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First Impression: GameR-Mate Stik (Hardware) ~ Take Your Ubuntu Everywhere.

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Official website

Today I want to talk about something that has been in the works for quite a while. Last year, the folks over at BlackRangerSoftware sent me an mail promoting their newest product called the GameR-Mate Stik v1.0.0. I was going to write an article about it back then, but the devs created an updated version right after I sent them my feedback. On top of that, the COVID-19 outbreak and shipping something from the USA to Europe delayed this article until now. Now, with that said, I think it’s high time to talk about this product. Know that the developer asked for my 100% honest opinion and that’s what you are going to read in this article. Now, let’s take a look at the first physical product I’m going to review on my blog. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on the product and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

What is GameR-Mate?

So, image this. An USB stick that you can plug into any computer that can run USB3.0 sticks and with that, you can play your games without affecting the computer itself. That’s GameR-Mate. The technical term for it is a Live-USB.

The latest version I received is running a modified version of Ubuntu 16.08. Now, what is Ubuntu? Let me tell you. So, to be able to run your computer, you need an operating system. An operating system is a sort of “translator”. It translates instructions from software to actual machine code. For example, when you make a new folder, the operating system gets that information from Windows or OSX and tells the hard drive: “Hey, make me a new folder on that location”. An operating system is much more than that, but for keeping this article simple, let’s not dive too much deeper into the inner working of computers.  

Now, the two biggest operating systems on the market are: Windows from Microsoft and OSX from Apple. Of course, you have Android from Google and iOS from Apple for smartphones. Let’s not forget ChromeOS for Chromebooks. And there is a special one as well. It’s called Linux.

Linux comes in a ton of flavors called “Distro’s”. Most of these distro’s are free to use and give you even more control of your computer than Windows and OSX. In the tech community, there are a lot of people who prefer using Linux to Windows or OSX. They enjoy the greater privacy control, ability to control every little thing about the system or just don’t want to pay for an operating system. There are many more reasons why people choose for Linux.

The userbase for Linux is rather small. According to NetMarketShare.com, the most used operating systems on the market are Windows (88,14%), Mac OSX (9,38%) and then Linux with (1,89%). Now, that’s mostly in the desktop and laptop space. Now, something quite “funny” happens when we look at the server side of things. Just take a look at datanyze.com with the comparisons between the usage of Windows Server and Ubuntu… Now, this is only just one website, but let me tell you from personal experience as an IT staff guy in a big school here in Belgium, we server techies prefer Linux distro’s for our servers in most cases over Windows server because it gives us more control over the system and is generally more lightweight so it uses less resources.

So, why am I putting so much effort into explaining Linux for this article? Especially in the section where I should be explaining what GameR-Mate actually is? Well, because Linux gives you the freedom to create very specific products without a lot of modifications. Just take a look at this list and you might be surprised on how much things run on Linux.

GameR-Mate is a special USB stick. So, you can boot to it and play your games and take it with you. The biggest limitation is that you need a “host” computer to be able to run it. So, if you don’t have a computer, you won’t be able to access your games. But that’s a limitation of each USB stick is it not?

What’s included?

Now, you can buy a GameR-Mate USB-stick right from Gamer-Mate.net. At the time of writing, the stick costs 70$ (discounted to 50$) which is give or take, 65 euro (45€ if it’s discounted). In order for you to be able to run your games, you need to have a computer that supports at least USB3.0. I have tested mine on older devices that don’t have an USB3.0 port and let me tell you, it wasn’t a fun time.

But, how do you know if your computer has USB3.0 ports? Well, in most cases these USB ports are blue. You can also double check that via the instructions in this article. So, after you placed your order, you get your GameR-Mate stick.

My stick arrived in a protective envelope that had the stick in a plastic bag stapled to a quick start guide. This quick start guide helps you to boot your computer to an USB stick instead of the actual operating system of your computer. Besides that, you get an user guide with explanation and some great information to get started using the stick. You also get a thank you letter from the CEO for buying the product. And finally you get a welcome letter as well.

