Game Quicky: Guards (Switch) ~ Tower Defense Switching

Nintendo.com page

Today I want to talk about the new game that Drageus Games released on the Nintendo Switch eShop. Their previous title, Moon Raider was a pretty nice game, so I actually have high hopes and expectations for this game. So, when Drageus Games send me a press copy over, and I could give my 100% honest opinion, I didn’t hesitate. I wanted to take a look at this game. I know full well that this game has been released for a while now but due to my busy life, I just got time to reviewing it now. So, it’s time to review this smaller game in my shorter game quicky style. And before I truly start, I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your thoughts and/or opinions on the game and/or the content of the article below!

Time to play

So, in this game, you take on the role of various warriors who are defending their homeland from invaders. Each warrior has his/her strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to you to use them in the right way. The gameplay is turn based. The left area of play field is yours and the right area is from where the enemies come in. In each turn, you can switch the location of two warriors. In order for you to win, you have to defeat a certain amount of enemies before one enemy can breach to the other side.

The gameplay is quite challenging and unique. It’s easy to understand, but oh so tricky to master. It’s a sort of turn based tower defense where you have to swap your towers from location each turn.

Visually, this game looks quite charming. The cartoon presentation of this game gives it some Saturday morning show vibes that add even more to the charm. While the animations might be a bit basic, they work, and they help to draw the player into the game quite well. The UI and menus are also easy to navigate, and I rarely found myself lost in them.

Time to skip this one

Sometimes I found the gameplay mechanics rather limiting. The fact, you can’t always choose if a magic user is going to use their healing magic or their field clear attack is annoying. On top of that, you weren’t allowed to switch your characters with an empty space. So, you HAD to switch between two characters for your move to count. Oh, and explain to my why I can select characters and “switch” while it’s the enemy’s turn? The switch doesn’t actually happen, but the game registers the button inputs.

Also, there are some things that aren’t communicated to the player well enough. For example, what does the inventory do? I was pressing the X button, and it only highlighted the button. When I continued to play, I started to understand how to use the inventory, but why did I have to find that out by myself? Also, I sometimes thought the game froze or soft locked… and it took me a while before I released that the game was waiting on my inputs since it was my turn.

The lack of an actual story actually hurts this game in my opinion. I rather have a generic, boring story then none. In this game, you don’t have any context why these fights are happening, and my interest in this game quickly went away as I felt myself going through the motions of every other game. I really felt that there was something lacking in this game and the story is one of the biggest mistakes of this game.

In terms of difficulty, I felt that this game is sometimes more luck based then skill based. A game over puts you back at the start of the game, but you get rewards to unlock more powerful characters. Why this game isn’t a high score game after seeing this mechanic is something I don’t understand. But, this made the game more grind heavy and here is where another big downfall of this game lies.

The gameplay loop of this game isn’t there. You go through the same motion over and over again to get just a little further. This unlocks rewards to unlock better heroes or upgrade your current heroes. While this might sound fun on paper, in the case of this game the repetitiveness of this game left me bored, and I had a hard time writing this article because of it.

Conclusion

I could keep writing a lengthy article about this game, but I think everything is boiling down to one point. This game is undercooked and shouldn’t have been released so fast. This game and the ideas it presents have so much potential, but the actual execution falls flat on its face.

This game has three save slots, but the save system itself is confusing, and I don’t know when my game is saved. The game has three difficulty settings, but you need to beat the easiest setting first before you can play on a harder setting. There is no cancel button when upgrading heroes, and you can’t swap heroes for other heroes when you started a run. The audiovisual presentation is quite nice but due to the repetitive nature of this game, I got bored with hearing the tracks so many times.

I’m sorry, but this game isn’t my cup of tea. I true feel that this game is undercooked and needs some major polishing up work for it to work and be enjoyable. Furthermore, I’m glad to see that other reviewers are enjoying themselves with the game, but I respectfully disagree with the high scores that some reviewers give to this game.

Things that should be improved in my opinion are:

  • A more in-depth tutorial on every screen of the game. Not every mechanic is clearly explained to the player.
  • More audio and visual cue’s to explain to the player when they can/can’t do something or when it’s their turn.
  • A better save system that doesn’t only save after the end of a run!
  • Polish out visual bugs like the “amount of enemies to be killed” counter resetting only after the round has started.
    • It always shows the counter from the ending of your previous run.
  • More communication with the player. What does “Magical hints” in the option menu do?
  • Some story to pull in the player a bit more.

Usually, when I feel this negative about a game, I don’t write about the game and I skip it. I write a feedback mail to the developers and/or tell them that I’m not going to write about the game. But in this case, I decided to write an article anyways since I find that this game has so much potential that it actually made me annoyed. Seeing this game so undercooked, it’s a big let down.

I honestly think that this game needed a lot more time in the over before it got released to the Nintendo Switch. From the digging I have done, I noticed that this game first released as a mobile game and after that on Steam. From what I have seen, the same complaints come up in various reviews. Most of those complaints are the exact same then I have. The last update to the game has been since 2017 and most updates have been bug fixes instead of polishing this game up with new features and more content. So, I don’t have high hopes this game is going to improve or if we are going to see a better version in the future.

Do I recommend this game to anyone? Well, if you are curious about this turn based lane defense game with a lot of grinding and a ton of rough edges, I think you might want to give this game a try but for all other players, I would skip this game. Thankfully, the new game from the developers of this game: Warstone TD looks a LOT better and more promising than this undercooked game.

And with that said, I want to thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed reading this shorter 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!

Score: 2/5

Review: Paper Mario – The Origami King (Switch) ~ Fold And Turn

Official websiteWikipedia entry

2020 is quite a strange year. Back in May, we got a trailer for this game and to everybody’s surprise, the game dropped a few weeks later. The game has been out for around a month now and I have finished the game a few days ago. So, I want to talk about this game. Especially, since some people are quite curious how this game holds up compared to the previous entries in the series. The two previous entries in the series weren’t that well received, so will this game “save the series” or will it divide the fanbase even further like Color Splash? Let’s take a look at the 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. 

Fold The World

So, the story starts a bit similar to Sticker Star. A festival is held in the (paper) Mushroom Kingdom and something goes horribly wrong. In this case, the princess is converted to origami and suddenly, you meet an evil origami character called Olly that wants to fold the whole world to origami.

