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Review: Atelier Rorona -The Alchemist of Arland- DX (Switch) ~ Crafting The Adventure With Alchemy.

atelier-rorona-featureWikipedia page

On my top 10 games list of 2018, I talked about Atelier Rorona. I talked about how this game got me interested in the Atelier series. Now, it’s time to give my full opinion on the game. Why did I place this game on my top ten list and why wasn’t it higher on the list? I think it’s time to talk about crafting and exploring. Adventuring and RPG’ing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Get of your lazy bum

atelier rorona screen 1The story of this game has a simple premise. You play as Rorona, a young girl who is an apprentice at a local alchemy shop in the Arland Kingdom. Her master Astrid is so lazy that business isn’t going well at all. In a matter of fact, she didn’t get of her lazy bum for so long, the kingdom is considering to close down the shop. Rorona doesn’t want this to happen so she takes on the challenges provided by the kingdom. She gets a deadline of three years. During these three years she has to prove that she can run the alchemy shop and make profit. If she fails one of these challenges, the shop will be closed without any further question.

On the surface, the story of this game isn’t anything special. It’s one that has been done various times before. Yet, the story actually changes a lot on your actions. It depends on who you take with you on your journey, how good you craft your items, how you interact with the characters and how you run your alchemy shop. The one that lazy Astrid sort of gave to you because she wanted more sleep but didn’t want the shop to be closed.

This makes the story quite a lot of fun to play through. Because each and every playthrough is going to be different, you will have a different story. This game has various endings that all depend on how good you did during your missions provided by the kingdom. When I had beaten the game for the first time, I got a very generic ending that didn’t give the closure I felt that the story deserved. Because of that, I feel motivated to replay this game with so I can get an even better ending.

The writing of this game makes replaying this game even more enjoyable. While I was playing this game, I posted a short clip on my Twitter showing off the voice acting. The game has a lot of funny and charming moments. I actually fell in love with the characters of this game. Now, depending on how good you play this game, the characters you interact with get more character development.

Now, during my playthrough the story was quite enjoyable. While it didn’t have a lot of moments where I sat on the edge of my seat, it was quite relaxing. Maybe the other endings have more thrilling moments, but over all I enjoyed the story quite a lot. The writing, the pacing and the voice acting make for an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see how the game plays out on my next playthrough.

With that said, how do you actually go about saving the shop? For that, Rorona needs to gather ingredients from various locations and craft various items. Depending on the quality of the items, you get better items. Now, I do have one thing I felt mixed about in terms of the gameplay.

Running that shop

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-01-ps4-us-04dec2018

Yes, this is a screenshot from the PS3 version, but the Switch version looks the same apart from the different buttons.

While the story pacing is quite good, the pacing of the game is … let’s just say, strange. Because the game gives of a relaxing and casual vibe, the game can feel extremely slow. But this is very misleading. Because you have a strict time limit; you shouldn’t waste time at all. You have to play every move extremely carefully. The more mistakes you make, the worse your ending gets. The depth in this game is crazy. You do get an assistant in the middle point of the game. This mechanic saved me various times. You can assign this assistant to go and explore for you or craft items for you.

Be warned, the tutorials of this game only scratch the surface of the mechanics of this game. Something I recommend is that you use the save system to your advantage. I had various saves at various points. So, I can go back when I felt I was able to finish the missions with better results.

Talking about the save system, the fact that this game got ported from a PlayStation system really shows in the UI. If you have played a game on a PlayStation you will recognize the typical save and load UI easily. The only thing that annoys me is that I’m unable to name my saves. This would have helped quite a lot.

So, you have to explore, fight monster and craft items. This sounds like your typical RPG fair. You do have side quests that can help you to get a better relationship with a certain character. Some of these side quests have the potential to improve the reputation of the shop which also has a big influence on the ending of the story.

All in all, the biggest challenge of this game is time management. Use your time wisely and try to waste as few days as you can. I always tried to finish the assignment of the kingdom as fast as I could. When I finished that, I used the remaining days to explore new area’s and improve my relationship with the other characters.

The gameplay immersed me quite a lot. I really felt like a shop owner trying to find the best strategy to get my shop up and running and to try to get as many customers as I can. While the game isn’t too difficult to get the most basic ending, the challenge for this game hides in trying to get the best endings.

A normal playthrough of this game will take you somewhere around 20 hours. But, if you want to see all the endings, you will get a lot more out of this game. On howlongtobeat.com, there are reports of players taking 60 to 100 hours to fully complete this game. Now, this is for the PlayStation 3 version. On the time of writing this review, the website has no listing for the Nintendo Switch version.

Now, the meat of this game is in exploration and the crafting. First of all, let’s go a bit more in-depth about the exploration. During your exploration you can take two allies with you. Certain allies require a certain price to hire. This price needs to be paid up front. So, make sure you have enough gold in the bank to hire them.

During the exploration you can go to various locations. Each location has several area’s you can explore that provide different items. These items aren’t randomized, so if you find herbs in a certain area, you will be able to find those herbs every time there.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have an inventory limit. If you reach that limit, you have to throw out items. Also, you need to keep in mind that certain items can lose their freshness. For example, if you collect berries and don’t put them in your storage in the chest in the shop, the quality will drop.

During your exploration, you can see certain spots where items can be gathered. In the meantime, you see the enemies roaming around. When you interact with them, you can start a fight with them. The battles are turn-based. It’s the system you see in a million other RPG’s. But there are a few differences.

One difference is that only an alchemist can use items. So, only Rorona can use healing items during the battle. Another difference is that you can use certain characters to defend you and make combo attacks. In each battle, a meter builds up. When that meter is full, you can use the shoulder buttons to defend Rorona. A similar mechanic counts for the combo attacks.

One thing you need to keep in mind during the exploration is that moving between locations and area’s takes valuable time. So, make sure you know which items you need and where you can find them and plan accordingly. Otherwise you might get into trouble and you aren’t able to craft certain items.

In addition to that, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of MP. MP is also used to craft items. And this brings me on the second part of the gameplay I want to focus on, the crafting. This is something I didn’t always paid attention too. Each item can have certain properties that make a huge difference during crafting. Each item has also a quality level that changes the outcome quite a lot as well.

Something I found extremely tricky was looking for high quality items. For some reason, I always found mid tear or low tier quality items. I’m quite sure that this was one of the reasons that resulted in me having a mediocre ending. Now that I know that, I know what I should look for in a second playthrough.

Anyways, the crafting system itself is a bit basic. You can select various ingredients to craft an item. If you don’t have a certain sub ingredient that is craftable, you get forwarded to the craft menu of that item. One thing that I found really annoying was that it wasn’t always clear which ingredients were missing. For example, the icon of the missing ingredient was a flame. But I had a few ores that looked extremely similar. Yet that wasn’t the ingredient I needed. It turns out I needed oil.

Something I really liked was that in the crafting list, you were able to sort ingredients in terms of quality or rarity. Also, you had various symbols that gave information if you were or weren’t able to craft a certain item. For example, a triangle means that you are able to craft the item but you have to craft a sub item first.

One thing that I would like to mention is that this game can be repetitive. It’s quite easy to fall in a loop for every assignment or mission. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. And repeat. Each assignment has a different theme like preparing for a festival or helping to craft medicine.

I didn’t mind too much, but I feel that a bit more variation in the gameplay would do the game some good. For example, a bit more assignments where you needed to defeat a certain number of monsters or collect a certain amount of ingredients would do the trick.

Arland is saved

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-03-ps4-us-04dec2018Let’s talk about visuals. This game looks quite nice in my opinion. While the game could have benefited from a free camera, I actually didn’t mind too much since the camera allowed me to watch the nice city and fun dungeons in great detail. Some enemies suffer from the recolor syndrome, like the slime enemies. There are at least 3 variants and only the color has been changed. I wish those games added a few extra details. Oh well. At least I never had slowdowns during gameplay and I was able to play the game at a decent frame rate.

In terms of animation, this game is good. While the cut scenes would have benefited from some more character animation instead of gorgeous looking 2D artwork. Now, if the game came out in a previous generation, I would excuse this…. oh, wait… that’s right, this game is a port of a PS3 game. Then again, the PS3 is capable of so much more. Oh well.

Now something that bugged me a bit is the rather awkward jumping animation. I think it’s missing a few frames near the end where Rorona’s feet almost snap into place. It also looks strange when you adjust your jump in midair. Since Rorona sort of floats awkwardly. It’s hard to put into words but while the jump works great, it feels off and looks a bit off.

Jumping in itself is easy to do and control. You just press the jump button and voila. I don’t have any complaints about the controls. I really like how there is a dedicated button to cycle through Rorona’s animations. The game controls great and I didn’t have need to spend time getting used to them. The UI explains it so well, I got the hang of it right away. One minor nitpick is that the prompt for running is a tad confusing. When the UI shows a button for “running ON” and you press that button, Rorona actually starts walking. So, that promt in the UI actually shows the status if you are running or not.

Now, the UI has some amazing things I really liked. Like how easy it is to sort items or the great and easy to use crafting system. But I have a few complaints. First of all, I wish I was able to see which ingredients where at a certain location before I actually travelled there. I would have been able to save so many days…

Secondly, while I totally understand why the developers did this; I wish I was able to see how many days it would take to go to a newly discovered gathering area. The reason why they don’t tell you this is most likely for immersions reasons.

And my final and third complaint is when you buy armor, you can’t see if it would increase somebody’s stats or not. This was quite annoying, especially when the armor shop rarely has new items because the game really wants that you craft it yourself.

The music and sound effects for this game are good. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the story quite well. It’s relaxing and rather melodic. It helps to get immersed into the game. I even added the soundtrack to my playlist for when I want to relax. Now, the sound effects are great but I wish there were a bit more of them. For the whole crafting system, the use the same effects and I would love some different ones for food or bombs. Also, one for days passing while the clock ticked over would be the cherry on the cake.

Oh, and here is something nice, you can totally change the whole soundtrack. Yes, while interacting with the book in the atelier, you can change each and every track to another track. You can choose between a pretty long list of other games in the series. Now, this is an amazing feature but it could have used some additional features. Like a reset to default option and one where you easily see which song you have selected since in that menu there is a lot of unused screen space. And the biggest missing feature is in my opinion a preview of what song is currently playing. Oh dear, they were so close.

In that same menu, you can access the different costumes for Rorona. As far as I know these are only cosmetic. You can do save file management and decorate the atelier to a certain degree. You can also access the options menu where you can adjust the sound mix to your liking. In here, you can also change the language of the voice acting to Japanese or English. So, if you want Rorona to greet you in Japanese in the main menu, you can do that.

After you have finished the game, there is a postgame chapter. I won’t spoil what the chapter is about but it adds some additional story. But after this post game, there is no free roaming. So, you can’t experiment with the game… This is a real missed opportunity since I would have loved to try and experiment with the game to learn and have a better run next time. Yet, on the other hand, I totally understand why they did this. Because the game has so many different endings in which different characters aren’t present, it would have been a hell to program.

