NekoJonez’s February 2017 update

2012-06-08-11-25-36So, this week I have some updates to share. At the time of writing, I have a serious cold. So, that means that this update article will be a bit shorter as usual. In any case, I have a few updates and thoughts to share with you guys. Oh, and I want to thank Sparta for being such a great companion during me being sick. Ah, the joy of pets. But, I’m rambling. So, let’s talk about the updates for this first update article of 2017. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion in the comment section down below!

Out-Of-Town

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So, if you follow me on Twitter… you might know I have a schedule planned for this blog until April – May. So far, I haven’t changed a thing. Until this week, because some things will change my whole schedule.

This is because I have been sick the past few days and I want to talk about a game that wasn’t on my schedule.

I have said this on my Twitter, I will be out-of-town next weekend. So, I might not be able to write an article next weekend. But I’m considering two things. First thing is that I try to finish an article in the week before I go out-of-town or I write an article on my day off, the 6th of March. Oh, and if I write an article on the 6th… Don’t worry, I’ll still write an article on the 11th or 12th of March. For those who wonder, I’ll be on a trip with my acting group. I’m actually looking forward to it!

Also, in March, I’ll write another preview article about a game that hasn’t come out yet. I took a look at the trailer and the press kit and I’m really happy that the developer contacted me! But, you will have to wait until March to find out what it’s about.

The Nintendo Switch

switch.jpgI might be a pretty big Nintendo-fan, but I haven’t pre-ordered the Nintendo Switch. And that’s because one reason. That’s the price. Honestly, I can’t fit it in my budget currently.

And a second reason is that no game I’m interested in is currently coming out exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

Does this mean that I will never buy a Nintendo Switch, heck no! I’m really interested in the console. I think I’m mostly waiting until they release something interesting or how the release goes. I just hope for Nintendo that this release goes well. Since the project has so much potential in my eyes.

What will 2017 bring?

So, what will 2017 also bring? Well, I promised that I’ll write an article about various games I want to talk about but I haven’t talked about yet for some reason. So, here is a list of games that are in my mind and I think about writing about in 2017.

Mini Metro (Android), Fairune 1 & 2 (3DS – eShop), The Legend Of Zelda – A Link To The Past (SNES), Bioshock 2 (PC), Ace Attorney (DS – The ones I haven’t reviewed), Lufia (SNES), God Of Thunder (PC), Lego City Undercover (Wii U), Tomb Raider II (PC) and various others I won’t reveal yet.

I have also a few “gamer’s thoughts” articles in the works that are done with the research phase. I’m not going to reveal the subjects, but I have toyed with them in my mind for some time now.

Misc. updates

So, what is keeping me busy outside my full-time job and my blog? Well, let me tell you. First of all, I still have to do 5 classes before I have my degree in computer science. If all goes well, I’ll finish 2 of them this semester!

In late April, I’ll be on stage again. It’s quite possible that I take a break in the 2nd half of April. But, I’ll update you guys and girls on Twitter if I won’t be able to write an article. Otherwise, I’ll write an article in those weeks.

I’ll be playing one of the lead roles in a play. I’m quite excited for that. It’s my 4th time in a play and I can’t wait honestly. The rehearsals are so much fun.

So, I said this on Twitter… but I want to say it here as well. Because various articles of mine get shared so often, I think it’s only fair that I share more often what I read. So, when I come across an interesting article, you’ll see it on my Twitter feed! Another reason to follow me on Twitter.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say this week. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I’m sorry if this is at the short side. I’m still a bit sick, so I can’t focus long enough to write a full length article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

2015: A Look Back

ano-2015-3294.jpgWell, 2015 is nearly at an end. As usual, everybody is doing (or preparing) their best games of 2015 lists. And I think I should join in the party. What games have I played and/or finished in 2015 and will stay with me? Let’s find out. Let’s look back to my gaming year of 2015. This list isn’t in an order, so all these games are my favorites in 2015. Keep in mind that this are MY favorite games. This isn’t a TOP 10 most popular or anything. Oh, yeah… Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your favorite games or your opinion on my picks. 

