Tag Archives: dawn

Review: Death Mark (Switch) ~ Alive Until Dawn

death mark

Official website

You are walking on a street and you overhear two schoolgirls talking to each other. They tell a story about one of their teachers dying in a horrible death. Her arm was found in the library of the school, cut off from the rest of the body with a red bite mark on the hand. That’s how Death Mark opens. The game I decided to play during the Halloween season because I already finished Angels of Death by then. Since I started playing the Zero Escape series and Corpse Party, I have been hooked on the horror genre. I wanted to play more horror games or games with a strong focus on horror. It doesn’t need to be survival horror like Resident Evil 4 or Silent Hill but a game that fits the mood of the holiday perfectly. Now, I know I’m terribly late with my review of this game. But, it was part of my top 10 games of 2018 list and I want to give my honest opinion on it. So, let’s talk about the PS Vita game that got ported to the Switch called Death Mark. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Alive until dawn

nswitch_deathmark_05So, the story of this game centers around the mystery of the mysterious Death Mark people have been receiving. This red bit mark appears on people’s bodies when they interact with spirits. The protagonist of this game suffers from your typical case of memory loss and doesn’t remember his past. After you heard the two girl’s their story, your own mark starts to burn and you get teleported to a mansion. When you enter the mansion, you find it to be abandoned. When you visit one of the bedrooms, a thunder crack reveals the dead body of a girl on the floor with flowers blooming from her stomach and chest. Startled, you run down starts where you meet up with a doll that explains to you that the Death Mark is quite real.

If you are unable to remove your mark, you will die by the time dawn comes. One theory that you quickly form is that you can possibly remove the mark by killing or defeating a spirit. But, how do you kill a spirit? How do you kill something that is already dead? Well, by trying to solve the grudge that is keeping them in the living realm.

After you got the explanation of the living wooden doll that lives on the sofa in the entrance of the mansion, you heard a knock on the door. You open the door and find two teenagers. They are looking for the previous inhabitant of the mansion. She is a spirit healer and they are looking for her help to get rid of the same mark you possess. It’s revealed that she was the dead body you discovered earlier. So, you try and take her place. So, now you start in trying to help the other people with a Death Mark while trying to discover who you are and which spirit gave you your Death Mark.

All of this is explained in a quite lengthy introduction. The writing of this game is amazing. If this story sounds interesting to you, I have to give you a fair warning. This game is a visual novel adventure game. There is quite a lot of text in this game. If you aren’t interested in playing a game that has more dialogue then gameplay, this isn’t your game.

I do have to say that the writing is amazing in this game. The story has it a weird charm. At one hand, the game has amazing characters and great development. It didn’t take long before I got attached to certain characters and I got quite invested in them. Yet, this game is also a horror game. So, a lot of creepy stuff happens on your journey. From finding death bodies to combating spirits, this game has it all. This game has just the perfect mix between the two worlds and I have no complaints about them. The pacing of the game is just perfect as well.

The only minor disappointment is that the characters are voice acted in Japanese. Now, I don’t mind Japanese voice acting that much, but I personally prefer English voice acting. The whole game isn’t voice acted, but quite a lot is. The voice acted that is present in the game is really great. But, I’m not going to critique it too much since I don’t know enough about Japanese to say it’s good or bad. But, from my personal experience, I feel that the voice actors always used the right emotion to what appears on screen.

This game has 6 chapters. The original PS Vita game had 5 chapters and one DLC chapter. The DLC chapter is included for free in this Switch port. There is something in terms of the chapters I’m quite on the fence about. The chapters themselves are not too long nor too short. But, if you combine all playtime to get through the game and fully beat it, this game takes around 8 to 10 hours to complete. This game is quite short, too short even.

Near the end, I was so invested in the game, I was extremely bummed when I finished the final chapter. I wanted to play more, explore the world and setting of the game a bit more. But alas. Thankfully, this game doesn’t have a lot of filler content. The story in some chapters can go at a breakneck pace and that was a refreshing experience.

Explore and read

nswitch_deathmark_04One of my favorite genres in video games is the visual novel. There are two types of visual novels; the ones with gameplay and the kinetic ones. The kinetic ones almost have no gameplay and I honestly dislike playing. This game isn’t a kinetic novel. In this game, you have to explore various areas where a spirit is roaming. During your exploration, you have to find a reason of the grudge of the spirit.

While you are exploring the area, you can come across live or death situations. You get presented with different options and if you choose the wrong option, you get a game over. In some cases, you lose soul power. What is this soul power? It’s the power of your soul, when this drops to 0, the spirit of the chapter catches you right away.

