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Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

downloadToday I want to talk about something extremely objective subjective. Something not a lot of people agree 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, 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 now-a-days? That’s has two reasons. The first reason is because games just got more accessible. Because 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 challenge. Sadly enough, not all games do this. In most games, the difficulty settings have a small explanation to what each level means.

And this brings me to the second reason why games are too easy now-a-days and that’s 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 get slimmer with every game I play.

Is this a bad thing? 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 are the Super Mario World games. In these games, you learn by playing the game. You might have heard this explanation in various other video’s 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 is 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, were 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, the 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 me 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 conclusion that there are 4 types of difficulty in my eyes.

The first type is 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 unintended difficulty. This was 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 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 forth 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 at the final boss. This annoying battle gets such a difficulty spike 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 the 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 is really thin and makes 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 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 now-a-days 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 what everybody thinks. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic on 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 included it in the next article. And with that said, I think I’ll really end off this article. Thank you everybody for helping me putting 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.

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The Real Neat Blog Award – 5 YEARS of NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog Special

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Well, it hasn’t taken long. Since the Sunshine Award from a few weeks back, I got another community award. Thanks to my buddy from IPlayedTheGame, I got the “The Real Neat Blog Award”. I’m so thankful for all the praise my blog is receiving lately. Also, this is a special article for my 5th year I’m writing this blog. Yes, today marks the day that I’m writing this blog for 5 years now. Anyways, let’s get to answering the questions. 

Question 1 – What is your earliest gaming memory?

The earliest games I’m able to remember are Pac-Man on the gameboy, Freddi Fish, Tetris, Lego Island… But the biggest memory for me is Pokémon Blue of course. I still have my childhood cartridge to this day.

I remember individual moments like where I was standing or who I was visiting when playing certain games but they are too short to actually write a small story about. For example, I remember beating the first level of Pac-Man on the Gameboy while standing in the doorway at my grandparents house.

rollercoaster_tycoon_screenshot

I remember playing a lot of casual games on my early computers as well. Rollercoaster Tycoon, Age of Empires, Midtown Madness 2, Puzzle & Magical Inlay, Feeding Frenzy, Iggle Pop… to name a few.

I played a lot on the computer with my sister. We had limited time on the computer and when when one’s time was up, we switched and watched the other play. Ah, great times. I still remember when we got our hands on Rollercoaster Tycoon. In our copy, the game has a glitch on Windows XP where you were unable to load saved games. So, that’s why we always left the computer on in the hopes that nothing drastic happened while we were out. So, we could win the scenario.

Question 2 – When did you start blogging and why?

I talked about this question before. Actually, this question I have answered in a recent interview. Click here to read more about it.

Question 3 – What feature do you wish any of your consoles had that they currently don’t?

NekoJonez's SwitchWell, I have two things. At first, since I recently bought a Nintendo Switch, I’m loving the easy screenshot and share feature. This is going to help me a lot when I’m going to talk about Nintendo Switch games. Now, I wish all my retro game consoles had that. Now, I need to either use an emulator to create them or use press pictures.

Another feature is something a lot of collectors would love. A backup feature, as in, you are able to back-up your games onto a hard drive of the console. With some restrictions, like you are only able to back it up to one console.

This would be so extremely handy for me since I’m always afraid that some old game discs might get too scratched and become worthless. In addition to that, it would be so handy to not have to switch cartridges around without having to resort to illegal flashcards.

Question 4 – Name a movie that you wish had a video game made after it and what developer would you want to make it and why?

Now, I’m not that big of a movie guy myself. I don’t watch a lot of movies since I’m mostly watching YouTube or anime series. On the odd occasion, I watch an anime movie or a movie related to a game.

One of the last movies I saw in theater was the Tomb Raider movie. While the reviews are mixed, I have to say that it’s a good enjoyable action movie. But it helps if you are a fan of the series and/or have played the reboot games.

Now, I’m going to cheat a little bit and turn the question on it’s head. A game I wish they created a movie from. I could cheap out and say “Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine“, but I’m already waiting for the 5th Indiana Jones movie in 2020.

I think my friends of LaterLevels will agree with me on this one, but I would love an animated movie of the Monkey Island series. I wouldn’t be able to name THE game they should make a movie out off, since I have only played three titles in the series.

At the other hand, a movie of the Broken Sword games would be mindblowing as well. Or a Bioshock movie. Well, truth to be told, I have quite a long list of games I want to see turned into movies. As long as LucasArts does the movie side of things. I wish they were still around, since I really loved their movies and style of production. Yes, they are still around but only to make Star Wars movies it seems.

Question 5 – Do you have a Games Room or Corner? If so let us see it and show your favourite thing in there?

These pictures are from February 2018. My collection has expanded a bit since then, but the way I store them doesn’t look a lot different. My bedroom has been transformed into my gaming room. I also use my bedroom to write, study, practice my lines for the plays I’m in… and yes, to sleep too.

My project for this summer is fixing the cables of my consoles. It’s too big of a mess right now. I want to label them and hide them a bit from sight.

This answer is going to be a bit cheap, but my favorite thing in my game room/office is my collection. When I have time off work or some free time I love picking up a game I haven’t played in a while or want to try out. Most of those games turn into an article anyways.

These pictures isn’t everything of my gaming collection. I haven’t included my figurine cabinet, console games cabinet, better pictures of my handheld cabinet… One day I will organize them all a bit more and create an index for you people to take a look at.

Question 6 – Do you have a Child or a Pet? Which character do you name it after?

SpartaSleeping

I’m currently 25 years old and I think that’s a bit too soon to have children. One day, I wish to have children of my own. In a certain way, you could say that I’m already a proud “father” actually.
A proud father of Sparta.

My pet cat who is one of the nicest and most laid-back cats I have ever met. I have loads of personal pictures of her sleeping on family members with her belly exposed. For people who don’t know a lot about cats, if a cat exposes his/her belly, it’s out of trust. Since, that’s the most unprotected parts of their bodies. She means a lot to me.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will see the odd picture of her. To answer the question for where she has her name, well… Thanks to this song. The Mean Kitty Song by SMP Films. It’s about a cat who is playfully aggressive. And when I first met Sparta, she was playfully aggressive. She wanted to play but after a while she feel asleep on my lap.
There are a lot of stories I can tell about Sparta, but to avoid that this article becomes too long, I’ll keep those for another article.

Question 7 – What keeps you going when Gaming?

Besides the snack and soda’s, the thing that keeps me going is either the entertainment value of the game or the thought of: “this will make for an interesting article.”I’m always extremely busy with my work, personal life, theater group or my blog. So, having something where I can be in another world is an amazing feeling to me.

In addition to that, the nostalgia rush I get sometimes. In addition to that, games lately are able to hit some personal level. I love when that happens, when a certain message of a game pulls my emotional strings. A Hat In Time, Super Mario Odyssey, Ace Attorney Dual Destinies,  The Legend of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series are just a few games that were able to bring me to pull those emotional strings.

Besides that, the people I meet because of gaming. I love adore this community, with flaws included. I have met a lot of people and learned a lot. We gamers are able to play games with complete strangers and trust them completely to work together towards one goal. Which is having fun. Of course, there are those rotten apples giving us a bad reputation.
What also keeps me going is the interesting and new approaches games take at entertaining us. When I think I’m able to say, this game is like this game… I find a load of games doing something completely new and unique. And when everything comes together in one game paying homage to previous titles, I get overly nostalgic again.