Note: For this list, games didn’t had to be released in 2015. I had to play them in 2015 in order for them to count.

Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS)

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Official site

Not that far from my birthday, one of my favorite 3D Zelda games got its remake released. As a kid, I loved the rings that turned you into monsters in the Oracle games. I wished you could attack other monsters using that monsters power… but alas, that wasn’t possible in the gameboy color games.

A friend of mine had a copy on his N64. I didn’t own a console until mid-way the Wii’s life. Yeah, I played handheld games and various PC games when I was a kid. But hey, that didn’t stop me from marveling at the games on consoles.

A few weeks before this game released on the 3DS, I actually bought it on the Nintendo eShop for my Wii. But then I got my hands on the 3DS remake. It’s so beautiful. Finally I can play this game without fearing that I need to give it back to a friend later. I finally own it. And I also own the special collector’s edition which makes this Zelda fan ever more happy.

It’s a small shame to admit, but I haven’t finished this game. It’s on my “TO DO” list, but I have the same issue I had on the DS. There are just too many good games coming out and I get so easily distracted.

Europa Universalis IV (PC)

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_edited Link to my article

I always thought that these kind of games weren’t my style. I’m not that good at managing big countries and fighting wars with other countries.

But after a good friend of mine helped me and learned me the ropes of this game, I have been playing this game from time to time and spent nearly 300 hours on it.

It’s challenging and it actually broadened my horizons. This game is actually a lot of fun and the soundtrack of this game is even one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year.

Now, I need to try and play this game on single player without Mizari’s help. Then I just might loose myself in this game even more. But that’s for next year, I think.

The Etrian Odyssey series

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Link to an article about an other game in this series.

Man, I have tried to get into this series a couple of times in the past but when I was able to pick up a copy of one of the games for cheap at a garage sale, I was hooked.

The gameplay is what hooks me the most. It’s a RPG with a very nice story where you explore a dungeon. The best mechanic of it all is that you have to draw your own maps. Also, there aren’t any random encounters. Since you can somewhat predict when you get attacked.

Lately, I have been playing two games in the series. I recently got myself a copy of Etrian Mystery Dungeon. The reason for that is, I enjoy the formula of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon that much, I wanted to play a game to took a different approach on the formula.

Now, I play these games off and on. But not on the train anymore. Since I can get very lost into the world and the game that I once almost missed my stop. I should finish one of these titles so I can actually review them. But they are very lengthy. So, yeah. I haven’t come close to beating one.

The Legend Of Zelda – Triforce Heroes (3DS)

407451_nds_b.pngOfficial website

This game recently got a free update to expand this game even more. But I’m running ahead of myself.

This game actually proves that you can have a multiplayer Zelda game and enjoy yourself quite a lot.

This game doesn’t take itself quite seriously. The story is in my opinion laugh-worthy, but in the good sense. The story is there just to explain one of the main mechanics of this game. Since this is a spin-off Zelda game, I’m rather glad that the big N didn’t make a story that tried too hard.

While this game has its problems, it’s a quite enjoyable game. The game is challenging (and cruel in some places) and actually feels like a “real” Zelda game (minus the overworld) to me. The update promises to always link you up with players that have a similar playstyle. If that works, one of my biggest complaints with this game would be fixed. I’m still playing around with the updated game. So, when I have beaten the game, I will write a review on my blog. So, stay tuned for that!

Honorable mentions

I don’t want to make this article too long, so I list a few games that I enjoyed this year and don’t want to leave out.

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U), Fantasy Life (3DS), Golden Sun Dark Dawn (DS), Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC), BoomBlox (Wii), Tomb Raider IV (PC), Typoman (Wii U), NES Remix (Wii U / 3DS), The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Wii U), Terriara (PC)

And there are a lot of other games I’m leaving out.

Wrapping up

The reason I didn’t write a top 10 this year is because I didn’t want to make a the harsh decisions of which games to place where. I play and enjoy games as a hobby. But this year, I played so many games I honestly lost track of it all.