Interestingly, during me writing this review and posting it; the game got a small update. I have no clue what has been added, but I wanted to mention it, just in case something in my review doesn’t make sense anymore.

With that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave some things out for you as a surprise if you decide to play this game. But, it’s time for the conclusion of this review and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The jump animation looks awkward.
  • The game can be repetitive.
  • There is no free play in the post content.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story, writing and voice acting.

+ Amazing charm.

+ Great UI.

+ High replay value due to the different endings.

+ Relaxing soundtrack and you can change it to your liking!

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I don’t know exactly how this game compares to other games in the Atelier series. Since this game is the first game in the series I have played. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time with this game quite a lot. The game is on the surface a relaxing game with a lot of charm. But, don’t get fooled, this game can become quite hectic in a good way.

The game is quite enjoyable to play but difficult to master. You really need to plan every single move to make sure to you get yourself in a difficult situation.

This game is perfect for everybody who is looking for an RPG with a crafting system or somebody who is looking for a shop simulator. While I can totally understand why some people won’t enjoy this game too much, it did click with me.

But the game is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite good but it has some flaws that hinder the gameplay in my opinion. Like the strict deadlines and the repetitive nature of the game.

Personally, I recommend that you give this game a try. If only there was a demo of this game you could try out and judge for yourself if this game is for you are not. I bought this game because the screenshots and descriptions looked interesting on the Nintendo eShop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, I can’t wait to play the other games in this trilogy to see if they improved the mechanics in the other games. Maybe they crafted an even better adventure while they kept everything that worked quite well in this game.

Do keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is a bad game. It’s a good game with some flaws. It’s up to you to decide if these flaws would hinder your enjoyment of the game or not. Since this game has a lot of depth so you will be able to have a lot of fun with this game.

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

Score: 70/100

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Review: Death Mark (Switch) ~ Alive Until Dawn

death mark

Official website

You are walking on a street and you overhear two schoolgirls talking to each other. They tell a story about one of their teachers dying in a horrible death. Her arm was found in the library of the school, cut off from the rest of the body with a red bite mark on the hand. That’s how Death Mark opens. The game I decided to play during the Halloween season because I already finished Angels of Death by then. Since I started playing the Zero Escape series and Corpse Party, I have been hooked on the horror genre. I wanted to play more horror games or games with a strong focus on horror. It doesn’t need to be survival horror like Resident Evil 4 or Silent Hill but a game that fits the mood of the holiday perfectly. Now, I know I’m terribly late with my review of this game. But, it was part of my top 10 games of 2018 list and I want to give my honest opinion on it. So, let’s talk about the PS Vita game that got ported to the Switch called Death Mark. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Alive until dawn

nswitch_deathmark_05So, the story of this game centers around the mystery of the mysterious Death Mark people have been receiving. This red bit mark appears on people’s bodies when they interact with spirits. The protagonist of this game suffers from your typical case of memory loss and doesn’t remember his past. After you heard the two girl’s their story, your own mark starts to burn and you get teleported to a mansion. When you enter the mansion, you find it to be abandoned. When you visit one of the bedrooms, a thunder crack reveals the dead body of a girl on the floor with flowers blooming from her stomach and chest. Startled, you run down starts where you meet up with a doll that explains to you that the Death Mark is quite real.

If you are unable to remove your mark, you will die by the time dawn comes. One theory that you quickly form is that you can possibly remove the mark by killing or defeating a spirit. But, how do you kill a spirit? How do you kill something that is already dead? Well, by trying to solve the grudge that is keeping them in the living realm.

After you got the explanation of the living wooden doll that lives on the sofa in the entrance of the mansion, you heard a knock on the door. You open the door and find two teenagers. They are looking for the previous inhabitant of the mansion. She is a spirit healer and they are looking for her help to get rid of the same mark you possess. It’s revealed that she was the dead body you discovered earlier. So, you try and take her place. So, now you start in trying to help the other people with a Death Mark while trying to discover who you are and which spirit gave you your Death Mark.

All of this is explained in a quite lengthy introduction. The writing of this game is amazing. If this story sounds interesting to you, I have to give you a fair warning. This game is a visual novel adventure game. There is quite a lot of text in this game. If you aren’t interested in playing a game that has more dialogue then gameplay, this isn’t your game.

I do have to say that the writing is amazing in this game. The story has it a weird charm. At one hand, the game has amazing characters and great development. It didn’t take long before I got attached to certain characters and I got quite invested in them. Yet, this game is also a horror game. So, a lot of creepy stuff happens on your journey. From finding death bodies to combating spirits, this game has it all. This game has just the perfect mix between the two worlds and I have no complaints about them. The pacing of the game is just perfect as well.

The only minor disappointment is that the characters are voice acted in Japanese. Now, I don’t mind Japanese voice acting that much, but I personally prefer English voice acting. The whole game isn’t voice acted, but quite a lot is. The voice acted that is present in the game is really great. But, I’m not going to critique it too much since I don’t know enough about Japanese to say it’s good or bad. But, from my personal experience, I feel that the voice actors always used the right emotion to what appears on screen.

This game has 6 chapters. The original PS Vita game had 5 chapters and one DLC chapter. The DLC chapter is included for free in this Switch port. There is something in terms of the chapters I’m quite on the fence about. The chapters themselves are not too long nor too short. But, if you combine all playtime to get through the game and fully beat it, this game takes around 8 to 10 hours to complete. This game is quite short, too short even.

Near the end, I was so invested in the game, I was extremely bummed when I finished the final chapter. I wanted to play more, explore the world and setting of the game a bit more. But alas. Thankfully, this game doesn’t have a lot of filler content. The story in some chapters can go at a breakneck pace and that was a refreshing experience.

Explore and read

nswitch_deathmark_04One of my favorite genres in video games is the visual novel. There are two types of visual novels; the ones with gameplay and the kinetic ones. The kinetic ones almost have no gameplay and I honestly dislike playing. This game isn’t a kinetic novel. In this game, you have to explore various areas where a spirit is roaming. During your exploration, you have to find a reason of the grudge of the spirit.

While you are exploring the area, you can come across live or death situations. You get presented with different options and if you choose the wrong option, you get a game over. In some cases, you lose soul power. What is this soul power? It’s the power of your soul, when this drops to 0, the spirit of the chapter catches you right away.

When you are in a live or death situation, you are timed. The remaining time you have, is the remaining soul power you have. During your exploration, you can find talismans that restore your soul power if it gets low. Now that I have beaten the game, I can say that there is no additional reward when you answer all the questions correctly without losing soul power. This is a missed opportunity. It would be great if this unlocked the additional 6th chapter or some character art.

Anyways, your soul power fully restores in-between chapters. So, you aren’t punished for mistakes in an earlier chapter. Personally, my favorite chapter is the 6th chapter. The moral of that chapter speaks to me on a personal level.

Now, there are two different endings to this game. The ending that you get depends if you are able to fully solve the grudge of the spirit of that chapter. So, when it comes to the climax of each chapter, think long and hard before you make your next move. Since one mistake during those battles can change the ending dramatically.

Speaking about the climax of each chapter, think carefully who you take as a partner on your journey. Sometimes you will be unable to defeat a spirit if you don’t have the right character in your party. I loved trying to work out who would be the best character to use against the spirit. Reading their character profile is even more important now than before. My advice is, save often. You are only able to save outside of dialogue sections. So, don’t be a hero and save after you made some progress. Also, pay attention that this game doesn’t automatically save. And when you are dead, you have to restart from your last save point. You can save using the “Y” button. There are a limited amount of save slots, so use them wisely.

Saving is this game is quite easy. After the introduction, you can save when you are in the mansion in a limited amount of save slots. Now, if you want to be able to restart a chapter, I highly advise you to save right after the introduction of the chapter. Since, there is no other way to start from a certain chapter. The only option in the main menu are new game, continue or a gallery. In this gallery, you can see the animation of the spirits and the images you saw during the chapter.

In terms of the UI, this game is good. I have no real complaints. I do have some minor suggestions. Especially with the inventory screen. This would feel so much better if the inventory screen had a static image of the item you have selected. Now, it’s just a boring looking list of items, like you would see in a spreadsheet.

Anyways, sometimes the story of one spirit links to the story of another spirit. In that case, you can always read a small summary in the pause menu. During that, you can watch the amazing full screen pictures that were used during the chapter.

During each chapter, you have to explore a location. You can only explore with one partner. The other partner or partners will stay at the mansion to look for clues in solving the mystery of the Death Mark. You can go at any moment to the entrance of the location to take the car back to the mansion to change partners. Like I said earlier, the choice of partner matters. If you are unable to solve a puzzle or pass through a location, try having another partner.

The locations themselves aren’t that large. It doesn’t take too long before you are able to fully explore the location. Now, there is something to do in each and every screen of the game. From small jump scares to big puzzles. Oh yes, this game has small jump scares. Most of the jump scares are rather subtle and aren’t too distracting from the exploration. To be honest, I found them used quite well. Also, it’s possible that you don’t even see all the jump scares since they are location specific.

During your journey for the truth in the Death Mark mystery, you explore a forest, a school and various other locations. Each location is extremely memorable. The detail in the artwork of each location is impressive. The atmosphere building with the visual presentation in this game is a strong point of this game. I really felt on edge while exploring certain locations. I really felt that the location I was exploring had a certain presence and a morbid history to it. In some occasions, the game managed to get underneath my skin.

Now, in terms of the animations, this game has a lot of missed potential. Apart from the spirit battles, this game doesn’t have a lot of animations. I think it would have been better if the game had a bit more animations and scene transitions. For example, a walking animation from going between rooms would aid a lot with the world building and immersion. And if you give the option to the players to turn this animation on or off, it would be perfect. Now, there is a small dialogue box that appears when you move between rooms with a sound effect, but could be so much more.

On the edge of my seat

nswitch_deathmark_03Exploration in this game is really well done. During the game, you are able to use your flashlight to investigate each and every room. I highly advise that you look around carefully in each and every room. Since every little detail can aid you in your quest to solve the grudge of the spirit. The game helps you out a bit in the investigation. When you can interact with something, you see a little sparkle animation when you hover over it with your flash light.

When you have to use an item in your quest, the item will be automatically used. Expect during the spirit battles. In those battles you have to use every item in your inventory to try and defend yourself. You and the spirit take turns in making a move. If the spirit comes too close, it’s game over.

Apart from one puzzle, the puzzles in this game are well crafted. They really test your skills in exploring the area you are in and your investigation skills. Exploring the location gets even better with the fluid controls. The flashlight is mapped to one of the joysticks of the joycon and reacts very responsively.

