NekoJonez – July 2017 Update

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July is almost over, and I have a lot of updates to share with you. I decided to combine them in one article, so without any further ado, here we go. 

Rebranding

You might have noticed it already, but a month ago, I decided to rebrand my blog. I didn’t make the new artwork and icon myself since I’m honestly not good with programs like Photoshop and other art programs. I can do some really basic editing, but that’s about it.

Thankfully a friend of mine helped me out. Thanks to Zoef, we got a new amazing looking banner and icon. I can’t thank him enough since it looks amazing. It shows perfectly what my blog is about and that was exactly what I was going for.

In the past month, I have tried to look for every place that had my old artwork and changed it. I think I changed everything, but when I noticed that something has my old icon, I’ll change it as soon as I can.

NekoJonez got an award!

Best_technology_blogs_2017 (1)

So, something special happened. Last week, I got an email from Market Inspector that I was nominated for “Best Technology Blog of 2017”. I was really happy when I received it. So, I answered their questions to get my nomination in for real.

A week later, I was working on another article while I heard the notification sound on my phone. It was an email from Market Inspector, saying that I actually won in the gaming category. Here is a link to their article announcing the winners.

I’m honored to receive this award. I feel recognized for all the time I have put into this blog. So, thank you Market Inspector for this award!

Big projects and collabs

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First of all, one of my biggest projects yet I have teased on Twitter is finally here. I finished “My favorite gaming music #20“. While the writing was done for a while, I wanted each game to have a separate article with a sort of review for each game. Then I noticed that 5-6 games didn’t have its own article. So, that’s why it took so long, I had to write a couple of other articles before I was able to finish the gaming music article.

Another big project that is currently in the works is a big Zelda project. It’s going to be a project that I’m not doing alone. Currently, we are aiming to finish the article at the end of August. If anything changes, I’ll announce it on Twitter of course.

In other news, I decided to not list all articles I get quoted in, in an update article on my blog. So, if you want to know when I helped writing in an article on another blog, you should really follow me on Twitter. Otherwise, you might miss one of the vacation spots I would take in gaming.

By now, you might be wondering what the image is I added a bit above this paragraph. Well, I’m a part of the Blogger Blitz event that Adventure Rules created. This is a “battle” between bloggers to try in convince you why a chosen game character is better than another character. But here is the catch, each blogger had to choose his or her own character. I picked Indiana Jones. More information about the event can be read on the Adventure Rules blog. On the 31st July, I’ll try to convince you why Indiana Jones is the better in mass producing and selling a certain iconic item than Lightning Farron. The blogger I’m up against is Lightning Ellen. Good luck and may the best writer win!

Schedule for the 2nd part of 2017

Believe it or not, I created a sort of schedule for the 2nd part of 2017. Currently, it’s just a rough planning of the articles I want to write in 2017. Notice that I said, rough planning. That means I can still move around my schedule and/or change it completely.

As usual, I won’t share the schedule. I want to keep it a surprise to everyone and I also change so frequently in my schedule, I would go crazy writing an update article or change it every time I make a change. The only thing I’m going to reveal is that my schedule is filled with game-related articles. I mean with that, first impressions and reviews.

Also, I decided to keep my 1 article/week schedule. Yet, when I’m able to write more than one article a week and I’m in the writing mood, I won’t stop myself. But, starting from September, that might be impossible to write more than once a week. Since then evening classes start up again and I have a few things going on with my acting group.

For this week, I’m still planning a few articles. If I have the time, I might even publish more than 2 articles this week. But, that all depends if I have the time. So, no promises.

NekoJonez is on Steam

Remember that I wrote an article about a game called “The Last Tree“? Well, it’s released on Steam now. The developer emailed me to tell me, that a quote from my article was featured on the Steam Store page! Here is a screenshot:

The last tree Steam

So, that’s why I decided to write a review about the game. So, I’m going to try to finish that article before the end of August! So, keep your eyes out for that. Thank you to the developer of this game for quoting me on Steam. This means a lot to me.

End of updates

So, that are all the updates I wanted to share for this month. The past few months were quite eventful for my blog and my personal life and I’m enjoying all of it. I hope you enjoyed reading this update article as much as I enjoyed writing this.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

 

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Game Music: My Favorites – Numerbo # 20: My favorite soundtracks ever!

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7More music article right here

It’s time. Time to make harsh decisions. Which soundtracks are currently my favorite soundtracks? I have thought long and hard about this, and I have come up with this list. The list is based on how much I played the game, how much I listen to the soundtrack and how much of the game sticks with me. Some might come as a surprise, but some won’t. But, I’m curious. What are your favorite soundtracks? Feel free to leave a come in the comment section with them or you can comment on my selection too. But keep it civil, that’s all I ask. In any case, here we go. Time to list my favorite soundtracks in this moment of time. Oh, be warned, this is a long article. So, yeah. 

Remember, the choices are my opinion. I haven’t played all games on each system and some soundtracks are picked for personal reasons. I’m not saying that my choices are the best soundtracks on the system, I’m saying here which soundtracks are my favorite on the system.

Side note about the honorable mentions:

  • I limited myself to only list 5 games as honorable mentions. To avoid this article’s length getting out of hand.
  • While I know that some games are multi-platform. When it’s listed with a certain console, that means I played that game on that console. Or if I played the game on more than one console, it means I prefer the soundtrack on that console the most.
  • I only list games that I own and/or have played for an extended amount of time (at least 5 hours or more)

Favorite PC soundtrack: Rise & Fall – Civilizations At War

_-Rise-Fall-Civilizations-at-War-PC-_YouTube playlist

First Impression

Long time readers of my blog know before I started blogging, I used to write fantasy stories. One of my favorite stories was a nature fantasy medieval world where a lot mattered upon the value and amount of land you owned.

When I bought this game, I was right in an RTS-period. My favorite games were Age Of Mythology and Age Of Empires II/III. On that moment in time, I was writing a climax in the story I described earlier. Just give the soundtrack a listen and try to imagine a story like I described. Doesn’t it write itself?

