Monthly Archives: August 2014

My top 25 DS games of all time. (Part 1/3)

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I have a gut feeling that one day, in a comment or a podcast, somebody will ask me one of the most terrible questions I can be asked. What is my favorite DS game of all time? Also, to avoid that I make it myself easy, I have decided that I’m not allowed to pick two games from a series on this list. I’m allowed to put a series on one spot though. For the rest, I’ll write this list as usual. Before I start, I want to tell you guys that this is one of the hardest lists I ever put together. Also, there are a lot of DS games I haven’t played yet, so this list might not contain games you truly enjoyed. Please don’t hate or beg to me in the comments why I should play a certain game. I’ll also link when I wrote an article about a certain game in the past. That way you can read a more in depth look on the game. Since I want to avoid that this article becomes too long. As you all know, my favorite gaming system is the Nintendo DS, due to it bringing me the most memories out of all the games I have played in the past. Anyways, this has been a long enough introduction. Let’s start the countdown. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your top best DS games, your opinion on this article and or my selection. 

 #25: Lux Pain

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Alright, Lux Pain. A game with a very interesting gameplay. I have beaten this game twice and I still enjoy it. The writing of this game is excellent. You play as a secret agent for a special kind of infection. This infection makes people go crazy and mad, eventually killing themselves.

That’s the plot. But the further I got in the story, the more I got attached to the characters, music, setting and the game.

I didn’t expect the gameplay. It’s hard to explain and best to experienced by yourself. It’s a visual novel with a sort of mini-game. It’s extremely challenging and some “battles” require some practice.

I honestly didn’t research this game at all before I started playing it. I found out about it on a list of visual novels on the DS and I started playing it. After two hours I was drawn into the story and it was the only game I was playing at the time.

Keep in mind though, that I played this game when my parents put me on limited computer time, so I had to find other ways to entertain myself. This game did the trick quite well.

#24: Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

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Yes, that’s true. I placed a Golden Sun game at number 24. I know, you might wanted it to be higher. B-but, there are other games I enjoyed more…

Q! Come on, it’s not because you enjoyed the GBA games as much, I have to put the DS game higher on my list…

I know, it’s my list… and that’s ButtonSmashers is yours. But I don’t feel like making this an exclusive article for my personal blog.

True, Golden Sun is amazing and I enjoyed the gameplay quite a lot. But I don’t think it’s the best RPG on the system for me.

More reasons, well, ehrm… It’s the game that started my love for collecting strategy guides. Mind you, I didn’t use my strategy guide while I was playing this game.

Note: Lpgardian (aka Q) didn’t know about this. I wanted to joke around a bit, using the fact that he adores the Golden Sun games on GBA. So, yeah. Creativity ^w^ . 

#23: Mario games – Best one: Super Mario 64 DS

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And now, I might piss off a lot of my readers. I place the Mario games on number 23. That includes: Mario Kart, Mario and Luigi, Mario Hoops: 3-on-3 (Which are honorable mentions by the way.)

To have “one” game each number, I decided that I pick my most favorite game out of the series. That has to be Super Mario 64 DS.

This title improved on the game quite a lot. Making it portable and adding new characters. This makes for some interesting gameplay.

And this is the reason why I put this game (series) so low on the list, is that I don’t fully enjoy platformers where the goal is, go from left to right and avoid enemies.

I still remember playing the N64 version when I was on a trip to a theme park in the neighboring country here. It wasn’t my first 3D game, but it was the first time I saw Mario in 3D. So, nostalgia caused my buying this title… And I enjoyed it. (But never beaten it.)

#22: Picross 3D

Picross_3D_CoverI love myself some Japanese games. But when I discovered Picross, maybe better known under the name of nonograms, I was hooked. My aunt actually bought my a puzzle book full of them, and I took it everywhere with me.

To this day, I still have that puzzle book. But I haven’t solved a lot of puzzles in it. Since I wanted to keep it as empty as possible so I could remake the puzzles over and over. The reason for that is that here in Belgium, you can’t buy many puzzle books with nanograms in them.

Anyways, when I saw this game on the DS, I doubted a bit. An amazing 2D puzzle, going 3D? That must bring with it a lot of problems!

But I was proven wrong. This game is really challenging and proves why these puzzles are my favorite puzzles ever created. This game even appears on various overlooked DS games lists, so yeah.

#21: Puzzler World series

puzzler_world_dsThe Puzzler World series is everything a puzzle game collection needs to be. Portable, enjoyable and fun. And best of all, you can choose which puzzle you want to play and when.

I have seen people calling this game shovelware, but I respectfully disagree. Since this game is well made and produced with a lot of love.

The fact that you have to beat additional puzzles to win hint coins is a nice concept. This makes the hint coins pretty valuable. The early puzzles are pretty easy, but the later puzzles get really crazy and require your puzzle solving skills, to the max.

Before the smart guy or girl comments what my favorite game is of the series, I can’t tell. Since they are all pretty similar. Only the puzzle selection is different.

#20: Nintendogs

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Relax please. The cats are added in the 3DS version. For the people who didn’t catch my little joke, my nickname NekoJonez has the Japanese word for cat in it. And since this game is about dogs.

I’m a bit cat fan, but I always dreamed of having a dog and a cat. Sadly enough, due to family allergies and such, we can’t keep a dog. Also, my house isn’t really fitted for having a dog.

So, the best solution was a virtual dog. I still remember how I got my DS before my sister. She was pretty jealous. She wanted to play this game the most. At that moment, I decided to take some of my pocket money and buy it together with her.

This game holds a ton of memories for me. When I first made YouTube video’s, this game was one of the stars of my “show”. I made videos showing off hidden tricks, glitches and my skills with the game. And yes, my English was even more broken then it currently is.

So, I think it’s only fair to put it on my list. But there are games that I ended more then Nintendogs, so let’s take a look at number 19.

End of part 1.

19 – 10 / 9 – 1

Review #033: The Legend Of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds (3DS) ~ Merged.

1382344384First Impression – Official site

Warning: This is a longer review. 

I know, I know. This game has been released for such a long time. I have only just recently beaten it. The reason for that is that other games distracted me and I was annoyed at one dungeon. But hey, now that I have finished it, I finally can take a look at this game. I already reviewed a Zelda game earlier this month, but I hope you guys can forgive me for two Zelda game reviews back to back. There will be one guy that will read my review for sure! Isn’t that true, Dark_Legend? Since I know you are looking forward to any content about Zelda. We are both big Zelda fans. Zelda is love. Zelda is LIFE! Anyways, enough with the randomness in this introduction. Let’s take a look at this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on this game. Before I continue with the actual review, I want to say that this review has been written quite some time after the first impression article. So, it might be quite possible that my opinion changed quite a bit compared to the first impression. Hopefully you readers can understand that. 

Let’s start.

