Tuesday, 31 May 2011

PSN Store and Quriocity Services Back By Friday?

It has been a long and frustrating few months for owners of Sony's PSP consoles in the wake of the malicious security breach which meant the closure of all major Playstation online services, but Sony are now insisting that full Playstation Network Store and Quriocity services will be restored by the end of the week.

Sony has already provided a special System Update (version 6.39), which means that all existing PSN and Quriocity customers will be forced to update their passwords and confirm their credit card details before being allowed back into the online store and other services.

This is just one of a number of new security measures which has been implemented since the cyber attack, which is thought to have placed 77 million Playstation users' personal information at risk, and cost Sony almost £105 million in revenue.

Sony also promises that it will be providing a full Welcome Back package to all of its existing users in the near future. The package has now been unveiled and will attempt to offer 'something for everyone', including:
  • A selection of free  movie rentals for all PlayStation Network customers over the course of one weekend.
  • Non-PlayStation Plus subscribers will get a free, 30-day PlayStation Plus membership.
  • Existing PlayStation Plus members will get 30 extra days free.
  • Music Unlimited Premium/Basic subscribers will get free access for 30 days, plus time lost.
  • PlayStation Home will offer 100 virtual items.

Mini Gamers is very pleased to hear that Sony's digital store will soon be open for business, however, the cyber attack and the delay in restoring its services may have caused untold damage to Sony's reputation and any profits that the company  might generate in the future. Only time will tell whether Sony will be able to fully recover from this unforeseen turn of events.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Is Professor Layton and The Specter's Flute Coming To Europe At Last?

*THIS POST HAS SINCE BEEN UPDATED* To read the update, including new trailer info, please click HERE.

Amongst all the excitement about Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle appearing on the 3DS some time later this year, recent questions have emerged surrounding the possible European release of the fourth Professor Layton game - Professor Layton and the Specter's Flute.

Chronologically, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle is actually the fifth Professor Layton game, so it makes little sense that this title would debut in Europe BEFORE the fourth game in the series, prompting many fans to ask why nothing had been mentioned of Professor Layton and the Specter's Flute outside of Japan.

Now, it seems as though there might be a glimmer of hope for die-hard European Professor Layton fans, as the series developers Level 5 inc have recently filed some important paperwork, which requests an American Tradmark for a game called Professor Layton and the Last Spectre.

For those of you who don't know, Professor Layton and the Specter's Flute is the first of three 'prequel' games in the Professor Layton series, which shows how young Luke Triton becomes the Professor's apprentice.

According to gaming website, CVG.com the trademark request is for a Nintendo DS/DSi game only, which seems to answer the question of whether Professor Layton and the Specter's Flute would also make its debut on the 3DS system.

Although there are no specifics for either an American or UK release date at this time, the trademark request definitely shows that a game is at least being considered for the Western gaming market, and is a major breakthough for Professor Layton enthusiasts, who were concerned that the fourth game in the series would never be released in Europe at all.

The subtitled teaser trailer below shows some of the major cutscenes from the fourth game. It is sure to be spectacular and is well worth a look:

Further details of the game are now expected at E3, which will take place in Los Angeles between the 7th and 9th of June 2011. Be sure to check in with the Mini Gamers blogsite for all the news from the annual E3 conference as it happens.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

PSN and Quriocity Services v. 6.39 System Update...Is Sony Back?

Sony have today released a new System Update (version 6.39) to their PSP customers, in light of the devastating hack that is expected to cost the company almost £105.8 million pounds in revenue.

The new update forces existing PSN and Quriocity customers to change their password and re-confirm their credit card details before being allowed  back onto Sony's online services. It is all part of the enhanced security features that Sony had promised its customers, in order to ensure that an attack of this magnitude cannot happen again.

However, despite the fact that the update has now become available to all of Sony's PSP and PS3 customers, the PSN store and Quriocity services remain offline, meaning even more frustration for Playstation customers.

Reliable sources within the gaming community have claimed that all of Sony's online gaming and music services should be restored by the 31st of May 2011 at the latest. Nevertheless, Sony has remained guarded about when the PSN store and Quriocity services will be available again.

So, it looks like PSN and Quriocity users will have to remain patient for at least another week. However, the question is, will customers still feel safe about using the service after all this time, and is Sony's intended 'Welcome Back' Package enough to make up for the weeks of frustration that gamers have been forced to endure?

