Tag Archives: collab

The Point-and-click puzzle Pinnacle – Jonez Edition

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Ah, point-and-click games. Amazing adventure games with amazing stories that stick with you and rarely let go. I have spent countless hours playing these games. When LaterLevels and Quietschisto from RNG approached me with a collab idea, I directly jumped on the wagon to join this adventure. In this article, I’ll talk about my favorite and most hated puzzle in point-and-click adventures. Be sure to check their website for a poll of what other people said that their favorite and least favorite puzzles where. In any case, let’s dive right into my answers since I think I have found some gems to mention.

The polls: greatest puzzleworst puzzle

Terminology

Alright, before we start talking about my favorite puzzles, I want to make sure that nobody is confused about what games I’m talking about. Otherwise, this list would be a bit too broad. Since the Point-And-Click genre is a subgenre of the adventure game genre, I think it’s a good idea to set some ground rules.

Can I use games like Virtue’s Last Reward on this list? Technically, I can. Since these games follow the rules of a point-and-click game. Now, what exactly are the rules? Well, I found that FlossManuals wrote a great explanation of it. Escape Room games are a sort of point-and-click game without a lot of character interaction.

Now, does this give me a free pass to use other visual novels like NG – Spirit Hunter or Another Code: R? That might be stretching the definition a bit too much. These are more adventure games that have a lot of point-and-click elements in them.

And what about Hidden Object games like Adera? Are these games point-and-click games? And in my opinion, yes, they are. These games are the casual version of the point-and-click genre of games with just an additional repeated mini-game.

Another great question is, do point and click games have to be 2D? The reason I’m asking that question is, the two first Broken Sword games are famous point-and-click adventure games but is the 3rd game still a point-and-click game? This brings us in a gray zone. Think about this, if you don’t consider the 3rd Broken Sword game to be a point-and-click game since it’s in 3D and uses 3D puzzles, what about Myst and Riven? These games appear on top 10 point-and-click lists all the time.

We could be here discussing this for hours upon hours. Talking about the rise and fall of the genre, but Ed Jefferson wrote an interesting piece on that for the NewsStateMan in January. Maybe that will help to give more clarity to what exactly makes a game a point-and-click game… But, I think it’s high time we start talking about my favorite and least favorite puzzles in these games, otherwise, we would be here for hours.

Most hated puzzle

Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) – Monkey Combat

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Oh dear lord, this puzzle is something I truly hate. Let me set the scene for you. Back in 2013, I almost completed Escape From Monkey Island on my PS2. I enjoyed myself quite a lot, with the funny writing and the fourth wall breaks.

While some puzzles give me some challenges, I was always able to overcome them and get to the next section of the game. But, near the ending, there is a huge puzzle that is always randomized so you are unable to find a walkthrough for it.

This puzzle is an expanded version of Rock-Paper-Scissors with monkeys called Monkey Combat. This puzzle really made me take several notes and hope that I was able to be lucky so I could fill in all the squares. Guides like the one of GameBoomers or this one were ones I tried out, but either my copy was bugged or I did something wrong… and I was never able to beat the puzzle.

To be quite honest, I stopped playing the game and deleted my save file out of frustration. Maybe now that I’m a bit more experienced with solving these types of puzzles, I might go back to the game and retry this whole section but it really put me off in trying to beat this game again just to get stuck on that part again.

Favorite puzzle

Zero Time Dilemma (3DS) – Healing Room

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The Zero Escape trilogy. One of my favorite trilogies ever made. More often than not, I find myself referring to these games when I’m reviewing adventure games.

When we are talking about my favorite puzzle, I think we should talk about the Healing Room puzzle of the 3rd game, Zero Time Dilemma.

This escape room puzzle is amazing. It quite creative and requires a lot of thought. Without spoiling the puzzle too much, I’ll explain what makes this puzzle so great.

First of all, you are playing a game where your life is on the line. When you don’t escape out of the room, something terrible might happen and you might be unable to survive. This alone makes this healing room is a strange breath of fresh air. It’s a relaxing room where the tense atmosphere goes away for a bit.

The room was actually built for that purpose. You are in a bomb shelter and to not go crazy, you can enter this healing room to relax and come back to your senses.

The second reason why this puzzle is so great is that this puzzle is just extremely fun to solve. It has various puzzles that all fit the various wallpapers you can choose for the room. The flow of the room is just amazing and once everything starts to click, you get bumped out when it’s over.

And my third and final reason is a story reason. The events that happen just before and after this room are one of the best parts of the game and just turn the whole mystery of this game on its head.

Final words

And those are my two picks for this collaboration. There are so many more puzzles I could talk about, so I think I might revisit this topic in the future. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and opinions on the chosen puzzles and your favorite and least favorite puzzle. I’m curious to hear them.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Be sure to check out LaterLevel’s website to vote for your favorites and check out other websites their pick. But, that will be it for me, for now. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

NekoJonez’s August 2019 Update

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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.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

downloadToday I want to talk about something extremely objective subjective. Something not a lot of people agrees on. That subject is the difficulty in games. This isn’t unique to video gaming since other entertainment mediums can be difficult to understand, analyze or appreciate. But, the difficulty is one of the most important factors in gaming. In order to write this article, I have asked in various groups what their opinions about game difficulty are. Are games today too easy? Are difficult games fun to play? Are old school games too difficult? I got some extremely interesting replies. Now, if you have your own opinion on this subject, I would love to talk about it in the comment section down below. Of course, keep it civil down there, everybody has a different opinion.

My own views on game difficulty.

Keep in mind that the following thoughts and opinions are mine. It’s quite possible that you think in a different way due to your different experiences in gaming and/or life. Like I said in the introduction of this article, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions on the content of this article and or the subject. With that out of the way, on with the show.

Now, with such a broad subject as game difficulty, it’s quite tricky to give a full opinion. In the introduction alone, I gave a few different angles I could take this article. In addition to that, this subject is extremely subjective. For example, I’m not rhythmic at all. When I talk about the DS, a lot of people talk about games like Elite Beat Agents, a rhythm game. I have to admit that I find this game too difficult.

pokemon goFirst of all, let’s talk about a sentence you often hear us older players say: “Games today are too easy.” Are they really too easy? Well, they became easier in one way but more challenging too. For example, take the Pokémon games. When Game Freak remade the 3rd generation on Nintendo 3DS, one of the biggest complaints was that the game was too easy. And yes, I finished the game without losing 3 battles during the whole playthrough and 2 of these loses were because I wasn’t paying attention during the battle and forgot to heal my Pokémon and the other loss was because I forgot that grass was weak to flying and I most had grass Pokémon in a flying gym. Whoops.

photoNow, why do I think that games can be too easy nowadays? That’s has two reasons. The first reason is that games just got more accessible. Because of the growth of the hobby, a lot more people play video games. So, there need to be ways for every style of player to play video games, even the youngest ones. Thankfully, you have difficulty options that can provide the other players with some additional challenges. Sadly enough, not all games do this. In most games, the difficulty settings have a small explanation of what each level means.

And this brings me to the second reason why games are too easy nowadays and that’s a skill. I have been playing games since I was a young lad. I started playing games give or take 21 years ago. During these years, I have played a TON of games and got a TON of different experiences. That means I have seen quite a lot and the chances of a puzzle stumping me or a fight being too difficult to get slimmer with every game I play.