I did get something additional, but that’s because I got a beta version of the product so I get some forms to fill in to give feedback on the product to create a better product. Personally, I think that they should include this with every purchase, even when the beta phase is over, you never know when it can come in handy.

The USB stick itself is made out of metal and plastic. It feels quite sturdy but you can remove the metal a bit too easily from the housing. Also, if you ever created USB sticks with your own print on them, you will recognize them right away. Maybe it’s a thing here in Belgium, but I got the same design of USB from various other places at events. I have the same model in yellow, green, blue and red. But, that’s nitpicking.

Something I missed with the USB-stick is a better way to store it. Now, I added an additional metal ring so I can attach it to a lanyard. I find that a bit more secure since during the research and testing I was doing for this article, my cat Troy knocked the USB stick underneath my desk while he was sleeping on my desk. Thanks to the lanyard, I was able to get it back from underneath my desk more easily. Now, adding a lanyard to the shipment might be too big of a cost, but adding a small metal ring to add it to your own lanyard would be lovely.

The experience

Depending on the hardware you run the stick on, the better performance you are going to get. Keep in mind that you need at least a port that can run USB3 sticks. In order to test this stick out, I tested this stick on my main machine. My main computer is running an i7-4820K, 16GB of DDR3 RAM at 666MHz and an MSI GTX 1050Ti. My motherboard is an ASROCK X79 Extreme 6. While this isn’t the strongest of systems out there, my computer is strong enough to run all the games I want to play at 30-60FPS at medium to high settings.

When you boot the stick, you can select various different modes. From what I can understand is that you can choose between loading it from the USB or load the system into RAM. There is also a recovery mode included. I had to use that once since an update failed to install and that corrupted my whole OS.

In the user guide, you get the advice to make frequent backups. If I had made a backup, I would have saved my first testing version from death. But yeah, I’m to blame since I thought I would be able to fix it since I used Linux various times during my studies and at work. But when you can even boot the OS, let alone go in recovery mode… Well, then you are quite screwed.

In a future article, I’ll take a look at the games that are included in this package. The list of pre-installed software is quite expansive. You can find the list at BlackRangerSoftware’s blog. Important footnote with this list, since this list is created during the development of the stick, it might be that some games aren’t included on the stick and/or on the list. But, I’m quite certain that the amount of games won’t change. Games that I could recommend are:

0AD, which is an open source RTS game like Age Of Empires

Alex 4, a lovely retro platformer in the style of an old Gameboy game.

B.A.L.L.Z, a platformer game where you are a ball and you need to use the bounce mechanics to your advantage.

Frogatto, this adventure platformer reminds me a lot of games like Shantae.

Sadly enough, there are some repeats. A lot of repeats actually. There are various Tetris-style, Pac-Man-style, Breakout-style… games. This gave me mixed feelings. At once hand, I love the choice I’m getting between all these various games. But at the other hand, I got the feeling that all of those games were just added to have a higher number of games to try and sell more sticks.

Is this GameR-Mate fun to use? If I have to answer that question, I’m going to have to add a disclaimer. There is going to be a learning curve if you have never worked with Linux. If you are used to Windows 10, there are a lot of things you will miss that you took for granted on your Windows machine. For example: seeing the password you are typing in, loading animations while settings are changing, double clicking a window to make it full screen, a place where all settings are combined into one place, a notification center…. It’s just not there in the Linux distro on the USB-stick. Now, do keep in mind that this can be updated and added in a future version of the stick.

But, you still have to learn a completely new operating system. While Linux has a lot of tutorials, due to the huge amount of different distro’s and differences between them, it can be quite overwhelming. So, give yourself some time and keep in mind that the system might work quite different compared to your Windows machine. Now, I do think that Apple users will have a better time adjusting to Linux since in a way, the user interface of Apple systems and Linux systems have various things in common. (Sidenote: while they have things in common, Apple OSX isn’t Linux and Linux isn’t OSX. But the flow in the OS can be similar.)

