Gamer’s Thoughts: “Games are a waste of time”

gamedealsHappy Mothers day 2017! A phrase I hear my mom saying from time to time is: “I don’t understand why people enjoy games.”. That question actually made me think. Why do we gamers enjoy games? Why do people who don’t play games see them sometimes as annoying or time wasters? Well, in this article I’m going to give my two cents in the discussion. As usual, feel free to leave a comment about your opinion and/or my opinion in the comment section down below. 

Why do I play games?

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First of all, let me explain why I play games. In an article last year, I tried to explain why I play games. But in most of the article, I talked about why I collect games.

So, why do I play games? Well, I think it’s because of several reasons. The first reason would be because I grew up in a time where playing the Gameboy was the hip thing to do on the school playground. Pokémon was extremely popular when I was in elementary and I was hooked. Then my family took me to various garage sales and flea markets. I bought more and more games on the Gameboy and I got hooked.

The second reason is because it was a very easy conversation topic. When I was on a trip, I was able to talk to other kids easily thanks to games. Phrases like: “What are you playing?”, “Have you played game X” or “How far are you into the game?” are phrases that often crossed my lips as a child. I made so many friends thanks to games.

A 3rd reason would be that I was so interested in reading and telling stories. But why am I less addicted to movies or books then? Well, the interactivity is the biggest reason. The fact I can make a difference in the world the game is so important to me. That’s why I love games that have a great story.

So, in conclusion, I think due to nostalgia and the interactive nature of gaming, I got hooked on gaming and never let go. Nowadays, I even have a 4th and 5th reason. My 4th reason is that I’m interested in how people get entertained by games. If I had the right skills, I would have studied game design.

And my 5th reason is this blog, honestly. I love to share stories of games I played. And writing a blog about them is one of the best ways to share them. The best way is YouTube, but I burned out on making videos…

Why do people play games?

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I’m quite sure that gaming is here to stay. While some hardcore gamers won’t like the next sentence, but due to the casual mobile gaming market, there are much more people play games than ever before.

The fact that gaming is a national sport in South Korea and that people earn their living with playing games are more proof that gaming is here to stay.

I think that the reason why people play games is similar to why people watch Netflix all day or read books in their free time. It’s their way of entertaining themselves. To relax after a (stressful) day at school or work.

People will always look for a way to entertain themselves. Another reason is that the current generation is growing up with a culture where video games are everywhere. Speaking about that, games are becoming more and more accessible to young children. And look at me, when you do something since childhood, it isn’t easy to let go.

Why games can be annoying/uninteresting

5562ecfd-2740-4c50-b148-64b882408fa0 When I ask people who don’t play games, I sometimes get a reply like: “I don’t have the time for them” or “I’m not interested in them.” Which are both very valid arguments, in my opinion. But they aren’t good answers to why people can find games annoying or a waste of time.

Well, I have a few theories for why people think that games can be annoying. Keep in mind, this is just a theory. Why I think people find games annoying. Also, let me make on thing clear, I’m talking in very general terms in the following theories. I know that we as humans are a more complex race.

My first theory is that people don’t like the interactivity of the games. They enjoy TV-shows where they can sit down and just take in the content. Or you could replace TV-shows with movies, books, plays, concerts…

A 2nd theory is one I think makes a lot of sense of the older generation. The fact that they didn’t grow up with games but saw children and teenagers grow up with them. In their eyes, games would be a toy for children and for teenagers, so their interest fades away. “Why would something that’s meant for children is any use to me?” is a thought that summarizes this theory. A generation gap if you will.

A 3rd theory is because they don’t see the appeal to games. They don’t understand what can be so engaging in playing games. Also, they don’t understand what additional value games can bring to people since most games are entertainment games. There aren’t a lot of gamers who play educational games just for fun. And I mean, that their favorite genre is educational games.

A 4th theory is the loud toxic minority that gives us gamers a bit reputation. People who do violent things and then blame it on violent video games. I think that media outlets especially can be a problem in this case. Since they give non-gamers the impression that every game is so violent and that it taints people their brain. Maybe we just need to get past the phase that certain styles of music and movies went through.

But, I’m getting off track. What I mean with the loud toxic minority are the people who actually go out their way to make the gaming community look like a bunch of unwelcome jerks. People who won’t help others to play games. Thankfully, there are a lot of forums, websites, and networks that are meant to welcome new gamers with open arms. But sadly enough, it’s the loud toxic minority that sometimes gives communities a bad reputation. And people tend to generalize… So yeah, I think I made my point clear here.

So, that are a few theories I have. I wonder how you guys think about them. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my theories. But please, keep it civil. I’m open to discussion, but I’m not open to flame wars.

Wrapping up

So, should we force people to play games? Well, no. We should ask them why they don’t like games and invite them to give games a chance. I accepted that members of my family don’t enjoy playing games. I don’t enjoy reading that much while my mom loves to read a lot of books.

Before I forget, this whole article has been inspired by the quote of my mother I used in the introduction of my article. So, thank you, mom, for this great idea! I hope you had a great mothers day today!

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

Review: Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS) ~ New Generation!

sun-moon-box-art.jpgOfficial website

Well, you might have seen this one coming from a mile off. Because I love playing on my handheld, I was ,of course, going to play Pokémon Sun and Moon. Well, I choose to play Sun. Also, I played on the old-school 3DS.  Because I haven’t bought a New 3DS just yet. I might do that next year when I have a bit more budget. In any case, it’s time to take a look at one of the biggest games from Nintendo this year. Is it any good or is it a failure? Is this game worthy enough to start a whole new generation of Pokémon or should we all shout to Nintendo to stop? Here is my opinion on the matter. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or this article in the comment section. One little note: I have written this review as spoiler free as possible!

Childhood of Pokémon

pokemon_sun_3ds_screenshots_2.jpgI have been playing almost every Pokémon game from the very first Pokémon games. I owe a lot to the Pokémon series.But, let’s not go into a whole personal story about how this series influenced my life. That story is for another time. Speaking about stories, usually, the story in these kinds of Pokémon games is pretty generic.

