Tag Archives: shadow

Publishing: How to Tell a Hardware Problem From a Software Problem

Jonez note: This article has been written by the fine folks over at https://businessservicesweek.com if you are interested in various topics you should surely take a look at their site. I found this guest post article quite interesting, so I decided to post it. I found it so interesting, I might revisit this topic in the future with my personal advice.

A computer is made up of various different layers and components, all put in place to perform specifically for the computer’s needs. When a computer breaks or has malfunctioned, it can be a big pain and cause various different issues – especially if you use the computer for work.

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When we are subject to a computer issue, it can be hard to determine where the problem is coming from. We have been groomed to just instantly turn it off and on again and pray for the best. But, it is more than likely a hardware or software problem. But, to anyone that isn’t very educated in computer makeup, it can be tough to know which is causing the problem.

The Difference Between Hardware and Software

Computer hardware can be defined as any physical attribute used in or with your machine. So, the hardware inside the computer, or the components on the outside such as your mouse, keyboard, server, and workstation. Hardware is anything that can be physically touched. Without these components to your computer, the software wouldn’t have anything to run on.

Software is a collection of code installed onto the computers’ hard drive, that allows the device to perform. Many systems will divide software into 3 different categories. These are system software, programming software, and application software. These major classes are sequenced in a way that will be able to change the state of the hardware of the computer.

Common Hardware Problems

Most common hardware issues are actually caused by your device overheating, and not being able to dispose of that heat to cool down. This can cause issues with all the components and their performance inside of the computer, disrupting workflow. Other than the underlying cause being heat, another way many hardware issues occur is because of physical damage. For example, dropping or smashing your device can cause the component to shift or even break themselves.

Some noticeable hardware problems can be as follows.

Blue Screen

A blue screen occurs when your computer encounters a failure called a ‘stop error’. The coding of this error causes the computer to completely crash and stop working. They can come onto your screen and produce all manners of information and coding that is being saved into your hard drive disk as it is happening. If this happens, the only way the laptop can be saved is to restart it entirely. This can lead to a lot of data loss, as the applications that may be open as the blue screen happens, do not have enough time to save all of their data.

Noisy Hard Drive

Hard drives, unknown to many, have a limited lifespan and these are something you do need to update every few months or years to have optimum performance. So, if there is clicking or disruptive grinding sounds coming from the inside of your computer, then it is highly likely the hard drive needs to be replaced.

Blank Screens

Having a blank monitor is one of the most common hardware problems. A blank screen is something that is most likely to occur at least once in your time when using a computer. This can be an annoyance if the computer is being used for work purposes or important work, so it’s an issue that would really need to be fixed fast. This problem can usually be caused by loose cables in the back of the computer such as the supply cord or video cable. A simple fix would be too check all of these and ensure they are securely plugged in, to decipher if these are the culprits.

Common Software Issues

Most common software issues are caused due to a bug in the coding sequence or because the system is not working as expected due to an external issue. Software problems can cause a lot of frustration as the software coding in your device is what runs your hardware to work smoothly.

Computer Freezing

A very common software issue in many devices is the incessant freezing of applications or the screen whilst it is in use. As the laptop will now not be able to be controlled by the mouse and no clicks are doing anything, the only option left is to restart the computer. But, instead of flicking the main supply to rid the laptop of complete power, just holding down the power button for 5-10 seconds will allow the device to restart without losing power – hopefully leaving any opened work untouched.

App Command Not Working

Another confusing and troublesome software problem that could occur is apps on the device are not loading or responding when opened. This can be caused by the software trying to load too many applications at once, and it just doesn’t have the power to configure them all. On the other hand, it could be the app compatibility with the strength of the software in your device. It may be possible that the device being used does not have the appropriate coding or sequence in its software to run the app.

Ways around these issues will be to either reboot your device and start on a clean screen with no additional applications running in the background – then start up the app you want to see if it loads. Or, it will be to research the chosen application and the environment it needs to work and compare that to your own device.

Your Computer Boots Extremely Slowly

Although a slow computer can be much of an annoyance, it is luckily one of the easiest problems to fix. The most common cause of the system taking its time to boot up is because there are too many applications trying to load at once in the background as your computer is trying to start too. The best way to avoid this issue would be to set all of the applications on the computer to only load when they are being used. This will stop new downloads sticking to their factory settings and loading as soon as the laptop starts – hopefully allowing your device to start a lot faster.

Conclusion

It is an annoyance for almost everyone when a device has problems or isn’t working properly – especially when it is of great importance to everyday life. It is hard to be able to configure by yourself why the problems are happening and find the cause. Therefore, the most beneficial decision would be to take your device to a repair shop, if the issue continues after reading through the tips and tricks of this article.

The Sunshine Blogger Award – Q and A

sunshine-blogger-awardI think that I write a similar introduction to every community award I receive. The introduction talks about how the blogging community is one big family that supports each other and to support each other we have these community awards. You can compare them to YouTubers doing shoutouts or collaborations to promote each other and help each other grow. One of these awards is the Sunshine Blogger Award. All of these awards work in a very similar way while thanking the blogger who gave you the award, you have to answer his or her questions, write up the same amount of questions that the bloggers have to reply to that you select to receive the award.

Thank you!

The blogger who gave me the 3rd Sunshine Blogger Award is AK from Sonatano1. It really makes my day when another blogger gives me an award like this, I feel recognized and it really makes my day. Now, AK writes articles on various game related subjects. From old to new games. If you enjoy my content, I’m quite sure you will enjoy his content. One of my favorite articles is one of the Windows Entertainment Packs. It just tickles the collector and retro gamer in me.

Now, I think it’s time that we get to answering the questions that were asked by AK. Let’s dive right into some interesting things and facts about myself.

The Questions

1) What’s your favorite or most-used medium for entertainment?

cropped-bannerblog3-1.jpgMy favorite form of entertainment is gaming, followed by YouTube and anime. I also love theater and stand up comedy quite a lot. Here and there, I go to the movies.

Now, if you follow my blog you might know that I play games on a ton of systems. From my phone to my gaming desktop. From my Nintendo 3DS to my Sony PSP. I even play games on rip-off consoles. So, my favorite medium for entertainment are devices that can play games. My most-used platform is Switch and my computer at the moment of writing. But, because I got some new 3DS games, I think that might change in the future.

2) What character in a work of fiction would you inhabit and why?  (Assuming you’re experiencing the entire storyline of the game/novel/film/whatever as this character.)

Oh dear lord, to answer this question I had to stop myself from cheating and counting one of the stories I wrote in the past. My biggest hobby, besides gaming and acting, is writing. Before I started writing this blog, I used to write a lot of fantasy stories on paper. I have a couple of binders full of story ideas and pitches for quite interesting stories.

Now, because I full control over those worlds, I think it would be too easy to pick one of those stories. On top of that, none of those stories are finished and aren’t even released to the public.

256px-Indiana_Jones_and_the_Infernal_MachineSo, in which universe would I want to live? In that case, give me Indiana Jones in one of the Indiana Jones movies or games. The reason for that is quite simple. I’m in love with the Indiana Jones universe. My favorite game is Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, which is released on Steam and GOG now. My favorite movie is the first movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. While I know that the 4th movie wasn’t one of the best Indiana Jones movies and was filled with various plot holes and things of that nature; truth to be told, I still enjoyed the movie quite a lot. But,  I do agree that it’s one of the worst movies in the series. My love for the series is so big that I went dressed up as Indiana Jones three times to carnival as a child. I even own a replica of the hat Indiana wears in the movies and games. It felt so amazing when I was able to use it in a play last year. So, yeah. Indiana Jones would be my character, the adventures, and the mysteries… Do I even have to explain?

3) What work would you wipe all memories of from your brain if you could so that you could experience it all over again?

To be honest, I have a huge list of games and experiences that I would love to be able to re-experience without any memories. To name just a few: the Tomb Raider games, A Hat in Time, Time Hollow, all the Ace Attorney gamesFantasy Life, Stella Glow, Dream Chronicles and a ton more. I could be adding entries to this list all day.

Now, to be honest, I don’t think I’m open to the idea that my memories would be wiped from my brain from one or more experiences. Quite simply because all of these experiences shaped me into the person and gamer that I’m today. On top of that, this would always change since the older I get, the more works could go on this list.

So, I’m sorry, I don’t think I have one answer for this. Maybe I should play these two Gameboy Color games that I haven’t played yet from the Zelda series. One is called Oracle of Seasons and the other one is called Oracle of Ages. Maybe that might be a great answer to this question…

And for those who totally missed the punchline in the paragraph above, the Oracle games in the Zelda series are the games that introduced me to adventures you can take with you where ever you go. They taught me so many things in life and they were one of the reasons why I wanted to become a game collector. Since I got Oracle of Ages from a garage sale and after I finished the game and so the “To be continued” screen… I wanted to see the story continue so bad. But at the time, the Gameboy Advance SP was released, so it got quite tricky to find Gameboy Color games in garage sales. After a long time (2 years) I found myself a copy of the game and I played completely through it. Since then, I got quite hooked at collecting games.

4) What’s the most annoying trend occurring in your favorite medium today?

I know for a fact that my answer to this question is going to have some people disagreeing with me but still, I find it very annoying. The decline of physical media is somewhat worrying to me. I talked about this before multiple times on my blog but the reasons I find it annoying are multiple.

SotTR_HERO-1-heroFirst of all, as a game collector, I love having a physical copy on my shelf to look at and have nostalgic memories flood back. I don’t have that with digital releases too easily. Now, let me be clear, I’m not against digital releases but I find it worrying that even big titles don’t get a physical release. Take Shadow of the Tomb Raider for example. That game didn’t get a physical release on PC but it did get one on consoles.

The second reason I’m not that fond of going fully digital is the possibility of digital shops getting deleted or shut down. For example, the Wii Shop channel. There is no legal way anymore to buy WiiWare in 2019, which is disappointing. So, if you were saving up as a retro game collector to buy some Virtual Console games on your Wii, cross your fingers it’s on the Wii U. I watched a YouTube series by Scott the Woz that talks about my feelings quite well.

And a 3rd reason is game shops. I find it mind-boggling that the biggest entertainment industry is reduced to a few shelves in retail stores. In one of my local tech and multimedia shops, I see the amount of shelf space that is reserved for gaming and gaming merch decreasing by the year. Now, there are a lot of online stores but I feel that it’s less and less present in our day to day lives. I also love to go to game stores and chat with the people about games, tech and various other things. Of course, you can do that on the internet, sure. But, I enjoyed the non-virtual contact more.

A 4th reason is that it’s a nightmare for game collectors. Apart from having nothing physical for our gaming shelves, the whole move to the digital market space is killing the second-hand market. I need to keep a careful eye on the packaging when buying a game on garage sales or during flea markets. Some game cases come with a game code you can only activate once. Even when it has a disc inside, the game can’t be installed without the code.

There are a few other reasons, but I won’t get into those in this article. I’ll leave those for when I talk more in-depth on this topic.

5) What’s the most promising trend occurring in your favorite medium today?

2017-12-29 19.22.57The acceptance of the gaming hobby by today’s community. When I was a teenager walking around with my Nintendo DS, I get strange looks by adults. “Aren’t you too old to still be playing video games?” is a question I got asked.

