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Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

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

My own views on game difficulty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How others think about difficulty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing off

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

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

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Review: Atelier Rorona -The Alchemist of Arland- DX (Switch) ~ Crafting The Adventure With Alchemy.

atelier-rorona-featureWikipedia page

On my top 10 games list of 2018, I talked about Atelier Rorona. I talked about how this game got me interested in the Atelier series. Now, it’s time to give my full opinion on the game. Why did I place this game on my top ten list and why wasn’t it higher on the list? I think it’s time to talk about crafting and exploring. Adventuring and RPG’ing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Get of your lazy bum

atelier rorona screen 1The story of this game has a simple premise. You play as Rorona, a young girl who is an apprentice at a local alchemy shop in the Arland Kingdom. Her master Astrid is so lazy that business isn’t going well at all. In a matter of fact, she didn’t get of her lazy bum for so long, the kingdom is considering to close down the shop. Rorona doesn’t want this to happen so she takes on the challenges provided by the kingdom. She gets a deadline of three years. During these three years she has to prove that she can run the alchemy shop and make profit. If she fails one of these challenges, the shop will be closed without any further question.

On the surface, the story of this game isn’t anything special. It’s one that has been done various times before. Yet, the story actually changes a lot on your actions. It depends on who you take with you on your journey, how good you craft your items, how you interact with the characters and how you run your alchemy shop. The one that lazy Astrid sort of gave to you because she wanted more sleep but didn’t want the shop to be closed.

This makes the story quite a lot of fun to play through. Because each and every playthrough is going to be different, you will have a different story. This game has various endings that all depend on how good you did during your missions provided by the kingdom. When I had beaten the game for the first time, I got a very generic ending that didn’t give the closure I felt that the story deserved. Because of that, I feel motivated to replay this game with so I can get an even better ending.

The writing of this game makes replaying this game even more enjoyable. While I was playing this game, I posted a short clip on my Twitter showing off the voice acting. The game has a lot of funny and charming moments. I actually fell in love with the characters of this game. Now, depending on how good you play this game, the characters you interact with get more character development.

Now, during my playthrough the story was quite enjoyable. While it didn’t have a lot of moments where I sat on the edge of my seat, it was quite relaxing. Maybe the other endings have more thrilling moments, but over all I enjoyed the story quite a lot. The writing, the pacing and the voice acting make for an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see how the game plays out on my next playthrough.

With that said, how do you actually go about saving the shop? For that, Rorona needs to gather ingredients from various locations and craft various items. Depending on the quality of the items, you get better items. Now, I do have one thing I felt mixed about in terms of the gameplay.

Running that shop

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-01-ps4-us-04dec2018

Yes, this is a screenshot from the PS3 version, but the Switch version looks the same apart from the different buttons.

While the story pacing is quite good, the pacing of the game is … let’s just say, strange. Because the game gives of a relaxing and casual vibe, the game can feel extremely slow. But this is very misleading. Because you have a strict time limit; you shouldn’t waste time at all. You have to play every move extremely carefully. The more mistakes you make, the worse your ending gets. The depth in this game is crazy. You do get an assistant in the middle point of the game. This mechanic saved me various times. You can assign this assistant to go and explore for you or craft items for you.

Be warned, the tutorials of this game only scratch the surface of the mechanics of this game. Something I recommend is that you use the save system to your advantage. I had various saves at various points. So, I can go back when I felt I was able to finish the missions with better results.

Talking about the save system, the fact that this game got ported from a PlayStation system really shows in the UI. If you have played a game on a PlayStation you will recognize the typical save and load UI easily. The only thing that annoys me is that I’m unable to name my saves. This would have helped quite a lot.

So, you have to explore, fight monster and craft items. This sounds like your typical RPG fair. You do have side quests that can help you to get a better relationship with a certain character. Some of these side quests have the potential to improve the reputation of the shop which also has a big influence on the ending of the story.

All in all, the biggest challenge of this game is time management. Use your time wisely and try to waste as few days as you can. I always tried to finish the assignment of the kingdom as fast as I could. When I finished that, I used the remaining days to explore new area’s and improve my relationship with the other characters.

The gameplay immersed me quite a lot. I really felt like a shop owner trying to find the best strategy to get my shop up and running and to try to get as many customers as I can. While the game isn’t too difficult to get the most basic ending, the challenge for this game hides in trying to get the best endings.

A normal playthrough of this game will take you somewhere around 20 hours. But, if you want to see all the endings, you will get a lot more out of this game. On howlongtobeat.com, there are reports of players taking 60 to 100 hours to fully complete this game. Now, this is for the PlayStation 3 version. On the time of writing this review, the website has no listing for the Nintendo Switch version.

Now, the meat of this game is in exploration and the crafting. First of all, let’s go a bit more in-depth about the exploration. During your exploration you can take two allies with you. Certain allies require a certain price to hire. This price needs to be paid up front. So, make sure you have enough gold in the bank to hire them.

During the exploration you can go to various locations. Each location has several area’s you can explore that provide different items. These items aren’t randomized, so if you find herbs in a certain area, you will be able to find those herbs every time there.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have an inventory limit. If you reach that limit, you have to throw out items. Also, you need to keep in mind that certain items can lose their freshness. For example, if you collect berries and don’t put them in your storage in the chest in the shop, the quality will drop.

During your exploration, you can see certain spots where items can be gathered. In the meantime, you see the enemies roaming around. When you interact with them, you can start a fight with them. The battles are turn-based. It’s the system you see in a million other RPG’s. But there are a few differences.

One difference is that only an alchemist can use items. So, only Rorona can use healing items during the battle. Another difference is that you can use certain characters to defend you and make combo attacks. In each battle, a meter builds up. When that meter is full, you can use the shoulder buttons to defend Rorona. A similar mechanic counts for the combo attacks.

One thing you need to keep in mind during the exploration is that moving between locations and area’s takes valuable time. So, make sure you know which items you need and where you can find them and plan accordingly. Otherwise you might get into trouble and you aren’t able to craft certain items.

In addition to that, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of MP. MP is also used to craft items. And this brings me on the second part of the gameplay I want to focus on, the crafting. This is something I didn’t always paid attention too. Each item can have certain properties that make a huge difference during crafting. Each item has also a quality level that changes the outcome quite a lot as well.

Something I found extremely tricky was looking for high quality items. For some reason, I always found mid tear or low tier quality items. I’m quite sure that this was one of the reasons that resulted in me having a mediocre ending. Now that I know that, I know what I should look for in a second playthrough.

Anyways, the crafting system itself is a bit basic. You can select various ingredients to craft an item. If you don’t have a certain sub ingredient that is craftable, you get forwarded to the craft menu of that item. One thing that I found really annoying was that it wasn’t always clear which ingredients were missing. For example, the icon of the missing ingredient was a flame. But I had a few ores that looked extremely similar. Yet that wasn’t the ingredient I needed. It turns out I needed oil.

Something I really liked was that in the crafting list, you were able to sort ingredients in terms of quality or rarity. Also, you had various symbols that gave information if you were or weren’t able to craft a certain item. For example, a triangle means that you are able to craft the item but you have to craft a sub item first.

One thing that I would like to mention is that this game can be repetitive. It’s quite easy to fall in a loop for every assignment or mission. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. And repeat. Each assignment has a different theme like preparing for a festival or helping to craft medicine.

I didn’t mind too much, but I feel that a bit more variation in the gameplay would do the game some good. For example, a bit more assignments where you needed to defeat a certain number of monsters or collect a certain amount of ingredients would do the trick.

