Game Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Trinity Awaits You.

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The logo for this project is created by The Well Red Mage

This post is a part of the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collabarative project. In this project various bloggers came together to take a critical look on the Tomb Raider series. Mixing nostalgia and a critical look on every game in the main series. You can read more in the hub article here.

SotTR_HERO-1-heroWikipedia entrySteam Store page

I remember the day that the picture leaked of the guy working on a powerpoint presentation of Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the metro. I was so hyped for the 3rd Tomb Raider game. I quite enjoyed the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise and I wanted to see how the trilogy ends. I pre-ordered the game as soon as I could. Of course I pre-ordered the collector’s edition and I was able to play this game 48 hours before the official release. Now that I finished the game, it’s time to give my honest opinion on it. Is the game any good or should you skip it? Let’s find out. Also, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Trinity awaits you

20180912191126_1If you are planning to play this game, I highly recommend that you play Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider before this game. The story in this game continues on the story of those two games. While you will be able to understand and follow the story in the game without much problems in this game, the impact of the story will be stronger if you played the first two games.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll keep some parts a bit vague in my plot description. So, in this game, Lara and Jonah are exploring Cozumel in Mexico for a piece of the artifact that Lara’s rival gang Trinity is after. It doesn’t take long before the duo finds Trinity and they discover something huge about Trinity. This leads Lara to a nearby temple where she finds a dagger that sets off a chain of events that might spell the end of the world but this might help Trinity to succeed with their plans. Now, will Lara be able to stop Trinity and save the world? Since Trinity awaits you in this game…

The story of this game is your typical adventure movie story. Personally, I enjoyed the story in this game quite a lot. The writing is pretty well done. I grew attached to the characters in this arc and it kept me engaged. While I was able to predict some plot points and twists from a mile away, I was entertained by it. The pacing of the plot is so good, I was less distracted by side quests than in the previous two titles.

The story takes you on various locations in Mexico and Peru. There is one section of the game that will put a huge smile on veteran Tomb Raider players, but I won’t spoil that one. While a lot of the game takes place in the jungle, the scenery never gets boring. I totally loved exploring the world after I had beaten the main story and I can’t wait for the additional content that they are going to release in the upcoming months.

Something I would love to talk about is that this game had two different epilogues. In this article, I want to focus on reviewing the game in its current form but if you want to know more, Kotaku has a great write-up with developer commentary.

The writing and pacing of this game is excellent, but something I really liked in this game was the voice acting. I really felt that the actors where giving it their all while creating this game. When Lara gets mad, she really sounds mad. Something I think is amazing is that the NPC’s can either speak English or speak in their native language. This setting in the option menu is such an amazing immersion feature. It really adds to the charm of the voice acting.

Now with the reboot plot wrapped up, I’m quite curious to where they are going to take Lara next. Which adventures will Lara have next? Will they create a new game when Lara is older or will they create a story that takes place right after this game? Only time will tell.

Take a jaw dropping picture

sotr.jpgWhen I saw the minimum requirements of this game, I became worried. In order to play this game, you need to have an i3-3220 Intel processor or something similar of AMD. You also need 8GB RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 660/GTX 1050 or AMD Radeon HD 7770 at the minimum. My computer has a i7-4820K, 16GB of RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 660. So, my computer fits the requirements of the recommend system requirements besides my graphics card. I was so afraid that I would be bottlenecked due to my graphics card. I was afraid that I had to put everything at the lowest settings to even get a playable framerate out of the game.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case.  I was able to play the game at medium visual settings at somewhere between 25FPS to 66FPS. The framerate was quite stable as well. While I was playing, I ran MSI Afterburner on my 2nd monitor to keep track of the temperatures of my GPU and the usage. Since that caused issues in Rise of the Tomb Raider for me. In this game, I only experienced three game crashes in that 48 hour pre-launch period but a quick restart of the game fixed the issue. And since the patch released on launch, I never had those crashes again.

25FPS might be too low in some people their opinion but I don’t mind it that much. 30FPS is still an acceptable frame rate for me and I don’t mind it that much, I understand that a lot of people prefer 60FPS, but I’m just glad that I have the game at a playable and stable frame rate.

I’m happy that my computer can run this game since this game takes you on an amazing journey. You come across gorgeous landscapes that are begging you to use the photography feature built in this game. This is even a small basic editor included. I only used the photography mode once, to test it out. If I ever replay this game, I have some spots that I totally want to use this feature on and create some amazing wallpapers.

While the visual presentation is amazing, I did experience some tearing issues and I saw some clipping. But, this happened so rarely and fixed themselves so fast, they weren’t a big issue. Most of the tearing issues were just for a few seconds here and there in a cutscene. I have to admit that updating my graphics card to the latest driver made me have even less tearing issues. So, if you are experiencing them too, check if your graphics card is up-to-date.

Visually, this game is jaw-dropping. While exploring the packed jungle, hidden cities and various tombs; you get even more eye candy with the animations in this game. From Lara jumping down to make a stealth kill to two characters speaking to each other in a cutscene, the animations are extremely well done. One minor complaint I have is that some death scenes felt a bit reused from the previous two games, but some look even better than before.

Yet, there are a few things about the visuals I thought weren’t the best they could be. The first problem with the visuals is that sometimes when the game reloaded after I died, the visuals went to a lower setting. This happened to me 5 times out of nowhere. Yet, after a patch, I didn’t experience this issue so I guess that might be fixed.

A 2nd complaint I have with the visuals is that the liquids in the death scenes became see through. It might be a nitpicky complaint, but I felt that it was rather awkward. It didn’t feel quite right. It would have looked a lot better if the camera zoomed out with Lara’s scream fading away as if she drowned.

Now, let’s talk gameplay. Since the reboot, the gameplay of the Tomb Raider series changed quite a lot. There are more action sequences in between puzzle segments and the exploration of tombs. Lara has a few new abilities compared to the previous two games. Outside of the expanded moves with the grapple axe and the stealth mechanics, all these mechanics are underused.

For example, some enemies have heat goggles. These enemies appear so frequent, it’s a gimmick. Another example are the underwater creatures, like eels and phirans. These can provide for some unique swimming puzzles but they are rarely used or are quite easy to avoid. Also, there are some tripwires that can activate traps. But, these traps are always the same trap and the same way of disabling them. It’s sad to see these mechanics under used so much.

Something that really annoyed me is that when you used the explorer sense, Lara almost always gave the solution of the puzzle away immediately. She spells out what you have to move to where. Even this sense sometimes provided the solution to the puzzle. This made some puzzles in this game too easy. I preferred it when Lara didn’t gave the solution right away. It was especially frustrating when she talked over dialogue. In one tomb, Lara and Jonah were exploring. While they were talking about the room they were in, I pressed the explorer sense button. While Lara and Jonah were having their chat, Lara spoils the solution of the puzzle. That way I didn’t hear what Lara and Jonah said. It would have been much more fun to solve the puzzles when Lara didn’t give away the solution away so quickly. It should work like those special mushrooms in the latest Mario games, that it appears when the player keeps failing to solve the puzzle or is stuck in the room for some time.

It’s a shame, since the puzzles are very fun to solve. They are well crafted and I enjoyed solving them. Thankfully, the issue of Lara spoiling the solution doesn’t happen with the platform sections. These were amazing to play through. I can’t wait to see what the new challenge tombs will bring in the upcoming months. On the 14th of November, a new tomb will release. I can’t wait to explore it.

Anyways, when I changed the puzzle difficulty to hard, Lara didn’t do this. I wish I knew this earlier, before I had beaten the game. Since, I had chosen the “Rite of passage” difficulty. It would have solved one of my major gripes with this game. I did have to set it to the hard setting, and that took away a lot of things in the explorer sense as well… So, I’ll stick to normal and just not use explorer sense only if I’m stuck.

Something I really love in this game as well is that you have more than one indicator on the map and in the explorer sense. You have the yellow marker that guides you to the next story point, the green one for the side quest you are doing and the blue one for the marker you set in the map mode. This is so handy and helped me to keep track of certain things. Great feature!

Orchestral exploration

20180912191114_1This game has an orchestral soundtrack. The soundtrack has been composed by Brian D’Oliveira and he created something amazing. The soundtrack adds so much power to the cutscenes and the game.

I also added the soundtrack to my music library. It’s a great soundtrack for when I’m writing various articles or when I’m playing other games like Minecraft or Europa Universalis IV.

It was especially tense during the stealth sections. I’m the type of player who usually goes all out and doesn’t use a lot of stealth. In this game, I highly recommend that you are careful while you have enemy encounters. They can quite easily overwhelm you if you go out of hiding too quickly. Also, in this game, the traps like flaming bottles and smoke bombs are way more useful than in the previous games. They helped me quite a lot. The music is a great help in these combat sections, since it’s your guide if there are still enemies around or if you have defeated them all.

Together with the great soundtrack, the sound effects and sound design of this game is extremely well done. I played this game with headphones. If you play this game, I highly recommend that you use a decent pair of headphones or speakers. The sound effects and the music add so much to the experience and the immersion, it’s essential in my opinion. It made my heart pound at certain moments and I felt so relieved when I was finally able to beat that section that gave me problems earlier.

The controls in the game are good. I do have one complaint and that is that I find the controls for the crafting system a bit awkward to use. I got used to it, but I preferred the crafting system in the previous game where you were able to map the crafting of (special) arrows or ammo to a single button. Now you need to use two for them. Then again, I see the benefits of the current system, so I think it’s a personal complaint.

I never had any major issues with the controls. Maybe once or twice that Lara didn’t grab a ledge, but these things happen in games all the time. The checkpoints in this game are frequent enough that you don’t lose a lot of progress. The game also has an autosave so you never have to worry that you lose progress.

Earlier, I talked about the extended mechanics or the grapple axe. The grapple axe is an essential tool in Lara’s arsenal in this game. She uses it as a sort of whip to swing across gaps, Indiana Jones style. She also uses is it for stealth killing, climbing almost vertical walls and using it as an anchor point when she needs to go down. There are certain moments when you hang on a wall right above the entrance of a tomb and Lara has to lower herself to either safe reach the ground or to swing back and forth to create enough momentum to jump to the platform that leads to the entrance of the tomb. Rappling down was always a great joy to do.

Now, there is one mechanic that actually returns from a previous Tomb Raider game. In Tomb Raider Anniversary, there are certain sections while you use your grapple you run on walls. This mechanic returns in this game. It’s used in combination with the lowering down mechanic I described in the previous paragraph.

These mechanics were fun to use. Slowing going down and seeing the big temple appear in the distance were my favorite moments in this game. It really made me feel like I was exploring the area. Paired with the amazing visuals and soundtrack, I enjoyed myself quite a lot. Speaking about those visuals, sometimes your path blended in with the environment so well, it was fun to explore. Trying to find the path you had to take to find your way back from a tomb. Also, in some platforming sections, especially when you are escaping from a crumbling building, the visuals make it even better to play through. You have rubble falling just past you or poles you bending the right way for you to continue. The adrenaline in these sections was amazing for me.

Now, this game took me 20 hours or so to beat. On Howlongtobeat.com, there are people who have beaten the story in 13 hours. I think I might complete this game, so I have a few additional hours in this game. The difficulty of this game really depends on the abilities and outfits you use. The fewer abilities you unlock and if you don’t use the benefits of your outfits, the game gets a lot harder. But, I found this game not that difficult. There were a few moments that I had to redo, sometimes more than 3 or 4 times but each time I learned the patterns of the enemies or where I needed to go. The game provides some challenge but once you get the mechanics down, you breeze through this power fantasy.

Now, about the difficulty. There are a few different options. Something I really like is that you can set the difficulty for combat, exploration and puzzle. So, if you find something too easy and you want more challenge, just change that in the gameplay section of the option menu. The only nitpick I have about the menu is that there should be a “confirm” button. Since it felt kind of strange that the changes happen right away to me. Then again, that might be just me.