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While I was playing this game, I was also playing the remake of Ocarina of Time on 3DS. The story has lots of similar elements. While the set-up is quite similar to A Link To The Past, the story takes it’s inspiration from Ocarina Of Time.

That doesn’t mean that the story isn’t unique. I’m a little bit disappointing to see that the story was created using two other Zelda stories with a new element in it. I don’t have any complaints in terms of story besides that. I just felt like I was playing through two quite similar stories. The medallions were the paintings in this game.

It’s by all means, not a bad story. I liked the characters and it was really interesting to see how this game throws a twist in the end. I can’t say it’s predictable, only a person with a lot of experience in the visual novel genre or in writing might see the ending of this game coming.

I can understand that this game is a remake of A Link To The Past, so I can forgive the story being mediocre. I’m actually glad that we got a different game then another remake of A Link To The Past, because it already got a remake on the GBA.

Also, because this game tries out a ton of new things with the Zelda formula, I can’t complain that much about it’s length. A complaint I read often is that this game is too short. I can agree. For veteran Zelda players, you can beat this game quite fast. I didn’t beat it as fast as I could because I didn’t like one dungeon. I’ll get into that later.

Not that good?

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I’m quite sure I’m going to get some hate for this, but I think that the scores this game get are quite high. Honestly, a bit too high. Let me explain myself. Before I look like a troll.

Graphically, this game left me with a “meh” feeling. I enjoy the style using in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks more. You won’t hear me complaining about the more realistic and detailed art-style of Ocarina Of Time. This game is a mix between the two styles.

It tries to have a realistic look on the characters while some enemies and part of the world have a more cartoon-like look to it.

I also didn’t like some character and enemy designs. My favorite race in the Zelda series must be the Zora’s. In this game they look like blown up frogs. So, long story short, I don’t think that this game looks all that good.

This game does make more mistakes then that. The final boss is way too easy. I was able to beat the final boss on my first try. I even didn’t need my 2nd health potion. The solution was way too easy for a veteran puzzle game player. It left me with a very disappointed feeling. The story might have a sweet climax, but the gameplay hasn’t.

What I’m trying to say here is that the difficulty is messed up. All other reviewers said the same. Because you can do the dungeons out of order, they programmed the game in a way that the difficulty is somewhat equal in all the dungeons. There is the big issue, since you get stronger through-out the game, it truly becomes a cake-walk. I haven’t played through Hero Mode, but the overall difficulty isn’t good throughout the whole game.

Good?

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Sadly enough, I’m not done yet with talking about the negatives of this game. A huge improvement is that you can put pins on your map to locations you want to visit in the future! This is quite a nice feature. I used it from time to time to be able to get to certain hart pieces later.

But I do have a problem here. All the locations of the dungeons have been marked. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It helps the player not getting lost, but it kills the exploration. Now, it’s less fun to be able to say: “I found the entrance to that dungeon.”. It’s marked on the map. You can’t overlook it.

Let’s talk dungeon design then. Earlier in this article I talked about the issue I had with this game. In the forest dungeon, you are stalked by a wall master. While it’s a very original idea and it creates some amazing puzzles, it can be quite annoying from time to time.

In general, I think that the dungeons are very well designed. The ice dungeon breaks a Zelda tradition. You can get the boss key almost right away. In some dungeons you can find suits to upgrade yourself. You can even find the master shield in one of the dungeons. The dungeons are filled with challenging enemies and great puzzles. I might had to use a walkthrough once or twice because I wasn’t able to figure out a puzzle. It was one in the Ice Temple. The lay-out is a bit confusing.

You can do the dungeons in what ever order you wish. You can rent the items from a weird guy that invades your home. This is very unique and quite fun. Because you try to get to secrets early and things like that. You can also buy the items later on. And here is where the issue lies. The dungeons feel less rewarding to go through. At least for me, they do. Because you got the dungeon item in advance, you can easily go through it without an issue. There is less reason to try and find each and every item.

 I could sink into the floor… I mean wall.

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So, is this game really not worth playing? No, that would be the wrong thing to say and think. This game provided me with a lot of fun. The main mechanic really helps with that. In this game you are able to merge with almost any wall in the game.

I honestly think that the music is really well done. I love the touch that the music sounds more distant as soon you merge into a wall.

Also, you can be a bit more careless with your bombs and arrows. Thanks to the magic meter, you never run out of them. That saves a whole bunch of grinding, something that shouldn’t be in a Zelda game in the first place.

The side quest to find the baby squids (?)

The animation is extremely well done. This game really plays nice in 3D as well. While I’m not a big fan of the visuals, I think the 3D is good. There is a lot to do besides the main story line. The fact that you can upgrade your stuff, makes the side quests rewarding.

Maybe a little spoiler, but there is a “hero” mode in this game. With this mode you can replay the whole game but in a more difficult fashion.

Also, there is a multiplayer aspect to this game. It’s more spotpass related, but I think it’s really fun. You guys should check it out!

Anyways, I think I have said the most important things I wanted to say about this game. Let’s go to my conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Visually lacking in my opinion.

– The end game is extremely easy.

– The wall master hunting you down in the forest temple can be annoying 😦

– The map can be annoying to use.

The good:

+ Pins on the map!

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Great idea’s to change up the gameplay.

+ Amazing use of the amazing meter!

Closing thoughts:

This game isn’t perfect, it’s good. But it is anything but worth the big scores that big magazines are giving it. I’m a big Zelda fan, but I put this game down after I got annoyed by that wall master in the forest dungeon chasing you. There is even one in the first room of the dungeon. When I don’t play a Zelda game until I finish it, it means that there is something lacking.

The game was originally meant to be a remake of “A Link To The Past”, and that’s what this game is holding back. This is a reworked remake. Somehow I have the impression that the developers changed the main idea of the game somewhere mid-way development. They needed something simple to set this game apart, so they started reworking the game with the wall merging mechanic.

If I look past my fanboy-ism for the series, I see a game that has some issues but still provides a fun ride. This game isn’t an outstanding Zelda experience, but it came close. They only had to flesh out the game a bit more. To add a bit more difficulty to it. Yeah. That might have been better.

Score: 70/100

Review #032: 999: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors (DS) ~ Zero Escape

999Wikipedia entry

How can I forget to write a review about this game? I have reviewed the sequel, Virtue’s Last Reward quite some time ago. I might have talked about this game here and there, and I might even have selected a track or two for my favorite music tracks ever in games. But, I never wrote a full review on it. Let me fix that. The reason why the title says “Zero Escape” is because this game is the first game in the Zero Escape series. I’m truly crossing my fingers that there will be a third entry into it. I remember that they are actually working on it. So, to support this series and to celebrate this month’s theme: (3)DS games, let’s take a look at the game that started this series. And feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on this game. Warning, this game is a visual novel puzzle-adventure game. Because of the game being very plot-driven, I have posted screenshots and wrote this article with avoiding spoilers as much as I could. 