Arland is saved

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-03-ps4-us-04dec2018Let’s talk about visuals. This game looks quite nice in my opinion. While the game could have benefited from a free camera, I actually didn’t mind too much since the camera allowed me to watch the nice city and fun dungeons in great detail. Some enemies suffer from the recolor syndrome, like the slime enemies. There are at least 3 variants and only the color has been changed. I wish those games added a few extra details. Oh well. At least I never had slowdowns during gameplay and I was able to play the game at a decent frame rate.

In terms of animation, this game is good. While the cut scenes would have benefited from some more character animation instead of gorgeous looking 2D artwork. Now, if the game came out in a previous generation, I would excuse this…. oh, wait… that’s right, this game is a port of a PS3 game. Then again, the PS3 is capable of so much more. Oh well.

Now something that bugged me a bit is the rather awkward jumping animation. I think it’s missing a few frames near the end where Rorona’s feet almost snap into place. It also looks strange when you adjust your jump in midair. Since Rorona sort of floats awkwardly. It’s hard to put into words but while the jump works great, it feels off and looks a bit off.

Jumping in itself is easy to do and control. You just press the jump button and voila. I don’t have any complaints about the controls. I really like how there is a dedicated button to cycle through Rorona’s animations. The game controls great and I didn’t have need to spend time getting used to them. The UI explains it so well, I got the hang of it right away. One minor nitpick is that the prompt for running is a tad confusing. When the UI shows a button for “running ON” and you press that button, Rorona actually starts walking. So, that promt in the UI actually shows the status if you are running or not.

Now, the UI has some amazing things I really liked. Like how easy it is to sort items or the great and easy to use crafting system. But I have a few complaints. First of all, I wish I was able to see which ingredients where at a certain location before I actually travelled there. I would have been able to save so many days…

Secondly, while I totally understand why the developers did this; I wish I was able to see how many days it would take to go to a newly discovered gathering area. The reason why they don’t tell you this is most likely for immersions reasons.

And my final and third complaint is when you buy armor, you can’t see if it would increase somebody’s stats or not. This was quite annoying, especially when the armor shop rarely has new items because the game really wants that you craft it yourself.

The music and sound effects for this game are good. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the story quite well. It’s relaxing and rather melodic. It helps to get immersed into the game. I even added the soundtrack to my playlist for when I want to relax. Now, the sound effects are great but I wish there were a bit more of them. For the whole crafting system, the use the same effects and I would love some different ones for food or bombs. Also, one for days passing while the clock ticked over would be the cherry on the cake.

Oh, and here is something nice, you can totally change the whole soundtrack. Yes, while interacting with the book in the atelier, you can change each and every track to another track. You can choose between a pretty long list of other games in the series. Now, this is an amazing feature but it could have used some additional features. Like a reset to default option and one where you easily see which song you have selected since in that menu there is a lot of unused screen space. And the biggest missing feature is in my opinion a preview of what song is currently playing. Oh dear, they were so close.

In that same menu, you can access the different costumes for Rorona. As far as I know these are only cosmetic. You can do save file management and decorate the atelier to a certain degree. You can also access the options menu where you can adjust the sound mix to your liking. In here, you can also change the language of the voice acting to Japanese or English. So, if you want Rorona to greet you in Japanese in the main menu, you can do that.

After you have finished the game, there is a postgame chapter. I won’t spoil what the chapter is about but it adds some additional story. But after this post game, there is no free roaming. So, you can’t experiment with the game… This is a real missed opportunity since I would have loved to try and experiment with the game to learn and have a better run next time. Yet, on the other hand, I totally understand why they did this. Because the game has so many different endings in which different characters aren’t present, it would have been a hell to program.

Interestingly, during me writing this review and posting it; the game got a small update. I have no clue what has been added, but I wanted to mention it, just in case something in my review doesn’t make sense anymore.

With that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave some things out for you as a surprise if you decide to play this game. But, it’s time for the conclusion of this review and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The jump animation looks awkward.
  • The game can be repetitive.
  • There is no free play in the post content.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story, writing and voice acting.

+ Amazing charm.

+ Great UI.

+ High replay value due to the different endings.

+ Relaxing soundtrack and you can change it to your liking!

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I don’t know exactly how this game compares to other games in the Atelier series. Since this game is the first game in the series I have played. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time with this game quite a lot. The game is on the surface a relaxing game with a lot of charm. But, don’t get fooled, this game can become quite hectic in a good way.

The game is quite enjoyable to play but difficult to master. You really need to plan every single move to make sure to you get yourself in a difficult situation.

This game is perfect for everybody who is looking for an RPG with a crafting system or somebody who is looking for a shop simulator. While I can totally understand why some people won’t enjoy this game too much, it did click with me.

But the game is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite good but it has some flaws that hinder the gameplay in my opinion. Like the strict deadlines and the repetitive nature of the game.

Personally, I recommend that you give this game a try. If only there was a demo of this game you could try out and judge for yourself if this game is for you are not. I bought this game because the screenshots and descriptions looked interesting on the Nintendo eShop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, I can’t wait to play the other games in this trilogy to see if they improved the mechanics in the other games. Maybe they crafted an even better adventure while they kept everything that worked quite well in this game.

Do keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is a bad game. It’s a good game with some flaws. It’s up to you to decide if these flaws would hinder your enjoyment of the game or not. Since this game has a lot of depth so you will be able to have a lot of fun with this game.

With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in a different article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 70/100

LaterLevels’ QOTM – January 2019 – The Ultimate Game: Themes

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For a couple of years now, LaterLevels is organizing a question of the month. In 2017, you were able to send in a small section to be featured in the article. You were limited to the amount of characters you had for a tweet. In 2018, every month a writer got a challenge to write an article centered around a question asked by LaterLevels. This year, LaterLevels is going “to develop” the best and/or ultimate game. In each month, another part of the game will be created. The idea is that other bloggers write up an article with their thoughts and ideas on that section and submit it to the post of that month. At the end of the month, the best is chosen by the already existing development team and will be invited to join the secret Discord to judge the entries in the following months. If you want to read more about the rules in depth, you can read the post of LaterLevels here. Now that I have explained all that, it’s time for my entry. In January, the setting and theme will be decided without deciding the story and such. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the question in the comment section down below.

The challenge and my background

yoyo_logo_512Now, I don’t want to brag but I have various ideas to make a very interesting game. In the past, I actually created some arcade clones with YoYo Game Maker. I’m not going to republish them since I lost the source files and I want to change so much for them to get republished.

alleyway_boxartBut, here is the thing. When I was developing a game, I always started with the mechanics and gameplay. For example, when I wanted to create a Break-Out clone, I actually started out with recreating the Gameboy game Alleyway. Now, I felt myself too limited in level design, so I started to look further. Then, I found an asset pack with different blocks, a ball and various other sprites with a sea theme. So, I totally reskinned the game and I made up a story about a submarine stuck in a big magical coral reef trying to find its way out.

warioware-diy-top-625x352Another example is when I wanted to remake those simple flash and phone games that you need to tap a ball or an object to keep it from the ground. When I started to make that game, I got some small ideas for other mini-games with the sprites in that asset pack and I started to create a sort of WarioWare inspired game.

Now, you might have noticed that I always talk about an asset pack. This is a pack where various sprites, sound effects, music, backgrounds… are provided to game developers. In almost all of my games I created, I used asset packs. I can barely draw a decent stick figure let alone design various level elements. Also, when I created those games; I was 12 years old. So, I didn’t know how copyright and licensing worked. That’s another reason why I’m not going to republish the games.

