Review: Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (GBC) ~ Speedrun Time!

InfernalMachineGBCWikipedia entry

Times can change quite a lot. Way back in 2014, I wrote an article about one of my most favorite childhood games ever made. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. You might think, why am I reviewing this again? Well, in today’s article I’m going to review the port to the Gameboy Color. I still remember getting my copy for one of my birthdays. Since I wasn’t allowed much time on the computer and I saw I was able to take the game on the go with me, the solution was easy. My godmother aunt bought the game for me and gave it to me when I was sleeping over at her place. A few days later, I want to my cousin who introduced me to this game and he got so jealous of my copy that he started to beg his mother for a copy as well. Amazing memories. Anyways, now that I’m also speedrunning the game (both this version and the PC version) and that I have fully finished this game, I think it would be a neat idea to review the GBC version of this game. Is it a good game or should we ignore it? Let’s talk about that while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Editorial note: want to see runs of this game? 

So, what happened?

3If the developers of this game were able to cram the whole PC game into a Gameboy Color game, I would be amazed. But we all know how powerful the Gameboy Color was a playing a 3D game on that wasn’t fully realized yet. There are a few 3D titles on the Gameboy Color but not too many. So, some things had to give. But, how much had to go and did we still have a good game left? 

Let’s first talk about the extremely strange cuts into the story of this game. When you are used to playing the PC or N64 version of this game, the story in the Gameboy Color game is quite strange to say the least. There is so much less story in this game that if you would only play the Gameboy Color game, you might be unable to follow along.  

The best example is almost the whole ending cutscene after the first level is cut out of the game. You don’t get an explanation on why Sophia was looking for you and the whole setup of the story falls in like a cake you take too soon out of the oven. Yet, when you have played the PC/N64 version, you’ll recognize the story beats right away and know where in the story you are. 

So, since the gameboy wasn’t powerful enough, some sections and even entire levels have been cut. For example, there aren’t any final bosses in this version and Palawan Temple, Jeep Trek and King Sol’s Mines are missing in this version. Instead, we got a new level, the Russian Border. This level is a sort of extended version of the Tian Shan River opening section. 

The story in this game is a mess. I don’t really advise that you try to follow it if you haven’t played the PC/N64 version. It’s a shame since the story of the original versions is great. It really makes you feel that you are playing through an Indy movie. Fun fact, did you know that this game was first going to be about aliens before it got veto’ed because the script for the 4th movie was in development? That movie some Indy fans don’t talk about.

So, is this 2D or 3D?

indjgb004Even games with a messy story can be quite fun to play. So, is this game fun to play? Well, in my honest opinion, I’m having quite a lot of fun in playing this game, but this game has a lot of special quirks you need to get used to, to be able to enjoy this game to the fullest. The first one is that this game is sort of 2,5D game where you look at Indy from above. Thanks to the good use of shadows and different textures, you can be able to quickly see when you are approaching a cliff. 

While you can explore in this game, this game is somewhat linear. There aren’t a lot of moments where you need to backtrack. There is a certain order in which you have to play and beat the level but finding that out is half the fun. Now, as soon as you get a hang of the quirks of this game, it really opens up. Together with the extremely responsive controls, this game is challenge to play. 

So, when I started to speedrun this game, I hadn’t beaten the whole game yet. I had beaten the first 3 levels in my childhood, but the 4th level gave me a lot of trouble. When I actually started to run the levels I hadn’t played yet, I challenged myself and I tried to finish them without looking at the guide. To be honest, I was extremely surprised how the knowledge of the PC version helped me in certain sections and that this game also has unique sections and puzzles. 

Is the game difficult? Well, in a certain degree, yes it is. Healing items are more scarce in this game and there are no checkpoints in this game. When you die, you have to restart the level. A difference in terms of difficulty in this game is that poison can run out. Yes; it can run out. Oh, and med kits don’t heal poison. Only venom kits (green medkits) do. 

Surprisingly, the machine parts have the same use as in the PC/N64 version. The Azerim (flying) tool works a small bit differently but has the same concept behind it. So, knowledge of the PC/N64 version can be extremely helpful in this game to not get stuck. Since, like the original game, the GBC version doesn’t have a tutorial. It doesn’t help you in explaining the controls and the fact you can interact with certain things. A big piece of advice from me, if you are stuck, use the hand on anything strange. If a certain tile on the floor looks strange, use your hand on it. Since lifts aren’t always clear that they are lifts. 

So, the controls. Earlier I said they are extremely responsive. Now that I have quite some experience with them thanks to speed running this game, I have to say that they are precise but can feel a bit floaty. It’s something that has to click with you, or you will have some trouble with it. The D-pad is used to control Indy, the A button interacts with the selected item and B jumps. Start opens the inventory and Select cycles through your tools. 

For this review, I have played quite a lot on my Gameboy Advance as well and I have to say that I can’t decide if I like the fact that I run on an emulator since it gives me more screen space and I can connect my XBOX controller for finer control, or if I enjoy the charm of the game on a smaller screen with a bit more stiff controls. The difference in controls might have to do with the fact I’m running this game. 

Another big difference you might have noticed between the PC/N64 version and the GBC version from the inventory screen you can see a bit higher in this article is that you can only carry 5 of each healing item. You can’t carry more of them. You can purchase more of them with the treasures you find at the end of each level. But, here is something interesting. You can sell your healing items. For example, when you want more medkits, you can sell your green medkits. 

So, what is the gameplay here? This game is an adventure game where you have to platform your way to the end. All the while you have to solve puzzles, fight enemies and avoid traps. This adventure takes you through 15 levels that quite closely follow the structure of the N64/PC version. The red bar is your health and the blue bar is your stamina. 

To beat this game, you have to pull blocks, jump and swing over gaps and solve some puzzles. Most of the puzzles have to do with using the right item on the right location. Sadly enough, picking up and using items can be a bit pixel perfect which is annoying during runs. 

Sadly, you don’t have a map in this game for the larger levels. But, all in all, the levels won’t take you that long to beat. The longest level is Nub’s Tomb, which took me around 11 minutes in my speedrun. Now, certain levels can be beaten in under a minute if you know what you are doing. If you hold up while Indy is moving over a ladder, he can climb it… No matter how long his fall is going. And this game uses that mechanic in certain levels as well. 

All in all, the gameplay is quite addicitive. Especially if you enjoyed the original game. But, I can understand why people would get frustrated and lost in this game if they haven’t played the PC or N64 versions of this game.  

It’s fine

gfs_44058_2_11Now, visually this game looks fin in my opinion. There are better looking games on the Gameboy Color yet, I find the atmosphere the developers created with the visuals is quite nice to look at. But, it looks the best in the correct ratio. It doesn’t look bad in a bigger screensize, but you will have some blur here and there. 

Sadly enough, sometimes certain things like breakable walls or places where you can swing with your whip blend in a bit too much in the background. I’m certain that if when you play this game in a darker room or if you suffer from colorblindness that you’ll be unable to see them sometimes. Which is a shame. I wish they stood out a bit more since things like this give the neat visuals a bad name. 

As said earlier, there are a lot better looking games on the Gameboy Color but with the “weaker” visuals, they still pull off an amazing atmosphere. One of my favorite levels visually is Nub’s Tomb. It also has the worst puzzle in the game with the music puzzle. And let’s not forget the jump over the lake bit and if you miss one jump, you have to restart that whole section.

Are there glitches in this game? Well, not a lot. I found a few spots where the game gets confused so you are able to stand on places you aren’t supposed to stand and if you fall into the liquid in the Infernal Machine level and you are holding a direction button while facing a wall, you don’t die until you release the movement button. 

Now, going back to the visuals. There are also animations in this game. These animations are good. They really add to the game, all the while they don’t feel out of palace. They really blend into the created atmosphere really well. I always enjoyed seeing Indy swing over large pits and always hearing that amazing melody is just icing on the cake. But, let’s not mention how tricky it is to get in the right position to whip over a pit. 

Sadly, in terms of sound effects and music, this game lacks quite a lot. Apart from the main theme at the start and some short tunes, there isn’t a lot of music in this game. In the later parts of the game, there is a bit more music but it mostly aids in the puzzles or certain a bit more tension. I wish these moments were used a bit more. And there aren’t a lot of sound effects either. If I didn’t have to focus on my gameplay, I would play this game while listening to music. It’s a shame since when this game has music, it’s amazing chiptune goodness but it’s so sparingly implemented it’s annoying. Thankfully, the walking sound effects of Indy aren’t annoying. 

There are 15 levels in this game and when you play each level optimally, I think you can beat this game in 4 to 5 hours in your first run and without using a guide. Currently, I’m griding for a full run of this game and I estimate that it will take 2,5 hours if I don’t make too many mistakes. Granted, that’s when I skip all the treasures that are in most of the levels. Apart from, I think, 2 levels, there are 10 treasures hidden in each level. But, in this version of the game, they are a bit well less hidden compared to the PC/N64 version.

The final thing I want to talk about is the password system. As a speedrunner, I’m a bit on the edge on this mechanic. Before I started running this game, I hated this system. Why couldn’t I use the save system like in the Zelda games and other Gameboy Color games. But, now that I run this game, it’s quite helpful in training certain levels or trying to set a new level record. So, yeah. 

Anyways, I think it’s high time for a conclusion is it not? Let’s wrap up this article with a nice conclusion to summerize my thoughts.

Summary time

The good:

+ Enjoyable gameplay with exploration and nice puzzles.

+ Decent visuals (for the most part)

+ …

The bad:

-Butchered story.

-Too little in terms of music.

-Some sections are a bit too pixel perfect.

-Lack of tutorial.

Final thoughts:

Is this game worth your time? If you enjoy games like the old school Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, I would say yes. If you enjoy unique and special old mobile games, I would also recommend this game. But, know that this game is a niche game and it has it’s quirks.

Two things can happen. It can click like it did with me and then you have a nice experience all the while you see the flaws and issues that this game has. The other thing is you realize that this game isn’t your cup of tea and you don’t play it. 

I honestly think that it’s quite impressive how they were able to cram a somewhat solid version of the PC/N64 version into a small Gameboy Color cartridge. I mean, the rom file for this game is only 1MB! This whole game is 1MB and it can provide you with a decent Indy game..? Sign me up! 

Now, if you are on the fence about it, just give the first two levels a try. If you notice that it’s not your cup of tea, then skip this game. If you enjoyed playing the first two levels, I would highly recommend you continue to play this game. 

Granted, I think that the nostalgia for this game might have placed a lot of rose colored glasses on my eyes and I might see this game in a better light then it actually is but should that matter? I think this game is a nice gem in the Gameboy Color library and I would recommend it to people who enjoy adventure games. All the while, I would warn it’s an unique and special game with it’s own flaws but it’s still enjoyable. If only the story was a bit more intact… 

With that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you so much 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.

Score: 80/100

 

Review: Pokémon Pinball (Gameboy)

By Merman (@merman1974)

Console: Game Boy Color (playable on DMG Game Boys, and Super Game Boy for Super NES)
Developers: HAL Laboratory & Jupiter
Publisher: Nintendo
Release dates: Japan – April 14th 1999, North America – 28th June 1999, PAL – Australia July 13th 1999 and Europe October 6th 2000

pp_box_art_hires

– US box art.

pp_japan_box_art

 Japanese box art –

 

 

 

 

A Pokémon pinball spin-off makes a lot of sense, not least because the Pokéball is round like a pinball. Let us look back at some of the unique features of the first Pokémon Pinball game.

pp_main_title

– Title screen.

 

 

 

 

 

The Pokémon you are catching are of course from the original Generation One game, Blue and Red (as they are known to Western audiences). The game has two separate tables, called Blue and Red, featuring the Pokémon from the relevant game. Unlike other Pokémon titles, you do not need to trade to unlock all 151 in the battery-backed Pokédex – but it is possible to trade high-scores via the Game Boy Color’s infrared port, as well as print out high scores if you attach a Game Boy Printer. There is a unique screen surround when playing on the Super Game Boy attachment for Super NES. Although the cartridge can be played on earlier DMG models of Game Boy, certain features are disabled (including the animated Pokémon in the Pokédex) and the graphics are of course textured monochrome rather than full color.

ppblue_supergameboy

– Super Game Boy surround with the Blue table.