Now, there is one thing that could turn some people off and that is the map system. During the exploration, you have a mini-map of the location at the top right. This mini-map is nothing more than a few squares and lines how the squares connect. So, you will have to build a mental map of the location during your exploration. This is highly essential when you don’t want to get lost. A more detailed map would have been welcome, but I felt it added to the world building of the game. Remember the story? You only have the few short hours of the night to try and get rid of the grudge of the spirit before you die. So, creating an actual map might lose too much time.

The controls in this game are quite decent. Sometimes I got a bit disoriented, but that’s because my mediocre navigational skills in games. It doesn’t take long before you get used to the control scheme of this game and learn to use it to your advantage.

The exploration is added with some great sound and music design. The soundtrack sounds like a combination of the Zero Escape series, Ace Attorney and Corpse Party. The music gives of eerie vibes and fits the visual presentation like a glove. I’m actually hunting down the soundtrack of this game to add it to my music library.

Together with the amazing sound effects, the visual and audiovisual presentation of this game is a real treat. I can’t make any complaints about that aspect of the game. Before I keep repeating myself, I think it’s time that we talk about another aspect of the game.

The difficulty of this game is just right. The game is even more difficult when you don’t pay attention during the investigation. In the later chapters, I even took some physical notes to aid myself during the investigation.

Now, if you forgot to save, there is a button that you can use to fast forward the cut scenes. I rarely used this button since I was too invested in the story. I used this button only once when I forgot to save before a LIVE OR DEATH situation and I got a game over… Now, I could have used the “decide again” option to restart from the beginning of the LIVE OR DEATH situation but I lost too much soul power. So, restarting from an earlier point actually benefited me.

Also, there is a message log you can access. A minor complaint is that the button to fast forward is quite hidden in the UI. It’s the L-button.

The replay value of his game isn’t too high. Not counting replays for fun, you can play twice through the game before you have seen it all. Now, this isn’t a big issue but more endings would extend the already short overall game time.

With that said, I said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time to go to the summary and closing statement of this review.

Summary

The good:

+ Amazing atmosphere in the visual and audio department.

+ Great writing.

+ The game has a lot of text.

+ …

The bad:

  • The game is too short.
  • The game has a lot of text.
  • A bit more animations would enhance the game a lot.
  • You can’t restart a chapter without a save.

Final thoughts:

This game is not for everybody. If you don’t like a game that has a lot of text, I think that it’s best for you to skip this game. If you enjoy games like Ace Attorney, Zero Escape, Walking Dead, Corpse Party, Trace Memory… I highly recommend this game.

This game is the perfect game to play through on Halloween night or whenever you are in the mood to play more horror focused games. The writing, pacing, audio and visual presentation of this game is very well done. The biggest flaw of this game is that it’s too short. I got so invested and the ride was over before I knew it.

Now, a spiritual successor is going to be released in Japan really soon called NG. I really hope and wish that they are going to bring this game to the west as well. Since the trailer looks amazing and I really would love to play it.

I can totally see why some people would be turned off by this game. But personally I loved my playthrough. When you play this game, don’t use a walkthrough. This game gets even more fun when you aren’t using a walkthrough to guide you in every step of the way.

If you ask me, I think that this game is totally worth it’s price. This developer really convinced me of the quality games they can put out. While this game has flaws, in my eyes they don’t ruin the experience at all. But, I’m really going to hammer this home… This game would be perfect if there were a bit more chapters. A bit more content.

And with that said, I have really said everything I could say about this game. I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 90/100

Review: Lucid Path (PC) ~ Let’s Go RPG’ing

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Official steam page

Today I want to take a look at a game that got sent to me. The name is Lucid Path. It’s a RPG created by Grevicor. I got a review copy of this game to write this review but the developer asked me to give my 100% honest opinion, so that’s what you are going to get in this article. I’m honestly glad that I’m able to try this game, since looking at the screenshots, I’m quite interested in playing it. Also, the developer told me that this is a very short game that throws the player in unexpected and twisted situations. So, you got my attention. Let’s explore those situations then. And as usual, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Misery Loves Company

20181117175122_1The story of this game starts out quite simple. You are tired of your miserable life and you go set out on an adventure. Luck is on your side, since adventure finds you really fast. You come across a village which has a problem with a nearby dungeon. Now, it’s up to you to solve their problem.

Before I continue, I must say that the font chosen in dialogue boxes fits the theming for the game really well. But, it made it tricky to easily see the difference between some letters like the “o” and “a”. Now, I didn’t mind it too much, since I’m pretty fluent in English (…If you need evidence, in what language am I even writing then?) so, I was able to read it without a problem.

You go and explore the dungeon and try to solve the problem. You meet several characters which will aid you in your quest. In addition to that, you learn that there is a bigger problem in this dungeon than just the monsters.

The writing itself is pretty decent. You meet some other people from the village during your quest. Since the game is pretty short, I don’t want to spoil the ending or any more of the story. If you are interested, I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself.

Chilling in the dungeon

20181117180029_1The gameplay of this game is quite relaxing. This game is a casual RPG. The gameplay of this game consists out of playing mini games, choosing when to use your spells and improving your character. Now, what do I mean by “mini games”? When your character takes on a quest, you don’t have to do anything. You play a small mini game on an old computer. Depending on how you do in the mini-game, the faster your character is able to finish the quest.

Each time you go and explore the dungeon, you earn coins and medals. With these coins, you can buy better equipment and with the medals you can improve your stats at the castle. Now, you can also earn coins and medals by doing quests. There are 3 quests you can do. After you have done those three quests, you have to go inside the dungeon to get new ones.

Before I talk about the dungeon, I want to mention the shop. This part of the game still needs some polishing work. There are two things I disliked about the store. The first thing is that you have to drag & drop from and to your inventory to buy and sell. When you try to sell an armor piece you are wearing, that won’t work. And if you double click on something to buy, that won’t work either. This was annoying while I was using the shop. I get used to it, but I felt like I was doing a click too much.

The second thing I disliked about the shop were the colored items. It’s quite unclear with the spectrum is. The ones without a background are the cheapest and weakest ones. Followed by a green background, yellow background, blue background and those with a purple background are the strongest. Now, why not show “lv.1”, “lv.2”… ? This makes it easier to figure out and it also helps colorblind people.

Something I did really like about the store is the fact that the inventory of the store is random each and every time. You can refresh the store’s inventory by spending a few coins. I made sure to check the store each and every time before I went to the dungeon to make sure there wasn’t more powerful gear waiting for me in the dungeon.

The gameplay in the dungeon is a bit too uninvolved. The battle takes places automatically. There are two things you can influence. The first thing is when you decide to use your spells. You can store 4 spells. You have a fire spell, thunder spell, poison spell… There are a handful of them. You can only use each spell once during your session. The session ends when you are out of health. When you are out of health, you go back to the town.

Now, the 2nd thing you can influence in the dungeon is the speed of the game. Now, you can either pause, play at normal speed or play sped up. You even have a button to leave the dungeon early. The leave button isn’t a temporary check point, it’s like a retreat. When you faint and enter the dungeon again, you start at the latest checkpoint. Each five rooms, you get a checkpoint.

About the controls for controlling the speed of the game, I found it disappointing that it was unclear which button was pressed. It would be really helpful if there is a visual identification to show which button you have chosen.

Besides that, there isn’t a lot to do in the dungeon. I found this disappointing, I wish it was a bit more involved. I also felt that the AI of the monsters attacked my character more than your companion. Thankfully, upgrading and improving your character isn’t hard. Each time I trained my character and bought better items, I felt I was able to progress one or two rooms further in the dungeon.

Alright, I have to be honest about something. There are some additional things to do in the dungeon. But, I would ruin a surprise for that. So, if you want to know what that is, you should play this game. The only thing I would say is that there should be more moments like those that happen in the dungeon.

You are able to heal yourself outside of the dungeon by doing quests. These quests give green pearls that heal you. So, you each time you want to heal, you have to play a mini game. You can’t enter the dungeon without full health either.

Now, there is a more involved version of the dungeon and that is the arena in the castle. You can choose between three different tiers and with that you can win an item. Now, you have to press the space bar at the right time to deal more damage. It’s that kind of mini game that you need to press the button when the pointer is in the green area. In the arena, your equipment does not make a difference. So, it’s pure skill based in there. You do have to pay coins to get in the arena. The more difficult the challenge is, the cheaper it becomes. This makes sense, since that way you can’t easy farm the cheap items to have a huge mountain of cash to easily buy the most powerful items.

Now, if this was in the main dungeon, that would make the game a bit more interesting. Since most of my enjoyment in this game came from the times I was playing the mini games and messing around in the town…

Vector mini games

20181117195941_1Now, this game doesn’t automatically save, so if you don’t want to lose any progress… Quit the game using the menu in the town. Now, if you reboot the game in full screen, you might notice that there is some graphical weirdness going on. Just go into the options menu, click the full screen option once to go to windowed mode and click it again to go back to full screen. That fixes that issue.

The mini games are vector based mini games. The first mini game you encounter is a top down shooter that reminded me a lot of Asteroids. Each time you shoot a falling rock, the rocks’ drop speed increases. The faster the rock, the more points it gives to completing the quest. Oh, you have to actually do something in the mini games or your character won’t progress in his quest. After a few floors, you unlock the possibility to play another mini-game for a good amount of coins.

The 2nd mini game is one where you go downward and you aren’t allowed to touch the edges. I personally highly dislike these style of mini games. Now, this is something personal, but I have never been good at this mini game. Each mini game has 2 achievements. There is the “Good at” and “Great at” mini game. Each achievement is tied to your score.

The final mini game felt broken to me. For some reason, the mini game didn’t react on my inputs at certain moments making me loose it. But, that might be because it’s a rhythm-ish style mini game and I’m not that great when it comes to that.

Now the other mini games I will leave as a surprise for if you decide to play the game. They are quite interesting, but for some reason I found myself enjoying the first one the most. In this game the Asteroids one is called Planetoids.

Now, this game isn’t too difficult. Some people will find this game repetitive, but I found it a relaxing experience. It was a blast to play something where I was able to just relax and I didn’t need to take the game too seriously. The game became even more interesting after a few hours of play, it opened up more. But, I won’t spoil that. This is especially true when you think that the game is repetitive. Don’t worry, something unique and fun will happen near the end.

There isn’t a lot of replay value in this game. After you have beaten the game, there isn’t too much different in a 2nd playthrough.

This game is also really cheap. So, if you are looking for an cheap enjoyable game; look no further. Yes, I found the game enjoyable. Especially the charm of the visual presentation. It reminded me a lot of Knights of Pen and Paper. The retro feel while not using true 8bit or 16bit visuals is just pretty to me. The game is colorful and lively and just gives off that relaxing vibe. It also has a lot of charm in my opinion. A charm I can’t get enough off.

The animations might be basic, they were just perfect in this game. Like the sound effects, they fit the theming of the game perfectly. The music, well, it’s something I would like to add to my playlist of relaxing music. I really liked the soundtrack of this game.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game. I think it’s high time for my conclusion and final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The game can be a bit repetitive.
  • Some minor visual issues in full screen mode when booting the game.
  • The shop needs some polishing work.
  • The exploration of the dungeon can be boring.
  • Some UI improvements are needed.

