First Impression: The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild (Wii U) ~ Hyping Hype

Official websiteBreathoftheWildFinalCover.jpg

Hype, hype and even more hype. That was the internet right before this game dropped onto store shelves. While many reviewers already finished the game, I’m only 10 hours into the game. But, I have played enough to talk about this game. While this game was in development, I tried to read as little press material as I can. To avoid spoiling myself. But I couldn’t avoid it, every social media I went to was full of the latest rumors and articles about this game. In any case, I picked up this game right after the launch weekend. During the launch weekend, I was out of town. For those who missed it, why I’m not playing this on the Nintendo Switch. Well, that’s because budget reasons and I’m waiting to buy the Switch until more games have been released on it. At the moment of writing this article, there are too few games being released on the Switch that I actually want to play. And because I already own a Wii U and the game has been released on the Wii U, why not.  Also, this article will be spoiler-free. Since, honestly, I haven’t finished the game myself. So, yeah. No worries about that. So, enough rambling… two weeks after the release of the game, it’s time to talk about my first impressions of this game. And as usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below.

Stop that hype train?

 

When this game was announced, the hype train was real. Everybody and their dog were hyped for this game. An open world Zelda game that took inspiration from games like FallOut and Skyrim, what’s not to love. Well, To be really honest, I wasn’t hyped. I honestly was disappointed.  At first, I was afraid that Nintendo was making a Skyrim-clone in a Zelda coat of paint.

Maybe I’m unable to let go of the past, the at first, this game didn’t feel like a true Zelda game. In my eyes, a typical Zelda game was like the old-school Tomb Raider games. A linear adventure game with a big central world that you could explore. But after a few hours of playing this game, something started to click in me.

If you are skeptical of this game and you are afraid it changes way too much from the Zelda-formula; don’t worry too much. Since this game changes a lot of things but some changes are for the better. Something I truly love from this game is how you can do dungeons and quests out of order.

But, something that was truly lacking, a more alive overworld. Everything has been made more interesting in this game. But, I’ll talk more about that later in the article. Let’s take a quick look at the story first.

I was pleasantly surprised how this game is able to tell an interesting Zelda story. Especially since you can explore wherever and however you want. The story of this game has all your typical Zelda lore. The narrative is present wherever you go. You decide the pace of the story. When you want more story, you do the main quests. When you want to take a break from the story, you do side quests or explore.

Something I was both hyped and let down by is the voice acting. While the voice acting is very well done, I’m let down that it’s underused. It feels like every voice actor only had one or two sheets of papers with lines, and that was it. And so far I have seen, it’s all a monolog talking to Link. What a missed opportunity there. But, maybe I haven’t advanced far enough into the main story yet, but so far, I find that the voice acting is underused. But when it’s used, it’s amazing.

Run around

In the past, I stopped playing games like Skyrim because I was too overwhelmed by the skill and tech trees. Where was way too much to do in that game. But, in this game, you get a sort of tutorial in the first area. You get your first taste of the shrines, the world, the story, the gameplay and the controls. Right after you have beaten the first four shrines, you get the paraglider. And then, you can go out into the world and explore your heart’s content.

So, in this game, you play as Link. And in this title, he is equipped with a lot more abilities than before. You don’t have to wait to unlock the spin attack or something amongst those lines, Link can do them all from the word GO.

Honestly, I was able to learn the controls quite quickly in this game. The more advanced tricks were learned naturally or with a quick tutorial. The controls of this game are quite responsive and I rarely have trouble with them. Apart from some gyroscope puzzles in some shrines, I don’t have any issues with them. The only thing I always confuse are the buttons for your inventory and your map. I can’t count on one hand anymore how many times I have opened my map in the middle of a battle when I only wanted to change my weapon.

That reminds me, the combat in this game is almost perfect in my eyes. Apart from some weapons doing way too much damage, it’s quite alright. Something that frustrates be beyond believe as well is that some weapons do so much damage and when you pick them up, they are weaker then your current weapon. Annoying spears, ugh.

Time for nitpicking

 In general, I think this game is pretty great. While it’s not 100% Zelda in my eyes, it’s growing more and more in my heart every hour I spend on it. I start to notice the attention to detail the developers put into this game. To create a living and breathing world that every Zelda fan would feel home in.

Something that also helps are the gorgeous visuals and the amazing soundtrack. Seriously, the presentation of this game is perfect. But, it does come with a price. The frame rate isn’t always stable. In some cases, the game drops under 30fps. And one time, I almost had a game crash. While the game always quickly recovers itself, it’s a letdown. Maybe with patches in the future, this improves.

Oh, that reminds me. Something I wish is also improved in a patch is the loading times when you enter and exit a shrine. The loading time isn’t that long, but it breaks the immersion. If those loading times could be improved, I would be so thankful. Something like an unskippable animation like in the older 3D Zelda games would do just fine.

Speaking about loading times, I wish you had an option to have to press a button when you want to re-enter the game. I had more than once, that I was reading the tips and the game loaded and I was thrown right into the game. I wasn’t done reading those tips just yet.

While I have a lot more to say about this game, I think I’ll leave those things for the review when I have finished the game. But in conclusion, give this game a chance. Sure, this game has flaws and changes a lot of the traditional Zelda formula, but it presents the original Zelda formula with a lot of improvements. Veteran Zelda players will feel right at home and enjoy themselves with the setting and the story. Everything feels so alive and much more realistic. I recommend this game already, but I’m curious if the game holds up when I have beaten it. Like I told earlier, at first, I wasn’t a big fan of the concept of this game. But, it’s winning me over. The charm of this game, it’s something I didn’t know I was missing from my Zelda gaming life.