Is this a bad thing? It depends on what you are looking for in a game. Do you want a game that challenges your strategizing skills or the ability to solve puzzles than the lower difficulty can be a problem? If you are looking for a game to play to pass the time, in that case, the drop in difficulty shouldn’t matter that much.

resident evil 4It’s always a difficult balancing act in how difficult you make your game. Since if a game is too difficult, people will stop playing. A great example for me is Resident Evil 4. There is a section in that game where during an already hectic fight, two chainsaw enemies spawn that kill you instantly when they come to close. There were three times that one of those enemies actually spawned right behind me, giving me no time nor room to turn around and defend myself. These moments I actually rage quitted the game. Another example is Atelier Rorona. The amount of depth in this game is just insane. You have to think about so many things like the freshness of ingredients, how long it takes to collect them and get them home, the amount of MP you have to fight and or craft… It was quite challenging to balance all of these things.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedThat brings me to the question, what makes a game difficult and how difficult should a game be? It speaks for itself that how more layers of gameplay and mechanics you add, the more difficult a game becomes. Take Europa Universalis 4 for example. In this grand strategy game, there are so many mechanics; it’s not even funny anymore. The complexity of a game can turn some people off. I would love to play Europe Universalis 4 with more people but most of my friends don’t understand how the game works or get too scared when they hear how many things they need to think about while playing the game.

In a way, the difficulty of a game can limit your audience. I would love to play a game like Cuphead, but from what I have seen and tried, the game is a bit too much for me. I don’t really like games that depend on memorization or trying over and over again. This makes the game boring and repetitive in my eyes. For me personally, I want to have a great time while I’m playing games. I want some parts to be challenging and test the skills I learned during the game and I want some sections to be easy to play through so I can relax and enjoy the game.

SI_NDS_NewSuperMarioBrosDS_image1600wA game series that nailed difficulty, in my opinion, is the Super Mario World games. In these games, you learn by playing the game. You might have heard this explanation in various other videos or articles but if you haven’t heard it yet, allow me to explain. At the start of the level, you are able to experiment with a new level mechanic in a safe area. One where you can easily avoid the enemies and you don’t have death pits. And the further you go in the level, the more challenging the mechanic or level gimmick becomes. And during the later and last stages of the game, all the challenges are combined into one big final set of levels that test your skills and what you learned through the game. In a way, you can compare it to school. The early levels and sections are the classes while the later levels and finale of the game are the final test/exam.

Now, should games become “NES-hard” again? To be honest, I think we shouldn’t do that. In the current gaming climate, we get a lot of games inspired by the more challenging nature of older games and we also get easier games. That means we have options. Now, we’re all old school games difficult? Were games more challenging in the past? Well, that’s a tricky question to answer.

Tomb Raider LegendFor example, I grew up with the original Tomb Raider games. When I play these games today, I don’t have a lot of trouble with jumping from platform to platform. Of course, due to the limitations of the systems at the time, it wasn’t always clear to which ledge you should jump and how you should make that jump. In more recent games, a better visual presentation helps out with that problem a lot. This “issue” became clear when I did the Tomb Raider project. Some people in that collaboration had never played an old school Tomb Raider game and gave it a try for the first time. And because they were more used to the newer style of the series or the newer style of play in more modern games, they had trouble during the game.

Something I often got during my search for writers in the Tomb Raider project was: “Also the old Tomb Raider games that aged poorly?” or something similar. I completely agree that the original Tomb Raider games aged poorly. The newer Tomb Raider games, and not per se the more modern games, play better because the developers improved their craft and learned a lot from developing the previous entries in the series.

I don’t find all retro-inspired games that difficult. I was able to beat some without much trouble like Blossom Tales or Retro Game Challenge. While I did had some trouble in Shovel Knight because I haven’t played a lot of games similar to that.

When I was researching and brainstorming for this article, I came to the conclusion that there are 4 types of difficulty in my eyes.

The first type is the intended difficulty. This is planned by the developers to challenge you during the game. Think about a Zelda dungeon where you get a new item in a dungeon and you have to learn to use it or remember the places where you were unable to progress and needed to use the item.

The second type is an unintended difficulty. This was an unplanned difficulty due to bugs, randomness (like RNG or random generation) or just plain bad game design. Or it can be because of things like certain mechanics. For example, a lot of people complained when Super Mario 64 DS came out. While it’s a good remake, the controls weren’t loved by various reviews because the original game was designed with a joystick in mind while the DS didn’t have a joystick.

The first two types can be mixed with the other two types.

The third type is a fair difficulty. With this I mean, the game provides you with a challenging and rewarding experience. Like, you finally figured out how to beat that one puzzle or beat that one boss.

The fourth type of difficulty is, you guessed it, unfair difficulty. Now, this can be because of bad and or lazy game design but this can also be a huge spike in difficulty. A great example is Suikoden Tierkreis for me. Overall, the game is somewhat easy. If you don’t skip too many battles and pay attention to what you are doing, the game isn’t all too challenging. I rarely to never saw the game over screen. Until I came to the final boss. This annoying battle gets such a difficulty spike that made me not fully finish the game and actually look up the ending online. Now, while writing this article, I actually restarted playing the game and I’m hell-bent in finally beating the game this time.

The more difficulty of type 2 and 4 you have, the worse it becomes for your game. One time a developer asked me to review an Android game. In this game, you had to feed various foods to some customers. The issue was, all of the dishes were based on Asian dishes and I’m European. I barely know anything about Asian cuisine. The unfair difficulty in this game is that almost nothing was explained in the game about the foods themselves. So, I was unable to figure out which food was what, so it became a guessing game.

Another example of unfair difficulty is more recent. A developer asked me to review a Switch game they just released. The game is a twin-stick shooter and in the shooting tutorial, there were two spawners in the room that spawned so many enemies so quickly, it became overwhelming. You shouldn’t put so many enemies in the first level of your game while the player is still learning the basic mechanics of the game. That’s unfair.

headerDoes a game like Dark Souls have unfair difficulty? Well no, the game is quite balanced in my opinion. There is a lot of risk and reward gameplay, the punishment is just a bit too harsh in my opinion. But the game becomes beatable when you learn the finer details of the game and get used to the inner workings of the game.

The line and difference between the four types are really thin and make it still personal. Speaking of personal, some people talk proudly when they were able to beat a certain game on the highest difficulty. While that is impressive, you shouldn’t look down upon people having trouble on the lower difficulties. While my gaming buddy MiseryLC can beat the AI in Europe Universalis IV on hard, I feel that the normal difficulty provides just enough challenge for me.

I think it would be a great development if all games have difficulty sliders. The more you can adjust the difficulty, the better. Something I really loved in the Etrian Odyssey series is that you can change the difficulty setting when you are in the town without any other punishments. This is great because when I was unable to beat a certain boss and almost stopped playing, I was able to lower the difficulty a bit so I was able to beat the boss and move on. After I had beaten the boss, I set the difficulty back on normal. This is a perfect system since people can choose how easy or hard you want the game to be.

Now, I have said quite a lot about the topic now. To avoid this article becoming a bit too long or having too much rambling, I think it’s time to let some of my friends talk. I want to thank everybody for their input since they helped me quite a lot while putting my thoughts together for this article.

How others think about difficulty.

Now, I asked around on various groups on Discord and Facebook on their opinions on game difficulty. Here is what they have to say. Note, some quotes I translated from Dutch to English. Some quotes had minor edits since sometimes contained an answer to another topic in the conversation or something in those lines.

The following quotes come from a Facebook group where Belgian retro game collectors gather.

Ward: “Some games are pretty challenging due to their difficulty like Slain and Cuphead. But other games hold your hand, but that doesn’t always take away from the fun of the game. It really depends on the game and how enjoyable the story is.”

Hakim: “Sometimes a too difficult game can be really frustrating. And out of this frustration, the game can go on my shelves to be never played again.”

Kenny: “Personally, I think that the player should have a choice how difficult the game should be. Some games I play personally for the story and not for an extreme challenge.”

