First Impression: Amid Evil (PC – Steam) ~ Champion!

Steam pageWikipedia entry

In the near future, Amid Evil will have new content named The Black Labyrinth. Now, this is quite extincting, since this gives me an amazing opportunity to talk about the base game. Since, this game comes from the same studio that brought us the amazing retro-style shooter Dusk and does it live up to that name, or should we totally look elsewhere? Should we leave this game amid evil, or should we save it from evil? Well, that’s what I want to figure out with while writing this article with my first impressions about the game. So, let’s dive right into the game and talk about it, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and/or opinions on the content of this article and/or this game. So, Amid Evil… What do you get for us?

Champion !

Amid Evil is being called the spiritual successor to games like Hexen and Heretic. That’s quite a high bar to set since I really enjoy Heretic. I love the concept, and I was quite impressed with it. I remember discovering Heretic through a website that shared old DOS shareware versions of games. Now, before I get side tracked and this article turns into a half Heretic review, let’s focus on the game.

In Amid Evil, you play as one of the last standing heroes that is tasked with saving various worlds. In this game, the evil forces already took over and it’s to you, the Champion to save them. And in terms of story, that’s mostly it. This shooter pulls you right into the action. That’s not to say, that this game doesn’t have any story. Each episode has a lot of world building and builds up the various evil forces that took over those worlds in a unique theme, but if you are looking for a shooter with a strong overarching story, I’m afraid that you might be disappointed with this game.

To avoid spoilers, I’m going to talk about the next bit somewhat vague. But there are 7 episodes in this game, with each episode having 3 levels each and then a boss fight. In each level, there are various moments of lore and world building that if you really spend time with it, it tells an amazing story. The game tells just enough for you to let your imagination run wild and fill in the “story gaps”.

Due to the story taking quite the backseat in this game, there isn’t a lot of voice acting in this game. Apart from the Champion’s pain grunts, jump sounds and alike… There is only one character that really says lines. That’s the voice of the ancients, who is played by Tamara Ryan. She did an amazing job in voicing that character. I really enjoyed her comments when I returned to the level hub. And also, I wasn’t able to find out who voiced the main character, but the voice work there is amazing as well.

Now, if you have read earlier articles from me, you might expect that I’m going to say that it’s a shame that the story take such a backseat, but you would be wrong. I think the execution and the pacing of the story in this game is excellent. The story is told through the world building and because of this, each episode feels like a sort of anime arch/season with a start, middle and end. Especially, because each episode tells a different story with different enemies and ways you have to defeat the levels. The only thing that remains the same are the weapons and their abilities.

Something that remains the same are the controls. Those smooth and amazing controls. I really like how in control I feel of the Champion I play as. I also like things like the fact you can even choose how your crosshair looks in the options menu. That’s so lovely and allows you to add that personal touch to the game that I really love.

It’s shooting time

At it’s core, this game is an old-school linear shooter. The best way to somewhat explain the gameplay of this game is take games like Dusk or Blood, and put them in a dark fantasy setting. So, in this game, you through long levels, shooting your way through various enemies with various weapons. While going through the levels, you also have to hit switches, flip levers, make jumps, hunt for keys to open doors and maybe find secrets along the way. With a handy press of the tab button, you can easily see how many enemies and secrets there are left, but also your time in the level. So, there is an in-game time mode for speedrunners. Lovely.

So, let’s talk about the weapons you can use in this game. The “infinite ammo” weapon in this game is the Axe of the Black Labyrinth. It’s a rather strong weapon, but it’s extremely slow. I’m quite sure that this weapon was my least used weapon because of that slow speed. You also had to get up close and personal with the enemies for it to have effect, and the hectic and fun combat of this game doesn’t always allow that. Since, health in this game is rather precious. I’m not saying that this game is brutal, but if you don’t understand how the enemies work, the can become a lot of trouble.

Maybe the first shooting weapon in this game might be of help. It’s what I call “an upgraded version of Heretic’s staff” and it’s called the Staff of the Azure Orb in this game. While it’s far from the strongest weapon in the game, it was one of my favorite weapons to use. This is a water based weapon, so if you hit flame enemies with it, you deal some extra damage. But then again, water based enemies are immune to this weapon. So remember that well when you are fighting to use another weapon in case of water spirits.

Another weapon like the Whisper’s Edge. It might give you an edge in combat since it’s a sort of “shooting sword”. And not like you shoot energy beams from the top of the blade, oh no. You shoot “slashes”. This is a slow weapon, but it’s a very strong weapon. I see it as the shotgun of the weapons in this game. If you use it well, you can deal a lot of damage, quite fast. And that’s handy since this game likes to put you into tight rooms with a lot of enemies with their unique quirks. It’s essential to understand the weapons and the enemies in each episode, since that knowledge will help you survive the episode.

Like in the original DooM, each enemy has their own unique cry and sound effect. Learning these sound effects and playing this game with a good headset or surround system is a must. It helps you quite a lot to avoid dying over and over again in the chaotic and addictive battles. Something that also helped quite a lot is the Voltride. This is Poseidon’s trident combined with Zeus’ thunder in weapon form. Oh, do I love this weapon since it’s such a strong weapon, but it eats through your mana so quickly.

Speaking of mana, there are three types of mana in this game. Blue, Green and Orange mana. I really like the attention to detail that this game has with giving the ammo count the same color as the mana you need to pick up to power it. The first weapon in the roster with orange mana is the Celestial Claw. This bazooka of a claw shoots actual planets, and sometimes even our own Earth! Man, I love to use this weapon to try to hit a lot of enemies at once while circle strafing around the room.

The next weapon on the list if the Star of Torment. This weapon has its use cases. This is a weapon you need to learn how to use, since it’s not your typical “gun weapon”. The Star of Torment is a weapon that can cause not only splash damage to nearby enemies, but it can also nail enemies to the floor and/or walls if used correctly. I like to use it in crowded rooms to quickly damage the biggest enemies, they are easy pickings when I’m focusing myself on the weaker enemies.

My last case scenario is the Aethurnum. This weapon is quite close to a small screen nuke. It will rip out the souls of the enemies quite easily. And with these souls, you can charge up your soul meter. At a certain point, your soul meter is full and you can activate a sort of “rage mode”. In this mode, your weapons are stronger and do a lot more damage, but they also eat you a LOT more of your mana. I’m not going to spoil the alternate attacks of each and every weapon but let’s just say that the slow weapons aren’t slow anymore.

There is no armor in this game, so that means that you really need to be careful while playing this game, so you don’t die. In the levels, there are also red orbs you can collect that heal you. But be careful, sometimes it’s more recommend to either safe the orb and pick it up later, since it might not be the only time you pass through the section. But, if you learn the enemy attack patterns and really dive into how this game works, you might be able to even pass up some of those health pickups since, full is full.

Worship or not?

Visually, this game does a lot right. This game is the best cross between old school 3D shooters on the PS1, while it looks quite modern as well. The artstyle and theming in this game is superb, and if only I had a stronger gaming PC to see how the new DLSS visuals look like. Since, from what I have seen in the promotional material, the game looks even better.

As I said earlier in this article, the story in this game really takes a backseat, and the game tells you just enough to fill in the details with your imagination. Well, a lot of that has to do with the amazing work the developers did in theming each episode. For example, one episode is quite industrial themed. So, you go through old machines, use giant cog wheels to go around while you avoid robots with lasers. Another episode is more medieval themed, so you will see knights and soldiers hunting you down.

In terms of the UI, I don’t have anything I would change. I really like how you quickly get all the information you need from it. It shows you on the left, your health and your soul power and on the right, your mana and the acquired weapons. Combine that with the beautiful animations as this game has, and the package is complete.

For real, the way how enemies go into a stun animation or die, it told me all the right information I needed to know to try and survive the rather hectic fights. The same counts for the bosses. While they are quite challenging, they telegraph their attacks quite well to give you a chance to dodge and/or get to a safe spot. It makes the game even more fun to play.

A guilty pleasure of mine is that if there are cheats in the game, I like to experiment with them. The cheats in this game give this game such a nostalgic feel to me. But, then you have amazing things like you can play the episodes somewhat out of order. Like, how you can choose which level to play like in the 2nd episode of Nightmare Reaper. It’s really great stuff.