 

 

 

 

 

ppred_DMG_capture – Playing the Red table on a DMG Game Boy.

 

 

 

 

 

The game was a joint development between HAL Laboratory and Jupiter, under license from Game Freak. HAL is of course known for their work on the Kirby games, with former employees and then President Satoru Iwata moving on to become Nintendo’s president. And in 2020 HAL moved part of its staff into Nintendo’s Tokyo Building, meaning it now shares offices with Pokémon creators Game Freak, 1Up Studios, and Nintendo EPD Tokyo. Jupiter is based in Kyoto, with a Tokyo sub-office. The company’s motto translates as “Let’s Play! Let’s Smile!” and it has a long history of releasing games for Nintendo’s handheld consoles – from Game Boy to Switch. Jupiter also worked on the -Game Boy Camera’s built-in software and created an unreleased Pokémon Picross game for Game Boy Color (which was uncovered in the recent large leak of Nintendo data, after only being known about through a few magazine articles of the time).

pp_us_cartridge

– The Pokémon Pinball cartridge with its distinctive shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first glance, the Game Boy Color cartridge for Pokémon Pinball is much larger than normal. At the top is the cover for a AAA battery. This powers the rumble motors inside the cartridge, much like the force feedback found in more recent controllers. This feature is disabled when playing on the Super Game Boy. The Japanese and American versions allow you to switch the Rumble, so it is either on or off. The European cart offers a choice of strengths – Off, Mild or Strong. It is one of a few unique Game Boy cartridge designs with extra hardware inside, alongside the likes of Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble, Wario Ware Twisted, and Yoshi’s Universal Gravitation.

 

ppblue_field_complete

– The complete Blue table.

The complete Red table – ppred_field_complete

How do you go about catching ‘em all in this pinball spin-off? There are common modes to both tables, so it is best to look at the first and then explain the differences. The player can enter Catch ‘Em Mode by flipping the Pokéball over the GET light two or three times. A different type of Pokémon will be available to catch if you light it three times. Then the mode is activated by hitting a particular target – Bellsprout on Red and Cloyster on Blue. A silhouette of a Pokémon will then appear at the bottom of the table and must be filled in by hitting the pop bumpers (at the top of the table – Voltorbs on the Red table and Shellders on Blue). This will fill in the silhouette and make the Pokémon itself appear in the middle, so it must be hit three times to light up the word CATCH! (This is shown as GET in the Japanese version). Each Pokémon caught is recorded in the Pokédex, and awards one of three Pokéballs needed to reach the Bonus Stage (lighting up in the middle of the table). If you encounter a Pokémon but do not capture it, its image appears as a shadow in the Pokédex until you capture it another time.

ppred_abra_reveal

– Abra is being revealed for capture.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_zubat_reveal2

– Zubat is almost revealed.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_bellsprout_2hits

– Bellsprout has taken two hits.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_zubat_0hits

– Hit Zutbat three times with the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

ppred_abra_2hit

– One more hit to capture Abra.

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have caught a Pokémon, the EVO light must be passed over three times to light it up and enter Evolution Mode by hitting the target (Ditto on Red and Slowpoke on Blue). The player uses the flipper buttons to choose between any Pokémon already captured that can evolve. Arrows will guide the player to where the necessary EX (Experience), Evolution Stone, or Link Cable are hidden on the field. The player must collect three of these items; hitting the wrong location will mean the player must send the ball around the outer “loop” of the table or wait 10 seconds for a fresh item to appear and the Pokémon to recover from “fainting”. Both Evolution Mode and Catch’ Em Mode are played against a time limit that gradually counts down. Get the three items in Evolution Mode before time runs out and a hole appears in the middle of the table; flipping the ball into it will secure the Evolution for the selected Pokémon and fill in its new Pokédex entry.

ppblue_choose_evo

– Here on the Blue table, choosing a Pokémon to Evolve.

 

 

 

 

ppblue_evo_ex_token

– An Experience Token to be hit.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_evo_1ex

– One EX token down, two to go.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the player has three Pokéball icons lit from captures, the Bonus Stage can be activated by hitting the open center hole. Red has Bonus Stages based on Diglett and Gengar, while Blue has Meowth and Seel. Completing both Bonus Stages on either table will then open the special Mewtwo Bonus Stage. Diglett requires the player to knock down all the Digletts and then hit Dugtrio at the top three times; the player only gets one ball on this stage. Gengar is played against a 1:30 minute time limit in the graveyard. Hitting Gastly ten times will launch Haunted; hitting Haunted ten times will see the player facing a huge Gengar, which must be hit five times to complete the stage. Meowth throws coins around, and the player must collect them with the ball; hitting more than one pile in a row increases the multiplier (the first coin is worth 1, the second is worth 2, and so on). Dropping (draining, in pinball parlance) the ball resets the multiplier and costs four coins. Against a one-minute time limit, the player must collect 20 coins to complete the stage. Seels swim around underwater, with their heads “popping up” every so often. Hit ahead with the Pokéball and a point/icon is earned, with the chance to earn multipliers as in Meowth’s stage. The player has 1:30 to collect 20 icons but can continue to earn points after they reach 20 until time runs out.

Mewtwo’s Bonus Stage is more challenging, as the Legendary Pokémon is surrounded by six moving black circles. Hitting a circle earns a million points and hitting Mewtwo himself earns 50,000,000. With just 2:00 to play, the player must accumulate 25 hits on Mewtwo to capture it. Fortunately, each hit also removes a black circle. A clever player can fail and replay Mewtwo’s bonus stage to earn huge scores.

To simulate a Trainer moving around the region, Map Move is used. The starting location is chosen at random from a shortlist, with different areas for each table. Each area also has its own types of Pokémon available. Red requires you to hit Diglett twice to enter Map Move, while Blue requires three hits on Poliwag or Psyduck. Once these triggers on the table are hit, the player has 30 seconds to hit key targets and make a Map Move. This means a player will play three locations from the “Area 1” list, two from the “Area 2” list, and then the sixth and final area visited will be Indigo Plateau on both tables. Mew can be encountered on Indigo Plateau, but its strength means it would take 1024 hits to capture – and so its entry is added to the Pokédex on finding it rather than capture.

ppblue_mapmove_mtmoon

– The trainer has arrived at Mt. Moon.

 

 

 

 

 

At the top of each table, above the bumpers, are three channels. Dropping the ball through a channel lights one, and the position of lit channels can be cycled with the flippers. Passing over a lit light will turn it off again. Note that on the Red table, hitting Staryu toggles whether the player can upgrade the ball using the channels. Once all three channels are lit the Pokéball upgrades, giving a higher score multiplier. The basic Pokéball becomes a Great Ball (x2 multiplier), then an Ultra Ball (x3), and finally a Master Ball (x5). Combined with the basic table multiplier this can rapidly increase your score. However, each ball only lasts a short while and will change back to the previous strength – and draining the ball off the bottom of the screen reverts to the standard Pokéball.

ppblue_masterball

– A Master Ball with its x5 bonus multiplier.

 

 

 

 

 

Also on each table are the CAVE lights (HOLE in Japan) that can be lit up by the ball passing over them. Once all four are lit, the Slots feature becomes active (but only if the player is not in another mode – i.e., Catch ‘Em, Evolution, or Map Move). The slot machine is started by putting the ball into the center hole. The reel spins to offer an upgrade, with the reel slowing down once the player presses A. Among the upgrades are Small and Big Scores, a Pokéball upgrade, or an increase in score multiplier. The ball Saver protects the player for either 30, 60, or 90 seconds (or until the ball is drained twice), while the Pika power-up can be handy. Normally a Pikachu will sit in one of the two drain channels at the bottom of the table and can be moved between them with the flippers. If his power meter is fully charged – by hitting the spinner on the outer loop, filling the thunder icon – then he will fire his Thunder Strike to act as a kickback, saving the ball from draining. If you get the Pika bonus you have two Pikachus, protecting on both sides and able to charge. The Slots can also award an extra Ball (life) or automatically start a mode – Catch ‘Em, Evolution, or Map Move.

ppred_slot

– The Slot is open.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_slot_smallbonus

– The Small Bonus awards a miserly few points.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_pika_bonus

 – Gaining the Pika bonus

 

 

 

 

 

 

The player starts with three Pokéballs, but once all balls are lost it is Game Over. Helpfully the Ball Saver is activated for 30 seconds at the start of each life. There is a separate high score list for each table, and as mentioned you can transfer these scores to another Game Boy Color via infrared for your friend to beat. Stats are shown after each ball, awarding bonus points for the number of Pokémon caught or evolved with that ball (times the score multiplier in effect), as well extra for turning the spinner multiple times. As well as flipping the flippers, the player can tilt the table to shake a stuck ball loose – but it is not often needed.

ppred_ballsaved

– Ball Saved! Launch it again.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_slot_saved

– I was going for the Slot but missed the ball.

 

 

 

 

 

Positive reviews of Pokémon Pinball give it a GameRankings average of 81.73%. This included 32 out of a possible 40 from legendary Japanese magazine Famitsu. GameSpot’s 8.7 ratings praised the display and presentation but did feel the physics were poor – and the rumble was just a “nice novelty”. CNET was more positive, calling it one of the best pinball games for the Game Boy Color and “more than a shameless cash-in on the Pokémon phenomenon”.

Looking back, these reviews seem fair. The major problem with the game – as in several Game Boy pinball titles – is the way the viewpoint “flicks” between two halves of the table. Although other Game Boy Color pinball games managed to achieve scrolling tables, the 8-bit processor was slow for moving a large table around. The physics are mixed but for the most part, the ball moves realistically. The flippers take some getting used to as there are limited angles, so it is more about controlling the speed of the ball when you hit it to get the right target. And I found the fixed launch speed unusual; most pinball games simulate the spring-based “plunger” which gives the possibility of different launch speeds and skill shots. Graphics are pleasing with some cute, animated Pokémon – although they do not move around (except in the bonus rounds). It is of course the long-term challenge of catching ‘em all that will keep you playing. Personally, I prefer the Blue table, but both are great fun to play in short bursts.

ppred_hiscore

– Red table high scores, storing the top five scores.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_hiscore

– Blue table high scores, with the names of the companies involved.

 

 

 

 

There are some other interesting problems and changes between regions, beyond the obvious Language selection menu for Europe. Japanese and American versions allow the player to reconfigure all the controls, but European users are limited to a choice of three pre-set control schemes. The Pokédex entries are taken from Red and Blue with a full stop added at the end. But there are spelling mistakes and translation errors in there. The Japanese text in-game displays the Romanised Japanese names (Poppo for Pidgey, Pawou for Seel) but the Pokédex itself shows the names in kanji. The Cutting Room Floor website (https://tcrf.net/Pok%C3%A9mon_Pinball) reveals unused graphics that could have been a third table or layout, as well as an unused Japanese font. Entering the Game Genie code 000-21D-E6E unlocks a hidden Debug menu that allows you to switch between Game Boy Color and DMG mode for earlier Game Boys.

ppblue_keyconfig

– The Key Config screen from the US game.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_pokedex_geodude_anima

 

– Geodude animating in the Pokédex.

 

 

 

 

 

ppblue_pokedex_shadow_meowth

 – I encountered a Meowth but failed to capture it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ppred_abra_text2

 – The second page of text for Abra in the Pokédex.

 

 

 

 

 

The music by Go Ichinose is particularly good for the hardware, reusing familiar themes from the games and the anime. Interestingly the Blue Table’s background theme has a melody that appeared in Pokémon Gold and Silver when visiting Ecruteak City and Cianwood City – games that were released seven months after Pokémon Pinball. Red’s background melody meanwhile is from the Generation II games, when visiting Kanto province. Catch ‘Em Mode on the Blue table uses an instrumental version of “Aim To Be A Pokémon Master” – the original opening theme of the anime.

If you have never played Pokémon Pinball, I can recommend it. For pinball fans, there are some quirks to be endured, but Pokémon fans will get a real kick out of it.

OVERALL: 8/10

ppblue_gameover

 – Game Over!

Curious for more? Well, this article is part of a collaboration between various content creators where we took a look back together on the Pokémon franchise. Feel free to read all the other articles by following the links you can find in the hub article.