In your journey to save Princess Peach and save the Mushroom Kingdom from certain destruction, you team up with the sister of the evil origami character called Oliva. She is able to grant you special powers that aid Mario in his quest.

To avoid spoiling the whole game or sections of it, I’m going to try to keep story explanations to a minimum. But, I do want to give my honest opinion of the story. The writing and the dialogues are pretty good, the pacing is excellent as well. I barely felt that any sections were filler or padding. But, the story isn’t thrilling at all.

The structure of the story is somewhat like the Pokémon anime series. Just replace the gym badges with the streamers and you have the structure of the story in this game. Barely any of the characters, apart from the main duo, of course, go from one section to another.

The next point I want to bring up with the story is that it’s a bit too predictable in my eyes. I can’t pinpoint exactly why but I felt that I experienced this whole story somewhere before or that I had seen the arcs. I think that the main issue with this game is that it barely does anything creative story-wise.

Does this game have a bad story? Well, yes and no. Apart from the predictability and the “safeness” of the whole story, the charm of the story is so great. I have a few ideas that could have improved the story. The first thing is the world-building, I felt that wasn’t done enough. For example, you have an area called “Picnic Road”. Why o why are there no picnic benches? I mean, one of the previous areas had a whole barbeque setup…

The second suggestion I have is that there could have been a bit more side stories. A great example is with Luigi. Side-arcs, side quests, or just things to explore on the side. I know that you can free toads, fill in Not-Bottomless Holes but in most cases, those don’t affect the story that much.

It almost feels that the developers just cut out several sections to improve the flow or the pacing but with that, they also cut out too much. Sometimes a bit of padding or filler doesn’t hurt.

Oh, and before I go to the next section, I usually talk about the voice acting and voice work right after the story. And I can finish my opinion quite fast. That’s something where I think they could have done more but on the other hand, the animations are so good during dialogues that the very little voice work is “replaced” if that makes sense.

Turn Your Way To Victory

One of the biggest criticisms of the previous two entries in the Paper Mario series was the battle system. The games before those had an RPG style battle system. Then in Sticker Star and Color Splash, we got more of a sort of puzzle system.

I think it would make this review too long if I start to analyze the flaws of the two previous battle systems. For the sake of going forward, let’s focus on the battle system of this game. There is no real RPG-style battle system in this game. But, something that does return somewhat is the buddies from previous games. Now, before you get too excited, the buddies just provide a chance of an attack after you finished yours. And that’s it.

Before I talk about the puzzle battle system, I do want to mention a huge improvement compared to the previous two titles. At certain moments, you can find a health improvement. Besides having more HP, these improvements have other implications on the mechanics of the game. For example, after a few upgrades, I was able to just jump or hit these Goomba’s with my hammer and I didn’t have to go into battle. The only downside is that you don’t get all your coins like you would have defeated them in the puzzle battle. But, it does save your weapons for each little encounter.

Speaking about weapons, I barely had any problem with those. At the start of the game, I just stocked up on weapons and healing items and I do have to say, I barely had to go to the shops in the game to stock up on items. The game is quite generous with items to use in battle. A bit too generous for my liking.

The game is a bit too easy. Apart from some scripted sequences, I barely saw the ‘game over’ screen. Also, quite rarely, I felt challenged during the battles. Even when I was unable to solve the puzzle in front of me, I was almost always able to beat the enemies with relative ease.

Now, what is this “puzzle battle” I’m talking about? Well, if you look at the screenshot a bit higher, you might notice that Mario is in a battle area with four rings. Your goal is to line up the enemies in a line or in a group of 2 by 2. You can do that by either rotating a ring or move planed vertically.

In order for you to solve the puzzle, you have a limited amount of moves and time. But, here is where some amazing game design shines through. During the adventure, you can buy various items that give you more time, health and defense during battles. You can enable or disable all of these items in the pause menu. On top of that, you can invest your coins in more time or cheering. Now, what is cheering? Well, that means you can invite the Toads you have rescued during the adventure to aid you in healing or solving the puzzle in front of you. The only moment where the Toads don’t solve the puzzle is during the boss battles. But more on that in a minute. So, if you find the game too easy, you can challenge yourself more by disabling all these support items and not cheering or buying more time during battles.

So, do you HAVE to solve the puzzles to be able to attack the enemies? Oh no, you don’t have to. It just gives you an attack bonus that can one-shot most enemies. Otherwise, you have to rely on your partner or block the attacks and try again. Also, just like the previous games, when you time your button press correctly during the attack, you do more damage to your enemies.

I could talk more in-depth about the battle system but I want to avoid that this review gets too long. So, I’m going to link you to an interesting article of a great blogging buddy of mine Adventure Rules, who talks a bit more in-depth on the battle system on his blog. Be warned, there are some spoilers in his article. (And yes, I know that he is going to read this article… And no, the fact that I’m shouting him out here has nothing to do with it… Maybe… Maybe not. 😉 )

Now, let’s talk boss battles. These battles are the highlight of the game for me. The sheer creativity in these battles is just amazing. Each boss throws a unique challenge your way that changes up the battlefield or the way you have to solve the puzzle. It’s really amazing stuff. I’m not going to talk more in-depth about it to avoid spoilers but I found myself saying out loud, several times, “wow, this is creative and unique.”.

Speaking about creativity, I’m still surprised at the huge amount of different puzzles in this game. Rarely I had similar or the same puzzle during the game and if there were, I barely noticed. I always had to think about how to line up those enemies to win.

Stardance

This review is getting quite long and I have only talked about the story and the battle mechanics. There is still so much to talk about in this rather enjoyable game. For starters, let’s talk about the Starman Theme in this game. I’m just blown away by the amazing remix that has heavy metal influences and electronic influences.

And the rest of the soundtrack, my lord. These tracks are just amazing. I think that this game might have my favorite soundtrack of 2020. If the soundtrack ever comes out on CD, you can be sure that I’ll add that to my collection. The soundtrack is even part of my playlist when I’m writing or games like Minecraft. Now, the sound design of this game is equally as well done as the soundtrack.