When you are in a live or death situation, you are timed. The remaining time you have, is the remaining soul power you have. During your exploration, you can find talismans that restore your soul power if it gets low. Now that I have beaten the game, I can say that there is no additional reward when you answer all the questions correctly without losing soul power. This is a missed opportunity. It would be great if this unlocked the additional 6th chapter or some character art.

Anyways, your soul power fully restores in-between chapters. So, you aren’t punished for mistakes in an earlier chapter. Personally, my favorite chapter is the 6th chapter. The moral of that chapter speaks to me on a personal level.

Now, there are two different endings to this game. The ending that you get depends if you are able to fully solve the grudge of the spirit of that chapter. So, when it comes to the climax of each chapter, think long and hard before you make your next move. Since one mistake during those battles can change the ending dramatically.

Speaking about the climax of each chapter, think carefully who you take as a partner on your journey. Sometimes you will be unable to defeat a spirit if you don’t have the right character in your party. I loved trying to work out who would be the best character to use against the spirit. Reading their character profile is even more important now than before. My advice is, save often. You are only able to save outside of dialogue sections. So, don’t be a hero and save after you made some progress. Also, pay attention that this game doesn’t automatically save. And when you are dead, you have to restart from your last save point. You can save using the “Y” button. There are a limited amount of save slots, so use them wisely.

Saving is this game is quite easy. After the introduction, you can save when you are in the mansion in a limited amount of save slots. Now, if you want to be able to restart a chapter, I highly advise you to save right after the introduction of the chapter. Since, there is no other way to start from a certain chapter. The only option in the main menu are new game, continue or a gallery. In this gallery, you can see the animation of the spirits and the images you saw during the chapter.

In terms of the UI, this game is good. I have no real complaints. I do have some minor suggestions. Especially with the inventory screen. This would feel so much better if the inventory screen had a static image of the item you have selected. Now, it’s just a boring looking list of items, like you would see in a spreadsheet.

Anyways, sometimes the story of one spirit links to the story of another spirit. In that case, you can always read a small summary in the pause menu. During that, you can watch the amazing full screen pictures that were used during the chapter.

During each chapter, you have to explore a location. You can only explore with one partner. The other partner or partners will stay at the mansion to look for clues in solving the mystery of the Death Mark. You can go at any moment to the entrance of the location to take the car back to the mansion to change partners. Like I said earlier, the choice of partner matters. If you are unable to solve a puzzle or pass through a location, try having another partner.

The locations themselves aren’t that large. It doesn’t take too long before you are able to fully explore the location. Now, there is something to do in each and every screen of the game. From small jump scares to big puzzles. Oh yes, this game has small jump scares. Most of the jump scares are rather subtle and aren’t too distracting from the exploration. To be honest, I found them used quite well. Also, it’s possible that you don’t even see all the jump scares since they are location specific.

During your journey for the truth in the Death Mark mystery, you explore a forest, a school and various other locations. Each location is extremely memorable. The detail in the artwork of each location is impressive. The atmosphere building with the visual presentation in this game is a strong point of this game. I really felt on edge while exploring certain locations. I really felt that the location I was exploring had a certain presence and a morbid history to it. In some occasions, the game managed to get underneath my skin.

Now, in terms of the animations, this game has a lot of missed potential. Apart from the spirit battles, this game doesn’t have a lot of animations. I think it would have been better if the game had a bit more animations and scene transitions. For example, a walking animation from going between rooms would aid a lot with the world building and immersion. And if you give the option to the players to turn this animation on or off, it would be perfect. Now, there is a small dialogue box that appears when you move between rooms with a sound effect, but could be so much more.

On the edge of my seat

nswitch_deathmark_03Exploration in this game is really well done. During the game, you are able to use your flashlight to investigate each and every room. I highly advise that you look around carefully in each and every room. Since every little detail can aid you in your quest to solve the grudge of the spirit. The game helps you out a bit in the investigation. When you can interact with something, you see a little sparkle animation when you hover over it with your flash light.

When you have to use an item in your quest, the item will be automatically used. Expect during the spirit battles. In those battles you have to use every item in your inventory to try and defend yourself. You and the spirit take turns in making a move. If the spirit comes too close, it’s game over.

Apart from one puzzle, the puzzles in this game are well crafted. They really test your skills in exploring the area you are in and your investigation skills. Exploring the location gets even better with the fluid controls. The flashlight is mapped to one of the joysticks of the joycon and reacts very responsively.

