Tag Archives: II

First Impression: Project Zero 2 – The Crimson Butterfly (PS2) ~ A Sisterly Bond

Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly

Wikipedia entry

Ah Fatal Frame, a series I found quite interesting when I was a little child but fell in love with a few years ago when I was able to get my hands on a collector’s edition of the Wii U entry in the series. It was the 5th entry in the series and I loved it so much, I started to hunt down all the other entries in the series. Last year, I was able to get myself all the European released games on PS2, in a physical copy! While testing them out, I enjoyed myself quite a lot with Fatal Frame 2. So, I kept playing that game. It’s no secret that I enjoyed myself with this game since I gave a spot on my top 10 games I played in 2018. So what are my actual opinions on this game? Well, let’s find out! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

PS: The article was originally going to be published this Sunday, but because today is my 26th birthday, I decided to publish it today as a birthday special.

A sisterly bond

fatal frame II screenshot 2The story starts out with two sisters running around in the forest playing. Suddenly, the pass a stone and it looks like the duo entered another dimension. The two get terrified that there is no easy way out and even worse, the two split up. Not willing, mind you. One of the two sisters gets mesmerized with a crimson butterfly that she keeps following.

So, you need to go look for your sister in a creepy and haunted town while you need to escape ghosts and try to find an exit of the city. The setting for this horror game is excellent. The voice acting in this game is really well done, the voices of the two sisters are excellent. I also loved the performances of the ghosts since they kept me on the edge of my seat in certain battles.

The story is mostly told through notes, cutscenes and the environment.  There are moments you are together with your sister and there are moments she sees that damned butterfly again.  She really likes these red butterflies. Now, the story so far has been quite enjoyable. While sometimes I feel that the story is mostly used to string levels and areas together, it’s executed extremely well. I really felt that something strange was happening and that there were higher powers at play.

Now, I am quite curious about where the story of this game will go. The mysteries are getting unrevealed slowly but I still don’t have any answers. Now, do you need to play the first game before you can understand the story of the 2nd game? Well, not at all. The story is totally independent of the first game, while a lot of story mechanics return in the second game, all the characters are new.

Also, I haven’t beaten the original game myself. Now, you might wonder why I have chosen to play this game on the PS2 and not go for the director to cut on the XBOX or Wii. That has two reasons. One, I don’t own an XBOX and two, the physical copy of the Wii game is extremely expensive. Now, when I was finishing up this review, I discovered that the game got released on the Nintendo eShop, so I bought myself a digital copy.

Anyways, we are getting off track here. The story itself is interesting. It’s two-fold actually. In one part, it’s about how to escape the village and in another part, it’s about saving your sister. So, I have the impression that this game has multiple endings. But, I have to beat the game to know that for sure!

Spooky Camera

project_zero_2-6Because this is a Fatal Frame game, the Camera Obscura shows itself again. If you have played any other games in the series, you know how this game plays. In this game, you have to explore an area that’s filled with ghosts. Some ghosts aren’t hostile but most of them are hostile. In order to defeat the ghosts, you have to take pictures of the ghosts. The better they are in the frame, the more damage they receive. The damage also depends on the film you use. There is an aspect of survival horror to this game since the amount of film isn’t infinite. The stronger films are really hard to find and quite rare.

Combat in this game is an awkward dance with the ghosts. You have to come close to snap a good picture. But, if they are too close, they can grab you and you get damage. So, you have to move backward. Now, the camera you use is quite old. So, it needs to recharge after each use. You have audio and visual cues to see when the camera is recharging.

To be honest, I found the combat controls better in the Wii U game I played. In my review of Resident Evil 4, I mentioned that I had difficulty with aiming my gun on the PlayStation 2. The same thing applies here. So, each play session, I have to get used to the controls. It doesn’t take too long, but it makes me miss the Wii U controls. Maybe when I play the Wii version, I won’t have this issue too much.

Now, this game doesn’t have an autosave. Much like Resident Evil 4, you can save at certain locations. In this game, it’s a red lantern on a pedestal. You have a limited amount of save slots, but that doesn’t bother me too much since it helps me to get more points. Side note, there is an improvement over the save system of Resident Evil since there is a small picture accompanying the save file.

Yes, the better the image, the higher the points you get. These points can be used to upgrade your camera. Upgrades like shutter speed or damage output. You can also find upgrades in various, sometimes hidden, locations to get certain things up to a higher level. There is a safer way of earning points as well. If you are able to take a picture of the scripted harmless ghosts, you get some bonus points. So, it’s highly advised to explore around and not go to solve the puzzles straight away.