Also, if you are quite nostalgic like myself, there are outfits that even remodel Lara’s character mode to look like in the earlier Tomb Raider games. I think that I’m going to use those outfits to complete the game now that I have beaten it.

Personally, I enjoyed the combat in this game quite a lot. Outsmarting your enemies and silently killing them before they can group up on you to overpower you was enjoyable. I felt my heart pounding when I was finally able to beat that one section I had to do over and over again. These sections made me consider playing other more stealth focused games in the future.

A big plus in this game is the in-game store. In the two previous titles, ammo could become a bit too rare to find in the post-game. This is solved by merchants in the villages you visit. There you can buy gear and ammo. You can also sell your materials for coins. This is a great mechanic since you really need to think on what you can sell if you want to complete this game.

The final fight in this game really took me back to the old school Tomb Raider boss fights. I only wish that it was a bit more challenging. I was able to beat the final fight with only dying twice. This time it felt like a proper final fight and not a gauntlet of enemies. It’s the best final fight in this trilogy.

So, that was everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of my review.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, pacing and voice acting.

+ Amazing visual presentation.

+ In game store.

+ Great soundtrack & sound design.

+ Great final boss.

+ Nostalgic outfits.

+ …

The bad:

-Some mechanics are underused.

-Sometimes some minor visual issues like tearing and clipping appear.

Final thoughts:

As a veteran Tomb Raider player, I wasn’t disappointed in this game. While I completely understand that this game isn’t for everybody, it did click with me. I enjoyed myself while playing this game and I think that this game turned out amazing. The biggest flaw of this game is that some fun mechanics go underused. Maybe these mechanics might be more used when I up the difficulty in my next playthrough.

I enjoyed playing through this game so much that I’m going to play through this game again for sure. The visuals are extremely well done, the animations, soundtrack, sound design… it all pulled me into this game. If you really enjoy playing adventure games like the 3D Indiana Jones games, Uncharted, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider or games of that nature, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try.

In my opinion, this is one of the best Tomb Raider games I have played in recent years. It reminded me why I enjoy playing through this series so much. The adventure is just so much fun and it reminds me of watching Indiana Jones when I was younger.

I can’t recommend this game enough. If you can, buy the season pass. I know that this makes the game more expensive but the additional costumes and the additional challenge tombs that will be released in the upcoming months will be more than worth it.

Thank you Square Enix, Eidos Montreal and all the other companies who helped develop this trilogy. I hope you continue creating adventures for Lara Croft. The quality of this game is amazing and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you for the journey and I hope this won’t be the last stop. You thanked your fans in the credits, allow me to thank you and your team for this amazing experience! Keep on creating those tombs and we shall keep raiding if it’s this amazing of a game.

Thank you so much 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, have a great rest of your day and take care. Also, be sure to check out the hub article where you can read more articles on the Tomb Raider series. More information is at the start of this article.

Score: 90/100

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Publishing: unmemory – A mystery game you can read. A noir novel you can play.

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“An innovative proposal of interactive fiction that immerses you in the story through a masterful mix of puzzle and reading” – Iván Fernández Lobo, Founder & Managing Director at Gamelab.

A new storytelling format

unmemory lives at the intersection of literature and game, blending narrative, interactive means and game mechanics to immerse yourself in a thriller story of memories and revenge.

The Killer Kittens are a band of sexy thieves. Many are after their valuable loot but there is only one person in the world who knows where it is hidden: you. Everything would be fine if it wasn’t for a small detail: you can’t remember anything.

Use your logic, deduction and discovery skills to overcome challenging puzzles and move forward. Bring order to your memories to solve the mystery and discover an uncomfortable truth.

More information

http://unmemory.info
Instagram: @unmemory.game
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Support their KickStarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unmemory/unmemory-a-text-based-game-an-interactive-escape-b

 

PSA: How to deal with stolen content?

 It’s no secret that I recently had to deal with two websites stealing my content. While everything is almost taken down, I decided to write an article where I talk about my experiences, tips, and tricks on how to defend yourself and take down content that is stolen from you. Before I continue, I want to make one thing clear, I didn’t write this guide to take down content you don’t like or you are trying to steal yourself. I wrote this guide to talk about the various methods that are out there for content creators to help them if their content is stolen. In addition to that, this comes from my personal experiences and I’m not a lawyer. Ask legal advice where needed. 

Protect your blog!

First of all, make sure you have a page/post that your readers can easily find where you talk about what you allow and don’t allow with your content. For me, that’s my DMCA page.

On that page, mention what you allow and don’t allow with your content. If you are stuck or unsure how to write this page, Creative Commons can give examples and you can use it to create your own license. But do read the whole license before copy/pasting it on your blog.

Know that this page/post will be looked at by lawyers in case of theft. So, make sure you cover everything with this post or page. It also makes clear what a user can and can’t do with your work.

Some websites also offer badges and other similar things to scare off potential thieves. Like Creative Commons I mentioned before and DMCA.com. You can actually pay DMCA.com to take down a thieving website if needed. If you are interested, check out both sites, since they provide useful and interesting insight.

CaptureIf you are using WordPress, like myself, don’t disable pingbacks! You can find these in your admin panel under “Discussion”. The reason for why that is, I’ll explain a bit later in this article. But, pingbacks can really save your skin or help you in your research. So, DO link to your older articles if you talked about something else in the past.

You can also take measures to the extreme and host your WordPress blog yourself and install and install a plugin that stops people from right-clicking or copying your text. Now, personally, I hate when websites do this. I’m not a native English speaker, and sometimes I have to look up translations for words. In addition to that, I get the impression that the creator doesn’t trust me with their content.

Now, let me state this for the record, I’m not saying that this is a bad idea; I’m saying that I’m personally not fond of this practice. Also, I don’t believe in protecting your site 100% this way. If you have a bot setup that can copy from HTML and the developer console, well; then your protection is busted. And for pictures, if you only disable the right mouse button, you can easily bypass that with a screenshot tool. So, yeah. And people share methods online that easily bypass a system like disabling right click like here.

With this, I wanted to say that not all protection or preventive measures will make a 100% theft proof system. Create a system that works for you and is easy to manage without your users complaining about it. I honestly think it’s no good idea to go into overdrive and focus yourself more on protecting your work instead of actually creating content…. Before I ramble on and on about this, let’s continue to the actual point of this article.

Before I talk a bit more about how to take down content, here are a couple of articles that provide helpful insight on protecting your work from theft. From tips and tricks to advice other bloggers gave about protecting your blog. Do give them a read, they are great.

https://wptavern.com/content-protection-plugins-for-wordpress-do-more-harm-than-good

https://en.support.wordpress.com/prevent-content-theft/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/protect-images-from-theft/

https://www.dreamgrow.com/prevent-content-theft/

https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2009/09/09/5-free-copyright-steps-every-blogger-should-take-today/

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/make-work-copyrighted-blogger-33454.html

https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-protect-blog-content-from-copyright-infringement/

Before I continue, know that the DMCA law exists. Please, read up on that law as well if you want to know more.

Take down stolen content

Okay, now for the actual meat of this article. I had to deal with a WordPress.com and a self-hosted WordPress blog stealing my content. So, I can talk about both issues here.

Before you do ANYTHING like a DMCA or further research, do try to get into contact with the owner of the website. Once in the past, I found another blog stealing my content without credit. They had a contact page, so I contacted them and they took it down. Do the following steps when the owner of the website doesn’t reply.

Let’s tackle the easiest to take down, blogs on platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly… Here is what you have to do. First of all, be prepared for playing a waiting game AND possibly long mail chains with abuse and or legal teams.

So, one of the blogs stealing my content had a Tumblr, WordPress, Evernote, Weebly, Pinterest and Diigo account posting links various stolen material. On Tumblr, Evernote, and WordPress my whole text was readable.

Before you continue, do know that this is only something the original creator of the article can do. If you haven’t created the work, do not make a DMCA Take Down request, since this can have serious consequences. If you want to help the creator out, please report it to them and ask them what you could do. Making fake DMCA claims can create an even bigger mess. Just ask big YouTubers like Alex from iHateEverything who got into a fight with Derek Savage a few years back.

Now, you need to find the procedure for each website how to make a DMCA Take Down claim or anything related to that. Here are a few links that found that can help you if you need it:

WordPress: https://en.support.wordpress.com/our-dmca-process/

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/dmca

Evernote: https://evernote.com/intl/nl/legal/ip-compliance

Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/454951664593304

Blogger: https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/208282075858952

Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/forms/dmca

Fill in the required forms and DO read what you fill in. This can be a very serious process but fill in everything to the best of your ability. Do realize that you have to prove that you are the owner and creator of the work and you will have to provide permalinks to the stolen content and the original work. This codex entry of WordPress explains a bit better what permalinks are: https://codex.wordpress.org/Settings_Permalinks_Screen

After you fill in the required forms, you have to play the waiting game. Some requests can be taken care off in a few hours, others can take up to a week! Be patient and if further theft occurs, make a new DMCA Take Down.

Also, speaking from experience here, be as complete as possible. If a blog copied 53 of your articles, to provide 53 links WITH proof (original source) to avoid having to make a secondary DMCA.

Add in the DMCA comment box if the account also breaks other rules posted in the terms of service. In one case, I was able to get the account suspended without a DMCA request but with proving the blog was spamming and using an automated bot to post content to their account. This was enough for a certain company to suspend the theft from their site and fully remove it.

Now, onto the second part of this article. What if your content is stolen by a hosted WordPress blog? Well, first of all, you need to know the basics of how IP addressing and web hosting work.

Here is some help to get you started: TCP/IP explained, IP explained, DNS explained, how website hosting works, and WHOIS explained.

I’m not saying here that you need to be an expert in computers or internet technology to deal with this. If you don’t know what you are doing, please ask help at people who know more about computers and know more about networking.

First of all, do a WHOIS search on the offending blog. If the website is hosted by a company, you will get an abuse address. Before you mail this address, do check out the website of the hoster. If the abuse mail you got from the WHOIS search is for example:

abuse@thisisanexample.com

Go to “thisisanexample.com” The part behind the “@” is usually the website of the hoster. If not, google that email or part of that email.

Look at the terms and conditions of the hoster and act accordingly. If they have a live helpdesk, talk to the helpdesk and ask them what to do. Also, they can confirm if the website is hosted on their servers or not.

Mostly these mail addresses are in the lines of “abuse@hostname.com” or “legal@hostname.com”.

When looking in their Terms of Service, look at what they require from you for a DMCA take-down request or a take-down request. Provide the needed information to company and hope for the best.

Now, I had the bad luck that addresses that WHOIS gave me for the self-hosted blog wasn’t the host of the website but the owner of the domain. Now, the trick here is, either look at the name servers of the domain (mostly ns.hostname.region) or open “CMD” on a Windows computer and launch the following command.

“tracert website.com”

Replace “website.com” with the offending website. More often than note, the last trace will spit out the IP of the website and the hoster.

If this is still not helping, abuse pingbacks. Yes, I’m finally going to talk about it. When you get a pingback from another website, you usually receive an email. Guess what, the IP address of the stealing website is at the bottom of the email.

Use the IP address you get from the email to further do WHOIS searches and this is how I found the actual host of the website which kept stealing from me. So, do link articles you wrote so you have some pingbacks. If the theft bot steals your content and forgets to either disable the option and/or forgets to remove those links, you have their IP. I call it “pingback trap”. And it worked twice on the theft bot.

So, I found out who was hosting this thieving website, I mailed the helpdesk of the hoster and they forwarded me to their legal team and voila, the website is now being taken care off.

