2015: A Look Back

ano-2015-3294.jpgWell, 2015 is nearly at an end. As usual, everybody is doing (or preparing) their best games of 2015 lists. And I think I should join in the party. What games have I played and/or finished in 2015 and will stay with me? Let’s find out. Let’s look back to my gaming year of 2015. This list isn’t in an order, so all these games are my favorites in 2015. Keep in mind that this are MY favorite games. This isn’t a TOP 10 most popular or anything. Oh, yeah… Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your favorite games or your opinion on my picks. 

Note: For this list, games didn’t had to be released in 2015. I had to play them in 2015 in order for them to count.

Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS)

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Official site

Not that far from my birthday, one of my favorite 3D Zelda games got its remake released. As a kid, I loved the rings that turned you into monsters in the Oracle games. I wished you could attack other monsters using that monsters power… but alas, that wasn’t possible in the gameboy color games.

A friend of mine had a copy on his N64. I didn’t own a console until mid-way the Wii’s life. Yeah, I played handheld games and various PC games when I was a kid. But hey, that didn’t stop me from marveling at the games on consoles.

A few weeks before this game released on the 3DS, I actually bought it on the Nintendo eShop for my Wii. But then I got my hands on the 3DS remake. It’s so beautiful. Finally I can play this game without fearing that I need to give it back to a friend later. I finally own it. And I also own the special collector’s edition which makes this Zelda fan ever more happy.

It’s a small shame to admit, but I haven’t finished this game. It’s on my “TO DO” list, but I have the same issue I had on the DS. There are just too many good games coming out and I get so easily distracted.

Europa Universalis IV (PC)

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_edited Link to my article

I always thought that these kind of games weren’t my style. I’m not that good at managing big countries and fighting wars with other countries.

But after a good friend of mine helped me and learned me the ropes of this game, I have been playing this game from time to time and spent nearly 300 hours on it.

It’s challenging and it actually broadened my horizons. This game is actually a lot of fun and the soundtrack of this game is even one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year.

Now, I need to try and play this game on single player without Mizari’s help. Then I just might loose myself in this game even more. But that’s for next year, I think.

The Etrian Odyssey series

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Link to an article about an other game in this series.

Man, I have tried to get into this series a couple of times in the past but when I was able to pick up a copy of one of the games for cheap at a garage sale, I was hooked.

The gameplay is what hooks me the most. It’s a RPG with a very nice story where you explore a dungeon. The best mechanic of it all is that you have to draw your own maps. Also, there aren’t any random encounters. Since you can somewhat predict when you get attacked.

Lately, I have been playing two games in the series. I recently got myself a copy of Etrian Mystery Dungeon. The reason for that is, I enjoy the formula of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon that much, I wanted to play a game to took a different approach on the formula.

Now, I play these games off and on. But not on the train anymore. Since I can get very lost into the world and the game that I once almost missed my stop. I should finish one of these titles so I can actually review them. But they are very lengthy. So, yeah. I haven’t come close to beating one.

The Legend Of Zelda – Triforce Heroes (3DS)

407451_nds_b.pngOfficial website

This game recently got a free update to expand this game even more. But I’m running ahead of myself.

This game actually proves that you can have a multiplayer Zelda game and enjoy yourself quite a lot.

This game doesn’t take itself quite seriously. The story is in my opinion laugh-worthy, but in the good sense. The story is there just to explain one of the main mechanics of this game. Since this is a spin-off Zelda game, I’m rather glad that the big N didn’t make a story that tried too hard.

While this game has its problems, it’s a quite enjoyable game. The game is challenging (and cruel in some places) and actually feels like a “real” Zelda game (minus the overworld) to me. The update promises to always link you up with players that have a similar playstyle. If that works, one of my biggest complaints with this game would be fixed. I’m still playing around with the updated game. So, when I have beaten the game, I will write a review on my blog. So, stay tuned for that!

Honorable mentions

I don’t want to make this article too long, so I list a few games that I enjoyed this year and don’t want to leave out.

