Tag Archives: death

Review: Death Mark (Switch) ~ Alive Until Dawn

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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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Gamer’s Thoughts: NekoJonez’s Top 10 Played Games of 2018

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2018 was an extremely strange year for me personally. A lot has happened in the past 12 months both good and bad. I have graduated this year. I’m now a bachelor in Computer Science – Networking. But on the other hand, I have gone through a lot of personal rough patches that did quite a number on my mental health. I’m slowly recovering and the support I’m getting is motivating me even more to go forward and get better. That said, I also played quite a lot of games this year. I got a Switch this year and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I also finished and completed a lot of games I started in the past few years so I had a bit of trouble putting this list together. So, for those who are new here, this list contains my 10 favorite games I have STARTED playing in 2018. The release date of the game itself doesn’t matter, what matters is that I started playing it in 2018. Before we get into the actual list, reminder, this list is my personal opinion. So, feel free to discuss it in the comments and also feel free to post your own list into the comments. I’m rather curious. Anyways, this introduction is getting quite long, it’s time to get into the actual list.

Place 10: Angels of Death (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

At first, this game would have a higher place on this list. The story and theming of this game grabbed my attention so much, I felt the black hole after finishing this game quite hard. I wanted to spend more time in the world of this game and spend more time with the characters.

I think that my love for the Corpse Party series and the Zero Escape series made me enjoy this game so much more. If you are a fan of either series, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

In addition to that, this game might have one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. How many times I have listened to it this year, I lost count already. And mind you, I found this game in late October.

Now, why is this game not higher on the list? I praised it quite a lot in my review and I might have given the impression that this game would be my game of the year… Well, it’s because I played another horror game this year that just did that bit more. Outside of that, the short length and gameplay; the game felt like a game I play in between big releases. So yeah. That’s why.

Place 9: Shining Resonance – Refrain (Switch)

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So, back in 2016 I played Stella Glow.I got quite into the story of music playing a big role in an RPG by giving buffs or debuffs. When I found Shining Resonance: Refrain on the Nintendo eShop on the Switch and read that music played an important role as well, I was sold.

When I started to play this game, I got flashbacks to Stella Glow. Even when this game plays quite a lot differently than Stella Glow. This game is more action focused and in real time while Stella Glow’s gameplay is more a big puzzle and turn-based.

While I haven’t even come close to finishing this game, I’m quite curious what else I’ll encounter in this game. I’m at the midway mark of this game but I have been rushing through it. I think that the next couple of playing sessions will be to catch up with various side quests and improving my characters and their equipment since I quite a lot of trouble while battling the last boss.

Now, this game is a port of a PS3 game released in 2014. It’s also a part of the Shining series. If the other games in the series are as enjoyable as this game, I think I might explore this series in the future. Too bad that a lot of games in this series hasn’t left Japan.

Place 8: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland (Nintendo Switch)

Atelier Rorona

Wikipedia

So, not too long ago, a bundle of three Atelier games got released on the Nintendo Switch. These games are the Arland trilogy. After I figured out what was the first game in the series, I started playing Atelier Rorona.

I was very surprised with the game actually. The game is quite enjoyable to play but it can be repetitive. The game is about an alchemy workshop with a very lazy owner. You play as her pupil named Rorona. When the kingdom orders the closure of the workshop, you get three years to prove the worth of the shop and finish various assignments of the kingdom. If you fail one of these, the workshop closes right away.

Now, what I didn’t know is how replayable this game is. These are so many mechanics I discovered during my first time playing this game, I also found out that there are a lot of various endings to the game. Now that I have beaten the game once, I think I’ll first beat the other two games before I do another playthrough to get an even better ending.

I personally really liked this game but I have to say that this game isn’t for everyone. I recommend this game to everybody who enjoys a more laid back RPG game. This game does have a lot of depth, but overall I found this game a more relaxing experience. That statement might change if I try to go for the other endings, who knows.

In any case, I’m rather curious what the other two games have on offer for me. Since, I’m going to beat those next. And who knows, these games might convince me to further check out the Atelier series, of which there are many… many games.

Place 7: Resident Evil 4 (PlayStation 2)

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Wikipedia

When I started playing games like Corpse Party, Fatal Frame and Zero Escape; I knew that one day I’ll have to look into the horror genre. A long time ago, in one of my local toy stores, there was a PS2 booth where a demo of Resident Evil 4 was playable. I think I was 14 years old and while I enjoyed playing the game, I didn’t even know the title nor the impact that game was going to have in the gaming scene. I think I only played the game for like 10-15 minutes in total since the next time I went, the booth was replaced with a demo Gamecube with Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

I actually forgot about the game until some of my favorite YouTubers started to talk about it on their channels. Back then, I was more into adventure and puzzle games, so I took note of the name and moved on.

Fast forward to this year. I was browsing the second hand games in my local game store and I saw a copy of Resident Evil 4 for the PS2 for only 10€. I didn’t hesitate twice. I bought this game and after I came home I started to play it right away. While I was afraid that I would suck at survival horror, I was able to finish chapter after chapter.

I also got quickly used to aiming and firing a gun with a controller. Since that was one of my biggest fears. I tried playing various shooters with a controller in the past and I always had a lot of trouble.

So, because I was highly surprised at how much fun I was having, I felt that this game rightfully deserved a spot on this year’s list.

Place 6: Project Zero II (Fatal Frame II) – The Crimson Butterfly (PlayStation 2)Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly.jpg

Wikipedia

So, due to Project Zero V – Maiden of the Black Water last year, I got quite into the Project Zero / Fatal Frame series. But seeing the pricing of getting other entries in the series ranging from 30€ to 60€, I had a hard time tracking down a copy.

To my surprise, around my birthday, somebody brought Fatal Frame I, II and III in to my local game store and I was able to buy the three titles for 20€ each.

I started playing all three games to test out if the games worked or not. Yet, when I was testing Fatal Frame II, I found myself not able to stop playing the game. The concept of the story where one sister is always looking for her sibling just spoke to me on a personal level. It was quite tricky to get used to playing this game on the PS2, since I always tried to move the camera while moving the PS2 controller since I was used it that playing the other game on the Wii U.

