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First Impression: Minecraft Story Mode (Android) ~ Tappin’ That Adventure, yo!

Minecraft_Story_Mode_Logo.pngOfficial website

Back in 2015, when I was at Minecon, I saw the trailer for Minecraft Story Mode. I actually attended the panel as well. And truth to be told, the game didn’t interest me at all. Which is really strange since I enjoy adventure games a whole lot, but this game didn’t grab my interest enough for me to put it onto my “to play” list. But in November 2016, I bought this game in a sale on the Android store. And now, I have to explain why it made it on the list of best games I played in 2016 as an honorable mention… So, let’s dive right into my first impressions of this game. When writing this article, I’m halfway into episode 4. There are 8 in total. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

This isn’t Minecraft!

Minecraft-Story-Mode-9-840x525.pngFor those wondering, I’m playing this game on my Asus ZenPad 8S. So, yeah. In any case, let’s talk about the story as spoiler free as possible.

At the start of the game, you get to choose how your character looks and the gender. Right after that, you are thrown into the game. In this game, you go to a building competition to decide who goes to EnderCon. But, it doesn’t take long before something horrible happens. A monster gets loose that tries to destroy the world.

Before I take a better look at the story, I have to say, that I find it sad that people bash the story and the game because “it isn’t Minecraft”.  Minecraft is a sandbox game, a game where you have full control of the situation. But that’s a rant for another time.

This story is made more interesting thanks to the subplots that are going on. Since for most of the story that big monster “takes a backseat”. The whole story is written pretty well in my opinion. I enjoy how the dynamic works between all the characters. And how each action you take, changes the dialogue of the game. And something I truly like is that at certain points, the story branches off. Like you could choose between two heroes you could save, and your start of the next episode would be totally different. But that’s to be expected with a TellTale game.

Something that makes the writing even more interesting to me is that the developers made an interesting attempt into trying to implement all the subcultures of Minecraft into one story. The Redstoners, YouTubers, Builders, Adventures… they are all present in some way in the game.

About the story, there is one thing that I think would improve the game, in my opinion, is a sort of skip button or speed up button. I think that would be a great option for people who are playing through an episode again.

Sit through this game

Minecraft-Story-Mode-51-840x525.pngSomething I saw other people be disappointed with is the fact that this game has way less gameplay than Minecraft. But, that isn’t a bad thing in my eyes. That isn’t the main focus of this game. The main focus of this game is to tell a story using the Minecraft setting and lore.

The gameplay is your typical adventure genre gameplay. It’s very close to point and click gameplay. So, the first gameplay element is the dialogues. You can choose between 5 dialogue options to react to a certain situation. The 5th option is pure silence. That isn’t available in every dialogue, but hey, it’s there. The only nitpick complaint I have with this is that in some cases, that time runs out way too quickly. By the time I have read the options, the time is nearly up and then I still have to decide which reply to go with. Thank you for the pause button at least!

The second element of gameplay is the exploration. I have to admit, I would have loved a bit more exploration in the game. The exploration parts are way to easy in my opinion. Yet, I can forgive the game for that, because you can beat various situations in different ways. This gives the game more replay value. You also solve puzzles in this game and so far, no puzzle has really stumped me. Maybe in the later episodes, I have some harder puzzles, but so far, I haven’t gotten stuck at all.

And the third gameplay element is the quick time events. Oh dear lord, the quick time events. I have nothing more to say that they are sometimes pretty annoying to play.

So, the final gameplay element is the combat. And I have to say, this isn’t great on Android. The combat is slow and when you miss an attack, you can’t attack again before the animation is finished. I don’t enjoy the combat sections very much.

The rest of the package.

Ep3-2.jpg

Now, let’s talk about the other parts of the game. First of all, the music and sound design. The music is good, but this soundtrack isn’t one I would listen to outside the game. It loses its charm without some visuals.

The sound design is pretty well done. Because most of the sounds are from the great sound design by C418 for Minecraft. So, no complaints there. Also, the sound packs way more punch when you play this game with a headset.

The voice acting in this game is pretty good. I have played this game once while I was on the train and I forgot my headset, and I truly missed the voices. Yeah, they are that good in my opinion.

