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My Favorite Game Music #23 ~ Maybe with a jukebox?

music-gaming

More articles in this series

It has been quite some time since I wrote about my favorite music tracks in gaming. It has been a year since I talked about music. So, for those who don’t know how this series works, let me quickly explain it to you. My favorite music to listen to are the soundtracks of movies, games, shows… I have enjoyed. In this series, I talk about my favorite tracks or the tracks I love to listen too. Now, a rule in this series is that I’m only allowed to talk about one track per franchise per article. Otherwise, most of these articles might get filled with tracks from my favorite games. Also, I don’t include remixes in these articles; unless it’s special, then I only talk about game-related music or remixes. Now, this one is one about the original music. But, let’s stop stalling. Let’s get to talking about gaming music. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the selection and/or the music.

Forager (Switch) ~ Boss Fight

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Forager, a game that is the love child of HopFrog. When I discovered the story behind this game, I found that the developer a real inspiration.

Besides that, this game is quite an interesting one. The game is inspired by Terreria, Minecraft, The Legend of Zelda and Stardew Valley. At the moment, I’m playing the game on Nintendo Switch. I know that the Steam version is more complete, but yeah. I didn’t know that this game was a PC game at first.

I’ll talk about my opinion on this game in a future article but for now, I want to draw your attention to the existence of this game with linking you to one best track in the trance/dance/techno soundtrack of this game.

I really can’t wait to play the update that’s now in BETA on the PC. I hope it comes soon to the Switch version so I can play these new things. Since they are looking quite interesting.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Switch) ~ Gears of Fortune

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The Metroidvania games are back and how! Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is one just a joy to play. It’s also one of the next articles that I’m writing for my blog.

I know that I’m playing this game on the platform with the weakest visual performance, but honestly, I don’t really care. The game is still a blast to play.

Now, the music is addictive to listen too. It might be one of the best soundtracks I heard this year. The tunes really stick in your head and I was unable to really pick one of them for this article. So, I picked Gears of Fortune just because it’s the track I’m listening to most too during this week. There is no other reason. The soundtrack is really good and if you enjoy this track, you really should give the other tracks a listen.

The orchestral arrangements are just beautiful. The energy of the ruined town and a haunted castle are really well portrayed. You really feel like a warrior on the battlefield really to fight the enemy and try to save the world from destruction. But, can you do that before it’s too late? Well, I think I know which game I’ll be playing after this article is published.

Etrian Odyssey 5 (3DS) ~ Battle 2

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I have been playing so many good games this year. Etrian Odyssey 5 – Beyond the Myth is one of them. It’s sad to see that it’s the final Etrain Odyssey game in the franchise. But, the series had an amazing run for being such a niche game.
For those who don’t know what this game is about, it’s a hard as nails dungeon crawler where you have to draw and create your own map to boot. I have reviewed other games from the series in previous articles.

But, I seriously wish that the Switch wasn’t such a distraction to me since I really want to continue to play this game. This battle theme really gets me pumped to play some more Etrian Odyssey V. The music of this title is amazing as always, so yeah.

A Hat in Time (PC) ~ Nyakuza Metro DLC – Rush Hour

Hat In Time

Review

I haven’t played the DLC packs of A Hat in Time yet. I have played enough to unlock both sections, but I haven’t completed either of them.

Recently, I have been playing the game with my girlfriend in co-op mode and we are having so much fun. So much fun that I copied the whole soundtrack on her phone for her to enjoy. Too bad that her laptop isn’t powerful enough to run the game. Thankfully, she will be able to enjoy this game on the Nintendo Switch really soon.

Now, when I hear the amazing music in the DLC, I’m really pumped to start playing the DLC chapters. But now I’m in a bind, should I start playing them now or should I wait until me and my girlfriend get until that point? This is a tricky question. I think I should wait, so we can both experience the amazing music and new content that this game has to offer.

Pokémon Ranger – Guardian Signs (DS) ~ Rand’s House

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Most of the pieces in this article are great tracks that really get you pumped up to fight or go on a great adventure. This Pokémon track is the complete opposite. It’s more down to earth and relaxing.

Recently, I bought the three Pokémon Ranger games on my Wii U and I have been replaying them. While my favorite music to listen too is the more action-packed music like the four previous tracks, from time to time, I love tracks like these to wind down.

This track is played inside of the more important character’s house. It fits the atmosphere of the conversation really well and fits the mood perfectly. That really reminds me, I should review the two other Pokémon Ranger games shouldn’t I? I have reviewed the first game.

Closing off

And with that, I think it’s time to close off this article. I’m so glad that I wrote this article since it really helped me out. In the last update article, I talked about how I felt a bit burned out on writing and a bit idealess/inspiration less. Well, this article gave me a lot of ideas for future articles and reminded me of a lot of games that I still want to talk about.

With that said, I hope you enjoyed listing to these soundtracks and maybe found some new tracks to add to your playlist. Feel free to let me know in the comments which games also have amazing soundtracks. I would love to hear and play them.

Now, I think it’s high time for my usual closing of the article. Thank you for reading this article. 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!

Gamer’s Thoughts: The Meta Skill

I’m rarely able to beat a Pokémon game. Some bosses in RPG’s give me a lot of trouble. Battles in Europa Universalis 4 are extremely difficult for me. What is going on? I have been playing games for my whole life and I still have trouble with a lot of things in video games. Especially when it comes to the finer things in video games. The meta, the nitty and gritty of gaming. This article is mainly just a braindump of various things about metagaming. If you don’t really know what I’m talking about, this Wikipedia article and Urban Dictionary explains it quite well. Also, I’m curious, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion and/or your experiences. 

Git gud

So, do I need to git gud at playing games?  To be honest, I don’t think my gaming skills are lacking. I don’t mean to brag but I have beaten quite a lot of games.

I think that the biggest issue with my gaming skill is that I’m a jack of all trades. I have basic skills in almost every gaming genre due to my gaming collection but I haven’t specialized in any particular genre.

This lack of knowledge always comes back to bite me in the behind. For example, in Super Mario Odyssey, I’m unable to perform the Cappy Jump. Or, in Etrain Odyssey, my team build is either so unbalanced or too diverse. And when I encounter a powerful enemy, I always know that I’m in for either a restart or for a longer battle than usual.

The fact that a lot of people upload their gameplay onto YouTube or talk about various mad tricks on their blog is not helping. When I’m watching a gameplay video and somebody is performing a trick with ease that I’m unable to perform, I get jealous.

Now, certain things are quite difficult to explain as well. Take for example the combat in Europa Universalis 4. Whenever I’m a multiplayer match with MiseryLC, he is always talking about how he is building his army or which terrain he is using to fight the enemy. This gets extremely confusing to me extremely quickly.

An easier and more universal example is, try to explain how every jump works in a Mario game and how to perform it. It gets quite challenging to do that. I experienced this difficulty first hand when I was explaining how Lara Croft controls in the fan-made levels of the Level Editor. I had to rewrite that section at least 10 times before I was content with it.

Training

Let’s talk a bit more about one of the examples I gave in the introduction of this article. I haven’t been able to beat certain Pokémon games because my team isn’t diverse enough to beat the Elite Four easily.

I haven’t been able to beat the original Pokémon Red/Blue and Yellow, yet, I have been able to beat Pokémon Gold/Silver and Platinum, the sequels of that game. Granted, I abused the cloning glitch the first time, but the second and third time, I had beaten the game completely legit.

My issues with the meta gameplay come when my friends want to challenge me in a duel. Almost every time and also when I prepare myself on a duel, I get beaten. In various cases, I’m even unable to defeat one or two of their Pokémon.

This problem isn’t unique to Pokémon for me. There are several RPG games in my backlog where I’m just unable to progress due to me either having to grind or be unable to beat a certain boss. Take Atelier Rorona as an example, I haven’t been able to get any other ending because I rarely plan out my journey and I always have to race the clock to be able to meet the goal.

For this article, I sat down and thought about why I was having so much trouble with these kinds of mechanics. And I think I might have a reason. For of all, I have a lot of trouble remembering the weapons triangle. Let’s take Pokémon again as an example. The main battle mechanics are a rock/paper and scissor model. Rock beats scissors. Scissor beats paper and paper beats rock. But, there are more than three types of Pokémon. Take a look at this type chart from Reddit user u/ar-gee.

Now, this chart is quite handy. But then game throws an additional wrench in the works. The fact that some Pokémon has more than one type. This makes this chart even more complicated. And let’s not get started about the strength of certain moves and the special stats.

Whenever you level up in an RPG, you see a ton of stats rise of your characters. More often than not, I rarely pay attention to them. When I’m buying gear for my characters, I always make sure that the previous gear is stronger than their current gear. In turn-based RPG’s, this isn’t such a big issue. But in real-time strategy games like Rise of Nations, that’s where things get even more tricky.

During a match in any real-time strategy game, I always create a random army. A handful of soldiers, some cavalry and some archers. Rarely I know which balance to maintain. When my enemy attacks, I always send in my whole army. Instead of trying to think which units are the most effective to use.

Now, knowing the mechanics is one thing. Being able to train them is another thing. How do you train yourself in building a better Pokémon team or upgrading the right stats in an RPG? Or having a better army balance in a real-time strategy game. Barely any game gives you feedback where the weaknesses and/or strengths are in your team. Maybe one day…

Do you need to know?

I could keep giving example after example. But, do I need to know the meta mechanics of a game in order for me to enjoy it? Well, that really depends on one thing for me. If I’m able to enjoy myself and continue in the game.

I barely know anything about the meta gameplay of the Pokémon games yet, I’m able to beat certain mainline Pokémon RPG games. While I don’t have the strongest or the best team in the game, I’m able to finish the game.

On the other hand, you have to Remember Me. In this game, the combat is rather rhythmic and you have to perform a lot of button combos for the stronger attacks. Now, if there is one thing I’m not that good at, it’s keeping a rhythm. There is one boss I need to defeat in Remember Me, but because I’m always unable to preform the button prompts in time, I always lose. And yes, I have rage quit the game.

Of course, the meta is quite important. There are certain games where I’m even able to abuse the meta. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine on the PC is one example. I know how to abuse certain mechanics to reach certain places that can’t be reached by certain means. Just take a look at the speedruns of the game to get an understanding of what I mean with how broken the roll and the chalk is in this game. If only I was able to perform these tricks with greater ease, I would compete in this speedrun category.

The obvious importance of the meta in games is for the people who play online and/or in a competition. I don’t think I have to explain that. Maybe that’s another reason for me. I barely play online or in a competition. It just doesn’t interest me that much. I prefer to play games on a casual level, in my own time.

Before I continue to ramble on about this topic, I think it’s time to finish this article. I might return on this topic but I would like to know what you, the readers think. If I revisit this topic, what do you want me to talk about? Am I alone with these “issues” or are there other people? Do you need to “git gud”?

With that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this subject for now. 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.

Award Time – Thanks LaterLevels

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Today I got another blog award from LaterLevels. One of those awards that bloggers give each other to recognize each other for their work. If you want to read the article yourself to get more information, you should take a look at Kim’s post. This award is inspired by Michelle from A Geek Girl’s Guide. So, let’s get into answering some questions. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your answers and/or opinions on the article down below. 

Thanks, time

But before I reply to the questions, I have to thank Kim from LaterLevels of course for the recognition. She is a very kind-hearted blogger who I look up to very much. Her content sometimes inspires mine. She is a great person and you really should check out her work on the LaterLevels website.

So the way that this award works is that Michelle has five standard questions everybody needs to answer and 5 questions need to be made up.

Question time

Why did you start your blog?

