Tag Archives: simple

First Impression: GameR-Mate Stik (Hardware) ~ Take Your Ubuntu Everywhere.

FlashBayArtwork-GameR-Mate-Stik-Full

Official website

Today I want to talk about something that has been in the works for quite a while. Last year, the folks over at BlackRangerSoftware sent me an mail promoting their newest product called the GameR-Mate Stik v1.0.0. I was going to write an article about it back then, but the devs created an updated version right after I sent them my feedback. On top of that, the COVID-19 outbreak and shipping something from the USA to Europe delayed this article until now. Now, with that said, I think it’s high time to talk about this product. Know that the developer asked for my 100% honest opinion and that’s what you are going to read in this article. Now, let’s take a look at the first physical product I’m going to review on my blog. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on the product and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

What is GameR-Mate?

So, image this. An USB stick that you can plug into any computer that can run USB3.0 sticks and with that, you can play your games without affecting the computer itself. That’s GameR-Mate. The technical term for it is a Live-USB.

The latest version I received is running a modified version of Ubuntu 16.08. Now, what is Ubuntu? Let me tell you. So, to be able to run your computer, you need an operating system. An operating system is a sort of “translator”. It translates instructions from software to actual machine code. For example, when you make a new folder, the operating system gets that information from Windows or OSX and tells the hard drive: “Hey, make me a new folder on that location”. An operating system is much more than that, but for keeping this article simple, let’s not dive too much deeper into the inner working of computers.  

Now, the two biggest operating systems on the market are: Windows from Microsoft and OSX from Apple. Of course, you have Android from Google and iOS from Apple for smartphones. Let’s not forget ChromeOS for Chromebooks. And there is a special one as well. It’s called Linux.

Linux comes in a ton of flavors called “Distro’s”. Most of these distro’s are free to use and give you even more control of your computer than Windows and OSX. In the tech community, there are a lot of people who prefer using Linux to Windows or OSX. They enjoy the greater privacy control, ability to control every little thing about the system or just don’t want to pay for an operating system. There are many more reasons why people choose for Linux.

The userbase for Linux is rather small. According to NetMarketShare.com, the most used operating systems on the market are Windows (88,14%), Mac OSX (9,38%) and then Linux with (1,89%). Now, that’s mostly in the desktop and laptop space. Now, something quite “funny” happens when we look at the server side of things. Just take a look at datanyze.com with the comparisons between the usage of Windows Server and Ubuntu… Now, this is only just one website, but let me tell you from personal experience as an IT staff guy in a big school here in Belgium, we server techies prefer Linux distro’s for our servers in most cases over Windows server because it gives us more control over the system and is generally more lightweight so it uses less resources.

So, why am I putting so much effort into explaining Linux for this article? Especially in the section where I should be explaining what GameR-Mate actually is? Well, because Linux gives you the freedom to create very specific products without a lot of modifications. Just take a look at this list and you might be surprised on how much things run on Linux.

GameR-Mate is a special USB stick. So, you can boot to it and play your games and take it with you. The biggest limitation is that you need a “host” computer to be able to run it. So, if you don’t have a computer, you won’t be able to access your games. But that’s a limitation of each USB stick is it not?

What’s included?

Now, you can buy a GameR-Mate USB-stick right from Gamer-Mate.net. At the time of writing, the stick costs 70$ (discounted to 50$) which is give or take, 65 euro (45€ if it’s discounted). In order for you to be able to run your games, you need to have a computer that supports at least USB3.0. I have tested mine on older devices that don’t have an USB3.0 port and let me tell you, it wasn’t a fun time.

But, how do you know if your computer has USB3.0 ports? Well, in most cases these USB ports are blue. You can also double check that via the instructions in this article. So, after you placed your order, you get your GameR-Mate stick.

My stick arrived in a protective envelope that had the stick in a plastic bag stapled to a quick start guide. This quick start guide helps you to boot your computer to an USB stick instead of the actual operating system of your computer. Besides that, you get an user guide with explanation and some great information to get started using the stick. You also get a thank you letter from the CEO for buying the product. And finally you get a welcome letter as well.

I did get something additional, but that’s because I got a beta version of the product so I get some forms to fill in to give feedback on the product to create a better product. Personally, I think that they should include this with every purchase, even when the beta phase is over, you never know when it can come in handy.

