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Review: Pokémon Sword & Shield (Switch) ~ Want Some Tea And Battling Biscuits?

Pokémon_Sword_and_Shield

Official websiteWikipedia entry

Before I introduce the game, I want to mention that this article is a part of a collaboration with other content creators for the celebration of the Pokémon series, Creator’s Catch. If you want to read more Pokémon content on this 25th anniversary of the original Pokémon games in Japan, there a hub article with more information. In any case, one of my pieces for this collaboration is a review on the latest main series Pokémon games called Pokémon Sword and Shield which released in late 2019 and got two expansion packs in 2020. Now, should you play this game or leave this game at the wayside? Was the “Dexit” controversy right, when not all the Pokémon were going to be included, to boycott the game or shouldn’t they worry? Let’s find out in my review of Pokémon Sword and Shield. I have played the Shield version and most of the DLC for this review. So, what is your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article, let me know in the comment section down below!

Want some tea?

In-Game-Screenshot-2

This game takes place in the Galar region. This region is based on a place that’s extremely close to me. I just have to cross the pond for it. Our above neighbors Great Britain were the inspiration for this game. In terms of story, the structure of the game is extremely similar to the original games. There is less focus on a more unique attempt at gyms like in Pokémon Sun & Moon.

So, you start out in your home town, picking one of three starter Pokémon to set out on a journey to discover the secrets and the evil lurking over the region by going to each and every gym and trying to defeat the Pokémon league.

I’m going to be blunt and honest here. While the story has some fun and quirky characters, it’s way to stripped down of anything that gives some tension to it. There isn’t even an “evil team” in this game. The motivations of the antagonist are weak at best. The biggest flaw is that the story lacked depth.

I finished these games last year and to remind myself what happened in the story, I had to take out my strategy guide and skim through it to get the gist of it. Now, there are a few moments that stood out during the story but these moments were far and few between.

It’s a shame really, since the writing and potential for a better story are in the game. I’m not going to argue that the previous Pokémon games always had a very in-depth story but I’m going to argue that the story was more engaging and gave a better atmosphere to the game. For example, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire tell a story about the climate in terms of the balance of land and water. Pokémon Black and White told a story about the moral of capturing creatures to help in work. Pokémon Sun and Moon told a story about how power can go and make you mad.

I can’t tell you what the moral or message of the Pokémon Sword and Shield games are. In a matter of fact, the actual climax and buildup is so see through that I’m quite sure that even a young child is going to see the twist at the end coming from a mile away. The DLC thankfully takes a step in the right direction, they feel a bit more fleshed out and still have a story to tell instead of something quite generic that the main story is telling.

I think I could ramble on and on about the story, but I think I should focus on review this game and talk about other elements as well, so let’s take a further look into this Pokémon game and let’s see why the fans of the Pokémon franchise are so divided on this game.

Some biscuits, please!

In-Game-Screenshot-18

Even when a game doesn’t have an enjoyable story, the game can still be quite fun. Now, let me first tackle the “Dexit” controversy. There was a group of Pokémon fans who were quite angry when it was announced that not all Pokémon would make it over into the Pokémon Sword and Shield games. I can totally understand from where these people are coming from but I can totally understand the viewpoint of the developers.

It’s a bummer for the fans that they might be unable to catch their favorite Pokémon or carry their Pokémon over from older games. I can totally understand the fear that it’s now possible that Pokémon are going to be locked behind a DLC-paywall. I would totally agree with that fear if the developers implemented a pay per Pokémon scheme, but thankfully enough, they didn’t. Thankfully in the DLC we got 200 Pokémon that were returning to the game for a reasonable price.

Now, what do I personally think about the whole Dexit controversy? Well, to be honest, I don’t mind the fact that not every Pokémon is in the game. And I’m going to explain myself. I think it would have been a huge workload to make close to 900 new models and make them work in the new game. In addition to that, I think it’s a great way to force players to experiment with the new Pokémon. Since why should you catch or try out the new Pokémon if you are able to catch all the ones you know?

Just thinking about the workload that adding 900 Pokémon in one game is going to bring is making my head spin. Not only you need to make sure that there is the right balancing, but you also need to make sure that every Pokémon has it’s use and reason for existing. And let’s not forget the fact that you need to animate them in a large dynamax form as well. Also, just imagine that you had an extremely low chance to catch a certain Pokémon just because there are too many in one route.

It would bloat the game beyond belief. I think that it’s quite possible that when the next generation comes out, we are going to have close to 1000 Pokémon. So, you could start to argue that maybe we shouldn’t have new Pokémon in the next generation but discovering the new Pokémon is just half the fun of a Pokémon game isn’t it.

Anyways, I think it’s time to focus on Pokémon Sword and Shield’s gameplay isn’t it? So, how does this game play? Well, in terms of gameplay, nothing really changed. If you have played Pokémon games in the past, you know what to expect in this game. You train your Pokémon during Pokémon battles in routes and cities and try to defeat 8 gyms that specialize in a type to gain 8 badges to defeat the 5 strongest trainers in the region. Meanwhile you discover the truth behind the legend of that region’s legendary Pokémon(s).

For some veterans, the formula is getting a bit stale. I still enjoyed going through the whole game but I’m a bit disappointed that they are returning to the old school gym design. The trail challenges in the previous Sun and Moon games were such an amazing breath of fresh air. In this game, it’s a strange mixture between the old school gym design an a sort of challenge based design. It’s a step in the right direction to make gyms more fun but something that did surprise me is the fact that there are differences in the gym depending on the version you are playing. Finally, there are more differences between the versions then just the Pokémon you can catch. For example, in Circhester, you fight Gordie who uses rock Pokémon for the 6th badge if you play the Sword version. But in the Shield version, you fight Gordie’s mother Melony and she uses ice Pokémon to challenge you. Sadly enough, this happens for one other gym. I would love to see more in the future. More differences between the versions instead of just the Pokémon you can catch and/or some minor visual/text differences.

There are two unique mechanics in this game. The first is dynamaxing. With this mechanic, you can dynamax your Pokémon in certain criteria. You can use this mechanic during special battles basically. When you dynamax your Pokémon, they grow quite large and they can use extremely strong attacks. I could explain it in detail, but if you want to know more, Bulbapedia has an amazing in-depth article on it. This mechanic really puts an interesting twist on battling but I feel that this doesn’t scream Pokémon to me. It feels like just a spin on Mega Evolution which is basically Dynamax Lite now.

The second unique mechanic are the wild areas. These areas are basically quite open routes where you can do just a little bit more than just battle trainers, battle wild Pokémon and go from one place to the next. If all the routes were more as open and as large to the wild area, then I would applaud the developers. Now, the wild area feels painfully underdeveloped. You can camp and cook in these areas but that is just a small distraction at best. The things you can do while camping feel extremely limited and the cooking mini game is enjoyable but I rarely came back to it.

In the cooking mini game, you have to combine berries and a core ingredient to create all sorts of curry. You can find these ingredients in the wild area. These curries can give a boost to the friendship you have with the Pokémon and other very minor boosts. One of these boots can be to experience gain.

There is a multiplayer aspect to camping and cooking but to be honest, I haven’t used it nor have I experimented with it that much so I’m not going to comment on it. Feel free to talk about it in the comments since I would love to know if it’s fun or not.

Something I feel rather mixed about is the fact you can easily access the boxes anywhere in the world. So, that means you can easily swap your team members on the fly. Thankfully, they don’t fully heal if you switch them in and out of the box during your adventure, since that would have broken the difficulty of this game even more.

This brings me to the point of the difficulty of Pokémon Sword and Shield. Balancing a game just right is something quite tricky to do. I have written a lengthy article about it in 2019. Now, I’m sad to say that this game doesn’t deliver in that department. You have to go out of your way to make the game more challenging. There are various video’s and articles floating around on the internet to give you tips and tricks to make the game more difficult. I’m just going to give some examples: TheGamer and NintendoLife.

The aftertaste

In-Game-Screenshot-27

Now, it might seem that I’m ripping this game apart. Complaining about the story, the unique mechanics and the difficulty of the games. I think I’m going to run ahead of the conclusion of this article but I feel that Pokémon Sword and Shield could have been so much better, miles better in fact. The potential is there in the game.

The game controls amazingly well. It’s the first mainline Pokémon game on a console and it made the transformation quite well. While I got some minor slowdowns during some intense senses and during some battles after selecting a move, they weren’t too bad and the framerate got stable again quite fast.

Something I really liked in this game is the soundtrack and the audio design. Some tracks in this soundtrack like the battle theme of Bede or the battle theme of Marnie are absolute bobs. I also listen to the soundtrack from this game from time to time while at work and while writing articles. I enjoy it just that much. The sound effects add to the atmosphere of the game as well. For example, you feel that moves having the impact it should have to draw you in into the world of this game.

I can totally understand that some people are somewhat disappointed with the visual presentation of this game. Especially since some attacks have a 2D animation while some attacks have a grand 3D animation. To be honest, I didn’t mind it that much. I rather have a generic animation that can be used for every Pokémon that can learn or execute that move instead of the developers having to create a separate animation for each and every Pokémon that can learn the move.

This game is quite colorful and detailed. The visual presentation of a steampunk Great Britain is rather well executed and well done in my opinion. I really like the fact that battles with gym leaders are in a grand stadium, it’s something I always imagined as a kid. Then again, I wonder every gym battle can draw those huge crowds if this region where real. But that’s nitpicking beyond belief.

In terms of visuals, I have been comparing character models of Pokémon from Sun & Moon and Sword & Shield. I have to say that it’s a huge improvement and they look a lot better with better lighting and details in Sword & Shield. Now, you can clearly notice during the game that the developers hit the limits of the 3DS in Sun & Moon, so we should only get better models in the future. It’s also amazing to see that you can see the first Pokémon in your party to follow you in the overworld.

HM moves are a thing of the past in this game. This is something I really feel mixed about. It’s something that could be used to gate players from progressing too fast in the game in more unique ways instead of just blocking the road with various people. It also created more interesting puzzles by sliding blocks or having to dive under water. It’s something I’m going to miss to be quite honest yet I totally understand why it has been done. This way you don’t have to have a Pokémon in your party that’s simply your HM slave and make the world more open to exploration.

A huge positive in this game is the fact that they finally fixed the random battle system. You can finally see all the wild Pokémon in the overworld and avoid them if needed to catch a certain one. In addition to that, you can see which moves are effective against the Pokémon you are battling if you have fought the Pokémon before. If only there was an option to turn it off for more veteran players, that would be awesome. Like an option to disable the always on experience share or turn it in another mode would have been great as well.

