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Review: NG – Spirit Hunter (Switch) ~ Let’s Play A Ghostly Game, Shall We?

Official Nintendo subsite

I have to admit that this year was an extremely crazy year in terms of games for me. So many amazing games have been released and still have to release. When I reviewed Death Mark last year, I was extremely hyped when I learned that a sequel was in development called NG. It was extremely difficult to find even a shred of information about this game since the abbreviation NG stands for various things like a name to companies. In any case, I didn’t have high hopes that this game was coming to the west. Image my surprise when I saw this game in the “Coming Soon” section of the Nintendo Switch eShop. I patiently waited until the release date and when the release date came, I bought it during my break and let it download while I was at work so I could play it right away when I came home. Now, was it worth it? Is this game as good as the previous game or should you skip this game? Let’s take a look at this game, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Let’s play a Ghostly Game, shall we?

This game is the 2nd game in the Spirit Hunter series. The first game was Death Mark. This game isn’t a sequel of that game nor is it a continuation. This game just takes the whole gameplay concept and puts it into a new story and setting.

The story of this game is quite interesting. You play as the protagonist, that you can name yourself. His mother died a few years prior to this game and now he is living alone. His aunt took him in. She is a horror novel author and she runs a bar on the side. Her daughter became quite good friends with the protagonist. One evening, the protagonist finds a black postcard at his doorstep inviting him to play a game with a Princess. He simply ignores this because he thinks that it’s a simple prank.

But, that’s a mistake he is going to regret since not too long after he encounters his first ghost. After that, a ghost kidnaps his cousin and invites him to play a game. If he doesn’t play along, the curse will kill him.

Now, if you have played Death Mark, the curse works quite similar to the Death Mark of the original game. This curse is a sort of time limit in which you have to solve the case of the spirit you have to defeat or purify. Unlike the previous game, the protagonist doesn’t have one evening to deal with the spirit, but he has a bit more time.

While I would love to tell you more about the story of this game, I don’t think that’s a great idea. Since the story is that more enjoyable the less you know in advance. The twists and turns of the story are just amazing. The writing, the jokes, the pacing, the horror… everything comes together quite nicely in this game and I’m bumped out that I have finished this game.

There are some mechanics in this game that even give some replay value to this game. Now that I have finished this game, I want to replay this game and take it in a totally different direction to see where I end up.

This game has some minor Japanese voice acting as well. This isn’t overused at all and it’s used to add some punch to certain dialogues. The voice acting itself is done quite well, the voice acting of the ghosts are personally my favorites. The creepy effects and distortion the developers added to the voice acting is just amazing.

The slider of spooks

An extremely nice feature is the different modes you can play the game in. Like Death Mark, this game contains some jump scares and spooks. They are extremely well crafted and in most cases fit the story nicely. Also, they trigger when you investigate certain sections so it’s quite possible to miss multiple spooks. Some spooks mess with the text or the screen instead of a ghost popping up.

These different modes affect the amount of jump scares and spooks that happen. When you dislike these spooks or jumps scares, you can tone them down and even turn them off completely. I played through this game with all the jump scares intact and I have to say that it added quite a lot to the atmosphere of this game.

The atmosphere is quite creepy, to begin with. The writing draws you into the game and the amazing artwork and illustrations make the world come alive. There isn’t a lot in terms of animations but the beautiful artwork more than makes up for it. For example, the artwork of some death scenes is just extremely well done.

The character portraits, the design of the spirits, the design of the environments… It’s clear that quite a lot of thought and detail has been put into it. I’m quite thankful that the developers added a button to hid the on-screen UI to take screenshots of those amazing scenes to make them even more memorable.

Something that I find a tad bit irritating was the decision to make the “L” button the skip dialogue option. I think that another button like one of the arrow keys on the D-pad would have worked better. Since I can’t count on my two hands anymore the number of times I accidentally pressed the button and skipped a bit of the text. Thankfully, there is an easy way to bring up the log and you can re-read what you skipped.

Everything goes in that log that appears on the screen. From you trying to use an item to decisions you have to make. For some reason, I wasn’t always able to bring up this log easily. In most cases when the log refused to open, I was trying to investigate something. So, quickly going out of investigation mode was the solution.

Speaking of this mode, this is the only mode that allows you to save your game. You are unable to access the save menu while in a dialogue section. Thankfully, the dialogues aren’t Corpse Party Blood Drive long, so an investigation section can be right up the corner.

One thing that I found a real shame is some minor bugs in the UI of the options menu. In one option, the text overflows its checkbox and in another option, they forgot to remove a character at the end of the description. These are minor mistakes that can easily be patched out.

Gameplay-wise, this game is quite addictive. You have to explore the different area’s to either purify or destroy the spirit haunting the place. In order to do this, you explore at night with a partner and search for different subsections of this area.

You explore parts of a town, an office building, and various other locations. You search these locations for clues and items to learn more about the spirit and try and defeat/purify them. The better you explore and investigate the area, the more information you have in the fight with the spirit. If you have played Death Mark, you will feel right at home since it looks quite similar.

I found the gameplay of this game quite addictive. I wanted to keep playing and experience the story to it’s a full conclusion. And yes, now that I have beaten the game, I’m considering playing through the whole game again and trying to take a different route to see where it leads me. I know that this game has multiple endings, but I would love to see how much endings there are.

One extremely welcome improvement over Death Mark I have to mention is that when you want to swap partners, you can do that more easily now. You don’t have to go the whole way back to the mansion, you can easily go to the start of the place you are searching and ask the person directly.

Think quick!

There are some more things to do in this game compared to Death Mark. The items you choose still decide the outcome of purification of the spirit of destruction, but there are more things that matter now. Speaking about that in more detail would spoil certain story sections.

The whole spirit fighting mechanic has been reworked. Now, you don’t have to combine items anymore to attack the spirit, but you have to use your items in the area and analyze the situation. I love these spirits fights a whole lot more compared to Death Mark. The improvements these fights bring to the table are just amazing. It brings a bit more challenge to the table.

On top of that, there are now 2 styles of quick decision-making sections. Both work extremely similar and have the same outcome when you fail. A Game Over. One of these styles is a crisis choice, as you can see in the screenshot in this section of the article. Like Death Mark, the “1000” ticks down as soon as you are able to make a selection. Unlike Death Mark, you can’t find charms to increase this time and it also resets back to 100 each and every time you encounter that section.

Now, this game is quite lengthy. To beat the game, you will need to put give or take 20 hours aside. Let’s not forget to mention the fact that this game is somewhat replayable due to the “emotional reaction system”. Now, you can react with different emotions in certain sections. I have no idea if this makes a difference to the story. But, I have tried it one and it makes the characters react quite differently.

Something that does matter is during some sections you have to make harsh decisions that affect the story to a big degree. I wish I could talk about them, but that would spoil the big parts of the story and that’s something I’m trying to avoid in this review.

Another interesting game mechanic is the “D-Man”. This strange man texts you riddles that you can solve to find cards. These cards contain throwbacks to the previous game or add to the lore of the game. These are a joy to read but contain some spoilers of the previous game. Thankfully, only about the DLC bonus case, so it isn’t THAT bad. Now, the search for these cards works in a very unique way. As soon as you get the text, you have to look around in the area you are in. As soon as you exit the area, you will be unable to search for that card again. You’ll also lose the items you obtained and needed to find the said card. So, be careful.

An easy question to ask is, how difficult is this game? Well, this game is tricky. There are some sections that took me several attempts. In most cases, it was because I overlooked one item or didn’t check my area thoroughly enough. Thankfully, the game is quite forgiving with checkpoints and when you fail a crisis choice or spirit encounter, you can easily restart the whole fight by selecting the wanted option in the “Game Over” menu.

One of the biggest mistakes in this game is the save system in my opinion. I feel that it’s a downgrade compared to the system of Death Mark. There is no autosave, there are fewer save slots and there is less information on the save/load screen compared to the previous game. This is something I wish that will be improved in the possible sequel. Yes, a sequel has been sort of announced/confirmed. You can read more information on the article that Gematsu published a month ago.

The controls of this game are quite simple. They are easy to grasp and master. The only minor thing is that in some areas the spotlight isn’t bright enough to see where the spotlight is on the background art. Thankfully, this happens in only a few places, so it isn’t THAT bad.

Something I’m a bit mixed about is that this game doesn’t have a lot of music. Most of the music is also re-used from the previous game or sounds extremely similar. The music is amazing in this game and I wish I able to buy the soundtrack somewhere. Since I want to add this soundtrack to my music library when I’m relaxing or writing other articles.

And with that said, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I have left out a few things so they can be surprised at you when you play this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article, don’t you think?

Conclusion

The bad:
-Some minor UI elements that could easily be fixed.

-The save feature could have been expanded quite a bit.
The good:

+ Amazing writing and story.

+ Great visuals.

+ The ability to disable the jump scares if you dislike them.

+ Great challenging puzzles

+ ….
Final thoughts:
This game is quite an improvement over Death Mark. Last year, Death Mark was one of my favorite games of 2018. This game is one of my favorite games of this year. This game is the perfect game to play during Halloween. I can’t recommend this game enough for fans of Death Mark, fans of horror games and fans of visual novels. I would even recommend this game to fans of adventure games.

This game is one of the best visual novels I have played in a while. And it’s up to high competition like Ai: Somnium Files. This will be quite interesting in my “Top 10 Games of 2019”. Take it from me, give this game a try. Because it’s totally worth playing and experiencing this game.

Of course, this game has some shortcomings like the bare bones save system and some minor annoyances with the controls but these are easily overlooked and don’t hinder the enjoyment of the game too much or even at all.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this game 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: 100/100

Review: Pokémon Diamond, Pearl & Platinium (DS) ~ Where Is Our Remake, Nintendo?

pokemon_dppt

Bulbapedia entry

It has been quite a while since I talked about the Pokémon series. But today I noticed that I haven’t written an article on the 4th generation of Pokemon games. I think it’s high time to do something about that. Now, I want to tell the story of how I acquired this game. Just when I got my DS, I only had one game. The Legend of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass. Not too long after, my sister and I went to buy new games. She bought it together with me, Nintendogs since she was 10 € short. While I bought Pokémon Pearl. The nostalgic memories are quite extreme for this game. I played this game quite a lot, sometimes through the night while hiding my DS underneath my pillow to avoid getting caught. But, is the game still good or are my nostalgia goggles clouding my judgment? Let’s take a look at the 4th generation of Pokémon games. As per usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

Where is our remake Nintendo?

pokmon_pearl_image10A lot of the early generation Pokémon games got a remake from Nintendo. The first generation, Pokémon Blue/Red and Yellow, has been remade on the Nintendo GBA and more recently on the Nintendo Switch. The second generation, Pokemon Gold/Silver and Crystal, got a remake on the Nintendo DS. The third generation, Ruby/Sapphire and Emerald, got a remake on the 3DS.

Fans are hoping for a remake of the Sinnoh region on the Nintendo Switch. The fully experience the story of this 4th generation all over again. Fans want to start in Twin Leaf Town again, together with your childhood rival, meeting the evil team in the first minutes of the game. Now, this game has your usual Pokémon story. If you have played any previous Pokémon games, you will know what to expect. Fight 8 gyms, defeat an evil team, save the world from destruction, defeat the Pokémon League and become champion of the region.

There are a few twists in the story, but overall it stays very normal for a Pokémon game. While I was playing the game for the first time, I remember quite liking the story. I found the characters quite enjoyable and I enjoyed myself following the quirky cast of characters I met on my journey. While I replayed the game for this review, I still enjoyed the story but I felt that there was more that could have been done with the story. Thankfully, in the following generations, the story gets more and more flesh out.