Also, it helps a lot that this game had a gimmick that I find amazing. You can control your main hero during battles. I wish that this was in more games today. Well, with controlling I mean, you control your hero in first-person! Yup, first-person. This game is such a hidden gem. I rarely hear it mentioned when people talk about old-school RTS games. I even have a virtual machine setup just to play this game. Since the annoying copy protection is a real pain in the backside when you try to run it on Windows Vista or newer. But, recently I fixed an old PC and installed Windows XP on it and now I play the game on that machine.

Just listing to the soundtrack while writing this segment makes me very nostalgic. I wonder, has anybody played this game? Let me know! Since I barely find let’s plays or reviews from other people online.

Honorable mentions: Halo: Combat Evolved, Tomb Raider Legend, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Elder Scrolls III – Morrowind and Europa Universalis IV

Favorite Gameboy/Gameboy Color soundtrack: The Legend Of Zelda – Oracle Of Ages & Oracle of Seasons aka The Oracle Games

260px-OracleofagesYouTube playlist with both games’ soundtrack

Oracle of Ages review

Oracle of Seasons review

Well, before you call me a cheater, hear me out. When you finish one game, you get a code to transfer some data over to the other game. In that game, you play through the whole game to see the real ending of these games. So, technically, this is just one giant game split up into two big standalone games. So, TLOZOOSthat’s why there is sort of, kind of, two games for this entry.

 In any case, this was one I was pretty certain about. While I have a lot of soundtracks I enjoy listing to from the Gameboy & Gameboy Color period, the price must to go to my favorite games on the system. In my eyes, these games are nearly flawless. Apart from some bad sound effects and sound mixing here and there, this game is flawless.

So, these are my favorite Zelda games. I love the story, gameplay, music, art design and the memories attached to these two titles. But, that are stories for another time.

Honorable mentions: Pokémon Gold/Silver & Crystal, Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets, Super Mario Land 3: Warioland, Kirby’s Dreamland 2 and Tetris

Favorite GBA soundtrack:  Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire & Emerald

Ruby_EN_boxartYouTube playlist

My review of this game

So, I decided to give the GBA a separate entry on this list because the sound chip of the GBA is so much different than the Gameboy & Gameboy Color’s so it wouldn’t be fair to put them all in one entry.

In any case, it’s time to talk about my 2nd favorite Pokémon games ever made. And the soundtrack in this game might use a lot of trumpets and French horn, but I honestly don’t mind one bit about it. The soundtrack is enjoyable to listen to it.

The secret bases in this game is a feature I messed around with a lot. As a kid, I always imagined that it was my own gym. And wouldn’t you know it, they use exactly that blur when they advertise the remakes of that game. “Build secret bases, build it like your own gym.” The childhood nostalgia is strong for this one.

Honorable mentions: Nicktoons – Battle For Vulcano Island, The Legend Of Zelda – Minish Cap, Golden Sun, Mario & Luigi – Superstar Saga and Sims 2

Favorite DS soundtrack: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of Darkness/Time & Sky

Full OST250px-MD_Sky_EN_boxart

Review of the game

So, the DS is my favorite portable system ever. The follow-up system, the 3DS is an amazing replacement. I had the hardest time choosing my favorite soundtrack for this system and even deciding on only 5 honorable mentions.

In the end, I went with a soundtrack of a game that brings back a lot of memories. From both playing the game and the memories of the events that happened in my personal life.

And that “I don’t want to say goodbye” track. Honestly, when I listen to it nowadays, I get teary eyes sometimes. The writing of that part was done so good. It’s a great piece. I love hearing remixes of it since the structure of the song is just so recognizable. Just play the game until the end and I think you will understand why this song has so many emotions for everybody that played this game.

Honorable mentions: Ace Attorney Trails & Tribulations, 999: 9 Hours, 9 Doors, 9 People, Time Hollow, Suikoden Tierkreis and Clubhouse Games

Favorite 3DS soundtrack: Stella Glow

SGCoverRGBYouTube Playlist

My review of the game

I’m glad that I choose to separate the DS and 3DS library for this article. I wouldn’t have been wise to combine those two for one entry. I would never be able to choose one soundtrack.

But, I’m getting off topic. Why is Stella Glow my favorite 3DS soundtrack? Well, because the game’s story is just so well written, I love it to bits. When I downloaded the demo for this game, I was hooked on the story. I placed a note in my budget of the upcoming month to buy this game. But then, thanks to ButtonSmashers, I got a free review copy of this game. Thanks again! Since I discovered this amazing gem of a game.

I know that the game has flaws, but in my eyes; it’s one of the best games I have played on the 3DS. If somebody asks me for recommendations to play on the 3DS, I always mention this game. Just read my review if you want to know why I think this game is so good. Oh, and I decided to replay the game from the beginning. To relive the whole experience again. But this time, I’ll pick different options! A story heavy RPG with replay value, what do you want more?

Honorable mentions: Zero Time Dilemma, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 – Fafnir KnightProfessor Layton vs Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, Fire Emblem Awakening and Kirby Triple Deluxe

My favorite Wii U soundtrack: Hyrule Warriors

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_BoxartSoundtrack

First Impression

To pick the best soundtrack on the Wii U was quite a tricky one. While there are so many great games released on the system, why did I choose for Hyrule Warriors?

First, because this is one of the best Zelda spin-off games I have ever played. It introduced me to a whole new genre I never really paid attention to. And now, I’m playing Destiny Warrior games when I have the time.

Second, this soundtrack is so fun to listen to. It brings back personal memories from when I was writing fantasy stories.

And my last reason, it has amazing remixes of existing Zelda songs. So, the nostalgia is strong in this one.

While I have finished the main campaign for a long time now, I haven’t finished adventure mode yet. But, writing about this game reminds me, I should review this game and give my final opinion on it… One thing is for sure, this game has an amazing soundtrack!