This game also has a few online modes like raids and versus battles. But I’m not that big of an online gamer so I’m going to comment on those very much because I haven’t experienced them enough to talk about them. Now, you can do raid battles solo and those are fine but you feel that these are more enjoyable when you do them with friends or strangers online.

Something I’m totally forgetting to talk about is the fact that there is a way you can ease of the griding of your Pokémon! Since you can send them on jobs. In the Pokémon Centers you have a machine where you can play the Pokémon Lottery but more important, send your Pokémon on certain jobs. The better they preform on a better, the more experience and rarer items they will bring back. You can also choose for how long you will have to miss your Pokémon. It’s a sort of free daycare system.

That brings me to how content is somewhat locked in this game. The further you get in the game, the more items unlock. So, even if you were to cheat and go out of bounds towards another city’s Pokémon Center to go to the market, you won’t be able to buy more powerful items. It’s the same with collecting the League cards, which is just an immersion mechanic in the game.

Something new in this game is that there is an autosave feature. So, the days of manually saving are over. Surprisingly enough, there is an option to enable to disable the autosave feature. Now, I have mostly played this game without the autosave feature since I felt that my game ran a smidge better with it off.

The last things I want to talk about is the postgame and the DLC’s. Let’s start with the postgame. There is a minor silly additional story you get after becoming the champion. I’m sorry but I can’t take the characters in this story chapter seriously, I find it a bit ridiculous and silly. Apart from that, you can learn unique moves and do various other things. A nice list has been created by gamewith.net. Personally, I find the post-game content rather enjoyable apart from the silly story of course.

So, the DLC. I honestly have to say that it’s totally worth a purchase. The base game provides around 30 to 40-ish hours of content if you want to play the main story and the extra’s. If you add the two DLC’s on top of that, it’s another 10 to 20 hours on top of that. If you want to fully complete the game, you are looking at an adventure that takes close to 130 hours to complete.

The DLC is also amazing postgame content. It adds unique mechanics and is a step in the right direction when it comes to game difficulty. So, if you enjoyed the base game, I think that the additional 30€ is worth it for both DLC’s. They might be a tad bit on the expensive side but they add more then enough content to justify the price in my opinion.

To avoid spoilers, I’m not going to talk too in-depth about them, but one DLC is a whole new island to explore with a fun quest to find all the Digletts and to train a Pokémon to fight in one of two towers to choose between which legendary Pokémon you want in addition to the biggest wild area in the game. The other DLC gives a whole new boss rush rouge like mini game for legendary hunting and another new wild area.

And with that said, I think it’s high time for my conclusion. Since this review is getting rather lengthy isn’t it?

Conclusion

The bad:

-Rather underwhelming story.

-The game is too easy.

-Some parts of the game feel underdeveloped and underused.
The good:

+ Amazing visual design.

+ Interesting new spins on the gym battles.

+ Amazing soundtrack.

+ …
Final thoughts:

After I had beaten the main game and played parts of the DLC, I started a review of this game multiple times and scrapped it each and every time. This game has so many underdeveloped good and fun elements it hurts to see them dragged down by the two biggest downfalls of this game and that’s the weak story and the game being too easy for it’s own good.

I still enjoyed my time with the game but sometimes I felt that these games are becoming a shadow of their former selves. I honestly think that if the story had more depth and there were difficulty options, this game wouldn’t have divided the fanbase so much. Of course, you have the whole Dexit controversy thing, but as I explained before, I don’t find it too big of a disaster.

The game is still a blast to play with an amazing soundtrack, new and fun mechanics like the wild area’s and a lot of accessibility features like seeing the effectiveness of moves. Also, we are finally seeing more differences between both versions that just simply the Pokémon you can catch in the wild.

This generation took a few steps back and a few steps forward and I’m quite curious to see what we are going to get in the future. What games are we going to get in this anniversary year of Pokémon? Since I would love to see the franchise continue and thrive since this game proves that the formula can still be quite a lot of fun if it’s handled well.

So, should you pick up this game? I would recommend it but I would warn players that they shouldn’t expect an expansive story and a lot of challenge expect they create their own challenge. But, it’s still a great and enjoyable Pokémon game where you can sink a lot of hours into.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. 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: 70/100

Remember, this article is part of a huge collab of content creators to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pokémon in Japan. Want to read more articles and content? Click here to go to the hub article where we all take a look at the main line Pokémon games and various spin-offs.

Preview: The Uncharted Roads of Marco Polo (PC) ~ The Road To Development

4 (1)[15753]Today I have something quick unique to present to you. Not too long ago, I met somebody on a Facebook group about point-and-click adventure games who was developing a new title. The game is called ”The Uncharted Roads of Marco Polo” and it looks extremely interesting to me. I suggested creating an article for the developers and they agreed. So, here we are. I’m writing a preview article for a game that only released some screenshots and a small trailer video. But there is more! I had the chance to talk to one of the developers of this game called Josip Makjanic and we are going to talk about the uncharted road that took him to this development. So, with that said, it’s time to dive into this article and invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

 The pitch

So, what is this game about? The developer provided me with a bit more information about the game. Basically, the game is a point-and-click adventure game like Broken Sword and Monkey Island. You can also compare it to Captain Disaster, Another Code R, Time Hollow, Ace Attorney, Professor Layton or the CSI games.

The game takes the player all over various landmarks in Croatia to solve puzzles and have a grand adventure. The story will be based on historic locations and figures. At this moment, the game is in its pre-alpha stage and has over 60 locations planned together with various characters to populate them. The puzzles will be in the style you would find in the Broken Sword or the Monkey Island series.

Pre-Alpha means that the game is in a sort “draft” phase. It means that everything is being prepared to go into the production of the game. Compare it to baking a cake, the moment you plan to bake a cake and make a list of which ingredients you will need and for whom you are making the cake… Those are things you would do in the pre-alpha stage of development. You can read more information about the development cycle on this Wikipedia article.

Personally, I love games that take place in unusual locations around the world. So, this game takes place in Croatia and is being developed by Svarog Interactive. This 4-man team is also based in Croatia. Now, the guys from there also send us a little teaser video that you can find right here:

I have to say, this teaser is extremely impressive. Right away, I noticed that the art style resembled the art style in the first Broken Sword games. Like the Broken Sword games, the locations are extremely detailed and colorful. Unlike the Broken Sword games, the animation like the leaves and the flies on screen… Well, the location feels more alive than ever. I find it rather enjoyable that everything looks quite realistic and those flies, man, they look so goofy I love it.

If you compare the Pre-Alpha video to the screenshots I shared on top of this article, you notice some big differences right away. First of all, the dialogue system looks a lot cleaner. You get dialogue boxes with character portraits on top. Also, you notice that on the bottom right corner, you have a bag. Most likely, this is where your items are going to be stored. So, you won’t have to go to the top of your screen for that. In addition to that, in the right upper corner, you notice that there is a gear icon. This will most likely be a way to go to the pause menu.

Early EnvironmentsSadly enough, since this game is still in extremely early development, there is nothing more I can show you or talk about. I can’t wait to see more and I’m going to follow the development of this game quite closely.

Yet, if you want more and you speak Croatian, you can read this article with one of the developers by 24Sata. Now, there is also this YouTube video where the developer talks about his road towards development. While the video is in Croatian, there are English subtitles provided. Sadly, the subtitles just stop around the 5:11 mark, so there are 2 minutes without subtitles ☹.

Now, before we continue with the interview with Josip Makjanic, one of the co-founders of Svarog Interactive, I want to share some links where you can follow the project as well. They have a Facebook page and Twitter page.

Oliver, Alice & Evil Seagul

Let’s talk

Jonez: Welcome Josip Makjanic, co-founder of Svarog Interactive. Can you give us a small introduction about yourself?

Josip: Hello Jonez. My name is Josip Makjanic, a co-founder and Game Designer in Svarog Interactive.

Jonez: In our conversation over mail you told me that this isn’t your first game. You worked on impressive games like Serious Sam 4 and Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope. Serious Sam is an amazing series from Croatia, your home country. Was it always your dream to develop games?

Josip: Yes. I was always fascinated by it. I started making video games not so long ago, but I sort of designed games in general since I was a kid, by designing them on paper, writing stories and creating concepts. When I lived in a high school dorm I used to make versions of Warcraft, Diablo and even Counter Strike on paper that we played with dice, and people from the dorm would come and play in our room.

I was always fascinated by it and loved creating, so today, with some experience behind and with some good friends by my side, I thought it’s time to start working on our own video games.

Jonez: On the road to the developping of “The Uncharted Road of Marco Polo”, you created two other games called “Day in Dementia” and “In Memory”. Both games have a similar concept and art style. As a side note, I have to say that I’m touched by “In Memory”. The story behind it, a game to honor the dead of your mother, I have one word for you: respect. Respect man. Now, I noticed that both games were created in Construct. Are you using the same engine for this game?

Josip: Thank you. 🙂 Both of these games were made in Construct 2, and were created as a personal project. I don’t even know if I could call them games, but rather some sort of experiences that meant a lot to me personally. Marco Polo is being developed in Unity since it gives us more freedom from the technical sides of things.

Jonez: In our conversation, you talk about an open-world RPG. So, this point-and-click game isn’t the only title you are working on? What is this open-world RPG game or is it more a testing ground for possible future titles?

Josip: We are huge fans of Point & Click games and huge fans of RPG’s. We grew up on those games and always wanted to make our own worlds that others can enjoy with us. So, we are working on an open-world RPG system and have stories and concepts, but, we don’t like to rush ourselves, as we know how ambitious and big these projects are, and we would, of course, need a much bigger team. So before it happens, and we hope it will, there are other, smaller projects in mind, but we are going in that direction.

It’s very important for us to first understand how everything works and make many tests so we don’t waste time or get lost in the projects we’re developing, which makes the development much more enjoyable and better organized. So yes, we are making tests and preparations for other projects, but Marco Polo is a priority and is written as a trilogy. We are also huge fans of traditional drawing and animations, so I don’t think we will ever want to part with it. 🙂

Jonez: Now, let’s get back to The Uncharted Road of Marco Polo since that’s the game that I’m previewing with this article. I’m rather curious. Why about Marco Polo? If the game is set in Croatia and Marco Polo is a merchant from Italy. Of course, there is this debate about his birthplace might be Croatian as well… So, why the decision for Marco Polo?