Something I found really great was the pacing of the story. In the previous Pokémon games, the evil team stays a lot on the background during the story and nearing the finale of the game, appears almost out of nowhere. In this game, you have several encounters with them and a lot of roadblocks on your adventure are caused by them. This made Team Galactic more memorable compared to some other teams. Then again, I might be saying this out of my nostalgia goggles.

Now, does this game have a good story? In my honest opinion, sort off. If you are expecting a story with deep lore like Skyrim, you won’t find it here. The story has a lot of lore but not too in-depth. The story of this game is quite accessible. And that fits the style and theming of this game better than a lore heavy game. It makes the game a lot more accessible for all ages and it stays true to its portable nature.

Unique mechanics galore

pokmon_pearl_image11

If you have played the previous generations, the gameplay will be quite familiar to you. Find and catch Pokémon in the wild to make a team to train and battle other trainers. Now, the usual formula gets enhanced by the Nintendo DS because of the added UI elements of the second screen. The Nintendo DS spoiled me since from this generation the UI gets a lot of improvements.

Some key items like the Item Finder are now a lot easier to use thanks to the PokéTech on the touch screen. There are over 20 apps you can get for the PokéTech. Some are useful inside the game and others can be quite useful outside of the game. I remember that one time, a friend of mine forgot to bring his calculator to school and was allowed to use the calculator in the game for exercises. I used the coin toss app a lot for various situations.

Now, each generation has its own unique special mechanic. The second generation had two regions, the third has secret bases, the fifth has seasons… And this generation has the underground AND the PokéTech. Yes, two unique features. Man, the underground looks like so much fun. Sadly enough, I didn’t have a lot of friends (outside of the internet friends) I could play this mode with. I played this mode twice on the bus and it was quite a lot of fun. In the underground, the secret bases from the 3rd generation return. But there is more, there is a sort of capture the flag mode where you can earn points by raiding the flag of other players their bases. And on top of that, you can put traps in the various hallways. And on top of that, you can mine for various ores and sometimes very useful items. And yes, possible fossils to find several Pokémon. While I wasn’t able to play with the secret bases in the underground, I still spend countless hours just digging for ores and decorating my secret base.

Earlier I talked about the improvements to the UI. Thanks to the touch screen, the battling mechanics and bag management got a lot easier. When you look at the newer generations, it’s clear that these UI improvements work quite well since they got even more fleshed out in those generations. To be honest, I missed the second screen with my menu options and such while I was playing Pokémon Let’s Go.

Actually, there is a third unique mechanic in this game but it isn’t something that game-changing. It’s a nice addition that helps with the atmosphere of this game. After some time, your badges get dirty and a bit rusty. So, you can clean them by rubbing on them on the touch screen to make them sparkle again. This is a nice small addition. And yes, as a child I regularly checked my badges to make sure they were still in sparking condition.

Depending on how skilled you are in optimizing your team, this game can be easy and sometimes quite difficult. I’m the more casual type of player and I have to say that I got frustrated with one of two gym leaders. I disliked the 5th gym a lot since I had to grind quite a bit to beat that gym. And if there is one thing I dislike, that’s grinding.

This adventure will take you roughly 40 hours to complete. But, if you want to fully complete this game and see everything that there is to see, you can spend close to 260 hours in the game. While I haven’t fully completed the game 100%, I think I played this game give or take, 100 hours. Granted, over several save files since I have restarted the game two or three times.

The lakes

pokmon_pearl_image13

Visually, this game looks amazing. Sinnoh still looks great in my opinion. The game is quite colorful and lively.

In terms of the animation, this game looks quite good. I had to get used to the static Pokémon sprites again while battling, but that was a small price to pay.

And the game also nails in it in the audio department. The music for this game is amazing. It’s one of my favorite soundtracks to listen too when I’m in a Pokémon mood and the sound effects really add a lot of flavor to the game.

Running around in the world of Sinnoh is a fun experience. From a port town to the snowy tops of Snowpoint City, this region is one of my favorite regions in the series. Especially because there is so much variation in the region. It’s not themed in one giant theme like in Pokémon Sun and Moon where everything is based on Hawaii or in Pokemon X and Y where everything is themed like France.

So far, I have been praising this game quite a lot. But, are their things I didn’t like about this game. Well, yes. There are a few things I didn’t like about this game.

The first big negative of this game has to do with the fact that the Nintendo Online services have been closed down. Because of this, the online features of this game are inaccessible. Well, apart from the local features then.

Sometimes, I felt that the game was running a bit too slow. Now, I don’t mean that there were any frame drops or lag… I mean that there was a bit too much of the text boxes. Especially when certain weather effects whereinto play.

The best version to play this game is Pokémon Platinium. Apart from fixing some bugs, there is a whole long list of improvements to the game. NintendoEverthing made a very helpful list that can be found right here. And after playing Pokémon Platinium for a bit, I found that a lot of the minor nitpicks I had with the game, were fixed.

And yes, that was almost everything negative I can say about these games… And with that said, I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article.

Conclusion

Negatives:

-Some rare moments of griding are required to beat the game.

-Nintendo Online being shut down.

-Pokémon Platinium improved the games so much that Pearl and Diamond feel inferior.

Positives:

+ Amazing audiovisual design.

+ Several unique mechanics in this game like the underground and the PokéTech.

+ Fun story.

+ …

Final thoughts:

To be honest, I had a really hard time finding negatives for this game. Maybe it’s possible that I have too many nostalgic thoughts about this game or maybe it’s just that good. In terms of Nintendo DS games, this is one of the best Nintendo DS games I have ever played.

There is a reason why so many players want to see this game remade on the Nintendo Switch. They want to bring this game back to the masses so that a whole new generation can experience the amazing journey through Sinnoh again.

I highly recommend that you give this game a try if you enjoy Pokémon games and/or RPG’s. The main game can be easy for hardcore RPG fans but the post-game and the side quests will give you a lot of challenges.

While this game has a few minor flaws, I find them not hindering my experience at all. Compared to the generations after this generation, this game can feel a bit lacking. For example, you don’t need to hold a button down to run and the menu is always accessible on the touch screen… But, then again, there are moments I really miss the PokéTech and the underground mechanics from this game.

And with that, I think it’s time to wrap up this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in a future article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 100/100

Review: Adera (PC) ~ Let’s Rescue Grandfather!

AderaSteam store page – Microsoft Store

During a spring cleaning, my mom found her old Windows Surface RT tablet back. She didn’t need it anymore but I saw some use in it. After I reset the tablet to its factory settings, I set the whole thing up. It would be a tablet I used to start writing articles while I was on the go and also to take notes during gameplay. I have an Asus Zenpad 8.0 S for that as well, but this tablet was bigger and had Word built-in. Now, this tablet can also play games. And that’s a second reason why I saw a use for this tablet. And a 3rd reason is that I just enjoy toying around with old hardware and tech. Now, one of the first games I started playing on this tablet was Adera. I recently finished this game and today I want to talk about it. Let’s go and have that adventure in the Adera. 

Let’s rescue Grandfather!

Adera - 1In this adventure hidden object game, you take on the role of Jane. Jane’s grandfather got himself into trouble and sent a distress letter to Jane. When Jane goes to try and find him together with her partner Hawk, their helicopter crashes in the middle of a desert. It’s there that Jane’s adventure starts. Together with the mysterious orb that she received from the package of her grandfather.

The story of this game is decent. The writing is well done and the pacing as well, but if you have played fantasy adventure games, the story won’t bring a lot new to the table. Now, I did still enjoy the story in this game. My biggest complaint is that it could have been so much more. The world and the setting have so much more potential to be explored.

Now, if you decide to play this game, I highly recommend that you play this game with the original voice acting. The English voice acting is quite well done in my opinion. But, most likely because of the region settings of my Microsoft Account, when I play this game on my desktop instead of my Surface, the voice acting is in Dutch. Now, I have nothing against the Dutch voice actors in this game but after I had experienced the English voices, I found the English voice over a lot better.

The following issue with the game is most likely because of the aging Windows RT hardware, but I had moments where the game’s text was sometimes in English and sometimes in Dutch. But, when the menu appeared in Dutch, some text was repeated several times. Take a look at this screenshot for example:

Adera-4.png

At the bottom left, it says “Rate Adera!Rate Adera!Rate Adera!”. And there are a few other sections in the game that have the same issue. So, to avoid visual messes like that, I highly recommend that if you are interested in this game, that you buy it on Steam. You won’t have the issue where the game tries to display in another language and you have the best voice overwork. I even bought the Steam version of this game for this review to do some further research.

But this review will mostly focus on the Windows Store version because that’s the one I played and finished. Now, something I can’t hold against the game was the fact that I played it on aging hardware. I played this game on the Windows Surface RT running Windows 8.1. Due to a bug in one of the updates, the Windows Store doesn’t work, so I had to reset the tablet multiple times. Each time, I had to download each and every episode. Now, the downloading and installing of these episodes took a long time. Maybe because the WiFi card and the hard disk inside the tablet are quite slow.

Thankfully, this game has an autosave in the cloud when you connect this game with your XBOX account. So, even when I had to reset my tablet to factory settings, download and install the game and the episodes all over again, I didn’t lose any progress. This is quite surprising to me and a very nice feature.

Now, I want to talk about something but I’m going to spoil something of the ending. If you are alright with that or if you have finished the game, feel free to highlight the following part. Otherwise, just scroll a bit down so you can skip the spoiler. So, here comes the spoiler: Something that really annoys me is the fact that there is a “season 1”. This implies that the game is going to get a season 2 or even 3. Because of the cliffhanger at the end and multiple unanswered questions, the game feels incomplete. Now, the game is released in 2015 and the social media accounts have gone silent. So, I don’t think we will ever know what happened to grandfather after he got kidnapped… again. Now, the game got a re-release on Steam in 2018, so there is hope that we get a continuation of the story in the future… Who knows.

Windows Surface RT

Adera - 2Now yes, I might have played this game on aging hardware, but I actually enjoyed the fact that I was able to make use of the unique feature of this game. I think this feature is also in the Android and iOS versions of the game but the fact that the game supports touch controls is just amazing. Also, the fact that there are gyro controls for this game is amazing. When I moved the tablet around, the in-game camera moved around as well. It was almost like I was controlling where Jane was looking by physically moving the tablet. The Steam version does not support this. Well, I might support it, but I don’t have a laptop has supported this kind of feature.

Anyways, because this game focuses on touch controls, the controls are a bit awkward when you decide to play this game with a mouse. Because you either swipe or physically move your device to look around in several areas in order to find items and solve puzzles. That’s something that isn’t easily done with a mouse. Now, you can simulate a swipe with the mouse, but it feels different. Yet, I was able to get used to it while playing around with the Steam version after a while.

Now, let’s focus on the gameplay of Adera for a moment. If you have ever played those adventure games with hidden object scenes, you will feel right at home in this game. There are a few types of puzzles in this game. The first type of puzzle is hidden-object puzzles. In these puzzles, you are tasked with finding a handful of items in the picture. There is a punishment when you spam click on the picture. The screen will “break” and you are unable to click for a certain amount of time.

The second type of puzzles has to do with the mysterious orb that Jane received from her grandfather. This orb can do some strange things but in order for it to do that, you have to solve different puzzles. Speaking of the orb puzzles, there was one style of puzzles I truly hated with a passion. There is a puzzle where you have to tap the symbols at the correct time. When you tapped them at the correct time, you were able to progress one space in the puzzle. But, if you tapped them too early or too late, that means one space back for you. Thankfully, you are able to skip these puzzles. This means that I’m unable to complete some achievements, but rather that then being frustrated at a puzzle. Now, why did I hate this puzzle? Because for this puzzle you need to have a certain sense of rhythm and that’s something I don’t really have. The puzzle itself works just fine.