That’s why my overview of this year is quite different. Because I forgot what games I played. I had to look in my logs which games I forgot. In any case, I have been working on some fun articles for next year.

Also, I build a very strong gaming computer. So, I replayed a lot of games just to see them in higher quality and enjoy them even more.

2015 was a fun year for me to blog. I have been doing this for over five years and I look forward what my 6th year of blogging will bring, next year.

2016 will be an amazing year for games. There are a ton of games I’m looking forward to. Both on PC, Wii U and the 3DS. Yeah, I play mostly on those systems. But I’m planning to write articles about consoles games as well. In any case, I hope you enjoyed my articles this year. Thank you to all my readers and the feedback I got. I really helped me grow. But prepare yourself for a year full of new articles about old and new games since I don’t feel like stopping anytime soon.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I also hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great holiday season and take care~

Follow-up: Blog changes of 2015

Read this article first before reading this one! So, I got extremely busy and I forgot about a few ideas I had. Thankfully, my good friend and co-blogger actually reminded me about it. Also, if you are following me on Twitter, you might have already seen me teasing the hell out of something. 

Blog changes

So, my blog is going to stay what it is. My opinion on games. Yet, now Mr. Liammills is going to be a part of it. So, that’s why I changed the title. I might change it to Arpegi Gaming Blog, to name it after my group. MrLiamMills is part of that group and this would cover my ass if somebody else would write for this blog.

Also, I decided to take a leave from ButtonSmashers. Don’t read this wrong, we didn’t have arguments or anything of that nature. Recently, ButtonSmashers went through some major changes. And most of them didn’t click with my personality and style of organizing things. I stopped blogging on that blog, since I felt uncomfortable with how they organize things. I am not saying they organize their things all wrong, heck no! I’m saying that it doesn’t work with me. Yet, we stay friends and we might collab in the future.

I had a new series in mind for this blog, but I decided to sort of cancel it. The reason is because I have so many other projects and things I want to focus on, I just wouldn’t be able to start writing a new series. I have so many series already, I think I’m fine.

So, like MrLiamMills said, this blog is going to be for our gaming lives only. I think there will be a high chance that we still put our main focus in this blog. Yet, there have been times MrLiamMills and I wanted to write about other things. To avoid disappointing gamers who read this blog and to keep the subject and theme of this blog the same… We decided to have another blog. The name hasn’t been decided on yet. But on this blog, we will talk about news, music, video, movies and more. I have a project in mind for it already.

Announcing: MALWARE & SUCH content

Okay, if you haven’t figured it out by seeing what I tweet and such yet… I recently got extremely interested in malware and security. I wanted to write blogs about that as well, and I planned a few things in advance. When I tried to write the articles, it never felt right.

But now that MrLiamMills announced we are having a 2nd blog, it’s my time to announce what I’m planning to mostly write on said blog. My main focus will be looking at malware, how they infect your pc, security tricks, how to be safe on the web, how to improve your pc performance and such. I might write the odd movie, music or entertainment article.

Anyways, I think I’m going to close off this announcement article here. Keep in mind that there are still some things that need to be worked out before this will really take off. We are both extremely busy. I can’t talk for MrLiamMills, but for myself, I got a new job and I’m getting used to the new rhythm. There is a lot of personal stuff coming together in a short moment, so yeah.

Oh, before I forget, I will be out of town next weekend. I will be at MineCon.

Thank you for reading and I hope you are excited with our new way of… well… how we are going to publish content. In short: one new blog where we post non-gaming content. And the title and tagline of this blog changes so MrLiamMills doesn’t need to feel restricted ;). Take care guys and girls (and others beings) and until the next entry.

Eighth Gen Talk – Thoughts So Far

A year and a half ago, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released, and with E3 on our doorstep, it is perhaps a good idea to look at what the eighth console generation has brought to the table thus far. Has it succeeded or did my reservations prove to be true?

