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Review: NG – Spirit Hunter (Switch) ~ Let’s Play A Ghostly Game, Shall We?

Official Nintendo subsite

I have to admit that this year was an extremely crazy year in terms of games for me. So many amazing games have been released and still have to release. When I reviewed Death Mark last year, I was extremely hyped when I learned that a sequel was in development called NG. It was extremely difficult to find even a shred of information about this game since the abbreviation NG stands for various things like a name to companies. In any case, I didn’t have high hopes that this game was coming to the west. Image my surprise when I saw this game in the “Coming Soon” section of the Nintendo Switch eShop. I patiently waited until the release date and when the release date came, I bought it during my break and let it download while I was at work so I could play it right away when I came home. Now, was it worth it? Is this game as good as the previous game or should you skip this game? Let’s take a look at this game, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Let’s play a Ghostly Game, shall we?

This game is the 2nd game in the Spirit Hunter series. The first game was Death Mark. This game isn’t a sequel of that game nor is it a continuation. This game just takes the whole gameplay concept and puts it into a new story and setting.

The story of this game is quite interesting. You play as the protagonist, that you can name yourself. His mother died a few years prior to this game and now he is living alone. His aunt took him in. She is a horror novel author and she runs a bar on the side. Her daughter became quite good friends with the protagonist. One evening, the protagonist finds a black postcard at his doorstep inviting him to play a game with a Princess. He simply ignores this because he thinks that it’s a simple prank.

But, that’s a mistake he is going to regret since not too long after he encounters his first ghost. After that, a ghost kidnaps his cousin and invites him to play a game. If he doesn’t play along, the curse will kill him.

Now, if you have played Death Mark, the curse works quite similar to the Death Mark of the original game. This curse is a sort of time limit in which you have to solve the case of the spirit you have to defeat or purify. Unlike the previous game, the protagonist doesn’t have one evening to deal with the spirit, but he has a bit more time.

While I would love to tell you more about the story of this game, I don’t think that’s a great idea. Since the story is that more enjoyable the less you know in advance. The twists and turns of the story are just amazing. The writing, the jokes, the pacing, the horror… everything comes together quite nicely in this game and I’m bumped out that I have finished this game.

There are some mechanics in this game that even give some replay value to this game. Now that I have finished this game, I want to replay this game and take it in a totally different direction to see where I end up.

This game has some minor Japanese voice acting as well. This isn’t overused at all and it’s used to add some punch to certain dialogues. The voice acting itself is done quite well, the voice acting of the ghosts are personally my favorites. The creepy effects and distortion the developers added to the voice acting is just amazing.

The slider of spooks

An extremely nice feature is the different modes you can play the game in. Like Death Mark, this game contains some jump scares and spooks. They are extremely well crafted and in most cases fit the story nicely. Also, they trigger when you investigate certain sections so it’s quite possible to miss multiple spooks. Some spooks mess with the text or the screen instead of a ghost popping up.

These different modes affect the amount of jump scares and spooks that happen. When you dislike these spooks or jumps scares, you can tone them down and even turn them off completely. I played through this game with all the jump scares intact and I have to say that it added quite a lot to the atmosphere of this game.

The atmosphere is quite creepy, to begin with. The writing draws you into the game and the amazing artwork and illustrations make the world come alive. There isn’t a lot in terms of animations but the beautiful artwork more than makes up for it. For example, the artwork of some death scenes is just extremely well done.

The character portraits, the design of the spirits, the design of the environments… It’s clear that quite a lot of thought and detail has been put into it. I’m quite thankful that the developers added a button to hid the on-screen UI to take screenshots of those amazing scenes to make them even more memorable.

Something that I find a tad bit irritating was the decision to make the “L” button the skip dialogue option. I think that another button like one of the arrow keys on the D-pad would have worked better. Since I can’t count on my two hands anymore the number of times I accidentally pressed the button and skipped a bit of the text. Thankfully, there is an easy way to bring up the log and you can re-read what you skipped.

Everything goes in that log that appears on the screen. From you trying to use an item to decisions you have to make. For some reason, I wasn’t always able to bring up this log easily. In most cases when the log refused to open, I was trying to investigate something. So, quickly going out of investigation mode was the solution.

Speaking of this mode, this is the only mode that allows you to save your game. You are unable to access the save menu while in a dialogue section. Thankfully, the dialogues aren’t Corpse Party Blood Drive long, so an investigation section can be right up the corner.

One thing that I found a real shame is some minor bugs in the UI of the options menu. In one option, the text overflows its checkbox and in another option, they forgot to remove a character at the end of the description. These are minor mistakes that can easily be patched out.

Gameplay-wise, this game is quite addictive. You have to explore the different area’s to either purify or destroy the spirit haunting the place. In order to do this, you explore at night with a partner and search for different subsections of this area.

You explore parts of a town, an office building, and various other locations. You search these locations for clues and items to learn more about the spirit and try and defeat/purify them. The better you explore and investigate the area, the more information you have in the fight with the spirit. If you have played Death Mark, you will feel right at home since it looks quite similar.

I found the gameplay of this game quite addictive. I wanted to keep playing and experience the story to it’s a full conclusion. And yes, now that I have beaten the game, I’m considering playing through the whole game again and trying to take a different route to see where it leads me. I know that this game has multiple endings, but I would love to see how much endings there are.

One extremely welcome improvement over Death Mark I have to mention is that when you want to swap partners, you can do that more easily now. You don’t have to go the whole way back to the mansion, you can easily go to the start of the place you are searching and ask the person directly.

Think quick!

There are some more things to do in this game compared to Death Mark. The items you choose still decide the outcome of purification of the spirit of destruction, but there are more things that matter now. Speaking about that in more detail would spoil certain story sections.

The whole spirit fighting mechanic has been reworked. Now, you don’t have to combine items anymore to attack the spirit, but you have to use your items in the area and analyze the situation. I love these spirits fights a whole lot more compared to Death Mark. The improvements these fights bring to the table are just amazing. It brings a bit more challenge to the table.

On top of that, there are now 2 styles of quick decision-making sections. Both work extremely similar and have the same outcome when you fail. A Game Over. One of these styles is a crisis choice, as you can see in the screenshot in this section of the article. Like Death Mark, the “1000” ticks down as soon as you are able to make a selection. Unlike Death Mark, you can’t find charms to increase this time and it also resets back to 100 each and every time you encounter that section.

Now, this game is quite lengthy. To beat the game, you will need to put give or take 20 hours aside. Let’s not forget to mention the fact that this game is somewhat replayable due to the “emotional reaction system”. Now, you can react with different emotions in certain sections. I have no idea if this makes a difference to the story. But, I have tried it one and it makes the characters react quite differently.

Something that does matter is during some sections you have to make harsh decisions that affect the story to a big degree. I wish I could talk about them, but that would spoil the big parts of the story and that’s something I’m trying to avoid in this review.

Another interesting game mechanic is the “D-Man”. This strange man texts you riddles that you can solve to find cards. These cards contain throwbacks to the previous game or add to the lore of the game. These are a joy to read but contain some spoilers of the previous game. Thankfully, only about the DLC bonus case, so it isn’t THAT bad. Now, the search for these cards works in a very unique way. As soon as you get the text, you have to look around in the area you are in. As soon as you exit the area, you will be unable to search for that card again. You’ll also lose the items you obtained and needed to find the said card. So, be careful.

An easy question to ask is, how difficult is this game? Well, this game is tricky. There are some sections that took me several attempts. In most cases, it was because I overlooked one item or didn’t check my area thoroughly enough. Thankfully, the game is quite forgiving with checkpoints and when you fail a crisis choice or spirit encounter, you can easily restart the whole fight by selecting the wanted option in the “Game Over” menu.

One of the biggest mistakes in this game is the save system in my opinion. I feel that it’s a downgrade compared to the system of Death Mark. There is no autosave, there are fewer save slots and there is less information on the save/load screen compared to the previous game. This is something I wish that will be improved in the possible sequel. Yes, a sequel has been sort of announced/confirmed. You can read more information on the article that Gematsu published a month ago.

The controls of this game are quite simple. They are easy to grasp and master. The only minor thing is that in some areas the spotlight isn’t bright enough to see where the spotlight is on the background art. Thankfully, this happens in only a few places, so it isn’t THAT bad.

Something I’m a bit mixed about is that this game doesn’t have a lot of music. Most of the music is also re-used from the previous game or sounds extremely similar. The music is amazing in this game and I wish I able to buy the soundtrack somewhere. Since I want to add this soundtrack to my music library when I’m relaxing or writing other articles.