Well, I have told this story many times before on my blog. The TL;DR is, since childhood I have been into writing. While I have a rather small family, we do have a TON of family friends. And to avoid me telling the same story a million times at family gatherings, I have decided to write them and publish them. Not too long after, I started writing game reviews and that’s how the ball got rolling.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

My favorite articles to write are articles about indie games I have played. The ones I enjoy the most are the ones where the developer asks me for feedback and improvements. I just love helping small developers who have a small budget anyways, so some help in QA is welcome for them.

What have you learned since you started your blog?

This is a tricky question. I have been blogging for close to … yes, 10 years. So, to be able to pinpoint something specific that I learned about due to blogging. I think I mostly found my niche and expanded my skills.

If I have to say something, I think I fine-tuned my writing and reviewing style. If you compare my current writing and style to my earlier writing, you will see a world of difference.

What do you love about being a geeky blog?

Simple, I love geeky things… so being able to write about geeky things is just amazing.

Where would you like to see your blog go in the future?

Actually, if I could dream, I would love to have some side income with my blog in the future. But I still want it to stay a hobby. In an earlier article, I have talked about how I’m afraid that if I would be blogging as a job, I would burn out. And burning out on one of my passions… No, thank you.

And now, LaterLevels has some questions for us.

How would you describe yourself if you could only use gaming terms?

I’m going to be sort of cheating here but I’m an INFJ or the advocate personality. And yes, these are gaming terms. D&D terms actually.

Who would be the worst video game character to be stuck in a lift with?

Zero III, just play Virtue’s Last Reward and you will get it.

If a game based on your life was made, what would be the genre and title?

Well, an adventure/action RPG. Mostly adventure RPG. The things that happen in my life are quite special.

Currently, I’m in the wordsmith and merchant class. I have a lot of points in the tech skill.

Which three video game items would you take into the zombie apocalypse?

A ton of revives, Lara Croft’s classic pistols (those with unlimited ammo) and one of those fancy luxurious airships from the game you image.

Which gaming character should we elect as our next prime minister and why?

Booker Dewitt, and telling why would spoil Bioshock Infinite. So, yeaaaaahhhhh…

Questions

So, before I list the people who I like to nominate, I have five questions of my own. So, are you ready? Here we go.

  • If your life has a soundtrack, which genre would it be?
  • You are a parent of a video game character, who would you pick as your child and why?
  • Which video game character you don’t want to meet in a mental asylum?
  • Would you rather go to Silent Hill or Raccoon City?
  • If real life had video game cheats, which ONE cheat would you like to have and why?

So now, who are my vic— fellow bloggers I nominate for an easy Q and A— I mean an award.

So, with that said, I’m looking forward to the replies. Thank you to LaterLevels for the nomination. And tomorrow, I’ll publish another article and that will be about a game. But for now, 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 and until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

 

Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

downloadToday I want to talk about something extremely objective subjective. Something not a lot of people agrees on. That subject is the difficulty in games. This isn’t unique to video gaming since other entertainment mediums can be difficult to understand, analyze or appreciate. But, the difficulty is one of the most important factors in gaming. In order to write this article, I have asked in various groups what their opinions about game difficulty are. Are games today too easy? Are difficult games fun to play? Are old school games too difficult? I got some extremely interesting replies. Now, if you have your own opinion on this subject, I would love to talk about it in the comment section down below. Of course, keep it civil down there, everybody has a different opinion.

My own views on game difficulty.

Keep in mind that the following thoughts and opinions are mine. It’s quite possible that you think in a different way due to your different experiences in gaming and/or life. Like I said in the introduction of this article, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions on the content of this article and or the subject. With that out of the way, on with the show.

Now, with such a broad subject as game difficulty, it’s quite tricky to give a full opinion. In the introduction alone, I gave a few different angles I could take this article. In addition to that, this subject is extremely subjective. For example, I’m not rhythmic at all. When I talk about the DS, a lot of people talk about games like Elite Beat Agents, a rhythm game. I have to admit that I find this game too difficult.

pokemon goFirst of all, let’s talk about a sentence you often hear us older players say: “Games today are too easy.” Are they really too easy? Well, they became easier in one way but more challenging too. For example, take the Pokémon games. When Game Freak remade the 3rd generation on Nintendo 3DS, one of the biggest complaints was that the game was too easy. And yes, I finished the game without losing 3 battles during the whole playthrough and 2 of these loses were because I wasn’t paying attention during the battle and forgot to heal my Pokémon and the other loss was because I forgot that grass was weak to flying and I most had grass Pokémon in a flying gym. Whoops.

photoNow, why do I think that games can be too easy nowadays? That’s has two reasons. The first reason is that games just got more accessible. Because of the growth of the hobby, a lot more people play video games. So, there need to be ways for every style of player to play video games, even the youngest ones. Thankfully, you have difficulty options that can provide the other players with some additional challenges. Sadly enough, not all games do this. In most games, the difficulty settings have a small explanation of what each level means.

And this brings me to the second reason why games are too easy nowadays and that’s a skill. I have been playing games since I was a young lad. I started playing games give or take 21 years ago. During these years, I have played a TON of games and got a TON of different experiences. That means I have seen quite a lot and the chances of a puzzle stumping me or a fight being too difficult to get slimmer with every game I play.

Is this a bad thing? It depends on what you are looking for in a game. Do you want a game that challenges your strategizing skills or the ability to solve puzzles than the lower difficulty can be a problem? If you are looking for a game to play to pass the time, in that case, the drop in difficulty shouldn’t matter that much.

resident evil 4It’s always a difficult balancing act in how difficult you make your game. Since if a game is too difficult, people will stop playing. A great example for me is Resident Evil 4. There is a section in that game where during an already hectic fight, two chainsaw enemies spawn that kill you instantly when they come to close. There were three times that one of those enemies actually spawned right behind me, giving me no time nor room to turn around and defend myself. These moments I actually rage quitted the game. Another example is Atelier Rorona. The amount of depth in this game is just insane. You have to think about so many things like the freshness of ingredients, how long it takes to collect them and get them home, the amount of MP you have to fight and or craft… It was quite challenging to balance all of these things.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedThat brings me to the question, what makes a game difficult and how difficult should a game be? It speaks for itself that how more layers of gameplay and mechanics you add, the more difficult a game becomes. Take Europa Universalis 4 for example. In this grand strategy game, there are so many mechanics; it’s not even funny anymore. The complexity of a game can turn some people off. I would love to play Europe Universalis 4 with more people but most of my friends don’t understand how the game works or get too scared when they hear how many things they need to think about while playing the game.

In a way, the difficulty of a game can limit your audience. I would love to play a game like Cuphead, but from what I have seen and tried, the game is a bit too much for me. I don’t really like games that depend on memorization or trying over and over again. This makes the game boring and repetitive in my eyes. For me personally, I want to have a great time while I’m playing games. I want some parts to be challenging and test the skills I learned during the game and I want some sections to be easy to play through so I can relax and enjoy the game.

SI_NDS_NewSuperMarioBrosDS_image1600wA game series that nailed difficulty, in my opinion, is the Super Mario World games. In these games, you learn by playing the game. You might have heard this explanation in various other videos or articles but if you haven’t heard it yet, allow me to explain. At the start of the level, you are able to experiment with a new level mechanic in a safe area. One where you can easily avoid the enemies and you don’t have death pits. And the further you go in the level, the more challenging the mechanic or level gimmick becomes. And during the later and last stages of the game, all the challenges are combined into one big final set of levels that test your skills and what you learned through the game. In a way, you can compare it to school. The early levels and sections are the classes while the later levels and finale of the game are the final test/exam.

Now, should games become “NES-hard” again? To be honest, I think we shouldn’t do that. In the current gaming climate, we get a lot of games inspired by the more challenging nature of older games and we also get easier games. That means we have options. Now, we’re all old school games difficult? Were games more challenging in the past? Well, that’s a tricky question to answer.

Tomb Raider LegendFor example, I grew up with the original Tomb Raider games. When I play these games today, I don’t have a lot of trouble with jumping from platform to platform. Of course, due to the limitations of the systems at the time, it wasn’t always clear to which ledge you should jump and how you should make that jump. In more recent games, a better visual presentation helps out with that problem a lot. This “issue” became clear when I did the Tomb Raider project. Some people in that collaboration had never played an old school Tomb Raider game and gave it a try for the first time. And because they were more used to the newer style of the series or the newer style of play in more modern games, they had trouble during the game.

Something I often got during my search for writers in the Tomb Raider project was: “Also the old Tomb Raider games that aged poorly?” or something similar. I completely agree that the original Tomb Raider games aged poorly. The newer Tomb Raider games, and not per se the more modern games, play better because the developers improved their craft and learned a lot from developing the previous entries in the series.

I don’t find all retro-inspired games that difficult. I was able to beat some without much trouble like Blossom Tales or Retro Game Challenge. While I did had some trouble in Shovel Knight because I haven’t played a lot of games similar to that.

When I was researching and brainstorming for this article, I came to the conclusion that there are 4 types of difficulty in my eyes.

The first type is the intended difficulty. This is planned by the developers to challenge you during the game. Think about a Zelda dungeon where you get a new item in a dungeon and you have to learn to use it or remember the places where you were unable to progress and needed to use the item.

The second type is an unintended difficulty. This was an unplanned difficulty due to bugs, randomness (like RNG or random generation) or just plain bad game design. Or it can be because of things like certain mechanics. For example, a lot of people complained when Super Mario 64 DS came out. While it’s a good remake, the controls weren’t loved by various reviews because the original game was designed with a joystick in mind while the DS didn’t have a joystick.

The first two types can be mixed with the other two types.

The third type is a fair difficulty. With this I mean, the game provides you with a challenging and rewarding experience. Like, you finally figured out how to beat that one puzzle or beat that one boss.

The fourth type of difficulty is, you guessed it, unfair difficulty. Now, this can be because of bad and or lazy game design but this can also be a huge spike in difficulty. A great example is Suikoden Tierkreis for me. Overall, the game is somewhat easy. If you don’t skip too many battles and pay attention to what you are doing, the game isn’t all too challenging. I rarely to never saw the game over screen. Until I came to the final boss. This annoying battle gets such a difficulty spike that made me not fully finish the game and actually look up the ending online. Now, while writing this article, I actually restarted playing the game and I’m hell-bent in finally beating the game this time.

The more difficulty of type 2 and 4 you have, the worse it becomes for your game. One time a developer asked me to review an Android game. In this game, you had to feed various foods to some customers. The issue was, all of the dishes were based on Asian dishes and I’m European. I barely know anything about Asian cuisine. The unfair difficulty in this game is that almost nothing was explained in the game about the foods themselves. So, I was unable to figure out which food was what, so it became a guessing game.

Another example of unfair difficulty is more recent. A developer asked me to review a Switch game they just released. The game is a twin-stick shooter and in the shooting tutorial, there were two spawners in the room that spawned so many enemies so quickly, it became overwhelming. You shouldn’t put so many enemies in the first level of your game while the player is still learning the basic mechanics of the game. That’s unfair.

headerDoes a game like Dark Souls have unfair difficulty? Well no, the game is quite balanced in my opinion. There is a lot of risk and reward gameplay, the punishment is just a bit too harsh in my opinion. But the game becomes beatable when you learn the finer details of the game and get used to the inner workings of the game.

The line and difference between the four types are really thin and make it still personal. Speaking of personal, some people talk proudly when they were able to beat a certain game on the highest difficulty. While that is impressive, you shouldn’t look down upon people having trouble on the lower difficulties. While my gaming buddy MiseryLC can beat the AI in Europe Universalis IV on hard, I feel that the normal difficulty provides just enough challenge for me.

I think it would be a great development if all games have difficulty sliders. The more you can adjust the difficulty, the better. Something I really loved in the Etrian Odyssey series is that you can change the difficulty setting when you are in the town without any other punishments. This is great because when I was unable to beat a certain boss and almost stopped playing, I was able to lower the difficulty a bit so I was able to beat the boss and move on. After I had beaten the boss, I set the difficulty back on normal. This is a perfect system since people can choose how easy or hard you want the game to be.