Josip: The game is talking about historic figures and real places, and players will learn so much about Croatia from it, and while the game has many real things people can learn about, it’s story is fictional and we won’t get involved into that debate, but will rather focus on some other, more interesting aspects based on his life, and how to make an enjoyable story and experience in general. 🙂

Jonez: Are you developing this game full-time or are you developing this game on the side like the Corpse Party developers GrisGris? Also, how do you make sure that there is enough budget to create this game?

Josip: We are currently working in our free time, so that means that we also have other jobs, doing freelancing and helping each other out, but we believe that soon we’ll be able to work full time on the game, and when that happens, we will inform everyone about it. If we don’t get a publisher then we will definitely go Kickstarter with playable Demo, Trailer and some other interesting things in mind. So the game’s development is currently going smoothly without too many investments, but we will definitely depend on a publisher or Kickstarter later if we want to finish the game in a reasonable time.

We also don’t want to go on Kickstarter without having some quality content that people can enjoy before considering supporting us. 🙂

Jonez: You told me that there are, including you, 4 people working on this game. Can you tell us a bit more about the team and the talent in it?

Josip: Yes, there are 4 of us and we all have some projects behind us. There is Alen, our technical guy who makes sure all the systems work in general. Devis is our character artist and animator, and Andrija is our manager. I make backgrounds, write a story and making a game design in general, but we are all highly involved in each part of the development so there is a bit of everyone in every aspect of the game. Andrija, for example, came up with the idea of Marco Polo, so we all worked together to make a story that will fit the game’s mechanics.

There will be behind the scenes when it comes out. 🙂

Jonez: And as a final question, I would like to ask what are your favorite parts of being a game developer and what do you dislike in being a game developer.

Josip: I like how rewarding it can be. It sure isn’t easy to make a game and that’s why I started with those small ones. To build strong foundations and to be able to better understand it and move on to bigger projects. 

And the better I understand it and the more I know about the technical side, the more I can enjoy the creative parts of it, so I guess after every day of work you get rewarded with new knowledge and skills, and I find it very enjoyable.

The bad part of the development would definitely be one issue in the industry in general, and that’s the crunch. I’m not talking about a month or two of crunching, but about the developers who crunch for 6 months or more.

It’s not healthy and I believe that the health of those developers should be in the first place and by organizing yourself better before getting into developing a certain project would save many from that.

It’s a huge problem and something we want to avoid and not be a part of, so that’s one of the reasons for our long preparations and organization before the project even starts. I maybe went a bit off-topic with it, but I believe it’s very important to talk about it

Jonez: And with that, thank you Josip for the interview and the answers! Thank you for answering my silly questions and talking about games and development. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Josip: Here’s a few words for the gamers out there. It is a huge compliment for us to be compared to a classic such as Broken Sword, as we saw many of you talk about it, and we are happy that you love what you see at this stage of development. It will maybe remind you of it, as we see it already do but I just want to say that we don’t want to be another Broken Sword in the end, as Broken Sword is a timeless classic and we don’t want to compete with it, nor I believe we can.

But what I believe is that we can make an enjoyable experience that will make your time worth playing it, a game on its own that we would like to play too, and that’s what we hope to achieve.

We want to make games like they used to be, or at least, make them feel like they used to be, and even though we are not the most experienced studio in the industry, we will give our best to make them worth your time, and try to be better with each one.

Thank you. 🙂

Jonez: And as a closing note, you can follow Josip’s personal projects over at his CrobbitArts Facebook page!

Ending of the article

And with that, I have to call this article a wrap. I want to thank Josip Makjanic for the interview and the material he provided for me to write this article. I’m quite hyped for this game and I can’t wait to play a demo or see more. Yes, I have quite the weak spot when it comes to well-crafted point-and-click adventure games. I love them more when there is a certain charm to it, like with this game.

This game looks to have quite some potential. Currently, we got only some screenshots and a teaser video and it’s already looking quite amazing. So, here is to Svarog Interactive, keep up the good work you guys! You can do it!

So, I’m curious. Do you think that this game is as interesting as I think? Have you noticed something I overlooked? Tell me in the comment section down below. And with that said, I want to thank 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, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Game Quicky: Mushroom Quest (Switch) ~ Push The Questing.

H2x1_NSwitchDS_MushroomQuest_image1600w.jpg

Steam store pageNintendo.com pageDrageus page

Previously, I took a look at Pixel Gladiator from Flying Island Team. Now, this developer created a second game called Mushroom Quest. Drageus Games ported this game to the Nintendo Switch and gave me a free press code to give my 100% true opinion. Now, I found some enjoyment in Pixel Gladiator but I found it too rough around the edges. Did the Flying Island Team create a better game with Mushroom Quest or did they fail in creating a good game? Let’s take a look at Mushroom Quest v1.0.0 for the Nintendo Switch.

The good

The gameplay of this game is quite simple to understand. You have to collect every gem in the level without falling into pits or trapping yourself. This game is sort of a Sokoban clone where instead that you have to move all the boxes on certain squares, you have to collect all the gems. The puzzle aspect of the levels are quite enjoyable.

 

Switch_MushroomQuest_01

The controls of this game are almost perfect. Moving your character is quite easy. You can touch the sides of the screen to move the mushroom in that direction but you can also move the joystick or the arrow buttons to move the mushroom. Now if only you didn’t had to press the button every single time you wanted to move, that would be glorious.

When I heard the menu music, I was a bit scared that we would have a Sweet Witches situation on our hands. But the music that plays during the levels thankfully matches the visual style quite well. The sound effects of this game are also quite cute. While there aren’t a lot of sound effects, the sound effects that are present do their job perfectly.

The visual presentation of this game is also well done. The game has a big charm to them that pulled me into the game. The only thing I disliked is the text that displays during a game over. The sad kitten eyes of your mushroom character with: “heey~” are just a bit too much and/or misplaced.

The level design is good. Some puzzles really made me think and try again and again. This game can be a bit addictive because it has that: “I’m going to give it just one more try”-attitude to it.

The bad

Switch_MushroomQuest_02There is no undo button. So, if you make a minor mistake, you have to restart the whole level. This is quite annoying since some levels can be pretty precise with your movements.

The store page of this game promises innovate features into the classic block moving game. And I’m sorry, I had seen almost every feature done before. And not once, more than once. Please, don’t be fooled by the marketing of this game. I found the marketing write-up of this game just a bit cringe.

Opera Snapshot_2020-01-10_202229_www.nintendo.com

I found the level select screen a chore to use. What’s wrong with putting your levels on a horizontal line? Why do they have to be on a vertical one? In addition to that, just like Pixel Gladiator, this game is lacking in basic features. Apart from deleting your save file via the Nintendo Switch menu’s, you have no way to reset the game.

There are so many different languages in the game. I found it quite ugly that the visual style was broken up by the different fonts used for certain languages. But, why so many? I mean, they could have saved a ton of time by simply creating buttons instead of buttons with text. The game has so few text, it’s a waste of time adding those features in my opinion.

Not only is the game quite short with only 30 levels, there isn’t much variety in the game. To be quite frank and honest, I didn’t get past the 15th level because I felt bored with the game. Maybe this game is more enjoyed in short play sessions but then again, I don’t think I’d finish the game.

Apart from that, I also got a bit fed up with minor imperfections of the game. Like pressing the “B” button in the level goes back to the main menu instead of the level select, the reset button works instantly during levels but it only works after the fall when you are falling… And that are just two examples.

The conclusion

I’m sorry Mushroom Quest. You have several strong points but you just missed the mark. Flying Island Team made a more enjoyable game then their previous game, but Mushroom Quest just missed the mark again.

I would recommend this game to everybody who is looking for a cheap casual puzzle game or people who enjoy small games like this one. While I honestly believe that this game would be better suited for mobile platforms, the game has been released on the Nintendo Switch and Steam.

I don’t enjoy nor like giving a game with this much potential and promise such a low score but I just think I have to. With this low score I just want to say that creating a game where some basic features aren’t present, the game really suffers as a result.

The annoying thing is that some of the missing features can be added with a patch. If the developers are working on a patch, then my wishes are more levels and more features. Also, polish up the game just a bit more that there are no more imperfections and then I think this game would be a ton better.

With that said, I have said everything about this game I wanted to say. 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.

Score: 50/100

Game Quicky: Pixel Gladiator (Switch) ~ Defend Your Base!

H2x1_NSwitchDS_PixelGladiator_image1600w.jpgSteam pageNintendo.com pageDrageus page

It’s a well-known fact that a lot of games get ported to the Nintendo Switch. Drageus Games is a studio that ports various indie and small scale games to the Nintendo Switch. Today I’m taking a look at Pixel Gladiator. The original game is called Flying Island Team. I was unable to find much more information on this team. In any case, Drageus Games provided me with a review code for this game and gave me the freedom to give my 100% true opinion. So, let’s take a look at Pixel Gladiator and feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The good

pixel gladiator 1

This game is quite easy to pick up and play. While there is no tutorial present, the game is easy enough to understand.

The audiovisual design of this game is extremely well done. Visually, the game has pretty nice pixel art and the animations are quite rich for the low price point of this game.

The music is totally my style of music. The techno and trance melodies in the game are that good that I actually want to add them to my library. I’m so glad that the soundtrack is on Steam so I can buy it and listen to it whenever I want.

The gameplay loop of this game is very enjoyable. You have to buildup your base with the earnings of the defeated enemies. You have to buildup your base to defend your core. When your core is destroyed or if you run out of health, it’s game over.

The UI is one of the better I have seen in Drageus Games their ports. The only minor complaint I have is that there is no test noise when you adjust the volume of the sound effects. But the menu’s are quite easy to navigate and work with.

There are a lot of different languages in the game. So, if you want to play this game in your native language and you speak English, Russian, Ukrainian, French, German or Spanish… Well, you are in luck.

Not every round is the same. I noticed that a lot of different enemies can spawn in the survival mode at random times. So, you can’t form a strategy for the next time you have to go through the same route. You have to guess and prepare yourself and your base.

The bad

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Even when the game has a fun gameplay loop, looks and sounds nice; that doesn’t mean that the game is good. There are some major flaws in this game.

First of all, while there is a leaderboard, there is no way to easily see your own personal high scores. To make matters even worse, it’s unclear in which sort of stage those people achieved that high score and how long ago. So, it’s a big guessing game.

