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Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

downloadToday I want to talk about something extremely objective subjective. Something not a lot of people agree on. That subject is the difficulty in games. This isn’t unique to video gaming, since other entertainment mediums can be difficult to understand, analyze or appreciate. But, difficulty is one of the most important factors in gaming. In order to write this article, I have asked in various groups what their opinions about game difficulty are. Are games today too easy? Are difficult games fun to play? Are old school games too difficult? I got some extremely interesting replies. Now, if you have your own opinion on this subject, I would love to talk about it in the comment section down below. Of course, keep it civil down there, everybody has a different opinion.

My own views on game difficulty.

Keep in mind that the following thoughts and opinions are mine. It’s quite possible that you think in a different way due to your different experiences in gaming and/or life. Like I said in the introduction of this article, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions on the content of this article and or the subject. With that out of the way, on with the show.

Now, with such a broad subject as game difficulty, it’s quite tricky to give a full opinion. In the introduction alone, I gave a few different angles I could take this article. In addition to that, this subject is extremely subjective. For example, I’m not rhythmic at all. When I talk about the DS, a lot of people talk about games like Elite Beat Agents, a rhythm game. I have to admit that I find this game too difficult.

pokemon goFirst of all, let’s talk about a sentence you often hear us older players say: “Games today are too easy.” Are they really too easy? Well, they became easier in one way but more challenging too. For example, take the Pokémon games. When Game Freak remade the 3rd generation on Nintendo 3DS, one of the biggest complaints was that the game was too easy. And yes, I finished the game without losing 3 battles during the whole playthrough and 2 of these loses were because I wasn’t paying attention during the battle and forgot to heal my Pokémon and the other loss was because I forgot that grass was weak to flying and I most had grass Pokémon in a flying gym. Whoops.

photoNow, why do I think that games can be too easy now-a-days? That’s has two reasons. The first reason is because games just got more accessible. Because the growth of the hobby, a lot more people play video games. So, there need to be ways for every style of player to play video games, even the youngest ones. Thankfully, you have difficulty options that can provide the other players with some additional challenge. Sadly enough, not all games do this. In most games, the difficulty settings have a small explanation to what each level means.

And this brings me to the second reason why games are too easy now-a-days and that’s skill. I have been playing games since I was a young lad. I started playing games give or take 21 years ago. During these years, I have played a TON of games and got a TON of different experiences. That means I have seen quite a lot and the chances of a puzzle stumping me or a fight being too difficult get slimmer with every game I play.

Is this a bad thing? Depends on what you are looking for in a game. Do you want a game that challenges your strategizing skills or the ability to solve puzzles than the lower difficulty can be a problem. If you are looking for a game to play to pass the time, in that case the drop in difficulty shouldn’t matter that much.

resident evil 4It’s always a difficult balancing act in how difficult you make your game. Since if a game is too difficult, people will stop playing. A great example for me is Resident Evil 4. There is a section in that game where during an already hectic fight, two chainsaw enemies spawn that kill you instantly when they come to close. There were three times that one of those enemies actually spawned right behind me, giving me no time nor room to turn around and defend myself. These moments I actually rage quitted the game. Another example is Atelier Rorona. The amount of depth in this game is just insane. You have to think about so many things like the freshness of ingredients, how long it takes to collect them and get them home, the amount of MP you have to fight and or craft… It was quite challenging to balance all of these things.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedThat brings me to the question, what makes a game difficult and how difficult should a game be? It speaks for itself that how more layers of gameplay and mechanics you add, the more difficult a game becomes. Take Europa Universalis 4 for example. In this grand strategy game, there are so many mechanics; it’s not even funny anymore. The complexity of a game can turn some people off. I would love to play Europe Universalis 4 with more people but most of my friends don’t understand how the game works or get too scared when they hear how many things they need to think about while playing the game.

In a way, the difficulty of a game can limit your audience. I would love to play a game like Cuphead, but from what I have seen and tried, the game is a bit too much for me. I don’t really like games that depend on memorization or trying over and over again. This makes the game boring and repetitive in my eyes. For me personally, I want to have a great time while I’m playing games. I want some parts to be challenging and test the skills I learned during the game and I want some sections to be easy to play through so I can relax and enjoy the game.

SI_NDS_NewSuperMarioBrosDS_image1600wA game series that nailed difficulty in my opinion are the Super Mario World games. In these games, you learn by playing the game. You might have heard this explanation in various other video’s or articles but if you haven’t heard it yet, allow me to explain. At the start of the level, you are able to experiment with a new level mechanic in a safe area. One where you can easily avoid the enemies and you don’t have death pits. And the further you go in the level, the more challenging the mechanic or level gimmick becomes. And during the later and last stages of the game, all the challenges are combined into one big final set of levels that test your skills and what you learned through the game. In a way, you can compare it to school. The early levels and sections are the classes while the later levels and finale of the game is the final test/exam.

Now, should games become “NES-hard” again? To be honest, I think we shouldn’t do that. In the current gaming climate, we get a lot of games inspired by the more challenging nature of older games and we also get easier games. That means we have options. Now, were all old school games difficult? Were games more challenging in the past? Well, that’s a tricky question to answer.

Tomb Raider LegendFor example, I grew up with the original Tomb Raider games. When I play these games today, I don’t have a lot of trouble with jumping from platform to platform. Of course, due to the limitations of the systems at the time, it wasn’t always clear to which ledge you should jump and how you should make that jump. In more recent games, the better visual presentation helps out with that problem a lot. This “issue” became clear when I did the Tomb Raider project. Some people in that collaboration had never played an old school Tomb Raider game and gave it a try for the first time. And because they were more used to the newer style of the series or the newer style of play in more modern games, they had trouble during the game.

Something I often got during me search for writers in the Tomb Raider project was: “Also the old Tomb Raider games that aged poorly?” or something similar. I completely agree that the original Tomb Raider games aged poorly. The newer Tomb Raider games, and not per se the more modern games, play better because the developers improved their craft and learned a lot from developing the previous entries in the series.

I don’t find all retro inspired games that difficult. I was able to beat some without much trouble like Blossom Tales or Retro Game Challenge. While I did had some trouble in Shovel Knight because I haven’t played a lot of games similar to that.

When I was researching and brainstorming for this article, I came to conclusion that there are 4 types of difficulty in my eyes.

The first type is intended difficulty. This is planned by the developers to challenge you during the game. Think about a Zelda dungeon where you get a new item in a dungeon and you have to learn to use it or remember the places where you were unable to progress and needed to use the item.

The second type is unintended difficulty. This was unplanned difficulty due to bugs, randomness (like RNG or random generation) or just plain bad game design. Or it can be because of things like certain mechanics. For example, a lot of people complained when Super Mario 64 DS came out. While it’s a good remake, the controls weren’t loved by various reviews because the original game was designed with a joystick in mind while the DS didn’t have a joystick.

The first two types can be mixed with the other two types.

The third type is fair difficulty. With this I mean, the game provides you with a challenging and rewarding experience. Like, you finally figured out how to beat that one puzzle or beat that one boss.

The forth type of difficulty is , you guessed it, unfair difficulty. Now, this can be because of bad and or lazy game design but this can also be a huge spike in difficulty. A great example is Suikoden Tierkreis for me. Overall, the game is somewhat easy. If you don’t skip too many battles and pay attention to what you are doing, the game isn’t all too challenging. I rarely to never saw the game over screen. Until, I came at the final boss. This annoying battle gets such a difficulty spike made me not fully finish the game and actually look up the ending online. Now, while writing this article, I actually restarted playing the game and I’m hell bent in finally beating the game this time.

The more difficulty of type 2 and 4 you have, the worse it becomes for your game. One time a developer asked me to review an Android game. In this game, you had to feed various foods to some customers. The issue was, all of the dishes were based on Asian dishes and I’m European. I barely know anything about the Asian cuisine. The unfair difficulty in this game is that almost nothing was explained in the game about the foods themselves. So, I was unable to figure out which food was what, so it became a guessing game.

Another example of unfair difficulty is more recent. A developer asked me to review a Switch game they just released. The game is a twin stick shooter and in the shooting tutorial, there were two spawners in the room that spawned so many enemies so quickly, it became overwhelming. You shouldn’t put so many enemies in the first level of your game while the player is still learning the basic mechanics of the game. That’s unfair.

headerDoes a game like Dark Souls have unfair difficulty? Well no, the game is quite balanced in my opinion. There is a lot of risk and reward gameplay, the punishment is just a bit too harsh in my opinion. But the game becomes beatable when you learn the finer details of the game and get used to the inner workings of the game.

The line and difference between the four types is really thin and makes it still personal. Speaking of personal, some people talk proudly when they were able to beat a certain game on the highest difficulty. While that is impressive, you shouldn’t look down upon people having trouble on the lower difficulties. While my gaming buddy MiseryLC can beat the AI in Europe Universalis IV on hard, I feel that the normal difficulty provides just enough challenge for me.

I think it would be a great development if all games have difficulty sliders. The more you can adjust the difficulty, the better. Something I really loved in the Etrian Odyssey series is that you can change the difficulty setting when you are in the town without any other punishments. This is great, because when I was unable to beat a certain boss and almost stopped playing, I was able to lower the difficulty a bit so I was able to beat the boss and move on. After I had beaten the boss, I set the difficulty back on normal. This is a perfect system since people can choose how easy or hard you want the game to be.

Now, I have said quite a lot about the topic now. To avoid this article becoming a bit too long or having too much rambling, I think it’s time to let some of my friends talk. I want to thank everybody for their input since they helped me quite a lot while putting my thoughts together for this article.

How others think about difficulty.

Now, I asked around on various groups on Discord and Facebook on their opinions on game difficulty. Here is what they have to say. Note, some quotes I translated from Dutch to English. Some quotes had minor edits since sometimes contained an answer to another topic in the conversation or something in those lines.

The following quotes come from a Facebook group where Belgian retro game collectors gather.

Ward: “Some games are pretty challenging due to their difficulty like Slain and Cuphead. But other games hold your hand, but that doesn’t always take away from the fun of the game. It really depends on the game and how enjoyable the story is.”

Hakim: “Sometimes a too difficult game can be really frustrating. And out of this frustration, the game can go on my shelves to be never played again.”

Kenny: “Personally, I think that the player should have a choice how difficult the game should be. Some games I play personally for the story and not for an extreme challenge.”

Mayu: “For me, a game can never be too difficult. I’ll play until the end as long as the difficulty, challenge, story and such are fun. It already happened that I was disappointed when I bought a new game and I finished it without issue. The solution for this is lately, collection or completion rewards. Some of them are really letdowns. In the past, gaming was a very niche hobby. When a game was too difficult, you just had to try and try again. But, now that gaming isn’t a niche hobby anymore, the difficult games don’t sell that well anymore. And with companies trying to make as much profit as possible…”

Koen: “Making a game extremely difficult is no issue for me. As long as all the elements of the game are fun, it doesn’t matter to me. I really enjoy the rewarding feeling of finally being able to beat a game at the highest difficult setting after trying on it for weeks and seeing the real/true ending. But, when the story is garbage and I have to replay the game on a harder difficulty setting, I won’t be spending my time on a new playthrough.”

Niels: “As long as a game stays fair, it’s worth my time. Nowadays, there are a lot of games that are too easy for everybody to play. From endless tutorial sections to special power-ups when you die a lot and sometimes even a skip button, these are just a few things that you find more and more in modern games. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as they are optional or are disabled by higher difficulty settings. Something I really want to stress, a game that is too difficult thanks to bad enemy placement, terrible controls or bad decisions is a bad game.”

Xavier: “I prefer easier games. There are a lot of games that are quite enjoyable to play. It doesn’t matter to me if games are shorter, I usually buy them at a lower price after they have been released for a while. It’s better then having to play a game where you have to retry a section 20 times to finish it.”

Dennis: “I usually start a game on normal mode. Depending on my experience, I raise or lower the difficulty. So, this means that I play some games on easy, some on normal and some on the hardest difficulty. I don’t really enjoy games where you respawn a thousand times before you can continue and especially when you have the same issue 10 minutes later in the next section. If I enjoyed the game enough, I might replay it on a higher difficulty setting. Most of the games interest me for somewhere between 10 to 20 hours. But, this is absolutely not the case for me with Final Fantasy games.”

The following opinions are from fellow bloggers or friends in the blogging world.

Aiphafemaie: “A couple thoughts – I think games felt more difficult in the past because you had to rely more on yourself to figure out how to pass levels or quests. Or printing out walkthroughs from GameFaqs.com lmao.  Now when you’re stuck, you can just to YouTube and see how it’s done. I don’t think games were more difficult in the past, but “difficult” is a subjective word.  Today’s games do have varying difficulty modes, in comparison to the past. Before most games could only be played on default.”

TwoTall4uFool: “I think there was a lot of trial and error with games back in the 80’s and 90’s. Even in the 2000’s. Aiphafemaie you bring up a great point about GameFaqs but there are some games out there that I would’ve never beaten if it wasn’t for Game Genie/Gameshark. Today in games you have tutorials and of course there is YouTube. And even with plug and plays such as the SNES Classic you can rewind and try a part again if you fail. And plus suspend you point. So emulating older games have made them easier ….. sort of.”

ReaperInteractive: “I agree with @aiphafemaie . Games in the past had no clear instructions or clear, “Go here to pass to the next level.” Games nowadays are a lot more direct and I feel that developers intentianally make these instructions extremely clear as to make the game as playable and prevent people from giving up midway. A little more on the note. There have been games where the instructions were so unclear that I literally had no clue what to do and ended up giving up. Another reason I feel that games nowadays are a lot easier is because we’ve played the same basic mechanic over and over again as to games in the past, there were hundreds of different mechanics. Most games nowadays can be grouped into a couple dozen genres with the same mechanic and controls. Contrary to this, I feel that games in the past are composed of hundreds of different genres, some completely new to the people hence why I feel that why games in the past are a tad more difficult than those of our age.”