Now, there is one thing that could turn some people off and that is the map system. During the exploration, you have a mini-map of the location at the top right. This mini-map is nothing more than a few squares and lines how the squares connect. So, you will have to build a mental map of the location during your exploration. This is highly essential when you don’t want to get lost. A more detailed map would have been welcome, but I felt it added to the world building of the game. Remember the story? You only have the few short hours of the night to try and get rid of the grudge of the spirit before you die. So, creating an actual map might lose too much time.

The controls in this game are quite decent. Sometimes I got a bit disoriented, but that’s because my mediocre navigational skills in games. It doesn’t take long before you get used to the control scheme of this game and learn to use it to your advantage.

The exploration is added with some great sound and music design. The soundtrack sounds like a combination of the Zero Escape series, Ace Attorney and Corpse Party. The music gives of eerie vibes and fits the visual presentation like a glove. I’m actually hunting down the soundtrack of this game to add it to my music library.

Together with the amazing sound effects, the visual and audiovisual presentation of this game is a real treat. I can’t make any complaints about that aspect of the game. Before I keep repeating myself, I think it’s time that we talk about another aspect of the game.

The difficulty of this game is just right. The game is even more difficult when you don’t pay attention during the investigation. In the later chapters, I even took some physical notes to aid myself during the investigation.

Now, if you forgot to save, there is a button that you can use to fast forward the cut scenes. I rarely used this button since I was too invested in the story. I used this button only once when I forgot to save before a LIVE OR DEATH situation and I got a game over… Now, I could have used the “decide again” option to restart from the beginning of the LIVE OR DEATH situation but I lost too much soul power. So, restarting from an earlier point actually benefited me.

Also, there is a message log you can access. A minor complaint is that the button to fast forward is quite hidden in the UI. It’s the L-button.

The replay value of his game isn’t too high. Not counting replays for fun, you can play twice through the game before you have seen it all. Now, this isn’t a big issue but more endings would extend the already short overall game time.

With that said, I said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time to go to the summary and closing statement of this review.

Summary

The good:

+ Amazing atmosphere in the visual and audio department.

+ Great writing.

+ The game has a lot of text.

+ …

The bad:

  • The game is too short.
  • The game has a lot of text.
  • A bit more animations would enhance the game a lot.
  • You can’t restart a chapter without a save.

Final thoughts:

This game is not for everybody. If you don’t like a game that has a lot of text, I think that it’s best for you to skip this game. If you enjoy games like Ace Attorney, Zero Escape, Walking Dead, Corpse Party, Trace Memory… I highly recommend this game.

This game is the perfect game to play through on Halloween night or whenever you are in the mood to play more horror focused games. The writing, pacing, audio and visual presentation of this game is very well done. The biggest flaw of this game is that it’s too short. I got so invested and the ride was over before I knew it.

Now, a spiritual successor is going to be released in Japan really soon called NG. I really hope and wish that they are going to bring this game to the west as well. Since the trailer looks amazing and I really would love to play it.

I can totally see why some people would be turned off by this game. But personally I loved my playthrough. When you play this game, don’t use a walkthrough. This game gets even more fun when you aren’t using a walkthrough to guide you in every step of the way.

If you ask me, I think that this game is totally worth it’s price. This developer really convinced me of the quality games they can put out. While this game has flaws, in my eyes they don’t ruin the experience at all. But, I’m really going to hammer this home… This game would be perfect if there were a bit more chapters. A bit more content.

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

Score: 90/100

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First Impression: Golden Sun – Dark Dawn (DS) ~Sunny Weather

Goldensun3.jpgWikipedia entry

It’s time that I talk about a Golden Sun game. I have been putting this off for way too long. After I listed it in my favorite DS games ever made, I never talked about it. Apart from some music tracks here and there. It’s time to correct that. This week we are going to take a look at a game, I honestly thought I talked about before. In any case, the title and the box art here already gave it away.  It’s the 3rd game in the series, Golden Sun Dark Dawn. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article. 

(Note: to make this article more readable and understandable for everybody, I didn’t to use the lore of this game and used a generic term.)

Special powers

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The story of this game takes place a few years after the original two games. The story starts out simple with two children getting into some trouble with a sort of magical hang glider. But rather quickly, this story changes into your typical “save the world from doom” story.

While the story is your typical RPG story, it’s the journey and the writing that makes it memorable in my eyes. Each main character and side character has his or her own personality.

But what I really like about the story is how all the lore is explained in a non-intrusive way.  As you may have guessed, this game is a JRPG and because it’s the 3rd game in the series, there is a lot of lore.

