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Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

downloadToday I want to talk about something extremely objective subjective. Something not a lot of people agree on. That subject is the difficulty in games. This isn’t unique to video gaming, since other entertainment mediums can be difficult to understand, analyze or appreciate. But, difficulty is one of the most important factors in gaming. In order to write this article, I have asked in various groups what their opinions about game difficulty are. Are games today too easy? Are difficult games fun to play? Are old school games too difficult? I got some extremely interesting replies. Now, if you have your own opinion on this subject, I would love to talk about it in the comment section down below. Of course, keep it civil down there, everybody has a different opinion.

My own views on game difficulty.

Keep in mind that the following thoughts and opinions are mine. It’s quite possible that you think in a different way due to your different experiences in gaming and/or life. Like I said in the introduction of this article, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions on the content of this article and or the subject. With that out of the way, on with the show.

Now, with such a broad subject as game difficulty, it’s quite tricky to give a full opinion. In the introduction alone, I gave a few different angles I could take this article. In addition to that, this subject is extremely subjective. For example, I’m not rhythmic at all. When I talk about the DS, a lot of people talk about games like Elite Beat Agents, a rhythm game. I have to admit that I find this game too difficult.

pokemon goFirst of all, let’s talk about a sentence you often hear us older players say: “Games today are too easy.” Are they really too easy? Well, they became easier in one way but more challenging too. For example, take the Pokémon games. When Game Freak remade the 3rd generation on Nintendo 3DS, one of the biggest complaints was that the game was too easy. And yes, I finished the game without losing 3 battles during the whole playthrough and 2 of these loses were because I wasn’t paying attention during the battle and forgot to heal my Pokémon and the other loss was because I forgot that grass was weak to flying and I most had grass Pokémon in a flying gym. Whoops.

photoNow, why do I think that games can be too easy now-a-days? That’s has two reasons. The first reason is because games just got more accessible. Because the growth of the hobby, a lot more people play video games. So, there need to be ways for every style of player to play video games, even the youngest ones. Thankfully, you have difficulty options that can provide the other players with some additional challenge. Sadly enough, not all games do this. In most games, the difficulty settings have a small explanation to what each level means.

And this brings me to the second reason why games are too easy now-a-days and that’s skill. I have been playing games since I was a young lad. I started playing games give or take 21 years ago. During these years, I have played a TON of games and got a TON of different experiences. That means I have seen quite a lot and the chances of a puzzle stumping me or a fight being too difficult get slimmer with every game I play.

Is this a bad thing? Depends on what you are looking for in a game. Do you want a game that challenges your strategizing skills or the ability to solve puzzles than the lower difficulty can be a problem. If you are looking for a game to play to pass the time, in that case the drop in difficulty shouldn’t matter that much.

resident evil 4It’s always a difficult balancing act in how difficult you make your game. Since if a game is too difficult, people will stop playing. A great example for me is Resident Evil 4. There is a section in that game where during an already hectic fight, two chainsaw enemies spawn that kill you instantly when they come to close. There were three times that one of those enemies actually spawned right behind me, giving me no time nor room to turn around and defend myself. These moments I actually rage quitted the game. Another example is Atelier Rorona. The amount of depth in this game is just insane. You have to think about so many things like the freshness of ingredients, how long it takes to collect them and get them home, the amount of MP you have to fight and or craft… It was quite challenging to balance all of these things.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedThat brings me to the question, what makes a game difficult and how difficult should a game be? It speaks for itself that how more layers of gameplay and mechanics you add, the more difficult a game becomes. Take Europa Universalis 4 for example. In this grand strategy game, there are so many mechanics; it’s not even funny anymore. The complexity of a game can turn some people off. I would love to play Europe Universalis 4 with more people but most of my friends don’t understand how the game works or get too scared when they hear how many things they need to think about while playing the game.

In a way, the difficulty of a game can limit your audience. I would love to play a game like Cuphead, but from what I have seen and tried, the game is a bit too much for me. I don’t really like games that depend on memorization or trying over and over again. This makes the game boring and repetitive in my eyes. For me personally, I want to have a great time while I’m playing games. I want some parts to be challenging and test the skills I learned during the game and I want some sections to be easy to play through so I can relax and enjoy the game.

SI_NDS_NewSuperMarioBrosDS_image1600wA game series that nailed difficulty in my opinion are the Super Mario World games. In these games, you learn by playing the game. You might have heard this explanation in various other video’s or articles but if you haven’t heard it yet, allow me to explain. At the start of the level, you are able to experiment with a new level mechanic in a safe area. One where you can easily avoid the enemies and you don’t have death pits. And the further you go in the level, the more challenging the mechanic or level gimmick becomes. And during the later and last stages of the game, all the challenges are combined into one big final set of levels that test your skills and what you learned through the game. In a way, you can compare it to school. The early levels and sections are the classes while the later levels and finale of the game is the final test/exam.

Now, should games become “NES-hard” again? To be honest, I think we shouldn’t do that. In the current gaming climate, we get a lot of games inspired by the more challenging nature of older games and we also get easier games. That means we have options. Now, were all old school games difficult? Were games more challenging in the past? Well, that’s a tricky question to answer.

Tomb Raider LegendFor example, I grew up with the original Tomb Raider games. When I play these games today, I don’t have a lot of trouble with jumping from platform to platform. Of course, due to the limitations of the systems at the time, it wasn’t always clear to which ledge you should jump and how you should make that jump. In more recent games, the better visual presentation helps out with that problem a lot. This “issue” became clear when I did the Tomb Raider project. Some people in that collaboration had never played an old school Tomb Raider game and gave it a try for the first time. And because they were more used to the newer style of the series or the newer style of play in more modern games, they had trouble during the game.

Something I often got during me search for writers in the Tomb Raider project was: “Also the old Tomb Raider games that aged poorly?” or something similar. I completely agree that the original Tomb Raider games aged poorly. The newer Tomb Raider games, and not per se the more modern games, play better because the developers improved their craft and learned a lot from developing the previous entries in the series.

I don’t find all retro inspired games that difficult. I was able to beat some without much trouble like Blossom Tales or Retro Game Challenge. While I did had some trouble in Shovel Knight because I haven’t played a lot of games similar to that.

When I was researching and brainstorming for this article, I came to conclusion that there are 4 types of difficulty in my eyes.

The first type is intended difficulty. This is planned by the developers to challenge you during the game. Think about a Zelda dungeon where you get a new item in a dungeon and you have to learn to use it or remember the places where you were unable to progress and needed to use the item.

The second type is unintended difficulty. This was unplanned difficulty due to bugs, randomness (like RNG or random generation) or just plain bad game design. Or it can be because of things like certain mechanics. For example, a lot of people complained when Super Mario 64 DS came out. While it’s a good remake, the controls weren’t loved by various reviews because the original game was designed with a joystick in mind while the DS didn’t have a joystick.

The first two types can be mixed with the other two types.

The third type is fair difficulty. With this I mean, the game provides you with a challenging and rewarding experience. Like, you finally figured out how to beat that one puzzle or beat that one boss.

The forth type of difficulty is , you guessed it, unfair difficulty. Now, this can be because of bad and or lazy game design but this can also be a huge spike in difficulty. A great example is Suikoden Tierkreis for me. Overall, the game is somewhat easy. If you don’t skip too many battles and pay attention to what you are doing, the game isn’t all too challenging. I rarely to never saw the game over screen. Until, I came at the final boss. This annoying battle gets such a difficulty spike made me not fully finish the game and actually look up the ending online. Now, while writing this article, I actually restarted playing the game and I’m hell bent in finally beating the game this time.

The more difficulty of type 2 and 4 you have, the worse it becomes for your game. One time a developer asked me to review an Android game. In this game, you had to feed various foods to some customers. The issue was, all of the dishes were based on Asian dishes and I’m European. I barely know anything about the Asian cuisine. The unfair difficulty in this game is that almost nothing was explained in the game about the foods themselves. So, I was unable to figure out which food was what, so it became a guessing game.

Another example of unfair difficulty is more recent. A developer asked me to review a Switch game they just released. The game is a twin stick shooter and in the shooting tutorial, there were two spawners in the room that spawned so many enemies so quickly, it became overwhelming. You shouldn’t put so many enemies in the first level of your game while the player is still learning the basic mechanics of the game. That’s unfair.

headerDoes a game like Dark Souls have unfair difficulty? Well no, the game is quite balanced in my opinion. There is a lot of risk and reward gameplay, the punishment is just a bit too harsh in my opinion. But the game becomes beatable when you learn the finer details of the game and get used to the inner workings of the game.

The line and difference between the four types is really thin and makes it still personal. Speaking of personal, some people talk proudly when they were able to beat a certain game on the highest difficulty. While that is impressive, you shouldn’t look down upon people having trouble on the lower difficulties. While my gaming buddy MiseryLC can beat the AI in Europe Universalis IV on hard, I feel that the normal difficulty provides just enough challenge for me.

I think it would be a great development if all games have difficulty sliders. The more you can adjust the difficulty, the better. Something I really loved in the Etrian Odyssey series is that you can change the difficulty setting when you are in the town without any other punishments. This is great, because when I was unable to beat a certain boss and almost stopped playing, I was able to lower the difficulty a bit so I was able to beat the boss and move on. After I had beaten the boss, I set the difficulty back on normal. This is a perfect system since people can choose how easy or hard you want the game to be.

Now, I have said quite a lot about the topic now. To avoid this article becoming a bit too long or having too much rambling, I think it’s time to let some of my friends talk. I want to thank everybody for their input since they helped me quite a lot while putting my thoughts together for this article.

How others think about difficulty.

Now, I asked around on various groups on Discord and Facebook on their opinions on game difficulty. Here is what they have to say. Note, some quotes I translated from Dutch to English. Some quotes had minor edits since sometimes contained an answer to another topic in the conversation or something in those lines.

The following quotes come from a Facebook group where Belgian retro game collectors gather.

Ward: “Some games are pretty challenging due to their difficulty like Slain and Cuphead. But other games hold your hand, but that doesn’t always take away from the fun of the game. It really depends on the game and how enjoyable the story is.”

Hakim: “Sometimes a too difficult game can be really frustrating. And out of this frustration, the game can go on my shelves to be never played again.”

Kenny: “Personally, I think that the player should have a choice how difficult the game should be. Some games I play personally for the story and not for an extreme challenge.”

Mayu: “For me, a game can never be too difficult. I’ll play until the end as long as the difficulty, challenge, story and such are fun. It already happened that I was disappointed when I bought a new game and I finished it without issue. The solution for this is lately, collection or completion rewards. Some of them are really letdowns. In the past, gaming was a very niche hobby. When a game was too difficult, you just had to try and try again. But, now that gaming isn’t a niche hobby anymore, the difficult games don’t sell that well anymore. And with companies trying to make as much profit as possible…”

Koen: “Making a game extremely difficult is no issue for me. As long as all the elements of the game are fun, it doesn’t matter to me. I really enjoy the rewarding feeling of finally being able to beat a game at the highest difficult setting after trying on it for weeks and seeing the real/true ending. But, when the story is garbage and I have to replay the game on a harder difficulty setting, I won’t be spending my time on a new playthrough.”

Niels: “As long as a game stays fair, it’s worth my time. Nowadays, there are a lot of games that are too easy for everybody to play. From endless tutorial sections to special power-ups when you die a lot and sometimes even a skip button, these are just a few things that you find more and more in modern games. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as they are optional or are disabled by higher difficulty settings. Something I really want to stress, a game that is too difficult thanks to bad enemy placement, terrible controls or bad decisions is a bad game.”

