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Gamer’s Thoughts: NekoJonez’s Top 10 Played Games of 2018

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2018 was an extremely strange year for me personally. A lot has happened in the past 12 months both good and bad. I have graduated this year. I’m now a bachelor in Computer Science – Networking. But on the other hand, I have gone through a lot of personal rough patches that did quite a number on my mental health. I’m slowly recovering and the support I’m getting is motivating me even more to go forward and get better. That said, I also played quite a lot of games this year. I got a Switch this year and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I also finished and completed a lot of games I started in the past few years so I had a bit of trouble putting this list together. So, for those who are new here, this list contains my 10 favorite games I have STARTED playing in 2018. The release date of the game itself doesn’t matter, what matters is that I started playing it in 2018. Before we get into the actual list, reminder, this list is my personal opinion. So, feel free to discuss it in the comments and also feel free to post your own list into the comments. I’m rather curious. Anyways, this introduction is getting quite long, it’s time to get into the actual list.

Place 10: Angels of Death (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

At first, this game would have a higher place on this list. The story and theming of this game grabbed my attention so much, I felt the black hole after finishing this game quite hard. I wanted to spend more time in the world of this game and spend more time with the characters.

I think that my love for the Corpse Party series and the Zero Escape series made me enjoy this game so much more. If you are a fan of either series, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

In addition to that, this game might have one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. How many times I have listened to it this year, I lost count already. And mind you, I found this game in late October.

Now, why is this game not higher on the list? I praised it quite a lot in my review and I might have given the impression that this game would be my game of the year… Well, it’s because I played another horror game this year that just did that bit more. Outside of that, the short length and gameplay; the game felt like a game I play in between big releases. So yeah. That’s why.

Place 9: Shining Resonance – Refrain (Switch)

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So, back in 2016 I played Stella Glow.I got quite into the story of music playing a big role in an RPG by giving buffs or debuffs. When I found Shining Resonance: Refrain on the Nintendo eShop on the Switch and read that music played an important role as well, I was sold.

When I started to play this game, I got flashbacks to Stella Glow. Even when this game plays quite a lot differently than Stella Glow. This game is more action focused and in real time while Stella Glow’s gameplay is more a big puzzle and turn-based.

While I haven’t even come close to finishing this game, I’m quite curious what else I’ll encounter in this game. I’m at the midway mark of this game but I have been rushing through it. I think that the next couple of playing sessions will be to catch up with various side quests and improving my characters and their equipment since I quite a lot of trouble while battling the last boss.

Now, this game is a port of a PS3 game released in 2014. It’s also a part of the Shining series. If the other games in the series are as enjoyable as this game, I think I might explore this series in the future. Too bad that a lot of games in this series hasn’t left Japan.

Place 8: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland (Nintendo Switch)

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Wikipedia

So, not too long ago, a bundle of three Atelier games got released on the Nintendo Switch. These games are the Arland trilogy. After I figured out what was the first game in the series, I started playing Atelier Rorona.

I was very surprised with the game actually. The game is quite enjoyable to play but it can be repetitive. The game is about an alchemy workshop with a very lazy owner. You play as her pupil named Rorona. When the kingdom orders the closure of the workshop, you get three years to prove the worth of the shop and finish various assignments of the kingdom. If you fail one of these, the workshop closes right away.

Now, what I didn’t know is how replayable this game is. These are so many mechanics I discovered during my first time playing this game, I also found out that there are a lot of various endings to the game. Now that I have beaten the game once, I think I’ll first beat the other two games before I do another playthrough to get an even better ending.

I personally really liked this game but I have to say that this game isn’t for everyone. I recommend this game to everybody who enjoys a more laid back RPG game. This game does have a lot of depth, but overall I found this game a more relaxing experience. That statement might change if I try to go for the other endings, who knows.

In any case, I’m rather curious what the other two games have on offer for me. Since, I’m going to beat those next. And who knows, these games might convince me to further check out the Atelier series, of which there are many… many games.

Place 7: Resident Evil 4 (PlayStation 2)

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Wikipedia

When I started playing games like Corpse Party, Fatal Frame and Zero Escape; I knew that one day I’ll have to look into the horror genre. A long time ago, in one of my local toy stores, there was a PS2 booth where a demo of Resident Evil 4 was playable. I think I was 14 years old and while I enjoyed playing the game, I didn’t even know the title nor the impact that game was going to have in the gaming scene. I think I only played the game for like 10-15 minutes in total since the next time I went, the booth was replaced with a demo Gamecube with Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

I actually forgot about the game until some of my favorite YouTubers started to talk about it on their channels. Back then, I was more into adventure and puzzle games, so I took note of the name and moved on.

Fast forward to this year. I was browsing the second hand games in my local game store and I saw a copy of Resident Evil 4 for the PS2 for only 10€. I didn’t hesitate twice. I bought this game and after I came home I started to play it right away. While I was afraid that I would suck at survival horror, I was able to finish chapter after chapter.

I also got quickly used to aiming and firing a gun with a controller. Since that was one of my biggest fears. I tried playing various shooters with a controller in the past and I always had a lot of trouble.

So, because I was highly surprised at how much fun I was having, I felt that this game rightfully deserved a spot on this year’s list.

Place 6: Project Zero II (Fatal Frame II) – The Crimson Butterfly (PlayStation 2)Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly.jpg

Wikipedia

So, due to Project Zero V – Maiden of the Black Water last year, I got quite into the Project Zero / Fatal Frame series. But seeing the pricing of getting other entries in the series ranging from 30€ to 60€, I had a hard time tracking down a copy.

To my surprise, around my birthday, somebody brought Fatal Frame I, II and III in to my local game store and I was able to buy the three titles for 20€ each.

I started playing all three games to test out if the games worked or not. Yet, when I was testing Fatal Frame II, I found myself not able to stop playing the game. The concept of the story where one sister is always looking for her sibling just spoke to me on a personal level. It was quite tricky to get used to playing this game on the PS2, since I always tried to move the camera while moving the PS2 controller since I was used it that playing the other game on the Wii U.

I enjoy playing this game the most, late at night while I darken my room and turn off the lights so I have only the glow of the TV and the disc spinning in the PS2 to keep my company. This makes the game and the experience that more enjoyable. I can’t wait to boot up my PS2 again tonight and try to make some more progress in this quite enjoyable game.

Place 5: Death Mark  (Nintendo Switch)

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Official website

It looks like I was on a horror rush this year. Death Mark is the 4th game on my favorite games of 2018 list. Now, when I wrote my Halloween special on Angels of Death this year, I actually completed the game before Halloween. So, I was looking for a new horror game to play on Halloween and that’s when I found Death Mark on the Nintendo eShop.

When I was looking at the screenshots and reading the description, it felt like a mixture of Corpse Party and the Zero Escape series. A visual novel horror adventure game that throws you in front of a lot of puzzles.

And that’s what the game delivers perfectly. An enjoyable story with multiple outcomes depending on your actions and one that gripped me to the end. While I was able to see some twists coming from a mile away, the pacing and writing the story more than made up for it.

The story is about a mysterious mark that appears on your body when you go to a haunted place and that mark spells death by dawn if you are unable to clear the grudge of the spirit that gave you the mark. So, if you enjoy a visual novel style horror adventure game, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

Now, Japan is getting a sequel/follow up to this game next year.  Now here is my call to the developers, please localize the follow up game as well. Looking at the screenshots and the teaser, I’m quite interested! And here is my call to everybody who is interested in horror, please give this game a shot and share it around. This game is highly underrated and deserves more attention and love!

Place 4: Blossom Tales (Switch)

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My review

I often check the Nintendo Switch store for interesting and unique games. When I came across Blossom Tales, I was sold. The game looked like a well made 2D-Zelda clone and as a big fan of the Legend of Zelda… Let’s just say it was a no-brainier.

