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Review: Blood: Fresh Supply (PC – Steam) ~ He lives AGAIN.

Blood_logoWikipedia entry – Steam linkSteam link
The Build Engine. One of the biggest game engines ever created in 3D shooter history. Three landmark titles have been created in that engine called Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior and today’s topic: Blood. Back in the day, I used to download a lot of old archived shareware or demo versions of old DOS games. In one of these adventures, I downloaded the demo for the legendary Blood, and I was hooked. At the time, things like Steam weren’t what they are today and I still was in secondary school (high school for you Americans) and too young to start a holiday job. Then, on one summer Steam sale, I found this game for a rather cheap price and I thought: “Why not.”. So, I bought the game for €1 and moved on with my day. Then, COVID-19 happened last year, and I was looking through my game library to play after work. I booted up Blood, and it got my top 10 games of 2020 list. Why did I give this game a spot on my top 10 games list? What did I like so much about this game to place it on that list? Let’s find out together while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts/opinions on the content of the article and/or the game.

He lives AGAIN

Blood 1In this game, you take on the role of Caleb. Caleb has a reputation for being a merciless gunfighter from the Midwest. Caleb is a servant of the god Tchernobog and his minions called ‘The Cabal’. Now, for some reason, our “friendly” god kills Caleb and his fellow chosen for whatever reason and dumps Caleb in a grave. Caleb rises up from his grave several years later, and he is looking for vengeance of course.

Like your typical old school 3D shooters, the story isn’t the main focus of this game. Most of the story in this game is told through cutscenes at the start and end of a chapter and the environment that you are going through. Speaking about which, there is are  a lot of moments like: you start on the train you that you crashed in the previous level. The whole game feels interconnected due to small details like that.

There are a few cutscenes in the game that enhance the story by a little. The reason I’m saying only a little is that the total runtime of these cutscenes is give or take only 5 minutes. Which is a shame, since the cutscenes really added to the atmosphere of the game. On the other hand, I think that if this game had more cutscenes, it would overpower the gameplay and the environmental story telling.

There is voice acting in this game. Of course, you have your typical enemy shouting that is as immersive as the cowboy shouting from Outlaws. You also have your wise-cracking main character Caleb voiced by Stephan Weyte. Stephan also did voice work for one of my favorite edutainment companies Humongous Entertainment. He voiced several side characters in the Pajama Sam and Freddi Fish games. Before I start rambling about unrelated things for this review, I have to say that Stephan killed it with his performance in this game. His delivery is extremely memorable, and I love his voice work for this game. A fun fact is that the voice acting for our evil god has been done by the executive producer Jace Hall.

Should you play Blood for the story? Oh, heavens no. Don’t misunderstand me here, the story of this game is fine, but it is far from the best story you can experience in a shooter. The story is there to set the mood and set up the atmosphere of this game and to help you immerse yourself in the game. But, nothing more nothing less.

Now, if we check on the Blood Wiki on the amount of different versions and ports that this game got we learn that there are two versions of this game on Steam. You have Blood – Fresh Supply and Blood – One Unit Whole Blood. At the moment of writing, the “One Unit Whole Blood” version has been removed from Steam and the “Fresh Supply” version is still up for sale. I found a nice forum post about the biggest differences on the GOG.com forums between the two versions. As the title suggests, I played Fresh Supply for this review.

Crazy cultists

Blood 3I don’t think I have to explain what you have to do in old school 3D shooter games. You have to fight various enemies, find keys to open doors, do some platforming and solve some puzzles. Personally, I compare this game in a way to games like Heretic and Duke Nukem 3D. It’s an old school 3D shooter with amazing weapons and power ups to aid you in your battle against your enemies. There are a lot of different enemies with their own attack sound, strengths, and weaknesses.

Most of the weapons in this game has a secondary fire mode. For example, the double barred shotgun secondary fire shoots both bullets at once or the Tommy gun’s second fire let out a burst of bullets where you swing the weapon back and forth. You can even use one weapon as a turret and another weapon is a voodoo doll.

But the most iconic weapon in Blood is the dynamite. There are big differences in terms of the dynamite you can use. You have your normal dynamite, proximity, and dynamite you can remotely detonate. Depending on the chosen difficulty, the skill to use your weapons and especially dynamite is essential to your survival. I can’t count how many times I had to resort to dynamite to “thin out the herd”.

Speaking about the difficulty, if you aren’t too familiar with all Blood’s mechanics and secrets and different routes, I don’t advise the higher difficulty settings. I have to admit that I’m not the most skilled player when it comes to shooters and I had an extremely hard time with the medium setting. Get used to the mechanics of this game before you play on the highest difficulty settings and thank me later. The game is otherwise too frustrating for newcomers.