When you give this USB stick a chance, I think it might have the same effect on you then it has on me. I love to play around with unique ways to play games. I don’t mind honestly if the game is a retro or a current game. As long as I’m having fun while playing my games, it’s all that matters to me. So, I personally recommend this stick to people who love playing a ton of different games and/or people who travel a lot and aren’t able to take their main gaming rig with them. I think that the asking price is well worth it for the amount of value you are getting. Plus, you can always install more games from the various store fronts.

With that, I think I’m going to wrap up this first article on the GameR-Mate Stik. I want to thank BlackRangerSoftware for being so patient with me and also for giving me the opportunity to test out this product. 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 and I wish you a great rest of your day and take care!

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Gamer’s Thoughts: My Top 10 Games I played in 2017

XOXOIt’s that time of year again, the year is near its end and various websites are looking back at the games released this year. It’s about time that I do the same but in the Jonez’ way of doing things. So, how does this work? Well, if you have read my previous articles where I looked back at the year, you might know this already. Otherwise, here is how it works. I’m a game collector and I often go to garage sales. I honestly prefer buying my games that way instead of buying the newest and latest release. That means I played a lot of older games too. So, in my top 10 games, I played in 2017 are the games I played in 2017, no matter the release date. The biggest rule is that I had to start playing the game in 2017. If I started playing this game in 2016 or earlier, it doesn’t count. The list for this year has been quite a difficult list to put together. I have played so many amazing games, I had to scrap so many games. In any case, enough introduction time. Time to get this article started.

 Place 10: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle And The Millionaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

layton lady katrielle mystery journeySomething I saw a long time coming was that there would be a new character introduced to continue the Layton series. What I didn’t expect was that it would be Layton’s daughter. While the gameplay takes a bit of a turn, it’s still a Layton game at its core with more and shorter stories.

While it isn’t the first Layton spin-off that was released in the series, it’s one of the first multiplatform games in the series. So, I’m wondering how the rest of the series will continue. Shall we see more Layton games on Nintendo platforms or will Layton shift to the mobile platform? If you would ask me, I think a multiplatform release will work just fine. Since I think that Layton games should be enjoyed by more people.

It’s an amazing brain teaser. Thanks to the charm of the writing and characters, you can get easily invested in the story. In addition to that, it helps to keep one of my favorite genres alive and that is the adventure visual novel game. The Layton games contain a big story you can delve into, and I love it for that. While it’s not my favorite series in the genre, it comes pretty close. Thank you Level5 for creating this series and I can’t wait to see where you will take it next. Since I heard a new Layton game is under development for the Nintendo Switch.

Place 9: Ever Oasis (3DS) (Original release: 2017)

Ever Oasis

First Impression

A new IP from Nintendo? Why, yes, please! When I saw the trailer for the first time, I remember that I directly surfed to the website of my local game store to see if I would be able to pre-order the game. Sadly enough, I wasn’t able to do so at that time. When I was able to pre-order the game a few months later, I didn’t think twice.

When I finally got my hands on it, the game didn’t disappoint. I really think that this new IP will be interesting for Nintendo. I honestly hope that they don’t let this game be a one-off thing since this game has a lot of potentials to turn into an amazing new series.

Somehow, I even see a crossover with the Zelda series working perfectly. Since it was a sort of desert-themed Zelda game in my opinion. If they ever make a sequel, I wish that they expand more on the Oasis side of things, I wish there were more interactions with the villagers of my oasis.

But hey, if this is a Fata Morgana or an actual new series by Nintendo, that remains to be seen. Maybe in 2018, we get an HD remake on the Switch for all we know.

Place 8: Etrian Odyssey Untold Stories 2 – The Fafnir Knight (3DS) (Original release: 2014)

EO2U

First Impression

I have nominated the Etrian Odyssey games for my top 10 games I played in earlier years. Even while a new entry in the series released here this year in the west, I haven’t played it yet. I do own a copy.

I have to admit that I haven’t beaten an Etrian Odyssey game, but I have to say that I have gotten quite far into this game. The story is very enjoyable and I want to finish it in the near future. Actually, I’m thinking about making one of my goals in 2018, finishing an Etrian Odyssey game. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the game I will finish first will be this one.

