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LaterLevels’ QOTM – January 2019 – The Ultimate Game: Themes

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For a couple of years now, LaterLevels is organizing a question of the month. In 2017, you were able to send in a small section to be featured in the article. You were limited to the amount of characters you had for a tweet. In 2018, every month a writer got a challenge to write an article centered around a question asked by LaterLevels. This year, LaterLevels is going “to develop” the best and/or ultimate game. In each month, another part of the game will be created. The idea is that other bloggers write up an article with their thoughts and ideas on that section and submit it to the post of that month. At the end of the month, the best is chosen by the already existing development team and will be invited to join the secret Discord to judge the entries in the following months. If you want to read more about the rules in depth, you can read the post of LaterLevels here. Now that I have explained all that, it’s time for my entry. In January, the setting and theme will be decided without deciding the story and such. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the question in the comment section down below.

The challenge and my background

yoyo_logo_512Now, I don’t want to brag but I have various ideas to make a very interesting game. In the past, I actually created some arcade clones with YoYo Game Maker. I’m not going to republish them since I lost the source files and I want to change so much for them to get republished.

alleyway_boxartBut, here is the thing. When I was developing a game, I always started with the mechanics and gameplay. For example, when I wanted to create a Break-Out clone, I actually started out with recreating the Gameboy game Alleyway. Now, I felt myself too limited in level design, so I started to look further. Then, I found an asset pack with different blocks, a ball and various other sprites with a sea theme. So, I totally reskinned the game and I made up a story about a submarine stuck in a big magical coral reef trying to find its way out.

warioware-diy-top-625x352Another example is when I wanted to remake those simple flash and phone games that you need to tap a ball or an object to keep it from the ground. When I started to make that game, I got some small ideas for other mini-games with the sprites in that asset pack and I started to create a sort of WarioWare inspired game.

Now, you might have noticed that I always talk about an asset pack. This is a pack where various sprites, sound effects, music, backgrounds… are provided to game developers. In almost all of my games I created, I used asset packs. I can barely draw a decent stick figure let alone design various level elements. Also, when I created those games; I was 12 years old. So, I didn’t know how copyright and licensing worked. That’s another reason why I’m not going to republish the games.

Anyways, let’s end this story time about my history here and let’s get back to answer LaterLevel’s question. The reason why I’m talking about my hobbyist game development past is the fact I mentioned earlier. I mainly focused on interesting and unique gameplay. The setting and themes would come later. While that is not the best approach, but it was the approach my young teenage mind took. And because LaterLevels didn’t want too many story details, the challenge got even harder.

81i7ndliszl._sx385_I also messed around in RPG Maker. And I always had one or two chapters of the story written before I started to create the world and setting the characters lived in. I had a general idea of the world but when I write, I love to let the readers create the world for themselves instead of possibly boring them with the millionth description of how a fantasy castle town looked like. In addition to that, the fact that I don’t describe a scene gives me liberty to use the setting to my advantage. That way I can bend the world to the story and my needs. But it makes continuity much more challenging.

So, the ultimate video game. What could be a setting and/or a theme of the game? Well, I have a few suggestions without giving too much plot details. Let’s take a look at that.

Themes and settings

First of all, when you are talking about the best game, I think that the theme should be one of variety. A power fantasy in another world would be extremely easy and generic. Most RPG’s use a silent character you can name yourself or has the most generic dialogue that can be used for each RPG main character. To be honest, this is a generalization. There are exceptions of course.

91fbW6yu4TL.jpgA perfect video game needs to grab you and pull you into the story, world and setting. When I was brainstorming for ideas I noticed that most of my favorite story driven games take place in one location. For example, in Corpse Party, you explore one haunted school and the associated buildings. In Another Code: R, you explore the vacation resort where your father works. And as a final example, in the first two Bioshock games you explore Rapture.

swordartonlineSuddenly, various things started to click in my mind. I got my eureka moment. I got it when I remembered the story of Sword Art Online. In that series, people are trapped in an online VR-game. In order to escape, they have to beat the game. The catch is, when they die in the game, they die in real life. In that series, the game takes place in a huge fantasy open world with various dungeons and quests.

Now, what if we take the idea of Sword Art Online and expand it for the best game, but with a huge twist? First of all, we can decide if we create the game in VR or not later. My suggestion is that the best video game takes place in a sort of fantasy open world with castles and towns that provide a lot of quests and things to do.

no game no ligeThe twist is that everything in the world happens with games. Think of the mechanics of the No Game No Life series, where every dispute is settled with a bet who wins a game of for example chess, rock/paper/scissors, poker or even more extreme examples. Now, it would an interesting idea if this idea is implemented into a real game we can play.

Back to the story of Sword Art Online, in order for those who are trapped to escape they have to beat all bosses in a huge tower. Now, what if each floor in this tower is replaced with a challenge in another genre and that you have to beat different challenges in that genre before you can progress.

retro_game_challenge_coverart

Think about the overall story of Retro Game Challenge. In that game, you get sent back to the past and in order for you to return, you have to beat various challenges in retro games. These challenges range from beaten the first three levels of a top down shooter to performing some unique tricks in a sports game.

