It has been quite some time since I wrote about my favorite music tracks in video games. So far, I have written 23 articles in this series. Today I have a special spin-off article in this series. I was a guest on the “Untitled Game Music Podcast” by Alexander Sigsworth. Today it’s finally live and to give it some publicity since this series is amazing and I highly recommend that you all listen to it, this week’s article is simply going to be an embedded version of the podcast. Please enjoy and feel free to leave a comment here or on Alexander’s channel!
On my top 10 games list of 2018, I talked about Atelier Rorona. I talked about how this game got me interested in playing the Atelier series. Now, it’s time to give my full opinion on the game. Why did I place this game on my top ten list and why wasn’t it higher on the list? I think it’s time to talk about crafting and exploring. Adventuring and RPG’ing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.
Get off your lazy bum
The story of this game has a simple premise. You play as Rorona, a young girl who is an apprentice at a local alchemy shop in the Arland Kingdom. Her master Astrid is so lazy that business isn’t going well at all. As a matter of fact, she didn’t get off her lazy bum for so long, the kingdom is considering to close down the shop. Rorona doesn’t want this to happen so she takes on the challenges provided by the kingdom. She gets a deadline of three years. During these three years, she has to prove that she can run the alchemy shop and make a profit. If she fails one of these challenges, the shop will be closed without any further questions.
On the surface, the story of this game isn’t anything special. It’s one that has been done various times before. Yet, the story actually changes a lot in your actions. It depends on who you take with you on your journey, how good you craft your items, how you interact with the characters and how you run your alchemy shop. The one that lazy Astrid sort of gave to you because she wanted more sleep but didn’t want the shop to be closed.
This makes the story quite a lot of fun to play through. Because each and every playthrough is going to be different, you will have a different story. This game has various endings that all depend on how good you did during your missions provided by the kingdom. When I had beaten the game for the first time, I got a very generic ending that didn’t give the closure I felt that the story deserved. Because of that, I feel motivated to replay this game with so I can get an even better ending.
The writing of this game makes replaying this game even more enjoyable. While I was playing this game, I posted a short clip on my Twitter showing off the voice acting. The game has a lot of funny and charming moments. I actually fell in love with the characters of this game. Now, depending on how good you play this game, the characters you interact with getting more character development.
Now, during my playthrough, the story was quite enjoyable. While it didn’t have a lot of moments where I sat on the edge of my seat, it was quite relaxing. Maybe the other endings have more thrilling moments, but overall I enjoyed the story quite a lot. The writing, the pacing, and the voice acting make for an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see how the game plays out on my next playthrough.
With that said, how do you actually go about saving the shop? For that, Rorona needs to gather ingredients from various locations and craft various items. Depending on the quality of the items, you get better items. Now, I do have one thing I felt mixed about in terms of the gameplay.
Running that shop
While the story pacing is quite good, the pacing of the game is … let’s just say, strange. Because the game gives off a relaxing and casual vibe, the game can feel extremely slow. But this is very misleading. Because you have a strict time limit; you shouldn’t waste time at all. You have to play every move extremely carefully. The more mistakes you make, the worse your ending gets. The depth in this game is crazy. You do get an assistant at the middle point of the game. This mechanic saved me various times. You can assign this assistant to go and explore for you or craft items for you.
Be warned, the tutorials of this game only scratch the surface of the mechanics of this game. Something I recommend is that you use the save system to your advantage. I had various saves at various points. So, I can go back when I felt I was able to finish the missions with better results.
Talking about the save system, the fact that this game got ported from a PlayStation system really shows in the UI. If you have played a game on a PlayStation you will recognize the typical save and load UI easily. The only thing that annoys me is that I’m unable to name my saves. This would have helped quite a lot.
So, you have to explore, fight monster and craft items. This sounds like your typical RPG fare. You do have side quests that can help you to get a better relationship with a certain character. Some of these side quests have the potential to improve the reputation of the shop which also has a big influence on the ending of the story.
All in all, the biggest challenge of this game is time management. Use your time wisely and try to waste as few days as you can. I always tried to finish the assignment of the kingdom as fast as I could. When I finished that, I used the remaining days to explore new areas and improve my relationship with the other characters.
The gameplay immersed me quite a lot. I really felt like a shop owner trying to find the best strategy to get my shop up and running and to try to get as many customers as I can. While the game isn’t too difficult to get the most basic ending, the challenge for this game hides in trying to get the best endings.
A normal playthrough of this game will take you somewhere around 20 hours. But, if you want to see all the endings, you will get a lot more out of this game. On howlongtobeat.com, there are reports of players taking 60 to 100 hours to fully complete this game. Now, this is for the PlayStation 3 version. At the time of writing this review, the website has no listing for the Nintendo Switch version.
Now, the meat of this game is in exploration and crafting. First of all, let’s go a bit more in-depth about the exploration. During your exploration, you can take two allies with you. Certain allies require a certain price to hire. This price needs to be paid upfront. So, make sure you have enough gold in the bank to hire them.
