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

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

The challenge and my background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Themes and settings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing statement

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

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

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

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Review: Angels Of Death (Switch) ~ Halloween Adventure

Wikipedia entry

Today I want to talk about a game that’s perfect for Halloween night. Since I played and fell in love with the Corpse Party series, I have high expectations when it comes to playing RPG horror themed games. So, what did I think of “Angels of Death”? Did it live up to the fun I had with Corpse Party or did it fall flat on it’s face? That’s what I want to talk about in this review. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the game and/or the content of this article.

“I saw a murder”

Fair warning for everybody who wants to play this game. This game is quite story based and try to avoid reading too about the story to avoid spoiling the whole game. To avoid ruining the game for those who want to play it after reading this article, I kept the spoilers to a minimum and the screenshots of the early game.

That said, in this game you take on the role of Rachael “Ray” Gartner. A 13-year old girl who claims to have seen a murder. She is taken to a hospital for counseling. However, she finds herself waking up in an unfamiliar basement. Now, she has to escape since she heard over a speaker that she is a sacrifice, what ever that might mean.

And that’s everything I’m going to say about the story. The story takes various twists and turns and it’s a wild ride. The writing and pacing is top notch. Personally, I loved the writing in this game. The characters are memorable and quirky. I loved every single one of them.

This game contains a lot of dialogues. If you aren’t into those games, I would recommend that you skip this one. Since none of the dialogues are voice acted. But, after I had finished the first chapter of the game, I watched the first episode of the anime and I have to say, that those voices just played in my head while I was playing the game.

The writing made me laugh and sit on the edge of my seat. It’s a great story to play on Halloween night. It’s a game that takes the horror route without using too much gore. The only sad thing is that this game is only 8 hours long. The game doesn’t have any replay value or multiple endings, so I felt empty after those 8 hours. Empty for more.

This game touches upon a few themes that could be a trigger for some people. From murder, a whole range of cuss words to religion. In my opinion, the game never went into offensive territory but if you are easily triggered about these subjects, keep an open mind if you are playing this game.

“Exploration of the basement”

At it’s core, Angels of Death is a puzzle game. If you have played Corpse Party or a game from the Zero Escape series, you will be right at home playing this game. The goal of each chapter is to escape the floor you are trapped on. In order to do that, you have to solve various puzzles while exploring the basement.

The game is quite linear, so there isn’t much room to explore the basement. I never got stuck in this game and I never needed a walkthrough. This game is quite easy to finish. It does provide some challenge but if you use the save system like I did, you won’t have any problems.

Don’t forget that this game doesn’t automatically save your game. You have to manually save the game. You can do that whenever you want, expect from a few special moments like chase sequences. When these moments happen, the game gives you the chance to save right before they happen. You have 99 save slots, so you won’t run out of slots. And yes, you can save over a slot.

This game has 4 chapters, so 4 puzzles for you to complete. To be honest, you don’t need to play this game for the puzzles. Some of them were too easy and I didn’t even notice that I was solving a puzzle. The flow of this game is a bit too streamlined. Yet, it didn’t pull away from the experience. Besides exploration, there are a few sections that provide some variation in the gameplay. There is even a section where you have to shoot something to clear out a room. These sections were too short.

This is the big issue I had with the game. The game is a lot of fun to play but it’s too easy. The story is amazing and has the right length and pace so more gameplay would have made the story unnecessarily longer. So, I’m a bit mixed on this.

During the various sections, the controls never failed me. I mostly played this game in handheld mode or in docked mode. The controls are easy to understand and quite quick to learn. I never had any issues with them.

In terms of the UI of this game, I think it’s quite good apart from one minor thing. In the “load” menu of the game, I wish there was a bit more info on the save slot. For example, in which room I saved. Oh well, that’s a nitpick.

