NekoJonez’s August 2021 Update

It’s almost that time of year again, the start of the school year here in Belgium. This year, I start my 3rd year as an IT-admin in the school I work for. So, that also means that my summer break is over, and I restarted working again. Also, I’m quite surprised that my latest update article was from December 2020. I mean, it’s quite usual that there are sometimes big gaps between these articles when not a lot of interesting things happen to collect together in an update… But hey, that’s totally besides the point. Let’s start talking about what’s happening in my life and what’s going on for my blog. And before I start, I want to invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your thoughts and/or opinions in the comment section down below.

Fewer articles and more gaps

When you look at the numbers of amount of published articles, you’ll notice that since March of this year… I have been skipping more and more weeks. Apart from April, I have been able to write and publish 2-3 articles each month. While I see a decrease in traffic to my blog because of that, I honestly don’t mind that much. I still reach similar numbers in the end. Now, I know that numbers shouldn’t matter since writing this blog is still a hobby. I know that fact all too well, yet… somehow, I feel proud when I see the numbers raise. But, that’s something we all like, seeing numbers raise. It’s a physiological thing.

So, why are there so many gaps in the publishing of articles? Well, it’s because I have written about so many games that I’m as good as through my backlog. I still have several games on my backlog to write about, but most of them should be replayed for at least a little while, since it has been such a long time since I played them for the first time. Before I write an article about a game, I want to have at least played 5-ish hours of that game, unless it’s a game quicky or a small indie game (that’s shorter than 5 hours). And here are the reasons I’m having trouble with that.

First, due to the COVID pandemic and private matters… My day job is extremely busy. I love doing my day job, but it’s extremely draining. So, at the end of the day, I sometimes don’t have the energy left to play games, or I just want to play a game to relax and not having to take notes or prepare an article about it. So, that means I have been playing games I have reviewed before and finishing them and, yes, even replaying some of them.

Secondly, I’m trying to improve my writing style. After writing for about 10 years in a similar writing style, I want to challenge myself to write more in-depth articles with more research and more cohesion. So, I’m putting a lot more time into each article, and it shows. I’m prouder of each article that I publish, and I feel that I’m improving quite a lot.

Thirdly, due to the general business of my personal life and the work for my school… I don’t always have the energy to write. I also want to recover in the weekend or work on my huge to-do list. Furthermore, I’m writing a lot for other things I’ll talk about more later… and that also has consequences. That means I burn myself out of writing sometimes. And I find that sometimes taking a break is better for me. That way I can still publish an interesting and well written article instead of a half-baked article. I like “better quality over more quantity”. So yeah.

And finally, here in Belgium, the COVID restrictions are slowly but surely lifting. Especially for vaccinated people (like myself)! So, that means I can start doing things in my local acting group again and go to see theater performances and movies in the cinema. Man, I have missed that so hard. You know those things you do, to reward yourself after doing a good job? Well, that was theater and cinema for me. Of course, blogging/writing about games has the same effect for me, but variety is the spice of life.

So, what does that mean? Shall you see less articles on my blog? Bluntly said, yes. I might not write weekly articles for a while anymore. I decided that it’s a goal I would love to reach, but I’m not going to force myself to write 4 articles each month. Not only that, but I’m going to try to write at least 1-2 articles/month. And if that’s not possible, I’ll talk about that on my twitter.

Outside of blogging

So, what’s going on in my personal life outside of writing for this blog? Well, quite a lot, actually. I have been expanding my hobbies and skill set. The first hobby I want to talk about is something that’s related to gaming, actually. I started speedrunning Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. You can find my runs at my Speedrun.com profile. At first, I wanted to beat the PC times, but those are not only extremely optimized already, I’m unable to do the perfect movement.

That’s why I started to focus on the GBC version. While I’m keeping an eye on the PC version, I’m mainly focused on the GBC version. Not too long ago, I have beaten my ANY% GBC full game run I did live that one time. Whenever I feel like it, I have been grinding this run out since that 1h 40 m 08s, I’m certain it can go lower. In a matter of fact, I have found several small skips and improvements that is going to save at least 10-ish minutes all together. But, I’m planning to write an article about the strategies and such involved in the full game run in the future… So, keep an eye out for that.

Besides speedrunning, I’m also creating a new website for my local acting group. Currently, it’s behind closed doors, but I’m spending quite a lot of time on that site. I’m also working on a lot of technical stuff for my acting group to improve work flow and such. It’s something different and a fun challenge for sure. I love the stuff I’m learning since I’m able to use it for the website I maintain for my school and visa versa.

Speaking about the school I work for, I have two updates about that. The first update is that I have a fixed contract. Now, here in Belgium, it works somewhat different in schools. The contract I currently have is if the school has to shut down for what ever reason, a school from the district has to give me a job. In other words, I’m quite certain that I’m going to have a job for the foreseeable future. 🙂 And not only that, it’s in my dream job as an IT admin in a big school. I couldn’t wish for more.

The second update is that the school I work for is growing in amount of students. Currently, we have around 700 students, compared to roughly 600 students at the start of the previous year. This is quite mind-blowing for an art school, and that’s the biggest reason my day job is so busy. I’m so happy that the school I work for is growing so much since that means our school is quite healthy.

So, outside of having a busy day job, writing a gaming blog (semi-)weekly, doing things for my acting group, speeding running games… I’m also active in the development of WordPress. Now, I’m not a coder, so I’m helping that much in the actual development of WordPress outside of testing and reporting bugs… I’m more active in the translation department. I’m a translation editor for all the WordPress plugins & themes on WordPress.org for the locale’s nl_NL(-formal) and nl_BE, which means all forms of Dutch basically. If you want to take a look at my work, you can see it on my profile. And if I contribute to a plugin/extension, it’s mostly issues with strings which make things less easy for translation. You can see most of my contributions on my GitHub profile.

That means, that I do a lot of things in my free time outside of spending time with my family. While it might sound overwhelming and a lot to keep up with, honestly, I enjoy it. I’m expanding my skill set and learning quite a lot. And not only that, I’m giving something back to the community.

What’s next?

Now, you might think that I want to spend less time writing. Because I have so many other hobbies or things I do outside of writing. And, that’s not true. I found that spending time on other things like speedrunning, translations, working on websites… It actually helps me to not burn out on writing. Like I said earlier in this article, variety is the spice of life.

I do have a collab in the works with a good blogging friend of mine, but I’m unable to make a lot of progress due to the busy times at my day job. Thankfully, after next week, it’s going to become a lot less busy, so I can focus on a lot of other things and maybe write more.

I’m also playing around with a few major updates on my blog, but I think most of them are going to have to wait until I have another vacation. Since it’s going to help me in keeping certain things up-to-date here on my blog. And yes, I’m also removing typo’s and such from older articles. If you notice one, feel free to give me a shout, and I’ll try to fix it as soon as I can.

So, what’s the summary of this update? I’m going to try to at least write 2 articles each month, and 4 if I can. I also started speedrunning, getting more involved with the development of WordPress and doing things for my local acting group. On top of that, my day job is extremely busy… eating up a lot of my time. And I don’t want to have it any other way. Mentally, I’m doing a lot better and that’s what counts in the end, in my opinion… If you are happy with your life, than all is well.

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!

Review: Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (GBC) ~ Speedrun Time!

InfernalMachineGBCWikipedia entry

Times can change quite a lot. Way back in 2014, I wrote an article about one of my most favorite childhood games ever made. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. You might think, why am I reviewing this again? Well, in today’s article I’m going to review the port to the Gameboy Color. I still remember getting my copy for one of my birthdays. Since I wasn’t allowed much time on the computer and I saw I was able to take the game on the go with me, the solution was easy. My godmother aunt bought the game for me and gave it to me when I was sleeping over at her place. A few days later, I want to my cousin who introduced me to this game and he got so jealous of my copy that he started to beg his mother for a copy as well. Amazing memories. Anyways, now that I’m also speedrunning the game (both this version and the PC version) and that I have fully finished this game, I think it would be a neat idea to review the GBC version of this game. Is it a good game or should we ignore it? Let’s talk about that while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Editorial note: want to see runs of this game? 

So, what happened?

3If the developers of this game were able to cram the whole PC game into a Gameboy Color game, I would be amazed. But we all know how powerful the Gameboy Color was a playing a 3D game on that wasn’t fully realized yet. There are a few 3D titles on the Gameboy Color but not too many. So, some things had to give. But, how much had to go and did we still have a good game left? 