So, earlier I talked about that you need to learn the sound effects of each enemy. I said that for a reason, since the sound design in this game is really, really good. I’m so glad that I play PC games with a noise-cancelling headset, since I’m quite sure it saved me several times from dying. Combine that with an amazing soundtrack by the legendary Andrew Hulshult and the music and sound design gets a chef’s kiss… A ten out of ten. The soundtrack has been part of my work playlist for quite a long time, I love it. It fits the theming of the game like a glove.

There is a lot of attention to detail in this game, like how you have different death screens in this game tell you how you died and giving you quick and easy access to either reload the level, reload a save… The polish in this game makes it quite tricky to find negatives in this game. Yet, there are a few things I really didn’t like.

First of all, this is something I think can be fixed with a patch, but the alt+tab out of the game is extremely glitchy. I had to start and quit the game several times since it had quite a hard time remembering my screen size. It also wasn’t always active, and it switched between focus and not focused mode quite often.

The second thing, could also be fixed with a patch, but the counter in the codex isn’t always correct. Especially with the episodes. For some reason, it’s stuck at 8 for me, while it has double the pages.

But the 3rd thing is something I really disliked. The lack of a map screen. There isn’t an in-game map in this game. And if there is one, I haven’t been able to find it. While this game has great level design, and it flows quite nice, I sometimes missed in-game map to find secrets more easily. Since, some secret locations are so silly as underneath a stair.

Something I feel honestly somewhat mixed about are the power ups. There are so rare and far between, I honestly didn’t remember that this game had power-ups before I clicked open the codex for this article. While it came flooding back then, I think that there could have been much more use of these. Maybe if there is ever a multiplayer or death match or even a sort of zombie style mini-game, I think they can shine.

As you can see, this game is an excellent retro throwback shooter with a lot of polish. The fact that even after 3 years, this game gets frequent updates to polish up bugs and the game, I can’t really fault it for a lot besides not having a sort of in-game map. I really enjoyed myself with this game and I highly recommend it to everybody who enjoys playing shooters like Dusk, Nightmare Reaper, Blood, Bioshock, DooM… It’s really good. Be aware, it isn’t the easiest game you will play, but it’s a fair game, and it has that: “just one more try” attitude written all over it.

I’m really curious to see what the new DLC will bring since it will have new levels, new music and new weapons. Then, I shall wake up the champion once more to fight amid the evil and conquer it. But until then, I think I’ll end of the article here. I want to thank you so much for reading this article, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Review: Blood: Fresh Supply (PC – Steam) ~ He lives AGAIN.

Blood_logoWikipedia entry – Steam linkSteam link
The Build Engine. One of the biggest game engines ever created in 3D shooter history. Three landmark titles have been created in that engine called Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior and today’s topic: Blood. Back in the day, I used to download a lot of old archived shareware or demo versions of old DOS games. In one of these adventures, I downloaded the demo for the legendary Blood, and I was hooked. At the time, things like Steam weren’t what they are today and I still was in secondary school (high school for you Americans) and too young to start a holiday job. Then, on one summer Steam sale, I found this game for a rather cheap price and I thought: “Why not.”. So, I bought the game for €1 and moved on with my day. Then, COVID-19 happened last year, and I was looking through my game library to play after work. I booted up Blood, and it got my top 10 games of 2020 list. Why did I give this game a spot on my top 10 games list? What did I like so much about this game to place it on that list? Let’s find out together while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts/opinions on the content of the article and/or the game.

He lives AGAIN

Blood 1In this game, you take on the role of Caleb. Caleb has a reputation for being a merciless gunfighter from the Midwest. Caleb is a servant of the god Tchernobog and his minions called ‘The Cabal’. Now, for some reason, our “friendly” god kills Caleb and his fellow chosen for whatever reason and dumps Caleb in a grave. Caleb rises up from his grave several years later, and he is looking for vengeance of course.

Like your typical old school 3D shooters, the story isn’t the main focus of this game. Most of the story in this game is told through cutscenes at the start and end of a chapter and the environment that you are going through. Speaking about which, there is are  a lot of moments like: you start on the train you that you crashed in the previous level. The whole game feels interconnected due to small details like that.

There are a few cutscenes in the game that enhance the story by a little. The reason I’m saying only a little is that the total runtime of these cutscenes is give or take only 5 minutes. Which is a shame, since the cutscenes really added to the atmosphere of the game. On the other hand, I think that if this game had more cutscenes, it would overpower the gameplay and the environmental story telling.

There is voice acting in this game. Of course, you have your typical enemy shouting that is as immersive as the cowboy shouting from Outlaws. You also have your wise-cracking main character Caleb voiced by Stephan Weyte. Stephan also did voice work for one of my favorite edutainment companies Humongous Entertainment. He voiced several side characters in the Pajama Sam and Freddi Fish games. Before I start rambling about unrelated things for this review, I have to say that Stephan killed it with his performance in this game. His delivery is extremely memorable, and I love his voice work for this game. A fun fact is that the voice acting for our evil god has been done by the executive producer Jace Hall.

Should you play Blood for the story? Oh, heavens no. Don’t misunderstand me here, the story of this game is fine, but it is far from the best story you can experience in a shooter. The story is there to set the mood and set up the atmosphere of this game and to help you immerse yourself in the game. But, nothing more nothing less.

Now, if we check on the Blood Wiki on the amount of different versions and ports that this game got we learn that there are two versions of this game on Steam. You have Blood – Fresh Supply and Blood – One Unit Whole Blood. At the moment of writing, the “One Unit Whole Blood” version has been removed from Steam and the “Fresh Supply” version is still up for sale. I found a nice forum post about the biggest differences on the GOG.com forums between the two versions. As the title suggests, I played Fresh Supply for this review.

Crazy cultists

Blood 3I don’t think I have to explain what you have to do in old school 3D shooter games. You have to fight various enemies, find keys to open doors, do some platforming and solve some puzzles. Personally, I compare this game in a way to games like Heretic and Duke Nukem 3D. It’s an old school 3D shooter with amazing weapons and power ups to aid you in your battle against your enemies. There are a lot of different enemies with their own attack sound, strengths, and weaknesses.

Most of the weapons in this game has a secondary fire mode. For example, the double barred shotgun secondary fire shoots both bullets at once or the Tommy gun’s second fire let out a burst of bullets where you swing the weapon back and forth. You can even use one weapon as a turret and another weapon is a voodoo doll.

But the most iconic weapon in Blood is the dynamite. There are big differences in terms of the dynamite you can use. You have your normal dynamite, proximity, and dynamite you can remotely detonate. Depending on the chosen difficulty, the skill to use your weapons and especially dynamite is essential to your survival. I can’t count how many times I had to resort to dynamite to “thin out the herd”.

Speaking about the difficulty, if you aren’t too familiar with all Blood’s mechanics and secrets and different routes, I don’t advise the higher difficulty settings. I have to admit that I’m not the most skilled player when it comes to shooters and I had an extremely hard time with the medium setting. Get used to the mechanics of this game before you play on the highest difficulty settings and thank me later. The game is otherwise too frustrating for newcomers.

Earlier, I said that this game feels quite interconnected due to the level design. That start of the level represents the previous level. Most of the levels have a sort of linear design. You have to backtrack quite rarely. Yet, I found myself stuck in a few levels and the map system, while impressive, was far from helpful. Now, in terms of map systems, I think I might be spoiled by the more modern design methods where the key door locations are marked on your map.

Sadly enough, there are some moments that the level design wasn’t the best. For example, I found one or two spots where you can get soft locked. But more annoyingly, I found some monster rooms quite annoying since the exit gets locked, and you have to go switch hunt. I think these moments could have benefitted from Caleb saying: “Where is the switch” when interacting with the door.

This game is controlled through mouse and keyboard. While this game has controller support, I only played this game through mouse and keyboard. I didn’t have any problems with the controls and felt they worked amazingly. After a minor bit of tweaking to fit the AZERTY lay-out better that we use here in Belgium, I was able to master the responsive controls.

Visually, this game still looks fine. The visual improvements you can choose to either enable or disable are a great way to choose between the vanilla textures and the newer “more modern” visuals. Of course, this game really shows its age in the visual department but, that isn’t a bad thing for this game. I still find that the visual atmosphere is created amazingly, and I feel that the world still feels somewhat real and alive.

Something that truly impressed me are the animations. The animations in this game are a masterclass in how animations should look in shooter games. Enemies that get shot in the legs crawl towards you and keep shooting, enemies set on fire with a flare run around crazily… And that are just two examples.

