Review: Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (GBA) ~ Here Come The Horns

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Bulbapedia entry

My family and I take yearly trips to the seaside. I remember on the trip of 2003, we stopped in a big toy store. There was a Gameboy SP present with a demo version of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. I played it in the store and knew what I wanted to buy at the end of the trip. I wanted my own Gameboy Advance SP with the new Pokémon games. It didn’t take long before I got my very own copy of the games and that I started playing it. Now, after I have finished all three games, it’s time to take a look back to the games and decide if it was a good decision to buy and play these games or that these games actually belong in the trash. So, let’s review these games. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the article and/or games.

Plot and such

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This game starts like every other Pokémon game starts. You move to a new town where you are asked to help the professor to set out on a journey to explore the new region. In this game, the characters are rather interesting. For some reason, the rival characters and various other characters are one of the most memorable in the whole Pokémon series.

Truth to be told, I think most has to do with the fact that Pokémon was right at it’s absolute peak where I lived then. Everybody was talking on the playground about the latest Pokémon they caught and how the new anime season was running at the same time then you progressed in the game. This made the game more memorable to me. So, it might possibly be nostalgia blinding me.

So, I really think that the writing in this game is really well done. Also, the secrets you could discover in the game were fun too. There was a way to catch three new legendary Pokémon in a complete side quest. In this side quest, you had to read braille to enter a door. And I didn’t look it up on the internet, I actually used the guide provided to me in the manual to translate the braille into readable letters and figured it out that way.

What’s even more interesting, you can use these three Pokémon to trade them into the next generation and unlock a special Pokémon that way. That’s a big positive in my book!

Horns & flutes

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This game has quite amazing presentation. I dare to argue that even to this day, this game holds up quite good. Just think about it, this game’s engine is the basis of most Pokémon Rom Hacks.

It’s the last 2D Pokémon game, since the 4th Generation went into 2,5D. But, Pokémon Platinum, Pearl & Diamond are for another review.

Something a lot of people point out about this game is the soundtrack. In nearly every track, there is a (French) horn and/or a flute present. While I enjoy listing to the soundtrack, I have to admit that this soundtrack lacks variaty in its instruments. But back in the day, I didn’t really mind it. The jump in quality from the previous generation was just too big.

Visually, this game is bright and colorful. I really love exploring the Hoenn region. I love exploring it so much that I even explored it several times. Yes, I played through this game several times. Something that added even more life to the game are the animations in the overworld. Things like the rain and the sandstorm or the tracks you made riding your bike in the sand made the game come more alive then ever.

A lot to do

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So, this game introduces quite a lot of interesting new mechanics to play around with. Let’s first start with the new battle mechanics. This game introduced double battles. This is such a great addition to the series that to this day, spin off ideas are put into the main series Pokémon games.

That reminds me, the gameplay of this game is really good. The whole adventure in this game is one of the best adventures you can have on the Gameboy Advance (SP). But honestly, isn’t that a given with a main series Pokémon game?

So, in this game you also have secret bases. I have to admit that this was one of my favorite features ever. I wish they implemented into more Pokémon games. I had high hopes when they were re-introduced in the next generation as bases in the underground side-game.

And let’s not forget about the Pokémon contests, berry mini-games and the truckload of changes to the battle and breeding system. This game brought so much new things to the table, there is a lot to do in this game before you have seen and done everything.

Do I have something negative to say about this game? Honestly, one thing. That this game works with a battery. Now-a-days, the battery will have run dry and time based events won’t happen. If you can look passed that, you have a great game ahead of yourself.

This game’s difficulty curve is pretty great. Apart from the rematches of trainers. I rarely lost those. But that’s a nitpick, since you can choose when you do those rematches and I did them when my team was overleved.

The last thing I want to talk about is the controls. And guess what, they work brilliantly. I have nothing to complain here.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time we go to the conclusion of this article.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The internal battery can run dry.

-No multiple save slots.

-A bit more instrument variety would have been great….

The good:

+ … yet the overall soundtrack is pretty great.

+ Good writing and pacing of the story.

+ Good difficulty curve.

+ Interesting and fun side adventures can be had.

+ Trading with the next generation!

+ Secret bases

+ Pokémon Contests.

+ …

Conclusion

If you would ask me which generation is the best Pokémon generation. I would honestly doubt. Each generation has something I really love about it. And this game is no different. When I was preparing and when I was writing this review, I had trouble finding flaws in this game.

It might be because a lot of nostalgia, it might because this Pokémon game is that good. If you are a Pokémon fan and you haven’t play this game, I urge you to check this game out. It’s really good. I might not have mentioned a few things in my review, but you’ll find out soon enough. The post-game content is the best in Emerald by the way.

In any case, thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to see you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Score: 100/100

Review: The Legend Of Zelda – Minish Cap (GBA) ~ Easiest Zelda Game?

The_Legend_of_Zelda_The_Minish_Cap_Game_CoverZelda wiki entry

Ah man, I have a ton of memories of this game. I played this game when I didn’t have enough money to buy games myself. I was quite young. If I remember correctly, I was just getting into high school. So, I was 11 – 12 years old when I rented this game from the video game store. I almost finished the game before my rent time was over. So, after I returned it, I rented it the next weekend. As it turned out, somebody else rented it and saved over my save file. I was so let down, I actually didn’t play the game that much. After a year or two, my local game store stopped renting out games. They sold them all second hand. Then I bought this game and I finished it in a week. But how was my experience? Well, let’s take a look at it! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game. 

