Publishing: Gamers to battle sleep in 72-hour charity challenge

Committed video-gamers Gamely Giving are gearing up to burn the midnight oil from 28 April to 01 May 2017 to raise £1,000 for people with disabilities.

They’ll be gaming continuously for 72-hours from 16:00 GMT as part of GameBlast17 and are aiming to raise £1,000 for SpecialEffect, a charity that puts fun and inclusion back into the lives of those with physical disabilities by helping them play video games.

Gamely Giving are a team of friends and bloggers from all over the south of the UK. They’re asking people to help them reach their target by sponsoring them via their online fundraising page.

“We love what SpecialEffect does. They make it possible for people to play the games we enjoy and take for granted by providing them with controllers custom-built to their needs so they can join in with friends and family,” said Kevin, a member of the team. “As gamers, we believe in the healing power of gaming and how it brings people together. GameBlast gives us a chance to put this belief into action by playing to raise money so SpecialEffect can deliver a bit of joy to those who need it.”

“Playing for an extended period is a big challenge, but we’re asking people to attempt it to help thousands of people who, because of a disability, can only sit and watch other people have all the fun with family and friends,” said Mark Saville, the charity’s Communications Officer. “GameBlast is an opportunity for people to do what they love best and level the playing field for individuals with disabilities at the same time.”

The charity is inviting teams of friends, family members, and work colleagues to join the GameBlast event, which has been likened to a Children in Need for gamers. It’s backed by big names in the industry including GAMETwitch and FACEIT, and aims to raise £150,000.

Gamely Giving’s efforts will help people like John who never thought he’d be able to play video games again because his muscular dystrophy stopped him using a controller,” said Mark. “The sponsorship raised through the GameBlast event will change the lives of much more people like John through the gift of gaming fun and inclusivity.”

Anyone can sponsor the team online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/GamelyGiving2017 and can watch the event at www.twitch.tv/GamelyGiving. More details about the GameBlast17 event can be found at www.gameblast17.com.

First Impression: Golden Sun – Dark Dawn (DS) ~Sunny Weather

Goldensun3.jpgWikipedia entry

It’s time that I talk about a Golden Sun game. I have been putting this off for way too long. After I listed it in my favorite DS games ever made, I never talked about it. Apart from some music tracks here and there. It’s time to correct that. This week we are going to take a look at a game, I honestly thought I talked about before. In any case, the title and the box art here already gave it away.  It’s the 3rd game in the series, Golden Sun Dark Dawn. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article. 

(Note: to make this article more readable and understandable for everybody, I didn’t to use the lore of this game and used a generic term.)

Special powers

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The story of this game takes place a few years after the original two games. The story starts out simple with two children getting into some trouble with a sort of magical hang glider. But rather quickly, this story changes into your typical “save the world from doom” story.

While the story is your typical RPG story, it’s the journey and the writing that makes it memorable in my eyes. Each main character and side character has his or her own personality.

But what I really like about the story is how all the lore is explained in a non-intrusive way.  As you may have guessed, this game is a JRPG and because it’s the 3rd game in the series, there is a lot of lore.

But instead of the characters explaining the lore in some dialogue or some boring exposition dump, it gets underlined. When you tap that word, you get an explanation on the top screen to get you up to speed. Also, all those words go in your encyclopedia so you read them at your own pace. This is something that all other RPG’s should do! That way, there can be more focus on the story instead of explaining everything so newcomers can enjoy the game. This mechanic can also serve as a nice reminder for hardcore fans when he or she has forgotten the meaning of a word.

Fighting like on the GBA

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The gameplay, in general, hasn’t changed a lot compared to the GBA games. But in this game, some mechanics are tweaked for the newer hardware.

First of all, I want to talk about the exploration part of the game. The world this game takes place in is huge. I love exploring in this world. Since each town has it’s own unique feel to it.

The puzzles in this game are amazing in my opinion. The puzzles use the special powers you have in creative ways. I had to think outside of the box sometimes. And when you are stuck, one character gets a special power which allows you to see what objects you can interact with and which powers you should use.

Secondly, the battles are quite interesting as well. Since you have three possible attacks. You can fight with your weapons, use your magic and/or Djinn. Djinns are special creatures you find all over the world.

The mechanic of Djinn is one of the most interesting things in this game. I love trying to find them in towns, dungeons and in the overworld. But after you found them, a rather tricky meta-game starts. Depending to who you equip which Djinn, you can make a character even stronger or even weaker. Not only that, which magic powers they can use will also change. This makes for an interesting balancing exercise to make sure you have the perfect build to advance the plot.

When you use Djinn, they go into, what I like to call, the summing pool. When you have enough Djinn of a certain type, you can summon a more powerful creature. But beware, when a Djinn is in the summoning pool, the character it’s attached too, will lose its perks.

If this sounds interesting to you, this page on the Golden Sun wiki will explain it in more depth.

This world is golden

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The presentation and design of this game are top notch. While some animations take a little bit too long, I have no other complaint.

The world looks colorful and really pops out. The visual presentation in this game is one of the best I have seen on the system.