Honorable mentions: Captian Toad – Treasure Tracker, Lego City Undercover, Rayman Legends, Bayonetta 2 and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

My favorite PSP soundtrack: Corpse Party Blood Driven

Corpse Party (USA)

Soundtrack playlist (Includes soundtrack of sequel)

Review of this game

If you haven’t seen this one coming, shame on you. Corpse Party Blood Driven is one of the first gore horror games I ever played. I own this game one several different platforms.

The story and setting of this game are just amazing. I’m just so happy that this game is getting the recognition it deserves after famous YouTubers did a let’s play of it. The only thing I wish is that there were more new games made instead of the remakes. But hey, more Corpse Party is more Corpse Party. So, I’m not complaining that much.

Honorable mentions:  Shadow Of Memories, Legend Of Heroes – Trails in the Sky, Jeanne D’Arc, Ape Escape – On The Loose and Castlevania – The Dracula X Chronicles

My favorite PS1 soundtrack: Tomb Raider II

Tomb_Raider_II.png

Full OST

My review

As a kid, I heard a lot about the Tomb Raider franchise. My first Tomb Raider game was Tomb Raider Chronicles. I fell in love with the gameplay and it reminded me of all the adventure games I played.

Fast forward to 2014. I got my hands on an old desktop and I fixed it up, formatted the hard drive and installed Windows98 SE on it. Now, I started playing all the old Tomb Raider games. While I play all 5 Tomb Raider games on that machine in any order I feel like playing them, Tomb Raider II is a special case. Since I’m trying to beat that game too on the original PlayStation. Yup, I’m playing the PC version and the PS One version. For my playstyle, I prefer the computer edition since I am not too used to the PlayStation controller, to be honest.

The only thing that I dislike about this soundtrack is that it’s rather short. The whole soundtrack is just a half hour to forty minutes long. It’s a shame since the soundtrack for TR II is pretty great. It comes recommend when you love early adventure games’ soundtracks. But, to be honest, I don’t really mind too much about the short length of the soundtrack since the lack of music sometimes sets a great atmosphere for raiding tombs. Maybe we are too spoiled nowadays with music in every single area or event.

Honorable mentions: Rayman, Time Crisis, Final Fantasy 7, A Bug’s Life, Tarzan

My favorite SNES soundtrack: Lufia II

Lufia_II.jpg

Full soundtrack

First Impression

So, I love the SNES. It’s one of the earliest consoles I played over at my cousin’s house. But, my favorite SNES soundtrack is a game that I played in recent years.

The name of the game is Lufia II. Why is this my favorite soundtrack on the SNES. Well, because I own the boxed copy that got translated to my own mother language. Yes, Lufia II got fully translated into Dutch. The fact that I can play a classic RPG in my native language is just mind blowing to me. Dutch isn’t a widely spoken language, so it amazes me that they translated an RPG into Dutch. So, when I think about the SNES, I often think about that fact and the soundtrack comes right along with it.

Maybe the fact that when my uncle gave me his SNES, this was the first game I started playing has something to do with it, I have no clue. But hey, this game is really awesome and I should try and finish it.

Honorable mentions: Secret of Mana, StarWing, The Legend Of Zelda – A Link To The Past, Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG – The Legend Of The Seven Stars

My favorite Wii soundtrack: Okami

okami-wii-boxart

Soundtrack part 1Soundtrack part 2

First Impression

Do I think that Okami is a Zelda clone? Interesting question. Well, it’s a Zelda-style game, but the unique mechanic of the brush is enough for me to make it stand out.

The visual presentation, the setting, the music and the gameplay are all things that make me love this game. I think that Okami is one of the best games ever made on the Wii without a doubt. I honestly think that the game is better with the mention controls. At least for me, since I can’t imagine drawing with an analog stick. But hey, that’s my opinion.

I really have to finish this game, since I finished the sequel Okamiden. I also secretly hope that Okami 2 or a new entry in the series will be a reality one day. So, please be true rumors that went around at E3 2016. Please.

Honorable mentions: The Legend Of Zelda – Skyward Sword, BoomBlocks, Pandora’s Tower, Kirby Epic Yarn and Super Smash Brawl

My favorite PS2 soundtrack: Dragon Quest 8: Journey Of The Cursed King

Dragon_Quest_VIII_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King

Full soundtrack

First impression

I know that this game got a remake/port on the 3DS last year. I bought the game, but I honestly enjoy it more on the PS2. Just my nostalgia speaking, I guess.

So, I learned about the Dragon Quest series when I played Dragon Quest IX on the DS. I was so hooked on that game, I wanted to play more Dragon Quest. So, when I was in my local game store and saw this game second hand, I bought it. I played it here and there but never got really far. But, last summer, I played a lot of this game during my break and I enjoyed myself a whole lot. It brought back memories of me playing Dragon Quest IX on my DS when I was younger.

At the moment of writing, I’m in Peregrin Quay. I know that isn’t too far, but hey, this game is quite grindy. But, I want to finish this game but that’s gonna take a long time.

Honorable mentions: God Of War, Shadow of the Colossus, Rachet & Clank, Escape From Monkey Island and Grand Theft Auto Vice City

My favorite Android soundtrack: Game Dev Story

YouTube playlistGameDevStory

Review of this game

Well, I think it’s no secret that I like the soundtrack of this game after you have read my review of the game.

There are times I listen to different music when I’m playing this game, but I play this game more with the actual soundtrack playing. It’s quite good and I recommend it to everybody who enjoys catchy tunes.

Honorable mentions: Quell, Monument Valley, Lara Croft Go, The Room and Thomas Was Alone

Final thoughts

I promised a special article, so here it is! A quite lengthy article, I know. At first, I was going to limit myself to a top 5 soundtracks, but then I decided… Hey, let’s pick for each game system one soundtrack. I had to limit myself to 5 honorable mentions/system, otherwise, the honorable mentions of some systems would be longer than the talk about the game and soundtrack itself.  So, I still have a lot of tracks and stuff to talk about for another couple of gaming music articles.