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U), Fantasy Life (3DS), Golden Sun Dark Dawn (DS), Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC), BoomBlox (Wii), Tomb Raider IV (PC), Typoman (Wii U), NES Remix (Wii U / 3DS), The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Wii U), Terriara (PC)

And there are a lot of other games I’m leaving out.

Wrapping up

The reason I didn’t write a top 10 this year is because I didn’t want to make a the harsh decisions of which games to place where. I play and enjoy games as a hobby. But this year, I played so many games I honestly lost track of it all.

That’s why my overview of this year is quite different. Because I forgot what games I played. I had to look in my logs which games I forgot. In any case, I have been working on some fun articles for next year.

Also, I build a very strong gaming computer. So, I replayed a lot of games just to see them in higher quality and enjoy them even more.

2015 was a fun year for me to blog. I have been doing this for over five years and I look forward what my 6th year of blogging will bring, next year.

2016 will be an amazing year for games. There are a ton of games I’m looking forward to. Both on PC, Wii U and the 3DS. Yeah, I play mostly on those systems. But I’m planning to write articles about consoles games as well. In any case, I hope you enjoyed my articles this year. Thank you to all my readers and the feedback I got. I really helped me grow. But prepare yourself for a year full of new articles about old and new games since I don’t feel like stopping anytime soon.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I also hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great holiday season and take care~

Gaming Music – My Favorites #13: Not unlucky.

photo-1024x768Link to my previous music articles.

It has been a while since I wrote one of these, is it not? Well, it’s time to fix that. I wanted to do something special for the 13th article of this series, but the only thing I was able to come up with is 13 tracks. I’m sorry, but that’s a bit overkill. Anyways, for the people who don’t know this series on my blog… In these articles I talk about some game music tracks and why I think they are really good. I try to always link to a sort of extended version or at least a high quality one. I have a rule where I can’t talk about more then one track of a game (series) per article. I think I might have broken my other rule of trying to always get unique tracks. If you see me do that, feel free to point it out! That way I will try to do something unique in the next article. Anyways, enough talk! Put on your headset and get ready for some, according to me, amazing game music! (And as always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the music, games and/or your own favorite game music.)

Europa Universalis 4 (PC) ~ Battle of Lepanto

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedI think this is one of the best tracks in the entire EU IV soundtrack. It starts off kind of calm but around the 2 minute mark, that completely changes. When I close my eyes while listing to this I imagine an epic battle, where the camera slowly pans around like in those medieval war movies.

The chanting is perfect. It adds some additional flavour to the track and it makes it that more exciting to try and win your battle.

And what I adore even more about this track is that near the end, it goes to a calm-ish vibe again. Like it wants you to take a step back (or zoom out) to look how the situation is. Maybe I’m looking way too deep into this track, but it’s the vibe I actually get from this masterpiece of game music.

First Impression of this game.

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl (3DS) ~ Battlefield – Dyed in ScarletSoulFinal

If you read my previous article, then you should already know that I’m enjoying this game quite a lot. I also praised the music for being ear-candy. If I didn’t, well, then I do it now.

This is the music that plays when you fight one of the bosses. And this sounds just amazing. It really sets the mood for an epic battle. And let me tell you, the battle with that boss is tough. You won’t be able to beat it that easily. The build-up to the boss is also incredible. Making the music sound that much better.

I have to admit that once I just put my 3DS down to enjoy the music and forgot about the battle I was in for at least 5 to 7 minutes. Now, that is proof that this is good music to me.

Kirby’s Dream Land (GB) ~ Bubbly Clouds

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When I was looking through my game collection for some inspiration for this list, I found this gem of a game. I got this game as a present from my aunt. I was a bit jealous of my sister, since she got the sequel, where the copy ability was present.

But did that stop me from enjoying this game? Oh hell no. The first time I finished this game was on one of those long car rides from Belgium to Austria to have a nice relaxing walking holiday in the summer. Man, I remember bringing my gameboy into the mountain woods and play this game. Reaching this level, the 4th one if I recall correctly, and then looking around me to take in the scenery… Those are some amazing childhood memories.