The third type of puzzle in this game is the fact that there are a lot and I really mean, a lot of hidden items in the game. There are close to 180 optional items hidden all over the game.  From masks, pieces of clothing, coins, artifacts, butterflies to special items. There are even more items to collect. You can always see the items you have collected in the collection section of the main menu. These are separated in different sections giving you a hint in which episode you missed an object. And these items are truly hidden. After I had finished the game, I only found a bit over 80% of all the items. And I thought I was very good at finding these objects. To be honest, this is an interesting way to add a little bit of replay value to this really linear game.

The fourth and final type of puzzle is the fact that certain obstacles block your way. In order to progress you will have to find items. Some of these items are hidden in the hidden object puzzles and some can be found by exploring the area. The best way to compare these puzzles is with the gameplay of games like Broken Sword.

The game might be more on the casual side of things, but that doesn’t take away that the game is rather enjoyable. I really liked exploring the areas the game threw me in and finding the items to solve the puzzles. All the while I was looking around for hidden collectibles. I have played a lot of hidden object adventure games and this game is one of the better I have played. The fact that there are additional things to do like the hidden collectibles and the various achievements you can get is refreshing and great fun.

Something I really liked about the Windows Store version is the fact that I bought the collectors edition of this game. In this collectors edition of the game, there are various wallpapers and pieces of concept art. The whole soundtrack of the game is also included for your listing pleasure. In addition to that, there is a very short but quite humorous gag reel. There is also an ad for the eBook variant of the game.

These bonus additions are nowhere to be found in the Steam version. In addition to that, something that I found quite helpful was the fact that I was able to zoom in during the hidden-object puzzles. There is no way to do that in the Steam version.

Now, something that the Steam game does better is the fact that the game is really full screen. This is only an issue when you play this game on a Windows 10 computer or laptop instead of on a Microsoft tablet. If you play the game on a computer, blue bars will fill the top and bottom of the screen like in the screenshot here:

Adera 4.png

This is a shame since there is so much unused space and the game can run in full screen since this is something that the Steam version shows.

So close, yet so far

Adera - 3

It always pains me when I have to write in a review that a game is so close to being a good game. Adera has a ton of amazing elements but it also makes a few mistakes.

Now, this game will take you roughly 7 hours to finish. It’ll take you a few more hours in order for you to complete it. Yes, this game is somewhat short but when you compare it to other games in this genre, this game is actually rather lengthy. It also has replay value and for the price of 10€, you can’t complain in my opinion.

This game isn’t for everybody. When you dislike puzzle games or casual games, I don’t think you will enjoy this game. Which is a darn shame, since you will miss out on the lush environments and the amazing artwork. This game looks amazing. The animation is also pretty well done. You can skip most cutscenes, but you will miss out on the plot and the great animation. Now, the only thing that could have been improved as there was a bit more animation on the characters during gameplay. The characters are quite static outside of cutscenes.

The controls of this game do something unique. Usually, when you click or tap just above the middle of the inventory bar, you go to the previous location. This isn’t the case in this game. Because this game has a back arrow. This has its advantages. For example, now I don’t return to my previous location when I tap a bit too high by accident. But, this arrow works a bit inconsistent. In some cases, you are able to move to that location without the aid of that arrow and in some cases, you can only go to that location with the down arrow. It’s tricky to explain by text, but it will make more sense once you play the game. While I got used to the mechanic after an episode, it was annoying that the down arrow to move backwards wasn’t consistently used for the same thing and in the same way.

In terms of the UI of this game, it took me a while to get used to the Windows Apps interface style. Because I rarely used Windows 8(.1), I wasn’t used to the fact that you had to do certain swiping actions to bring up the menu system. This is something that the Steam version does a lot better. It was also confusing that the settings of the game were somewhat outside of the menu system of the game.

Now, in terms of the UI. Something I really disliked was when I replayed parts of the game on my PC to write this review, I noticed that the swiping doesn’t work in the menus. I had to use my scroll wheel. Another annoying “feature” of this game is that when you go to any menu during gameplay; to for example the collection menu, the back button in the menu system brings you back to the main menu. It would have been so much easier if this back button brought you back to the game to continue your playthrough.

While the game saves automatically and quite frequently, I found the load feature a bit lacking. Now, it works perfectly but when you continue an episode, you don’t know where your save file is at. When you finish an episode, the game saves right before the cutscene that plays as the cliffhanger for the next episode. Now, the thing is, the game uses cloud saves when you sign in with your XBOX account. So, when I clicked continue on the first episode on my PC, the end cut scene of the first episode started playing. It would be lovely if the load feature told you where the game saved. In addition to that, when you click on the “play now” buttons in the main menu with the episodes, the game directly loads your save file. So, if you want to start from the beginning because you think you skipped some collectibles, you need to go to the “episode” section of the main menu and start it from there.

It’s a shame really, the UI could be so much better. There are just bad design decisions. Thankfully, most of them are fixed in the Steam version where you don’t have the Microsoft App UI on top of the game. But, that version misses quite a lot of features of the collector’s edition.

Something I haven’t mentioned or talked about is the music and sound design. The soundtrack of this game is quite well done. The only complaint I have is that some tracks are a bit too short and because they are played quite often, the loop started to annoy me in some puzzles. Yet, the soundtrack is one that I’m going to add to my music library so I can listen to it while I’m writing or relaxing. It’s that good. It’s a relaxing but mysterious soundtrack that’s fully orchestrated. Together with amazing sound effects and sound design, this game really shines in its audiovisual presentation. Now, one nitpick is that I feel that the music for the main menu is a bit too quiet, a bit too mysterious. Sometimes I felt there wasn’t any music in the main menu.

Now, is this game difficult? Not really, this game can be extremely easy and quite challenging depending on the difficulty setting you to pick. There are three settings. Depending on how difficult you make the game, the more supporting features are disabled. On the “EASY” setting, active hidden object or puzzle locations are revealed with sparkles and the hint and skip buttons recharge quite quickly. On the “NORMAL” difficulty setting, the sparkles appear less frequently and the hint and skip buttons recharge slower. And finally, on the highest difficulty, also known as “EXPERT”, no sparkles and the hint and skip buttons are disabled. You can change the difficulty setting at any time while you are playing an episode.

Speaking about the hint button, I really liked the way this game gives you hints. When you click on the hint button the first time, you get a clue to what is the next step you could take. There is an additional button on the hint pop-up and if you click on that button, you get the exact solution you are looking for.

During this review, I have talked about various things that this game does better compared to other hidden object adventure games like for example the length, the back button, and the replay value. But, there is one thing that this game doesn’t have compared to newer games that would have been a great addition in this title. The custom difficulty setting. With these settings, you can adjust which supporting options you want to enable and disable or how long you want to the hint and/or skip buttons to recharge for. But, this might have been too tricky to program with the ability to change the difficulty settings on the fly. The other thing that this game doesn’t have is a map screen. Usually, in these map screens, you can see the locations you have visited and where actions can be done. This would have been helpful with some of the longer episodes.

With that said, I think it’s high time to close off this review. It’s time for the closing thoughts on this game!

Conclusion

Note: While I talked a lot in this review about the Steam version of this game. The conclusion applies to the Windows App Store version of the game that I played on the Windows Surface RT tablet.

The bad: 

  • The UI could use some more polish.
  • The Dutch translation has some text bugs.
  • There was no way to choose the language of the game.

The good:

+ Amazing audiovisual presentation.

+ Replay value in a hidden object game!

+ The collector’s edition has a lot of amazing bonus content.

+ Amazing artwork.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Man, this has been a tricky game to review. I have played parts of the Steam version and the Windows App store version. I’m certain that the versions for Android and iOS have some differences but will most likely play similar to the Windows Surface RT version.

While the Steam version has a better UI, it lacks all the additional neat features of the collector’s edition that can be found on the Microsoft Store. But, the version of the Microsoft Store has a lacking UI.

Now, this game isn’t perfect and isn’t for everybody. But what it does, it does very well. I highly recommend this game to fans of the hidden object genre or fans of the point-and-click genre. This game is quite underrated and should deserve more recognition. It was the first game I started playing on the Windows Surface RT and it was the first game I had beaten. Sometimes I replay a bit of the game in the hope I find the collectibles I missed.

The game gives you the impression that there are going to be more seasons, that the story of Adera will continue. With the game getting a Steam port last year, I have hopes that we will see another season in the (near) future. But, I highly doubt it will happen since there is no mention of seasons in the Steam version. Then again, it could be possible that the second season will start with episode 6 or something.

So, if you want to give this game a chance and you don’t mind a bit of messy menu UI, I highly recommend the Windows Store version. If you want a better menu UI, play the Steam version but know that you will miss out on the collector’s edition content.

Personally, I really enjoyed playing this game and I’m happy that I discovered it. Now, I’m quite curious to see if somebody who reads this article is going to pick up this game. If you do, please let me know in the comments which version you bought and what you thought of it.

And with that said, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. 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 the next article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 70/100

NekoJonez’s looking forward to these 10 games in 2019

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The year of 2018 is almost history. The final moments are happening when this article was in the process of being written. Like each year, I want to take the time to look to the upcoming year. Since I’m writing a gaming blog, I especially want to take a look at 10 games I’m quite excited about that currently have a release date in 2019. If you want to know what the 10 best games of 2018 for me where, I have already written an article on that subject. Before I start talking about my list, remember that this list is my personal opinion. It’s quite possible that the games you are looking forward too aren’t on my list. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article, my list and/or with your list. And now, it’s time for the actual list in no particular order. 

#10 – Minecraft Dungeons (PC)

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Announcement blogpost

To be honest, Minecon Earth passed me by this year. When I heard about “Minecraft Dungeons” I honestly thought that it was another skin pack for the console edition. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s actually a new game in the Minecraft universe.

From what I have read on the Minecraft website, the game looks like a dungeon crawler game like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or The Binding of Isaac in concept. Now, it looks like it’s a multiplayer game, but I hope there will be a single player component to the game as well.

I have started playing Minecraft in late 2011 and I play the game here and there today. While I play less Minecraft today then I did in the past, I still hold Minecraft very near and dear to my heart. Now, I’m quite interested and hyped to see what the Mojang team has in store with this new game and how they are going to use the actual Minecraft mechanics in this new game or if they are going to introduce new mechanics. Maybe, the new game might link to the original game in a way… maybe. We shall see. Currently, there is no release date announced, apart from somewhere in 2019. The only thing we know for sure is that this game is going to release for PC.

 #9 – Desperados III (PC)

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Official Steam page

I remember the day I got introduced to the Desperados games when I visited a coworker of my mom. He introduced me to the game and actually made a copy of his disc for me to play at home.

Yes, I started to play this series illegally. Year later, I actually bought myself a legit copy on Steam and I bought all the other entries in the series. I really love the gameplay of these games. The game is extremely challenging and I haven’t beaten the games until this day. I have come quite far. I was in the final three levels of the original game.

When I was installing Desperados on my laptop, I suddenly noticed that the game got a new post in the news section. To my surprise, a new reboot/sequel got announced and to blow my mind even further, the game was coming in the summer of 2019!

So, I know what I’m going to do this upcoming summer. I’m going to play the first two Desperados games to refresh the story and lore of the series so I can get right into the new game. I’m quite excited to relive my childhood and finally beat the games I wasn’t able to beat as a child.

