Tag Archives: easy

Game Quicky: Island Maze (Switch) ~ Each Island Is A Maze

SQ_NSwitchDS_IslandMaze.jpgOfficial Nintendo micrositeDrageus microsite

From time to time, I enjoy trying out cheap games. Especially when I have some budget leftover and I see a game that looks interesting. That’s why I agreed to write a small review article on Island Maze for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a game Drageus Games developed themselves instead of porting the game over. So, let’s take a look at this game with the review copy that the developers provided. Now, in this review, you will find my 100% honest opinion on the game but feel free to leave your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article down below.

Positives

islandmaze1

This game is quite easy to grasp and has an enjoyable concept. The idea is that you get to the goal in the least amount of moves possible. The catch is that you can’t move over a colored tile without the correct gem. So, you have to think about how your dice is going to move over the field before moving.

Now, the game might seem to limit in the controls department, but you have a lot of helpful tools at your disposal. You can rotate the camera, zoom in and out and even undo moves. You can also reserve the camera’s direction when it doesn’t feel right to you to control.

This game allows you to skip levels. Whenever you are stuck on a certain level, you don’t need to play that level. When you complete 10 levels with the least amount of moves, you unlock every level.

The music is quite relaxing. It fits the atmosphere of the game amazingly well. Together with the amazing visuals, the game looks and sounds amazing. Maybe a bit more sound effects would be nice but then again, I think I would get sick of the dice rolling sound effect extremely quickly. Maybe one or two sound effects in the menus would be nice.

Negatives

is_s6

There are a few glaring issues in this game that I want to address.

The first issue is that the undo button only works for one move. So, if you noticed a mistake that you made ten moves ago, you better restart.

Secondly, there is no hint system. So, when you are stuck on a level, there is no way for you to know more. So, if you don’t understand a new mechanic right away… You will have to experiment.

For some reason, the “-” button brings up the controller connect menu of the Nintendo Switch. This serves no purpose in the game at all.

The naming of this game is a bad decision. If you Google: “Island Maze”, the results are mostly the island mazes from Breath of the Wild. If this game was a simple hobby project, I wouldn’t mind it too much. But, I think that in future the developers should pay a bit more attention to the naming in case they want to promote their game online more easily.

This game has been out for a year on Steam. Compared to the Steam version, which is a tad bit cheaper mind you, nothing has been changed. I think that after a year, the game could use some new levels and mechanics to give the game a bit more depth.

Final Thoughts – Conclusion

is_s1This is a good game, but it’s on the wrong platform. The audience for the Nintendo Switch isn’t an audience for quick and short casual games like this game. I think that the game would be better suited for mobile platforms. I felt that touch controls would work better for this game. Honestly, the game gave me that sort of vibe.

Apart from the broken undo system, I don’t see anything wrong with the game. This game is a cheap and enjoyable puzzler that can be entertaining for a rainy afternoon or when you are waiting for the doctor or when you are traveling on the bus or something of that nature.

I’m just a bit sad to see that this game is so short while the concept has a lot of promise. I enjoyed my time with this game but I wouldn’t blame people when they get bored with this game or skip it.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 3/5

Publishing: How to Tell a Hardware Problem From a Software Problem

Jonez note: This article has been written by the fine folks over at https://businessservicesweek.com if you are interested in various topics you should surely take a look at their site. I found this guest post article quite interesting, so I decided to post it. I found it so interesting, I might revisit this topic in the future with my personal advice.

A computer is made up of various different layers and components, all put in place to perform specifically for the computer’s needs. When a computer breaks or has malfunctioned, it can be a big pain and cause various different issues – especially if you use the computer for work.

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When we are subject to a computer issue, it can be hard to determine where the problem is coming from. We have been groomed to just instantly turn it off and on again and pray for the best. But, it is more than likely a hardware or software problem. But, to anyone that isn’t very educated in computer makeup, it can be tough to know which is causing the problem.

The Difference Between Hardware and Software

Computer hardware can be defined as any physical attribute used in or with your machine. So, the hardware inside the computer, or the components on the outside such as your mouse, keyboard, server, and workstation. Hardware is anything that can be physically touched. Without these components to your computer, the software wouldn’t have anything to run on.

Software is a collection of code installed onto the computers’ hard drive, that allows the device to perform. Many systems will divide software into 3 different categories. These are system software, programming software, and application software. These major classes are sequenced in a way that will be able to change the state of the hardware of the computer.

Common Hardware Problems

Most common hardware issues are actually caused by your device overheating, and not being able to dispose of that heat to cool down. This can cause issues with all the components and their performance inside of the computer, disrupting workflow. Other than the underlying cause being heat, another way many hardware issues occur is because of physical damage. For example, dropping or smashing your device can cause the component to shift or even break themselves.

Some noticeable hardware problems can be as follows.

Blue Screen

A blue screen occurs when your computer encounters a failure called a ‘stop error’. The coding of this error causes the computer to completely crash and stop working. They can come onto your screen and produce all manners of information and coding that is being saved into your hard drive disk as it is happening. If this happens, the only way the laptop can be saved is to restart it entirely. This can lead to a lot of data loss, as the applications that may be open as the blue screen happens, do not have enough time to save all of their data.

Noisy Hard Drive

Hard drives, unknown to many, have a limited lifespan and these are something you do need to update every few months or years to have optimum performance. So, if there is clicking or disruptive grinding sounds coming from the inside of your computer, then it is highly likely the hard drive needs to be replaced.

Blank Screens

Having a blank monitor is one of the most common hardware problems. A blank screen is something that is most likely to occur at least once in your time when using a computer. This can be an annoyance if the computer is being used for work purposes or important work, so it’s an issue that would really need to be fixed fast. This problem can usually be caused by loose cables in the back of the computer such as the supply cord or video cable. A simple fix would be too check all of these and ensure they are securely plugged in, to decipher if these are the culprits.

Common Software Issues

Most common software issues are caused due to a bug in the coding sequence or because the system is not working as expected due to an external issue. Software problems can cause a lot of frustration as the software coding in your device is what runs your hardware to work smoothly.

Computer Freezing

A very common software issue in many devices is the incessant freezing of applications or the screen whilst it is in use. As the laptop will now not be able to be controlled by the mouse and no clicks are doing anything, the only option left is to restart the computer. But, instead of flicking the main supply to rid the laptop of complete power, just holding down the power button for 5-10 seconds will allow the device to restart without losing power – hopefully leaving any opened work untouched.

App Command Not Working

Another confusing and troublesome software problem that could occur is apps on the device are not loading or responding when opened. This can be caused by the software trying to load too many applications at once, and it just doesn’t have the power to configure them all. On the other hand, it could be the app compatibility with the strength of the software in your device. It may be possible that the device being used does not have the appropriate coding or sequence in its software to run the app.

Ways around these issues will be to either reboot your device and start on a clean screen with no additional applications running in the background – then start up the app you want to see if it loads. Or, it will be to research the chosen application and the environment it needs to work and compare that to your own device.

Your Computer Boots Extremely Slowly

Although a slow computer can be much of an annoyance, it is luckily one of the easiest problems to fix. The most common cause of the system taking its time to boot up is because there are too many applications trying to load at once in the background as your computer is trying to start too. The best way to avoid this issue would be to set all of the applications on the computer to only load when they are being used. This will stop new downloads sticking to their factory settings and loading as soon as the laptop starts – hopefully allowing your device to start a lot faster.