Overall, this game is visually quite impressive. In very rare cases, I found that some textures weren’t the best or that the scene had a tad bit too much lighting, but I think that most players won’t notice the moments that I noticed as a hobbyist critic.

The theming of the areas are quite well done as well. So yes, the visual presentation of this game is something to enjoy. It really shows the power of the Nintendo Switch in my opinion. The art style is also quite consistent, vibrant, and colorful. Couple that with great animations and you have a great and smooth running game. Speaking of smoothness, the only time I noticed some slowdown was during the loading of some battles.

The UI of this game is extremely well done. The only minor complaint I have is that you can’t change your weapons during a battle, but that isn’t such a big issue because you just need to remember to swap your weapons after a battle.

One thing I loved in this game is the mechanics in place to help players who have trouble with the game. The electronic manual is quite easily accessible and on top of that, there is a training area for when you need to practice your timings to hit enemies and such.

In most of this review, I have been praising this game and pointing out some minor flaws. To end off this review, let me talk about some things that I didn’t really like. The first thing is the overall running speed, I found that a tad bit too slow. After seeing how fast you can go to the Boot Car or on the ship, I found it a shame that there was no run button. That’s the biggest complaint I have about the controls.

The other issue I have with the controls is that it sometimes was a bit too tricky to hit some enemies with the hammer. But I think that the issue is that you are unable to interrupt the animation and most of the time I wished that I was faster with my hammer because I barely missed the enemy.

A nitpick I have about filling the Not-Bottomless Pits, I found that sometimes it was a bit too tricky to get in the right position to fully cover the hole with confetti. Thankfully, this problem occurred maybe two or three times in the whole game.

One of the biggest irritations in this game is how the bells work. You can buy three bells, one for hidden Toads, one for treasure, and one for hidden blocks. They ring when one of those is close, but I can’t tell the radius of those rings. Especially now when I’m trying to find some parts I have missed during my main playthrough.

But my biggest disappointment is the lack of a completion reward and post-game content. There is barely any post-game content to find and the completion reward is just a 5-second extended ending that changes barely anything. Oh, yes. You get a gold star instead of a silver star on your profile.

And with that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave certain things out of this review because I wanted you to have some surprises when you play this game. So yeah, it’s time for the conclusion.

Wrapping up

The bad:

-The bells can be a bit irritating.

-There is no post-game/completion reward.

-The walking speed can be a bit slow.

-Overall, the game is too easy. You have to create the challenge yourself.

The good:

+ Charming story (even when there was more that could have been done with it)

+ Amazing soundtrack.

+ Creative puzzles and battle mechanics.

+ …

Final thoughts:

It’s quite possible that you will see this game on my top 10 games of 2020 list. This game came out of nowhere and really blew me away. I was expecting an “okay” or a fine game but I was blown away. I can understand that Paper Mario veterans expected more out of this game, but I don’t think we are going to get an RPG Paper Mario in the near future.

I think that this game took major steps in the right direction of an enjoyable adventure game. I enjoyed my time with this game and I can recommend this game to everybody who enjoys adventure and/or puzzle games.

The biggest flaw of the game is that there is just a major lack of depth. There is so much more that could have been done and the game is over after 20-25 hours of gameplay. But, these 20-25 hours are quite enjoyable.

But this game gives me high hopes for the next Paper Mario game. Since if this is the direction that they are taking with the series, I’m carefully optimistic about the series again. While there is a very vocal veteran fanbase that wants the old school style of Paper Mario back, I think that is better suited for the Mario & Luigi series. I think that Paper Mario is better suited for games like this. But, that might be just me, I still have to beat the original Paper Mario trilogy.

But, I’m trying to see this game apart from the whole series that it originated from. And when I look at this game as a standalone game, I’m quite impressed with the game. Compared to the two previous games, this game makes a ton of improvements that make the game more enjoyable and entertaining to play.

Any 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.

Score: 85/100

Game Quicky: Pixel Gladiator (Switch) ~ Defend Your Base!

H2x1_NSwitchDS_PixelGladiator_image1600w.jpgSteam pageNintendo.com pageDrageus page

It’s a well-known fact that a lot of games get ported to the Nintendo Switch. Drageus Games is a studio that ports various indie and small scale games to the Nintendo Switch. Today I’m taking a look at Pixel Gladiator. The original game is called Flying Island Team. I was unable to find much more information on this team. In any case, Drageus Games provided me with a review code for this game and gave me the freedom to give my 100% true opinion. So, let’s take a look at Pixel Gladiator and feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The good

pixel gladiator 1

This game is quite easy to pick up and play. While there is no tutorial present, the game is easy enough to understand.

The audiovisual design of this game is extremely well done. Visually, the game has pretty nice pixel art and the animations are quite rich for the low price point of this game.

The music is totally my style of music. The techno and trance melodies in the game are that good that I actually want to add them to my library. I’m so glad that the soundtrack is on Steam so I can buy it and listen to it whenever I want.

The gameplay loop of this game is very enjoyable. You have to buildup your base with the earnings of the defeated enemies. You have to buildup your base to defend your core. When your core is destroyed or if you run out of health, it’s game over.

The UI is one of the better I have seen in Drageus Games their ports. The only minor complaint I have is that there is no test noise when you adjust the volume of the sound effects. But the menu’s are quite easy to navigate and work with.

There are a lot of different languages in the game. So, if you want to play this game in your native language and you speak English, Russian, Ukrainian, French, German or Spanish… Well, you are in luck.

Not every round is the same. I noticed that a lot of different enemies can spawn in the survival mode at random times. So, you can’t form a strategy for the next time you have to go through the same route. You have to guess and prepare yourself and your base.

The bad

pixel-gladiator-xbox-one

Even when the game has a fun gameplay loop, looks and sounds nice; that doesn’t mean that the game is good. There are some major flaws in this game.

First of all, while there is a leaderboard, there is no way to easily see your own personal high scores. To make matters even worse, it’s unclear in which sort of stage those people achieved that high score and how long ago. So, it’s a big guessing game.

Secondly, this game has no save feature as far as I can tell. Yes, you are reading this correctly. Whenever you exit the game or go to the main menu, you have to restart everything from the beginning of the game in survival mode or Arena mode.