I just enjoy creating my own maps while I’m exploring the dungeons and labyrinths this game throws at me. I really feel invested because it’s my own maps helping me further into the dungeon instead of a pre-made map. I always see people doing it in a different way, but I do it my way and that’s the way how I like to play games.

Place 7: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U) (Original release: 2015)

Tokyo mirage sessions

First Impression

This game really surprised me when I first started playing it this summer. While I’m on my summer holidays, I tend to take some time off blogging and work to actually play a lot of games and watch a lot of anime.

Yet, this year, I did write a lot of articles and I played a lot of just one game. I played a lot of Tokyo Mirage Sessions on my Wii U. While I’m nearly half beating the game, my game time is way past that. Since I paused the game when I was eating, I went to the bathroom and once or twice when I went to sleep. Apparently, those moments keep adding to the overall game time.

In any case, I really enjoyed this game. If that isn’t clear and you need more proof; if a crossover makes me decide that I need to collect more games from both series, I think the crossover succeeded in its goal.

I really want to see how both series play. While I have a pretty good idea of how Fire Emblem plays, since I own a couple of Fire Emblem games, I do want to know how Sin Megami Tensei plays. But, thank you so much Tokyo Mirage Sessions for making my summer that more enjoyable with your game!

Place 6: Corpse Party: Blood Drive (Android) (Original release: 2014, PS Vita version)

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First Impression

At this moment, I don’t own a PS Vita. But, there were a few games I wanted to buy a Vita for. Now, there is one game I wanted a Vita for and that is Corpse Party BloodDrive. To my surprise, this game was ported this year to Android and iOS. It also got released not too far from my birthday.

I didn’t know about this until Halloween came around. At this moment, I noticed an image on my store home page that looked a lot like Corpse Party. When I tapped on the icon, I was surprised by the Japanese name of the game and then the English title with English looking screenshots. At first, I thought that it was a port of the original game I have on PC and 3DS.

To my surprise, it was a port of the PS Vita game, BloodDrive. I haven’t bought a game quicker on the Android Play Store than that game. I really want to see how the story of Corpse Party continued after the cliffhanger in “Book Of Shadows”.

At this moment, I’m over halfway done with the game and I really want to finish it. I can’t wait to see how the game continues to twist and turn. But, I’ll soon find out, since I started to play this game again.

Place 5: Project Zero – Maiden of the Blackwater (Fatal Frame 5) (Wii U) (Original release: 2014)

project zero

First Impression

Like I said in my article, I’m not that fond of scary games. This game is one of the first 3D horror games I enjoyed quite a lot. This horror game surprises me since it’s able to give me unlimited ammo to defend myself and it’s still scary. The atmosphere, pacing, and world-building are all so believable.

One time, I played this game right before I went to sleep. The nightmares I had that night were so bad, I decided I didn’t want to play this game without lights on. Yet, I flick that light switch to off when I’m playing this game. The atmosphere is just a lot better thanks to it.

I’m still thankful to the person who decided to sell their intact collector’s edition in my local game store. This way I was able to pick it up second hand. I admit, I collected some dust on my shelves for like a month, but then I decided that I wanted to play some new games I bought in 2017 and started up this game.

What a great decision! Now that I have a new TV with an HDMI-input, which is bigger than my computer monitor, I get pulled even more into the game. So, beware Maiden of the Blackwater, here I come to take a picture of you. Make sure that I can make a photograph from your good side, okay?

Place 4: Oneshot (Steam Release) (PC) (Original release: 2016)

OneShot_cover_artI discovered this game through a video from one of my favorite YouTubers, NitroRad. When I saw that this game got released on Steam, I decided to buy it and give it a shot myself.

I wasn’t disappointed. It actually broke the 4th wall in many creative ways. I’m not going to talk about it too much since it will spoil the surprises in the game. But believe me, this game can do some crazy things that blew my mind from time to time.