Now, I have said quite a lot about the topic now. To avoid this article becoming a bit too long or having too much rambling, I think it’s time to let some of my friends talk. I want to thank everybody for their input since they helped me quite a lot while putting my thoughts together for this article.

How others think about difficulty.

Now, I asked around on various groups on Discord and Facebook on their opinions on game difficulty. Here is what they have to say. Note, some quotes I translated from Dutch to English. Some quotes had minor edits since sometimes contained an answer to another topic in the conversation or something in those lines.

The following quotes come from a Facebook group where Belgian retro game collectors gather.

Ward: “Some games are pretty challenging due to their difficulty like Slain and Cuphead. But other games hold your hand, but that doesn’t always take away from the fun of the game. It really depends on the game and how enjoyable the story is.”

Hakim: “Sometimes a too difficult game can be really frustrating. And out of this frustration, the game can go on my shelves to be never played again.”

Kenny: “Personally, I think that the player should have a choice how difficult the game should be. Some games I play personally for the story and not for an extreme challenge.”

Mayu: “For me, a game can never be too difficult. I’ll play until the end as long as the difficulty, challenge, story and such are fun. It already happened that I was disappointed when I bought a new game and I finished it without issue. The solution for this is lately, collection or completion rewards. Some of them are really letdowns. In the past, gaming was a very niche hobby. When a game was too difficult, you just had to try and try again. But, now that gaming isn’t a niche hobby anymore, the difficult games don’t sell that well anymore. And with companies trying to make as much profit as possible…”

Koen: “Making a game extremely difficult is no issue for me. As long as all the elements of the game are fun, it doesn’t matter to me. I really enjoy the rewarding feeling of finally being able to beat a game at the highest difficult setting after trying on it for weeks and seeing the real/true ending. But, when the story is garbage and I have to replay the game on a harder difficulty setting, I won’t be spending my time on a new playthrough.”

Niels: “As long as a game stays fair, it’s worth my time. Nowadays, there are a lot of games that are too easy for everybody to play. From endless tutorial sections to special power-ups when you die a lot and sometimes even a skip button, these are just a few things that you find more and more in modern games. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as they are optional or are disabled by higher difficulty settings. Something I really want to stress, a game that is too difficult thanks to bad enemy placement, terrible controls or bad decisions is a bad game.”

Xavier: “I prefer easier games. There are a lot of games that are quite enjoyable to play. It doesn’t matter to me if games are shorter, I usually buy them at a lower price after they have been released for a while. It’s better then having to play a game where you have to retry a section 20 times to finish it.”

Dennis: “I usually start a game on normal mode. Depending on my experience, I raise or lower the difficulty. So, this means that I play some games on easy, some on normal and some on the hardest difficulty. I don’t really enjoy games where you respawn a thousand times before you can continue and especially when you have the same issue 10 minutes later in the next section. If I enjoyed the game enough, I might replay it on a higher difficulty setting. Most of the games interest me for somewhere between 10 to 20 hours. But, this is absolutely not the case for me with Final Fantasy games.”

The following opinions are from fellow bloggers or friends in the blogging world.

Aiphafemaie: “A couple thoughts – I think games felt more difficult in the past because you had to rely more on yourself to figure out how to pass levels or quests. Or printing out walkthroughs from GameFaqs.com lmao.  Now when you’re stuck, you can just to YouTube and see how it’s done. I don’t think games were more difficult in the past, but “difficult” is a subjective word.  Today’s games do have varying difficulty modes, in comparison to the past. Before most games could only be played on default.”

TwoTall4uFool: “I think there was a lot of trial and error with games back in the 80’s and 90’s. Even in the 2000’s. Aiphafemaie you bring up a great point about GameFaqs but there are some games out there that I would’ve never beaten if it wasn’t for Game Genie/Gameshark. Today in games you have tutorials and of course there is YouTube. And even with plug and plays such as the SNES Classic you can rewind and try a part again if you fail. And plus suspend you point. So emulating older games have made them easier ….. sort of.”

ReaperInteractive: “I agree with @aiphafemaie . Games in the past had no clear instructions or clear, “Go here to pass to the next level.” Games nowadays are a lot more direct and I feel that developers intentianally make these instructions extremely clear as to make the game as playable and prevent people from giving up midway. A little more on the note. There have been games where the instructions were so unclear that I literally had no clue what to do and ended up giving up. Another reason I feel that games nowadays are a lot easier is because we’ve played the same basic mechanic over and over again as to games in the past, there were hundreds of different mechanics. Most games nowadays can be grouped into a couple dozen genres with the same mechanic and controls. Contrary to this, I feel that games in the past are composed of hundreds of different genres, some completely new to the people hence why I feel that why games in the past are a tad more difficult than those of our age.”

The Well Red Mage: “I think that games can still pretty hard now, some of them, but there are new varieties of games now. There are brutal platformers as a subgenre now that are built on difficulty, but then there are also walking simulators and interactive movies now that eschew difficulty almost entirely. I think some would say that the difficulty of retro games was such that it was unfair, but I think that the lives systems and the memorization of patterns (two very retro-centric ideas of difficulty) are perfectly valid; we maybe just don’t have the toleration for them that we used to. Those games were still demanding something of the player (memory or timing). So I think this is a conversation that benefits from specifics like specific games and specific features in those games that bring difficulty into the equation (memorization, level design, limited options or limited chances to complete a challenge, longer periods without save features, increasing speed, item management, enemy AI… all those things are specific features that games then and now used and use to create difficulty).”

The Badly Backlogged Mage/MrBacklog: “I think the obvious-but-unhelpful answer is “as difficult as they need to be to convey the desired experience”. Dark Souls, the Walking Dead and Mario Party are all different in terms of difficulty because they’re going for different experiences.”

OverThinkerY: “I think there are different ways of adding difficulty – Backlogged makes a good point about those games being difficult in different ways as part of the experience. There’s perhaps the most classic sort of difficulty, which is reacting and executing the right series of inputs quickly enough to proceed, and then there are things more dependent on memory, ingenuity, or sheer emotional fortitude. I think there are more examples these days of different sorts of difficulty other than simply pressing buttons accurately, which might be down to better tech or just natural progression, but it enables different kinds of experiences to be made effective in that way.”

Mail Order Ninja Mage/Daniel Flatt: “Difficulty is the hardest thing to get right in video games. If you push back too hard you lose all but your most dedicated player, if you don’t present any challenge then moderately skilled players become bored. Like everyone said above it is drastically different depending on the game and furthermore the individual playing.

That being said games aren’t necessarily easier than they were before, but they have become better at not wasting our time. Games previously were artificially hard, first because checkpoints and saves weren’t a thing, and then because many NES games are a handful of hours long without constantly starting over. They had to have that difficulty to make the game worth it, can’t have Billy coming to you after an hour and asking for a new game. I dare anyone to play B side levels of Celeste and say games are easier, but the difference is you don’t have to play through the same 30 minutes over and over to finally get through something and die 20 seconds later to start all over.

The best games have difficulty determined by the player, Nintendo excels at this, but one of the best examples is Ori. It has a function where you basically create your own checkpoints or don’t, depending on your preference. It could be brutally hard, but if I get to try again right away for a certain section it wasn’t wasting my time making me play the same section a hundred times.”

Now, as you can read, the opinions are extremely diverse when it comes to difficulty. This brainstorm was extremely interesting to do. I honestly think that I’ll return to this topic in the future. Before I close this article, I want to point you to an article created by Rob “I Played The Game” Covell that he wrote in 2017 about the same subject. “A Difficult Conversation”.

Closing off

Like I said in the previous paragraph, the conversation of how difficult a game could be or if games are too easy nowadays gets quite diverse opinions. While this topic could be discussed for hours and the opinions will go in various directions, I think I’ll close off this article here. I’m quite curious about what everybody thinks. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic at a later date.

If you have written or talked about this subject in the past or know a great resource like another article or video, feel free to send me a message with the link. Maybe I’ll include it in the next article. And with that said, I think I’ll really end off this article. Thank you, everybody, for helping me put this article together. It was a blast. 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.

Review: Atelier Rorona -The Alchemist of Arland- DX (Switch) ~ Crafting The Adventure With Alchemy.

atelier-rorona-featureWikipedia page

On my top 10 games list of 2018, I talked about Atelier Rorona. I talked about how this game got me interested in playing the Atelier series. Now, it’s time to give my full opinion on the game. Why did I place this game on my top ten list and why wasn’t it higher on the list? I think it’s time to talk about crafting and exploring. Adventuring and RPG’ing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Get off your lazy bum

atelier rorona screen 1The story of this game has a simple premise. You play as Rorona, a young girl who is an apprentice at a local alchemy shop in the Arland Kingdom. Her master Astrid is so lazy that business isn’t going well at all. As a matter of fact, she didn’t get off her lazy bum for so long, the kingdom is considering to close down the shop. Rorona doesn’t want this to happen so she takes on the challenges provided by the kingdom. She gets a deadline of three years. During these three years, she has to prove that she can run the alchemy shop and make a profit. If she fails one of these challenges, the shop will be closed without any further questions.

On the surface, the story of this game isn’t anything special. It’s one that has been done various times before. Yet, the story actually changes a lot in your actions. It depends on who you take with you on your journey, how good you craft your items, how you interact with the characters and how you run your alchemy shop. The one that lazy Astrid sort of gave to you because she wanted more sleep but didn’t want the shop to be closed.

This makes the story quite a lot of fun to play through. Because each and every playthrough is going to be different, you will have a different story. This game has various endings that all depend on how good you did during your missions provided by the kingdom. When I had beaten the game for the first time, I got a very generic ending that didn’t give the closure I felt that the story deserved. Because of that, I feel motivated to replay this game with so I can get an even better ending.

The writing of this game makes replaying this game even more enjoyable. While I was playing this game, I posted a short clip on my Twitter showing off the voice acting. The game has a lot of funny and charming moments. I actually fell in love with the characters of this game. Now, depending on how good you play this game, the characters you interact with getting more character development.

Now, during my playthrough, the story was quite enjoyable. While it didn’t have a lot of moments where I sat on the edge of my seat, it was quite relaxing. Maybe the other endings have more thrilling moments, but overall I enjoyed the story quite a lot. The writing, the pacing, and the voice acting make for an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see how the game plays out on my next playthrough.

With that said, how do you actually go about saving the shop? For that, Rorona needs to gather ingredients from various locations and craft various items. Depending on the quality of the items, you get better items. Now, I do have one thing I felt mixed about in terms of the gameplay.

Running that shop

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-01-ps4-us-04dec2018

Yes, this is a screenshot from the PS3 version, but the Switch version looks the same apart from the different buttons.

While the story pacing is quite good, the pacing of the game is … let’s just say, strange. Because the game gives off a relaxing and casual vibe, the game can feel extremely slow. But this is very misleading. Because you have a strict time limit; you shouldn’t waste time at all. You have to play every move extremely carefully. The more mistakes you make, the worse your ending gets. The depth in this game is crazy. You do get an assistant at the middle point of the game. This mechanic saved me various times. You can assign this assistant to go and explore for you or craft items for you.

Be warned, the tutorials of this game only scratch the surface of the mechanics of this game. Something I recommend is that you use the save system to your advantage. I had various saves at various points. So, I can go back when I felt I was able to finish the missions with better results.

Talking about the save system, the fact that this game got ported from a PlayStation system really shows in the UI. If you have played a game on a PlayStation you will recognize the typical save and load UI easily. The only thing that annoys me is that I’m unable to name my saves. This would have helped quite a lot.

So, you have to explore, fight monster and craft items. This sounds like your typical RPG fare. You do have side quests that can help you to get a better relationship with a certain character. Some of these side quests have the potential to improve the reputation of the shop which also has a big influence on the ending of the story.