And that were all my answers. So, it’s my time to nominate five blogs I really like, huh? Well:

LaterLevels

OverthinkerY

Hundstrasse

Sheikah Plate

AmbiGamingCorner

Feel free to answer the same questions or talk about something blog/game related. I’m really curious what you guys and girls are going to say about this.

In any case, let me finish this article with saying a few words of gratitude. In the 5 years I have been writing for this blog, I have reviewed over 200 games. I have gotten over 55k visitors, over 400 followers on Twitter and 180 other bloggers following me.

Besides that, I have been called a great gaming blog by two external sources. Both FeedSpot and MarketInspector placed me on great lists with the best of the best. Besides that, I got various community awards and on other blogs I get praised. I even got quoted on Steam Store pages! 

Thank you so much for everything. Everybody who visits my blog and leaves a comment, you put a smile on my face. Thanks to you, I’m proud of what I’m able to achieve here. At the start of this journey, I had no idea that I would be able to meet so many people and have so much fun with my favorite hobby of them all, writing.

I also gotten a lot of opportunities from various developers to review their games and I learned a lot about game design and how the gaming industry works. Besides that, I got a lot of games for my collection as well, which I don’t mind since I love expanding that.

So, thank you dear readers for making for giving me this experience. I can’t wait to provide you with more articles about the games I have been playing or the random thoughts I have about the gaming industry. I hope you enjoyed the ride so far, since I’m going to keep going.

This year, I got the greatest form of flattery. Imitation. Well, to be more exact, the copying of my articles on other blogs and websites. Thankfully, those 5 (yes, there are 5 now) sites are down and hopefully I don’t have to spend a lot more time with that. But, to finish this article; I want to leave you with a quote that the giver of this award said to me on Twitter when all of this copying went down:

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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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Review: Bioshock 2 (PC) ~ Daddy, please!

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Wikipedia pageOfficial website

Back in late 2015, I wrote an article on Bioshock. Then, in middle of 2016, I wrote my review of Bioshock Infinite. Now, today I want to talk about the 2nd game in the series, Bioshock 2. It’s no secret that I love the Bioshock series. It’s one of my favorite game series. Weirdly enough, this game is pretty well received by the press, yet some Bioshock fans and gamers hate this game. Now, in this review, I’ll tell you my honest opinion. Is this game good or is it bad? So, let’s go to Rapture again to try and crack this case. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article. 

Footnote: for this review, I played the original version. I have beaten the original but I haven’t beaten the remaster yet.

Daddy, please!

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8 years after the events of Bioshock, Subject Delta is woken up by little sisters. You thought that all little sisters were saved in the original Bioshock? Well, some things happened and now, you play the role of Subject Delta and you have to save the day. Not only that, you are a Big Daddy without a Little Sister.

This time, the plot is quite different from the original Bioshock. Personally, I think it’s well written. It touches on some subjects that make the story quite interesting. There is also a section where you play through the eyes of a little sister. This was a great idea. It made the setting of Bioshock more real to me.

The voice acting was, to be honest, hit or miss. There were moments that the actors delivered the line perfectly. But some lines could have been directed better. In those moments, the voice acting missed the soul of the character or the game. But, this problem might be because, like many others, I compare it to the original Bioshock. The voice acting in that game was exceptional.

The biggest issue with the story is that it’s bland at some points. I remember the introduction and the ending part of Bioshock 2. But, I don’t remember a lot of the middle section of the game, in terms of the story that is.

A bit more of Rapture

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In this game, you discover a bit more of Rapture. You visit locations that you haven’t visited in the first game. Some locations are quite memorable. Yet, like I said before in this review, I don’t always remember what happened in those sections of the story.

One thing I don’t remember is multiplayer. Simply because I haven’t played any match online. But, when I read on the Bioshock Wiki, it sounds interesting. The only thing remember is that there aren’t a lot of players online though.

Visually, this game still looks great. If you find that the game needs a visual upgrade, the remastered edition. But be warned, the remastered version of this game lacks the multiplayer.

The animations in the game look amazing. The animation quality of the original Bioshock has returned and still looks as great as ever in this game. If it works that is. What I mean here is that sometimes, the animation bugged out for me and repeated three or four times before ending. Especially when the Splicers opened a door with a blow torch. In various occasions, the animation kept playing where it ended.

Overall, the visual presentation is pretty great. If you can stand the occasional visual glitch, that is. I especially love the design of the Big Sisters. This is a new type of enemy that you encounter in this game. They are pretty scary enemies to deal with since they are even more powerful than the Big Daddy’s. They can hurt you pretty bad.

If you want to beat this game, you will have to give or take 15 hours of game time. If you rush this game, you get 11 hours. This game has some replay value since you can explore various areas for missed tonics and plasmids.

Gameplay-wise, this game plays very similarly to the first Bioshock.  This game is a shooter as well. You will have various tonics at your disposal to play around with. There is also a new gameplay section in this game. Since you play as a Big Daddy, you can drop off your Little Sister at “an angel”. At this moment, you drop off your Little Sister while she collects ADAM. Then this game turns into a “defend the point” shooter. A lot of enemies come in various locations and attack you. If they reach the girl, she doesn’t continue to gather the ADAM. I think this would have been better if you had the possibility of losing your little sister then. That would make this section tenser.

You are a Big Daddy now

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There is one gameplay change I like but hate at the same time. I’m happy that they changed the hacking mini game into something else. But, I hate what they changed it into. They changed it into a reaction based

You have to press a button while the arrow is in the green section to continue hacking the machine. The issue I have with it is that the landing areas get so small, it gets very hard. I don’t have the best reflexes or rhythm and I tripped more alarms than necessary.

In this game, you also play with a lot of new weapons compared to the original game. Of course, you are a Big Daddy in this title.  The same counts of plasmids and tonics. I loved the “Hypnotize” and “Electro Shock” plasmids a lot. I have used them the most.

The “Decoy” plasmid was pretty handy as well in the sections where you needed to protect your Little Sister. Switching between plasmids and weapons is pretty great. Like the controls of this game. I didn’t have any issues with them.

Something I didn’t need to complain about was the UI of this game. Every option was easy to find and everything that needed to be displayed was displayed. You can also disable parts of the UI if you want a more immersive experience.

The difficulty curve in this game is pretty good. There were some sections that were pretty tense, but I enjoyed the gameplay a lot. While the adventure itself might be short, there are so many different ways to kill your enemies making it a somewhat unique experience each playthrough. You can also research Little Sisters after you killed the accompanying Big Daddy.

Sadly enough, the whole ride isn’t enjoyable. Some moments of the gameplay are quite boring. There are sections where you need to go from point A to B under water. I hated those parts since they felt as filler gameplay. But, I can understand the inclusion for two reasons.

One, the add to the character of a Big Daddy. You saw them repairing broken parts of Rapture in the original game in the ocean.

Two, they can be used as what developers call a “Loading Gate”. These moments give the game time to unload the old part of the game and load in the new part of the game. This is a trick to save resources.

The soundtrack of this game is pretty decent. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the music from the time period that Bioshock takes place in, but the themes played during the combat and exploration sections are lovely.

