Gaming Nostalgia: Skipper and Skeeto 1 – Tales from Paradise Park

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Wikipedia entry

As a kid, I played a lot of children’s and educative games. Well, not all the time of course, but I have a lot of fond memories of it. When I went to MiseryLC’s place the other day, he was actually so kind to lend me his copy of “Skipper en Skeeto 1 – Pretpark” which translates to “Skipper and Skeeto 1 – Funfair”. It’s a very nostalgic game for us both, and I decided to write an article about it. So yeah, here we go! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Rare game

61QY3X94DTLIf you are from America and you haven’t heard from this game, I won’t blame you. The creator of this game is actually from Denmark. While there is an English version, I grew up with a version in my mother tongue. I actually only just found out what the name of the game is in English.

I have fond memories of actually acting out this game with my sister. We hid objects to solve puzzles around the house and we played out the story with our own characters and objects.

Sadly enough, my copy got lost one day and I forgot about the game. After a couple of years, I started to play another game from my childhood again: Freddy Fish. Then, I wanted to play this game again. So, I went on a search on the internet to find a copy of this game. Then I learned how much this game went under the radar. I found various versions of this game in the original language, but I wasn’t able to find it in a language I could understand.

New copy

61AHHC15BXLIt’s a shame to admit that I haven’t played my “new” copy yet. I really should do that and write a sort of (quick) review of this game.

While the boxed version is extremely hard to find, the more common version you would find in Belgium is actually a version that was given away for free with a Dutch magazine for females. It still exists to this day. It’s called Libelle, and it’s full of topics ladies would read from the age of 18 and up.

It came in a jewel case with a little booklet telling you about how to install and the warranty. The usual stuff. Thankfully, the magazine hasn’t placed their logo all over the jewel case or disc (or in-game even.) The logo of the magazine is just in the top left corner once, and that’s it. Nicely done.

There are 11 mini-games in this game. All these games are optional and you don’t need to play them. But all the games are educational, for example, if you would click on the globe that you see in the screenshot (in-game of course), you would play a geographical quiz where you needed to guess where certain countries are. I actually remember some of them vaguely while writing this article. This is quite mindblowing if you realize that you haven’t played this game around for over 15 years.

Wrapping up

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While I have memories of the sequel of this game, I think I said most everything I wanted to talk about this game. It’s always difficult to write these articles since you want to write a quite in-depth look about a childhood game you remember, but there isn’t enough content for that.

While I could talk about the animation, voice-acting and other things, I think I will save that for the review I’m going to write when I have replayed this game.

 I wish I played more entries in the series or even bought more of them since they are now quite rare and unrated. They are quite well done in educational games. I even dare say that they rival the quality of Humongous Entertainment! So yeah. I hope you enjoyed reading this short article about Skipper and Skeeto. I also hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then game on and take care~

Review #017: Delver (PC – Steam) ~ Thou Shall Explore!

imagesOfficial website

Notice: While I do realize that this game is also on Android, I review the Steam PC version here. 

Notice about the screenshots: All these screenshots are taken early in the game, since it are screenshots of MY playthrough. It’s a rouge game, so it’s random each time. But feel free to use my screenshots if you need them. 

As a kid I always dreamed of running around in caves and dungeons to explore for loot. I even wrote some stories about it. And my favorite genre of gaming has a lot to do with it. I love myself some great adventure games. But does Delver deliver? How good is it actually? It’s really cheap on Steam and is it worth buying this game while it’s developing? That’s what I’m going to answer today while playing the new October 2013 update. This review might be shorter then my usual reviews since this game has no every element I usually use to review. We shall see how it turns out. Anyways, let me know in the comments your thoughts about this game and/or this review. 

Let’s “delve” into this!

249630_2013-11-01_00001The game starts off on a path right to the dungeon. The cool thing is, as you die, you don’t have to start completely from square one. You can buy things from the stores. Of course, that depends on how much gold you have obtained from your last run. But here is a flaw in the game that surely will be patched in a future update. I don’t see how much gold I have left. So yeah, that’s annoying. 

The game has a small story, if I can remember correctly. At the start, there are two diary entries you can collect. Yet, starting a new game, I noticed that it’s just some hints. So, according to what I know, this game has no real story. And that isn’t a loss since this game benefits from this. Since each floor and dungeon is randomized.