All in all, the biggest challenge of this game is time management. Use your time wisely and try to waste as few days as you can. I always tried to finish the assignment of the kingdom as fast as I could. When I finished that, I used the remaining days to explore new areas and improve my relationship with the other characters.

The gameplay immersed me quite a lot. I really felt like a shop owner trying to find the best strategy to get my shop up and running and to try to get as many customers as I can. While the game isn’t too difficult to get the most basic ending, the challenge for this game hides in trying to get the best endings.

A normal playthrough of this game will take you somewhere around 20 hours. But, if you want to see all the endings, you will get a lot more out of this game. On howlongtobeat.com, there are reports of players taking 60 to 100 hours to fully complete this game. Now, this is for the PlayStation 3 version. At the time of writing this review, the website has no listing for the Nintendo Switch version.

Now, the meat of this game is in exploration and crafting. First of all, let’s go a bit more in-depth about the exploration. During your exploration, you can take two allies with you. Certain allies require a certain price to hire. This price needs to be paid upfront. So, make sure you have enough gold in the bank to hire them.

During the exploration, you can go to various locations. Each location has several areas you can explore that provide different items. These items aren’t randomized, so if you find herbs in a certain area, you will be able to find those herbs every time there.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have an inventory limit. If you reach that limit, you have to throw out items. Also, you need to keep in mind that certain items can lose their freshness. For example, if you collect berries and don’t put them in your storage in the chest in the shop, the quality will drop.

During your exploration, you can see certain spots where items can be gathered. In the meantime, you see the enemies roaming around. When you interact with them, you can start a fight with them. The battles are turn-based. It’s the system you see in a million other RPG’s. But there are a few differences.

One difference is that only an alchemist can use items. So, only Rorona can use healing items during the battle. Another difference is that you can use certain characters to defend you and make combo attacks. In each battle, a meter builds up. When that meter is full, you can use the shoulder buttons to defend Rorona. A similar mechanic counts for the combo attacks.

One thing you need to keep in mind during the exploration is that moving between locations and areas takes valuable time. So, make sure you know which items you need and where you can find them and plan accordingly. Otherwise, you might get into trouble and you aren’t able to craft certain items.

In addition to that, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of MP. MP is also used to craft items. And this brings me on the second part of the gameplay I want to focus on, the crafting. This is something I didn’t always pay attention too. Each item can have certain properties that make a huge difference during crafting. Each item has also a quality level that changes the outcome quite a lot as well.

Something I found extremely tricky was looking for high-quality items. For some reason, I always found a mid tear or low tier quality items. I’m quite sure that this was one of the reasons that resulted in me having a mediocre ending. Now that I know that, I know what I should look for in a second playthrough.

Anyways, the crafting system itself is a bit basic. You can select various ingredients to craft an item. If you don’t have a certain sub ingredient that is craftable, you get forwarded to the crafting menu of that item. One thing that I found really annoying was that it wasn’t always clear which ingredients were missing. For example, the icon of the missing ingredient was a flame. But I had a few ores that looked extremely similar. Yet that wasn’t the ingredient I needed. It turns out I needed oil.

Something I really liked was that in the crafting list, you were able to sort ingredients in terms of quality or rarity. Also, you had various symbols that gave information if you were or weren’t able to craft a certain item. For example, a triangle means that you are able to craft the item but you have to craft a sub-item first.

One thing that I would like to mention is that this game can be repetitive. It’s quite easy to fall in a loop for every assignment or mission. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. And repeat. Each assignment has a different theme like preparing for a festival or helping to craft medicine.

I didn’t mind too much, but I feel that a bit more variation in the gameplay would do the game some good. For example, a bit more assignments where you needed to defeat a certain number of monsters or collect a certain amount of ingredients would do the trick.

Arland is saved

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-03-ps4-us-04dec2018Let’s talk about the visuals. This game looks quite nice in my opinion. While the game could have benefited from a free camera, I actually didn’t mind too much since the camera allowed me to watch the nice city and fun dungeons in great detail. Some enemies suffer from the recolor syndrome, like the slime enemies. There are at least 3 variants and only the color has been changed. I wish those games added a few extra details. Oh well. At least I never had slowdowns during gameplay and I was able to play the game at a decent frame rate.

In terms of animation, this game is good. While the cut scenes would have benefited from some more character animation instead of gorgeous looking 2D artwork. Now, if the game came out in a previous generation, I would excuse this…. oh, wait… that’s right, this game is a port of a PS3 game. Then again, the PS3 is capable of so much more. Oh well.

Now, something that bugged me a bit is the rather awkward jumping animation. I think it’s missing a few frames near the end where Rorona’s feet almost snap into place. It also looks strange when you adjust your jump in midair. Since Rorona sort of floats awkwardly. It’s hard to put into words but while the jump works great, it feels off and looks a bit off.

Jumping in itself is easy to do and control. You just press the jump button and voila. I don’t have any complaints about the controls. I really like how there is a dedicated button to cycle through Rorona’s animations. The game controls great and I didn’t have the need to spend time getting used to them. The UI explains it so well, I got the hang of it right away. One minor nitpick is that the prompt for running is a tad confusing. When the UI shows a button for “running ON” and you press that button, Rorona actually starts walking. So, that prompt in the UI actually shows the status if you are running or not.

Now, the UI has some amazing things I really liked. Like how easy it is to sort items or the great and easy to use crafting system. But I have a few complaints. First of all, I wish I was able to see which ingredients were at a certain location before I actually traveled there. I would have been able to save so many days…

Secondly, while I totally understand why the developers did this; I wish I was able to see how many days it would take to go to a newly discovered gathering area. The reason why they don’t tell you this is most likely for immersion reasons.

And my final and third complaint is when you buy armor, you can’t see if it would increase somebody’s stats or not. This was quite annoying, especially when the armor shop rarely has new items because the game really wants that you craft it yourself.

The music and sound effects for this game are good. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the story quite well. It’s relaxing and rather melodic. It helps to get immersed in the game. I even added the soundtrack to my playlist for when I want to relax. Now, the sound effects are great but I wish there were a bit more of them. For the whole crafting system, the use the same effects and I would love some different ones for food or bombs. Also, one for days passing, while the clock ticked over, would be the cherry on the cake.

Oh, and here is something nice, you can totally change the whole soundtrack. Yes, while interacting with the book in the atelier, you can change each and every track to another track. You can choose between a pretty long list of other games in the series. Now, this is an amazing feature but it could have used some additional features. Like a reset to default option and one where you easily see which song you have selected since in that menu there is a lot of unused screen space. And the biggest missing feature is, in my opinion, a preview of what song is currently playing. Oh dear, they were so close.

In that same menu, you can access the different costumes for Rorona. As far as I know, these are only cosmetic. You can do save file management and decorate the atelier to a certain degree. You can also access the options menu where you can adjust the sound mix to your liking. Here, you can also change the language of the voice acting to Japanese or English. So, if you want Rorona to greet you in Japanese on the main menu, you can do that.

After you have finished the game, there is a post-game chapter. I won’t spoil what the chapter is about but it adds some additional story. But after this post-game, there is no free-roaming. So, you can’t experiment with the game… This is a real missed opportunity since I would have loved to try and experiment with the game to learn and have a better run next time. Yet, on the other hand, I totally understand why they did this. Because the game has so many different endings in which different characters aren’t present, it would have been a hell to program.

Interestingly, during my writing this review and posting it; the game got a small update. I have no clue what has been added, but I wanted to mention it, just in case something in my review doesn’t make sense anymore.

With that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave some things out for you as a surprise if you decide to play this game. But, it’s time for the conclusion of this review and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The jump animation looks awkward.
  • The game can be repetitive.
  • There is no free play in the post content.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story, writing and voice acting.

+ Amazing charm.

+ Great UI.

+ High replay value due to the different endings.

+ Relaxing soundtrack and you can change it to your liking!

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I don’t know exactly how this game compares to other games in the Atelier series. Since this game is the first game in the series I have played. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time with this game quite a lot. The game is on the surface of a relaxing game with a lot of charm. But, don’t get fooled, this game can become quite hectic in a good way.

The game is quite enjoyable to play but difficult to master. You really need to plan every single move to make sure to you get yourself in a difficult situation.

This game is perfect for everybody who is looking for an RPG with a crafting system or somebody who is looking for a shop simulator. While I can totally understand why some people won’t enjoy this game too much, it did click with me.

But the game is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite good but it has some flaws that hinder the gameplay in my opinion. Like the strict deadlines and the repetitive nature of the game.

Personally, I recommend that you give this game a try. If only there was a demo of this game you could try out and judge for yourself if this game is for you are not. I bought this game because the screenshots and descriptions looked interesting on the Nintendo eShop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, I can’t wait to play the other games in this trilogy to see if they improved the mechanics in the other games. Maybe they crafted an even better adventure while they kept everything that worked quite well in this game.

Do keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is a bad game. It’s a good game with some flaws. It’s up to you to decide if these flaws would hinder your enjoyment of the game or not. Since this game has a lot of depth so you will be able to have a lot of fun with this game.

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

Score: 70/100

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

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For a couple of years now, LaterLevels is organizing a question of the month. In 2017, you were able to send in a small section to be featured in the article. You were limited to the number of characters you had for a tweet. In 2018, every month a writer got a challenge to write an article centered around a question asked by LaterLevels. This year, LaterLevels is going “to develop” the best and/or ultimate game. In each month, another part of the game will be created. The idea is that other bloggers write up an article with their thoughts and ideas on that section and submit it to the post of that month. At the end of the month, the best is chosen by the already existing development team and will be invited to join the secret Discord to judge the entries in the following months. If you want to read more about the rules in-depth, you can read the post of LaterLevels here. Now that I have explained all that, it’s time for my entry. In January, the setting and theme will be decided without deciding the story and such. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the question in the comment section down below.

The challenge and my background

yoyo_logo_512Now, I don’t want to brag but I have various ideas to make a very interesting game. In the past, I actually created some arcade clones with YoYo Game Maker. I’m not going to republish them since I lost the source files and I want to change so much for them to get republished.

alleyway_boxartBut, here is the thing. When I was developing a game, I always started with the mechanics and gameplay. For example, when I wanted to create a Break-Out clone, I actually started out with recreating the Gameboy game Alleyway. Now, I felt too limited in level design, so I started to look further. Then, I found an asset pack with different blocks, a ball and various other sprites with a sea theme. So, I totally reskinned the game and I made up a story about a submarine stuck in a big magical coral reef trying to find its way out.

warioware-diy-top-625x352Another example is when I wanted to remake those simple flash and phone games that you need to tap a ball or an object to keep it from the ground. When I started to make that game, I got some small ideas for other mini-games with the sprites in that asset pack and I started to create a sort of WarioWare inspired game.

Now, you might have noticed that I always talk about an asset pack. This is a pack where various sprites, sound effects, music, backgrounds… are provided to game developers. In almost all of the games I created, I used asset packs. I can barely draw a decent stick figure let alone design various level elements. Also, when I created those games; I was 12 years old. So, I didn’t know how copyright and licensing work. That’s another reason why I’m not going to republish the games.

Anyways, let’s end this storytime about my history here and let’s get back to answer LaterLevel’s question. The reason why I’m talking about my hobbyist game development past is the fact I mentioned earlier. I mainly focused on an interesting and unique gameplay. The setting and themes would come later. While that is not the best approach, but it was the approach my young teenage mind took. And because LaterLevels didn’t want too many story details, the challenge got even harder.

81i7ndliszl._sx385_I also messed around in RPG Maker. And I always had one or two chapters of the story written before I started to create the world and setting the characters lived in. I had a general idea of the world but when I write, I love to let the readers create the world for themselves instead of possibly boring them with the millionth description of how a fantasy castle town looked like. In addition to that, the fact that I don’t describe a scene gives me the liberty to use the setting to my advantage. That way I can bend the world to the story and my needs. But it makes continuity much more challenging.