#8 – Fire Emblem – The Three Houses (Switch)

Nintendo.com Mini-site

H2x1_NSwitch_FireEmblemThreeHouses_image1600wI was playing Fire Emblem Warriors at the time this game got announced. When I saw this game during Nintendo’s E3 presentation, my mind was blown.

When I was watching the trailer, I got the impression that some elements of the Fire Emblem Warriors game actually made it into the actual main series, while staying true to their roots. It also looked like the game got a lot of new mechanics compared to the games I have played on the 3DS.

Now, apart from the Fire Emblem Warriors spin-off I haven’t finished any Fire Emblem game. And all the Fire Emblem games I have started playing were the handheld games. I have never tried a console Fire Emblem. Then again, the Switch is a hybrid; both console and handheld.

Nevertheless, when Spring 2019 rolls around, the game will finally hit the shelves. You can count on it that I’ll have some budget to spare to get myself a copy of this game and give it a try. I want to give this Fire Emblem game a try. Maybe this is the game that convinces me even more that I should finish all the other Fire Emblem games in my collection.

 #7 – Final Fantasy remakes (Switch)

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IGN article

I know for a fact that there are going to be people that are not going to like the following confession from me. I have never finished a Final Fantasy game in my life. I have started a few of them but I haven’t gotten into them at all.

I have Final Fantasy 7 on Steam and I have Final Fantasy X and X-2 on the PS2. I also played a few Final Fantasy remakes on my DS but I haven’t gotten further than the introduction chapters.

They are all extremely interesting and I loved my time playing them but I always got distracted with other games. So, I’m going to grab my chance to change that in 2019. A few of the biggest titles of the Final Fantasy series are getting a HD facelift and are coming to the Nintendo Switch. So, I can take these games on the go and finally finish them. Now, let’s hope I don’t get distracted by other games on my backlog or coming out in 2019.

#6 – Etrain Odyssey Nexus (3DS)

Etrain Odyssey NexusOfficial site

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Etrain Odyssey series on the Nintendo DS and 3DS. When I learned that Etrain Odyssey 5 was going to be last game in the series on the 3DS, I was disappointed yet I was very understanding. There isn’t a good way to actually re-create the gameplay on another system then on the DS or 3DS. Well, you could argue that tablets could work, but still…

Now, the gameplay isn’t unique at all. It’s a challenging dungeon crawler RPG like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or The Binding of Isaac. What sets this game apart is the fact that you don’t have random dungeons AND you have to draw your very own map. This makes the exploration so unique and personal. It’s highly possible that you miss a pathway because you drew a wall in that place.

But, Atlus gave me two big surprises this year. The first one was that the series is going to get a new life on another platform. Possibly the Nintendo Switch. Only a teaser has been published but I haven’t found to much more information.

The second big news was that Etrain Odyssey X, a game which I honestly thought would stay in Japan for ever, is coming to the west. And sooner than I thought. The game is going to release a bit short of my birthday. On the 5th of February. Man, I can’t wait to play this new entry into the series. Now, I still have to finish all the other games in the series but I’m just so happy that I will have more Etrain Odyssey content coming my way pretty soon. And yes, I pre-ordered myself a copy for my birthday already, which is the 7th of February.

#5 – Animal Crossing (Switch)

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Nintendo.co.uk microsite

Often when I was video’s of Nintendo YouTubers, they all have a story about playing a version of Animal Crossing on either the Gamecube, DS or Wii. I haven’t spent a lot of time with the Animal Crossing series until Animal Crossing New Leaf got released in 2012.

When I started playing the game, I started to understand how people love this series so much. To be honest, I started to fall into love with the series myself. I have spent countless hours on my 3DS manging my town, running errands and doing favors for my towns folk.

This year, I was able to add Animal Crossing: City Folk to my collection. Well, here in Belgium it’s called “Animal Crossing – Let’s Go To Town”. While I didn’t have a lot of time this year to play a game like Animal Crossing, I’ll have more time in 2019 to give the new Animal Crossing title a go and explore the new town I’m going to build.

The reason I love the series so much is that it provides a more relaxing experience. It’s a game I can play to wind down after all the more action packed games or the events in my day. So, I’m looking forward to the version on the Nintendo Switch. And I’m convinced that I’ll see even more people playing their Nintendo Switch on the train once it’s released.

#4 – BloodStained – Ritual of the Night (Multiplatform)

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Yes, I know. This game was also on my list last year. But the game hasn’t been released this year. It’s going to be released in 2019.

We got a spin-off mini-game under the title of BloodStained: Curse of the Moon this year, which I haven’t finished nor played yet.

I have explained in the article from 2017 why I’m so excited to play this game. I’m really looking forward to a new game in the Metroidvania style, since it’s one of my favorite genres and I really feel that not enough games are released in that style.

Now, here is hoping that the game doesn’t get another delay and that I’m able to play this game in 2019.

#3 – Town (Switch)

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Teaser from E3 (Thanks GameExplain)

A new game from the developers who brought us Pokémon? Where do I sign up? While an exact release date hasn’t been announced, I’m sure we going to see more of this game in the upcoming year.

There isn’t too much known about this game. The only things we know are from the teaser that we got in the E3 presentation of Nintendo this year.

Now, I’m getting the impression that this is going to be a sort of tower defense style game. A game where you need to develop a village so you can get the right skills and equipment to fend of the monsters that are going to attack your village. To a certain degree, the game reminds me a bit of Ever Oasis. Now, we will have to wait and see how this game is going to play and more details of the actual gameplay. But, I’m already quite interested after seeing the 40 second teaser.

#2 – Pokemon (Switch)

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So, GameFreak released Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee this year. Personally, I’m a bit mixed on the games. I feel that they made it too accessible and a bit too stripped down for my liking. Now, I’ll save that for my actual review of the game.

But, we were warned that Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee were going to be stripped down versions of the games. In 2019, we are going to get the next generation of Pokémon. My biggest hope is the new game will be more like the Pokémon games of the past like Sun & Moon and less like Pokémon Let’s Go.

Anyways, I think we will have to “wait and see” on this one. While I’m still quite excited for the new Pokémon generation, I have a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth because of Pokémon Let’s GO! But, I have faith in GameFreak. Let’s hope they don’t shame it.

#1 – Dragon Quest Builders 2 (Switch)

Dragon Quest Builders II

Dragon Quest Wiki entry

This game is already released in Japan, but the western version is going to be released in the future. According to Forbes, the release date of this game will be somewhere in 2019.

If you have read my review of Dragon Quest Builders 1, I think it shouldn’t be a surprise to see this game on this list. I enjoyed the original game so much, I wanted to play more. And, next year I’ll get more.

While not everybody agrees with me on this, but I find that Dragon Quest Builders mixes the Dragon Quest formula perfectly with open world building games like Terreria and Minecraft.

In the sequel, I’ll be able to play with even more features and mechanics then the original. From swimming and waterfalls to gliding through the air. While I’m extremely tempted to watch let’s plays of the Japanese version, I have decided that I’m not going to watch nor read anymore on this game until it’s released. I want to be as spoiler free as possible. But, you can be sure that whenever this game releases here in the west, I’ll be playing it as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Closing words

So, 2019 is almost here. To my surprise, there aren’t a lot of games announced for 2019. I’m rather curious to see what next year is going to bring. I have a gut feeling that 2019 will be a slow year for gaming that’s going to build up for a special 2020. There are a few games in 2020 I’m also really hyped for like Age of Empires IV and Beyond Good and Evil 2.

Then again, 2019 hasn’t started yet. It’s quite possible that a lot of games are going to be announced and that 2019 will still be an amazing year for gaming after all. Only time will tell.

In any case, I’m not going to ramble too much here. 2018 was an interesting year for me, but 2019 shows a lot of promise and I’m looking forward to the challenges that’s life going to throw my way in the upcoming year. Of course, I’ll still be playing games and you will still be able to read about my adventures on my blog. So, thank you for taking your time into reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Review: Kirby Star Allies (Switch) ~ Let’s Be Friends

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Official website

I enjoy the Kirby games quite a lot. The atmosphere and gameplay are the biggest reasons I’m drawn to the series. So, when I learned that a new game got released on Switch, I placed it on my “To Buy” list. Earlier this month, I bought myself a copy of this game on a small sale. So, today I want to give my honest opinions on the game. Is it any good or is it not worth your time? After playing Kirby Triple Deluxe and Kirby Planet Robobot, I was quite interested to see what the new offer on the Nintendo Switch will bring. As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

It’s raining hearts

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Kirby is peacefully sleeping in his house when he gets a rude awakening. Some dark hearts are raining down on his homeland, the land of Popstar. Of course, Kirby goes on an adventure to save the day.

As usual for a Kirby story, the story isn’t the big reason you play this adventure. If you played Triple Deluxe or Planet Robobot, you have seen and experienced this story line and structure before. The writing is solid and together with the character noises, the story comes somewhat alive. But, again, the story shouldn’t be the reason you play a Kirby game.

If you do care about spoilers, don’t highlight the following part. But, I want to tell some things about the ending of the main story. So highlight the rest of this paragraph if you don’t mind spoilers or have already beaten the game. … Okay, while I was playing the final levels of this game, I got a déjà vu. And I had to look it up. This ending has actually been done quite a few times before, but the reason I got a deja vu is because this ending is so similar to the ending of the Kirby game on NES. Seriously, watch a video from the final boss of Kirby Star Allies and than Kirby on the NES. You will be surprised. But, I guess it’s a reference or easter egg? 

Alright, the spoilers end here. Before I continue any further, I want to say that this game is extremely short. You can finish this game in an afternoon since the main story will take you only 6 hours. If you want to complete the whole game, you can do this in 14 hours. This was a huge let down, since the 3DS games were longer than that to fully complete. If you wanted to fully complete those games, you have to put aside 26 hours for each game.

I honestly don’t understand why this game is so short. Since the worlds you explore are fun to go through. Yet, there are only 4 worlds, well 5 if you count the one-stage world to fight the final boss in.

Besides that, there are a few mini-games and a co-op mode and that’s it. The post-game content isn’t anything special. I’m sorry, but Nintendo, why is this game priced at 60€? Are we for real? You can get the 3DS games for less money. Also, other Switch games like Super Mario Odyssey have a lot more to do in it for the same price tag.

Anyways, I’m not going to ramble about the price & length for too long. Otherwise it will overtake this whole review. Let’s be friends and review this … short … adventure.

Let’s be friends

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Each Kirby game has an unique gimmick that sets the games apart. In this game, you can recruit 3 enemies to fight along your side. These characters can be controlled by either a pretty good AI or a friend.

I haven’t played this game with a friend so, I won’t comment on that but, you can play this game with up to 4 players. Since the game is quite short, this game would make for the ideal late night gaming session to play through with your friends.

Now, this game goes further with the gimmick and sort-of reuses a gimmick from a previous entry in the series. Remember Kirby 64 – The Crystal Shards, where you were able to combine two different powers to create one unique power? Well, that returns in this game. Sort of.

For example, when you get the sword ability, you can hold up your sword up in the air. When some elemental friend sees this, they will infuse their power with the sword. So, you can get a flame sword. This leads to some unique strategies and puzzles to get the collectibles.

I found it quite enjoyable to see which unique combinations I could make by mixing powers. While some combinations create the same outcome, I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t too many joke combinations in this game. That was part of the charm in Crystal Shards. Where a combination could turn Kirby into a fridge.

Each time you combine a power, an animation plays where Kirby shows his new weapon/ability in a short of Smash Bros style. Surprisingly, you can change this in the options menu. You can choose between “always show them” or “show them only once.”. If you pick the last one, it will play the animation for each combination one time and when you make that combination again, it won’t play that animation.