And I didn’t regret that decision once. I enjoyed playing this game quite a lot. I felt right at home as a Zelda fan. Also, this game reminded me a bit of the Fairune games. It reminded me how fun that 2D Zelda games are and how much I miss that style of gameplay. I wonder that if we are going to ever see a 2D Zelda game again after the massive success that was Breath of the Wild.  Only time will tell, but for now, I’m happy to see that there are indie game studio’s that will create games in that style so I’ll always have a game in that style to look forward too.

What I liked the most about this game was the unique way the story was told. A grandfather telling his grandchildren a story since they are bored. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this game. It gives off so much charm and character to the game, for that alone I would recommend that you play this game. And, since we are in the holidays period, the charm is even better!

Place 3: Fire Emblem Warriors (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. This game is one of the reasons I bought a Nintendo Switch. I think the praise I gave in my review on this game made it pretty clear that this was one of the best games I have played in 2018.

Honestly, at first I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like the game. Since I had put so many hours into Hyrule Warriors, I was afraid that I was burnt out on the formula and gameplay.

But Fire Emblem Warriors brings a lot of new and fresh mechanics to the table to make me enjoy the game even more. The only criticism I have about the game is that some parts are a bit too complex and not well explained enough in-game. Everything else is highly polished. Even the trick that Drakalus gave me to improve the frame rate in multiplayer aided quite a lot.

Thanks to this game, I got back into the Fire Emblem series. I think that in the upcoming months, I will start tackling my huge backlog of Fire Emblem games I have in my collection. I have at least 6 Fire Emblem games that I have started but never finished. I think it’s time to change that. This game convinced me that the series has quite a lot to offer and I can’t wait to see which adventures the world of Fire Emblem will bring me.

Place 2: Dragon Quest Builders (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

When I saw a trailer for Dragon Quest Builders for the first time, I was hooked. I was disappointed when I learned that this game was going to release for the PlayStation 3, 4 and PSVita. At first, I was considering to buy a PSVita for this game (and Corpse Party Blood Drive before that got ported over to Android)

The game got ported to the Nintendo Switch, so I was able to buy it on the system I bought this year. And I’m glad I was able to play this game. I loved every moment of this game and I’m so extremely hyped for the upcoming sequel. The Japanese version released a couple of days ago. It’s quite tempting to look up let’s plays but I want to keep my experience as spoiler free as I can.

The only new negative is that I’m unable to play the Terra Incognita mode. Since I have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription and purchasing that for only that and a few NES games is currently not worth it for me in my opinion. But hey, that’s my opinion.

Honorable mentions

Now, I have played a lot of games and some games deserve a mention but haven’t made it on my list for various reasons. So, before I reveal my “game of the year” / number 1, it’s time for the honorable mentions.
Cleopatra – A Queen’s Destiny (PC), Knights of Pen & Paper (PC/Switch), Darkest Dungeon (Switch), Kamiko (Switch), A Magical High School Girl (Switch), Grumpy Cat (Android),
Etrain Odyssey 5 (3DS), Zack & Wiki (Wii), Steamworld Dig 2 (3DS), Silent Hill 4 (PS2), Telsagrad (Wii U), DuckTales (NES), Age of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC), Devil May Cry 4 (PS2).

Now, I know that a lot of major titles released in 2018 didn’t make it on my list or on my honorable mentions. In any case, I think it’s time to reveal the game I was most hyped for this year and I enjoyed the most. Which game is MY personal game of the year 2018? Let’s. Find. Out.

Number 1 – Game of the Year – Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)

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My review

So, this experience. This game, is my game of the year in 2018. Shadow of the Tomb Raider. When I was planning the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaboration, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to write about this game.

While some fans in the Tomb Raider series aren’t a big fan of the reboot since it’s a more action focused and linear game; I enjoy the new direction of the series. Especially this game. The improved visual style, the improved writing, the improved quality of life features… The game is just an amazing way to finish this reboot trilogy.

I seriously hope that this isn’t going to be the final game in the Tomb Raider series. Since I enjoyed myself with this game so much, I can’t wait to see where Lara goes next. Besides that, this year a new Tomb Raider movie got released. That movie I personally enjoyed quite a lot. For a movie based on a video game, I find that they did an extremely good job. I’m not really a movie review but if I have to grade the movie, it would get a 75/100.

Now, why did I enjoy this game so much? Why did I pick this game as my game of the year? For several reasons, the first reason is that this game’s story is the best story out of the three games in the reboot series. I had several moments where I felt the emotions of the characters, the voice actors did that good of a job.

A second reason is that this game is just beautiful. The visual presentation is just amazing. There are various spots where you look out over a huge forest from on top of a mountain or you get other breath taking views. Now, a few moments had some minor visual glitching or some spots where the game could have look a bit better, but that might be because of my older GPU in my desktop. That might explain various lighting glitches I have in the post launch DLC.

A third reason why this is my game of the year is that the Tomb Raider series just means a lot to me personally. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and I see and I have always seen Lara Croft as a sort of “sister” to Indiana Jones. But Indiana Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention in the video game scene while Lara does get that. So, being able to play games like Tomb Raider… Well, it’s my favorite genre and style of games after all. A mystery adventure game mixed with action and platforming segments.

The only disappointing thing is that I don’t have a physical copy of this game. The PC version of this game hasn’t gotten a physical release. And I feel it would be a waste of money to buy a PS4 or XBOX copy of the game just to have a physical version. But, if you want to know my actual opinion on the game, I advise that you read my review. Since, I really detailed my opinion in that article.

So, if you will excuse me now. I think it’s time to wrap up this article so I can play the newly added tombs and story segments.

Wrapping up 2018.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, 2018 was an extremely weird year for me. I even got my articles stolen various times. Outside of that, I had 25,000 views on my blog. This is more than double compared to the amount of views I got in 2017.

This inspires me to continue and write even more articles in 2019. I have a few in mind so I hope I’ll be able to welcome you on my blog next year. Blogging is my biggest hobby since I’m able to share my opinion on the games I have played with the world. I’m quite grateful of everybody who reads my articles and leaves comments or talks to me on social media or even in person about my articles and/or the games I have talked about.

I also love it when developers contact me and give me various chances to play unique and fun games. It also helps me to expand my collection and takes makes me even more happy.

If I have to pick my favorite blogging moments of this year, I have to say how the community came together for helping me and other bloggers in fighting article theft, the Tomb Raider project and the various milestones I reached like 500+ followers on my Twitter. It’s still the best way to keep up-to-date with me.

2019 is going to celebrate the 9th year I have been blogging. Before 2013, I had a Dutch blog. That means that this blog will be 7 years old next year.

That will mean that 2020 will be an extremely special year for me. But, let’s focus first on 2019. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Speaking of 2019, I think I should talk about the games I’m looking forward to! That’s going to be (one of the) next articles on my blog. So, keep an eye out for that.

With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 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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My favorite gaming music #22 – Time for a Loop

GameMusic_InArticleIt’s that time again. Time to share some of my favorite tracks in gaming. I have written articles about this before if the title hasn’t given that away. I have written 21 articles about this before. The rules for these articles are simple. I can only pick one track per franchise per article and I only pick the original versions of the track. Unless I choose to do a special article for this series where I only pick remixed versions or video game related music. So, are you ready? Since here we go. It’s time to party!

Remember Me (PC) – Nilin The Memory Hunter

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I haven’t gotten too far into this game but so far I’m enjoying the ride an awful lot. The plot of this game interests me to no end. The idea where you have to mess with people’s memories; or how the economy is based on memories.

This game is on my “to write about” list for a month or two now. I’m glad that I gave this game a chance since not only is the story amazing, the music is a blast to listen too.

For this article, I have chosen the main theme of the game. It fits perfectly with the futuristic theme of the game and the techno/electro track is a blast to listen too. When I first heard it, it really helped me to get pumped for the game and what the game was going to offer me.

So, if you want to know my opinion on this game; keep an eye out for my blog. Since I plan to review it rather soon.

Outlaws (PC) ~ The Ballad Of Doctor Death

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Review of this game

This game was in my top 10 favorite games of 2017 list. It even finished on the 3rd place. In my review of this game, I highly praised the soundtrack. And, it would be only logical if one of the tracks appears here in this series.