The game is all about exploring the dungeon. And not about that you should save a princess or something. The goal is to get to the bottom floor and get an orb. With this orb you can escape again. Honestly, I haven’t yet been able to return with the orb.

Great, greater and greatest!

249630_2013-11-01_00002While it adds to the atmosphere of this game, this can become annoying. Like you see in the screenshot, the game is pretty dark. If you are in a well lite room, you might not see many things because of the light. I truly advice to play this game in a somewhat darker room.

The controls are excellent. I never felt that it was the game’s fault of a death. Deaths are permanent! So if you die, you are dead. No respawing, no loot drops. Nothing, only your gold. And this makes for a great challenge. Once you have some great stuff, you don’t want to die. You fight on.

Something I also really like is how the loot works. You don’t get better loot from the stronger enemies. No, you can get a better sword by killing a simple bat. Speaking about bats and flying enemies, there is a problem with them. Their hitbox seems to bit a bit off. This causes some moments where I clearly hit the bat yet, it took no damage.

A great addition to this update is how the game now displays status effects and it’s timer. When you drink a random potion, you now know what it means when the game tells you “you feel warm”. Also, the leveling up system is a great thing. I feel that it’s more fine tuned then before the update. And I really like it. The stats aren’t overly difficult. They are straight forward. For example, a weapon will say that it can do from 5 to 10 damage. So, if you level up your attack stat, you will easily do the most damage possible with that given weapon.

Managing the inventory is a joy. You need to be on a safe spot since the inventory, like Minecraft, doesn’t pause they game. And dear developer, when you pause a game, the music should stop as well. Anyways, the dragging around of items is a blast. And the ability to pick up items while being in the inventory screen and drag it into it. Great!

Not that easy!

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Here is another complaint. The picking up of items from the ground with your action key is a bit frustrating. I had several moments where it didn’t pick up at all. Since there seems to be a set region to be able to pick it up.

The fact that you don’t regenerate health is great. It makes the game more tense. I had several moments where I needed to hide for enemies.

But let’s leave it at that for the gameplay. I haven’t covered it all, but hey, if you’re interested, go check out the game. Okay, let’s look at the length of this review… Wow, I have talked more about it then I expected and I have a few things left to say. Okay, less stalling more reviewing!

The artwork of this game is beautiful! I really like the art style they went with here. Retro graphics and great animations give this game a different look and sets it apart from all the others. This game really sucks me in to it’s great gameplay and the visuals actually convinced me to buy the game.

The length might not be that long, but the replay value is extremely high. Since it’s always randomized. In addition to that, the game is a challenge. A real challenge. You can be in luck and get pretty deep into the dungeon. (If needed, this is a moment to get your mind out of the gutter). Or you can have though luck and die really soon.

An advise that I would give the developer too is that there should be more music tracks. The sound and everything is amazing yet, I think there are a handful music tracks and it would be a lot better if there were more.

So, I’ll leave it at this note. Let’s go to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The good:

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Great artwork.

+ High replay value.

+ No annoying story to bother you.

+ Great challenge.

+ Randomized dungeons.

The bad:

– More music would be great.

– There are a few kinks to work out with the flying enemies.

– Picking up objects is a tad bit frustrating.

Conclusion:

In my reviews I don’t cover every single thing about the game. Like in this review I didn’t talk about the AI, map system, magic and so on and so forth. With the intention that if you are interested, that you try it out for yourself and that there are still things to learn about the game while you play it. Like the traps.

This game really benefits from playing it yourself. I really like it and often in study breaks for college I play a quick round of Delver. Like a floor or 5… I really need to pay attention with it since when it sucks you in, it won’t let you go easily.

With some more work, this game will become a gem that everyone should play. I truly had trouble finding bad things about this game. But the things I found are flaws that can be patched. And the music is great, yet more music would be lovely. Thanks for reading and until the next time!