Very rarely, I found some visual glitches. In one level there was some Z-fighting with a pillar switch. (Z-Fighting is when two textures overlap and the game can’t decide which one to show, so it flickers in between them.) In some spots, the shells of the Tommy gun vanished. These moments were thankfully rare and didn’t impact gameplay too much.

Dynamite

Blood 2The sound design in this game is extremely important. If you don’t pay attention to the well crafted sound effects, you might miss some important enemy cues especially from the zombies. Since those don’t die right away from the weaker weapons. So, yeah, heard of hearing and deaf people are disavantaged when it comes to this game.

Sadly enough, the soundtrack could have been better. I feel that it’s too short and for some reason, it bugged out during my playthrough and it didn’t always play. While I was writing this section of the review, I was listening to the soundtrack on YouTube and I heard some tracks I haven’t heard in the game. While the music in itself is quite good and adds a lot to the atmosphere but it being only around 30 minutes, I felt that the soundtrack is too short for the game’s length.

This game has the perfect length for a shooter game like this. This game packs all the expansion packs so that means that a casual playthrough might take you around 10-ish hours. If you want to go for 100% you might be able to double that. But, this game gets so much more challenging and rewarding when you play it on higher difficulty settings so you might be able to get a lot more hours out of it than that.

Now, there is one thing in terms of the UI I really didn’t like. That’s the weapon wheel / ammo system. Let me explain. In the bottom center, you can see how much ammo you have for your weapons. Just like in other shooters from that time period, you have no idea which number corresponds with which weapon. It still shows “0″ even when you don’t have that weapon. The weapon wheel also doesn’t really show well to which weapon it’s going to switch since, it’s a wheel. When you pass the last weapon, it goes back to the first.

There is one thing I feel that the game totally dropped the ball on. And that’s the saving system. It’s not that the saving system doesn’t work, but it’s extremely bare bones. This game uses manual saving. There is no checkpoint saves when you enter a new level, but that isn’t such a big problem. I don’t mind manually saving once in a while I enter a new level or passed a difficult section. What I do mind is that the load system doesn’t give you ANY information in which level the save is. On top of that, you only have a limited amount of save slots and no visual information when you successfully saved the game. I worked around it by naming my saves with the level name like: “E1M3” (Episode 1 Map 3) and some additional info, but it shouldn’t be such a pain. Thankfully, we have a way better system now-a-days.

A minor thing that I really didn’t like in this game is the respawn mechanic. Of course, when you die, you are going to respawn at the start of the level with only your pitchfork. No problem there. But, the issue is in my opinion that the reloading just take a bit too long for my liking. It’s always faster to load your save from the pause menu then waiting on the game to respawn you. It might also save you some frustration since “pitchfork starting” isn’t always the most enjoyable way to play some levels.

This game also has Steam Achievements. These were a whole lot of fun to try and get. After I had beaten the game, I got 6 out of the 20 achievements. I could have gotten more but for some reason, my game glitched out and some achievements are still locked. Oh well, all the more reason for me to play through the game again at a later date.

There is quite a long list of references in this game. While I was 5 years old at the time of the original release, I had to admit I was able to pick up on several references. Maybe my love for retro games and retro media might have helped me out quite a lot there.

Oh, before I forget, there is a multiplayer mode in this game. I’m sorry but I haven’t played it at all so I’m not going to comment on it. But, from what I have read and seen, you both have your typical death match gameplay and a way to play through the campaign in a co-op fashion. That is sounding quite interesting for when I can let friends come over again.

And with that said, I think it’s high time for me to wrap up this review. I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game and before I ramble on and on, I’m going to wrap up this article in a neat conclusion like I usually do for my review articles.

Conclusion time

The good:

+ Amazing shooter with replay value.

+ Easy to learn but oh so difficult to master.

+ Still good looking after all these years.

+ Amazing audio design.

+ …

The bad:

-The save and load system isn’t the best.

-The weapon wheel is a bit broken.

-Some softlocks / switch hunting moments.

Final thoughts:

Blood is a game that came out in 1997. This game is almost 25 years old and I have to say that this game still holds up amazingly well. The visual improvements that the Fresh Supply remake brings to the table are amazing. It gives a breath of fresh air in an already amazing game.

While I was researching this game, I found several video’s by one of my favorite YouTubers Civvie11. The release of this remake wasn’t the best. Thankfully, through the years, the game got various patches and updates that improved the game quite a lot to the point that I barely noticed the points that Civvie gave in his original “Blood: Fresh Supply is broken” video.

Apart from some flaws, this game holds up amazingly well. I knew that Blood had a high reputation when I started playing it and I was so happy when the game didn’t dissapoint me at all. Of course, I encountered some jank because this game isn’t the newest but that’s to be expected.

Would I recommend this game to people who enjoy shooters? Absolutely. This game gets an easy recommendation from me. The game costs only 8,2€ here and let me tell you, you can play a lot worse games for that price. The few issues this game have can be taken care off and they won’t hinder your playthrough too much. Is Blood one of the best retro game shooters? Easy answer, yes. Yes, it is. It’s as good as the original Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Duke Nukem and if you enjoy retro games and especially shooters it should be a crime to not at least give this game a try.

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

Score: 95 / 100

The 5th Retrospective Blogger / Creator collab is going to be about.. (Writer/YT’er call-out!)

In 2017, I came up with the idea of doing a retrospective in a special way. I gathered several writers and I created the “The Legend Of Zelda Retrospective – A Bloggers Journey“. The year after that, in 2018, one of the writers of Zelda retrospective took on another series in the same style. That series was Final Fantasy and that was bundled in the “Final Fantasy: A Crystal Compendium“. Later that year, it was my turn again. So I gathered writers for a series near and dear to my heart and that’s the Tomb Raider series. So, “Tomb Raider – Writer’s Raid” was born. Oh, and in 2019 the madlad Well Red Mage did another one… about, all. the. Mario. Games. Yes, including spin-offs. The “Super Mario Multiverse: Compilation” is the 4th one in this style. And now, it’s time for the announcement of the 5th one. 

How does this retrospective works?

How does this retrospective work? Well, the idea is quite simple. The first thing that happens is that somebody decides on a series to take a look at and lists all the games that should be included in the collab. In that case, the organizer knows how many writers are needed to at least look at the main games and how many additional writers are needed for the spin-offs. 

Depending on the amount of writers, the idea of this collab is that each writer takes as few games to write about as possible. The writer publishes their piece on their own blog/channel/page… Unless they don’t have one, then the organizer looks for a place to publish it. Each piece links back to the hub article that’s published on the organizer’s blog/channel/page. 

The hub and each article are published at the same time. That way, you can go to the hub article and read about your favorite game or about the game you always wanted to know about. And there are a few benefits as well. The creator community comes closer together and meets the fellow creators and opens doors for future collaborations. And for the readers, you might discover new content creators to follow and enjoy. 

Now, what are these articles about? Well, when I organize these collabs I always give the full freedom to the writers to write a piece to their liking. The only “rules” I have is that the article links back to the hub article, uses the art piece made for the collab and that it’s at least 1,000 words long. The article can be a review, a personal story about the game, the development history, interesting facts about the title, comparison between original & remake… As long as it focuses on the chosen title by the content creator, it’s all fine. 

The freedom I give to the writers means that it’s not a retrospective by definition. Since not every article will talk about the development history of the series. This isn’t a bad thing in my eyes, since the main idea of the retrospective is to promote other writers and celebrate a certain series and talk about personal stories and create something unique. My end goal is to create a group of friends that works together to create this celebration of this series. 

This seems like a long and complicated explanation but if you take a look at the finished works, I think it paints a clear picture of the end product. It’s up to the organizer to choose the publish date for each & every article and which writer gets which game. I personally advise against two or more writers taking the same game, but if you want to do it differently in your collab, I’m not stopping you… It’s your collab after all. 

The tease

So, a few days ago, I put out a tease that I was doing one of these collabs again. Yet, I kept the series a secret. The reason for that is because I recorded a podcast together with Alex Sigsworth about gaming music. At the end of the recording, I teased that I was in the final planning stages of this sort of collab but I refused to reveal the subject. 

At first, he was going to be able to publish it today but sadly some editing issues popped up and he has to delay it to next week Sunday. I wanted to avoid him uploading a podcast where I tell that this collab is still a secret while I fully reveal it later before he uploaded it. 