So, the setting would be a great fantasy open world with one central tower the players have to beat in order to climb the leader boards. On each floor, another mini game or challenge is provided. To avoid people getting frustrated at being stuck on one floor, I think it would be wise to give the player two or three options on the floor. For example, a fighting game challenge, an RPG challenge or a rhythm game challenge.

51vk2fckjhlMaybe it’s an interesting idea to also have separate dimensions where players specialize in a certain genre or style of gameplay. Compare it a bit to the main characters in Kingdom Hearts traveling between various Disney stories to solve issues there.

The theme of the game can be either competition or teamwork. Various guilds can possibly form to aid players to easily beat the certain genres. On the other hand, I totally see certain players compete with each other to be the best player in a certain genre.

Being one of the best players in a certain genre can give advantages in the game. In terms of balance, each genre should have a “contrast genre”. That way we avoid players getting overpowered because they mastered too many genres. For example, the players who master a fast paced genre like rhythm games shouldn’t be able to easily level up their stats in a more slower based genre like grand strategy.

Do you see it now? Just trying to find a setting and or a theme for a game is tricky for me. Like I said earlier, I don’t create worlds too often and I leave them as vague as I can so I can bend them to the will of the gameplay and story. As soon as I got a certain idea, I start thinking about how the world actually works and how the world is balanced. And then we get eerily close to game design and how the game plays.

When I cut out all my gameplay & story suggestions, my idea for the ultimate game’s setting and theme is this. A big open world game with various challenges like dungeons and (side)quests, possibly with different universes. In the center of it all, is a huge tower that serves as a leader board for the solo and or clans that play the game.

Closing statement

And with that, I think it’s a good idea to end this article here. Otherwise I might restart giving my ideas and suggestions on how the game will play. Now, if you want to know if my idea has won or not, you should follow OverThinkerY, since on 31st January 2019, they will reveal the winner on his blog.

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If you want to join in on this challenge, don’t wait. Check out LaterLevels blog for the February challenge.

With that said, I want to thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed 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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Gaming History #1: Did Nintendo made the only handheld?

Smartphones-tablets-handheld-gaming-consoles-and-hybrids-400x318Alright, this article is a part of the GB(C) month. In this very first article of “Gaming History”, I’ll take a look at the history of a game, company, console or a series. I can also take a look at certain events or beta’s. Anyways, for the theme of this month, I thought it would be interesting to look at the competition of the Gameboy and Gameboy Color and why Nintendo ultimately won the battle for handhelds. I tried have the most correct information as I could, but if I do made a mistake, feel free to tell me in the comments. Anyways, let’s dive right into the competition of the gameboy and gameboy color. I’m quite excited to talk about this myself. 

 2nd generation

Game_&_Watch

Let’s be clear for a moment. When I talk about handhelds in this article, most of the time I mean gaming handhelds. PDA’s and such, I take out of the picture for this article. Anyways, the first handhelds we see in the second generation. While some sources told me that the Game & Watch was first, I didn’t believe it.

I looked further until I found the first handheld ever made. Mattel was a few years before Nintendo. The Game & Watch was released in 1980, while Mattel released their handhelds in 1976. The first handheld I found was Mattel Auto Race.

But why did the Game & Watch win over Mattel? The Game & Watch had something that I don’t see at the early Mattel handhelds. All the graphics of the G&W are pre-printed on the screen. This makes the device, according to me, last longer. Not only that, it was cheaper to produce, so it was a cheaper product… I think you can easily fill in the rest.

Atari Lynx

Atari-Lynx-I-Handheld

While it’s quite possible to talk hours upon hours about the history of handhelds, for sake of having a bite-sized article, let’s talk about a competitor that were also on the market when the Gameboy or Gameboy Color was.

this handheld was released in the same year that the gameboy was released. The year was 1989. Now, why did this handheld failed against the Gameboy? According to me, it’s the design. Just look at the device. It doesn’t look like it would be great to play on. The placement of the speaker is the issue.

According to some research, the gameboy won from the Lynx because of the price and battery life. Who knew that a green-ish and black display would do wonders like that?

Tetris?

Tetris_Boxshot

When Tetris was developed, Russia was still known as Soviet Russia. So, the original creator of the puzzle game needed to give the intellectual rights to Mother Russia. A few companies fought over the rights. Nintendo was one. Temco as well. Both released a version on the NES. Because Temco couldn’t release it officially, they released it on a black reproduction cartridge.

How does that relate to history of the gameboy? Believe it or not, this game outsold Pokémon. It’s the most sold game on the system. It sold around 40 million units. It was even a launch title.

The documentaries I watched about the gameboy actually told a lot about this. If you want to know more about the history of Tetris, I highly recommend reading up on it.

The wrap-up

I know that this article is extremely short. But since this is an experiment I want to know if you guys like these sort of articles. If that’s the case, I might write more articles like this.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about the history of the gameboy. I enjoyed writing it for you guys. Take care, have a nice holiday period and until the next article!

Review #036: The Sims 2 (GBA) ~ Showtime!