Numbers

gfs_174053_2_60The story in this game is simply the best part in this game. I already said in the introduction, that this game is very story driven. So, I will only give you a brief introduction. You play as Junpei, who is kidnapped and trapped in a room. As soon as you wake up, you have to solve a puzzle to escape your room. When you run into the main hall, you discover that you are trapped with 8 other people. You are able to be part of the Nonary game. And if you break the rules of this game, you will die or rather, explode. Oh, and don’t forget, the actual mastermind behind all of this is one of the group.

If you read the intro, you might have a lot of questions. But do yourself a favor and don’t look up more of the story then what I just told you. The story is really tense, memorable and a blast to read through. The best part is that this game is replayable. Since you will need to make crucial decisions that will change the ending of the game.

When you have a certain ending, it’s quite possible that you get some sort of cryptic bonus video. But, here is a small tip. That video is more then just a bonus video. Analyse it well, and you will understand what I mean.

What can I say about the story without spoiling it? I already said that it was very thrilling and a blast to read through. The characters are really memorable and there will be some you will start to love and others you will start to hate. The most fun thing in this game is trying to discover who Zero is. Since you have to play through this game multiple times, you will have more information then Junpei, but I have to admit, that I was off when the actual conclusion came around.

The game in a game.

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So, the gameplay. This is how escape games on Android should be. In each room, you will be presented with a puzzle. In this puzzle, you will be challenged to escape the room. Even when you played through this game several times, it’s quite possible that you can get stuck on a puzzle you solved earlier. Because there might always be that one item you look over each and every time.

I had a lot of fun playing through this game when it was released and I had a lot of fun playing through this game when I was replaying it for you guys. The puzzles keep being challenging. They are one of the best puzzles I have seen in a visual novel game in quite a while.

The major issue, that was thankfully fixed in the sequel, is that when you want to try and go for another ending. Then you have to replay the whole game. The story tree of the sequel is an amazing help. Since it’s a bit confusing because some routes end up at the same ending.

I do recommend playing through this game to unlock all endings. Even when you have seen the true ending. I have heard people reaching the true ending on their 2nd or 3rd try. I have my doubts that’s possible, but I think I’m wrong on that. Thankfully, there is a handy way to keep track of which endings you have already seen in the game on your save file. That’s a handy feature.

Perfect?

999_screenshotYes, this game comes so close to be a perfect game on DS. I already talked about how the game has some issues when playing through for each playthrough beyond the 2nd.

The final puzzle of the true ending is very anti-climatic. I won’t spoil what it is, but the build up of this puzzle is just lame. If you see it, you will totally get what I mean. I actually face palmed when I saw it.

What shows that this game is nearly perfect is the music. I totally love the soundtrack of this game. It’s really tense and it builds the right atmosphere. When I hear it today, I get the chills. The memories of what happened in the game. Man, it’s nice. If the music of a game can be that strong.

The game can be a chore for people who don’t like to read long dialogue parts. If you are somebody who skips cutscenes or goes to the bathroom while a dialogue happens, this game might not be for you.

Also, when maths isn’t your strong point, you might want to use the calculator that’s build into the game often. Since various puzzles require solving a math problem.

Anyways, I have said everything I wanted about this game. Let’s get on with the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Replaying through the whole game just to get the other endings.

– The final puzzle is very anti-climatic.

(- The voice acting in the sequel just builds the atmosphere that much more.)

The good:

+ Memorable soundtrack.

+ Epic story.

+ Fun gameplay.

+ They made a visual novel replayable!

+ Memorable characters.

+ ….

Final thoughts:

Since I listen often to the soundtrack of this game and I look forward for more news on the Zero Escape series, I think it’s well deserved that this game gets the highest score. Since all the flaws are crushed by the positives elements of this game! You owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this game and give it a try. Any good gameshop now-a-days has warranty on their products so if you don’t like it, you can give it back.

The story, the music, the setting, the puzzles and the design. These things just all fit together to make an excellent visual novel experience worth every penny.

I can understand that people find the game repetitive in some areas or that the game is too full of talking, but I honestly think that the game is one of the best games ever made on the Nintendo DS.

Score: 100/100

Gaming Nostalgia #4: (3)DS month

ss (2012-10-24 at 11.45.23)Looking to my blog, you might have realized that I review in general handheld games. So, logically, Q didn’t realize that this month was a special month for my blog. I focused only on DS and 3DS games. I wished I could have written more articles about it. Sadly enough, I was able to predict that this month was going to be busy. In general, the amount of articles I write in one month dropped. But hey! Quality over quantity, am I right? Anyways, maybe next month I might write about games that aren’t on handhelds. That will be hard for me for sure. In the future, you might be sure that I’m going to release around 7-10 articles a month. When I do have the time though. I think the best idea is that you follow my twitter. Since I talk about my updates a lot there. Okay, that has been a quick blog update. Now that, that is out of the way, let’s write a new article in the game nostalgia series. A series I wanted to write a new entry for quite a while. I said multiple times on my scheduling Tumblr updates that I was going to write a new one. So, because this month is the special DS and 3DS month, let me tell you a story. A story about how I got the handhelds. Also, feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts on this article. 

My first DS.

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Me and my family were on a trip. It happened on that trip where I was a leader for the first time, remember that story? On that trip, a boy had a black Nintendo DS Lite with him. The game he had on it, was Pokémon Diamond. When I asked kindly if I would be allowed to play on it, he agreed. In exchange, I had to give my GBA to him, because he never played Pokémon Ruby.

It wasn’t until I saw a commercial on TV about the Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass, I wanted a Nintendo DS. This very commercial. Keep in mind that it’s a Dutch video. So, you won’t be able to understand anything if you aren’t English. The other commercials, I wasn’t able to find. It showed Link following the stylus on a white background.

Then I begged my parents to get me a Nintendo DS. It was around December of 2007. I still remember it quite well, how we went to the game store to buy me one. But, I wasn’t allowed to play on it until New Year’s Eve. A day or two before I was going to get it, I was at my aunt. She was charging it in advance so I could play on it. But I wasn’t allowed it touch it. Not even the box where it was in.

My family surprised me that day. They knew that I was a big Legend Of Zelda fan. When they went to a garage sale with me on our yearly trips to the sea side, I always said to them that they needed to look out for any stuff from the Legend Of Zelda. That day, I got two presents. I was quite confused, what could that second present be? Well, it was the Phantom Hourglass game. Yes, my family bought me Phantom Hourglass on the DS. I was so happy. My first game, a Zelda game. It couldn’t start any better.

On that moment, I was allowed to play on my DS. Apart from eating dinner with my family, I put myself in my grandfather’s office and played the whole night. I even missed the countdown to the new year. 2008 started with something I will never forget. Until this day, the Nintendo DS is the best handheld in my eyes. Without a single doubt in my mind.