Anyways, let’s end this story time about my history here and let’s get back to answer LaterLevel’s question. The reason why I’m talking about my hobbyist game development past is the fact I mentioned earlier. I mainly focused on interesting and unique gameplay. The setting and themes would come later. While that is not the best approach, but it was the approach my young teenage mind took. And because LaterLevels didn’t want too many story details, the challenge got even harder.

81i7ndliszl._sx385_I also messed around in RPG Maker. And I always had one or two chapters of the story written before I started to create the world and setting the characters lived in. I had a general idea of the world but when I write, I love to let the readers create the world for themselves instead of possibly boring them with the millionth description of how a fantasy castle town looked like. In addition to that, the fact that I don’t describe a scene gives me liberty to use the setting to my advantage. That way I can bend the world to the story and my needs. But it makes continuity much more challenging.

So, the ultimate video game. What could be a setting and/or a theme of the game? Well, I have a few suggestions without giving too much plot details. Let’s take a look at that.

Themes and settings

First of all, when you are talking about the best game, I think that the theme should be one of variety. A power fantasy in another world would be extremely easy and generic. Most RPG’s use a silent character you can name yourself or has the most generic dialogue that can be used for each RPG main character. To be honest, this is a generalization. There are exceptions of course.

91fbW6yu4TL.jpgA perfect video game needs to grab you and pull you into the story, world and setting. When I was brainstorming for ideas I noticed that most of my favorite story driven games take place in one location. For example, in Corpse Party, you explore one haunted school and the associated buildings. In Another Code: R, you explore the vacation resort where your father works. And as a final example, in the first two Bioshock games you explore Rapture.

swordartonlineSuddenly, various things started to click in my mind. I got my eureka moment. I got it when I remembered the story of Sword Art Online. In that series, people are trapped in an online VR-game. In order to escape, they have to beat the game. The catch is, when they die in the game, they die in real life. In that series, the game takes place in a huge fantasy open world with various dungeons and quests.

Now, what if we take the idea of Sword Art Online and expand it for the best game, but with a huge twist? First of all, we can decide if we create the game in VR or not later. My suggestion is that the best video game takes place in a sort of fantasy open world with castles and towns that provide a lot of quests and things to do.

no game no ligeThe twist is that everything in the world happens with games. Think of the mechanics of the No Game No Life series, where every dispute is settled with a bet who wins a game of for example chess, rock/paper/scissors, poker or even more extreme examples. Now, it would an interesting idea if this idea is implemented into a real game we can play.

Back to the story of Sword Art Online, in order for those who are trapped to escape they have to beat all bosses in a huge tower. Now, what if each floor in this tower is replaced with a challenge in another genre and that you have to beat different challenges in that genre before you can progress.

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Think about the overall story of Retro Game Challenge. In that game, you get sent back to the past and in order for you to return, you have to beat various challenges in retro games. These challenges range from beaten the first three levels of a top down shooter to performing some unique tricks in a sports game.

So, the setting would be a great fantasy open world with one central tower the players have to beat in order to climb the leader boards. On each floor, another mini game or challenge is provided. To avoid people getting frustrated at being stuck on one floor, I think it would be wise to give the player two or three options on the floor. For example, a fighting game challenge, an RPG challenge or a rhythm game challenge.

51vk2fckjhlMaybe it’s an interesting idea to also have separate dimensions where players specialize in a certain genre or style of gameplay. Compare it a bit to the main characters in Kingdom Hearts traveling between various Disney stories to solve issues there.

The theme of the game can be either competition or teamwork. Various guilds can possibly form to aid players to easily beat the certain genres. On the other hand, I totally see certain players compete with each other to be the best player in a certain genre.

Being one of the best players in a certain genre can give advantages in the game. In terms of balance, each genre should have a “contrast genre”. That way we avoid players getting overpowered because they mastered too many genres. For example, the players who master a fast paced genre like rhythm games shouldn’t be able to easily level up their stats in a more slower based genre like grand strategy.

Do you see it now? Just trying to find a setting and or a theme for a game is tricky for me. Like I said earlier, I don’t create worlds too often and I leave them as vague as I can so I can bend them to the will of the gameplay and story. As soon as I got a certain idea, I start thinking about how the world actually works and how the world is balanced. And then we get eerily close to game design and how the game plays.

When I cut out all my gameplay & story suggestions, my idea for the ultimate game’s setting and theme is this. A big open world game with various challenges like dungeons and (side)quests, possibly with different universes. In the center of it all, is a huge tower that serves as a leader board for the solo and or clans that play the game.

Closing statement

And with that, I think it’s a good idea to end this article here. Otherwise I might restart giving my ideas and suggestions on how the game will play. Now, if you want to know if my idea has won or not, you should follow OverThinkerY, since on 31st January 2019, they will reveal the winner on his blog.

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If you want to join in on this challenge, don’t wait. Check out LaterLevels blog for the February challenge.

With that said, I want to thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed 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.

NekoJonez’s October 2018 Update

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Dear lord, is it already October? This year has been flying by and it was extremely nuts. So, I think it’s time to update you guys and girls on what’s going on in my life and what you can expect for the future of my blog. This is quite a lot to talk about so, here we go. Also, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below. 

Personal life stuff

In a previous update, I talked about a few things. Let’s first start with my final project. That’s currently in full swing. Researching and writing this out takes up a lot of my time. For those who don’t know, I’m a college student and I’m doing Computer Science. I have finished all my subjects and now I have my final project to write. I’m taking the networking classes. My final project is upgrading and monitoring a school network. It’s quite a challenge and I’m learning quite a lot.

Because of that, I don’t always have the time to play new games to write about on my blog. In addition to that, I sometimes feel burned out on writing and then writing something for my blog is just a bit too much. So, if I skip a week, I’ll always announce it on my Twitter.

Besides my final project, my theater group started in the new season. Currently I’m working on some things for our open stage next week. It will be quite a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see it when it all comes together. But that has been eating my free time as well.

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On top of that, my family and I are raising two adorable little fluff balls. Since Sparta died in July of 2018, I really missed having a cat around to hold me company. In August of this year, we adopted these two little kittens. They are brother and sister. The left gray one has been named by my sister and this lady is called Dobby. The right brown one has been named by me. I named this man Troy. His name has been chosen as a reference to Sparta. Our bonds are slowly but surely forming. Currently, they have grown enough to learn to explore outside. That’s fun. It really melts my heart when Troy starting to meow when he doesn’t see me for a few minutes when we are outside. They rarely sit still, so I won’t be flooding my Twitter with pictures of them, but I’ll try.

So, it’s quite clear by now that I’m quite busy. I’m still working full time as well. In my last update I also talked about my bad mental health. Currently, the situation hasn’t improved a lot. But, huge changes are happening. Because of privacy reasons, I won’t be talking about them in public.

Before I start talking about the blog related things, I want to talk about the games I’m playing. Currently, I’m playing a lot of games I have reviewed in the past. Games like The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild, Europa Universalis IV, A Hat in Time amongst a slew of others. I mostly want to wrap up those games so I can cross a few games of my backlog list. But, I’m still playing some other games want to review or talk about.

Blog stuff

So, something strange is going on with my blog. For some reason, my views are all over the place. While I have days that my blog is doing very good, I have also days that I barely get any visitors over.

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That said, if anyone can explain me why my views are so low, that would be welcome. Any feedback on my work is welcome. Also, if you ever have a suggestion for a review or a topic you want me to talk about, feel free to contact me on my Twitter or contact page.

A project I have currently running on my blog is the Tomb Raider project. Currently, we are extremely close in finishing it. I have to finish two articles, which I might do next week. I’m aiming to release it somewhere this year. I’ll update you guys on the release date on my Twitter.