Xavier: “I prefer easier games. There are a lot of games that are quite enjoyable to play. It doesn’t matter to me if games are shorter, I usually buy them at a lower price after they have been released for a while. It’s better then having to play a game where you have to retry a section 20 times to finish it.”

Dennis: “I usually start a game on normal mode. Depending on my experience, I raise or lower the difficulty. So, this means that I play some games on easy, some on normal and some on the hardest difficulty. I don’t really enjoy games where you respawn a thousand times before you can continue and especially when you have the same issue 10 minutes later in the next section. If I enjoyed the game enough, I might replay it on a higher difficulty setting. Most of the games interest me for somewhere between 10 to 20 hours. But, this is absolutely not the case for me with Final Fantasy games.”

The following opinions are from fellow bloggers or friends in the blogging world.

Aiphafemaie: “A couple thoughts – I think games felt more difficult in the past because you had to rely more on yourself to figure out how to pass levels or quests. Or printing out walkthroughs from GameFaqs.com lmao.  Now when you’re stuck, you can just to YouTube and see how it’s done. I don’t think games were more difficult in the past, but “difficult” is a subjective word.  Today’s games do have varying difficulty modes, in comparison to the past. Before most games could only be played on default.”

TwoTall4uFool: “I think there was a lot of trial and error with games back in the 80’s and 90’s. Even in the 2000’s. Aiphafemaie you bring up a great point about GameFaqs but there are some games out there that I would’ve never beaten if it wasn’t for Game Genie/Gameshark. Today in games you have tutorials and of course there is YouTube. And even with plug and plays such as the SNES Classic you can rewind and try a part again if you fail. And plus suspend you point. So emulating older games have made them easier ….. sort of.”

ReaperInteractive: “I agree with @aiphafemaie . Games in the past had no clear instructions or clear, “Go here to pass to the next level.” Games nowadays are a lot more direct and I feel that developers intentianally make these instructions extremely clear as to make the game as playable and prevent people from giving up midway. A little more on the note. There have been games where the instructions were so unclear that I literally had no clue what to do and ended up giving up. Another reason I feel that games nowadays are a lot easier is because we’ve played the same basic mechanic over and over again as to games in the past, there were hundreds of different mechanics. Most games nowadays can be grouped into a couple dozen genres with the same mechanic and controls. Contrary to this, I feel that games in the past are composed of hundreds of different genres, some completely new to the people hence why I feel that why games in the past are a tad more difficult than those of our age.”

The Well Red Mage: “I think that games can still pretty hard now, some of them, but there are new varieties of games now. There are brutal platformers as a subgenre now that are built on difficulty, but then there are also walking simulators and interactive movies now that eschew difficulty almost entirely. I think some would say that the difficulty of retro games was such that it was unfair, but I think that the lives systems and the memorization of patterns (two very retro-centric ideas of difficulty) are perfectly valid; we maybe just don’t have the toleration for them that we used to. Those games were still demanding something of the player (memory or timing). So I think this is a conversation that benefits from specifics like specific games and specific features in those games that bring difficulty into the equation (memorization, level design, limited options or limited chances to complete a challenge, longer periods without save features, increasing speed, item management, enemy AI… all those things are specific features that games then and now used and use to create difficulty).”

The Badly Backlogged Mage/MrBacklog: “I think the obvious-but-unhelpful answer is “as difficult as they need to be to convey the desired experience”. Dark Souls, the Walking Dead and Mario Party are all different in terms of difficulty because they’re going for different experiences.”

OverThinkerY: “I think there are different ways of adding difficulty – Backlogged makes a good point about those games being difficult in different ways as part of the experience. There’s perhaps the most classic sort of difficulty, which is reacting and executing the right series of inputs quickly enough to proceed, and then there are things more dependent on memory, ingenuity, or sheer emotional fortitude. I think there are more examples these days of different sorts of difficulty other than simply pressing buttons accurately, which might be down to better tech or just natural progression, but it enables different kinds of experiences to be made effective in that way.”

Mail Order Ninja Mage/Daniel Flatt: “Difficulty is the hardest thing to get right in video games. If you push back too hard you lose all but your most dedicated player, if you don’t present any challenge then moderately skilled players become bored. Like everyone said above it is drastically different depending on the game and furthermore the individual playing.

That being said games aren’t necessarily easier than they were before, but they have become better at not wasting our time. Games previously were artificially hard, first because checkpoints and saves weren’t a thing, and then because many NES games are a handful of hours long without constantly starting over. They had to have that difficulty to make the game worth it, can’t have Billy coming to you after an hour and asking for a new game. I dare anyone to play B side levels of Celeste and say games are easier, but the difference is you don’t have to play through the same 30 minutes over and over to finally get through something and die 20 seconds later to start all over.

The best games have difficulty determined by the player, Nintendo excels at this, but one of the best examples is Ori. It has a function where you basically create your own checkpoints or don’t, depending on your preference. It could be brutally hard, but if I get to try again right away for a certain section it wasn’t wasting my time making me play the same section a hundred times.”

Now, as you can read, the opinions are extremely diverse when it comes to difficulty. This brainstorm was extremely interesting to do. I honestly think that I’ll return to this topic in future. Before I close this article, I want to point you to an article created by Rob “I Played The Game” Covell that he wrote in 2017 about the same subject. “A Difficult Conversation”.

Closing off

Like I said in the previous paragraph, the conversation of how difficult a game could be or if games are too easy now-a-days gets quite diverse opinions. While this topic could be discussed for hours and the opinions will go in various directions, I think I’ll close off this article here. I’m quite curious what everybody thinks. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic on a later date.

If you have written or talked about this subject in the past or know a great resource like another article or video, feel free to send me a message with the link. Maybe I’ll included it in the next article. And with that said, I think I’ll really end off this article. Thank you everybody for helping me putting this article together. It was a blast. 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, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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Gamer’s Thoughts: Super Mario Odyssey isn’t a perfect game.

Super_Mario_OdysseyOfficial website

I wanted to write a review about this game for quite a while. I have finished this game over a month ago and I haven’t written a first impression or a review about this game. I want to fix that today. But, instead of writing a review I wanted to do something special. While the game got praise from other bloggers left and right, I want to point out some of the flaws and issues I have with the game. Disclaimer, I don’t think this is a bad game but I want to explain my reasoning for why I wouldn’t give this game a 100/100. So, let’s get critical and look at this game again. As per usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts on the game and/or the game. 

Mini-review

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So, what do I actually think about this game? While it’s a very unique and enjoyable game, I found the game quite repetitive.

The music and sound design were amazing but I sometimes had trouble with the controls and more advanced moves.

The visuals are amazing and I loved running around in all the different kingdoms but I found the story lacking and I expected a lot more from the hype and praise it got.

If I would have to give my score for this game it would be an 80/100. Since in my eyes, the game could have done so much more and it left me disappointed in some areas of the game.

This game has a lot to love. Like I said, the visuals, the music, the concept… they are all amazing. The attention to detail is amazing. Cappy is one of the most helpful companions I have seen in a while. Yet, I felt like I enjoyed this game less then the other 3D platformers I played like A Hat In Time. So yeah, personally I felt that there was something lacking. Something that kept me from fully enjoying the game and that thought exercise resulted in this article.

Breath of the Wild did it better

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The story has one big issue and that’s the open world and the overkill of moons you can collect. Now, not too long before the release of this game, Nintendo released The Legend Of Zelda – Breath of the Wild. In this game, you were also able to run around freely and gather the things you need to finish the game.

Now, there is a big difference in how the story is handled in the Zelda games and in the Mario games. The big difference is in how the ending is handled. And if you don’t want either of these games spoiled, just start reading when the text is black again. If you don’t mind the spoilers, just highlight the next part in order for you to read it.

So, in each kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey, there is a story quest you can complete to easily get enough moons to advance to the next kingdom. But, this is an open world game so you can skip this story quest by collecting other moons. Fair enough. You can do the same thing in the Zelda game. You don’t have to defeat the divine beasts in order for you to go to the final boss. 

Now, here is the difference between the two games. If you don’t defeat the Divine Beasts in Breath of the Wild, you will have a harder time before you go and do the battle with Ganon. Since you will need to defeat them before you can fight with Ganon. The more Divine Beasts you beat, the easier you make it for yourself during the final battle. Since they bring down Ganon’s health to half if you have beaten all 4 Divine Beasts. This is not only good story writing, it’s also an amazing reward for the player. You helped free the souls from their prisons and they came back one last time to help the hero in his quest to defeat evil. 

In Super Mario Odyssey, this doesn’t matter at all. I haven’t finished the story quest in three kingdoms and it doesn’t have any difference on the ending scenes or on the final battle at all. So, why should I bother saving or helping people in a certain kingdom? When I entered a kingdom, I felt like I was dropped in a zone and if I found enough goodies I was allowed to go to the next zone. 

Another thing Breath of the Wild did better then Super Mario Odyssey are the Korok Seeds vs Moons. Now, you get both items as rewards for solving puzzles or doing small challenges in the world.  At some moments I felt like Super Mario Odyssey was the whole Korok Seed quest with a Mario skin. Now, I felt rewarded when I found a Korok Seed. Even when I had beaten the game. It gave me another chance to upgrade my bag so I was able to carry more equipment in the game and experiment more.

Now, besides needing them to continue in the main story, there are no additional rewards for collecting moons. Besides unlocking one more world/level, and maybe two small completion bonus things at the end of the game, I didn’t feel any incentive to collect these moons. I felt like I was on a fetch quest for them just because it’s a video game.

The final thing that Breath of the Wild did better is the towers and map mechanics. Yes, the towers. I loved climbing towers in Breath of the Wild and looking over the whole zone trying to find interesting areas to visit. I felt a lack of that in Super Mario Odyssey. Also, the mechanic where you could pin beams of light on the map as markers for you to visit later… man, that would have been great in Super Mario Odyssey as well.

And it would fit the visual theming of the game extremely well. The map of each kingdom is a travel brochure of the kingdom. And let’s be honest, how many times you wrote on the map of a travel brochure to mark certain areas you still want to visit.

And a final and possibly a minor thing is that Breath of the Wild felt more interconnected. The best way to explain here is, ask yourself this. You can walk over from region to region in Breath of the Wild easily. You need to fly over from kingdom to kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. And while it’s on a planet, you are able to fall into a void if you reach the edge of a kingdom.

A Hat In Time did it better

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Now, I’m certain that people will disagree with me on this but I felt that the controls of A Hat In Time felt better than Super Mario Odyssey.

It’s no secret that I’m not the best in platforming games. So, the running up walls move in A Hat In Time was a godsend to me.

But, the issue is that nowadays, I miss various jumps because I try to rely on that mechanic. It gets better when I kept playing Super Mario Odyssey but I missed that mechanic. Not only that, I got so much used to the dive move in A Hat In Time. I was able to pull off more advanced moves than I ever could in a platforming game. With the 2nd dive/jump, you were able to stop at any time you want. So, if you noticed that you overshoot the jump, you can save yourself easily.

So, at that moment I started comparing the moves I was able to pull off in A Hat In Time to Super Mario Odyssey. And I felt like I was more in control in A Hat In Time. For example, I can’t pull off the Cappy Jump at all in Super Mario Odyssey but I’m able to defeat the hardest jumping challenges in A Hat In Time. I don’t know what’s going on exactly, but I think it has to do with the two things I said above.

Or it might have to do with me being more used to the XBOX360 controller I play A Hat In Time with compared to the first game I had beaten on Nintendo Switch. Maybe when I’m more used to the Switch controller, I might be able to do these more difficult moves.

Other things

Now, remember, I still enjoyed myself with Super Mario Odyssey and it’s still a great game. But, I have seen other games do certain aspects better. Besides that, are there other things I don’t like about Super Mario Odyssey?