Blast From The Past: The Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass

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Official site

I haven’t done this the two previous articles, but this part of the game nostalgia series will be a nice separation for the next part of the story. So, in “blast from the past” I take a look at one of the games that means a lot to me. A game that has a personal story behind it, more then “I simply bought it in a game store.”

You should have seen this one coming from paragraphs away. Get it? Since I mentioned it a few ones ago? Oh, it’s not funny? Ehrm, sorry. I guess.

Anyways, joking aside, this game was the game that gave me the feeling that my family accepted my gaming hobby and my love for the Legend of Zelda. It’s a shame that I haven’t reviewed this game or talked about it. In my review of the follow up, Spirit Tracks, I asked the question which my favorite game of the two would be.

After some careful thought, I think my answer is going to change a little bit. In terms of nostalgia, my favorite game is Phantom Hourglass. But the better game is Spirit Tracks. Since the improvements over Phantom Hourglass makes it a better game.

But this game is on my list to review for such a long time, I might just start writing a review after I finished all the articles I have planned for this month! So, keep an eye out for that.

Getting my 3DS.

royal_purple_nintendo_3ds_open_comparisonI can’t believe that the 3DS is 3 years old this year. The time flies even faster then I thought before. For me, the 3DS has still that “new” feeling. It isn’t old and mostly of all, my library and knowledge isn’t that big about the system.

When I look at the shelf of 3DS games, I think I own around 25 games for it. It’s actually not that strange. Since I got the 3DS, I started to expand my library of other systems as well. So, I’m not focused only on the 3DS.

Anyways, I’m missing the point of this article here. I wanted to talk about the time before I got my 3DS. Since that has a story as well. Back in 2009 – 2010, I saw a trailer of a man holding what looked to be a DSi in front of her. She showed it from side to side. On the screen, there was a 3D game playing. I looked around for this trailer like a mad man, but I wasn’t able to find it. Until now, I found this video back!  Thanks to me looking it up on another search engine.

I was extremely hyped. Since I first thought it was going to be a game. It looked so interesting! But I was afraid that it was going to be a Japanese exclusive. Remember, at that time the video leaked, there wasn’t anything known about the 3DS in my country. And since I only read Dutch news sources, I didn’t know about the 3DS until a year after.

Then the 3DS was announced. I was so jealous of all the journalists that were at E3 of that year. They could have their hands on the system before I was able to get my hands on it. While people started to say that the system had a bad line up for release games, I didn’t care that much actually. It was a new portable system by Nintendo and me being such a big Nintendo handheld fan, I had to get it.

So, I pre-ordered it. The system was going to be 250€. Quite expensive. It’s the most expensive thing I bought in my whole gaming life. When I saw Nintendo was having events at certain cities to be able to play on the device, I was planning to go to them. But in the end, I didn’t went to it. The simple reason is time. I didn’t had the time to go to one.

A few days before the system was released, I was at school. At the afternoon break, we were able to leave the school and go eating in the town. So, I went down to the town with my friends and we ate. When I looked at my mobile phone, I saw I got a text message. My local game store said: “Your pre-order of the Nintendo 3DS Cosmo Black is ready to be picked up at the store.” My mind was blown. I was going to be able to play the system a few days prior to it’s official release?

I called the store, asking when they close the store. After school, I even sprinted to the bus station so I would arrive earlier at the station to take an earlier train. My hype was growing even bigger. When I was home, I emptied my bad, took the money I saved up and jumped on my bike. I think I never rode faster on my bike. I was hyped.

NintendogsCatsBoxArt2When I arrived at the store, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The system was actually there. They gave me the box, I payed the money. I still remember giving it cash. Because I saved up all that money from jobs I had to do for my family.

I put the box in my bag and I walked out of the store. When I arrived home, I started playing on my 3DS. I still remember opening it in the living room and showing my mom.

I did forget one detail though, I didn’t had any 3DS games. Whoops, totally forgot about that. The same aunt who charged my DS for the first time, was actually so kind to me that when her daughter was going to get a new game, she picked me up and drove with me to another game store. At that game store, I was allowed to pick up my first 3DS game. Because there wasn’t any Zelda game released on the system, I bought myself Nintendogs + Cats.

I could have bought a ton of other games then, but I made up my mind. I wanted this game. Soon after, I bought the remake of the Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina Of Time. But why did I bought Nintendogs + Cats? Well, because there were cats in the game AND the Nintendogs series has a special place in my hart. Why is that? Well, you will have to wait until the finale of special month. I will talk about it in that article!

Closing thoughts

So, that has been a new article in the gaming nostalgia series. In this article I talked about how I got my two most favorite handhelds ever. I still both have my silver DS and my cosmo black 3DS. I play on them nearly every day. Sadly enough, my microphone of my DS recently stopped working. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, but I’m talking to my friends over at Gamers’Hive to look for solutions.

Thanks for reading this article, hopefully you enjoyed reading it. What are your stories? Do you have any special story before you bought a certain console? Let me know, with a comment maybe?

Anyways, I think I’m going to end this article here. Until another time on my blog! Thanks for reading.

Review #031: The Legend Of Zelda – Spirit Tracks (DS) ~ Trading The Boat For A Train

The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_Spirit_Tracks_(Europe)Official site

Warning: lengthy review. Because I wanted to write a long special review for the (3)DS month!

Honestly, I think Dark_Legend would slap me in the face if I would tell him that I did a (3)DS month and that I didn’t cover one of the Zelda games. I can choose out of several games. Phantom Hourglass, Four Swords Adventures 25 year anniversary edition, Ocarina Of Time 3D and A Link Between Worlds. But the 5th Zelda game that has been released on the (3)DS, we shall take a look at today. In my last music article, I talked about how this game has been a laughing stock for trolls. I had a hard time not starting to review the game in that article. So, I decided to give it a review here. This game has a lot of memories for me. I learned about this game through a magazine and after I saw some trailers, I was hyped. Big time. I couldn’t wait. I wanted to play it as soon as it came out. I even made it ship over from the USA so that I was able to play it two days in advance! Yeah. Anyways, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on this game. 

Doubtful at first

Spirit_Tracks_Train_Screenshot

Who wouldn’t be? The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass nailed the boat mechanic. The Zelda games appear to take place in the middle ages. Introducing trains sounds so out of place. I was doubtful at first, because you can’t explore the open world like in all previous handheld Zelda games.

Let us focus on that later, let’s talk about the story first. The story starts with a brief summary of the legend of the rail system. You play as Link, or however you name your character, who is about to do his exam to become a train driver. After you arrive at the castle, you get your license from Zelda and she wants to secretly meet you.

From there, the story takes a few twists and turns, but it keeps it safe. The story is not for the youngest children, as proven by the cover. But don’t expect an amazing tale that other Zelda games can provide. I know what you might be thinking now, is the story bad or not memorable? Honestly, not really.

