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Review: Yokai Watch (3DS) ~ Insprited Articles

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Official website

I bought this game on release date. But due to various reasons, I have never beaten this game. Also, I was quite sure that I reviewed this game back in 2016. Strangely enough, I didn’t. So, now that I have beaten the game since last week, I think it’s HIGH time to put my opinion into words and write them down into a review. Did I enjoy Yo-Kai Watch or were the breaks because I thought that this game is a broken mess. Well, let’s find out together. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Is this Pokémon?

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In this game, you play as Nathan. A young boy wandering in the woods while he is collecting bugs. Then he stumbles upon a machine with a crank. He puts in a coin and out comes a Pokéball with a strange creature—

While at first glance, it’s easy to compare this game to Pokémon looking at the screenshots and things like that. But let me tell you, this game is quite different from Pokémon.

So, the story. Out of the gashapon machine, Nathan gets a capsule that gives him the Yo-Kai Watch. With this watch, he can see different creatures roaming around in the city causes various issues from the people living there.

If you don’t already know what Yo-Kai is, let me briefly explain it to you. These monsters are based on Japanese folklore. These are phantoms curse people to give them a big temper, a bad hair day, unable to lie… That’s the real basic gist of it. At least, how they are used in this game. If you want to learn more about Yokai, the Wikipedia page is a great way to start.

Now, one thing I do have to say is that this game is structured like an anime series. There are various chapters wherein you learn about something strange going on, discovering that it’s Yo-Kai activity and then you solve it. I know that the story is written for younger kids to get into, but to be frank and honest, I found the story a bit bland. Mediocre even from time to time. Especially the ending is a mess. There was too little build-up to the overall final boss of the game and to be honest, the game ends abruptly.

This doesn’t take away that the dialogues can be very funny from time to time. It does pull off some jokes you have seen more than once in cartoons, but that doesn’t matter too much to me. Even with this bland story, it was able to put a smile on my face from time to time.

While I’m still a bit bitter that the credits froze for me and I had to redo the final boss fight over, I find the scene after the credits so; predictable. I can understand a younger child getting invested in the story, but most of the time, it didn’t click with me.

While I had beaten the main story at 18 hours, I had also beaten a lot of side quests. This game is pretty short and can be beaten in a day or two. Now, I have played short experiences that I enjoyed an awful lot, so I’m not going to be too harsh on the game for that reason. Besides, if you play all the side quests and try to complete this game, you are well into a game that will last you give or take 80 hours.

Too old?

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While I was playing this game, I became well aware that I wasn’t the target audience for this game whatsoever. While this game has a type system set up with Yo-Kai being weak or strong to another type… and things similar like that, I rarely had to use items to power up my Yo-Kai.

Now, this game is a sort of adventure RPG game. You are allowed to freely explore the city to solve side quests and favors.

Sidenote, I don’t understand why they split side quests and favors since they are basically the same thing. Oh well.

During your exploration of the city, you can find various Yo-Kai roaming around the city. Under cars, under vending machines, in trees, in the water… They are everywhere in this game. Yet, always at similar spots. So, if your watch, that functions as a radar, picks up the aura of a nearby Yo-Kai, you know which spots to look at.

That’s the case for the overworld. You also have various caves and dungeons you can explore. In here, you see the Yo-Kai roaming free. You can easily pass most of them, but thanks to your very limited stamina, you will be unable to outrun them all.

Now, there are a lot of mechanics in this game that is underused in my opinion. What I mean here is that there is just no real need for some features. For example, the fusion of Yo-Kai is just additional content for the people who want to complete the game. In my playthrough, I was able to beat the final boss with ease without any fusion Yo-Kai.

There is a lot to do in this game, but I never felt I had to do it to progress in the game. Even without any leveling up, I was able to beat the harder areas. Yes, I’m saying that this game is pretty easy.

This could have been solved by introducing a difficulty option where veteran players could face a bigger challenge since the potential is there. I really enjoyed exploring and finding secret items all over the place.

Something I found a bit disappointing is when you start tackling various side quests near the end of the game instead of at the start of the game… Well, I almost always carried the items needed to solve the quest or favor. Or my  Yokai were so strong that I was able to easily beat the Yokai in the quest.

I would have loved to see a sort Yokai-dex system in this game. Like a Pokédex where you can check the area’s and things, you need to do to require their medal.

I know I might upset some people with this, but I found the battle system pretty lacking. I understand that it innovates on quite a lot of areas but, I find it a bit boring. The big issue is that you get too much money from battling Yokai & your Yokai level up way too quickly. Making them too strong so you barely have to use the special abilities of your Yokai.

Speaking about those, I found it pretty frustrating that whenever you purified a Yokai or started their special attack, the game would wait a few moments before the actual attack launches. The few waiting moments were, oh, so annoying. I wish they change that in the sequel.

Something I really dislike now is the map system. I already started playing the sequel to this game and the map system is improved so much in the sequel, I find this system pretty annoying to use. You can’t put a tracking arrow on side quests, the buildings aren’t labeled in the minimap and you are only able to see the map of the region you are in. This is improved in the sequel, so they learned their lesson there.

Another mechanic that is more fleshed out in the sequel is the “recruit” tactic. The way how you befriend other Yokai. This has been made a lot easier in the sequel. Now it’s a guessing game on which Yokai wants what. Also, I found it annoying that you weren’t able to choose which enemy Yokai to feed to try and recruit them. -sigh-

A city

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Now, I could go on for quite a while longer about the gameplay; but there are other things we need to talk about in the review. For example, you can save your game anywhere from the pause menu. This game doesn’t autosave, so keep that in mind.

Visually, the presentation of this game is pretty good. I really like the design of the city and enjoyed exploring it.

There are a few things that could have been improved design-wise. First of all, the crossroad mechanic. This is dumb. There is this mechanic in the game where you need to wait for the light to turn green to cross. If you cross red lights too many times, a big Oni will come and wipe out your party. Now, there are no consequences for losing this fight. So, if you want to teach kids a lesson to watch both ways before crossing a street,  you aren’t going to do it with this.

In addition to that, most of the time, all roads didn’t have any cars. While I know that they exist and drive around on the streets, but I barely saw them. So, I crossed the streets away from the cross roads. Besides, the cars do stop for you without any penalty. So, yeah. Unless mechanic.

Near the end of the game, you unlock a quick travel mechanic. Yet, you do have to “unlock” each travel point. I can see why they did it like this, but I would have preferred that I had all travel points unlocked from the start.

Now, the soundtrack got a lot of praise from various other reviews. And I’m sorry, I don’t like it. I don’t hate the soundtrack either. The big issue is that it fits the theme quite well in the game but I don’t like listing to it outside of the game. In a matter of fact, I switched to a different soundtrack while writing this review. The biggest issue I have with the soundtrack is that the same melody comes back in too many tracks. That’s something I don’t like at all.

The sound design and the various voice clips are good. I enjoyed them. Each time I think about this game, I hear “PAWS OF FURRY” often in my head.

Now, something I find a mixed bag is the mini-scenes you get at the end of each side quest. I can see that some of them are fun for little children, but I hate the fact that they are randomized. Some of them are negative and don’t give you a bonus and others give you a huge bonus. But, the pool of usable cutscenes is too small. I have seen a ton of scenes too many times that I know after one second if I’m going to get a reward or not.