The motion controls were also a big issue for me. I played a lot of this game on the go. On the train from and to work. And I think that I’m unable to get a few moons easily without those motion control moves. But, that’s mentioned in almost every review I have seen. And as pointed out by some, why weren’t they able to remap those moves to certain buttons that went barely used in the game like ZL/ZR?

Besides that, I think I have said my main issues with the game. I could go on and extremely nitpick, but that would make this article boring to read. Like I felt each world should have its own Rabbit mini-boss and not repeat them over several worlds with barely any differences…

In the end and I have mentioned this multiple times, I think that this game is wonderful, one of the best games Nintendo has put out in 2017. While it isn’t their best game from 2017, it’s in the top 5. While I feel that this game deserves a lot of praise, it could have done things a lot better and I hope I was able to point that out in this article.

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

Gamer’s Thoughts: Gaming Style & Reviewing

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The question I’m asking today is: “Does the gaming style influences the reviews of the games a reviewer played?” and more importantly, should that influence the review? How subjective or objective do you have to be to write a good review? Let’s have a chat about this topic. While I won’t be able to cover everything, I invite you to a discussion down in the comment section and who knows, a part 2 of this article might be written. So, let’s try and answer these questions. 

Gaming style & reviewing

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I recently finished Super Mario Odyssey. While it’s on my “write about” list, I haven’t written a review about it yet. Because I do have a big problem with it and that is the jumping controls.  Don’t get me wrong, they work amazingly, but I can’t for the life of me do those jumps using Cappy to go over further distances.

I have always been terrible at platforming. For my birthday, my best friend gifted me a copy of the game Celeste on Steam. A sort of Super Meat Boy inspired game where you climb a mountain while doing tricky jumping.

I didn’t get too far into the game before I got too frustrated with the game. I did enjoy myself and had a great time, but I haven’t played it too much since I closed it.

Now, how would I describe my gaming style? Well, I’m a jack of all trades. Since I’m a retro game collector, I play puzzle, racing, fighting, adventure, action, shooter… But, I don’t have a lot of genres I excel at. The genres I struggle the least with are puzzle & adventure games.

I also rarely to never play a game on hard mode. I can’t explain why, but I like to play games on normal mode and if I want more challenge, I play the game on hard mode. I think this is because I don’t want to get stuck in the game. I’m always afraid that when I play on hard, I get stuck on a part that I have to do over and over again. I know that’s the point I’ll get frustrated and stop playing the game.

These are things that influence my review. Now, before we break open the whole Cuphead Demo thing again, where a reviewer was so bad at controlling the game; he was unable to get past the tutorial, I’ll always do research. For example, I wouldn’t criticize the Super Mario Odyssey controls too harshly because I wasn’t able to do the Cappy jump while almost every other reviewer was able to do it without an issue.

The gaming style influences the review for sure. That’s why I dislike reviewing games of the genres I rarely play. I only review games in genres I know I enjoy playing. Now, do I think that you need to be good at the game to review it? Well, that’s a tricky question. A very tricky question. More on that later in this article.

Objective vs subjective

maxresdefault.jpgShould you be objective or subjective in a game review? To be honest, I think you should be both. At least, that’s what I do in my reviews.

If I would be writing the Super Mario Odyssey review now, I would say something along the lines of: “While the jumping controls are excellent and work well, I wasn’t able to figure out how you do the dive and/or double jump with Cappy. Maybe I should look through the excellent list of tutorials again. Since I feel like I’m the only one who is unable to do that jump.”

If you stay 100% objective in a review, I dislike reading it. These reviews are playing it safe and don’t have any personality. I love reading and watching reviews because I want to know how somebody felt about a game.

Now, when does a review become a bad review? Well, I think I can explain my point with this example. What if I wrote this about the Cappy jump in Super Mario Odyssey: “The Cappy jump is too difficult to execute if you aren’t a master with the controls of the game. So, if you want to get these moons, you will have to make some frustrating jumps or grind for coins and buy them in the shops.” This is something nearing the edge of being a bad review.

I always recommend that you look up other reviews when you are creating your own. You can agree or disagree with what the masses are saying, but don’t assume things like: “you need to have mastered the controls of game X to execute Y.”

Now, does a reviewer need to be good at a game in order to be able to review it? Here are my two cents: sort of. I have seen various reviewers make the mistake of saying: “A game is easy or you can do X and Y to make things happen.” if they are very skilled with the game. This is a mistake because of one simple reason, not everyone has the same skill set as you.

256px-Indiana_Jones_and_the_Infernal_MachineToday I have been comforted by a perfect example. I showed my godchild how 3D adventure games work like Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. An amazing game that I know inside and out. A game I even dare speedrun here and there. Something that comes extremely naturally to me is running around in a 3D space and using Aa running start to jump over big pits. My godchild wasn’t able to make that jumps and had to try several times. Yet, she still enjoyed playing the game and wanted to see more of the adventure. And before you ask, I was 11 (or something like that) when I had beaten this game for the first time and my godchild is 15 at the moment of writing.

Now, would my godchild write a bad review of this game? Well, yes and no. She would complain about how strange the controls feel and how the enemies scare her in a 3D-space. I think those kinds of reviews aren’t bad reviews per se, to be honest. I don’t think that a reviewer needs to be able to be one of the best players to review the game but they shouldn’t be one of the worst players. I have actually declined a few review requests because I wasn’t able to even beat the first levels. I didn’t want to review those games since I felt I couldn’t do the game justice.

You should at least be able to perform all basic mechanics of the game before you should review it. Otherwise, I think you shouldn’t review the game. Even when you write the review based on the input of other people who are good at the game or know more about the genre, you can have a malformed article, since the soul of the review isn’t there.

You can still enjoy a game even when you aren’t good at playing the game. Another perfect example is Pokémon. I just catch the Pokémon I like and use the same six throughout the whole adventure. I rarely swap my Pokémon for another one. When I have a water type in my party to beat the ground and fire, I’m happy. Even when it’s the weakest water type. This isn’t the best strategy and I always have a lot of trouble defeating the elite 4 or my friends in battle. Yet, I still enjoy Pokémon quite a lot. That much, that I still play it to this day. Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire and Gold & Silver are my favorite Pokémon games ever.

There is one huge thing that I haven’t mentioned throughout this whole thought exercise and that’s the goal of the review. In my opinion, you have two main types of reviews. One is the review to entertain and the other is the review to inform. Some people read reviews of games because they want to know if a game is good or not and/or if it’s something they want to play. Others read reviews because they enjoy reading them. I mostly fall in the latter category and I try to write for both categories.

Does the goal change the fact you need to be subjective and objective? No, not at all. The balance of the two changes. If you write a review to entertain, I feel like you can be more subjective. If you write a review to inform, you should be more objective.

Now, what’s a review to entertain and what’s a review to inform? That depends on the reader and which audience the writer is aiming at. I like people reading my content and coming back for other articles, so I try to make it as entertaining as possible. While I have seen reviews in the newspaper which are written to inform parents if the game is too violent or something of that nature. And the reader’s taste plays an important role here as well. I think that is self-explanatory.

Now, this was an interesting thought exercise. Should reviewers be good at a game? Well, the shouldn’t be the best player in the game but they shouldn’t be the worst. Should you stay 100% objective? No, some subjectivity in the article is good. So, what do you think? Let me know down in the comments. I’m rather curious what you think and what you think about my opinion.

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

 

 

NekoJonez’s April 2018 Update

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April 2018 is almost over and there are a few things I would love to tell about the future of my blog. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes, making my life extremely hectic and busy. So, I hope you don’t mind I keep this article extremely short. So, ready, set, go! 

Personal life stuff

Like I said in the introduction, my personal life is quite hectic at the moment. Next week, I’ll have a week off from work. While you would think: “oh, then Jonez has more time for articles.”, that isn’t true at all.

I took a week off from work because the final week of rehearsals for the play I’m in starts up tomorrow. That means I’ll be out of the house each and every evening to perfect the play and have the premiere upcoming Friday.

That’s a lot of work for sure, but during the day, I’ll be a student. Where I’m studying for an upcoming exam in college for my one to least subject. For those who are curious, it’s a SQL-exam.

Also, the past week was exhausting. Long hours at work, studying, acting and I started to play a bunch of new games to review in the future on my blog. I think I better focused on one game. But, hey, I wanted to play some different games too.

In addition to that, I have been buying games left and right, mostly Dutch edutainment games to complete my collection of some series. While I’m glad my collection gets more and more complete, I don’t have the budget right now to buy a Switch. But, one thing is for sure, this year will be the year I’m going to buy a Switch!

Blog work

When April is over, I’ll start making some changes on my blog. At first, I’ll fix typos in older articles and make small changes to articles. Most of those changes will be rewriting sentences that don’t make sense in English. You might have noticed here and there that I use expressions that make sense in Dutch, but not in English. So, that sort of things.

Besides that, I’ll be changing the layout of my overview pages. I’ll be merging some of them and others will have a design change. In addition to that, I’ll be merging some of my categories too. Series I don’t write anymore will go to an archive and other series will become sub-categories… I hope to be able to finish all the work by the end of this year.

For progress on this, follow me on Twitter. I’ll be tweeting out when I updated something. If the update is bigger then usual, I’ll be writing a short post on my Tumblr who, which is set up to give an automatic tweet when posted.

Besides all the reworking of my blog, I’m still fighting against article theft. Recently, I found out that three blogs (!) were stealing content from me again. Thankfully, two of three are down already. This all started with the publication of my Monster Tale review. I, NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming blog, haven’t got any request for using my review on another site… and yet, I found it on three other websites.

Currently, I’m trying everything I can to take down the root of the problem. It’s a website that is advertised by the three theft bots. So, I hope the websites where the accounts are located take them down.

 

Now, to close this section with some other news and that is that I’m thinking about something along the lines of Patreon or a PayPal tip yar. So, anybody who wants to support me, can. Now, where would this money go too you might ask. Well, all the money I earn from my blog will go towards my gaming collection. I’ll only buy games I want to review on my blog.

Now, I’m only thinking about this and I’m curious if there is interest for this. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section down below.

Upcoming articles

So, I have a whole list of articles that will appear in the future. My list is a bit too long in my opinion so some articles might not appear soon but later.

First of all, I want to write a first impression – review article on Neon Valley Revenge. Now that the game has been released on Steam as an Early Access title, I want to write an article about it. But, because I didn’t have the time and I had other developer requests waiting for me, I had to delay it a bit. If I find the time, this article will arrive in early May.

So, what games will be getting an article in the future from me? Well, here is a peak on my list of games I want to talk about. Do keep in mind, that this is subject to change depending on how much time I have and what games grab my interest.

God of Thunder (PC), Popolocrios (PSP), Pokémon Diamon, Pearl & Platinium (DS), Star Stable Online (PC), Drawn To Life (DS), Rob (PC), Project Zero II – Crisom Butterfly (PS2), Rayman (PS1), Mario Strikers (Wii), Tomb Raider Underworld (PC)…

Besides that, I do have some things to talk about I promised on Twitter. I have been asked this question by Bradon Green.

Also, I want to write articles like I wrote last week about my nostalgic memories of a series I love. Other series I want to take a look at in this format are Mario, Zelda, Lego games, Freddi Fish and various others.

The final thing I want to mention is that it’s possible that next week might have no article. Because, like I said earlier, I’m quite busy and my focus is more on my acting group and college. If I do find the time, I’ll write an article. Otherwise, next week will have none. It’s a great idea to follow me on twitter @NekoJonez if you want to keep up to date with the latest things happening.

