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Gamer’s Thoughts: Advice to buy a gaming desktop/laptop

HP OmenAs the techy in my family, I’m often asked for advice when somebody wants to buy a new laptop or desktop. So, in this article, I’m going to share the advice I often provide to my friends and family when they are looking for a new computer. An interesting place to start is the new HP Omen laptops. Here is a good link to find more information about that. Also, I invite other techies to provide their tips in the comment section. Since, I don’t know everything that there is to know about computers, sharing information is so important. It’s better than starting a discussion about who is right or wrong. I’ll do my best to reply to every question to have to the best of my abilities, so feel free to ask that too in the comments. Enough introduction, so lets’s get into it.

Before you start.

Before I start looking for a good laptop or desktop to suggest to the person looking for a new computer, you need an answer on a few things.

First of all, pin down what your computer should be capable to do. How much horse power do you actually need? Take a look at what you do on the computer and try to decide if your current computer is strong enough or not. When you are deciding this, also take a look at the future. Especially when you play a lot of games on your computer, keeping in mind that games will require more demanding hardware in the future.

Secondly, decide if you want to go with a brand or build your own device. In my opinion, I think it’s best to go for a desktop if you don’t travel a lot. If you play a lot of games, I wouldn’t recommend an Apple computer then. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Apple computers are bad for gaming. The thing is that you can’t easily upgrade an existing Mac computer to have newer components compared to non-Apple products.

I’m convinced that a lot of techies will say that you need to build your own computer if you want to play games on it. While you can certainly consider this option, I would only recommend that to more experienced computer users. The big difference is that you have better support when you buy a branded computer. Since then you can return it to a shop. Thankfully, there are some computer shops out there that help a customer build their own computer and have a warranty on it.

And the 3rd thing is something I already touched on earlier, which brand should you take. While I have put my own gaming desktop together now, I have some experiences with some brands in the past. I have good experiences with Asus, Lenovo and HP devices. I didn’t have the best experiences with Dell laptops. But, do your own research. Look up reviews for various devices from that brand before you make a decision.

Before we continue, the advice I’m going to give in the remainder of this article are things that I say out of my personal experience. If you are looking for a new computer, ask for a 2nd opinion when possible. Having two or more opinions can be helpful to make a wise decision.

Personally, I think it’s not always the best idea to buy the latest of the latest computer that is out on the market. My reason for that is because there isn’t always support out there. When a product has been on the market for a few months, the most common problems have been fixed and various troubleshooting steps can be found on tech forums and various other sources.

Before we start talking about the parts, I have one more general thing to say. Always make your computer somewhat future proof. If you have the budget, don’t settle with just strong enough specs. Take a bit higher specs than you need. This makes your computer future proof and this way you don’t need to upgrade or replace your computer after a while when it’s not strong enough for the latest games you want to play.

Paying attention to the parts

Let’s talk about parts. In the section, I tried to make the advice as general as possible, but some things will only apply to people who decide to build their own computer.

Which is the most important part in the computer? In my opinion, I think that the CPU is one of the most important parts of your computer. The faster and the more cores a CPU has, the better in my opinion. If you play games, I would recommend an i7-processor at least. The reason why you need to invest in a good processor is simple. You can have a powerful graphics card or really fast RAM if the CPU can’t process your requests fast enough, the bottleneck is real. If you can overspend on a part, do it for your CPU.

When you decide on which motherboard to take, check if it has enough features to power all the ports you want. Do it have enough expansion slots? Since you might need it when you want to put in more graphics cards or a high-end audio card. Personally, I’m a fan of ASRock and ASUS motherboards.

I want to talk about power supplies. When you are building your own computer, make sure that your power supply is beefy enough. One time, my own computer had issues where it shut down on its own when running high demanding programs. After a lot of troubleshooting and research, I discovered that my power supply didn’t provide enough power to my devices to run properly. Make sure that your power supply has provided enough Watt. Personally, I recommend 100W more than what’s needed to power your computer. There are various tools that you can use to calculate how much power your computer needs. One I used is the one of CoolerMaster.

How much RAM do you need? That’s an interesting question. At the moment of writing this article, I think that a minimum of 8GB of DDR4 RAM should do the trick. Personally, I have more RAM on my main desktop because I use my desktop for virtualization and that requires a strong CPU and a lot of RAM.