Oh yes, this game has puzzles. Some of the puzzles require you to analyze a photograph and try to work out where it came from. Other puzzles require you to find a certain key item to open a door or to lift a curse on a door in order to progress.

Like a lot of other survival horror games, this game also suffers from some jump scares. Now, I find the build-up to the jump scares pretty good. Most of the jump scares happen a bit off-screen when you haven’t encountered a ghost for a while. In the Wii U game, the jump scares were way worse. Also, it’s quite possible to miss some jump scares if you didn’t explore certain areas of the room.

Exploring the city and the buildings is made much easier with a great map system. The map draws itself while you are exploring. The area only adds itself when the area is discovered. Also, when a door is locked, the door isn’t shown in blue but in red. Now, if you unlock a door when solving a puzzle that is somewhere else on the map, I don’t know for sure if the door also changes to blue. Since, to be honest, I haven’t paid attention to that.

There are a few additional things to the combat and gameplay I’m going to keep a secret for this article. The only thing I’ll say about it is that there are a combo system and a few other features. The camera is used in so many different unique and creative ways, it keeps the mechanic from being repetitive.

 The atmosphere in the dark

fatal frame II screenshotThis game is totally worth to wear the title of a horror game. The atmosphere of the game is done extremely well. While this game first released on the PS, this game still looks amazing to this day. Some models and textures do show their age, but the lighting and visual design give an extremely creepy atmosphere. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat during most of my play sessions. I even went as far as closing the curtains of my room or to play this game at night with a good pair of headphones and in the dark. Only the dim glow of my darkened LCD television to keep me company.

I have played this game without and with my headset on. I found the game better when I played with a headset or with a good sound system. I wouldn’t listen to most of the soundtrack outside of the game but in the game, it helps to build a scary atmosphere so well. Some tracks sound like wind blowing through the room or that something is chasing and/or following you. Together with the amazing sound design of the ghosts, this game is just creepy.

The ghosts don’t sound either human nor otherworldly. This is especially creepy because the ghosts moan and speak in Japanese. Well, most of them speak Japanese. Some ghosts also speak English and hearing that suddenly makes it even more creepy. They even managed to make picking up items scary with playing animation and a creepy sound effect each time when you reach down to pick up an item. You also never know what the item will be since it’s a glowing white orb on the ground. It’s also possible to find some items in various drawers and household items. So, explore away!

Now, the bulk of the story is told through the locations you visit. There are some cut scenes where somethings are explained, but the visuals help to tell the story. There are also some moments where you find a stone that tells some additional story to flesh out the story even more. Earlier in this first impression, I talked about how the two sisters entered a cursed village and they are trying to find their way out. In this game, you explore various locations. From a graveyard to a scary forest. You also explore various typical Japanese homes to a big shrine. While I was exploring, I really felt I was exploring an abandoned haunted village. The realism and attention for detail in the visual presentation is amazing.

Something I really want to praise this game for is that lighting. The lighting in this game is one of the strongest points. Of course, the game takes place during the night. It’s never light outside. At least, so far. I haven’t finished the game after all. The various candles littered around the village help to sell the atmosphere even more. The flashlight that you can control with one of the joysticks of the PS controller works flawlessly.

So, I think it’s quite clear that the atmosphere of this game is solid. When you want to play a good horror game, I highly recommend this game. The game also provides you with some good challenges. From tricky ghost encounters to clever puzzles. Now, you can run away from the ghosts, but you’ll lose points. And if you don’t get enough points, you might not be able to defeat certain bosses easily. Since, points = upgrades.

The controls are something that some people don’t like about this game. Personally, I got used to them after a while. I already talked about the struggle I had with the aiming of the camera. But, that also helps in the immersion department in a way. Remember, you are playing as a young Japanese girl trapped in a cursed village looking for your sister and a way to escape. Of course, you are scared and you are looking frantically for a way to defend yourself.

I’m almost forgetting to talk about the animation of this game. The animation in this game gets extremely close to the uncanny valley. I’m convinced that it’s in the uncanny valley for some. Especially how certain characters react and express their emotions. For example, how the two sisters like arms when they are witnessing something scary for the first time. They are looking for comfort with each other. It still blows my mind that there was such lifelike animation on the PlayStation 2.

I could continue to talk about this game for a while longer but most of it will be praising the game. If you are a horror fan, you really owe it to yourself to check out this game. The quality of the Fatal Frame series is up there with Silent Hill and the original Resident Evil games. I’ll talk a bit more in-depth about the game when I write my review. Consider the things I haven’t talked about in this first impression review as nice surprises when you decide to play this game.