Yet, we came both to an agreement that it’s fine for me to reveal the series while he will see what he can do in editing. I’m going to leave that fully onto him. So, it’s possible that he cuts everything out about that or he puts in a disclaimer that it’s recorded before this reveal… It’s all fine in my book. But yeah, I wanted to tell this “behind the scenes” story in case if there is some misunderstanding when the podcast does goes live. I’m quite looking forward to the podcast since his previous ones were amazing and it was a lot of fun to record with him. 

The reveal and such

A few writers jumped in blind already. So far: Andrew Fisher, Eric Fellner, TriformTrinity and Gaming Omnivore signed up. That you so much for that. Now, of course with 5 writers we aren’t going to be able to tackle a series that’s extremely close to a lot of childhood’s hearts… I want to catch more writers for this collab. I want to catch ’em all to have enough writers for this journey/adventure… And if it hasn’t clicked yet… It’s going to be about:

Pokemon-logo

Yes! It’s going to be about Pokémon! 

So, if you want to help out in this collab, what do you have to do and have?

I would love it if you have your own blog or YouTube channel. I wouldn’t mind publishing one or two articles if you don’t have your own space but I would prefer it if you have your own space. 

If you are interested, feel free to contact me over mail, Twitter or Discord. (My handle is NekoJonez#5471). Give me a link to your own site/page and if everything checks out, I add you to the group. 

For this collab, all the articles will be in English. So, if you decide to write an article or make a video, it should be in understandably English. It doesn’t need to be in perfect English, but remember that it’s going to be a sort of “ad” for your blog/channel to possibly interest new readers/watchers. 

At the moment, there is no real name or publishing date planned for this project. When I have enough content creators, I’ll look for a date and time when everything can be published. We will look for a date that works for almost everybody. 

Keep in mind that I’m trying to get as many content creators as possible. So, that means that I’m not going to allow content creators picking too many games. And also, when a game is taken by a content creator, it’s taken by that content creator. If you want to trade, it should be agreed upon with both content creators and me. 

When you want to write an article, it has to be at least 1,000 words. If you want to create a video, I expect a video that’s at least 5-10 minutes long. 

If you want to read/watch the final product, well keep a look out on my blog and Twitter. More information will appear on there. But for now, I’m quite interested in who is going to sign up for this collab and I’m rather curious for the end result. So, who is going to join us on this adventure? 

With that said, thank you so much for reading and 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!

Publishing: Hissatsu Studios presents Space Outlaw Alice!

header.png

Description

Space Outlaw Alice follows Alice, the main character, as she gets targeted by the corrupt government of the Earth Union and must also deal with mysterious extra-dimensional monsters that appeared out of nowhere. As she runs through the stages, the player will experience a classic platform action with jumping and shooting. However, each stage also contains segments where she will pilot Seraph, her giant robot, and the game will shift to a horizontal scroller shooter. Space Outlaw Alice is highly inspired by the classic games of the NES/Famicom console as well as the mecha anime genre. Its plot and characters are carefully presented through 8-bit cutscenes between the stages.

History

The year is 2378 A.D. Humanity is expanding into space, but its progress is being held back by the corrupt regulation of Earth Union. In addition to the inability to rely on its own government, both Earth and space are plagued by criminal activities and terrorist attacks. Alice, a fearless outlaw, and captain of the spaceship Valiant Gear accept the job to raid a military facility and gets caught up in a situation that will determine the fate of the world. Targeted by the Earth Union army and facing the coming of extra-dimensional creatures that threatens to exterminate all forms of life, she and her crew will need to make a decision. Run and mind their own business or join the battle and help everyone?

Features

  • Retro platformer action
  • Retro shoot’em up action
  • NES inspired pixel art graphics
  • Upbeat 8-bit inspired music
  • Six two-part stages
  • Hidden weapons and upgrades
  • Flashy special attacks
  • 8-bit cutscenes presenting an engaging plot
  • Fights against trained soldiers, monsters and robots

Space Outlaw Alice | Indiegogo Campaign
The crowdfunding campaign for Space Outlaw Alice. igg.me.

Space Outlaw Alice at Game Jolt
Space Outlaw Alice’s page on Game Jolt. The playable demo is available. gamejolt.com.

Space Outlaw Alice at itch.io
Space Outlaw Alice’s page on itch.io. The playable demo is available. hissatsu-studios.itch.io.


About Hissatsu Studios

Boilerplate
Hissatsu Studios is a Brazilian indie game studio founded by Lucio de Godoy in April 2017. Its main inspirations are the 8-bit and 16-bit era videogames. Hissatsu Studios is currently working on its first project, Space Outlaw Alice, a pixel art game with distinct platformer and horizontal shoot’em up segments alternating in a single adventure. It is inspired by the NES/Famicom classics and some of their technical limitations.

More information
More information on Hissatsu Studios, our logo & relevant media is available here.


Space Outlaw Alice Credits

Lucio de Godoy
Game Designer, Artist, Programmer

Rafael Giordanno
Composer

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

header

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 number 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 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 the 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 work. That’s another reason why I’m not going to republish the games.

Anyways, let’s end this storytime 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 an 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 the 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 many 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 the variety. A power fantasy in another world would be extremely easy and generic. Most RPGs 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.

retro_game_challenge_coverart

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 beating 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 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 the 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.

cropped-oty2.jpg

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.

Writers Raid: Tomb Raider Level Editor ~ Lara Raided Fantombs

Tomb_Raider_Level_Editor

Today I want to take you on a journey. Together with various other writers, we decided to celebrate the Tomb Raider series. While a lot of people look at the early Tomb Raider games as games that didn’t age well, I don’t mind that much. True, the games aren’t the best to play nowadays, but I still enjoy them. I knew that there was a level editor as a child but I never took the time to learn the ins and outs of the tool. In the past, I thought that it was a cheating tool that allowed you to edit levels to give you an advantage. Anyways, the level editor, that’s the theme of this article.

History

Now, what’s the TLRE? What’s the Tomb Raider Level Editor? Well, it’s the actual tool that Core Design used to create the first 5 Tomb Raider games. This tool was released to the public in 2000. Included in the package were beta versions of various levels and a couple of completed levels. A bit later, Eidos Interactive released another few levels. You can dig deeper into the details of those levels on the Tomb Raider Wiki.

If you want to mess around with the tool itself, you can find it here. Out of personal experience, I can say that the tool works on Windows 10. There are various tutorials you can find online. On YouTube and on various forums. Here are a few links you could use:

http://www.tombraiderforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=16

https://tombraiders.net/stella/trle.html

http://www.trle.net

https://www.aspidetr.com/en/tools/tomb-raider-level-editor/

There is also an updated fan version of the tool called Tomb Raider Level Editor Next Generation. It’s quite a mouthful, but it has more features than the original tool. It also has widescreen support and various other features. More information can be found on this website: http://www.trlevelmanager.eu/ng.htm or you can read about it in detail on this forum thread: http://www.tombraiderforums.com/showthread.php?t=216848

Before I continue with this article, I have to admit that I’m not that good at creating levels with the tools. So, if you are looking for a review of the tools, I think you are in the wrong place. In this article, I want to take a look at some random levels I played. Most of these levels are created by other people and the download link will be provided. If you want to play any custom created levels yourself, the best website to find them is: http://www.trle.net

Do keep in mind that all of these custom levels run on one the engine of Tomb Raider I, II, III, IV or V. So, don’t expect HD visuals or anything that the engine can’t handle. So, if you aren’t into the original Tomb Raider games, you might not get into these levels. But, if you are a Tomb Raider fan or enjoy retro adventure games, do give them a try. And don’t worry, there are reviews on almost every level on TRLE.net so you know if a level is good or not.

To play the custom levels you don’t need to have the level editor itself installed or any of the Tomb Raider games. The way how you play these levels is quite simple. After downloading a level, you unpack them and click on the .exe file. In some cases, you can hold the CTRL key down to adjust some options like the visuals and things like that. Sometimes there is a readme file included by the author to aid you when certain problems occur. Do read them, since sometimes there is useful information in there. Uninstalling a custom level/game is quite simple. Since you didn’t have to install anything, you can just remove the files.

For beginners

Now, if you decided that you want to give these custom levels a try and you haven’t played Tomb Raider in the past or it was too long ago, let me give you some advice to better enjoy these custom levels. This might look like a lot to take in, but you will get used it to when you play more levels. Start with the highest rated ones. Those are really well built and rarely have cheap traps or overly difficult jumps in them.