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

First Impression: Castlavania – Portrait Of Ruin (DS) ~ No Stars For Mario

castlevania portrait of ruin

Wikipedia entry

Back in the day, when I just got the Nintendo DS, I decided that I wanted to try out a horror game. Castlevania was one of the only horror game series I knew about so when I saw this game on the shelves, I decided that I had to have it. Now, I have never really beaten this game, but recently I returned to it. I wanted to beat this game. Now, did I just want to relive a nostalgic game or did I really want to beat this game since I was having so much fun? Let’s take a look at this game and give my opinion about it.

No Stars For Mario

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In this game you play as Jonathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin. They are childhood friends who are going on a journey to protect mankind from evil. When an evil vampire artist revives Dracula’s Castle, the duo springs into action.

There is also an interesting twist in the story. Notice that I started explaining the story with the last names of the characters. Now, look to the cover-art and you might notice that Jonathan wields the legendary vampire-killing all evil defeating, Master Sword… whoops, wrong series. I mean, the Vampire Killer.

But Jonathan is part of the Morris family, the son of John Morris from Castlevania: Bloodlines, and not a Belmot. So, he can’t fully use the abilities of the Vampire Killer.

Now, the story looks like your generic Castlevania story at first, but the more you go into it, the more complex it gets. Most of the story is told through in-engine cut scenes and dialogue boxes. The “voice acting” in the game are various grunts and sounds to give the story more “umph”. There are spoken lines in the game, but those are mostly sound effects or lines spoken by enemies during combat.

I actually don’t mind that the story isn’t voice-acted. The only thing I really miss is a sort of log. To keep track of what story elements happened. Since, when you pick this game up after a few months and don’t remember where you left off; well, you are going to have to spend a time to find out where you need to go.

Which is, on the other hand, not such a bad thing. The difficulty in this game is pretty high for people who aren’t used to this style of gameplay. So, exploring the castle is a great idea to level up Jonathan and Charlotte.

I find the story really interesting and it actually motivates me to try to beat every monster that comes my way. If you decide to play this game, I really advise you to put a lot of time into exploring and learning how each and every enemy works. Also, there is no shame in avoiding enemies, but do know; if you do that, you will have a lot of trouble with bosses.

So, I’ll go more in-depth about the bosses in a moment. But first, I want to talk about paintings. Since, the main antagonist is an evil vampire painter, you discover various paintings in the castle. These transport you to various locations where you can advance the story. There are no “missions” like Super Mario 64. When I played this game back when it was released, I was convinced that there was an easter egg where you could jump into a painting and come out in a sort of corrupted version of Princess Peach’s castle. Yeah, my childhood imagination is interesting to say the least.

“Charlotte” – “Jonathan”

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If you can’t tell from the screenshots, the game looks amazing. To this day, I find this game one of the best looking action/adventure games on the DS. The details in the background are what I find the most impressive in this game. The world really feels alive.

I find this game not that scary. There is a lot of gothic and mythic imagery, but the game doesn’t get under my skin. At the other hand, I wouldn’t give this game to younger kids. There are some bosses that can cause nightmare fuel to young minds.

Like the boss in Land of the Fools. I won’t spoil it, but I can see how this can become nightmare fuel. If you can stomach basic horror elements, you will be fine.

The atmosphere in this game is just amazing. I really like how all bosses are based on real life myths and various enemies have an interesting spin on them. Together with really nice looking animations and a rarely a dip in frame-rate, you can’t complain.

Personally, I like to have the map on one of the screens. The map is extremely handy to have. The blue squares are teleports, the red squares are save points and the yellow square are paintings or locations of extreme interest. The only thing I really miss is that you are unable to place any notes on the map. A feature where you were able to pin locations like in The Legend of Zelda – Link Between Worlds would be been such a blessing. Since some area’s contain loot that you can only access with a certain ability, and marking them would be a great way to support your mind.

Speaking off abilities, some require you to control both characters. With just a press of the button, you can switch between the two. When you are playing as Jonathan, you switch to Charlotte and vice versa. Now, for some reason I find it pretty enjoyable to switch between both characters. They shout each others names each and every time. I’m sometimes easily amused.

You can also have both characters on-screen. The AI to control the other character is decent, but sometimes makes some pretty questionable decisions. You can also use a support ability to avoid more damage. While this sounds overpowered, know that the damage to the 2nd character also counts! So, yeah. Be careful with that.

The castle and such

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If you have played games like Monster Tale and Metroid, you know what you are getting into. This adventure isn’t that long, it can be beaten in an afternoon if you really know what you are doing. Yet, I’m not that good with the combat, so I think it will take a bit longer.

Currently, I think I’m halfway done with the game. I have died quite a lot in this game, but each time I’m making a bit more progress. The biggest flaw in this game is how slow you go from the game over screen back into gameplay.

You get a “Game Over” screen with a barely readable font, that slowly fades into the main menu. Speaking about the main menu, you might find some interesting features there. The only thing I’ll say is that there is a boss rush mode that might help you in the main story line.

The music in this game is really good. When I want to listen to Castlevania music, I always listen to the soundtrack of one of the DS games. I honestly can’t pick my favorite but, all three are my favorite Castlevania soundtracks. Together with the sound design, this game is a joy to the ears. Playing this game without sound takes a lot of the atmosphere away.

Yet, there are a few things that aren’t that good in this game. First of all, you can only attack sideways. You don’t have an attack to hit smaller enemies easily. Unless, you use a weapon like a mace. You can’t attack on top of you either. This caused a lot of unneeded damage.

Actually, that isn’t really a flaw in a way. It’s choosing the right weapon for the job. Now, if only you could swap between weapons a bit more easy, this wouldn’t be such a big problem.

There are a lot of neat touches I really enjoy. The fact you can an opening and closing sound-effect when you open or close the DS is one of them. Another one of them is, how the interface changes to blue when you are equipping items and armor to Charlotte and to pink for Jonathan.

All-in-all, this game is really solid. If you are looking for a challenging Action/Adventure RPG on the go, I can’t recommend this game enough. I’m glad that I picked up this game again since with the skills I have now, I’m able to beat parts that I had a lot of trouble with as a child. This game is a blast to play, but can be very frustrating too when you die over and over again.

Before I close off, I hope one thing. If you are interested in this game; don’t let the publisher’s name scare you away. This has been published when Konami’s reputation was a bit better.

That’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. I’ll go a bit more in-depth about the other aspects when I review this game. But, the review will only happen if I beat this game one day.

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.

Review: A Hat In Time (PC – Steam) ~ Time Pieces Everywhere

Ahatintime.jpgOfficial website

I could start this introduction to this game with talking about how this game took a long time to develop, how this game started on Kickstarter. Yet, that wouldn’t be needed, since that’s a well-known fact about this game. While I have beaten the game, I haven’t 100% it. I’m pretty close, but that doesn’t stop me from writing a review of this game. I played this game on PC, using a wireless XBOX360 controller. So, I hope you are ready to dive into this game since I’m ready to review it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

“Mafia is here to collect”

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In this game, you play as Hat Kid. She is flying home in her spaceship. When she gets into trouble with a mafia dude messing with her spaceship, Hat Kid’s timepieces drop down to the planet below. It’s your goal to find them and collect them all so you can get back home.

The main story of this game is really light-hearted, but it does the job pretty well. The writing of the characters is just amazing. All the characters you encounter on your journey are pretty memorable.

In addition to that, the voice acting is just perfect. Sometimes I really felt that these characters were real. The voice actors may pat themselves on the back for this. I really enjoyed that part of the game.

The story made me laugh several times and made me smile over and over again. The charm and attention to detail in this game is just astounding. In one outdoor level, rain is falling. And Hat Kit is wearing a raincoat in that level.

While the final boss shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who played the first few levels of the first world, the way how the ending is handled and the motivations of the characters wraps up the game nicely. There was even a moment I had to pause the game and put my controller down. The game had hit a personal chord with me. I’m not going to explain why and how to avoid spoiling the end but it’s just great.

Something I really like about this game is how no cutscene drags on for too long. You are right into the gameplay after a few minutes. This is a feeling a lot of other reviewers share with me.

Pretty worlds

A Hat in Time2I could continue to talk for quite a while about the writing, but a review of a game should talk about more than just that. The writing brings so much charm to the game just like the visual presentation. The game just is eye-candy.

The atmosphere that’s created with the visuals is just amazing to look at. I had several moments where I was in awe just finding little secrets in Mafia Town. The world feels alive. Just like the writing, the visual presentation adds so much charm and personality to the game.

Something I only noticed when I watched Nitrorad’s video about A Hat in Time was the different idle animations Hat Kid has. She is so cute and adorable. If I could, I would love to have her in my friend circle without a doubt.

So, the visual presentation, animation, and writing all help build an amazing world. While there are only 4-6 worlds in the game currently, depending if you count the final boss level and the hub or not. This might seem that the game is rather short, and it is.

The game can be beaten in one day if you know what you are doing. Yet, there are rumors floating around that there is more content coming in the future. I also heard that this content is going to be free. Yes, two new free worlds! I can’t wait to play them. If you can’t wait, there is a Steam Workshop and mod support in this game. So, you can play a lot of player created content to ease the wait.

I’m playing this game casually and taking my time with it. I’m taking everything in and think I can complete the game in 20 hours. But, I don’t want the game to be over. I just want to continue to run around in the unique worlds and explore each level as much as I can.

The theming of each world is just amazing. While a lot of people say that their favorite world is the 2nd world, the Bird Studio world, I have to disagree. In that world, there is too much focus on stealth. A game mechanic I don’t really enjoy. I really loved the 3rd world. The more creepy world. Something just clicked more with me in that world.

I can’t put my finger on just why, but maybe the music has to do with it. The soundtrack and sound design of this game are just wonderful. I even bought the soundtrack and I put it on my phone in my day-to-day playlist. It’s that good.

This game is mostly an adventure/platformer game in the style of Super Mario 64/Mario Sunshine. For those games, you need great control or otherwise, you won’t be able to fully enjoy this game. For no special reason, I started playing this game with a controller and to be honest, it clicked. While I think you would enjoy this game with mouse & keyboard, I think that playing with a controller is the way to go for this game.

The attention to detail in the game continues with the controller actually. I have seen so many games where when you boot it with a controller, keyboard input is disabled. This isn’t the case in this game. Also, when you boot the game with a controller and press a key on your keyboard, the on-screen button prompts change to the keyboard layout and give a quick pop-up at the side: “new input found: keyboard”. That’s a great feature.

The control is really great for this game. The only thing I had to get used to is the wall jump mechanic. Hat Kid can climb a little bit up instead of sliding down. But, in order for this to happen, you have to press the button to move forward. The times I pressed the jump button and fall to my doom… Well, it happened more often then I dare to admit.

While I had an issue here and there with Hat Kid not being able to jump when she is under a ceiling, the patch that arrived earlier this week fixed a lot of those instances. Whenever you report a problem, the community is really helpful to try and solve it. Also, the developer actively reads the Steam Forums and tries to create a patch as soon as they can. I wish more developers did this.

The UI of this game is just excellent. I really enjoy how simple and to the point the UI is. I have nothing more to say about that.

What is this game exactly?

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So, I have been praising this game to the heavens and I haven’t talked about what you have to do this in this game. Well, let me fix that.

If you know how Super Mario 64 works, you know how A Hat In Time plays, somewhat. You have 4 different worlds that feature different levels each. In each level, you have a certain goal to achieve and your reward for completion is a timepiece. In some levels, you can also find a time rift. These bring you to special raw platforming stages that reward you in the end with a timepiece. You will have to find these time rifts since you only get a photo of the area where it is, so you will to explore the world to find the timepiece.

