Tag Archives: reward

First Impressions: AI – The Somnium Files (Switch) ~ Kotaro Uchikoshi Is At It Again.

Official website

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One of my favorite horror series is the Zero Escape series. I have reviewed every game here on my blog. I have played through all of these games again this year since I introduced the series to my girlfriend. When I’m reviewing adventure games or visual novels, I often find myself referencing 999, Virtue’s Last Reward or Zero Time Dilemma. Now, sadly enough this trilogy of games has ended with Zero Time Dilemma. Now, last month I learned that the director and main writer of the series were finishing development on a new game. Ai: The Somnium Files. When I saw Kotaro Uchikoshi’s name in the promotion material, I got extremely hyped. I honestly pre-ordered the game right away. Now, do I regret that pre-order or was it worth it? I’m going to give you an answer to that question in the form of this first impression review of the game. And before I start, I always say: feel free to leave a comment with your opinion in the comment section down below about the content of this article and/or the game itself.

Date and Aiba

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In this game, you play as special agent Date who is investigating a gruesome murder. Now, this is unlike any detective game because Date has a special ability. His left eye is quite special. In this left eye, an AI lives. This AI is called Aiba and helps Date to make phone calls, access databases, x-ray vision, zooming and so much more. On top of that, Date can explore people’s somnium, which is created by their dreams. These dreams can help in the investigation whenever you need to get information out of a witness that refuses to give testimony.

The story is quite complex and takes a lot of twists and turns. Like the previous games that Uchikoshi worked on, this game has branching paths as well. Depending on certain actions you take during the somnium exploration, the story can go in very different directions. Now, I have already seen one ending of the game and it even got me a bit emotional while playing it. The writing and pacing of this game are wonderful. While there is some dry and lame humor in this game, the actual jokes work quite well and made me and my girlfriend laugh out loud more than once.

I’m leaving quite a lot of details on the story out on purpose since this game is better experienced without a lot of knowledge of the story. Go in this game as blind as possible. Since the twists are better without knowing them in advance. Which honestly, speaks for itself don’t you think? Now, something that I quite liked is the various nods to the Zero Escape series. Certain sound effects and visual cues come from or are heavily inspired by the Zero Escape series.

Now, before I talk more about that comparison, I want to talk about the voice acting. While you can play through this game with the original Japanese cast, I’m playing through this game with the English voice actors and I have to say that the dub of this game is amazing. The cast has been cast quite well. Maybe I might be a bit biased since I’m heavily invested in the story and now I’m quite used to the voice work of the voice actors.

He is at it again

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The gameplay in this visual novel is quite varied. This isn’t a visual novel where just choosing between a few options makes the difference. In this visual novel, there are various puzzles to solve and dialogue trees to explore. The first gameplay type is simply one where you explore a location. This can be a crime scene or the house of a suspect. In these scenes, the Date doesn’t move around. You explore your surroundings to find various clues and leads. To make sure you didn’t miss anything, whenever the text turns green whenever you move over the cursor over something, that means that there is still some interaction to be done. If the text turns gray, you have done every possible interaction.

So you go through various dialogue trees where you get new information. Whenever you missed something, you can quickly bring up the log and replay the voice clips. Something that I found a bit missing, is a sort of summary of the events that happened. Since very different things happen in the story depending on the path you take. So, a quick summary of past events might be helpful. Especially since there are character bios and a word list where various terms are explained.

Speaking of these character bios and terms, these are handled amazingly. The various hidden jokes and references add so much to the atmosphere of the game. Especially the way how some explanations are written, it’s almost like writers are talking to the player directly. Sometimes even saying that if you want more information that you “have to look it up on the internet.” And as an IT guy, I found the binary joke in one of the character profiles an extremely nice touch.

Now, the exploration in this game is quite limited and somewhat linear. While you can choose which location you visit first, it doesn’t make a difference in the story if you go in order or out of order. So, this is quite linear. Now, the dream sequences are something completely different. Now, if you played any game in the Zero Escape series, you will quickly get used to these sections. These dream puzzles are the escape rooms of this game, but the big difference is that you can move in the whole area.

If you compare the gameplay of this game with any game in the Zero Escape series, I have to compliment this game for improving the dialogue sections of the game. The dialogue and story sections are more involved now and you can choose in which order you experience it. This makes the game more accessible and doesn’t dump a lot of text and story on you all at once.

That said, now the dream sequences and puzzles are a blast to play through. Some of them are a tad bit too easily to my liking, but the later puzzles more than makeup for it. For one puzzle, I even considered using a walkthrough but after a lot of trial and error, I figured it out and it gave me such an amazing feeling.

In each puzzle, you have to unlock various mental locks. You can do this by exploring and interacting with the dream. Because you are exploring a dream, extremely strange things can happen. So, you have to make sure you understand why and what is going wrong. There is a catch, you have 6 minutes to solve the whole puzzle. If you don’t, you get a game over. You can use 3 tokens to go back to a previous checkpoint. If you go back one checkpoint, you use one token. If you go back two checkpoints, you use 2 tokens.

Now, you have to plan your actions right since each action uses a certain amount of time. With some actions, you earn special bonuses that can increase or decrease the used time in the game. It’s very important that you plan ahead and that you are sure of the option you pick. Now, whenever you are standing still, your clock ticks down slower than when you are moving. Take this time to plan out your moves and make sure you aren’t losing time by walking in the wrong direction.