“Zack’s laugh”

The visual presentation of this game is great. It’s quite clear that this game uses a version of RPG Maker for this game and it uses it quite well. Each map is quite detailed. The visual presentation really added to the atmosphere of the game. The animations as well, I really loved the animations during story segments. They made some characters come to live.

Some parts of this game are hand drawn like the character models. This adds a lot of charm to the game and they reminded me of the anime I still have to finish. My favorite character in this whole game is Ray. I can’t explain why, since that would mean I would spoil the whole game.

Something that adds quite a lot to the game is the soundtrack and the sound effects. The soundtrack of this game consists mostly of techno and orchestra tracks. I’m so glad that I also bought the Steam version so I could add the soundtrack to my library. It’s a joy to listen too.

The sound effects are amazing as well, to such a degree that a lot of people miss the sound effect of Zach’s laugh in some tracks. I have to agree since I always heard his laugh in the track while it wasn’t there. The story had such an impact on me.

My only complaint is that the music tracks are a bit too short. Some are only one minute long and I like them quite a lot. I wish they created an extended version that wasn’t looping the song three times over. Oh well, this again might be a nitpick.

This game has the perfect price in my opinion. You can buy this game for 15€ in the Nintendo EShop. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time we wrap this article up and go for the conclusion of this review.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • Too short & easy.

The good:

  • Amazing story.
  • Amazing soundtrack.
  • Amazing art & animations.

Final thoughts:

If you enjoy RPG-maker games that give you more of an adventure like Corpse Party or the Crooked Man, this game is for you. If you want to play a short and fun game during Halloween night, I can’t recommend this game enough.

Personally, I loved the writing in this game so much that I want to replay through the whole game while I even know how the game is going to end. I understand that this game isn’t for everybody. With the large amounts of dialogue, the easy puzzles and the short nature of this game, some people can get turned off this game. But, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game.

I was glad that I had this game on the car trip during my family weekend. It was such a blast to play. My only regret is that I didn’t keep this for Halloween night. If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch, this game is also on Steam. So, go grab it and enjoy it!

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 (spooky) rest of your day.

Score: 100/100

First Impression: Zero Escape Dilemma (3DS) ~ Let’s play a game, shall we?

zero time dilemma boxZero Escape Wikia entry

If you didn’t expect this game to get an article this week, you might have missed all my clues on Twitter. I was extremely hyped for this game and it’s finally here! This game has got a rocky development and it was almost canceled. For the people who don’t know this series, let me quickly introduce this game. This game is the 3rd installment in the excellent Zero Escape series on (3)DS and PSVita. It’s a horror visual novel game with escape the room puzzles. These games should be played in order to fully enjoy them. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons and 9 Doors was the first one. The second one was Virtue’s Last Reward. Both excellent games. This game is on the 3DS eShop, PSVita and also released on the PC. In any case, enough rambling in this introduction. It’s time to talk about this game and what I think about it. Was it worth the hype & wait or does it stink? Let’s find out. Keep in mind, I’m playing the 3DS version and I don’t own the other versions. Oh, and don’t worry, I selected the screenshots and wrote this article to be as spoiler free as possible. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Different game style

The story this time around isn’t about a nonary game like in the previous entries. While it isn’t 100% needed to play the previouzero time dilemmas games, but it’s highly recommend. Since a lot of references and explanations will be very confusing otherwise.

Something that I found really surprising is that this game isn’t linear, at all. You can play sequences out of order. You would think that this would make a confusing story, but thankfully… They thought about that. There is a story mechanic that helps playing this story driven game out of order.

I have played this game for a bit now and I’m nowhere near finished. The current plot points and twists I already saw were mind-blowing. The writing in this game is truly amazing. It pulls me into its world with ease. One time, I was so focused on the story, I almost missed my stop. I had to dash to get outside the train.

I’m really curious how the story will wrap up, since Virtue’s Last Reward ended with a huge cliffhanger. I’m looking forward to that.

The final thing I want to say about the story is that I’m really thankful that some terms and mechanics of the previous games are quickly explained. It helps me when I had forgotten something from the previous games.

