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Gamer’s Thoughts: NekoJonez VS his backlog

So, I would be lying if I said that I don’t have a backlog. I do have a backlog and it’s rather huge. To be honest, I stopped keeping a list of the games that are on my backlog and I just started playing the games that I wanted to play or that are in my collection. If I have to guess, I think there are over 500 games in my backlog. Do I honestly care that there so much games in my backlog? Not at all, I love it! Because that means I always have a game that I could be playing when I’m feeling bored. And for those who don’t know why I have so many games on my backlog, that’s because I’m a game collector and I collect games left and right. Almost every week or two, I add a game to my collection so I rarely have time to finish a game. Now, why am I talking about this? Because LaterLevels and LightingEllen are doing a collaboration with a lot of other bloggers talking about their backlogs and I felt like joining in. And before I continue, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the backlog, your backlog and/or the content of this article.

NekoJonez’s Backlog

Now, in my introduction I said that I had given up on keeping a backlog. This is quite true. I have piles and piles of games in my room and in my digital libraries begging to be played. Yet, I keep playing the same games over and over again.

But are there really over 500 games on my backlog? Well, because I don’t keep track in that much depth, I think that’s the best answer. When I just look at my 800 games large Steam library and cross off all the games I have finished, I think we get close to that 500 games mark. And at that moment, I haven’t started counting all the games I have for my consoles and handhelds.

How did it grow so out of hand? The first reason I already explained in the introduction of this article. I’m a game collector. Every one or two weeks, a game gets added to my collection. And it’s quite rare that I buy one single game now-a-days. Apart from newly released games of course. When I’m looking for new games to play, I go to thrift stores or garage sales to buy them for a real cheap price. In other cases, coworkers, friends, family just give them to me because they don’t need those games anymore since they are left unplayed.

A second reason is one that you are reading right now. This very blog. Because I like writing so much, I try to write an article every week about a different game. So, that means I talk about give or take 50 games each year. A more realistic number would be 35 – 40 different games each year. So, when I have written an article on a game, I have already moved on to another game to write about. Even when I quite enjoy playing a game, I place it on my backlog to finish later when I have a bit more time. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that I get requests from developers to play their games and write an article about them.

This brings me to my 3rd reason why my backlog is so big. Because I’m a game collector for multiple systems, I often switch between systems while playing games. For example, I’m in a PS2 – Switch period lately. The result is that I have posted quite a lot of PS2 and Switch articles lately. Now, I got a few Gamecube games for my birthday, so that might mean that I’m going to play a lot of Gamecube, Wii and Wii U games in the near future. But, I’m also really interested in the new Challenge Tombs that are getting released for Shadow of the Tomb Raider. And once I open Steam, I see that bundle of games I bought at the Lunar sale that I wanted to play. This is exactly what I mean when I say in an article: “I got distracted by other games.”

A fourth reason is one that started during my teenage years and now carried over in my twenties. I dislike focusing on one or two games. For example, I’m playing Resident Evil 4 and I get frustrated because I’m unable to beat a certain section. Instead of getting frustrated and fed up with the game, I just stop playing the game and take out another game to play. The main reason I play games are to have fun and talking out of experience, my performance in games gets worse when I have to repeat a section over and over again. Now, it does happen from time to time that one game is so much fun, I ignore all other games for a while. During the last Christmas holiday I have played so much Rollercoaster Tycoon. To the point I have almost completed the original campaign and half of the campaigns in the expansion packs.

Now, what is your backlog actually? Are these the games that you have started and never finished or the games you really want to play? Is it a combination of both? Well, I think it’s a combination of both those things. But, can you scrap a game from your backlog? When it has been too long on your backlog or when you feel you don’t want to beat it? For example, I have never beaten the original Pokémon games BUT I have gotten extremely close. It’s the final rival fight that I’m unable to beat. Now, would you say that these games are on my backlog until I have beaten them completely? Well, now I’m totally overthinking it. Whoops.

I might have said it a few times already in this article but do I honestly care that my backlog is so long? No! I don’t care at all. The big advantage of this is that I can pick up a console or boot up my PC and just pick a game I feel like playing and have a great time. It also means that I always have a game to play when I’m in a certain mood. On top of that, it makes for a great reason to finish or replay games when I want to write an article about them.

The questions

Now, LaterLevels and LightningEllen have a few questions in this collaboration. Let get to answering them.

Game most likely never to be played

That’s a thought question. Since in most cases, there is always a time I pick up a game I have bought ages ago. For example, a few years ago, I added Final Fantasy X and X-2 to my collection and I started to play those two games for a short while during my summer holiday in 2017. Another example is more recent. When I started playing Resident Evil 4, I saw that I have a few other Resident Evil games in my collection so I’m trying those out in between Resident Evil 4 sessions.