In terms of the controls and the UI, this game is very good. There is one mechanic that I really dislike, but I’m happy that it’s in the game and I don’t want to see it get changed. That is the running mechanic. You run way too quickly out of stamina. Also, while you are running and you want to turn, your character first goes into a break animation before you bolt into the other direction.

This game can be controlled with the buttons on the 3DS and the touchscreen. Personally, I prefer the buttons. Since I felt more in control with them. While, actually, the touchscreen controls are handier. That way you don’t have to take your stylus each and every time you enter a battle.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left a few things out to surprise you if you decide to play this game. But, I think it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

Negatives:

– The game is too easy for veterans players.

– There are too many mechanics underused.

– The crosswalk mechanic is just meh.

– The soundtrack repeats the same melody a bit too much.

– The story is a bit too bland from time to time.

Postives:

+ Big postgame.

+ Really pretty game.

+ Even when the story is bland, the writing can be really funny sometimes.

+ …

Conclusion:

So, this game is a kids game and it shows. But does that mean it’s a bad game? No, not at all. This game can be really fun from time to time, but it really shows that this game has flaws. This game isn’t worth 90/100 that some outlets are giving it.

I think it’s best that, if you are interested in playing this game, give this game a shot. There is a demo in the eShop, you can play that first before you decide to buy the full game.

I can recommend this game but don’t set your bar too high. The game is very lighthearted and remember, it’s a kids game so some parts will be easy if you are a hardcore gamer.

Thankfully, a lot of the issues I have with this game are solved in the sequel. But even with all the issues talked about in this review, the game is fun to play and I’m glad that I experienced it. Now, on to the sequel to finish that one!

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

Score: 69/100

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Gamer’s Thoughts: My Top 10 Games I played in 2017

XOXOIt’s that time of year again, the year is near its end and various websites are looking back at the games released this year. It’s about time that I do the same but in the Jonez’ way of doing things. So, how does this work? Well, if you have read my previous articles where I looked back at the year, you might know this already. Otherwise, here is how it works. I’m a game collector and I often go to garage sales. I honestly prefer buying my games that way instead of buying the newest and latest release. That means I played a lot of older games too. So, in my top 10 games, I played in 2017 are the games I played in 2017, no matter the release date. The biggest rule is that I had to start playing the game in 2017. If I started playing this game in 2016 or earlier, it doesn’t count. The list for this year has been quite a difficult list to put together. I have played so many amazing games, I had to scrap so many games. In any case, enough introduction time. Time to get this article started.

 Place 10: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle And The Millionaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

layton lady katrielle mystery journeySomething I saw a long time coming was that there would be a new character introduced to continue the Layton series. What I didn’t expect was that it would be Layton’s daughter. While the gameplay takes a bit of a turn, it’s still a Layton game at its core with more and shorter stories.

While it isn’t the first Layton spin-off that was released in the series, it’s one of the first multiplatform games in the series. So, I’m wondering how the rest of the series will continue. Shall we see more Layton games on Nintendo platforms or will Layton shift to the mobile platform? If you would ask me, I think a multiplatform release will work just fine. Since I think that the Layton games should be enjoyed by more people.

It’s an amazing brain teaser. Thanks to the charm of the writing and characters, you can get easily invested in the story. In addition to that, it helps to keep one of my favorite genres alive and that is the adventure visual novel game. The Layton games contain a big story you can delve into, and I love it for that. While it’s not my favorite series in the genre, it comes pretty close. Thank you Level5 for creating this series and I can’t wait to see where you will take it next. Since I heard a new Layton game is under development for the Nintendo Switch.

Place 9: Ever Oasis (3DS) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

Ever OasisA new IP from Nintendo? Why, yes, please! When I saw the trailer for the first time, I remember that I directly surfed to the website of my local game store to see if I would be able to pre-order the game. Sadly enough, I wasn’t able to do so at that time. When I was able to pre-order the game a few months later, I didn’t think twice.

When I finally got my hands on it, the game didn’t disappoint. I really think that this new IP will be interesting for Nintendo. I honestly hope that they don’t let this game be a one-off thing since this game has a lot of potentials to turn into an amazing new series.

Somehow, I even see a crossover with the Zelda series working perfectly. Since it was a sort of desert-themed Zelda game in my opinion. If they ever make a sequel, I wish that they expand more on the Oasis side of things, I wish there were more interactions with my villagers of my oasis.

But hey, if this is a Fata Morgana or an actual new series by Nintendo, that remains to be seen. Maybe in 2018, we get an HD remake on the Switch for all we know.

Place 8: Etriann Odyssey Untold Stories 2 – The Fafnir Knight (3DS) (Original release: 2014)

First Impression

EO2UI have nominated the Etrian Odyssey games for my top 10 games I played in earlier years. Even while a new entry in the series released here this year in the west, I haven’t played it yet. I do own a copy.

I have to admit that I haven’t beaten an Etrian Odyssey game, but I have to say that I have gotten quite far into this game. The story is very enjoyable and I want to finish it in the near future. Actually, I’m thinking about making one of my goals in 2018, finishing an Etrian Odyssey game. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the game I will finish first will be this one.

I just enjoy creating my own maps while I’m exploring the dungeons and labyrinths this game throws at me. I really feel invested because it’s my own maps helping me further into the dungeon instead of a pre-made map. I always see people doing it in a different way, but I do it my way and that’s the way how I like to play games.

Place 7: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U) (Original release: 2015)

First Impression

Tokyo mirage sessionsThis game really surprised me when I first started playing it this summer. While I’m on my summer holidays, I tend to take some time off blogging and work to actually play a lot of games and watch a lot of anime.

Yet, this year, I did write a lot of articles and I played a lot of just one game. I played a lot of Tokyo Mirage Sessions on my Wii U. While I’m nearly half beating the game, my game time is way past that. Since I paused the game when I was eating, went to the bathroom and once or twice when I went to sleep. Apparently, those moments keep adding to the overall game time.

In any case, I really enjoyed this game. If that isn’t clear and you need more proof; if a crossover makes me decide that I need to collect more games from both series, I think the crossover succeeded in its goal.

I really want to see how both series play. While I have a pretty good idea how Fire Emblem plays, since I own a couple of Fire Emblem games, I do want to know how Sin Megami Tensei plays. But, thank you so much Tokyo Mirage Sessions for making my summer that more enjoyable with your game!

Place 6: Corpse Party: Blood Drive (Android) (Original release: 2014, PS Vita version)

First Impression

corpse-party-apkAt this moment, I don’t own a PS Vita. But, there were a few games I wanted to buy a Vita for. Now, there is one game I wanted a Vita for and that is Corpse Party BloodDrive. To my surprise, this game was ported this year to Android and iOS. It also got released not too far from my birthday.

I didn’t know about this until Halloween came around. At this moment, I noticed an image on my store home page that looked a lot like Corpse Party. When I tapped on the icon, I was surprised by a Japanese name of the game and then the English title with English looking screenshots. At first, I thought that it was a port of the original game I have on PC and 3DS.

To my surprise, it was a port of the PS Vita game, BloodDrive. I haven’t bought a game quicker on the Android Play Store than that game. I really want to see how the story of Corpse Party continued after the cliffhanger in “Book Of Shadows”.