The sound-effects of this game are pretty well done as well. I played this game with some gaming headphones and I have to say, that they really helped to immerse me into the game. Thanks to the sound design, I jumped out of my skin quite a few times when I didn’t see an enemy coming or when I was battling with a Big Sister.

Also, this game got a DLC with one additional story. It’s called Minerva’s Den. This DLC adds a 5-hour campaign to the main game and it’s pretty decent. I have seen and played worse DLC’s. I haven’t completely beaten it yet, but I’m near the end of the DLC. If you are planning to buy and play this game; I highly recommend that you buy the DLC as well. You will get more out of your game.

That said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time to get to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-Sometimes the game can be pretty buggy. Mostly the animations suffer from this.

-The voice acting is not good.

-The new hacking minigame is just bad.

-Parts of the story aren’t memorable, which is a shame since it’s an interesting story.

-The multiplayer is removed in the remaster.

The good:

+ Addictive gameplay with the new plasmids, weapons, tonics and Little Sisters.

+ The game looks still pretty great visually.

+ Amazing sound design and a great soundtrack.

+ Longer than your typical shooter.

+ …

Final Thoughts:

Is Bioshock 2 a bad game? Not in my opinion. Let me explain it this way, Bioshock 2 isn’t like Half Life 2. The sequel isn’t better than the original game.

Sidenote: let me be clear with calling Half Life 2 better than Half Life 1, I hear more praise for the second game compared to the first. That’s all.

Bioshock 2 has problems, it lacks polish in some areas and you can hear that in the voice acting and see that in the various minor bugs left in the game. On the Wikipedia article, you can read an interesting development history of this game. The developers had quite a big task ahead of them. How are you going to follow up the amazing Bioshock?

I personally think that this game is an amazing sequel that has some flaws. If you enjoyed Bioshock, there is a chance you might enjoy the sequel. Give it a chance, since this game has some amazing moments. And if you want the best visual experience, you can play the remastered version. About the remastered version, Drakulus wrote a pretty interesting article on the remaster of the original. You can read it here.

That’s everything for this review folks! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading and 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: 70/100

Is that Pacman’s Liver You’re Wearing?

thepinmans.jpgLondon, United Kingdom: The Games Collector, a UK-based producer of both modern and retro gaming-related products is running a crowdfunding campaign to bring the music of Mel Croucher to the masses.

Who is Mel Croucher? Only the father of the British gaming industry. At a time when most computers were being used to calculate the compound interest on the revenue from a year’s worth of potato sales, Mel was selling his eclectic range of games for the ZX Spectrum through eye-catching adverts on the back pages of the popular computing magazines of the day.

What made Mel’s games particularly memorable (for those who do actually remember them) was that they often included audio tracks on the reverse side of the game cassette. From original compositions to hilarious parodies, there was something for everyone. Leider of the Pac told the tragic tale of Pacman’s lover, who wears the yellow character’s internal organs as a memento after witnessing his death in a car crash (yes, really). Put Cat Out Mother, It’s on Fire Again surprised no-one with its mention of a cat on fire, and Three Point One Four Two sounds vaguely familiar but none of us actually remember it.

Now The Games Collector has decided to inflict these sonic gems on anyone willing to part with a reasonable amount of their hard-earned wages, making the collection available on vinyl, CD and even a cassette tape for real fans of the era. In total there are five albums (two are in fact doubles) that make up Insπred: The Collective Works of Mel Croucher.

The sequel to Mel’s most famous game – Deus Ex Machina – featured a cast including Christopher Lee and Joaquim de Almeida, and one of the highlights of the collection is a real life ‘Evil Laugh Off’ between the two of them – almost but not quite justifying the asking price by itself.

Interested parties can reserve their collection through the campaigns crowdfunding page at https://igg.me/at/pimania A preview of Mel’s music is available on Soundcloud at http://bit.ly/2oHZlae

About The Games Collector

The Games Collector Ltd is the result of decades of playing and creating games and the obsessive collecting of memorabilia by its founders. With a product line-up featuring exclusive, exquisite and highly desirable collectibles, the company aims to bring fans the items they long for, and maybe even a few they didn’t know they wanted!

First Impression: imprint-X (PC) ~ Press That Button

bg.pngOfficial website

Today, I’m bringing you something special. Earlier this month, the developers of this game send me a mail with a review copy of this game. But due to a very busy week, I was unable to get this article out in time. Thank you Morgondag for providing me with a review copy of this game. So, in this article, I’ll tell you guys and girls my honest opinions on the game. Oh, as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts about the game and/or the content of this article.

Side note: This game is also available on iOS & Android

2nd side note: I wrote this article as a sort of feedback/review article for the developers and let you guys and girls know about the game!

Puzzle and reaction game

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So, the story of this game is rather interesting. The Steam Store page description tells us this:

A robotic virus is raging! Nano Bots called Wardens are enslaving people! You are one of the hacker clones, saving intellects by hacking into infected brains and defeating the mysterious Wardens; figuring out their correct button sequences.

The only issue I have with the story is that it should be more present in the game. I didn’t really know that this game had a story until I read the Steam Store page. I was able to make out some parts of the story with the visuals, but somethings make a bit more sense when you know the story. A little introduction movie could add so much in my opinion.

Something I really have to praise the developers of this game for is the UI. First of all, there are 6 worlds. The main menu’s background looks different when you beat a world. I seriously love that touch! Secondly, the developers use symbols instead of words in their options menu. Apart from the gameplay options, you won’t find any words! I would only change a few some minor things in the options menu and they have to do with the language options.

  1. I would sort them alphabetically.
  2. I would show the name of the language in their native name. Like my own mother language is Dutch, I would display that as “Nederlands”.
  3. The Chinese Traditional language doesn’t fit right in the box. The “L” is dropped off, this could be fixed by making that box just a bit larger.

But the rest of the UI is pretty well done. So, apart from the things I mentioned above, it’s perfect!

In this game, you have 100 levels to conquer. So, to win a level, you have to press the buttons in the right order. When you do it out of order, you loose a life. The goal of this game is to press the buttons in the right order and/or at the right time. In most levels, the visuals give you a hint in what orders to press. But this game is pretty forgiving. If you fail a level, you can give it another shot right away. So, this game isn’t frustrating at all. Some levels can be pretty difficult to get the timing right, but once it clicks, the solution will come to you.

Chilling with this game

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For a small developer team, this game looks amazing. The space theme that’s used in the game looks quite nice. It fits the story and atmosphere the game is trying to tell.

In terms of the visuals, I would make one change. You are able to zoom in and out with the scroll wheel. But, you can zoom so far out, that the background stops and you can see the edges of the level. I would restrict the zooming so you are unable to see that edge. Just look at this screenshot if you don’t understand what I’m trying to say.

The music in this game is really relaxing. I consider adding this game to my music library. This music is great to listen to when I want to relax or just chill out. Thanks to the music, I was in a sort of trance while playing this game. The music and the visuals click so well. It didn’t bother me that much that some sound effects sounded generic and sounded like stock sound effects, almost the whole sound design is pretty well done.

Something that is a big positive with this game is that the developers really listen to the players of their games. When I was preparing for this article, I sent them a bug report. And they fixed it before the game released. Also, when you write something on the Steam forums, they will reply and interact with the community! And that’s a big plus in my book.