But, nowadays, when I talk to people and say that one of my favorite hobbies is playing video games, I usually get one of these answers:

“Oh cool, it doesn’t interest me, to be honest, but my [child, family member, friend, coworker…] also plays games.”

OR

“On which platform do you play?”

I’m also under the impression that there is a growing part of non-gamers who understand why gaming is so appealing and that a lot of cliché things like: “violent video games make youngster violent.” is less easily believed.

The gaming community is also growing each and every day. Which I find amazing. But, like my answer to the previous question, I think I’ll go more in-depth on this topic in a later article.

6) How much or how little romance do you like in your games/films/novels/etc.?

It’s quite tricky to give this a proper answer. On one hand, it depends on the story and such. It also depends on what you understand under romance.

But what I find very important is consistency and proper use. What I mean by proper use is that romance isn’t used just because “all other games in the genre do that.”. If romance fits in the story, then I don’t mind. If I’m still making sense.

7) If you had to be the ruler of one country in any work of fiction, which one would you pick?

pokemon-alpha-sapphire-limited-edition-steelbookI have rewritten my answer to this question several times simply because I always wanted to choose one of the stories I wrote myself as a kid. But that wouldn’t be too much fun since I have full control over that world.

For the sake of this article, I think it’s more fun if I choose a world that already exists and people know the rules of. So, after a lot of thinking.. and trying to avoid me getting distracted by the stories I wrote in the past, I decided to choose the Hoenn region from Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. Just because those games are my favorite Pokémon games and the nostalgic memories with those games are so big.

Also, who wouldn’t want to live in a real Pokémon world? There are so many possibilities in those worlds, it would be amazing.

8) Do you think virtual reality will improve anytime in the near future to the extent that it’s actually worth using?  Or are we already at that point?

One of the biggest problems with virtual reality is the price. I know that there are a lot of cheap VR possibilities with smartphones. But for that, you need a pretty powerful phone and that doesn’t come cheap either. Also, the more popular VR-glasses like the Rift and the HTC Vive just got three years old.

While there are a lot of practical uses for VR, I’m not interested enough to invest in the technology yet. To be honest, I haven’t tried VR for myself for several reasons. From not having the equipment and budget and just because there isn’t a game out yet that I would love to play that’s exclusive to VR.

Personally, I think that VR will be one of the possible platforms we will be able to play games in the future. In the future, we will have consoles, handhelds, PC and VR. I don’t think that will go away.

To call VR a gimmick or a fad like the Wii would be wrong in my opinion. There are many practical applications for VR. I think it just needs to grow and evolve. At the moment, you need to be quite tech-savvy to set it up, just take a look at the sensors and the specs you need to run VR at a decent frame rate.

Actually, answering this question gave me an idea for a future article. So, I’ll go more in-depth about my opinions and thoughts on VR in the future.

9) I’ve heard people say that a novel is a dying form of art and that changes in attention span length and the constant multitasking our generation is involved in will make them obsolete.  If you have an opinion on that matter, do you agree or disagree?

If the novel would be dying, please explain to me why companies like Audible and Scribd are so popular? Besides that, if novels would be a dying art form, why do people still write and read blogs? Now, this discussion is so popular that it has it’s own Wikipedia page about it. 

As a kid, I read a lot of books. I enjoyed reading quite a lot. Nowadays, I barely read one book in a year. I don’t feel the need to actually read books. But, I still read blogs and my favorite gaming genre is visual novels like Death Mark or Trace Memory. I still “read” novels but in a totally different experience. Besides that, my sister enjoys reading books quite a lot. Granted, she has to read a lot of novels and books for her studies.

My two cents on the subject go as follows. I honestly think that the novels just lost some popularity. Because other hobbies like video gaming and watching content online grew, other art forms are losing terrain.

Yet, I still see a lot of people of all ages during my commute to and from work who are reading books. There is still a market for novels. Otherwise, products like the Amazon Kindle wouldn’t be created. Also, if big companies like Google still provide a service to read books like Google Play Books, I honestly think that novels aren’t dying, they are evolving with time.

10) Are you optimistic about the future of the human race?

My answer to this question depends on the mood you catch me in. There are things I’m quite optimistic about like the improved awareness about climate change and the willingness to do something about it but there are things that worry me quite a lot. Something like article 13 that might ruin the internet as we know it.

I think it’s something where we just have to wait and see. There is always going to be something that makes me optimistic and something that worries me. As long as we don’t plunge the world into chaos, I think we will be just fine.

11) Cake or pie?  (There’s only one right answer.)

The fact I had to look up the difference between cake and pie explains quite a lot. Now, did you know that in my native language we have one word for cake and pie? In Dutch we use “taart” for both words.

To be honest, I like both. So, I don’t discriminate. 🙂 And if you want it, the pie cake is a lie, thanks Glad0s.

My questions and nominations

Now, for my eleven questions. Let’s go.

  1. Do you think that nowadays there are too many reboots and sequels to old games instead of new IPs?
  2. Can the big studio’s like Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft… make indie games?
  3. If one of the games you played in the past gets an HD remake, do you get excited? Would you play the remake?
  4. What do you do during a grinding session? Do you do something else while grinding for resources or characters or do you focus on the game?
  5. How do you take notes for your articles? Do you write them down on a piece of paper while playing the game? Do you record your gameplay and write down timestamps?
  6. What are your least favorite sections in gaming?
  7. What is something unique/fun/interesting about your hometown and/or community?
  8. What’s your advice to new bloggers or even, experienced bloggers looking for advice?
  9. Can you answer this question with the wrong answer?
  10. Do you sometimes look back at your old(er) articles and think, if I write another article about that today, it would be totally different?

So, here are the people I tag. And yes, these are all worth your time and you should seriously take a visit to their blog. For your convenience, I have linked to their latest article. I invite all these people to answer one or all the questions and share the love with the community.

LaterLevels

Sheikah Plate

Triform Trinity

ABXY Reviews

Pix1001 – Shoot the Rookie

Drakulus

Hundstrasse

OverThinkerY

A Geeky Girl

Adventure Rules

Killer Robotics

NormalHappenings

Winst0lf

TwoTall4uFool

Reaper Interactive

Falcon Reviews

GamersUnitedGG

I Played The Game

LividLighting

Well-Red Mage

TheDragonsTeaParty

Games With Coffee

The Shameful Narcissist

And that will do it. While there are a ton of other bloggers around, I don’t want the end of this article to end up as a long extensive list of amazing people. Now, I think I’ll end off this article here. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m looking forward to the possible replies to this post. I also hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Gamer’s Thoughts: NekoJonez’s Top 10 Played Games of 2018

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2018 was an extremely strange year for me personally. A lot has happened in the past 12 months both good and bad. I have graduated this year. I’m now a bachelor in Computer Science – Networking. But on the other hand, I have gone through a lot of personal rough patches that did quite a number on my mental health. I’m slowly recovering and the support I’m getting is motivating me, even more, to go forward and get better. That said, I also played quite a lot of games this year. I got a Switch this year and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I also finished and completed a lot of games I started in the past few years so I had a bit of trouble putting this list together. So, for those who are new here, this list contains my 10 favorite games I have STARTED playing in 2018. The release date of the game itself doesn’t matter, what matters is that I started playing it in 2018. Before we get into the actual list, reminder, this list is my personal opinion. So, feel free to discuss it in the comments and also feel free to post your own list into the comments. I’m rather curious. Anyways, this introduction is getting quite long, it’s time to get into the actual list.

Place 10: Angels of Death (Nintendo Switch)

angels-of-death

My review

At first, this game would have a higher place on this list. The story and theming of this game grabbed my attention so much, I felt the black hole after finishing this game quite hard. I wanted to spend more time in the world of this game and spend more time with the characters.

I think that my love for the Corpse Party series and the Zero Escape series made me enjoy this game so much more. If you are a fan of either series, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

In addition to that, this game might have one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. How many times I have listened to it this year, I lost count already. And mind you, I found this game in late October.

Now, why is this game not higher on the list? I praised it quite a lot in my review and I might have given the impression that this game would be my game of the year… Well, it’s because I played another horror game this year that just did that bit more. Outside of that, the short length and gameplay; the game felt like a game I play in between big releases. So yeah. That’s why.

Place 9: Shining Resonance – Refrain (Switch)

Shining_Metal_SwitchLarge.jpgWikipedia

So, back in 2016, I played Stella Glow. I got quite into the story of music playing a big role in an RPG by giving buffs or debuffs. When I found Shining Resonance: Refrain on the Nintendo eShop on the Switch and read that music played an important role as well, I was sold.

When I started to play this game, I got flashbacks to Stella Glow. Even when this game plays quite a lot differently than Stella Glow. This game is more action-focused and in real-time while Stella Glow’s gameplay is more a big puzzle and turn-based.

While I haven’t even come close to finishing this game, I’m quite curious about what else I’ll encounter in this game. I’m at the midway mark of this game but I have been rushing through it. I think that the next couple of playing sessions will be to catch up with various side quests and improving my characters and their equipment since I quite a lot of trouble while battling the last boss.

Now, this game is a port of a PS3 game released in 2014. It’s also a part of the Shining series. If the other games in the series are as enjoyable as this game, I think I might explore this series in the future. Too bad that a lot of games in this series haven’t left Japan.

Place 8: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland (Nintendo Switch)

Atelier Rorona

Wikipedia

So, not too long ago, a bundle of three Atelier games got released on the Nintendo Switch. These games are the Arland trilogy. After I figured out what was the first game in the series, I started playing Atelier Rorona.

I was very surprised with the game actually. The game is quite enjoyable to play but it can be repetitive. The game is about an alchemy workshop with a very lazy owner. You play as her pupil named Rorona. When the kingdom orders the closure of the workshop, you get three years to prove the worth of the shop and finish various assignments of the kingdom. If you fail one of these, the workshop closes right away.

Now, what I didn’t know is how replayable this game is. These are so many mechanics I discovered during my first time playing this game, I also found out that there are a lot of various endings to the game. Now that I have beaten the game once, I think I’ll first beat the other two games before I do another playthrough to get an even better ending.

I personally really liked this game but I have to say that this game isn’t for everyone. I recommend this game to everybody who enjoys a more laid back RPG game. This game does have a lot of depth, but overall I found this game a more relaxing experience. That statement might change if I try to go for the other endings, who knows.

In any case, I’m rather curious about what the other two games have an offer for me. Since I’m going to beat those next. And who knows, these games might convince me to further check out the Atelier series, of which there are many… many games.

Place 7: Resident Evil 4 (PlayStation 2)

resident evil 4.jpg

Wikipedia

When I started playing games like Corpse Party, Fatal Frame and Zero Escape; I knew that one day I’ll have to look into the horror genre. A long time ago, in one of my local toy stores, there was a PS2 booth where a demo of Resident Evil 4 was playable. I think I was 14 years old and while I enjoyed playing the game, I didn’t even know the title nor the impact that game was going to have in the gaming scene. I think I only played the game for like 10-15 minutes in total since the next time I went, the booth was replaced with a demo Gamecube with Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

I actually forgot about the game until some of my favorite YouTubers started to talk about it on their channels. Back then, I was more into adventure and puzzle games, so I took note of the name and moved on.

Fast forward to this year. I was browsing the second-hand games in my local game store and I saw a copy of Resident Evil 4 for the PS2 for only 10€. I didn’t hesitate twice. I bought this game and after I came home I started to play it right away. While I was afraid that I would suck at survival horror, I was able to finish chapter after chapter.

