Tag Archives: nice

First Impression: GameR-Mate Stik (Hardware) ~ Take Your Ubuntu Everywhere.

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Official website

Today I want to talk about something that has been in the works for quite a while. Last year, the folks over at BlackRangerSoftware sent me an mail promoting their newest product called the GameR-Mate Stik v1.0.0. I was going to write an article about it back then, but the devs created an updated version right after I sent them my feedback. On top of that, the COVID-19 outbreak and shipping something from the USA to Europe delayed this article until now. Now, with that said, I think it’s high time to talk about this product. Know that the developer asked for my 100% honest opinion and that’s what you are going to read in this article. Now, let’s take a look at the first physical product I’m going to review on my blog. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on the product and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

What is GameR-Mate?

So, image this. An USB stick that you can plug into any computer that can run USB3.0 sticks and with that, you can play your games without affecting the computer itself. That’s GameR-Mate. The technical term for it is a Live-USB.

The latest version I received is running a modified version of Ubuntu 16.08. Now, what is Ubuntu? Let me tell you. So, to be able to run your computer, you need an operating system. An operating system is a sort of “translator”. It translates instructions from software to actual machine code. For example, when you make a new folder, the operating system gets that information from Windows or OSX and tells the hard drive: “Hey, make me a new folder on that location”. An operating system is much more than that, but for keeping this article simple, let’s not dive too much deeper into the inner working of computers.  

Now, the two biggest operating systems on the market are: Windows from Microsoft and OSX from Apple. Of course, you have Android from Google and iOS from Apple for smartphones. Let’s not forget ChromeOS for Chromebooks. And there is a special one as well. It’s called Linux.

Linux comes in a ton of flavors called “Distro’s”. Most of these distro’s are free to use and give you even more control of your computer than Windows and OSX. In the tech community, there are a lot of people who prefer using Linux to Windows or OSX. They enjoy the greater privacy control, ability to control every little thing about the system or just don’t want to pay for an operating system. There are many more reasons why people choose for Linux.

The userbase for Linux is rather small. According to NetMarketShare.com, the most used operating systems on the market are Windows (88,14%), Mac OSX (9,38%) and then Linux with (1,89%). Now, that’s mostly in the desktop and laptop space. Now, something quite “funny” happens when we look at the server side of things. Just take a look at datanyze.com with the comparisons between the usage of Windows Server and Ubuntu… Now, this is only just one website, but let me tell you from personal experience as an IT staff guy in a big school here in Belgium, we server techies prefer Linux distro’s for our servers in most cases over Windows server because it gives us more control over the system and is generally more lightweight so it uses less resources.

So, why am I putting so much effort into explaining Linux for this article? Especially in the section where I should be explaining what GameR-Mate actually is? Well, because Linux gives you the freedom to create very specific products without a lot of modifications. Just take a look at this list and you might be surprised on how much things run on Linux.

GameR-Mate is a special USB stick. So, you can boot to it and play your games and take it with you. The biggest limitation is that you need a “host” computer to be able to run it. So, if you don’t have a computer, you won’t be able to access your games. But that’s a limitation of each USB stick is it not?

What’s included?

Now, you can buy a GameR-Mate USB-stick right from Gamer-Mate.net. At the time of writing, the stick costs 70$ (discounted to 50$) which is give or take, 65 euro (45€ if it’s discounted). In order for you to be able to run your games, you need to have a computer that supports at least USB3.0. I have tested mine on older devices that don’t have an USB3.0 port and let me tell you, it wasn’t a fun time.

But, how do you know if your computer has USB3.0 ports? Well, in most cases these USB ports are blue. You can also double check that via the instructions in this article. So, after you placed your order, you get your GameR-Mate stick.

My stick arrived in a protective envelope that had the stick in a plastic bag stapled to a quick start guide. This quick start guide helps you to boot your computer to an USB stick instead of the actual operating system of your computer. Besides that, you get an user guide with explanation and some great information to get started using the stick. You also get a thank you letter from the CEO for buying the product. And finally you get a welcome letter as well.

