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

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Official website

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

What is GameR-Mate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s included?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NekoJonez’s August 2019 Update

Hello there, it has been a long time since I spoke to my readers directly. It has been since April that I have written an update article. So, yeah, it’s time to talk about the rest of 2019 and what that means for my blog. Now, if you are wondering who these two people are on the picture. The right guy is me. And the girl in the picture is my girlfriend who already wrote two articles here. Soon, she will write another article here too. If you want to follow her, you can do so over on her Twitter. Without further ado, let’s get into the updates because there is quite a lot to talk about!

Personal things

2019

I think that 2019 will be the strongest year so far. A lot has been changing in my personal life making my schedule and day to day life quite unpredictable.

In the past four months, my work schedule changed. I had to work on Saturdays, but I had Thursdays off. I spent most of these Thursdays with my girlfriend.

For those who don’t know yet, since late March 2019, I met NotThatAlice and it didn’t take long before we became a couple. I mean, two retro gamers who are into waiting YouTube, exploring cities and nature, working on creative things… It’s a match made in heaven.

Now, starting from next week, something quite big is happening in my professional career. I signed a contract to work as an administrative and IT guy in one of my local schools. This is a personal dream of mine. A lot of people in my family have worked or are working in the education sector. From science teachers to mentoring of new teachers. I’m 5 generations in succession. Now, yes, I’m the first who isn’t going to be teaching… But, I’m honestly considering to start those evening classes again to get my teaching degree. But, that’s something I’m considering. If I’m going to start classes again, I’ll surely update you, readers.

You might have noticed that since late 2018 the number of articles that I’m writing and publishing is dropping. Usually, I write 4 articles each month, but lately, it’s only three articles a month or even fewer. This has a few reasons. Earlier I said that for the past 4 months, I have been working on Saturdays and spending time with my girlfriend on my day off. That meant that I only had Sunday to write and publish an article. This didn’t always work out.

On top of that, I’m still recovering from my bad mental health that started last year. A side effect of that bad mental health is that I actually had a writing burn-out making it even more difficult for me to focus on my writing. I have scrapped quite a lot of articles because they didn’t turn out quite right or weren’t up to the quality I wanted them to be.

While I could take a break from writing, I don’t think that’s the right solution for me. I just love writing a bit too much. Thankfully, I think I have a solution. You might have noticed that in the last few articles that I have written, that my writing style has changed a bit and that I’m experimenting with a few unique ideas to change things up. This is having a great effect on me and I’m getting back into writing.

Anyways, before I start talking about the blog updates, I want to mention that a lot has changed to my personal set-up in the past few months. I have upgraded my personal gaming rig with a new graphics card. I upgraded my GeForce 660 to a GeForce 1050. So, I now have a 4GB graphics card in my gaming rig. I also use a newer monitor that supports a newer standard of HDMI and things of that nature. Apart from that, I have bought myself a mouse mat and a wrist rest. This helps me to not have RSI issues while I’m writing or while I’m gaming.

In terms of my old retro computers, I have outfitted my Windows XP machine with an old WiFi card, so I now can mess around with those titles and get the latest version of all the drivers without having to use some sort of crazy setup. I also refurbished an old computer to a spare Windows XP machine. On top of that, I busted out all my computers and consoles to make them run more quite and have a longer life.

Blog updates

Before I get into the updates to my blog, I want to mention something about collabs. If you are interested in being a part of a big collab like my Zelda and Tomb Raider retrospective, I have good news. My friend, the Well-Red Mage, who organized the Final Fantasy retrospective together with OverThinkery is organizing a new one. It’s almost like Red and I take turns in doing one big retrospective. I guess that it’s my turn at the end of next year.

In all seriousness, the reason I’m talking about this is that I’m actually going to be a part of this big collab. It’s going to be about Mario and we are still looking for writers. More information can be found in the linked article. But this time, I’ll be helping Red with the admin and behind the scenes work in this whole collab. So, yeah.

Speaking off collabs, I’m also going to be a part of NormalHappenings’ Characters That Define Us. I’m going to write a special article about my love for the character of Lara Croft. While I have sort of done that already with the Tomb Raider retrospective… I have an idea to make the article still quite interesting to read. More information can be read here.

More information about both of these collabs will come in the future. Because these two things are still in the works and are subject to change, I don’t want to say things that might not even happen to avoid disappointment.

So, we are entering the final 4 months of 2019. As said earlier in this article, this year has been quite crazy for me. But, I still have a plan for the ending of 2019. Now, before I talk about that I want to mention like in every update article that the best way to keep up-to-date with me is to follow my Twitter feed.