I think it’s quite clear that I love game music. I often listen to soundtracks while I’m at work or while I’m writing articles. I can’t really explain why. That love for gaming music is the reason why I love writing these articles.

In any case, it’s time to wrap this article up since it has been going on for way too long! I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

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First Impression: Dragon Quest VIII – Journey of the Cursed King (PS2) ~ Let’s Go Forward!

Dragon_Quest_VIII_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King

Wikipedia entry

So, I have something to admit, I actually wanted to talk about this game last summer. But, I wrote about other games and this game got on my “to review” list. Let’s fix that today. Let’s talk about the journey of the cursed king. A journey I own on two different systems. Yes, this game got a remake for the 3DS. But, I haven’t played a lot of the 3DS remake, so I’m going to look at the PS2 version. Oh, if you are wondering what the differences are between this version and the 3DS remake, RPGSite.net wrote a great piece about it. In any case, that’s enough rambling. Let’s get this first impression started since I haven’t beaten the whole game. For this review, I am give or take 25% through the story. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article and/or the game.

Direct story

153107-Dragon_Quest_-_The_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King_(Europe,_Australia)_(En,Fr,De,Es,It)-3

In most RPG’s I played, the story mostly starts with a peaceful setting and then something big happens and the world needs to be saved. Yet, this story starts out a bit more “humble”.

You start looking for a jester that cursed the king and the princess into a monster and a horse. If you want to know what happened before that, you have to read the manual. So far, the story is very enjoyable. The writing is great and the voice acting is really great. But for a better analysis of the story, I think I have to get further into the game.

The gameplay of this game is a good but it has some flaws. In this game, there are random encounters. In some cases, there is an overkill of random encounters. I had several times where each 5 to 10 steps I took, got me in a random battle. Thankfully, the 3DS version fixes this with showing the enemies in the overworld so you can avoid them if you want.

Yet, it isn’t a great idea to avoid them at all, at least all the time. Since not only does the game keeps a counter with how many times you fled a battle, you will need all the experience you can get. This game can be quite hard and you will have to grind if you want to survive.

So, you will have to get yourself a lot of healing items before you can fight bosses and enter into caves. I recommend that you at least raise 2-3 levels before you venture into a new area. Also, explore each area as much as you can. Since there are a lot of side quests that might help you on your journey and make the grinding less repetitive.

Orchestral

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I want to touch upon a few things that could have improved the game. I seriously miss a run button. Sometimes, I feel that you walk so slow and getting somewhere takes a bit too long.

Another thing that I don’t really like about this game is the inventory system. For certain tasks, it takes too many steps to preform. Like moving an item from the central inventory to a characters inventory. At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the split inventories but after a while, I learned to appriciate it. It adds realism into the game, since you can give certain characters items to help them in battle, like your allies are carrying a bit of the resources on your journey. But it also adds a layer of strategy. To whom do you give healing items and such.

Something that didn’t need any improvement is the soundtrack. Why is the soundtrack in this game so good? I mean, running around the open fields exploring the world with an amazing orchestral soundtrack, what’s not to love. On top of that, visually, this game looks amazing. I had several times that I just stopped moving and looked around. This game looks amazing and still holds up today.

You venture through various locations that each have an unique feel. Not only that, in some cases, you can play as the pet mouse of the main character and let it run around in buildings to open locked doors or to get more information about a certain quest.

If you have forgotten what your main quest was, you can always ask your team mates when you press the “Start” button. With this, I think it’s a great time to talk about the controls. They are great, the only complaint I have is that the menu button isn’t the start button. But, this nitpick might be because my brain is hardwired by handheld games.

Spoiled by 3DS

Dragon-Quest-VIII-Screenshot-1

So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game a whole lot. Like I said, this game looks and sounds amazing. If you have any doubt, I also mean the animations too, they are great as well.

The only thing I lack sometimes is a sort of ingame map. Maybe I have looked over it, but there isn’t any map to speak off. I’m somebody who easily gets distracted and looses their way easily. So, I use the in-game map to navigate. Also, I’m bad in remembering names like street names, town names and things like that. It’s so bad sometimes that I forget the streetnames of the neighbouring streets of the street I live at. Yeah. So, an in-game map with names would be so lovely. That’s why I “cheat” sometimes and have an overworld map open on my tablet if I need to take a quick look at it. But only the overworld map.

Like I said various times in this first impression, I think that this game is great but the 3DS improved on a lot of things. It also added additional content. But, why don’t I play it on the 3DS then? Well, for two reasons. My first reason is that I owned this game on PS2 first and I gotten to far and didn’t want to restart. And my second reason is that I think this game looks a bit better on a bigger screen than the 3DS screen.

So far, this game has a high score in my book. But, due to the high random encounter rate, the need for griding and the sometimes slow flow of the game; I have to get in the right mindset but I can play this game. But if I do play the game, I have play sessions that clock in at 3 hours or more each time I boot this game up. That’s why I haven’t gotten too far in this game in over a year. According to some sources, you can get over 100 hours of gameplay out of this game, so I have a long away ahead of me if I want to complete this game.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. If I ever beat this game, I will write a review about it. But for now, I have to thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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San Diego Comic-Con Official Screening “ART OF THE GAME: Ukiyo-e Heroes”

ART OF THE GAME UH Poster v07

So, do you guys and girls remember the movie Ukiyo-E Heroes? It’s a documentary that I wrote about a month or two ago. Well, the crew emailed me again to give some interesting news. So, that’s why I’m writing a quick follow-up article telling you that there is going to be some new things!

So, if you haven’t read the original article, here is a quick rundown.

A journey of discovery into how a Canadian craftsman and an American designer with a father and son generation gap who collaborate to revive the ancient Japanese woodcut (Ukiyo-e) using pop-culture icons: Super Mario and Pokémon, and now Shadow of the Colossus.