During the exploration, you can go to various locations. Each location has several areas you can explore that provide different items. These items aren’t randomized, so if you find herbs in a certain area, you will be able to find those herbs every time there.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have an inventory limit. If you reach that limit, you have to throw out items. Also, you need to keep in mind that certain items can lose their freshness. For example, if you collect berries and don’t put them in your storage in the chest in the shop, the quality will drop.
During your exploration, you can see certain spots where items can be gathered. In the meantime, you see the enemies roaming around. When you interact with them, you can start a fight with them. The battles are turn-based. It’s the system you see in a million other RPG’s. But there are a few differences.
One difference is that only an alchemist can use items. So, only Rorona can use healing items during the battle. Another difference is that you can use certain characters to defend you and make combo attacks. In each battle, a meter builds up. When that meter is full, you can use the shoulder buttons to defend Rorona. A similar mechanic counts for the combo attacks.
One thing you need to keep in mind during the exploration is that moving between locations and areas takes valuable time. So, make sure you know which items you need and where you can find them and plan accordingly. Otherwise, you might get into trouble and you aren’t able to craft certain items.
In addition to that, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of MP. MP is also used to craft items. And this brings me on the second part of the gameplay I want to focus on, the crafting. This is something I didn’t always pay attention too. Each item can have certain properties that make a huge difference during crafting. Each item has also a quality level that changes the outcome quite a lot as well.
Something I found extremely tricky was looking for high-quality items. For some reason, I always found a mid tear or low tier quality items. I’m quite sure that this was one of the reasons that resulted in me having a mediocre ending. Now that I know that, I know what I should look for in a second playthrough.
Anyways, the crafting system itself is a bit basic. You can select various ingredients to craft an item. If you don’t have a certain sub ingredient that is craftable, you get forwarded to the crafting menu of that item. One thing that I found really annoying was that it wasn’t always clear which ingredients were missing. For example, the icon of the missing ingredient was a flame. But I had a few ores that looked extremely similar. Yet that wasn’t the ingredient I needed. It turns out I needed oil.
Something I really liked was that in the crafting list, you were able to sort ingredients in terms of quality or rarity. Also, you had various symbols that gave information if you were or weren’t able to craft a certain item. For example, a triangle means that you are able to craft the item but you have to craft a sub-item first.
One thing that I would like to mention is that this game can be repetitive. It’s quite easy to fall in a loop for every assignment or mission. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. And repeat. Each assignment has a different theme like preparing for a festival or helping to craft medicine.
I didn’t mind too much, but I feel that a bit more variation in the gameplay would do the game some good. For example, a bit more assignments where you needed to defeat a certain number of monsters or collect a certain amount of ingredients would do the trick.
Arland is saved
Let’s talk about the visuals. This game looks quite nice in my opinion. While the game could have benefited from a free camera, I actually didn’t mind too much since the camera allowed me to watch the nice city and fun dungeons in great detail. Some enemies suffer from the recolor syndrome, like the slime enemies. There are at least 3 variants and only the color has been changed. I wish those games added a few extra details. Oh well. At least I never had slowdowns during gameplay and I was able to play the game at a decent frame rate.
In terms of animation, this game is good. While the cut scenes would have benefited from some more character animation instead of gorgeous looking 2D artwork. Now, if the game came out in a previous generation, I would excuse this…. oh, wait… that’s right, this game is a port of a PS3 game. Then again, the PS3 is capable of so much more. Oh well.
Now, something that bugged me a bit is the rather awkward jumping animation. I think it’s missing a few frames near the end where Rorona’s feet almost snap into place. It also looks strange when you adjust your jump in midair. Since Rorona sort of floats awkwardly. It’s hard to put into words but while the jump works great, it feels off and looks a bit off.
Jumping in itself is easy to do and control. You just press the jump button and voila. I don’t have any complaints about the controls. I really like how there is a dedicated button to cycle through Rorona’s animations. The game controls great and I didn’t have the need to spend time getting used to them. The UI explains it so well, I got the hang of it right away. One minor nitpick is that the prompt for running is a tad confusing. When the UI shows a button for “running ON” and you press that button, Rorona actually starts walking. So, that prompt in the UI actually shows the status if you are running or not.
Now, the UI has some amazing things I really liked. Like how easy it is to sort items or the great and easy to use crafting system. But I have a few complaints. First of all, I wish I was able to see which ingredients were at a certain location before I actually traveled there. I would have been able to save so many days…
Secondly, while I totally understand why the developers did this; I wish I was able to see how many days it would take to go to a newly discovered gathering area. The reason why they don’t tell you this is most likely for immersion reasons.
And my final and third complaint is when you buy armor, you can’t see if it would increase somebody’s stats or not. This was quite annoying, especially when the armor shop rarely has new items because the game really wants that you craft it yourself.