A minor complaint I want to bring up is that when you find a time rift and find the timepiece, you go back to the hub. The issue here is that you aren’t able to return to the world you were in, where you found the timepiece. And one time, I nearly finished a level and I hit a time rift by accident. For those curious, it was the lava level in Mafia Town.

Apart from each world having a unique theme, they also have unique gameplay styles. For example, in the 2nd world, there is more focus on stealth. While in the 3rd world, you have to do chores for the demon of the forest.

I really like the diversity the game brings to the table. Each world and level puts your skills to the test and challenges you with great challenges. You will have to use all your hat abilities multiple times. I felt that nothing went underused in this game.

I really enjoyed collecting the yarn balls to craft new hats. I really enjoyed collecting the green gems to buy new badges to further expand Hat Kit her skill set. You even have a badge that makes the game even harder, one that gives you one health point for example. You can quickly change between hats. Also, time slows down when you switch between hats.

Speaking of challenge, the part that gave me the most challenge were the bosses of this game. They are all unique and have different attack patterns. Something I recommend that you do when you are stuck with a boss is trying to figure out their patterns as soon as you can.

This game isn’t too challenging. The penalty for dying is starting the stage over from the last checkpoint. And the game is very forgiving with health pickups littered all over the stages.

All in all, there is a lot to experience in A Hat In Time. The gameplay offers quite a lot and I can’t wait to see what the end worlds will offer. I think it would be cool if we have an Egyptian or Greek themed world. But, we will have to wait and see until more information is released.

Another big positive of this game is that the game only costs 28€ here in Europe. Believe me, I find this really cheap for the content you get.

Now, is this game perfect? So far, I have sung a lot of praises about this game and I haven’t mentioned anything negative about this game apart from the game’s short length and the nitpick about time rifts.

One flaw this game has is that the camera can be really annoying to control. Something a lot of other reviewers mentioned as well. I do have to agree with them, the camera can be annoying sometimes. But, it works amazingly more often than not.

Another flaw is how underdeveloped the time rift tokens are. You find them in hard to reach or hidden places. You can use three of them to spin a roulette wheel for new visual costumes/colors/remixes of songs. Now, when you exit out of the roulette wheel without picking a price, you lose your rift tokens. Besides that, when you want to unlock everything, you can’t. Since there are more things you can unlock than there are rift tokens.

I also don’t like how the game completion percentage only tracks the number of timepieces you have. It would be cooler if it also counted if you have unlocked all the hats and things like that.

The only minor issue I have with the UI is the fact that sometimes it didn’t display when I reached a checkpoint in the game. It didn’t happen once or twice, and it’s a real bummer.

One of the biggest things that annoyed me in my playthroughs is the hat changing. Now, this is a minor flaw and a nitpick; but it’s something I would love to see changed. Sometimes, when I quickly changed a hat while I was using the controller, the game didn’t register it. I have to wait a little bit longer before the hat is changed. Now, this issue isn’t present when you play with a mouse and keyboard since you see a visual line going to the hat when it’s selected. This isn’t present when you are playing with a controller.

Here is another nitpick. When you alt+tab out of the game, the music is still playing.

The biggest issue is the occasional glitch in this game. There are a few things that bug out, like Hat Kid getting stuck on walls while she uses her grappling hook but these things are easy to recover from. Also, with the frequent updates, a lot of these bugs are fixed as long as you report them.

But, I think you see my point here. The issues with the game aren’t game breaking or made me enjoy the game less. I do admit that the game isn’t flawless, but the flaws that are present are more minor problems.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. There are a few features and things I left out this review about this game. It’s time to give my final thoughts on this game in the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-There are some occasional moments where the game glitches out.

-Switching hats with a controller don’t always work when you do it quickly.

-The camera can cause some issues here and there.

-The game is way too short in its current condition.

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Fun and lighthearted story.

+ Great level design.

+ Amazing variety.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Apart from Super Mario 64, I haven’t played a lot of games in this style. When Yooka Laylee released earlier this year to mediocre reviews, I didn’t have a high expectation for this game.

After a few minutes of playing this game, I was hooked. The charm and atmosphere of this game are just so addictive. I really enjoyed my time with this game. A Hat In Time has grown on me. I wish I did back the Kickstarter for this game back in 2013.

This game is so much fun to play and I can’t wait to fully complete this game. After I have beaten the game, one thing is for sure, I’m going to try out the community created mods and wait for the new worlds to arrive.

This game is one of the best games I have played in 2017. The amount of effort this small time put into this game is just mind-blowing. This game has no major flaws and it comes highly recommended from me.

While some people would say that this game does nothing innovative, I think you shouldn’t hold it against this game. It’s clear that this game is highly inspired by other titles but it’s a great homage and it does everything in such an amazing execution.

The game has flaws, yes. But, the flaws didn’t stop me from enjoying the game an awful lot.

Thank you Gears For Breakfast for delivering such an amazing game and I can’t wait to see where you take this game. I also hope you guys are also thinking about either more worlds or a sequel since I’m hungry for more Hat in Time! You have put a smile on my face from beginning to end.

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

Score: 100/100

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

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

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

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

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

Gamer’s Thoughts: “Games are a waste of time”

gamedealsHappy Mothers day 2017! A phrase I hear my mom saying from time to time is: “I don’t understand why people enjoy games.”. That question actually made me think. Why do we gamers enjoy games? Why do people who don’t play games see them sometimes as annoying or time wasters? Well, in this article I’m going to give my two cents in the discussion. As usual, feel free to leave a comment about your opinion and/or my opinion in the comment section down below. 

Why do I play games?

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First of all, let me explain why I play games. In an article last year, I tried to explain why I play games. But in most of the article, I talked about why I collect games.

So, why do I play games? Well, I think it’s because of several reasons. The first reason would be because I grew up in a time where playing the Gameboy was the hip thing to do on the school playground. Pokémon was extremely popular when I was in elementary and I was hooked. Then my family took me to various garage sales and flea markets. I bought more and more games on the Gameboy and I got hooked.

The second reason is because it was a very easy conversation topic. When I was on a trip, I was able to talk to other kids easily thanks to games. Phrases like: “What are you playing?”, “Have you played game X” or “How far are you into the game?” are phrases that often crossed my lips as a child. I made so many friends thanks to games.

A 3rd reason would be that I was so interested in reading and telling stories. But why am I less addicted to movies or books then? Well, the interactivity is the biggest reason. The fact I can make a difference in the world the game is so important to me. That’s why I love games that have a great story.

So, in conclusion, I think due to nostalgia and the interactive nature of gaming, I got hooked on gaming and never let go. Nowadays, I even have a 4th and 5th reason. My 4th reason is that I’m interested in how people get entertained by games. If I had the right skills, I would have studied game design.

And my 5th reason is this blog, honestly. I love to share stories of games I played. And writing a blog about them is one of the best ways to share them. The best way is YouTube, but I burned out on making videos…

Why do people play games?

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I’m quite sure that gaming is here to stay. While some hardcore gamers won’t like the next sentence, but due to the casual mobile gaming market, there are much more people play games than ever before.

The fact that gaming is a national sport in South Korea and that people earn their living with playing games are more proof that gaming is here to stay.

I think that the reason why people play games is similar to why people watch Netflix all day or read books in their free time. It’s their way of entertaining themselves. To relax after a (stressful) day at school or work.

People will always look for a way to entertain themselves. Another reason is that the current generation is growing up with a culture where video games are everywhere. Speaking about that, games are becoming more and more accessible to young children. And look at me, when you do something since childhood, it isn’t easy to let go.

Why games can be annoying/uninteresting

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0 When I ask people who don’t play games, I sometimes get a reply like: “I don’t have the time for them” or “I’m not interested in them.” Which are both very valid arguments, in my opinion. But they aren’t good answers to why people can find games annoying or a waste of time.

Well, I have a few theories for why people think that games can be annoying. Keep in mind, this is just a theory. Why I think people find games annoying. Also, let me make on thing clear, I’m talking in very general terms in the following theories. I know that we as humans are a more complex race.

My first theory is that people don’t like the interactivity of the games. They enjoy TV-shows where they can sit down and just take in the content. Or you could replace TV-shows with movies, books, plays, concerts…

A 2nd theory is one I think makes a lot of sense of the older generation. The fact that they didn’t grow up with games but saw children and teenagers grow up with them. In their eyes, games would be a toy for children and for teenagers, so their interest fades away. “Why would something that’s meant for children is any use to me?” is a thought that summarizes this theory. A generation gap if you will.

A 3rd theory is because they don’t see the appeal to games. They don’t understand what can be so engaging in playing games. Also, they don’t understand what additional value games can bring to people since most games are entertainment games. There aren’t a lot of gamers who play educational games just for fun. And I mean, that their favorite genre is educational games.

A 4th theory is the loud toxic minority that gives us gamers a bit reputation. People who do violent things and then blame it on violent video games. I think that media outlets especially can be a problem in this case. Since they give non-gamers the impression that every game is so violent and that it taints people their brain. Maybe we just need to get past the phase that certain styles of music and movies went through.

But, I’m getting off track. What I mean with the loud toxic minority are the people who actually go out their way to make the gaming community look like a bunch of unwelcome jerks. People who won’t help others to play games. Thankfully, there are a lot of forums, websites, and networks that are meant to welcome new gamers with open arms. But sadly enough, it’s the loud toxic minority that sometimes gives communities a bad reputation. And people tend to generalize… So yeah, I think I made my point clear here.

So, that are a few theories I have. I wonder how you guys think about them. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my theories. But please, keep it civil. I’m open to discussion, but I’m not open to flame wars.

Wrapping up

So, should we force people to play games? Well, no. We should ask them why they don’t like games and invite them to give games a chance. I accepted that members of my family don’t enjoy playing games. I don’t enjoy reading that much while my mom loves to read a lot of books.

Before I forget, this whole article has been inspired by the quote of my mother I used in the introduction of my article. So, thank you, mom, for this great idea! I hope you had a great mothers day today!

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

My TOP 10 games of 2016 – Part 1: 5 – 1

2016Part 1 (10 – 6)

I’m not going to introduce the second part like I introduced the first part last week. We all know that 2016 flew by. In 2016, a lot of things happened. But in my personal life, it’s was one of the better years. In any case, it’s time to give a little reminder. In this top 10, I list off the best games I played this year. If I started playing the game in an earlier year, it doesn’t count. Also, it doesn’t matter if the game is released in 2016 or 1996. If I started playing it this year, it counts! Also, it doesn’t matter if I have beaten the game fully or not. So, yeah. Let’s dive into my top 5 for this year. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the games and/or your top 10 games of 2016. 

#5: Ace Attorney 6 – Spirit Of Justice (3DS)

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Link to my first impression

As we enter the top 5, I had the most difficult time choosing the order of the games. I had to make some hard decisions.

The Ace Attorney game we got this year was amazing. It had some amusing throwback moments to earlier games and it has hit me emotionally a couple of times.

It might not be my favorite game in the series, but it’s was a pretty enjoyable ride from beginning to end. One of my biggest let-downs was that the 4th case was way too short in my opinion. But, in exchange, we got 2 “joke” episodes that made me laugh multiple times. Also, I need to remind myself to not play this game on the train to work, since I nearly missed my stop once and one time I started laughing so much, I got strange looks for the whole ride… Yeah.

#4: Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS)

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Link to my review

Like Ace Attorney 6, the new game in the Pokémon series is amazing. While it’s not the best in the series, in my opinion, it has a lot of throwback moments to earlier Pokémon games.

So, I honestly think it’s a no-brainer that this game should be on my top 10 games I played in 2016-list. Since this game brought back some amazing memories I had playing Pokémon throughout my life. I even met some strangers on the train who were playing Pokémon Sun or Moon as well. I never imagined that that would be possible in the crazy times we live in currently. Pokémon connects people. And thanks to Pokémon Go, a game I wasn’t able to play, the craze for Pokémon grew even more.