The USB stick itself is made out of metal and plastic. It feels quite sturdy but you can remove the metal a bit too easily from the housing. Also, if you ever created USB sticks with your own print on them, you will recognize them right away. Maybe it’s a thing here in Belgium, but I got the same design of USB from various other places at events. I have the same model in yellow, green, blue and red. But, that’s nitpicking.

Something I missed with the USB-stick is a better way to store it. Now, I added an additional metal ring so I can attach it to a lanyard. I find that a bit more secure since during the research and testing I was doing for this article, my cat Troy knocked the USB stick underneath my desk while he was sleeping on my desk. Thanks to the lanyard, I was able to get it back from underneath my desk more easily. Now, adding a lanyard to the shipment might be too big of a cost, but adding a small metal ring to add it to your own lanyard would be lovely.

The experience

Depending on the hardware you run the stick on, the better performance you are going to get. Keep in mind that you need at least a port that can run USB3 sticks. In order to test this stick out, I tested this stick on my main machine. My main computer is running an i7-4820K, 16GB of DDR3 RAM at 666MHz and an MSI GTX 1050Ti. My motherboard is an ASROCK X79 Extreme 6. While this isn’t the strongest of systems out there, my computer is strong enough to run all the games I want to play at 30-60FPS at medium to high settings.

When you boot the stick, you can select various different modes. From what I can understand is that you can choose between loading it from the USB or load the system into RAM. There is also a recovery mode included. I had to use that once since an update failed to install and that corrupted my whole OS.

In the user guide, you get the advice to make frequent backups. If I had made a backup, I would have saved my first testing version from death. But yeah, I’m to blame since I thought I would be able to fix it since I used Linux various times during my studies and at work. But when you can even boot the OS, let alone go in recovery mode… Well, then you are quite screwed.

In a future article, I’ll take a look at the games that are included in this package. The list of pre-installed software is quite expansive. You can find the list at BlackRangerSoftware’s blog. Important footnote with this list, since this list is created during the development of the stick, it might be that some games aren’t included on the stick and/or on the list. But, I’m quite certain that the amount of games won’t change. Games that I could recommend are:

0AD, which is an open source RTS game like Age Of Empires

Alex 4, a lovely retro platformer in the style of an old Gameboy game.

B.A.L.L.Z, a platformer game where you are a ball and you need to use the bounce mechanics to your advantage.

Frogatto, this adventure platformer reminds me a lot of games like Shantae.

Sadly enough, there are some repeats. A lot of repeats actually. There are various Tetris-style, Pac-Man-style, Breakout-style… games. This gave me mixed feelings. At once hand, I love the choice I’m getting between all these various games. But at the other hand, I got the feeling that all of those games were just added to have a higher number of games to try and sell more sticks.

Is this GameR-Mate fun to use? If I have to answer that question, I’m going to have to add a disclaimer. There is going to be a learning curve if you have never worked with Linux. If you are used to Windows 10, there are a lot of things you will miss that you took for granted on your Windows machine. For example: seeing the password you are typing in, loading animations while settings are changing, double clicking a window to make it full screen, a place where all settings are combined into one place, a notification center…. It’s just not there in the Linux distro on the USB-stick. Now, do keep in mind that this can be updated and added in a future version of the stick.

But, you still have to learn a completely new operating system. While Linux has a lot of tutorials, due to the huge amount of different distro’s and differences between them, it can be quite overwhelming. So, give yourself some time and keep in mind that the system might work quite different compared to your Windows machine. Now, I do think that Apple users will have a better time adjusting to Linux since in a way, the user interface of Apple systems and Linux systems have various things in common. (Sidenote: while they have things in common, Apple OSX isn’t Linux and Linux isn’t OSX. But the flow in the OS can be similar.)

When you give this USB stick a chance, I think it might have the same effect on you then it has on me. I love to play around with unique ways to play games. I don’t mind honestly if the game is a retro or a current game. As long as I’m having fun while playing my games, it’s all that matters to me. So, I personally recommend this stick to people who love playing a ton of different games and/or people who travel a lot and aren’t able to take their main gaming rig with them. I think that the asking price is well worth it for the amount of value you are getting. Plus, you can always install more games from the various store fronts.

With that, I think I’m going to wrap up this first article on the GameR-Mate Stik. I want to thank BlackRangerSoftware for being so patient with me and also for giving me the opportunity to test out this product. 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 and I wish you a great rest of your day and take care!

