Tag Archives: cat

First Impression: Soul Warrior Merope (PC) ~ Featuring The Developer

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Itch.io pageDeveloper TwitterTrailer

Today I’m going to write a special article. Last year, a friend of mine created a game called “Soul Warrior Merope“. At first, he wanted to create this game for mobile platforms but due to some technical difficulties, the game has been released on PC. I promised him to write an article about the game to promote and here we are. I’m sorry mate that it took so long for me to get around to it, but better late than never. So, I think it would be quite fun to review this game interview style. Yes, interview style. So, I wrote a sort of review where I asked the developer to respond to why he created the game in a certain way and things of that nature. So, introducing Priom from HatCatGames, the developer of this game.

Before I begin, I have to give some disclosure. I have helped Priom testing a previous build of the game while he was developing the game. I only gave him some advice to improve the quality of his game. But, this was when he was still developing it for mobile platforms.

Editorial note: Some friends call me Neko, others call me Jonez. If Priom mentions Jonez, he means me.

Jonez: Before we start, feel free to introduce yourself Priom. Tell us a bit about yourself and why you started developing games. Have you created other games before Soul Warrior Merope? How long was the development process for the game?

Priom: Well, I’m Quazi Fahian Muntakim. Better known as Priom or Bear Gril if you only know me on select social media platforms. I’m currently a university student from Bangladesh and a hobbyist game dev.

As for how I got here, well, I think you bore witness to some of it, Jonez. I love video games always have. Fun fact, our family was one of the earliest to adopt a computer for consumer use in Bangladesh. So I always had a love for games. Especially Side-Scrollers and RPGs.

But I think the want to make my own game for others to enjoy. And to weave interesting stories that can only be done in this medium. I think that idea started in 2012 when one of our mutual friends introduced us to RPG MAKER. And that desire kept growing until I joined the GMTK Game Jam 2017 and felt like I wanted to make something that’s available for just about anyone to play!

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Jonez: Visually, this game looks like it was created on the NES or with a sort of pixel-art style in mind. I quite like the visual style of the while. Why did you choose for this visual style? I noticed that the castle has a lot of darker tones and the outside is more colorful. Is the art style inspired by other games or franchises?

Priom: Well again, much like you, I love retro games. Some of my fondest memories come from the GBA, which also had a lot of ports for SNES games. So of course, I wanted to follow that style. Other than that I feel like pixel-art has become an art form in itself in recent times, rather than being a product of limited hardware. So choosing this particular style was a no-brainer.

As for inspiration, I can think of 2. Team Cherry’s “Hollow Knight” and Bombservice’s “Momodora” franchise. Both of them have a cutesy yet somewhat grim art-style which I absolutely adore. Other than that, I have had people mention the castle interiors remind them of “Prince of Persia” for the DOS. I wasn’t exactly trying to replicate that but perhaps it was a subconscious decision, hmm?

Jonez: The game tells a story about a young strong lady Merope looking for two missing children. A mysterious figure called Madd has something to do with it. So, are you in Madd’s castle or lair? How involved is the story, is it extremely present or does it take a backseat while the visuals and gameplay tell most of the story?

Priom: Well, since it is at the very start of the story. I guess I could tell you. The castle belonged to Arthur, the tiny glowing spirit following you around. But he and his people have been long dead. So Madd is using Arthur’s castle as a hideout.

As for the story, I was going for a bit of a free-fall route. The idea was to make an opening with a strong yet simple premise that I can add on to later. So the story’s presence is like that too. Where there’s a lot happening at the start after that you get to experience the story at your own pace while exploring the castle.

I’d like to mention that I do want to make games with more plot later on. I’ve actually gotten into the habit of having a notepad on my person and taking notes whenever ideas pop up.

Jonez: So, you can name your own price on Itch.IO for this game. Basically, the consumer can pay anything they want. Does this decision have a special reason?

Priom: The reason was simple. As this is the first game I made public like this I wanted as many people to play it as possible! It also provides an opportunity for more people to provide feedback. And I have been receiving useful feedback. So it all works out.

Jonez: In some cases, the game is a bit rough around the edges. Like hitboxes of objects only reacting to the tip of the sword or not having a jumping animation. Game development isn’t an easy task and there are so many things to keep in mind while creating a game. What did you focus on while developing?

Priom: Well, the game was rather *experimental* is how I’d put it. If there was anything I wanted to try that could help me further later on then I took it as being worth it. Which might have resulted in some things being a bit subpar than others I’d admit. But I’d like to think even the shortcomings are valuable learning experiences. You don’t realize certain things until others point them out or you relax your mind a bit.

Jonez: Now, I have a sort of related question. Let’s say that you had all the knowledge, time and resources to change a few things in the game. Which things would you change and why would you change them?

Priom: The checkpoint system. It would’ve gone bye-bye in exchange for a more standard system. It was fine at first but it managed to create more and more restrictions as the game got more fleshed out.

As for additions, I would probably just made the castle bigger with more visual lore added. I’d add a better catalog of info and a more informative UI. Along with lots of tweaks for the melee combat from experiences I gained from Game Jams I joined later down the line.

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Jonez: The game plays like a Metroidvania, where you have to get new abilities and get stronger to progress. Was it easy to find mechanics that set your game apart like using lives for your special abilities or did you had to try a lot of ideas?

Priom: As I said. Soul Warrior Merope was born from the GMTK Game Jam 2017. Which was a 2-day jam where you have to make a game under a theme? The main theme of that jam a single mechanic with multiple functions. The other abilities kind of grew from that original idea.

Jonez: Let’s talk about the music and sound design. While there aren’t too many sound effects in the game, how did you decide which sound effects to include or not include?

Priom: I think there are 8 music tracks in total. An intro, 5 for the five major areas, the boss theme which has 3 variations based on which boss you’re fighting and a track used for a very specific ending. All of the tracks are long enough so that you’ll pass through the area before the songs loop too many times.

