Review: Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald (GBA) ~ Here Come The Horns

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Bulbapedia entry

My family and I take yearly trips to the seaside. I remember on the trip of 2003, we stopped in a big toy store. There was a Gameboy SP present with a demo version of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. I played it in the store and knew what I wanted to buy at the end of the trip. I wanted my own Gameboy Advance SP with the new Pokémon games. It didn’t take long before I got my very own copy of the games and that I started playing it. Now, after I have finished all three games, it’s time to take a look back to the games and decide if it was a good decision to buy and play these games or that these games actually belong in the trash. So, let’s review these games. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the article and/or games.

Plot and such

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This game starts like every other Pokémon game starts. You move to a new town where you are asked to help the professor to set out on a journey to explore the new region. In this game, the characters are rather interesting. For some reason, the rival characters and various other characters are one of the most memorable in the whole Pokémon series.

Truth to be told, I think most has to do with the fact that Pokémon was right at it’s absolute peak where I lived then. Everybody was talking on the playground about the latest Pokémon they caught and how the new anime season was running at the same time then you progressed in the game. This made the game more memorable to me. So, it might possibly be nostalgia blinding me.

So, I really think that the writing in this game is really well done. Also, the secrets you could discover in the game were fun too. There was a way to catch three new legendary Pokémon in a complete side quest. In this side quest, you had to read braille to enter a door. And I didn’t look it up on the internet, I actually used the guide provided to me in the manual to translate the braille into readable letters and figured it out that way.

What’s even more interesting, you can use these three Pokémon to trade them into the next generation and unlock a special Pokémon that way. That’s a big positive in my book!

Horns & flutes

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This game has quite amazing presentation. I dare to argue that even to this day, this game holds up quite good. Just think about it, this game’s engine is the basis of most Pokémon Rom Hacks.

It’s the last 2D Pokémon game, since the 4th Generation went into 2,5D. But, Pokémon Platinum, Pearl & Diamond are for another review.

Something a lot of people point out about this game is the soundtrack. In nearly every track, there is a (French) horn and/or a flute present. While I enjoy listing to the soundtrack, I have to admit that this soundtrack lacks variaty in its instruments. But back in the day, I didn’t really mind it. The jump in quality from the previous generation was just too big.

Visually, this game is bright and colorful. I really love exploring the Hoenn region. I love exploring it so much that I even explored it several times. Yes, I played through this game several times. Something that added even more life to the game are the animations in the overworld. Things like the rain and the sandstorm or the tracks you made riding your bike in the sand made the game come more alive then ever.

A lot to do

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So, this game introduces quite a lot of interesting new mechanics to play around with. Let’s first start with the new battle mechanics. This game introduced double battles. This is such a great addition to the series that to this day, spin off ideas are put into the main series Pokémon games.

That reminds me, the gameplay of this game is really good. The whole adventure in this game is one of the best adventures you can have on the Gameboy Advance (SP). But honestly, isn’t that a given with a main series Pokémon game?

So, in this game you also have secret bases. I have to admit that this was one of my favorite features ever. I wish they implemented into more Pokémon games. I had high hopes when they were re-introduced in the next generation as bases in the underground side-game.

And let’s not forget about the Pokémon contests, berry mini-games and the truckload of changes to the battle and breeding system. This game brought so much new things to the table, there is a lot to do in this game before you have seen and done everything.

Do I have something negative to say about this game? Honestly, one thing. That this game works with a battery. Now-a-days, the battery will have run dry and time based events won’t happen. If you can look passed that, you have a great game ahead of yourself.

This game’s difficulty curve is pretty great. Apart from the rematches of trainers. I rarely lost those. But that’s a nitpick, since you can choose when you do those rematches and I did them when my team was overleved.

The last thing I want to talk about is the controls. And guess what, they work brilliantly. I have nothing to complain here.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. It’s time we go to the conclusion of this article.

Conclusion

The bad:

-The internal battery can run dry.

-No multiple save slots.

-A bit more instrument variety would have been great….

The good:

+ … yet the overall soundtrack is pretty great.

+ Good writing and pacing of the story.

+ Good difficulty curve.

+ Interesting and fun side adventures can be had.

+ Trading with the next generation!

+ Secret bases

+ Pokémon Contests.

+ …

Conclusion

If you would ask me which generation is the best Pokémon generation. I would honestly doubt. Each generation has something I really love about it. And this game is no different. When I was preparing and when I was writing this review, I had trouble finding flaws in this game.

It might be because a lot of nostalgia, it might because this Pokémon game is that good. If you are a Pokémon fan and you haven’t play this game, I urge you to check this game out. It’s really good. I might not have mentioned a few things in my review, but you’ll find out soon enough. The post-game content is the best in Emerald by the way.