Easy?

45103-The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_The_Minish_Cap_(U)(DCS)-6So, I claim in my title that this is the easiest Zelda game in the series. And I stand by that claim. This game is rather on the easy side. Not only that, it’s quite short. But more on that, later.

The story in this game tells the story how Link got his green hat. Once every 1000 years, there is a special festival for the Minish. A race that helped create the master sword. Link is the grandson of the blacksmith with the Princess Zelda as childhood friend.

You get asked to deliver a sword to the King. After you play a bit around on the festival, you see Vaati, the winner of the sword contest destroy the Master Sword and turn Zelda into stone.

That’s all I’m going to “spoil” from the story. (It are the first ten minutes of the game anyways.) The story is pretty well crafted. The characters are memorable and written pretty well. There is one thing that Nintendo implemented that I’m not a big fan off. That are the Kingstones.

These stones are pretty much the ways you open secrets in this game. You find them all over the world and your goal is to match your piece with somebody else. Then you open a cave or something along those lines. On paper, this can be interesting… But in theory, it isn’t. The two flaws here is that you see where the secret opens AND you have way and way to many Kingstones in the end. This gives the Kingstones less value and ruins the fun.

New items

zelda_minish_capGraphically, this game looks amazing. It gives off some Wind Waker vibes. The world is really colorful and bright. It’s really pleasant to look at.

The animations also give off this Wind Waker vibe. There isn’t anything I didn’t like about the visual presentation of this game.

What I really liked in this game was the world design. In this game, you can shrink down to a really small size, to the size of the Minish. This makes some locations that more memorable. When I replayed this game I often thought: “Oh hey, there are Minish living in this roof.” Oh, also, like in the Legend Of Zelda Link’s Awakening, this game also has references to the Mario games. Have fun looking for them!

In this game, you get some classical Zelda items like the boomerang and the bow and arrow. Yet, there are also some new items. The Mole Mitts you can use to dig your way in certain areas. A special cane that helps you flip over enemies and an upgraded Roc’s feather. You get a special cape to jump around. This cape also makes your jump longer. Oh yeah, and the vacuum cleaner… I mean the gust jar. This nifty item can suck up air and spit it back out. Guess what it’s used in a water puzzle.

The items are used very creatively. But one part that is introduced extremely well is the Four Swords. When you defeat a dungeon, you get a new element. With this element, you can create clones of Link in certain places. This makes the puzzles in some areas really well done.

Earlier in the review I said that this game was easy. To a seasoned Zelda player, this game can be easily beaten. When this is your first Zelda game, it will take you a bit longer. I felt that in some areas, the game could be a bit harder. It’s one of those games you play through because it’s a fun game. The atmosphere is there.

Music

 45103-The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_The_Minish_Cap_(U)(DCS)-16The music in this game is one of the strongest points in this game. When I listen to music from the GBA, I think that there aren’t that many soundtracks that sound as nice on the gameboy advance then this one. At least, as far that I played.

The soundtrack also has some remixed tracks from the previous games. This got a smile on my face.

The sound design is well done. There weren’t any sounds I thought were out of place.

The controls are responsive and spot on. I didn’t have much trouble controlling Link. Apart from some ice puzzles, I think the controls are perfect.

This game isn’t that long. Instead of the usual 8 dungeons and one final dungeon, this game has 6 dungeons. I wished there were a bit more dungeons then that.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time for the conclusion! (Oh, for my new readers… Yes, I left some things out. Gameplay wise and such… Just because if you are interested I want that there things that you can discover.)

Conclusion

The bad:

 – Kingstones aren’t well implemented.

 – This game isn’t that difficult.

 – I wished this game was longer.

The good:

+ Solid gameplay.

+ Fun new story.

+ Nice visuals.

+ Great music and sound design.

+ Fun new items.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game is quite well made. It came out near the end of the Gameboy advance’s life cycle… So, it’s a bit overlooked. While it’s not the best Zelda game out there, it’s a really good one. Apart from Zelda fans, I would recommend this game to any new Zelda player. This game is the perfect entry level Zelda game to start with the series.

While this game has some flaws, I think it doesn’t take much away from the experience. I didn’t find that much negative things to say about this game. That’s why I give it full marks. It’s one of the best games out on the GBA and it’s a must own!

Score: 100/100

Anyways, thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article sometime, but until then… Have a great day and game on~

My top 10 GBA games. (Part 2/2)

Game Boys AdvanceLink to part 1.

After a crazy busy week, I finally found time to announce my top 5 GBA titles. The comments on the first part were exactly what I hoped them to be. Popular titles that everybody puts in their top 10 will be mostly absent in my top 10. Since I go for the more obscure titles, that deserve the spotlight. Games that are good, but never get a spot in any top 10 due to some flaws. Anyways, enough talking. Let’s take a look at my top 5 GBA games. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section about your top 10, the content of this article and things like that. 

#5: Tomb Raider Legend

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I own both the PC version and the GBA version of this game. My young mind was blown when I saw how many similarities there are between the GBA version and the PC version. While the GBA version isn’t as much fun as the PC version, I did have quite a lot of fun with it.

This game gets also a special award from me, for the most easiest final boss ever. I can beat the final boss with my eyes closed, on hard difficulty. It’s just ridiculous.