Secondly, this game has no save feature as far as I can tell. Yes, you are reading this correctly. Whenever you exit the game or go to the main menu, you have to restart everything from the beginning of the game in survival mode or Arena mode.

Thirdly, the controls are decent but make some mistakes. The aiming is too sensitive for my liking and not only that… You don’t have an option to invert it or adjust the sensitivity. Oh, but it gets even worse! Jumping is done by holding the left stick up. And so, if you want to jump over the barrier on the left side… You have to hold the joystick to the upper left. If you don’t adjust the position of the joystick, guess what, you keep jumping up left. And if you made a turn with that jump, your crosshair doesn’t move with you.

The fourth issue I have with this game has to do with the randomness of the stages. While it keeps you on your toes, it does make the game unfair at certain stages. Because in some cases, you have to survive a meteor storm. In other cases, there are a ton of spring balls attacking you. It’s quite impossible to prepare and this means that a lot is based on luck.

The 5th issue with this game has to do with the difficulty scaling. This is broken beyond belief in my opinion. The difficulty wraps up so fast, it’s quite tricky to keep up with. In addition to that, not every enemy drops money. So, this makes it even trickier. Add on top of that, that there is no tutorial… and you have a recipe for disaster. I had to learn every small mechanic in the game. From not being able to heal during waves to the reactor core healing itself at the end of the wave. From being unable to do a melee attack and how to survive those meteor storms. Oh, and let’s not forget that the tougher enemies look the same as the regular enemies so you don’t know with which one you are dealing with!

Something I also missed in this game was the fact that there wasn’t some sort of radar. It would be quite helpful to see where and how many enemies were coming from the other side of the screen. This would help me to avoid various enemies that appeared a bit too quickly from off-screen to avoid.

And finally, this game has a story, but you only know that story when you either read the press material or the store description. And the story has a lot of potentials. Why was this unused?

Verdict

While this game looks great and can be enjoyable to play, the various amount of issues that this game has will appear quite quickly. The game doesn’t have any bugs and the audiovisual presentation is quite decent, I’ll give it that. But, the lack of a tutorial, balanced gameplay, floaty aiming controls, the inability to save your progress… It all adds up.

Now, do I recommend this game? Well, I don’t really know. The game can be a really fun timewaster and fun to play, but I don’t think that I can recommend this game in its current state to a lot of people.

I felt that this game has been released too quickly. Since it’s such a shame to see the potential that this game has gone to waste. Maybe this game can be improved with various patches. If the game gets a patch, I would love to see a better aiming system, tighter controls, the ability to save and a better balance in the gameplay. A tutorial and a radar can be added in a later patch.

So yeah, if you are interested in giving this game a try, by all means; go for it! But keep in mind that this game is quite rough around the edges and can get quite frustrating. Know that this review has been written after playing the Switch v1.0.0. Maybe in the future, we might see a better version and maybe the PC version plays quite differently…

You might notice the low score I give this game. Maybe this game was not my cup of tea. But I felt that the negatives of this title far outweigh the positives here. If this game ever gets an update that changes a lot about the gameplay, I might change that score. Other reviewers give this game a higher score, but I feel that the score is a bit too generous.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. 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: 40/100

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The Point-and-click puzzle Pinnacle – Jonez Edition

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Ah, point-and-click games. Amazing adventure games with amazing stories that stick with you and rarely let go. I have spent countless hours playing these games. When LaterLevels and Quietschisto from RNG approached me with a collab idea, I directly jumped on the wagon to join this adventure. In this article, I’ll talk about my favorite and most hated puzzle in point-and-click adventures. Be sure to check their website for a poll of what other people said that their favorite and least favorite puzzles where. In any case, let’s dive right into my answers since I think I have found some gems to mention.

The polls: greatest puzzleworst puzzle

Terminology

Alright, before we start talking about my favorite puzzles, I want to make sure that nobody is confused about what games I’m talking about. Otherwise, this list would be a bit too broad. Since the Point-And-Click genre is a subgenre of the adventure game genre, I think it’s a good idea to set some ground rules.

Can I use games like Virtue’s Last Reward on this list? Technically, I can. Since these games follow the rules of a point-and-click game. Now, what exactly are the rules? Well, I found that FlossManuals wrote a great explanation of it. Escape Room games are a sort of point-and-click game without a lot of character interaction.

Now, does this give me a free pass to use other visual novels like NG – Spirit Hunter or Another Code: R? That might be stretching the definition a bit too much. These are more adventure games that have a lot of point-and-click elements in them.

And what about Hidden Object games like Adera? Are these games point-and-click games? And in my opinion, yes, they are. These games are the casual version of the point-and-click genre of games with just an additional repeated mini-game.

Another great question is, do point and click games have to be 2D? The reason I’m asking that question is, the two first Broken Sword games are famous point-and-click adventure games but is the 3rd game still a point-and-click game? This brings us in a gray zone. Think about this, if you don’t consider the 3rd Broken Sword game to be a point-and-click game since it’s in 3D and uses 3D puzzles, what about Myst and Riven? These games appear on top 10 point-and-click lists all the time.

We could be here discussing this for hours upon hours. Talking about the rise and fall of the genre, but Ed Jefferson wrote an interesting piece on that for the NewsStateMan in January. Maybe that will help to give more clarity to what exactly makes a game a point-and-click game… But, I think it’s high time we start talking about my favorite and least favorite puzzles in these games, otherwise, we would be here for hours.

Most hated puzzle

Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) – Monkey Combat

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Oh dear lord, this puzzle is something I truly hate. Let me set the scene for you. Back in 2013, I almost completed Escape From Monkey Island on my PS2. I enjoyed myself quite a lot, with the funny writing and the fourth wall breaks.

While some puzzles give me some challenges, I was always able to overcome them and get to the next section of the game. But, near the ending, there is a huge puzzle that is always randomized so you are unable to find a walkthrough for it.

This puzzle is an expanded version of Rock-Paper-Scissors with monkeys called Monkey Combat. This puzzle really made me take several notes and hope that I was able to be lucky so I could fill in all the squares. Guides like the one of GameBoomers or this one were ones I tried out, but either my copy was bugged or I did something wrong… and I was never able to beat the puzzle.

To be quite honest, I stopped playing the game and deleted my save file out of frustration. Maybe now that I’m a bit more experienced with solving these types of puzzles, I might go back to the game and retry this whole section but it really put me off in trying to beat this game again just to get stuck on that part again.

Favorite puzzle

Zero Time Dilemma (3DS) – Healing Room

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The Zero Escape trilogy. One of my favorite trilogies ever made. More often than not, I find myself referring to these games when I’m reviewing adventure games.

When we are talking about my favorite puzzle, I think we should talk about the Healing Room puzzle of the 3rd game, Zero Time Dilemma.

This escape room puzzle is amazing. It quite creative and requires a lot of thought. Without spoiling the puzzle too much, I’ll explain what makes this puzzle so great.

First of all, you are playing a game where your life is on the line. When you don’t escape out of the room, something terrible might happen and you might be unable to survive. This alone makes this healing room is a strange breath of fresh air. It’s a relaxing room where the tense atmosphere goes away for a bit.

The room was actually built for that purpose. You are in a bomb shelter and to not go crazy, you can enter this healing room to relax and come back to your senses.

The second reason why this puzzle is so great is that this puzzle is just extremely fun to solve. It has various puzzles that all fit the various wallpapers you can choose for the room. The flow of the room is just amazing and once everything starts to click, you get bumped out when it’s over.

And my third and final reason is a story reason. The events that happen just before and after this room are one of the best parts of the game and just turn the whole mystery of this game on its head.

Final words

And those are my two picks for this collaboration. There are so many more puzzles I could talk about, so I think I might revisit this topic in the future. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and opinions on the chosen puzzles and your favorite and least favorite puzzle. I’m curious to hear them.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Be sure to check out LaterLevel’s website to vote for your favorites and check out other websites their pick. But, that will be it for me, for now. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Game Quicky: Island Maze (Switch) ~ Each Island Is A Maze

SQ_NSwitchDS_IslandMaze.jpgOfficial Nintendo micrositeDrageus microsite

From time to time, I enjoy trying out cheap games. Especially when I have some budget leftover and I see a game that looks interesting. That’s why I agreed to write a small review article on Island Maze for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a game Drageus Games developed themselves instead of porting the game over. So, let’s take a look at this game with the review copy that the developers provided. Now, in this review, you will find my 100% honest opinion on the game but feel free to leave your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article down below.

Positives

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This game is quite easy to grasp and has an enjoyable concept. The idea is that you get to the goal in the least amount of moves possible. The catch is that you can’t move over a colored tile without the correct gem. So, you have to think about how your dice is going to move over the field before moving.

Now, the game might seem to limit in the controls department, but you have a lot of helpful tools at your disposal. You can rotate the camera, zoom in and out and even undo moves. You can also reserve the camera’s direction when it doesn’t feel right to you to control.

This game allows you to skip levels. Whenever you are stuck on a certain level, you don’t need to play that level. When you complete 10 levels with the least amount of moves, you unlock every level.

The music is quite relaxing. It fits the atmosphere of the game amazingly well. Together with the amazing visuals, the game looks and sounds amazing. Maybe a bit more sound effects would be nice but then again, I think I would get sick of the dice rolling sound effect extremely quickly. Maybe one or two sound effects in the menus would be nice.

Negatives

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There are a few glaring issues in this game that I want to address.

The first issue is that the undo button only works for one move. So, if you noticed a mistake that you made ten moves ago, you better restart.

Secondly, there is no hint system. So, when you are stuck on a level, there is no way for you to know more. So, if you don’t understand a new mechanic right away… You will have to experiment.

For some reason, the “-” button brings up the controller connect menu of the Nintendo Switch. This serves no purpose in the game at all.

The naming of this game is a bad decision. If you Google: “Island Maze”, the results are mostly the island mazes from Breath of the Wild. If this game was a simple hobby project, I wouldn’t mind it too much. But, I think that in future the developers should pay a bit more attention to the naming in case they want to promote their game online more easily.

This game has been out for a year on Steam. Compared to the Steam version, which is a tad bit cheaper mind you, nothing has been changed. I think that after a year, the game could use some new levels and mechanics to give the game a bit more depth.

Final Thoughts – Conclusion

is_s1This is a good game, but it’s on the wrong platform. The audience for the Nintendo Switch isn’t an audience for quick and short casual games like this game. I think that the game would be better suited for mobile platforms. I felt that touch controls would work better for this game. Honestly, the game gave me that sort of vibe.