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

Score: 100/100

First Impression: The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild (Wii U) ~ Hyping Hype

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Hype, hype and even more hype. That was the internet right before this game dropped onto store shelves. While many reviewers already finished the game, I’m only 10 hours into the game. But, I have played enough to talk about this game. While this game was in development, I tried to read as little press material as I can. To avoid spoiling myself. But I couldn’t avoid it, every social media I went to was full of the latest rumors and articles about this game. In any case, I picked up this game right after the launch weekend. During the launch weekend, I was out of town. For those who missed it, why I’m not playing this on the Nintendo Switch. Well, that’s because budget reasons and I’m waiting to buy the Switch until more games have been released on it. At the moment of writing this article, there are too few games being released on the Switch that I actually want to play. And because I already own a Wii U and the game has been released on the Wii U, why not.  Also, this article will be spoiler-free. Since, honestly, I haven’t finished the game myself. So, yeah. No worries about that. So, enough rambling… two weeks after the release of the game, it’s time to talk about my first impressions of this game. And as usual, feel free to leave your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below.

Stop that hype train?

 

When this game was announced, the hype train was real. Everybody and their dog were hyped for this game. An open world Zelda game that took inspiration from games like FallOut and Skyrim, what’s not to love. Well, To be really honest, I wasn’t hyped. I honestly was disappointed.  At first, I was afraid that Nintendo was making a Skyrim-clone in a Zelda coat of paint.

Maybe I’m unable to let go of the past, the at first, this game didn’t feel like a true Zelda game. In my eyes, a typical Zelda game was like the old-school Tomb Raider games. A linear adventure game with a big central world that you could explore. But after a few hours of playing this game, something started to click in me.

If you are skeptical of this game and you are afraid it changes way too much from the Zelda-formula; don’t worry too much. Since this game changes a lot of things but some changes are for the better. Something I truly love from this game is how you can do dungeons and quests out of order.

But, something that was truly lacking, a more alive overworld. Everything has been made more interesting in this game. But, I’ll talk more about that later in the article. Let’s take a quick look at the story first.

I was pleasantly surprised how this game is able to tell an interesting Zelda story. Especially since you can explore wherever and however you want. The story of this game has all your typical Zelda lore. The narrative is present wherever you go. You decide the pace of the story. When you want more story, you do the main quests. When you want to take a break from the story, you do side quests or explore.

Something I was both hyped and let down by is the voice acting. While the voice acting is very well done, I’m let down that it’s underused. It feels like every voice actor only had one or two sheets of papers with lines, and that was it. And so far I have seen, it’s all a monolog talking to Link. What a missed opportunity there. But, maybe I haven’t advanced far enough into the main story yet, but so far, I find that the voice acting is underused. But when it’s used, it’s amazing.

Run around

In the past, I stopped playing games like Skyrim because I was too overwhelmed by the skill and tech trees. Where was way too much to do in that game. But, in this game, you get a sort of tutorial in the first area. You get your first taste of the shrines, the world, the story, the gameplay and the controls. Right after you have beaten the first four shrines, you get the paraglider. And then, you can go out into the world and explore your heart’s content.

So, in this game, you play as Link. And in this title, he is equipped with a lot more abilities than before. You don’t have to wait to unlock the spin attack or something amongst those lines, Link can do them all from the word GO.

Honestly, I was able to learn the controls quite quickly in this game. The more advanced tricks were learned naturally or with a quick tutorial. The controls of this game are quite responsive and I rarely have trouble with them. Apart from some gyroscope puzzles in some shrines, I don’t have any issues with them. The only thing I always confuse are the buttons for your inventory and your map. I can’t count on one hand anymore how many times I have opened my map in the middle of a battle when I only wanted to change my weapon.

That reminds me, the combat in this game is almost perfect in my eyes. Apart from some weapons doing way too much damage, it’s quite alright. Something that frustrates be beyond believe as well is that some weapons do so much damage and when you pick them up, they are weaker then your current weapon. Annoying spears, ugh.

Time for nitpicking

 In general, I think this game is pretty great. While it’s not 100% Zelda in my eyes, it’s growing more and more in my heart every hour I spend on it. I start to notice the attention to detail the developers put into this game. To create a living and breathing world that every Zelda fan would feel home in.

Something that also helps are the gorgeous visuals and the amazing soundtrack. Seriously, the presentation of this game is perfect. But, it does come with a price. The frame rate isn’t always stable. In some cases, the game drops under 30fps. And one time, I almost had a game crash. While the game always quickly recovers itself, it’s a letdown. Maybe with patches in the future, this improves.

Oh, that reminds me. Something I wish is also improved in a patch is the loading times when you enter and exit a shrine. The loading time isn’t that long, but it breaks the immersion. If those loading times could be improved, I would be so thankful. Something like an unskippable animation like in the older 3D Zelda games would do just fine.

Speaking about loading times, I wish you had an option to have to press a button when you want to re-enter the game. I had more than once, that I was reading the tips and the game loaded and I was thrown right into the game. I wasn’t done reading those tips just yet.

While I have a lot more to say about this game, I think I’ll leave those things for the review when I have finished the game. But in conclusion, give this game a chance. Sure, this game has flaws and changes a lot of the traditional Zelda formula, but it presents the original Zelda formula with a lot of improvements. Veteran Zelda players will feel right at home and enjoy themselves with the setting and the story. Everything feels so alive and much more realistic. I recommend this game already, but I’m curious if the game holds up when I have beaten it. Like I told earlier, at first, I wasn’t a big fan of the concept of this game. But, it’s winning me over. The charm of this game, it’s something I didn’t know I was missing from my Zelda gaming life.