Let’s first talk about the extremely strange cuts into the story of this game. When you are used to playing the PC or N64 version of this game, the story in the Gameboy Color game is quite strange to say the least. There is so much less story in this game that if you would only play the Gameboy Color game, you might be unable to follow along.  

The best example is almost the whole ending cutscene after the first level is cut out of the game. You don’t get an explanation on why Sophia was looking for you and the whole setup of the story falls in like a cake you take too soon out of the oven. Yet, when you have played the PC/N64 version, you’ll recognize the story beats right away and know where in the story you are. 

So, since the gameboy wasn’t powerful enough, some sections and even entire levels have been cut. For example, there aren’t any final bosses in this version and Palawan Temple, Jeep Trek and King Sol’s Mines are missing in this version. Instead, we got a new level, the Russian Border. This level is a sort of extended version of the Tian Shan River opening section. 

The story in this game is a mess. I don’t really advise that you try to follow it if you haven’t played the PC/N64 version. It’s a shame since the story of the original versions is great. It really makes you feel that you are playing through an Indy movie. Fun fact, did you know that this game was first going to be about aliens before it got veto’ed because the script for the 4th movie was in development? That movie some Indy fans don’t talk about.

So, is this 2D or 3D?

indjgb004Even games with a messy story can be quite fun to play. So, is this game fun to play? Well, in my honest opinion, I’m having quite a lot of fun in playing this game, but this game has a lot of special quirks you need to get used to, to be able to enjoy this game to the fullest. The first one is that this game is sort of 2,5D game where you look at Indy from above. Thanks to the good use of shadows and different textures, you can be able to quickly see when you are approaching a cliff. 

While you can explore in this game, this game is somewhat linear. There aren’t a lot of moments where you need to backtrack. There is a certain order in which you have to play and beat the level but finding that out is half the fun. Now, as soon as you get a hang of the quirks of this game, it really opens up. Together with the extremely responsive controls, this game is challenge to play. 

So, when I started to speedrun this game, I hadn’t beaten the whole game yet. I had beaten the first 3 levels in my childhood, but the 4th level gave me a lot of trouble. When I actually started to run the levels I hadn’t played yet, I challenged myself and I tried to finish them without looking at the guide. To be honest, I was extremely surprised how the knowledge of the PC version helped me in certain sections and that this game also has unique sections and puzzles. 

Is the game difficult? Well, in a certain degree, yes it is. Healing items are more scarce in this game and there are no checkpoints in this game. When you die, you have to restart the level. A difference in terms of difficulty in this game is that poison can run out. Yes; it can run out. Oh, and med kits don’t heal poison. Only venom kits (green medkits) do. 

Surprisingly, the machine parts have the same use as in the PC/N64 version. The Azerim (flying) tool works a small bit differently but has the same concept behind it. So, knowledge of the PC/N64 version can be extremely helpful in this game to not get stuck. Since, like the original game, the GBC version doesn’t have a tutorial. It doesn’t help you in explaining the controls and the fact you can interact with certain things. A big piece of advice from me, if you are stuck, use the hand on anything strange. If a certain tile on the floor looks strange, use your hand on it. Since lifts aren’t always clear that they are lifts. 

So, the controls. Earlier I said they are extremely responsive. Now that I have quite some experience with them thanks to speed running this game, I have to say that they are precise but can feel a bit floaty. It’s something that has to click with you, or you will have some trouble with it. The D-pad is used to control Indy, the A button interacts with the selected item and B jumps. Start opens the inventory and Select cycles through your tools. 

For this review, I have played quite a lot on my Gameboy Advance as well and I have to say that I can’t decide if I like the fact that I run on an emulator since it gives me more screen space and I can connect my XBOX controller for finer control, or if I enjoy the charm of the game on a smaller screen with a bit more stiff controls. The difference in controls might have to do with the fact I’m running this game. 

Another big difference you might have noticed between the PC/N64 version and the GBC version from the inventory screen you can see a bit higher in this article is that you can only carry 5 of each healing item. You can’t carry more of them. You can purchase more of them with the treasures you find at the end of each level. But, here is something interesting. You can sell your healing items. For example, when you want more medkits, you can sell your green medkits. 

So, what is the gameplay here? This game is an adventure game where you have to platform your way to the end. All the while you have to solve puzzles, fight enemies and avoid traps. This adventure takes you through 15 levels that quite closely follow the structure of the N64/PC version. The red bar is your health and the blue bar is your stamina. 

To beat this game, you have to pull blocks, jump and swing over gaps and solve some puzzles. Most of the puzzles have to do with using the right item on the right location. Sadly enough, picking up and using items can be a bit pixel perfect which is annoying during runs. 

Sadly, you don’t have a map in this game for the larger levels. But, all in all, the levels won’t take you that long to beat. The longest level is Nub’s Tomb, which took me around 11 minutes in my speedrun. Now, certain levels can be beaten in under a minute if you know what you are doing. If you hold up while Indy is moving over a ladder, he can climb it… No matter how long his fall is going. And this game uses that mechanic in certain levels as well. 

All in all, the gameplay is quite addicitive. Especially if you enjoyed the original game. But, I can understand why people would get frustrated and lost in this game if they haven’t played the PC or N64 versions of this game.  

It’s fine

gfs_44058_2_11Now, visually this game looks fin in my opinion. There are better looking games on the Gameboy Color yet, I find the atmosphere the developers created with the visuals is quite nice to look at. But, it looks the best in the correct ratio. It doesn’t look bad in a bigger screensize, but you will have some blur here and there. 

Sadly enough, sometimes certain things like breakable walls or places where you can swing with your whip blend in a bit too much in the background. I’m certain that if when you play this game in a darker room or if you suffer from colorblindness that you’ll be unable to see them sometimes. Which is a shame. I wish they stood out a bit more since things like this give the neat visuals a bad name. 

As said earlier, there are a lot better looking games on the Gameboy Color but with the “weaker” visuals, they still pull off an amazing atmosphere. One of my favorite levels visually is Nub’s Tomb. It also has the worst puzzle in the game with the music puzzle. And let’s not forget the jump over the lake bit and if you miss one jump, you have to restart that whole section.

Are there glitches in this game? Well, not a lot. I found a few spots where the game gets confused so you are able to stand on places you aren’t supposed to stand and if you fall into the liquid in the Infernal Machine level and you are holding a direction button while facing a wall, you don’t die until you release the movement button. 

Now, going back to the visuals. There are also animations in this game. These animations are good. They really add to the game, all the while they don’t feel out of palace. They really blend into the created atmosphere really well. I always enjoyed seeing Indy swing over large pits and always hearing that amazing melody is just icing on the cake. But, let’s not mention how tricky it is to get in the right position to whip over a pit. 

Sadly, in terms of sound effects and music, this game lacks quite a lot. Apart from the main theme at the start and some short tunes, there isn’t a lot of music in this game. In the later parts of the game, there is a bit more music but it mostly aids in the puzzles or certain a bit more tension. I wish these moments were used a bit more. And there aren’t a lot of sound effects either. If I didn’t have to focus on my gameplay, I would play this game while listening to music. It’s a shame since when this game has music, it’s amazing chiptune goodness but it’s so sparingly implemented it’s annoying. Thankfully, the walking sound effects of Indy aren’t annoying. 

There are 15 levels in this game and when you play each level optimally, I think you can beat this game in 4 to 5 hours in your first run and without using a guide. Currently, I’m griding for a full run of this game and I estimate that it will take 2,5 hours if I don’t make too many mistakes. Granted, that’s when I skip all the treasures that are in most of the levels. Apart from, I think, 2 levels, there are 10 treasures hidden in each level. But, in this version of the game, they are a bit well less hidden compared to the PC/N64 version.

The final thing I want to talk about is the password system. As a speedrunner, I’m a bit on the edge on this mechanic. Before I started running this game, I hated this system. Why couldn’t I use the save system like in the Zelda games and other Gameboy Color games. But, now that I run this game, it’s quite helpful in training certain levels or trying to set a new level record. So, yeah. 

Anyways, I think it’s high time for a conclusion is it not? Let’s wrap up this article with a nice conclusion to summerize my thoughts.

Summary time

The good:

+ Enjoyable gameplay with exploration and nice puzzles.

+ Decent visuals (for the most part)

+ …

The bad:

-Butchered story.

-Too little in terms of music.

-Some sections are a bit too pixel perfect.

-Lack of tutorial.