This whole mechanic gives the game a very tense atmosphere. Am I going to have enough time to crack the other mental locks or have I lost too much time in the previous sections? Sometimes it’s better to restart the whole puzzle instead of using your tokens to go back to a previous checkpoint. Now, you can also use these tokens during gameplay. The time you had on the clock is the time you have when you return to that checkpoint. You get 3 tokens for each puzzle and they reset whenever you restart the whole puzzle.

I was pretty interested in the game whenever I saw the teaser trailer, but the gameplay is not disappointing me at all. It’s one of the best games I have played this year. And to be honest, if the quality of the game keeps up during the rest of the game, I think there are big chances that this game might be my Game Of The Year. And yes, maybe my bias towards the author and director of this game might have some to do with it, but you still have to deliver a great product and gameplay and story-wise, I think they more than succeed here.

Pretty and funny

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Visually, this game looks amazing. The detail in the character models and the environment are just amazing. Compared to Zero Time Dilemma, the animation work got a huge overhaul. The character portraits are no longer static, they have the same animation as the actual characters on screen. That way you can still see their animations whenever you missed their animations because you were looking around.

The little details in the animations are mindblowing. For example, there was a scene where a teacher was talking about a student and when she was talking about the student, her head actually moved towards the student itself and the student broke her idle animation and looked at her teacher. These things might be small moments but are moments that give just that bit of extra flavor and atmosphere to the game.

On top of that, the audiovisual presentation of this game is equally as good as the animation. Some parts of the soundtrack reminded me of a lot of the music that’s used in the Zero Escape series. Now, there are some sound effects that are exactly the same from the Zero Escape series like the save sound and some other sound effects. If it’s intentional, I found it a great easter egg for people who played the previous games. Now, it’s also quite possible that they used the same sound library to save some development money and even if that’s the case, I wouldn’t mind at all.

Surprisingly, the composer of this game also wrote the music for BloodStained and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games on (3)DS. The Zero Escape series’ soundtracks were composed by Shinji Hosoe who wrote music for Fate/Extra and Tekken 6. The composer of this game is Keisuke Ito and he did an amazing job with his team to create this soundtrack.

One of the biggest shames of this game is the fact that sometimes those games have some stuttering or some major slowdowns during gameplay. Thankfully these don’t have that often and it only affects the Visuals and not music nor the voice acting. Most of these slowdowns happen during dialogues or when a lot of animation is playing. On these moments, the fan of my Switch didn’t blast me away like in Dragon Quest Builders 2.

If I’m allowed to nitpick just a minor bit, I can’t remember exactly where but there are just 1 or 2 lines that aren’t voice acted. These are very short lines and if you are just following the story, you might not even notice them. I clearly remember that one of these lines was said by Date somewhere in the first few sections of the story. I think it was in a conversation between Boss, Aiba, and Date. But given the whole script of this game, just one or two missed lines is something that isn’t THAT bad and can be easily looked over.

This game has only one difficulty level. The overall difficulty of this game is quite well done, the difficulty scaling is very well done. Some puzzles require some trial and error but once it clicks, the whole thing makes sense. The biggest challenge is in the exploration of the dreams since you need to think fast and think about the time limit.

The controls of this game are almost perfect. The only thing that’s missing is touchscreen controls. But hey, that’s huge nitpick since the controls are quite responsive and easily mastered. Thanks to the amazing UI, I can find any negatives about the controls and UI. Apart from maybe one minor thing. I find the text in the word list and character bios a little bit too small to read when I’m playing in docked mode and when I’m sitting a bit too far away from the screen. All the other text can be read just fine, apart from that part.

I’m also forgetting to talk about something quite important and that’s the save system. While there is an autosave system present in the game, you also have three save slots you can use. Thanks to these three save slots, I’m able to continue to play the game by myself but also save at the point me and my girlfriend left off so we can pick up the game right where we left off when we play it the next time.

Now there is some minor replay value when you want to unlock everything. During each Somnium, there is an eye hidden that when collected and finished the Somnium without failing; you unlock additional concept art. These are quite fun to watch and a great reward for people who explore the game to the smallest detail.

Now, this review is already getting extremely long for a first impression. It’s quite clear what I’m thinking of this game. I think it’s high time to wrap this first impression up. This game comes highly recommend to everybody who enjoys adventure games, puzzle games, mystery games, visual novel games and games like the Zero Escape series. This game is one of the best games I have played in 2019 and I can’t wait to see how this game ends. Apart from some minor flaws like the slowdowns, this game is in my eyes as good as perfect. It’s such a shame that this game doesn’t get the publicity that it deserves. I hope that with this article more people give this game a try and give it the audience it deserves. With that said, I want to thank you 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.

One minor side note, this game is also on PS4 and PC.

Review: Blossom Tales – The Sleeping King (Switch) ~ Cloned To Perfection

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Publisher’s website

I’m quite certain that since the success of The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild, the next games in the Zelda series will be a more open world. But, 3D-Zelda games aren’t even my favorite games. My favorite Zelda titles are the Oracle games. So, when I was browsing YouTube and saw a video of this game, I grabbed my Switch and bought it without thinking twice. Now, thanks to the Switch, the developer of this game has been able to stay afloat. That’s quite impressive I must say. It raised the bar quite high for me, so I had high expectations. So, in the end, how is the game? Is it worth playing or not? Let’s find out. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the game and/or the article. 