Score: 90 / 100

NekoJonez: Review #016: Alan Wake (PC) ~ Departure

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Official website

You would have thought that I would write my 15th game review on my blog. Yet, I decided to write it here on ButtonSmashers. Why? Well, to thank the guys for the great times they gave me and because Q gives me sometimes some free games and I think that means I need to pay him back somehow. So, I write an article on one of the best horror/adventure PC games ever made, well in the recent years. Besides, for me it’s all about reaching the milestone instead of the location. Another reason why I write it on my friends blog here is that I actually got this game for free from somebody of Arpegi. And my first impression is already on my blog. So yeah. If you want to read my first impression of this game, you can do that here. Anyways, unlike Alan here, I’m not in the dark. My dark, well black, cat is sleeping in my arms, making the time I spent on this review a lot longer then I originally planned. Oh well, the two additional collector edition episodes will have to wait. I have a game to review. In my introduction I always make it clear how I got to this game. Well, I got this game as a present. I was allowed to choose between three titles for buying someone a game. I knew the title Alan Wake from seeing it on a YouTube channel called Lazy Game Reviews. I wanted to link his video but the highly trained monkey’s of Google failed to work. (Yeah, YouTube has been bugging out for me. So, after some 500 error’s I gave up.) Anyways, enough stalling of this! Let’s get on with the review. Nothing special for the 15th, just a plain old review. And my plain old invite for you to write a comment what you think about this game and/or review. 

Manuscript pages

Wake_Barry.jpgThis game blew me out of the water. One of it’s many stronger points is the writing. It’s just an amazing story. Don’t go spoiling yourself because the ending is somewhat open ended and ready for a sequel. Yet, I haven’t finished the additional DLC’s yet. So, maybe I get my answers there.

I actually bought myself the novel version of this game. And I’m pumped to read it. I can feel Wake’s pain. He’s a writer who lost inspiration. Sometimes I have that myself. But apart from a story with deep and rich characters, it’s extremely memorable. It makes a lot of twists and turns. Even Alan starts to doubt himself from time to time. It feels more human.

The presentation of the story is what made this game for me. What’s going to happen in the (near) future of a chapter is written out on manuscript pages, some are extremely well hidden. Some provide backstory to the characters. While the pages play a very important role in the game, it’s implementation is just brilliant and how it should be.

I’m so sad that I finished this awesome story and this is one that I wished I could play over and over again without knowing the story. Where is that reset button in your brain when you need it?

Well, let’s talk about this game’s gameplay. And is it something where many game developers can learn from. You play the role of Alan Wake, like I told earlier, a writer who is in trouble. This game is a mostly linear adventure game, at some moments there are two or more paths, and it’s a shooter as well. But with a big twist. Before you can hurt your enemies, you must shine your flashlight on them. I only wish that not all enemies where male. But this is such an extremely big nitpick.

Ammo?!

cabinIn the game you use several weapons. A pistol, shotgun and a flare gun. You sometimes have flares and flash bangs at your disposal. And when you explore you can have more ammo as your reward. The additional batteries I found for my flashlight came in extremely helpful.

Yet with this comes on of my few complaints with the game. The weapon selection is not that great. When you play it, you will understand me better. But it’s as simple as putting everything under the scroll wheel. So when you wish to switch your flash bangs to flares without switching your weapon, well though luck.

And your objective is nearly always the same. Go from point A to B. Yet, the journey is always extremely different. From fighting through ambushes to driving a car to an other location, the game never feels really repetitive. This game also haves some major horror mixed in. From being in the woods with a lot of bear traps and the Taken following you to being in a hospital that is consumed by darkness.

I also love how the creators of this game hid several QR codes to scan in the game. I uncovered some GIFs with it. I’m so curious with I’ll find on my second playthrough. Yes, you read it correctly, I’ll probably play through this game more then once. Not only since the highest difficulty provides all pages to find but also because of several paths I didn’t explore and I wish I did.

One other complaint I have is that the driving is a bit broken. It’s too loose. You sometimes feel like you’re riding on ice. And with sudden tight corners in the road, this game makes the driving not so easy. Plus, your car can break down. Excellent, yet a damage meter is nowhere to be seen.

While the ammo for your weapons is extremely scare, you’ll never be without bullets. If you don’t waste them that is. With a human jump and a limited sprint, this gameplay can’t be any more talked about I guess. On to the next segment! Like in the game. It’s also in parts. And when you reach the next part, a quick recap plays. This makes being up to speed with the story such an easy task.

