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Vita gets a personal touch with themes in new software update

Sony will soon allow players to give their Vita handhelds a personal touch, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia President Atsushi Morita announced during the company's Pre-Tokyo Game Show briefing.

A new software update for the system will add customizable themes to the handheld, allowing for customization of wallpaper, icons and sounds on the system's dashboard. The announcement only featured themes of popular Japanese video game franchises, so it's unclear if players can use any images and sounds for the customization options.

A translated tweet from PlayStation Japan appears to point to an October release date for update 3.30, which features themes.
[Image: Sony]

Light pink/white PS Vita announced for Japan

Sony announced a new pink PlayStation Vita system during its SCEJA Press Conference today. The back of the system is light pink and the front-facing part is white. Sony will launch the pretty new Vita on November 13 in Japan. It will cost players 18,980 yen (roughly $182.20).

Watch Sony's pre-TGS press conference right here

As the sun begins to set on PAX Prime in the West, it's also beginning to rise on the Tokyo Game Show in the East. While Japan's most major of games conventions doesn't begin for another two weeks yet, one of its most important precursors is under an hour away: Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia's 2014 press conference.

Last year's conference didn't disappoint in terms of big announcements, including the unveiling of the Vita 2000 and Vita TV, and the PS4 release date for Japan. Then again, 2013 was such an important one for Sony with the PS4 launch, so what are the chances we'll see an encore this year? Well, you can find out firsthand by joining us to watch the show.

You'll find the livestream below the break of this post, and the conference is scheduled to begin at 2AM ET (7AM UK, 11PM PT August 31.) As ever, we'll endeavor to bring you all the news on the site as soon as we can.

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Home dev's oddly romantic sci-fi adventure, Alone With You

Alone With You is a sci-fi exploration and adventure game that throws off creepy and romantic vibes in equal measure. Coming from Benjamin Rivers, the creator of horror game Home, this sounds just about right. Alone With You is due out in 2015 for PS4 and Vita.

You're the last living member of a terraforming party on a planet that's due to implode in a month's time. The escape pod is broken, it's the only one left, and everyone who would know how to fix it is dead. The colony's AI is still on, and with its help, you recreate the missing party members to fix the pod and get the heck out of Dodge.

"As for the romance?" Rivers writes on the PlayStation Blog. "Well, let's just say that recreating your former colleagues might not be as straightforward as you imagine; they may be interested in more than just technical details. No matter who you are, you'll be able to take a crack at love – and your choices will affect how the story ultimately plays out."
[Image: Benjamin Rivers]

Nidhogg takes the duel on the road in upcoming Vita version

Developer Messhof has announced that its cult-hit, minimalist fighting game Nidhogg will soon coat Sony's Vita handheld in a thick layer of pixelated blood.

Nidhogg drops players into a high-speed duel between two sword-wielding fighters rendered in simplistic pixels. Despite its humble appearance, the game boasts tight controls, acrobatic moves and intuitive physics, which make combat a frenetic, tense experience. The combat mechanics are easy to learn, but difficult to master, and they're perfect for multiplayer combat, especially with a large group taking turns murdering the pixelated duelists. Happily, the Vita version of Nidhogg allows for both local and online multiplayer combat.

While there's currently no word on when we can expect Nidhogg to reach the Vita, Messhof notes that the handheld game is being developed in conjunction with its PlayStation 4 counterpart. The two versions of Nidhogg should be released simultaneously and both feature Cross-Buy compatibility for those with a surplus of Sony's gaming devices.
[Image: Messhof]

Ska Studios shifts to Sony after 6 years on Xbox

Ska Studios has been around for seven years, and during six of those it's had a close relationship with Microsoft. All of its games, from The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai to Charlie Murder, have launched on Xbox 360 or Windows Phone only. Dead Samurai won the Dream Build Play competition in 2007, serving as a catalyst for Ska's tight partnership with Microsoft.