As for sound effects, I actually like to believe that you should have enough recognizable SFX that someone can make a guess as to what’s happening blindfolded. In that sense, I would’ve preferred to add more SFX if I had more time too. But what’s chosen is the ones that are absolutely necessary to convey what’s going on, granted as long as they don’t sound bad.

Jonez: So, you told me once that you were creating the game in YoYo Games’ GameMaker: Studio. Why did you choose that engine? Apart from that program, which tools did you use and for what? Did you run into any trouble?

Priom: Well, I think it was in 2015 or earlier when my younger brother told me that Game Maker Studio’s Standard Edition was free. I was still using RPG Maker at that time but found it rather restricting. I did not, however, have much coding knowledge since my educational curriculum at that time only involved some basic C++ and HTML. So, a programmable engine for free was a generally risk-free investment. After using it I found a YouTuber by the name of HeartBeast who has some amazing tutorials that I definitely recommend for people starting out. And well I kinda just got used to the engine and bought the pro version.

Other than that, I used Piskel & Paint.Net for the art, LMMS+Audacity for audio and my younger brother, who was responsible for some of the art such as the UI and menu icons, used Aseprite.

As for the issues we faced, as time’s going on Game Maker Studio 1.x is becoming more and more obsolete. Google’s new policy doesn’t allow 32-bit apps on the play store anymore which means the game couldn’t be put into the platform. Not to mention, it didn’t provide me with a proper description of why the Android export stopped functioning too. It’s still pretty good for PC games though.

Jonez: The game isn’t that easy, you really have to learn the various abilities of your character and explore around. How did you decide to balance the game?

Priom: Well, that was the reasoning behind letting the player explore around so many of the different areas from the get-go. The game is actually less linear than initial impressions may imply. The idea is that if you get stuck in a certain place it’s perfectly fine to explore another place and through the use of the abilities you have at that moment you might be able to take a completely different route than the intended route of the game.

Jonez: Do you have any plans for the game? Do you plan on updating the game with new content, bug fixes, improvements…?

Priom: Initially, after making the game public like this. I wanted to keep it like that. But I’ve mentioned on twitter recently that I haven’t coded anything in the engine for a while due to my PC being broken. So changing certain things based on all the responses I received might be good for me to get back on track. But that all is uncertain. I do have plans on making larger and more polished games using the valuable lessons learned from the experience of making Soul Warrior Merope though. So I’d like to end this by thanking everyone who decided to give the game a shot. Thank you!

End of the interview

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And with that all said, I found this quite an enjoyable experience to write an article like this. Maybe if I have the time, I might write another one on a different game. In any case, I want to thank my buddy Priom quite a lot for giving me the chance to be a part of his dream and giving me the chance of writing this special article with him.

So, I highly recommend that you give this game a try. It might be a bit experimental and a bit rough around the edges but I honestly think that this won’t be his last project and any constructive feedback you send him, he can use to become an even better developer. On top of that, his very first game is pretty enjoyable and has quite a lot of charm.

And with that, 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 a future article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Community Awards: The Real Neat Blog Award – December 2019

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WordPress Community Awards are always amazing. It’s a great feeling to get various community awards since it feels like recognition of other bloggers for your work and it also allows you to create interesting articles. Today I have the pleasure to receive the Real Neat Blog award from Sanato1 over at his website. He writes amazing pieces on anime, music, games and many other things. Here is a fun fact, we both started blogging around the middle of 2013. Well, I was writing since 2010, but I only started to write in English a few months before he did. Something that’s quite cool is that he’s an attorney and writes about al those various subjects. It’s a really interesting read. Anyways, let’s get into the actual award and the Q&A that’s attached to it. 

The usual stuff

Here are the rules once again:

1. Display the logo
2. Thank the bloggers for the award.
3. Answer the questions from the one who nominated you.
4. Nominate 7 to 10 bloggers.
5. Ask them 7 questions.

The questions

1) Is there a game, book, or other work that you’d like to experience but that you can’t because it’s untranslated, not ported, or otherwise inaccessible?

That’s an interesting question. It would be extremely easy to look at various animes or games that didn’t get translated into English.

Of course, various works got subtitles but I’m too slow of a reader to follow subtitles and I honestly prefer works in a language I can understand since I feel that native jokes almost always get lost in translation. For example, if they use in a clever Japanese wordplay in an anime, they have to either translate it in the subtitles or let it slip by.

But, after some searching, I found something that you might not really suspect from me. There was this publisher in Belgium called Transposia. They used to localize games like Freddi Fish, Spyfox, Pyjama Sam, Putt-Putt amongst various other games to Belgium and the Netherlands. One of these series is Skipper & Skeeto which is originally called Magnus og Myggen in it’s native Danish language.

hqdefaultSadly enough, Transposia wasn’t able to localize every game into Dutch. Various games only got realized in Danish.

Besides my native Flemish/Dutch language, I can speak French and English but I can’t speak Danish. While one of my blogging buddies is Danish, I think it would be a hassle to fully translate the whole game just to be able to play the game.

Surprisingly, some of these titles got translated into English, but those aren’t the adventure games. The translated titles are the edutainment games. But, they would be nice to add to my collection as well. But, that’s for when I have the budget to let them ship overseas from the UK.

2) What’s one work that really affected you or stuck with you in the last year, and why do you think it did?

If you mean 2018, well, to be honest… I have played so many amazing games, I can’t say one single game. Games like Death Mark or Shadow Of The Tomb Raider are two games that come to mind. Most games that stick with me have either an interesting story mechanic or have a really strong message.

Now, if you mean 2019, I honestly think you’ll have to wait until I reveal my top 10 games I played in 2019. But, if you have been reading my articles, I think I have given various hints about the games that are big contenders for the top spot.

If we are talking outside of games, that’s going to get tougher. Then I think I could say the Death Parade anime. Just the whole concept of the show is mindblowing and well written. The ending really touched my emotional strings. I also started watching it around the time that my pet cat Sparta passed away last year.

That was for 2018. If we are talking about 2019, I have to say Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. It was the first anime I watched with my girlfriend from beginning to end and it was an amazing coming of age story. It was quite enjoyable and reminded me a lot of my past and the things I used to do when I was younger.

