Monthly Archives: September 2015

Game Quicky: Cubis 2 (PC) ~ Puzzle Game

49146489.mumbo-jumbo-cubis-2-pcOfficial website

On my Twitter I said, I felt uninspired tonight. So, this week’s article will be a rather short one. At first I was doubting to even write an article at all. But then I found this game again. Cubis 2. A game that was on various platforms back in the day. A causal puzzle game from a very unknown studio. In the USA, it was released by Mumbo Jumbo. Here in Europe, it was released by Easy Interactive. The European publisher is unknown to me. I barely find information about it. In any case, let’s take a look to this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the game.

Gameplay

shotSo, the goal of this game is rather easy. Get rid of the cubes. You can shoot cubes from the bottom or the right side. You can stack a max of three blocks.

When a block falls, it cracks. A cracked block disappears when you shoot a block through it. A half block can slide under other blocks while full blocks just push the block away.

When three cubes of the same color meet, they disappear. If any blocks besides that have the same color, the suffer the same fate. Star blocks are worth more points.

There is one other block I’m forgetting. That is the ghost block. This block can change the color of the block it touches. The other details of the gameplay, well… If it interests you, a version of this game is easy to find and play.

In the puzzle mode, your goal is to get rid of all star blocks before the time runs out. In arcade mode, your goal is the same but you don’t need to remove all the stars from the board, you need to get rid of a certain amount of blocks.

The positive

FG_Cubis2_Screenshot_2The visual presentation of this game is rather good. You have various visual styles you can easily switch between. (While a change in visuals require a reboot of the game. 😦 )

The game plays nicely and barely requires a tutorial. Once you got the hang of it, you can play it for hours.

While 50 levels might sound limited, you have a level creator. There the sky is the limit. Well, your creativity actually.

The interface is informative and displays everything in an orderly fashion. No big complaints there.

The music and sound effects are neat. The suit the game quite nicely. While I would think that the game could have used a bit more music tracks… I don’t mind it that much.

Since this game is based on color puzzles, I find it a really nice touch that they included an option for colorblinds.

The negative

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So, this game has some flaws. You can’t share your level creations easily. That’s a first major flaw in this game.

Also, when I visited the creator’s website, Google Chrome actually blocked it.

What ever game mode you click in the main menu… It’s irrelevant. Since you get sent to another menu to select your level and such. Where you can switch game modes again. The main menu and level select menu could have been merged into one.

Also, the two game modes are just too similar in my opinion. This is a real bummer, since you can get very creative with this gameplay style.

But the biggest flaw in this game is that no matter if you play the puzzle or the arcade mode.. You play the same levels. That’s lazy in my opinion.

Alright, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Let’s get to the conclusion.

Conclusion

This is a casual game that is okay. If I would score it, I think I would give it a 65/100. It’s a small game that went somewhat big. It has some major flaws that my inner critic can’t overlook. Yet, this game can be fun to play.

A funny fact, my anti-virus actually stopped me from installing this game. It matched some signatures. I sent them a mail to report this false positive. I didn’t had any replies yet.

So, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to meet you at another article. But until then, take care!

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First Impressions: Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain

Due to delivery issues in my country, I had to wait until the ninth of September before I could get my hands on the PC version of MGS V. I’m someone who prefers physical media, so even though I could’ve bought it earlier on Steam, I wanted the actual disc. The wait was worth it. Something really great happened in the first fifteen minutes of the game that just got me hooked. It may be the greatest thing I have ever seen in a game. Beware: SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST THREE HOURS OR SO AHEAD.

As some of you may know, I am a big fan of the series. I’ve been waiting for this game for a long time. Years even. It’s almost as if the setting of this game has been perfectly altered to my preferences. It’s set in 1984, my favourite year in history, also in my favourite decade. The year that in my eyes epitomises the ’80s. You also play with my favourite character of the series: Big Boss.

