First Impression: Resident Evil 4 (PS2) ~ Leon, Help Me! LEEEEOOONN!

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Wikipedia entry

Not to long ago, I revealed my 10 favorite games I have started playing in 2018. One of these games was Resident Evil 4. Now, I shorty explained why I enjoyed that game so much in that article but I think it’s time to give a more in depth opinion on the game. I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m closing in on the mid-way point of the game. I think I have seen enough of the game to give my first impressions on the game and to give my honest opinion on the game. So, will this be the game that drags me into survival horror or will this game be the one that turns me off? As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

Ashley & Leon’s “vacation”

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In this game, you take on the role of Leon S. Kennedy. A police officer that was involved with Raccoon City that has been sent to Spain to rescue the President’s kidnapped daughter. Very quickly after your arrival, you discover that things aren’t normal and that something went horribly wrong. It’s up to Leon to find and rescue Ashley as quickly as he can.

The writing in this game is excellent. Some story elements are explained in notes you can find in the world and others are explained in cutscenes. The voice acting is amazing, I especially love the voice acting during combat sections since it really helps with building the atmosphere. The only missed opportunity in my opinion is that there aren’t a lot of interactions between Ashley and Leon during your exploration. Maybe Bioshock Infinite with Booker and Elisabeth spoiled me too much there.

Most of this game is a sort of escort quest. But, Leon isn’t taking Ashley on a nice vacation to Spain, at all. Remember the start of this section? Leon came to the village to extract Ashley and get her back to the United States of the Americas.

Now, I’ll talk more about gameplay mechanics later but first I want to talk about a flaw with the story of this game. The flaw is that some parts of the story, especially some characters and events aren’t explained too well to newcomers. This game is the first Resident Evil game I’m trying to beat and I had to look up certain things. Now, at the other hand, these unexplained gaps in the story made me even more interested to play the previous Resident Evil games so that everything can fall into place.

Since I haven’t beaten the game, I won’t comment on the writing too much. To be quite honest, I feel that sometimes the story takes a bit of a backseat and is more used as a sort of tool to string different sections together. I even dare to say that you would be able to cut some sections out without it making a (big) impact on the story or the atmosphere. Yes, the notes fill in some of the gaps but since they are optional and can be skipped, the story feels incomplete to me. As if there were sections removed from the final version.

Ashley isn’t Elisabeth

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Now, I knew in advance that this game was going to be an escort mission sort of game.I have played Bioshock Infinite, so I got used to guiding a character around.

Now, there are big differences between Elisabeth and Ashley. First of all, Ashley can be kidnapped. Whenever certain enemies are close to her, she can be picked up and kidnapped. Whenever she is dragged through a door to another section, it’s game over.

There are two other big differences. The first is that Ashley isn’t helpful during your exploration. You can tell her to wait, hide and follow you. She can only hide in certain places, she doesn’t look for them herself. Now, I tested out how good her pathfinding is. Whenever I called for her when she was in hiding and I ran to a corner of the map, she was always able to find me and team up with me.

The second big difference is that Ashley isn’t invincible. If you see the screenshot I placed a bit earlier, you notice that Ashley has a health bar as well. So, you have to be careful that Ashley doesn’t take damage. Since, you need to rescue her alive. Whenever you use your healing items, you can choose to heal either yourself or Ashley.

Thankfully, both Elisabeth and Ashley rarely get in your way during combat. Elisabeth goes and looks for items while Ashley ducks so fast when you aim at an enemy behind her, it’s almost impossible to hit her. Also, whenever I threw a grenade in her direction to try and defeat an enemy close to her, she quickly gets out of the way. Thank god, I would have thrown out the disc if that wasn’t the case.

Now, I have been talking about the differences between Ashley and Elisabeth for a while now. But, how does this game play? What is the actual gameplay? This game is an adventure-exploration 3D shooter game. I even dare to say that you can compare it to the reboot Tomb Raider games to a certain extent. The big differences are Ashley and that this game focuses more on big bosses and horror than Tomb Raider.

I have to admit that I’m playing this game on easy difficulty. Because this is one of my first times I’m playing a survival horror game, I wanted to get used to the mechanics before I challenged myself and played through the genre on a harder difficulty. Surprisingly, this game keeps being challenging. I’m always thinking on how I can save the ammo of my most powerful weapons to quickly dispatch groups of enemies.

The biggest thing I dislike during the combat is that I can’t see a difference between an enemy that is close to dying and one that is full health. What is even more annoying is that it’s sometimes, and especially with the bosses, hard to read if you are hitting them or not. In one run, I was sure I hit an enemy but the enemy didn’t go down and used her chainsaw to insta-kill me. The red dot at the end of where you are aiming is too small and too little of an indication during hectic combat. Because of this, I’m sure that I have wasted so much ammo fighting bosses.

I think I can summarize it like this: the combat is a bit rough around the edges. While it’s a lot of fun, sometimes I got annoyed with the limitations of the mechanics. At one hand, I can understand where the developers were coming from. This game is a survival horror game after all and you have to fell tense and afraid, since it’s a horror game. At the other hand, it doesn’t take away that I would have loved to see a bit more polish on the combat.

Something I’m disappointed a bit by are the puzzles. I feel that most of the puzzles rely a bit too much on the “press the buttons in the right order” cliché. Almost all of the non-combat puzzles have to pressing switches in a certain sequence. Granted, I’m somewhere in the middle of the game so, it’s quite possible that the rest of the game will have a bit more unique puzzles.

It has aged

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Because I’m a retro gamer, I don’t mind it when games look dated. If you wondered why I didn’t play the HD version for this article, I can easily explain that by saying that I was able to pick up a physical copy of the original and that interests me more as a collector.