At this moment, I’m over halfway done with the game and I really want to finish it. I can’t wait to see how the game continues to twist and turn. But, I’ll soon find out, since I started to play this game again.

Place 5: Project Zero – Maiden of the Blackwater (Fatal Frame 5) (Wii U) (Original release: 2014)

First Impression

project zeroLike I said in my article, I’m not that fond of scary games. This game is one of the first 3D horror games I enjoyed quite a lot. This horror game surprises me since it’s able to give me unlimited ammo to defend myself and it’s still scary. The atmosphere, pacing and world building is all so believable.

One time, I played this game right before I went to sleep. The nightmares I had that night were so bad, I decided I didn’t want to play this game without lights on. Yet, I flick that light switch to off when I’m playing this game. The atmosphere is just a lot better thanks to it.

I’m still thankful to the person who decided to sell their intact collector’s edition in my local game store. This way I was able to pick it up second hand. I admit, I collected some dust on my shelves for like a month, but then I decided that I wanted to play some new games I bought in 2017 and started up this game.

What a great decision! Now that I have a new TV with an HDMI-input, which is bigger than my computer monitor, I get pulled even more into the game. So, beware Maiden of the Blackwater, here I come to take a picture of you. Make sure that I can make a photograph from your good side, okay?

Place 4: Oneshot (Steam Release) (PC) (Original release: 2016)

OneShot_cover_artI discovered this game through a video from one of my favorite YouTubers, NitroRad. When I saw that this game got released on Steam, I decided to buy it and give it a shot myself.

I wasn’t disappointed. It actually broke the 4th wall in some many creative ways. I’m not going to talk about it too much since it will spoil the surprises in the game. But believe me, this game can do some crazy things that blew my mind from time to time.

The game was first a free indie title, that you could one play once. Therefore it got the name “OneShot”. But now that it’s a commercial product, they had to ditch that idea. While they didn’t ditch it 100%, the way how they solved it was amazing.

After I had beaten this game, I really want another game with similar concepts and new puzzles. But, if this game will never come, I’m glad that I was able to experience OneShot and I’m happy to spread the love and recommend this game again. I decided that I’m not going to write a review nor an article about it, since talking or revealing too much will get into spoiler territory way too quickly. Know that the game needs to be played on PC and that you will have to think outside of the box to solve some puzzles. Or if you want to see more, feel free to check out the videos on it made by NitroRad. While he shows off a bit of the start, most of the surprises in this game aren’t spoiled at all.

To save you some time, here is a link to his video.

Place 3: Outlaws (PC) (Original release: 1997)

Review of the game

250px-OutlawsLucasArtsBoxCoverI go to a big garage sale each and every year; well, I picked up this game boxed for like 2€. It was the final game I bought. I caught it in the corner of my eye. Right when I saw the LucasArts logo, I knew I had to have it.

Seriously, this game doesn’t disappoint. Besides the amazing soundtrack, this game has amazing gameplay. When I decide to boot up my retro Windows 98 gaming PC, I almost always take this game and decide to play a few levels.

The love and care put into this game make it worthy of all the praise I’m giving it. I knew that LucasArts was good in creating adventures, but I didn’t know that they would also be able to create enjoyable 3D shooters.

So, thank you LucasArts for creating this underrated and overlooked gem of a game. If you haven’t played this game and you enjoy 3D shooters, you owe it to yourself to play this game. Know that this game is released in 1997 so the graphics will look like the original DooM in a way, but it’s still amazing to play to this day.

If you are unable to get yourself a boxed copy like me, you can find this game on GoG.com for like 5€, so you have no excuse to not give it a try. I honestly find it a way to cheap price for the game.

Place 2: A Hat In Time (PC) (Original release: 2017)

Review of the game

a hat in timeHow could I not? To be honest, deciding the top 3 of this list was the most difficult part for me. While I wish I could put these three games on number one and call it a tie, that solution would be too cheap.

Anyways, I will explain why I place A Hat In Time so high on my favorite games of 2017 list. I usually never play collect-a-ton platformers. Besides Super Mario 64, I haven’t played any. While I have seen the first trailers for this game, I didn’t know it released after I suddenly saw some screenshots on my Twitter feed.

When I realized that the game was released, I bought it and booted it up. I think I explained a lot about the joy I had in the review. I gave the game a 100/100 for a reason. Right on my review page, I explain that when I give a game 100/100, I think the game is perfect in my eyes. While I know the game has problems, they are being fixed and improved to make the game even more smooth.

I have to thank Gears For Breakfast for delivering this game and also for the amount of polish and care they gave to this game. I can’t wait to see the free DLC arrive in the near future to play even more vanilla content.

Runners-up

A few games haven’t made the list. These games I started to play in 2017 as well, but sadly didn’t make the list because of a variety of reasons. So, here we go:

Mario Stickers Charged Football (Wii), Lego Jurrasic Park World (Wii U), Axiom Verge (PC/Wii U), Metroid Samus Returns (3DS), Popolocrois (PSP), Hamtaro (GBC), Spellforce (PC), Pokémon Pinball – Ruby & Sapphire Edition (GBA) amongst others I’m forgetting now.

1st PLACE: The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild (Wii U) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

BreathoftheWildFinalCoverThere was this game this year, I played when I didn’t know what to play. A game that needed time to grow me on me. A game that slowly but surely became one of the best games I played all year. With over 200 hours put into it this year, I can’t lie and say that The Legend Of Zelda is the worst game I played in 2017.

Currently, I’m playing through all the DLC and I have a sneaking suspicion that after that, I’ll still spend a lot of time with this game. Especially when I’m going to buy a Switch next year, I’ll be able to experience this game all over again.

If you didn’t know, the Legend Of Zelda series is one of my favorite gaming series ever made. As shown by the amazing blogging celebration I did in October where I looked through the whole main series history with a lot of other bloggers. In case you missed the hub article, you can find it here.

I can only confirm that this game is worthy of winning all those awards at the gaming awards this year. It’s one of the best open world games made so far and I think we will see a lot of influences from this game gets it way into other games. If you haven’t played Breath Of The Wild, play it. But be aware that it will change your view on various open world games forever.

Goodbye, 2017!

This year has been so special to me. I have experienced a lot of different things. I played one of the lead roles in my theater group, made a lot of new blogger friends, my blog grew an awful lot and already made a lot of plans to make 2018 an amazing year to look forward too.

In terms of gaming, 2017 was a year of both nostalgia and modern games to me. I played a lot of new games and I love how people ask me about which games they should buy for their children at work. It gives such a great feeling to be able to spread the joy of playing games to others.

In 2018, you can expect more articles from me. Like I said in my update article for December 2017, I have a few plans for 2018 and I think you will enjoy them. But, thank you for reading my blog this past year. I had such an enjoyable ride and I am so thankful for all the chances I get to review indie developers their games. It was also flattering to see how one of my quotes made it on a Steam Store page.

