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LaterLevels’ QOTM – January 2019 – The Ultimate Game: Themes

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For a couple of years now, LaterLevels is organizing a question of the month. In 2017, you were able to send in a small section to be featured in the article. You were limited to the amount of characters you had for a tweet. In 2018, every month a writer got a challenge to write an article centered around a question asked by LaterLevels. This year, LaterLevels is going “to develop” the best and/or ultimate game. In each month, another part of the game will be created. The idea is that other bloggers write up an article with their thoughts and ideas on that section and submit it to the post of that month. At the end of the month, the best is chosen by the already existing development team and will be invited to join the secret Discord to judge the entries in the following months. If you want to read more about the rules in depth, you can read the post of LaterLevels here. Now that I have explained all that, it’s time for my entry. In January, the setting and theme will be decided without deciding the story and such. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the question in the comment section down below.

The challenge and my background

yoyo_logo_512Now, I don’t want to brag but I have various ideas to make a very interesting game. In the past, I actually created some arcade clones with YoYo Game Maker. I’m not going to republish them since I lost the source files and I want to change so much for them to get republished.

alleyway_boxartBut, here is the thing. When I was developing a game, I always started with the mechanics and gameplay. For example, when I wanted to create a Break-Out clone, I actually started out with recreating the Gameboy game Alleyway. Now, I felt myself too limited in level design, so I started to look further. Then, I found an asset pack with different blocks, a ball and various other sprites with a sea theme. So, I totally reskinned the game and I made up a story about a submarine stuck in a big magical coral reef trying to find its way out.

warioware-diy-top-625x352Another example is when I wanted to remake those simple flash and phone games that you need to tap a ball or an object to keep it from the ground. When I started to make that game, I got some small ideas for other mini-games with the sprites in that asset pack and I started to create a sort of WarioWare inspired game.

Now, you might have noticed that I always talk about an asset pack. This is a pack where various sprites, sound effects, music, backgrounds… are provided to game developers. In almost all of my games I created, I used asset packs. I can barely draw a decent stick figure let alone design various level elements. Also, when I created those games; I was 12 years old. So, I didn’t know how copyright and licensing worked. That’s another reason why I’m not going to republish the games.

Anyways, let’s end this story time about my history here and let’s get back to answer LaterLevel’s question. The reason why I’m talking about my hobbyist game development past is the fact I mentioned earlier. I mainly focused on interesting and unique gameplay. The setting and themes would come later. While that is not the best approach, but it was the approach my young teenage mind took. And because LaterLevels didn’t want too many story details, the challenge got even harder.

81i7ndliszl._sx385_I also messed around in RPG Maker. And I always had one or two chapters of the story written before I started to create the world and setting the characters lived in. I had a general idea of the world but when I write, I love to let the readers create the world for themselves instead of possibly boring them with the millionth description of how a fantasy castle town looked like. In addition to that, the fact that I don’t describe a scene gives me liberty to use the setting to my advantage. That way I can bend the world to the story and my needs. But it makes continuity much more challenging.

So, the ultimate video game. What could be a setting and/or a theme of the game? Well, I have a few suggestions without giving too much plot details. Let’s take a look at that.

Themes and settings

First of all, when you are talking about the best game, I think that the theme should be one of variety. A power fantasy in another world would be extremely easy and generic. Most RPG’s use a silent character you can name yourself or has the most generic dialogue that can be used for each RPG main character. To be honest, this is a generalization. There are exceptions of course.

91fbW6yu4TL.jpgA perfect video game needs to grab you and pull you into the story, world and setting. When I was brainstorming for ideas I noticed that most of my favorite story driven games take place in one location. For example, in Corpse Party, you explore one haunted school and the associated buildings. In Another Code: R, you explore the vacation resort where your father works. And as a final example, in the first two Bioshock games you explore Rapture.

swordartonlineSuddenly, various things started to click in my mind. I got my eureka moment. I got it when I remembered the story of Sword Art Online. In that series, people are trapped in an online VR-game. In order to escape, they have to beat the game. The catch is, when they die in the game, they die in real life. In that series, the game takes place in a huge fantasy open world with various dungeons and quests.

Now, what if we take the idea of Sword Art Online and expand it for the best game, but with a huge twist? First of all, we can decide if we create the game in VR or not later. My suggestion is that the best video game takes place in a sort of fantasy open world with castles and towns that provide a lot of quests and things to do.

no game no ligeThe twist is that everything in the world happens with games. Think of the mechanics of the No Game No Life series, where every dispute is settled with a bet who wins a game of for example chess, rock/paper/scissors, poker or even more extreme examples. Now, it would an interesting idea if this idea is implemented into a real game we can play.

Back to the story of Sword Art Online, in order for those who are trapped to escape they have to beat all bosses in a huge tower. Now, what if each floor in this tower is replaced with a challenge in another genre and that you have to beat different challenges in that genre before you can progress.

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Think about the overall story of Retro Game Challenge. In that game, you get sent back to the past and in order for you to return, you have to beat various challenges in retro games. These challenges range from beaten the first three levels of a top down shooter to performing some unique tricks in a sports game.