Final thoughts:

Is this game worth your time? If you enjoy games like the old school Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, I would say yes. If you enjoy unique and special old mobile games, I would also recommend this game. But, know that this game is a niche game and it has it’s quirks.

Two things can happen. It can click like it did with me and then you have a nice experience all the while you see the flaws and issues that this game has. The other thing is you realize that this game isn’t your cup of tea and you don’t play it. 

I honestly think that it’s quite impressive how they were able to cram a somewhat solid version of the PC/N64 version into a small Gameboy Color cartridge. I mean, the rom file for this game is only 1MB! This whole game is 1MB and it can provide you with a decent Indy game..? Sign me up! 

Now, if you are on the fence about it, just give the first two levels a try. If you notice that it’s not your cup of tea, then skip this game. If you enjoyed playing the first two levels, I would highly recommend you continue to play this game. 

Granted, I think that the nostalgia for this game might have placed a lot of rose colored glasses on my eyes and I might see this game in a better light then it actually is but should that matter? I think this game is a nice gem in the Gameboy Color library and I would recommend it to people who enjoy adventure games. All the while, I would warn it’s an unique and special game with it’s own flaws but it’s still enjoyable. If only the story was a bit more intact… 

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

Score: 80/100

 

NekoJonez’s Favorite Gaming Music -SPECIAL- ~ It’s Podcast Time

It has been quite some time since I wrote about my favorite music tracks in video games. So far, I have written 24 articles in this series. Today I have a special spin-off article in this series. I was a guest on the “Untitled Game Music Podcast” by Alexander Sigsworth. Today it’s finally live and to give it some publicity since this series is amazing and I highly recommend that you all listen to it, this week’s article is simply going to be an embedded version of the podcast. Please enjoy and feel free to leave a comment here or on Alexander’s channel!

The Sunshine Blogger Award – Q and A

sunshine-blogger-awardI think that I write a similar introduction to every community award I receive. The introduction talks about how the blogging community is one big family that supports each other and to support each other we have these community awards. You can compare them to YouTubers doing shoutouts or collaborations to promote each other and help each other grow. One of these awards is the Sunshine Blogger Award. All of these awards work in a very similar way while thanking the blogger who gave you the award, you have to answer his or her questions, write up the same amount of questions that the bloggers have to reply to that you select to receive the award.

Thank you!

The blogger who gave me the 3rd Sunshine Blogger Award is AK from Sonatano1. It really makes my day when another blogger gives me an award like this, I feel recognized and it really makes my day. Now, AK writes articles on various game related subjects. From old to new games. If you enjoy my content, I’m quite sure you will enjoy his content. One of my favorite articles is one of the Windows Entertainment Packs. It just tickles the collector and retro gamer in me.

Now, I think it’s time that we get to answering the questions that were asked by AK. Let’s dive right into some interesting things and facts about myself.

The Questions

1) What’s your favorite or most-used medium for entertainment?

cropped-bannerblog3-1.jpgMy favorite form of entertainment is gaming, followed by YouTube and anime. I also love theater and stand up comedy quite a lot. Here and there, I go to the movies.

Now, if you follow my blog you might know that I play games on a ton of systems. From my phone to my gaming desktop. From my Nintendo 3DS to my Sony PSP. I even play games on rip-off consoles. So, my favorite medium for entertainment are devices that can play games. My most-used platform is Switch and my computer at the moment of writing. But, because I got some new 3DS games, I think that might change in the future.

2) What character in a work of fiction would you inhabit and why?  (Assuming you’re experiencing the entire storyline of the game/novel/film/whatever as this character.)

Oh dear lord, to answer this question I had to stop myself from cheating and counting one of the stories I wrote in the past. My biggest hobby, besides gaming and acting, is writing. Before I started writing this blog, I used to write a lot of fantasy stories on paper. I have a couple of binders full of story ideas and pitches for quite interesting stories.

Now, because I full control over those worlds, I think it would be too easy to pick one of those stories. On top of that, none of those stories are finished and aren’t even released to the public.

256px-Indiana_Jones_and_the_Infernal_MachineSo, in which universe would I want to live? In that case, give me Indiana Jones in one of the Indiana Jones movies or games. The reason for that is quite simple. I’m in love with the Indiana Jones universe. My favorite game is Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, which is released on Steam and GOG now. My favorite movie is the first movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. While I know that the 4th movie wasn’t one of the best Indiana Jones movies and was filled with various plot holes and things of that nature; truth to be told, I still enjoyed the movie quite a lot. But,  I do agree that it’s one of the worst movies in the series. My love for the series is so big that I went dressed up as Indiana Jones three times to carnival as a child. I even own a replica of the hat Indiana wears in the movies and games. It felt so amazing when I was able to use it in a play last year. So, yeah. Indiana Jones would be my character, the adventures, and the mysteries… Do I even have to explain?

3) What work would you wipe all memories of from your brain if you could so that you could experience it all over again?

To be honest, I have a huge list of games and experiences that I would love to be able to re-experience without any memories. To name just a few: the Tomb Raider games, A Hat in Time, Time Hollow, all the Ace Attorney games, Fantasy Life, Stella Glow, Dream Chronicles and a ton more. I could be adding entries to this list all day.

Now, to be honest, I don’t think I’m open to the idea that my memories would be wiped from my brain from one or more experiences. Quite simply because all of these experiences shaped me into the person and gamer that I’m today. On top of that, this would always change since the older I get, the more works could go on this list.

So, I’m sorry, I don’t think I have one answer for this. Maybe I should play these two Gameboy Color games that I haven’t played yet from the Zelda series. One is called Oracle of Seasons and the other one is called Oracle of Ages. Maybe that might be a great answer to this question…

And for those who totally missed the punchline in the paragraph above, the Oracle games in the Zelda series are the games that introduced me to adventures you can take with you where ever you go. They taught me so many things in life and they were one of the reasons why I wanted to become a game collector. Since I got Oracle of Ages from a garage sale and after I finished the game and so the “To be continued” screen… I wanted to see the story continue so bad. But at the time, the Gameboy Advance SP was released, so it got quite tricky to find Gameboy Color games in garage sales. After a long time (2 years) I found myself a copy of the game and I played completely through it. Since then, I got quite hooked at collecting games.

4) What’s the most annoying trend occurring in your favorite medium today?

I know for a fact that my answer to this question is going to have some people disagreeing with me but still, I find it very annoying. The decline of physical media is somewhat worrying to me. I talked about this before multiple times on my blog but the reasons I find it annoying are multiple.

SotTR_HERO-1-heroFirst of all, as a game collector, I love having a physical copy on my shelf to look at and have nostalgic memories flood back. I don’t have that with digital releases too easily. Now, let me be clear, I’m not against digital releases but I find it worrying that even big titles don’t get a physical release. Take Shadow of the Tomb Raider for example. That game didn’t get a physical release on PC but it did get one on consoles.

The second reason I’m not that fond of going fully digital is the possibility of digital shops getting deleted or shut down. For example, the Wii Shop channel. There is no legal way anymore to buy WiiWare in 2019, which is disappointing. So, if you were saving up as a retro game collector to buy some Virtual Console games on your Wii, cross your fingers it’s on the Wii U. I watched a YouTube series by Scott the Woz that talks about my feelings quite well.

And a 3rd reason is game shops. I find it mind-boggling that the biggest entertainment industry is reduced to a few shelves in retail stores. In one of my local tech and multimedia shops, I see the amount of shelf space that is reserved for gaming and gaming merch decreasing by the year. Now, there are a lot of online stores but I feel that it’s less and less present in our day to day lives. I also love to go to game stores and chat with the people about games, tech and various other things. Of course, you can do that on the internet, sure. But, I enjoyed the non-virtual contact more.

A 4th reason is that it’s a nightmare for game collectors. Apart from having nothing physical for our gaming shelves, the whole move to the digital market space is killing the second-hand market. I need to keep a careful eye on the packaging when buying a game on garage sales or during flea markets. Some game cases come with a game code you can only activate once. Even when it has a disc inside, the game can’t be installed without the code.

There are a few other reasons, but I won’t get into those in this article. I’ll leave those for when I talk more in-depth on this topic.

5) What’s the most promising trend occurring in your favorite medium today?

2017-12-29 19.22.57The acceptance of the gaming hobby by today’s community. When I was a teenager walking around with my Nintendo DS, I get strange looks by adults. “Aren’t you too old to still be playing video games?” is a question I got asked.

