Gamer’s Thoughts: Gaming Expos and Conventions

IMG_5853-1940x709.jpgThis week, it’s time for something completely different. The people over at Vegas.com inspired me to write an interesting article about my experiences on the various expo’s and conventions I went to. Why do I talk about them in my introduction? Well, they offer quite interesting Las Vegas travel deals if your planning on going to the LVL UP Expo! The LVL Up Expo is celebrating its fifth year in Vegas bringing some of the best gaming and technology experts. So, like I said before, in this article; I’m going to share some stories and experiences from the conventions I went to. In the comments, I would like to hear what experiences and stories you have from going to cons and expos. Feel also free to write a comment about the subject and or the content of this article. 

Sidenote: this isn’t a paid article.

What conventions did I go to?

gameforcethumbailcalendar.jpgI have been to quite a lot of conventions and expos. The last one I went to was in late 2016. That was GameForce in Mechelen, Belgium.

Conventions I went to are: Made in Asia, Minecon (Twice, in 2012 and 2015), an expo about gaming and education amongst others. If I’m allowed to count the number of garage sales I went to, I honestly lost count. They are quite popular in Belgium. As in,  in the spring-summer time, there is a garage sale almost every day somewhere in Belgium.

Storytime with Jonez

Let me share two stories. The first story is about one of the first expos I ever went to in my life. I wish I could the name of the expo, but it has been over ten years and I can’t find the name on the internet.

It was an expo where you went through the history of gaming. How the first games got made and how games are now. In each time period, you could buy games from other collectors. It was quite fun.

So, after we visited the area of the 80’s, one of my friends was quite thristy. Let’s call him Alex. So, Alex and I went to a soda machine. It was 1€ for a soda. But he only had a piece of 2€. So, he inserted his piece of 2€ and pressed the numbers of the soda he wanted. Instead of getting his soda and 1€ in return, he got two sodas and to make matters even worse, he got the wrong sodas. That actually happened. It was a moment I wished my mobile had a camera. So, I was able to film it. But alas, I was sporting an old Nokia back then without a camera.

Other things happened with that same soda machine, but my memory is quite fuzzy on it. I remember somebody getting two sodas with paying 1€. So, Alex got annoyed because he felt he got robbed.

The second story is more recently. So, my friends and I were just too late to pay for VIP tickets to go to a certain convention. So, we paid for the normal tickets. Fast forward to the convention itself and one of my friends saw some boxed with bags sticking out. She took one for each of us. We continued to walk and when we returned ten minutes later, a security guard was standing there and stopping people from grabbing bags.

It turns out that it was the VIP Loot bags that she grabbed. The SMITE-figurine is standing on my desk from that day on.

Going to a convention or expo?

What are some important dos and don’ts you’d suggest to someone attending their first convention?

Don’t…

… go unprepared to the convention or expo. Read up about the history, events, and exhibitions of the convention or expo. Also, this way you avoid buying duplicate games/items.

… take pictures of people cosplaying without asking. Some people don’t like to have their picture taken without them knowing.

… take too many valuable items. At cons and expos, there is always a big crowd and things can happen.

… go spending right when you enter. Take a look around before you spend all your money. Otherwise, you are out of money before lunch.

Do…

… plan out your route. But don’t overdo it. Give yourself the chance to distract you.

… enjoy your time there. Be yourself! For example, what I did at Minecon was one day to see the con and one day to see some panels.

… read up about the rules of the expo and/or con. Are you allowed to take drinks and snacks?

… go with friends that are also interested in the subject of the expo and/or convention.

What items should you bring along with you?

A wallet with some cash, a bank card, a mobile phone, a camera, a water bottle (if allowed), a snack (if allowed), a good mood, a 3DS (man, the Streetpass hits you get are crazy!).

Also, some advice, if the con or expo has an official app. Download & install it. It usually contains the map and planning of the convention. You never know when you need it.

What should you wear?

Comfortable clothing and good walking shoes. Unless you want to cosplay, then go in your costume.

Believe me, you will do a lot of walking at the convention or expo. Get a good rest the day before the convention.

Speaking about cosplay, research your character. I have seen various times that people didn’t know a lot about the character they are cosplaying and they fall out of character. This is a no-brainer of course but look at the rules of the convention or expo. Don’t go cosplaying with a gun if they aren’t allowed.

What are your favorite activities and exhibits?

My favorite activity at expos or cons are the ones where you can hear your favorite group has a panel. I attended the MindCrack panel at Minecon 2015. I was just too late to attend the panel in 2012. The room was full, so we were unable to attend.