I did get something additional, but that’s because I got a beta version of the product so I get some forms to fill in to give feedback on the product to create a better product. Personally, I think that they should include this with every purchase, even when the beta phase is over, you never know when it can come in handy.

The USB stick itself is made out of metal and plastic. It feels quite sturdy but you can remove the metal a bit too easily from the housing. Also, if you ever created USB sticks with your own print on them, you will recognize them right away. Maybe it’s a thing here in Belgium, but I got the same design of USB from various other places at events. I have the same model in yellow, green, blue and red. But, that’s nitpicking.

Something I missed with the USB-stick is a better way to store it. Now, I added an additional metal ring so I can attach it to a lanyard. I find that a bit more secure since during the research and testing I was doing for this article, my cat Troy knocked the USB stick underneath my desk while he was sleeping on my desk. Thanks to the lanyard, I was able to get it back from underneath my desk more easily. Now, adding a lanyard to the shipment might be too big of a cost, but adding a small metal ring to add it to your own lanyard would be lovely.

The experience

Depending on the hardware you run the stick on, the better performance you are going to get. Keep in mind that you need at least a port that can run USB3 sticks. In order to test this stick out, I tested this stick on my main machine. My main computer is running an i7-4820K, 16GB of DDR3 RAM at 666MHz and an MSI GTX 1050Ti. My motherboard is an ASROCK X79 Extreme 6. While this isn’t the strongest of systems out there, my computer is strong enough to run all the games I want to play at 30-60FPS at medium to high settings.

When you boot the stick, you can select various different modes. From what I can understand is that you can choose between loading it from the USB or load the system into RAM. There is also a recovery mode included. I had to use that once since an update failed to install and that corrupted my whole OS.

In the user guide, you get the advice to make frequent backups. If I had made a backup, I would have saved my first testing version from death. But yeah, I’m to blame since I thought I would be able to fix it since I used Linux various times during my studies and at work. But when you can even boot the OS, let alone go in recovery mode… Well, then you are quite screwed.

In a future article, I’ll take a look at the games that are included in this package. The list of pre-installed software is quite expansive. You can find the list at BlackRangerSoftware’s blog. Important footnote with this list, since this list is created during the development of the stick, it might be that some games aren’t included on the stick and/or on the list. But, I’m quite certain that the amount of games won’t change. Games that I could recommend are:

0AD, which is an open source RTS game like Age Of Empires

Alex 4, a lovely retro platformer in the style of an old Gameboy game.

B.A.L.L.Z, a platformer game where you are a ball and you need to use the bounce mechanics to your advantage.

Frogatto, this adventure platformer reminds me a lot of games like Shantae.

Sadly enough, there are some repeats. A lot of repeats actually. There are various Tetris-style, Pac-Man-style, Breakout-style… games. This gave me mixed feelings. At once hand, I love the choice I’m getting between all these various games. But at the other hand, I got the feeling that all of those games were just added to have a higher number of games to try and sell more sticks.

Is this GameR-Mate fun to use? If I have to answer that question, I’m going to have to add a disclaimer. There is going to be a learning curve if you have never worked with Linux. If you are used to Windows 10, there are a lot of things you will miss that you took for granted on your Windows machine. For example: seeing the password you are typing in, loading animations while settings are changing, double clicking a window to make it full screen, a place where all settings are combined into one place, a notification center…. It’s just not there in the Linux distro on the USB-stick. Now, do keep in mind that this can be updated and added in a future version of the stick.

But, you still have to learn a completely new operating system. While Linux has a lot of tutorials, due to the huge amount of different distro’s and differences between them, it can be quite overwhelming. So, give yourself some time and keep in mind that the system might work quite different compared to your Windows machine. Now, I do think that Apple users will have a better time adjusting to Linux since in a way, the user interface of Apple systems and Linux systems have various things in common. (Sidenote: while they have things in common, Apple OSX isn’t Linux and Linux isn’t OSX. But the flow in the OS can be similar.)