I also got quickly used to aiming and firing a gun with a controller. Since that was one of my biggest fears. I tried playing various shooters with a controller in the past and I always had a lot of trouble.

So, because I was highly surprised at how much fun I was having, I felt that this game rightfully deserved a spot on this year’s list.

Place 6: Project Zero II (Fatal Frame II) – The Crimson Butterfly (PlayStation 2)Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly.jpg

Wikipedia

So, due to Project Zero V – Maiden of the Black Water last year, I got quite into the Project Zero / Fatal Frame series. But seeing the pricing of getting other entries in the series ranging from 30€ to 60€, I had a hard time tracking down a copy.

To my surprise, around my birthday, somebody brought Fatal Frame I, II and III into my local game store and I was able to buy the three titles for 20€ each.

I started playing all three games to test out if the games worked or not. Yet, when I was testing Fatal Frame II, I found myself not able to stop playing the game. The concept of the story where one sister is always looking for her sibling just spoke to me on a personal level. It was quite tricky to get used to playing this game on the PS2 since I always tried to move the camera while moving the PS2 controller since I was used it that playing the other game on the Wii U.

I enjoy playing this game the most, late at night while I darken my room and turn off the lights so I have only the glow of the TV and the disc spinning in the PS2 to keep my company. This makes the game and the experience that more enjoyable. I can’t wait to boot up my PS2 again tonight and try to make some more progress in this quite enjoyable game.

Place 5: Death Mark  (Nintendo Switch)

Death MArk.png

Official website

It looks like I was in a horror rush this year. Death Mark is the 4th game on my favorite games of 2018 list. Now, when I wrote my Halloween special on Angels of Death this year, I actually completed the game before Halloween. So, I was looking for a new horror game to play on Halloween and that’s when I found Death Mark on the Nintendo eShop.

When I was looking at the screenshots and reading the description, it felt like a mixture of Corpse Party and the Zero Escape series. A visual novel horror adventure game that throws you in front of a lot of puzzles.

And that’s what the game delivers perfectly. An enjoyable story with multiple outcomes depending on your actions and one that gripped me to the end. While I was able to see some twists coming from a mile away, the pacing and writing the story more than made up for it.

The story is about a mysterious mark that appears on your body when you go to a haunted place and that mark spells death by dawn if you are unable to clear the grudge of the spirit that gave you the mark. So, if you enjoy a visual novel style horror adventure game, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

Now, Japan is getting a sequel/follow up to this game next year.  Now here is my call to the developers, please localize the follow-up game as well. Looking at the screenshots and the teaser, I’m quite interested! And here is my call to everybody who is interested in horror, please give this game a shot and share it around. This game is highly underrated and deserves more attention and love!

Place 4: Blossom Tales (Switch)

Blossom Tales

My review

I often check the Nintendo Switch store for interesting and unique games. When I came across Blossom Tales, I was sold. The game looked like a well made 2D-Zelda clone and as a big fan of the Legend of Zelda… Let’s just say it was a no-brainer.

And I didn’t regret that decision once. I enjoyed playing this game quite a lot. I felt right at home as a Zelda fan. Also, this game reminded me a bit of the Fairune games. It reminded me how fun that 2D Zelda games are and how much I miss that style of gameplay. I wonder that if we are going to ever see a 2D Zelda game again after the massive success that was Breath of the Wild.  Only time will tell, but for now, I’m happy to see that there are indie game studios that will create games in that style so I’ll always have a game in that style to look forward too.

What I liked the most about this game was the unique way the story was told. A grandfather telling his grandchildren a story since they are bored. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this game. It gives off so much charm and character to the game, for that alone I would recommend that you play this game. And, since we are in the holidays period, the charm is even better!

Place 3: Fire Emblem Warriors (Nintendo Switch)

Fire-Emblem-Warriors-369674-Detail

My review

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. This game is one of the reasons I bought a Nintendo Switch. I think the praise I gave in my review on this game made it pretty clear that this was one of the best games I have played in 2018.

Honestly, at first, I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like the game. Since I had put so many hours into Hyrule Warriors, I was afraid that I was burnt out on the formula and gameplay.

But Fire Emblem Warriors brings a lot of new and fresh mechanics to the table to make me enjoy the game even more. The only criticism I have about the game is that some parts are a bit too complex and not well explained enough in-game. Everything else is highly polished. Even the trick that Drakalus gave me to improve the frame rate in multiplayer aided quite a lot.

Thanks to this game, I got back into the Fire Emblem series. I think that in the upcoming months, I will start tackling my huge backlog of Fire Emblem games I have in my collection. I have at least 6 Fire Emblem games that I have started but never finished. I think it’s time to change that. This game convinced me that the series has quite a lot to offer and I can’t wait to see which adventures the world of Fire Emblem will bring me.

Place 2: Dragon Quest Builders (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

When I saw a trailer for Dragon Quest Builders for the first time, I was hooked. I was disappointed when I learned that this game was going to release for the PlayStation 3, 4 and PSVita. At first, I was considering to buy a PSVita for this game (and Corpse Party Blood Drive before that got ported over to Android)

The game got ported to the Nintendo Switch, so I was able to buy it on the system I bought this year. And I’m glad I was able to play this game. I loved every moment of this game and I’m so extremely hyped for the upcoming sequel. The Japanese version released a couple of days ago. It’s quite tempting to look up let’s plays but I want to keep my experience as spoiler-free as I can.

The only new negative is that I’m unable to play the Terra Incognita mode. Since I have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription and purchasing that for only that and a few NES games is currently not worth it for me in my opinion. But hey, that’s my opinion.

Honorable mentions

Now, I have played a lot of games and some games deserve a mention but haven’t made it on my list for various reasons. So, before I reveal my “game of the year” / number 1, it’s time for the honorable mentions.
Cleopatra – A Queen’s Destiny (PC), Knights of Pen & Paper (PC/Switch), Darkest Dungeon (Switch), Kamiko (Switch), A Magical High School Girl (Switch), Grumpy Cat (Android),
Etrain Odyssey 5 (3DS), Zack & Wiki (Wii), Steamworld Dig 2 (3DS), Silent Hill 4 (PS2), Telsagrad (Wii U), DuckTales (NES), Age of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC), Devil May Cry 4 (PS2).

Now, I know that a lot of major titles released in 2018 didn’t make it on my list or on my honorable mentions. In any case, I think it’s time to reveal the game I was most hyped for this year and I enjoyed the most. Which game is MY personal game of the year 2018? Let’s. Find. Out.

Number 1 – Game of the Year – Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)

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My review

So, this experience. This game is my game of the year in 2018. Shadow of the Tomb Raider. When I was planning the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaboration, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to write about this game.

While some fans in the Tomb Raider series aren’t a big fan of the reboot since it’s a more action-focused and linear game; I enjoy the new direction of the series. Especially this game. The improved visual style, improved writing, the improved quality of life features… The game is just an amazing way to finish this reboot trilogy.

I seriously hope that this isn’t going to be the final game in the Tomb Raider series. Since I enjoyed myself with this game so much, I can’t wait to see where Lara goes next. Besides that, this year a new Tomb Raider movie got released. That movie I personally enjoyed quite a lot. For a movie based on a video game, I find that they did an extremely good job. I’m not really a movie review but if I have to grade the movie, it would get a 75/100.

Now, why did I enjoy this game so much? Why did I pick this game as my game of the year? For several reasons, the first reason is that this game’s story is the best story out of the three games in the reboot series. I had several moments where I felt the emotions of the characters, the voice actors did that good of a job.

The second reason is that this game is just beautiful. The visual presentation is just amazing. There are various spots where you look out over a huge forest from on top of a mountain or you get other breathtaking views. Now, a few moments had some minor visual glitching or some spots where the game could have look a bit better, but that might be because of my older GPU on my desktop. That might explain various lighting glitches I have in the post-launch DLC.

A third reason why this is my game of the year is that the Tomb Raider series just means a lot to me personally. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and I see and I have always seen Lara Croft as a sort of “sister” to Indiana Jones. But Indiana Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention in the video game scene while Lara does get that. So, being able to play games like Tomb Raider… Well, it’s my favorite genre and style of games after all. A mystery adventure game mixed with action and platforming segments.

The only disappointing thing is that I don’t have a physical copy of this game. The PC version of this game hasn’t gotten a physical release. And I feel it would be a waste of money to buy a PS4 or XBOX copy of the game just to have a physical version. But, if you want to know my actual opinion on the game, I advise that you read my review. Since I really detailed my opinion in that article.

So, if you will excuse me now. I think it’s time to wrap up this article so I can play the newly added tombs and story segments.

Wrapping up 2018.

Like I said at the beginning of this article, 2018 was an extremely weird year for me. I even got my articles stolen various times. Outside of that, I had 25,000 views on my blog. This is more than double compared to the number of views I got in 2017.

This inspires me to continue and write even more articles in 2019. I have a few in mind so I hope I’ll be able to welcome you on my blog next year. Blogging is my biggest hobby since I’m able to share my opinion on the games I have played with the world. I’m quite grateful for everybody who reads my articles and leaves comments or talks to me on social media or even in person about my articles and/or the games I have talked about.

I also love it when developers contact me and give me various chances to play unique and fun games. It also helps me to expand my collection and takes makes me even happier.

If I have to pick my favorite blogging moments of this year, I have to say how the community came together for helping me and other bloggers in fighting article theft, the Tomb Raider project and the various milestones I reached like 500+ followers on my Twitter. It’s still the best way to keep up-to-date with me.

2019 is going to celebrate the 9th year I have been blogging. Before 2013, I had a Dutch blog. That means that this blog will be 7 years old next year.

That will mean that 2020 will be an extremely special year for me. But, let’s focus first on 2019. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Speaking of 2019, I think I should talk about the games I’m looking forward to! That’s going to be (one of the) next articles on my blog. So, keep an eye out for that.

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.

Tomb Raider – Writer’s Raid

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

Official website

The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy are series that have a lot of loving fans. Now, besides the Legend of Zelda series, there is another series that had a strong presence in my childhood. As a child, I fell in love with the Indiana Jones franchise. I played the various Indiana Jones games until either the cartridge or the CD gave up. Now, I wanted more. Because of that lust for more, I discovered the Tomb Raider franchise. The first Tomb Raider game I ever played was Tomb Raider 5 – Chronicles. That was enough for me to decide to hunt down all Tomb Raider games and play them from start to finish. And I’m not the only one who enjoys Tomb Raider and let me prove that to you, I’m going to raider the various tombs this franchise throws at us together with some amazing befriended bloggers. I hope you are ready since various treasures of articles will await you in these tombs. Let’s. Get. Raiding.

1996 – Tomb Raider

Tomb_Raider_(1996)Games With Coffee takes us through Lara’s adventure to help Natla.

Grab yourself a cup of coffee, since we are taking a journey through the good old first entry of Tomb Raider.

Together with Games With Coffee we take a nostalgic look to Tomb Raider and discover how it “holds up” today. Depending on who you ask of course.

The analysis of this game is extremely well done and made me remember various stories of the first time I played Tomb Raider. Seriously, give it a read! 

1997 – Tomb Raider II Featuring Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIABXY Game Reviews is following Lara through her journey to find a Dragon’s dagger!