The power in the story is how they used familiar characters from the Zelda series to forge a decent story. Seeing the old characters back will place a smile on every Zelda fan’s face. But there is more then only a few characters from the previous games that feels familiar. While I was playing, I often got the feeling that I was replaying a game. That got confirmed when I read an interview in that magazine. The game is created with veteran players in mind. So, in a way, this game is a sort of “best of” mix with trains.

Improving the game

Zelda Spirit Tracks

One major complaint I have with the first Zelda game on DS is that the central temple needs to be played through several times. Nintendo somewhat fixed this in this game. You can go up the central tower in order to get your next piece of the map.

While I think a sort of elevator would have been nicer, since you take some time to reach the highest floor, it’s a big improvement over the previous game. Now I don’t need to restart at floor one when I want to get the second piece of the map.

Earlier, I talked about that this game is influenced by the other Zelda games. While writing, I realized something. The main core of the game is the exact same as the first Zelda game on Nintendo DS. Just swap the boat for the train and there we go. I can safely say that if you enjoyed Phantom Hourglass, you will enjoy Spirit Tracks for sure!

The controls for this game aren’t very different from Phantom Hourglass but you can feel that there are improvements. This is something I can’t explain without me saying that you need to try it out for yourself. A lot of people find the control scheme a negative since you can’t control Link with the D-Pad. Honestly, I don’t think that should be an issue. Since you get more control over Link thanks to the control scheme.

One thing does bug me a bit, the sections with the microphone are a bit picky. It’s pretty irritating to blow into the DS mic and move the panflute at the same time. That might just be me, but it’s something that annoyed me.

Zelda, more Zelda!

the-legend-zelda-spirit-tracks-multiplayer-screens-4

So, I want to talk about the multiplayer for a bit now. I honestly think that the multiplayer is just amazing. I was even able to convince MiseryLC to play a few games with me. He doesn’t even like handheld games one bit. At first glance, it looks pretty much the same then Phantom Hourglass. But in this battle mode you don’t control the spirits, you control Link.

Your goal is to collect as many triforce gems as possible before the time runs out. There are various power-ups that might help you on your quest. There are even power-ups to steal gems from the other players.

I have to say, that playing this is pretty tense. I played this game with my sister when the game was just released. The memories are just amazing. I think the multiplayer is a well made addition to the game.

So, is the gameplay of the main game actually any good? Actually, yes. It has a lot of fun moments that can pull you inside the game. While I was researching about this game, I read a lot of complaints about people that find that the game is too easy. I can agree there. Apart from some bosses, this game isn’t going to give you a challenge. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention. The best way to put it is that as soon as you know what you are doing, the game will be no big challenge.

Is this game short? That’s another complaint I read a couple of times. My answer to that is, not completely. The full game will take you a few hours to complete. I think I was able to beat Spirit Tracks in a ~ 25 hours. So, it isn’t short. But since the game is a bit on the easy side, you can finish the dungeons rather quickly. This might leave you with the hunger for more. And that might be the cause of the dungeons being too short.

Travelling around

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A negative to me is that there aren’t as many tools to play around with, compared to your standard Zelda game. You can actually count the amount of items in your inventory on your two hands. That feels like the game is lacking in content. Also, one item is almost never used outside of the dungeons. That is the sand wand. At the other hand, the dungeons do use the items pretty well. Apart from the sand wand, I never got the feeling an item was under used.

There is one mechanic that this game has that I adore. In Phantom Hourglass, you always had ghosts that hunted after you. Well, in the central dungeon. Well, in this game, you will become able to control a spirit. How this exactly works, I will leave up to you to discover, but believe me, it’s such a blast to play.

The puzzles in this game are excellent. They won’t be too hard for veteran players to figure out. But they will challenge the target audience of this game, which are children between the age of 7 – 10.

So, this game has besides the usual dungeon exploring, also some quests. Before you can enter the dungeons you need to do a challenge. One of them is figuring out how a cursed woods works and another one is pairing up citizens for patrol duty.

They are a fun distraction from the dungeons and they are really fun to do. You will be able to make use of the feature that you can write on your map.

There is also a big side quest. While riding with your train, you might see bunnies hopping around. In this side quest, you will get a net to capture those bunnies. When you see them, you need to play a mini-game to capture them. After that, you can deliver them to RabbitLand. Believe me, it’s worth doing this side quest. Because the reward to capture all the bunnies is really worth it.

Review the rest?

the_legend_of_zelda_spirit_tracks_thumb30So, now that I have talked about the gameplay and the story, I have a few things left to talk about in this review. Let’s talk first about the replayability of this game. Because this is an adventure game, they replay value is rather low. I have replayed this game a few times since I actually enjoy playing this game.

Graphically this game looks stunning to be a DS title. Each area looks detailed and alive. The art style of this game has the potential to draw any Zelda fan in. I didn’t had any moment where I thought that the visuals weren’t good.

The animation of this game is really smooth and well done. Together with the pretty visuals, the game is eye-candy for the DS. What I mean here is that this is one of the best looking games on the Nintendo DS in it’s genre. I even dare say that visually, this game is better then Phantom Hourglass.

Last but not least, the music. When I heard the orchestrated version on the special music disc that I got with Skyword Sword… Well, it made me emotional. The soundtrack of this game is really amazing. I listen to it from time to time, remembering how much fun I had playing through this game. The soundtrack is one of the strongest points in this game. Together with the amazing sound design, I have nothing bad to say about it.

Well, I think I will leave it here for this review. I covered almost everything of what I wanted to cover. And don’t worry, I left something for you guys to discover when you play this game. For now, it’s time to move on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The microphone sections are a bit too picky in my taste.

– Too few items to play around with.

– I expected a bit more of the story.

– The game is a bit too much at the easy side.

The good:

+ Great length.

+ Amazing visuals.

+ A veteran will feel right at home.

+ Amazing music.

+ Interesting gameplay. Both in single and mutliplayer.

+ Great side quests.

Final thoughts:

So, another one of my longer reviews. I honestly think that this game is one of the best games in the Nintendo DS library. Too bad that so many companies dumped their “games” on the DS. For this reason, gems like this game get lost underneath the pile of shovelware.

This game is an excellent title for each DS or 3DS owner. It comes highly recommend. Even after 5 years, it’s still pretty great to play. So, I truly urge you to play this game. When you have played Phantom Hourglass, you will be really happy with the updates they did to this title.

If you would ask me what my favorite game is, Phantom Hourglass or Spirit Tracks… Well, I can’t tell. I honestly enjoyed both games equally. And with that bit of knowledge about me, I want to say thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed read this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article in the future. If you want to be kept up-to-date with everything I do, I recommend that you follow me on Twitter. My username is @nekojonez. And when you don’t have a Twitter account, you can just bookmark my Twitter to see my latest updates!