The_Sims_2_GBA_box_artworkThe Sims Wikia entry

When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to spend too much time on the computer. So, that’s why I actually played a lot of handheld games. When I heard that the Sims got popular, I got myself the Sims 2 on my Gameboy Advance. While the early Sims adaptations weren’t the same as the original game, I did enjoy myself with this title quite a lot. But, there is a catch. Now that I’m older I can take a better look at it. Is it really as good as I remember? Or is it actually a terrible game? Well, it’s time to take a look at a Sims game from my childhood. Are you ready? I hope so! Also, feel free to leave a comment down in the comment section about the content of this article and or this game. I reply to every comment. It’s also creates a big happy feeling for me, so feel free to comment away. 

 

Story… In a Sims game?!?

sims2gba

I couldn’t believe it myself at first. A sandbox game with a story. Well, to make this game fun they wrote a story and it’s quite interesting. You are in a TV-show but nobody of the citizens of the town know of it. While you complete the story, you have to try and make an entertaining TV-series.

The story might be cheesy and forced, but it’s a good move of EA. I don’t think the gameboy advance would have been a great platform to port a Sims 2 game on. The actually tried to make something creative.

Actually, to be honest, the story is quite decent. It isn’t the best that you have seen from EA, but when I’m able to recall parts of the story, some characters and such, then the story has done it’s job.

But, this is actually extremely risky. Thanks to the story, this game isn’t very well received by Sims fans. I can honestly understand why. This game just has some Sims elements but that makes it far from an actual Sims game. The fans just had other expectations than this.

Showtime

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So, in between episodes, you are able to upgrade your skills. This makes the game quite interesting. Since you need to decide which skills you are going to work on. If you don’t work on the right skills, you might not be able to advance in the next episode.

Talking about episodes, let me get one thing clear. A big flaw in this game is that, in order to see the epilogue episode, you have to connect with another Sims 2 GBA game. This has been a very bad move of EA and you can’t actually play the last episode now on a legit cartrigde. Unless you are very lucky and you find someone or you do it by yourself. That was such a disappointment.

Thankfully, the last episode you can play without linking up wraps up the story nicely. So, yeah. But the final episode is there, waiting to be played. But you can’t due to the reasons explained above.

The gameplay is actually quite nice. You run around, solve mysteries, talk to sims, decorate your home… Well, there are various things to do. This game isn’t linear at all. The experience each playthrough will be quite different. A nice secret is that you can enter the directors room while playing. Of course nobody is there, but it’s a nice touch.

An awesome thing is that there aren’t annoying bars that you need to keep up. This way you don’t need to babysit your Sims’s needs in order to have an enjoyable time with the game. There is just one bar, used for everything. Every action like eating or sleeping will raise that bar. But if you repeat those actions, it won’t raise that bar. The way to drain the bar is to have your actions being rejected in a conversation.

There are also mini-games. While I don’t have the time to talk about them in this review, I can honestly say that they are quite good. I enjoyed playing them back when I was trying to beat this game and while I was replaying this game in order to review it, I enjoyed myself messing around with the mini-games again.

Other things

GBA--Sims 2 The_Nov4 11_04_11We are nearing the end of this review. So, it’s time to talk about the other things outside of the story and gameplay. The length and difficulty of this game are just perfect for this game. While I wanted to play a bit more, I honestly think that they stopped at the right moment. If the game would have been longer, the game might had destroyed it’s own novelty.

The game gets harder and harder each episode, but it doesn’t get too difficult. Getting enough money might be a challenge but as soon as you figure out how to abuse a certain game mechanic, it’s quite easy. I won’t tell how, but there is a way to farm money.

The controls, music and design of this game are quite decent. They make great use of the gameboy advance and I think they help with the immersion. As soon as you give this game a chance, you get a nice experience.

While it’s quite clear that I haven’t talked about everything in depth, I think it’s time to move on to the conclusion. I like to leave questions unanswered so that players who are actually interested in the game might find some surprises. In my reviews I mostly talk about my experiences with the game and talking about it for too long, would be boring in my opinion. Enough rambling, time to give this review a conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The final episode is locked.

– Disappointing for Sims fans

– A way to farm money.

The good:

+ Decent plot

+ Decent visuals.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game has problems for sure. It isn’t perfect. But with the amount of polish that this game has, it makes for an enjoyable experience. The game isn’t very memorable, but it isn’t boring.

While a Sims fan might not have a great time with this game, I think a gamer that likes to play adventure games will like this game and play it until the last episode, they can play unless they can link it to another game.

Anyways, thanks for reading my review. I think I wrote an abrupt ending but I wanted to get this article out before I got too sick. Maybe I might take another look to this game in the future. So yeah. I hope you enjoyed reading this review and until the next review! Take care. ~

Score: 70/100

Game Nostalgia #5: My Gameboy Retrospective

SGame Boys Advanceo, in the last article of this series, I talked about my history with the DS and 3DS. So, I think that it’s now time to talk about my memories with the gameboy series. While I’m supposed to talk only about the Gameboy Advance, since it’s this month’s theme, the article wouldn’t be as long as it should be. That’s why I decided to write a whole article about my memories of all the Gameboy’s I got. That way you have an idea of my journey through the world of gaming, since I mostly only played on the gameboy. That and my hobby of writing was my childhood. So, prepare yourself for a personal story. Feel free to leave yours in the comments or your opinions on my story.