In almost every update I talk about wanted to update my blog with new categories and updating older articles (Mostly removing typo’s, fixing broken links and images). For now, I won’t be doing that. I’ll mostly be focusing on the current running projects. The whole restructuring and updating of my blog will be for 2019.

What else can you expect from me in 2018? Besides the Tomb Raider project I don’t have any crazy plans. I have a few games I still want to talk about on my blog before the year ends. There are a few Switch, PC, PSP and PS2 games I still want to review.

I do have some plans for 2019. I have a few ideas for collaborations and other projects. But, I’ll only be able to work on them when the new year starts. Simply, because I don’t have the time for them now.

And that’s everything I wanted to talk about for now. This article has been a summary of my tweets in the past few months, so, if you want to know these things hot from the press; you should follow me on Twitter.

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.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Super Mario Odyssey isn’t a perfect game.

Super_Mario_OdysseyOfficial website

I wanted to write a review about this game for quite a while. I have finished this game over a month ago and I haven’t written a first impression or a review about this game. I want to fix that today. But, instead of writing a review I wanted to do something special. While the game got praise from other bloggers left and right, I want to point out some of the flaws and issues I have with the game. Disclaimer, I don’t think this is a bad game but I want to explain my reasoning for why I wouldn’t give this game a 100/100. So, let’s get critical and look at this game again. As per usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts on the game and/or the game. 

Mini-review

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So, what do I actually think about this game? While it’s a very unique and enjoyable game, I found the game quite repetitive.

The music and sound design were amazing but I sometimes had trouble with the controls and more advanced moves.

The visuals are amazing and I loved running around in all the different kingdoms but I found the story lacking and I expected a lot more from the hype and praise it got.

If I would have to give my score for this game it would be an 80/100. Since in my eyes, the game could have done so much more and it left me disappointed in some areas of the game.

This game has a lot to love. Like I said, the visuals, the music, the concept… they are all amazing. The attention to detail is amazing. Cappy is one of the most helpful companions I have seen in a while. Yet, I felt like I enjoyed this game less then the other 3D platformers I played like A Hat In Time. So yeah, personally I felt that there was something lacking. Something that kept me from fully enjoying the game and that thought exercise resulted in this article.

Breath of the Wild did it better

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The story has one big issue and that’s the open world and the overkill of moons you can collect. Now, not too long before the release of this game, Nintendo released The Legend Of Zelda – Breath of the Wild. In this game, you were also able to run around freely and gather the things you need to finish the game.

Now, there is a big difference in how the story is handled in the Zelda games and in the Mario games. The big difference is in how the ending is handled. And if you don’t want either of these games spoiled, just start reading when the text is black again. If you don’t mind the spoilers, just highlight the next part in order for you to read it.

So, in each kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey, there is a story quest you can complete to easily get enough moons to advance to the next kingdom. But, this is an open world game so you can skip this story quest by collecting other moons. Fair enough. You can do the same thing in the Zelda game. You don’t have to defeat the divine beasts in order for you to go to the final boss. 

Now, here is the difference between the two games. If you don’t defeat the Divine Beasts in Breath of the Wild, you will have a harder time before you go and do the battle with Ganon. Since you will need to defeat them before you can fight with Ganon. The more Divine Beasts you beat, the easier you make it for yourself during the final battle. Since they bring down Ganon’s health to half if you have beaten all 4 Divine Beasts. This is not only good story writing, it’s also an amazing reward for the player. You helped free the souls from their prisons and they came back one last time to help the hero in his quest to defeat evil. 

In Super Mario Odyssey, this doesn’t matter at all. I haven’t finished the story quest in three kingdoms and it doesn’t have any difference on the ending scenes or on the final battle at all. So, why should I bother saving or helping people in a certain kingdom? When I entered a kingdom, I felt like I was dropped in a zone and if I found enough goodies I was allowed to go to the next zone. 

Another thing Breath of the Wild did better then Super Mario Odyssey are the Korok Seeds vs Moons. Now, you get both items as rewards for solving puzzles or doing small challenges in the world.  At some moments I felt like Super Mario Odyssey was the whole Korok Seed quest with a Mario skin. Now, I felt rewarded when I found a Korok Seed. Even when I had beaten the game. It gave me another chance to upgrade my bag so I was able to carry more equipment in the game and experiment more.

Now, besides needing them to continue in the main story, there are no additional rewards for collecting moons. Besides unlocking one more world/level, and maybe two small completion bonus things at the end of the game, I didn’t feel any incentive to collect these moons. I felt like I was on a fetch quest for them just because it’s a video game.

The final thing that Breath of the Wild did better is the towers and map mechanics. Yes, the towers. I loved climbing towers in Breath of the Wild and looking over the whole zone trying to find interesting areas to visit. I felt a lack of that in Super Mario Odyssey. Also, the mechanic where you could pin beams of light on the map as markers for you to visit later… man, that would have been great in Super Mario Odyssey as well.

And it would fit the visual theming of the game extremely well. The map of each kingdom is a travel brochure of the kingdom. And let’s be honest, how many times you wrote on the map of a travel brochure to mark certain areas you still want to visit.

And a final and possibly a minor thing is that Breath of the Wild felt more interconnected. The best way to explain here is, ask yourself this. You can walk over from region to region in Breath of the Wild easily. You need to fly over from kingdom to kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. And while it’s on a planet, you are able to fall into a void if you reach the edge of a kingdom.

A Hat In Time did it better

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Now, I’m certain that people will disagree with me on this but I felt that the controls of A Hat In Time felt better than Super Mario Odyssey.

It’s no secret that I’m not the best in platforming games. So, the running up walls move in A Hat In Time was a godsend to me.

But, the issue is that nowadays, I miss various jumps because I try to rely on that mechanic. It gets better when I kept playing Super Mario Odyssey but I missed that mechanic. Not only that, I got so much used to the dive move in A Hat In Time. I was able to pull off more advanced moves than I ever could in a platforming game. With the 2nd dive/jump, you were able to stop at any time you want. So, if you noticed that you overshoot the jump, you can save yourself easily.

So, at that moment I started comparing the moves I was able to pull off in A Hat In Time to Super Mario Odyssey. And I felt like I was more in control in A Hat In Time. For example, I can’t pull off the Cappy Jump at all in Super Mario Odyssey but I’m able to defeat the hardest jumping challenges in A Hat In Time. I don’t know what’s going on exactly, but I think it has to do with the two things I said above.

Or it might have to do with me being more used to the XBOX360 controller I play A Hat In Time with compared to the first game I had beaten on Nintendo Switch. Maybe when I’m more used to the Switch controller, I might be able to do these more difficult moves.

Other things

Now, remember, I still enjoyed myself with Super Mario Odyssey and it’s still a great game. But, I have seen other games do certain aspects better. Besides that, are there other things I don’t like about Super Mario Odyssey?

The motion controls were also a big issue for me. I played a lot of this game on the go. On the train from and to work. And I think that I’m unable to get a few moons easily without those motion control moves. But, that’s mentioned in almost every review I have seen. And as pointed out by some, why weren’t they able to remap those moves to certain buttons that went barely used in the game like ZL/ZR?

Besides that, I think I have said my main issues with the game. I could go on and extremely nitpick, but that would make this article boring to read. Like I felt each world should have its own Rabbit mini-boss and not repeat them over several worlds with barely any differences…

In the end and I have mentioned this multiple times, I think that this game is wonderful, one of the best games Nintendo has put out in 2017. While it isn’t their best game from 2017, it’s in the top 5. While I feel that this game deserves a lot of praise, it could have done things a lot better and I hope I was able to point that out in this article.