With that said, here is a preview of the things I have been planning for the ending of 2019. For this week, I’m going to publish two reviews on two developers who requested my feedback. I have a couple of games I want to talk about in the final four months of 2019. As usual, I’ll end the year with my top 10 games of the year and the games I’m looking forward to playing in 2020.

My girlfriend also has a few articles she wants to write. From what she told me, they are going to be extremely interesting to read. It’s going to be a very different look at how games are played. I’m quite excited to read it actually.

So, I’m planning to use the remainder of 2019 to write about games I love to reference but of which I haven’t written an article yet. While also talking about a whole boatload of amazing new games I have been playing this year, it’s going to be challenging.

Still, due to me still recovering from a writers’ burn-out and my bad mental health, it’s possible that I’m going to write and publish 3 articles each month, excluding guest posts or press kits. Yet, if I’m in the mood and when I have the time, it’s possible that I’m going to publish more than 3 in a month. It all depends on the time and energy that I have. Yet, I’ll be writing a minimum of 3 articles each month.

The final thing I want to talk about is something that also always returns in these articles. And that’s the reorganization of my blog. I have been thinking about a lot of different things. From merging series into one to moving to a self-hosted website and changing the URL. Now, I have decided that the blog rework will be a focus of mine in 2020. This year has been so rough, I think it’s best that I’m first going to settle in my new job and make a great plan of action so that I don’t make mistakes if I decide to make major upgrades.

So, with that said, I think you guys and girls are up to date with the latest happenings in my life and the future for this blog. A lot of fun things are going to come to this blog and I’m already working on a few projects for 2020. It’s going to be so much fun and I can’t wait to see what you will think about it. Anyways, it’s time for my usual last words to close off this article.

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

Publishing: The future of the TCG genre

z4pQ8PshSince the inception of the genre, when Richard Garfield created Magic: the Gathering in 1993, a large number of trading card games have been created, each with its own themes and mechanics. However, if we look at the TCG landscape today, few of them remain standing. So many of them have just disappeared without a trace, but why? Can a new TCG be successful today?

What is nature of TCG?

Trading card games, also known as collectible card games, by their nature require players to buy booster packs and trade cards with their friends in order to build decks and start playing. This can be quite an investment: booster packs cost money and you need a sizeable collection of cards to start trading and building decks from, which requires quite an investment. The randomness within booster packs, along with the different rarities of cards makes the collection process quite costly, long and difficult. This usually means that an average TCG player can’t realistically get into more than one or two trading card games at the same time. This, as you can expect, means that when a new TCG is released, the target audience is already well invested into other games, and is hesitant to pay that much more money on a brand-new game which still has a small following. The success of a TCG is directly related to the size of its player base. Even smaller TCGs require a stable player base in order to stay in business. If a TCG player doesn’t have any friends who play the same game, he or she is more likely to abandon it for a more popular TCG. This leads to the bigger TCGs staying healthy and gaining more players, while the smaller ones disappear.

How does TCG market look like?

By now, the paper TCG market is dominated by only three games: Magic: the Gathering, Pokèmon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. Smaller TCGs still exist, but they are usually based on pre-existing franchises and piggy-back off their success. However, TCGs aren’t just limited to paper. With the advent of the internet, many online TCGs have started appearing and getting more popular despite the problems their paper cousins faced. Why is that? For starters, it’s much easier to find people online to play the game with. In fact, the game itself will find an opponent for you to play against. This means that as long as there is even a small, but stable, amount of people playing an online TCG, the game will still be able to stay alive and organize tournaments. Another advantage online TCGs have over paper TCGs is that they can be free to play, meaning that anybody can try out the game, without hesitation and fear of having to spend a lot of money. Not only that, but online TCGs have many more ways of distributing their cards to their players than just by selling booster packs, decks, or single cards. They can implement systems that allow players to unlock cards just by playing the game, or by accomplishing certain goals in the game. Games like Hearthstone and Hex have had great success with these strategies, and upcoming games like Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest will do so as well.

What about paper TCG’s?