The good:

+ Enjoyable writing.

+ Great music & sound design.

+ Great visual presentation.

+ Fun mini games.

+ ….

Final thoughts:

At certain times, I felt that this game could make for a perfect mobile game. At certain points, I felt like this game isn’t really meant to play in long sessions. This game could be enjoyed more in short sessions.

This game has a lot of potential. There are some flaws that could be polished and patched out but they didn’t stop me from enjoying my time with the game. If you are looking for an enjoyable cheap game, I wouldn’t look any further. This is a great time wasting game.

The biggest issue I felt that this game has is that the game didn’t had enough gameplay. I wish there was a bit more to do, especially during the exploration of the dungeon. Oh well, not every game can be perfect.

I do recommend that you give this game a try and just relax and enjoy the experience. Since, that’s in my opinion the best way to enjoy the game.

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

Score: 70/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: General tips to start collecting

20170228201533-nintendohero.jpegAh, game collecting. It’s one of my biggest hobbies and I love doing it. Thanks to my video game collection, I’m able to talk about so many games on my blog and have so many different experiences. While I’m not the most hardcore of collectors, I do want to share some stories and advice if you want to start collecting retro and modern games. If you have any questions or you have advice yourself, feel free to leave a comment down below, I’ll do my best to help and love to hear the advice of other collectors as well. Also, know that this is some general advice. If you want to start to get really into collecting, then this article can serve as a nice base but videos like this one from MetalRockJesus are a great help as well

You will need space!

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Do realize that you will need some shelving space when you want to start collecting. Personally, I wish I had more room in my room to build more cabinets and shelves to store my collection.

There are various interesting cabinets that game collectors use. If you look at various pictures of people showing off their collection, you get a great general idea of what sort of space you can use for your cabinets.

Something I personally do is, storing my cartridges in plastic containers. This is to avoid dust and other damage to them. I also sort my games per system. So, I have a PSP shelf, a GBA/GBC shelf, Wii (U) shelf… This makes it easier to find a game when I’m looking for them.

I can speak out of the experience of collecting games all my life, you will need a lot of storage space. Better workout a good storage system before you start collecting. Otherwise, you will regret it extremely fast.

My budget & thrifting.

If you are worried about the cost of collecting, well, know that thrift stores and garage sales exist.

Here are some tips at garage sales. I personally trained myself in the ability to spot games by just scanning the stalls. It can really help if you are able to recognize the shape and colour of the system you are collecting for. For example, I know that most PS2 boxes have are blue and/or have the name “Playstation 2” on top.

Another helpful thing to know is that resellers are a plague at garage sales. Here in Belgium, they arrive at the crack of dawn to buy every game they can get their hands on, while meanwhile, another person is setting up their stall.

The best way to do deals is to buy from people who sell from their garage or don’t have a lot of gaming items. Those people really want to get rid of the games and will let them go for a really cheap price. I have bought a ton of games for a really cheap price. For example, I was able to buy GTA 1 (PS1) for 1€ or Outlaws (PC) for 2€.

While you can haggle, don’t overdo it. For example, if they sell PSP games for 3€ a piece, I usually say, what if I buy 5 of them and pay you 12€. Try to check if they are willing to go below their asking price before you continue to haggle.

I ran the risk of looking around for a cheaper version various times at garage sales. Sometimes I get lucky, other times, I got unlucky and saw some nice games get sold before my eyes.

Since I personally collect Gameboy games, I always have a Gameboy Advance in my pocket with me. Do test your games, if possible, before you buy them. To avoid regretting buying a game.

If you are buying PC games and such, check if all discs are there and if they don’t have a lot of scratches. I always check the games for any damage or missing parts before I buy them. I haven’t done this in the past and had missing discs and discs that weren’t able to be read.

Also, keep an eye out on people trying to sell their physical copies of Steam games. Or any other online distribution platform for that matter. Since you need that key to be able to activate the game, but if you buy it in a thrift store or in a garage sale; you have high risks that the game is already activated and the disc will be worthless. Unless you bought it digitally and you want a physical copy to add to your collection.

What do I do when I go thrifting and/or to a garage sale? Well, I take a bag or two with my handhelds (charged of course) to be able to test the games, I bottle of water, my wallet with the budget I want to spend, something to eat and my smartphone. I also try to not wear much game related items on me. To avoid giving away that I know what I’m buying. I have seen too many items that people raise their prices because a gamer needs to pay a more fair price for their games…

I like to leave in the morning to do one round and I do another round around midday or in the afternoon. Why in the morning? The earlier you leave, the more chance you have to be before the resellers. Also, you will have the biggest selection of them all. Yet, you do miss a big advantage of something you have in the afternoon.

In the afternoon, some people are getting tired and sick of standing with their stall at the garage sale and start lowering their prices. Most of them are happy if they are able to leave the garage sale with less stuff then they started. So, take that into consideration.

Index your collection & how to collect?

While I have quite a good memory in which games I have in my collection already, it’s always a great idea to have an index. This way you can easily look up if you already have the game or not.

Do put this index file in an easily editable file somewhere in an online storage. Personally, I have the games I really want to find in a text document stored in my Dropbox. This way I can easily check while I’m walking at the garage sale which games I’m looking for.

Something I still have to do is make a huge list of all the games that are in my collection. Since I actually want to know how many games I own and how many games I own for each platform. It’s something that is on my bucket list for 2018. This will take quite a lot of time since I have big plans in mind.

Besides physical games, I do collect the merchandise. mostly figurines, clothing and various other pieces of merch. I have one big glass cabinet for all my figurines. I actually enjoy from time to time figuring out how to display them.

So, how can you start collecting? Besides going to garage sales and thrift stores, you can look at 2nd hand websites for people selling their games. Sometimes I buy “a lot”. This means that I buy a bundle of games that somebody doesn’t need anymore. In various cases, I buy games that I already own but I use these games to sell again or to trade.

Trading can be a great way to get rid of your duplicates and get new games into your collection. This is why networking is so important to collectors. I’m in a group of retro game collectors on Facebook and I follow various retro game reviewers on Twitter and YouTube. This way I learn from their experience and stories.

Do network! For real, almost all my coworkers know that I collect games and I have gotten so many games from coworkers who cleaned up their attic or their kids didn’t want their games anymore. One time, I actually was called up by a store that somebody brought in a lot of big boxed PC games and this way I was able to buy a game I always wanted to have.

Anyways, that’s all the general advice I want to give for now. I hope you that you learned something about the art of collecting games. While I can tell and teach you a lot more, I’m going to close off the article right here. Maybe I write a follow up article to this one with more advice and some stories of garage sales.

In any case, thank you so much for reading this article and 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, take care and have a great rest of your day!

First Impression: Questr (PC) ~ Smartphone Game

Questr Logo Official homepage

Earlier this year, I played a game on my phone that’s a sort of back and forth texting adventure. In this adventure, you guided a character to the end of the story. But, it didn’t take long before I uninstalled that app on my phone since the mini-games were rigged in my opinion to encourage microtransactions. I still believe that the concept might work really well. So, when I came across the Questr, I was happy to see the concept return in a bit of a different light. Full disclosure, in order to review this game, I got a review code for free from the developers. Don’t worry, you will only find my opinion on this article! So, let’s go questing! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Choosing your party – Tinder Style

20171218224722_1Your goal is to complete quests with a party you put together. Putting together a party is simple, you either swipe left or right. Just like on Tinder. Be careful though, each party member has his/her likes and dislikes. When you pair a house lion up with somebody who hates house lions, your party morale will go down. The lower your party morale, the more difficult completing your quest will be. There is one thing I would like to mention. The button to get new party people for 150 goal is broken. If you click on the card, nothing happens. Thankfully, clicking the heart button does the trick. Maybe something for the next patch?

Before I continue talking about the gameplay, I want to talk about the writing of this game. The writing in this game is pretty well done. It really captures the atmosphere of a group of adventures going on a quest. Expect, that all adventures have the attitude of the youth of today. The writing is full of charm, character and humor, it’s a joy to read and I always wonder how certain characters will react to certain situations.

During your quests, random events will happen. It’s up to you to choose who’s response is the best and will give you the best outcome. In most cases, you are unable to tell and it’s a guessing game. Sometimes this can be really frustrating since you know that another character had the right answer.

You lose party morale when you take the wrong decision and you gain party morale when you take the right decision. Party morale is extremely important since without it, your chances of survival and thereby the completion of the quest will get slim to nonexistent.

Tickets and contracts

20171218231008_1If you think that, that is the only gameplay in this game, you are wrong. At certain spots, the game will give you the option to start with a ticket or a contract. The ticket will only be valid for the current quest and the contract will be effective for the whole path. With these, you can challenge yourself even more and tempt faith even more.

So, when you put your party together and you didn’t get cat fished or rejected, you can start your quest. Together with great visuals. The game has a pretty clean and colorful look. Everything has this nice polished polygon look to it. Something that I didn’t like about the visuals are some events cards. Like the card for a monster and a person doesn’t show at all a person or a monster. This is a real shame since I really like the artwork of the characters.

The other problem I have with the visuals is that sometimes a tutorial bubble can go over some important information. This very rarely happens but when it does, it’s annoying.

The quests you embark on are rather short and sweet. Whenever you have to quit the game in the middle of a quest, beware. You will lose your progress of that quest. But, this brings me to a point the developers could improve about this game.

I think a more clear “continue” option would be nice. To continue you have to start a “new” (notice the bunny ears) game and select the quest you left off to load your game. Now, it’s clear which path you are playing, since it’s right above the path. But, a continue option would be nice.

A nice feature is that you can spend your gold you earn during your quests to upgrades. These upgrades range from better matches during the party gathering process to better bonuses. They are all worth to invest in.

Early Access

20171218234814_1Something pretty surprising is that there is a feature you can stream your game directly to Twitch from the options menu. While I haven’t tested this, I think this is very helpful for people who want to stream this game.

In the same options menu, you have a bug report button and a feedback form. This is a great feature to have in game, since this game is in early access. Now, don’t be alarmed, the developers are working on more content for this game and they are aiming to release it in the near future.

They are trying to release a new content patch in December, but the developers told me this might be pushed back a bit. I hope they are able to succeed and finish the new content patch without a lot of delays.

Now something I wish they updated as well in the new content patch is the addition of more music. So far, I  have heard only one music track in the game. While it not bad, I would love to hear more music in the game.

Speaking about the music, this brings me to the sound design. There aren’t many sound effects in the game, but the once which are, are pretty good and add to the atmosphere of the game. I think it would be more fun if some events have special sound effects. Like when the explosive scroll gets read, you actually hear an explosion. It would add just that bit of additional atmosphere.