Exploding start

Nintendo Gameboy

The first gameboy I played on wasn’t actually mine. It was my aunt’s. She only had Pac-Man and Tetris. Somehow my young mind didn’t need anything more. It were my first real encounters with gaming, but I was hooked. I used to play games like DuckHunt or Mario Bros. at my nephew’s place, but those moments were then far and few between.

One day, I was at my aunt’s place and I stopped playing since the back of the gameboy started to feel hot. A few moments after I put it down, the batteries actually exploded, damaging the gameboy heavily. That was a big shocker. I didn’t know what to do. My aunt wasn’t even mad, since it wasn’t my fault. It turned out that there was a flaw with the batteries we used, and it leaked battery acid into the system. Yeah.

That story was my earliest memory with a gameboy. A bit later, my aunt started to take me to her babysitting job. At that place, they also had a gameboy and more then one game. I remember it well, it were two girls, two sisters. While they were doing their girl things, I was allowed to play on the gameboy. My love grew and grew even stronger.

I already talked about how awesome my family is. When they saw that I was so much in love with the Gameboy, they actually got me a gameboy. Not only was it the latest model, they got it in my favorite color! To this day, I still own that very silver gameboy pocket. I was so happy, I had my own gameboy. I did jobs around the house to be able to buy new batteries for the gameboy. Then they got me rechargeable batteries, and my life was complete.

Garage sales

Garagesaleloot

I never showed my latest garage sale loot here on my blog. Whoops.

In my childhood, we had this tradition to go to the sea on holiday. Man, always to the same house. I used to look forward to it every single year. Sadly enough, the owners of the house sold it, and the tradition is over now.

But back then, they used to take me to garage sales. So, as a young kid, they asked me to wake up early in the morning in the summer holidays. I honestly didn’t care one bit. Since I was allowed to buy games.

My family didn’t want that I bought a lot of games, now-a-days that’s a very different story, since they were so expensive. A garage sale was such an easy solution. The best thing they did was that they let me roam the garage sales on my own with a notebook and a pen. They said that I could write down the games I wanted and then I had the difficult job to decide which one I wanted.

To this very day, I love to wake up early and go to a garage sale. Every year, I go to around 10 garage sales, if not more. I never go alone, since that would ruin part of the fun for me. The nostalgia of hunting down games, which were pretty rare on the garage sales I went too, is just amazing. The moment a family member bumped me in the arm and pointed to a game, I think they loved to see that sparkle in my eyes of happiness.

Typical me is typical

ss (2012-10-24 at 11.45.23)

Garage sales memories are for another article. I was extremely attached to my games. I was always hard to pick games I had to sell. I had to sell a few games before I was allowed to buy new games. Now-a-days, I don’t have that restriction anymore.

One time I forgot my gameboy at a restaurant and I begged my mother to turn back and get it. I even begged that they called the restaurant so that nobody could pick up my gameboy and claim it.

Later, my gameboy pocket became my sister’s gameboy and I got a gameboy color. Then my sister got a purple gameboy advance and I got a silver gameboy advance SP, the one with the tattoo design on it.

To this very day, I still own most of the games I had back then. Of course, my library of games has grown quite a lot. If only I had the library I had back then, the nights I kept playing on my gameboy would be so much more fun. I remember that I had a lamp you needed to hit a button at the top in order to the lights go out. Since my room was at the end of a hallway, I could hear my parents and a simple slap on the lamp and putting the gameboy screen down, gave the illusion of my sleeping.

My parents knew that I was playing the gameboy under my sheets, but they were never able to catch my red handed. Okay, honestly, they were able a few times but usually, I was always able to dodge the bullet.

I could talk hours about my memories of the gameboy days, but I think I will end my article here. Since I have reached my usual length. I hope you enjoyed reading another special entry in the gameboy advance month. While it isn’t fully about the GBA, I hope you don’t mind that much.

Thanks again for reading and until another article. Also, don’t shit your pants but it’s Halloween.

Review #035: Nicktoons – Spongebob And Friends – Battle For Vulcano Island (GBA) ~ Again?

2549PS2 version (Article)

Wait, what? I already talked about this game… True, but for the GBA month, I decided to review the GBA version of this game. The game that actually made me buy the PS2 version. I found out about this game when my local game store still had a renting system. I rented this game and I finished it after renting it three times. Surprisingly, nobody deleted my save files. Anyways, I wanted to buy myself a copy of this game, but I haven’t been able to. If somebody has a copy of this game laying around, please contact me. I would love to buy it. Since I really like it this game. But that isn’t what this article is about, isn’t it? This article is about how the game is. It’s a review. So, let’s take a look at Nicktoons – Battle For Volcano Island. How good or how bad is it? Keep in mind that I’m doing this review out of memory and the first few levels I was able to play through some alternative means. 

Different story?

image0230_1163556274So, I already too a look to the PS2 version of this game. Let me tell you, apart from some characters, the story is exactly the same. In the GBA version, there are fewer characters you can play with, but I think that is for the better in this version.

So, in this game you are summoned to free Volcano Island from an evil entity. It’s a story that will appeal to children but it will be bad in the eyes of adults. I could start bashing the game for this, but I think that would be unfair.

The game is aimed at children and people who like a nice platforming game. Those games have in most cases no real deep story or character development. Most platformers add an additional genre to have a better story.

