First Impression: Jake Hunter – Detective Story: Ghost Of The Dusk (3DS) ~ Norse Wolves

jake hunterWikipedia pageNintendo.com page

I can’t hide the fact that I love adventure games that take you on a story that takes a lot of twists and turns. The Nintendo DS and 3DS introduced me to many series like Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, Zero Escape, Trace Memory and many others. So, it seems fitting that one of the latest games I add to my 3DS collection is one that fits my favorite genre perfectly. It’s the second Jake Hunter game released in the west. So, is it any good or should this series stay in Japan? Let’s find out if this game meets my high bars while I give you my honest spoiler free opinion while I invite you to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

Norse Wolves

Jake1In this game you play as Jake Hunter, a private detective who is enjoying his drink at the bar while a strange man starts talking to him. One of the coworkers of this strange man dared the strange man to go inside an abounded house in the middle of the night. There are a lot of tales about this house and they all have a pattern. The house is cursed and everybody who enters and/or lives in the house is going to die in an accident. 

Jake doesn’t waste time and investigates the house and indeed finds a dead body of a homeless man. When you discover that the homeless man has been murdered and when you meet the owner of the house who lives in a small shack at the back of the giant house/mansion, a chain of events is started that takes Jake Hunter on an adventure with everything you would want in a detective story.  

In terms of the game delivering on my high expectations in terms of story and pacing, the game fully delivers. The only shame is that you miss some backstory and interactions with the characters which isn’t referenced too much. It’s like starting to watch a police series from the 3rd or 4th season in. But apart from that minor complaint, the story is still good enough to take you in it’s world and take you along on the adventure. 

I do have to mention that so far I have only spent my time with the main case on offer. In total, there are 6 cases in this game. In order to not spoil myself, I have decided to play these cases in order. So far, I’m still in the first case which has the same title as the game. 

This game also has voice acting, there are short Japanese lines spoken to breathe a bit more life into the characters but don’t expect them to be fully voice acted. Most of the dialogue is written out in text boxes. And about them, I do have some complaints. 

The first complaint is the fact that the color used for some characters matches the color for Jake thinking or preforming actions. I find this rather confusing and I think that it would have been better if another color had been used or another font or even put it in cursive. 

The second complaint is that the game asks you to remember who has which dialogue color. So, if you have forgotten that the green text is for another officer, well too bad… The game doesn’t tell you who is talking. 

While I do have two complaints about the dialogue system, I got used to it quite quickly. I kept these two issues in the back of my mind while I was playing the game. Overall, they didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the game too much but I was so glad that I could use the up and down arrows to move through a short history of the dialogues to check out where I went wrong. 

Handholding Police Work

Jake2

So, the story and pacing lives up to my high bar of expectations. But does the rest of the game live up to my expectations? Well, let’s talk about that. 

In terms of gameplay, you can compare this game most to the Ace Attorney series. You interview people and go to various locations to investigate and gather evidence to find the culprit. 

Now, unlike Ace Attorney, this game can be extremely handholdy. What I mean with that is that it’s almost unlikely that you leave a scene without finding all the evidence and/or talking to everybody. This take a lot away from the challenge in my opinion. So, if you are looking for a challenging game, I think that this game might not be the right one for you. 

It isn’t a cake walk either. Since some parts of the investigations require some pixel hunting. So, if you are stuck in a search, take a good look at everything. If the joystick is too sensitive, use the D-Pad for more accuracy. If only spots you haven’t investigated sparkled or gave some sort of identification, this would have helped so much.  

There are some cutscenes in this game, most of them are used to set up the start and/or end of a chapter. I’ll talk more about the scenes when I’m going to talk about the visuals of this game. But there is a thing I want to mention before that. The save system. 

This game doesn’t have any feature to speed up and/or skip these cutscenes to my knowledge. And why is this important? Well, because you only have three save slots. Yes, three save slots. For all the 6 cases. Man, I wish I had three save slots per case or one per case. Oh well, this isn’t too big of a deal since this game is quite linear so you can at least save for 3 different cases without loosing your progress in one. 

Which is a good thing since it’s quite tricky to find your latest save. Thankfully, it tells you how far you got into the case before you load the save file. But that information would have been way more useful on the box of the save file itself. 

Apart from that, I don’t have any other UI complaints. So let’s return to talk about the gameplay. The core gameplay consists mainly out of two parts. Talking and investigations. Let’s start with the talking one first. 