Mayu: “For me, a game can never be too difficult. I’ll play until the end as long as the difficulty, challenge, story and such are fun. It already happened that I was disappointed when I bought a new game and I finished it without issue. The solution for this is lately, collection or completion rewards. Some of them are really letdowns. In the past, gaming was a very niche hobby. When a game was too difficult, you just had to try and try again. But, now that gaming isn’t a niche hobby anymore, the difficult games don’t sell that well anymore. And with companies trying to make as much profit as possible…”

Koen: “Making a game extremely difficult is no issue for me. As long as all the elements of the game are fun, it doesn’t matter to me. I really enjoy the rewarding feeling of finally being able to beat a game at the highest difficult setting after trying on it for weeks and seeing the real/true ending. But, when the story is garbage and I have to replay the game on a harder difficulty setting, I won’t be spending my time on a new playthrough.”

Niels: “As long as a game stays fair, it’s worth my time. Nowadays, there are a lot of games that are too easy for everybody to play. From endless tutorial sections to special power-ups when you die a lot and sometimes even a skip button, these are just a few things that you find more and more in modern games. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as they are optional or are disabled by higher difficulty settings. Something I really want to stress, a game that is too difficult thanks to bad enemy placement, terrible controls or bad decisions is a bad game.”

Xavier: “I prefer easier games. There are a lot of games that are quite enjoyable to play. It doesn’t matter to me if games are shorter, I usually buy them at a lower price after they have been released for a while. It’s better then having to play a game where you have to retry a section 20 times to finish it.”

Dennis: “I usually start a game on normal mode. Depending on my experience, I raise or lower the difficulty. So, this means that I play some games on easy, some on normal and some on the hardest difficulty. I don’t really enjoy games where you respawn a thousand times before you can continue and especially when you have the same issue 10 minutes later in the next section. If I enjoyed the game enough, I might replay it on a higher difficulty setting. Most of the games interest me for somewhere between 10 to 20 hours. But, this is absolutely not the case for me with Final Fantasy games.”

The following opinions are from fellow bloggers or friends in the blogging world.

Aiphafemaie: “A couple thoughts – I think games felt more difficult in the past because you had to rely more on yourself to figure out how to pass levels or quests. Or printing out walkthroughs from GameFaqs.com lmao.  Now when you’re stuck, you can just to YouTube and see how it’s done. I don’t think games were more difficult in the past, but “difficult” is a subjective word.  Today’s games do have varying difficulty modes, in comparison to the past. Before most games could only be played on default.”

TwoTall4uFool: “I think there was a lot of trial and error with games back in the 80’s and 90’s. Even in the 2000’s. Aiphafemaie you bring up a great point about GameFaqs but there are some games out there that I would’ve never beaten if it wasn’t for Game Genie/Gameshark. Today in games you have tutorials and of course there is YouTube. And even with plug and plays such as the SNES Classic you can rewind and try a part again if you fail. And plus suspend you point. So emulating older games have made them easier ….. sort of.”

ReaperInteractive: “I agree with @aiphafemaie . Games in the past had no clear instructions or clear, “Go here to pass to the next level.” Games nowadays are a lot more direct and I feel that developers intentianally make these instructions extremely clear as to make the game as playable and prevent people from giving up midway. A little more on the note. There have been games where the instructions were so unclear that I literally had no clue what to do and ended up giving up. Another reason I feel that games nowadays are a lot easier is because we’ve played the same basic mechanic over and over again as to games in the past, there were hundreds of different mechanics. Most games nowadays can be grouped into a couple dozen genres with the same mechanic and controls. Contrary to this, I feel that games in the past are composed of hundreds of different genres, some completely new to the people hence why I feel that why games in the past are a tad more difficult than those of our age.”

The Well Red Mage: “I think that games can still pretty hard now, some of them, but there are new varieties of games now. There are brutal platformers as a subgenre now that are built on difficulty, but then there are also walking simulators and interactive movies now that eschew difficulty almost entirely. I think some would say that the difficulty of retro games was such that it was unfair, but I think that the lives systems and the memorization of patterns (two very retro-centric ideas of difficulty) are perfectly valid; we maybe just don’t have the toleration for them that we used to. Those games were still demanding something of the player (memory or timing). So I think this is a conversation that benefits from specifics like specific games and specific features in those games that bring difficulty into the equation (memorization, level design, limited options or limited chances to complete a challenge, longer periods without save features, increasing speed, item management, enemy AI… all those things are specific features that games then and now used and use to create difficulty).”

The Badly Backlogged Mage/MrBacklog: “I think the obvious-but-unhelpful answer is “as difficult as they need to be to convey the desired experience”. Dark Souls, the Walking Dead and Mario Party are all different in terms of difficulty because they’re going for different experiences.”

OverThinkerY: “I think there are different ways of adding difficulty – Backlogged makes a good point about those games being difficult in different ways as part of the experience. There’s perhaps the most classic sort of difficulty, which is reacting and executing the right series of inputs quickly enough to proceed, and then there are things more dependent on memory, ingenuity, or sheer emotional fortitude. I think there are more examples these days of different sorts of difficulty other than simply pressing buttons accurately, which might be down to better tech or just natural progression, but it enables different kinds of experiences to be made effective in that way.”

Mail Order Ninja Mage/Daniel Flatt: “Difficulty is the hardest thing to get right in video games. If you push back too hard you lose all but your most dedicated player, if you don’t present any challenge then moderately skilled players become bored. Like everyone said above it is drastically different depending on the game and furthermore the individual playing.

That being said games aren’t necessarily easier than they were before, but they have become better at not wasting our time. Games previously were artificially hard, first because checkpoints and saves weren’t a thing, and then because many NES games are a handful of hours long without constantly starting over. They had to have that difficulty to make the game worth it, can’t have Billy coming to you after an hour and asking for a new game. I dare anyone to play B side levels of Celeste and say games are easier, but the difference is you don’t have to play through the same 30 minutes over and over to finally get through something and die 20 seconds later to start all over.

The best games have difficulty determined by the player, Nintendo excels at this, but one of the best examples is Ori. It has a function where you basically create your own checkpoints or don’t, depending on your preference. It could be brutally hard, but if I get to try again right away for a certain section it wasn’t wasting my time making me play the same section a hundred times.”

Now, as you can read, the opinions are extremely diverse when it comes to difficulty. This brainstorm was extremely interesting to do. I honestly think that I’ll return to this topic in the future. Before I close this article, I want to point you to an article created by Rob “I Played The Game” Covell that he wrote in 2017 about the same subject. “A Difficult Conversation”.

Closing off

Like I said in the previous paragraph, the conversation of how difficult a game could be or if games are too easy nowadays gets quite diverse opinions. While this topic could be discussed for hours and the opinions will go in various directions, I think I’ll close off this article here. I’m quite curious about what everybody thinks. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic at a later date.

If you have written or talked about this subject in the past or know a great resource like another article or video, feel free to send me a message with the link. Maybe I’ll include it in the next article. And with that said, I think I’ll really end off this article. Thank you, everybody, for helping me put this article together. It was a blast. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Tomb Raider – Writer’s Raid

Tomb_Raider_raid

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

Official website

The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy are series that have a lot of loving fans. Now, besides the Legend of Zelda series, there is another series that had a strong presence in my childhood. As a child, I fell in love with the Indiana Jones franchise. I played the various Indiana Jones games until either the cartridge or the CD gave up. Now, I wanted more. Because of that lust for more, I discovered the Tomb Raider franchise. The first Tomb Raider game I ever played was Tomb Raider 5 – Chronicles. That was enough for me to decide to hunt down all Tomb Raider games and play them from start to finish. And I’m not the only one who enjoys Tomb Raider and let me prove that to you, I’m going to raider the various tombs this franchise throws at us together with some amazing befriended bloggers. I hope you are ready since various treasures of articles will await you in these tombs. Let’s. Get. Raiding.

1996 – Tomb Raider

Tomb_Raider_(1996)Games With Coffee takes us through Lara’s adventure to help Natla.