If I really need to answer this question, I think it are the Football Manager games I got in a pick-up but then again, I might start playing them in a summer break when I want to play something unique and different that I haven’t played before.

I could cheat and tell talk about Lego Fever. It’s a game I played a lot when I was younger, but it refuses to work on newer systems. Plus, it’s quite rare to find, since there are no physical copies of and yeah.

In addition to that, I have technical issues with getting the game to run on my computers so it’s unplayable for now. But then again, I just need to take some time out of my day to figure out what’s causing the error and just try to get it working on one of my retro gaming machines. Oh well, one day this will happen.

Shortest game

Ace Attorney 6 – Spirit of Justice

I don’t understand why this keeps happening. I have bought all the DLC cases and I haven’t finished the DLC case yet. I’m such a big fan of the Ace Attorney series, it battles my mind that I just start playing this case and get distracted by other games and leave this one on the backlog.

The case sounds quite interesting to me as well, since it does something different and makes old characters return. Maybe it’s a great sign for the future of the series… (hint hint, subject of another collab). So, come on Jonez! Put aside an afternoon during the weekend and finish this game!

Longest game

Ehrm, I’m sorry… But I’m not going to list all these games I just played the first couple of sections to test out how the game plays and haven’t finished yet. If you just look at the first impressions series on my blog, you start to get an idea on how many games I haven’t fully beaten yet. Now, I have beaten some of these titles, but I haven’t gotten around to writing the review yet. So, you could say that I even have a review backlog.

But, if I really have to put a game here… Let’s pick one at random and let’s say… PopoloCrois. A while back, I said I was considering writing an article about this game. But, my PSP decided to delete all my save files of this game and I lost so much progress… I got so annoyed I actually stopped playing this game and I haven’t picked it up yet again. But, I was having so much fun. So, yeah. I need to change that.

Game which has spent the most time on the backlog

Oh dear. I’m honestly unable to answer this question because I collect retro games and I just play games I find in the wild or strike my fancy while browsing the eShops. Like I said earlier, some games I only play for a few minutes to test the games out. For example, I have started up so many Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games… I know for a fact that some people are going to dislike what I’m going to say next but I haven’t finished a Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Witcher, Metal Gear, The Elder Scrolls, Dragon Quest, Sonic, Mega Man, Castlevania, Metroid, GTA, Assassin’s Creed … game. Yes. I haven’t played a lot of the BIG and popular titles.

In addition to that, since I started reviewing games 8 years ago, I stopped keeping track of the games on my backlog and just enjoy the games in my collection and picking the game that suits my fancy at that moment so I can’t even tell for how long I own a certain game. Expect when I got it for as a birthday present or when it holds a special memory. So, I’m sorry, I’m unable to answer this question.

The person responsible for adding the most entries to your backlog

Would it be cheap to say, my wallet? Because I buy so many games in bulk, it happens frequently that games get on my backlog. Now, actual answer on this question should be the person who gives me tells me about the games I should be playing or the games that are interesting.

And to be honest, there are a lot of people who give me advice or suggestions in terms of the games I should play. From fellow bloggers to YouTubers I love watching. A few examples spring to mind: NitroRad, AVGN (yes, like a TON of other video game reviewers), SomeOneCallMeJhonny, Eruption, Scott The Woz and Lazy Game Reviews. There are a lot of retro video game reviewers out there and I just keep watching them to discover new games. Outside of the YouTube space, there are bloggers like: Hundstrasse, The Well Red Mage and Insert Disk. There are so many people I could name. And I shouldn’t forget the countless other collectors inside the Facebook and Discord groups I’m a part of.

Besides that I love browsing RetroWareTV and browsing websites like eBay and local second hand websites to check what they have on offer.

So yes, I don’t have one person that is responsible for adding the most entries to my backlog since a lot of people give me ideas, suggestions and series to look into. It’s extremely difficult to keep track off that.

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget that I often get coworkers, friends and family that donate or just give me games after a spring cleaning or something amongst those lines.

Wrapping up

With all the questions answered, I want to thank you so much for reading this article. It was an interesting article to write since I see my backlog in a totally different way than your typical definition of the word.

To me, my backlog is more of a suggestions log. A suggestions log of games I could play and/or take a look at. If the game interests me enough, I’m going to continue to play it. If it doesn’t interest me, I remember it to try it out later or I just give it a nice spot in my collection.

Now, surprisingly, even to me sometimes, but not every game that I play becomes an article. That’s because I have an article backlog and when I write an article about a game, it’s quite possible that I already forgot about a few games. But all of that is for another article.