So, the setting would be a great fantasy open world with one central tower the players have to beat in order to climb the leader boards. On each floor, another mini game or challenge is provided. To avoid people getting frustrated at being stuck on one floor, I think it would be wise to give the player two or three options on the floor. For example, a fighting game challenge, an RPG challenge or a rhythm game challenge.

51vk2fckjhlMaybe it’s an interesting idea to also have separate dimensions where players specialize in a certain genre or style of gameplay. Compare it a bit to the main characters in Kingdom Hearts traveling between various Disney stories to solve issues there.

The theme of the game can be either competition or teamwork. Various guilds can possibly form to aid players to easily beat the certain genres. On the other hand, I totally see certain players compete with each other to be the best player in a certain genre.

Being one of the best players in a certain genre can give advantages in the game. In terms of balance, each genre should have a “contrast genre”. That way we avoid players getting overpowered because they mastered too many genres. For example, the players who master a fast paced genre like rhythm games shouldn’t be able to easily level up their stats in a more slower based genre like grand strategy.

Do you see it now? Just trying to find a setting and or a theme for a game is tricky for me. Like I said earlier, I don’t create worlds too often and I leave them as vague as I can so I can bend them to the will of the gameplay and story. As soon as I got a certain idea, I start thinking about how the world actually works and how the world is balanced. And then we get eerily close to game design and how the game plays.

When I cut out all my gameplay & story suggestions, my idea for the ultimate game’s setting and theme is this. A big open world game with various challenges like dungeons and (side)quests, possibly with different universes. In the center of it all, is a huge tower that serves as a leader board for the solo and or clans that play the game.

Closing statement

And with that, I think it’s a good idea to end this article here. Otherwise I might restart giving my ideas and suggestions on how the game will play. Now, if you want to know if my idea has won or not, you should follow OverThinkerY, since on 31st January 2019, they will reveal the winner on his blog.

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If you want to join in on this challenge, don’t wait. Check out LaterLevels blog for the February challenge.

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

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10 Games I’m looking forward to playing in 2018

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2018 is almost here. So, it’s time to look forward to what the new year will bring. Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at my favorite games of 2017. Ah, next year will be an interesting year. A year where I’m planning to delve into the Nintendo Switch library. So, what games that release next year, am I looking forward too. That’s what this article is about. Also, note that this list isn’t in any sort of order, so yeah. Please know that this is my list, so if you think that a game is missing, feel free to talk about it in the comments or feel free to talk in the comments about the games I selected. In any case, here we go! 

#10 – Age Of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC) (Release: 2018)

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The original Age Of Empires game fills me with nostalgic feelings. While I’m not the best-skilled player when it comes to RTS-games, I do enjoy playing them quite a lot.

2017 was an amazing year to be a fan of the Age Of Empires franchise. Not only did got the announcement of this game releasing next year, we also got the confirmation that Age Of Empires 4 is under development.

The hype is real for me. I can’t wait to see what the new games will bring. So, I’m sure keeping an eye out for this title!

#9 – SystemShock (PC) – (Release: Q2 2018)

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I have always been told that the System Shock games where the inspiration for the amazing Bioshock series.

I always wanted to play these games but didn’t have the time for it. The thing is, I even have System Shock 2 in my Steam library.

Even when Bioshock and System Shock aren’t the same game, I’m quite excited to see where these claims come from. In addition to that, I read a lot about this game and that made me only more interested in playing this game. So, I’m quite curious how this game is going to turn out!

#8 – Secret of Mana (PC) (Release: 15 February 2018)

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I have played the first bit of Secret Of Mana several times. I think it’s quite a good game.

I can’t say why, but I always get distracted by other games and forget about this game.

So, that’s why I’m looking forward to the release of the remake of this game. Now I’ll have an excuse to really play this game with improved visuals. Not that I dislike the 16-bit visuals, I’m a retro game collector after all.

Besides, I have to come clean and say that I don’t own the SNES cartridge and bought the game on Android. Yeah, not the best idea ever, I know. So, that’s the main reason why I’m excited to play the remake of this game. A way I can play it with better controls than touch controls.

#7 – Shin Megami Tensei – Strange Journey Redux (3DS) (Release: Early 2018)

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Since I played Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, I wanted to try out a game from the Shin Megami Tensei series. While I was lucky to buy a few games into my collection from garage sales and digital sales, I still didn’t have the time to really play one of these games.

Also, I was looking for the DS title to start with. Since I played that game at a friends house one day and wanted to start with the start of series on the handhelds.

That’s why I’m so happy that an updated port is coming to the 3DS. I actually pre-ordered this game for a while now. So, if I didn’t put this game on my list, I would have been disappointed with myself.

#6 – Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS) (Release: 2018)

3DS_RHCP_2D_PEGI SLarge

And my list of games “I still want to play but didn’t have the time for” continues with another RPG. I have played Radiant Historia for a bit and actually got distracted with other games.

This 3DS remake isn’t just a port of the DS game. It will have an additional plot, new features and music, voice acting and more.

In addition to that, it’s published by the same publisher who published Etrian Odyssey V here in Europe. So, I’m hyped!

#5 – Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) (Release: 9 February 2018)

Dragon_quest_builders_art.jpgThis games has been on my “to play” list since it released. I found out about this game when I was looking around for Minecraft-styled games.

Now, next year, this game will be ported to the Nintendo Switch. And not only that, the sequel for this game will release for the Switch as well.