This game is at it’s core a platformer. So, the tutorial shouldn’t take long. Don’t worry, in this game the tutorial doesn’t take long at all. The first level isn’t challenging but it’s a great way to learn the ropes of the game.

How does it play?

hqdefaultSo, you play as one of 4 Nicktoons. Each character has their own special abilities. Spongebob can go through dirt, Patrick can use his air pants to float through the air, Timmy can stretch his arms to … crazy lengths and Danny can use his ghost powers to a certain extend.

The game isn’t very long, but it’s length is quite decent. There are 4 worlds with each 4 levels. Then you have an additional final boss fight. Let me tell you, the final boss fight is a real test of your skills with this game.

Something that might have crossed your mind is that this game is easy. I urge you to think twice about that. The game isn’t as easy as you might think. That’s due to the amazing checkpoint system.

Each time you get hit, you loose a heart. Five hits, and it’s game over. Each hit sends you back to the last visited checkpoint. Each new checkpoint you visit gives you back one heart. So, if you aren’t careful, you have to redo a level over and over again.

There is some replay value in this game as well. In each level, there are several golden hearts. If you gather enough of them, you unlock a special level. But getting the golden hearts is the really tricky part. They are sometimes hidden but most of the time hidden in plain sight. The kicker is that they need pixel perfect reflexes. The golden hearts get added to your total heart count at the end. So, if you get hit, you loose your special golden heart. I promise you, it gets challenging in some places.

Each world has a theme. Well, sort of. The nice thing is that you don’t have to beat every level in order. You have a hub world where you can go and play any level you have unlocked.

The music?

Nicktoons - Battle for Volcano Island-3Some levels might have a bit of back tracking, but it’s done in such a way you don’t really notice if you don’t pay attention to it. Since in those levels you go back in a different way because you gained a new ability.

Visually, this game looks how it should. Bright and colorful. In my opinion it looks extremely nice on the gameboy screen and made me play this game to the very end. Everything has that Nickelodeon vibe over it and all the art styles of the different series mixed without something that stands out.

In terms of the animation, well, it’s quite basic. Nothing really special but it gets the job done without a problem. I don’t have any complaints there.

The music is what it is. It isn’t too memorable  but it isn’t forgettable either. I had the tunes stuck in my head for a couple of days but as soon as I played some different games, I forgot about them. Honestly, I don’t think the game has bad music. No, it’s quite decent but not good. I have that feeling that there could have been done more with the music. The same goes for the sound effects or rather the lack of variety. There aren’t a lot of sound effects in this game. So, I sometimes felt that the action wasn’t… well, action-y.

Anyways, I think I’ll leave it here for my review. I talked about what I wanted to talk about. Let’s go straight on to my conclusion. For the people who are new here, I usually never talk about a game in-depth because I want to leave some things to surprise you when you decide to play this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The music is so-so.

– Weak story, but good enough for the kids.

– The placement of the golden hearts is just brutal.

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Great level design.

+ Addictive gameplay. (You truly use all characters)

Final thoughts:

Okay, I think it’s quite clear that I like this game. I think it’s one of the best games I played on the GBA. Like my last review, this game is an overlooked game because … It looks like a kids game. There are a lot of elements in there for more veteran gamers and there are elements in there for the younger gamers.

This game is a must buy or must play if you are a big GBA fan or a big fan of platformers.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this review. I hope to see you another time on my blog. ~

Score: 80/100

First Impression: The Legend Of Zelda – Skyward Sword (Wii) ~ Golden Remote

TLoZ-SS-B-BOfficial site

It has been so long since I wrote an article about a Wii game. So, since I planned an article about a Zelda game this month, I decided to switch it with this one. That way I avoid using last month’s theme. I wish I could call this a review, but I haven’t finished this game yet. It’s quite a big shame. But I’ll explain the reason why. It’s because I can’t seem to beat one boss. Levias. Man, he isn’t easy. Then I got distracted by other games and yeah, I kinda put this game down. Yesterday I picked it back up and after playing it for a while, I decided to write an article about it. So, here it is! This game was actually the reason why I wanted my first console. Yeah. Loyal readers know that my first console I ever owned was my Wii. I have more been a gameboy kid. (That’s why handheld gaming is such a big focus on my blog.) Anyways, enough talking in this introduction. It’s time to delve into my opinions of this game before I beat it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Navi is back? 

the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword-screenshot-stalfos

In this game, they thankfully dared to change around the usual story of Zelda being kidnapped. In this game it’s actually your goal to defeat the evil trying to destroy the land, while Zelda is supporting you.

It’s quite clear how they tried to do something different with this game. Honestly, it works for me. The story is full of amazing moments that can please any Zelda fan. I even got emotional during one or two scenes due to the pure nostalgia bomb that was dropped.

But why did I choose this subtitle? Well, that’s because one of the main complaints with the game is that Fi has a similar level of annoyance to Navi from Ocarina Of Time. While I don’t think that’s true, I do see where people are coming from. In my opinion, I think that Fi could have benefited from a bit more development. The lack of development is the main reason why Fi gets compared to Navi, I think. Also, she warns you if your Wii Remote batteries are almost empty. That is rather annoying since it already displays a small symbol in the bottom right corner. I think that Fi is a character with a lot of unused potential.

