Gamer’s Thoughts: The Visual Novel

Photo-2014-08-21-17-31-45Lately, I see various games appearing on Steam. Visual novels. That interests me quite a lot. But the let down is huge when I find out that it are kinetic novels. What is a visual novel actually and why is it such an underrated game genre? I want to talk about my favorite game genre in this article and hopefully make some of you guys interested in the visual novel genre. As usual, feel free to write a comment about the visual novel games and or the content of this article.

What makes a game a visual novel?

999-.9.Hours.9.Persons.9.Doors.full.934360So, when is a game a visual novel? It’s quite logical that a visual novel is more of a novel then a game. When the novel isn’t interactive, you have a kinetic novel. A kinetic novel is a novel that a movie you can read.

A visual novel has interaction. Sometimes “repetitive actions” and sometimes not. Virtue’s Last Reward for example always has the same gameplay. Solve the puzzle to find the solution to open the safe. Corpse Party on the other hand isn’t repetitive. You have to try and find the other survivors.

A visual novel could be easily confused with a very heavy story driven RPG. Those two genres are two similar, yet different genres. Since visual novels play more on the imagination of the player instead of the skills. If you have ever played an Ace Attorney game, you might have noticed that there isn’t much animation outside the characters. It’s the writing that pulls people in.

Underrated

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What do I like so much about visual novels? I can’t really explain. I think the reason is that I feel more as the main character of a story. I feel that my fate is already planned out and that I have to look for the right path.

Now visual novels nearly have always one solution. Even when a game has different endings, you will most likely come across the final true ending.

Games nowadays are getting “lazy”. The graphics try to paint the most beautiful picture and the sound and music tries to blow you off your chair. But visual novels, that isn’t the goal. You don’t get fancy graphics, you mostly get static images and text boxes.

Somehow, visual novels have the power to make you come invested in a story more then other games have. I rarely felt touched by an amazing game when there wasn’t a deep story. When I’m playing a visual novel, it’s very hard for other games to distract me out of that trance. Visual novels are that good in my opinion.

 Visual novels try to pull the gamers in with clever writing. They don’t try to make it a massive big show, they create an interesting plot line. Think about it this way, how many times did you start to loose interest in the side quests or the side goals and started to go for the main goals in a game?

Maybe it’s just my interest. My favorite game genre is adventures and my favorite subgenre is visual novel. Since I’m interested in interesting stories and such. I can’t honestly really answer why, but I think that visual novels deserve more credit then they get. It has it’s issues of course, like for some people there is too much text, but hey, name me one genre that doesn’t have issues.

Anyways, to close off this article, let’s take a short look at 2 great visual novels I played in my life.

Examples

The Walking Dead

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Even when I’m not a fan of the series, you got to give it to this game. TellTale Games makes excellent modern visual novels. While the typical text boxes aren’t there, the main focus is the story and how your choices influences the outcome.

It’s a great and modern example of an excellent visual novel. Too bad it doesn’t interest me as much as other visual novels do. If you want to know why I’m not such a fan, you might want to read my first impression. But my buddy Zach (aka Dark_Legend) is a big fan of it, so you might want to read his articles about it.

Ghost Trick

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In this game you play as a death cop and you have to solve your own murder. The catch is that you can rewind time to save somebodies life. With this power you try to figure out who wanted you dead.

This game is tricky to place. It’s a visual novel alright but the gameplay… is it a puzzle game? Action game? Adventure game? I don’t really know.

I wish CapCom announced a sequel of this game since it’s a good game. Not only the story but the gameplay was rather interesting. I liked the idea very much and I wish the game was a bit longer.

Closing thoughts

Most visual novels are rather lengthy. I haven’t seen a visual novel you would be able to finish in a week. Actually, I have seen one as the exception on the rule. Time Hollow.

The most irritating thing is getting stuck in these games. Since you don’t have to grind or anything of that nature, getting stuck can get even the most veteran visual novel player to put down the game.