And with that said, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I have left out a few things so they can be surprised at you when you play this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article, don’t you think?

Conclusion

The bad:
-Some minor UI elements that could easily be fixed.

-The save feature could have been expanded quite a bit.
The good:

+ Amazing writing and story.

+ Great visuals.

+ The ability to disable the jump scares if you dislike them.

+ Great challenging puzzles

+ ….
Final thoughts:
This game is quite an improvement over Death Mark. Last year, Death Mark was one of my favorite games of 2018. This game is one of my favorite games of this year. This game is the perfect game to play during Halloween. I can’t recommend this game enough for fans of Death Mark, fans of horror games and fans of visual novels. I would even recommend this game to fans of adventure games.

This game is one of the best visual novels I have played in a while. And it’s up to high competition like Ai: Somnium Files. This will be quite interesting in my “Top 10 Games of 2019”. Take it from me, give this game a try. Because it’s totally worth playing and experiencing this game.

Of course, this game has some shortcomings like the bare bones save system and some minor annoyances with the controls but these are easily overlooked and don’t hinder the enjoyment of the game too much or even at all.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this game 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!

Score: 100/100

First Impressions: AI – The Somnium Files (Switch) ~ Kotaro Uchikoshi Is At It Again.

Official website

ai-the-somnium-files-588803.10

One of my favorite horror series is the Zero Escape series. I have reviewed every game here on my blog. I have played through all of these games again this year since I introduced the series to my girlfriend. When I’m reviewing adventure games or visual novels, I often find myself referencing 999, Virtue’s Last Reward or Zero Time Dilemma. Now, sadly enough this trilogy of games has ended with Zero Time Dilemma. Now, last month I learned that the director and main writer of the series were finishing development on a new game. Ai: The Somnium Files. When I saw Kotaro Uchikoshi’s name in the promotion material, I got extremely hyped. I honestly pre-ordered the game right away. Now, do I regret that pre-order or was it worth it? I’m going to give you an answer to that question in the form of this first impression review of the game. And before I start, I always say: feel free to leave a comment with your opinion in the comment section down below about the content of this article and/or the game itself.

Date and Aiba

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In this game, you play as special agent Date who is investigating a gruesome murder. Now, this is unlike any detective game because Date has a special ability. His left eye is quite special. In this left eye, an AI lives. This AI is called Aiba and helps Date to make phone calls, access databases, x-ray vision, zooming and so much more. On top of that, Date can explore people’s somnium, which is created by their dreams. These dreams can help in the investigation whenever you need to get information out of a witness that refuses to give testimony.

The story is quite complex and takes a lot of twists and turns. Like the previous games that Uchikoshi worked on, this game has branching paths as well. Depending on certain actions you take during the somnium exploration, the story can go in very different directions. Now, I have already seen one ending of the game and it even got me a bit emotional while playing it. The writing and pacing of this game are wonderful. While there is some dry and lame humor in this game, the actual jokes work quite well and made me and my girlfriend laugh out loud more than once.

I’m leaving quite a lot of details on the story out on purpose since this game is better experienced without a lot of knowledge of the story. Go in this game as blind as possible. Since the twists are better without knowing them in advance. Which honestly, speaks for itself don’t you think? Now, something that I quite liked is the various nods to the Zero Escape series. Certain sound effects and visual cues come from or are heavily inspired by the Zero Escape series.

Now, before I talk more about that comparison, I want to talk about the voice acting. While you can play through this game with the original Japanese cast, I’m playing through this game with the English voice actors and I have to say that the dub of this game is amazing. The cast has been cast quite well. Maybe I might be a bit biased since I’m heavily invested in the story and now I’m quite used to the voice work of the voice actors.

He is at it again

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The gameplay in this visual novel is quite varied. This isn’t a visual novel where just choosing between a few options makes the difference. In this visual novel, there are various puzzles to solve and dialogue trees to explore. The first gameplay type is simply one where you explore a location. This can be a crime scene or the house of a suspect. In these scenes, the Date doesn’t move around. You explore your surroundings to find various clues and leads. To make sure you didn’t miss anything, whenever the text turns green whenever you move over the cursor over something, that means that there is still some interaction to be done. If the text turns gray, you have done every possible interaction.

So you go through various dialogue trees where you get new information. Whenever you missed something, you can quickly bring up the log and replay the voice clips. Something that I found a bit missing, is a sort of summary of the events that happened. Since very different things happen in the story depending on the path you take. So, a quick summary of past events might be helpful. Especially since there are character bios and a word list where various terms are explained.

Speaking of these character bios and terms, these are handled amazingly. The various hidden jokes and references add so much to the atmosphere of the game. Especially the way how some explanations are written, it’s almost like writers are talking to the player directly. Sometimes even saying that if you want more information that you “have to look it up on the internet.” And as an IT guy, I found the binary joke in one of the character profiles an extremely nice touch.

Now, the exploration in this game is quite limited and somewhat linear. While you can choose which location you visit first, it doesn’t make a difference in the story if you go in order or out of order. So, this is quite linear. Now, the dream sequences are something completely different. Now, if you played any game in the Zero Escape series, you will quickly get used to these sections. These dream puzzles are the escape rooms of this game, but the big difference is that you can move in the whole area.

If you compare the gameplay of this game with any game in the Zero Escape series, I have to compliment this game for improving the dialogue sections of the game. The dialogue and story sections are more involved now and you can choose in which order you experience it. This makes the game more accessible and doesn’t dump a lot of text and story on you all at once.

That said, now the dream sequences and puzzles are a blast to play through. Some of them are a tad bit too easily to my liking, but the later puzzles more than makeup for it. For one puzzle, I even considered using a walkthrough but after a lot of trial and error, I figured it out and it gave me such an amazing feeling.

In each puzzle, you have to unlock various mental locks. You can do this by exploring and interacting with the dream. Because you are exploring a dream, extremely strange things can happen. So, you have to make sure you understand why and what is going wrong. There is a catch, you have 6 minutes to solve the whole puzzle. If you don’t, you get a game over. You can use 3 tokens to go back to a previous checkpoint. If you go back one checkpoint, you use one token. If you go back two checkpoints, you use 2 tokens.

Now, you have to plan your actions right since each action uses a certain amount of time. With some actions, you earn special bonuses that can increase or decrease the used time in the game. It’s very important that you plan ahead and that you are sure of the option you pick. Now, whenever you are standing still, your clock ticks down slower than when you are moving. Take this time to plan out your moves and make sure you aren’t losing time by walking in the wrong direction.

This whole mechanic gives the game a very tense atmosphere. Am I going to have enough time to crack the other mental locks or have I lost too much time in the previous sections? Sometimes it’s better to restart the whole puzzle instead of using your tokens to go back to a previous checkpoint. Now, you can also use these tokens during gameplay. The time you had on the clock is the time you have when you return to that checkpoint. You get 3 tokens for each puzzle and they reset whenever you restart the whole puzzle.

I was pretty interested in the game whenever I saw the teaser trailer, but the gameplay is not disappointing me at all. It’s one of the best games I have played this year. And to be honest, if the quality of the game keeps up during the rest of the game, I think there are big chances that this game might be my Game Of The Year. And yes, maybe my bias towards the author and director of this game might have some to do with it, but you still have to deliver a great product and gameplay and story-wise, I think they more than succeed here.

Pretty and funny

AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES_20190905202822

Visually, this game looks amazing. The detail in the character models and the environment are just amazing. Compared to Zero Time Dilemma, the animation work got a huge overhaul. The character portraits are no longer static, they have the same animation as the actual characters on screen. That way you can still see their animations whenever you missed their animations because you were looking around.

The little details in the animations are mindblowing. For example, there was a scene where a teacher was talking about a student and when she was talking about the student, her head actually moved towards the student itself and the student broke her idle animation and looked at her teacher. These things might be small moments but are moments that give just that bit of extra flavor and atmosphere to the game.

On top of that, the audiovisual presentation of this game is equally as good as the animation. Some parts of the soundtrack reminded me of a lot of the music that’s used in the Zero Escape series. Now, there are some sound effects that are exactly the same from the Zero Escape series like the save sound and some other sound effects. If it’s intentional, I found it a great easter egg for people who played the previous games. Now, it’s also quite possible that they used the same sound library to save some development money and even if that’s the case, I wouldn’t mind at all.

Surprisingly, the composer of this game also wrote the music for BloodStained and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games on (3)DS. The Zero Escape series’ soundtracks were composed by Shinji Hosoe who wrote music for Fate/Extra and Tekken 6. The composer of this game is Keisuke Ito and he did an amazing job with his team to create this soundtrack.