Thirdly, the controls are decent but make some mistakes. The aiming is too sensitive for my liking and not only that… You don’t have an option to invert it or adjust the sensitivity. Oh, but it gets even worse! Jumping is done by holding the left stick up. And so, if you want to jump over the barrier on the left side… You have to hold the joystick to the upper left. If you don’t adjust the position of the joystick, guess what, you keep jumping up left. And if you made a turn with that jump, your crosshair doesn’t move with you.

The fourth issue I have with this game has to do with the randomness of the stages. While it keeps you on your toes, it does make the game unfair at certain stages. Because in some cases, you have to survive a meteor storm. In other cases, there are a ton of spring balls attacking you. It’s quite impossible to prepare and this means that a lot is based on luck.

The 5th issue with this game has to do with the difficulty scaling. This is broken beyond belief in my opinion. The difficulty wraps up so fast, it’s quite tricky to keep up with. In addition to that, not every enemy drops money. So, this makes it even trickier. Add on top of that, that there is no tutorial… and you have a recipe for disaster. I had to learn every small mechanic in the game. From not being able to heal during waves to the reactor core healing itself at the end of the wave. From being unable to do a melee attack and how to survive those meteor storms. Oh, and let’s not forget that the tougher enemies look the same as the regular enemies so you don’t know with which one you are dealing with!

Something I also missed in this game was the fact that there wasn’t some sort of radar. It would be quite helpful to see where and how many enemies were coming from the other side of the screen. This would help me to avoid various enemies that appeared a bit too quickly from off-screen to avoid.

And finally, this game has a story, but you only know that story when you either read the press material or the store description. And the story has a lot of potentials. Why was this unused?

Verdict

While this game looks great and can be enjoyable to play, the various amount of issues that this game has will appear quite quickly. The game doesn’t have any bugs and the audiovisual presentation is quite decent, I’ll give it that. But, the lack of a tutorial, balanced gameplay, floaty aiming controls, the inability to save your progress… It all adds up.

Now, do I recommend this game? Well, I don’t really know. The game can be a really fun timewaster and fun to play, but I don’t think that I can recommend this game in its current state to a lot of people.

I felt that this game has been released too quickly. Since it’s such a shame to see the potential that this game has gone to waste. Maybe this game can be improved with various patches. If the game gets a patch, I would love to see a better aiming system, tighter controls, the ability to save and a better balance in the gameplay. A tutorial and a radar can be added in a later patch.

So yeah, if you are interested in giving this game a try, by all means; go for it! But keep in mind that this game is quite rough around the edges and can get quite frustrating. Know that this review has been written after playing the Switch v1.0.0. Maybe in the future, we might see a better version and maybe the PC version plays quite differently…

You might notice the low score I give this game. Maybe this game was not my cup of tea. But I felt that the negatives of this title far outweigh the positives here. If this game ever gets an update that changes a lot about the gameplay, I might change that score. Other reviewers give this game a higher score, but I feel that the score is a bit too generous.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. Thank you so much 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.

Score: 40/100

e112b1099138227955f4f13099c31f7b

 

Gamer’s Thoughts: Gaming Style & Reviewing

DSC_0957

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

Super_Mario_Odyssey.jpg

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 challenges, 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 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 the 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 about 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.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Remakes & Reboots ft. Get Good Gaming

So, today I want to take you on a different journey through my thoughts. Not too long ago, the people over at Get Good Gaming invited me to be on one of their Get Good Talks. A 30 minute long podcast talking about a certain subject. In this episode, we talked about reboots and remakes, a topic I wanted to cover in the past on my blog. Here is the actual podcast. I’m sorry for the connection issues you can hear at my end. 

It has been quite a long time since people heard my voice. But doing this podcast made me do more. So, if there are any YouTubers/podcasters reading this that do podcasts, feel free to contact me. I would be interested in doing some more podcasts.

In addition to that, I would love to expand on this topic in the future. Thanks to my friends, I have a whole list of games I could cover that are remakes or reboots.

Also, if you are interested in videos about gaming, be sure to give the channel from Get Good Gaming a look. They guys behind it are pretty nice people and I wish they get more recognition. So, go ahead and take a look, okay?

First Impression: Corpse Party Blood Drive (Android) ~ Let’s go 3D.

corpse-party-apk.jpgGoogle Play Store link

I love the Corpse Party series. It’s one of the first horror games I ever tried and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m terrible when it comes to horror games and movies, but the story and writing of this series kept me interested throughout the whole series. In my opinion, it’s a ghost story done right. Now, when I saw in magazines that the 3rd game in the series was going to come out on the PS Vita, I wanted to play it. But, PS Vita’s were disappearing from shelves here in Belgium so I wasn’t able to play the game. But, one night, I was browsing the Google Play Store and suddenly this popped up. I have never bought a mobile game quicker before. So, was this a 35€ well spend or did I throw my money away? Let’s find out! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article. 

Note: to avoid major spoilers, I have chosen screenshots from the first chapter.

Note: for those interested, this game is also on the iOS store, but I’m playing it on Android so, this review is about the Android version.

The story warning

Corpse-Party-BD-EU-Oct.jpg

I have two big pieces of advice to give to you before you play this game. One, do not play the games out of order. Play Corpse Party: Blood Covered, then Book of Shadows and then Blood Drive.

Do complete them, since this game picks up a little bit after the actual ending of Corpse Party Book Of Shadows. Otherwise, various plot points won’t make sense in this game. If you are looking to get into the series, this isn’t the right game to start.

I’m glad that I’m able to play this game since Book of Shadows left on such a major nasty plot twist, I can finally see what effect it has on the characters. The writing in this game is in my opinion excellent. But, I can understand that it might be boring for some people. This game is a visual novel game with adventure elements. The novel sections are quite long and might drag on from time to time.

I think that two things could have improved the novel section. One, add a skip button that let you skip to the first bit of gameplay or important decision. When you are replaying the game to get to a certain ending or a name tag you missed, this would be a blessing.

Two, I think it would be amazing if they added an ability to save during the novel sections. Since this game is on mobile platforms, it’s going to be played by people who don’t always have the time. I was once on the train and when I had to get off, I was right in the middle of a novel section and I was unable to save. Some story sections can drag on for quite a while like a book. If only we were able to also use a bookmark, aka save, when we had to stop playing, that would be nice.