Visually, this game is pretty good but not perfect. Maybe it has to do with my tablet, but sometimes things didn’t render for me. I remember one scene pretty well.The gang was feeling on horseback, and the horse for the main character didn’t render always. So, the main character was floating away. Apart from the very few creative liberties the designers took, the game looks like an adventure map built in Minecraft. And I have to applaud the designers for that!

The atmosphere and visual presentation of the different areas you visit are pretty great. There isn’t a place I would change or adjust.

So, I have to praise the controls for the most part in this game. I was afraid that this game would control pretty poorly on Android, but I was surprised. This game controls pretty great on my tablet. The only problems I had with the controls were during the quick time sections, but thankfully, I was able to redo those sections and not make my mistakes.

Oh, before I forget, there is something truly annoying in this game. The download speed for the episodes is just way too slow. At first, I thought it had to do with the download speed of my tablet, but no. I have tested it with various speed tests and downloading large files from the internet. It has to do with this game, I’m sure of it.

I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I have left for the review, but nothing that special. In any case, it’s time to wrap up this article up.

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!

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First Impression: Zero Escape Dilemma (3DS) ~ Let’s play a game, shall we?

zero time dilemma boxZero Escape Wikia entry

If you didn’t expect this game to get an article this week, you might have missed all my clues on Twitter. I was extremely hyped for this game and it’s finally here! This game has got a rocky development and it was almost canceled. For the people who don’t know this series, let me quickly introduce this game. This game is the 3rd installment in the excellent Zero Escape series on (3)DS and PSVita. It’s a horror visual novel game with escape the room puzzles. These games should be played in order to fully enjoy them. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons and 9 Doors was the first one. The second one was Virtue’s Last Reward. Both excellent games. This game is on the 3DS eShop, PSVita and also released on the PC. In any case, enough rambling in this introduction. It’s time to talk about this game and what I think about it. Was it worth the hype & wait or does it stink? Let’s find out. Keep in mind, I’m playing the 3DS version and I don’t own the other versions. Oh, and don’t worry, I selected the screenshots and wrote this article to be as spoiler free as possible. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Different game style

The story this time around isn’t about a nonary game like in the previous entries. While it isn’t 100% needed to play the previouzero time dilemmas games, but it’s highly recommend. Since a lot of references and explanations will be very confusing otherwise.

Something that I found really surprising is that this game isn’t linear, at all. You can play sequences out of order. You would think that this would make a confusing story, but thankfully… They thought about that. There is a story mechanic that helps playing this story driven game out of order.

I have played this game for a bit now and I’m nowhere near finished. The current plot points and twists I already saw were mind-blowing. The writing in this game is truly amazing. It pulls me into its world with ease. One time, I was so focused on the story, I almost missed my stop. I had to dash to get outside the train.

I’m really curious how the story will wrap up, since Virtue’s Last Reward ended with a huge cliffhanger. I’m looking forward to that.

The final thing I want to say about the story is that I’m really thankful that some terms and mechanics of the previous games are quickly explained. It helps me when I had forgotten something from the previous games.

In the previous entry, Virtue’s Last Reward there was a nasty saving bug. It was, as far as I know, only present in the 3DS version. It happened in one room and in certain situations. If you saved then, your save would get corrupted and you had to start all over.

Thankfully, Aksys learned its lesson and implemented three save slots in this game. But so far, I haven’t encountered any problems with saving. Also, three save slots make sense since you can play this game out of order.

The music in this game is very good. While it uses a couple of tracks from the previous game, the new tracks are pretty nice to listen too. The music feels similar but is unique too. It fits the scary and tense atmosphere the story is trying to set.

The sound design is pretty well done, I have no complaints there. So far, so good. The only complaint I have is that, on the default settings, the music overpowers the voice acting from time to time. But it’s easily fixed with putting the volume of the music a bit down.

Not so much reading anymore?

zero time dilemma 2In the two previous entries, you could read everything. From time to time, it was more a novel then a game. But not in this game, almost everything is voice acted. The parts that aren’t voice acted are the dialogues inside the puzzle rooms.

I’m not 100% happy with that. Honestly, I’m 90% happy with it, but sometimes I miss the atmospheric writing that detailed how the main character felt or gave more details about the situation.

I have to praise this game for its voice acting. I’m playing this game with the English voice acts and they sound awesome! Sometimes, the emotions of the characters really shine through. I really felt that the voice actors really put a lot of effort into this game and gave it more than their best.