Conclusion

It is an annoyance for almost everyone when a device has problems or isn’t working properly – especially when it is of great importance to everyday life. It is hard to be able to configure by yourself why the problems are happening and find the cause. Therefore, the most beneficial decision would be to take your device to a repair shop, if the issue continues after reading through the tips and tricks of this article.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

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

My own views on game difficulty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How others think about difficulty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing off

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

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

Review: Lucid Path (PC) ~ Let’s Go RPG’ing

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Official steam page

Today I want to take a look at a game that got sent to me. The name is Lucid Path. It’s a RPG created by Grevicor. I got a review copy of this game to write this review but the developer asked me to give my 100% honest opinion, so that’s what you are going to get in this article. I’m honestly glad that I’m able to try this game, since looking at the screenshots, I’m quite interested in playing it. Also, the developer told me that this is a very short game that throws the player in unexpected and twisted situations. So, you got my attention. Let’s explore those situations then. And as usual, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Misery Loves Company

20181117175122_1The story of this game starts out quite simple. You are tired of your miserable life and you go set out on an adventure. Luck is on your side, since adventure finds you really fast. You come across a village which has a problem with a nearby dungeon. Now, it’s up to you to solve their problem.

Before I continue, I must say that the font chosen in dialogue boxes fits the theming for the game really well. But, it made it tricky to easily see the difference between some letters like the “o” and “a”. Now, I didn’t mind it too much, since I’m pretty fluent in English (…If you need evidence, in what language am I even writing then?) so, I was able to read it without a problem.

You go and explore the dungeon and try to solve the problem. You meet several characters which will aid you in your quest. In addition to that, you learn that there is a bigger problem in this dungeon than just the monsters.

The writing itself is pretty decent. You meet some other people from the village during your quest. Since the game is pretty short, I don’t want to spoil the ending or any more of the story. If you are interested, I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself.

Chilling in the dungeon

20181117180029_1The gameplay of this game is quite relaxing. This game is a casual RPG. The gameplay of this game consists out of playing mini games, choosing when to use your spells and improving your character. Now, what do I mean by “mini games”? When your character takes on a quest, you don’t have to do anything. You play a small mini game on an old computer. Depending on how you do in the mini-game, the faster your character is able to finish the quest.

Each time you go and explore the dungeon, you earn coins and medals. With these coins, you can buy better equipment and with the medals you can improve your stats at the castle. Now, you can also earn coins and medals by doing quests. There are 3 quests you can do. After you have done those three quests, you have to go inside the dungeon to get new ones.

Before I talk about the dungeon, I want to mention the shop. This part of the game still needs some polishing work. There are two things I disliked about the store. The first thing is that you have to drag & drop from and to your inventory to buy and sell. When you try to sell an armor piece you are wearing, that won’t work. And if you double click on something to buy, that won’t work either. This was annoying while I was using the shop. I get used to it, but I felt like I was doing a click too much.

The second thing I disliked about the shop were the colored items. It’s quite unclear with the spectrum is. The ones without a background are the cheapest and weakest ones. Followed by a green background, yellow background, blue background and those with a purple background are the strongest. Now, why not show “lv.1”, “lv.2”… ? This makes it easier to figure out and it also helps colorblind people.

Something I did really like about the store is the fact that the inventory of the store is random each and every time. You can refresh the store’s inventory by spending a few coins. I made sure to check the store each and every time before I went to the dungeon to make sure there wasn’t more powerful gear waiting for me in the dungeon.

The gameplay in the dungeon is a bit too uninvolved. The battle takes places automatically. There are two things you can influence. The first thing is when you decide to use your spells. You can store 4 spells. You have a fire spell, thunder spell, poison spell… There are a handful of them. You can only use each spell once during your session. The session ends when you are out of health. When you are out of health, you go back to the town.

Now, the 2nd thing you can influence in the dungeon is the speed of the game. Now, you can either pause, play at normal speed or play sped up. You even have a button to leave the dungeon early. The leave button isn’t a temporary check point, it’s like a retreat. When you faint and enter the dungeon again, you start at the latest checkpoint. Each five rooms, you get a checkpoint.

About the controls for controlling the speed of the game, I found it disappointing that it was unclear which button was pressed. It would be really helpful if there is a visual identification to show which button you have chosen.

Besides that, there isn’t a lot to do in the dungeon. I found this disappointing, I wish it was a bit more involved. I also felt that the AI of the monsters attacked my character more than your companion. Thankfully, upgrading and improving your character isn’t hard. Each time I trained my character and bought better items, I felt I was able to progress one or two rooms further in the dungeon.

Alright, I have to be honest about something. There are some additional things to do in the dungeon. But, I would ruin a surprise for that. So, if you want to know what that is, you should play this game. The only thing I would say is that there should be more moments like those that happen in the dungeon.

You are able to heal yourself outside of the dungeon by doing quests. These quests give green pearls that heal you. So, you each time you want to heal, you have to play a mini game. You can’t enter the dungeon without full health either.

Now, there is a more involved version of the dungeon and that is the arena in the castle. You can choose between three different tiers and with that you can win an item. Now, you have to press the space bar at the right time to deal more damage. It’s that kind of mini game that you need to press the button when the pointer is in the green area. In the arena, your equipment does not make a difference. So, it’s pure skill based in there. You do have to pay coins to get in the arena. The more difficult the challenge is, the cheaper it becomes. This makes sense, since that way you can’t easy farm the cheap items to have a huge mountain of cash to easily buy the most powerful items.

Now, if this was in the main dungeon, that would make the game a bit more interesting. Since most of my enjoyment in this game came from the times I was playing the mini games and messing around in the town…

Vector mini games

20181117195941_1Now, this game doesn’t automatically save, so if you don’t want to lose any progress… Quit the game using the menu in the town. Now, if you reboot the game in full screen, you might notice that there is some graphical weirdness going on. Just go into the options menu, click the full screen option once to go to windowed mode and click it again to go back to full screen. That fixes that issue.

The mini games are vector based mini games. The first mini game you encounter is a top down shooter that reminded me a lot of Asteroids. Each time you shoot a falling rock, the rocks’ drop speed increases. The faster the rock, the more points it gives to completing the quest. Oh, you have to actually do something in the mini games or your character won’t progress in his quest. After a few floors, you unlock the possibility to play another mini-game for a good amount of coins.

The 2nd mini game is one where you go downward and you aren’t allowed to touch the edges. I personally highly dislike these style of mini games. Now, this is something personal, but I have never been good at this mini game. Each mini game has 2 achievements. There is the “Good at” and “Great at” mini game. Each achievement is tied to your score.

The final mini game felt broken to me. For some reason, the mini game didn’t react on my inputs at certain moments making me loose it. But, that might be because it’s a rhythm-ish style mini game and I’m not that great when it comes to that.

Now the other mini games I will leave as a surprise for if you decide to play the game. They are quite interesting, but for some reason I found myself enjoying the first one the most. In this game the Asteroids one is called Planetoids.