While I had a hard time choosing one from this amazing western shooter, I settled on the track of “The Ballad Of Doctor Death.” It has a bit of everything.

The start of the track is a typical western track where at some parts it even feels medieval. But, what I love most is that the track changes around the middle where it becomes a sort of vocal track of cowboys riding their horses into the sunset. It fits the atmosphere of the game where you have to shoot in towns and such extremely well.

The track is amazing to listen too on its own but I really advise you to play the game and enjoy when this track comes on. It makes the track even better. If you don’t know where to buy this game, don’t look too far since the game is for sale on GOG.com for less then 5€. If you enjoy retro gaming or those old shooters like DooM or Wolfenstein… Don’t skip out on this one!

A Hat In Time (PC) – The Battle of Bird Award 42

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Review of the game

Yes, of course, my favorite game of 2017 gets a spot in this series. And I think it won’t be the last time either.

I wanted to go with “Turn on the pyrotechnics” since that track is currently my ringtone. Yet, when I heard this track again I loved it even more.

Not only that, the boss battle that happens when you hear this track in the game is just amazing. The build-up and the finish of the chapter are just amazing.

I can’t wait to see what the free DLC will have in store. I’m still hoping that it drops this year, currently, it’s listed on their website on 31st December. A new chapter and new features; sign me up!

But, let’s enjoy this rocking track even more and if you have played the game, just close your eyes and enjoy the memories coming back in of this game and the amazing boss battle.

Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch) ~ Tactical Map

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I have finished this game two weeks ago. While I could have finished it weeks ago; I haven’t done that. I just enjoyed playing the game that much that I wanted to take my time with it.

I still want to write about this game but since I’m now playing the remastered edition of Hyrule Warriors as well, I’m thinking about a different kind of article.

A feature I love in Fire Emblem Warriors is how the tactical aspect of the series is carried over. How you can order your warriors to go and defeat a general; defend an ally…

When you start every mission, you hear this song while you are making your first moves. This song calms me to make the best choices for the upcoming battle but it also hyped me up to get ready to fight and defeat our enemies.

So, like Remember Me; this game is on my “to write about” list and I think you might see it soon then later.

Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) ~ BGM 5

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In my article where I looked forward to the games, I wanted to play in 2018, I talked about a game called Dragon Quest Builders. Now, I’m currently in the 3rd chapter of 4. So, you may expect an article on this game in the near future.

The music is this game sounds like your typical Dragon Quest music. It really suits the game rather well. It suits the game that well to the point that I’m now playing Minecraft with Dragon Quest music playing in the background.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has in store for me and what the sequel has in store. I wonder if the game will still be released this year. Even if this doesn’t; I’m going to wait for it and pick it up as soon as it releases.

Closing off

It was really fun putting this article together. It reminded me of how important gaming music is to me. How much attention I pay to it while I’m playing games and writing articles like this.

If you have any music you really enjoy from games; I would love to hear it in the comments. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my music selection. I’m curious if I’m the only ones who really love these tracks.

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

First Impression: The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim (PC) ~ Where do I need to go next?

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Official site

Skyrim, a game like Minecraft that’s being ported to every system under the sun. Now, this game has been reviewed to death. I know that I’m extremely late to the party. Skyrim is one of these games that has an extremely big and loyal fanbase. Otherwise, people wouldn’t be too excited for a portable version on the Nintendo Switch. Now, if you wonder, I play as a Khajiit, a beast man. Yeah, I play as a cat-man. Currently, I’m level 9 and I have started the first missions of the main story. Most of my time spent in this game is wandering around. Also, the three official DLC’s are installed. Also, there are no mods installed for this review. Now, that the context is set, let’s give my first impressions of this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below. 

Where do I go next?

Now, you start off with your character being transported to a village with other prisoners. It doesn’t take long before you realize that you are on death row and you are about to be executed. Right before your execution, a dragon attacks the village and you manage to escape. Then, you discover that you are a Dragon Born. Somebody who can use the power of the dragons. What happens next, is for you to decide. If you play this game, you can create your own story like in Minecraft.

 

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The biggest complaint I have about the story of Skyrim is that in my opinion, you are a bit to free to explore around. What I mean with this is that every time I come around a new village or ruins, I’m afraid of defeating attackers. I don’t know if they are essential for a quest or for later in the game.

The story of this game is good but I honestly don’t like the overload of exposition in some areas. When some people are talking, I never know for sure what they are referring too. Maybe I need to get used to the world more, but honestly, I found the open world of Breath of the Wild easier to get into and learn the world.

Now, why do I feel so lost in this world? I love the exploration system in this game. Only the areas you discovered appear on the map. Areas that you discover through conversation and books do too, but you can’t fast travel to them. So, you would think that even with a map system, I wouldn’t get lost or confused where to go next in the world?

Well, I do. I find the compass pretty difficult to use. A mini-map would have solved this issue. I really like the minimap system in Breath of the Wild. Or, if a minimap is too much to ask, a button to get more quickly to the map screen would be very welcome.

The UI is something I really dislike in this game. I find it very annoying to use. This could have been streamlined a lot more. The inventory is a mess in my opinion too. I would have loved a screen where you can equip spells or weapons easier. Now, I have to go through various menus to get that equipped. So, if anyone who is reading this and knows some good UI-mods to make it easier to manage your inventory or have more map functionality, I’m all ears.

Click to fight.

20180506154416_1Now, let’s talk about the gameplay of Skyrim. The freedom in this game is amazing. But, it’s also a downfall of the game. To be honest, this game is a bit overwhelming. In my opinion, there is a bit too much going on from the beginning. I think it would be better if the game introduced all it’s main elements to the player a bit more before it threw you into the big world.

Now, at the other hand, it’s quite fun to discover and learn the elements of the game. How crafting and magic works for example. Or how cooking works. How you can optimize the whole system to easily get the best weapons and armor and how to get the best healing items.

It’s a balancing act, where you need to think if you would be able to go to a certain place or you need to find more items to progress.

Exploring the world is great fun too. Now, during the exploration, a lot of enemies will cross your path. The fighting mechanics could have been improved as well. The combat mechanics are fun, but the big issue is that if you want to switch between bow & arrow or magic or 2hand combat, you have to go clicking through those pesky menus.

That’s why I mainly focus on 2-handed combat weapons which make the combat unfair in some situations when you are up against some heavy magic users and they burn you alive in oil.

Now, I’m playing the game on an easy difficulty. This is my first time playing Skyrim and lets me tell you, I’m glad that I’m playing this game on easy for the first time. The game still is challenging in some areas but it’s an ideal way to learn the ropes of the game and later restart the game with a higher difficulty setting.

This game’s replayability is through the roof. So, if I replay this game on a higher difficulty setting, my playthrough will be completely different. This will be interesting. You can change the difficulty settings whenever you want in the options menu.

Speaking of the options menu, something I really like is when you run Skyrim for the first time, the game sets the most optimal visual settings for you. I notice the difference between playing Skyrim on my laptop and on my gaming desktop, but it’s a very helpful feature to have.

As well as the cloud save. Yes, if you play Skyrim on different devices like me, you don’t have to move save files between computers. You can download Steam, then Skyrim and voila, you can continue playing Skyrim.

One thing that I would add in terms of the save files is “save slots”. It would be amazing if I would be able to have different playthroughs with different characters without having to juggle between my save files of which character is which save file…

Mods and such

20180506164810_1.jpgVisually, this game is great. The world of Skyrim is detailed and very well made. There is even an HD-texture pack for people who want more details and better textures out of the game.

So far, I have seen only the tip of the iceberg in this game. Almost literally, since I have been mostly exploring the snowy areas of the game.

The controls of the game are great. I have been playing with a mouse and keyboard but I have played this game with a controller as well. It doesn’t matter that much, this game is optimized for both input devices.

