Tag Archives: emulator

Gamer’s Thoughts: How to play mobile games on your PC.

CaptureOfficial website

For some people, it isn’t easy to buy the latest and greatest phone to play the newest and greatest Android games on. Thankfully, there is a solution for that. It’s a solution I often use myself actually. There is a program called “BlueStacks” that allows you to play any Android game on your PC. I use this tool when I want to take screenshots for when I want to review an Android game. To my big surprise, the folks over at Bluestacks contacted me with more information about BlueStacks 4. So, that’s what I’m writing about today. Before I begin, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the program and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

What’s new

Currently, BlueStacks got a huge update. In v4, a lot of work has been done to make BlueStacks an even better platform to play Android games on. In this infographic created by the developers, you can find an overview of the changes and improvements in this new version.

If you want to download the program for yourself, just go to the official website that’s linked higher in the article and install the program. The installation is extremely easy. Just follow the on screen steps and the installer does the rest for you. It gets even better, when you log in with the same account you use on your phone, you will be able to download all your purchased apps and install them in BlueStacks.

It’s quite impressive on how far this program has come. Back in 2011, the first version of BlueStacks was released and today it’s one of the best programs on the market to play Android games on. With this program, you can easily stream, record or create screenshots from all Android games. And you can even play them.

If you don’t like the Google Play Store, BlueStacks also has its own AppCenter. This center is a new skin for the Play Store. Each program takes you directly to the corresponding page in the App Store.

Here is the best thing of all, using BlueStacks is completely free. There are some ads in the program and you can’t customize your wallpaper. If you buy a premium account, you will be able to change your wallpaper and have no ads. You also got priority responses from the support team, if you need them. This subscription costs only 40 dollars yearly. The only annoying thing is that there aren’t too many payment options.

By doing various tasks, like loading up a game and returning daily, you earn BlueStack Points. With these points you can buy themes and various merch prizes. At the moment of writing, there isn’t a list of which actions award you points. You can also buy BlueStack Points as a sort of microtransaction. But, these points are totally optional.

Playing games in BlueStacks

Thanks to the developers over at BlueStacks, I already got the chance to play around in a development build of version 4. Since BlueStack now supports the mapping of joysticks to keyboard buttons, I decided to try it out in Corpse Party – BloodDrive. Thankfully, there are cloud saves so I can pick up from where I left off.

screen 1

When I first installed the game, for some reason, the game closed to the desktop twice. But, the 3rd launch, the game just works perfectly fine. After mapping the joystick to the ZQSD (WASD in AZERTY, since I’m from Belgium and use AZERTY.) and the other joystick to the arrow keys, I was surprised at  how accurate and fluent this works.

After that I tried to map my keyboard keys to my wireless XBOX360 controller using a program called XPadder. With this program you can map keyboard keys to one input on your controller. It’s quite a neat program actually. BlueStacks and XPadder works just fine together. While I wish that BlueStacks works with controllers like the wireless XBOX360 controller; then again, for how many games will you be able to only use the controller and not have to use the mouse to tap/click on a spot? So yeah.

If you want to set this up for yourself, you need to click on the keyboard icon in the righthand corner. This brings up a new menu where you can choose between controls for various actions. Currently the following things are supported: a tap spot, d-pad, zoom, aim/pan & shoot, Moba Skill Pad, Swipe & Tilt. You click on what you need and drag it to where the button is on screen. If you want to change the keymap, you click on the button and press the key you want. It’s as simple as that.

screen 2

After you click save, you can start playing. Now, you can hide those keys. If you click on the eye icon that’s next to the keyboard icon, have a slider to choose how transparent you want those keys to be. I have set them all as invisible for the next screenshots in this article. I usually play on BlueStacks with invisible controls actually.

The next game I tested was the port of Sword of Mana, I played this on my tablet a while ago and it’s a very great port actually.

screen 3

I quickly got used to the controls I set up for this game. While I could set up a whole lay-out for the menu system for this game, I found that the clicking through it with the mouse works just fine. Also, I found this game easier to play, since now my hand didn’t cover up parts of the screen. I think I’m going to switch to BlueStacks to finish this game since it’s a more enjoyable experience than playing this on my actual tablet.