 

Review: Pokémon Pinball Ruby and Sapphire (Gameboy Advance)

By Merman (@merman1974)

pprs_logo

Console: Game Boy Advance (also playable on GameCube’s Game Boy Player, Wii U Virtual Console)

Developer: Jupiter

Publisher: Nintendo

Release dates:

Game Boy Advance in Japan – 1st August 2003, North America – 25th August 2003, PAL – Australia 26th September 2003 and Europe 14th November 2003

Wii U Virtual Console in Japan – 10th December 2014, North America – 1st January 2015, PAL – Australia 12th December 2014 and Europe 11th December 2014

pprs_intro – Part of the colourful intro animation.

 

 

 

pprs_us_boxart – US box art.

 

 

 

 

pprs_japan_boxart – Japanese box art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Game Boy Advance hardware gave it more power, equivalent to the Super NES in a handheld console. It also gave Game Freak the chance to revisit its earlier generation of Pokémon games as well as the new Ruby and Sapphire games for Generation III – featuring the Hoenn region Pokédex. This would be echoed by this follow-up to Pokémon Pinball developed by Jupiter featuring the Johto and Hoenn region creatures. Its later Wii U Virtual Console release would make it the first Pokémon game released on that format. The Game Boy Player’s Rumble feature (through the GameCube controller) was supported by the Game Boy Advance Cartridge. Five special eReader cards were made available in Japan, allowing players to scan the card and trigger tricky in-game events; players had to attend the official Pokémon Centers or live Pokémon events to obtain these special cards.

pprs_title – The title screen.

 

 

 

pprs_config – Configuring the controls.

 

 

 

pprs_field_select – Choosing the Ruby or Sapphire tables before starting play.

 

 

 

The major change from the original is the smoothly scrolling table. Where the original flicked between two halves, the new game had a much bigger vertical playfield. There was a choice of two tables, one for Ruby and one for Sapphire with each having unique features. The modes of play carried over from the original – Catch ‘Em, Evo Mode and Map Move. The Bonus sections were an even bigger part of the new Pinball title too.

pprs_ruby_field – The full Ruby field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– The complete Sapphire table. pprs_sapphire_field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the Hoenn Pokédex is featured in this game, there are only actually 205 of the 210 available. Deoxys cannot be found and captured at all, while Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile, and Aerodactyl are unable to be evolved. If you encounter a Pokémon but fail to capture it, its entry in the Pokédex will appear as a shadow. The battery backup remembers which Pokémon you have caught. From the Pokédex you can transfer a captured Pokémon to another player’s console and their copy of the game via the Link Cable. You can also transfer the high scores you have achieved, with a separate list for each of the tables.

pprs_pokedex_mightyena– Mightyena in the Pokédex.

 

 

 

pprs_pokedex_transfer – Ready to transfer a Pokémon via the link cable.

 

 

 

The player launches the Pokéball from the plunger (the spring-like Spoink) by holding a button to set the power, and then uses two buttons for the flippers. This time it is possible to tilt and nudge the table left, right, and up – helpful to guide the ball into a target or knock it loose from an awkward point. On both tables there are sets of ramps to send the ball around a Pokémon Mart to purchase extras with Coins earned from the table. (Plusle and Minun create an electrical barrier protecting the Sapphire table’s Mart – both must be hit with the ball to make the barrier drop). Pikachu returns in the drain channel, moving left and right with the flipper. Hitting the spinner charges up his Thunder Strike, acting as a kickback to keep the ball in play – but it must then be recharged. The Ball Saver physically picks up the ball and flies it back to the Spoink plunger to launch again; on the Ruby table, it is the Legendary Pokémon Latios, while the Sapphire table’s Saver is Latias.

pprs_ruby_spoink – The Pokéball sits on Spoink, ready to launch.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_ballsave – Latios swoops down to save the ball on the Ruby table.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_launched – The ball has launched on the right-hand side of the Sapphire table.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_saved – Latias zooms in to save a ball on the Sapphire table.

 

 

 

New to this game is Egg Mode. On the Ruby Field the player must knock Cyndaquil backward into its cave a few times to hatch the egg. On the Sapphire Field, the ball must travel up the right-hand ramp to light the lights surrounding the egg. The next time that ramp is successfully climbed, the egg is hatched. Once hatched, the Pokémon inside will descend to the lower half of the table and can be captured by hitting it twice with the ball. This counts towards the capture limit for opening the Bonus Rounds.

pprs_ruby_hatching – The Egg hatches to reveal Trapinch…

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_trapinch – …and Trapinch is caught.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_egg – Light the four clamps to hatch the egg on the Sapphire table.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_hatching– Ralts is hatching from the egg (Sapphire table).

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_ralts_capture – Ralts being caught by the Pokéball.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_ralts_caught – Ralts has been caught.

 

 

 

Catch ‘Em Mode works in a similar way to the original Pokémon Pinball. The player must first light two or three GET lights on the right outer loop. Then on the Ruby table the ball must be hit into Sharpedo’s mouth while the whale-like Whailmer activates the mode on the Sapphire table. Once started, the player must hit the pop bumpers (Chinchou or Lotad on Ruby, Shroomish on Sapphire) at least three times to fill in the silhouette. Once the Pokémon has been fully revealed, it can be captured by hitting it three times with the Pokéball. Lighting up three Pokéballs in the center of the screen opens the Bonus Round (see below). Catching 15 Pokémon earns an extra ball.

pprs_ruby_catchem – Catch ‘Em Mode is activated on the Ruby table.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_shadow – The Pokémon appears as a shadow until you hit the bumpers.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_poochyena_2hits – I have one more hit to catch Poochyena.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_poochyena_caught – Poochyena has been caught.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_catchem – Catch ‘Em Mode on the Sapphire table.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_shroomish_multihit – Achieving multiple hits on the Shroomish bumpers rapidly reveals the Pokémon in Capture Mode.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_taillow_appears – Taillow has been revealed.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_tailow_capture – The Pokéball captures Taillow.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_taillow_caught – Taillow has been caught, ready to evolve.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_reveal – A chance to capture Voltorb.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_voltorb_2hits – I have two hits on Voltorb.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_voltorb_caught – Voltorb has been caught.

 

 

 

Evo Mode allows you to evolve a previously captured Pokémon. On both tables, the entrance to the Pokémon Mart gains the lit Evo arrow once you have completed three trips around the outer left loop. Starting Evo Mode gives a choice of Pokémon to evolve. The player must then collect three items – including EX (Experience) and Evolution Stones – and sink the ball in the central hole to evolve the chosen Pokémon.

pprs_ruby_evomode – Entering Evo Mode on the Ruby table.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_evo_select – Selecting which Pokémon to evolve.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_evo_complete – Enter the Slot to complete the Evolution.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_evolution – The Pokémon is evolving!

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_evomode – Time to evolve a Pokémon on Sapphire.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_evo_taillow – Choosing Taillow to evolve.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_evo_ex – The EX token is sitting near Wailmer.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_evolution – The Evolution is complete!

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_swellow – Taillow has evolved into Swellow and is added to the Pokédex.

 

 

 

Travel Mode – the renamed Map Move – acts in a similar way to the original Pokémon Pinball. The starting area is chosen at random when the player launches the ball.  Collecting three Gulpins on the Ruby table starts Travel Mode, while collecting three Seedots is necessary on the Sapphire table. Once activated, the player must send the ball round an outer loop and into the central hole within one minute. The next area chosen is selected depending on whether the loop hit goes left or right. The player can decline to change area if they wish to stay and catch more creatures. Each area has a particular set of Pokémon based on their type. The player will ultimately travel through seven of the nine areas available, with the Ruins only available on both tables after the sixth journey. A neat touch is that Volbeat (Ruby) or Illumise (Sapphire) will fly in to “paint” and reveal the new area reached.

pprs_sapphire_travel – Entering Travel Mode on Sapphire.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_paint_travel – Illimuse painting the new location.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_travel_painted – Volbeat has filled in the new area on Ruby.

 

 

 

There are five Bonus Rounds, with Kecleon and Groudon on the Ruby table and Dusclops and Kyogre appearing on Sapphire. Completing Groudon or Kyogre rounds will then give access to the Rayquaza Bonus Round on both. Kecleon will turn invisible and must be knocked over to register a hit; fortunately, the tree contains a Devon Scope that can be shaken loose and collected to “see” the invisible creature. Once knocked over Kecleon must take ten hits inside two minutes to capture him. Groudon shakes down rocks, creates pillars of fire, and throws fireballs at the Pokéball. Rocks take three hits to break and the pillars take four, trying to stop you from hitting Groudon itself 30 times inside 3 minutes. Sapphire’s Dusclops round starts in the graveyard, where you must knock down 20 Duskulls. Then Dusclops itself will appear, and it must be hit in the back or while moving five times to conquer it; mistime a hit and it will swallow the ball and throw it back at the flippers. Kyogre uses Sheer Cold to freeze the ball and creates whirlpools to stop the ball from moving. Its final move is to dive under the water, with bubbles giving a clue to where it will rise again. Hit it 15 times in three minutes to win.

pprs_sapphire_bonus_open – The Bonus Round is open on the Sapphire table.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_bonus_duclops – Tackling Dusclops in the Bonus Round.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_enter_bonus– You can choose not to enter the Bonus Round – but miss out on big points.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_kecleon_spotted– Kecleon is briefly visible thanks to the Devon Scope.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_kecleon_surrender – Ten hits later and Kecleon surrenders.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_kecleon_bonus – Big bonus points for beating the Kecleon Bonus Round.

 

 

 

Rayquaza must be beaten twice to capture it, meaning the player must play through and complete the first two bonus rounds a second time to get back to it. When it bounces left and right, the ball will pass under it. It will pause to cast Thunder at a slow-moving ball and paralyze it, while the ExtremeSpeed move causes two tornadoes to appear – these will send the ball flying helplessly into the air for a few seconds. Fifteen hits on Rayquaza are needed inside three minutes, but it does award a juicy 99,999,999 points for winning.

Lighting up the HOLE lights at the bottom of the table activates the slot machine, entered by putting the ball into the center hole. This can be stopped by pressing the A button – or grabbed by Zigzagoon on the Sapphire table to award the current prize. Small and Big points bonuses and Coins can be awarded, Get starts Catch ‘Em Mode and Evo starts Evo Mode automatically. Ball Saver starts saving the ball for 30, 60 or 90 seconds depending on the value and the player can also be advanced automatically to the next Bonus Round.  Extra gives an extra ball while Max upgrades the current ball to a Master Ball (see below). The Pika bonus in this game sees Pichu joining Pikachu in the drain channels, charged in the same way to act as a kickback.

pprs_ruby_slot_hole – The Slot is open, ready to offer you a bonus.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_slot_reels – The Slot reels are spinning.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_slot_zigzagoon – Zigzagoon is jumping to stop the reels – on the Small Bonus, unfortunately.

 

 

 

pprs_sapphire_pikachu_charged – Hitting the Spinner charges Pikachu’s energy levels.

 

 

 

pprs_ruby_pikachu_thunderstrike – Pikachu stops the ball from draining with his Thunderstrike.

 

 

 

On both tables there are the three upgrade channels that can be lit, but as in the first game running over a light already lit turns it off again. The flippers rotate the upgrade lights and the HOLE lights too. The upgraded ball offers a larger bonus multiplier for a short time – x2 for the Great Ball, x3 for the Ultra Ball and x4 for the Master Ball – but the ball will drop back down a level after a while and revert to the basic Pokéball if the player drains it. There is a separate table multiplier that can be increased through the slot machine. Once the ball has drained (dropped off the bottom of the table) then stats for that ball are shown, including the number of Pokémon caught and evolved and the number of spinner turns. These subtotals are multiplied by the bonus multiplier in play at the time. Starting with three balls, when the player runs out it is Game Over – and if they have earned enough points, they can enter up to four initials in the high score list for that table.

pprs_sapphire_upgrade – Upgrading the Pokéball gives higher bonus multipliers.

 

 

 

The game was first revealed at the E3 Expo in 2003, with GameSpy describing it as “much more than a pinball game”. When the reviews arrived, they were as positive as those for the original Pokémon Pinball – currently giving it a Metacritic rating of 82/100. Martin Taylor of Eurogamer surmised that “only the most demanding of pinball wizards would be right to turn their nose up at Pokémon Pinball [Ruby & Sapphire]’s a charming slant on the genre.” It earned an IGN Editor’s Choice award with an 8.8 score, Craig Harris calling it “the greatest pinball game for the Game Boy Advance.” Famitsu in Japan scored it an impressive 34 out of 40.

pprs_sapphire_hiscore – Entering a name on the Sapphire high score table.