My favorite exhibits are the ones where I can buy merchandise of my favorite games. Since I live in Europe, it isn’t that easy to get merchandise of Japanese and/or American products. Since I have to pay a big shipping fee and things like that. So, that’s why I go to cons.

And of course, I love exhibits where I can see an upcoming product I’m excited about. Oh yeah, before I forget, exhibits, where I can buy games to add to my collection or complete my collection, are great too.

Wrapping up

After the convention and/or expo is over. Feel free to take a look back at the past day(s). What have you learned, bought, experienced… I always had a strange lonely feeling the day after a convention or expo.

Usually, after I went to a garage sale, I post a picture of my loot on my personal Facebook or on my Twitter.

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

Review: Kirby – Return To Dreamland (Wii)

Kirbys_return_to_dreamland_boxart.jpgWikipedia entry

It has been quite some time since I looked at a console game. Well, honestly, I do play console games here and there… But mostly, I play games on my handhelds and my PC. In any case, a few days ago, I have finally beaten a Kirby game I have been playing on and off for the past few years. It’s called Kirby’s Return To Dream Land on the Nintendo Wii. Before I begin the review, I first want to address something about the name of this game. In Europe, this game has a different name. It’s called Kirby’s Adventure Wii. This is really annoying to me since the first Kirby game on the Gameboy is called Kirby’s Adventure. Why didn’t we Europeans got the same name as the Americans? Such a shame. In any case, enough stalling. Time to get into the review. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. Thanks in advance for that. 

The story of Kirby

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In this game, Kirby’s adventure has two big parts. In the first part of the game, Kirby helps a stranded alien to repair his ship. In the second act, Kirby helps to defeat the evil overlord in on the alien’s home planet.

That’s all I’m explain about the story. You rarely find deep story lines in a Kirby game. From all the Kirby games I played, the story is just there. Yet, the twist at the end is nice. While I honestly saw it coming, I didn’t mind. The story is fun enough to play through. In my opinion, the story isn’t that memorable. It doesn’t bother me since the game has a lot more to offer than just the story. I found that the journey was more fun than the actual story.

The writing of the story was great. I’m so glad that they used text boxes in this game since I feel that’s how Kirby stories shine the most.

4 players

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A moment of honesty here, I haven’t played this game with 4 players at once. But I have played this game with two players at once.

Together with my cousin, we have played this game a lot. This game is what I call a “sibling game.” The difficulty of this game is just right. It’s challenging for the younger players but it’s not too hard. Yet; it can be challenging to the older sibling if (s)he let’s his or her guard down.

Speaking about the difficulty, the last boss battle is rather brutal in my opinion. Since it’s mostly in a totally different gameplay style which I’m not an expert in. Then this game can become rather difficult.

In any case, the gameplay of this entry in the Kirby series is what you can expect from any other Kirby game. It’s a fun platformer where you can copy (some of) your enemies powers. The powers in this game are fun to use and every single one of them are useful. Apart from one, the sleeping one. Still as unuseful as ever.

In certain points of the game, you can receive a special powerup. This one transforms Kirby into a powerhouse. The way this powerup is used makes for some fun(ny) situations. But, that’s something I’m going to leave up to you guys and girls to discover.

Also, in each level, you can find some wheels. With those wheels, you can unlock power-up rooms. In these rooms, you can easily get any copy ability you want. On the top of those rooms, you have a doll where you can practice them.

With those wheels, you can also unlock challenges. In these challenges, you have to complete a course using one copy ability in a certain time.  These are fun to play since I love that kind of challenges.

Actually collecting the wheels can be rather challenging since some of them are very well hidden. Also, in some levels, you have a sort of bonus stage where you fight a boss at the end to receive two or more wheels. Those are really difficult and some of them, I wasn’t able to beat in few tries.

Since this is a Kirby game, I have to mention the mini-games. And man, they are a real blast to play. I have lost hours playing those with my niece. Mostly the ninja star throwing one is a real blast to play in my opinion. I had a lot of fun with it.

In any case, I think I prove my point that there is a lot of fun gameplay in this game. But I still have to talk about different aspects of this game so let’s do just that.

Kirby and more Kirby

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So, first of all, the length of this game is perfect. This game has 7,5 worlds. Each world contains around 5 levels, with the final level being a boss.

The 8th world is actually a long level with the final boss of the game. It doesn’t have multiple levels. That’s why I count it as a half world.

In Kirby tradition, each world gets a funny name. And yes, most of them have to do with food.