But, nowadays, when I talk to people and say that one of my favorite hobbies is playing video games, I usually get one of these answers:

“Oh cool, it doesn’t interest me, to be honest, but my [child, family member, friend, coworker…] also plays games.”

OR

“On which platform do you play?”

I’m also under the impression that there is a growing part of non-gamers who understand why gaming is so appealing and that a lot of clichĂ© things like: “violent video games make youngster violent.” is less easily believed.

The gaming community is also growing each and every day. Which I find amazing. But, like my answer to the previous question, I think I’ll go more in-depth on this topic in a later article.

6) How much or how little romance do you like in your games/films/novels/etc.?

It’s quite tricky to give this a proper answer. On one hand, it depends on the story and such. It also depends on what you understand under romance.

But what I find very important is consistency and proper use. What I mean by proper use is that romance isn’t used just because “all other games in the genre do that.”. If romance fits in the story, then I don’t mind. If I’m still making sense.

7) If you had to be the ruler of one country in any work of fiction, which one would you pick?

pokemon-alpha-sapphire-limited-edition-steelbookI have rewritten my answer to this question several times simply because I always wanted to choose one of the stories I wrote myself as a kid. But that wouldn’t be too much fun since I have full control over that world.

For the sake of this article, I think it’s more fun if I choose a world that already exists and people know the rules of. So, after a lot of thinking.. and trying to avoid me getting distracted by the stories I wrote in the past, I decided to choose the Hoenn region from PokĂ©mon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. Just because those games are my favorite PokĂ©mon games and the nostalgic memories with those games are so big.

Also, who wouldn’t want to live in a real PokĂ©mon world? There are so many possibilities in those worlds, it would be amazing.

8) Do you think virtual reality will improve anytime in the near future to the extent that it’s actually worth using?  Or are we already at that point?

One of the biggest problems with virtual reality is the price. I know that there are a lot of cheap VR possibilities with smartphones. But for that, you need a pretty powerful phone and that doesn’t come cheap either. Also, the more popular VR-glasses like the Rift and the HTC Vive just got three years old.

While there are a lot of practical uses for VR, I’m not interested enough to invest in the technology yet. To be honest, I haven’t tried VR for myself for several reasons. From not having the equipment and budget and just because there isn’t a game out yet that I would love to play that’s exclusive to VR.

Personally, I think that VR will be one of the possible platforms we will be able to play games in the future. In the future, we will have consoles, handhelds, PC and VR. I don’t think that will go away.

To call VR a gimmick or a fad like the Wii would be wrong in my opinion. There are many practical applications for VR. I think it just needs to grow and evolve. At the moment, you need to be quite tech-savvy to set it up, just take a look at the sensors and the specs you need to run VR at a decent frame rate.

Actually, answering this question gave me an idea for a future article. So, I’ll go more in-depth about my opinions and thoughts on VR in the future.

9) I’ve heard people say that a novel is a dying form of art and that changes in attention span length and the constant multitasking our generation is involved in will make them obsolete.  If you have an opinion on that matter, do you agree or disagree?

If the novel would be dying, please explain to me why companies like Audible and Scribd are so popular? Besides that, if novels would be a dying art form, why do people still write and read blogs? Now, this discussion is so popular that it has it’s own Wikipedia page about it. 

As a kid, I read a lot of books. I enjoyed reading quite a lot. Nowadays, I barely read one book in a year. I don’t feel the need to actually read books. But, I still read blogs and my favorite gaming genre is visual novels like Death Mark or Trace Memory. I still “read” novels but in a totally different experience. Besides that, my sister enjoys reading books quite a lot. Granted, she has to read a lot of novels and books for her studies.

My two cents on the subject go as follows. I honestly think that the novels just lost some popularity. Because other hobbies like video gaming and watching content online grew, other art forms are losing terrain.

Yet, I still see a lot of people of all ages during my commute to and from work who are reading books. There is still a market for novels. Otherwise, products like the Amazon Kindle wouldn’t be created. Also, if big companies like Google still provide a service to read books like Google Play Books, I honestly think that novels aren’t dying, they are evolving with time.

10) Are you optimistic about the future of the human race?

My answer to this question depends on the mood you catch me in. There are things I’m quite optimistic about like the improved awareness about climate change and the willingness to do something about it but there are things that worry me quite a lot. Something like article 13 that might ruin the internet as we know it.

I think it’s something where we just have to wait and see. There is always going to be something that makes me optimistic and something that worries me. As long as we don’t plunge the world into chaos, I think we will be just fine.

11) Cake or pie?  (There’s only one right answer.)

The fact I had to look up the difference between cake and pie explains quite a lot. Now, did you know that in my native language we have one word for cake and pie? In Dutch we use “taart” for both words.

To be honest, I like both. So, I don’t discriminate. 🙂 And if you want it, the pie cake is a lie, thanks Glad0s.

My questions and nominations

Now, for my eleven questions. Let’s go.

  1. Do you think that nowadays there are too many reboots and sequels to old games instead of new IPs?
  2. Can the big studio’s like Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft… make indie games?
  3. If one of the games you played in the past gets an HD remake, do you get excited? Would you play the remake?
  4. What do you do during a grinding session? Do you do something else while grinding for resources or characters or do you focus on the game?
  5. How do you take notes for your articles? Do you write them down on a piece of paper while playing the game? Do you record your gameplay and write down timestamps?
  6. What are your least favorite sections in gaming?
  7. What is something unique/fun/interesting about your hometown and/or community?
  8. What’s your advice to new bloggers or even, experienced bloggers looking for advice?
  9. Can you answer this question with the wrong answer?
  10. Do you sometimes look back at your old(er) articles and think, if I write another article about that today, it would be totally different?

So, here are the people I tag. And yes, these are all worth your time and you should seriously take a visit to their blog. For your convenience, I have linked to their latest article. I invite all these people to answer one or all the questions and share the love with the community.

LaterLevels

Sheikah Plate

Triform Trinity

ABXY Reviews

Pix1001 – Shoot the Rookie

Drakulus

Hundstrasse

OverThinkerY

A Geeky Girl

Adventure Rules

Killer Robotics

NormalHappenings

Winst0lf

TwoTall4uFool

Reaper Interactive

Falcon Reviews

GamersUnitedGG

I Played The Game

LividLighting

Well-Red Mage

TheDragonsTeaParty

Games With Coffee

The Shameful Narcissist

And that will do it. While there are a ton of other bloggers around, I don’t want the end of this article to end up as a long extensive list of amazing people. Now, I think I’ll end off this article here. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m looking forward to the possible replies to this post. I also hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Review: Outlaws (PC) ~ LucasArts Pew Pew in the Wild West

250px-OutlawsLucasArtsBoxCover.jpgWikipedia entry

When I was on a garage sale trip in late June, I saw this title in a big PC box for 1€ at one of the last stands I visited. I was drawn to the LucasArts logo on the box. I didn’t think twice about buying it. When I got home, I took a picture of all the games I bought on that garage sale and people got hyped about Outlaws. A friend of mine even said that this is a game he wanted to see remastered. So, I got out my retro game PC, installed the game and started playing it. A few days ago, I finally finished the game so it’s time to give my review about this game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game. 

Old school shooter

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In this game, you take the role of a retired U.S. Marshall, James Anderson. After he comes home from the store, he finds out that his wife and daughter are kidnapped by two well-known outlaws. When you find out that they killed your wife and are on the run with your daughter, the case is on.

I do have to admit, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the story while I played this game. While the cutscenes that present the story are very nicely animated for the time, it didn’t grip me. I’m not saying that the story is badly written in any way, shape or form. The cutscenes I watched were thrilling enough to continue playing the game. The voice acting was decent as well. The only thing that I didn’t like about the voice acting was how cliche some voices were. Also, there wasn’t enough emotion in some scenes in my opinion.

Speaking of the voice acting, there is also voice acting during the gameplay. A lot of enemies taunt you with some lines over and over again. The only thing that could be better if there were more lines said. Since, if you hear the same taunts spoken in the last level that you heard on the first level, you stop paying attention to them.

This game is your typical early-3D style shooter. Each level has an end boss and in order to reach the said boss, you have to look for keys to unlock the doors they hide behind. The first time I encountered a boss, I died after two hits. I got so frustrated with the game, I almost rage quitted. After I calmed down, I tried again but this time, I waited and learned the pattern of the boss. When I killed the boss, a cutscene played and that’s when everything clicked for me.