Consider me a happy camper now, since I enjoy the Dragon Quest games quite a lot and I enjoy myself some Minecraft as well. This cross over works quite well when I look to the various let’s plays I have seen.

I didn’t watch a ton of content on this game, since I wanted to avoid spoiling the whole game for me. Especially now that I know that this game is coming to the Nintendo Switch.

#4 – Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings (Switch) (Release: 27 March 2018)

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When I look to the teasers for this game, I get the impression that the gameplay will be similar to Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.

I do realize there will be differences, but I think it’s too late. I already made up my mind. This game is one that I would love to have in my collection.

This game looks right up my alley and I think that this will be one of my first Switch games I play in 2018, since it comes out right around the date I’m planning to buy a Switch.

So, if this game would come bundled with the Switch, I think I won’t hesitate for a second. This game will become a part of my collection for sure!

#3 – Ace Attorney (Switch) (Release: 2018)

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While there aren’t a lot of concrete details for this game, there are more rumors and speculations that this will happen.

What’s even more, in the article I linked, there are reports of Capcom planning THREE Ace Attorney titles for the Switch and to release them all in 2018.

It’ll be quite interesting to see what happens in 2018 for our Ace Attorney. If remakes/ports will come out for the Nintendo Switch or new games. I wouldn’t mind any port of games, but I would love Ace Attorney 7 to come in 2018. Or at least a new main game, even when it’s a spin-off. So, please Capcom, make it happen!

#2 – The Swords Of Ditto (Steam) (Release: 2018)

the swords of ditto

When I first saw the trailer for this game, I just fell in love with the charm and art-style this game has.

This game is a RPG where you set out to defeat the evil Mormo. In this Action-RPG you can play solo and co-op. And it’s the “co-op” part that interests me the most. I was looking for a new game to play with my friends and I think this will be the perfect game for us to play.

Just take a look at the Steam Store page and I think you might understand why this game sounds so interesting to play with friends. At least, I think that it’s interesting!

#1 – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PC/Switch) (Release: 2018)

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Ah, the Castlevania series is one of my favorite action games ever made.

While I was afraid for the future of the series, I was quite pleased when I saw that one of the producers of the games is going to create this new game. Koji Igarashi, thank you for doing this!

While I found out about this game after the KickStarter ended, I am still very exited to play this game. So, I’ll be surely looking forward to this game. The only thing that I still have to decide is that I get this game on the Switch or on my PC. Or maybe both, if my wallet allows it.

While I know that this game started it’s live as a KickStarter, I’m praying that this game will not do a “Mighty Number 9” but a “A Hat In Time” and a “Shovel Knight”. Make it a great game guys, feel free to delay it when it needs more polish!

Final thoughts

Besides a few new games, it look like 2018 will most likely be a “catch-up” year for me. I’m mostly interested in ports and remakes to the Switch, PC and 3DS. It might be a good idea to play a bit of of catch-up with my endless list that is called my backlog.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 will have in store for me. Since next year will be a special year for me. I’ll reveal why when the time comes, but for now, let me say that I am looking forward to 2018 and I can’t wait to see what it will throw in my way.

Thank you so much for reading. If you wonder what my favorite games where in 2017, you will have to wait until tomorrow at 8PM Brussels time. It shall be revealed then.

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

 

Creative Christmas #7: Present Time

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And we are back with the Creative Christmas series, a collab I’m doing with LaterLevels. To be honest, during the past two days I was too busy with family parties. So, I was unable to think of a theme for this series. Okay, I have to admit that I thought about it, but I wasn’t able to implement. I thought of one where each article was a page in Santa’s diary, but then I wouldn’t answer for myself. Another idea would be where I would talk about if my answer would be in the naughty or kid side of Santa’s book. Well, maybe with the help of a present I can think of a theme. I got a new Mario shirt and a new compressor to blow out electronic material. But what’s this? Another question about presents for me to answer, let’s take a look! 

Your help must have worked, because it’s now Christmas morning and presents are under the tree! There’s a fancy box with your name on it; which gaming-related item are you hoping is inside?

If I would ever be able to get a certain gaming related item, I would have to divide my answer into two parts. First of all, real existing items. Which game-related items would I want that truly exist?

Besides a boatload of games that I want in my collection and a few consoles I want to have and start collecting for, let say which piece of merchandise do I really want to have?

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For me personally, I would love to have some more merchandise of the Bioshock series. I know that there are some nice looking t-shirts and bags out there.

If you would give me some merch from the Bioshock series, even when I already have it, I would always be happy. The Bioshock series is such a great series that is near and dear to my heart.

The same counts for merch from the Zelda series. I’m in love with the Zelda series and I would love to own a bit more shirts and merch of it. Oh, or the mangas that I don’t own of “the Zelda series” yet would also be a nice gift to get.

Now, there are a few games I know that there is barely any or no official merchandise on the market. But I would love some merch for it anyways. These games include Ace Attorney, Monster Tale, Stella Glow and the Zero Escape series.

Actually, if you ever need to give a gift to me; anything game related merch would do the trick for me. Because I’m a game collector I enjoy getting something game-related. You would make me even happier if you relate it to a game series I like. And you know those series if you read my blog or talk to me.

Now we come to part 2 of my answer. What if I’m able to get a fictional game item in the real world. This is going to be interesting.

