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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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First Impression: Silicon Dreams (PC – Itch.io) ~ Humans, how do they work?

headerI promised that this article was coming. Back when I published the press kit of this game, I said that I was going to write an article talking about my opinion on the game. This game is being developed by two people who created a very interesting game already in the past called Spinnortality. Now, what is this game about? If robots sleep, do they dream of electric sheep. … I’m sorry, I just wanted to use that phrase at least once in my article about robots and AI. In a way, you are the AI of a robot that is interviewing humans. But, is it any good? Well, let’s find out by taking a look at the pre-release demo that you can find on Itch.io. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

Humans, how do they work?

zPkd5MWhen you start up this game, you get greeted with an invitation to subscribe to the newsletter of Clockwork Bird, the developers of this game. Honestly, I think it’s worth it since their game concepts are quite interesting. Spinnortality was a game about building a company that could conquer the world while trying to get yourself immortal. And with this second game, I feel that there is a lot of depth to the game.

In addition to that, I like the attention to detail that this prototype demo has. I mean, it has a nice menu screen and it even has an icon instead of the default icon that some prototype games have that are made in Unity or Unreal Engine.

The menu screen is very interesting, instead of your typical list of options you get in almost every game, you get a radar type of deal where you can click on the menu options to get started. The only nitpick I have is that in this prototype, the animation of selecting a menu item plays after you selected it. So, the animation can point to an empty thing in the next menu. I think it would have been cooler if the animation played while selecting an item in the menu.

After you picked the robot you wanted to start with, you get the basic premise of this game. You are D-0527, and your goal is to try and find out what’s wrong with other Androids that are created by Kronos Robotics.

In order for you to play this game, you only need your mouse. You can interact with three things in this demo. That is, the tablet, the TV screen and the printer. The TV screen starts the actual interrogation of the broken Android. The printer is a log of the things that were already being said and the tablet is the way you select and ask your questions. The yellow text is clickable and brings you to the questions.

Now, how does one find the errors and glitches in the Androids? Well, during the interrogation, you notice that in the middle of the screen, you have a whole range of emotions. Some questions can provoke the Android and have a certain emotional response. It’s up to you to find and ask the right questions to get to the right conclusion. So, you would make a mistake if you clicked through everything since you will have to answer certain questions correctly or you might not be allowed to continue further.

This game gets even more tricky. You can’t see the log of the interrogation during a dialogue. So, yes. For this game, I even got out a pen and paper to take some minor notes. While the log is useful, it becomes one wall of text rather quickly and without a search feature, this can get quite tricky to keep track of all the information. And I’m glad that there isn’t a search feature, since this makes the game that more challenging and rewarding for when you pay attention.

The end goal of each interrogation is to fill in a report. The report asks some questions that Kronos Robotics has about the Android. Now, it’s your job to ask the right personal and general questions to get the information you need. But do keep in mind that you only ask each question once apart from some exceptions. So, be very careful on the questions you ask.

So, that’s the gameplay in this game. And I have to admit, that I have fallen in love with this game. Frequent readers of my blog know that I enjoy games like Ace Attorney and Zero Escape. Two game franchises that just play with your expectations and emotions. And this game has the potential to do the exact same thing, and I simply can’t wait to sink my teeth into the full version.

Let’s give some feedback

LrAvIqWhile I know that this game is still under development and that I most likely played a very early version of the game, I do have some things I would advise to the developers for the full version of the game. Do keep in mind that if you are reading this article in the future when a newer version or even the full version has been released, that some or all of these things might be invalid points of feedback.

First of all, I wouldn’t change anything about the audiovisual design. The atmosphere of the interrogation room is excellent and the animations that are in the game like raising the tablet and report are great.

The music is tense and reminds me a lot of games like Ace Attorney, Zero Escape and Corpse Party. It made me feel tense and I liked it. Since it added a ton to the atmosphere. Now, I do think that this game lacks some sound effects. I think that the game would come a bit more alive when with certain emotional reactions, some sound effect would play. For example, an angry response can have a growl or because they are Androids, a chainsaw starting up. Doesn’t that sound like an angry Android?

But, when I can nitpick about things, I have a few recommendations.

First of all, I find it quite strange that the text on the tablet is being typed out and the words of the Android are all right there in one fell swoop. I think it would have been better if the message of the Android is typed out as well.

Secondly, I think it would be great if in the dialogue box, there is some sort of icon that shows you that the message is done and there is a follow up message after it. Of course, that icon would be different if you reached the last part of that dialogue.

And finally, I would like to mention that the flashing when you hover over the yellow text is a bit too fast to my liking. But, know that I only noticed it when I rest my mouse over it for a longer period of time.

Of course this will be added in the full version of the game, but I just want to warn players who are planning to play the prototype demo that there is no way to save and load the game. Thankfully, the prototype demo is rather short and can be finished in give or take an hour or two.

And honestly, that’s all the major feedback I can give about the game so far. Now, if this game sound interesting to you, I think it would be a great idea to go over to the Itch.io page and try out the free prototype demo that’s available right on there.

With that, I have said everything about this game I wanted to say for now. Of course, when the full version gets released, I’ll write a follow-up review, but until then, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Community Award: Real Neat Blog Award from Frostilye

real-neat-blog

I have won an award with my blog. Well sort of. Remember the time you got those chain emails where people ask “send this to X amount of people to…”? In the blogging community, we gave this concept a unique spin. We have community/tag awards. The idea is that bloggers promote each other by passing an award. In March, I got tagged with the “Real Neat Blog Award” by Frostilyte (who also created the picture you see at the top of this post). Man, I’m always so thankful when other bloggers tag me in these kinds of posts since I find it amazing to see how we as bloggers stick together and help each other but also recognize each other. So, it’s time to follow the rules of this kind of posts where I thank the tagger, answer the questions and ask my own questions for the people I tag. Oh, also feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of the article and/or maybe your own answers on the questions if you want to. 

1) Have you ever been really excited about a game only to be disappointed by it?

I think the way I select the games I want to play actually helped me to avoid being really disappointed by a game. When I start a game, I’m always going in with an open mind and telling myself that it’s possible that the game isn’t going to be my cup of tea.

Of course, there are games that I’m extremely excited about and weren’t the best they could be. But, let’s be honest here, there is always something in a game that you find disappointing and it can range from a small or minor thing to something that affects the whole game.

For example, I really enjoyed The Legend of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds but I’m not that big of a fan of the art style. Yet, there are a lot of people who really liked the art style of that game.

Another example is Etrain Odyssey IV, the thing that I found disappointing is that there wasn’t any voice acting. Yes, no voice acting. Now here is the thing, usually, there is no voice acting in the franchise apart from 4 out of 10 games in the series. So yeah, it’s an extremely silly reason since I loved playing Etrain Odyssey on the DS and that game doesn’t have voice acting either.

Or, The Legend of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild. I was beyond excited about the game, but when I played it, I found that the game shifted a bit too much from the usual Zelda formula, but after a while, I really started to grow on me.

I could talk way more in-depth about this topic, and maybe I should in another article. But I think that I have to answer the question with “no, I haven’t or I can’t remember.” Since there are always aspects of the game I enjoy and aspects I’m not that fond of.

2) Is there any aspect of your life, big or small, that you’re not completely content with and that you frequently think about changing?

It’s a cheesy answer but I’m going to give it. Life is far from perfect and there will be always things you want to change.

I know that my English isn’t perfect and that I often write mistakes. It would be easy for me to hide behind the fact that English isn’t my native language. My native language is Dutch and I also know French and a small bit of German. But, I’m always content when people point out mistakes. It helps me improve my writing and my English skills.

I know that I tend to procrastinate a lot. Sometimes a bit too much. From small to big projects, for some reason, I love to do things at the last minute for some reason. There are moments in time that I don’t procrastinate that much, but that’s not always the case.

Then again, when I’m really honest with myself. I find that myself quite content with my life and where things are going. If I keep up the good work I’m currently doing, I think I will be able to realize my dreams.

3) Can you tell me a joke?

You know that I love to tell stories, so let me tell you an amusing story. I think I was around 10 years old and my family and I were on our yearly trip to the seaside. In the vacation park, we were staying at, there is a football field (I mean for playing soccer. Not for American Football.). Well, more like a farmers field since it was quite uneven and you were able to see puddles when had rained. Keep that in mind, the field is anything but even.

There was this guy, let’s call him Dave,  who always got angry when we were playing with a leather football since it was extremely dangerous. His reasoning, you were able to kick out a window with them. So, in the summer evening, there were a lot of kids and teenagers playing football.

Dave was playing tennis on the road next to the football field together with his brother. Everything went fine until one of the kids brought a leather ball. When Dave saw that leather ball, he got so pissed that he pointed at the ball with the tennis racket he was holding. But, his grip… oh man, his grip. I think you might see what’s coming next.