Not long after that, I learned that the yellow arrow on the map screen is the location of the final boss. This is a pretty handy feature. One that helped me several times when I got stuck. The map screen was a good friend in this game. It helped me several times to find new ways when I got stuck or felt that I was running around in circles. There are three things I would change about it. One, have a sort of marker where doors are where you need special keys for. Two, a zoomed out map would be amazing. And three, I would have loved the see the level names like in DooM somewhere in the bottom of the screen.

Something the map screen did well is show how many secrets there are in a given level and keep track of how many you found. This was good fun.

This game doesn’t have an autosave feature. You can save whenever and wherever you want. Just hit the “Esc” key on the keyboard and choose the option “save”. The only thing I could have loved to see improved is that the time and date was displayed when the save was made.

Reload that gun

Outlaws_PC_31

This game has an amazing reload mechanic. In this screenshot, you can see how the revolver doesn’t have any ammo left. When you hold the right mouse button, you start to insert bullet by bullet in your gun. But, don’t worry, when you meet an enemy while reloading, you can just shoot. Even when your gun isn’t fully loaded. I wish more shooters implemented this feature. It speeds up the action so much and makes the gameplay more fun in my opinion.

I played this game on the medium difficulty. Let me tell you, this game can get intense. The game never gets too hard to be unfair. I have played a little bit on the hardest difficulty. Let me tell you, you have to use your cover or you won’t survive.

For the most part, the level design is very well built. I really liked all levels in the game. One of my favorite levels was the Canyon. Especially when you were able to shoot enemies from the cliffs. They have a separate animation for that and even a sound effect! It helped so much with building the atmosphere. In that stage, there was also one of my favorite stage gimmicks. There is wind blowing through the canyon. At certain places, when you weren’t moving; well, the wind moved you towards the cliff edges. There were a lot more stage gimmicks providing variety through out the game.

In this game, you shoot with a lot of different guns. I liked the revolver the most since you can shoot quickly with it. It helped me to clear out a lot of crowded areas. But, all weapons have their own use in certain situations. The only thing I did have problems with is the dynamite. It never lit on fire, I had to shoot it always when I wanted to use it.

That disappointed me, just like the sheriff badge pick up. While these are rare to find, I don’t know what they do. So, I had to consult the manual. Apparently, it’s a shield and a damage increase. I didn’t notice any change with or without the badge.

What disappointed me the most was the frustrating platforming parts. This game had a few, very interestingly designed platform segments but due to the sometimes floaty and unreliable jump, this got to some frustrating deaths and/or me having to do that jump section all over again. When you are playing this game, master the run and jump and the crouch and jump as quick as you can.

Something that didn’t disappoint me was the manual. The manual for this game is actually beautifully created and designed. It features some additional background stories and information about the characters you meet in the game. It’s also themed like the wild west, just like the additional leaflet for the troubleshooting problems with the multiplayer.

Speaking of the multiplayer, this game has it. While I wasn’t able to experience it, from what I read, it’s a decent addition.

Wild West music

Outlaws

This game is, give or take, a 15-hour long adventure. I have to say, I think I’m willing to play through this adventure again. The gameplay is a lot of fun. The game’s presentation is dated but still holds up for retro gamers.

The animation is pretty good too. But if we are speaking of presentation, this game excels in two things as well. The soundtrack and sound design. The soundtrack is amazing. Honestly, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite soundtracks I heard lately. I’m so adding it to my library of video game soundtracks to listen to while I write.

The sound design is well done as well. I played this game with a headset that blocks out a lot of the sound from around me. So, I was able to fully immerse myself into the game. I have proof that I was fully immersed into the game since most of my play sessions of this game were around 2-3 hours without a break.

Earlier in this review, I touched upon the jump mechanic. Overall, the controls are pretty good. The game has a fast flow to it and I didn’t have problems with the controls. Apart from what I mentioned earlier, the jumps.

When you play the historical missions, some jumps that you have to do are a bit pixel perfect. But, I won’t go too much in-depth about that since I already complained about that earlier in my review.

Something that annoyed me the most in this game is that some areas are designed to get a player stuck. I had to consult a walkthrough twice since I got stuck on two different levels. And both times, it was with one hallway I didn’t check enough or in a place, I forgot to crouch.

So, if you get stuck in this game, don’t forget you can jump ridiculous distances and crouch!

Something that took me by surprise and made me happy is the fact that some enemies were female! Yes, female enemies in a shooter. Some were even bosses of a level. Thank you for doing that LucasArts!

It’s quite clear that LucasArts made this game since there are a lot of easter eggs and references in this game. You can find aliens, Indiana Jones, Sam & Max and a lot more easter eggs. So, if you enjoy easter egg hunting, pick up a copy of this game and start looking!

The final thing I have to say is that I find this game too short. After I had beaten the game and the historical missions, I found it bitter sweet. I wanted to play more but I was happy that I had beaten the game. If only LucasArts was still around, then I would be able to ask/nag for a remake or a sequel to this game.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left some things out for you guys to discover. But it’s time to wrap up the article and get to the conclusion of this one.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The annoying parkour sections.

-Minor complaints about the map screen.

-No date/time displayed on the save screen.

-The voice acting was too cliche sometimes

-Too short!

The good:

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ Addictive gameplay

+ Great presentation for the time

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you look the negatives I listed, it’s quite clear that those are very minor problems. This game is so close to perfect, it’s annoying. The biggest problem to me was the annoying parkour bits that were difficult to do with the sometimes floaty and unreliable jump.

All the other issues are so minor, they weren’t too big of an issue to put a damper on the fun I was having with the game. If you enjoy games like DooM, Wolfenstein, Heretic amongst others, you owe it to yourself to check out this game.

I highly recommend this game to people who enjoy stealth games too. If you play it on the highest difficulty setting, this game is a great stealth game.

I’m so happy to have this gem of a game in a big PC box complete in my collection. This game is one I will most likely play again in the future since I enjoyed my time with it so much. Also, the soundtrack is pretty great and I can’t wait to listen to it while I’m on the road.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say in this article. Thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 100/100

Blogger Blitz Round #1: Retail Rumble

blogger-blitz

What is this?

What is Blogger Blitz?

Basically, it’s a writing competition between bloggers we are doing for fun. I could explain everything in detail, but the organizer has written a very long blog post about it. In this post, you can find all other bloggers who are in this competition. So, feel free to read this post if you want more information.

https://adventurerules.blog/2017/07/24/blogger-blitz-round-one-match-schedule/

First Round!

So, I have the honor to start in the first round and start the first “battle”. So, today I’m presenting you with this:

BloggerBlitzround1.jpg

Basically, the goal of this round is to convince you and the judges that a certain iconic item of the character can be mass produced and sell the best. For example, Minecraft Steve can mass produce diamond tools and sell them at a high price.

Since I choose Indiana Jones as my character, I’ll try and convince you about what he could mass market and sell. Oh, if you don’t know a lot about Indiana Jones or want to read a bit about his background, well… here is a massive article from the Indiana Jones Wiki telling every adventure in order from all the movies, games, books and other media: http://indianajones.wikia.com/wiki/Indiana_Jones

If you want to read the argument that Lightning Ellen makes, feel free to take a read at her blog here: https://lightningellen.com/

Her character will be Lightning Farron from Final Fantasy XIII. If you want to read more about the character of my opponent, here is a link to her page on the Final Fantasy Wiki: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Lightning_(Final_Fantasy_XIII)

The results will be announced on Friday the 4th of August on the Adventure Rules blog, so we shall both check there! So, I hope you are ready since here comes my argument! Also, the rules state that the argument can only be 500 words long. Just a little side note. The rules can be read here: https://adventurerules.blog/2017/07/27/blogger-blitz-rules-and-regulations/

So, may the best argument win!

My argument

Dr. Henry Indiana Jones Jr. got a special phone call after he finished his classes at the Marshall College. It was his other boss, the one with the big ears and the big white gloves. The conversation was brief, but it made Indiana nervous.

He had to go to his office and pitch something new to convince him to not go for another project. He thought about it for a while and after he created a prototype, he went to the office of his boss.

When he was walking towards the office, a young girl with long pink hair walked outside. Then he realized, the other pitch was for Kingdom Hearts. He got even more nervous. There was only room for one more project and he wanted that spot.

Indiana’s plan was simple, to sell new merchandise to attract new fans and try to ease the pain of the disappointed fans that saw the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie. He had to make and present something good, otherwise, the release of the new movie in July 2020 might be a flop and that would mean possibly the end of his franchise.