Final pieces of advice

If your and other people their work is stolen from a website, do content the other bloggers and writers. In my battle to take down the stolen content, I had two blogs contact me back and we agreed to all put in a DMCA takedown notice. Not too long after, the website was gone.

Do realize that taking down stolen content can eat hours of your time. Keep a journal or notes of what you did and who you contacted for what. Otherwise, this can become a big mess. Don’t get demotivated from this.

Do warn other bloggers about the theft. The action I took was the PSA Drakulus and I wrote together. The support from other bloggers can be so uplifting. All the reblogs and people lending an ear to vent out your frustration can help quite a lot.

If you really want to protect yourself and your blog from theft, don’t let this be the last article you read about it. I read a lot of articles and watched hours of YouTube videos on this subject to learn from what others did. I also talked to other content creators what they did and how they took down the stolen content.

So, there. That’s all the advice I can give. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed and learned something from reading this article as much as I enjoyed and learned from writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

This post has been written by NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog. This post is written to spread information about his experiences with content theft. NekoJonez isn’t a lawyer and please; if needed to seek legal advice. I’m not responsible if you don’t do your research or don’t read something for the consequences.

PS: if you need any help on content theft, feel free to contact me. I’ll try and do my best in helping you whereever I can.

Creative Christmas #9 – Holiday Gameplay

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Today in the collab with LaterLevels, I have to answer another question. A question in a series called “Creative Christmas” and I still don’t have a theme for my articles yet. So, what should I do? Should I just give up finding a theme or should I keep looking? Maybe I should sit down on the sofa and think about it… Perhaps a great idea will come to me. But, I think better if I play a game. So, it might be a great idea that I take this controller and start playing this game. What was the question today again?

 The presents have been opened and dinner has been eaten, so you’ve got a bit of time for gaming while Gran is snoozing on the sofa. What’s the best video game to play during the holidays?

wargamesSo, what’s the best game to play during the holidays? Well, I prefer longer games to play during holidays. Games that can take you a couple of hours or days to complete. If you would finish a game too soon, what else should you play during the holidays?

In the past, I used to play one game and fully devote my time to it. Even when I had such a big collection, I wanted to see everything that game had to offer before I went to the next one. Nowadays, I play a lot of different games in a week. That has two reasons, first of all, I like the variation in what I play in a week. One day I feel like playing an RPG game and another day I more like playing a puzzle game.

So, what game can hold you over during the holidays? Here is a list of games that can be great time wasters to play during the holidays.

One,  a sandbox game like Minecraft or Terraria. Since these games have a randomly generated world, there is always something new to discover. Personally, I prefer Minecraft over Terreria, since I enjoy the more relaxed focus of Minecraft compared to the bosses and such in Terreria. I’m not saying that Terreria is bad in any sense of the word, I enjoy Minecraft more.

817pmfOZsTL._SL1500_.jpgTwo, an RTS game like Age Of Empires III or Europa Universalis IV. I can enjoy myself a lot of rounds in RTS games. Every time I choose a different nation to play with, the game will go completely differently. Even when I choose the same nation twice. I really enjoy the gameplay of RTS games, even while I’m not the best in the combat system. I’m also unable to beat the AI at the harder difficulties. But, honestly, I don’t really care. I’m enjoying myself and that’s all that counts.

Three, an (open world) RPG. It speaks for itself that an (open world) RPG can give you hours upon hours of fun. I’m talking about RPG’s that have multiple endings like Stella Glow or Mass Effect. But, games where the focus is more on the open world also count in this category like Breath of the Wild or Fallout.

Four, party games like Mario Party or Mario Kart. I mean, do I even need to explain myself here? Games that you play while you are together with your family and/or friends?

I think I could make this list a lot longer, but the question is: “what’s the best game to play during the holiday season.” I thought about it for a while, and to be honest, I think there isn’t one single game that fits the bill perfectly.

I use the holidays as a way to either catch up with my backlog or to have long playing sessions of games I wanted to complete.

Also, the answer changes each holiday season I think. There are a few games I replay each and every year because the nostalgia is just too strong. Games like Phantom Hourglass, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine and the Zelda Oracle games are perfect examples.

You know, this will sound extremely cheesy, but I think it’s best that you play a game that you enjoy and can relax with. The holiday season is a time to be happy and relax. Even when it’s together with family and/or friends. Just make amazing new memories and perhaps you will be able to find that one game you can play during the holiday season. The game that can have that kind of a special meaning to you.

So, that’s my answer. Told you it would sound cheesy. I do hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

 

First Impression: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katerielle and the Millonaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) ~ Miss Layton

layton lady katrielle mystery journey.jpgWikipedia page

To be honest, when I first heard about the release of this game, I thought that Level5 was going to port the Android spin-off Layton Brothers to the 3DS. Since it has a similar concept. A team that solves smaller cases as a detective and try to solve crimes. Yet, to my surprise, the story of this game goes about the daughter of the famous professor Layton, named Katrielle. While the game first released on mobile devices, I played the 3DS version. I’m used to be playing Professor Layton games on the 3DS, so why change that if I knew that a 3DS version was coming. Since I haven’t played the mobile version, that means I won’t be talking about it in my first impression here either. So, I think it’s time that I talk about this game, is it a good entry into the Layton franchise or is it a spin-off that should only exist one time? As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

It’s Miss Layton now

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-01.jpgIn this game, you play as Katrielle, Layton’s daughter. She just opened a mystery solving shop in London and she is awaiting her first mysteries to solve. Her motto is “any mystery solved”. Together with her assistant named Ernest, you come across a talking dog. Katrielle gives the talking dog a name, Sherl. Yes, as a reference to Sherlock Holmes. The strange thing is that not everybody can hear Sherl talking. Katrielle’s first mystery is trying to solve why that is. Yet, it doesn’t take long before the first case reveals itself and Katrielle gets distracted by solving that. Not too soon after, Katrielle, Ernest, and Sherl go on different adventures to solve cases.

The writing in this game is very lighthearted and a joy to read. I really enjoy how Katrielle does anything for food, how Ernest is the clumsy romantic and Sherl the dog that knows a lot about how humans live their daily lives. The story can take itself seriously when it needs to, but overall, this is a less serious entry into the series compared to the previous games in the series. I’m currently at the 5th case in the game, so it’s possible that it can change. But, we shall see. The voice acting on the characters is also amazing. I think that the cast did an amazing job voicing these characters and make them come to life. A gold star for that!

I do have one minor complaint about the naming of certain characters in the game. The word puns in some cases made me cringe a bit. They didn’t feel creative, they felt forced in. Like, there was a couple where the lady was called Vic and the male called Tim. There were a bit more names like that and it didn’t click with me. I felt that more day-to-day names like Marc, William, Sara, Marian would be fitted better.

The story is structured in such a way that it more resembles a Saturday morning anime. Each case doesn’t take too long to solve, but each case has a nice start, middle and finale. During the case, you gather clues, that you have to fit in a puzzle. While this puzzle is extremely easy to make, I think it’s a step up from the previous Layton games since it’s more than a button that unlocks in a menu.

I do have one complaint about the story actually. I feel like the focus on the backstory of Sherl is a bit too much pushed to the background in the first cases. For real, the twist the game starts with about Sherl didn’t go anywhere substantial in the first four cases. If it did, I must have missed it.

Layton at its core

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-02While this game has a different main cast, the gameplay of this game is still the usual Layton gameplay at its core. In this game, you solve brain teasers and puzzles to get information from people. There are over 150 puzzles in this game. While you don’t have to solve them all to beat the game, there are some points in the game where you need to solve a certain amount of puzzles in order to progress. In this case, the game will clearly state how many you need to solve.

As I said earlier, this game is all about solving mysteries and finding clues to solve that mystery. Like I said before, the game is pretty lighthearted, so the mysteries aren’t; well how shall I put it? A missing pet or a missing part of a movie, that is the two of the first four cases. Yeah, I think that explains itself. So, you have to explore the London to find clues to what happened and how to solve the case.

While you are exploring, you can go to various locations and each location has various things to do. Exploration is just traveling from screen to screen. Sometimes you will have to ride a bike to another remote location, but that is about it. Also, you can only go to screens you unlocked. What I mean by this is that when for example, a lady on street tells you that your client lives a bit more down the road, the map opens up to that location.

This is how exploration always worked in the Layton games. Yet, you can do a lot on each screen. You can find hidden collectibles or puzzles, hint coins, progress the story or get interesting commentary about the object you tapped on. I really advise you to look at each screen with a lot of attention since all those things can be handy in solving the future cases. Especially the hint coins, if you can collect them, that’s always a great idea.

If you have played Layton games before, most hiding spots of the hint coins won’t be a surprise to you. Otherwise, try to tap on everything and it won’t take long before you will start to understand how this whole system works. So, why are these hint coins so handy? Well, let me tell you. You can get a hint when you are stuck in solving a brain teaser. Believe me, some will get you stumped and make you think. A great advice from me is to have a pen and notebook handy and maybe a calculator too.

While you can take notes and draw on the touchscreen while you solve the puzzle, I always felt that this system didn’t work flawlessly. If you want to input an answer, you have to exit out of your notes. In addition to that, I love writing my thoughts more on paper or on a bigger screen than the 3DS’s screen to solve puzzles.

The puzzles that you can solve in this game will range from math riddles to mazes you will have to solve. If you are stuck, don’t hesitate to think outside of the box. Since a lot of answers will simpler then you think. Something I didn’t like about this game is something that Level5 stopped doing in the previous entry in the Layton series. In the first games in the series, they explained the answer. In this game, they don’t always do that. So, when I didn’t understand why I had to answer in a certain way, I was disappointed to see a simple screen saying “you do it!” and nothing more.

Compared to previous Layton games, this game has also some side quests you can perform. During your exploration, you come across various characters who give you a new puzzle that is saved in Katrielle’s trunk. Like a puzzle where you need to solve a maze with the least amount of steps and finding the perfect meal with a cryptic description. Actually, I wouldn’t call them side quests, I think a better name is a side activity or a side puzzle.

Each puzzle is worth a certain amount of picards. The side puzzles aren’t worth any picards. So, what do these picards do? Well, the more you earn, the more bonus material you unlock after finishing the game. So, try to gain as much picards if you can. Since, if you give a wrong answer to a puzzle, the number of picards you earn from that puzzle drop. Keep that in mind if you want to unlock everything.

Visual eye-candy

lady layton 2.jpgThe visual presentation of this game is just amazing. This game has some amazing artwork and is a real piece of visual eye-candy to look at. While the game doesn’t use 3D that often, or at all, I think I can’t decide which art style I like the best for the game. The overall game is 2D, but the character models are rendered in 3D. While in cutscenes, everything is in 2D. I think the screenshots will explain it better than I can with words.

But, there is one thing that I didn’t like about the presentation and that are the cutscenes. To be honest, most cutscenes are just too short. Some cutscenes aren’t longer than one sneeze and blowing your nose. This is a shame since the cutscenes look so well made. I really wish there were longer cutscenes to enjoy. I feel that they are just an afterthought, while they feel like a nice reward for finding a breakthrough or solving the case.

The music for this game is enjoyable as well. The soundtrack isn’t one where I would listen to when I’m doing other things, but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game and I have no complaints about that. The music really fits the Layton universe perfectly, if you didn’t know better, you would say that it’s a soundtrack from another Layton game earlier in the series. The sound design also feels right at home. While there aren’t too many sound effects in the game, when they are used, they are used to give the world a bit more life or the story a bit more punch.

Like previous Layton games, this game also has daily puzzles. But this time, I feel that the reward is better for solving them. As you might know, I’m a game collector and I love seeing artwork from the games I played. So, when you solve a daily puzzle, you will get museum points. If you get 100 museum points, you can unlock artwork from any of the previous titles. This is such a great feature since it pulls on my nostalgic strings so much. To be honest, I spend a lot of time-solving the daily puzzles. I really enjoy solving most of them and I wish that time went a bit faster so I could receive my puzzles a bit faster.