ABXY Game Reviews really wanted to play an old school Tomb Raider game. And I was looking for writers. A match made in heaven I think.

In heaven, that’s where the object Lara is after in her second adventure. A mythological Chinese dagger can came from the heavens that can turn mere mortals into dragons.

Did ABXY Game Reviews enjoy his journey through old school Tomb Raider or do fans of this game get blinded by nostalgia? You have to read this article to find out.

1998 – Tomb Raider III – The Adventures of Lara Croft

Tomb_Raider_IIINekoJonez helps us find four artifacts.

I love telling this story. When I first played Tomb Raider III, I thought I was playing Tomb Raider IV. The reason for that, well, I explained that in my nostalgic look-back of Tomb Raider III.

I tried to avoid writing a review for this game and give some retrospective facts. But it was great fun playing through this game again for this project.

So please, feel free to give one of my entries in this project a read.

1999 – Tomb Raider IV – The Last Revelation

Tomb_Raider_-_The_Last_RevelationSarahsGameCollection is going to take us on a journey to raid the Egyptian tombs!

I discovered Sarah’s website through this project. And I haven’t regretted it at all. Her website is a joy to browse through and read.

Her unique writing style is something I love most about her website. While she writes, she adds personal comments like if she is telling a story to you and it’s great fun to read.

I think that this article came together quite well since it made me want to replay Tomb Raider IV for myself.

2000 – Tomb Raider V – Chronicles

Tomb_Raider_-_ChroniclesTriformTrinity is taking us to Lara’s funeral…?

If you want to know if you should play Tomb Raider Chronicles, you shouldn’t look further. Triform Trinity wrote a short review of the game.

I wrote an article on this game last year, and it shows how people can differ in opinion.

Anyways, I  highly recommend you reading this article. It was a joy to work with TriformTrinity and reading his through his website is such a great and fun time. Since I can assure you that I always have a fun time when I visit his website.

 

2000 – Tomb Raider Level Editor

Tomb_Raider_Level_EditorNekoJonez took a look at Tomb Raider fan’s levels.

I have to admit that I was planning to write an article about the level editor for Tomb Raider for quite a while.

To be honest, this game is one of the reasons why I organized this collaboration in the first place. Since it’s a creative platform that brings a community together. And this project is the perfect “excuse” to talk about something unique like this.

So, if you are curious about what the level editor can do, feel free to read it on my blog and I hope you like it.

2003 – Tomb Raider – Angel of Darkness

Tomb_Raider_-_The_Angel_of_DarknessSarah’s Game Collection is helping to solve this murder mystery…

If there is one Tomb Raider game I haven’t fully played it, it has to be Tomb Raider – Angel of Darkness.

I heard so many things about it. From it being a bad game to being a decent game. After reading the review that Sarah wrote for this game I got even more interested in finishing this game.

Now, I invite you to read along with me this amazing analysis of the final game that Core worked on in the series.

2006 – Tomb Raider Legend

Tomb_Raider_-_LegendLiana takes us on the legendary journey for a sword.

In this retrospective collaboration project, I always give freedom to the writers. This resulted in Liana writing an amazing piece where she analyzed the game very deeply.

Not only that, she talks about the history and development of this game. And she even took a deeper look at who Lara Croft actually is.

I can highly recommend that you give this article by Liana a read. And if you are interested in more of her work, you can also visit her YouTube channel, which I HIGHLY recommend as well.

And allow me to slip some personal advertisement in as well since I reviewed this game last year myself.

2007 – Tomb Raider – Anniversary

Tomb_Raider_-_AnniversaryGames with Coffee takes us, again, on Lara’s adventure to help Natla…

Now, I hope your coffee didn’t go cold since we are going to take a look at the remake of Tomb Raider I.

Games with Coffee brings you a very in-depth review and look at this game. He played it on Steam. I played this game on my PC as well and I have to agree with a lot he said in the article.

This game was one of the games that really drew me into the whole Tomb Raider franchise and it hasn’t let go since.

2008 – Tomb Raider Underworld

Tomb_Raider_-_UnderworldLiana takes us on a journey through the underworld.

Now, Liana takes a look at Tomb Raider Underworld in a very interesting way. You won’t find a review of the game in this article but a very interesting in-depth analysis of the game’s story.

Reading the article was extremely interesting. It helped me to connect some dots I didn’t even realize that there were before.

She also analyses Lara’s character and how it all fits in the lore of the series. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go read Liana’s article!

2010 – Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Lara_Croft_and_the_Guardian_of_LightLaterLevels is going to battle for the light.

After I finished Tomb Raider Underworld, I was waiting on the next entry in the Tomb Raider series. To my surprise, we had to wait 5 years on a new entry in the main series.

Yet, during this wait, we got Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. A game that’s on my endless backlog list.

When I talked to Kim from LaterLevels and asked her if she wanted to be part of the Tomb Raider project, she suggested playing this game on stream together with her other half. She didn’t stream this game but the other spin-off. More on that later.

Now, what did she think of this game? You can read it in Kim’s article. Enjoy!

2013 – Tomb Raider

TombRaider2013OverThinkerY takes us to a Japanese island…

“A famous explorer once said, that the extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are. I’d finally set out to make my mark; to find adventure. But instead adventure found me. In our darkest moments, when life flashes before us, we find something; Something that keeps us going. Something that pushes us.”

That was one of the best quotes out the reboot of Tomb Raider in 2013. In this article, my good friend OverThinkerY took a look at the game. His analysis is great and I loved reading his article. I think you will enjoy it as well.

Also, this game has a special place for me on my blog since it’s the first game I reviewed since I started my English blog in 2013. You can read it here.

2014 – Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris

Lara_croft_and_the_temple_of_osiris_artLaterLevels takes us on a journey through the Temple of Osiris.

So, Kim didn’t know that there were two spin-off games. When I told that to Kim, she didn’t hesitate for a second and decided that she wanted to also write about the 2nd spin-off game.

Kim did a stream of this game together with her other half. You can watch Twitch.TV archive in case you missed it: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/310930370

But I also highly recommend to check out her review of this game. Since I loved reading it.

2015 – Lara Croft: GO! & Lara Croft Relic Run

TriformTrinity puzzles his way through various tombs…

…and runs for relics.

Now, in this Writer’s Raid, we also took a look at two Lara Croft mobile games. These are Lara Croft Go and Lara Croft Relic Run. Honestly, I have played a bit of Lara Croft GO myself, but I haven’t played a lot of Lara Croft Relic Run.

So, if you are curious if these games are something for you and worth buying on your Android or iOS device, I think you will enjoy these two articles that TriformTrinity wrote. Have a great read!

2015 – Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise_of_the_Tomb_RaiderOverThinkerY looks at Lara’s rise in Lara Croft.

Of course, had Tomb Raider (2013) to end with a cliff hanger. So, the story could continue in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

OverThinkerY takes a great look at the game and gives his own honest opinion on it. (And I gave mine a few years ago)

Something I really liked in OverThinkerY’s article is that he compared this game to what he likes in other games. And he played this game with the DLC included. So, give it a read, I can highly recommend it.

2018 – Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

SotTR_HERO-1-heroNekoJonez is going to take us on Lara’s latest journey.

While we were planning this project, the newest Tomb Raider game got released. To be honest, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to play this game anyways and I felt that it was a perfect way to close this collaboration.

So, what did I think of Lara’s latest adventure? If you want to know that, you’ll have to read my article on Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

And then this was the loot

I knew in advance that the group of writers for this project was going to be very different compared to my previous projects. I want to thank all the writers who helped me in this project, some even replayed games which didn’t age too well.

I hope you enjoyed reading this collaboration between me and these lovely bloggers: Games With Coffee, ABXY Game Reviews, Sarah’s Game Collection, Liana Kerzner, TriformTrinity, LaterLevels, and OverThinkerY.

Do check these people out! They are all amazing people and I have to thank all of them to make this become a reality. Besides The Legend of Zelda, Tomb Raider is one of the biggest series from my childhood and reading all these different pieces made me remember why I love the series.

I have to admit that the games didn’t age all too well so it was quite interesting to see what everybody thought about the games they played.

I hope you enjoyed reading through these articles and enjoyed exploring the websites that made this unique project come to life. Feel free to be a Tomb Raider and explore these websites since they are all great sites that I can highly recommend.

If you want to read more articles like these, last year I did a similar project like this on the Zelda series. Also, my friend the Well-Red Mage did something similar to the Final Fantasy series. So, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating 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!

Game Review: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC) ~ Trinity Awaits You.

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

This post is a part of the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaborative project. In this project, various bloggers came together to take a critical look on the Tomb Raider series. Mixing nostalgia and a critical look at every game in the main series. You can read more in the hub article here.

SotTR_HERO-1-heroWikipedia entrySteam Store page

I remember the day that the picture leaked of the guy working on a powerpoint presentation of Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the metro. I was so hyped for the 3rd Tomb Raider game. I quite enjoyed the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise and I wanted to see how the trilogy ends. I pre-ordered the game as soon as I could. Of course, I pre-ordered the collector’s edition and I was able to play this game 48 hours before the official release. Now that I finished the game, it’s time to give my honest opinion on it. Is the game any good or should you skip it? Let’s find out. Also, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Trinity awaits you

20180912191126_1If you are planning to play this game, I highly recommend that you play Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider before this game. The story in this game continues on the story of those two games. While you will be able to understand and follow the story in the game without any problems in this game, the impact of the story will be stronger if you played the first two games.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll keep some parts a bit vague in my plot description. So, in this game, Lara and Jonah are exploring Cozumel in Mexico for a piece of the artifact that Lara’s rival gang Trinity is after. It doesn’t take long before the duo finds Trinity and they discover something huge about Trinity. This leads Lara to a nearby temple where she finds a dagger that sets off a chain of events that might spell the end of the world but this might help Trinity to succeed with their plans. Now, will Lara be able to stop Trinity and save the world? Since Trinity awaits you in this game…

The story of this game is your typical adventure movie story. Personally, I enjoyed the story in this game quite a lot. The writing is pretty well done. I grew attached to the characters in this arc and it kept me engaged. While I was able to predict some plot points and twists from a mile away, I was entertained by it. The pacing of the plot is so good, I was less distracted by side quests than in the previous two titles.

The story takes you to various locations in Mexico and Peru. There is one section of the game that will put a huge smile on veteran Tomb Raider players, but I won’t spoil that one. While a lot of the game takes place in the jungle, the scenery never gets boring. I totally loved exploring the world after I had beaten the main story and I can’t wait for the additional content that they are going to release in the upcoming months.

Something I would love to talk about is that this game had two different epilogues. In this article, I want to focus on reviewing the game in its current form but if you want to know more, Kotaku has a great write-up with developer commentary.

The writing and pacing of this game are excellent, but something I really liked in this game was the voice acting. I really felt that the actors were giving it their all while creating this game. When Lara gets mad, she really sounds mad. Something I think is amazing is that the NPC’s can either speak English or speak in their native language. This setting in the options menu is such an amazing immersion feature. It really adds to the charm of the voice acting.

Now with the reboot plot wrapped up, I’m quite curious about where they are going to take Lara next. Which adventures will Lara have next? Will they create a new game when Lara is older or will they create a story that takes place right after this game? Only time will tell.