With that said, I want to thank you again for reading this article and 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.

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Review: Atelier Rorona -The Alchemist of Arland- DX (Switch) ~ Crafting The Adventure With Alchemy.

atelier-rorona-featureWikipedia page

On my top 10 games list of 2018, I talked about Atelier Rorona. I talked about how this game got me interested in the Atelier series. Now, it’s time to give my full opinion on the game. Why did I place this game on my top ten list and why wasn’t it higher on the list? I think it’s time to talk about crafting and exploring. Adventuring and RPG’ing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Get of your lazy bum

atelier rorona screen 1The story of this game has a simple premise. You play as Rorona, a young girl who is an apprentice at a local alchemy shop in the Arland Kingdom. Her master Astrid is so lazy that business isn’t going well at all. In a matter of fact, she didn’t get of her lazy bum for so long, the kingdom is considering to close down the shop. Rorona doesn’t want this to happen so she takes on the challenges provided by the kingdom. She gets a deadline of three years. During these three years she has to prove that she can run the alchemy shop and make profit. If she fails one of these challenges, the shop will be closed without any further question.

On the surface, the story of this game isn’t anything special. It’s one that has been done various times before. Yet, the story actually changes a lot on your actions. It depends on who you take with you on your journey, how good you craft your items, how you interact with the characters and how you run your alchemy shop. The one that lazy Astrid sort of gave to you because she wanted more sleep but didn’t want the shop to be closed.

This makes the story quite a lot of fun to play through. Because each and every playthrough is going to be different, you will have a different story. This game has various endings that all depend on how good you did during your missions provided by the kingdom. When I had beaten the game for the first time, I got a very generic ending that didn’t give the closure I felt that the story deserved. Because of that, I feel motivated to replay this game with so I can get an even better ending.

The writing of this game makes replaying this game even more enjoyable. While I was playing this game, I posted a short clip on my Twitter showing off the voice acting. The game has a lot of funny and charming moments. I actually fell in love with the characters of this game. Now, depending on how good you play this game, the characters you interact with get more character development.

Now, during my playthrough the story was quite enjoyable. While it didn’t have a lot of moments where I sat on the edge of my seat, it was quite relaxing. Maybe the other endings have more thrilling moments, but over all I enjoyed the story quite a lot. The writing, the pacing and the voice acting make for an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see how the game plays out on my next playthrough.

With that said, how do you actually go about saving the shop? For that, Rorona needs to gather ingredients from various locations and craft various items. Depending on the quality of the items, you get better items. Now, I do have one thing I felt mixed about in terms of the gameplay.

Running that shop

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-01-ps4-us-04dec2018

Yes, this is a screenshot from the PS3 version, but the Switch version looks the same apart from the different buttons.

While the story pacing is quite good, the pacing of the game is … let’s just say, strange. Because the game gives of a relaxing and casual vibe, the game can feel extremely slow. But this is very misleading. Because you have a strict time limit; you shouldn’t waste time at all. You have to play every move extremely carefully. The more mistakes you make, the worse your ending gets. The depth in this game is crazy. You do get an assistant in the middle point of the game. This mechanic saved me various times. You can assign this assistant to go and explore for you or craft items for you.

Be warned, the tutorials of this game only scratch the surface of the mechanics of this game. Something I recommend is that you use the save system to your advantage. I had various saves at various points. So, I can go back when I felt I was able to finish the missions with better results.

Talking about the save system, the fact that this game got ported from a PlayStation system really shows in the UI. If you have played a game on a PlayStation you will recognize the typical save and load UI easily. The only thing that annoys me is that I’m unable to name my saves. This would have helped quite a lot.

So, you have to explore, fight monster and craft items. This sounds like your typical RPG fair. You do have side quests that can help you to get a better relationship with a certain character. Some of these side quests have the potential to improve the reputation of the shop which also has a big influence on the ending of the story.

All in all, the biggest challenge of this game is time management. Use your time wisely and try to waste as few days as you can. I always tried to finish the assignment of the kingdom as fast as I could. When I finished that, I used the remaining days to explore new area’s and improve my relationship with the other characters.

The gameplay immersed me quite a lot. I really felt like a shop owner trying to find the best strategy to get my shop up and running and to try to get as many customers as I can. While the game isn’t too difficult to get the most basic ending, the challenge for this game hides in trying to get the best endings.

A normal playthrough of this game will take you somewhere around 20 hours. But, if you want to see all the endings, you will get a lot more out of this game. On howlongtobeat.com, there are reports of players taking 60 to 100 hours to fully complete this game. Now, this is for the PlayStation 3 version. On the time of writing this review, the website has no listing for the Nintendo Switch version.