If you are interested and you missed the original screening, well then you are in luck! Since there will be a new screening on SD-ComicCon ’17! This will happen on July 22 at 8:20PM.

But wait, there is more. The screening is followed by Q&A with the artist Jed Henry and the director Toru Tokikawa. If you want to know more, follow this link: http://sched.co/BO2t

Also, there is a new trailer that you can enjoy. This trailer can be found currently pinned on their Facebook page.

Sadly enough, I won’t be able to attend the screening; but if you are in the area, I would highly recommend you going to see it. Since the previous screening was a success. Also, there is talk that the documentary might make the journey overseas into Europe.

Before I wrap up this article, I want to share the social media links of this documentary:

Website: https://www.facebook.com/artofthegamedoc/

Reviews & Updates: https://twitter.com/artofthegamedoc

Gifs for gamers: https://artofthegame.tumblr.com/

Fun gifs: https://www.instagram.com/artofthegamedoc/

In any case, that’s everything I have to say in this follow-up article. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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Review: Tomb Raider II (PS1) ~ French Lara

tomb_raider_2_boxWikipedia entry

Before you ask, what the title means… Let me explain that to you. So, I live in Belgium and we have three national languages here. These are Dutch, French and German. So, when I bought this game in a garage sale, I didn’t notice that I bought the French version of the game. Yeah. That’s why I played this game in French. Thankfully, after I had beaten this game I got my hands on the English version and the expansion pack for the PC, so I was able to enjoy the original voice acting. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about my experience with this game on the PlayStation 1. What is my opinion on this game? Let’s find out! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article.

A dagger with power

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In this game, you play as Lara Croft on an adventure for the Dagger of Xian. The legend goes that with this dagger you can turn into a dragon. On the condition that the dagger is in your heart.

In present day, Lara is looking for the dagger. But she has the mafia on her heels.

Personally, I love this story. But that has to do with a few reasons. I enjoy stories about powerful artificats that can transform people or give them supernatural powers. Also, my favorite mythical creature are dragons. So, I’m a little bit bias to the story.

The writing is well done and the voice acting still sort of holds up. What I mean with “sort of” is that the voices are in rather low quality for today’s standards but this game is 10 years old, so I can forgive it for that.

Something I think that could be learned from this game is the fact that this game doesn’t have a real tutorial. I think it’s a great game design philisophy to first learn the player the mechanics in a safe of semi-safe enviroment and after that, you throw in the traps and puzzles. I don’t mean a full on tutorial, but a room where every mechanic can be learned without the fear of dying. Thankfully, you can save the game at any moment in time so you can quickly recover when you made a mistake. On the condition that you have saved often of course.

That is what I thought at first, but when I started messing around in Lara Croft’s manner, guess what… There is in fact a tutorial. So, when you play this game for the first time, I recommend doing the Croft Manner before you go into the main game. Thank me later.

As a side note, the save system is something you have to get used too. My French wasn’t good enough to understand everything of the UI. But, after some trail and error, I was able to figure it out. My advise when you play this game is to save often or you will regret it. There are a lot of traps in this game and when you haven’t saved, you will have to do those all over again.

Speaking about the UI itself, I think it’s amazing. The only complaint I have is that you can’t show Lara’s health at all time on the screen.

Showing it’s age

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I think it isn’t a surprise that this game is showing it’s age. Comparing to later titles in the series, this game hasn’t aged all that well.

But, the PS1 version has some disavantages compared to the PC version. In the PC version, you can have more than one save in a level and in my opinion, it controls better.

The reason that is controls better is, at least according to me, I usually play Tomb Raider games on my PC and rarely on consoles. So, my brain is somewhat hard wired for these old Tomb Raider games, making it trickier for me to play it on a console.

Something that was also present in the PC version is the texture clipping. In some cases or viewing angles, you can see white lines on the screen where the textures start and end.

Visually, this game looks dated. But I personally don’t mind. I think the visuals has still some charm to them. Just the early 3D adventure games that try to go full 3D have so much charm. I wish that more games are created that way, since it’s so nostalgic in my opinion.

The controls of this game are a mixed bag. At most moments, they work fine. But, if don’t play a lot of PlayStation, you might forget which button does what and in stressful trap situations, this will lead to some frustation. But, I had a hard time adjusting to how Lara walks. But, I think that issue has also to do with the annoying camera.

I had several times that the camera didn’t always follow the action. I died so many times because of that, it got frustrating.

Atmosphere

tr2_1The lack of music sometimes creates a great atmosphere. You visit various locations in your journey and in key moments, you get music.

The music in this game is extremely well done in my opinion. Surprisingly enough, according to various sources, the composer of this game worked on the soundtrack for only 3 to 4 months.

The sound effects of this game are still great. These have aged well. Just like the atmosphere of this game. I loved my journey through this game. The gameplay is really enjoyable. There are puzzles that got me stumped and jumping puzzles that I had to attempt more then once, but I didn’t mind. The fact that I can save and reload my game at any place I wanted made the game more forgiving. This game can be difficult in some places, but after playing a level or a section over and over again, you get more skilled and pass more difficult things easier.

You have 18 levels in this game. This game can be finished in give or take 20 hours, if you know what you are doing. Otherwise, it’s a lot of trail and error. Also, if you like exploring, there are three secrets hidden in each stage so you can explore to your hearts content. I wasn’t able to find each secret, so they are pretty well hidden. Each level has it’s own fair share of enemies to kill, puzzles to solve, gaps to jump over and traps to avoid. This adventure is a fun one, but some timed puzzles can be a bit strict. Also, it isn’t always 100% clear where you need to go. But, after some exploring and trying, I was always able to find the path to continue.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. This means it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The controls on the PC version are better.

-The save feature is better in the PC version.

-This game is showing it’s age.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story with great voice acting.

+ Addicitive gameplay.

+ Great music.

+ …

Final thoughts:

While I enjoyed this game a whole lot, I enjoyed it more on the PC. But, would I recommend this game to someone? Well, it all depends. If they are a hardcore Tomb Raider fan, I would say… You haven’t played this game? Shame on you! If they enjoy older games, I would say to give this game a shot. It’s a classic game after all.

