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Review: Pokémon Diamond, Pearl & Platinium (DS) ~ Where Is Our Remake Nintendo?

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Bulbapedia entry

It has been quite a while since I talked about the Pokémon series. But today I noticed that I haven’t written an article on the 4th generation of Pokemon games. I think it’s high time to do something about that. Now, I want to tell the story how I acquired this game. Just when I got my DS, I only had one game. The Legend of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass. Not too long after, my sister and I went to buy new games. She bought together with me, Nintendogs since she was 10 € short. While I bought Pokémon Pearl. The nostalgic memories are quite extreme for this game. I played this game quite a lot, sometimes through the night while hiding my DS underneath my pillow to avoid getting caught. But, is the game still good or are my nostalgia goggles clouding my judgment? Let’s take a look at the 4th generation of Pokémon games. As per usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

Where is our remake Nintendo?

pokmon_pearl_image10A lot of the early generation Pokémon games got a remake from Nintendo. The first generation, Pokémon Blue/Red and Yellow, has been remade on the Nintendo GBA and more recently on the Nintendo Switch. The second generation, Pokemon Gold/Silver and Crystal, got a remake on the Nintendo DS. The third generation, Ruby/Sapphire and Emerald, got a remake on the 3DS.

Fans are hoping for a remake of the Sinnoh region on the Nintendo Switch. The fully experience the story of this 4th generation all over again. Fans want to start in Twin Leaf Town again, together with your childhood rival, meeting the evil team in the first minutes of the game. Now, this game has your usual Pokémon story. If you have played any previous Pokémon games, you will know what to expect. Fight 8 gyms, defeat an evil team, save the world from destruction, defeat the Pokémon League and become champion of the region.

There are a few twists in the story, but overall it stays very normal for a Pokémon game. While I was playing the game for the first time, I remember quite liking the story. I found the characters quite enjoyable and I enjoyed myself following the quirky cast of characters I met on my journey. While I replayed the game for this review, I still enjoyed the story but I felt that there was more that could have been done with the story. Thankfully, in the following generations, the story gets more and more flesh out.

Something I found really great was the pacing of the story. In the previous Pokémon games, the evil team stays a lot on the background during the story and nearing the finale of the game, appears almost out of nowhere. In this game, you have several encounters with them and a lot of road blocks on your adventure are caused by them. This made Team Galactic more memorable compared to some other teams. Then again, I might be saying this out of my nostalgia goggles.

Now, does this game have a good story? In my honest opinion, sort off. If you are expecting a story with deep lore like Skyrim, you won’t find it here. The story has a lot of lore but not too in depth. The story of this game is quite accessible. And that fits the style and theming of this game better then a lore heavy game. It makes the game a lot of accessible for all ages and it stays true to it’s portable nature.

Unique mechanics galore

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If you have played the previous generations, the gameplay will be quite familiar to you. Find and catch Pokémon in the wild to make a team to train and battle other trainers. Now, the usual formula gets enhanced by the Nintendo DS because of the added UI elements of the second screen. The Nintendo DS spoiled me, since from this generation the UI gets a lot of improvements.

Some key items like the Item Finder are now a lot easier to use thanks to the PokéTech on the touch screen. There are over 20 apps you can get for the PokéTech. Some are useful inside the game and others can be quite useful outside of the game. I remember that one time, a friend of mine forgot to bring his calculator to school and was allowed to use the calculator in the game for exercises. I used the coin toss app a lot for various situations.

Now, each generation has it’s own unique special mechanic. The second generation had two regions, the third has secret bases, the fifth has seasons… And this generation has the underground AND the PokéTech. Yes, two unique features. Man, the underground looks like so much fun. Sadly enough, I didn’t have a lot of friends (outside of the internet friends) I could play this mode with. I played this mode twice on the bus and it was quite a lot of fun. In the underground, the secret bases from the 3rd generation return. But there is more, there is a sort of capture the flag mode where you can earn points by raiding the flag of other players their bases. And on top of that, you can put traps in the various hallways. And on top of that, you can mine for various ores and sometimes very useful items. And yes, possible fossils to find several Pokémon. While I wasn’t able to play with the secret bases in the underground, I still spend countless hours just digging for ores and decorating my secret base.

Earlier I talked about the improvements to the UI. Thanks to the touch screen, the battling mechanics and bag management got a lot easier. When you look at the newer generations, it’s clear that these UI improvements work quite well since they got even more fleshed out in those generations. To be honest, I missed the second screen with my menu options and such while I was playing Pokémon Let’s Go.

Actually, there is a third unique mechanic in this game but it isn’t something that game changing. It’s a nice addition that helps with the atmosphere of this game. After some time, your badges get dirty and a bit rusty. So, you can clean them by rubbing on them on the touch screen to make them sparkle again. This is a nice small addition. And yes, as a child I regulary checked my badges to make sure they were still in sparking condition.

Depending on how skilled you are in optimizing your team, this game can be easy and sometimes quite difficult. I’m the more casual type of player and I have to say that I got frustrated with one of two gym leaders. I disliked the 5th gym a lot since I had to grind quite a bit to beat that gym. And if there is one thing I dislike, that’s grinding.

This adventure will take you roughly 40 hours to complete. But, if you want to fully complete this game and see everything that there is to see, you can spend close to 260 hours in the game. While I haven’t fully completed the game 100%, I think I playing this game give or take, 100 hours. Granted, over several save files since I have restarted the game two or three times.

The lakes

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Visually, this game looks amazing. Sinnoh still looks great in my opinion. The game is quite colorful and lively.

In terms of the animation, this game looks quite good. I had to get used to the static Pokémon sprites again while battling, but that was a small price to pay.

And the game also nails in it in the audio department. The music for this game is amazing. It’s one of my favorite soundtracks to listen too when I’m in a Pokémon mood and and the sound effects really add a lot of flavor to the game.

Running around in the world of Sinnoh is a fun experience. From a port town to the snowy tops of Snowpoint City, this region is one of my favorite regions in the series. Especially because there is so much variation in the region. It’s not themed in one giant theme like in Pokémon Sun and Moon where everything is based on Hawaii or in Pokemon X and Y where everything is themed like France.

So far, I have been praising this game quite a lot. But, are there things I didn’t like about this game. Well, yes. There are a few things I didn’t like about this game.

The first big negative of this game has to do with the fact that the Nintendo Online services have been closed down. Because of this, the online features of this game are inaccessible. Well, apart from the local features then.

Sometimes, I felt that the game was running a bit too slow. Now, I don’t mean that there were any frame drops or lag… I mean that there was a bit too much of the text boxes. Especially when certain weather effects where into play.

The best version to play this game is Pokémon Platinium. Apart from fixing some bugs, there are a whole long list of improvements to the game. NintendoEverthing made a very helpful list that can be found right here. And after playing Pokémon Platinium for a bit, I found that a lot of the minor nitpicks I had with the game, were fixed.

And yes, that was almost everything negative I can say about these games… And with that said, I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article.

Conclusion

Negatives:

-Some rare moments of griding are required to beat the game.

-Nintendo Online being shut down.

-Pokémon Platinium improved the games so much that Pearl and Diamond feel inferior.

Postives:

+ Amazing audio visual design.

+ Several unique mechanics in this game like the underground and the PokéTech.

+ Fun story.

+ …

Final thoughts:

To be honest, I had a real hard time finding negatives for this game. Maybe it’s possible that I have too much nostalgic thoughts about this game or maybe it’s just that good. In terms of Nintendo DS games, this is one of the best Nintendo DS games I have ever played.

There is a reason why so many players want to see this game remade on the Nintendo Switch. They want to bring this game back to the masses so that a whole new generation can experience the amazing journey through Sinnoh again.

I highly recommend that you give this game a try if you enjoy Pokémon games and/or RPG’s. The main game can be easy for hardcore RPG fans but the post game and the side quests will give you a lot of challenge.

While this game has a few minor flaws, I find them not hindering my experience at all. Compared to the generations after this generation, this game can feel a bit lacking. For example, you don’t need to hold a button down to run and the menu is always accessible on the touch screen… But, then again, there are moments I really miss the PokéTech and the underground mechanics from this game.

And with that I think it’s time to wrap up 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 future article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 100/100

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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.

Review: Monster Tale (DS) ~ Are You Ready, Chomp?