When you give this USB stick a chance, I think it might have the same effect on you then it has on me. I love to play around with unique ways to play games. I don’t mind honestly if the game is a retro or a current game. As long as I’m having fun while playing my games, it’s all that matters to me. So, I personally recommend this stick to people who love playing a ton of different games and/or people who travel a lot and aren’t able to take their main gaming rig with them. I think that the asking price is well worth it for the amount of value you are getting. Plus, you can always install more games from the various store fronts.

With that, I think I’m going to wrap up this first article on the GameR-Mate Stik. I want to thank BlackRangerSoftware for being so patient with me and also for giving me the opportunity to test out this product. I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article and I wish you a great rest of your day and take care!

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Game Quicky: Island Maze (Switch) ~ Each Island Is A Maze

SQ_NSwitchDS_IslandMaze.jpgOfficial Nintendo micrositeDrageus microsite

From time to time, I enjoy trying out cheap games. Especially when I have some budget leftover and I see a game that looks interesting. That’s why I agreed to write a small review article on Island Maze for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a game Drageus Games developed themselves instead of porting the game over. So, let’s take a look at this game with the review copy that the developers provided. Now, in this review, you will find my 100% honest opinion on the game but feel free to leave your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article down below.

Positives

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This game is quite easy to grasp and has an enjoyable concept. The idea is that you get to the goal in the least amount of moves possible. The catch is that you can’t move over a colored tile without the correct gem. So, you have to think about how your dice is going to move over the field before moving.

Now, the game might seem to limit in the controls department, but you have a lot of helpful tools at your disposal. You can rotate the camera, zoom in and out and even undo moves. You can also reserve the camera’s direction when it doesn’t feel right to you to control.

This game allows you to skip levels. Whenever you are stuck on a certain level, you don’t need to play that level. When you complete 10 levels with the least amount of moves, you unlock every level.

The music is quite relaxing. It fits the atmosphere of the game amazingly well. Together with the amazing visuals, the game looks and sounds amazing. Maybe a bit more sound effects would be nice but then again, I think I would get sick of the dice rolling sound effect extremely quickly. Maybe one or two sound effects in the menus would be nice.

Negatives

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There are a few glaring issues in this game that I want to address.

The first issue is that the undo button only works for one move. So, if you noticed a mistake that you made ten moves ago, you better restart.

Secondly, there is no hint system. So, when you are stuck on a level, there is no way for you to know more. So, if you don’t understand a new mechanic right away… You will have to experiment.

For some reason, the “-” button brings up the controller connect menu of the Nintendo Switch. This serves no purpose in the game at all.

The naming of this game is a bad decision. If you Google: “Island Maze”, the results are mostly the island mazes from Breath of the Wild. If this game was a simple hobby project, I wouldn’t mind it too much. But, I think that in future the developers should pay a bit more attention to the naming in case they want to promote their game online more easily.

This game has been out for a year on Steam. Compared to the Steam version, which is a tad bit cheaper mind you, nothing has been changed. I think that after a year, the game could use some new levels and mechanics to give the game a bit more depth.

Final Thoughts – Conclusion

is_s1This is a good game, but it’s on the wrong platform. The audience for the Nintendo Switch isn’t an audience for quick and short casual games like this game. I think that the game would be better suited for mobile platforms. I felt that touch controls would work better for this game. Honestly, the game gave me that sort of vibe.

Apart from the broken undo system, I don’t see anything wrong with the game. This game is a cheap and enjoyable puzzler that can be entertaining for a rainy afternoon or when you are waiting for the doctor or when you are traveling on the bus or something of that nature.

I’m just a bit sad to see that this game is so short while the concept has a lot of promise. I enjoyed my time with this game but I wouldn’t blame people when they get bored with this game or skip it.

And that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. 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 but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 3/5

NekoJonez: My Favorite Game Music #3: Blasting.

GameMusic_InArticleLet’s blast speakers again. Well, sort of. I felt like sharing some amazing game music with you guys again. I had to open my two previous articles on my 2nd screen to make sure I didn’t duplicate a song. But I think that once I have a few of these articles I might pay a bit less attention to that. I mean, with which witchcraft is someone able to make sure he didn’t duplicate an entry in a series. If you have a tip, be sure to leave it in the comments. Anyways, feel free to leave a comment on this article with your thoughts. What do you think of my selected music and what is your favorite game music? I look forward to reading them.