The game was first a free indie title, that you could play once. Therefore it got the name “OneShot”. But now that it’s a commercial product, they had to ditch that idea. While they didn’t ditch it 100%, the way how they solved it was amazing.

After I had beaten this game, I really want another game with similar concepts and new puzzles. But, if this game will never come, I’m glad that I was able to experience OneShot and I’m happy to spread the love and recommend this game again. I decided that I’m not going to write a review nor an article about it, since talking or revealing too much will get into spoiler territory way too quickly. Know that the game needs to be played on PC and that you will have to think outside of the box to solve some puzzles. Or if you want to see more, feel free to check out the videos on it made by NitroRad. While he shows off a bit of the start, most of the surprises in this game aren’t spoiled at all.

To save you some time, here is a link to his video.

Place 3: Outlaws (PC) (Original release: 1997)

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Review of the game

I go to a big garage sale each and every year; well, I picked up this game boxed for like 2€. It was the final game I bought. I caught it in the corner of my eye. Right when I saw the LucasArts logo, I knew I had to have it.

Seriously, this game doesn’t disappoint. Besides the amazing soundtrack, this game has amazing gameplay. When I decide to boot up my retro Windows 98 gaming PC, I almost always take this game and decide to play a few levels.

The love and care put into this game make it worthy of all the praise I’m giving it. I knew that LucasArts was good at creating adventures, but I didn’t know that they would also be able to create enjoyable 3D shooters.

So, thank you LucasArts for creating this underrated and overlooked gem of a game. If you haven’t played this game and you enjoy 3D shooters, you owe it to yourself to play this game. Know that this game is released in 1997 so the graphics will look like the original DooM in a way, but it’s still amazing to play to this day.

If you are unable to get yourself a boxed copy like me, you can find this game on GoG.com for like 5€, so you have no excuse to not give it a try. I honestly find it a way to cheap price for the game.

Place 2: A Hat In Time (PC) (Original release: 2017)

a hat in time

Review of the game

How could I not? To be honest, deciding the top 3 of this list was the most difficult part for me. While I wish I could put these three games on number one and call it a tie, that solution would be too cheap.

Anyways, I will explain why I place A Hat In Time so high on my favorite games of 2017 list. I usually never play collect-a-ton platformers. Besides Super Mario 64, I haven’t played any. While I have seen the first trailers for this game, I didn’t know it released after I suddenly saw some screenshots on my Twitter feed.

When I realized that the game was released, I bought it and booted it up. I think I explained a lot about the joy I had in the review. I gave the game a 100/100 for a reason. Right on my review page, I explain that when I give a game 100/100, I think the game is perfect in my eyes. While I know the game has problems, they are being fixed and improved to make the game even more smooth.

I have to thank Gears For Breakfast for delivering this game and also for the amount of polish and care they gave to this game. I can’t wait to see the free DLC arrive in the near future to play even more vanilla content.

Runners-up

A few games haven’t made the list. These games I started to play in 2017 as well, but sadly didn’t make the list because of a variety of reasons. So, here we go:

Mario Stickers Charged Football (Wii), Lego Jurrasic Park World (Wii U), Axiom Verge (PC/Wii U), Metroid Samus Returns (3DS), Popolocrois (PSP), Hamtaro (GBC), Spellforce (PC), Pokémon Pinball – Ruby & Sapphire Edition (GBA) amongst others I’m forgetting now.

1st PLACE: The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild (Wii U) (Original release: 2017)

BreathoftheWildFinalCover

First Impression

There was this game this year, I played when I didn’t know what to play. A game that needed time to grow me on me. A game that slowly but surely became one of the best games I played all year. With over 200 hours put into it this year, I can’t lie and say that The Legend Of Zelda is the worst game I played in 2017.

Currently, I’m playing through all the DLC and I have a sneaking suspicion that after that, I’ll still spend a lot of time with this game. Especially when I’m going to buy a Switch next year, I’ll be able to experience this game all over again.

If you didn’t know, the Legend Of Zelda series is one of my favorite gaming series ever made. As shown by the amazing blogging celebration I did in October where I looked through the whole main series history with a lot of other bloggers. In case you missed the hub article, you can find it here.