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 the next article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Publishing: unmemory – A mystery game you can read. A noir novel you can play.

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“An innovative proposal of interactive fiction that immerses you in the story through a masterful mix of puzzle and reading” – Iván Fernández Lobo, Founder & Managing Director at Gamelab.

A new storytelling format

unmemory lives at the intersection of literature and game, blending narrative, interactive means and game mechanics to immerse yourself in a thriller story of memories and revenge.

The Killer Kittens are a band of sexy thieves. Many are after their valuable loot but there is only one person in the world who knows where it is hidden: you. Everything would be fine if it wasn’t for a small detail: you can’t remember anything.

Use your logic, deduction and discovery skills to overcome challenging puzzles and move forward. Bring order to your memories to solve the mystery and discover an uncomfortable truth.

More information

http://unmemory.info
Instagram: @unmemory.game
Facebook: @unmemory.game

Support their KickStarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unmemory/unmemory-a-text-based-game-an-interactive-escape-b

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Gaming Style & Reviewing

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The question I’m asking today is: “Does the gaming style influences the reviews of the games a reviewer played?” and more importantly, should that influence the review? How subjective or objective do you have to be to write a good review? Let’s have a chat about this topic. While I won’t be able to cover everything, I invite you to a discussion down in the comment section and who knows, a part 2 of this article might be written. So, let’s try and answer these questions. 

Gaming style & reviewing

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I recently finished Super Mario Odyssey. While it’s on my “write about” list, I haven’t written a review about it yet. Because I do have a big problem with it and that is the jumping controls.  Don’t get me wrong, they work amazingly, but I can’t for the life of me do those jumps using Cappy to go over further distances.

I have always been terrible at platforming. For my birthday, my best friend gifted me a copy of the game Celeste on Steam. A sort of Super Meat Boy inspired game where you climb a mountain while doing tricky jumping.

I didn’t get too far into the game before I got too frustrated with the game. I did enjoy myself and had a great time, but I haven’t played it too much since I closed it.

Now, how would I describe my gaming style? Well, I’m a jack of all trades. Since I’m a retro game collector, I play puzzle, racing, fighting, adventure, action, shooter… But, I don’t have a lot of genres I excel at. The genres I struggle the least with are puzzle & adventure games.

I also rarely to never play a game on hard mode. I can’t explain why, but I like to play games on normal mode and if I want more challenge, I play the game on hard mode. I think this is because I don’t want to get stuck in the game. I’m always afraid that when I play on hard, I get stuck on a part that I have to do over and over again. I know that’s the point I’ll get frustrated and stop playing the game.

These are things that influence my review. Now, before we break open the whole Cuphead Demo thing again, where a reviewer was so bad at controlling the game; he was unable to get past the tutorial, I’ll always do research. For example, I wouldn’t criticize the Super Mario Odyssey controls too harshly because I wasn’t able to do the Cappy jump while almost every other reviewer was able to do it without an issue.

The gaming style influences the review for sure. That’s why I dislike reviewing games of the genres I rarely play. I only review games in genres I know I enjoy playing. Now, do I think that you need to be good at the game to review it? Well, that’s a tricky question. A very tricky question. More on that later in this article.

Objective vs subjective

maxresdefault.jpgShould you be objective or subjective in a game review? To be honest, I think you should be both. At least, that’s what I do in my reviews.

If I would be writing the Super Mario Odyssey review now, I would say something along the lines of: “While the jumping controls are excellent and work well, I wasn’t able to figure out how you do the dive and/or double jump with Cappy. Maybe I should look through the excellent list of tutorials again. Since I feel like I’m the only one who is unable to do that jump.”

If you stay 100% objective in a review, I dislike reading it. These reviews are playing it safe and don’t have any personality. I love reading and watching reviews because I want to know how somebody felt about a game.

Now, when does a review become a bad review? Well, I think I can explain my point with this example. What if I wrote this about the Cappy jump in Super Mario Odyssey: “The Cappy jump is too difficult to execute if you aren’t a master with the controls of the game. So, if you want to get these moons, you will have to make some frustrating jumps or grind for coins and buy them in the shops.” This is something nearing the edge of being a bad review.

I always recommend that you look up other reviews when you are creating your own. You can agree or disagree with what the masses are saying, but don’t assume things like: “you need to have mastered the controls of game X to execute Y.”

Now, does a reviewer need to be good at a game in order to be able to review it? Here are my two cents: sort of. I have seen various reviewers make the mistake of saying: “A game is easy or you can do X and Y to make things happen.” if they are very skilled with the game. This is a mistake because of one simple reason, not everyone has the same skill set as you.

256px-Indiana_Jones_and_the_Infernal_MachineToday I have been comforted by a perfect example. I showed my godchild how 3D adventure games work like Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. An amazing game that I know inside and out. A game I even dare speedrun here and there. Something that comes extremely naturally to me is running around in a 3D space and using Aa running start to jump over big pits. My godchild wasn’t able to make that jumps and had to try several times. Yet, she still enjoyed playing the game and wanted to see more of the adventure. And before you ask, I was 11 (or something like that) when I had beaten this game for the first time and my godchild is 15 at the moment of writing.

Now, would my godchild write a bad review of this game? Well, yes and no. She would complain about how strange the controls feel and how the enemies scare her in a 3D-space. I think those kinds of reviews aren’t bad reviews per se, to be honest. I don’t think that a reviewer needs to be able to be one of the best players to review the game but they shouldn’t be one of the worst players. I have actually declined a few review requests because I wasn’t able to even beat the first levels. I didn’t want to review those games since I felt I couldn’t do the game justice.

You should at least be able to perform all basic mechanics of the game before you should review it. Otherwise, I think you shouldn’t review the game. Even when you write the review based on the input of other people who are good at the game or know more about the genre, you can have a malformed article, since the soul of the review isn’t there.

You can still enjoy a game even when you aren’t good at playing the game. Another perfect example is Pokémon. I just catch the Pokémon I like and use the same six throughout the whole adventure. I rarely swap my Pokémon for another one. When I have a water type in my party to beat the ground and fire, I’m happy. Even when it’s the weakest water type. This isn’t the best strategy and I always have a lot of trouble defeating the elite 4 or my friends in battle. Yet, I still enjoy Pokémon quite a lot. That much, that I still play it to this day. Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire and Gold & Silver are my favorite Pokémon games ever.

There is one huge thing that I haven’t mentioned throughout this whole thought exercise and that’s the goal of the review. In my opinion, you have two main types of reviews. One is the review to entertain and the other is the review to inform. Some people read reviews of games because they want to know if a game is good or not and/or if it’s something they want to play. Others read reviews because they enjoy reading them. I mostly fall in the latter category and I try to write for both categories.

Does the goal change the fact you need to be subjective and objective? No, not at all. The balance of the two changes. If you write a review to entertain, I feel like you can be more subjective. If you write a review to inform, you should be more objective.

Now, what’s a review to entertain and what’s a review to inform? That depends on the reader and which audience the writer is aiming at. I like people reading my content and coming back for other articles, so I try to make it as entertaining as possible. While I have seen reviews in the newspaper which are written to inform parents if the game is too violent or something of that nature. And the reader’s taste plays an important role here as well. I think that is self-explanatory.

Now, this was an interesting thought exercise. Should reviewers be good at a game? Well, the shouldn’t be the best player in the game but they shouldn’t be the worst. Should you stay 100% objective? No, some subjectivity in the article is good. So, what do you think? Let me know down in the comments. I’m rather curious what you think and what you think about my opinion.