3) If you could revive one series of works that’s been abandoned or dropped by its creators for any reason, what series would it be and why?

That’s a tricky question and for several reasons. Sometimes it’s better left in the past to let the series or work end on a high note. Sometimes they ran out of ideas and it’s better to end it.

I could talk about animes like Log Horizon and No Game No Life. These animes have a lot of source material to create new season(s) but due to various reasons, haven’t gotten a new season. Now, I could also talk about my wishes for a new Indiana Jones game or a follow up to Time Hollow, Monster Tale, Stella Glow or Etrain Odyssey. But I’m not going to.

There are so many things that could be revived but they might never live up to expectations. I don’t want a sort of Duke Nukem Forever situation on my hands with the franchises I adore.

Besides, there are so many games, shows, music… out there, it’s getting insane. So, I’m the sort of guy the tries to experience as much as I can instead of trying to revive or keep a show alive. Yes, I vote with my wallet on what I want to see.

4) When it comes to music, do you prefer songs with vocals and lyrics or instrumental pieces, or do you have a preference at all?  If you prefer one type over the other, why do you think that is?

I don’t have a preference. But, I do notice that a lot of my favorite pieces of music have vocals and lyrics. Yet, I also have a lot of instrumental tracks that I adore as well. In most cases, these are tracks from shows or games that are quite nostalgic for me.

But, I think I’m going to talk a bit more in-depth in a future music article on this subject.

5) When was the last time you bought a magazine, newspaper, or another form of print media?

Now, if we also include physical copies of games; then I have to say the day of writing this article. I ordered two retro games for quite cheap online. If we are talking about things print on paper, then I have to say; past summer. When I bought an art book of a Wii U game and a strategy guide on a garage sale.

I used to buy gaming magazines often but my budget doesn’t allow that lately. So, I decided to save some money by not buying them anymore. It’s a shame since now that they are dying out, I might not be helping the cause by not supporting them.

6) Is there a holiday you don’t get to celebrate/take off because of family or work reasons but that you wish you could?

Luckily, I don’t have that issue. Since I work in schools, most of the holidays fall either on weekends or during school holidays.

And my family is rather small so we are able to celebrate almost every holiday together. And since this year, I can celebrate Valentine’s Day due to my meeting my soulmate this year.

7) If you had to create a new holiday, when would it be and what would it involve?

I would have a holiday to celebrate godfathers/godmothers and their godchildren. As a godfather myself, I find it a shame that a holiday doesn’t exist for that. Since I find the tradition and relationship extremely beautiful. Because it’s a sort of 3rd parent to the child.

Now, what would it involve? Something similar to Mothers or Fathersday? Where godchildren could make a small present for their godparents? And that the godparents could create/buy a present for them?

I tag and ask:

Now, as the rules state. I have to tag 7 to 10 other bloggers.

So, here we go:

  1. LaterLevels
  2. TriformTrinity
  3. Well-Red Mage
  4. NormalHappenings
  5. BearedGamer82
  6. LividLighting aka Lighting Ellen
  7. KillerRobotics
  8. VideoGamesNebula

And the 7 questions I want to ask you:

  1. Did your view or look at games change since you started writing a blog?
  2. Is there something you miss in the current gaming industry?
  3. What’s your favorite part about writing a blog?
  4. What’s something you wish you owned?
  5. What’s something unique about your hometown?
  6. Do you think that these kinds of tag questions should be themed?
  7. How much time do you put into your blog daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?

I’m also looking forward to the answers of the other bloggers! While I could nominate a ton more of them, I think I’m going to leave it at those eight. Each of these blogs is an amazing read and I highly recommend them!

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

Personal: What’s on my phone

asus zenfone 3 max.jpg Product page

About a year ago, I wanted a new phone. My first smartphone was a Samsung, which was my 2nd and 3rd smartphone as well. I always wanted to try a different brand and since I bought an Asus Zenpad 8S in 2016 for my birthday, I wanted to give the Asus Zenfone a try. I’m quite content with my Asus Zenfone 3 MAX. I have the 5.5-inch version, so it’s quite a big phone in my opinion. So, a while ago, there was a tag challenge in the tech community to tell your audience what you have on your phone. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I still want to do it. So, here we go. Also, I invite other bloggers to do the same thing. What is on your phone? If you write an article about it, feel free to tag me on Twitter or link to this article. Or feel free to leave a comment here as well. 

Mini review

So, before we go to the main event, I first want to give a mini-review on the Asus Zenfone 3 MAX. What are the things that I love and dislike about the phone? I have been using this phone for a year now. If you want to read up on the specs of my phone, you can read it here on gsmarena.com.

There are a few things I dislike about this phone. If you use the screen at max brightness and either WiFi or 4G, the phone’s battery drains quite fast. Lowering the brightness helps quite a lot to save battery. Another thing has to do with the call quality. Sometimes the microphone doesn’t pick up my voice too well and the other end doesn’t hear me, but if I reposition the phone a bit, that fixes the issue. Another thing I dislike is that buttons like home or back aren’t backlit. But, that’s all I really dislike about this phone. While other reviewers would find other things wrong with it, I really like this phone and it fits my needs perfectly.

So, what are the things I really like about this phone? It’s my first phone with a fingerprint reader. This makes life so much easier. More on that later. Another thing I really like is how this phone seems to get frequent updates to the latest version of Android and all the latest security patches. I prefer the ZenUI over TouchWiz any day of the week. The camera on the phone is really good for family pictures in my opinion. But, the biggest factor for this phone is that it’s priced at 250-280€ and you get an amazing phone for that price.

What’s on my phone?

Now, what’s on my phone? Quite a lot actually. I nearly always carry my phone with me since it’s a handy tool when I need to look up something quickly or snap a quick picture of something I need to remind myself of.

Since I’m rarely at my desk at work, I always have my phone with me. So, they can call me whenever there is a problem. Also, I love listing to music while walking and I use my phone as an old school music player. So, my music app is one of my most frequently used apps.