Clicking away

screenshot16.pngThe controls of this game are quite simple. You only need the mouse for this game. I recommend playing this game with an actual mouse, since I tried this game with a laptop trackpad and it’s just too difficult to play. But, trackpads aren’t designed to play games with in the first place.

In this game, you have various powerups. So far, I have played with one powerup. And that’s the slow down time powerup. Honestly, this is one of the biggest issues with the game. The powerup system. In my opinion, it’s quite unclear when and how you receive a powerup. Sometimes something floats over the screen and when you click it, you receive the slow down time powerup.

My first impression of this game is pretty good. This game might look and sound boring and repetitive, but believe me… Once you give it a chance, it might grow on you. Like it did with me. At first, I wasn’t enjoying myself, but the more I played, the more I enjoyed this game. And I honestly think that with a bit more polish; this game could be even better. Also, if you like what you see and read, this game is pretty cheap to get… So, what are you waiting for?

So, that’s everything I said everything, I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank the developer again for giving me a review copy. I enjoyed the game a whole lot. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

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

Minecraft_Story_Mode_Logo.pngOfficial website

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

This isn’t Minecraft!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sit through this game

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of the package.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My TOP 10 games of 2016 – Part 1: 10 – 6

2016.jpgJust wow, 2016 flew by so fast. I barely noticed that December started. So, it’s time to look back on a great year in my life. 2016 was something else. Both on my blog and in my personal life, a lot of things happened that will make 2016 extremely special to me. In my opinion, it’s one of the best years I had so far. So, this week I want to take a look at the bottom 5 games of my top 10 games  I played this year. Oh, one major footnote here. These games are games I started this year. If I started or played a game in another year, it’s not on my list. Also, since I play a lot of retro games, the games on this list didn’t have to be released in 2016! In any case, enough stalling with this intro. It’s time to take a look at a difficult to make top 10!

 #10: Ratchet And Clank (PS2)

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First impression article

Past summer, I took two weeks off from work and I was home alone. In those two weeks; I chilled, updated my blog, worked on some personal things, watched some anime, spent some time with friends and family and above all… I played a lot of games.

My goal was mostly to play the games I had bought in the last years at garage sales but never really gave a chance. One of the best titles I played in that summer was Ratchet and Clank.

This game is a platformer, but honestly, I don’t really like platformers all that much. So, it’s double surprising to me I enjoyed it that much. I haven’t finished the game just yet, but I’m planning to do that in the near future! Also, I heard a lot of good things about the sequels of this game, so I’m looking forward to playing those. Now, I have to look for a copy of the second game in the original trilogy since I don’t own that one. So, I can’t wait to continue to play this enjoyable and charming game.

 #9: Lego City Undercover (Wii U)

lego_city_undercover10Article on the 3DS sequel

Back in 2013, I watched a let’s play of this game. I watched it from the first episode to the last episode. I enjoyed it that much that I decided to go and buy the game… Three years later. The main reason that I delayed my purchase was because I knew all the plot details and I thought that I wouldn’t have as much fun with the game when I bought it. So, three years later, I see the game at my local game shop for 10€ and I thought to myself, why not.

So, when I returned home, I started playing this game and honestly, I enjoyed myself a whole lot. Thanks to the open nature of this game, I can explore and play the game how I want. And I discover new things and have a unique experience.

I’m halfway through the game and I dare to say that this is one of my most favorite Lego games I have ever played. The humor and charm of this game are just so well made, I have a tough time putting this game down. Here and there I play for a few minutes and those quickly turn into a play session of two or three hours. So, yeah. Oh, and during the play sessions of this game, various memories come back of me watching the playthrough. This game is so worth it to play it!

 #8: Rise Of The Tomb Raider (PC)

2000900263Link to my review of this game

So, this year a sequel came out of the reboot of the Tomb Raider games. The Tomb Raider franchise is one of my favorite franchises ever made. Since they are an amazing adventure and exploration games. I love exploring caves and having a big kick-ass adventure. It’s one of the reasons why I’m thinking about upgrading my video card.

But this game has personal meaning for me too. I reviewed this game to celebrate my 3rd year of blogging on this blog and my 6th year of blogging.

If you want to know my thoughts about this game, I recommend that you read my review of it. Since I go more in depth on this game in that article.

But this game is one kickass ride and I can’t wait until my desktop is fixed later this month so I can start playing the DLC and finish up this game. But seriously, this game is one of the most kickass games I have played all year. It’s only surpassed by one…

 #7: Mirror’s Edge – Catalyst (PC)

mirrors-edge-catalyst-pc-pc-boxTalking about the original

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is one of the first games that nearly flew under my radar. If I didn’t check the pre-order list in one of my local game stores, I might have missed the release of this game completely.

Now, if you know me, I’m very bad at parkour. So, now you might wonder why I play Mirror’s Edge and it’s sequel. Well, that’s quite simple actually, the gameplay is just amazing.

I have gotten quite far into this game, but then the problems with my desktop started happening. Sadly enough, when your PC shuts down and you haven’t saved in this game, your save file corrupts and you have to start over from the beginning. So, yeah. When I get my fixed desktop back, I’ll surely start playing this game again.

Playing this game gave me a liberating feeling. I started improving my parkour skills and I started to miss fewer jumps. Even outside this game, I started improving in the parkour sections. After I played this game for over 10 hours, I was convinced. This kick-ass game had to get a spot in my top 10 games I played in 2016! So, that’s why it’s here. It’s just a very enjoyable game in my opinion and it gets a recommendation from me!

#6: Rayman Legends (Wii U)

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Link to the review

Each year, we do a secret Santa in my family. This game was on my wishlist. Honestly, I had hoped that I got one of the other games on my wishlist. Since this game didn’t interest me that much.

But, when I got it as a New Years present, I was happy and thankful that I got it. But, the moment I started playing it with my friends, then… my whole opinion changed.

The game started to grow on me. The charm, the visuals, the gameplay, the excellent use of the gamepad and the soundtrack are just a few things that make this game great. Honestly, I think that this version of the game is one of the best to play with friends. Since you have two playstyles that perfectly complement each other.

The most fun with this game, I had on my trip to Germany this year. The countless soccer matches we had, the adventure through the whole game, the music levels and so much more. The memories with this game are going to stay with me for a while! So, playing this game is truly worth it!

The end of part 1

Oh yes, the top 5 games I played in 2016 is even harder for me to make. But, you will have to wait until next week in order to find out which ones I think were the best games I have played in this year.

I’m so disappointed that 2016 is nearly at an end. Since this year wasn’t only filled with great games and amazing things for my blog, it was also filled with a lot of amazing personal things. Just scroll through my Twitter feed and you will see why.

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

 The rest of the list can be found here

First Impression: Golden Sun – Dark Dawn (DS) ~Sunny Weather

Goldensun3.jpgWikipedia entry

It’s time that I talk about a Golden Sun game. I have been putting this off for way too long. After I listed it in my favorite DS games ever made, I never talked about it. Apart from some music tracks here and there. It’s time to correct that. This week we are going to take a look at a game, I honestly thought I talked about before. In any case, the title and the box art here already gave it away.  It’s the 3rd game in the series, Golden Sun Dark Dawn. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article. 

(Note: to make this article more readable and understandable for everybody, I didn’t to use the lore of this game and used a generic term.)