#1 – The Legend Of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki FC (PSP) – Battle Theme


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Ah, this game is my current addiction. This PSP title is such a gem of a game. I truly enjoy the story and idea behind it. This battle theme is pretty cheery, what you normally don’t expect from an RPG. Yet, I truly think it fits in the soundtrack.

The writing and art make the game feel lighthearted. And this track truly adds to that fact. Sometimes I left battles to go on just to keep listing to this track.

I admit, with some shame, I danced one this track in my room once or twice… Maybe three times. Not more than ten times, though.

Anyways, this game feels fresh to me and hearing that there will be a sequel on Steam is making me extremely pumped. As soon as I find an entry on Steam I’ll surely put it on my wishlist and buy the sequel. Yet, this game will only be released in 2014. So, we will have to wait.

#2: The Legend Of Zelda – Link’s Awakening (DX) (GB – GBC) – Ballad Of The Windfish


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Although this might be a short track, the rewarding feeling is why this track is so special. Imagine that you go in several dungeons collecting these instruments and hearing bad things left and right.

Trying to defeat the monsters that stop you in your path. It’s a huge task.

This game is also full of references to other Nintendo games. It’s a unique game and I’m curious what the DX version is going to give me. I bought it a while ago on the eShop and I’m ready to play it.

The clip might not be of excellent quality yet, I play the song quite nice. And the remixes of this song are really neat as well.

#3: Tomb Raider: Underworld (PC) – God Of Thunder

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Link

So, the DS version of this game had its flaws. And in general, this Tomb Raider game had its flaws. Yet, I enjoyed it an awful lot myself. I think that this is a great entry in the series.

I was bumped out that we couldn’t explore the mansion at all. But the story covers the reason why.

Anyways, this song has been stuck in my head whenever I replay the game. It’s a great tune. The tense feeling I get when playing the game and hearing this song is the perfect mood set.

The length is the only issue I have with the track. I wish it would have been a bit longer since after a short while of looping this track gets somewhat annoying to some people. At least not to me, I take this track as one of my favorite tracks in the whole series.

So, what’s next Jonezy?

#4: Tomb Raider (PC) – Suite One, Level Three

 

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Link

Call me cheaty with this one, but I won’t care. Two tracks from the same series on the last in one article. I honestly think it’s worth it.

Tomb Raider is an extremely tense game. And playing it with the amazing soundtrack this game has makes this game such a joy to play. It was also the game I reviewed to restart my career as a game reviewer.

This track makes me feel tense in a tense game. My heart got pumping and I was at the edge of my seat while playing this section of the game. I have to admit that I don’t exactly remember which part of the game this track played on. But it’s by far one of my favorite pieces in the whole soundtrack.

The orchestra that created this amazing piece of music really did amazing work and I’m hunting down a copy of the soundtrack album. If that even exists.

#5: Fragile Dreams (Wii) – A dedication to… everyone

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Link

This game is simply amazing. While the writing might be the weakest in the game. It isn’t bad by any means. I’m currently playing through the 3rd chapter of this game and the relaxing soundtrack is something that draws me in.

I really advise you guys to play this tale. I have discovered it through one of my favorite YouTubers. And the full soundtrack is something I have yet to comment on. And I won’t comment on it in this article since I haven’t fully played the game.

Yet, I sometimes let the title screen just play the music. It’s that great in my … ears, I guess.

I hope this game is a rather lengthy game. The idea behind it is simply amazing. I can’t wait to see in which directions this game is going to take me. While I do admit that the inventory system is kind of a pain. But find me one game that’s perfect.

Closing words

And with these 5 tracks, I think I’m going to end this article. I have a few great upcoming articles in mind but before I can write those I’ll have to finish some games and do some research. But like I said in my previous update blog, I’m quite busy with college work and various other side projects.

So, I hope you enjoyed the music and maybe you discovered a new game to play. Anyways, I have some work to do. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at a next time here!