Something I think is the weakest point in this game is some visual issues. In some cutscenes, I felt that the characters were too static. I honestly think, that if Uchikoshi (writer / developer of the series) had more staff and money, it would look a whole lot better.

Also, some textures could have been polished up a bit more. For example, there is an emblem on one of the characters his shirt, and you can barely make it out what it is. Or in another scene, somebody looks at a carpet on the floor. When the camera looks down, I almost felt that they used the fill tool in a paint program. Or in some cutscenes, the hair or eyebrows of some characters are clipping with something. Which is a shame.

All in all, the finer details could have been polished a bit more. While the animations are pretty good, there is barely any animation where two people do something together.

Don’t get me wrong here, visually this game looks stunning on the 3DS. While some people found it a bummer that they dropped 3D support, I don’t mind. Apart from lacking some polish; the escape rooms, characters, cutscenes and environments look crisp and detailed. I also truly love the style they used in this game.

Life is simple unfair, don’t you think?

So, this game is still a puzzle game. The escape rooms are really challenging this zero time dilemma 3time around. In the previous games, I almost never got stuck in a room or on a puzzle. But this time around, some of  the rooms are real brain teasers in my opinion.

This game can be very difficult if you don’t see the solution to the puzzle. I do have to agree with the other reviewers, this game really lacks a hint system. Like the “Easy mode” in Virtue’s Last Reward, where some of your companion characters almost literally explained what you needed to do.

The controls of this game are very good. Apart from some minor issues I had in some rooms with the touch screen, I found that the controls were, like I said earlier, very good. A small piece of advice from me, I feel that the buttons work a bit better when you need to move the camera from point a to point b. When you need to press something finer, use the stylus. That’s the best way to play this game in my eyes.

From what I have seen, this game is a very long game. This is a very good thing, since this game has it’s hooks into to me.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I also like to talk about the UI/menu systems. Since I feel that they are important. The menu system in this game is almost perfect. Something that bugs me is that you can use the d-pad to navigate the general flow chart, but if you switch to the 2nd flow chart (where they display pictures of the event), you suddenly can’t do that anymore.

There was also one time that I had to input a few passwords that were said earlier. I forgot to wrote them down and suddenly I was unable to open the logs. So, I had to restart that segment.

In first impression of this game is pretty good. The game we got is amazing. Yet, the fact that this game was made by a small group shows its signs. I honestly think this game would have looked a lot better when they had a bigger team and a bigger budget. Maybe this game gets some polish with a patch or two. But honestly, I don’t think the game NEEDS it. Since it has a certain charm that I think would get lost.

@Uchikoshi, if you or somebody on your staff reads this… I have a message for you guys and girls. Thank you for creating this game. I bought it on day one and I’m really pleased with it. While there are somethings that could have been improved, the end result is an amazing game. I wish you girls and guys the best. Here is to a 4th game in the series or an equally awesome new project. I really love the series you made! If you don’t make a sequel, I’m hoping that you make a new game and/or series. I’m so looking forward to it.

I wish I could say more, but then I would go into spoiler territory. Also, I haven’t finished the game so my final opinion might change. I’m planning to write a full review when I have beaten this game. So yeah, I think I’ll wrap up this article here. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading and I hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!~

 

Gamer’s Thoughts: A little ramble about blogging

blogging-encouragementLet’s do something totally different this week. This week I have been thinking about various subjects I wanted to write an article about. While I think I got some great ideas, I realized something. All of the questions I asked myself would make for a great article to discuss how I see gaming & blogging. So, in this week’s article, I’m going to talk about how I think blogs could improve and how I see games. It’s time to put some of these gamer’s thoughts on paper. And as usual, feel free to leave me a comment on the content of this article down in the comment section below.

Why do I blog about games?

1.7One of the most important things when writing a blog is that you are passionate about the subject. That you write a blog about something you know you won’t get easily bored of.

Since I play a lot of games, I picked that as a subject. But truth to be told, I tried to blog about other things. In the past, I wrote articles with my views on life, movies, anime and much more.

But the articles about gaming just stuck with me. I loved writing them and creating them. At first, I was thinking of making a YouTube channel and making video reviews. But after a while, I got bored of it and I stopped making YouTube videos.