The music and sound effects for this game are good. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the story quite well. It’s relaxing and rather melodic. It helps to get immersed in the game. I even added the soundtrack to my playlist for when I want to relax. Now, the sound effects are great but I wish there were a bit more of them. For the whole crafting system, the use the same effects and I would love some different ones for food or bombs. Also, one for days passing, while the clock ticked over, would be the cherry on the cake.
Oh, and here is something nice, you can totally change the whole soundtrack. Yes, while interacting with the book in the atelier, you can change each and every track to another track. You can choose between a pretty long list of other games in the series. Now, this is an amazing feature but it could have used some additional features. Like a reset to default option and one where you easily see which song you have selected since in that menu there is a lot of unused screen space. And the biggest missing feature is, in my opinion, a preview of what song is currently playing. Oh dear, they were so close.
In that same menu, you can access the different costumes for Rorona. As far as I know, these are only cosmetic. You can do save file management and decorate the atelier to a certain degree. You can also access the options menu where you can adjust the sound mix to your liking. Here, you can also change the language of the voice acting to Japanese or English. So, if you want Rorona to greet you in Japanese on the main menu, you can do that.
After you have finished the game, there is a post-game chapter. I won’t spoil what the chapter is about but it adds some additional story. But after this post-game, there is no free-roaming. So, you can’t experiment with the game… This is a real missed opportunity since I would have loved to try and experiment with the game to learn and have a better run next time. Yet, on the other hand, I totally understand why they did this. Because the game has so many different endings in which different characters aren’t present, it would have been a hell to program.
Interestingly, during my writing this review and posting it; the game got a small update. I have no clue what has been added, but I wanted to mention it, just in case something in my review doesn’t make sense anymore.
With that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave some things out for you as a surprise if you decide to play this game. But, it’s time for the conclusion of this review and my final thoughts.
- The jump animation looks awkward.
- The game can be repetitive.
- There is no free play in the post content.
+ Enjoyable story, writing and voice acting.
+ Amazing charm.
+ Great UI.
+ High replay value due to the different endings.
+ Relaxing soundtrack and you can change it to your liking!
I don’t know exactly how this game compares to other games in the Atelier series. Since this game is the first game in the series I have played. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time with this game quite a lot. The game is on the surface of a relaxing game with a lot of charm. But, don’t get fooled, this game can become quite hectic in a good way.
The game is quite enjoyable to play but difficult to master. You really need to plan every single move to make sure to you get yourself in a difficult situation.
This game is perfect for everybody who is looking for an RPG with a crafting system or somebody who is looking for a shop simulator. While I can totally understand why some people won’t enjoy this game too much, it did click with me.
But the game is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite good but it has some flaws that hinder the gameplay in my opinion. Like the strict deadlines and the repetitive nature of the game.
Personally, I recommend that you give this game a try. If only there was a demo of this game you could try out and judge for yourself if this game is for you are not. I bought this game because the screenshots and descriptions looked interesting on the Nintendo eShop and I wasn’t disappointed.
Now, I can’t wait to play the other games in this trilogy to see if they improved the mechanics in the other games. Maybe they crafted an even better adventure while they kept everything that worked quite well in this game.
Do keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is a bad game. It’s a good game with some flaws. It’s up to you to decide if these flaws would hinder your enjoyment of the game or not. Since this game has a lot of depth so you will be able to have a lot of fun with this game.
With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in a different article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.
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.
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
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?
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 Pokémon 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
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.
-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.
+ Great story and writing.
+ Great visuals.
+ Amazing music.
+ Fun, yet sometimes repetitive, gameplay.
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.
This rant might come as a surprise. I also write articles about mobile games and now I’m going to actually talk bad about it. I read an article today and something snapped inside of me. Something just made me sigh so hard, I almost blew over my nearly empty can of soda. I just realized something that will be a grave danger if we didn’t talk about it. Even if this might seem nonsense to you, I’m quite afraid it might happen. Feel free to discuss this in the comments, I’m kind of curious what you guys think. Warning: this rant has been written when I was a bit angry and disappointing by the news I open the next paragraph with. Just a heads up, m’kay. It might be not written as good as I usually write.
Layton and Fantasy Life sequels go mobile.
Thank you Kotaku for sharing my opinion. I simply can’t believe that Level5 is making this idiotic move. I have a lot of respect for Level5, since they made some amazing titles. But jumping on the mobile cash train is just making me sad. Extremely sad.
Apart from that, Nintendo is also moving mobile after a lot of complaints. I’m extremely afraid that they might do something stupid as well.
I could rant about how disappointed I am about this, but it might be better to explain why I feel like that actually. There is something going on in the mobile market that is really not good for us gamers.
Moving to mobile
When I browse the app store lately, I notice that big titles like Final Fantasy and Fifa are appearing on the mobile market. This business scheme is just insulting in my eyes.
Why? Simply because those games don’t belong on the mobile market. At all. Since mobile games are meant as timewasters at the doctor’s office or waiting for a bus. Games that work well on mobile are games that are easy to understand and play. Games that have a simple idea behind them. That’s why Candy Crush is doing so well.