 

 

 

In an interesting bit of trivia, the American company Personal Pinball Inc. created a one-of-a-kind real-life pinball table based on the game. It was made for Pokémon USA and was housed in the New York Pokémon Center. Selling more than a million copies on the cartridge, the game would have a second life on Wii U’s Virtual Console. The Cutting Room Floor website (https://tcrf.net/Pok%C3%A9mon_Pinball:_Ruby_%26_Sapphire) has some interesting finds. There is a GameShark code to activate Debug Mode (allowing you to press L to freeze and then move the ball around, with R resuming play) and an unused Bonus Round Select screen. The eReader screen found in the Japanese version is still present (and its text translated) in other regions, but it was disabled for the later Virtual Console release.

pprs_language – European Game Boy Advance titles usually offered in up to five languages, with a selection screen.

 

 

 

This is still a game I pick up and play, as both a pinball and Pokémon fan. The improved physics and scrolling table make it better than the original. There are more motion and animation than the original, with the hatching Pokémon from Egg Mode being particularly adorable. Control feels smoother and it is much easier to achieve the loop shots. I can certainly concur that it is one of the best pinball games on Game Boy Advance and should definitely be in your collection.

OVERALL: 9/10

pprs_ruby_game_over – Thanks for reading! Want to continue your retrospective look at the Pokémon franchise? Well, take a look at the hub article where I and several other content creators made more retrospective content about the Pokémon franchise.

 

A Pokémon Retrospective – Creator’s Catch Hub

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It has been 25 years since the Pokémon series started its life on the Gameboy in Japan. When the series came to the west together with an anime, a huge phenomenon happened. The west got hooked to Pokémon so hard that it even got a name. Pokémania, which even got a French Wikipedia page about it. So, if you have read my blog in the past you might have seen that I sometimes do a huge collaboration with various other content creators and/or fans of the series to look to the history of the series together. Today, I want to present to you a group of people who looked back with me to various Pokémon games, and this time, we also looked at some of the spin-off games. Just like the Zelda and Tomb Raider collab I did, this collaboration will take you through various other websites with amazing articles by amazing writers. So, pack your bag and grab your Pokéballs and go on a journey with me through the various Pokémon regions and let’s take a look back together at the Pokémon series, and let’s celebrate the 25th anniversary together.

How does this collaboration work? Well, this is the hub article that leads you to all the games we have covered in this collaboration project. If you click on the name, you will find a page on Bulbapedia with information on the game. If you click on the underlined text, you will be taken to an article written by somebody who was a part of this collaboration. All of these articles will link back to this hub article where you can go to other games as well.

1996 – Pokémon Green/RedPokémon Red/Blue & Yellow (Gameboy) + 2004 – Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen (Gameboy Advance) + 2018 – Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee (Nintendo Switch)

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The Gaming Omnivore takes us on a journey where it all began.

Like I told you in the introduction, 25 years ago we were able to set foot into the Kanto region for the first time. For many people, this game was their first introduction to the series, and what an introduction it was. A lot of those people have very strong nostalgic feelings about the first generation that there is even a name for it. It’s all “Gen One’s”.

But does the first generation still hold up today or should it be left as a relic of the past? This game is the most remade game in the Pokémon series with two remakes under its belt. Is that justified or should Nintendo focus on other games in the series to remake? Let’s take a look at the memories that our friend the Gaming Omnivore shares with us on his blog.

1999 – Pokémon Gold / Silver / Crystal (Gameboy Color) + 2009 – Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver (Nintendo DS)

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Krista takes us on a double journey. Literally, through two games and two regions.

What a surprise it was when the second generation came out. Let’s just say that the number of improvements that the second generation brings blew a lot of minds.

To name just a few: genders, berries, day and night cycle, rematching trainers, events on certain days… And let’s not forget to mention the fact that we got another journey through Kanto in these games.

Before I hand it over to Krista to talk about her memories with the 2nd generation of Pokémon, I want to talk about a personal story. I remember one time I was on holidays in France where somebody shows me how that the cloning glitch worked. How I was able to clone Pokémon and items. Sadly enough, that glitch did a number on my save battery and my save file. It corrupted on the way home. Thankfully, I got the saved battery replaced and all is fine now. Apart from the battery running dry recently when I was playing through my Gameboy Color collection. Oh well, the memories are huge for this generation and I’m curious what other people are going to share about this generation.

2002 – Pokémon Ruby / Sapphire & Emerald (Gameboy Advance) + 2014 – Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire (Nintendo 3DS)

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L-One-X takes us on a journey of secret bases, oceans, and volcanic lands.

The 3rd generation of the Pokémon series was something special. It was one of the biggest visual upgrades we have ever seen so far. The biggest difference between the first and second generation was mostly color in terms of the visuals.

The third generation also got a more involved story and if you research the message and the inspiration of the story, you will be quite surprised at the message of this game. I learned about it from Tama Hero.

This generation is one of my personal favorite generations. I still remember how people were drawing maps and sharing them during recess since bringing your own Gameboy to school wasn’t allowed. Man, those were the days. Just talking about Pokémon with kids you barely knew. But hey, those are just a few of my personal memories with the 3rd generation. Shall we take a look at what our friend L-One-X remembers?

2006 – Pokémon Diamond, Pearl & Platinum (Nintendo DS)

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McKenna takes us on a journey through Sinnoh. Where there are places where space and time can get wrapped.

Man, I still remember how I got introduced to the Nintendo DS and the 4th generation. I heard about the Nintendo DS through the Legend of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass but through “The Gameboy Club”, I was able to play on a friend’s DS and I learned about how good the game was.

A unique mechanic of the 3rd generation was returning in this game in a more evolved form. We got secret underground bases that allowed a sort of multiplayer capture the flag mode.

In any case, shall we take a look at what McKenna is going to share with us? Let’s dive right into the interesting story that McKenna has written about the 4th generation. The first generation that brought online functionality to the series.

2010 – Pokémon Black & White + 2012 – Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 (Nintendo DS)

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Khinjarsi takes us through the lands of Unova.

It’s a shame to admit, but I skipped the 5th generation at first. I can’t really say why exactly I skipped this generation at first.

Now, I did play the games a few years ago when Pokémon Sun & Moon was in development. And I’m so glad I did. This generation brought so many enjoyable moments, I can totally understand why this game was quite well received.

Now, at this moment in time, this is the only main series Pokémon game that got a direct sequel that expanded on the story of the original game so much. Now, was this sequel well deserved or should Nintendo just made Pokémon Gray or something and called it a day?

Well, that’s an interesting question to ponder upon while we take a look at the article that Khinjarsi shares with us.

2013 – Pokémon X and Y (Nintendo 3DS)

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TriformTrinity takes us on a journey through the first “3D”-region.

The first game on the Nintendo 3DS and the shortest names in the series. Pokémon X and Y.

I was so surprised to see that this game took heavy inspiration from the French region. That region hits quite close to home since I live in one of the neighboring countries Belgium.

When I was looking for writers for this collaboration, TriformTrinity picked up this game. He has never played these games and wants to share his opinions on these games without having nostalgic feelings towards the games. So, let’s find out what his opinions are, shall we?

2016 – Pokémon Sun & Moon + 2017 – Pokémon UltraSun and UltraMoon (Nintendo 3DS)

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DanamesX takes us on the bittersweet final journey on the Gameboy / DS line of systems.

I still remember the bittersweet feeling when it was announced that this game would be the “final” main series Pokémon game on the GameBoy and (3)DS line. After these games, Nintendo would move on to console Pokémon. So it’s the final portable game.

Well sort of, kind of. Granted, the Nintendo Switch is portable so technically it wasn’t the final portable Pokémon game but on the other hand, I felt that it was the end of an era. But it was the end of an era in more ways than one. Since this game also flipped the who Pokémon formula up its head.

In this game, we took a “vacation” to a new region with a new adventure that takes us to several islands and gives us several challenges. It also did something quite unique with the day and night system. If you bought Pokémon Moon, the whole day and night cycle was flipped from your real-life location.

Now, I think it’s high time to take a look at the article that DanamesX wrote about the 7th generation. Shall we join in on exploring this holiday? I have already packed my bags and I’m ready to go and just waiting on you to click that link above to read the article.

2019 – Pokémon Sword and Shield (Nintendo Switch)

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NekoJonez takes you on a tour of the country, old chap.

Oh, is it my time to shine? So, just like with the Tomb Raider collaboration, I took the final main series game.

When this game released, I tried several times to write an article about this game but I never wrote something I felt that would tell my opinion on this game.

Now, I challenged myself to write a nice article for this collaboration and I’m quite curious what you are going to think about it while I am a bit bummed out that two of the neighboring countries of my home country got Pokémon regions based, France and England, upon them now while Belgium is sitting in the middle forgotten. Oh well, maybe one day. (In before our German neighbors get the 9th generation.)

It’s spin-offs time

Sadly enough, we didn’t find enough writers and enough time to take a look at all the spin-offs. So, I’m very sorry if the spin-off you wanted to read about isn’t in this collaboration. We mainly focused on the main-series games and we wanted to give these spin-off games an article to give a nice bonus to this collaboration.

1999 – Pokémon Stadium (Nintendo 64) + 2001 – Pokémon Stadium 2 (Nintendo 64)

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The Gaming Omnivore welcomes us in the stadium to watch the Pokémon battle.

It’s not a secret that when the first Pokémon games got released, we all wanted a 3D version of the Pokémon games. And in 1999, we got exactly what we wished for.

A 3D-battle simulation of the Pokémon games. Not every Pokémon was included but hey, just seeing these Pokémon in 3D was enough to blow our minds. So, shall we let our friend the Gaming Omnivore talk about this experience? I’m ready to cheer him on from the sidelines of the stadium.

2004 – Pokémon Colosseum (Nintendo GameCube) + 2005 – Pokémon XD Gale of Darkness (Nintendo GameCube)

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DanamesX takes us on a very special journey that spans two Pokémon games on the Nintendo GameCube.

While I love playing the Pokémon games, I have to admit that Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon Gale of Darkness XD flew under my radar.

Sadly enough, they currently cost an arm and a leg on eBay to buy and play for me so, I’m waiting to pick them up for a more reasonable price. But, I’m quite curious to see what people think about this game. Should I still try to hunt these games down or should I let it slide? I think that the article of DanamesX will help me greatly in deciding that.

2016 – Pokémon Go (Mobile devices)

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Eric Fellner takes us on a walk through our neighborhoods.

To say that Pokémon GO was a hit is an understatement. Pokémon GO still is quite popular, I see various people on the train and students at the school I work for play Pokémon GO.

It wouldn’t surprise me that this game is less popular now than before but it hasn’t died just yet. Now, when Eric Fellner contacted me to talk about this game and told me his personal story about the game, I was hooked. So, without spoiling anything, I think it’s time to give the spotlight to Eric so he can talk about his story with this game.

1999 – Pokémon Pinball (Gameboy Color) + 2003 – Pokémon Pinball Ruby & Sapphire (Gameboy Advance)

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Andrew Fisher plays the first pinball game.

Andrew Fisher also goes to the Hoenn region for the second pinball game.

So, Pokémon Pinball. I still remember getting the big box for Christmas and being surprised that the games now needed batteries to function.

Little did I know that battery was meant for the rumble feature inside the cartridge and not a replacement for the save battery.

Now, this battery didn’t take away the number of hours I spent playing pinball in this game. As a kid, I wasn’t able to get quite far but I kept on trying and trying.

And years later, I learned that this game got a sequel about the Hoenn region. I was only able to add that game quite recently to my collection so, I haven’t played it too much. Thankfully, Andrew Fisher is here to talk quite in-depth about the two Pinball games. Let’s see what he has to say about the games!

2001 – Pokémon Pinball Mini (Pokémon Mini)

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Andrew Fisher takes us on a journey to the Pokémon Mini and playing Pinball on that.

So, in 2001, Nintendo released the Pokémon Mini. An extremely small handheld with cartridges where you could play various Pokémon mini-games on.