With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. 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 about 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 haven’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 about what the other two games have an 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 into 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 in 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-brainer.

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 studios 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, 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.

The 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 breathtaking 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 on 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 at 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 number 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 for 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 happier.

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 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 regretted it at all. Her website is a joy to browse through and read.

Her unique writing style is something I love most about 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 of 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 about what the level editor can do, feel free to read it on my blog and I hope you like 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 analyzed 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 playing 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 hesitate 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 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 in 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 then 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 to 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!

The Legend Of Zelda Retrospective – A Bloggers Journey

abloggersjourneyOfficial website

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

The lovely logo for this project is created by ZoeF.

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1986 – The Legend Of Zelda (NES)

Tim talks about the start of the Legend Of Zelda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Takuto sends us seaward once again in Phantom Hourglass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The AmbiGamer takes us skyward with Skyward Sword

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

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

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

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

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

OverThinkerY takes us between worlds. Is the Link there?

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

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

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

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

Sheikah Plate talks about the heroes of the Triforce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Word of thanks and wrapping up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7More music article right here

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

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

Side note about the honorable mentions:

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

Favorite PC soundtrack: Rise & Fall – Civilizations At War

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

First Impression

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

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

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

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

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

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

260px-OracleofagesYouTube playlist with both games’ soundtrack

Oracle of Ages review

Oracle of Seasons review

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

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

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

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

Favorite GBA soundtrack:  Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire & Emerald

Ruby_EN_boxartYouTube playlist

My review of this game

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

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

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

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

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

Full OST250px-MD_Sky_EN_boxart

Review of the game

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

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

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

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

Favorite 3DS soundtrack: Stella Glow

SGCoverRGBYouTube Playlist

My review of the game

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

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

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

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

My favorite Wii U soundtrack: Hyrule Warriors

WiiU_HyruleWarriors_BoxartSoundtrack

First Impression

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

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

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

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

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

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

My favorite PSP soundtrack: Corpse Party Blood Driven

Corpse Party (USA)

Soundtrack playlist (Includes soundtrack of sequel)

Review of this game

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

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

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

My favorite PS1 soundtrack: Tomb Raider II

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Full OST

My review

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

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

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

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

My favorite SNES soundtrack: Lufia II

Lufia_II.jpg

Full soundtrack

First Impression

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

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

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

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

My favorite Wii soundtrack: Okami

okami-wii-boxart

Soundtrack part 1Soundtrack part 2

First Impression

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

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

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

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

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

Dragon_Quest_VIII_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King

Full soundtrack

First impression

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

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

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

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

My favorite Android soundtrack: Game Dev Story

YouTube playlistGameDevStory

Review of this game

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

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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

In any case, it’s time to wrap this article up since it has been going on for way too long! I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Review: Tomb Raider II (PS1) ~ French Lara

tomb_raider_2_boxWikipedia entry

Before you ask, what the title means… Let me explain that to you. So, I live in Belgium and we have three national languages here. These are Dutch, French and German. So, when I bought this game in a garage sale, I didn’t notice that I bought the French version of the game. Yeah. That’s why I played this game in French. Thankfully, after I had beaten this game I got my hands on the English version and the expansion pack for the PC, so I was able to enjoy the original voice acting. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about my experience with this game on the PlayStation 1. What is my opinion on this game? Let’s find out! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article.

A dagger with power

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In this game, you play as Lara Croft on an adventure for the Dagger of Xian. The legend goes that with this dagger you can turn into a dragon. On the condition that the dagger is in your heart.

In present day, Lara is looking for the dagger. But she has the mafia on her heels.

Personally, I love this story. But that has to do with a few reasons. I enjoy stories about powerful artificats that can transform people or give them supernatural powers. Also, my favorite mythical creature are dragons. So, I’m a little bit bias to the story.

The writing is well done and the voice acting still sort of holds up. What I mean with “sort of” is that the voices are in rather low quality for today’s standards but this game is 10 years old, so I can forgive it for that.

Something I think that could be learned from this game is the fact that this game doesn’t have a real tutorial. I think it’s a great game design philisophy to first learn the player the mechanics in a safe of semi-safe enviroment and after that, you throw in the traps and puzzles. I don’t mean a full on tutorial, but a room where every mechanic can be learned without the fear of dying. Thankfully, you can save the game at any moment in time so you can quickly recover when you made a mistake. On the condition that you have saved often of course.