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

Game Music: My Favorites – Numerbo # 19: I’m not running out of these!

a00bceced7419b083d8273b7e59c94f7.pngRead & listen to more music articles

It’s time to jam to my favorite game music tracks again. Since I love listening to soundtracks, I can’t get enough of them. At work, I often listen to various streaming websites instead of the radio. I always hope they don’t play those emotional songs when I need to concentrate since then I might have a problem. It would be so awkward if I started crying out of nowhere when I’m doing some administrative work on my laptop. In any case, in this series, I talk a bit about my favorite tracks. I’m only allowed to talk about the original track. Also, no remixes in this series… unless I specify it in the intro. And this is an original only article. Also, one track/series per article. If I ever talk about a track twice, feel free to leave a comment and I will add a bonus track in the next article of this series. In any case, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article, music and or your favorite music tracks. 

Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ Pantry

Virtues_Last_RewardMy review of this game

Any excuse to talk about the Zero Escape series is a valid one in my book. Apart from the amazing story and the addictive gameplay, the soundtrack is one of the best horror soundtracks I have heard in years.

In this game, you are locked up against your will and you have to play a game where you have to solve puzzles in order to escape. This game can get very tense and thrilling quickly. There a plot twists at every turn in the story. And the track that plays in the pantry room in the 2nd game of the series is one of my 5 most favorite tracks from the series. Seriously, give it a listen. But in context, inside the game, the track is stronger. It’s even better. Oh, and if you want to play these games and you don’t own a 3DS or Vita, go and buy it on Steam! It’s out there!

Stella Glow (3DS) ~ Rusty Key

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My review of this game

Man, this game is a journey. The story, the characters, the universe, the writing, the visuals, the gameplay and above all; the soundtrack! Whenever I need some upbeat and happy music, I put on a playlist with every track of this game.

After my review, I have grown more and more to this game. I have to replay it one day. To take a totally different path. But for now, let us all enjoy the song of the character Popo. The blonde twin-tail girl on the cover. Everything flows just right in this track. Oh, if you want a translated version of this song, check out the English translated lyrics here! Thank you so much TDN-Shumi Blog for the excellent translation!

In any case, I think I have talked too much about Stella Glow in my review already. So, I won’t go too much in-depth here. But, for real. Give this game a try. It’s a great game in my opinion.

Tomb Raider Underworld (PC) ~ Mediterranean Sea/Escaping Niflheim

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 When I was writing fantasy stories in the past, I often used the soundtrack of the Tomb Raider games when I was writing somebody exploring an area.

The soundtrack of the Tomb Raider games is lends itself great to writers of adventure stories. It sets a great mood and atmosphere.

Besides being great writing music, the track is also amazing in-game. I remember that when I played this game with a good headset for the first time, I honestly got the chills.

I might go more in-depth on this game in the future, but for now, I have to say that I finished but the DS and PC version of this game. So, I don’t know which version to review first.

In any case, enjoy the music. Since this is one of the best tracks in the soundtrack. I have selected a track for this soundtrack in the past, just read my 3rd article to know more about that.

Lufia II (SNES) ~ Boss Battle Theme

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When my uncle gave his old SNES to me, I was so happy. I got amazing titles like Prince of Persia and Zelda – Link to the Past for the SNES. I have also a SuperGameboy. So, that’s how I play my Gameboy games lately. But, there is another game I’m also very happy that he gave me. That game is Lufia II for the SNES, in the original box! As a collector, I can’t be happier.

But, I play Lufia here and there. I often get reminded of the Golden Sun series when I play this game. But that’s beside the point. I’m quite amazed at the music the SNES-sound chip can produce. When I was listing to the music on YouTube, I fired up my SNES to double check if it wasn’t a remastered version. And truly, the SNES is really able to play such great themes. Now, I hope that I’ll be able to defeat that boss one day… But at the other hand, the track that plays during the boss fights is so good… Ugh, a dilemma.

Corpse Party (3DS eShop remake) ~ Chapter 1

Review of the PSP version of the game

I’m in love with the Corpse Party series. I love the story the game brings. It might be a horror game, but most of the scares are psychological. The actual murders and deaths that occur are in most cases so over the top, it’s not THAT scary.

Yet, the writing, voice-acting and the whole game actually are just amazing. I was so surprised when I heard they remixed the original soundtrack for the 3DS port and it’s actually pretty amazing. I’m even considering getting the soundtrack of the 3DS version as well to complete my collection.

I’m currently at the end of the 2nd chapter and I have to say, the remake for the 3DS is way better than what we got on the PC. The 3DS version is way closer to the PSP game. Yet, I can’t wait to play the new chapters. But meanwhile, I’m enjoying the whole amazing soundtrack yet again.

Finale

So there we go, a few new tracks to jam out to. I’m sorry that I choose so many tracks from handheld games, but that’s what I have been playing lately. Maybe when my desktop is fixed soon, I might play more PC games. But in any case, the next edition of my favorite video game music tracks is going to be special. I mean, it’s the 20th article I write in this series.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. Thank you for reading my 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!

Game Quicky: Mini Metro (Android) ~ Transported Over There

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Mini Metro is a game I own twice. Once on Android and once on Steam. Truth to be told, I’m mostly playing the Android version. I play this game quite meta… Since I play this game mostly on the train to work. Yup, playing a public transport sim on public transport. But is it worth your time to play it yourself? Let’s take a look at this game in this game quicky. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the article and/or the game in the comment section down below.