Those two things are actually my biggest complaints with the game. I have another one, but this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I notice that after long play sessions, my tablet becomes quite hot but when I put it in the protective sleeve, it doesn’t always become hot.

Return to form

Corpse Party Blood Drive

In terms of gameplay, this game plays more similar to the Blood Covered game but with the novel sections of Book of Shadows.  I really enjoy the gameplay in this game outside of the novel sections.

To avoid spoilers, I’m going to talk a bit vague about the scenery, but the areas you visit feel familiar yet new. The puzzles in this title are good. There are some very tense horror moments that are neatly woven into the gameplay that crawled under my skin.

Now, you might have noticed an “Endless off/on” button in the screenshot. This was actually an interesting story behind it. When the game was released in Japan, the feedback on the flashlight mechanic was so bad, the developers actually patched an endless mode in. Why didn’t they remove it you might ask? Well, to give players still the ability to get a certain trophy/achievement. An interesting story isn’t?

Still, you keep picking up batteries throughout the game to power your flashlight. Now, like various others online, I do have a question. Since when do we use double A batteries to power our smartphones? It would a little bit of sense if they used a power bank that is powered by double A batteries.

So far, I’m at the 4th chapter of the game. I’m really enjoying myself. While I can understand that the visuals like the character models might put some people off; I think they still have some charm to them. They are well animated and I don’t mind it too much. The visual presentation of the whole game is just amazing. I love how you can move the beam of light your flashlight makes with the right “joystick”. It really helps with the immersion for me. The only thing that the developers should fix is that it doesn’t default to “off” when you load the game.

The atmosphere man. The atmosphere.

Corpse-Party_10-05-15Something that this game has nailed perfectly is the atmosphere of the game. Besides the gore and creepy visuals, the voice acting does a lot to make you scared at the right time.

The atmosphere is built even more thanks to the use of sound effects and the music. The audio in this game is as good as the previous game if not better in some areas. Apart from the soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong, this game doesn’t have a bad soundtrack. But, I think that the soundtrack of the other games in the series is better.

In terms of the controls, this game nails it right on the head. The controls are pretty smooth in this game. And you will need them, since in this title when you get chased by ghosts, you can hide in cupboards amongst other things. Oh, and there are many traps littered around so you will have to avoid them.

In this game, the health meter has more meaning than in the two previous titles. Due to those traps, you can actually get a wrong end from dying on a trap. So, keep an eye out for cracked floors and other things like that. Also, you can find bandages in various spots to heal yourself back up.

There are other new game mechanics in this game, but I’m not going to talk about them to avoid spoilers and I want to keep some things a secret so you can find out for yourself if you decide to play this game. Let me say this: so far, I haven’t got anything bad to say about a game mechanic.

Something I really like about this game is the quick save button. You can quick save during exploration. A feature I wish was implemented in the previous games, to be honest. It makes redoing certain parts a bit easier. You can only have one quick save.

From what I read, if you want to fully complete this game, you will have to play give or take 25 hours of it. This means that there is a lot of gameplay for a visual novel. If you rush through the game, you will have a playtime of 15 hours. So, that means I’ll have a lot to enjoy in this game.

A bug I sometimes experience is that the text flies by without me touching anything. Thankfully, you have a message log and you have a button so you can replay the voice acting. But those moments fix themselves as soon as I swipe down and bring the message log up. I have no clue what caused it.

In my honest opinion, I think that this game has a lot to offer for Corpse Party fans and horror fans. I wouldn’t recommend this game as an entry into the Corpse Party franchise. Besides, I think it’s unfair to critique the 3rd game in a visual novel series that’s very plot-heavy that isn’t accessible to first-time players.

The Android version also has the achievements you have in the PS Vita version. This is quite neat. But, something very neat is the fact you can back up your save in the cloud and download it again if needed.

In terms of the difficulty, I can’t really judge the game quite yet since I haven’t beaten it. So, I will expand more on that in the review when I have beaten the game.

The load times in this game are quite short. This really surprises me. It doesn’t break the flow of the game one bit.

While the game has some flaws like too long novel sections, the inability to save during those novel sections, the overheating and the endless mode; the game has a lot of strengths like an amazing visual presentation, a lot of twists left and right and is pretty immersive.

I’m really enjoying myself with this game and I’m thankful that the developers ported this game to Android. While I can understand that some people won’t enjoy this game, I’m enjoying it. Again, the game has some flaws but it doesn’t outweigh them to not enjoy the game.

If you are looking for a way to play Corpse Party Blood Drive and you don’t have a PS Vita, don’t wait to pick this game up. I honestly think this game is worth the asking price. You get a lot of game for your buck and the Corpse Party fan in you won’t be disappointed. At least, that’s how I think about the game.

I could ramble on about this game for a while longer, but I think I’m going to leave it here. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then have a great rest of your day and take care.

Review: Bioshock 2 (PC) ~ Daddy, please!

BioShock2_box.png

Wikipedia pageOfficial website

Back in late 2015, I wrote an article on Bioshock. Then, in middle of 2016, I wrote my review of Bioshock Infinite. Now, today I want to talk about the 2nd game in the series, Bioshock 2. It’s no secret that I love the Bioshock series. It’s one of my favorite game series. Weirdly enough, this game is pretty well received by the press, yet some Bioshock fans and gamers hate this game. Now, in this review, I’ll tell you my honest opinion. Is this game good or is it bad? So, let’s go to Rapture again to try and crack this case. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article. 

Footnote: for this review, I played the original version. I have beaten the original but I haven’t beaten the remaster yet.

Daddy, please!

433309-bioshock-2-windows-screenshot-the-lighting-effects-look-even

8 years after the events of Bioshock, Subject Delta is woken up by little sisters. You thought that all little sisters were saved in the original Bioshock? Well, some things happened and now, you play the role of Subject Delta and you have to save the day. Not only that, you are a Big Daddy without a Little Sister.

This time, the plot is quite different from the original Bioshock. Personally, I think it’s well written. It touches on some subjects that make the story quite interesting. There is also a section where you play through the eyes of a little sister. This was a great idea. It made the setting of Bioshock more real to me.