I’m quite sure that some people will disagree with me on this. They will try to prove that I’m wrong with examples of games that did well on the mobile platform. A game that actually did well on mobile platforms is Minecraft Pocket Edition. But then again, it’s a game you can enjoy in short bursts and it’s something excellent to do while you are waiting on something.
Why don’t triple A games belong on the mobile market? One reason is, that a tablet and phones aren’t meant to have long gameplay sessions on. Tablets where originally a decent alternative to a laptop for business men. But phones, they just aren’t meant for it. Think about it, you can’t call somebody because your battery died because you played too much games on it.
Also, because people want to use their phones more and more to do stuff on, where actually a tablet or a laptop is made for, the sizes of a phone gets… just out of proportion. I have seen phones that barely can fit in a pocket.
My biggest issue is the fact that the people who play games on their mobile phones are a different group who play games on their consoles, handhelds and/or computers. When I see people play games on Facebook and their phones, I rarely see them play games on a handheld. Also, when I look to most of my friends who play games on consoles and other devices, I rarely see them play games on mobile phone. It’s because most people who play games on their mobile phones aren’t that interested in games to begin with.
I could try to explain it, but let me prove my point. When I went to Minecon a few years ago, the people who played Minecraft Pocket Edition had a separate room. Most of the people there were young mothers, males that did a lot of sport or very young children.
Or another example, the more popular games that started on mobile, get their way onto Steam, handhelds and/or consoles. Weird isn’t it?
Before I forget to mention it, the fact that you have no buttons to play with feels so awkward to me. Not only that, what you see on the screen then depends on the size of your fingers as well. Not only that, when you are in a situation where you need to do some sort of quick action, buttons are just better. Since you can press them and it’s harder to press them by accident.
No tablet for me
So, I’m already seeing some comments in my head. But if it’s on a tablet, it might be better to play on since your fingers take up less space or you can plug in a keyboard.
Hold the Android there. (Little phone pun, sorry.) First of all, I agree with the argument of the tablet being a better size to play games on. I honestly think that mobiles shouldn’t be powerful enough to play games like Delver or Fifa on.
But the argument of being able to plug in a keyboard or a controller is just, well, it makes for a whole different experience. Out of that idea we got tablet-laptop hybrids and a console named the Ouya.
I actually own a tablet. I use it to watch video’s on when I’m on a trip or in bed and I can’t sleep. It makes less noise and it’s lighter to carry then a laptop. In the end, I actually prefer a laptop.
Anyways, I think I’m going to wrap this one up. It felt quite nice to blow off some steam about this. It’s possible that I look back at this article later and my opinion might be different, but I think that the big triple A games shouldn’t go towards mobile platforms. If anything, they should rename it to “tablet platforms”. Since then my arguments about phones have less meaning.
So yeah, I might write more about this subject but in any case, I hope you found this interesting. While I could have written this when I was more calm and collected about the subject, I feel that, as a writer and creative person, you should allow yourself to publish something you created when you were in a different mood. But that’s a whole other subject. Take care and until the next article. I already have something in mind. ~
I own and have played a lot of Pokémon spin offs. When I was browsing the Nintendo 3DS eShop earlier today, I thought it would be a fun idea if I wrote an article about them. Since I keep my articles around a 1000 – 1500 words, I might write more then one article. So, let’s get started talking about the Pokémon spin-offs. Also, I’m not talking about rom hacks. Since I wrote an article about those in the past. And as usual feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the games and or the content of this article.
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon
If you watched the first season of the Pokémon anime, you might remember that emotional scene where Ash decides to leave Pikachu behind with other Pikachu’s. That feeling of leaving a friend behind is the exact feeling each and every ending gave me in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series.
While the games aren’t perfect if you compare them to other similar games, I think they are the best spin-off games in the Pokémon series. I wish that this series got a bit more love. If you want proof that I love this game series, you might want to read my quite in-depth review of the “Gates to Infinity” entry.
So, if anybody from ChunSoft or Nintendo is reading this article, please make more Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games. How you are currently making them, they are nearly perfect. Anyways, I think I better stop talking about this series since I wanted to write this article mostly to give some other spin-offs some time to shine on my blog.
When I was young, my mom took me to a clothing store. As a young child, I would usually bring my gameboy along. Yet, in that store there was a pinball machine that kids could play FOR FREE. Yes, you read it right, no coins or anything, it was a free pinball machine.
When I got home, I started to look through my gameboy games and found this game back. I rarely played it but since I saw that free pinball machine I wanted to play it at home as well. In the Pokémon Pinball series, there are only two entries. Which is quite a shame. But they aren’t the only Nintendo-themed pinball games. There is also one of Mario, Kirby and even Metroid.
If you have the chance, I would pick this one up. If you play it on the Super Gameboy, a SNES addon, the blue board will actually appear red. I used to have a picture of that, but I think it was taken with a potato, so I will spare you the cruelty of it.