This game hasn’t aged well, so you will have to get used to the controls and visual style of the game. But, when you get used to it, you are in for a great adventure that takes you around the globe full of surprises.

Personally, I think that the first 5 Tomb Raider games should have a remake. These games would be a lot of fun for modern gamers if the visuals get polished up.

But even when this game is better on the PC, the PS1 version is still great and fun to play, yet a bit flawed here and there. Too bad that you don’t have the expansion packs in this version.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game, so I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 70/100

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Publishing: Mr Pumpkin Adventure available for PS Vita!

Mr. Pumpkin has lost his memory! Help him regain it by embarking on a grand adventure. Can you solve all of the logic puzzles that will reveal all of his enemies?

Immerse yourself in a game of logic and puzzle-solving that will help Mr. Pumpkin regain his memory. Make your way through an adventure-filled kingdom of plants – 50 wonderful scenes that will take you through this fantastical world on our quest to help Mr. Pumpkin!

Long description

Embark on an adventure in logic with Mr. Pumpkin! Help him regain his memory by traveling through the gorgeous, fantastical plant kingdom. Over 50 varied scenes await you, in which you’ll find pieces of the puzzle that will restore poor Mr. Pumpkin back to health. Escape evil forces and challenge your mind!

Key Features

– One of the most interesting logic games in a while…

– Solid mix of puzzles and logical challenges

– Fantastical world of plants and flowers

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First Impression: Lufia II (SNES) ~ Some Dutch please

Wikipedia entry

A few years ago, my uncle gave me his SNES with a few games. One of them, was a boxed version of Lufia II – Rise of the Sinistrals. After some research, I realized that my copy of the game is rather rare in a way. The cartridges of the game go on eBay for 80€ and up, but the catch is, I have a Dutch version. Since there aren’t too many Dutch speaking people in the world, less cartridges are produced so making the game even more rare. But hey, I don’t think that every collector wants to own a cartridge of a game in a different language they might not understand while there is a version available in their native language. In any case, let’s take a look at this game. Is it even worth that price now or should you pass on it? Here are my impressions after the first few hours of gameplay. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article.

Sidenote: while I know that this game got a remake called Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals on the DS, in this article I’m focusing on the SNES game; simply because I don’t own the remake and haven’t played it.

Casual start

When you start this game, your first mission is “The Training Dungeon”. In this training dungeon, you get the basic explanation of the game mechanics.  But more on that later, first let’s talk about the story of this game.

This game tells the story of how the Sinistrals came to be. Now, this sequel tells a prequel story. But here is the annoying thing, the original game never reached European shores. To make matters even more confusing, they dropped the II from the title here in Europe. Yeah.

So far, the story and writing is very enjoyable. The only complaint is that the Dutch translation feels so out of place. Which is normal, since I’m so used to the English names of items and suddenly seeing them in my native language sounds so foreign to me. But, I haven’t gotten too far in the story, so I will leave that for when I review the game.

But something I really enjoy from the writing is the fact that NPC’s react differently depending on the story. Even when little events happen like somebody cooking some bad food. This gives the game a more alive feeling and I think that’s a serious plus in my books.

If you would start playing this game, beware of the glitches.  Due to the rushed localization, there are a lot of strange bugs and some are save corrupting. This happened to me once and I lost my save and had to start over. Take a good read to avoid bugs before you start playing.

Random no Random encounters

So this game has random no random encounters. I mean with that the game has random encounters and no random encounters. When you are on the overworld, the game has random encounters. But in the dungeons, you don’t have any random encounters.

The meat of the game is mostly in the dungeons. In these places, you can also use your skills. A very useful skill is the Reset Spell. With this spell, you can reset a room to its original position. So, if you screwed up a puzzle, you can reset the room without having to leave it. And this doesn’t cost any mana.

This game is a blast to play. This game is a typical RPG when it comes to battles and exploration. But, it has various elements of The Legend Of Zelda sprinkled in. The gameplay in the dungeons reminded me so much of the Zelda games. If you want to form a picture, think of the Zelda dungeons but instead of beating enemies when they are on screen, you have a RPG-battle screen.

A very useful feature is that you see on your screen how much EXP you still before your level raises by one after you defeated an enemy. It also shows your goal total. The only thing I don’t really like about the battle screen is that in sometimes the health bar and such are simply bars and you don’t see how much health or mana you have left.

I’ll go more in-depth about the gameplay when I have beaten this game and when I write a review of this game. It’s a lot of fun and with great controls, you can’t go wrong. The only thing I would have changed about the controls is the “X” button. This button is used as the menu button, but I think that the Start button would have been a much better choice for this.

Soundtrack Gold!

If you would start talking about the best 16-bit RPG soundtracks, a lot of Square and Enix RPG’s would be mentioned. I honestly think that the soundtrack of this game should be mentioned in those kind of talks.

The soundtrack of this game is amazing. It’s one of the best soundtracks I have heard on the system in my opinion. And believe me, various tracks got stuck in my head even when I had put the game down for a while.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I love the details in the dungeons and the animation is great as well. The artwork for this game is impressive and colorful.

This game is well balanced. There isn’t too much grinding in this game. And honestly, I don’t mind the grinding too much in this game. Something I really like is that you have save platforms right before you go into a room with a boss. I really appreciate that since that way I don’t have to do a whole dungeon over again when I die at the boss.

Speaking about saving, that’s one of the only things I don’t really like about this game. You can only save at save points like a church or on save points in dungeons. But, honestly, that’s nitpicking. No?

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game. So far, I’m enjoying myself a whole lot with this game and I can only praise this game. If you look at other reviews of this game, you will read the same praise. And believe me, this game is worth a lot of praise.