Now, one thing is clear. This game asks to be modded. So, dear reader, I have a question for you. Should I mod my game before or after I have beaten it? Which mods do you recommend?

The music in this game fits the atmosphere as a glove. Together with the sound effects and great animations, it helps me to immerse myself in the world. The things that stop me from immersing in the world is the tricky UI like I talked about at the beginning of this article.

I really see the potential of this game and I really think that this game is something for me. But I feel that the UI is holding it back for me. Ever since I got interested in open world games since I played Breath of the Wild, I feel that some features in that game spoiled me. There are some features that I wish I could bring over to Skyrim.

Now, do I think that Breath of the Wild is a better game? Well, no. They are both completely different games and I think it’s unfair to compare them.

But, one thing is for sure. Ever since I started playing Skyrim, I want to give Oblivion and Morrowind a second chance. I got Morrowind years ago for my birthday and after playing it for a bit, I quit playing it. Oblivion I found at a garage sale.

That’s saying something. If a game makes you want to play the previous games in the series. This game makes me want to play more, even with its various flaws. I totally see where the high praise is coming from. Maybe if I continue to play this game, I might get more into it; but for now, I’m quite happy in playing this game between other games when I have the time.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I’m leaving some things for the review if I ever finish this game. There is a 40 hours adventure waiting for me and I have only beaten the first act.

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

Review: Yokai Watch (3DS) ~ Insprited Articles

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Official website

I bought this game on release date. But due to various reasons, I have never beaten this game. Also, I was quite sure that I reviewed this game back in 2016. Strangely enough, I didn’t. So, now that I have beaten the game since last week, I think it’s HIGH time to put my opinion into words and write them down into a review. Did I enjoy Yo-Kai Watch or were the breaks because I thought that this game is a broken mess. Well, let’s find out together. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Is this Pokémon?

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In this game, you play as Nathan. A young boy wandering in the woods while he is collecting bugs. Then he stumbles upon a machine with a crank. He puts in a coin and out comes a Pokéball with a strange creature—

While at first glance, it’s easy to compare this game to Pokémon looking at the screenshots and things like that. But let me tell you, this game is quite different from Pokémon.

So, the story. Out of the gashapon machine, Nathan gets a capsule that gives him the Yo-Kai Watch. With this watch, he can see different creatures roaming around in the city causes various issues from the people living there.

If you don’t already know what Yo-Kai is, let me briefly explain it to you. These monsters are based on Japanese folklore. These are phantoms curse people to give them a big temper, a bad hair day, unable to lie… That’s the real basic gist of it. At least, how they are used in this game. If you want to learn more about Yokai, the Wikipedia page is a great way to start.

Now, one thing I do have to say is that this game is structured like an anime series. There are various chapters wherein you learn about something strange going on, discovering that it’s Yo-Kai activity and then you solve it. I know that the story is written for younger kids to get into, but to be frank and honest, I found the story a bit bland. Mediocre even from time to time. Especially the ending is a mess. There was too little build-up to the overall final boss of the game and to be honest, the game ends abruptly.

This doesn’t take away that the dialogues can be very funny from time to time. It does pull off some jokes you have seen more than once in cartoons, but that doesn’t matter too much to me. Even with this bland story, it was able to put a smile on my face from time to time.

While I’m still a bit bitter that the credits froze for me and I had to redo the final boss fight over, I find the scene after the credits so; predictable. I can understand a younger child getting invested in the story, but most of the time, it didn’t click with me.

While I had beaten the main story at 18 hours, I had also beaten a lot of side quests. This game is pretty short and can be beaten in a day or two. Now, I have played short experiences that I enjoyed an awful lot, so I’m not going to be too harsh on the game for that reason. Besides, if you play all the side quests and try to complete this game, you are well into a game that will last you give or take 80 hours.

Too old?

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While I was playing this game, I became well aware that I wasn’t the target audience for this game whatsoever. While this game has a type system set up with Yo-Kai being weak or strong to another type… and things similar like that, I rarely had to use items to power up my Yo-Kai.

Now, this game is a sort of adventure RPG game. You are allowed to freely explore the city to solve side quests and favors.

Sidenote, I don’t understand why they split side quests and favors since they are basically the same thing. Oh well.

During your exploration of the city, you can find various Yo-Kai roaming around the city. Under cars, under vending machines, in trees, in the water… They are everywhere in this game. Yet, always at similar spots. So, if your watch, that functions as a radar, picks up the aura of a nearby Yo-Kai, you know which spots to look at.

That’s the case for the overworld. You also have various caves and dungeons you can explore. In here, you see the Yo-Kai roaming free. You can easily pass most of them, but thanks to your very limited stamina, you will be unable to outrun them all.

Now, there are a lot of mechanics in this game that is underused in my opinion. What I mean here is that there is just no real need for some features. For example, the fusion of Yo-Kai is just additional content for the people who want to complete the game. In my playthrough, I was able to beat the final boss with ease without any fusion Yo-Kai.

There is a lot to do in this game, but I never felt I had to do it to progress in the game. Even without any leveling up, I was able to beat the harder areas. Yes, I’m saying that this game is pretty easy.

This could have been solved by introducing a difficulty option where veteran players could face a bigger challenge since the potential is there. I really enjoyed exploring and finding secret items all over the place.

Something I found a bit disappointing is when you start tackling various side quests near the end of the game instead of at the start of the game… Well, I almost always carried the items needed to solve the quest or favor. Or my  Yokai were so strong that I was able to easily beat the Yokai in the quest.

I would have loved to see a sort Yokai-dex system in this game. Like a Pokédex where you can check the area’s and things, you need to do to require their medal.

I know I might upset some people with this, but I found the battle system pretty lacking. I understand that it innovates on quite a lot of areas but, I find it a bit boring. The big issue is that you get too much money from battling Yokai & your Yokai level up way too quickly. Making them too strong so you barely have to use the special abilities of your Yokai.

Speaking about those, I found it pretty frustrating that whenever you purified a Yokai or started their special attack, the game would wait a few moments before the actual attack launches. The few waiting moments were, oh, so annoying. I wish they change that in the sequel.

Something I really dislike now is the map system. I already started playing the sequel to this game and the map system is improved so much in the sequel, I find this system pretty annoying to use. You can’t put a tracking arrow on side quests, the buildings aren’t labeled in the minimap and you are only able to see the map of the region you are in. This is improved in the sequel, so they learned their lesson there.

Another mechanic that is more fleshed out in the sequel is the “recruit” tactic. The way how you befriend other Yokai. This has been made a lot easier in the sequel. Now it’s a guessing game on which Yokai wants what. Also, I found it annoying that you weren’t able to choose which enemy Yokai to feed to try and recruit them. -sigh-

A city

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Now, I could go on for quite a while longer about the gameplay; but there are other things we need to talk about in the review. For example, you can save your game anywhere from the pause menu. This game doesn’t autosave, so keep that in mind.

Visually, the presentation of this game is pretty good. I really like the design of the city and enjoyed exploring it.

There are a few things that could have been improved design-wise. First of all, the crossroad mechanic. This is dumb. There is this mechanic in the game where you need to wait for the light to turn green to cross. If you cross red lights too many times, a big Oni will come and wipe out your party. Now, there are no consequences for losing this fight. So, if you want to teach kids a lesson to watch both ways before crossing a street,  you aren’t going to do it with this.

In addition to that, most of the time, all roads didn’t have any cars. While I know that they exist and drive around on the streets, but I barely saw them. So, I crossed the streets away from the cross roads. Besides, the cars do stop for you without any penalty. So, yeah. Unless mechanic.

Near the end of the game, you unlock a quick travel mechanic. Yet, you do have to “unlock” each travel point. I can see why they did it like this, but I would have preferred that I had all travel points unlocked from the start.

Now, the soundtrack got a lot of praise from various other reviews. And I’m sorry, I don’t like it. I don’t hate the soundtrack either. The big issue is that it fits the theme quite well in the game but I don’t like listing to it outside of the game. In a matter of fact, I switched to a different soundtrack while writing this review. The biggest issue I have with the soundtrack is that the same melody comes back in too many tracks. That’s something I don’t like at all.