I have talked about this series in the past. I have written an article about the first game in the series. I had a lot of fun with that game, and honestly I still have. It has been quite some time since Nintendo released a new entry of this series.
At first, you might think that this game is nothing more then simply drawing circles, but it’s more then that. It’s a puzzle game and it makes you look in a different angle to Pokémon. Now they are actual helpers to finish your quest instead of helpers in battle.
I mentioned most of my complaints in my first impression article, so I won’t give a long explanation here. It can be repetitive yet it’s so much fun to play. Also, when you look at the later games in the series, you see it clearly evolve into an amazing game. The latest game in the series is one of the best entries ever.
I advice people who where on the fence for this series to give it a try. Read some articles about it. I enjoyed myself with it. The difficulty can be a bit off, but hey, at least it’s something different from the main Pokémon formula.
The biggest issue this game suffers from is that the story just seems so well, created just for the sake of having a story.
This game/series is actually a sequel to the gameboy color game: Pokémon Puzzle Challenge. It’s a Pokémon styled Puzzle Quest game. Pokémon Puzzle Quest was more Bejeweled kind of game.
While I’m totally not a fan of the latest free game that they released, I think the puzzle Pokemon games where all pretty amazing. When I’m bored, I sometimes start playing these games. And the time flies by. It’s one of those games that “one more round” really applies.
A big negative of this game is that you are expected to know which Pokémon has which type. If you have that knowledge, some bosses are way more easy to defeat.
A big positive in this game is that when fighting a boss-Pokémon, it will come inside your playing flied and remove some columns. You will have to adapt a new strategy and quickly, since those attacks can hurt quite a lot.
I wouldn’t recommend this game or this series to anyone. I would recommend it to hardcore Pokémon fans, casual gamers and puzzle game fans. Otherwise, this game is a safe one to pass. I’m not saying that these games are bad in any meaning of the word, but they aren’t for everyone.
I almost forgot about this series. While I was about to write the closure to this article, I saw this game sitting on my shelve. These games are quite something.
This game is a more relaxing Pokémon game where you need to make friends with the Pokémon of an area before you can progress to the next one. The way you can befriend a Pokémon is by a race, hide-and-seek, quiz, quest or a battle.
During your adventure, you will get different Pokémon in your party that have different abilities in battle and in exploration. Also, the party games make for quite a nice time.
If you have a young child that loves Pokémon, I urge you to buy this game for them, I’m quite sure they will enjoy this one. I’m still playing the sequel of this game and it’s a lot of fun. When I am in the mood again to play on my Wii, I’ll most likely try to finish PokePark 2.
Closing the article.
Well, I have talked about most of the spin-offs I played. It’s quite clear that I haven’t played some big ones, but I’m planning to change that in the future. I hope you found some new Pokémon spin-offs that seem interesting to you or maybe you enjoyed reading my opinion about a Pokémon spin-off you played.
In any case, I might write a sequel to this article if I played some other Pokémon spin-offs that I find worthy to be talked about on my blog. I hope you enjoyed reading this article and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog. Until then, take care!
Alright, in order to celebrate some milestones, it’s time to review a game that’s very special to me. I begged Konami to make a sequel of this game. But why? Is this game really so good that it deserves a sequel or am I just being hopeful because I love this game? Before writing this review I replayed the whole game. Just to be sure I wasn’t going to forget anything when I would review this game. I have beaten this game 3 times. I might have beaten it more then 3 times, I honestly don’t remember. This game is extremely memorable to me because I can relate with the main character. Not only that, the soundtrack just helps me write. And the main theme, yes, the main theme. I selected that once in an article about my favorite music tracks in games. So, I don’t have to explain myself there. So, before we continue, this game is a visual novel and adventure game. Like Ace Attorney or Professor Layton. So, because of that, this game falls into my favorite game genre ever. Because this game’s strongest point is the story, I decided to not have any spoilers here! YAY! Anyways, let’s get to reviewing this game. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on the game.
I open my eyes, to another day.
In this game, you play as Ethan. His birthday is the next day. After you meet his family and the basic characters are set, the story flips the tables on you and takes you on quite a ride. Yes, his parents go missing. They aren’t kidnapped. Since Ethan had a nightmare. In that nightmare, he saw his parents fleeing a burning building through a portal.
That’s all I’ll tell you about the story. Apart from my views about it, of course. So, the story is amazingly written. The build up to the final part is thrilling. The story has several chapters. As the title suggests, you will have to mess with the time and past events. I’m just blown away by how the problems you have to solve can build up to the actual villain of the game.
But here we hit on of the biggest weak points of the game. The game is short. Not as short as Lili’s: Child Of Geos, but I was able to beat this game in a week. Maybe my experience with adventure games helped me, but still, comparing it to other adventure games on the Nintendo DS, this one is too short.