Now, the game looks fine on PS2. There is a lot of detail in the atmosphere of the game and the monster design is delicious grotesque. I especially love it when characters transform mid-battle, because then I have to think quickly and change my strategy accordingly.

But alas, the fact that this game is now almost 15 years old is starting to show. In certain sections, I feel that there isn’t enough detail. I also had the impression that in certain sections, the textures on the models were a bit too flat making certain objects like a bed in the castle look like it would belong in a PS1 Tomb Raider game. I haven’t played the HD version of the game, but from what I have seen, all the complaints I have about the visuals… well, let’s just say that the HD version looks a LOT better than the PS2 version. I even checked some comparison videos between the Gamecube, Wii and this version of the game and I have to say, that the versions on the Nintendo platforms look a lot better.

Now, I’m not saying that this game looks ugly. Remember that I said that this game looks fine? Well, I really stand by that. I love all the detail they put in the world and the animations in this game are amazing. I especially love how destructible the world is. When a huge boss throws a tree to a shack you are standing in, the tree doesn’t break on the shack because video games, the tree actually breaks the shack because realism.

The only “negative” I can say in terms on the animations are that certain death scenes are a bit too scripted. What I mean is for example, when you kill an enemy with a head shot, it doesn’t go down right away. It nearly always takes a few steps forward before collapsing. This isn’t the only example of that, but it stands out. But, after a while I got used to it and it didn’t bother me that much.

Now, besides puzzles and combat; there is one other part of the gameplay I haven’t mentioned. And that are the quick time events. In certain sections, you have to much a button as quick as you can to survive. These sections were the most annoying sections of the game in my opinion. Thankfully, they are short. So, they are over without too much hassle.

This game doesn’t have an autosave. You can save at certain save points in scattered around. You can save an infinite amount of times as long as you are at the type writer. Thankfully, when you get a game over, you don’t have to restart from your last save point. You start from the section you died at. For example, when you died during a quick time event with a boss and die, you respawn at the start of that quick time event. This is a great feature since whenever I died, I learned something new and I got a new idea on how to possibly defeat the boss.

Besides strategy, there is something else that helps with defeating bosses and that are good controls. This game has that. The only things I struggle a bit with are turning while using the knife or aiming with a weapon. Now, the turning with a knife isn’t too much of an issue. I stop pushing the knife button and press it again when I have done my turn.

The aiming of weapons is a different story. This game is one of the first games I played on a console that involves a lot of shooting. I’m quite used to being able to easily shoot using a mouse of the Wii Remote. I had to get used to aiming with a joystick. To my surprise, I quickly got used to it. When I look at the stats at the end of each level, I notice that I’m improving quite a lot in my accuracy.

To my surprise, I haven’t talked about the music and sound design of this game and it’s almost the end of the article. The soundtrack of this game is one that helps build the atmosphere quite well. Personally, I wouldn’t listen to most of the tracks outside of the game, but I enjoy the soundtrack quite a lot during gameplay.

The sound design of this game get a big thumbs up from me. The game sound just right, from the sound of the guns to enemies transforming. It all sounds like you would imagine it sounding in real life.

Well, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I know that I haven’t talked about everything but I’ll leave those things for my review, if I ever write one on this game. So, I think it’s time to wrap up this article.

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

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NekoJonez’s looking forward to these 10 games in 2019

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The year of 2018 is almost history. The final moments are happening when this article was in the process of being written. Like each year, I want to take the time to look to the upcoming year. Since I’m writing a gaming blog, I especially want to take a look at 10 games I’m quite excited about that currently have a release date in 2019. If you want to know what the 10 best games of 2018 for me where, I have already written an article on that subject. Before I start talking about my list, remember that this list is my personal opinion. It’s quite possible that the games you are looking forward too aren’t on my list. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article, my list and/or with your list. And now, it’s time for the actual list in no particular order. 

#10 – Minecraft Dungeons (PC)

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Announcement blogpost

To be honest, Minecon Earth passed me by this year. When I heard about “Minecraft Dungeons” I honestly thought that it was another skin pack for the console edition. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s actually a new game in the Minecraft universe.

From what I have read on the Minecraft website, the game looks like a dungeon crawler game like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or The Binding of Isaac in concept. Now, it looks like it’s a multiplayer game, but I hope there will be a single player component to the game as well.

I have started playing Minecraft in late 2011 and I play the game here and there today. While I play less Minecraft today then I did in the past, I still hold Minecraft very near and dear to my heart. Now, I’m quite interested and hyped to see what the Mojang team has in store with this new game and how they are going to use the actual Minecraft mechanics in this new game or if they are going to introduce new mechanics. Maybe, the new game might link to the original game in a way… maybe. We shall see. Currently, there is no release date announced, apart from somewhere in 2019. The only thing we know for sure is that this game is going to release for PC.

 #9 – Desperados III (PC)

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Official Steam page

I remember the day I got introduced to the Desperados games when I visited a coworker of my mom. He introduced me to the game and actually made a copy of his disc for me to play at home.

Yes, I started to play this series illegally. Year later, I actually bought myself a legit copy on Steam and I bought all the other entries in the series. I really love the gameplay of these games. The game is extremely challenging and I haven’t beaten the games until this day. I have come quite far. I was in the final three levels of the original game.

When I was installing Desperados on my laptop, I suddenly noticed that the game got a new post in the news section. To my surprise, a new reboot/sequel got announced and to blow my mind even further, the game was coming in the summer of 2019!

So, I know what I’m going to do this upcoming summer. I’m going to play the first two Desperados games to refresh the story and lore of the series so I can get right into the new game. I’m quite excited to relive my childhood and finally beat the games I wasn’t able to beat as a child.