There is one issue I have with the design. And that’s that the menu system can sometimes be very annoying. It’s difficult to explain, but I felt that could have been done a lot better with more traditional menus. An example is the inventory system. It’s quite messy in my opinion. When you are looking for example for some herbs and you forgot to which character you have given them too. But it’s something I got used to.

The music and sound design of this game are excellent. The sound design gives this game the right charm it deserves. And the music, well, I have the soundtrack in my music library and I play a track here and there. It’s a very nice soundtrack.

The controls are great as well. Since you can use both buttons and the stylus. So you can choose and use the playstyle you prefer.

This game isn’t easy but isn’t difficult. But, I will give my final verdict on that when I finish the game. Since I know that there is another DS game that is rather easy but the final boss is extremely hard.

Something that could have been improved in this game is the frame rate. In some parts of the game, I saw some great frame rate drops. It mostly happens when there is way too much happening on screen at once. But it doesn’t happen very often thankfully.

Something I have to mention is that I had this game crash on me twice at the same spot. In the first cave you visit, I had this game crash on me. It was a great lesson in saving this game often. Also, thumbs up for having three save slots. Really helps!

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. When I beat this game, I might write a review. I hope you enjoyed reading this first impression as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you at another article on my blog, have a great rest of your day and until then: take care and game on!

First Impression: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – Fatal Conspiracy (PC) ~ Ah, CSI.

csi-crime-scene-investigation-fatal-conspiracy-megjelenes-dobozkep-5f1e286a56874898ba77-largeWikipedia entry

Lately, I’m getting quite a lot into the series of CSI. I’m currently watching the original series to the end. Then the spin-offs. But the games, oh man, the games are something special. Published by Ubisoft and developed by TellTale Games. This game has mixed reviews all over the board. I have seen reviews ripping this game a new one and I have seen reviews praising this game. This is the latest PC game that came from the series. I have beaten the first two cases and I just started the 3rd case. Is this a good game in my opinion? Is this a game made for fans of the series or can it be played by everyone? Well, I took a look from both angles. So, I won’t get the criticism that I gave this game a positive review because I’m a fan of the series. So, let’s dive right into this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and or the game. 

TellTale made this

maxresdefaultIt’s quite clear that TellTale games made this game. The formatting is just like their other series. The game is 5 cases long. During the game, you get another partner every time. What seriously amazed me is that the characters from the show actually did the voice acting for this game.  This give me goosebumps. One of the goals of these games is trying to give you the feeling that you are part of the team. The voice acting helps a lot with this.

The writing is done on a very clever way. Some lines are left out. Information your brain can easily fill in. Questions you would ask if the game was voice controlled. This helps draw you in a bit more too.

Storywise, this game starts off quite interesting. The idea of having a storyline over the whole game instead of having five separate stories makes it very interesting. The only minor complaint I have here is that the pacing is a bit off. It distracts a bit from the case in my opinion. Truth to be told, you can’t avoid it.

 The individual cases are quite interesting. But they aren’t my favorite cases from the series. They are good but my favorite cases are from the second game in the series.

Why is it bad?

CSI Fatal Conspiracy Screenshot 4Visually, this game doesn’t look that well. This game has been released 5 years ago. I know for a fact that visually, games can look way better then this. Tomb Raider Legend, which released 4 years prior, looked way more cleaner then this game.

So, I played a little bit more of the game and found some blurring issues. It would surprise me if my computer is at fault here. I’m extremely sure it can run this game three times without slowing down my computer.

But for a licensed game, visually this game looks quite fine. Some things could have been animated to look a bit better. So, after closer inspection (see what I did there) the issue with the visuals is that some things like hair aren’t animated which giving the visuals a bad impression to a PC gamer. Thankfully, in an adventure game the graphics aren’t the priority. The actual adventure is a bit more important.

One thing I find a negative in this game is that you can’t walk around. In a previous installment, you were allowed to walk around on the crime scene. I was hoping they implemented this again. But now, it’s back to the old point-and-click interface. Which is quite fine by me, expect for one flaw. In the game you are scored on how thorough you are. A visual indication for this would be nice, there have been various times that I was searching on a spot that was actually clean. They did this in the previous installments.

Another thing I don’t understand is that they cut the lab into two area’s. It’s rather annoying when you need to switch between the two places. Also, it’s annoying to see a number showing with the evidence. I can understand that it’s to help you remember that are is something that needs your processing, but you have no visual indication which item you still need to take a closer look at. That number also doesn’t decrease when you investigate it with the proper machine.

Oh, I talked a bit earlier about the lab. Some instruction videos actually didn’t work and it played part of the intro for this game. This is the weirdest bug I have seen for quite a while.

The GUI (graphical user interface, the menus and such) in the lab is a bit lacking. In the past it was easier to switch between evidence. Now, you need to restart before you can continue.

Yet, the worst two issues is that you can barely alt+tab out of the game. Your screen will show some weird bars like a smashed LCD screen. And related to that, sometimes the sound cuts out on a scary way… as your headphones just popped.