So, the ultimate video game. What could be a setting and/or a theme of the game? Well, I have a few suggestions without giving too many plot details. Let’s take a look at that.

Themes and settings

First of all, when you are talking about the best game, I think that the theme should be one of the variety. A power fantasy in another world would be extremely easy and generic. Most RPGs use a silent character you can name yourself or has the most generic dialogue that can be used for each RPG main character. To be honest, this is a generalization. There are exceptions of course.

91fbW6yu4TL.jpgA perfect video game needs to grab you and pull you into the story, world, and setting. When I was brainstorming for ideas I noticed that most of my favorite story-driven games take place in one location. For example, in Corpse Party, you explore one haunted school and the associated buildings. In Another Code: R, you explore the vacation resort where your father works. And as a final example, in the first two Bioshock games, you explore Rapture.

swordartonlineSuddenly, various things started to click in my mind. I got my eureka moment. I got it when I remembered the story of Sword Art Online. In that series, people are trapped in an online VR-game. In order to escape, they have to beat the game. The catch is, when they die in the game, they die in real life. In that series, the game takes place in a huge fantasy open world with various dungeons and quests.

Now, what if we take the idea of Sword Art Online and expand it for the best game, but with a huge twist? First of all, we can decide if we create the game in VR or not later. My suggestion is that the best video game takes place in a sort of fantasy open world with castles and towns that provide a lot of quests and things to do.

no game no ligeThe twist is that everything in the world happens with games. Think of the mechanics of the No Game No Life series, where every dispute is settled with a bet who wins a game of for example chess, rock/paper/scissors, poker or even more extreme examples. Now, it would an interesting idea if this idea is implemented into a real game we can play.

Back to the story of Sword Art Online, in order for those who are trapped to escape they have to beat all bosses in a huge tower. Now, what if each floor in this tower is replaced with a challenge in another genre and that you have to beat different challenges in that genre before you can progress.

retro_game_challenge_coverart

Think about the overall story of Retro Game Challenge. In that game, you get sent back to the past and in order for you to return, you have to beat various challenges in retro games. These challenges range from beating the first three levels of a top-down shooter to performing some unique tricks in a sports game.

So, the setting would be a great fantasy open world with one central tower the players have to beat in order to climb the leader boards. On each floor, another mini-game or challenge is provided. To avoid people getting frustrated at being stuck on one floor, I think it would be wise to give the player two or three options on the floor. For example, a fighting game challenge, an RPG challenge or a rhythm game challenge.

51vk2fckjhlMaybe it’s an interesting idea to also have separate dimensions where players specialize in a certain genre or style of gameplay. Compare it a bit to the main characters in Kingdom Hearts traveling between various Disney stories to solve issues there.

The theme of the game can be either competition or teamwork. Various guilds can possibly form to aid players to easily beat certain genres. On the other hand, I totally see certain players compete with each other to be the best player in a certain genre.

Being one of the best players in a certain genre can give advantages in the game. In terms of balance, each genre should have a “contrast genre”. That way we avoid players getting overpowered because they mastered too many genres. For example, the players who master a fast-paced genre like rhythm games shouldn’t be able to easily level up their stats in a more slower based genre like grand strategy.

Do you see it now? Just trying to find a setting and or a theme for a game is tricky for me. Like I said earlier, I don’t create worlds too often and I leave them as vague as I can so I can bend them to the will of the gameplay and story. As soon as I got a certain idea, I start thinking about how the world actually works and how the world is balanced. And then we get eerily close to game design and how the game plays.

When I cut out all my gameplay & story suggestions, my idea for the ultimate game’s setting and the theme is this. A big open-world game with various challenges like dungeons and (side)quests, possibly with different universes. In the center of it all, is a huge tower that serves as a leader board for the solo and or clans that play the game.

Closing statement

And with that, I think it’s a good idea to end this article here. Otherwise, I might restart giving my ideas and suggestions on how the game will play. Now, if you want to know if my idea has won or not, you should follow OverThinkerY, since, on 31st January 2019, they will reveal the winner on his blog.

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If you want to join in on this challenge, don’t wait. Check out LaterLevels blog for the February challenge.

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

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

NekoJonez’s October 2018 Update

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Dear lord, is it already October? This year has been flying by and it was extremely nuts. So, I think it’s time to update you guys and girls on what’s going on in my life and what you can expect for the future of my blog. This is quite a lot to talk about so, here we go. Also, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below. 

Personal life stuff

In a previous update, I talked about a few things. Let’s first start with my final project. That’s currently in full swing. Researching and writing this out takes up a lot of my time. For those who don’t know, I’m a college student and I’m doing Computer Science. I have finished all my subjects and now I have my final project to write. I’m taking the networking classes. My final project is upgrading and monitoring a school network. It’s quite a challenge and I’m learning quite a lot.

Because of that, I don’t always have the time to play new games to write about on my blog. In addition to that, I sometimes feel burned out on writing and then writing something for my blog is just a bit too much. So, if I skip a week, I’ll always announce it on my Twitter.

Besides my final project, my theater group started in the new season. Currently, I’m working on some things for our open stage next week. It will be quite a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see it when it all comes together. But that has been eating my free time as well.

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On top of that, my family and I are raising two adorable little fluffballs. Since Sparta died in July of 2018, I really missed having a cat around to hold me company. In August of this year, we adopted these two little kittens. They are brother and sister. The left gray one has been named by my sister and this lady is called Dobby. The right brown one has been named by me. I named this man Troy. His name has been chosen as a reference to Sparta. Our bonds are slowly but surely forming. Currently, they have grown enough to learn to explore outside. That’s fun. It really melts my heart when Troy starting to meow when he doesn’t see me for a few minutes when we are outside. They rarely sit still, so I won’t be flooding my Twitter with pictures of them, but I’ll try.

So, it’s quite clear by now that I’m quite busy. I’m still working full time as well. In my last update, I also talked about my bad mental health. Currently, the situation hasn’t improved a lot. But, huge changes are happening. Because of privacy reasons, I won’t be talking about them in public.

Before I start talking about the blog related things, I want to talk about the games I’m playing. Currently, I’m playing a lot of games I have reviewed in the past. Games like The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild, Europa Universalis IV, A Hat in Time amongst a slew of others. I mostly want to wrap up those games so I can cross a few games on my backlog list. But, I’m still playing some other games I want to review or talk about.

Blog stuff

So, something strange is going on with my blog. For some reason, my views are all over the place. While I have days that my blog is doing very good, I have also days that I barely get any visitors over.

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That said, if anyone can explain to me why my views are so low, that would be welcome. Any feedback on my work is welcome. Also, if you ever have a suggestion for a review or a topic you want me to talk about, feel free to contact me on my Twitter or contact page.

A project I have currently running on my blog is the Tomb Raider project. Currently, we are extremely close to finishing it. I have to finish two articles, which I might do next week. I’m aiming to release it somewhere this year. I’ll update you guys on the release date on my Twitter.

In almost every update I talk about wanted to update my blog with new categories and updating older articles (Mostly removing typos, fixing broken links and images). For now, I won’t be doing that. I’ll mostly be focusing on the currently running projects. The whole restructuring and updating of my blog will be for 2019.

What else can you expect from me in 2018? Besides the Tomb Raider project, I don’t have any crazy plans. I have a few games I still want to talk about on my blog before the year ends. There are a few Switch, PC, PSP and PS2 games I still want to review.

I do have some plans for 2019. I have a few ideas for collaborations and other projects. But, I’ll only be able to work on them when the new year starts. Simply, because I don’t have the time for them now.

And that’s everything I wanted to talk about for now. This article has been a summary of my tweets in the past few months, so, if you want to know these things hot from the press; you should follow me on Twitter.

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.

Review: Repentant (PC) ~ Life Goes On

Repentant Header.jpgSteam Store page

Life goes on. Of course, it does. Repentant recently released and the game is a continuation from Little Kite. But, if you haven’t played the original, you can still play Repentant. Full disclosure, I got a press-code from the developer to write this article. But, the developer wanted me to give my 100% honest opinion. So, that’s what you are getting today. What is my 100% honest opinion on this point-and-click adventure game, one of my favorite genres ever! Let’s find out. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below. 

Oliver goes shopping

The sequel of Little Kite follows Oliver, the abusive boyfriend. Now, I could try to explain the game to you, but I feel like the introduction written by the developers on the store page explains the plot of the game the best:

Experienced criminal Oliver begins to suffer from strong remorse after the terrible deeds of which his family has suffered. Unsuccessful attempts to restore relations with his ex-wife further worsen his condition and alcohol dependence.
One day in a small shop, he becomes a witness of a robbery committed by a young girl. At this moment, he gets the opportunity to atone for his sins by helping another person. But who really needs help and who is the victim? It remains to be seen.

20180810152129_1The writing in this game is amazing. The story really gripped me from the moment it started. I love experiencing stories like these since they stay realistic and down to earth. Also, it shows the other side of life, that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.

The game got translated into Russian, Ukraine and into Dutch. I can’t speak about the Russian nor the Ukrian since I don’t speak either language, but judging from the quality of the Dutch translation, I can say it’s quite good. For those who don’t know, I’m not a native English speaker. My native language is Flemish, which is “a sort of Dutch”. Something like American and British is a sort of English.

The voice-acting isn’t translated, it’s only the subtitles of the game. Now, I’ll talk more about the voice-acting in just a minute, but first I want to quickly say something about the Dutch translation. Personally, I didn’t like it. There is nothing wrong with the translation, but it uses more expressions and sayings used in the Netherlands than Flemish ones. I got a bit put off by that as a Flemish-native. But, this is more of a nitpick. Compare it to, an American gamer getting annoyed at the subtitles since they are in UK English. It won’t ruin the experience, but it’s noticeable sometimes. So, that’s why I played the game in English.

So, that ramble aside, I wanted to talk about the voice-acting. This game has decent voice acting. Especially the voice acting of the girl is extremely well done. And the type of voice really matches the characters as well. Yet, the voice acting didn’t always click with me. I can’t put my finger on why I think that, but I feel like it was a bit bland sometimes, not enough emotion. Then again, I felt that the voice acting pulled me more into the story. So, yeah.

The dialogue can go, sort of, automatically. When you don’t press a button to continue the dialogue, it continues on its own after a while.

Drawn gameplay

20180810154414_1The visuals in this game are amazing. I really like the art style. It feels like you are playing the story inside a painting or a realistic comic book. If I were to nitpick, I would say that I disliked that not every sign and such was in English. Then again, I don’t think this game takes place in an English speaking country, so that adds to the atmosphere.

The game takes place in the night store. It has basically four screens where the whole adventure takes place. There is one screen that’s an exception, but talking about that would be a spoiler. I really like how the whole story is in this night store. The full-screen artwork for some cutscenes is amazing.

The visual presentation is enhanced by decent animation. There is a minor thing I could criticize about the animations. The running animation looks so unnatural. If you double-click, Oliver uses the same walk cycle but moves twice as quick. And strangely enough, this only works outside the store.

Overall, the game runs at a consistent frame rate, apart from that one scene outside the store and the storefront. The game requires 512MB VRAM, and I have 2GB in my PC. Yet, I had some frame stuttering and some frame drops. The game was still playable but it was quite noticeable during that section.

The visual presentation is accompanied by an enjoyable soundtrack. The only thing that I would have done differently is to loop the music so the player would have been unable to know when the track started or when it ended. I think I say enough about the soundtrack with this: “If it was ever released as a sort of DLC package on Steam, it would be an instant buy for me. I would add it to my playlist for when in the mood for more relaxing music or tense music.”

So close

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While I was playing this game, I was really enjoying solving the puzzles. The controls for this game are really good. You only need the mouse to play this game.