In the previous entry, Virtue’s Last Reward there was a nasty saving bug. It was, as far as I know, only present in the 3DS version. It happened in one room and in certain situations. If you saved then, your save would get corrupted and you had to start all over.

Thankfully, Aksys learned its lesson and implemented three save slots in this game. But so far, I haven’t encountered any problems with saving. Also, three save slots make sense since you can play this game out of order.

The music in this game is very good. While it uses a couple of tracks from the previous game, the new tracks are pretty nice to listen too. The music feels similar but is unique too. It fits the scary and tense atmosphere the story is trying to set.

The sound design is pretty well done, I have no complaints there. So far, so good. The only complaint I have is that, on the default settings, the music overpowers the voice acting from time to time. But it’s easily fixed with putting the volume of the music a bit down.

Not so much reading anymore?

zero time dilemma 2In the two previous entries, you could read everything. From time to time, it was more a novel then a game. But not in this game, almost everything is voice acted. The parts that aren’t voice acted are the dialogues inside the puzzle rooms.

I’m not 100% happy with that. Honestly, I’m 90% happy with it, but sometimes I miss the atmospheric writing that detailed how the main character felt or gave more details about the situation.

I have to praise this game for its voice acting. I’m playing this game with the English voice acts and they sound awesome! Sometimes, the emotions of the characters really shine through. I really felt that the voice actors really put a lot of effort into this game and gave it more than their best.

Something I think is the weakest point in this game is some visual issues. In some cutscenes, I felt that the characters were too static. I honestly think, that if Uchikoshi (writer / developer of the series) had more staff and money, it would look a whole lot better.

Also, some textures could have been polished up a bit more. For example, there is an emblem on one of the characters his shirt, and you can barely make it out what it is. Or in another scene, somebody looks at a carpet on the floor. When the camera looks down, I almost felt that they used the fill tool in a paint program. Or in some cutscenes, the hair or eyebrows of some characters are clipping with something. Which is a shame.

All in all, the finer details could have been polished a bit more. While the animations are pretty good, there is barely any animation where two people do something together.

Don’t get me wrong here, visually this game looks stunning on the 3DS. While some people found it a bummer that they dropped 3D support, I don’t mind. Apart from lacking some polish; the escape rooms, characters, cutscenes and environments look crisp and detailed. I also truly love the style they used in this game.

Life is simple unfair, don’t you think?

So, this game is still a puzzle game. The escape rooms are really challenging this zero time dilemma 3time around. In the previous games, I almost never got stuck in a room or on a puzzle. But this time around, some of  the rooms are real brain teasers in my opinion.

This game can be very difficult if you don’t see the solution to the puzzle. I do have to agree with the other reviewers, this game really lacks a hint system. Like the “Easy mode” in Virtue’s Last Reward, where some of your companion characters almost literally explained what you needed to do.

The controls of this game are very good. Apart from some minor issues I had in some rooms with the touch screen, I found that the controls were, like I said earlier, very good. A small piece of advice from me, I feel that the buttons work a bit better when you need to move the camera from point a to point b. When you need to press something finer, use the stylus. That’s the best way to play this game in my eyes.

From what I have seen, this game is a very long game. This is a very good thing, since this game has it’s hooks into to me.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I also like to talk about the UI/menu systems. Since I feel that they are important. The menu system in this game is almost perfect. Something that bugs me is that you can use the d-pad to navigate the general flow chart, but if you switch to the 2nd flow chart (where they display pictures of the event), you suddenly can’t do that anymore.

There was also one time that I had to input a few passwords that were said earlier. I forgot to wrote them down and suddenly I was unable to open the logs. So, I had to restart that segment.

In first impression of this game is pretty good. The game we got is amazing. Yet, the fact that this game was made by a small group shows its signs. I honestly think this game would have looked a lot better when they had a bigger team and a bigger budget. Maybe this game gets some polish with a patch or two. But honestly, I don’t think the game NEEDS it. Since it has a certain charm that I think would get lost.