Now, this game isn’t too difficult. Some people will find this game repetitive, but I found it a relaxing experience. It was a blast to play something where I was able to just relax and I didn’t need to take the game too seriously. The game became even more interesting after a few hours of play, it opened up more. But, I won’t spoil that. This is especially true when you think that the game is repetitive. Don’t worry, something unique and fun will happen near the end.

There isn’t a lot of replay value in this game. After you have beaten the game, there isn’t too much different in a 2nd playthrough.

This game is also really cheap. So, if you are looking for an cheap enjoyable game; look no further. Yes, I found the game enjoyable. Especially the charm of the visual presentation. It reminded me a lot of Knights of Pen and Paper. The retro feel while not using true 8bit or 16bit visuals is just pretty to me. The game is colorful and lively and just gives off that relaxing vibe. It also has a lot of charm in my opinion. A charm I can’t get enough off.

The animations might be basic, they were just perfect in this game. Like the sound effects, they fit the theming of the game perfectly. The music, well, it’s something I would like to add to my playlist of relaxing music. I really liked the soundtrack of this game.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game. I think it’s high time for my conclusion and final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The game can be a bit repetitive.
  • Some minor visual issues in full screen mode when booting the game.
  • The shop needs some polishing work.
  • The exploration of the dungeon can be boring.
  • Some UI improvements are needed.

The good:

+ Enjoyable writing.

+ Great music & sound design.

+ Great visual presentation.

+ Fun mini games.

+ ….

Final thoughts:

At certain times, I felt that this game could make for a perfect mobile game. At certain points, I felt like this game isn’t really meant to play in long sessions. This game could be enjoyed more in short sessions.

This game has a lot of potential. There are some flaws that could be polished and patched out but they didn’t stop me from enjoying my time with the game. If you are looking for an enjoyable cheap game, I wouldn’t look any further. This is a great time wasting game.

The biggest issue I felt that this game has is that the game didn’t had enough gameplay. I wish there was a bit more to do, especially during the exploration of the dungeon. Oh well, not every game can be perfect.

I do recommend that you give this game a try and just relax and enjoy the experience. Since, that’s in my opinion the best way to enjoy the game.

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

Score: 70/100

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?

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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

Creative Christmas #7: Present Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find other bloggers their answers here.

Review: Mirillis Action v2.7.3 (PC) ~ A Let’s Player Tool.

action-1Mirillis official website

So, you want one tool that can easily record your screen, your gameplay, screenshots, record only sound, stream to Twitch AND record your stream and much more? In the past, I used various tools for that, but ever since I got contacted by the developers of Mirillis Action, I uninstalled most of those tools. Was this a good idea? Is the software good enough to replace them or does the software have holes? Mirillis gave me a review code. The software is usually 30$. So, let’s get right into the review and talk about how this software performs according to me. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion and/or thoughts about the software and/or the content of the article down below.

Specs and such

Before we continue, I should say that I tested this program on two different machines. Both on my laptop I use for classes and my gaming desktop. My laptop is a Lenovo B50-80, the only modification I did was that I changed the standard 8GB RAM into 16GB RAM. I need that much RAM since I have to run 4 or more virtual machines and each VM can use up to 2-ish GB RAM each. And yeah, if I only had 8GB of RAM, I wouldn’t be able to follow the classes.

Before I tell you the specs of my gaming desktop, a computer I built myself with my uncle, I know that the graphics card isn’t the strongest or best in these modern times to play games on; but I’m happy with it. The specs of my gaming desktop are an i7-4820K CPU (3.7 GHz), GeForce GTX 660, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, 128GB Boot SSD and a 3TB HDD for my data. It’s quite a beefy PC in my opinion.

During the time I tested the software, the software updated twice. From v2.7.1 to 2.7.2 and then again to v2.7.3. While the software update crashed on my laptop when updating from v2.7.2 to v2.7.3, it ran fine on my gaming desktop. Probably a hiccup with files that were in use by Windows Update or something. Thankfully, a simple uninstall and reinstall fixed everything.

 The positive aspects.

action-3I can hear some content creator say already, why do we need this tool? What does it have over OBS Studio, which is free? I think a big plus is how clean the interface is when you compare it to OBS.

You can do a lot with OBS, but it’s all buried in menus. When I used OBS for the first time, I was quite confused how to set it up. I had to use a guide to get started. Most features of OBS are hidden in drop-down menus and that’s a real shame.

In addition to having a better-looking UI, a big advantage in Action is that you have a better indication if you are recording or not. The counter is visibly more present than in OBS Studio.

This tool is much more than a streaming and recording tool alone. You can take screenshots and benchmark as well. These are two quite handy features to have. The more I worked with the program, the more I was amazed by how handy this tool is for content creators.

Some neat features are, you can easily cap the framerate the video, you can set a length of time to record, there is a built-in video converter for the recorded videos. I think that this tool will be quite useful when I’m benchmarking a game for a review or when I want to record some gameplay footage to refer to when I’m writing a review.

Something that might make video creators quite happy is the feature that you can record your microphone audio on a separate track. So, when something happens in-game that is quite loud, you can easily edit that out without having your commentary be too silent.

If you need any help with the program, the help button is not too far away. When you use it, the program will display a very to the point help screen. If you still need more help, you have a button that will redirect you to the website with even more information to help you.

There is also support for greenscreen webcam recording. At this moment, I don’t own a good webcam or a green screen, so I wasn’t able to test out this feature. But, from what I read online; it’s pretty good.

The Action RCU app is an amazing feature, but I’ll talk about that more in depth later in the article.

The negative aspects

action-2Now that I talked about all the reasons why I would recommend this software, here are the things that I didn’t like. Keep in mind, these remarks are made about v2.7.3. It’s possible that Mirillis patch or update their software to make these remarks invalid.

When you open Action, it displays by default a box (called the HUD) of what you will record and how many frames per second it takes. The default location for this is rather annoying. It’s in the top right of your screen. While I understand that the box is more visible there, it’s quite annoying when you have apps on full screen. While clicking the box does nothing, I keep thinking it will open the program. So, I try to navigate my mouse around it. I think it would be better if it showed by default in the middle of your screen at the right-hand side. Then, I realize that you can quickly hide it with F6. So, this is a true nitpick.

Something I miss from OBS Studio is a preview of what the video is going to look like. When you boot up OBS Studio, you see what it’s going to record. This is something you don’t see with Action. So, I had to make a test video every time I tried out some new settings.

A nice feature to have is to easily move the output folders at once to another location. In the current version, you must move it feature by feature. If an option is added where you specify a folder to output and Action creates the 4 folders it needs for the output; that would be awesome.

Something that is missing from the video recording & streaming tab, is an option if you want to record system audio. I would move that option from the options menu to the streaming and video recording tab. Since it’s more useful there.

A huge incoming update

Something I wanted to quickly touch upon is that there is going to be a big update in the feature. Action 3.0 will fix almost every negative I have with the program. The new features will include things like a live preview of the video composition and an improved HUD. Let’s not forget to mention that v3 will have StreamLabs support. You can read more about it and give your own suggestions on this Facebook post.

If you already own Action v2, you will be able to freely upgrade to the v3.