Now, if you ever get stuck, the game has a hint system. And this hint system isn’t one of the best in my opinion.

You can click it 20 times in the whole game. It does circle all clickable areas. It doesn’t give you any other hints on how to progress or what items you need for the current puzzle. Since it also circles items you can’t pick up or need for a later puzzle. I think that this game could have used a system like in the Broken Sword series where you could ask for a clue on what to do next and when you get stuck (read, don’t progress or solve the puzzle after a certain amount of time), you get access to a clue revealing even more.

Anyways, the rest of the UI is good. The inventory system is at the top and you have your menu button at the left bottom corner of the screen. Besides the hint button. Now, you can combine items. Near the end, I discovered that some combinations didn’t get any reaction out of Oliver. Like the bandage with the kettle.

Another minor change I would have done is, change “play” in the main menu to “new game”. Since clicking that option always starts a new game and it would avoid people thinking that it’s a way to reload the latest checkpoint.

This game isn’t too difficult for veteran point-and-click players. If you have played games like Beneath the Steel Sky, Broken Sword, Monkey Island, Deponia… This game shouldn’t be a problem for you. What I’m saying here is that experience in the genre helps you to get through this game. If you don’t have experience in the genre, always ask yourself this question, what exactly is stopping me from progressing the story and what do I have in my inventory or around me to aid in solving the issue?

This game autosaves, so that means that after you have solved some puzzles, the game autosaves. You can’t save in between. At first, I found this kind of disappointing but the autosaves are so frequent that it isn’t a problem.

For 6€, you get an adventure that lasts roughly one hour. This sounds short, but it’s a great ride. I have finished this game in 2,5 hours. Granted, I have left the game running while I was writing this review for example.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game, it’s time for the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The music should fade in and out better.

-The game is too short.

-The voice acting was sometimes hit & miss.

-In one area some minor frame drops.

-The hint system could have been more fleshed out.

The good:

+ The voice acting can be a hit sometimes.

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Enjoyable puzzles.

+ Great story & writing.

+ …

Final thoughts:

I have played both games in this series and I enjoyed both of these games. Personally, I found that Repentant is the better game of the two. The addition of voice acting really adds a lot to the game.

While the game is rather short, I really enjoyed myself with this game. I would love to see a third entry into the series exploring the aftermath of the situation from Mary’s point of view.

While the game could have used some more polish, I think that this game was worth the wait. I can’t wait to see what the developers are going to put out next. Since now I’m hyped for their next adventure game!

Thank you for reading this review 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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 80/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: Super Mario Odyssey isn’t a perfect game.

Super_Mario_OdysseyOfficial website

I wanted to write a review of this game for quite a while. I have finished this game over a month ago and I haven’t written a first impression or a review about this game. I want to fix that today. But, instead of writing a review I wanted to do something special. While the game got praise from other bloggers left and right, I want to point out some of the flaws and issues I have with the game. Disclaimer, I don’t think this is a bad game but I want to explain my reasoning for why I wouldn’t give this game a 100/100. So, let’s get critical and look at this game again. As per usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts on the game and/or the game. 

Mini-review

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So, what do I actually think about this game? While it’s a very unique and enjoyable game, I found the game quite repetitive.

The music and sound design were amazing but I sometimes had trouble with the controls and more advanced moves.

The visuals are amazing and I loved running around in all the different kingdoms but I found the story lacking and I expected a lot more from the hype and praise it got.

If I would have to give my score for this game it would be an 80/100. Since in my eyes, the game could have done so much more and it left me disappointed in some areas of the game.

This game has a lot to love. Like I said, the visuals, the music, the concept… they are all amazing. The attention to detail is amazing. Cappy is one of the most helpful companions I have seen in a while. Yet, I felt like I enjoyed this game less then the other 3D platformers I played like A Hat In Time. So yeah, personally I felt that there was something lacking. Something that kept me from fully enjoying the game and that thought exercise resulted in this article.

Breath of the Wild did it better

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The story has one big issue and that’s the open world and the overkill of moons you can collect. Now, not too long before the release of this game, Nintendo released The Legend Of Zelda – Breath of the Wild. In this game, you were also able to run around freely and gather the things you need to finish the game.

Now, there is a big difference in how the story is handled in the Zelda games and in the Mario games. The big difference is in how the ending is handled. And if you don’t want either of these games spoiled, just start reading when the text is black again. If you don’t mind the spoilers, just highlight the next part in order for you to read it.

So, in each kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey, there is a story quest you can complete to easily get enough moons to advance to the next kingdom. But, this is an open-world game so you can skip this story quest by collecting other moons. Fair enough. You can do the same thing in the Zelda game. You don’t have to defeat the divine beasts in order for you to go to the final boss. 

Now, here is the difference between the two games. If you don’t defeat the Divine Beasts in Breath of the Wild, you will have a harder time before you go and do the battle with Ganon. Since you will need to defeat them before you can fight with Ganon. The more Divine Beasts you beat, the easier you make it for yourself during the final battle. Since they bring down Ganon’s health to half if you have beaten all 4 Divine Beasts. This is not only good story writing, but it’s also an amazing reward for the player. You helped free the souls from their prisons and they came back one last time to help the hero in his quest to defeat evil. 

In Super Mario Odyssey, this doesn’t matter at all. I haven’t finished the story quest in three kingdoms and it doesn’t have any difference in the ending scenes or on the final battle at all. So, why should I bother saving or helping people in a certain kingdom? When I entered a kingdom, I felt like I was dropped in a zone and if I found enough goodies I was allowed to go to the next zone. 

Another thing Breath of the Wild did better then Super Mario Odyssey are the Korok Seeds vs Moons. Now, you get both items as rewards for solving puzzles or doing small challenges in the world.  At some moments I felt like Super Mario Odyssey was the whole Korok Seed quest with a Mario skin. Now, I felt rewarded when I found a Korok Seed. Even when I had beaten the game. It gave me another chance to upgrade my bag so I was able to carry more equipment in the game and experiment more.

Now, besides needing them to continue in the main story, there are no additional rewards for collecting moons. Besides unlocking one more world/level, and maybe two small completion bonus things at the end of the game, I didn’t feel any incentive to collect these moons. I felt like I was on a fetch quest for them just because it’s a video game.

The final thing that Breath of the Wild did better is the towers and map mechanics. Yes, the towers. I loved climbing towers in Breath of the Wild and looking over the whole zone trying to find interesting areas to visit. I felt a lack of that in Super Mario Odyssey. Also, the mechanic where you could pin beams of light on the map as markers for you to visit later… man, that would have been great in Super Mario Odyssey as well.

And it would fit the visual theming of the game extremely well. The map of each kingdom is a travel brochure of the kingdom. And let’s be honest, how many times you wrote on the map of a travel brochure to mark certain areas you still want to visit.

And a final and possibly a minor thing is that Breath of the Wild felt more interconnected. The best way to explain here is, ask yourself this. You can walk over from region to region in Breath of the Wild easily. You need to fly over from kingdom to kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. And while it’s on a planet, you are able to fall into a void if you reach the edge of a kingdom.

A Hat In Time did it better

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Now, I’m certain that people will disagree with me on this but I felt that the controls of A Hat In Time felt better than Super Mario Odyssey.

It’s no secret that I’m not the best in platforming games. So, the running up walls move in A Hat In Time was a godsend to me.

But, the issue is that nowadays, I miss various jumps because I try to rely on that mechanic. It gets better when I kept playing Super Mario Odyssey but I missed that mechanic. Not only that, I got so much used to the dive move in A Hat In Time. I was able to pull off more advanced moves than I ever could in a platforming game. With the 2nd dive/jump, you were able to stop at any time you want. So, if you noticed that you overshoot the jump, you can save yourself easily.

So, at that moment I started comparing the moves I was able to pull off in A Hat In Time to Super Mario Odyssey. And I felt like I was more in control in A Hat In Time. For example, I can’t pull off the Cappy Jump at all in Super Mario Odyssey but I’m able to defeat the hardest jumping challenges in A Hat In Time. I don’t know what’s going on exactly, but I think it has to do with the two things I said above.

Or it might have to do with me being more used to the XBOX360 controller I play A Hat In Time with compared to the first game I had beaten on Nintendo Switch. Maybe when I’m more used to the Switch controller, I might be able to do these more difficult moves.

Other things

Now, remember, I still enjoyed myself with Super Mario Odyssey and it’s still a great game. But, I have seen other games do certain aspects better. Besides that, are there other things I don’t like about Super Mario Odyssey?

The motion controls were also a big issue for me. I played a lot of this game on the go. On the train from and to work. And I think that I’m unable to get a few moons easily without those motion control moves. But, that’s mentioned in almost every review I have seen. And as pointed out by some, why weren’t they able to remap those moves to certain buttons that went barely used in the game like ZL/ZR?

Besides that, I think I have said my main issues with the game. I could go on and extremely nitpick, but that would make this article boring to read. Like I felt each world should have its own Rabbit mini-boss and not repeat them over several worlds with barely any differences…

In the end and I have mentioned this multiple times, I think that this game is wonderful, one of the best games Nintendo has put out in 2017. While it isn’t their best game from 2017, it’s in the top 5. While I feel that this game deserves a lot of praise, it could have done things a lot better and I hope I was able to point that out in this article.

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 the next article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Publishing: unmemory – A mystery game you can read. A noir novel you can play.

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“An innovative proposal of interactive fiction that immerses you in the story through a masterful mix of puzzle and reading” – Iván Fernández Lobo, Founder & Managing Director at Gamelab.

A new storytelling format

unmemory lives at the intersection of literature and game, blending narrative, interactive means and game mechanics to immerse yourself in a thriller story of memories and revenge.

The Killer Kittens are a band of sexy thieves. Many are after their valuable loot but there is only one person in the world who knows where it is hidden: you. Everything would be fine if it wasn’t for a small detail: you can’t remember anything.

Use your logic, deduction and discovery skills to overcome challenging puzzles and move forward. Bring order to your memories to solve the mystery and discover an uncomfortable truth.

More information

http://unmemory.info
Instagram: @unmemory.game
Facebook: @unmemory.game

Support their Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unmemory/unmemory-a-text-based-game-an-interactive-escape-b

 

My favorite gaming music #22 – Time for a Loop

GameMusic_InArticleIt’s that time again. Time to share some of my favorite tracks in gaming. I have written articles about this before if the title hasn’t given that away. I have written 21 articles about this before. The rules for these articles are simple. I can only pick one track per franchise per article and I only pick the original versions of the track. Unless I choose to do a special article for this series where I only pick remixed versions or video game-related music. So, are you ready? Since here we go. It’s time to party!

Remember Me (PC) – Nilin The Memory Hunter

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I haven’t gotten too far into this game but so far I’m enjoying the ride an awful lot. The plot of this game interests me to no end. The idea where you have to mess with people’s memories; or how the economy is based on memories.

This game is on my “to write about” list for a month or two now. I’m glad that I gave this game a chance since not only is the story amazing, the music is a blast to listen too.

For this article, I have chosen the main theme of the game. It fits perfectly with the futuristic theme of the game and the techno/electro track is a blast to listen too. When I first heard it, it really helped me to get pumped for the game and what the game was going to offer me.

So, if you want to know my opinion on this game; keep an eye out for my blog. Since I plan to review it rather soon.

Outlaws (PC) ~ The Ballad Of Doctor Death

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Review of this game

This game was in my top 10 favorite games of the 2017 list. It even finished on the 3rd place. In my review of this game, I highly praised the soundtrack. And, it would be only logical if one of the tracks appears here in this series.

While I had a hard time choosing one from this amazing western shooter, I settled on the track of “The Ballad Of Doctor Death.” It has a bit of everything.

The start of the track is a typical western track where in some parts it even feels medieval. But, what I love most is that the track changes around the middle where it becomes a sort of vocal track of cowboys riding their horses into the sunset. It fits the atmosphere of the game where you have to shoot in towns and such extremely well.