Before I ramble on too much, I’m going to close off this article. If you want to talk to me about the past year, your favorite games of 2017 and things of that nature, feel free to leave a comment. Since I do read them all and reply to them all. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katerielle and the Millonaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) ~ Miss Layton

layton lady katrielle mystery journey.jpgWikipedia page

To be honest, when I first heard about the release of this game, I thought that Level5 was going to port the Android spin-off Layton Brothers to the 3DS. Since it has a similar concept. A team that solves smaller cases as a detective and try to solve crimes. Yet, to my surprise, the story of this game goes about the daughter of the famous professor Layton, named Katrielle. While the game first released on mobile devices, I played the 3DS version. I’m used to be playing Professor Layton games on the 3DS, so why change that if I knew that a 3DS version was coming. Since I haven’t played the mobile version, that means I won’t be talking about it in my first impression here either. So, I think it’s time that I talk about this game, is it a good entry into the Layton franchise or is it a spin-off that should only exist one time? As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

It’s Miss Layton now

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-01.jpgIn this game, you play as Katrielle, Layton’s daughter. She just opened a mystery solving shop in London and she is awaiting her first mysteries to solve. Her motto is “any mystery solved”. Together with her assistant named Ernest, you come across a talking dog. Katrielle gives the talking dog a name, Sherl. Yes, as a reference to Sherlock Holmes. The strange thing is that not everybody can hear Sherl talking. Katrielle’s first mystery is trying to solve why that is. Yet, it doesn’t take long before the first case reveals itself and Katrielle gets distracted by solving that. Not too soon after, Katrielle, Ernest, and Sherl go on different adventures to solve cases.

The writing in this game is very lighthearted and a joy to read. I really enjoy how Katrielle does anything for food, how Ernest is the clumsy romantic and Sherl the dog that knows a lot about how humans live their daily lives. The story can take itself seriously when it needs to, but overall, this is a less serious entry into the series compared to the previous games in the series. I’m currently at the 5th case in the game, so it’s possible that it can change. But, we shall see. The voice acting on the characters is also amazing. I think that the cast did an amazing job voicing these characters and make them come to life. A gold star for that!

I do have one minor complaint about the naming of certain characters in the game. The word puns in some cases made me cringe a bit. They didn’t feel creative, they felt forced in. Like, there was a couple where the lady was called Vic and the male called Tim. There were a bit more names like that and it didn’t click with me. I felt that more day-to-day names like Marc, William, Sara, Marian would be fitted better.

The story is structured in such a way that it more resembles a Saturday morning anime. Each case doesn’t take too long to solve, but each case has a nice start, middle and finale. During the case, you gather clues, that you have to fit in a puzzle. While this puzzle is extremely easy to make, I think it’s a step up from the previous Layton games since it’s more than a button that unlocks in a menu.

I do have one complaint about the story actually. I feel like the focus on the backstory of Sherl is a bit too much pushed to the background in the first cases. For real, the twist the game starts with about Sherl didn’t go anywhere substantial in the first four cases. If it did, I must have missed it.

Layton at its core

Laytons-Mystery-Journey-Katrielle-and-the-Millionaires-Consipracy-Screenshot-02While this game has a different main cast, the gameplay of this game is still the usual Layton gameplay at its core. In this game, you solve brain teasers and puzzles to get information from people. There are over 150 puzzles in this game. While you don’t have to solve them all to beat the game, there are some points in the game where you need to solve a certain amount of puzzles in order to progress. In this case, the game will clearly state how many you need to solve.

As I said earlier, this game is all about solving mysteries and finding clues to solve that mystery. Like I said before, the game is pretty lighthearted, so the mysteries aren’t; well how shall I put it? A missing pet or a missing part of a movie, that is the two of the first four cases. Yeah, I think that explains itself. So, you have to explore the London to find clues to what happened and how to solve the case.

While you are exploring, you can go to various locations and each location has various things to do. Exploration is just traveling from screen to screen. Sometimes you will have to ride a bike to another remote location, but that is about it. Also, you can only go to screens you unlocked. What I mean by this is that when for example, a lady on street tells you that your client lives a bit more down the road, the map opens up to that location.

This is how exploration always worked in the Layton games. Yet, you can do a lot on each screen. You can find hidden collectibles or puzzles, hint coins, progress the story or get interesting commentary about the object you tapped on. I really advise you to look at each screen with a lot of attention since all those things can be handy in solving the future cases. Especially the hint coins, if you can collect them, that’s always a great idea.

If you have played Layton games before, most hiding spots of the hint coins won’t be a surprise to you. Otherwise, try to tap on everything and it won’t take long before you will start to understand how this whole system works. So, why are these hint coins so handy? Well, let me tell you. You can get a hint when you are stuck in solving a brain teaser. Believe me, some will get you stumped and make you think. A great advice from me is to have a pen and notebook handy and maybe a calculator too.

While you can take notes and draw on the touchscreen while you solve the puzzle, I always felt that this system didn’t work flawlessly. If you want to input an answer, you have to exit out of your notes. In addition to that, I love writing my thoughts more on paper or on a bigger screen than the 3DS’s screen to solve puzzles.

The puzzles that you can solve in this game will range from math riddles to mazes you will have to solve. If you are stuck, don’t hesitate to think outside of the box. Since a lot of answers will simpler then you think. Something I didn’t like about this game is something that Level5 stopped doing in the previous entry in the Layton series. In the first games in the series, they explained the answer. In this game, they don’t always do that. So, when I didn’t understand why I had to answer in a certain way, I was disappointed to see a simple screen saying “you do it!” and nothing more.

Compared to previous Layton games, this game has also some side quests you can perform. During your exploration, you come across various characters who give you a new puzzle that is saved in Katrielle’s trunk. Like a puzzle where you need to solve a maze with the least amount of steps and finding the perfect meal with a cryptic description. Actually, I wouldn’t call them side quests, I think a better name is a side activity or a side puzzle.

Each puzzle is worth a certain amount of picards. The side puzzles aren’t worth any picards. So, what do these picards do? Well, the more you earn, the more bonus material you unlock after finishing the game. So, try to gain as much picards if you can. Since, if you give a wrong answer to a puzzle, the number of picards you earn from that puzzle drop. Keep that in mind if you want to unlock everything.

Visual eye-candy

lady layton 2.jpgThe visual presentation of this game is just amazing. This game has some amazing artwork and is a real piece of visual eye-candy to look at. While the game doesn’t use 3D that often, or at all, I think I can’t decide which art style I like the best for the game. The overall game is 2D, but the character models are rendered in 3D. While in cutscenes, everything is in 2D. I think the screenshots will explain it better than I can with words.

But, there is one thing that I didn’t like about the presentation and that are the cutscenes. To be honest, most cutscenes are just too short. Some cutscenes aren’t longer than one sneeze and blowing your nose. This is a shame since the cutscenes look so well made. I really wish there were longer cutscenes to enjoy. I feel that they are just an afterthought, while they feel like a nice reward for finding a breakthrough or solving the case.

The music for this game is enjoyable as well. The soundtrack isn’t one where I would listen to when I’m doing other things, but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game and I have no complaints about that. The music really fits the Layton universe perfectly, if you didn’t know better, you would say that it’s a soundtrack from another Layton game earlier in the series. The sound design also feels right at home. While there aren’t too many sound effects in the game, when they are used, they are used to give the world a bit more life or the story a bit more punch.