The Action RCU Android App

If you have an Android phone and you are a YouTuber or streamer, you are going to love this feature! When you enable Action RCU in the options menu and install the app on your smartphone, you will be able to control parts of the program with your smartphone. Before I forget to mention it, this is a free app! Yep, free.

In the app, you will be able to start and stop recording or streaming. But not only that, you will see the program that Is recording, how much free space is on the drive you are recording too, how many FPS you have and how long you are recording.

This is an amazing additional feature. I would love to see more promotion of this feature. Since this is going to be a selling point for a lot of let’s players and streamers.

If the app gets updated with these few remarks, I think that the app would be even better.

First, I think it’s quite dangerous that you can connect with any computer without giving a password. I think it would a good idea that you must enter a preset password before the connection is made. This password can be set in the program itself in the options menu. This would avoid annoying roommates stopping your recording without you knowing it. Or let the program pair your smartphone with the program and smartphones that aren’t paired, block them until they are paired.

Second, I couldn’t connect at first to my computer. After a bit a troubleshooting, I found out that some firewalls are blocking the app. I use Avast Internet Security now on my gaming desktop. Right after I made the connection, I can enable Avast again and the firewall doesn’t interfere with the app. There is a solution for this. You can whitelist the program in Avast and the problems will stop. On my laptop, I use Avira Free and Windows Firewall and that didn’t have any problems when I allowed it in the Windows Firewall settings.

Third, I think it would be amazing if a button is added in the app to mute the microphone. In addition to that, possibly a “light” that changes when the microphone is active or not.

Four, this might possibly in the pipeline; but create an iOS and Windows Phone version of this feature. Since the smartphone market is more than Android alone. The developers told me that they will first develop a MAC version of the program before they port the app to iOS. This is planned to start production next year.

Update 28/09: so, there is an iOS version of the app. There will be a version for MAC of the actual program possibly next year. Still, I would love to see a version for Windows Phones.

Five, if a limited record time is set, I think it would be lovely to have a countdown timer of some sorts too.

Six, add a screenshot button! Seriously, one that will be something useful to make thumbnails without having to search around in the video afterward.

And last, why not display the key(s) you need to press to pause the recording also in the app?

Apart from the first two remarks, the other remarks are just additions to improve the app and make it more powerful and even more useful than it already is.

Conclusion

Would I recommend this program? Without any doubt in my mind, I would. This program is already a great tool but with some additional features based on the remarks I raised in this article, I think this program can compete with major names like OBS Studio or DXTory. Besides, the program has more features than DXTory and is cheaper.

This powerful tool is cheap in my opinion and I’m glad that Mirillis Team contacted me to look at their software. Since now I’m a proud owner of a great piece of software that’s going to prove useful in class when I record how to enter commands to configure routers and switches but it’s also going to prove useful to create screenshots for my articles.

The program is already worth the asking price, but it can only grow and improve. The developers update this program quite often, so it’s going to only get better from here on out! In my opinion, this is one of the best recording tools out there right now.

There are a lot more than this program can do, so if this program sounds interesting to you; go and check it out. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this program. 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 another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Gamer’s Thoughts: Are retro or retro-styled games too hard?

retro consolesThe tweet that started that gave me the idea for this article.

A few days ago, the Well Red Mage made a tweet with the very question that is the title of this article. We talked about this a bit back & forth on Twitter. After a few tweets, I thought that my answer would make a great article in my gamer’s thoughts series. I play retro and more modern games, so I think my opinion can matter in the grand scheme of things here. So, here are my two cents. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion about the content of the article and/or the question. 

Are games too hard?

Icon

Back in 2013, I wrote an article talking about: “What’s a retro game“. I asked myself the question, when does a game become retro? For the sake of this article, let’s not go too in depth about that, since we are here to answer another question.

Let’s focus first on the retro games. Games that are at least 15 years old. Are those too hard? This is a tricky question to answer.

Currently, playing games is a more frequent hobby. There are more people who play games than there were in the past. So, modern games became more accessible. This doesn’t always mean that games of today are easier. There are still very difficult games out there like Dark Souls or the Touhou games. Also, let’s keep it general in this article. Since there are always exceptions to the rule.

This does mean that some retro games are less accessible. This makes them overwhelming and more difficult. For example, the first Tomb Raider games. There were no real tutorials or anything of that nature. So, you had to figure a lot out by yourself. Some old Tomb Raider games had tutorials, but they were optional. You didn’t have to play them. This meant that you didn’t learn all the mechanics and moves. But, that has changed. Now, almost every game starts out with a tutorial.

The fact that the gaming industry has changed makes answering the question of this article more difficult. The first commercial game cabinets were published in the late 1970’s and the first consoles came not too long after. The gaming industry is still quite young when you compare it to other media. Nowadays, developers have more experience.

Let’s leave it at that, otherwise, we might be here all day talking about the changes in the gaming industry instead of trying to answer the question of the article. So, are retro games too hard?

Retro games

Wikipedia_NES_PALHonestly, this is too general question to be able to answer. But, I honestly think that it all comes down to the play style a gamer prefers.

A very common issue with older games is that some games required so much time input to memorize each level and area to get the most perfect run. Time, that not everybody has in this day and age.

Additionally, this can be a very frustrating game mechanic. Having to play each level over and over again. So, when we get bored with a game; we simply take another game to play. There are so many games we can play nowadays. Something we lacked in the past, so we tried and tried again until we succeeded to beat the Pokémon Leauge Champion or Doctor Robotnik.

Modern games are spoilt with the latest and best knowledge of the developers. Something that makes a huge difference is the controls. There are more buttons on the modern game controllers compared to the retro style controllers. This means that the developers can give better controls to the player. I grew up with the D-Pad, but I prefer to play platformers with a joystick now. You have better control of your character and this makes the game easier.

Handholding

pokemon-alpha-sapphire-limited-edition-steelbook

Something I noticed in modern games is that they are sometimes too easy. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are a perfect example. I didn’t loose one fight in that game, I was able to beat that game with ease.

That isn’t the only game that I played that I didn’t have a lot of trouble with to beat the game. Perhaps, the fact that I’m older and more skilled with games has to do with it. Because I’m nowadays able to beat sections in games I never got passed as a kid for some reason.

I can’t deny that some games hold your hand throughout the adventure or give you tips that help you to beat the game. Mini-maps and mission markers are great examples. There are a lot of modern game mechanics that make games for the player too easy. Some open world games even lack the scene of discovery. Thankfully, Breath of the Wild fixes this somewhat with its towers. Frustrated Jacob made a great video with this point.

In retro games, you didn’t have the hand-holding or all the mechanics we have today. Making the game more difficult in the process. Does that make the games too hard? No, not in my opinion. It makes them outdated. Does outdated mean bad? Far from it!

Retro games are still a lot of fun and they are still relevant. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have retro-styled games. One of my favorite retro styled games is Retro Game Challenge on the DS. In this game, you play through some games that are inspired by retro game classics like Gallica.

I think that retro games aren’t too hard per se, they are out dated due to older and limited technology. Also, modern games are made with more knowledge about how games work. But, let’s not forget about the impact that the internet has in this argument.

Walkthroughs and YouTube videos expose the secrets of every game in mere days of its release. There are a lot of guides to get the best armor or what the fastest or most optimal route is through a game. I think that the impact of the internet speaks for itself here.