Apart from the broken undo system, I don’t see anything wrong with the game. This game is a cheap and enjoyable puzzler that can be entertaining for a rainy afternoon or when you are waiting for the doctor or when you are traveling on the bus or something of that nature.

I’m just a bit sad to see that this game is so short while the concept has a lot of promise. I enjoyed my time with this game but I wouldn’t blame people when they get bored with this game or skip it.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. 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: 3/5

Preview: Asylopole (PC) ~ Press Release

retest4 2 blanc taille ks 1024.jpgOfficial website

Today I have the honor to take a look at an adventure game, that’s still in development, called Asylopole. I wanted to write an article earlier about this game, since the developer mail me in the beginning of this month. In any case, before I give my own opinion, I first of all want to link you guys and girls to MrLiamMills his video about it! Go and check it out here. In order to talk about this game, I took at look at the DRM-free playable teaser. Because this is a teaser, I also took a look at all the material published by the developer. So, enough stalling. Here we go. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article. 

Keep in mind that the game is still subject to change, since it’s still in development. 

Postives

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The story is described by the developer himself:

The game take place in a dystopian future where it’s a daily struggle for the population just to stay sane. Under the huge dome that covers the megalopolis and all its inhabitants, you play the role of Adam Murdock, a psychiatrist working in an insane asylum, a gigantic building that supports the center of the dome.

When treating patients, you are able to access their inner most thoughts and help fight the phobias and other mental problems that exist in a virtual world that’s known as Mentalis.
Get inside your patients’ heads to find out what’s gone wrong. Experience totally new universes and fight your patients’ worst demons…

 I love adventure games and I have played my fair share of them like Broken Sword and Monkey Island to name a few. There are a lot of adventure games I have started but never finished. The reason why I choose to finish an adventure game is the story. Without a good story, I can’t find the motivation to continue.

The story that’s currently shown in the playable teaser and in the press material sounds very interesting. While at first glance, it looks like a story that has elements thrown together from popular adventure games, I honestly think this can be very epic. The basic idea for the story reminds me of an underrated shooter called DreamKiller.

It’s quite impressive that this game is created by one person. Of course, he got some help from other people, but most work is done by one person. I’m honestly always impressed when somebody designs a game from top to bottom. Many years ago, I tried to create games myself and I didn’t get any further than simple 2D-casual games. So, it’s quite impressive.

The atmosphere & soundtrack is very nice too. The animation and visual presentation fits the story and setting quite well. From what I have seen from the press materials, I honestly think that this game has the potential to pull me in when it’s finished. And not only that, the developer went out of his way to make the world a bit more alive. Things like a social network and references to the latest popular trends are all pretty nice to see.

Improvements?

rue9pnj53 US.pngSo, what do I recommend to the developer to improve or take a look at? Well, here are a few suggestions from me. Things that the developer should improve in a demo version and/or the full version.

First of all, I would honestly take a look at the UI. While it’s still in development, I haven’t seen where you would place the options menu. Or is the plan to only put that in the main menu? Just a side note, I got a crash while trying to save my game in the playable teaser.

What I would improve the most in terms of the UI is the fact that most menu sections lack “back buttons”. I know that you can press the “escape key” but those things aren’t always common knowledge. What I’m trying to say is that you should make the UI as accessible as possible. A good UI doesn’t need any explanation from a manual or an in-game tutorial. The developer is already doing a great job by using universal icons for most functions.

Also, try to implement support for screen sizes. My laptop resized the game to a screen as big as a screen on the Nintendo 3DS. I wish I was able to play in a bigger resolution.

While I know that developing a game is hard and asks a lot of time, I wish you had a bit more to do in the playable teaser. One mini-game, one inventory puzzle and/or a bit more action would have been lovely. Since now, I’m a bit bummed out. I want to play more. Since this game certainly caught my attention.

And honestly, that’s all I can say about this game. I encourage you guys and girls to support this developer. Since it’s quite clear this game is a work of passion and I see that there is a lot of potential in this game.

The foundation is already present, so dear developer, build on it. And I’m looking forward to in a more finished build to test out. And if you want, I’m willing to take a look at it and write another article about it.

Before I forget, congrats on the award man. I can say out of my own experience that getting a reward for your hard work is really motivating.

This game is one I’m going to keep an eye out for. I followed the developer on Twitter and I like I said earlier, I can’t wait to see more.

So, that is everything for this week. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks again to the developer of this game for giving me this chance to write about this game. This will be another game I’m looking forward too in 2017! I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then: take care and have a great rest of your day!

Game Music – My favorites #16: A Special One

video game illustration.jpegMore gaming music articles!

It’s time to talk about some more amazing tracks from games. Normally, I have a rule that I have to use the original music from the game. But in this article, I will also talk about some tracks that are related to games but aren’t in any game. So far example, a song with various quotes from a game. In any case, the rule that one track per game still applies. So, I hope you enjoy these tracks. And as per usual, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the tracks, games and/or your opinion on the content of this article! 

(Hardstyle) Markove – Reawaken (Quotes from Bioshock Infinite)

162247_frontBioshock Infinite review

So, around the one-minute mark of this hardstyle track… You are greeted with a quote from Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. When I heard that quote, the memories of this game came flooding back to me.

Hardstyle is one of my favorite genres. I love melodic hardstyle. And honestly, when it’s combined with quotes or references from one of my favorite game series, then it’s even better.

When you like hardstyle or music with a lot of bass; you owe it yourself to check this track out!

(Trance) SkyMarshall Arts – Monkey Island (Quotes from the Monkey Island series)

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Review of Escape from Monkey Island

First Impression of Tales From Monkey Island

SkyMarshall Arts is a DJ that makes a lot of different game-inspired music. He made songs about various games like Portal, DooM, Resident Evil and Monkey Island.

This song appeared on his “Nintendo Generation” album. On his own website, he explains the history of the album.

The song is really catchy and is quite fun to listen too. As a Monkey Island fan, it’s one of my favorite songs.

It’s a nice compilation of some great quotes from the games and the actual theme song.  Honestly, I have the impression that this could be used right at the end of a game in the series; when the credits are rolling.

(Original) Undertale – Hopes and Dreams

 header.jpgSo, I wanted to talk about Undertale for so long… So, here I go. The reason I’m not writing a review or a first impression for this game is because this game has been covered well enough.

Also, I haven’t finished the game yet. I know, shocking. But hey, it’s on my “to finish” list.

Undertale doesn’t need an introduction. It’s a very well known game. Maybe in the future, I’ll write an article about it. But for now, we have this amazing track from the game to listen to. Seriously, this track is very lively and one of my favorites in the game.

(Original) Rise Of The Tomb Raider – The Observatory

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So, recently I have finished this game called “Rise Of The Tomb Raider” on PC. I wanted to finish this game sooner but there were just so many good games coming out in early 2016.

This game was an amazing sequel to the original Tomb Raider reboot from 2013. I’m very happy that this game finally came to PC since I had a blast playing this game.

I’m going to try and not talk too much about this game since I’m planning to write a review about this game.

But seriously, I played this game with some amazing headphones and that made the music even stronger. The atmosphere that this track brings while exploring tombs and various other locations is just amazing.

During this track, I stopped exploring and just moved the camera slowly around Lara. The visuals and the world design is pretty well done in this game and is a sight to behold. Thank you, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix for this amazing adventure and the amazing music that came with it!

(Techno) Basshunter – DotA (Song about playing DotA)

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Okay, time for a disclaimer. I haven’t played DotA, nor am I playing to play DotA. But why do I bring up this song?

Well, because this track from Basshunter introduced me to electronic music which is has been my favorite genre since.

This song made my 13-year-old mind interested in electronic music and got has its hooks in my since. So, yeah this song has some strong childhood memories for me. Now, I wonder… Which game(-related) track has some strong childhood memories for you while you have never played the game it’s about? Feel free to tell me in the comments.

Wrapping up

It’s time to wrap up this article. Something became quite clear to me. When I want to talk about a game without writing a separate article about it, I write about it in this series.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this one. I’m quite curious to see which tracks you guys & girls like.

Have a great rest of your day and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article. But until then, game on!

My top 10 GBA games. (Part 2/2)

Game Boys AdvanceLink to part 1.

After a crazy busy week, I finally found time to announce my top 5 GBA titles. The comments on the first part were exactly what I hoped them to be. Popular titles that everybody puts in their top 10 will be mostly absent in my top 10. Since I go for the more obscure titles, that deserve the spotlight. Games that are good, but never get a spot in any top 10 due to some flaws. Anyways, enough talking. Let’s take a look at my top 5 GBA games. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section about your top 10, the content of this article and things like that. 

#5: Tomb Raider Legend

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I own both the PC version and the GBA version of this game. My young mind was blown when I saw how many similarities there are between the GBA version and the PC version. While the GBA version isn’t as much fun as the PC version, I did have quite a lot of fun with it.

This game gets also a special award from me, for the most easiest final boss ever. I can beat the final boss with my eyes closed, on hard difficulty. It’s just ridiculous.

One advice I should give is that the DS version is just a big mess. The GBA version is just a nice game that takes the portable Tomb Raider games to a new height. Give it a chance and remember that it’s a GBA game. Also, the final thank you in the credits is just amazing.

#4: Scooby Doo – Mystery Mayhem

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A game about a TV-show, what can go wrong.. I mean, what can go right? Well, this is a great platformer/adventure game that is totally Scooby-Doo themed. The reason why I love this game is mostly because the nostalgic value to the show. This game is thankfully no cash-in.

When I discovered that one of my favorite bands at that time actually made one of the theme songs for the show, Simple Plan, my love for the game grew even more.

While I haven’t fully beaten this game, I can’t get passed the final boss, I did see a friend beat it and I saw the ending. The final boss is brutal. That’s one of the only remakes I can give at this game in my opinion. Maybe I should replay it to review it…?

#3: Nicktoons – Battle For Volcano Island

2549Link to my review

The people who have read my review might have seen this entry coming. I truly think that this game is one of the best platformers besides Mario that the GBA has to offer. While I don’t own a copy anymore since I mostly remember this game from rentals, I still do hunt for it.

Every time when I go to a garage sale, I hope to find it. I would accept any copy, even without the box.

If you want to read more about my opinion, go check out the review.

#2: Pokémon Ruby – Sapphire.