Take a jaw-dropping picture

sotr.jpgWhen I saw the minimum requirements of this game, I became worried. In order to play this game, you need to have an i3-3220 Intel processor or something similar to AMD. You also need 8GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660/GTX 1050 or AMD Radeon HD 7770 at the minimum. My computer has an i7-4820K, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660. So, my computer fits the requirements of the recommend system requirements besides my graphics card. I was so afraid that I would be bottlenecked due to my graphics card. I was afraid that I had to put everything at the lowest settings to even get a playable framerate out of the game.

Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case.  I was able to play the game at medium visual settings at somewhere between 25FPS to 66FPS. The framerate was quite stable as well. While I was playing, I ran MSI Afterburner on my 2nd monitor to keep track of the temperatures of my GPU and the usage. Since that caused issues in Rise of the Tomb Raider for me. In this game, I only experienced three game crashes in that 48-hour pre-launch period but a quick restart of the game fixed the issue. And since the patch released on launch, I never had those crashes again.

25FPS might be too low in some people their opinion but I don’t mind it that much. 30FPS is still an acceptable frame rate for me and I don’t mind it that much, I understand that a lot of people prefer 60FPS, but I’m just glad that I have the game at a playable and stable frame rate.

I’m happy that my computer can run this game since this game takes you on an amazing journey. You come across gorgeous landscapes that are begging you to use the photography feature built in this game. This is even a small basic editor included. I only used the photography mode once, to test it out. If I ever replay this game, I have some spots that I totally want to use this feature on and create some amazing wallpapers.

While the visual presentation is amazing, I did experience some tearing issues and I saw some clipping. But, this happened so rarely and fixed themselves so fast, they weren’t a big issue. Most of the tearing issues were just for a few seconds here and there is a cutscene. I have to admit that updating my graphics card to the latest driver made me have even less tearing issues. So, if you are experiencing them too, check if your graphics card is up-to-date.

Visually, this game is jaw-dropping. While exploring the packed jungle, hidden cities, and various tombs; you get even more eye candy with the animations in this game. From Lara jumping down to make a stealth kill to two characters speaking to each other in a cutscene, the animations are extremely well done. One minor complaint I have is that some death scenes felt a bit reused from the previous two games, but some look even better than before.

Yet, there are a few things about the visuals I thought weren’t the best they could be. The first problem with the visuals is that sometimes when the game reloaded after I died, the visuals went to a lower setting. This happened to me 5 times out of nowhere. Yet, after a patch, I didn’t experience this issue so I guess that might be fixed.

A 2nd complaint I have with the visuals is that the liquids in the death scenes became see-through. It might be a nitpicky complaint, but I felt that it was rather awkward. It didn’t feel quite right. It would have looked a lot better if the camera zoomed out with Lara’s scream fading away as if she drowned.

Now, let’s talk about gameplay. Since the reboot, the gameplay of the Tomb Raider series changed quite a lot. There are more action sequences in between puzzle segments and the exploration of tombs. Lara has a few new abilities compared to the previous two games. Outside of the expanded moves with the grapple ax and the stealth mechanics, all these mechanics are underused.

For example, some enemies have heat goggles. These enemies appear so frequent, it’s a gimmick. Another example is the underwater creatures, like eels and phirans. These can provide for some unique swimming puzzles but they are rarely used or are quite easy to avoid. Also, there are some tripwires that can activate traps. But, these traps are always the same trap and the same way of disabling them. It’s sad to see these mechanics under used so much.

Something that really annoyed me is that when you used the explorer sense, Lara almost always gave the solution of the puzzle away immediately. She spells out what you have to move to where. Even this sense sometimes provided the solution to the puzzle. This made some puzzles in this game too easy. I preferred it when Lara didn’t give the solution right away. It was especially frustrating when she talked over dialogue. In one tomb, Lara and Jonah were exploring. While they were talking about the room they were in, I pressed the explorer sense button. While Lara and Jonah were having their chat, Lara spoils the solution of the puzzle. That way I didn’t hear what Lara and Jonah said. It would have been much more fun to solve the puzzles when Lara didn’t give away the solution away so quickly. It should work like those special mushrooms in the latest Mario games, that it appears when the player keeps failing to solve the puzzle or is stuck in the room for some time.

It’s a shame since the puzzles are very fun to solve. They are well crafted and I enjoyed solving them. Thankfully, the issue of Lara spoiling the solution doesn’t happen with the platform sections. These were amazing to play through. I can’t wait to see what the new challenge tombs will bring in the upcoming months. On the 14th of November, a new tomb will release. I can’t wait to explore it.

Anyways, when I changed the puzzle difficulty to hard, Lara didn’t do this. I wish I knew this earlier before I had beaten the game. Since I had chosen the “Rite of passage” difficulty. It would have solved one of my major gripes with this game. I did have to set it to the hard setting, and that took away a lot of things in the explorer sense as well… So, I’ll stick to normal and just not use explorer sense only if I’m stuck.

Something I really love in this game as well is that you have more than one indicator on the map and in the explorer sense. You have the yellow marker that guides you to the next story point, the green one for the side quest you are doing and the blue one for the marker you set in the map mode. This is so handy and helped me to keep track of certain things. Great feature!

Orchestral exploration

20180912191114_1This game has an orchestral soundtrack. The soundtrack has been composed by Brian D’Oliveira and he created something amazing. The soundtrack adds so much power to the cutscenes and the game.

I also added the soundtrack to my music library. It’s a great soundtrack for when I’m writing various articles or when I’m playing other games like Minecraft or Europa Universalis IV.

It was especially tense during the stealth sections. I’m the type of player who usually goes all out and doesn’t use a lot of stealth. In this game, I highly recommend that you are careful while you have enemy encounters. They can quite easily overwhelm you if you go out of hiding too quickly. Also, in this game, the traps like flaming bottles and smoke bombs are way more useful than in the previous games. They helped me quite a lot. The music is a great help in these combat sections since it’s your guide if there are still enemies around or if you have defeated them all.

Together with the great soundtrack, the sound effects and sound design of this game are extremely well done. I played this game with headphones. If you play this game, I highly recommend that you use a decent pair of headphones or speakers. The sound effects and the music add so much to the experience and the immersion, it’s essential in my opinion. It made my heart pound at certain moments and I felt so relieved when I was finally able to beat that section that gave me problems earlier.

The controls in the game are good. I do have one complaint and that is that I find the controls for the crafting system a bit awkward to use. I got used to it, but I preferred the crafting system in the previous game where you were able to map the crafting of (special) arrows or ammo to a single button. Now you need to use two for them. Then again, I see the benefits of the current system, so I think it’s a personal complaint.

I never had any major issues with the controls. Maybe once or twice that Lara didn’t grab a ledge, but these things happen in games all the time. The checkpoints in this game are frequent enough that you don’t lose a lot of progress. The game also has an autosave so you never have to worry that you lose progress.

Earlier, I talked about the extended mechanics or the grapple ax. A grapple ax is an essential tool in Lara’s arsenal in this game. She uses it as a sort of whip to swing across gaps, Indiana Jones style. She also uses is it for stealth killing, climbing almost vertical walls and using it as an anchor point when she needs to go down. There are certain moments when you hang on a wall right above the entrance of a tomb and Lara has to lower herself to either safe reach the ground or to swing back and forth to create enough momentum to jump to the platform that leads to the entrance of the tomb. Rappelling down was always a great joy to do.

Now, there is one mechanic that actually returns from a previous Tomb Raider game. In Tomb Raider Anniversary, there are certain sections while you use your grapple you run on walls. This mechanic returns in this game. It’s used in combination with the lowering down mechanic I described in the previous paragraph.

These mechanics were fun to use. Slowing going down and seeing the big temple appear in the distance were my favorite moments in this game. It really made me feel like I was exploring the area. Paired with the amazing visuals and soundtrack, I enjoyed myself quite a lot. Speaking about those visuals, sometimes your path blended in with the environment so well, it was fun to explore. Trying to find the path you had to take to find your way back from a tomb. Also, in some platforming sections, especially when you are escaping from a crumbling building, the visuals make it even better to play through. You have rubble falling just past you or poles you bending the right way for you to continue. The adrenaline in these sections was amazing for me.

Now, this game took me 20 hours or so to beat. On Howlongtobeat.com, there are people who have beaten the story in 13 hours. I think I might complete this game, so I have a few additional hours in this game. The difficulty of this game really depends on the abilities and outfits you use. The fewer abilities you unlock and if you don’t use the benefits of your outfits, the game gets a lot harder. But, I found this game not that difficult. There were a few moments that I had to redo, sometimes more than 3 or 4 times but each time I learned the patterns of the enemies or where I needed to go. The game provides some challenge but once you get the mechanics down, you breeze through this power fantasy.

Now, about the difficulty. There are a few different options. Something I really like is that you can set the difficulty for combat, exploration, and puzzle. So, if you find something too easy and you want more challenge, just change that in the gameplay section of the options menu. The only nitpick I have about the menu is that there should be a “confirm” button. Since it felt kind of strange that the changes happen right away to me. Then again, that might be just me.

Also, if you are quite nostalgic like me, there are outfits that even remodel Lara’s character mode to look like in the earlier Tomb Raider games. I think that I’m going to use those outfits to complete the game now that I have beaten it.

Personally, I enjoyed the combat in this game quite a lot. Outsmarting your enemies and silently killing them before they can group up on you to overpower you was enjoyable. I felt my heart pounding when I was finally able to beat that one section I had to do over and over again. These sections made me consider playing other more stealth focused games in the future.

A big plus in this game is the in-game store. In the two previous titles, ammo could become a bit too rare to find in the post-game. This is solved by merchants in the villages you visit. There you can buy gear and ammo. You can also sell your materials for coins. This is a great mechanic since you really need to think about what you can sell if you want to complete this game.

The final fight in this game really took me back to the old school Tomb Raider boss fights. I only wish that it was a bit more challenging. I was able to beat the final fight with only dying twice. This time it felt like a proper final fight and not a gauntlet of enemies. It’s the best final fight in this trilogy.

So, that was everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time for the conclusion of my review.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, pacing and voice acting.

+ Amazing visual presentation.

+ In-game store.

+ Great soundtrack & sound design.

+ Great final boss.

+ Nostalgic outfits.

+ …

The bad:

-Some mechanics are underused.

-Sometimes some minor visual issues like tearing and clipping appear.

Final thoughts:

As a veteran Tomb Raider player, I wasn’t disappointed in this game. While I completely understand that this game isn’t for everybody, it did click with me. I enjoyed myself while playing this game and I think that this game turned out amazing. The biggest flaw of this game is that some fun mechanics go underused. Maybe these mechanics might be more used when I up the difficulty in my next playthrough.

I enjoyed playing through this game so much that I’m going to play through this game again for sure. The visuals are extremely well done, the animations, soundtrack, sound design… it all pulled me into this game. If you really enjoy playing adventure games like the 3D Indiana Jones games, Uncharted, Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider or games of that nature, you owe it to yourself to give this game a try.

In my opinion, this is one of the best Tomb Raider games I have played in recent years. It reminded me why I enjoy playing through this series so much. The adventure is just so much fun and it reminds me of watching Indiana Jones when I was younger.

I can’t recommend this game enough. If you can, buy the season pass. I know that this makes the game more expensive but the additional costumes and the additional challenge tombs that will be released in the upcoming months will be more than worth it.