SmoothMcGroove did his magic on this tune. Go listen to it right here. 

Doom (PC) ~ E1M1 At Doom’s Gate

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So, first of all… this is one for you buddy. MiseryLC, my best friend loves this game to death. And I think he has a very good point. I used to play the demo of this game over and over again.

I haven’t grown up with any oldschool console or PC games. I grew up with a Gameboy. But each time I felt like playing some old school games, since my pc couldn’t handle newer games… I kept coming back to idSoftware.

This song takes me back to those memories. But lately, it’s reminding me of the amazing friendship I have with my best friend at the moment. Also, his birthday is in the near future. Here is to more years to come man! We shall make it a wonderful day!

Editorial note: the game I actually played the most is the more fantasy based game: Heretic. Just something in that game was a bit more interesting to me then Doom. I’m not saying it’s better then Doom… Nah, in my eyes, they are equals.

 Ace Attorney – Miles Edgeworth – Investigations 2 (DS) ~ Objection 2011

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First Impression (of the fan translation)

Man, is this a great game. Finally, we get a better look into Miles and his friends’ personalities. If you thought that the first game was great, then go play the fan translated sequel.

The music is also just great. I love hearing the familiar, yet very fresh tune. One of my favorite tracks in this game is the one I selected for this article. It plays when you finally proved the lies you expose. It’s so upbeat and adds to the rewarding feeling you get.

Also, I have almost fully finished the game. So, that means I might write a full review on this game in the near future. So, stay tuned for that.

Wrapping up

So, there you have it. 5 songs added to my ever growing list of amazing game music. I hope you enjoyed listening to them. If you have suggestions, never be afraid to contact me.

I love gaming music. Quite a lot. To the point that I listen to this amazing website called RadioNintendo, every day at work and lately when I’m writing articles. Well, certain articles…. because with articles like reviews, I play the game soundtrack in the background so I can better visualize the game while writing.

But check the site out guys, the owner is quite a cool guy and the small community is starting to grow over time. It’s quite lovely to see. While the site might have a hick-up here and there, it’s some quite impressive coding.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article right here. Thanks for reading and until the next one. Until then, take care & game on.

First Impression: Tomb Raider IV – The Last Revelation

600px-Tomb_Raider_4_coverTomb Raiders.net entry

The year is 1999 – 2000. Young NekoJonez was 8 years old. I only had a gameboy and quite an old pc. It could run old dos games and such just fine but as soon as I started to play games that were released after 2001, my computer freaked out. So, I grew up with handhelds. Although, there is one game I played as a child while not being 100% allowed. I played Tomb Raider 5. A game I picked up at a local toy store for a few bucks. I heard quite a lot of rumors of an Indiana Jones style game on the PlayStation, and that they were able to take a peek when the big brother or parent played the game. So, curious Jonez is curious and when I played TR 5, I was kinda disappointed. The controls really threw me off. Years later, I get myself the Tomb Raider bundle after having so fond memories of Legend, Anniversary, Underworld and it’s latest reboot. So, the last few weeks I gave TR 4 a try… Did it change my opinion when I was a child? Let’s take a look at the game. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

Editoral note: The reason I linked to Tomb Raiders.net their informative entry of this game instead of my usual habit to link to WikiPedia or the official site is because I used their images for this article. They deserve the credit. 

Tutorial

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I choose this game since it’s one that I wasn’t able to play as a kid. When I bought two TR games, they actually messed up and put TR III on the disc where IV should be. And they put TR IV on the one which needed TR III. I still own that copy, so I might show it in a video.

TR III and TR V worked just fine. Until I tried to run TR IV. The game crashed as soon as it wanted to boot. And because I didn’t knew a lot about computers back then, I wasn’t able to fix it. Then Steam came around and offered me this bundle of all the Tomb Raider games. So, I bought it. I was surprised when I saw that my 64-bit beast of a gaming machine was able to run the game just fine.

The game opens like how I remember the other old school Tomb Raider games open. With an introduction screen with ‘new’, ‘load’,’options’ and ‘exit’. In the background you have an animation of a few levels you will encounter in the game. I adore these title screens since they give the game that much more charm.