Grab yourself a cup of coffee, since we are taking a journey through the good old first entry of Tomb Raider.

Together with Games With Coffee we take a nostalgic look to Tomb Raider and discover how it “holds up” today. Depending on who you ask of course.

The analysis of this game is extremely well done and made me remember various stories of the first time I played Tomb Raider. Seriously, give it a read! 

1997 – Tomb Raider II Featuring Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIABXY Game Reviews is following Lara through her journey to find a Dragon’s dagger!

ABXY Game Reviews really wanted to play an old school Tomb Raider game. And I was looking for writers. A match made in heaven I think.

In heaven, that’s where the object Lara is after in her second adventure. A mythological Chinese dagger can came from the heavens that can turn mere mortals into dragons.

Did ABXY Game Reviews enjoy his journey through old school Tomb Raider or do fans of this game get blinded by nostalgia? You have to read this article to find out.

1998 – Tomb Raider III – The Adventures of Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIINekoJonez helps us find four artifacts.

I love telling this story. When I first played Tomb Raider III, I thought I was playing Tomb Raider IV. The reason for that, well, I explained that in my nostalgic look-back of Tomb Raider III.

I tried to avoid writing a review for this game and give some retrospective facts. But it was great fun playing through this game again for this project.

So please, feel free to give one of my entries in this project a read.

1999 – Tomb Raider IV – The Last Revelation

Tomb_Raider_-_The_Last_RevelationSarahsGameCollection is going to take us on a journey to raid the Egyptian tombs!

I discovered Sarah’s website through this project. And I haven’t regretted it at all. Her website is a joy to browse through and read.

Her unique writing style is something I love most about her website. While she writes, she adds personal comments like if she is telling a story to you and it’s great fun to read.

I think that this article came together quite well since it made me want to replay Tomb Raider IV for myself.

2000 – Tomb Raider V – Chronicles

Tomb_Raider_-_ChroniclesTriformTrinity is taking us to Lara’s funeral…?

If you want to know if you should play Tomb Raider Chronicles, you shouldn’t look further. Triform Trinity wrote a short review of the game.

I wrote an article on this game last year, and it shows how people can differ in opinion.

Anyways, I  highly recommend you reading this article. It was a joy to work with TriformTrinity and reading his through his website is such a great and fun time. Since I can assure you that I always have a fun time when I visit his website.

 

2000 – Tomb Raider Level Editor

Tomb_Raider_Level_EditorNekoJonez took a look at Tomb Raider fan’s levels.

I have to admit that I was planning to write an article about the level editor for Tomb Raider for quite a while.

To be honest, this game is one of the reasons why I organized this collaboration in the first place. Since it’s a creative platform that brings a community together. And this project is the perfect “excuse” to talk about something unique like this.

So, if you are curious about what the level editor can do, feel free to read it on my blog and I hope you like it.

2003 – Tomb Raider – Angel of Darkness

Tomb_Raider_-_The_Angel_of_DarknessSarah’s Game Collection is helping to solve this murder mystery…

If there is one Tomb Raider game I haven’t fully played it, it has to be Tomb Raider – Angel of Darkness.

I heard so many things about it. From it being a bad game to being a decent game. After reading the review that Sarah wrote for this game I got even more interested in finishing this game.

Now, I invite you to read along with me this amazing analysis of the final game that Core worked on in the series.

2006 – Tomb Raider Legend

Tomb_Raider_-_LegendLiana takes us on the legendary journey for a sword.

In this retrospective collaboration project, I always give freedom to the writers. This resulted in Liana writing an amazing piece where she analyzed the game very deeply.

Not only that, she talks about the history and development of this game. And she even took a deeper look at who Lara Croft actually is.

I can highly recommend that you give this article by Liana a read. And if you are interested in more of her work, you can also visit her YouTube channel, which I HIGHLY recommend as well.

And allow me to slip some personal advertisement in as well since I reviewed this game last year myself.

2007 – Tomb Raider – Anniversary

Tomb_Raider_-_AnniversaryGames with Coffee takes us, again, on Lara’s adventure to help Natla…

Now, I hope your coffee didn’t go cold since we are going to take a look at the remake of Tomb Raider I.

Games with Coffee brings you a very in-depth review and look at this game. He played it on Steam. I played this game on my PC as well and I have to agree with a lot he said in the article.

This game was one of the games that really drew me into the whole Tomb Raider franchise and it hasn’t let go since.

2008 – Tomb Raider Underworld

Tomb_Raider_-_UnderworldLiana takes us on a journey through the underworld.

Now, Liana takes a look at Tomb Raider Underworld in a very interesting way. You won’t find a review of the game in this article but a very interesting in-depth analysis of the game’s story.

Reading the article was extremely interesting. It helped me to connect some dots I didn’t even realize that there were before.

She also analyses Lara’s character and how it all fits in the lore of the series. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go read Liana’s article!

2010 – Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Lara_Croft_and_the_Guardian_of_LightLaterLevels is going to battle for the light.

After I finished Tomb Raider Underworld, I was waiting on the next entry in the Tomb Raider series. To my surprise, we had to wait 5 years on a new entry in the main series.

Yet, during this wait, we got Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. A game that’s on my endless backlog list.

When I talked to Kim from LaterLevels and asked her if she wanted to be part of the Tomb Raider project, she suggested playing this game on stream together with her other half. She didn’t stream this game but the other spin-off. More on that later.

Now, what did she think of this game? You can read it in Kim’s article. Enjoy!

2013 – Tomb Raider

TombRaider2013OverThinkerY takes us to a Japanese island…

“A famous explorer once said, that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are. I’d finally set out to make my mark; to find adventure. But instead adventure found me. In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something; Something that keeps us going. Something that pushes us.”

That was one of the best quotes out the reboot of Tomb Raider in 2013. In this article, my good friend OverThinkerY took a look at the game. His analysis is great and I loved reading his article. I think you will enjoy it as well.

Also, this game has a special place for me on my blog since it’s the first game I reviewed since I started my English blog in 2013. You can read it here.

2014 – Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

Lara_croft_and_the_temple_of_osiris_artLaterLevels takes us on a journey through the Temple of Osiris.

So, Kim didn’t know that there were two spin-off games. When I told that to Kim, she didn’t hesitate for a second and decided that she wanted to also write about the 2nd spin-off game.

Kim did a stream of this game together with her other half. You can watch Twitch.TV archive in case you missed it: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/310930370

But I also highly recommend to check out her review of this game. Since I loved reading it.

2015 – Lara Croft: GO! & Lara Croft Relic Run

TriformTrinity puzzles his way through various tombs…

…and runs for relics.

Now, in this Writer’s Raid, we also took a look at two Lara Croft mobile games. These are Lara Croft Go and Lara Croft Relic Run. Honestly, I have played a bit of Lara Croft GO myself, but I haven’t played a lot of Lara Croft Relic Run.

So, if you are curious if these games are something for you and worth buying on your Android or iOS device, I think you will enjoy these two articles that TriformTrinity wrote. Have a great read!

2015 – Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise_of_the_Tomb_RaiderOverThinkerY looks at Lara’s rise in Lara Croft.

Of course, had Tomb Raider (2013) to end with a cliff hanger. So, the story could continue in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

OverThinkerY takes a great look at the game and gives his own honest opinion on it. (And I gave mine a few years ago)

Something I really liked in OverThinkerY’s article is that he compared this game to what he likes in other games. And he played this game with the DLC included. So, give it a read, I can highly recommend it.

2018 – Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

SotTR_HERO-1-heroNekoJonez is going to take us on Lara’s latest journey.

While we were planning this project, the newest Tomb Raider game got released. To be honest, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to play this game anyways and I felt that it was a perfect way to close this collaboration.