First of all, if you run a level that’s made in TRI, II or III, you are able to change the controls from the main menu using the option with the arrow keys. If you are playing a custom level created in TRIV or V, you are able to do so using the “P” key during gameplay. Here is the basic layout for the keys:

TRLE1

Feel free to use these pictures as a reference in case the game is in a different language. The sequence of this list almost NEVER changes. To my knowledge, you are unable to rebind the keys in levels created in TR I, II and III. In other cases you can select the action using the arrow keys, press enter and press the key you want to bind it too. Pay attention while you are doing this since the game won’t complain if you bind two things to the same key.

Alright, now while playing this game, know that the game never autosaves. You can save by using F5 and load by using F6. You can save at any location you want, apart from when you are in a cutscene. You can’t pause the game using ESC during cutscenes either.

Remember that Lara never automatically grabs ledges. You need to hold down the action button. So, if you jump towards a ledge, hold that button or you will fill. The same button is used to flick levers, pick up items, press buttons and so on and so forth.

You can save while hanging from a ledge, but press the action button right after the game loaded or you will fall. But, the action button is useful for so much more. From pushing boxes to open trapdoors. If you are stuck, look for a place where the action button does something. Also, when you are trying to open a trapdoor, always try the action button while standing in the middle of aside. The final useful thing to know is when you press action in front of a keyhole and you have the actual key, your inventory will automatically open.

Do experiment with Lara’s jump, since she is quite acrobatic. Something I love using backward rolls when I press a button and quickly need to run away. This can be done by pressing the up and down key together while you perform a jump. In one custom level, I have to jump back and forth between platforms to make it to the other side.

In some cases, Lara will be able to climb up. Whenever she needs to pull herself up in a tight spot, use the duck key while pulling yourself up. That way she will squeeze herself into the tight space.

Here is another hint. If you need to jump from a ladder to something behind you, don’t jump from the top. Lara will bump her head on the ceiling and loose height. You can jump from a ladder by pressing the down arrow and jump (while letting go of the control key), and then hold the up arrow and control. This technique will proof tricky at first, but practice makes perfect.

Now, I could keep explaining the whole move set Lara has. But that’s something you will learn when you play custom levels. Whenever you are stuck, simply google the name of the custom level and add “Tomb Raider Level Editor” behind it. 9.99 out of 10 chances you will find a walkthrough on it. Unless the level just released, in that case, you can either use the TRLE.net forums or wait a day or two.

Or you can experiment by downloading the level editor and playing the first two included levels. These have very easy levels that aid you in learning how the game is played. The download link can be found earlier in the article.

Oh, and it’s maybe handy to know how to exit a game. If you don’t find the quit button easy, just “ALT+F4” always worked for me.

Now, one annoying thing I want to mention is that “ALT+TAB” doesn’t always work. Be careful if you want to look at a walkthrough or something. Since it’s possible that you are unable to open the game again. It might either crash or black screen. If that happens, use task manager to kill the process of the game and load it up again. That’s why I use the F5 key to quickly save before “Alt+Tab”. If you use “Alt+Tab” the safest way to get back to the game is to “Alt+Tab” into the game again. It’s possible that it has two open windows, the best is choosing the window that has a title displayed. In most cases, that’s the name of the engine that’s used.

You can quickly load your game using F6, this is very handy. Since you can save everywhere, you can also save while on ladders or while hanging from a ledge. If you press the Action button (usually the CTRL key) during loading, you won’t fall off the ladder or edge. So, be careful with that.

With that said, it’s time for me to look at a few randomly chosen levels over at TLRE.net. I’ll give my opinions on the levels and a small score. If you know of some amazing levels, please do share them in the comment section down below. Footnote, every rating is on a max score of 10. Be aware, I’m not going to give these levels an in-depth review. Just some quick thoughts.

The Wolf Pack – Part 2

Image00001

Created by: JesseG

Created in: TR4

Rating: 9.25

Released: 23/08/2018

http://www.trle.net/sc/levelfeatures.php?lid=3065

This is at the moment of writing this article, the most recently released entry. This level isn’t beginner-friendly since it requires some precise jumps from ladders. Especially backward. To more experienced players, this level is a nice challenge.

In this level, the character model of Lara is replaced by a wolf model. This model is very nice to look at and the visual presentation fits the visuals of Tomb Raider 4 nicely. The custom music and sound effects are decent. It was quite unexpected to find more MIDI-sounding music in a Tomb Raider level.

At first, I found that the music didn’t fit the Tomb Raider universe at all, but the more I played the game and the more I heard the music, the more it grew on me. I’m adding the music to my game OST library since I like it that much.

This is quite a lengthy game. As a matter of fact, this game can take up to an hour to complete the three levels. In these three levels, you play as two different playable characters. Yes, you have two playable characters. You can swap between them using swap points you find at certain places. Both characters have different unique abilities. This is something I rarely see in TRLE levels and was a pleasant surprise to see.

Since I have played the second part before the first, I think it would be handy if the creator included some sort of link to download the first part of these levels in the download.

The only points of criticism are as follows.  First of all, while almost all sound effects have been changed, I found it strange that the sound effect of falling to your doom hasn’t been changed.

Secondly, I found the first jump from a ladder you had to do pretty annoying. I think it would be better if the platform had a different color or a bit more identification that you are supposed to jump there.

Thirdly, I think that the levels were either too long or too short. The first level was too long and the two other levels were over before I knew it. I think it would have been better if the first level was cut into more levels and the 2nd and 3rd levels were merged into one level.

Overall, a very creative level pack but needs some minor polish to get perfect. This level pack does a lot of unique things in the TRLE community and is really recommended for veteran players or new players looking for a challenge.

Personal score: 9/10

Wolfpack screenie

Lost in Temple

Created by: Sal

Created in: TR5

Rating: 5.98

Released: 11/10/2015

http://trle.net/sc/levelfeatures.php?lid=2873

This custom level is according to the TRLE.net walkthrough a remake of Fenician Temple 4 from Tomb Raider 3. Something that I didn’t like for this model is the outfit Lara is wearing during this level. I felt that it didn’t fit the theming of this level at all.

Lost in Temple screenie

While this level impressed me at the start with some amazing camera angles and two big rooms filled with jump puzzles, the issues with this level became clear to me quickly. This level has quite a lot of backtracking.

This level honestly got a bit boring in my opinion. For example, to solve one block puzzle I had to run from one room to another so many times.

Also, I was unable to play this game in full screen. I had to fix the broken shortcut to the setup tool, which was easy to do. Just replacing the path where the EXE of the game is located. I had to play windowed. But, from the reviews I have read, this might be a universal issue with Tomb Raider 5 and Windows 10.

This level would have been better if there was a bit more direction as well. I had to consult a walkthrough since I didn’t find where I was supposed to go. It turned out that I was able to grab a wall. The thing is, it used the same texture as the bottom part of the wall where the wall isn’t grabbable nor climbable.

Also, I found the walkthrough of the actual author of this level. And he had to speed up some parts of his video. Looking at that video, this level goes on for quite a while. I have quit playing this level when I had to fight enemies in the dark. I just felt done with the level.

Looking at the reviews on TRLE.net, I’m happy to see that there were people who enjoyed this level. Since I have seen much worse. This level is balanced and very detailed. But, it’s unpolished and isn’t fun to play in my opinion.

Personal score: 4/10

Poseidon’s Sanctum

Poseidons Sanctum screenie

Created by: Sarikman

Created in: TR3

Rating: 8.94

Released: 21/11/2011

http://www.trle.net/sc/levelfeatures.php?lid=2478

This level was quite a good one. This level is created in an unofficial editor called DXTRE3D created by Turbo Pascal. This level is also pretty tricky but it’s doable. You will have to think old-school Tomb Raider to find every secret and the way forward in these levels.

I had a great time playing these levels. If you decide to play these levels, I have a tip for you. At first, you might think that the camera does some weird things but pay attention when the angle changes. What is it showing you? Seriously, it shows some extremely helpful things.

Visually, this level looks amazing for using the Tomb Raider 3 engine as a base. I started Tomb Raider III right after playing this one to compare and I like the visuals a bit more at the custom level than in the original one. Sadly enough, there were some minor texturing issues here and there, but they weren’t too noticeable.

The music selection in this level pack is top-notch. I really liked how the music went more silent when you were underwater.

