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First Impression: The Wizard – WizHarder Edition (PC – Steam) ~ Now With Less Rhymes

headerSteam Store linkOfficial website

Remember last year when I started talking about an adventure game where everything was in rhyme in the old school ASCII-art? Currently, the 3rd episode of the Pepper Prince hasn’t been released yet but Hypnotic Owl hasn’t stopped making games. In a matter of fact, last month they released their second game in early access called The Wizard: Wizharder Edition. The developers send me a press code and asked me to write an article with my honest opinion on the game. When I saw the press materials, I must admit that I was hooked right away. I wanted to play this game and write an article about it. Sadly enough, my personal life was quite too busy to finish the article around the time of the launch of the game. So, that’s why I’m writing about it a month late. During that time, the game got various updates bringing it to v0.3.11 which I have played to write this article. Now, I want to invite you to look together with me to this game to see if this game should be finished or should the developers move on to other projects? Let’s find out!

Now with less rhymes

20201226190151_1In this game you play as Kevin, who awoke from his slumber in the middle of the night. He was woken up by a strange feeling on his face. When he wanted to touch it, he felt nothing. An empty black void with two dark red dots for eyes was there in its place. He was able to confirm that by looking in the mirror. So, your face has been stolen. Kevin jumps into action since he hears a noise in his hallway so the thief couldn’t get that far.

To avoid spoilers and since this game is still in early access, I’m going to refrain from going deeper into the story. I found it amusing to read the story since I got flashbacks to the unique 3DS title Miitopia where you played with your Mii’s to recover their stolen faces.

From what I have seen so far of the story, I’m under the impression that the story is going to take a backseat and is just a way to set up the world and characters for this game. Which isn’t a bad thing since this game is a puzzle game. And a story in a puzzle game is quite difficult to pull off right. It’s either too involved or too absent. So far, this game is hitting the right balance between the two.

The only thing I would advise to the developers is give it a bit more “life”. What I mean is, don’t display the whole text in one time and play a bit with some sound effects to draw the player a bit more in. I personally feel that it would give the game a bit more atmosphere. Then again, currently it’s in a book format as if you were reading a journal which can be fun as well.

Something I find quite surprising is that this game is already translated into German. Because my native language Dutch is in some respects a bit close to German, I played the tutorial level in German. Let me tell you that the translation has been well done and I’m quite curious if they are going to be more languages added into the full build of the game. (But the game being translated in German isn’t that surprising since the developers are German after all…)

It’s a tile game.

20201226193504_1The controls of this game are quite simple. If you don’t have a mouse, you won’t be able to play this game. This game uses the left-click button to its full potential. The controls are quite responsive, easy to understand and fun to master. The only thing I would improve in terms of the controls are keyboard shortcuts. It would be so nice to move Kevin with the arrow keys or something since the number of times I misclicked and started a spell instead of moving, I can’t keep count of that.

Before I go more in-depth about the gameplay, I first want to mention something that has to do with the controls and the gameplay. I would love to see in the full version, three features to perform some actions quite fast. The first key would be just a simple “undo” key. If you did an action you regretted, you could simply undo the move and try again. Maybe this “undo” can cost points each time you use it, and you need a certain amount of points to use it.

The second key would be a key that reset the level back to your latest checkpoint and the third key is of course, a total level reset. The second and third key would be a nice quality of life feature in my opinion but the first feature, the “undo” key would be a bit more than a nice quality of life feature. Because currently there is no “undo” feature. If you either die or want to erase a wrong move, you either must restart from the checkpoint or the start of the level.

Thankfully, at the start these levels are quite short and easy to conquer, but I’m afraid that without an undo key, it might get frustrating if you get bigger, more difficult and larger levels. At one hand, I totally understand that there is no “undo” key since it might be a part of the challenge of this game that you must think of your every move but at the other hand, I think that accessibility in this way wouldn’t hurt the core experience. You even could have an option to disable it completely if people want the challenge. Think “Classic” and “Casual” modes in Fire Emblem.

Granted, you can work around this a bit since there can be only one checkpoint active at one time. So, if you want to make sure you don’t have a redo a certain fight, you can walk back to a previous checkpoint to activate it. Then again, if you are faced with several enemies, this might not always work as well.

Any who, let’s focus on the gameplay of this game. In this game you must get to the end of the stage. Each stage is divided up into tiles. You can drag Kevin to start forming a spell to attack or you could drag the green squares beside him to move to another spot. When you either successfully attack or move a tile, the enemies can do as well. The enemies only move when they have spotted you or get hurt, otherwise, they will sit in place.