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Wikipedia entry

Last week when I was writing about Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, I wanted to reference Monster Tale. To my surprise, I haven’t written a review or talked about this game in full on my blog. So, that’s why I’m going to fix that right now. Let’s tell the tale on one of the best Nintendo DS games ever made. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the content of this article and/or the game. For now, let’s ready, set, go!

Are you ready, Chomp?

ellie 1.PNG

In this game, you take the role of Ellie. A young girl that gets dragged into a world filled with monsters. It doesn’t take long before she meets a monster that hatches right in front of her and follows her around as if she was the mother. She decides to name the monster Chomp.

Then, Jinx, a shopkeeper explains what the world is.  There are other humans in the Monster World and they are king of their own domain.

Now, Ellie and Chomp go on a quest to try and defeat these evil Kid-Kings and try to get them all home.

The reason I stay pretty vague about the story is simple. This game is a very nicely written plot and talking about it more would spoil it. The characters might be cliche here and there, but I really liked the chemistry between the characters. To this day, I still remember the characters and their role in the story by just looking at screenshots or hearing their theme.

The story is a blast to experience from start to finish. All 10 hours of it. Yes, all 10 hours of it. This game is criminally short. You can squeeze a few more hours out of the game when you want to fully complete it.

There is voice acting in this game, but no full lines are voice acted. Some of the major characters have some spoken phrases or noises but nothing really more. Which is a darn shame since the whole voice cast is extremely talented amine dub voice actors. On the other hand, it helps with the charm that this game has quite a lot.

I especially love the grunts of Ellie and the noises Chomp make. They are so adorable and made me fall in love with this game. It’s still a mystery how the adorable and cute game can tackle serious subject matter like what’s presented in this game. So, I hope that you are ready since you and Chomp are going on an adventure.

Metroidvania

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Back when I first played this game, I hadn’t really played a lot of Metroid or Castlevania games. I had heard about both series but I haven’t played them. That all changed when I started to play this game.

The gameplay is your typical Metroidvania game. You explore this world and fight monsters on your way. Don’t be fooled by the visuals, this game isn’t easy at all.

This game is unforgiving sometimes and you really have to learn how each move works and how to use the special items provided to you.

This game has a lot of depth as well. There are three enemy types; fire, water, and earth. These work on a rock, paper scissors theme. So, you will have to keep in mind which version of Chomp you level up and bring with you. Yes, you can level up Chomp. While it’s not 100% needed to unlock all versions of Chomp to defeat the final boss of the game, it’s highly recommended that you level up at least one form quite a lot.

During combat, enemies can drop various items like footballs, books, slingshots, ice cream, camera’s… to help Chomp level up. Some dropped items even have additional benefits, like the football bounces around on the top screen.

Now is a good time to address the top and bottom screen, since it’s used in this game to its full potential. On the top, you have the Monster World that Ellie is exploring. You can have Chomp with you for a limited amount of time. That’s what the yellow bar on the 2nd screen is for. This bar drains as soon as Chomp is in the Monster World.

You can let the bar recharge when Chomp is resting in his den, which is the bottom screen. Once there, the bar recharges and he can experiment and learn about the various items that enemies drop. There is also another catch, each version of Chomp has different attributes, abilities and special powers to play around with.

Now, I love the risk and reward system of the combat. There are a lot of ways to handle a situation. One possible option is to let Chomp handle the enemies. Another possible situation is to shoot the enemies down and another is to melee combat. Now, you would argue that the melee combat sounds useless. Well, I would agree with you there but there is a limit to your shooting ability. When the 2nd bar on the 2nd screen, the blue one, depletes; you can’t shoot anymore. You can recharge this bar at save points or by finding rare blue orbs in the world or as drops. But the easiest way is to melee defeat enemies.

Now, there is a lot more done with the mechanics of the two screens and I have to tell that I really liked it. The combat is extremely challenging to do but in a fun way. Also, no playthrough feels and plays the same since you have so many different ways to tackle the situation.

In addition to that, you never get lost on what to do next since the next spot you need to go to is always indicated on the map. I have no idea if there is an option to disable this, but I think it’s a very useful feature.

Gameplay-wise, this game is extremely addictive. There are a lot of power-ups for Ellie and various forms for Chomp. So, this game quickly becomes a balancing act on who to power up with your hard earned cash. Do invest in both, since otherwise, you will regret it later.

Control-wise, this game is solid. While in very few occasions, the ground pound move was a bit tricky to pull off, but that was a minor annoyance. Since, when you die in this game, you get quickly put back to the latest checkpoint. Now, if there is one thing I really disliked in this game is the lack of teleports.

There is a lot of backtracking in this game. That’s the biggest problem I have with this game. The Castlevania have teleport stones, but Monster Tale doesn’t have that. That’s the biggest flaw this game has. Besides being criminally short that is.

Save often!

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So, this game doesn’t have an autosave. At certain locations, you come across a book where you can save. There, you can recharge every meter to it’s fullest potential. These rooms are highly needed since the lower your hearts, the more tricky this game can become.

Something I will never get tired of with this game is the presentation. This game looks amazing. It’s clear that a lot of love has been put in the creation of this game. The backgrounds of each zone look stunning, vibrant and have a lot of detail.

The colors pop and they build an amazing atmosphere. I especially love the beach zone since it has a lot of memories for me. As a kid, I took a lot of trips to the seaside with my family and I love to sit on the beach and watch the sea do its thing.

Besides that, the monster design is adorable. In some cases, I didn’t even want to hurt the enemies. They all have unique designs and patterns, it’s tricky to kill them. Both since they look so good and some have very unique killing patterns.

Now, the soundtrack of this game is good. While there are some tracks that I find mediocre, the overall package is a blast to listen to. It really pumps you up to continue. You won’t regret hearing these tunes during gameplay and even outside. I played the soundtrack in the background while I was writing this article and I actually heard the various enemy noises and the various other sounds in my head.

This proves that this game has an amazing audio design. To this day, I still remember sound effects and music from the game. And that’s what I mean with that this game will leave a visual impression on you. The game is not only pretty but also sounds pretty.

The animations are fluid and the game runs at a very stable frame rate. I actually don’t remember the game ever dropping frames. Also, I really like how there are two save slots. This way you have tried for two very different runs.

In terms of the UI, there is one minor thing I have to complain about. It’s actually extremely nitpicky but I really find the use of the start and select buttons to switch between the menu’s a bit too much. The start and select buttons on the DS Lite are extremely small. Besides, I wished they merged the map screen and the other menu into one option. Maybe an ability to select from the pause screen if you wanted to see the map screen or the evolution screen of Chomp.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left a few things unexplained for when you are interested in giving this game a chance. You will be surprised. But, it’s time for the section of the review of the people who need a tl;dr. Time for the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

-The pause menu could be reorganised a bit better.

-The harsh difficulty could be a turn off for some people.

-The game is really short.

-No teleporting in the game.

The good:

+ Amazing Metroidvania game.

+ Great story.

+ Amazing visual and sound presentation.

+ This game oozes charm.

+ Great controls.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you highly enjoy the 2D Castlevania games, the Metroid games or any other Metroidvania game and you are looking for something more light-hearted, then Monster Tale is your game. This game looks and sounds amazing.

Besides a few minor flaws, this game comes highly recommended. It’s a big shame that the remake for 3DS actually fell through and that the original developers of this game went bankrupt.

If you see this game for sale, pick it up and play it. It’s one of the best games on the DS. I wish more people knew about it so another developer could pick up the IP and make a sequel to it.

On the other hand, the ending wraps up things extremely nicely and makes for an amazing package. Due to the various possible playstyles, this game is highly replayable. But, it’s the complete experience that will stay with you. And that’s what makes this game so memorable and unique.

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

Score: 99/100

First Impression: Lufia II (SNES) ~ Some Dutch please

Wikipedia entry

A few years ago, my uncle gave me his SNES with a few games. One of them, was a boxed version of Lufia II – Rise of the Sinistrals. After some research, I realized that my copy of the game is rather rare in a way. The cartridges of the game go on eBay for 80€ and up, but the catch is, I have a Dutch version. Since there aren’t too many Dutch speaking people in the world, less cartridges are produced so making the game even more rare. But hey, I don’t think that every collector wants to own a cartridge of a game in a different language they might not understand while there is a version available in their native language. In any case, let’s take a look at this game. Is it even worth that price now or should you pass on it? Here are my impressions after the first few hours of gameplay. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article.