One of the biggest shames of this game is the fact that sometimes those games have some stuttering or some major slowdowns during gameplay. Thankfully these don’t have that often and it only affects the Visuals and not music nor the voice acting. Most of these slowdowns happen during dialogues or when a lot of animation is playing. On these moments, the fan of my Switch didn’t blast me away like in Dragon Quest Builders 2.

If I’m allowed to nitpick just a minor bit, I can’t remember exactly where but there are just 1 or 2 lines that aren’t voice acted. These are very short lines and if you are just following the story, you might not even notice them. I clearly remember that one of these lines was said by Date somewhere in the first few sections of the story. I think it was in a conversation between Boss, Aiba, and Date. But given the whole script of this game, just one or two missed lines is something that isn’t THAT bad and can be easily looked over.

This game has only one difficulty level. The overall difficulty of this game is quite well done, the difficulty scaling is very well done. Some puzzles require some trial and error but once it clicks, the whole thing makes sense. The biggest challenge is in the exploration of the dreams since you need to think fast and think about the time limit.

The controls of this game are almost perfect. The only thing that’s missing is touchscreen controls. But hey, that’s huge nitpick since the controls are quite responsive and easily mastered. Thanks to the amazing UI, I can find any negatives about the controls and UI. Apart from maybe one minor thing. I find the text in the word list and character bios a little bit too small to read when I’m playing in docked mode and when I’m sitting a bit too far away from the screen. All the other text can be read just fine, apart from that part.

I’m also forgetting to talk about something quite important and that’s the save system. While there is an autosave system present in the game, you also have three save slots you can use. Thanks to these three save slots, I’m able to continue to play the game by myself but also save at the point me and my girlfriend left off so we can pick up the game right where we left off when we play it the next time.

Now there is some minor replay value when you want to unlock everything. During each Somnium, there is an eye hidden that when collected and finished the Somnium without failing; you unlock additional concept art. These are quite fun to watch and a great reward for people who explore the game to the smallest detail.

Now, this review is already getting extremely long for a first impression. It’s quite clear what I’m thinking of this game. I think it’s high time to wrap this first impression up. This game comes highly recommend to everybody who enjoys adventure games, puzzle games, mystery games, visual novel games and games like the Zero Escape series. This game is one of the best games I have played in 2019 and I can’t wait to see how this game ends. Apart from some minor flaws like the slowdowns, this game is in my eyes as good as perfect. It’s such a shame that this game doesn’t get the publicity that it deserves. I hope that with this article more people give this game a try and give it the audience it deserves. 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.

One minor side note, this game is also on PS4 and PC.

Writer’s Raid: Tomb Raider III – The Adventures of Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIIWikipedia entry

I remember quite well buying a copy of Tomb Raider IV & V in one bundle. When I came home and placed the install disc for Tomb Raider IV in my PC, I was surprised that Tomb Raider III started installing. I didn’t mind so much, I found the files for Tomb Raider IV on the disc labeled Tomb Raider V. I already owned Tomb Raider V, so I got extremely lucky there. Since I took a look to Tomb Raider IV in the past, I think it would be more interesting for this project to take a look at Tomb Raider III. Now, what do I mean with “this project”? Well, a group of writers and myself took a look at the whole Tomb Raider series and like the Zelda project last year, there is a hub article you can find here if you want to read the other amazing articles.

The Adventures of Lara Croft

TR3-1In this game, Lara is searching for the Infada Stone. When she finds the artifact, she gets approached by a researcher from RX Tech, who informs her about a meteorite that landed in Antarctica millions of years ago. This meteorite was used by the Polynesians to create various powerful stones, one of which is the Infada Stone. So, Lara starts a quest to find all the stones before they fall in the wrong hands.

The story is quite interesting. The main arc of the story, I explained above. But the story takes Lara on several different journeys with their own story. It’s a bit like Tomb Raider V, but the big difference is that they aren’t remembering Lara’s adventures after her death.

So, compared to Tomb Raider II, what is new in this game? Quite a lot actually. The game was primary made for the PlayStation and was meant as a sort of next-gen Tomb Raider. Core Design created a totally new engine for the game and a lot more. If you want to read up on the development, the Wikipedia page I linked above has a lot more to talk about.

The game did rather well. The game scored an average of 7/10 from different publications. If you look on GameRankings.com, the PS1 version even got a bigger score than the PC counterpart. It’s a 5% difference.

Now, the version I have in my collection is “Tomb Raider III – The Lost Artefact”. This is a version with some additional levels included. With these 5 additional levels, the game takes a nice 25 hours to beat the game, making this the longest Tomb Raider game in the series.

The story of the expansion pack takes place in between of the story of Tomb Raider III. So, it’s no epilogue or prologue. Also, this expansion pack was only released for people who owned the PC or MAC version. Sadly enough, this game was sold as a standalone game. The previous two games also had an expansion pack which was either part of a re-release or free to download from the official website.

The game also provided quite a lot of new things and moves to play around with. Lara got some new abilities like using the monkey bars. The new things in this game include new swimming and water mechanics, quicksand and various other things.

I’m glad that I played this game on the PC, since on the PS1, the save feature is restricted. The save feature works sort-of like the save feature in the early Resident Evil games. Where you have to find Ink Ribbons for the typewriters to save. In Tomb Raider III, you have to find save crystals to use the save feature in the main menu.  Since I love to save often in the older Tomb Raider games, I would have been so frustrated if that was also the case on the PC.

During the game, you go to India, UK, USA and Antarctica. You can also visit Lara’s home in this game. If you are a first time player, I highly recommend that you explore Lara’s home first. This way you can get used to the controls and the mechanics of Lara’s jump in the gym. Also, yes, I have fond memories of locking Winston up in the freezer.

How does it hold up?

TR3-2For me personally, this game was fun to play through. The game tested my retro gaming skills quite a lot and I enjoyed walking around the levels. While I had my share of frustrations when missing a jump or not directly knowing where to go, I still had a lot of fun exploring this game.

Now, this game hasn’t aged like fine wine. This game isn’t for everybody. While I don’t mind the dated visuals, I can understand that some people would hate the visuals. The visuals are early PS1 visuals. Yet, I feel they still have some charm and still look better than Tomb Raider I or II.

This game has decent controls. The big issue I have with them is that you can’t rebind the keys easily. There is some trickery you can do, but it shouldn’t be this annoying. Also, since I use an AZERTY keyboard lay-out, some keys were in different places. Thankfully, I got used to the controls after a few levels and I was able to pull of great moves.

Something that did age quite well in my opinion is the music and sound effects. While the soundtrack is extremely short, it’s still a joy to listen too. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the game. It’s relaxing when you are climbing and tense when you are fighting a boss. The sound effects pulled me into the atmosphere of this game.

TR3-3I really enjoyed the puzzles in this game. The only thing I had issues with were the vehicle sections. But, that was mostly because I didn’t know you could speed them up. After I learned how to do that, I had less issues with them. While it’s quite possible to play this game without a walkthrough, I used BadAssGamez’s walkthrough when I was stuck. He finished this game without using any medkits and got all the secrets as well.

In his video’s he also shows tricks on how to skip certain fights or how to easily defeat enemies. If you aren’t used to old-school Tomb Raider games, I highly recommend that you watch his walkthroughs if you need some help in beating this game. If you are used to old-school Tomb Raider games, this game will provide you with various challenges. My favorite level was the 8th level, the Temple of Puna. Mainly because it had various moments that reminded me of Indiana Jones.

I think that this game is still worth a playthrough. If you enjoy playing retro adventure games, I can’t recommend this game enough. I do understand that this game isn’t for everyone. There are moments where the game clearly shows its age. Don’t expect a game with a more modern polish, expect a game that challenges you in various area’s that takes you back to when you were young and played games after homework on your parent’s computer.

If you want to give this game a try, it’s still being sold on Steam for 7€ and on GOG, you find Tomb Raider 1+2+3 together for 9€. So seriously, what are you waiting for?

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game. If you are interested in a full review of this game, please tell me in the comments. I hope you enjoyed reading this article 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.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Gaming Style & Reviewing

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The question I’m asking today is: “Does the gaming style influences the reviews of the games a reviewer played?” and more importantly, should that influence the review? How subjective or objective do you have to be to write a good review? Let’s have a chat about this topic. While I won’t be able to cover everything, I invite you to a discussion down in the comment section and who knows, a part 2 of this article might be written. So, let’s try and answer these questions. 