So, are retro(styled) games too hard? No, not really. They just use mechanics that have been improved and perfected over time. Games are more accessible now.

I would love to hear your opinion about this. Do you think that retro games are too hard and why? Tell me in the comments and maybe I write a follow-up article using your comments.

But, that’s everything I wanted to say about this subject for now. 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 artice but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Ever Oasis (3DS) ~ Sunny Desert Adventure

Ever Oasis.pngOfficial website

So, Nintendo released a new IP. It’s called Ever Oasis. I honestly pre-ordered it and currently, I’m over half way with this game. In this article, I’ll tell you if this game is worth to be bought and be in your collection. I pre-ordered this game since I got very interested when I saw it in the E3 2016 and E3 2017. But enough introduction, is this game a good or a bad purchase?  As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Sandy Dunes

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(2)

In this game, you play as an Oasis Chief. The main character has no real name since you can decide it for yourself at the start.

When I started this game, I was disappointed by one thing from the start. This game has no voice acting nor any sounds that the characters make while they speak. This is a true shame since a bit of the charm of this game is lost because of it.

Anyways, the story itself. You start out in the oasis of your brother. You learn some basic things about what an oasis is. The oasis is a very calm and peaceful place. But, that all changed when the fire nation— I mean Chaos attacked. This “Chaos” turns innocent creatures into nasty monsters and expand the desert. Your brother transports you to safety while he deals with trying to his oasis. You end up at the last Water Spirit and you start your own oasis together. Your main mission is to try to defeat Chaos before it does any more harm to the world.

The writing in this game is really enjoyable. Due to the lack of voice acting, I wasn’t too immersed into the story. Well, there are some sound effects when the characters talk but it isn’t enough to give character to the characters. It just didn’t click enough with me.

Also, during most of the game, the story plays it a bit too safe. I wish a bit more things happened instead of the repetitive nature of the story. At first, I had trouble explaining why the story wasn’t clicking with me. The writing was enjoyable, so that couldn’t be it. Then, I suddenly realized it. There are two big issues with the story.

There is a serious lack of character development. You barely get to know the people of your oasis. There is no real struggle that can happen in your oasis. No shop keepers that can get jealous of other shop keepers or arguments you have to fix. When you finish a quest for somebody, they rarely to never ask you something again. This makes characters somewhat forgettable and that’s a shame.

The second problem with the story is the pacing.  I’ll expand on this a bit later, but due to the pacing, the story always continues forward in a straight line. Like I mentioned in the previous part, there is no character development. Each time you solve somebody’s problems, a new character gets introduced.

Too short?

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(6)

Due to the pacing, you got through this game at a pretty fast pace. This gives me the impression that this game is rather short. But it isn’t too short. An average playthrough of this game can last you 30 to 40 hours to complete the game.

The pacing could have been better if there was more downtime between the main story elements. Since then, I could explore more of this game at my own pace. But, that main story arrow is always grabbing my attention.

Something I really like about this game is that this game looks amazing. The animations of the game look amazing as well. The visual presentation of this game is just great. You really feel you are in some oasis-type area with a lot of Egyptian-looking areas and caves to explore.

Also, the map of this game is rather big. Thankfully, you have some quick travel points that you can use to quickly travel to some place if you need to be somewhere for a quest and you don’t want to go the long way.

When you play this game, you will quickly realize that this game took inspiration from the old-school Zelda dungeons to make its own dungeons. When you are a big Zelda fan, you will feel right at home in these dungeons. The only big difference is that you have to make use of each character their special abilities if you want to find each secret chest.

Yet, the exploration could have been improved by two things. The first thing is a sort of ‘note system’. Like the beacons in The Legend Of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Like, I want to explore this part of the cave later with another character. Thankfully, there is the Aqua Gate mechanic. This warps you and your two allies to the oasis so you can switch characters easily and warp back to the spot you warped from. So, this isn’t too big of an issue, but it would be a lovely feature.

But the second thing that could improve the exploration is to get rid of the only 2 allies limit. You can only bring 2 allies on your journey at once. But, the caves and areas you explore have sometimes more than three things that can only be activated by special abilities at once. So, I have to use the Aqua Gate too much to finish a dungeon.

Hiya!

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(4)

This game allows you to play every ally you have during your exploration. By simply tapping down on the D-pad, you can take control of the other character.

The controls itself are excellent. I rarely had problems controlling my character nor would I change anything.

The difficulty of this game isn’t too brutal. If you know what you are doing and how each character fights, you beat each enemy you come across. But, use your healing items wisely. Since they are a bit too grindy to craft and they are pretty rare to come across in the wild.

There is a mechanic that makes a fainted/dead character more interesting. As soon as a character runs out of energy, it gets healed back up automatically. But, you can speed up this process by spamming the “A” button near the corpse. This is dangerous to do however since you leave yourself open for enemy attacks. Something I truly like in this game is that it isn’t an automatic game over when the main character dies. You automatically switch over to another character.

One of the most interesting features of this game is how much health you have and how a character gets stronger. Let’s first talk about health. Each character has his or her own base health. But, you get some additional health depending on how well you clean up your oasis and how stocked you keep the shops in your oasis. The better you upkeep your oasis, the more additional health your characters get.

Let’s talk about how characters level up or better said, get stronger now. You only get experience points when you return to the oasis. This makes grinding a bit more annoying since you don’t know when to stop. But, this makes it more interesting since you don’t know when you need to stop.

Lastly, I want to talk about the soundtrack of this game. I really enjoy listing to it. I even consider adding it to my soundtrack playlist. It fits the theme perfectly. It adds so much additional character to the game.

In conclusion, at this moment in time, I think that this game is worth a playthrough if you like adventure games like the Zelda series. But, this game isn’t perfect. It’s sad to see that there is so much potential with this game. Maintaining the oasis feels more like a side part of the game than an actual part of the game. I honestly think that I expected more from this game and also I expected more focus on the oasis than on the exploration.

I do have to beat this game before I can form a final opinion on this game. There are two save slots so I can restart this game easily when I want to mess around a bit in this game.

In any case, thats everything I wanted to say about this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Preview: Spinnortality (PC) ~ Immortal Empire

spinnoralityOfficial website

Today we are going to take a look at a game that lets you build a huge empire. A game where you can become immortal and conquer the world. The game currently isn’t released to the public, but I got the chance to play the development version. The game will also release on Steam, since it got greenlight. I also want to stress that this article isn’t a paid review or promotion. In this article, you will find my honest opinion on the game. Also, beware, since this game is still under ONE MAN development, things I mention here might change and/or improve in the final version. But enough introducing of the game, it’s time to give this cyberpunk tycoon adventure a start.

The current planned release this is 31st August 2017, but this is subject to change.

Control it all

spinnortalityThe goal of this game is to become immortal and conquer the world with your empire. In this game, you can control everything that your mega-corporation does.

Want to get a special law passed in a country? This game has it. Want to control media? Yes, this feature is in the game! Want to rig elections? Guess what, this is also a feature in this game. There is a lot more to do in this game, so it’s advised that you play through the tutorial.