The Well Red Mage: “I think that games can still pretty hard now, some of them, but there are new varieties of games now. There are brutal platformers as a subgenre now that are built on difficulty, but then there are also walking simulators and interactive movies now that eschew difficulty almost entirely. I think some would say that the difficulty of retro games was such that it was unfair, but I think that the lives systems and the memorization of patterns (two very retro-centric ideas of difficulty) are perfectly valid; we maybe just don’t have the toleration for them that we used to. Those games were still demanding something of the player (memory or timing). So I think this is a conversation that benefits from specifics like specific games and specific features in those games that bring difficulty into the equation (memorization, level design, limited options or limited chances to complete a challenge, longer periods without save features, increasing speed, item management, enemy AI… all those things are specific features that games then and now used and use to create difficulty).”

The Badly Backlogged Mage/MrBacklog: “I think the obvious-but-unhelpful answer is “as difficult as they need to be to convey the desired experience”. Dark Souls, the Walking Dead and Mario Party are all different in terms of difficulty because they’re going for different experiences.”

OverThinkerY: “I think there are different ways of adding difficulty – Backlogged makes a good point about those games being difficult in different ways as part of the experience. There’s perhaps the most classic sort of difficulty, which is reacting and executing the right series of inputs quickly enough to proceed, and then there are things more dependent on memory, ingenuity, or sheer emotional fortitude. I think there are more examples these days of different sorts of difficulty other than simply pressing buttons accurately, which might be down to better tech or just natural progression, but it enables different kinds of experiences to be made effective in that way.”

Mail Order Ninja Mage/Daniel Flatt: “Difficulty is the hardest thing to get right in video games. If you push back too hard you lose all but your most dedicated player, if you don’t present any challenge then moderately skilled players become bored. Like everyone said above it is drastically different depending on the game and furthermore the individual playing.

That being said games aren’t necessarily easier than they were before, but they have become better at not wasting our time. Games previously were artificially hard, first because checkpoints and saves weren’t a thing, and then because many NES games are a handful of hours long without constantly starting over. They had to have that difficulty to make the game worth it, can’t have Billy coming to you after an hour and asking for a new game. I dare anyone to play B side levels of Celeste and say games are easier, but the difference is you don’t have to play through the same 30 minutes over and over to finally get through something and die 20 seconds later to start all over.

The best games have difficulty determined by the player, Nintendo excels at this, but one of the best examples is Ori. It has a function where you basically create your own checkpoints or don’t, depending on your preference. It could be brutally hard, but if I get to try again right away for a certain section it wasn’t wasting my time making me play the same section a hundred times.”

Now, as you can read, the opinions are extremely diverse when it comes to difficulty. This brainstorm was extremely interesting to do. I honestly think that I’ll return to this topic in future. Before I close this article, I want to point you to an article created by Rob “I Played The Game” Covell that he wrote in 2017 about the same subject. “A Difficult Conversation”.

Closing off

Like I said in the previous paragraph, the conversation of how difficult a game could be or if games are too easy now-a-days gets quite diverse opinions. While this topic could be discussed for hours and the opinions will go in various directions, I think I’ll close off this article here. I’m quite curious what everybody thinks. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic on a later date.

If you have written or talked about this subject in the past or know a great resource like another article or video, feel free to send me a message with the link. Maybe I’ll included it in the next article. And with that said, I think I’ll really end off this article. Thank you everybody for helping me putting this article together. It was a blast. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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NekoJonez’s looking forward to these 10 games in 2019

2019.jpg

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)

010906d0a700ee6844aa683f70eadb2e-Much Better.jpg

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)

Desperados III.jpg

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)

animal crossing switch.jpg

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)

bloodstained

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)

Dragon Quest Builders II

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.

Gamer’s Thoughts: NekoJonez’s Top 10 Played Games of 2018

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2018 was an extremely strange year for me personally. A lot has happened in the past 12 months both good and bad. I have graduated this year. I’m now a bachelor in Computer Science – Networking. But on the other hand, I have gone through a lot of personal rough patches that did quite a number on my mental health. I’m slowly recovering and the support I’m getting is motivating me even more to go forward and get better. That said, I also played quite a lot of games this year. I got a Switch this year and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I also finished and completed a lot of games I started in the past few years so I had a bit of trouble putting this list together. So, for those who are new here, this list contains my 10 favorite games I have STARTED playing in 2018. The release date of the game itself doesn’t matter, what matters is that I started playing it in 2018. Before we get into the actual list, reminder, this list is my personal opinion. So, feel free to discuss it in the comments and also feel free to post your own list into the comments. I’m rather curious. Anyways, this introduction is getting quite long, it’s time to get into the actual list.

Place 10: Angels of Death (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

At first, this game would have a higher place on this list. The story and theming of this game grabbed my attention so much, I felt the black hole after finishing this game quite hard. I wanted to spend more time in the world of this game and spend more time with the characters.

I think that my love for the Corpse Party series and the Zero Escape series made me enjoy this game so much more. If you are a fan of either series, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

In addition to that, this game might have one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. How many times I have listened to it this year, I lost count already. And mind you, I found this game in late October.

Now, why is this game not higher on the list? I praised it quite a lot in my review and I might have given the impression that this game would be my game of the year… Well, it’s because I played another horror game this year that just did that bit more. Outside of that, the short length and gameplay; the game felt like a game I play in between big releases. So yeah. That’s why.

Place 9: Shining Resonance – Refrain (Switch)

Shining_Metal_SwitchLarge.jpgWikipedia

So, back in 2016 I played Stella Glow.I got quite into the story of music playing a big role in an RPG by giving buffs or debuffs. When I found Shining Resonance: Refrain on the Nintendo eShop on the Switch and read that music played an important role as well, I was sold.

When I started to play this game, I got flashbacks to Stella Glow. Even when this game plays quite a lot differently than Stella Glow. This game is more action focused and in real time while Stella Glow’s gameplay is more a big puzzle and turn-based.

While I haven’t even come close to finishing this game, I’m quite curious what else I’ll encounter in this game. I’m at the midway mark of this game but I have been rushing through it. I think that the next couple of playing sessions will be to catch up with various side quests and improving my characters and their equipment since I quite a lot of trouble while battling the last boss.

Now, this game is a port of a PS3 game released in 2014. It’s also a part of the Shining series. If the other games in the series are as enjoyable as this game, I think I might explore this series in the future. Too bad that a lot of games in this series hasn’t left Japan.

Place 8: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland (Nintendo Switch)

Atelier Rorona

Wikipedia

So, not too long ago, a bundle of three Atelier games got released on the Nintendo Switch. These games are the Arland trilogy. After I figured out what was the first game in the series, I started playing Atelier Rorona.

I was very surprised with the game actually. The game is quite enjoyable to play but it can be repetitive. The game is about an alchemy workshop with a very lazy owner. You play as her pupil named Rorona. When the kingdom orders the closure of the workshop, you get three years to prove the worth of the shop and finish various assignments of the kingdom. If you fail one of these, the workshop closes right away.

Now, what I didn’t know is how replayable this game is. These are so many mechanics I discovered during my first time playing this game, I also found out that there are a lot of various endings to the game. Now that I have beaten the game once, I think I’ll first beat the other two games before I do another playthrough to get an even better ending.

I personally really liked this game but I have to say that this game isn’t for everyone. I recommend this game to everybody who enjoys a more laid back RPG game. This game does have a lot of depth, but overall I found this game a more relaxing experience. That statement might change if I try to go for the other endings, who knows.

In any case, I’m rather curious what the other two games have on offer for me. Since, I’m going to beat those next. And who knows, these games might convince me to further check out the Atelier series, of which there are many… many games.

Place 7: Resident Evil 4 (PlayStation 2)

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Wikipedia

When I started playing games like Corpse Party, Fatal Frame and Zero Escape; I knew that one day I’ll have to look into the horror genre. A long time ago, in one of my local toy stores, there was a PS2 booth where a demo of Resident Evil 4 was playable. I think I was 14 years old and while I enjoyed playing the game, I didn’t even know the title nor the impact that game was going to have in the gaming scene. I think I only played the game for like 10-15 minutes in total since the next time I went, the booth was replaced with a demo Gamecube with Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

I actually forgot about the game until some of my favorite YouTubers started to talk about it on their channels. Back then, I was more into adventure and puzzle games, so I took note of the name and moved on.

Fast forward to this year. I was browsing the second hand games in my local game store and I saw a copy of Resident Evil 4 for the PS2 for only 10€. I didn’t hesitate twice. I bought this game and after I came home I started to play it right away. While I was afraid that I would suck at survival horror, I was able to finish chapter after chapter.

I also got quickly used to aiming and firing a gun with a controller. Since that was one of my biggest fears. I tried playing various shooters with a controller in the past and I always had a lot of trouble.

So, because I was highly surprised at how much fun I was having, I felt that this game rightfully deserved a spot on this year’s list.

Place 6: Project Zero II (Fatal Frame II) – The Crimson Butterfly (PlayStation 2)Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly.jpg

Wikipedia

So, due to Project Zero V – Maiden of the Black Water last year, I got quite into the Project Zero / Fatal Frame series. But seeing the pricing of getting other entries in the series ranging from 30€ to 60€, I had a hard time tracking down a copy.

To my surprise, around my birthday, somebody brought Fatal Frame I, II and III in to my local game store and I was able to buy the three titles for 20€ each.

I started playing all three games to test out if the games worked or not. Yet, when I was testing Fatal Frame II, I found myself not able to stop playing the game. The concept of the story where one sister is always looking for her sibling just spoke to me on a personal level. It was quite tricky to get used to playing this game on the PS2, since I always tried to move the camera while moving the PS2 controller since I was used it that playing the other game on the Wii U.

I enjoy playing this game the most, late at night while I darken my room and turn off the lights so I have only the glow of the TV and the disc spinning in the PS2 to keep my company. This makes the game and the experience that more enjoyable. I can’t wait to boot up my PS2 again tonight and try to make some more progress in this quite enjoyable game.

Place 5: Death Mark  (Nintendo Switch)

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Official website

It looks like I was on a horror rush this year. Death Mark is the 4th game on my favorite games of 2018 list. Now, when I wrote my Halloween special on Angels of Death this year, I actually completed the game before Halloween. So, I was looking for a new horror game to play on Halloween and that’s when I found Death Mark on the Nintendo eShop.

When I was looking at the screenshots and reading the description, it felt like a mixture of Corpse Party and the Zero Escape series. A visual novel horror adventure game that throws you in front of a lot of puzzles.

And that’s what the game delivers perfectly. An enjoyable story with multiple outcomes depending on your actions and one that gripped me to the end. While I was able to see some twists coming from a mile away, the pacing and writing the story more than made up for it.

The story is about a mysterious mark that appears on your body when you go to a haunted place and that mark spells death by dawn if you are unable to clear the grudge of the spirit that gave you the mark. So, if you enjoy a visual novel style horror adventure game, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

Now, Japan is getting a sequel/follow up to this game next year.  Now here is my call to the developers, please localize the follow up game as well. Looking at the screenshots and the teaser, I’m quite interested! And here is my call to everybody who is interested in horror, please give this game a shot and share it around. This game is highly underrated and deserves more attention and love!

Place 4: Blossom Tales (Switch)

Blossom Tales

My review

I often check the Nintendo Switch store for interesting and unique games. When I came across Blossom Tales, I was sold. The game looked like a well made 2D-Zelda clone and as a big fan of the Legend of Zelda… Let’s just say it was a no-brainier.

And I didn’t regret that decision once. I enjoyed playing this game quite a lot. I felt right at home as a Zelda fan. Also, this game reminded me a bit of the Fairune games. It reminded me how fun that 2D Zelda games are and how much I miss that style of gameplay. I wonder that if we are going to ever see a 2D Zelda game again after the massive success that was Breath of the Wild.  Only time will tell, but for now, I’m happy to see that there are indie game studio’s that will create games in that style so I’ll always have a game in that style to look forward too.

What I liked the most about this game was the unique way the story was told. A grandfather telling his grandchildren a story since they are bored. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this game. It gives off so much charm and character to the game, for that alone I would recommend that you play this game. And, since we are in the holidays period, the charm is even better!

Place 3: Fire Emblem Warriors (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. This game is one of the reasons I bought a Nintendo Switch. I think the praise I gave in my review on this game made it pretty clear that this was one of the best games I have played in 2018.

Honestly, at first I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like the game. Since I had put so many hours into Hyrule Warriors, I was afraid that I was burnt out on the formula and gameplay.

But Fire Emblem Warriors brings a lot of new and fresh mechanics to the table to make me enjoy the game even more. The only criticism I have about the game is that some parts are a bit too complex and not well explained enough in-game. Everything else is highly polished. Even the trick that Drakalus gave me to improve the frame rate in multiplayer aided quite a lot.

Thanks to this game, I got back into the Fire Emblem series. I think that in the upcoming months, I will start tackling my huge backlog of Fire Emblem games I have in my collection. I have at least 6 Fire Emblem games that I have started but never finished. I think it’s time to change that. This game convinced me that the series has quite a lot to offer and I can’t wait to see which adventures the world of Fire Emblem will bring me.

Place 2: Dragon Quest Builders (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

When I saw a trailer for Dragon Quest Builders for the first time, I was hooked. I was disappointed when I learned that this game was going to release for the PlayStation 3, 4 and PSVita. At first, I was considering to buy a PSVita for this game (and Corpse Party Blood Drive before that got ported over to Android)

The game got ported to the Nintendo Switch, so I was able to buy it on the system I bought this year. And I’m glad I was able to play this game. I loved every moment of this game and I’m so extremely hyped for the upcoming sequel. The Japanese version released a couple of days ago. It’s quite tempting to look up let’s plays but I want to keep my experience as spoiler free as I can.

The only new negative is that I’m unable to play the Terra Incognita mode. Since I have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription and purchasing that for only that and a few NES games is currently not worth it for me in my opinion. But hey, that’s my opinion.

Honorable mentions

Now, I have played a lot of games and some games deserve a mention but haven’t made it on my list for various reasons. So, before I reveal my “game of the year” / number 1, it’s time for the honorable mentions.
Cleopatra – A Queen’s Destiny (PC), Knights of Pen & Paper (PC/Switch), Darkest Dungeon (Switch), Kamiko (Switch), A Magical High School Girl (Switch), Grumpy Cat (Android),
Etrain Odyssey 5 (3DS), Zack & Wiki (Wii), Steamworld Dig 2 (3DS), Silent Hill 4 (PS2), Telsagrad (Wii U), DuckTales (NES), Age of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC), Devil May Cry 4 (PS2).