Gaming style & reviewing

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I recently finished Super Mario Odyssey. While it’s on my “write about” list, I haven’t written a review about it yet. Because I do have a big problem with it and that is the jumping controls.  Don’t get me wrong, they work amazingly, but I can’t for the life of me do those jumps using Cappy to go over further distances.

I have always been terrible at platforming. For my birthday, my best friend gifted me a copy of the game Celeste on Steam. A sort of Super Meat Boy inspired game where you climb a mountain while doing tricky jumping.

I didn’t get too far into the game before I got too frustrated with the game. I did enjoy myself and had a great time, but I haven’t played it too much since I closed it.

Now, how would I describe my gaming style? Well, I’m a jack of all trades. Since I’m a retro game collector, I play puzzle, racing, fighting, adventure, action, shooter… But, I don’t have a lot of genres I excel at. The genres I struggle the least with are puzzle & adventure games.

I also rarely to never play a game on hard mode. I can’t explain why, but I like to play games on normal mode and if I want more challenge, I play the game on hard mode. I think this is because I don’t want to get stuck in the game. I’m always afraid that when I play on hard, I get stuck on a part that I have to do over and over again. I know that’s the point I’ll get frustrated and stop playing the game.

These are things that influence my review. Now, before we break open the whole Cuphead Demo thing again, where a reviewer was so bad at controlling the game; he was unable to get past the tutorial, I’ll always do research. For example, I wouldn’t criticize the Super Mario Odyssey controls too harshly because I wasn’t able to do the Cappy jump while almost every other reviewer was able to do it without an issue.

The gaming style influences the review for sure. That’s why I dislike reviewing games of the genres I rarely play. I only review games in genres I know I enjoy playing. Now, do I think that you need to be good at the game to review it? Well, that’s a tricky question. A very tricky question. More on that later in this article.

Objective vs subjective

maxresdefault.jpgShould you be objective or subjective in a game review? To be honest, I think you should be both. At least, that’s what I do in my reviews.

If I would be writing the Super Mario Odyssey review now, I would say something along the lines of: “While the jumping controls are excellent and work well, I wasn’t able to figure out how you do the dive and/or double jump with Cappy. Maybe I should look through the excellent list of tutorials again. Since I feel like I’m the only one who is unable to do that jump.”

If you stay 100% objective in a review, I dislike reading it. These reviews are playing it safe and don’t have any personality. I love reading and watching reviews because I want to know how somebody felt about a game.

Now, when does a review become a bad review? Well, I think I can explain my point with this example. What if I wrote this about the Cappy jump in Super Mario Odyssey: “The Cappy jump is too difficult to execute if you aren’t a master with the controls of the game. So, if you want to get these moons, you will have to make some frustrating jumps or grind for coins and buy them in the shops.” This is something nearing the edge of being a bad review.

I always recommend that you look up other reviews when you are creating your own. You can agree or disagree with what the masses are saying, but don’t assume things like: “you need to have mastered the controls of game X to execute Y.”

Now, does a reviewer need to be good at a game in order to be able to review it? Here are my two cents: sort of. I have seen various reviewers make the mistake of saying: “A game is easy or you can do X and Y to make things happen.” if they are very skilled with the game. This is a mistake because of one simple reason, not everyone has the same skill set as you.

256px-Indiana_Jones_and_the_Infernal_MachineToday I have been comforted by a perfect example. I showed my godchild how 3D adventure games work like Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. An amazing game that I know inside and out. A game I even dare speedrun here and there. Something that comes extremely naturally to me is running around in a 3D space and using Aa running start to jump over big pits. My godchild wasn’t able to make that jumps and had to try several times. Yet, she still enjoyed playing the game and wanted to see more of the adventure. And before you ask, I was 11 (or something like that) when I had beaten this game for the first time and my godchild is 15 at the moment of writing.

Now, would my godchild write a bad review of this game? Well, yes and no. She would complain about how strange the controls feel and how the enemies scare her in a 3D-space. I think those kinds of reviews aren’t bad reviews per se, to be honest. I don’t think that a reviewer needs to be able to be one of the best players to review the game but they shouldn’t be one of the worst players. I have actually declined a few review requests because I wasn’t able to even beat the first levels. I didn’t want to review those games since I felt I couldn’t do the game justice.

You should at least be able to perform all basic mechanics of the game before you should review it. Otherwise, I think you shouldn’t review the game. Even when you write the review based on the input of other people who are good at the game or know more about the genre, you can have a malformed article, since the soul of the review isn’t there.

You can still enjoy a game even when you aren’t good at playing the game. Another perfect example is Pokémon. I just catch the Pokémon I like and use the same six throughout the whole adventure. I rarely swap my Pokémon for another one. When I have a water type in my party to beat the ground and fire, I’m happy. Even when it’s the weakest water type. This isn’t the best strategy and I always have a lot of trouble defeating the elite 4 or my friends in battle. Yet, I still enjoy Pokémon quite a lot. That much, that I still play it to this day. Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire and Gold & Silver are my favorite Pokémon games ever.

There is one huge thing that I haven’t mentioned throughout this whole thought exercise and that’s the goal of the review. In my opinion, you have two main types of reviews. One is the review to entertain and the other is the review to inform. Some people read reviews of games because they want to know if a game is good or not and/or if it’s something they want to play. Others read reviews because they enjoy reading them. I mostly fall in the latter category and I try to write for both categories.

Does the goal change the fact you need to be subjective and objective? No, not at all. The balance of the two changes. If you write a review to entertain, I feel like you can be more subjective. If you write a review to inform, you should be more objective.

Now, what’s a review to entertain and what’s a review to inform? That depends on the reader and which audience the writer is aiming at. I like people reading my content and coming back for other articles, so I try to make it as entertaining as possible. While I have seen reviews in the newspaper which are written to inform parents if the game is too violent or something of that nature. And the reader’s taste plays an important role here as well. I think that is self-explanatory.

Now, this was an interesting thought exercise. Should reviewers be good at a game? Well, the shouldn’t be the best player in the game but they shouldn’t be the worst. Should you stay 100% objective? No, some subjectivity in the article is good. So, what do you think? Let me know down in the comments. I’m rather curious what you think and what you think about my opinion.

Thank you for reading my 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.

 

 

PSA: See stolen content from content creators? Content theft!

Today, I had an unpleasant surprise this morning on the train to work. I found out that two websites actually stole my content! This was such a let down since the amount of content that was stolen from me is more than just one article. It’s almost all my articles from December. While I was working on contacting other sites and blogs that got content stolen, a good blogging friend of mine Drakulus wrote this article. And it’s actually a great lesson to learn. 

What do you if you come across stolen content? Do you ignore it? Or do you do something about it? What if the stolen content you come across is yours? 

WordPress is a great place to publish content of all sorts. Some people like to use it as a diary. While others, like myself, us it to express their love for gaming by reviewing games, writing excellent opinion pieces, and being active within the WordPress community. Some people, however, don’t use WordPress for any of those things. They use WordPress to steal another people’s work and post it as their own. They use it to make money by leaving half links to the creator’s blog to avoid suspicion and they use it to attract followers that would have no idea that the content that they’re reading and enjoying belongs to someone else. That’s what we’re here to talk about today. 

A fellow blogger has had a good chunk of his content stolen by two different blogs. The blogger is NekoJonez and he and I decided to write a piece on how to prevent something like this from happening in the future. The blogs in question are wponlinetutorials and proxly. Now I know I can’t accuse someone of theft without proof. How’s this for proof? (original article, written by me)

That post was taken from NekoJonez without his permission and posted on that site. He wasn’t asked by the owner of the blog if it was okay. They just took it and posted it as their own piece of work. That’s not cool and something needs to be done about it and that brings me to the point of this post today. 

NekoJonez note, if you want more proof, just look at the dates of my article about Nintendo Pocket Soccer Club. I published mine on the 10th of December and this ripoff blog published it on the 17th December. Yeah. 

If you want to do something about this to prevent this from happening again we need to look out for each other. We need to report these people that are doing this crap so they’ll know we’re serious about defending our hard work. I don’t know about you, but it takes me a few hours to write a single article sometimes. And if I knew someone was profiting from my work I would be pissed too and that’s why I’m doing this. I went through both blogs and noticed a lot of stolen content. Most of it is from NekoJonez, but other blogs were stolen from too. 

We’re bringing this issue to light and you can too by opposing this. Stealing is bad and shouldn’t be tolerated. Help us take these guys down by reporting them to WordPress. Click here to file a complaint. If enough people come forward and do this WordPress is going to have to force this person to remove all their stolen content or remove their blog completely. 