One advice I should give is that the DS version is just a big mess. The GBA version is just a nice game that takes the portable Tomb Raider games to a new height. Give it a chance and remember that it’s a GBA game. Also, the final thank you in the credits is just amazing.

#4: Scooby Doo – Mystery Mayhem

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A game about a TV-show, what can go wrong.. I mean, what can go right? Well, this is a great platformer/adventure game that is totally Scooby-Doo themed. The reason why I love this game is mostly because the nostalgic value to the show. This game is thankfully no cash-in.

When I discovered that one of my favorite bands at that time actually made one of the theme songs for the show, Simple Plan, my love for the game grew even more.

While I haven’t fully beaten this game, I can’t get passed the final boss, I did see a friend beat it and I saw the ending. The final boss is brutal. That’s one of the only remakes I can give at this game in my opinion. Maybe I should replay it to review it…?

#3: Nicktoons – Battle For Volcano Island

2549Link to my review

The people who have read my review might have seen this entry coming. I truly think that this game is one of the best platformers besides Mario that the GBA has to offer. While I don’t own a copy anymore since I mostly remember this game from rentals, I still do hunt for it.

Every time when I go to a garage sale, I hope to find it. I would accept any copy, even without the box.

If you want to read more about my opinion, go check out the review.

#2: Pokémon Ruby – Sapphire.

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This game is the black sheep in the series. The 3rd generation wasn’t very well received. Which is strange to me, since the pre-orders for the remake at the end of this month are quite high.

The only complaint I have with this game is that the soundtrack has a lot of trumpets. I know that this is going to get me some hate, but Ruby and Sapphire are actually my 2nd most favorite games in the series. Most has to do with the introduction of secret bases. The next entry, Diamond and Pearl, perfected that with making it multiplayer.

I’m quite curious what the remake has in store for us. I actually have high hopes. I try to avoid reading other content to not get spoiled. Sadly enough, it already happened. The hype grew even more for me. I just wish it doesn’t let me down…

Some honorable mentions.

Okay, before I talk about the obvious number one, let’s have some honorable mentions.

  • Golden Sun: This game can’t go in my list since I haven’t beaten it. Sorry Q, it might be for another time.
  • Avatar – The Burning Earth: Such a great game to play. I enjoy it quite a lot. The password system is just amazing.
  • Crash – Mind over the mutant: If only I finished the final area before the time of the rental was over, then this game was allowed to be on my list.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Blue Rescue Team: The reason why this game didn’t make it on my list is because the DS versions already made it on the top 25 DS games list. Yeah.
  • WarioLand 4: I still have to beat WarioLand 4. I enjoyed WarioLand I and II quite a lot. I never got a hold of the 3rd game, but I got the 4th game for free.
  • Metroid Fusion: I still have to beat you.

#1: The Legend Of Zelda – Minish Cap

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Yup, my fans might have seen this entry coming from miles away. Not the GBA remake of the very popular “A Link To The Past” but the Minish Cap.

This handheld title is quite a lot of fun. There are sadly enough some flaws. The game is quite short, easy and the Kingstones aren’t so much fun in practice.

I had beaten this game while I was renting it. My honest advice is that you rent it, unless you are a Zelda fan. No, I’m joking. Play this game, since it’s one of the best adventure games the GBA has to offer.

I think that this game is more meant for the younger, newer Zelda fans. To get new players hooked to an awesome series. That’s the reason why it’s so… well, easy.

Closing words

This list was a bit tougher to put together then my DS list. The main reason is because my memories of the GBA time are fading a bit since the DS was such a huge hit with me. And back in those days I also played a lot of other games. So, my connection was less strong the with the gameboy or the DS.

In any case, I hope that some games you didn’t know got your attention. Feel free to play them, since I recommend all the games that I talked about in this top 10. And with this article, I close my GBA month. Thank you for sticking with me, and I hope to see you next week for a new article. Take care~

My top 10 GBA games. (Part 1/2)

Game Boys AdvanceIt’s time to do this month’s most difficult thing. That is deciding which games go in my top 10 favorite GBA games and which ones just miss it. In the finale of my last special month I wrote about my most favorite DS games. I think I’ll keep this at a two part article and keep it at a top ten. While  I can smell the classic and cliche top 10 already being written in the comments, please keep in mind that this is my list and I put games on here that might be here for nostalgic sake. But feel free to rage at me in the comments for not having played certain games. I know. I have a huge backlog of games I still wanted and have to play. A big rule here is that I have to finish the game or came near close to it. Anyways, let’s dive right into the last 5 entries. 

#10: Brother Bear + Lion King game pack

d4_28750_0_2Gamesin1BrotherBearTheLionKin A game of a movie that’s actually good? Actually two of them? Yes, it exists. These two titles came bundled into one game for me. I was quite skeptical since I never saw the Brother Bear movie and I was such a long time since I saw the Lion King movie.

But, both games where diverse and quite fun to play. Both games where solid and fun GBA entries. I still remember how I asked my family to stop longer in shops while shopping since then I could play my gameboy and finish a level. I was that into the game.

I think I might replay it one day, so that I can write a review of it. But you can count on me, these two games are epic!

 #9: Wolfenstein 3D

0399So, as a kid I didn’t had a lot of PC-time. When I heard rumors of this game, I couldn’t believe it at first. I wasn’t allowed to play games like this on the computer, so I had to wait until the gameboy advance game was released.