I have almost beaten the game and I’m looking forward what the new Pokémon generation will bring. I think they are taking it in a great direction. If only they tweaked the games a little bit for long time players, and it would be perfect in my opinion!

#3: Stella Glow (3DS)

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Link to my review

So, in late June, I downloaded the demo for this game on my 3DS. I was deciding which games I was going to buy to play in the upcoming summer. I played the demo and placed it on my wishlist.

That same day, I started talking to one of my friends over at ButtonSmashers. He said he still had a review copy of Stella Glow. So, in exchange for a review on the ButtonSmashers, he sent me the code over mail.

And believe me, this game grew on me really quick. Like I said in my review, the story pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. At least, with me. This game is one that I wish hadn’t passed under my radar. Since that game was already released for 3 months upon that point.

I honestly think I’m going to replay this game next year. The replay value is quite high in this game. I’m going to take a completely different route and try to see things I haven’t experienced yet in this game. I’m quite looking forward to it!

#2: Zero Escape Dilemma (3DS)

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Link to my first impression

“Life is simply unfair, is it not?” is one of the quotes I remember from this game. The Zero Escape trilogy got its final game this year. Honestly, I would love a new game in the series since I’m highly addicted to the gameplay.

This game came pretty close being my favorite game of 2016. If you ask me the question, what’s your favorite game released in 2016? I have to answer that this game is my favorite game from 2016. But, I have played one other game that got the number one spot.

So, why is this game on my list? Well, I have played the Zero Escape series from beginning to end. I have played every game, finished every puzzle and the wrap-up of the series is just so heartbreaking. The story is over. Every dot is connected now.

The game almost didn’t see the light of day, but thanks to the support of the fans, this game DID see the light of day. And I’m glad that it did. Everything in this game clicks. It’s almost perfect. Thank you, guys and girls, for this amazing series. I hope you guys and girls keep making games since I would love to see more! Thank you, that’s everything I can say. The series is so good, I hope that the Steam versions of the trilogy will draw a lot of attention. The attention that this series deserves! Seriously, thanks for making this game. I can’t repeat it enough. And honestly, I can’t say it in any other way.

Honorable mentions

With pain in my heart, I have to say that these games didn’t make my list. Some games might come as a surprise to people who know me personally and know the game series I love & adore. So, yeah. Here are the honorable mentions:

  • Yo-Kai Watch (3DS): Interesting mechanics and gameplay, but I haven’t gotten far enough yet in the game.
  • Sphetory (Android): An Android game that took me by surprise. Just read my article about it!
  • Mario Strikers Football Charged (Wii): Just Mario football. But it’s a whole lot of fun!
  • Evoland 2 (PC): Evoland 1 was amazing, so I had to play the sequel. And I don’t regret it!
  • Minecraft Story Mode (Android): I had been putting it off, but when I got it in a sale for my tablet, I gave it a go. And I’m enjoying it a whole lot. Just finished the first episode.
  • SteamWorld Dig (3DS): It reminded me of an Android game I reviewed a long time ago, but this one is miles better.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS): I just adore the gameplay. If only I was better at it. Also, the micro-transactions nearly ruin the game for me. Since I want all content in my games to be playable.
  • Corpse Party (3DS): It was really close being number 10. The 3DS port is so faithful to the amazing PSP port that introduced me to the series. It creeped me out so much once, I had trouble sleeping one night.
  • Dragon Quest VII (3DS): I have played the first hour of this game, and I enjoyed myself a whole lot. But I haven’t gotten far enough yet.
  • Bravely Second (3DS): The sequel to Bravely Default. One of the RPG’s I love playing on my 3DS. I have to continue playing this game honestly!
  • The Beginners Guide (PC): A game that hit me as a content creator. And it has hit hard. Created by the creator of the Stanley Parable.
  • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS): I can’t believe myself I have played 10 different games that trump this game. The new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game was amazing. But it’s number 11 on my list… Yeah.
  • Kirby Planet Robobot (3DS): While I think that Kirby Triple Deluxe was better, I think that this game is stil worthy to get a spot on the honorable mentions list here!

#1: Bioshock Infinite (PC)

162247_frontLink to my review

Wow, I ended 2015 with playing the first game in the Bioshock series and at the end of 2016, the latest game is my number one game I have been playing in 2016. This series took me by surprise. The story telling, the atmosphere, the setting, the visuals, the gameplay, the soundtrack, the voice acting… it just all clicks for me.

It’s one of the best games I have played this year. Well duh, that’s why it’s number one. At first, I had trouble picking which Bioshock game to put on number one. But the DLC for this game made my decision that much easier. It wraps up the story of this trilogy so nicely, I’m conflicted if they need to continue the Bioshock series. Since it’s finished up so nicely, I think a 4th game would ruin it. But at the other hand, I can’t get enough of the universe. And honestly, the fact that I bought and read the novel and bought merchandise… the fact that I often listen to the soundtrack of this game at work, proves one thing to me. The Bioshock series is sinking it’s (sky)hooks into me. So, if you haven’t played Bioshock; would you kindly give it a go? Give it a chance, you might find one of the best games you have played in a while.

After I had beaten this game, I restarted from Bioshock 1. I have played the three games (and the DLC’s) this year at least two years. That’s a clear reason why this game is my number one game I have played in 2016!

Closing words

So, I’m looking forward to 2017. Since a lot of new challenges await me. But 2016 is coming to an end. I have said multiple times, this year was special to me. But, 2016 was a crazy ride from beginning to end. I have learned so much and experienced so much as well.

I’m disappointed that several events almost ruined the year for me. But, let’s not think about them. Those events aren’t worthy of our attention. I think we can agree that this year has been a crazy ride. Like I said before.

Thank you for all the support I got this year! I seriously helped my blog grow. I love writing for you guys and girls and I hope you will visit my blog again in 2017. So, have an enjoyable rest of 2016 and I hope to see you in 2017! But until then, take care and have a great rest of your year!

Gaming Nostalgia: Thank you WiFi!

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Luma website

A while ago, I learned about Luma and how this system can help boost your wifi. Oh, to avoid confusion, this isn’t a sponsered post! Not one bit! So today, I’m going to talk about some games that got enhanced thanks to WiFi. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article in the comment section down below.

What is Luma WiFi?

So, why should you bother to buy Luma WiFi? And what is it in the first place? Well, it’s a router that provides WiFi. And it’s a device that creates a mesh WiFi network for your home.But thanks to the mobile app, you get a lot more control. I love these features:

  • You can prioritize devices. So, you can give more bandwidth to certain devices than others.
  • There is a mobile app that has an easy to understand interface.
  • You can customize internet access for devices. For example, you can block R-rated sites for devices that children use.
  • It has built-in malware and adware filtering!

So, why should you bother to buy Luma WiFi? And what is it in the first place? Well, it’s a it is a device that creates a mesh WiFi network for your home.

Thank you, WiFi

Dear WiFi,

I want to thank you for my times on Minecraft!

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I have reviewed this game in the past. So, I won’t go too in-depth on this game. But dear WiFi, do you remember all the times I opened a port on the router so my friends were able to connect with my server? All the adventure maps I played and all the vanilla maps I played on.

I have a lot of great memories of building cities with my friends, pranking each other and having great adventures. I wish I still had the screenshots of all those builds, but now they are memories. Some are in video form, buried in my YouTube archive.

but WiFi, buddy…

I want to thank you for my times on Age Of Mythology!

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What do you say? Why do I want to thank you for a single player game? Oh, silly WiFi! For the multiplayer features of course! The times I went online and played different gamemodes than your standard RTS-match were amazing.

I was surprised when I saw other people their creativity with the engine. But hey, I remember my intense matches I had online. I rarely won since I’m not that good in micro-manging my army. And that’s a big weakness to have while playing RTS games.

but WiFi, good old friend…

I want to thank you for my times on Super Mario Maker!

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As a child, I always wanted to make my own games and/or levels for games. I made some attempts to make my own casual games, but I never got far.

But then, Super Mario Maker got announced. I was really hyped. Since I know that when you give a toolbox to us gamers, we always find ways to use the toybox in creative ways that the developers didn’t expect to create to create something unique.

I played a lot of levels on Super Mario Maker! I also uploaded my own levels. Sadly enough, they aren’t online anymore. Otherwise, I would have linked them in this article for sure!

Throughout 2016, I have played so many different levels. From automatic scrolls to even small puzzle games made in Super Mario Maker. I’m quite curious what people are going to create when it comes to the 3DS in the near future.

but WiFi, let’s not forget about…

I want to thank you for all the Android games I discovered

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I could make a whole list of Android games I discovered since my phone and tablet are able to connect with WiFi. But, I’m just going to say this.

Lately, my opinion on tablets has changed. In the past, I was convinced that tablets were useless. Since you are able to do so much more with a laptop. But, now I know that it’s a handy tool to do some research for my blog while playing games or to watch some videos while I’m on the train. It’s also a handy planner. Yeah, I’m totally convinced about the usefulness of tablets now.

but WiFi, I almost forgot to…

I want to thank you for giving me access to Nintendo eShop

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So, WiFi, remember? I have written an article about why I thought that digital downloads can be harmful for our gaming market. Reading through my old article, I feel like I need to give it a follow-up where I go more indepth about my opinion and stance on digital downloads.

But, that’s for another time. So, WiFi, thanks for giving me access to the Nintendo eShop. Since it’s such a big hassle to connect my Wii (U) to my router with a cable, so I connect everything with WiFi.

I have downloaded so many great titles on my 3DS and Wii (U), I can’t count them all anymore. Games like Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, SteamWorld Dig, Mighty Switch Force, Ace Attorney 5 & 6 amongst many others.

And let’s not forget about the Virtual Console. I didn’t have any console while I was growing up. I only had my Nintendo Gameboy and a PC to play games on. So, I missed out on a lot of classics. Thankfully, with a lot of those classics being released on the Virtual Console, I can play them all. Some games I even own physically and on the Nintendo eShop. Games like Zelda – Oracle games, Lufia, Metroid, BallonFight, Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario and many other games.

So, thank you WiFi. For all the memories you helped me create. Let’s toast on our friendship and let’s continue our great friendship.

Final thoughts

So, I have to admit something here. While I know that working with a wired connection is in some cases the best route for online gaming, I have always played my games with a WiFi connection. I honestly find it very stable and I don’t want it any other way.

There are already too many cables to manage from my (retro) gaming consoles and my desktop so, I don’t want the additional wires for connecting my device to the world wide web.

So, I have to thank a lot to WiFi. But for this article, I tried to talk about things that you can most easily do or only do if you connect to a WiFi network. WiFi is so important nowadays, you can’t think it out of our daily lives. So, thank you, Luma for giving me this opportunity to write this article and when I need a new router, I’ll sure keep you guys in mind.

Thank you for reading and I hope you had as much fun reading this article as I had fun writing this one. 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: Paper Mario – Color Splash (Wii U) ~ A Quick Paintjob Should Fix It.

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Official website

So, last week, I bought this game. I tried to avoid as many spoilers as I could. After I play most of Paper Mario Sticker Star, I was rather curious what the next game in the Paper Mario series had in store for me. When I came home, I set up my Wii U and popped the game in. And then I started playing and I started to take notes. And with these notes, I’m now writing this first impression. But what do I think about it? Is this game any good? Should people buy it? Is it a better game than the mediocre-received Sticker Star on 3DS? Well, I’m going to tell you my opinion about it, so I hope you are ready. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Paint the world

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 Finally, a story that doesn’t start with Princess Peach being kidnapped in any way sort or form. This game starts with Peach and Toad going to Mario’s house during a storm. She brings a Toad that’s drained of its color. On the blank paper Toad, there a postage stamp that leads the gang to Prims Island. Here you discover that somebody is stealing the color from the world. After you meet a living paint bucket named Huey, your adventure starts to find the missing and stolen paint stars while also restoring the world’s color.