Sidenote: while I know that this game got a remake called Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals on the DS, in this article I’m focusing on the SNES game; simply because I don’t own the remake and haven’t played it.

Casual start

When you start this game, your first mission is “The Training Dungeon”. In this training dungeon, you get the basic explanation of the game mechanics.  But more on that later, first let’s talk about the story of this game.

This game tells the story of how the Sinistrals came to be. Now, this sequel tells a prequel story. But here is the annoying thing, the original game never reached European shores. To make matters even more confusing, they dropped the II from the title here in Europe. Yeah.

So far, the story and writing is very enjoyable. The only complaint is that the Dutch translation feels so out of place. Which is normal, since I’m so used to the English names of items and suddenly seeing them in my native language sounds so foreign to me. But, I haven’t gotten too far in the story, so I will leave that for when I review the game.

But something I really enjoy from the writing is the fact that NPC’s react differently depending on the story. Even when little events happen like somebody cooking some bad food. This gives the game a more alive feeling and I think that’s a serious plus in my books.

If you would start playing this game, beware of the glitches.  Due to the rushed localization, there are a lot of strange bugs and some are save corrupting. This happened to me once and I lost my save and had to start over. Take a good read to avoid bugs before you start playing.

Random no Random encounters

So this game has random no random encounters. I mean with that the game has random encounters and no random encounters. When you are on the overworld, the game has random encounters. But in the dungeons, you don’t have any random encounters.

The meat of the game is mostly in the dungeons. In these places, you can also use your skills. A very useful skill is the Reset Spell. With this spell, you can reset a room to its original position. So, if you screwed up a puzzle, you can reset the room without having to leave it. And this doesn’t cost any mana.

This game is a blast to play. This game is a typical RPG when it comes to battles and exploration. But, it has various elements of The Legend Of Zelda sprinkled in. The gameplay in the dungeons reminded me so much of the Zelda games. If you want to form a picture, think of the Zelda dungeons but instead of beating enemies when they are on screen, you have a RPG-battle screen.

A very useful feature is that you see on your screen how much EXP you still before your level raises by one after you defeated an enemy. It also shows your goal total. The only thing I don’t really like about the battle screen is that in sometimes the health bar and such are simply bars and you don’t see how much health or mana you have left.

I’ll go more in-depth about the gameplay when I have beaten this game and when I write a review of this game. It’s a lot of fun and with great controls, you can’t go wrong. The only thing I would have changed about the controls is the “X” button. This button is used as the menu button, but I think that the Start button would have been a much better choice for this.

Soundtrack Gold!

If you would start talking about the best 16-bit RPG soundtracks, a lot of Square and Enix RPG’s would be mentioned. I honestly think that the soundtrack of this game should be mentioned in those kind of talks.

The soundtrack of this game is amazing. It’s one of the best soundtracks I have heard on the system in my opinion. And believe me, various tracks got stuck in my head even when I had put the game down for a while.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I love the details in the dungeons and the animation is great as well. The artwork for this game is impressive and colorful.

This game is well balanced. There isn’t too much grinding in this game. And honestly, I don’t mind the grinding too much in this game. Something I really like is that you have save platforms right before you go into a room with a boss. I really appreciate that since that way I don’t have to do a whole dungeon over again when I die at the boss.

Speaking about saving, that’s one of the only things I don’t really like about this game. You can only save at save points like a church or on save points in dungeons. But, honestly, that’s nitpicking. No?

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game. So far, I’m enjoying myself a whole lot with this game and I can only praise this game. If you look at other reviews of this game, you will read the same praise. And believe me, this game is worth a lot of praise.

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

Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of Time / Darkness & Sky (DS) ~ Expansion Dungeon?

PMD3

Wikipedia entry

So, remember when Nintendo released an enhanced version of each generation? Games like Pokémon Yellow, Crystal, Emerald and Platinum come to mind. Well, they also did that once for their Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. When Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness released, a year later Nintendo released Explorers of the Sky. I have beaten Explorers of Time but I haven’t beaten this updated version yet. Why did I decide to write a review then? Well, the core mechanics haven’t changed in this version. In any case, it’s time to take a look at this game, what do I think about this entry in one of my favorite game series? As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the game. 

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Note: In this review, I will focus mostly on the Sky version of the game. But my thoughts in this review apply to all versions of this game except the exclusive stuff in the Sky version.

Note 2: To avoid mentioning the full title of the game every time, I refer to the games by only using the last word in the title.

Let’s form a guild

Pokemon mystery dungeon explorers of the sky 2

So, you start up a new game and you get a personality quiz. This will decide which Pokémon you will be during the whole adventure. For some reason, I love doing this quiz. I have played it various times and I always end up with the same Pokémon.

So, the story of this game. You play as a human that got turned into a Pokémon. You meet your partner on the beach. After your partner gets his special artifact stolen from some rival gang, you and your partner go and reclaim the stolen artifact. After you have helped your partner, both of you team up and go join the local guild.

When you join the local guild, you learn that somebody is stealing the time gears and which controls time in that given area. So, you set out on an adventure to stop this madness and restore peace to the land.

And that’s just the basic part of the story. This story goes much deeper. You go on various quests and adventures, it’s great. The writing in this game is great, but some jokes are more aimed at the younger audience. In the Sky version, there is additional backstory added to the game. There is also a longer epilog added to the game. I still have to finish the epilog, but I love the added stories so far.

The visual presentation of this game is, as you would expect from a Nintendo game, excellent. I can understand that the visuals might turn some people off since they aren’t upgraded too much from the original GBA title. Still, the detail in the artwork is well done. Also, the gorgeous full-screen pictures are an amazing touch. A common criticism of this game is that

A common criticism of this game is that the dialogues go on and on for too long. I honestly didn’t mind this too much, but I do understand why people complain. This game could have benefitted from some cutscenes, even when it’s just a big picture that goes over the two DS screens.

Was this needed?

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The expanded Sky version has a very mixed reception. While some reviewers hated this version, some reviewers loved it. The biggest issue is that the things that were added in this version were somewhat minor at first. Why do I say minor at first? Well, this version has much more polish than the original versions.

Why do I say minor at first? Well, this version has much more polish than the original versions. Also, there are some many things added like: new dungeons, new story, more starters, new places and shops… But most of them appear after a bit of playtime or is post game content.

I think that this could have been handled better. I think that the Sky version should have been the only one that got released. It’s the superior version of Time and Darkness. So, if you haven’t played these games yet, don’t bother with Time and Darkness, play the Sky version.

Another interesting idea would be a sort of “save file transfer” feature. So, that you transfer your save file from either Time or Darkness to Sky and you get direct access to the new features without having to replay the whole game.

If you have played Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue or Red Rescue Team, you know what you can expect in this game. You go through randomized dungeons while fighting various other rogue Pokémon. Your goal is to reach the end of the dungeon so you can continue to the story.

Sometimes you have sentry duty over at the guild. Then you have to guess which 250px-MD_Darkness_EN_boxartPokémon wants to enter the guild. I think this mini game would be pretty tricky if you aren’t familiar with Pokémon. But, if you are familiar with Pokémon, this shouldn’t give you too much trouble.

When you aren’t exploring a dungeon, you can go and visit the local town to buy items and upgrade your Pokémon. You can also go on various side quests and/or hunt after wanted criminals.

The core gameplay can be repetitive, yet enjoyable. If you play this game more an extended amount of time, it might get boring. But, if you spice things up with some side quests and trying to progress the story, the game stays enjoyable.

In Sky, there is a new Spinda Café added, which adds some new mechanics into the game. But, I’ll leave that for you to find out. One of them is a recycling mechanic and another is the lottery mechanic. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Check it out since it will help you in your journey.

When you die in a dungeon, you get kicked back to the start of the dungeon or the mid-way checkpoint. The catch is that you lose some items and almost all your cash. So be careful what you take with you since you can loose it when you aren’t careful.

The music for this game is excellent. There is one song that almost every time hits a cord with me. That song’s name is “Don’t Ever Forget – I don’t want to say goodbye…” and it plays near the climax of the whole game. To avoid spoilers, I’m not going to say too much about it, but it still gives me goosebumps while writing this part of the review. And I’m not the only one. Just go on YouTube and read the comments. Yeah, you will understand what I mean.