At first, it went under my radar, as in I didn’t notice it was released. But as soon as I started playing, I was hooked. This port isn’t flawless, as the controls are a bit stiff and there is a lack of a map screen. But, for me it wasn’t game breaking.

I enjoyed playing the game the whole way through. I played it on nearly every difficulty. The biggest negative to me is the lack of music. While that adds to the atmosphere in it’s own right, I felt that they should have added some music.

In any case, this game makes it on my list because of nostalgia. Not because it was a very good game, it’s a mediocre port, but I liked it.

#8: Spider-Man series

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This is the entry where I think I’ll get the most hate for. Who, in their right mind, puts a movie game on a top 10 best GBA titles list? Only somebody as crazy as me. So, why are the Spider-Man games on this list again?

Well, because I was kind of obsessed with Spider-Man after I saw the two movies. In the stories I wrote around that time, I included a character that resembled Spider-Man.

When I saw Spider-Man 3, honestly, I thought I was a good movie. I haven’t read the comics or watched the show or anything like that, so I didn’t know how much they killed the original story. But, that’s a discussion for another time.

When I started playing this game, I liked it. It was a good movie game. The two first movies got a game on the GBA as well and I got fun memories of those as well. Hrm, that reminds me, I might take a closer look at them in the future?

 #7: The Sims 2

The_Sims_2_GBA_box_artworkSo, do I really need to explain why this game is on my list? Maybe you could read my previous article, that was a review of this game, again?

In any case, after I finished writing the review, I played that game for a few hours again. Just because the nostalgia was taking me over.

I already talked about this game at length, so I don’t think I have to explain much about the game in this entry. If only the bike you get rode faster. That’s a minor nitpick I forgot to mention.

Also, here is a clue to how you can get money very easily. Recycling is a big part of it. Use it wisely and try to investigate how it works. I’m sure you will find it out!

#6: WarioWare – Mega Minigames

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So, if you look at various other top 10 GBA lists, you don’t find this game as an entry, but you find the sequel: WarioWare Twisted. The reason why I don’t put that game on here is because I only found out about that game when I researched this game after I finished it.

This game opened the door for me to the WarioWare series. I always wanted a fun collection of mini-games with an overall story-ish thingy. Since then, I started playing every WarioWare game. I haven’t played Twisted yet. Since I haven’t found a decent copy.

I have beaten this game multiple times. My favorite mini-games are those of … Damn, I forgot his name. It’s that character with the yellow helmet, who plays retro games. 9Volt, I think? Yeah, that must be him.

The end of part 1

Anyways, to avoid having a massive long article, I think I’m going to leave it here. I hope you enjoyed reading my first 5 entries of my top 10 GBA titles.

Please keep in mind that I have to have beaten the game before I consider putting the game on my list. This is also my list, so it’s quite possible that some games that you liked aren’t going to be on here. I also played what I wanted to play. So, I tried to stay away from the overly popular titles.

Anyways, enough rambling. I hope you are excited for part 2. It will arrive soon.

Update: Here it is.

Review #036: The Sims 2 (GBA) ~ Showtime!

The_Sims_2_GBA_box_artworkThe Sims Wikia entry

When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to spend too much time on the computer. So, that’s why I actually played a lot of handheld games. When I heard that the Sims got popular, I got myself the Sims 2 on my Gameboy Advance. While the early Sims adaptations weren’t the same as the original game, I did enjoy myself with this title quite a lot. But, there is a catch. Now that I’m older I can take a better look at it. Is it really as good as I remember? Or is it actually a terrible game? Well, it’s time to take a look at a Sims game from my childhood. Are you ready? I hope so! Also, feel free to leave a comment down in the comment section about the content of this article and or this game. I reply to every comment. It’s also creates a big happy feeling for me, so feel free to comment away. 

 

Story… In a Sims game?!?

sims2gba

I couldn’t believe it myself at first. A sandbox game with a story. Well, to make this game fun they wrote a story and it’s quite interesting. You are in a TV-show but nobody of the citizens of the town know of it. While you complete the story, you have to try and make an entertaining TV-series.

The story might be cheesy and forced, but it’s a good move of EA. I don’t think the gameboy advance would have been a great platform to port a Sims 2 game on. The actually tried to make something creative.

Actually, to be honest, the story is quite decent. It isn’t the best that you have seen from EA, but when I’m able to recall parts of the story, some characters and such, then the story has done it’s job.

But, this is actually extremely risky. Thanks to the story, this game isn’t very well received by Sims fans. I can honestly understand why. This game just has some Sims elements but that makes it far from an actual Sims game. The fans just had other expectations than this.

Showtime

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So, in between episodes, you are able to upgrade your skills. This makes the game quite interesting. Since you need to decide which skills you are going to work on. If you don’t work on the right skills, you might not be able to advance in the next episode.

Talking about episodes, let me get one thing clear. A big flaw in this game is that, in order to see the epilogue episode, you have to connect with another Sims 2 GBA game. This has been a very bad move of EA and you can’t actually play the last episode now on a legit cartrigde. Unless you are very lucky and you find someone or you do it by yourself. That was such a disappointment.

Thankfully, the last episode you can play without linking up wraps up the story nicely. So, yeah. But the final episode is there, waiting to be played. But you can’t due to the reasons explained above.

The gameplay is actually quite nice. You run around, solve mysteries, talk to sims, decorate your home… Well, there are various things to do. This game isn’t linear at all. The experience each playthrough will be quite different. A nice secret is that you can enter the directors room while playing. Of course nobody is there, but it’s a nice touch.