Something I think the game lacks too is a back button. What I mean with this is, that when you are on a path and you want to continue a different path, it takes a click too many if you need to go to the options menu and then have a button “main menu” and then click on “Play Game”. It’s a bit too much clicking for a simple task.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. While I haven’t talked about everything, I have left a few things for you to discover like how the gold system works, how the quests are chosen, steam achievements and other things. I really recommend this game to casual players who are looking for something different.

I’m so happy that this game exists. It really fills the hole left by that game that was ruined in my opinion by micro transactions I talked about in the introduction. Currently, this game is 15€ on Steam. I highly recommend that you give this game a try. I enjoyed my time with it. Also, the developers are really open and listen to your feedback. So, if you find a bug, typo or something… Report it. Have a suggestion, go to the Steam forums and suggest it.

I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article 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.

Gamer’s Thoughts: Remakes & Reboots ft. Get Good Gaming

So, today I want to take you on a different journey through my thoughts. Not too long ago, the people over at Get Good Gaming invited me to be on one of their Get Good Talks. A 30 minute long podcast talking about a certain subject. In this episode, we talked about reboots and remakes, a topic I wanted to cover in the past on my blog. Here is the actual podcast. I’m sorry for the connection issues you can hear at my end. 

It has been quite a long time since people heard my voice. But doing this podcast made me do more. So, if there are any YouTubers/podcasters reading this that do podcasts, feel free to contact me. I would be interested in doing some more podcasts.

In addition to that, I would love to expand on this topic in the future. Thanks to my friends, I have a whole list of games I could cover that are remakes or reboots.

Also, if you are interested in videos about gaming, be sure to give the channel from Get Good Gaming a look. They guys behind it are pretty nice people and I wish they get more recognition. So, go ahead and take a look, okay?

Review: Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS) ~ New Generation!

sun-moon-box-art.jpgOfficial website

Well, you might have seen this one coming from a mile off. Because I love playing on my handheld, I was ,of course, going to play Pokémon Sun and Moon. Well, I choose to play Sun. Also, I played on the old-school 3DS.  Because I haven’t bought a New 3DS just yet. I might do that next year when I have a bit more budget. In any case, it’s time to take a look at one of the biggest games from Nintendo this year. Is it any good or is it a failure? Is this game worthy enough to start a whole new generation of Pokémon or should we all shout to Nintendo to stop? Here is my opinion on the matter. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or this article in the comment section. One little note: I have written this review as spoiler free as possible!

Childhood of Pokémon

pokemon_sun_3ds_screenshots_2.jpgI have been playing almost every Pokémon game from the very first Pokémon games. I owe a lot to the Pokémon series.But, let’s not go into a whole personal story about how this series influenced my life. That story is for another time. Speaking about stories, usually, the story in these kinds of Pokémon games is pretty generic.

The start of this game is almost the same as all the other Pokémon games. You move to a new place and you meet the Professor of that area. He gives you your first Pokémon and you go on a quest. But it doesn’t take long before new and fresh story ideas get introduces.

To avoid spoilers, I’m not going in-depth about the story of this game. Honestly, I think that the story could be been written better. I can’t put my finger on why, but the story didn’t pull me in like other games can. I have a theory, though. This game tried to do something new with the Pokémon-francishe. They tried to stay away from the usual “8 badges, defeat evil team, capture legendary and defeat elite four” story. Yet, various story elements make a return.

I think that the story would have been better if some main characters referenced the older games. It would have been interesting if the Professor said: “Gyms, we don’t have that here. Here, you do various trails to earn Z-Crystals.”  Something I truly like in the writing is that it’s variable. The reactions after a big battle can differ if you have used something or not. Like characters can get impressed if you defeat them without using any Z-Move.

But that’s enough talk about the story. Since otherwise I might go into spoiler territory. Let’s keep it at: “It’s a decent story, but could have been polished a bit more.”

The visuals of this game are pretty good on the New3DS. I have seen various people on the train playing the game but the visuals on the old 3DS take a pretty big hit. I honestly think that some parts of the game look a generation behind on the old 3DS. If you want the best visual experience, I think it would be for the best that you play this game on the New 3DS.

The visual presentation of this game is pretty well done. Everything looks pretty colorful and pops out. It’s clear that there has been put a lot of care into the visuals. That brings me to another reason why I recommend to play this game on the New 3DS. The framerate. I’m under the impression that the game sometimes slows down more on the old 3DS systems then on the New 3DS systems. I had several times where I had to wait before Pokémon started attacking each other.

So, I’m really glad Nintendo didn’t implement any 3D in this game! Otherwise, this game would go in the single framerate digits. Which it sometimes comes pretty close too. Especailly in double battles for me.

Just a bit too much…

cave

This game adds a lot of new mechanics. It also upgrades some old mechanics to create a whole new experience. The clothing customization is back from Pokémon X and Y, and it’s still as expensive as in those games. The Pokémon Riding mechanic is also back, but now with a twist. You can page Pokémon in. These replace the HM’s from the previous games. Yes, HM’s aren’t in this game anymore. And no HM returns as a TM, so these moves can’t be learned in this game.

In this game, you can also have that Pokémon petting minigame and you have a Festival Plaza you manage. You can also take pictures from hidden Pokémon and receive likes. You can maintain an island in Poké Pelago and fight in a Battle Royale. So, with all these distractions, don’t forget you have the main story to complete. Oh, and let’s not forget that Pokémon can call for backup during battles. (If only you can bring in a second Pokémon at that stage…)

There is so much to do in this game, which is a positive in my book. While I can understand that it’s overwhelming for some people, where some mechanics get glanced over, but I think it’s handled pretty well in this game. The only nitpick I have is that the new features and mechanics are introduced too fast. You barely learned about the “picture taking” mechanic and ten minutes later, you learn how Pokémon Rides work. It can become a bit too much sometimes…

Which brings me to another point. In my honest opinion, there is sometimes just too many animations in the battles. Opening doors now require you to press “A”. You go into an animation to open the door, the screen goes to black and it shows you entering the building while the screen fades back in. But that isn’t the worst of it.

I wish they added a feature where you can easily skip the “Z-moves”. I stopped using the Z-moves since they take way too long to play. Here is an idea, what if after you have seen the animation one time, you can skip it the upcoming times.

But what bugs me the most is that when you capture a Pokémon. The amount of menus and visual flair you get is interesting and all, but sometimes I’m frantically pressing “A” to try and get back into the action.

Some familiar features also get a downgrade. The new fishing feature is lame in my opinion. You can only fish at a few spots. And sadly enough, some features like a Safari Zone and triple battles are absent from this game. Also, double battles are barely present in this game. Also, I haven’t encountered any hordes in this game.

Newcomer friendly

46170df92ed0954db8d2c0e943f3d60ce6177723_hq

So, I’m going to come out and say it. This game isn’t too challenging. I was able to get into the end-game without being defeated once. Sometimes there is no challenge. Once or twice, a fight got pretty dicey since I forgot to heal my Pokémon. Something I dislike a whole lot is that most trainers you meet in the routes don’t have more than three Pokémon. Not even the bosses. That’s such a shame. It’s improved when compared to the previous games (OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire) but not enough.

This could have been easily fixed. Introduce difficulty modes in Pokémon. One for newcomers to learn the mechanics of the game and enjoy the games like it’s now and one for long time players like myself were everything is more difficult.

The game has too much handholding in my opinion. These things wouldn’t happen in the harder difficulties too.

One feature I love a whole lot is that now you get the result of an attack before you do it. So, you don’t have to remember which attack is effective to which Pokémon. The catch here is that you had to do the attack at least once against that opponent. So, when you do attack X to Pokémon X… you won’t see the results if you use attack X on Pokémon Y. Unless you have used attack X on Pokémon Y.

The controls in this game are pretty great. Apart from some minor menu issues, I never had any problems with them. Speaking of the menus, I love how you can choose the order of the buttons yourself. This way I can finally choose in which order I want my buttons. I love customization like this! If only the “B” button worked every time I pressed it. Yes, sometimes the “B” button didn’t cancel an option, it rather didn’t do a single thing.

The music and sound design in this game is amazing. While it’s not the best soundtrack in a Pokémon game, in my opinion, it’s one of the better ones. The sound design is pretty well done. I love the ambient noise in caves. You can sometimes hear Pokémon chirping in the background. It adds so much atmosphere to the game.

 So, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to wrap this article up.

Final thoughts

The negative:

-The pacing of the new features could have been better.

-The game is too easy. A harder difficulty mode would have been welcome.

-Visuals aren’t that good on older 3DS models.

-Slowdowns on older 3DS models.

-So things would have too much visual fluff.

-Some animations should be made skippable or run faster.

-Sometimes the game is too cutscene heavy.

The positive:

+ Great visuals (on newer models)

+ Great soundtrack and sound design.

+ The story is decent. And there is finally a bit more story focus! Also, different actions mean different reactions.

+ There is a lot to do in this game, so this game is pretty lengthy.

+ …

Final verdict:

I’m somehow certain that this is an unpopular opinion but here I go… I think that this game is a step in the right direction for Pokémon games but there is so much missed potential. The game tries to please everyone. It adds so many new features to please longtime players but they make the game easy and accessible for newcomers.

The game could have been so much better if there was more content aimed towards the long time fans. Since due to the easy difficulty, this game is over pretty quickly.

Also, I think I’m going to buy a New3DS to play this game again in better visuals and have better performance. Since that’s something that really brought the game down for me.

I recommend this game to anybody who loves Nintendo, Pokémon and 3DS games. And to a lot of other people of course too, since it brings old and new fans together. And that’s something that makes me overlook a lot of the shortcomings of this game.

The game is great, but not perfect. The game could have used some more polish, but what we got is an amazing fun time and a great way to end the year. I’m so looking forward to what the Nintendo Switch port will bring.

So, that was everything I wanted to say about this game. Thank you for reading this review 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 on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Score: 80/100

Award: One of the best gaming blogs on the internet (According to FeedSpot)

video-game-coverSo, something surprising happened this week. I got a mail from a website that I have been put on a list. I was selected for the “Top 100 best gaming blogs on the planet” list that has been written by the people over at FeedSpot. Here is a link to the article. I also got a badge to display on my blog at the side. So, yeah. This is something special.

The honor

First of all, I want to thank the people over at FeedSpot for putting me on this list. Honestly, my placement on the list doesn’t matter to me that much, it’s the fact that I’m on the list. I’m number 96. While I wrote the most content for this blog, I have to give a small bit of credit to LpGardian and MrLiamMills for the articles they wrote on my blog.

Writing is in the first place a hobby of mine. But I will talk more about that later. It just feels amazing that I get recognised by somebody. It’s difficult to describe how this feels. But one thing is for certain, I have to continue to write and provide the best content for you guys (and girls) that I can write.