Let’s stand together and defend our work from thieves that are looking to profit from it.

NekoJonez here again. So if you notice other blogs or websites just copy and pasting somebody else’s content without using it in a good context, notify the content creator as quickly as you can. Personally, I wouldn’t mind people quoting me or using excerpts from my article to talk about their points, but if you copy the whole article, that’s another story. The content creator always needs to give permission before you use it, it’s just etiquette. 

I really want to thank everybody who already helped me file complaints about this so we can resolve this issue as soon as we can. I’m really thankful to all other bloggers who actually reported the stolen content as well so this will be resolved.

If you notice my content ever being stolen from another blog, use my contact page/DM me on Twitter or any other social media platform.

If you notice other bloggers content that gets stolen, like I said before, contact the blogger in question before you take action. If the content owner wants you to report it as well, he or she will ask.

Also, try to not make a big fuss about it at first. Why am I saying this? The reasons are simple, don’t wake sleeping dogs AND don’t give a website unneeded traffic. Who knows, they might have a system with links setup, that every time they get clicked they earn money.

I think I can speak for all of us content creators here, we are always thankful that our audience reports stolen content to us. This way we can avoid people abusing our content and avoiding creators giving up on following their passion!

It’s never fun to see your content stolen since you put your time and effort into it. Having to deal with researching, contacting hosts and WordPress and other blogs who got content stolen is so time-consuming and you lose time spent elsewhere in your life. On the other hand, you could argue that we shouldn’t care, but what’s the point then of writing content again?

Thank you for reading this PSA written by me and Drakulus. Thanks for all the support and help! Feel free to tweet this article out, share it on Facebook or on any social media platform so we can raise awareness to this issue and start fighting it.

(PS: How ironic would it be if this article gets stolen from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog and posted on one of those bot/stealing websites)

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

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7More music article right here

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

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

Side note about the honorable mentions:

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

Favorite PC soundtrack: Rise & Fall – Civilizations At War

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

First Impression

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

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

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

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

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

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

260px-OracleofagesYouTube playlist with both games’ soundtrack

Oracle of Ages review

Oracle of Seasons review

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

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

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

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

Favorite GBA soundtrack:  Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire & Emerald

Ruby_EN_boxartYouTube playlist

My review of this game

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

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

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

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

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

Full OST250px-MD_Sky_EN_boxart

Review of the game

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

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

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

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

Favorite 3DS soundtrack: Stella Glow

SGCoverRGBYouTube Playlist

My review of the game

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

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

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

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

My favorite Wii U soundtrack: Hyrule Warriors

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_BoxartSoundtrack

First Impression

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

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

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

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

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

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

My favorite PSP soundtrack: Corpse Party Blood Driven

Corpse Party (USA)

Soundtrack playlist (Includes soundtrack of sequel)

Review of this game

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

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

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

My favorite PS1 soundtrack: Tomb Raider II

Tomb_Raider_II.png

Full OST

My review

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

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

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

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

My favorite SNES soundtrack: Lufia II

Lufia_II.jpg

Full soundtrack

First Impression

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

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

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

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

My favorite Wii soundtrack: Okami

okami-wii-boxart

Soundtrack part 1Soundtrack part 2

First Impression

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

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

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

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

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

Dragon_Quest_VIII_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King

Full soundtrack

First impression

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

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

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

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

My favorite Android soundtrack: Game Dev Story

YouTube playlistGameDevStory

Review of this game

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

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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

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

First Impression: Rise and Fall – Civilizations At War (PC) ~ RTS with First Person Twist

_-Rise-Fall-Civilizations-at-War-PC-_Wikipedia entry

This game brings back so many memories. But recently, I fixed an old computer that runs Windows XP. I was looking in my collection for some games to play and I came out in this game. I installed the game without a second thought and started playing it again. So, in this article, I’m going to share my opinion on this game from my latest playing sessions. I tried to not be nostalgia blinded for this first impression. So, it’s time that we gave this RTS game a shot. I could have reviewed this game but I played more free games instead of the campaigns, so since I haven’t finished all the campaigns, it’s a first impression. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Who do you wanna play?

Rise&FallScreenyIn this game, you can play as different major historical figures like Julius Caeser, Cleopatra, Achilles, Sargon II and 4 others I won’t spoil for you. I have now played the first introduction campaign and a handful of free games. So far, my favorite character to play as is Cleopatra.

The voice acting of the characters is pretty well done. But something I noticed while playing with Cleopatra, is that the heroes don’t have taunts or speak when you aren’t in first person mode. That’s a shame because the voice clips of the first person mode could have been easily used in non-first person mode.

There are two main campaigns, and that’s about it. But, there is a very big campaign editor in the game that’s easy to use and has a lot of tools to play around with. So, you can download and install additional campaigns easily. It’s a shame that there aren’t too many custom campaigns floating around on the internet. I have to admit that I haven’t played any custom campaign, but I will fix that in the near future.

In the two main campaigns you play as either Alexander or Cleopatra. So far, I have only played parts of Alexander’s campaign and the story is rather interesting. You play through his journey to the throne. I wonder how Cleopatra’s is going to be.

The presentation of the past

rise-fall-civilizations-at-war_14

 Visually, this game looks quite nice. While you can see the game’s age in the graphics, I think that they hold up quite i well to this day.

I love the menu of this game. It’s quite easy and simple to use. Also, the demo movie of this game is playing in the background while you are browsing the menu. That’s genius.

I have played this game both on a machine that can handle the minimum specs and on a machine that can run this game in HD twice. On the minimum machine, I noticed some slowdown in the animations when there were too many things on screen, but the game seems to not go in “not playable” mode.

The animation are quite nicely made. I especially love how the game looks in first person mode. It made me miss the ability to rotate buildings. Since I like to build statues at the edge of my city and walls around that, so I can’t see them in first person since I can’t turn them.

But the soundtrack, let me tell you, it’s one of the best ever soundtracks in a PC game I have ever heard. I love to put the soundtrack on to write articles or to just casually listen too. It’s one of the best soundtracks I have heard in years for RTS games. It might be one of my favorite soundtracks ever made to be honest.

Charge!

304997-rise-fall-civilizations-at-war-windows-screenshot-main-menuSo, in this game you have a RTS game with a first person view mode. You can watch and control your hero when he/she reaches a certain level. Then, with one easy press of the button, you can control your hero and do their special moves.

Each hero has her/his special abilities and weaknesses. When you are selecting your hero, you always get a very descriptive textbox telling you what they are. Each civilization has two heroes you can pick from.

There are a few other things that are handled differently in this game then in your typical RTS. First of all, you don’t have to collect food. Secondly, you don’t have to go through the ages to unlock technology, you have to upgrade the level of your hero. Thirdly, there isn’t any siege workshop, your villagers build your siege units. There is also an adviser and glory system. But, I leave that for you guys to figure out.

Something I really love in this game is that you can place units on top of your walls. Also, your regular units can’t attack nor destroy walls. You need the special ladder units or siege units for that.

You can also climb any ladder in first person mode. So, when you see an annoying siege tower in your enemies base, go in first person mode to climb up it and kill those archers.

There are so many details and things I love in this game, I could continue for quite a bit more, but I’m convinced that when you enjoy RTS games, you will enjoy the breath of fresh air this game is.

Also, something that threw me off guard is the fact that each map has a special goal you can meet for winning the scenario. So, be warned, some are economic goals and can creep up on you before you know it. But, you can disable these goals before you start the single player match.

I’m certain that this game has me hooked. Apart from the slowdowns on the older machine, there isn’t a lot that I think this game does wrong. I do have some nitpicks, but I have mentioned them all in this article. When I finish both the official campaigns, I think I will write a full review of this game and give my final opinion on this game.

But for now, I think it’s time to wrap this article up. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much I enjoyed writing this article. Thank you for reading and I hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Publishing: A look at survival games – An infographic.

One of the most popular Role Playing Game among our enthusiasts is Resident Evil.  A series of survival horror video games against recurring outbreaks of zombies and monsters.  It is such a popular game that profits from the Resident Evil franchise alone are worth over $6 Billion, while similar games with various titles from the maker of Resident Evil, Capcom, sold more than 46 million titles. 

Batting for the Resident Evil franchise, the 5th series is the 3rd best selling game with over 8 million copies sold.  That alone generates $803 million dollars in sales revenue. It would be unfair to the other franchises if we only give credit to the 5th franchise. The Resident Evil franchise released seven installments for the game with the top 5 series clocking their sales revenues between 543 million dollars to 803 million dollars.