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This game is the black sheep in the series. The 3rd generation wasn’t very well received. Which is strange to me, since the pre-orders for the remake at the end of this month are quite high.

The only complaint I have with this game is that the soundtrack has a lot of trumpets. I know that this is going to get me some hate, but Ruby and Sapphire are actually my 2nd most favorite games in the series. Most has to do with the introduction of secret bases. The next entry, Diamond and Pearl, perfected that with making it multiplayer.

I’m quite curious what the remake has in store for us. I actually have high hopes. I try to avoid reading other content to not get spoiled. Sadly enough, it already happened. The hype grew even more for me. I just wish it doesn’t let me down…

Some honorable mentions.

Okay, before I talk about the obvious number one, let’s have some honorable mentions.

  • Golden Sun: This game can’t go in my list since I haven’t beaten it. Sorry Q, it might be for another time.
  • Avatar – The Burning Earth: Such a great game to play. I enjoy it quite a lot. The password system is just amazing.
  • Crash – Mind over the mutant: If only I finished the final area before the time of the rental was over, then this game was allowed to be on my list.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Blue Rescue Team: The reason why this game didn’t make it on my list is because the DS versions already made it on the top 25 DS games list. Yeah.
  • WarioLand 4: I still have to beat WarioLand 4. I enjoyed WarioLand I and II quite a lot. I never got a hold of the 3rd game, but I got the 4th game for free.
  • Metroid Fusion: I still have to beat you.

#1: The Legend Of Zelda – Minish Cap

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Yup, my fans might have seen this entry coming from miles away. Not the GBA remake of the very popular “A Link To The Past” but the Minish Cap.

This handheld title is quite a lot of fun. There are sadly enough some flaws. The game is quite short, easy and the Kingstones aren’t so much fun in practice.

I had beaten this game while I was renting it. My honest advice is that you rent it, unless you are a Zelda fan. No, I’m joking. Play this game, since it’s one of the best adventure games the GBA has to offer.

I think that this game is more meant for the younger, newer Zelda fans. To get new players hooked to an awesome series. That’s the reason why it’s so… well, easy.

Closing words

This list was a bit tougher to put together then my DS list. The main reason is because my memories of the GBA time are fading a bit since the DS was such a huge hit with me. And back in those days I also played a lot of other games. So, my connection was less strong the with the gameboy or the DS.

In any case, I hope that some games you didn’t know got your attention. Feel free to play them, since I recommend all the games that I talked about in this top 10. And with this article, I close my GBA month. Thank you for sticking with me, and I hope to see you next week for a new article. Take care~

My top 10 GBA games. (Part 1/2)

Game Boys AdvanceIt’s time to do this month’s most difficult thing. That is deciding which games go in my top 10 favorite GBA games and which ones just miss it. In the finale of my last special month I wrote about my most favorite DS games. I think I’ll keep this at a two part article and keep it at a top ten. While  I can smell the classic and cliche top 10 already being written in the comments, please keep in mind that this is my list and I put games on here that might be here for nostalgic sake. But feel free to rage at me in the comments for not having played certain games. I know. I have a huge backlog of games I still wanted and have to play. A big rule here is that I have to finish the game or came near close to it. Anyways, let’s dive right into the last 5 entries. 

#10: Brother Bear + Lion King game pack

d4_28750_0_2Gamesin1BrotherBearTheLionKin A game of a movie that’s actually good? Actually two of them? Yes, it exists. These two titles came bundled into one game for me. I was quite skeptical since I never saw the Brother Bear movie and I was such a long time since I saw the Lion King movie.

But, both games where diverse and quite fun to play. Both games where solid and fun GBA entries. I still remember how I asked my family to stop longer in shops while shopping since then I could play my gameboy and finish a level. I was that into the game.

I think I might replay it one day, so that I can write a review of it. But you can count on me, these two games are epic!

 #9: Wolfenstein 3D

0399So, as a kid I didn’t had a lot of PC-time. When I heard rumors of this game, I couldn’t believe it at first. I wasn’t allowed to play games like this on the computer, so I had to wait until the gameboy advance game was released.

At first, it went under my radar, as in I didn’t notice it was released. But as soon as I started playing, I was hooked. This port isn’t flawless, as the controls are a bit stiff and there is a lack of a map screen. But, for me it wasn’t game breaking.

I enjoyed playing the game the whole way through. I played it on nearly every difficulty. The biggest negative to me is the lack of music. While that adds to the atmosphere in it’s own right, I felt that they should have added some music.

In any case, this game makes it on my list because of nostalgia. Not because it was a very good game, it’s a mediocre port, but I liked it.

#8: Spider-Man series

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This is the entry where I think I’ll get the most hate for. Who, in their right mind, puts a movie game on a top 10 best GBA titles list? Only somebody as crazy as me. So, why are the Spider-Man games on this list again?

Well, because I was kind of obsessed with Spider-Man after I saw the two movies. In the stories I wrote around that time, I included a character that resembled Spider-Man.

When I saw Spider-Man 3, honestly, I thought I was a good movie. I haven’t read the comics or watched the show or anything like that, so I didn’t know how much they killed the original story. But, that’s a discussion for another time.

When I started playing this game, I liked it. It was a good movie game. The two first movies got a game on the GBA as well and I got fun memories of those as well. Hrm, that reminds me, I might take a closer look at them in the future?

 #7: The Sims 2

The_Sims_2_GBA_box_artworkSo, do I really need to explain why this game is on my list? Maybe you could read my previous article, that was a review of this game, again?

In any case, after I finished writing the review, I played that game for a few hours again. Just because the nostalgia was taking me over.

I already talked about this game at length, so I don’t think I have to explain much about the game in this entry. If only the bike you get rode faster. That’s a minor nitpick I forgot to mention.

Also, here is a clue to how you can get money very easily. Recycling is a big part of it. Use it wisely and try to investigate how it works. I’m sure you will find it out!

#6: WarioWare – Mega Minigames

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So, if you look at various other top 10 GBA lists, you don’t find this game as an entry, but you find the sequel: WarioWare Twisted. The reason why I don’t put that game on here is because I only found out about that game when I researched this game after I finished it.

This game opened the door for me to the WarioWare series. I always wanted a fun collection of mini-games with an overall story-ish thingy. Since then, I started playing every WarioWare game. I haven’t played Twisted yet. Since I haven’t found a decent copy.

I have beaten this game multiple times. My favorite mini-games are those of … Damn, I forgot his name. It’s that character with the yellow helmet, who plays retro games. 9Volt, I think? Yeah, that must be him.

The end of part 1

Anyways, to avoid having a massive long article, I think I’m going to leave it here. I hope you enjoyed reading my first 5 entries of my top 10 GBA titles.

Please keep in mind that I have to have beaten the game before I consider putting the game on my list. This is also my list, so it’s quite possible that some games that you liked aren’t going to be on here. I also played what I wanted to play. So, I tried to stay away from the overly popular titles.

Anyways, enough rambling. I hope you are excited for part 2. It will arrive soon.

Update: Here it is.

Review #035: Nicktoons – Spongebob And Friends – Battle For Vulcano Island (GBA) ~ Again?

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Wait, what? I already talked about this game… True, but for the GBA month, I decided to review the GBA version of this game. The game that actually made me buy the PS2 version. I found out about this game when my local game store still had a renting system. I rented this game and I finished it after renting it three times. Surprisingly, nobody deleted my save files. Anyways, I wanted to buy myself a copy of this game, but I haven’t been able to. If somebody has a copy of this game laying around, please contact me. I would love to buy it. Since I really like it this game. But that isn’t what this article is about, isn’t it? This article is about how the game is. It’s a review. So, let’s take a look at Nicktoons – Battle For Volcano Island. How good or how bad is it? Keep in mind that I’m doing this review out of memory and the first few levels I was able to play through some alternative means. 

Different story?

image0230_1163556274So, I already too a look to the PS2 version of this game. Let me tell you, apart from some characters, the story is exactly the same. In the GBA version, there are fewer characters you can play with, but I think that is for the better in this version.

So, in this game you are summoned to free Volcano Island from an evil entity. It’s a story that will appeal to children but it will be bad in the eyes of adults. I could start bashing the game for this, but I think that would be unfair.

The game is aimed at children and people who like a nice platforming game. Those games have in most cases no real deep story or character development. Most platformers add an additional genre to have a better story.

This game is at it’s core a platformer. So, the tutorial shouldn’t take long. Don’t worry, in this game the tutorial doesn’t take long at all. The first level isn’t challenging but it’s a great way to learn the ropes of the game.

How does it play?

hqdefaultSo, you play as one of 4 Nicktoons. Each character has their own special abilities. Spongebob can go through dirt, Patrick can use his air pants to float through the air, Timmy can stretch his arms to … crazy lengths and Danny can use his ghost powers to a certain extend.

The game isn’t very long, but it’s length is quite decent. There are 4 worlds with each 4 levels. Then you have an additional final boss fight. Let me tell you, the final boss fight is a real test of your skills with this game.

Something that might have crossed your mind is that this game is easy. I urge you to think twice about that. The game isn’t as easy as you might think. That’s due to the amazing checkpoint system.

Each time you get hit, you loose a heart. Five hits, and it’s game over. Each hit sends you back to the last visited checkpoint. Each new checkpoint you visit gives you back one heart. So, if you aren’t careful, you have to redo a level over and over again.

There is some replay value in this game as well. In each level, there are several golden hearts. If you gather enough of them, you unlock a special level. But getting the golden hearts is the really tricky part. They are sometimes hidden but most of the time hidden in plain sight. The kicker is that they need pixel perfect reflexes. The golden hearts get added to your total heart count at the end. So, if you get hit, you loose your special golden heart. I promise you, it gets challenging in some places.

Each world has a theme. Well, sort of. The nice thing is that you don’t have to beat every level in order. You have a hub world where you can go and play any level you have unlocked.

The music?

Nicktoons - Battle for Volcano Island-3Some levels might have a bit of back tracking, but it’s done in such a way you don’t really notice if you don’t pay attention to it. Since in those levels you go back in a different way because you gained a new ability.

Visually, this game looks how it should. Bright and colorful. In my opinion it looks extremely nice on the gameboy screen and made me play this game to the very end. Everything has that Nickelodeon vibe over it and all the art styles of the different series mixed without something that stands out.

In terms of the animation, well, it’s quite basic. Nothing really special but it gets the job done without a problem. I don’t have any complaints there.