The sound design and the various voice clips are good. I enjoyed them. Each time I think about this game, I hear “PAWS OF FURRY” often in my head.

Now, something I find a mixed bag is the mini-scenes you get at the end of each side quest. I can see that some of them are fun for little children, but I hate the fact that they are randomized. Some of them are negative and don’t give you a bonus and others give you a huge bonus. But, the pool of usable cutscenes is too small. I have seen a ton of scenes too many times that I know after one second if I’m going to get a reward or not.

In terms of the controls and the UI, this game is very good. There is one mechanic that I really dislike, but I’m happy that it’s in the game and I don’t want to see it get changed. That is the running mechanic. You run way too quickly out of stamina. Also, while you are running and you want to turn, your character first goes into a break animation before you bolt into the other direction.

This game can be controlled with the buttons on the 3DS and the touchscreen. Personally, I prefer the buttons. Since I felt more in control with them. While, actually, the touchscreen controls are handier. That way you don’t have to take your stylus each and every time you enter a battle.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left a few things out to surprise you if you decide to play this game. But, I think it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

Negatives:

– The game is too easy for veterans players.

– There are too many mechanics underused.

– The crosswalk mechanic is just meh.

– The soundtrack repeats the same melody a bit too much.

– The story is a bit too bland from time to time.

Postives:

+ Big postgame.

+ Really pretty game.

+ Even when the story is bland, the writing can be really funny sometimes.

+ …

Conclusion:

So, this game is a kids game and it shows. But does that mean it’s a bad game? No, not at all. This game can be really fun from time to time, but it really shows that this game has flaws. This game isn’t worth 90/100 that some outlets are giving it.

I think it’s best that, if you are interested in playing this game, give this game a shot. There is a demo in the eShop, you can play that first before you decide to buy the full game.

I can recommend this game but don’t set your bar too high. The game is very lighthearted and remember, it’s a kids game so some parts will be easy if you are a hardcore gamer.

Thankfully, a lot of the issues I have with this game are solved in the sequel. But even with all the issues talked about in this review, the game is fun to play and I’m glad that I experienced it. Now, on to the sequel to finish that one!

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

Score: 69/100

My TOP 10 games of 2016 – Part 1: 5 – 1

2016Part 1 (10 – 6)

I’m not going to introduce the second part like I introduced the first part last week. We all know that 2016 flew by. In 2016, a lot of things happened. But in my personal life, it’s was one of the better years. In any case, it’s time to give a little reminder. In this top 10, I list off the best games I played this year. If I started playing the game in an earlier year, it doesn’t count. Also, it doesn’t matter if the game is released in 2016 or 1996. If I started playing it this year, it counts! Also, it doesn’t matter if I have beaten the game fully or not. So, yeah. Let’s dive into my top 5 for this year. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the games and/or your top 10 games of 2016. 

#5: Ace Attorney 6 – Spirit Of Justice (3DS)

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Link to my first impression

As we enter the top 5, I had the most difficult time choosing the order of the games. I had to make some hard decisions.

The Ace Attorney game we got this year was amazing. It had some amusing throwback moments to earlier games and it has hit me emotionally a couple of times.

It might not be my favorite game in the series, but it’s was a pretty enjoyable ride from beginning to end. One of my biggest let-downs was that the 4th case was way too short in my opinion. But, in exchange, we got 2 “joke” episodes that made me laugh multiple times. Also, I need to remind myself to not play this game on the train to work, since I nearly missed my stop once and one time I started laughing so much, I got strange looks for the whole ride… Yeah.

#4: Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS)

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Link to my review

Like Ace Attorney 6, the new game in the Pokémon series is amazing. While it’s not the best in the series, in my opinion, it has a lot of throwback moments to earlier Pokémon games.

So, I honestly think it’s a no-brainer that this game should be on my top 10 games I played in 2016-list. Since this game brought back some amazing memories I had playing Pokémon throughout my life. I even met some strangers on the train who were playing Pokémon Sun or Moon as well. I never imagined that that would be possible in the crazy times we live in currently. Pokémon connects people. And thanks to Pokémon Go, a game I wasn’t able to play, the craze for Pokémon grew even more.

I have almost beaten the game and I’m looking forward what the new Pokémon generation will bring. I think they are taking it in a great direction. If only they tweaked the games a little bit for long time players, and it would be perfect in my opinion!

#3: Stella Glow (3DS)

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Link to my review

So, in late June, I downloaded the demo for this game on my 3DS. I was deciding which games I was going to buy to play in the upcoming summer. I played the demo and placed it on my wishlist.

That same day, I started talking to one of my friends over at ButtonSmashers. He said he still had a review copy of Stella Glow. So, in exchange for a review on the ButtonSmashers, he sent me the code over mail.

And believe me, this game grew on me really quick. Like I said in my review, the story pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. At least, with me. This game is one that I wish hadn’t passed under my radar. Since that game was already released for 3 months upon that point.

I honestly think I’m going to replay this game next year. The replay value is quite high in this game. I’m going to take a completely different route and try to see things I haven’t experienced yet in this game. I’m quite looking forward to it!

#2: Zero Escape Dilemma (3DS)

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Link to my first impression

“Life is simply unfair, is it not?” is one of the quotes I remember from this game. The Zero Escape trilogy got its final game this year. Honestly, I would love a new game in the series since I’m highly addicted to the gameplay.

This game came pretty close being my favorite game of 2016. If you ask me the question, what’s your favorite game released in 2016? I have to answer that this game is my favorite game from 2016. But, I have played one other game that got the number one spot.

So, why is this game on my list? Well, I have played the Zero Escape series from beginning to end. I have played every game, finished every puzzle and the wrap-up of the series is just so heartbreaking. The story is over. Every dot is connected now.

The game almost didn’t see the light of day, but thanks to the support of the fans, this game DID see the light of day. And I’m glad that it did. Everything in this game clicks. It’s almost perfect. Thank you, guys and girls, for this amazing series. I hope you guys and girls keep making games since I would love to see more! Thank you, that’s everything I can say. The series is so good, I hope that the Steam versions of the trilogy will draw a lot of attention. The attention that this series deserves! Seriously, thanks for making this game. I can’t repeat it enough. And honestly, I can’t say it in any other way.

Honorable mentions

With pain in my heart, I have to say that these games didn’t make my list. Some games might come as a surprise to people who know me personally and know the game series I love & adore. So, yeah. Here are the honorable mentions:

  • Yo-Kai Watch (3DS): Interesting mechanics and gameplay, but I haven’t gotten far enough yet in the game.
  • Sphetory (Android): An Android game that took me by surprise. Just read my article about it!
  • Mario Strikers Football Charged (Wii): Just Mario football. But it’s a whole lot of fun!
  • Evoland 2 (PC): Evoland 1 was amazing, so I had to play the sequel. And I don’t regret it!
  • Minecraft Story Mode (Android): I had been putting it off, but when I got it in a sale for my tablet, I gave it a go. And I’m enjoying it a whole lot. Just finished the first episode.
  • SteamWorld Dig (3DS): It reminded me of an Android game I reviewed a long time ago, but this one is miles better.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS): I just adore the gameplay. If only I was better at it. Also, the micro-transactions nearly ruin the game for me. Since I want all content in my games to be playable.
  • Corpse Party (3DS): It was really close being number 10. The 3DS port is so faithful to the amazing PSP port that introduced me to the series. It creeped me out so much once, I had trouble sleeping one night.
  • Dragon Quest VII (3DS): I have played the first hour of this game, and I enjoyed myself a whole lot. But I haven’t gotten far enough yet.
  • Bravely Second (3DS): The sequel to Bravely Default. One of the RPG’s I love playing on my 3DS. I have to continue playing this game honestly!
  • The Beginners Guide (PC): A game that hit me as a content creator. And it has hit hard. Created by the creator of the Stanley Parable.
  • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS): I can’t believe myself I have played 10 different games that trump this game. The new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game was amazing. But it’s number 11 on my list… Yeah.
  • Kirby Planet Robobot (3DS): While I think that Kirby Triple Deluxe was better, I think that this game is stil worthy to get a spot on the honorable mentions list here!