Special powers

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The story of this game takes place a few years after the original two games. The story starts out simple with two children getting into some trouble with a sort of magical hang glider. But rather quickly, this story changes into your typical “save the world from doom” story.

While the story is your typical RPG story, it’s the journey and the writing that makes it memorable in my eyes. Each main character and side character has his or her own personality.

But what I really like about the story is how all the lore is explained in a non-intrusive way.  As you may have guessed, this game is a JRPG and because it’s the 3rd game in the series, there is a lot of lore.

But instead of the characters explaining the lore in some dialogue or some boring exposition dump, it gets underlined. When you tap that word, you get an explanation on the top screen to get you up to speed. Also, all those words go in your encyclopedia so you read them at your own pace. This is something that all other RPG’s should do! That way, there can be more focus on the story instead of explaining everything so newcomers can enjoy the game. This mechanic can also serve as a nice reminder for hardcore fans when he or she has forgotten the meaning of a word.

Fighting like on the GBA

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The gameplay, in general, hasn’t changed a lot compared to the GBA games. But in this game, some mechanics are tweaked for the newer hardware.

First of all, I want to talk about the exploration part of the game. The world this game takes place in is huge. I love exploring in this world. Since each town has it’s own unique feel to it.

The puzzles in this game are amazing in my opinion. The puzzles use the special powers you have in creative ways. I had to think outside of the box sometimes. And when you are stuck, one character gets a special power which allows you to see what objects you can interact with and which powers you should use.

Secondly, the battles are quite interesting as well. Since you have three possible attacks. You can fight with your weapons, use your magic and/or Djinn. Djinns are special creatures you find all over the world.

The mechanic of Djinn is one of the most interesting things in this game. I love trying to find them in towns, dungeons and in the overworld. But after you found them, a rather tricky meta-game starts. Depending to who you equip which Djinn, you can make a character even stronger or even weaker. Not only that, which magic powers they can use will also change. This makes for an interesting balancing exercise to make sure you have the perfect build to advance the plot.

When you use Djinn, they go into, what I like to call, the summing pool. When you have enough Djinn of a certain type, you can summon a more powerful creature. But beware, when a Djinn is in the summoning pool, the character it’s attached too, will lose its perks.

If this sounds interesting to you, this page on the Golden Sun wiki will explain it in more depth.

This world is golden

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The presentation and design of this game are top notch. While some animations take a little bit too long, I have no other complaint.

The world looks colorful and really pops out. The visual presentation in this game is one of the best I have seen on the system.

There is one issue I have with the design. And that’s that the menu system can sometimes be very annoying. It’s difficult to explain, but I felt that could have been done a lot better with more traditional menus. An example is the inventory system. It’s quite messy in my opinion. When you are looking for example for some herbs and you forgot to which character you have given them too. But it’s something I got used to.

The music and sound design of this game are excellent. The sound design gives this game the right charm it deserves. And the music, well, I have the soundtrack in my music library and I play a track here and there. It’s a very nice soundtrack.

The controls are great as well. Since you can use both buttons and the stylus. So you can choose and use the playstyle you prefer.

This game isn’t easy but isn’t difficult. But, I will give my final verdict on that when I finish the game. Since I know that there is another DS game that is rather easy but the final boss is extremely hard.

Something that could have been improved in this game is the frame rate. In some parts of the game, I saw some great frame rate drops. It mostly happens when there is way too much happening on screen at once. But it doesn’t happen very often thankfully.

Something I have to mention is that I had this game crash on me twice at the same spot. In the first cave you visit, I had this game crash on me. It was a great lesson in saving this game often. Also, thumbs up for having three save slots. Really helps!

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. When I beat this game, I might write a review. I hope you enjoyed reading this first impression as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you at another article on my blog, have a great rest of your day and until then: take care and game on!

Review: Rayman Legends (Wii U) ~ Amazing Platformer Gem

O1353925798.jpegfficial website

As a kid, I had a PC game called Rayman M. I enjoyed it from time to time, but my real interest with Rayman started when I heard so much about it from the YouTubers I watch and the other blogs I read. When my family was asking me what I wanted for Christmas, I gave them a whole list of Wii U titles I’m interested in. Honestly, I placed this game as an afterthought. But on the 1st of January, my grandparents surprised me with actually buying this game for me. I played a few levels just for fun, but then I stopped playing. But at the start of February of this year, I was together with my friends for a whole week and this game… Man, it changed the whole week. I think it’s time to take a good look at this game and talk about what I think of this game. Oh, and as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the review and/or the game in the comment section underneath this article. 

Teensies & lumps

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This game is a platformer. I haven’t played a lot of platformers, so in this review, I’m going to judge this game purely at what experience it gave me.

This game’s story, was in my opinion, a sort of an after-thought. The story is rather absent. Because this game is a sort of gallery of smaller separate games. Compare it to Kirby Super Star on the SNES. It has a compilation of different Kirby games which each have a separate story.

If you are into platformers with a decent story, you aren’t going to find it here. But it’s no negative for this game. The reason for that is, the game’s charm and presentation is enough to make a fun experience.

Everything in this game has meaning. Every collectable, every level and every challenge. When you beat a level or collect a certain amount of teenies and/or lumps, you unlock something or something happens. And sometimes, more then just one thing unlocked.

This makes the game very replayable. Since it’s very easy to miss a teensie in a level. They are hidden quite well. Too bad that missing one doesn’t stop you from reaching a golden cup on the level.

That touchpad

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This game is made with multiplayer in mind. Since in some levels, you can really benefit from a helper character.

Also, this game is one of the few games I have played where the Wii U gamepad isn’t used as a sort of second screen for the game or something among those lines.

When you play with more then one person, the person playing with the gamepad is a sort of helper character that needs to pull switches, move platforms or keep the characters from harm. And honestly, this can get pretty though. Sometimes, you need to react very quick.

At the other hand, the people who are playing as the non-helping characters have some separate levels that tests their reflexes. These are mostly time challenges or stages where a whole building is collapsing.

The two completely different playstyles is something I haven’t seen before that much. Surprisingly, it works flawlessly. I have beaten most of this game in multiplayer. And I can’t imagine how the singleplayer plays in some levels. Since this game is better played with at least one friend.

Something I really liked about this game is the presentation. Each area plays and feels very different. You have stealth sections, you have fast moving sections, you have sections where you need to “eat through candy” and so much more. Every area is extremely colorful and some stages felt very creative.

The animations of the stages and characters reminded me of the previous times I saw a Rayman game. They are really well done. I have no complaints there.

There is one part of the design that I didn’t like that much. While you have a lot of playable characters, there are just too much clone characters. They don’t play a lot different on the surface. They are just the same character in a different skin to me.

Jump that music

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The levels that were the most creative to me are the levels where you needed to you were playing through a music song and famous songs at that. Black Berry by Ram Jam is one of the first I came across. They were so much fun to play.

Speaking about music, the soundtrack and sound design of this game is very well crafted. The help to build the atmosphere of the game. In some levels I was actually sitting on the edge of my seat, cheering my friends on.. so we could beat that one level.

The difficulty is something I’m on the edge about. Some levels are pretty cruel and are impossible to win when you make one mistake. But there is a problem in there. Sometimes the controls work against you. But then again, the punishment for dying is just restarting the stage or starting for the last checkpoint. I always felt like we could try again when me and my friends failed a level.