You know what would be nuts? If I would be able to get any of the transformation masks for The Legend Of Zelda Majora’s Mask into the real world. Then again, what practical use would it have besides the cool factor? Besides, it wouldn’t be that much fun since I would have to use these while nobody sees me or I would be used for experiments and all that jazz.

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Then I thought about getting the Harp of Ages or the Rod Of Seasons from The Legend Of Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons. It would be so close to reverse the flow of time or change the seasons at will.

While messing with time presents a whole different host of problems, the same can be said for the Rod Of Seasons. If I would be able to change the seasons at will, I might destroy the planet with it. So, that’s not a good idea either. Besides, the rod only seems to work on sawn-off tree trumps and those aren’t around too often in my area.

The notebook from Scribblenauts would be pretty interesting to own as well. I would be able to summon what I want and when I want it. Then again, if this would fall into the wrong hands, dangerous things can happen and we would live in a strange world.

While it would be amazing to have any video game item in the real world, I think it would cause a whole host of other problems that might bring me into greater trouble. If the problems are solvable, you would have to put the practicality into question. Since not everything from the land of video games would have a use in the real world.

So, if I would be able to avoid any trouble, I would love to have the items I listed above these paragraphs. Yet, I think that the answer that was expected in the questions was more the 1st part of this article. I see the second part of this article more as a fun thought expirement.

That’s my answer for today. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

You can find other bloggers their answers here.

Review: Kirby – Planet Robobot (3DS) ~ Kirby Goes High-tech!

kirby_planet_robobot_box_art.jpgOfficial website

Last week, when I was working on the review of Kirby Epic Yarn, I have beaten the newest Kirby game called Kirby Planet Robobot. So, I thought, why not review it. Two Kirby reviews in a row, why not? This game is the 14th main installment in the Kirby series. It’s based on the engine of the previous Kirby game on 3DS called Kirby Triple Deluxe. A game I’m planning to review soon too. In any case, I’m getting off topic. Time to dive into this high-tech Kirby game and let’s see what it’s made off. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on this game and/or the content of this article.

No different planet

Screenshot (56)In this game, Kirby’s home planet gets attacked robots. In contrast to the title of this game, Kirby doesn’t travel to a different planet.

In this entry, the story is a bit disappointing. I’m not saying it’s badly written. It’s badly paced. Apart from the opening scene and some dialogue in some boss fights, the actual story opens up right at the final boss of the game. This is a huge let down in my eyes. Since it feels absent and felt forced into the game. So, there was a lot of missed potential with this game!

Also, you will miss some jokes if you aren’t familiar with the Kirby games. If you don’t know who is who in the Kirby series… Well, some dialogue before the boss fights won’t make a lot of sense.

This game consists out of 6 worlds. Yes, only 6 worlds. Well, six and a half. Since there is a world 7, but that’s the world for the final boss fight. This game is very short in my opinion. I was able to beat this game in under a week. While the Kirby games are known for being easy platformers that kids can get into, this game provided almost no challenge. Also, normally a Kirby game has 7,5 – 8 worlds. I feel that some content is cut here.

The challenge came from trying to collect all the tech cubes. While some are pretty well hidden, others are in plain sight and easy to grab. And when you grab one or two cubes in each level, you are able to get to the final boss.

Speaking of which, I found it quite annoying you were unable to see how many cubes you had to collect in order to open the boss door. You were able to see it when you were right in front of it.

The gameplay in this game is quite similar to Kirby Triple Deluxe with a few changes. Instead of the Super Nova Kirby, you have a Tech Kirby. Kirby that rides a huge enemy robot. In some levels, there is another style of gameplay. When Tech Kirby acquires the Jet power-up, you can fly away and play a sort of side-scrolling shooters. These levels were the most fun in my eyes.

Potential

Kirby-Planet-Robobot-1Like I said previously, the gameplay is quite similar to Kirby Triple Deluxe. So, that means that this game has quite similar controls.

I liked the controls of that game, so I found no issues with the controls of this game. Well, no major issues.

I found the copy ability of Tech Kirby quite annoying to use. You had to stand a certain distance in order for you to copy their ability. That’s the biggest issue I had to with the controls.

Another issue I had with this game is when you sucked up two enemies from which you can copy the ability. In almost every previous Kirby game you got a random power. That random power could also be a different one than the ones you inhaled. In this game, that doesn’t happen. From what I have seen, this game picks the first enemy you inhaled.

The visual presentation of this game is amazing. In this game, you play on Kirby’s home planet that’s invaded by robotic creatures. So, you get a planet where technology is slowly creeping in. And the presentation shows that nicely.

The animation in this game is high quality as well. Not only the animation of the enemies, bosses and everything in the foreground. The animation on the background visuals makes the world come alive and feels real.

Tech Cubes

311314f77344b842a6c28d9415ae7dd2The soundtrack of this game is amazing. With familiar and new tracks, this soundtrack is one I might add to my library.

The sound design is amazing as well. Because I played most of this game on the train to work, I played this game with headphones on. And it helped to pull me into this game.

The UI is quite well designed in my opinion. I have only one minor nitpick. That’s that there is a useless button on the touch screen. That is: “Drop ability.” Since the X-button does the same thing. You use the other buttons anyways, so why tap the button on the touch screen?