I could start explaining how every mechanic works in detail but that would make this article quite long. So, take it from me that you learn how to use the UI quite fast due to the excellent tutorial chapter. Now, about the first core mechanic, the talking. Of course, you have your normal conversations where you either share information with other characters or just gather information. In itself, this isn’t the difficult part. The “difficult” part is the interrogation of some characters or the “Talk Profile”. 

When you are doing the “Talk Profile” of somebody, you have to choose the right angle of attack to get the information out of somebody. It’s a bit like the cross examination in the Ace Attorney series without the penalty part. If you get it wrong, you can try over again without seeing a game over screen once. The same mechanic is applied when you are deducing something or thinking which action you should take next. 

The second core mechanic of this game is the investigation. Apart from moving from place to place, you can investigate a location at certain parts of the story. In these parts, the pixel hunting can be huge. At least two times I have been stuck at an investigation because I hadn’t found one clue. Oh well, spam clicking sometimes helps or revisiting the game with a fresh mind after a good night sleep helped as well. 

If these two mechanics weren’t into the game, this game would be a kinetic novel. This game doesn’t provide a lot of challenge but I keep finding it fun to play. I find it funny that there is even a sort of hint system in this amazingly linear game. Then again, it once helped me in the pixel hunting since I overlooked something. 

Comic books

jake3Visually, this game reminds me a lot of reading a comic book. There are barely any animations in this game apart from the UI elements but on the screen, there isn’t a lot of animation. Sound effects are used to great effect in this game as well as clever camera motions during the cutscenes. The box-art of the game also adds to the idea of a comic book further. For some reason, I find it quite refreshing to see this visual style. It sparks my imagination to make the characters come to live and how they act. 

The presentation of this game is quite detailed and I applaud the amount of work that the designers have put into this game. It really looks like you are playing through a comic book. The characters really look like I would image them and together with the minor pieces of voice acting and the sound design, the game comes to live.

Speaking of the sound design, I’m really impressed with it. It walks that fine line of adding tension and not being too present to get annoying. In addition to that, the soundtrack. This soundtrack is quite enjoyable. I found it quite surprising that the intro theme of this game even had some sung lyrics. No other track of in the soundtrack is like that.

So, the cutscenes are a perfect example on how this game works like a living comic book. There are barely any animations in these as well. For some people, this would be a negative of this game but in my eyes, I find that it adds to the atmosphere quite well.

Now, I think it high time to get some minor nitpicks out of the way before I finish my overall opinion on this game. The minor things that annoyed me through my playthrough.

First of all, I would have loved that some checkmark or something like that appeared next the questions I couldn’t get more information over. Since that would have saved me some time asking repeat questions.

Secondly, I hated that if you finished a dialogue, you weren’t always able to use the DPAD to watch the history of the conversation. Thankfully, I save often so it isn’t too big of a deal to reload my manually saved file and replay a part of the game.

Thirdly, saving in the middle of a dialogue means that the save restarts at the beginning of a certain scene. So, keep that in mind and don’t be alarmed when you have to redo a converstation.

The fourth thing is that when you are in the game, you are unable to get to the options menu. Only in the main menu, you are able to see the options menu.

And the final and 5th thing is that when the game tells you, you can advance by touching the screen it expects you to touch in exact spots. For example, if you check your log, you have to touch the paper in order for you to see more. While this helps immersion, I would have loved a sort of scroll bar instead… Yet, the biggest issue is when you have to tap the bottom of the screen while the rest of the screen doesn’t react on your touch.

In conclusion, I think it’s clear that I’m enjoying myself with this game quite a lot. Honestly, I highly recommend this game to everybody who enjoys games like Ace Attorney or CSI. I find the story well written and the visual presentation is a nice change of pace of the highly animated and detailed characters of the more recent adventure/detective games.

Sadly enough, it makes a few mistakes in terms of pixel hunting and the lack of a real difficulty… But the positives are so good that it highly outweighs the negatives in my opinion. It’s so enjoyable that I went on eBay to buy myself a copy of the DS game that was the first Jake Hunter game ever come out in the west. I want to experience more of this series while I haven’t finished 1 out of the 6 cases in this game.

So yes, I’m quite sure that I’ll finish this game and maybe write a review about it if other interesting things appear like what is hidden in the gallery after you finish a case. But apart from that, I have said everything that I wanted to say about this game so I think it’s high time for my usual outro.

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.