An awesome thing is that there aren’t annoying bars that you need to keep up. This way you don’t need to babysit your Sims’s needs in order to have an enjoyable time with the game. There is just one bar, used for everything. Every action like eating or sleeping will raise that bar. But if you repeat those actions, it won’t raise that bar. The way to drain the bar is to have your actions being rejected in a conversation.

There are also mini-games. While I don’t have the time to talk about them in this review, I can honestly say that they are quite good. I enjoyed playing them back when I was trying to beat this game and while I was replaying this game in order to review it, I enjoyed myself messing around with the mini-games again.

Other things

GBA--Sims 2 The_Nov4 11_04_11We are nearing the end of this review. So, it’s time to talk about the other things outside of the story and gameplay. The length and difficulty of this game are just perfect for this game. While I wanted to play a bit more, I honestly think that they stopped at the right moment. If the game would have been longer, the game might had destroyed it’s own novelty.

The game gets harder and harder each episode, but it doesn’t get too difficult. Getting enough money might be a challenge but as soon as you figure out how to abuse a certain game mechanic, it’s quite easy. I won’t tell how, but there is a way to farm money.

The controls, music and design of this game are quite decent. They make great use of the gameboy advance and I think they help with the immersion. As soon as you give this game a chance, you get a nice experience.

While it’s quite clear that I haven’t talked about everything in depth, I think it’s time to move on to the conclusion. I like to leave questions unanswered so that players who are actually interested in the game might find some surprises. In my reviews I mostly talk about my experiences with the game and talking about it for too long, would be boring in my opinion. Enough rambling, time to give this review a conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The final episode is locked.

– Disappointing for Sims fans

– A way to farm money.

The good:

+ Decent plot

+ Decent visuals.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game has problems for sure. It isn’t perfect. But with the amount of polish that this game has, it makes for an enjoyable experience. The game isn’t very memorable, but it isn’t boring.

While a Sims fan might not have a great time with this game, I think a gamer that likes to play adventure games will like this game and play it until the last episode, they can play unless they can link it to another game.

Anyways, thanks for reading my review. I think I wrote an abrupt ending but I wanted to get this article out before I got too sick. Maybe I might take another look to this game in the future. So yeah. I hope you enjoyed reading this review and until the next review! Take care. ~

Score: 70/100

Game Nostalgia #5: My Gameboy Retrospective

SGame Boys Advanceo, in the last article of this series, I talked about my history with the DS and 3DS. So, I think that it’s now time to talk about my memories with the gameboy series. While I’m supposed to talk only about the Gameboy Advance, since it’s this month’s theme, the article wouldn’t be as long as it should be. That’s why I decided to write a whole article about my memories of all the Gameboy’s I got. That way you have an idea of my journey through the world of gaming, since I mostly only played on the gameboy. That and my hobby of writing was my childhood. So, prepare yourself for a personal story. Feel free to leave yours in the comments or your opinions on my story.

Exploding start

Nintendo Gameboy

The first gameboy I played on wasn’t actually mine. It was my aunt’s. She only had Pac-Man and Tetris. Somehow my young mind didn’t need anything more. It were my first real encounters with gaming, but I was hooked. I used to play games like DuckHunt or Mario Bros. at my nephew’s place, but those moments were then far and few between.

One day, I was at my aunt’s place and I stopped playing since the back of the gameboy started to feel hot. A few moments after I put it down, the batteries actually exploded, damaging the gameboy heavily. That was a big shocker. I didn’t know what to do. My aunt wasn’t even mad, since it wasn’t my fault. It turned out that there was a flaw with the batteries we used, and it leaked battery acid into the system. Yeah.

That story was my earliest memory with a gameboy. A bit later, my aunt started to take me to her babysitting job. At that place, they also had a gameboy and more then one game. I remember it well, it were two girls, two sisters. While they were doing their girl things, I was allowed to play on the gameboy. My love grew and grew even stronger.

I already talked about how awesome my family is. When they saw that I was so much in love with the Gameboy, they actually got me a gameboy. Not only was it the latest model, they got it in my favorite color! To this day, I still own that very silver gameboy pocket. I was so happy, I had my own gameboy. I did jobs around the house to be able to buy new batteries for the gameboy. Then they got me rechargeable batteries, and my life was complete.

Garage sales

Garagesaleloot
I never showed my latest garage sale loot here on my blog. Whoops.

In my childhood, we had this tradition to go to the sea on holiday. Man, always to the same house. I used to look forward to it every single year. Sadly enough, the owners of the house sold it, and the tradition is over now.

But back then, they used to take me to garage sales. So, as a young kid, they asked me to wake up early in the morning in the summer holidays. I honestly didn’t care one bit. Since I was allowed to buy games.

My family didn’t want that I bought a lot of games, now-a-days that’s a very different story, since they were so expensive. A garage sale was such an easy solution. The best thing they did was that they let me roam the garage sales on my own with a notebook and a pen. They said that I could write down the games I wanted and then I had the difficult job to decide which one I wanted.

To this very day, I love to wake up early and go to a garage sale. Every year, I go to around 10 garage sales, if not more. I never go alone, since that would ruin part of the fun for me. The nostalgia of hunting down games, which were pretty rare on the garage sales I went too, is just amazing. The moment a family member bumped me in the arm and pointed to a game, I think they loved to see that sparkle in my eyes of happiness.