Now, the meat of this game is in exploration and the crafting. First of all, let’s go a bit more in-depth about the exploration. During your exploration you can take two allies with you. Certain allies require a certain price to hire. This price needs to be paid up front. So, make sure you have enough gold in the bank to hire them.

During the exploration you can go to various locations. Each location has several area’s you can explore that provide different items. These items aren’t randomized, so if you find herbs in a certain area, you will be able to find those herbs every time there.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have an inventory limit. If you reach that limit, you have to throw out items. Also, you need to keep in mind that certain items can lose their freshness. For example, if you collect berries and don’t put them in your storage in the chest in the shop, the quality will drop.

During your exploration, you can see certain spots where items can be gathered. In the meantime, you see the enemies roaming around. When you interact with them, you can start a fight with them. The battles are turn-based. It’s the system you see in a million other RPG’s. But there are a few differences.

One difference is that only an alchemist can use items. So, only Rorona can use healing items during the battle. Another difference is that you can use certain characters to defend you and make combo attacks. In each battle, a meter builds up. When that meter is full, you can use the shoulder buttons to defend Rorona. A similar mechanic counts for the combo attacks.

One thing you need to keep in mind during the exploration is that moving between locations and area’s takes valuable time. So, make sure you know which items you need and where you can find them and plan accordingly. Otherwise you might get into trouble and you aren’t able to craft certain items.

In addition to that, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of MP. MP is also used to craft items. And this brings me on the second part of the gameplay I want to focus on, the crafting. This is something I didn’t always paid attention too. Each item can have certain properties that make a huge difference during crafting. Each item has also a quality level that changes the outcome quite a lot as well.

Something I found extremely tricky was looking for high quality items. For some reason, I always found mid tear or low tier quality items. I’m quite sure that this was one of the reasons that resulted in me having a mediocre ending. Now that I know that, I know what I should look for in a second playthrough.

Anyways, the crafting system itself is a bit basic. You can select various ingredients to craft an item. If you don’t have a certain sub ingredient that is craftable, you get forwarded to the craft menu of that item. One thing that I found really annoying was that it wasn’t always clear which ingredients were missing. For example, the icon of the missing ingredient was a flame. But I had a few ores that looked extremely similar. Yet that wasn’t the ingredient I needed. It turns out I needed oil.

Something I really liked was that in the crafting list, you were able to sort ingredients in terms of quality or rarity. Also, you had various symbols that gave information if you were or weren’t able to craft a certain item. For example, a triangle means that you are able to craft the item but you have to craft a sub item first.

One thing that I would like to mention is that this game can be repetitive. It’s quite easy to fall in a loop for every assignment or mission. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. And repeat. Each assignment has a different theme like preparing for a festival or helping to craft medicine.

I didn’t mind too much, but I feel that a bit more variation in the gameplay would do the game some good. For example, a bit more assignments where you needed to defeat a certain number of monsters or collect a certain amount of ingredients would do the trick.

Arland is saved

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-03-ps4-us-04dec2018Let’s talk about visuals. This game looks quite nice in my opinion. While the game could have benefited from a free camera, I actually didn’t mind too much since the camera allowed me to watch the nice city and fun dungeons in great detail. Some enemies suffer from the recolor syndrome, like the slime enemies. There are at least 3 variants and only the color has been changed. I wish those games added a few extra details. Oh well. At least I never had slowdowns during gameplay and I was able to play the game at a decent frame rate.

In terms of animation, this game is good. While the cut scenes would have benefited from some more character animation instead of gorgeous looking 2D artwork. Now, if the game came out in a previous generation, I would excuse this…. oh, wait… that’s right, this game is a port of a PS3 game. Then again, the PS3 is capable of so much more. Oh well.

Now something that bugged me a bit is the rather awkward jumping animation. I think it’s missing a few frames near the end where Rorona’s feet almost snap into place. It also looks strange when you adjust your jump in midair. Since Rorona sort of floats awkwardly. It’s hard to put into words but while the jump works great, it feels off and looks a bit off.

Jumping in itself is easy to do and control. You just press the jump button and voila. I don’t have any complaints about the controls. I really like how there is a dedicated button to cycle through Rorona’s animations. The game controls great and I didn’t have need to spend time getting used to them. The UI explains it so well, I got the hang of it right away. One minor nitpick is that the prompt for running is a tad confusing. When the UI shows a button for “running ON” and you press that button, Rorona actually starts walking. So, that promt in the UI actually shows the status if you are running or not.