What is good…?

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Apart from the visuals, I find barely any major flaws, apart from some nitpicks here and there, in the game. The soundtrack in this game feels a lot like the series. Music that won’t go to your music library but is perfect to set the mood.

The design of the crime scenes and the locations you visit are well thought out. The “hiding spots” for the evidence are sometimes so well hidden, it’s easy to look over them. This is very lovely, since this gives the game a more challenging nature.

Also, there are achievements in this game. For the people who want to 100% this game, this is some replay value. You can try to avoid making the mistakes you made in the first playthrough.

The tips system is more streamlined. Sometimes you get mails from the night shift supervisor telling you what you should do or might overlook.

Is this game perfect? Hell no, it has some flaws that might hinder the experience. Is it good? Yes. Is it for everyone? Not really. I would recommend it to fans of the series and adventure gamers. I would also recommend it to people who like to solve crimes, virtually or in the real world.

If you are able to look past a few minor issues, this game is quite well crafted. When the developers had a bit more time, this game could be a bit better polished. That’s all I have to say about this game in my first impression. If I finish it, I might write a review about it and go a bit more in depth about certain area’s of the game.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this for you guys (or girls). I hope to welcome you at another article. But until then, have a nice day and game on~

First Impression: Glass Wings (PC) ~ Lesson in how not to design a game

8znpyeSteam store page

I found out about this game thanks to a forum friend of mine. I will sure send this article to him. The game got me interested. I like adventure games like this, but when I played this game… I was seriously disappointed. I’m terribly sorry Priom, but I think I need to rip this game a new one. Yet, how bad is this game? I did some digging about this game. I got some very interesting results. I found a lot of empty review pages all over the internet. I found one positive review. The website looks unprofessional. Okay, I think I’m running ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at this game as an objective critic. How is this game? Why did it leave such a bad taste in my mouth? What can improve and what doesn’t need improvement? Let’s take a look. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or this game.

Problems everywhere

the_game_is_done__by_saijeehiguchi-d7gqb2oYou could argue that I’m being too hard on a 5 bucks game made by three people. Well, I think I’m not. Because when I look to their website, it looks like this isn’t their first game. So, they have some experience.

First of all, let’s take a look at the story. It looked interesting after the first dialogue part. The voice acting was decent. It missed some emotion but it was all right for a three man team.

But two major flaws ruin the story presentation. Some visuals look less crisp then other. But the animation and the lack of sound effects are the two biggest issues. You see the main character struggle the whole way trough. There is no sound effect for that. Also, at the end of the cut scene… The main character is able to slip away. This came from nowhere since the visuals didn’t indicate that you were able to escape.

Then the dialogue itself. Well, it’s fine to create a fantasy world. If you explain things to the player. If you talk about “humans” and “demons”… You could explain a bit more how people have glass wings, what their goal is and things like that. In the introduction, the main character got a main objective. To get her (or his?) glass wings back.

Signs to older/other games?

last_three_days__level_designing_by_saijeehiguchi-d7g6ic9It’s rarely a good sign when a game has a separate .exe file to change the buttons for the game. It’s an even worse sign if it has a major flaw. The controls, are responsive yet flawed. There are some buttons assigned to some functions. There are TWO pause buttons. If you rebind one of those pause buttons, believe me, it won’t work… It still pauses the game.

Oh, and you can zoom in and out. Interesting and unique feature. But why can’t you run when you are zoomed in or out?

Okay, the subtitle said… signs to an older game. Well, the “load” option is actually you jumping into a warp pipe. Some people might praise a game for this, I’m more in the camp that doesn’t like this at all. It feels cheap and lazy. It feel like a trick to draw you into their game because you remember that mechanic from other games.

The menus aren’t well designed. When I booted the game, I was greeted by a sort of option menu. Some text overlapped some options. Also, the game settings can’t be changed once you are in game. And that’s a big issue in my eyes. If you notice that you want to change one setting, you have to shut down the game and boot it once again. There was also an option to do an “Alt boot”, which is for so far I can see, just an alternative costume.

Both in the graphical and music department, I think this game lacks a lot of polish. Like I said in the part about the introduction cut scene, some textures look smooth while others … well, just look ugly. The animation was lacking some serious polish. Another issue with the graphics is that the area around the doors look unfinished. I also had some animation glitches, which worked out in my favor, where a jump landed me miles ahead from where I should land. Oh, some animations looks also like they are missing some frames. The camera can clip through walls, the visuals of the levels look uninteresting among other things. Oh, and let’s not forget that all the traps look the same. Just a paint smudge on the floor. (And let’s not forget that you emit red light on the ground for some reason.)

The sound of this game, well, it gives me a vibe of “stock” music and sound effects. While the music sounds decent, the sound effects sound quite out of place. Some sound effects really doesn’t feel right.

The final negative I have with this game is the fact that there is a reset button. It just doesn’t sit with me well.

Positives?

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So, I think I made myself clear… This game left a bad taste in my mouth. Are there positives? Well, actually, there are. The main menu is quite interesting. With the bridges being the save slots and all. If only they polish this idea a bit up, it would be a bit better.