@Uchikoshi, if you or somebody on your staff reads this… I have a message for you guys and girls. Thank you for creating this game. I bought it on day one and I’m really pleased with it. While there are somethings that could have been improved, the end result is an amazing game. I wish you girls and guys the best. Here is to a 4th game in the series or an equally awesome new project. I really love the series you made! If you don’t make a sequel, I’m hoping that you make a new game and/or series. I’m so looking forward to it.

I wish I could say more, but then I would go into spoiler territory. Also, I haven’t finished the game so my final opinion might change. I’m planning to write a full review when I have beaten this game. So yeah, I think I’ll wrap up this article here. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading and I hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!~

 

Android Games #6: I haven’t forgotten.

androidplaygames-630x421.jpgI haven’t written an article in this series for quite a while. Once, I even thought about cancelling it. But hey, I think that won’t be such a smart idea. This blog is about my experiences with the games I play. And sometimes, I play games on my phone when I’m waiting on the train or when I’m waiting in the doctor’s office. So, let’s take a look at the Android games I’m currently playing. I’m not going to talk about them in depth, since there isn’t that much to write about when you compare it to for example a 3DS game. Enough stalling, let’s get tapping on that phone! And as usual in every one of my articles, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content and/or games in this article. 

Wedding Escape

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This game is what I look for in my match-3 games. Something special, something unique that hasn’t been done over and over again.

In this game, you have to turn over tiles to match 3 or more of the same. When you flip a silver coin, it becomes a gold coin. When you flip a diamond, it becomes a purple one. And this works the other way too.

The game gets pretty challenging after a few levels, but you get four pretty nice power-ups. Thank you FireBird Games to not make these microtransactions power-ups. You earn an use of the power-ups by matching a certain gem. Silver coins give you a bomb, gold coins give you a mine, purple gems give you a magnet and blue gems give you a “flip everything of this gem/coin”.

The characters you can unlock in this game are quite nice. The visuals and music are good as well.

This game is polished and pretty well designed. Apart from the extreme harsh difficulty in the later levels (in my opinion), a better way to select the character you want to play as, the colorbind mode that only changes one gem and the strange way a gem/coin becomes usable to use power-ups on, this game is nearly a perfect casual game!

Score: 4/5

Vlogger Go Viral

vloggergoviral.pngHonestly, I brought this Android games series back because I wanted to talk about this game. This game is the perfect game when you are waiting for a few minutes to board your train or when you are waiting on your turn at the doctor’s office.

But this is directly also it’s main issue. This is a clicker game, where you can speed up the waiting by tapping. Apart from that, it’s a bit lacking.

This game has so much unused potential in v1.1 (Released on 21 december 2015), it’s a shame. It would be fun if the audience of your vlog channel gets tired if you make too much videos about one topic or you loose viewers that came to your channel for a certain topic.

The money to earn and spend on upgrades are in my eyes rather useless. Apart from some visual changes to the studio, I don’t see how it influences anything in the game. When I compare it to a similar game I honestly like, Bitcoin Millionaire, it feels less fleshed out.

Also, the animation is something I have some minor issues with. For researching, recording, writing and editing a video … The game uses the same animation.

This game can get boring quick. This game needs to have some more things to do when you are waiting for a video to finish. Or maybe I’m too harsh on this game. Since it’s the game I play when I have nothing to do for a few minutes.

The presentation is rather cute and stylish. And the whole idea behind the game is what got me interested in the first place. I just wished it had some more gameplay elements to make it more fun. Oh, and the microtransaction part seriously needs to less intrusive. Like in Bitcoin Billionaire.

Score: 3,5/5

Brain Dots

brain-dots-02-535x535

This game can be rather cruel at times by some puzzles. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In this game you play the role of a pencil that has to draw a line to connect two balls together.

