Digital Blend: The PS Vita launches (again) and Call of Duty brings in Overwatch

Welcome back to Digital Blend, our weekly look at the world of downloadable video gaming that exists at the fringes of the mainstream. That means we look at the hottest new mobile game releases, downloadable content drops on consoles and PCs, indie darlings that deserve your love and attention, and the best values in under-$20 gaming.

Keep your comments and feedback coming. We want to hear from you! Did you try something you read about here and enjoy it? Is there a particular game you think we’ve overlooked, or news you want to share? Any questions you are dying to ask? Let us know! Your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and (constructive!) criticism are welcome, either in the comments section below or directed at yours truly on Twitter, @geminibros.

Making headlings…

  • Sony’s PlayStation Vita launched for real in North America on Wednesday, February 22. First Edition bundle buyers were able to nab the new portable for themselves last week, but now anyone in North America can spend the base price of $249.99 on a wi-fi model (or $299.99 on a 3G/wi-fi), instead of tacking on an extra $100 for all of that other stuff. Of course, you’ll probably want to start off with at least one game and a memory card. If you’re still on the fence about the Vita, maybe Ryan’s review will convince you. Our launch title review library continues to grow as well, as you can see here.
  • We learned last week that Rovio was prepping the March 22 release of Angry Birds Space in association with NASA and National Geographic. This week brings the first trailer for the game, a cute little tease that show zero gameplay but promises a bigger announcement on March 8.
  • EA pulled the free iOS game Battlefield 3: Aftershock from the App Store in response to negative user feedback. The game is now being re-evaluated based on that feedback, presumably for a re-release further down the road, according to a statement given to IGN.
  • Dear Esther writer Dan Pinchbeck will be teaming with Frictional Games for the sequel to Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The upcoming game, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, is said to be set in the same universe as its predecessor, opening on New Year’s Day in 1899. Get the rest of the details from Joystiq‘s interview.
  • Two upcoming downloadable games just got their release dates this week. Sine Mora, the gorgeous Grasshopper Manufacture-developer shmup, will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade on March 21. One week earlier, Demiurge Studios will release its side-scrolling action game, the awesomely titled Shoot Many Robots, on March 13 and 14 for PSN and XBLA, respectively.

Top buys for the week

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare :: Xbox Live Arcade :: 1200 MS Points
Remedy is still keeping quiet about any plans for a proper Alan Wake sequel, but Microsoft’s annual House Party 2012 promotion brings the next best thing this week in Alan Wake’s American Nightmare. With a roughly five-hour campaign and a completely separate, action-focused arcade survival mode, there’s a lot of game here for your 1200 MS Points. You can read all about it in my review.

Escape Plan :: PlayStation Vita / PS Store :: $14.99
This PS Store-exclusive release from Fun Bits Interactive, the creators of Fat Princess, is one of the absolute must-own launch titles for Sony’s PS Vita. It’s a black & white puzzle adventure starring the adorable duo of Lil and Laarg. You use the Vita’s touch and motion controls extensively as you swipe, tap, tilt and shake your way through a series of obstacles, all of it backed by a killer soundtrack. Check out my review for more details.

WrestleFest :: iPad / iPhone :: $3.99 / $2.99
It’s got WWE branding now, but the new iOS release of WrestleFest is a port of the age-old coin-op arcade game. The roster’s been trimmed down a bit for the portable release and updated to include some more current wrestlers, but the game play is just what it always was. You’ve got multiple modes to choose from, including the fan favorite Royal Rumble. This isn’t a universal app, so make sure before you buy it that you’re getting the right version.

Midway Arcade :: iOS :: $0.99
I’ll make this really simple. For $0.99 you get a collection of classic Midway arcade games, including Rampage, Joust and Spy Hunter. And that’s not all! There are also a pair of expansion packs priced at $0.99 apiece: the Fantasy Game Pack includes Gauntlet, Gauntlet II, and Wizard of War and the Action Game Pack includes APB, NARC and Spy Hunter. This one right here is my personal top pick of the week.

Beat Hazard Ultra :: iOS :: $0.99
The abundance of cheap-o iOS games this week doesn’t end with arcade classics. Beat Hazard Ultra is a rhythm-based action shooter that uses your own iTunes library. It’s got some lovely visuals and fun twin stick shooter gameplay, one of the rare virtual analog stick styles that actually works on a touch screen.

Keep an eye peeled next week for more news, including the next stage of the Xbox Live House Party, and much more.  

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