Surprisingly, this handheld also got a pinball game on it. So, should Andrew Fisher took a look at this pinball title and let’s see if it’s worthy to add to your collection or should you ignore it? Well, you will be able to find out thanks to Andrew’s amazing article.

2006 – 2020 The Mystery Dungeon series (Gameboy Advance, Nintendo (3)DS and Switch)

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NekoJonez takes a look back at the Mystery Dungeon series.

So, one of the biggest spin-off series is Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. In 2006, we got Red & Blue Rescue Team which got remade in 2020 for the Nintendo Switch under the name of Rescue Team DX. In 2007, we got the Explorer of Time, Darkness, and Sky Mystery Dungeon games. 5 years later, we got our first 3DS game called Gates to Infinity in 2012.

In 2015, we got what we thought was the final game in the series Super Mystery Dungeon on the 3DS. But yeah, a remake on the Switch happened in the first game. But why are these games so popular to get so many sequels? Well, I’m going to tell you in a nostalgic look back on the Mystery Dungeon series.

2006 – Pokémon Ranger + 2008 – Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia + 2010 – Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs (Nintendo DS)

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WCRobinson is taking us on a journey through the land of the friendship circles.

I never imagined that drawing circles around Pokémon could be so much fun that Nintendo was able to make a trilogy of games about it.

I have to admit, that I got cramp in my hands and almost destroyed a touch screen while playing these games. I got into this game way more than I expected. If there was one series I wanted to have covered in this collaboration, it was the Pokémon Ranger series. Now, I was already taking the Mystery Dungeon series and the Sword and Shield games to cover so the Ranger games would be a bit too much. Thankfully, WCRobinson picked up these games and wanted to write a piece about them.

So, thank you WCRobinson for covering these games. Now, I’m curious to see if those loops of friendship influenced you in your opinion on the games or not. Let’s find out together and join WCRobinson on his journey as a Pokémon Ranger.

1998 – Pokémon Trading Card Game (Gameboy Color)

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Solarayo takes a look at the card game… on Gameboy.

One of the biggest pieces of merchandise that this series gave us is the Pokémon Trading Card game. It’s still quite popular on YouTube and worldwide.

Now, it does surprise me that Nintendo and Game Freak only made two games about them. And on top of that, the sequel to this game was only released in Japan.

In any case, I think it’s high time to let Solarayo talk about the game and if you should just stick with the physical game or if you should consider playing the Gameboy Color game as well. Maybe I should pick it up for training since I barely know anything about the card game… Hrm, there is thought while I start reading her article.

1999 – Pokémon Snap (Nintendo 64)

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Solarayo takes pictures of Pokémon and gets judged by Professor Oak.

So, while we were preparing for this collaboration we had no clue that a new Pokémon Snap game was going to come out in 2021.

It’s a nice surprise to see a spin-off getting a sequel on modern hardware. But, how is the original? Is it any fun or should we skip taking pictures of Pokémon in the Nintendo 64 game? Well, Solarayo is going to tell us all about it in her article on this game.

2015 – Pokémon Shuffle (Nintendo 3DS / Mobile devices)

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TriformTrinity swipes the Pokémon away.

There was this one game called Pokémon Trozei on the Nintendo DS that is a sort of Bejeweled clone with Pokémon.

In 2015, Nintendo released a free-to-play version and not only released it on the 3DS but also on mobile platforms.

So, let’s swipe Pokémon to safety together with TriformTrinity while he tells us all about the game.

2015 – Pokémon Picross (Nintendo 3DS)

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Khinjarsi puzzles away with the Picross game on 3DS.

Man, do I love solving Picross puzzles. They are so much fun to solve. I don’t have any drawing skills but seeing a drawing come together from just solving a puzzle is such a rewarding feeling!

So, I’m curious to see if Khinjarsi also feels rewarded by solving these puzzles, or was there something wrong with this game? Or did I just make up the last question to create some tension to try to get you to click the link to read the article? Who knows? Well, you would know if you read the article!

2000 – Pokémon Puzzle League (Nintendo 64)

And on the day of this collab releasing, the Gaming Omnivore streamed this competition.

Long-time readers of my blog know that I’m a game collector. One day, I was walking around on a garage sale and found a ton of amazing games.

When I was almost out of the budget I had set aside for that garage sale, I went to eat a burger with my mom who walked with me in that garage and yard sale.

Then, I suddenly saw in the corner of my eye a boxed and complete copy of Pokémon Puzzle Challenge for the Gameboy Color. The guy who was running the stand didn’t know the value of that game I was able to pick it up for 2€. I was so happy to add that game to my collection.

Now, why am I telling you this? Because I didn’t have a Nintendo 64 and I always wanted to try and play the Pokémon Puzzle games. And when I saw it for the Gameboy Color, I was so happy that I was able to grab a copy of it in that yardsale.

So, when preparing this collaboration, the Gaming Omnivore said in one of his streams that he wanted to stream the N64 version of the game on Pokémon day. So, let’s take a look at how this game plays? I loved watching the stream while I was counting down for this collab to release.

Closing words

This collaboration was a lot of fun to put together and do. I met so many wonderful writers through this collaboration and I’m so happy to be able to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pokémon with such an amazing group of writers. I want to thank everybody who helped in this collaboration and make it turn out amazingly.

I want to thank: Gaming Omnivore, Krista, L-One-X, McKenna, Khinjarsi, TriformTrinity, DanamesX, Eric Fellner, Solarayo, Andrew Fisher, and WCRobinson.

The impact that the Pokémon series has on today’s gaming culture and climate can’t be understated. This collaboration showed me that I’m not the only one who has so many amazing memories with the Pokémon series.

So, I’m quite curious to see what is going to be next for the franchise. Will we finally see Pokémon 2? Sorry, I just wanted to make that silly joke somewhere in this article. But for real, what will we see after New Pokémon Snap releases in late April? Will we see a special celebration game for this big anniversary? Sadly enough, we can’t be sure with the current pandemic throwing a lot of schedules in disarray.

Now, I might go and repeat myself here but the amount of memories this series created with the main series games and the spin-offs is something that can’t be understated. This series is one of the biggest series that my generation grew up on. And since the 25th birthday was coming up, I wanted to gather other Pokémon fans to do something special together.

Did you enjoy this collaboration? What did you think of it? Did you find new bloggers and writers to keep an eye upon? Currently, I want to say in name of the whole group who worked together to create this collaboration: “THANK YOU SO MUCH! Thank you for reading and enjoying our content. We hope you enjoyed reading this and feel free to leave a comment on our articles so we can talk together and reminisce together about our memories on the Pokémon franchise.”

And with that said, I want to thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed reading this hub article and I hope to see you in a future article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care! And happy 25th birthday Pokémon! Thank you for all of the amazing memories and here are for all the memories to come!

Gaming Nostalgia: the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series

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I’m so happy that I was able to claim the whole Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series for this amazing Pokémon collaboration. Together with several other content creators, I took a retrospective look back at the Pokémon franchise in this hub article. If you arrived from the hub article to this article about the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, welcome! In this article, I’m going to talk about my memories with these games and look back at this spin off series and maybe try and discover why Game Freak made so many sequels of this game. I want to give an important side note, this article isn’t going to cover all the Mystery Dungeon games. It’s only going to cover the games that I have played. Basically, it’s a personal retrospective. So, before we really start, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinions, thoughts and memories of these games and/or the content of this article.

2005 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team & Red Rescue Team (Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS)

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If you read my blog in the past, you might know that I started blogging in 2010. That was a blog in my native language Dutch. It was more of a personal blog that now transformed into this English blog. 

On there, I took a look at these games but since that blog is archived, that article is archived as well. Yet, don’t worry friends. I have added it to my endless list of games I still have to write about on this blog. 

Now, how did I learn about this game? Well, I love to tell this story. Back in the day, I went each and every summer to the sea side on holiday together with my family. Before we left, my aunt took me to our local video game store to rent some games for the trip and the holiday. It was still a while before I got my own Nintendo DS but when I noticed that there was a new Pokémon game for the Gameboy Advance and the Nintendo DS, I didn’t hesitate and rented out Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team. 

I was so happy to play a new Pokémon game since I had almost beaten Pokémon Ruby. That year was also the first year I slept in my own room and not together in the room with the bunkbeds where my aunts and sister slept. 

Just to give you an idea how much that game impacted me, the memories of that year’s trip have heavy ties to that game. When I was replaying this game for a bit to better write this article, the memories came flooding back quite hard. The various sand castles I had built and the activities I did with my friends in the holiday park. 

Sadly enough, I had to say goodbye to the cartridge since renting isn’t for ever. I didn’t enjoy returning the game after the trip since I got quite close to beat the game. I can’t remember exactly what happened next but when I got my Nintendo DS a while later from that same lovely aunt, I had gotten my hands on the DS version of the game. You can be sure that I played quite happily through that game. 

In past articles, I talked about how the “Farewell” music having a big impact on me. I’m actually listening to that track while I’m writing this section. This track does something with me. It brings back memories of those trips to the sea side which are memories I never want to say goodbye to. Glorious memories with various friends and family that shaped me as a person and made me look forward to those trips. 

I also remember quite well that the ending of this game was one of the first times I truly cried. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but for the people who have played this game know what I’m talking about. How the writing and music comes together extremely nicely after your long and big adventure with an amazing way to tell the generic message about the strength and importance of friendship. It might sound quite cheesy but I love how beautiful this story comes together. I played a game with an amazing message about friendship while I forged new friendships and enjoyed them without any regrets. 

2007 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of Time / Darkness + 2009 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky (Nintendo DS)

Pokemon-mystery-dungeon-explorers-of-timeReview of this game

To tell this story, I want to take you back to summer of 2007. In that summer, I learn about this game existing through a magazine. Seeing that the Mystery Dungeon game got a sequel, I was extremely hyped and I started to save up money. 

But then, The Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass happens. Besides being a big Pokémon fan, I’m also an extremely big Zelda fan. So, I started to play Phantom Hourglass. By the time I have finished the Zelda game, I got myself Pokémon Pearl

Fast forward a bit to Christmas of that same year. It was time to put together a Secret Santa list. While I was browsing the website of my local game store, I noticed that I had almost forgotten about Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. So, I placed the game on my list. And I think you know what happened. I got this game for Christmas. 

That evening, I was a bit of an anti-social person. I was so extremely hyped for this game and because I finally got my hands on it, I started to play this game right away. I can’t remember why I hadn’t bought this game earlier but hey, we don’t remember every single thing.  

It has been almost 15 years since I played this game but I still remember various moments that happened in this game. The atmosphere, writing, music, pacing and various other elements of this game are just engraved in my memories. When an expanded version of this game got released two years later called “Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of the Sky”, I wanted to have that game as well. 

Now, I had to admit that it took me quite a while before I got that expanded version. In a matter of fact, there is a small story behind that as well. I remember that I bought a copy of “Explorers of the Sky” online from a website I have bought various games from before. When the game arrived, it arrived in a shiny box but there was something wrong. There was a copy of “Explorers of Time” inside of the case. So, I was able to return it and they sent me a whole new copy. Thankfully, with the correct game this time. I remember that it felt quite sketchy to send a whole game through the post instead of sending it as a package. 

Oh well, I’m glad that I have the expanded version in my collection now. For some strange reason, I haven’t played that expanded version. I think it’s because I don’t want to destroy or ruin my nostalgic feelings with game since these Mystery Dungeon games have so much nostalgic meaning to me. But, I think that it’s time to play the expanded version since the memories of writing this article and working on the collab are memories I don’t want to forget either. Let’s go and celebrate the Pokémon franchise. 

2013 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (Nintendo 3DS)

PMGTIReview of the game

So, in late 2012 I decided to delete my personal Dutch blog and in the middle of 2013, I decided to completely rebrand myself and my blog in English. When I look back to my earlier work on this blog, I see the growth I have made.

This game was also the first game that inspired me to look more critical to the games I’m playing. To start analyzing why certain mechanics work and why certain mechanics don’t work. It inspired me to write my first ever rant on this blog. If I would have written this article today, I think it would be a bit better structured, but hey. Hindsight is 2021. 

