NekoJonez’s August 2021 Update

It’s almost that time of year again, the start of the school year here in Belgium. This year, I start my 3rd year as an IT-admin in the school I work for. So, that also means that my summer break is over, and I restarted working again. Also, I’m quite surprised that my latest update article was from December 2020. I mean, it’s quite usual that there are sometimes big gaps between these articles when not a lot of interesting things happen to collect together in an update… But hey, that’s totally besides the point. Let’s start talking about what’s happening in my life and what’s going on for my blog. And before I start, I want to invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your thoughts and/or opinions in the comment section down below.

Fewer articles and more gaps

When you look at the numbers of amount of published articles, you’ll notice that since March of this year… I have been skipping more and more weeks. Apart from April, I have been able to write and publish 2-3 articles each month. While I see a decrease in traffic to my blog because of that, I honestly don’t mind that much. I still reach similar numbers in the end. Now, I know that numbers shouldn’t matter since writing this blog is still a hobby. I know that fact all too well, yet… somehow, I feel proud when I see the numbers raise. But, that’s something we all like, seeing numbers raise. It’s a physiological thing.

So, why are there so many gaps in the publishing of articles? Well, it’s because I have written about so many games that I’m as good as through my backlog. I still have several games on my backlog to write about, but most of them should be replayed for at least a little while, since it has been such a long time since I played them for the first time. Before I write an article about a game, I want to have at least played 5-ish hours of that game, unless it’s a game quicky or a small indie game (that’s shorter than 5 hours). And here are the reasons I’m having trouble with that.

First, due to the COVID pandemic and private matters… My day job is extremely busy. I love doing my day job, but it’s extremely draining. So, at the end of the day, I sometimes don’t have the energy left to play games, or I just want to play a game to relax and not having to take notes or prepare an article about it. So, that means I have been playing games I have reviewed before and finishing them and, yes, even replaying some of them.

Secondly, I’m trying to improve my writing style. After writing for about 10 years in a similar writing style, I want to challenge myself to write more in-depth articles with more research and more cohesion. So, I’m putting a lot more time into each article, and it shows. I’m prouder of each article that I publish, and I feel that I’m improving quite a lot.

Thirdly, due to the general business of my personal life and the work for my school… I don’t always have the energy to write. I also want to recover in the weekend or work on my huge to-do list. Furthermore, I’m writing a lot for other things I’ll talk about more later… and that also has consequences. That means I burn myself out of writing sometimes. And I find that sometimes taking a break is better for me. That way I can still publish an interesting and well written article instead of a half-baked article. I like “better quality over more quantity”. So yeah.

And finally, here in Belgium, the COVID restrictions are slowly but surely lifting. Especially for vaccinated people (like myself)! So, that means I can start doing things in my local acting group again and go to see theater performances and movies in the cinema. Man, I have missed that so hard. You know those things you do, to reward yourself after doing a good job? Well, that was theater and cinema for me. Of course, blogging/writing about games has the same effect for me, but variety is the spice of life.

So, what does that mean? Shall you see less articles on my blog? Bluntly said, yes. I might not write weekly articles for a while anymore. I decided that it’s a goal I would love to reach, but I’m not going to force myself to write 4 articles each month. Not only that, but I’m going to try to write at least 1-2 articles/month. And if that’s not possible, I’ll talk about that on my twitter.

Outside of blogging

So, what’s going on in my personal life outside of writing for this blog? Well, quite a lot, actually. I have been expanding my hobbies and skill set. The first hobby I want to talk about is something that’s related to gaming, actually. I started speedrunning Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. You can find my runs at my Speedrun.com profile. At first, I wanted to beat the PC times, but those are not only extremely optimized already, I’m unable to do the perfect movement.

That’s why I started to focus on the GBC version. While I’m keeping an eye on the PC version, I’m mainly focused on the GBC version. Not too long ago, I have beaten my ANY% GBC full game run I did live that one time. Whenever I feel like it, I have been grinding this run out since that 1h 40 m 08s, I’m certain it can go lower. In a matter of fact, I have found several small skips and improvements that is going to save at least 10-ish minutes all together. But, I’m planning to write an article about the strategies and such involved in the full game run in the future… So, keep an eye out for that.

Besides speedrunning, I’m also creating a new website for my local acting group. Currently, it’s behind closed doors, but I’m spending quite a lot of time on that site. I’m also working on a lot of technical stuff for my acting group to improve work flow and such. It’s something different and a fun challenge for sure. I love the stuff I’m learning since I’m able to use it for the website I maintain for my school and visa versa.