Now, the UI has some amazing things I really liked. Like how easy it is to sort items or the great and easy to use crafting system. But I have a few complaints. First of all, I wish I was able to see which ingredients where at a certain location before I actually travelled there. I would have been able to save so many days…

Secondly, while I totally understand why the developers did this; I wish I was able to see how many days it would take to go to a newly discovered gathering area. The reason why they don’t tell you this is most likely for immersions reasons.

And my final and third complaint is when you buy armor, you can’t see if it would increase somebody’s stats or not. This was quite annoying, especially when the armor shop rarely has new items because the game really wants that you craft it yourself.

The music and sound effects for this game are good. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the story quite well. It’s relaxing and rather melodic. It helps to get immersed into the game. I even added the soundtrack to my playlist for when I want to relax. Now, the sound effects are great but I wish there were a bit more of them. For the whole crafting system, the use the same effects and I would love some different ones for food or bombs. Also, one for days passing while the clock ticked over would be the cherry on the cake.

Oh, and here is something nice, you can totally change the whole soundtrack. Yes, while interacting with the book in the atelier, you can change each and every track to another track. You can choose between a pretty long list of other games in the series. Now, this is an amazing feature but it could have used some additional features. Like a reset to default option and one where you easily see which song you have selected since in that menu there is a lot of unused screen space. And the biggest missing feature is in my opinion a preview of what song is currently playing. Oh dear, they were so close.

In that same menu, you can access the different costumes for Rorona. As far as I know these are only cosmetic. You can do save file management and decorate the atelier to a certain degree. You can also access the options menu where you can adjust the sound mix to your liking. In here, you can also change the language of the voice acting to Japanese or English. So, if you want Rorona to greet you in Japanese in the main menu, you can do that.

After you have finished the game, there is a postgame chapter. I won’t spoil what the chapter is about but it adds some additional story. But after this post game, there is no free roaming. So, you can’t experiment with the game… This is a real missed opportunity since I would have loved to try and experiment with the game to learn and have a better run next time. Yet, on the other hand, I totally understand why they did this. Because the game has so many different endings in which different characters aren’t present, it would have been a hell to program.

Interestingly, during me writing this review and posting it; the game got a small update. I have no clue what has been added, but I wanted to mention it, just in case something in my review doesn’t make sense anymore.

With that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave some things out for you as a surprise if you decide to play this game. But, it’s time for the conclusion of this review and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The jump animation looks awkward.
  • The game can be repetitive.
  • There is no free play in the post content.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story, writing and voice acting.

+ Amazing charm.

+ Great UI.

+ High replay value due to the different endings.

+ Relaxing soundtrack and you can change it to your liking!

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I don’t know exactly how this game compares to other games in the Atelier series. Since this game is the first game in the series I have played. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time with this game quite a lot. The game is on the surface a relaxing game with a lot of charm. But, don’t get fooled, this game can become quite hectic in a good way.

The game is quite enjoyable to play but difficult to master. You really need to plan every single move to make sure to you get yourself in a difficult situation.

This game is perfect for everybody who is looking for an RPG with a crafting system or somebody who is looking for a shop simulator. While I can totally understand why some people won’t enjoy this game too much, it did click with me.

But the game is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite good but it has some flaws that hinder the gameplay in my opinion. Like the strict deadlines and the repetitive nature of the game.

Personally, I recommend that you give this game a try. If only there was a demo of this game you could try out and judge for yourself if this game is for you are not. I bought this game because the screenshots and descriptions looked interesting on the Nintendo eShop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, I can’t wait to play the other games in this trilogy to see if they improved the mechanics in the other games. Maybe they crafted an even better adventure while they kept everything that worked quite well in this game.

Do keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is a bad game. It’s a good game with some flaws. It’s up to you to decide if these flaws would hinder your enjoyment of the game or not. Since this game has a lot of depth so you will be able to have a lot of fun with this game.

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

Score: 70/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: Giving out Blogging Advice

photo

So, a few days ago, I got asked on Twitter how I was able to write an article each and every week. In that same tweet, I got asked how I found the time and energy to even write two articles a day for two weeks. That kept me thinking, maybe I should write an article where I talk about some blogging advice I would give to people who want to start blogging and want some pointers or some stories from experienced bloggers. If you look in previous articles of my “gamer’s thoughts” series, you will find various other articles where I talk about the life of a game blogger. I even talked about my whole process how I work an idea for an article. Yet, here are some more pieces of advice I can give you as somebody who has been blogging for 7, 5 years about games and isn’t sick of it in the slightest. Also, don’t take this advice as gospel. These are the things I would say to new bloggers, but take these more as things that could help you blogging instead of things you have to do to have a good or great blog. In addition to that, any questions or other suggestions, that’s where the comments are for!