In August of 2013, I decided that I wanted to write a review on this game. I remember opening the editor on that day and opening my notes. And then I started writing the article. Usually, my articles where around 1k-words long in that time. Expect, for this game I kept writing and adding to the article. And I kept writing and writing. Before I knew it, the review was over double of the length of my usual articles. 

That review is what inspired my current style of writing. Trying to find all the things that a game does right and explaining what a game does wrong and how it could have been improved. I know full well that a writing style is something that grows and changes over the years, but the initial spark to write better articles was with that review. 

So yeah, thank you Gates to Infinity to help me improve my writing skills and to help me build a blog that I’m quite proud off. Of course, the game itself is something that I quite enjoyed a lot as well. While it has some rough edges, but I still found it an enjoyable game. Critics really didn’t like this game and most of them tore it apart. 

But, I enjoyed building the paradise to it’s full glory and the story of this game. Now, if you want to know more about my opinion on this game, I highly recommend that you read the review since I still agree with everything I said. 

2015 – Pokémon: Super Mystery Dungeon (Nintendo 3DS)

250px-Super_Mystery_Dungeon_EN_boxartFirst Impression of this game

So, in 2015 we got what we thought was the final game in the Mystery Dungeon series called Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon. The final climax of the series that would end off this enjoyable dungeon crawler with a bang. 

Now, I have to admit that I was afraid that this game was going to be mediocre. Thankfully, I have been proven wrong. This game is one strong entry in the Mystery Dungeon series. The reviews from the critics where more favorable compared to the previous entry.  

Now, you might have noticed that I haven’t written a review for this game yet. That’s because not only did I got distracted by various other games… I have to admit that I sort of rage quitted the game at one point near the end where I was unable to beat a certain dungeon since I barely had enough items. 

Now, when I was putting this collab together, I started to play this game again from my save file and I got through that part. So, I’m now almost finished with the game and I can’t wait to finally beat it and write a review about it. Since I want to share my thoughts on this game after beating the game. 

Man, playing this game was always so bittersweet. Since I knew it was the final game in the spin-off series and to be quite honest, I don’t want to finish this game. Since for some reason, I don’t want to close the book on this series. Ever since the first game, these spin-offs became a huge part of my life. If you read through this whole article, you see how much these games mean to me. Then again, all nice things must come to an end and maybe it’s time to wrap everything up and let everything come full circle. 

2020 – Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX (Nintendo Switch)

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Then again, this series might not have come to an end. It’s possible that this game is just an one off remake of the series but who knows… It’s possible that Game Freak is working on bringing this spin-off series back. 

I have to admit that I haven’t bought the game on release. A lot of that had to do with the fact that the game released in early March last year and then COVID started happening in my home country and my life is extremely occupied with other things like my job and various other projects. 

So, in late 2020, when I started looking for writers for this collab, I finally decided to buy myself a boxed copy. Since then, I have been playing this remake in between the games I play to review or write about on my blog. To be honest, I’m quite glad that I bought this remake. Since this remake improved so much on the original game, it’s amazing. 

I think that this remake is going to be one time remake of the original, but like I said previously, I’m silently hoping that there will be more stories told in this spin-off style. So crossing my fingers for either another remake or a brand new Mystery Dungeon game.

And that was it

I feel that I’m going to repeat myself when I say that this spin off series means quite a lot to me. While it’s sad to know that the Switch remake might be the final game in the spin-off series, I’m also happy that it ended on quite a high note. 

The reason that the spin-off series ended was because the developers didn’t know where to take the series next. Which I can totally understand, since each story is quite unique.

I think that the Mystery Dungeon series is to Pokémon what the Mario RPG games are to the Mario series. A series of well loved spin off games that have touching and humorous stories that to be quite honest, sometimes are better than the original stories. 

In any case, I think I can ramble on and on about this series and before I start repeating myself a million times with different words I want to thank Game Freak and Chunsoft from creating this amazing spin-off series. While I silently hope that there are going to be more games in this style, I’m quite happy with the games that were released. Thank you for this memorable series. 

And with that, I feel like I said everything I wanted to say about these games for now. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care. Also, be sure to check out the hub article if you want to read more articles from other amazing content creators about the Pokémon series. This retrospective collab was so much fun to work on and it allowed me to write an amazing piece like this one. 🙂 

 

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 number 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 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 the 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 work. That’s another reason why I’m not going to republish the games.

Anyways, let’s end this storytime 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 an 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 the 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 many 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 the variety. A power fantasy in another world would be extremely easy and generic. Most RPGs 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 beating 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 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 the 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.

The Legend Of Zelda Retrospective – A Bloggers Journey

abloggersjourneyOfficial website

The Legend Of Zelda series just got 30 years old in 2016. With almost 20 main games, several spin-offs and remakes under its belt, it’s time that we look back at the series. We start from the very first NES game back in 1986-1987 and continue through the more recently released Breath Of The Wild in 2017. But, I won’t do this alone. I think it would be more fun that we look at this series from different angles. That’s why I won’t go too much in depth on each game in this article but other bloggers will. This article will serve as a hub. So, you can go on an adventure through various interesting blogs and maybe discover new authors and blogs to follow! I hope you are ready since here we go!

The lovely logo for this project is created by ZoeF.

Introduction

In case you have never played a Zelda game, let me explain what this game series is about. The Legend Of Zelda is a game series developed by Nintendo and is the brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka.

In almost each Zelda game, you must go on a quest to save a kingdom from destruction. In your quest, you meet different characters and go through various dungeons to get stronger. Each Zelda game has its own gimmick that makes the game stand out on its own. For example, in one game you have transformation masks and in another game, you ride throughout the kingdom on a train.

Each Zelda game takes the player on a journey throughout a game filled with action, adventure, puzzles and much more. It’s hard to explain what makes a Zelda game a Zelda game.

There are various elements that always return in almost each Zelda game. There is always a kingdom or kingdom to save. At the end of each game, you have a big boss battle against the big bad that is threatening the land. You go through dungeons to acquire new items and/or abilities to get stronger. You also go on a journey on your own, sometimes with a companion that helps you throughout the adventure.

If we would cover everything in this retrospective, we wouldn’t be able to ever finish this series. Since there are comic books, tv-series, concerts and so much more. That’s why we decided in this retrospective to focus only on the main series.

But hey, if we explained the Zelda series, we would be here all day. So, it’s time to look at the first game! Let’s get this retrospective started! Little note about the release years, I took the earliest release date, which is in most cases the Japanese release date.

Enough stalling, it’s time to hear what other writers have to say about the Zelda games. Let’s start with the beginning and let’s start with the first Zelda game!

1986 – The Legend Of Zelda (NES)

Tim talks about the start of the Legend Of Zelda

Zelda 1The first game in the series! So, in this article, you can read the memories of Tim with the first Zelda game.

Something that is very special about the first game is that there were broadcasted sequels of this game. You can read more about it here, BS Zelda.

1987 – The Legend Of Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link (NES)

Jessica takes us through Link’s adventure on the NES.

Zelda 2Creating a sequel isn’t easy. You can go in two different routes. One route is to create something so similar to appeal to the old fans. The other route is to create something completely new to try to draw in new fans.

In this game, they chose the 2nd option. They tried something new with the Zelda formula, but how did it go? Well, Jess will tell you all about it in her article about Zelda II.

1991 – The Legend Of Zelda – A Link To The Past (SNES)

The Well Red Mage shares his wisdom of the tale of the Link to the Past.

a-link-to-the-past-4In the article from the Well Red Mage, we learn about his experience with the Link to the Past games. He also talks about why the Zelda series has been able to survive for so long.

If you wonder if “A Link Between Worlds” was the first sequel to this game, well you are mistaken. The first sequel to this game is Zelda – The Ancient Stone Tables.

1993 – The Legend Of Zelda – Link’s Awakening (GB) – The Legend Of Zelda – Links Awakening DX (GBC)

OverThinkerY talks about the first handheld Zelda game, where Link wakes up…?

250px-LinksAwakeningDX.jpgAt first, I played the version on the Gameboy. I only played the DX version a few years ago, when it got released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

In the DX version, you have one additional dungeon, playing around with the colors that the Gameboy Color provided. But, in the article that OverThinker wrote, you can read about some interesting facts about this game. Things I didn’t even know. So, I’m quite sure you will learn a lot from this article!

1993 – 1994: Link: Faces of Evil / Zelda: Wand Of Gamelon & Zelda’s Adventure (CDi)

Jessica takes you through the CDi games, the Zelda games made by Philips.

The CD-I is such a strange console. Due to a failed partnership, Philips acquired the rights to some famous Nintendo IP’s. So, Philips created these three infamous games.

What happened? Are these games as bad as everyone says or do they have redeemable qualities? In Jess’ article about these three games, you will find it out. In her article, she takes a more in-depth look at these three games.

While we decided to focus on the main series Zelda games, we decided that the CDi-games should be included in this retrospective.

1998 – The Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina Of Time (N64)

LaterLevels Kim write about her experience with the game and her stepson

The_Legend_of_Zelda_Ocarina_of_Time_box_artSomething I would love to add is the fact that this game got a port to Gamecube. In that version, we also got Master Quest. A more difficult version of the main quest. But the master quest was absent from the Wii, Wii U Virtual Console ports. Shame really.

On LaterLevels, you can read a very enjoyable article with a view of the experiences that Kim had with this game and her stepson. It’s a very enjoyable read.

2000 – The Legend Of Zelda – Majora’s Mask (N64)

Zach is going to take us through Termina and tell us about Majora’s Mask.

The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_Majora's_Mask_Box_ArtAs a kid, I didn’t have an N64. I was so jealous of my friend who had one and was able to play this game. I had to emulate it back in the day.

Thankfully, I own the game now on Virtual Console and the 3DS remake. That’s why I love reading stories like Zach wrote about his childhood experiences with the game.

It’s a really heartfelt article and a great read. You wouldn’t be met with a terrible fate if you read this! Seriously, I think it would be a shame if you didn’t read this article.

2001 – The Legend Of Zelda – Oracle Of Ages / The Legend Of Zelda – Oracle of Seasons (GBC)

Adventure Rules takes us through Oracle of Ages and NekoJonez continues with a look at Oracle of Seasons

OOA OOSSo, in 2001 we got the first Zelda games developed by Capcom. Did they do a good job or did they fail? Well, AdventureRules and NekoJonez will tell you in their articles. The work of taking a look at these two games is split right in two, just like how the Oracles games split the Zelda formula right into two games.

2002 – The Legend Of Zelda – Four Swords (GBA)

2004 – The Legend Of Zelda – Four Sword Adventures (GameCube)

Jessica is taking us on a journey through the adventures where Link splits in four.

Personally, I own a copy of the GBA cart with Four Swords, but never got the chance to play it. I have downloaded the DSi/3DS eShop edition of the game. So, it’s quite interesting to read how these two titles play. Since these two titles are the only titles I haven’t really beaten nor really played in the Zelda series. That’s why I have to thank Jessica so much for writing this article. It combines the three games in the Four Sword subseries. Enjoy the read!

2004 – The Legend Of Zelda – The Minish Cap (GBA)

Here is OverThinkerY and he talks about Link’s encounter with the Minish Cap.

260px-ZeldaMinishCap_BoxArtThe first time I played The Minish Cap was a rental. Today, I own the game twice. I have a boxed cartridge version and I got the game again on the 3DS with the ambassador’s program.

OverThinkerY took a look at this game and talks about the history and impact of this game. It’s a great read! For those who didn’t know, this game is also made by Capcom just like the Oracle games.

So, I urge you to take a look at the article he wrote. Let’s fuse those Kingstones!

 2002 – The Legend Of Zelda – The Wind Waker (GameCube)

Lpgardian is talking about the tales of the vast ocean and the Wind Waker.

WindwakerboxWhen the Gamecube got presented to us, we got a very interesting tech demo at SpaceWorld 2000. Yet, not too long after, the art style of the Wind Waker got revealed.

That’s the story everybody knows about the development of the Wind Waker. So we shouldn’t focus on things you already know.

Lpgardian created an article where he talks about why he thinks that the Wind Waker is one of the best Zelda games ever. He talks about why he loves this game and what exactly he loves and enjoys it.

There are more reasons why you should read this article. Besides talking about his experiences, it’s also a nicely written review of the game.

So, go ahead and give it a read. It’s a great article!