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

Game Quicky: Sphetory (Android) ~ Ball Thrown

Sphetory_1024x500_4pda.pngDownload link from Google Play Store

This week, I had a cold during a heatwave. So, I didn’t play a lot of games this week. Yet, one Android game caught my eye. I played it several times. I found it strange since I rarely play Android games. The only time I play Android games is when I have to wait for the train or something along those lines. I haven’t gotten too far into the game but I still think it’s worth talking about it. If you are interested in this game, I personally recommend a tablet or a smartphone with a big screen. Since you will need it. In any case, enough rambling! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The bad

Sphetory_2.png

So, these are the reasons why you shouldn’t play this game:

The soundtrack is a bit lacking. I have only heard one song after three levels. While the song really helps to set the mood and atmosphere, I wish it had one more song to change it up here and there.

When I was in the options menu, I wasn’t able to adjust the sensitivity. It stayed at 4. Speaking of the option menu, you are unable to adjust the options when you aren’t in-game. You can change the language in the main menu, but not in the option menu.

Looking at the “Select Level” option, you will find out that this game is rather short. Honestly, I wish it had a bit more content. Since the potential is there.

The good

Sphetory_3.png

This game is a puzzle platformer. In the first level, you get a ball you can throw. It bounces around when it hits a wall. In the first level, this is used to hit switches so you can progress.

In the second level, a mechanic is introduced. When you throw the ball, you can press “B” at any time. Then you will move on the traveled path of the ball. As soon as you press B, the ball will stop traveling. So, you will have to time your throws so, you don’t press B when the ball left the platform. Since then, you fall to your doom.

Something that’s even more interesting is that the path stays. So, for example, you throw the ball in a straight line. When you press the B button after you landed, you don’t have to throw the ball again, since when you press the B button again, you travel on exactly the same path.

The punishment of failure is somewhere in between. When you fail a jump, you are sent back to the start of the puzzle. While I wish I wasn’t set back that far in certain sections, I wasn’t set back to the start of a level.

Also, in this game, you can slow down time. This is very handy to move over certain moving platforms.

I was able to quickly get used to the controls. When you press on the left-hand side of the screen, you move your character. When you press on the right-hand side of the screen, you move the camera. The A button throws the ball, the B button travels on the ball’s path, the clock button slows down time and the pause button… well take a wild guess.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I love the atmosphere in this game. It feels empty yet safe. It feels cold yet colorful and warm. And for those who are interested, I rarely experienced any lag or major slowdown in this game.

Also, surprisingly enough, this 3D game isn’t a big battery drain. It didn’t drain my battery too much. I only saw a decrease of 10% on my ASUS tablet.

One big amazing plus in this game is that this game is free of charge. And I didn’t find any annoying ads between gameplay!

The conclusion

This game contains a lot of trail and error. Yet, it feels very satisfying after you have beaten a level. I highly recommend this game for people who are looking for an interesting experience on Android.

While this game is playable on small screens, I don’t recommend it. Since it’s a big advantage when you see the whole room.

This game took me by surprise. Since this game is something that works very well on mobile devices.

While this game has some flaws, I think this game is really worth your time.

Anyways, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Feel free to drop by in another article, I’m looking forward to it. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Venture Forth (PC) ~ Alpha Peek

logoOfficial website

First of all, this is an impressive project. This game is made by a small indie developer and has been in development for over two years. They mailed me because they wanted me to take a look at this game after I wrote about Delver. Since this game is in the same style, they thought I might be interested in it. Indeed, I am. While it took me a while to take a look at this game since I was extremely busy, I finally found the time recently. So, let’s dive right into Venture Forth. This article is written on an unfinished build of the game, this is also mostly meant to hype the game a bit and give some feedback to the developers. Ready, let’s go! Alpha build of the 4th July, here we come!  (And as usual, feel free to give me a comment with your opinion of this game and/or the content of the game.)

Warning: This game is in one of my favourite genres. Also, I wasn’t able to make time to write this article, so I had to push it back for almost two months. And also, when I’m asked to write an article, I try to give the best feedback possible. So, prepare yourself for a longer article then you are used of me.

What needs more work?

Labyrinth 2015-03-02 00-47-36-09

The developer said to me that some of the visuals are place holders. So, I’m not going to talk too much about that. While I honestly think that some items and 3D textures look mighty fine already, others like a potion is just an arrow in this current build.

Most likely, the fact that we are missing a menu for options like key-bindings, starting a new game and all that is something that is still in development. If it’s not, please would it be possible to give the player the option to change how they want to control the game? I live in one of those weird keyboard countries where the lay-out of my keyboard is not qwerty, but azerty.

An annoying bug I found in the game is that when you want to switch from full screen to windowed mode, it kept running in full screen. This game uses the usual enter+alt method, which is no big deal. But they might want to look into this bug. Hopefully it’s not because of my own made pc.

This is just a feature suggestion of mine. The map is set up quite interestingly, but what if you give each area a different colour on the map. Makes it easier to see which area ends where. Just a minor thing.