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Game Quicky: Archaica- The Path Of Light (Switch) ~ Pointing Lazers

Archaica

Steam store pageNintendo.com pageOfficial websiteDrageus Games page

It’s no big secret that I love to play various types of games. From shooters to more relaxing games like Forager. Now, I enjoy playing casual games like the ones on Bigfishgames.com. So, when Drageus Games sent me a press release about Archaica and I saw it was based on one of the classic light and mirror puzzles you have to do in those games, it grabbed my attention right away. So, I took the press code I got and I started working on this first impression/review article of the game that will have 100% my own opinion. So, without further ado, let’s see how well Two Mammoths game got ported to the Nintendo Switch. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and/or opinions on the game and/or the content of this article. 

The good

Archiaca

The story in this game is pretty relaxed. The story is about you discovering the acient secrets of an old and long forgotten civilization. Yet, since this is a puzzle game and in most of the puzzle games the story can be a bit… mediocre, the developers focused more on the atmosphere and tying the puzzles into the lore.

This is something they did quite well. The story is being told through various hidden collectables and it’s a joy to play through a puzzle game that way. The only “ehrm” thing about it, is that it’s a bit ruined by the fact that there is no real “log” of the things you discover. So, if you want to read previous entries, you are out of luck.

Now, the gameplay is quite easy to understand. You have to place mirrors on the right location on the grid and get them in the right oriantion for them to bounce the light right into the crystals. The really responsive controls make this game easy to pick up and play.

While this game can be fun in short and longer play sessions, the thing that kept me going was the atmosphere. The lore building storytelling combined with the amazing visual presenation and animation, it’s really good for a first indie game project. Together with the mysterious Aztec-themed music, the sound design is pretty well done as well.

The difficulty of the game can be a bit frustrating, since it’s the answer is always a bit tricky, but the satisfaction of finally figuring out that level you were stuck on is such a great feeling.

The game autosaves your progress. It’s a joy, since it also saves the collectables you have found in uncompleted levels.

The bad

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So, I don’t know who is to blame here but on the official Drageus website, they claim that this game has an unique hint system and that it has dynamic boards.

I’m sorry but this is a bit of false advertising. Let me begin first about the “dynamic boards”. Since it’s a term that I didn’t find anywhere else, it’s a bit up for whatever we make of it. And that can cause some expectations that aren’t realistic like randomly generated puzzles.

But the publishers aren’t navite English speakers so I can forgive that to an extend. Something I can’t forgive and found quite dissapointing is the actual lack of a hint system. I’m sorry, but I was unable to find this “unique hint system”. Now, if they meant with “unique hint system” the fact that you get more explanation about a certain type of mirror when you find the three glowing pedestals hidden in the level, then I don’t call that a hint system but a tutorial.

Sadly enough, there are some other things I can’t let off the hook either. The menu UI, especially the method to return to a previous menu is a bit cluncky. You have to hold B to go to a previous menu. But, the annoying thing is that there is no indication of the game registering your input.

Also, the options menu is a bit unpolished. You don’t go to the top option when you scrolled down to the bottom, and the game doesn’t tell you that the options autosave when you exit. So imagne my surprise when my game was suddenly in a different language because I was looking at the different options for this review.

The option to replay the intro is just filler. I’m sorry but the intro is just a few seconds long and has just one textbox with a bit of the story.

So yeah, with that said, I think I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. Apart from my conclusion here. What is my actual conclusion? Let’s find out.

The conclusion

This game is a strange beast. While the game is really enjoyable to play and I had a lot of fun with it… There are some things that just ruin the experience to a degree. From the lack of a promised hint system to unpolished UI.

I’m under the impression that this game tried to be something it isn’t. It could have been so much more when the story was more fleshed out and you had some sort of log you could read previous entries. Or when you had a hint system and a reason to actually collect those shine glowing orbs.

I really wanted to like this game since the audiovisual design and the gameplay are excellent. Especially the audiovisual design is exceptionally well done for an indie title. But alas, it isn’t meant to be.

I can recommend this game to casual and hardcore fans of the puzzle genre. If the premise of lazor and mirror puzzles interests you, I think that this game might be worth your time but don’t expect the next Talos Principle from this game.