But what about physical cards? Is there no hope for new paper TCGs? What about the players who enjoy TCGs not only for the gameplay but also the interaction with people, the fun times they have with their friends at home or in the game store? Well, while the TCG model is unlikely to work for new titles, this doesn’t mean that new games played with customizable decks are doomed to fail. Fantasy Flight Games coined the term LCG, which stands for Living Card Game. An LCG is a game in which, much like in a TCG, players build their own deck out of the vast collection available. The difference comes in the way the game is sold. LCGs are sold like board games, in that the entire game (or expansion) is sold in a single box, like a board game. There is no element of chance when buying an LCG, you know exactly what will be in the box before you buy it. This approach, while it defeats Richard Garfield’s idea of a game that’s “bigger than the box”, gives certainty to new players. It tells them exactly how much money they will need to invest in a game to be able to enjoy it to the fullest. Games like Lord of the Rings LCG, Android: Netrunner, the Star Wars card game and much more are sold in this manner. The LCG model makes these games much friendlier towards board game players, which also broadens the traditional TCG player base. Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest promises to be released as an LCG if its Kickstarter campaign reaches a certain stretch-goal. So, while you may not enjoy the feeling of cracking a booster pack of a future TCG, you can still do so online, or play it like a board game with your friends.

About the author

Leandro Tokarevski was born on September 26th, 1993. At the age of 6, he started learning the violin. He was always interested in games and drawing, and in 2004, at the age of 11, he moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he started to attend an evening art school, as well as continued his music studies in an evening music school. In 2009 he graduated the music school and since then he’s continued to play in various bands and ensembles both on the violin and on the keyboard. In 2010 he graduated art school as well as high school, and entered the St. Petersburg Academy of arts, where he studied architecture. This is where he started to get involved in game design and development. In 2014 he started working on the card game Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest and in April of 2016 he self-published his first full game: Rebels Unite, for which he was both the game designer and artist. In July of 2016 he graduated the Academy of arts, moved back to Rome and started working full-time on game development. Currently he’s working as a pixel artist for the 2D RPG Towards the Pantheon, while continuing to develop Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest. For more information about Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest, please visit a website: https://tokartsmedia.com/

Publishing: Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest – a unique TCG now on Kickstarter

Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest® is a trading card game, combining collectible cards with a strategy game. It introduces distance, movement, and range, making it much more dynamic than traditional TCGs and CCGs. This is a completely unique concept created by TokArts Media, waiting now for gamers’ support on Kickstarter.

Having played many trading card games over the years, Multiverse creators have realized that most TCGs were very similar and shared many flaws. So they thought they would try to design their own game with a unique gameplay.

In Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest® you battle for the conquest of the galaxy. Your deck of cards represents your arsenal of weapons, vessels, characters and actions to be performed. Games are played by 2 to 6 players, each of whom – in a proven TCG fashion – has a customized deck of Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest® cards that he or she draws from during the game. But this is where the similarities to typical TCGs end.

First of all: the game board. Instead of simple division into “your side” and “your opponent’s side” the game introduces a special game board, called the “Galaxy”. It is unique every time the game is played and it’s revealed to the players gradually as they explore it. In Multiverse your ships can move through the galaxy, conquer enemy planets, battle, transport resource, board enemy ships and more. Their speed and position matters greatly. The galaxy itself is formed out of each player’s small deck of special galaxy cards, which they assemble alongside their main deck. All of this this adds a new tactical dimension to the game.

Another core element to the game is a unique resource system. You pay resource to play cards from your hand. Unlike in other TCGs, the resource is generated by the galaxy cards on the tiles you control rather than dedicated cards in your main deck. This removes the frustrations of resource cards flooding or drought so common in many TCGs. Add in atypical win conditions – through control of the majority of the galaxy or conquering opponent’s home planet – and what you get is a game, which will give you more strategies, tactical options and spur of the moment choices than you are used to in any other TCG.

It took 3 years to design and develop the game to its current shape. That also includes creating 25 episodes of “Let’s make a TCG” videos on YouTube (a behind the scenes look on the development of the game). To go live and deliver a high-quality product, the game needs a proper implementation. Creators have covered the bulk of the investment already, but they still face the challenge of how cover the costs of the game’s final online platform implementation. That’s why Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest® is now on Kickstarter, waiting for gamers’ pledges.

For those who support the project, creators have prepared some rewards, starting with your name in game credits, card artworks, Booster Packs, an access to a beta version of the game – to having your own personal card in the game. For a better understanding of the game and getting more details about the project, check the Kickstarter page here.

About the company

TokArts® was founded in 1997 and since then the company has earned its reputation while providing top quality IT and Business consulting professional services to the world’s leading communication service providers on some of the most challenging projects of the Internet age. Since year 2013 TokArts® is focusing on the gaming sector both as a consulting firm and as a game design studio with its own titles. TokArts® main effort is now concentrated on the delivery of its innovative on-line TCG, Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest®, which promises to be a big hit in its genre.