I can only confirm that this game is worthy of winning all those awards at the gaming awards this year. It’s one of the best open-world games made so far and I think we will see a lot of influences from this game gets its way into other games. If you haven’t played Breath Of The Wild, play it. But be aware that it will change your view on various open-world games forever.

Goodbye, 2017!

This year has been so special to me. I have experienced a lot of different things. I played one of the lead roles in my theater group, made a lot of new blogger friends, my blog grew an awful lot and already made a lot of plans to make 2018 an amazing year to look forward too.

In terms of gaming, 2017 was a year of both nostalgia and modern games to me. I played a lot of new games and I love how people ask me about which games they should buy for their children at work. It gives such a great feeling to be able to spread the joy of playing games to others.

In 2018, you can expect more articles from me. Like I said in my update article for December 2017, I have a few plans for 2018 and I think you will enjoy them. But, thank you for reading my blog this past year. I had such an enjoyable ride and I am so thankful for all the chances I get to review indie developers their games. It was also flattering to see how one of my quotes made it on a Steam Store page.

Before I ramble on too much, I’m going to close off this article. If you want to talk to me about the past year, your favorite games of 2017 and things of that nature, feel free to leave a comment. Since I do read them all and reply to them all. Thank you so much 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 on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Project Zero – Maiden Of The Blackwater (Wii U) ~ Snap Those Ghosts

project zero.jpg

Official website

While I know that Halloween is over and that we are extremely close to another holiday, that is supposed to bring happiness and joy to people, that doesn’t stop me from talking about a scary game. I had heard a lot about this game and also a lot about the franchise, Fatal Frame. In fact, this is the 5th entry into the series. Thankfully, you don’t need to know about the previous games in this series to enjoy this game. When I saw in my local game store that I was able to pick up the collectors edition with everything in it for a cheap price, I don’t hesitate. I mean, I’m a game collector after all. In any case, I think it’s time to take a look at this game since this game did something with me. Do I regret buying this game or have I been enjoying it? Let me explain while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Scared-y cat

Project-Zero-V-2.jpg

So, I’m not that good with horror games. I get spooked too easily and generally, my play style doesn’t fit the more careful way of planning and strategizing that you need to survive in horror games.

Now, in recent memory, there were a few horror games that actually made me want to play horror games. First, there was this psychological horror game called 999: 9 Hours 9 People 9 Doors then there was this, somewhat over the top, horror visual novel adventure series called Corpse Party. Then I noticed something if I’m able to get invested in the story, I tend to enjoy myself. Also, I tend to enjoy Japanese horror games more than western horror games.

That’s what happened almost right away in Project Zero. The story is pretty well written and takes various twists and turns. Some I had seen coming, but the pacing and execution are great.

You play this game in chapters, called “drops” in this game where you visit a cursed Japanese mountain. You can play as a few different characters, but there are no big differences between them gameplay-wise. The difference is in the story.

In this game, you can choose between English and Japanese voice acting. I honestly tried both and I think they are both great. For my overall gameplay, I tend to choose the English voice acting since I enjoy looking at the cutscenes on my big TV and the subtitles are just a bit too small on there.

So far, I’m at the 5th drop and I have been enjoying the story. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has to throw at it. I also like how you can get some backstory with the various notes you find. While some people don’t enjoy reading huge walls of text, in this game there aren’t too many and they aren’t too long to read either.

Snap those ghosts

project zero 2

Something I really like in this game is that this game doesn’t have a limited amount of ways to defend yourself and still stay challenging.

In this game, you solve different cases related to the haunted mountain. While you can explore the mountain, most of the game is somewhat linear. You can do some exploration but not too much.

During your exploration, you can get attacked by different ghosts. Now, you can choose to avoid most of them, but others you will have to “kill”. This you can do by snapping various pictures of them. The better you get the ghost and it’s face into the frame, the more damage you do.