Well, this whole game can be more enjoyable if they polished up this game a bit more. Play tested it and didn’t only look at the parts that didn’t work but the parts where regular gamers would try to do things you didn’t intent. Things that might confuse a gamer that is interested in this game.

The premise and gameplay felt fun, yet a sloppy execution made this game feel short. Extremely short. Would I recommend this game? Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are interested in what you saw from the screenshots, you might be better off watching a let’s play episode or two. Or even try the demo.

This game had potential. It’s quite a bummer to see that this was the end result. If this game would be in early access, I wouldn’t give it such a rough time. While I can understand that people would enjoy this game… I don’t think it’s a good game. It lacks some polish but it doesn’t lack the love of the developers. I’m sorry From Soy Sauce, while I enjoyed the gameplay, I couldn’t look passed the other issues in this game. So, I think it’s highly unlikely I would finish this game. Maybe I might check later since I see that you recently released a patch for this game. Maybe in the future most of these issues are resolved. Who knows…?

In any case, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I know, it’s something different from what I usually write. But hey, I felt like not writing about a good game for a change. I hope to welcome you at an other article, but until that time… have a great day and game on~

First Impression: Venture Forth (PC) ~ Alpha Peek

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First of all, this is an impressive project. This game is made by a small indie developer and has been in development for over two years. They mailed me because they wanted me to take a look at this game after I wrote about Delver. Since this game is in the same style, they thought I might be interested in it. Indeed, I am. While it took me a while to take a look at this game since I was extremely busy, I finally found the time recently. So, let’s dive right into Venture Forth. This article is written on an unfinished build of the game, this is also mostly meant to hype the game a bit and give some feedback to the developers. Ready, let’s go! Alpha build of the 4th July, here we come!  (And as usual, feel free to give me a comment with your opinion of this game and/or the content of the game.)

Warning: This game is in one of my favourite genres. Also, I wasn’t able to make time to write this article, so I had to push it back for almost two months. And also, when I’m asked to write an article, I try to give the best feedback possible. So, prepare yourself for a longer article then you are used of me.

What needs more work?

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The developer said to me that some of the visuals are place holders. So, I’m not going to talk too much about that. While I honestly think that some items and 3D textures look mighty fine already, others like a potion is just an arrow in this current build.

Most likely, the fact that we are missing a menu for options like key-bindings, starting a new game and all that is something that is still in development. If it’s not, please would it be possible to give the player the option to change how they want to control the game? I live in one of those weird keyboard countries where the lay-out of my keyboard is not qwerty, but azerty.

An annoying bug I found in the game is that when you want to switch from full screen to windowed mode, it kept running in full screen. This game uses the usual enter+alt method, which is no big deal. But they might want to look into this bug. Hopefully it’s not because of my own made pc.

This is just a feature suggestion of mine. The map is set up quite interestingly, but what if you give each area a different colour on the map. Makes it easier to see which area ends where. Just a minor thing.

Something that’s not that minor is the lack of lighting in some areas. Don’t read me wrong, I think it’s nice that they went for the realistic approach and make the areas where natural light can’t come through, it’s extremely dark. But when you use a torch, it gives off barely enough light to even properly navigate the dungeon. The area “The Nest” was a perfect example of this.

Labyrinth 2014-10-22 02-49-56-15I could complain about the lack of a tutorial yet, the game controls and plays like any other typical dungeon game. One thing I think they should really change and that is the starting area. You start out having to jump down a ravine. Not once, but if I recall correctly, about three times, you loose some health and this will set off a handful of players to not play the game. It’s not really inviting and it gives the game the first impression of using cheap tricks. At least in my opinion.

Same with some puzzles. This game uses a few puzzles where you barely get any hints. Without spoiling too much, let me tell you. When you are stuck and have nowhere to go, try a staff. It took me way too long to figure this out. I’m not saying it wasn’t rewarding to find this out, but a subtle hint when you enter the area would be nice. But really subtle. In the current version of the game, it was a nearly see-through wall. Hinting that there is something at the other side. But before you got there, it was a long hallway. Maybe put in the rocks an image that looks like the staff somewhere in that hallway? That’s what I mean with subtle, something you wouldn’t notice or easily miss.

Before I move on to the more positive parts of the game, I want to talk about something that won’t help with the first impression as well. The first enemies you encounter are a bit too strong in my taste. Actually, that’s just a nitpick, since if you know what you are doing, the enemies can be quite the pushovers.

What is already good?

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I’m not going to give criticism on the music. Well, honestly, the ambient music that’s playing in the background. The reason is that it helps building the atmosphere quite well. That there is only one melody/track that plays, I can understand. It’s an Alpha after all. If they weren’t planning to add some more music, then a problem could arrive. Some players would get annoyed by the repetitive music and this would turn up as a negative in various reviews.