For more information, please visit our website: www.tokartsmedia.com

Review: Rise Of The Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Sequel of the Reboot

2000900263Steam store page

I have to talk about this game. It’s the sequel to the game I started this blog with. On the 20th of March 2013, I reviewed Tomb Raider. Now, three years later in 2016, the PC port of the sequel finally arrived. I would have reviewed this game sooner, but due to the patches, my performance was going down the drain. The weakest link in my PC is my graphics card. My CPU, RAM and all other parts of my PC are up to speed with this game, but my graphics card gave me issues. So, after experimenting and trying out different things, I was finally able to play this game with a fluent FPS. Thanks to windowed mode and normal graphic settings. In any case, that’s enough of the behind the scenes stuff! Time to rate this tomb, is it really worth the adventure or is this one better left forgotten? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

The divine source

Riseofthetombraider.jpgAt the center of the story, is the divine source.  Something that Lara wants to find to prove that her father wasn’t crazy. The story uses a lot of cliches this time around. Also, some people can see some plot twists coming from a mile away.

That’s why the story wasn’t all that interesting to me. It was enjoyable but bland. In my opinion, it could have done a lot more with the story. My biggest issue with the story is that some characters didn’t get any development. Thankfully, the writing is very well done which makes up for the middle of the road story.

Something that was truly lacking, in my opinion, was the ending. The ending didn’t convince me why Lara wanted to spend her life raiding tombs. Another thing I didn’t like about the story is that at the start, it jumped around. When I got used to the desert area, I was back in the snowy area. That was a let down for me. Mostly because I feel that I’m unable to go back to check the area out after I finished the chapter. (Just found out, you can fast travel there. Odd thing, when you play the chapter… You have unlimited ammo. When you fast travel there, you don’t have unlimited ammo. That’s a strange issue)

Something that’s even better is the voice acting. The voice acting made some characters come alive! Guys and girls, if you are ever to make a sequel to this game, more of this top notch voice acting, please.

Look at that!

rise-of-the-tomb-raider-pc-scr-image-4173.jpgI have explained in the introduction of this article that my graphics card wasn’t strong enough to run this game at it’s highest settings. But, at the normal settings… This game looks jaw-dropping.

The visuals have improved an awful lot from the previous game and drew me even more into the world the developers created. Yet, I do that to point out that I had some visual glitches with the hair and bow. Here are some screenshots I took of these visual glitches:

2 arrows and the bowSnow forgot to render/how it worksLet’s shoot that climbing axe

But I have to say, that in the latest version of the game, I rarely saw these odd things happening.

The design and the animations of this game are amazing. Yet, this game had issues with performance. Between the release of the PC port in late January and today (mid-May), there have been 6 big patches to the game, mostly all to improve performance. Strangely enough, each patch, my performance wasn’t improving. But, since then, I didn’t have any PC/game crash. Yes, this game crashed so badly that it shut down and rebooted my PC.

Anyways, I’m not going to let this become a long rant about performance. The game is visually stunning and looks great. The animations are amazing as well. Also, the game feels bigger and bigger than the reboot.

There is one thing I didn’t care about in this game and that is the card collecting thing. It bugged out on me several times and I stopped caring. Why do I bring this up now? Since it’s the only negative when it comes to menu design. Such a shame, since we got such a great menu system. I really like how the game reloads your textures while you are playing when you set the visual settings higher and/or lower. It’s fun to see in my opinion. Also, I have to applaud the fact that everything is explained on the side when you tweak your options.

More of the same?

tomb_raider_pc_8.jpg

In this game, most of Lara’s abilities return from the previous game. Apart from some differences, every weapon in this game is the same.

One huge difference is made in this game. And that’s the health system. You can speed up the regen. Well, you can heal yourself. This eliminates the waiting to heal up and makes the combat a bit more intense.

This game has a very similar gameplay to the reboot. Which is great, since I really loved the reboot. But in this game, there are side quests and challenge tombs. While I have beaten the main story, this game has still a lot to offer. The main game is around the 20-hour mark, but in my playthrough, I got 60% completion. So, it’s time to go looking for the things I missed.

Also, in this game, you can learn foreign languages. So, sometimes you can’t decipher a scroll since you aren’t strong enough in ancient Greek. This little mechanic makes the game even more fun.

This game can be pretty difficult from time to time. I remember one area, I had to redo a couple of times. I have to mention, that I didn’t play on the hardest difficulty. If you are looking for a challenge, this game can give you one.