But instead of the characters explaining the lore in some dialogue or some boring exposition dump, it gets underlined. When you tap that word, you get an explanation on the top screen to get you up to speed. Also, all those words go in your encyclopedia so you read them at your own pace. This is something that all other RPG’s should do! That way, there can be more focus on the story instead of explaining everything so newcomers can enjoy the game. This mechanic can also serve as a nice reminder for hardcore fans when he or she has forgotten the meaning of a word.

Fighting like on the GBA

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The gameplay, in general, hasn’t changed a lot compared to the GBA games. But in this game, some mechanics are tweaked for the newer hardware.

First of all, I want to talk about the exploration part of the game. The world this game takes place in is huge. I love exploring in this world. Since each town has it’s own unique feel to it.

The puzzles in this game are amazing in my opinion. The puzzles use the special powers you have in creative ways. I had to think outside of the box sometimes. And when you are stuck, one character gets a special power which allows you to see what objects you can interact with and which powers you should use.

Secondly, the battles are quite interesting as well. Since you have three possible attacks. You can fight with your weapons, use your magic and/or Djinn. Djinns are special creatures you find all over the world.

The mechanic of Djinn is one of the most interesting things in this game. I love trying to find them in towns, dungeons and in the overworld. But after you found them, a rather tricky meta-game starts. Depending to who you equip which Djinn, you can make a character even stronger or even weaker. Not only that, which magic powers they can use will also change. This makes for an interesting balancing exercise to make sure you have the perfect build to advance the plot.

When you use Djinn, they go into, what I like to call, the summing pool. When you have enough Djinn of a certain type, you can summon a more powerful creature. But beware, when a Djinn is in the summoning pool, the character it’s attached too, will lose its perks.

If this sounds interesting to you, this page on the Golden Sun wiki will explain it in more depth.

This world is golden

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The presentation and design of this game are top notch. While some animations take a little bit too long, I have no other complaint.

The world looks colorful and really pops out. The visual presentation in this game is one of the best I have seen on the system.

There is one issue I have with the design. And that’s that the menu system can sometimes be very annoying. It’s difficult to explain, but I felt that could have been done a lot better with more traditional menus. An example is the inventory system. It’s quite messy in my opinion. When you are looking for example for some herbs and you forgot to which character you have given them too. But it’s something I got used to.

The music and sound design of this game are excellent. The sound design gives this game the right charm it deserves. And the music, well, I have the soundtrack in my music library and I play a track here and there. It’s a very nice soundtrack.

The controls are great as well. Since you can use both buttons and the stylus. So you can choose and use the playstyle you prefer.

This game isn’t easy but isn’t difficult. But, I will give my final verdict on that when I finish the game. Since I know that there is another DS game that is rather easy but the final boss is extremely hard.

Something that could have been improved in this game is the frame rate. In some parts of the game, I saw some great frame rate drops. It mostly happens when there is way too much happening on screen at once. But it doesn’t happen very often thankfully.

Something I have to mention is that I had this game crash on me twice at the same spot. In the first cave you visit, I had this game crash on me. It was a great lesson in saving this game often. Also, thumbs up for having three save slots. Really helps!

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. When I beat this game, I might write a review. I hope you enjoyed reading this first impression as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you at another article on my blog, have a great rest of your day and until then: take care and game on!

Game Music: My Favorites – Numbero 14: My week off!

eJa4GArMore articles about gaming music

So, I got a week off last week. I was planning to relax, but I did a lot of other things. From family stuff to studying and working for my evening classes. I also got sick in the last few days. Which is a major bummer since I could have done a bit more if I was less sick. In any case, I think it’s time to write another article about gaming music. Also, thank you Kitami for providing me with this art. I was planning to use it a while ago for a new series I had in mind, but I kind of put it on hold. In any case… If you are new to this series of mine, I listen a lot to game music. It keeps me focused at work and it can cheer me up when I’m down. I try to avoid duplicates on this list. Also, one track per franchise per article. For example, no two Zelda tracks in one article… But in two, just fine. Also, no remixes except when I tell otherwise in the introduction. So, are you ready for a few tracks that are lately playing quite a lot for me…? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the music and or the games. 

Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC) ~ Dark Giana Track 2

Giana-Sisters-reviewFirst Impression

I wasn’t lying in my first impression article. The music in this game is truly amazing. It wasn’t an easy one to pick just one track from this game’s soundtrack.

After some time deciding, I chose this one. Just the mix of chiptune and rock vibe is mind blowing. If only I could play guitar and play this track. But that won’t be for any time soon, since I couldn’t even play the flute back in high school.