Note: This game is also released on Steam. So, if you don’t own a Switch and you are interested in this game, you can play it on your PC. I haven’t played this game on PC so this review will be focused on the Switch version of the game.

Cloned to perfection

blossom-tales-2.jpgIn this game, you play as Lily. A character in a story that the grandfather of two grandchildren is listening too. I found it really charming that the heroine’s name is Lily since that’s also the name of the female grandchild. The boy is named Chrys.

At first, the grandfather wanted to tell the story of: “the brave elf boy who lived in a magical land called H-..” but the grandkids have heard that story a million times. So, that’s why the grandpa started to tell the above-mentioned story. During the story, the grandchildren don’t hesitate to intervene and give commentary, sometimes arguing between the two of them which enemy the heroine faced.

It also gives the game some minor replay value in some areas. Since you get the option to choose between which grandchild gets his or her wish when they are arguing about the enemy you are facing.

I’m not going to talk more about the story since it would spoil the excellent humor and charm of the writing. The writing pokes fun at the original 2D-Zelda games and the tropes of telling a story like that. While the story isn’t THAT unique, it’s executed so well and with so much charm, I really enjoyed it. The references and pokes towards the Zelda series also made me smile and enjoy it even more.

At the start, you would be under the impression that this game is a clone of the Zelda series. Almost completely copying the gameplay of the Zelda series. But, this game is cloned to perfection. This game has a lot of elements from different 2D-Zelda games and they all work perfectly together. If you didn’t know, you would say that this game is a spin-off in the Zelda series.

The gameplay can be compared to every 2D-Zelda game like Oracle of Ages/Seasons, A Link To The Past, The original Legend of Zelda, Link Between Worlds… I felt like playing a “best of” from those games.

Exploring the open world, trying to find all hidden areas on the map, upgrading your gear to do more damage… It made me come back for more and more. Too bad that this game is short. According to HowLongToBeat.com, this game only takes you 9-ish hours to complete.

Wake up Grandpa, I mean King!

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It’s a shame that this game is so short. The dungeons are challenging to play through and the overworld is fun to explore.

I wanted this game to continue on for a while longer. Since, when I first started my journey, the visual design of this game gave me a wave of nostalgia. The game looks amazing. Vibrant and colorful, but most of all, nostalgic. The pixel-art feels almost like it would be possible on a Gameboy Color.

While exploring the swamp, I almost felt like my younger self again. When I was covered in a blanket, playing A Link To The Past at my cousin’s house on his SNES. The game mixes elements of fantasy and magic quite well.

Besides that the game looks amazing, the animations of this game are extremely well done as well. I really like the idle animation of this game since it fits the story so well. When you leave your Switch alone, the main character would nervously tap her foot. As if she is waiting to know how she needs to progress in the story. A small touch that would make this perfect is that sometimes the kids would yell at grandpa that “he fell asleep while telling the story.” But, that’s nitpicking at this point.

Now, you go on your journey to wake up the King. Now, the reason for that is something I will leave up to you to discover. During your journey, you get a rather big arsenal of weapons. Every weapon is quite unique and is used in various places in the overworld. So, experiment with your items.

There is also a collect-a-ton aspect to the game where you can pick up certain enemy drops. Enemies rarely drop coins or hearts; but they drop feathers, zombie brains, bee hives… and those can be traded in for coins or other great rewards. The game has a bit more depth besides the main quest. So, to tease the gameplay even more… I will mention that there are side quests like scroll collecting.

Now, this game has a great price. The game costs 12€, 15USD. It’s a great price for this game.

All of this sounds fine, amazing gameplay, great story, and excellent presentation. Are there negatives to this game or will I continue to praise it? Well, there are a few things that made me raise an eyebrow or two.

So close, so close.

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Something I didn’t like was that you were unable to choose the sword button. This might seem like a nitpick, but I found it impractical that it was the “A” button.

Now, I only discovered that this could be changed after I finished the game. But, when you change your sword button, it also changes the button you need to press to accept dialogues. So yeah… Nitpicking much here. So, check your control options when you want to change that.

While the controls respond quite well, there are a few other things that I didn’t like. Like when you aim your bow, you are locked in the position you started aiming in. There is also no way to cancel the bow aiming. This is a problem since it takes a chunk out of your mana bar. And without mana, you can’t use your special items leaving you wide open to attacks.

If you have read other reviews I wrote, you know that I find the music and sound design pretty important for a game. Now, the sound design of this game is decent. While I would have loved a bit more sound effects for the monster grunts and people talking, it’s pretty okay.

The soundtrack, well, it’s good but some tracks are too short. And there are one or two tracks that I really didn’t like. The track for the race side quests worked on my nerves. On the other hand, it’s a great way to hear how much time you have left, but it made me just even more nervous while doing an obstacle course quickly. That said, the rest of the soundtrack is really enjoyable and I have to say that Visager did a great job with the music.

Now, there are a few things that could make this game even better. The first thing is the completion percentage. There are a lot of side quests and things like that, I would love to see a completion percentage or a sort of quest log so I can keep track of them.