Now, I know that a lot of major titles released in 2018 didn’t make it on my list or on my honorable mentions. In any case, I think it’s time to reveal the game I was most hyped for this year and I enjoyed the most. Which game is MY personal game of the year 2018? Let’s. Find. Out.

Number 1 – Game of the Year – Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)

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My review

So, this experience. This game, is my game of the year in 2018. Shadow of the Tomb Raider. When I was planning the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaboration, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to write about this game.

While some fans in the Tomb Raider series aren’t a big fan of the reboot since it’s a more action focused and linear game; I enjoy the new direction of the series. Especially this game. The improved visual style, the improved writing, the improved quality of life features… The game is just an amazing way to finish this reboot trilogy.

I seriously hope that this isn’t going to be the final game in the Tomb Raider series. Since I enjoyed myself with this game so much, I can’t wait to see where Lara goes next. Besides that, this year a new Tomb Raider movie got released. That movie I personally enjoyed quite a lot. For a movie based on a video game, I find that they did an extremely good job. I’m not really a movie review but if I have to grade the movie, it would get a 75/100.

Now, why did I enjoy this game so much? Why did I pick this game as my game of the year? For several reasons, the first reason is that this game’s story is the best story out of the three games in the reboot series. I had several moments where I felt the emotions of the characters, the voice actors did that good of a job.

A second reason is that this game is just beautiful. The visual presentation is just amazing. There are various spots where you look out over a huge forest from on top of a mountain or you get other breath taking views. Now, a few moments had some minor visual glitching or some spots where the game could have look a bit better, but that might be because of my older GPU in my desktop. That might explain various lighting glitches I have in the post launch DLC.

A third reason why this is my game of the year is that the Tomb Raider series just means a lot to me personally. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and I see and I have always seen Lara Croft as a sort of “sister” to Indiana Jones. But Indiana Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention in the video game scene while Lara does get that. So, being able to play games like Tomb Raider… Well, it’s my favorite genre and style of games after all. A mystery adventure game mixed with action and platforming segments.

The only disappointing thing is that I don’t have a physical copy of this game. The PC version of this game hasn’t gotten a physical release. And I feel it would be a waste of money to buy a PS4 or XBOX copy of the game just to have a physical version. But, if you want to know my actual opinion on the game, I advise that you read my review. Since, I really detailed my opinion in that article.

So, if you will excuse me now. I think it’s time to wrap up this article so I can play the newly added tombs and story segments.

Wrapping up 2018.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, 2018 was an extremely weird year for me. I even got my articles stolen various times. Outside of that, I had 25,000 views on my blog. This is more than double compared to the amount of views I got in 2017.

This inspires me to continue and write even more articles in 2019. I have a few in mind so I hope I’ll be able to welcome you on my blog next year. Blogging is my biggest hobby since I’m able to share my opinion on the games I have played with the world. I’m quite grateful of everybody who reads my articles and leaves comments or talks to me on social media or even in person about my articles and/or the games I have talked about.

I also love it when developers contact me and give me various chances to play unique and fun games. It also helps me to expand my collection and takes makes me even more happy.

If I have to pick my favorite blogging moments of this year, I have to say how the community came together for helping me and other bloggers in fighting article theft, the Tomb Raider project and the various milestones I reached like 500+ followers on my Twitter. It’s still the best way to keep up-to-date with me.

2019 is going to celebrate the 9th year I have been blogging. Before 2013, I had a Dutch blog. That means that this blog will be 7 years old next year.

That will mean that 2020 will be an extremely special year for me. But, let’s focus first on 2019. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Speaking of 2019, I think I should talk about the games I’m looking forward to! That’s going to be (one of the) next articles on my blog. So, keep an eye out for that.

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

Tomb Raider – Writer’s Raid

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The logo for this project is created by The Well Red Mage

Official website

The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, both are series that have a lot of loving fans. Now, besides the Legend of Zelda series, there is another series that had a strong presence in my childhood. As a child, I fell in love with the Indiana Jones franchise. I played the various Indiana Jones games until either the cartridge or the CD gave up. Now, I wanted more. Because of that lust for more, I discovered the Tomb Raider franchise. The first Tomb Raider game I ever played was Tomb Raider 5 – Chronicles. That was enough for me to decide to hunt down all Tomb Raider games and play them from start to finish. And I’m not the only one who enjoys Tomb Raider and let me prove that to you, I’m going to raider the various tombs this franchise throws at us together with some amazing befriended bloggers. I hope you are ready, since various treasures of articles will await you in these tombs. Let’s. Get. Raiding.

1996 – Tomb Raider

Tomb_Raider_(1996)Games With Coffee takes us through Lara’s adventure to help Natla.

Grab yourself a cup of coffee, since we are taking a journey through the good old first entry of Tomb Raider.

Together with Games With Coffee we take a nostalgic look to Tomb Raider and discover how it “holds up” today. Depending on who you ask of course.

The analysis of this game is extremely well done and made me remember various stories of the first time I played Tomb Raider. Seriously, give it a read! 

1997 – Tomb Raider II Featuring Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIABXY Game Reviews is following Lara through her journey to find a Dragon’s dagger!

ABXY Game Reviews really wanted to play an old school Tomb Raider game. And I was looking for writers. A match made in heaven I think.

In heaven, that’s where the object Lara is after in her second adventure. A mythological Chinese dagger can came from the heavens that can turn mere mortals into dragons.

Did ABXY Game Reviews enjoy his journey through old school Tomb Raider or do fans of this game get blinded by nostalgia? You have to read this article to find out.

1998 – Tomb Raider III – The Adventures of Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIINekoJonez helps us find four artifacts.

I love telling this story. When I first played Tomb Raider III, I thought I was playing Tomb Raider IV. The reason for that, well, I explained that in my nostalgic look-back of Tomb Raider III.

I tried to avoid writing a review for this game and give some retrospective facts. But it was great fun playing through this game again for this project.

So please, feel free to give one of my entries in this project a read.

1999 – Tomb Raider IV – The Last Revelation

Tomb_Raider_-_The_Last_RevelationSarahsGameCollection is going to take us on a journey to raid the Egyptian tombs!

I discovered Sarah’s website through this project. And I haven’t regret it at all. Her website is a joy to browse through and read.

Her unique writing style is something I love most of her website. While she writes, she adds personal comments like if she is telling a story to you and it’s great fun to read.

I think that this article came together quite well, since it made me want to replay Tomb Raider IV for myself.

2000 – Tomb Raider V – Chronicles

Tomb_Raider_-_ChroniclesTriformTrinity is taking us to Lara’s funeral…?

If you want to know if you should play Tomb Raider Chronicles, you shouldn’t look further. Triform Trinity wrote a short review on the game.

I wrote an article on this game last year, and it shows how people can differ in opinion.

Anyways, I  highly recommend you reading this article. It was a joy to work with TriformTrinity and reading his through his website is such a great and fun time. Since I can assure you that I always have a fun time when I visit his website.

 

2000 – Tomb Raider Level Editor

Tomb_Raider_Level_EditorNekoJonez took a look at Tomb Raider fan’s levels.

I have to admit that I was planning to write an article about the level editor for Tomb Raider for quite a while.

To be honest, this game is one of the reasons why I organized this collaboration in the first place. Since it’s a creative platform that brings a community together. And this project is the perfect “excuse” to talk about something unique like this.

So, if you are curious what the level editor can do, feel free to read it on my blog and I hope you it.

2003 – Tomb Raider – Angel of Darkness

Tomb_Raider_-_The_Angel_of_DarknessSarah’s Game Collection is helping to solve this murder mystery…

If there is one Tomb Raider game I haven’t fully played it, it has to be Tomb Raider – Angel of Darkness.

I heard so many things about it. From it being a bad game to being a decent game. After reading the review that Sarah wrote for this game I got even more interested in finishing this game.

Now, I invite you to read along with me this amazing analysis of the final game that Core worked on in the series.

2006 – Tomb Raider Legend

Tomb_Raider_-_LegendLiana takes us on the legendary journey for a sword.

In this retrospective collaboration project, I always give freedom to the writers. This resulted in Liana writing an amazing piece where she analysed the game very deeply.

Not only that, she talks about the history and development of this game. And she even took a deeper look at who Lara Croft actually is.

I can highly recommend that you give this article by Liana a read. And if you are interested in more of her work, you can also visit her YouTube channel, which I HIGHLY recommend as well.

And allow me to slip some personal advertisement in as well since I reviewed this game last year myself.

2007 – Tomb Raider – Anniversary

Tomb_Raider_-_AnniversaryGames with Coffee takes us, again, on Lara’s adventure to help Natla…

Now, I hope your coffee didn’t go cold since we are going to take a look at the remake of Tomb Raider I.

Games with Coffee brings you a very in-depth review and look at this game. He played it on Steam. I played this game on my PC as well and I have to agree with a lot he said in the article.

This game was one of the games that really drew me into the whole Tomb Raider franchise and it hasn’t let go since.

2008 – Tomb Raider Underworld

Tomb_Raider_-_UnderworldLiana takes us on a journey through the underworld.

Now, Liana takes a look at Tomb Raider Underworld in a very interesting way. You won’t find a review of the game in this article but a very interesting in depth analysis of the game’s story.

Reading the article was extremely interesting. It helped me to connect some dots I didn’t even realize that there were before.

She also analyses Lara’s character and how it all fits in the lore of the series. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go read Liana’s article!

2010 – Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Lara_Croft_and_the_Guardian_of_LightLaterLevels is going to battle for the light.

After I finished Tomb Raider Underworld, I was waiting on the next entry in the Tomb Raider series. To my surprise, we had to wait 5 years on a new entry in the main series.

Yet, during this wait, we got Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. A game that’s on my endless backlog list.

When I talked to Kim from LaterLevels and asked her if she wanted to be part of the Tomb Raider project, she suggested to play this game on stream together with her other half. She didn’t stream this game but the other spin-off. More on that later.

Now, what did she think of this game? You can read it in Kim’s article. Enjoy!

2013 – Tomb Raider

TombRaider2013OverThinkerY takes us to a Japanese island…

“A famous explorer once said, that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are. I’d finally set out to make my mark; to find adventure. But instead adventure found me. In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something; Something that keeps us going. Something that pushes us.”

That was one of the best quotes out the reboot of Tomb Raider in 2013. In this article, my good friend OverThinkerY took a look at the game. His analysis is great and I loved reading his article. I think you will enjoy it as well.

Also, this game has a special place for me on my blog since it’s the first game I reviewed since I started my English blog in 2013. You can read it here.

2014 – Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

Lara_croft_and_the_temple_of_osiris_artLaterLevels takes us on a journey through the Temple of Osiris.

So, Kim didn’t know that there were two spin-off games. When I told that to Kim, she didn’t hestitate for a second and decided that she wanted to also write about the 2nd spin off game.

Kim did a stream of this game together with her other half. You can watch the Twitch.TV archive in case you missed it: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/310930370

But I also highly recommend to check out her review of this game. Since I loved reading it.

2015 – Lara Croft: GO! & Lara Croft Relic Run

TriformTrinity puzzles his way through various tombs…

…and runs for relics.

Now, in this Writer’s Raid, we also took a look at two Lara Croft mobile games. These are Lara Croft Go and Lara Croft Relic Run. Honestly, I have played a bit of Lara Croft GO myself, but I haven’t played a lot of Lara Croft Relic Run.

So, if you are curious if these games are something for you and worth buying on your Android or iOS device, I think you will enjoy these two articles that TriformTrinity wrote. Have a great read!

2015 – Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise_of_the_Tomb_RaiderOverThinkerY looks at Lara’s rise of Lara Croft.

Of course had Tomb Raider (2013) to end with a cliff hanger. So, the story could continue in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

OverThinkerY takes a great look at the game and gives his own honest opinion on it. (And I gave mine a few years ago)

Something I really liked in OverThinkerY’s article is that he compared this game to what he likes in other games. And he played this game with the DLC included. So, give it a read, I can highly recommend it.

2018 – Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

SotTR_HERO-1-heroNekoJonez is going to take us on Lara’s latest journey.

While we were planning this project, the newest Tomb Raider game got released. To be honest, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to play this game anyways and I felt that it was a perfect way to close this collaboration.

So, what did I think of Lara’s latest adventure? If you want to know that, you’ll have to read my article on Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

And the this was the loot

I knew in advance that the group of writers for this project was going to be very different compared to my previous projects. I want to thank all the writers who helped me in this project, some even replayed games which didn’t age too well.

I hope you enjoyed reading this collaboration between me and these lovely bloggers: Games With Coffee, ABXY Game Reviews, Sarah’s Game Collection, Liana Kerzner, TriformTrinity, LaterLevels and OverThinkerY.

Do check these people out! They are all amazing people and I have to thank all of them to make this become a reality. Besides The Legend of Zelda, Tomb Raider is one of the biggest series from my childhood and reading all these different pieces made me remember why I love the series.

I have to admit that the games didn’t age all too well so it was quite interesting to see what everybody thought about the games they played.

I hope you enjoyed reading through these articles and enjoyed exploring the websites that made this unique project come to life. Feel free to be a Tomb Raider and explore these websites since they are all great sites that I can highly recommend.

If you want to read more articles like these, last year I did a similar project like this on the Zelda series. Also, my friend the Well Red Mage did something similar with the Final Fantasy series. So, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating 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!

PSA: How to deal with stolen content?

 It’s no secret that I recently had to deal with two websites stealing my content. While everything is almost taken down, I decided to write an article where I talk about my experiences, tips, and tricks on how to defend yourself and take down content that is stolen from you. Before I continue, I want to make one thing clear, I didn’t write this guide to take down content you don’t like or you are trying to steal yourself. I wrote this guide to talk about the various methods that are out there for content creators to help them if their content is stolen. In addition to that, this comes from my personal experiences and I’m not a lawyer. Ask legal advice where needed. 

Protect your blog!

First of all, make sure you have a page/post that your readers can easily find where you talk about what you allow and don’t allow with your content. For me, that’s my DMCA page.