From an economic standpoint, it is an obvious success. This generation of consoles is the fastest growing of all. Demand for both consoles was high from day one and sales have vastly surpassed both manufacturers’ expectations. As of this writing, and the most current data available, Sony announced having sold 20.2 million units early March, but Microsoft’s figures aren’t as comprehensive. Sources vary, but it’s somewhere between 10 and 12 million. Sony’s platform is in a clear lead and it makes some sense. From the beginning, the PlayStation was the cheapest console, as back then the Xbox shipped with Kinect. Microsoft also had many policies people did not agree with; always having to be connected to the internet, not being able to lend games to friends, and so on. Sony happily attacked these policies and it worked. For a while at least, because luckily, Microsoft has been smart enough to make significant changes, including selling the Xbox without the Kinect as mandatory. Sony’s platform also appears to be the most powerful, at least on paper.

But is it enough? Two years ago both consoles were announced, in great detail, and their architecture is remarkably similar. This is where things get a bit technical. Both SKU’s use AMD hardware, for both CPU’s and GPU’s, and feature an eight-core CPU clocked at 1.6GHz, similar GPU’s clocked at 800MHz and 8GB of RAM. There were some differences, though, with Sony’s platform seemingly standing out. First and foremost, the 8GB of memory in the Xbox is DDR3, significantly slower to the PS4’s 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The Xbox does have 32MB of ultra-fast ES-RAM working in tandem with the other 8GB, hoping to close the performance gap. The PS4, though, has an additional 256MB of DDR3 memory and a second small, low-power CPU for background tasks. Later, Microsoft announced it would increase the performance of their consoles by increasing the clock speed of the CPU from 1.6GHz to 1.75GHZ, while also increasing the GPU speed from 800MHz to 853MHz. This closed the gap even further, but Sony’s platform still stands out. The GPU is inherently faster, with 18 compute units compared to the Xbox’s 12, and is coupled to faster memory. As it stands now, Sony’s GPU outperforms Microsoft’s at 1.84 TFLOPS to 1.31.

That brings me to my reservations. These figures are impressive when compared to the seventh generation, but don’t wow me. These consoles felt outdated before they were even launched. It is certainly true that the architecture of a console should not directly be compared to a PC. Developers can code games for a closed system, therefore using the components to their fullest potential, while also being able to optimise the code for that one specific system. To get a similar graphical fidelity and performance on a PC, we should compare it to a computer with a third to half the performance increase. At first I thought the relatively low performance figures wouldn’t be such an issue, since – as I said – this is dedicated hardware. It’s also very close to PC hardware, making coding even easier and thus allowing developers to optimise their games even more. But eighteen months after launch, I am worried this generation will not turn out as great as the one we just left behind us.

Launch games never really impress us, that much is true, but we have passed the launch window a while ago and there’s not much out there that makes me hungry for this generation. There’s Microsoft’s Sunset Overdrive, a game that knows it’s a game and runs with it. It’s silly, bright, colourful and fun. Very much unlike the gritty, brown and gray “realistic” games we mostly get. There’s also Sony’s Bloodborne. True, it’s Dark Souls/Demon’s Souls in a new skin, but it’s a good game nonetheless. Both games are not really my personal taste, but I can acknowledge them as good games. This console generation has already seen a multitude of games being re-released. It made more sense in the previous generation, where we saw a plethora of HD-remakes. There at least, the games came from the SD-era. There’s GTA V, Borderlands, The Last of Us, Diablo 3, DmC, Tomb Raider, the horrendously plagued Master Chief Collection and many more. It’s also not stopping, with games like Devil May Cry 4, God of War 3 and Final Fantasy X/X-2 remakes coming along shortly. And let’s not forget that the majority of games that have been released until now, have been sequels, prequels or some form of re-imagining of previously existing material. Are you enjoying your “new” games so far?