Thank you for reading my 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.

 

 

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

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

Demo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I expect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My favorite gaming music #15: Music for a trip

image_1.jpgLink to more articles like these

So, next week I will be out of town. I will also be in a long car trip. That means, I have need a couple of good music tracks to listen to while on the road. So, let’s take a look at some video game music I love listening to or has some emotional value to them. For the people who have read previous entries in this series, what I’m going to say next is nothing new… But in these articles, I only talk about the original tracks. No remixes, unless it’s used in game. Also, one song per game. (I can write about the same game but it needs to be in another article.) I also link to the music each and every time and if I have written an article about it, I link that as well. In any case, let’s go! Let’s get the music pumping! Also, feel free to leave me a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the music I choose. 

Evoland II (PC) ~ Into The Forest

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So, in the past I actually started a let’s play of this game. I never really finished that let’s play since I got burned out on YouTube and I wanted to focus on my writing.

Rather recently, a friend of mine pointed out that a sequel was published. I didn’t even notice it. So, when I had the money to buy it, I bought it and started playing it. I don’t regret it at all. It’s a very good game but it’s a totally different experience then the original game.

This song is a song you hear very early in the game. The melody really sets me in the mood to explore the first area with monsters, the forest. It sets up the lighthearted atmosphere of the start of this game really well.

While I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m looking forward to what the game has waiting for me. This game shows great promise to me and I’m quite sure it won’t disappoint.

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) ~ Hyrule Field Theme 1

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Link to the first impression article

So, this game is one of the best games I have played in 2015. This Zelda spin-off didn’t disappoint at all. I’m also looking forward to the 3DS sequel which is coming out really soon.

If you read my blog often, you might know already that I’m a big fan of The Legend Of Zelda series. Since it’s in my eyes one of the best adventure games out there.

Various music tracks have a big emotional value to me. And when I heard this remix of the Hyrule Field theme in the game, I was hooked. It does it’s job perfect. It gets the player ready for action, ready for the war you are going to fight!

This track was my ringtone for a few months, I like it that much. If you liked this tune, really give the whole soundtrack a listen, it’s totally worth it, just like the game!

Europa Universalis IV (PC) ~ A Lifetime of War

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Link to my first impression article

This game is a close second for my top 10 games I played of 2015. I never thought I would play a game like this and actually enjoy my time in it. My best memories in this game are my sessions with my best friend Mizari. When I thought we were playing for just 1 or 2 hours, we actually played for 5 to 6 hours.

While this song won’t play in the vanilla build of the game, this song is one of the DLC songs you can buy. It’s from the Sabaton Soundtrack. The music of this DLC is really worth epic and 5 masterpieces like this for 3€? It’s a steal! Seriously, if you like what you hear with this song, go and buy the DLC.

I have no words for the greatness of this song. And when I started to play in-game… I actually start to sing along with some of the lyrics. Yeah.

Suikoden Tierkreis (DS) ~ Archivist Battle Theme

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First Impression article

This game, well it’s one of my favorite handheld RPG’s ever made. Last year, I replayed a part of this game and still found new content.

Apart from a big difficulty spike at the end and the bad voice acting, I think that this game is perfect. I love the story, atmosphere, visual presentation and the sound track. After I nearly finished it, I added this soundtrack to my music library. And now it a track plays from time to time. I rarely ever skip a track from this game.

This game introduced me to the Suikoden series. A game series I’m actually looking out for to get me a copy of the original PS1 series. Since I heard so much praise for this game I really want to see what it’s about.

Also, Konami if you are listening. Get this game over to Europe and/or announce a new entry in this series. If they are as amazing as this game, this is something I’m willing to buy!

Bravely Default (3DS) ~ That Person’s Name Is (Asterisk Boss Battle Theme)

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Link to my first impression article

So, the sequel of this game is coming out in a month, Bravely Second. This means, that’s it’s time to take a quick look back at the original game. This game has a pretty unique concept and is another RPG that ranks pretty high on my favorite games list.

RPG’s are one of my favorite handheld game genres and this game didn’t disappoint. What I mostly remember of this game, apart from the story and gameplay, is the soundtrack. I only chose one track as an example, but this soundtrack has many more amazing pieces of music that sets the mood very well.

I can’t wait to play the sequel to this game. I have to admit that I haven’t finished the original game yet, due to me having to grind… Which is a thing that I don’t really like. But what will be even more difficult is the fact that another RPG, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon releases around the same time here… Ugh, this will be a hard one. I have to be Brave…

Wrapping up

Alright, I have talked about 5 of my favorite music tracks. Maybe I could have chosen the name of this series better, since “my favorite” … well, it almost sounds like a sort of top 10; the title doesn’t really click with me anymore. But hey, I have written 15 articles of these. So, it’s kinda pointless in my eyes to change the title of this series now.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have soundtracks or songs you really love, leave them in the comments. I love listing to game music. I’m looking forward to it! Anyways, I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

2016 – I’m looking forward to you!

Happy-New-Year-2016-quotesAlright, 2015 is almost over with. So, I think it’s time to look– nah, that’s for later this month. Let’s look forward now. In this article I want to talk about a few games I’m looking forward to in 2016. The ones I have pre-ordered. But keep in mind, I haven’t watched or read much about the games I’m going to talk about. Since I want to keep myself as spoiler free as possible. I really hate hype trains. Since your expectations can go through the roof and then when you get an awesome game, you are disappointed it didn’t meet your ridiculously high expectations. In a few cases, I only watched to the trailer or saw some screenshots. Others just sold me on being a game in a series I enjoy. In any case, this is in a random order. Also, feel free to talk about your most wanted games in the comments. Which ones did you pre-order? Or feel free to comment on the games I’m looking forward to in 2016.

000000000000031584_GM_PACKAGE_0001_MRollercoaster Tycoon 4 – World

The Rollercoaster Tycoon series is one series I have played too much. When I was a child, this was one of the only games I played on the PC. For a while I didn’t care about other games. I kept playing this one. While I wasn’t very good at it; I enjoyed myself quite a lot. When RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 hit store shelves, I heard that people weren’t all that happy with the game.

I can understand why, the game could used a few more months of polishing. But the expansion packs really helped quite a lot. I didn’t experience a lot of problems so, I thought it was a very good game. Oh, I remember that one time my computer bugged out and installed everything of one expansion pack in Dutch while I install all the rest in English. That was easily fixed by reinstalling the expansion pack.

In any case, I was always hoping for a new entry in the series. And now, we are getting it in 2016. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4. Funded by the mobile app. I have only seen a video on it. Not a trailer, but somebody who messed around with it on a game show. So, I got even more excited.

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon

000000000000033251_GM_PACKAGE_0001_MIf you follow my blog, it should be pretty clear I’m quite a big fan of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. The story always manages to make me emotional at the end. Now, that Mega Evolution are introduced, I’m very curious how they are going to build it into the game. I was really waiting for this game since when I saw the trailer, I was hooked.

This game is going to be released in February. That’s around my birthday. which will make this game a perfect gift. That’s why I really have faith in this game. Since it’s coming out in the best month of the year. (In my opinion.)

But hey, I’m just glad it’s not a remake or remaster of a previous title. That this is a totally new game. A total new story. In the meantime I’m playing Etrian Odyssey Mystery Dungeon. But that’s a totally different experience. I honestly love this series a bit more then other mystery dungeon games. It’s more simple. It’s “easier” and more fun. Again, in my opinion.