I enjoy playing this game the most, late at night while I darken my room and turn off the lights so I have only the glow of the TV and the disc spinning in the PS2 to keep my company. This makes the game and the experience that more enjoyable. I can’t wait to boot up my PS2 again tonight and try to make some more progress in this quite enjoyable game.

Place 5: Death Mark  (Nintendo Switch)

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Official website

It looks like I was on a horror rush this year. Death Mark is the 4th game on my favorite games of 2018 list. Now, when I wrote my Halloween special on Angels of Death this year, I actually completed the game before Halloween. So, I was looking for a new horror game to play on Halloween and that’s when I found Death Mark on the Nintendo eShop.

When I was looking at the screenshots and reading the description, it felt like a mixture of Corpse Party and the Zero Escape series. A visual novel horror adventure game that throws you in front of a lot of puzzles.

And that’s what the game delivers perfectly. An enjoyable story with multiple outcomes depending on your actions and one that gripped me to the end. While I was able to see some twists coming from a mile away, the pacing and writing the story more than made up for it.

The story is about a mysterious mark that appears on your body when you go to a haunted place and that mark spells death by dawn if you are unable to clear the grudge of the spirit that gave you the mark. So, if you enjoy a visual novel style horror adventure game, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

Now, Japan is getting a sequel/follow up to this game next year.  Now here is my call to the developers, please localize the follow up game as well. Looking at the screenshots and the teaser, I’m quite interested! And here is my call to everybody who is interested in horror, please give this game a shot and share it around. This game is highly underrated and deserves more attention and love!

Place 4: Blossom Tales (Switch)

Blossom Tales

My review

I often check the Nintendo Switch store for interesting and unique games. When I came across Blossom Tales, I was sold. The game looked like a well made 2D-Zelda clone and as a big fan of the Legend of Zelda… Let’s just say it was a no-brainier.

And I didn’t regret that decision once. I enjoyed playing this game quite a lot. I felt right at home as a Zelda fan. Also, this game reminded me a bit of the Fairune games. It reminded me how fun that 2D Zelda games are and how much I miss that style of gameplay. I wonder that if we are going to ever see a 2D Zelda game again after the massive success that was Breath of the Wild.  Only time will tell, but for now, I’m happy to see that there are indie game studio’s that will create games in that style so I’ll always have a game in that style to look forward too.

What I liked the most about this game was the unique way the story was told. A grandfather telling his grandchildren a story since they are bored. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this game. It gives off so much charm and character to the game, for that alone I would recommend that you play this game. And, since we are in the holidays period, the charm is even better!

Place 3: Fire Emblem Warriors (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. This game is one of the reasons I bought a Nintendo Switch. I think the praise I gave in my review on this game made it pretty clear that this was one of the best games I have played in 2018.

Honestly, at first I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like the game. Since I had put so many hours into Hyrule Warriors, I was afraid that I was burnt out on the formula and gameplay.

But Fire Emblem Warriors brings a lot of new and fresh mechanics to the table to make me enjoy the game even more. The only criticism I have about the game is that some parts are a bit too complex and not well explained enough in-game. Everything else is highly polished. Even the trick that Drakalus gave me to improve the frame rate in multiplayer aided quite a lot.

Thanks to this game, I got back into the Fire Emblem series. I think that in the upcoming months, I will start tackling my huge backlog of Fire Emblem games I have in my collection. I have at least 6 Fire Emblem games that I have started but never finished. I think it’s time to change that. This game convinced me that the series has quite a lot to offer and I can’t wait to see which adventures the world of Fire Emblem will bring me.

Place 2: Dragon Quest Builders (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

When I saw a trailer for Dragon Quest Builders for the first time, I was hooked. I was disappointed when I learned that this game was going to release for the PlayStation 3, 4 and PSVita. At first, I was considering to buy a PSVita for this game (and Corpse Party Blood Drive before that got ported over to Android)

The game got ported to the Nintendo Switch, so I was able to buy it on the system I bought this year. And I’m glad I was able to play this game. I loved every moment of this game and I’m so extremely hyped for the upcoming sequel. The Japanese version released a couple of days ago. It’s quite tempting to look up let’s plays but I want to keep my experience as spoiler free as I can.

The only new negative is that I’m unable to play the Terra Incognita mode. Since I have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription and purchasing that for only that and a few NES games is currently not worth it for me in my opinion. But hey, that’s my opinion.

Honorable mentions

Now, I have played a lot of games and some games deserve a mention but haven’t made it on my list for various reasons. So, before I reveal my “game of the year” / number 1, it’s time for the honorable mentions.
Cleopatra – A Queen’s Destiny (PC), Knights of Pen & Paper (PC/Switch), Darkest Dungeon (Switch), Kamiko (Switch), A Magical High School Girl (Switch), Grumpy Cat (Android),
Etrain Odyssey 5 (3DS), Zack & Wiki (Wii), Steamworld Dig 2 (3DS), Silent Hill 4 (PS2), Telsagrad (Wii U), DuckTales (NES), Age of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC), Devil May Cry 4 (PS2).

Now, I know that a lot of major titles released in 2018 didn’t make it on my list or on my honorable mentions. In any case, I think it’s time to reveal the game I was most hyped for this year and I enjoyed the most. Which game is MY personal game of the year 2018? Let’s. Find. Out.

Number 1 – Game of the Year – Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)

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My review

So, this experience. This game, is my game of the year in 2018. Shadow of the Tomb Raider. When I was planning the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaboration, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to write about this game.

While some fans in the Tomb Raider series aren’t a big fan of the reboot since it’s a more action focused and linear game; I enjoy the new direction of the series. Especially this game. The improved visual style, the improved writing, the improved quality of life features… The game is just an amazing way to finish this reboot trilogy.

