Ukiyo-E Heroes – Documentary Premiere

Let’s talk about something very different this week. Tomorrow, on the 2nd of May, a documentary called Ukiyo-E Heroes goes in premiere at the Hot Docs movie festival in Toronto (buy tickets). Wow, wait NekoJonez, why are we talking about this on a gaming blog? Well, the reason for that is simple. The documentary is about somebody who crafts traditional Japanese woodcuts with a lot of Mario/Pokémon and various other pop-culture references.

What’s the documentary about?

A journey of discovery into how a Canadian craftsman and an American designer with a father and son generation gap who collaborate to revive the ancient Japanese woodcut (Ukiyo-e) using pop-culture icons: Super Mario and Pokémon. 

Here is the team that made the documentary.

A Rivertime Entertainment Production

Director: Toru Tokikawa
Writers: Min Hye Kim, Toru Tokikawa
Producers: Toru Tokikawa, Yu-Fai Suen
Composer: Alan Braxe
Music Supervisor: Alexandre Escolier
Sound Mixer: Danielle Adams
Advisor: Ben Elliott

Follow this documentary

You can find a trailer on their Facebook page and you can follow them on Twitter and even more information can be found on their website. Well, the website of the production company that made the documentary called Rivertime Inc.

This is worth it!

I have watched every teaser and trailer they have put out on their Facebook page, and believe me, this documentary is going on my “to watch” list. I’m very interested in Japanese culture myself. My life long dream is actually going on a trip to Japan.

Since childhood, I have been fan of various Japanese game studios like Sony, Square, Capcom and various others. My favorite is Nintendo.

But, I’m getting off track here. From what I have seen, the documentary is filmed very good. There is a lot of imagery to see how everything came to be. Also, the documentary is filmed at various locations. I love when documentaries do this. That way we get a better view into the subject that the documentary is presenting. If you want to judge for yourself, go and take a look at the social media and the website I linked earlier.

Currently, the studio is working to get this documentary distributed in Europe. So, if you are a distributor in Europe and you are interested in this movie, feel free to get into contact with Rivertime Inc, since if you help to get this documentary into Europe and/or Belgium, I’ll be a customer!

So, if you are in Toronto this week, go to the Hot Docs festival and give this documentary a watch. They are also in the running for an audience award! And they deserve it, in my opinion.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this documentary, I want to thank Rivertime Entertainment for mail me about this. Otherwise I would have slipped under my radar and it would be a shame, since I’m quite interested in seeing the documentary myself.

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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Strangely Fun.

Fantasy_Life_box_artNintendo.com entry

I was very surprised that Level5 published a game like this. While I was silently hoping to a sequel of Professor Layton, or a spin-off, they published a game with similar graphical vibe. But don’t let it fool you, the fantasy and the life is quite different in this game. After playing 3-ish hours of it, it’s time to write an article about it since I’m quite enjoying myself. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Graphically Layton?

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Maybe it’s only me, but this game gave me a Professor Layton feeling. At least, on the surface. Possibly the used some assets from the Layton game. But hey, let’s not think about the biggest series this developer created, in this article we are talking about Fantasy Life.

This game must have been a nightmare to develop. Since all the different classes play differently. I’m quite curious if the overall story stays the same in the different classes. Also, the fact that you can change your class in mid game, is just mind-blowing and quite a risky move of Level5. I hope the game stays challenging and doesn’t make the mistake that The Legend Of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds made. That game was also more free then other games, yet the difficulty curve was off.

While the story has some plottwists, I was able to see some coming. But I’m quite sure that to a child or a casual gamer, the plottwists might come more as a surprise. Overall, the writing is excellent. The characters can be a tad bit generic in some cases, but they are written so well that I had a few moments that made me smile, not only as a critic but also as a writer.

Quests

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I was on the fence for buying this game. I actually had it pre-ordered but cancelled my pre-order since I lost interest in the game. But now that I gave it a chance, I was quite surprised. The gameplay is nothing what I expected. If you aren’t doing a story quest, you can roam around freely and solve people’s daily needs.