A second thing that would improve the game quite a lot is polishing up the teleport system. Now, you step on the teleport stone and you choose in a lost of teleport locations you have activated. It would be amazing if you would see them on the map as well and instead of choosing them from a simple list, you would pick them from the map.

A third thing that would be nice is that there is a different sprite or some sort of identification if you have activated a teleport stone or not. This is a minor thing, I know, but it would be a great minor change.

The difficulty of this game is good. This game isn’t too hard or too easy. While it would be neat if the dungeon bosses have some sort of health bar, I think that the visuals give the health of a boss away.

Now, sometimes I felt like there was a bit too much going on with the dungeon boss. The more I have to keep in mind while fighting a boss, the more frustrated I get. There were two bosses that almost made me throw my Switch one or twice. Something that would help is an easier way to find the red potions. If that’s in the game, I overlooked it.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s time for the conclusion and my final thoughts (which act as a TL;DR most of the time) for this game.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story

+ Excellent visuals

+ Addictive gameplay.

+ ….

The bad:

– Way too short. It’s over before you know it.

– Some bosses have a bit too much stuff going on.

– Locking in one direction when firing a bow.

– The soundtrack could have been so much more.

Final thoughts:

So, is this game any good? Yes! I never expected that this game was this good. While it’s highly possible that the nostalgia for the Legend of Zelda series overtakes me and makes me look over some flaws, but truth to be told, this game deserves all the praise it’s getting.

As mentioned above, this game isn’t perfect. But, the positives highly outweigh the negatives. This game is a lot of fun for casual and hardcore players. And because I finished this game and I want to see more, I’m well determined to support the developer even more. I want to see more of this developer.

You really owe it to yourself if you enjoy 2D-Zelda or adventure/action games to play this game to the end. For now, this game is one of the best games I have played all year. Yes, I enjoyed it that much.

In addition to that, when I was testing out the Switch screenshot sharing feature, I tweeted out a picture where signposts still tell what’s on it:

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And yes, that’s the actual WRITER of this game replying to my tweet. The developers of this game are very active on social media! I love what you are doing with the fans and players of your game! Great work! Now, if you make another game; please notify me. I would love to see more of you guys. Even when it’s a sequel to Blossom Tales.

Thank you so much for reading this article 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!

Score: 90/100

Game Music: My Favorites – Numerbo # 19: I’m not running out of these!

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7.pngRead & listen to more music articles

It’s time to jam to my favorite game music tracks again. Since I love listening to soundtracks, I can’t get enough of them. At work, I often listen to various streaming websites instead of the radio. I always hope they don’t play those emotional songs when I need to concentrate since then I might have a problem. It would be so awkward if I started crying out of nowhere when I’m doing some administrative work on my laptop. In any case, in this series, I talk a bit about my favorite tracks. I’m only allowed to talk about the original track. Also, no remixes in this series… unless I specify it in the intro. And this is an original only article. Also, one track/series per article. If I ever talk about a track twice, feel free to leave a comment and I will add a bonus track in the next article of this series. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article, music and or your favorite music tracks. 

Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ Pantry

Virtues_Last_RewardMy review of this game

Any excuse to talk about the Zero Escape series is a valid one in my book. Apart from the amazing story and the addictive gameplay, the soundtrack is one of the best horror soundtracks I have heard in years.

In this game, you are locked up against your will and you have to play a game where you have to solve puzzles in order to escape. This game can get very tense and thrilling quickly. There a plot twists at every turn in the story. And the track that plays in the pantry room in the 2nd game of the series is one of my 5 most favorite tracks from the series. Seriously, give it a listen. But in context, inside the game, the track is stronger. It’s even better. Oh, and if you want to play these games and you don’t own a 3DS or Vita, go and buy it on Steam! It’s out there!

Stella Glow (3DS) ~ Rusty Key

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My review of this game

Man, this game is a journey. The story, the characters, the universe, the writing, the visuals, the gameplay and above all; the soundtrack! Whenever I need some upbeat and happy music, I put on a playlist with every track of this game.

After my review, I have grown more and more to this game. I have to replay it one day. To take a totally different path. But for now, let us all enjoy the song of the character Popo. The blonde twin-tail girl on the cover. Everything flows just right in this track. Oh, if you want a translated version of this song, check out the English translated lyrics here! Thank you so much TDN-Shumi Blog for the excellent translation!

In any case, I think I have talked too much about Stella Glow in my review already. So, I won’t go too much in-depth here. But, for real. Give this game a try. It’s a great game in my opinion.

Tomb Raider Underworld (PC) ~ Mediterranean Sea/Escaping Niflheim

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 When I was writing fantasy stories in the past, I often used the soundtrack of the Tomb Raider games when I was writing somebody exploring an area.

The soundtrack of the Tomb Raider games is lends itself great to writers of adventure stories. It sets a great mood and atmosphere.

Besides being great writing music, the track is also amazing in-game. I remember that when I played this game with a good headset for the first time, I honestly got the chills.

I might go more in-depth on this game in the future, but for now, I have to say that I finished but the DS and PC version of this game. So, I don’t know which version to review first.

In any case, enjoy the music. Since this is one of the best tracks in the soundtrack. I have selected a track for this soundtrack in the past, just read my 3rd article to know more about that.