Something that’s not that minor is the lack of lighting in some areas. Don’t read me wrong, I think it’s nice that they went for the realistic approach and make the areas where natural light can’t come through, it’s extremely dark. But when you use a torch, it gives off barely enough light to even properly navigate the dungeon. The area “The Nest” was a perfect example of this.

Labyrinth 2014-10-22 02-49-56-15I could complain about the lack of a tutorial yet, the game controls and plays like any other typical dungeon game. One thing I think they should really change and that is the starting area. You start out having to jump down a ravine. Not once, but if I recall correctly, about three times, you loose some health and this will set off a handful of players to not play the game. It’s not really inviting and it gives the game the first impression of using cheap tricks. At least in my opinion.

Same with some puzzles. This game uses a few puzzles where you barely get any hints. Without spoiling too much, let me tell you. When you are stuck and have nowhere to go, try a staff. It took me way too long to figure this out. I’m not saying it wasn’t rewarding to find this out, but a subtle hint when you enter the area would be nice. But really subtle. In the current version of the game, it was a nearly see-through wall. Hinting that there is something at the other side. But before you got there, it was a long hallway. Maybe put in the rocks an image that looks like the staff somewhere in that hallway? That’s what I mean with subtle, something you wouldn’t notice or easily miss.

Before I move on to the more positive parts of the game, I want to talk about something that won’t help with the first impression as well. The first enemies you encounter are a bit too strong in my taste. Actually, that’s just a nitpick, since if you know what you are doing, the enemies can be quite the pushovers.

What is already good?

Labyrinth 2015-06-04 19-04-46-54

I’m not going to give criticism on the music. Well, honestly, the ambient music that’s playing in the background. The reason is that it helps building the atmosphere quite well. That there is only one melody/track that plays, I can understand. It’s an Alpha after all. If they weren’t planning to add some more music, then a problem could arrive. Some players would get annoyed by the repetitive music and this would turn up as a negative in various reviews.

Earlier I talked about the map system. As a fan of these style of games, I could start complaining about the difficulty to see rooms and all that… Honestly, I think the map is one of the best features in this game. It’s a fully 3D view of the world you play in. It also shows some hidden things in the map, most likely put there from the developer to control the game. (read: spawning enemies or helping with the lighting of an area.) Which is a really cool touch.

That the enemies aren’t shown on the map is something I’m on the fence about. On one hand, you could say it’s annoying since you can’t plan your strategy. On the other hand, it really helps build fear into the game. You never know if an area is safe to cross or not.

The game runs quite smooth already. I got a steady 60fps, which is quite nice. The sound effects are actually perfect for this game. There weren’t many sound effects I would change. I would add a few here and there like for when an enemy switches equipment.

Yes, that’s a thing. Later in the game, the enemies will switch weapons. Long range combat, they will use a bow. Short range? Well, prepare for a sword fight. In this game, you can also prepare a few load-outs. Choose carefully though, since this game doesn’t offer an inventory system. So, that means, when you want to use your potions, you will have to use a load-out. You can also equip two items and armour. Logical, since we only have two hands. This is the reason why you need to plan out your strategy quite well.

Labyrinth 2015-05-10 05-04-07-93

So, the actual controls are mighty smooth. While I think they should add a run button in the full release, the aiming and such is extremely nice for an alpha. Also, this game would benefit from a crouch move where you can’t fall off ledges, like in Minecraft.

I think I talked about everything I wanted to talk about so it’s time to wrap up this article.

Conclusion

I really love where the game is going. I understand that this game is still in alpha and needs some polishing. But truth to be told, the base game is there. The core idea is present and it puts a new spin on exploration. It’s not simply a clone or just an explorer game. It tries to do something new with the different load-outs you can easily switch between and the amazing map.

It can become a great game, if they worked on expanding the first impressions that the game gives you. If I would give it a score in it’s current state, while keeping in mind that it’s an alpha build, it would be around a 7/10.

Thanks for letting me play this game, I actually enjoyed myself. Don’t be afraid to send me a review copy when it’s fully released guys, I will for sure write a full review about it then.

Anyway, I think I will leave it at that for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed preparing and writing it. And please, give their official site a look, they deserve it.

Review #029: Time Hollow (DS) ~ DAT Themesong.

Time_HollowWikipedia entry

Alright, in order to celebrate some milestones, it’s time to review a game that’s very special to me. I begged Konami to make a sequel of this game. But why? Is this game really so good that it deserves a sequel or am I just being hopeful because I love this game? Before writing this review I replayed the whole game. Just to be sure I wasn’t going to forget anything when I would review this game. I have beaten this game 3 times. I might have beaten it more then 3 times, I honestly don’t remember. This game is extremely memorable to me because I can relate with the main character. Not only that, the soundtrack just helps me write. And the main theme, yes, the main theme. I selected that once in an article about my favorite music tracks in games. So, I don’t have to explain myself there. So, before we continue, this game is a visual novel and adventure game. Like Ace Attorney or Professor Layton. So, because of that, this game falls into my favorite game genre ever. Because this game’s strongest point is the story, I decided to not have any spoilers here! YAY! Anyways, let’s get to reviewing this game. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on the game. 

I open my eyes, to another day.

time-hollow-1In this game, you play as Ethan. His birthday is the next day. After you meet his family and the basic characters are set, the story flips the tables on you and takes you on quite a ride. Yes, his parents go missing. They aren’t kidnapped. Since Ethan had a nightmare. In that nightmare, he saw his parents fleeing a burning building through a portal.