Positives

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The game is so simple and easy to understand, there is no tutorial really needed. You need to draw lines between the stations so the right shaped dot can go to the right shaped station (the white and bigger figures in the screenshot).

The UI (user interface) is amazing! I love how the menu system is set-up as a sort of poster you find in the subway system.

The visuals of this game are kept really simple and clean. This way I can focus more on the gameplay. Also, I love there is a day mode and a night mode. There is only a visual difference between the two modes. It’s like the “dark theme” in various Android apps. Speaking of the visual design, you are able to “move” lines so you can make your network more visually pleasing.

The screenshot feature is lovely. This way you can make your own screenshots to share. Since the game is randomized each and every time, this is a fun way to share your most amazing moments in the game.

The game is really addictive to play. When I’m waiting for the doctor or the train, I play this game on my tablet. While this game could be played on phones, I think it’s more fun to play on a bigger screened phone or a tablet. This game is really challenging as well. I have almost finished all the maps, but I’m stuck at the last three maps.

At first, you think that 16 levels aren’t that much. But you can play each level in 3 modes. And not only that, you can keep playing these levels after you have beaten the goal to advance to the next level. Also, each gameplay mode offers a new style of playing. You have a normal mode and a hard mode. In the hard mode, you can’t erase tracks. And the 3rd and quite recently added mode is an endless mode.

This game gets bug fixes and new options very regularly. Oh, and before I forget this game got recently a new gameplay mode. The endless gameplay mode!

Negatives

Mini-Metro-4.jpgI have to go real nitpicky to find negatives for this game. So, here are the negatives of this game.

In some maps, I don’t like the color combination of the lines that much. Some colors don’t fit each other in my opinion. But, while playing, I don’t mind that much.

In the Android version, I miss a feature that’s present in the PC-version. And that’s a way to remove a line completely from the map to redraw it. That would be extremely handy.

When you have more than one line arriving in a station, it’s sometimes difficult to select the right line. In some cases, I had to try three or more times before I was able to pick the right line.

Sometimes, it’s confusing to understand why an empty train doesn’t pick up any passengers and rides to the end first. I have seen this happening more than once but it doesn’t happen all the time.

This game is way too cheap. Seriously, I see this as a negative. This game is worth more money than the developer is asking for it! I would gladly pay double to play this game on Android.

The only real negative in this game is the soundtrack. Maybe it’s just me, but the soundtrack in the Android version is nothing to write home about. I even think that there aren’t more than 3 tracks present in this game. And if I remember correctly, there is more music in the PC-version. Yet, the music present is pretty good and is nice to listen to. I think that more variation would help the game a lot.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a great time waster for a real cheap price, look no further than Mini Metro! It’s one of the best games I have ever played on Android.I can’t recommend this game enough.

The game is almost perfect in my eyes. The fact that I had to nitpick to find negatives for this game tells a lot. If you like puzzle games, you owe it to yourself to pick up this game and give it a try. Casual game fan? Play this game too! Seriously, it’s a fun game.

In any case, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this! 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: 90/100

NekoJonez’s February 2017 update

2012-06-08-11-25-36So, this week I have some updates to share. At the time of writing, I have a serious cold. So, that means that this update article will be a bit shorter as usual. In any case, I have a few updates and thoughts to share with you guys. Oh, and I want to thank Sparta for being such a great companion during me being sick. Ah, the joy of pets. But, I’m rambling. So, let’s talk about the updates for this first update article of 2017. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion in the comment section down below!

Out-Of-Town

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So, if you follow me on Twitter… you might know I have a schedule planned for this blog until April – May. So far, I haven’t changed a thing. Until this week, because some things will change my whole schedule.

This is because I have been sick the past few days and I want to talk about a game that wasn’t on my schedule.

I have said this on my Twitter, I will be out-of-town next weekend. So, I might not be able to write an article next weekend. But I’m considering two things. First thing is that I try to finish an article in the week before I go out-of-town or I write an article on my day off, the 6th of March. Oh, and if I write an article on the 6th… Don’t worry, I’ll still write an article on the 11th or 12th of March. For those who wonder, I’ll be on a trip with my acting group. I’m actually looking forward to it!

Also, in March, I’ll write another preview article about a game that hasn’t come out yet. I took a look at the trailer and the press kit and I’m really happy that the developer contacted me! But, you will have to wait until March to find out what it’s about.

The Nintendo Switch

switch.jpgI might be a pretty big Nintendo-fan, but I haven’t pre-ordered the Nintendo Switch. And that’s because one reason. That’s the price. Honestly, I can’t fit it in my budget currently.

And a second reason is that no game I’m interested in is currently coming out exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

Does this mean that I will never buy a Nintendo Switch, heck no! I’m really interested in the console. I think I’m mostly waiting until they release something interesting or how the release goes. I just hope for Nintendo that this release goes well. Since the project has so much potential in my eyes.

What will 2017 bring?

So, what will 2017 also bring? Well, I promised that I’ll write an article about various games I want to talk about but I haven’t talked about yet for some reason. So, here is a list of games that are in my mind and I think about writing about in 2017.