There is also a point system and these points can be crucial to your survival. The better pictures you take and the better combo’s you make, the more points you earn. You can use these points to not only upgrade your camera to do more damage and defeat the boss or the stronger ghosts more easily. You can also use your points to buy various healing and supportive items at the start of a chapter. So, if you need more healing items or supportive items AND you want to upgrade your camera, you better make good pictures of the ghosts.

There is a “risk and reward” system here. If you let the ghost come close, you will get damaged, but you also do more damage. So, you really have to think wisely when you get in to combat.

While you are exploring the area, you can choose if you have your screen mirrored on the Wii U gamepad or if a map is shown. Something I really like during combat is how the game shows a more general view on the TV screen and a more zoomed in view if you look through the Wii U gamepad. You really get the feeling you are snapping pictures of those ghosts using the Wii U gamepad as a camera.

The camera is a game mechanic used to it’s fullest in the game. You will also need to use it to bring items from the ghost world to ours. There are a few other mechanics too, but I leave those for you to discover if you decide to play this game.

Shivers

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The visual presentation of this game is extremely well done. The game looks amazing on the Wii U. The game really drew me in with its visuals and animations.

While I have seen some clipping in the animations, when it comes to humans picking up objects, there are a few moments where I thought the game could use just a bit more visual polish. Especially the animation of the hair I found lacking. Almost everything on the body is well animated, even down to a shaking hand to simulate shivers in the characters when they are picking up objects. But, the hair mostly stays static, as blobs to the head of the characters.

Also, there are some invisible walls in this game. While I understand that there are some invisible walls to avoid players running off cliffs, sometimes they are used in places I think they weren’t needed. For example, there was one place where you had a room with an altar and a pool in front of it. You were unable to go to the altar since in the middle of the pool, there was an invisible wall.

Those are the only complaints that I have when it comes to the visual presentation of this game. And most of them, don’t really bother me that much. I really think they did a great job when it comes to the visual presentation. It even creeped me out sometimes.

Besides the visual design, the sound design does a lot to creep you out too. In most cases, when a spook happens, some loud noise or sound effect plays. That’s not always the case in this game. This game can play tricks on you with moving dolls or just putting silent ghosts just right around the corner.

The sound design also helps out in the cutscenes and regular gameplay. You get additional sound effects playing through the speakers of the gamepad, making some situations even more creepy.

Overall, I think it’s quite clear with all the praise I’m giving the game, that I’m enjoying this game. But, there is one thing that I think really brings this game down. Sometimes, the controls in combat aren’t as smooth as they are supposed to be.

I had times where my gamepad lagged behind what was happening on the screen or the other way around. Also, the gamepad didn’t always follow my movements when I went from side to side. This caused some damage that could have been avoided. While I write it off as my character packing and being flustered, I can see some gamers being frustrated at this and stop playing the game altogether.

The game has two difficulty levels. You can play this game on easy and on normal. Maybe, you unlock a higher difficulty when you beat this game, but I haven’t done that yet.  In addition to that, I assume that you unlock the costumes also at the end of the game. Since I’m at the 5th drop and not one costume unlocked. Maybe, I’m overlooking something here.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I left out in this review since I think it would be more fun for you to discover while you are playing the game for yourself. This game is totally worth playing if you enjoy adventure games and games with a good story. But beware, for spooky moments.

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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

 

First Impression: Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC) ~ Rip-off With A Twist

Giana-Sisters-reviewOfficial website

Sadly enough, my week off is nearly at an end. I enjoyed my time off quite a lot. But at the other hand, I did some work for my personal life. The consequence of that is that I could barely play games… But hey, I will have more time in the (near) future to write articles again. I also promised to write two articles this week. Perhaps three even. In any case, before I’m going to take a look to this title, first some small history lesson. This game is a spiritual successor to the original Giana Sisters. Why is it not the real sequel? Well, it’s more of a reboot of a controversial series. The original PC game was a Mario rip-off. It was called the Great Giana Sisters. I linked to a Wikipedia article that explains the gist of the history behind this game. When I saw this game on Steam (a while ago), I was impressed. I thought it would be a sort of HD remake. But it’s far from that. This is a reboot with new gameplay ideas, story and it’s own personality while not loosing the charm of the original. But what did I think of it…? Let’s find out, time to write a first impression after playing the first few levels. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Kickstarter

2015-10-11_00002Like a more famous game called Shovel Knight, this game started out on KickStarter too. From what I read, this game was actually a re-imaging of a remake that was made of the original Giana Sisters. Which makes this even more interesting, since the remake was released on my favorite platform of all time: Nintendo DS.