While most of the issues I have with the game are minor, I think this game is still a great game. Some issues I have with the game or some minor, they became a nitpick. For example, I really liked how in previous games, each save slot had a different character from the main cast presenting it. In this game, it’s Katrielle for all three. Yeah, major nitpick right there.

Another minor issue that I have are some parts of the controls. While you can use the “A” button, and strangely enough the arrow buttons, to continue dialogues; you can’t use the psychical buttons for anything else. Besides solving some puzzles. Everything is done using the touchscreen. I really miss some shortcut keys. Like using the circle button to move your looking glass around or the shoulder buttons to open the movement menu or a button to open the trunk like “Y” for example. That would be a great addition.

Then again, there are things in the game I really like. Like how you can decorate the mystery solving office to how you want. Changing the Fengshui if you want. Depending on how many puzzles you solve, you get a ticket to “buy” a new item to change up the decoration of your office.

That isn’t the only thing you can change, there are also outfits for Katrielle you can buy. Some even as DLC for a small fee. While they have only a visual purpose and nothing else, the ones you can buy as DLC have an additional puzzle for you to solve.

About the costumes, there is one minor flaw I have to bring up. You can change Katrielle’s costume at any time you want. Yet, I noticed that Katrielle wears special outfits during other chapters. For example, in one chapter she dresses up in a nice dress since she is going out to see a movie with Ernest. If you exit that case and go to a different case to find hint coins you missed, Katrielle is still wearing that special dress. This is a bit out of context in my eyes and shouldn’t happen. Oh well, only a minor complaint?

Oh yeah, you can go back to previous cases in order to find hint coins and puzzles you missed. The only minor complaint I have is that there is no indication when you missed another collectible in the case. Even an indication on the case brief screen would have been nice. Since, if you skipped over one collectible, have fun looking for it, since the game won’t help you there. On the other hand, I think it’s a great move that you can visit back and solve puzzles you haven’t solved or found and looking for hint coins you missed. The only tip the game gives you there is the screen you missed it on. So, have fun looking for what you missed.

So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game. While the game isn’t flawless at all, I think that the positives outweigh the negatives here. If you are still deciding if this game is for you, know that it’s a more lighthearted Layton game with the same atmosphere and gameplay but without Layton, Luke and the usual gang. This game has a completely new cast of characters. It’s a breath of fresh air for the series and I can’t wait to see where Level5 takes this. I would love to see Katrielle and Layton meet one day.

That is everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

 

First Impression: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U) ~ Festive Fighting

Tokyo mirage sessions.png

Official site

So, today is a day of celebration. It’s Christmas. So, let’s celebrate that with some festive fighting! For those who don’t know yet, this game is a crossover between Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem, in some weird hybrid way. Now, I have played Fire Emblem games in the past, but I haven’t played a lot of Shin Megami games. But, let me tell you, that isn’t a problem when you want to play this game. But, is this game worth your time and money to invest in or this is a game you should avoid as a bad concert? Well, let’s find out in this article. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

Mirage Masters

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The main character in this game is Itsuki Aoi. A young lad who was going to a concert with a friend of his. Actually, it was to see her perform.

His friend goes by the name of Tsubasa Oribe. She is in a competition and made it to one of the final rounds. When the winner gets announced, the presenter goes into a total crazy mode and starts attacking everybody together with weird creatures that came out of nowhere. When a portal appears in another dimension, where Tsubasa is sucked into, Itsuki gives chase and you find yourself in a strange world.

In there, you have to find your way through various labyrinths. It doesn’t take long before you meet a mirage. You start fighting alongside this mirage to conquer the strange world you are in now. After various things happened in the labyrinth, you find out that your friend, Touma Akagi, who wasn’t able to make it to the concert was in the same strange world as yourself. You rescue Tsubasa and escape. Now, Itsuki is a mirage master. Just like Tsubasa and Touma.

It doesn’t take long before you are picked up by a talent agency and Tsubasa’s dream of becoming an idol becomes true. Besides that, Itsuki has to undergo the same training as well. But, it doesn’t take long before even more portals to the strange other world appear and the gang must go inside to undo the world from harm of the strange force invading.

That’s everything I want to say about the story. So far, I’m at the final boss of the second chapter. And I have to admit, the story of this game has a real Saturday morning anime vibe over it. Each chapter is a story in itself while the overall story is progressed. This fits the game like a glove. It wraps up each chapter nicely while it progresses the main story just enough to have some more tension for the next chapter.

There is also a lot of voice acting in this game. Almost all of the dialogue during cutscenes is voice acted in Japanese. There is no English option. There are subtitles though and the Japanese voice acting is just amazing.

Since this game takes place in a more modern time, the characters talk a lot back and forth using their smartphones. The Wii U gamepad is the character’s smartphone. It’s impossible to play this game without the TV. This is somewhat of a bummer in my opinion. But, the Wii U gamepad screen has used a sort of a second screen like the Nintendo (3)DS to display the map or display more information on the screen.

Festive Fights

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Exploring the labyrinths reminds me a lot of the Etrain Odyssey series and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. This game is an RPG-Dungeon crawler.

The battle system has some unique surprised up its sleeve. At first, enemies can appear randomly during your exploration. You have a meter on the top left of your screen when an enemy is nearby. But, you don’t see the enemies itself roaming around, you see mirages roaming around.

These are different colored ghosts floating around that have a different color depending on what type of enemy they are. For example, red is your “normal” enemies and gold are the extremely rare enemies.

When you let them catch you, they get the first move. When you run into them, it’s a random chance who goes first. But, if you slash them and then run into them, you get the first move.

The battle themselves take place on a stage, with a crowd cheering you and the enemies on. If a weak spot can be hit, a session can be performed. This means that the allies can attack as well. Notice how I didn’t specify on how can do that in my previous sentence. Since both you and your enemies can do that.

So, that means, if you are facing off against a fire type enemy and one of your characters is weak to fire; well, prepare to defend that character and heal were needed since a session attack can hit pretty hard.

As a side note, this game doesn’t autosave. You get promoted here and there with the question if you want to save your game, but you can save anywhere and anytime outside of battles and cutscenes, by using the main menu.

So, session attacks. How do you know which enemy is weak against what? Well, as soon as you hit an enemy with a certain type of attack, the result will be noted down. On the gamepad, you can always see an overview of which enemy is weak for which attack.

Choose your fights wisely, since you can only enter three characters into combat. Something I really like is how every important character lays down on a grass field in the main menu.

Gimmicks and stuff

tokyo-mirage-sessions-fe-recensione-screenshot-08

So, each labyrinth has it’s own gimmick that fits the story perfectly. This adds a lot to the visual presentation of the game.

And I do have to say that I think this game looks amazing. The game is colorful and pleasing to the eyes and runs at a steady frame rate. I haven’t seen any slowdowns or notice any moments that the frames get dropped.

The animations are also nice to look at. While you can skip most of them, I don’t always skip them, since they are so pretty to look at. This game is just eye candy and I think that this is one of the game strong suits.

The soundtrack of this game is really great as well. Besides creating an amazing atmosphere, I also put the soundtrack in my playlist to listen to while I’m at my day job doing work. It’s that good to listen too. If this soundtrack comes out on CD, I would love to buy it. Since it would be amazing to have in my collection.

The sound design is pretty great as well. I love the sound references to Fire Emblem, when you level up, for example, that’s the sound effect used in Fire Emblem.

So far, I have mostly sung praises for this game. Is there something bad about this game? Well, there are a few things that I don’t like about this game. First of all, the difficulty curve can be a bit unforgiving.

I rarely skip fights while I’m playing an RPG, since I know if I do start skipping fights, my characters might not be strong enough to fight a final boss. But, sometimes a final boss has some extremely strong attack up its sleeve, that comes out of nowhere and destroys my party. There is grinding in this game and not the enjoyable type of grinding. In addition to that, I noticed that there isn’t a way to easily fully heal before a big boss fight happens. That’s a shame. So, stocking up on items is a good idea.

A second thing that I don’t like is how easy it is to get disoriented in the labyrinths. When I want to go somewhere, I’m not able to follow the map I can view on the Wii U gamepad. I wish it was a bit more clear which staircase led to where. An easy solution would have been, if you touch a stairway on the gamepad, you get taken to the stairway on the other floor.

A 3rd thing I highly dislike is how difficult it is to get the golden enemies to spawn, catch or defeat. While I know their locations, they are sometimes too quick to even have a chance of battling them and they tend to run away. I noticed that if they run away, you are unable to get them to spawn again while exploring that labyrinth. Exiting and entering back doesn’t always help.

A 4th thing I don’t like is nothing said in Japanese during the battles is subtitled. I feel like I’m missing out on interesting dialogue on puns because I can’t understand a word from what they are saying.

A 5th thing I dislike about this game is a nitpick actually. But, why is the main menu button “Y”? I had a few times I wanted to press “X” to attack and instead I pressed “Y” and opened the main menu. This could have been avoided when the main menu button was the “Start” button.

And the 6th and final thing that I dislike is how rare items are to heal your SP. You can’t even buy them in the shops for a crazy price. So, if you want to save your SP up for a boss fight, you will need to use the teleporters or save up those items.

In any case, besides those 6 issues I have with the game, I’m greatly enjoying my time with this game and I want to finish it. I can’t wait to see what the other chapters are going to throw at me and how the side quests will play out.

But for now, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Game Quicky: Uauim Challenge (PC) ~ The First Stages

Official website

Today I want to take a look at a game still a challenging game called U.A.U.I.M Challenge. The first version of this game released a month ago and the developer asked me to take a look at the game. So, that’s why we are here. In order to be able to review this game, the developer gave me a review code for this game. I played v0.5 for this review. Let me be clear on one thing, this article is my opinion about the current state of the game and is my opinion alone. As usual, feel free to post your opinion on the content of the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Background

So, before we continue, what is this game? This game is a pretty challenging top-down shooter. You can compare the gameplay to games like Galaga, 1942 and other games like that.

This game is being developed by one person. I have a lot of respect if you develop a game on your own. Even when you didn’t make everything yourself and you got some help in for example the creation of the music, still I have a lot of respect for you.

The “this is going in the right direction” things

Let me first talk about the good points of this game. I think that the sprite work is going in the right direction. While I wouldn’t call it 16bit, I remind me more of the old days of Atari and very early NES games.

If the enemies will get the same level of animation that your ship has, I have high hopes for the animations.

The controls work pretty well. I have only one nitpick. I think it’s quite strange how you are unable to pause the game using an XBOX controller. I really tried every button and I wasn’t able to pause the game. Oh well, thankfully the “ESC” button on my keyboard wasn’t too far from my reach. Also, thank the lord for auto-fire!

The game really delivers on its name. The game isn’t easy. Thankfully, with some practice, you can get further and further into the game. This game is all about memorization and knowing which ships come next. That’s why I’m so glad I have infinite continues.

Something I really like in this game is the different “skins” you have in the game. You can change the “CRT mode” in the game to five different modes and you can change the brightness of the game by just a button press. As a retro game enthusiast and collector, I’m really happy that things like this find their way into modern games.

The “needs more development and polish” things

The scoring system needs some polishing. First of all, I would love to see enemies display their score value when they die. Like right after they die, you quickly see how much points you got from killing them.

Secondly, it would be nice if there was a high score table with a date when you reached said score. Something that would be even more awesome if you had the ability to share this online.

And finally, I think that the “High-score” system is bugged out. Each time I start a new game or use a continue, the player score resets and the high score too. That’s something the developer should take a look at.

