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Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

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

My own views on game difficulty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How others think about difficulty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing off

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

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

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Creative Christmas #9 – Holiday Gameplay

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Today in the collab with LaterLevels, I have to answer another question. A question in a series called “Creative Christmas” and I still don’t have a theme for my articles yet. So, what should I do? Should I just give up finding a theme or should I keep looking? Maybe I should sit down on the sofa and think about it… Perhaps a great idea will come to me. But, I think better if I play a game. So, it might be a great idea that I take this controller and start playing this game. What was the question today again?

 The presents have been opened and dinner has been eaten, so you’ve got a bit of time for gaming while Gran is snoozing on the sofa. What’s the best video game to play during the holidays?

wargamesSo, what’s the best game to play during the holidays? Well, I prefer longer games to play during holidays. Games that can take you a couple of hours or days to complete. If you would finish a game too soon, what else should you play during the holidays?

In the past, I used to play one game and fully devote my time to it. Even when I had such a big collection, I wanted to see everything that game had to offer before I went to the next one. Nowadays, I play a lot of different games in a week. That has two reasons, first of all, I like the variation in what I play in a week. One day I feel like playing an RPG game and another day I more like playing a puzzle game.

So, what game can hold you over during the holidays? Here is a list of games that can be great time wasters to play during the holidays.

One,  a sandbox game like Minecraft or Terraria. Since these games have a randomly generated world, there is always something new to discover. Personally, I prefer Minecraft over Terreria, since I enjoy the more relaxed focus of Minecraft compared to the bosses and such in Terreria. I’m not saying that Terreria is bad in any sense of the word, I enjoy Minecraft more.

817pmfOZsTL._SL1500_.jpgTwo, an RTS game like Age Of Empires III or Europa Universalis IV. I can enjoy myself a lot of rounds in RTS games. Every time I choose a different nation to play with, the game will go completely differently. Even when I choose the same nation twice. I really enjoy the gameplay of RTS games, even while I’m not the best in the combat system. I’m also unable to beat the AI at the harder difficulties. But, honestly, I don’t really care. I’m enjoying myself and that’s all that counts.

Three, an (open world) RPG. It speaks for itself that an (open world) RPG can give you hours upon hours of fun. I’m talking about RPG’s that have multiple endings like Stella Glow or Mass Effect. But, games where the focus is more on the open world also count in this category like Breath of the Wild or Fallout.

Four, party games like Mario Party or Mario Kart. I mean, do I even need to explain myself here? Games that you play while you are together with your family and/or friends?

I think I could make this list a lot longer, but the question is: “what’s the best game to play during the holiday season.” I thought about it for a while, and to be honest, I think there isn’t one single game that fits the bill perfectly.

I use the holidays as a way to either catch up with my backlog or to have long playing sessions of games I wanted to complete.

Also, the answer changes each holiday season I think. There are a few games I replay each and every year because the nostalgia is just too strong. Games like Phantom Hourglass, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine and the Zelda Oracle games are perfect examples.

You know, this will sound extremely cheesy, but I think it’s best that you play a game that you enjoy and can relax with. The holiday season is a time to be happy and relax. Even when it’s together with family and/or friends. Just make amazing new memories and perhaps you will be able to find that one game you can play during the holiday season. The game that can have that kind of a special meaning to you.

So, that’s my answer. Told you it would sound cheesy. I do hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

 

My favorite gaming music #15: Music for a trip

image_1.jpgLink to more articles like these

So, next week I will be out of town. I will also be in a long car trip. That means, I have need a couple of good music tracks to listen to while on the road. So, let’s take a look at some video game music I love listening to or has some emotional value to them. For the people who have read previous entries in this series, what I’m going to say next is nothing new… But in these articles, I only talk about the original tracks. No remixes, unless it’s used in game. Also, one song per game. (I can write about the same game but it needs to be in another article.) I also link to the music each and every time and if I have written an article about it, I link that as well. In any case, let’s go! Let’s get the music pumping! Also, feel free to leave me a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the music I choose. 

Evoland II (PC) ~ Into The Forest

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So, in the past I actually started a let’s play of this game. I never really finished that let’s play since I got burned out on YouTube and I wanted to focus on my writing.

Rather recently, a friend of mine pointed out that a sequel was published. I didn’t even notice it. So, when I had the money to buy it, I bought it and started playing it. I don’t regret it at all. It’s a very good game but it’s a totally different experience then the original game.

This song is a song you hear very early in the game. The melody really sets me in the mood to explore the first area with monsters, the forest. It sets up the lighthearted atmosphere of the start of this game really well.

While I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m looking forward to what the game has waiting for me. This game shows great promise to me and I’m quite sure it won’t disappoint.