In terms of graphics cards, I have experience with both AMD and NVidia cards. While talking about this could be a whole article on its own, but I think that this article from TechRadar is a great resource. Personally, I have a NVidia GeForce 660 in my main desktop. I have chosen for a weaker graphics card since I don’t mind lowering the graphics settings to play a game. I also play a lot of retro games, so I don’t need a strong graphics card for that.

If it’s possible, I think it’s a really wise idea to have an SSD and an HDD for storage. Install your operating system on the SSD and install your programs and store your data on the HDD. In my main desktop, I have a 256GB SSD and a 3TB HDD. I know that there are 1TB and higher out there. But, I was a bit on a budget and decided to save a bit of money on storage.  I installed my operating system, drivers and frequently used programs on my SSD. I can assure you that this runs quite fast. I barely have time to open my water bottle and take a drink before Windows loads.

Also, I have another reason why you should store your important data on an HDD. At this moment in time, data recovery from an SSD is very difficult. I have read some sources saying that it’s nearly impossible to do. So, keep that in mind when you decide to buy that 1TB SSD. An SSD is a fast hard drive, but if it goes bad, you might not be able to recover your data. Unless you pay a lot of money for it to let it be recovered at a professional data recovery center. If you want a comparison, here is another interesting article written by the people over at VersionDaily.

Another quite important thing to decide is the cooling. Do you choose for water cooling or not. So far, I don’t have experience with water cooling. I’m also somewhat paranoid with liquids close to my electronic devices. While I have heard a lot of great things about water cooling, I’m not really convinced about it. PCWorld wrote a good article about this.

Personally, I don’t know enough to give advice on sound cards. So, that’s why I provide a link to Lifewire to their article about sound cards.

The final part I want to talk about is the case. If you built a computer, deciding on the case is important. Since that is the thing you will look at the most when you buy/build your computer. Personally, I have only used cases from Corsair and I’m quite happy with them. Something I really like is that they provide parts like hard disk trays on their web shop for decent prices.

When you decide on parts, always read reviews about it. What are the most common problems and are the fixes for it! Always inform yourself, but don’t over-inform yourself. Having too much information isn’t good either. Another good resource is PCPartPicker.com. This is an amazing website that will help you when you are going to build your computer. There you also find various builds that can provide as an example.

Final thoughts

So, I think I said everything I wanted to say. When you are picking a new computer to play games on, first educate yourself and decide what you need before you go looking at computers. When you have a good idea of what you want, you can make better decisions.

If you have the technical know-how or know somebody (or some shop) that can help you build your own computer, I recommend that for playing games. But, keep in mind that repairing it will more troublesome compared to a computer you buy from a brand.

If you want to know more, watch some build videos from good tech channels. Personally, I can recommend Carey Holzman, Linus Tech Tips, JayzTwoCents, Bitwit and Austin Evans.

I want to 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 on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of Time / Darkness & Sky (DS) ~ Expansion Dungeon?

PMD3

Wikipedia entry

So, remember when Nintendo released an enhanced version of each generation? Games like Pokémon Yellow, Crystal, Emerald and Platinum come to mind. Well, they also did that once for their Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. When Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness released, a year later Nintendo released Explorers of the Sky. I have beaten Explorers of Time but I haven’t beaten this updated version yet. Why did I decide to write a review then? Well, the core mechanics haven’t changed in this version. In any case, it’s time to take a look at this game, what do I think about this entry in one of my favorite game series? As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the game. 

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Note: In this review, I will focus mostly on the Sky version of the game. But my thoughts in this review apply to all versions of this game except the exclusive stuff in the Sky version.

Note 2: To avoid mentioning the full title of the game every time, I refer to the games by only using the last word in the title.

Let’s form a guild

Pokemon mystery dungeon explorers of the sky 2

So, you start up a new game and you get a personality quiz. This will decide which Pokémon you will be during the whole adventure. For some reason, I love doing this quiz. I have played it various times and I always end up with the same Pokémon.

So, the story of this game. You play as a human that got turned into a Pokémon. You meet your partner on the beach. After your partner gets his special artifact stolen from some rival gang, you and your partner go and reclaim the stolen artifact. After you have helped your partner, both of you team up and go join the local guild.