Like previous Layton games, this game also has daily puzzles. But this time, I feel that the reward is better for solving them. As you might know, I’m a game collector and I love seeing artwork from the games I played. So, when you solve a daily puzzle, you will get museum points. If you get 100 museum points, you can unlock artwork from any of the previous titles. This is such a great feature since it pulls on my nostalgic strings so much. To be honest, I spend a lot of time-solving the daily puzzles. I really enjoy solving most of them and I wish that time went a bit faster so I could receive my puzzles a bit faster.

While most of the issues I have with the game are minor, I think this game is still a great game. Some issues I have with the game or some minor, they became a nitpick. For example, I really liked how in previous games, each save slot had a different character from the main cast presenting it. In this game, it’s Katrielle for all three. Yeah, major nitpick right there.

Another minor issue that I have are some parts of the controls. While you can use the “A” button, and strangely enough the arrow buttons, to continue dialogues; you can’t use the psychical buttons for anything else. Besides solving some puzzles. Everything is done using the touchscreen. I really miss some shortcut keys. Like using the circle button to move your looking glass around or the shoulder buttons to open the movement menu or a button to open the trunk like “Y” for example. That would be a great addition.

Then again, there are things in the game I really like. Like how you can decorate the mystery solving office to how you want. Changing the Fengshui if you want. Depending on how many puzzles you solve, you get a ticket to “buy” a new item to change up the decoration of your office.

That isn’t the only thing you can change, there are also outfits for Katrielle you can buy. Some even as DLC for a small fee. While they have only a visual purpose and nothing else, the ones you can buy as DLC have an additional puzzle for you to solve.

About the costumes, there is one minor flaw I have to bring up. You can change Katrielle’s costume at any time you want. Yet, I noticed that Katrielle wears special outfits during other chapters. For example, in one chapter she dresses up in a nice dress since she is going out to see a movie with Ernest. If you exit that case and go to a different case to find hint coins you missed, Katrielle is still wearing that special dress. This is a bit out of context in my eyes and shouldn’t happen. Oh well, only a minor complaint?

Oh yeah, you can go back to previous cases in order to find hint coins and puzzles you missed. The only minor complaint I have is that there is no indication when you missed another collectible in the case. Even an indication on the case brief screen would have been nice. Since, if you skipped over one collectible, have fun looking for it, since the game won’t help you there. On the other hand, I think it’s a great move that you can visit back and solve puzzles you haven’t solved or found and looking for hint coins you missed. The only tip the game gives you there is the screen you missed it on. So, have fun looking for what you missed.

So far, I’m enjoying myself with this game. While the game isn’t flawless at all, I think that the positives outweigh the negatives here. If you are still deciding if this game is for you, know that it’s a more lighthearted Layton game with the same atmosphere and gameplay but without Layton, Luke and the usual gang. This game has a completely new cast of characters. It’s a breath of fresh air for the series and I can’t wait to see where Level5 takes this. I would love to see Katrielle and Layton meet one day.

That is everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog 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

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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.

First Impression: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) ~ I’m An Angel!

dq_ix_esrb_dsLink to Wikipedia entry

Lately, I’m playing a lot on my old Nintendo DS. The game that I’m playing is Dragon Quest IX. I have played this game right when it came out, but then I stopped because other games got my interest. I played this game right around when I started playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. In any case, this article will contain mostly my current opinion of the game. I’m currently 10 hours into the game. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article.

Slow start

Dragon Quest IX 2In this game, you play as a character you design and make yourself. Your character is a guardian angel of Angel Falls. At the start of the game, you get a small combat tutorial and introduction to the world.

Everything was peaceful until suddenly disaster strikes. Something happens in the sky palace and you fall down to the world and lose your halo and wings. You fall in the town of, you guessed it, Angel Falls.

After those events, a lot happens. The plot only thickens and gets quite interesting. Yet, the only negative is that the start is quite slow. I was 2-3 hours in before the main quest started.

The writing is very well done. The characters are memorable. While I noticed some minor spelling mistakes here and there, I didn’t mind them too much.

The story feels episodic. When you finish one quest, another path opens and you go to another village to go on a new quest. This works very well in this game. This game is pretty long. If you want to beat the main story, you will have to put in around 50 hours. So, I’m looking forward to the stories I still have to play.

In any case, enough talking about the story. The difficulty of this game is almost a negative in my opinion. If you have read my blog before, you might know that I don’t like grinding for levels that much. It gives the impression that the game is longer then it actually is. This game contains some grinding, but it isn’t too bad. But, the grinding gets old real fast for me.

Buy and wear this shield

dragonquest9_218826In this game, there is something that really every RPG should do. When you buy new equipment, you see your character visually change. Not only in battle, but also in the overworld. This is a great touch, since it gives you the feeling of progression and growth of your characters. I can understand that this could be annoying to some people, since they prefer everything to look a certain way. But I honestly like it.

Visually, the characters and enemies look very well designed. Sadly enough, this RPG suffers from what I call the “multiple paint bucket syndrome”. There are various recoloring of enemies to make new enemies.

While I can understand that it’s hard to always make new enemies for each new area, I believe there are other methods. If you give the recolored version some minor visual changes like make them longer, shorter, wider, bulkier… That would go a long way.

Or you use the same enemy, but you buff them up. Wait, scrap that. Game design wise, this wouldn’t be the best solution. Since that could confuse a lot of players.

So, we were talking about the visuals of this game. The world design is something that is deserves praise. Every area has charm and feels alive. The animation is stellar. In short, I really love the presentation of this game.

One thing to note is that in some battles, I experienced some frame drops. This happened mostly when there were a lot of graphic heavy attacks in a row. Outside of battles, I rarely got slowdowns or frame drops.

You have two options in the control department. You can either use the touch screen for everything or you can use the buttons. Both control schemes work every well. The only feature you miss in the touch screen controls is the ability to swing around the camera a little bit in the overworld. But I rarely use it, so I don’t mind it that much.

This game is a full blood RPG and it has a big world for you to explore and adventure in. A big plus in this game is that you can see the monsters running around on the overworld. This makes it a lot easier when you need a certain item drop or when you need to defeat a certain enemy to complete your monster index.

You can design your own party in this game. You can tweak your party to your heart’s and playstyle’s content. Take your perfect party in to battle!

I can only say one negative thing about the battles. If they would added a health bar for the enemies, that would be amazing. I found it very frustrating that I had to hope that a boss died when I was at low health. It would be very handy to change your tactics.

There is just too much

dragonquestIXIn this game, there are also side quests. I haven’t done many side quests, so I won’t go in-depth. But you can get a quest from a character when a blue speech bubble appears above their head. Most quests I encountered are fetch quests.

But that is just one thing of many things that can entertain you in this game. You can also do alchemy, complete your monster guide or collect party tricks. There is a lot to do in this game. According to some websites, to 100% complete this game, you would have to devote months to this game. According to various sources, you would have to spend over 770 hours. That’s overkill in my opinion. There is just too much to do in this game. But the positive about is that there is always something to do in this game. You shouldn’t get bored with this game if you love playing RPG’s.

The music and sound design in this game is good. It could have been better if there were two or three more tracks in-battle. Since always hearing the same battle music gets a bit old. It’s still a great track, but I wished I heard some other battle music in normal battles from time to time.

In this game, you can only save in churches. You can quick save, but the quick save gets deleted as soon as you restart the game. I don’t know what happens if you quick save and then don’t save. Honestly, I don’t feel like finding that out. One thing, there is only one save slot.