Something that also provided hours of fun was the one true mini-game in the collection. The soccer game. It’s truly chaotic and it makes for hours of fun matches with friends. While I struggled with the controls sometimes, when I got the hang of them… It was extremely fun.

Until now, I was mostly praising the game but there are some things that could use some improvement. The digital manual is way too basic in my eyes.This is something that could help inexperienced players. But the biggest issue I have with it, is that it’s so barebones. I miss the color, screenshots and various other interesting things that other companies put in those manuals. Like Nintendo and Hylure Warriors or Super Mario Maker.Also, why is there a separate help function in the game and the manual. That help function gives information that isn’t in the manual…

And honestly, that is the biggest “issue” I have with this game. While the main campaign might be a bit short, the content that unlocks during the main campaign and the things you can collect gives this game a big replay value and makes the game have an amazing length.

The last thing I want to say about this game is that for 20€ here in Europe, this game is a steal. The amount of content is just mindblowing.

In any case, I think I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time for my conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

 – The manual isn’t the best in this game.

– This game loses a lot of its value in singleplayer.

– Some clone characters.

The good:

+ The amazing replay value.

+ This game has an amazing design. From the visuals to the sound design.

+ You get a lot of content for your money.

+ The gamepad isn’t used as a gimmick.

+ …

Final thoughts:

This game is one of the best and creative platformers I have every played. It brings some new ideas to the table for me. This game such serve as an example as an amazing platform game.

Most of the issues I have with this game are nitpicks. I honestly had trouble saying any negatives about this game.

If you want a real fun game for you and your friends, dust off that Wii U (or the console you have this game for) and play some Rayman Legends. For the cheap price of 20€ here in Europe, this game is truly a steal.

I wasn’t expecting this much polish in a Raymam game of 20€, but I was more than surprised. Play this game for yourself! I highly recommend it to each and every Wii U owner.  It’s really good.

Score: 99/100

First Impression: Tarzan (GBC) ~ Hide and SEEK.

TARZAN_gbc_E_IGN entry

So, one day on a garage sale, I saw this game. Since one of the very first games I ever played was Tarzan on the PC, I had to have this. I enjoyed this game quite a lot. And now, after all those years, I still have the same cartridge and the instruction booklet. I’m quite happy that I still have it since I have fond memories of it. Now, I have never finished this game since I couldn’t get passed the tiger battle as a kid. That’s why I’m writing a first impression. Anyways, enough stalling, let’s dive right into this game and let’s take a look at it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment on the game and or the content of this article. 

Collect-a-banana gameplay.

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The story in this game is amazing. They made it work on the Gameboy Color! They follow the movie quite perfect. The levels and stages are designed around some amazing scenes of the movie. As a kid, I watched that movie a lot.

While the characters don’t have a lot of development in the game, I still enjoyed this story quite a lot. I’m so glad that they know what the gameboy color was capable of doing.

The game is surprisingly longer then you would think. This game consists out of 23 stages. Which is quite long for a movie game. It’s actually quite good too. This game is a platformer, but not in your traditional sense. You need to collect a certain amount of banana’s before you can advance to the next stage. The amount of banana’s you need to collect are shown when you start the level.

You don’t always play as Tarzan, there are levels as Tuck… but…

The bad things.

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… There is barely any variation between the characters. They all play the same. Apart from Tuck’s hitbox being slightly bigger then Tarzan’s.

While the controls are really solid, the jump animation is a bit broken. Sometimes the jumps, well, don’t work. You can’t grab a ledge you see clearly in front of you or you clip right through the edge.

I don’t know it was my copy or not, but the sound was messed up. The music had like a missing line of melody. The noise it added was rather annoying.

A disappointment was that you couldn’t multiplayer the hide and seek mode. You had to pass your gameboy to your friend after you had hidden one of the characters. That was a major let down for me. Thankfully, this allowed me to play this game with my sister. Since we only had one copy of the game back then.

Another annoyance is that the checkpoints aren’t clearly indicated. Suddenly, you get shown that you reached a checkpoint, but it looked like a usual ledge or platform to me at first. Also, if i remember correctly, once taken is always taken.

Oh, don’t get me started on the password system. It’s quite creative by using symbols but why do they have a password system in place for this game? There were games like the Legend of Zelda who showed that they can make a saving system work on the Gameboy color!

 Is it bad?

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So, I have talked about most of the things this game does wrong. But it isn’t that bad. Thankfully, this game has some other good things. The animation blew my mind, and it still does today. What Disney displays here, is just amazing. The game feels tense and nice.

Looking at it now, you could argue that this game has the problem of design over gameplay. I mentioned earlier that some jumps didn’t work correctly. I think the culprit is that the animation is too good.

The difficulty curve is just perfect. While some parts might be a bit unforgiving, I don’t think that is such a bad thing. Do you seriously expect games from that age to be forgiving.

Visually, this game is nice to look at. The game is sometimes a maze… Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that a map would be nice. But at the other hand, I understand why there isn’t a map. Since you play inside the jungle, which is unmapped terrain in the first place. Also, Tarzan doesn’t know the whole jungle like the back of his hand.

Another thing I forgot to mention is how you go to the next level. As soon as you got all the required banana’s you don’t go to the next level automatically, you have to find your partner. He is hidden in sometimes a hard to reach area. This tests your knowledge of the level and you have to use all your skills.

What I don’t understand, and I can’t test it since I don’t have one, is that this game supports the Gameboy Printer. Yes, you can make images and print them. This is wasted potential in my eyes.

Before I wrap up this article, I think I should talk a bit more about the controls. Since there isn’t any tutorial, I liked it that you can find out what each button does on your own. But, as soon as you play, you will understand that this isn’t the best choice. You’ll have to play that in order to understand it. Otherwise I ruined each surprise.

Anyways, let’s wrap up this first impression here. I almost wanted to start the conclusion as I was writing a review. But I haven’t beaten this game, so I can’t write a review. Anyways, I think this game deserves a play. It isn’t perfect, but it’s good. It isn’t polished, but it’s fun.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. I wish you happy holidays and I look forward to seeing you guys soon. Since the Gameboy and Gameboy Color month will still go in January. I had a way more busy time then I expected, so I couldn’t write enough articles as I wanted for this theme. That’s why I decided that. But anyways~ Take care!

Review #027: Tomodachi Life (3DS) ~ Compare That Review

TomodachiLifeOfficial site – Forum review

Note: this review is longer then my usual ones. 

A while back, I was planning to take a break with my blog. A hiatus as it were. I would use the reviews the amazing people of Arpegi wrote and give them a nice place on my blog. Yet, it has never come to that. Yet, I have not forgotten about it. I had too much fun writing my article about Bravely Default and comparing it to the opinion of my friends over at GamersHive. Now, I’m going to compare my opinion of this game with Inu’s. So, I’ll be quoting her review through-out this review. While I haven’t beaten this game, I think I’m allowed to review this game. Why? Since you can’t really beat it. There is always something you can do. It’s like a sandbox game. Agreed, I don’t own this game for too long yet. Actually, I own it for 3 days now. But by then, you have seen most of the game. So, I hope you can understand why this isn’t going to be a first impression. Don’t worry, I played this game for over 10 hours. So, I think that’s a solid base to review it too. Anyways, time to get reviewing. Feel free to leave a comment on the article and or the game. And if you really liked it, consider making an account on our forums so you can talk to us. (Ps: all screenshots I use, are the screenshots made by Inu. They are amazing Inu) 

Is that me?