When you join the local guild, you learn that somebody is stealing the time gears and which controls time in that given area. So, you set out on an adventure to stop this madness and restore peace to the land.

And that’s just the basic part of the story. This story goes much deeper. You go on various quests and adventures, it’s great. The writing in this game is great, but some jokes are more aimed at the younger audience. In the Sky version, there is additional backstory added to the game. There is also a longer epilog added to the game. I still have to finish the epilog, but I love the added stories so far.

The visual presentation of this game is, as you would expect from a Nintendo game, excellent. I can understand that the visuals might turn some people off since they aren’t upgraded too much from the original GBA title. Still, the detail in the artwork is well done. Also, the gorgeous full-screen pictures are an amazing touch. A common criticism of this game is that

A common criticism of this game is that the dialogues go on and on for too long. I honestly didn’t mind this too much, but I do understand why people complain. This game could have benefitted from some cutscenes, even when it’s just a big picture that goes over the two DS screens.

Was this needed?

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The expanded Sky version has a very mixed reception. While some reviewers hated this version, some reviewers loved it. The biggest issue is that the things that were added in this version were somewhat minor at first. Why do I say minor at first? Well, this version has much more polish than the original versions.

Why do I say minor at first? Well, this version has much more polish than the original versions. Also, there are some many things added like: new dungeons, new story, more starters, new places and shops… But most of them appear after a bit of playtime or is post game content.

I think that this could have been handled better. I think that the Sky version should have been the only one that got released. It’s the superior version of Time and Darkness. So, if you haven’t played these games yet, don’t bother with Time and Darkness, play the Sky version.

Another interesting idea would be a sort of “save file transfer” feature. So, that you transfer your save file from either Time or Darkness to Sky and you get direct access to the new features without having to replay the whole game.

If you have played Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Blue or Red Rescue Team, you know what you can expect in this game. You go through randomized dungeons while fighting various other rogue Pokémon. Your goal is to reach the end of the dungeon so you can continue to the story.

Sometimes you have sentry duty over at the guild. Then you have to guess which 250px-MD_Darkness_EN_boxartPokémon wants to enter the guild. I think this mini game would be pretty tricky if you aren’t familiar with Pokémon. But, if you are familiar with Pokémon, this shouldn’t give you too much trouble.

When you aren’t exploring a dungeon, you can go and visit the local town to buy items and upgrade your Pokémon. You can also go on various side quests and/or hunt after wanted criminals.

The core gameplay can be repetitive, yet enjoyable. If you play this game more an extended amount of time, it might get boring. But, if you spice things up with some side quests and trying to progress the story, the game stays enjoyable.

In Sky, there is a new Spinda Café added, which adds some new mechanics into the game. But, I’ll leave that for you to find out. One of them is a recycling mechanic and another is the lottery mechanic. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Check it out since it will help you in your journey.

When you die in a dungeon, you get kicked back to the start of the dungeon or the mid-way checkpoint. The catch is that you lose some items and almost all your cash. So be careful what you take with you since you can loose it when you aren’t careful.

The music for this game is excellent. There is one song that almost every time hits a cord with me. That song’s name is “Don’t Ever Forget – I don’t want to say goodbye…” and it plays near the climax of the whole game. To avoid spoilers, I’m not going to say too much about it, but it still gives me goosebumps while writing this part of the review. And I’m not the only one. Just go on YouTube and read the comments. Yeah, you will understand what I mean.

The music adds so much to this game. There are so many memorable moments that are made so much more powerful with the soundtrack. So, I highly recommend playing this game with a good pair of headphones. Thank me later.

A quick note about the sound design, it’s great. But honestly, due to the amazing soundtrack, it didn’t pay too much attention to the sound design to comment too much about it.

Snatch that jewel

Pokemon mystery dungeon explorers of the sky 1

This game can be pretty difficult in some places. But, most of those moments can be defeated with some grinding. Yet, sometimes you have or can get lucky and finish a difficult dungeon by finding the stairs on each floor.

In Sky, there are various tweaks at the difficulty. But the random monster houses can be so cheap. I died more than once because of this.

The controls for this game are great. I didn’t have any problems with them. The only annoying thing is that you attacking diagonally is a nightmare. I had to struggle with the controls more than once to do that. Also, attacking at a corner doesn’t work. Your attack always misses. This is fixed in later entries in the series.