The music adds so much to this game. There are so many memorable moments that are made so much more powerful with the soundtrack. So, I highly recommend playing this game with a good pair of headphones. Thank me later.

A quick note about the sound design, it’s great. But honestly, due to the amazing soundtrack, it didn’t pay too much attention to the sound design to comment too much about it.

Snatch that jewel

Pokemon mystery dungeon explorers of the sky 1

This game can be pretty difficult in some places. But, most of those moments can be defeated with some grinding. Yet, sometimes you have or can get lucky and finish a difficult dungeon by finding the stairs on each floor.

In Sky, there are various tweaks at the difficulty. But the random monster houses can be so cheap. I died more than once because of this.

The controls for this game are great. I didn’t have any problems with them. The only annoying thing is that you attacking diagonally is a nightmare. I had to struggle with the controls more than once to do that. Also, attacking at a corner doesn’t work. Your attack always misses. This is fixed in later entries in the series.

Due to the randomized nature of the dungeons you enter, there is a lot of replay value in this game. But, you will miss a skip button for skipping the story bits.

Speaking about that, something that annoyed me was the end of the day after you finished your missions. You go through dinner with your guild and it takes a bit too long. I honestly think that a skip button for this would help. But, that would be tricky since sometimes at night time, you get important story bits. So, I can understand why it isn’t added.

This game’s length is great. If you play through the game to just beat the main story, you will have 30-ish hours of gameplay ahead of you. But, I have read that when you want to complete this game, you have over 150 hours of game time ahead of you.

So, that’s everything I wanted to talk about in this game. I didn’t talk about some parts, but hey, that means there are still surprises for you to find when you decide to give this game a try. So, it’s time to wrap up this whole review in the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Some minor issues like not being able to attack at corners aren’t fixed from the previous entry in the series.

-The bad reception for the Sky version is understandable. Due to the release of Sky, the Darkness and Time versions look unpolished.

-This game could have benefitted from some cutscenes.

-A skip button for the story isn’t here. This would benefit 2nd playthroughs so much.

The good:

+ Great story and writing.

+ Great visuals.

+ Amazing music.

+ Fun, yet sometimes repetitive, gameplay.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you want to give this game a shot, I highly recommend playing the Sky version. If you think the games are worth a replay, you might give the Time & Darkness a chance. But remember, like I said in the review, the Sky version is better since it has much more polish than the originals.

This game is excellent. This game is one of my favorite games in the series and I can’t wait to finish the additional content. I have beaten this game at least 4 times, so that’s why I wrote a review instead of a first impression.

I can understand people who are let down by the Sky version since they played Darkness and/or Time first. But, don’t let it discourage you to not play this game. You would miss out on a great Pokémon spin-off that is slowly growing into an amazing series.

This game doesn’t have too many flaws, but the flaws it has aren’t too big of a deal in my eyes. They didn’t stop me from enjoying the game and having a great time.

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

Score: 95/100

Review: The Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass (DS) ~ My first DS game

the_legend_of_zelda_phantom_hourglass_game_coverWikipedia entry

This game has a very special place in my heart. I love the Zelda series and Nintendo’s handhelds. In my eyes, they couldn’t do anything wrong. So, when the DS was released, I waited until the upgraded DS Lite was released  to buy it. My first game was this game. But, does it still hold up today? If you are a fan of the Legend Of Zelda series, should you play this game? Well, let’s take a lot at this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The Ocean King Temple

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While sailing with Tetra and her crew, you are talking about a ghost ship that’s sailing the seas. Wouldn’t you know it, you run into said ghost ship. Tetra jumps from her ship to the ghost ship. After you hear her scream, you want to you over the ship’s railing to try and rescue her. But, you fall into the water. A fairy awoke you and your adventure began. Your objective is to save Tetra from the ghost ship.

The story is refreshing in my opinion. Since it breaks from the usual Zelda story where you need to save Zelda from Ganon. In fact, Ganon only gets introduced in the opening. When the story of The Wind Waker is recapped.

In any case, the story consists out of two main quests. But, I’m not going to spoil them. Both quests take you on a big adventure and prepare you for the big final battle on the ghost ship.

The writing in this game is perfect in my opinion. I wouldn’t change anything about it. But I didn’t expect less from Nintendo. When I first played this game, I played some parts of the ghost ship late at night. I was supposed to be sleeping, but it was in the middle of the holidays. That night, I had nightmares. The story pulled me in that much. And the fact that I remember an event from almost 10 years ago, is saying something about the game.

If you talk to people who have played this game, a common complaint comes up. That’s the Ocean King temple. It’s a nice idea in concept, but it was done a lot better in Spirit Tracks. It’s a central temple you go through to get a new part of the ocean map. Yet, you have to redo the temple several times making it boring from time to time. Thankfully, some floors had shortcuts with newly acquired items. While the puzzles in this temple are great, the central dungeon in the sequel  had one major upgrade. You could skip to the last floor easily.

Draw on that map

gfs_74258_2_2The controls are not perfect. If you are used playing Zelda games with a controller in hand or by pressing buttons, you will be in for a surprise. Apart from some functions, this game is fully controlled with the touch screen. You can swap between the screens by tapping down on the direction pad. It does take some getting used to, but as a right-handed person, it works. But, it’s a bit awkward to control sometimes. Also, I had issues trying Link to roll. I wasn’t always able to roll him out of harm’s way, which lead to some cheap damage. But that might be just me.

So, in this game, you can make notes on your maps. A feature that returns in a few other Zelda games that followed. This is really helpful since you don’t have to remember sequences or where a certain treasure is buried. You can even find an unmapped island, where you have to draw your own map. This island has a special reward on it, so look for it while you are sailing on the wide sea.

So, you have two major gameplay sections. Firstly, I want to talk about the boat sections. While exploring the endless ocean can be relaxing and fun from time to time. I sometimes wished that the boat you sail on was a speedboat. In my opinion, it goes slow from time to time. Yet, if it had a speedboat feature, some parts of the story wouldn’t have been possible.

You can upgrade your boat by finding parts in dungeons or in caves. Well, honestly, customize the look for your ship. The more you had of a kind, the more hearts your ship has. Your ship gets automatically repaired as soon as you dock at an island. The sailing gameplay works similarly to the gameplay in the Wind Waker. You can jump, shoot cannonballs and similar things. You can also fish for fish and sunken treasure. The fishing mini-game for sunken treasure is different from the mechanic in the Wind Waker. In this mini-game, you have to avoid obstacles and guide your grabbling hook down to the bottom and back up.

The second gameplay part is the exploring of islands and the dungeons. Each area has two major dungeons. Apart from the Ocean King temple, I greatly enjoyed this part of the game the most. The puzzles were creative and they forced me to use some old-school Zelda items in new and interesting ways. It also has a puzzle that took me too long to figure out. One that is solved by a mechanic of your DS itself. That’s all I’m going to say.

Look at that

screen-1For some reason, when I got this game all those years ago, I was convinced that this was a port of The Wind Waker to handhelds. But, now I know that it’s set in the same universe. Visually, this game gives off a Wind Waker-vibe. And it honestly works amazingly well on the DS. I played this game on the DS Lite and on the 3DS. The game doesn’t look dated in my opinion now-a-days, if you have some love for retro games.

The world is colorful and bright. The color pallet makes the world pop even more. While some character models look a bit sharp and early 3D with a lot of polygons, I honestly don’t mind it. This game is eye-candy in my opinion. And the animation is even better. Before this game, I used to play the 2D Zelda games, and seeing everything animated in a 2,5D was amazing. And when the 3D cut scenes came on, man, I couldn’t stop watching them.

The soundtrack for this game is good yet… There were a few tracks that really got on my nerves if I listen to them for an extended period of time. But, these moments were so far and few, I’m not going to fault the game for it.

The sound design of this game really shines when you play this game with a good pair of headphones. Together with the visuals and the soundtrack, it helped to pull me into the game even more.

If you are a veteran Zelda player, this game isn’t too difficult. Yet, to first time Zelda players, this game might be difficult here and there. I think I have died 10 times tops in my whole playthrough. So, yeah. Most of the challenge lies in the puzzles you have to solve.