That is what I thought at first, but when I started messing around in Lara Croft’s manner, guess what… There is in fact a tutorial. So, when you play this game for the first time, I recommend doing the Croft Manner before you go into the main game. Thank me later.

As a side note, the save system is something you have to get used too. My French wasn’t good enough to understand everything of the UI. But, after some trail and error, I was able to figure it out. My advise when you play this game is to save often or you will regret it. There are a lot of traps in this game and when you haven’t saved, you will have to do those all over again.

Speaking about the UI itself, I think it’s amazing. The only complaint I have is that you can’t show Lara’s health at all time on the screen.

Showing it’s age

trII

I think it isn’t a surprise that this game is showing it’s age. Comparing to later titles in the series, this game hasn’t aged all that well.

But, the PS1 version has some disavantages compared to the PC version. In the PC version, you can have more than one save in a level and in my opinion, it controls better.

The reason that is controls better is, at least according to me, I usually play Tomb Raider games on my PC and rarely on consoles. So, my brain is somewhat hard wired for these old Tomb Raider games, making it trickier for me to play it on a console.

Something that was also present in the PC version is the texture clipping. In some cases or viewing angles, you can see white lines on the screen where the textures start and end.

Visually, this game looks dated. But I personally don’t mind. I think the visuals has still some charm to them. Just the early 3D adventure games that try to go full 3D have so much charm. I wish that more games are created that way, since it’s so nostalgic in my opinion.

The controls of this game are a mixed bag. At most moments, they work fine. But, if don’t play a lot of PlayStation, you might forget which button does what and in stressful trap situations, this will lead to some frustation. But, I had a hard time adjusting to how Lara walks. But, I think that issue has also to do with the annoying camera.

I had several times that the camera didn’t always follow the action. I died so many times because of that, it got frustrating.

Atmosphere

tr2_1The lack of music sometimes creates a great atmosphere. You visit various locations in your journey and in key moments, you get music.

The music in this game is extremely well done in my opinion. Surprisingly enough, according to various sources, the composer of this game worked on the soundtrack for only 3 to 4 months.

The sound effects of this game are still great. These have aged well. Just like the atmosphere of this game. I loved my journey through this game. The gameplay is really enjoyable. There are puzzles that got me stumped and jumping puzzles that I had to attempt more then once, but I didn’t mind. The fact that I can save and reload my game at any place I wanted made the game more forgiving. This game can be difficult in some places, but after playing a level or a section over and over again, you get more skilled and pass more difficult things easier.

You have 18 levels in this game. This game can be finished in give or take 20 hours, if you know what you are doing. Otherwise, it’s a lot of trail and error. Also, if you like exploring, there are three secrets hidden in each stage so you can explore to your hearts content. I wasn’t able to find each secret, so they are pretty well hidden. Each level has it’s own fair share of enemies to kill, puzzles to solve, gaps to jump over and traps to avoid. This adventure is a fun one, but some timed puzzles can be a bit strict. Also, it isn’t always 100% clear where you need to go. But, after some exploring and trying, I was always able to find the path to continue.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. This means it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The controls on the PC version are better.

-The save feature is better in the PC version.

-This game is showing it’s age.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story with great voice acting.

+ Addicitive gameplay.

+ Great music.

+ …

Final thoughts:

While I enjoyed this game a whole lot, I enjoyed it more on the PC. But, would I recommend this game to someone? Well, it all depends. If they are a hardcore Tomb Raider fan, I would say… You haven’t played this game? Shame on you! If they enjoy older games, I would say to give this game a shot. It’s a classic game after all.

This game hasn’t aged well, so you will have to get used to the controls and visual style of the game. But, when you get used to it, you are in for a great adventure that takes you around the globe full of surprises.

Personally, I think that the first 5 Tomb Raider games should have a remake. These games would be a lot of fun for modern gamers if the visuals get polished up.

But even when this game is better on the PC, the PS1 version is still great and fun to play, yet a bit flawed here and there. Too bad that you don’t have the expansion packs in this version.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game, so 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: 70/100

First Impression: Lufia II (SNES) ~ Some Dutch please

Wikipedia entry

A few years ago, my uncle gave me his SNES with a few games. One of them, was a boxed version of Lufia II – Rise of the Sinistrals. After some research, I realized that my copy of the game is rather rare in a way. The cartridges of the game go on eBay for 80€ and up, but the catch is, I have a Dutch version. Since there aren’t too many Dutch speaking people in the world, less cartridges are produced so making the game even more rare. But hey, I don’t think that every collector wants to own a cartridge of a game in a different language they might not understand while there is a version available in their native language. In any case, let’s take a look at this game. Is it even worth that price now or should you pass on it? Here are my impressions after the first few hours of gameplay. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article.