2006 – The Legend Of Zelda – Twilight Princess (Gamecube – Wii)

Now Jessica will be talking about the tales of the Twilight Princess

The_Legend_of_Zelda_Twilight_Princess_Game_CoverReading about personal memories about a game is always fun to me. And this is what you can expect from the article that Jessica wrote about Twilight Princess.

In this article, she compares the place of this game in the timeline, how the game compares to other games.

What I love the most about her article is that she talks about how the game impacted her emotionally.

I have to admit myself, I haven’t finished this game yet. But, I have to agree with a lot of things that Jessica mentioned in this article. The dungeons in this game are amazing. This game was one of the sole reasons I bought a Nintendo Wii.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and take a look at Jessica’s article about Twilight Princess since it’s a great read!

2007 – The Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass (DS)

Takuto sends us seaward once again in Phantom Hourglass.

The_Legend_of_Zelda_Phantom_Hourglass_Game_CoverSo, 2007 came around and we got a sequel to the Wind Waker. Now, I have a lot of great memories with this game; I invited Takuto to tell his memories.

The memories he shares in his article are quite relatable. I remember another frustration with this game. There is this part where you need to stamp something on a map. You have to do something with your DS in order for it to work. I have spent too long to figure that out. In any case, I highly recommend that you read the article since Takuto shares his memories about the game in the first part…

2009 – The Legend Of Zelda – Spirit Tracks (DS)

And then Takuto traverses the Overworld, riding along the Spirit Tracks

The_Legend_of_Zelda_Spirit_Tracks_box_art… and in the 2nd part of the article, he takes you on another journey through Hyrule. When he wrote that this game has one of the best soundtracks in the series, I had to listen to the soundtrack again. To be fair, he makes a very good argument.

So, I hope you have your boarding passes ready since in the 2nd part that Takuto wrote is quite an enjoyable read. He compares it to Phantom Hourglass and talks about his own memories.

Also, Takuto, I feel the same way about these games as you said at the end of your article buddy!

2011 – The Legend Of Zelda – Skyward Sword (Wii)

The AmbiGamer takes us skyward with Skyward Sword

Legend_of_Zelda_Skyward_Sword_boxartSkyward Sword was a title that got a lot of praise and a lot of hate from the community. Personally, I enjoy the game to an extent. Thankfully, the AmbiGamer is here to tell her opinion of the game while having a great analysis of the game.

Something really interesting was that she also took a break from playing the game before finishing it. I did the same thing. Twice to be honest.

I still remember the first “leaked” images of this game. Like their one where you saw Link’s back and mysterious blue creature in the foreground. That creature turned out to be Fi, a new version of Navi in my opinion.

But I have introduced this article enough, it’s time for you to read the AmbiGamer’s article about this game.

2013 – The Legend Of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

OverThinkerY takes us between worlds. Is the Link there?

A-Link-Between-Worlds-Box-ArtIn 2013, we got a spiritual successor to Link to the Past on the 3DS. It’s called A Link Between Worlds. And in this title, OverThinker gives you a sort of review of the game while he points out the most interesting facts of this game.

The article he wrote is an interesting analysis of the game.

If you are curious what the opinion of OverThinkerY is about this game, you should take a look. But, you should take a look anyway, since he is a great writer.

2015 – The Legend Of Zelda – Triforce Heroes (3DS)

Sheikah Plate talks about the heroes of the Triforce.

triforce heroesUsually, you can find different recipes from Breath of The Wild on Sheikah Plate’s blog, but she is a big Zelda fan, like me.

She wrote an excellent article on Triforce Heroes. In the article, you will be able to read her own opinion on the game, the development history and much more.

The article is written like she is having a presentation on a stage or talking to you about the game. That makes this article so enjoyable to read.

So, what are you waiting for! I urge you to read about one of the only multiplayer Zelda games!

2017 – The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild (Wii U – Switch)

KillerRobotics takes us through the wild. The Breath of the Wild can be felt already.

BreathoftheWildFinalCoverI still remember how disappointed I was each time I heard that this game was delayed. Thankfully, in March 2017 we got the latest entry in the Zelda series.

The name is Breath of the Wild. At first, I was rather hesitant since it changed so many things about the Zelda formula. I can get quite attached to gameplay so I can get disappointed when a sequel changes too much.

But, that’s enough about me. Now, I want to introduce you to my blogging friend Killer Robotics.

In his article, you will find his memories and experiences with the game. He also talks about how this game changed the Zelda formula and what stands out to him the most.

So, I highly recommend that you read KillerRobotics article to learn more about his opinion on the game. It’s a worthwhile read!

Word of thanks and wrapping up

So, now that we reached the end of the hub article, I want to thank every blogger that helped in this project. This article was one of the biggest projects I have ever done.

This project was so much fun to do and I can’t wait to hear what you think! Any feedback is welcome since we might do this project again with a different game series. But keep in mind, creating a series like this, is a huge undertaking and requires a lot of work.

I also want to thank you, the readers! Thank you for supporting us. Thanks to you, we get to do things like this and create more content to entertain you guys and girls. This wouldn’t be possible if nobody read our articles. This made this project totally worth working on! I hope you discovered some new blogs for you to follow since everybody who helped in this project is all great writers and deserves more people following them!

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed working on this! I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Just to close off this article, these are the Twitter links of the people who helped to write an article or helped to make this project a reality! And in no particular order, I want to thank everybody.

NekoJonez, Tim Bledsoe, Jessica Allaweh Erin Brown, Chris (OverThinkerY), Adventure Rules, LaterLevels, The AmbiGamer, Zach The Darklegend Auld, Qudduws Lpgardian Campbell, Takuto Anime Cafe, Killer Robitics, The Well Red Mage & SheikahPlate

Game Music: My Favorites – Numerbo # 20: My favorite soundtracks ever!

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7More music article right here

It’s time. Time to make harsh decisions. Which soundtracks are currently my favorite soundtracks? I have thought long and hard about this, and I have come up with this list. The list is based on how much I played the game, how much I listen to the soundtrack and how much of the game sticks with me. Some might come as a surprise, but some won’t. But, I’m curious. What are your favorite soundtracks? Feel free to leave a come in the comment section with them or you can comment on my selection too. But keep it civil, that’s all I ask. In any case, here we go. Time to list my favorite soundtracks in this moment of time. Oh, be warned, this is a long article. So, yeah. 

Remember, the choices are my opinion. I haven’t played all games on each system and some soundtracks are picked for personal reasons. I’m not saying that my choices are the best soundtracks on the system, I’m saying here which soundtracks are my favorite on the system.

Side note about the honorable mentions:

  • I limited myself to only list 5 games as honorable mentions. To avoid this article’s length getting out of hand.
  • While I know that some games are multi-platform. When it’s listed with a certain console, that means I played that game on that console. Or if I played the game on more than one console, it means I prefer the soundtrack on that console the most.
  • I only list games that I own and/or have played for an extended amount of time (at least 5 hours or more)

Favorite PC soundtrack: Rise & Fall – Civilizations At War

_-Rise-Fall-Civilizations-at-War-PC-_YouTube playlist

First Impression

Long time readers of my blog know before I started blogging, I used to write fantasy stories. One of my favorite stories was a nature fantasy medieval world where a lot mattered upon the value and amount of land you owned.

When I bought this game, I was right in an RTS-period. My favorite games were Age Of Mythology and Age Of Empires II/III. On that moment in time, I was writing a climax in the story I described earlier. Just give the soundtrack a listen and try to imagine a story like I described. Doesn’t it write itself?

Also, it helps a lot that this game had a gimmick that I find amazing. You can control your main hero during battles. I wish that this was in more games today. Well, with controlling I mean, you control your hero in first-person! Yup, first-person. This game is such a hidden gem. I rarely hear it mentioned when people talk about old-school RTS games. I even have a virtual machine setup just to play this game. Since the annoying copy protection is a real pain in the backside when you try to run it on Windows Vista or newer. But, recently I fixed an old PC and installed Windows XP on it and now I play the game on that machine.

Just listing to the soundtrack while writing this segment makes me very nostalgic. I wonder, has anybody played this game? Let me know! Since I barely find let’s plays or reviews from other people online.

Honorable mentions: Halo: Combat Evolved, Tomb Raider Legend, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, The Elder Scrolls III – Morrowind and Europa Universalis IV

Favorite Gameboy/Gameboy Color soundtrack: The Legend Of Zelda – Oracle Of Ages & Oracle of Seasons aka The Oracle Games

260px-OracleofagesYouTube playlist with both games’ soundtrack

Oracle of Ages review

Oracle of Seasons review

Well, before you call me a cheater, hear me out. When you finish one game, you get a code to transfer some data over to the other game. In that game, you play through the whole game to see the real ending of these games. So, technically, this is just one giant game split up into two big standalone games. So, TLOZOOSthat’s why there is sort of, kind of, two games for this entry.

 In any case, this was one I was pretty certain about. While I have a lot of soundtracks I enjoy listing to from the Gameboy & Gameboy Color period, the price must to go to my favorite games on the system. In my eyes, these games are nearly flawless. Apart from some bad sound effects and sound mixing here and there, this game is flawless.

So, these are my favorite Zelda games. I love the story, gameplay, music, art design and the memories attached to these two titles. But, that are stories for another time.

Honorable mentions: Pokémon Gold/Silver & Crystal, Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets, Super Mario Land 3: Warioland, Kirby’s Dreamland 2 and Tetris

Favorite GBA soundtrack:  Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire & Emerald

Ruby_EN_boxartYouTube playlist

My review of this game

So, I decided to give the GBA a separate entry on this list because the sound chip of the GBA is so much different than the Gameboy & Gameboy Color’s so it wouldn’t be fair to put them all in one entry.

In any case, it’s time to talk about my 2nd favorite Pokémon games ever made. And the soundtrack in this game might use a lot of trumpets and French horn, but I honestly don’t mind one bit about it. The soundtrack is enjoyable to listen to it.

The secret bases in this game is a feature I messed around with a lot. As a kid, I always imagined that it was my own gym. And wouldn’t you know it, they use exactly that blur when they advertise the remakes of that game. “Build secret bases, build it like your own gym.” The childhood nostalgia is strong for this one.

Honorable mentions: Nicktoons – Battle For Vulcano Island, The Legend Of Zelda – Minish Cap, Golden Sun, Mario & Luigi – Superstar Saga and Sims 2

Favorite DS soundtrack: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of Darkness/Time & Sky

Full OST250px-MD_Sky_EN_boxart

Review of the game

So, the DS is my favorite portable system ever. The follow-up system, the 3DS is an amazing replacement. I had the hardest time choosing my favorite soundtrack for this system and even deciding on only 5 honorable mentions.

In the end, I went with a soundtrack of a game that brings back a lot of memories. From both playing the game and the memories of the events that happened in my personal life.

And that “I don’t want to say goodbye” track. Honestly, when I listen to it nowadays, I get teary eyes sometimes. The writing of that part was done so good. It’s a great piece. I love hearing remixes of it since the structure of the song is just so recognizable. Just play the game until the end and I think you will understand why this song has so many emotions for everybody that played this game.

Honorable mentions: Ace Attorney Trails & Tribulations, 999: 9 Hours, 9 Doors, 9 People, Time Hollow, Suikoden Tierkreis and Clubhouse Games

Favorite 3DS soundtrack: Stella Glow

SGCoverRGBYouTube Playlist

My review of the game

I’m glad that I choose to separate the DS and 3DS library for this article. I wouldn’t have been wise to combine those two for one entry. I would never be able to choose one soundtrack.

But, I’m getting off topic. Why is Stella Glow my favorite 3DS soundtrack? Well, because the game’s story is just so well written, I love it to bits. When I downloaded the demo for this game, I was hooked on the story. I placed a note in my budget of the upcoming month to buy this game. But then, thanks to ButtonSmashers, I got a free review copy of this game. Thanks again! Since I discovered this amazing gem of a game.

I know that the game has flaws, but in my eyes; it’s one of the best games I have played on the 3DS. If somebody asks me for recommendations to play on the 3DS, I always mention this game. Just read my review if you want to know why I think this game is so good. Oh, and I decided to replay the game from the beginning. To relive the whole experience again. But this time, I’ll pick different options! A story heavy RPG with replay value, what do you want more?