So, this game also has multiplayer. And I highly recommend it! It’s a lot of fun and it can be really hectic. It’s a two player game. One player controls phantoms and another player controls Link. Link’s goal is to try and get as many gems in the safe zone as possible. The phantom’s goal is to stop Link from doing just that. If you get Link gets hit by a phantom, you have to swap sides.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to wrap up this review with the conclusion and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great art for the DS.

+ Good soundtrack and sound design.

+ Great design.

+ Lovely story and writing.

+ Great puzzles and items.

+ Great multiplayer

+ …

The bad:

-Sailing can be boring sometimes.

-The Ocean Temple could have been so much better.

-The controls aren’t for everyone and need to get used to.

Final thoughts:

When I got my DS back in 2007, I got this game as a bonus present. I tried to avoid being nostalgia-blinded in this review, but I failed in my opinion. I played and replayed this game a lot. It’s one of the favorite DS games ever made.

While I admit that this game has flaws, I had an amazing time with this game. The flaws didn’t hinder my personal experience with the game too much. But, I can understand that some gamers are going to have less fun with this game today. Personally, I highly recommend this game to everyone who loves the handheld Zelda games since it’s a blast to play. There are a lot of collectables to keep you going after you finished the main story.

Also, if you want to play or replay this game… This game can be easily found as a eShop download on the Wii U! Just saying. You can easily start playing this game.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as I enjoyed writing this one. Thank you for reading this review and I hope to be able to welcome you another time on my blog. Have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 90/100

First Impression: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) ~ I’m An Angel!

dq_ix_esrb_dsLink to Wikipedia entry

Lately, I’m playing a lot on my old Nintendo DS. The game that I’m playing is Dragon Quest IX. I have played this game right when it came out, but then I stopped because other games got my interest. I played this game right around when I started playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. In any case, this article will contain mostly my current opinion of the game. I’m currently 10 hours into the game. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article.

Slow start

Dragon Quest IX 2In this game, you play as a character you design and make yourself. Your character is a guardian angel of Angel Falls. At the start of the game, you get a small combat tutorial and introduction to the world.

Everything was peaceful until suddenly disaster strikes. Something happens in the sky palace and you fall down to the world and lose your halo and wings. You fall in the town of, you guessed it, Angel Falls.

After those events, a lot happens. The plot only thickens and gets quite interesting. Yet, the only negative is that the start is quite slow. I was 2-3 hours in before the main quest started.

The writing is very well done. The characters are memorable. While I noticed some minor spelling mistakes here and there, I didn’t mind them too much.

The story feels episodic. When you finish one quest, another path opens and you go to another village to go on a new quest. This works very well in this game. This game is pretty long. If you want to beat the main story, you will have to put in around 50 hours. So, I’m looking forward to the stories I still have to play.

In any case, enough talking about the story. The difficulty of this game is almost a negative in my opinion. If you have read my blog before, you might know that I don’t like grinding for levels that much. It gives the impression that the game is longer then it actually is. This game contains some grinding, but it isn’t too bad. But, the grinding gets old real fast for me.

Buy and wear this shield

dragonquest9_218826In this game, there is something that really every RPG should do. When you buy new equipment, you see your character visually change. Not only in battle, but also in the overworld. This is a great touch, since it gives you the feeling of progression and growth of your characters. I can understand that this could be annoying to some people, since they prefer everything to look a certain way. But I honestly like it.

Visually, the characters and enemies look very well designed. Sadly enough, this RPG suffers from what I call the “multiple paint bucket syndrome”. There are various recoloring of enemies to make new enemies.

While I can understand that it’s hard to always make new enemies for each new area, I believe there are other methods. If you give the recolored version some minor visual changes like make them longer, shorter, wider, bulkier… That would go a long way.

Or you use the same enemy, but you buff them up. Wait, scrap that. Game design wise, this wouldn’t be the best solution. Since that could confuse a lot of players.

So, we were talking about the visuals of this game. The world design is something that is deserves praise. Every area has charm and feels alive. The animation is stellar. In short, I really love the presentation of this game.

One thing to note is that in some battles, I experienced some frame drops. This happened mostly when there were a lot of graphic heavy attacks in a row. Outside of battles, I rarely got slowdowns or frame drops.

You have two options in the control department. You can either use the touch screen for everything or you can use the buttons. Both control schemes work every well. The only feature you miss in the touch screen controls is the ability to swing around the camera a little bit in the overworld. But I rarely use it, so I don’t mind it that much.

This game is a full blood RPG and it has a big world for you to explore and adventure in. A big plus in this game is that you can see the monsters running around on the overworld. This makes it a lot easier when you need a certain item drop or when you need to defeat a certain enemy to complete your monster index.

You can design your own party in this game. You can tweak your party to your heart’s and playstyle’s content. Take your perfect party in to battle!

I can only say one negative thing about the battles. If they would added a health bar for the enemies, that would be amazing. I found it very frustrating that I had to hope that a boss died when I was at low health. It would be very handy to change your tactics.

There is just too much

dragonquestIXIn this game, there are also side quests. I haven’t done many side quests, so I won’t go in-depth. But you can get a quest from a character when a blue speech bubble appears above their head. Most quests I encountered are fetch quests.

But that is just one thing of many things that can entertain you in this game. You can also do alchemy, complete your monster guide or collect party tricks. There is a lot to do in this game. According to some websites, to 100% complete this game, you would have to devote months to this game. According to various sources, you would have to spend over 770 hours. That’s overkill in my opinion. There is just too much to do in this game. But the positive about is that there is always something to do in this game. You shouldn’t get bored with this game if you love playing RPG’s.

The music and sound design in this game is good. It could have been better if there were two or three more tracks in-battle. Since always hearing the same battle music gets a bit old. It’s still a great track, but I wished I heard some other battle music in normal battles from time to time.

In this game, you can only save in churches. You can quick save, but the quick save gets deleted as soon as you restart the game. I don’t know what happens if you quick save and then don’t save. Honestly, I don’t feel like finding that out. One thing, there is only one save slot.

This game offers multiplayer. But, I’m not going to talk about that since I haven’t played this game in multiplayer. And without experience, it would be hardly fair to talk about it.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Besides, if I forgot certain things, I will talk about those if I ever review this game. So, it’s time to wrap up this article.

This game is a very fun game. It’s one of the best RPG’s out there on the Nintendo DS. It does some things that every RPG should do but it also does some things that shouldn’t be in every RPG.

I highly recommend this game if you are looking for a challenge, a big adventure and/or an interesting story. But be prepared to put a lot of hours into this game.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog. But until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

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

Goldensun3.jpgWikipedia entry

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

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

Special powers

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

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

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

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

Fighting like on the GBA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This world is golden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game Quicky: Peggle (PC) ~ Shoot Those Pegs

 

Peggle-PCMAC_US.jpgOfficial website

It’s so disappointing that the sequel to this game only released on XBOX ONE. But wait, I’m getting way ahead of myself. I should take a look at this game first… PopCap, the creators of Bejeweled and Plants VS Zombies, created Peggle in 2007. It has been ported to various systems. Even to systems I have never heard about. But hey, that’s beside the point. It’s time to take a look at Peggle, a game I played on both the PC and the DS. But in this article, I’m going to take a look at the PC version. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

The good

Peggle_for_Windows.jpgPeggle is a pretty simple game. You have a board with different colored bricks, called pegs in this game. The goal is that you hit every orange peg with a limited amount of balls. You get 10 balls for each level, but by scoring a lot of points or landing in the bucket at the bottom of the screen you earn an extra shot.

The game is simple and easy to understand. This makes it quite addictive in my opinion. It’s a fun game to play for a little while and sometimes you can keep playing this game for hours.

You can also record each shot you make, to show off to your friends afterwards. But this isn’t implemented perfectly.

The visuals and presentation are pretty nice. I loved how each character had a theme and the levels stuck with it. The level design felt natural. There were no levels that felt forced to fit a certain theme.

After you have beaten all the levels, an additional challenge mode unlocks. Depending on how your board spawns, these can be easy or really hard.

The two player mode is also really nice. You can take turns to shoot, but here is the catch… You play on the same board. So, you need to plan your shoots well. Since if you make an opening for your opponent… Well, then you can kiss your points goodbye.

The difficulty of this game is really well done. The first levels of a character are rather easy to get you used to their style and power-up… But their final levels really put your skills to the test.