You win the level as soon as the two circles touch each other. Even when they would fall to their doom a second later, when they touch, you win.

This game has a very interesting social feature. You can share your solution over social networks. When you solve a level, it takes a screenshot of the game that you can share.

The game design in this game is really good for an Android game. It teaches you the mechanic first before the actual puzzles with that mechanic are going to challenge you. Another good system is the hint system. It makes the game really forgiving when you don’t find the solution.

The only negative I have is that your lines don’t always properly draw. If you move your finger a bit too much down or up, the game gets confused. But it’s a minor annoyance, since the recent updates, I’m not getting it as much.

Score: 4/5

Wrapping up

So, that are three games I’m currently playing on my phone while I’m waiting for my train to go to work. Lately, I’m playing less and less on my phone since I … well, burned out on them.

That’s one of the main reasons I didn’t write an Android article for over almost a year. In any case, I hope you enjoyed my look into these games as much as I enjoyed writing this article. Also, feel free to leave your suggestions of Android games I should try out in the comments. I’m looking for games you can play on the side. It needs to be fun and keep you from boredom while waiting on … a train to go to work. The fewer microtransactions, the better.

I’m curious for the suggestion. Anyways, I’m rambling on now. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your day! Game on, friends! Game on!

Review #014: Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) ~ Great, in both ways.

escape-from-monkey-island-cover683213

Wikipedia entry

Alright, alright. I know my rule is that I need to finish the game before I review it. But really, screw it! I make an exception here. I’m stuck on this godforsaken island and I need to review this game to get off. And this last bit is really pissing me off. Writing this review was a whole lot of fun. It’s a long story to tell how I got here. Yeah, it wasn’t totally a second hand game I bought because the name Monkey Island was on it and I heard a lot about it and I totally wanted to play it once. Nah, that isn’t the case at all. I got this game shoved in my hands… I suppose. Anyways, I heard of various sources that this is one of the worst entries in the series. But are they correct with that? Is this game as horrible as people say? Or is this game just a great game but not for the Monkey Island series? Well, I have played it and I can tell. It might be my first Monkey Island game but I wouldn’t mind playing more before I get off this island. Yeah, this game is actually rather good. But, it has some serious flaws I’ll address in this review. Also, I tried to keep spoilers to an absolute low. So, don’t worry about that. I avoid to spoil the ending too. Since that wouldn’t be fun right? Anyways, enough joking around. I’m not on an island. I’m sitting at my chair ready to review this game that really irritated me and really brought me hours of joy. That’s why I choose the title that it’s “good” in both ways. It’s actually pretty good but it has some flaws. Hold on, this isn’t the conclusion yet. I haven’t told anything yet about the game. Man, this adventure really did something to me. Anyways, let’s take a look at this gem of the past. Here we banana… ehrm… Ignore that please. I meant, here we go.

Let’s escape!

mi4_019To avoid spoilers like I told you in the introduction, I’ll talk about the story. It’s great. I really enjoy games that sometimes don’t take themselves serious. And this game even breaks the 4th wall here and there. There are many funny moments and various genius moments that make this games it’s writing stand out.

The story’s characters are fleshed out and you really get to know them. Although some names feel not so creative, it gets the job done. But the voice acting in this game really makes this game. The whole game is voiced and I don’t often play games like that. I truly like the work the actors have done for the characters and it adds a whole bunch of greatness to the package.

And that package is also filled with something extremely pretty. This game looks amazing for a PS2 title. Even though this game is several years old. The graphics aged pretty well and the bright and colorful playground you get to explore really makes this game a ton of fun. But that doesn’t go for one thing. The sprite of your character is too small on the overworld map. Since you are playing a PS2 game you sit a bit away from the TV. So, you really need to pay attention that you don’t loose him.

 Did I really pull out my hair?