Typical me is typical

ss (2012-10-24 at 11.45.23)

Garage sales memories are for another article. I was extremely attached to my games. I was always hard to pick games I had to sell. I had to sell a few games before I was allowed to buy new games. Now-a-days, I don’t have that restriction anymore.

One time I forgot my gameboy at a restaurant and I begged my mother to turn back and get it. I even begged that they called the restaurant so that nobody could pick up my gameboy and claim it.

Later, my gameboy pocket became my sister’s gameboy and I got a gameboy color. Then my sister got a purple gameboy advance and I got a silver gameboy advance SP, the one with the tattoo design on it.

To this very day, I still own most of the games I had back then. Of course, my library of games has grown quite a lot. If only I had the library I had back then, the nights I kept playing on my gameboy would be so much more fun. I remember that I had a lamp you needed to hit a button at the top in order to the lights go out. Since my room was at the end of a hallway, I could hear my parents and a simple slap on the lamp and putting the gameboy screen down, gave the illusion of my sleeping.

My parents knew that I was playing the gameboy under my sheets, but they were never able to catch my red handed. Okay, honestly, they were able a few times but usually, I was always able to dodge the bullet.

I could talk hours about my memories of the gameboy days, but I think I will end my article here. Since I have reached my usual length. I hope you enjoyed reading another special entry in the gameboy advance month. While it isn’t fully about the GBA, I hope you don’t mind that much.

Thanks again for reading and until another article. Also, don’t shit your pants but it’s Halloween.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Pokémon Rom Hacks

Game Boys Advance So, this month I’m not writing a special for the game music. So, I decided to write another special article. Since I did some research on the GBA rom hacks already, I decided that it’s maybe a great idea if I wrote an article about GBA Pokémon rom hacks. I promised it various times on Tumblr. But then some setbacks happened and I decided to delay the article. So, today it’s finally getting written. The first part of the possibly multiple parts where I take a look at Pokémon Rom Hacks. 

Pokémon Light Platinum

Pokemon_Light_Platinum_BoxArtSo, when I was first preparing for this article I wanted to first write a full game review of a Pokémon rom hack. But since my save file of Pokémon Light Platinum kinda corrupted on me, my motivation for this article went out of the window.

Now, I do want to start over with this game. I remember that it was quite fun to play. This hack used the already existing Pokémon to it’s advantage by including new Pokémon. Well, not exactly new… I’m quite sure that the creators of the hack overwrote some Pokémon since the version I played had messed up Pokémon cries.

If you read about Pokémon rom hacks, this hack is one of the most popular ones. While I think some idea’s should make it to a real Pokémon game, honestly… I don’t think that would be a great idea. I’ll explain in my next paragraph why.

Can Nintendo learn from the hacks?

thumbs_pokemon_flora_sky_05

In a way, they can learn from the Pokémon rom hacks but they shouldn’t borrow ideas from them. It’s a strange thing to say, but hear me out out. A hack hasn’t always balanced gameplay, what mainstream Pokémon games generally have.

Honestly, I can’t really put my finger on it why, but my writer-gut-feeling is shouting NO while my gamer-gut-feeling is shouting YES. Things they could learn is that there are people working creative with the universe and maybe do some fan-service by putting in an easteregg in a main series game.

The sad thing is that most Pokémon rom hacks are never finished. They are always buggy. From strange graphical glitches to bad sounds. So, trying to get the actual ideas out of the games, polishing them up and putting them in a main series game would maybe cost too much time.

What I’m happy about is that Nintendo isn’t trying to stop this from happening. Think about it, it’s a good way to keep people hooked on the series. Honestly, I never played so much Pokémon games in my life since I started playing Pokémon rom hacks. But not all rom hacks are the same, in my opinion there are roughly 4 categories.

1. Crappy hacks

2. Visual hacks

3. Full hacks

4. Full hacks with visual hacks.

Maybe some of you guys figured out what the difference is between the 4 categories. Don’t worry if you haven’t done that already, I’ll explain in the next section of this article. You ready?

 Categories of hacks

Pokemon Underworld 1.0 Beta

The first kind, the crappy hacks are hacks that aren’t challenging or fun to play. Hacks where they change the starter Pokémon to a legendary one so that you blast through the whole game, that takes the experience out of the game. Crappy hacks, those are the ones you need to avoid.

The 2nd kind are visual hacks. While I haven’t seen many for the gameboy advance, I found a lot for the old 1st and 2nd gen games. Hacks where all the human sprites are changed with Pokémon sprites. Those can be okay, but I get bored of them.

The 3rd kind are the best in my opinion. Ones where they made a new world to explore but didn’t change may Pokémon around. If they added existing Pokémon, the game still falls into this category.

The 4th kind is such a balancing act. Hacks with new worlds that add made-up Pokémon. I have played a Pokémon hack that added anime characters instead of Pokémon. It was fun, but then the references started and I was completely lost.

My thoughts on hacking a game

Let me be clear here. I’m not talking about hacking a game in order to cheat your way through. That’s something completely different and a subject for another article. Honestly, I think that hacking a game and making your own game is a great thing.

It helps to expand the lifetime of a game before it becomes boring in the fans their eyes. You get to play the adventures other people crafted in the universe.

But most of all, it boosts your skills when you make a hack yourself. You learn to program and fix bugs. You learn to manage a project, which isn’t always easy.

But there is also a negative side to this trend. It opens the world of emulation to people who weren’t aware that it existed. It can also be used to make fun of Pokémon and many other things.