The voice acting was, to be honest, hit or miss. There were moments that the actors delivered the line perfectly. But some lines could have been directed better. In those moments, the voice acting missed the soul of the character or the game. But, this problem might be because, like many others, I compare it to the original Bioshock. The voice acting in that game was exceptional.

The biggest issue with the story is that it’s bland at some points. I remember the introduction and the ending part of Bioshock 2. But, I don’t remember a lot of the middle section of the game, in terms of the story that is.

A bit more of Rapture

BioShock2

In this game, you discover a bit more of Rapture. You visit locations that you haven’t visited in the first game. Some locations are quite memorable. Yet, like I said before in this review, I don’t always remember what happened in those sections of the story.

One thing I don’t remember is multiplayer. Simply because I haven’t played any match online. But, when I read on the Bioshock Wiki, it sounds interesting. The only thing remember is that there aren’t a lot of players online though.

Visually, this game still looks great. If you find that the game needs a visual upgrade, the remastered edition. But be warned, the remastered version of this game lacks the multiplayer.

The animations in the game look amazing. The animation quality of the original Bioshock has returned and still looks as great as ever in this game. If it works that is. What I mean here is that sometimes, the animation bugged out for me and repeated three or four times before ending. Especially when the Splicers opened a door with a blow torch. In various occasions, the animation kept playing where it ended.

Overall, the visual presentation is pretty great. If you can stand the occasional visual glitch, that is. I especially love the design of the Big Sisters. This is a new type of enemy that you encounter in this game. They are pretty scary enemies to deal with since they are even more powerful than the Big Daddy’s. They can hurt you pretty bad.

If you want to beat this game, you will have to give or take 15 hours of game time. If you rush this game, you get 11 hours. This game has some replay value since you can explore various areas for missed tonics and plasmids.

Gameplay-wise, this game plays very similarly to the first Bioshock.  This game is a shooter as well. You will have various tonics at your disposal to play around with. There is also a new gameplay section in this game. Since you play as a Big Daddy, you can drop off your Little Sister at “an angel”. At this moment, you drop off your Little Sister while she collects ADAM. Then this game turns into a “defend the point” shooter. A lot of enemies come in various locations and attack you. If they reach the girl, she doesn’t continue to gather the ADAM. I think this would have been better if you had the possibility of losing your little sister then. That would make this section tenser.

You are a Big Daddy now

433323-bioshock-2-windows-screenshot-hacking-a-vending-machine-for

There is one gameplay change I like but hate at the same time. I’m happy that they changed the hacking mini game into something else. But, I hate what they changed it into. They changed it into a reaction based

You have to press a button while the arrow is in the green section to continue hacking the machine. The issue I have with it is that the landing areas get so small, it gets very hard. I don’t have the best reflexes or rhythm and I tripped more alarms than necessary.

In this game, you also play with a lot of new weapons compared to the original game. Of course, you are a Big Daddy in this title.  The same counts of plasmids and tonics. I loved the “Hypnotize” and “Electro Shock” plasmids a lot. I have used them the most.

The “Decoy” plasmid was pretty handy as well in the sections where you needed to protect your Little Sister. Switching between plasmids and weapons is pretty great. Like the controls of this game. I didn’t have any issues with them.

Something I didn’t need to complain about was the UI of this game. Every option was easy to find and everything that needed to be displayed was displayed. You can also disable parts of the UI if you want a more immersive experience.

The difficulty curve in this game is pretty good. There were some sections that were pretty tense, but I enjoyed the gameplay a lot. While the adventure itself might be short, there are so many different ways to kill your enemies making it a somewhat unique experience each playthrough. You can also research Little Sisters after you killed the accompanying Big Daddy.

Sadly enough, the whole ride isn’t enjoyable. Some moments of the gameplay are quite boring. There are sections where you need to go from point A to B under water. I hated those parts since they felt as filler gameplay. But, I can understand the inclusion for two reasons.

One, the add to the character of a Big Daddy. You saw them repairing broken parts of Rapture in the original game in the ocean.

Two, they can be used as what developers call a “Loading Gate”. These moments give the game time to unload the old part of the game and load in the new part of the game. This is a trick to save resources.

The soundtrack of this game is pretty decent. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the music from the time period that Bioshock takes place in, but the themes played during the combat and exploration sections are lovely.

The sound-effects of this game are pretty well done as well. I played this game with some gaming headphones and I have to say, that they really helped to immerse me into the game. Thanks to the sound design, I jumped out of my skin quite a few times when I didn’t see an enemy coming or when I was battling with a Big Sister.

Also, this game got a DLC with one additional story. It’s called Minerva’s Den. This DLC adds a 5-hour campaign to the main game and it’s pretty decent. I have seen and played worse DLC’s. I haven’t completely beaten it yet, but I’m near the end of the DLC. If you are planning to buy and play this game; I highly recommend that you buy the DLC as well. You will get more out of your game.

That said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to get to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Sometimes the game can be pretty buggy. Mostly the animations suffer from this.

-The voice acting is not good.

-The new hacking minigame is just bad.

-Parts of the story aren’t memorable, which is a shame since it’s an interesting story.

-The multiplayer is removed in the remaster.

The good:

+ Addictive gameplay with the new plasmids, weapons, tonics and Little Sisters.

+ The game looks still pretty great visually.

+ Amazing sound design and a great soundtrack.

+ Longer than your typical shooter.

+ …

Final Thoughts:

Is Bioshock 2 a bad game? Not in my opinion. Let me explain it this way, Bioshock 2 isn’t like Half Life 2. The sequel isn’t better than the original game.

Sidenote: let me be clear with calling Half Life 2 better than Half Life 1, I hear more praise for the second game compared to the first. That’s all.

Bioshock 2 has problems, it lacks polish in some areas and you can hear that in the voice acting and see that in the various minor bugs left in the game. On the Wikipedia article, you can read an interesting development history of this game. The developers had quite a big task ahead of them. How are you going to follow up the amazing Bioshock?

I personally think that this game is an amazing sequel that has some flaws. If you enjoyed Bioshock, there is a chance you might enjoy the sequel. Give it a chance, since this game has some amazing moments. And if you want the best visual experience, you can play the remastered version. About the remastered version, Drakulus wrote a pretty interesting article on the remaster of the original. You can read it here.