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) ~ Hyrule Field Theme 1

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Link to the first impression article

So, this game is one of the best games I have played in 2015. This Zelda spin-off didn’t disappoint at all. I’m also looking forward to the 3DS sequel which is coming out really soon.

If you read my blog often, you might know already that I’m a big fan of The Legend Of Zelda series. Since it’s in my eyes one of the best adventure games out there.

Various music tracks have a big emotional value to me. And when I heard this remix of the Hyrule Field theme in the game, I was hooked. It does it’s job perfect. It gets the player ready for action, ready for the war you are going to fight!

This track was my ringtone for a few months, I like it that much. If you liked this tune, really give the whole soundtrack a listen, it’s totally worth it, just like the game!

Europa Universalis IV (PC) ~ A Lifetime of War

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Link to my first impression article

This game is a close second for my top 10 games I played of 2015. I never thought I would play a game like this and actually enjoy my time in it. My best memories in this game are my sessions with my best friend Mizari. When I thought we were playing for just 1 or 2 hours, we actually played for 5 to 6 hours.

While this song won’t play in the vanilla build of the game, this song is one of the DLC songs you can buy. It’s from the Sabaton Soundtrack. The music of this DLC is really worth epic and 5 masterpieces like this for 3€? It’s a steal! Seriously, if you like what you hear with this song, go and buy the DLC.

I have no words for the greatness of this song. And when I started to play in-game… I actually start to sing along with some of the lyrics. Yeah.

Suikoden Tierkreis (DS) ~ Archivist Battle Theme

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First Impression article

This game, well it’s one of my favorite handheld RPG’s ever made. Last year, I replayed a part of this game and still found new content.

Apart from a big difficulty spike at the end and the bad voice acting, I think that this game is perfect. I love the story, atmosphere, visual presentation and the sound track. After I nearly finished it, I added this soundtrack to my music library. And now it a track plays from time to time. I rarely ever skip a track from this game.

This game introduced me to the Suikoden series. A game series I’m actually looking out for to get me a copy of the original PS1 series. Since I heard so much praise for this game I really want to see what it’s about.

Also, Konami if you are listening. Get this game over to Europe and/or announce a new entry in this series. If they are as amazing as this game, this is something I’m willing to buy!

Bravely Default (3DS) ~ That Person’s Name Is (Asterisk Boss Battle Theme)

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Link to my first impression article

So, the sequel of this game is coming out in a month, Bravely Second. This means, that’s it’s time to take a quick look back at the original game. This game has a pretty unique concept and is another RPG that ranks pretty high on my favorite games list.

RPG’s are one of my favorite handheld game genres and this game didn’t disappoint. What I mostly remember of this game, apart from the story and gameplay, is the soundtrack. I only chose one track as an example, but this soundtrack has many more amazing pieces of music that sets the mood very well.

I can’t wait to play the sequel to this game. I have to admit that I haven’t finished the original game yet, due to me having to grind… Which is a thing that I don’t really like. But what will be even more difficult is the fact that another RPG, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon releases around the same time here… Ugh, this will be a hard one. I have to be Brave…

Wrapping up

Alright, I have talked about 5 of my favorite music tracks. Maybe I could have chosen the name of this series better, since “my favorite” … well, it almost sounds like a sort of top 10; the title doesn’t really click with me anymore. But hey, I have written 15 articles of these. So, it’s kinda pointless in my eyes to change the title of this series now.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have soundtracks or songs you really love, leave them in the comments. I love listing to game music. I’m looking forward to it! Anyways, I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

2015: A Look Back

ano-2015-3294.jpgWell, 2015 is nearly at an end. As usual, everybody is doing (or preparing) their best games of 2015 lists. And I think I should join in the party. What games have I played and/or finished in 2015 and will stay with me? Let’s find out. Let’s look back to my gaming year of 2015. This list isn’t in an order, so all these games are my favorites in 2015. Keep in mind that this are MY favorite games. This isn’t a TOP 10 most popular or anything. Oh, yeah… Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your favorite games or your opinion on my picks. 

Note: For this list, games didn’t had to be released in 2015. I had to play them in 2015 in order for them to count.

Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS)

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Official site

Not that far from my birthday, one of my favorite 3D Zelda games got its remake released. As a kid, I loved the rings that turned you into monsters in the Oracle games. I wished you could attack other monsters using that monsters power… but alas, that wasn’t possible in the gameboy color games.

A friend of mine had a copy on his N64. I didn’t own a console until mid-way the Wii’s life. Yeah, I played handheld games and various PC games when I was a kid. But hey, that didn’t stop me from marveling at the games on consoles.