While the UI in this game is pretty decent, I was pretty close to putting it in the good department until I reached the section you see in this screenshot above this paragraph. It’s really hard to read the score when you use a dark blue colour on a purple background. I think it would be easier to read if you make it white instead of blue. In addition to that, I think it would be pretty helpful if you made the font in the main menu a bit bigger. When I wasn’t sitting close to my screen, I wasn’t able to read it very well.

One minor detail that you should add is a “Are you sure you want to quit” dialogue when a player selects the quit button.

While I was able to arm myself with a bomb, I was unable to use it or to figure out how it works. But this will be most likely added in a future release of the game. It would be interesting if some rare enemies drop more bombs.

There are three things that could improve for the future versions of this game. The first thing that I would focus on is the soundtrack. To be honest, I really didn’t like the music. The sound effects are fine, the little jingle that plays when you start the first level isn’t good.

The game could use some more sound effects, to be honest. It would be helpful for the player when the special flame arrows are shot, a special sound effect plays.

The second thing that I didn’t like too much about this game is some wallpapers. I think that the current assets that are being used don’t fit the theme at all. The game gives off a space/industrial vibe to me and most of the backgrounds are more generic ones. Keep the backgrounds a bit more consistent.

The third and final thing that I would change is the difficulty curve. While the game is supposed to be challenging, I had a long time to pass the first level and I got pretty frustrated and stopped playing the game for a few times. I think this game could benefit from more gradual build up instead of being extremely hard from the first few minutes.

The engine

If I may be honest, I think that this game is held back by the engine it’s programmed in. When I talked with the developer about the first version of the article, he told me that various things I recommended weren’t possible with the engine.

I think that the developer has some nice ideas that are present in this title, but I think it would be better if the developer used another engine that allowed more freedom. Something like YoYo GameMaker or Construct.

I think that this game can become a better game if it would be rebuilt in an engine where the developer has more freedom to control more elements of the game.

Conclusion

At this moment in time, the game is 3$.

At its current state, the game is pretty rough and needs more polishing before I can recommend it to other players.

But, I think it would be a nice idea to take a look at this game and give your feedback to the developer. Since, I think that this game can become a nice indie title if it gets some more development and gets a bit more polished up.

If you are interested in what you have seen and read, go ahead and buy yourself a copy from the official website. Otherwise, wait a few months until the game got some more development and give a try again then.

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

NekoJonez’s December 2017 Update

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It’s almost the end of the year, so it’s almost time to wrap up 2017 here in my blog. Quite an eventful year it has been, from getting a price for best gaming blog of 2017 to the Zelda project. Those are just two of the big things that happened to my blog. But, in today’s article, I want to let you know what’s going to happen for the rest of December and what I’m planning for 2018. So, it’s update time! 

Quick reflection on 2017

This past year was an eventful year for me. 2016 was an amazing year for me personally, a year that won’t be easily topped. But 2017 brought only more interesting things to my life and my blog, I can say that this was quite a successful year.

Thanks to the retrospective Zelda project and winning the prize for best gaming blog of 2017, according to MarketInspector; I can even prove the claim I made in my latest sentence.

Besides those two things, I wonder, what do you guys think were my best moments in 2017? I loved the collaborations I did with other bloggers and the games that the devs asked me to play. I’m not going to write a reflection post on 2017, apart from one article I’ll talk about later. Since I think that the picks for “my best moments of 2017” aren’t always what the people think what “my best moments of 2017” are. So, I’m asking you guys. What did you like the most about me and my blog in 2017? I’m curious about the answers already.

I got, even more, traffic to my blog this year when I compare it to 2016. But, I’m inching closer to beating my biggest traffic record so far. I got 13,000 views in 2015. This year, so far, I got 12,000 views. So, what am I planning to get the previous record broken; well, here are my plans for the remainder of 2017.

What can you expect from me?

If you aren’t following me on Twitter, @NekoJonez, then this is going to be news for you. If you are following me, some of these things might be familiar to you.

First of all, I’m going to write an article about my favorite 10 games I played in 2017. Remember, these are the games I played in 2017 and not perse the games that were released in 2017. The only big rule I have on my list is that I have to start playing the game in 2017. If I started to play the game in 2016, the game isn’t going to get on my list.

Unlike the previous times, I wrote this article, I’m currently thinking about making them one article instead of a two-parter. Believe me, I had a difficult time putting this list together. Since I played so many great games, I honestly lost count.

Apart from that, I have 6 requests planned for December 2017. What do I mean by this? Well, as some of you know, I do take requests from developers to test out their game and write an article about it.

There are also a few games I wanted to talk about before the year ends. Those are another 6 on my list.

In addition to the usual two articles at the end of the year, I think I can say that if everything goes right, I might be able to publish an article each and every day. Apart from when there are delays.

But wait, there is more! I’m doing a collaboration with LaterLevels for Christmas. In this collab, I will also publish an article daily starting from the 19th of December.

Yes, this means that you will get a double article each and every day of December apart from the 25th and the 26th where it will be only one article. Thank the lord that I have two weeks off from work otherwise I might not be able to pull this off.

If anything changes or when I get too busy in my personal life, I’ll post a tweet for sure. So, if you don’t see the articles appear on a day, check my twitter, I’ll say why I wasn’t able too.

That said, December will be quite busy and get a lot of content on my blog. But, what will have 2018 in store? Let me tell you.

Looking forward to 2018

In 2018, I’ll start a project where I “clean up my blog”. And what I do mean with this? First of all, from time to time, I’ll clean up broken images & links from my articles. In addition to that, I’ll take out typo’s in older articles too.

Secondly, I’m planning to merge a few of my categories and archiving categories I’m not going to use anymore. Like articles, I don’t enjoy writing anymore. This means that my overview pages will get an overhaul as well.

This will happen during my usual weekly article schedule. Speaking about that, it’s possible that I publish more press kits in 2018. Articles that I haven’t written myself have the word publishing in the title. I’ll try and do my best that these articles will never replace the article I write at the end of every week.

Besides that, I’m planning to do more collabs in 2018. I’ll always tweet out when a collab on another blog happens, so that will be another reason why you should follow me on Twitter. In addition to that, I’ll be working on an overview page where all content is displayed I wrote on other blogs.

I have a few special things planned for my blog and my personal life in 2018; so I can’t wait to talk about them. Buuuuut; I don’t want to reveal too much, so stay tuned for my update articles and my Twitter for that.

It’s possible that I take a week or two off from writing in the first week(s) of January since December is going to be so hectic.

Wrapping up

Thank you so much for visiting my blog in 2017. I hope you had a great time here and I can’t thank you and my other blogger friends enough for the support and experiences you all gave me in 2017.

I know it’s quite cliché to talk about this, but the recent growth I got and all the interaction with you guys is the reason why I keep doing this and I enjoy it an awful lot. If you ever have an idea/suggestion for my blog, just talk to me. I open to suggestions.

This article is going on for long enough. Thank you so much for reading and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog. Have a great rest of your day and until then, take care!

(Oh, and before I forget; HAPPY HOLIDAYS!)

Review: A Hat In Time (PC – Steam) ~ Time Pieces Everywhere

Ahatintime.jpgOfficial website

I could start this introduction to this game with talking about how this game took a long time to develop, how this game started on Kickstarter. Yet, that wouldn’t be needed, since that’s a well-known fact about this game. While I have beaten the game, I haven’t 100% it. I’m pretty close, but that doesn’t stop me from writing a review of this game. I played this game on PC, using a wireless XBOX360 controller. So, I hope you are ready to dive into this game since I’m ready to review it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

“Mafia is here to collect”

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In this game, you play as Hat Kid. She is flying home in her spaceship. When she gets into trouble with a mafia dude messing with her spaceship, Hat Kid’s timepieces drop down to the planet below. It’s your goal to find them and collect them all so you can get back home.

The main story of this game is really light-hearted, but it does the job pretty well. The writing of the characters is just amazing. All the characters you encounter on your journey are pretty memorable.

In addition to that, the voice acting is just perfect. Sometimes I really felt that these characters were real. The voice actors may pat themselves on the back for this. I really enjoyed that part of the game.

The story made me laugh several times and made me smile over and over again. The charm and attention to detail in this game is just astounding. In one outdoor level, rain is falling. And Hat Kit is wearing a raincoat in that level.

While the final boss shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who played the first few levels of the first world, the way how the ending is handled and the motivations of the characters wraps up the game nicely. There was even a moment I had to pause the game and put my controller down. The game had hit a personal chord with me. I’m not going to explain why and how to avoid spoiling the end but it’s just great.

Something I really like about this game is how no cutscene drags on for too long. You are right into the gameplay after a few minutes. This is a feeling a lot of other reviewers share with me.

Pretty worlds

A Hat in Time2I could continue to talk for quite a while about the writing, but a review of a game should talk about more than just that. The writing brings so much charm to the game just like the visual presentation. The game just is eye-candy.

The atmosphere that’s created with the visuals is just amazing to look at. I had several moments where I was in awe just finding little secrets in Mafia Town. The world feels alive. Just like the writing, the visual presentation adds so much charm and personality to the game.

Something I only noticed when I watched Nitrorad’s video about A Hat in Time was the different idle animations Hat Kid has. She is so cute and adorable. If I could, I would love to have her in my friend circle without a doubt.

So, the visual presentation, animation, and writing all help build an amazing world. While there are only 4-6 worlds in the game currently, depending if you count the final boss level and the hub or not. This might seem that the game is rather short, and it is.

The game can be beaten in one day if you know what you are doing. Yet, there are rumors floating around that there is more content coming in the future. I also heard that this content is going to be free. Yes, two new free worlds! I can’t wait to play them. If you can’t wait, there is a Steam Workshop and mod support in this game. So, you can play a lot of player created content to ease the wait.

I’m playing this game casually and taking my time with it. I’m taking everything in and think I can complete the game in 20 hours. But, I don’t want the game to be over. I just want to continue to run around in the unique worlds and explore each level as much as I can.

The theming of each world is just amazing. While a lot of people say that their favorite world is the 2nd world, the Bird Studio world, I have to disagree. In that world, there is too much focus on stealth. A game mechanic I don’t really enjoy. I really loved the 3rd world. The more creepy world. Something just clicked more with me in that world.

I can’t put my finger on just why, but maybe the music has to do with it. The soundtrack and sound design of this game are just wonderful. I even bought the soundtrack and I put it on my phone in my day-to-day playlist. It’s that good.

This game is mostly an adventure/platformer game in the style of Super Mario 64/Mario Sunshine. For those games, you need great control or otherwise, you won’t be able to fully enjoy this game. For no special reason, I started playing this game with a controller and to be honest, it clicked. While I think you would enjoy this game with mouse & keyboard, I think that playing with a controller is the way to go for this game.

The attention to detail in the game continues with the controller actually. I have seen so many games where when you boot it with a controller, keyboard input is disabled. This isn’t the case in this game. Also, when you boot the game with a controller and press a key on your keyboard, the on-screen button prompts change to the keyboard layout and give a quick pop-up at the side: “new input found: keyboard”. That’s a great feature.

The control is really great for this game. The only thing I had to get used to is the wall jump mechanic. Hat Kid can climb a little bit up instead of sliding down. But, in order for this to happen, you have to press the button to move forward. The times I pressed the jump button and fall to my doom… Well, it happened more often then I dare to admit.

While I had an issue here and there with Hat Kid not being able to jump when she is under a ceiling, the patch that arrived earlier this week fixed a lot of those instances. Whenever you report a problem, the community is really helpful to try and solve it. Also, the developer actively reads the Steam Forums and tries to create a patch as soon as they can. I wish more developers did this.

The UI of this game is just excellent. I really enjoy how simple and to the point the UI is. I have nothing more to say about that.

What is this game exactly?

HatinTime3

So, I have been praising this game to the heavens and I haven’t talked about what you have to do this in this game. Well, let me fix that.