Another minor issue is the steps you need to take in order to return to the mode selection screen. When you are in a level, you have to press start 3 times before you are back. A simple pause menu might have solved this.

The mini-games in this game is a mixed bag. Don’t get me wrong, they are fun to play, but there is so much missed potential. Both of them are quite short and can be beaten in a half hour. I hope that they expand on the mini-games like they did with the ones of Kirby Triple Deluxe.

Something I’m on the edge about is the stickers. You can collect them throughout your adventure. And you can collect each sticker twice. When you collect a sticker in a level, you don’t know which one it is. It will get revealed after you have beaten the level. You can also stick them on Tech Kirby’s robot. So, those sides change in cutscenes. This is a real nice idea. But it’s all for show. There is no gain to it. There are some people who like that.

After you have beaten this game, you get similar rewards than in Kirby Triple Deluxe. You can run through a remixed version of the Kirby with Mecha Knight and you open up an arena.

The arena is just a boss rush mode. I got bored of it rather quickly. But I loved the Mecha Knight mode. Since it provides a bit more challenge to the gameplay.

The two new copy abilities in this game are doctor and ESP. While I found them fun to use, I didn’t use them during boss fights. Since I found them difficult to control in tight situations and didn’t fit my playstyle at all.

In any case, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. So, it’s time to wrap this review up and head to the conclusion of this review.

Conclusion

The good

+ The Tech Kirby was fun to play with.

+ Amazing presentation.

+ Fun mini-games.

+ Great soundtrack and sound design!

The bad:

-Some repetition in the levels.

-Way too short. Both the main campaign and the mini-games.

-Stickers are underused.

-Tech Cubes and opening the boss door…

-Lacks some minor polish in the UI and controls.

Final thoughts:

This game is fun to play and provides some quality entertainment but it’s isn’t the best game I have played all year. I have played a better Kirby game on the 3DS, called Kirby Triple Deluxe.

This game is fun in short bursts. It’s perfect when you are on the bus or waiting for something.

There is a lot of missed potential with this game in my eyes. There could have been a lot more to this game. I could expand on this, but the start of these final thoughts have explained it all pretty well.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoy writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day! Take care~!

Score: 70/100

Review: Fantasy Life (3DS) ~ Joyful RPG at it’s near finest.

Fantasy_Life_box_artLink to the Wikia – First Impression article

And the award for the most generic title goes to… Fantasy Life… Wait, what? I’m copying my buddy’s latest article title and making my own joke out of it? Oh sorry, I’m sure he won’t mind. I have been delaying this review again and again. But after nearly putting 75 hours into this game, I think it’s fair for me to review it. While I haven’t completed it 100%, I am already far beyond the point of beating the full game and the DLC story. So, without me reading the first impression article, this is the taste this game left in my month. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion of the content of this article and/or this game. 

Story time

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So, one of the weakest points of this game is the story, apart from the DLC story. But don’t read me wrong: the story is solid and the characters are memorable. The huge issue is that thanks to the 12 different paths you can take, there are so many. Too much even for my young brain to remember. On the other hand, this makes each life unique with different characters and personalities.

The main story is a bit generic. It stands out in it’s writing, though. That’s extremely well done. People would easily skip over the story since it’s one you have experienced before: save the world. Yet, when you actually take the time to enjoy the story, you will be pleasantly surprised with it’s well done execution.

This is one of the first Level5 games I played where there is no voice acting. Well, apart from the few grunts from enemies, but I can’t comment on that.

So, let’s move on to the DLC. It truly expands on the main game nicely. It even adds more story and expands the game in nearly every area. The DLC is truly worth it, because the story alone has such a perfect ending, it actually touched me and made me laugh. Just the way how it’s written… Amazing.

All right, enough said about the story of this game. Let’s dive right into the other parts of this game. First of all, the sound design and music.

Just that

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The music and sound design is good. Just that. Good. It isn’t bad, nor is it great. It helps to immerse yourself into the game, but I don’t see myself listening to the soundtrack on my mobile any time soon.

While I think Level5 generally makes great scores for their games, some tracks got annoying to me. “The theme of intrigue” is an example of a track I don’t like. While the “Theme of Courage” is such an amazing track and really hyped me up.

Also, the enemies don’t have a distinct cry. Well, not all. And in my mind, this is a really big issue. Some enemies start to feel bland, generic and cut-outs. Some enemies have some nice sound effects, but not enough.

For the sound design or music, it isn’t worth it to get yourself a headset to enjoy it. As I said earlier, it’s good, but it won’t be memorable. Some tracks are catchy and I remember some battles but that mostly wasn’t because of the sound and music design. It helped, but it wasn’t the most important factor.

The design of this game is something that is actually really well done. Apart from one major issue I will talk about later.

The game world looked bright and colourful or dark and gloomy when it needs to be. They give off the right atmosphere and the area’s are pretty well crafted. The animation looks crisp and neatly done. Some could argue that due to the overload of dialogue some voice acting would benefit the game, but the animation does such a nice job that the voice acting isn’t really needed.