There are various new unique abilities in the game as well. For example, the spider and art ability. To be honest, the art ability is overpowered, even for a Kirby game. It can spawn in various healing items with a short cool down. So, you can heal yourself and allies very quickly.

Now, I might be a bit too harsh on this game now. While the game is too short and could have been expanded a bit more, the level design was a blast to play through. The various abilities and friend combinations you can have make for a very replayable game. Also, in the puzzle rooms, the abilities you need are usually inside the room. And if the AI kills them, just walk off screen, wait a few moments and go back and they will have respawned.

The collectibles this time around are puzzle pieces. The hunt for them reminds me of the puzzle mini-game in the Mii Plaza on the 3DS. There are two types of puzzle pieces inside the levels. The normal blue ones and the special rainbow colored ones. The special rainbow colored ones unlock the pink pieces. The blue ones unlock a random piece of a picture. These pictures are just for having something to collect. I think they unlock new characters in the Dream Palace, but I’m unsure. Since I got every character unlocked by beating the game but I haven’t got all puzzles unlocked. The message after unlocking a puzzle stats: “You will be able to meet legendary characters”. So yeah.

It’s no secret that the Kirby games are easy and have a more challenging mode for more experienced players. To fully complete the puzzles, you will have to look around in the various levels. If you would have missed an unique piece, you can see that right from the level select screen. Included on the level select screen, you can also see if there is a hidden switch in the level that opens a hidden level. Including the hidden levels, there are 40 levels in total.

Press X to revive

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These 40 levels take you through 4 different chapters. During these 4 chapters, you explore various locations presented with an amazing visual polish.

The artwork in this game is really good. Together with great animations, the game’s visual presentation is top notch. I don’t have anything to criticize on that front.

In terms of the music and sound, I do have something to say. The soundtrack of this game is pretty good. For those who love nostalgia as much as myself, you will be happy to know that there are a lot of musical references in this soundtrack. Now, there are a few tracks of this soundtrack I disliked. These play in the final moments of the game. Thankfully, it’s only for one battle.

Now, speaking about battles and combat, the controls for this game are good. I did had some minor issues here and there. With some abilities I was unable to easy switch directions, like with the bird ability. When I started attacking, I felt I was locked in that attacking animation. Giving my enemy the chance to put in some damage.

It’s a minor problem since I finished this game with 85 additional lives. You only loose a life when Kirby dies. When an ally dies, you can hold “X” for a short time to revive them with a 1/2 health bar. Speaking about those friends, like the music there are some amazing references there too. My favorite reference is the return of the animal buddies from Kirby’s Dreamland 2 on the gameboy. That game was one of the first Kirby games I ever played.

Anyways, I was talking about the minor issues I had with controls. Another minor issue is that when you have a certain ability and you want to release that ability as a friend… Well, though luck. I haven’t found a way to do that.

The gameplay in this game is like any other Kirby game. It’s a 2D platformer-adventure game where you try to get to the big door at the end of the level. Now, another unique gimmick appears in some levels. In some levels, you will need to have 3 friends before you can progress. You can come across pedestals where you can “merge” together to from a bridge for an ally with a key to cross or you can form a boulder to roll down smashing rocks. I know that it’s a kids game, but the names the developers gave for some of these things are just… “The Friendship Bridge”… Do I have to say more?

The game is still a blast to play. I enjoyed myself quite a lot and rarely got annoyed with the level design. The final level gets a bit tricky with moving blocks. I lost a handful of lives thanks to being squished by those blocks. But, I was rushing things where I needed to take it slow.

Besides the music and various returning characters, the game has other references to previous games in them. Just look at what statues Kirby can change into using the stone ability. The Kirby dance makes a return as well and is adorable as ever.

In this game, there are also various puzzle rooms where you can get bonus stars, puzzle pieces and various other things. By default, the game tells you which abilities you need to use to solve the puzzle. You can disable this in the options menu, from the main menu. Why are the options you find in the main menu not able to be changed during gameplay? I can understand that it’s tricky to code while you are in a level but I think it would serve no big problems on the world map right?

The post-game content is decent but I expected a lot more from it. The two new modes are fun to mess around with but I feel like they are more designed for multi-player than for single player.

Anyways, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s time for the conclusion of this article and my final thoughts on the game.

The conclusion

The good:

+ Fun new gimmicks.

+ Fun to play.

+ Great visual design.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ The nostalgic references.

The bad:

-Way too short & too expensive at 60€.

-Minor control issues.

-The story…

-Useless collectibles.

Final thoughts:

Is this game a bad game? No, this game is a decent game but it’s too light on content. This game has the usual Nintendo polish and there is nothing really game breaking wrong with the game.

My big problem with this game is the length and the price they ask for it. In addition to that, some parts of this game are more designed for multiplayer. I feel that this game could be more fun to play with friends or family.

I do recommend this game, but wait for a price drop or buy it on the cheap. If you pay full price for this game like myself, the shortness of the game might be disappointing. I was able to beat this game in 2 days. This game just needed a longer development time.

That’s everything for this article. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 65/100

EDIT: This post got a “Nice Job” badge from NormalHappenings. Read more here: https://normalhappenings.com/2018/09/14/nice-job-badges-for-september-14-and-a-guide-to-making-the-most-boring-game-show-ever/

 

Preview: Neon Valley Revenge (PC) ~ Let’s Go Shooting in Tron?

neon valley revengeOfficial website

Recently, I came across a game on the world wide web called Neon Valley Revenge. This game is so interesting, I wish that there was already a demo I could play. So, let me tell you when I’m so interested in this game. I also got in contact with the developers and the CEO told me that a demo might come in the future. In any case, let’s take a look at Neon Valley Revenge. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the content of the article and/or the game.

Let’s Go Shooting in Tron

neon valley revenge 1I chose the title of this article for a reason. This game is going to be a shooter set in a sort of Tron-ish looking world. It’s going to be an online shooter too.

From the currently released material on their website, I’m not sure if this game is going to have a single player campaign.

I think there is no need to talk about the visuals in depth since the screenshots in the article will do the trick I think. A picture can say more than a thousand words after all. But, if you want to see the game in action, you can look at this teaser trailer where the developers show off some combat mechanics. You can find more information about it in their article about the video.

Something that gets me interested in the game is the fact that the wall jumping. This opens up the map in so many different directions and I can’t wait to see how hectic matches can be online. Also, I like that there seems to be a 1st and 3rd person mode in the game. Personally, I like to play my shooters in 1st person, but if there is going to be an option, this will please both parties.

neon valley revenge 2Also, if the music from the video is going to be any indication of the soundtrack that this game will have in store, I’m getting even more hyped for the game. I think that the music really fits the presentation they are going to this game. There are some hidden hints placed in an article about the music that might possibly get into the game.

In another blog post, the developers confirmed the wall jumping amongst other forms of movement. Two other things that are pretty interesting is the air control and the dashing. It’s quite clear that this game is going for a futuristic vibe. I like the execution in this game since it really fits the theme visually. So, the artist did a great job in design everything.

Speaking about the artist, the main developer Jonathan D. and David Belli made the animations. Now, do you want to hear something even more impressive? Besides those two, there are three other people working on this game. The team is presented in this blog post.

So, the developers also revealed a bit how it’s going to work in the gameplay department. For this, I point you to a page talking about one of the maps. There will be commands to easily and quickly do things like vote and kicking players.

There are other various bits of information on that same page. You can find the control scheme and some information on how high scores and weapon load outs will work. Currently, the controls won’t be customizable, but the keyword is “currently”. I personally hope that the developer knows that “QWERTY” isn’t the only keyboard layout. I know, I know; it’s a pet peeve of mine, but I hate it when I play a game using my “AZERTY” keyboard and I have to place my fingers in a weird position to play the game.

So, I’m going to keep an eye on this game. When the demo is ready, I’ll surely give it a shot with my friends who are into shooters. From just seeing the already released (press) material, I can’t wait to see this game become a finished product. There is, even more, to discover on their website when it comes to art and screenshots.

Now I would like to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care. And before I finish this article, I want to share the press kit for this game with you. So here it is! It’s written by the CEO of the developers Daydream Productions, Jonathan D.

Press kit

Daydream Productions presents

Neon Valley: Revenge is an online shooter with Neo 80s design influence. Full of retro neon-infused graphics and hardcore gameplay features, join the digital frontier of Neon Valley and claim your place at the top!

Features

  • Health shield system inspired by Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Agility focused movement for freedom of control. Wall jumping, dashing and air control
  • Assortment of weapons and gadgets with unconventional mechanics
  • Skill and style based points scoring system
  • Online multiplayer
  • Arcade style high score leaderboards
  • Neo 80s design and synthwave music

History

neon valley revenge 3I have been dabbling in game development since the tender age of 14. Mostly working with pixel art and some basic programming using the program Beyond. And after my education, I worked on several projects with friends or freelance based. However, after many of them fell through, I felt like I had to just go for it and push through whatever challenges lie ahead. To develop my own game, a project I could use to broaden my skillset and begin as a professional game developer. I aimed for a game design within my reach… Something which did not go so well.

Neon Valley is a project I have worked on the last 2-3 years. Mostly in my free time and a lot of the time which should have been my sleep. As I am originally an artist and designer I had to learn programming, so I could begin developing my own ideas. This project was for that purpose but as it developed I wanted to take the extra step. So I took it to the next level, revamped a lot of the art and turned it into a somewhat full-fledged game. Or at least direct my goals towards that. Neon Valley transformed from a small prototype shooter to an online multiplayer shooter.

I had to learn not only C# programming in Unity but also pick up how to program networking. And beyond that VFX, designing game mechanics, Lighting, bla bla bla oh my god. So it has been a rough couple years for this little artist, something very out of my comfort zone. It was not the straightforward copy paste of my 14yr old projects. But I love it none the less and am very excited to present my figurative but-also-kind-of-literal blood sweat and tears.

Goals

I wish to tailor-make a competitive online shooter that allows a diverse variety of gameplay styles. Currently, there is only a handful of items in the game. However, over the next few months, I will be designing more characters, weapons, and gadgets, testing them one by one with the players. Experimenting with the gameplay feel and a variety of gameplay mechanics at the player’s disposal. I hope to over time develop Neon Valley into a place where players can develop their own gameplay styles without feeling forced into specific “Meta” gameplay.

 

Review: Nintendo Pocket Football Club (3DS – eShop) ~ Let’s Play This Match

Nintendo_Pocket_Football_Club_(GER)Official website

From time to time, I tweet about a match I’m watching or I just watched. I’m a casual soccer fan. When a game is shown on TV, I go to my grandfather to watch. Apart from that, I don’t follow a lot of soccer. When I saw a Nintendo soccer game a few years ago on store shelves, I was interested but never bought the game. Until a few weeks ago, when it’s was on sale in the Nintendo eShop and I bought it with the money I had left over. And now, it’s time that this game plays it’s most important match, the review match. I’ll be the referee of this game, so I hope you are ready! If you want to shout something to the referee; especially your opinion on the game and/or my decisions in this match, go ahead in the comments! 

The goals

Nintendo_Pocket_Football_Club 2

So, this game scores a few goals. Let’s take a look at what goals this game scored.

In the first few minutes, this game scored with the visual presentation of this game. The artwork and the sprites blend together quite well. While the animation during the matches can be somewhat lacking sometimes; I think that changing them would destroy the charm of the presentation. That makes the 1-0 for the game.