I seriously hope that this isn’t going to be the final game in the Tomb Raider series. Since I enjoyed myself with this game so much, I can’t wait to see where Lara goes next. Besides that, this year a new Tomb Raider movie got released. That movie I personally enjoyed quite a lot. For a movie based on a video game, I find that they did an extremely good job. I’m not really a movie review but if I have to grade the movie, it would get a 75/100.

Now, why did I enjoy this game so much? Why did I pick this game as my game of the year? For several reasons, the first reason is that this game’s story is the best story out of the three games in the reboot series. I had several moments where I felt the emotions of the characters, the voice actors did that good of a job.

A second reason is that this game is just beautiful. The visual presentation is just amazing. There are various spots where you look out over a huge forest from on top of a mountain or you get other breath taking views. Now, a few moments had some minor visual glitching or some spots where the game could have look a bit better, but that might be because of my older GPU in my desktop. That might explain various lighting glitches I have in the post launch DLC.

A third reason why this is my game of the year is that the Tomb Raider series just means a lot to me personally. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and I see and I have always seen Lara Croft as a sort of “sister” to Indiana Jones. But Indiana Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention in the video game scene while Lara does get that. So, being able to play games like Tomb Raider… Well, it’s my favorite genre and style of games after all. A mystery adventure game mixed with action and platforming segments.

The only disappointing thing is that I don’t have a physical copy of this game. The PC version of this game hasn’t gotten a physical release. And I feel it would be a waste of money to buy a PS4 or XBOX copy of the game just to have a physical version. But, if you want to know my actual opinion on the game, I advise that you read my review. Since, I really detailed my opinion in that article.

So, if you will excuse me now. I think it’s time to wrap up this article so I can play the newly added tombs and story segments.

Wrapping up 2018.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, 2018 was an extremely weird year for me. I even got my articles stolen various times. Outside of that, I had 25,000 views on my blog. This is more than double compared to the amount of views I got in 2017.

This inspires me to continue and write even more articles in 2019. I have a few in mind so I hope I’ll be able to welcome you on my blog next year. Blogging is my biggest hobby since I’m able to share my opinion on the games I have played with the world. I’m quite grateful of everybody who reads my articles and leaves comments or talks to me on social media or even in person about my articles and/or the games I have talked about.

I also love it when developers contact me and give me various chances to play unique and fun games. It also helps me to expand my collection and takes makes me even more happy.

If I have to pick my favorite blogging moments of this year, I have to say how the community came together for helping me and other bloggers in fighting article theft, the Tomb Raider project and the various milestones I reached like 500+ followers on my Twitter. It’s still the best way to keep up-to-date with me.

2019 is going to celebrate the 9th year I have been blogging. Before 2013, I had a Dutch blog. That means that this blog will be 7 years old next year.

That will mean that 2020 will be an extremely special year for me. But, let’s focus first on 2019. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Speaking of 2019, I think I should talk about the games I’m looking forward to! That’s going to be (one of the) next articles on my blog. So, keep an eye out for that.

With that said, 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.

Review: Angels Of Death (Switch) ~ Halloween Adventure

Wikipedia entry

Today I want to talk about a game that’s perfect for Halloween night. Since I played and fell in love with the Corpse Party series, I have high expectations when it comes to playing RPG horror themed games. So, what did I think of “Angels of Death”? Did it live up to the fun I had with Corpse Party or did it fall flat on it’s face? That’s what I want to talk about in this review. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the game and/or the content of this article.

“I saw a murder”

Fair warning for everybody who wants to play this game. This game is quite story based and try to avoid reading too about the story to avoid spoiling the whole game. To avoid ruining the game for those who want to play it after reading this article, I kept the spoilers to a minimum and the screenshots of the early game.

That said, in this game you take on the role of Rachael “Ray” Gartner. A 13-year old girl who claims to have seen a murder. She is taken to a hospital for counseling. However, she finds herself waking up in an unfamiliar basement. Now, she has to escape since she heard over a speaker that she is a sacrifice, what ever that might mean.

And that’s everything I’m going to say about the story. The story takes various twists and turns and it’s a wild ride. The writing and pacing is top notch. Personally, I loved the writing in this game. The characters are memorable and quirky. I loved every single one of them.

This game contains a lot of dialogues. If you aren’t into those games, I would recommend that you skip this one. Since none of the dialogues are voice acted. But, after I had finished the first chapter of the game, I watched the first episode of the anime and I have to say, that those voices just played in my head while I was playing the game.

The writing made me laugh and sit on the edge of my seat. It’s a great story to play on Halloween night. It’s a game that takes the horror route without using too much gore. The only sad thing is that this game is only 8 hours long. The game doesn’t have any replay value or multiple endings, so I felt empty after those 8 hours. Empty for more.

This game touches upon a few themes that could be a trigger for some people. From murder, a whole range of cuss words to religion. In my opinion, the game never went into offensive territory but if you are easily triggered about these subjects, keep an open mind if you are playing this game.

“Exploration of the basement”

At it’s core, Angels of Death is a puzzle game. If you have played Corpse Party or a game from the Zero Escape series, you will be right at home playing this game. The goal of each chapter is to escape the floor you are trapped on. In order to do that, you have to solve various puzzles while exploring the basement.

The game is quite linear, so there isn’t much room to explore the basement. I never got stuck in this game and I never needed a walkthrough. This game is quite easy to finish. It does provide some challenge but if you use the save system like I did, you won’t have any problems.

Don’t forget that this game doesn’t automatically save your game. You have to manually save the game. You can do that whenever you want, expect from a few special moments like chase sequences. When these moments happen, the game gives you the chance to save right before they happen. You have 99 save slots, so you won’t run out of slots. And yes, you can save over a slot.

This game has 4 chapters, so 4 puzzles for you to complete. To be honest, you don’t need to play this game for the puzzles. Some of them were too easy and I didn’t even notice that I was solving a puzzle. The flow of this game is a bit too streamlined. Yet, it didn’t pull away from the experience. Besides exploration, there are a few sections that provide some variation in the gameplay. There is even a section where you have to shoot something to clear out a room. These sections were too short.