That’s all I’ll tell you about the story. Apart from my views about it, of course. So, the story is amazingly written. The build up to the final part is thrilling. The story has several chapters. As the title suggests, you will have to mess with the time and past events. I’m just blown away by how the problems you have to solve can build up to the actual villain of the game.

But here we hit on of the biggest weak points of the game. The game is short. Not as short as Lili’s: Child Of Geos, but I was able to beat this game in a week. Maybe my experience with adventure games helped me, but still, comparing it to other adventure games on the Nintendo DS, this one is too short.

At the other hand, this isn’t such a bad point. The story doesn’t get messy with too many events which makes the story really memorable. The writers truly focused on the personality of the characters. You see them grow and change with each change you make. In the end, you will start to hate certain characters and get attached to others. Mostly due to the brilliant writing. The story never feels; how to say this? Made longer on purpose so you have a longer game to play. It truly benefits the game since you get to know the location better!

Taking back what was mine.

Ethan_Vin_Chronos_dialogueAlso, CAPCOM, take notes please. In this game they nailed the voice acting perfectly. They didn’t use voice acting outside the cutscenes. While using it outside the cutscenes was rather interesting, you can create awkward breaks in it. While there aren’t many cutscenes in this game, they did place them nicely. After solving a big problem, being rewarded with a cutscene is such a sweet feeling.

Sound design wise, they did an amazing job. The sound effects make the game feel truly alive. While I would have used a bit more sound effects if I made the game, I have nothing bad to say about them. Even the voice acting is way better compared to another Konami title I really love as well, Suikoden Tierkreis.

So, the gameplay of this game. Well, it’s pretty interesting. You are presented with a problem. It’s up to you to solve it using Ethan’s special powers. It has something to do with time. Yet, you still want to find out what happened to your parents. The game requires you going to certain places and talking to people.

It doesn’t sound like much, yet it’s strangely addicting. Mostly because the story is really well made, I wanted to continue to play!

In the end

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The difficulty in this game lies into if you are familiar with the style of gameplay or not. Like I said earlier, this game is rather at the short side for veteran adventure gamers. At the other hand, I do expect new players to the genre getting stuck at certain parts. To avoid that you get frustrated, there is a character that’s “training her psychic abilities”. She is basically giving you a clue what to do next or where to go next.

Visually, this game really shines. On this front, I honestly do disagree with the other reviewers. I have seen review where they give this game only a 5 or 6 on the visual aspect. And I don’t think that’s enough. Because most of this game is told through it’s presentation. This game is more like an interactive book. There isn’t a lot of animation to talk about, apart from the flashbacks and cutscenes. I honestly loved revisiting certain places just because of the visual polish this game got.

So, before we go to my conclusion, I do think I have to speak my mind about the replay value. This game has a small bit of replay value. Because there are two different endings. You can only unlock the 2nd ending once you finished the game. Also, the 2nd ending is more for… Whoops, I nearly spoiled a part of the game.

Yeah, because of the genre of this game, there isn’t any replay value besides the second ending. The only time you might replay it, is when you want to review it or just feel like replaying this game.

So, time to move on to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Way too short.

– Failed to bring innovation to the genre, where there was potential.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ …

Final thoughts:

The biggest setback of this game is that’s it’s short. Way to short. Because of that, I see how a lot of people won’t really get into this game. Honestly, playing through the game for a couple of times, I wasn’t able to find any other negative besides just the length of the game.

I honestly get the feeling that this game is polished to perfection instead of made longer. I might just be blinded a bit because my love for this game. Who knows? I invite you to play this game and tell me what you think. If you liked games like Ace Attorney or Trace Memory on the DS, it would be a shame if you missed out on this one!

Score: 75/100

Review #015: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity (3DS) ~ Dat Ending.

PMGTI

Official website

It has been coming. After a long time I finally finished the main story of this game. This game is actually the game that started off my rants here on my blog. I talked about the cuts and adds that this game did. Feel free to read it here. But I’ll address most of it in this article. This review will be a big one? Why? Well, I have a lot to talk about! Plus, this game actually did some things why I hold this game high in my list of best games ever. I thought a lot about special things to do for this review. From me being trapped in a dungeon and that each floor was a part of the game that I wanted to review but no idea really worked out the way how I wanted. So, that’s why I settled down upon a normal style review. I remember till this day pre-ordering this game. I was so excited that there was going to be a 3DS entry. It was a long time since this series saw an entry. The Japanese people got lucky with a WiiWare title that never saw international release. But ChunSoft gave us this game now. Yes, this game is not only made by GameFreak & Nintendo. ChunSoft actually has a great influence in this series. Anyways, let’s look at this game. Is it really worth the praise I give it or is it just that some elements really make me want to play this game? Let’s review! (Oh, and feel free to post a comment about my review and/or your views on this game.)

Paradise.

pmd_gti_ss6Let’s first tackle the biggest thing of this game. The story. In this game you wake up in a forest without knowing that you suddenly turned into a Pokemon. But this time they take things differently. Instead of the obvious thing to join a big rescue team or to become one, the main focus is actually somewhere different. The main focus is on you making a paradise for the Pokémon in Post Town.

And this is already a great improvement in my eyes. The story feels extremely fresh. And I actually really enjoyed the story. The characters were great, the writing is well done and I barely made complaints on the story while playing. There were some close calls of a Deus Ex Machina (for those who don’t know the word, it’s a sudden solution that comes out of nowhere and solves everything.) but lucky for this game, they were avoided.

