Ukiyo-E Heroes – Documentary Premiere

Let’s talk about something very different this week. Tomorrow, on the 2nd of May, a documentary called Ukiyo-E Heroes goes in premiere at the Hot Docs movie festival in Toronto (buy tickets). Wow, wait NekoJonez, why are we talking about this on a gaming blog? Well, the reason for that is simple. The documentary is about somebody who crafts traditional Japanese woodcuts with a lot of Mario/Pokémon and various other pop-culture references.

What’s the documentary about?

A journey of discovery into how a Canadian craftsman and an American designer with a father and son generation gap who collaborate to revive the ancient Japanese woodcut (Ukiyo-e) using pop-culture icons: Super Mario and Pokémon. 

Here is the team that made the documentary.

A Rivertime Entertainment Production

Director: Toru Tokikawa
Writers: Min Hye Kim, Toru Tokikawa
Producers: Toru Tokikawa, Yu-Fai Suen
Composer: Alan Braxe
Music Supervisor: Alexandre Escolier
Sound Mixer: Danielle Adams
Advisor: Ben Elliott

Follow this documentary

You can find a trailer on their Facebook page and you can follow them on Twitter and even more information can be found on their website. Well, the website of the production company that made the documentary called Rivertime Inc.

This is worth it!

I have watched every teaser and trailer they have put out on their Facebook page, and believe me, this documentary is going on my “to watch” list. I’m very interested in Japanese culture myself. My life long dream is actually going on a trip to Japan.

Since childhood, I have been fan of various Japanese game studios like Sony, Square, Capcom and various others. My favorite is Nintendo.

But, I’m getting off track here. From what I have seen, the documentary is filmed very good. There is a lot of imagery to see how everything came to be. Also, the documentary is filmed at various locations. I love when documentaries do this. That way we get a better view into the subject that the documentary is presenting. If you want to judge for yourself, go and take a look at the social media and the website I linked earlier.

Currently, the studio is working to get this documentary distributed in Europe. So, if you are a distributor in Europe and you are interested in this movie, feel free to get into contact with Rivertime Inc, since if you help to get this documentary into Europe and/or Belgium, I’ll be a customer!

So, if you are in Toronto this week, go to the Hot Docs festival and give this documentary a watch. They are also in the running for an audience award! And they deserve it, in my opinion.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this documentary, I want to thank Rivertime Entertainment for mail me about this. Otherwise I would have slipped under my radar and it would be a shame, since I’m quite interested in seeing the documentary myself.

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

First Impression: Fairune 2 (3DS) ~ A quick look.

maxresdefault.jpgA few years ago, I bought a game on the eShop. And with the money I had left over, I bought Fairune, a port of an iOS game. I enjoyed myself a whole lot with it. Last year, I noticed that a sequel came out on the 3DS. And today, I want to take a look at it. I have almost finished the game, but I couldn’t wait any longer to write about it. So, here is a quick look at the game Fairune 2. A game that didn’t get ported from the mobile market. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below!

The positives

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If you played the original, this game will make you feel right at home. This game plays exactly the same as the original.

The gameplay is extremely fun. This is one of the best Zelda-inspired games I have played in a long time. Every detail on each screen is important.

 The music in this game is very enjoyable to listen to. It fits the atmosphere of the game quite well and it also has some elements from the original game.

The controls of this game are very responsive and I never had any problem with them. And the problems I had were because I didn’t use the controls in the correct way. Like trying to use an item while facing the wrong direction.

There are achievements in this game. They add to the replay value since I only noticed them after I almost finished this game. And shame on me for that, since they are right in your face in the main menu.

This game offers more than enough content to justify the price tag. Really, the length and content of this game… You get your monies worth.

The negatives

12-fairune-2-4.jpgThe game is sometimes too cryptic. I have gotten stuck several times because I overlooked one item or one puzzle. This is extremely annoying when you want to finish this game without a guide.

If you didn’t complete the map from the secret areas in the game, you can’t go back to them in the same playthrough. This is very disappointing since the original had the same flaw.

This game is a game with a lot of puzzles and exploring. There isn’t a battle system, deep and rich story or anything along those lines. So, this is a casual experience. This makes the game hard to recommend to gamers who don’t enjoy casual games. A shame, since this game is such a fun ride.

Conclusion

So, to wrap up this game quicky, I think that the final point I made in the negatives paragraph sums up my opinion about this game perfectly. Besides the puzzles and the exploration, there isn’t  anything else to do in this game.

If they make a new entry into this series, I would love to see a bit more depth. A more interesting battle system would be great for example.