Me & blogging

capture

So, I might have talked about this in an earlier article… But the reason why I blog is because I want to share my experiences in my gaming and collecting life with the internet. In the past, I was toying around with the idea to expand my blog to also talk about other things. Things like movies, IT-stuff, anime and so much more.

But I decided against the idea. I mostly wanted to continue and write a gaming diary. Because gaming is a big hobby of mine. Hrm, maybe it’s a good idea that I talk a little bit about my blogging history.

My blogging story starts about, give or take, 5 and a half years ago. After a few other projects, I decided to start creating my own website. Where I have a place to talk about things and share it with my family and friends and also with the world. At first, I created a Dutch blog. After a month or two, I was watching a game-news show on TV. It was around the time that the 3DS was presented at E3. I highly disagree with some statements of the hosts and I wrote a whole article about it.

It didn’t take long before the hosts actually had seen the article. One of the hosts actually wrote a whole comment on that article and invited me in the studio. Sadly enough, I had to prepare for exams, so I wasn’t able to go. But I have the comment and the article on one of my hard drives. So, when I watched the next day to the show, they mentioned my article. Then, I saw a huge traffic spike.

Since then, I have continued blogging. After two years, I decided to remove the Dutch blog and go on a small hiatus. Yet, I started to miss blogging about games. When I was playing games, I kept thinking on what I would say in a review. So, on the 20th of May 2013, right after I finished the new Tomb Raider game; I decided to write a review for it. I logged in to my WordPress account and started writing.

After some time passed, I got in contact with LpGardian. He is the owner of ButtonSmashers. But, that’s a story for another day. Maybe in one of his podcasts. Who knows?

So, that’s my blogging history. Well, in a very short version. Since I could tell so many more stories. While I don’t have a big following, the fact people follow my blog and read my content makes me happy. I enjoy writing these articles. I enjoy playing these games and then writing an article about them to talk about my opinions. I’m quite happy with the growth my blog has made over the past three years now. I’m quite curious what the future will bring. I’m planning to continue to write new articles about games I have played or my opinion on something in the gaming industry.

Anyways, here is the actual award:

But, before this article goes on for too long. I want to thank everybody who has supported me or my blog. Thank you for reading, linking to my articles, talking about my articles, commenting, replying to my tweets… Thank you guys and girls for everything. And don’t worry, I will continue to write articles.

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

First Impression: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) ~ I’m An Angel!

dq_ix_esrb_dsLink to Wikipedia entry

Lately, I’m playing a lot on my old Nintendo DS. The game that I’m playing is Dragon Quest IX. I have played this game right when it came out, but then I stopped because other games got my interest. I played this game right around when I started playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. In any case, this article will contain mostly my current opinion of the game. I’m currently 10 hours into the game. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article.

Slow start

Dragon Quest IX 2In this game, you play as a character you design and make yourself. Your character is a guardian angel of Angel Falls. At the start of the game, you get a small combat tutorial and introduction to the world.

Everything was peaceful until suddenly disaster strikes. Something happens in the sky palace and you fall down to the world and lose your halo and wings. You fall in the town of, you guessed it, Angel Falls.

After those events, a lot happens. The plot only thickens and gets quite interesting. Yet, the only negative is that the start is quite slow. I was 2-3 hours in before the main quest started.

The writing is very well done. The characters are memorable. While I noticed some minor spelling mistakes here and there, I didn’t mind them too much.

The story feels episodic. When you finish one quest, another path opens and you go to another village to go on a new quest. This works very well in this game. This game is pretty long. If you want to beat the main story, you will have to put in around 50 hours. So, I’m looking forward to the stories I still have to play.

In any case, enough talking about the story. The difficulty of this game is almost a negative in my opinion. If you have read my blog before, you might know that I don’t like grinding for levels that much. It gives the impression that the game is longer then it actually is. This game contains some grinding, but it isn’t too bad. But, the grinding gets old real fast for me.

Buy and wear this shield

dragonquest9_218826In this game, there is something that really every RPG should do. When you buy new equipment, you see your character visually change. Not only in battle, but also in the overworld. This is a great touch, since it gives you the feeling of progression and growth of your characters. I can understand that this could be annoying to some people, since they prefer everything to look a certain way. But I honestly like it.

Visually, the characters and enemies look very well designed. Sadly enough, this RPG suffers from what I call the “multiple paint bucket syndrome”. There are various recoloring of enemies to make new enemies.

While I can understand that it’s hard to always make new enemies for each new area, I believe there are other methods. If you give the recolored version some minor visual changes like make them longer, shorter, wider, bulkier… That would go a long way.

Or you use the same enemy, but you buff them up. Wait, scrap that. Game design wise, this wouldn’t be the best solution. Since that could confuse a lot of players.

So, we were talking about the visuals of this game. The world design is something that is deserves praise. Every area has charm and feels alive. The animation is stellar. In short, I really love the presentation of this game.

One thing to note is that in some battles, I experienced some frame drops. This happened mostly when there were a lot of graphic heavy attacks in a row. Outside of battles, I rarely got slowdowns or frame drops.

You have two options in the control department. You can either use the touch screen for everything or you can use the buttons. Both control schemes work every well. The only feature you miss in the touch screen controls is the ability to swing around the camera a little bit in the overworld. But I rarely use it, so I don’t mind it that much.

This game is a full blood RPG and it has a big world for you to explore and adventure in. A big plus in this game is that you can see the monsters running around on the overworld. This makes it a lot easier when you need a certain item drop or when you need to defeat a certain enemy to complete your monster index.

You can design your own party in this game. You can tweak your party to your heart’s and playstyle’s content. Take your perfect party in to battle!

I can only say one negative thing about the battles. If they would added a health bar for the enemies, that would be amazing. I found it very frustrating that I had to hope that a boss died when I was at low health. It would be very handy to change your tactics.

There is just too much

dragonquestIXIn this game, there are also side quests. I haven’t done many side quests, so I won’t go in-depth. But you can get a quest from a character when a blue speech bubble appears above their head. Most quests I encountered are fetch quests.

But that is just one thing of many things that can entertain you in this game. You can also do alchemy, complete your monster guide or collect party tricks. There is a lot to do in this game. According to some websites, to 100% complete this game, you would have to devote months to this game. According to various sources, you would have to spend over 770 hours. That’s overkill in my opinion. There is just too much to do in this game. But the positive about is that there is always something to do in this game. You shouldn’t get bored with this game if you love playing RPG’s.

The music and sound design in this game is good. It could have been better if there were two or three more tracks in-battle. Since always hearing the same battle music gets a bit old. It’s still a great track, but I wished I heard some other battle music in normal battles from time to time.

In this game, you can only save in churches. You can quick save, but the quick save gets deleted as soon as you restart the game. I don’t know what happens if you quick save and then don’t save. Honestly, I don’t feel like finding that out. One thing, there is only one save slot.

This game offers multiplayer. But, I’m not going to talk about that since I haven’t played this game in multiplayer. And without experience, it would be hardly fair to talk about it.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Besides, if I forgot certain things, I will talk about those if I ever review this game. So, it’s time to wrap up this article.

This game is a very fun game. It’s one of the best RPG’s out there on the Nintendo DS. It does some things that every RPG should do but it also does some things that shouldn’t be in every RPG.

I highly recommend this game if you are looking for a challenge, a big adventure and/or an interesting story. But be prepared to put a lot of hours into this game.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog. But until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

First Impression: Ratchet & Clank (PS2) ~ The First One

RachetandClankOriginalPS2Cover.jpgWikipedia entry

Today I want to talk about a game I started playing in my holidays on the PS2. The name is Ratchet & Clank and I’m playing it on PS2. I realize that with the recently released movie, there is a new game on PS4. But I haven’t seen the movie (yet), I don’t have a PS4 and I don’t own the PS4 game either. So yeah. In any case, it’s time to take a look at Ratchet & Clank on the PS2. A game I bought at a garage sale. At that same garage sale, I also bought the third game in the series. Sadly enough, I was unable to buy the second one. But, that game is on my “to look out for” list. And I’m quite sure I’ll find it in the near future. In any case, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about Ratchet and Clank. A game I haven’t finished … yet. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game. 

The story of sci-fi

 If you read my blog from or when you know me personally, you might know that I’m a big fan of stories in my games. While I do enjoy the characters and the jokes that are thrown around, I feel that the story is taking a backseat to the gameplay. Honestly, the story doesn’t 100% click with me. I think the biggest problem is that the story doesn’t really help build the world and atmosphere.

When I play sci-fi games, I want the story maxresdefaultto explain how certain things work. But so far, nothing is really explained enough in-depth. Yet, there is some techno-jargon that gets thrown around. Take for example an “infobot”. From what I can gather, it’s a sort of advertisement billboard, but I have seen it play recordings of people’s video calls. And what didn’t help is the fact that some infobots have coordinates of where some people are. So, what’s the purpose of an infobot? That left me very confused.

So yeah, while I do enjoy the interaction with the characters and the actual plot of the game, I feel that there is so much lost potential with the story. I felt that the focus was too much on the characters and not enough on the world that they created.

The voice acting of this game helps to bring the characters alive. The jokes of a naive robot Clank work so well in the robot voice. It feels real and genuine.

So, in conclusion about the story, I’m in the middle. Like I said earlier, I do like it, but I feel that they could have gone more in-depth with it. Also, some characters are underused. Like the Captian Qwark figure. He looks like an extremely popular marketing thing, but I have only seen him on one island. So yeah.

Two or more ways to objectives

ratchet_clank_ps2-620x413It surprises me how I managed to fall in love with the gameplay of this game. Usually, I play adventure games like Broken Sword and Monkey Island. I even said in some articles that I don’t like platformers. But this game is something really different. In this game, you have to travel to various planets to finish missions.

But here is the thing. On two planets, I managed to miss secondary pathways that lead to other objectives. While this could lead to frustrating “find the right way” gameplay, I love that the map shows in yellow the places you have visited already. Too bad that it also shows a “?” mark exactly where a trigger for an objective is.

I have one problem with the gameplay that made me put the game down for a while. That are the respawn points. When you fail a jump or die, you sometimes respawn way too far. One time I was on the other side of the planet., and I misjudged a jump. When I respawned, I was back at the start, which was on the other side of the planet.

Also, I find it an interesting mechanic that the boxes and enemies only respawn when you leave the planet. Apart from one exception though and that is when you have a mission where you need to kill for example all sand sharks.

Maybe it might be just me, but the hit detection is sometimes a bit strange. I have seen several times where I was sure I was hit but didn’t lose health. A minor thing I would have changed is that I would have made the health always visible. There have been moments where I though I had more or less life and misjudged a situation. But then again, you can see it easily when you press a button.

The controls of this game are really good. The only thing I felt could use some polish was the grabbing of platforms. That didn’t always work for me. What I really liked is that this game didn’t force the tutorial on me. When you get a new gadget or a new item to play around with, the game briefly explains how it works and you can read it again in the menu. Also, you are able to shut off the help feature completely. I haven’t tested if the help section then still updates or what happens if you use a weapon where the explanation hasn’t popped up for it yet.