"I've said it before: XBLA literally made all of my dreams come true," Ska founder James Silva said in 2012.

And now for the twist: Ska's first next-gen game, Salt and Sanctuary, will launch exclusively on Sony's PS4 and Vita. James and Michelle Silva, Ska's artist and community manager, made the announcement today.

"There were a bunch of factors that led to us deciding to publish Salt and Sanctuary with Sony, but it really came down to an overwhelming amount of enthusiasm from them," James told Joystiq in an email. "They loved Salt and Sanctuary, they loved our previous work, and maybe most importantly, they offered us Pub Fund support; after a bit of talking it became apparent that working together just made an insane amount of sense to us as both a business decision and a creative decision."

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Ska Studios debuts on PS4, Vita with Salt and Sanctuary



Salt and Sanctuary has Ska Studios' signature hand-drawn, gothic metal vibe, with mechanics reminiscent of its previous games, Charlie Murder and The Dishwasher series. Salt and Sanctuary is a 2D, sidescrolling, action RPG with brutal bosses in a dark, purgatorial world.

You're a sailor shipwrecked on this war-torn land, and you must fight harrowing enemies in between your time in the sanctuaries, pockets of protection where all of the island's travelers get rest and trade stories.

For the first time in Ska Studios' history, this game is exclusive to PS4 and Vita. Ska Studios traditionally works with Microsoft, launching all of their previous games exclusively on Xbox 360 and Windows Phone.

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Vita rides into the Joe Danger zone next week

Side-scrolling stuntman Joe Danger debuts on Vita as a freebie for PS Plus subscribers, and he's due to land on September 2/3 in North America and Europe. The handheld port of the Hello Games' PS3 puzzler-trickster includes all the original's levels, plus ghost replays and the Laboratory dev challenges from other versions. It also has "slightly tweaked" controls including a touch interface for level creation, all of which sounds sensible to us. There's no word yet on a price for Plus non-members - the PS3 version is priced $15.

Joe Danger's mix of Trials-like puzzling and ridiculous stunts caught the eye back in 2010, as did Joe Danger 2: The Movie with its near-Joystiq levels of punny titles for levels. On that note, Hello Games says the follow-up is still on its way to Vita, and the No Man's Sky studio expects to have more news on that "soon-ish."
[Image: Sony Computer Entertainment]

Postponed PSN maintenance rescheduled for today

The past few days saw the PlayStation Network undergo more downtime than a bear in winter, so Sony postponed Monday's regular maintenance 'til later in the week. That later is today, and between 12:40PM and 7:50PM ET (9:40AM and 4:50PM PT) PlayStation users won't be able to access the Store, Home or Account Management. As long as you've signed in at any point since August 23, you'll still be able to play games online and use apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus and so on.

It's always frustrating when you can't access stuff, but in the words of Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." In other words, perhaps use the downtimes to dine at a fancy restaurant, take the stage at a parade, and find epiphanies in the destruction of your father's rare Ferrari.

Just to be clear, we're not telling you to ruin your dad's Ferrari. Or any car. Look, this Ferris Bueller reference has gotten away from us, and we'd like to bail out right now.
[Image: Paramount Pictures]

PlayStation All-Stars, Sportsfriends free on PS Plus next month


Sony revealed next month's PlayStation Plus lineup, announcing that subscribers will get free access to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sportsfriends, Velocity 2X, and other featured games throughout the month of September.

Starting September 2, PlayStation 4 owners can download Futurlab's hybrid shooter-platformer Velocity 2X and Die Gute Fabrik's competitive multiplayer party game compilation Sportsfriends free of charge.

PlayStation 3 members receive copies of the Super Smash Bros.-like mascot brawler PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and dragon-riding multiplayer action game Hoard, while PS Vita players can expect to see Hello Games' motorbike stunt sim Joe Danger and Llamasoft's Tempest variant TxK.