The presentation of this game is one of the strong points of this game. I really love the art style in this game. It’s very bright and colorful, yet sometimes the game uses a way darker pallet to suit the story.

The animation is really top notch. I have no complaint about them. The world design and the animations are really well crafted. Combined with some amazing level design, this game is almost perfect.

The music in this game is really catchy. I wish I was able to buy the soundtrack somewhere since it’s that good in my opinion. But hey, I didn’t expect anything less from Hall Laboratory.

The controls are very responsive and I have nothing to complain about there. If you doubt about the controls, you can see them in the pause menu.

Up until now, it seems that I haven’t anything bad to say about this game. Well, there is one nitpick. That’s that the first player always leads. When the first player dies, the second player dies as well. That’s the only negative I have with this game.

It’s time to wrap this review up. Here comes the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

-The first player dies -> Everybody dies.

The good:

+ Amazing presentation. (Visuals & animation)

+ Very nice controls.

+ You can play with up to 4 players.

+ While this game can be rather easy, some challenges can be challenging to veteran players.

+ Great level design. And it’s fun to play more than once through some levels.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you are looking for an amazing Kirby game, look no further. This Kirby game is one of the best in the series. The gameplay returns to its roots (like in the first Kirby games) and it’s a blast to play.

I had so much fun playing this game with my family and friends that I would love to recommend it to every Nintendo fan.

When you like what you saw on the screenshots, give this game a shot! I also heard that this game came out on Wii U Virtual Console, so there is no excuse to not pick up this gem of a game. It’s released in the summer of 2015. So, go ahead and pick up this game. It’s totally worth it.

Score: 100/100

What do games mean to me? – Why do I collect games?

Arpegi BackFamily members, friends or people around me sometimes ask me: “Why do you play so much games?” or “Aren’t games for young(er) kids?”. This is a question I find really difficult to answer. I don’t really like the question because you don’t always know what the opinion on games is of the other person. Some people even judge me because I collect games and not play them all. I do play the games I collect but the games I finished are the ones I’m interested in. I admit that I have played some games just to learn more about a certain genre or why are a certain series is so popular. But hey, now I’m already answering the question I asked myself in the title. Time to start explaining! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your story in the comment section down below. (This is going to be a multi-part series of articles. So, in this article I will explain why I collect games)

Why did I start collecting games? 

Why do I collect games? It’s actually an end result of somethings that happened in my past. The first reason I started collecting video games is because of the fun trips I always took to garage sales as a child. I enjoyed seeing people selling the things they didn’t need anymore and with that money buy other stuff they could use. What was even more fun was selling the games I didn’t play anymore or wasn’t interested in anymore in order to buy some new and interesting games.

When I hear similar stories from people in other countries like America, I always hear stories of people reading Nintendo Power or any other form of media. But here in Belgium, the gaming market wasn’t that big back then. From what I can recall, there was a PC Gaming magazine that started in 1994, I would be one year old then. There was no magazine like Nintendo Power, there was [N]Gamer, that I had to wait for since it came from our neighbors, the Netherlands. My point is, that video games weren’t that big in Belgium compared to other parts of the world.

Talking about other people’s their stories, their first games are always something among the lines of Pokemon, DooM, Tetris or any similar big title. (Keep in mind, talking about my age group here. Early 20’s.) Yet, my first game wasn’t Pokémon. The earliest game I can remember is Pac-Man for the Gameboy. Where I couldn’t beat the first five levels. Yet, I adored playing it. Just seeing those little animations were adorable in my eyes.

How do I collect?

11878952_858379824210100_8307692500885735205_oIn the spring and summer time, I go to the nearest garage sale. I wake up pretty early to avoid that other collectors get to the interesting stuff before me. I save up some money to go snooping around. Most of the time, I go with my mother. It’s really fun to do since my mom collects certain plates that her grandmother had.

When she spots something, she always notifies me. She also learned me some tricks how to some games even cheaper. Since mostly last year, when a friend or a family member is on a garage sale, they call me to check if I’m interested in the games they find.

I think that most of my games come from garage sales. Here in Belgium, we don’t have a lot of stores that sell second hand games for old consoles. Game Mania, our video game store, sells games from previous generations but rarely older. Which is a shame really.

Another way that my collection grows are gifts from friends and family. When people clean up their attic, my family stops them from throwing away the games and the merchandise. This is something that makes me very happy. Receiving a bundle of games from somebody who didn’t need them anymore, it’s something that makes me happy. On Facebook, there is a group where people give away stuff for free. On occasion, there are games on there. My collection got bigger from that too.