The Legend Of Zelda – Wii U

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So, this title is getting a lot of hype. When one screenshot or trailer appears, it’s all over all the game news sites. From the trailer I saw, it appears that this game is going to have a different hero then Link. Which makes it even more interesting for me to play. I’m really curious what they are going to do with this game. But what I’m really looking forward too is the world. Since the visuals show a lot of promise.

This will be one of the best Zelda games ever. I have a gut feeling. I just hope that this game gets the polish it deserves since they are releasing two Zelda games next year. A HD remake of Twilight Princess and this title. Wait, actually three titles. Man, it’s going to be a great year to be a Zelda fan!

So, I’m also waiting for the sequel to Hyrule Warriors. In my eyes, it’s a sequel, Hyrule Warrior’s Legends. But hey, I’m getting off topic here.

So, this is the first game I pre-ordered for next year. It’s holding the most promise for a fun gaming year. Something big and fresh with the amazing Zelda formula. Come to think of it, I’m praising this game to heaven and back when I only saw a trailer and some random screenshots. It’s so hard to not look at the news or the other trailers. I want to be kept as spoiler free as possible.

Wrapping up

So, there are a couple of others that I wanted to mention in this article. But two of them are already released. Yokai Watch, lucky Americans… and the new Tomb Raider game… Lucky XBOX ONE users.

The sequel to Bravely Default is the other game I’m looking forward too. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m sorry that it’s a bit shorter then usual, but I have a cold and can’t really focus my writing this weekend. In any case, this is the end of the article! I hope to see you in the next one~

Gaming Music – My Favorites #10: Ten to see.

timthumbDon’t mind the title please. A title of an old Belgian TV show fitted well here. “Tien om te zien.” or freely translated: “Ten to see.” was an interesting music show at one of the cities at the beach. But in this series I talk about my favorite video game music. I’m not allowed to put more then one track of a series in one article and I’m only allowed to post originals. Remixes aren’t allowed. Although, I think I’m going to allow it in this special article. I’ll give you 5 remixes or video game related songs and 5 of my favorite video game music tracks. Enjoy listing to them while I talk briefly about my memories, why I selected the track or something else. Anyways, feel free to leave a comment on the content of this article and or with your opinion and or your favorite video game music tracks. 

Game related tracks and remixes

#1: Dj S3RL – Green Hills

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I was on the train when I suddenly heard some Sega sound effects playing. I wondered to myself, since when did I put the soundtrack of Sonic on my mobile? It turned out that I found another track of S3RL that is very game related.

When I heard it for the first time, I was hooked. Together with Pika Girl, these are my favorite tracks of this DJ.

The people who know me in real life know that I adore electronic melodic and fast music. This remix fits the bill perfectly. It doesn’t even have the annoying stop for the sound effect as in the Pika Girl song. Give it a listen for sure!

#2: SkyMarshall Arts – Forever Gamer

Loot2 Link

Wouldn’t it be a shame if I didn’t talk about SkyMarshall Arts? I mean, this guy made some album names referencing gaming culture.

The only thing I dislike about this song is that it’s rather slow. It’s a trance song, so it’s slow by definition. But I told you guys earlier, I’m more into faster songs.

Yet, I really enjoy this song. Just listen to it and enjoy the lyrics. I can truly relate to the feelings in that … appear (?) in the song. Oh, and when you enjoy this kind of music, don’t hesitate! Give the other songs of this artist a listen. He makes some pretty good stuff.

 #3: Midibar Remix – Bravely Default – That Person’s Name Is

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Link

I already talked about another remix of this game in one of my previous game music specials. So, since I wanted to talk about more then one track, I had to wait until a chance like this one to talk about it.

This lovely tune is a remade theme for battles and it sounds even more catchy then the in game variant.

The music sounds and feels more alive. The big difference is the ending. I love how the ending of the ingame track doesn’t loop out. So you can barely hear where the track starts or stops.

Well, the people who remember the game music better then I do at then when I’m writing this article… Is it really as good as I’m telling here. I’m kind of sure, I’m telling the truth. Now, let’s wait for the next special to talk about another remix.

#4: PokeRemix Studio – Game Studio Remix

Pokémon_box_art_-_Gold_VersionLink

How do you make an extremely catchy and memorable song even “worse”? You make an awesome remix of this song of course.

This song appeared while I was doing research about the history of Pokémon. I started listing to it and since then it’s a proud part of a my collection folder of amazing game theme remixes.

Now that I’m listing to it again, I feel that this tune should go to my mobile. I love it that much. While I enjoy listing to remixes, only the best ones I put on my phone. Since those are songs I need to be able to listen to over and over again without getting bored of them. That’s mostly because I forget to put on new music frequently.

Anyways, I won’t spoil anything about this track. It’s up to you to listen to it. But let me tell you, it’s a catchy Pokémon tune made even more catchy. Be warned in advance.

#5: ZREO Orchestra – The Legend Of Zelda series

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Link to their Wind Waker Orchestra

I’m terribly sorry that I didn’t talk about this group before. Each and every Zelda fan has the right to know about the group.

The melodies of the Legend Of Zelda series are translated so well into an amazing orchestrated piece of music. Amazingly, as good as every main theme series game got an orchestral “remix”. I’m a bit sad to see that my favorite games didn’t get their whole soundtrack remixed (yet)

You could visit their website, but the last time I visited it, it was down for I think construction.

Anyways, you should really give these guys a listen! They are totally worth it. Please, don’t come complaining to me when you became addicted to their music.

Game music tracks

#6: Chrono Trigger DS – Chrono’s Theme

Chrono_Trigger_DS coverLink

I heard a lot of rumors about this game. That it’s a good game and all. At first I looked at it as one of those popular JRPG’s with a deep story that got a cult following. Rather recently I started playing.

I directly understood why this game is seen as one of the better JRPG’s. It’s such an amazing game.

What is even more mindblowing is the fact that the “remake” on the DS is more of a port then a remake. The music even sounds and has the feel from the SNES area.

I just fell in love with this game. I had to put it down for a bit recently due to a section where I needed to grind. And you guys all know how much I hate that. But in any case, give the soundtrack a listen and give the game a shot! It’s very worth it.

#7: Ducktales Remastered – African Mines

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Time for some nostalgia. The DuckTales games bring a lot of memories back to me. I never owned a DuckTales game but I was always allowed to lend it from a cousin of mine.

One-a-days, I barely see or talk to that cousin, but when I started playing DuckTales Remastered on Steam and heard the music, like the African Mines, the memories came back in full force.

It made me put down the controller for a second and take it all in. You should do that with this track too. It’s really that good and catchy on it’s own.

#8: Kirby Triple Deluxe – Techno Factory

KirbyTripleDeluxe

Link

I only recently finished this game’s main story. It was quite a fun game. I agreed to myself that I only played this game on the train to work. That’s so hard, since this is an amazingly addictive and fun game.

While a lot of hardcore gamers say that Kirby is too easy, please consider that it might be aimed at the youngest gamers. Besides, you can make yourself some rules like not using Kirby’s copying abilities to make the game harder.

Anyways, enough of that. I am planning to write a review of this game sooner or later. In any case, we are here to talk about the soundtrack. It’s what you expect from a Kirby game. Very memorable, upbeat, melodic and fun. Oh, and catchy as well.

Anyways, give it a listen and tell me what you think. I would love to hear it. Since this game might just be my favorite Kirby game ever made.

#9: Tomb Raider Underworld – Unnatural encounter

Tomb-Raider-Underworld-Pc-CoverLink

My first ever game of Tomb Raider was Tomb Raider Legend. When I bought it as a 12 year old youngster, I didn’t realized what I bought. The kick of playing a 3D adventure game with such updated graphics blew my mind.