Earlier, I said that this game feels quite interconnected due to the level design. That start of the level represents the previous level. Most of the levels have a sort of linear design. You have to backtrack quite rarely. Yet, I found myself stuck in a few levels and the map system, while impressive, was far from helpful. Now, in terms of map systems, I think I might be spoiled by the more modern design methods where the key door locations are marked on your map.

Sadly enough, there are some moments that the level design wasn’t the best. For example, I found one or two spots where you can get soft locked. But more annoyingly, I found some monster rooms quite annoying since the exit gets locked, and you have to go switch hunt. I think these moments could have benefitted from Caleb saying: “Where is the switch” when interacting with the door.

This game is controlled through mouse and keyboard. While this game has controller support, I only played this game through mouse and keyboard. I didn’t have any problems with the controls and felt they worked amazingly. After a minor bit of tweaking to fit the AZERTY lay-out better that we use here in Belgium, I was able to master the responsive controls.

Visually, this game still looks fine. The visual improvements you can choose to either enable or disable are a great way to choose between the vanilla textures and the newer “more modern” visuals. Of course, this game really shows its age in the visual department but, that isn’t a bad thing for this game. I still find that the visual atmosphere is created amazingly, and I feel that the world still feels somewhat real and alive.

Something that truly impressed me are the animations. The animations in this game are a masterclass in how animations should look in shooter games. Enemies that get shot in the legs crawl towards you and keep shooting, enemies set on fire with a flare run around crazily… And that are just two examples.

Very rarely, I found some visual glitches. In one level there was some Z-fighting with a pillar switch. (Z-Fighting is when two textures overlap and the game can’t decide which one to show, so it flickers in between them.) In some spots, the shells of the Tommy gun vanished. These moments were thankfully rare and didn’t impact gameplay too much.

Dynamite

Blood 2The sound design in this game is extremely important. If you don’t pay attention to the well crafted sound effects, you might miss some important enemy cues especially from the zombies. Since those don’t die right away from the weaker weapons. So, yeah, heard of hearing and deaf people are disavantaged when it comes to this game.

Sadly enough, the soundtrack could have been better. I feel that it’s too short and for some reason, it bugged out during my playthrough and it didn’t always play. While I was writing this section of the review, I was listening to the soundtrack on YouTube and I heard some tracks I haven’t heard in the game. While the music in itself is quite good and adds a lot to the atmosphere but it being only around 30 minutes, I felt that the soundtrack is too short for the game’s length.

This game has the perfect length for a shooter game like this. This game packs all the expansion packs so that means that a casual playthrough might take you around 10-ish hours. If you want to go for 100% you might be able to double that. But, this game gets so much more challenging and rewarding when you play it on higher difficulty settings so you might be able to get a lot more hours out of it than that.

Now, there is one thing in terms of the UI I really didn’t like. That’s the weapon wheel / ammo system. Let me explain. In the bottom center, you can see how much ammo you have for your weapons. Just like in other shooters from that time period, you have no idea which number corresponds with which weapon. It still shows “0″ even when you don’t have that weapon. The weapon wheel also doesn’t really show well to which weapon it’s going to switch since, it’s a wheel. When you pass the last weapon, it goes back to the first.

There is one thing I feel that the game totally dropped the ball on. And that’s the saving system. It’s not that the saving system doesn’t work, but it’s extremely bare bones. This game uses manual saving. There is no checkpoint saves when you enter a new level, but that isn’t such a big problem. I don’t mind manually saving once in a while I enter a new level or passed a difficult section. What I do mind is that the load system doesn’t give you ANY information in which level the save is. On top of that, you only have a limited amount of save slots and no visual information when you successfully saved the game. I worked around it by naming my saves with the level name like: “E1M3” (Episode 1 Map 3) and some additional info, but it shouldn’t be such a pain. Thankfully, we have a way better system now-a-days.

A minor thing that I really didn’t like in this game is the respawn mechanic. Of course, when you die, you are going to respawn at the start of the level with only your pitchfork. No problem there. But, the issue is in my opinion that the reloading just take a bit too long for my liking. It’s always faster to load your save from the pause menu then waiting on the game to respawn you. It might also save you some frustration since “pitchfork starting” isn’t always the most enjoyable way to play some levels.

This game also has Steam Achievements. These were a whole lot of fun to try and get. After I had beaten the game, I got 6 out of the 20 achievements. I could have gotten more but for some reason, my game glitched out and some achievements are still locked. Oh well, all the more reason for me to play through the game again at a later date.