On that page, mention what you allow and don’t allow with your content. If you are stuck or unsure how to write this page, Creative Commons can give examples and you can use it to create your own license. But do read the whole license before copy/pasting it on your blog.

Know that this page/post will be looked at by lawyers in case of theft. So, make sure you cover everything with this post or page. It also makes clear what a user can and can’t do with your work.

Some websites also offer badges and other similar things to scare off potential thieves. Like Creative Commons I mentioned before and DMCA.com. You can actually pay DMCA.com to take down a thieving website if needed. If you are interested, check out both sites, since they provide useful and interesting insight.

CaptureIf you are using WordPress, like myself, don’t disable pingbacks! You can find these in your admin panel under “Discussion”. The reason for why that is, I’ll explain a bit later in this article. But, pingbacks can really save your skin or help you in your research. So, DO link to your older articles if you talked about something else in the past.

You can also take measures to the extreme and host your WordPress blog yourself and install and install a plugin that stops people from right-clicking or copying your text. Now, personally, I hate when websites do this. I’m not a native English speaker, and sometimes I have to look up translations for words. In addition to that, I get the impression that the creator doesn’t trust me with their content.

Now, let me state this for the record, I’m not saying that this is a bad idea; I’m saying that I’m personally not fond of this practice. Also, I don’t believe in protecting your site 100% this way. If you have a bot setup that can copy from HTML and the developer console, well; then your protection is busted. And for pictures, if you only disable the right mouse button, you can easily bypass that with a screenshot tool. So, yeah. And people share methods online that easily bypass a system like disabling right click like here.

With this, I wanted to say that not all protection or preventive measures will make a 100% theft proof system. Create a system that works for you and is easy to manage without your users complaining about it. I honestly think it’s no good idea to go into overdrive and focus yourself more on protecting your work instead of actually creating content…. Before I ramble on and on about this, let’s continue to the actual point of this article.

Before I talk a bit more about how to take down content, here are a couple of articles that provide helpful insight on protecting your work from theft. From tips and tricks to advice other bloggers gave about protecting your blog. Do give them a read, they are great.

https://wptavern.com/content-protection-plugins-for-wordpress-do-more-harm-than-good

https://en.support.wordpress.com/prevent-content-theft/

https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/protect-images-from-theft/

https://www.dreamgrow.com/prevent-content-theft/

https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2009/09/09/5-free-copyright-steps-every-blogger-should-take-today/

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/make-work-copyrighted-blogger-33454.html

https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-protect-blog-content-from-copyright-infringement/

Before I continue, know that the DMCA law exists. Please, read up on that law as well if you want to know more.

Take down stolen content

Okay, now for the actual meat of this article. I had to deal with a WordPress.com and a self-hosted WordPress blog stealing my content. So, I can talk about both issues here.

Before you do ANYTHING like a DMCA or further research, do try to get into contact with the owner of the website. Once in the past, I found another blog stealing my content without credit. They had a contact page, so I contacted them and they took it down. Do the following steps when the owner of the website doesn’t reply.

Let’s tackle the easiest to take down, blogs on platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly… Here is what you have to do. First of all, be prepared for playing a waiting game AND possibly long mail chains with abuse and or legal teams.

So, one of the blogs stealing my content had a Tumblr, WordPress, Evernote, Weebly, Pinterest and Diigo account posting links various stolen material. On Tumblr, Evernote, and WordPress my whole text was readable.

Before you continue, do know that this is only something the original creator of the article can do. If you haven’t created the work, do not make a DMCA Take Down request, since this can have serious consequences. If you want to help the creator out, please report it to them and ask them what you could do. Making fake DMCA claims can create an even bigger mess. Just ask big YouTubers like Alex from iHateEverything who got into a fight with Derek Savage a few years back.

Now, you need to find the procedure for each website how to make a DMCA Take Down claim or anything related to that. Here are a few links that found that can help you if you need it:

WordPress: https://en.support.wordpress.com/our-dmca-process/

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/dmca

Evernote: https://evernote.com/intl/nl/legal/ip-compliance

Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/454951664593304

Blogger: https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/208282075858952

Twitter: https://help.twitter.com/forms/dmca

Fill in the required forms and DO read what you fill in. This can be a very serious process but fill in everything to the best of your ability. Do realize that you have to prove that you are the owner and creator of the work and you will have to provide permalinks to the stolen content and the original work. This codex entry of WordPress explains a bit better what permalinks are: https://codex.wordpress.org/Settings_Permalinks_Screen

After you fill in the required forms, you have to play the waiting game. Some requests can be taken care off in a few hours, others can take up to a week! Be patient and if further theft occurs, make a new DMCA Take Down.

Also, speaking from experience here, be as complete as possible. If a blog copied 53 of your articles, to provide 53 links WITH proof (original source) to avoid having to make a secondary DMCA.

Add in the DMCA comment box if the account also breaks other rules posted in the terms of service. In one case, I was able to get the account suspended without a DMCA request but with proving the blog was spamming and using an automated bot to post content to their account. This was enough for a certain company to suspend the theft from their site and fully remove it.

Now, onto the second part of this article. What if your content is stolen by a hosted WordPress blog? Well, first of all, you need to know the basics of how IP addressing and web hosting work.

Here is some help to get you started: TCP/IP explained, IP explained, DNS explained, how website hosting works, and WHOIS explained.

I’m not saying here that you need to be an expert in computers or internet technology to deal with this. If you don’t know what you are doing, please ask help at people who know more about computers and know more about networking.

First of all, do a WHOIS search on the offending blog. If the website is hosted by a company, you will get an abuse address. Before you mail this address, do check out the website of the hoster. If the abuse mail you got from the WHOIS search is for example:

abuse@thisisanexample.com

Go to “thisisanexample.com” The part behind the “@” is usually the website of the hoster. If not, google that email or part of that email.

Look at the terms and conditions of the hoster and act accordingly. If they have a live helpdesk, talk to the helpdesk and ask them what to do. Also, they can confirm if the website is hosted on their servers or not.

Mostly these mail addresses are in the lines of “abuse@hostname.com” or “legal@hostname.com”.

When looking in their Terms of Service, look at what they require from you for a DMCA take-down request or a take-down request. Provide the needed information to company and hope for the best.

Now, I had the bad luck that addresses that WHOIS gave me for the self-hosted blog wasn’t the host of the website but the owner of the domain. Now, the trick here is, either look at the name servers of the domain (mostly ns.hostname.region) or open “CMD” on a Windows computer and launch the following command.

“tracert website.com”

Replace “website.com” with the offending website. More often than note, the last trace will spit out the IP of the website and the hoster.

If this is still not helping, abuse pingbacks. Yes, I’m finally going to talk about it. When you get a pingback from another website, you usually receive an email. Guess what, the IP address of the stealing website is at the bottom of the email.

Use the IP address you get from the email to further do WHOIS searches and this is how I found the actual host of the website which kept stealing from me. So, do link articles you wrote so you have some pingbacks. If the theft bot steals your content and forgets to either disable the option and/or forgets to remove those links, you have their IP. I call it “pingback trap”. And it worked twice on the theft bot.

So, I found out who was hosting this thieving website, I mailed the helpdesk of the hoster and they forwarded me to their legal team and voila, the website is now being taken care off.

Final pieces of advice

If your and other people their work is stolen from a website, do content the other bloggers and writers. In my battle to take down the stolen content, I had two blogs contact me back and we agreed to all put in a DMCA takedown notice. Not too long after, the website was gone.

Do realize that taking down stolen content can eat hours of your time. Keep a journal or notes of what you did and who you contacted for what. Otherwise, this can become a big mess. Don’t get demotivated from this.

Do warn other bloggers about the theft. The action I took was the PSA Drakulus and I wrote together. The support from other bloggers can be so uplifting. All the reblogs and people lending an ear to vent out your frustration can help quite a lot.

If you really want to protect yourself and your blog from theft, don’t let this be the last article you read about it. I read a lot of articles and watched hours of YouTube videos on this subject to learn from what others did. I also talked to other content creators what they did and how they took down the stolen content.

So, there. That’s all the advice I can give. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed and learned something from reading this article as much as I enjoyed and learned from writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

This post has been written by NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog. This post is written to spread information about his experiences with content theft. NekoJonez isn’t a lawyer and please; if needed to seek legal advice. I’m not responsible if you don’t do your research or don’t read something for the consequences.

PS: if you need any help on content theft, feel free to contact me. I’ll try and do my best in helping you whereever I can.

Gamer’s Thoughts: My Top 10 Games I played in 2017

XOXOIt’s that time of year again, the year is near its end and various websites are looking back at the games released this year. It’s about time that I do the same but in the Jonez’ way of doing things. So, how does this work? Well, if you have read my previous articles where I looked back at the year, you might know this already. Otherwise, here is how it works. I’m a game collector and I often go to garage sales. I honestly prefer buying my games that way instead of buying the newest and latest release. That means I played a lot of older games too. So, in my top 10 games, I played in 2017 are the games I played in 2017, no matter the release date. The biggest rule is that I had to start playing the game in 2017. If I started playing this game in 2016 or earlier, it doesn’t count. The list for this year has been quite a difficult list to put together. I have played so many amazing games, I had to scrap so many games. In any case, enough introduction time. Time to get this article started.

 Place 10: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle And The Millionaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

layton lady katrielle mystery journeySomething I saw a long time coming was that there would be a new character introduced to continue the Layton series. What I didn’t expect was that it would be Layton’s daughter. While the gameplay takes a bit of a turn, it’s still a Layton game at its core with more and shorter stories.

While it isn’t the first Layton spin-off that was released in the series, it’s one of the first multiplatform games in the series. So, I’m wondering how the rest of the series will continue. Shall we see more Layton games on Nintendo platforms or will Layton shift to the mobile platform? If you would ask me, I think a multiplatform release will work just fine. Since I think that the Layton games should be enjoyed by more people.

It’s an amazing brain teaser. Thanks to the charm of the writing and characters, you can get easily invested in the story. In addition to that, it helps to keep one of my favorite genres alive and that is the adventure visual novel game. The Layton games contain a big story you can delve into, and I love it for that. While it’s not my favorite series in the genre, it comes pretty close. Thank you Level5 for creating this series and I can’t wait to see where you will take it next. Since I heard a new Layton game is under development for the Nintendo Switch.

Place 9: Ever Oasis (3DS) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

Ever OasisA new IP from Nintendo? Why, yes, please! When I saw the trailer for the first time, I remember that I directly surfed to the website of my local game store to see if I would be able to pre-order the game. Sadly enough, I wasn’t able to do so at that time. When I was able to pre-order the game a few months later, I didn’t think twice.

When I finally got my hands on it, the game didn’t disappoint. I really think that this new IP will be interesting for Nintendo. I honestly hope that they don’t let this game be a one-off thing since this game has a lot of potentials to turn into an amazing new series.

Somehow, I even see a crossover with the Zelda series working perfectly. Since it was a sort of desert-themed Zelda game in my opinion. If they ever make a sequel, I wish that they expand more on the Oasis side of things, I wish there were more interactions with my villagers of my oasis.

But hey, if this is a Fata Morgana or an actual new series by Nintendo, that remains to be seen. Maybe in 2018, we get an HD remake on the Switch for all we know.

Place 8: Etriann Odyssey Untold Stories 2 – The Fafnir Knight (3DS) (Original release: 2014)

First Impression

EO2UI have nominated the Etrian Odyssey games for my top 10 games I played in earlier years. Even while a new entry in the series released here this year in the west, I haven’t played it yet. I do own a copy.

I have to admit that I haven’t beaten an Etrian Odyssey game, but I have to say that I have gotten quite far into this game. The story is very enjoyable and I want to finish it in the near future. Actually, I’m thinking about making one of my goals in 2018, finishing an Etrian Odyssey game. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the game I will finish first will be this one.

I just enjoy creating my own maps while I’m exploring the dungeons and labyrinths this game throws at me. I really feel invested because it’s my own maps helping me further into the dungeon instead of a pre-made map. I always see people doing it in a different way, but I do it my way and that’s the way how I like to play games.

Place 7: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U) (Original release: 2015)

First Impression

Tokyo mirage sessionsThis game really surprised me when I first started playing it this summer. While I’m on my summer holidays, I tend to take some time off blogging and work to actually play a lot of games and watch a lot of anime.

Yet, this year, I did write a lot of articles and I played a lot of just one game. I played a lot of Tokyo Mirage Sessions on my Wii U. While I’m nearly half beating the game, my game time is way past that. Since I paused the game when I was eating, went to the bathroom and once or twice when I went to sleep. Apparently, those moments keep adding to the overall game time.

In any case, I really enjoyed this game. If that isn’t clear and you need more proof; if a crossover makes me decide that I need to collect more games from both series, I think the crossover succeeded in its goal.

I really want to see how both series play. While I have a pretty good idea how Fire Emblem plays, since I own a couple of Fire Emblem games, I do want to know how Sin Megami Tensei plays. But, thank you so much Tokyo Mirage Sessions for making my summer that more enjoyable with your game!

Place 6: Corpse Party: Blood Drive (Android) (Original release: 2014, PS Vita version)

First Impression

corpse-party-apkAt this moment, I don’t own a PS Vita. But, there were a few games I wanted to buy a Vita for. Now, there is one game I wanted a Vita for and that is Corpse Party BloodDrive. To my surprise, this game was ported this year to Android and iOS. It also got released not too far from my birthday.

I didn’t know about this until Halloween came around. At this moment, I noticed an image on my store home page that looked a lot like Corpse Party. When I tapped on the icon, I was surprised by a Japanese name of the game and then the English title with English looking screenshots. At first, I thought that it was a port of the original game I have on PC and 3DS.

To my surprise, it was a port of the PS Vita game, BloodDrive. I haven’t bought a game quicker on the Android Play Store than that game. I really want to see how the story of Corpse Party continued after the cliffhanger in “Book Of Shadows”.

At this moment, I’m over halfway done with the game and I really want to finish it. I can’t wait to see how the game continues to twist and turn. But, I’ll soon find out, since I started to play this game again.

Place 5: Project Zero – Maiden of the Blackwater (Fatal Frame 5) (Wii U) (Original release: 2014)

First Impression

project zeroLike I said in my article, I’m not that fond of scary games. This game is one of the first 3D horror games I enjoyed quite a lot. This horror game surprises me since it’s able to give me unlimited ammo to defend myself and it’s still scary. The atmosphere, pacing and world building is all so believable.