Side note: Since I have been a gaming blogger all my life, I will mostly talk as a game blogger.

Work out a theme

A great thing to start with is a theme for your articles. The theme of my blog is my journey as a gamer through life. I write articles about the games I played or subjects I want to talk about. In addition to that, I’m a retro game collector and I enjoy playing games that not too many other gamers play. If you are worried that your personality might not be interesting enough for people to start reading your blog, don’t worry. Think first about what you want to write about and then start blogging.

Also, make the theme on your blog clear enough. Blogs without a general theme don’t have any selling points for other people to start reading your blog. For example, I enjoy it when people say to me that they discovered a new game because I talked about it.

A great example of a theme is blog run by the Well Red Mage. He has a whole blog setup where everything is themed where each writer is a mage in a sort of fantasy RPG called the life of a gamer. It’s really enjoyable to read in the right mindset and I think it’s a great example for a theme.

 

If you are thinking of a theme, and this will sound quite logical, but take a theme that fits you and isn’t something you will regret about later. I enjoy talking about the games I add to my collection and I can still do some little tweaks here and there to my theme, but I feel comfortable with the theme I have on my blog.

While I’m talking about a theme, branding is everything. Look for a name and something that can stick. Make a logo and banner for your blog and social media where people can easily recognize you and what you are about. For real, branding and a right theme can help you quite a lot to write.

Do NOT overdo social media

So, do you need a Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, DevaintArt, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat…. for your blog? Well, while it can be quite useful to have some presence in the social space; it can also hurt your blog in the long run. If you have too many dead social media accounts or accounts only used to spread your articles, people won’t be interested in it. There is a reason why I only have a Twitter & Tumblr for my blog.

I use Twitter to quickly post updates on my blog for when I’m unable to write an article or when I want to share a quick thought. I use Tumblr to share things that are too long to put into a tweet, like when I want to share a list of games I’m thinking about reviewing or some blog updates I did. But, every post I do on Tumblr is shared on Twitter. So, there is one account people have to follow and can get all their information from. Otherwise you might create the illusion that information can be spread over various accounts that are mostly inactive.

So setup only the social media accounts you are planning to manage. Don’t set up social media accounts just to spread your articles or your online presence. You will divide your audience even more and it has the potential to cause an even bigger headache.

Something that is extremely handy for a blog is a contact page. Make your contact page inviting but also state rules of contact. For example, take a look at mine, I clearly state that if game studios want me to review their game, I have to be interested in it. I don’t promote things that I don’t feel comfortable with. Why should I promote things I don’t even believe in myself?

Worrying about numbers

In my honest opinion, I don’t worry about the numbers of my articles too much. The main reason why I blog is to have fun and have the ability to write about my thoughts and opinions. I think that you only should worry about the numbers if you are making money from your blog. If you are doing it as a hobby and you don’t want to make it a job, do not worry too much about the numbers.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pay any attention to the numbers of your blog. I find it very flattering when people enjoy my content and write comments, like and share my articles. Personally, I aim to have at least one like on my article. Even when I don’t get any likes on my article on WordPress, if somebody favorited the tweet of the article, I’m happy. That way I know that the article was good enough to be enjoyed by somebody. And that is my main goal, entertaining people.

Use the analytics to draw conclusions. Look at the articles that pull in a lot of views and analyses them why they work. What did people like about it? For example, I wrote an article in the past about one of my favorite Dutch edutainment games, but it didn’t pull in too many views. This means that if I want to talk about other games like that, I could write about those games when I have some other big articles in the works people are excited for. As a “filler article” you know?

In my experience, I find that thinking about if an article will bring enough readers limits my creative freedom. Since I love talking about games that I play and in most cases, they aren’t the mainstream games.

All I’m saying here is, as long as your blog is a hobby, don’t lose sleep over the fact that sometimes your numbers will be low.

Write how you want

There are literally millions of tutorials out there on how you can start creative writing. While they are interesting to read, I highly advise you to not follow them to the T. Just like drawing, writing is an art form you learn by practicing. While I realize that some people have the natural talent to write stories and articles like it’s nothing. Take it from me, a guy who has written stories all his life since childhood, natural talent can take you only so far as you allow it to go.

I taught a lot of my writing skills by analyzing other writers their work and not only written works. I looked at the story in games, movies, comics amongst other things. Why did they first reveal this before they revealed the other thing? Learn from other creators and use this as a base for the way how you want to write. It took me quite a few attempts to find out how I want to write. I usually first lay out how I want the article to be, then I look for good screenshots and then I start to write the actual article. I always listen to music while I’m writing.