Before I forget, this game has an additional story DLC. I haven’t beaten it yet, but from what I have already played, it’s very interesting and fun to play through.

The controls of this game are excellent. Lara controls fluently and I didn’t make many changes to the default control scheme. I only had minor issues in the menus, but after I got used to them, it didn’t bother me too much.

To close off this review, I have to talk about the music and sound design. In last week’s article, I have already talked and praised the music. The music in this game is amazing. It really sets the mood for the game. Also, the sound design is nice as well. I have nothing to complain.

I played this game with a headset and sometimes I felt like I was really there. The visuals and the sound design are that good in my opinion.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Minor visual glitches

-Annoying performance issues with weaker graphic cards.

-Game crashes can cause a PC reboot.

-The story uses a lot of cliches this time around.

-The card game part. WHY?

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Great music and sound design.

+ The game is a good challenge. Both in combat, puzzle solving and feeding goodies.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game is so close to being perfect. There are some parts of the game I haven’t reviewed. Like the 2nd game mode. The expeditions. That’s because I haven’t played enough of it to review it. So, that’s a surprise for you if you are interested in this game.

If the story was a bit more fleshed out, I would have given this game full marks. Most of the visual issues I had were fixed in the various patches this game got.

I recommend this game, but check before you buy since this game requires very high PC specs. And when you buy and play this game, be ready for a thrill ride from start to finish!

Score: 95/100

Demo: Bravely Second – The Ballad Of The Three Cavaliers (3DS) – First Impressions

bravelysecondSo, in the near future… A new RPG will release. One that I’m really looking forward too. It’s called “Bravely Second”. It’s a sequel to Bravely Default that I played a while ago. When Nintendo actually told me that there is a demo of this game, I directly went to the eShop and downloaded it. I’m just too hyped for this game. And as usual, I try to avoid any media that hypes the game to avoid spoilers or overhyping the game for me. In any case, in this article I’m going to talk about the demo and what my expectations are for the full game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment on this article with your opinion on the content and/or the game. 

Demo

The demo is only in English. The other languages will be available in the full game. The game starts out with an AR cutscene. While I haven’t seen this yet, I find this a very nice way to start the game. It draws you into the experience more then all the other methods.

The music, sound effects and presentation of the menu really gave a familiar vibe for me.

In the first cutscene, you can let it autoplay. Which is very handy for me at the moment. So I can listen to the story and write this article at the same time. Also, the skip button has a “Are you sure that you want to skip this” feature. This is really handy if you press the X button by accident. I only wish that this feature was also implemented with the party chat.

I have skipped the cutscene after a few lines because I wanted to experience the story in the full game. I hate it when a story gets interrupted because the demo comes to an end. I was surprised that some characters return.

bravelysecondThe voice acting is decent. It works fine in this game but I only wish it had more emotion put into it. It feels acted, which isn’t a bad thing. I prefer the voice acting more realistic as if you are in the situation itself.

Visually, the game looks great. Personally, I don’t like that the game zooms out when you don’t push any button. While this gives an amazing view of the first area, it doesn’t click with me.

A minor nitpick I hoped was fixed is that when the B button was shown to progress in dialogue or in tutorials, the A button works too until the final screen. Why is that? This is something minor that they can easily fix.

The combat system has some changes. At the start of the battle, the party can feel brave which gives you certain advantages. Also, the speed up feature is missing from the demo. I just wish it isn’t missing from the final version.

So, according to other articles… This demo is 10 hours long. And not only that, it’s an introduction to the full game. The most shocking fact to me is that this part of the story comes before the main game. So, this is sort of free DLC.

Best of all, it will unlock things in the full game when it arrives. I learned this after reading about the demo. Now, I’m going to restart the game in order to have the full experience and the cut scenes as well.

What I expect

bravelysecond2I haven’t fully beaten the demo so, I can’t give my full opinion yet. When I beat the demo, I might write a full review article about it.

From what I’m seeing after a small half hour of playtime… well, it’s pleasing me.

It’s going to be a great sequel. I just hope that they don’t make the same mistake that they made in Bravely Default.

In that game, there is a point where you need to fight the bosses again. The once you have beaten already. It wouldn’t be a big problem, but they buffed the bosses to such a high level, you have to grind.

Also, they managed to make a RPG more linear then usual. They closed off some areas with the characters saying that they don’t have any business there yet.

Those two things were the reason why I actually stopped playing the original. Which is quite a shame, since I was really into the story and the gameplay. So, I expect that this game is as epic as the original, with the same features but only with the two flaws I mentioned fixed.