Why did I choose this track? Well, because it reminded me a lot of the original game. It might be a re-imaging but damn, the remake of this track is truly well done. Also, I’m still surprised how they were able to mix elements of chiptune and rock so well together.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations (DS) ~  Objection! 2004

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I’m disappointed at Capcom for cancelling the Ace Attorney spin off. Well, not exactly cancelling. The Great Ace Attorney. Oh well, I hope I can find a playthrough with English subtitles somewhere on the internet. Thankfully, they are bringing Ace Attorney 6 to the west.

I once tried to write a rant about Japanese games never getting a western release, but it didn’t turn out that well. Because I was listing to this nicely made track from the Ace Attorney series.

That reminds me, I should write an article about the Ace Attorney games I didn’t take a look at yet. I’ll put that on my ever growing list of games I want to review or write about.

In any case, I don’t think I need to explain why this is one of my favorite game series. Go dig around on my blog, you will find a couple of articles why I think this is one of the best series ever.

Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ Blue Bird Lamentation

Virtues_Last_RewardReview

This. Song. It gets me every time. Just like the “Don’t Say Goodbye” songs at the end of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon… The writing, the atmosphere and the presentation make this a hard to swallow track. Then, they add a track like this. It will play with your feelings. And it will give it a hard slap. Not once, but at least twice.

Just play this game and when you get to this point, when the song plays… You will understand why I’m saying this. I wrote this part of the article at least three times since each and every time, I just wrote the same thing twice. The emotions that this music triggers is just that strong to me.

It’s a damn shame I forgot about this amazing track in all my other game music articles. But I have another “excuse” to talk about this track. They finally, FINALLY announced the sequel and it’s coming to the west! Heaven YES!

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS) ~ Boss Theme One

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Now, here is a game I really should play again one day. It’s a game I nearly finished before somehow I lost my save file. If I remember correctly, I stupidly saved while I was in a new game. Yeah, that mistake. All those hours in a RPG, lost.

Well, back in 2012, there was an article floating around that there might be a new Golden Sun in the making if the fans asked for it. I’m really curious if the developers are making a new Golden Sun title. It would give me a reason to play the games. This is one of the games I always want to play but another game comes and distracts me. But I’m sure, one day I will actually play this game again. I’m sure of it!

Oh yeah… The music. I nearly forgot. The music of the first boss was the most memorable to me. Recently, I got the tune back in my head for some reason… It might be a sign. A sign that I need to play this game.

Age of Empires 2 (PC) ~ Music 10

1362731523First Impression

Well, recently I replayed Age Of Empires II HD Edition with my friends. Various memories came back to me. Memories from playing sessions when I played a lot of this game and memories from when I played this game with my sister.

This game was a big part of my childhood. I always played some singleplayer maps where I tried to conquer my enemies with various tactics. The “funny” thing is that I’m really bad in choosing what units are effective. So, yes, I’m not that good at the game. But I still had and I’m still having a lot of fun with this game. Now, I only wish that they make a remake of the original Age Of Empires game for Steam. That would be a real blessing. Now, I have to use my retro game PC to play the original.

In any case, I think that this song is one of my favorites. Oh, if you wonder about the name… I wasn’t able to find the names of each track. Somehow I wasn’t able to find the original names of this track. If you know, feel free to leave me a comment and I will fix it in my article.

Oh, and the new upcoming content for this series makes me almost forget that we, most likely, will never see Age Of Empires 4.

Wrapping up

I used this article to also talk a bit about announcements of games that are coming to us. Games that I’m truly excited about. Just today, I learned about Age Of Mythology’s new expansion pack. I linked an article from the official website. Also, are they creating a new expansion pack for Age Of Empires II HD?

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully, you guys and girls discovered some new and nice music to listen too. In any case, I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, game on~.

My top 25 DS games of all time. (Part 3/3)

25 – 2019 – 10

Welcome to part 3!

#9:  Monster Tale

Monster_Tale_CoverartI didn’t know what this game was going to be about. I just bought it blindly. The cover was interesting enough to me to actually buy it. But was I taken by surprise. This game is all levels of awesome.

This game is a more kid-friendly version of the Castlevania series. The gameplay is nearly exactly the same. The only difference is that you have a pet monster that follows you. That monster, well, you need it to solve the various puzzles.

Something I’m really thankful for is that in this game you have an pointer to where you should go. But the game won’t punish you for trying to explore beyond the path you are supposed to go. Since you can find toys to train your monster.

There are various different forms of the monster which makes it pretty replayable. Now that I’m writing about this game, I feel like replaying it really soon. The memories are pretty great.

And also, the soundtrack is so good that it’s even on my SD for my mobile phone. I really enjoy listing to it. But a more in-depth look shall be for another time. In conclusion: this game comes highly recommend.