Something I can’t stand while writing is a podcast or watching a video. For some reason, that distracts me too much from what I’m writing and I tend to write about what I’m hearing instead of what I wanted to write about. Also, I tend to try out different programs to write in. Some articles are written directly in the editor of WordPress, some articles are written in WordPad on one of my retro gaming computers and others are written in Notepad++. I enjoy changing things up once in a while, to have a different mindset while writing.

Personally, something I find dangerous to look at is the word count. I know so many articles that could have been so much better if I didn’t limit myself to my usual 1000-1500 words limit. Sometimes you need more or fewer words to get your point across. If you want to write walls upon walls of text, go ahead. But beware, the longer you make an article, the smaller the chance is that it will be fully read.

Also, whenever you are writing and you feel that something doesn’t work, rewrite it until you feel happy with it. Know that the first version of most articles will most likely be the worst version of it. Even I had to always make edits after I finished the first version to make the article flow a bit better.

Avoid burning out

Don’t ever force yourself into writing an article. It’s a golden rule that you can take from me. When you don’t feel like writing, just don’t write. I can personally read an article when I forced myself to write about something. Rarely do they come out good and I rather delete it then continue to write it. There are so many articles that I started to write but halfway deleted.

But how am I able to write an article each week and sometimes even two articles a day? Well, ever heard about writing articles in advance and storing them for later? Or, in one of the past weekends, I had a writing session where I wrote around 10 articles in two days. Know that the actual writing process takes around an hour and a half for me. Yeah, I had a writing marathon. I enjoy writing so much that I write to relax.

If you want to start a gaming blog like myself, start writing the article in your head while you are still playing the game or doing research. Have a notebook or a tablet nearby where you can put quick thoughts and notes in. Even start writing paragraphs in it.

Also, look to your day and how much time you lose by doing literally nothing. If you have the downtime, use it to think about your writing. Not all the time of course, since that will possibly cause a burnout. If there is anything you should avoid that is burning out in writing. Like I said earlier if you have to force yourself into writing, don’t write. I have been there. It’s better to take a break from writing and try again later.

Conclusion

So, that is all the advice I have to give for now. My biggest advice is, write how you want and about what you want. If you keep enjoying writing, you will put soul into your work and you will automatically attract readers. Together with a theme and an active social media presence, you will get far. Also, remember that is an extremely fun but time-consuming hobby. While most of this advice is catered towards the people who wanted to start blogging for fun, I think this article has also some advice for more professional people.

If I explained anything unclear or you have some questions for me or other bloggers, go down to the comments and start a conversation. I’ll do my best to helping you where I can.

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

Review #012: Aladdin (GB) ~ Terribleness on the go.

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GameFaq’s Link

I have a cousin who I went to each Saturday. One day he lend me DuckTales on the gameboy, which was a great blast. But I do remember one game that he lend too with it. A game so bad, I’m not even going to finish it before I write a review of it. This game on the SNES isn’t that bad, but the gameboy version is terrible. I got this game from a friend, when she didn’t want to keep her gameboy games anymore. I was so happy that I got new free games. But when I saw this cartrigde, I wish I could cry right there on the playground. Man, bad memories of this game. I’m even putting on a sad face while writing this review. Sadly enough, this game is playing next to me on my SuperGameboy and my SNES. It’s already clear that I’ll rip this game a new one, but how bad is it actually? Let’s dive right into Aladdin, without a magic carpet to save our ass. 

Flawed or bad?

disneys_aladdinSome games might have a few flaws. Or just have some things not polish. But this game is a joke. Let’s start analysing this insult of Virgin Interactive by looking at the options.

The difficulty levels are not what you expect from a normal game. Easy is practice and hard is difficult. Yes, I kid you not, the screen says literally “difficult”. Signs for a great game. Also they feel the need to be special and or grammatically correct. Somewhat. The options for the music and sound are displayed as follows:

“Music is: ON”

“Sound FX are: ON”

Why? These “is” and “are” aren’t doing the game any good. It’s silly and just lines of code lost for the actual game. And they could have used it. Oh yeah, a minor annoyance is that you can’t scroll back that the difficulty menu. But that’s nitpicky me.

So, let’s move on with this review by pressing the B button to get out of the options menu. Wait, it’s one of those games. You need to go to “exit” to go back to the main screen. Oh yeah, “exit” instead of “return”. Whoopsiedasy.

The gameplay, my god, the gameplay.