Dave swung his arm with the racket towards the leather ball and lost grip of the racket. The racket went off flying with some speed towards the football field. The metal side of the racket hit an uneven part of the football field and almost crashed into a window. And yes, it was the window of his front door.

Yes, that was extremely funny to see. I remember that moment extremely well. I wish I had a smartphone that day to record the whole event but back in those days, we all had those PDA-type phones. Those old-school Nokia’s. So, yeah. The moment will live on as a memory instead of a movie.

4) I recently read how evil a company directly correlates to how honest and heartfelt the company tries to appear in its advertising. Do you think there is any truth to this?

That’s an interesting question. But, I think there is an issue with the question. For starters, try to define “evil”. On top of that, find me one company that creates advertisements that present their brand or company in a negative way.

The statement/conclusion doesn’t sit well with me. I feel like I’m missing context. So, it could be that there is some truth to it, but it could also be that there isn’t any truth to it.

5) We all have post styles, or series that we create on our blogs. What is your favorite post style/series on your blog?

I try to use the same or a similar writing style on my works and posts. I just love talking about games and giving my opinion on it. Now, I’m quite proud of The Legend of Zelda – Bloggers Journey. It started off as a simple idea and now that this style of post happened for 3 different series: Mario, Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider; I’m just so happy to see what it has become.

The thing I love to see the most is the change in my writing style. I love to see how my writing style evolved over the years. I’m really interested to see how my writing style is going to be in a few years. Am I still going to explain why certain things or mechanics don’t work, pointing out flaws in games? Am I still going to talk about games? Only the future will give an answer to that question.

6) Light theme, or dark theme?

When I have the option to pick a theme, I prefer to fiddle around with the options to fit my personal needs. Now, my favorite color is gray/silver and the dark theme fits more to that. Apart from that, I feel that the dark theme feels easier on the eyes when looking to a screen for a long time. And since my job involves a lot of computers, I’m quite happy with the recent trend of adding dark modes everywhere.

7) What’s something you accomplished in the past several months that you’re really proud of?

The simple fact that I was able to find my dream job. I always dreamt of working in a school and helping teachers and students to have the best time possible. I also love to work with computers and technology. I’m part of the IT Staff in an art school and I love it.

I’m really proud of myself that I was able to land the job and that I’m able to work in my field of passion. Since it’s something that I adore doing, and to be honest, sometimes it doesn’t feel like work to me. My tasks include maintaining the website, fixing problems with the IT equipment, explaining how tech works to teachers…

Maintain a website, well just look at this blog. I already do it as a hobby, so yeah. Fixing problems with IT equipment is something that I already did on the side for friends and family. And explaining how tech works to teachers feels extremely rewarding when you see teachers being able to use the tech to improve their classes and make life easier for them and the students. Could you ask for more?

My questions

  1. If I start a new retrospective collab project like my Zelda and Tomb Raider project, which series should I pick and why?
  2. What’s the most difficult part of being a blogger according to you?
  3. With YouTube being so big, do you think that written articles still have a place in the current entertainment industry?
  4. Did games become easier or have we as gamers become more skilled?
  5. What are your favorite (gaming related) April Fool jokes?
  6. Which series/game would you love to see revived?
  7. Do you think there is still a place in the gaming market for handheld gaming or did the smartphone market take it over? Or are those two the same market?

And the people I tag:

Matt from NormalHappenings

Robert from AdventureRules

Kim from LaterLevels

Shelby from FalconGameReviews

All my mage buddies over at the WellRedMage

Omar from Pete’s Corner

KillerRobotics

And with that said, I have left out a ton of amazing video game bloggers. I highly recommend that you check out everybody linked here since they all write amazing things and have interesting viewpoints on the gaming world.

But, I also want to thank you all for reading. I’m always so happy when people read my articles and interact with them. It makes my day. I’m writing this blog as a hobby and being able to review games from indie developers and being recognized by other bloggers for the work I put in my blog is such a rewarding and great feeling. Thank you!

Thank you again 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!

 

Gaming Nostalgia: Mario & Luigi – Bowser Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey (3DS) ~ It’s inside me, Mario!

Wikipedia entryNintendo Microsite

Remember the Zelda project, Final Fantasy project, and the Tomb Raider project? Well, today a new project drops all about Mario! The mad man, The Well-Red Mage found over 100 bloggers to write about the Mario series in the style that I found several bloggers for talking about the Zelda series and the Tomb Raider series. In any case, of course, I’m a part of this collaboration of fine bloggers! Now, you can find the hub article where you can find links to all the other articles here: [LINK TO ZE HUB BABY!] And in this article I’ll talk about my adventures and thoughts of Mario & Luigi’s Inside Story + Browsers Jr.’s Journey. So, let’s go with this Mario RPG!

It’s a me, a remake!

This game tells the same story as the original Nintendo DS game released in late 2009. From what I can see, most of the changes in the game are focused on the graphics. While the original game has a more 2D look to it, the remake has a more 3D look to the visuals. You can see a great comparison in the video created by aWiibo where both versions are set side by side.

On top of that, this game has an additional story mode telling a story about Bowser Jr. This mode adds 7-ish hours of playtime if I compare the times on howlongtobeat.com. But, the game almost doubled in playtime for people who want to play the game to its full completion.

There is another writer taking a look at the DS version of this game, but I’m focusing on the remake of the game. While I haven’t finished the game for this article due to time constraints, I did some research to make this article interesting in another way.

Some random facts

So, did you know that this game is one of the final games released by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS? It wasn’t the last Nintendo published game on the 3DS however, that honor goes to another remake: Kirby’s Epic Yarn a bit later in March of 2019.

The title of this game in development was Mario & Luigi RPG 3!!!. Since it was the 3rd Mario & Luigi game. Before this game, we got Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on the Gameboy Advance and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time on the Nintendo DS. So the title makes a lot of sense since it’s the 3rd game in the series.

For some reason, Nintendo skipped over remaking Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and remade this game. Partners in Time is the only one of the three first games that didn’t get a remake on the 3DS.

Something that I found quite strange is that there are a lot of leftover sound effects from Yoshi’s Story and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time in the rom for the original DS version. This isn’t the case in the 3DS version.

This game got two updates. The first update fixed an issue where you could soft-lock yourself with Luigi. In the second patch, a sound issue was fixed in the Music menu under records.

According to the TCRF (The Cutting Room Floor), there are various test rooms left in the final version. You can read about them in more detail on the page of this game.

After releasing this game, the developer AlphaDream filed for bankruptcy protection. Which is a shame since we might not see a Mario & Luigi RPG on the Switch. Maybe Nintendo can get the IP to another developer?

My thoughts

So, apart from those interesting facts about the development of this game; let’s give my opinion on this game. I won’t give my full opinion on this game just yet since I haven’t finished the game and I’m planning to write a review about this game in the future anyway.

Now, the tricky thing is that I had almost finished the DS version. I was close to reaching the final area. But then disaster struck. I lost my save file and I felt a bit too discouraged to restart the whole game to get to the point I was at.

It’s a darn shame since the game is quite a lot of fun to play. If you have played the two previous games, you know what to expect here in terms of gameplay. It’s an RPG where you play as Mario & Luigi, where the A button controls Mario and the B button controls Luigi. This is also the case in the battle mechanics where you have to rhythmically time your button presses to do more effective attacks.

The annoying thing is that I’m anything but rhythmic. So some battles took longer for me since I wasn’t able to do all the attacks at full damage. I did improve the more I played the game, but I rarely got consistent.

Yet, I did enjoy the game for silly and unique storytelling. In this game, something strange happens with the toads. They swell up like a balloon getting the nickname “The Blorbs”. After some investigation, all the affected toads act a strange mushroom created by the mad scientist Fawful. So, Princess Peach orders Mario & Luigi to set out and try and find a solution. But, then Bowser tries to kidnap Princess Peach. When this fails, Fawful lets Bowser eat a vacuum mushroom and this sucks Mario, Luigi and various other characters from the mushroom kingdom inside Bowser. Mario & Luigi have to help Bowser to regain his strength in order to escape and find a cure for the Blorbs.

The multiple layers of the story are something I truly love. The writing is rather humorous and lightweight. There isn’t a lot of voice acting, but the voice clips that are used help a lot to understand which emotion is in that certain part of the dialogue.

Bowser Jr.’s story takes place during the events of the main game. So, the additional story is a bit of a side story. Currently, I’m playing through it and I’m going to keep my opinions and this quite interesting side story a secret.

Now, I much prefer the visual upgrade from the remake over the original. I have looked at various screenshots and video comparisons of the original game and the remake. I think that the remake’s visuals feel more alive and pop that much more. It makes the original look more like a sort of Saturday morning cartoon from a decade ago.