#8 – Fire Emblem – The Three Houses (Switch)

Nintendo.com Mini-site

H2x1_NSwitch_FireEmblemThreeHouses_image1600wI was playing Fire Emblem Warriors at the time this game got announced. When I saw this game during Nintendo’s E3 presentation, my mind was blown.

When I was watching the trailer, I got the impression that some elements of the Fire Emblem Warriors game actually made it into the actual main series, while staying true to their roots. It also looked like the game got a lot of new mechanics compared to the games I have played on the 3DS.

Now, apart from the Fire Emblem Warriors spin-off I haven’t finished any Fire Emblem game. And all the Fire Emblem games I have started playing were the handheld games. I have never tried a console Fire Emblem. Then again, the Switch is a hybrid; both console and handheld.

Nevertheless, when Spring 2019 rolls around, the game will finally hit the shelves. You can count on it that I’ll have some budget to spare to get myself a copy of this game and give it a try. I want to give this Fire Emblem game a try. Maybe this is the game that convinces me even more that I should finish all the other Fire Emblem games in my collection.

 #7 – Final Fantasy remakes (Switch)

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IGN article

I know for a fact that there are going to be people that are not going to like the following confession from me. I have never finished a Final Fantasy game in my life. I have started a few of them but I haven’t gotten into them at all.

I have Final Fantasy 7 on Steam and I have Final Fantasy X and X-2 on the PS2. I also played a few Final Fantasy remakes on my DS but I haven’t gotten further than the introduction chapters.

They are all extremely interesting and I loved my time playing them but I always got distracted with other games. So, I’m going to grab my chance to change that in 2019. A few of the biggest titles of the Final Fantasy series are getting a HD facelift and are coming to the Nintendo Switch. So, I can take these games on the go and finally finish them. Now, let’s hope I don’t get distracted by other games on my backlog or coming out in 2019.

#6 – Etrain Odyssey Nexus (3DS)

Etrain Odyssey NexusOfficial site

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Etrain Odyssey series on the Nintendo DS and 3DS. When I learned that Etrain Odyssey 5 was going to be last game in the series on the 3DS, I was disappointed yet I was very understanding. There isn’t a good way to actually re-create the gameplay on another system then on the DS or 3DS. Well, you could argue that tablets could work, but still…

Now, the gameplay isn’t unique at all. It’s a challenging dungeon crawler RPG like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or The Binding of Isaac. What sets this game apart is the fact that you don’t have random dungeons AND you have to draw your very own map. This makes the exploration so unique and personal. It’s highly possible that you miss a pathway because you drew a wall in that place.

But, Atlus gave me two big surprises this year. The first one was that the series is going to get a new life on another platform. Possibly the Nintendo Switch. Only a teaser has been published but I haven’t found to much more information.

The second big news was that Etrain Odyssey X, a game which I honestly thought would stay in Japan for ever, is coming to the west. And sooner than I thought. The game is going to release a bit short of my birthday. On the 5th of February. Man, I can’t wait to play this new entry into the series. Now, I still have to finish all the other games in the series but I’m just so happy that I will have more Etrain Odyssey content coming my way pretty soon. And yes, I pre-ordered myself a copy for my birthday already, which is the 7th of February.

#5 – Animal Crossing (Switch)

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Nintendo.co.uk microsite

Often when I was video’s of Nintendo YouTubers, they all have a story about playing a version of Animal Crossing on either the Gamecube, DS or Wii. I haven’t spent a lot of time with the Animal Crossing series until Animal Crossing New Leaf got released in 2012.

When I started playing the game, I started to understand how people love this series so much. To be honest, I started to fall into love with the series myself. I have spent countless hours on my 3DS manging my town, running errands and doing favors for my towns folk.

This year, I was able to add Animal Crossing: City Folk to my collection. Well, here in Belgium it’s called “Animal Crossing – Let’s Go To Town”. While I didn’t have a lot of time this year to play a game like Animal Crossing, I’ll have more time in 2019 to give the new Animal Crossing title a go and explore the new town I’m going to build.

The reason I love the series so much is that it provides a more relaxing experience. It’s a game I can play to wind down after all the more action packed games or the events in my day. So, I’m looking forward to the version on the Nintendo Switch. And I’m convinced that I’ll see even more people playing their Nintendo Switch on the train once it’s released.

#4 – BloodStained – Ritual of the Night (Multiplatform)

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Yes, I know. This game was also on my list last year. But the game hasn’t been released this year. It’s going to be released in 2019.

We got a spin-off mini-game under the title of BloodStained: Curse of the Moon this year, which I haven’t finished nor played yet.

I have explained in the article from 2017 why I’m so excited to play this game. I’m really looking forward to a new game in the Metroidvania style, since it’s one of my favorite genres and I really feel that not enough games are released in that style.

Now, here is hoping that the game doesn’t get another delay and that I’m able to play this game in 2019.

#3 – Town (Switch)

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Teaser from E3 (Thanks GameExplain)

A new game from the developers who brought us Pokémon? Where do I sign up? While an exact release date hasn’t been announced, I’m sure we going to see more of this game in the upcoming year.

There isn’t too much known about this game. The only things we know are from the teaser that we got in the E3 presentation of Nintendo this year.

Now, I’m getting the impression that this is going to be a sort of tower defense style game. A game where you need to develop a village so you can get the right skills and equipment to fend of the monsters that are going to attack your village. To a certain degree, the game reminds me a bit of Ever Oasis. Now, we will have to wait and see how this game is going to play and more details of the actual gameplay. But, I’m already quite interested after seeing the 40 second teaser.