The start of this game is almost the same as all the other Pokémon games. You move to a new place and you meet the Professor of that area. He gives you your first Pokémon and you go on a quest. But it doesn’t take long before new and fresh story ideas get introduces.

To avoid spoilers, I’m not going in-depth about the story of this game. Honestly, I think that the story could be been written better. I can’t put my finger on why, but the story didn’t pull me in like other games can. I have a theory, though. This game tried to do something new with the Pokémon-francishe. They tried to stay away from the usual “8 badges, defeat evil team, capture legendary and defeat elite four” story. Yet, various story elements make a return.

I think that the story would have been better if some main characters referenced the older games. It would have been interesting if the Professor said: “Gyms, we don’t have that here. Here, you do various trails to earn Z-Crystals.”  Something I truly like in the writing is that it’s variable. The reactions after a big battle can differ if you have used something or not. Like characters can get impressed if you defeat them without using any Z-Move.

But that’s enough talk about the story. Since otherwise I might go into spoiler territory. Let’s keep it at: “It’s a decent story, but could have been polished a bit more.”

The visuals of this game are pretty good on the New3DS. I have seen various people on the train playing the game but the visuals on the old 3DS take a pretty big hit. I honestly think that some parts of the game look a generation behind on the old 3DS. If you want the best visual experience, I think it would be for the best that you play this game on the New 3DS.

The visual presentation of this game is pretty well done. Everything looks pretty colorful and pops out. It’s clear that there has been put a lot of care into the visuals. That brings me to another reason why I recommend to play this game on the New 3DS. The framerate. I’m under the impression that the game sometimes slows down more on the old 3DS systems then on the New 3DS systems. I had several times where I had to wait before Pokémon started attacking each other.

So, I’m really glad Nintendo didn’t implement any 3D in this game! Otherwise, this game would go in the single framerate digits. Which it sometimes comes pretty close too. Especailly in double battles for me.

Just a bit too much…

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This game adds a lot of new mechanics. It also upgrades some old mechanics to create a whole new experience. The clothing customization is back from Pokémon X and Y, and it’s still as expensive as in those games. The Pokémon Riding mechanic is also back, but now with a twist. You can page Pokémon in. These replace the HM’s from the previous games. Yes, HM’s aren’t in this game anymore. And no HM returns as a TM, so these moves can’t be learned in this game.

In this game, you can also have that Pokémon petting minigame and you have a Festival Plaza you manage. You can also take pictures from hidden Pokémon and receive likes. You can maintain an island in Poké Pelago and fight in a Battle Royale. So, with all these distractions, don’t forget you have the main story to complete. Oh, and let’s not forget that Pokémon can call for backup during battles. (If only you can bring in a second Pokémon at that stage…)

There is so much to do in this game, which is a positive in my book. While I can understand that it’s overwhelming for some people, where some mechanics get glanced over, but I think it’s handled pretty well in this game. The only nitpick I have is that the new features and mechanics are introduced too fast. You barely learned about the “picture taking” mechanic and ten minutes later, you learn how Pokémon Rides work. It can become a bit too much sometimes…

Which brings me to another point. In my honest opinion, there is sometimes just too many animations in the battles. Opening doors now require you to press “A”. You go into an animation to open the door, the screen goes to black and it shows you entering the building while the screen fades back in. But that isn’t the worst of it.

I wish they added a feature where you can easily skip the “Z-moves”. I stopped using the Z-moves since they take way too long to play. Here is an idea, what if after you have seen the animation one time, you can skip it the upcoming times.

But what bugs me the most is that when you capture a Pokémon. The amount of menus and visual flair you get is interesting and all, but sometimes I’m frantically pressing “A” to try and get back into the action.

Some familiar features also get a downgrade. The new fishing feature is lame in my opinion. You can only fish at a few spots. And sadly enough, some features like a Safari Zone and triple battles are absent from this game. Also, double battles are barely present in this game. Also, I haven’t encountered any hordes in this game.

Newcomer friendly

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So, I’m going to come out and say it. This game isn’t too challenging. I was able to get into the end-game without being defeated once. Sometimes there is no challenge. Once or twice, a fight got pretty dicey since I forgot to heal my Pokémon. Something I dislike a whole lot is that most trainers you meet in the routes don’t have more than three Pokémon. Not even the bosses. That’s such a shame. It’s improved when compared to the previous games (OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire) but not enough.

This could have been easily fixed. Introduce difficulty modes in Pokémon. One for newcomers to learn the mechanics of the game and enjoy the games like it’s now and one for long time players like myself were everything is more difficult.

The game has too much handholding in my opinion. These things wouldn’t happen in the harder difficulties too.

One feature I love a whole lot is that now you get the result of an attack before you do it. So, you don’t have to remember which attack is effective to which Pokémon. The catch here is that you had to do the attack at least once against that opponent. So, when you do attack X to Pokémon X… you won’t see the results if you use attack X on Pokémon Y. Unless you have used attack X on Pokémon Y.

The controls in this game are pretty great. Apart from some minor menu issues, I never had any problems with them. Speaking of the menus, I love how you can choose the order of the buttons yourself. This way I can finally choose in which order I want my buttons. I love customization like this! If only the “B” button worked every time I pressed it. Yes, sometimes the “B” button didn’t cancel an option, it rather didn’t do a single thing.

The music and sound design in this game is amazing. While it’s not the best soundtrack in a Pokémon game, in my opinion, it’s one of the better ones. The sound design is pretty well done. I love the ambient noise in caves. You can sometimes hear Pokémon chirping in the background. It adds so much atmosphere to the game.

 So, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to wrap this article up.

Final thoughts

The negative:

-The pacing of the new features could have been better.

-The game is too easy. A harder difficulty mode would have been welcome.

-Visuals aren’t that good on older 3DS models.

-Slowdowns on older 3DS models.

-So things would have too much visual fluff.

-Some animations should be made skippable or run faster.