Lufia II (SNES) ~ Boss Battle Theme

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When my uncle gave his old SNES to me, I was so happy. I got amazing titles like Prince of Persia and Zelda – Link to the Past for the SNES. I have also a SuperGameboy. So, that’s how I play my Gameboy games lately. But, there is another game I’m also very happy that he gave me. That game is Lufia II for the SNES, in the original box! As a collector, I can’t be happier.

But, I play Lufia here and there. I often get reminded of the Golden Sun series when I play this game. But that’s beside the point. I’m quite amazed at the music the SNES-sound chip can produce. When I was listing to the music on YouTube, I fired up my SNES to double check if it wasn’t a remastered version. And truly, the SNES is really able to play such great themes. Now, I hope that I’ll be able to defeat that boss one day… But at the other hand, the track that plays during the boss fights is so good… Ugh, a dilemma.

Corpse Party (3DS eShop remake) ~ Chapter 1

Review of the PSP version of the game

I’m in love with the Corpse Party series. I love the story the game brings. It might be a horror game, but most of the scares are psychological. The actual murders and deaths that occur are in most cases so over the top, it’s not THAT scary.

Yet, the writing, voice-acting and the whole game actually are just amazing. I was so surprised when I heard they remixed the original soundtrack for the 3DS port and it’s actually pretty amazing. I’m even considering getting the soundtrack of the 3DS version as well to complete my collection.

I’m currently at the end of the 2nd chapter and I have to say, the remake for the 3DS is way better than what we got on the PC. The 3DS version is way closer to the PSP game. Yet, I can’t wait to play the new chapters. But meanwhile, I’m enjoying the whole amazing soundtrack yet again.

Finale

So there we go, a few new tracks to jam out to. I’m sorry that I choose so many tracks from handheld games, but that’s what I have been playing lately. Maybe when my desktop is fixed soon, I might play more PC games. But in any case, the next edition of my favorite video game music tracks is going to be special. I mean, it’s the 20th article I write in this series.

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

Game Music: My Favorites – Numbero 14: My week off!

eJa4GArMore articles about gaming music

So, I got a week off last week. I was planning to relax, but I did a lot of other things. From family stuff to studying and working for my evening classes. I also got sick in the last few days. Which is a major bummer since I could have done a bit more if I was less sick. In any case, I think it’s time to write another article about gaming music. Also, thank you Kitami for providing me with this art. I was planning to use it a while ago for a new series I had in mind, but I kind of put it on hold. In any case… If you are new to this series of mine, I listen a lot to game music. It keeps me focused at work and it can cheer me up when I’m down. I try to avoid duplicates on this list. Also, one track per franchise per article. For example, no two Zelda tracks in one article… But in two, just fine. Also, no remixes except when I tell otherwise in the introduction. So, are you ready for a few tracks that are lately playing quite a lot for me…? And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the music and or the games. 

Giana Sisters – Twisted Dreams (PC) ~ Dark Giana Track 2

Giana-Sisters-reviewFirst Impression

I wasn’t lying in my first impression article. The music in this game is truly amazing. It wasn’t an easy one to pick just one track from this game’s soundtrack.

After some time deciding, I chose this one. Just the mix of chiptune and rock vibe is mind blowing. If only I could play guitar and play this track. But that won’t be for any time soon, since I couldn’t even play the flute back in high school.

Why did I choose this track? Well, because it reminded me a lot of the original game. It might be a re-imaging but damn, the remake of this track is truly well done. Also, I’m still surprised how they were able to mix elements of chiptune and rock so well together.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations (DS) ~  Objection! 2004

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I’m disappointed at Capcom for cancelling the Ace Attorney spin off. Well, not exactly cancelling. The Great Ace Attorney. Oh well, I hope I can find a playthrough with English subtitles somewhere on the internet. Thankfully, they are bringing Ace Attorney 6 to the west.

I once tried to write a rant about Japanese games never getting a western release, but it didn’t turn out that well. Because I was listing to this nicely made track from the Ace Attorney series.

That reminds me, I should write an article about the Ace Attorney games I didn’t take a look at yet. I’ll put that on my ever growing list of games I want to review or write about.

In any case, I don’t think I need to explain why this is one of my favorite game series. Go dig around on my blog, you will find a couple of articles why I think this is one of the best series ever.

Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ Blue Bird Lamentation

Virtues_Last_RewardReview

This. Song. It gets me every time. Just like the “Don’t Say Goodbye” songs at the end of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon… The writing, the atmosphere and the presentation make this a hard to swallow track. Then, they add a track like this. It will play with your feelings. And it will give it a hard slap. Not once, but at least twice.

Just play this game and when you get to this point, when the song plays… You will understand why I’m saying this. I wrote this part of the article at least three times since each and every time, I just wrote the same thing twice. The emotions that this music triggers is just that strong to me.

It’s a damn shame I forgot about this amazing track in all my other game music articles. But I have another “excuse” to talk about this track. They finally, FINALLY announced the sequel and it’s coming to the west! Heaven YES!

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS) ~ Boss Theme One

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Now, here is a game I really should play again one day. It’s a game I nearly finished before somehow I lost my save file. If I remember correctly, I stupidly saved while I was in a new game. Yeah, that mistake. All those hours in a RPG, lost.