First of all, I won’t talk about every single app that’s on my phone. There are quite a few games I have installed on my phone for when I’m in a waiting room or have some time on the train and the batteries of my 3DS or Switch are out. I’ll only talk about the apps I placed on my home screen since those are the apps I use the most.

Whenever there is an app I use often, I place it on my home screen. If I stop using it frequently, I remove it from my home screen and replace it with something else I use frequently.

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This is my first home screen. This screen greets me when I unlock my phone. For obvious reasons, I won’t show how I unlock my phone. On the left of my main home screen is the Google Assistant/Google Now. This way I can catch up with the latest news of the subjects I’m interested in. On the right, there is a 2nd home screen with additional apps. More on that later.

At the bottom, I use the classic vanilla apps. From left to right, you have the dialer, my text messages, a button to see all apps, Chrome, and my camera. On top of my home screen is a big clock with the date displayed. Besides that clock, I have the messenger app. I talk quite often to friends over messenger and if I want to share a link, Messenger is the easiest way. Underneath that, you have the Play Store. Each morning, I update all my apps and check the store if there isn’t anything interesting that I could review on my blog.

Then, you have three rows of 4 apps each. The first row is my calendar, my finder app, Discord, and Dropbox. The calendar app is Google Calendar. I use this app often to remind myself of things I need to do. I put more than just my appointments or birthdays in my calendar. Things like: “Article day”, “Write the time for the final project”, “Write a piece for collab” or “Release of thing X” are things that appear in my calendar as well. Appointments have a red color and things I need to do have either blue or yellow. Blue if it’s something I could delay and yellow if it’s urgent or if it can’t be delayed.

The file explorer is the one that comes with Asus’ ZenUI and I love it. It gives me Windows-vibes and it’s really great to use. Whenever I download a file, I can quickly find it with this app. When you open it, you can select to view all images, videos, music, documents… on your phone or just explore the phone. An amazing feature here is that I can set up a wireless method of accessing the files on my phone. When my phone and the device I want to access from being connected to the same network, I can wirelessly access the files on my phone. It creates a link I can visit and I see the same thing as the file explorer app. This app saved me various times.

I use Discord to talk to other bloggers and friends from over the whole world. I’m also part of some servers where game developers look for bloggers to promote their games. If you want to add me on Discord, just shoot me a message over Twitter. But, an app I use really frequently as well. I actually have Dropbox Pro, since I use this as a backup method. I have close to 500GB stored in my Dropbox. Everything from files I need for work to my final project is in there. So, I never worry too much about dying hard drives or losing my files. I also use the Photo Sync feature of Dropbox. This feature saves all the pictures I make with my phone in my Dropbox so I can use them directly on my computer or all the other devices I connected to Dropbox.

In the second row, we find Instagram, WordPress, YouTube, and WhatsApp. I do have an Instagram profile, but don’t frequently use it. I enjoy browsing Instagram to see what my friends are up to. If you can’t guess why I use the WordPress app, well, I use it for checking and fixing things on my blog on the go. So, I’m quite a big fan of YouTube. I love watching tech channels, retro gaming channels, game development channels and various other channels relating to creating things. The final app on that row is Whatsapp. I mostly use that app to keep in contact with my family or my theater group. That’s all I use Whatsapp for.

The final row on my main home screen is the row with the most used apps on my phone. Twitter, since I’m quite active on Twitter. Outlook to check my mails and “Nationaal” is the app I use to check the train schedule to get from and to work. I know that I skipped an app. That’s “Pulsar+“. In one of the firmware updates of my phone, Asus removed the quite excellent ZenUI music app. So, I searched high and low for a great music app on the Play Store. First I used Pi MP3 Player, but I started to run into issues. For some reason, no apps wanted to update on my phone after I installed that app.

Not too long after, I found Pulsar. I liked the app so much, I actually bought the premium version. It includes additional themes and some neat additional features. I can’t recommend this app enough if you enjoy listing to music on your phone. It’s one of the best apps I have used in a while.

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So, on my 2nd home screen are the apps I use less frequently but I want quick access too. Let’s start with the first row. This has the Facebook app, the UEFA soccer app, a weather app, and the Nintendo Switch Online app. The weather app, AccuWeather, is an amazing weather app. It’s quite accurate in my area and I use it to check if I need to take an umbrella on my walks or not. I use the UEFA soccer app since the soccer app of my local sports channel doesn’t have the UEFA Nations League tables built-in. I use the Facebook app since I dislike the website on mobile and I find that it was quicker and easier access to certain features. And finally the Switch online app, I use that app for if I want to voice chat during online Switch play.

The next row has the Steam app, for when I want to check the Steam Store and to have an additional layer of security for my Steam account. Besides that, the Easy Banking app is the app I use to check my finances. Then, you have the Sporza Soccer app. I use this app to follow my local soccer league and to see what the Red Devils, our national soccer team is up to. And Bancontact is used for quick payments, once you set up this app, paying for the doctor goes so quickly.

Oh, before I continue, quick side note. If you are American, I mean football when I say soccer. That said, let’s continue.

The next row has my gallery. When I need to show a picture of somebody. I find the way that the gallery app sorts pictures better than how my finder app sorts them. Besides that, you have the calculator app. Strangely, this is one of the only apps that doesn’t have its name translated in the ZenUI to Dutch. It such say “rekenmachine”. Oh well. It doesn’t bother me that much. Then, you have the Maps app, I use it as a GPS. And finally on that row, you have Imgur, for quickly uploading pictures and since I love this website.

The final row has the Telenet Mobile app. This app is from my ISP and I use this app to check on how much mobile data I have left. Besides that, you got Reddit. I have periods when I get very addicted to Reddit and go on the site a lot and there are moments I rarely visit the site. The final two icons on that row are the Patreon app and the Grumpy Cat game.

I use the Patreon app to check on posts the creators made that I support on Patreon and the Grumpy Cat game is just one of my favorite games on my phone at the moment.