That’s everything for this review folks! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article. But until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 70/100

Game Quicky: TuboCity (Android) ~ Rolling Through Tubes

TuboCityIconOfficial website

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

The game

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

The bad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of Time / Darkness & Sky (DS) ~ Expansion Dungeon?

PMD3

Wikipedia entry

So, remember when Nintendo released an enhanced version of each generation? Games like Pokémon Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum come to mind. Well, they also did that once for their Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. When Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness released, a year later Nintendo released Explorers of the Sky. I have beaten Explorers of Time but I haven’t beaten this updated version yet. Why did I decide to write a review then? Well, the core mechanics haven’t changed in this version. In any case, it’s time to take a look at this game, what do I think about this entry in one of my favorite game series? As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the game. 

250px-MD_Time_EN_boxart

Note: In this review, I will focus mostly on the Sky version of the game. But my thoughts in this review apply to all versions of this game except the exclusive stuff in the Sky version.

Note 2: To avoid mentioning the full title of the game every time, I refer to the games by only using the last word in the title.

Let’s form a guild

Pokemon mystery dungeon explorers of the sky 2

So, you start up a new game and you get a personality quiz. This will decide which Pokémon you will be during the whole adventure. For some reason, I love doing this quiz. I have played it various times and I always end up with the same Pokémon.

So, the story of this game. You play as a human that got turned into a Pokémon. You meet your partner on the beach. After your partner gets his special artifact stolen from some rival gang, you and your partner go and reclaim the stolen artifact. After you have helped your partner, both of you team up and go join the local guild.

When you join the local guild, you learn that somebody is stealing the time gears and which controls time in that given area. So, you set out on an adventure to stop this madness and restore peace to the land.

And that’s just the basic part of the story. This story goes much deeper. You go on various quests and adventures, it’s great. The writing in this game is great, but some jokes are more aimed at the younger audience. In the Sky version, there is an additional backstory added to the game. There is also a longer epilog added to the game. I still have to finish the epilog, but I love the added stories so far.

The visual presentation of this game is, as you would expect from a Nintendo game, excellent. I can understand that the visuals might turn some people off since they aren’t upgraded too much from the original GBA title. Still, the detail in the artwork is well done. Also, the gorgeous full-screen pictures are an amazing touch. A common criticism of this game is that

A common criticism of this game is that the dialogues go on and on for too long. I honestly didn’t mind this too much, but I do understand why people complain. This game could have benefitted from some cutscenes, even when it’s just a big picture that goes over the two DS screens.

Was this needed?

620279-pokemon-mystery-dungeon-explorers-of-sky-nintendo-ds-screenshot

The expanded Sky version has a very mixed reception. While some reviewers hated this version, some reviewers loved it. The biggest issue is that the things that were added in this version were somewhat minor at first. Why do I say minor at first? Well, this version has much more polish than the original versions.

Why do I say minor at first? Well, this version has much more polish than the original versions. Also, there are some many things added like: new dungeons, new story, more starters, new places and shops… But most of them appear after a bit of playtime or is post game content.

I think that this could have been handled better. I think that the Sky version should have been the only one that got released. It’s the superior version of Time and Darkness. So, if you haven’t played these games yet, don’t bother with Time and Darkness, play the Sky version.

Another interesting idea would be a sort of “save file transfer” feature. So, that you transfer your save file from either Time or Darkness to Sky and you get direct access to the new features without having to replay the whole game.

If you have played Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue or Red Rescue Team, you know what you can expect in this game. You go through randomized dungeons while fighting various other rogue Pokémon. Your goal is to reach the end of the dungeon so you can continue to the story.

Sometimes you have sentry duty over at the guild. Then you have to guess which 250px-MD_Darkness_EN_boxartPokémon wants to enter the guild. I think this mini game would be pretty tricky if you aren’t familiar with Pokémon. But, if you are familiar with Pokémon, this shouldn’t give you too much trouble.

When you aren’t exploring a dungeon, you can go and visit the local town to buy items and upgrade your Pokémon. You can also go on various side quests and/or hunt after wanted criminals.

The core gameplay can be repetitive, yet enjoyable. If you play this game more an extended amount of time, it might get boring. But, if you spice things up with some side quests and trying to progress the story, the game stays enjoyable.

In Sky, there is a new Spinda Café added, which adds some new mechanics into the game. But, I’ll leave that for you to find out. One of them is a recycling mechanic and another is “the lottery” mechanic. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Check it out since it will help you in your journey.

When you die in a dungeon, you get kicked back to the start of the dungeon or the mid-way checkpoint. The catch is that you lose some items and almost all your cash. So be careful what you take with you since you can lose it when you aren’t careful.

The music for this game is excellent. There is one song that almost every time hits a chord with me. That song’s name is “Don’t Ever Forget – I don’t want to say goodbye…” and it plays near the climax of the whole game. To avoid spoilers, I’m not going to say too much about it, but it still gives me goosebumps while writing this part of the review. And I’m not the only one. Just go on YouTube and read the comments. Yeah, you will understand what I mean.

The music adds so much to this game. There are so many memorable moments that are made so much more powerful with the soundtrack. So, I highly recommend playing this game with a good pair of headphones. Thank me later.

A quick note about the sound design, it’s great. But honestly, due to the amazing soundtrack, it didn’t pay too much attention to the sound design to comment too much about it.

Snatch that jewel

Pokemon mystery dungeon explorers of the sky 1

This game can be pretty difficult in some places. But, most of those moments can be defeated with some grinding. Yet, sometimes you have or can get lucky and finish a difficult dungeon by finding the stairs on each floor.

In Sky, there are various tweaks at the difficulty. But the random monster houses can be so cheap. I died more than once because of this.

The controls for this game are great. I didn’t have any problems with them. The only annoying thing is that you attacking diagonally is a nightmare. I had to struggle with the controls more than once to do that. Also, attacking at a corner doesn’t work. Your attack always misses. This is fixed in later entries in the series.

Due to the randomized nature of the dungeons you enter, there is a lot of replay value in this game. But, you will miss a skip button for skipping the story bits.