Due to the randomized nature of the dungeons you enter, there is a lot of replay value in this game. But, you will miss a skip button for skipping the story bits.

Speaking about that, something that annoyed me was the end of the day after you finished your missions. You go through dinner with your guild and it takes a bit too long. I honestly think that a skip button for this would help. But, that would be tricky since sometimes at night time, you get important story bits. So, I can understand why it isn’t added.

This game’s length is great. If you play through the game to just beat the main story, you will have 30-ish hours of gameplay ahead of you. But, I have read that when you want to complete this game, you have over 150 hours of game time ahead of you.

So, that’s everything I wanted to talk about in this game. I didn’t talk about some parts, but hey, that means there are still surprises for you to find when you decide to give this game a try. So, it’s time to wrap up this whole review in the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Some minor issues like not being able to attack at corners aren’t fixed from the previous entry in the series.

-The bad reception for the Sky version is understandable. Due to the release of Sky, the Darkness and Time versions look unpolished.

-This game could have benefitted from some cutscenes.

-A skip button for the story isn’t here. This would benefit 2nd playthroughs so much.

The good:

+ Great story and writing.

+ Great visuals.

+ Amazing music.

+ Fun, yet sometimes repetitive, gameplay.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you want to give this game a shot, I highly recommend playing the Sky version. If you think the games are worth a replay, you might give the Time & Darkness a chance. But remember, like I said in the review, the Sky version is better since it has much more polish than the originals.

This game is excellent. This game is one of my favorite games in the series and I can’t wait to finish the additional content. I have beaten this game at least 4 times, so that’s why I wrote a review instead of a first impression.

I can understand people who are let down by the Sky version since they played Darkness and/or Time first. But, don’t let it discourage you to not play this game. You would miss out on a great Pokémon spin-off that is slowly growing into an amazing series.

This game doesn’t have too many flaws, but the flaws it has aren’t too big of a deal in my eyes. They didn’t stop me from enjoying the game and having a great time.

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

Score: 95/100

NekoJonez’s May 2017 Update

SpartaSleepingHello there, it’s time for another update blog. The summer season is almost here and I think it’s time to tell you my schedule for the summer of 2017. Also, there are a few things I want to update you guys and girls about what’s going on behind the scenes in my life and my blog. While I’m introducing this update blog, you can enjoy a picture of my lovely cat Sparta napping. She turned 9 years old last month, so yeah. In any case, it’s time to get the updates rolling! 

My favorite gaming music #20 article progress

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At the moment of writing this update article, I have to still write 20% of the article. After that, I’ll have to proofread the article, finish the layout and then put in all the tags and then do the final touches before I can publish it.

But, I can’t publish the article right away. I’ll tell you guys this, I first want to talk about a few games before I can publish the article. So, in the upcoming weeks, I’ll talk about those games. That’s all I’m going to spoil about that.

Writing this article is one of the biggest writing projects I have ever done for this blog. I can’t wait until it’s finished to show it to you. It’s going to be a very long article so, be prepared when you are going to read it.

If everything goes according to plan, I think I’ll be able to publish the article in either July or August. Remember, if you followed me on Twitter, you might have already known this.

Future content during the summer

While I try to plan everything out, sometimes I get a mail about an interesting game and I reschedule everything. But, I do have to say that I have the next 10 articles planned.

At this moment in time, my schedule has cleared up quite a bit. I finished my evening classes for this school year and the play ended last month. So, that means I have a bit more time for my personal life and this blog.

When I have the time, I might publish more than one post a week in this summer. But, because it’s summer time, I’m planning a few trips to meet up with friends and family so, it’s possible that I won’t publish articles in the weekend but during the workweek.  Pay attention, this will only be during the summer period. Because in September, my evening classes resume and not much later I’ll start to be in the rehearsals for the play in 2018.

I think it’s a great idea to follow me on Twitter since it’s so easy to publish quick updates. Also, feel afraid to tweet at me. I only bite in my food, so it’s all good.

Guest articles

Behind the scenes, I’m working with a few bloggers on a big project. I’m actually thinking about doing some collaborations with other bloggers. I won’t announce them in this article since they are still in the planning phases.