WoASG3QWhile Inu was writing her review of this game, she noticed that my Mii was on the box-art. It’s true. The Mii eating a hamburger next to “Life” looks a whole lot like my Mii. I don’t think I should look for a reason behind this, since I think it’s nothing more then a pure coincidence.

Story

Anyways, that said, let’s go on with the review. First section is the story. Yeah, the story. So, about the story…

Though there’s not much to the game in terms of backstory, there is one thing. You own an island.

– Inu

Thanks Inu. That’s exactly it. In this game you own an island. Compare the idea to a game like Animal Crossing. In that game you own a town. And that’s it for the story. You create the rest of the story yourself.

Now, the big difference with Animal Crossing and Tomodachi Life is control. You are more of a observer then a major in this game. You can control some things like if two Mii’s should start a friendship or not, what they eat or where their room is. But that’s really it.

So, in terms of story, Inu said it perfectly. She said, and I quote:

You made a resident that looks like yourself. You can make more residents. Everyone calls you <your Mii’s nickname>’s look-alike. Fun is to be had. But seriously, most of the “story” comes from just watching the Miis interact with each other and have fun. They make friends, go on dates, get married, play with the things you give them…and maybe, someday, have children of their own.

– Inu

Gameplay

gEr5xCqHonestly, this is part Sims, part Animal Crossing, part ‘sit and watch to see what they do’. A lot of the fun just comes from watching them.

– Inu

So, how to describe this game? Honestly, I would describe it more as a sort of Island Simulator – Nintendo Edition. This game is not for everybody. Like Goat Simulator, this game is only for you if it looks interesting to you. If it looks boring with reading reviews or looking at video’s, don’t buy it. You won’t have much fun with it.

I enjoy looking at how my actions and suggestions to the problems of my Mii’s influence my inhabitants. Now, is there more you can do? Well, honestly, I feel like this game has a solid foundation but didn’t build further.

There is quite a lot you can influence, but I feel that this game is lacking quite a lot. What is lacking you might ask? First, the fact that kids go on a part time job. How crazy is that? Well, that’s not really a lack of something, but it’s a complaint at least.

So, this game got a day 1 patch. And yet, I was able to find a strange bug in the game. After a few minutes of play, I saw that my clock was running a minute or two behind. So, I adjusted my clock in-game and continued playing. When I closed my 3DS, I noticed that my whole system clock was messed up. It was suddenly 1st January 2005. And the game adapted that.

To add to the confusion, the game didn’t like me changing the time. And here who go at a strong point of this game. You can’t simply cheat with time in this game. You will get punished. From not receiving new items to not having donations. That’s a great addition to the game.

A great feature in this game is how there is no real “dead time”. What I mean here is not that there aren’t any moments there is nothing to do with your Mii’s… rather, there is no time in the day where every Mii is sleeping OR where every shop is closed. Thank you Nintendo, this made the game trip friendly. This way you don’t have to wait to play this game when you are travelling by car to somewhere.

Lacking?

XIpVQqLSo, first of all, the treasures. It’s nothing really more then a way to earn money. You simply sell all your treasures at the pawn shop and done, you have a ton more money. Come on Nintendo! This is really lame. At least in Animal Crossing you have a museum!

A minor complaint is that you can’t use the down arrow to go your max amount of items in the pawn shop. Oh well, that’s a small annoyance.

Another thing that I really find lacking is in the controls. The controls aren’t very good.

The game controls about as fantastically as you can expect from Nintendo. Since the game is mostly menus, there’s not much you can screw up, though. They use the gyrowhatsit in the 3DS perfectly, too.

– Inu

Like I said earlier, I disagree Inu. The big issue here is that there is no button to take a screenshot of both screens. This makes you having to make a screenshot of the top screen and the bottom screen just seconds after each other and hope they match up. While this shouldn’t be that big of an issue, it still is an annoyance.

Also, I wish you could control the menu’s with the buttons. Yup, without a stylus, you’re pretty much screwed. Or you don’t mind pressing your touch screen with your fingers. There are some menu’s you can use with the buttons, but not everything. But in terms of the menu’s there is one huge issue. If you made a mistake, eg: giving the wrong present to a Mii, you can’t revert it. That’s a big annoyance.

Quickly about the rest

kPnJHnMOkay, before I end off this review, I want to quickly talk about the other things in this game. I can’t talk about the difficulty and the length since that’s not playing a major part in this game.

The game is pretty cute. The synthesizer voices add a lot of character to the Mii’s on your island. The graphics are quite nice too. But the strong point here is the animation. The Mii’s act just like a real person would react. And I admit, I believed once or twice that this were real people.

Now, the music is pretty basic. Don’t get me wrong, the music is quite well made but I have heard Nintendo do a lot better with it’s music. It’s just that this music isn’t memorable at all. It’s not as catchy as their other tunes.

Anyways, I think it’s time for the summary.

Summary

The bad:

– The music could have been better. More catchy.

– Gameplay, it’s a bit lacking… (See positives for the rest of this sentence)

– Issues with the time settings.

– Some more use of the buttons would made the controls perfect.

The good:

+ … but what you get is really addicting.

+ Amazing atmosphere. You really feel that you’re living on an island.

+ A build in screenshot feature!

+ …

Closing thoughts: 

Inu and many others give this game a high to a near perfect score. Now, I find this a bit too high. This game isn’t a bad game, far from it! But this game lacks depth. I wish I could change the music of the lyrics of the Mii’s singing or see the pets run around while actually interacting with the Mii’s. (Once you enter their room, the pets disappear in thin air.)

We got a solid game by Nintendo, but I think they could have done more with it then what got got. Maybe they are making a sequel already with more things to do and more to explore and experience. I’m crossing my fingers at least.

Notice how I haven’t talked too much in depth about this game in this review. This is because I want some things for you guys to find and experience without being spoiled here on my blog.

Anyways, this is the end of the review. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this one. I really loved writing this one. I hope to see you another time here on my blog. Until then!

Score: 70 / 100

BSP S3E5: Spring Anime

Listen to the podcast here: http://www.thebuttonsmashers.com/2014/04/bsp-s3e5-spring-anime/

3 games I wish I finished.

Thanks Nhi for creating this

Thanks Nhi for creating this

As a hobby-blogger and game reviewer, I play a lot of games. Yet, I can’t succeed in finishing them all. One of my general rules is that I need to finish each game before I make a review of it. So, I can give this game a fair review. Since there can always be something in the end that makes or breaks the game. But with so many games that catch my interest, a gaming neko like myself can easily be distracted. Or I try to play a game and finish it but I play so many of them at once I barely can keep up. So, in this article I will talk about the games I haven’t finished yet and I wish I finished. (For what ever reason.) Of course there are more games I wish I finished but hey, let’s keep it at three for now. 

okami-wii-boxartOkami (Wii)

I love myself some Japanese gaming culture and this game is truly a gem of it’s kind. Okami was originally released on the PS2. But I like the port to the Wii a lot more. Since this game was made for more free movement and the Wii delivers just that.

After finishing the amazing Okamiden on the DS, I directly wanted to play the original game on the Wii. I was blown away with the quality, graphics, music and level design.