#2 – Pokemon (Switch)

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So, GameFreak released Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee this year. Personally, I’m a bit mixed on the games. I feel that they made it too accessible and a bit too stripped down for my liking. Now, I’ll save that for my actual review of the game.

But, we were warned that Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee were going to be stripped down versions of the games. In 2019, we are going to get the next generation of Pokémon. My biggest hope is the new game will be more like the Pokémon games of the past like Sun & Moon and less like Pokémon Let’s Go.

Anyways, I think we will have to “wait and see” on this one. While I’m still quite excited for the new Pokémon generation, I have a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth because of Pokémon Let’s GO! But, I have faith in GameFreak. Let’s hope they don’t shame it.

#1 – Dragon Quest Builders 2 (Switch)

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Dragon Quest Wiki entry

This game is already released in Japan, but the western version is going to be released in the future. According to Forbes, the release date of this game will be somewhere in 2019.

If you have read my review of Dragon Quest Builders 1, I think it shouldn’t be a surprise to see this game on this list. I enjoyed the original game so much, I wanted to play more. And, next year I’ll get more.

While not everybody agrees with me on this, but I find that Dragon Quest Builders mixes the Dragon Quest formula perfectly with open world building games like Terreria and Minecraft.

In the sequel, I’ll be able to play with even more features and mechanics then the original. From swimming and waterfalls to gliding through the air. While I’m extremely tempted to watch let’s plays of the Japanese version, I have decided that I’m not going to watch nor read anymore on this game until it’s released. I want to be as spoiler free as possible. But, you can be sure that whenever this game releases here in the west, I’ll be playing it as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Closing words

So, 2019 is almost here. To my surprise, there aren’t a lot of games announced for 2019. I’m rather curious to see what next year is going to bring. I have a gut feeling that 2019 will be a slow year for gaming that’s going to build up for a special 2020. There are a few games in 2020 I’m also really hyped for like Age of Empires IV and Beyond Good and Evil 2.

Then again, 2019 hasn’t started yet. It’s quite possible that a lot of games are going to be announced and that 2019 will still be an amazing year for gaming after all. Only time will tell.

In any case, I’m not going to ramble too much here. 2018 was an interesting year for me, but 2019 shows a lot of promise and I’m looking forward to the challenges that’s life going to throw my way in the upcoming year. Of course, I’ll still be playing games and you will still be able to read about my adventures on my blog. So, thank you for taking your time into 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.

Publishing: The Riddle of the Sphinx: The Awakening in HD on mobile devices – Kickstarter

Explore the Great Pyramid and SOLVE the Riddle of the Sphinx: The Awakening in HD on mobile devices and more!

Jeff and Karen Tobler, along with Charlie and Marta Tobler, their son and daughter in law, are “rebuilding” the Giza Sphinx and Great Pyramid — one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — in enhanced HD resolution in newly rendered, breathtaking environments. The adventuring family has turned to Kickstarter to fund their epic Historical Egyptian adventure re-make.

MOSELLE (SAINT LOUIS), Missouri, Nov 1, 2017 — Old World Studios announced the launch of Riddle of the Sphinx: The Awakening. Husband and wife teams, Jeff and Karen Tobler, along with Charlie and Marta Tobler, have turned to Kickstarter (https://riddleofthesphinx.com/kickstarter-launch) to fund this epic Egyptian adventure.

Riddle of the Sphinx is an epic adventure game that takes the player through the compelling archaeological ruins and history of ancient Egypt while uncovering age-old mysteries surrounding the Great Pyramid and Sphinx.  Players of all ages will have access to amazing life-like 3D environments in this larger than life archaeological adventure game.

Set within and around the ancient Egyptian monuments, Riddle of the Sphinx is backed by years of extensive research and painstaking recreation of the existing Giza Plateau, Great Sphinx, and Great Pyramid — one of the existing Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Major levels of the game involve exploring real-life archaeological finds, then taking those discoveries to the next level. Players assume their role as close friend and confidant of famous archaeologist Sir Gil Blythe Geoffreys as he excavates the site of the Sphinx. The tale begins as Sir Geoffreys realizes he has unwittingly unleashed an ancient curse while translating a key scroll. Sir Geoffreys dies, and the scroll mysteriously disappears. The player’s task is to locate the missing scroll, finish Sir Geoffrey’s translation, and solve the time-worn puzzle before . . . well, we won’t spoil the intricately woven plot.

What took the ancient Egyptians half a million workers and decades of grueling manual labor to complete, Jeff and Karen originally completed in just under 6 years. But now, they are utilizing the latest in 3d rendering software to create absolutely stunning settings for the game’s epic storyline, bringing an even more realistic immersive experience to exploring the Sphinx and Great Pyramid, as well as the huge scope of historical discoveries including hidden corridors, lost tombs, and secret chambers that tie to a larger mystery… a riddle.

“One aspect of Riddle of the Sphinx that intrigued me was the age-range of players who were impacted. It surprised us that parents were playing with their children, older house-bound players could ‘escape’ through the game and even long-distance engaged couples played over the phone. It was really encouraging that Riddle of the Sphinx was the tool for people to share time with each other and create lasting memories. We are excited to see new relationships forged and more memories made with the new real-time 3d version,” said Karen Tobler, Co-Creator of Riddle of the Sphinx.

“Riddle of the Sphinx is the ultimate Egyptian adventure game with realistic megalithic monuments, lost tombs, hidden corridors, and sacred artifacts pointing to solving the Riddle of the Sphinx… it’s a game where everyone can become the adventuring archaeologist that we all secretly want to be,” shared Jeff Tobler, co-developer of Riddle of the Sphinx.

Old World Studios is offering unique Kickstarter pledge rewards to backers of the Riddle of the Sphinx: The Awakening.