Thank you, Square Enix, Eidos Montreal and all the other companies who helped develop this trilogy. I hope you continue creating adventures for Lara Croft. The quality of this game is amazing and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Thank you for the journey and I hope this won’t be the last stop. You thanked your fans in the credits, allow me to thank you and your team for this amazing experience! Keep on creating those tombs and we shall keep raiding if it’s this amazing of a game.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this 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. Also, be sure to check out the hub article where you can read more articles on the Tomb Raider series. More information is at the start of this article.

Score: 90/100

Preview: Shadow On Broadway (PC) ~ Let’s Solve This Demo!

Shadow on Broadway LogoOfficial website

Today we are going to talk about something quite unique. This game is created by a group of students and this is their first game. A more complete story can be read on their about page. The reason I decided to write an article about this game is because I tried to create games in the past with my friends. So, this story speaks to me. My games weren’t as fleshed out or developed as this game is. But, is this game any good or is this a project better left between friends and family of the developers? Let’s take an honest look at the game. I have beaten this demo three times, the first two levels are playable, so if you want the full game, you will have to follow them on Facebook for future updates. Also, as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article in the comment section down below.

Note: while I have beaten the game, I’m not going to label this as a review. I have chosen to label this as a preview since it’s a demo that shows off the first two levels of the game in an alpha stage.

A Mystery

Shadow on Broadway 1In this game, you play as a P.I. named Jack and you must find Nancy. Together with Genevieve, you find a lead on which gang has Nancy. So, you can start to look for her.

While the setup for the story isn’t unique, what matters is how the story is written. The writing is okay. I enjoy detective/crime stories but I have read better-written stories. That’s not to say that this story is bad, the pacing is great but there are things left unexplained and things that don’t really “click” with the overall presentation.

Most of the story will be told while the next level loads. This will happen in nice black and white drawn panels. They are displayed like you are reading a visual novel. If you aren’t interested in the story, you can skip it by clicking after the level loaded. The voice acting will keep playing if you clicked until the cutscene transitioned into the level, but the comic book way of presenting the story won’t progress.

Speaking of the voice acting, it’s decent. There were a few things that could be improved in terms of the voice acting. Sometimes the voice acting lacked the emotion or the needed “punch”. To avoid spoilers, I won’t give specific examples but you will hear it once or twice. But then again, this might be me being too critical of a free game made by a group of people who just released their first game. Since the sound quality is amazing when it comes to the voice acting. It’s just that additional “punch” that is lacking.

There are also subtitles that show up on the top of your screen when the characters are talking. The only thing that annoyed me about them is the fact that a lot of subtitles are missing the “.” at the end of the sentence. You also get a sort of tutorial, where the keys are explained. These show up above the health bar in red while you hear the sound of pressing keys on a typewriter while letter per letter is shown.

This brings me to the sound design. The soundtrack of this game is good. The music is good and helps a lot building the atmosphere. The sound effects are overall good with a few exceptions. The sound effects of hitting enemies and them dying is just bad.

The sound of hitting the enemies is just annoying. When I heard it the first time, I just imagined a room full of them and them dying all at the same time. The sound of the enemies dying didn’t fit the enemies at all.

Solving it

Shadow on Broadway 2The gameplay of this game is pretty good. You play either as Jack or Genevieve. Both have different abilities that are unique to them.

Jack can roll to dodge attacks and Genevieve has a few magical moves. Their moves are easy to get used too since the controls are responsive. Yet, I have a few complaints when it comes to the controls.

The first problem with the controls is something I’m annoyed by if games do this. I live in Belgium and we have an “AZERTY”-layout in our keyboards. Usually, the game rebinds the “WASD”-movement keys to “ZQSD” but this game doesn’t do that. Thankfully, I could use the arrow keys as a replacement but this made it awkward for me when I had to fight. Since my arms are so close to each other. Oh well.

This brings me right to my second problem. Because of that, some keys were too far from my fingers to use. This became a problem in the second level when I was playing around with the magic abilities of Genevieve.

And the final issue I have with the controls is the lack of a rebind option and the options menu. You can’t rebind the keys and the options menu for the “controls” only shows a few of the keys. This needs to be a bit more worked out.

This brings me to the menu system and the UI. Something I pay a lot of attention too. And in this game, the menu system is okay apart from two things. I think that when you open the pause menu, it should make the menu more the focus. Now, it’s just displayed on top of the level.  My second “issue” with the menu system is a very small one. But, why is there on every menu “return” used to return to the previous menu but in the sound menu it’s “back”?

A small suggestion for the sound menu is, when you mess around with the sliders, it would be nice if you hear a sample so you can tweak it to your liking.

Now, I’m sorry but the UI isn’t the prettiest of things in this game. Now, am I saying the art chosen for the HUD and everything is bad? No, not at all. The problem is that it doesn’t fit the presentation at all. It would make the game so much better if the HUD blends in with the presentation a bit more.

Close, but no cigar.

Shadow on Broadway 3Now, it might seem that this game is bad or mediocre. The thing is, the game is still in its early stages and it shows. I think it’s a wise move of the developers to put the game online and get as much feedback as they can to improve their game.

Something I really liked about the demo was the presentation. The atmosphere of the game is just perfect. The filter put onto the gameplay is pretty good. Yet, it bugs me that I still need to complain about something here. The animation still needs a lot of work. The animation of the first boss special attack is unfinished and the animation of some scripted events aren’t present yet. Which is a shame, since the character models are well made and detailed. But without things like lip synching or some more movement of the characters, while those scripted events play out, it gives the game a cheap and unfinished feel.

Since this demo is quite short and can be beaten in a few minutes, this game doesn’t have a save feature. In fact, I didn’t need a save feature in this demo since I never came close to dying. The demo is easy, some puzzles might stump you for a bit but a seasoned puzzle gamer will blast through them.  This doesn’t mean that the puzzles are bad, they are easy to figure out and they don’t slow down the gameplay.

Like I touched upon before, in this game you must explore and investigate an area. In this game, you must solve puzzles and defeat enemies. I just talked about the puzzles, so let’s talk about the combat. The combat is pretty good, it’s too bad that there weren’t more challenging situations in the demo to experiment more with the combat system of the game.

If the developers would use these two levels as the opening of the full version of the game, my only hope is that they make those two levels longer. It’s better to have a couple of longer levels than a bunch of short levels. Since it allows for more creativity instead of an incoherent mess of ideas. That’s my opinion.

In one of my playthroughs, a glitch stopped me in my tracks. The camera froze just before the cutscene of the 2nd boss but I could continue playing the game. Blindly. The glitch stopped me from pausing the game too. I tried to replicate it several times, but I can’t tell what caused it.

Thanks to this glitch, I learned that you can use your attacks during those scripted cutscenes. This was so nostalgic to me since you could do that in the old Tomb Raider games too.

I want to mention one other thing about the 2nd boss too. Dress his arena a bit more. In the scripted cutscene, you show us walking to him while he is sitting on a stage in a theatre. But, when the fight starts, it almost looks like you are in an ordinary room.

If I may give a final suggestion before I go to my conclusion, I think there is a missed opportunity in the game. I think it would be a good idea if you put “Demo / Alpha version” somewhere in the main menu or as a message when you start the game. Since otherwise, people might think that this is going to reflect on the full version and that might put off potential players.

My conclusion for this game is a simple one to make. I think the developers Team Noir are working on something interesting here. The game looks promising but lacks a lot of polish. The HUD doesn’t fit the atmosphere, the animation needs some work, the story needs a bit more depth… but the fundamentals are there.

I have played a lot of good and bad free games in my gaming life and this is getting so close to the good category. I honestly think they released the demo too soon. This game could have benefitted from more polish. I have played far worse games where the game bugs out or the controls lock up. That doesn’t happen in this game. Apart from one glitch I couldn’t reproduce or trigger for a second time, everything works in this game like it’s supposed to be.

The content of this demo promises an interesting game. Developing a game is hard and requires a lot of work and skill. Looking at this demo, it’s obvious that the skill is already there. It just needs some more work.

That’s everything I wanted to talk about in this game/demo. 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!

Top 10 Wii games I played until now – Part 1

wii_repairI’m planning to buy a Wii U next month. I have been delaying this purchase for too long. Another thing I have been delaying for too long is my article of my top 10 Wii games I ever played. Here is a bit of shocker. The Nintendo Wii is the first console I ever owned. Yes, I never owned a SNES or anything among those lines. I grew up on the Nintendo handhelds and various PC games. Now-a-days, I have a PS1 / 2, Wii and SNES. So, I can play some games I missed out upon. In any case, this list is my opinion and is based on the games I have played. I hope that the title made that clear enough. Feel free to make a comment with your favorite games on the Nintendo Wii. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article. 

 

#10: Pandora’s Tower

Pandoras_Tower_box_artworkThis is one of the latest games I have started playing on the Wii. But it’s one of the best action adventure games I have played in a long while.

It mostly reminded me of a mixture of the Castlevania, Zelda and Metroid games. It also blew me away that the story of this game went quite deep. I honestly felt that it didn’t feel at home on a family friendly console. I always pictured the Wii for games that the whole family could play, but I have been proven wrong by this game.

The writing is excellent. Which shouldn’t have surprised me to be honest. xSEED games worked on this title. After seeing their work on the Corpse Party series, Zero Escape series and this game… I have high expectations of this game. It’s not letting me down.

I got interested in playing this game after I googled for new Wii games to play. (It also gave me the idea for this article. So yeah.) I also learned that recently this game has been re-released on the Wii U eShop. This is a big reason for you guys to go to your Wii U and give this game a shot. I have only played the first hour of this game and I like it that much that it deserves a spot in my top 10 Wii games.

If you like action & adventure games in the style of Zelda, Metroid and Castlevania this game is one that you don’t want to miss!

#9: Lost in Shadow

Lost_in_Shadow_box_art

This game is based on something every kid did. Playing with shadows. Your fingers were Mario (or Sonic, depending which fanbase you were at in the past) who jumped from object to object.

A company that I thought didn’t exist anymore made this game: Hudson. Sadly enough, this is one of their last titles before they went under almost a year later. It’s quite a shame to see since I would have loved to see more games of them. But hey, we were talking about this game right…?

In this game you play a shadow that got separated from it’s body. Your goal is to get your body back. This game is a platformer that could mess with your mind if you play it for the first time. Since most of the action is actually taking place in the background. In some occasions you can jump to the parts in front to solve puzzles.

Also, I like how each dialogue part, each tutorial and each save point makes your shadow heavier. I haven’t gotten far enough into the game to know if this makes a change or not when you beat the game.

#8: Kirby Epic Yarn

Kirby's_Epic_Yarn_Title

The spin-offs of Kirby are always very creative and set standards. This game even got a spiritual sequel under the name of Yoshi’s Woolly World. In this game, they got rid of Kirby’s signature ability to suck up enemies. Oh, this mechanic was introduced in the 2nd game. The one on the NES.

In this game, you have to mess around with the background in some places. Which makes for some rather unique puzzles.

At it’s core, this game is a platformer with some on rail shooter sections. These on rail shooter sections are the parts where Kirby turns into a firetruck or a spaceship.