Speaking about guest articles, did you know I was a part of the Question of the Month articles in April and May? If you are interested in me answering the question of the month over at LaterLevels, well give it a look. I won’t spoil the question for June, but I have already submitted my reply for that!

Oh, if you are a blogger yourself and you want to do a collab with me, just send me a mail, tweet me or use my contact page. I’m open to collabs! I find them so much fun to do!

Misc updates

Here are some quick and smaller updates that I wanted to share.

Garage sale season is restarting. I can’t wait to go out on the hunt in the near future. I have a few ones already planned. Loot pictures will be on my Twitter when I find new games.

I have bought a 2nd 32GB SD card for my 3DS. Yeah, I was able to get a 32GB SD card full with games on my 3DS, I have since the 3DS released.

I was able to fix my gaming desktop finally. About time! It has been running excellent since Easter without any hiccups. So, the issue was that my 450W power brick was unable to get enough power to my hardware when it was under high load. I replaced the power brick with a 550W one, and it runs all the games I had problems with without any issue. I’m so glad I have my desktop back.

Also, if you follow me on Twitter, you might know that I tried to fix a computer I got from my grandfather in late April. It was a Packard Bell that I was unable to find drivers for anywhere on the internet. So, after replacing a faulty RAM stick and a new hard drive, I got the machine up and running again.

So, now I have two retro game PCs and a gaming desktop. My first retro PC is a Windows 98 SE machine with 512MB of RAM, 900MHz CPU, and 120GB HDD. The graphics are integrated on the motherboard. The new retro game PC is a Pentium 4 2,7 GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, 180 GB hard disk and the graphics are also integrated.

If you are wondering, my main gaming desktop is one that my uncle and I put together. It has a 3,7 GHz CPU, GeForce GTX 660, 120GB SSD, 2TB HDD and 16GB of RAM. It’s a powerful machine. While it doesn’t have the best graphics card on the market, I mainly use this computer for my evening classes. And in my evening classes, I have to use a lot of virtual machines and this computer is very good for that.

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

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?!?

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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

Review #034: Barbie – Secret Agent – Royal Jewels Mission (GBA) ~ Girls Game?

Barbie Secret Agent GBAGamespot entry

I can smell the comments already. I’m going to put my reputation on the line here. Oh, this review is going to be so much troll bait. You know what, I’m not to give a single care. Not only do I want to open my GBA month with a blast of an article, I want to prove something with reviewing this game. Since I got it so busy, I’m saying that the GBA month will last until roughly the end of November. I’ll write a Tumblr update soon to update my shedule. Anyways, let’s get serious. I’m going to review a girl children game for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance. I’m going to make it even better. I have beaten this game in my childhood and I wasn’t ashamed of it at all. There is a reason why I approve my comments, to only accept the serious ones. Don’t worry, the troll ones on this one will be deleted. A moderated comment section has benefits. Yeah. As always, feel free to leave a relevant comment in the comment section underneath this article. 

Kids game

secret-agent-barbie-royal-jewels-mission-usaThis game was originally owned by my sister when she was younger. Back then we couldn’t buy so many games, so I played every game I could get my hands on. My sister and I were playing this game together. This game is memorable to me because I have such fond memories with my sister playing this game. ^w^

But why would I be interested as a boy to play a game clearly meant for girls? Well, the subject material does a lot here. Why do boys want to be a superhero? Because that’s something that interests a lot of boys. Being a secret agent gives you that vibe of a superhero and to me it doesn’t matter that it’s a girls toy.

The story isn’t anything to write home about, it’s as basic as a children game can get. But it does get one job done, it draws kids in. It gives a sense of purpose to the game. Thanks to the story we also visit different locations around the world and it gives some great variety in the locations you visit in the game.

Discs

1539Tutorials, it can be such a pain. But this children game got it actually right. The first level is amazingly designed that little children learn to play this game with ease. You first start with a couple of jumps. Then the game hides the game mechanic that will drive children to explore the levels. In each level there are a certain amount of discs hidden. Getting all the discs will unlock a secret.

It never gets explain what the secrets do. At first it looks like a simple costume change. But it goes much further then that. Do you want to know what, well give the game a try. It’s worth it.