Mini Metro (Android), Fairune 1 & 2 (3DS – eShop), The Legend Of Zelda – A Link To The Past (SNES), Bioshock 2 (PC), Ace Attorney (DS – The ones I haven’t reviewed), Lufia (SNES), God Of Thunder (PC), Lego City Undercover (Wii U), Tomb Raider II (PC) and various others I won’t reveal yet.

I have also a few “gamer’s thoughts” articles in the works that are done with the research phase. I’m not going to reveal the subjects, but I have toyed with them in my mind for some time now.

Misc. updates

So, what is keeping me busy outside my full-time job and my blog? Well, let me tell you. First of all, I still have to do 5 classes before I have my degree in computer science. If all goes well, I’ll finish 2 of them this semester!

In late April, I’ll be on stage again. It’s quite possible that I take a break in the 2nd half of April. But, I’ll update you guys and girls on Twitter if I won’t be able to write an article. Otherwise, I’ll write an article in those weeks.

I’ll be playing one of the lead roles in a play. I’m quite excited for that. It’s my 4th time in a play and I can’t wait honestly. The rehearsals are so much fun.

So, I said this on Twitter… but I want to say it here as well. Because various articles of mine get shared so often, I think it’s only fair that I share more often what I read. So, when I come across an interesting article, you’ll see it on my Twitter feed! Another reason to follow me on Twitter.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say this week. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I’m sorry if this is at the short side. I’m still a bit sick, so I can’t focus long enough to write a full length article. 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!

First Impression: Tomb Raider 5 – Chronicles (PC) ~ Is Lara dead?

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Wikipedia entry

If my nickname doesn’t give it away, I’m quite a big fan of Indiana Jones. When I played Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, I wanted to play more games where I raid tombs and have large adventures. It didn’t take long for me to find a cheap copy of Tomb Raider 5 and install it. And, I wasn’t good at playing this game as a kid. I barely survived the first level. Yes, shame on me. But several years later, I decided to put the game in my Windows98 machine again. And I have to say, my feelings towards the game changed. But I’ll go more in-depth about that in my article. Nowadays, I’m a big Tomb Raider fan and I keep up-to-date with the latest releases. So, is this game any fun and good to play. Let’s take a look at it! And as usual, feel free to write a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article in the comment section down below.

Let’s tell stories

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Usually, each Tomb Raider game has an overarching story. You go searching for a treasure and visit a ton of interesting locations. But in this game opens right after, what appears to be, the funeral of Lara Croft. Winston, her butler, and two of his friends recollect and tell stories of her adventures. Now, you might have guessed this, but the stories are the levels you play.

This is a very interesting way of telling the plot of this game. Since you go on little side adventures that might never get a full game. It almost feels like the developers had so many ideas for this game, they threw it all together in one nice flowing narrative.

The voice acting in this game is really excellent. As a kid, I was convinced that the characters were real. The voice acting is that good in my opinion.

While I know that the technology and animation were very limited back then, but the mouth animations weren’t that good in this game. Games like Half-Life and Deus Ex had better mouth animations. This might look like a detail that I’m talking about, yet there were moments that it distracted me from the game.

Less ropes!

tomb-raider-5-screen-2 Something I truly didn’t like in Tomb Raider 4 was the parts with the ropes. Thank god, this is way less present in this game. But, let’s focus on the gameplay of this game. In this game, you explore 13 levels filled to the brim with puzzles of the solving and jumping variety.

All levels are quite lengthy, apart from one…. and that one was quite difficult to finish in my eyes. Something I truly liked in this game is all the differences between the levels. You play through 4 different adventures and each adventure has its own gimmick. Like the levels I’m currently at, you play as a young Lara. So, she doesn’t have any guns.

Visually, this game looks dated. But, it looked dated in some places back then. But, if I compare games from that time period to this game, the reason why this game looks so dated are the character models. If there is anything that could have been improved back then were the character models.

But hey, the setting of the game and animation look all quite nice, apart from the mouth animation that is. Also, if you think that this game looks ugly, well… if it would be released today, it would. But, it doesn’t look ugly in my opinion. Even nowadays.

This game can be quite challenging. I have to admit, I have used a guide in some places to finish the level. If you play this game, I highly recommend that you save often. You will thank me for that.

If you look at a let’s play of this game, you might think that this game is quite difficult with all the jumping. But take it from me, an amateur when it comes to jumping puzzles, it’s possible and it’s so rewarding when you get a jump from the first try!

Pew pew pew

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As a kid, I always dreaded the rope sections in this game. Walking on the tightrope is a new ability of Lara Croft in this game. But, somehow my kid brain wasn’t able to beat the rope. I was so happy when I crossed it successfully. But when I played through this game as an adult, I have no problem with it.

The controls are almost always very responsive. I had a few times that Lara didn’t grab a ledge or didn’t jump in time. Perhaps, I didn’t press the right buttons in time.

Something that made me replay the levels I had finished are the secrets in this game. In this title, various golden roses are hidden throughout the levels. The sound that plays when you find a secret is as addictive as the sound of Link finding a new item.