One time, I played this game right before I went to sleep. The nightmares I had that night were so bad, I decided I didn’t want to play this game without lights on. Yet, I flick that light switch to off when I’m playing this game. The atmosphere is just a lot better thanks to it.

I’m still thankful to the person who decided to sell their intact collector’s edition in my local game store. This way I was able to pick it up second hand. I admit, I collected some dust on my shelves for like a month, but then I decided that I wanted to play some new games I bought in 2017 and started up this game.

What a great decision! Now that I have a new TV with an HDMI-input, which is bigger than my computer monitor, I get pulled even more into the game. So, beware Maiden of the Blackwater, here I come to take a picture of you. Make sure that I can make a photograph from your good side, okay?

Place 4: Oneshot (Steam Release) (PC) (Original release: 2016)

OneShot_cover_artI discovered this game through a video from one of my favorite YouTubers, NitroRad. When I saw that this game got released on Steam, I decided to buy it and give it a shot myself.

I wasn’t disappointed. It actually broke the 4th wall in some many creative ways. I’m not going to talk about it too much since it will spoil the surprises in the game. But believe me, this game can do some crazy things that blew my mind from time to time.

The game was first a free indie title, that you could one play once. Therefore it got the name “OneShot”. But now that it’s a commercial product, they had to ditch that idea. While they didn’t ditch it 100%, the way how they solved it was amazing.

After I had beaten this game, I really want another game with similar concepts and new puzzles. But, if this game will never come, I’m glad that I was able to experience OneShot and I’m happy to spread the love and recommend this game again. I decided that I’m not going to write a review nor an article about it, since talking or revealing too much will get into spoiler territory way too quickly. Know that the game needs to be played on PC and that you will have to think outside of the box to solve some puzzles. Or if you want to see more, feel free to check out the videos on it made by NitroRad. While he shows off a bit of the start, most of the surprises in this game aren’t spoiled at all.

To save you some time, here is a link to his video.

Place 3: Outlaws (PC) (Original release: 1997)

Review of the game

250px-OutlawsLucasArtsBoxCoverI go to a big garage sale each and every year; well, I picked up this game boxed for like 2€. It was the final game I bought. I caught it in the corner of my eye. Right when I saw the LucasArts logo, I knew I had to have it.

Seriously, this game doesn’t disappoint. Besides the amazing soundtrack, this game has amazing gameplay. When I decide to boot up my retro Windows 98 gaming PC, I almost always take this game and decide to play a few levels.

The love and care put into this game make it worthy of all the praise I’m giving it. I knew that LucasArts was good in creating adventures, but I didn’t know that they would also be able to create enjoyable 3D shooters.

So, thank you LucasArts for creating this underrated and overlooked gem of a game. If you haven’t played this game and you enjoy 3D shooters, you owe it to yourself to play this game. Know that this game is released in 1997 so the graphics will look like the original DooM in a way, but it’s still amazing to play to this day.

If you are unable to get yourself a boxed copy like me, you can find this game on GoG.com for like 5€, so you have no excuse to not give it a try. I honestly find it a way to cheap price for the game.

Place 2: A Hat In Time (PC) (Original release: 2017)

Review of the game

a hat in timeHow could I not? To be honest, deciding the top 3 of this list was the most difficult part for me. While I wish I could put these three games on number one and call it a tie, that solution would be too cheap.

Anyways, I will explain why I place A Hat In Time so high on my favorite games of 2017 list. I usually never play collect-a-ton platformers. Besides Super Mario 64, I haven’t played any. While I have seen the first trailers for this game, I didn’t know it released after I suddenly saw some screenshots on my Twitter feed.

When I realized that the game was released, I bought it and booted it up. I think I explained a lot about the joy I had in the review. I gave the game a 100/100 for a reason. Right on my review page, I explain that when I give a game 100/100, I think the game is perfect in my eyes. While I know the game has problems, they are being fixed and improved to make the game even more smooth.

I have to thank Gears For Breakfast for delivering this game and also for the amount of polish and care they gave to this game. I can’t wait to see the free DLC arrive in the near future to play even more vanilla content.

Runners-up

A few games haven’t made the list. These games I started to play in 2017 as well, but sadly didn’t make the list because of a variety of reasons. So, here we go:

Mario Stickers Charged Football (Wii), Lego Jurrasic Park World (Wii U), Axiom Verge (PC/Wii U), Metroid Samus Returns (3DS), Popolocrois (PSP), Hamtaro (GBC), Spellforce (PC), Pokémon Pinball – Ruby & Sapphire Edition (GBA) amongst others I’m forgetting now.

1st PLACE: The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild (Wii U) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

BreathoftheWildFinalCoverThere was this game this year, I played when I didn’t know what to play. A game that needed time to grow me on me. A game that slowly but surely became one of the best games I played all year. With over 200 hours put into it this year, I can’t lie and say that The Legend Of Zelda is the worst game I played in 2017.

Currently, I’m playing through all the DLC and I have a sneaking suspicion that after that, I’ll still spend a lot of time with this game. Especially when I’m going to buy a Switch next year, I’ll be able to experience this game all over again.

If you didn’t know, the Legend Of Zelda series is one of my favorite gaming series ever made. As shown by the amazing blogging celebration I did in October where I looked through the whole main series history with a lot of other bloggers. In case you missed the hub article, you can find it here.

I can only confirm that this game is worthy of winning all those awards at the gaming awards this year. It’s one of the best open world games made so far and I think we will see a lot of influences from this game gets it way into other games. If you haven’t played Breath Of The Wild, play it. But be aware that it will change your view on various open world games forever.

Goodbye, 2017!

This year has been so special to me. I have experienced a lot of different things. I played one of the lead roles in my theater group, made a lot of new blogger friends, my blog grew an awful lot and already made a lot of plans to make 2018 an amazing year to look forward too.

In terms of gaming, 2017 was a year of both nostalgia and modern games to me. I played a lot of new games and I love how people ask me about which games they should buy for their children at work. It gives such a great feeling to be able to spread the joy of playing games to others.

In 2018, you can expect more articles from me. Like I said in my update article for December 2017, I have a few plans for 2018 and I think you will enjoy them. But, thank you for reading my blog this past year. I had such an enjoyable ride and I am so thankful for all the chances I get to review indie developers their games. It was also flattering to see how one of my quotes made it on a Steam Store page.

Before I ramble on too much, I’m going to close off this article. If you want to talk to me about the past year, your favorite games of 2017 and things of that nature, feel free to leave a comment. Since I do read them all and reply to them all. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

10 Games I’m looking forward to playing in 2018

2018.jpg

2018 is almost here. So, it’s time to look forward to what the new year will bring. Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at my favorite games of 2017. Ah, next year will be an interesting year. A year where I’m planning to delve into the Nintendo Switch library. So, what games that release next year, am I looking forward too. That’s what this article is about. Also, note that this list isn’t in any sort of order, so yeah. Please know that this is my list, so if you think that a game is missing, feel free to talk about it in the comments or feel free to talk in the comments about the games I selected. In any case, here we go! 

#10 – Age Of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC) (Release: 2018)

AOEDE_KeyArt_Horiz_RGB_Final1920x1080smallerfile.jpg

The original Age Of Empires game fills me with nostalgic feelings. While I’m not the best-skilled player when it comes to RTS-games, I do enjoy playing them quite a lot.

2017 was an amazing year to be a fan of the Age Of Empires franchise. Not only did got the announcement of this game releasing next year, we also got the confirmation that Age Of Empires 4 is under development.

The hype is real for me. I can’t wait to see what the new games will bring. So, I’m sure keeping an eye out for this title!

#9 – SystemShock (PC) – (Release: Q2 2018)

systemshock.jpg

I have always been told that the System Shock games where the inspiration for the amazing Bioshock series.

I always wanted to play these games but didn’t have the time for it. The thing is, I even have System Shock 2 in my Steam library.

Even when Bioshock and System Shock aren’t the same game, I’m quite excited to see where these claims come from. In addition to that, I read a lot about this game and that made me only more interested in playing this game. So, I’m quite curious how this game is going to turn out!

#8 – Secret of Mana (PC) (Release: 15 February 2018)

Secret-of-Mana_2017_08-25-17_011.png

I have played the first bit of Secret Of Mana several times. I think it’s quite a good game.

I can’t say why, but I always get distracted by other games and forget about this game.

So, that’s why I’m looking forward to the release of the remake of this game. Now I’ll have an excuse to really play this game with improved visuals. Not that I dislike the 16-bit visuals, I’m a retro game collector after all.

Besides, I have to come clean and say that I don’t own the SNES cartridge and bought the game on Android. Yeah, not the best idea ever, I know. So, that’s the main reason why I’m excited to play the remake of this game. A way I can play it with better controls than touch controls.

#7 – Shin Megami Tensei – Strange Journey Redux (3DS) (Release: Early 2018)

Shin-Megami-Tensei-Strange-Journey-Redux_2017_07-05-17_001.jpg

Since I played Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, I wanted to try out a game from the Shin Megami Tensei series. While I was lucky to buy a few games into my collection from garage sales and digital sales, I still didn’t have the time to really play one of these games.

Also, I was looking for the DS title to start with. Since I played that game at a friends house one day and wanted to start with the start of series on the handhelds.

That’s why I’m so happy that an updated port is coming to the 3DS. I actually pre-ordered this game for a while now. So, if I didn’t put this game on my list, I would have been disappointed with myself.

#6 – Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS) (Release: 2018)

3DS_RHCP_2D_PEGI SLarge

And my list of games “I still want to play but didn’t have the time for” continues with another RPG. I have played Radiant Historia for a bit and actually got distracted with other games.

This 3DS remake isn’t just a port of the DS game. It will have an additional plot, new features and music, voice acting and more.

In addition to that, it’s published by the same publisher who published Etrian Odyssey V here in Europe. So, I’m hyped!

#5 – Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) (Release: 9 February 2018)

Dragon_quest_builders_art.jpgThis games has been on my “to play” list since it released. I found out about this game when I was looking around for Minecraft-styled games.

Now, next year, this game will be ported to the Nintendo Switch. And not only that, the sequel for this game will release for the Switch as well.

Consider me a happy camper now, since I enjoy the Dragon Quest games quite a lot and I enjoy myself some Minecraft as well. This cross over works quite well when I look to the various let’s plays I have seen.

I didn’t watch a ton of content on this game, since I wanted to avoid spoiling the whole game for me. Especially now that I know that this game is coming to the Nintendo Switch.

#4 – Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings (Switch) (Release: 27 March 2018)

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When I look to the teasers for this game, I get the impression that the gameplay will be similar to Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.

I do realize there will be differences, but I think it’s too late. I already made up my mind. This game is one that I would love to have in my collection.

This game looks right up my alley and I think that this will be one of my first Switch games I play in 2018, since it comes out right around the date I’m planning to buy a Switch.

So, if this game would come bundled with the Switch, I think I won’t hesitate for a second. This game will become a part of my collection for sure!

#3 – Ace Attorney (Switch) (Release: 2018)

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While there aren’t a lot of concrete details for this game, there are more rumors and speculations that this will happen.

What’s even more, in the article I linked, there are reports of Capcom planning THREE Ace Attorney titles for the Switch and to release them all in 2018.

It’ll be quite interesting to see what happens in 2018 for our Ace Attorney. If remakes/ports will come out for the Nintendo Switch or new games. I wouldn’t mind any port of games, but I would love Ace Attorney 7 to come in 2018. Or at least a new main game, even when it’s a spin-off. So, please Capcom, make it happen!

#2 – The Swords Of Ditto (Steam) (Release: 2018)

the swords of ditto

When I first saw the trailer for this game, I just fell in love with the charm and art-style this game has.

This game is a RPG where you set out to defeat the evil Mormo. In this Action-RPG you can play solo and co-op. And it’s the “co-op” part that interests me the most. I was looking for a new game to play with my friends and I think this will be the perfect game for us to play.

Just take a look at the Steam Store page and I think you might understand why this game sounds so interesting to play with friends. At least, I think that it’s interesting!

#1 – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PC/Switch) (Release: 2018)

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Ah, the Castlevania series is one of my favorite action games ever made.

While I was afraid for the future of the series, I was quite pleased when I saw that one of the producers of the games is going to create this new game. Koji Igarashi, thank you for doing this!

While I found out about this game after the KickStarter ended, I am still very exited to play this game. So, I’ll be surely looking forward to this game. The only thing that I still have to decide is that I get this game on the Switch or on my PC. Or maybe both, if my wallet allows it.

While I know that this game started it’s live as a KickStarter, I’m praying that this game will not do a “Mighty Number 9” but a “A Hat In Time” and a “Shovel Knight”. Make it a great game guys, feel free to delay it when it needs more polish!

Final thoughts

Besides a few new games, it look like 2018 will most likely be a “catch-up” year for me. I’m mostly interested in ports and remakes to the Switch, PC and 3DS. It might be a good idea to play a bit of of catch-up with my endless list that is called my backlog.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 will have in store for me. Since next year will be a special year for me. I’ll reveal why when the time comes, but for now, let me say that I am looking forward to 2018 and I can’t wait to see what it will throw in my way.

Thank you so much for reading. If you wonder what my favorite games where in 2017, you will have to wait until tomorrow at 8PM Brussels time. It shall be revealed then.

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

 

First Impression: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katerielle and the Millonaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) ~ Miss Layton

layton lady katrielle mystery journey.jpgWikipedia page

To be honest, when I first heard about the release of this game, I thought that Level5 was going to port the Android spin-off Layton Brothers to the 3DS. Since it has a similar concept. A team that solves smaller cases as a detective and try to solve crimes. Yet, to my surprise, the story of this game goes about the daughter of the famous professor Layton, named Katrielle. While the game first released on mobile devices, I played the 3DS version. I’m used to be playing Professor Layton games on the 3DS, so why change that if I knew that a 3DS version was coming. Since I haven’t played the mobile version, that means I won’t be talking about it in my first impression here either. So, I think it’s time that I talk about this game, is it a good entry into the Layton franchise or is it a spin-off that should only exist one time? As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

It’s Miss Layton now

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-01.jpgIn this game, you play as Katrielle, Layton’s daughter. She just opened a mystery solving shop in London and she is awaiting her first mysteries to solve. Her motto is “any mystery solved”. Together with her assistant named Ernest, you come across a talking dog. Katrielle gives the talking dog a name, Sherl. Yes, as a reference to Sherlock Holmes. The strange thing is that not everybody can hear Sherl talking. Katrielle’s first mystery is trying to solve why that is. Yet, it doesn’t take long before the first case reveals itself and Katrielle gets distracted by solving that. Not too soon after, Katrielle, Ernest, and Sherl go on different adventures to solve cases.