If you know how Super Mario 64 works, you know how A Hat In Time plays, somewhat. You have 4 different worlds that feature different levels each. In each level, you have a certain goal to achieve and your reward for completion is a timepiece. In some levels, you can also find a time rift. These bring you to special raw platforming stages that reward you in the end with a timepiece. You will have to find these time rifts since you only get a photo of the area where it is, so you will to explore the world to find the timepiece.

A minor complaint I want to bring up is that when you find a time rift and find the timepiece, you go back to the hub. The issue here is that you aren’t able to return to the world you were in, where you found the timepiece. And one time, I nearly finished a level and I hit a time rift by accident. For those curious, it was the lava level in Mafia Town.

Apart from each world having a unique theme, they also have unique gameplay styles. For example, in the 2nd world, there is more focus on stealth. While in the 3rd world, you have to do chores for the demon of the forest.

I really like the diversity the game brings to the table. Each world and level puts your skills to the test and challenges you with great challenges. You will have to use all your hat abilities multiple times. I felt that nothing went underused in this game.

I really enjoyed collecting the yarn balls to craft new hats. I really enjoyed collecting the green gems to buy new badges to further expand Hat Kit her skill set. You even have a badge that makes the game even harder, one that gives you one health point for example. You can quickly change between hats. Also, time slows down when you switch between hats.

Speaking of challenge, the part that gave me the most challenge were the bosses of this game. They are all unique and have different attack patterns. Something I recommend that you do when you are stuck with a boss is trying to figure out their patterns as soon as you can.

This game isn’t too challenging. The penalty for dying is starting the stage over from the last checkpoint. And the game is very forgiving with health pickups littered all over the stages.

All in all, there is a lot to experience in A Hat In Time. The gameplay offers quite a lot and I can’t wait to see what the end worlds will offer. I think it would be cool if we have an Egyptian or Greek themed world. But, we will have to wait and see until more information is released.

Another big positive of this game is that the game only costs 28€ here in Europe. Believe me, I find this really cheap for the content you get.

Now, is this game perfect? So far, I have sung a lot of praises about this game and I haven’t mentioned anything negative about this game apart from the game’s short length and the nitpick about time rifts.

One flaw this game has is that the camera can be really annoying to control. Something a lot of other reviewers mentioned as well. I do have to agree with them, the camera can be annoying sometimes. But, it works amazingly more often than not.

Another flaw is how underdeveloped the time rift tokens are. You find them in hard to reach or hidden places. You can use three of them to spin a roulette wheel for new visual costumes/colors/remixes of songs. Now, when you exit out of the roulette wheel without picking a price, you lose your rift tokens. Besides that, when you want to unlock everything, you can’t. Since there are more things you can unlock than there are rift tokens.

I also don’t like how the game completion percentage only tracks the number of timepieces you have. It would be cooler if it also counted if you have unlocked all the hats and things like that.

The only minor issue I have with the UI is the fact that sometimes it didn’t display when I reached a checkpoint in the game. It didn’t happen once or twice, and it’s a real bummer.

One of the biggest things that annoyed me in my playthroughs is the hat changing. Now, this is a minor flaw and a nitpick; but it’s something I would love to see changed. Sometimes, when I quickly changed a hat while I was using the controller, the game didn’t register it. I have to wait a little bit longer before the hat is changed. Now, this issue isn’t present when you play with a mouse and keyboard since you see a visual line going to the hat when it’s selected. This isn’t present when you are playing with a controller.

Here is another nitpick. When you alt+tab out of the game, the music is still playing.

The biggest issue is the occasional glitch in this game. There are a few things that bug out, like Hat Kid getting stuck on walls while she uses her grappling hook but these things are easy to recover from. Also, with the frequent updates, a lot of these bugs are fixed as long as you report them.

But, I think you see my point here. The issues with the game aren’t game breaking or made me enjoy the game less. I do admit that the game isn’t flawless, but the flaws that are present are more minor problems.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. There are a few features and things I left out this review about this game. It’s time to give my final thoughts on this game in the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-There are some occasional moments where the game glitches out.

-Switching hats with a controller don’t always work when you do it quickly.

-The camera can cause some issues here and there.

-The game is way too short in its current condition.

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Fun and lighthearted story.

+ Great level design.

+ Amazing variety.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Apart from Super Mario 64, I haven’t played a lot of games in this style. When Yooka Laylee released earlier this year to mediocre reviews, I didn’t have a high expectation for this game.

After a few minutes of playing this game, I was hooked. The charm and atmosphere of this game are just so addictive. I really enjoyed my time with this game. A Hat In Time has grown on me. I wish I did back the Kickstarter for this game back in 2013.

This game is so much fun to play and I can’t wait to fully complete this game. After I have beaten the game, one thing is for sure, I’m going to try out the community created mods and wait for the new worlds to arrive.

This game is one of the best games I have played in 2017. The amount of effort this small time put into this game is just mind-blowing. This game has no major flaws and it comes highly recommended from me.

While some people would say that this game does nothing innovative, I think you shouldn’t hold it against this game. It’s clear that this game is highly inspired by other titles but it’s a great homage and it does everything in such an amazing execution.

The game has flaws, yes. But, the flaws didn’t stop me from enjoying the game an awful lot.

Thank you Gears For Breakfast for delivering such an amazing game and I can’t wait to see where you take this game. I also hope you guys are also thinking about either more worlds or a sequel since I’m hungry for more Hat in Time! You have put a smile on my face from beginning to end.

That was everything! Thank you so much 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 a have a great rest of your day!

Score: 100/100

Gamers Thoughts: From idea to article

BannerBlog3Today, it’s time to talk about something else. In the past, I have written a few articles on the gaming industry and the blogging world. Today, I’m going to tell you what before I click on the “Publish” button. Yup, let’s talk about the steps I take to create an article for this blog. This is my current process, so things might change in the future. But it might be interesting to share it, no?  Also, to avoid making this article too complicated, I’m only going to talk about how I write my gaming articles like my first impressions, reviews or game quickies. Feel free to leave your methods in the comment section below.

Phase 1: Picking the game

 

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So, how do I choose a game to review? Well, to answer that question, I should answer how do I choose which game to play?

Let’s get the easiest part of the answer out of the way first. Sometimes, I get a mail from a developer asking me to take a look at their game. Then, some emails happen. We discuss what the article should be about and what things I can or can’t mention. I have to stress that I hate censoring. If I’m not always to express my full honest opinion, I’m not going to write the article. Since I think that lying to the readers of the article is a bad idea. On this blog, I always express my honest opinion on the games I play, so that would be too much out of character.

So, the more difficult part of the answer is when I don’t get a mail from the developer to take a look at their game. So, what happens then? In my free time, I play a lot of games and when I find a game that interests me, I write it down on a list. It’s text document in my cloud storage so, I can access it at anytime and anywhere.

While I make schedules for my blog, I’m truly terrible at following them. The reasons for that are emails from developers that I want to first or games that interest me and that I want to write about that aren’t on the schedule. In very rare occasions, I choose the game that I’m going to write about on Sunday morning and then I play the game all day. That happened a few times already.

That’s why I rarely to never share my schedule. Since I know it can change at any moment. Not only thanks to emails from developers but you can never predict life. Also, I think I’m more creative when I don’t plan out my articles too much. Apart from deadlines or agreements with developers, I rarely plan a date for an article.

Phase 2: Playing the game & analyzing it.

This phase speaks for itself. I start playing the game and write down some notes on my phone or tablet. In the past, I wrote everything down. Each thing that could make it in the article was written down.

I stopped doing that. Since I noticed that I didn’t use all my notes to write the article. Also, it broke the immersion and my focus on the game when I had to take notes.

So, what I do for notes now, is write down the things that I shouldn’t forget about the game. And let me tell you when you do this for a few years like I have, you are able to write articles without taking notes sometimes. So hear me out on this, I think that a review or a first impression should be a reflection of your experience. If you are unable to remember some negative aspects like an annoying puzzle or two, a few boring levels or a strange dialogue… I don’t think it’s worth mentioning in an article. But, I’ll go more in-depth about that later in this article.

Last year, I wrote an article where I talked a bit more about this phase. I wrote about how I analyze a game. So, here are a few things I didn’t mention in that article. I’m very picky when it comes to UI. I love it when I don’t have to go through five different menus when I know it would be possible in two menus. If you have a clear menu system, it’s more inviting to the player.

I’m very picky when it comes to UI. I love it when I don’t have to go through five different menus when I know it would be possible in two menus. If you have a clear menu system, it’s more inviting to the player.

I honestly enjoy tutorials to a certain extent. What I mean is that I enjoy tutorials when it explains the basics of the game without holding your hand too much. For example, that the explanation of controls is a sign you choose to read. But, when you have already played the game in the past or when you understand the game mechanics already, you can skip them without an issue.

For how long should you play a game before you can write an article about it? Well, my rule is that when I have played the game for more than 4-5 hours, I can write a first impression about it. I only write a review about games that I have finished or beaten. But, wait, what if the game doesn’t have an end goal or is unbeatable like Tetris? Well, then I review the game when I think I have seen or experienced enough to review the game.

Phase 3: Research & Writing

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So, I have played the game and/or I have beaten it. Now, it’s time to research and write the game. Like I said in a previous article, I have a habit of listening to the soundtrack of the game I’m writing about. This helps me to write and sometimes it helps me to remember the experience.

Also, when I’m writing, I have the game open near me. For example, when I write about a 3DS game, my 3DS is in front of my keyboard while I’m writing. When I want to quickly test something or refresh my memory, it’s just a second way.

Things I always check are Wikipedia/Wikis & Metacritic. I check Wikipedia to check if there are any interesting facts of the game I didn’t know about like it’s development history or something similar. If there isn’t a Wikipedia page or doesn’t have enough information, I look for a Wiki on the game.

Why do I check Metacritic? Well, not for the score or anything of that nature. I just find it very handy to see other articles on the game. What did other people think of the game? What are their positives and negatives?

Another thing I do is the “searchability and presence test”. I enter the name of the game in different search engines and on different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube… to check what other people like or dislike about the game.

That test and the information I get from Metacritic help me to write. Now, I don’t copy somebody else’s opinion, but when you see sentences in my article like this: “A common complaint is …. and I (dis)agree because…” or something along that nature, well, that’s the consequence of that.

A very handy website is howlongtobeat.com. It’s very difficult to tell how long is a game is and this website helps a lot with that. This website allows me to talk about if the game is long enough and things like that.

When I start writing, I try to continue to write everything in one piece. So, when a link needs to be put in, I put it in before I continue with the rest of the article. What I do first is write the introduction and then the headings. After that, I insert the images of that article. Then, I put in brackets what part of the game I’m going to talk about in that paragraph. So, that way I know what I’m going to talk about in and give the article some structure.

So, how do I decide what to put in an article? Well, that’s a tricky question. To be honest, my answer to that is simple. I use my gut feeling. When something doesn’t feel right to mention, I don’t mention it. I also try to give my honest opinion what I think about the game and what I liked and disliked.

How do I decide the length of an article? Well, I try to have around 1000-1500 words. The reason for that is that I find it the perfect length to talk about the game with enough depth. If I make the review longer, it can be because of two reasons, either I have a lot to talk about or I got carried away while writing and I don’t want to cut out certain sections.

After I have written my article and the conclusion, I always go over the article with two spell checkers. I use Grammar.ly  for almost a year now to fix various spelling mistakes and after that, I copy the whole article into a Word document to double check. After that, I read the article myself and fix and/or tweak any other spelling mistakes I can find.

Then, the article is almost ready. I add all the tags and add it to the right category or categories. After that, I click publish and check if the post reached all my social media pages. After that, I update my overview page and go on with my day. I either start up a game that I want to write about next week or do something else.