This is the big issue I had with the game. The game is a lot of fun to play but it’s too easy. The story is amazing and has the right length and pace so more gameplay would have made the story unnecessarily longer. So, I’m a bit mixed on this.

During the various sections, the controls never failed me. I mostly played this game in handheld mode or in docked mode. The controls are easy to understand and quite quick to learn. I never had any issues with them.

In terms of the UI of this game, I think it’s quite good apart from one minor thing. In the “load” menu of the game, I wish there was a bit more info on the save slot. For example, in which room I saved. Oh well, that’s a nitpick.

“Zack’s laugh”

The visual presentation of this game is great. It’s quite clear that this game uses a version of RPG Maker for this game and it uses it quite well. Each map is quite detailed. The visual presentation really added to the atmosphere of the game. The animations as well, I really loved the animations during story segments. They made some characters come to live.

Some parts of this game are hand drawn like the character models. This adds a lot of charm to the game and they reminded me of the anime I still have to finish. My favorite character in this whole game is Ray. I can’t explain why, since that would mean I would spoil the whole game.

Something that adds quite a lot to the game is the soundtrack and the sound effects. The soundtrack of this game consists mostly of techno and orchestra tracks. I’m so glad that I also bought the Steam version so I could add the soundtrack to my library. It’s a joy to listen too.

The sound effects are amazing as well, to such a degree that a lot of people miss the sound effect of Zach’s laugh in some tracks. I have to agree since I always heard his laugh in the track while it wasn’t there. The story had such an impact on me.

My only complaint is that the music tracks are a bit too short. Some are only one minute long and I like them quite a lot. I wish they created an extended version that wasn’t looping the song three times over. Oh well, this again might be a nitpick.

This game has the perfect price in my opinion. You can buy this game for 15€ in the Nintendo EShop. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time we wrap this article up and go for the conclusion of this review.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • Too short & easy.

The good:

  • Amazing story.
  • Amazing soundtrack.
  • Amazing art & animations.

Final thoughts:

If you enjoy RPG-maker games that give you more of an adventure like Corpse Party or the Crooked Man, this game is for you. If you want to play a short and fun game during Halloween night, I can’t recommend this game enough.

Personally, I loved the writing in this game so much that I want to replay through the whole game while I even know how the game is going to end. I understand that this game isn’t for everybody. With the large amounts of dialogue, the easy puzzles and the short nature of this game, some people can get turned off this game. But, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game.

I was glad that I had this game on the car trip during my family weekend. It was such a blast to play. My only regret is that I didn’t keep this for Halloween night. If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch, this game is also on Steam. So, go grab it and enjoy it!

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, take care and have a great (spooky) rest of your day.

Score: 100/100

My favorite gaming music #22 – Time for a Loop

GameMusic_InArticleIt’s that time again. Time to share some of my favorite tracks in gaming. I have written articles about this before if the title hasn’t given that away. I have written 21 articles about this before. The rules for these articles are simple. I can only pick one track per franchise per article and I only pick the original versions of the track. Unless I choose to do a special article for this series where I only pick remixed versions or video game related music. So, are you ready? Since here we go. It’s time to party!

Remember Me (PC) – Nilin The Memory Hunter

Remember ME.jpg

I haven’t gotten too far into this game but so far I’m enjoying the ride an awful lot. The plot of this game interests me to no end. The idea where you have to mess with people’s memories; or how the economy is based on memories.

This game is on my “to write about” list for a month or two now. I’m glad that I gave this game a chance since not only is the story amazing, the music is a blast to listen too.

For this article, I have chosen the main theme of the game. It fits perfectly with the futuristic theme of the game and the techno/electro track is a blast to listen too. When I first heard it, it really helped me to get pumped for the game and what the game was going to offer me.

So, if you want to know my opinion on this game; keep an eye out for my blog. Since I plan to review it rather soon.

Outlaws (PC) ~ The Ballad Of Doctor Death

250px-OutlawsLucasArtsBoxCover

Review of this game

This game was in my top 10 favorite games of 2017 list. It even finished on the 3rd place. In my review of this game, I highly praised the soundtrack. And, it would be only logical if one of the tracks appears here in this series.

While I had a hard time choosing one from this amazing western shooter, I settled on the track of “The Ballad Of Doctor Death.” It has a bit of everything.

The start of the track is a typical western track where at some parts it even feels medieval. But, what I love most is that the track changes around the middle where it becomes a sort of vocal track of cowboys riding their horses into the sunset. It fits the atmosphere of the game where you have to shoot in towns and such extremely well.

The track is amazing to listen too on its own but I really advise you to play the game and enjoy when this track comes on. It makes the track even better. If you don’t know where to buy this game, don’t look too far since the game is for sale on GOG.com for less then 5€. If you enjoy retro gaming or those old shooters like DooM or Wolfenstein… Don’t skip out on this one!

A Hat In Time (PC) – The Battle of Bird Award 42

Hat In Time

Review of the game

Yes, of course, my favorite game of 2017 gets a spot in this series. And I think it won’t be the last time either.

I wanted to go with “Turn on the pyrotechnics” since that track is currently my ringtone. Yet, when I heard this track again I loved it even more.

Not only that, the boss battle that happens when you hear this track in the game is just amazing. The build-up and the finish of the chapter are just amazing.

I can’t wait to see what the free DLC will have in store. I’m still hoping that it drops this year, currently, it’s listed on their website on 31st December. A new chapter and new features; sign me up!

But, let’s enjoy this rocking track even more and if you have played the game, just close your eyes and enjoy the memories coming back in of this game and the amazing boss battle.

Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch) ~ Tactical Map

Fire_Emblem_Warriors_cover.png

I have finished this game two weeks ago. While I could have finished it weeks ago; I haven’t done that. I just enjoyed playing the game that much that I wanted to take my time with it.

I still want to write about this game but since I’m now playing the remastered edition of Hyrule Warriors as well, I’m thinking about a different kind of article.