The final game I tested was Minecraft Story Mode. At first, I was annoyed that I was unable to login to my TellTales Account. But, I quickly realized why. Since I used enter to confirm my password, I went back to the login screen. When I clicked “OK”, the login actually happened. Curious, I took my own tablet and tried the same thing on there, and I had the same problem.

Anyways, I was surprised at how quickly I was able to download and install the episodes on BlueStacks. I actually tested the download speed of episode 5 on my tablet and on BlueStacks and I found that the episode was downloaded and installed faster on BlueStacks than on my tablet.

The reason I wanted to test this game on BlueStacks is because I wanted to check if this game also has the graphical issues I experienced on my tablet or if it’s a problem with the graphics chipset of my tablet. Besides that, I wanted to test a game that didn’t have a d-pad for moving the character but relies on pressing the screen to move your character.

BlueStacks_ScreenShot

Surprisingly, this game works perfectly. I actually placed a hidden dpad and the game reacts perfectly to that. Also, I didn’t notice any graphical issues. But, the graphical issues happened so rarely on my tablet, I can’t say it’s totally fixed. Something I did experience was a small audio desync in the 5th episode. The voice acting started a second after the characters opened their mouths.

The quick time events where easily done with the mouse. It did require me to get a bit used to the new way of playing this game but it didn’t take long. It reminded me that I want to finish this game.

So, now that I tested 3 different games on BlueStacks, I invite you to test out different games. Please, tell me your experiences with BlueStacks in the comment section. What games work and where fun to play on BlueStacks and which games gave you issues?

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

Review: The Legend Of Zelda – Minish Cap (GBA) ~ Easiest Zelda Game?

The_Legend_of_Zelda_The_Minish_Cap_Game_CoverZelda wiki entry

Ah man, I have a ton of memories of this game. I played this game when I didn’t have enough money to buy games myself. I was quite young. If I remember correctly, I was just getting into high school. So, I was 11 – 12 years old when I rented this game from the video game store. I almost finished the game before my rent time was over. So, after I returned it, I rented it the next weekend. As it turned out, somebody else rented it and saved over my save file. I was so let down, I actually didn’t play the game that much. After a year or two, my local game store stopped renting out games. They sold them all second hand. Then I bought this game and I finished it in a week. But how was my experience? Well, let’s take a look at it! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game. 

Easy?

45103-The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_The_Minish_Cap_(U)(DCS)-6So, I claim in my title that this is the easiest Zelda game in the series. And I stand by that claim. This game is rather on the easy side. Not only that, it’s quite short. But more on that, later.

The story in this game tells the story how Link got his green hat. Once every 1000 years, there is a special festival for the Minish. A race that helped create the master sword. Link is the grandson of the blacksmith with the Princess Zelda as childhood friend.

You get asked to deliver a sword to the King. After you play a bit around on the festival, you see Vaati, the winner of the sword contest destroy the Master Sword and turn Zelda into stone.

That’s all I’m going to “spoil” from the story. (It are the first ten minutes of the game anyways.) The story is pretty well crafted. The characters are memorable and written pretty well. There is one thing that Nintendo implemented that I’m not a big fan off. That are the Kingstones.

These stones are pretty much the ways you open secrets in this game. You find them all over the world and your goal is to match your piece with somebody else. Then you open a cave or something along those lines. On paper, this can be interesting… But in theory, it isn’t. The two flaws here is that you see where the secret opens AND you have way and way to many Kingstones in the end. This gives the Kingstones less value and ruins the fun.

New items

zelda_minish_capGraphically, this game looks amazing. It gives off some Wind Waker vibes. The world is really colorful and bright. It’s really pleasant to look at.

The animations also give off this Wind Waker vibe. There isn’t anything I didn’t like about the visual presentation of this game.