The game scores a 2-0 with the overall gameplay during matches. Each match can go in many different directions. One time, I didn’t save after a match, restarted the game and replayed the same match. I did this five times, each time I got a different outcome. You will never know what you will get. During the matches, the game can be very tense. It’s a balancing act in when to substitute players, changing tactics and hoping for the best. There is an additional layer of strategy since you can only change your strategy when you substitute your players or during the break period of the match. And during the break period, you have more options to change your strategy so your decision will count.

Not only that, you need to balance your team as well. The 3-0 goes to the training system. This is done with trainer cards, which I will expand more on later. But, you need to make sure that you don’t lose players since they rarely played or played too much. To manage your team well and who knows, you might be able to transfer more expensive players to your team.

The 4-0 is scored by the random element in this game, called the trainer cards. During a match, you gain a certain amount of random player cards. You can use these player cards to improve your players. If you combine them, you can make special combos which improve the player’s stats more than if you would use them separately. Also, you need to think about what stats you need to improve. For example, you don’t need to learn a keeper how to dribble, since he almost never needs to dribble. But, it’s a great idea to improve the jump stat of your keeper.

Surprisingly, the game scores a 5-0 with the sound design. Personally, I wish that there was music playing during the matches, on the other hand, I’m glad that they didn’t. Since it adds to the realism of the game. The only complaint I have about the sound design is that the goal scoring jingle doesn’t always play when your team scores when you are the “away” team. Minor nitpick really.

The game also scores a 6-0 with an interesting in-game manual. The game also explains some terms for players who aren’t that well known with soccer. Neat.

The 7-0 is a goal with the customization of the game. You can design the shirts of your team, the logo, and the name. When you want to redesign or rename your team, you can do that when you want, when you aren’t playing a match.

The kicks to the woodwork

npfc_13

So, this game could have scored more points but they missed a few chances in this game. Let me start with the first one.

The backing system is where they had a missed opportunity. While I really like the concept, I’m really displeased with the fact that you loose backing when you play either a draw or lose a game. Personally, I think that you shouldn’t lose backing when you draw a game. Also, I think that you shouldn’t lose backing when you lose a game on certain occasions. For example, when you lose 1-0 from a team that is placed in the highest league when you are in the lowest league, that’s a big accomplishment of your team that shouldn’t go unnoticed, since, in the real world, fans would be happy with the play of their lower ranked team.

The game also hits the goal post with the trainer cards. While they are quite interesting to use, you don’t have a list of what cards make a combo. When you select a card, other cards will sparkle if you used them to make a combo in the past. But, when you have never made that combo, you won’t see them sparkle. Also, on my playthroughs, I noticed that I get a lot of the same cards each and every match.

Something that isn’t present is an autosave feature. Which can be a be a blessing and a curse. To me, it’s a blessing since I can restart a game when I’m not happy with the outcome of a match. But this can be considered cheating too…

The goals of the opponent

nintendo_pocket_football_club

Sadly enough, the game got a few goals in their own goal as well. Let me talk about those.

The 7-1 is scored due to the lacking controls sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this game has unuseable controls in any sense of the word. But, sometimes the controls are so picky that you lose a lot of time with it.

For example, you need to confirm when you change players from a location in the field. Also, on the screen where you decide to swap players, the “L” button bugs out sometimes. When you go the bench with using the down arrow, the prompt of the “L” button changes when I’m at the 3rd player.

The 7-2 is scored because the UI lacks some information sometimes. While the UI is very well put together, I really wish I was able to see the stats of the player I wanted to replace. But, you can only see the stats of the player your cursor is on. In addition to that, when you use the “Y” button to swap players, you can’t see the stats of the players.

Outside of the matches, the UI can be annoying sometimes. I think that the biggest issue is that the game lacks some information screens. Like, how many times a player scored in the “players to watch” screen. Or on the screen where the players ran, you can’t see where the keepers ran.

The 7-3 is scored because I think that the offside rule is programmed a bit strangely. I’m under the impression that when a ball is going towards another player and when a player is running offside, the fault of offside is given. This is very frustrating.

After that, this game suffered another goal; making the score 7-4. This is due to the lack of options for the game. You can’t change the length of a match. When you leave a match early, you don’t get a lot of player cards and most of the times, your team automatically loses. Also, you can’t see in the history of a rival team to see how strong other players are and who to watch out for. You need to base your judgement on the stats of the players that you can only see at the start of a match. Oh well.

It can be very repetitive when you need to sit through each and every match. The 7-5 is made by the lack of “simulating” the match or just give you the result.

But, the biggest flaw of this game is the 7-6, that’s the extremely harsh difficulty curve. What I mean here is that you don’t get enough information out of the game to improve your team and find out where your team is lacking. Minusworld says that’s it’s an uphill battle sometimes.

The game can be very difficult and unforgiving sometimes, to the point that I wish there was a rollback feature. Sadly enough, this isn’t present.

The 7-7 is scored because I feel that the game doesn’t explain some mechanics enough. How do you make a player not have the “balanced” play status? What’s the best combination for a midfielder? Those things are for you to find out and you don’t get any hints for the game about this. This should have been handled better.

And that concludes the match, now it’s time to give the final analysis of this game.

Final analysis

So, due to the structure of this review, I won’t be listing off the positives and negatives like I usually do in other reviews. I’m going to close off this review with my overall thoughts on this game.

I think that this game isn’t great nor bad. The game sits somewhere in the middle for me. If I would need to give points, this game gets a 65/100 for me. While I expected more about this game, I really had a fun time trying to survive with my team and try to find out what works and what doesn’t work.

Each playthrough, you learn more about the pitfalls of the game and you learn more mechanics. While the game can be repetitive from time to time, watching those matches of your team makes the game exciting.

A very important thing to remember is something that MinusWorld also said in his article about this game. You need to remember that you aren’t 100% in control of your team. You can set the general strategy and such, but you don’t play the matches themselves. If you look at this game more as a sort of casual-ish football club manager sim than a football game, I think you will get more enjoyment out of this game.

This isn’t a bad game, but the harsh difficulty and the lack of explaining certain game mechanics can be a real deal breaker for some players. Give the demo a chance and decide then if the game is for you or not.

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

Gamer’s Thoughts: Remakes & Reboots ft. Get Good Gaming

So, today I want to take you on a different journey through my thoughts. Not too long ago, the people over at Get Good Gaming invited me to be on one of their Get Good Talks. A 30 minute long podcast talking about a certain subject. In this episode, we talked about reboots and remakes, a topic I wanted to cover in the past on my blog. Here is the actual podcast. I’m sorry for the connection issues you can hear at my end. 

It has been quite a long time since people heard my voice. But doing this podcast made me do more. So, if there are any YouTubers/podcasters reading this that do podcasts, feel free to contact me. I would be interested in doing some more podcasts.

In addition to that, I would love to expand on this topic in the future. Thanks to my friends, I have a whole list of games I could cover that are remakes or reboots.

Also, if you are interested in videos about gaming, be sure to give the channel from Get Good Gaming a look. They guys behind it are pretty nice people and I wish they get more recognition. So, go ahead and take a look, okay?

Review: Mirillis Action v2.7.3 (PC) ~ A Let’s Player Tool.

action-1Mirillis official website

So, you want one tool that can easily record your screen, your gameplay, screenshots, record only sound, stream to Twitch AND record your stream and much more? In the past, I used various tools for that, but ever since I got contacted by the developers of Mirillis Action, I uninstalled most of those tools. Was this a good idea? Is the software good enough to replace them or does the software have holes? Mirillis gave me a review code. The software is usually 30$. So, let’s get right into the review and talk about how this software performs according to me. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion and/or thoughts about the software and/or the content of the article down below.

Specs and such

Before we continue, I should say that I tested this program on two different machines. Both on my laptop I use for classes and my gaming desktop. My laptop is a Lenovo B50-80, the only modification I did was that I changed the standard 8GB RAM into 16GB RAM. I need that much RAM since I have to run 4 or more virtual machines and each VM can use up to 2-ish GB RAM each. And yeah, if I only had 8GB of RAM, I wouldn’t be able to follow the classes.

Before I tell you the specs of my gaming desktop, a computer I built myself with my uncle, I know that the graphics card isn’t the strongest or best in these modern times to play games on; but I’m happy with it. The specs of my gaming desktop are an i7-4820K CPU (3.7 GHz), GeForce GTX 660, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, 128GB Boot SSD and a 3TB HDD for my data. It’s quite a beefy PC in my opinion.

During the time I tested the software, the software updated twice. From v2.7.1 to 2.7.2 and then again to v2.7.3. While the software update crashed on my laptop when updating from v2.7.2 to v2.7.3, it ran fine on my gaming desktop. Probably a hiccup with files that were in use by Windows Update or something. Thankfully, a simple uninstall and reinstall fixed everything.

 The positive aspects.

action-3I can hear some content creator say already, why do we need this tool? What does it have over OBS Studio, which is free? I think a big plus is how clean the interface is when you compare it to OBS.

You can do a lot with OBS, but it’s all buried in menus. When I used OBS for the first time, I was quite confused how to set it up. I had to use a guide to get started. Most features of OBS are hidden in drop-down menus and that’s a real shame.

In addition to having a better-looking UI, a big advantage in Action is that you have a better indication if you are recording or not. The counter is visibly more present than in OBS Studio.

This tool is much more than a streaming and recording tool alone. You can take screenshots and benchmark as well. These are two quite handy features to have. The more I worked with the program, the more I was amazed by how handy this tool is for content creators.

Some neat features are, you can easily cap the framerate the video, you can set a length of time to record, there is a built-in video converter for the recorded videos. I think that this tool will be quite useful when I’m benchmarking a game for a review or when I want to record some gameplay footage to refer to when I’m writing a review.

Something that might make video creators quite happy is the feature that you can record your microphone audio on a separate track. So, when something happens in-game that is quite loud, you can easily edit that out without having your commentary be too silent.

If you need any help with the program, the help button is not too far away. When you use it, the program will display a very to the point help screen. If you still need more help, you have a button that will redirect you to the website with even more information to help you.

There is also support for greenscreen webcam recording. At this moment, I don’t own a good webcam or a green screen, so I wasn’t able to test out this feature. But, from what I read online; it’s pretty good.

The Action RCU app is an amazing feature, but I’ll talk about that more in depth later in the article.

The negative aspects

action-2Now that I talked about all the reasons why I would recommend this software, here are the things that I didn’t like. Keep in mind, these remarks are made about v2.7.3. It’s possible that Mirillis patch or update their software to make these remarks invalid.

When you open Action, it displays by default a box (called the HUD) of what you will record and how many frames per second it takes. The default location for this is rather annoying. It’s in the top right of your screen. While I understand that the box is more visible there, it’s quite annoying when you have apps on full screen. While clicking the box does nothing, I keep thinking it will open the program. So, I try to navigate my mouse around it. I think it would be better if it showed by default in the middle of your screen at the right-hand side. Then, I realize that you can quickly hide it with F6. So, this is a true nitpick.

Something I miss from OBS Studio is a preview of what the video is going to look like. When you boot up OBS Studio, you see what it’s going to record. This is something you don’t see with Action. So, I had to make a test video every time I tried out some new settings.

A nice feature to have is to easily move the output folders at once to another location. In the current version, you must move it feature by feature. If an option is added where you specify a folder to output and Action creates the 4 folders it needs for the output; that would be awesome.

Something that is missing from the video recording & streaming tab, is an option if you want to record system audio. I would move that option from the options menu to the streaming and video recording tab. Since it’s more useful there.