Sidenote: while I know that this game got a remake called Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals on the DS, in this article I’m focusing on the SNES game; simply because I don’t own the remake and haven’t played it.

Casual start

When you start this game, your first mission is “The Training Dungeon”. In this training dungeon, you get the basic explanation of the game mechanics.  But more on that later, first let’s talk about the story of this game.

This game tells the story of how the Sinistrals came to be. Now, this sequel tells a prequel story. But here is the annoying thing, the original game never reached European shores. To make matters even more confusing, they dropped the II from the title here in Europe. Yeah.

So far, the story and writing is very enjoyable. The only complaint is that the Dutch translation feels so out of place. Which is normal, since I’m so used to the English names of items and suddenly seeing them in my native language sounds so foreign to me. But, I haven’t gotten too far in the story, so I will leave that for when I review the game.

But something I really enjoy from the writing is the fact that NPC’s react differently depending on the story. Even when little events happen like somebody cooking some bad food. This gives the game a more alive feeling and I think that’s a serious plus in my books.

If you would start playing this game, beware of the glitches.  Due to the rushed localization, there are a lot of strange bugs and some are save corrupting. This happened to me once and I lost my save and had to start over. Take a good read to avoid bugs before you start playing.

Random no Random encounters

So this game has random no random encounters. I mean with that the game has random encounters and no random encounters. When you are on the overworld, the game has random encounters. But in the dungeons, you don’t have any random encounters.

The meat of the game is mostly in the dungeons. In these places, you can also use your skills. A very useful skill is the Reset Spell. With this spell, you can reset a room to its original position. So, if you screwed up a puzzle, you can reset the room without having to leave it. And this doesn’t cost any mana.

This game is a blast to play. This game is a typical RPG when it comes to battles and exploration. But, it has various elements of The Legend Of Zelda sprinkled in. The gameplay in the dungeons reminded me so much of the Zelda games. If you want to form a picture, think of the Zelda dungeons but instead of beating enemies when they are on screen, you have a RPG-battle screen.

A very useful feature is that you see on your screen how much EXP you still before your level raises by one after you defeated an enemy. It also shows your goal total. The only thing I don’t really like about the battle screen is that in sometimes the health bar and such are simply bars and you don’t see how much health or mana you have left.

I’ll go more in-depth about the gameplay when I have beaten this game and when I write a review of this game. It’s a lot of fun and with great controls, you can’t go wrong. The only thing I would have changed about the controls is the “X” button. This button is used as the menu button, but I think that the Start button would have been a much better choice for this.

Soundtrack Gold!

If you would start talking about the best 16-bit RPG soundtracks, a lot of Square and Enix RPG’s would be mentioned. I honestly think that the soundtrack of this game should be mentioned in those kind of talks.

The soundtrack of this game is amazing. It’s one of the best soundtracks I have heard on the system in my opinion. And believe me, various tracks got stuck in my head even when I had put the game down for a while.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I love the details in the dungeons and the animation is great as well. The artwork for this game is impressive and colorful.

This game is well balanced. There isn’t too much grinding in this game. And honestly, I don’t mind the grinding too much in this game. Something I really like is that you have save platforms right before you go into a room with a boss. I really appreciate that since that way I don’t have to do a whole dungeon over again when I die at the boss.

Speaking about saving, that’s one of the only things I don’t really like about this game. You can only save at save points like a church or on save points in dungeons. But, honestly, that’s nitpicking. No?

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game. So far, I’m enjoying myself a whole lot with this game and I can only praise this game. If you look at other reviews of this game, you will read the same praise. And believe me, this game is worth a lot of praise.

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

Game Music: My Favorites – Numerbo # 19: I’m not running out of these!

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7.pngRead & listen to more music articles

It’s time to jam to my favorite game music tracks again. Since I love listening to soundtracks, I can’t get enough of them. At work, I often listen to various streaming websites instead of the radio. I always hope they don’t play those emotional songs when I need to concentrate since then I might have a problem. It would be so awkward if I started crying out of nowhere when I’m doing some administrative work on my laptop. In any case, in this series, I talk a bit about my favorite tracks. I’m only allowed to talk about the original track. Also, no remixes in this series… unless I specify it in the intro. And this is an original only article. Also, one track/series per article. If I ever talk about a track twice, feel free to leave a comment and I will add a bonus track in the next article of this series. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article, music and or your favorite music tracks. 

Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ Pantry

Virtues_Last_RewardMy review of this game

Any excuse to talk about the Zero Escape series is a valid one in my book. Apart from the amazing story and the addictive gameplay, the soundtrack is one of the best horror soundtracks I have heard in years.

In this game, you are locked up against your will and you have to play a game where you have to solve puzzles in order to escape. This game can get very tense and thrilling quickly. There a plot twists at every turn in the story. And the track that plays in the pantry room in the 2nd game of the series is one of my 5 most favorite tracks from the series. Seriously, give it a listen. But in context, inside the game, the track is stronger. It’s even better. Oh, and if you want to play these games and you don’t own a 3DS or Vita, go and buy it on Steam! It’s out there!

Stella Glow (3DS) ~ Rusty Key

SGCoverRGB

My review of this game

Man, this game is a journey. The story, the characters, the universe, the writing, the visuals, the gameplay and above all; the soundtrack! Whenever I need some upbeat and happy music, I put on a playlist with every track of this game.

After my review, I have grown more and more to this game. I have to replay it one day. To take a totally different path. But for now, let us all enjoy the song of the character Popo. The blonde twin-tail girl on the cover. Everything flows just right in this track. Oh, if you want a translated version of this song, check out the English translated lyrics here! Thank you so much TDN-Shumi Blog for the excellent translation!

In any case, I think I have talked too much about Stella Glow in my review already. So, I won’t go too much in-depth here. But, for real. Give this game a try. It’s a great game in my opinion.

Tomb Raider Underworld (PC) ~ Mediterranean Sea/Escaping Niflheim

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 When I was writing fantasy stories in the past, I often used the soundtrack of the Tomb Raider games when I was writing somebody exploring an area.

The soundtrack of the Tomb Raider games is lends itself great to writers of adventure stories. It sets a great mood and atmosphere.

Besides being great writing music, the track is also amazing in-game. I remember that when I played this game with a good headset for the first time, I honestly got the chills.

I might go more in-depth on this game in the future, but for now, I have to say that I finished but the DS and PC version of this game. So, I don’t know which version to review first.

In any case, enjoy the music. Since this is one of the best tracks in the soundtrack. I have selected a track for this soundtrack in the past, just read my 3rd article to know more about that.

Lufia II (SNES) ~ Boss Battle Theme

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When my uncle gave his old SNES to me, I was so happy. I got amazing titles like Prince of Persia and Zelda – Link to the Past for the SNES. I have also a SuperGameboy. So, that’s how I play my Gameboy games lately. But, there is another game I’m also very happy that he gave me. That game is Lufia II for the SNES, in the original box! As a collector, I can’t be happier.

But, I play Lufia here and there. I often get reminded of the Golden Sun series when I play this game. But that’s beside the point. I’m quite amazed at the music the SNES-sound chip can produce. When I was listing to the music on YouTube, I fired up my SNES to double check if it wasn’t a remastered version. And truly, the SNES is really able to play such great themes. Now, I hope that I’ll be able to defeat that boss one day… But at the other hand, the track that plays during the boss fights is so good… Ugh, a dilemma.

Corpse Party (3DS eShop remake) ~ Chapter 1

Review of the PSP version of the game

I’m in love with the Corpse Party series. I love the story the game brings. It might be a horror game, but most of the scares are psychological. The actual murders and deaths that occur are in most cases so over the top, it’s not THAT scary.

Yet, the writing, voice-acting and the whole game actually are just amazing. I was so surprised when I heard they remixed the original soundtrack for the 3DS port and it’s actually pretty amazing. I’m even considering getting the soundtrack of the 3DS version as well to complete my collection.

I’m currently at the end of the 2nd chapter and I have to say, the remake for the 3DS is way better than what we got on the PC. The 3DS version is way closer to the PSP game. Yet, I can’t wait to play the new chapters. But meanwhile, I’m enjoying the whole amazing soundtrack yet again.

Finale

So there we go, a few new tracks to jam out to. I’m sorry that I choose so many tracks from handheld games, but that’s what I have been playing lately. Maybe when my desktop is fixed soon, I might play more PC games. But in any case, the next edition of my favorite video game music tracks is going to be special. I mean, it’s the 20th article I write in this series.

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

Gaming Nostalgia: Where is the skip button?