By clicking anywhere else, you can drag around the map and look at what’s to come. This helps plan out your next move. You play this game at the speed you want to play. If you want to take your time and plan every move, you can do that. If you want to kill the least number of enemies to go to the next stage, you can do that as well. It’s all up to you. This gives some replay value to the game.

In terms of gameplay, I do have one complaint and that’s about the health system and potions. Currently, there is no bag or anything of the sorts, so that means that when you pick up a health potion at hull health, the potion gets used and disappears.

A big hint I can give you is to make sure that you draw the right spell. Currently, there is no way to undo or stop the spell when you drew the wrong one. I learned this the hard way.

Oh, maybe one minor thing about the controls. The camera and dragging mechanic stop you from going off screen. Maybe being able to follow it would be quite nice. But that’s a minor complaint after all. Since as soon as I got the hang of the game, I fell in love with the game. Honestly, I think I’ll keep an eye on it since I really want to see where the game goes next.

Into The Sewers

20201226184144_1Visually, this game has a lot of pixel-art of pixelated visuals. And they look amazing. I think they would look even better when they are a bit more animated but hey, if these are the final pieces of art for the full game, consider me extremely impressed already.

The nice visual presentation extends to the great animations in this game. As if it’s a theme in this article, I think that the game would be better if there were a bit more animations. For example, to give the enemies a bit more life.

It’s always quite difficult to give your opinion on a game that’s in early access and in full development since you never know what developer art is and what’s already finalized. But I really hope that the audio is finalized since the music and sound effects in this game are excellent.

If I didn’t know better, I would say that this game is almost complete. Apart from the game lacking some polish here and there, this game is enjoyable to play and I would recommend it to everybody who enjoys playing strategy, adventure and/or puzzle games.

Now, there is one more thing I would like to touch upon and that’s a few strange UI things. First, when you press “ESC” in an option menu, you don’t go back one level but go back to the pause menu. I would love to see this changed to the “ESC” button going back one level.

But the biggest mistake of this game is that there is no logo at the main menu yet. I found this extremely strange since everything else has been carried over from the original. Yes, you read that right. This game is a remake of a browser game. Well, calling it just a remake would be a dis-service. It is an extended version of the original game. If this game looks interesting to you, you can give the original game a try for free in your web browser by following this link.

Now, why would you pay 19€ for a game that got a graphical upgrade and more music when you can play a free version? Well, that’s because there are a lot of things coming to the full version of the game. Things like a level maker, a roguelike challenge mode, more levels… So, yeah. I honestly think that this will be 19€ well spend if you are interested in the full version and the additional upcoming features. Honestly, I’m quite curious to see what the “Mario Maker style Level Maker” means. Will this mean we will be able to share our levels through the Steam Workshop? Will we be able to make a level pack? Well, only time will tell.

And with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game for now. I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

First Impressions: Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition (Switch) ~ Grand Adventure

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Nintendo.com micrositeWikipedia entry

Today we are going to talk about a game with a lengthy title. It’s also a quite lengthy game to boot. I mean, this game clocks in at giving or take 60 hours of playtime. Now, in the past, I talked about other games in the series like Dragon Quest IX and Dragon Quest Builders and it’s sequel Dragon Quest Builders 2. But now it’s time to look at and talk about the newest game in the series. The 11th entry got an expanded edition on the Nintendo Switch and that’s what I have been playing for the last couple of days. And I think I’m ready to give my opinion on the question if you should spend your time, money and effort in this game or that the adventure isn’t worth it. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Grand Classical Adventure

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In this game, you play as a nameable hero. You start off in the village of Cobblestone where you partake in a coming of age ritual. It doesn’t take long before things start to go south. Well, it turns out that you are the Luminary, a legendary hero chosen by the world tree Yggdrasil to save Erdrea from evil.

Now, here is the catch. You go to the King to provide your services and things go even more south. The King accuses you of bringing evil upon his land and throws you into the dungeon. So, the stage is set for a grand adventure to prove yourself and save the world before the actual evil entity destroys the world.

The main plotline itself is nothing to really write home about. After playing Dragon Quest Builders 2, where your building was illegal, I felt that I already experienced a similar story in the franchise. Maybe I’m looking a bit too deep into this. Yet, the actual pacing and storytelling are way more enjoyable. The story turns into a journey from town to town where you have a smaller adventure in each town. It’s almost like an anime series where the hero and crew travel around the world.