Score: 80/100

First Impression: Kirby – Mass Attack (DS) ~ Plural For Kirby?

kirby-mass-attackOfficial site

So, what’s the plural for Kirby? I never thought I would ask myself that question. The plural that most people use is Kirbies. Thinking about the rule in English grammar. If the singular ends with a -y, the plural is -ies. You might be thinking, what in the name of holy handhelds is this blogger talking about? Well, in this article we are going to take a look at Kirby Mass Attack on the Nintendo DS. It’s going to be a first impression since I haven’t finished the game. And like my friends the Cynical Bastards said in one of their videos: “You need  to beat a game before you review it.” Otherwise, I might have to write several articles to update the previous one. And I don’t plan to write as many articles as there are Kirbies in this game. So yeah, I’m enjoying this game. But is it actually good? Is more Kirbies, more fun? You probably know already that Kirby is mostly used when Nintendo wants to try out new gameplay ideas. This, of course, is one of them. Now, I think my mind is getting into pieces, just like Kirby is this game. Don’t worry, I won’t continue using this joke in the rest of the article. I think I’m ready to finally take a look at this game. Oh yeah, one thing. Feel free to leave a comment about this article and or your opinion on this game.

Kirby is fun

 kirby-mass-attack-whispy-thumbA few days ago, I was playing with my niece on my Wii. We were playing Kirby Adventure Wii. (Which is Kirby’s Return To Dreamland in the NSTC region) She had a blast. Kirby is indeed fun. The story on the other hand is always similar to the Mario series. I don’t want to say that the story is weak or anything, it’s just difficult to make an interesting story for a platformer.

In this game, Kirby is cursed and split into 10 Kirbies. But the bad guy, the Skull gang, was smart enough to also split the power in ten. So, what this means is, the story explains why you can’t fly or suck up enemies.

I can’t be too harsh on the story since it does what it’s supposed too. It draws the children in to the game and makes an interesting setting for veteran players. Up until the point I have played this game, it will present nothing interesting for older players in terms of story. But then again, I already said it makes for an interesting setting.

If you played the previous Kirby games on DS, you are in luck. There are some things in the story that really surprised me. Certain characters have an interesting role in the plot. And that made me hope for seeing the story expand more then just the introduction. I’m secretly hoping that the story will be more present then in a main Mario game. But I fear for that. The story won’t develop more unless you beat the game. So, no explaining why you go to another world next I suppose.

How does it play?

kirby-mass-attack-nintendo-ds-1319642235-052_m

A screenshot in another language? Interesting right? This game plays very different then your normal Kirby game but it feels similar. Like the screenshot here, you also recognize certain things that are typical for a Kirby game.

I already told you guys earlier that you can’t fly or suck up enemies in this game. So, you will have to be smart to defeat your enemies.

This game really benefits from being on the DS. The use of both screens is just amazing. You have a nice overview of your score, amount of Kirbies and medals on your top screen. The bottom screen is used for the actual gameplay.

I have my doubts about the controls, honestly. I can understand that everything is done on a touchscreen, but I sometimes get the impression that a few button commands would help this game. This might just be how I feel about this game, and maybe the rest of the game might prove me wrong.

One thing that will be a negative in some people their eyes is the fact that you loose all your Kirbies if you go from world to world. I honestly find that a great idea. It helps the challenge of this game. Talking about that, this game isn’t really easy. But it’s not hard either.

The problem with this is game is that’s it’s a bit too unique for a Kirby game. When you want to reach a higher up platform, you where able to get Kirby to fly. Now, you have to actually group up the Kirbies and drag them up. Hoping that you can do it in time since if the meter runs out, they all drop to the ground.

My final thoughts about the gameplay is that it’s very interesting and a great spin on your standard platformer game. But you need to get used to it. I will take a more in-depth look in the review.

Clones?

Kirby Mass Attack Title Screen

I know that this game tries to be child-friendly but I think that clones was a bad choice of words. But explain that, would take us too far for just a little nitpick.

The game really delivers in being child-friendly. The visuals of this game are cute and colorful. They are just what you would expect from a Kirby game. The animation is nearly flawless. If only it was a bit more clear if you were either going to defeat the enemy or if the enemy will be able to throw you off. You can’t really make it out.

I can’t really talk about the game’s length just yet. Since I’m now in the 2nd world of the game. If we look at previous Kirby games, I think we might expect a solid ~ 20 – 30 hours game. Please, don’t take my word for it, since I’m not that good in guessing the length of games.

Interestingly enough, this game has achievements. Yes, achievements. But I will comment about them in my review. But there is something else that is a negative for me. There are mini-games included in this game. But sadly enough, you unlock them way too fast. I nearly unlocked 1/2 of them by simply beating the first world. I just hope that there are more mini-games then shown.

So, that will conclude my first impression of this game. When I ever finish this game, I will surely write a review to talk a bit more in-depth about this game. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this one. Hopefully I can welcome you in another article.

Review #030: Legend Of A Ninja – A Shadow To Remember v1.5 (PC ~ Download) ~ Vapor Wills

Shad to Remember WebsiteOfficial website

So, this game will be my only exception on my theme of this month. Anyways, the developers of this game asked me to review their game. Before I start, I want to thank them for giving me this oppertunity. They praised me for my fair reviews. So, yeah. Let’s give this game a fair review. Also, feel free to leave a comment about what you think of this article and or the game. 

Bad omens

study-your-body

Before I start talking about the story, I want to talk about the menu. The option menu is a big disaster. Key rebindings don’t work and looking at the option menu, you get the impression that the game is controllable with a controller. I tried with my wireless XBOX360 controller, and it didn’t work.

The option menu is pretty confusing, and if people who aren’t very familiar with games like myself would try to work with this option menu, it’s just going to end bad. Terms like BGM (background music) and BGS (background sound) show up. Also, what’s up with the “reduce character flickering”? My final issue with the option menu is that when you launch this game in full screen, it doesn’t launch it in widescreen. So, prepare for black bars.

So, I want to start the actual game.  While I was creating the name of my character, I noticed that the background that is scrolling in the background is cut-off. You can clearly see when a new one starts. It takes you out of the experience.

 The person I mailed back and forth with said that the story is the most important aspect of the game. You play as a ninja who is about to meet a legendary ninja. Yet, as soon as you start talking, you have the impression that the guy is not what he appears to be.

The story is rather interesting, yet there are some flaws with it. There are some parts of dialogue that don’t sound very grammatically correct or have some flaws in them. Like words missing or plurals missing. Also, the writing isn’t really consistent. Some words sometimes appear in color, and sometimes they don’t. Also, at certain points it’s too consistent. Dear developer, if your character does something while he is talking, don’t write “*he looks at the door.*” Since, we already know that he is a he!

Also, the story has some holes in it. There are some inconsistencies in the writing. Another flaw of the writing is that all of the characters are forgettable. There isn’t much that is really memorable of this story. It’s just another ninja story. Because the developer used too many different terms, you don’t have time to emerge as a player.