The goal of each level is trying to look for the exit. There are several levels ranging from England to China. Each level has various stages. So, this game isn’t a short one either. It doesn’t have a saving system but it does have a password system. So, with this the developers avoid the flaw of having kids save over the progress of the file of their brother or sister’s.

In the later stages of the game, you will be asked to use your gadgets creatively. When I was replaying this game to give it a second look, I did get a challenging time here and there. Yes, even as a 21-year adult. When you aren’t clever, this game can catch you of guard quite easily.

A negative of this game that I remember are the minigames in the final levels. It are the mini games at the start but sped up to a crazy speed. So, you will need less skill and more luck. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that this game has mini-games. These are used to open gates and locked doors.

The other thingies.

secret_agent_barbie

This game controls pretty well. It’s fluid and responsive. You will need that because this is a stealth game. The controls are really straight forward. Logical, a kid needs to figure it out.

Visually, this game looks pretty nice on the Gameboy Advance. I have seen screenshots from the PC version of this game and the visuals of this version are quite better. They aren’t anything ground breaking but they do the job quite well.

Earlier I said that the controls are really good. A big part is the animation. Like I said for the graphics, it’s animated like a typical GBA would. This is actually a benefit of the game.

I want to address one final point of this game before I end this game, and that’s the music. Long time readers know that I can talk in great detail about the music of games. I even write a series about it. But there are low chances that the music of this game will appear on those lists. The reason for that is that it’s mediocre. It fits the mood and style of the game but it isn’t memorable. I have a hard time remembering tunes from the game.

And with that said, it’s time to go to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Mediocre soundtrack.

– Minigames are more annoying in the final levels.

– Weak plot, yet good enough to draw in kids.

The good:

+ Fun gameplay.

+ Rewards that are worth it to explore the level.

+ Different level styles. 🙂 (That’s something else for you to discover when you play the game.)

+ Great controls.

+ Password system.

+ Neat visual design.

Final thoughts:

So, if I haven’t proven my point yet; I think I will have to actually literally say it. This game is quite amusing. It isn’t the best game out there, but it’s better then you might think. It’s not just a game that you give your young daughter to enjoy herself. It’s a game that can be enjoyed by young and old.

While the younger audience would be more engaged by the story and setting of the game because they have the more child fantasy, the older audience can find their enjoyment in the great level design and fun game that is presented.

This game might have some flaws but the flaws aren’t game breakingly bad. When you put aside the “Barbie games are for girls” mentally and remember in the back of your mind that this game has some flaws but is very enjoyable, you won’t regret it. Give this game a shot and try to remember what I said in the review. Hopefully you will see that this game is actually well crafted.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this first article of the GBA specials. I hope to see you in another article.~

Score: 70/100

Gaming Nostalgia #3: Why I adore portable gaming so much.

Nintendo ds reparatie groningenIf people ask me what my favorite console ever is, then I’ll answer that I choose the Nintendo Wii. My favorite handheld, is a way tougher question. It’s currently the Nintendo DS line but it was a close call between the Gameboy Advance and the Sony PSP. My favorite gaming platform, well that’s the Nintendo DS right now. Some may say that I’m a Nintendo fanboy. While that’s somewhat true I’m not only a Nintendo fanboy. If you read my blog, it’s quite clear that I also play other games then Nintendo games. One of my favorite games of all time isn’t even on a Nintendo platform. Anyways, it’s time to tell a story. A story about my past in games. Feel free to leave a comment about this story or/and your own experiences.

Gameboy

So, the computer I got because my parents didn’t want me to work or play on their computer was actually a pretty weak one for it’s time. It’s was excellent to introduce me into old school gaming but when I wanted to play more recent games, I have to be lucky and play them at a friends house.

Tetris_BoxshotSince I had a limited time on the computer and Belgium doesn’t offer any shows on TV concerning games I wasn’t able to keep myself up-to-date with the currently released games. I got interested in games that I saw at my nephew’s or friends place. So, of course I jumped the bandwagon of Pokémon.

I had a hard time to make friends as a kid. (Don’t worry, this isn’t the case anymore 🙂 ) So, most of my hobbies were things I could do alone or with my sister. Even as a child, I was addicted to writing stories and creating things. I didn’t knew that a laptop existed so when I got my own gameboy, my young mind went …. well … boom.