In the press build, I think the tutorial could use some improvement. Since there is a lot you can do in this game, I honestly think that it would be better if you were able to replay certain tutorials. Basically, that you have a list of missions. Each mission is a tutorial. This way a player can replay a tutorial if they want more explanation about a certain part of the game or when they forgot how something worked.

After I played the tutorial sections, one thing was clear to me. This game isn’t for casual players. There is a lot of things you need to keep track of. Since this game is turn based, you could argue that you could play this game in short bursts, but I wouldn’t recommend that.

The gameplay of this game is simple on the surface but it’s very in-depth. The only thing you will need for this game is a mouse. You rarely need the keyboard, only to input your name at the start and/or the name of your save file.

Too much for me

spinMy first few playthroughs of this game left me confused. I honestly think there is too much to do from the start in this game.

After some time, I got used the mechanics of this game. I learned how the game worked after replaying the tutorial for a few times. Again, read the tutorial carefully. I think this game would be improved if there is a “Help” button, where certain things are explained that were explained during the tutorial or like a “What does this thing do?”-sort of button. Where you need to click on and then you click on another button to get some explanation.

Basically, I think the biggest issue in this game is that the game is a bit overwhelming to new comers. If you don’t play a lot of management games, you will get lost in everything you need to keep track off in this game. The game is fun and well put together, but like I said, it isn’t newcomer friendly.

Also, you need to take your time to play this game. If you click on everything just to advance your turn, you will lose all your money before you know it. Take your time and think everything through while playing this game.

In the press build, there were a couple of bugs. But, I’m not going to hold this against the game since I told them all to the developer so he can fix them before the game launches. Most of the bugs were minor things that could be improved.

Spin that globe

spinnySo, now that I have talked about the gameplay, I think it’s time to talk about all the other aspects of this game.

I love how you can save and load your game at any time. This is very handy since when you made a wrong move, you can easily load an older save file to try and fix your mistake.

Visually, the game nailed its theme. The game looks quite good for being created by one man. I really liked the animation of the moon going around the globe, very well done. While there is a lot to keep track off, the UI is very well built too. All icons give a great representation of what options you could find where. The only thing I would improve is to make sure you can easily see what’s a clickable feature and what not.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the music. I really enjoy melodic music, and this game doesn’t have that. Is the music bad? No, I have heard and played games with much worse music. The music adds a lot to the theme and presentation of the game, but it isn’t my cup of tea. Some tracks were enjoyable like the menu theme, but some tracks used in this game weren’t to my liking.

During my play sessions, I had one idea I would love to see implemented in the game. When you start a new game, you can choose a region where you start. This will also decide your currency. You could take this idea even further with making it more tricky to change laws in other parts of the world. For example, a European based country has it more difficult with changing a law in the North America.

But, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to give my final thoughts.

In conclusion, at its current state, I don’t think it’s ready for release just yet. It needs some polish to be “easier” for non-management gamers to understand the game. Apart from some minor bugs, everything works pretty well.

The game is interesting and unique. Would I recommend this game? Currently, I would recommend it to people who enjoy games like Europa Universalis IV and games of that nature. Otherwise, this game isn’t for you and you might not enjoy this game at all. This game truly has potential to become a great game, but it still needs some work.

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

Note: The developer told me that he will work on making the experience better for newcomers when the game is released.

Game Quicky: The Legend of the Dark Witch (3DS) ~ Also on PS Vita!

TM_3DSDS_TheLegendOfDarkWitchChronicle2DACTOfficial website

A little while ago, I posted about this game coming to the PS Vita. Now, I played this game on the 3DS. So, now that the game is released on both the 3DS and the PS Vita, it’s time to take a look at the game. Is it worth a purchase or is it should you avoid this game? Let me give you my opinion. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the article and/or the game. 

The good

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The soundtrack of this game is quite good. There isn’t any music track that I didn’t like in this game. If the developers would sell a CD with the soundtrack on it, I’m quite sure I’ll buy it.

Visually, this game has quite a lot of charm. Every world you visit has a certain theme and is decorated quite nice. The game is in my eyes, eye-candy.

This game has a lot of replay value. This is because you can choose the order to tackle the stages. There are 8 stages which you have to beat twice to beat a certain stage. Also, each stage has two hidden power-ups. So, you have a reason to go through each stage more then once.

Each stage is themed. And like I said earlier, the visuals are pretty nice in this game.

The controls of this game are tight and responsive. I rarely had any problems that I could blame on bad controls. The game isn’t the easiest of games, but all my deaths were my fault.

You can power up your character with points (called Tres) you earn during the stages. Something I really love is that you don’t loose your points when you die in the stages. This gives the impression of character growth.

You can downgrade the difficulty once. You can’t go back to the normal difficulty when you are on the easy difficulty. So, if the game is too hard, you can go from the normal difficulty to the easy one.

This game is extremely cheap. It was 3€ when I bought it, and you get your monies worth!

There is a challenge mode in the game. In this challenge mode you get a challenge like “Defeat boss X without taking damage.” So, more replay value for you!

You have infinite continues in this game. So, when you get a game over, the worst that happens is that you need to restart that stage. You don’t loose any Tes nor any overall progress. That’s a big plus in my book.

The in-between (not good but not bad)

darkwitch.jpgIt’s quite clear that this game is inspired by games like Megaman on the NES. And the difficulty shows that. On the hardest difficulty, I died so many times to very cheap enemy placement. Yet, when I started to memorize the level, I was able to avoid the enemies.

Something they also implemented in this game from the Megaman games are the knock backs when you get hit. Believe me, when you die on the same spot several times because you get knocked back into a bottomless pit, it’s annoying beyond believe.

The title screen isn’t a mixed bag in my eyes. The title card is very pretty but the bottom touch screen only shows “version 2.0” and it totally black. That’s a shame, since that’s a lot of unused space.

The bad

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There is voice acting in the game, and it’s done pretty good. Yet, it’s all in Japanese and there is no translation. I wish there was either a dub or English subs.

Due to the lack of an intro cutscene explaining the basic story, I find myself skipping the dialogue when a boss battle starts. It’s a shame, since what I have read so far, the story looks interesting.

In normal difficulty, health pick ups are so rare to non existent, it’s a shame. I played this game on the easy difficulty, and the health pickups do exist.

If you pick this game up, I advise you to read the in game manual before you start playing.

Conclusion

This game is a very good game. If you have a bit of money to spare on the 3DS eShop or on the PS Vita, go and buy this game.

When you enjoy old-school Megaman games and want a new challenge, this game is one for you. While the game is quite a lot of fun, it can be very irritating sometimes. This game lacks some polish in the enemy placement but overall, you get more then your monies worth.

The negatives of this game can be game breaking for some people. But, for each negative, there is a positive.

I haven’t finished this game yet, but I’m enjoying myself so far. This game is perfect to play while waiting for the doctor or while I’m on the train to work. If I have to give the game a score now, I would give the game a 3/5.