Yet, I wasn’t pleased with the first level. Not at all. With little to no backstory, you are dropped into the tomb and you have a guide with you that explained all mechanics of the game to you. The voice acting is a bit off. There are sometimes small moments of silence between lines and the young Lara has barely any emotion put into it. (At least, that’s my opinion).

I wanted to explore the level, yet, out of the dialogue of the tutorial I felt that it wasn’t really allowed. What really made me annoyed is the fact that you don’t have a weapon in this level while there are enemies.

Tank Larabaddies1

Truth to be told, it actually let me get used to the controls. The controls that threw me off and stopped me from playing the Tomb Raider games in the past. So, this brings me to one annoying thing in this game. The menu to configure your controls. While it works fine, it doesn’t recognize azerty keyboard lay-outs. It isn’t the biggest issue though, it’s that you can barely “read” the menu. It’s quite hard to actually make out what key does what unless you take out a ruler and put it on the screen. It’s a nitpick I know, but it’s rather annoying. … Oh, I actually lied. There is an even bigger issue. You can bind one key to more then one action.

The controls are responsive yet they are outdated. Playing old games like this really proves to me how hard wired my mind is in using the controls in a game now-a-days. Yet, after you get used to it, you will be able to pull off some nice moves. Yet, there are two major issues I have with the controls… and that is how picky the game can be of your location to be able to pick up an item or pull a lever. The second issue I have is how awkward the controls are for swinging on a rope. At least to me. Maybe I’m too used to the control scheme Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine used.

 Gameplay

scenery1I think it would be unfair to judge the game on graphics and animation, in a way. They are quite outdated and on modern systems they then to glitch out a bit. Yet, I don’t think it’s an issue. The presentation brings an amazing atmosphere. It really feels you are exploring a tomb.

After the tutorial level, there is little to no explanation on what to do. Thankfully, after you solved a puzzle, a small cutscene plays showing you the general direction you need to go in.

It actually blows my mind how well designed this game is. You can explore around and find hidden areas and I rarely got the feeling of being lost. While I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about in this article, I wanted to mention the lack of an ingame map… Actually, it isn’t an issue. Since it helps to build the feeling that you are exploring a location nobody has visited for quite some time.

So, let’s talk about the music. This is actually difficult for me since I feel that the soundtrack of later games are better then the old soundtracks. Before you write angry comments trying to explain to me what is wrong with my opinion here, let me explain. What I mean is that the more action packed soundtrack fits the atmosphere more then the more calm, bit creepy soundtrack of the old school games.

Actually, I like the soundtrack of this game. From what I have heard, it adds to the creepy atmosphere you would get when you are really exploring tombs. It fits more to the style of the old school Tomb Raider games.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article for now. I know that I talked a bit too much about the controls in this game. If you didn’t get the clue, I’m quite enjoying this game. If I finish it, I’ll surely write a review article about it. I wanted to focus in this article more on the issues I have now-a-days with the controls and why they actually made me stop playing Tomb Raider as a kid. I think I should return on that topic.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I wish you an amazing day and I hope to meet you another time. Take care, NekoJonez.

First Impression: Europa Universalis IV (PC ~ Steam) – Thank you Mizari.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedLink to the official website

For the people who read my blog often, they might know that one of my best friends is Mizari. I often call him MiseryLC or anything among those lines. One of his favorite games is Europe Universalis IV. Recently I decided to give it a try with him myself. The gameplay and the genre looked interesting to me, so I bought it while it was on sale. After playing almost 40 hours in about a week or so, I think it’s safe to say that I’m having quite a lot of fun! So, shall we take a look at this game and what first impressions it left on me? The issue is, in order to write a review for a game, I have to beat it. While you can “beat” this game, you can restart it with and play it in another way. So, I think I’ll write a review after I played around 150+ hours of this game. So, that said, it’s time to start talking about this game, and as usual, feel free to leave a comment on the game and or the content of this article. 

Age of Empires?