I felt like I was able to carry a small computer all around where ever I needed it. My experience with games before I got my own gameboy were nothing more then playing Pac-Man or Tetris on my aunt’s brick gameboy. You know, the original gameboy.

It all started with a bang.

I still remember a moment when I was at my aunt’s place and I just stopped playing Tetris. I placed the gameboy back in the drawer and when my aunt took it out and took one of the batteries out of the back, the battery exploded for some reason in her hand.

Normally, a child wouldn’t be so fond anymore of playing on that gameboy. Seeing things explode and people you love get hurt, it isn’t really the most fun experience for a child.

But the opposite happened. I wanted to know why the battery exploded and how I could prevent it. From that moment on, I started to ask technical questions about the gameboy. Like, which batteries that need to go inside it. I can be sure that since that day, my fascination with games started.

Oh, after finishing this article I remembered an important part of the story. When I was young, my aunt took me over to friends of hers. She had to babysit the two daughters who on their turn looked after me. And they had a box of gameboy games. That’s how I actually got introduced to a gameboy. Man, the memories coming back now.

the-legend-of-zelda-a-link-between-worlds-screenshot-ME3050186199_2I remember that even before I could play Pokémon, I was playing Super Mario on my gameboy over and over. I had never beaten it. Even when I try now, I can’t beat it. This makes one thing pretty clear to me. I’m not so good in platformers.

A genre I’m actually good at is the adventure genre. One day I was actually on a flea market. Since my family wanted to save on games, we bought our games there. I bought a Zelda game there. Best decision I ever made. Period. Since that day I was hooked to the series. I couldn’t stop playing it. I even stopped playing Pokémon because the Zelda games interested me more.

When I want to tell you guys the reason why I enjoy handheld games so much then I can tell the story in a way shorter version. I didn’t had access to the other systems. It’s the system where I find the most enjoyment. Since portable games need to be fun in short and long bursts. This fits my playing style just perfectly.

If you want to read more about my childhood memories with games, you will have to wait until I write a new article of gaming nostalgia. (Or read the previous two.) Since I see that I’m running out of space to write about one game of my childhood.

Dusting off: Lego Alpha Team

Alpha_Team_Game_Cover1

Wikipedia link

I was so pissed when this game broke on my computer. The game started crashing all over the place. Since this game is actually quite fun.

It’s a game about handholding but the other way around. You have to place tiles so your character can run in the right direction. You do have a limited amount of tiles of course.

This game challenged my young mind quite a lot. This game is the base of my love for adventure games and puzzling games. When it stopped working on my computer, I was allowed to play this game on my parents their computer. And only this game.

You really need to check this game out! Since I highly recommend it. And don’t worry, this game is on my list to talk about more in depth in the future of my blog.

Closing words

Thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading my story. I enjoy looking back on my past and talking about it. After all, I’m more of a story writer then an actual article writer.

If you want to be kept up-to-date with me, I advice you to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter. So, until the next time! Later!

Gaming Nostalgia #2: A story that started my career as leader

downloadWell, it seems that I’m sick again. Thank the lords that I’m able to do various things. I have mostly a pretty stuffy nose and sometimes a heavy headache. But I’m healthy enough to go to college and write articles. Thanks to my medication. At these times I try to write a ton of articles or I look back to the past. In this case, I combine both. This second article in my gaming nostalgia series will be quite different than the original. Since I’m telling a quite personal story. Let’s just start the story I hinted at various times. All while I’m listing to amazing music. So, without further ado, here is the second gaming nostalgia article. 

My life as a child

Nintendo GameboyBefore that trip my life was extremely simple. I wrote small stories I rarely shared with friends. It was a kind of secret hobby. I was obsessed with creating my own games. Back then, the stories I wrote were more in the style of a series, movie or game. When I look back at the drawings and notes I made, I’m blown off my socks how simple and great the ideas are. I even made my own Pokémon game named Pokémon Black, White and Grey years before the actual games came out.

My biggest addiction was, and somewhat still is, the gameboy. I played the crap out of every game I owned. I’m now 21 years old and I still own nearly every game I owned back then. So, I was that child who made amazing things but had just a few friends. Somebody with a much potential but it wasn’t used. Why that is, let’s say that those things are rather private. M’kay?