The track is amazing to listen too on its own but I really advise you to play the game and enjoy it when this track comes on. It makes the track even better. If you don’t know where to buy this game, don’t look too far since the game is for sale on GOG.com for less then 5€. If you enjoy retro gaming or those old shooters like Doom or Wolfenstein… Don’t skip out on this one!

A Hat In Time (PC) – The Battle of Bird Award 42

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Review of the game

Yes, of course, my favorite game of 2017 gets a spot in this series. And I think it won’t be the last time either.

I wanted to go with “Turn on the pyrotechnics” since that track is currently my ringtone. Yet, when I heard this track again I loved it even more.

Not only that, the boss battle that happens when you hear this track in the game is just amazing. The build-up and the finish of the chapter are just amazing.

I can’t wait to see what the free DLC will have in store. I’m still hoping that it drops this year, currently, it’s listed on their website on 31st December. A new chapter and new features; sign me up!

But, let’s enjoy this rocking track even more and if you have played the game, just close your eyes and enjoy the memories coming back in of this game and the amazing boss battle.

Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch) ~ Tactical Map

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I have finished this game two weeks ago. While I could have finished it weeks ago; I haven’t done that. I just enjoyed playing the game that much that I wanted to take my time with it.

I still want to write about this game but since I’m now playing the remastered edition of Hyrule Warriors as well, I’m thinking about a different kind of article.

A feature I love in Fire Emblem Warriors is how the tactical aspect of the series is carried over. How you can order your warriors to go and defeat a general; defend an ally…

When you start every mission, you hear this song while you are making your first moves. This song calms me to make the best choices for the upcoming battle but it also hyped me up to get ready to fight and defeat our enemies.

So, like Remember Me; this game is on my “to write about” list and I think you might see it soon than later.

Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) ~ BGM 5

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In my article where I looked forward to the games, I wanted to play in 2018, I talked about a game called Dragon Quest Builders. Now, I’m currently in the 3rd chapter of 4. So, you may expect an article on this game in the near future.

The music is this game that sounds like your typical Dragon Quest music. It really suits the game rather well. It suits the game that well to the point that I’m now playing Minecraft with Dragon Quest music playing in the background.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has in store for me and what the sequel has in store. I wonder if the game will still be released this year. Even if this doesn’t; I’m going to wait for it and pick it up as soon as it releases.

Closing off

It was really fun putting this article together. It reminded me of how important gaming music is to me. How much attention I pay to it while I’m playing games and writing articles like this.

If you have any music you really enjoy games; I would love to hear it in the comments. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on my music selection. I’m curious if I’m the only one who really loves these tracks.

So, 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.

Gamer’s Thoughts/Rant: “So, you play game X?”

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“Oh, you still play games? Grow up, man! Games are for young children or for people who have no life.” Have you ever said something like this or have you ever been on the receiving end of a question like this? There are a lot of statements that I get annoyed by in the gaming community and today I want to talk about some. Please, keep in mind that these are my opinions and that I’m not you. So, I invite you to tell me your opinions in the comments and/or give me suggestions for other questions to do another article like this. 

Before I begin

Now, in some cases, I’m going to talk in very general terms. And let me be clear on one thing. I’m not going to deny that there are edge cases for everything. Things like game addiction and compulsion do exist and are very real problems.

If games stop being a leisure activity and everything else needs to make way or room for a game, please seek help right away.

In addition to that, parents and friends, if you find any negative change in the behavior of your child, friend or loved one; please help him or her.

Also, in most of my arguments, I talk about the people who can still separate fact from fiction and/or aren’t struggling with game addiction.

“Games are just for little children or are for losers.”

I love turning the tables on arguments like this. I love to ask them if they enjoy watching sports. Technically, sport is also a game. If you follow the definition of what a game is, like the one by Kevin J. Maroney, where games are a form of play with goals and a structure. Well, then you can fit all sports in that definition.

So, if games are for kids, then explain to me why board games have age stamps like “for ages 3 AND UP”. And in addition to that, if games are for little children, why are games like Civilization and other strategy games so popular?

The “games are just for little kids” argument is so easily debunked if you simply watch to our community and how much money it brings in. So, please, if you are still convinced that games are for little kids, please explain to me why games aren’t for older people.

“But older gamers are people who don’t grow up or can’t let go of the past.”. Oh, please! If you give that argument, you have already lost the debate. I can give many arguments to point out the flaw in that statement. For example, there are a lot of extremely complex games on the market like Civilisation and Europa Universalis 4 who tend to be pretty complex to younger children. And if games would be created for younger children, why would they put effort into developing a game like that?

In addition to that, “can’t let go of the past.” Man, I hate that argument with a passion. So what, that I’m nostalgic? Why is that even an issue? I have grown up playing video games and I love playing games since it brings me back to my childhood or gives me new and interesting experiences.

Making the statement that games or for certain demographics of people. Please, don’t be so close-minded. It’s like saying that football (soccer) is only for men and ballet only for women. If you find enjoyment out of a certain hobby or profession, why would it matter which gender, age, nationality…. you are?

Making the statement: “Games are just for little children or are for losers.” just proves that you are ignorant and that you are pretty close-minded. So please, be a decent human being and don’t say things like this when you mean it.

People who play games sit all day in their room and do nothing else than stare at a screen.

And to be honest, so what? Is it a problem that we sometimes do nothing else than stare at a screen all day and play games all day? I’m sorry that I engage in an activity I enjoy in my free time.

But did you notice the keyword in the previous paragraph? “Sometimes.” While I’m not going to deny that there are people who devote their whole life to video games and do nothing else, the same can be said about people addicted to something else, like movies and books.

Take me for example. I see myself as a pretty big gamer. I play a lot of games in a week. But besides that, I fix people their computer, I work full time in the education sector, I’m part of a folk theater group… I can go on for quite a while, but I think you get the point.

To counteract this statement, I love to bring up the argument of mobile phone games. There is an extremely huge player base for those games and those are also being played by people who don’t really play games but have some time to kill on the bus, train or while waiting on the doctor.

But the best debunk for this is the issue of generalization. It’s like saying that every metal lover is an aggressive person and similar things like that. Nothing everybody is the same, and thankfully so.

Aggressive/the violence in games make your youth more aggressive and/or train them to be killers.

I’m going to keep this brief since this statement really boils my blood. But, I wanted to talk about this one for sure.

First, violent movies, violent books and such… why are they left out of the argument? Because they aren’t interactive? Or is it because games are the new kid on the block and haven’t got the respect that movies and books have?

Two, if a game is very violent or aggressive; shouldn’t you be the responsible parent and talk to your kids why they aren’t okay to play at their current age? Or at the “M for mature” or “18+” label just part of the artwork on the front cover? Why would Steam age-gate these games?

Three, while I’m not going to deny that there are people who are sensitive to violence and get introduced to these things by games, the same can be said for movies and other violence in media too. Thankfully, not everybody is like that and those people are a minority.

Four, isn’t it possible that the youth has another stress reliever? That they can vent all their frustration from their daily lives without harming a fly.

And my final point, there has been done quite a lot of research on this subject. And the results are quite divided. An interesting overview can be found in this amazing piece by TechAddiction: http://www.techaddiction.ca/effects_of_violent_video_games.html

“Nintendo games are for kids” / “PC is the master race and should be the only way to play” / …

If you say things like that to me, you will hear a heavy sigh. Let me first start with “Nintendo games are for kids.”.

First of all, family-friendly doesn’t mean “for kids”. A lot of Nintendo IPs are family-friendly and they might have a childish outlook, but they are far from that.

Secondly, if Nintendo games are childish, why do so many adults play games like Pokémon GO? They grew up on it and makes them nostalgic. Okay, sure. But, aren’t you generalizing here too much?

Thirdly, just this Reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/nintendo/comments/1kge42/why_do_people_think_nintendo_games_are_childish/

On that page, there are so many arguments why Nintendo games might seem childish but actually aren’t.

The other argument of “PC is the master race and should be the only way to play.” is such an easy one to debunk. Dear console gamers, do you actually realize what the definition is of a computer?

computer is a device that can be instructed to carry out arbitrary sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. The ability of computers to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs, enables them to perform an extremely wide range of tasks.

Thank you, Wikipedia for that definition. The difference between your console and computer is the input device. That’s all. So, you are basically playing on a computer with a different shell and operating system. So, technically, computer gaming is the only thing that exists.

Oh oh, wait, I hear the PC elitist gamers already: “You can replace hardware in a console!” Oh yeah? You are sure about that? So, the manufacturer isn’t able to replace any broken parts when something breaks? Or the guides on iFixIt like this one: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/PlayStation+4+Optical+Drive+Replacement/24720. That is just a hoax?

Oh, and the other argument: “You can’t upgrade a console, so you are restricting the customer!” So. What. Some people don’t have the technical knowledge to do so anyway. Why stop them from buying a pre-built computer that can play games without having to maintain a lot of parts?

“You can build a very strong gaming computer for real cheap if you do the research.” If you do the research. You can also learn a new language if you do the research. You can do everything if you do a little research. If you are actually able to do it, it depends on your skills. I almost have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science – Networking. And let me tell you, there are people who don’t have the time to do the research nor the technical skills to actually put the research to use. For example, I’m not that good at writing code, I tried various times to educate myself on it but alas. If you don’t get the right guidance, this research can be a big issue.

“But there are many more games for the PC than for console.” And that’s a problem with PC gaming as well. Yes, I call it a positive and a problem. There are too many games and barely any quality control. It’s also a problem for game developers. Just try to get noticed in the vast sea of computer games.

“There are many more options and features like mods for the computer.” Okay, I give you that. But, it’s a problem as well. For example, as a developer, try to optimize a game for literally millions of different combinations of hardware. It’s an extremely difficult task.

Conclusion here: don’t be elitist about a certain gaming platform. I love playing games on as many different platforms. I also love portable consoles like the 3DS and the Nintendo Switch since they have something over computers. I’m on the go a lot and gaming laptops are either extremely expensive or too bulky to play on the train and such.

There is nothing wrong with saying that PC or console is better, but I do have a problem when people belittle others because their preferred platform of games is “better”. Just no. Let people play games the way they like. If it sells, people want it. If there is a better alternative, the market and consumer will find out.

Oh, and a shoutout to BulletBarry. While I don’t always agree with him, his Console Peasant Quote videos are just really well made.

In conclusion

I can ramble about things like this for hours. While sometimes, I wasn’t telling anything new, I do think that it’s important to educate yourself and have respect for everybody. Don’t belittle because somebody has a certain hobby! Also, don’t believe everything verbatim what the news tells you. Read up about it.

If you think all gamers are male, please talk with them. You will be pleasantly surprised that there are female gamers out there. If you think all metalheads have a beard and/are bald, please talk to metalheads. Don’t be close-minded either. Not everybody is the same, you know.

While you could say I’m biased towards games since I’m a pretty big gamer. I honestly think that isn’t a problem in this case. I think it’s good for us gamers that we can give our opinion on the subject you know?

In any case, I’m quite interested in the comments for this article. Remember, I’m the kind of person who is open to civil discussion and I’m always very understanding that not everybody thinks the same way. So, please, if you have something to say or ask, the comments are here.

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 on my blog but until that time, take care and have a great rest of your day.

10 Games I’m looking forward to playing in 2018

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2018 is almost here. So, it’s time to look forward to what the new year will bring. Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at my favorite games of 2017. Ah, next year will be an interesting year. A year where I’m planning to delve into the Nintendo Switch library. So, what games that release next year, am I looking forward too. That’s what this article is about. Also, note that this list isn’t in any sort of order, so yeah. Please know that this is my list, so if you think that a game is missing, feel free to talk about it in the comments or feel free to talk in the comments about the games I selected. In any case, here we go! 