What I really liked in this game was the world design. In this game, you can shrink down to a really small size, to the size of the Minish. This makes some locations that more memorable. When I replayed this game I often thought: “Oh hey, there are Minish living in this roof.” Oh, also, like in the Legend Of Zelda Link’s Awakening, this game also has references to the Mario games. Have fun looking for them!

In this game, you get some classical Zelda items like the boomerang and the bow and arrow. Yet, there are also some new items. The Mole Mitts you can use to dig your way in certain areas. A special cane that helps you flip over enemies and an upgraded Roc’s feather. You get a special cape to jump around. This cape also makes your jump longer. Oh yeah, and the vacuum cleaner… I mean the gust jar. This nifty item can suck up air and spit it back out. Guess what it’s used in a water puzzle.

The items are used very creatively. But one part that is introduced extremely well is the Four Swords. When you defeat a dungeon, you get a new element. With this element, you can create clones of Link in certain places. This makes the puzzles in some areas really well done.

Earlier in the review I said that this game was easy. To a seasoned Zelda player, this game can be easily beaten. When this is your first Zelda game, it will take you a bit longer. I felt that in some areas, the game could be a bit harder. It’s one of those games you play through because it’s a fun game. The atmosphere is there.

Music

 45103-The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_The_Minish_Cap_(U)(DCS)-16The music in this game is one of the strongest points in this game. When I listen to music from the GBA, I think that there aren’t that many soundtracks that sound as nice on the gameboy advance then this one. At least, as far that I played.

The soundtrack also has some remixed tracks from the previous games. This got a smile on my face.

The sound design is well done. There weren’t any sounds I thought were out of place.

The controls are responsive and spot on. I didn’t have much trouble controlling Link. Apart from some ice puzzles, I think the controls are perfect.

This game isn’t that long. Instead of the usual 8 dungeons and one final dungeon, this game has 6 dungeons. I wished there were a bit more dungeons then that.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time for the conclusion! (Oh, for my new readers… Yes, I left some things out. Gameplay wise and such… Just because if you are interested I want that there things that you can discover.)

Conclusion

The bad:

 – Kingstones aren’t well implemented.

 – This game isn’t that difficult.

 – I wished this game was longer.

The good:

+ Solid gameplay.

+ Fun new story.

+ Nice visuals.

+ Great music and sound design.

+ Fun new items.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game is quite well made. It came out near the end of the Gameboy advance’s life cycle… So, it’s a bit overlooked. While it’s not the best Zelda game out there, it’s a really good one. Apart from Zelda fans, I would recommend this game to any new Zelda player. This game is the perfect entry level Zelda game to start with the series.

While this game has some flaws, I think it doesn’t take much away from the experience. I didn’t find that much negative things to say about this game. That’s why I give it full marks. It’s one of the best games out on the GBA and it’s a must own!

Score: 100/100

Anyways, thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article sometime, but until then… Have a great day and game on~

Gamer’s Thoughts: Pokémon Rom Hacks

Game Boys Advance So, this month I’m not writing a special for the game music. So, I decided to write another special article. Since I did some research on the GBA rom hacks already, I decided that it’s maybe a great idea if I wrote an article about GBA Pokémon rom hacks. I promised it various times on Tumblr. But then some setbacks happened and I decided to delay the article. So, today it’s finally getting written. The first part of the possibly multiple parts where I take a look at Pokémon Rom Hacks. 

Pokémon Light Platinum

Pokemon_Light_Platinum_BoxArtSo, when I was first preparing for this article I wanted to first write a full game review of a Pokémon rom hack. But since my save file of Pokémon Light Platinum kinda corrupted on me, my motivation for this article went out of the window.

Now, I do want to start over with this game. I remember that it was quite fun to play. This hack used the already existing Pokémon to it’s advantage by including new Pokémon. Well, not exactly new… I’m quite sure that the creators of the hack overwrote some Pokémon since the version I played had messed up Pokémon cries.

If you read about Pokémon rom hacks, this hack is one of the most popular ones. While I think some idea’s should make it to a real Pokémon game, honestly… I don’t think that would be a great idea. I’ll explain in my next paragraph why.