First Impression: Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS) ~ So Close…

250px-Super_Mystery_Dungeon_EN_boxartOfficial site

I’m a big fan of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. I dare to say it’s one of my favorite Pokémon spin-offs ever made. A few weeks ago, Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon released here in Europe and I have played it, but not yet finished it. Is this is good or a bad sign? Well, it’s time to take a look at this game. Since this game gets a very mixed reception. Is it a mediocre game or is it more then that? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Short game?

pokemon-super-mystery-dungeon-screenshot-05When I reviewed the previous 3DS entry, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity, I first wrote a rather lengthy rant about it. It had added a lot of features while cutting a few amazing ones. But thankfully, most of those are back in this game.

Something I applaud Nintendo and ChunSoft for in this game is that the personality quiz is back, but it’s optional. This is the perfect way of making both worlds happy. I loved the personality quiz and love to roleplay in the game. Yet, I do understand that some people don’t like it and want to play as their favorite Pokémon. So, now they can do that more easily.

The story of this game is rather interesting. The main plot is that Pokémon are turning into stone. But there is a big problem with the story. While that is going on, the story you play is the story of the main character. The story is something I’m happy and disappointed with at the same time. The writing is solid and the characters are memorable, but at the other hand, I feel that some story arcs don’t receive enough attention.

The biggest issue I have is that I get the impression that this game is pretty short. Notice the word “impression” here. Like in previous titles, this game shows the already defeated bosses on your file before you load it. I have still to defeat two bosses and I have put 14 hours into it.

The game has 20 chapters, I’m now at chapter 14. But, I haven’t done every quest and mission that there is in this game. So, the main story is rather short but the actual game is pretty lengthy. I have seen 70 out of the 720 Pokémon in the game. This means that the story doesn’t have too much filler story. Which is a shame in my eyes, but I see it appeal to some people. Just keep that in mind.

Less cuts

pokemon-super-mystery-dungeon-ss-2-enThis game is a hybrid between the DS and 3DS titles. The hunger system is back, but with a twist. When your belly is full and you eat perfect apples, you gain more health in that dungeon. Also, when you heal using a berry, your belly fills a little bit. Also, you can take multiple quests at once again. This was one of my biggest issues with the previous game.

But this game brings also some really nice features to the table. You can change your name mid game! Yes, when you named your ally, your ex-girlfriend’s name for example… You can change that.

Also, this game has a more expansive feel. In the middle of the game, you get access to Lapras. This Pokemon can take you to other islands. Each island is themed. Not only the dungeons, but the town accompanying it as well.

This game has the features the previous game should have had. I haven’t talked about every feature in this game, since that’s something you should discover yourself. I haven’t talked about the new party customization features or the special powerups you can have.

Anyways, the visuals in this game are pretty amazing. The world and the characters are quite colorful and the game gives off a happy and fun mood. But be warned, this game has a few moments that can pull at your emotional hart-strings. One of those moments happened on a pretty crowed public train. Yeah…

The worlds pop out and this game has pretty well done 3D effects. The animation is also pretty well done. I rarely encountered frame drops. This game runs pretty smooth alright.

Yet, so close…

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The biggest flaw in this game are the controls. Don’t get me wrong, this game controls pretty amazingly but they made some pretty awkward decisions for this game.

Some buttons have multiple functions. When you aren’t used to the controls, be prepared to make a couple of wrong moves.

One thing I’m quite on the fence about is the pushing mechanic. While this helps you move allies over a wonder tile when their stats have dropped, you can do that with leader switching feature. I don’t see a lot of use for the pushing mechanic. Also, it drains your belly quickly.

This game has a an amazing soundtrack. Some boss themes are slowly becoming my favorites. The soundeffects are quite good as well. Only minor issue is that when you use a team attack, it overpowers the music.

At the other hand, the menu design is quite well done. When you use your attacks, you can easily see which ones are going to be effective and which ones not.

The last thing I want to talk about is the AI in this game. The AI of your allies has some nice improvements. When there is an item in the room you are in, your ally is going to get it for you. Also, when you are low on HP, your ally can use it’s turn to heal you. This tweak is one of the best additions to the game.

So, this game is a big improvement over the previous 3DS entry. While the main story is rather short and some controls could use some polish… This game is a must have for every Pokémon fan!

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article here. while I haven’t said everything about this game I want to say… I have to leave something for the review. Otherwise, the review will sound like a copy paste of this article with some added parts.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m quite curious about your opinion of this game. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below. Have a great rest of your day and until the next time! Game on~!