There is quite a long list of references in this game. While I was 5 years old at the time of the original release, I had to admit I was able to pick up on several references. Maybe my love for retro games and retro media might have helped me out quite a lot there.

Oh, before I forget, there is a multiplayer mode in this game. I’m sorry but I haven’t played it at all so I’m not going to comment on it. But, from what I have read and seen, you both have your typical death match gameplay and a way to play through the campaign in a co-op fashion. That is sounding quite interesting for when I can let friends come over again.

And with that said, I think it’s high time for me to wrap up this review. I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game and before I ramble on and on, I’m going to wrap up this article in a neat conclusion like I usually do for my review articles.

Conclusion time

The good:

+ Amazing shooter with replay value.

+ Easy to learn but oh so difficult to master.

+ Still good looking after all these years.

+ Amazing audio design.

+ …

The bad:

-The save and load system isn’t the best.

-The weapon wheel is a bit broken.

-Some softlocks / switch hunting moments.

Final thoughts:

Blood is a game that came out in 1997. This game is almost 25 years old and I have to say that this game still holds up amazingly well. The visual improvements that the Fresh Supply remake brings to the table are amazing. It gives a breath of fresh air in an already amazing game.

While I was researching this game, I found several video’s by one of my favorite YouTubers Civvie11. The release of this remake wasn’t the best. Thankfully, through the years, the game got various patches and updates that improved the game quite a lot to the point that I barely noticed the points that Civvie gave in his original “Blood: Fresh Supply is broken” video.

Apart from some flaws, this game holds up amazingly well. I knew that Blood had a high reputation when I started playing it and I was so happy when the game didn’t dissapoint me at all. Of course, I encountered some jank because this game isn’t the newest but that’s to be expected.

Would I recommend this game to people who enjoy shooters? Absolutely. This game gets an easy recommendation from me. The game costs only 8,2€ here and let me tell you, you can play a lot worse games for that price. The few issues this game have can be taken care off and they won’t hinder your playthrough too much. Is Blood one of the best retro game shooters? Easy answer, yes. Yes, it is. It’s as good as the original Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Duke Nukem and if you enjoy retro games and especially shooters it should be a crime to not at least give this game a try.

And with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article and until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 95 / 100

FROM MANGA TO VIDEO GAME: Air Gear

This articles is being posted here for all my fellow cats, 17 hours before it appears anywhere else. I hope it is an enjoyable read.

220px-Air_Gear_vol01.jpgManga: Air Gear
Publisher: Kodansha
Mangaka: Oh! great
Genre:
 Action, Sports, Science Fiction, Bopunk, Comedy
Concept Game: Air Gear
Genre: Action RPG

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From Manga to Video Game: Btooom!

Btooom!_manga_vol_1.jpgManga: Btooom!
Publisher: Yen Press
Mangaka: Junya Inoue
Genre: Action, Science fiction, Romance, Psychological

Concept Game: Btooom!
Genre: Third person action

This articles is being posted here for all my fellow cats, 14 hours before it appears anywhere else. I hope it is an enjoyable read. 
Many of us have played call of duty in the past and those that have not have certainly seen gameplay or heard something about this massive success in the FPS genre; it’s like Final Fantasy to the RPG genre and Btooom! to the TPA genre….. oh wait, there is no Btooom! Game, but what if there was?

What if the manga was adapted into a third person shooter style game for modern PC and consoles. Could you imagine the awesome fun it would be to play such a game? By this point if you have no idea of what I am talking about then don’t worry I will explain briefly before I delve into the meat of this article.

OK so btooom! Is a manga based on a fictional game that can easily be a game in real life. The story is about this boy that is considered a Net (basically a hardcore online gamer). He is despised by his mother who has taken a husband that the boy does not seem to be too keen on. The mother then gets information about a game, ironically a real game based on the exact game her son plays. This game is played by real people with stakes that involve life and death. The company claims to be taking trouble makers out of regular society and so the wench sends her only son with this company (yes I called her a wench, what kind of mother does what she does). He is taken without his knowledge or consent to a remote island populated by giant lizards and other individuals of a similar faith as him.

They were all chosen by a person close to them that despised them enough to submit their name to be sent to the island. The main theme of the manga is kill or be killed. To leave the island one has to collect 7 gems, 6 if you don’t count the one embedded in the individual’s hand. The hard part of this arrangement is that the only way to acquire these gems is to kill people and take it from their corpse. The main way in which they battle is via the use of various bombs, hence the name btooom! The bombs are of different types and each type has a different ability. There is the standard one that just explodes, then the ones that spread a deadly acid cloud, the ones that home in on their target and numerous others.

downloads.jpg
The Island you go to to die.