Well, back in 2012, there was an article floating around that there might be a new Golden Sun in the making if the fans asked for it. I’m really curious if the developers are making a new Golden Sun title. It would give me a reason to play the games. This is one of the games I always want to play but another game comes and distracts me. But I’m sure, one day I will actually play this game again. I’m sure of it!

Oh yeah… The music. I nearly forgot. The music of the first boss was the most memorable to me. Recently, I got the tune back in my head for some reason… It might be a sign. A sign that I need to play this game.

Age of Empires 2 (PC) ~ Music 10

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Well, recently I replayed Age Of Empires II HD Edition with my friends. Various memories came back to me. Memories from playing sessions when I played a lot of this game and memories from when I played this game with my sister.

This game was a big part of my childhood. I always played some singleplayer maps where I tried to conquer my enemies with various tactics. The “funny” thing is that I’m really bad in choosing what units are effective. So, yes, I’m not that good at the game. But I still had and I’m still having a lot of fun with this game. Now, I only wish that they make a remake of the original Age Of Empires game for Steam. That would be a real blessing. Now, I have to use my retro game PC to play the original.

In any case, I think that this song is one of my favorites. Oh, if you wonder about the name… I wasn’t able to find the names of each track. Somehow I wasn’t able to find the original names of this track. If you know, feel free to leave me a comment and I will fix it in my article.

Oh, and the new upcoming content for this series makes me almost forget that we, most likely, will never see Age Of Empires 4.

Wrapping up

I used this article to also talk a bit about announcements of games that are coming to us. Games that I’m truly excited about. Just today, I learned about Age Of Mythology’s new expansion pack. I linked an article from the official website. Also, are they creating a new expansion pack for Age Of Empires II HD?

In any case, I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Hopefully, you guys and girls discovered some new and nice music to listen too. In any case, I hope to welcome you in another article but until then, game on~.

Gamer’s Thoughts: The Visual Novel

Photo-2014-08-21-17-31-45Lately, I see various games appearing on Steam. Visual novels. That interests me quite a lot. But the let down is huge when I find out that it are kinetic novels. What is a visual novel actually and why is it such an underrated game genre? I want to talk about my favorite game genre in this article and hopefully make some of you guys interested in the visual novel genre. As usual, feel free to write a comment about the visual novel games and or the content of this article.

What makes a game a visual novel?

999-.9.Hours.9.Persons.9.Doors.full.934360So, when is a game a visual novel? It’s quite logical that a visual novel is more of a novel then a game. When the novel isn’t interactive, you have a kinetic novel. A kinetic novel is a novel that a movie you can read.

A visual novel has interaction. Sometimes “repetitive actions” and sometimes not. Virtue’s Last Reward for example always has the same gameplay. Solve the puzzle to find the solution to open the safe. Corpse Party on the other hand isn’t repetitive. You have to try and find the other survivors.

A visual novel could be easily confused with a very heavy story driven RPG. Those two genres are two similar, yet different genres. Since visual novels play more on the imagination of the player instead of the skills. If you have ever played an Ace Attorney game, you might have noticed that there isn’t much animation outside the characters. It’s the writing that pulls people in.

Underrated

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What do I like so much about visual novels? I can’t really explain. I think the reason is that I feel more as the main character of a story. I feel that my fate is already planned out and that I have to look for the right path.

Now visual novels nearly have always one solution. Even when a game has different endings, you will most likely come across the final true ending.

Games nowadays are getting “lazy”. The graphics try to paint the most beautiful picture and the sound and music tries to blow you off your chair. But visual novels, that isn’t the goal. You don’t get fancy graphics, you mostly get static images and text boxes.

Somehow, visual novels have the power to make you come invested in a story more then other games have. I rarely felt touched by an amazing game when there wasn’t a deep story. When I’m playing a visual novel, it’s very hard for other games to distract me out of that trance. Visual novels are that good in my opinion.

 Visual novels try to pull the gamers in with clever writing. They don’t try to make it a massive big show, they create an interesting plot line. Think about it this way, how many times did you start to loose interest in the side quests or the side goals and started to go for the main goals in a game?

Maybe it’s just my interest. My favorite game genre is adventures and my favorite subgenre is visual novel. Since I’m interested in interesting stories and such. I can’t honestly really answer why, but I think that visual novels deserve more credit then they get. It has it’s issues of course, like for some people there is too much text, but hey, name me one genre that doesn’t have issues.

Anyways, to close off this article, let’s take a short look at 2 great visual novels I played in my life.

Examples

The Walking Dead

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Even when I’m not a fan of the series, you got to give it to this game. TellTale Games makes excellent modern visual novels. While the typical text boxes aren’t there, the main focus is the story and how your choices influences the outcome.

It’s a great and modern example of an excellent visual novel. Too bad it doesn’t interest me as much as other visual novels do. If you want to know why I’m not such a fan, you might want to read my first impression. But my buddy Zach (aka Dark_Legend) is a big fan of it, so you might want to read his articles about it.

Ghost Trick

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In this game you play as a death cop and you have to solve your own murder. The catch is that you can rewind time to save somebodies life. With this power you try to figure out who wanted you dead.

This game is tricky to place. It’s a visual novel alright but the gameplay… is it a puzzle game? Action game? Adventure game? I don’t really know.