The quest system, while quite fun, isn’t 100% perfect. Sometimes quite important information isn’t in the quest log, the quest log is out of order and you can’t have a map where all the accepted quests are located. The quest logging could have been done better in my opinion. While I’m beating it, I’ll surely try out all features of the quest log. Maybe I’m overlooking some things and bashing it, while it’s not needed at all.

You have three sorts of quests. Each give you a different reward. From dosh (currency) to stars (allow you to grow in your class) and bliss (expand the game.). The different quests yield so many different yet satisfying rewards that I explore the world in quite more depth then I usually would. Then my coin dropped. (Dutch expression for releasing something.) This was totally the designers intention to help you explore the world. It’s quite deep honestly. Apart from some aspects that is.

At the moment of writing, I’m in the magic class. They actually passed on a great oppertunity for the magic combat. When you use fire attacks on forest mobs, they don’t increase the damage. Also, your mana replenishes so slow, it’s painful. And the quite expensive potions only give you 10 mana back. Yup, only 10 mana. And the free water bottles you pick up, give 5. That’s so not enough!

So, the magician is long ranged combat. What I love about this game is that the target system works so nicely. I can easily circle around my enemy while trying to defeat it. If only there was an easier way to switch weapons. It would have been less of a pain when I would have been able to quickly switch to my dagger if my mana ran out.

Gamesystems

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In the last section of this article, I want to talk about the overall game. I can’t judge on the box and such, since I own this game thanks to the eShop.

The game controls quite fine. While I sometimes have the impression that they switched some buttons around from similar games, I can easily adjust.

Graphically, this game is just amazing. This game gave my impressions of Professor Layton, while it’s really nothing similar. The look, the animation, color pallet and level design is just really well done. Maybe they should have planned out the shops a bit better. Like the furniture shop closer to the wallpaper and flooring shop. Also, why can’t I sell furniture?  I bought by accident two items when I needed one. -sigh-

Something I would have done differently is the icons on the touch screen. They take up quite a bit of space on the map. While it’s not a big deal, I honestly don’t like various icons on my map. I would have made a bar at the bottom of the touch screen with the buttons on it. That would have been way easier to organize. Speaking about the map mode, it’s quite handy. I can safely say that it helped me out of some tricky situations. It’s clear and you can’t get lost thanks to it. If only you were able to have an overview map. Since if you tap on the map button, you get an overview of the map of the whole game. Thankfully there are buttons to quick travel.

Anyways, I’m nearing my usual article limit. So, it’s time to wrap this article up. I still have quite a lot to talk about, but I will keep that for my review if I beat this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I can honestly recommend this game to you. Also, feel free to drop by on a later date! I try to publish an article each week. So, maybe until next week.

Review #008: Corpse Party (PSP) review ~ The school of doom.

Corpse Party (USA)

The site of this game.

First Impressions article

Warning for gamers & parents: This game is for 16 year and older. This game contains a lot of gore, blood and foul language. This game can be extremely creepy. For those who are easily afraid, play with caution. 

I started to play several XSeed games before, and I didn’t realize things about this game since I started reviewing it. While researching this game, I learned that this game is a port of a Japanese PC-98 game made by one person. He won a competition with that, nearly 5 million yen. The game is then ported to the PSP year later. These are signs of an extremely good game. But, is it? Or is this game an experiment of that Japanese developer to check if the game is ready for western releases? It’s obvious from my first impression article that I liked this game an awful lot. Now that I finished the main story line, it’s time to give this a proper and full review. Is this game truly worth the praise I gave it? Or is the game now going to fall flat on it’s face? Let’s dive into Corpse Party. 

The ritual

corpse_party_3It has been quite some time since I got scared from a video game. Horror games are usually a no-go for me. It contains jump-scares and cheap tricks for scaring you. Games like 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward are major exceptions on that rule.

But I wanted to change that one night and I booted up this game, just before I went to sleep and I started to play this game with earphones in. And I am glad that I did. Like I said in previous articles, I love myself a good story. And this story really drew me in.