25 years of joy

The-Legend-of-Zelda-Skyward-Sword-17This game has been released for the 25th birthday of the series. To various people, it was a disappointment, but I honestly disagree. This isn’t the best Zelda game out there yet it does manage to be one of the best titles in my book.

The story does feel genuine. I already talked about that, so let’s move on to the presentation. This is where this game truly shines. This game is a combination of the shell shading of “Wind Waker” and the more realistic  visuals of “Twilight Princess”. It works perfectly.

Thanks to this style, the game can be serious or less serious when it needs to be. I got truly sucked into the game various times. The animation has a lot to do with that too. Everything behaves like it would in real life. Thanks to the presentation you start to walk that thin line of believing that the world is real and alive. You start to forget that this is a game world.

So, it’s clear that I think that the game looks like eye-candy. I don’t know if it pushes the Wii to it’s limits, but honestly that doesn’t really matter. It needs to be a fun game to play. More on that later.

I haven’t talked about everything of the presentation yet. The music and sounds of the game. That’s part of the presentation too. Let me tell you, this game has no voice acting, like we are used from the Zelda series, but it does have an amazing sound design. The sound effects give a nostalgic vibe yet they feel new and fresh as well. The music is one of the game strongest points. I never have heard a more melodic, touching to veteran players, enjoyable, memorable… soundtrack in a game! It gets you in the right mood every time. It never gets boring to listen to one tune.

Wii Motion Plus

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When you pre-ordered the game, you got a special disc of the concert of the Zelda music, a poster, a special box and a special golden Wii remote with the Wii Motion Plus. I honestly think that without the Wii Motion Plus controls the game wouldn’t have been as much fun as it is now.

I had moments where I felt that the Wii Remote was actually Link’s sword. Every little shake you did with the sword, Link actually did on screen.

The controls of this game are nearly perfect. While I feel that the controls for the bird rides could have been improved on, I have no other big complaints about the controls.

About the flying, you control the bird by the Wii Remote only. Now, for all other movement, you use the that other thingy… The nunchuck. This feels awkward from time to time. I can’t count on one hand how many times I tried to use the joystick of the nunchuck to try to move my bird. It might be my impression but I think that there is a lag between the moving of the controller and the bird.

Anyways, I think I’ll leave it here for my first impression. I realize that I haven’t talked about gameplay yet or more in depth about the presentation. But those things will be talked about more in depth in the review. (If I ever write it) I hope you enjoyed reading my first impressions of this game. I hope to beat it soon, so I can fully review this game. Thanks again for reading and until another article. Take care and game on!

Gaming Nostalgia #4: (3)DS month

ss (2012-10-24 at 11.45.23)Looking to my blog, you might have realized that I review in general handheld games. So, logically, Q didn’t realize that this month was a special month for my blog. I focused only on DS and 3DS games. I wished I could have written more articles about it. Sadly enough, I was able to predict that this month was going to be busy. In general, the amount of articles I write in one month dropped. But hey! Quality over quantity, am I right? Anyways, maybe next month I might write about games that aren’t on handhelds. That will be hard for me for sure. In the future, you might be sure that I’m going to release around 7-10 articles a month. When I do have the time though. I think the best idea is that you follow my twitter. Since I talk about my updates a lot there. Okay, that has been a quick blog update. Now that, that is out of the way, let’s write a new article in the game nostalgia series. A series I wanted to write a new entry for quite a while. I said multiple times on my scheduling Tumblr updates that I was going to write a new one. So, because this month is the special DS and 3DS month, let me tell you a story. A story about how I got the handhelds. Also, feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts on this article. 

My first DS.

Nintendo ds reparatie groningen

Me and my family were on a trip. It happened on that trip where I was a leader for the first time, remember that story? On that trip, a boy had a black Nintendo DS Lite with him. The game he had on it, was Pokémon Diamond. When I asked kindly if I would be allowed to play on it, he agreed. In exchange, I had to give my GBA to him, because he never played Pokémon Ruby.

It wasn’t until I saw a commercial on TV about the Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass, I wanted a Nintendo DS. This very commercial. Keep in mind that it’s a Dutch video. So, you won’t be able to understand anything if you aren’t English. The other commercials, I wasn’t able to find. It showed Link following the stylus on a white background.

Then I begged my parents to get me a Nintendo DS. It was around December of 2007. I still remember it quite well, how we went to the game store to buy me one. But, I wasn’t allowed to play on it until New Year’s Eve. A day or two before I was going to get it, I was at my aunt. She was charging it in advance so I could play on it. But I wasn’t allowed it touch it. Not even the box where it was in.

My family surprised me that day. They knew that I was a big Legend Of Zelda fan. When they went to a garage sale with me on our yearly trips to the sea side, I always said to them that they needed to look out for any stuff from the Legend Of Zelda. That day, I got two presents. I was quite confused, what could that second present be? Well, it was the Phantom Hourglass game. Yes, my family bought me Phantom Hourglass on the DS. I was so happy. My first game, a Zelda game. It couldn’t start any better.