I didn’t know that I was actually a natural born leader. Somehow, I’m able to lead a group of people who share the same passion or some similar interests. I wasn’t aware of it myself until that trip. My life changed then. I went from that child who barely made any friends to the most popular kid in the hotel. Sadly enough, I don’t think anybody remembers the time from back then. But if you recognize yourself in this story, feel free to contact me.

The trip

tumblr_mdlu4cepy01qh0t50o1_500You probably had it happen to you several times in the past. Your family takes you on a trip to a place a long distance away and you decide to travel by car. As a kid you were allowed to buy a new game you were allowed to start when the trip started. I still remember a few games I played at the backseat of my dad’s car back then.

When I arrived at the hotel after a 15 hour car ride, I finally settled in. I played a lot on my Gameboy Advance SP. Since I remember that I didn’t own a DS. Somebody there owned a DS and he was so kind to lend it to me. I was hooked and I tried various things and times to get one myself.

After the first day, I started playing with some friends I made in the bar on our gameboy’s. By our surprise, some kids came to us and asked if they could play along. We agreed and we played as long as we were allowed on our gameboy’s. At the end I asked to meet again the next day. They agreed and they said that it might be possible that they bring other friends. I agreed and I had no single clue what I actually agreed too.

The Gameboy Club

The first night, I was in a group of, let us say… a 5 kids. Myself included. The next day, we were suddenly with 10. Alright, that’s epic. But the following days, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. The number kept growing and growing. By the 4th day we had over 40 children playing together on their gameboy.

Everybody brought their own gameboy, games, batteries and cables. Believe it or not, we even got an extension cord from the hotel management since there weren’t enough outlets.

Our group had a place at the bar. The people at the clubs that were looking over me and my original friend group allow us to leave a few minutes before the activity was over. That way we were able to prepare our spot at the bar. It was a big circle with tables in the middle so everybody had a place to put their stuff.

On the 6th day we had almost every kid who had a gameboy or something to play with in the “Game Club”. I remember some parents coming to talk to me for information. For some reason, I was seen as a leader. And when one day a game was missing, I was actually questioned by the hotel staff in order to find it back. Thankfully we found it back thanks to my list.

Wait, what list are we talking about here? Well, the day before I started to make a general list of the games everybody brought. It was a big chunk of work but I didn’t care. I felt it was pretty useful and that way kids could see who had which game. So, if they wanted to play an old Pokemon game, they just had to look to the list.

From the 6th day on, kids came to me and asked when we started with the “Game Club”. It was an extremely sweet experience. I still remember walking around in the group checking if there weren’t any arguments that needed to be solved. I also explained to new kids how our system worked. Parents were extremely happy to see how such a big group of kids actually came together without them having to do one thing.

The final days

Although, I had some things that parents didn’t like. I still remember some parents being displeased that their child was looking forward to play games with us. They said those typical things like “addicted to games” and “it’s not good for you, playing so much.”. I still have the same motto from back then. I even made it into my current tag line. “Addicted? Nah, passionate.” What I mean with that, is as long as you know when to stop and where the limits are, is that’s a big passion.

Near the last days of my trip, I had to ask somebody else in order to manage the group. I still have papers were I wrote questions about games. Back then, I already knew more then I normally should about games. I knew small things about programming and gameplay. I even dare say that I was a young reviewer already back then. But keep in mind, I was around the age of 10 back then.

The questions I asked were about things like: “How many Pokémon games do exist?” and “Name me three platformers”. I was less crazy back then it seems.

Sadly enough, it’s all I remember clearly. Here and there I have some vague memories. Like I know that one time a parent actually purchased me and my crew a drink for all our hard work. I also remember that I didn’t had much time to actually play and enjoy the games at the last days since I had too much managing to do. Somehow it didn’t bother me. It felt natural.

But I know for sure that since that day, I wanted to entertain people. I started to talk about my stories with friends and a few years later I even started blogging and making my own games. While I don’t have any files of those games I created myself anymore, those experiences helped me learn quite a lot about the gaming culture.

I think it’s time to wrap up. I don’t want to write an additional part where I talk about how this changed my life. I think it’s quite clear. My passion grew and grew. Maybe in another article I might talk about other influential events in my life that made me start blogging and such.

So, that was the story about my first leadership. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article and remembering those fun memories. Thanks for reading and until the next time.