A feature I love in Fire Emblem Warriors is how the tactical aspect of the series is carried over. How you can order your warriors to go and defeat a general; defend an ally…

When you start every mission, you hear this song while you are making your first moves. This song calms me to make the best choices for the upcoming battle but it also hyped me up to get ready to fight and defeat our enemies.

So, like Remember Me; this game is on my “to write about” list and I think you might see it soon then later.

Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) ~ BGM 5

Dragon_quest_builders_art.jpg

In my article where I looked forward to the games, I wanted to play in 2018, I talked about a game called Dragon Quest Builders. Now, I’m currently in the 3rd chapter of 4. So, you may expect an article on this game in the near future.

The music is this game sounds like your typical Dragon Quest music. It really suits the game rather well. It suits the game that well to the point that I’m now playing Minecraft with Dragon Quest music playing in the background.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has in store for me and what the sequel has in store. I wonder if the game will still be released this year. Even if this doesn’t; I’m going to wait for it and pick it up as soon as it releases.

Closing off

It was really fun putting this article together. It reminded me of how important gaming music is to me. How much attention I pay to it while I’m playing games and writing articles like this.

If you have any music you really enjoy from games; I would love to hear it in the comments. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my music selection. I’m curious if I’m the only ones who really love these tracks.

So, 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.

Personal: My pet cat Sparta, my twinkling star

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Sparta

° 24/04/2008 –  † 13/07/2018

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

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

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

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

Icon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SpartaSleeping

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

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

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

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

NekoJonez’s June 2018 Update

DSC_0956It’s almost time, time to start the summer of 2018. But, today I want to talk to you guys and girls. My readers. I want to share some things that are happening behind the screens and what you can expect from my blog for the remainder of 2018. Since this is quite an important update article. So, here we go. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and such. 

The second half of 2018

emulatorsI can’t promise that I’ll be able to write 1 or 2 articles/day during this summer. The reason for that I’ll get into later. But, I do have some plans for the second half of 2018. d

First of all, I have finally found all the writers for the Tomb Raider project. If you still want to aid me in an amazing blogging journey about the Tomb Raider franchise, you can still contact me. But, that means you might get a special task.

When is the Tomb Raider project going to release? Well, for the moment I can’t say a date since I have to work out everybody’s schedule and I need to find the time for that myself.

So, besides the Tomb Raider project, what will you see in 2018 from me? Well, the big issue is that I have played a ton of games I have written about in the “First Impression” format. In addition to that, the play sessions I had with some games weren’t long enough yet to have a review. In addition to that, I have something that’s the total opposite of a writer’s block.

There is such a huge list of games I still want to write about but I haven’t gotten around to it. It’s such a huge list, I actually don’t know where to start. Besides that, the garage sale season has started and I have expanded my collection with a lot of games. So, my best guess is that soon you will see articles on those games.

Something you won’t see in the near future is me publishing a press kit. Looking at the numbers those articles pull in, I’m certain that people not really like them. For now, I’m not going to publish press kits for a while.

If you want to have my latest updates, I highly recommend you follow me on my Twitter. If you aren’t following me on there, this might be a reminder to do so. I’m quite humbled to see that I almost 500 followers on there.

Also, I have no idea if I’ll still be able to blog in 2018. Since the new EU copyright laws are going to make things extremely difficult to link articles, use pictures of games… Please, read up about it since content creation for the smaller people is going to become difficult. If I’m misunderstanding things, please tell me in the comment section down below what’s happening. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here are three articles about this issue of Article 11 & 13.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/20/17482554/eu-european-union-copyright-filter-article-11-13-passes-juri-vote

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jun/20/eu-votes-for-copyright-law-that-would-make-internet-a-tool-for-control

https://www.eff.org/nl/deeplinks/2018/w06/eus-copyright-proposal-extremely-bad-news-everyone-even-especially-wikipedia

That’s all about my blog, now, I do have a few personal things to share in the next section of this article.

Personal life and stuff

So, the World Cup is happening. And I do have to admit, I’m a fan of watching those games. As a matter of fact, while I was writing this article I was also watching a game. Now, I think it’s quite clear for which team I’m mostly rooting for. It’s the Red Devils from Belgium, my home country.

While personally, I don’t see them actually winning the cup, I see them going to the semi-finals. I can’t wait to see their game versus England in a few days since that’s going to be one of the most enjoyable games to watch during this World Cup. For those who don’t know, a lot of the Red Devils actually play in the English Premier League.

That said, something else is going to eat up my time as well. Since I pass the final subject of my degree, I’m going to start my final project this summer. That means I have to make writing a huge paper and do some networking. Starting from November till December, I’ll have to go 3x a week to class while working full time. That’s going to be nuts. Oh, and during that time, I’ll have to write that paper and do all the research.

At the moment, I have put in a proposal for my final project. If it’s accepted, it’s going to be a dream of a project where I’m allowed to do various experiments to upgrade a network and expand it. Also, the mentor of that project is an amazing guy. He taught me a lot of the tricks in computer science I still use to this day. So, here is me hoping that my proposal gets accepted.

If I get a passing grade on that paper in December, I finished my graduate degree. So, apologies in advance if there is a “drought” of articles from now till December. My final project and my personal life are going to eat up most of my time. I might try to write up some backlog of articles where I can just change the date and hit the publish button, but no promises. That’s why I said earlier in the article that I can’t promise a 1-2 article/day period during this summer.

Now, there is something else I wanted to talk about. While all of this is happening, my own mental health is taking a nose dive. Due to, what I hope are obvious, privacy reasons I’m not going in-depth about it on this blog but I’m not doing well lately. There are days that I feel as an emotional wreck and there are days that I get easily pissed off. I’m working on it, but it’s heavy.

2018 has been an extremely rough year for me. There is a bit too much happening to keep up with. While you could argue that I could take a break from writing but it’s actually helping to keep me sane. The issue is the motivation, on certain days I don’t feel motivated to anything productive. So, please, don’t hate me if I delay some articles because of that reason.

If you have questions about my mental health, feel free to ask them to me in private chats. But, you don’t have to worry about me too much. I’m around me befriended bloggers who are there to aid me when things get rough and I’m also in a great network of (professional) people who are helping me to get better.