Anyways, I think I’m going to end off this short look back at Mario & Luigi’s Bowser Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey. That’s a mouthful. That said, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Wahoo! You are a Super Reader! But the adventure doesn’t stop here… There’s more of this project in another castle! This article is just one level in an entire Super Mario Multiverse, a galactic collaboration between writers around the world sharing a bit of our hearts and memories about our favorite Mario games. Visit the Center of the Multiverse to see more:

https://thewellredmage.com/2020/03/10/center-of-the-mario-multiverse/

Publishing: Trip the Ark Fantastic

Trip the Ark Fantastic – an immersive story-driven scientific adventure set in the Animal Kingdom on the verge of industrial and social revolution.

5 December 2019, Zagreb – Gamechuck has just released the first trailer for their upcoming role-playing adventure game Trip the Ark Fantastic, the first Croatian game co-funded by the European Union’s MEDIA sub-programme.

Trip the Ark Fantastic is planned for release in 2022 on PC/Mac/Linux and consoles, and until then Gamechuck is inviting all interested gamers to follow them via their newsletter, Discord channel, or other social media at arkfantastic.com.

SUMMARY

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Under our homes and under our hearths, civilization itself stands on a story. Words tied us all together, and they could unravel the world. 

Find it, Charles; uphold the Myth!”

Trip the Ark Fantastic will have:

  • A deep and immersive secondary world set in the Animal Kingdom on the verge of industrial and social revolution, content-rich and filled with intrigue, side-quests, and flavor at every step.
  • Completely original gameplay mechanics based on the scientific method: research, discuss, experiment, and finally publish arguments in the Animal Kingdom’s papers.
  • An exploration of how myths, science, and philosophy can influence society, and how monarchies, democracies, and anarchies view power, authority, and legitimacy of rule.
  • Gorgeous art including frame-by-frame animation and vibrant landscapes inspired by the golden age of animation, as well as music inspired by the works of R. Wagner
  • A gesamtkunstwerk approach in which the art, music, and gameplay all tie closely to the story of scientific discovery and the role of myths in different types of societies.
  • The entire development completely is done in open-source technologies, including Godot Engine, Krita, Ink, and MuseScore, among others.

STORY

Trip the Ark Fantastic is a story-driven role-playing adventure set in the Animal Kingdom on the verge of both industrial and social revolution. The story follows Charles, a hedgehog scholar on a mission by the lion king to save the monarchy, but his decisions could end up helping reformists or even to bring about anarchy.

The story revolves around an ancient myth that forms the basis of the Animal Kingdom’s caste system – the myth of the Ark Fantastic. As the myth goes, the ark was built by lions millennia ago to save all animals from a great flood. The king’s gambit is that, amidst whispers of reform and revolution, a reputable scholar such as Charles proving the existence of the mythical ark might sway animals toward a royalist stance, and thus uphold the monarchy.

Charles is accompanied by the king’s trusted advisor Philippe the Fox and the captain of the royal guard – Andre the Boar. Their task will lead them to the fringes of the Kingdom and beyond, in search of elusive truth.

GAMEPLAY

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The player progresses through the game by solving the Kingdom’s various problems and mysteries, but his method of solving them is a scientific one – he publishes compelling arguments in the Animal Kingdom’s scientific papers to prove his theories and disprove those of others. Only arguments with sound logic and solid evidence will have the power to sway public opinion and change the course of history. 

The evidence itself can be found by talking to the local denizens (after learning their language, such as squirrels), by using scientific equipment (a microscope, or a chemist kit), or, as a true scholar, by “standing on the shoulders of giants” and using evidence from the works of other scholars found in libraries across the Kingdom.

The player’s main challenge will be finding all the relevant evidence and then choosing the right conclusions, which are then published and reviewed by his peers, potentially resulting in a boost to his scholarly reputation.

Additionally, since Charles’ scientific conclusions can have large-scale consequences on the Animal Kingdom and the monarchy, in particular, there is a looming moral dilemma over whether the player should publish a certain argument or not.

THEMES AND INSPIRATIONS

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We draw inspiration for the game from modern fables of classic literature, such as Animal Farm or Watership Down, as well as deep story-driven games from the roleplaying and adventure game genres, and games with unique and experimental gameplay mechanics.

Our goal is to use the game to explore various types of society (monarchy, democracy, anarchy) and to tackle questions such as how the rule is legitimized, what role myths play in the shaping of society, and so on.

The animation is drawn frame-by-frame to be reminiscent of early animated classics, and the music takes cues from 19th-century romanticism with the use of leitmotifs inspired by Wagner and gesamtkunstwerk opera.

The game is developed using open-source software, such as the painting tool Krita and the Godot game engine. Gamechuck studio is also a sponsor to both Krita and Godot Engine and, in the case of Godot Engine, actively contributes to its development.

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CONTACT

Lucija Pilić – PR and Marketing

Press mail: press@game-chuck.com

Trip the Ark Fantastic web page: www.tripthearkfantastic.com

Gamechuck web page: www.game-chuck.com

Link to Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxxCXc1ade4

Press kit: http://tripthearkfantastic.com/presskit

Discord: https://game-chuck.com/discord

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tripthearkfantastic/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ark_fantastic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tripthearkfantastic/

About Gamechuck

Gamechuck is a Croatian game development company founded in 2017 and based in Zagreb. Gamechuck secured EUR 149,400 from European Union’s MEDIA sub-program Creative Europe for the development of the “Trip the Ark Fantastic,” thus becoming the first game development studio from Croatia that received funding from the EU. Gamechuck has also been nominated for the Best Game Idea at the AzPlay Bilbao, the Best Transmedia Project at the Filmteractive Warsaw and Best Game Idea at the Casual Connect London for its debut game “All You Can Eat,” while its second game “vApe Escape” was featured in the Humble Monthly Originals selection in November 2018.ark_fantastic_presskit_header-1024x204

Review: Blossom Tales – The Sleeping King (Switch) ~ Cloned To Perfection

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Publisher’s website

I’m quite certain that since the success of The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild, the next games in the Zelda series will be a more open world. But, 3D-Zelda games aren’t even my favorite games. My favorite Zelda titles are the Oracle games. So, when I was browsing YouTube and saw a video of this game, I grabbed my Switch and bought it without thinking twice. Now, thanks to the Switch, the developer of this game has been able to stay afloat. That’s quite impressive I must say. It raised the bar quite high for me, so I had high expectations. So, in the end, how is the game? Is it worth playing or not? Let’s find out. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the game and/or the article. 

Note: This game is also released on Steam. So, if you don’t own a Switch and you are interested in this game, you can play it on your PC. I haven’t played this game on PC so this review will be focused on the Switch version of the game.

Cloned to perfection

blossom-tales-2.jpgIn this game, you play as Lily. A character in a story that the grandfather of two grandchildren is listening too. I found it really charming that the heroine’s name is Lily since that’s also the name of the female grandchild. The boy is named Chrys.

At first, the grandfather wanted to tell the story of: “the brave elf boy who lived in a magical land called H-..” but the grandkids have heard that story a million times. So, that’s why the grandpa started to tell the above-mentioned story. During the story, the grandchildren don’t hesitate to intervene and give commentary, sometimes arguing between the two of them which enemy the heroine faced.

It also gives the game some minor replay value in some areas. Since you get the option to choose between which grandchild gets his or her wish when they are arguing about the enemy you are facing.

I’m not going to talk more about the story since it would spoil the excellent humor and charm of the writing. The writing pokes fun at the original 2D-Zelda games and the tropes of telling a story like that. While the story isn’t THAT unique, it’s executed so well and with so much charm, I really enjoyed it. The references and pokes towards the Zelda series also made me smile and enjoy it even more.

At the start, you would be under the impression that this game is a clone of the Zelda series. Almost completely copying the gameplay of the Zelda series. But, this game is cloned to perfection. This game has a lot of elements from different 2D-Zelda games and they all work perfectly together. If you didn’t know, you would say that this game is a spin-off in the Zelda series.

The gameplay can be compared to every 2D-Zelda game like Oracle of Ages/Seasons, A Link To The Past, The original Legend of Zelda, Link Between Worlds… I felt like playing a “best of” from those games.

Exploring the open world, trying to find all hidden areas on the map, upgrading your gear to do more damage… It made me come back for more and more. Too bad that this game is short. According to HowLongToBeat.com, this game only takes you 9-ish hours to complete.

Wake up Grandpa, I mean King!

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It’s a shame that this game is so short. The dungeons are challenging to play through and the overworld is fun to explore.

I wanted this game to continue on for a while longer. Since, when I first started my journey, the visual design of this game gave me a wave of nostalgia. The game looks amazing. Vibrant and colorful, but most of all, nostalgic. The pixel-art feels almost like it would be possible on a Gameboy Color.

While exploring the swamp, I almost felt like my younger self again. When I was covered in a blanket, playing A Link To The Past at my cousin’s house on his SNES. The game mixes elements of fantasy and magic quite well.