Something that doesn’t happen a lot, but I do here and there is buying stuff for real cheap from stores. When something is on sale or when I find a big title for real cheap. I bought the BioShock trilogy for 20€. And I’m not regretting it at all. Oh, something I tend to do in game stores is looking for game bundles. When some games are sold together.

Something that really disappoints me in the current gaming market is that everything is going digital. When I don’t have a game box, cd, cartridge… I feel that I don’t really own the game in the first place.

Closing off

Back in 2012, I made a YouTube video showing off my collection. I’m not going to link it here since it’s really out dated. My room has changed quite a lot since then and my collection has even grown. When I find the time, I might make an update video… But that won’t be for the near future.

Collecting and researching games is something I really enjoy. Going to garage sales with family and friends is something that you could wake me up for any day. The big reason why I collect is because I just enjoy playing games. Getting lost in fantasy worlds or getting a relaxing experience. Games were a big part of my childhood. Now-a-days, I play games to relax, to enjoy my free time.

But games have an even bigger influence on me. I listen to gaming music when I’m at work. I read books based on games. Most of the sites, channels, Twitter accounts… I follow are mostly always game related.

In any case, I would love to hear the stories of my fellow collectors around the world. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below. I reply to them all. So, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this look into my personal life. In the future I will write more parts to this series so, if you have suggestions … Feel free to contact me. In any case, have a great rest of your day.

Game Quicky Review: Adventerix (Android) ~ Old yet new

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So, this month will be filled with GBA goodness. But let me start with a quick article about an Android game I was asked to review. I had to push the review back and back because I was busy and I had other articles planned. In any case, I think it’s time to give this a honest review. But because this is a small game, I don’t think it can have a full blown 1000-ish word long review. That’s why I do a quicky on this. With my new format 🙂

Google Play Store link

Before the start

I have this thing in my personality… The thing is that I’m quite polite. So, I wanted to thank the developer to give me this chance to review their game. While my critique / review can rip some games apart, I always try to do it with respect for the developer.

They gave me a review copy of this game and they told me that they were a small indy company working together on this game. Because this is their first game they wanted to make sure it’s good so that they can do these kind of things in the future.

The good

ss (2014-10-09 at 08.05.07)This game is rather nicely put together. It’s quite clear that this game had a lot of care and thought put behind it. For a couple of people, the quality is pretty nice. The gameplay is also quite unique and are fun to play with.

It’s exactly what it says on the tin, it’s a Tetris-ish puzzle game.

The “meh”

The music that plays in the background doesn’t put the right mood. It plays some Scottish sounding music. This doesn’t put you in the mood of playing a sort of Tetris game at all. At least in my opinion. At least it isn’t a cheap Tetris remix and they created original music. It deserves a “meh” because it isn’t really fitting.

Visually, the game looks and plays quite nice. But the enemy design just looks silly to me. The small alligators just don’t click with me. Maybe they should change it to the natural enemies of the frog? That way you can sneakily educate players on frogs.

The bad

In every level you get one additional hit, for some reason. But you can’t see if you used up that hit or not. That is pretty lame.

Also, sometimes I wasn’t able to move my Tetris pieces just right. Because there isn’t a tutorial, it isn’t clear how to move the Tetris pieces around.

Guys, it’s quite nice to show you my score, but could you please just show a highscore list then? Since now the score is just kind of there, serving no purpose.

Conclusion

So, if you ask me, this game is worth it. While it’s not perfect, it’s quite enjoyable to play. The price isn’t wrong too. For one buck, this is something that you won’t regret buying.

I have a good feeling that the developers of this game are going to add more levels and content so, about the current short state of the game… I’m totally not worried about it. The advice I’m giving them is that the game needs some additional polish. I think the best idea is to do that while you release new levels. Otherwise it might get stale to others.

Anyways, I think I’m going to leave it here for this quicky. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. The next article will be my first in the GBA month. So, get hyped.

Score: 4/5

Game Music: My Favorites – Numbero 9: Nintendo (3)DS Month Special!

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Read more gaming music articles.

Since this month’s theme is the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS, in this new music article, I will list some of my favorite tracks of the system. New readers, in this series I talk about my favorite tracks in the games I have played. So, when I haven’t played a game, I won’t talk about it. I will explain also why I selected the track or I talk about the feelings and history it has with me. I have a few rules though. I only select original tracks. So, I don’t select remixes of the tracks. Also, to limit myself, I only select one track per game per article. So, if I want to talk about 2 tracks of the same Kirby game, I have to do that over two articles. My biggest fear is always that I might have talked about a track in the past. When you ever notice that I talked about a song twice, feel free to leave me a comment to let me know. In that case, I will add an additional track to my next article in the series to make up for it. You could leave other comments as well of course. Like what your opinion is on the games, music and or the article. Also, for anyone wondering, yes this game is real. There is really a synthesizer on the DS. 