As you would expect from your usual Kirby game, this one isn’t too challenging. Once you know what to do and where to go, it’s rather easy. The tricky part comes in the bonus challenges. I remember them to be rather hard.

The visual style is something different. I seriously enjoyed my time in the Yarn World. Truth to be told, with the mechanic where you couldn’t die, this Kirby game was the most relaxing game I have ever played. When I came home from a busy day at work or when I just needed to relax, this game got me to the right state of mind each and every time. Only the Zelda games get me to that state of mind, so this is that exception on the rule.

I’m curious if the Yoshi sequel will have the same effect on me. So, I have Yoshi’s Woolly World on my “To buy” list for sure.

#7: PokePark Wii 1 & 2

81U+M1yrPPL._SL1418_PokeparkWiiSo, this game is an adventure game with mini games mixed in. It was rather though for me to pick my favorite, so that’s why I decided to put them both on the 6th place. The first game set a fun standard for an interesting Pokemon spin-off game.

This game isn’t one of the best spin-offs. I can understand that this game is kind of “boring” for some people. The reason for that is that it’s repetitive. I’m one of the Pokémon fans who actually enjoyed this game. It was something different from the usual battling and collecting gym badges. I also have a weakness for games that try something different.

I have fond memories of the story of these games. It’s a story that underlines the power of friendship. Not once, but at least twice. The story made me smile many times.

The sequel came a little bit after Pokémon Black & White got released. And guess what, the main characters in those games are the Pokémon introduced in Pokémon Black & White. While I enjoyed the sequel more then the original… Like I said earlier, both games are equally as good. They are both worth it if your child or young relative is into Pokémon and has a Nintendo Wii. This is a perfect gift for the upcoming holidays!

#6: Metroid Other M

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The amount of hate this game received for some story mechanics…. Well, honestly, I see where it comes from. This game isn’t perfect, I can agree with that. But the gameplay is anything I wanted from a 3D Metroid game. It even has some 2D elements that work perfectly for this game.

I haven’t finished this game and I really should. I was first putt off by all the bashing this game got on the internet— Actually, let’s try to not bash this game and look at it from another angle. Is this game actually fun? Well, if you haven’t figured out the answer to that question… I wonder if you have read the title of this article. 🙂

This game actually proves that shooters can work on the Wii. I have tried the Call Of Duty games on the Wii, and believe me… I pick this game over those anytime of the day.

I’m not going to talk too much about this game since I’m planning to write a more indepth article of this game in the future. So, I’m saving up my opinion for when I write that article. For now, I’ll say to you guys and girls that this game is a mighty fine game to play and it would be a shame to overlook it. Be ready for some amazing battles and an interesting story. Yes, I liked the story in this game. I personally think it was written quite well.

Wrapping up

So, I think it’s time to wrap up this article. Next week I will talk about my top 5 Wii games. I’m quite sure that some titles will come as no surprise.

Truth to be told, this list was quite hard to put together. The main reason is that I haven’t played that many games on the Nintendo Wii. Consoles don’t interest me that much since I play more (3)DS games and PC games. But writing this article actually made me willing to play on my Wii again. And yes, this might mean that in the future, I might write more articles on Wii games.

It also has been a long time since I played most of these games on my list. I actually wrote the parts out of memory without looking anything up. Since I think that the power of your memory makes articles like these even better. If a game deserves a spot in your top 10, it should leave an impression on you that you won’t forget anytime soon. But if you think that made the quality of this article not that good, feel free to let me know.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to welcome you next week where I reveal my top 5 Wii games and my honorable mentions. Until then, and take care.. Oh, and game on of course~!

Update: Part 2 is here

My top 25 DS games of all time. (Part 3/3)

25 – 2019 – 10

Welcome to part 3!

#9:  Monster Tale

Monster_Tale_CoverartI didn’t know what this game was going to be about. I just bought it blindly. The cover was interesting enough to me to actually buy it. But was I taken by surprise. This game is all levels of awesome.

This game is a more kid-friendly version of the Castlevania series. The gameplay is nearly exactly the same. The only difference is that you have a pet monster that follows you. That monster, well, you need it to solve the various puzzles.

Something I’m really thankful for is that in this game you have an pointer to where you should go. But the game won’t punish you for trying to explore beyond the path you are supposed to go. Since you can find toys to train your monster.

There are various different forms of the monster which makes it pretty replayable. Now that I’m writing about this game, I feel like replaying it really soon. The memories are pretty great.

And also, the soundtrack is so good that it’s even on my SD for my mobile phone. I really enjoy listing to it. But a more in-depth look shall be for another time. In conclusion: this game comes highly recommend.

#8: Layton series – Favorite: Unwound Future

Professor_Layton_and_the_Unwound_Future

I simply can’t believe what LEVEL-5 has done with this series. They combined two of my favorite genres and made an awesome game series out of it. Professor Layton is an amazing series of puzzle and visual novel adventure games.

I love how there is always a debate on forums between fans of the Ace Attorney series and the Layton fans, since they are kind of similar. You play a detective by solving puzzles.

There are 6 games now in the series, 4 on the Nintendo DS. Out of them, my favorite is Unwound Future. The story is just the best out of the series. I think it’s one of the best. It’s the one I remember the most.

You can really see the evolution the series goes through. That’s why I advice people who want to play through this series to start with the first game. Because if you play the newer games first, you will get annoyed by some missing features like a notepad.

I still have to beat the last 3DS entry in the series, so I’m pretty curious how the series ends. But secretly I’m hoping that they continue the series with a new trilogy. Come on LEVEL-5, go for it!

#7: Castlevania series (Best: Portrait Of Ruin)

Portrait_of_Ruin

It will be a sin talking about Castlevania earlier in this list and not giving the series a well deserved spot in my top 25 list. Because these games have a lot of memories to me.

I started playing Portrait Of Ruin before I discovered Monster Tale. I was hooked in a matter of minutes. I loved the Metroidvania gameplay. Exploring a vast “open” world in a setting where mythological creatures are your enemies…

These games use enemies from mythologies and myths. Long time readers know this about me, I didn’t start as a game reviewer, I started as a hobby writer. Seeing stories used so powerful always puts a smile on my face. This is the best game when it comes to vampires.

I do warn you guys, this game can be quite hard. But the people who love to grind, this game won’t be a big letdown, because with a lot of grinding you will be able to finish these games without a lot of problems. But I’m not somebody who likes to grind. So, the challenge in this game is quite high for me. Even more enjoyable. Since the game’s controls are near pitch perfect!

#6: Pokémon series (Best: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of the Sky)

250px-MD_Sky_EN_boxart

This game got me to cry. Yes, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon hits my emotional spot each and every time. They are even continuing it on the 3DS. With some cuts and adds though.

The Pokémon series are one of the earliest gaming memories I have. Looking back, my mind is blown, how that as a young child, I was able to understand and (almost) beat a RPG. One with some depth.

On the surface, Pokémon looks to be made for children, but in reality, it can be quite deep and enjoyable to play.  I’m still working on beating the Black & White games, I’m currently about midway in Pokémon Black 2. But I think I might restart with the white version. Or delete my save file. The reason why, well, I lost my notes and I wanted to write an article about it.

Or I might not delete my save file and enjoy the game. Since it was also one of the first games I played on my Nintendo DS. Yeah. Memories.

#5:  Okamiden

Okamiden-title

So, I have written a first impression of the Wii game in the series, Okami. Wouldn’t it be a shame if one then didn’t like the DS version?

The DS version blew me off my socks in how it was able to port parts of a Wii game to the portable market. (No need for a new 3DS, more ranting on that … later this month)

This game takes place a few years after Okami ended. Now you play the son of the great Japanase sun god. The humor in this game is just excellent.

Best of all, you have more then one partner! Each partner has their own personality and character trades, which makes the game diverse and fun to play.

It was even able to touch me on an emotional level with it’s ending. Not all games can achieve that.

#4: Suikoden Tierkreis

suikoden_tierkreis

First Impression

If you are able to ignore the sometimes bad voice acting of this game, you get an amazing deep story of a group of teenagers fighting against a civilization that believes that the future is already known.

This RPG, I played it more then once. It might be a bit outdated by today’s standards, but it’s still amazingly fun. It even got me into the Suikoden series. I must play Suikoden II. I have heard so much about it.

A little fun fact, I nearly write the title wrong every time. I switch the “k” and the “d” so often. Before I published this article, I double checked if I didn’t make that mistake.

So, read my first impression if you want to know what I recommend this game. That will avoid me having to write an extremely long explanation in this article. Check it out, but forgive the voice acting. It isn’t all that good. It truly brings the game down.

#3: Ace Attorney series

Phoenix_Wright_-_Ace_Attorney_Coverart

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney review – First Impression: Ace Attorney – Miles Edgeworth – Investigations 2 (Fan Translation)

What can I say about this series? It moved me various times and I’m one big Ace Attorney fan. I even took a look to two 3DS titles. If it wasn’t clear already, look at how high on the list I place this series.

This game made me love visual novels. It was one of my first visual novels I ever played. As you might know, I started as a story writer. Seeing how strong stories can be in games, well… yeah… I have a hard time explaining this but I could feel the passion the writers have put into this series. You can feel those kind of things as a writer.

For every announcement of a new Ace Attorney game, I get quite hyped. I’m even going so far as playing a fan translation of a game that isn’t released in the west. Maybe I should write articles about the other games in the series in the future, maybe that might show my love more clear.

#2: 999: 9 Persons 9 Hours 9 Doors

999

So, why is this game so high on my list? If you read my review and saw the score I gave to it, I don’t have to explain myself any further.

In the previous entry I explained how Ace Attorney pulled me into the visual novel adventure genre. Everything that Ace Attorney did right and presented with a more humorous tone, 999 did with it’s grim yet enjoyable tone.

This game isn’t for the faint of hart. And I really mean what I say here. If you have a vivid imagination, this game might even scare you. It’s that well written.

I totally disagree with some complaints, that this game is too repetitive. To me, it’s not. But I can see where they are coming from.

I enjoyed this game so much, I even bought it on a trip to the USA. It never came to Europe. Yeah.

Honorable mentions

Before we take a look to number one, I must have my honorable mentions. A few slipped already into the article but I want to list the other games that didn’t make the list but where great to play through as well. Maybe in the future or if I ever do a (3)DS month again, you might see these games in articles. And various games, well, it was hard to leave them out. But I had to drop games.

Kirby games, Soul Bubbles, Bookworm, Giana Sisters, Lost In Blue series, Henry Hatsworth and the puzzling adventure, Dragon Quest 9, Super Monkey Ball, The Settlers, Age Of Mythology DS, Make 10, Lego Battles, Magical StarSign, Elebits, Dream Chronicles DS (PC version let’s play) and Contact.

It was pretty though ordering the top ten. But I think it’s quite clear which game series is going to be number one. So, yeah. Here we go I guess.

#1: Zelda series (Favorite: Phantom Hourglass)

The_Legend_of_Zelda_Phantom_Hourglass_Game_Cover

The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks review

So, who hasn’t seen this one…. miles coming? Yeah! The first game I played on the DS when I got it… It just stuck with me the most. If you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about, read my article about gaming nostalgia: my history of the DS and 3DS handhelds.

Oh, for this entry I also count the fun spin-off: Tingle – Rosy Rupeeland. That game is quite interesting. It’s like trying to play as Tingle.