Well lit room

poltergeistLet’s first talk about this game’s soundtrack. I like almost every track. Some songs at the end aren’t really my style but I won’t talk bad on the game because of this. The set the mood like it should. The music gets tense when it needs to. And the music gets lighthearted when there is drama.

And the sound design is how I think it should be in all games of this genre. All weapons are such a blast to use because of this. Except, I miss a bit of a ticking sound for the flash bang. But that’s the only change I would do in the sound department.

And does this game gets tense. A full 100% yes please! The further you go, the more I got on the edge of my seat. This game provides a lot of challenge. One or two parts where a bit unfair but hey, that I can let slip.

The level design is excellent. I never really felt stuck and it was always clear in which direction I should head. Thanks to the ability to press “F” to focus on the part Alan was talking about makes that you have more control in your hands and that’s something I can only applaud. The only thin I should have dropped was the clicking to start an engine for light. One time it got a bit too difficult to remain fun.

Oh, now I suddenly remember that I should have mentioned in the gameplay section that there are various additional collectibles to find. Well, now that I mention it here, I can say that this games it’s length is great. I have beaten it on normal difficulty in 18 hours. Yet, I know that I skipped some parts and I haven’t finished the DLC. And I truly look forward to beat this game again with the developer commentary playing in my headset. Yeah, I advice you that you play this game with a headset, it makes the experience a lot better.

There are also parts in the game that you play with a side kick. And it’s AI is great. I had moments where I really was saved by the AI. And there where moments where the enemies really took me off guard. And I like how the animation helps you see enemies swarm you from different directions. This makes the possibility of cheap deaths go down so much. But before we talk about that, I want to say that I had to try some parts several times. Not because of cheap things but because I was truly taken off guard or I took the situation on with a wrong weapon. The bosses really require that you use the tactics of the weapons and ammo that you have.

So to finish this review, I’ll talk about the visuals and animation. And wow, the visuals are just mind blowing. The excellent voice work really shines through here. With nice and extremely well done locations, it’s a joy to walk around in this game’s setting. Nothing feels out of place and the developer really made it in such a way that this game might be real as well. The character’s detail is also well done.

I also like how you get a nice death animation when you kill the last enemy of the attacking group or when you die. The animation might have a hiccup here and there, it’s not really noticeable when you don’t pay attention to it or when you don’t look at it with a reviewer’s eye.

So, let’s wrap up this special longer review here and let’s get right to my conclusion, shall we?

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great setting.

+ Nice gameplay.

+ Decent length.

+ Pretty epic soundtrack.

+ And much more.

The bad:

– The driving is a tad bit broken. A damage indicator and improved driving would be welcome.

– The switching of weapons isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Conclusion:

When even MiseryLC talks about this game, you may be sure it’s quality content. He didn’t play this game, he only saw a let’s play of the sequel. And I agree with my statement there. This game is a mindblowing experience. One that every one should play that likes adventure and horror games.

The presentation is unique. In terms of visuals and the story. It’s different yet familiar. It’s really worth to check this game out on Steam and play it right now.

I truly had trouble looking for negative parts of this game. This is one gem that should be high on everybody’s list. And it’s even a port from a XBOX360 game. Take that, a well made port.

Play this game, you won’t regret it.

Score: 95 / 100

Neko Vlog #26: Shame on me for not telling this & set-up.

Review #009: James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes (3DS) review ~ A lot of cheese!

James-Noirs-Hollywood-Crimes-cover

Wikipedia entry of this game.

Before I got myself the latest Professor Layton, I played this game on my 3DS. It’s one of the first games I finished on my 3DS. All over the internet, people find this a mediocre game. In this review, I will tell you if I agree or don’t agree. Let’s try to look at this game separate from Professor Layton. In my previous review of Corpse Party on the PSP, I compared the game way too much with Virtue’s Last Reward and thankfully a forum member pointed it out. Thanks for the feedback BloodCatNS. Anywho, this game is created by Ubisoft, the guys behind a load of pet games on the DS and the very successful Assassins Creed. Did they create a great game here or are the reviews pulling at the right end calling it mediocre? Let’s solve this bad-boy and crack the codes. Time to review this game on the 3DS. Oh, the game has its own site, but I didn’t link it since it’s inside a collection site of all 3DS games Ubisoft made. But the Wikipedia article contains all your information needs. 