All the Resident Evil series releases keep getting better and better — which just justifies our ache for more. The series defined the horror survival game since 1996. Introducing gamers and non-enthusiasts alike to the era of high definition realistic blood and gore.

With the success that the gaming industry is getting, it is interesting to think about and actually find out what makes the perfect survival video game. What makes people go out and buy the game, and then keep a look out for the next series?

Check out this amazing infographic presented by MikesGearReviews.com that goes through the whole Survival Video Game Industry and reveals how profitable it is to develop a survival video game.

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Source: https://www.mikesgearreviews.com/survival-video-games-industry-infographic/

Personal note

Thank you, Mike, for sharing this infographic with us. It makes me think. Since would you consider a game like Minecraft or Zelda – Breath of The Wild a survival game? And what elements does a game need to have in order to be a survival game?

That’s a question I’m thinking about. But, this infographic is a nice base. In any case, if you are interested in survival gear and reviews of them, feel free to check out Mike’s website.

Thank you for reading my 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 blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Gamer’s Thoughts: “Games are a waste of time”

gamedealsHappy Mothers day 2017! A phrase I hear my mom saying from time to time is: “I don’t understand why people enjoy games.”. That question actually made me think. Why do we gamers enjoy games? Why do people who don’t play games see them sometimes as annoying or time wasters? Well, in this article I’m going to give my two cents in the discussion. As usual, feel free to leave a comment about your opinion and/or my opinion in the comment section down below. 

Why do I play games?

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First of all, let me explain why I play games. In an article last year, I tried to explain why I play games. But in most of the article, I talked about why I collect games.

So, why do I play games? Well, I think it’s because of several reasons. The first reason would be because I grew up in a time where playing the Gameboy was the hip thing to do on the school playground. Pokémon was extremely popular when I was in elementary and I was hooked. Then my family took me to various garage sales and flea markets. I bought more and more games on the Gameboy and I got hooked.

The second reason is because it was a very easy conversation topic. When I was on a trip, I was able to talk to other kids easily thanks to games. Phrases like: “What are you playing?”, “Have you played game X” or “How far are you into the game?” are phrases that often crossed my lips as a child. I made so many friends thanks to games.

A 3rd reason would be that I was so interested in reading and telling stories. But why am I less addicted to movies or books then? Well, the interactivity is the biggest reason. The fact I can make a difference in the world the game is so important to me. That’s why I love games that have a great story.

So, in conclusion, I think due to nostalgia and the interactive nature of gaming, I got hooked on gaming and never let go. Nowadays, I even have a 4th and 5th reason. My 4th reason is that I’m interested in how people get entertained by games. If I had the right skills, I would have studied game design.

And my 5th reason is this blog, honestly. I love to share stories of games I played. And writing a blog about them is one of the best ways to share them. The best way is YouTube, but I burned out on making videos…

Why do people play games?

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I’m quite sure that gaming is here to stay. While some hardcore gamers won’t like the next sentence, but due to the casual mobile gaming market, there are much more people play games than ever before.

The fact that gaming is a national sport in South Korea and that people earn their living with playing games are more proof that gaming is here to stay.

I think that the reason why people play games is similar to why people watch Netflix all day or read books in their free time. It’s their way of entertaining themselves. To relax after a (stressful) day at school or work.

People will always look for a way to entertain themselves. Another reason is that the current generation is growing up with a culture where video games are everywhere. Speaking about that, games are becoming more and more accessible to young children. And look at me, when you do something since childhood, it isn’t easy to let go.

Why games can be annoying/uninteresting

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0 When I ask people who don’t play games, I sometimes get a reply like: “I don’t have the time for them” or “I’m not interested in them.” Which are both very valid arguments, in my opinion. But they aren’t good answers to why people can find games annoying or a waste of time.

Well, I have a few theories for why people think that games can be annoying. Keep in mind, this is just a theory. Why I think people find games annoying. Also, let me make on thing clear, I’m talking in very general terms in the following theories. I know that we as humans are a more complex race.

My first theory is that people don’t like the interactivity of the games. They enjoy TV-shows where they can sit down and just take in the content. Or you could replace TV-shows with movies, books, plays, concerts…

A 2nd theory is one I think makes a lot of sense of the older generation. The fact that they didn’t grow up with games but saw children and teenagers grow up with them. In their eyes, games would be a toy for children and for teenagers, so their interest fades away. “Why would something that’s meant for children is any use to me?” is a thought that summarizes this theory. A generation gap if you will.

A 3rd theory is because they don’t see the appeal to games. They don’t understand what can be so engaging in playing games. Also, they don’t understand what additional value games can bring to people since most games are entertainment games. There aren’t a lot of gamers who play educational games just for fun. And I mean, that their favorite genre is educational games.

A 4th theory is the loud toxic minority that gives us gamers a bit reputation. People who do violent things and then blame it on violent video games. I think that media outlets especially can be a problem in this case. Since they give non-gamers the impression that every game is so violent and that it taints people their brain. Maybe we just need to get past the phase that certain styles of music and movies went through.

But, I’m getting off track. What I mean with the loud toxic minority are the people who actually go out their way to make the gaming community look like a bunch of unwelcome jerks. People who won’t help others to play games. Thankfully, there are a lot of forums, websites, and networks that are meant to welcome new gamers with open arms. But sadly enough, it’s the loud toxic minority that sometimes gives communities a bad reputation. And people tend to generalize… So yeah, I think I made my point clear here.

So, that are a few theories I have. I wonder how you guys think about them. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my theories. But please, keep it civil. I’m open to discussion, but I’m not open to flame wars.

Wrapping up

So, should we force people to play games? Well, no. We should ask them why they don’t like games and invite them to give games a chance. I accepted that members of my family don’t enjoy playing games. I don’t enjoy reading that much while my mom loves to read a lot of books.

Before I forget, this whole article has been inspired by the quote of my mother I used in the introduction of my article. So, thank you, mom, for this great idea! I hope you had a great mothers day today!

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

Review: Bioshock Infinite (PC) ~ Columbia High

162247_front.jpgOfficial website

At the end of last year, I took a look at BioShock. A game that started an amazing series. While there are rumors of a 4th game in the making; I’m pretty excited. Look up BioShock Advent if you want to read more rumors. But for now, I think it’s time to take a good look at the last game in the series. BioShock Infinite and the Burial At Sea DLC. Also, this is my opinion. I know that this game is seen as a masterpiece by many. So, yeah. I played this game right after I finished BioShock 2. (Which is a fun game in my opinion). I tried to avoid spoilers in this review, so if you haven’t played the game yet; don’t worry, this one is as spoiler-free as possible. In any case, as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

Pay off the debt

2013-08-03_00027.jpgIn this game, you play a man called Booker DeWitte. (Fun fact, when you translate this name from Dutch, it’s “TheWhite”). You are transported to a lighthouse to pay off your debt. When things go wrong, you suddenly end up in the city in the sky called Columbia, which is the Rapture in this game.

And that’s all I’m going to say in terms of the story. The story is one of the best-written stories in the BioShock series in my opinion. It stuck more with me than the previous games in the series. That’s because the interaction between the two main characters, Booker and Elizabeth, are just amazing.

To some people, the ending of this game is pretty confusing. I understand where they are coming from since the pacing in the end of this game isn’t that good. The last half hour of this game is a big exposition dump. It wraps up the story nicely, but when you don’t understand what they are saying… you get lost in the meaning of it all.

The story in the DLC, Burial At Sea, wraps up the trilogy nicely. Be warned, the plottwists in this game are extremely well done. You will get your money’s worth from the DLC’s.

The voice acting is pretty well done. I felt that the voice actors really loved to play their characters. This charm pulled me into the game even more. Even the voices for the enemy characters are pretty well done.

A side note for the people who loved the choice system from the first two BioShock games, there isn’t that much too choose in this game. So, be warned for that. This game has only one ending instead of various ones like in the first two games.

Same but different

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Plasmids return as vigors. Audio logs return as well but in more time appropiate. This game has a very similar vibe as the first two BioShock games but it stands on it’s own two legs as well.

Visually, this game is mind blowing. This game takes place in a very detailed city.

Each area is extremely well designed. This way, every fight feels different since there are so many options to take.

But what I really love in this game is the attention to detail. When you are at a point in the story you made Elizabeth mad, her expression shows that. Sometimes I even felt that she was a real person. It’s that well done in my opinion.

