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It’s “Verdict Day” for “Armored Core,” while “Monster Hunter” sticks to 3DS LL

by Brian Ashcraft

Suit up for more ‘Armored Core’

“Armored Core” games are loved by fans for their terrific “mecha” robot designs, cool visuals and rigorous gameplay mechanics. The latest addition, “Armored Core: Verdict Day,” is set in a war-torn dystopian future in which rival groups fight for precious natural resources. The landscape is bleak, the battles are explosive and the machinery hardcore.

“AC” games have never been easy — in fact, they’re known to be really, really hard, not to mention complex. “Verdict Day” looks like it’s no exception. But once you invest the necessary time to master the controls for your mecha (or “AC” as they’re called in the game), it becomes a satisfying experience. It’s as if you are actually controlling (and customizing) a giant machine.

From Software has been making these games for more than 16 years and its titles have diehard fans. But approach “AC” in a half-hearted manner, and the games will only frustrate endlessly — so make sure you’re as hardcore as the mecha you play.

“Armored Core Verdict Day” will be released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 on Sept. 26 for ¥6,800.

Armored Core: www.armoredcore.net/acvd

The cat’s meow of handheld covers

Cat ears can make anything cute, right? At least that seems to be idea behind the countless cat-eared characters in anime and manga. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise then that you can now get cat ears for your 3DS LL.

The Neko Nyan cover isn’t just for looks, though. It protects the console’s casing from dust and stratches, and the soft silicone makes those long-play sessions more comfortable.

There are three cats to choose from — “Kuro” (black), “Momoko” (peachy) and “Sunamaru” (sandy) — and the handheld’s dual cameras are incorporated into the design to become the cat’s beady eyes. It also has openings to allow easy access to your touch pen and game slot. It all sounds “purr”fect for cat-loving gamers.

The Cyber Silicone Cover Neko Nyan is priced at ¥1,219 and is available at Cybergadget.

Cybergadget: home.cybergadget.co.jp/products/4544859015502.html

Time to surf and turf

Custom computer keyboards have been made from, or accessorized with, many unusual materials. But Tokyo-based Daitec claims it’s the first to offer turf-covered ones.

Daitec is no stranger to novelty keyboards — previous custom-mades include a camo one for “Call of Duty” gamers — and its Filco-branded gaming keyboards are lauded for their tactile keys and rugged, solid frames.

Dubbed “Midori” (“green” in Japanese), the body of this new creation is covered in durable 2 mm-thick synthetic turf. The greenery doesn’t interfere with the keys, and it’s designed to help provide a relaxing desktop environment. Customers can also select the key design and LED color.

Priced at ¥15,800, the Midori keyboard is available via Diatec’s online shop.

Diatec: www.diatec.co.jp/shop/kobo

Here comes another monster hit

The monstrously popular “Monster Hunter,” originally debuted on PlayStation 2 in 2004, but when it hit the PSP, it became a portable gaming phenomenon in Japan, selling millions upon millions of copies. For some gamers, the PSP has become so closely identified with “Monster Hunter” that they balk at the thought of playing it on anything else. So it’s surprising that when Capcom unveiled “Monster Hunter 4,” it said it was only being released for the Nintendo 3DS LL.

To mark its release and perhaps persuade gamers to switch consoles, Nintendo is rolling out two limited-edition 3DS LL units — one black, one white — each emblazoned with original “Monster Hunter” designs and bundled with the game itself.. They will be out on Sept. 14, and priced at ¥26,000. The game on its own costs ¥5,990.

Looks like PSP diehards may have to invest if they want to continue playing.

Capcom: www.capcom.co.jp/monsterhunter/4

Toughen up your PS Vita

Ever find yourself accidentally stabbing your PS Vita OLED screen with your keys? Or discovering scratches on the screen caused by loose change in your bag? Portable game devices often get the worse for wear, chucked into bags by gamers on the go without a thought of what they might be bashing against — and the PS Vita’s touchscreen has little protection.

Peripheral maker Hori have come up with a solution with what it claims to be the industry’s toughest gaming touchscreen cover. The Organic Glass Filter Tough Panel for the PS Vita protects from nicks and scrapes (Hori’s advertising shows it withstanding a wire brush), but is still sensitive enough to allow gamers to easily swipe their fingers across the screen for gameplay. An officially licensed PlayStation product, it’s available for ¥2,980.

Amazon: www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00BUIYGTC

ABrian Ashcraft is a Senior Contributing Editor at us.Kotaku.com.