Other things I expect is that this game has similar locations then the original but mostly new locations. I hope to see a grown world. If it could be at all possible, do something like Golden Sun Dark Dawn did. Were some exposition words are underlined and when you tap them, you get more information. This way, people who play it can quickly catch up with the events from the first game and it can also serve as a great reminder for those who played the original.

So, that are my initial thoughts of this demo after playing it very briefly. Next week, I’ll be able to pick up the full game. So, you will see more articles about this game in the (near) future.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Tell me in the comments how you experienced this marketing move and such. Since this gives me few ideas for some future articles. Okay, before I truly sign off… I have a question for you guys as well. Would you like more of these articles. Where I look to a demo of a game and talk about how I think the full game will be? I could do that for games that are going to release and games that are already released. Any feedback on that is welcome.

That said, I hope you guys and girls have a wonderful rest of your day and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article in the future! Take care and game on.

Simple Android games you should try out.

AndroidWallpaper

I’m a big fan of the Android Market. I often find myself playing games I find on there. While waiting for the bus the other day, I played a few games on my tablet. The following games are games I won’t have enough to write about for a full review but games you should check out. But before we do that, I have a few questions where you guys can have some input on. First of all, it’s most likely possible that I’ll find more then the games I’m going to mention here. So this will maybe turn into a series. Which name should I give it? Does NekoJonez plays Android sound okay? Anyways, I’m also going to link these apps here so you can easily download them when you are reading my blog from your tablet or mobile phone. In addition to that, give me some feedback on the format I write for each game. If you want to know more about the game or things like that. Oh, my goal is that all games are 100% free too. Some might have in-game things you can buy or ads. Welp, lengthy intro is lengthy. Let’s dive in. 

2 Player Reactor

(This app contains adds)

2_player_reactor_for_android-474583-1318928025I’ll start the list of this article like the extremely bad NES game Action52 did, with the game that requires two players to enjoy.

In this simple game you have to be quick and precise. Your challenge will be always above your square, as well as your score.

You have to do simple tasks. Like guess the capital or check if the squares match each other.

When you tap on the correct moment, you’ll earn a point. When you tap on the wrong moment, you’ll loose a point. Self-explanatory. But there will be fun reactions, some you won’t expect.

You can go in minus, like you see in this screenshot.

This game has been translated in various languages, so you can enjoy this game in your native language. I played this game with my sister often in Dutch, since we Dutch people our brains don’t work in English THAT fast.

With various options and settings, you can leave modes out. Who has the most points at the end wins. There is also a “pro” version that supports 4 players.

I have one minor complaint with this game, and that’s on smaller screens, the text isn’t broken up to fit the screen.

Score: 4 / 5

Line Puzzle

unnamedAs simple as this game looks, as simple as you’ll get it. Made by DevSquare, this game has some amusing music.

In this game, your goal is that you have dots connect to other dots. The numbers represent how many dots you can use from that given square.

There are many puzzles, and some can get very big.

There is a “daily puzzle” which reminds me from the Professor Layton downloadable puzzles.

With the points you earn, you can buy hints, helpful for when you are stuck.

Some bad points are:

– The bad English translation. The option menu is a great example.

– They use the technical terms for music (BGM) and sound (SFX).

Score: 4 / 5

Card Game

unnamed (1)

(This game contains Japanese)

To finish off this article, I would like to talk about another free game released by the guys of Beasty Bay.

In this game, your goal is to put the same number on your main card OR one of the same kind.

You have 3 “jokers”. The mascotte is a wild card, the monkey’ll change ALL cards that you can’t use and the lady’ll show you the card up next.

You can bet, with virtual coins. The more you bet, the more you can win. You need to have a chain of at least 17 cards to play a mini-game and earn your coins back.

You can choose to skip the mini-game and get your coins back or play the mini-game and win the double amount, or more, of coins back.

You can’t go broke in this game because when all your coins are up, you restart with a fresh 50 coins.

Each match is random.

This game might be in a Japanese interface, but it’s easy to find your way. After playing it for a little while, you can get easily the hang of it and enjoy playing.

The music is adorable too, like the graphics.

Score: 4,5 / 5 (A 5 if it was English)

Closure

So, that are 3 games that are free that I recommend. I will scout the market and come next article with more games. Also leave great recommendations here in the comments.

I hope you enjoy yourselves with these games and that you find some new studio’s or developers you can follow on the Android market. Have fun and I see you next blog entry.