On that moment, I was allowed to play on my DS. Apart from eating dinner with my family, I put myself in my grandfather’s office and played the whole night. I even missed the countdown to the new year. 2008 started with something I will never forget. Until this day, the Nintendo DS is the best handheld in my eyes. Without a single doubt in my mind.

Blast From The Past: The Legend Of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass

The_Legend_of_Zelda_Phantom_Hourglass_Game_Cover

Official site

I haven’t done this the two previous articles, but this part of the game nostalgia series will be a nice separation for the next part of the story. So, in “blast from the past” I take a look at one of the games that means a lot to me. A game that has a personal story behind it, more then “I simply bought it in a game store.”

You should have seen this one coming from paragraphs away. Get it? Since I mentioned it a few ones ago? Oh, it’s not funny? Ehrm, sorry. I guess.

Anyways, joking aside, this game was the game that gave me the feeling that my family accepted my gaming hobby and my love for the Legend of Zelda. It’s a shame that I haven’t reviewed this game or talked about it. In my review of the follow up, Spirit Tracks, I asked the question which my favorite game of the two would be.

After some careful thought, I think my answer is going to change a little bit. In terms of nostalgia, my favorite game is Phantom Hourglass. But the better game is Spirit Tracks. Since the improvements over Phantom Hourglass makes it a better game.

But this game is on my list to review for such a long time, I might just start writing a review after I finished all the articles I have planned for this month! So, keep an eye out for that.

Getting my 3DS.

royal_purple_nintendo_3ds_open_comparisonI can’t believe that the 3DS is 3 years old this year. The time flies even faster then I thought before. For me, the 3DS has still that “new” feeling. It isn’t old and mostly of all, my library and knowledge isn’t that big about the system.

When I look at the shelf of 3DS games, I think I own around 25 games for it. It’s actually not that strange. Since I got the 3DS, I started to expand my library of other systems as well. So, I’m not focused only on the 3DS.

Anyways, I’m missing the point of this article here. I wanted to talk about the time before I got my 3DS. Since that has a story as well. Back in 2009 – 2010, I saw a trailer of a man holding what looked to be a DSi in front of her. She showed it from side to side. On the screen, there was a 3D game playing. I looked around for this trailer like a mad man, but I wasn’t able to find it. Until now, I found this video back!  Thanks to me looking it up on another search engine.

I was extremely hyped. Since I first thought it was going to be a game. It looked so interesting! But I was afraid that it was going to be a Japanese exclusive. Remember, at that time the video leaked, there wasn’t anything known about the 3DS in my country. And since I only read Dutch news sources, I didn’t know about the 3DS until a year after.

Then the 3DS was announced. I was so jealous of all the journalists that were at E3 of that year. They could have their hands on the system before I was able to get my hands on it. While people started to say that the system had a bad line up for release games, I didn’t care that much actually. It was a new portable system by Nintendo and me being such a big Nintendo handheld fan, I had to get it.

So, I pre-ordered it. The system was going to be 250€. Quite expensive. It’s the most expensive thing I bought in my whole gaming life. When I saw Nintendo was having events at certain cities to be able to play on the device, I was planning to go to them. But in the end, I didn’t went to it. The simple reason is time. I didn’t had the time to go to one.

A few days before the system was released, I was at school. At the afternoon break, we were able to leave the school and go eating in the town. So, I went down to the town with my friends and we ate. When I looked at my mobile phone, I saw I got a text message. My local game store said: “Your pre-order of the Nintendo 3DS Cosmo Black is ready to be picked up at the store.” My mind was blown. I was going to be able to play the system a few days prior to it’s official release?

I called the store, asking when they close the store. After school, I even sprinted to the bus station so I would arrive earlier at the station to take an earlier train. My hype was growing even bigger. When I was home, I emptied my bad, took the money I saved up and jumped on my bike. I think I never rode faster on my bike. I was hyped.

NintendogsCatsBoxArt2When I arrived at the store, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The system was actually there. They gave me the box, I payed the money. I still remember giving it cash. Because I saved up all that money from jobs I had to do for my family.

I put the box in my bag and I walked out of the store. When I arrived home, I started playing on my 3DS. I still remember opening it in the living room and showing my mom.

I did forget one detail though, I didn’t had any 3DS games. Whoops, totally forgot about that. The same aunt who charged my DS for the first time, was actually so kind to me that when her daughter was going to get a new game, she picked me up and drove with me to another game store. At that game store, I was allowed to pick up my first 3DS game. Because there wasn’t any Zelda game released on the system, I bought myself Nintendogs + Cats.

I could have bought a ton of other games then, but I made up my mind. I wanted this game. Soon after, I bought the remake of the Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina Of Time. But why did I bought Nintendogs + Cats? Well, because there were cats in the game AND the Nintendogs series has a special place in my hart. Why is that? Well, you will have to wait until the finale of special month. I will talk about it in that article!

Closing thoughts

So, that has been a new article in the gaming nostalgia series. In this article I talked about how I got my two most favorite handhelds ever. I still both have my silver DS and my cosmo black 3DS. I play on them nearly every day. Sadly enough, my microphone of my DS recently stopped working. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, but I’m talking to my friends over at Gamers’Hive to look for solutions.