#1: Bioshock Infinite (PC)

162247_frontLink to my review

Wow, I ended 2015 with playing the first game in the Bioshock series and at the end of 2016, the latest game is my number one game I have been playing in 2016. This series took me by surprise. The story telling, the atmosphere, the setting, the visuals, the gameplay, the soundtrack, the voice acting… it just all clicks for me.

It’s one of the best games I have played this year. Well duh, that’s why it’s number one. At first, I had trouble picking which Bioshock game to put on number one. But the DLC for this game made my decision that much easier. It wraps up the story of this trilogy so nicely, I’m conflicted if they need to continue the Bioshock series. Since it’s finished up so nicely, I think a 4th game would ruin it. But at the other hand, I can’t get enough of the universe. And honestly, the fact that I bought and read the novel and bought merchandise… the fact that I often listen to the soundtrack of this game at work, proves one thing to me. The Bioshock series is sinking it’s (sky)hooks into me. So, if you haven’t played Bioshock; would you kindly give it a go? Give it a chance, you might find one of the best games you have played in a while.

After I had beaten this game, I restarted from Bioshock 1. I have played the three games (and the DLC’s) this year at least two years. That’s a clear reason why this game is my number one game I have played in 2016!

Closing words

So, I’m looking forward to 2017. Since a lot of new challenges await me. But 2016 is coming to an end. I have said multiple times, this year was special to me. But, 2016 was a crazy ride from beginning to end. I have learned so much and experienced so much as well.

I’m disappointed that several events almost ruined the year for me. But, let’s not think about them. Those events aren’t worthy of our attention. I think we can agree that this year has been a crazy ride. Like I said before.

Thank you for all the support I got this year! I seriously helped my blog grow. I love writing for you guys and girls and I hope you will visit my blog again in 2017. So, have an enjoyable rest of 2016 and I hope to see you in 2017! But until then, take care and have a great rest of your year!

Top 10 Wii games I played until now – Part 2

wii_repairPart 1 (10 – 6)

So, it’s time to talk about my top 5 favorite Wii games. I was rather surprised by the warm reception of my previous article. I really thought that it would slip under the radar since the Wii is out for quite a while and it’s now kind of obsolete because of the Wii U. In any case, I don’t own my Wii U yet, but that day will come soon. I’m still deciding which game I’m going to buy first. It’s a draw between Zelda, Wind Waker – Hyrule Warriors and Bayonetta 2. I might buy one game and ask for the other one(s) for Christmas. But hey, now I’m going off-topic. It’s time to talk about MY favorite games on the Wii. I’m quite sure that I haven’t played a lot of very good titles since I focused myself on games I heard a lot about. Also, if you followed my blog for a long time, you might be able to guess some of my entries here. So, I hope that you are ready for this since I’m going to talk about a few amazing titles for the Nintendo Wii! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the games. Feedback is always welcome. I use it to improve my blog. Oh, and feel free to leave your top 10 Wii games in the comments too. 

 

#5: Donkey Kong Country Returns

donkey_kong_country_returns_boxartBefore I came up with the idea for this article, I wanted to write a first impression about this game. But why is this game so high on my list? Well, that’s because when I play this game it gives me a vibe that I want to play on my SNES later. Why is this such important to me? Well, I love retro games. And when a game inspires me to play more retro games… That’s a good thing in my book.

This game is a sort of remake of the original Donkey Kong series. A series I have read some many articles and watched so many videos about. Like I told in an earlier article, I haven’t owned a console since the Nintendo Wii. I have played the Gameboy and PC when I was young. While I played a lot of games, I also wrote a lot of stories. So, honestly, I wasn’t that interested in consoles. Apart from the Nintendo64. Since one of my friends brought his one over to play with.

Retro Game Studios really lives up to it’s name. This game is even more proof, since it brings back memories of those times I played on a console in my childhood. But not that alone, this game is a rather solid platformer. I don’t play a lot of platformers since I’m not that interested in them. When I play a platformer, it must have a history or a certain gimmick. And this game combines both. This game has a history, it’s a remake of one of the best platformers ever made for the SNES. It also has a gimmick that sets it apart. Which is, when you are full health, you get Diddy, who gives you special perks.

If you haven’t played this game, what are you waiting for? Give it a jump.. Bad pun, I meant give it a play.

#4: WarioLand Shake It!

250px-WarioLandShakeIt Time for another shocker? This is the first Wii game I ever played. Yes, I was actually planning to buy a Wii for the Legend Of Zelda games, but the first game I bought was Warioland Shake It. Well, I know it under the name of Warioland: The Shake Dimension since I live in Europe.

Earlier I said that the only time I enjoy platformers is when they have a certain gimmick. And this game has that cover easily. It uses the motion controls of the Wii really well but doesn’t depend on them.

Personally, I think that the Wario games are better then the Mario games. Am I saying that Mario games are bad? Hell no, they are one of the best platformers in the genre. But the Wario games always add something to the mix. The stories are more varied and there is more variation in the enemies. I could try and explain why I think the Wario games are better then the Mario games, but hey… That’s comparing your favorite TV-series versus your favorite movie series. It are both things you watch but in reality they are two very different things.

This game has another thing going for it. When you are good at platformers, this game has additional objectives which make the game extremely hard in my opinion. You can’t take damage or you need to collect every coin. And with some brutally placed enemies, that’s very difficult.

Oh, I haven’t forgot about the shaking mechanic. That’s the most interesting of this game. Seriously, to get coins or healing items you need to shake things. Yup, this makes even defeating the smallest enemies worthwhile in some situations.

#3: Another Code R – Journey into lost memories

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Oh my, I played this game in 2013 and still haven’t beaten it…? Well, the reason for that is that my SD card died where my save file was stored. I was really far into the game but then when I played it for the 2nd time, I ate something by accident that you needed in order to progress in the story. I think it was possible to progress even without that item but I deleted my save file. I didn’t feel playing through the game for a 3rd time for over a year.

But earlier this week, I started to replay this game. It’s such a shame that I didn’t start my 3rd playthrough earlier. This game is a very nice and realistic mystery novel. It continues where the DS game left off. It further fleshes out the story of the Robins family. Thrilling is the word I would use it to describe it.

I know that this game can be boring for some people. It’s somewhat slow paced and it doesn’t have a lot of “action” that you would find in other games. The gameplay is mostly running around a rather nice lake and forest area to solve puzzles that could happen in real life too. But the execution, writing, music, presentation and characters are what keeps this game together.

But the biggest reason that this game is so high on my list is a rather personal one with one of the main characters. I don’t feel comfortable talking about it on my blog believe me, this game touched me on a personal level. That’s why I put this game on the 3rd place on my list. If you want a great story and feel like playing an adventure game… Pick up this game as soon as you can. If you want to know more about my thoughts about the game, I linked my first impression article for you to read.

#2: Okami

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Raise your hand if you didn’t see this game coming. This gem of a game deserves a high spot on everybody’s favorite Wii games list in my opinion. Explaining this game is rather difficult. The best explanation is, it’s a Zelda game in Japanese mythology with a Japanese hand-drawn art-style.

I have written a first impression about this game almost a year ago. This game is totally worth it to check out. While it released first on the PS2, I think that this game deserves motion controls. Since you need to draw on the screen or draw some objects, I think that this game would be quite a pain to play with a controller. But hey, I haven’t played this game with a controller and maybe those things are changed to work well on a controller.

This series of games needs more entries Capcom. I want to see an Okami 3! Seriously, this game is really addictive. I played this game and the sequel on the DS more times then I dare to admit. It’s a game I often bring up when I want to prove that games can educate or can be works of art as well. At the other hand, the story is neatly wrapped up in the end so a 3rd game would need to introduce more characters… It could go horribly wrong.