#1: Time Hollow – Friends

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I recently reviewed this game. So, why not included one of it’s tracks in this article? When I publish everything according to how I planned it for this month, it should be the previous article!

So, this track is very lighthearted and pretty upbeat. I do have to admit that I sometimes place this track to the wrong game. Such a shame. One day, I confused it with another track from the game Lux Pain called Pumpkin Pon. It has similar elements.

From now on, I will try to avoid getting the two mixed up. Because I wrote an article on this, so I have to remember right?

I was planning to write something unique here, using the elements of the game. But when I read over it twice, I noticed that I might spoil a bit of the story. And I want to avoid that. Like I said in the introduction of my review. Anyways, give this one a listen. 🙂

#2: Suikoden Tierkreis – By the pride of the sword

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I was amazed when I found out that I haven’t talked about this track yet! I wrote an article about this game in the past, a first impression. Since I have been playing it again lately, it has been keeping me up at night. Yeah, I fell in love with this game. The concept, the story, the gameplay… I love it all.

The game does have it’s flaws though, yet the soundtrack isn’t one of them. Not at all actually! The soundtrack is one of the strong points in this gem of a RPG.

I used to RP in the past on my forum and I used this theme for my main character! I liked it that much. Up until now, I use to listen to this style of music when I’m writing a story about a hero that leaves on a journey. The music has inspired me to do all sorts of crazy twists in my stories.

Anyways, give it a listen for yourself. Since I’m blinded by pure love for this game.

 #3: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity – Ending

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Let’s pick one of the 3DS library. And this track of the soundtrack is just amazing. You finally finished the game and you have beaten the final boss. Now, you see the story play out. Like I said in my review of the game, the ending of this game will make you emotional.

Listing to this amazing piece of music while seeing the credits roll feels so good. I felt rewarded when I heard this song. Honestly, I’m considering making this my cellphone ringtone or my alarm clock. I love it that much.

Lately, all games are going for a more orchestrated version of their soundtrack. It still blows me off my socks to hear that they do this also for portable games. This gives me hope in seeing more amazing adventures coming to my portable systems.

I just don’t feel as rewarded as I finish a game on a console. Maybe it’s the nostalgia for portable gaming or might it be something else? Who knows?

Anyways, I think I have said enough about this track. I encourage you to listen to this amazing piece of music. But this music is “stronger” when you hear it in-game.

#4: Okamiden – Preparing for action

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Remember how I talked a while ago about Okami? Well, there is a sequel of that game. On the Nintendo DS! And it works great! I’m even planning to write a review of this game in this DS themed month.

If I don’t write an article about this game this month, you may be sure that one day I will write about this! Since this is one underrated gem on the DS. I’m really hoping to see a 3rd game in the Okami series. So, Capcom, get to work please!

About the music, this is another case of “sounds better in-game”. The whole soundtrack of Okami and Okamiden is amazing to listen too. If you would ask what my favorite track is in the game, I wouldn’t be able to answer. Since I do enjoy them all. I have some that I love more then others, but there is no track that really stands out for me. Yeah.

 #5: The Legend Of Zelda – Spirit Tracks – Realm Overworld

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I do remember the hate and trolling this game got when it was announced. Link in a train? A lot of people made fun of it. While at first it looked like a strange idea for a Zelda game, in the end, it worked out in my opinion.

While the game was exciting, I honestly think they could have done a little bit more with the train mechanic. But, hey, this article isn’t mean to review the game. That’s for later this month. (Or I might change my mind and review Phantom Hourglass).

Anyways, I was hyped for this game. When I finally got my hands on this game, I enjoyed it a whole lot. This game has several winks to previous titles. Even in the music. The overworld track reminds me a bit of the ocean theme and the Hyrule field theme.

I think the soundtrack of this game is one of the best soundtracks in a handheld Zelda game. While it’s dangerous to say that, since you have Ocarina of Time on 3DS (remake) and that’s a remake of many people their favorite game.

Closing words

There we go, 5 tracks picked from the Nintendo (3)DS library that I consider as amazing tunes. It’s quite clear that I can’t pick a favorite piece of music in games. I mean, I nearly wrote ten articles about it.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading and listing to the music. As I said in the introduction, feel free to leave a comment. I read them all! But this will do it for this article. I hope to see you in one of my next articles.