But back to the subject, I was already a big Zelda fan before I bought the DS. My love only grew thanks to these games. It’s a shame that I haven’t written an article about Phantom Hourglass, but don’t you worry, it will be written eventually. Be warned, it will be filled with nostalgia.

I would like to know what your favorite Zelda game on the DS is. Since I’m sure that there will be debate over which game is the better game. Phantom Hourglass or Spirit Tracks. I’m really curious what you guys have to say. (Or girls for that matter)

Closing words

I hope that you guys enjoyed these 3 articles. I think it was an awesome way to close this month’s theme. So, if you aren’t following me on other social media, let me tell you here. I posted a whole list of articles I plan to do. I basically posted the possible scheduling for this year.

Anyways, enough about that. I’m not going to write a whole emotional part about how much I love the Nintendo DS. I think that’s clear enough. It’s my favorite handheld. Period. If you are able to look past the shovelware that some studios released, I think you can find a gem of a handheld.

But to further prove my point, read Lpgardian’s article why he thinks that the Nintendo DS is the best handheld. So, yeah. Feel free to leave a comment on this article what your best DS games are. And hopefully you guys can forgive me that I didn’t put big named games on this list.

So, I hope to see you soon. When my next article releases. Until then, take care!

Review #030: Legend Of A Ninja – A Shadow To Remember v1.5 (PC ~ Download) ~ Vapor Wills

Shad to Remember WebsiteOfficial website

So, this game will be my only exception on my theme of this month. Anyways, the developers of this game asked me to review their game. Before I start, I want to thank them for giving me this oppertunity. They praised me for my fair reviews. So, yeah. Let’s give this game a fair review. Also, feel free to leave a comment about what you think of this article and or the game. 

Bad omens

study-your-body

Before I start talking about the story, I want to talk about the menu. The option menu is a big disaster. Key rebindings don’t work and looking at the option menu, you get the impression that the game is controllable with a controller. I tried with my wireless XBOX360 controller, and it didn’t work.

The option menu is pretty confusing, and if people who aren’t very familiar with games like myself would try to work with this option menu, it’s just going to end bad. Terms like BGM (background music) and BGS (background sound) show up. Also, what’s up with the “reduce character flickering”? My final issue with the option menu is that when you launch this game in full screen, it doesn’t launch it in widescreen. So, prepare for black bars.

So, I want to start the actual game.  While I was creating the name of my character, I noticed that the background that is scrolling in the background is cut-off. You can clearly see when a new one starts. It takes you out of the experience.

 The person I mailed back and forth with said that the story is the most important aspect of the game. You play as a ninja who is about to meet a legendary ninja. Yet, as soon as you start talking, you have the impression that the guy is not what he appears to be.

The story is rather interesting, yet there are some flaws with it. There are some parts of dialogue that don’t sound very grammatically correct or have some flaws in them. Like words missing or plurals missing. Also, the writing isn’t really consistent. Some words sometimes appear in color, and sometimes they don’t. Also, at certain points it’s too consistent. Dear developer, if your character does something while he is talking, don’t write “*he looks at the door.*” Since, we already know that he is a he!

Also, the story has some holes in it. There are some inconsistencies in the writing. Another flaw of the writing is that all of the characters are forgettable. There isn’t much that is really memorable of this story. It’s just another ninja story. Because the developer used too many different terms, you don’t have time to emerge as a player.

RPG or adventure game?

punch-to-the-stomachSo, this game is marketed as a RPG. I know that the engine used limits the game. But I do feel like there could have been done a lot more then what I played. Why am I saying this? That’s because the RPG elements in this game are totally broken.

 The first enemies you encounter can easily kill you. But don’t worry, the game is programmed to be forgiving. So… you get your health restored like nothing happened? Sure. Okay, fine. That isn’t very broken isn’t it?

Oh, but I’m not done yet. The creator tried to make an interesting twist in the battling of enemies. After 3 rounds, the battle is over. If you win, you get XP and gold. If you loose, you get healed. Yes, you get healed. That’s way to forgiving.

Also, the amount of XP and gold you get is just laughable. When you level up, you aren’t able to defeat other monsters at all. If I counted how many battles I won compared to the amount I lost, I think there would be a 20 – 80 ratio. Yes, I lost more battles then I won them.

This makes me to believe that this game would be better if they dropped the whole RPG elements from the game. I honestly get the impression that they are just there to make the game be longer to beat. If only it was actually thought out, it wouldn’t be such a big issue.

Breaking the game

dangerous-mission

Sadly enough, I was able to “break” the game. What I mean by that is that I was able to make actions that stopped me from progressing. Yes, killing progress. If you kill either one of two characters, you can’t finish a side quest and you can’t finish the story. Meaning you have to grind and defeat the final boss. And this is pretty early in the game. Because you just left your own town.

There are some places where the triggers for some events are placed wrong. Like when you move up or down at the side of an area, you move to another area. It’s weird to explain but if you play it for yourself, you will understand what I mean.

I even had one time, in the northern woods, I was able to leave the map.  Speaking about the map, you aren’t allowed in some of the towns if you don’t have anything to be there for. “Port Town looks calm.” And you back away. Or “You need a guide to travel here” at the mountains. Such a real shame if the “dungeon” is easy enough to conquer in one try easily.

This game has more problems then what I have talked about in this article. The music is pretty interesting and there is quite a lot potential for this game to grow. But in the state it’s in now, it feels unfinished and broken. Weather without any sound effects, random encounters in towns? Yeah, those are two other issues.

In the summary I will briefly talk about the things I haven’t talked about yet in this review. But I have one question for the developers to think about. How are you going to give updates to your buyers? Are you going to mail them after you uploaded them to Amazon?

Conclusion

The good:

+ Turning the story of a writing into a game.

+ The music is quite nice.

+ The idea behind the game has quite a lot of potential.

+ You can choose different options that make each playthrough different.

The bad:

– Various grammar issues in the story.

– Generic design of the characters and enemies.

– RPG elements are broken.

–  You are able to get stuck with one action.

– …

Final thoughts:

Is this game worth it? Maybe, depends if you like homemade RPG’s. Is it worth the asking price? Honestly, I don’t think so. I played version v1.5 and I based my review on it.

I honestly think that this game misses a lot of polish. Something you can only achieve by play testing over and over again. Trying out very single thing that a player might do.

This game is one that has to grow. The website as well. The screenshots used in this review come from the website. That way I discovered that the website is running WordPress, and I know that you can do a lot more then what’s the current state of the site at the time of the review.

If the game gets an update and fixes some of the issues I have talked about, I surely would love to give it a go and write an update article on this. But the current state of the game is just a mess. There is so much potential here, but the negatives of the game are way worse then the positives.

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this. Thanks again to the developers to send me a review copy for reviewing this game. I’ll look forward to any future updates that might fix the game’s problems.

Score: 35/100

First Impressions: Castlevania – Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Shadow (3DS) ~ It’s Just Fun!

castlevaniamof

Wikipedia entry

So, my best wishes for the holidays. I have something special to announce. I got myself a wireless controller for my PC. That means that I can now play even more games than before. In addition to that, it’s the 50th article I publish on ButtonSmashers. Yes, 50th! And I’m nearing a big number on my personal blog as well. So, I’m extremely thrilled about that. But this is totally beside the point, I told you guys that I wouldn’t write any new article in 2013. I kinda lied. This is a new article, I guess. While I’m waiting for a download to finish to use my controller on, I played a bit of this game on my 3DS. It’s surprisingly better then I expected it in the first place. That’s why I decided to write an article about it. It would be lovely if you left a comment with your thoughts on this article and or on this game. So, let’s go. 

Story

castlevaniamofs.jpgIt’s going to be a shame to admit this but I know next to nothing about the story in the Castlevania series. It’s a shame really since I quite enjoy the Castlevania games. It’s actually Castlevania game I’m waiting on downloading on Steam.

The story, for as far I can understand, is pretty thrilling. The writing is pretty neat. I think it’s brilliantly written.

While I was thrown off at first by the presentation of the cutscenes, when I placed my 3D slider to the max I actually rather enjoyed the art style.

From what I have heard, this game will take place from different points of view. You don’t have to tell that to me twice to know that I’m going to play an excellent story. I have played multiple RPG’s from Konami and I was never let down by the story.

The voice acting. Wow. I mean, it just blows my mind how good it was. And actually still it. In the cutscenes, the voices add so much to the game. Yet, I’m under the impression that the game sometimes has a bit of a slowdown in the cutscenes with the 3D slider on. But that might just be me though.

“Mash”

castlevaniamo4Let me be clear on this, I hate button mashers with a passion. It broke the shoulder buttons of my original DS and I’m still kinda pissed about that. Yet, I’m glad that I learned my lesson and I don’t have to make other devices suffer the same fate.

ButtonSmashers don’t demand skill. In a sense they do, the skill to be able to tap a button very rapidly. While this game sometimes has it quick time events and it’s “mash the attack button” moments, I never really felt that they were a “mashing fest”.

Since when you aren’t careful, you’ll die. And in typical Castlevania style, the hearts don’t give back your health. You have to find fountains. And they aren’t close together. You have to react quickly and try to save your health.

In terms of controls, it’s acceptable. It’s one of the more weaker points in the game. While there is no “tutorial”, the controls are displayed briefly on the screen. So, experienced players won’t be annoyed by them.

While researching for the article, I came across an article on this game which called the combat one of the negatives. Well, here lies a problem. Since this game is a sequel to a 3D game, the combat is, of course, less bloody and such. I give them that, yet when you look at how this game works well in terms of combat as a 2D game, I think it can be excused.

Yet, something I didn’t welcome with open hands is the fact that when you die, you can get respawned in a boss fight with full health. Yeah, when you killed the boss halfway, you will respawn there.

Verdicts

castlevaniamof2Besides the weird respawning, there is something else that bothers me. The animation isn’t that great in my opinion. And before you write angry comments, let me explain.

The animation on the characters and such is great. Yet, we can’t really enjoy it that well since it’s a bit too zoomed out. It makes the game feel unfinished and that they use this technique to hide that.

While I already said that the controls aren’t the greatest, I have to talk a bit more about them. After you got used to them, they are pretty nice quality. The big issue is the fact that you need to get used to them. I wished that special powers could be done with a touch on the touchscreen.

The game is a good challenge. It isn’t too hard to be frustrating, but it isn’t too easy. This is a pureblood action adventure game. And the adventuring is really present. While you can easily see where to go next, exploring around gives you additional content. And more monsters to fight.

Defeated monsters give you XP. And when you level up, when you have enough XP of course, you unlock new moves. You can quickly check the moves list in your inventory so you have no excuse that you forgot the controls when you didn’t play the game for a while.

Also, Konami didn’t use any excuses in the art style. The game is pretty. Too bad that the game is a bit zoomed out. Otherwise, the art would have more detail in them and shined through a bit more.

I’ll probably go more in depth with my review but I’m liking this game so far. The music is also really nice. I like the soundtrack. Such a shame that no real good quality versions are uploaded to YouTube, so I could share it with you guys. In the sound department, this game is really well put together.

So in conclusion, this game would have been a lot better with some minor tweaks at the controls and a bit more zoomed in. But I think I’m going to leave it here. When I’m reaching that milestone on my personal blog, I’ll write a long special article. Thanks for reading and have a safe Christmas.