I wish CapCom announced a sequel of this game since it’s a good game. Not only the story but the gameplay was rather interesting. I liked the idea very much and I wish the game was a bit longer.

Closing thoughts

Most visual novels are rather lengthy. I haven’t seen a visual novel you would be able to finish in a week. Actually, I have seen one as the exception on the rule. Time Hollow.

The most irritating thing is getting stuck in these games. Since you don’t have to grind or anything of that nature, getting stuck can get even the most veteran visual novel player to put down the game.

It’s quite clear that I’m not done talking about visual novels. I have some other things I want to mention but that will be for another article. I want to compare the visual novel genre with other genres. Or it might be an idea for a podcast.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for reading and hopefully I can welcome you at another article. Take care.

NekoJonez: Gaming Music – My favorites – Numbero 1

GameMusic_InArticleSo, I wasn’t planning to write an article today. Since I’m so busy with college and such. I said that on my Twitter. But now that I’m finally done with my work for today, I was listing to some music of my favorite games. And I came to a conclusion, even while I finished the game, I still listen to it’s music. Probably bringing back nice memories. So, in this article I’ll list some of my favorite music tracks in game history. I won’t make a top 5 or 10 out of it, in case I want to write a new article with this subject. Also, I won’t count remixes in this list. As I adore some remixes of the Ace Attorney themes. They are a no-go here. Since those weren’t in the original game. Anyways… Here. We. Go! Time to throw that volume up and enjoy some amazing (nostalgic) music. Feel free to comment your favorite music tracks in the comments. Or your opinions of my chooses as well.

#1: CastleVania (NES) – Bloody Tears

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Extended original version

There are a massive amount of remixes out of this track. The melody and structure of this track is so memorable that to this day, I whistle it when I’m on my bike riding to school. I brings back so many memories of playing this game at my cousin’s house and not able to sleep at night. Hey, I was a kid back then.

People who claim to fans of the series and can’t name the track by name, that’s the biggest shame you can have. This track gave me while writing this article a feeling to stand up and march/dance around in my room.

#2: Virtue’s Last Reward – Consternation

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I adore games with a dark plot. I simply love this series to death. It’s high in my favorite series of all time list.

Every time I hear this track from the amazing collection of tracks in the game, my jaw drops to the floor. Since every tense and amazing twist came with this track.

The timing was always right. While I think that this track has goes weaker near the ending, the start of this track is what I replay time and time again when I listen to the OST of this game. And since my save file corrupted, I’ll be able to enjoy this gem of a game again. Ah, do I wish that there is a new game in the series coming on 3DS.

#3: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon – Time To Say Goodbye

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Link

I rarely cry when reading a game story, even when the game gets extremely sad. But the setting of this game, yes, this kid’s game managed to do it. Each and every game. Even the latest installment on 3DS.

This finale track is such a nice track filled with friendship but also departure. Love and left alone. Together yet not.

When I used this track in the RP’s I took part in, many blamed me for using a “cheap” music track. I disagree. This track just fits big time to the situation and is perfect from start to finish. And the piano versions of this cry… Jeez. They are even harsher to not cry.

#4: Pokemon Black & White – Gym Leader ~ Last Pokemon

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Alright, I’m going to be extremely blunt here for a second, the latest theme in Pokemon X & Y for the gym leaders is terrible. It just feels empty to me. And why? Because of that weird introduction sound which destroys the melody that the middle brings.

Yet, they nailed it perfectly with this gem.The final gym leader Pokemon in Black & White is my favorite track in the whole game. It feels so rewarding when you hear this track and that you know that you are about to earn a new badge.

Since I didn’t had such a great party, I felt that the final part was really happening and that it’s now or never. Man, do I enjoy this track.

#5: Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine – Main Titles / Credits

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This is one of the best Indiana Jones games ever. Period. It actually created my love for 3D adventure games like Tomb Raider as well. Adventure games, highly story based games and visual novels are my favorite style of games.

While this game is heavily inspired by Tomb Raider, I grew up with this game and I prefer it over Tomb Raider. It’s also the game that gave me my nickname. So, it means a lot to me. And honestly, I’m so glad that I have a retro gaming pc where I can play this game on. I even plan to buy me a N64 with the game’s cartrigde off eBay just for the nostalgic reasons.

The game has not that much music but this track is an extremely nice combo of the actual John William’s score and the game’s score. And it blends so well that I even confuse both.

Man, do I miss this game.

Closing words

That’s more then enough nostalgia for me to bare in one night. Well, nostalgia that I didn’t plan at least. I do have a lot of music that I want to list as well of games that didn’t made this list. So, one day I’ll write a “sequel” on this article. I hope, since many bloggers have so many great idea’s they often forget to write a sequel on articles. You have to forgive that to them, they just do what they want to write.

Yet, I’m planning to look around my blog for topics to write about one day. And this’ll be one since now that I scroll through my favorites on Youtube, I see a lot of candidates. So thanks for reading and until next time.

Review #005: Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ But you promised…

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Link to the official English site.