Something that would have improved this game is a sort of indication from where you are hit. I felt cheated when I died because an enemy was attacking me from behind. Speaking of which, some enemies are quite stupid. When you aren’t in range, you can easily kill them with bombs and not having them chase you.

The manual aiming of the special weapons is a big issue for me. I think I’m too spoiled by playing games with a mouse or a Wii Remote. It’s really clunky on a controller. Thankfully, there is a sort of auto-aim feature that works really well.

A big plus in this game is that you are free to explore the game at your own pace. Sometimes you have two different objectives and you choose on which one you focus first.

Planet Life 

the-ratchet-clank-trilogy-playstation-3-ps3-1337694400-011The sound design and the music are pretty decent. I would have changed one thing around to make it a bit better.

I would have given the enemies a bit more sound effects. Now, they can sometimes be soulless. It feels like they don’t have a personality. What I mean here is that, in other games you can easily hear if the enemy is a weak or a strong enemy. That isn’t too clear in this game.

The soundtrack of this game is really fun to listen too. While I feel that the soundtrack doesn’t always fit the world or presentation like a glove, it gets the job done pretty well and it’s a joy to listen too from time to time.

Speaking about the presentation, that’s something I really have to praise this game. I feel that the level design is extremely well done. From what I have seen so far, this game provides moments of action and then moments of rest. This game is a platformer at hart, but it changes things up here and there with some mini-games.

Graphically, this world aged pretty well in my opinion. I love how some things are animated in the background and how ships fly around while you are exploring the world. It makes the world come alive that much more.

I think I have everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I want to talk about, but I’m going to leave them for the review. When I have to give my opinion on this game: it’s a really good game but it lacks some polish. It’s an amazing platformer that made me come back for more several times.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article and until then… Have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Europa Universalis IV (PC ~ Steam) – Thank you Mizari.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedLink to the official website

For the people who read my blog often, they might know that one of my best friends is Mizari. I often call him MiseryLC or anything among those lines. One of his favorite games is Europe Universalis IV. Recently I decided to give it a try with him myself. The gameplay and the genre looked interesting to me, so I bought it while it was on sale. After playing almost 40 hours in about a week or so, I think it’s safe to say that I’m having quite a lot of fun! So, shall we take a look at this game and what first impressions it left on me? The issue is, in order to write a review for a game, I have to beat it. While you can “beat” this game, you can restart it with and play it in another way. So, I think I’ll write a review after I played around 150+ hours of this game. So, that said, it’s time to start talking about this game, and as usual, feel free to leave a comment on the game and or the content of this article. 

Age of Empires?

2015-03-09_00001

When it comes to games where you need to build your own empire(s), I prefer the gameplay of Age of Empires and Age of Mythology. So, when I first started to play this game, I was quite confused. I might have looked over the tutorial but I haven’t seen one. Thankfully, Mizari is showing me the ropes. It’s quite handy to have a friend to play this game with.

When you start to get the hang of the game, it gets quite interesting. There isn’t any story in the game as far as I have noticed, since it’s one that you can make yourself. In our multiplayer sessions I play as Russia and he plays as the Ottomans. I don’t think that the Russians and the Ottomans ever formed a friendship.

 Numbers game.

2015-03-08_00001At first, I thought that most of this game would be a number game where higher stats would mean a better country. Let me tell you that it isn’t the case. Your goal is not only to manage a country but also you need to manage the relationships with other countries and such. When you don’t improve it at frequent intervals, you could get into trouble.

In my early multiplayer sessions, I regularly got attacked by other countries. I wasn’t that careful in managing my military points so I got attacked. But when countries that were afraid of MiseryLC’s empire also started attacking me, all I had to do was improve the relationship with his country and the attacks stopped. This makes it more then just a numbers game. It gives a realistic vibe to the game where time is just indicated by numbers.

The big issue is, that when you are just a beginning player there is way too much to play with. I found the tutorial when I wrote this part of the article, and only seeing three lessons, made me facepalm. The depth of this game, you can’t really explain that in three sessions. Well, you could but you might risk that you overflow the new player with too much information at once.

If you want to start playing this game, I highly recommend that you first play the game with a sort of guide. Don’t play in IronMan mode, since you can’t “roll back” choices. Speaking about that, there is one thing that is disappointing to me. You can only unlock achievements in IronMan mode. I think it would be better otherwise. I might be looking over a logical reason for why it’s ‘Ironman only’… but I hope that isn’t the case.

Nitpicking

2015-03-08_00002

This game updates a lot, which can be annoying sometimes. During my play sessions I had a few nitpicks. Recently, MiseryLC and I started a new game where we would play content from the quite recently released DLC “El Diablo”. It’s kind of neat that somebody who doesn’t own the DLC is able to play the game and it’s content then as well. But you play with a very unstable game then. My game crashed 3-4 times in 20-ish minutes.

I was able to fix it by buying the DLC myself and then play with him. While there is a lot of DLC for this game, various ones are simply cosmetic. Now that I think of it, a handful are just music packs.

Talking about that, the music for this game is outstanding. In my previous (music) article I actually talked about a track that I really liked. But often, I had moments where my country was in war and relaxing music was playing. This actually took me out of the experience. But a neat kind of hidden feature is that when you hover over the date, the title of the song actually is shown.

So, this game is amazingly polished and I already lost various hours to it. I plan to play it for even more and probably write a more in-depth review of game. But there is so much to cover, the length of my usual “first impression” articles don’t quite cut it.

Apart from some irritating bugs, that sometimes get patched a few hours after they have been found, and some odd things here and there… The game is quite fun. Also, the search option to look for provinces is such a god send. Without it, I would had more rebels in my country then there are M&M’s in a M&M bag.

Anyways, I think I have said most of the things I wanted to talk about this game. I hope you enjoyed my first look at this game and if you are interested in the game, I advise you to not buy it with the DLC included. Since those can add some new gameplay layers that might make the already quite overwhelming game even more overwhelming. But once you get used to how the game plays, the hours can fly by really quickly. Just giving you that warning.

Review #027: Tomodachi Life (3DS) ~ Compare That Review

TomodachiLifeOfficial site – Forum review

Note: this review is longer then my usual ones. 

A while back, I was planning to take a break with my blog. A hiatus as it were. I would use the reviews the amazing people of Arpegi wrote and give them a nice place on my blog. Yet, it has never come to that. Yet, I have not forgotten about it. I had too much fun writing my article about Bravely Default and comparing it to the opinion of my friends over at GamersHive. Now, I’m going to compare my opinion of this game with Inu’s. So, I’ll be quoting her review through-out this review. While I haven’t beaten this game, I think I’m allowed to review this game. Why? Since you can’t really beat it. There is always something you can do. It’s like a sandbox game. Agreed, I don’t own this game for too long yet. Actually, I own it for 3 days now. But by then, you have seen most of the game. So, I hope you can understand why this isn’t going to be a first impression. Don’t worry, I played this game for over 10 hours. So, I think that’s a solid base to review it too. Anyways, time to get reviewing. Feel free to leave a comment on the article and or the game. And if you really liked it, consider making an account on our forums so you can talk to us. (Ps: all screenshots I use, are the screenshots made by Inu. They are amazing Inu) 

Is that me?

WoASG3QWhile Inu was writing her review of this game, she noticed that my Mii was on the box-art. It’s true. The Mii eating a hamburger next to “Life” looks a whole lot like my Mii. I don’t think I should look for a reason behind this, since I think it’s nothing more then a pure coincidence.

Story

Anyways, that said, let’s go on with the review. First section is the story. Yeah, the story. So, about the story…

Though there’s not much to the game in terms of backstory, there is one thing. You own an island.

– Inu

Thanks Inu. That’s exactly it. In this game you own an island. Compare the idea to a game like Animal Crossing. In that game you own a town. And that’s it for the story. You create the rest of the story yourself.

Now, the big difference with Animal Crossing and Tomodachi Life is control. You are more of a observer then a major in this game. You can control some things like if two Mii’s should start a friendship or not, what they eat or where their room is. But that’s really it.

So, in terms of story, Inu said it perfectly. She said, and I quote:

You made a resident that looks like yourself. You can make more residents. Everyone calls you <your Mii’s nickname>’s look-alike. Fun is to be had. But seriously, most of the “story” comes from just watching the Miis interact with each other and have fun. They make friends, go on dates, get married, play with the things you give them…and maybe, someday, have children of their own.

– Inu

Gameplay

gEr5xCqHonestly, this is part Sims, part Animal Crossing, part ‘sit and watch to see what they do’. A lot of the fun just comes from watching them.

– Inu

So, how to describe this game? Honestly, I would describe it more as a sort of Island Simulator – Nintendo Edition. This game is not for everybody. Like Goat Simulator, this game is only for you if it looks interesting to you. If it looks boring with reading reviews or looking at video’s, don’t buy it. You won’t have much fun with it.

I enjoy looking at how my actions and suggestions to the problems of my Mii’s influence my inhabitants. Now, is there more you can do? Well, honestly, I feel like this game has a solid foundation but didn’t build further.

There is quite a lot you can influence, but I feel that this game is lacking quite a lot. What is lacking you might ask? First, the fact that kids go on a part time job. How crazy is that? Well, that’s not really a lack of something, but it’s a complaint at least.

So, this game got a day 1 patch. And yet, I was able to find a strange bug in the game. After a few minutes of play, I saw that my clock was running a minute or two behind. So, I adjusted my clock in-game and continued playing. When I closed my 3DS, I noticed that my whole system clock was messed up. It was suddenly 1st January 2005. And the game adapted that.

To add to the confusion, the game didn’t like me changing the time. And here who go at a strong point of this game. You can’t simply cheat with time in this game. You will get punished. From not receiving new items to not having donations. That’s a great addition to the game.

A great feature in this game is how there is no real “dead time”. What I mean here is not that there aren’t any moments there is nothing to do with your Mii’s… rather, there is no time in the day where every Mii is sleeping OR where every shop is closed. Thank you Nintendo, this made the game trip friendly. This way you don’t have to wait to play this game when you are travelling by car to somewhere.

Lacking?

XIpVQqLSo, first of all, the treasures. It’s nothing really more then a way to earn money. You simply sell all your treasures at the pawn shop and done, you have a ton more money. Come on Nintendo! This is really lame. At least in Animal Crossing you have a museum!

A minor complaint is that you can’t use the down arrow to go your max amount of items in the pawn shop. Oh well, that’s a small annoyance.

Another thing that I really find lacking is in the controls. The controls aren’t very good.

The game controls about as fantastically as you can expect from Nintendo. Since the game is mostly menus, there’s not much you can screw up, though. They use the gyrowhatsit in the 3DS perfectly, too.