For more information visit https://riddleofthesphinx.com/ or their Kickstarter campaign https://riddleofthesphinx.com/kickstarter-launch

About Old World Studios

Old World Studios is the adventure game division of LifeTree Group, LLC (originally Omni Creative Group, Int’l). In 1994, the husband-wife team, Jeff, and Karen Tobler began work on Riddle of the Sphinx, a project that started as a means to virtually explore the Giza Plateau, Great Sphinx, and Great Pyramid. The story grew to include the fulfillment of the many theories, lore, and myths of secret chambers, hidden corridors, and lost treasure associated with the Great Pyramid — the response was phenomenal! Riddle of the Sphinx and its sequel The Omega Stone continue to be sold and played worldwide.

Game Music: My Favorites – Numbero 14: My week off!

eJa4GArMore articles about gaming music

So, I got a week off last week. I was planning to relax, but I did a lot of other things. From family stuff to studying and working for my evening classes. I also got sick in the last few days. Which is a major bummer since I could have done a bit more if I was less sick. In any case, I think it’s time to write another article about gaming music. Also, thank you Kitami for providing me with this art. I was planning to use it a while ago for a new series I had in mind, but I kind of put it on hold. In any case… If you are new to this series of mine, I listen a lot to game music. It keeps me focused at work and it can cheer me up when I’m down. I try to avoid duplicates on this list. Also, one track per franchise per article. For example, no two Zelda tracks in one article… But in two, just fine. Also, no remixes except when I tell otherwise in the introduction. So, are you ready for a few tracks that are lately playing quite a lot for me…? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the music and or the games. 

Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC) ~ Dark Giana Track 2

Giana-Sisters-reviewFirst Impression

I wasn’t lying in my first impression article. The music in this game is truly amazing. It wasn’t an easy one to pick just one track from this game’s soundtrack.

After some time deciding, I chose this one. Just the mix of chiptune and rock vibe is mind blowing. If only I could play guitar and play this track. But that won’t be for any time soon, since I couldn’t even play the flute back in high school.

Why did I choose this track? Well, because it reminded me a lot of the original game. It might be a re-imaging but damn, the remake of this track is truly well done. Also, I’m still surprised how they were able to mix elements of chiptune and rock so well together.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations (DS) ~  Objection! 2004

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I’m disappointed at Capcom for cancelling the Ace Attorney spin off. Well, not exactly cancelling. The Great Ace Attorney. Oh well, I hope I can find a playthrough with English subtitles somewhere on the internet. Thankfully, they are bringing Ace Attorney 6 to the west.

I once tried to write a rant about Japanese games never getting a western release, but it didn’t turn out that well. Because I was listing to this nicely made track from the Ace Attorney series.

That reminds me, I should write an article about the Ace Attorney games I didn’t take a look at yet. I’ll put that on my ever growing list of games I want to review or write about.

In any case, I don’t think I need to explain why this is one of my favorite game series. Go dig around on my blog, you will find a couple of articles why I think this is one of the best series ever.

Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ Blue Bird Lamentation

Virtues_Last_RewardReview

This. Song. It gets me every time. Just like the “Don’t Say Goodbye” songs at the end of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon… The writing, the atmosphere and the presentation make this a hard to swallow track. Then, they add a track like this. It will play with your feelings. And it will give it a hard slap. Not once, but at least twice.

Just play this game and when you get to this point, when the song plays… You will understand why I’m saying this. I wrote this part of the article at least three times since each and every time, I just wrote the same thing twice. The emotions that this music triggers is just that strong to me.

It’s a damn shame I forgot about this amazing track in all my other game music articles. But I have another “excuse” to talk about this track. They finally, FINALLY announced the sequel and it’s coming to the west! Heaven YES!

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS) ~ Boss Theme One

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Now, here is a game I really should play again one day. It’s a game I nearly finished before somehow I lost my save file. If I remember correctly, I stupidly saved while I was in a new game. Yeah, that mistake. All those hours in a RPG, lost.

Well, back in 2012, there was an article floating around that there might be a new Golden Sun in the making if the fans asked for it. I’m really curious if the developers are making a new Golden Sun title. It would give me a reason to play the games. This is one of the games I always want to play but another game comes and distracts me. But I’m sure, one day I will actually play this game again. I’m sure of it!

Oh yeah… The music. I nearly forgot. The music of the first boss was the most memorable to me. Recently, I got the tune back in my head for some reason… It might be a sign. A sign that I need to play this game.

Age of Empires 2 (PC) ~ Music 10

1362731523First Impression

Well, recently I replayed Age Of Empires II HD Edition with my friends. Various memories came back to me. Memories from playing sessions when I played a lot of this game and memories from when I played this game with my sister.

This game was a big part of my childhood. I always played some singleplayer maps where I tried to conquer my enemies with various tactics. The “funny” thing is that I’m really bad in choosing what units are effective. So, yes, I’m not that good at the game. But I still had and I’m still having a lot of fun with this game. Now, I only wish that they make a remake of the original Age Of Empires game for Steam. That would be a real blessing. Now, I have to use my retro game PC to play the original.

In any case, I think that this song is one of my favorites. Oh, if you wonder about the name… I wasn’t able to find the names of each track. Somehow I wasn’t able to find the original names of this track. If you know, feel free to leave me a comment and I will fix it in my article.

Oh, and the new upcoming content for this series makes me almost forget that we, most likely, will never see Age Of Empires 4.

Wrapping up

I used this article to also talk a bit about announcements of games that are coming to us. Games that I’m truly excited about. Just today, I learned about Age Of Mythology’s new expansion pack. I linked an article from the official website. Also, are they creating a new expansion pack for Age Of Empires II HD?