The writing of this game is just amazing. From medieval speak to people speaking in English with a foreign accent, it’s just lovely. What I mean with a foreign account is that you clearly see the Spanish influences in the made-up language that they speak at some beach cities.

The voice acting really adds a lot to the personality of the characters. While some of the characters really follow some stereotype arcs, I really enjoyed the mix of characters in this game. The characters are written that well, I even started to shout right at some of the characters when they did something frustrating.

Currently, I’m not even halfway in the adventure and I have been enjoying myself throughout the story. I cannot wait to see where the story is going to take me next since the whole world seems massive and a blast to explore.

The Confused Light

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What is a massive world to explore without an interesting visual presentation? This game doesn’t disappoint in that area. One time I played Dragon Quest VII on my PlayStation 2 and I found that game extremely pretty. If you take that game and give it a 1080HD facelift, you get the visual presentation of this game. The world is colorful and extremely detailed to explore. It even has a day and night cycle that makes the world come alive.

Yet, it pains me to say it but I do have some things I disliked about the visual presentation. First of all, there are a few details that were missed while designing some towns. For example, in one of the towns, they forgot to add in a door at the backside of a store. I have posted a video about it on my Twitter. Notice how inside the store, the door is present and when you run behind the back, the door is suddenly nowhere to be seen.

Thankfully, these moments aren’t too frequent and overall, the world is extremely detailed. But, something that is somewhat broken is the triggers to change the lighting. Now, the lighting changes when you enter a building. That isn’t a problem until you start walking to edges of buildings and the light level already changes when you are still outside and next to a wall. Just look at this video I posted on my Twitter, where the ending shows off what I mean. Sadly enough, this problem occurs extremely frequently. Especially at night time and even more when the roof sticks out of the building or when the pathway has a roof itself.

It’s a shame since this is a problem that puts a damper on the excellent animation. I was extremely surprised to see characters actually react surprised or angry when you raided their cupboards or their belongings. Or the fact you can turn the camera around while in battle and see everything from every angle you wish.

Now, I think that the next issue I noticed has to do with memory management for the Nintendo Switch version but the render distance isn’t the best. This is something I can personally forgive since it affects the far off objects that get less detailed render. You can clearly see more detail appear in the frame when you walk up to it. On extremely rare occasions, the detail appears when you are just up close.

Automation

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This game plays like every other J-RPG and especially like most previous Dragon Quest games that came before it. I haven’t played all the Dragon Quest games, so I can’t tell you what’s unique in this title compared to the previous entries in the series.

If you haven’t played any of these games in the past, let me quickly explain it to you. While you take your party on a journey throughout the land, you fight various battles to make your characters stronger and let them learn new skills. With each won battle, your characters gain experience points. When they gain enough experience points, they gain a level. For each level, they get points that allow them to open up a skill in their skill tree.

There are a lot of different character classes that spice up the fighting style and gameplay. From characters that are meant for healing to characters that act as a sponge for all the attacks, better known as a tank. So, you have to choose your equipment wisely as well. You buy a strong shield for your tank and a strong wand for your healer.

There are two ways of battle encounters and this game has them both. On the overworld, the monsters are visible and roam around, so you can pick and choose your battles. Alas, while traveling in places that aren’t the overworld, like the sea, the battles are random and can happen at any moment. Thankfully, in most cases, you see the enemies so it’s not a mess to understand where which system is used.

So, during the adventure, you also have to solve puzzles where you have to look around the environment and dungeons for clues. These puzzles can range from conquering a dungeon to do a fetch side quest to using a monster to climb a crumbling building. A tight control scheme is essential for this type of games and I have to say that this game doesn’t disappoint. After you get used to the control scheme of this game, I have to say that it’s a blast to use. Some features are a bit too buried in menus for my liking but that might be the biggest complaint about that.

Everything is paired together with an amazing soundtrack and sound design. Now a lot of the soundtrack and sound effects sound extremely familiar when you have played previous games in the series. This isn’t a bad thing since this really helps to put the game into the Dragon Quest universe. Plus, the music still fits the atmosphere quite well and doesn’t get boring.

And with that said, I think I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game for now. Because I’m not even halfway done with the game, I’m not going to talk more in-depth about the game for now. When I have finished the game, or put more hours into it, I might write a more in-depth review. But, at this moment I already reached a conclusion.