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0.jpgWe all have these moments in games we don’t like to play. Even when you are playing a great game, sometimes it can throw some very irritating or just badly designed areas. In this article, I’m going to talk about a few things that I wish I could skip or use a glitch to skip the section. But sadly, most of the times, I have to do it in order to progress in the game. Do you dislike the same things or do you like them? Feel free to let me know in the comments. You could also comment on the content of the article and/or things that irritate you and I haven’t mentioned. Oh, a while ago, I wrote a rant about 10 things that frustrated me, and don’t worry! In this article, I won’t repeat what I said in there. 

Rope Jumping Puzzles

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I love adventure games. I love exploring caves and finding treasures. That’s why the Tomb Raider and Zelda series are one of my most favorites series ever made.

But there is something that I wish that I could skip. And that are the jumps you need to make when swinging on a rope. In the Legend Of Zelda the Wind Waker, there is a section to get an important item you have to swing on some ropes. To make matters worse, it’s timed and if you fail, you need to restart the whole thing.

I seriously hate this section of the game. Since the ship also moves, so the ropes move too. This way I can’t always correctly judge the distance between the ropes. I was able to finish this section when I was lending this game from a friend after an hour of trying. Now, I’m at the same section in the Wind Waker HD and I’m currently trying for around a half hour.

But hey, the rope jumps in the old Tomb Raider games weren’t much better. I have heard some veteran Tomb Raider players complain about the pixel perfect rope swinging in the first five games. I have to agree from my own experience. Since the next rope isn’t always visible when you are swinging.

In the past, it was even worse. I wasn’t that good in jumping puzzles of any sort. But after I played games like Mirror’s Edge, I have improved quite a bit. But the rope swings still stay a problem. The weird thing is that when I’m playing a game like Indiana Jones and use the whip, I can swing just fine. In Tomb Raider Legend with the grappling hook, no problem. But dangle ropes in front of me and say I need to play Tarzan and swing from rope A to B… And I’ll be busy with that section for a while.

Jumps of faith & death trap.

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Ah, today I was stuck in a level in DooM II because I didn’t notice one jump of fate you had to do in order to progress in the level. It was in the Citadel level. But here is a fun story. I’m talking about the part where you need to get on a high spot in the citadel and jump over the border into the river, so you can go to the other side to a room that opens to a room with 5 teleporters. If you have played DooM II, I think you will know which part I’m talking about.

Well, I was able to glitch myself there. By running at the corner of the barrier and suddenly, I popped passed it and I was able to progress.

Delver is another game that does the same thing. In some cave levels, there is a certain level geometry where you need to do a jump in order to progress. Like DooM II, Delver doesn’t have a jump button, so you don’t think it’s possible in the first place.

But what annoys me the most are jumps of faith above a death trap. I don’t think I need to explain myself here.

I’m not finished talking about the death traps. In Delver, there are traps like a transporter and a poison trap. But you can’t see the difference between both. While this suits the game better, since it’s a roguelike dungeon crawler. But a small hint on the tile would be nice.

But in some games, like in Star Tropics on the NES, there are secrets that lead to instant death. I made me shut off the game twice since I lost a lot of progress. Since the game sets you back at the start of the area you were at.

Going back to DooM II, a nice example was at the same level I was talking about earlier. There is a barrier that goes down and you need to run passed it. But, when you mistime your run, you get stuck underneath it. Without a way to escape. Man, every time it killed me, I got more and more annoyed.

Wrapping up

Well, I think I’m going to wrap up this article right here. I was planning to talk about more annoying things in games, but I decided to keep those for a sequel to this article. It felt better to talk a bit more in-depth on why I get annoyed at those things.

Also, I have already talked about my biggest frustrations with the gaming market in the past. I have linked to that article at the start of this article.

Anyways, thank you for reading this article and I hope you like it as much as I liked writing this article. I’m looking forward to the comments on this article since I find it very interesting to talk about what is frustrating in games so we can suggest improvements for future games.

I hope to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then… Have a great rest of your day! Game on and take care.

My favorite gaming music #15: Music for a trip

image_1.jpgLink to more articles like these

So, next week I will be out of town. I will also be in a long car trip. That means, I have need a couple of good music tracks to listen to while on the road. So, let’s take a look at some video game music I love listening to or has some emotional value to them. For the people who have read previous entries in this series, what I’m going to say next is nothing new… But in these articles, I only talk about the original tracks. No remixes, unless it’s used in game. Also, one song per game. (I can write about the same game but it needs to be in another article.) I also link to the music each and every time and if I have written an article about it, I link that as well. In any case, let’s go! Let’s get the music pumping! Also, feel free to leave me a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the music I choose. 