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully, you guys and girls discovered some new and nice music to listen too. In any case, I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, game on~.

Eighth Gen Talk – Continued Thoughts and MGS2

A while ago I wrote a 1600 word behemoth talking about my thoughts on the current generation of games consoles and the state of gaming. I recently played a game that made me feel even more strongly about this. Basically, it concerns the second-to-last paragraph talking about innovation in games. I’d like to talk just a little more about that. I promise: this article will be a little shorter.

Image result for firewatchThis all started last week when I was talking to my cousin about the seventeen minute gameplay video of Firewatch. That game looks incredible. Even if it’s not open world and more linear than it appears, I cannot wait for it to come out. If you don’t know what Firewatch is, I’ll briefly explain. It’s a game about you, some guy, starting a job as a forest overseer in the eighties, and things happen in the woods which you have to deal with. The gameplay video looks like I could absolutely loose myself in that world.

After our discussion about the video, I talked about my favourite game series of all time: Metal Gear. It had been a while since I played through all games, but I picked it up a few weeks ago and I’m up to Metal Gear Solid 2 as of now. Even though I have played this game several times, I was really intrigued by it this time. It has never been one of my favourites in the series, but in light of recent developments in the gaming industry, I now look at it with a whole fresh perspective.

The first section of the game takes place on a large tanker ship. It is here that I started to pay more attention to the game’s mechanics, looks and details than before. The first thing was the lighting. This game uses dynamic lights and shadows in many places. When the enemy is close to you and the flash light on their weapons shine on you, it appears like there are light shafts and your body interacts with it. I am sure this isn’t a true volumetric light source, since that technology was not in place in the early 2000’s and is very computationally intensive, but it still looks impressive. Especially considering this game was released in 2001. Let that sink in for a second. That’s fourteen years ago.

Sure, this game doesn’t have the most incredible graphics by today’s standards, but at the time (and especially for an early PS2 game), this game looked incredible. Frankly, I still think it does. It has an aesthetic, which is more important than graphics, and it’s what a lot of modern AAA-games seem to miss.

Truly impressive, though, are the details. On this tanker is a crew lounge filled with lovely little details that make the worlds feel so much richer. There’s a plasma TV playing and when you shoot it, it breaks. The screen doesn’t just go blank; it starts to go black in a circle around where the bullet hit and goes outwards until the whole screen is black. A magazine rack is also present. If you shoot the individual magazines, they fall on the floor. They might be upside down, open or lying on the front page, and when shot again, they change position.

There’s a pane of bullet proof glass (seen above), but when shot about twenty times, it breaks into a million pieces. Again, like the TV, it starts to break where you last shot and it goes outwards from there. In the corner of the room is a bar (also seen above), stocked with glasses and bottles that all break and fall differently. Shoot at the plants, and leaves fall off and they wiggle.

Later on there is a boss battle with a female character named Fortune. The explosions in that fight cause the lights on the ceiling to swing, making the shadows on the ground change and again adding to the believability of this world.

These things are not new in modern games, but they were then. This game tried to push a new system further than any other game of its time. Mind you that this game did not compromise on its resolution and played at 60 frames per second. Knowing this, makes it look even more impressive.

The current generation seems to rely too heavily on things that have been established in the generation before (PS3/360), and to some extent even the one before that (PS2/Xbox). Aside from looking prettier, there seems to be little new. Little that is pushing better hardware, and that’s sad.

First Impression: Age Of Empires II HD (PC) ~ Age Of Kings

1362731523Steam page

There are many games that call on my nostalgia. But this game is something special. It actually really defined my childhood. I can even give proof of that, since I made it’s way in my personal top 10 most influential games list. When I saw on Steam that this game was getting a remake, I was honestly hyped. I couldn’t wait to play it and play through the game again. I prepared myself for a flood of memories and nostalgia when I finally was able to click the download button. How was it? Let’s take a look! Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this game and or the content of this article. 

 HD remake?

ss_f196e3b1c70038e09140f12aebcfdf0ef57915b0.600x338I honestly don’t get why they put HD in the title. Since nearly exactly everything looks like how I remember the game. To me, the game looks more like a remastered version of the game. Maybe better said, an updated version of the game so that it can run on modern systems more easily.

While I don’t use all the new features, like Twitch.TV streaming, I’m extremely happy that this game got to Steam. While I don’t play RTS games for the story or the campaigns, I find this a very enjoyable game.

If I ever review this game, it might be possible that I don’t comment on the story. Since I love the actual core gameplay of building a city and destroying my enemy. If somebody wonders what my skill level in this game is, I nearly always beat the standard AI but the moderate AI is just a bit too hard for me. I’m not one of the best Age Of Empires players, but I know what I’m doing.

What this game does good, in terms of story, is a tutorial campaign. It helps you understand the bare basics of the game. Step by step you get explained how the game works. But it’s more then just a tutorial, it’s a true campaign! And if you aren’t careful, you might face more challenge then you first expected. But I agree with the real veteran RTS players, the tutorial doesn’t fully prepare you for the actual game.

Make more villagers

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I have admitted it on Tumblr, I played this game more then I should have the last month with my great buddy MiseryLC. It’s one of the reasons why I didn’t write so many articles at the start of this month. This is a good sign for a first impression, no?

The core gameplay is about putting your villagers to work, building up an army and attack the enemy. Don’t get me wrong, these are three very different tasks. Now, when I play a multiplayer match, one trend keeps popping up.

I’m more of a defensive player. I nearly always gather the most resources. My buddy MiseryLC is more of the army guy. He makes a great army to easily invade the enemy. My army cleans up so that I can use that land to expand our economy.