Overall, I think this game is great and if you are a Zelda-fan, you should give it a look and play it if you are interested. If I have to give points now, I would give this game a 7/10. But, I haven’t finished the game, so I will give my final marks when I have beaten this game.

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

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!

Quick Announcement – Additional Blog

Earlier this month, I made this post in which I talked about changes coming to the blog. Here’s a little preview of what’s to come!

Actually, that may be a little misleading. Technically, this is about changes to my blog, but it’s supposed to work in tandem with this one. NekoJonez has been so kind to allow me to post on his blog, but as the title suggests, this is a blog for “handheld and niche games”.

I, myself, am in addition to being a gamer, a big fan of movies, and it doesn’t seem right to talk about them on this blog. There may also be other things NekoJonez and me would like to talk about, that aren’t really fit for this blog. As such, we have decided to use my page for that.

The preliminary name is “Games, Movies, Music, and Everything Else in Entertainment“, but that may still be subject to change. For now, it’s still a blank page, I know, but that will change in the not-too-distant future.

When either of us has more news, we’ll be sure to inform you. I’ve personally got quite a full agenda for the next few weeks, but I’ll try to work on something. Soon…ish…

Cheers!

Gaming Nostalgia: Skipper and Skeeto 1 – Tales from paradise park

Wikipedia entry

512ZFPC4MCLAs a kid, I played a lot of children’s and educative games. Well, not all the time of course, but I have a lot of fond memories of it. When I went to MiseryLC’s place the other day, he was actually so kind to lend me his copy of “Skipper en Skeeto 1 – Pretpark” which translates to “Skipper and Skeeto 1 – Funfair”. It’s a very nostalgic game for us both, and I decided to write an article about it. So yeah, here we go! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Rare game

61QY3X94DTLIf you are from America and you haven’t heard from this game, I won’t blame you. The creator of this game is actually from Denmark. While there is an English version, I grew up with a version in my mother tongue. I actually only just found out what the name of the game is in English.

I have fond memories of actually acting out this game with my sister. We hid objects to solve puzzles around the house and we played out the story with our own characters and objects.

Sadly enough, my copy got lost one day and I forgot about the game. After a couple of years, I started to play another game from my childhood again: Freddy Fish. Then, I wanted to play this game again. So, I went on a search on the internet to find a copy of this game. Then I learned how much this game went under the radar. I found various versions of this game in the original language, but I wasn’t able to find it in a language I could understand.

New copy

61AHHC15BXLIt’s a shame to admit that I haven’t played my “new” copy yet. I really should do that and write a sort of (quick) review of this game.

While the boxed version is extremely hard to find, the more common version you would find in Belgium is actually a version that was given away for free with a Dutch magazine for females. It still exists to this day. It’s called Libelle, and it’s full with topics ladies would read from the age of 18 and up.

It came in a jewel case with a little booklet telling you about how to install and the warranty. The usual stuff. Thankfully, the magazine hasn’t placed their logo all over the jewel case or disc (or in-game even.) The logo of the magazine is just in the top left corner once, and that’s it. Nicely done.

There are 11 mini-games in this game. All these games are optional and you don’t need to play them. But all the games are educational, for example, if you would click on the globe that you see in the screenshot (in-game of course), you would play a geographical quiz where you needed to guess where certain countries are. I actually remember some of them vaguely while writing this article. This is quite mindblowing if you realize that you haven’t played this game around over 15 years.

Wrapping up

skippershouse

While I have memories of the sequel of this game, I think I said mostly everything I wanted to talk about of this game. It’s always difficult to write these articles since you want to write a quite in-depth look about a childhood game you remember, but there isn’t enough content for that.

While I could talk about the animation, voice-acting and other things, I think I will save that for the review I’m going to write when I have replayed this game.

 I wish I played more entries in the series or even bought more of them, since they are now quite rare and unrated. They are quite well done educational games. I even dare say that they rival the quality of Humongous Entertainment! So yeah. I hope you enjoyed reading this short article about Skipper and Skeeto. I also hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then game on and take care~

Review #024: Super Kid Cannon (Android) ~ Thank You!

logo_skc

Official website

So, it happened. I can barely believe it myself. The guys over at SkyJoy asked me to review their Android game. Now let me be clear, I enjoy this interaction a lot. And in these moments I do my best to make it worthwhile their time and effort. I’m honest in all of my articles. I write my honest opinion. When I think a game is bad, I say so. But when a game is good, I praise it. Anyways, after testing and playing my review copy I’m finally ready to write my review of this game. I might not have finished it completely but that isn’t going to stop me from reviewing it. Since it’s still in development and from the level select it’s clear that this game isn’t completely finished. So, let’s dive right into this game. Feel free to leave a comment about your opinion of the game and or this article. 