Speaking of sounds, the sound design and the soundtrack of this game is excellent. I felt rewarded when I got a music cue or some music. Actually, that’s something this game lacked as well. There wasn’t enough music in this title. I can understand that this is done to build the atmosphere of the game, but I personally would be happy with a bit more music. The whole soundtrack is about 25 minutes long. And that’s quite short for an adventure game like this.

So, the sound design of this game is pretty well done. Like I said earlier, the voice acting is very well done. Also, there isn’t one sound effect I would have changed or that would improve the game. I played this game using a headset and thanks to the sound design, I was really pulled into the game.

If I was allowed to change one thing, that is the loading of save points right after death. It’s so annoying that the main menu first has to load and right after that, the default option is “new game”. I can’t count on one hand how many times I have started a new game when I wanted to load a game. Yet, I wish I was able to change two things. The second thing would be the autorun feature. It’s broken. It autoruns the game yet you are unable to save your game. That’s an annoying bug!

Also, I have to praise the game for something. The optional tutorial section is such a great idea. At the start of the first level, you can go straight ahead or to the left in a building. If you go to the left, the basic controls are explained in a quite safe area. If you go straight ahead, you continue on with the level. If my mind severs me correctly, there are no secrets hidden in the tutorial area. Yet, there are various useful items hidden there. So, I advice you all to go and explore there.

That is everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I have some other things I want to talk about with this game but I’m leaving those for the review. So, it’s time to wrap this article up. Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Preview: SkullStone (PC) ~ More Oldschool Dungeon Crawler Fun!

skullstone_main341Official website

It’s time for something completely different. This week, I’ll take a look at a game that is still in development and doesn’t have a demo yet. The fine folks over at Black Torch Games sent me a request to take a look at their upcoming game SkullStone. It’s a dungeon crawler. I have played a lot of dungeon crawlers. I have also written articles about some of them. Like Etrian Odyssey, Venture Forth, Delver and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. If you want to know more about the genre and gameplay style  Wikipedia has a great article on it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article. 

Wanna see the game in action?

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On their YouTube channel, you can find various videos where they show off the content of the game. They already released one of the tracks of the soundtrack in the game. If this is an indication of the quality of the soundtrack, I think I might add the whole soundtrack to my library. Seriously, it gives off the right mood for an adventure down in the dungeon.

But on their YouTube channel, they show off early content. Remember, the game is still under development. But, I honestly think that what’s shown so far is amazing. I honestly can’t wait to get my hands on it. 

So, what do we know so far? Well, the introduction of the story. And it goes like this:

The people of Deepkar send for help. Evil creatures spew from the ancient structure – Skullstone – which appeared in the forests. Killing men, snatching women and children – they bring terror to the hearts of good people. Heroes are needed to deal with the growing threat once and for all… But reality is there are no heroes in this world. All of those who came here to aid people of the Deepkar village in their struggle won’t do it for just a few words of appreciation. Money and treasures is what they want. And fame for some of them. They are mercenaries and this is yet another great opportunity to earn a coin.

Choose among 20 characters, each with different set of skills and abilities, ready to fulfil different roles in your party. Healers, offensive and defensive magicians, front-row fighters – you name it. Build your team according to your play style.

This is going to be very interesting. I think the story of the game will be about a town that’s in dire need of help but doesn’t want help from adventures. Since they despise adventures for their greed and lust for fame. So, I’m curious. What will your characters be? One of many that are going to try and prove themselves or mercenaries? We will know when the full game releases!

From the FAQ page from their website, we also learn that this game will mostly focus on combat. But not only that, it will have exploration and puzzles. I’m a bigger fan of the puzzle and exploration aspect, but if the game has interesting battle mechanics, I’m down for a fun time as well.

Also, from looking at the videos and the screenshots on Twitter and Facebook, I think the game looks great already. For such a small team working on this game, it looks amazing. Only the animations should be polished a bit more, but to be fair, they said in the videos that they are working on that, so I’m not worried about that.

The only thing that isn’t clear to me are the controls. So far, I only see that the mouse can be used to control the game. I hope that in the finished product, you will be able to use more than only your mouse and bind all or most actions to a button on the keyboard.

Wishes for the full game

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I have looked at the press material, YouTube videos and through various social media posts; and I have some suggestions or wishes for the final version of the game.

#1 – Something I love from Etrian Odyssey is the fact that you can add notes to your map. I think that would be a great feature in this game. Like, you buy a scroll in town and you can put it on the wall to help guide you or when you need to go back to that spot when you retrieved a certain item.

#2 – A difficult mode without a map. Since this game took inspiration from old school dungeon crawlers, I think it would be an amazing feature if you don’t have a map in-game. That way you have to either draw your own map or try to remember it all. But, I would make it an optional difficulty, since not every player would be down for that.

#3 – Randomise! Well, this is a very tricky one. At one hand, I’m hoping for the game to tell a big story with a well-crafted dungeon like in Orcs & Elves. But on the other hand, I’m also hoping for something like Delver. I think a fine compromise would be a challenge mode where you go into a randomized dungeon with the most difficult enemies in the game in the most tricky situations.

I think I would get a lot more ideas to suggest as soon as the game or the demo releases. So, they would blow my mind if they implement one of these features. Or if they are already implemented or on the “planned list”.