The only thing is dislike a bit is that they removed the personality test at the start. I actually enjoyed it and never really cheated my way towards the Pokémon I wanted to be. You actually can directly select your Pokémon that you want to be now. This makes the game feel less personal but this short coming has been made up big time by something else.

But, I am not done yet with talking about the story. Where this game wins some big marks is the fact that for the 3rd entry in the game, the ending actually made me tear up once more. The ending, while it’s highly similar then the previous entries, is written in such an amazing way that it manages to to it’s job. I won’t spoil it but for emotional people, this will be a tough one. But that’s not all. The biggest marks are won with the addition of a story after the credits. I was so surprised when I saw that “and now you play as your partner to see how the story concludes.”. This gives the game a bigger reason to keep playing after finishing it.

Downfall

imagesBefore I continue with praising the game, I want to talk about what made this game not that much fun for me. Which elements made me want to avoid this game?

First off, there is DLC! Why? Just, why? Downloading additional dungeons is fun, but asking a small price for them is just silly. You basically download a dungeon with a name and some new textures. As if the extensive list of already available dungeons wasn’t good enough already.

Also, I know it’s meant for the safety of your health but the message: “You had a great adventure today. You should take a rest before you continue to play.” is just silly. I’m bummed out that there isn’t an option to disable this message.

Also, this game doesn’t like you checking the message log. The way to look at the message log is so hidden, it really makes me irritated when I want to check something I missed.

Something I really like is the fact that when you take a weak level Pokémon with you, it will grow to the level of the other Pokémon when you enter a high level dungeon. Take that your Pokémon are all level 30 and you take a level 10 with you for the ride. It goes to level 30 right away. But here comes something extremely annoying. You must go through all the moves the Pokémon can learn with that high level jump. One by one. Yes, one by one. That’s no fun at all. Why couldn’t you just program in a list for it?

Inventory management has also a small issue with it. When you want to take something out of your box, you can only take one item. Unless you first press “R” to input the amount you wish to have. This is an additional step that shouldn’t be there. When you select an item that you have multiple times, you should be able to directly say how much you want of it.

This game makes also one major mistake. One of the biggest flaws in this game is the fact the you only can do one mission each time you set out. And that is such a pain. This really pulls out a lot of the fun of doing multiple missions and trying to survive a dungeon because you need to do another floor.

A nitpicky thing is, and this might just be me, is that the running isn’t endless anymore. After a short while you stop running. And this is really annoying since you need to let go and press the B button again. Also, the running is a tad bit to fast. Running around corners is such an annoying thing in this game.

And this might be just me as well, but I felt like the final three bosses where way to weak and easy. Or I might just have grinded my Pokémon to a pretty high level and/or had a great inventory to beat them.

Before I forget, I want to add this to the bad list. A TM can be used multiple times. I liked the way of the previous entry more where you had to collect certain items to repair it before you could re-use it.

Great.

pokemon-mystery-dungeon-1At first I was really doubting to put this in the bad thing section but then I realized something. You can play as one of your team mates to take a break from the story. Yet, thanks to a box system, you can transfer over items from the companion mode to the main story mode. This gets rid of the annoying being stuck in a hard dungeon with no good items. Yet, it makes the game a bit easier. But it doesn’t get too easy either. You really need to finish requests to get those items.

In addition to that, good items are rather expensive and not always available in the shops. This makes creating a great inventory to finish bosses and/or beat big dungeons that more rewarding.

I touched upon the fact that you can do only one mission at a time. Such a big deal isn’t it really since the rewards you get are sometimes enough for expanding your paradise. The fact that you can upgrade, recolor and put more things and you have space makes the replay value high. Also, in the paradise there is a lot to do. Prize tickets and even two mini-games I know of. And they are extremely fun to do.

The hunger system is gone in this entry. But something else came in it’s place. The so called “V-Wave”. This makes a certain type more stronger and therefor more dangerous. You can change the “V-Wave” from a certain point in the story but I never did. I enjoyed the challenge.

The gameplay is still the same as before. You explore randomized dungeons and you try to get to the top. Using your attacks at corners is still extremely buggy. Speaking about attacks, they made an amazing change that is extremely helpful in this entry. When you press the “L” button you directly get an overview of all your Pokémon’s attacks! And you have to simply press the according button to execute the attack. This saves time since you don’t have to go into the menu to change your attack and you also see how much PP is left.

Also, attacks get stronger over time. The more you use them, the stronger they will get. But pay attention, the attacks of the enemy’ll be stronger then as well. So, if you upgrade tackle to level 2, the power of tackle of the enemies will be level 2 as well.

The dungeons are improved as well. Some dungeons have an “overworld” part where you have to cross a bridge or solve a small puzzle before being able to continue to the next floor. Thanks to this, dungeons are way less boring then in all the previous entries of the series. Inside dungeons there are also shortcuts. But I can’t tell more about them since I hadn’t been able to have the right key for unlocking the door.

Another great improvement is the fact that you can save everywhere you want! The menu system is better but not perfect. The fact that it’s not anymore a simple text box menu but something in the lines of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl where the buttons are on the button screen after a press on the menu button is such a great feature.