Earlier I talked about the map system. As a fan of these style of games, I could start complaining about the difficulty to see rooms and all that… Honestly, I think the map is one of the best features in this game. It’s a fully 3D view of the world you play in. It also shows some hidden things in the map, most likely put there from the developer to control the game. (read: spawning enemies or helping with the lighting of an area.) Which is a really cool touch.

That the enemies aren’t shown on the map is something I’m on the fence about. On one hand, you could say it’s annoying since you can’t plan your strategy. On the other hand, it really helps build fear into the game. You never know if an area is safe to cross or not.

The game runs quite smooth already. I got a steady 60fps, which is quite nice. The sound effects are actually perfect for this game. There weren’t many sound effects I would change. I would add a few here and there like for when an enemy switches equipment.

Yes, that’s a thing. Later in the game, the enemies will switch weapons. Long range combat, they will use a bow. Short range? Well, prepare for a sword fight. In this game, you can also prepare a few load-outs. Choose carefully though, since this game doesn’t offer an inventory system. So, that means, when you want to use your potions, you will have to use a load-out. You can also equip two items and armour. Logical, since we only have two hands. This is the reason why you need to plan out your strategy quite well.

Labyrinth 2015-05-10 05-04-07-93

So, the actual controls are mighty smooth. While I think they should add a run button in the full release, the aiming and such is extremely nice for an alpha. Also, this game would benefit from a crouch move where you can’t fall off ledges, like in Minecraft.

I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about so it’s time to wrap up this article.

Conclusion

I really love where the game is going. I understand that this game is still in alpha and needs some polishing. But truth to be told, the base game is there. The core idea is present and it puts a new spin on exploration. It’s not simply a clone or just an explorer game. It tries to do something new with the different load-outs you can easily switch between and the amazing map.

It can become a great game, if they worked on expanding the first impressions that the game gives you. If I would give it a score in it’s current state, while keeping in mind that it’s an alpha build, it would be around a 7/10.

Thanks for letting me play this game, I actually enjoyed myself. Don’t be afraid to send me a review copy when it’s fully released guys, I will for sure write a full review about it then.

Anyway, I think I will leave it at that for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed preparing and writing it. And please, give their official site a look, they deserve it.

Rant: Let’s go mobile – please no.

Mobile-Gaming-600This rant might come as a surprise. I also write articles about mobile games and now I’m going to actually talk bad about it. I read an article today and something snapped inside of me. Something just made me sigh so hard, I almost blew over my nearly empty can of soda. I just realized something that will be a grave danger if we didn’t talk about it. Even if this might seem nonsense to you, I’m quite afraid it might happen. Feel free to discuss this in the comments, I’m kind of curious what you guys think. Warning: this rant has been written when I was a bit angry and disappointing by the news I open the next paragraph with. Just a heads up, m’kay. It might be not written as good as I usually write. 

Layton and Fantasy Life sequels go mobile.

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Thank you Kotaku for sharing my opinion. I simply can’t believe that Level5 is making this idiotic move. I have a lot of respect for Level5, since they made some amazing titles. But jumping on the mobile cash train is just making me sad. Extremely sad.

Apart from that, Nintendo is also moving mobile after a lot of complaints. I’m extremely afraid that they might do something stupid as well.

I could rant about how disappointed I am about this, but it might be better to explain why I feel like that actually. There is something going on in the mobile market that is really not good for us gamers.

Moving to mobile

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When I browse the app store lately, I notice that big titles like Final Fantasy and Fifa are appearing on the mobile market. This business scheme is just insulting in my eyes.

Why? Simply because those games don’t belong on the mobile market. At all. Since mobile games are meant as timewasters at the doctor’s office or waiting for a bus. Games that work well on mobile are games that are easy to understand and play. Games that have a simple idea behind them. That’s why Candy Crush is doing so well.

I’m quite sure that some people will disagree with me on this. They will try to prove that I’m wrong with examples of games that did well on the mobile platform. A game that actually did well on mobile platforms is Minecraft Pocket Edition. But then again, it’s a game you can enjoy in short bursts and it’s something excellent to do while you are waiting on something.

Why don’t triple A games belong on the mobile market? One reason is, that a tablet and phones aren’t meant to have long gameplay sessions on. Tablets where originally a decent alternative to a laptop for business men. But phones, they just aren’t meant for it. Think about it, you can’t call somebody because your battery died because you played too much games on it.

Also, because people want to use their phones more and more to do stuff on, where actually a tablet or a laptop is made for, the sizes of a phone gets… just out of proportion. I have seen phones that barely can fit in a pocket.

Target groups

My biggest issue is the fact that the people who play games on their mobile phones are a different group who play games on their consoles, handhelds and/or computers. When I see people play games on Facebook and their phones, I rarely see them play games on a handheld. Also, when I look to most of my friends who play games on consoles and other devices, I rarely see them play games on mobile phone. It’s because most people who play games on their mobile phones aren’t that interested in games to begin with.

I could try to explain it, but let me prove my point. When I went to Minecon a few years ago, the people who played Minecraft Pocket Edition had a separate room. Most of the people there were young mothers, males that did a lot of sport or very young children.