The bad

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While the gameplay is really fun… It can be rather frustrating. The placing of the orange pegs is random each and every time. So this means that it sometimes comes down to luck.

I remember that I had to repeat one level 15 times before I could beat it. And when I played the level a second time a few years later, I was able to beat it on the first try.

The current Steam version offers no widescreen support. This can ruin some parts of the visuals on wide screen monitors.

Earlier, I talked about the recording of your shots. Well, the big issue here is that you can’t easily share them. You have to watch them in-game. I haven’t found another real easy way to upload them to for example YouTube or any other platform.

Also, since this game is on Steam, why can’t you challenge your Steam friends in the two player mode? Because it’s local play only.

The Steam port has so much potential but in the end, it’s nothing more than a port of the original version.

And honestly, I feel like there is nothing more wrong with this game. The biggest issue I have with this game is that due to the randomness, you can get stuck on one level for far too long.

If you are reading this PopCap, remake this game for Steam. Tweak and polish this game up and give this a release. Since this one of your best games you ever made!

Final thoughts

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So, this game is really fun to play for a short burst. But since this game is almost 10 years old now… It’s missing some polish.

I really recommend this game to every gamer who loves high scores and/or a fun casual game.

If this game was a little bit less random, it would be perfect!

So, if I would give this game a score, it would look like this:

8/10.

So,  it’s time to wrap up this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then; have a great rest of your day and game on~!

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

eJa4GArMore articles about gaming music

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

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

Giana-Sisters-reviewFirst Impression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virtues_Last_RewardReview

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

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

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

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

Golden_Sun_Dark_Dawn

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

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

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

Age of Empires 2 (PC) ~ Music 10

1362731523First Impression

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

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

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

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

Wrapping up

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

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

Review: Ace Attorney – Miles Edgeworth – Investigations: Prosecutor’s Path (DS) ~ Not Guilty

AAI2CoverenglishAce Attorney Wikia entry

Some time ago, I wrote a first impression on this game. I know it has been way too long, but I finally finished this game. So, the readers who know me; know what that means! No need to shout an objection! Is it actually good or is it bad? Keep in mind, this game isn’t officially in English. I played a fan translated English rom. If you want to play this game as well, I won’t help you finding it. Piracy is something I don’t want to promote. In any case, let’s get this trail started! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Objection!

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Would it be wise of me to talk about the story when it’s translated by fans? I think it’s actually quite fair to do so. After all, the English players will most likely play this game using the patched rom. Like I (should have) said earlier, I won’t provide information on how to get it.

In any case, the story is written quite well. I actually enjoyed reading and experiencing it. The care and love put into the translation is mind blowing. I haven’t seen any typos as far as I can remember. (And that’s an impressive feet since the main games actually have typos in the game.)

The characters are quite memorable and they have a nice personality. Some old characters return and a few new ones are introduced. In Ace Attorney 5 – Dual Destinies, the actual character development happens mostly in the 5th and last case. But in this game, the character development happens in every case. More then in the 5th game.

Every case was fun to play through. At certain moments, it was tough to keep track of everything since the final case actually somewhat connects to the previous four. If you would play this game, either play it in one go or take notes so you can remember. Otherwise some parts of the story actually get a bit lost.

What really surprised me is that they actually replaced the Japanese voices with the English voices. The voice acting of Miles was simple to get I assume. Just from the previous Miles Edgeworth game. But for the other actors, well, congrats. You did an amazing job. The quality of the voices is also extremely well done. Almost as if they were made in a professional studio.

Gameplay wise, this game is almost the same as in the original. There is one addition, which is logic chess. This is a sort of logic battle where to try and get information out of somebody. It’s more fast paced and it’s the only thing that is timed in the game. Compare it to Phoenix Wright’s breaking of psyche locks or Apollo’s bracelet. The good thing is that it’s well used, but not overused in the game. Truth to be told, it are the most challenging parts in the game in my opinion.

A scoop of a story.

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Alright, visually this game is what you would expect from an Ace Attorney game. Nicely crafted visuals. Again, thank you to the translation team to actually put in the effort to photoshop the art and make it in English. The game is nice to look at. It makes the game that more memorable.

Animation-wise, this game is one of my favorites. While I know for a fact, some things won’t be possible in the real world, the creative approach that the designers took payed off. It really makes the game pop a bit more. It also felt a bit more alive and polished.

The controls, well, if you have problems or complaints in the previous game… They will be here too. If you got used to them, you will feel right at home here. They are responsive and I have nothing to complain about. Only one minor thing and that is in the translation, some controls get explained a bit too late. But that’s only a very minor nitpick.

The music and sound effects, well, they are in my opinion, the weakest link in this game. Don’t get me wrong, it is enjoyable music. But when I’m listening to music from the series, I rarely to go the soundtrack of this game. It just doesn’t want to stick with me enough like with the previous games. The sound effects add to the atmosphere and none stood out as a sore thumb.

No creativity anymore for subtitles.

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Length wise, this game hits that rare butter zone. Apart from the 5th case which was a bit too long, I have no complaints about the length.

Until now, I have been praising this game. And in the end, apart from some minor text issues with the translation like the text that sometimes not appears when you load your game or open your DS or that you can already skip most of the dialogue that you haven’t read… Those issues might all get fixed when the patch isn’t in beta anymore.

The game is a bit on the easy side if you played a lot of Ace Attorney games. Even then, I got stuck on some parts and rethink everything. I could try the “save and try out everything technique” but that’s lame. If you find things out by yourself, its way more rewarding.

Before I go to my conclusion, I think the translation team did an amazing job. I would like to thank them for the amazing translation they did. They also added their names in to the credits. Which is a really nice touch.

If you know how to patch roms and find translations online, I really recommend patching this game to English and playing it. Hopefully, Capcom never does this again with any Ace Attorney game. In any case… I think I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. So, let’s go right on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ The visuals are amazing just like the last games.

+ Perfect translation of this game. The care and love put into this project really shows.

+ Lovely and thrilling story with a true unexpected end.

+ ….

The bad:

– The music is a bit so-so

– Some minor bugs in the translation.

– The game didn’t come over to the west. Such a shame!

– The 5th case was a bit too long to my taste.

Final thoughts:

So, I think this patch was really well done. They replaced all the voice work, the artwork and the text into English. Not only that, they made it bit more interesting to the Western audience. Besides from some minor glitches and one freeze, I think this game is really well crafted.

While I played the beta version of the patch, I didn’t encounter any major issues that would stop me from enjoying the game. Besides the things I mentioned in the article of course.

If only, they release this to the west one day. So, I can buy this game and that I can recommend this game to my readers. It’s really worth it! As any Ace Attorney game actually.

So, I think it’s time to wrap this one up. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. And I hope to be able to welcome you in another article. But until then, game on!

Score: 90 / 100

First Impression: Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl (3DS) ~ Dungeon Crawler with own maps

SoulFinalOfficial website

Back when the 3DS wasn’t released, I played an overload of DS games. More then I care to admit. There was one series I wanted to get into but actually never gave a fair chance. That was Etrian Odyssey. So, two weeks ago, I decided to pick up one of the 3DS games. Since the core game mechanic interested me. Now, I haven’t played many other games besides this the last two weeks. But why is it so good to me? I will explain in this first impression. I hope you are ready, since we are going to the labyrinth. Wait, no… This is real life, not the game world. So, I have to say my usual sentence. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Going old school

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Alright, first of all. I’m blown away by the story. Most of all, I think this is one of the best writing I have seen since I played Corpse Party. Sometimes the writing is as if you are reading a book. While nothing that much happens on screen, the short yet extremely powerful descriptions you are given are enough to immerse yourself in the world and give you the feeling to be there in the world.

The characters are also memorable. The story goes about a girl that lost her memory. But, strangely, the story wasn’t the main focus of the story until the point I played. It was something different. There are other side stories that are all leading up to one interesting setup. It’s almost like a real life as an explorer. There are so many things going on and you try to make the best of it.

The characters are what makes the story even more interesting. They might be your typical hotheaded mage, wise healer, strong (female!) tank and silent main character. Yet, they have been written in such a way that it doesn’t bother the story. The characters even get fleshed out and thrown in day to day situations.