After the young girl left the hallway, he knocked on the door. He knocked a few times in rapid succession. It didn’t take long before he could enter the office. But, this time, Indiana wasn’t alone with the mouse in the office, his wife was sitting in the office as well.

Indiana didn’t hesitate and started his pitch. He started to talk about how the merch sales are declining and they needed to come out with a new item so that they could hype up the 5th big movie. Indiana’s plan was simple. He wanted to make a new line of costume sets.

This would serve several purposes. It would be very handy for people that want to cosplay, act in theaters, make fan movies, collectors and so on and so forth. The mouse was happy to see something that iconic being pitched in front of him.

Yet, Indiana wasn’t done with his pitch. There was another layer to his idea. Since he was nearing his retirement, he also wanted to sell the costume set to create a great competition for his replacement actor. Since, that would make it easier to set up some sort of show, “Who will be the next Indiana?”.

The costume set would have everything, the fedora, shirt, jacket, pants, satchel and a prop gun and prop whip. Indiana didn’t want to limit it, so he created a female prototype. This made the wife of the mouse happy. She found it very cute and fell a bit in love with the design. She tried it on and she was convinced of the pitch. In her eyes, Indiana won. But the mouse, he had to speak to the judges. Since he wasn’t sure who had the best pitch. He both liked the pitch of the pink haired girl and Indiana. So, what now. What now?

Ending of my entry

So, that was my argument. To prepare myself for this, I replayed various Indiana Jones games and rewatched all movies I owned. Also, I wanted to present my argument in a way how I love to write, in a story.

I highly recommend you read the argument made by Lightning Ellen and decide for yourself who won. But, who will go to the 2nd round? Well, as I said earlier in this article, the jury will decide that and it will be announced on August the 4th. You can find the links for that earlier in the article.

As a little side note, for those who didn’t get it; I wrote about this event. Obviously, I took some creative freedom to fit it into a story only about Indiana Jones. This story has no ill intent to anybody or any company.

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

My top 25 DS games of all time. (Part 2/3)

25 – 20

Welcome to part 2!

#19: Might & Magic: Clash Of Heroes

MMClashOfHeroesBoxshot

Look! There is a dragon on the box-art. Best game ever made! 10/10. Next game.

My love for dragons has nothing to do with this game. It was only a lame joke to start my explanation for my pick for the 19th spot.

I do love playing puzzle games sometimes. But when there is a battle element involved, I enjoy it even more. It has also been released on Steam, so you can enjoy it on the PC as well.

I have to admit that I haven’t beaten the game. But I’m really trying to find time to play this game. Sadly enough, this is a game I can only play in short bursts. That’s mostly due to the nature of the gameplay. But I’m sure that some people might be able to keep playing this game for hours on end.

What I have seen from the game shows that this game is a very good game. Further proof is that on some lists of forgotten gems on the DS, this game appears. So, I don’t have to further proof myself… I think.

 #18: Orcs And Elves

Orcs_&_Elves_Cover

Sometimes, I love myself a good dungeon crawler and adventure game. This game nails most of the things I was looking for in these kinds of games. The game feels old, which made me love it even more. Yet, I was surprised how this game is a port of a mobile game. And this port is actually pretty well made. iDSoftware and EA worked on it after all. (And there aren’t any microtransactions from EA, thankfully.)

In this game, you play an elf that is fighting the orcs to stop corrupting the land. You fight through various dungeons and explore them. Best of all, it’s in 3D. So, that makes the atmosphere even better. What I love most of all, is that this game is turn based. If you make a move, your enemies make a move as well. This makes the game very tactical.

I haven’t beaten this game since the final boss is pretty brutal. At least, to me. Maybe, when I restart playing this game and thought out the evolution of my character a bit better, I might be able to defeat that boss. We shall see. And maybe then I’ll write a review about it! So yeah, we shall see.

#17: Ghost Trick

Ghost_Trick_EURecently, I have beaten a game called M.U.R.D.E.R.E.D. – Soul Suspect. My buddy, Seraph made a great video review for it. I highly recommend you guys watching it some time.

But this game is how it should have been. This visual novel and adventure game puts you in the role of a ghost. You have to avoid the death of a character by going a few minutes back in time. Then you have to poltergeist items to change the course of history.

The game became really memorable to me because one of the characters is a black cat, one that reminds me a lot of my own cat, Sparta. If only, my real life cat could talk to me.

When I started writing about this game, I actually wanted to replay this game. Since the memories are getting vague. Which is a good thing, because I remember enjoying this game a whole lot. Maybe, one day, I might write an article about it.

#16: Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures

lego-indiana-jones-the-original-adventures-cover548534

It would be a shame if I hadn’t put an Indiana Jones game on this list, right? Well, here it is! Lego Indiana Jones. I know that there is a sequel and an other game of my favorite hero on the DS, but I don’t think they deserve a spot on this list (yet). Because, I haven’t played them enough.

This game is simply one of the best LEGO games I have ever played. In 2014, there is an overdose of LEGO games with all a similar formula.

This game is pretty fun to play. It follows the plot of the movies pretty close. It helps introducing the movies to a younger audience, since it doesn’t contain the graphical scenes which made the movies not meant for their eyes. The humor of this game makes it even better. I actually laughed with some jokes they made with the characters I love.

I hope that the sequel can bring me the same joy. I finally got myself a copy, so fingers crossed!

#15: Wario games (Best: Wario: Master Of Disguise)

Wario Master Of Disguise DS cover

I know what some readers are already thinking. Isn’t this cheating? Putting these games on spot 15, while I put all the Mario games on spot 23? No, it’s not cheating. The reason behind it, is that these games are pretty different from the Mario series in my opinion.

The honorable mention for this spot is WarioWare D.I.Y., which helped DS gamers to make their own mini-games. That was simply an amazing experience.

But if this spot has to go to one game, it has to be Wario: Master Of Disguise. Because I think that this game has a brilliant idea behind it.

You play in the role of Wario. He just stole a magic wand that gives him the ability to transform in different suits that give him special powers. Maybe, I should take a closer look in a review or something?

 #14: Super Scribblenauts

252px-Superscribblenautsboxsmall

In the past, the Scribblenauts series was criminally overlooked. Because the game was on the DS, it looked like a kids game. While in reality, it’s one of the best games to be creative in.

I could have put the original too in this spot, but there is a reason why I don’t. Super Scribblenauts is just a better game then it’s original. It surpasses the original by so much.

While the user interface isn’t the best I have seen on the system, it’s highly addictive to play. Oh, you might be wondering what this game is about? Let me tell you, it’s about writing things to helps people. The people in Maxwell’s (main character) area aren’t very smart. So, you have to write words on your magic notepad.

The words you write however, come to life. In this version they added adjectives! So you can write “big blue truck” and you will get just that. You can basically write anything, as long it’s PG-13 and it isn’t trademarked. The game is a lot of fun, and if you are interested, there are a few titles of this series on Steam. So you have no excuse to give this series a try!

#13: Club Clubhouse_Games_coverHouse Games / 42 Game Classics

This game blew me off my socks. I think that this is one of the best games in it’s genre. This is how you should make a game about card and board games. I barely have anything negative to say about it.

The multiplayer is quite fun and I mostly remember this game because I played it a lot with my sister while we were young. The hours we spend on this game secretly playing this game while we are supposed to sleep. I really enjoyed those times.

I recently got this game back, since I lost my first copy. And I play it from time to time. In the present, I play this game while I’m on the train towards work. But I’m afraid that I’ll miss my station one day because I’m too addicted to this game. So, fingers crossed that it never happens.

Actually, I should write a review or something about this game. Maybe next month, since in September I will write about games I wanted to write about for a long time.

#12: Another Code: Trace Memory 

Another_Code_Two_Memories_cover_artAlso known as “Trace Memory” in Europe, this visual novel game is quite an overlooked gem. The story of this game touches me on personal levels. There are some things that happen in the game that make it quite memorable to me. I won’t give the details about them, since they are personal.

A while ago, I actually took a look to the sequel of this game on the Nintendo Wii. If you are interested, you can follow this link to it: Another Code – R. In this game, Ashley is on a quest to look for her father. While she is on that quest, she will unravel a mystery about her dead mother. It’s a quite thrilling story, actually.

Ashley has a sort of PDA-ish device that looked like a DS. Her father developed it. It might be an easter egg or not, it’s quite an amusing touch.