Everything wasn’t perfect though, sometimes my Wii movements didn’t got recognized, making for some frustrating moments in the game. Also, the combat is just a joke to me. Waving the Wii Remote gives painful feelings after repeated action.

But why didn’t I finish this game? Well, I was nearing the end and when a friend of mine tried out the game, he saved over my save file by accident. And my save file back-up was so close from the start, that I decided to restart. But the fun is a bit gone since it doesn’t have that “new” freshness you get from a game. But this game is surely one I’m going to finish on calm periods.

Mirror’s Edge (PC)

250px-Mirror's_EdgeEverybody who watches and follows my video’s on the YouTube, know that I’m extremely bad at parkour. But why do I play the game known for only parkour? Simple, because it’s a great game. I got this title for an extremely low price of 5€ and I played it always until a certain point.

Then other games start to distract me and I leave this game at this side unfinished. But I heard on the MindCrack podcast that it isn’t a long game anyways.

This game is pretty and really pulls you in. The graphics, music, level design or difficulty aren’t any factors of this game holding me back to finish it. Also, I didn’t follow the story the first time around. Which I of course regret since it was the game which I wanted to use to make my comeback as reviewer on my forum.

Till this day, this game often appears in the “What are you playing” thread for me since I play short bursts here and there and I’m anything but progressing in the game. I should actually start playing this game after publishing this article so I can finally make a review of this game.

Hopefully my terrible jumping skills aren’t going to hold me back for ever since that’s a reason why I don’t play this game for very long. Also this game asks a lot of my graphics card of my laptop so, that’s holding me back as well.

Mystic Quest (GB)

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I was so excited when I got this game for the cheap at a garage sale. When I came home, it was the only game I played for a while. I even put aside my laptop to play this game with the use of my Super Gameboy and my SNES on my TV.

It really gave me a Zelda-vibe and really kept my attention with the game. The neat graphics, decent difficulty and interesting, yet somewhat generic story, keeps me interested to play.

So why have I stopped playing this game and not finished it? Well, simple. I got stuck and didn’t really found my way out, not even with the help of a walkthrough. So, I stopped playing.

But this game is one I am willing to finish. It’s collecting dust right now and as game collector I can’t let that happen. I’m not that kind of a collector.

So, any tips for this game are welcome in the comments. Maybe you can help me. I know that I defeated a dragon for some spell and that I need to find some holy water. See, my memories are getting vague, it has been that long since I played this game.

Final words

Of course, there are a lot more games I wish I finished. And not because they are bad, but simply because I got stuck or got distracted with another game.

Which games do you guys and girls wish you have finished? And why? And why isn’t it finished yet? Let me know in the comments down below. Anyways, that’s all for me. Thanks for reading and have an enjoyable remainder of your day.

Rant #003: Tutorials ~ The games that hold your hand.

ds-game-reviewsIt’s extremely lovely how games now explain the things in game. Sadly enough you don’t have to look at the manual anymore. For that manuals start to disappear. As a game collector, this makes me sad. But there is one thing that makes me sad too. That’s how games now a days have tutorials. Even if the battle system is extremely simple, the developers feel like explaining the game mechanics to you. Is this needed? Each time you play the game? Well, I don’t think so. Game tutorials are overrated, big time. I’m not against them, but they are certainty overstaying their welcome now.

Want to play the game, here I will help you.

I was talking with a friend of mine over Skype earlier and I said that I was giving Call Of Duty a shot. (ha, bad pun.) And he said that past CoD 5 it isn’t worth a play, since the game actually “holds your hand”.

What I mean with this is that you barely have any challenge in trying. The button you need to press flashes on the screen way on beforehand and finishing the game is just as easy as pressing the button.

Don’t confuse these with quick time events. I actually kinda like quick time events, as long as they aren’t overdone in a game. Tomb Raider has the action broken up with quick time events.

A game that’s good with it’s tutorial is Devil May Cry 4. The first part is you having a tutorial of the basics, to refresh and check if your controls are properly set, and after that it’s up to you to play the game. When you get a new ability, the instructions flash on screen once and then it’s up to you to remember them.

That’s the big problem with games that flash the buttons on screen. Back in the day, I knew where the A and B buttons where on the gameboy. But now I don’t know where the buttons are located on my PSP, since the button is flashed on the screen and I quickly peek over or just memorize it for that game. That may be a personal nitpick but tutorials can be annoying as getting the trash out and the bag rips. The first time you might go through with it but the second time you want to say some curse words.

Where is the skip button?

I can understand tutorials to make the games accessible for everybody. But when a battle system is self-explanatory then why for the love of God do we need a tutorial. I’m looking at you Pokémon for example. Is it really needed to say that you can select attacks under “attack” and that your items are under “bag”? Well no, let me try to defeat my opponents Pokémon by trying to run away and let’s try to throw a Pokéball to a wild Pokémon with a Sand Attack.

One game managed to nearly boil my blood. The start of Devil May Cry 4 is a fixed tutorial. And when you don’t do the move or the action required, forget it, you won’t pass to the rest of the game. Lovely.

A game that got it right is Overlord for example. In this game, right after the opening, you get the basics explained but for the basic combat and such, you can take a route. But if you want to skip it, you can go right to the Throne Room. This is how I want my games to be! With a skip-able tutorial.  I don’t want to be reminded each time I restart the game how to play the game.

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A game that is a perfect example of how to do it, but make it extremely annoying is The Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina Of Time.

In this game, you have a fairy following you, acting as your tutorial in how to use weapons and your items. But the sound effect to remind you that she has something to say is “HEY LISTEN.” and you hear this phrase a least a million time in the game. It gets on people’s nerves extremely quickly. Luckily they fixed this in the sequel Majora’s Mask where the sound effect is just a tingle.

A game that has no tutorial is Minecraft. This game drops you in a random generated world and without prior knowledge, this game is pretty confusing. And this is the big fun of Minecraft. You get to learn the game by playing it and you feel rewarded if you kill that first Zombie or craft your first bow. Most recipes aren’t far fetched anyways.

Some games have in game menu’s where you can review certain combo’s or actions. I remember some games, and I’m sorry that I can’t bring an example at this moment… I think it might be Age of Mythology for the DS, have a separate tutorial button that you can take outside of the game. That’s also a great option.

I feel retard. 

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Yes, I feel sometimes as a retard in a game. The game gets more like an interactive movie where you need to punch in the right button on the right time. There is no real skill involved anymore.

It’s like that coach at the side of a soccer game shouting at their players each and every move they need to do.

In complicated games, no issue, more power to you. But like I said, in a game like Kirby or Pokémon where the things are obvious how they work, it’s not needed. Just scrap that part and use the space for something decent like more levels.

Nintendo isn’t the only wrong do’er in this. I feel like tutorials now-a-days make a game way to easy. They flash the button you need to press or they can’t be skipped. What’s wrong with the challenge in a game. I once heard on a podcast that a developer needed to scrap a puzzle inside a game because there weren’t enough hints and you needed to use your common sense.

Oh, that’s another thing. Gamers don’t use a lot of common sense because of these tutorials. I wouldn’t be surprised if some gamer shouted at their game because “it wasn’t in the tutorial.”. Pathetic.

In conclusion, I think tutorials are welcome to aid the player get introduced in a game. But it’s annoying when you can’t skip it or when it explains extremely easy stuff that makes me go: “No shit sherlock.”.