Can Nintendo learn from the hacks?

thumbs_pokemon_flora_sky_05

In a way, they can learn from the Pokémon rom hacks but they shouldn’t borrow ideas from them. It’s a strange thing to say, but hear me out out. A hack hasn’t always balanced gameplay, what mainstream Pokémon games generally have.

Honestly, I can’t really put my finger on it why, but my writer-gut-feeling is shouting NO while my gamer-gut-feeling is shouting YES. Things they could learn is that there are people working creative with the universe and maybe do some fan-service by putting in an easteregg in a main series game.

The sad thing is that most Pokémon rom hacks are never finished. They are always buggy. From strange graphical glitches to bad sounds. So, trying to get the actual ideas out of the games, polishing them up and putting them in a main series game would maybe cost too much time.

What I’m happy about is that Nintendo isn’t trying to stop this from happening. Think about it, it’s a good way to keep people hooked on the series. Honestly, I never played so much Pokémon games in my life since I started playing Pokémon rom hacks. But not all rom hacks are the same, in my opinion there are roughly 4 categories.

1. Crappy hacks

2. Visual hacks

3. Full hacks

4. Full hacks with visual hacks.

Maybe some of you guys figured out what the difference is between the 4 categories. Don’t worry if you haven’t done that already, I’ll explain in the next section of this article. You ready?

 Categories of hacks

Pokemon Underworld 1.0 Beta

The first kind, the crappy hacks are hacks that aren’t challenging or fun to play. Hacks where they change the starter Pokémon to a legendary one so that you blast through the whole game, that takes the experience out of the game. Crappy hacks, those are the ones you need to avoid.

The 2nd kind are visual hacks. While I haven’t seen many for the gameboy advance, I found a lot for the old 1st and 2nd gen games. Hacks where all the human sprites are changed with Pokémon sprites. Those can be okay, but I get bored of them.

The 3rd kind are the best in my opinion. Ones where they made a new world to explore but didn’t change may Pokémon around. If they added existing Pokémon, the game still falls into this category.

The 4th kind is such a balancing act. Hacks with new worlds that add made-up Pokémon. I have played a Pokémon hack that added anime characters instead of Pokémon. It was fun, but then the references started and I was completely lost.

My thoughts on hacking a game

Let me be clear here. I’m not talking about hacking a game in order to cheat your way through. That’s something completely different and a subject for another article. Honestly, I think that hacking a game and making your own game is a great thing.

It helps to expand the lifetime of a game before it becomes boring in the fans their eyes. You get to play the adventures other people crafted in the universe.

But most of all, it boosts your skills when you make a hack yourself. You learn to program and fix bugs. You learn to manage a project, which isn’t always easy.

But there is also a negative side to this trend. It opens the world of emulation to people who weren’t aware that it existed. It can also be used to make fun of Pokémon and many other things.

What makes a good hack?

I have played many hacks before I started writing this article. I have come up with some rules that make a good Pokémon hack in my eyes. First of all, you need to have good basic English. If there are typo’s or grammar mistakes, that isn’t so bad… But I when you play hacks with broken English, the immersion and progress comes to a halt.

Secondly, try to pay attention your game design. What I mean here is that you make a game that’s playable and fun. Not one where you need to search for a walkthrough online each and every town. Balance your game and have some variation in your game. Some people play Pokémon hacks to play something different, yet similar to the Pokémon games. Don’t go overboard with the legendary Pokémon either.

Something that adds value is that when you add your own HM’s or TM’s, that they can be used in more then just one cave. Otherwise I feel that they are a missed oppertunity.

Anyways, I think I have talked enough about this subject for now. While I know that this an abrupt ending, but I want to do even more research before I come back to this subject. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to talk about my thoughts in the comments, I will reply to every one. Also, don’t ask me how to get any Pokémon hacks, that is something you will have to Google. Since there is one part in playing Pokémon hacks that’s illegal, which is downloading a rom. Yeah.

Anyways, thanks for reading and hopefully until another article.