You might notice that I leave one row empty. This row is my temp row. On this row I place apps I just installed and I want to test or if a developer asks me to review them. So yes, that screenshot might be a teaser for an upcoming article. Whenever I tested them or wrote the article, I usually remove them from my home screen.

A few apps that I want to mention that aren’t on my home screen are:

Ringtone Maker – MP3 Cutter – One feature I miss from Samsung is that when you select a song as a ringtone, it searches the best part of the track to start the ringtone. This app solves that and I can even choose from where start my ringtone.

Datasize Explorer Pro – Whenever I’m running low on space on my phone, I use this app to check which apps take up a lot of space and I should remove or clean the cache of.

WiFi Analyzer – If you are a techie or a networking person, this app is a must on Android devices. It helps you to visualize WiFi to help you troubleshoot issues with WiFi.

And all the other apps, outside of games, are apps from local stores here in Belgium or the Netherlands I use to shop or to buy my retro games from. Or your typical apps that almost everybody has like Shazam. And a few apps I don’t think are worth mentioning.

So, that was quite a lot. I’m quite curious to see which phones you guys have and for what you use it and what apps are on your phones. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. It was something different from what I usually do, but next time I’ll get back into gaming stuff. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Personal: My pet cat Sparta, my twinkling star

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Sparta

° 24/04/2008 –  † 13/07/2018

For those who don’t follow me on social media, I have to bring sad news today. My pet cat died due to the consequences of kidney cancer on 13th July 2018. I have to thank everybody who sends me supportive messages over Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, mail, Discord…

Sparta’s death affects me a lot. So, that’s why I decided that I wanted to write this article for her. I want to honor and thank her for everything she had done for me. Also, for everything she has done for my blog too. So, I’m going to talk a bit about her. I’m sorry if the article is a bit all over the place… Anyways, let’s not get distracted.

In my opinion, she was the mascot for my blog. She served as an inspiration to my nickname. In the past, I had only “Jonez” as a nickname. But, I quickly found that was a commonly used name. As a kid, I had the bright idea to make it “Jonez001”, which was a YouTube username suggestion spit out by the registration form.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Japanese culture. So, I decided to work that into my nickname as well. At that moment, Sparta was enjoying a nap on my lap and that’s when I decided to rebrand myself to NekoJonez. Neko is the Japanese word for cat.

Icon

Sparta also served as inspiration for my blog icon. As you can see, it’s a Gameboy cartridge with my nickname on and with a cat paw print. When ZoeF and I were in a call deciding how it should look, I remember me saying that I really wanted a cat paw print on it.

Besides being an inspiration and mascot for my blog, she was an amazing family cat. She was one of the most affectionate cats that I have ever met. She was also a great companion. She jumped on the sofa closest to me while I was gaming and first watched the TV when I was playing before falling asleep. Sometimes she jumped on my lap, and I remember a few times she actually started purring when I finally had beaten a level or a boss. To be honest, the fact that I started to pet her might have something to do with it.

2016-08-02 17.12.40.jpg

If the weather was clear, she spent most of her days in our garden. Watching that no other cats or animals entered the garden. She was a small cat, some people even though she was still a kitten. But, that didn’t stop her. She attacked or scared the other cats away if they dared to enter her domain. The fact that she does this surprises me since when she was one year old, we got another kitten. And those two became best friends. Sadly enough, that other kitten didn’t come home after a few months.

If the weather wasn’t clear and especially during the winter, she wanted to stay inside. She didn’t like going outside, besides when she had to do her “little room visit”. Something she will be remembered for is when you were sitting on our sofa underneath a blanket, she would jump on the sofa and then go on your legs and fall asleep there. She did that with my mom, my godchild, my sister and myself. And if she didn’t do that, she jumped on the nearest sofa were nobody was sitting and started to sleep there.

During her life, we had to move houses twice. And every time she moved with us. She adjusted pretty quickly after the move as well. It almost felt that she didn’t care where she was. The thing that mattered to her was that she was close to us.

Not long after Sparta was born, she became a stray. Her mother left her behind on the playground of the school where my father teaches. My dad brought her home and placed her into the garage. Not too long before her arrival, I was listing to the Mean Kitty Song by Mr. Safety on repeat on YouTube. That song actually gave Sparta her name. The song is about a very playful kitty that shows a lot of affection. The kitty bites a lot, but in a playful manner. And that’s how Sparta and I met. She actually bit me playfully and then started to play with the ropes on my sweater.

I can sit here and write a whole novel with stories about Sparta. How we found her once sleeping in a watering-can and how I helped her defending herself when she was young. Yeah, Sparta ate her food outside and she was too afraid from other cats to defend herself when they came and stole her food. That’s why I often sat down next to her while she was eating and scared all the other cats away. At night, I used a very strong flashlight my dad has to repair the underside of cars.

Also, for some stories, you had to be there. For example, in my garden, we have a wall covered with ivy. During the summer, the birds love making their nests in it. Sparta knew this and climbing in the ivy to get the nests out of the ivy. And yes, she even caught some birds. It was a funny sight, seeing Sparta disappear into the ivy and then suddenly appearing on top of it.

SpartaSleeping

Something I will never forget about her is that she knew our routines. On 99 out of 100 times, she recognized when we came home or when our car arrived. When she heard that, she came out of her nap spot and sprinted towards the back door and waited to be let in for food. Very occasionally she climbed our garden wall to use the parking lot of our neighbor (which is a martial arts studio) to suddenly appear between your legs at the front door. We never expect this and when she does it, we jumped every single time.

But, seeing her running from the back of the garden when I came downstairs, actually miaowing when we shouted out her name and just being a companion is the Sparta I’ll remember.