At the other hand, this isn’t such a bad point. The story doesn’t get messy with too many events which makes the story really memorable. The writers truly focused on the personality of the characters. You see them grow and change with each change you make. In the end, you will start to hate certain characters and get attached to others. Mostly due to the brilliant writing. The story never feels; how to say this? Made longer on purpose so you have a longer game to play. It truly benefits the game since you get to know the location better!
Taking back what was mine.
Also, CAPCOM, take notes please. In this game they nailed the voice acting perfectly. They didn’t use voice acting outside the cutscenes. While using it outside the cutscenes was rather interesting, you can create awkward breaks in it. While there aren’t many cutscenes in this game, they did place them nicely. After solving a big problem, being rewarded with a cutscene is such a sweet feeling.
Sound design wise, they did an amazing job. The sound effects make the game feel truly alive. While I would have used a bit more sound effects if I made the game, I have nothing bad to say about them. Even the voice acting is way better compared to another Konami title I really love as well, Suikoden Tierkreis.
So, the gameplay of this game. Well, it’s pretty interesting. You are presented with a problem. It’s up to you to solve it using Ethan’s special powers. It has something to do with time. Yet, you still want to find out what happened to your parents. The game requires you going to certain places and talking to people.
It doesn’t sound like much, yet it’s strangely addicting. Mostly because the story is really well made, I wanted to continue to play!
In the end
The difficulty in this game lies into if you are familiar with the style of gameplay or not. Like I said earlier, this game is rather at the short side for veteran adventure gamers. At the other hand, I do expect new players to the genre getting stuck at certain parts. To avoid that you get frustrated, there is a character that’s “training her psychic abilities”. She is basically giving you a clue what to do next or where to go next.
Visually, this game really shines. On this front, I honestly do disagree with the other reviewers. I have seen review where they give this game only a 5 or 6 on the visual aspect. And I don’t think that’s enough. Because most of this game is told through it’s presentation. This game is more like an interactive book. There isn’t a lot of animation to talk about, apart from the flashbacks and cutscenes. I honestly loved revisiting certain places just because of the visual polish this game got.
So, before we go to my conclusion, I do think I have to speak my mind about the replay value. This game has a small bit of replay value. Because there are two different endings. You can only unlock the 2nd ending once you finished the game. Also, the 2nd ending is more for… Whoops, I nearly spoiled a part of the game.
Yeah, because of the genre of this game, there isn’t any replay value besides the second ending. The only time you might replay it, is when you want to review it or just feel like replaying this game.
So, time to move on to the conclusion!
– Way too short.
– Failed to bring innovation to the genre, where there was potential.
+ Amazing story.
+ Unique gameplay.
+ Amazing soundtrack
The biggest setback of this game is that’s it’s short. Way to short. Because of that, I see how a lot of people won’t really get into this game. Honestly, playing through the game for a couple of times, I wasn’t able to find any other negative besides just the length of the game.
I honestly get the feeling that this game is polished to perfection instead of made longer. I might just be blinded a bit because my love for this game. Who knows? I invite you to play this game and tell me what you think. If you liked games like Ace Attorney or Trace Memory on the DS, it would be a shame if you missed out on this one!
“Time to go to work” is the opening of the game. Indy slides down a slope and lands on stone platform overlooking a canyon. Now you’re ready to start the game’s tutorial. Well, I can try to write a billion introductions for this game but I will never really be happy with it. I will always restart writing this article and after many tries, I just decided to write it. Since this game is filled with childhood nostalgia for me. I always try to replay it but with all broken copies, bad compatibility with later operating systems, it’s a big pain. If you want to play this game, your safest bet is to either go and buy a truly old pc that runs Windows 98 or be lucky and play in a virtual machine. But the third option is that you go and buy the N64 version. I can’t talk much about that version since I only played the PC and gameboy color version. I still remember that one morning I woke up on my birthday at my aunt’s place and she gave me Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine for my gameboy. Okay, enough nostalgia. Feel free to leave me a comment with your opinion on this article and or game. Let’s dive right into this.
If you look around the internet, you find mostly an overdose of content about it. But this game got overlooked. My best guess is that it’s mostly compared to a cheap Tomb Raider clone. Whilst this is somewhat true, I think that if you look at this game as an entry into the 3D adventure game genre, it’s a pretty solid entry.
Let’s talk about the story. While it isn’t a deep story, and it only has enough characters to count on your both hands, I think it actually works in favor of this game.
All the characters are flat and you barely got to know them. If I need to put aside my nostalgia, I have to admit that the story is weak. But then again, this is an action adventure game, so it’s a bit forgiven. Action games don’t need to have a deep story. While adventure games, a deep story is a must!
The story brings us through various locations. From Egypt to a boat in the middle of the sea. And every location is nicely introduced at the end of each level. And that’s the main function of the story, tying the levels together nicely.
The infernal machine
First of all, there are around 15 levels in the game. Each level has a decent length. At best, you can finish this game after a few weeks of play.