There were a few moments I didn’t like in this game. Some weapons make the main character glitch out real bad and some bomb mini-games.. Well, if you aren’t perfect, you won’t make it.

This game is one you have to play when you enjoy the Japanese culture. Also, when you are a big Zelda fan… You owe it to yourself to play this game. For more of my thoughts, I advise you to read my first impression article I linked for you guys to enjoy.

Honorable mentions

It was rather hard making this top 10. So, I had to cut out some great titles. Since they deserve to be mentioned, here are the other games that didn’t made the list. Well, most of them.

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure, Kirby: Return To Dreamland, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Fragile Dreams, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Red Steel, Boomblox, Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, No More Heroes 2, Super Paper Mario, Resident Evil Dark Chronicles, Pikmin 2, Pokémon Battle Revolution and Super Mario Galaxy 1/2.

#1: The Legend Of Zelda – Skyward Sword

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If you follow my blog, you must have seen this one coming. A Zelda game as number one. The hardest part was deciding between Twilight Princess and this one. Both bring such different styles to the table, it’s was a difficult decision to make. Both games have different and enjoyable memories for me that made it even harder to decide.

But the difference was in the controls of Skyward Sword. How Link does the exact some movements you do with the Wii Remote blew me away. It felt like I was him. That I was part of this adventure.

I think it made it extremely clear how big of an influence this series is and was on me. The music of this game helped me through rough periods and it was the series I played the most as a kid. I even compared elements of the Zelda series to other games in it’s genre and got me interested in reviewing games. The Zelda games are also the main reason why I want to buy the Nintendo consoles. In the past I bought the newest gameboy to play the latest Pokémon on, but now those games are a close second. I bought a DS for Phantom Hourglass, I bought a Wii for Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword; and I bought a 3DS for Ocarina Of Time 3D. Now, I’m planning to buy a Wii U for Hyrule Warriors.

In any case, if you want to read about my thoughts of this game… I linked my first impression of this game. I have one thing to admit, I still haven’t beaten this game. But I think that the holiday season of this year might change that. So stay tuned.

Wrapping up

This list was extremely hard to put together. The reason I haven’t written this top 10 earlier was because I honestly thought that I didn’t play so much different Wii games. Looking back after writing this article, I’m surprised how wrong I was.

The Nintendo Wii is an amazing console and has an amazing library. I’m quite sure that I will enjoy the games I want to beat even more now since I start to realize that this console has still a whole lot of amazing games and fun moments up it’s sleeve. So, maybe in the future you will see even more articles on Wii games. If you want me to take a look at a certain Wii game, tell it to me in the comments and I will try to take a look at it.

In any case, this was a rather long article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I hope to see you in another article in the near future! But until then, have a great day and game on!

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: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Strangely Fun.

Fantasy_Life_box_artNintendo.com entry

I was very surprised that Level5 published a game like this. While I was silently hoping to a sequel of Professor Layton, or a spin-off, they published a game with similar graphical vibe. But don’t let it fool you, the fantasy and the life is quite different in this game. After playing 3-ish hours of it, it’s time to write an article about it since I’m quite enjoying myself. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Graphically Layton?

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Maybe it’s only me, but this game gave me a Professor Layton feeling. At least, on the surface. Possibly the used some assets from the Layton game. But hey, let’s not think about the biggest series this developer created, in this article we are talking about Fantasy Life.

This game must have been a nightmare to develop. Since all the different classes play differently. I’m quite curious if the overall story stays the same in the different classes. Also, the fact that you can change your class in mid game, is just mind-blowing and quite a risky move of Level5. I hope the game stays challenging and doesn’t make the mistake that The Legend Of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds made. That game was also more free then other games, yet the difficulty curve was off.

While the story has some plottwists, I was able to see some coming. But I’m quite sure that to a child or a casual gamer, the plottwists might come more as a surprise. Overall, the writing is excellent. The characters can be a tad bit generic in some cases, but they are written so well that I had a few moments that made me smile, not only as a critic but also as a writer.

Quests

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I was on the fence for buying this game. I actually had it pre-ordered but cancelled my pre-order since I lost interest in the game. But now that I gave it a chance, I was quite surprised. The gameplay is nothing what I expected. If you aren’t doing a story quest, you can roam around freely and solve people’s daily needs.

The quest system, while quite fun, isn’t 100% perfect. Sometimes quite important information isn’t in the quest log, the quest log is out of order and you can’t have a map where all the accepted quests are located. The quest logging could have been done better in my opinion. While I’m beating it, I’ll surely try out all features of the quest log. Maybe I’m overlooking some things and bashing it, while it’s not needed at all.

You have three sorts of quests. Each give you a different reward. From dosh (currency) to stars (allow you to grow in your class) and bliss (expand the game.). The different quests yield so many different yet satisfying rewards that I explore the world in quite more depth then I usually would. Then my coin dropped. (Dutch expression for releasing something.) This was totally the designers intention to help you explore the world. It’s quite deep honestly. Apart from some aspects that is.

At the moment of writing, I’m in the magic class. They actually passed on a great oppertunity for the magic combat. When you use fire attacks on forest mobs, they don’t increase the damage. Also, your mana replenishes so slow, it’s painful. And the quite expensive potions only give you 10 mana back. Yup, only 10 mana. And the free water bottles you pick up, give 5. That’s so not enough!

So, the magician is long ranged combat. What I love about this game is that the target system works so nicely. I can easily circle around my enemy while trying to defeat it. If only there was an easier way to switch weapons. It would have been less of a pain when I would have been able to quickly switch to my dagger if my mana ran out.

Gamesystems

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In the last section of this article, I want to talk about the overall game. I can’t judge on the box and such, since I own this game thanks to the eShop.

The game controls quite fine. While I sometimes have the impression that they switched some buttons around from similar games, I can easily adjust.

Graphically, this game is just amazing. This game gave my impressions of Professor Layton, while it’s really nothing similar. The look, the animation, color pallet and level design is just really well done. Maybe they should have planned out the shops a bit better. Like the furniture shop closer to the wallpaper and flooring shop. Also, why can’t I sell furniture?  I bought by accident two items when I needed one. -sigh-

Something I would have done differently is the icons on the touch screen. They take up quite a bit of space on the map. While it’s not a big deal, I honestly don’t like various icons on my map. I would have made a bar at the bottom of the touch screen with the buttons on it. That would have been way easier to organize. Speaking about the map mode, it’s quite handy. I can safely say that it helped me out of some tricky situations. It’s clear and you can’t get lost thanks to it. If only you were able to have an overview map. Since if you tap on the map button, you get an overview of the map of the whole game. Thankfully there are buttons to quick travel.

Anyways, I’m nearing my usual article limit. So, it’s time to wrap this article up. I still have quite a lot to talk about, but I will keep that for my review if I beat this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I can honestly recommend this game to you. Also, feel free to drop by on a later date! I try to publish an article each week. So, maybe until next week.

Review #040: CSI – Hard Evidence (PC ~ Steam) ~ Strange Case

256px-Csi4boxcoverSteam store link

So, today I want to take another look at this very old case. Wait, scrap that. If I try to be too original in my introduction, I might ruin the beauty of my previous CSI article. Yeah, remember that first impression article I wrote about that CSI PS2 game? I tried to set the mood in the introduction and if I repeat that in this one, it might get boring. Yup, I’m rambling on instead of writing a decent introduction for this game. I just finished it and I want to review it. Before I actually start to review it, I’ll come clean. I enjoyed the other CSI games I played. In total, I know there are 3-4 games like this about CSI. I think that this game is the latest in terms of trying to go for realism instead of a more cartoon-y approch they did in the DS games. In any case, I enjoy the tv-show a lot myself. Too bad that my local channel broadcasts the series out of order. As usual, feel free to leave a comment on this article with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Mediocre game? 