It’s quite clear that I’m not done talking about visual novels. I have some other things I want to mention but that will be for another article. I want to compare the visual novel genre with other genres. Or it might be an idea for a podcast.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for reading and hopefully I can welcome you at another article. Take care.

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Game Quicky – Gamer’s Thoughts: HomeSick Beta 0.1

HomesickRecently I joined a crew to make do the testing for a game called HomeSick. It’s going to run on the RPG Maker engine. I have reviewed a game in the past, so yeah. Remember the Legend of the Ninja? Anyways, in this article I’ll talk about the first demo they put out for us to test. The testing is private, so I won’t provide a download link. Also, they announced that they are going to release an updated version in the upcoming days, so I might write an update article then. Anyways, let’s dive right into this game. Let’s analyse it. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment on the game and or the content of this article. 

Early access

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I want to thank my friends over at Gamers’Hive to grant me access to this beta testing, even while the spots where full. Crying Man Studio’s are the developers of this game. They release development video’s here and there. The fans can give input into the game by giving comments. This is clearly going to be a labor of love.

Compared to what I played in the past in the engine, the direction they are going with this game is looking good. Graphically, the game looks nice. Everything fits together nicely. While there are some sprites I would change to match the emotions of the story, it’s a known bug.

A suggestion to the developers from me is that in the graveyard, you could put the names of the beta testers on a tomb stone? Like the beta testers are buried there? It sounds fun, but it’s totally up to you guys.

Testing it

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Because this game is at it’s alpha / beta stage, this game is far from finished. I could start nitpicking on some collision boxes not being there and etc., but that’s when the game is ready to be polished and finished up.

There are a few things I didn’t like from my first experience. The soundtrack of this game is really great and helps to immerse yourself into the world that they created. Until I heard the theme of the battles. It feels out of place. It doesn’t feel action-y enough. It’s too calm to be an action theme.

What I mostly do to judge a theme is listing to the music with my eyes closed. If I’m able to create a similar scene that fits the music then is actually displayed on screen, then the music is fitting. But the battle theme didn’t pass.

They know that there are several spelling errors. Honestly, I thought that the writing was too generic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay, but you feel the Dutch influence as well. I offered to help rewrite some lines, but I haven’t gotten a reply. Simply because not so long after I started to write this article.

Final thoughts

I know, this is an extremely short article. Most of the bugs have been caught that I wanted to talk about so, I think it’s not really needed to talk about them in depth in my article.

It might be better if I wait until the updated beta is released and then take a more in depth look into it.  This was my initial experience and so far, it’s going good. I wish the developers the best of luck and cross my fingers that the final product will be amazing.

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Until next time guys, take care!

Review: Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal (GBC) ~ Pokémon 2

Pokémon_box_art_-_Gold_VersionWikipedia entry

I have an objection. This game can actually be played on the original Game Boy. Well, only the Gold & Silver versions. Crystal has to be played on the good old original Game Boy. Anyway, you might have seen this one coming. Since I played this game a lot as a kid, and I’m writing the final articles for the GB(C) month, well, why not talk about this game? It’s one of the biggest in everybody’s top 10 lists. It will appear each and every time. So, yeah. Without further ado, I’ll review the first Pokémon game I actually finished. As always, feel free to leave a comment on the content of this article and or the game. 

Story

grass-hidingI have a big surprise for you guys. My best friend was recently playing this game, so why not ask him to do a co-op review of this game? So, lets both give our opinions. He played Pokémon Crystal and I played Pokémon Gold.

Miz: I think that some people are wrong. Some people think that the end of the game is beating the elite 4. Yet, this is the midway point in the game. Team Rocket is still present in the game, but they aren’t the big bad.  There is actually no real story. The game is just a series of side quests, with a vague goal.

Some areas are totally optional and can be skipped without hindering your progress.

Me: The story is just lacking. Miz asked a valid question, is there actually any story? After some discussing, we both agreed that the game is just side-quests with a vague goal. As soon as you reach Kanto, the amount of side quests go down.