– Inu

Like I said earlier, I disagree Inu. The big issue here is that there is no button to take a screenshot of both screens. This makes you having to make a screenshot of the top screen and the bottom screen just seconds after each other and hope they match up. While this shouldn’t be that big of an issue, it still is an annoyance.

Also, I wish you could control the menu’s with the buttons. Yup, without a stylus, you’re pretty much screwed. Or you don’t mind pressing your touch screen with your fingers. There are some menu’s you can use with the buttons, but not everything. But in terms of the menu’s there is one huge issue. If you made a mistake, eg: giving the wrong present to a Mii, you can’t revert it. That’s a big annoyance.

Quickly about the rest

kPnJHnMOkay, before I end off this review, I want to quickly talk about the other things in this game. I can’t talk about the difficulty and the length since that’s not playing a major part in this game.

The game is pretty cute. The synthesizer voices add a lot of character to the Mii’s on your island. The graphics are quite nice too. But the strong point here is the animation. The Mii’s act just like a real person would react. And I admit, I believed once or twice that this were real people.

Now, the music is pretty basic. Don’t get me wrong, the music is quite well made but I have heard Nintendo do a lot better with it’s music. It’s just that this music isn’t memorable at all. It’s not as catchy as their other tunes.

Anyways, I think it’s time for the summary.

Summary

The bad:

– The music could have been better. More catchy.

– Gameplay, it’s a bit lacking… (See positives for the rest of this sentence)

– Issues with the time settings.

– Some more use of the buttons would made the controls perfect.

The good:

+ … but what you get is really addicting.

+ Amazing atmosphere. You really feel that you’re living on an island.

+ A build in screenshot feature!

+ …

Closing thoughts: 

Inu and many others give this game a high to a near perfect score. Now, I find this a bit too high. This game isn’t a bad game, far from it! But this game lacks depth. I wish I could change the music of the lyrics of the Mii’s singing or see the pets run around while actually interacting with the Mii’s. (Once you enter their room, the pets disappear in thin air.)

We got a solid game by Nintendo, but I think they could have done more with it then what got got. Maybe they are making a sequel already with more things to do and more to explore and experience. I’m crossing my fingers at least.

Notice how I haven’t talked too much in depth about this game in this review. This is because I want some things for you guys to find and experience without being spoiled here on my blog.

Anyways, this is the end of the review. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this one. I really loved writing this one. I hope to see you another time here on my blog. Until then!

Score: 70 / 100

First Impression: TimeShift (PC – Steam) ~ Rewind

TimeShift_coverartWikipedia link

If I only was just a bit more to the left, I could have survived. That’s what I sometimes think while playing a first person shooter. And then Time Shift shows up in the Steam Store. I remember that I had a poster of it in my room. When I saw it, I was thinking about how the game could play. Shaping levels inside my head and drawing them. Anyways, I played the game and I’m still playing it here and there. Let me say, it’s a special experience. The people who know me, know that I barely play any shooters. But this is worthy of an exception. But is it a perfect game? Well, I’ll explain my first impressions in this article. Feel free to leave a comment on the content of the article and or the game. Thanks in advance. 

Scoring badly?

When I was researching additional facts for this game, I came across several reviews. Now, since I haven’t finished the game, I can’t review it. Yet, it surprises me that there are people giving this game mediocre points and high points. I didn’t read them but I think I know from where they are coming from.

galeria_galeria_duze_182426125I usually start my article with talking about the story. Now, this story asks a lot of the player. It’s quite possible that later in the game, the story gets explained in more detail but at the start… The story is just all over the place.

After more careful examination of the story, I came to a conclusion. It’s generic until the point I played. The issue is that somebody altered the future and it’s your job to fix it. At least, that’s what I make from it. How do I know? I had to piece those things together myself.

This actually is a reason why I don’t play the game each time I have the chance. The game doesn’t pull me in like other games can. If it starts to make sense, I will talk about it in my review.

Is that a bad thing? Well, yes and no. It’s a problem because it doesn’t draw you in as much as other shooters do. But it isn’t a problem because the player is allowed to make up the story a bit by themselves.

Slow-motion

timeshift-screen-1Did you ever wanted to play with the bullet time of the matrix? Well, now is your chance. At the surface, TimeShift looks like your everyday futuristic shooter. What sets this game apart is that you can play with time.

As long as the blue bar has energy left, you can either pause, rewind or go in slow-mo mode. And the enemies behave as they would if such technology existed. You see the enemies die in slow-motion or they don’t move an inch when you shoot them when you paused.

Your powers are actually essential to survive. And here I have another complaint. The AI of the enemies is not bad but there are parts where you can jump down to get cover in a sewer pipe without the enemies following you.

Now, that’s cheap. This way you can recharge your powers and as soon as you need to “regen” you powers, you can go hide again. Maybe that’s different on the higher difficulty settings but hey, I’m no pro shooter gamer.

Now, I advise you to mess around with the settings so that they fit your play style. Not that there is anything wrong with the standard control layout, but I’m a gamer who uses the arrows instead of the letters to move. I’m weird like that.

The game looks extremely well made. While I was afraid that my laptop wouldn’t be able to handle the game, I was proven wrong after I updated my graphical drivers. The game looks amazing to run around in and to play. I love the design of the places. Each and every new area they throw at me feels polished and ready for a big fight.

More stuff

galeria_galeria_duze_182421828Now, the enemies can call for help. While I haven’t seen reinforcements arrive ever, I might haven’t played the game for long enough. That brings me to the sound design. That is a strong point in this game. When I’m playing with my headset, this game sounds amazing. I feel like I’m right in a real war zone.

With the great graphics and the good sound design, this game is really intense to play. I actually shouted a few curse words because I was drawn into the gameplay so much.

And I think that’s the strong point of this game. The gameplay. It’s really well made. While the story isn’t all that good, the gameplay is where it’s at.

Now, the music isn’t helping. It isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. I don’t remember many tracks of TimeShift. I’m crossing my fingers that this game gives me better music that I might keep listing to after beating the game.

This game has a “Field Of View” slider. And I’m so glad that they have that. Because I decreased my FOV, my laptop runs this game with a rather nice frame rate.

A big advantage of this game is that you can buy it for a rather low price on Steam. It’s only 15€. That’s quite a low price for a gem like this.

Now, this first impression might be tad bit shorter then the others, but I haven’t played it too much yet. I wish I had more time. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If I ever finish this game, I’ll surely follow this article up with a review.

Rant #003: Tutorials ~ The games that hold your hand.

ds-game-reviewsIt’s extremely lovely how games now explain the things in game. Sadly enough you don’t have to look at the manual anymore. For that manuals start to disappear. As a game collector, this makes me sad. But there is one thing that makes me sad too. That’s how games now a days have tutorials. Even if the battle system is extremely simple, the developers feel like explaining the game mechanics to you. Is this needed? Each time you play the game? Well, I don’t think so. Game tutorials are overrated, big time. I’m not against them, but they are certainty overstaying their welcome now.

Want to play the game, here I will help you.

I was talking with a friend of mine over Skype earlier and I said that I was giving Call Of Duty a shot. (ha, bad pun.) And he said that past CoD 5 it isn’t worth a play, since the game actually “holds your hand”.

What I mean with this is that you barely have any challenge in trying. The button you need to press flashes on the screen way on beforehand and finishing the game is just as easy as pressing the button.

Don’t confuse these with quick time events. I actually kinda like quick time events, as long as they aren’t overdone in a game. Tomb Raider has the action broken up with quick time events.

A game that’s good with it’s tutorial is Devil May Cry 4. The first part is you having a tutorial of the basics, to refresh and check if your controls are properly set, and after that it’s up to you to play the game. When you get a new ability, the instructions flash on screen once and then it’s up to you to remember them.

That’s the big problem with games that flash the buttons on screen. Back in the day, I knew where the A and B buttons where on the gameboy. But now I don’t know where the buttons are located on my PSP, since the button is flashed on the screen and I quickly peek over or just memorize it for that game. That may be a personal nitpick but tutorials can be annoying as getting the trash out and the bag rips. The first time you might go through with it but the second time you want to say some curse words.

Where is the skip button?

I can understand tutorials to make the games accessible for everybody. But when a battle system is self-explanatory then why for the love of God do we need a tutorial. I’m looking at you Pokémon for example. Is it really needed to say that you can select attacks under “attack” and that your items are under “bag”? Well no, let me try to defeat my opponents Pokémon by trying to run away and let’s try to throw a Pokéball to a wild Pokémon with a Sand Attack.

One game managed to nearly boil my blood. The start of Devil May Cry 4 is a fixed tutorial. And when you don’t do the move or the action required, forget it, you won’t pass to the rest of the game. Lovely.

A game that got it right is Overlord for example. In this game, right after the opening, you get the basics explained but for the basic combat and such, you can take a route. But if you want to skip it, you can go right to the Throne Room. This is how I want my games to be! With a skip-able tutorial.  I don’t want to be reminded each time I restart the game how to play the game.

images (1)

A game that is a perfect example of how to do it, but make it extremely annoying is The Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina Of Time.

In this game, you have a fairy following you, acting as your tutorial in how to use weapons and your items. But the sound effect to remind you that she has something to say is “HEY LISTEN.” and you hear this phrase a least a million time in the game. It gets on people’s nerves extremely quickly. Luckily they fixed this in the sequel Majora’s Mask where the sound effect is just a tingle.

A game that has no tutorial is Minecraft. This game drops you in a random generated world and without prior knowledge, this game is pretty confusing. And this is the big fun of Minecraft. You get to learn the game by playing it and you feel rewarded if you kill that first Zombie or craft your first bow. Most recipes aren’t far fetched anyways.

Some games have in game menu’s where you can review certain combo’s or actions. I remember some games, and I’m sorry that I can’t bring an example at this moment… I think it might be Age of Mythology for the DS, have a separate tutorial button that you can take outside of the game. That’s also a great option.

I feel retard. 

images

Yes, I feel sometimes as a retard in a game. The game gets more like an interactive movie where you need to punch in the right button on the right time. There is no real skill involved anymore.

It’s like that coach at the side of a soccer game shouting at their players each and every move they need to do.

In complicated games, no issue, more power to you. But like I said, in a game like Kirby or Pokémon where the things are obvious how they work, it’s not needed. Just scrap that part and use the space for something decent like more levels.

Nintendo isn’t the only wrong do’er in this. I feel like tutorials now-a-days make a game way to easy. They flash the button you need to press or they can’t be skipped. What’s wrong with the challenge in a game. I once heard on a podcast that a developer needed to scrap a puzzle inside a game because there weren’t enough hints and you needed to use your common sense.

Oh, that’s another thing. Gamers don’t use a lot of common sense because of these tutorials. I wouldn’t be surprised if some gamer shouted at their game because “it wasn’t in the tutorial.”. Pathetic.

In conclusion, I think tutorials are welcome to aid the player get introduced in a game. But it’s annoying when you can’t skip it or when it explains extremely easy stuff that makes me go: “No shit sherlock.”.