And that’s all I want to say publically for now about my mental health. I hope you understand I won’t go into details.

All in all, this year is going to be nuts for me. I’m thankful for all the support I got throughout the years and I can’t wait to talk about the games I have played recently. With the Tomb Raider project and my final project for college, I have quite a busy end of the year. But, 2019 will be a more relaxed year for me. At least, I hope.

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

First Impression: Iubes 2 (PC) ~ Death To All Cubes?

iubes 2Official website

For this game, there is a death counter on the website that keeps track of how many iubes were killed in action. What are iubes? Well, these are intelligent cubes fighting against other intelligent cubes. So, you will start in one house without any allies and you will have to fight for yourself in this interesting online strategy game. It’s a game where you can’t micromanage your party, but you have to macromanage it. And if you defeat other players, you can become the new king. Interested? Good, I’m too. So, let’s dive right into my first impressions after playing a few matches in Iubes 2. As usual, 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.

Survival of the cubes

Iubes 2 (1)So, this game doesn’t have a story to speak off. Well, if you can call the fact that there are 4 factions a story, then there is a story. But each faction has the same abilities compared to the others, so the color you choose only matters to which color you are fighting for.

Something I really like about this game is the UI. The humor put into the UI is really great. Especially the menu system. I really love the design. Also, I really love how there is a button to switch between windowed mode and full screen. This is a really neat feature.

There is one bug I have to mention, that might be fixed when I release this article but switching between monitors in the options menu crashed the game for me each and every time I tried. But, when I launched the game again, it displayed on the screen I had chosen.

The first thing I have to warn players about is the fact that the camera system is something you need to get used too. Since the world is spherical, the camera system is special. At first, it might be a bit disorienting. But don’t worry, you will get used to the camera system after messing with it for a bit in the tutorial.

The tutorial can be replayed whenever you want by going to the help menu and clicking the “tutorial” button. Also, the tutorial helps you get through a basic round of this game and explains everything in detail. But, it only has one opponent. So, you learn only the basics in this tutorial. The help feature isn’t far away if you need it.

RTS with a twist!

iubes 2 (2)At its core, Iubes 2 is a hybrid game between RTS, Strategy and an action game. The game plays like an RTS, but the benefit is that you don’t have to micromanage everything. Unlike games like Age Of Empires and Rise Of Nations, you don’t have to create a boatload of villagers to gather stone, food, wood… for you. The cubes are smart enough to do that for themselves.

This means you can focus on building the right buildings and preparing yourself for war in defeating the other players. While the gameplay is more focused on online play, there is also the ability to play this game offline.

I’m going to come clean and say that I haven’t played this game online yet. Since I’m not the best in online games and I enjoy playing my games more offline, to be honest. I did test out the online game for a bit and I have to say that I haven’t experienced any major issues. So, for this review, I’ll focus more on the offline side of things. If that’s fine with you.

After beating the tutorial, I played several rounds on the easy difficulty. I do have to say that after playing various rounds of other RTS games, this is something you need to get used too. If you enjoy RTS games and you want to play another RTS with some unique mechanics, look no further then Iubes 2.

The fact that I don’t have to micromanage is a godsend. This makes the game fast paced and fun. After I got used to the camera system and the gameplay, I was defeating the AI on easy without any care in the world. It’s true what they say in the Steam reviews and in the game itself. Matches between experienced players can last up to 25 minutes or less.

Visually round

Iubes 2 (3)So, the game is a very pretty game. I really like how the world is designed. The polygon graphics really pop due to the chosen color scheme. While all worlds are randomly generated, I really love the effect that you get when staring down the tube and seeing the hills and trees in the distance. It’s really impressive how optimized the game is too.

The game doesn’t require a lot of resources so it can be played on low-end devices. This gets a thumbs up from me.

Together with the amazing visual design comes an amazing soundtrack. For real, I wish I could buy this soundtrack. Sadly, that isn’t an option right now. I really love the techno-style soundtrack that this game has to go. If I was able too, I would love to add this to my day-to-day playlist actually.

The sound design is good. While I wish there were a bit more sound effects for when thunder would strike or your warriors would attack, I think that the sound effects that are already present in the game do their job pretty well.

So far, I have only been saying praises about the game. Are there any negatives about this game? Well, yes there are. The biggest complaint I have is, there is no save feature in the single-player mode. Yes, you can’t save a match and come back later. So, if your game crashes or automatic updates happen… tough luck, you will have to restart. I understand that this isn’t present since the games are pretty quick to finish, but an autosave from your latest games would be helpful to have the two example situations I talked about earlier.

A second complaint I have is that the tutorial doesn’t explain everything. Don’t get me wrong here, the tutorial is short and to the point, but only explains the usefulness of three buildings. I wish there were more tutorials to explain the other buildings. Or the tutorial could be expanded just a little bit longer to talk about what each building is used for. I feel that this is a missed opportunity. Like, the game has so many features but the tutorial only explains so little. On the other hand, I’m happy that the tutorial isn’t forced upon the players so you can explore and experiment with your heart’s content.

My 3rd complaint is something that can be fixed in a future update. A button to quickly go to your tower when you are either lost or you need to defend it.

And that is all my complaints really. I think that this game is pretty well developed. The game actually feels finished and polished up. I said it before, if you are a fan of RTS games, give this one a go. It’s RTS but with an interesting twist. If you are a fan of strategy and action games, this game is something for you. The game is currently 19€ on Steam. The game only works on Windows and MAC. Surprisingly, this game can run on Windows XP. Oh well, that’s just my nostalgic bone tingling.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to talk about for this game. 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!

Gaming Nostalgia: Where is the skip button?

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0.jpgWe all have these moments in games we don’t like to play. Even when you are playing a great game, sometimes it can throw some very irritating or just badly designed areas. In this article, I’m going to talk about a few things that I wish I could skip or use a glitch to skip the section. But sadly, most of the times, I have to do it in order to progress in the game. Do you dislike the same things or do you like them? Feel free to let me know in the comments. You could also comment on the content of the article and/or things that irritate you and I haven’t mentioned. Oh, a while ago, I wrote a rant about 10 things that frustrated me, and don’t worry! In this article, I won’t repeat what I said in there. 