Since then I’m pretty hooked on the series. I bought the next PC game so I could play even more Tomb Raider fun.

Then Underworld released and I was bummed out, my old pc couldn’t handle the game. So, I had to play the game in a different way. My mother was so kind to me that she actually bought the game on my DS for me. While it isn’t a very good game, the emotional bond I have with it makes up for it.

Then I got my laptop, the very same one I’m writing this article on, and I got myself a copy of Underworld. When I found out that I was able to run and play it…. Well, I had a few sleepless game nights.

So, that’s why I’m so nostalgic about this game and it’s soundtrack. I really advice you guys to give it a listen. It’s pretty amazing.

#10: Monster Tale – Windmill Plains

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So, you are in the final area of an amazing Castlevania-inspired game. You have fought your way through enemies and a lot of though bosses. Now, you hear a song that starts very similar to the main theme.

But a few moments later, the bass kicks in. It gives you that extra urge to finally defeat that one character that has been making your life a living hell through the story. You finally want that character to bite the dust.

The music drives you through the final parts of the game, your skills are being tested. Everything you learned in the game will be put to use now. Meanwhile you can look back on the amazing experience you just had. Well, that’s how I felt when I played this game when this track played.

Finishing this article.

I already said it on Tumblr, but I have been extremely busy lately. That’s why I don’t publish so many articles this month. Thankfully things are looking up for me. Soon, I’ll be finishing more games and I’ll be able to write more articles.

Lately, I’m doubting if I shouldn’t aim for less articles but maybe have better content. I seriously don’t know. But this isn’t material for the end of this article, isn’t it?

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article and listening to the music. Maybe you discovered a new game or two. Who knows? I had a lot of fun writing this, you may be sure of that.

Feel free to suggest a game I should take a look at next! I love requests. But until then, I hope to welcome you a next time on my blog. Take care guys and girls.

First Impression: Bravely Default (3DS) ~ Featuring GamersHive

bravely-default-europe-box-artGamersHive Facebook

Official Site

Thanks for tuning in you guys. Today, I’m going to try something different. In the last few years, I met a guy on a garage sale with the same first name then mine. A few months ago, I found met him again through Dutch website, similar to eBay. After a few mails back and forth, I joined his Facebook group. Now, if you are a reader from Belgium and you’re interested in games… Don’t wait! Go take a look on that page. This is a group to my heart. They are collectors like myself. I might ask them to get the forums to work together. As a sort of apology to you guys and to them (because I haven’t mentioned them while I promised it) I asked their opinion on this game. Keep in mind, this isn’t a review since I haven’t finished the game myself. Yet, there are guys on GamersHive that finished it. So, I’ll be using their words to talk more about this game. The only “altering” I did to the quotes is translating them. So yeah, before we start, feel free to leave a comment on the article and or the game. 

Unexpected. 

a544b637e7bdbabf2abb0e823e5a80d3Honestly, I wasn’t planning to play this game. I got this game thanks to my forum. When a few members where hyped about this game, I kept the title in mind. A week later, I was looking on the shelves of a local game store for any potential great sales in the 2nd hand section. When I saw this game on the shelves, I decided to pick it up. To check if the hype was really worth it. I rode my bike home and popped the game in my 3DS.

Bravely Default is what the new Final Fantasy should have been.

– Ringo G. (GamersHive)

Now, my friend. That’s quite a big statement. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I haven’t played too many Final Fantasy games. Actually I have never beaten one. Yet, I do love the formula of the game. While I heard mixed reviews on the latest releases, I do think that there is some truth in the statement.

First of all, let’s talk about the story. I’ll be using now a lot of a mini-review Sam Stevens placed as a comment to my post in the group.

The story is really beautifully created. It gives you the feeling to continue playing to see the ending.

– Sam Stevens (GamersHive)

 I’m sorry Sam, but I have to disagree. The opening was truly unexpected. The introduction is done by using the AR features of the 3DS. It gives you a personal feel through the story. I haven’t beaten the game yet, so I don’t know how it ends but from what I have played… I don’t think the story is that good. You won’t hear me saying that the story is bad. That is totally not the case. Let me explain myself.

The main story is generic. It’s a basic story of “save the world with crystals”. But here the saying of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is very, very true. The execution of the story is what makes the story good. The dialogue, interaction with the characters and their backstories are all very well written. Sadly enough, some characters suffer from “tropes”. What I mean here is that they are your standard characters. To say it very crude, the characters don’t have a soul. I don’t see any change in their personalities. They stay way to close to what their what their trope is supposed to be.

Here the story looses a lot of it’s charm. Sadly enough, to experienced story tellers, the story becomes predictable. In summary, the story is good but not great. It has it’s moments here and there but there are so many missed opportunities.

Generic RPG or more?

brave6Let’s move on to the gameplay. And to save me some trouble, I will quote some very true things from Sam Stevens.

Norende Village and the StreetPass support really aid you in your quest.

– Sam Stevens (GamersHive)

Now this is very true. On the surface, the game looks to have a basic RPG-style gameplay. With turn based moves and random encounters. That’s only the surface. The game is deeper then that. Sam gave two examples how the gameplay is more then your standard RPG game. What they exactly are, well… that I leave as a surprise to you guys.

The feature of being able to set the amount of random encounters is just amazing.

– Sam Stevens (GamersHive)

Oh yes! Sam, you are totally right. This is one of the big selling points in my opinion. It’s really hidden but it’s so handy. This way you can explore early dungeons again without having to be interrupted by weak enemies. It’s just great. Also, the game warns you if you disable the random encounters! The game might become too difficult if you try to play this without them. Yeah, great move.

Now, the title of the game is pretty much the gameplay of this game. You can either “Brave” or “Default”. The “Default” is your basic “Blocking” / “Defending”  but with a twist. You earn a point when you “Default”. These points can be used to “Brave”. This way you can release multiple attacks at once. This adds a whole layer of strategy. Since if you “Brave” without saving points first, you will end up loosing turns with that character.

Negatives

gfs_373321_2_3Now, usually I would be about to wrap up my article. But since I mentioned some guys, I think I will continue this article for just a little bit. In this part, I will talk a bit about the negatives of the game. What didn’t I enjoy? I realize that I leave out a whole bunch of things that I haven’t talked about, but I save these for my review when I beat the game.

So, the first flaw I want to talk about is something that is a big shame. Minor spoiler here but at one point, you get an airship. It’s actually really early on. Now, you can go to every place on the map. And that’s amazing. The open world feeling is such a fun thing to play around in. Until you get a slap to the face.

When you try to enter a dungeon before you’re actually supposed to, the characters say that they shouldn’t go inside, since they haven’t business there yet. What? Like ProJared said in his “1 minute review”:

Let me experience my own mistakes.

– ProJared

This is very true.

Another mistake is how the game has micro-transactions. I don’t think I have to explain myself here. It’s just silly. I might talk more in-depth about it in the review. Although, I have already talked about it in my last rant. So yeah.

Another thing I dislike about this game is how grinding is such a thing. I actually stopped playing this game because of a part in the game where it’s a boss rush. And you will need to grind, a lot, in order to beat them. Either that, or I fail at understanding this game. It might be a combination of both. But I don’t the grinding in this game fun. Sorry.

Anyways, thanks for reading. I’ll talk more about the graphics, difficulty, music, controls and design in my review. I hope you enjoyed this article. Thanks to GamersHive for the amazing quotes. It was really fun to try out something different. Now, I have a game to beat to fully review it. Hopefully until then!