I might sound a bit harsh in my conclusion and I do have a reason for that. I find it such a shame that such a beautiful game is pulled down by such simple mistakes. This is something the developers can fix through patches and content updates. So, please. Just polish up the game a bit more and it can be a real gem. But for now, I think I’ll just enjoy my unpolished rough diamond.

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

Score: 60/100

First Impression: Questr (PC) ~ Smartphone Game

Questr Logo Official homepage

Earlier this year, I played a game on my phone that’s a sort of back and forth texting adventure. In this adventure, you guided a character to the end of the story. But, it didn’t take long before I uninstalled that app on my phone since the mini-games were rigged in my opinion to encourage microtransactions. I still believe that the concept might work really well. So, when I came across the Questr, I was happy to see the concept return in a bit of a different light. Full disclosure, in order to review this game, I got a review code for free from the developers. Don’t worry, you will only find my opinion on this article! So, let’s go questing! And as usual, 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.

Choosing your party – Tinder Style

20171218224722_1Your goal is to complete quests with a party you put together. Putting together a party is simple, you either swipe left or right. Just like on Tinder. Be careful though, each party member has his/her likes and dislikes. When you pair a house lion up with somebody who hates house lions, your party morale will go down. The lower your party morale, the more difficult completing your quest will be. There is one thing I would like to mention. The button to get new party people for 150 goal is broken. If you click on the card, nothing happens. Thankfully, clicking the heart button does the trick. Maybe something for the next patch?

Before I continue talking about the gameplay, I want to talk about the writing of this game. The writing in this game is pretty well done. It really captures the atmosphere of a group of adventures going on a quest. Expect, that all adventures have the attitude of the youth of today. The writing is full of charm, character and humor, it’s a joy to read and I always wonder how certain characters will react to certain situations.

During your quests, random events will happen. It’s up to you to choose who’s response is the best and will give you the best outcome. In most cases, you are unable to tell and it’s a guessing game. Sometimes this can be really frustrating since you know that another character had the right answer.

You lose party morale when you take the wrong decision and you gain party morale when you take the right decision. Party morale is extremely important since without it, your chances of survival and thereby the completion of the quest will get slim to nonexistent.

Tickets and contracts

20171218231008_1If you think that, that is the only gameplay in this game, you are wrong. At certain spots, the game will give you the option to start with a ticket or a contract. The ticket will only be valid for the current quest and the contract will be effective for the whole path. With these, you can challenge yourself even more and tempt faith even more.

So, when you put your party together and you didn’t get cat fished or rejected, you can start your quest. Together with great visuals. The game has a pretty clean and colorful look. Everything has this nice polished polygon look to it. Something that I didn’t like about the visuals are some events cards. Like the card for a monster and a person doesn’t show at all a person or a monster. This is a real shame since I really like the artwork of the characters.

The other problem I have with the visuals is that sometimes a tutorial bubble can go over some important information. This very rarely happens but when it does, it’s annoying.

The quests you embark on are rather short and sweet. Whenever you have to quit the game in the middle of a quest, beware. You will lose your progress of that quest. But, this brings me to a point the developers could improve about this game.

I think a more clear “continue” option would be nice. To continue you have to start a “new” (notice the bunny ears) game and select the quest you left off to load your game. Now, it’s clear which path you are playing, since it’s right above the path. But, a continue option would be nice.

A nice feature is that you can spend your gold you earn during your quests to upgrades. These upgrades range from better matches during the party gathering process to better bonuses. They are all worth to invest in.

Early Access

20171218234814_1Something pretty surprising is that there is a feature you can stream your game directly to Twitch from the options menu. While I haven’t tested this, I think this is very helpful for people who want to stream this game.

In the same options menu, you have a bug report button and a feedback form. This is a great feature to have in game, since this game is in early access. Now, don’t be alarmed, the developers are working on more content for this game and they are aiming to release it in the near future.

They are trying to release a new content patch in December, but the developers told me this might be pushed back a bit. I hope they are able to succeed and finish the new content patch without a lot of delays.

Now something I wish they updated as well in the new content patch is the addition of more music. So far, I  have heard only one music track in the game. While it not bad, I would love to hear more music in the game.

Speaking about the music, this brings me to the sound design. There aren’t many sound effects in the game, but the once which are, are pretty good and add to the atmosphere of the game. I think it would be more fun if some events have special sound effects. Like when the explosive scroll gets read, you actually hear an explosion. It would add just that bit of additional atmosphere.