The music is what it is. It isn’t too memorable  but it isn’t forgettable either. I had the tunes stuck in my head for a couple of days but as soon as I played some different games, I forgot about them. Honestly, I don’t think the game has bad music. No, it’s quite decent but not good. I have that feeling that there could have been done more with the music. The same goes for the sound effects or rather the lack of variety. There aren’t a lot of sound effects in this game. So, I sometimes felt that the action wasn’t… well, action-y.

Anyways, I think I’ll leave it here for my review. I talked about what I wanted to talk about. Let’s go straight on to my conclusion. For the people who are new here, I usually never talk about a game in-depth because I want to leave some things to surprise you when you decide to play this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The music is so-so.

– Weak story, but good enough for the kids.

– The placement of the golden hearts is just brutal.

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Great level design.

+ Addictive gameplay. (You truly use all characters)

Final thoughts:

Okay, I think it’s quite clear that I like this game. I think it’s one of the best games I played on the GBA. Like my last review, this game is an overlooked game because … It looks like a kids game. There are a lot of elements in there for more veteran gamers and there are elements in there for the younger gamers.

This game is a must buy or must play if you are a big GBA fan or a big fan of platformers.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this review. I hope to see you another time on my blog. ~

Score: 80/100

Gaming Music #8 * SPECIAL *: Remixes and game related tracks.

image_1I listen to a lot of music, maybe too much. From soundtracks to hardstyle. From classic music to dance. Apart from dubstep and metal, I love all kinds of music. I’m really drawn to melodic music. I’m sorry for the fans of dubstep but most of the times, a sudden bass drop kills the melody for me. And metal, sorry guys, I’m more fond of the electronic music. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t care if my friends play music of those genres in my neighborhood, it’s just that I will never listen to it myself. Out of that love for music, I started my gaming music series. I talk about my favorite tracks in gaming and why I love them so much. Normally I have a rule for 1 track per game. But I’m allow to select multiple tracks over the other articles. This rule still be will here. The other rule that I can’t select a remix is going out of the window. Now, in this article I will talk about a few songs that are either remixes of somebody, not by the creators of the game, or a song that’s heavily game influenced. Now, feel free to leave a comment with your favorites and or the opinion on my selection. 

#1: Secret Of Monkey Island – Main Theme (Dubmood / Chiptune Remix)

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Muddy, this is one for you. MuddyMaster and myself enjoy the chiptune quite a lot. A while ago, I posted a picture of a Monkey Island game on the forums. It turns out that Muddy knows and likes the series as well.

And who doesn’t? The amazing writing, the great adventure, the sometimes self-aware characters, the brilliant puzzle design… Man, too bad that LucasArts is closed.

This nice track is often my alarm when I need to wake up. I had people make fun of me, since this track sounds like a theme song from the old consoles. Honestly, I don’t care. While I can’t find the artist of this track (feel free to let me know) I think this is a well crafted remix.

When I was playing around with Audacity, I found out that there is a small silence in the track. A trained ear will hear the gap easily. But when you are relaxing, there is a big chance you will not notice it. And now, because I mentioned it, you guys will most likely all notice it.

Anyways, this track is an awesome way to start! I hope you guys are ready to listen to some great music. Dj, next one please!

#2: S3RL – Pika Girl (Handz-Up / Dance / Tech)

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I still remember a few years ago, when I heard “Pretty Rave Girl” from this artist for the first time. The video didn’t credit the artist and most of the times, people claimed that Basshunter was the creator.

After some digging, I found out, this year that the artist is S3RL. And when I heard this track, I was instantly in love with it.

I have one minor complaint. The healing sound effect is out of place the first time. The music comes to a way to abrupt stop. While this isn’t a real remix by definition, this track is really game related.

The lyrics made excellent use of the Pokémon terminology. In addition to that, the track tries to mix the show in with the actual games. Now, that’s something I rarely see happening. Or is that just me?

#3: Castlevania – Blood Tears Remix by Lyude (Rock)

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Shame on you when you don’t know Castlevania. This game is a game that nearly every time comes to mind when I’m playing platformers. Now, let me be clear. I don’t like Mario style platformers. They are a simple as going from point A to B.

But the Castlevania (2D) games at the other hand mix amazing RPG elements into the formula. I’m not really interested in the vampire story line that much, but it’s a great setting for the gameplay.

While this remix is rather short, I often play it on a loop while writing. When I’m writing articles where I don’t listen to the soundtrack of a game I’m writing about, I have a playlist ready. And this track is pretty high up that list. The pure energy that comes off this track, it’s amazing. Give it a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

#4: Gerudo Valley (Zelda series) – Remixed by IncredFX (Electro)

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Remember how I selected the original of this track in a previous entry of this series? Well, there are a lot of dubstep remixes out there of this amazing song. Yet, this electro remix takes the cake for me. It has an amazing bassline and above all, a great build up.

While you can clearly hear the actual music in the remix, it stays true to the fact that’s it’s a remix and some nice electro melodies are mixed in to it.

I really love this track. I wish I found it earlier. Also, you can download a highly improved version in the description of the video. Believe me, it’s totally worth it.

I admit that I have been dancing a little while writing this. Dancing on this amazing tune. Yes, it’s pretty clear by now. I can’t stress enough how much I like the style of this track. I have no real negative thing to say about this track. Although, I should have gone the extra mile and looked for a better screenshot to put here. Well, it’s a track from the Zelda series and a picture from the Zelda series… I think I can get away with this.

Closing words

And I think I’m going to end my article here. I know a ton more songs I want to mention, but I think I will keep those for the next special. I hope you enjoyed this special music article. I really enjoy writing articles like these.

If you ask yourself why I keep my article at this length, well, to keep it “bite-sized”. This way I force myself as well into putting the most important info in the article.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this article and hopefully I can see you in the next one.

Game Music #5: My Favorites ~ I just felt like it. M’kay?

image_1Read more articles like this.

Apart from story and gameplay, the music is extremely important in a game for me. So, in this series I talk about my favorite musical themes I have encountered while playing. I have to have played the game and not looked at a review in order for it to appear on this list. I try my best to not have any tracks appear on the lists twice. If I slip up, feel free to leave me a comment. Anyways, enough introduction. Let’s start with the 5th entry in this series. 

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#1: Monkey Island – Main Theme

Link to the song

Monkey Island, what an epic series. I have various games of the series in my collection and I’m truly ashamed that I haven’t finished them all. While I wrote two articles about this series already in the past, I can’t get enough of it.

The writing, the story, the setting, music… It just falls into place quite nicely. And the main theme is a theme I learned recognizing thanks to hearing it over and over in my YouTube playlists.

Why did it play so much? Since the track is addicting to listen too. You truly feel like a Caribbean pirate, ready for an adventure. If only I finished the games so I can write more articles about this series.

#2: Club House Games / 42 All Time Classics (DS) – Concentration

Clubhouse_Games_coverLink to the song

Lord damn, is this a catchy tune. The title truly fists the music. Concentration. I feel rather focused on my game when this song starts playing.

But why this game? Let’s be honest here, it might be a very unknown game for some of you. And it’s a shame. This is THE best party game on DS besides Mario Party then.

And it’s extremely addictive. My sister and myself have played this game a lot when we were younger. You know, under our sheets in the hope that our parents didn’t catch us playing. Anyways, worthy for an article. Keep your eyes open for it.

#3: Divinity Dragon Commander (PC) – On The Prowl

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Buying this game just for the soundtrack was totally worth it. But the gameplay is also mind blowing. While I truly suck at the game, I love every moment of it.

This game is a whole lot of fun and has one of the best orchestral soundtracks I have ever heard in a game.

I wish I could say more about this game but since I recently got it, I can’t say much more then this. Sorry for that. Let’s move on to the next one.

#4: Pixelmon (PC – Minecraft Mod) – Distant Shores

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Link to the song

Wow, wait what? There is music in a mod for Minecraft? And it’s selected for on of my favorites? Well, yes, indeed. Pixelmon is one of the most amazing mods in Minecraft that I have seen. I’m planning either a review or a Game Quicky on it.

It’s a mod that doesn’t clutter your game with bunch of new ores but rather adds a ton of new things to do. It makes all the other Pokemon games feel linear.

So, I’m going to leave it here for this track since I’ll write a more extended article about this mod in the future.

#5: Electronic Super Joy (Steam) – Vee

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Such a shame! I haven’t added any of the tracks of this game to my favorites list. While this game has a ton of tracks that I truly enjoy. It’s mindblowing.

I talked about it in my article. I meanly wanted this game for it’s soundtrack. And this game is just epic. It made it’s level design around the music.

For more things about this game, read my first impression article. I linked to it a bit higher.

#6: Age Of Mythologies (PC) – (Fine Layers Of) Slaysenflite

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There are a few games that truly give me a nostalgic feeling like this one. Okay, that’s a clear lie. I have a ton of games which give me a big nostalgic feeling. Since I played a ton of games in my childhood. But this one is one of the biggest. I bought this game first in a garage sale.

Sadly enough, it was the single game and it was in French. All the more reason for me to work on my French. Then I bought the Gold Edition of this game and gave the French copy away to one of my friends.

Till this day, this is the only RTS that I have fully beaten. I have to say, it’s an extremely though game and it will challenge even the experienced players.

The Egyptian track is one of the tracks I might list in another one of these articles. Yeah, that rule of no 2 songs of one game in one article is stopping me now. Anyways, this game is worthy of an article. Man, so many games to write about, so little time.

Closing words

This article might be a bit shorter then usual but I just got loads of work for college. My apologies for that. There are going to be a bit less articles then usual. Like you guys and girl have noticed already, I came back to weekly articles instead of one article each 2-3 days.

Besides that, I hope you enjoyed this article. Maybe you found some new games you could play or some new tracks to add to your library. I thoroughly enjoy writing these and I wish I could have made this one a bit longer. Oh well, I have a few idea’s for number 6 already so who knows, it might happen very soon.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day.

From Manga to Video Game: Btooom!

Btooom!_manga_vol_1.jpgManga: Btooom!
Publisher: Yen Press
Mangaka: Junya Inoue
Genre: Action, Science fiction, Romance, Psychological

Concept Game: Btooom!
Genre: Third person action

This articles is being posted here for all my fellow cats, 14 hours before it appears anywhere else. I hope it is an enjoyable read. 
Many of us have played call of duty in the past and those that have not have certainly seen gameplay or heard something about this massive success in the FPS genre; it’s like Final Fantasy to the RPG genre and Btooom! to the TPA genre….. oh wait, there is no Btooom! Game, but what if there was?