Speaking about the school I work for, I have two updates about that. The first update is that I have a fixed contract. Now, here in Belgium, it works somewhat different in schools. The contract I currently have is if the school has to shut down for what ever reason, a school from the district has to give me a job. In other words, I’m quite certain that I’m going to have a job for the foreseeable future. 🙂 And not only that, it’s in my dream job as an IT admin in a big school. I couldn’t wish for more.

The second update is that the school I work for is growing in amount of students. Currently, we have around 700 students, compared to roughly 600 students at the start of the previous year. This is quite mind-blowing for an art school, and that’s the biggest reason my day job is so busy. I’m so happy that the school I work for is growing so much since that means our school is quite healthy.

So, outside of having a busy day job, writing a gaming blog (semi-)weekly, doing things for my acting group, speeding running games… I’m also active in the development of WordPress. Now, I’m not a coder, so I’m helping that much in the actual development of WordPress outside of testing and reporting bugs… I’m more active in the translation department. I’m a translation editor for all the WordPress plugins & themes on WordPress.org for the locale’s nl_NL(-formal) and nl_BE, which means all forms of Dutch basically. If you want to take a look at my work, you can see it on my profile. And if I contribute to a plugin/extension, it’s mostly issues with strings which make things less easy for translation. You can see most of my contributions on my GitHub profile.

That means, that I do a lot of things in my free time outside of spending time with my family. While it might sound overwhelming and a lot to keep up with, honestly, I enjoy it. I’m expanding my skill set and learning quite a lot. And not only that, I’m giving something back to the community.

What’s next?

Now, you might think that I want to spend less time writing. Because I have so many other hobbies or things I do outside of writing. And, that’s not true. I found that spending time on other things like speedrunning, translations, working on websites… It actually helps me to not burn out on writing. Like I said earlier in this article, variety is the spice of life.

I do have a collab in the works with a good blogging friend of mine, but I’m unable to make a lot of progress due to the busy times at my day job. Thankfully, after next week, it’s going to become a lot less busy, so I can focus on a lot of other things and maybe write more.

I’m also playing around with a few major updates on my blog, but I think most of them are going to have to wait until I have another vacation. Since it’s going to help me in keeping certain things up-to-date here on my blog. And yes, I’m also removing typo’s and such from older articles. If you notice one, feel free to give me a shout, and I’ll try to fix it as soon as I can.

So, what’s the summary of this update? I’m going to try to at least write 2 articles each month, and 4 if I can. I also started speedrunning, getting more involved with the development of WordPress and doing things for my local acting group. On top of that, my day job is extremely busy… eating up a lot of my time. And I don’t want to have it any other way. Mentally, I’m doing a lot better and that’s what counts in the end, in my opinion… If you are happy with your life, than all is well.

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!

First Impression: Minecraft Story Mode (Android) ~ Tappin’ That Adventure, yo!

Minecraft_Story_Mode_Logo.pngOfficial website

Back in 2015, when I was at Minecon, I saw the trailer for Minecraft Story Mode. I actually attended the panel as well. And truth to be told, the game didn’t interest me at all. Which is really strange since I enjoy adventure games a whole lot, but this game didn’t grab my interest enough for me to put it onto my “to play” list. But in November 2016, I bought this game in a sale on the Android store. And now, I have to explain why it made it on the list of best games I played in 2016 as an honorable mention… So, let’s dive right into my first impressions of this game. When writing this article, I’m halfway into episode 4. There are 8 in total. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

This isn’t Minecraft!

Minecraft-Story-Mode-9-840x525.pngFor those wondering, I’m playing this game on my Asus ZenPad 8S. So, yeah. In any case, let’s talk about the story as spoiler free as possible.

At the start of the game, you get to choose how your character looks and the gender. Right after that, you are thrown into the game. In this game, you go to a building competition to decide who goes to EnderCon. But, it doesn’t take long before something horrible happens. A monster gets loose that tries to destroy the world.

Before I take a better look at the story, I have to say, that I find it sad that people bash the story and the game because “it isn’t Minecraft”.  Minecraft is a sandbox game, a game where you have full control of the situation. But that’s a rant for another time.

This story is made more interesting thanks to the subplots that are going on. Since for most of the story that big monster “takes a backseat”. The whole story is written pretty well in my opinion. I enjoy how the dynamic works between all the characters. And how each action you take, changes the dialogue of the game. And something I truly like is that at certain points, the story branches off. Like you could choose between two heroes you could save, and your start of the next episode would be totally different. But that’s to be expected with a TellTale game.

Something that makes the writing even more interesting to me is that the developers made an interesting attempt into trying to implement all the subcultures of Minecraft into one story. The Redstoners, YouTubers, Builders, Adventures… they are all present in some way in the game.