So, thank you Sparta for being in our lives these past 10 years. When I take another cat, I’ll give a name to that cat in reference and honor to you. But, you will be missed Sparta. Nothing will be able to fill the void that you left. Now, you are going to twinkle like the star you are in our hearts, where you will live forever in memory.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you didn’t mind me writing this in honor of Sparta. It helped me mourning and processing her death. Thank you for all the support and amazing messages I got from all of you. So, until the next time and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Game Quicky: Grumpy Cat – Worst Game Ever (Android) ~ Wario’s Run For His Money

Grump Cat's Worst Game IconPlay Store page

A meme clone. That’s what I think about this game. But is it a good clone? Let’s first try and say what a meme is. Before I get grumpy about it. Yes, this cat can get grumpy. Extremely grumpy. And that’s good. The Grumpy Cat enjoys being grumpy. But will you enjoy his game? Let’s find out in this game quicky on his Worst Game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

The bad

Grump Cat's Worst Game

Let’s start this time with the negative points of the game.

This is a pretty minor complaint, but the button to go to another world with another section of mini-games should really be placed with the buttons at the bottom.

The “pass and play” feature is interesting, but can be played in single-player? There should also be more options for this mode like which mini-game set you to want to appear.

There is no way to move the moved mini-games to the original position in the room. Expect from dragging them yourself.

You can disable ads, but with ads, you can earn an extra life if you used them all during the mini-games.

The positives

Grump Cat's Worst Game 2

If you have ever played WarioWare Inc. games, you will feel right at home with this game. This game is a clone of that game. And let me tell you, an amazing clone at that.

In this game, you have to complete various mini-games as the Grumpy Cat. If you beat 3 or so in a row, you earn coins.

With those coins, play a slot machine where you either unlock a new mini-game or an extra heart.

You get an extra heart if you grab a mini-game you already unlocked. This heart counts as an additional attempt you can do at the mini-games.

You play the mini-games in random order. If you succeed, you get closer to your coin goal. If you fail, you lose a heart. If you lose them all, you fail and you have to restart from the beginning. Well, from the first price.

It’s a bit tricky to explain on paper, but it explains itself when you are playing the game. The game is really addictive. There aren’t a lot of mini-games I truly dislike. They are all fast and simple tasks that don’t require a lot of thinking but faster relaxes and sharp thinking.

Together with amazing visuals, animations and music; this game is a joy to play. I’m so glad that this game isn’t overloaded with ads. This adds to the enjoyment of the game quite a lot.

You can earn coins easily, but not too easy that you unlock a heart or a mini-game without any challenge. The longer you keep your winning streak up, the faster the mini-games become and the less time you have to beat them.

The game uses this meme quite well. It doesn’t shove it in your throat but uses it to make an interesting game compilation in the theme of the meme. You can use macro images to share your score around.

In total, there are 5 areas with each around 12 cats. That makes for 60 mini-games. The replay value of this game is through the roof as well. And the best of all is, this game is free.

Currently, I’m halfway the 2nd world and I’m highly enjoying myself. It’s addictive and I can’t wait to play it some more. In any case, it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion 

In most cases, clones of existing formulas get a bad reputation. But, I think that this game is worthy of all the praise it’s getting in the Android Play Store. I really had to look for negatives to fill this article.

This game is an excellent time waster and a fun one to play. I even bought some micro-transactions to support the developer since they are implemented so well. You don’t HAVE to buy them, the game gives you enough coins to work with to keep it enjoyable.

My high score is 150 at the moment of writing, I’m curious if you guys will be able to beat it easily.

In any case, I recommend this game to everybody. Give it a look, it’s one of the better Android games I have played this year. I can’t wait to hear what you guys & girls think about it.

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

Review: Miitopia (3DS) ~ How do you look today?

Miitopia.jpgOfficial website

A few years ago, I took a look at Tomodachi Life. This summer, Nintendo released a sort of sequel to that game called Miitopia. While I have finished this game a while ago, I wanted to talk about a few other games before I wanted to talk about this one since I wanted to get my thoughts in order. So, before I keep delaying the review of this game endlessly, here we go. Let’s talk about the adventure Miitopia. 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. 

Make your own story, somewhat

Miitopia.pngSo, the story of Miitopia is that an evil lord is stealing people’s faces. You get the task to chase that evil lord and get everybody’s face back. Now, notice that I didn’t say any character names. That’s because you can pick whichever Mii you have on your system to fill in that role.

You can always switch the roles during the game. So, if you want to change the character you picked for the evil lord or the king, you can change that in the menu system. I’m also quite happy about the fact that they added a lot of Mii’s that reference other Nintendo games or pop-culture. Since there are a lot of roles that need to be filled and if your friend circle isn’t that big, you can add those.

The story of this game is decent. I didn’t expect a lot from the story of this game but if you are a veteran RPG-gamer, you will get a: “I have seen this story mechanic before” vibe quite a lot. I have seen it multiple times. It didn’t bother me that much, to be honest, but I can see it being negative for some.

The writing has the potential to be hilarious. Depending on who you pick a character to fill in certain roles, laughs can be had. There are a lot of clichés in the story and repeated events. You will have to save some people multiple times.

The humor in this game is just great. There is a hero cat class and flower class. In converstations, they all behave like they are humanoid cats or humanoid flowers. The charm is big in this one.

To be honest, near the end of the game, I lost interested in the story. I have seen all the random events, all the random blurbs the characters say, unlocked almost every class until the end; I got felt the repetitiveness coming on.

Playing or watching

miitopiaa

The game is extremely repetitive. Even in the story, when you leave an area, the same things happen. At the start, characters can have arguments and get jealous, but this happens less and less frequent when the game goes on.

At first, you would think that there is a lot to do in this game. But, the only thing you have to do is manage your crew, where you explore and choose what the main character does in battles. There isn’t anything more.

While playing, you would wish that there is a bit more to do or a bit more that could happen. Since the game isn’t challenging at all for most of the time. There are a few enemies that are too overpowered in my opinion.

This game is a casual game. I’m quite sure that this game isn’t going to interest a lot of hardcore gamers. Well, maybe interest but I doubt they will finish it. The potential for a great game is here. Here are a few things that could have made the game more enjoyable.

One, allow the player to control all the characters in battles or at least one. When the main character isn’t around and you are exploring an area, you have to watch the other characters battle.