-Sometimes the game is too cutscene heavy.

The positive:

+ Great visuals (on newer models)

+ Great soundtrack and sound design.

+ The story is decent. And there is finally a bit more story focus! Also, different actions mean different reactions.

+ There is a lot to do in this game, so this game is pretty lengthy.

+ …

Final verdict:

I’m somehow certain that this is an unpopular opinion but here I go… I think that this game is a step in the right direction for Pokémon games but there is so much missed potential. The game tries to please everyone. It adds so many new features to please longtime players but they make the game easy and accessible for newcomers.

The game could have been so much better if there was more content aimed towards the long time fans. Since due to the easy difficulty, this game is over pretty quickly.

Also, I think I’m going to buy a New3DS to play this game again in better visuals and have better performance. Since that’s something that really brought the game down for me.

I recommend this game to anybody who loves Nintendo, Pokémon and 3DS games. And to a lot of other people of course too, since it brings old and new fans together. And that’s something that makes me overlook a lot of the shortcomings of this game.

The game is great, but not perfect. The game could have used some more polish, but what we got is an amazing fun time and a great way to end the year. I’m so looking forward to what the Nintendo Switch port will bring.

So, that was everything I wanted to say about this game. Thank you for reading this review 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 on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Score: 80/100

First Impression: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) ~ I’m An Angel!

dq_ix_esrb_dsLink to Wikipedia entry

Lately, I’m playing a lot on my old Nintendo DS. The game that I’m playing is Dragon Quest IX. I have played this game right when it came out, but then I stopped because other games got my interest. I played this game right around when I started playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. In any case, this article will contain mostly my current opinion of the game. I’m currently 10 hours into the game. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article.

Slow start

Dragon Quest IX 2In this game, you play as a character you design and make yourself. Your character is a guardian angel of Angel Falls. At the start of the game, you get a small combat tutorial and introduction to the world.

Everything was peaceful until suddenly disaster strikes. Something happens in the sky palace and you fall down to the world and lose your halo and wings. You fall in the town of, you guessed it, Angel Falls.

After those events, a lot happens. The plot only thickens and gets quite interesting. Yet, the only negative is that the start is quite slow. I was 2-3 hours in before the main quest started.

The writing is very well done. The characters are memorable. While I noticed some minor spelling mistakes here and there, I didn’t mind them too much.

The story feels episodic. When you finish one quest, another path opens and you go to another village to go on a new quest. This works very well in this game. This game is pretty long. If you want to beat the main story, you will have to put in around 50 hours. So, I’m looking forward to the stories I still have to play.

In any case, enough talking about the story. The difficulty of this game is almost a negative in my opinion. If you have read my blog before, you might know that I don’t like grinding for levels that much. It gives the impression that the game is longer then it actually is. This game contains some grinding, but it isn’t too bad. But, the grinding gets old real fast for me.

Buy and wear this shield

dragonquest9_218826In this game, there is something that really every RPG should do. When you buy new equipment, you see your character visually change. Not only in battle, but also in the overworld. This is a great touch, since it gives you the feeling of progression and growth of your characters. I can understand that this could be annoying to some people, since they prefer everything to look a certain way. But I honestly like it.

Visually, the characters and enemies look very well designed. Sadly enough, this RPG suffers from what I call the “multiple paint bucket syndrome”. There are various recoloring of enemies to make new enemies.

While I can understand that it’s hard to always make new enemies for each new area, I believe there are other methods. If you give the recolored version some minor visual changes like make them longer, shorter, wider, bulkier… That would go a long way.

Or you use the same enemy, but you buff them up. Wait, scrap that. Game design wise, this wouldn’t be the best solution. Since that could confuse a lot of players.

So, we were talking about the visuals of this game. The world design is something that is deserves praise. Every area has charm and feels alive. The animation is stellar. In short, I really love the presentation of this game.

One thing to note is that in some battles, I experienced some frame drops. This happened mostly when there were a lot of graphic heavy attacks in a row. Outside of battles, I rarely got slowdowns or frame drops.

You have two options in the control department. You can either use the touch screen for everything or you can use the buttons. Both control schemes work every well. The only feature you miss in the touch screen controls is the ability to swing around the camera a little bit in the overworld. But I rarely use it, so I don’t mind it that much.

This game is a full blood RPG and it has a big world for you to explore and adventure in. A big plus in this game is that you can see the monsters running around on the overworld. This makes it a lot easier when you need a certain item drop or when you need to defeat a certain enemy to complete your monster index.

You can design your own party in this game. You can tweak your party to your heart’s and playstyle’s content. Take your perfect party in to battle!

I can only say one negative thing about the battles. If they would added a health bar for the enemies, that would be amazing. I found it very frustrating that I had to hope that a boss died when I was at low health. It would be very handy to change your tactics.

There is just too much

dragonquestIXIn this game, there are also side quests. I haven’t done many side quests, so I won’t go in-depth. But you can get a quest from a character when a blue speech bubble appears above their head. Most quests I encountered are fetch quests.

But that is just one thing of many things that can entertain you in this game. You can also do alchemy, complete your monster guide or collect party tricks. There is a lot to do in this game. According to some websites, to 100% complete this game, you would have to devote months to this game. According to various sources, you would have to spend over 770 hours. That’s overkill in my opinion. There is just too much to do in this game. But the positive about is that there is always something to do in this game. You shouldn’t get bored with this game if you love playing RPG’s.

The music and sound design in this game is good. It could have been better if there were two or three more tracks in-battle. Since always hearing the same battle music gets a bit old. It’s still a great track, but I wished I heard some other battle music in normal battles from time to time.

In this game, you can only save in churches. You can quick save, but the quick save gets deleted as soon as you restart the game. I don’t know what happens if you quick save and then don’t save. Honestly, I don’t feel like finding that out. One thing, there is only one save slot.

This game offers multiplayer. But, I’m not going to talk about that since I haven’t played this game in multiplayer. And without experience, it would be hardly fair to talk about it.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Besides, if I forgot certain things, I will talk about those if I ever review this game. So, it’s time to wrap up this article.