When the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were released, both consoles were claimed to be capable of playing 1080p games. In actuality, those platforms were more like 720p consoles. There are some games that run at 1080p, but most of them are smaller titles. A lot of games – even console exclusives – ran at an even lower resolution than 720p. Halo 3 is one, at 1152×640. The very popular Call of Duty series often ran at an even lower 1024×600. Again, with this generation, 1080p gaming is promised and already not being delivered. Lots of games run at lower resolution settings, often 1600×900. This is also where we see the disadvantages of Microsoft’s platform, with games running at a lower resolution than their Sony counterpart. Battlefield 4 runs at 900p as compared to Sony’s 1080p and Call of Duty: Ghosts produced a meagre 720p, though this was later changed in a patch. Even the Xbox exclusive Titanfall runs at the odd resolution of 1408×792, on an engine that is essentially a modified version of Valve’s Source engine; a very stable, scalable and reliable engine. Still, the console struggles at maintaining its targeted 60 frames per second.

0Let’s take Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel as another example. This game is yet another title that was first released on previous generation consoles and is now released again on the current one. Looking at the PC system requirements of this game shows us this is not a very intensive game. Minimum requirements are a low-powered Dual Core CPU, with recommended settings asking for a low-powered Quad Core CPU and medium-range graphics cards that were released four(!) years ago. It makes sense that this game doesn’t require a €1000 gaming rig, since it’s built on a modified Unreal Engine. This is – like the Source Engine – a well established, stable engine. And yet, these brand new consoles that are supposedly so powerful struggle with this game. Performance dwindles around 45 FPS in areas where you need it most: during combat. This also brings with it a great deal of screen tearing. While not a bad result per se, not a result we should expect from these consoles.

Obviously, I am also aware many people can’t afford high-end PC’s or prefer to play on consoles. It is especially for them that I am worried, since they can’t find a better experience of multi-platform games elsewhere. They have to play them on closed systems. They can’t lower graphical settings, or enable or disable V-sync, to change the look or performance of the game. I can choose to go for the PC version. Of course developers get more comfortable with consoles and manage to squeeze out more as time goes on. Look back at Naughty Dog’s games and look at the difference in quality between the first Uncharted and The Last of Us, running on the same, but tweaked engine. Or even Uncharted and its sequel, the release of which was only two years in between. It’s a world of difference, but if consoles already seem to struggle with games across the board, whether it’s performance wise, visually, or – in case of games Assassin’s Creed: Unity – both, what’s next?

All of this doesn’t seem to bode well for these consoles. Initially, I had reservations on the technology being used, but I imagined with this being dedicated, and from PC originating hardware, the theoretical shortcomings would be proven wrong in reality. However, after eighteen months, I’m not convinced (yet). Graphics are good, but not impressive. Especially when compared to the jump in quality from previous consoles to their next generation. Think back to the difference from PS1 to PS2, or PS2 to PS3.

Shiny graphics are nice, but what we need, Image result for no man's skyand really need, is innovation in gameplay. Not yet another cover-based, gritty, third person shooter. Not innovation in quality of visuals, but innovation in mechanics. One game I do keep my eye on, is No Man’s Sky; ambitious and innovative. I surely hope it lives up to its claims, as that might – at last – convince me to buy a current generation console. We need innovation in things like physics and AI; larger, more varied worlds full of life and little details that make it all feel rich in atmosphere. Frankly, I am bored with the triple-a games as of late. I sorely hope I am mistaken and things turn around for the better, but looking at the release schedule for the coming months (or even years), I’m afraid I may be right.

To close this article, I’d like to add a little something. I am a big fan of RedLetterMedia and their gaming part: Previously Recorded. Rather than stealing what they have to say about games, I want to link to their YouTube channel. Particularly to their reviews. The ones that I think lie closest to what I agree with are the reviews on The Order 1886, Alien: Isolation, Bloodborne and their video called “Why Mario is more Immersive than Call of Duty“.

EDIT: I wrote a follow-up article here.

First Impression: Prey (PC) ~ Pew Pew – Indian Style.

Prey_(Xbox_360)Wikipedia entry

Usually, I rarely play shooter games. There are the odd exceptions like TimeShift and Prey. I have never talked about this game haven’t I? That’s simply because I actually started playing it just recently. I got my copy when a friend of mine got this for his birthday but he doesn’t like to play shooters. Since he knew I collected games and played a lot of them, he gave it to me. I think I own this game for over 5-6 years now and I never played it. I’m quite surprised I didn’t, since yeah. It’s worthy to get an article! Anyways, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my article and or the game in the comment section. 