The game is also based on a manga. And I now want to read the manga, to see how good the recreated it. If the manga or the game was first, it isn’t clear to me, I can’t tell.

But this story made me gasp, be silent and got all my attention. The pacing is just perfect. The game is creepy. Very creepy, but it doesn’t overdo the creepiness at any point. The game is creepy if you read the text. The point here is that the writing is extremely well done.

What adds to the game is the voice-acting. The voice acting is where I think this game shines. The Japanese voices really add to the story and make you feel the emotion that they tried to show. Also, the sound of the voices matches the characters displayed on the screen quite well and I didn’t have any character where I would use another voice.

So, the story is extremely well done. And it really gets thrilling. Plot twists are around every corner. Sadly enough, it’s obvious sometimes what the fate of some characters will be but how slow or how fast it goes down really makes the game unpredictable.

Uniqueness

6289325919_6407efd37c_zThe gameplay caught me off guard. I’m quite surprised how many visual novel games have such unique gameplay.

Your goal is to escape a cursed school and find your classmates and teacher. But, at that cursed school something extremely terrible happened. And something is there to stop your progress. That’s all I can tell you without spoiling the story too much.

The game has 5 chapters. The length of each chapter continues to grow larger. With the amazing finale with over a 2 hour playtime if you don’t get stuck anywhere.

There is a twist. The game has multiple endings each chapter. And these can be triggered by one wrong move. This makes the game difficult to play. This game won’t hold your hand and you fell a sense of reward if you finish a chapter. There are points that give you hints but overall, it will be all up to you.

There is one major flaw with the gameplay though. The save system. I didn’t like it one bit. You can save by using candles placed all over the map. But some are so far out that when you get a wrong end, you get frustrated. Also, you can save your system data, which means you save the tags you found and the game also saves that you achieved a certain wrong ending. Which can get confusing. There is also a save feature that you can only use once. If you load that save file, the save deletes itself after loading. This isn’t such a great feature. For a good save file system, Virtue’s Last Reward got it right.

I’m here.

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The music and sound are extremely well done. The music does what’s supposed to do. For some players, it can feel a bit out of place but for me, it actually worked. I really gave me that Virtue’s Last Reward vibe and really got me hooked. If I can buy the album somewhere, I certainly will.

Although, on very rare occasions you can make the music glitch out and not play. And some parts don’t have music. But this is so nitpicky.

The soundeffects, something I always am very strict about, well made me zip my review mouth. Really, they are good. Everything sounds like it’s supposed to sound and it doesn’t have any sound effects too much or too little. They got it right with this game.

Graphically, this game looks dated. And is this a bad thing? Not at all. If you compare it with how it was in the PC-98 version the game got quite a big improvement in the graphics. But I love how they didn’t make the graphics become “too new”. It still has that feel of the original games without being too “ugly” for the graphic lovers. The characters look nice and the location of the game is lovely. But, there is one flaw in the graphic department.

The animation isn’t all that great. Lines where bridges need to come, walking in less then 5 frames, some characters seem to slide over the scene instead of walk. It feels extremely basic. It doesn’t take you out of the experience but it really brings the game down in my opinion. It’s a big missed opportunity.

Before I forget, this game also got the amount of gameplay and story quite right. There are parts where you need to go through large chunks of text, but you get a lengthy part to play too.

There are also 10 additional chapters. I think you can unlock them by getting the wrong ends or collecting certain tags. I haven’t played these yet, but it surely adds to the replay value.

And that’s about all I can say about this game, let’s go on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Bad-ass story.

+ Memorable characters, setting, story…

+ Graphics feel rightfully old school.

+ The music is one of the best I have heard in a while.

+ Soundeffects are well done.

+ The voice acting really adds to the game.

+ Lengthy game.

+ It will truly challenge your skills.

+ Different endings.

The bad:

– Save feature.

– Animations aren’t polished.

– The rare music issues and silent area’s.