While this level pack has a few bugs, the author provided some screenshots and explanations on how to fix them or how to avoid these bugs. The author also provided a text file with some interesting advice for people who got stuck and not only that, it’s written in a way that Lara is talking to you. Very interesting and fun read.

I won’t talk too much more about this level since if you want to play an amazing example of what people can do with the level editor, just play this level. It’s one of the best I have played in a long while. I haven’t finished this level but I’m going to play this over my next break.

The only advice I could give to the author for this level is if you create bug pictures and such, use more than an arrow to point out ledges. If possible, give them a color or make it a bit more clear which ledge you mean.

Personal score: 8/10

Final words

Thank you so much for reading my entry for the Tomb Raider Writer’s Raid series. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this one. I play from time to time at various TRLE levels. I enjoy them quite a lot. Seeing these new levels makes my retro heart happy.

While I completely understand that there is a crowd that dislikes the old Tomb Raider, I’m not part of that crowd. I enjoy playing retro games quite a lot and I’m always curious about what adventures I’ll find myself in next.

I have been in various unique situations while playing Tomb Raider Level Editor. I wanted to write about this tool for quite a while now. It has been on my “to write about” list for three years now. So, the ultimate excuse was this project.

If you want to read some nostalgic articles from other writers about the Tomb Raider series, feel free to go to the hub article where various amazing writers talk about their experience of the Tomb Raider series. You can find a link here.

With that said, it’s time for my usual outro. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to meet you in another article but until then take care and have a great rest of your day.

Tomb_Raider_raid
The logo for this project is created by The Well-Red Mage

 

NekoJonez’s April 2018 Update

BannerBlog

April 2018 is almost over and there are a few things I would love to tell about the future of my blog. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes, making my life extremely hectic and busy. So, I hope you don’t mind I keep this article extremely short. So, ready, set, go! 

Personal life stuff

Like I said in the introduction, my personal life is quite hectic at the moment. Next week, I’ll have a week off from work. While you would think: “oh, then Jonez has more time for articles.”, that isn’t true at all.

I took a week off from work because the final week of rehearsals for the play I’m in starts up tomorrow. That means I’ll be out of the house each and every evening to perfect the play and have the premiere upcoming Friday.

That’s a lot of work for sure, but during the day, I’ll be a student. Where I’m studying for an upcoming exam in college for my one to least subject. For those who are curious, it’s a SQL-exam.

Also, the past week was exhausting. Long hours at work, studying, acting and I started to play a bunch of new games to review in the future on my blog. I think I better focused on one game. But, hey, I wanted to play some different games too.

In addition to that, I have been buying games left and right, mostly Dutch edutainment games to complete my collection of some series. While I’m glad my collection gets more and more complete, I don’t have the budget right now to buy a Switch. But, one thing is for sure, this year will be the year I’m going to buy a Switch!

Blog work

When April is over, I’ll start making some changes to my blog. At first, I’ll fix typos in older articles and make small changes to articles. Most of those changes will be rewriting sentences that don’t make sense in English. You might have noticed here and there that I use expressions that make sense in Dutch, but not in English. So, that sort of thing.

Besides that, I’ll be changing the layout of my overview pages. I’ll be merging some of them and others will have a design change. In addition to that, I’ll be merging some of my categories too. Series I don’t write anymore will go to an archive and other series will become sub-categories… I hope to be able to finish all the work by the end of this year.

For progress on this, follow me on Twitter. I’ll be tweeting out when I updated something. If the update is bigger then usual, I’ll be writing a short post on my Tumblr who, which is set up to give an automatic tweet when posted.

Besides all the reworking of my blog, I’m still fighting against article theft. Recently, I found out that three blogs (!) were stealing content from me again. Thankfully, two of three are down already. This all started with the publication of my Monster Tale review. I, NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming blog, haven’t got any request for using my review on another site… and yet, I found it on three other websites.

Currently, I’m trying everything I can to take down the root of the problem. It’s a website that is advertised by the three theft bots. So, I hope the websites where the accounts are located take them down.

Now, to close this section with some other news and that is what I’m thinking about something along the lines of Patreon or a PayPal tip jar. So, anybody who wants to support me, can. Now, where would this money go too you might ask. Well, all the money I earn from my blog will go towards my gaming collection. I’ll only buy games I want to review on my blog.

Now, I’m only thinking about this and I’m curious if there is interest in this. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section down below.

Upcoming articles

So, I have a whole list of articles that will appear in the future. My list is a bit too long in my opinion so some articles might not appear soon but later.

First of all, I want to write a first impression – review article on Neon Valley Revenge. Now that the game has been released on Steam as an Early Access title, I want to write an article about it. But, because I didn’t have the time and I had other developer requests waiting for me, I had to delay it a bit. If I find the time, this article will arrive in early May.

So, what games will be getting an article in the future from me? Well, here is a peak on my list of games I want to talk about. Do keep in mind, that this is subject to change depending on how much time I have and what games grab my interest.

God of Thunder (PC), Popolocrios (PSP), Pokémon Diamon, Pearl & Platinium (DS), Star Stable Online (PC), Drawn To Life (DS), Rob (PC), Project Zero II – Crisom Butterfly (PS2), Rayman (PS1), Mario Strikers (Wii), Tomb Raider Underworld (PC)…

Besides that, I do have some things to talk about I promised on Twitter. I have been asked this question by Bradon Green.

Also, I want to write articles like I wrote last week about my nostalgic memories of a series I love. Other series I want to take a look at in this format are Mario, Zelda, Lego games, Freddi Fish and various others.

The final thing I want to mention is that it’s possible that next week might have no article. Because, like I said earlier, I’m quite busy and my focus is more on my acting group and college. If I do find the time, I’ll write an article. Otherwise, next week will have none. It’s a great idea to follow me on twitter @NekoJonez if you want to keep up to date with the latest things happening.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say and keep you up to date about. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it! I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Publishing: NetherWorld: Kickstarter final countdown

logo_NetherworldNetherWorld embraces its last week on Kickstarter has raised more than 80% of its funding goal.

This dark and crazy adventure full of excesses and outlandish characters hopes to raise 5.000€ to finish its development. If the Kickstarter campaign overcomes the initial goal, its developers (Spanish indie studio Hungry Pixel) will add a Nintendo Switch Port, among other new features such as new scenarios, characters, and storylines.

With more than 220 backers and 5K Twitter followers, NetherWorld team faces its campaign home stretch looking for new supports, introducing NetherWorld physical edition and finishing the demo for Windows and Linux.
NetherWorld Kickstarter campaign ends on Tuesday, 20th March.

frontpage_Netherworld

THE GAME: NETHERWORLD

NetherWorld is a 2D horizontal side-scrolling pixel art adventure game, with an irreverent and sinister plot. Its protagonist will be involved in a surreal story after being abandoned by his wife and handling his misfortune with alcohol, drugs, and lust.

The player will be able to discover the sinister land of NetherWorld; explore its darkest corners, get along with weird NPCs, use flames and handguns to battle horrific bosses or just get drunk in a bar.

From the beginning, the main purpose of NetherWorld developers was to create something different, an unusual story with deeply eccentric characters and a pile of -apparently- ridiculous situations.
This adventure will have multiple references to great videogames franchises such as Dark Souls, among others. However, some of them will be only visible for sharp players.

In NetherWorld, most of the fights will be against final bosses, focusing on the story progression, dialogues, and relationships between the different characters.