The writing in this game is very lighthearted and a joy to read. I really enjoy how Katrielle does anything for food, how Ernest is the clumsy romantic and Sherl the dog that knows a lot about how humans live their daily lives. The story can take itself seriously when it needs to, but overall, this is a less serious entry into the series compared to the previous games in the series. I’m currently at the 5th case in the game, so it’s possible that it can change. But, we shall see. The voice acting on the characters is also amazing. I think that the cast did an amazing job voicing these characters and make them come to life. A gold star for that!

I do have one minor complaint about the naming of certain characters in the game. The word puns in some cases made me cringe a bit. They didn’t feel creative, they felt forced in. Like, there was a couple where the lady was called Vic and the male called Tim. There were a bit more names like that and it didn’t click with me. I felt that more day-to-day names like Marc, William, Sara, Marian would be fitted better.

The story is structured in such a way that it more resembles a Saturday morning anime. Each case doesn’t take too long to solve, but each case has a nice start, middle and finale. During the case, you gather clues, that you have to fit in a puzzle. While this puzzle is extremely easy to make, I think it’s a step up from the previous Layton games since it’s more than a button that unlocks in a menu.

I do have one complaint about the story actually. I feel like the focus on the backstory of Sherl is a bit too much pushed to the background in the first cases. For real, the twist the game starts with about Sherl didn’t go anywhere substantial in the first four cases. If it did, I must have missed it.

Layton at its core

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-02While this game has a different main cast, the gameplay of this game is still the usual Layton gameplay at its core. In this game, you solve brain teasers and puzzles to get information from people. There are over 150 puzzles in this game. While you don’t have to solve them all to beat the game, there are some points in the game where you need to solve a certain amount of puzzles in order to progress. In this case, the game will clearly state how many you need to solve.

As I said earlier, this game is all about solving mysteries and finding clues to solve that mystery. Like I said before, the game is pretty lighthearted, so the mysteries aren’t; well how shall I put it? A missing pet or a missing part of a movie, that is the two of the first four cases. Yeah, I think that explains itself. So, you have to explore the London to find clues to what happened and how to solve the case.

While you are exploring, you can go to various locations and each location has various things to do. Exploration is just traveling from screen to screen. Sometimes you will have to ride a bike to another remote location, but that is about it. Also, you can only go to screens you unlocked. What I mean by this is that when for example, a lady on street tells you that your client lives a bit more down the road, the map opens up to that location.

This is how exploration always worked in the Layton games. Yet, you can do a lot on each screen. You can find hidden collectibles or puzzles, hint coins, progress the story or get interesting commentary about the object you tapped on. I really advise you to look at each screen with a lot of attention since all those things can be handy in solving the future cases. Especially the hint coins, if you can collect them, that’s always a great idea.

If you have played Layton games before, most hiding spots of the hint coins won’t be a surprise to you. Otherwise, try to tap on everything and it won’t take long before you will start to understand how this whole system works. So, why are these hint coins so handy? Well, let me tell you. You can get a hint when you are stuck in solving a brain teaser. Believe me, some will get you stumped and make you think. A great advice from me is to have a pen and notebook handy and maybe a calculator too.

While you can take notes and draw on the touchscreen while you solve the puzzle, I always felt that this system didn’t work flawlessly. If you want to input an answer, you have to exit out of your notes. In addition to that, I love writing my thoughts more on paper or on a bigger screen than the 3DS’s screen to solve puzzles.

The puzzles that you can solve in this game will range from math riddles to mazes you will have to solve. If you are stuck, don’t hesitate to think outside of the box. Since a lot of answers will simpler then you think. Something I didn’t like about this game is something that Level5 stopped doing in the previous entry in the Layton series. In the first games in the series, they explained the answer. In this game, they don’t always do that. So, when I didn’t understand why I had to answer in a certain way, I was disappointed to see a simple screen saying “you do it!” and nothing more.

Compared to previous Layton games, this game has also some side quests you can perform. During your exploration, you come across various characters who give you a new puzzle that is saved in Katrielle’s trunk. Like a puzzle where you need to solve a maze with the least amount of steps and finding the perfect meal with a cryptic description. Actually, I wouldn’t call them side quests, I think a better name is a side activity or a side puzzle.

Each puzzle is worth a certain amount of picards. The side puzzles aren’t worth any picards. So, what do these picards do? Well, the more you earn, the more bonus material you unlock after finishing the game. So, try to gain as much picards if you can. Since, if you give a wrong answer to a puzzle, the number of picards you earn from that puzzle drop. Keep that in mind if you want to unlock everything.

Visual eye-candy

lady layton 2.jpgThe visual presentation of this game is just amazing. This game has some amazing artwork and is a real piece of visual eye-candy to look at. While the game doesn’t use 3D that often, or at all, I think I can’t decide which art style I like the best for the game. The overall game is 2D, but the character models are rendered in 3D. While in cutscenes, everything is in 2D. I think the screenshots will explain it better than I can with words.

But, there is one thing that I didn’t like about the presentation and that are the cutscenes. To be honest, most cutscenes are just too short. Some cutscenes aren’t longer than one sneeze and blowing your nose. This is a shame since the cutscenes look so well made. I really wish there were longer cutscenes to enjoy. I feel that they are just an afterthought, while they feel like a nice reward for finding a breakthrough or solving the case.

The music for this game is enjoyable as well. The soundtrack isn’t one where I would listen to when I’m doing other things, but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game and I have no complaints about that. The music really fits the Layton universe perfectly, if you didn’t know better, you would say that it’s a soundtrack from another Layton game earlier in the series. The sound design also feels right at home. While there aren’t too many sound effects in the game, when they are used, they are used to give the world a bit more life or the story a bit more punch.

Like previous Layton games, this game also has daily puzzles. But this time, I feel that the reward is better for solving them. As you might know, I’m a game collector and I love seeing artwork from the games I played. So, when you solve a daily puzzle, you will get museum points. If you get 100 museum points, you can unlock artwork from any of the previous titles. This is such a great feature since it pulls on my nostalgic strings so much. To be honest, I spend a lot of time-solving the daily puzzles. I really enjoy solving most of them and I wish that time went a bit faster so I could receive my puzzles a bit faster.

While most of the issues I have with the game are minor, I think this game is still a great game. Some issues I have with the game or some minor, they became a nitpick. For example, I really liked how in previous games, each save slot had a different character from the main cast presenting it. In this game, it’s Katrielle for all three. Yeah, major nitpick right there.

Another minor issue that I have are some parts of the controls. While you can use the “A” button, and strangely enough the arrow buttons, to continue dialogues; you can’t use the psychical buttons for anything else. Besides solving some puzzles. Everything is done using the touchscreen. I really miss some shortcut keys. Like using the circle button to move your looking glass around or the shoulder buttons to open the movement menu or a button to open the trunk like “Y” for example. That would be a great addition.

Then again, there are things in the game I really like. Like how you can decorate the mystery solving office to how you want. Changing the Fengshui if you want. Depending on how many puzzles you solve, you get a ticket to “buy” a new item to change up the decoration of your office.

That isn’t the only thing you can change, there are also outfits for Katrielle you can buy. Some even as DLC for a small fee. While they have only a visual purpose and nothing else, the ones you can buy as DLC have an additional puzzle for you to solve.

About the costumes, there is one minor flaw I have to bring up. You can change Katrielle’s costume at any time you want. Yet, I noticed that Katrielle wears special outfits during other chapters. For example, in one chapter she dresses up in a nice dress since she is going out to see a movie with Ernest. If you exit that case and go to a different case to find hint coins you missed, Katrielle is still wearing that special dress. This is a bit out of context in my eyes and shouldn’t happen. Oh well, only a minor complaint?

Oh yeah, you can go back to previous cases in order to find hint coins and puzzles you missed. The only minor complaint I have is that there is no indication when you missed another collectible in the case. Even an indication on the case brief screen would have been nice. Since, if you skipped over one collectible, have fun looking for it, since the game won’t help you there. On the other hand, I think it’s a great move that you can visit back and solve puzzles you haven’t solved or found and looking for hint coins you missed. The only tip the game gives you there is the screen you missed it on. So, have fun looking for what you missed.

So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game. While the game isn’t flawless at all, I think that the positives outweigh the negatives here. If you are still deciding if this game is for you, know that it’s a more lighthearted Layton game with the same atmosphere and gameplay but without Layton, Luke and the usual gang. This game has a completely new cast of characters. It’s a breath of fresh air for the series and I can’t wait to see where Level5 takes this. I would love to see Katrielle and Layton meet one day.

That is everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

 

Creative Christmas #5: Smooch… I mean smoothy.

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225LaterLevels has a collab this Christmas, but you should already know that since this is the 5th article in the series. I still don’t have a theme for these and I hope I don’t get on the naughty list for this. I mean, I’m trying my best to provide you with interesting entertainment and stories and feelings from my personal life. But, I still don’t have someone special to share it with. For those who didn’t get my subtle clue, I mean a girlfriend. So, let me think about a theme for these articles and meanwhile, you can enjoy my answer to the question of today. 

The party is still going strong and you find yourself conveniently positioned under the mistletoe. Which video game character would you call over for a cheeky kiss?

Oh dear lord, there is a lost of superstition when you kiss somebody under a mistletoe. I mean, I’m not that superstitious, but just in case the girl is that I kiss, is superstitious; I do have to make this one count. So, who would be interested in a 24-year-old Belgian guy who works in education, writes about his life in video games, collects retro and modern games… Wow-ah there Jonez, you aren’t writing a profile for a dating site here.

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I mean, maybe a simple British woman would be interested. A classy but adventurous lady. Someone like Lady Croft. She was my first crush when it comes to video games. (Just like many other males I think).

Actually, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’m not that adventurous in real life and I think I’ll just get in her way. So, Lara Croft, I’m sorry. I have to pass on you.

Elizabeth-COh, I have an idea! Maybe Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite! A lady I have a who lot of respect for. I mean, just look at her, she is a smart and caring lady that I can get behind.

When things get heated, you can be sure she can take care of herself. She got into multiple heated firefights with Booker after all.

Alas, I don’t think this would be a very wise choice. Without spoiling anything, just play Bioshock Infinite or look at it’s ending to understand what I mean. There is something about her that would make it pretty hard for her to have a boyfriend you know.

Maybe I’m thinking about this too much. Maybe, I’m taking this question a bit too serious. I mean, a cheeky innocent kiss. That isn’t a confession of love right? It’s not that I’m saying that I like her, right? Besides, I might get myself in an anime style war called that “Waifu” war here if I take things too seriously. Gosh darn, I’m raising the stakes even higher for myself now. I have to take something that offends almost nobody to avoid the “Waifu war” in the comments.

Sakuya

That would mean that somebody like Sakuya from Stella Glow would be a bad pick too. Since, if I would pick here, fans from the game will maybe argue with me that Popo or Risette is a better girl.

In addition to that, if I had to choose between her songs and Popo’s; dear lord, I would have a big problem on my hands.

Oh yeah, maybe some context for the people who haven’t played the game yet. In Stella Glow’s world, nobody can sing apart from witches who can use magic by singing. Yeah.

Also, I will have an even more hard time with Sakuya since one of my absolute favorite characters in the game in Nonoka, Sakuya’s servant. So, I think I won’t ask her.

So, I still don’t have an answer to this question. Besides, I think I should answer honestly since this is my blog after all. I pride myself on giving my opinion to the world about the games I recently played. I think I might be superstitious after all. I think about this too much.

… Princess Zelda? No! Link would be so mad and besides that, Zelda’s fate in the legends is always so hard on the emotions, I think I will be able to handle that.

… Princess Peach, well, I think Mario will stomp me to a pulp. So, no. I think I’ll pass there too.

FredericaMaybe Frederica from Etrain Odyssey Untold? That would be a lovely idea too, but then again; she is urhm… Well; just play the game and you will understand why. On second thought, I think I wouldn’t mind a kiss from her.

I can relate somewhat to her. When I meet people for the first time, I’m a bit distant too. But, I open up more and more when I get to know the other people and to trust them.

I also have difficulties to express my feelings to others. I’m also shy as well. So, I think I might be able to match with Frederica.

I wouldn’t mind a kiss from her under that mistletoe from her. At those moments, I wish that the superstitions were true, you know? Since she deserves all the good luck she can get. Or did I look too deep into this? Who knows, who can say?

Maybe I was playing a role all along in this article you know. So, while I’m standing underneath this mistletoe, Frederica you want a smooch– I mean a smoothy? Phew, nice save there.

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

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/

Creative Christmas #4 – Jamming those tunes

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Another day and still no good idea for a theme for these articles. Maybe I’m having a writer overload. You know that feeling when you have so many ideas that you want to write about but you are unable to decide which idea is the best one to go with the article? Perhaps that’s going on. Oh, you started to read this article as the first one? Well, let me explain something then. This is the 4th article in the “Creative Christmas” series, where LaterLevels asked several bloggers to answer a question each and every day. Let me introduce today’s question while I play some music and try to focus on getting the perfect idea for a theming of these articles. 

It’s now Christmas Eve and you’re throwing a lively party for all your friends, family and favourite characters. Which video game soundtracks would be on your playlist?

This is an interesting question. While I have written various articles about gaming music in the past like the one where I talk about my favorite soundtracks per platform, I think I should think about the situation here. par

Electronic Super Joy SoundtrackFirst of all, define lively. If it needs to be a party with a dance floor, I think I could go with the soundtrack of games like Electronic Super Joy.

The whole soundtrack can be considered as party numbers. Too bad, that I’m such a bad dancer, so I think I will just enjoy myself watching the people dance on this soundtrack.