Pew Pew – Indian style

prey2

So, why did I choose for the title “Pew Pew – Indian Style”? Since this game is at it’s core a shooter. The game also borrows some elements from horror since at certain moments it keeps you at the edge of your seat. But believe me, while there are some moments that hint at horror, it is no horror game.

That explains the first of the title, but not the second. It’s simply that this game also has an Indian theme. While there is in America a game called Police and Robber, back in the day I used to play Cowboy and Indian…. You guys too? Anyways, that’s why it’s so crazy to me that a shooting Indian is the main character in this game.

As the standpoint of a writer, the story is actually pretty neat. It’s a story of somebody who doesn’t want to accept his family roots and he wants to save his girlfriend after being kidnapped by aliens. There are some flaws in the consistency actually. Suddenly you can see the translation of the alien writing and the can suddenly speak English. Maybe this gets explained but I was rather confused when it happened. Oh, let’s not forget how our hero is able to suddenly fire alien weapons, quite strange.

But the story isn’t perfect. I feel that some characters aren’t used at their full potential. Also, there is barely any development in the characters as far as I have seen. And I have played I until somewhere in the middle of the game. I have just beaten a boss.

Alien scum

11396062341So, let’s look at the other things in this game apart from the characters. The setting of this game is an alien ship. I’m so pleased that they didn’t went for a stereo-typical design.

The creatures all look alien, a bit scary and out of this world. Sadly, they look humanoid. This is something that I don’t really like, since then my mind wonders off sometimes that it are mutated humans, like in Half-Life. Oh well, the curse of my creative mind I guess.

 The weapons are actually quite fun to use. While it’s not clear if some weapons do more damage then others, I just enjoy using them. The fact that they made such animated guns is just amazing.

The level design is extremely linear. You go from point A to B. But the game is challenging. Some obstacles come back and can catch you off guard quite easily. This game is one of the few games where I see that weaker enemies from earlier levels come back. This gave me the feeling that the ship was somewhat alive and that you were at an actually alien ship. The atmosphere can be easily broken if the enemies only get stronger and stronger. The game gets more difficult, but doesn’t only rely on new strong enemies, they get more crafty with them.

The gameplay is just one of a kind. There are quite a few games where you are able to change into someone to solve puzzles, but the take Prey took is quite unique. You can actually leave your body to attack enemies unseen. Also, barriers won’t stop you and you can’t die while in spirit mode.

I haven’t seen the game over screen yet, since if you are quick and you can shoot moving targets quite well, it’s impossible to die. Does this take the challenge away? Not really, it makes the game more accessible to non-veteran shooter players as myself.

Just wow

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So, the game controls quite nicely. If you press the button, the happens on screen. Something that amazed me is that this game still recognizes the additional buttons on my gaming mouse. For a game this old, I wouldn’t have imagined it would work.

Also, in some parts you can walk on walls and such. The camera follows you excellent. Also, the voice acting in this segments is just excellent, it’s just how you would react yourself. One minor nitpick is that the voice for the grandfather sounds a bit too young to me. But that might be just me.

Through-out the game, you can play mini-games. When there is a slot machine in a bar, you can actually stop your adventure and play a round. That’s some attention to detail there.

Oh, I’m almost running out of time. The final thing I wanted to talk about is the music. It sets the mood so nicely. The orchestrated music makes me tense and on my toes. You would expect from horror games a more slow, creepy soundtrack. The soundtrack for this game is anything but. It gives a Two Steps From Hell-vibe. It’s quite nice.

In any case, I think I’m going to close off this article right here. I haven’t said everything I wanted about this game but I think these things are better said in the review. You may be sure that I will write a review of this game when I have beaten it. I’m enjoying this game quite a lot. I only wish they didn’t cancel the sequel. I just cross my fingers that they return one day to make a new game in the series.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a great rest of your day and hopefully until your next visit!