A huge incoming update

Something I wanted to quickly touch upon is that there is going to be a big update in the feature. Action 3.0 will fix almost every negative I have with the program. The new features will include things like a live preview of the video composition and an improved HUD. Let’s not forget to mention that v3 will have StreamLabs support. You can read more about it and give your own suggestions on this Facebook post.

If you already own Action v2, you will be able to freely upgrade to the v3.

The Action RCU Android App

If you have an Android phone and you are a YouTuber or streamer, you are going to love this feature! When you enable Action RCU in the options menu and install the app on your smartphone, you will be able to control parts of the program with your smartphone. Before I forget to mention it, this is a free app! Yep, free.

In the app, you will be able to start and stop recording or streaming. But not only that, you will see the program that Is recording, how much free space is on the drive you are recording too, how many FPS you have and how long you are recording.

This is an amazing additional feature. I would love to see more promotion of this feature. Since this is going to be a selling point for a lot of let’s players and streamers.

If the app gets updated with these few remarks, I think that the app would be even better.

First, I think it’s quite dangerous that you can connect with any computer without giving a password. I think it would a good idea that you must enter a preset password before the connection is made. This password can be set in the program itself in the options menu. This would avoid annoying roommates stopping your recording without you knowing it. Or let the program pair your smartphone with the program and smartphones that aren’t paired, block them until they are paired.

Second, I couldn’t connect at first to my computer. After a bit a troubleshooting, I found out that some firewalls are blocking the app. I use Avast Internet Security now on my gaming desktop. Right after I made the connection, I can enable Avast again and the firewall doesn’t interfere with the app. There is a solution for this. You can whitelist the program in Avast and the problems will stop. On my laptop, I use Avira Free and Windows Firewall and that didn’t have any problems when I allowed it in the Windows Firewall settings.

Third, I think it would be amazing if a button is added in the app to mute the microphone. In addition to that, possibly a “light” that changes when the microphone is active or not.

Four, this might possibly in the pipeline; but create an iOS and Windows Phone version of this feature. Since the smartphone market is more than Android alone. The developers told me that they will first develop a MAC version of the program before they port the app to iOS. This is planned to start production next year.

Update 28/09: so, there is an iOS version of the app. There will be a version for MAC of the actual program possibly next year. Still, I would love to see a version for Windows Phones.

Five, if a limited record time is set, I think it would be lovely to have a countdown timer of some sorts too.

Six, add a screenshot button! Seriously, one that will be something useful to make thumbnails without having to search around in the video afterward.

And last, why not display the key(s) you need to press to pause the recording also in the app?

Apart from the first two remarks, the other remarks are just additions to improve the app and make it more powerful and even more useful than it already is.

Conclusion

Would I recommend this program? Without any doubt in my mind, I would. This program is already a great tool but with some additional features based on the remarks I raised in this article, I think this program can compete with major names like OBS Studio or DXTory. Besides, the program has more features than DXTory and is cheaper.

This powerful tool is cheap in my opinion and I’m glad that Mirillis Team contacted me to look at their software. Since now I’m a proud owner of a great piece of software that’s going to prove useful in class when I record how to enter commands to configure routers and switches but it’s also going to prove useful to create screenshots for my articles.

The program is already worth the asking price, but it can only grow and improve. The developers update this program quite often, so it’s going to only get better from here on out! In my opinion, this is one of the best recording tools out there right now.

There are a lot more than this program can do, so if this program sounds interesting to you; go and check it out. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this program. Time to wrap up this article.

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!

First Impression: Dragon Quest VIII – Journey of the Cursed King (PS2) ~ Let’s Go Forward!

Dragon_Quest_VIII_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King

Wikipedia entry

So, I have something to admit, I actually wanted to talk about this game last summer. But, I wrote about other games and this game got on my “to review” list. Let’s fix that today. Let’s talk about the journey of the cursed king. A journey I own on two different systems. Yes, this game got a remake for the 3DS. But, I haven’t played a lot of the 3DS remake, so I’m going to look at the PS2 version. Oh, if you are wondering what the differences are between this version and the 3DS remake, RPGSite.net wrote a great piece about it. In any case, that’s enough rambling. Let’s get this first impression started since I haven’t beaten the whole game. For this review, I am give or take 25% through the story. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article and/or the game.

Direct story

153107-Dragon_Quest_-_The_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King_(Europe,_Australia)_(En,Fr,De,Es,It)-3

In most RPG’s I played, the story mostly starts with a peaceful setting and then something big happens and the world needs to be saved. Yet, this story starts out a bit more “humble”.

You start looking for a jester that cursed the king and the princess into a monster and a horse. If you want to know what happened before that, you have to read the manual. So far, the story is very enjoyable. The writing is great and the voice acting is really great. But for a better analysis of the story, I think I have to get further into the game.

The gameplay of this game is a good but it has some flaws. In this game, there are random encounters. In some cases, there is an overkill of random encounters. I had several times where each 5 to 10 steps I took, got me in a random battle. Thankfully, the 3DS version fixes this with showing the enemies in the overworld so you can avoid them if you want.

Yet, it isn’t a great idea to avoid them at all, at least all the time. Since not only does the game keeps a counter with how many times you fled a battle, you will need all the experience you can get. This game can be quite hard and you will have to grind if you want to survive.

So, you will have to get yourself a lot of healing items before you can fight bosses and enter into caves. I recommend that you at least raise 2-3 levels before you venture into a new area. Also, explore each area as much as you can. Since there are a lot of side quests that might help you on your journey and make the grinding less repetitive.

Orchestral

150531-Dragon_Quest_VIII_-_Journey_of_the_Cursed_King_(USA)-9

I want to touch upon a few things that could have improved the game. I seriously miss a run button. Sometimes, I feel that you walk so slow and getting somewhere takes a bit too long.

Another thing that I don’t really like about this game is the inventory system. For certain tasks, it takes too many steps to preform. Like moving an item from the central inventory to a characters inventory. At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the split inventories but after a while, I learned to appriciate it. It adds realism into the game, since you can give certain characters items to help them in battle, like your allies are carrying a bit of the resources on your journey. But it also adds a layer of strategy. To whom do you give healing items and such.

Something that didn’t need any improvement is the soundtrack. Why is the soundtrack in this game so good? I mean, running around the open fields exploring the world with an amazing orchestral soundtrack, what’s not to love. On top of that, visually, this game looks amazing. I had several times that I just stopped moving and looked around. This game looks amazing and still holds up today.

You venture through various locations that each have an unique feel. Not only that, in some cases, you can play as the pet mouse of the main character and let it run around in buildings to open locked doors or to get more information about a certain quest.

If you have forgotten what your main quest was, you can always ask your team mates when you press the “Start” button. With this, I think it’s a great time to talk about the controls. They are great, the only complaint I have is that the menu button isn’t the start button. But, this nitpick might be because my brain is hardwired by handheld games.

Spoiled by 3DS

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So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game a whole lot. Like I said, this game looks and sounds amazing. If you have any doubt, I also mean the animations too, they are great as well.

The only thing I lack sometimes is a sort of ingame map. Maybe I have looked over it, but there isn’t any map to speak off. I’m somebody who easily gets distracted and looses their way easily. So, I use the in-game map to navigate. Also, I’m bad in remembering names like street names, town names and things like that. It’s so bad sometimes that I forget the streetnames of the neighbouring streets of the street I live at. Yeah. So, an in-game map with names would be so lovely. That’s why I “cheat” sometimes and have an overworld map open on my tablet if I need to take a quick look at it. But only the overworld map.

Like I said various times in this first impression, I think that this game is great but the 3DS improved on a lot of things. It also added additional content. But, why don’t I play it on the 3DS then? Well, for two reasons. My first reason is that I owned this game on PS2 first and I gotten to far and didn’t want to restart. And my second reason is that I think this game looks a bit better on a bigger screen than the 3DS screen.

So far, this game has a high score in my book. But, due to the high random encounter rate, the need for griding and the sometimes slow flow of the game; I have to get in the right mindset but I can play this game. But if I do play the game, I have play sessions that clock in at 3 hours or more each time I boot this game up. That’s why I haven’t gotten too far in this game in over a year. According to some sources, you can get over 100 hours of gameplay out of this game, so I have a long away ahead of me if I want to complete this game.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. If I ever beat this game, I will write a review about it. But for now, I have to thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

My TOP 10 games of 2016 – Part 1: 10 – 6

2016.jpgJust wow, 2016 flew by so fast. I barely noticed that December started. So, it’s time to look back on a great year in my life. 2016 was something else. Both on my blog and in my personal life, a lot of things happened that will make 2016 extremely special to me. In my opinion, it’s one of the best years I had so far. So, this week I want to take a look at the bottom 5 games of my top 10 games  I played this year. Oh, one major footnote here. These games are games I started this year. If I started or played a game in another year, it’s not on my list. Also, since I play a lot of retro games, the games on this list didn’t have to be released in 2016! In any case, enough stalling with this intro. It’s time to take a look at a difficult to make top 10!

 #10: Ratchet And Clank (PS2)

RachetandClankOriginalPS2Cover

First impression article

Past summer, I took two weeks off from work and I was home alone. In those two weeks; I chilled, updated my blog, worked on some personal things, watched some anime, spent some time with friends and family and above all… I played a lot of games.

My goal was mostly to play the games I had bought in the last years at garage sales but never really gave a chance. One of the best titles I played in that summer was Ratchet and Clank.

This game is a platformer, but honestly, I don’t really like platformers all that much. So, it’s double surprising to me I enjoyed it that much. I haven’t finished the game just yet, but I’m planning to do that in the near future! Also, I heard a lot of good things about the sequels of this game, so I’m looking forward to playing those. Now, I have to look for a copy of the second game in the original trilogy since I don’t own that one. So, I can’t wait to continue to play this enjoyable and charming game.

 #9: Lego City Undercover (Wii U)

lego_city_undercover10Article on the 3DS sequel

Back in 2013, I watched a let’s play of this game. I watched it from the first episode to the last episode. I enjoyed it that much that I decided to go and buy the game… Three years later. The main reason that I delayed my purchase was because I knew all the plot details and I thought that I wouldn’t have as much fun with the game when I bought it. So, three years later, I see the game at my local game shop for 10€ and I thought to myself, why not.

So, when I returned home, I started playing this game and honestly, I enjoyed myself a whole lot. Thanks to the open nature of this game, I can explore and play the game how I want. And I discover new things and have a unique experience.

I’m halfway through the game and I dare to say that this is one of my most favorite Lego games I have ever played. The humor and charm of this game are just so well made, I have a tough time putting this game down. Here and there I play for a few minutes and those quickly turn into a play session of two or three hours. So, yeah. Oh, and during the play sessions of this game, various memories come back of me watching the playthrough. This game is so worth it to play it!

 #8: Rise Of The Tomb Raider (PC)

2000900263Link to my review of this game

So, this year a sequel came out of the reboot of the Tomb Raider games. The Tomb Raider franchise is one of my favorite franchises ever made. Since they are an amazing adventure and exploration games. I love exploring caves and having a big kick-ass adventure. It’s one of the reasons why I’m thinking about upgrading my video card.

But this game has personal meaning for me too. I reviewed this game to celebrate my 3rd year of blogging on this blog and my 6th year of blogging.

If you want to know my thoughts about this game, I recommend that you read my review of it. Since I go more in depth on this game in that article.

But this game is one kickass ride and I can’t wait until my desktop is fixed later this month so I can start playing the DLC and finish up this game. But seriously, this game is one of the most kickass games I have played all year. It’s only surpassed by one…

 #7: Mirror’s Edge – Catalyst (PC)

mirrors-edge-catalyst-pc-pc-boxTalking about the original

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is one of the first games that nearly flew under my radar. If I didn’t check the pre-order list in one of my local game stores, I might have missed the release of this game completely.