This game is one of the best games I have played on the Nintendo Switch when it comes to RPG’s. The expansive world and the amazing story is an amazing journey to take part in. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the adventure will bring since I’m enjoying myself with this adventure. I also highly recommend this game to every Dragon Quest fan, RPG fan, adventure game fan and people who are looking for a lengthy and expansive game to sink their teeth into. And if you want to know if the game is for you, you can download a free demo in the Nintendo eShop to try out the game before you buy it.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game (for now). I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Review: Monster Tale (DS) ~ Are You Ready, Chomp?

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Wikipedia entry

Last week when I was writing about Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, I wanted to reference Monster Tale. To my surprise, I haven’t written a review or talked about this game in full on my blog. So, that’s why I’m going to fix that right now. Let’s tell the tale on one of the best Nintendo DS games ever made. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the content of this article and/or the game. For now, let’s ready, set, go!

Are you ready, Chomp?

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In this game, you take the role of Ellie. A young girl that gets dragged into a world filled with monsters. It doesn’t take long before she meets a monster that hatches right in front of her and follows her around as if she was the mother. She decides to name the monster Chomp.

Then, Jinx, a shopkeeper explains what the world is.  There are other humans in the Monster World and they are king of their own domain.

Now, Ellie and Chomp go on a quest to try and defeat these evil Kid-Kings and try to get them all home.

The reason I stay pretty vague about the story is simple. This game is a very nicely written plot and talking about it more would spoil it. The characters might be cliche here and there, but I really liked the chemistry between the characters. To this day, I still remember the characters and their role in the story by just looking at screenshots or hearing their theme.

The story is a blast to experience from start to finish. All 10 hours of it. Yes, all 10 hours of it. This game is criminally short. You can squeeze a few more hours out of the game when you want to fully complete it.

There is voice acting in this game, but no full lines are voice acted. Some of the major characters have some spoken phrases or noises but nothing really more. Which is a darn shame since the whole voice cast is extremely talented amine dub voice actors. On the other hand, it helps with the charm that this game has quite a lot.

I especially love the grunts of Ellie and the noises Chomp makes. They are so adorable and made me fall in love with this game. It’s still a mystery how the adorable and cute game can tackle serious subject matter like what’s presented in this game. So, I hope that you are ready since you and Chomp are going on an adventure.

Metroidvania

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Back when I first played this game, I hadn’t really played a lot of Metroid or Castlevania games. I had heard about both series but I haven’t played them. That all changed when I started to play this game.

The gameplay is your typical Metroidvania game. You explore this world and fight monsters on your way. Don’t be fooled by the visuals, this game isn’t easy at all.

This game is unforgiving sometimes and you really have to learn how each move works and how to use the special items provided to you.

This game has a lot of depth as well. There are three enemy types; fire, water, and earth. These work on a rock, paper scissors theme. So, you will have to keep in mind which version of Chomp you level up and bring with you. Yes, you can level up Chomp. While it’s not 100% needed to unlock all versions of Chomp to defeat the final boss of the game, it’s highly recommended that you level up at least one form quite a lot.

During combat, enemies can drop various items like footballs, books, slingshots, ice cream, camera’s… to help Chomp level up. Some dropped items even have additional benefits, like the football bounces around on the top screen.

Now is a good time to address the top and bottom screen, since it’s used in this game to its full potential. On the top, you have the Monster World that Ellie is exploring. You can have Chomp with you for a limited amount of time. That’s what the yellow bar on the 2nd screen is for. This bar drains as soon as Chomp is in the Monster World.

You can let the bar recharge when Chomp is resting in his den, which is the bottom screen. Once there, the bar recharges and he can experiment and learn about the various items that enemies drop. There is also another catch, each version of Chomp has different attributes, abilities and special powers to play around with.

Now, I love the risk and reward system of combat. There are a lot of ways to handle the situation. One possible option is to let Chomp handle the enemies. Another possible situation is to shoot the enemies down and another is to melee combat. Now, you would argue that the melee combat sounds useless. Well, I would agree with you there but there is a limit to your shooting ability. When the 2nd bar on the 2nd screen, the blue one, depletes; you can’t shoot anymore. You can recharge this bar at save points or by finding rare blue orbs in the world or as drops. But the easiest way is to melee defeat enemies.

Now, there is a lot more done with the mechanics of the two screens and I have to tell that I really liked it. The combat is extremely challenging to do but in a fun way. Also, no playthrough feels and plays the same since you have so many different ways to tackle the situation.