#8: Layton series – Favorite: Unwound Future

Professor_Layton_and_the_Unwound_Future

I simply can’t believe what LEVEL-5 has done with this series. They combined two of my favorite genres and made an awesome game series out of it. Professor Layton is an amazing series of puzzle and visual novel adventure games.

I love how there is always a debate on forums between fans of the Ace Attorney series and the Layton fans, since they are kind of similar. You play a detective by solving puzzles.

There are 6 games now in the series, 4 on the Nintendo DS. Out of them, my favorite is Unwound Future. The story is just the best out of the series. I think it’s one of the best. It’s the one I remember the most.

You can really see the evolution the series goes through. That’s why I advice people who want to play through this series to start with the first game. Because if you play the newer games first, you will get annoyed by some missing features like a notepad.

I still have to beat the last 3DS entry in the series, so I’m pretty curious how the series ends. But secretly I’m hoping that they continue the series with a new trilogy. Come on LEVEL-5, go for it!

#7: Castlevania series (Best: Portrait Of Ruin)

Portrait_of_Ruin

It will be a sin talking about Castlevania earlier in this list and not giving the series a well deserved spot in my top 25 list. Because these games have a lot of memories to me.

I started playing Portrait Of Ruin before I discovered Monster Tale. I was hooked in a matter of minutes. I loved the Metroidvania gameplay. Exploring a vast “open” world in a setting where mythological creatures are your enemies…

These games use enemies from mythologies and myths. Long time readers know this about me, I didn’t start as a game reviewer, I started as a hobby writer. Seeing stories used so powerful always puts a smile on my face. This is the best game when it comes to vampires.

I do warn you guys, this game can be quite hard. But the people who love to grind, this game won’t be a big letdown, because with a lot of grinding you will be able to finish these games without a lot of problems. But I’m not somebody who likes to grind. So, the challenge in this game is quite high for me. Even more enjoyable. Since the game’s controls are near pitch perfect!

#6: Pokémon series (Best: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of the Sky)

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This game got me to cry. Yes, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon hits my emotional spot each and every time. They are even continuing it on the 3DS. With some cuts and adds though.

The Pokémon series are one of the earliest gaming memories I have. Looking back, my mind is blown, how that as a young child, I was able to understand and (almost) beat a RPG. One with some depth.

On the surface, Pokémon looks to be made for children, but in reality, it can be quite deep and enjoyable to play.  I’m still working on beating the Black & White games, I’m currently about midway in Pokémon Black 2. But I think I might restart with the white version. Or delete my save file. The reason why, well, I lost my notes and I wanted to write an article about it.

Or I might not delete my save file and enjoy the game. Since it was also one of the first games I played on my Nintendo DS. Yeah. Memories.

#5:  Okamiden

Okamiden-title

So, I have written a first impression of the Wii game in the series, Okami. Wouldn’t it be a shame if one then didn’t like the DS version?

The DS version blew me off my socks in how it was able to port parts of a Wii game to the portable market. (No need for a new 3DS, more ranting on that … later this month)

This game takes place a few years after Okami ended. Now you play the son of the great Japanase sun god. The humor in this game is just excellent.

Best of all, you have more then one partner! Each partner has their own personality and character trades, which makes the game diverse and fun to play.

It was even able to touch me on an emotional level with it’s ending. Not all games can achieve that.

#4: Suikoden Tierkreis

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First Impression

If you are able to ignore the sometimes bad voice acting of this game, you get an amazing deep story of a group of teenagers fighting against a civilization that believes that the future is already known.

This RPG, I played it more then once. It might be a bit outdated by today’s standards, but it’s still amazingly fun. It even got me into the Suikoden series. I must play Suikoden II. I have heard so much about it.

A little fun fact, I nearly write the title wrong every time. I switch the “k” and the “d” so often. Before I published this article, I double checked if I didn’t make that mistake.

So, read my first impression if you want to know what I recommend this game. That will avoid me having to write an extremely long explanation in this article. Check it out, but forgive the voice acting. It isn’t all that good. It truly brings the game down.

#3: Ace Attorney series

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney review – First Impression: Ace Attorney – Miles Edgeworth – Investigations 2 (Fan Translation)

What can I say about this series? It moved me various times and I’m one big Ace Attorney fan. I even took a look to two 3DS titles. If it wasn’t clear already, look at how high on the list I place this series.

This game made me love visual novels. It was one of my first visual novels I ever played. As you might know, I started as a story writer. Seeing how strong stories can be in games, well… yeah… I have a hard time explaining this but I could feel the passion the writers have put into this series. You can feel those kind of things as a writer.