#10 – Age Of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC) (Release: 2018)

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The original Age Of Empires game fills me with nostalgic feelings. While I’m not the best-skilled player when it comes to RTS-games, I do enjoy playing them quite a lot.

2017 was an amazing year to be a fan of the Age Of Empires franchise. Not only did got the announcement of this game releasing next year, we also got the confirmation that Age Of Empires 4 is under development.

The hype is real for me. I can’t wait to see what the new games will bring. So, I’m sure keeping an eye out for this title!

#9 – SystemShock (PC) – (Release: Q2 2018)

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I have always been told that the System Shock games where the inspiration for the amazing Bioshock series.

I always wanted to play these games but didn’t have the time for it. The thing is, I even have System Shock 2 in my Steam library.

Even when Bioshock and System Shock aren’t the same game, I’m quite excited to see where these claims come from. In addition to that, I read a lot about this game and that made me only more interested in playing this game. So, I’m quite curious how this game is going to turn out!

#8 – Secret of Mana (PC) (Release: 15 February 2018)

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I have played the first bit of Secret Of Mana several times. I think it’s quite a good game.

I can’t say why, but I always get distracted by other games and forget about this game.

So, that’s why I’m looking forward to the release of the remake of this game. Now I’ll have an excuse to really play this game with improved visuals. Not that I dislike the 16-bit visuals, I’m a retro game collector after all.

Besides, I have to come clean and say that I don’t own the SNES cartridge and bought the game on Android. Yeah, not the best idea ever, I know. So, that’s the main reason why I’m excited to play the remake of this game. A way I can play it with better controls than touch controls.

#7 – Shin Megami Tensei – Strange Journey Redux (3DS) (Release: Early 2018)

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Since I played Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, I wanted to try out a game from the Shin Megami Tensei series. While I was lucky to buy a few games into my collection from garage sales and digital sales, I still didn’t have the time to really play one of these games.

Also, I was looking for the DS title to start with. Since I played that game at a friends house one day and wanted to start with the start of series on the handhelds.

That’s why I’m so happy that an updated port is coming to the 3DS. I actually pre-ordered this game for a while now. So, if I didn’t put this game on my list, I would have been disappointed with myself.

#6 – Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS) (Release: 2018)

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And my list of games “I still want to play but didn’t have the time for” continues with another RPG. I have played Radiant Historia for a bit and actually got distracted with other games.

This 3DS remake isn’t just a port of the DS game. It will have an additional plot, new features and music, voice acting and more.

In addition to that, it’s published by the same publisher who published Etrian Odyssey V here in Europe. So, I’m hyped!

#5 – Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) (Release: 9 February 2018)

Dragon_quest_builders_art.jpgThis games has been on my “to play” list since it released. I found out about this game when I was looking around for Minecraft-styled games.

Now, next year, this game will be ported to the Nintendo Switch. And not only that, the sequel for this game will release for the Switch as well.

Consider me a happy camper now, since I enjoy the Dragon Quest games quite a lot and I enjoy myself some Minecraft as well. This cross over works quite well when I look to the various let’s plays I have seen.

I didn’t watch a ton of content on this game, since I wanted to avoid spoiling the whole game for me. Especially now that I know that this game is coming to the Nintendo Switch.

#4 – Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings (Switch) (Release: 27 March 2018)

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When I look to the teasers for this game, I get the impression that the gameplay will be similar to Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.

I do realize there will be differences, but I think it’s too late. I already made up my mind. This game is one that I would love to have in my collection.

This game looks right up my alley and I think that this will be one of my first Switch games I play in 2018, since it comes out right around the date I’m planning to buy a Switch.

So, if this game would come bundled with the Switch, I think I won’t hesitate for a second. This game will become a part of my collection for sure!

#3 – Ace Attorney (Switch) (Release: 2018)

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While there aren’t a lot of concrete details for this game, there are more rumors and speculations that this will happen.

What’s even more, in the article I linked, there are reports of Capcom planning THREE Ace Attorney titles for the Switch and to release them all in 2018.

It’ll be quite interesting to see what happens in 2018 for our Ace Attorney. If remakes/ports will come out for the Nintendo Switch or new games. I wouldn’t mind any port of games, but I would love Ace Attorney 7 to come in 2018. Or at least a new main game, even when it’s a spin-off. So, please Capcom, make it happen!

#2 – The Swords Of Ditto (Steam) (Release: 2018)

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When I first saw the trailer for this game, I just fell in love with the charm and art-style this game has.

This game is a RPG where you set out to defeat the evil Mormo. In this Action-RPG you can play solo and co-op. And it’s the “co-op” part that interests me the most. I was looking for a new game to play with my friends and I think this will be the perfect game for us to play.

Just take a look at the Steam Store page and I think you might understand why this game sounds so interesting to play with friends. At least, I think that it’s interesting!

#1 – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PC/Switch) (Release: 2018)

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Ah, the Castlevania series is one of my favorite action games ever made.

While I was afraid for the future of the series, I was quite pleased when I saw that one of the producers of the games is going to create this new game. Koji Igarashi, thank you for doing this!

While I found out about this game after the KickStarter ended, I am still very exited to play this game. So, I’ll be surely looking forward to this game. The only thing that I still have to decide is that I get this game on the Switch or on my PC. Or maybe both, if my wallet allows it.

While I know that this game started it’s live as a KickStarter, I’m praying that this game will not do a “Mighty Number 9” but a “A Hat In Time” and a “Shovel Knight”. Make it a great game guys, feel free to delay it when it needs more polish!

Final thoughts

Besides a few new games, it look like 2018 will most likely be a “catch-up” year for me. I’m mostly interested in ports and remakes to the Switch, PC and 3DS. It might be a good idea to play a bit of of catch-up with my endless list that is called my backlog.

I can’t wait to see what 2018 will have in store for me. Since next year will be a special year for me. I’ll reveal why when the time comes, but for now, let me say that I am looking forward to 2018 and I can’t wait to see what it will throw in my way.

Thank you so much for reading. If you wonder what my favorite games where in 2017, you will have to wait until tomorrow at 8PM Brussels time. It shall be revealed then.

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!

 

First Impression: Project Zero – Maiden Of The Blackwater (Wii U) ~ Snap Those Ghosts

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Official website

While I know that Halloween is over and that we are extremely close to another holiday, that is supposed to bring happiness and joy to people, that doesn’t stop me from talking about a scary game. I had heard a lot about this game and also a lot about the franchise, Fatal Frame. In fact, this is the 5th entry into the series. Thankfully, you don’t need to know about the previous games in this series to enjoy this game. When I saw in my local game store that I was able to pick up the collectors edition with everything in it for a cheap price, I don’t hesitate. I mean, I’m a game collector after all. In any case, I think it’s time to take a look at this game since this game did something with me. Do I regret buying this game or have I been enjoying it? Let me explain while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Scared-y cat

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So, I’m not that good with horror games. I get spooked too easily and generally, my play style doesn’t fit the more careful way of planning and strategizing that you need to survive in horror games.

Now, in recent memory, there were a few horror games that actually made me want to play horror games. First, there was this psychological horror game called 999: 9 Hours 9 People 9 Doors then there was this, somewhat over the top, horror visual novel adventure series called Corpse Party. Then I noticed something if I’m able to get invested in the story, I tend to enjoy myself. Also, I tend to enjoy Japanese horror games more than western horror games.

That’s what happened almost right away in Project Zero. The story is pretty well written and takes various twists and turns. Some I had seen coming, but the pacing and execution are great.

You play this game in chapters, called “drops” in this game where you visit a cursed Japanese mountain. You can play as a few different characters, but there are no big differences between them gameplay-wise. The difference is in the story.

In this game, you can choose between English and Japanese voice acting. I honestly tried both and I think they are both great. For my overall gameplay, I tend to choose the English voice acting since I enjoy looking at the cutscenes on my big TV and the subtitles are just a bit too small on there.

So far, I’m at the 5th drop and I have been enjoying the story. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has to throw at it. I also like how you can get some backstory with the various notes you find. While some people don’t enjoy reading huge walls of text, in this game there aren’t too many and they aren’t too long to read either.

Snap those ghosts

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Something I really like in this game is that this game doesn’t have a limited amount of ways to defend yourself and still stay challenging.

In this game, you solve different cases related to the haunted mountain. While you can explore the mountain, most of the game is somewhat linear. You can do some exploration but not too much.

During your exploration, you can get attacked by different ghosts. Now, you can choose to avoid most of them, but others you will have to “kill”. This you can do by snapping various pictures of them. The better you get the ghost and it’s face into the frame, the more damage you do.

There is also a point system and these points can be crucial to your survival. The better pictures you take and the better combo’s you make, the more points you earn. You can use these points to not only upgrade your camera to do more damage and defeat the boss or the stronger ghosts more easily. You can also use your points to buy various healing and supportive items at the start of a chapter. So, if you need more healing items or supportive items AND you want to upgrade your camera, you better make good pictures of the ghosts.

There is a “risk and reward” system here. If you let the ghost come close, you will get damaged, but you also do more damage. So, you really have to think wisely when you get in to combat.

While you are exploring the area, you can choose if you have your screen mirrored on the Wii U gamepad or if a map is shown. Something I really like during combat is how the game shows a more general view on the TV screen and a more zoomed in view if you look through the Wii U gamepad. You really get the feeling you are snapping pictures of those ghosts using the Wii U gamepad as a camera.

The camera is a game mechanic used to it’s fullest in the game. You will also need to use it to bring items from the ghost world to ours. There are a few other mechanics too, but I leave those for you to discover if you decide to play this game.

Shivers

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The visual presentation of this game is extremely well done. The game looks amazing on the Wii U. The game really drew me in with its visuals and animations.

While I have seen some clipping in the animations, when it comes to humans picking up objects, there are a few moments where I thought the game could use just a bit more visual polish. Especially the animation of the hair I found lacking. Almost everything on the body is well animated, even down to a shaking hand to simulate shivers in the characters when they are picking up objects. But, the hair mostly stays static, as blobs to the head of the characters.

Also, there are some invisible walls in this game. While I understand that there are some invisible walls to avoid players running off cliffs, sometimes they are used in places I think they weren’t needed. For example, there was one place where you had a room with an altar and a pool in front of it. You were unable to go to the altar since in the middle of the pool, there was an invisible wall.

Those are the only complaints that I have when it comes to the visual presentation of this game. And most of them, don’t really bother me that much. I really think they did a great job when it comes to the visual presentation. It even creeped me out sometimes.

Besides the visual design, the sound design does a lot to creep you out too. In most cases, when a spook happens, some loud noise or sound effect plays. That’s not always the case in this game. This game can play tricks on you with moving dolls or just putting silent ghosts just right around the corner.

The sound design also helps out in the cutscenes and regular gameplay. You get additional sound effects playing through the speakers of the gamepad, making some situations even more creepy.

Overall, I think it’s quite clear with all the praise I’m giving the game, that I’m enjoying this game. But, there is one thing that I think really brings this game down. Sometimes, the controls in combat aren’t as smooth as they are supposed to be.

I had times where my gamepad lagged behind what was happening on the screen or the other way around. Also, the gamepad didn’t always follow my movements when I went from side to side. This caused some damage that could have been avoided. While I write it off as my character packing and being flustered, I can see some gamers being frustrated at this and stop playing the game altogether.

The game has two difficulty levels. You can play this game on easy and on normal. Maybe, you unlock a higher difficulty when you beat this game, but I haven’t done that yet.  In addition to that, I assume that you unlock the costumes also at the end of the game. Since I’m at the 5th drop and not one costume unlocked. Maybe, I’m overlooking something here.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I left out in this review since I think it would be more fun for you to discover while you are playing the game for yourself. This game is totally worth playing if you enjoy adventure games and games with a good story. But beware, for spooky moments.

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