This game is a very fun game. It’s one of the best RPG’s out there on the Nintendo DS. It does some things that every RPG should do but it also does some things that shouldn’t be in every RPG.

I highly recommend this game if you are looking for a challenge, a big adventure and/or an interesting story. But be prepared to put a lot of hours into this game.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog. But until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

And the Award for Worst DLC Goes To…..

Fallout: New Vegas- Honest Hearts

I know what you’re thinking: this is bad writing. You shouldn’t reveal the answer immediately. Build some suspense! The reason I chose to do so anyway is not because some people like a tl;dr version, or because I’m pretentious and I do whatever the hell I so desire. No, it’s because I’d like to talk about Fallout first, and why this DLC was so disappointing. Prepare yourselves, because I have a feeling this’ll be a long one again.

In all honesty, I have not played the first two major instalments, though I did acquire them through GOG.com a while back and plan to play them some time. My first introduction was with Fallout 3. It didn’t run well, especially its DLC had serious performance issues, but I revered it nevertheless. It was so much fun. The engine used by Bethesda, its developer, has never been well optimised. Not for PC, not for consoles. Not for Fallout and not for The Elder Scrolls. But this is not a performance analysis, so I won’t go in-depth right now.

I fell in love with the world. Set some 250 years in the future, in a world where people in the fifties thought “Well, this is it: he pinnacle of art, style and technology.” Everything is inspired by old technology and the styling of the fifties. Monochromatic computer screens, old jazz and rhytm & blues music, clothing (what’s left of it), … Even futuristic items seem old. It just oozes with charm.

Story-wise I prefer the third instalment over New Vegas, hands down. I plan on comparing the two in a later article at some point in the future, so I’ll keep it at that for now. I even liked the five DLC-packs that were released. Broken Steel continued the story. It wasn’t incredible, but it was serviceable. Operation Anchorage was fun and brought a tonne of nice, new items to the party. Mothership Zeta was interesting and fun, though the story didn’t grab my as such. Point Lookout was my favourite, with it’s unique swamp location, barely touched by the nuclear bombs, and interesting storyline. And The Pitt was my least favourite, though still well above the quality of the DLC in New Vegas.

In New Vegas, we have four DLC packs, instead of the five in Fallout 3. I maintain that I prefer quality over quantity, so I didn’t complain from the start. But neither really rocked my boat. Maybe I felt less invested, because I find the world of New Vegas less intriguing to begin with, but regardless I should have had some investment.

The first two I played were Dead Money and Lonesome Road. The former annoyed me so much, I considered dropping out of the game entirely. Nothing else in both games gave me this feeling, ever, but this story was uninteresting, and the location was highly unappealing. I take it it was the intention to look unappealing, but it should not be revolting or appalling. I was relieved to finally finish and return to the Mojave.

The latter started very promising, in what looked like an abandoned nuclear missile silo. It was slowly paced and there were very few enemies. It almost seemed like this was created so the player would get invested in the story and atmosphere. A mostly non-combat DLC to teach us more about the world. But things quickly turned around once I progressed and got out of the silo. More combat, a mysterious figure that I couldn’t care less about on the radio, and nothing innovative in terms of world building. Like an Olympic diver performing a perfect reverse two-and-a-half somersault and landing flat on his stomach; promising, yet disappointing.

Then there were two more: Honest Hearts and Old World Blues. The latter had an interesting world in which scientists were isolated in a crater full of interesting locations, where not-so-ethical experiments had been performed. The story was decent and the “fifties-mad-scientist” vibe was fun, but after having been let down by most of the rest of the game, I still didn’t enjoy it as much as I probably should have.

 

Which brings me to Honest Hearts. Set in Utah, an area barely touched by the nuclear war of before, it had a decent setting. That part reminded me of the Point Lookout DLC from Fallout 3. What’s the story like? I couldn’t tell you. I beat it and I have no idea what it was about. How’s that possible? I’ll tell you: poor game design.

Let’s go back to Old World Blues (and in essence, every other map in Fallout for that mattar) for a second. Fallout has always been about exploring, as have all the Elder Scrolls games been. You could freely walk around the map and explore. You’d find new locations and some gave me new side quests, but none of them interfered with the main storyline of the game or any of its DLC.

(Map of Fallout 3, with all discoverable locations)

In Honest Hearts, I immediately became confused when the party I was travelling with all died within two minutes of arrival, and not ten minutes after first being introduced to them. I failed about half a dozen quests because of that, so I decided to load my previous save and try again. They all died again and the same thing happened where I failed a bunch of quests. Slightly aggravated and confused, I decided to look up if I was doing something wrong. Turned out it was a scripted event and could not be prevented, which means it was part of the main storyline.

Now why would I fail half a dozen quests for that? Why would the developers give me the impression that all the members in my party had little side quests they could’ve given me? The only quest remaining right now, was (verbatum) “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”, pointing at a location all the way in the utmost North-Eastern corner of the map, with me all the way down South.

Everything felt like this was created by a fan or something, not by the actual developers. A mod, maybe. The writing and phrasing of the quests felt off and confusing. And then, a colossal error in judgement… The maps in the DLC are usually not that big, with thirty or so locations, allowing you to explore them in only a few hours. So as I often did, I explored the whole region first. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Especially considering the only quest available right now was “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”

This has never been an issue. EVER. Not in Point Lookout, not in Old World Blues, not in any of the huge maps of the main storyline of the game. On my travels through the map of Honest Hearts, I encountered a few NPCs who had specific names, not just “Raider” or something else vague. Usually, these are people who are important in some (side) quest. Now in the main game, or any the other DLC packs, if you encounter a place where you find someone with a specific name, they will rarely attack you before engaging you in conversation. This makes sense. It allows you to get involved in some quest or back out of the situation, without killing that person and locking yourself out of a quest.