Details

skullstone_scr_img11[338].JPGSo, the game will only release on Windows PC. The game release date will be later this year. The developer told me that this game won’t have a certain target audience so everyone will be able to enjoy it!

If you want to follow the development of the game, you can do that using these links:

Also, the developer told me they are going to send me a copy of the game when it’s released. So, you will also see a review of the game right here!

I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. I urge you guys and girls to check this game out. Keep an eye on it, since I think it has quite a lot of potential.

Thank you for reading my article on the upcoming game SkullStone. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then… have a great rest of your day and take care!

The Blogger Recognition Award

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Three years ago, I got an award from Allaweh. In 2014, I got an award as well. Last year, I was put onto a list of the top 100 bloggers according to FeedSpot. And now I have been selected for a new award! I have been selected by GamersUnitedGG for the Blogger Recognition Award. So, thank you! Go check GamersUnitedGG out. So, give them some love! 

A word of thanks

It might sound like a cliché, something that every blogger or content creator will say. Thank you for the recognition. Thank you for all of this. I seriously mean it. Remember, I write this blog as a hobby of mine. I spend a lot of time researching and playing games so I can write about them on my blog.

You get a special kind of amazing feeling when you get selected for an award from a fellow content creator. Since, in my opinion, those are one of the pickiest audiences out there. They always have things you could improve amongst other things.

But that’s beside the point, now it’s my time to shine a bit. So, yeah.

Here are the award rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

How did my blog start?

I’m quite sure I explained this story several times before. But hey, it doesn’t hurt to tell it again.

As a kid, I always dreamt of making something to entertain people. Around summer 2010, I was surfing on the internet. That evening, I had a party to attend to. There were a lot of people, I hadn’t seen in years. And I had to tell the same story over and over again. When I got home, I got so tired of it and I decided to create a blog so I can share stories from my life without having to write essays on Facebook.

But, blogging got it hooks placed its hooks into me pretty fast. It didn’t take long before I decided to write game reviews amongst other things about games. I even got into an argument of some sorts with a TV-station. But that story, I have already told in an interview I did some time ago.  I have already told in an interview I did some time ago.

Due to some personal things, I had to remove my blog. According to my archives, I started that blog in July 2010 and I deleted May 2012. But I was never really able to let it go. So, after a break of a year, where I mostly created YouTube videos (that got deleted as well because they were too bad), I restarted writing. All thanks to the reboot of the Tomb Raider series!

My advice to (new) bloggers

Because I felt like it, I will give a bit more advice to new bloggers. This is what I think could help new bloggers out!

  1. Stay true to yourself. Seriously. Don’t force yourself to write or to create content. People will start to notice when the soul of your content leaves your content. Also, don’t always write about something because it’s a hot topic and other people are talking about it. Unless you want to do it professionally. Because you only get some temporary attention. For example, I’m a big Legend Of Zelda fan. It would be very easy for me to write about every new detail about the upcoming Zelda game. But, I would pull in a lot of Zelda fans that are only interested in the Zelda content… And I would betray myself since I avoid news about the content of upcoming games as much as I can since, spoilers man! And yes, when you don’t make it fun for yourself, I can guarantee you that you will burn out on blogging.
  2. Buy a notebook or a tablet. I have explained this before, but take notes and organize them well. I honestly choose a tablet since I can write notes on it pretty easily and I can take quick reference screenshots or make small reference videos. Those are synced to my Dropbox so I can use them for research or for writing the article.
  3. Develop a writing ritual. I always write an article in one go if I can. I always listen to the game soundtrack while reviewing or writing about a certain game. It helps me to stay in the atmosphere of the subject I want to write about. But, if you want to know more about my process for writing reviews and first impressions, you can read more here.
  4. Lay-out is so important! Seriously, I have given up on reading so many articles when it looks like one wall of text. Use images, a nice to read font and test if everything is enjoyable to read before you publish it.

Who deserves this award as well?

So, here we go, these bloggers deserve this award as well.

  1. Shinju Forest – I got to know you on Twitter, and I read your blog several times. Great stuff! Keep it up!
  2. the Well Red Mage – After I got interviewed by them, I kept coming back to their blog.
  3. PewPewCat – Okay, a gamer who loves cats as well? I’m sold! She started blogging on her own last year, so show her some support!
  4. LaterLevels – Just check them out, I think they are awesome!
  5. United We Game – There is a lot of great stuff on their blog! Check ’em out.
  6. Drakulus – I enjoy interacting with him. We both read each other’s articles and I think that’s amazing.
  7. The Otaku Judge – Thank you for reading my blog mate! Your blog is a nice read as well!
  8. Hundstrasse – An interesting blog that takes a look at new and retro games.
  9. Killer Robotics – As a student in applied computer science, I get very interested in people building robots. I’m quite jealous since I wish I could build them, but I’m too clumsy to make one. But, I love his tech and game content the most.
  10. I love Old Games! – I do love reading about oldschool retro games! So, this blog is awesome in my book.
  11. Takuto’s Anime Cafe – As you guys know, to relax, I watch anime. And this blog is one of the best anime blogs out there. I love the layout of his articles.
  12. ButtonSmashers – Hi mates! How are you guys doing?