Each final boss will have unique mechanics, ensuring epic and intense battles. To defeat them and help our black squid-like hero to get over his depression, we’ll have all kinds of weapons. However, sometimes we’ll have to use nearby objects or just flee as fast as possible. In broad strokes, NetherWorld’s dynamics can remind us of Shadow of the Colossus.

mothersuperior_screenshot

General features
• Dark, bloody and twisted world
• Large variety of scenarios
• Deep (and surreal) story
• NPCs with their own behavior and evolution
• Epic battles against huge and grotesque bosses
• Tons of weapons and accessories
• Humor

Kickstarter – Trailer – Screenshots – Official SiteTwitterFacebook

Contact: info@netherworldgame.com

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Press reviews:

International media press:
• InfoGamer: http://infogamer.net/netherworld-irreverent-sinister-side-scroller-well-kickstarter/
• GumShoeGamer: (Interview) https://gumshoegamer.com/2018/02/25/signal-boost-netherworld/
• TGG: http://thegg.net/indie-games/the-brutal-2d-adventure-game-netherworld-has-launched-its-kickstarter-campaign/
• Miketendo 64: https://miketendo64.com/2018/02/21/netherworld-kickstarter-has-begun-aiming-to-come-to-switch/
• BigBossBattle: https://bigbossbattle.com/netherworld-grotesque-adventure-launch-kickstarter/
• EnomView: (3rd position) https://enomview.com/2018/02/20/indie-games-to-support-on-kickstarter-2/
• Retronator: https://www.retronator.com/post/171096092208/im-really-at-a-loss-of-words-here-netherworld-is
• Razors Edge Games: http://razorsedgegames.org/netherworld/
• Scorpzgca: https://scorpzgca.com/2018/03/05/check-out-the-kickstarter-for-the-upcoming-sidescrolling-game-nether-world/

Spanish media press:

• EUROGAMER: http://www.eurogamer.es/articles/2018-03-05-netherworld-el-juego-de-los-madrilenos-hungry-pixel-bsuca-financiacion-en-kickstarter
• Hobby Consolas: https://www.hobbyconsolas.com/noticias/netherworld-sexo-drogas-pixeles-indie-espanol-que-arranca-kickstarter-192116
• Alfa Beta Juega: http://www.alfabetajuega.com/noticia/made-in-spain-de-madrid-a-un-mundo-de-vicios-en-este-nuevo-proyecto-d-120374?page=0%2C0
• Nivel Oculto: https://niveloculto.com/netherworld-amor-grotesco/
• Isla de Monos: http://islademonos.com/estudio-madrileno-hungry-pixel-busca-financiacion-juego-netherworld/
• PCM Games: http://www.pcmgames.com/conociendo-juego-espanol-netherworld/

About Hungry Pixel

This mad idea came up from Daniel Barreno’s mind, creator and developer of NetherWorld. A short while after, Isabel Armentero joined the project to provide the game with her amazing art and design abilities. Together they founded the indie studio Hungry Pixel, where they work hard to make NetherWorld a reality.

 

HungryPixel_logo

First Impression: Dragon Of Legends (PC) ~ DRAGONS!

dragon of legendsSteam pageOfficial website

Today I wanted to talk about a game that drew my attention instantly when I saw the pitch. The name of the game is “Dragon of Legends”. Now, I can’t explain why, but I have a big fascination for dragons if they are used right in stories. This interest led me to play a lot of interesting games like the before mentioned Legend of Dragons. So, when the developer of this game and I mailed a bit back and forth, he gave me a Steam Press key to try out the game. I want to make one thing clear, he said that he didn’t want to read the article before it went up since he didn’t want to influence me or my opinion. So, this will be my opinion. So, this game is still in early access and under active development. So, that means that the issues and things I talk about in this article will be irrelevant or changed when you read this article in the future. For this review, I played version 1.01 released on 22nd December 2017. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

PS: on this date, the game has been released on Steam for one month! Congrats to the developers!

Signs of things to come

20180107181728_1In this game, you play as a character you make and name yourself. In this game, you shipwreck on a beach and you find your mentor, Aldar dying. He provides you with his book and you set on a journey to unlock the secrets of that book. In addition to that, you must clear you and your mentors’ names for a big disaster.

That’s the story of the game for now. I wonder if the introduction will be changed in the final version, but I honestly like that there isn’t too long of an introduction. You get right into the game without any delays instead of having to sit through a long-winded introduction.

Before I talk about the game, I wanted to mention a strange issue I had with the main menu. The game usually boots in a windowed mode. If I full-screened the game in the main menu or the adventure menu, the UI glitches out and made some buttons hard to click. Yet, after I loaded my character, it fixed itself. This was so strange. It’s something you will only experience in the main menu and the character menu. Since the issue was back when I went to change the character on the load screen.

20180107173913_1In any case, in this version, we can choose between three character classes. A mage, a warrior, and a ranged character. The editor to create your character has quite a few options, but the female characters aren’t in the game at this moment in time.

After I created my character, I was on my merry way, exploring the beaches my character just stranded on. A short explanation happens when your mentor dies and you must take his place. This is how your quest starts.

The story is far is rather enjoyable. The writing in this game makes the world come alive and has a unique atmosphere. You really get the feeling you start your adventure small and you work your way up to improve your skills.

While the controls of this game are currently hardcoded into the game, the developer actually said in the Steam Forums that you will be able to rebind the keys in a future version. So, for now, I must awkwardly switch between AZERTY and QWERTY. This isn’t a big problem at all since it will be fixed in the future. So, the game will be polished in the future.

Balancing combat & polish

20180106173521_1Something I found surprising is that in a single-player, the game isn’t paused when you open the pause menu. This will be most likely a bug, but I hope this will be fixed in a future version of the game. If you want to play this game, remember that you will be playing a very early build. The game lacks a lot of polish and not everything is implemented into the game yet.

Something that should be polished is combat. Maybe it’s just me or the way how I play RPG’s like this but the combat is broken in my opinion. One of the first quests is to defeat 5 wolfs and 5 boars. Both enemies charge at you, making range combat difficult.

Something that could help is that you aim where you point your mouse instead of where your character is oriented. This could avoid unnecessary damage, in my opinion. Since I feel that it is cheap hits if you have a mouse pointer and you attack in the direction you are facing. It would make a bit more sense in my opinion.

Also, the difficulty for the first quest is might be a bit too high in my opinion. The enemies hit a tad bit too hard for the introduction quest of the game. Or that might just be me.

If you died during a quest, you need to restart that quest. I think that it would be a bit more interesting if the stakes were a bit higher. What I mean is that you should lose some items or some money instead of just respawning at the latest spawn point you activated.

20180113162841_1Gameplay-wise, this game plays an RPG. While it’s currently quite rough around the edges, the game is still in early alpha. While it was tricky to figure out how I could equip armor and find things in the UI at first, as soon as I got used to it, I was able to do everything.

Another thing the developer could do to improve this game is by adding more sound effects. In the build I played, there was a huge lack of sound effects. I can understand that it’s an alpha build, but the world and game come way more to life if the right sound effects are used.

Some additional visual effects might be a great idea too. For example, you get a sound effect that plays when you level up, but a visual effect would be nice too. To remind the player that they leveled up and can spend points to upgrade your character.

I touched upon this earlier, but the game isn’t paused when you press “ESC”. Well, this is a lot of the UI. If you open the quest menu, you open a book with your quests. I understand the design choice since it has a story context. But, at least, pause the game so the player can read what to do.

In this version, some bugs are present. Of course, it’s an alpha build after all. For example, you can walk next to the doors and you enter the building. While you are doing this, you clip through the building.

Another example is, if you start a dialogue with somebody and you run into another direction so the character is off-screen, the dialogue box will follow you and disappear after a while. This can be fixed in two ways, either you lock the movement of the player until the dialogue is over OR you avoid that the textboxes move when they are off-screen.

The final example I want to give is the fact that you can use potions to heal when you died. I can go on for a while, but these things are things you can patch out in future development versions. That’s why this game is released in alpha, to iron out the bugs and add additional content. (Like, where is the potion shop?)

So far, I have beaten the first quest and tried to find as many bugs or issues with the game as I could. While there are a lot of things that could improve, most of them are not that game-breaking. The game that’s currently here is solid and enjoyable to play.

DRAGONS!

20180106173045_1The visual presentation of this game is right up my alley. The pixel art and 16-bit inspired look, I find amazing. It’s no secret that I enjoy playing a retro game occasionally, and I get nostalgic seeing this artwork.

There is one minor thing I would change in terms of the UI, and that is the portrait in the top left of the screen. It would add so much if that portrait changes into your character’s face. If that’s planned for a future release, please do it.

If I could change one thing in the game, that would be the font. I mind opinion, in some places, the font looks blurry or badly rendered. Also, it made me think of some places there were some black bars or white spaces between the UI.

The animations are good. While some of them lack impact due to not having sound effects yet, some require just a bit more work. Like, the stunning animation. I would think it would have more impact if the character wobbled a bit.

So, in terms of the presentation, you also have the music. The music is rather calm and melodic. I really enjoy this music and I think it really fits the game quite well. Maybe this might be just me, but it makes me nostalgic for the MIDI-music from back in the day. If the soundtrack would be sold for a cheap price on Steam, I wouldn’t mind buying it and add it to my playlist when I’m relaxing.