If you have any comments about the Playstation Network hack, and the delay in restoring the PSN and Quriocity services, then please share them with us via our comments link or via our suggestion box. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Nintendo 3DS News: 3DS eShop and Internet Browser launches June 7th 2011 in Europe?

Nintendo have finally provided a date for the 3DS system update which will contain the much-anticipated 3DS Internet Browser and eShop functions.

The Browser and eShop were supposed to launch at the end of May this year in all regions via a special systems update, but this was subsequently delayed due to the Japanese Tsunami Crisis and the economic downfall that followed.

Now a notice on the Official 3DS website suggests that the systems update will be available in North America from the evening of the 6th of June 2011, one day before Nintendo is due to reveal its 2012 line-up at E3

The release date for the Internet Browser and eShop outside of North America, including Europe is expected to be the 7th of June 2011, although this has yet to be confirmed by Nintendo itself.

We are very excited about the new Nintendo 3DS eShop and the Internet Browser, as both of these two software additions will  greatly increase the functionality of an already superb console even more. Be sure to check in with the Mini Gamers blogsite for more news on this topic as it develops.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Happy Birthday, Mini Gamers!

The Mini Gamers blogsite turns one year old today! It seems impossible to believe that this time last year the Mini Gamers team were sat in front of a computer trying to decide what the very first blog post should be. Now just one year (and 110 posts) later, we have a readership of over 11,000 people worldwide.

The reason Mini Gamers was created was to devote a space specifically for handheld gaming, as this had been sorely neglected by many other website in favour of articles and game reviews for major consoles like The Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Of course, Mini Gamers also depends on its readers and followers for ideas and support. Mini Gamers is very interested in hearing what the gaming community thinks and feels about gaming-related issues.

We also try and make the site as interactive as possible including Monthly Opinion Polls, a Suggestion Box, Comments Box and other features. If you haven't got involved so far, but would be interested in knowing more about how to do this, then please click HERE for more information. We'd be delighted to hear from you.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have visited the site over the past year. We hope that we can continue to bring you interesting articles, reviews, previews in the coming months.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sony Starts PSN Restoration Process At Last. 'Welcome Back' Package Details NOT included...

Sony has today begun restoring access to its online Playstation Network and Quriocity services after a malicious security breach forced them to close down for over three weeks. PS3 users will be able to access the service from today. However, some areas of the PSP Playstation Store are still undergoing maintenance at present.

In an attempt for tighter security, PSN users will now be forced to update their account details before being allowed to access the services. PS3 users will automatically receive a system update that will do this for them.

Sony has also promised its customers a 'Welcome Back' package including some free game downloads and free one month membership to Playstation Plus, but there are no details of this at present. The details of the package are expected to be revealed soon. Further details can be obtained by clicking HERE.

This is terrific news for users of either Quriocity or the PSN store. We here at Mini Gamers are delighted with the news and can't wait to start using our PSP consoles again.

What about other gamers out there? Are you pleased that the services are now back online, or has the breach left you feeling unsure about using these Sony services?  Let us know what you think about this issue by leaving a comment in our comments box (at the bottom of each post). We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

PSN and Quriocity Outage Could Continue Until The End Of May...

Sony's Playstation Network and Quriocity services continue to be unavailable for yet another week, and it looks as though the services will not return until the end of May at the earliest.

Mini Gamers first reported on the Playstation Network Outage in April of this year. At that time, Sony was confident that it would have both services up and running within a week. However, subsequent information leaks and fears of a second intrusion have meant that the "Phased Restoration of service" that Sony was planning, has so far not taken place.

Sony has suggested that they will be offering a so-called 'Welcome Back' package to all its customers, including the possibility of two free game downloads or music downloads and a thirty-day free membership into the Playstation Plus account amongst other things, but with Playstation gamers growing ever more impatient, it looks as though it may already be too little, too late where Sony is concerned.

Gaming website GamesIndustryBiz recently reported that there had been a higher trade-ins for Sony consoles, including the PS3 in the wake of the Playstation Network outage. This is a trend which could spell disaster for the Sony gaming franchise should it continue.

Sony's Head of Publisher Relations, Rob Dyer, recently wrote a letter to the company's developers and publishers in which he described the steps that Sony had taken immediately after the attack and how the company intended to get its services back online. The full contents of the letter can be read by clicking HERE.