Thank you for reading this article! I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

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(12+) Waifu Fight: Dango Style (PC) ~ Featuring Priom

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Official website

Some time ago, the developers from Waifu Fight Dango Style asked me to take a look at their game. So, today we are going to take a look at it. But, I wanted to do something special. I asked my friend Priom to also take a look at this game. He wrote his review over at Arpegi forum. I advise you to read his review first before you continue to read my article. So, in my article, I’m going to quote his opinion and then write mine. So, we are having a “fight” of our own. Before I try to force out a joke too much, let’s get right into the review of this game. Note, that I have put “12+” in the title. Since some visual elements aren’t for younger audiences. But, hey. Enough stalling. Let’s go reviewing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article. One thing, I have to stress that this review isn’t a paid review!

Note: This game is still under development. So, the things said in this review might have been changed if an update gets released. We both played Alpha v2.18 for this review. 

Do you want to meet the developers of this game? They are going to be attending these cons: Corpus Christi Comic Con in Texas on 22nd – 23th July and San Japan X in Texas on 1st, 2nd and 3rd September.

Continue reading

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Gamers Thoughts: From idea to article

BannerBlog3Today, it’s time to talk about something else. In the past, I have written a few articles on the gaming industry and the blogging world. Today, I’m going to tell you what before I click on the “Publish” button. Yup, let’s talk about the steps I take to create an article for this blog. This is my current process, so things might change in the future. But it might be interesting to share it, no?  Also, to avoid making this article too complicated, I’m only going to talk about how I write my gaming articles like my first impressions, reviews or game quickies. Feel free to leave your methods in the comment section below.

Phase 1: Picking the game

 

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So, how do I choose a game to review? Well, to answer that question, I should answer how do I choose which game to play?

Let’s get the easiest part of the answer out of the way first. Sometimes, I get a mail from a developer asking me to take a look at their game. Then, some emails happen. We discuss what the article should be about and what things I can or can’t mention. I have to stress that I hate censoring. If I’m not always to express my full honest opinion, I’m not going to write the article. Since I think that lying to the readers of the article is a bad idea. On this blog, I always express my honest opinion on the games I play, so that would be too much out of character.

So, the more difficult part of the answer is when I don’t get a mail from the developer to take a look at their game. So, what happens then? In my free time, I play a lot of games and when I find a game that interests me, I write it down on a list. It’s text document in my cloud storage so, I can access it at anytime and anywhere.

While I make schedules for my blog, I’m truly terrible at following them. The reasons for that are emails from developers that I want to first or games that interest me and that I want to write about that aren’t on the schedule. In very rare occasions, I choose the game that I’m going to write about on Sunday morning and then I play the game all day. That happened a few times already.

That’s why I rarely to never share my schedule. Since I know it can change at any moment. Not only thanks to emails from developers but you can never predict life. Also, I think I’m more creative when I don’t plan out my articles too much. Apart from deadlines or agreements with developers, I rarely plan a date for an article.

Phase 2: Playing the game & analyzing it.

This phase speaks for itself. I start playing the game and write down some notes on my phone or tablet. In the past, I wrote everything down. Each thing that could make it in the article was written down.

I stopped doing that. Since I noticed that I didn’t use all my notes to write the article. Also, it broke the immersion and my focus on the game when I had to take notes.

So, what I do for notes now, is write down the things that I shouldn’t forget about the game. And let me tell you when you do this for a few years like I have, you are able to write articles without taking notes sometimes. So hear me out on this, I think that a review or a first impression should be a reflection of your experience. If you are unable to remember some negative aspects like an annoying puzzle or two, a few boring levels or a strange dialogue… I don’t think it’s worth mentioning in an article. But, I’ll go more in-depth about that later in this article.

Last year, I wrote an article where I talked a bit more about this phase. I wrote about how I analyze a game. So, here are a few things I didn’t mention in that article. I’m very picky when it comes to UI. I love it when I don’t have to go through five different menus when I know it would be possible in two menus. If you have a clear menu system, it’s more inviting to the player.

I’m very picky when it comes to UI. I love it when I don’t have to go through five different menus when I know it would be possible in two menus. If you have a clear menu system, it’s more inviting to the player.

I honestly enjoy tutorials to a certain extent. What I mean is that I enjoy tutorials when it explains the basics of the game without holding your hand too much. For example, that the explanation of controls is a sign you choose to read. But, when you have already played the game in the past or when you understand the game mechanics already, you can skip them without an issue.

For how long should you play a game before you can write an article about it? Well, my rule is that when I have played the game for more than 4-5 hours, I can write a first impression about it. I only write a review about games that I have finished or beaten. But, wait, what if the game doesn’t have an end goal or is unbeatable like Tetris? Well, then I review the game when I think I have seen or experienced enough to review the game.

Phase 3: Research & Writing

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So, I have played the game and/or I have beaten it. Now, it’s time to research and write the game. Like I said in a previous article, I have a habit of listening to the soundtrack of the game I’m writing about. This helps me to write and sometimes it helps me to remember the experience.

Also, when I’m writing, I have the game open near me. For example, when I write about a 3DS game, my 3DS is in front of my keyboard while I’m writing. When I want to quickly test something or refresh my memory, it’s just a second way.

Things I always check are Wikipedia/Wikis & Metacritic. I check Wikipedia to check if there are any interesting facts of the game I didn’t know about like it’s development history or something similar. If there isn’t a Wikipedia page or doesn’t have enough information, I look for a Wiki on the game.

Why do I check Metacritic? Well, not for the score or anything of that nature. I just find it very handy to see other articles on the game. What did other people think of the game? What are their positives and negatives?

Another thing I do is the “searchability and presence test”. I enter the name of the game in different search engines and on different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube… to check what other people like or dislike about the game.

That test and the information I get from Metacritic help me to write. Now, I don’t copy somebody else’s opinion, but when you see sentences in my article like this: “A common complaint is …. and I (dis)agree because…” or something along that nature, well, that’s the consequence of that.

A very handy website is howlongtobeat.com. It’s very difficult to tell how long is a game is and this website helps a lot with that. This website allows me to talk about if the game is long enough and things like that.

