upon a diamond in the rough while scouring through hundreds of games and game-related media artifacts submitted to the library by game publishers: a complete, playable, but never-released game. Duke Nukem: Critical Mass for PSP, a wholly different game than a version released on Nintendo DS in 2011, was discovered on an innocuous DVD-R.

Far from a piece of random archival material, Gibson found the actual source disc that would have been used for writing the game onto UMDs, the ill-fated proprietary media Sony used for retail PSP games. This led to further complications, though, as he had to find ways to access information locked inside of Sony's proprietary files. While Gibson hasn't found way to make the game fully playable at this point, he was able to access game code and view 3D models for not just the series' iconic Pig Cops but also Duke himself. Duke riding a jetpack, no less.

Gibson's complete report on the discovery is fascinating as both a document of a lost piece of lore in one of gaming's most infamous series, but also as a view inside the challenge of archiving gaming's history. Even with the discovery of the game, sharing the data hidden on that DVD-R remains a challenge due to the proprietary files within.
[Images: 3D Realms]

Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky lands on Steam, out today


If you're unfamiliar with Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, that may be because Nihon Falcom's acclaimed PSP JRPG only headed West towards the end of the system's life cycle. The good news is there's now a new way of playing it, with the trilogy's first chapter coming to Steam later today, courtesy of XSEED.

XSEED is also bringing follow-up Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter to North America on PSP and Steam, but that's gonna take a bit more time to arrive. According to the publisher, the best fans should hope for is "the end of the year."

As for Trails in the Sky, its regular Steam price is $20 but there's a 15 percent first-week sale if you fancy dipping in early. For more on why it's worth a look, read this.

[Thanks, Jason K!]

Court approves settlement over Sony's 2011 PSN breach

The US District Court for the Southern District of California approved a settlement for the class action lawsuit resulting from Sony's 2011 PSN data breach. The settlement may result in Sony doling out as much as $17.75 million, which includes an offer for one free game (PS3 or PSP only), three PS3 themes or credit for three months of PlayStation Plus membership (valid only for new subscribers).

The claimant groups are divided based on whether PSN account holders prior to May 15, 2011 took advantage of the "Welcome Back" program following the intrusion. Those that did not accept the PSN Welcome Back offer can claim two of the benefit options among the games, themes and PS Plus membership credit on a first come, first served basis until a $6 million allocation from Sony is reached. For those that did take advantage of the program, they will receive one of the benefits above until a $4 million allocation is reached.

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Square Enix squashes Final Fantasy Type-0 fan translation

Publisher Square Enix has issued a cease and desist order to a romhacker calling his or herself "Sky," effectively ending work on an English-language patch for the PSP's Japan-exclusive Final Fantasy Type-0.

"Unfortunately I'm forced to remove my posts and pages related to the popular Final Fantasy Type-0 fan translation project," Sky wrote in a recent blog update. "That's right, certain game company thinks that threats and false accusations are the way to treat its biggest fans."

Despite Sky's outrage, this move should come as no surprise. Square Enix recently revealed plans to launch Final Fantasy Type-0 in the West on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A free patch for a PSP game solely available to importers and software pirates would hinder sales of the new-generation game, which will undoubtedly be a more lucrative release for the publisher than its original incarnation.
[Image: Square Enix]

Watch Dogs bites back at Sniper Elite 3 in this week's UK charts

Watch Dogs wins the latest round of musical chairs in this week's UK charts, ending Sniper Elite 3's two-week tenure at No. 1. The open-world gruff man sim makes it four weeks in total at the top, and Ubisoft says it's shipped 8 million copies since the game's May launch.

With not one new release in the top 40, there's barely any significant change in this week's top 10 outside of Tomodachi Life and Battlefield 4 sneaking back in.

Since it's so quiet, we're continuing where we left off in the last charts round-up and posting some super-awesome music below the break, in the spirit of kicking the week off the right way. This week, we're commemorating Germany's triumph in the World Cup Final with the country's brightest young pop sensation.

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PSN Tuesday: Valiant Hearts, BlazBlue, Farming Simulator

The PlayStation Store is packed with pre-orders and releases this week, headlined by the launch of Valiant Hearts: The Great War on PS4 and PS3, and BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma and Farming Simulator 14 on Vita.

Sniper Elite 3 is up for pre-order on PS4, while Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn is available for pre-order on PS3. Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is out now for PS3 and PS4, while Vita gets Atelier Rorona Plus with 3 DLCs, XBlaze Code: Embryo, Z-Run and End of Serenity. That last one is also out for PSP today.

We can't speak for all of these games, but Valiant Hearts is truly a breathtaking and brilliant game about the people and heroes of war.
[Image: Ubisoft]

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