For every announcement of a new Ace Attorney game, I get quite hyped. I’m even going so far as playing a fan translation of a game that isn’t released in the west. Maybe I should write articles about the other games in the series in the future, maybe that might show my love more clear.

#2: 999: 9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Doors

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So, why is this game so high on my list? If you read my review and saw the score I gave to it, I don’t have to explain myself any further.

In the previous entry I explained how Ace Attorney pulled me into the visual novel adventure genre. Everything that Ace Attorney did right and presented with a more humorous tone, 999 did with it’s grim yet enjoyable tone.

This game isn’t for the faint of hart. And I really mean what I say here. If you have a vivid imagination, this game might even scare you. It’s that well written.

I totally disagree with some complaints, that this game is too repetitive. To me, it’s not. But I can see where they are coming from.

I enjoyed this game so much, I even bought it on a trip to the USA. It never came to Europe. Yeah.

Honorable mentions

Before we take a look to number one, I must have my honorable mentions. A few slipped already into the article but I want to list the other games that didn’t make the list but where great to play through as well. Maybe in the future or if I ever do a (3)DS month again, you might see these games in articles. And various games, well, it was hard to leave them out. But I had to drop games.

Kirby games, Soul Bubbles, Bookworm, Giana Sisters, Lost In Blue series, Henry Hatsworth and the puzzling adventure, Dragon Quest 9, Super Monkey Ball, The Settlers, Age Of Mythology DS, Make 10, Lego Battles, Magical StarSign, Elebits, Dream Chronicles DS (PC version let’s play) and Contact.

It was pretty though ordering the top ten. But I think it’s quite clear which game series is going to be number one. So, yeah. Here we go I guess.

#1: Zelda series (Favorite: Phantom Hourglass)

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The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks review

So, who hasn’t seen this one…. miles coming? Yeah! The first game I played on the DS when I got it… It just stuck with me the most. If you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about, read my article about gaming nostalgia: my history of the DS and 3DS handhelds.

Oh, for this entry I also count the fun spin-off: Tingle – Rosy Rupeeland. That game is quite interesting. It’s like trying to play as Tingle.

But back to the subject, I was already a big Zelda fan before I bought the DS. My love only grew thanks to these games. It’s a shame that I haven’t written an article about Phantom Hourglass, but don’t you worry, it will be written eventually. Be warned, it will be filled with nostalgia.

I would like to know what your favorite Zelda game on the DS is. Since I’m sure that there will be debate over which game is the better game. Phantom Hourglass or Spirit Tracks. I’m really curious what you guys have to say. (Or girls for that matter)

Closing words

I hope that you guys enjoyed these 3 articles. I think it was an awesome way to close this month’s theme. So, if you aren’t following me on other social media, let me tell you here. I posted a whole list of articles I plan to do. I basically posted the possible scheduling for this year.

Anyways, enough about that. I’m not going to write a whole emotional part about how much I love the Nintendo DS. I think that’s clear enough. It’s my favorite handheld. Period. If you are able to look past the shovelware that some studios released, I think you can find a gem of a handheld.

But to further prove my point, read Lpgardian’s article why he thinks that the Nintendo DS is the best handheld. So, yeah. Feel free to leave a comment on this article what your best DS games are. And hopefully you guys can forgive me that I didn’t put big named games on this list.

So, I hope to see you soon. When my next article releases. Until then, take care!

My top 25 DS games of all time. (Part 1/3)

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I have a gut feeling that one day, in a comment or a podcast, somebody will ask me one of the most terrible questions I can be asked. What is my favorite DS game of all time? Also, to avoid that I make it myself easy, I have decided that I’m not allowed to pick two games from a series on this list. I’m allowed to put a series on one spot though. For the rest, I’ll write this list as usual. Before I start, I want to tell you guys that this is one of the hardest lists I ever put together. Also, there are a lot of DS games I haven’t played yet, so this list might not contain games you truly enjoyed. Please don’t hate or beg to me in the comments why I should play a certain game. I’ll also link when I wrote an article about a certain game in the past. That way you can read a more in depth look on the game. Since I want to avoid that this article becomes too long. As you all know, my favorite gaming system is the Nintendo DS, due to it bringing me the most memories out of all the games I have played in the past. Anyways, this has been a long enough introduction. Let’s start the countdown. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your top best DS games, your opinion on this article and or my selection. 

 #25: Lux Pain

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Alright, Lux Pain. A game with a very interesting gameplay. I have beaten this game twice and I still enjoy it. The writing of this game is excellent. You play as a secret agent for a special kind of infection. This infection makes people go crazy and mad, eventually killing themselves.