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This game is an adventure game. It really makes you think outside the box. And the replay value is there as well. Since various things are randomized. Like names of bad guys or moves. No two puzzles are the same and no one is too hard. Since you get vague clues everywhere. Not that they hold your hand or anything since this game has no tutorial. You need to find out the controls for yourself. The inventory is a bit tricky to get used to.

But there is one part of the adventure that really breaks this game. Thanks to that I also disagree with the quote on the cover. “We need more games like this.” Well, not if there is more stuff like the monkey combat. Sigh, did that bring this game down to an all time low. Without pen, paper, trial & error, a lot of patience and a lot of time you won’t be able to beat this. Compare it to you playing a game where you don’t get the rules explained.

While writing this review, I haven’t beaten this part of the adventure yet. It really pains me to tell it since this game really is great and worth finishing. But thanks to this monkey combat… And the worst part is that when you haven’t wrote it down, you are screwed since there is nowhere in the game to bring up a list of which moves you have and which ones you have not.

Okay, let’s calm down.

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Thankfully this game has many other things to offer. The length of this game is extremely good. It’s pretty lengthy and stops on the right moment. It’s a really good fill for at least several weeks without using a walkthrough.

The music is one of the highlights of this game. Exotic and melodic, but pay careful attention! It might get stuck in your head. The sound work is also really great. The feel of the game is set and the mood just works.

Something this game really misses, is a map of the area sometimes. Not only a map of the island you are on. A map of the city. It would make finding buildings a lot easier.

The final thing we can talk about is how the game has various places to save your game. The saving is done right. And the fact that you can have four playthroughs at the same time really makes this game worth playing. Anyways, let’s get on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Great adventure gameplay.

+ Amazing voice acting.

+ Great sound & music.

+ Amazing length.

+ Random parts in the story to have some replay value.

The bad:

– The Monkey Kombat.

– The controls aren’t easy to get used to.

– A log would have been really handy.

Final thoughts:

How much is this game worth? This is hard to say. Since the monkey kombat really breaks the game. It’s such a great idea yet, it doesn’t work. It makes me want to destroy the disc rather then finish it. Well, I might have gone quickly over this game in this review but that’s just because the monkey kombat annoyed me so much. And if they would cut out that part of the game, it would have been awesome. So that’s why I can give this game only in between score. But thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time. 

Score: 70 / 100.

Review #005: Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ But you promised…

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Link to the official English site.

You are locked up. You don’t know where you are or what your goal is. It’s time to play a game. No, not with a Saw but with a bunny. Yes, Zero Junior. You thought you could escape in the previous game, 9 hours 9 people 9 doors (For the DS, I’ll review this game one day)? Then think again. This time, you will have some major trouble. The game will go totally different now, and you will have a lot more explained.  Are you ready for an adventure? One that you rather didn’t have, one you regret living for? Okay, enough of that. This game got me extremely excited to play, I even didn’t know this game came to Europe. But when I saw it in my local game store, I bought the game with the little money I had and that night I didn’t sleep. But why? Is this such a good game and if it is, did it deliver? Or  was my sleepless night because of the terrible game I had to play? Well, let’s dive into this game and let’s check if it’s actually worthy to be played.

Zero III.

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This game isn’t your regular game. Oh no, it proves that the 3DS has games that aren’t for kids. This game is for 16 and up and for a good reason, it’s a scary game. Not supernatural but the scenery and the story is pretty creepy.

The game’s story is amazing and is extremely well done. It can be a bit cheesy here and there but I can forgive that. Some reviewers will tell that those points in a story are boring and all that, but those things actually aren’t all that bad, they don’t take you out of the experience.

A big improvement is that you can now jump inside the story. The game has several endings and to unlock the final true ending, you need to have seen most, if not all, other endings. If you are playing with breaks, the story can get confusing when you jump though, so pay attention.

If I talk about the story, I might spoil it for you. But it’s a great story. For the people who follow me on Twitter before I started this blog, you might have noticed that I tweeded this game to some Youtubers who looked for new games on their 3DS.