At the time of this blog post, there is still no clear date when either the Playstation Network or Quriocity services shall return, but the longer that the outage lasts, the greater the overall damage done to Sony's reputation. Could this be the end for Sony as we know it?

What do you think of the current outage? Do you think that Sony have taken responsible measures by shutting down its services immediately after the breach? Have you lost interest in Sony products in the wake of the PSN outage?

Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment in the comments box. We'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

One To Watch: Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean (DS/DSi/3DS/PSP)

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean launches this weekend, and it promises to be an hilarious swashbuckling adventure for all concerned. Mini Gamers takes a look at the new features we can expect in this latest title from the ever-popular Lego Games series.

As well as featuring over seventy different playable characters, the game will include storylines from all four blockbuster films, including the latest release, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Furthermore, The 3DS version will also utilise the special StreetPass function in order to activate two-player sword fights between gamers' consoles.

The gameplay will follow the generics from past Lego games, including the collection of silver and gold gaming studs and the need to swap between different characters in order to harness their unique special abilities to unlock new areas of the game.

The main character abilities are as follows:

Captain Jack - uses his compass to point the way to the next level or to whatever his heart desires.

Will Turner  - Can throw axes at certain types of targets within the game.

Elizabeth Swan - Can jump higher than the other two characters and so can reach places that would be otherwise out of bounds.

Zombies [unlockable character] require no use of Oxygen when swimming and can therefore explore ocean depths more fully.

 The new HUB for this game will be Port Royal. The hub will open up into different areas as players progress through the game. A lot of time and effort has been put in to the creation of this game. There is a total of twenty different levels per each Story Mode, which means a lot of items to find and characters to unlock.

Overall, this is shaping up to be a very interesting game. Fans of the Lego series are bound to enjoy this title and fans of the film will enjoy the hilarious cutscenes.

This is definitely one to add to the games collection. If you still haven't made up your mind though, this trailer should help you to decide:

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean will be available to buy from Friday the 13th May 2011.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Nintendo 3DS: Flying High With Pilotwings Resort

Pilotwings Resort is a three-dimensional flying simulation game for the Nintendo 3DS. Players have a choice of three vehicles - Hang Glider, Sea Plane and Rocket Belt and several different missions to take part in.

Players can start of as Novices and can take part in basic flying missions such as flying through a set of rings, taking part in DogFights or landing in the centre of a specific Landing Pad.  Points are given for speed, accuracy of flying or landing and fuel efficiency. Players must amass a certain amount of points in order to pass that level.

The best thing about Pilotwings Resort is the ability to use your own Miis from the Mii maker. You can also use Miis that have been gained via QR Codes as well. The cartoon-style graphics of the game will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has played Wii Sports Resort on the Nintendo Wii.

The missions get gradually more difficult as players progress through the game. There are five mission classes, which range from Novice to Platinum.  Players can also choose to fly in Free Mode instead, which is a good way to get used to the controls of each aircraft in turn.

 This game is fantastic. The 3D graphics really enhance the flying experience. There are a few easy tutorial in the Novice level to help players get familiar with the in-game controls more quickly. If you have ever dreamt of soaring amongst the clouds, or if you just want a friendly, simple little game to enjoy in your freetime, then this is the perfect game for you. Overall rating: 10/10.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Nintendo 3DS Launch Titles That You May Not Have Heard About Yet...

A lot has been published in the initial few months of the 3DS' European launch about the type of software titles that gamers could expect to see throughout the console's apparent 'Launch Window' in 2011, which included popular franchises such as Pilotwings Resort, Steel DiverSuper Street Fighter 1V and Dead or Alive: Dimensions, amongst others.

However, Mini Gamers has discovered some other popular titles which are set to debut on Nintendo's newest handheld, which we were pleasantly surprised about. This is our selection of the type of games that should be appearing on our consoles some time later in the year.


Yes, it seems as though our two favourite rival game characters are set to join forces once again. This time they will be competing in Olympic-style events in glorious 3D.

Very little is known about the game so far, but we do know that The game is officially licensed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through its exclusive licensee International Sports Multimedia.