Each area you visit is varied and feels real. I didn’t notice many “this needs to be here since a player needs this to progress.” stuff.

The visual presentation and pacing of this game made the story come alive even more. When I hear a song of the soundtrack of this game, my mind wonders back to the city of Columbia and the memories I have playing this game.

Speaking of the soundtrack, this game uses various famous songs. Songs that were created in that time period. Anyways, the actual soundtrack to this game is very dynamic. In this game, you have sad songs and happy songs. Tense songs and scary songs. It all depends on the situation. There wasn’t any track I didn’t like.

Before I forget to mention this, I finished this game on normal difficulty. This game gave me a great challenge. When you die in this game, you loose money. And believe me, without money, you will have a very harsh time. The harder the difficulty, the more important money is.

There is also a challenge mode in this game. In this challenge mode you test your skills with this game. And the challenges it sets can be pretty tough and unique.

Almost there…

 bwbb_ONLINE_large._V376368071_.jpgThere are a few things I think this game could improve.

The controls of this game are pretty well done. They are very responsive and feel logical to use. But I have one issue with them. Why do you have to change the pick up buttons between the main game and the DLC? This is a real shame since it confused me an afwul lot when playing the DLC chapaters. When I’m used to press “E” to pick up items or loot… Why suddenly change it to “F” in the DLC chapters?

The menus in this game are pretty good, but some minor tweaks would have made them even better. When you have a list, there is no way to scroll up and/or down with your mouse. This is a shame, since this would have been useful. Also, when there is a list (like in the “Choose Chapter” option), there is no scroll bar. So, you have no idea where the list starts and where it ends.

One of the best features in the game is that Elizabeth searches for supplies during fights. This saved my skin serval times. But there is one nitpick that kind of ruins it for me. When Elizabeth wants to throw you something and the fight is over… You can’t receive it. I experienced this various times.

Also, there is only one autosave slot. This is a shame, but not a big deal in my opinion.

This one is a nitpick, but I really wish was possible. When you start an attack with your vigors, there is no way to stop the attack. So, if you use it at the wrong time, it’s lost energy for you.

In any case, this game is almost perfect but there are here and there some small issues. Issues that could be fixed with a patch. But I honestly think they shouldn’t be patched. Since this game is perfect with it’s minor annoyances. Since they don’t bother the experience of this game that much.

Anyways, it’s time for the conclusion of this review. Since I said everything I wanted to say about this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

-A few minor issues like no scroll bars or changing the controls slightly for the DLC’s are present.

The good:

+ Amazing story and voice acting.

+ Beautiful visuals.

+ Perfect attention to detail.

+ Fun gameplay with the vigors.

+ Enjoyable soundtrack

+ …

Verdict:

This game is a must play for people who like very story heavy shooters. This game has some amazing moments that will stick with me for a long time. I even boot this game up from time to time to play a random chapter. To try out a new strategy to finish the chapter.

This series and this game has me hooked. The praise this game gets is really well deserved. When this game hooks itself into you, it won’t let go.

I enjoyed myself with this game and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Anyways, I’m going to wrap up this review. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. Have a great rest of your day and I hope to welcome you another time on this blog! Take care and game on :).

Score: 99/100

First Impression: Venture Forth (PC) ~ Alpha Peek

logoOfficial website

First of all, this is an impressive project. This game is made by a small indie developer and has been in development for over two years. They mailed me because they wanted me to take a look at this game after I wrote about Delver. Since this game is in the same style, they thought I might be interested in it. Indeed, I am. While it took me a while to take a look at this game since I was extremely busy, I finally found the time recently. So, let’s dive right into Venture Forth. This article is written on an unfinished build of the game, this is also mostly meant to hype the game a bit and give some feedback to the developers. Ready, let’s go! Alpha build of the 4th July, here we come!  (And as usual, feel free to give me a comment with your opinion of this game and/or the content of the game.)

Warning: This game is in one of my favourite genres. Also, I wasn’t able to make time to write this article, so I had to push it back for almost two months. And also, when I’m asked to write an article, I try to give the best feedback possible. So, prepare yourself for a longer article then you are used of me.

What needs more work?

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The developer said to me that some of the visuals are place holders. So, I’m not going to talk too much about that. While I honestly think that some items and 3D textures look mighty fine already, others like a potion is just an arrow in this current build.

Most likely, the fact that we are missing a menu for options like key-bindings, starting a new game and all that is something that is still in development. If it’s not, please would it be possible to give the player the option to change how they want to control the game? I live in one of those weird keyboard countries where the lay-out of my keyboard is not qwerty, but azerty.

An annoying bug I found in the game is that when you want to switch from full screen to windowed mode, it kept running in full screen. This game uses the usual enter+alt method, which is no big deal. But they might want to look into this bug. Hopefully it’s not because of my own made pc.

This is just a feature suggestion of mine. The map is set up quite interestingly, but what if you give each area a different colour on the map. Makes it easier to see which area ends where. Just a minor thing.

Something that’s not that minor is the lack of lighting in some areas. Don’t read me wrong, I think it’s nice that they went for the realistic approach and make the areas where natural light can’t come through, it’s extremely dark. But when you use a torch, it gives off barely enough light to even properly navigate the dungeon. The area “The Nest” was a perfect example of this.

Labyrinth 2014-10-22 02-49-56-15I could complain about the lack of a tutorial yet, the game controls and plays like any other typical dungeon game. One thing I think they should really change and that is the starting area. You start out having to jump down a ravine. Not once, but if I recall correctly, about three times, you loose some health and this will set off a handful of players to not play the game. It’s not really inviting and it gives the game the first impression of using cheap tricks. At least in my opinion.

Same with some puzzles. This game uses a few puzzles where you barely get any hints. Without spoiling too much, let me tell you. When you are stuck and have nowhere to go, try a staff. It took me way too long to figure this out. I’m not saying it wasn’t rewarding to find this out, but a subtle hint when you enter the area would be nice. But really subtle. In the current version of the game, it was a nearly see-through wall. Hinting that there is something at the other side. But before you got there, it was a long hallway. Maybe put in the rocks an image that looks like the staff somewhere in that hallway? That’s what I mean with subtle, something you wouldn’t notice or easily miss.

Before I move on to the more positive parts of the game, I want to talk about something that won’t help with the first impression as well. The first enemies you encounter are a bit too strong in my taste. Actually, that’s just a nitpick, since if you know what you are doing, the enemies can be quite the pushovers.

What is already good?

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I’m not going to give criticism on the music. Well, honestly, the ambient music that’s playing in the background. The reason is that it helps building the atmosphere quite well. That there is only one melody/track that plays, I can understand. It’s an Alpha after all. If they weren’t planning to add some more music, then a problem could arrive. Some players would get annoyed by the repetitive music and this would turn up as a negative in various reviews.

Earlier I talked about the map system. As a fan of these style of games, I could start complaining about the difficulty to see rooms and all that… Honestly, I think the map is one of the best features in this game. It’s a fully 3D view of the world you play in. It also shows some hidden things in the map, most likely put there from the developer to control the game. (read: spawning enemies or helping with the lighting of an area.) Which is a really cool touch.

That the enemies aren’t shown on the map is something I’m on the fence about. On one hand, you could say it’s annoying since you can’t plan your strategy. On the other hand, it really helps build fear into the game. You never know if an area is safe to cross or not.

The game runs quite smooth already. I got a steady 60fps, which is quite nice. The sound effects are actually perfect for this game. There weren’t many sound effects I would change. I would add a few here and there like for when an enemy switches equipment.

Yes, that’s a thing. Later in the game, the enemies will switch weapons. Long range combat, they will use a bow. Short range? Well, prepare for a sword fight. In this game, you can also prepare a few load-outs. Choose carefully though, since this game doesn’t offer an inventory system. So, that means, when you want to use your potions, you will have to use a load-out. You can also equip two items and armour. Logical, since we only have two hands. This is the reason why you need to plan out your strategy quite well.

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So, the actual controls are mighty smooth. While I think they should add a run button in the full release, the aiming and such is extremely nice for an alpha. Also, this game would benefit from a crouch move where you can’t fall off ledges, like in Minecraft.

I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about so it’s time to wrap up this article.

Conclusion

I really love where the game is going. I understand that this game is still in alpha and needs some polishing. But truth to be told, the base game is there. The core idea is present and it puts a new spin on exploration. It’s not simply a clone or just an explorer game. It tries to do something new with the different load-outs you can easily switch between and the amazing map.