But enough about the story. I can’t praise it enough. What I love the most about this game is the fact you have to draw your own map on the touch screen. This takes me back so many years, when I was first playing The Legend Of Zelda on my cousin’s NES. We both started to draw maps together and tried to find and share secrets that way. The wonder I get when I find an unexplored part on a floor I thought I completed is just amazing.

Music to enjoy.

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So, this game has a very nice map creating tool. It doesn’t punish you by not allowing you to the next floor until every square has been discovered, it rewards you to try and get to hard to reach area’s with amazing treasure.

I’ll talk a bit about the gameplay later. First, I want to talk about something else. The music of this game is really well done. In fact, I even replaced my main ringtone with one of my favorite tracks from the game.

Another thing that also shines in the sound department is the voice acting. The voices are really well done and add a lot of character … to the characters. They also are really helpful. The shout what they think is the enemies weakness in battle. This is where I have some minor nitpicks. The battle system is where some polish of this game … well, I has some minor mistakes.

The “auto” feature doesn’t always chooses the best option to attack and looking up a monster while fighting can’t be done in sub menu’s. That are just two examples of issues I have with the battle system. The randomizing of the characters don’t bother me that much, since that brings some element of luck to the game… Which I really like.

The presentation of this game is what I really think doesn’t need an upgrade. I have barely anything negative to say. Apart from some lazy recoloring of some enemy models, I think they made some eye candy to enjoy while playing this game. If only the added some more ambient sound effects into the game to make it a bit more alive then it already is.

Enjoying this game like mad

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To say that this game is perfect would be a lie. There are some minor annoyances, like the deleting of icons is kinda tricky to do… But most of the things I find are mostly minor. Even the controls, I can’t seem to find any major issues. They are responsive and work pretty well.

I could argue that there isn’t anywhere to heal your party for free, but that just adds the strategy element of this game. You need to keep exploring and find enough items and treasure to sell so you can keep healing.

That price always goes up, from what I understand… along with the levels of your party members.

Is this game for everybody? Well, that seriously depends on what mode you play. I’m playing classic mode. That means I get the full story yet the game is a bit more challenging. I wanted to play a game that could kick my ass if I wasn’t ready for a battle or if I wasn’t paying enough attention. It delivers on that front. With some well placed traps and the introduction of really strong enemies really early, I’m always on my guard.

From what I read, the story mode is much more forgiving. But I wanted a challenge and I’m getting it for sure. And I’m enjoying it. That much, that I had trouble with writing a really coherent article. So, I tried to talk like an excited friend that tries to sell you on this game. I hope I succeeded in that. Even when you aren’t interested in this game, I highly recommend you watch a let’s play episode or something since the game is so well put together, I think it’s a shame if you would to miss out on this. So, I’m going to wrap up this article right here. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And hopefully, I would like to welcome you at another article. Until then, take care.~

Gamer’s Thoughts: Pokémon Spin-Offs

Ipokemonspinoffs-header own and have played a lot of Pokémon spin offs. When I was browsing the Nintendo 3DS eShop earlier today, I thought it would be a fun idea if I wrote an article about them. Since I keep my articles around a 1000 – 1500 words, I might write more then one article. So, let’s get started talking about the Pokémon spin-offs. Also, I’m not talking about rom hacks. Since I wrote an article about those in the past. And as usual feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the games and or the content of this article. 

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon

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If you watched the first season of the Pokémon anime, you might remember that emotional scene where Ash decides to leave Pikachu behind with other Pikachu’s. That feeling of leaving a friend behind is the exact feeling each and every ending gave me in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series.

While the games aren’t perfect if you compare them to other similar games, I think they are the best spin-off games in the Pokémon series. I wish that this series got a bit more love. If you want proof that I love this game series, you might want to read my quite in-depth review of the “Gates to Infinity” entry.

So, if anybody from ChunSoft or Nintendo is reading this article, please make more Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. How you are currently making them, they are nearly perfect. Anyways, I think I better stop talking about this series since I wanted to write this article mostly to give some other spin-offs some time to shine on my blog.

Pokémon Pinball

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When I was young, my mom took me to a clothing store. As a young child, I would usually bring my gameboy along. Yet, in that store there was a pinball machine that kids could play FOR FREE. Yes, you read it right, no coins or anything, it was a free pinball machine.

When I got home, I started to look through my gameboy games and found this game back. I rarely played it but since I saw that free pinball machine I wanted to play it at home as well. In the Pokémon Pinball series, there are only two entries. Which is quite a shame. But they aren’t the only Nintendo-themed pinball games. There is also one of Mario, Kirby and even Metroid.

If you have the chance, I would pick this one up. If you play it on the Super Gameboy, a SNES addon, the blue board will actually appear red. I used to have a picture of that, but I think it was taken with a potato, so I will spare you the cruelty of it.

Pokémon Ranger

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I have talked about this series in the past. I have written an article about the first game in the series. I had a lot of fun with that game, and honestly I still have. It has been quite some time since Nintendo released a new entry of this series.

At first, you might think that this game is nothing more then simply drawing circles, but it’s more then that. It’s a puzzle game and it makes you look in a different angle to Pokémon. Now they are actual helpers to finish your quest instead of helpers in battle.

I mentioned most of my complaints in my first impression article, so I won’t give a long explanation here. It can be repetitive yet it’s so much fun to play. Also, when you look at the later games in the series, you see it clearly evolve into an amazing game. The latest game in the series is one of the best entries ever.

I advice people who where on the fence for this series to give it a try. Read some articles about it. I enjoyed myself with it. The difficulty can be a bit off, but hey, at least it’s something different from the main Pokémon formula.

Pokémon Trozei

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The biggest issue this game suffers from is that the story just seems so well, created just for the sake of having a story.

This game/series is actually a sequel to the gameboy color game: Pokémon Puzzle Challenge. It’s a Pokémon styled Puzzle Quest game. Pokémon Puzzle Quest was more Bejeweled kind of game.

While I’m totally not a fan of the latest free game that they released, I think the puzzle Pokemon games where all pretty amazing. When I’m bored, I sometimes start playing these games. And the time flies by. It’s one of those games that “one more round” really applies.

A big negative of this game is that you are expected to know which Pokémon has which type. If you have that knowledge, some bosses are way more easy to defeat.

A big positive in this game is that when fighting a boss-Pokémon, it will come inside your playing flied and remove some columns. You will have to adapt a new strategy and quickly, since those attacks can hurt quite a lot.

I wouldn’t recommend this game or this series to anyone. I would recommend it to hardcore Pokémon fans, casual gamers and puzzle game fans. Otherwise, this game is a safe one to pass. I’m not saying that these games are bad in any meaning of the word, but they aren’t for everyone.

PokePark Wii

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I almost forgot about this series. While I was about to write the closure to this article, I saw this game sitting on my shelve. These games are quite something.

This game is a more relaxing Pokémon game where you need to make friends with the Pokémon of an area before you can progress to the next one. The way you can befriend a Pokémon is by a race, hide-and-seek, quiz, quest or a battle.

During your adventure, you will get different Pokémon in your party that have different abilities in battle and in exploration. Also, the party games make for quite a nice time.

If you have a young child that loves Pokémon, I urge you to buy this game for them, I’m quite sure they will enjoy this one. I’m still playing the sequel of this game and it’s a lot of fun. When I am in the mood again to play on my Wii, I’ll most likely try to finish PokePark 2.

Closing the article.

Well, I have talked about most of the spin-offs I played. It’s quite clear that I haven’t played some big ones, but I’m planning to change that in the future. I hope you found some new Pokémon spin-offs that seem interesting to you or maybe you enjoyed reading my opinion about a Pokémon spin-off you played.

In any case, I might write a sequel to this article if I played some other Pokémon spin-offs that I find worthy to be talked about on my blog. I hope you enjoyed reading this article and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog. Until then, take care!

Review #039: Club House Games (DS) review ~ Fun For Days.

Clubhouse_Games_coverWikipedia entry

This game has another name in my country. Literally translated it’s “42 Classic Games”. Usually, these kind of games are mostly regarded as bad, since only inexperienced developers create these multipacks to make a quick buck. But when you look at the box-art, you see that the developer is Nintendo. This is interesting, Nintendo made this game. I actually love this game, but is it really good or is it a game that I’m able to overlook the negatives of? Let’s take a look at this game in this review! As usual, feel free to write a comment on the game and or the content of the article. 