Or another example, the more popular games that started on mobile, get their way onto Steam, handhelds and/or consoles. Weird isn’t it?

Before I forget to mention it, the fact that you have no buttons to play with feels so awkward to me. Not only that, what you see on the screen then depends on the size of your fingers as well. Not only that, when you are in a situation where you need to do some sort of quick action, buttons are just better. Since you can press them and it’s harder to press them by accident.

No tablet for me

So, I’m already seeing some comments in my head. But if it’s on a tablet, it might be better to play on since your fingers take up less space or you can plug in a keyboard.

1379515873Hold the Android there. (Little phone pun, sorry.) First of all, I agree with the argument of the tablet being a better size to play games on. I honestly think that mobiles shouldn’t be powerful enough to play games like Delver or Fifa on.

But the argument of being able to plug in a keyboard or a controller is just, well, it makes for a whole different experience. Out of that idea we got tablet-laptop hybrids and a console named the Ouya.

I actually own a tablet. I use it to watch video’s on when I’m on a trip or in bed and I can’t sleep. It makes less noise and it’s lighter to carry then a laptop. In the end, I actually prefer a laptop.

Anyways, I think I’m going to wrap this one up. It felt quite nice to blow off some steam about this. It’s possible that I look back at this article later and my opinion might be different, but I think that the big triple A games shouldn’t go towards mobile platforms. If anything, they should rename it to “tablet platforms”. Since then my arguments about phones have less meaning.

So yeah, I might write more about this subject but in any case, I hope you found this interesting. While I could have written this when I was more calm and collected about the subject, I feel that, as a writer and creative person, you should allow yourself to publish something you created when you were in a different mood. But that’s a whole other subject. Take care and until the next article. I already have something in mind. ~

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?

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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

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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 #039: Club House Games (DS) review ~ Fun For Days.

Clubhouse_Games_coverWikipedia entry

This game has another name in my country. Literally translated it’s “42 Classic Games”. Usually, these kind of games are mostly regarded as bad, since only inexperienced developers create these multipacks to make a quick buck. But when you look at the box-art, you see that the developer is Nintendo. This is interesting, Nintendo made this game. I actually love this game, but is it really good or is it a game that I’m able to overlook the negatives of? Let’s take a look at this game in this review! As usual, feel free to write a comment on the game and or the content of the article. 

Modes

i_clubhouseAs you might have already gathered, this game doesn’t have any story. So, I can’t start with that. So, let’s talk about the actual games inside the pack first.

The main menu gives you an option between single player, multiplayer and settings. Here I have a minor complaint. When you unlocked the 2nd music tune, you can only change it there. It’s a bit bad menu design, but oh well. It’s a nitpick.

If you pick single player, you get three options. Free play, stamp and mission mode. Let’s talk about stamp mode first. In this mode, you get 5 levels to clear with each 8 sub-levels. In this mode you need to play different games and when you loose, you get one stamp. If you draw, you get two stamps and if you win, you get three stamps. When you get three stamps on a certain game, you may advance to the next game.

When you finished this mode, you get something visual in the chat to play around with. But not only that, you will unlock some locked games. There aren’t many games locked, which is actually rather nice and disappointing. It takes away the challenge but it makes it so that most of the games can be played whenever you want.

 More modes

Clubhouse-Games-CWIn mission mode you have different missions. If I remember correctly, 25 missions. When you clear a mission, you get a new icon you can choose for your profile. The fact that you can do these out of order, are actually really amazing.

Some missions are rather hard, so I recommend that you first practice the game in free play, since otherwise you might get a hard time in the mission mode.

In free play mode, you can play any game you want from the pack. The games are actually all board and card games. You can also look at the records. While that view is limited, it’s a neat touch.

Most of the games in the pack are perfect for single player and multiplayer. A few games are only suited for single player and a few games are more fun in multiplayer then in single player.

Some games have some minor nitpicks where they could improve. To avoid that this article becomes to long, I’ll list 2 things I would have changed in the games.

  • In the bowling game, I would have added an option that some players could have had the side railing. Since my younger relatives get frustrated when the ball rolls in the gutter.
  • In most solitaire games when you double click/double tap the card goes actually to a location that it can go. For example, double tapping on a red three makes it go fly to the nearest black 4.

Is it good?

clubhouse-games-20061003100055275So, each game plays really well. It’s obvious that this game is build for the Nintendo DS. Apart from the darting game, I have no complaints about the controls.

The darting game’s controls feel so loose. It feels that your arrow goes where it wants to go, and not where you aimed it to go. It feels floaty and loose.

Visually, this game looks amazing. It’s just perfect enough to draw you in for hours and hours. Talking about that, the game actually rewards you for completing a certain game a couple of times. You get another visual design for a game. That’s just amazing.

What is a huge bonus in this game is how you have a very clear explanation of the rules for each and every game. You can quickly access it by clicking on the rules tab and read about it. There is even a table of content in each rules section so you can quickly jump to the part you want more information about.