Something I think the game lacks too is a back button. What I mean with this is, that when you are on a path and you want to continue a different path, it takes a click too many if you need to go to the options menu and then have a button “main menu” and then click on “Play Game”. It’s a bit too much clicking for a simple task.

That’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. While I haven’t talked about everything, I have left a few things for you to discover like how the gold system works, how the quests are chosen, steam achievements and other things. I really recommend this game to casual players who are looking for something different.

I’m so happy that this game exists. It really fills the hole left by that game that was ruined in my opinion by micro transactions I talked about in the introduction. Currently, this game is 15€ on Steam. I highly recommend that you give this game a try. I enjoyed my time with it. Also, the developers are really open and listen to your feedback. So, if you find a bug, typo or something… Report it. Have a suggestion, go to the Steam forums and suggest it.

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

Simple Android games you should try out.

AndroidWallpaper

I’m a big fan of the Android Market. I often find myself playing games I find on there. While waiting for the bus the other day, I played a few games on my tablet. The following games are games I won’t have enough to write about for a full review but games you should check out. But before we do that, I have a few questions where you guys can have some input on. First of all, it’s most likely possible that I’ll find more then the games I’m going to mention here. So this will maybe turn into a series. Which name should I give it? Does NekoJonez plays Android sound okay? Anyways, I’m also going to link these apps here so you can easily download them when you are reading my blog from your tablet or mobile phone. In addition to that, give me some feedback on the format I write for each game. If you want to know more about the game or things like that. Oh, my goal is that all games are 100% free too. Some might have in-game things you can buy or ads. Welp, lengthy intro is lengthy. Let’s dive in. 

2 Player Reactor

(This app contains adds)

2_player_reactor_for_android-474583-1318928025I’ll start the list of this article like the extremely bad NES game Action52 did, with the game that requires two players to enjoy.

In this simple game you have to be quick and precise. Your challenge will be always above your square, as well as your score.

You have to do simple tasks. Like guess the capital or check if the squares match each other.

When you tap on the correct moment, you’ll earn a point. When you tap on the wrong moment, you’ll loose a point. Self-explanatory. But there will be fun reactions, some you won’t expect.

You can go in minus, like you see in this screenshot.

This game has been translated in various languages, so you can enjoy this game in your native language. I played this game with my sister often in Dutch, since we Dutch people our brains don’t work in English THAT fast.

With various options and settings, you can leave modes out. Who has the most points at the end wins. There is also a “pro” version that supports 4 players.

I have one minor complaint with this game, and that’s on smaller screens, the text isn’t broken up to fit the screen.

Score: 4 / 5

Line Puzzle

unnamedAs simple as this game looks, as simple as you’ll get it. Made by DevSquare, this game has some amusing music.

In this game, your goal is that you have dots connect to other dots. The numbers represent how many dots you can use from that given square.

There are many puzzles, and some can get very big.

There is a “daily puzzle” which reminds me from the Professor Layton downloadable puzzles.

With the points you earn, you can buy hints, helpful for when you are stuck.

Some bad points are:

– The bad English translation. The option menu is a great example.

– They use the technical terms for music (BGM) and sound (SFX).

Score: 4 / 5

Card Game

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(This game contains Japanese)

To finish off this article, I would like to talk about another free game released by the guys of Beasty Bay.

In this game, your goal is to put the same number on your main card OR one of the same kind.

You have 3 “jokers”. The mascotte is a wild card, the monkey’ll change ALL cards that you can’t use and the lady’ll show you the card up next.

You can bet, with virtual coins. The more you bet, the more you can win. You need to have a chain of at least 17 cards to play a mini-game and earn your coins back.

You can choose to skip the mini-game and get your coins back or play the mini-game and win the double amount, or more, of coins back.

You can’t go broke in this game because when all your coins are up, you restart with a fresh 50 coins.

Each match is random.

This game might be in a Japanese interface, but it’s easy to find your way. After playing it for a little while, you can get easily the hang of it and enjoy playing.

The music is adorable too, like the graphics.

Score: 4,5 / 5 (A 5 if it was English)

Closure

So, that are 3 games that are free that I recommend. I will scout the market and come next article with more games. Also leave great recommendations here in the comments.

I hope you enjoy yourselves with these games and that you find some new studio’s or developers you can follow on the Android market. Have fun and I see you next blog entry.