So far, the story in this game is rather enjoyable and light-hearted. I love the humor in this game and the writing is top-notch. While I could see that some people who have liked that some characters had a bit more development, I don’t mind it that much.

Something that really helps the story is the world design. For some reason, I’m drawn into this world. The setup of the story that you need to color certain areas of the world is just very interesting to me. But more on that later in this article.

Cardboard and effort

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I’m quite sure I’m not the only review who is going to say this, but this game is eye-candy. Sometimes I put my gamepad down and look at the game. This game is beautifully crafted from cardboard and cardboard boxes. It looks like an art project that came to life.

Also, the game knows how paper works. It flies away in the wind and you can roll it up amongst various other things. Also, the animation in this game is very well done as well. Take this screenshot for example. You see Mario running from the road that’s getting up. This scene is pretty early in the game but it’s one of the most memorable scenes in the game so far.

So far, I have played 5-6 areas. All of them had a certain theming. Also, all of them were as beautifully crafted as all the other ones. It really shows that the developers really put a lot of effort into the visual presentation of this game.

In any case, I think it’s time to talk about the music in this game. The soundtrack of this game is lovely. It even has some remixes of old-school Mario games. Now, pulling on the nostalgia strings; that’s something I really like! Like the vibrant presentation, the soundtrack is really upbeat. If you like Nintendo / Mario soundtracks, this one is worth a listen.

Now, the sound design is pretty good as well. It’s another element that helps bring the game to life. This game has almost no voice acting. Apart from some samples for the Toads. So, yeah, thanks to the sound design the character’s emotions shine through. To give one example.

Oh, now that we are talking about the presentation of this game, I would like to talk about the UI. The UI is decent. I would have made a few changes. One of them is that the options menu is more accessible. It’s a bit too buried to my liking.

And the final thing I want to say about the game’s presentation is that the digital manual of this game really takes me back to old school paper manuals. If you have this game, seriously, give it a look. It’s worth your time.

Battlecards and such

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 Ah, I’m forgetting to talk about the controls. So, they are pretty good. I had some minor issues with them, but nothing worth talking about in an article. For example, one or two times, my attack didn’t really land even while I pressed the attack button right on time. Also, the fact that you have to color the cards and after that swipe them to use them is just pretty annoying. But I got used to it.

So, I have avoided talking about it for long enough. How does this game play? Well, you have two styles in this game. The exploration and the battle segments.

Let’s start with the battle segments first. I have already talked about the control issues I have, so I won’t repeat that now. So, the battle system is really similar to Sticker Star. The only difference is that you have battle cards instead of stickers. Also, these battle cards aren’t that easy to find in the world.

A big flaw, in my opinion, is that it’s rather annoying to find the card you want to attack the enemy. Since they are all displayed in a horizontal fashion. The stickers were easier presented in Sticker Star!

In this game, there is something that makes the battles more interesting. In the world, you find blank cards. If you have enough paint, you can paint the cards to do more damage. But that reminds me of another issue I have with the battle system. And that’s that you can’t really choose on which enemy to aim your attack. If that feature is in the game, I’m looking over it.

Before I ramble too much about it, the battle system is flawed yet enjoyable. It’s interesting but I can understand why it puts people off. It can be annoying to back to the world map in the middle of a level so you can go to the shop to buy some new cards and etc. It could use a bit more polish, but the concept itself is interesting to me. It’s almost like PP in Pokémon.

In any case, I still want to talk about the exploration part of this game. So far, I’m enjoying myself. It’s a blast to run around in the beautiful world presented to me in this game. There are various side activities you can do to earn various rewards. Also, in most levels, you can try and pick up the stars in any order you like. Also, looking for the spots to color back in is fun. It’s also the basis for most puzzles in this game.

But I think I’ll go more in-depth about the exploration gameplay in the review. (If I ever write it) Otherwise, take it from me, the charm of the world fits the exploration gameplay perfectly. And with an interesting story, you can’t go wrong!

In conclusion, so far, the only big flaw is that the battle system has some annoying flaws. Flaws that could have been fixed by more battle card shops and a better way to sort and display your cards. If you can look past that, I honestly think that this game is worthy of a purchase. Otherwise, wait for a sale.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

NekoJonez’s October 2016 update

SpartaSo, quite a lot is happening lately. And I honestly think it’s time to update you guys and girls. Since there are a few things I want to talk about on my blog but don’t really fit into a gaming article. We are nearing the final moments of 2016 and I have to say, time really flies. While we have two and a half months to go, this year has been quite an adventure. A lot has happened that made my life more exciting. So, be ready for an update with a lot of good and some bad news. And at the end of the article, I’ll reveal what game I’ll be writing about next week! So stay tuned.

My desktop issues

Warning: this part of the article can be a bit PC tech-heavy. I’ll indicate when I stop talking IT. Since, give or take, ten days ago, my desktop started to act up. I was playing Bioshock Infinite again, and suddenly my screen goes black and when I look towards my desktop, I noticed that it had shut down. After a few seconds, it reboots. My desktop can easily handle Bioshock Infinite on very high settings. Since my rig is better than the recommend specs for the game. So, since that crash, my sound jacks refuse to play sound.

I have reinstalled drivers from the official website and the CD that came with my motherboard, and nothing helps. To make things even stranger, when I connect a HDMI cable on my graphics card, the speakers of my monitor are able to play the sound. So, I honestly think that my sound chip on my motherboard hasn’t died since it can pass sound to my graphics card and so to my monitor. But when I try to record the sound of my speakers with using Stereo Mix, Audacity can’t pick up any sound. At all. So, I’m totally confused.

Since the reboot of my PC was caused by my graphics card. So, how can it cause the sound chip to misbehave? Also, I have reinstalled Windows and checked the cables on my motherboard and checked my motherboard for damage; I can’t find the cause. Thankfully, there are very cheap fixes for this issue. There are USB-sticks that can act as a sort of external sound card. I bought one for 20€ and I got the same sound quality as I got from my chip on my motherboard.

But that wasn’t the end of my problems. So, for some reason, games I was able to run flawlessly like Rise Of The Tomb Raider, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Bioshock Infinite now shuts down my PC after a few minutes (most of the time less than 5 minutes) of gameplay and then reboot it. And to make things even stranger, when I play older games, I have no issue at all. But hey, I’m trying to look for a solution. So, I can play new PC games again, so I can talk about them on my blog. I hope I find a fix soon, without having to buy new parts. End technical talking.

So, the TL;DR, ten days ago: Bioshock Infinite crashed my whole PC. A game I’m supposed to be able to run on ultra settings. After it has rebooted, my sound chip started to act up to the point of me buying a USB external soundcard to have sound and mic stuff again. But, now I have a problem with high demanding games. I was able to play them, but now after less than 5 minutes of gameplay, my PC shuts down and reboots.

The reason why I talk about this is if you read this and you have an idea what could be the cause, feel free to get in touch with me. I would love to hear possible solutions I can try. Thanks in advance!

So, what will the rest of 2016 bring?

So, this last week was a special week for me. I won’t go into details on my blog here but the people who know me personally know what I’m talking about. To make a long story short: besides writing, blogging and gaming, I have another hobby. And that is being a part of a theater group. We wrote a play ourselves, and beyond all expectations of everybody, it was very successful. So, we got the opportunity to play it for schools. This was a very interesting experience. Sadly enough, we performed the play for the last time yesterday. Anyways, enough about that. I want to focus now on what 2016 will still bring for my blog.

Now, my schedule is still pretty filled up with activities and evening classes & work. I honestly hope that I don’t need to cancel too many articles.

While I have to admit that I have been playing games I have already reviewed and talked about in the past couple weeks, I have also played games I’m going to review in the next couple of weeks. In the past few weeks, I have also been playing games I have started and still need to finish.

Also, I have received a few interesting e-mails in my inbox that can possibly turn into articles. I’m really sorry to the people who mailed me in the last two months for the late replies but I had a very busy schedule.

So, what have I planned for 2016? Well, I have been thinking about some console and handheld games I still have to review and talk about on my blog. I have been considering to use the rest of 2016 to write about games I have played in the past but I haven’t reviewed yet. Or to talk about a game from a series I haven’t talked about yet. Like last week’s article. I have talked about so many Zelda games, but one of the most important Zelda games to me, I haven’t talked about yet. But, I fixed that last week with talking about the Phantom Hourglass game.

Before I close off, I want to reveal the game I’ll write about next week. And that’ll be a first impression article about Paper Mario Color Splash. And I have the game for the week after that also in my mind. So, I’m working on two articles at the moment. So, stay tuned for that!

In any case, I think I said everything I said everything I wanted to say in this update blog. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. If you know anything that might help me fix my desktop, feel free to leave a comment/tweet me or mail me. I also hope you are interested in next week’s article. Until I may welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

My Favorite Game Music #12: Just more plain awesomeness.

photo-1024x768It’s time to write a new article about my favorite music in the magical land of video games. Did I ever mention that I’m not that good in introductions? The big issue is that it’s the first impression somebody gets from you and it mostly decides if people want to read your content or not. But somehow, you guys keep reading my content. 🙂 To all new people who started reading my stuff, welcome. Let me explain the rules I use in this series. One song per game series in each article! Otherwise I would flood these articles with Pokemon and Zelda songs. Also, only original songs, no remixes. If I want to talk about remixes, I mention it in the start of the article. Anyways, that are the rules, time to get blasting! Feel free to leave a comment about the music, games and or the content of this article. 

Shantae And The Pirate Curse (3DS) ~ Scuttle Town

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Blah, blah, blah. Oh wait, this isn’t my draft anymore. I teased this article with filler text. In any case, let’s talk about the track now. This track is the motivation why I wanted to write a new gaming music article. It’s that catchy.

As a young kid, I heard of Shantae. I played the start quite a few times but I always got distracted by other games. Now I bought the new game on the 3DS eShop and I’m not regretting it. It’s in a “Metriodvania”-ish style of game and those games I can get totally absorbed in. Seriously, start to listen to this track and try to tell me that you don’t get excited for an adventure. I dare you.

Mario and Luigi – Dream Team (3DS) ~ Breezy Mushrise Park

250px-Box_NA_-_Mario_&_Luigi_Dream_TeamI’m writing a first impression article on this game, so my opinion on it shall be for then. But something I will already spoil is that I think that the soundtrack is one of the best and catchy I heard in a Mario game for quite a while.

I even have another tune ready for when I write a new Game Music article in the future. Yeah.

The whole soundtrack of this game puts so much additional feeling in this game that I start to love it even more. When you are looking for a Mario game that has an amazing soundtrack, you have to check this one out!

Kirby’s Triple Deluxe (3DS) ~ Dedede’s Royal Payback

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 I can’t put my finger on it but I’m quite sure that this track is a remixed track of an older Kirby song. Before anyone starts to shout that I broke my own rules, don’t worry since this song actually plays in Kirby’s Triple Deluxe.

What a tune this is. It’s quite upbeat techno/dance music that every DJ should play at a gaming music party. It is a very dance-able tune and I just love to listen to it. The soundtrack of this game is one of many that I listen too but I’m always glad if this song starts.

It makes me happy and I remember the fun times I had with the game. Oh and Kirby, thank you for making me miss my stop on the train one time. I was too addicted to your gameplay.