Review #018: Fury Racing 3D Real Speed (Android) ~ Still In Alpha

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Google Store link

So, I got the honor of the developer actually mailing me to review his Android game. It made me speechless for some time. When I got home from college and when I had some free time, I tested this game for a few hours. Honestly, I don’t like racing games. Yet, for this special first request, I did an effort. While this game is it’s alpha stages, I had some troubles with it. Maybe my tablet wasn’t strong enough, but it ran extremely laggy and I had to use my Android emulator that I had laying around from the time I was still studying computer science. The app ran a bit more smooth on my gaming laptop. And it’s not the emulator’s or my laptop’s fault since it can run games like Alan Wake or Minecraft at 100+ FPS. The game also crashed various times on my tablet and it consumed memory like it was it’s only feature. My cleaning app suddenly said that 90%+ of my memory was in use. And I closed EVERYTHING. Besides that, there was a light issue. The game was dark. And still on my emulator it had some problems with it. Since I haven’t finished the game and since it’s an Android game, this article might be shorter then you’re used of me. Also, this is an exclusive article for my personal blog. No reblogging on BSB this time. Yet, I’ll write another article for BSB soon. Anyways, let me think what your thoughts are on the game and/or this review in the comments.

Issues

unnamed (1)Let’s dive right into the issues first. Honestly, for a game looking so impressive as this, the menu’s are just terrible. They are straight forward, yes, I give it that. But I can’t help at think that this game would benefit so much from a much more clean menu. It looks a bit cluttered. With an options bar to the side. And since the Android games their first impressions are the ones of the menu or the first few minutes, this game’ll loose a lot of it’s customers.

Also, maybe this is a bug, yet the first two tracks are unlocked from the first stage. If this is intentional, that’s a pity. Since smart players are going to play directly the 2nd track instead of the first. Since it wouldn’t unlock anything more.

Also, when you wait long enough, the music on the menu just dies. I had the game open on my 2nd screen and it just stopped when I started writing this paragraph.

Sadly enough, the menu isn’t the only biggest problem with this game. There is a problem that I often see returning, on the Android market, Reddit and various other locations. The controls aren’t smooth. Even when playing it on my tablet, the controls to move to the sides didn’t respond. I’m maybe guessing that this game doesn’t support multi-touch very well.

Bad impressions

unnamed (2)This game feels and looks like that it has extremely big potential. The graphics are extremely well done and the gameplay is interesting. Yet, the game needs a lot of work. An awful lot. At the state the game is at now, this game is a disaster. Full of great idea’s yet not worked out.

Another example of the issues are the fact that they talk about power-ups. Besides the speeding up one I haven’t seen any other one. And this is a big problem. This feels like false advertising. And I swear that my ship flew through various items without getting a bonus.

The timer is also lagged. It jumps. And it bugs the crap out of me. I feel that the timer in a racing game should be the first part that works flawlessy. And I checked if it wasn’t a problem of my emulator, my tablet does the same thing. Also, I truly advice the developer to move the health bar of the ship. Since when you speed up, you barely see it. And makes for much confusion.

The game has a low FPS. It wouldn’t surprise me that the graphics eat too much resources which doesn’t leave a lot left for other processes in the game.

In short, this game needs a lot of work. From more music tracks to a radar, those are features I feel this game would benefit a lot from.

And that’s all for this review, let’s go on to the conclusion!

Final verdict

The good:

+ It’s free.

+ It’s looks extremely nice for on Android.

+ No too annoying ads.

The bad:

– It’s released too early which makes the game lacking a lot of features.

– Extremely ugly menu.

– Low FPS.

– No pause menu.

– Bad controls.

Conclusion:

I want to thank the developer for giving me this chance. And I wish I could have given a more positive review for my first review request from a developer here. I think they are really courageous to ask reviewers like myself to ask to review their alpha product. It’s a move that more developers should do. 

Yet, this game feels extremely unfinished and that’s such a shame. It needs a lot of polishing work before it can be called a final game. I’m not going to score it since it’s an alpha version yet I might revisit this game after a year to see how it has grown.

Thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time!