This game offers multiplayer. But, I’m not going to talk about that since I haven’t played this game in multiplayer. And without experience, it would be hardly fair to talk about it.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Besides, if I forgot certain things, I will talk about those if I ever review this game. So, it’s time to wrap up this article.

This game is a very fun game. It’s one of the best RPG’s out there on the Nintendo DS. It does some things that every RPG should do but it also does some things that shouldn’t be in every RPG.

I highly recommend this game if you are looking for a challenge, a big adventure and/or an interesting story. But be prepared to put a lot of hours into this game.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog. But until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Review: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Joyful RPG at it’s near finest.

Fantasy_Life_box_artLink to the Wikia – First Impression article

And the award for the most generic title goes to… Fantasy Life… Wait, what? I’m copying my buddy’s latest article title and making my own joke out of it? Oh sorry, I’m sure he won’t mind. I have been delaying this review again and again. But after nearly putting 75 hours into this game, I think it’s fair for me to review it. While I haven’t completed it 100%, I am already far beyond the point of beating the full game and the DLC story. So, without me reading the first impression article, this is the taste this game left in my month. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the content of this article and/or this game. 

Story time

Fantasy_life_e3_2014_screenshot3

So, one of the weakest points of this game is the story, apart from the DLC story. But don’t read me wrong: the story is solid and the characters are memorable. The huge issue is that thanks to the 12 different paths you can take, there are so many. Too much even for my young brain to remember. On the other hand, this makes each life unique with different characters and personalities.

The main story is a bit generic. It stands out in it’s writing, though. That’s extremely well done. People would easily skip over the story since it’s one you have experienced before: save the world. Yet, when you actually take the time to enjoy the story, you will be pleasantly surprised with it’s well done execution.

This is one of the first Level5 games I played where there is no voice acting. Well, apart from the few grunts from enemies, but I can’t comment on that.

So, let’s move on to the DLC. It truly expands on the main game nicely. It even adds more story and expands the game in nearly every area. The DLC is truly worth it, because the story alone has such a perfect ending, it actually touched me and made me laugh. Just the way how it’s written… Amazing.

All right, enough said about the story of this game. Let’s dive right into the other parts of this game. First of all, the sound design and music.

Just that

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The music and sound design is good. Just that. Good. It isn’t bad, nor is it great. It helps to immerse yourself into the game, but I don’t see myself listening to the soundtrack on my mobile any time soon.

While I think Level5 generally makes great scores for their games, some tracks got annoying to me. “The theme of intrigue” is an example of a track I don’t like. While the “Theme of Courage” is such an amazing track and really hyped me up.

Also, the enemies don’t have a distinct cry. Well, not all. And in my mind, this is a really big issue. Some enemies start to feel bland, generic and cut-outs. Some enemies have some nice sound effects, but not enough.

For the sound design or music, it isn’t worth it to get yourself a headset to enjoy it. As I said earlier, it’s good, but it won’t be memorable. Some tracks are catchy and I remember some battles but that mostly wasn’t because of the sound and music design. It helped, but it wasn’t the most important factor.

The design of this game is something that is actually really well done. Apart from one major issue I will talk about later.

The game world looked bright and colourful or dark and gloomy when it needs to be. They give off the right atmosphere and the area’s are pretty well crafted. The animation looks crisp and neatly done. Some could argue that due to the overload of dialogue some voice acting would benefit the game, but the animation does such a nice job that the voice acting isn’t really needed.

So, about that major issue I had with the design. Well, it is something I feel really mixed about. Visually, it looks lazy… but game design wise, it is a great move. Some enemies, like the spirits, return in various area’s, but they have just a different colour. Looks lazy right? But on the other hand, in some lives, you get the quest to kill a certain amount of some enemy. This makes finding that enemy in later area’s much easier.

Oh, and one minor design flaw is that it’s sometimes really tricky to read an enemy’s name. Because if you come too close, the target marker pops up above their head.

The other parts

112516_3ds_fl_merc_pr_ukSo, in my first impression I think I touch upon the controls. They are quite well done. Apart from the mercenaries life. They are quite flawed. It’s really unclear how you pull off certain moves in that life. Sadly enough, you need to do them in order to finish that life. “Press 4 times A”. Ehrm, I tried it and I wasn’t always able to pull off that move.

I still find it very remarkable that they made such a neat looking and easy to understand interface to display while you have some much content to offer. A nitpick I have is that the bounty clerks are sometimes too far apart.

The main story and the DLC story will take you around 15-20 hours to complete. Nice length. But the game can be a lot longer then that! You won’t be able to complete each and every life in even double the time. I have played this game for over 60 hours and I only fully completed one life.

The difficulty of this game is decent. While some area’s present some challenge, I barely died in this game. The game is also very forgiving in that regard. When you die, you can either revive (if you have a Life Cure) or go back to the nearest check point, or go home. You loose nothing. Also, when you are trying to mine a major gem later in the miner’s life… When you run out of SP, you can stop mining and drink some potions. When you then continue to mine the gem, the gem didn’t heal enough to loose that much of your progress. You aren’t able to do that in the fishing life and that’s one of my other nitpicks.

Before I wrap up this review, let’s talk about some of my other nitpicks. One is that some lives play similar to each other. While they are different and require a different play style, they can give off the same vibe. Mainly the crafting lives, they are all quick time event based. The animation is different, but the core mechanic isn’t.

Talking about crafting lives, the menu system is a bit flawed here. You aren’t able to see your quests when you start working.

The next nitpick is one that annoys the heck out of me. Certain lives have a dedicated shop. Like the carpenter and the woodcutter have a dedicated shop. But when you want to craft all the carpenter items, they won’t sell all those items in that shop. This means that you run around sometimes to get each and every item.

The next nitpick I have is that Flutter and your pets can only be accessed in one house: your starter house. Maybe I haven’t unlocked it through the bliss system, but I don’t think you will be able too.

So, the game is a nice experience but flawed. It’s really addictive and hard to put down for the people who enjoy these kind of games. But it lacks some polish. That also shows in the map. You can’t control the map at all. You can have an overview of the map, but you can’t see where all the shops are located.

Well, I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about in this review. Time to wrap this one up.

Conclusion

The bad;

– While the writing is excellent, the story is one we have seen in different games a million times over. (Apart from the DLC one)

– The music and sound could have been done better.

– The game is overall too easy.

– The lack of bounty clerks in some area’s.

– Some small issues can hinder the experience and make it irritating.

The good:

+ Amazing visual world.

+ 12 different play styles to enjoy.

+ You can switch class when you want.

+ Very neat UI.

+ The character creation has a lot of features.

+ The animation is extremely well done.

+ Addictive.

+ …

Conclusion

So, is this game worth playing? If you enjoy games like Harvest Moon, Tomodachi Life or anything similar, odds are you feel right at home here.

The characters are memorable but they suffer from a weak(ish) story. The writing is funny and won’t get boring, but they also suffer from the weak story.

This game lacks some polish. While the game has a lot of polish in certain area’s, not every part of this game has been polished enough. This is one game that could have benefited from a bit more development time.

Be warned when you play or start playing this game, it’s difficult to put down. I haven’t played many other games for over a month because I wasn’t able to stop playing this game. It truly took me be surprise how fun it can be.