This is how I enjoy playing this game. I always have trouble remembering which units are strong against which units, so I have to focus less on military. I truly think that playing with a friend brings a nice balance to the game. You can really play in the style you prefer.

One of my favorite civilizations are the Huns. Simply because of the fact that I don’t need to use one or two villagers to spam houses down. This saves time and mostly wood. This wood can be used to build a navy. Now, here is where one complaint raises, if there is a any water, the AI will use it. And they will start building a navy. In some cases, this led to big frustration because I wasn’t able to build any dock since it got destroyed just a few minutes after  I build it. Trying to have one fishing ship out in the sea… It’s kind of a suicide mission.

Polish

FarmingIn a later article I will talk more in depth about the music and graphics of this game. In this first impression of the game, I’ll mostly talk about the gameplay. (As I have been doing)

This game isn’t my favorite RTS game of all time. My favorite RTS game of all time is Rise Of Nations. While it’s different, some features could easily be ported over to Age of Empires. The biggest feature I would love to see make an appearance in Age Of Empires II HD is an auto-explore button for units. This would be really handy. Since the early stages of your game are crucial for the rest of the game.

But my biggest complaint is the reactions of the AI. When MiseryLC and I were playing, the AI would raise the alarm bell if one scout or one fishing ship was close to his dock. This is rather annoying. Also, when you ask him (or her) for resources, he always can never help. But if he does help, you get a laughable small amount. One match, I asked the AI to give me some food. I got some food and seconds later, he asks for food.

The most irritating of all is the placement of the buildings. I had moments when the AI started to build mine camps at locations where I had already mined out all the resources. In the end, the whole map could be filled with mining or woodcutter camps of your ally. This issue should really get looked into. Since it’s extremely annoying. One time it nearly made me loose the game since my units couldn’t arrive in time to save some important and strategic placed walls.

Anyways, I think I will leave it here with my complaining. I can’t deny that this game needs some additional bug fixing. This game might not be in early access, but that doesn’t mean that this game is 100% ready. The connection issues can surely prove that.

In any case, I think I’ll leave it here. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I prepared writing it. If you don’t get how the gameplay works while you were interested in the game, feel free to ask me about the game in the comments. Since I already recommend this game to every RTS or Strategy player. Yeah. Anywhoooo, I hope to see you in a next article! Take care~

First Impressions: Castlevania – Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Shadow (3DS) ~ It’s Just Fun!

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Wikipedia entry

So, my best wishes for the holidays. I have something special to announce. I got myself a wireless controller for my PC. That means that I can now play even more games than before. In addition to that, it’s the 50th article I publish on ButtonSmashers. Yes, 50th! And I’m nearing a big number on my personal blog as well. So, I’m extremely thrilled about that. But this is totally beside the point, I told you guys that I wouldn’t write any new article in 2013. I kinda lied. This is a new article, I guess. While I’m waiting for a download to finish to use my controller on, I played a bit of this game on my 3DS. It’s surprisingly better then I expected it in the first place. That’s why I decided to write an article about it. It would be lovely if you left a comment with your thoughts on this article and or on this game. So, let’s go. 

Story

castlevaniamofs.jpgIt’s going to be a shame to admit this but I know next to nothing about the story in the Castlevania series. It’s a shame really since I quite enjoy the Castlevania games. It’s actually Castlevania game I’m waiting on downloading on Steam.

The story, for as far I can understand, is pretty thrilling. The writing is pretty neat. I think it’s brilliantly written.

While I was thrown off at first by the presentation of the cutscenes, when I placed my 3D slider to the max I actually rather enjoyed the art style.

From what I have heard, this game will take place from different points of view. You don’t have to tell that to me twice to know that I’m going to play an excellent story. I have played multiple RPG’s from Konami and I was never let down by the story.

The voice acting. Wow. I mean, it just blows my mind how good it was. And actually still it. In the cutscenes, the voices add so much to the game. Yet, I’m under the impression that the game sometimes has a bit of a slowdown in the cutscenes with the 3D slider on. But that might just be me though.

“Mash”

castlevaniamo4Let me be clear on this, I hate button mashers with a passion. It broke the shoulder buttons of my original DS and I’m still kinda pissed about that. Yet, I’m glad that I learned my lesson and I don’t have to make other devices suffer the same fate.

ButtonSmashers don’t demand skill. In a sense they do, the skill to be able to tap a button very rapidly. While this game sometimes has it quick time events and it’s “mash the attack button” moments, I never really felt that they were a “mashing fest”.

Since when you aren’t careful, you’ll die. And in typical Castlevania style, the hearts don’t give back your health. You have to find fountains. And they aren’t close together. You have to react quickly and try to save your health.

In terms of controls, it’s acceptable. It’s one of the more weaker points in the game. While there is no “tutorial”, the controls are displayed briefly on the screen. So, experienced players won’t be annoyed by them.

While researching for the article, I came across an article on this game which called the combat one of the negatives. Well, here lies a problem. Since this game is a sequel to a 3D game, the combat is, of course, less bloody and such. I give them that, yet when you look at how this game works well in terms of combat as a 2D game, I think it can be excused.

Yet, something I didn’t welcome with open hands is the fact that when you die, you can get respawned in a boss fight with full health. Yeah, when you killed the boss halfway, you will respawn there.

Verdicts

castlevaniamof2Besides the weird respawning, there is something else that bothers me. The animation isn’t that great in my opinion. And before you write angry comments, let me explain.

The animation on the characters and such is great. Yet, we can’t really enjoy it that well since it’s a bit too zoomed out. It makes the game feel unfinished and that they use this technique to hide that.