Not in Honest Hearts, though. I encountered two or three people with an actual name, who all attacked me on sight. I had little choice but to retaliate. They didn’t have any important items on them, like notes are keys to something, so at first I figured they were just minor characters. Why would I assume otherwise, when this game and its predecessor have never worked like that? I figured wrong. They were vital characters; leaders of local tribes. So when I finally explored the whole map and recovered the map of Zion Canyon, my screen went black. I thought the game crashed for a second, until a video started playing about how I had influenced Zion by killing these characters. Tribes disbanded, influences changed, and so on. It talked about everything I had done and I hadn’t done anything yet but explore and recover a map!

FNV

I can’t be the only one who explored before continuing the quest and be surprised by a sudden cut-off. Guess what, turns out I’m not. Turns out more people were kind of angry and confused. Turns out that in the beginning of the story, right after your party members have been killed, a character important to the storyline is somewhere behind or among the attackers and shoots one of them in the back (on the picture above marked with a red box). Me, being all worked up because of the battle, not realising he’s important and since he’s some distance away, I shoot him down. Since this is in the middle of a fight with half a dozen of people at the same time, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that he had a specific name. Killing him causes his tribe to turn hostile and in turn creates a ripple effect throughout the whole community of tribes, causing their leaders to attack me on sight too.

I guess, “technically”, it’s my fault for not paying attention to every single person on screen during a battle and thinking “Ooh, is he an enemy or someone important?”. I apologise for being kind of busy fighting for my life while bullets whiz around my head. I also apologise for having been confused by the demise of my recently acquainted party members, including the leader, who I though would be integral to the story and with me for the most part of the game. I should have played this open-world game more linearly, and I’m equally sorry I could not resist the urge to explore first, rather than ignore the world the developers have so painstakingly created around me, and just hurry through the quests.

Oh wait, no I’m not. This is crap and they should be ashamed.

EDIT: This, of course, is not the worst DLC ever and I’m sure plenty of people enjoyed it, but it felt really frustrating, and I do maintain the beginning of this DLC is highly confusing from the beginning and that little mistake at the beginning ruined the whole storyline for me. That’s what bothers me most and it’s poor design.

Gaming Nostalgia: Skipper and Skeeto 1 – Tales from paradise park

Wikipedia entry

512ZFPC4MCLAs a kid, I played a lot of children’s and educative games. Well, not all the time of course, but I have a lot of fond memories of it. When I went to MiseryLC’s place the other day, he was actually so kind to lend me his copy of “Skipper en Skeeto 1 – Pretpark” which translates to “Skipper and Skeeto 1 – Funfair”. It’s a very nostalgic game for us both, and I decided to write an article about it. So yeah, here we go! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and or the content of this article. 

Rare game

61QY3X94DTLIf you are from America and you haven’t heard from this game, I won’t blame you. The creator of this game is actually from Denmark. While there is an English version, I grew up with a version in my mother tongue. I actually only just found out what the name of the game is in English.

I have fond memories of actually acting out this game with my sister. We hid objects to solve puzzles around the house and we played out the story with our own characters and objects.

Sadly enough, my copy got lost one day and I forgot about the game. After a couple of years, I started to play another game from my childhood again: Freddy Fish. Then, I wanted to play this game again. So, I went on a search on the internet to find a copy of this game. Then I learned how much this game went under the radar. I found various versions of this game in the original language, but I wasn’t able to find it in a language I could understand.

New copy

61AHHC15BXLIt’s a shame to admit that I haven’t played my “new” copy yet. I really should do that and write a sort of (quick) review of this game.

While the boxed version is extremely hard to find, the more common version you would find in Belgium is actually a version that was given away for free with a Dutch magazine for females. It still exists to this day. It’s called Libelle, and it’s full with topics ladies would read from the age of 18 and up.

It came in a jewel case with a little booklet telling you about how to install and the warranty. The usual stuff. Thankfully, the magazine hasn’t placed their logo all over the jewel case or disc (or in-game even.) The logo of the magazine is just in the top left corner once, and that’s it. Nicely done.

There are 11 mini-games in this game. All these games are optional and you don’t need to play them. But all the games are educational, for example, if you would click on the globe that you see in the screenshot (in-game of course), you would play a geographical quiz where you needed to guess where certain countries are. I actually remember some of them vaguely while writing this article. This is quite mindblowing if you realize that you haven’t played this game around over 15 years.

Wrapping up

skippershouse

While I have memories of the sequel of this game, I think I said mostly everything I wanted to talk about of this game. It’s always difficult to write these articles since you want to write a quite in-depth look about a childhood game you remember, but there isn’t enough content for that.

While I could talk about the animation, voice-acting and other things, I think I will save that for the review I’m going to write when I have replayed this game.

 I wish I played more entries in the series or even bought more of them, since they are now quite rare and unrated. They are quite well done educational games. I even dare say that they rival the quality of Humongous Entertainment! So yeah. I hope you enjoyed reading this short article about Skipper and Skeeto. I also hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then game on and take care~

Gamer’s Thoughts – Game Nostalgia: The good old 3D-shooters

HereticWhen I was younger, I found a website that allowed me to play demo versions of popular old DOS-games. From that website I got introduced to games like Heretic, Doom, Duke Nukem, and various other games. Somehow, Wolfenstein 3D was my favorite. I used to play the first few levels over and over again. Then I discovered Heretic, I fell even more in love with that game than Wolfenstein, since it started to speak to me on a personal level. I was always interested in a realistic-ish world with some (or a lot of) fantasy elements. Anyways, I’m rambling on, let’s talk about some old 3D shooter games and let’s get extremely nostalgic. I hope you guys and girls enjoy this read. And as always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the games I covered and/or the content of this article.  

Wolfenstein 3D

hqdefault

So, most of the times DooM is considered to be the first “real” 3D shooter. Which isn’t true. Wolfenstein came earlier.

I actually finished this game on the GBA. The only two negatives off that version are a lack of a map and no music. For the rest, it’s a really nice port of the game to play on the go.