Speaking about that, something that annoyed me was the end of the day after you finished your missions. You go through dinner with your guild and it takes a bit too long. I honestly think that a skip button for this would help. But, that would be tricky since sometimes at night time, you get important story bits. So, I can understand why it isn’t added.

This game’s length is great. If you play through the game to just beat the main story, you will have 30-ish hours of gameplay ahead of you. But, I have read that when you want to complete this game, you have over 150 hours of game time ahead of you.

So, that’s everything I wanted to talk about in this game. I didn’t talk about some parts, but hey, that means there are still surprises for you to find when you decide to give this game a try. So, it’s time to wrap up this whole review in the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Some minor issues like not being able to attack at corners aren’t fixed from the previous entry in the series.

-The bad reception for the Sky version is understandable. Due to the release of Sky, the Darkness and Time versions look unpolished.

-This game could have benefitted from some cutscenes.

-A skip button for the story isn’t here. This would benefit 2nd playthroughs so much.

The good:

+ Great story and writing.

+ Great visuals.

+ Amazing music.

+ Fun, yet sometimes repetitive, gameplay.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you want to give this game a shot, I highly recommend playing the Sky version. If you think the games are worth a replay, you might give the Time & Darkness a chance. But remember, as I said in the review, the Sky version is better since it has much more polish than the originals.

This game is excellent. This game is one of my favorite games in the series and I can’t wait to finish the additional content. I have beaten this game at least 4 times, so that’s why I wrote a review instead of a first impression.

I can understand people who are let down by the Sky version since they played Darkness and/or Time first. But, don’t let it discourage you to not play this game. You would miss out on a great Pokémon spin-off that is slowly growing into an amazing series.

This game doesn’t have too many flaws, but the flaws it has aren’t too big of a deal in my eyes. They didn’t stop me from enjoying the game and having a great time.

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

Score: 95/100

First Impression: Golden Sun – Dark Dawn (DS) ~Sunny Weather

Goldensun3.jpgWikipedia entry

It’s time that I talk about a Golden Sun game. I have been putting this off for way too long. After I listed it in my favorite DS games ever made, I never talked about it. Apart from some music tracks here and there. It’s time to correct that. This week we are going to take a look at a game, I honestly thought I talked about before. In any case, the title and the box art here already gave it away.  It’s the 3rd game in the series, Golden Sun Dark Dawn. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article. 

(Note: to make this article more readable and understandable for everybody, I didn’t to use the lore of this game and used a generic term.)

Special powers

i_25933.jpg

The story of this game takes place a few years after the original two games. The story starts out simple with two children getting into some trouble with a sort of magical hang glider. But rather quickly, this story changes into your typical “save the world from doom” story.

While the story is your typical RPG story, it’s the journey and the writing that makes it memorable in my eyes. Each main character and side character has his or her own personality.

But what I really like about the story is how all the lore is explained in a non-intrusive way.  As you may have guessed, this game is a JRPG and because it’s the 3rd game in the series, there is a lot of lore.

But instead of the characters explaining the lore in some dialogue or some boring exposition dump, it gets underlined. When you tap that word, you get an explanation on the top screen to get you up to speed. Also, all those words go in your encyclopedia so you read them at your own pace. This is something that all other RPG’s should do! That way, there can be more focus on the story instead of explaining everything so newcomers can enjoy the game. This mechanic can also serve as a nice reminder for hardcore fans when he or she has forgotten the meaning of a word.

Fighting like on the GBA

5c75feb80eb48e60179c055229c2eb5f-650-80.jpg

The gameplay, in general, hasn’t changed a lot compared to the GBA games. But in this game, some mechanics are tweaked for the newer hardware.

First of all, I want to talk about the exploration part of the game. The world this game takes place in is huge. I love exploring in this world. Since each town has it’s own unique feel to it.

The puzzles in this game are amazing in my opinion. The puzzles use the special powers you have in creative ways. I had to think outside of the box sometimes. And when you are stuck, one character gets a special power which allows you to see what objects you can interact with and which powers you should use.

Secondly, the battles are quite interesting as well. Since you have three possible attacks. You can fight with your weapons, use your magic and/or Djinn. Djinns are special creatures you find all over the world.

The mechanic of Djinn is one of the most interesting things in this game. I love trying to find them in towns, dungeons and in the overworld. But after you found them, a rather tricky meta-game starts. Depending to who you equip which Djinn, you can make a character even stronger or even weaker. Not only that, which magic powers they can use will also change. This makes for an interesting balancing exercise to make sure you have the perfect build to advance the plot.

When you use Djinn, they go into, what I like to call, the summing pool. When you have enough Djinn of a certain type, you can summon a more powerful creature. But beware, when a Djinn is in the summoning pool, the character it’s attached too, will lose its perks.

If this sounds interesting to you, this page on the Golden Sun wiki will explain it in more depth.

This world is golden

goldensun4.jpg

The presentation and design of this game are top notch. While some animations take a little bit too long, I have no other complaint.

The world looks colorful and really pops out. The visual presentation in this game is one of the best I have seen on the system.

There is one issue I have with the design. And that’s that the menu system can sometimes be very annoying. It’s difficult to explain, but I felt that could have been done a lot better with more traditional menus. An example is the inventory system. It’s quite messy in my opinion. When you are looking for example for some herbs and you forgot to which character you have given them too. But it’s something I got used to.

The music and sound design of this game are excellent. The sound design gives this game the right charm it deserves. And the music, well, I have the soundtrack in my music library and I play a track here and there. It’s a very nice soundtrack.

The controls are great as well. Since you can use both buttons and the stylus. So you can choose and use the playstyle you prefer.

This game isn’t easy but isn’t difficult. But, I will give my final verdict on that when I finish the game. Since I know that there is another DS game that is rather easy but the final boss is extremely hard.

Something that could have been improved in this game is the frame rate. In some parts of the game, I saw some great frame rate drops. It mostly happens when there is way too much happening on screen at once. But it doesn’t happen very often thankfully.

Something I have to mention is that I had this game crash on me twice at the same spot. In the first cave you visit, I had this game crash on me. It was a great lesson in saving this game often. Also, thumbs up for having three save slots. Really helps!

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. When I beat this game, I might write a review. I hope you enjoyed reading this first impression as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you at another article on my blog, have a great rest of your day and until then: take care and game on!