So, what did I think of Lara’s latest adventure? If you want to know that, you’ll have to read my article on Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

And then this was the loot

I knew in advance that the group of writers for this project was going to be very different compared to my previous projects. I want to thank all the writers who helped me in this project, some even replayed games which didn’t age too well.

I hope you enjoyed reading this collaboration between me and these lovely bloggers: Games With Coffee, ABXY Game Reviews, Sarah’s Game Collection, Liana Kerzner, TriformTrinity, LaterLevels, and OverThinkerY.

Do check these people out! They are all amazing people and I have to thank all of them to make this become a reality. Besides The Legend of Zelda, Tomb Raider is one of the biggest series from my childhood and reading all these different pieces made me remember why I love the series.

I have to admit that the games didn’t age all too well so it was quite interesting to see what everybody thought about the games they played.

I hope you enjoyed reading through these articles and enjoyed exploring the websites that made this unique project come to life. Feel free to be a Tomb Raider and explore these websites since they are all great sites that I can highly recommend.

If you want to read more articles like these, last year I did a similar project like this on the Zelda series. Also, my friend the Well-Red Mage did something similar to the Final Fantasy series. So, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating 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!

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

Tomb_Raider_raid

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

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

SotTR_HERO-1-heroWikipedia entrySteam Store page

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

Trinity awaits you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take a jaw-dropping picture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orchestral exploration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, pacing and voice acting.

+ Amazing visual presentation.

+ In-game store.

+ Great soundtrack & sound design.

+ Great final boss.

+ Nostalgic outfits.

+ …

The bad:

-Some mechanics are underused.

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

Final thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care. Also, be sure to check out the hub article where you can read more articles on the Tomb Raider series. More information is at the start of this article.

Score: 90/100

Creative Christmas #12 – Game Of The Year (2017)

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Yesterday was the final day of double articles since the holidays are almost over for me. So, I to start today with is the final article in the creative Christmas collab I did with LaterLevels. It was quite an enjoyable ride and I hope you all enjoyed the stories told in the past few days. The question for today is a question that sort of relates to yesterday’s article where I talked about my favorite games of 2017. Now, I have to make a hard decision. Just look at the question to understand why. Also, remember, this is my opinion here okay? 

You wake up the following morning, hungover but happy – you have an entire day of gaming ahead of you. You start thinking back over the video games you played during 2017; what was your game of the year?

This year had a lot of great games released. While I haven’t played them all, I do have to admit that I had a lot of fun. While I personally dislike picking one game and putting it at number one, to say it’s the best game made that year; I’m going to do my best this time to pick a winner.

So, the rules for myself here are: the game had to be released in 2017 and I had to play it for at least 3 hours. This narrows down my list to quite a few games. It makes it easier to work with too.

layton lady katrielle mystery journeyThe first two games that I scrap from my list are two amazing 3DS titles. Those are Metroid Samus Returns and Ever Oasis. Both games are great, but I felt that I enjoyed other titles more this year on the 3DS.

Now, I’m left for the 3DS with the amazing titles of Corpse Party and the new Layton game. Since the Corpse Party game is a more expanded port/remake of the PSP version of the game, I’m going to put the new Layton game in favor of the handheld games. The first nominee is Layton’s, Mystery Journey.

BreathoftheWildFinalCoverIn terms of systems where I can play the newly released games on, I think I can still count the Wii U. While barely any games released this year for the platform, one of the biggest titles ever made on the platform. I’m talking about The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild.

This game was finally released after years of waiting. I’m assuming that the needed all this time to polish up this game. It’s an extremely large game and there is a lot to do in the game.

Now, I do know that this game got a lot of prizes at the Game Awards this year, it got even Game of the Year from the press and critics at that show. But, will it get my spot for my game of the year? Well, keep reading this article to get your answer. Unless you spoiled yourself and already read the bottom of the article to get your answer.

A Hat in Time2But before I can say which is my game of the year, I do have to look at the PC. I have also played a ton of games on the PC this year. Games that were released in the past and games released this year. If I have to pick one game for the best game this year on PC, it has to be “A Hat In Time“.

This game surprised me to no end! I’m still amazed at how much fun this game is. This game also knew a long development process and it’s quite clear that the developers really want this game to be the best it can be. They try and fix reported bugs as quickly as they can. They also talk to their fans over at their Discord server.

Also, I’m waiting for the upcoming DLC that this game is going to get in the near future with more vanilla content. Meanwhile, I’m keeping myself busy with various mods and trying to 100% complete the game and get all achievements. For my game of the year pick on PC, I have to say “A Hat In Time”.

Now, let’s think about that, what game shall I put as my game of the year in 2017? Now, I think it’s best that I only pick a game that I have already beaten. That means that Layton’s Mystery Journey falls off my list.

This means that the selection is between Breath of The Wild and A Hat In Time. Now, I’m going to surprise a lot of you readers. If you keep in mind that I’m such a big Zelda fan and I have put over 120 hours into the game. While I only put roughly 20 hours into A Hat In Time and it’s a new IP.

But, my game of the year pick has to go to one game, a game that won by an extremely small margin. And the winner is:

A Hat In Time

Why not Breath of the Wild?

Oh yes. A Hat In Time. Now, why didn’t I pick Breath Of The Wild as my game of the year? Why does a Zelda fan pick a different game than a Zelda game as his game of the year? Now, let me explain where I’m coming from here.

First of all, I think that some mechanics of BOTW don’t really fit the Zelda Universe. I know that the Zelda formula needed some changes and some new ideas, but I feel like they changed a bit too much. Personally, I adore the open world and all the various things you can do in the world, but still.

I miss the lengthy dungeons and unlocking every new skill in a sort of order. Now, what I mean here is that this game misses two big elements. One is the large dungeons since the divine beasts aren’t long enough. In addition to that, I feel like the first part of the game is just, too restrictive. All the powers you can use in the game are given to you at the start of the game.

I would have loved a way to discover the world and discover some areas and find those powers myself. This would have been a much better way to introduce the player to the mechanics.

Korok-SeedIn addition to that, I feel like the game is a bit too big for its own good. I’m not complaining that there are too many or too few contents, but I feel like some shrines and some korok seeds were a bit uninspired. For example, I felt that there were too many “Tests of Strenght” shrines.

botw shrineI think I can explain myself the best by saying that Breath of The Wild misses something in my opinion. I think the issue I have with the game is that it is too repetitive. Please, don’t misunderstand me now. I’m not saying that the game is bad or that it isn’t a Zelda game.

After you looked for a few shrines, did a few Korok Seeds or did a few side quests, you have seen all the main mechanics. Of course, they are used in different situations, but some things just feel the same with a different coat of paint.

Also, after a while, you feel like you are overpowered and you can handle anything in the game. There is barely anything the game can throw at you to surprise you. Besides, powering up the enemies you find in the wild.

Besides that, I do feel that the game missed something big. Why can’t I have two save files without having to fear to lose access to one? If that’s possible, please tell me. Since I want to start a new save file in Master mode without being afraid that I lose access to my “non-master” mode save file.

Why “A Hat In Time”?

Hat In Time.jpgSo, why did I pick “A Hat In Time” as my favorite game of 2017? Well, the first reason is that it’s the biggest surprise for me this year. I didn’t know I would have so much fun playing that game.

So, remember that I kinda felt that BOTW was repetitive after a while? Well, A Hat In Time doesn’t have that at all in my opinion. Sure, each level requires a healthy dose of platforming, but you are doing something different each and every time.

In one world you are in a world between two different movie directors and in the other world, you are running errands for that big creepy monster that stole your soul. The game oozes with personality and cuteness. Even the finer details like wearing a raincoat during the rainy levels and playing with dolls as an idle animation is the strength of this game.