In addition to that, you never get lost on what to do next since the next spot you need to go to is always indicated on the map. I have no idea if there is an option to disable this, but I think it’s a very useful feature.

Gameplay-wise, this game is extremely addictive. There are a lot of power-ups for Ellie and various forms for Chomp. So, this game quickly becomes a balancing act on who to power up with your hard-earned cash. Do invest in both, since otherwise, you will regret it later.

Control-wise, this game is solid. While in very few occasions, the ground pound move was a bit tricky to pull off, but that was a minor annoyance. Since, when you die in this game, you get quickly put back to the latest checkpoint. Now, if there is one thing I really disliked in this game is the lack of teleports.

There is a lot of backtracking in this game. That’s the biggest problem I have with this game. The Castlevania have teleport stones, but Monster Tale doesn’t have that. That’s the biggest flaw this game has. Besides being criminally short that is.

Save often!

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So, this game doesn’t have an autosave. At certain locations, you come across a book where you can save. There, you can recharge every meter to it’s fullest potential. These rooms are highly needed since the lower your hearts, the more tricky this game can become.

Something I will never get tired of with this game is the presentation. This game looks amazing. It’s clear that a lot of love has been put in the creation of this game. The backgrounds of each zone look stunning, vibrant and have a lot of detail.

The colors pop and they build an amazing atmosphere. I especially love the beach zone since it has a lot of memories for me. As a kid, I took a lot of trips to the seaside with my family and I love to sit on the beach and watch the sea do its thing.

Besides that, the monster design is adorable. In some cases, I didn’t even want to hurt the enemies. They all have unique designs and patterns, it’s tricky to kill them. Both since they look so good and some have very unique killing patterns.

Now, the soundtrack of this game is good. While there are some tracks that I find mediocre, the overall package is a blast to listen to. It really pumps you up to continue. You won’t regret hearing these tunes during gameplay and even outside. I played the soundtrack in the background while I was writing this article and I actually heard the various enemy noises and the various other sounds in my head.

This proves that this game has an amazing audio design. To this day, I still remember sound effects and music from the game. And that’s what I mean with that this game will leave a visual impression on you. The game is not only pretty but also sounds pretty.

The animations are fluid and the game runs at a very stable frame rate. I actually don’t remember the game ever dropping frames. Also, I really like how there are two save slots. This way you have tried for two very different runs.

In terms of the UI, there is one minor thing I have to complain about. It’s actually extremely nitpicky but I really find the use of the start and select buttons to switch between the menu’s a bit too much. The start and select buttons on the DS Lite are extremely small. Besides, I wished they merged the map screen and the other menu into one option. Maybe an ability to select from the pause screen if you wanted to see the map screen or the evolution screen of Chomp.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I left a few things unexplained for when you are interested in giving this game a chance. You will be surprised. But, it’s time for the section of the review of the people who need a tl;dr. Time for the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

-The pause menu could be reorganized a bit better.

-The harsh difficulty could be a turn off for some people.

-The game is really short.

-No teleporting in the game.

The good:

+ Amazing Metroidvania game.

+ Great story.

+ Amazing visual and sound presentation.

+ This game oozes charm.

+ Great controls.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you highly enjoy the 2D Castlevania games, the Metroid games or any other Metroidvania game and you are looking for something more light-hearted, then Monster Tale is your game. This game looks and sounds amazing.

Besides a few minor flaws, this game comes highly recommended. It’s a big shame that the remake for 3DS actually fell through and that the original developers of this game went bankrupt.

If you see this game for sale, pick it up and play it. It’s one of the best games on the DS. I wish more people knew about it so another developer could pick up the IP and make a sequel to it.

On the other hand, the ending wraps up things extremely nicely and makes for an amazing package. Due to the various possible playstyles, this game is highly replayable. But, it’s the complete experience that will stay with you. And that’s what makes this game so memorable and unique.

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

Score: 99/100

Game Quicky: TuboCity (Android) ~ Rolling Through Tubes

TuboCityIconOfficial website

Today we are going to look at a recently released game for Android & iOS called TuboCity. No, that’s not a typo. The name of the game is TuboCity. It will all make sense when you see the screenshots. It’s not uncommon that the name is mistaken since the developer recently was at a convention where they had to put a post-it note on their sign telling people that’s it’s TuboCity. Ah well, funny anecdotes aside, we are here for a game review. In this game quicky, I’ll talk about what I like and didn’t like in this game. After that, I will wrap up my thoughts in a conclusion. So, ready… set.. HERE WE GO! As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article.