Besides that the game looks amazing, the animations of this game are extremely well done as well. I really like the idle animation of this game since it fits the story so well. When you leave your Switch alone, the main character would nervously tap her foot. As if she is waiting to know how she needs to progress in the story. A small touch that would make this perfect is that sometimes the kids would yell at grandpa that “he fell asleep while telling the story.” But, that’s nitpicking at this point.

Now, you go on your journey to wake up the King. Now, the reason for that is something I will leave up to you to discover. During your journey, you get a rather big arsenal of weapons. Every weapon is quite unique and is used in various places in the overworld. So, experiment with your items.

There is also a collect-a-ton aspect to the game where you can pick up certain enemy drops. Enemies rarely drop coins or hearts; but they drop feathers, zombie brains, bee hives… and those can be traded in for coins or other great rewards. The game has a bit more depth besides the main quest. So, to tease the gameplay even more… I will mention that there are side quests like scroll collecting.

Now, this game has a great price. The game costs 12€, 15USD. It’s a great price for this game.

All of this sounds fine, amazing gameplay, great story, and excellent presentation. Are there negatives to this game or will I continue to praise it? Well, there are a few things that made me raise an eyebrow or two.

So close, so close.

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Something I didn’t like was that you were unable to choose the sword button. This might seem like a nitpick, but I found it impractical that it was the “A” button.

Now, I only discovered that this could be changed after I finished the game. But, when you change your sword button, it also changes the button you need to press to accept dialogues. So yeah… Nitpicking much here. So, check your control options when you want to change that.

While the controls respond quite well, there are a few other things that I didn’t like. Like when you aim your bow, you are locked in the position you started aiming in. There is also no way to cancel the bow aiming. This is a problem since it takes a chunk out of your mana bar. And without mana, you can’t use your special items leaving you wide open to attacks.

If you have read other reviews I wrote, you know that I find the music and sound design pretty important for a game. Now, the sound design of this game is decent. While I would have loved a bit more sound effects for the monster grunts and people talking, it’s pretty okay.

The soundtrack, well, it’s good but some tracks are too short. And there are one or two tracks that I really didn’t like. The track for the race side quests worked on my nerves. On the other hand, it’s a great way to hear how much time you have left, but it made me just even more nervous while doing an obstacle course quickly. That said, the rest of the soundtrack is really enjoyable and I have to say that Visager did a great job with the music.

Now, there are a few things that could make this game even better. The first thing is the completion percentage. There are a lot of side quests and things like that, I would love to see a completion percentage or a sort of quest log so I can keep track of them.

A second thing that would improve the game quite a lot is polishing up the teleport system. Now, you step on the teleport stone and you choose in a lost of teleport locations you have activated. It would be amazing if you would see them on the map as well and instead of choosing them from a simple list, you would pick them from the map.

A third thing that would be nice is that there is a different sprite or some sort of identification if you have activated a teleport stone or not. This is a minor thing, I know, but it would be a great minor change.

The difficulty of this game is good. This game isn’t too hard or too easy. While it would be neat if the dungeon bosses have some sort of health bar, I think that the visuals give the health of a boss away.

Now, sometimes I felt like there was a bit too much going on with the dungeon boss. The more I have to keep in mind while fighting a boss, the more frustrated I get. There were two bosses that almost made me throw my Switch one or twice. Something that would help is an easier way to find the red potions. If that’s in the game, I overlooked it.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s time for the conclusion and my final thoughts (which act as a TL;DR most of the time) for this game.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story

+ Excellent visuals

+ Addictive gameplay.

+ ….

The bad:

– Way too short. It’s over before you know it.

– Some bosses have a bit too much stuff going on.

– Locking in one direction when firing a bow.

– The soundtrack could have been so much more.

Final thoughts:

So, is this game any good? Yes! I never expected that this game was this good. While it’s highly possible that the nostalgia for the Legend of Zelda series overtakes me and makes me look over some flaws, but truth to be told, this game deserves all the praise it’s getting.

As mentioned above, this game isn’t perfect. But, the positives highly outweigh the negatives. This game is a lot of fun for casual and hardcore players. And because I finished this game and I want to see more, I’m well determined to support the developer even more. I want to see more of this developer.

You really owe it to yourself if you enjoy 2D-Zelda or adventure/action games to play this game to the end. For now, this game is one of the best games I have played all year. Yes, I enjoyed it that much.

In addition to that, when I was testing out the Switch screenshot sharing feature, I tweeted out a picture where signposts still tell what’s on it:

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And yes, that’s the actual WRITER of this game replying to my tweet. The developers of this game are very active on social media! I love what you are doing with the fans and players of your game! Great work! Now, if you make another game; please notify me. I would love to see more of you guys. Even when it’s a sequel to Blossom Tales.

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 but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 90/100

Publishing: Astounding Gaming Stats Revealed

If you’re a gamer yourself, or a gaming widow/orphan/parent, you’ll already be acutely aware of the amount of time and money games can sap from life. But, as recent research has shown, it’s not necessarily all bad.

According to statistics, laparoscopic surgeons who played video games for more than three hours per week made 32 percent fewer errors than those who didn’t. Gaming has also been linked to a reduction in dementia risk, pain relief, overcoming dyslexia and even making us more motivated in real life too. If you’re an anti-gamer, this probably isn’t what you wanted to hear, but the fact remains that love it or hates it, gaming is here to stay.

Things sure have come a long way since the 8-bit entertainment of the ’80s, and today video games are a multibillion-dollar industry. In fact, the largest gaming company today is tipped to become the world’s biggest company by 2025. That’s right, even bigger than Apple!

Here we’ll reveal some of the most astounding statistics about gaming in the 21st century, from who’s playing to how old they are and even how much they pay (or earn) through their gaming lifestyle. Shake off your preconceptions about gaming and let’s see what the truth is about this much-loved pastime worldwide.

Check this Infographic made by Filmora team and share your opinions with us!

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Publishing: NetherWorld: the sinister dimension of excesses shows up on Kickstarter

logo_Netherworld.pngMadrid, 1st March 2018 Independent studio Hungry Pixel has launched a Kickstarter campaign, to fund NetherWorld, a dark and crazy adventure full of excesses and outlandish characters.

NetherWorld creators hope to raise 5.000€ to finish its development. If the Kickstarter campaign overcomes the initial goal, the studio wants to make this PC game compatible with other platforms as Nintendo Switch, among other new features such as new scenarios, characters, and storylines.

In its first week on Kickstarter, NetherWorld has raised more than 45% of its main goal and has exceeded 140 backers.

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THE GAME: NETHERWORLD

 NetherWorld is a 2D horizontal side-scrolling pixel art adventure game, with an irreverent and sinister plot. Its protagonist will be involved in a surreal story after being abandoned by his wife and handling his misfortune with alcohol, drugs, and lust.

The player will be able to discover the sinister land of NetherWorld; explore its darkest corners, get along with weird NPCs, use flames and handguns to battle horrific bosses or just get drunk in a bar.

 From the beginning, the main purpose of NetherWorld developers was to create something different, an unusual story with deeply eccentric characters and a pile of -apparently- ridiculous situations.

This adventure will have multiple references to great videogames franchises such as Dark Souls, among others.  However, some of them will be only visible for sharp players.

In NetherWorld, most of the fights will be against final bosses, focusing on the story progression, dialogues, and relationships between the different characters.

Each final boss will have unique mechanics, ensuring epic and intense battles. To defeat them and help our black squid-like hero to get over his depression, we’ll have all kinds of weapons. However, sometimes we’ll have to use nearby objects or just flee as fast as possible. In broad strokes, NetherWorld’s dynamics can remind us of Shadow of the Colossus.

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 General features

  • Dark, bloody and twisted world
  • Large variety of scenarios
  • Deep (and surreal) story
  • NPCs with their own behavior and evolution
  • Epic battles against huge and grotesque bosses
  • Tons of weapons and accessories
  • Humor

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1522665641/868540078?ref=417359&token=7f9332a2

Youtube trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8jjUg-zq04&t=1s

Screenshots / GIFs: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1v41r8tekQxir7GfB8j7H7nYd–yYE0Kn

Web: http://www.netherworldgame.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NetherWorldGame

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/netherworldgame

Contact: info@netherworldgame.com

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International media press:

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Spanish media press:

 About Hungry Pixel

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This mad idea came up from Daniel Barreno’s mind, creator and developer of NetherWorld. A short while after, Isabel Armentero joined the project to provide the game with her amazing art and design abilities. Together they founded the indie studio Hungry Pixel, where they work hard to make NetherWorld a reality.

My Favorite Gaming Music #21 – Time for a REMIX.

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There are two reasons why I wanted to talk about my favorite music in video games today. One, I didn’t have a lot of time to play a new game to review on my blog. Two, it has been too long since I wrote an entry in this series. So, that’s why I’m doing one of these again. Normally, the rules are that I’m only allowed to talk about original tracks from the games and only one track per franchise. This time, it’s different. One track per franchise remains, but now, it’s a remixed version of the track. So, I hope you are ready for some amazing music since here we go!