RPG or adventure game?

punch-to-the-stomachSo, this game is marketed as a RPG. I know that the engine used limits the game. But I do feel like there could have been done a lot more then what I played. Why am I saying this? That’s because the RPG elements in this game are totally broken.

 The first enemies you encounter can easily kill you. But don’t worry, the game is programmed to be forgiving. So… you get your health restored like nothing happened? Sure. Okay, fine. That isn’t very broken isn’t it?

Oh, but I’m not done yet. The creator tried to make an interesting twist in the battling of enemies. After 3 rounds, the battle is over. If you win, you get XP and gold. If you loose, you get healed. Yes, you get healed. That’s way to forgiving.

Also, the amount of XP and gold you get is just laughable. When you level up, you aren’t able to defeat other monsters at all. If I counted how many battles I won compared to the amount I lost, I think there would be a 20 – 80 ratio. Yes, I lost more battles then I won them.

This makes me to believe that this game would be better if they dropped the whole RPG elements from the game. I honestly get the impression that they are just there to make the game be longer to beat. If only it was actually thought out, it wouldn’t be such a big issue.

Breaking the game

dangerous-mission

Sadly enough, I was able to “break” the game. What I mean by that is that I was able to make actions that stopped me from progressing. Yes, killing progress. If you kill either one of two characters, you can’t finish a side quest and you can’t finish the story. Meaning you have to grind and defeat the final boss. And this is pretty early in the game. Because you just left your own town.

There are some places where the triggers for some events are placed wrong. Like when you move up or down at the side of an area, you move to another area. It’s weird to explain but if you play it for yourself, you will understand what I mean.

I even had one time, in the northern woods, I was able to leave the map.  Speaking about the map, you aren’t allowed in some of the towns if you don’t have anything to be there for. “Port Town looks calm.” And you back away. Or “You need a guide to travel here” at the mountains. Such a real shame if the “dungeon” is easy enough to conquer in one try easily.

This game has more problems then what I have talked about in this article. The music is pretty interesting and there is quite a lot potential for this game to grow. But in the state it’s in now, it feels unfinished and broken. Weather without any sound effects, random encounters in towns? Yeah, those are two other issues.

In the summary I will briefly talk about the things I haven’t talked about yet in this review. But I have one question for the developers to think about. How are you going to give updates to your buyers? Are you going to mail them after you uploaded them to Amazon?

Conclusion

The good:

+ Turning the story of a writing into a game.

+ The music is quite nice.

+ The idea behind the game has quite a lot of potential.

+ You can choose different options that make each playthrough different.

The bad:

– Various grammar issues in the story.

– Generic design of the characters and enemies.

– RPG elements are broken.

–  You are able to get stuck with one action.

– …

Final thoughts:

Is this game worth it? Maybe, depends if you like homemade RPG’s. Is it worth the asking price? Honestly, I don’t think so. I played version v1.5 and I based my review on it.

I honestly think that this game misses a lot of polish. Something you can only achieve by play testing over and over again. Trying out very single thing that a player might do.

This game is one that has to grow. The website as well. The screenshots used in this review come from the website. That way I discovered that the website is running WordPress, and I know that you can do a lot more then what’s the current state of the site at the time of the review.

If the game gets an update and fixes some of the issues I have talked about, I surely would love to give it a go and write an update article on this. But the current state of the game is just a mess. There is so much potential here, but the negatives of the game are way worse then the positives.

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this. Thanks again to the developers to send me a review copy for reviewing this game. I’ll look forward to any future updates that might fix the game’s problems.

Score: 35/100

Game Music: My Favorites – Numbero 9: Nintendo (3)DS Month Special!

KorgDS10NA

Read more gaming music articles.

Since this month’s theme is the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS, in this new music article, I will list some of my favorite tracks of the system. New readers, in this series I talk about my favorite tracks in the games I have played. So, when I haven’t played a game, I won’t talk about it. I will explain also why I selected the track or I talk about the feelings and history it has with me. I have a few rules though. I only select original tracks. So, I don’t select remixes of the tracks. Also, to limit myself, I only select one track per game per article. So, if I want to talk about 2 tracks of the same Kirby game, I have to do that over two articles. My biggest fear is always that I might have talked about a track in the past. When you ever notice that I talked about a song twice, feel free to leave me a comment to let me know. In that case, I will add an additional track to my next article in the series to make up for it. You could leave other comments as well of course. Like what your opinion is on the games, music and or the article. Also, for anyone wondering, yes this game is real. There is really a synthesizer on the DS. 

#1: Time Hollow – Friends

Time_HollowLink

I recently reviewed this game. So, why not included one of it’s tracks in this article? When I publish everything according to how I planned it for this month, it should be the previous article!

So, this track is very lighthearted and pretty upbeat. I do have to admit that I sometimes place this track to the wrong game. Such a shame. One day, I confused it with another track from the game Lux Pain called Pumpkin Pon. It has similar elements.

From now on, I will try to avoid getting the two mixed up. Because I wrote an article on this, so I have to remember right?

I was planning to write something unique here, using the elements of the game. But when I read over it twice, I noticed that I might spoil a bit of the story. And I want to avoid that. Like I said in the introduction of my review. Anyways, give this one a listen. 🙂

#2: Suikoden Tierkreis – By the pride of the sword

suikoden_tierkreisLink

I was amazed when I found out that I haven’t talked about this track yet! I wrote an article about this game in the past, a first impression. Since I have been playing it again lately, it has been keeping me up at night. Yeah, I fell in love with this game. The concept, the story, the gameplay… I love it all.

The game does have it’s flaws though, yet the soundtrack isn’t one of them. Not at all actually! The soundtrack is one of the strong points in this gem of a RPG.

I used to RP in the past on my forum and I used this theme for my main character! I liked it that much. Up until now, I use to listen to this style of music when I’m writing a story about a hero that leaves on a journey. The music has inspired me to do all sorts of crazy twists in my stories.

Anyways, give it a listen for yourself. Since I’m blinded by pure love for this game.

 #3: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity – Ending

PMGTI

Link

Let’s pick one of the 3DS library. And this track of the soundtrack is just amazing. You finally finished the game and you have beaten the final boss. Now, you see the story play out. Like I said in my review of the game, the ending of this game will make you emotional.

Listing to this amazing piece of music while seeing the credits roll feels so good. I felt rewarded when I heard this song. Honestly, I’m considering making this my cellphone ringtone or my alarm clock. I love it that much.

Lately, all games are going for a more orchestrated version of their soundtrack. It still blows me off my socks to hear that they do this also for portable games. This gives me hope in seeing more amazing adventures coming to my portable systems.

I just don’t feel as rewarded as I finish a game on a console. Maybe it’s the nostalgia for portable gaming or might it be something else? Who knows?

Anyways, I think I have said enough about this track. I encourage you to listen to this amazing piece of music. But this music is “stronger” when you hear it in-game.