I love this game, I think it’s near perfection. But the reviewer side of my character disagrees and sees the flaws in this game. It isn’t perfect, but it’s near its finest form.

So, that wraps up my review of this game. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. (and playing the game in order to write this review.) And I hope to meet you another time here on my blog, but until then: take care and game on~

Score: 85/100

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

Fantasy_Life_box_artNintendo.com entry

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

Graphically Layton?

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

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

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

Quests

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

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

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

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

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

Gamesystems

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

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

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

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

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

Review #026: Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright (3DS) ~ This Puzzle Has An Objection!

250px-PLvsAA_BoxartWarning: this review is longer then my usual reviews! WAY LONGER. For reasons. 

Ace Attorney Wiki entry link

First Impression link

So, this game. After a month, I finished it. And honestly, I feel sad. I’m going to directly say that I think that this game is amazing. I’ll defend this game in this article. My newly ordered mind hasn’t arrived yet sadly enough. But I might write a longer review then usual? Why, since I find that this game totally deserved it. So, yeah! This game gets the longer review for a reason. I feel ashamed that you guys in America can’t play this game yet. So, I’m avoiding spoilers as much as I can! But before we start, the usual. Feel free to leave a comment on the game and or this article. 

Writer versus the story

largeIn my first impression I talked about how I can predict the ending of stories from games or movies. I was able to predict the ending of other Layton games and Phoenix Wright games in the past. Yet, this game has taken me by surprise.

I have to say, that the ending took me off guard. All the plot twists and how the story wrapped up, just was an amazing ride. If a story can do that to an experienced writer, then you can be sure you have a solid story.

At first, I would say that there are a few plot holes in the story. Yet, the unexplained plot holes in the main game will be explained in the bonus content you unlock after finishing the game.

The writing of the story is the best I have seen for a cross over from this format. It’s quite clear that each company has written his or her part. The parts where you play as Layton, feel like a real Layton game. And the writing in the parts of Phoenix, truly feel like you are playing an Ace Attorney game.

I didn’t expect that when both styles get crossed would work so well. The two styles blend in each other without notice.

One question people asked me is what meaning the “versus” has in the title. A minor spoiler, it has different meanings in the game. There is a part where you actually have a battle between Layton and Wright but you have moments where Layton and Phoenix work together to solve the case.

Do I have complaints about the story? Yes, thanks for asking. I have no complaints about the writing. It’s just spot on. Yet, it’s the voice acting. Now, don’t get me wrong! The voice acting is top notch. People who hate dubs of anime’s, you won’t be disappointed with the voices and the casting of this game. But there is a major issue with the voice acting.

The moments where the voice acting is used is a bit strange. There are moments where one person is voice acting and the others are just plain text. Or there are moments in the game where the voice acting just suddenly stops. You will have to play the game to understand what I mean but it’s truly annoying.

This menu has an objection?

largeA fair warning, it’s quite possible that the rest of the review might be nitpicking if I talk about the mistakes of this game.

Let’s take a look to the user interface. And here I have my first complaint, you can’t delete save files. While this is a minor annoyance, I don’t get why they didn’t program a feature in where you can delete a save file when saved by accident on the second slot.

The main menu, well, it’s good and bad at the same time. While I miss the options button, that you can find in game, it’s not cluttered. Only the bare essential buttons are in the main menu. This is actually good because you don’t need to waste a lot of time to the main menu.

So, let’s take a look at the in-game menu’s. Thank the lords they took a combination of both games for this! The lay-out of the menu’s in Layton is excellent but you have to operate it all with the touch screen. In the Ace Attorney games, you can open things with pressing the buttons. While you can’t do much, besides closing the menu, inside the menu with the buttons, it’s a neat feature!

Also, you have a notepad for the whole game. Yes, you have a memo feature for the whole game. That’s simply mind blowing. I admit that I haven’t used it but I think that the idea is simply great. Since some people aren’t that good at remembering and having a space where you can write notes is pretty good.

But with every good thing comes a bad thing. While it’s great that you have an items menu where you can look at the items you have, it’s so bare bones that it’s actually kinda bad. When you have a letter, you can’t read it’s content or when you have a book, you can only stare at the cover.

And if I may be extremely nitpicky, the mysteries. Okay, I understand that this feature comes from the Layton games but why is this ‘Layton exclusive’? Let me explain. The button for this option shows Phoenix and Layton with a speech bubble with a question mark in it. But in the whole menu, only Layton talks about the mysteries. Phoenix isn’t allowed to talk about the mysteries? That was a bummer. It’s clear now that I’m a bigger fan of Ace Attorney, I guess.

Also, the story button is a perfect addition to the game. With this you can somewhat relive parts of the story. What I mean here is that you have the “View Story” button when you press on an entry in the story menu. This games you a brief overview of what happened then. And it’s different then the entry itself.

So, I mentioned a bit about the controls of this game. How you control the menu’s. Now, the controls outside of the menu’s is just way better then the Layton games. One complaint I always have with those games is that the touch screen is used too much. But in this game you can use the buttons more. The controls, no real complaints there.

Now, let’s game.

large (1)Oh my, so much to still talk about and so far in the review we are already. But thankfully I don’t have a big limit for this review so I can still write a bit.

Let’s talk about the gameplay. The meat of the game. The bones is more the story. Anyways, the gameplay is just well balanced and fun. It’s quite clear that this game is aimed mainly at fans of both series.

The game switches between both gameplay types quite nicely. And they managed to blend the investigation moments with puzzles without them being annoying. I applaud the developers for that!

It’s quite fun exploring around in the town. Sadly, your are restricted to one area because the story forces you too but there are many opportunities where you visit every place in the game.

At first I thought that the area of the game would be too small. But as soon as you continue to play, you are proven quite wrong quite quick.

Something that helped me a lot is how the map shows how many hint coins or hidden puzzles are in the area. That way I was sure that I didn’t skip any hint coin or puzzle. But this concept needs some minor tweaks. One tweak they could do is show how many coins or puzzles are at the place you are currently at. Since that’s not possible. And another tweak they could have done was showing the amount of hint coin or hidden puzzles somewhere on the top screen maybe? So you know if you found everything in that area or not.

The difficulty, well, that’s something that this game has some trouble with. The game isn’t very easy but it isn’t very hard either. If you pay attention during the game or when you have played other games in the series, this game isn’t a big challenge. I had a lot of hint coins to spare at the end of the game.

In my first impression I have said that it’s strange that you can’t earn hint coins during trails. While I understand that it would be awkward trying to hide them in trails, I still found it strange. You can use hint coins in trails and thank the lords that they don’t “solve” the puzzle for you. They show which statement needs pressing or presenting, and if you need to present evidence, you can pick out of three options. Also, when you need to answer a question, one hint coin actually hides a wrong answer. And you can’t use more then one hint coin at one time.

The last part of the gameplay is the actual length. In the case of this game, we have to talk about how much each character is on screen AND how long the game takes before you have beaten it.

The balance between Layton and Phoenix, no complaints. Honestly, I enjoyed the parts more where they were both together. It just felt right.

And the actual length of the game, well… according to my save file you can beat this game around 30+ hours. Which is great length for the game. They provided enough plot twists so that there is never a dull moment and I think that’s one of the strong points of this game.

Reviewing the other parts.