I recently started to play it on PC, thanks to Steam. And with the music, I’m not really enjoying it that much honestly. The lack of music actually added to the creepy atmosphere. You are trying to escape a nazi prison.

On the other hand, I could see where people are coming from. A soundtrack like that could motivate you to finish the game and try to escape successfully.  It’s all up to your own preference.

The expansion pack/sequel were amazing as well. While I haven’t beaten those games, I’m really excited to see what it throws next at me.

Heretic

Heretic_-_DOS_-_USA

One of my most favorite shooters from the ’90. As I explained in my introduction, this game is one that I adore.

I’m not really sure what the story is behind this game, but to be frankly honest, I don’t really care. The concept is just extremely fun. While I adore stories in my games, to the extent that I sometimes don’t play games that lack a story, this game is a big exception.

I used to play the demo over and over again. Once I got caught in school since I slipped in a computer lab just to play this game and show it to some friends. Man, the teachers were pissed at me. Yet, it gave me great memories.

It was one of those games that my parents didn’t want to see me play, since I discovered it when I was around 10 years old. Shooters aren’t meant for those ages. So, yeah.

It’s also the game that introduced me to the interesting world of cheating. I was stuck in a level, and I looked up online what I should do next. When I read a walkthrough, I mostly read the part where I’m at, and I read a part of the solution. That way I still feel I have beaten the game on my own.

But at the bottom of the walkthrough, there was a section called “cheats”. My young mind couldn’t resist after reading it and trying it out in game. Now-a-days, I rarely cheat. Only when I have beaten a game to mess around with it.

Duke Nukem 3D

duke-nukem-3d

I heard rumors on the play ground about this game. We are in the late ’90 where computers barely got into the educational system. The rumor was that a kid saw a teacher play some Duke Nukem.

As a kid, I was into Pokémon. When they explained and tried to convince me that it was a shooter and it was really cool, I actually didn’t really care.

It was only later that I realized what I missed out on. An amazing shooter with, now outdated, one liners that still get a smile on my face. My favorite is one of the most famous ones. Finish the quote when you know how it ends.

“I’m here to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and…” I’m all out of gum.

Yet, the truth is that I haven’t finished any Duke game to date. I have played a lot of them, but I play it at those times when I’m waiting between two big releases. Never a great idea, is it not?

Conclusion

Alright, I might have picked out three of the more popular old-school 3D shooters. Yet, those are the ones I grew up with.

Old-school 3D schooters have such an amazing charm to them. With hidden passages and secrets, they are something different. Rarely, I see games copy the formula today. A game where not every wall is solid and where you get a score card if you killed all the enemies in a certain stage, if you found all the secrets and things like that.

I have played more 3D shooters than the three I talked about. It’s just that those three are the ones I have the most fond memories off. Maybe one day I might write a follow-up article to this one where I talk about some different old school 3D shooters.

The thing is, I would love to review these games, yet I feel that I’m not the right person for that. I focus more on adventure, puzzle and story driven games. And I haven’t seen a lot of story driven shooters. I do know they exist, but I haven’t played them.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article right here. I hope you enjoyed reading it and my apologies for not writing an article for two weeks. Thankfully a buddy of mine actually wrote some articles in my place to give you guys something to read. Thanks man, they were nice reads.

Before I ramble on, it might be possible that in the future you will see an article of one of these games where I take a more in-depth look in to these games. So stay tuned. ~

Review #038: Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal (GBC) ~ Pokémon 2

Pokémon_box_art_-_Gold_VersionWikipedia entry

I have an objection. This game can actually be played on the original gameboy. Well, only the Gold & Silver versions. Crystal has to be played on the good old original gameboy. Anyways, you might have seen this one coming. Since I played this game a lot as a kid, and I’m writing the final articles for the GB(C) month, well, why not talk about this game? It’s one of the biggest in everybody’s top 10 lists. It will appear each and every time. So, yeah. Without further ado, I’ll review the first Pokémon game I actually finished. As always, feel free to leave a comment on the content of this article and or the game. 

Story

grass-hidingI have a big surprise for you guys. My best friend was recently playing this game, so why not ask him to do a co-op review of this game? So, let’s both give our opinions. He played Pokémon Crystal and I played Pokémon Gold.

Mizard: I think that some people are wrong. Some people think that the end of the game is beating the elite 4. Yet, this is the mid-way point in the game. Team Rocket is still present in the game, but they aren’t the big bad.  There is actually no real story. The game is just a series of side quests, with a vague goal.

Some area’s are totally optional and can be skipped without hindering your progress.

Me: The story is just lacking. Miz asked a valid question, is there actually any story? After some discussing, we both agreed that the game is just side-quests with a vague goal. As soon as you reach Kanto, the amount of side quests go down.

The game was first supposed to be a sequel of Pokémon Blue and Red, but somehow it evolved into Pokémon Gold and Silver. Truth to be told, the fact that there are side-quests, is an improvement over Pokémon Red & Blue, they were completely absent in that game.

Music and sound

Mizard: It’s pretty cozy, but when you ride your bike a lot… It can get annoying and repetitive quickly. I don’t like the PokéCenter tune. The cries of the game are pretty sweet. Steelix and Espeon are one of my favorites.

Me: I agree with Miz, but the sound when a pokémon is on low health. That’s extremely annoying. I’m so glad that they somewhat fixed this in the 3DS releases. The surf theme is actually one of my favorite themes.

Graphics, (world) design and animation

gfs_15878_2_26_midMizard: The animation is pretty basic, but that’s due to the gameboy’s limitations. It does give a different atmosphere. Because it’s all similar, nothing is bad. Graphically, the game is pretty sweet. With the limited resources, they did manage to give you the right feel.

The first few routes are just too big and too empty compared to all the other routes, while the other routes get really lively. At some routes, you can barely evade the grass.

Me: Something I didn’t like is that the battle animations where exclusive to Pokémon Silver. They were included in Pokémon Crystal. But I played Pokémon Gold. Why didn’t they include them there? I agree that the animation is basic, but it serves as stepping stone towards the newer generation.