Conclusion:

I barely score games a full 100. And this game got close. The game is really well made and got me into gaming once more. I was slowly growing out of gaming and wanting to review and write again. Yet, this game made me change my mind.

The story is unique, doesn’t exploit the usual cliches and takes twists and turns without getting too complex. The music is great and the voice acting adds to the game. I can’t repeat it enough.

If you play this game in the dark or not, it’s up to you. But pay attention, it will draw you in and hold you there for as long as you can play the game.

Apart from the major flaw of the animation and the bad save features, this game feels flawless. Leave in the comments what you think of this game.

Score: 95 / 100

Simple Android games you should try out.

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I’m a big fan of the Android Market. I often find myself playing games I find on there. While waiting for the bus the other day, I played a few games on my tablet. The following games are games I won’t have enough to write about for a full review but games you should check out. But before we do that, I have a few questions where you guys can have some input on. First of all, it’s most likely possible that I’ll find more then the games I’m going to mention here. So this will maybe turn into a series. Which name should I give it? Does NekoJonez plays Android sound okay? Anyways, I’m also going to link these apps here so you can easily download them when you are reading my blog from your tablet or mobile phone. In addition to that, give me some feedback on the format I write for each game. If you want to know more about the game or things like that. Oh, my goal is that all games are 100% free too. Some might have in-game things you can buy or ads. Welp, lengthy intro is lengthy. Let’s dive in. 

2 Player Reactor

(This app contains adds)

2_player_reactor_for_android-474583-1318928025I’ll start the list of this article like the extremely bad NES game Action52 did, with the game that requires two players to enjoy.

In this simple game you have to be quick and precise. Your challenge will be always above your square, as well as your score.

You have to do simple tasks. Like guess the capital or check if the squares match each other.

When you tap on the correct moment, you’ll earn a point. When you tap on the wrong moment, you’ll loose a point. Self-explanatory. But there will be fun reactions, some you won’t expect.

You can go in minus, like you see in this screenshot.

This game has been translated in various languages, so you can enjoy this game in your native language. I played this game with my sister often in Dutch, since we Dutch people our brains don’t work in English THAT fast.

With various options and settings, you can leave modes out. Who has the most points at the end wins. There is also a “pro” version that supports 4 players.

I have one minor complaint with this game, and that’s on smaller screens, the text isn’t broken up to fit the screen.

Score: 4 / 5

Line Puzzle

unnamedAs simple as this game looks, as simple as you’ll get it. Made by DevSquare, this game has some amusing music.

In this game, your goal is that you have dots connect to other dots. The numbers represent how many dots you can use from that given square.

There are many puzzles, and some can get very big.

There is a “daily puzzle” which reminds me from the Professor Layton downloadable puzzles.

With the points you earn, you can buy hints, helpful for when you are stuck.

Some bad points are:

– The bad English translation. The option menu is a great example.

– They use the technical terms for music (BGM) and sound (SFX).

Score: 4 / 5

Card Game

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(This game contains Japanese)

To finish off this article, I would like to talk about another free game released by the guys of Beasty Bay.

In this game, your goal is to put the same number on your main card OR one of the same kind.

You have 3 “jokers”. The mascotte is a wild card, the monkey’ll change ALL cards that you can’t use and the lady’ll show you the card up next.

You can bet, with virtual coins. The more you bet, the more you can win. You need to have a chain of at least 17 cards to play a mini-game and earn your coins back.

You can choose to skip the mini-game and get your coins back or play the mini-game and win the double amount, or more, of coins back.

You can’t go broke in this game because when all your coins are up, you restart with a fresh 50 coins.

Each match is random.

This game might be in a Japanese interface, but it’s easy to find your way. After playing it for a little while, you can get easily the hang of it and enjoy playing.

The music is adorable too, like the graphics.

Score: 4,5 / 5 (A 5 if it was English)

Closure

So, that are 3 games that are free that I recommend. I will scout the market and come next article with more games. Also leave great recommendations here in the comments.

I hope you enjoy yourselves with these games and that you find some new studio’s or developers you can follow on the Android market. Have fun and I see you next blog entry.