Hyrule Lemon – Essence of Lime (Remix: The Legend of Zelda – Oracle of Ages Intro & Title)

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In my Creative Christmas series, I have mentioned the Essence of Lime & Lime of Seasons albums. I seriously can’t get enough of these tracks.

When I found this album and heard the first track and heard that they added various sound effects from the games, I was sold right away.

For those who don’t know, this whole album is created by Hyrule Lemon and a team of various artists to remix the soundtrack of the amazing Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. Seriously, this music is so well made! I hope the remix other soundtracks as well since the talent behind this album is just amazing. They made an album using the music I’m so nostalgic about. Thank you for these guys and girls! Thanks.

Pascal Michael Stiefel x OC Remix (VGR) – A Hat In Time Main Theme (Remix: A Hat In Time Main Theme)

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This album just came out a few days ago. And it’s amazing. OC Remix is an amazing website where various artists come together to show off their remixes of video game music.

Indie dev team Gears for Breakfast teamed up with them to create a new album called “B-Side Soundtrack”. And, it’s amazing.

Now, I recently gave A Hat In Time a perfect score. I even said it was my favorite game of 2017. Now, when this track pulled my emotional string right around the 1:20 mark, it just blew me away and I bought this soundtrack on Steam. This soundtrack is only 5€ for 85 amazing music tracks. Again, only FIVE euro! That’s a steal! Seriously, if you enjoy this one, go and buy it on Steam.

Dunderpatrullen – Mega Man (Remix: Mega Man 2 Dr. Wily’s Castle)

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Now, I have never really played Megaman 2 so I don’t know the soundtrack that much. I still do recognize Megaman tunes here and there.

Why am I telling you this? Well, when I discovered Dunderpatrullen, I was looking around for more music that they created and I found this track they preformed live on a DreamHack event.

If you never heard about Dunderpatrullen and you enjoy chiptune, electronic music; please fix that. Give their music a try. Let me throw in as a bonus this video game medley to enjoy. While I know I mentioned this in one of my Creative Christmas articles, I still wanted to give the spotlight to these artists since I think they are amazing and I really hope they create some new music in the near future!

The GAG Quartet – 8-bit Anthem Medley (Remix: various ones)

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Something I have a real soft spot for is medleys and nostalgia. This is one that combines both.

I think that a lot of my fellow bloggers will enjoy this track, since you have Mega Man, Pokémon, Monkey Island, Zelda amongst various others.

The visuals in this video made my nostalgia go in overload. It’s very well made and this was actually the track that made me subscribe to their stuff. I simply can’t wait to see more music created by these guys. Also, if you are interested, they also created a medley with various internet memes from the past couple of years. So, give that a listen if you are interested.

Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion Song (1000 Doors)- The Living Tombstone -feat. BSlick & Crusher-P

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I have no clue why I bought this game. I hate jump scares in horror games. Yet, I enjoy playing this game. It’s very well put together and it’s pretty challenging.

Now, The Living Tombstone, some remixes from this artist I dislike and others I really like. This is one I really like. Maybe, the fact that Crusher-P helped with this track since I like his stuff as well. On the other hand, I really like the Living Tombstone’s original track “Cut the Cord“.

So, talking about the game; I still have to play a bit more before I can actually review the game. Maybe this Halloween if no other game distracts me? If you would ask me, really give Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion a chance, it’s an enjoyable game and I can’t recommend it enough to horror fans who want a “light” horror experience.

Final words

So, that’s everything for today. If you guys & girls ever find an amazing remixed track of a game you enjoyed playing, don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments.

I’m really curious to hear your opinion on the tracks I chose to feature in this article. Do you hear about them or are these the first time you heard about them? In any case, I hope you enjoyed listing to them and maybe discovered some new artists.

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!

Review: Mirillis Action v2.7.3 (PC) ~ A Let’s Player Tool.

action-1Mirillis official website

So, you want one tool that can easily record your screen, your gameplay, screenshots, record only sound, stream to Twitch AND record your stream and much more? In the past, I used various tools for that, but ever since I got contacted by the developers of Mirillis Action, I uninstalled most of those tools. Was this a good idea? Is the software good enough to replace them or does the software have holes? Mirillis gave me a review code. The software is usually 30$. So, let’s get right into the review and talk about how this software performs according to me. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion and/or thoughts about the software and/or the content of the article down below.

Specs and such

Before we continue, I should say that I tested this program on two different machines. Both on my laptop I use for classes and my gaming desktop. My laptop is a Lenovo B50-80, the only modification I did was that I changed the standard 8GB RAM into 16GB RAM. I need that much RAM since I have to run 4 or more virtual machines and each VM can use up to 2-ish GB RAM each. And yeah, if I only had 8GB of RAM, I wouldn’t be able to follow the classes.

Before I tell you the specs of my gaming desktop, a computer I built myself with my uncle, I know that the graphics card isn’t the strongest or best in these modern times to play games on; but I’m happy with it. The specs of my gaming desktop are an i7-4820K CPU (3.7 GHz), GeForce GTX 660, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, 128GB Boot SSD and a 3TB HDD for my data. It’s quite a beefy PC in my opinion.

During the time I tested the software, the software updated twice. From v2.7.1 to 2.7.2 and then again to v2.7.3. While the software update crashed on my laptop when updating from v2.7.2 to v2.7.3, it ran fine on my gaming desktop. Probably a hiccup with files that were in use by Windows Update or something. Thankfully, a simple uninstall and reinstall fixed everything.

 The positive aspects.

action-3I can hear some content creator say already, why do we need this tool? What does it have over OBS Studio, which is free? I think a big plus is how clean the interface is when you compare it to OBS.

You can do a lot with OBS, but it’s all buried in menus. When I used OBS for the first time, I was quite confused how to set it up. I had to use a guide to get started. Most features of OBS are hidden in drop-down menus and that’s a real shame.

In addition to having a better-looking UI, a big advantage in Action is that you have a better indication if you are recording or not. The counter is visibly more present than in OBS Studio.

This tool is much more than a streaming and recording tool alone. You can take screenshots and benchmark as well. These are two quite handy features to have. The more I worked with the program, the more I was amazed by how handy this tool is for content creators.

Some neat features are, you can easily cap the framerate the video, you can set a length of time to record, there is a built-in video converter for the recorded videos. I think that this tool will be quite useful when I’m benchmarking a game for a review or when I want to record some gameplay footage to refer to when I’m writing a review.

Something that might make video creators quite happy is the feature that you can record your microphone audio on a separate track. So, when something happens in-game that is quite loud, you can easily edit that out without having your commentary be too silent.

If you need any help with the program, the help button is not too far away. When you use it, the program will display a very to the point help screen. If you still need more help, you have a button that will redirect you to the website with even more information to help you.

There is also support for greenscreen webcam recording. At this moment, I don’t own a good webcam or a green screen, so I wasn’t able to test out this feature. But, from what I read online; it’s pretty good.

The Action RCU app is an amazing feature, but I’ll talk about that more in depth later in the article.

The negative aspects

action-2Now that I talked about all the reasons why I would recommend this software, here are the things that I didn’t like. Keep in mind, these remarks are made about v2.7.3. It’s possible that Mirillis patch or update their software to make these remarks invalid.

When you open Action, it displays by default a box (called the HUD) of what you will record and how many frames per second it takes. The default location for this is rather annoying. It’s in the top right of your screen. While I understand that the box is more visible there, it’s quite annoying when you have apps on full screen. While clicking the box does nothing, I keep thinking it will open the program. So, I try to navigate my mouse around it. I think it would be better if it showed by default in the middle of your screen at the right-hand side. Then, I realize that you can quickly hide it with F6. So, this is a true nitpick.

Something I miss from OBS Studio is a preview of what the video is going to look like. When you boot up OBS Studio, you see what it’s going to record. This is something you don’t see with Action. So, I had to make a test video every time I tried out some new settings.

A nice feature to have is to easily move the output folders at once to another location. In the current version, you must move it feature by feature. If an option is added where you specify a folder to output and Action creates the 4 folders it needs for the output; that would be awesome.

Something that is missing from the video recording & streaming tab, is an option if you want to record system audio. I would move that option from the options menu to the streaming and video recording tab. Since it’s more useful there.

A huge incoming update

Something I wanted to quickly touch upon is that there is going to be a big update in the feature. Action 3.0 will fix almost every negative I have with the program. The new features will include things like a live preview of the video composition and an improved HUD. Let’s not forget to mention that v3 will have StreamLabs support. You can read more about it and give your own suggestions on this Facebook post.

If you already own Action v2, you will be able to freely upgrade to the v3.

The Action RCU Android App

If you have an Android phone and you are a YouTuber or streamer, you are going to love this feature! When you enable Action RCU in the options menu and install the app on your smartphone, you will be able to control parts of the program with your smartphone. Before I forget to mention it, this is a free app! Yep, free.