#4: Okamiden – Preparing for action

Okamiden-titleLink

Remember how I talked a while ago about Okami? Well, there is a sequel of that game. On the Nintendo DS! And it works great! I’m even planning to write a review of this game in this DS themed month.

If I don’t write an article about this game this month, you may be sure that one day I will write about this! Since this is one underrated gem on the DS. I’m really hoping to see a 3rd game in the Okami series. So, Capcom, get to work please!

About the music, this is another case of “sounds better in-game”. The whole soundtrack of Okami and Okamiden is amazing to listen too. If you would ask what my favorite track is in the game, I wouldn’t be able to answer. Since I do enjoy them all. I have some that I love more then others, but there is no track that really stands out for me. Yeah.

 #5: The Legend Of Zelda – Spirit Tracks – Realm Overworld

The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_Spirit_Tracks_(Europe)Link

I do remember the hate and trolling this game got when it was announced. Link in a train? A lot of people made fun of it. While at first it looked like a strange idea for a Zelda game, in the end, it worked out in my opinion.

While the game was exciting, I honestly think they could have done a little bit more with the train mechanic. But, hey, this article isn’t mean to review the game. That’s for later this month. (Or I might change my mind and review Phantom Hourglass).

Anyways, I was hyped for this game. When I finally got my hands on this game, I enjoyed it a whole lot. This game has several winks to previous titles. Even in the music. The overworld track reminds me a bit of the ocean theme and the Hyrule field theme.

I think the soundtrack of this game is one of the best soundtracks in a handheld Zelda game. While it’s dangerous to say that, since you have Ocarina of Time on 3DS (remake) and that’s a remake of many people their favorite game.

Closing words

There we go, 5 tracks picked from the Nintendo (3)DS library that I consider as amazing tunes. It’s quite clear that I can’t pick a favorite piece of music in games. I mean, I nearly wrote ten articles about it.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading and listing to the music. As I said in the introduction, feel free to leave a comment. I read them all! But this will do it for this article. I hope to see you in one of my next articles.

Review #029: Time Hollow (DS) ~ DAT Themesong.

Time_HollowWikipedia entry

Alright, in order to celebrate some milestones, it’s time to review a game that’s very special to me. I begged Konami to make a sequel of this game. But why? Is this game really so good that it deserves a sequel or am I just being hopeful because I love this game? Before writing this review I replayed the whole game. Just to be sure I wasn’t going to forget anything when I would review this game. I have beaten this game 3 times. I might have beaten it more then 3 times, I honestly don’t remember. This game is extremely memorable to me because I can relate with the main character. Not only that, the soundtrack just helps me write. And the main theme, yes, the main theme. I selected that once in an article about my favorite music tracks in games. So, I don’t have to explain myself there. So, before we continue, this game is a visual novel and adventure game. Like Ace Attorney or Professor Layton. So, because of that, this game falls into my favorite game genre ever. Because this game’s strongest point is the story, I decided to not have any spoilers here! YAY! Anyways, let’s get to reviewing this game. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on the game. 

I open my eyes, to another day.

time-hollow-1In this game, you play as Ethan. His birthday is the next day. After you meet his family and the basic characters are set, the story flips the tables on you and takes you on quite a ride. Yes, his parents go missing. They aren’t kidnapped. Since Ethan had a nightmare. In that nightmare, he saw his parents fleeing a burning building through a portal.

That’s all I’ll tell you about the story. Apart from my views about it, of course. So, the story is amazingly written. The build up to the final part is thrilling. The story has several chapters. As the title suggests, you will have to mess with the time and past events. I’m just blown away by how the problems you have to solve can build up to the actual villain of the game.

But here we hit on of the biggest weak points of the game. The game is short. Not as short as Lili’s: Child Of Geos, but I was able to beat this game in a week. Maybe my experience with adventure games helped me, but still, comparing it to other adventure games on the Nintendo DS, this one is too short.

At the other hand, this isn’t such a bad point. The story doesn’t get messy with too many events which makes the story really memorable. The writers truly focused on the personality of the characters. You see them grow and change with each change you make. In the end, you will start to hate certain characters and get attached to others. Mostly due to the brilliant writing. The story never feels; how to say this? Made longer on purpose so you have a longer game to play. It truly benefits the game since you get to know the location better!

Taking back what was mine.

Ethan_Vin_Chronos_dialogueAlso, CAPCOM, take notes please. In this game they nailed the voice acting perfectly. They didn’t use voice acting outside the cutscenes. While using it outside the cutscenes was rather interesting, you can create awkward breaks in it. While there aren’t many cutscenes in this game, they did place them nicely. After solving a big problem, being rewarded with a cutscene is such a sweet feeling.

Sound design wise, they did an amazing job. The sound effects make the game feel truly alive. While I would have used a bit more sound effects if I made the game, I have nothing bad to say about them. Even the voice acting is way better compared to another Konami title I really love as well, Suikoden Tierkreis.

So, the gameplay of this game. Well, it’s pretty interesting. You are presented with a problem. It’s up to you to solve it using Ethan’s special powers. It has something to do with time. Yet, you still want to find out what happened to your parents. The game requires you going to certain places and talking to people.

It doesn’t sound like much, yet it’s strangely addicting. Mostly because the story is really well made, I wanted to continue to play!

In the end

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The difficulty in this game lies into if you are familiar with the style of gameplay or not. Like I said earlier, this game is rather at the short side for veteran adventure gamers. At the other hand, I do expect new players to the genre getting stuck at certain parts. To avoid that you get frustrated, there is a character that’s “training her psychic abilities”. She is basically giving you a clue what to do next or where to go next.

Visually, this game really shines. On this front, I honestly do disagree with the other reviewers. I have seen review where they give this game only a 5 or 6 on the visual aspect. And I don’t think that’s enough. Because most of this game is told through it’s presentation. This game is more like an interactive book. There isn’t a lot of animation to talk about, apart from the flashbacks and cutscenes. I honestly loved revisiting certain places just because of the visual polish this game got.

So, before we go to my conclusion, I do think I have to speak my mind about the replay value. This game has a small bit of replay value. Because there are two different endings. You can only unlock the 2nd ending once you finished the game. Also, the 2nd ending is more for… Whoops, I nearly spoiled a part of the game.

Yeah, because of the genre of this game, there isn’t any replay value besides the second ending. The only time you might replay it, is when you want to review it or just feel like replaying this game.

So, time to move on to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Way too short.

– Failed to bring innovation to the genre, where there was potential.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ …

Final thoughts:

The biggest setback of this game is that’s it’s short. Way to short. Because of that, I see how a lot of people won’t really get into this game. Honestly, playing through the game for a couple of times, I wasn’t able to find any other negative besides just the length of the game.

I honestly get the feeling that this game is polished to perfection instead of made longer. I might just be blinded a bit because my love for this game. Who knows? I invite you to play this game and tell me what you think. If you liked games like Ace Attorney or Trace Memory on the DS, it would be a shame if you missed out on this one!

Score: 75/100