Loads of cheese

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Let me tell you, this game suffers from a lot of cheese. Wait, you aren’t following me? Well, the story is extremely cheesy. It’s a story you don’t need to take seriously at all. The story was one I could predict nearing the end.

The voice acting added towards the story being cheesy. I’m glad to see that this story doesn’t take itself seriously and frankly, it helps in this game. The story feels a fresh change of pace instead of having a weak flat story that you barely remember in the end.

The consequence is that the story is somewhat memorable. It has been a few months since I played this game, and I still remember parts of the story. And that are signs of a well-crafted story.

I’m not going to lie or praise a bad story too much, but it isn’t too bad that it takes you out of the experience. The point I’m getting across here is that it does its job but doesn’t go beyond that to try and impress you. But what’s unique is that at the start of the game, you have to take a profile picture of yourself and when your character looks in the mirror, you actually get a live feed from the 3DS camera, which is an amazing idea. This pulls you in the game even more since you feel involved.

Creative, yet done before. 

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This game gives me the impression to be a very creative one, yet I sometimes felt that some puzzles have been done before. This is mainly because of the unique use of puzzles. There are sliding puzzles and many classics but there are also new puzzles I haven’t seen a lot in games like these.

Many puzzles are quite challenging. Like the puzzle in the screenshot, I even needed to take out a notepad to make notes. And if a game manages to make you do that, it’s a good game in terms of puzzles. I heard in another review that the puzzles feel fresh, and I agree. In the story, you play in a game show to look for a killer. And thanks to this, you can choose which puzzles you solve. This helps with the replay value of the game and when you don’t feel like solving a sliding puzzle, well, you can take other puzzles.

You also get fan mail and hate mail too. This is an extremely neat addition in the game. It feels a bit like the downloadable puzzles from Professor Layton but you don’t need to do the effort to actually download them.

The amount of puzzles is great too. As far as I know, there are about 150 puzzles you can solve. And this will take a great deal of your time.

The 3D doesn’t add a whole lot to the game but I think that isn’t such a big deal in these puzzle games.

Far from perfect.

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Where does this game fall felt on its face? Well, that’s an easy question. The game repeats the story way too much. I rolled my eyes at the number of times the game got stopped where you got an overview of what happened. I have seen games that do this way better. Another Code: R, for example, has a small quiz at the end of each chapter and Professor Layton displays a summary before loading your save file.

Also, the graphics are where I think they made a wrong turn. While the backgrounds and the puzzles look great, the characters actually don’t look all that neat. They feel like early green screen and quickly pasted on the backgrounds. They feel somewhat out of place. And I don’t like it.

Another part of the game that doesn’t do a great job is the music. Normally I remember the music of each game I play but from this game, I can’t remember any melodies. Vaguely I might remember parts but the music is a missed opportunity.

Also, there is an issue with the length of this game. It might have 150 puzzles, this game can be easily beaten in a few days. The game is short, way to short for this style of game.

And what’s a big shame is, yes there are typo’s in the game! And not one or two, there are a few. Almost like they forgot to proofread this game. An example is this screenshot you can easily find some grammar issues. “TOUCH tiles to highlight a path to cross the grid.” Yup, that’s this game for you.

I’m out of things to say about the game, time for my conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Unique puzzles.

+ Challenging.

+ Details like fan mail is a nice touch.

+ Your face in the game, man I have never felt more involved.

+ Great freedom in choosing your puzzles.

The bad:

– It’s over way too quickly.

– Graphically, the animation and characters feel dated.

– The music is generic.

– Typo’s in a visual novel?!

– Way too many times you get reminded of what happened.

Conclusion:

Is this a good game? Yes, it is. Is this a great game? No, it isn’t. The game has a certain charm that hasn’t been created in a long time. Yet, it’s too flawed to stand out. It also doesn’t do anything new. It’s just a puzzle game. I can barely bring up arguments to tell you why this game is better than the others.

Comparing this to Professor Layton isn’t doing it any good either. Then this game feels like shovelware. Yet, this game still has its moments. So, if you can pick it up for cheap, I would recommend it.

This game comes recommended as a snack, to play between two game releases you are waiting for. But don’t expect an amazing game. It has too many missed opportunities for that.

Score: 68 / 100