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I know that this game was also released on the XBOX360 and the Wii. But for this review, we take a look at the PC version of the game. It’s developed by TellTale Games, who you might know from the Walking Dead series. One might think that this game must be good. I mean, they make all sorts of amazing adventure point-and-click games.

If I look around the internet to what other people think about this game, I read mostly negative reviews. But is this game a cheap cash-in of a very popular series? Let me play devil’s advocate and say no. Sure, there are some problems and you might rest assured I’ll address them in this review but overall, this game is a nice one.

The evidence for that is in the story. Each and every case feels like a CSI episode. The characters are quite memorable and the voice acting is decent. I have to disagree that the voice acting is the best the game has too offer since I sometimes don’t feel the emotion in the voice. I also had moments where I felt that the emotion was acted or forced. But that might be because I act on stage myself.

Addressing the criticism

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The negative you see popping up in each and every review is that the graphics look outdated. This is quite vague in my opinion. The area’s you visit and objects look quite clean and decent. They aren’t the best the genre or the system can offer but that’s not the issue here.

The issue here is in the animation of the models. That’s quite flawed. If this game had a rushed development schedule you can see it in the animations. I didn’t had many visual flaws on my gaming laptop but on my desktop with a much stronger graphics card/CPU/RAM… the mistakes are coming quite clear. Mostly around the mouth area, that’s the worst. In the 4th case, I even saw gaps in the mouth were the model wasn’t finished.

 It’s a shame since the visuals of the cutscene video’s give another impression of this game. This game might have looked so much better if they polished up the animations. They could have looked a whole lot better, since you know that TellTale is able to create amazing stuff.

Why did I play this game?

I can be rather short about the music. In this game, the music isn’t meant to be memorable or catchy. It needs to set a certain mood. The music does this job perfectly. It gets me in the right mood to try and solve a murder case and to catch bugs. If you watch the series, you might know that one of the characters is very interested in bugs. In each case, there are several bugs hidden and if you find them all, you get a bonus.

Talking about the bonus content, while it’s a nice addition, it’s quite lackluster. When the title of the bonus material says: “storyboards of case 3” for example, you just get three storyboards of a fragment that took 5-6 seconds in game. They are quite underwhelming and they wouldn’t add to the experience if you want to 100% the game.

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You might start to wonder why I even beat this game. I point out mistakes in almost every category. Well, this game is a good game but it mainly lacks polish. The sound effects create a great feeling of actually being a CSI but not all the time thankfully. It also gives you the feeling that it is fake, created for a TV-show.

All elements of this game blend together quite well and if you put the time into this game instead of focusing on the negatives of this game, you get a nice experience. Before I forget, I have a few things to mention before I go to my conclusion.

First of all, the saving system is just wonderful. Thanks to the automatic save system, I didn’t need to worry that my progress would be lost.

The difficulty of this game is right in the middle. While this is one of the easiest games I played in the series, it can be challenging and puts everything you learned in the tutorial case to the test.

Anyways, I think I talked about most of the things I wanted to talk about, about this game. So, let’s get on with the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Animations can be quite bad.

– The interface isn’t always good to work with.

– No cloud saves.

The good;

+ Acceptable visuals.

+ Nice experience for a CSI fan.

+ Easy but sometimes challenging game.

+ Decent length.

+ Nice and responsive controls.

+ Great voice acting.

Final thoughts:

I said it in my last paragraph, this game lacks polish. If TellTale put a bit more time into the animations, the interface and the game as a whole… I think this game wouldn’t get such a bad rating.

This game can be quite a fun game in the right hands, but if I need to look at it objectively: this game is a mediocre one. But as a fan of CSI and point-and-click games… it isn’t half that bad.

If you start to play this game, don’t set your expectations too high. It isn’t a masterpiece and it’s flaws show quite clearly. If you look passed them, you get 5 interesting cases to play through that each CSI and crime story fan will enjoy.

Score: 70/100.

Game Music #5: My Favorites ~ I just felt like it. M’kay?

image_1Read more articles like this.

Apart from story and gameplay, the music is extremely important in a game for me. So, in this series I talk about my favorite musical themes I have encountered while playing. I have to have played the game and not looked at a review in order for it to appear on this list. I try my best to not have any tracks appear on the lists twice. If I slip up, feel free to leave me a comment. Anyways, enough introduction. Let’s start with the 5th entry in this series. 

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#1: Monkey Island – Main Theme

Link to the song

Monkey Island, what an epic series. I have various games of the series in my collection and I’m truly ashamed that I haven’t finished them all. While I wrote two articles about this series already in the past, I can’t get enough of it.

The writing, the story, the setting, music… It just falls into place quite nicely. And the main theme is a theme I learned recognizing thanks to hearing it over and over in my YouTube playlists.

Why did it play so much? Since the track is addicting to listen too. You truly feel like a Caribbean pirate, ready for an adventure. If only I finished the games so I can write more articles about this series.

#2: Club House Games / 42 All Time Classics (DS) – Concentration

Clubhouse_Games_coverLink to the song

Lord damn, is this a catchy tune. The title truly fists the music. Concentration. I feel rather focused on my game when this song starts playing.

But why this game? Let’s be honest here, it might be a very unknown game for some of you. And it’s a shame. This is THE best party game on DS besides Mario Party then.

And it’s extremely addictive. My sister and myself have played this game a lot when we were younger. You know, under our sheets in the hope that our parents didn’t catch us playing. Anyways, worthy for an article. Keep your eyes open for it.

#3: Divinity Dragon Commander (PC) – On The Prowl

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Link

Buying this game just for the soundtrack was totally worth it. But the gameplay is also mind blowing. While I truly suck at the game, I love every moment of it.

This game is a whole lot of fun and has one of the best orchestral soundtracks I have ever heard in a game.

I wish I could say more about this game but since I recently got it, I can’t say much more then this. Sorry for that. Let’s move on to the next one.

#4: Pixelmon (PC – Minecraft Mod) – Distant Shores

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Link to the song

Wow, wait what? There is music in a mod for Minecraft? And it’s selected for on of my favorites? Well, yes, indeed. Pixelmon is one of the most amazing mods in Minecraft that I have seen. I’m planning either a review or a Game Quicky on it.

It’s a mod that doesn’t clutter your game with bunch of new ores but rather adds a ton of new things to do. It makes all the other Pokemon games feel linear.

So, I’m going to leave it here for this track since I’ll write a more extended article about this mod in the future.

#5: Electronic Super Joy (Steam) – Vee

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Such a shame! I haven’t added any of the tracks of this game to my favorites list. While this game has a ton of tracks that I truly enjoy. It’s mindblowing.

I talked about it in my article. I meanly wanted this game for it’s soundtrack. And this game is just epic. It made it’s level design around the music.

For more things about this game, read my first impression article. I linked to it a bit higher.

#6: Age Of Mythologies (PC) – (Fine Layers Of) Slaysenflite

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There are a few games that truly give me a nostalgic feeling like this one. Okay, that’s a clear lie. I have a ton of games which give me a big nostalgic feeling. Since I played a ton of games in my childhood. But this one is one of the biggest. I bought this game first in a garage sale.

Sadly enough, it was the single game and it was in French. All the more reason for me to work on my French. Then I bought the Gold Edition of this game and gave the French copy away to one of my friends.

Till this day, this is the only RTS that I have fully beaten. I have to say, it’s an extremely though game and it will challenge even the experienced players.

The Egyptian track is one of the tracks I might list in another one of these articles. Yeah, that rule of no 2 songs of one game in one article is stopping me now. Anyways, this game is worthy of an article. Man, so many games to write about, so little time.

Closing words

This article might be a bit shorter then usual but I just got loads of work for college. My apologies for that. There are going to be a bit less articles then usual. Like you guys and girl have noticed already, I came back to weekly articles instead of one article each 2-3 days.

Besides that, I hope you enjoyed this article. Maybe you found some new games you could play or some new tracks to add to your library. I thoroughly enjoy writing these and I wish I could have made this one a bit longer. Oh well, I have a few idea’s for number 6 already so who knows, it might happen very soon.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day.