Rope Jumping Puzzles

120px-TWW_Link_Rope.png

I love adventure games. I love exploring caves and finding treasures. That’s why the Tomb Raider and Zelda series are one of my most favorites series ever made.

But there is something that I wish that I could skip. And that are the jumps you need to make when swinging on a rope. In the Legend Of Zelda the Wind Waker, there is a section to get an important item you have to swing on some ropes. To make matters worse, it’s timed and if you fail, you need to restart the whole thing.

I seriously hate this section of the game. Since the ship also moves, so the ropes move too. This way I can’t always correctly judge the distance between the ropes. I was able to finish this section when I was lending this game from a friend after an hour of trying. Now, I’m at the same section in the Wind Waker HD and I’m currently trying for around a half hour.

But hey, the rope jumps in the old Tomb Raider games weren’t much better. I have heard some veteran Tomb Raider players complain about the pixel perfect rope swinging in the first five games. I have to agree from my own experience. Since the next rope isn’t always visible when you are swinging.

In the past, it was even worse. I wasn’t that good in jumping puzzles of any sort. But after I played games like Mirror’s Edge, I have improved quite a bit. But the rope swings still stay a problem. The weird thing is that when I’m playing a game like Indiana Jones and use the whip, I can swing just fine. In Tomb Raider Legend with the grappling hook, no problem. But dangle ropes in front of me and say I need to play Tarzan and swing from rope A to B… And I’ll be busy with that section for a while.

Jumps of faith & death trap.

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Ah, today I was stuck in a level in DooM II because I didn’t notice one jump of fate you had to do in order to progress in the level. It was in the Citadel level. But here is a fun story. I’m talking about the part where you need to get on a high spot in the citadel and jump over the border into the river, so you can go to the other side to a room that opens to a room with 5 teleporters. If you have played DooM II, I think you will know which part I’m talking about.

Well, I was able to glitch myself there. By running at the corner of the barrier and suddenly, I popped passed it and I was able to progress.

Delver is another game that does the same thing. In some cave levels, there is a certain level geometry where you need to do a jump in order to progress. Like DooM II, Delver doesn’t have a jump button, so you don’t think it’s possible in the first place.

But what annoys me the most are jumps of faith above a death trap. I don’t think I need to explain myself here.

I’m not finished talking about the death traps. In Delver, there are traps like a transporter and a poison trap. But you can’t see the difference between both. While this suits the game better, since it’s a roguelike dungeon crawler. But a small hint on the tile would be nice.

But in some games, like in Star Tropics on the NES, there are secrets that lead to instant death. I made me shut off the game twice since I lost a lot of progress. Since the game sets you back at the start of the area you were at.

Going back to DooM II, a nice example was at the same level I was talking about earlier. There is a barrier that goes down and you need to run passed it. But, when you mistime your run, you get stuck underneath it. Without a way to escape. Man, every time it killed me, I got more and more annoyed.

Wrapping up

Well, I think I’m going to wrap up this article right here. I was planning to talk about more annoying things in games, but I decided to keep those for a sequel to this article. It felt better to talk a bit more in-depth on why I get annoyed at those things.

Also, I have already talked about my biggest frustrations with the gaming market in the past. I have linked to that article at the start of this article.

Anyways, thank you for reading this article and I hope you like it as much as I liked writing this article. I’m looking forward to the comments on this article since I find it very interesting to talk about what is frustrating in games so we can suggest improvements for future games.

I hope to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then… Have a great rest of your day! Game on and take care.

From Manga to Video Game: Btooom!

Btooom! cover Manga: Btooom!
Publisher: Yen Press
Mangaka: Junya Inoue
Genre: Action, Science fiction, Romance, Psychological

Concept Game: Btooom!
Genre: Third person action

This articles is being posted here for all my fellow cats, 14 hours before it appears anywhere else. I hope it is an enjoyable read. 
Many of us have played call of duty in the past and those that have not have certainly seen gameplay or heard something about this massive success in the FPS genre; it’s like Final Fantasy to the RPG genre and Btooom! to the TPA genre….. oh wait, there is no Btooom! Game, but what if there was?

What if the manga was adapted into a third person shooter style game for modern PC and consoles. Could you imagine the awesome fun it would be to play such a game? By this point if you have no idea of what I am talking about then don’t worry I will explain briefly before I delve into the meat of this article.

OK so btooom! Is a manga based on a fictional game that can easily be a game in real life. The story is about this boy that is considered a Net (basically a hardcore online gamer). He is despised by his mother who has taken a husband that the boy does not seem to be too keen on. The mother then gets information about a game, ironically a real game based on the exact game her son plays. This game is played by real people with stakes that involve life and death. The company claims to be taking trouble makers out of regular society and so the wench sends her only son with this company (yes I called her a wench, what kind of mother does what she does). He is taken without his knowledge or consent to a remote island populated by giant lizards and other individuals of a similar faith as him.

They were all chosen by a person close to them that despised them enough to submit their name to be sent to the island. The main theme of the manga is kill or be killed. To leave the island one has to collect 7 gems, 6 if you don’t count the one embedded in the individual’s hand. The hard part of this arrangement is that the only way to acquire these gems is to kill people and take it from their corpse. The main way in which they battle is via the use of various bombs, hence the name btooom! The bombs are of different types and each type has a different ability. There is the standard one that just explodes, then the ones that spread a deadly acid cloud, the ones that home in on their target and numerous others.

The Island you go to to die.
The Island you go to to die.

Now that we are all caught up on the plot we can discuss what it would be like if this manga was made into a video game. Now as the game is already a third person shooter style affair in the manga then I say it should stay close to the source material in that aspect. The style I have in mind is similar to that of an uncharted 3 multiplayer style of game play. I think it would benefit from no HUD to add to the immersion.