 This game has an excellent multiplayer mode. But how good that is, I’ll leave up to you guys for a surprise. The only complaint I have about it is that it lacks stats and things like that. As in, how many times your friends won or lost a certain game. But the positive thing is that you don’t have to have a copy to play this game in multiplayer. It takes a bit longer to load a game but hey, that’s forgivable.

While there isn’t a lot music in this game, the music that is actually in the game is rather catchy. While it doesn’t stick for too long in your head, it’s doesn’t become annoying after a while of playing. When I start to concentrate and getting into a game, I actually totally forget about the music.

I used to play this game a lot with my sister in the past. Nowadays I often play it with my niece. She enjoys it quite a lot. I can’t actually count anymore how much hours I lost with this game, single player and or multiplayer. It’s strangely addictive. Anyways, I think I’ll leave some things up to you guys to explore and find out. It’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The music options are a bit hidden.

– The controls of the darts game aren’t all that good.

– The stats.

The good:

+ Amazing package of games.

+ Great multiplayer. Only 1 copy needed to play with friends.

+ You can unlock things by playing the games that don’t hinder your experience of the overall game.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game was a tricky one to review in the length I usually write my review in. While I tried to take a look at most things, I ended up explaining most of the game.

If you didn’t notice it yet, I wasn’t able to come up with any major flaws in this game. It’s almost perfect. I actually take this game as a sort of benchmark when I play games like this. Not that many games can come close to this game. It’s so polished the minor flaws that Nintendo and Agenda made aren’t all that bad.

That’s why this game deserves it’s score. It might not be perfect, but it’s very close to be perfect.

Score: 100/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: The Visual Novel

Photo-2014-08-21-17-31-45Lately, I see various games appearing on Steam. Visual novels. That interests me quite a lot. But the let down is huge when I find out that it are kinetic novels. What is a visual novel actually and why is it such an underrated game genre? I want to talk about my favorite game genre in this article and hopefully make some of you guys interested in the visual novel genre. As usual, feel free to write a comment about the visual novel games and or the content of this article.

What makes a game a visual novel?

999-.9.Hours.9.Persons.9.Doors.full.934360So, when is a game a visual novel? It’s quite logical that a visual novel is more of a novel then a game. When the novel isn’t interactive, you have a kinetic novel. A kinetic novel is a novel that a movie you can read.

A visual novel has interaction. Sometimes “repetitive actions” and sometimes not. Virtue’s Last Reward for example always has the same gameplay. Solve the puzzle to find the solution to open the safe. Corpse Party on the other hand isn’t repetitive. You have to try and find the other survivors.

A visual novel could be easily confused with a very heavy story driven RPG. Those two genres are two similar, yet different genres. Since visual novels play more on the imagination of the player instead of the skills. If you have ever played an Ace Attorney game, you might have noticed that there isn’t much animation outside the characters. It’s the writing that pulls people in.

Underrated

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What do I like so much about visual novels? I can’t really explain. I think the reason is that I feel more as the main character of a story. I feel that my fate is already planned out and that I have to look for the right path.

Now visual novels nearly have always one solution. Even when a game has different endings, you will most likely come across the final true ending.

Games nowadays are getting “lazy”. The graphics try to paint the most beautiful picture and the sound and music tries to blow you off your chair. But visual novels, that isn’t the goal. You don’t get fancy graphics, you mostly get static images and text boxes.

Somehow, visual novels have the power to make you come invested in a story more then other games have. I rarely felt touched by an amazing game when there wasn’t a deep story. When I’m playing a visual novel, it’s very hard for other games to distract me out of that trance. Visual novels are that good in my opinion.

 Visual novels try to pull the gamers in with clever writing. They don’t try to make it a massive big show, they create an interesting plot line. Think about it this way, how many times did you start to loose interest in the side quests or the side goals and started to go for the main goals in a game?

Maybe it’s just my interest. My favorite game genre is adventures and my favorite subgenre is visual novel. Since I’m interested in interesting stories and such. I can’t honestly really answer why, but I think that visual novels deserve more credit then they get. It has it’s issues of course, like for some people there is too much text, but hey, name me one genre that doesn’t have issues.

Anyways, to close off this article, let’s take a short look at 2 great visual novels I played in my life.

Examples

The Walking Dead

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Even when I’m not a fan of the series, you got to give it to this game. TellTale Games makes excellent modern visual novels. While the typical text boxes aren’t there, the main focus is the story and how your choices influences the outcome.

It’s a great and modern example of an excellent visual novel. Too bad it doesn’t interest me as much as other visual novels do. If you want to know why I’m not such a fan, you might want to read my first impression. But my buddy Zach (aka Dark_Legend) is a big fan of it, so you might want to read his articles about it.

Ghost Trick

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In this game you play as a death cop and you have to solve your own murder. The catch is that you can rewind time to save somebodies life. With this power you try to figure out who wanted you dead.

This game is tricky to place. It’s a visual novel alright but the gameplay… is it a puzzle game? Action game? Adventure game? I don’t really know.

I wish CapCom announced a sequel of this game since it’s a good game. Not only the story but the gameplay was rather interesting. I liked the idea very much and I wish the game was a bit longer.