A few weeks before this game released on the 3DS, I actually bought it on the Nintendo eShop for my Wii. But then I got my hands on the 3DS remake. It’s so beautiful. Finally I can play this game without fearing that I need to give it back to a friend later. I finally own it. And I also own the special collector’s edition which makes this Zelda fan ever more happy.

It’s a small shame to admit, but I haven’t finished this game. It’s on my “TO DO” list, but I have the same issue I had on the DS. There are just too many good games coming out and I get so easily distracted.

Europa Universalis IV (PC)

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_edited Link to my article

I always thought that these kind of games weren’t my style. I’m not that good at managing big countries and fighting wars with other countries.

But after a good friend of mine helped me and learned me the ropes of this game, I have been playing this game from time to time and spent nearly 300 hours on it.

It’s challenging and it actually broadened my horizons. This game is actually a lot of fun and the soundtrack of this game is even one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year.

Now, I need to try and play this game on single player without Mizari’s help. Then I just might loose myself in this game even more. But that’s for next year, I think.

The Etrian Odyssey series

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Link to an article about an other game in this series.

Man, I have tried to get into this series a couple of times in the past but when I was able to pick up a copy of one of the games for cheap at a garage sale, I was hooked.

The gameplay is what hooks me the most. It’s a RPG with a very nice story where you explore a dungeon. The best mechanic of it all is that you have to draw your own maps. Also, there aren’t any random encounters. Since you can somewhat predict when you get attacked.

Lately, I have been playing two games in the series. I recently got myself a copy of Etrian Mystery Dungeon. The reason for that is, I enjoy the formula of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon that much, I wanted to play a game to took a different approach on the formula.

Now, I play these games off and on. But not on the train anymore. Since I can get very lost into the world and the game that I once almost missed my stop. I should finish one of these titles so I can actually review them. But they are very lengthy. So, yeah. I haven’t come close to beating one.

The Legend Of Zelda – Triforce Heroes (3DS)

407451_nds_b.pngOfficial website

This game recently got a free update to expand this game even more. But I’m running ahead of myself.

This game actually proves that you can have a multiplayer Zelda game and enjoy yourself quite a lot.

This game doesn’t take itself quite seriously. The story is in my opinion laugh-worthy, but in the good sense. The story is there just to explain one of the main mechanics of this game. Since this is a spin-off Zelda game, I’m rather glad that the big N didn’t make a story that tried too hard.

While this game has its problems, it’s a quite enjoyable game. The game is challenging (and cruel in some places) and actually feels like a “real” Zelda game (minus the overworld) to me. The update promises to always link you up with players that have a similar playstyle. If that works, one of my biggest complaints with this game would be fixed. I’m still playing around with the updated game. So, when I have beaten the game, I will write a review on my blog. So, stay tuned for that!

Honorable mentions

I don’t want to make this article too long, so I list a few games that I enjoyed this year and don’t want to leave out.

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U), Fantasy Life (3DS), Golden Sun Dark Dawn (DS), Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC), BoomBlox (Wii), Tomb Raider IV (PC), Typoman (Wii U), NES Remix (Wii U / 3DS), The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Wii U), Terriara (PC)

And there are a lot of other games I’m leaving out.

Wrapping up

The reason I didn’t write a top 10 this year is because I didn’t want to make a the harsh decisions of which games to place where. I play and enjoy games as a hobby. But this year, I played so many games I honestly lost track of it all.

That’s why my overview of this year is quite different. Because I forgot what games I played. I had to look in my logs which games I forgot. In any case, I have been working on some fun articles for next year.

Also, I build a very strong gaming computer. So, I replayed a lot of games just to see them in higher quality and enjoy them even more.

2015 was a fun year for me to blog. I have been doing this for over five years and I look forward what my 6th year of blogging will bring, next year.

2016 will be an amazing year for games. There are a ton of games I’m looking forward to. Both on PC, Wii U and the 3DS. Yeah, I play mostly on those systems. But I’m planning to write articles about consoles games as well. In any case, I hope you enjoyed my articles this year. Thank you to all my readers and the feedback I got. I really helped me grow. But prepare yourself for a year full of new articles about old and new games since I don’t feel like stopping anytime soon.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I also hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great holiday season and take care~

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

AAI2CoverenglishAce Attorney Wikia entry

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

Objection!

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

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

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

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

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

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

A scoop of a story.

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

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

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

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

No creativity anymore for subtitles.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The good:

+ The visuals are amazing just like the last games.

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

+ Lovely and thrilling story with a true unexpected end.

+ ….

The bad:

– The music is a bit so-so

– Some minor bugs in the translation.

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

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

Final thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Score: 90 / 100

Gaming Music – My Favorites #13: Not unlucky.

photo-1024x768Link to my previous music articles.