First vertical game.

SKC_Bobby_Bubble_WheelSo, you might have played Doodle Jump. This game goes vertically. Or Kid Icarus, you go upwards a ton as well. But this game is different. It’s how they claim, the first game in it’s kind.

Let’s talk about the story first. Honestly, it’s a cliche story. Your girlfriend gets kidnapped. But this isn’t anything bad. It’s a mobile game and it’s a new genre. So, no harm done. Sadly enough, the trailer isn’t shown at the start of the game. Part of the trailer explains the characters and the story. Now they loose that. At the  other hand, the game loads faster now and the download is smaller. So, I understand why it’s not added. And that’s all I can talk about in the story.

This game takes Electronic Super Joy‘s approach of a menu. The level select with the option buttons at the bottom. And I think this is perfect for a mobile game like this. It makes the game more accessible and the screen is less cluttered.

One thing where this game truly shines is how it perfects the idea of lives compared to Candy Crush Saga (ugh, don’t get me started about that “game”.)! You get 5 tries in each level. And when they are all up, you can simply retry with those 5 lives. That’s mindblowing.

Negatives

SKC_DailyGiftLet’s change up the concept for this review. I find it pretty difficult to talk about mobile games in a normal style of review. That’s my excuse. So, let’s first talk about the negatives of this game.

First of all, there are microtransactions. I honestly have no big problem with them but they are a bit too much in your face. Everything costs money. A new skin, power-ups… all 1 buck. Thankfully there is a daily gift, which resets at midnight, so that’s a bit of relief.

Another negative is something they can easily fix. It’s not clear enough where a world ends. The banner is always in the middle and that’s pretty annoying. Why don’t you number your levels like “1-1” or “2-1”? Make a more clear separation between the worlds.

Also, there were some cheap deaths. I had a few moments where I kept rolling down and rolling down into pins. Or when I shoot upwards and the enemy decides to jump from platform to platform.

It’s 1-hit kill for you and the enemies. And you can only kill the enemies when they are standing on blocks with up arrows. This isn’t explained well enough and might frustrate casual players who barely play any other games outside of games on their mobile or tablet.

Another negative is how the game misses depth. At the moment of writing, the game’s goal is only getting up without dying. I miss honestly missions or a way to track points. I haven’t tried the Facebook connect out but I think it might be a leaderboard I miss. My advice to the developers is the add a sort of goal system. Like, try to be in every canon once or collect x amount of coins. Also guys, add time trails.

Also, I would like to be able to see my scores of past levels and how close I was to get it to the 3-star rating.

The final complaint is the music. There should be a bit more tracks. The few that are in the game can get repetitive for some gamers. While it didn’t annoy me too much, I can see it be an irritation to some.

Good game?

SKC_DiscoBall_StPatty_Yeti_Penguin_SkiLiftIs this game fun to play? Yes! While I might have a ton of complaints, the core gameplay is fun. The game can only improve from here.

The game might look easy to beat looking at the first few levels, it gets pretty challenging pretty fast.

Also, the visuals are pretty pleasing. They didn’t went for ultra HD in your face awesome graphics. Thank lords they didn’t do that. This makes the game run smooth on nearly every device. I had some minor flickering issues when the water bubbles where created but it didn’t bother me that much.

Also, the game is great on the battery. It isn’t a resource eater and doesn’t drain your battery like other games do.

And finally, a game where not everything is explained. No real hand-holding here. You get explained the core mechanics and after that, you are on your own. So, discovering things is much fun!

And that’s my review of the game. Let’s get on the conclusion. There are a few things I didn’t touch upon like the length, enemies and power-ups but I’ll leave that up to you to discover.

Conclusion

Final thoughts:

Huh, aren’t we skipping something? Yeah, my usual list of the good and bad. But I have written this article in a way that the 2nd part are the negatives and the third part are the positives. So no real reason to repeat it here.

Anyways, my final thoughts on this game are simple. It’s a game that is already fun but has so much potential to grow. I hope to see with the feature releases that the developers build on the core gameplay and not only add various new levels. Since that would make the game pretty repetitive and not fun.

So, for v0.8, the version I got as a review copy gets a score for that version. It might happen that I revisit this game and then the score will be different.

Anyways, thank you Skyjoy for giving me this chance and thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed your read and hopefully we meet again. Laters!

Score: 85/100