Most area’s wont give you any trouble. Not that this game has low difficulty, not at all. But the game is pretty straight forward. While some puzzles can stump you, it’s not that you can get stuck easily.
Each level requires you to kill enemies, jump from platform to platform and try to find the exit to advance to the next level. Basic adventure game stuff. But the execution is amazing. Since each area, while falling into the cliche area’s, feels unique and feels true to the Indiana Jones movies. It’s almost like you are playing an Indiana Jones movie.
A volcano, jeep, boat, pyramid or a tropical island level are present in the game and tons more. And the main objective in each area is different and fun. While some have fetch quests, they don’t feel boring or lazy in any way. Plus, the game isn’t extremely linear. Some area’s can be finished with doing things in a different order.
So, in each level you can find 10 treasure items. With these you can buy ammo, health packs and various other items at the end of every level. Some treasures are in plain sight, but some treasures ask some exploration of the open levels. A tip that I give to you guys is that in the Olmec Valley (level 10), there is a treasure hidden in a pond. That was one that took me a long time to find.
Visually, this game has aged quite poorly. The animations and graphics will look terrible to the modern gamer. But truth to be told, the design of every place is beautiful. For a retro gamer, this game is a jewel. A pearl in design.
The level design is just pretty and provides quite the variation in gameplay and will not easily bore you. Even a couple of easter eggs are hidden. I will reveal two of them. Both extremely close to each other. In one level, where you need to enter the mines, you will visit a control room. On the desk of the control room there is a picture of the Young Indy. If you press the action button, Indy will give a nice comment. After that, try to get on top of the control room. It’s tricky to do, but the boxes outside will help you. Once on top, light your lighter and somewhere in the middle you will see the name of one of the designers edged into the wood.
So, what haven’t I talked about? Oh yes, the music. While it’s mainly absent, I think that it’s a missed opportunity. The game could have benefited from a more extended musical score. But the sound design isn’t bad at all and gets a thumbs up from me.
Oh, before I forget, there is a big reward if you collect all the treasures. You will be able to buy something really special that will put a big smile on your face if you have seen the first movie. Just saying.
And to finish, let me talk about the cheats. Yes, there are cheats. From god mode to have each and every weapon in the game. But there are even easter eggs in the cheats!
So, I think I am going to leave it here for this review and go on to the conclusion. Don’t forget to draw everywhere on the walls with your chalk in the game! I haven’t talked about everything inside the game as usual, since I want you guys to have some discoveries in the game if you’re interested!
– Tricky to get to work on modern system.
– Some weapons can crash the game if you have Windows XP or higher.
– The story is weak.
– This game could have benefited from more music.
+ The easter eggs are truly worth finding.
+ The replay value is high.
+ The length is very great.
+ Nice sound design.
+ Epic visuals for retro gamers.
+ Nice voice acting.
+ Addicting gameplay.
Dayum, this was harsh to do. My nostalgia was always taking the better of me and pushing every bad thing I wanted to say, was pushed out of my head. The old warning I have to give is that this game is a pain to get working properly on modern systems. It even acts funny from time to time on my virtual machine. So, please, keep that in mind.
But this game was the cause I got truly addicted to gaming. It’s a very influential game in my eyes and I often reference it in my head when I’m reviewing or writing. Somehow it gives me inspiration.
Let me reveal a few things I haven’t talked about in my review. Like the adjustable difficulty, boss battles and a map system. Yeah, the game is pretty deep when I think about it. I had enough material for a long review for sure, but just because I felt like writing a review about this game and finally publish it, since I was always somewhat displeased, I kept it to my usual length.
Anyways, I’m writing a longer final thoughts then I should. Play this game for yourself and tell me what you thought of this game. I truly think it’s a master piece with a few flaws.
Score: 90 / 100
There is a lot of shitty games on the market. Yet, in this list, you won’t see a lot of those “easy targets”. This list contains games that you might like or might be good. But the next 5 games I don’t find myself enjoying or there is too much broken in the game for me to finish it. This list is in a totally random order as well. I also challenged myself with picking releases on Steam, Gameboy, PC… And no easy targets like badly programmed Android apps with misguiding information on the market space. So, which games on this list do you dislike as well? And what are your most disliked games list? And why? So, without any further ado, and hoping that my introduction is long enough, for nicer lay-out sake, let’s start this list. Shall we?
#1: Aladdin (Gameboy)
What more can I say about this shit that I haven’t told in my original review on my personal blog yet? Nothing much. I remember that I lend this game together with Duck Tales from a cousin. In the day, I was happy to even play shitty games since my parents were extremely strict in buying games for me.
But now, that I got this game from somebody who wanted to give away his collection, I feel a bit sad owning this game. Especially when I those reviews from the better SNES and Sega versions. The jealousy raises extremely fast.
I don’t understand how IGN can let this game pass. There are so many faults with this game that it’s a real shame that people play this game out of only nostalgia and therefore defend it.