While it’s a rather short game, I feel like everything is polished to near perfection. I rarely felt that I was unable to do something in the game.

This game made me even enjoy stealth gameplay, something I personally dislike a lot of games. But, Gears For Breakfast made it quite a lot of fun to play. Thank you view cones for that!

For some reason, since I started to play “A Hat In Time”, the game sort of stuck with me. I lost count how many times I listened to the soundtrack while I was at work and I had various tracks from it as my ringtone or my alarm.

In addition to that, I had various scenes from this game as my desktop wallpaper on my computers and my smartphone.

The competition was fierce this year, but I’m still surprised that this game didn’t make it on barely any big awards list. For real, I did an experiment and that is to google “Top 10 PC games of 2017” and looked at all the lists that the first three pages gave me. And I found this game only on 2 lists!

Maybe I’m fanboying a bit too much about this game, but I feel like this game doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. This game proves that it’s possible to make an amazing game using crowdfunding.

While it’s extremely hard for me to choose between Breath Of The Wild and A Hat In Time, I feel that, in my opinion, A Hat In Time is just the better game. Not by much.

If I would be allowed to pick two games, I would surely pick Breath of The Wild AND A Hat In Time as my game of the year for 2017. Yet, both games deserve the praise and recognition they get. Both games were delayed several times to polish the game and make the game better for it.

Both games were amazing games and made me so happy to be a gamer. These two experiences were the best times I had in 2017, gaming-wise. If you feel a bit salty for my pick, maybe this can help. My game of the year from triple-A developers is Breath of the Wild and my game of the year from indie developers is A Hat In Time.

So, that was my answer to today’s question. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to see you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

 

Creative Christmas #9 – Holiday Gameplay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Creative Christmas #8: Nomnomnom

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225So, now that we had the Christmas party and the gifts, I think it’s time for food. Oh, I am not allowed to go on the dinner table when I don’t come up with a theme for these articles? Man, that’s unfair. I’m writing in a creative matter here while you would be able to enjoy the delicious foods served. I’m trying my best to come with a good idea for this LaterLevels collab you know. So, please let me eat while I think of a theme and answer today’s question.

It’s now time to head out to the kitchen to put on your oven gloves and start preparing Christmas dinner. It consists solely of video game food; what’s on the menu?

Besides pre-heated stuff and a few extremely basic things, I haven’t cooked on a day in my life. I haven’t played a lot of games that talk about food either. So, I had to look through my game collection for an answer.

One thing is for sure, most of the things I remember in terms of food are the strange food things happening. Like in Stella Glow, how Lisette’s cooking always turns purple or how Chloe only wants to eat meat in Etrian Odyssey Untold 2.

One game that involves cooking in a way is Minecraft, but that would be a bit cheap to put the food items of that game on the list. Since most of the food items in that game are food items you can eat in real life. Besides the purple fruits, but do you want to teleport to another location each time you take a bite out of your meal.

So, instead of giving a long explanation of which types of food I would like, I think it would be a great idea to make any of the foods in Breath of the Wild. Actually, if you want to make them in real life, don’t worry. I know an excellent blog you can use for that! It’s called Sheikah Plate.

As an appetizer, I could take some glazed veggies, as a main dish I could take some salt-grilled gourmet meat and some apple pie as a desert.

That could be one possibility. Since I’m playing Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 lately, it would be fun to give foods I would love to try in the real world. Here you find an overview of everything in the game. Beware of possible spoilers though when you click that link.

Here are a few screenshots of the pieces of food I would love to try:

Of course, there is a lot more I would love to try from the menu, but eating it all would be impossible I think.

The food in Monster Tale also sounds quite interesting, to be honest. But, you feed it to your monster pet to let it grow. So, I think I better not eat that, since I think there are some special growth hormones in it.

(Talking about food, dear Glados, you still owe me a cake!)

Before I end this, the food I wouldn’t put on my menu are the following:

  • Any meat from the Castlevania series. You never know it came from a wall or a monster drop.
  • Anything from FallOut, the radiation would be off the charts. No thanks.
  • A bottle of Pepsi from the Pepsi Man, that will be shaken up as all heck. So, I don’t want soda in my face.

I think you get the idea. In any case, I think I’ll leave it here. To be honest, I don’t know enough about food to make a decent and long article so, I think this is the best answer that I can come up with. Besides, in almost all the games I play, the food is somewhat realistic so far as I can remember.

So yeah. Forgive me for a shorter article. In any case, I thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Creative Christmas #7: Present Time

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And we are back with the Creative Christmas series, a collab I’m doing with LaterLevels. To be honest, during the past two days I was too busy with family parties. So, I was unable to think of a theme for this series. Okay, I have to admit that I thought about it, but I wasn’t able to implement. I thought of one where each article was a page in Santa’s diary, but then I wouldn’t answer for myself. Another idea would be where I would talk about if my answer would be in the naughty or kid side of Santa’s book. Well, maybe with the help of a present I can think of a theme. I got a new Mario shirt and a new compressor to blow out electronic material. But what’s this? Another question about presents for me to answer, let’s take a look! 

Your help must have worked, because it’s now Christmas morning and presents are under the tree! There’s a fancy box with your name on it; which gaming-related item are you hoping is inside?

If I would ever be able to get a certain gaming related item, I would have to divide my answer into two parts. First of all, real existing items. Which game-related items would I want that truly exist?

Besides a boatload of games that I want in my collection and a few consoles I want to have and start collecting for, let say which piece of merchandise do I really want to have?

bioshock-merchandise.png

For me personally, I would love to have some more merchandise of the Bioshock series. I know that there are some nice looking t-shirts and bags out there.

If you would give me some merch from the Bioshock series, even when I already have it, I would always be happy. The Bioshock series is such a great series that is near and dear to my heart.

The same counts for merch from the Zelda series. I’m in love with the Zelda series and I would love to own a bit more shirts and merch of it. Oh, or the mangas that I don’t own of “the Zelda series” yet would also be a nice gift to get.

Now, there are a few games I know that there is barely any or no official merchandise on the market. But I would love some merch for it anyways. These games include Ace Attorney, Monster Tale, Stella Glow and the Zero Escape series.

Actually, if you ever need to give a gift to me; anything game related merch would do the trick for me. Because I’m a game collector I enjoy getting something game-related. You would make me even happier if you relate it to a game series I like. And you know those series if you read my blog or talk to me.

Now we come to part 2 of my answer. What if I’m able to get a fictional game item in the real world. This is going to be interesting.

You know what would be nuts? If I would be able to get any of the transformation masks for The Legend Of Zelda Majora’s Mask into the real world. Then again, what practical use would it have besides the cool factor? Besides, it wouldn’t be that much fun since I would have to use these while nobody sees me or I would be used for experiments and all that jazz.

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Then I thought about getting the Harp of Ages or the Rod Of Seasons from The Legend Of Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons. It would be so close to reverse the flow of time or change the seasons at will.

While messing with time presents a whole different host of problems, the same can be said for the Rod Of Seasons. If I would be able to change the seasons at will, I might destroy the planet with it. So, that’s not a good idea either. Besides, the rod only seems to work on sawn-off tree trumps and those aren’t around too often in my area.

The notebook from Scribblenauts would be pretty interesting to own as well. I would be able to summon what I want and when I want it. Then again, if this would fall into the wrong hands, dangerous things can happen and we would live in a strange world.

While it would be amazing to have any video game item in the real world, I think it would cause a whole host of other problems that might bring me into greater trouble. If the problems are solvable, you would have to put the practicality into question. Since not everything from the land of video games would have a use in the real world.

So, if I would be able to avoid any trouble, I would love to have the items I listed above these paragraphs. Yet, I think that the answer that was expected in the questions was more the 1st part of this article. I see the second part of this article more as a fun thought expirement.

That’s my answer for today. 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.