The only way the player would be able to tell what Bim (the Bombs) they have active. They would be to look at their character whose stance will change depending on the one he/ she has active. For example the homing Bim in the manga is activated by holding it in front of the user’s eye and locking it on to a target. So for one like that the character stance would switch to one that is holds the Bim up in front of them. This I think will add a certain depth to the game that will allow vets to show their class by memorizing the different stances as well as being able to switch effortlessly between them even while in motion. In btooom the characters soon notice that they have to ability to detect moving targets by using the gems in their hands and putting out a sort of sonar style of pulse.

This is a great feature for such a game as without a HUD it will not have a map. The player will have to use their wits while using this system as by using it will give out that player’s location even if they are not moving. It will also add that trill of the stalk where some players can stay hidden not moving with a homing Bim only to pounce on passers-by. The Uncharted style gameplay would allow for a very limited almost accidental from of movement and verticality. This is very important to keeping the authenticity to the manga. Why I say this is because remember these are regular folks that are placed into a situation that they themselves are not familiar with, as such the character should handle in a sort of floaty as the match starts but as they kill more of their fellow men the controls will become tighter, deliberate.

The better players will use this system to their advantage, but this does not mean that by proper planning and execution that a new player can’t take them down. The system should be fair enough to reward all players but still punish weaknesses. As manga has access to an entire island I think the map should be just that. It can be split up into sections for some modes and open for the purist. The island in the manga has creatures on it most notable are the giant poisonous lizards. These creatures will be perfect for a multiplayer environment. They will add a certain degree of uncertainty and in some ways prevent the average camper from being just that, a camper.

Btooom has is a bit of like a survival story and because of that the characters have to use their surroundings to help them survive the hash island life they have been forced to live. In a game of the same nature it would be interest to add mechanics like a simple crafting system that can allow players to set traps as well as protect themselves. The system should be simple like that of minecraft or Dayz. In a multiplayer game the gamer does not have time to use a deep system when around the corner could be a homing or acid Bim.

which Bim would you choose ?
which Bim would you choose ?

The games objective should be the same as the manga’s. What this means for the player is that if they can collect 7 gems they can call in a chopper to get them off the island scoring them one point towards an upgrade or character customization items. IF they work as a team and acquire 14 or more they would reap better rewards. A player can also solo play it and kill everyone if he can and take all the bim for himself earning him more rewards along a certain tree. I think all the rewards should be on trees that reward players depending on play style. So a team oriented player would get different rewards from the solo act and so on.

Survive no matter what.

I already described a few of the games mechanics I have in mind above so I’ll focus on just a few others I think would help make a proper adaptation of the manga. Swimming is one I think the game should have. It will allow the player to use the water to stalk other players or use it as a way to escape an attack like an acid Bim attack. In the manga the company does these drop offs of supplies via parachute but the quantity is always limited.

This forces the inhabitants of the island to fight for these supplies if they want to survive. In the game it can be similar to call of duty drops but they will be random and dropped in unoccupied locations on the map near players. This I believe will result in the players playing in a similar way as the characters in the manga do. Some may get to the drop first and leave it in the open as a trap to kill other players, while others may take out anyone that they meet as they approach it then take it for themselves. The outcomes are numerous and I’ll be interested in seeing how the players play the game (if it were really made).

So far I have described an online multiplayer style game and ignored a solo experience due to the fact that a game like this would benefit more from multiplayer and less from a solo experience. As someone that prefers a solo experience I more so than most would enjoy an experience I can enjoy by myself without the competitiveness of other players spoiling my story experience. If the game I have in mind were to have what my kind prefer then it would have to be a fully customizable character dropped into the world of the manga.

He/ She would have a plot line chosen by the player e.g. (A thirteen year old bully from a broken home that beats up and robs his fellow students). With a fully fleshed out back story the character is put into the plot of the manga along with the past and current characters. The player is now allowed to explore the island and choose how he wishes to tackle his/ her survival. They can choose to partner with other characters from the manga or kill them. The game play I invasion as a Dayz meets Farcry 3 type of game play or even one like fallout 3.

This is my proposal for a Btooom! The Game. What is yours?

NekoJonez: Hiroshi Yamauchi, why?

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Every self respected Nintendo fan… No, not good. On the 19th of September a big drama happened at Nintendo HQ. Wait, no! That’s not good either. -Sighs- Sorry, I am just not feeling all happy and good right now. I wasn’t planning on doing any content right now. Today is a day we remember somebody who left us yesterday. Hiroshi Yamuchi lost his final continue. He left us at the age of 85. For the people who think: “Why is there so much fuzz about this guy?” Let me enlighten you with some knowledge. This man is a revolution. He helped Nintendo save the gaming market with the big game crash in 1975. He helped Mario and Zelda get popular and house hold names. This great God in the game industry died of pneumonia. Which is an infection of the lungs for those who don’t know. He was in charge of the company from 1949 until 2002. Yesterday, he served his last day here on earth.

Goodbye

I changed my mind today. I decided to write an article to support the family and friends of Hiroshi. Also, to inform all Nintendo fans of this sad event. I admit that I didn’t sleep well past night. This man is a God in my eyes. He helped making various amazing games and he made the company I love big.

Image this. He made of a card trading company, a world leading video game developer. He made many revolutions, or at least took part in many of them. If we would talk about this man in depth, then we would be here for years. His Wikipedia entry is long enough to prove that.

I call upon all Nintendo fans to join in the mourning of Nintendo this weekend. His funeral is this Sunday according to an article I read on BBC.

I can assure you that writing this article is a difficult one. My mind is everywhere. I want to write something amazing to honor this guy but I can’t create good idea’s. I even got teary eyes while writing this.

Thank you.

I’ll just go with this then. This might be a short article, I just want to say to him, thanks. For all the work you have done. For everything. You showed the way how a small company can become big!

You deserve a spot among the biggest of biggest. You will be missed, that’s for sure. Your children and your wife, your family and friends. Your company and fans. We all will light a candle to remember you.

Thank you Hiroshi Yamauchi.