Why do I continue to blog about games? Well, it has several reasons. For one reason, I want to share my love of gaming with the rest of the world. It’s so rewarding for me to see how many people read my blog.

But where is the root? Why do I BLOG about games? What got me started? Well, my story isn’t as any typical YouTuber would say that he or she got inspired by somebody or the community. I just gave it a shot. I thought it would be fun to write an article every week and 5 years later, I still enjoy it quite a lot.

Can (game) reviews contain spoilers?

Shep-Red-Background-Spoilers-BWhen I write an article, I’m always thinking about if it’s fine to spoil the game or not.

It’s an interesting question to think about really. Since I can find arguments that are pro and contra.

I think spoilers in a review are fine since a review can serve as a reflection. When you would limit yourself to not spoil the end of the thing you are reviewing… It feels incomplete. You can’t talk about the end part in depth. Here is a perfect example:

Today I finished an anime I would love to recommend but the ending of the 2nd season ruined the series honestly. I’m not alone in this. The whole final episode was just in a totally different style than the rest of the anime that I threw me off. I spent nearly an hour reading different forum discussions and watching rants on YouTube on people who got annoyed by the ending as well. Oh, and if you wonder… It’s Haganai. It’s an amazing anime but the final episode of the 2nd season is just terrible in my eyes. It doesn’t wrap up the story at all.

When I would talk a bit more in-depth, I could warn those who are interested, so they can prepare themselves for the ending. But then, on the other hand, I might scare some people of giving the anime a chance.

So, I think spoilers aren’t good for a review since you might scare potentially interested people away. Also, some people read reviews so they can decide if they would buy the game, anime, movie, book …

It’s a very difficult balance for a content creator. Should you or shouldn’t you include spoilers. One fact stands, I’m glad we have people who put up spoiler warnings. Since then I could stop myself from hearing things I don’t want to hear yet. Since spoilers can ruin an experience. That’s something we can agree on, right?

A thought I had was: if I would use spoilers, I would only use it in a review. Since it’s a reflection of the game I just played. But I would avoid spoilers at all costs in my first impression series. (Notice the letters I put in bold please.)

Why a tablet is a must have for any game blogger!

380kvIn the past, I wasn’t a big fan of tablets. I thought that they were just a cheap laptop without a physical keyboard. Apart from in business situations, I never saw a real point for them.

But then I found it. The reason I bought a tablet and why I actually am glad I bought it as because it’s a cheap laptop without a physical keyboard.

When I’m playing I game I used to write my notes in my notebook. But then one day, I forgot my notebook at work and I wrote down some notes in a different notebook. I think you can see where this is going. I have notes everywhere. So, yeah. A tablet is a perfect place to store them all in. And when I forget my tablet at home or at work, I use my PC and edit my notes that way. Since I got them synced using Dropbox, I always have the latest versions of my notes at hand.

Also, it’s really easy to access the internet without having a clutter of tabs open. When I write an article about a certain game, I have a lot of tabs open with other peoples their opinion and various other sites with information on the game. I see it as a sort of secondary screen I can easily set up and use. While you could argue that an actual second screen for my computer could do the same thing… Well, it keeps my mind focused. A tablet is for research and PC is for the actual writing part. It keeps me focused.

If you wonder, I got myself the Asus ZenPad S 8.0. I bought it on a sale so I got it pretty cheap. And after almost 2 weeks of using it, I’m really glad I got myself a tablet. The previous tablet I owned was a cheap one. One where the battery died after almost a year.

Other uses for my tablet are: being able to read my notes for class while I’m on the train to work. Testing out some things in simulations on the go. Being able to quickly look something up when I’m not at the computer. Being able to review the Android games a bit better on a bigger screen and most of all, it’s a really helpful organizer.

Closing off

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. When I have more ideas for a ramble, I might write another article like this.

When you have something where you want my opinion… Well, feel free to contact me.

In any case, I think I’m going to wrap up this article here. Have a great rest of your day and I hope to welcome you in another article! But until then, take care :).