Visually this game is a masterpiece. It’s the best I have seen in the whole series. I actually regret not putting the 3D slider to max at certain points. This game really benefits from the 3D. It looks pretty. The rare cut scenes look amazing and are a marvel to look at. It’ll really stick with you how some area’s looked in 3D. And with great visuals comes one of the best animation I have seen in a while. Nothing bad to say about that.

The sound design is well done. It really pulls you inside the game. There are no Pokémon cries in the game but that’s actually a great thing, since this makes me enjoy the amazing soundtrack of the game at it’s full glory. Some tracks in the previous entries really got on my nerves after hearing them multiple times. But not with this game. This game really nailed it.

And I think I’ll leave it here for this review. Skipping the multiplayer and the possibility to find new dungeons around your home, it’s time to make a conclusion for this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Attacks at corners don’t work.

– The running is a bit broken.

– One mission at a time.

– The end bosses are a bit too weak.

– DLC.

– “You should rest.”

– Leveling up too fast makes for an irritating move learning “5-minute”

– TM can be used multiple times.

– Inventory management needs some minor tweaks.

– Removal of the personalty test at the start.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Visually amazing.

+ Great animation.

+ Randomized dungeons = high replay value.

+ Overworld parts in the dungeons.

+ Great sound design.

+ Benefits from the 3D.

+ Multiplayer.

+ Companion mode.

+ Sharing inventory makes the game way better.

+ Great controls.

+ Story after the credits.

+ It’s not only dungeons you can do in this game, the paradise opens up so many possible things to take a break from the dungeons.

+ Improved menu’s and combat.

Final words:

This game made some major improvements when you compare them to the previous entries of the series. Some things had to be payed for that, but actually in the long run, the game strong points really make up for it.

The game isn’t less fun, it’s as much fun as the previous entries but for a totally different reason. It still feels rewarding and fun but now because you make an amazing paradise that’s unique to you. Since you can choose a lot.

It really surprises me that this game really expanded on the previous entries so much. You have a lot more to do, to keep track off. And there isn’t only more depth to the game! They addressed issues to make the game more fun to play.

This game is one of the best spin-offs of Pokémon period. And I’m so glad that I finished this game and looked passed the flaws since then you see where this game actually truly shines. And then this game, you don’t want it to be over soon. But the length and replay value will keep you busy for a long while.

So, too long didn’t read version. Is it worth all it’s praise. Yes, if you don’t compare it too much too the previous entries of the series but take it as a new reboot-ish game of the series.

Score: 85 / 100

Review #014: Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) ~ Great, in both ways.

escape-from-monkey-island-cover683213

Wikipedia entry

Alright, alright. I know my rule is that I need to finish the game before I review it. But really, screw it! I make an exception here. I’m stuck on this godforsaken island and I need to review this game to get off. And this last bit is really pissing me off. Writing this review was a whole lot of fun. It’s a long story to tell how I got here. Yeah, it wasn’t totally a second hand game I bought because the name Monkey Island was on it and I heard a lot about it and I totally wanted to play it once. Nah, that isn’t the case at all. I got this game shoved in my hands… I suppose. Anyways, I heard of various sources that this is one of the worst entries in the series. But are they correct with that? Is this game as horrible as people say? Or is this game just a great game but not for the Monkey Island series? Well, I have played it and I can tell. It might be my first Monkey Island game but I wouldn’t mind playing more before I get off this island. Yeah, this game is actually rather good. But, it has some serious flaws I’ll address in this review. Also, I tried to keep spoilers to an absolute low. So, don’t worry about that. I avoid to spoil the ending too. Since that wouldn’t be fun right? Anyways, enough joking around. I’m not on an island. I’m sitting at my chair ready to review this game that really irritated me and really brought me hours of joy. That’s why I choose the title that it’s “good” in both ways. It’s actually pretty good but it has some flaws. Hold on, this isn’t the conclusion yet. I haven’t told anything yet about the game. Man, this adventure really did something to me. Anyways, let’s take a look at this gem of the past. Here we banana… ehrm… Ignore that please. I meant, here we go.

Let’s escape!

mi4_019To avoid spoilers like I told you in the introduction, I’ll talk about the story. It’s great. I really enjoy games that sometimes don’t take themselves serious. And this game even breaks the 4th wall here and there. There are many funny moments and various genius moments that make this games it’s writing stand out.

The story’s characters are fleshed out and you really get to know them. Although some names feel not so creative, it gets the job done. But the voice acting in this game really makes this game. The whole game is voiced and I don’t often play games like that. I truly like the work the actors have done for the characters and it adds a whole bunch of greatness to the package.

And that package is also filled with something extremely pretty. This game looks amazing for a PS2 title. Even though this game is several years old. The graphics aged pretty well and the bright and colorful playground you get to explore really makes this game a ton of fun. But that doesn’t go for one thing. The sprite of your character is too small on the overworld map. Since you are playing a PS2 game you sit a bit away from the TV. So, you really need to pay attention that you don’t loose him.

 Did I really pull out my hair?

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This game is an adventure game. It really makes you think outside the box. And the replay value is there as well. Since various things are randomized. Like names of bad guys or moves. No two puzzles are the same and no one is too hard. Since you get vague clues everywhere. Not that they hold your hand or anything since this game has no tutorial. You need to find out the controls for yourself. The inventory is a bit tricky to get used to.

But there is one part of the adventure that really breaks this game. Thanks to that I also disagree with the quote on the cover. “We need more games like this.” Well, not if there is more stuff like the monkey combat. Sigh, did that bring this game down to an all time low. Without pen, paper, trial & error, a lot of patience and a lot of time you won’t be able to beat this. Compare it to you playing a game where you don’t get the rules explained.