Some puzzles still work on my nerves. The ice sliding puzzle is one of the worst. While it’s a fun concept and great puzzle, I got stuck several times. Even worse is the time that you had three switches to open doors in the basement of the mall. When Miz and I were discussing our opinions for this review, it turns out that we both don’t like that puzzle.

Gameplay & controls

Pokemon_Crystal_Version_GBC_ScreenShot4

Miz: The controls are pretty solid, but the bike controls can be pretty annoying to control sometimes. Compared to newer generations, the controls aren’t that good. But we can’t blame the game for that, since the gameboy color was limited.

Some items are totally overpriced. Like a Repel. It’s a handy item, but it doesn’t last long.

The overall gameplay didn’t get much new things, but they tweaked a lot of features. The item holding for example was a nice addition.

The improved breeding is also a great update in my opinion.

Me: Well, I clearly remember that you need to restart each HM before you can use it’s action. This made the stone sliding puzzle in the Ice Path tedious.

The addition of the XP bar is one of my favorites. I can finally see how long it will take before my Pokémon levels up. Another nice addition where the berries. You can either make Pokéballs out of them or use them to heal your Pokémon.

The intern clock and the events is just a fun addition. But something I didn’t like was that some legendary Pokémon can only be caught on certain days. Speaking about the internal clock, the biggest update to the game is the day & night cycle. It has effect on the wild Pokémon. According to Miz-, it’s more occurring in the Crystal version.

Difficulty

Mizard: This is a weird beast. When you rush through it, it might give you trouble. But if you play it normally, the game can get easy.

Me: I can’t add anything special to Miz-‘s statement, but the cheat/glitch of cloning is just a cheap way out.

Postgame

Both: There is barely anything to do anymore. Apart from the Battle Tower in Crystal, there is nothing to do.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Difficulty can be selected by playing.

– The music can become repetitive/annoying.

– The unneeded calls of trainers.

– Boring postgame.

– Kanto has some wasted potential.

The good:

+ High replay value.

+ Good animation, world design for it’s time.

+ Day & night cycle.

+ Better story then the original.

Final thoughts:

Miz finds that this game is a long term arcade-ish game. Here and there is a challenge but you mostly continue to play. Most of the times you can set your own challenge. 

To me, it’s the biggest Pokémon game out there. While the game isn’t perfect, it does start to show it’s age. But honestly, it’s so well crafted, that the negatives can be overlooked for the hours of fun it provides.

Anyways, I think we mentioned everything. There might be some things that we didn’t mention that are for you guys and girls to discover. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Until the next one! Take care~

Score Miz: 82/100

Score NekoJonez: 80/100

Our score: 81/100

The Aware Character: S1 C1 Episode 2: Anger and the doorbell

The Aware Character.

A (short) story written by: NekoJonez

© 2014 Arpegi – All Rights Reserved.

Season 1: Discovery of the Generic Tales.

Chapter 1: The Old Plot – Episode 2: Anger and the doorbell.

His mind went in overdrive. “Nope, nope, nope. NOPE!” George thought. He couldn’t believe it. He thought that it was another trick of her to get more money out of him.

He threw himself on his bed and planted his face down on his pillow and started screaming out of anger. “No way! Sophie has to be lying! BITCH!” George shouted. After a few minutes, the doorbell rang. The loud sounds where going through the living room.

George got out of bed, tried to stop crying and opened the door. Nobody was there. He slammed his door shut with brute force. Only a small moment he was afraid that he used so much force that one of the windows near his front door could crack.

Then the doorbell rang again. George directly opened the door, and once more, nobody was there. Not even a soul. He was puzzled. How could somebody ring at a door and hide so quickly?

It was on that moment that George’s inspiration went wild. He suddenly got ideas for his book. He closed the door calmly this time and he walked towards his desk. He took place on his chair and booted up his computer.

His chair was one he couldn’t throw away. Long ago, on a holiday job, George had to look after a group of children and entertain them. As a prank they painted his chair in various colors of paint. Nearly every color you can think of. The staff decided that George should keep the chair as a souvenir.

The computer booted faster than usual. “That virus I removed last night… Possibly it slowed the booting up down.” That was the only thought that went through his mind about it.

George opened his usual set of programs and directly started typing away. Chapter after chapter, it was as easy as breathing. The story was writing itself. Somehow his invisible guest gave him a stream of ideas. He compared it to the story when the Holy Spirit helped the apostles when Jezus died. George kept writing until he fell asleep on his de

~ Dream sequence starts here. ~

George got up from his chair. He looked around and saw an empty room. A lamp hanging down from the ceiling was the only light source in the room. The atmosphere in the room felt like a questioning room from some big investigation group.

In front of him sat a man, just of out the light. George couldn’t see a lot from the man. There was one thing that confirmed his gender. The man was singing a lullaby. Not any lullaby, one that he wrote in one of his horror novels.

George was confused. He knew that he was dream but how could two stories cross paths in a way he never intended? The story he was currently writing was a detective thriller. “It has nothing to do with the horror story I wrote. That was about a man singing you to sleep. Killing their victims… in… their… dreams….”

< \ ~ TO BE CONTINUED ~ / >

What is this?

Recently I wanted to start writing my own story. And this is the format I’ll release it in. Compare it to my creepypasta’s but this story will continue.

When I find the time, I’m writing one Word page for each episode. I know this is short but keep in mind that my exams and such are upcoming… So yeah, I need to have something that I can publish quickly.

The second episode has been written already. I don’t have a plan in mind how regular the episodes will be. I’ll try to publish at least one each month.

I hope you guys enjoy. Feel free to leave in the comments some suggestions to where I should take the story. I have a main plot line planned but I love playing with input of my readers.

Don’t worry, this side project won’t take over my usual gaming content. It will also serve as a sort of variety for me. I was getting afraid that I started to get burned out on writing game reviews. But since I started writing this story, I found my motivation back.

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope to see you in the next episode.