Thanks for reading this article, hopefully you enjoyed reading it. What are your stories? Do you have any special story before you bought a certain console? Let me know, with a comment maybe?

Anyways, I think I’m going to end this article here. Until another time on my blog! Thanks for reading.

Review #029: Time Hollow (DS) ~ DAT Themesong.

Time_HollowWikipedia entry

Alright, in order to celebrate some milestones, it’s time to review a game that’s very special to me. I begged Konami to make a sequel of this game. But why? Is this game really so good that it deserves a sequel or am I just being hopeful because I love this game? Before writing this review I replayed the whole game. Just to be sure I wasn’t going to forget anything when I would review this game. I have beaten this game 3 times. I might have beaten it more then 3 times, I honestly don’t remember. This game is extremely memorable to me because I can relate with the main character. Not only that, the soundtrack just helps me write. And the main theme, yes, the main theme. I selected that once in an article about my favorite music tracks in games. So, I don’t have to explain myself there. So, before we continue, this game is a visual novel and adventure game. Like Ace Attorney or Professor Layton. So, because of that, this game falls into my favorite game genre ever. Because this game’s strongest point is the story, I decided to not have any spoilers here! YAY! Anyways, let’s get to reviewing this game. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on the game. 

I open my eyes, to another day.

time-hollow-1In this game, you play as Ethan. His birthday is the next day. After you meet his family and the basic characters are set, the story flips the tables on you and takes you on quite a ride. Yes, his parents go missing. They aren’t kidnapped. Since Ethan had a nightmare. In that nightmare, he saw his parents fleeing a burning building through a portal.

That’s all I’ll tell you about the story. Apart from my views about it, of course. So, the story is amazingly written. The build up to the final part is thrilling. The story has several chapters. As the title suggests, you will have to mess with the time and past events. I’m just blown away by how the problems you have to solve can build up to the actual villain of the game.

But here we hit on of the biggest weak points of the game. The game is short. Not as short as Lili’s: Child Of Geos, but I was able to beat this game in a week. Maybe my experience with adventure games helped me, but still, comparing it to other adventure games on the Nintendo DS, this one is too short.

At the other hand, this isn’t such a bad point. The story doesn’t get messy with too many events which makes the story really memorable. The writers truly focused on the personality of the characters. You see them grow and change with each change you make. In the end, you will start to hate certain characters and get attached to others. Mostly due to the brilliant writing. The story never feels; how to say this? Made longer on purpose so you have a longer game to play. It truly benefits the game since you get to know the location better!

Taking back what was mine.

Ethan_Vin_Chronos_dialogueAlso, CAPCOM, take notes please. In this game they nailed the voice acting perfectly. They didn’t use voice acting outside the cutscenes. While using it outside the cutscenes was rather interesting, you can create awkward breaks in it. While there aren’t many cutscenes in this game, they did place them nicely. After solving a big problem, being rewarded with a cutscene is such a sweet feeling.

Sound design wise, they did an amazing job. The sound effects make the game feel truly alive. While I would have used a bit more sound effects if I made the game, I have nothing bad to say about them. Even the voice acting is way better compared to another Konami title I really love as well, Suikoden Tierkreis.

So, the gameplay of this game. Well, it’s pretty interesting. You are presented with a problem. It’s up to you to solve it using Ethan’s special powers. It has something to do with time. Yet, you still want to find out what happened to your parents. The game requires you going to certain places and talking to people.

It doesn’t sound like much, yet it’s strangely addicting. Mostly because the story is really well made, I wanted to continue to play!

In the end

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The difficulty in this game lies into if you are familiar with the style of gameplay or not. Like I said earlier, this game is rather at the short side for veteran adventure gamers. At the other hand, I do expect new players to the genre getting stuck at certain parts. To avoid that you get frustrated, there is a character that’s “training her psychic abilities”. She is basically giving you a clue what to do next or where to go next.

Visually, this game really shines. On this front, I honestly do disagree with the other reviewers. I have seen review where they give this game only a 5 or 6 on the visual aspect. And I don’t think that’s enough. Because most of this game is told through it’s presentation. This game is more like an interactive book. There isn’t a lot of animation to talk about, apart from the flashbacks and cutscenes. I honestly loved revisiting certain places just because of the visual polish this game got.

So, before we go to my conclusion, I do think I have to speak my mind about the replay value. This game has a small bit of replay value. Because there are two different endings. You can only unlock the 2nd ending once you finished the game. Also, the 2nd ending is more for… Whoops, I nearly spoiled a part of the game.

Yeah, because of the genre of this game, there isn’t any replay value besides the second ending. The only time you might replay it, is when you want to review it or just feel like replaying this game.

So, time to move on to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Way too short.

– Failed to bring innovation to the genre, where there was potential.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ …

Final thoughts:

The biggest setback of this game is that’s it’s short. Way to short. Because of that, I see how a lot of people won’t really get into this game. Honestly, playing through the game for a couple of times, I wasn’t able to find any other negative besides just the length of the game.

I honestly get the feeling that this game is polished to perfection instead of made longer. I might just be blinded a bit because my love for this game. Who knows? I invite you to play this game and tell me what you think. If you liked games like Ace Attorney or Trace Memory on the DS, it would be a shame if you missed out on this one!

Score: 75/100