While writing this review, I haven’t beaten this part of the adventure yet. It really pains me to tell it since this game really is great and worth finishing. But thanks to this monkey combat… And the worst part is that when you haven’t wrote it down, you are screwed since there is nowhere in the game to bring up a list of which moves you have and which ones you have not.

Okay, let’s calm down.

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Thankfully this game has many other things to offer. The length of this game is extremely good. It’s pretty lengthy and stops on the right moment. It’s a really good fill for at least several weeks without using a walkthrough.

The music is one of the highlights of this game. Exotic and melodic, but pay careful attention! It might get stuck in your head. The sound work is also really great. The feel of the game is set and the mood just works.

Something this game really misses, is a map of the area sometimes. Not only a map of the island you are on. A map of the city. It would make finding buildings a lot easier.

The final thing we can talk about is how the game has various places to save your game. The saving is done right. And the fact that you can have four playthroughs at the same time really makes this game worth playing. Anyways, let’s get on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Great adventure gameplay.

+ Amazing voice acting.

+ Great sound & music.

+ Amazing length.

+ Random parts in the story to have some replay value.

The bad:

– The Monkey Kombat.

– The controls aren’t easy to get used to.

– A log would have been really handy.

Final thoughts:

How much is this game worth? This is hard to say. Since the monkey kombat really breaks the game. It’s such a great idea yet, it doesn’t work. It makes me want to destroy the disc rather then finish it. Well, I might have gone quickly over this game in this review but that’s just because the monkey kombat annoyed me so much. And if they would cut out that part of the game, it would have been awesome. So that’s why I can give this game only in between score. But thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time. 

Score: 70 / 100.

First Impression: Tales Of Monkey Island (PC) ~ The pox.

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Game’s website

Since I finished Corpse Party, I started a new game. I got introduced the Monkey Island series by the PS2 game, Escape from Monkey Island. When I saw this game I had to play it. I started to play and really got into it. I finished the first chapter and then got distracted by guess, yeah, Corpse Party. This game is created by TellTale Games. The original creator of Monkey Island said it was probably his last game, since he feels he got to old to create games. Also, the original cast returns for the voice acting in this game. This game was released in episodes and my current progress is that I’m at the final part of the 2nd chapter. After that chapter, I’ll of course write a full review of this game. But for now, let’s dive into this game, and the first impressions it made on me. 

The pox.

This game is a nicely crafted adventure game. Yet, it annoys me that this game is in several episodes. When you save in episode 1, you can’t start that save in episode 2. It makes a lot of sense but here is the thing. When you install the game now, all the episodes are unlocked to actually you can start playing at the start of the last chapter and beat the game that way.

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This game’s story really made me think. What if the bad guy actually becomes the good guy, well sort of. Up until now, I found the story rather enjoyable. It’s funny like you expect from a Monkey Island game. It made me laugh several times. Not to sound like a soulless person but I barely start laughing with games. I makes me smile at most. Since it mostly uses American humor and I enjoy European humor more. But this game actually has some funny parts for each culture.

The way the story is told is classical adventure game. Lucas Arts (rest in peace guys) has perfected this trade and a big hint in this game is that you need to think literally and out of the box in order to continue.

One thing that is a let down is the control. Instead of clicking where you want Treepwood to go, you need to hold the left mouse button and you start to move. Awn, that’s a let down. Also, bad TellTale Games! Not making the ability to drag & drop items to combine them? Making a separate option for that. Tsktsk.

Oh noes!

monkeyislandtales_screen2What I like in this game is that the main story line is more then just the main story line. It has several side plots that I want to see unfold. I’m extremely excited to see where the story is going to take me next.

Is it going to take me towards new colorful places? I hope so. The gameplay is actually a long chain of manipulating items to fool or trick people. And yes, I find this a fun way to be a pirate. As unbelievable it may sound, you play as a pirate. Which I still have trouble believing that our main character is a mighty pirate.

The world of Monkey Island is well made. Graphically the game is colorful and inviting. But the islands, well, they could  use a bit more variation. The two parts I played now have both a jungle part. Come on! That’s recycling. That could have been avoided.

I’m extremely thankful that you can save everywhere you want. It also gives a short summary of what the story is currently about. For in case you took a break and want to replay the game.

The voice acting is good. Sometimes it feels a bit out of place here and there but most of the times, it works. I would personally have said some lines stronger or else. Maybe I have still the amazing voice acting from Corpse Party haunting my judgement now.

What I expect

full20090730213938I expect this game to rock me off my socks. For now, this game has successfully drawn me in to it’s world. If I’ll let me go, we shall see about that. It might actually, but that’s the way how I play adventure games.

The music and sound has been great until now. Nothing to remark at the moment.

The animation is actually where I love the game the most for now. The detail that went in the art is great. The camera work in the swordfighting scenes is amazing enough to display the hard work the designers have put in this game.

Now, I would give this game surely a 7 out of 10 points. I’m going to finish this article here and I’m going to play this game further. To further judge this game. Maybe it goes up in points and maybe it goes down. We will see. Alright, thanks for reading. But before you leave, what’s your favorite Monkey Island game or moment? Discuss it in the comments.

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.

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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

Review #001: Tomb Raider – Survivor (PC) ~ Dark game about the sun.

Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.
Tomb Raider Survivor Box-Art.

Link to the official site. (For more details of this game).

“A famous explorer once said.” is the very first line that you hear in this game. The opening of this game is beautiful enough to keep your attention but is it good enough? This series got a reboot after the negative reception of Underworld, which is still in my eyes a darn good game. In this reboot you play as, who else, Lara Croft. Yeah, only younger this time around. I realize that I’m late with this review, and that many played this game already. But I have only recently gained interested again in reviewing. So, yeah. Messy introduction is messy.

“Not who we are.”

Hardcore Tomb Raider fans will actually feel right at home with this game. There are many tombs to explore and raid, all in a nice package of amazing graphics and the athletic Lara. But there is a difference this time around. You can’t go shooting all you want. Ammo isn’t unlimited.

Many call give this game the subtitle of “Survivor”. Since it’s a survival game. Well, partially. Okay, not at all. There is a mission to collect food, but that only gives XP. You can hunt on animals but all she does is slice them open. And before you tell me that it would be too “cruel” to animate her eating her prey; well, think again. This game is Dark, with a capital d. Some scenery isn’t for young eyes.  So I see a missed opportunity there.

The only survival part about this game is that you need to find ammo since in the battles where you need to survive, you’ll quickly run out. You don’t have a health bar. Nope, this is replaced with the “Call Of Duty” style of health bars. Where the screen becomes more red when you take hits. What’s nice in this game is that the screen becomes gray when you are one hit away from death.

“Adventure found me.”

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The most early design sketches that where posted featured a lot of content that didn’t made the final cut. So which adventure did Lara find? Like I said, the game looks amazing. The graphics are really neat. For the most part. Some area’s of the game will feel a bit unpolished. It could have been my graphics card but some pits their textures where too big.

And the water isn’t all that great. Since sometimes it stops caring. I had several times that in the game the water texture was glitched up and looked more like boiling mud. Or that a 9 year old discovered a distortion filter in Photoshop.

The game is said to have an open world. What an empty promise that is. The world is “open”. The game is extremely linear. And yes, even backtracking to old locations appears in this game. The level structure might be gone, or that is what you think at least. It’s simply replaced by area’s.

In each area you have several secrets, treasures, food plants… to find. This is lovely since it makes me coming back even after I finished the game. The replay value is high in this game. Sometimes you have even enemies who respawn so that you have something to shoot with your collected ammo.

The gameplay is pretty neat. Again, for the most part. Like many other reviewers will tell you, get a sturdy keyboard to play this game. Since there are a lot of quick time events. They break the pace of the game often and are in some cutscenes rather unwelcome. I even think that in some of the cutscenes the quick time events are responsive. And in some your timing needs to be better as in other cutscenes. Hrm, great to be consistent.

Bomberman Croft

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There is no area without an explosion. Really, the game is on a deserted island and there is sure a lot of bombs, explosive material and other stuff that can go boom around. The developers got a tad bit lazy and made the area’s where some cutscenes of the story is triggered unreachable after you passed it. Either by a ladder that broke down or a building that goes boom.

Even the very first puzzles require you to blow up parts of the cave where Lara is held. But why is she held there? Good question to introduce the part of the review where I talk about the story.

The story is mediocre at best but gets extremely “meh” at the end. The Tomb Raider games never really got me into the story. And this game is no different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a unique story that I enjoyed but it didn’t left an impression on me. I skip the cutscenes in my 2nd playthrough since I didn’t wanted to be bothered by the story and just play. Some RPG or big story driven games can smell the plot twists from miles away.

But the disappointing story actually gave me hope of something else. Voice acting. I loved the voice acting in this game. It’s top notch. The sound in this game is amazing. I really advice playing this game with a good headset. I played this game with a headset and it makes the game way more intense then with speakers. The music is amazing. I truly enjoyed the music in this game. Although, I felt that the silentness of some area’s was a nice choice too.

Steam

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For a long time, I didn’t have steam. But thanks to this game, I got an account. I am glad that I di since I got easily access to the updates for the game.

In the game you can collect salvage to upgrade your weapons. It’s possible that you can finish the game without upgrading all your weapons.

You can also get new skills with skill points. You get a skill point when you have enough XP after killing enemies, emptying out tombs, being a meanie to a rabbit ….

The animation in this game of the characters is amazing and well done. Even with my weak laptop, I had to put this game on low settings, I really saw that a lot of work went into this game’s animation. Some death scenes may be disturbing, but it adds to the game.

Before we go to the overview, a quick rant. Why do the bodies of the enemies despawn so quickly?

Oh yeah, multiplayer. Didn’t care much for it. I’m not that good in multiplayer. Sorry guys.

Overview

The good:

+ Good length.

+ Replay this game, sign me up.

+ Great voice acting.

+ Strong animation.

+ Amazing music & sound.

+ Good gameplay.

+ Visually an eye-candy.

The bad:

– Mediocre story.

– Some graphic tweaks are needed.

– The enemies may respawn but too few to be of any danger.

– Framerate issues.

Conclusion:

Do you need to buy this game? Why are you asking me this question? Yes! Yes, you should. It’s a great game and I found this game very enjoyable. The flaws of the game might get a bit in the game, and the multiplayer is decent.

But for the great gameplay and the amazing visuals, the game is worth of a playthrough. Even if you have to sit through annoying quick time events.

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

Score: 80 / 100