After the events of the previous prologue game (that was only about 90 minutes long), MGS V: Ground Zeroes, Big Boss wakes up in a hospital from a coma he’d been in for nine years. This is where something great happens. I don’t know if people have been picking up on this and I haven’t been looking around on the Internet, since I am trying to avoid any and all spoilers. Any content whatsoever.

MIRROR

About fifteen minutes into the game, the doctor tells you people are still looking for you, wanting to kill you. For your own safety, you should change your appearance. This is when we get a very well done character creation screen where we get to change our face. There are a hell of a lot of options, almost as if you are creating your own Sim in the Sims.

Now here’s what makes this great. I was worried about this. I wanted to play with Big Boss as I knew him, so I tried to create a character that kind of looked like the older, grey haired Big Boss. After I was done, though, I was pleasantly surprised. The doctor gets killed before he can carry out the operations. You are still Big Boss.

I really hope this never gets brought up, ever again in the game. Not because I don’t want to change Big Boss’s appearance (which is also true), but because this would make it the single greatest joke I have ever seen in a game. If this is never mentioned again, the creators of the game spent a great deal of time coding a character creation screen that works really well, and all of that for a joke. Possibly it’s a tool they created in-engine to make their own characters to make development easier, but still. I’m a little afraid it’s going to be brought up again, but I remain hopeful.

I feel it’s maybe a nod to MGS 2, where you start the game playing as Solid Snake, but the second part (and majority) is played with Raiden, an all-new character. This displeased many gamers, so it would be funny if that is part of why this was put into the game. For a second, it looked like they were pulling a similar kind of trick; making us think we’re going to play with Big Boss, but forcing us to change his appearance. Then they pull the rug out from under us. “Nah, we’d never do that to you again.” It feels like they’re saying with a smile.

But what about the game itself? I played through the entire prologue, the hospital section, in about an hour. Truth be told, it is not the best gameplay ever, and it uses a trope I don’t very much care for. I’d describe it as a playable cutscene, where you take a few dozen steps or perform a few little actions and the game takes over for a few minutes, showing us more of what’s going on with the story.

I remember people complaining that MGS 4 had too many and too lengthy cutscenes. This was something that never bothered me, since I love the story, but I can understand the complaints. The ending cutscene was a little shy of an hour, so I feel like in MGS V, they have made a compromise. Instead of having the first hour be an hour long cutscene, it has some sort of gameplay. All in all, despite not liking this trope in general, I was deeply engrossed in what was going on, making this still very enjoyable.

After that, the game really starts and we are dropped in a very expansive, open world. You wander around Afghanistan looking for a captured friend. How you tackle this mission is all up to you. Will you visit a few outposts first, gathering intel, or will you go to where he’s captured right away? It’s all up to you. This is where the game really comes to life. The amount of player choice and agency is incredible, and perhaps a stark contrast when compared with the first hour, but I understand why that had to be done. It’s like the first act of a movie: you need to establish the world and the situation, so I’m not upset at all.

So gameplay is great and the visuals? They’re stunning. Digital Foundry did an article about the PC version, which is incredibly well optimised. (This is also pretty much the only content on the Internet about MGS V I looked at.) Even low-end CPU’s like an i3 can run this game, no problem, provided you have a decent GPU. The standard graphical settings come very close to the PS4 and XBone settings, but when you bear in mind that most of those are set at “HIGH” or “MEDIUM”, you can imagine how gorgeous this game looks at “ULTRA” settings.

Fortunately, my GPU’s are beefy enough to handle the highest possible settings. A high draw distance, loads of post-processing effects, high quality lighting and textures, and even volumetric clouds. The first three hours seem very promising. I love the visuals, the gameplay is great and the story already has me hooked, so guess what I’ll be doing today?

First Impression: Boom Blox (Wii) ~ Demolishing with Strategy.