What makes a good hack?

I have played many hacks before I started writing this article. I have come up with some rules that make a good Pokémon hack in my eyes. First of all, you need to have good basic English. If there are typo’s or grammar mistakes, that isn’t so bad… But I when you play hacks with broken English, the immersion and progress comes to a halt.

Secondly, try to pay attention your game design. What I mean here is that you make a game that’s playable and fun. Not one where you need to search for a walkthrough online each and every town. Balance your game and have some variation in your game. Some people play Pokémon hacks to play something different, yet similar to the Pokémon games. Don’t go overboard with the legendary Pokémon either.

Something that adds value is that when you add your own HM’s or TM’s, that they can be used in more then just one cave. Otherwise I feel that they are a missed oppertunity.

Anyways, I think I have talked enough about this subject for now. While I know that this an abrupt ending, but I want to do even more research before I come back to this subject. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to talk about my thoughts in the comments, I will reply to every one. Also, don’t ask me how to get any Pokémon hacks, that is something you will have to Google. Since there is one part in playing Pokémon hacks that’s illegal, which is downloading a rom. Yeah.

Anyways, thanks for reading and hopefully until another article.

Review #035: Nicktoons – Spongebob And Friends – Battle For Vulcano Island (GBA) ~ Again?

2549PS2 version (Article)

Wait, what? I already talked about this game… True, but for the GBA month, I decided to review the GBA version of this game. The game that actually made me buy the PS2 version. I found out about this game when my local game store still had a renting system. I rented this game and I finished it after renting it three times. Surprisingly, nobody deleted my save files. Anyways, I wanted to buy myself a copy of this game, but I haven’t been able to. If somebody has a copy of this game laying around, please contact me. I would love to buy it. Since I really like it this game. But that isn’t what this article is about, isn’t it? This article is about how the game is. It’s a review. So, let’s take a look at Nicktoons – Battle For Volcano Island. How good or how bad is it? Keep in mind that I’m doing this review out of memory and the first few levels I was able to play through some alternative means. 

Different story?

image0230_1163556274So, I already too a look to the PS2 version of this game. Let me tell you, apart from some characters, the story is exactly the same. In the GBA version, there are fewer characters you can play with, but I think that is for the better in this version.

So, in this game you are summoned to free Volcano Island from an evil entity. It’s a story that will appeal to children but it will be bad in the eyes of adults. I could start bashing the game for this, but I think that would be unfair.

The game is aimed at children and people who like a nice platforming game. Those games have in most cases no real deep story or character development. Most platformers add an additional genre to have a better story.

This game is at it’s core a platformer. So, the tutorial shouldn’t take long. Don’t worry, in this game the tutorial doesn’t take long at all. The first level isn’t challenging but it’s a great way to learn the ropes of the game.

How does it play?

hqdefaultSo, you play as one of 4 Nicktoons. Each character has their own special abilities. Spongebob can go through dirt, Patrick can use his air pants to float through the air, Timmy can stretch his arms to … crazy lengths and Danny can use his ghost powers to a certain extend.

The game isn’t very long, but it’s length is quite decent. There are 4 worlds with each 4 levels. Then you have an additional final boss fight. Let me tell you, the final boss fight is a real test of your skills with this game.

Something that might have crossed your mind is that this game is easy. I urge you to think twice about that. The game isn’t as easy as you might think. That’s due to the amazing checkpoint system.

Each time you get hit, you loose a heart. Five hits, and it’s game over. Each hit sends you back to the last visited checkpoint. Each new checkpoint you visit gives you back one heart. So, if you aren’t careful, you have to redo a level over and over again.

There is some replay value in this game as well. In each level, there are several golden hearts. If you gather enough of them, you unlock a special level. But getting the golden hearts is the really tricky part. They are sometimes hidden but most of the time hidden in plain sight. The kicker is that they need pixel perfect reflexes. The golden hearts get added to your total heart count at the end. So, if you get hit, you loose your special golden heart. I promise you, it gets challenging in some places.

Each world has a theme. Well, sort of. The nice thing is that you don’t have to beat every level in order. You have a hub world where you can go and play any level you have unlocked.

The music?

Nicktoons - Battle for Volcano Island-3Some levels might have a bit of back tracking, but it’s done in such a way you don’t really notice if you don’t pay attention to it. Since in those levels you go back in a different way because you gained a new ability.

Visually, this game looks how it should. Bright and colorful. In my opinion it looks extremely nice on the gameboy screen and made me play this game to the very end. Everything has that Nickelodeon vibe over it and all the art styles of the different series mixed without something that stands out.

In terms of the animation, well, it’s quite basic. Nothing really special but it gets the job done without a problem. I don’t have any complaints there.

The music is what it is. It isn’t too memorable  but it isn’t forgettable either. I had the tunes stuck in my head for a couple of days but as soon as I played some different games, I forgot about them. Honestly, I don’t think the game has bad music. No, it’s quite decent but not good. I have that feeling that there could have been done more with the music. The same goes for the sound effects or rather the lack of variety. There aren’t a lot of sound effects in this game. So, I sometimes felt that the action wasn’t… well, action-y.

Anyways, I think I’ll leave it here for my review. I talked about what I wanted to talk about. Let’s go straight on to my conclusion. For the people who are new here, I usually never talk about a game in-depth because I want to leave some things to surprise you when you decide to play this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The music is so-so.