Now, if you know me, I’m very bad at parkour. So, now you might wonder why I play Mirror’s Edge and it’s sequel. Well, that’s quite simple actually, the gameplay is just amazing.

I have gotten quite far into this game, but then the problems with my desktop started happening. Sadly enough, when your PC shuts down and you haven’t saved in this game, your save file corrupts and you have to start over from the beginning. So, yeah. When I get my fixed desktop back, I’ll surely start playing this game again.

Playing this game gave me a liberating feeling. I started improving my parkour skills and I started to miss fewer jumps. Even outside this game, I started improving in the parkour sections. After I played this game for over 10 hours, I was convinced. This kick-ass game had to get a spot in my top 10 games I played in 2016! So, that’s why it’s here. It’s just a very enjoyable game in my opinion and it gets a recommendation from me!

#6: Rayman Legends (Wii U)

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Link to the review

Each year, we do a secret Santa in my family. This game was on my wishlist. Honestly, I had hoped that I got one of the other games on my wishlist. Since this game didn’t interest me that much.

But, when I got it as a New Years present, I was happy and thankful that I got it. But, the moment I started playing it with my friends, then… my whole opinion changed.

The game started to grow on me. The charm, the visuals, the gameplay, the excellent use of the gamepad and the soundtrack are just a few things that make this game great. Honestly, I think that this version of the game is one of the best to play with friends. Since you have two playstyles that perfectly complement each other.

The most fun with this game, I had on my trip to Germany this year. The countless soccer matches we had, the adventure through the whole game, the music levels and so much more. The memories with this game are going to stay with me for a while! So, playing this game is truly worth it!

The end of part 1

Oh yes, the top 5 games I played in 2016 is even harder for me to make. But, you will have to wait until next week in order to find out which ones I think were the best games I have played in this year.

I’m so disappointed that 2016 is nearly at an end. Since this year wasn’t only filled with great games and amazing things for my blog, it was also filled with a lot of amazing personal things. Just scroll through my Twitter feed and you will see why.

In any case, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing this! 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.

 The rest of the list can be found here

I’m Back! Sort of…

Hi everyone! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything on this blog. It’s been over half a year… The last post I made was THIS ONE in which I was talking  about the next step forward for me. So if you’re interested in what I’ve been up to, read on!

I’ll be honest in saying that my reasons for writing this are twofold. Firstly it’s because I think some of you might be interested. Recently, when talking to NekoJonez, he told me some of my articles are still being read, so that’s what drove me to write about this. The second reason, though, is a little bit of self-promotion, I guess. It’s something I’m not a big fan of doing, but I understand that it is hard to attract people to a starting YouTube and Twitch channel, so I’d like to take advantage of that, so I hope some of you are willing to at least check us out.

My cousin and me have been gaming together for the better part of a decade now and we always knew we wanted to do something online, but never really knew what. Last year, I went over to his home to play some games together, as he had jus bought an NES and SNES with a whole bunch of games. We had so much fun, we figured it was time to actually go online and do something with games.

It took a few months before these plans came to fruition, but they eventually did and so far I’m pleased with the results. A mutual friend of ours has also joined us for some of the videos, mostly our Twitch streams, so there’s three of us at the moment. We chose the name Dos Cosinos, which is sort of fake Spanish for “two cousins”. I think it’s even funnier now there are three of us and he’s not related ^^

Now for those who might be interested in what we created, I’ll put links to our YouTube and Twitch channels below, but mind you: everything is in Dutch. This is a deliberate choice. We know this limits our audience tremendously, but it’s a concious decision. We are also aware that some of the material we created is still pretty rough, but we’re constantly trying to improve, so forgive us for now.

As I said at the beginning of this article, it is very hard to get your content noticed, but I hope that some of you will be interested. We’re trying to do a few things differently and we are well aware that some of the choices we make, make it harder for us to get attention. We’re not fans of the quick-cut editing some vloggers and Let’s Players use, so our videos are usually longer and less “cut”. We also don’t like how most people beg for likes, comments and subscriptions in their video (usually at the end). It’s an effective strategy, I know, but we want people to do those things of their own volition and not because we told them to.

So, if you’re interested, you can find us on YouTube & TWITCH. Also on TWITTER.
We recently did an E3 podcast, for example.

Thanks if you do, don’t worry if you don’t.

Cheers

 

MrLiamMills

eSports – What’s The Big Deal?

What I’m about to write today will differ from the content I usually write. The reason for this is that I was asked recently what my opinions were on eSports. Hence this article.

This article is inspired by the following image. Link

I usually write about things I like or dislike, which is why it has been so hard for me to write this article. My stance towards eSports is quite… indifferent. That being said, eSports are gaining more and more ground.

It’s well documented that the gaming industry brings in more revenue than the music industry, or even the film industry. Gaming extends beyond your classic triple-A titles and even indie games. It also entails mobile games and social games, like those found on Facebook and other social media.

As such, games reach a wide audience. Somewhat surprising, perhaps, is that in recent years watching people play video games has become so popular. People love watching streams on Twitch or “Let’s Plays” on YouTube, and those numbers grow each passing year.

Maybe, keeping that in mind, it’s no wonder how the world of eSports is booming. We see more and more different kinds of games used in official eSports tournaments, but it is striking that the most popular games are MOBA’s and strategy games.

League of Legends and DOTA 2 are incredibly popular, as is Smite, though perhaps to a lesser extent. Star Craft 1 & 2 are still very popular, especially in Asian markets. Other genres are also represented, but to a far lesser extent than the ones mentioned before.

We still see first person shooters and fighting games being used, but not
as much. It might be because those rely mostly on skill, whereas strategy games and MOBA’s require a blend of skill and logical thinking.

Last year, the DOTA 2 championships had a prize pool of eleven million dollars. These events, which are often sponsored by big-name brands, deal with huge amounts of money. Viewer-ship for eSports is even surpassing the “actual sports” championships. More than double the amount of people that watched the MLB world series, watched the League of Legends World Championship. Even the NBA finals don’t come close to those numbers.

Earlier this year, viewers of ESPN 2 complained about eSports being broadcast. It’s apparent that these kinds of events are gaining a lot of ground, so much so that they’re slowly, but surely becoming part of everyday society. As with all change, opposition is to be expected, but I think it’s a good thing that gaming is becoming part of mainstream culture.

I think gaming as an art form, and a form of entertainment, still has a long way to go. But we’re getting there. I firmly believe one day it’ll be as prevalent and universally accepted as film is today.

Most people watching and playing games today are young people. Approximately 80% of people involved in gaming are male and under 35, but that is slowly changing. People who started gaming in the ’80’s are getting older and having children of their own, who in turn might be interested in video games.

And perhaps the ubiquity of games available on mobile and social platforms is a new gateway for people who might not ever have touched a video game otherwise. So while I personally don’t have much interest in eSports, I cannot deny its influence in recent years. As I see it, this will only continue to grow.

Rant: Let’s go mobile – please no.

Mobile-Gaming-600This rant might come as a surprise. I also write articles about mobile games and now I’m going to actually talk bad about it. I read an article today and something snapped inside of me. Something just made me sigh so hard, I almost blew over my nearly empty can of soda. I just realized something that will be a grave danger if we didn’t talk about it. Even if this might seem nonsense to you, I’m quite afraid it might happen. Feel free to discuss this in the comments, I’m kind of curious what you guys think. Warning: this rant has been written when I was a bit angry and disappointing by the news I open the next paragraph with. Just a heads up, m’kay. It might be not written as good as I usually write. 

Layton and Fantasy Life sequels go mobile.

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Thank you Kotaku for sharing my opinion. I simply can’t believe that Level5 is making this idiotic move. I have a lot of respect for Level5, since they made some amazing titles. But jumping on the mobile cash train is just making me sad. Extremely sad.

Apart from that, Nintendo is also moving mobile after a lot of complaints. I’m extremely afraid that they might do something stupid as well.

I could rant about how disappointed I am about this, but it might be better to explain why I feel like that actually. There is something going on in the mobile market that is really not good for us gamers.

Moving to mobile

logo_samaxreviewsmovies

When I browse the app store lately, I notice that big titles like Final Fantasy and Fifa are appearing on the mobile market. This business scheme is just insulting in my eyes.

Why? Simply because those games don’t belong on the mobile market. At all. Since mobile games are meant as timewasters at the doctor’s office or waiting for a bus. Games that work well on mobile are games that are easy to understand and play. Games that have a simple idea behind them. That’s why Candy Crush is doing so well.

I’m quite sure that some people will disagree with me on this. They will try to prove that I’m wrong with examples of games that did well on the mobile platform. A game that actually did well on mobile platforms is Minecraft Pocket Edition. But then again, it’s a game you can enjoy in short bursts and it’s something excellent to do while you are waiting on something.

Why don’t triple A games belong on the mobile market? One reason is, that a tablet and phones aren’t meant to have long gameplay sessions on. Tablets where originally a decent alternative to a laptop for business men. But phones, they just aren’t meant for it. Think about it, you can’t call somebody because your battery died because you played too much games on it.

Also, because people want to use their phones more and more to do stuff on, where actually a tablet or a laptop is made for, the sizes of a phone gets… just out of proportion. I have seen phones that barely can fit in a pocket.

Target groups

My biggest issue is the fact that the people who play games on their mobile phones are a different group who play games on their consoles, handhelds and/or computers. When I see people play games on Facebook and their phones, I rarely see them play games on a handheld. Also, when I look to most of my friends who play games on consoles and other devices, I rarely see them play games on mobile phone. It’s because most people who play games on their mobile phones aren’t that interested in games to begin with.

I could try to explain it, but let me prove my point. When I went to Minecon a few years ago, the people who played Minecraft Pocket Edition had a separate room. Most of the people there were young mothers, males that did a lot of sport or very young children.

Or another example, the more popular games that started on mobile, get their way onto Steam, handhelds and/or consoles. Weird isn’t it?

Before I forget to mention it, the fact that you have no buttons to play with feels so awkward to me. Not only that, what you see on the screen then depends on the size of your fingers as well. Not only that, when you are in a situation where you need to do some sort of quick action, buttons are just better. Since you can press them and it’s harder to press them by accident.

No tablet for me

So, I’m already seeing some comments in my head. But if it’s on a tablet, it might be better to play on since your fingers take up less space or you can plug in a keyboard.

1379515873Hold the Android there. (Little phone pun, sorry.) First of all, I agree with the argument of the tablet being a better size to play games on. I honestly think that mobiles shouldn’t be powerful enough to play games like Delver or Fifa on.

But the argument of being able to plug in a keyboard or a controller is just, well, it makes for a whole different experience. Out of that idea we got tablet-laptop hybrids and a console named the Ouya.

I actually own a tablet. I use it to watch video’s on when I’m on a trip or in bed and I can’t sleep. It makes less noise and it’s lighter to carry then a laptop. In the end, I actually prefer a laptop.

Anyways, I think I’m going to wrap this one up. It felt quite nice to blow off some steam about this. It’s possible that I look back at this article later and my opinion might be different, but I think that the big triple A games shouldn’t go towards mobile platforms. If anything, they should rename it to “tablet platforms”. Since then my arguments about phones have less meaning.

So yeah, I might write more about this subject but in any case, I hope you found this interesting. While I could have written this when I was more calm and collected about the subject, I feel that, as a writer and creative person, you should allow yourself to publish something you created when you were in a different mood. But that’s a whole other subject. Take care and until the next article. I already have something in mind. ~