HappyLatte’s Case: Can video game violence make the world a safer place?‏

happylatte

A few hours ago, I got a press release in my mailbox. This had the title of “Can video game violence make the world a safer place?”. And they asked me to write an article of it. As usual, I will talk about this subject in all honesty and talk about related things and the amazing idea HappyLate has! I want to thank the staff from HappyLatte for giving me this opportunity. While this article was a hard one to write, I finally got a way of writing this article that I’m happy with. Before we continue, I want to warn you guys that I tried my utter best not offend anyone. While this is a controversial subject, my goal is to raise attention that video game violence isn’t the main cause of the violence around the world. Anyhow, I stand behind HappyLatte’s idea. And I’ll explain myself in this article. As usual, feel free to leave a comment about this article and or your opinion about this matter. Thanks in advance. 

Introduction

doom5So, HappyLatte was able to release their article on a big website. Non other then PocketGamer. I advice you Neko’s (that’s how I call my readers.) read it first before you continue to read my article. Here is a handy dandy link that opens in a new tab.

The idea is simply amazing. This is one of our chances to prove that video games can have a good influence on our society. I can’t deny that there are various studies that have proven that games are good for us but HappyLatte is one of the only companies I can name now that does something with these studies.

Some games are too violent. Some horror games have such an extreme violence level, that it’s just stomach turning. I even reviewed such a game a while ago. Corpse Party is quite a violent 2D visual novel adventure game. Am I glad that it’s fake.

Own thoughts

_45949102_pegiratingsAs usual, in these kind of articles, I leave some space to speak up my own mind. What do I think? Can video game violence make the world a safer place? Well, honestly that depends. I personally can’t say 100% yes but there is a truth in the statement.

It actually depends on the violence itself. The violence in Saints Row for example is mostly meant to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s so overdone that you know it’s fake. Like a good action movie.

When the video game violence stays in certain limits, you can be sure that it can make the safer place. And not alone by stopping criminals from doing a criminal deed.

It could be quite possible that lives can be saved from playing (violent) video games. I mean, there are even video games used in schools to educate children or to raise awareness. As a college student to become a teacher, I have seen games to raise awareness of bullying and driving drunk. The latter was a bit more violent but it quite shocked me and I’m sure to never ever drive drunk.

The most important thing is the execution of the violence, like I said multiple times by now. Is it meant to entertain or to shock? It must have a good foundation. HappyLatte’s game Day’s Of Crime has nailed that. They have developed this game with the help of an algorithm called the IAP. When you want to read more, I suggest reading the interview with the inventor.

Wrap-up

daysofcrime_headerimageHonestly, I think I did a good thing writing about this game. While I first was sure of this being legit, I think I made the best decision. Why was I not so sure that this was real? I didn’t find many other sources talking about this. When this isn’t real, I could use the game to help me relieve my frustrations.

But then I researched the company, and then I was convinced. This is legit, even when this sounds too good for words. Since this is a starting company with only 2 other games released, this is an extremely noble cause to get some more attention.

HappyLatte, I salute you! You guys and girls help making the world a safer and better place with the use of video games. Something that needed more positive attention in the first place. And I have to admit, I want to sign up now to see what the game is all about. How this actually works. Maybe I’ll download it and play it when I can get my hands on it. (Possibly the developers send me a copy of the game as a thanks for writing this article.)

So, this was a challenging article to write. I honestly restarted writing this article a couple of times. Now I have finally said everything that should be said be me. I hope you enjoyed reading this interesting article and I will surely keep an eye on the development of this game. This article might possibly get a “tail”. (No cat pun intended.)

Update:

Well, lesson learned. Apparently I was mistaken. When I mailed HappyLatte that I’m done with this article… It seems that I went wrong. I was focusing so hard while trying to write the best article that I forgot parts of it could be a joke. So yeah, this is a quote of Tim Metz, part of the marketing staff.

Appreciate the articles you wrote very much. Unfortunately I didn’t expect you would take everything in the press release and website serious: we do believe that the game has the potential to keep more young people in house and refrain them from criminal activities, but the special technology mentioned in the press release and website was actually a joke and doesn’t really exist.

So yeah, even I get things wrong. Thanks HappyLatte for the correction. I will review this game when it comes out and I’ll surely tell how good it is in achieving it’s goal. Maybe they could use the technology in the plot? I’m looking forward to it.

Before I leave you guys, when you want to be up-to-date with my latest things I do, click on the follow button on my Twitter. It will update you with all the latest things in my live and you can easily see when I posted a new article. And just in case, here is a link to my twitter. So yeah, talk to you later.