In the app, you will be able to start and stop recording or streaming. But not only that, you will see the program that Is recording, how much free space is on the drive you are recording too, how many FPS you have and how long you are recording.

This is an amazing additional feature. I would love to see more promotion of this feature. Since this is going to be a selling point for a lot of let’s players and streamers.

If the app gets updated with these few remarks, I think that the app would be even better.

First, I think it’s quite dangerous that you can connect with any computer without giving a password. I think it would a good idea that you must enter a preset password before the connection is made. This password can be set in the program itself in the options menu. This would avoid annoying roommates stopping your recording without you knowing it. Or let the program pair your smartphone with the program and smartphones that aren’t paired, block them until they are paired.

Second, I couldn’t connect at first to my computer. After a bit a troubleshooting, I found out that some firewalls are blocking the app. I use Avast Internet Security now on my gaming desktop. Right after I made the connection, I can enable Avast again and the firewall doesn’t interfere with the app. There is a solution for this. You can whitelist the program in Avast and the problems will stop. On my laptop, I use Avira Free and Windows Firewall and that didn’t have any problems when I allowed it in the Windows Firewall settings.

Third, I think it would be amazing if a button is added in the app to mute the microphone. In addition to that, possibly a “light” that changes when the microphone is active or not.

Four, this might possibly in the pipeline; but create an iOS and Windows Phone version of this feature. Since the smartphone market is more than Android alone. The developers told me that they will first develop a MAC version of the program before they port the app to iOS. This is planned to start production next year.

Update 28/09: so, there is an iOS version of the app. There will be a version for MAC of the actual program possibly next year. Still, I would love to see a version for Windows Phones.

Five, if a limited record time is set, I think it would be lovely to have a countdown timer of some sorts too.

Six, add a screenshot button! Seriously, one that will be something useful to make thumbnails without having to search around in the video afterward.

And last, why not display the key(s) you need to press to pause the recording also in the app?

Apart from the first two remarks, the other remarks are just additions to improve the app and make it more powerful and even more useful than it already is.

Conclusion

Would I recommend this program? Without any doubt in my mind, I would. This program is already a great tool but with some additional features based on the remarks I raised in this article, I think this program can compete with major names like OBS Studio or DXTory. Besides, the program has more features than DXTory and is cheaper.

This powerful tool is cheap in my opinion and I’m glad that Mirillis Team contacted me to look at their software. Since now I’m a proud owner of a great piece of software that’s going to prove useful in class when I record how to enter commands to configure routers and switches but it’s also going to prove useful to create screenshots for my articles.

The program is already worth the asking price, but it can only grow and improve. The developers update this program quite often, so it’s going to only get better from here on out! In my opinion, this is one of the best recording tools out there right now.

There are a lot more than this program can do, so if this program sounds interesting to you; go and check it out. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this program. Time to wrap up this article.

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

NekoJonez – July 2017 Update

BannerBlog

July is almost over, and I have a lot of updates to share with you. I decided to combine them in one article, so without any further ado, here we go. 

Rebranding

You might have noticed it already, but a month ago, I decided to rebrand my blog. I didn’t make the new artwork and icon myself since I’m honestly not good with programs like Photoshop and other art programs. I can do some really basic editing, but that’s about it.

Thankfully a friend of mine helped me out. Thanks to Zoef, we got a new amazing looking banner and icon. I can’t thank him enough since it looks amazing. It shows perfectly what my blog is about and that was exactly what I was going for.

In the past month, I have tried to look for every place that had my old artwork and changed it. I think I changed everything, but when I noticed that something has my old icon, I’ll change it as soon as I can.

NekoJonez got an award!

Best_technology_blogs_2017 (1)

So, something special happened. Last week, I got an email from Market Inspector that I was nominated for “Best Technology Blog of 2017”. I was really happy when I received it. So, I answered their questions to get my nomination in for real.

A week later, I was working on another article while I heard the notification sound on my phone. It was an email from Market Inspector, saying that I actually won in the gaming category. Here is a link to their article announcing the winners.

I’m honored to receive this award. I feel recognized for all the time I have put into this blog. So, thank you Market Inspector for this award!

Big projects and collabs

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First of all, one of my biggest projects yet I have teased on Twitter is finally here. I finished “My favorite gaming music #20“. While the writing was done for a while, I wanted each game to have a separate article with a sort of review for each game. Then I noticed that 5-6 games didn’t have its own article. So, that’s why it took so long, I had to write a couple of other articles before I was able to finish the gaming music article.

Another big project that is currently in the works is a big Zelda project. It’s going to be a project that I’m not doing alone. Currently, we are aiming to finish the article at the end of August. If anything changes, I’ll announce it on Twitter of course.

In other news, I decided to not list all articles I get quoted in, in an update article on my blog. So, if you want to know when I helped writing in an article on another blog, you should really follow me on Twitter. Otherwise, you might miss one of the vacation spots I would take in gaming.

By now, you might be wondering what the image is I added a bit above this paragraph. Well, I’m a part of the Blogger Blitz event that Adventure Rules created. This is a “battle” between bloggers to try in convince you why a chosen game character is better than another character. But here is the catch, each blogger had to choose his or her own character. I picked Indiana Jones. More information about the event can be read on the Adventure Rules blog. On the 31st July, I’ll try to convince you why Indiana Jones is the better in mass producing and selling a certain iconic item than Lightning Farron. The blogger I’m up against is Lightning Ellen. Good luck and may the best writer win!

Schedule for the 2nd part of 2017

Believe it or not, I created a sort of schedule for the 2nd part of 2017. Currently, it’s just a rough planning of the articles I want to write in 2017. Notice that I said, rough planning. That means I can still move around my schedule and/or change it completely.

As usual, I won’t share the schedule. I want to keep it a surprise to everyone and I also change so frequently in my schedule, I would go crazy writing an update article or change it every time I make a change. The only thing I’m going to reveal is that my schedule is filled with game-related articles. I mean with that, first impressions and reviews.

Also, I decided to keep my 1 article/week schedule. Yet, when I’m able to write more than one article a week and I’m in the writing mood, I won’t stop myself. But, starting from September, that might be impossible to write more than once a week. Since then evening classes start up again and I have a few things going on with my acting group.

For this week, I’m still planning a few articles. If I have the time, I might even publish more than 2 articles this week. But, that all depends if I have the time. So, no promises.

NekoJonez is on Steam

Remember that I wrote an article about a game called “The Last Tree“? Well, it’s released on Steam now. The developer emailed me to tell me, that a quote from my article was featured on the Steam Store page! Here is a screenshot:

The last tree Steam

So, that’s why I decided to write a review about the game. So, I’m going to try to finish that article before the end of August! So, keep your eyes out for that. Thank you to the developer of this game for quoting me on Steam. This means a lot to me.

End of updates

So, that are all the updates I wanted to share for this month. The past few months were quite eventful for my blog and my personal life and I’m enjoying all of it. I hope you enjoyed reading this update article as much as I enjoyed writing this.

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

 

Gamer’s Thoughts: Gaming Expos and Conventions

IMG_5853-1940x709.jpgThis week, it’s time for something completely different. The people over at Vegas.com inspired me to write an interesting article about my experiences on the various expo’s and conventions I went to. Why do I talk about them in my introduction? Well, they offer quite interesting Las Vegas travel deals if your planning on going to the LVL UP Expo! The LVL Up Expo is celebrating its fifth year in Vegas bringing some of the best gaming and technology experts. So, like I said before, in this article; I’m going to share some stories and experiences from the conventions I went to. In the comments, I would like to hear what experiences and stories you have from going to cons and expos. Feel also free to write a comment about the subject and or the content of this article. 

Sidenote: this isn’t a paid article.

What conventions did I go to?

gameforcethumbailcalendar.jpgI have been to quite a lot of conventions and expos. The last one I went to was in late 2016. That was GameForce in Mechelen, Belgium.

Conventions I went to are: Made in Asia, Minecon (Twice, in 2012 and 2015), an expo about gaming and education amongst others. If I’m allowed to count the number of garage sales I went to, I honestly lost count. They are quite popular in Belgium. As in,  in the spring-summer time, there is a garage sale almost every day somewhere in Belgium.

Storytime with Jonez

Let me share two stories. The first story is about one of the first expos I ever went to in my life. I wish I could the name of the expo, but it has been over ten years and I can’t find the name on the internet.

It was an expo where you went through the history of gaming. How the first games got made and how games are now. In each time period, you could buy games from other collectors. It was quite fun.

So, after we visited the area of the 80’s, one of my friends was quite thristy. Let’s call him Alex. So, Alex and I went to a soda machine. It was 1€ for a soda. But he only had a piece of 2€. So, he inserted his piece of 2€ and pressed the numbers of the soda he wanted. Instead of getting his soda and 1€ in return, he got two sodas and to make matters even worse, he got the wrong sodas. That actually happened. It was a moment I wished my mobile had a camera. So, I was able to film it. But alas, I was sporting an old Nokia back then without a camera.