It can become a great game, if they worked on expanding the first impressions that the game gives you. If I would give it a score in it’s current state, while keeping in mind that it’s an alpha build, it would be around a 7/10.

Thanks for letting me play this game, I actually enjoyed myself. Don’t be afraid to send me a review copy when it’s fully released guys, I will for sure write a full review about it then.

Anyway, I think I will leave it at that for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed preparing and writing it. And please, give their official site a look, they deserve it.

First Impression: Lego City Undercover – The Chase Begins (3DS) ~ Mediocrity at it’s best

Lego_City_Undercover_The_Chase_Begins_box_artOfficial site

One of my favorite YouTubers made a let’s play of the Wii U version of this game. When he finished the game and when I saw this game sitting on the shelves, I picked it up. I didn’t do any research on this game so I went in blind. In the back of my mind I was afraid of a bad port of the Wii U version. When I started the game those worries were put to rest. The intro to the game is slightly different. I kept playing the game, and then I got distracted by some other games. Now that I’m trying to beat it for a review, I thought it was a great moment to reflect on my current experience with this game. Is this game a worthy alternative to the Wii U version or is it just a cash-in? Let’s take a look. As usual, feel free to leave a comment on the content of this article and or the game. 

Mediocrity at it’s finest

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This game is a weird one. The story has a similar vibe to the Wii U version, yet it’s different. Once I read that the 3DS version is actually a prequel to the Wii U game. If that would be the case, I would give the story a thumbs down. Since it doesn’t explain many things from the sequel.

The story is told through cutscenes. Some of them are movies and others are text boxes. Here the game already makes a huge flaw. Only some things are voiced. The 3DS can voice a full game. Virtue’s Last Reward is an excellent example of this. This was a big letdown for me.

The cutscenes are voice-acted. The voice acting has very high quality. The reason for that is simple. The voices are from the same people as the Wii U version. I’m glad that’s the case since otherwise I would be let down even more.

The problem with the story is that some things aren’t explained very well. As a hobby-writer I found a few moments where I sighed deeply. “How did Chase find that clue?” or “How does Chase know exactly where that is?” and many other questions often came to mind.

The story is worthless as soon as you put some thought into it. So, my advice is, just take it for what it is. A bland story based of the Wii U version.

Mediocre?

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The music of this game is rather enjoyable. But I can’t decide if it’s memorable or not since they just used the music wrong. Most of the game has barely any music to it. I had moments when I was exploring that this game was actually silent, apart from the sound effects.

But when the music does play, it plays the same music in the same events. That isn’t a huge problem, but it makes the songs go boring rather quickly.

Since it’s a thing lately, the game runs at a steady framerate. I never had any slow downs. While I’m on the subject, the game does have to load here and there. Sometimes the loading is a bit too long for comfort. I wish it loaded faster.

The game takes place in the various areas. From a prison to the woods,they are very varied. Unless you played the Wii U version, then you will recognize most areas. I started to have a feeling that they first wanted to fully port this game to the 3DS, yet they decided in the end to make something different with the source material. But I have a bigger fear. I’ll talk about that later in this article. First, let’s talk about some other aspects of the game. Like the visuals, difficulty and the gameplay. In the next section of this article.

Push that button.

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The gameplay is repetitive beyond belief. In each area you have to fight enemies, do a side quest and then fight even more enemies. The repetition makes the game go boring really quick. I started to play this game while I’m on the train since then I can listen to the announcer when my train arrives in the station I need to get off.

The controls, that’s something I have to address, they are just… flawed. To change costumes, you can use the D-pad. The circle pad is used to move, but it goes so slow. I always go from point A to B in a vehicle when possible. The game uses the motion sensor of the 3DS, and there is no option to change that. Why? I don’t want to look like a crazy dude on the train.

Visually, this game isn’t anything groundbreaking. There are some places you can see how they worked around the limitations of the 3DS, yet I haven’t seen any flaws with it. There are some animation flaws I noticed. Mostly flaws in how they show a location in a cutscene and how it appears just moments later.

I’m reaching the end of my article. I think some parts of this game should be explored more in my review when I have beaten this game. But before I close off this article, I want to talk about my fear of this game.

I think they were developing a port at first, but then changed to make a different game. But this game was developed together with the Wii U version. The team had to split it’s resources over the two projects. The Wii U version got the love, and rightfully so. They made a solid gem of a game on the Wii U. That makes the 3DS version underdeveloped in some areas, and it shows. At least, that’s my theory of this game. I have to dig a bit deeper on this.

Anyways, that’s everything for my first impression. I hope you enjoyed reading it as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week when I kick off my GB(C) month! Hopefully until then, take care.

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

First Impression: Nickelodeon – Avatar: The Legend Of Aang (PC) ~ A messy pile of junk.

Image from Spong.com

Image from Spong.com

Wikipedia link to the multiplatform game article.

I’m going to not mess with you guys. This game is a pile of junk. I saw scores of 5 out of 10 for this game but that’s way to much for this disaster. Honestly, I own also the PS2 and GBA version of this game and it’s a lot better then this game. The PC game nearly feels like an insult to the series, gamers and fans of the show alike. I’m even surprised that THQ published this train wreck.  Never have I seen this bad of production quality for a game released in 2007. Yeah, it made me facepalm several times. I bought this game as a free game along two other games and I kind of regret paying my hard earned cash as a student for this game. For any parents that want to buy an Avatar game for their kids, stay away from this game. I’ll fully play this game but it’s already clear to me that this game is going to get an extremely bad score. Let’s dive into my first impressions of this “game”. 

Signs of bad things to come.

I wished I had seen this at the store but the box-art betrays already that this game is actually a bad game. The first thing that betrays the bad state of the game is “Journey through 6 exotic locations.” Yup, six of them. And here is the cherry on the cake, it’s the very first sentence on the box after the expected: “Water. Earth. Fire. Air.” So, the game length must be short. But I can forgive that for a game based on a TV-show since they are mostly meant to milk money out of your pocket(s).

But then I look to the system specs. And this made me drop my jaw. What I saw may shock you. This game, released in 2007, can run on Windows 98/ME/2000 and XP. No mention of Windows Vista, that was released a year before this game. The low system specs really made me worry. avatar1

Then I opened the box. No instruction manual nor advertisements. Odd considering it’s from a TV-Show. But for whatever reason, the developers decided that it’s a good idea to put the installation instructions on the disc itself. I’m quite serious, it’s on the disc. What you need to do when the game doesn’t start automatically.

And it made me skin crawl reading it. Most computers have DVD drives for a while now, and they still use CD’s? Yes, this game is using a CD-Rom. It isn’t shy to hide it. It display this on the disc itself. I had to take other games to actually confirm that other games didn’t have this and some big games didn’t have the CD-Rom logo.

It gets worse.

Naamloos

The lack of (decent) screenshots, I can explain. I had to go and make screenshots myself. This game is actually skipped by a lot of reviewers and that’s another sign of how bad this game is.

In addition to that, the game has no option menu. So, you can’t adjust the controls, or change your screensize. Oh no, that’s too advanced for the developers of this game.

What’s also to advanced is creating an acceptable installation program. It’s as basic as you can get. Even the name is slapped with red letters, almost with paint. With annoying background music. The installation is annoying. Plus the disc spins so fast that I was afraid my disc was going to be damaged.

Then to the launcher. The game is even bad there. It has an option to re-install the game. Sigh, what’s the use? Let’s go to the actual game. Let’s not rant about the bad menu and the possibility to replay the introduction movie. And that the extra button doesn’t have an animation.

In game.

The controls are awkward. You barely use the keyboard. Walking goes extremely slow. The game plays like a point and click game. The dialogues are extremely cheesy and not enjoyable. The tutorial is basically in a conversation and it made me sigh extremely deep. Plus, you can’t click anywhere to go to the next lines in a dialogue. Nope, you need to click exactly on their arrow. Lucky us, that the space bar skips it too.

Above that, they don’t use the buttons on your keyboard. Nope, mostly everything is done with your mouse.

The graphics are a joke. It’s almost made for a portable system. The above view doesn’t help the game visually. But visually it’s even worse as some characters look the same.

The voice acting sounds bad. I even think that it isn’t the original cast that did the voices. And if they did, I’m confused and I can’t believe it.

Invisible walls are everywhere. Even on some places where it isn’t supposed to be.

Plus you can’t sit on an air cloud when trying to attack. Nope, not going to happen.

And finally, you don’t have any visual representation of when the game saves.

I’m going to leave it here. I’ll torture myself with finishing this game but I think I’m clear already, avoid this game. It isn’t worth your money. At all.