When I start writing, I try to continue to write everything in one piece. So, when a link needs to be put in, I put it in before I continue with the rest of the article. What I do first is write the introduction and then the headings. After that, I insert the images of that article. Then, I put in brackets what part of the game I’m going to talk about in that paragraph. So, that way I know what I’m going to talk about in and give the article some structure.

So, how do I decide what to put in an article? Well, that’s a tricky question. To be honest, my answer to that is simple. I use my gut feeling. When something doesn’t feel right to mention, I don’t mention it. I also try to give my honest opinion what I think about the game and what I liked and disliked.

How do I decide the length of an article? Well, I try to have around 1000-1500 words. The reason for that is that I find it the perfect length to talk about the game with enough depth. If I make the review longer, it can be because of two reasons, either I have a lot to talk about or I got carried away while writing and I don’t want to cut out certain sections.

After I have written my article and the conclusion, I always go over the article with two spell checkers. I use Grammar.ly  for almost a year now to fix various spelling mistakes and after that, I copy the whole article into a Word document to double check. After that, I read the article myself and fix and/or tweak any other spelling mistakes I can find.

Then, the article is almost ready. I add all the tags and add it to the right category or categories. After that, I click publish and check if the post reached all my social media pages. After that, I update my overview page and go on with my day. I either start up a game that I want to write about next week or do something else.

Wrapping up

So, thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing this. It honestly felt kinda strange writing down how I write articles. Honestly, this is my general workflow but sometimes it differs from article to article slightly.

My main goal with this article is to give a look behind the curtain on how I write articles. Also, I tried to give some tips and tricks if you are a starting blogger looking for some advice. Don’t copy my workflow, but try to improve your own.

I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

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Game Quicky: TuboCity (Android) ~ Rolling Through Tubes

TuboCityIconOfficial website

Today we are going to look at a recently released game for Android & iOS called TuboCity. No, that’s not a typo. The name of the game is TuboCity. It will all make sense when you see the screenshots. It’s not uncommon that the name is mistaken since the developer recently was at a convention where they had to put a post-it note on their sign telling people that’s it’s TuboCity. Ah well, funny anecdotes aside, we are here for a game review. In this game quicky, I’ll talk about what I like and didn’t like in this game. After that, I will wrap up my thoughts in a conclusion. So, ready… set.. HERE WE GO! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article.

The game

In this game, you fly with your ship through space. Your goal is to reach the end if there is an end. So, you are flying through a tube in space. See, I told you it would make sense why the game is called TuboCity.

The bad

I think that there could be some improvements made with the tutorial. Usually, when I TuboCity1play these style of games, I love to test out the tutorial. Is it going to make me repeat the tutorial when I don’t finish the objective? That’s the question I ask myself.

And the tutorial does continue. I died at the last ring in the second tutorial, and it let me continue to the jumping bit. I died at the second ring, and the tutorial lets me continue.

Maybe it’s just me, but I always had a hard time doing the jumps. I never knew when to time it right. Maybe I should replay the tutorial a bit, to train for the jumps. Sometimes I got lucky and made a few, but I died more at the jumps then I passed them.

But, then I found something out. You can also double tap or tap with two fingers to make your ship jump.

Also, there is an option to change the way how you want the jumping to work. You have swipe, double tap, and two finger tap. I prefer double tap the most, to be honest.

You could just make a screen where you put the controls on for players to refresh their memory if they haven’t played your game for a while. I missed that.

I also think that the difficulty curve is a bit too steep. It’s great fun that the game puts you through a randomized tunnel, but I think that the first 10-15 hoops should be easy to do ones. In various runs, I encountered very difficult obstacles that I had a hard time avoiding. Also, I think that the rings are too close to each other. This is a big problem when you timed your jump just a bit too late, you land right when you need to make that vital turn to avoid the next ring.

The good

TuboCity2This game looks visually amazing. The effects and the presentation are all amazing. The visual tube effect is pleasing to the eye. The colors also complement each other and the different ships look great.

Also, I love how they used another color for the rings that you need to jump over. They make them easier to see and give the player a fighting chance.

While this game has ads, they are placed at good spots. They are placed right at the top of your screen. I don’t mind those ads in the games I play. Since they don’t force you to watch them or they aren’t in cheap places that your finger touches them easily.

While this game has just released, I see a lot of potential for future game modes. Like a bonus stage where you must jump through 5 rings in a row for some bonus points.

The music in this game is good. It’s very enjoyable in my opinion. I loved listing to it while I was playing the game.

The controls were responsive. If I went to the right, my ship went to the right. If I went to the left, my ship went to the left. If you don’t enjoy that style of gameplay, there is also an option to invert your playstyle.

I think it’s a great touch to add the contact info of the developers in the app. This way people can easily find your social media to follow the development of your game and contact the developer when needed.

There are microtransactions in the game for new ships, but they are crazy cheap. Thumbs up for that. Seriously, no ridiculous overpriced microtransactions here. And here is the best part of it all, they are optional! You don’t have to pay for them to win the game or to get a high score, it’s just a way to support the developers for their free game.

Yes, did I mention that this game was free? This blows my mind since if they would ask 2,5€ for this game, I would say that you get your money’s worth.

Conclusion

This game is a lot of fun to play. But, due to the tricky jumping, I didn’t enjoy my time with the game. If they made the game a bit beginner friendly and polished the jumping mechanic, I think I would have more fun with the game.

It’s a shame since there are three things I didn’t like about the game. The tutorial needs some work; the difficulty curve makes the game uninviting and the jumping is a bit too tricky. All the other things like the presentation, music, controls, UI… It’s all so well put together.

Maybe the developer will fix this with an update, and then my complaints in this article will be invalid. I wrote this review for version 1.08.

Thank you WhitePot Studios for asking me to look at your game. It was great fun to do. I also must stress that this isn’t a sponsored article. The developer asked me to give my honest opinion on the game, so here it is.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

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