Review #018: Fury Racing 3D Real Speed (Android) ~ Still In Alpha

unnamed

Google Store link

So, I got the honor of the developer actually mailing me to review his Android game. It made me speechless for some time. When I got home from college and when I had some free time, I tested this game for a few hours. Honestly, I don’t like racing games. Yet, for this special first request, I did an effort. While this game is it’s alpha stages, I had some troubles with it. Maybe my tablet wasn’t strong enough, but it ran extremely laggy and I had to use my Android emulator that I had laying around from the time I was still studying computer science. The app ran a bit more smooth on my gaming laptop. And it’s not the emulator’s or my laptop’s fault since it can run games like Alan Wake or Minecraft at 100+ FPS. The game also crashed various times on my tablet and it consumed memory like it was it’s only feature. My cleaning app suddenly said that 90%+ of my memory was in use. And I closed EVERYTHING. Besides that, there was a light issue. The game was dark. And still on my emulator it had some problems with it. Since I haven’t finished the game and since it’s an Android game, this article might be shorter then you’re used of me. Also, this is an exclusive article for my personal blog. No reblogging on BSB this time. Yet, I’ll write another article for BSB soon. Anyways, let me think what your thoughts are on the game and/or this review in the comments.

Issues

unnamed (1)Let’s dive right into the issues first. Honestly, for a game looking so impressive as this, the menu’s are just terrible. They are straight forward, yes, I give it that. But I can’t help at think that this game would benefit so much from a much more clean menu. It looks a bit cluttered. With an options bar to the side. And since the Android games their first impressions are the ones of the menu or the first few minutes, this game’ll loose a lot of it’s customers.

Also, maybe this is a bug, yet the first two tracks are unlocked from the first stage. If this is intentional, that’s a pity. Since smart players are going to play directly the 2nd track instead of the first. Since it wouldn’t unlock anything more.

Also, when you wait long enough, the music on the menu just dies. I had the game open on my 2nd screen and it just stopped when I started writing this paragraph.

Sadly enough, the menu isn’t the only biggest problem with this game. There is a problem that I often see returning, on the Android market, Reddit and various other locations. The controls aren’t smooth. Even when playing it on my tablet, the controls to move to the sides didn’t respond. I’m maybe guessing that this game doesn’t support multi-touch very well.

Bad impressions

unnamed (2)This game feels and looks like that it has extremely big potential. The graphics are extremely well done and the gameplay is interesting. Yet, the game needs a lot of work. An awful lot. At the state the game is at now, this game is a disaster. Full of great idea’s yet not worked out.

Another example of the issues are the fact that they talk about power-ups. Besides the speeding up one I haven’t seen any other one. And this is a big problem. This feels like false advertising. And I swear that my ship flew through various items without getting a bonus.

The timer is also lagged. It jumps. And it bugs the crap out of me. I feel that the timer in a racing game should be the first part that works flawlessy. And I checked if it wasn’t a problem of my emulator, my tablet does the same thing. Also, I truly advice the developer to move the health bar of the ship. Since when you speed up, you barely see it. And makes for much confusion.

The game has a low FPS. It wouldn’t surprise me that the graphics eat too much resources which doesn’t leave a lot left for other processes in the game.

In short, this game needs a lot of work. From more music tracks to a radar, those are features I feel this game would benefit a lot from.

And that’s all for this review, let’s go on to the conclusion!

Final verdict

The good:

+ It’s free.

+ It’s looks extremely nice for on Android.

+ No too annoying ads.

The bad:

– It’s released too early which makes the game lacking a lot of features.

– Extremely ugly menu.

– Low FPS.

– No pause menu.

– Bad controls.

Conclusion:

I want to thank the developer for giving me this chance. And I wish I could have given a more positive review for my first review request from a developer here. I think they are really courageous to ask reviewers like myself to ask to review their alpha product. It’s a move that more developers should do. 

Yet, this game feels extremely unfinished and that’s such a shame. It needs a lot of polishing work before it can be called a final game. I’m not going to score it since it’s an alpha version yet I might revisit this game after a year to see how it has grown.

Thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time!