Terrible controls, confusing health system, random crashes, bad graphics and even worse weapon range destroy this game completely.
#2: Barbie: Game Girl (Gameboy)
You can now go and judge me all you want, but sometimes I get my games from friends who want to give their old collection, that was gathering dust, to me. A school friend from high school gave me her old Gameboy games as a sort of goodbye gift.
Honestly, when I was a kid, I rarely played my sisters games. One of them was Barbie’s Secret Agent on the Gameboy Advance, and honestly, it’s a rather nice game. I even dare to go as far to recommend it for children and for a good and easy game snack.
So, I thought that it couldn’t be that bad. Oh man, was I proven wrong? This game is extremely bad. One of the worst Gameboy games I ever played.
Weird animations, confusing power-ups, too long death scene, LJN bad jumping, bad sound effects and irritating music just make this game pull your hair out. It’s not even worth to use it to torture your sister with it. It’s that bad.
#3: The cat and the coup (Steam)
An interesting designed game doesn’t mean that you’ll get an interesting game. As I tried to review this game and failed to write a great article, I use this opportunity to rip it apart.
Due to its absurd art style, the message and meaning this game tries to deliver get lost extremely quickly. That makes my senses to try to enjoy the actual game. But the game is so boring that you better stay away from it. Unless you enjoy these types of “different games.”
It’s free on Steam, so no harm is done to your wallet. But some puzzles ask too precise timing, the art is just a mess, the menu doesn’t save your settings and confusing progress makes this a bad game. Such a shame while it tries to deliver a message about a president… I think.
#4: Playmobil Interactive – Top Secret Agents (DS)
I played the first Playmobil game on DS. If I remember correctly, it was the one about knights and kingdoms. It was rather enjoyable. I also played Playmobil Hype on the Gameboy Color. Such a hidden game in the library of Gameboy Color games.
Then I played Playmobil – Pirates on the DS. While it was a step down from the first DS game, it was still rather enjoyable.
Then this “gem” came. And man, while I already ripped this game apart in my original review, I still wish I could rip it a new one again.
This game is complete and utter sh*t compared to what Playmobil games where in the past. From bugged out controls we go to the most cheesy names.
I read a review that this game is a great pass time for kids. But don’t give them this, they deserve better. Give this to your kid when it was naughty. It’s a passable game, but …. Wait, I take that back. It’s a great game to use for an easy rip-apart target.
#5: Nickelodeon – Avatar – The Legend Of Aang (PC)
I promised to finish it, but honestly, I deleted it for now. I continued to play it after my first impression article on my blog but I gave up. I couldn’t take the utter failure that is this game.
I even ran into more problems than just the ones I mentioned. Yes, even more, broken-ness in a game. I’m so disappointed at THQ to be a part of this failure. They brought us way better content then this quick cash in.
I own several Avatar games. One on Gameboy advance and another one on PS2. And they pass with ease. They are really good. I even finished the Gameboy Advance game several times.
I wish I had never played this game, to begin with. It had a lot of potential and with a big name like that, it could have been great merchandise and a nice collector item. Yet, even to collectors of Avatar, I say, don’t even dare to torrent this game to take a look. You will regret it so much.
It’s ugly, the controls make no sense, the menu is idiotic, the shortness of the game is displayed on the box, the installation makes the disc spin extremely fast, the installation instructions are on the disc itself… Read more of the faults in my original article.
5 “honorable” mentions.
So, before we close this article, let’s get a bit lazy. I was planning to make a top 10 but I’m tired from a heavy day in college. And I wanted to publish two articles like promised. Also, they installed new outlets in my gaming room so I have to take care of the wiring setup I had. Anyways, the five other games with a short description why I don’t like them, go!
- Disney’s Story Studio: Mulan (PS1) – This game made me shudder beyond belief. It’s a kids game but it holds your hand a lot. While it’s one of the best games on this list, I didn’t enjoy my experience.
- Flikken 2 – Moord in het hotel Ganda (PC) (Dutch link) – So, making a game from a TV series makes for bad results. But what if you have a local TV show that gets re-created in a game in a country that isn’t ready for gaming studios? You get a rip-off of a game that gets boring extremely quickly.
- The Bard’s Tale (PS2) – I just couldn’t get into the humor. I found it actually more annoying to play then funny. Or I just played it on the wrong system.
- Dune (PC) – They just tried a tad bit TOO hard with this game. And it makes me dislike the game for its faults. I can’t get into it.
- Fortune Summoners: Secret of the Elemental Stone (PC) – I expected a lot more of the developer. They failed to deliver here.
While I totally changed my mind of which articles I was going to write today, I think this list turned out pretty good. I had this list sitting in a word document since the start of September. And I’m glad to finally write it. Of course, it went under a lot of changes, but which list doesn’t.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this (mini-rant) list. If you want to read my latest review, go over to my personal blog. My latest, 16th, review is a special one since the developers of an Android game mailed me to review their game. And so I did…