You can find other bloggers their answers here.

Creative Christmas #6: Transportation Time

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So, I’m still in the collab with LaterLevels, where myself and a few other bloggers answer a question each and every until the 1st of January. Now, I have to warn you, tomorrow and the day after that won’t have a question to answer. So, after this article, this series will be back on the 27th of December. Plenty of time to think of a theme. Yeah, I haven’t forgotten about that. But, look, I’m almost done with the intro; this way I can pick up my phone that keeps ringing and tell you about the question for today. 

You’re woken from your drunken haze by another frantic call from Santa, who’s worried he’s not going to make all his deliveries in time. Which video game item or vehicle would you recommend for him?

portal-gun-3d-model

An easy answer would be a portal gun of course. I mean, it would save Santa some time if he didn’t have to climb down each and every chimney.  Somehow, I feel that that wouldn’t cut it. Since it would mean that Santa has to focus on way too much.

He has to aim each and every time, guess where the tree is located in the house. In addition to that, he can run the risk of using the wrong portal and creating a loop. Oh dear, I think I have to look for another solution.

Mario Kart Double Dash-1

Maybe the elves can help him, while the elves are driving one of the carts from Mario Kart Double Dash, Santa can throw presents into the houses of the children.

But then again, that aiming aspect of him having to put it underneath the tree. This is getting trickier and trickier.

I have to find something useful that he can use without (m)any additional issues that he has to worry about. I need to keep it simple for sure. Or have I? I mean, I looked for a logical answer each and every time, I think it’s time to go fully off the walls crazy with this one. For this one time.

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So, get this. What if I gave Santa a couple of Command Blocks from Minecraft. This way he can input commands to replace blocks. So, what if he has the elves help him to write a script that translates the wishlists of the children into commands for the command block and then with a 2nd command block, replaces the air underneath the Christmas tree with said presents?

Meanwhile, a 3rd command block and check for nearby letters for Santa, cookies and milk so those get to Santa as well. While Santa’s IT-department will call this idea nuts, I just think it might be as nuts that it might just work.

Besides, if Santa wanted a better answer, honestly, I think it would have been a better idea that he called me when I wasn’t in my drunken haze anymore. I did have a big party last night, with a kiss underneath a mistletoe you know.

Otherwise, if I was more awake, I would have been able to think about a more clear and not too crazy answer for him. If only he called me later, I would have been able to suggest a better solution. With the Time Pieces that Hat Kid, from A Hat In Time, has in her spaceship, Santa would have been able to mess with time and make his deliveries in time. Would have been way more practical than setting up all those command blocks. Oh well. Perhaps a next time?

So, that’s my answer to today’s question. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/

Creative Christmas #5: Smooch… I mean smoothy.

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225LaterLevels has a collab this Christmas, but you should already know that since this is the 5th article in the series. I still don’t have a theme for these and I hope I don’t get on the naughty list for this. I mean, I’m trying my best to provide you with interesting entertainment and stories and feelings from my personal life. But, I still don’t have someone special to share it with. For those who didn’t get my subtle clue, I mean a girlfriend. So, let me think about a theme for these articles and meanwhile, you can enjoy my answer to the question of today. 

The party is still going strong and you find yourself conveniently positioned under the mistletoe. Which video game character would you call over for a cheeky kiss?

Oh dear lord, there is a lost of superstition when you kiss somebody under a mistletoe. I mean, I’m not that superstitious, but just in case the girl is that I kiss, is superstitious; I do have to make this one count. So, who would be interested in a 24-year-old Belgian guy who works in education, writes about his life in video games, collects retro and modern games… Wow-ah there Jonez, you aren’t writing a profile for a dating site here.

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I mean, maybe a simple British woman would be interested. A classy but adventurous lady. Someone like Lady Croft. She was my first crush when it comes to video games. (Just like many other males I think).

Actually, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’m not that adventurous in real life and I think I’ll just get in her way. So, Lara Croft, I’m sorry. I have to pass on you.

Elizabeth-COh, I have an idea! Maybe Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite! A lady I have a who lot of respect for. I mean, just look at her, she is a smart and caring lady that I can get behind.

When things get heated, you can be sure she can take care of herself. She got into multiple heated firefights with Booker after all.

Alas, I don’t think this would be a very wise choice. Without spoiling anything, just play Bioshock Infinite or look at it’s ending to understand what I mean. There is something about her that would make it pretty hard for her to have a boyfriend you know.

Maybe I’m thinking about this too much. Maybe, I’m taking this question a bit too serious. I mean, a cheeky innocent kiss. That isn’t a confession of love right? It’s not that I’m saying that I like her, right? Besides, I might get myself in an anime style war called that “Waifu” war here if I take things too seriously. Gosh darn, I’m raising the stakes even higher for myself now. I have to take something that offends almost nobody to avoid the “Waifu war” in the comments.

Sakuya

That would mean that somebody like Sakuya from Stella Glow would be a bad pick too. Since, if I would pick here, fans from the game will maybe argue with me that Popo or Risette is a better girl.

In addition to that, if I had to choose between her songs and Popo’s; dear lord, I would have a big problem on my hands.

Oh yeah, maybe some context for the people who haven’t played the game yet. In Stella Glow’s world, nobody can sing apart from witches who can use magic by singing. Yeah.

Also, I will have an even more hard time with Sakuya since one of my absolute favorite characters in the game in Nonoka, Sakuya’s servant. So, I think I won’t ask her.

So, I still don’t have an answer to this question. Besides, I think I should answer honestly since this is my blog after all. I pride myself on giving my opinion to the world about the games I recently played. I think I might be superstitious after all. I think about this too much.

… Princess Zelda? No! Link would be so mad and besides that, Zelda’s fate in the legends is always so hard on the emotions, I think I will be able to handle that.

… Princess Peach, well, I think Mario will stomp me to a pulp. So, no. I think I’ll pass there too.

FredericaMaybe Frederica from Etrain Odyssey Untold? That would be a lovely idea too, but then again; she is urhm… Well; just play the game and you will understand why. On second thought, I think I wouldn’t mind a kiss from her.

I can relate somewhat to her. When I meet people for the first time, I’m a bit distant too. But, I open up more and more when I get to know the other people and to trust them.

I also have difficulties to express my feelings to others. I’m also shy as well. So, I think I might be able to match with Frederica.

I wouldn’t mind a kiss from her under that mistletoe from her. At those moments, I wish that the superstitions were true, you know? Since she deserves all the good luck she can get. Or did I look too deep into this? Who knows, who can say?

Maybe I was playing a role all along in this article you know. So, while I’m standing underneath this mistletoe, Frederica you want a smooch– I mean a smoothy? Phew, nice save there.

And this is a perfect time to end this article. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/

Creative Christmas #4 – Jamming those tunes

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Another day and still no good idea for a theme for these articles. Maybe I’m having a writer overload. You know that feeling when you have so many ideas that you want to write about but you are unable to decide which idea is the best one to go with the article? Perhaps that’s going on. Oh, you started to read this article as the first one? Well, let me explain something then. This is the 4th article in the “Creative Christmas” series, where LaterLevels asked several bloggers to answer a question each and every day. Let me introduce today’s question while I play some music and try to focus on getting the perfect idea for a theming of these articles. 

It’s now Christmas Eve and you’re throwing a lively party for all your friends, family and favourite characters. Which video game soundtracks would be on your playlist?

This is an interesting question. While I have written various articles about gaming music in the past like the one where I talk about my favorite soundtracks per platform, I think I should think about the situation here. par

Electronic Super Joy SoundtrackFirst of all, define lively. If it needs to be a party with a dance floor, I think I could go with the soundtrack of games like Electronic Super Joy.

The whole soundtrack can be considered as party numbers. Too bad, that I’m such a bad dancer, so I think I will just enjoy myself watching the people dance on this soundtrack.