Layton-vs-Wright-5So, the last part before the conclusion of this review. We have the music, design, sound, post game content, replay value and animation left.

Let’s begin with the easy one. This game has some replay value. It might be fun to replay to challenge yourself to get more points or to see what dialogue you get when you pick different answers. But since this is a visual novel, adventure game; the replay value is almost zero.

The post game content, well… ehrm… How to say it? It’s perfect. When you load a finished save file, you can either play the final chapter(s) of the game again or you can start at a part where you can look for puzzles you have missed.

Maybe I looked over it but the points you gain after completing a puzzle or finishing a trail aren’t used anywhere. Maybe something for the additional content?

Anyways, the additional content is great! You can download galleries where they show concept art and you can download bonus episodes. In those episodes some plot holes are explained or some background information about Layton or Phoenix is revealed and you get some additional gameplay. The writing is just beyond excellent.

The music and sound is next. The sounds, I have no complaints. No dull or overused sound effects. I’m glad that they used the sound effect library of both games. The fans feel right at home! But the soundtrack, if they ever release it on CD, I’m so going to buy it. I love listing to it and it has the right mood all the time.

And now let’s talk about the last part of this game; the design, graphics and animation.  Do I have complaints? Yes. Are they big? No.

As far as I know, I have one complaint. And that is in the animation area. The movement of the mouths is the weakest link. I found that the animation there isn’t as solid as the animation in the other parts of this game. But the rest of the animation, the graphics and the design… is extremely solid.

The anime cutscenes, the world this game takes place in, the animation of (nearly) everything… It puts this game so well together. You truly feel as a spectator of this game. In other words, the immersion of this game thanks to the visuals is perfect. It’s hard to put the game down.

So, I think I’m going to my conclusion. I talked about almost everything there is to talk about in this game. But don’t worry, I have still left some things as a surprise. Let’s wrap up this ‘journalistic review”

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story line.

+ Eye candy graphics.

+ A solid cross-over.

+ Great length.

+ Beautiful soundtrack.

+ …

The bad:

– Some minor nitpicks with the menu.

– Some small nitpicks with the save files.

– The difficulty could have been better.

– The moments they used voice acting could have been improved.

Final thoughts:

So, I have written this extremely long review for a couple of reasons. As I said before, I wanted to give this game what it deserves! A great long review. Don’t worry, the length of this review won’t be my new standard. This review is twice as long as a normal review.

Another reason why I wrote such a long review is to challenge myself because I wanted to try writing a review as long as in a magazine or on a game website. I think I succeeded.

Anyways, my final thoughts about this game are simple. This game needs a sequel. Yes, this game is so well done, I’m hoping that they create a sequel. Nearly everything is solid and I the complaints I have are mostly nitpicks. It’s clear that this game is polished to near perfection.

If you are a fan of the genre, the series or the 3DS you owe it to yourself to play this game. I love how it’s clear that the cross over of this game is taken serious and that the final product we got was worth the wait. That’s why I give this game the points it deserves!

Score: 100 / 100

First Impression: Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney (3DS) ~ I Already Placed An Order For A New Mind

250px-PLvsAA_BoxartAce Attorney Wiki link

So, let’s not be creative and mind blowing. Oops, too late. Yesterday I posted a picture on my Twitter with my holding the box of this game. My apologies of the blurry image but my webcam isn’t the best in my gaming laptop. After playing it on college breaks and today, I finally got far enough to write my first impression. And my honest apologies to my buddy who had to cancel his pre-order. I had to zip my mouth about it and not brag about it. Well, brag… It was more like me not shutting up about the game here and there. I didn’t spoil him. I didn’t tell him about the Story. Yeah, intentional cap there. Anyways, let’s get this ball rolling. The first impression I wanted to write for months. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion about this article and or this game.

No creative article?!

Layton-vs-Wright-5I apologize if you expected me writing in a style where I mixed a mystery or a puzzle with a court. Nah, I’m adapting my usual writing style for this one. Why? Because in the game the story is like that as well. While the Layton and Ace Attorney series are written in two completely different ways, the game mixes the styles prefect!

Honestly, I have a special ability. Because I wrote so many stories and articles I’m kind of able to predict how a story or plot is going to end. I can’t predict each and every turn but I mostly see the outcome of a plot. But this game has me puzzled. While the game’s plot has some similar elements to a story I wrote once in my childhood, I can’t figure out how the story is going to go.

The point that I’m trying to get across here is that the story blew me off my socks. While experienced writers can see some plot twists coming at the start, the execution and the writing is so well done, it catches you off guard easily.

I won’t talk much about the story because I don’t want to spoil the fun. I’m mostly aiming this article at the people who need that last push to buy this gem of a game. And the story alone is strong enough to be a selling point for this game. The story isn’t weak or too far fetched for both universes and really fits nicely into the existing stories.

Play the game?

largeThis game, is just extremely good. First of all, I have to admit that the all puzzles in Professor Layton started to bore me a bit. Not that they are bad games, not at all. But I wasn’t pleased at the heavy focus on puzzles. I wanted to challenge my mind on another way.

And this game nails that. With a smart switching system between the formula of Layton and the formula of Ace Attorney, this game is a blast to play. It was hard to put down because I find it has barely any flaws gameplay wise.

But as a reviewer, I have to be fair and point out the mistakes they made on the gameplay front. First of all, the introduction of hint coins in the Ace Attorney system. This is a nice translation of Athena’s ability in the Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies game. But for now I can only see it as a way to spend your coins. I haven’t seen a moment how you can earn the coins in the Attorney sections.

And honestly, that’s the biggest and only flaw I have seen now in terms of gameplay. There are some other minor flaws or missed opportunities. Let’s talk first about a big irritation I have with the game.

Some lines are voice acted. While I would have done some voices with more emotion, this game has a big issue with deciding who’s line should be voice acted and which shouldn’t. There were parts at the first trail where only one character was voiced. Mixed with just dialogue boxes threw me off a bit.

And the saving menu is a bit, lacking. Let me put it that way. You don’t have a delete save option. And they adapted the way of saving in the Layton games. I always had a major issue with that way. Don’t display a list as save slots. I truly think the PSP had a better way for this. To avoid saving in slot 2 by accident.

large (1)Just wow.

So Layton’s puzzle addiction is finally integrated into the story. They don’t talk about “crack this puzzle and you can pass” things. They finally used “prove yourself with this test” and things like that. A huge improvement.

While that’s not the only thing that got an improvement. The way how you can recap a story is an extremely nicely done feature. You can recap parts of the story as you please. It’s played out in a short scene so you are up to date again.

And in the Layton sections, they “fixed” the controls. You can now explore the rooms with the d-pad and the circle button. Thank the lords for that change. Always having to use my stylus is not that handy when I’m trying to drink something. For example. It’s just convenience.

And you can see how many hint coins or puzzles there are hidden in one area. I slow clapped to this change. One they should have done a long time ago.

I read some articles about people not being so happy with this game. And I read some people who played the Japanese import. And I honestly disagree. This game is a blast to play. While this article is slowly coming to an end, I invite you to discover this game for yourself. I might not have talked about the music, controls, gameplay (bit more in depth), design, animation and difficulty… I promise that I will talk about those things in my review. I will say now that I barely have complaints about them.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. And now, I continue to play this game. Laters!