Sadly enough, the developers of this game went bankrupt. Cing made also the smash hit named Hotel Dusk. Before you ask yourself which spot that it’s going to have on the list, let me save you this disappointment. I couldn’t really get into the art style.

#11: Time Hollow

Time_Hollow

I wrote a review on this game not too long ago! I praised it enough, so you guys might have seen this entry coming.

So, the reason why this is one of my favorite games, it’s simply because the story, theme song and gameplay kept my playing until the very end.

While the game’s length is criminally short, the actual content is highly enjoyable. The soundtrack is one of the ones I have heard in a visual novel game.

That themesong, that’s the most important factor in this game. The memories that are connected to it, that’s what I gave this game such a high spot on my list. Some memories about it might be personal, but they sometimes come all back when I listen to the song. At once.

I still remember playing this game, with my back to a radiator. It was quite cold. It was in the middle of the winter and it had snowed a whole bunch. A part of the wheels of my mothers car where even stuck in the snow. But I couldn’t be bothered, I was too drawn into this gem of a game.

#10: Retro Game Challenge

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xSeed, I’m sorry to hear that the sale of this game didn’t went all that good. For that reason, you couldn’t release the sequel in the west.

I urge everybody to start playing this game. If you love challenges and retro games, it’s right up your alley. If you liked games like NES Remix on Wii U, this game is something for you.

The humor, references and actually pretty accurate evolution of the video game industry… It makes for a gem of a game. I really wish it was more successful then this.

This game appears on various overlooked / underrated and top DS games, and it has every right to do so. This game has multiple games into one. And they aren’t simply mini-games, no! They are in itself full games.

They were even able to get a story into the game. Before, I sound like I’m trying to sell this game to you, I actually am. I’m not being payed by xSeed, but I think you should give them your money for this game! Or check it out at least!

End of part 2.

9 – 1

Gaming Nostalgia #1: Memories of the past

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Sadly enough, I’m afraid that I’m getting a little bit sick lately. I hope it’s something that flies over. Since the less time I waste being sick, the more time I can spend studying and maybe have some time left over to write an article so Q doesn’t have to write something to have an article each week. Anyways, I was reading my buddy’s theCredibleHulk’s latest article and he talked about my article once more. Yeah, he did. While I honestly disagree with his claim that Indiana Jones and The Infernal Machine is “crap”, he said he likes to read articles about nostalgia. And being a blogger that talks a lot about nostalgia and old games… Hey, perfect combo no? Let’s talk young NekoJonez

Gaming history

TSP-beginagainI have a pretty good memory when it comes to my childhood. One of the first times I got in touch with games was when I visited my cousins in the Netherlands. They allowed me to play on their computer. Well, play as in drawing things with paint. As a young child, this was an awesome game in my eyes.

If I remember correctly, around the age of 7, my parents got a computer in their house. And I still remember that my mom allowed me to play a copied version of Tarzan on that machine. And that game drew me into gaming for good.

I’m on the hunt to buy this game, and if I see it at a garage sale, I’ll buy it and play the -bleep- out of it. I remember not getting extremely far and dying left and right, but I still enjoyed my time. But then, everything changed.

I got my hands on my aunt’s gameboy. That grey brick one. The only game we had was Tetris but it was enough to make me addicted to play over and over again. And that brings back fond memories of playing Tetris DX against my grandmother and my aunts. Oh, those were the days.

I can talk ages about my gaming history but I have to save more for other articles about this subject, so let’s talk about something different shall we?

Blast from the past

While I’m struggling with how I’m going to present these articles, a few idea’s are floating in my head right now. This segment is “blast from the past”. Where I’m going to talk about a game I really remember from my childhood.

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As a kid, I was never really good at a certain game. While my PvP skills have improved, I’m still a derp and multiplayer hasn’t been something I often do. But something I really like doing was sharing my opinion on games. This was one of the first games I made a video on.

My first way of expression my opinion was making YouTube video’s of poor quality. Since I wanted to show the people how the game really looked like on a gameboy screen. I knew I could record with fancier devices, but now I was sure that nobody could say that I tricked the footage.

But as a child I even uploaded stupid video’s, which I thought were awesome. I remember a video where I talked about importing a video from your camera into Windows Movie Maker and then exporting it. Then the video was smaller in size. Of course, that’s logical. It’s called rendering a video. But as a child I didn’t knew better.

I actually never really owned the game legit back then. Now I have my legal copy but I played the game back then on those fancy 100 in 1 games. Where you have only 10 games in one with the save feature ripped out. So, I had to replay the game couple of times before I could continue making footage.

Another memory was me playing the game on one of my various trips to the France or Austria. We drove there by car. And it was a drive of nearly a whole day. And my gameboy held me company for the whole road. And man, I nearly finished this game with my child like mind. I was so proud of myself.

Talking about this game and listing to childhood music makes me want to write more about this game. And I might, if I ever replay it in a holiday.

Gaming skills

01How good am I at games? Well, most of kids in my time tried to be the best in the game that was hot at the time. The progressed at a rapid speed and they knew the game from front to end. And I was the weird kid on the block. I didn’t do that.

I looked more at the inner working of the games. Why was it so much fun and what was actually creative? Yeah, the critical sense was kind of developing back then. Together with my love for writing, I actually started reviewing games instead of trying to get good at them.

I saw games as a way to pass time. Not to be the best at it and defeat everybody and brag around the neighborhood. Games where a way to express my idea’s, feelings and opinions to others by using YouTube and my own blog.

And years later, nothing hasn’t really changed. My core personality of reviewing games and trying to be creative with the given tools is still here. You are reading an article about it.

But these days, I try to explore each and every game to it’s full extend. Even going as far as replaying games with cheats enabled to find spots and area’s where the devs hid something. And I’m not afraid to use mods. To see what other people have done with the game. I’m now into Pixelmon. I posted an image of a stronghold, that’s floating across a ravine, on my twitter earlier. I found that while playing Pixelmon 3.1!

I look at myself as a sort of jack of all trades. I don’t have a specialty in  a genre. Apart from some exceptions, there aren’t a style of games I’m really good at. But I’m able to beat games of all genres if I sink my teeth into it. Puzzle games, I crack those puzzles. Adventures? Sure, I finish them. Action? I will beat you down, bad guys. RPG’s? How can I defeat this boss without using a lot of items?

There are only two genres I rarely play. Fighting games and racing games. I can’t get into them. Bit of a shame really since I have friends who really want to play with me and play almost exclusively those types of games. Oh well, one day maybe.

So, we have talked about the history of my life in games, a big game in my childhood and how my gaming style evolved over the years. Not bad for a first article. If you liked this article, please give it a like and share it. It’s a sign for me to write more of these style of articles. But I’m going to leave other stories for other articles. I hope you enjoyed this and I hope to catch you next time here on my blog.

Review #023: Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine (PC) ~ Overdosing Childhood Nostalgia

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Wikipedia entry

“Time to go to work” is the opening of the game. Indy slides down a slope and lands on stone platform overlooking a canyon. Now you’re ready to start the game’s tutorial. Well, I can try to write a billion introductions for this game but I will never really be happy with it. I will always restart writing this article and after many tries, I just decided to write it. Since this game is filled with childhood nostalgia for me. I always try to replay it but with all broken copies, bad compatibility with later operating systems,  it’s a big pain. If you want to play this game, your safest bet is to either go and buy a truly old pc that runs Windows 98 or be lucky and play in a virtual machine. But the third option is that you go and buy the N64 version. I can’t talk much about that version since I only played the PC and gameboy color version. I still remember that one morning I woke up on my birthday at my aunt’s place and she gave me Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine for my gameboy. Okay, enough nostalgia. Feel free to leave me a comment with your opinion on this article and or game. Let’s dive right into this. 

Overlooked gem

Infernal_Machine_MeroeIf you look around the internet, you find mostly an overdose of content about it. But this game got overlooked. My best guess is that it’s mostly compared to a cheap Tomb Raider clone. Whilst this is somewhat true, I think that if you look at this game as an entry into the 3D adventure game genre, it’s a pretty solid entry.

Let’s talk about the story. While it isn’t a deep story, and it only has enough characters to count on your both hands, I think it actually works in favor of this game.

All the characters are flat and you barely got to know them. If I need to put aside my nostalgia, I have to admit that the story is weak. But then again, this is an action adventure game, so it’s a bit forgiven. Action games don’t need to have a deep story. While adventure games, a deep story is a must!