Wrapping up

So, thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing this. It honestly felt kinda strange writing down how I write articles. Honestly, this is my general workflow but sometimes it differs from article to article slightly.

My main goal with this article is to give a look behind the curtain on how I write articles. Also, I tried to give some tips and tricks if you are a starting blogger looking for some advice. Don’t copy my workflow, but try to improve your own.

I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Questions of a gaming blogger

Arpegi BackFrom time to time, I look at my list of articles I want to write about. At the bottom, underneath all the games I want to write about is a section with questions. Today I’m going to talk about a few of them. I have chosen a theme for this article as well. How I think when creating these articles and all things related to that. If you ever have a question for me that you want to answer, put it in the comments of a relatable article, mail me or tweet me. Who knows, you might inspire me for a future article. 

Should I review the game on the best specs?

 Yylf2y5This is an issue I have mostly when I’m reviewing PC games. Should I play all my games on the highest settings and review or write with the highest settings in mind?

This is a tricky one to answer. How I honestly see it, I don’t think that’s a great idea. When I’m reviewing newer games that demand a very beefy PC, I try to play it on the highest settings that my PC will allow. While I have rather decent specs, I don’t have THE best specs for playing the newest games on the highest setting. I have a 3.8 GHz CPU, 16 GB RAM and a Nvidia GTX 660. It can run most of the newer games on medium to high settings.

You could argue that a reviewer always should play the game on the highest settings. I honestly believe otherwise. Why play the game on the highest setting? Like I said, I try to play it on the best settings for my PC. In the end, I’m reviewing a game; and there is more to it than high or low-quality graphics.

Besides, not every who reads reviews has a beefy PC to play on the highest settings. So, I think it’s best to play on medium settings. That’s the in-between zone for everybody.

Can a blogger review a game twice?

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Can a blogger review a game twice? Well, I do that with some games. For some games, I first write a first impression and when I have beaten it, I write a full review with my final opinion.

When I write my articles, I try to write them in a way how I experienced the game on that playthrough. It’s how I feel about that game at that moment after I have beaten it and did my research.

When a blogger changes his/her opinion after playing the game a second time or years later… Well, you have two options. Either you edit your original review or you write a new review. If I would change my mind on a game, I would write a new article in reference to the original article. Since then you can talk about how your opinion changed.

But I try to only review a game once. While I replay games from time to time, also the ones I have written about, I think it’ll only create confusion for your readers. Or it would look like you have an article that praises and bashes the game. And that’s not a good idea.

 Does a blogger need to stick to a certain generation?

Game Boys Advance

What I mean by this question is that a blogger or a review needs to stick with a certain platform or genre of games?

Well, in my opinion, the answer to that question is yes… But to a certain extent.

The games I write about are the games I have played or I’m playing at the moment. It’s a sort of gaming diary of my gaming life. So, I write about the games I buy.

When you write a blog or have a YouTube channel, it’s always a good idea to have a theme. For example, you review PlayStation games or talk about everything XBOX. But, talking or review about something else wouldn’t hurt.

The reason why I write these gamer’s thoughts is to be able to talk about something else. Since writing about the same or similar subjects can feel restrictive sometimes. I admit, it’s fun to write this kind of articles, but they are a lot more work to prepare.

In any case, there is one big argument that I haven’t addressed and that’s the audience. People who read my blog are either looking for a review of a certain game or want to read what I’m up too or what I’m playing. When I would change that, I would loose readers. But then again, I would create a new audience.

So in short, it’s a matter of finding a right balance between what your blog or channel is about and where you want to go with it.

Closing off

While some questions I have talked about in this article might have an easy or obvious answer… I think it’s fun to think about them from time to time.

It helps me to think outside the box and write some interesting articles. Besides, they make for interesting conversation topics between creators.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any questions or ideas for future content… Feel free to leave a comment.

I hope to welcome you at another article but until then, have a great rest of your day!

Gamer’s Thoughts: How do I write my first impressions and reviews?

Arpegi BackI have written a lot of first impressions and game reviews. In today’s article, I’m going to talk about how I create one of those articles. Consider this article as a sort of “behind the screens” look into my creative process. How I try to get an article ready every week. The focus of this article will be how I analyze a game. How I look at it’s nuts and bolts and how I translate that to words. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with how you prepare for your articles and/your thoughts. So, I hope you are ready since here we go! 

Preparations

380kvPersonally, picking a subject for the article is one of the hardest parts to me. I have a lot of ideas but often I change my mind at the last minute.

Quite common is that I write an article about the game I have been playing recently. It’s easier since the memories of the game are quite fresh in my mind.

Sometimes, when I don’t have an idea; I look around in my collection for a game to take a look at. And when I don’t feel like writing about a certain game, I try to find an interesting subject to write about. In most cases, I write an article in one of my series like Gaming Nostalgia, Gamer’s Thoughts or Gaming Music.

When I decided which game I’m going to talk about, I start playing it. I always have my tablet or a notebook close to me. Truth to be told, I don’t take many notes. Since I feel that writing an article with the impressions you have gives a stronger article.

So, my notes are mostly things that I don’t want to forget. Like certain moments or certain frustrations.

This way I find that you can give a more general impression of the game. This way I can focus more on the game instead of going too much in depth about one aspect.

The research part

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So, right before I start writing the article, I thinking of a good title and look up some other articles about the game.

I always give my own opinion on my blog. Even while other critics disagree with me. Besides, I’m not that good of a liar anyways.

But, it’s always interesting to see what other people write about the game. It gives me another angle on the game. It can also give me some ideas on how I should write the article.

It also gives me some background information about the game. This is rather helpful for finishing the article. To check if all my facts are correct. Also, I’m extremely interested in the history of gaming and the development. So, yeah…

The analyzing of the game

logo_samaxreviewsmoviesStory

How does one judge a story? Well, that’s very tricky. I used to write a lot of stories in the past. But nowadays, I write a lot about games.

So, I look at a story in a very different way. I look at how it’s written, how it’s structured, how it draws in the player and how it actually works. A good story must make you smile here and there and/or put you on the edge of your seat.

In my early gaming days, I used to never play games without a story. When a game didn’t have a story, I skipped it. With some exceptions like Tetris and Pac-Man of course.

The story is something that is the most important to me in a game. The better the story is, the more fun I have playing the game.

Presentation

The presentation of a game is something I can look past that, to a certain extent. I honestly don’t really care of some enemies are generic. I see it as a positive if they try to do something new with it.

Yet, there are two aspects of the presentation that I pay a lot of attention to. That are the menus and the controls.

A menu in a game should be easy to navigate. Also, a certain task shouldn’t require a “million” clicks before you can perform it.

And about the controls, it’s quite self-explanatory I think. Would you play a game with bad controls? Controls that work against you? Not a lot of people would enjoy themselves!

Difficulty

I love games that are challenging but aren’t too difficult. The more brutal a game is, the less fun I have with it.

Don’t understand me wrong here. There is nothing wrong with difficult games, I just don’t like them.

Truth to be told, reviewing the difficulty of a game is pretty tricky. Something that I find difficult in a game can be easy for somebody else. And it can work in the other way too.

Music and sound

The music of a game is quite important to me. The prove of that is the fact that I write a series about gaming music. Sometimes, some of my favorite songs are actually my ringtone.

At work, I listen to a lot of gaming music as well. Since it helps me concentrate. But in some cases, it can be a distraction since the memories come back from the game.

That’s why I listen to the soundtrack of the game while I’m reviewing or writing the first impression of a game. It helps me remember the game. 🙂

Closing off

So, yeah. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I tried to give a general idea how I make my articles. If you guys and girls want to know more, feel free to leave me a comment. Maybe could turn in a new article.

While I love writing articles like these, I love writing about games more. This makes it quite hard to pin down exactly what I look at while reviewing or writing a “first impression” article.

In any case, before I ramble too much… I think it’s time to wrap up this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it! I hope to welcome you another time on my blog but until then, take care! Have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – Fatal Conspiracy (PC) ~ Ah, CSI.

csi-crime-scene-investigation-fatal-conspiracy-megjelenes-dobozkep-5f1e286a56874898ba77-largeWikipedia entry

Lately, I’m getting quite a lot into the series of CSI. I’m currently watching the original series to the end. Then the spin-offs. But the games, oh man, the games are something special. Published by Ubisoft and developed by TellTale Games. This game has mixed reviews all over the board. I have seen reviews ripping this game a new one and I have seen reviews praising this game. This is the latest PC game that came from the series. I have beaten the first two cases and I just started the 3rd case. Is this a good game in my opinion? Is this a game made for fans of the series or can it be played by everyone? Well, I took a look from both angles. So, I won’t get the criticism that I gave this game a positive review because I’m a fan of the series. So, let’s dive right into this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and or the game. 

TellTale made this

maxresdefaultIt’s quite clear that TellTale games made this game. The formatting is just like their other series. The game is 5 cases long. During the game, you get another partner every time. What seriously amazed me is that the characters from the show actually did the voice acting for this game.  This give me goosebumps. One of the goals of these games is trying to give you the feeling that you are part of the team. The voice acting helps a lot with this.

The writing is done on a very clever way. Some lines are left out. Information your brain can easily fill in. Questions you would ask if the game was voice controlled. This helps draw you in a bit more too.

Storywise, this game starts off quite interesting. The idea of having a storyline over the whole game instead of having five separate stories makes it very interesting. The only minor complaint I have here is that the pacing is a bit off. It distracts a bit from the case in my opinion. Truth to be told, you can’t avoid it.

 The individual cases are quite interesting. But they aren’t my favorite cases from the series. They are good but my favorite cases are from the second game in the series.

Why is it bad?

CSI Fatal Conspiracy Screenshot 4Visually, this game doesn’t look that well. This game has been released 5 years ago. I know for a fact that visually, games can look way better then this. Tomb Raider Legend, which released 4 years prior, looked way more cleaner then this game.

So, I played a little bit more of the game and found some blurring issues. It would surprise me if my computer is at fault here. I’m extremely sure it can run this game three times without slowing down my computer.

But for a licensed game, visually this game looks quite fine. Some things could have been animated to look a bit better. So, after closer inspection (see what I did there) the issue with the visuals is that some things like hair aren’t animated which giving the visuals a bad impression to a PC gamer. Thankfully, in an adventure game the graphics aren’t the priority. The actual adventure is a bit more important.

One thing I find a negative in this game is that you can’t walk around. In a previous installment, you were allowed to walk around on the crime scene. I was hoping they implemented this again. But now, it’s back to the old point-and-click interface. Which is quite fine by me, expect for one flaw. In the game you are scored on how thorough you are. A visual indication for this would be nice, there have been various times that I was searching on a spot that was actually clean. They did this in the previous installments.

Another thing I don’t understand is that they cut the lab into two area’s. It’s rather annoying when you need to switch between the two places. Also, it’s annoying to see a number showing with the evidence. I can understand that it’s to help you remember that are is something that needs your processing, but you have no visual indication which item you still need to take a closer look at. That number also doesn’t decrease when you investigate it with the proper machine.

Oh, I talked a bit earlier about the lab. Some instruction videos actually didn’t work and it played part of the intro for this game. This is the weirdest bug I have seen for quite a while.

The GUI (graphical user interface, the menus and such) in the lab is a bit lacking. In the past it was easier to switch between evidence. Now, you need to restart before you can continue.

Yet, the worst two issues is that you can barely alt+tab out of the game. Your screen will show some weird bars like a smashed LCD screen. And related to that, sometimes the sound cuts out on a scary way… as your headphones just popped.

What is good…?

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Apart from the visuals, I find barely any major flaws, apart from some nitpicks here and there, in the game. The soundtrack in this game feels a lot like the series. Music that won’t go to your music library but is perfect to set the mood.