It’s strange, I enjoy listening to these tracks, but dancing on them is a no-go for me. I just don’t like dancing, to be honest.

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The big issue to answer this question is that most games I play don’t have a soundtrack that is energetic enough to have a lively party. Or I need to go with remixes and video game medleys like this one of Dunderpatrullen. These can bring so much joy in parties since you start to remember your favorite games and their memories. Oh, and LaterLevels, if you are reading this; surely listen till around the 3-4 minute mark. You are welcome.

In that same spirit, The GAG Quartet also made an amazing medley in a rock/metal version. This one could be on my playlist as well.

But speaking about remixes, I think the artists who created the Essence of Lime and Lime of The Season are just amazing. They pull onto my nostalgic strings so much since they remixed almost the WHOLE soundtrack both games. This is just mindblowing and the art as amazing as well.

I could also mention Overclocked Remix, if you know about a game, there is a chance there is a remix or something along those lines ready for you there. I think I would get my complete party playlist from this website, to be honest.

If you mean lively as in, background music since the party is already loud; well, then I have a few suggestions too. The soundtrack from Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, OneShot can be such relaxing music to listen too.

So, before I close off this article I want to leave you with one soundtrack that amazed me this year. The soundtrack from Outlaws. If you love western music, seriously check this one out. It’ll be right up your alley.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say for 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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/

Creative Christmas #3 – Help Santa!

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So, today is another day and another question to answer in the mega blogging collab of LaterLevels. I’m still unsure if I should theme these articles since the goal is being creative. But, if I start a theme now, it’s a shame that the first two articles in this series didn’t have a theme. Actually, I think that shouldn’t be such a big problem. Yet, I think that editing my previous articles in this collab to fit a theme would be a bad idea to do… Hrm, while I think about it, here is my answer to today’s question.

You receive a call from Santa, as the elves desperately need a hand in the workshop getting all the toys ready. Which video game character would you recruit to help out?

So, who could help Santa in getting all toys ready? It should be a character that can work fast for sure. Sonic, maybe? Nah, I don’t think that will be a good idea since he most likely will break a lot of the tools since he is too fast.

I could put in “Sinterklaas“, a tradition here in Belgium & the Netherlands that’s extremely similar to Saint Nick. You know, you can call them almost brothers. But, since he isn’t really a video game character in the first place and more of a tradition, I don’t think it would count.

937428-asterix.jpgMaybe Asterix & Obelix? They got powerful druids who can make special elixirs that make them super fast and super strong. But then again, they are more comic book characters who got some pretty amazing games and they will have the same problem that Sonic has, they would be way too fast and the tools might not be able to follow.

Putt-Putt_&_Pep.pngOh, maybe Putt-Putt? He had a Christmas book, called “The Night For Christmas“. That might work if we would live in car town that is. And sadly enough, we aren’t. Man, this is getting tricky.

Each time when I think of a character, something doesn’t click with me. Something deep inside me tells me that they aren’t the perfect character to help Saint Nick out to save Christmas.

You know, I was also thinking about some ridiculous ideas that might just work. Somebody like Paperboy could help with his experience in delivering newspapers in the craziest neighborhoods, but then again, that might not help a lot in creating toys.

At this moment, I dove in my game collection and looked through it. There had to be one game with a character in it that could help Saint Nick to create all these presents? I quickly threw Elf Bowling 1&2 on the DS to the side. I still shiver at the idea of putting those characters in my article to answer this question. I mean, that might be the reason why Saint Nick needs help since the elves are on strike and he doesn’t want to use them as bowling pins since that idea became a terrible game…

For real, this question stumped me for a while. I kept looking through my collection. I didn’t want to give a cheap answer and tell that Saint Nick can help too since he appears in various games, or say that a whole cast of characters from some game could help since they are with a lot of people…

Various characters passed my eyes as a possibility. Steve from Minecraft and the Sims are just two possibilities. But, then again, those aren’t too memorable characters since you create their story and you decide it all for yourself.

Maybe Guybrush Threepwood? Then again, rather not. I think he will just create something that looks like a toy and steal it afterward since he is a pirate, har har! Nah, I need somebody else.

Layton

This was becoming a real tricky puzzle for me to crack. I really had to have somebody who is kind hearted, a hard worker and a gentleman or a gentlewoman.

I wasn’t able to solve this one, but I’m sure that Professor Layton will know some tricks. Wait a minute. I think I can suggest him.

Yeah, he would really be able to help Saint Nick and with his knowledge of solving puzzles, he might be able to quickly think of a solution to help Saint Nick in his quest to finish all toys in time. This will work out just fine. If Layton is on the case, I know that this issue will be resolved no matter what.

So, that’s my answer. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until they have a great rest of your day and take care!

More answers here: https://laterlevels.com/2017/12/21/creative-christmas-santas-workshop/

Creative Christmas: A Gaming Collaboration – Day 1: Gifting

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225So, today something special starts. A collaboration with my friends from LaterLevels about Christmas. For the upcoming days, I’ll post an (short) article every day apart from the 24th and 25th. In these article’s, I’ll answer a question asked by LaterLevels. Keep your eyes peeled on this since a lot of other bloggers are joining in! I’ll be retweeting other articles that I come across. In any case, I think it’s enough stalling here. Time to get into the first question!

Question: You need to choose a gift for someone special and go online to check out the video game item catalog. Who is this person and what present would you select for them?

This would highly depend on the person I would choose. You can take the “special someone” in such a broad way. At this moment in time, I’m a single man, so I can’t buy a gift for my significant other.

If I would take some coworkers who would mean a lot to me, as the “special someone” in this situation, I think I’ll come up short handed with the second part of the question. As far as I know, none of my coworkers is really that into gaming, so a gaming related gift wouldn’t be suitable.

The same thing goes to almost every member of my family. Apart from three people. First is my sister. She plays games but very occasionally. She plays games like League of Legends, The Sims, Rollercoaster Tycoon and a few others. But, it isn’t her main interest. Besides, a few years ago, she gave all her games to me to add to my collection. So, let’s go to the second person.

That would be my uncle. He plays a lot of stealth and country management games. When he has the time, he boots up a game and starts playing. Keyword being time here. My aunt and uncle got a daughter a few years ago and his focus goes more to his daughter then to video games. I see him rarely online on Steam and he mostly plays Assassin’s Creed or GTA. I think that the 3rd person who plays games in my family would be more happy with a gift actually.

That would be my cousin. While she does play games from time to time, according to me, her favorite gaming moments are the moments she shares with me. Together we played through so many different games. We played games like BoomBlox (Wii), Kirby’s Adventure (Wii), Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) amongst others. Often she likes to watch me play games, that she finds too difficult to play herself. I commentate over them and let her make the decisions here and there.

She also loves taking a look at the games in my collection and when she sees a game that she really likes, she wants to buy it for herself.

minecraft

A few years ago, I bought her a copy of Minecraft for the PC. And let me be real here, I can’t keep count anymore for how long we played Minecraft together. The annoying thing is that her laptop isn’t that powerful so she has to play Minecraft at the lowest setting to be even playable.

If I would have the budget, I would love to buy her a laptop that can run Minecraft better. Why a laptop? Well, since she would love to take her creations everywhere she goes without having to save her worlds somewhere on a USB or in the cloud. She isn’t that tech savvy and just buying a laptop would make that easier.

I could also buy her a NEW 2DS and a copy of Minecraft on that. I think she would be extremely happy with that too.

So, why would I gift something to my cousin? Why is she so special to me? I’m her godfather after all and I want nothing more for my godchild that she is happy and has a great time.

That’s my answer to this question. Tune in tomorrow for another question! Also, keep an eye on LaterLevels, since they are going to show an overview of all the answers.

First Impressions: Suicide Guy (PC  – Steam) ~ How Do I Die This Time?

Suicide Guy 1Steam page

In most games, your goal is to accomplish a goal alive. Yet, there are a few games that challenge you to do the exact opposite. This is one of these games. Your goal is to try and die in your dream to hopefully wake up and catch the beer you dropped. So, will this guy be able to drop his beer before it hits the ground? Full disclosure, I got a review code for this game. So, with that said, it’s time to talk about this game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion/thoughts on the content of this article and/or the game.

Note: for this review, I haven’t fully beaten the game, that’s why it’s the first impression. Also, I have played v1.2.1 released on September 18th.

The tavern hub

Suicide Guy 2Like I said in the introduction of this article, the goal is to die in each dream to try and wake up so you can catch your falling beer. The story is basic but it fits the theme rather well. This game is a hybrid of a puzzle, action, adventure and platform game. The story takes a backseat for most of the game and honestly, I’m glad for that.

I expected much worse things when I heard the title. I expected the story to be about a highly depressed man who wanted to die as quickly as possible. But the story is lighthearted and that makes the game even more enjoyable.

So, after the first dream that acts like a tutorial, you get sent to the hub world. The hub world is a big tavern with all the tables a separate level. The level you have to beat will have a light shining on it, all the beaten levels will have their icon without said light. I really like the hub world since on the monitors you still see your main objective, wake up and catch that beer.

The hub world also helps build the character you play as a bit more. I’m under the impression is a somebody who owns his own tavern at the side of the road who is on holiday watching TV. Or perhaps, I might be looking way too much into this.

The icons you see on the tables is also a quick representation of what the level is going to be about. You can also see if you have collected the statue of that level. When you have found the hidden statue in the level, it will be displayed on the table. I really like the design of the statues, since the pose has always something to do with the level theme.

I have two issues with this hub world and that is the in some occasions, the sound effect for the level doesn’t start playing when you quickly walk between levels.

The second issue I have is with the placement of the levels. Levels 1 to 7 are placed in such a strange order; levels 1,2,3 and 7 are placed on one row and 4,5,6 are placed on the other row. I personally place them in a more linear order. The reason why I talk so much in-depth about this is that from level 7 to level 25, it’s all placed in a linear order. So, why not the first few levels.

How shall we beat this level?

Suicide Guy 3The goal of each level is simple. Find the end of the level to try and commit suicide. Like I said before, in each level, you have a statue to find too. This is optional as far as I know.

Once you collect the statue, it stays collected. So, if you didn’t find the statue the first time, you can enter the level and find it. You don’t have to beat the level to keep the statue. Most of them are in plain sight and if you explore just a little bit, the statues are easily found.

I really love the theming of each level. Some levels are even a reference to other popular games or movies. There is even a level based on Indiana Jones, my favorite movie series!

Visually, this game is very pretty. I think it’s a quite impressive display. The only thing I don’t like about the visual presentation when you crouch and you look up, you see what I think are the tops of the arm models. I have seen this for the first time in the 8th level.

The animations are also great. You can see a big visual difference between the graphical settings. I ran the game on high settings since the normal settings had some elements that I didn’t like too much. The shadows for example where too blocky. If you can avoid it, don’t use the lowest graphics settings. The lighting engine goes banana’s then and makes the levels too bright. The game has rather low system requirements, so I think not a lot of modern computers will have trouble with it.

There are a few areas that could some polish visually. Some parts of decorative walls aren’t solid and sometimes the skybox is shown in-doors. Most of the times, these problems are quite minor and will only annoy you if you look for them. I have notified the developer of all instances I found.

Shall we catch that beer?

Suicide Guy 4This game has controller support. I haven’t tested it out with my controller, but I have played the game using a mouse and keyboard.

One annoying thing about the controls is that you can’t rebind them. This isn’t such a big issue if you use QWERTY-keyboards. Sadly enough, here in Belgium, we use AZERTY keyboards so I was annoyed that I had to change my keyboard language to QWERTY to easily play the game. If this could be fixed, I would be a very happy camper.

The UI of this game is pretty good. I have only one complaint, I think that the “select level” button in the main menu is not needed. The hub area covered that already.

The biggest problems with this game are the awkward items and jump controls you must get used to. The problem with the item controls is that the “pick up items” button is a physical button and the “use items” button is the left mouse button. I think it would be better if either both are buttons or both actions use the mouse.

The problem I have with the jumping is that you don’t always know if the character is going to grab and climb up a ledge or not. Maybe a bit more of a visual indicator would be helpful. In most levels, there isn’t a lot of jumping that you must do. So, it isn’t that big of a problem since you get used to it quickly.

Each level isn’t too long. If you know what you are doing, some levels can be beaten in 1 or 2 minutes. In addition to that, if you screwed up and got stuck somewhere, you can easily restart the level without losing too much progress.

If you commit to it, you can beat this game in an afternoon. The game doesn’t take longer than 2 and half hours to beat. This makes the game ideal for speed running. I think that this game would be better if there is a “speed running mode”, where there is a timer in the bottom of the screen and after you have beaten the game, you see a results screen that you could possibly share online, on how fast you beat each level and the entire game.

One thing that I missed in this game is a sort of hint system. One time, I was really stuck on the Mario level. I didn’t want to look up a walkthrough, but I did want a hint. It took a bit too long to figure out what I had to do to climb up to the second ledge.

The soundtrack of this game is excellent. You also can get the soundtrack for the game data folder. If you enjoy the soundtrack, you can listen to it everywhere you want. Something quite unique is the fact that the music plays through the radios scattered around the level. You can pick up those radios to take the music with you or shut them off if you don’t want to hear the music. Pretty great mechanic.

This game isn’t too difficult, once you figure out what you should do, it’s straightforward. This game can be challenging when you don’t see the solution, but overall, it’s quite simple.

There are also Steam Achievements and Steam Trading Cards for those who are interesting in those.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I can’t wait to fully beat it myself. Currently, I’m halfway done. If I had to give a score of what I played so far, I would give the game a 7/10. This game is a very fun game but it’s rather short. It’s ideal for casual players or gamers who want to play something quick and different. Also, for the cheap price tag of 5€, you can’t complain. This game has a lot of polish and soul put into it and it’s a bargain for that price.

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

Gamer’s Thoughts: Advice to buy a gaming desktop/laptop

HP OmenAs the techy in my family, I’m often asked for advice when somebody wants to buy a new laptop or desktop. So, in this article, I’m going to share the advice I often provide to my friends and family when they are looking for a new computer. An interesting place to start is the new HP Omen laptops. Here is a good link to find more information about that. Also, I invite other techies to provide their tips in the comment section. Since, I don’t know everything that there is to know about computers, sharing information is so important. It’s better than starting a discussion about who is right or wrong. I’ll do my best to reply to every question to have to the best of my abilities, so feel free to ask that too in the comments. Enough introduction, so lets’s get into it.