About the story, there is one thing that I think would improve the game, in my opinion, is a sort of skip button or speed up button. I think that would be a great option for people who are playing through an episode again.

Sit through this game

Minecraft-Story-Mode-51-840x525.pngSomething I saw other people be disappointed with is the fact that this game has way less gameplay than Minecraft. But, that isn’t a bad thing in my eyes. That isn’t the main focus of this game. The main focus of this game is to tell a story using the Minecraft setting and lore.

The gameplay is your typical adventure genre gameplay. It’s very close to point and click gameplay. So, the first gameplay element is the dialogues. You can choose between 5 dialogue options to react to a certain situation. The 5th option is pure silence. That isn’t available in every dialogue, but hey, it’s there. The only nitpick complaint I have with this is that in some cases, that time runs out way too quickly. By the time I have read the options, the time is nearly up and then I still have to decide which reply to go with. Thank you for the pause button at least!

The second element of gameplay is the exploration. I have to admit, I would have loved a bit more exploration in the game. The exploration parts are way to easy in my opinion. Yet, I can forgive the game for that, because you can beat various situations in different ways. This gives the game more replay value. You also solve puzzles in this game and so far, no puzzle has really stumped me. Maybe in the later episodes, I have some harder puzzles, but so far, I haven’t gotten stuck at all.

And the third gameplay element is the quick time events. Oh dear lord, the quick time events. I have nothing more to say that they are sometimes pretty annoying to play.

So, the final gameplay element is the combat. And I have to say, this isn’t great on Android. The combat is slow and when you miss an attack, you can’t attack again before the animation is finished. I don’t enjoy the combat sections very much.

The rest of the package.

Ep3-2.jpg

Now, let’s talk about the other parts of the game. First of all, the music and sound design. The music is good, but this soundtrack isn’t one I would listen to outside the game. It loses its charm without some visuals.

The sound design is pretty well done. Because most of the sounds are from the great sound design by C418 for Minecraft. So, no complaints there. Also, the sound packs way more punch when you play this game with a headset.

The voice acting in this game is pretty good. I have played this game once while I was on the train and I forgot my headset, and I truly missed the voices. Yeah, they are that good in my opinion.

Visually, this game is pretty good but not perfect. Maybe it has to do with my tablet, but sometimes things didn’t render for me. I remember one scene pretty well.The gang was feeling on horseback, and the horse for the main character didn’t render always. So, the main character was floating away. Apart from the very few creative liberties the designers took, the game looks like an adventure map built in Minecraft. And I have to applaud the designers for that!

The atmosphere and visual presentation of the different areas you visit are pretty great. There isn’t a place I would change or adjust.

So, I have to praise the controls for the most part in this game. I was afraid that this game would control pretty poorly on Android, but I was surprised. This game controls pretty great on my tablet. The only problems I had with the controls were during the quick time sections, but thankfully, I was able to redo those sections and not make my mistakes.

Oh, before I forget, there is something truly annoying in this game. The download speed for the episodes is just way too slow. At first, I thought it had to do with the download speed of my tablet, but no. I have tested it with various speed tests and downloading large files from the internet. It has to do with this game, I’m sure of it.

I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I have left for the review, but nothing that special. In any case, it’s time to wrap up this article up.

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!

NekoJonez: Nintendo MiiPlaza v3.0: What I want to see.

mii-plaza-video-thumb.jpgOh wow, it has been a long time since this Neko created an article for this blog first instead of the other way around. Well, I hope that might improve my fanbase… Jonez, what were you thinking? The idea of this joke in the introduction how it’s good but not good enough and then compare it to StreetPass MiiPlaza isn’t going to work this way. Yeah, let’s just explain to the people that I wanted to write an article about the changes I want to see if they ever would make a major update to StreetPass MiiPlaza. And as tradition, invite them to leave a comment with their thoughts on what they think about the article or what they want to see changed. 

StreetPass, itself.

Account system?

If this was possible, that would be mindblowing. Just think about it, there are a bunch of families where the 3DS is owned by more then one child. They have to share their 3DS with their brother or sister. And then different accounts for them they could switch between would be an amazing feature.

Granted, it would be a pain to integrate. This might even mean that the whole 3DS system would need a major rewrite where every account will need a ton of set-up. That would be a major downside of the feature. I’m going to think out loud here and there in this article so, see this article as a sort brainstorm I did and one I’m expanding while writing this article.

Better menu’s.