Closing thoughts

Most visual novels are rather lengthy. I haven’t seen a visual novel you would be able to finish in a week. Actually, I have seen one as the exception on the rule. Time Hollow.

The most irritating thing is getting stuck in these games. Since you don’t have to grind or anything of that nature, getting stuck can get even the most veteran visual novel player to put down the game.

It’s quite clear that I’m not done talking about visual novels. I have some other things I want to mention but that will be for another article. I want to compare the visual novel genre with other genres. Or it might be an idea for a podcast.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for reading and hopefully I can welcome you at another article. Take care.

First Impression: Tarzan (GBC) ~ Hide and SEEK.

TARZAN_gbc_E_IGN entry

So, one day on a garage sale, I saw this game. Since one of the very first games I ever played was Tarzan on the PC, I had to have this. I enjoyed this game quite a lot. And now, after all those years, I still have the same cartridge and the instruction booklet. I’m quite happy that I still have it since I have fond memories of it. Now, I have never finished this game since I couldn’t get passed the tiger battle as a kid. That’s why I’m writing a first impression. Anyways, enough stalling, let’s dive right into this game and let’s take a look at it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment on the game and or the content of this article. 

Collect-a-banana gameplay.

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The story in this game is amazing. They made it work on the Gameboy Color! They follow the movie quite perfect. The levels and stages are designed around some amazing scenes of the movie. As a kid, I watched that movie a lot.

While the characters don’t have a lot of development in the game, I still enjoyed this story quite a lot. I’m so glad that they know what the gameboy color was capable of doing.

The game is surprisingly longer then you would think. This game consists out of 23 stages. Which is quite long for a movie game. It’s actually quite good too. This game is a platformer, but not in your traditional sense. You need to collect a certain amount of banana’s before you can advance to the next stage. The amount of banana’s you need to collect are shown when you start the level.

You don’t always play as Tarzan, there are levels as Tuck… but…

The bad things.

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… There is barely any variation between the characters. They all play the same. Apart from Tuck’s hitbox being slightly bigger then Tarzan’s.

While the controls are really solid, the jump animation is a bit broken. Sometimes the jumps, well, don’t work. You can’t grab a ledge you see clearly in front of you or you clip right through the edge.

I don’t know it was my copy or not, but the sound was messed up. The music had like a missing line of melody. The noise it added was rather annoying.

A disappointment was that you couldn’t multiplayer the hide and seek mode. You had to pass your gameboy to your friend after you had hidden one of the characters. That was a major let down for me. Thankfully, this allowed me to play this game with my sister. Since we only had one copy of the game back then.

Another annoyance is that the checkpoints aren’t clearly indicated. Suddenly, you get shown that you reached a checkpoint, but it looked like a usual ledge or platform to me at first. Also, if i remember correctly, once taken is always taken.

Oh, don’t get me started on the password system. It’s quite creative by using symbols but why do they have a password system in place for this game? There were games like the Legend of Zelda who showed that they can make a saving system work on the Gameboy color!

 Is it bad?

Tarzan_GBC_ScreenShot4

So, I have talked about most of the things this game does wrong. But it isn’t that bad. Thankfully, this game has some other good things. The animation blew my mind, and it still does today. What Disney displays here, is just amazing. The game feels tense and nice.

Looking at it now, you could argue that this game has the problem of design over gameplay. I mentioned earlier that some jumps didn’t work correctly. I think the culprit is that the animation is too good.

The difficulty curve is just perfect. While some parts might be a bit unforgiving, I don’t think that is such a bad thing. Do you seriously expect games from that age to be forgiving.

Visually, this game is nice to look at. The game is sometimes a maze… Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that a map would be nice. But at the other hand, I understand why there isn’t a map. Since you play inside the jungle, which is unmapped terrain in the first place. Also, Tarzan doesn’t know the whole jungle like the back of his hand.

Another thing I forgot to mention is how you go to the next level. As soon as you got all the required banana’s you don’t go to the next level automatically, you have to find your partner. He is hidden in sometimes a hard to reach area. This tests your knowledge of the level and you have to use all your skills.

What I don’t understand, and I can’t test it since I don’t have one, is that this game supports the Gameboy Printer. Yes, you can make images and print them. This is wasted potential in my eyes.

Before I wrap up this article, I think I should talk a bit more about the controls. Since there isn’t any tutorial, I liked it that you can find out what each button does on your own. But, as soon as you play, you will understand that this isn’t the best choice. You’ll have to play that in order to understand it. Otherwise I ruined each surprise.

Anyways, let’s wrap up this first impression here. I almost wanted to start the conclusion as I was writing a review. But I haven’t beaten this game, so I can’t write a review. Anyways, I think this game deserves a play. It isn’t perfect, but it’s good. It isn’t polished, but it’s fun.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. I wish you happy holidays and I look forward to seeing you guys soon. Since the Gameboy and Gameboy Color month will still go in January. I had a way more busy time then I expected, so I couldn’t write enough articles as I wanted for this theme. That’s why I decided that. But anyways~ Take care!