The game does autosave, I think. I have no idea at what points it autosaves though. So, I think adding an animation for that would be nice. Like a map screen, that would be a handy feature to have as well.

20180113162841_1Trying to review an early access/alpha game is a tricky thing to do. On one hand, you know that there still some work that needs to be done to finalize the game while on the other hand, I want to review the experience I just had. At its current state, the game needs a lot of improvement, but it’s on the right track.

Personally, I believe that if the developer continues with the development and improving the game, I think this game might become even better. At this moment, the game is a bit rough which makes the 10€ asking price a great price to try the game out.

If you enjoy or find interesting what I have talked about, give this game a shot. It comes recommended from me. It has quite a lot of potential. I’ll certainly keep an eye on this game while it develops further since I enjoyed this game quite a lot.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to see you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Creative Christmas #12 – Game Of The Year (2017)

OrnamentsTrim_treetoppers99792-171002_1506972985225

Yesterday was the final day of double articles since the holidays are almost over for me. So, I to start today with is the final article in the creative Christmas collab I did with LaterLevels. It was quite an enjoyable ride and I hope you all enjoyed the stories told in the past few days. The question for today is a question that sort of relates to yesterday’s article where I talked about my favorite games of 2017. Now, I have to make a hard decision. Just look at the question to understand why. Also, remember, this is my opinion here okay? 

You wake up the following morning, hungover but happy – you have an entire day of gaming ahead of you. You start thinking back over the video games you played during 2017; what was your game of the year?

This year had a lot of great games released. While I haven’t played them all, I do have to admit that I had a lot of fun. While I personally dislike picking one game and putting it at number one, to say it’s the best game made that year; I’m going to do my best this time to pick a winner.

So, the rules for myself here are: the game had to be released in 2017 and I had to play it for at least 3 hours. This narrows down my list to quite a few games. It makes it easier to work with too.

layton lady katrielle mystery journeyThe first two games that I scrap from my list are two amazing 3DS titles. Those are Metroid Samus Returns and Ever Oasis. Both games are great, but I felt that I enjoyed other titles more this year on the 3DS.

Now, I’m left for the 3DS with the amazing titles of Corpse Party and the new Layton game. Since the Corpse Party game is a more expanded port/remake of the PSP version of the game, I’m going to put the new Layton game in favor of the handheld games. The first nominee is Layton’s, Mystery Journey.

BreathoftheWildFinalCoverIn terms of systems where I can play the newly released games on, I think I can still count the Wii U. While barely any games released this year for the platform, one of the biggest titles ever made on the platform. I’m talking about The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild.

This game was finally released after years of waiting. I’m assuming that the needed all this time to polish up this game. It’s an extremely large game and there is a lot to do in the game.

Now, I do know that this game got a lot of prizes at the Game Awards this year, it got even Game of the Year from the press and critics at that show. But, will it get my spot for my game of the year? Well, keep reading this article to get your answer. Unless you spoiled yourself and already read the bottom of the article to get your answer.

A Hat in Time2But before I can say which is my game of the year, I do have to look at the PC. I have also played a ton of games on the PC this year. Games that were released in the past and games released this year. If I have to pick one game for the best game this year on PC, it has to be “A Hat In Time“.

This game surprised me to no end! I’m still amazed at how much fun this game is. This game also knew a long development process and it’s quite clear that the developers really want this game to be the best it can be. They try and fix reported bugs as quickly as they can. They also talk to their fans over at their Discord server.

Also, I’m waiting for the upcoming DLC that this game is going to get in the near future with more vanilla content. Meanwhile, I’m keeping myself busy with various mods and trying to 100% complete the game and get all achievements. For my game of the year pick on PC, I have to say “A Hat In Time”.

Now, let’s think about that, what game shall I put as my game of the year in 2017? Now, I think it’s best that I only pick a game that I have already beaten. That means that Layton’s Mystery Journey falls off my list.

This means that the selection is between Breath of The Wild and A Hat In Time. Now, I’m going to surprise a lot of you readers. If you keep in mind that I’m such a big Zelda fan and I have put over 120 hours into the game. While I only put roughly 20 hours into A Hat In Time and it’s a new IP.

But, my game of the year pick has to go to one game, a game that won by an extremely small margin. And the winner is:

A Hat In Time

Why not Breath of the Wild?

Oh yes. A Hat In Time. Now, why didn’t I pick Breath Of The Wild as my game of the year? Why does a Zelda fan pick a different game than a Zelda game as his game of the year? Now, let me explain where I’m coming from here.

First of all, I think that some mechanics of BOTW don’t really fit the Zelda Universe. I know that the Zelda formula needed some changes and some new ideas, but I feel like they changed a bit too much. Personally, I adore the open world and all the various things you can do in the world, but still.

I miss the lengthy dungeons and unlocking every new skill in a sort of order. Now, what I mean here is that this game misses two big elements. One is the large dungeons since the divine beasts aren’t long enough. In addition to that, I feel like the first part of the game is just, too restrictive. All the powers you can use in the game are given to you at the start of the game.

I would have loved a way to discover the world and discover some areas and find those powers myself. This would have been a much better way to introduce the player to the mechanics.

Korok-SeedIn addition to that, I feel like the game is a bit too big for its own good. I’m not complaining that there are too many or too few contents, but I feel like some shrines and some Korok seeds were a bit uninspired. For example, I felt that there were too many “Tests of Strenght” shrines.

botw shrineI think I can explain myself the best by saying that Breath of The Wild misses something in my opinion. I think the issue I have with the game is that it is too repetitive. Please, don’t misunderstand me now. I’m not saying that the game is bad or that it isn’t a Zelda game.

After you looked for a few shrines, did a few Korok Seeds or did a few side quests, you have seen all the main mechanics. Of course, they are used in different situations, but some things just feel the same with a different coat of paint.

Also, after a while, you feel like you are overpowered and you can handle anything in the game. There is barely anything the game can throw at you to surprise you. Besides, powering up the enemies you find in the wild.

Besides that, I do feel that the game missed something big. Why can’t I have two save files without having to fear to lose access to one? If that’s possible, please tell me. Since I want to start a new save file in Master mode without being afraid that I lose access to my “non-master” mode save file.

Why “A Hat In Time”?

Hat In Time.jpgSo, why did I pick “A Hat In Time” as my favorite game of 2017? Well, the first reason is that it’s the biggest surprise for me this year. I didn’t know I would have so much fun playing that game.

So, remember that I kinda felt that BOTW was repetitive after a while? Well, A Hat In Time doesn’t have that at all in my opinion. Sure, each level requires a healthy dose of platforming, but you are doing something different each and every time.

In one world you are in a world between two different movie directors and in the other world, you are running errands for that big creepy monster that stole your soul. The game oozes with personality and cuteness. Even the finer details like wearing a raincoat during the rainy levels and playing with dolls as an idle animation is the strength of this game.

While it’s a rather short game, I feel like everything is polished to near perfection. I rarely felt that I was unable to do something in the game.

This game made me even enjoy stealth gameplay, something I personally dislike a lot of games. But, Gears For Breakfast made it quite a lot of fun to play. Thank you view cones for that!

For some reason, since I started to play “A Hat In Time”, the game sort of stuck with me. I lost count how many times I listened to the soundtrack while I was at work and I had various tracks from it as my ringtone or my alarm.

In addition to that, I had various scenes from this game as my desktop wallpaper on my computers and my smartphone.

The competition was fierce this year, but I’m still surprised that this game didn’t make it on barely any big awards list. For real, I did an experiment and that is to google “Top 10 PC games of 2017” and looked at all the lists that the first three pages gave me. And I found this game only on 2 lists!

Maybe I’m fanboying a bit too much about this game, but I feel like this game doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. This game proves that it’s possible to make an amazing game using crowdfunding.

While it’s extremely hard for me to choose between Breath Of The Wild and A Hat In Time, I feel that, in my opinion, A Hat In Time is just the better game. Not by much.

If I would be allowed to pick two games, I would surely pick Breath of The Wild AND A Hat In Time as my game of the year for 2017. Yet, both games deserve the praise and recognition they get. Both games were delayed several times to polish the game and make the game better for it.

Both games were amazing games and made me so happy to be a gamer. These two experiences were the best times I had in 2017, gaming-wise. If you feel a bit salty for my pick, maybe this can help. My game of the year from triple-A developers is Breath of the Wild and my game of the year from indie developers is A Hat In Time.

So, that was my answer to today’s question. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to see you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!