Modes

i_clubhouseAs you might have already gathered, this game doesn’t have any story. So, I can’t start with that. So, let’s talk about the actual games inside the pack first.

The main menu gives you an option between single player, multiplayer and settings. Here I have a minor complaint. When you unlocked the 2nd music tune, you can only change it there. It’s a bit bad menu design, but oh well. It’s a nitpick.

If you pick single player, you get three options. Free play, stamp and mission mode. Let’s talk about stamp mode first. In this mode, you get 5 levels to clear with each 8 sub-levels. In this mode you need to play different games and when you loose, you get one stamp. If you draw, you get two stamps and if you win, you get three stamps. When you get three stamps on a certain game, you may advance to the next game.

When you finished this mode, you get something visual in the chat to play around with. But not only that, you will unlock some locked games. There aren’t many games locked, which is actually rather nice and disappointing. It takes away the challenge but it makes it so that most of the games can be played whenever you want.

 More modes

Clubhouse-Games-CWIn mission mode you have different missions. If I remember correctly, 25 missions. When you clear a mission, you get a new icon you can choose for your profile. The fact that you can do these out of order, are actually really amazing.

Some missions are rather hard, so I recommend that you first practice the game in free play, since otherwise you might get a hard time in the mission mode.

In free play mode, you can play any game you want from the pack. The games are actually all board and card games. You can also look at the records. While that view is limited, it’s a neat touch.

Most of the games in the pack are perfect for single player and multiplayer. A few games are only suited for single player and a few games are more fun in multiplayer then in single player.

Some games have some minor nitpicks where they could improve. To avoid that this article becomes to long, I’ll list 2 things I would have changed in the games.

  • In the bowling game, I would have added an option that some players could have had the side railing. Since my younger relatives get frustrated when the ball rolls in the gutter.
  • In most solitaire games when you double click/double tap the card goes actually to a location that it can go. For example, double tapping on a red three makes it go fly to the nearest black 4.

Is it good?

clubhouse-games-20061003100055275So, each game plays really well. It’s obvious that this game is build for the Nintendo DS. Apart from the darting game, I have no complaints about the controls.

The darting game’s controls feel so loose. It feels that your arrow goes where it wants to go, and not where you aimed it to go. It feels floaty and loose.

Visually, this game looks amazing. It’s just perfect enough to draw you in for hours and hours. Talking about that, the game actually rewards you for completing a certain game a couple of times. You get another visual design for a game. That’s just amazing.

What is a huge bonus in this game is how you have a very clear explanation of the rules for each and every game. You can quickly access it by clicking on the rules tab and read about it. There is even a table of content in each rules section so you can quickly jump to the part you want more information about.

 This game has an excellent multiplayer mode. But how good that is, I’ll leave up to you guys for a surprise. The only complaint I have about it is that it lacks stats and things like that. As in, how many times your friends won or lost a certain game. But the positive thing is that you don’t have to have a copy to play this game in multiplayer. It takes a bit longer to load a game but hey, that’s forgivable.

While there isn’t a lot music in this game, the music that is actually in the game is rather catchy. While it doesn’t stick for too long in your head, it’s doesn’t become annoying after a while of playing. When I start to concentrate and getting into a game, I actually totally forget about the music.

I used to play this game a lot with my sister in the past. Nowadays I often play it with my niece. She enjoys it quite a lot. I can’t actually count anymore how much hours I lost with this game, single player and or multiplayer. It’s strangely addictive. Anyways, I think I’ll leave some things up to you guys to explore and find out. It’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The music options are a bit hidden.

– The controls of the darts game aren’t all that good.

– The stats.

The good:

+ Amazing package of games.

+ Great multiplayer. Only 1 copy needed to play with friends.

+ You can unlock things by playing the games that don’t hinder your experience of the overall game.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game was a tricky one to review in the length I usually write my review in. While I tried to take a look at most things, I ended up explaining most of the game.

If you didn’t notice it yet, I wasn’t able to come up with any major flaws in this game. It’s almost perfect. I actually take this game as a sort of benchmark when I play games like this. Not that many games can come close to this game. It’s so polished the minor flaws that Nintendo and Agenda made aren’t all that bad.

That’s why this game deserves it’s score. It might not be perfect, but it’s very close to be perfect.

Score: 100/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: The Visual Novel

Photo-2014-08-21-17-31-45Lately, I see various games appearing on Steam. Visual novels. That interests me quite a lot. But the let down is huge when I find out that it are kinetic novels. What is a visual novel actually and why is it such an underrated game genre? I want to talk about my favorite game genre in this article and hopefully make some of you guys interested in the visual novel genre. As usual, feel free to write a comment about the visual novel games and or the content of this article.

What makes a game a visual novel?

999-.9.Hours.9.Persons.9.Doors.full.934360So, when is a game a visual novel? It’s quite logical that a visual novel is more of a novel then a game. When the novel isn’t interactive, you have a kinetic novel. A kinetic novel is a novel that a movie you can read.

A visual novel has interaction. Sometimes “repetitive actions” and sometimes not. Virtue’s Last Reward for example always has the same gameplay. Solve the puzzle to find the solution to open the safe. Corpse Party on the other hand isn’t repetitive. You have to try and find the other survivors.

A visual novel could be easily confused with a very heavy story driven RPG. Those two genres are two similar, yet different genres. Since visual novels play more on the imagination of the player instead of the skills. If you have ever played an Ace Attorney game, you might have noticed that there isn’t much animation outside the characters. It’s the writing that pulls people in.

Underrated

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What do I like so much about visual novels? I can’t really explain. I think the reason is that I feel more as the main character of a story. I feel that my fate is already planned out and that I have to look for the right path.

Now visual novels nearly have always one solution. Even when a game has different endings, you will most likely come across the final true ending.

Games nowadays are getting “lazy”. The graphics try to paint the most beautiful picture and the sound and music tries to blow you off your chair. But visual novels, that isn’t the goal. You don’t get fancy graphics, you mostly get static images and text boxes.

Somehow, visual novels have the power to make you come invested in a story more then other games have. I rarely felt touched by an amazing game when there wasn’t a deep story. When I’m playing a visual novel, it’s very hard for other games to distract me out of that trance. Visual novels are that good in my opinion.

 Visual novels try to pull the gamers in with clever writing. They don’t try to make it a massive big show, they create an interesting plot line. Think about it this way, how many times did you start to loose interest in the side quests or the side goals and started to go for the main goals in a game?

Maybe it’s just my interest. My favorite game genre is adventures and my favorite subgenre is visual novel. Since I’m interested in interesting stories and such. I can’t honestly really answer why, but I think that visual novels deserve more credit then they get. It has it’s issues of course, like for some people there is too much text, but hey, name me one genre that doesn’t have issues.

Anyways, to close off this article, let’s take a short look at 2 great visual novels I played in my life.

Examples

The Walking Dead

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Even when I’m not a fan of the series, you got to give it to this game. TellTale Games makes excellent modern visual novels. While the typical text boxes aren’t there, the main focus is the story and how your choices influences the outcome.

It’s a great and modern example of an excellent visual novel. Too bad it doesn’t interest me as much as other visual novels do. If you want to know why I’m not such a fan, you might want to read my first impression. But my buddy Zach (aka Dark_Legend) is a big fan of it, so you might want to read his articles about it.

Ghost Trick

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In this game you play as a death cop and you have to solve your own murder. The catch is that you can rewind time to save somebodies life. With this power you try to figure out who wanted you dead.

This game is tricky to place. It’s a visual novel alright but the gameplay… is it a puzzle game? Action game? Adventure game? I don’t really know.

I wish CapCom announced a sequel of this game since it’s a good game. Not only the story but the gameplay was rather interesting. I liked the idea very much and I wish the game was a bit longer.

Closing thoughts

Most visual novels are rather lengthy. I haven’t seen a visual novel you would be able to finish in a week. Actually, I have seen one as the exception on the rule. Time Hollow.

The most irritating thing is getting stuck in these games. Since you don’t have to grind or anything of that nature, getting stuck can get even the most veteran visual novel player to put down the game.

It’s quite clear that I’m not done talking about visual novels. I have some other things I want to mention but that will be for another article. I want to compare the visual novel genre with other genres. Or it might be an idea for a podcast.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for reading and hopefully I can welcome you at another article. Take care.