The design of the crime scenes and the locations you visit are well thought out. The “hiding spots” for the evidence are sometimes so well hidden, it’s easy to look over them. This is very lovely, since this gives the game a more challenging nature.

Also, there are achievements in this game. For the people who want to 100% this game, this is some replay value. You can try to avoid making the mistakes you made in the first playthrough.

The tips system is more streamlined. Sometimes you get mails from the night shift supervisor telling you what you should do or might overlook.

Is this game perfect? Hell no, it has some flaws that might hinder the experience. Is it good? Yes. Is it for everyone? Not really. I would recommend it to fans of the series and adventure gamers. I would also recommend it to people who like to solve crimes, virtually or in the real world.

If you are able to look past a few minor issues, this game is quite well crafted. When the developers had a bit more time, this game could be a bit better polished. That’s all I have to say about this game in my first impression. If I finish it, I might write a review about it and go a bit more in depth about certain area’s of the game.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this for you guys (or girls). I hope to welcome you at another article. But until then, have a nice day and game on~

First Impression: Boom Blox (Wii) ~ Demolishing with Strategy.

BoomBlox_EAwii_TfrontWikipedia entry

If you haven’t noticed by my nickname (NekoJonez), I’m a huge fan of Indiana Jones. When I found out that the director of that movie series had his hand in a puzzle game, I was interested. I started searching for it, but everywhere I found it… It was a bit too expensive to my taste. And when I found it cheap second hand, the disc was too damaged to play the game. Yet, everything changed when my sister called me a few days ago. She found a copy on a yard sale for 10€ (~ 11.5 USD) She called me up and I said she could buy it for me. When she came home, I popped it in my Wii and started playing it. So, what did I think of it? That’s the reason why I wrote this article. And as usual, feel free to write a comment with your thoughts on this game and/or the content of this article. 

More than just destroying

351309-boom-blox-wii-screenshot-try-to-knock-down-all-these-gem-bloxThis game has a story mode. When I started playing this game and came across the story mode, I was surprised. The story isn’t over the top or just dumb, it’s silly and it works perfectly for a causal game of this kind.

I won’t talk about the story that much since I haven’t played it enough to give a proper comment on it.

What I love the most is that the gameplay is extremely simple, yet very addictive. Other reviewers describe it as “try to get a structure to fall over”. Which is only half of it. Some levels in this game are more a puzzle where you need to pull blocks out carefully so that some blocks don’t fall to the ground.

Some blocks give you negative points and they are extremely nicely placed in certain puzzles. This game can be extremely difficult and will be challenging. Thankfully, this game teaches you the ropes before it gets too difficult.

You have so many different modes in this game, it pleases me. From you tossing a block around with a sticky hand or throwing balls… It’s all great fun. Each mode has its own challenges. But the game can get “nasty” on you. In one level I had to defend a castle and they surrounded spawn points with bomb blocks which were close to the castle I had to defend in the first place.

Presentation

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If the designers of this game reads this article, you guys and/or girls deserve a pat on the back. This game is eye candy and it’s extremely charming. The actual attention to detail is well done.

Also, I love it when you miss a throw and the blow continues flying in the background… well, the audience will jump away from the ball. Or when you manage to hit an audience member, they will do the same animation as a single block being hit.

The animation of this game, well, that’s a hard one. There isn’t that much animation in the game when you compare it to different games. The falling and flying of the blocks is really well done, it would be a shame if it wasn’t.

I have only one complaint with the presentation. It might also be with the controls. The button to advance the menus has a function in game. It caused some accidental throws.

Also, during my playthroughs, I missed an option to bring up how many throws would give you gold, silver or bronze.

So, now that we moved on to controls; well they are pretty good. Apart from not registered throws, I didn’t have any game breaking issues with it.

Multiplayer

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Some modes I haven’t tried out yet. There is a multiplayer mode in this game, which makes the game that more interesting. Without looking it up or anything like that, I guess it’s either random mini-games or you trying to compete in puzzles to get the highest score.

The other modes I haven’t tried out yet are some puzzle modes. Since I was mostly interested in the sticky hand one and the one where you had portal blocks that disappeared when you hit them.

Like the coluorful and happy visuals, the soundtrack and sound effects are happy and enjoyable. They put you in a really amusing mood and really help to set a nice and light-hearted atmosphere.

I didn’t want to say this, but I think I have to mention it. Did you guys know that this game was made by EA? I don’t play a lot of EA games since most of the games they produce aren’t in my genres I play often. Yet, I beg you EA, bring this series back one day. It’s underrated and it should be more in the spotlight.

Before I forget to talk about it, the physics engine is the star of this game. Since I learned how to write some basic code, I am always amazed by how games like this work under the hood. How gravity is programmed into the game. The gravity in this game is really well implemented. I wish I could see this game with Wii Motion Plus, but alas. This game was released before that.

So, that was everything I wanted to talk about in this first impression. While it’s a bit shorter then usual, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article, but until then, take care~ Jonez.

Review: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Joyful RPG at it’s near finest.

Fantasy_Life_box_artLink to the Wikia – First Impression article

And the award for the most generic title goes to… Fantasy Life… Wait, what? I’m copying my buddy’s latest article title and making my own joke out of it? Oh sorry, I’m sure he won’t mind. I have been delaying this review again and again. But after nearly putting 75 hours into this game, I think it’s fair for me to review it. While I haven’t completed it 100%, I am already far beyond the point of beating the full game and the DLC story. So, without me reading the first impression article, this is the taste this game left in my month. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the content of this article and/or this game. 

Story time

Fantasy_life_e3_2014_screenshot3

So, one of the weakest points of this game is the story, apart from the DLC story. But don’t read me wrong: the story is solid and the characters are memorable. The huge issue is that thanks to the 12 different paths you can take, there are so many. Too much even for my young brain to remember. On the other hand, this makes each life unique with different characters and personalities.

The main story is a bit generic. It stands out in it’s writing, though. That’s extremely well done. People would easily skip over the story since it’s one you have experienced before: save the world. Yet, when you actually take the time to enjoy the story, you will be pleasantly surprised with it’s well done execution.

This is one of the first Level5 games I played where there is no voice acting. Well, apart from the few grunts from enemies, but I can’t comment on that.

So, let’s move on to the DLC. It truly expands on the main game nicely. It even adds more story and expands the game in nearly every area. The DLC is truly worth it, because the story alone has such a perfect ending, it actually touched me and made me laugh. Just the way how it’s written… Amazing.

All right, enough said about the story of this game. Let’s dive right into the other parts of this game. First of all, the sound design and music.

Just that

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The music and sound design is good. Just that. Good. It isn’t bad, nor is it great. It helps to immerse yourself into the game, but I don’t see myself listening to the soundtrack on my mobile any time soon.

While I think Level5 generally makes great scores for their games, some tracks got annoying to me. “The theme of intrigue” is an example of a track I don’t like. While the “Theme of Courage” is such an amazing track and really hyped me up.

Also, the enemies don’t have a distinct cry. Well, not all. And in my mind, this is a really big issue. Some enemies start to feel bland, generic and cut-outs. Some enemies have some nice sound effects, but not enough.

For the sound design or music, it isn’t worth it to get yourself a headset to enjoy it. As I said earlier, it’s good, but it won’t be memorable. Some tracks are catchy and I remember some battles but that mostly wasn’t because of the sound and music design. It helped, but it wasn’t the most important factor.

The design of this game is something that is actually really well done. Apart from one major issue I will talk about later.

The game world looked bright and colourful or dark and gloomy when it needs to be. They give off the right atmosphere and the area’s are pretty well crafted. The animation looks crisp and neatly done. Some could argue that due to the overload of dialogue some voice acting would benefit the game, but the animation does such a nice job that the voice acting isn’t really needed.

So, about that major issue I had with the design. Well, it is something I feel really mixed about. Visually, it looks lazy… but game design wise, it is a great move. Some enemies, like the spirits, return in various area’s, but they have just a different colour. Looks lazy right? But on the other hand, in some lives, you get the quest to kill a certain amount of some enemy. This makes finding that enemy in later area’s much easier.

Oh, and one minor design flaw is that it’s sometimes really tricky to read an enemy’s name. Because if you come too close, the target marker pops up above their head.

The other parts

112516_3ds_fl_merc_pr_ukSo, in my first impression I think I touch upon the controls. They are quite well done. Apart from the mercenaries life. They are quite flawed. It’s really unclear how you pull off certain moves in that life. Sadly enough, you need to do them in order to finish that life. “Press 4 times A”. Ehrm, I tried it and I wasn’t always able to pull off that move.

I still find it very remarkable that they made such a neat looking and easy to understand interface to display while you have some much content to offer. A nitpick I have is that the bounty clerks are sometimes too far apart.

The main story and the DLC story will take you around 15-20 hours to complete. Nice length. But the game can be a lot longer then that! You won’t be able to complete each and every life in even double the time. I have played this game for over 60 hours and I only fully completed one life.

The difficulty of this game is decent. While some area’s present some challenge, I barely died in this game. The game is also very forgiving in that regard. When you die, you can either revive (if you have a Life Cure) or go back to the nearest check point, or go home. You loose nothing. Also, when you are trying to mine a major gem later in the miner’s life… When you run out of SP, you can stop mining and drink some potions. When you then continue to mine the gem, the gem didn’t heal enough to loose that much of your progress. You aren’t able to do that in the fishing life and that’s one of my other nitpicks.

Before I wrap up this review, let’s talk about some of my other nitpicks. One is that some lives play similar to each other. While they are different and require a different play style, they can give off the same vibe. Mainly the crafting lives, they are all quick time event based. The animation is different, but the core mechanic isn’t.

Talking about crafting lives, the menu system is a bit flawed here. You aren’t able to see your quests when you start working.

The next nitpick is one that annoys the heck out of me. Certain lives have a dedicated shop. Like the carpenter and the woodcutter have a dedicated shop. But when you want to craft all the carpenter items, they won’t sell all those items in that shop. This means that you run around sometimes to get each and every item.

The next nitpick I have is that Flutter and your pets can only be accessed in one house: your starter house. Maybe I haven’t unlocked it through the bliss system, but I don’t think you will be able too.

So, the game is a nice experience but flawed. It’s really addictive and hard to put down for the people who enjoy these kind of games. But it lacks some polish. That also shows in the map. You can’t control the map at all. You can have an overview of the map, but you can’t see where all the shops are located.

Well, I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about in this review. Time to wrap this one up.

Conclusion

The bad;

– While the writing is excellent, the story is one we have seen in different games a million times over. (Apart from the DLC one)

– The music and sound could have been done better.

– The game is overall too easy.

– The lack of bounty clerks in some area’s.

– Some small issues can hinder the experience and make it irritating.

The good:

+ Amazing visual world.

+ 12 different play styles to enjoy.

+ You can switch class when you want.

+ Very neat UI.

+ The character creation has a lot of features.

+ The animation is extremely well done.

+ Addictive.

+ …

Conclusion

So, is this game worth playing? If you enjoy games like Harvest Moon, Tomodachi Life or anything similar, odds are you feel right at home here.

The characters are memorable but they suffer from a weak(ish) story. The writing is funny and won’t get boring, but they also suffer from the weak story.

This game lacks some polish. While the game has a lot of polish in certain area’s, not every part of this game has been polished enough. This is one game that could have benefited from a bit more development time.

Be warned when you play or start playing this game, it’s difficult to put down. I haven’t played many other games for over a month because I wasn’t able to stop playing this game. It truly took me be surprise how fun it can be.

I love this game, I think it’s near perfection. But the reviewer side of my character disagrees and sees the flaws in this game. It isn’t perfect, but it’s near its finest form.

So, that wraps up my review of this game. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. (and playing the game in order to write this review.) And I hope to meet you another time here on my blog, but until then: take care and game on~

Score: 85/100