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When it comes to games where you need to build your own empire(s), I prefer the gameplay of Age of Empires and Age of Mythology. So, when I first started to play this game, I was quite confused. I might have looked over the tutorial but I haven’t seen one. Thankfully, Mizari is showing me the ropes. It’s quite handy to have a friend to play this game with.

When you start to get the hang of the game, it gets quite interesting. There isn’t any story in the game as far as I have noticed, since it’s one that you can make yourself. In our multiplayer sessions I play as Russia and he plays as the Ottomans. I don’t think that the Russians and the Ottomans ever formed a friendship.

 Numbers game.

2015-03-08_00001At first, I thought that most of this game would be a number game where higher stats would mean a better country. Let me tell you that it isn’t the case. Your goal is not only to manage a country but also you need to manage the relationships with other countries and such. When you don’t improve it at frequent intervals, you could get into trouble.

In my early multiplayer sessions, I regularly got attacked by other countries. I wasn’t that careful in managing my military points so I got attacked. But when countries that were afraid of MiseryLC’s empire also started attacking me, all I had to do was improve the relationship with his country and the attacks stopped. This makes it more then just a numbers game. It gives a realistic vibe to the game where time is just indicated by numbers.

The big issue is, that when you are just a beginning player there is way too much to play with. I found the tutorial when I wrote this part of the article, and only seeing three lessons, made me facepalm. The depth of this game, you can’t really explain that in three sessions. Well, you could but you might risk that you overflow the new player with too much information at once.

If you want to start playing this game, I highly recommend that you first play the game with a sort of guide. Don’t play in IronMan mode, since you can’t “roll back” choices. Speaking about that, there is one thing that is disappointing to me. You can only unlock achievements in IronMan mode. I think it would be better otherwise. I might be looking over a logical reason for why it’s ‘Ironman only’… but I hope that isn’t the case.

Nitpicking

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This game updates a lot, which can be annoying sometimes. During my play sessions I had a few nitpicks. Recently, MiseryLC and I started a new game where we would play content from the quite recently released DLC “El Diablo”. It’s kind of neat that somebody who doesn’t own the DLC is able to play the game and it’s content then as well. But you play with a very unstable game then. My game crashed 3-4 times in 20-ish minutes.

I was able to fix it by buying the DLC myself and then play with him. While there is a lot of DLC for this game, various ones are simply cosmetic. Now that I think of it, a handful are just music packs.

Talking about that, the music for this game is outstanding. In my previous (music) article I actually talked about a track that I really liked. But often, I had moments where my country was in war and relaxing music was playing. This actually took me out of the experience. But a neat kind of hidden feature is that when you hover over the date, the title of the song actually is shown.

So, this game is amazingly polished and I already lost various hours to it. I plan to play it for even more and probably write a more in-depth review of game. But there is so much to cover, the length of my usual “first impression” articles don’t quite cut it.

Apart from some irritating bugs, that sometimes get patched a few hours after they have been found, and some odd things here and there… The game is quite fun. Also, the search option to look for provinces is such a god send. Without it, I would had more rebels in my country then there are M&M’s in a M&M bag.

Anyways, I think I have said most of the things I wanted to talk about this game. I hope you enjoyed my first look at this game and if you are interested in the game, I advise you to not buy it with the DLC included. Since those can add some new gameplay layers that might make the already quite overwhelming game even more overwhelming. But once you get used to how the game plays, the hours can fly by really quickly. Just giving you that warning.

My Favorite Game Music #12: Just more plain awesomeness.

photo-1024x768It’s time to write a new article about my favorite music in the magical land of video games. Did I ever mention that I’m not that good in introductions? The big issue is that it’s the first impression somebody gets from you and it mostly decides if people want to read your content or not. But somehow, you guys keep reading my content. 🙂 To all new people who started reading my stuff, welcome. Let me explain the rules I use in this series. One song per game series in each article! Otherwise I would flood these articles with Pokemon and Zelda songs. Also, only original songs, no remixes. If I want to talk about remixes, I mention it in the start of the article. Anyways, that are the rules, time to get blasting! Feel free to leave a comment about the music, games and or the content of this article. 