BoomBlox_EAwii_TfrontWikipedia entry

If you haven’t noticed by my nickname (NekoJonez), I’m a huge fan of Indiana Jones. When I found out that the director of that movie series had his hand in a puzzle game, I was interested. I started searching for it, but everywhere I found it… It was a bit too expensive to my taste. And when I found it cheap second hand, the disc was too damaged to play the game. Yet, everything changed when my sister called me a few days ago. She found a copy on a yard sale for 10€ (~ 11.5 USD) She called me up and I said she could buy it for me. When she came home, I popped it in my Wii and started playing it. So, what did I think of it? That’s the reason why I wrote this article. And as usual, feel free to write a comment with your thoughts on this game and/or the content of this article. 

More than just destroying

351309-boom-blox-wii-screenshot-try-to-knock-down-all-these-gem-bloxThis game has a story mode. When I started playing this game and came across the story mode, I was surprised. The story isn’t over the top or just dumb, it’s silly and it works perfectly for a causal game of this kind.

I won’t talk about the story that much since I haven’t played it enough to give a proper comment on it.

What I love the most is that the gameplay is extremely simple, yet very addictive. Other reviewers describe it as “try to get a structure to fall over”. Which is only half of it. Some levels in this game are more a puzzle where you need to pull blocks out carefully so that some blocks don’t fall to the ground.

Some blocks give you negative points and they are extremely nicely placed in certain puzzles. This game can be extremely difficult and will be challenging. Thankfully, this game teaches you the ropes before it gets too difficult.

You have so many different modes in this game, it pleases me. From you tossing a block around with a sticky hand or throwing balls… It’s all great fun. Each mode has its own challenges. But the game can get “nasty” on you. In one level I had to defend a castle and they surrounded spawn points with bomb blocks which were close to the castle I had to defend in the first place.

Presentation

351314-boom-blox-wii-screenshot-red-bomb-blox-explode-when-hit

If the designers of this game reads this article, you guys and/or girls deserve a pat on the back. This game is eye candy and it’s extremely charming. The actual attention to detail is well done.

Also, I love it when you miss a throw and the blow continues flying in the background… well, the audience will jump away from the ball. Or when you manage to hit an audience member, they will do the same animation as a single block being hit.

The animation of this game, well, that’s a hard one. There isn’t that much animation in the game when you compare it to different games. The falling and flying of the blocks is really well done, it would be a shame if it wasn’t.

I have only one complaint with the presentation. It might also be with the controls. The button to advance the menus has a function in game. It caused some accidental throws.

Also, during my playthroughs, I missed an option to bring up how many throws would give you gold, silver or bronze.

So, now that we moved on to controls; well they are pretty good. Apart from not registered throws, I didn’t have any game breaking issues with it.

Multiplayer

351322-boom-blox-wii-screenshot-remove-blocks-one-by-one

Some modes I haven’t tried out yet. There is a multiplayer mode in this game, which makes the game that more interesting. Without looking it up or anything like that, I guess it’s either random mini-games or you trying to compete in puzzles to get the highest score.

The other modes I haven’t tried out yet are some puzzle modes. Since I was mostly interested in the sticky hand one and the one where you had portal blocks that disappeared when you hit them.

Like the coluorful and happy visuals, the soundtrack and sound effects are happy and enjoyable. They put you in a really amusing mood and really help to set a nice and light-hearted atmosphere.

I didn’t want to say this, but I think I have to mention it. Did you guys know that this game was made by EA? I don’t play a lot of EA games since most of the games they produce aren’t in my genres I play often. Yet, I beg you EA, bring this series back one day. It’s underrated and it should be more in the spotlight.

Before I forget to talk about it, the physics engine is the star of this game. Since I learned how to write some basic code, I am always amazed by how games like this work under the hood. How gravity is programmed into the game. The gravity in this game is really well implemented. I wish I could see this game with Wii Motion Plus, but alas. This game was released before that.

So, that was everything I wanted to talk about in this first impression. While it’s a bit shorter then usual, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article, but until then, take care~ Jonez.