Even talking when this game takes place in the series in a spoiler. But the new UI in this game is a vast improvement over the last interface. Like I told earlier, this game’s jump manic in the story helps out a lot, so you don’t have to redo parts of the story like in the original. Also, it’s more clear which path you need to take to unlock a new ending, so the danger of running into a same ending twice is gone.

What pissed me off in game, but is an extremely nice touch is that some endings have a story lock. Yes, you need information from another ending. Confused? Well, I was too. But it gets extremely well explained in the game and I advise you to play it for the story alone.

I want to get out!

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The game is a mixture of visual novel and puzzle game. Your goal is to escape a certain room and find more clues. What’s unique in this game is that when you do it without getting hints, you unlock developer content. This makes for a lot of replay value in a visual novel game. Yes, they succeeded into getting replay value in a game that’s extremely story driven. Most visual novel games collect dust after they are finished.

The animation is extremely well done. Each character has their unique expressions and makes the story come more alive then the previous game. Even in 3D, the game is extremely awesome to look at. The location of the game itself is well done. You truly get the feeling of being trapped and wanting to escape.

The puzzles you need to solve aren’t that easy. Most puzzles require you to use that thing up in your head, your brain. The game will challenge you with sliding puzzles, logic puzzles and much more. A great tip is that you need to carefully look around in a room to not miss anything.

No area is repetitive. Each one has unique puzzles related to that place. I even didn’t find any similar puzzles from the previous game. The story and gameplay is also way different, except the escaping parts. In this game, the door to escape is right in front of your face, yet, the “key” isn’t.

The music is, are you ready for this, epic. I can’t find any bad song in the game or any tune I didn’t like. Often, I start a playlist on Youtube and listen to the music while I play games like Minecraft. The music gives the right vibes on the right moment. Surprisingly there are a lot of different tracks and all are of a decent length. Most of the tracks even have one word long names. Which is a nice touch of the developers.

Some parts in the game have even voice acting. This makes the game feel alive. You feel that you grow a bond with the characters and this makes you want to play more.

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Perfect?


This game is extremely close to being perfect to me. The music, animation, story, gameplay… It’s all there. Yet, I found some flaws in this game that really made me wonder. Are they going to address these issues in the sequel?

The first issue is the disappointing save file corruption glitch on the 3DS. Yes, I truly advise you all not to save in the puzzle rooms or your data can get corrupt. I learned it the hard way. The developers have yet to come out with a patch sadly enough.

In my opinion, the sound effects are lacking. Not that they aren’t good, they are pretty well done. But the same is silent without the music and really could use a bit more on the sound department in my opinion.

Also, some puzzles, the one with the liquor especially, are a bit tedious. Changing liquor and changing and more changing, it gets boring extremely quick.

Another small flaw is that the story becomes a bit predictable in the yet to unlock endings if you finished others. Either you already know some information or a similar path is walked on. But it helps with the continuity of the story though.

As a final remark, this game has a flaw it can’t fix. This game’s story will leave you with an empty feeling when it’s done. You don’t want to see “The End” anytime soon. This game is extremely good and the length, well it’s a long game. But when it’s over, you want more. More  escaping…

Conclusion

The good:

+ Epic story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Amazing gameplay.

+ Various and many improvements over the original.

+ The new elements in the game really helps the game.

+ Voice acting.

+ Additional content.

The bad: 

– Sounds, could be done a bit more.

– Save file corruption.

Conclusion:

This game is really close of getting a 100 of me. Did I enjoy this game? Of course I did. I was sad when the game was over and I actually plan to replay the game this summer. I might already know what is going to happen and how it will end, but the puzzles and the whole game are so fun to play through.

This game isn’t for everyone though. But once you get into the gameplay, you won’t let this game go easily. It’s such a well done game, I wish I still could play it a bit more. I normally don’t care about additional content like texts of the developers but in this game I did. Can you unlock them all?

Score: 99/100