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

Game Quicky: Sphetory (Android) ~ Ball Thrown

Sphetory_1024x500_4pda.pngDownload link from Google Play Store

This week, I had a cold during a heatwave. So, I didn’t play a lot of games this week. Yet, one Android game caught my eye. I played it several times. I found it strange since I rarely play Android games. The only time I play Android games is when I have to wait for the train or something along those lines. I haven’t gotten too far into the game but I still think it’s worth talking about it. If you are interested in this game, I personally recommend a tablet or a smartphone with a big screen. Since you will need it. In any case, enough rambling! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The bad

Sphetory_2.png

So, these are the reasons why you shouldn’t play this game:

The soundtrack is a bit lacking. I have only heard one song after three levels. While the song really helps to set the mood and atmosphere, I wish it had one more song to change it up here and there.

When I was in the options menu, I wasn’t able to adjust the sensitivity. It stayed at 4. Speaking of the option menu, you are unable to adjust the options when you aren’t in-game. You can change the language in the main menu, but not in the option menu.

Looking at the “Select Level” option, you will find out that this game is rather short. Honestly, I wish it had a bit more content. Since the potential is there.

The good

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This game is a puzzle platformer. In the first level, you get a ball you can throw. It bounces around when it hits a wall. In the first level, this is used to hit switches so you can progress.

In the second level, a mechanic is introduced. When you throw the ball, you can press “B” at any time. Then you will move on the traveled path of the ball. As soon as you press B, the ball will stop traveling. So, you will have to time your throws so, you don’t press B when the ball left the platform. Since then, you fall to your doom.

Something that’s even more interesting is that the path stays. So, for example, you throw the ball in a straight line. When you press the B button after you landed, you don’t have to throw the ball again, since when you press the B button again, you travel on exactly the same path.

The punishment of failure is somewhere in between. When you fail a jump, you are sent back to the start of the puzzle. While I wish I wasn’t set back that far in certain sections, I wasn’t set back to the start of a level.

Also, in this game, you can slow down time. This is very handy to move over certain moving platforms.

I was able to quickly get used to the controls. When you press on the left-hand side of the screen, you move your character. When you press on the right-hand side of the screen, you move the camera. The A button throws the ball, the B button travels on the ball’s path, the clock button slows down time and the pause button… well take a wild guess.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I love the atmosphere in this game. It feels empty yet safe. It feels cold yet colorful and warm. And for those who are interested, I rarely experienced any lag or major slowdown in this game.

Also, surprisingly enough, this 3D game isn’t a big battery drain. It didn’t drain my battery too much. I only saw a decrease of 10% on my ASUS tablet.

One big amazing plus in this game is that this game is free of charge. And I didn’t find any annoying ads between gameplay!

The conclusion

This game contains a lot of trail and error. Yet, it feels very satisfying after you have beaten a level. I highly recommend this game for people who are looking for an interesting experience on Android.

While this game is playable on small screens, I don’t recommend it. Since it’s a big advantage when you see the whole room.

This game took me by surprise. Since this game is something that works very well on mobile devices.

While this game has some flaws, I think this game is really worth your time.

Anyways, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Feel free to drop by in another article, I’m looking forward to it. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS) ~ Tactics Galore

PS_3DS_FireEmblemAwakening_enGBOfficial website

So, the start of 2016 brings a boatload of amazing new (3DS) titles. But one game got me addicted to my 3DS lately. It was that one game I wanted to try out but never gave a fair chance. I always thought that strategy games like these weren’t my thing. But why, does it bring me so much enjoyment? And is the game a guilty pleasure or something I could recommend to anybody. Well, it’s time to take a look at this game and what I think of it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or of the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

Tactical RPG

Fire_Emblem_Awakening_gameplay

After hearing so much other content creators (bloggers and YouTubers I watch) talk about this game, I decided to give it a chance. First, I played the demo, and almost right after finishing the demo, I bought the full game.

The first thing the game does right is the character creation. You decide how he or she looks and how his or her voice sounds. Finally, you can play a character that isn’t a silent one. A character that actually is a part of the story.

About the story, you can play this game in two different ways. Classic and normal mode. In classic mode, when a character dies, it’s gone for good. In normal mode, you can keep the character. It returns after the battle is over. This is something I really like. I’m not that good in tactical RPG’s. I’m afraid that one or two stupid mistakes might screw up my progress and put me in a battle I might never win. That’s why I love the normal mode so much. After I finish the game, I might give classic mode a try since I honestly feel that I’m missing the entire point of the series.

So, the story I have seen until now is quite decent. I finished the first part of the game and I’m having the impression that it’s structured in a sort of anime show format. Like each battle is a separate episode of an anime. And a good one at that. But where the story really shines is that you can influence parts of it, yourself! How you fight your battles will decide who marries who. Oh yeah, that’s a thing. Shipping is totally a thing in this game.

Different and unique

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So, thanks to the “shipping” mechanic, each playthrough of this game are pretty personal. I might pair up my characters differently than somebody else. But enough about that, let’s talk about the gameplay.

And in this game, it throws in so many options for you… I’m amazed at how accessible this game is. If you use only your powerful characters, you don’t level up your weaker but very useful characters. I’m now in a situation where I have to be very careful with my archers since I haven’t used them a lot. This makes me very weak against certain units and is my current weak point of my army.

In this game, you are the tactics master of the kingdom. So, you decide who runs where on the battlefield and when to attack or fall back. This game also works in turns. So, after you moved your character, it has moved. After you moved all your characters, your turn ends and your opponent’s turn starts.

Once your unit has moved, you can’t undo the move. I wish I could do that sometimes. But the game has a solution for that, it’s the dancer. They dance to motivate your warriors to give them one additional turn.

Explaining how this game works could take me a while. But compare the battle system a little bit to how the battle system in Pokémon or any turn based RPG works. Only two differences, your enemy attacks back when it can in YOUR turn and weapons can and do break after repeated use.

While I haven’t played many tactical RPG’s, I want to try out more. Thanks to this game. The gameplay is a lot of fun when you like planning ahead but sometimes changing your strategy to get out of dangerous situations. If you like to play games like Age Of Empires or Advanced Wars, this is game for you.

The Fire Emblem

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So, there are still a few things I want to talk about. First of all, the voice acting is something I have a love-hate relationship with. It’s extremely well done but it falls short sometimes.

When a cutscene plays, only some of lines are spoken. And sometimes, a random line is said to give the emotion more meaning. This can be distracting for some people when the voice acting is saying something completely different than the lines on the screen. While it annoys me here and there, I don’t mind it that much personally.

Visually, this game looks amazing. Graphically this game is really nice done. A good example is that the character portraits change depending on how they are doing in battle. Or better said, how much health they still have left.

But what I love the most about the visual presentation is how the game is animated. When your characters level up, they do different moves. It’s something I can’t explain and you should see for yourself to understand. It really helps to immerse me into the game.

The sound design and music is something… well… It’s one of the best soundtracks I have heard in quite a while. I actually want to buy the soundtrack to add to my collection. I like it that much. It really helps to set the mood.

I think I’m going to wrap up my first impression here. While I have some minor issues with the menu design, they are really nitpicky. In any case, I feel that I can fully recommend this game to any person who likes to play strategy games, RTS, Tactical RPG’s… This game is something I wish I tried sooner. Since it’s a series I’m becoming a fan of.