Europa Universalis IV (Steam) ~ Ride Forth Victoriously

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Quite recently I started playing with MiseryLC, Europe Universalis. And I enjoy it quite a lot. While I’m not good at it, I love managing a country and growing. I’m truly bad at managing my army, and sorry MiseryLC… I’m truly doing my utter best.

But this game has an amazing soundtrack with this track being one of my utter favorites. Just listen to it and you will feel like an army general that is going to war in order to conquer a nation. If that’s not the case, I think we can agree that this track is very fitted for a war or some sort of epic moment.

I’m actually planning to write a longer article about this game, my first impression. Since this game has actually no real end, I think I’ll write a review of it after I played long enough so that I have seen most random events and most common scenario’s.

Anyways, enough talking about this track, it’s amazing and I look forward to playing more of this game!

Shovel Knight (Steam) ~ Strike the Earth! Plains of Passage.

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Such a shame that as retro / niche game blogger I never talked about Shovel Knight. It’s an amazing game that brings the old retro game goodness back to this age.

The main theme is actually one of my favorite songs in the game. While I haven’t gotten far into this game (I defeated only 3 bosses), I have a certain love for this game.

This game is mostly pulling me in with the great soundtrack. The energy and the similarities to chiptune and old school 16 music are just striking! The music of this game is even great to listen to without playing the game.

Final thoughts

Alright, I told you about 5 new pieces of music that were added to my favorites rather recently. I actually released that I have written 12 of these and that I talked about a lot of music already. This leads me to one logical conclusion! That one of my favorite music genres is game music.

They just set the mood to play the game, they draw you into the world and make it harder to put the game down. In this article I talked about the soundtracks that captured my heart in 2015. A year that is flying by for me. I can barely believe it’s March already. I’m having so much fun at work and with my blog it’s almost unheard of.

Anyways, I have some great articles in the works for you guys and I’m sure that I’ll be able to publish them soon. If you have ideas of suggestions of topics I should talk about, feel free to comment or write me a mail. In any case, it’s time to finish this article. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this one. Until the next one! Take care~

Gamer’s Thoughts: 10 facts about the gameboy and gameboy color

game-boy-color-vector-material_429388Let’s do something different, not a review or a first impression. Let’s not talk about the game music or something along those lines. In this article I want to talk about the history of the gameboy and gameboy color and maybe some facts you didn’t know about yet. So, this is an experimental article. It would help me if you guys left a comment about the content and subject of this article. Let’s begin. 

Gameboy

1) Kirby’s color is white?

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Did you know, that Kirby’s first appearance in the west was actually white? The reason for that is when Nintendo USA got the code for the game in order to translate, they didn’t mention that Kirby was pink. Because his first installment was on the gameboy, it was unclear which color he had. That’s why Nintendo decided to give him a white color.

Also, there are some rumors of Kirby’s name. It might have to do with a story of a lawyer that defended Nintendo when Universal Studio’s sued Nintendo for copyright infringement on their Donkey Kong license. But that’s only a rumor… right?

2) A calculator as inspiration.

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Gunpei Yokoi was sitting on the train when he saw a business man playing around on his calculator. You know that stuff you did back in class? Turning the numbers upside down to try and spell out words? It didn’t take long before your dirty mind took over and you turned the number “80085” upside down.

So, that’s what gave Gunpei the inspiration to make the gameboy with the RD&1 of Nintendo. Sadly enough, the creator of the gameboy has passed away in a car accident a few years ago.

He got a few awards under his belt, but to me he will always be remember as the creator of the gameboy :)!

3) The Gameboy Advance SP wasn’t the first back-lit gameboy.

Game_Boy_LightRemember those painful days when you had to have a lamp on to play the gameboy? When you couldn’t play it under your sheets easily because the gameboy didn’t had a light-up screen?

Well, the successor, the gameboy pocket got a second release in Japan. The gameboy light was actually the solution to the issue. Strangely enough, the device only stayed in Japan. In the USA and Europe we got all sorts of crazy attachments that barely worked.

What’s an every bigger mystery is why they didn’t include this feature in the gameboy color. Yes, we had to wait until the gameboy advance SP until we had backlit gameboy screens. What a shame actually. But hey, it was fun trying to hide the gameboy and put out the lights at night to avoid your parents busting in…. Just don’t forget you lower your volume.

 4) The gameboy wasn’t the first Nintendo handheld

Game_&_WatchSo, this relates to my 2nd point about the calculator. When Gunpei started to design the first handheld game for Nintendo, he developed the Game & Watch series.

The Game & Watch series are now a big collector item. It’s even believed that some Game & Watch systems gave the inspiration to the Nintendo DS’s design.

Well, more on Game & Watch devices later.

5) Samsung sold it!

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Around the time the WO II ended, Korea actually banned products made in Japan. Which meant that the Gameboy was banned. But that didn’t stop from being sold in Korea.

Samsung Korea actually sold the gameboy under another name, called the “Comboy”. It’s not the only system that Samsung sold. I know that they sell a version of the DS as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised that they helped to sell the whole gameboy line in Korea. But notice that’s I’m doubting since I don’t know for certain.

Gameboy Color

1) The SNES gameboy “port”

Back in the day, you could play Gameboy games on your TV using the Super Gameboy. You can even play with the color.

But strangely enough, the Super Gameboy couldn’t run Gameboy Color games. The SNES would be strong enough to run those games and it has color for sure.

We had to wait until the GameCube before we would be able to play these games legally on a big screen.

2) Trivia

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The Gameboy color is the only system in the Gameboy series that has clear cartrigdes.

The colors in the name of the Gameboy color stand for each different color the gameboy color was originally released in.

And final part of trivia, all black gameboy cartridges are enhanced to be in color on the gameboy color!

3) Pokemon Crystal, two versions?

Pokemon Complex Crystal (v1.33)-3-full

The most popular game on the Gameboy Color was Pokémon Gold & Silver. But strangly enough, Pokémon Crystal got two releases. I discovered this when I found out that I had two Pokémon Crystal cartridges.

When I saw the area code, somehow a “-1″ was printed on it. After I researched it, it turns out that there was a v1.1 released. There is barely anything known what is patched. But hey, time to hunt a copy down for your collection!

4) Wireless.

InfraredIf you thought that you needed to use cables when it came to connecting two gameboy colors, think again. Some games actually used the infrared port on top of the gameboy.

I never used it as a kid, but it’s interesting to learn more about. Since according to my research, it was the first handheld that had wireless communication.

5) Motion Control before it was cool.

1135408995-00Oh, and it wasn’t the only first. Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble was the first motion controlled game. It’s a sort of maze / Super Monkey Ball-ish game.

It actually worked with tilting the gameboy around. I haven’t played it, but I have seen video’s about it. It made me want to grab a copy of it. Since you can’t have the same experience with these kind of games on an emulator.

Final thoughts

So, that was the article I wanted to release last week. But, I was busy and tired, so I moved it to this week. I hope you enjoyed reading about the gameboy and gameboy color. If you knew all these ten facts, I hope it was a nice refresher.

I enjoyed writing this, did you enjoy reading it? Anyways, I hope to see you another time. Thanks for reading. :)

Review #037: The Legend Of Zelda – Links Awakening (DX) (GB/C) ~ Where is the color?!

Links_Awakening_boxWikipedia entry

One of my first Zelda games was the Oracle Of Ages game. When I finished the game and saw that the game was going to be continued in Oracle of Seasons, I hunted for a copy on garage sales like a mad-man. One time, I found this game instead of Oracle of Seasons. I started to play it and I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t own the remake in cartridge form, since I have it on my 3DS as an eShop title. Anyways, let’s keep this introduction short, I want to review this game. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or my article.

Where is the color?!

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I found this image on it’s WikiPedia page. When the game first released, it was in typical gray-white gameboy graphics. Honestly, I didn’t care. But since there was a fan outrage, Nintendo remade this game with color and an extra dungeon. Apart from that, it’s as good as the same game. So, that’s why I combined both games into one review.

Let’s first talk about the story. Since this game doesn’t take place in Hyrule. You are Link, traveling home from a long day at work…? If I tell why, I spoil parts of another game, so yeah. Joking aside, Link is caught in a storm and is shipwrecked on an island.

This story doesn’t really feel like a Zelda story. The final parts of the game doesn’t help either. This game has a very lighthearted story that doesn’t take itself seriously. And you know what, it’s a nice break from always saving the world and killing Ganon.

Yet, in terms of writing, I have one complaint. The text when you find the compass in a dungeon gets annoying quickly. It talks about the new feature it has. That you hear a sound when a key is hidden in that room. Sweet update, but why do you need to see that each and every dungeon?

You might already know that there are various Mario references in this game. I’m honestly on the fence about it. While I feel that adds to the personality of this game, on the other hand, I feel like it makes the game look unoriginal and at those places and part recycled.

DX TIME

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The gameplay of this game was groundbreaking for the series. For the first time ever in a Zelda game, you could have two different items on the A and B button. This made for some interesting puzzles. So you would think, actually almost all those puzzles are solved with the Pegasus Boots and another item. But hey, it was their first attempt, so it’s a nitpick.

Before I forget to mention it, there is something that feels extremely out of place in a Zelda game, and that are power-ups. Yes, you read it right. There are power-ups in this game. Sometimes an enemy drops a power up that gives you a temp attack or defense boost. This is extremely out of place for a Zelda game in my opinion.

Apart from that, I have no big complaints in terms of the gameplay. It’s your typical Zelda fare. Go from dungeon to dungeon, while defeating the boss. In the DX version, there is an additional color dungeon. The puzzle to get to it is quite nice. But the dungeon in itself is quite short and I beat it on my first try.

The difficulty of this game is not so well done. While some bosses can be annoyingly difficult, some bosses are really easy. Also, the reward in the color dungeon is just overpowered. I won’t spoil it, but my advice is that you beat it near the end of the game.

This game also has a side quest. Since it’s the first time you had side quests in the Zelda series, you need to do a part in order to advance.

Other elements

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 Earlier, I already talked about some parts of this game’s design. Some enemies are recycled from other series. But overall, the design and animation of this game is really well done. They made a portable Zelda game have the Zelda vibe the console games have.

Both the black and white and the color version both have their charms, so DX isn’t the better looking game because it has color. Honestly, if you dive deeper into the story then what’s just presented on screen, the black and white theme is actually more fitting.

The music for this game is just 8bit-gameboy-chiptune glory. Sometimes I can’t get a tune from this game out of my head. It’s that good in my opinion.

Oh, before I forget, you can also be a thief in this game. But if you steal from the village’s shop… Never go back in or your name will be permanently changed to thief.

Lengthwise, this game is actually quite long for a gameboy game. It has 8 dungeons before the final boss. The whole world is quite big and it’s worth exploring. Since the controls are just perfect for the gameboy.

One thing that annoyed me too is that there isn’t a way to gain more then 1 ruppee at a time. Apart from treasure chests, the enemies only drop one ruppee. Which I can understand because you don’t have color, but couldn’t they do anything with the size of the sprite…?

Anyways, I think it’s time to go to the conclusion of this review. I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Let’s just warp this one up!

Conclusion

The bad:

– The text for the compass.

– Recycled enemies.

– No more then one ruppee.

– The colorless version is a let-down for some people.

The good:

+ The game looks good.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Silly, yet entertaining story.

+ Great controls.

+ Nice gameplay.

Final thoughts:

This might be my least favorite portable Zelda game, but it’s not a bad game. Not at all. I agree that this game has some flaws, like the recycled enemies, but it doesn’t ruin the game. Also, this game did some things that are now a staple in the Zelda series!

So, that were my thoughts on this game. I hope you enjoyed reading them. I also hope to see you at another article on my blog.~ Until then guys!

Score: 80/100.