The story brings us through various locations. From Egypt to a boat in the middle of the sea. And every location is nicely introduced at the end of each level. And that’s the main function of the story, tying the levels together nicely.

The infernal machine

Indiana-Jones-and-the-Infernal-Machine-indiana-jones-35225169-800-600Thanks to some great voice acting, I personally can forgive the weak story. But the gameplay is where this game shines. And it truly shines.

First of all, there are around 15 levels in the game. Each level has a decent length. At best, you can finish this game after a few weeks of play.

Most area’s wont give you any trouble. Not that this game has low difficulty, not at all. But the game is pretty straight forward. While some puzzles can stump you, it’s not that you can get stuck easily.

Each level requires you to kill enemies, jump from platform to platform and try to find the exit to advance to the next level. Basic adventure game stuff. But the execution is amazing. Since each area, while falling into the cliche area’s, feels unique and feels true to the Indiana Jones movies. It’s almost like you are playing an Indiana Jones movie.

A volcano, jeep, boat, pyramid or a tropical island level are present in the game and tons more. And the main objective in each area is different and fun. While some have fetch quests, they don’t feel boring or lazy in any way. Plus, the game isn’t extremely linear. Some area’s can be finished with doing things in a different order.

Recommended

map14So, in each level you can find 10 treasure items. With these you can buy ammo, health packs and various other items at the end of every level. Some treasures are in plain sight, but some treasures ask some exploration of the open levels. A tip that I give to you guys is that in the Olmec Valley (level 10), there is a treasure hidden in a pond. That was one that took me a long time to find.

Visually, this game has aged quite poorly. The animations and graphics will look terrible to the modern gamer. But truth to be told, the design of every place is beautiful. For a retro gamer, this game is a jewel. A pearl in design.

The level design is just pretty and provides quite the variation in gameplay and will not easily bore you. Even a couple of easter eggs are hidden. I will reveal two of them. Both extremely close to each other. In one level, where you need to enter the mines, you will visit a control room. On the desk of the control room there is a picture of the Young Indy. If you press the action button, Indy will give a nice comment. After that, try to get on top of the control room. It’s tricky to do, but the boxes outside will help you. Once on top, light your lighter and somewhere in the middle you will see the name of one of the designers edged into the wood.

So, what haven’t I talked about? Oh yes, the music. While it’s mainly absent, I think that it’s a missed opportunity. The game could have benefited from a more extended musical score. But the sound design isn’t bad at all and gets a thumbs up from me.

Oh, before I forget, there is a big reward if you collect all the treasures. You will be able to buy something really special that will put a big smile on your face if you have seen the first movie. Just saying.

And to finish, let me talk about the cheats. Yes, there are cheats. From god mode to have each and every weapon in the game. But there are even easter eggs in the cheats!

So, I think I am going to leave it here for this review and go on to the conclusion. Don’t forget to draw everywhere on the walls with your chalk in the game! I haven’t talked about everything inside the game as usual, since I want you guys to have some discoveries in the game if you’re interested!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Tricky to get to work on modern system.

– Some weapons can crash the game if you have Windows XP or higher.

– The story is weak.

– This game could have benefited from more music.

The good:

+ The easter eggs are truly worth finding.

+ The replay value is high.

+ The length is very great.

+ Nice sound design.

+ Epic visuals for retro gamers.

+ Nice voice acting.

+ Addicting gameplay.

Conclusion:

Dayum, this was harsh to do. My nostalgia was always taking the better of me and pushing every bad thing I wanted to say, was pushed out of my head. The old warning I have to give is that this game is a pain to get working properly on modern systems. It even acts funny from time to time on my virtual machine. So, please, keep that in mind.

But this game was the cause I got truly addicted to gaming. It’s a very influential game in my eyes and I often reference it in my head when I’m reviewing or writing. Somehow it gives me inspiration.

Let me reveal a few things I haven’t talked about in my review. Like the adjustable difficulty, boss battles and a map system. Yeah, the game is pretty deep when I think about it. I had enough material for a long review for sure, but just because I felt like writing a review about this game and finally publish it, since I was always somewhat displeased, I kept it to my usual length.

Anyways, I’m writing a longer final thoughts then I should. Play this game for yourself and tell me what you thought of this game. I truly think it’s a master piece with a few flaws.

Score: 90 / 100

NekoJonez: Gaming Music – My favorites – Numbero 1

GameMusic_InArticleSo, I wasn’t planning to write an article today. Since I’m so busy with college and such. I said that on my Twitter. But now that I’m finally done with my work for today, I was listing to some music of my favorite games. And I came to a conclusion, even while I finished the game, I still listen to it’s music. Probably bringing back nice memories. So, in this article I’ll list some of my favorite music tracks in game history. I won’t make a top 5 or 10 out of it, in case I want to write a new article with this subject. Also, I won’t count remixes in this list. As I adore some remixes of the Ace Attorney themes. They are a no-go here. Since those weren’t in the original game. Anyways… Here. We. Go! Time to throw that volume up and enjoy some amazing (nostalgic) music. Feel free to comment your favorite music tracks in the comments. Or your opinions of my chooses as well.

#1: CastleVania (NES) – Bloody Tears

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Extended original version

There are a massive amount of remixes out of this track. The melody and structure of this track is so memorable that to this day, I whistle it when I’m on my bike riding to school. I brings back so many memories of playing this game at my cousin’s house and not able to sleep at night. Hey, I was a kid back then.

People who claim to fans of the series and can’t name the track by name, that’s the biggest shame you can have. This track gave me while writing this article a feeling to stand up and march/dance around in my room.

#2: Virtue’s Last Reward – Consternation

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I adore games with a dark plot. I simply love this series to death. It’s high in my favorite series of all time list.

Every time I hear this track from the amazing collection of tracks in the game, my jaw drops to the floor. Since every tense and amazing twist came with this track.

The timing was always right. While I think that this track has goes weaker near the ending, the start of this track is what I replay time and time again when I listen to the OST of this game. And since my save file corrupted, I’ll be able to enjoy this gem of a game again. Ah, do I wish that there is a new game in the series coming on 3DS.

#3: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Time To Say Goodbye

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Link

I rarely cry when reading a game story, even when the game gets extremely sad. But the setting of this game, yes, this kid’s game managed to do it. Each and every game. Even the latest installment on 3DS.

This finale track is such a nice track filled with friendship but also departure. Love and left alone. Together yet not.

When I used this track in the RP’s I took part in, many blamed me for using a “cheap” music track. I disagree. This track just fits big time to the situation and is perfect from start to finish. And the piano versions of this cry… Jeez. They are even harsher to not cry.

#4: Pokemon Black & White – Gym Leader ~ Last Pokemon

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Alright, I’m going to be extremely blunt here for a second, the latest theme in Pokemon X & Y for the gym leaders is terrible. It just feels empty to me. And why? Because of that weird introduction sound which destroys the melody that the middle brings.

Yet, they nailed it perfectly with this gem.The final gym leader Pokemon in Black & White is my favorite track in the whole game. It feels so rewarding when you hear this track and that you know that you are about to earn a new badge.

Since I didn’t had such a great party, I felt that the final part was really happening and that it’s now or never. Man, do I enjoy this track.

#5: Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine – Main Titles / Credits

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This is one of the best Indiana Jones games ever. Period. It actually created my love for 3D adventure games like Tomb Raider as well. Adventure games, highly story based games and visual novels are my favorite style of games.

While this game is heavily inspired by Tomb Raider, I grew up with this game and I prefer it over Tomb Raider. It’s also the game that gave me my nickname. So, it means a lot to me. And honestly, I’m so glad that I have a retro gaming pc where I can play this game on. I even plan to buy me a N64 with the game’s cartrigde off eBay just for the nostalgic reasons.

The game has not that much music but this track is an extremely nice combo of the actual John William’s score and the game’s score. And it blends so well that I even confuse both.

Man, do I miss this game.

Closing words

That’s more then enough nostalgia for me to bare in one night. Well, nostalgia that I didn’t plan at least. I do have a lot of music that I want to list as well of games that didn’t made this list. So, one day I’ll write a “sequel” on this article. I hope, since many bloggers have so many great idea’s they often forget to write a sequel on articles. You have to forgive that to them, they just do what they want to write.

Yet, I’m planning to look around my blog for topics to write about one day. And this’ll be one since now that I scroll through my favorites on Youtube, I see a lot of candidates. So thanks for reading and until next time.