What if the manga was adapted into a third person shooter style game for modern PC and consoles. Could you imagine the awesome fun it would be to play such a game? By this point if you have no idea of what I am talking about then don’t worry I will explain briefly before I delve into the meat of this article.

OK so btooom! Is a manga based on a fictional game that can easily be a game in real life. The story is about this boy that is considered a Net (basically a hardcore online gamer). He is despised by his mother who has taken a husband that the boy does not seem to be too keen on. The mother then gets information about a game, ironically a real game based on the exact game her son plays. This game is played by real people with stakes that involve life and death. The company claims to be taking trouble makers out of regular society and so the wench sends her only son with this company (yes I called her a wench, what kind of mother does what she does). He is taken without his knowledge or consent to a remote island populated by giant lizards and other individuals of a similar faith as him.

They were all chosen by a person close to them that despised them enough to submit their name to be sent to the island. The main theme of the manga is kill or be killed. To leave the island one has to collect 7 gems, 6 if you don’t count the one embedded in the individual’s hand. The hard part of this arrangement is that the only way to acquire these gems is to kill people and take it from their corpse. The main way in which they battle is via the use of various bombs, hence the name btooom! The bombs are of different types and each type has a different ability. There is the standard one that just explodes, then the ones that spread a deadly acid cloud, the ones that home in on their target and numerous others.

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The Island you go to to die.

Now that we are all caught up on the plot we can discuss what it would be like if this manga was made into a video game. Now as the game is already a third person shooter style affair in the manga then I say it should stay close to the source material in that aspect. The style I have in mind is similar to that of an uncharted 3 multiplayer style of game play. I think it would benefit from no HUD to add to the immersion.

The only way the player would be able to tell what Bim (the Bombs) they have active. They would be to look at their character whose stance will change depending on the one he/ she has active. For example the homing Bim in the manga is activated by holding it in front of the user’s eye and locking it on to a target. So for one like that the character stance would switch to one that is holds the Bim up in front of them. This I think will add a certain depth to the game that will allow vets to show their class by memorizing the different stances as well as being able to switch effortlessly between them even while in motion. In btooom the characters soon notice that they have to ability to detect moving targets by using the gems in their hands and putting out a sort of sonar style of pulse.

This is a great feature for such a game as without a HUD it will not have a map. The player will have to use their wits while using this system as by using it will give out that player’s location even if they are not moving. It will also add that trill of the stalk where some players can stay hidden not moving with a homing Bim only to pounce on passers-by. The Uncharted style gameplay would allow for a very limited almost accidental from of movement and verticality. This is very important to keeping the authenticity to the manga. Why I say this is because remember these are regular folks that are placed into a situation that they themselves are not familiar with, as such the character should handle in a sort of floaty as the match starts but as they kill more of their fellow men the controls will become tighter, deliberate.

The better players will use this system to their advantage, but this does not mean that by proper planning and execution that a new player can’t take them down. The system should be fair enough to reward all players but still punish weaknesses. As manga has access to an entire island I think the map should be just that. It can be split up into sections for some modes and open for the purist. The island in the manga has creatures on it most notable are the giant poisonous lizards. These creatures will be perfect for a multiplayer environment. They will add a certain degree of uncertainty and in some ways prevent the average camper from being just that, a camper.

Btooom has is a bit of like a survival story and because of that the characters have to use their surroundings to help them survive the hash island life they have been forced to live. In a game of the same nature it would be interest to add mechanics like a simple crafting system that can allow players to set traps as well as protect themselves. The system should be simple like that of minecraft or Dayz. In a multiplayer game the gamer does not have time to use a deep system when around the corner could be a homing or acid Bim.

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which Bim would you choose ?

The games objective should be the same as the manga’s. What this means for the player is that if they can collect 7 gems they can call in a chopper to get them off the island scoring them one point towards an upgrade or character customization items. IF they work as a team and acquire 14 or more they would reap better rewards. A player can also solo play it and kill everyone if he can and take all the bim for himself earning him more rewards along a certain tree. I think all the rewards should be on trees that reward players depending on play style. So a team oriented player would get different rewards from the solo act and so on.

I already described a few of the games mechanics I have in mind above so I’ll focus on just a few others I think would help make a proper adaptation of the manga. Swimming is one I think the game should have. It will allow the player to use the water to stalk other players or use it as a way to escape an attack like an acid Bim attack. In the manga the company does these drop offs of supplies via parachute but the quantity is always limited.

This forces the inhabitants of the island to fight for these supplies if they want to survive. In the game it can be similar to call of duty drops but they will be random and dropped in unoccupied locations on the map near players. This I believe will result in the players playing in a similar way as the characters in the manga do. Some may get to the drop first and leave it in the open as a trap to kill other players, while others may take out anyone that they meet as they approach it then take it for themselves. The outcomes are numerous and I’ll be interested in seeing how the players play the game (if it were really made).

So far I have described an online multiplayer style game and ignored a solo experience due to the fact that a game like this would benefit more from multiplayer and less from a solo experience. As someone that prefers a solo experience I more so than most would enjoy an experience I can enjoy by myself without the competitiveness of other players spoiling my story experience. If the game I have in mind were to have what my kind prefer then it would have to be a fully customizable character dropped into the world of the manga.

He/ She would have a plot line chosen by the player e.g. (A thirteen year old bully from a broken home that beats up and robs his fellow students). With a fully fleshed out back story the character is put into the plot of the manga along with the past and current characters. The player is now allowed to explore the island and choose how he wishes to tackle his/ her survival. They can choose to partner with other characters from the manga or kill them. The game play I invasion as a Dayz meets Farcry 3 type of game play or even one like fallout 3.

This is my proposal for a Btooom! The Game. What is yours?

Review #014: Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) ~ Great, in both ways.

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Wikipedia entry

Alright, alright. I know my rule is that I need to finish the game before I review it. But really, screw it! I make an exception here. I’m stuck on this godforsaken island and I need to review this game to get off. And this last bit is really pissing me off. Writing this review was a whole lot of fun. It’s a long story to tell how I got here. Yeah, it wasn’t totally a second hand game I bought because the name Monkey Island was on it and I heard a lot about it and I totally wanted to play it once. Nah, that isn’t the case at all. I got this game shoved in my hands… I suppose. Anyways, I heard of various sources that this is one of the worst entries in the series. But are they correct with that? Is this game as horrible as people say? Or is this game just a great game but not for the Monkey Island series? Well, I have played it and I can tell. It might be my first Monkey Island game but I wouldn’t mind playing more before I get off this island. Yeah, this game is actually rather good. But, it has some serious flaws I’ll address in this review. Also, I tried to keep spoilers to an absolute low. So, don’t worry about that. I avoid to spoil the ending too. Since that wouldn’t be fun right? Anyways, enough joking around. I’m not on an island. I’m sitting at my chair ready to review this game that really irritated me and really brought me hours of joy. That’s why I choose the title that it’s “good” in both ways. It’s actually pretty good but it has some flaws. Hold on, this isn’t the conclusion yet. I haven’t told anything yet about the game. Man, this adventure really did something to me. Anyways, let’s take a look at this gem of the past. Here we banana… ehrm… Ignore that please. I meant, here we go.

Let’s escape!

mi4_019To avoid spoilers like I told you in the introduction, I’ll talk about the story. It’s great. I really enjoy games that sometimes don’t take themselves serious. And this game even breaks the 4th wall here and there. There are many funny moments and various genius moments that make this games it’s writing stand out.

The story’s characters are fleshed out and you really get to know them. Although some names feel not so creative, it gets the job done. But the voice acting in this game really makes this game. The whole game is voiced and I don’t often play games like that. I truly like the work the actors have done for the characters and it adds a whole bunch of greatness to the package.

And that package is also filled with something extremely pretty. This game looks amazing for a PS2 title. Even though this game is several years old. The graphics aged pretty well and the bright and colorful playground you get to explore really makes this game a ton of fun. But that doesn’t go for one thing. The sprite of your character is too small on the overworld map. Since you are playing a PS2 game you sit a bit away from the TV. So, you really need to pay attention that you don’t loose him.

 Did I really pull out my hair?

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This game is an adventure game. It really makes you think outside the box. And the replay value is there as well. Since various things are randomized. Like names of bad guys or moves. No two puzzles are the same and no one is too hard. Since you get vague clues everywhere. Not that they hold your hand or anything since this game has no tutorial. You need to find out the controls for yourself. The inventory is a bit tricky to get used to.

But there is one part of the adventure that really breaks this game. Thanks to that I also disagree with the quote on the cover. “We need more games like this.” Well, not if there is more stuff like the monkey combat. Sigh, did that bring this game down to an all time low. Without pen, paper, trial & error, a lot of patience and a lot of time you won’t be able to beat this. Compare it to you playing a game where you don’t get the rules explained.

While writing this review, I haven’t beaten this part of the adventure yet. It really pains me to tell it since this game really is great and worth finishing. But thanks to this monkey combat… And the worst part is that when you haven’t wrote it down, you are screwed since there is nowhere in the game to bring up a list of which moves you have and which ones you have not.

Okay, let’s calm down.

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Thankfully this game has many other things to offer. The length of this game is extremely good. It’s pretty lengthy and stops on the right moment. It’s a really good fill for at least several weeks without using a walkthrough.

The music is one of the highlights of this game. Exotic and melodic, but pay careful attention! It might get stuck in your head. The sound work is also really great. The feel of the game is set and the mood just works.

Something this game really misses, is a map of the area sometimes. Not only a map of the island you are on. A map of the city. It would make finding buildings a lot easier.

The final thing we can talk about is how the game has various places to save your game. The saving is done right. And the fact that you can have four playthroughs at the same time really makes this game worth playing. Anyways, let’s get on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Great adventure gameplay.

+ Amazing voice acting.

+ Great sound & music.

+ Amazing length.

+ Random parts in the story to have some replay value.

The bad:

– The Monkey Kombat.

– The controls aren’t easy to get used to.

– A log would have been really handy.

Final thoughts:

How much is this game worth? This is hard to say. Since the monkey kombat really breaks the game. It’s such a great idea yet, it doesn’t work. It makes me want to destroy the disc rather then finish it. Well, I might have gone quickly over this game in this review but that’s just because the monkey kombat annoyed me so much. And if they would cut out that part of the game, it would have been awesome. So that’s why I can give this game only in between score. But thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time. 

Score: 70 / 100.