When I found this game on Steam, I was quite interested since it was different from what I played on the DS. In the DS game, it was more a sort of hard Mario-ish game with sisters instead of brothers.

The atmosphere was something else, the story was kind of basic… well, it was so similar to your typical Mario story it kinda hurts. But in my opinion, platformers like these have no real need of a story or can be excused when the story is rather at the generic side. Yet, the story in this game threw me off the hook. Like in the original, the story is barely explained. You had to make it out from the scenery and from the introduction cutscene. This left a lot open for the imagination of the player. How they did it, probably just good game design, the developers of this PC game made it work in Twisted Dreams.

The big twist here is that you can play as both sisters without having to depend on a power-up. In the original game, you had to find a candy hidden in a block (like a mushroom in Mario.) to change into the other sister that could shoot fireballs. Well, in this game, with a simple tap of the button… You change into the other sister.

Changing

2015-10-11_00001Changing in the other sister changes up the gameplay quite a lot. Not only the visuals change from bright & happy to dark & gloomy… The music changes and the whole atmosphere. I got the urge to try to look for a deeper meaning. If a game can pull this off, that means it’s drawing you in. Which is a damn good thing. I usually get easily bored of platformers. But when there is an interesting mechanic involved, well… That gets my attention.

Yet, there is a major flaw with this game and the are the keyboard controls. It might be a lot better on an usual QWERTY keyboard, but on an AZERTY keyboard it bugs out. The following issues I have with the keyboard controls:

  • The up arrow is JUMP. (Which is a crime in itself.)
  • The “W” key is to swirl around. On my keyboard that’s the “Z” key… Why display the “W” and confuse me?
  • A very handy feature to switch from sister to sister is missing from the keyboard controls. (It are the trigger buttons on a controller.)
  • The game showed the wrong buttons often. And what I mean here is that the tutorial showed how you can control the game with a controller…. While I was playing with a keyboard.

At first I thought, you weren’t able to change the controls. But it appears you can. You can change them from the splash screen. Kind of hidden, but okay… I might have gone off on a ramble there. In short, this game is best played with a controller.

The other stuff


2015-10-10_00001This game has two styles. This is a very interesting concept. From the games I have played, I haven’t seen many games do this. First let’s start with the visuals. This game looks very nice in my opinion. Both the colorful and dark side. It gives each sister their own personality. While I would have switched the styles around for the sisters… It works real well.

The level design is brutal in some areas. This gives the player a nice challenge. The developers where kind enough to not work with a life system but with a death counter. The amount of times you died, counts to your final score on that level.

Gameplay wise, this game is a platformer where you switch between two sisters. Each sister has her own abilities and uses. Sometimes you need to switch between the sisters to solve interesting puzzles.

This game has also a mindblowing soundtrack. It’s something I would seriously listen to from time to time. It’s catchy and melodic. I love how one song can sound so good in two different tones. (Like I said earlier, the music also changes when you switch between sisters.)

I would like to say a bit more about this game, but I’ll leave that up for the review. What I personally think of this game right now is that it’s an amazing game and that I can’t wait what they do for the sequel. But I truly hope that they don’t mess up the controls. If you like a platformer with some good challenge and an interesting switching mechanic, this game is right up you alley. I just hope that only AZERTY keyboards got this many issues with the controls… If I’m wrong, play this game with a controller, just to be on the safe side. Oh, and I reported the controls issues to the devs on the Steam forums. Who knows, maybe it’s fixed in a patch rendering my issues with the controls something of the past.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this first impression here. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you and another artilce. Also have an amazing rest of your day and game on~!