It has been a while since I wrote one of these, is it not? Well, it’s time to fix that. I wanted to do something special for the 13th article of this series, but the only thing I was able to come up with is 13 tracks. I’m sorry, but that’s a bit overkill. Anyways, for the people who don’t know this series on my blog… In these articles I talk about some game music tracks and why I think they are really good. I try to always link to a sort of extended version or at least a high quality one. I have a rule where I can’t talk about more then one track of a game (series) per article. I think I might have broken my other rule of trying to always get unique tracks. If you see me do that, feel free to point it out! That way I will try to do something unique in the next article. Anyways, enough talk! Put on your headset and get ready for some, according to me, amazing game music! (And as always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the music, games and/or your own favorite game music.)

Europa Universalis 4 (PC) ~ Battle of Lepanto

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedI think this is one of the best tracks in the entire EU IV soundtrack. It starts off kind of calm but around the 2 minute mark, that completely changes. When I close my eyes while listing to this I imagine an epic battle, where the camera slowly pans around like in those medieval war movies.

The chanting is perfect. It adds some additional flavour to the track and it makes it that more exciting to try and win your battle.

And what I adore even more about this track is that near the end, it goes to a calm-ish vibe again. Like it wants you to take a step back (or zoom out) to look how the situation is. Maybe I’m looking way too deep into this track, but it’s the vibe I actually get from this masterpiece of game music.

First Impression of this game.

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl (3DS) ~ Battlefield – Dyed in ScarletSoulFinal

If you read my previous article, then you should already know that I’m enjoying this game quite a lot. I also praised the music for being ear-candy. If I didn’t, well, then I do it now.

This is the music that plays when you fight one of the bosses. And this sounds just amazing. It really sets the mood for an epic battle. And let me tell you, the battle with that boss is tough. You won’t be able to beat it that easily. The build-up to the boss is also incredible. Making the music sound that much better.

I have to admit that once I just put my 3DS down to enjoy the music and forgot about the battle I was in for at least 5 to 7 minutes. Now, that is proof that this is good music to me.

Kirby’s Dream Land (GB) ~ Bubbly Clouds

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When I was looking through my game collection for some inspiration for this list, I found this gem of a game. I got this game as a present from my aunt. I was a bit jealous of my sister, since she got the sequel, where the copy ability was present.

But did that stop me from enjoying this game? Oh hell no. The first time I finished this game was on one of those long car rides from Belgium to Austria to have a nice relaxing walking holiday in the summer. Man, I remember bringing my gameboy into the mountain woods and play this game. Reaching this level, the 4th one if I recall correctly, and then looking around me to take in the scenery… Those are some amazing childhood memories.

SmoothMcGroove did his magic on this tune. Go listen to it right here. 

Doom (PC) ~ E1M1 At Doom’s Gate

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So, first of all… this is one for you buddy. MiseryLC, my best friend loves this game to death. And I think he has a very good point. I used to play the demo of this game over and over again.

I haven’t grown up with any oldschool console or PC games. I grew up with a Gameboy. But each time I felt like playing some old school games, since my pc couldn’t handle newer games… I kept coming back to idSoftware.

This song takes me back to those memories. But lately, it’s reminding me of the amazing friendship I have with my best friend at the moment. Also, his birthday is in the near future. Here is to more years to come man! We shall make it a wonderful day!

Editorial note: the game I actually played the most is the more fantasy based game: Heretic. Just something in that game was a bit more interesting to me then Doom. I’m not saying it’s better then Doom… Nah, in my eyes, they are equals.

 Ace Attorney – Miles Edgeworth – Investigations 2 (DS) ~ Objection 2011

AAI2Coverenglish

First Impression (of the fan translation)

Man, is this a great game. Finally, we get a better look into Miles and his friends’ personalities. If you thought that the first game was great, then go play the fan translated sequel.

The music is also just great. I love hearing the familiar, yet very fresh tune. One of my favorite tracks in this game is the one I selected for this article. It plays when you finally proved the lies you expose. It’s so upbeat and adds to the rewarding feeling you get.

Also, I have almost fully finished the game. So, that means I might write a full review on this game in the near future. So, stay tuned for that.

Wrapping up

So, there you have it. 5 songs added to my ever growing list of amazing game music. I hope you enjoyed listening to them. If you have suggestions, never be afraid to contact me.

I love gaming music. Quite a lot. To the point that I listen to this amazing website called RadioNintendo, every day at work and lately when I’m writing articles. Well, certain articles…. because with articles like reviews, I play the game soundtrack in the background so I can better visualize the game while writing.

But check the site out guys, the owner is quite a cool guy and the small community is starting to grow over time. It’s quite lovely to see. While the site might have a hick-up here and there, it’s some quite impressive coding.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article right here. Thanks for reading and until the next one. Until then, take care & game on.