Other things happened with that same soda machine, but my memory is quite fuzzy on it. I remember somebody getting two sodas with paying 1€. So, Alex got annoyed because he felt he got robbed.

The second story is more recently. So, my friends and I were just too late to pay for VIP tickets to go to a certain convention. So, we paid for the normal tickets. Fast forward to the convention itself and one of my friends saw some boxed with bags sticking out. She took one for each of us. We continued to walk and when we returned ten minutes later, a security guard was standing there and stopping people from grabbing bags.

It turns out that it was the VIP Loot bags that she grabbed. The SMITE-figurine is standing on my desk from that day on.

Going to a convention or expo?

What are some important dos and don’ts you’d suggest to someone attending their first convention?

Don’t…

… go unprepared to the convention or expo. Read up about the history, events, and exhibitions of the convention or expo. Also, this way you avoid buying duplicate games/items.

… take pictures of people cosplaying without asking. Some people don’t like to have their picture taken without them knowing.

… take too many valuable items. At cons and expos, there is always a big crowd and things can happen.

… go spending right when you enter. Take a look around before you spend all your money. Otherwise, you are out of money before lunch.

Do…

… plan out your route. But don’t overdo it. Give yourself the chance to distract you.

… enjoy your time there. Be yourself! For example, what I did at Minecon was one day to see the con and one day to see some panels.

… read up about the rules of the expo and/or con. Are you allowed to take drinks and snacks?

… go with friends that are also interested in the subject of the expo and/or convention.

What items should you bring along with you?

A wallet with some cash, a bank card, a mobile phone, a camera, a water bottle (if allowed), a snack (if allowed), a good mood, a 3DS (man, the Streetpass hits you get are crazy!).

Also, some advice, if the con or expo has an official app. Download & install it. It usually contains the map and planning of the convention. You never know when you need it.

What should you wear?

Comfortable clothing and good walking shoes. Unless you want to cosplay, then go in your costume.

Believe me, you will do a lot of walking at the convention or expo. Get a good rest the day before the convention.

Speaking about cosplay, research your character. I have seen various times that people didn’t know a lot about the character they are cosplaying and they fall out of character. This is a no-brainer of course but look at the rules of the convention or expo. Don’t go cosplaying with a gun if they aren’t allowed.

What are your favorite activities and exhibits?

My favorite activity at expos or cons are the ones where you can hear your favorite group has a panel. I attended the MindCrack panel at Minecon 2015. I was just too late to attend the panel in 2012. The room was full, so we were unable to attend.

My favorite exhibits are the ones where I can buy merchandise of my favorite games. Since I live in Europe, it isn’t that easy to get merchandise of Japanese and/or American products. Since I have to pay a big shipping fee and things like that. So, that’s why I go to cons.

And of course, I love exhibits where I can see an upcoming product I’m excited about. Oh yeah, before I forget, exhibits, where I can buy games to add to my collection or complete my collection, are great too.

Wrapping up

After the convention and/or expo is over. Feel free to take a look back at the past day(s). What have you learned, bought, experienced… I always had a strange lonely feeling the day after a convention or expo.

Usually, after I went to a garage sale, I post a picture of my loot on my personal Facebook or on my Twitter.

But, I think I’ll wrap up this article here. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this 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.

Review: The Legend Of Zelda – Minish Cap (GBA) ~ Easiest Zelda Game?

The_Legend_of_Zelda_The_Minish_Cap_Game_CoverZelda wiki entry

Ah man, I have a ton of memories of this game. I played this game when I didn’t have enough money to buy games myself. I was quite young. If I remember correctly, I was just getting into high school. So, I was 11 – 12 years old when I rented this game from the video game store. I almost finished the game before my rent time was over. So, after I returned it, I rented it the next weekend. As it turned out, somebody else rented it and saved over my save file. I was so let down, I actually didn’t play the game that much. After a year or two, my local game store stopped renting out games. They sold them all second hand. Then I bought this game and I finished it in a week. But how was my experience? Well, let’s take a look at it! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game. 

Easy?

45103-The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_The_Minish_Cap_(U)(DCS)-6So, I claim in my title that this is the easiest Zelda game in the series. And I stand by that claim. This game is rather on the easy side. Not only that, it’s quite short. But more on that, later.

The story in this game tells the story how Link got his green hat. Once every 1000 years, there is a special festival for the Minish. A race that helped create the master sword. Link is the grandson of the blacksmith with the Princess Zelda as childhood friend.

You get asked to deliver a sword to the King. After you play a bit around on the festival, you see Vaati, the winner of the sword contest destroy the Master Sword and turn Zelda into stone.

That’s all I’m going to “spoil” from the story. (It are the first ten minutes of the game anyways.) The story is pretty well crafted. The characters are memorable and written pretty well. There is one thing that Nintendo implemented that I’m not a big fan off. That are the Kingstones.

These stones are pretty much the ways you open secrets in this game. You find them all over the world and your goal is to match your piece with somebody else. Then you open a cave or something along those lines. On paper, this can be interesting… But in theory, it isn’t. The two flaws here is that you see where the secret opens AND you have way and way to many Kingstones in the end. This gives the Kingstones less value and ruins the fun.

New items

zelda_minish_capGraphically, this game looks amazing. It gives off some Wind Waker vibes. The world is really colorful and bright. It’s really pleasant to look at.

The animations also give off this Wind Waker vibe. There isn’t anything I didn’t like about the visual presentation of this game.

What I really liked in this game was the world design. In this game, you can shrink down to a really small size, to the size of the Minish. This makes some locations that more memorable. When I replayed this game I often thought: “Oh hey, there are Minish living in this roof.” Oh, also, like in the Legend Of Zelda Link’s Awakening, this game also has references to the Mario games. Have fun looking for them!

In this game, you get some classical Zelda items like the boomerang and the bow and arrow. Yet, there are also some new items. The Mole Mitts you can use to dig your way in certain areas. A special cane that helps you flip over enemies and an upgraded Roc’s feather. You get a special cape to jump around. This cape also makes your jump longer. Oh yeah, and the vacuum cleaner… I mean the gust jar. This nifty item can suck up air and spit it back out. Guess what it’s used in a water puzzle.

The items are used very creatively. But one part that is introduced extremely well is the Four Swords. When you defeat a dungeon, you get a new element. With this element, you can create clones of Link in certain places. This makes the puzzles in some areas really well done.

Earlier in the review I said that this game was easy. To a seasoned Zelda player, this game can be easily beaten. When this is your first Zelda game, it will take you a bit longer. I felt that in some areas, the game could be a bit harder. It’s one of those games you play through because it’s a fun game. The atmosphere is there.

Music

 45103-The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_The_Minish_Cap_(U)(DCS)-16The music in this game is one of the strongest points in this game. When I listen to music from the GBA, I think that there aren’t that many soundtracks that sound as nice on the gameboy advance then this one. At least, as far that I played.

The soundtrack also has some remixed tracks from the previous games. This got a smile on my face.

The sound design is well done. There weren’t any sounds I thought were out of place.

The controls are responsive and spot on. I didn’t have much trouble controlling Link. Apart from some ice puzzles, I think the controls are perfect.

This game isn’t that long. Instead of the usual 8 dungeons and one final dungeon, this game has 6 dungeons. I wished there were a bit more dungeons then that.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time for the conclusion! (Oh, for my new readers… Yes, I left some things out. Gameplay wise and such… Just because if you are interested I want that there things that you can discover.)

Conclusion

The bad:

 – Kingstones aren’t well implemented.

 – This game isn’t that difficult.

 – I wished this game was longer.

The good:

+ Solid gameplay.

+ Fun new story.

+ Nice visuals.

+ Great music and sound design.

+ Fun new items.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game is quite well made. It came out near the end of the Gameboy advance’s life cycle… So, it’s a bit overlooked. While it’s not the best Zelda game out there, it’s a really good one. Apart from Zelda fans, I would recommend this game to any new Zelda player. This game is the perfect entry level Zelda game to start with the series.

While this game has some flaws, I think it doesn’t take much away from the experience. I didn’t find that much negative things to say about this game. That’s why I give it full marks. It’s one of the best games out on the GBA and it’s a must own!

Score: 100/100

Anyways, thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article sometime, but until then… Have a great day and game on~

First Impression: Glass Wings (PC) ~ Lesson in how not to design a game

8znpyeSteam store page

I found out about this game thanks to a forum friend of mine. I will sure send this article to him. The game got me interested. I like adventure games like this, but when I played this game… I was seriously disappointed. I’m terribly sorry Priom, but I think I need to rip this game a new one. Yet, how bad is this game? I did some digging about this game. I got some very interesting results. I found a lot of empty review pages all over the internet. I found one positive review. The website looks unprofessional. Okay, I think I’m running ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at this game as an objective critic. How is this game? Why did it leave such a bad taste in my mouth? What can improve and what doesn’t need improvement? Let’s take a look. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or this game.