Honorable mentions: Zero Time Dilemma, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 – Fafnir KnightProfessor Layton vs Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, Fire Emblem Awakening and Kirby Triple Deluxe

My favorite Wii U soundtrack: Hyrule Warriors

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_BoxartSoundtrack

First Impression

To pick the best soundtrack on the Wii U was quite a tricky one. While there are so many great games released on the system, why did I choose for Hyrule Warriors?

First, because this is one of the best Zelda spin-off games I have ever played. It introduced me to a whole new genre I never really paid attention to. And now, I’m playing Destiny Warrior games when I have the time.

Second, this soundtrack is so fun to listen to. It brings back personal memories from when I was writing fantasy stories.

And my last reason, it has amazing remixes of existing Zelda songs. So, the nostalgia is strong in this one.

While I have finished the main campaign for a long time now, I haven’t finished adventure mode yet. But, writing about this game reminds me, I should review this game and give my final opinion on it… One thing is for sure, this game has an amazing soundtrack!

Honorable mentions: Captian Toad – Treasure Tracker, Lego City Undercover, Rayman Legends, Bayonetta 2 and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

My favorite PSP soundtrack: Corpse Party Blood Driven

Corpse Party (USA)

Soundtrack playlist (Includes soundtrack of sequel)

Review of this game

If you haven’t seen this one coming, shame on you. Corpse Party Blood Driven is one of the first gore horror games I ever played. I own this game one several different platforms.

The story and setting of this game are just amazing. I’m just so happy that this game is getting the recognition it deserves after famous YouTubers did a let’s play of it. The only thing I wish is that there were more new games made instead of the remakes. But hey, more Corpse Party is more Corpse Party. So, I’m not complaining that much.

Honorable mentions:  Shadow Of Memories, Legend Of Heroes – Trails in the Sky, Jeanne D’Arc, Ape Escape – On The Loose and Castlevania – The Dracula X Chronicles

My favorite PS1 soundtrack: Tomb Raider II

Tomb_Raider_II.png

Full OST

My review

As a kid, I heard a lot about the Tomb Raider franchise. My first Tomb Raider game was Tomb Raider Chronicles. I fell in love with the gameplay and it reminded me of all the adventure games I played.

Fast forward to 2014. I got my hands on an old desktop and I fixed it up, formatted the hard drive and installed Windows98 SE on it. Now, I started playing all the old Tomb Raider games. While I play all 5 Tomb Raider games on that machine in any order I feel like playing them, Tomb Raider II is a special case. Since I’m trying to beat that game too on the original PlayStation. Yup, I’m playing the PC version and the PS One version. For my playstyle, I prefer the computer edition since I am not too used to the PlayStation controller, to be honest.

The only thing that I dislike about this soundtrack is that it’s rather short. The whole soundtrack is just a half hour to forty minutes long. It’s a shame since the soundtrack for TR II is pretty great. It comes recommend when you love early adventure games’ soundtracks. But, to be honest, I don’t really mind too much about the short length of the soundtrack since the lack of music sometimes sets a great atmosphere for raiding tombs. Maybe we are too spoiled nowadays with music in every single area or event.

Honorable mentions: Rayman, Time Crisis, Final Fantasy 7, A Bug’s Life, Tarzan

My favorite SNES soundtrack: Lufia II

Lufia_II.jpg

Full soundtrack

First Impression

So, I love the SNES. It’s one of the earliest consoles I played over at my cousin’s house. But, my favorite SNES soundtrack is a game that I played in recent years.

The name of the game is Lufia II. Why is this my favorite soundtrack on the SNES. Well, because I own the boxed copy that got translated to my own mother language. Yes, Lufia II got fully translated into Dutch. The fact that I can play a classic RPG in my native language is just mind blowing to me. Dutch isn’t a widely spoken language, so it amazes me that they translated an RPG into Dutch. So, when I think about the SNES, I often think about that fact and the soundtrack comes right along with it.

Maybe the fact that when my uncle gave me his SNES, this was the first game I started playing has something to do with it, I have no clue. But hey, this game is really awesome and I should try and finish it.

Honorable mentions: Secret of Mana, StarWing, The Legend Of Zelda – A Link To The Past, Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG – The Legend Of The Seven Stars

My favorite Wii soundtrack: Okami

okami-wii-boxart

Soundtrack part 1Soundtrack part 2

First Impression

Do I think that Okami is a Zelda clone? Interesting question. Well, it’s a Zelda-style game, but the unique mechanic of the brush is enough for me to make it stand out.

The visual presentation, the setting, the music and the gameplay are all things that make me love this game. I think that Okami is one of the best games ever made on the Wii without a doubt. I honestly think that the game is better with the mention controls. At least for me, since I can’t imagine drawing with an analog stick. But hey, that’s my opinion.

I really have to finish this game, since I finished the sequel Okamiden. I also secretly hope that Okami 2 or a new entry in the series will be a reality one day. So, please be true rumors that went around at E3 2016. Please.

Honorable mentions: The Legend Of Zelda – Skyward Sword, BoomBlocks, Pandora’s Tower, Kirby Epic Yarn and Super Smash Brawl

My favorite PS2 soundtrack: Dragon Quest 8: Journey Of The Cursed King

Dragon_Quest_VIII_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King

Full soundtrack

First impression

I know that this game got a remake/port on the 3DS last year. I bought the game, but I honestly enjoy it more on the PS2. Just my nostalgia speaking, I guess.

So, I learned about the Dragon Quest series when I played Dragon Quest IX on the DS. I was so hooked on that game, I wanted to play more Dragon Quest. So, when I was in my local game store and saw this game second hand, I bought it. I played it here and there but never got really far. But, last summer, I played a lot of this game during my break and I enjoyed myself a whole lot. It brought back memories of me playing Dragon Quest IX on my DS when I was younger.

At the moment of writing, I’m in Peregrin Quay. I know that isn’t too far, but hey, this game is quite grindy. But, I want to finish this game but that’s gonna take a long time.

Honorable mentions: God Of War, Shadow of the Colossus, Rachet & Clank, Escape From Monkey Island and Grand Theft Auto Vice City

My favorite Android soundtrack: Game Dev Story

YouTube playlistGameDevStory

Review of this game

Well, I think it’s no secret that I like the soundtrack of this game after you have read my review of the game.

There are times I listen to different music when I’m playing this game, but I play this game more with the actual soundtrack playing. It’s quite good and I recommend it to everybody who enjoys catchy tunes.

Honorable mentions: Quell, Monument Valley, Lara Croft Go, The Room and Thomas Was Alone

Final thoughts

I promised a special article, so here it is! A quite lengthy article, I know. At first, I was going to limit myself to a top 5 soundtracks, but then I decided… Hey, let’s pick for each game system one soundtrack. I had to limit myself to 5 honorable mentions/system, otherwise, the honorable mentions of some systems would be longer than the talk about the game and soundtrack itself.  So, I still have a lot of tracks and stuff to talk about for another couple of gaming music articles.

I think it’s quite clear that I love game music. I often listen to soundtracks while I’m at work or while I’m writing articles. I can’t really explain why. That love for gaming music is the reason why I love writing these articles.

In any case, it’s time to wrap this article up since it has been going on for way too long! I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. 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: Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (GBA) ~ Here Come The Horns

9jkdjk.jpg

Bulbapedia entry

My family and I take yearly trips to the seaside. I remember on the trip of 2003, we stopped in a big toy store. There was a Gameboy SP present with a demo version of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. I played it in the store and knew what I wanted to buy at the end of the trip. I wanted my own Gameboy Advance SP with the new Pokémon games. It didn’t take long before I got my very own copy of the games and that I started playing it. Now, after I have finished all three games, it’s time to take a look back to the games and decide if it was a good decision to buy and play these games or that these games actually belong in the trash. So, let’s review these games. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the article and/or games.

Plot and such

pokemon_advance_profilelarge

This game starts like every other Pokémon game starts. You move to a new town where you are asked to help the professor to set out on a journey to explore the new region. In this game, the characters are rather interesting. For some reason, the rival characters and various other characters are one of the most memorable in the whole Pokémon series.

Truth to be told, I think most have to do with the fact that Pokémon was right at its absolute peak where I lived then. Everybody was talking on the playground about the latest Pokémon they caught and how the new anime season was running at the same time then you progressed in the game. This made the game more memorable for me. So, it might possibly be nostalgia blinding me.

So, I really think that the writing in this game is really well done. Also, the secrets you could discover in the game were fun too. There was a way to catch three new legendary Pokémon in a complete side quest. In this side quest, you had to read braille to enter a door. And I didn’t look it up on the internet, I actually used the guide provided to me in the manual to translate the Braille into readable letters and figured it out that way.

What’s even more interesting, you can use this three Pokémon to trade them into the next generation and unlock a special Pokémon that way. That’s a big positive in my book!

Horns & flutes

ruby

This game has an amazing presentation. I dare to argue that even to this day, this game holds up quite good. Just think about it, this game’s engine is the basis of most Pokémon Rom Hacks.

It’s the last 2D Pokémon game since the 4th Generation went into 2,5D. But, Pokémon Platinum, Pearl & Diamond are for another review.

Something a lot of people point out about this game is the soundtrack. In nearly every track, there is a (French) horn and/or a flute present. While I enjoy listing to the soundtrack, I have to admit that this soundtrack lacks variety in its instruments. But back in the day, I didn’t really mind it. The jump in quality from the previous generation was just too big.

Visually, this game is bright and colorful. I really love exploring the Hoenn region. I love exploring it so much that I even explored it several times. Yes, I played this game several times. Something that added even more life to the game is the animations in the overworld. Things like the rain and the sandstorm or the tracks you made riding your bike in the sand made the game come more alive than ever.

A lot to do

pokemon-ruby-screenshot-6

So, this game introduces quite a lot of interesting new mechanics to play around with. Let’s first start with the new battle mechanics. This game introduced double battles. This is such a great addition to the series that to this day, spin-off ideas are put into the main series Pokémon games.

That reminds me, the gameplay of this game is really good. The whole adventure in this game is one of the best adventures you can have on the Gameboy Advance (SP). But honestly, isn’t that a given with a main series Pokémon game?

So, in this game, you also have secret bases. I have to admit that this was one of my favorite features ever. I wish they implemented in more Pokémon games. I had high hopes when they were re-introduced in the next generation as bases in the underground side-game.

And let’s not forget about the Pokémon contests, berry mini-games and the truckload of changes to the battle and breeding system. This game brought so many new things to the table, there is a lot to do in this game before you have seen and done everything.

Do I have something negative to say about this game? Honestly, one thing. That this game works with a battery. Nowadays, the battery will have run dry and time-based events won’t happen. If you can look past that, you have a great game ahead of yourself.

This game’s difficulty curve is pretty great. Apart from the rematches of trainers. I rarely lost those. But that’s a nitpick since you can choose when you do those rematches and I did them when my team was overleveled.

The last thing I want to talk about is the controls. And guess what, they work brilliantly. I have nothing to complain here.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time we go to the conclusion of this article.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The internal battery can run dry.

-No multiple save slots.

-A bit more instrument variety would have been great….

The good:

+ … yet the overall soundtrack is pretty great.

+ Good writing and pacing of the story.

+ Good difficulty curve.

+ Interesting and fun side adventures can be had.

+ Trading with the next generation!

+ Secret bases

+ Pokémon Contests.

+ …

Conclusion

If you would ask me which generation is the best Pokémon generation. I would honestly doubt. Each generation has something I really love about it. And this game is no different. When I was preparing and when I was writing this review, I had trouble finding flaws in this game.

It might be because of a lot of nostalgia, it might because this Pokémon game is that good. If you are a Pokémon fan and you haven’t played this game, I urge you to check this game out. It’s really good. I might not have mentioned a few things in my review, but you’ll find out soon enough. The post-game content is the best in Emerald by the way.

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

Score: 100/100

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

The_Legend_of_Zelda_The_Minish_Cap_Game_CoverZelda wiki entry

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

Easy?

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

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

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

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

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

New items

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The bad:

 – Kingstones aren’t well implemented.

 – This game isn’t that difficult.

 – I wished this game was longer.

The good:

+ Solid gameplay.

+ Fun new story.

+ Nice visuals.

+ Great music and sound design.

+ Fun new items.

+ …

Final thoughts:

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

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

Score: 100/100

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