So, about that major issue I had with the design. Well, it is something I feel really mixed about. Visually, it looks lazy… but game design wise, it is a great move. Some enemies, like the spirits, return in various area’s, but they have just a different colour. Looks lazy right? But on the other hand, in some lives, you get the quest to kill a certain amount of some enemy. This makes finding that enemy in later area’s much easier.

Oh, and one minor design flaw is that it’s sometimes really tricky to read an enemy’s name. Because if you come too close, the target marker pops up above their head.

The other parts

112516_3ds_fl_merc_pr_ukSo, in my first impression I think I touch upon the controls. They are quite well done. Apart from the mercenaries life. They are quite flawed. It’s really unclear how you pull off certain moves in that life. Sadly enough, you need to do them in order to finish that life. “Press 4 times A”. Ehrm, I tried it and I wasn’t always able to pull off that move.

I still find it very remarkable that they made such a neat looking and easy to understand interface to display while you have some much content to offer. A nitpick I have is that the bounty clerks are sometimes too far apart.

The main story and the DLC story will take you around 15-20 hours to complete. Nice length. But the game can be a lot longer then that! You won’t be able to complete each and every life in even double the time. I have played this game for over 60 hours and I only fully completed one life.

The difficulty of this game is decent. While some area’s present some challenge, I barely died in this game. The game is also very forgiving in that regard. When you die, you can either revive (if you have a Life Cure) or go back to the nearest check point, or go home. You loose nothing. Also, when you are trying to mine a major gem later in the miner’s life… When you run out of SP, you can stop mining and drink some potions. When you then continue to mine the gem, the gem didn’t heal enough to loose that much of your progress. You aren’t able to do that in the fishing life and that’s one of my other nitpicks.

Before I wrap up this review, let’s talk about some of my other nitpicks. One is that some lives play similar to each other. While they are different and require a different play style, they can give off the same vibe. Mainly the crafting lives, they are all quick time event based. The animation is different, but the core mechanic isn’t.

Talking about crafting lives, the menu system is a bit flawed here. You aren’t able to see your quests when you start working.

The next nitpick is one that annoys the heck out of me. Certain lives have a dedicated shop. Like the carpenter and the woodcutter have a dedicated shop. But when you want to craft all the carpenter items, they won’t sell all those items in that shop. This means that you run around sometimes to get each and every item.

The next nitpick I have is that Flutter and your pets can only be accessed in one house: your starter house. Maybe I haven’t unlocked it through the bliss system, but I don’t think you will be able too.

So, the game is a nice experience but flawed. It’s really addictive and hard to put down for the people who enjoy these kind of games. But it lacks some polish. That also shows in the map. You can’t control the map at all. You can have an overview of the map, but you can’t see where all the shops are located.

Well, I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about in this review. Time to wrap this one up.

Conclusion

The bad;

– While the writing is excellent, the story is one we have seen in different games a million times over. (Apart from the DLC one)

– The music and sound could have been done better.

– The game is overall too easy.

– The lack of bounty clerks in some area’s.

– Some small issues can hinder the experience and make it irritating.

The good:

+ Amazing visual world.

+ 12 different play styles to enjoy.

+ You can switch class when you want.

+ Very neat UI.

+ The character creation has a lot of features.

+ The animation is extremely well done.

+ Addictive.

+ …

Conclusion

So, is this game worth playing? If you enjoy games like Harvest Moon, Tomodachi Life or anything similar, odds are you feel right at home here.

The characters are memorable but they suffer from a weak(ish) story. The writing is funny and won’t get boring, but they also suffer from the weak story.

This game lacks some polish. While the game has a lot of polish in certain area’s, not every part of this game has been polished enough. This is one game that could have benefited from a bit more development time.

Be warned when you play or start playing this game, it’s difficult to put down. I haven’t played many other games for over a month because I wasn’t able to stop playing this game. It truly took me be surprise how fun it can be.

I love this game, I think it’s near perfection. But the reviewer side of my character disagrees and sees the flaws in this game. It isn’t perfect, but it’s near its finest form.

So, that wraps up my review of this game. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. (and playing the game in order to write this review.) And I hope to meet you another time here on my blog, but until then: take care and game on~

Score: 85/100

Review #022: Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows (PSP) ~ This Isn’t Right…

Corpse-Party-BOS-Box-art

Official website

Am I safe here? This darn school man. It’s haunting me. I’m trying to relax on my hiatus and getting my real life work done but this school is stopping me from progressing in my goal. I simply don’t understand. I have to fight this. The creepy ghost children aren’t helping. Wait, wait, wait… Haven’t I seen this before? Like some first impression I have written a some time ago. About Corpse Party – Book Of Shadows: First Impression. Nah, that can’t be. This must be an unlucky coincidence. Otherwise I could simply say that people could leave a comment with their opinion on the game and or this article. Hah! That would make life a lot easier. But no, I have to be trapped down here in this school. Again. Maybe my fate is different. Since I haven’t found the secrets. (Read, I haven’t played the secret episode. But I have finished the rest of the game.) So, I’m going to try to make a fair attempt here. Deep breaths. Avoiding spoilers and here we go!

Story

corpse2Now I’m quite sure I have … seen this before. This has an amazing story. Plot twists around every corner. This game actually got me off guard a few times and made me actually feel somewhat scared. And scared, as in it crawled under my skin.