Now that we are all caught up on the plot we can discuss what it would be like if this manga was made into a video game. Now as the game is already a third person shooter style affair in the manga then I say it should stay close to the source material in that aspect. The style I have in mind is similar to that of an uncharted 3 multiplayer style of game play. I think it would benefit from no HUD to add to the immersion.

The only way the player would be able to tell what Bim (the Bombs) they have active. They would be to look at their character whose stance will change depending on the one he/ she has active. For example the homing Bim in the manga is activated by holding it in front of the user’s eye and locking it on to a target. So for one like that the character stance would switch to one that is holds the Bim up in front of them. This I think will add a certain depth to the game that will allow vets to show their class by memorizing the different stances as well as being able to switch effortlessly between them even while in motion. In btooom the characters soon notice that they have to ability to detect moving targets by using the gems in their hands and putting out a sort of sonar style of pulse.

This is a great feature for such a game as without a HUD it will not have a map. The player will have to use their wits while using this system as by using it will give out that player’s location even if they are not moving. It will also add that trill of the stalk where some players can stay hidden not moving with a homing Bim only to pounce on passers-by. The Uncharted style gameplay would allow for a very limited almost accidental from of movement and verticality. This is very important to keeping the authenticity to the manga. Why I say this is because remember these are regular folks that are placed into a situation that they themselves are not familiar with, as such the character should handle in a sort of floaty as the match starts but as they kill more of their fellow men the controls will become tighter, deliberate.

The better players will use this system to their advantage, but this does not mean that by proper planning and execution that a new player can’t take them down. The system should be fair enough to reward all players but still punish weaknesses. As manga has access to an entire island I think the map should be just that. It can be split up into sections for some modes and open for the purist. The island in the manga has creatures on it most notable are the giant poisonous lizards. These creatures will be perfect for a multiplayer environment. They will add a certain degree of uncertainty and in some ways prevent the average camper from being just that, a camper.

Btooom has is a bit of like a survival story and because of that the characters have to use their surroundings to help them survive the hash island life they have been forced to live. In a game of the same nature it would be interest to add mechanics like a simple crafting system that can allow players to set traps as well as protect themselves. The system should be simple like that of minecraft or Dayz. In a multiplayer game the gamer does not have time to use a deep system when around the corner could be a homing or acid Bim.

downloads (1).jpg
which Bim would you choose ?

The games objective should be the same as the manga’s. What this means for the player is that if they can collect 7 gems they can call in a chopper to get them off the island scoring them one point towards an upgrade or character customization items. IF they work as a team and acquire 14 or more they would reap better rewards. A player can also solo play it and kill everyone if he can and take all the bim for himself earning him more rewards along a certain tree. I think all the rewards should be on trees that reward players depending on play style. So a team oriented player would get different rewards from the solo act and so on.

I already described a few of the games mechanics I have in mind above so I’ll focus on just a few others I think would help make a proper adaptation of the manga. Swimming is one I think the game should have. It will allow the player to use the water to stalk other players or use it as a way to escape an attack like an acid Bim attack. In the manga the company does these drop offs of supplies via parachute but the quantity is always limited.

This forces the inhabitants of the island to fight for these supplies if they want to survive. In the game it can be similar to call of duty drops but they will be random and dropped in unoccupied locations on the map near players. This I believe will result in the players playing in a similar way as the characters in the manga do. Some may get to the drop first and leave it in the open as a trap to kill other players, while others may take out anyone that they meet as they approach it then take it for themselves. The outcomes are numerous and I’ll be interested in seeing how the players play the game (if it were really made).

So far I have described an online multiplayer style game and ignored a solo experience due to the fact that a game like this would benefit more from multiplayer and less from a solo experience. As someone that prefers a solo experience I more so than most would enjoy an experience I can enjoy by myself without the competitiveness of other players spoiling my story experience. If the game I have in mind were to have what my kind prefer then it would have to be a fully customizable character dropped into the world of the manga.

He/ She would have a plot line chosen by the player e.g. (A thirteen year old bully from a broken home that beats up and robs his fellow students). With a fully fleshed out back story the character is put into the plot of the manga along with the past and current characters. The player is now allowed to explore the island and choose how he wishes to tackle his/ her survival. They can choose to partner with other characters from the manga or kill them. The game play I invasion as a Dayz meets Farcry 3 type of game play or even one like fallout 3.

This is my proposal for a Btooom! The Game. What is yours?

‘The Gaming Goddess’ Podcast – Season 5, Ep. 3: “Neko’s Arpegi”

‘The Gaming Goddess’ Podcast – Season 5, Ep. 3: “Neko’s Arpegi”.