172924-disney-s-aladdin-game-boy-screenshot-shimmy-across-the-beamsIn the name of all the holy and good cartrigdes, be happy that I played this joke for you so that I can warn you about this game. First of all, this adventure and platform game suffers from one major flaw that is also quite visible from the menu. There isn’t a save or load option. This is the kind of game that could have benefited from this feature. Like the first Super Mario Land on the gameboy, this is one of the games you have to play in one sitting. And that isn’t good at all for a handheld game. No, since usually you play these kind of games on the bus or at the doctor’s office. So, you wish you could save.

The controls are weird at best. But at the start of the game, you don’t have any guide or nothing to explain you how this game works. Let me give you one hint. Press the select button at the start of the first level so you don’t waste any apples. Yup, they start you with an attack that is limited. And without giving you a slight hint that you can press select to switch weapons, the game gets annoying really soon.

While I do realize that I ranted about game tutorials more holding your hands these days, this game should have had at least an easier first part. The very first part of this game is filled with all sorts of things. You barely get time to get used to the game mechanics or the controls. You are expected to play this one with already knowing every sort of enemy or hazard.

I just noticed this too, while writing this review, I have to pause the game and then write a bit. And the pause screen actually kindly reminds you that the game is paused with displaying a “PAUSED!” message at the bottom left of your screen. How lovely that they think we are stupid people. Just like the enemy AI in this game. I could stand in visible range of an enemy and it kept just standing there. How lovely. Also, some enemies seem to have a very special attack pattern. The one the animators gave them. And your goal is to be faster then the animation.

All the apples of the nopes. 

For a Gameboy game, the flaws don’t stop there. The music is the next victim of my critic-ing. And it’s terrible. The menu music is true to the 172925-disney-s-aladdin-game-boy-screenshot-these-white-platformmovie. But the music in game is just a loop of a 1-2 minutes melody and it gets annoying and repetitive extremely quick. And there is no way to go in game to the option menu to put it off. They forgot to program that in I suppose.

The first camel you pass in the game, which can be used as a mini-trampoline, actually spits out knives from it’s mouth. This happens after you see an enemy cheat by walking over hot coals. Which is actually a black puddle on your screen. That brings us to the graphics. They are bland. Somethings even don’t represent that they are supposed to be. The apples look like bombs. And who dies of apples, except from chocking on them, anyways?

Also, the attacking of enemies is flawed. Their melee attack reaches further then yours. Which means that you need to use your valuable apples to take no damage. And believe me, you are going to need that health since it’s so rare to find a health pick up. In addition to that, you don’t get explained what the power ups do. One of the first power ups I came across is one that wipes out all enemies on screen. And guess what, there was only one enemy on screen. ONE, for NOPE’s sake, ONE!

Oh, and what’s up with the jumping? You can’t attack when you are in the air. In addition to that, when you fall from a platform, you are locked vertically. So, if you see a vase dropping down on you, it’s damage you can’t avoid. Oh yeah, cheap game. Very cheap. But lucky me, the damage doesn’t get taken since the animation was still playing of Aladdin getting up after the fall. And this ended after the vase actually hit me. Oh joy.

Also, what did I say from the AI before? Further in the first level, I was able to get an enemy in attack mode without even the ability to hit me. Wait, why isn’t it coming closer to me then? Oh yeah, movie game. That explains a lot. So I destroyed this enemy with my rock apples. Which brings me to another complaint. There is no clear indication which weapon you have selected. You just need to guess or to press the attack button to know that.

The decent animations of the characters are ruined by the white outline around them. Which makes those very clear, but not the places where you can and can’t jump on. Since this game isn’t so linear, this is another issue.

And then my copy decided to freeze. Which it often does. So, end of this review! On to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Follows the movie story quite well.

+ It’s exists for reviewers to rip apart when they need to review a bad game.

The bad:

– Terrible AI.

– Lacking save and load feature.

– Bland graphics.

– Annoying music.

– Major flaws in the controls.

– Too steep of a learning curve.

– Nothing of the game gets explained.

– Bland sound effects and some parts could use sound effects.

– Difficult even on easy.

– …

My advise

When you are a Gameboy collector, get this game. But let it gather dust. As a hobby gameboy gamer, don’t even spend money on this title. You’ll regret it for sure. There aren’t many games I don’t finish for a review but this is one of them. I had trouble finding good points to defend this game.

This was a promising game though, but the lack of so many things and screwed up basics make this game a shouting fest for adventure and platform gamers. I forgot to mention a few things in my review like the sound and the enemy always being able to hit you first, but it’s clear that this game has more flaw then Swish cheese has holes.

And if you would excuse me, I need to play better games now to finish up other reviews of actually good games. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave in the comments what your experience is with the game.

Score: 27 / 100