[Video: Sony]

Mega Man X4, X5 zero in on PlayStations next month

Two of the PlayStation-era Mega Man X platformers are blasting their way onto PS3 and Vita in the next couple of weeks. The first mighty number to land is X4, which hits PSN in North America on September 2. X5 follows a week later on September 9. Capcom didn't announce prices, but hopefully the games won't cost a pretty zenny.

Mega Man X4 was the first of the series to ditch the SNES and take full advantage of the 32-bit Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Apart from PC versions from around the turn of the millennium and a mobile phone port in Japan, Capcom hasn't put out either game as a standalone on other systems until now (they did appear in the PS2 and GameCube Mega Man X Collection). Does this mean Mega Man X6-8 could be on the way too?

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PSN Tuesday: Infamous First Light, Madden 15, Metro Redux

Sure, the PlayStation Network has been updated with a whole host of new games like the neon fest Infamous: First Light, the Necessary Roughness adaptation Madden NFL 15, and a prettier version of what Moscow would like look after the apocalypse in Metro Redux, but clearly the big hit is a demo for NHL 15.

Full disclosure, I am in fact a Canadian so my opinion on this matter may be colored, but it's worth giving NHL 15 a shot to check out the franchise's new presentation – even if you have concerns about the final game.

Also joining the PSN data center family is both OlliOlli and The Golf Club on PS4, Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth1 on Vita and more. For the cross section of Call of Duty and bargain fans, a variety of games and add-ons in the series are on sale.

For more information on releases and discounts, check out the official PlayStation Blog.

Lego Batman 3 goes Beyond Gotham on November 11

No longer content with striking fear into the hearts of superstitious criminals in the back alleys of his hometown, Batman is branching out to more exotic climes in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

According to publisher Warner Bros. Interactive, the Dark Knight's latest blocky adventure sees our hero battling Superman villain Brainiac to prevent the destruction of Earth. It seems the hyper-intelligent alien has swiped a handful of Lantern rings and is using their power to shrink worlds for his creepy collection of tiny civilizations. Batman must join forces with the "greatest super heroes and the most cunning villains" to travel through the cosmos, collecting Lantern rings and eventually using their Oan might to topple Brainiac's plot.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham will debut on November 11. As with all DC Comics/Lego mashups, the game will appear on myriad platforms, including the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PS3, Vita, Wii U, 3DS and PC.

The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 5 review: Exit wounds

This review covers the latest episode in an ongoing season, and may contain spoilers.
Players of Telltale's The Walking Dead have offered a singular, echoing criticism throughout its first and second seasons: "My choices don't matter." Detractors claim that the story is set in concrete and only the journey changes – and even then just slightly. They decry the game's decision-making mechanics as shallow and containing a falsely advertised level of impact on the narrative.

I've never had a problem with The Walking Dead's subtlety. Regardless of the differences among every person's experience, the game always told a deep, uneasy story packed with drama and action in equal measure. The narrative rode waves of tension, crashing down on important dialogue decisions and cresting up to harried firefights and split-second amputations.

In the final episode of Season 2, "No Going Back," the detractors win. In this episode, your choices matter in the deepest way – altering how the story ends. Unfortunately, this means that the balanced narrative loses in a spectacular and surprising fashion.

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PSA: PSN gets knocked down again [Update: Back online]

The PlayStation Network servers are currently out of commission for the second time in as many days. Sony posted a notice to its official Twitter account that its engineers are "aware of connectivity issues" and "are working to resolve" them.

PSN suffered an outage for the majority of Sunday thanks to an apparent DDoS attack (distributed denial of service). Sony noted that no personal information was accessed in the attack. b=Both PSN and Sony Entertainment Network were "impacted by an attempt to overwhelm our network with artificially high traffic," though it's unclear if that's also causing today's issues. We'll update this post when PSN is up and running again.

Update: Sony said that "network connectivity is being restored," and thanks players for their patience.
[Image: Sony]

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