Two, get rid of the health banana and MP candy mechanic. For real, this is a mechanic I barely ever used. Due to the magical salt, you get to heal your characters quite easily. I used this mechanic so much I had over 50 of each at the end of the game.

Three, have something else to do besides the constant exploring. Break up the gameplay with something else. You do have a Quiz Master running around but he doesn’t show up enough to have some variation.

Four, I wish there was an “auto-cure” item. Whenever a character gets a status effect, you can put it in the safe zone. In that safe zone, it can’t be harmed but it gets healed after a few turns. This mechanic made a few fights too tense and made me lose a few fights against those OP enemies.

Five, if only the game was less linear. In various areas, the game is too linear and you don’t feel like you are exploring the world.

In this game, you have also a friendship mechanic. When you arrive at the inn after you explored, the relationship between the characters improves when they sleep in the same room. When two teams meet each other, they all start at friendship level 0. While you have at least 5 or more with each team member. I wish there were other ways to improve your friendship level. I could explain this in more details but then I would spoil a lot about the story and I want to keep it as spoiler-free as possible.

One thing that disappointed me a lot is the fact that some mission areas get closed off for you after you have beaten the mission. So, if you want to beat every area to the fullest, explore it before you get sealed off from that area. I feel like I missed out on loot you can only get one time. You also don’t get a warning about this.

The battles, which is the meat of this game, are decent. While some classes are fun to play but they have a few flaws with them. I talked about the safe zone earlier. Another issue is that most of the characters that travel with you as an ally are too weak and you can’t see their health bar.

Every 50 enemies you defeat, you get a reward. In most cases, your salts will be upgraded to have 5 more uses. Speaking about these salts, you have a certain amount of salts you can use each time you explore. When you use one salt, you heal one point. When you are out of them, you have to survive until the end of that exploration. There are a few other salts as well, but I’ll leave those up to you to discover.

Presentation

241247-miitopia-casting-call-screenshot

So, in conclusion, the gameplay is pretty basic and I wish it was a more flesh out than what we got.

Difficulty-wise, this game isn’t too challenging. You can beat this game without any problems. In a matter of fact, I only 2 times in this game. (I’m not counting the times I died at the OP enemies here)

You can get 40 hours out of this game when you want to fully complete it. Otherwise, this game will take you around 30 hours. So, if the gameplay and story are just decent, why should you finish this game?

To be honest, the visual charm and presentation it brings to the table is what kept me going. Visually, this game looks amazing. The atmosphere is extremely well done. The theming of the world is in some cases pure eye candy.

In addition, the soundtrack and sound design are pretty well done. The soundtrack is one I would love to add to my library of soundtracks. Together with the sound effects, I was able to get somewhat immersed into the game.

While the story and gameplay lack the impact to make this game good, the visual presentation is helping a lot. The attention to detail in the animations is just a cherry on the cake. For example, when you run while exploring, the cat will run on all fours. Attention to details folks.

In terms of the controls and the UI, I have to say one thing. They are good. I wouldn’t have changed anything.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time for my conclusion and final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Repetitive gameplay.

-The gameplay could have been a bit more fleshed out. (Not enough depth)

-The story is predictable.

-The game is a bit too long in my opinion for this type of gameplay.

-The game is too easy for veteran players.

The good:

+ With you filling in the roles of who is which character, the game can be extremely funny.

+ The visual presentation is amazing.

+ This game has a lot of charm to draw players in.

+ An amazing soundtrack.

Final thoughts:

This game is decent. It’s not good nor is it bad. I think the biggest issue of this game is that the gameplay is a bit too repetitive. While the charm helps this game a lot, it isn’t enough.

I got distracted by other games while I was playing this game and finishing it. I haven’t finished the post game, to be honest, nor am I planning to.

A lot of memories are created by playing this game but I wonder if I’ll be able to remember most of them if we are a few years into the future.

The game could have been so much more if it had more depth but we got what we got. So, yeah. So close but no cigar.

Score: 65/100

BSP S3E5: Spring Anime

Listen to the podcast here: http://www.thebuttonsmashers.com/2014/04/bsp-s3e5-spring-anime/

Game Quicky #001: Catlateral Damage (PC) ~ Still in Alpha

ss (2014-02-16 at 07.50.54)

Welcome to my new series! In this series I’m going to write (short) articles about a game, mod or experience which I wanted to talk about. This will mostly contain in development games, mods for Minecraft or SMF or simple experiences that make you as a person richer. I have no clue how frequent these articles will be so if you want more frequent articles of these, drop me a comment. Oh, this might be a great series to revive my Android games series. Remember those? Anyways, let’s dive right into Catlateral Damage. 

Official site

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So, I got a tweet from a friend over at ButtonSmashersBlog of this game. Yet, I have played this game before. Thanks to his reminder, I wanted to write an article about this silly game. In real life I’m known to delay things. A prime example is this article. I started writing the introduction at mid February and now I finish it around the start of March. Being busy isn’t fun.

So, what can I say about this game? Well, for an amazing graphically beautiful game, you are the wrong spot. This game isn’t that. It’s a game where you play as a naughty cat… And for some readers, please get your mind out of the gutter. Thank you. This cat throws everything on the ground.

Your goal is to get a certain point value in a certain amount of time. Honestly, I haven’t beaten it. But some friends from Arpegi have beaten it.

I’m truly curious where this game is going to go when it’s fully released. I hear myself dreaming about more rooms and music. That would be awesome.

For now, this game is free. And I really recommend it as a sort of time killer. And if you are a YouTuber, an easy video. And I haven’t anything more to say about this game. I will keep an eye on this game and when it’s more developed, I will surely write a first impression.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the introduction to my new series. Catch you next time.

NekoJonez: Top 10 ~ My least favorite games.

1gXjAThere is a lot of shitty games on the market. Yet, in this list, you won’t see a lot of those “easy targets”. This list contains games that you might like or might be good. But the next 5 games I don’t find myself enjoying or there is too much broken in the game for me to finish it. This list is in a totally random order as well. I also challenged myself with picking releases on Steam, Gameboy, PC… And no easy targets like badly programmed Android apps with misguiding information on the market space. So, which games on this list do you dislike as well? And what are your most disliked games list? And why? So, without any further ado, and hoping that my introduction is long enough, for nicer lay-out sake, let’s start this list. Shall we?