It’s for sure better then the original. I feel that it has more depth and more interesting use of character. As if it were a sort of expansion pack for the original. You explore this hell forsaken school once more with different characters and their backstory gets more fleshed out. But where I truly applaud the creators here, is how one chapter actually took place outside of this Heavenly Host Elementary.

One remark has to be made though, some story parts are way too long. It asked nearly one full hour from me before I could start playing. While I adore long stories, this game could have dosed it a ton better. But with a healthy dose of humor, horror, heartwarming and thrilling parts… It’s forgiven.

The fact that you see unanswered questions get answered and how the characters are used to their full potential is just  mind blowing to see.  I said it before and I’ll say it again. This here, it nailed the story perfectly. I have barely any remarks to the story. And even if you have experienced the previous installment… This will have some quite unexpected turns.

Wait, what was that?

screenshot_0001_thumbSon of a gun! I’m quite sure I heard something. Maybe it was one of the amazing music tracks from the amazing sound track. Too bad that some of them are quite short.

Or might it be one of the voices? Like the amazing voice acting some have. Which brings amazing atmosphere to the table. What am I talking about? Reviewing voices? Am I going insane?

But those sounds, they are crisp and clear. Yes, they make me feel extremely scared. I’m afraid to move. It’s almost like the sounds got me extremely drawn into the game…

Damn, I saw a ghost.

Corpse-Party-Book-of-Shadows-3Maybe I’m seeing things. Maybe I’m not trapped in this school! Maybe I’m too drawn into this game. That might be it. It was such an amazing entry into the series.

And the visuals in this game blew me truly off my socks. Creepy hallways and “nicely” decorated classrooms. Every place was nicely designed.

None of the places felt unfinished. Every location had such attention to detail and some had some neat additional dialogue.

The cutscenes, are underused. The game has only a nice cutscene at the start where there a lot of images used. Here is the hard part, I barely can’t say anything about the animation of this game. Unless you take one new element into a count. The “corruption” level shall we say to avoid spoilers.

The more wrong moves you do, the longer you do to escape (a dangerous situation), the more red your screen becomes. It’s almost like you see a wave of blood passing in front of your face. And that is an amazing touch.

Gameplay

gallery_6_15_1819I think I’m safe. Thankfully. I knew that writing this article would have helped me. Now I’m sure that I’m a big fan of the Corpse Party series. And I waited on purpose with this article to give this game a special number.

And the gameplay of this entry didn’t disappoint one bit. Where you have a big limitation how you can move, you can explore every single bit of the school. Thanks to the new investigation system. It was truly such a nice thing to see.

There were also many tweaks to the game. Like the ability to replay voice acting! Yes, when you’re inside the menu, you can let the characters say their lines again in the “history” menu.

In addition to that, the amount of save slots. My lords, are there a lot of save slots. Maybe a bit too much, but I’m not complaining that much since you will need it. With the addition I mentioned earlier, you will need to save on certain locations since a screw up can be easily made.

The game can be a bit hard, but exploring each and every room to make sure you haven’t missed anything is a great way to progress. Another helpful tip I give is, explore the previous game also extremely well. If you do that, there will be additional content waiting for you in this game.

The length of this game is just mind blowing. I’m not going to lie that I was able to play this game for nearly a month. Admitted, I played various other stuff in that month in order to write some interesting articles for my blog. But to have it completed just recently, is just a great sign.

Where I have to applaud the developers here is the interesting addition of the bonus content. There are no extra chapters this time around, apart from one, when you have seen ALL the endings; including the wrong ones. You can listen to all in game music, with a sort of clunky player, and you can hear some behind the scenes commentary from the voice actors.

And with that, I’m going to leave it here for this article. While I realize that I have been vague on certain parts, I encourage you guys to play this game to find out how big of a master piece this game truly is!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Sometimes story parts are a bit too long.

– Some music tracks should have been a bit longer.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Epic audio work in both the music and sound parts that will really draw you in.

+ An amazing game with stellar visuals.

+ Great voice acting.

+ Nice bonus content.

+ Challenging.

+ ….

Final words:

This game truly held me in it’s grip. I can’t wait to replay the original Corpse Party in order to unlock everything in this gem. While I tried something different to present this 20th review of mine, I had a tough time reviewing this one. This game was perfect in my eyes and I could only nitpick.

I truly cross my fingers that xSeed games ships more of these developers over seas since they are truly worth the time and money. Since these two games were spot on classics for me. It even got me into watching anime and reading manga again. Something I stopped doing because of games.

This game series is one of my favorites. It deserves a spot on “my most influencing games of my lifetime” list. And pretty high on this list!

Anyways, it’s how I said before my conclusion, play it for yourself and you will understand that this game is made with the gamers in mind. This adventure is one that will grab you and don’t let you loose until the end!

Score: 99/100

Review #008: Corpse Party (PSP) review ~ The school of doom.

Corpse Party (USA)

The site of this game.

First Impressions article

Warning for gamers & parents: This game is for 16 year and older. This game contains a lot of gore, blood and foul language. This game can be extremely creepy. For those who are easily afraid, play with caution. 