The game was first supposed to be a sequel of Pokémon Blue and Red, but somehow it evolved into Pokémon Gold and Silver. Truth to be told, the fact that there are side-quests, is an improvement over Pokémon Red & Blue, they were completely absent in that game.

Music and sound

Miz: It’s pretty cozy, but when you ride your bike a lot… It can get annoying and repetitive quickly. I don’t like the PokéCenter tune. The cries of the game are pretty sweet. Steelix and Espeon are one of my favorites.

Me: I agree with Miz, but the sound when a Pokémon is on low health. That’s extremely annoying. I’m so glad that they somewhat fixed this in the 3DS releases. The surf theme is actually one of my favorite themes.

Graphics, (world) design and animation

gfs_15878_2_26_midMiz: The animation is pretty basic, but that’s due to the Game Boy’s limitations. It does give a different atmosphere. Because it’s all similar, nothing is bad. Graphically, the game is pretty sweet. With the limited resources, they did manage to give you the right feel.

The first few routes are just too big and too empty compared to all the other routes, while the other routes get really lively. At some routes, you can barely evade the grass.

Me: Something I didn’t like is that the battle animations were exclusive to Pokémon Silver. They were included in Pokémon Crystal. But I played Pokémon Gold. Why didn’t they include them there? I agree that the animation is basic, but it serves as a stepping stone towards the newer generation.

Some puzzles still work on my nerves. The ice sliding puzzle is one of the worst. While it’s a fun concept and great puzzle, I got stuck several times. Even worse is the time that you had three switches to open doors in the basement of the mall. When Miz and I were discussing our opinions for this review, it turns out that we both don’t like that puzzle.

Gameplay & controls

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Miz: The controls are pretty solid, but the bike controls can be pretty annoying to control sometimes. Compared to newer generations, the controls aren’t that good. But we can’t blame the game for that, since the Game Boy color was limited.

Some items are totally overpriced. Like a repel. It’s a handy item, but it doesn’t last long.

The overall gameplay didn’t get many new things, but they tweaked a lot of features. The item holding for example was a nice addition.

The improved breeding is also a great update in my opinion.

Me: Well, I clearly remember that you need to restart each HM before you can use it’s action. This made the stone sliding puzzle in the Ice Path tedious.

The addition of the XP bar is one of my favorites. I can finally see how long it will take before my Pokémon levels up. Another pleasant addition were the berries. You can either make Pokéballs out of them or use them to heal your Pokémon.

The intern clock and the events is just a fun addition. But something I didn’t like was that some legendary Pokémon can only be caught on certain days. Speaking about the internal clock, the biggest update to the game is the day & night cycle. It has effect on the wild Pokémon. According to Miz, it’s more occurring in the Crystal version.

Difficulty

Miz: This is a weird beast. When you rush through it, it might give you trouble. But if you play it normally, the game can get easy.

Me: I can’t add anything special to Miz-‘s statement, but the cheat/glitch of cloning is just a cheap way out.

Postgame

Both: There is barely anything to do anymore. Apart from the Battle Tower in Crystal, there is nothing to do.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Difficulty can be selected by playing.

– The music can become repetitive/annoying.

– The unneeded calls of trainers.

– Boring postgame.

– Kanto has some wasted potential.

The good:

+ High replay value.

+ Good animation, world design for it’s time.

+ Day & night cycle.

+ Better story than the original.

Final thoughts:

Miz finds that this game is a long term arcade-ish game. Here and there is a challenge, but you mostly continue to play. Most of the time you can set your own challenge. 

To me, it’s the biggest Pokémon game out there. While the game isn’t perfect, it does start to show its age. But honestly, it’s so well crafted, that the negatives can be overlooked for the hours of fun it provides.

Anyway, I think we mentioned everything. There might be some things that we didn’t mention that are for you guys and girls to discover. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Until the next one! Take care~

Score Miz: 82/100

Score NekoJonez: 80/100

Our score: 81/100