While I already said that the controls aren’t the greatest, I have to talk a bit more about them. After you got used to them, they are pretty nice quality. The big issue is the fact that you need to get used to them. I wished that special powers could be done with a touch on the touchscreen.

The game is a good challenge. It isn’t too hard to be frustrating, but it isn’t too easy. This is a pureblood action adventure game. And the adventuring is really present. While you can easily see where to go next, exploring around gives you additional content. And more monsters to fight.

Defeated monsters give you XP. And when you level up, when you have enough XP of course, you unlock new moves. You can quickly check the moves list in your inventory so you have no excuse that you forgot the controls when you didn’t play the game for a while.

Also, Konami didn’t use any excuses in the art style. The game is pretty. Too bad that the game is a bit zoomed out. Otherwise, the art would have more detail in them and shined through a bit more.

I’ll probably go more in depth with my review but I’m liking this game so far. The music is also really nice. I like the soundtrack. Such a shame that no real good quality versions are uploaded to YouTube, so I could share it with you guys. In the sound department, this game is really well put together.

So in conclusion, this game would have been a lot better with some minor tweaks at the controls and a bit more zoomed in. But I think I’m going to leave it here. When I’m reaching that milestone on my personal blog, I’ll write a long special article. Thanks for reading and have a safe Christmas.

Let’s look at: The Stanley’s Parable

TSP-beginagain

Official website

This is a story about a Neko. This Neko’s name is Jonez. He works at a website and all he did was writing articles, by pushing buttons. He was employee number 427. In his office he had a screen where a game was displayed so he could push buttons to write an article. The screen also gave hints in how long he had to press the buttons and how many times. But one day, no order came on the screen for more then a hour. He was confused, asking for comments to what people thought of this game or this article, but because he found nobody, he had to wait for comments…

Un-reviewable

stanley parable 1Did the introduction interest you? Confuse you? Good. Since this game isn’t one I can review. Since this game is an experiment. And a great one. It’s one of those experiences you have to have. And if you play the different versions, you’ll get a different experience every time. The original source mod and the HD remake differ a lot.

This game started as a “simple” mod. Yet, since PewDiePie played this game, it’s popularity sky-rocketed of course. And it’s worth it. This game has a great story. A special one, one I really like. One where your chooses make you have a different ending. Virtue’s Last Reward and various other games come to mind then.

Yet, the demo of this game doesn’t even give the correct impression. While it indeed gives the right impression for the newly updated graphics and the style of the game, it’s nothing really like the full game.

Difficult to review

imagesWhen I release this article, a friend of mine over at ButtonSmashersBlog has his birthday. And his nickname surely explains what this game is. TheThinker (linking to his Twitter), I wish thou a happy birthday man. And if you really want a game that challenges your thinking abilities, play this one.

So, why is this difficult to review? Truth being told, this game can be beaten in under 5 minutes. Yet, there are different endings. To achieve all endings, you have to think outside of the box.

But the game is an experience. It’s different for everybody. And with the lack of many music tracks and only good graphics, great controls and an amazing story, you can’t really write a review without spoiling it too much. The only controls are moving and clicking on buttons. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

I do wish that this game got a more lengthy sequel. The game is short. The achievements on Steam do help it having some replay value but you’ll be done with it after a week or so. Yet, don’t worry, it’s a game you will never forget.

Mod to HD.

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This game actually started out as a mod for Source. Then this game got a HD remix. With there first of all a demo and secondly the full game. I have beaten all three multiple times. And I enjoyed them a lot.

While the mod and the HD remake are very similar, there are things you can only find in the Source mod and things you can only find in the HD remake. If you ask me which one is the best, I prefer the HD remake better. Since it’s a bit more funny and it has more references to itself. In addition, the menu is amazingly designed.

Yet, the HD remake has a major issue. When you alt+tab out of the game, going back into the game is a major issue. It crashed on me then several times. Also, I’m disappointed that the game doesn’t have an overview of all endings you already got. Like the ending room at one ending, I would have loved to have seen it in all the endings.

The demo is a different beast all together. It’s a special thing. It’s self-aware and it makes fun of itself. The game is extremely funny and worth playing through. If you want to have the real experience, I truly advice that you watch the trailers as well. Those make fun of Let’s Players and the usual angry “YOUR GAME SUCKS” letters.

Yet, the mod version of this game has it’s charm playing for it. It’s free and you really get the great taste of the Stanley Parable. The artwork isn’t made for the game though, so it’s more with the assests of the engine. But hey, it’s used extremely well. No complaints there. And even a reference to the engine itself was extremely clever.

Final thoughts

StanleyParableTestChamber610

I have done my utter best in this article to not spoil things to much. Yet, I have told hopefully enough to raise your awareness to give this game a shot. Really, try spending your pocket money on this game instead of the latest Pokémon or Call of Duty we are all waiting for so much.

You won’t regret it, go in it with a fresh mind. And let the game guide you pushing buttons. Don’t go all “WTF AM I PLAYING?!”, yet let it sink in. Relax and enjoy the ride. And honestly, the first time I played the full game, I played on for more then a hour. But keep in mind that the game was able to be beaten in 5 minutes. Yup, that happened.

To conclude this article, I can’t write a full review of this game. While the inner workings like the alt+tabbing needs some improvement in the game, it gets from me the full 100/100. Agreed, it’s not a perfect game at all, considering it’s length. Yet, this is a game you must play. One you must experience to truly understand that this game is a gem. One of a kind, something you won’t see in a while. Play all three of the games. The demo, full game and the mod. Two of them are even free so you don’t have an excuse there! And the full game is 10 euro’s here in Europe, so if you come to truly dislike it, you haven’t lost so much money. But thanks for reading, a happy birthday to theThinker, and I hope to see you another time here!