Problems everywhere

the_game_is_done__by_saijeehiguchi-d7gqb2oYou could argue that I’m being too hard on a 5 bucks game made by three people. Well, I think I’m not. Because when I look at their website, it looks like this isn’t their first game. So, they have some experience.

First of all, let’s take a look at the story. It looked interesting after the first dialogue part. The voice acting was decent. It missed some emotion but it was all right for a three man team.

But two major flaws ruin the story presentation. Some visuals look less crisp than other. But the animation and the lack of sound effects are the two biggest issues. You see the main character struggle the whole way trough. There is no sound effect for that. Also, at the end of the cut scene… The main character is able to slip away. This came from nowhere since the visuals didn’t indicate that you were able to escape.

Then the dialogue itself. Well, it’s fine to create a fantasy world. If you explain things to the player. If you talk about “humans” and “demons”… You could explain a bit more how people have glass wings, what their goal is and things like that. In the introduction, the main character got the main objective. To get her (or his?) glass wings back.

Signs to older/other games?

last_three_days__level_designing_by_saijeehiguchi-d7g6ic9It’s rarely a good sign when a game has a separate .exe file to change the buttons for the game. It’s an even worse sign if it has a major flaw. The controls, are responsive yet flawed. There are some buttons assigned to some functions. There are TWO pause buttons. If you rebind one of those pause buttons, believe me, it won’t work… It still pauses the game.

Oh, and you can zoom in and out. Interesting and unique feature. But why can’t you run when you are zoomed in or out?

Okay, the subtitle said… signs of an older game. Well, the “load” option is actually you jumping into a warp pipe. Some people might praise a game for this, I’m more in the camp that doesn’t like this at all. It feels cheap and lazy. It feels like a trick to draw you into their game because you remember that mechanic from other games.

The menus aren’t well designed. When I booted the game, I was greeted by a sort of options menu. Some text overlapped some options. Also, the game settings can’t be changed once you are in game. And that’s a big issue in my eyes. If you notice that you want to change one setting, you have to shut down the game and boot it once again. There was also an option to do an “Alt boot”, which is for so far I can see, just an alternative costume.

Both in the graphical and music department, I think this game lacks a lot of polish. Like I said in the part about the introduction cut scene, some textures look smooth while others … well, just look ugly. The animation was lacking some serious polish. Another issue with the graphics is that the area around the doors looks unfinished. I also had some animation glitches, which worked out in my favor, where a jump landed me miles ahead from where I should land. Oh, some animations look also like they are missing some frames. The camera can clip through walls, the visuals of the levels look uninteresting among other things. Oh, and let’s not forget that all the traps look the same. Just a paint smudge on the floor. (And let’s not forget that you emit red light on the ground for some reason.)

The sound of this game, well, it gives me a vibe of “stock” music and sound effects. While the music sounds decent, the sound effects sound quite out of place. Some sound effects really don’t feel right.

The final negative I have with this game is the fact that there is a reset button. It just doesn’t sit with me well.

Positives?

menu_s__pshh_i_got_a_file_select_map__by_saijeehiguchi-d7g6im5

So, I think I made myself clear… This game left a bad taste in my mouth. Are there positives? Well, actually, there are. The main menu is quite interesting. With the bridges being the save slots and all. If only they polish this idea a bit up, it would be a bit better.

Well, this whole game can be more enjoyable if they polished up this game a bit more. Play tested it and didn’t only look at the parts that didn’t work but the parts where regular gamers would try to do things you didn’t intend. Things that might confuse a gamer that is interested in this game.

The premise and gameplay felt fun, yet a sloppy execution made this game feel short. Extremely short. Would I recommend this game? Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are interested in what you saw from the screenshots, you might be better off watching a let’s play episode or two. Or even try the demo.

This game had potential. It’s quite a bummer to see that this was the end result. If this game would be in early access, I wouldn’t give it such a rough time. While I can understand that people would enjoy this game… I don’t think it’s a good game. It lacks some polish but it doesn’t lack the love of the developers. I’m sorry From Soy Sauce, while I enjoyed the gameplay, I couldn’t look passed the other issues in this game. So, I think it’s highly unlikely I would finish this game. Maybe I might check later since I see that you recently released a patch for this game. Maybe in the future, most of these issues are resolved. Who knows…?

In any case, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I know, it’s something different from what I usually write. But hey, I felt like not writing about a good game for a change. I hope to welcome you at an other article, but until that time… have a great day and game on~

First Impression: Europa Universalis IV (PC ~ Steam) – Thank you Mizari.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedLink to the official website

For the people who read my blog often, they might know that one of my best friends is Mizari. I often call him MiseryLC or anything among those lines. One of his favorite games is Europe Universalis IV. Recently I decided to give it a try with him myself. The gameplay and the genre looked interesting to me, so I bought it while it was on sale. After playing almost 40 hours in about a week or so, I think it’s safe to say that I’m having quite a lot of fun! So, shall we take a look at this game and what first impressions it left on me? The issue is, in order to write a review for a game, I have to beat it. While you can “beat” this game, you can restart it with and play it in another way. So, I think I’ll write a review after I played around 150+ hours of this game. So, that said, it’s time to start talking about this game, and as usual, feel free to leave a comment on the game and or the content of this article. 

Age of Empires?

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When it comes to games where you need to build your own empire(s), I prefer the gameplay of Age of Empires and Age of Mythology. So, when I first started to play this game, I was quite confused. I might have looked over the tutorial but I haven’t seen one. Thankfully, Mizari is showing me the ropes. It’s quite handy to have a friend to play this game with.

When you start to get the hang of the game, it gets quite interesting. There isn’t any story in the game as far as I have noticed, since it’s one that you can make yourself. In our multiplayer sessions I play as Russia and he plays as the Ottomans. I don’t think that the Russians and the Ottomans ever formed a friendship.

 Numbers game.

2015-03-08_00001At first, I thought that most of this game would be a number game where higher stats would mean a better country. Let me tell you that it isn’t the case. Your goal is not only to manage a country but also you need to manage the relationships with other countries and such. When you don’t improve it at frequent intervals, you could get into trouble.

In my early multiplayer sessions, I regularly got attacked by other countries. I wasn’t that careful in managing my military points so I got attacked. But when countries that were afraid of MiseryLC’s empire also started attacking me, all I had to do was improve the relationship with his country and the attacks stopped. This makes it more then just a numbers game. It gives a realistic vibe to the game where time is just indicated by numbers.

The big issue is, that when you are just a beginning player there is way too much to play with. I found the tutorial when I wrote this part of the article, and only seeing three lessons, made me facepalm. The depth of this game, you can’t really explain that in three sessions. Well, you could but you might risk that you overflow the new player with too much information at once.

If you want to start playing this game, I highly recommend that you first play the game with a sort of guide. Don’t play in IronMan mode, since you can’t “roll back” choices. Speaking about that, there is one thing that is disappointing to me. You can only unlock achievements in IronMan mode. I think it would be better otherwise. I might be looking over a logical reason for why it’s ‘Ironman only’… but I hope that isn’t the case.

Nitpicking

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This game updates a lot, which can be annoying sometimes. During my play sessions I had a few nitpicks. Recently, MiseryLC and I started a new game where we would play content from the quite recently released DLC “El Diablo”. It’s kind of neat that somebody who doesn’t own the DLC is able to play the game and it’s content then as well. But you play with a very unstable game then. My game crashed 3-4 times in 20-ish minutes.

I was able to fix it by buying the DLC myself and then play with him. While there is a lot of DLC for this game, various ones are simply cosmetic. Now that I think of it, a handful are just music packs.

Talking about that, the music for this game is outstanding. In my previous (music) article I actually talked about a track that I really liked. But often, I had moments where my country was in war and relaxing music was playing. This actually took me out of the experience. But a neat kind of hidden feature is that when you hover over the date, the title of the song actually is shown.

So, this game is amazingly polished and I already lost various hours to it. I plan to play it for even more and probably write a more in-depth review of game. But there is so much to cover, the length of my usual “first impression” articles don’t quite cut it.

Apart from some irritating bugs, that sometimes get patched a few hours after they have been found, and some odd things here and there… The game is quite fun. Also, the search option to look for provinces is such a god send. Without it, I would had more rebels in my country then there are M&M’s in a M&M bag.

Anyways, I think I have said most of the things I wanted to talk about this game. I hope you enjoyed my first look at this game and if you are interested in the game, I advise you to not buy it with the DLC included. Since those can add some new gameplay layers that might make the already quite overwhelming game even more overwhelming. But once you get used to how the game plays, the hours can fly by really quickly. Just giving you that warning.