Shantae And The Pirate Curse (3DS) ~ Scuttle Town

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Blah, blah, blah. Oh wait, this isn’t my draft anymore. I teased this article with filler text. In any case, let’s talk about the track now. This track is the motivation why I wanted to write a new gaming music article. It’s that catchy.

As a young kid, I heard of Shantae. I played the start quite a few times but I always got distracted by other games. Now I bought the new game on the 3DS eShop and I’m not regretting it. It’s in a “Metriodvania”-ish style of game and those games I can get totally absorbed in. Seriously, start to listen to this track and try to tell me that you don’t get excited for an adventure. I dare you.

Mario and Luigi – Dream Team (3DS) ~ Breezy Mushrise Park

250px-Box_NA_-_Mario_&_Luigi_Dream_TeamI’m writing a first impression article on this game, so my opinion on it shall be for then. But something I will already spoil is that I think that the soundtrack is one of the best and catchy I heard in a Mario game for quite a while.

I even have another tune ready for when I write a new Game Music article in the future. Yeah.

The whole soundtrack of this game puts so much additional feeling in this game that I start to love it even more. When you are looking for a Mario game that has an amazing soundtrack, you have to check this one out!

Kirby’s Triple Deluxe (3DS) ~ Dedede’s Royal Payback

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 I can’t put my finger on it but I’m quite sure that this track is a remixed track of an older Kirby song. Before anyone starts to shout that I broke my own rules, don’t worry since this song actually plays in Kirby’s Triple Deluxe.

What a tune this is. It’s quite upbeat techno/dance music that every DJ should play at a gaming music party. It is a very dance-able tune and I just love to listen to it. The soundtrack of this game is one of many that I listen too but I’m always glad if this song starts.

It makes me happy and I remember the fun times I had with the game. Oh and Kirby, thank you for making me miss my stop on the train one time. I was too addicted to your gameplay.

Europa Universalis IV (Steam) ~ Ride Forth Victoriously

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_edited

Quite recently I started playing with MiseryLC, Europe Universalis. And I enjoy it quite a lot. While I’m not good at it, I love managing a country and growing. I’m truly bad at managing my army, and sorry MiseryLC… I’m truly doing my utter best.

But this game has an amazing soundtrack with this track being one of my utter favorites. Just listen to it and you will feel like an army general that is going to war in order to conquer a nation. If that’s not the case, I think we can agree that this track is very fitted for a war or some sort of epic moment.

I’m actually planning to write a longer article about this game, my first impression. Since this game has actually no real end, I think I’ll write a review of it after I played long enough so that I have seen most random events and most common scenario’s.

Anyways, enough talking about this track, it’s amazing and I look forward to playing more of this game!

Shovel Knight (Steam) ~ Strike the Earth! Plains of Passage.

shovel-knight

Such a shame that as retro / niche game blogger I never talked about Shovel Knight. It’s an amazing game that brings the old retro game goodness back to this age.

The main theme is actually one of my favorite songs in the game. While I haven’t gotten far into this game (I defeated only 3 bosses), I have a certain love for this game.

This game is mostly pulling me in with the great soundtrack. The energy and the similarities to chiptune and old school 16 music are just striking! The music of this game is even great to listen to without playing the game.

Final thoughts

Alright, I told you about 5 new pieces of music that were added to my favorites rather recently. I actually released that I have written 12 of these and that I talked about a lot of music already. This leads me to one logical conclusion! That one of my favorite music genres is game music.

They just set the mood to play the game, they draw you into the world and make it harder to put the game down. In this article I talked about the soundtracks that captured my heart in 2015. A year that is flying by for me. I can barely believe it’s March already. I’m having so much fun at work and with my blog it’s almost unheard of.

Anyways, I have some great articles in the works for you guys and I’m sure that I’ll be able to publish them soon. If you have ideas of suggestions of topics I should talk about, feel free to comment or write me a mail. In any case, it’s time to finish this article. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this one. Until the next one! Take care~