I started to play several XSeed games before, and I didn’t realize things about this game since I started reviewing it. While researching this game, I learned that this game is a port of a Japanese PC-98 game made by one person. He won a competition with that, nearly 5 million yen. The game is then ported to the PSP year later. These are signs of an extremely good game. But, is it? Or is this game an experiment of that Japanese developer to check if the game is ready for western releases? It’s obvious from my first impression article that I liked this game an awful lot. Now that I finished the main story line, it’s time to give this a proper and full review. Is this game truly worth the praise I gave it? Or is the game now going to fall flat on it’s face? Let’s dive into Corpse Party. 

The ritual

corpse_party_3It has been quite some time since I got scared from a video game. Horror games are usually a no-go for me. It contains jump-scares and cheap tricks for scaring you. Games like 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward are major exceptions on that rule.

But I wanted to change that one night and I booted up this game, just before I went to sleep and I started to play this game with earphones in. And I am glad that I did. Like I said in previous articles, I love myself a good story. And this story really drew me in.

The game is also based on a manga. And I now want to read the manga, to see how good the recreated it. If the manga or the game was first, it isn’t clear to me, I can’t tell.

But this story made me gasp, be silent and got all my attention. The pacing is just perfect. The game is creepy. Very creepy, but it doesn’t overdo the creepiness at any point. The game is creepy if you read the text. The point here is that the writing is extremely well done.

What adds to the game is the voice-acting. The voice acting is where I think this game shines. The Japanese voices really add to the story and make you feel the emotion that they tried to show. Also, the sound of the voices matches the characters displayed on the screen quite well and I didn’t have any character where I would use another voice.

So, the story is extremely well done. And it really gets thrilling. Plot twists are around every corner. Sadly enough, it’s obvious sometimes what the fate of some characters will be but how slow or how fast it goes down really makes the game unpredictable.

Uniqueness

6289325919_6407efd37c_zThe gameplay caught me off guard. I’m quite surprised how many visual novel games have such unique gameplay.

Your goal is to escape a cursed school and find your classmates and teacher. But, at that cursed school something extremely terrible happened. And something is there to stop your progress. That’s all I can tell you without spoiling the story too much.

The game has 5 chapters. The length of each chapter continues to grow larger. With the amazing finale with over a 2 hour playtime if you don’t get stuck anywhere.

There is a twist. The game has multiple endings each chapter. And these can be triggered by one wrong move. This makes the game difficult to play. This game won’t hold your hand and you fell a sense of reward if you finish a chapter. There are points that give you hints but overall, it will be all up to you.

There is one major flaw with the gameplay though. The save system. I didn’t like it one bit. You can save by using candles placed all over the map. But some are so far out that when you get a wrong end, you get frustrated. Also, you can save your system data, which means you save the tags you found and the game also saves that you achieved a certain wrong ending. Which can get confusing. There is also a save feature that you can only use once. If you load that save file, the save deletes itself after loading. This isn’t such a great feature. For a good save file system, Virtue’s Last Reward got it right.

I’m here.

images

The music and sound are extremely well done. The music does what’s supposed to do. For some players, it can feel a bit out of place but for me, it actually worked. I really gave me that Virtue’s Last Reward vibe and really got me hooked. If I can buy the album somewhere, I certainly will.

Although, on very rare occasions you can make the music glitch out and not play. And some parts don’t have music. But this is so nitpicky.

The soundeffects, something I always am very strict about, well made me zip my review mouth. Really, they are good. Everything sounds like it’s supposed to sound and it doesn’t have any sound effects too much or too little. They got it right with this game.

Graphically, this game looks dated. And is this a bad thing? Not at all. If you compare it with how it was in the PC-98 version the game got quite a big improvement in the graphics. But I love how they didn’t make the graphics become “too new”. It still has that feel of the original games without being too “ugly” for the graphic lovers. The characters look nice and the location of the game is lovely. But, there is one flaw in the graphic department.

The animation isn’t all that great. Lines where bridges need to come, walking in less then 5 frames, some characters seem to slide over the scene instead of walk. It feels extremely basic. It doesn’t take you out of the experience but it really brings the game down in my opinion. It’s a big missed opportunity.

Before I forget, this game also got the amount of gameplay and story quite right. There are parts where you need to go through large chunks of text, but you get a lengthy part to play too.

There are also 10 additional chapters. I think you can unlock them by getting the wrong ends or collecting certain tags. I haven’t played these yet, but it surely adds to the replay value.

And that’s about all I can say about this game, let’s go on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Bad-ass story.

+ Memorable characters, setting, story…

+ Graphics feel rightfully old school.

+ The music is one of the best I have heard in a while.

+ Soundeffects are well done.

+ The voice acting really adds to the game.

+ Lengthy game.

+ It will truly challenge your skills.

+ Different endings.

The bad:

– Save feature.

– Animations aren’t polished.

– The rare music issues and silent area’s.

Conclusion:

I barely score games a full 100. And this game got close. The game is really well made and got me into gaming once more. I was slowly growing out of gaming and wanting to review and write again. Yet, this game made me change my mind.

The story is unique, doesn’t exploit the usual cliches and takes twists and turns without getting too complex. The music is great and the voice acting adds to the game. I can’t repeat it enough.

If you play this game in the dark or not, it’s up to you. But pay attention, it will draw you in and hold you there for as long as you can play the game.

Apart from the major flaw of the animation and the bad save features, this game feels flawless. Leave in the comments what you think of this game.

Score: 95 / 100