While I know that the rules say that I need to nominate 15 bloggers, but at the moment of writing, I’m not following many other blogs. In any case, I’ll notify everybody of their award. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to welcome you in another article on my blog, but until then… have a great rest of your day and take care!

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!

Gamer’s Thoughts: The struggles of a game blogger

wp1_1920x1080.jpgMy name is NekoJonez, at the time of writing this article, I’m 23 years old. Apart from writing this blog, my hobbies are playing games (duh), watching anime, going out with family and friends and acting on stage. Also, at the time of writing, I work full-time in the education sector and I also follow evening classes in applied computer science. I have quite a busy and eventful life in my opinion. And I’m enjoying it. All the high and low points. But there are a few struggles I want to talk about, and here they are. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on them in the comment section down below. 

I have to play a new game each and every week!

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Usually, I write about a game every week. And I try to take a look at a different game each and every week. Thankfully, I don’t care if the game is old or not and I also collect games, so I don’t have a shortage of games.

The struggle is in managing my personal life, playing the game and writing the article. It’s not the easiest of things to do in life.

I have to admit, that there are a couple of games I haven’t finished after I had written my first impression. Games like Elebits, Okami, Rachet and Clank and Magical StarSign are a few examples. In the past, I continued playing the game until I had finished it. But now, I stop playing it sometime after I have written the first impression.

But since the start of December, things are sort of changing. I have been playing games I haven’t finished or I have finished in the past. Games like RollerCoaster Tycoon, Hyrule Warriors and Fantasy Life come to mind.

We could possibly start a discussion about how I might be burning out of writing or something along those lines, but the reason is quite simple. I just felt like playing those games again. Trying to finish them up. I made a text file with games I have finished and can review when I haven’t played a “new” game in that week.

In the past, I asked the question if a reviewer can review a game twice. And I want to add a little bit to that section of the article. I think an updated review is possible, but should only be created if something huge changes. For example, a (fanmade) patch for a (very old) game that improves quite a lot or adds a lot of content. Another example is that a game gets an expansion pack that changes the whole game. Or games like Minecraft can be review twice in my opinion. Some updates change the game quite a lot and make old reviews… well, be out of date.

But for my blog, I have made a promise with myself. I won’t review a game twice since I still keep true to this statement from the original article:

But I try to only review a game once. While I replay games from time to time, also the ones I have written about, I think it’ll only create confusion for your readers. Or it would look like you have an article that praises and bashes the game. And that’s not a good idea.

Professional or not?

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It’s not the first time I have asked myself this question. Should I go more professional with my blog or not. I have received a couple of emails from ad companies that offered me to be paid for writing my articles.

Currently, I think I will stay the way how I am doing things at the moment. While I would enjoy it when my articles would reach a greater audience, I wouldn’t enjoy writing anymore. I’m afraid that I will loose my passion and my creativity when I go professional. So, I choose to continue to write this blog as a hobby. Oh, and before somebody gets confused, what I mean by “going professional” is that I’m writing this blog for a living. I’m still going to try and make the best content I can make for this blog, no matter if I do it professional or not.

I see my blog as a sort of weekly diary of my gaming life. A lot of people strive to make their hobby their job, but I think that’s not the best thing to do. Since when you get bored with your job, you also get bored in your hobby.

Besides, I don’t want to give up my current job. As a child, I have dreamt to either work with computers, become a teacher or do something with writing. And as an adult, I can tick every box in a sort of way. I’m doing something with my love for writing stories and that is this blog, I’m doing something with computers and that are my evening classes. While I haven’t become a teacher, I work in the education sector, so I have come pretty close. My life is going the way I wanted and like I said in the introduction of this article, I don’t want to have it any other way.

When people from all around the world read my article, even when only 5 to 10 people read my article about a certain game I played, I’m happy. Because I was able to entertain and/or inform somebody about a game.So, I’m even more honored when developers use my contact page to offer me a chance to review their game. It gives me a special feeling inside. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like that somebody thinks that my writing, opinions and such are good enough to take time out their day to email me and give me a chance. So, thank you for all those opportunities.

Also, my biggest fear is that I’m going to burn out on gaming. Since my childhood, gaming has been one of the biggest ways to relieve stress and enjoy myself. It’s an amazing medium to connect with people and enjoy myself with friends and family. It has so many positive memories connected with it and honestly, it’s something I don’t want to loose. Ever. And the reason why I think I’m going to burn out on them is quite simple. Because I will see every game I play as work. Even when it’s not. Also, I’m convinced that game reviewers have to review games that they don’t enjoy and have to put on a face. Or companies pay for a good review to drive sales. And I want to say true to my opinion. Without any censor or editor. I just want to be me and nothing else. And that’s one of the biggest reasons why writing this blog will be a hobby of mine. A hobby that I love doing, I might add.

Conclusion

If I had to say one thing I could try and improve on, I have to say the ending of my articles. Since that’s the part I rewrite the most. I seem never able to close my articles in such a way that I think I wrapped it up.

So, in conclusion, what I tried to talk about in this article is that I might take a look at a game I have played in the past because I tried to finish a game I already reviewed. Also, I’m not going professional with this blog because I’m afraid I’ll loose gaming as a hobby and/or I’ll burn out on it.

In any case, thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. Next week will be an article on a game again, so stay tuned for that.

I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!