Evoland II (PC) ~ Into The Forest

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So, in the past I actually started a let’s play of this game. I never really finished that let’s play since I got burned out on YouTube and I wanted to focus on my writing.

Rather recently, a friend of mine pointed out that a sequel was published. I didn’t even notice it. So, when I had the money to buy it, I bought it and started playing it. I don’t regret it at all. It’s a very good game but it’s a totally different experience then the original game.

This song is a song you hear very early in the game. The melody really sets me in the mood to explore the first area with monsters, the forest. It sets up the lighthearted atmosphere of the start of this game really well.

While I haven’t finished the game yet, I’m looking forward to what the game has waiting for me. This game shows great promise to me and I’m quite sure it won’t disappoint.

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) ~ Hyrule Field Theme 1

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Link to the first impression article

So, this game is one of the best games I have played in 2015. This Zelda spin-off didn’t disappoint at all. I’m also looking forward to the 3DS sequel which is coming out really soon.

If you read my blog often, you might know already that I’m a big fan of The Legend Of Zelda series. Since it’s in my eyes one of the best adventure games out there.

Various music tracks have a big emotional value to me. And when I heard this remix of the Hyrule Field theme in the game, I was hooked. It does it’s job perfect. It gets the player ready for action, ready for the war you are going to fight!

This track was my ringtone for a few months, I like it that much. If you liked this tune, really give the whole soundtrack a listen, it’s totally worth it, just like the game!

Europa Universalis IV (PC) ~ A Lifetime of War

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Link to my first impression article

This game is a close second for my top 10 games I played of 2015. I never thought I would play a game like this and actually enjoy my time in it. My best memories in this game are my sessions with my best friend Mizari. When I thought we were playing for just 1 or 2 hours, we actually played for 5 to 6 hours.

While this song won’t play in the vanilla build of the game, this song is one of the DLC songs you can buy. It’s from the Sabaton Soundtrack. The music of this DLC is really worth epic and 5 masterpieces like this for 3€? It’s a steal! Seriously, if you like what you hear with this song, go and buy the DLC.

I have no words for the greatness of this song. And when I started to play in-game… I actually start to sing along with some of the lyrics. Yeah.

Suikoden Tierkreis (DS) ~ Archivist Battle Theme

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First Impression article

This game, well it’s one of my favorite handheld RPG’s ever made. Last year, I replayed a part of this game and still found new content.

Apart from a big difficulty spike at the end and the bad voice acting, I think that this game is perfect. I love the story, atmosphere, visual presentation and the sound track. After I nearly finished it, I added this soundtrack to my music library. And now it a track plays from time to time. I rarely ever skip a track from this game.

This game introduced me to the Suikoden series. A game series I’m actually looking out for to get me a copy of the original PS1 series. Since I heard so much praise for this game I really want to see what it’s about.

Also, Konami if you are listening. Get this game over to Europe and/or announce a new entry in this series. If they are as amazing as this game, this is something I’m willing to buy!

Bravely Default (3DS) ~ That Person’s Name Is (Asterisk Boss Battle Theme)

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Link to my first impression article

So, the sequel of this game is coming out in a month, Bravely Second. This means, that’s it’s time to take a quick look back at the original game. This game has a pretty unique concept and is another RPG that ranks pretty high on my favorite games list.

RPG’s are one of my favorite handheld game genres and this game didn’t disappoint. What I mostly remember of this game, apart from the story and gameplay, is the soundtrack. I only chose one track as an example, but this soundtrack has many more amazing pieces of music that sets the mood very well.

I can’t wait to play the sequel to this game. I have to admit that I haven’t finished the original game yet, due to me having to grind… Which is a thing that I don’t really like. But what will be even more difficult is the fact that another RPG, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon releases around the same time here… Ugh, this will be a hard one. I have to be Brave…

Wrapping up

Alright, I have talked about 5 of my favorite music tracks. Maybe I could have chosen the name of this series better, since “my favorite” … well, it almost sounds like a sort of top 10; the title doesn’t really click with me anymore. But hey, I have written 15 articles of these. So, it’s kinda pointless in my eyes to change the title of this series now.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have soundtracks or songs you really love, leave them in the comments. I love listing to game music. I’m looking forward to it! Anyways, I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

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

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

 HD remake?

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

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

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

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

Make more villagers

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

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

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

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

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

Polish

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

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

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

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

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

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