You are locked up. You don’t know where you are or what your goal is. It’s time to play a game. No, not with a Saw but with a bunny. Yes, Zero Junior. You thought you could escape in the previous game, 9 hours 9 people 9 doors (For the DS, I’ll review this game one day)? Then think again. This time, you will have some major trouble. The game will go totally different now, and you will have a lot more explained.  Are you ready for an adventure? One that you rather didn’t have, one you regret living for? Okay, enough of that. This game got me extremely excited to play, I even didn’t know this game came to Europe. But when I saw it in my local game store, I bought the game with the little money I had and that night I didn’t sleep. But why? Is this such a good game and if it is, did it deliver? Or  was my sleepless night because of the terrible game I had to play? Well, let’s dive into this game and let’s check if it’s actually worthy to be played.

Zero III.

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This game isn’t your regular game. Oh no, it proves that the 3DS has games that aren’t for kids. This game is for 16 and up and for a good reason, it’s a scary game. Not supernatural but the scenery and the story is pretty creepy.

The game’s story is amazing and is extremely well done. It can be a bit cheesy here and there but I can forgive that. Some reviewers will tell that those points in a story are boring and all that, but those things actually aren’t all that bad, they don’t take you out of the experience.

A big improvement is that you can now jump inside the story. The game has several endings and to unlock the final true ending, you need to have seen most, if not all, other endings. If you are playing with breaks, the story can get confusing when you jump though, so pay attention.

If I talk about the story, I might spoil it for you. But it’s a great story. For the people who follow me on Twitter before I started this blog, you might have noticed that I tweeded this game to some Youtubers who looked for new games on their 3DS.

Even talking when this game takes place in the series in a spoiler. But the new UI in this game is a vast improvement over the last interface. Like I told earlier, this game’s jump manic in the story helps out a lot, so you don’t have to redo parts of the story like in the original. Also, it’s more clear which path you need to take to unlock a new ending, so the danger of running into a same ending twice is gone.

What pissed me off in game, but is an extremely nice touch is that some endings have a story lock. Yes, you need information from another ending. Confused? Well, I was too. But it gets extremely well explained in the game and I advise you to play it for the story alone.

I want to get out!

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The game is a mixture of visual novel and puzzle game. Your goal is to escape a certain room and find more clues. What’s unique in this game is that when you do it without getting hints, you unlock developer content. This makes for a lot of replay value in a visual novel game. Yes, they succeeded into getting replay value in a game that’s extremely story driven. Most visual novel games collect dust after they are finished.

The animation is extremely well done. Each character has their unique expressions and makes the story come more alive then the previous game. Even in 3D, the game is extremely awesome to look at. The location of the game itself is well done. You truly get the feeling of being trapped and wanting to escape.

The puzzles you need to solve aren’t that easy. Most puzzles require you to use that thing up in your head, your brain. The game will challenge you with sliding puzzles, logic puzzles and much more. A great tip is that you need to carefully look around in a room to not miss anything.

No area is repetitive. Each one has unique puzzles related to that place. I even didn’t find any similar puzzles from the previous game. The story and gameplay is also way different, except the escaping parts. In this game, the door to escape is right in front of your face, yet, the “key” isn’t.

The music is, are you ready for this, epic. I can’t find any bad song in the game or any tune I didn’t like. Often, I start a playlist on Youtube and listen to the music while I play games like Minecraft. The music gives the right vibes on the right moment. Surprisingly there are a lot of different tracks and all are of a decent length. Most of the tracks even have one word long names. Which is a nice touch of the developers.

Some parts in the game have even voice acting. This makes the game feel alive. You feel that you grow a bond with the characters and this makes you want to play more.

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Perfect?


This game is extremely close to being perfect to me. The music, animation, story, gameplay… It’s all there. Yet, I found some flaws in this game that really made me wonder. Are they going to address these issues in the sequel?

The first issue is the disappointing save file corruption glitch on the 3DS. Yes, I truly advise you all not to save in the puzzle rooms or your data can get corrupt. I learned it the hard way. The developers have yet to come out with a patch sadly enough.

In my opinion, the sound effects are lacking. Not that they aren’t good, they are pretty well done. But the same is silent without the music and really could use a bit more on the sound department in my opinion.

Also, some puzzles, the one with the liquor especially, are a bit tedious. Changing liquor and changing and more changing, it gets boring extremely quick.

Another small flaw is that the story becomes a bit predictable in the yet to unlock endings if you finished others. Either you already know some information or a similar path is walked on. But it helps with the continuity of the story though.

As a final remark, this game has a flaw it can’t fix. This game’s story will leave you with an empty feeling when it’s done. You don’t want to see “The End” anytime soon. This game is extremely good and the length, well it’s a long game. But when it’s over, you want more. More  escaping…

Conclusion

The good:

+ Epic story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Amazing gameplay.

+ Various and many improvements over the original.

+ The new elements in the game really helps the game.

+ Voice acting.

+ Additional content.

The bad: 

– Sounds, could be done a bit more.

– Save file corruption.

Conclusion:

This game is really close of getting a 100 of me. Did I enjoy this game? Of course I did. I was sad when the game was over and I actually plan to replay the game this summer. I might already know what is going to happen and how it will end, but the puzzles and the whole game are so fun to play through.

This game isn’t for everyone though. But once you get into the gameplay, you won’t let this game go easily. It’s such a well done game, I wish I still could play it a bit more. I normally don’t care about additional content like texts of the developers but in this game I did. Can you unlock them all?

Score: 99/100