As with the previous Mario and Sonic Olympic game titles, this game will allow players to choose from one of several Mario or Sonic The Hedgehog characters in order to compete in various Olympic tasks. The 3DS version of this game is set to have over fifty separate sporting events.

The mini-game Olympic events are based on the standard Summer Olympic Events, and are therefore expected to include Aquatics, Athletics and Table Tennis, Archery and other regular sporting events. 

There is also rumours of other special events such as Equestrian (Horse Riding) and Football, but these have yet to be confirmed for inclusion on the 3DS.

The official release date for this game has been initially set for the 6th January 2012, but as you know, release dates can change many times before the game actually hits the shop shelves. Watch this Space!


This game has been developed by Funbox Media for both the Nintendo DS and 3DS systems. Players can choose to complete the Career's Mode and play as Darts player, Phil Taylor, or compete in Freestyle Darts competitions.

Ten different Pub Darts games have been included in the game, including: the more traditional countdown-style dart games such as 701, 501, 301, Around the ClockGolf and Warfare.

There is also a Free Carnival Mode for extra fun, whereby players can try to aim at everything from Balloons to Rubber Ducks.

Furthermore, there is a Multiplayer Mode which can reportedly be played by passing one single DS or 3DS system around different players.

There has not been an official release date for the 3DS version yet, but the DS version is scheduled for release in August 2011, and it is thought that the 3DS will be released at around the same time. Keep checking in with Mini Gamers for more information about this game as it develops.


Spongebob is back in his first ever 3D adventure. Based on a game from the Wii's uDraw Game Tablet, this 3DS title features 100 mini-games (also called 'nanogames') in which players must  draw, tilt, tap, drag, press and flick through six zany SpongeBob worlds.

Unleash your creativity in full-3D as you create, color and draw anything imaginable with custom paints, palettes, stamps and art tools.

Featuring never-before-seen artwork from the Nickelodeon vault, this game is a sure to appeal to any Spongebob fan. Spongebob Squigglepants 3D should be available to buy from the 27th of May 2011.

So there you have it, three brand new 3DS games which should be making their way onto our consoles some time soon.  Keep checking in with Mini Gamers blogsite for future details on these 3DS games and more...

Monday, 2 May 2011

Sony Begins "Phased Restoration" Of Its Services...

Sony has today started what it has termed a "Phased Restoration" of its Playstation Network and Qriocity services after a malicious system hack forced them to be shut down for over a week.

During a press conference in Tokyo yesterday, both Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) and Sony Network Entertainment International (SNEI) announced that they will shortly begin to turn on their gaming, music and video services region by region.

Sony has also implemented stricter security measures since the cyber attack, including creating a new company position called the Chief Information Security Officer, whose role it will be to to supplement existing information security personnel in ensuring the safety of customer data.

Furthermore, Sony have added automated software monitoring and configuration management to help defend against new attacks, enhanced the levels of data protection, encryption, and the ability to detect software intrusions within the network, unauthorized access and unusual activity patterns, as well as having implemented additional firewalls.

PS3 gamers will undergo a system update whereby they will have to re-register their Username and password before they are allowed access to the Playstation Network. There are also plans to move the existing network system to another secret location, which according to Sony, had been under construction for several months prior to the attack.

It was originally feared that customers' credit card information was also at risk, but Sony have since announced that this is impossible as customers credit card details are subject to encryption and were therefore not at risk.

Nevertheless, the same cannot be said for users' personal details, which were not subject to encryption at the time of the intrusion. However, Sony insists that lessons have been learned from the attack and the company has pledged that it will work even harder to ensure the safety of its online services.

Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President of the Sony Corporation said: "Our global audience of PlayStation Network and Qriocity consumers was disrupted. We have learned lessons along the way about the valued relationship with our consumers, and to that end, we will be launching a customer appreciation programme for registered consumers as a way of expressing our gratitude for their loyalty during this network downtime, as we work even harder to restore and regain their trust in us and our services."

Nevertheless, the cyber attack, which placed almost 77 million customers' personal details at risk, could have done untold damage to Sony's reputation and may even impact the reputation of other similar online networks in the future.

The question that many gamers will now be asking is:  Is it enough to be wise after the event when it comes to personal security, or should Sony have taken more stringent measures to prevent such a security breach in the first place?

 Let us know your thoughts on this subject by leaving a comment in the Mini Gamers comment box. We'd love to hear from you.