#1: Aladdin (Gameboy)

disneys_aladdinArpegi review

What more can I say about this shit that I haven’t told in my original review on my personal blog yet? Nothing much. I remember that I lend this game together with Duck Tales from a cousin. In the day, I was happy to even play shitty games since my parents were extremely strict in buying games for me.

But now, that I got this game from somebody who wanted to give away his collection, I feel a bit sad owning this game. Especially when I those reviews from the better SNES and Sega versions. The jealousy raises extremely fast.

I don’t understand how IGN can let this game pass. There are so many faults with this game that it’s a real shame that people play this game out of only nostalgia and therefore defend it.

Terrible controls, confusing health system, random crashes, bad graphics and even worse weapon range destroy this game completely.

#2: Barbie: Game Girl (Gameboy)

 

Barbie_-_Game_Girl_CoverartWikipedia page

You can now go and judge me all you want, but sometimes I get my games from friends who want to give their old collection, that was gathering dust, to me. A school friend from high school gave me her old Gameboy games as a sort of goodbye gift.

Honestly, when I was a kid, I rarely played my sisters games. One of them was Barbie’s Secret Agent on the Gameboy Advance, and honestly, it’s a rather nice game. I even dare to go as far to recommend it for children and for a good and easy game snack.

So, I thought that it couldn’t be that bad. Oh man, was I proven wrong? This game is extremely bad. One of the worst Gameboy games I ever played.

Weird animations, confusing power-ups, too long death scene, LJN bad jumping, bad sound effects and irritating music just make this game pull your hair out. It’s not even worth to use it to torture your sister with it. It’s that bad.

#3: The cat and the coup (Steam)

catandthecoupSteam page

An interesting designed game doesn’t mean that you’ll get an interesting game. As I tried to review this game and failed to write a great article, I use this opportunity to rip it apart.

Due to its absurd art style, the message and meaning this game tries to deliver get lost extremely quickly. That makes my senses to try to enjoy the actual game. But the game is so boring that you better stay away from it. Unless you enjoy these types of “different games.”

It’s free on Steam, so no harm is done to your wallet. But some puzzles ask too precise timing, the art is just a mess, the menu doesn’t save your settings and confusing progress makes this a bad game. Such a shame while it tries to deliver a message about a president… I think.

#4: Playmobil Interactive – Top Secret Agents (DS)

Playmobil GameArpegi review

I played the first Playmobil game on DS. If I remember correctly, it was the one about knights and kingdoms. It was rather enjoyable. I also played Playmobil Hype on the Gameboy Color. Such a hidden game in the library of Gameboy Color games.

Then I played Playmobil – Pirates on the DS. While it was a step down from the first DS game, it was still rather enjoyable.

Then this “gem” came. And man, while I already ripped this game apart in my original review, I still wish I could rip it a new one again.

This game is complete and utter sh*t compared to what Playmobil games where in the past. From bugged out controls we go to the most cheesy names.

I read a review that this game is a great pass time for kids. But don’t give them this, they deserve better. Give this to your kid when it was naughty. It’s a passable game, but …. Wait, I take that back. It’s a great game to use for an easy rip-apart target.

#5: Nickelodeon – Avatar – The Legend Of Aang (PC)

avatarArpegi’s First Impression

I promised to finish it, but honestly, I deleted it for now. I continued to play it after my first impression article on my blog but I gave up. I couldn’t take the utter failure that is this game.

I even ran into more problems than just the ones I mentioned. Yes, even more, broken-ness in a game. I’m so disappointed at THQ to be a part of this failure. They brought us way better content then this quick cash in.

I own several Avatar games. One on Gameboy advance and another one on PS2. And they pass with ease. They are really good. I even finished the Gameboy Advance game several times.

I wish I had never played this game, to begin with. It had a lot of potential and with a big name like that, it could have been great merchandise and a nice collector item. Yet, even to collectors of Avatar, I say, don’t even dare to torrent this game to take a look. You will regret it so much.

It’s ugly, the controls make no sense, the menu is idiotic, the shortness of the game is displayed on the box, the installation makes the disc spin extremely fast, the installation instructions are on the disc itself… Read more of the faults in my original article.

5 “honorable” mentions.

So, before we close this article, let’s get a bit lazy. I was planning to make a top 10 but I’m tired from a heavy day in college. And I wanted to publish two articles like promised. Also, they installed new outlets in my gaming room so I have to take care of the wiring setup I had. Anyways, the five other games with a short description why I don’t like them, go!

  1. Disney’s Story Studio: Mulan (PS1) – This game made me shudder beyond belief. It’s a kids game but it holds your hand a lot. While it’s one of the best games on this list, I didn’t enjoy my experience.
  2. Flikken 2 – Moord in het hotel Ganda (PC) (Dutch link) – So, making a game from a TV series makes for bad results. But what if you have a local TV show that gets re-created in a game in a country that isn’t ready for gaming studios? You get a rip-off of a game that gets boring extremely quickly.
  3. The Bard’s Tale (PS2) – I just couldn’t get into the humor. I found it actually more annoying to play then funny. Or I just played it on the wrong system.
  4. Dune (PC) – They just tried a tad bit TOO hard with this game. And it makes me dislike the game for its faults. I can’t get into it.
  5. Fortune Summoners: Secret of the Elemental Stone (PC) – I expected a lot more of the developer. They failed to deliver here.

Final words

While I totally changed my mind of which articles I was going to write today, I think this list turned out pretty good. I had this list sitting in a word document since the start of September. And I’m glad to finally write it. Of course, it went under a lot of changes, but which list doesn’t.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this (mini-rant) list. If you want to read my latest review, go over to my personal blog. My latest, 16th, review is a special one since the developers of an Android game mailed me to review their game. And so I did…