It’s strange, I enjoy listening to these tracks, but dancing on them is a no-go for me. I just don’t like dancing, to be honest.

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The big issue to answer this question is that most games I play don’t have a soundtrack that is energetic enough to have a lively party. Or I need to go with remixes and video game medleys like this one of Dunderpatrullen. These can bring so much joy in parties since you start to remember your favorite games and their memories. Oh, and LaterLevels, if you are reading this; surely listen till around the 3-4 minute mark. You are welcome.

In that same spirit, The GAG Quartet also made an amazing medley in a rock/metal version. This one could be on my playlist as well.

But speaking about remixes, I think the artists who created the Essence of Lime and Lime of The Season are just amazing. They pull onto my nostalgic strings so much since they remixed almost the WHOLE soundtrack both games. This is just mindblowing and the art as amazing as well.

I could also mention Overclocked Remix, if you know about a game, there is a chance there is a remix or something along those lines ready for you there. I think I would get my complete party playlist from this website, to be honest.

If you mean lively as in, background music since the party is already loud; well, then I have a few suggestions too. The soundtrack from Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, OneShot can be such relaxing music to listen too.

So, before I close off this article I want to leave you with one soundtrack that amazed me this year. The soundtrack from Outlaws. If you love western music, seriously check this one out. It’ll be right up your alley.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say for 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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/

Creative Christmas #3 – Help Santa!

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So, today is another day and another question to answer in the mega blogging collab of LaterLevels. I’m still unsure if I should theme these articles since the goal is being creative. But, if I start a theme now, it’s a shame that the first two articles in this series didn’t have a theme. Actually, I think that shouldn’t be such a big problem. Yet, I think that editing my previous articles in this collab to fit a theme would be a bad idea to do… Hrm, while I think about it, here is my answer to today’s question.

You receive a call from Santa, as the elves desperately need a hand in the workshop getting all the toys ready. Which video game character would you recruit to help out?

So, who could help Santa in getting all toys ready? It should be a character that can work fast for sure. Sonic, maybe? Nah, I don’t think that will be a good idea since he most likely will break a lot of the tools since he is too fast.

I could put in “Sinterklaas“, a tradition here in Belgium & the Netherlands that’s extremely similar to Saint Nick. You know, you can call them almost brothers. But, since he isn’t really a video game character in the first place and more of a tradition, I don’t think it would count.

937428-asterix.jpgMaybe Asterix & Obelix? They got powerful druids who can make special elixirs that make them super fast and super strong. But then again, they are more comic book characters who got some pretty amazing games and they will have the same problem that Sonic has, they would be way too fast and the tools might not be able to follow.

Putt-Putt_&_Pep.pngOh, maybe Putt-Putt? He had a Christmas book, called “The Night For Christmas“. That might work if we would live in car town that is. And sadly enough, we aren’t. Man, this is getting tricky.

Each time when I think of a character, something doesn’t click with me. Something deep inside me tells me that they aren’t the perfect character to help Saint Nick out to save Christmas.

You know, I was also thinking about some ridiculous ideas that might just work. Somebody like Paperboy could help with his experience in delivering newspapers in the craziest neighborhoods, but then again, that might not help a lot in creating toys.

At this moment, I dove in my game collection and looked through it. There had to be one game with a character in it that could help Saint Nick to create all these presents? I quickly threw Elf Bowling 1&2 on the DS to the side. I still shiver at the idea of putting those characters in my article to answer this question. I mean, that might be the reason why Saint Nick needs help since the elves are on strike and he doesn’t want to use them as bowling pins since that idea became a terrible game…

For real, this question stumped me for a while. I kept looking through my collection. I didn’t want to give a cheap answer and tell that Saint Nick can help too since he appears in various games, or say that a whole cast of characters from some game could help since they are with a lot of people…

Various characters passed my eyes as a possibility. Steve from Minecraft and the Sims are just two possibilities. But, then again, those aren’t too memorable characters since you create their story and you decide it all for yourself.

Maybe Guybrush Threepwood? Then again, rather not. I think he will just create something that looks like a toy and steal it afterward since he is a pirate, har har! Nah, I need somebody else.

Layton

This was becoming a real tricky puzzle for me to crack. I really had to have somebody who is kind hearted, a hard worker and a gentleman or a gentlewoman.

I wasn’t able to solve this one, but I’m sure that Professor Layton will know some tricks. Wait a minute. I think I can suggest him.

Yeah, he would really be able to help Saint Nick and with his knowledge of solving puzzles, he might be able to quickly think of a solution to help Saint Nick in his quest to finish all toys in time. This will work out just fine. If Layton is on the case, I know that this issue will be resolved no matter what.

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

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/2017/12/21/creative-christmas-santas-workshop/

Creative Christmas: A Gaming Collaboration – Day 1: Gifting

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225So, today something special starts. A collaboration with my friends from LaterLevels about Christmas. For the upcoming days, I’ll post an (short) article every day apart from the 24th and 25th. In these article’s, I’ll answer a question asked by LaterLevels. Keep your eyes peeled on this since a lot of other bloggers are joining in! I’ll be retweeting other articles that I come across. In any case, I think it’s enough stalling here. Time to get into the first question!

Question: You need to choose a gift for someone special and go online to check out the video game item catalog. Who is this person and what present would you select for them?

This would highly depend on the person I would choose. You can take the “special someone” in such a broad way. At this moment in time, I’m a single man, so I can’t buy a gift for my significant other.

If I would take some coworkers who would mean a lot to me, as the “special someone” in this situation, I think I’ll come up short handed with the second part of the question. As far as I know, none of my coworkers is really that into gaming, so a gaming related gift wouldn’t be suitable.

The same thing goes to almost every member of my family. Apart from three people. First is my sister. She plays games but very occasionally. She plays games like League of Legends, The Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon and a few others. But, it isn’t her main interest. Besides, a few years ago, she gave all her games to me to add to my collection. So, let’s go to the second person.

That would be my uncle. He plays a lot of stealth and country management games. When he has the time, he boots up a game and starts playing. Keyword being time here. My aunt and uncle got a daughter a few years ago and his focus goes more to his daughter then to video games. I see him rarely online on Steam and he mostly plays Assassin’s Creed or GTA. I think that the 3rd person who plays games in my family would be more happy with a gift actually.

That would be my cousin. While she does play games from time to time, according to me, her favorite gaming moments are the moments she shares with me. Together we played through so many different games. We played games like BoomBlox (Wii), Kirby’s Adventure (Wii), Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) amongst others. Often she likes to watch me play games, that she finds too difficult to play herself. I commentate over them and let her make the decisions here and there.

She also loves taking a look at the games in my collection and when she sees a game that she really likes, she wants to buy it for herself.

minecraft

A few years ago, I bought her a copy of Minecraft for the PC. And let me be real here, I can’t keep count anymore for how long we played Minecraft together. The annoying thing is that her laptop isn’t that powerful so she has to play Minecraft at the lowest setting to be even playable.

If I would have the budget, I would love to buy her a laptop that can run Minecraft better. Why a laptop? Well, since she would love to take her creations everywhere she goes without having to save her worlds somewhere on a USB or in the cloud. She isn’t that tech savvy and just buying a laptop would make that easier.

I could also buy her a NEW 2DS and a copy of Minecraft on that. I think she would be extremely happy with that too.

So, why would I gift something to my cousin? Why is she so special to me? I’m her godfather after all and I want nothing more for my godchild that she is happy and has a great time.

That’s my answer to this question. Tune in tomorrow for another question! Also, keep an eye on LaterLevels, since they are going to show an overview of all the answers.

NekoJonez’s December 2017 Update

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

Quick reflection on 2017

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

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

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

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

What can you expect from me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrapping up

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

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

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

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