XSEED GamesDeveloped By:
Everyone 10+ (Mild Language, Fantasy Violence)
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Matthew PruntyMarch 28, 2012
Ė Being only a little over a month old in North America and Europe, the PlayStation Vita has captivated people through the multitude of gaming options the mighty handheld has built in. With games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss
and Simple Plan showcasing what the handheld is fully capable of and with a software lineup upon launch to rival the best of gaming devices, itís hard to argue that Sony doesnít have a success story in the Vita. As Sony and fellow third-party developers and publishers spend more time with the handheld, more creative efforts are taking root; one of which is Sumioni: Demon Arts, an artistic platformer that utilizes both the front touchscreen and the rear touchpad in unique way.
In Sumioni: Demon Arts, you are in control of an inkdemon known as Agura, who is tasked with saving all of Japan. The structure of Demon Arts is pretty straight forward. You move through various levels fighting enemies through standard fare attacks and utilizing the touchscreen in order to create platforms to avoid attacking enemies and pending death trapsÖ a la Kirby: Canvas Curse
. Every platform you draw via the touchscreen, you consume part of your ink meter, which can be replenished via rubbing the back touchpad while your character isnít moving or collecting various items dropped by defeated enemies.
The controls within Demon Arts are somewhat customizable, which is very helpful when playing this title. You have the option to control Aguraís movements via the analog stick or the D-pad. You can also set a dedicated button for both your attacks and jumping abilities. There is even an option if you on want to only use one button for your standard attack and the up direction on either the D-pad or the analog stick for jumping. Either route you go, when actually playing the game, you will find yourself spamming the one attack button you have. When the action seems overwhelming, you can summon a beast using your ink magic buy holding the left shoulder button and tapping either the cyan or magenta icons in the lower left-hand and right-hand corners of the screen. After selection which beast you want to summon, you will be required to draw out a symbol that is outlined for you on the screen in order to summon the beast. While the common enemy wonít really pose a threat, when you get to the boss battles and tower battles, you will find yourself needing a little extra fire power.
The visual presentation that developer Acquire chose for Sumioni: Demon Arts is a perfect fit. A mixture between water-colors (Valkyria Chronicles
) and paint brush strokes makes a unique visual experience thatís very defining of the title. The special effects utilized from summoning fire or your ink magic beasts stand out from the onscreen action. It also helps that Sonyís handheld did away with the TFT-LCD screen of the PSP for the beautiful looking OLED screen within the Vita. In regards to the sound, there isnít any spoken dialog. The story is delivered via scrolling onscreen text which helps to give some understanding as to why you are fighting. The music is ok, nothing really epic, but doesnít suit the onscreen action.
There are a total of 30 stages and six possible endings within Sumioni: Demon Arts. This is great in that there are various ways to go about beating the game; however how you have to go about executing said endings is a bit troublesome. The 30 stages are broken up into paths, which are highlighted before the beginning of the next stage. If you want to head down a specific path on the map, you are tasked with completing the previous level and earning three stars. At the end of each completed stage, you will be greeted with a screen asking you if you want to save your game progress. I was rather surprised to see this screen considering practically 99% of games on todayís consoles and handhelds utilize autosaves with the option for manual saves if you are in the middle of a level or mission. However, considering that there are several branching paths if you want to see all six endings, having the game prompt you save after level is a nice idea. This will allow you to create different save files for the various paths. A level selection option being made available upon completing the game for the first time would have been a welcome addition for the title.
Sumioni: Demon Arts is a beautiful looking game which can be enjoyed in short burst when you donít have much time on your hands. If you didnít look at creating various save files in order to see all six endings, you will find yourself playing through the game from the beginning several times, which will get very repetitive and tiresome. With a starting price point of $19.99 ($20), the likelihood of someone picking up this title for something a bit different is greater. Minor qualms like an archaic save system and the lack of a level selection option shouldnít stop you from experiencing this title.7.5/
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