Before you start.

Before I start looking for a good laptop or desktop to suggest to the person looking for a new computer, you need an answer on a few things.

First of all, pin down what your computer should be capable to do. How much horse power do you actually need? Take a look at what you do on the computer and try to decide if your current computer is strong enough or not. When you are deciding this, also take a look at the future. Especially when you play a lot of games on your computer, keeping in mind that games will require more demanding hardware in the future.

Secondly, decide if you want to go with a brand or build your own device. In my opinion, I think it’s best to go for a desktop if you don’t travel a lot. If you play a lot of games, I wouldn’t recommend an Apple computer then. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Apple computers are bad for gaming. The thing is that you can’t easily upgrade an existing Mac computer to have newer components compared to non-Apple products.

I’m convinced that a lot of techies will say that you need to build your own computer if you want to play games on it. While you can certainly consider this option, I would only recommend that to more experienced computer users. The big difference is that you have better support when you buy a branded computer. Since then you can return it to a shop. Thankfully, there are some computer shops out there that help a customer build their own computer and have a warranty on it.

And the 3rd thing is something I already touched on earlier, which brand should you take. While I have put my own gaming desktop together now, I have some experiences with some brands in the past. I have good experiences with Asus, Lenovo and HP devices. I didn’t have the best experiences with Dell laptops. But, do your own research. Look up reviews for various devices from that brand before you make a decision.

Before we continue, the advice I’m going to give in the remainder of this article are things that I say out of my personal experience. If you are looking for a new computer, ask for a 2nd opinion when possible. Having two or more opinions can be helpful to make a wise decision.

Personally, I think it’s not always the best idea to buy the latest of the latest computer that is out on the market. My reason for that is because there isn’t always support out there. When a product has been on the market for a few months, the most common problems have been fixed and various troubleshooting steps can be found on tech forums and various other sources.

Before we start talking about the parts, I have one more general thing to say. Always make your computer somewhat future proof. If you have the budget, don’t settle with just strong enough specs. Take a bit higher specs than you need. This makes your computer future proof and this way you don’t need to upgrade or replace your computer after a while when it’s not strong enough for the latest games you want to play.

Paying attention to the parts

Let’s talk about parts. In the section, I tried to make the advice as general as possible, but some things will only apply to people who decide to build their own computer.

Which is the most important part in the computer? In my opinion, I think that the CPU is one of the most important parts of your computer. The faster and the more cores a CPU has, the better in my opinion. If you play games, I would recommend an i7-processor at least. The reason why you need to invest in a good processor is simple. You can have a powerful graphics card or really fast RAM if the CPU can’t process your requests fast enough, the bottleneck is real. If you can overspend on a part, do it for your CPU.

When you decide on which motherboard to take, check if it has enough features to power all the ports you want. Do it have enough expansion slots? Since you might need it when you want to put in more graphics cards or a high-end audio card. Personally, I’m a fan of ASRock and ASUS motherboards.

I want to talk about power supplies. When you are building your own computer, make sure that your power supply is beefy enough. One time, my own computer had issues where it shut down on its own when running high demanding programs. After a lot of troubleshooting and research, I discovered that my power supply didn’t provide enough power to my devices to run properly. Make sure that your power supply has provided enough Watt. Personally, I recommend 100W more than what’s needed to power your computer. There are various tools that you can use to calculate how much power your computer needs. One I used is the one of CoolerMaster.

How much RAM do you need? That’s an interesting question. At the moment of writing this article, I think that a minimum of 8GB of DDR4 RAM should do the trick. Personally, I have more RAM on my main desktop because I use my desktop for virtualization and that requires a strong CPU and a lot of RAM.

In terms of graphics cards, I have experience with both AMD and NVidia cards. While talking about this could be a whole article on its own, but I think that this article from TechRadar is a great resource. Personally, I have a NVidia GeForce 660 in my main desktop. I have chosen for a weaker graphics card since I don’t mind lowering the graphics settings to play a game. I also play a lot of retro games, so I don’t need a strong graphics card for that.

If it’s possible, I think it’s a really wise idea to have an SSD and an HDD for storage. Install your operating system on the SSD and install your programs and store your data on the HDD. In my main desktop, I have a 256GB SSD and a 3TB HDD. I know that there are 1TB and higher out there. But, I was a bit on a budget and decided to save a bit of money on storage.  I installed my operating system, drivers and frequently used programs on my SSD. I can assure you that this runs quite fast. I barely have time to open my water bottle and take a drink before Windows loads.

Also, I have another reason why you should store your important data on an HDD. At this moment in time, data recovery from an SSD is very difficult. I have read some sources saying that it’s nearly impossible to do. So, keep that in mind when you decide to buy that 1TB SSD. An SSD is a fast hard drive, but if it goes bad, you might not be able to recover your data. Unless you pay a lot of money for it to let it be recovered at a professional data recovery center. If you want a comparison, here is another interesting article written by the people over at VersionDaily.

Another quite important thing to decide is the cooling. Do you choose for water cooling or not. So far, I don’t have experience with water cooling. I’m also somewhat paranoid with liquids close to my electronic devices. While I have heard a lot of great things about water cooling, I’m not really convinced about it. PCWorld wrote a good article about this.

Personally, I don’t know enough to give advice on sound cards. So, that’s why I provide a link to Lifewire to their article about sound cards.

The final part I want to talk about is the case. If you built a computer, deciding on the case is important. Since that is the thing you will look at the most when you buy/build your computer. Personally, I have only used cases from Corsair and I’m quite happy with them. Something I really like is that they provide parts like hard disk trays on their web shop for decent prices.

When you decide on parts, always read reviews about it. What are the most common problems and are the fixes for it! Always inform yourself, but don’t over-inform yourself. Having too much information isn’t good either. Another good resource is PCPartPicker.com. This is an amazing website that will help you when you are going to build your computer. There you also find various builds that can provide as an example.

Final thoughts

So, I think I said everything I wanted to say. When you are picking a new computer to play games on, first educate yourself and decide what you need before you go looking at computers. When you have a good idea of what you want, you can make better decisions.

If you have the technical know-how or know somebody (or some shop) that can help you build your own computer, I recommend that for playing games. But, keep in mind that repairing it will more troublesome compared to a computer you buy from a brand.

If you want to know more, watch some build videos from good tech channels. Personally, I can recommend Carey Holzman, Linus Tech Tips, JayzTwoCents, Bitwit and Austin Evans.

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

Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of Time / Darkness & Sky (DS) ~ Expansion Dungeon?

PMD3

Wikipedia entry

So, remember when Nintendo released an enhanced version of each generation? Games like Pokémon Yellow, Crystal, Emerald and Platinum come to mind. Well, they also did that once for their Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. When Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness released, a year later Nintendo released Explorers of the Sky. I have beaten Explorers of Time but I haven’t beaten this updated version yet. Why did I decide to write a review then? Well, the core mechanics haven’t changed in this version. In any case, it’s time to take a look at this game, what do I think about this entry in one of my favorite game series? As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the game. 

250px-MD_Time_EN_boxart

Note: In this review, I will focus mostly on the Sky version of the game. But my thoughts in this review apply to all versions of this game except the exclusive stuff in the Sky version.

Note 2: To avoid mentioning the full title of the game every time, I refer to the games by only using the last word in the title.

Let’s form a guild

Pokemon mystery dungeon explorers of the sky 2

So, you start up a new game and you get a personality quiz. This will decide which Pokémon you will be during the whole adventure. For some reason, I love doing this quiz. I have played it various times and I always end up with the same Pokémon.

So, the story of this game. You play as a human that got turned into a Pokémon. You meet your partner on the beach. After your partner gets his special artifact stolen from some rival gang, you and your partner go and reclaim the stolen artifact. After you have helped your partner, both of you team up and go join the local guild.

When you join the local guild, you learn that somebody is stealing the time gears and which controls time in that given area. So, you set out on an adventure to stop this madness and restore peace to the land.

And that’s just the basic part of the story. This story goes much deeper. You go on various quests and adventures, it’s great. The writing in this game is great, but some jokes are more aimed at the younger audience. In the Sky version, there is additional backstory added to the game. There is also a longer epilog added to the game. I still have to finish the epilog, but I love the added stories so far.

The visual presentation of this game is, as you would expect from a Nintendo game, excellent. I can understand that the visuals might turn some people off since they aren’t upgraded too much from the original GBA title. Still, the detail in the artwork is well done. Also, the gorgeous full-screen pictures are an amazing touch. A common criticism of this game is that

A common criticism of this game is that the dialogues go on and on for too long. I honestly didn’t mind this too much, but I do understand why people complain. This game could have benefitted from some cutscenes, even when it’s just a big picture that goes over the two DS screens.

Was this needed?

620279-pokemon-mystery-dungeon-explorers-of-sky-nintendo-ds-screenshot

The expanded Sky version has a very mixed reception. While some reviewers hated this version, some reviewers loved it. The biggest issue is that the things that were added in this version were somewhat minor at first. Why do I say minor at first? Well, this version has much more polish than the original versions.

Why do I say minor at first? Well, this version has much more polish than the original versions. Also, there are some many things added like: new dungeons, new story, more starters, new places and shops… But most of them appear after a bit of playtime or is post game content.

I think that this could have been handled better. I think that the Sky version should have been the only one that got released. It’s the superior version of Time and Darkness. So, if you haven’t played these games yet, don’t bother with Time and Darkness, play the Sky version.

Another interesting idea would be a sort of “save file transfer” feature. So, that you transfer your save file from either Time or Darkness to Sky and you get direct access to the new features without having to replay the whole game.

If you have played Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue or Red Rescue Team, you know what you can expect in this game. You go through randomized dungeons while fighting various other rogue Pokémon. Your goal is to reach the end of the dungeon so you can continue to the story.

Sometimes you have sentry duty over at the guild. Then you have to guess which 250px-MD_Darkness_EN_boxartPokémon wants to enter the guild. I think this mini game would be pretty tricky if you aren’t familiar with Pokémon. But, if you are familiar with Pokémon, this shouldn’t give you too much trouble.

When you aren’t exploring a dungeon, you can go and visit the local town to buy items and upgrade your Pokémon. You can also go on various side quests and/or hunt after wanted criminals.

The core gameplay can be repetitive, yet enjoyable. If you play this game more an extended amount of time, it might get boring. But, if you spice things up with some side quests and trying to progress the story, the game stays enjoyable.

In Sky, there is a new Spinda Café added, which adds some new mechanics into the game. But, I’ll leave that for you to find out. One of them is a recycling mechanic and another is the lottery mechanic. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Check it out since it will help you in your journey.

When you die in a dungeon, you get kicked back to the start of the dungeon or the mid-way checkpoint. The catch is that you lose some items and almost all your cash. So be careful what you take with you since you can loose it when you aren’t careful.

The music for this game is excellent. There is one song that almost every time hits a cord with me. That song’s name is “Don’t Ever Forget – I don’t want to say goodbye…” and it plays near the climax of the whole game. To avoid spoilers, I’m not going to say too much about it, but it still gives me goosebumps while writing this part of the review. And I’m not the only one. Just go on YouTube and read the comments. Yeah, you will understand what I mean.

The music adds so much to this game. There are so many memorable moments that are made so much more powerful with the soundtrack. So, I highly recommend playing this game with a good pair of headphones. Thank me later.

A quick note about the sound design, it’s great. But honestly, due to the amazing soundtrack, it didn’t pay too much attention to the sound design to comment too much about it.

Snatch that jewel

Pokemon mystery dungeon explorers of the sky 1

This game can be pretty difficult in some places. But, most of those moments can be defeated with some grinding. Yet, sometimes you have or can get lucky and finish a difficult dungeon by finding the stairs on each floor.

In Sky, there are various tweaks at the difficulty. But the random monster houses can be so cheap. I died more than once because of this.

The controls for this game are great. I didn’t have any problems with them. The only annoying thing is that you attacking diagonally is a nightmare. I had to struggle with the controls more than once to do that. Also, attacking at a corner doesn’t work. Your attack always misses. This is fixed in later entries in the series.

Due to the randomized nature of the dungeons you enter, there is a lot of replay value in this game. But, you will miss a skip button for skipping the story bits.

Speaking about that, something that annoyed me was the end of the day after you finished your missions. You go through dinner with your guild and it takes a bit too long. I honestly think that a skip button for this would help. But, that would be tricky since sometimes at night time, you get important story bits. So, I can understand why it isn’t added.

This game’s length is great. If you play through the game to just beat the main story, you will have 30-ish hours of gameplay ahead of you. But, I have read that when you want to complete this game, you have over 150 hours of game time ahead of you.

So, that’s everything I wanted to talk about in this game. I didn’t talk about some parts, but hey, that means there are still surprises for you to find when you decide to give this game a try. So, it’s time to wrap up this whole review in the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Some minor issues like not being able to attack at corners aren’t fixed from the previous entry in the series.

-The bad reception for the Sky version is understandable. Due to the release of Sky, the Darkness and Time versions look unpolished.

-This game could have benefitted from some cutscenes.

-A skip button for the story isn’t here. This would benefit 2nd playthroughs so much.

The good:

+ Great story and writing.

+ Great visuals.

+ Amazing music.

+ Fun, yet sometimes repetitive, gameplay.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you want to give this game a shot, I highly recommend playing the Sky version. If you think the games are worth a replay, you might give the Time & Darkness a chance. But remember, like I said in the review, the Sky version is better since it has much more polish than the originals.

This game is excellent. This game is one of my favorite games in the series and I can’t wait to finish the additional content. I have beaten this game at least 4 times, so that’s why I wrote a review instead of a first impression.

I can understand people who are let down by the Sky version since they played Darkness and/or Time first. But, don’t let it discourage you to not play this game. You would miss out on a great Pokémon spin-off that is slowly growing into an amazing series.

This game doesn’t have too many flaws, but the flaws it has aren’t too big of a deal in my eyes. They didn’t stop me from enjoying the game and having a great time.

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

Score: 95/100