This is one they should DO without thinking actually. Some menu’s of the MiiPlaza are just bad. Let’s start with the music menu. You should be able to easily access the menu by mini-game. Not having them all dumped into one list under each other. Good luck finding your song then.

reiner11.jpgFor the hats menu, you should be able to search them. Or at least, put them by category. Sometimes looking for a hat is such a pain and it takes too much time to find one back.

Also, I think this is a valid remark but Nintendo, tell me why the firmwire updates are protected with the pin code and the update to MiiPlaza isn’t? Isn’t that a big gap in the consistency of your firmwire?

Please improve the menu’s Nintendo, they are working on my nerves, big time. My biggest frustration is how you can barely sort the Mii’s on your plaza itself. And if you can, that feature is quite hidden.

Since I have a game or two that drops the Mii’s of the people who helped me in game onto the Plaza. And I wish I could be able to sort of those who are from that game and who I actually saw or past in real life. And it would be such a blessing if those people didn’t count towards the achievements. Yeah, thanks to Bravely Default I have now the achievement that I have more then 100 Mii’s on my Plaza. Great…

Music

This will be a short one but to my honest opinion, I like the idea that the music changes when you have a certain number in your Plaza. Although, why isn’t it possible yet to change the music of the main plaza back to a previous version or the music you unlocked in the jukebox?

That would be amazing. Maybe a possibility to have the music that is on the SD card? Yeah, why not? Since hearing that same music over and over again might get a bit tiresome. On the other hand, it’s the OST to the game, so it might get lost and that’s no big fun to the creator of the music. So scrap the SD idea, and introduce the other idea about selecting the music of the jukebox.

And dear Nintendo, please finally learn that music isn’t a sound to indicate that you lost or won a level. A song has a duration of at least a minute. Please put the sound effects in a separate place. Turn the jukebox in a soundtest, why the heck not? To give some nostalgia-gasms to the retro gamers under us.

Misc stuff

So, in between writing and publishing this article, I put a bit more thought in what I wrote. When I was playing, I had another idea. Why can’t the exchange booth be updated? I mean here that the 4 featured hats change daily. But what if you could lock a hat for some time? When you truly want to have a hat.

Also, maybe expand the selection? And make a selection that is always there. But the 4 changing daily should have a price like 1 additional play coin or something.

Also, when you have played all mini-games with the Mii’s you met, why are they still following you for a while? If you go to your plaza, they should stop following you.

Another idea is that you can check the (past) greetings of a character. I met somebody at my college and we had to find each other by other means on Facebook. That was a true annoyance.

Also, maybe some sort of leader board for the general MiiPlaza high scores could be awesome. I understand that you can see the people you passed by are in that list, but wouldn’t it be more awesome to compare your results with those around the world?

And please Nintendo, add a way to see the progress of those on your friend list. A game that could really benefit from this is StreetPass Garden.

The games

Puzzles

cgvtgpew4aeksttThe puzzles are already a great start. It was the main reason why I took my 3DS outside. And here are my idea’s to improve the Puzzle Swap concept.

First of all, it could be amazing to kind of bookmark people. When they have pieces of a puzzle you want, you could ask those people to bring their 3DS to class or to the playground daily and that way you could easily complete a puzzle.

Maybe give us a way to get more puzzle pieces from a person at once when you pay some play coins for it. I mean, you use them to get puzzle pieces from the amazing cats~

StreetPass Quest

maxresdefault.jpgDid you know, that if you beat StreetPass Quest twice, you unlock StreetPass Quest 2? That’s an amazing surprise.

And to be honest, the complaints I had with StreetPass Quest are implemented in StreetPass Quest 2.

So, honestly, I have no complaints here. Surprising not? One idea is that you have some sort of “log” where you can check which color does which magic. Could save you some time by looking it up online.

The DLC Games

Oh yes, I’m calling them the DLC games. And yes, I actually bought them without looking at any screenshots or video’s. I just wanted the complete experience of the MiiPlaza. I’m like that. When I see on Steam that there is a more expensive version with more features, I ALWAYS buy the more expensive version. I want to have everything the developer publishes.

So, since not everybody got those additional games, I’m also going to give a short explanation of the game. So, YEAH! More content of the NekoJonez.

StreetPass Squad

image.jpgEver thought to yourself, this StreetPass Quest is great but what if I could play a shooter with my friends? One, thanks for playing on the 3DS, since most gamers answer that question with a (generic) mainstream shooter that they can play on their computers.

And second, that’s this game basically. And I truly enjoy how the color of the Mii changes the weapon that they have. Each Mii you meet is a pod at your ship. You have four spots where you can place a Mii. 3 in front and one in the back. The other Mii’s you can place behind the Mii’s to upgrade their weapon.