Game Nostalgia: My past with casual games

Arpegi BackWhen I was younger, I used to try and recreate popular games. I made a Pac-Man clone and a BreakOut-clone is a sort of drag-and-drop engine. It was rather easy and required almost no programming knowledge. I was inspired by the various games I played from Popcap, GameHouse or Reflexive Entertainment. Yeah, I played casual games and enjoyed them a lot. Being a gamer doesn’t mean you need to play hardcore games all day. Today, I almost spent the whole day watching my favorite TV-series and playing casual games. So, let’s dig up a few games off my past and let’s talk about them. Are they any good or are they just games for the gamers who take gaming not that seriously? Let’s dive in! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion about the games and/or content of the article. 

Casual games aren’t real games.

Let me be clear on one thing. The games I played in the past where games from the developers of Peggle, Plants vs Zombies, Dinner Dash, Cubis 2, Luxor and others. The issue with these games are that they can be produced rather quickly. I’m not saying that they can be created without a lot of effort, but when I saw how quick some publishers could publish the games… It was kinda scary. Once I saw a game becoming really popular in the summer and the sequel dropped around the holidays at the end of the year.

I think the crowd for these games is a different crowd then the games I play now-a-days. But there is one thing that these games do that other studios should take a lesson from. They created a version of the game that you could play for 60 minutes. When your 60 minutes where over, you got a screen where you had to purchase the game. The big thing here was, you were allowed to play the full game without any major restrictions. This is how you should create a demo for these kind of games.

In my eyes, they are real games that we can play when we feel like playing a game but don’t feel like playing a big budget game. Or in-between releases. I’m even happy to see that some games hit mainstream and got accepted by the hardcore community. As a personal sidenote, I feel I float somewhere in that middle zone. I play a lot of different kind of games. The main thing I care about is to have fun with my games. They deliver on that without any doubts. In any case, I think I made my point. Now, let’s take a look at 2 of these games I played in the past and I’ll tell you why I think they are worth playing.

Games, games and more games.

Dream Chronicles

Dream_Chronicles_1_LogoBack when I still made YouTube videos I played this gem of an adventure game called Dream Chronicles. When I discovered this game, I was highly into dreams and their meanings. I believe that a dream can try to tell you a story. It can also be a tool to help you process an argument or something else (un)pleasant that happened on that day.

The story in this game is what took me off guard. It started out like a “already heard, already done” story at first, but nearing the middle of the first game and certainly in the sequel, that completely changed.

This game series is one of my favorite games in the casual adventure games genre. I highly recommend this game to anyone who wants to play a relaxing adventure game with interesting puzzles and a thrilling story.

One negative, one huge flaw in this game is that KatStudio’s and PlayFirst (the developers and publishers of this game) … well, it went a bit bad. It’s not exactly clear why but the ending of the 5th game became rushed and awkward. It opens up so many doors to a 6th game but it got cancelled.

Puzzle Inlay

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This game is created by a few people. It was created in a puzzle lab. In this game you have to fill a figure with certain blocks. You get them at the bottom. The fuller the that bottom becomes, the worse it is for you. You get a few powerups like a hammer or a wand that changes all/several blocks to usable blocks.

I got hooked on this game a lot, so I played the sequels and spin-offs. The two I played the post were Adventure Inlay and Magic Inlay. These games offered a bit more then the original. Puzzle Lab did a really good job with those.

In Magic Inlay, you have final bosses. Most of them mess with your tray or with your already placed blocks which made for some quick thinking moments.

In Adventure Inlay, the game offers a bunch of different game modes that change up the gameplay quite a lot.

Honestly, I recommend Puzzle Inlay to the big puzzle fans. If you love puzzle games, this is one you should really check out, it’s a relaxing puzzle game that will entertain you when you are waiting for that next big puzzle game to play.

Conclusion

Well, I have a bunch of games I still want to talk about. But because I haven’t played them in such a long time, I didn’t include them in this article. So, I’m not planning to write a sequel on this article but rather take a look at the games I still want to talk about in a game quicky. I want to take a more in-depth look to Magic Inlay and Adventure Inlay even.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this look in my past. I would love to hear from you guys which casual games you tried. Did you enjoy your experience? Did you compare them to the big budget games? Actually, that’s an idea for another article. How “good” are casual games compared to the big budget games.

In any case, I hope to welcome you in another article on my blog. But until then, have an amazing day!

Game Quicky: Cubis 2 (PC) ~ Puzzle Game

49146489.mumbo-jumbo-cubis-2-pcOfficial website

On my Twitter I said, I felt uninspired tonight. So, this week’s article will be a rather short one. At first I was doubting to even write an article at all. But then I found this game again. Cubis 2. A game that was on various platforms back in the day. A causal puzzle game from a very unknown studio. In the USA, it was released by Mumbo Jumbo. Here in Europe, it was released by Easy Interactive. The European publisher is unknown to me. I barely find information about it. In any case, let’s take a look to this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the game.

Gameplay

shotSo, the goal of this game is rather easy. Get rid of the cubes. You can shoot cubes from the bottom or the right side. You can stack a max of three blocks.

When a block falls, it cracks. A cracked block disappears when you shoot a block through it. A half block can slide under other blocks while full blocks just push the block away.

When three cubes of the same color meet, they disappear. If any blocks besides that have the same color, the suffer the same fate. Star blocks are worth more points.

There is one other block I’m forgetting. That is the ghost block. This block can change the color of the block it touches. The other details of the gameplay, well… If it interests you, a version of this game is easy to find and play.

In the puzzle mode, your goal is to get rid of all star blocks before the time runs out. In arcade mode, your goal is the same but you don’t need to remove all the stars from the board, you need to get rid of a certain amount of blocks.

The positive

FG_Cubis2_Screenshot_2The visual presentation of this game is rather good. You have various visual styles you can easily switch between. (While a change in visuals require a reboot of the game. 😦 )

The game plays nicely and barely requires a tutorial. Once you got the hang of it, you can play it for hours.

While 50 levels might sound limited, you have a level creator. There the sky is the limit. Well, your creativity actually.

The interface is informative and displays everything in an orderly fashion. No big complaints there.

The music and sound effects are neat. The suit the game quite nicely. While I would think that the game could have used a bit more music tracks… I don’t mind it that much.

Since this game is based on color puzzles, I find it a really nice touch that they included an option for colorblinds.

The negative

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So, this game has some flaws. You can’t share your level creations easily. That’s a first major flaw in this game.

Also, when I visited the creator’s website, Google Chrome actually blocked it.

What ever game mode you click in the main menu… It’s irrelevant. Since you get sent to another menu to select your level and such. Where you can switch game modes again. The main menu and level select menu could have been merged into one.

Also, the two game modes are just too similar in my opinion. This is a real bummer, since you can get very creative with this gameplay style.

But the biggest flaw in this game is that no matter if you play the puzzle or the arcade mode.. You play the same levels. That’s lazy in my opinion.

Alright, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Let’s get to the conclusion.

Conclusion

This is a casual game that is okay. If I would score it, I think I would give it a 65/100. It’s a small game that went somewhat big. It has some major flaws that my inner critic can’t overlook. Yet, this game can be fun to play.

A funny fact, my anti-virus actually stopped me from installing this game. It matched some signatures. I sent them a mail to report this false positive. I didn’t had any replies yet.

So, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to meet you at another article. But until then, take care!