– Weak story, but good enough for the kids.

– The placement of the golden hearts is just brutal.

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Great level design.

+ Addictive gameplay. (You truly use all characters)

Final thoughts:

Okay, I think it’s quite clear that I like this game. I think it’s one of the best games I played on the GBA. Like my last review, this game is an overlooked game because … It looks like a kids game. There are a lot of elements in there for more veteran gamers and there are elements in there for the younger gamers.

This game is a must buy or must play if you are a big GBA fan or a big fan of platformers.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this review. I hope to see you another time on my blog. ~

Score: 80/100

Review #034: Barbie – Secret Agent – Royal Jewels Mission (GBA) ~ Girls Game?

Barbie Secret Agent GBAGamespot entry

I can smell the comments already. I’m going to put my reputation on the line here. Oh, this review is going to be so much troll bait. You know what, I’m not to give a single care. Not only do I want to open my GBA month with a blast of an article, I want to prove something with reviewing this game. Since I got it so busy, I’m saying that the GBA month will last until roughly the end of November. I’ll write a Tumblr update soon to update my shedule. Anyways, let’s get serious. I’m going to review a girl children game for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. I’m going to make it even better. I have beaten this game in my childhood and I wasn’t ashamed of it at all. There is a reason why I approve my comments, to only accept the serious ones. Don’t worry, the troll ones on this one will be deleted. A moderated comment section has benefits. Yeah. As always, feel free to leave a relevant comment in the comment section underneath this article. 

Kids game

secret-agent-barbie-royal-jewels-mission-usaThis game was originally owned by my sister when she was younger. Back then we couldn’t buy so many games, so I played every game I could get my hands on. My sister and I were playing this game together. This game is memorable to me because I have such fond memories with my sister playing this game. ^w^

But why would I be interested as a boy to play a game clearly meant for girls? Well, the subject material does a lot here. Why do boys want to be a superhero? Because that’s something that interests a lot of boys. Being a secret agent gives you that vibe of a superhero and to me it doesn’t matter that it’s a girls toy.

The story isn’t anything to write home about, it’s as basic as a children game can get. But it does get one job done, it draws kids in. It gives a sense of purpose to the game. Thanks to the story we also visit different locations around the world and it gives some great variety in the locations you visit in the game.

Discs

1539Tutorials, it can be such a pain. But this children game got it actually right. The first level is amazingly designed that little children learn to play this game with ease. You first start with a couple of jumps. Then the game hides the game mechanic that will drive children to explore the levels. In each level there are a certain amount of discs hidden. Getting all the discs will unlock a secret.

It never gets explain what the secrets do. At first it looks like a simple costume change. But it goes much further then that. Do you want to know what, well give the game a try. It’s worth it.

The goal of each level is trying to look for the exit. There are several levels ranging from England to China. Each level has various stages. So, this game isn’t a short one either. It doesn’t have a saving system but it does have a password system. So, with this the developers avoid the flaw of having kids save over the progress of the file of their brother or sister’s.

In the later stages of the game, you will be asked to use your gadgets creatively. When I was replaying this game to give it a second look, I did get a challenging time here and there. Yes, even as a 21-year adult. When you aren’t clever, this game can catch you of guard quite easily.

A negative of this game that I remember are the minigames in the final levels. It are the mini games at the start but sped up to a crazy speed. So, you will need less skill and more luck. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this game has mini-games. These are used to open gates and locked doors.

The other thingies.

secret_agent_barbie

This game controls pretty well. It’s fluid and responsive. You will need that because this is a stealth game. The controls are really straight forward. Logical, a kid needs to figure it out.

Visually, this game looks pretty nice on the Gameboy Advance. I have seen screenshots from the PC version of this game and the visuals of this version are quite better. They aren’t anything ground breaking but they do the job quite well.

Earlier I said that the controls are really good. A big part is the animation. Like I said for the graphics, it’s animated like a typical GBA would. This is actually a benefit of the game.

I want to address one final point of this game before I end this game, and that’s the music. Long time readers know that I can talk in great detail about the music of games. I even write a series about it. But there are low chances that the music of this game will appear on those lists. The reason for that is that it’s mediocre. It fits the mood and style of the game but it isn’t memorable. I have a hard time remembering tunes from the game.

And with that said, it’s time to go to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Mediocre soundtrack.

– Minigames are more annoying in the final levels.

– Weak plot, yet good enough to draw in kids.

The good:

+ Fun gameplay.

+ Rewards that are worth it to explore the level.

+ Different level styles. 🙂 (That’s something else for you to discover when you play the game.)

+ Great controls.

+ Password system.

+ Neat visual design.

Final thoughts:

So, if I haven’t proven my point yet; I think I will have to actually literally say it. This game is quite amusing. It isn’t the best game out there, but it’s better then you might think. It’s not just a game that you give your young daughter to enjoy herself. It’s a game that can be enjoyed by young and old.

While the younger audience would be more engaged by the story and setting of the game because they have the more child fantasy, the older audience can find their enjoyment in the great level design and fun game that is presented.

This game might have some flaws but the flaws aren’t game breakingly bad. When you put aside the “Barbie games are for girls” mentally and remember in the back of your mind that this game has some flaws but is very enjoyable, you won’t regret it. Give this game a shot and try to remember what I said in the review. Hopefully you will see that this game is actually well crafted.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this first article of the GBA specials. I hope to see you in another article.~

Score: 70/100