What’s awesome is that you can rotate the ships so that your projectiles shoot in different directions. Also, this game has so different modes. From protecting crystals to horizontal and vertical shooting. With bosses at the end of every stage. This game is rather fun to play.

My first remark is simple. Why can’t you keep playing the game when the pods are still in tact? Isn’t that a bit silly? When beating a level, you see which pods are still in tact. Maybe I have to beat the game once for unlocking that but that is lame honestly.

But what’s awesome in this game is that you can see the scores of the people you passed by. And you can see their profile. Sweet going there. Also, the more missions you beat, the more titles you can give yourself at your profile.

The other remark I have with this game is that you should add the name of the stages in the ranking. That’s my remark short and sweet.

And my final remark is that they should add a sort of syncing. When somebody that you passed has beaten his or her high score, it should update your list with the touch of a button instead of having to pass by them again.

StreetPass Garden

Yes, StreetPass Garden is exactly what it sounds, you have a garden that you can show (off) at your friends. Each Mii that visits your garden waters your plant once. When it’s fully grown, the seeds of your plant and your guest’s plant mix. This way you can gather more plants.

It sounds boring at first, while that isn’t true at all. This game is actually playable when you haven’t any hits on MiiPlaza. You don’t get the message: “Pass by people to play this game” BS. And this game has the most depth of them all. You can visit shops, expand and decorate your garden quite a bit.

And my remarks for this game are mentioned earlier. Most of them. One major remark is how you can only check out people their garden once they visit you. You should be able to visit their garden as soon as they once visited yours. And with syncing. That could be awesome.

StreetPass Battle

Want to conquer the world with your friends? Well, that’s possible in this game! Which is an amazing concept. And it truly is amazing.

This game is actually pretty tactical. You have to win battles. While they don’t have a lot of depth, it’s quite easily to loose yourself in them. Since some battles have some special rules that make each battle feel different then the one before.

It’s based on the rock-paper-scissors style of battles. So, nothing truly special, but for a StreetPass game, it’s pretty good.

My complaints are, well… big. One complaint is how there is almost no difference in the amount of soldiers the people you meet different times bring in then how many soldiers a Mii brings in you met for the first time. That shouldn’t be the case!

Also, some battles require you to meet many people, since the amount of soldiers your enemies has are sometimes nearly doubled. A bit lazy in my opinion.

Another problem I have with the game is how you can’t give soldiers to others. When you meet a monarch from afar, you can battle them. Which is great, but isn’t perfect. If you could have an option that they get 50 soldiers when they meet you, then it would be perfect!

StreetPass Mansion

And this is your RPG-ish adventure game. In this game, you explore a haunted mansion for ghosts and treasures. Each Mii you meet, have a puzzle piece that you can place on the board. Your goal is to find the stairs in the room.

When you add a green piece to green pieces that are already laying down, then a chest or crystal appears in that room.

This is also a game where you can die. I mean here that there is no win/lose thingy. You actually have a health bar.

My major problem with this game is that when you hire investigators… The animation takes so long! It’s the longest of all the games and pressing “R” barely speeds the process up like in the other games.

This game feels a bit half finished. The game feels like it misses some great features like a list of all enemies and better inventory management. For real, this game has one of the worst inventory systems I have seen. It’s just clunky to use and destroys the fun of the game quite a bit.

And the worst part is that it’s possible that somebody has a part you can’t use in the room. Oh yes, then you’re pretty screwed. A hit just went lost.

In addition, you have to place your pieces where your character can go to. In a way, I understand why they programmed it like that, but I truly feel like it’s a missed opportunity. You could have build up so many possible combo’s.  Anyways, it’s the game I put least of time into. Since it feels a bit broken to me. Or that might just be my opinion.

Closing words.

So, I’m finally done with writing this long article. On my twitter I said that this article is around 2500 words, double from my normal article length. First I thought of splitting this article into two. And publish one piece here and the other on my personal blog. After some thought, I decided to leave the article in one piece.

Thanks for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed this article. Take it as my way to apologize of reblogging my articles here. This is one of the articles I started writing here. And when I started writing, I kept writing. I started writing this article in my college breaks and finished it on a Tuesday night just before going to bed.

So, I’m rather  curious what you guys think about my idea’s. And what idea’s you have for Nintendo to improve Mii Plaza. While the chances are extremely small that Nintendo is going to implement these changes, you never know. Maybe one day they might show up in the Mii Plaza. Or they might create some more new amazing content for us to explore. Anyways, this Neko is tired and still has some publishing work to do for this article. I hope to see you another time!