Update: I know that the story can use a ton of improvements. Now, I got some very amazing feedback for some people on my forum. The feedback will be more present in the next episodes.

The Aware Character: S1 C1 Episode 1: Introduction

The Aware Character.

A (short) story written by: NekoJonez

© 2014 Arpegi – All Rights Reserved.

Season 1: Discovery of the Generic Tales.

Chapter 1: The Old Plot – Episode 1: Introduction.

“I can’t write this story.” he said. He was staring at his desk. Checking if anything was being placed on his piece of paper. He recently broke up with his girlfriend. They broke up after he found out that she was actually a lesbian. She was using him to get money for shopping sprees and various other costly activities. He had enough of it one day, when a letter made him crash down into reality.

It was a letter from the bank. He was nearly broke. The letter was to tell him that his spending pattern was irregular. Of course, his girlfriend stole his credit card and bought it empty.

The man is going by the name of George. He was a rather short man. His face was that of a strict but understanding and kind teacher. Those teachers that are extremely strict yet friendly and make you feel comfortable.

He had brown hair, for now. Some guys have something that’s rather famine. His thing was that he sometimes painted his hair into different colors. He was actually planning to paint it black. Since that would match his mood better.

The break-up with his girlfriend ripped him apart. His new white shirt was getting soaked due to the tears. He cried so much that his shirt was nearly see-through. At least the middle part was.

He pulled his jeans up, tied his leather shoes again and went to the bathroom. He took a long shower. The shampoo and the water, it did his mind well. The steam was filling his bathroom.

The bathroom was one of the rooms that he didn’t spend much on when he built his house. It only contained a shower, toilet, washing table and a cupboard. The light was haunted or so he was told. When he got friends over, the light bulb would away burst. George blamed the bad technician that worked on the bathroom. He tried to call that technician various times before without success.

He walked out of the shower. The towel was thrown on to the washing table. “I will clean … Why the fack am I talking out loud again?” George said. He questioned his sanity. Many people and friends started to actually leave him behind.

But one night, his ex-girlfriend called. She was pregnant of him.

< \ ~ TO BE CONTINUED ~ / >

What is this?

Recently I wanted to start writing my own story. And this is the format I’ll release it in. Compare it to my creepypasta’s but this story will continue.

When I find the time, I’m writing one Word page for each episode. I know this is short but keep in mind that my exams and such are upcoming… So yeah, I need to have something that I can publish quickly.

The second episode has been written already. I don’t have a plan in mind how regular the episodes will be. I’ll try to publish at least one each month.

I hope you guys enjoy. Feel free to leave in the comments some suggestions to where I should take the story. I have a main plot line planned but I love playing with input of my readers.

Don’t worry, this side project won’t take over my usual gaming content. It will also serve as a sort of variety for me. I was getting afraid that I started to get burned out on writing game reviews. But since I started writing this story, I found my motivation back.

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope to see you in the next article!

(16+) First Impression: Overlord (PC) ~ For you, master.

Overlord_pc_uk

This game is just Pikmin for adults. Nah, that’s a lie. This game has some Pikmin elements but the game is way different. It’s a game that I tried to finish many times before but somehow other games distracted me. But now I told myself that I have this game finished by end of the summer. I have so many games in my collection I want to finish in order to make a proper review. In this game you play as the bad guy that needs to restore his (or her) tower. Which first impressions did this game leave on me? That’s all what this article is about. Let’s cut the introduction short this time and let’s dive right into Overlord and my thoughts on it now. 

Mainstream?

Many of my classmates and friends pick the latest games on the shelves and talk about them if they are the only games that are out there. It’s so disappointing how games like these don’t get a lot of recognition.

The first impression was a good impression. It made a big flaw in the start with the menu, but that’s forgiven. The way how this game handles it’s tutorial really makes up for it.

But I like to play games, regardless in how old they are. And for a game from 2006, this game really holds up. The story doesn’t really feel developed at this point. Actually, it feels like it’s a long string of quests. It works though but I really miss an overall story in the game. But the missions itself are actually really enjoyable.

Where this game truly shines is the gameplay. The game is mostly liniair in the area’s but you can go where you want as long as you can fight through the area or you have the right minions. This game really feels open. Plus, there are two styles you can play in this game. Corrupted and hero.

For you, master.

images

You don’t feel like giving the food to the villagers? Sure, you can keep it and strike fear in their harts. But are you more of a gentle person, then you can give the food back.

One thing that breaks and makes the game are the minions. The concept is quite unique in how it’s handled here, but they can be so extremely big derps. Like they don’t run where you order them unless you move back and forth in front of the place. This happens sometimes and got fixed and fixed each patch that came out but it is far from perfect. But it doesn’t break the game till an unplayable point. It just leads to frustration and sometimes loss of minions.

Now to think of it, there isn’t an update button in the game as far as I know. I have to look into that for my review maybe.

What I still find funny is how the developers added a small map inside the gamebox. It’s such a neat extra as game collector.

The game can be a challenge. Not only because of the derpy AI but because of the enemies that are actually smarter and stronger then you might think. I truly advise you all to sometimes farm out life force. A minion more or less can make a huge difference.

Beautiful

overlord_puzzle2To this day, I’m amazed in how pretty this game looks. Everything looks so nice, detailed and amazingly animated. It’s truly advised that you play this game on a computer that can handle this game. The lag otherwise will ruin your experience.

The music, soundeffects and voice work is something I really applaud this game for already. You truly feel as a bad guy. And your minions will cheer in support for you if you burn somebody alive.

The enemies are partially generic but some have an amazing twist. Like there are, yes, unicorns in the game. But they are “Bloody Unicorns”. Yes, that’s how they are called.

Well, I know this is extremely short but I think I’m going to leave it here. Consider this as a sort of teaser of what I think of the game right now. Plus I’m quite busy with finishing my exams these days and I wanted to write an article about this game. So, I did. Once I finished this game, be sure to find a review on here. I might also review the expansion pack together with this game. But for now, happy gaming. And leave in the comments what your first impression was of this game.