That’s the plot. But the further I got in the story, the more I got attached to the characters, music, setting and the game.

I didn’t expect the gameplay. It’s hard to explain and best to experienced by yourself. It’s a visual novel with a sort of mini-game. It’s extremely challenging and some “battles” require some practice.

I honestly didn’t research this game at all before I started playing it. I found out about it on a list of visual novels on the DS and I started playing it. After two hours I was drawn into the story and it was the only game I was playing at the time.

Keep in mind though, that I played this game when my parents put me on limited computer time, so I had to find other ways to entertain myself. This game did the trick quite well.

#24: Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

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Yes, that’s true. I placed a Golden Sun game at number 24. I know, you might wanted it to be higher. B-but, there are other games I enjoyed more…

Q! Come on, it’s not because you enjoyed the GBA games as much, I have to put the DS game higher on my list…

I know, it’s my list… and that’s ButtonSmashers is yours. But I don’t feel like making this an exclusive article for my personal blog.

True, Golden Sun is amazing and I enjoyed the gameplay quite a lot. But I don’t think it’s the best RPG on the system for me.

More reasons, well, ehrm… It’s the game that started my love for collecting strategy guides. Mind you, I didn’t use my strategy guide while I was playing this game.

Note: Lpgardian (aka Q) didn’t know about this. I wanted to joke around a bit, using the fact that he adores the Golden Sun games on GBA. So, yeah. Creativity ^w^ . 

#23: Mario games – Best one: Super Mario 64 DS

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And now, I might piss off a lot of my readers. I place the Mario games on number 23. That includes: Mario Kart, Mario and Luigi, Mario Hoops: 3-on-3 (Which are honorable mentions by the way.)

To have “one” game each number, I decided that I pick my most favorite game out of the series. That has to be Super Mario 64 DS.

This title improved on the game quite a lot. Making it portable and adding new characters. This makes for some interesting gameplay.

And this is the reason why I put this game (series) so low on the list, is that I don’t fully enjoy platformers where the goal is, go from left to right and avoid enemies.

I still remember playing the N64 version when I was on a trip to a theme park in the neighboring country here. It wasn’t my first 3D game, but it was the first time I saw Mario in 3D. So, nostalgia caused my buying this title… And I enjoyed it. (But never beaten it.)

#22: Picross 3D

Picross_3D_CoverI love myself some Japanese games. But when I discovered Picross, maybe better known under the name of nonograms, I was hooked. My aunt actually bought my a puzzle book full of them, and I took it everywhere with me.

To this day, I still have that puzzle book. But I haven’t solved a lot of puzzles in it. Since I wanted to keep it as empty as possible so I could remake the puzzles over and over. The reason for that is that here in Belgium, you can’t buy many puzzle books with nanograms in them.

Anyways, when I saw this game on the DS, I doubted a bit. An amazing 2D puzzle, going 3D? That must bring with it a lot of problems!

But I was proven wrong. This game is really challenging and proves why these puzzles are my favorite puzzles ever created. This game even appears on various overlooked DS games lists, so yeah.

#21: Puzzler World series

puzzler_world_dsThe Puzzler World series is everything a puzzle game collection needs to be. Portable, enjoyable and fun. And best of all, you can choose which puzzle you want to play and when.

I have seen people calling this game shovelware, but I respectfully disagree. Since this game is well made and produced with a lot of love.

The fact that you have to beat additional puzzles to win hint coins is a nice concept. This makes the hint coins pretty valuable. The early puzzles are pretty easy, but the later puzzles get really crazy and require your puzzle solving skills, to the max.

Before the smart guy or girl comments what my favorite game is of the series, I can’t tell. Since they are all pretty similar. Only the puzzle selection is different.

#20: Nintendogs

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Relax please. The cats are added in the 3DS version. For the people who didn’t catch my little joke, my nickname NekoJonez has the Japanese word for cat in it. And since this game is about dogs.

I’m a bit cat fan, but I always dreamed of having a dog and a cat. Sadly enough, due to family allergies and such, we can’t keep a dog. Also, my house isn’t really fitted for having a dog.

So, the best solution was a virtual dog. I still remember how I got my DS before my sister. She was pretty jealous. She wanted to play this game the most. At that moment, I decided to take some of my pocket money and buy it together with her.

This game holds a ton of memories for me. When I first made YouTube video’s, this game was one of the stars of my “show”. I made videos showing off hidden tricks, glitches and my skills with the game. And yes, my English was even more broken then it currently is.

So, I think it’s only fair to put it on my list. But there are games that I ended more then Nintendogs, so let’s take a look at number 19.

End of part 1.

19 – 10 / 9 – 1