The game

In this game, you fly with your ship through space. Your goal is to reach the end if there is an end. So, you are flying through a tube in space. See, I told you it would make sense why the game is called TuboCity.

The bad

I think that there could be some improvements made with the tutorial. Usually, when I TuboCity1play these style of games, I love to test out the tutorial. Is it going to make me repeat the tutorial when I don’t finish the objective? That’s the question I ask myself.

And the tutorial does continue. I died at the last ring in the second tutorial, and it let me continue to the jumping bit. I died at the second ring, and the tutorial lets me continue.

Maybe it’s just me, but I always had a hard time doing the jumps. I never knew when to time it right. Maybe I should replay the tutorial a bit, to train for the jumps. Sometimes I got lucky and made a few, but I died more at the jumps then I passed them.

But, then I found something out. You can also double tap or tap with two fingers to make your ship jump.

Also, there is an option to change the way how you want the jumping to work. You have swipe, double tap, and two finger tap. I prefer double tap the most, to be honest.

You could just make a screen where you put the controls on for players to refresh their memory if they haven’t played your game for a while. I missed that.

I also think that the difficulty curve is a bit too steep. It’s great fun that the game puts you through a randomized tunnel, but I think that the first 10-15 hoops should be easy to do ones. In various runs, I encountered very difficult obstacles that I had a hard time avoiding. Also, I think that the rings are too close to each other. This is a big problem when you timed your jump just a bit too late, you land right when you need to make that vital turn to avoid the next ring.

The good

TuboCity2This game looks visually amazing. The effects and the presentation are all amazing. The visual tube effect is pleasing to the eye. The colors also complement each other and the different ships look great.

Also, I love how they used another color for the rings that you need to jump over. They make them easier to see and give the player a fighting chance.

While this game has ads, they are placed at good spots. They are placed right at the top of your screen. I don’t mind those ads in the games I play. Since they don’t force you to watch them or they aren’t in cheap places that your finger touches them easily.

While this game has just released, I see a lot of potential for future game modes. Like a bonus stage where you must jump through 5 rings in a row for some bonus points.

The music in this game is good. It’s very enjoyable in my opinion. I loved listing to it while I was playing the game.

The controls were responsive. If I went to the right, my ship went to the right. If I went to the left, my ship went to the left. If you don’t enjoy that style of gameplay, there is also an option to invert your playstyle.

I think it’s a great touch to add the contact info of the developers in the app. This way people can easily find your social media to follow the development of your game and contact the developer when needed.

There are microtransactions in the game for new ships, but they are crazy cheap. Thumbs up for that. Seriously, no ridiculous overpriced microtransactions here. And here is the best part of it all, they are optional! You don’t have to pay for them to win the game or to get a high score, it’s just a way to support the developers for their free game.

Yes, did I mention that this game was free? This blows my mind since if they would ask 2,5€ for this game, I would say that you get your money’s worth.

Conclusion

This game is a lot of fun to play. But, due to the tricky jumping, I didn’t enjoy my time with the game. If they made the game a bit beginner friendly and polished the jumping mechanic, I think I would have more fun with the game.

It’s a shame since there are three things I didn’t like about the game. The tutorial needs some work; the difficulty curve makes the game uninviting and the jumping is a bit too tricky. All the other things like the presentation, music, controls, UI… It’s all so well put together.

Maybe the developer will fix this with an update, and then my complaints in this article will be invalid. I wrote this review for version 1.08.

Thank you WhitePot Studios for asking me to look at your game. It was great fun to do. I also must stress that this isn’t a sponsored article. The developer asked me to give my honest opinion on the game, so here it is.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. 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.

Review #031: The Legend Of Zelda – Spirit Tracks (DS) ~ Trading The Boat For A Train

The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_Spirit_Tracks_(Europe)Official site

Warning: lengthy review. Because I wanted to write a long special review for the (3)DS month!

Honestly, I think Dark_Legend would slap me in the face if I would tell him that I did a (3)DS month and that I didn’t cover one of the Zelda games. I can choose out of several games. Phantom Hourglass, Four Swords Adventures 25 year anniversary edition, Ocarina Of Time 3D and A Link Between Worlds. But the 5th Zelda game that has been released on the (3)DS, we shall take a look at today. In my last music article, I talked about how this game has been a laughing stock for trolls. I had a hard time not starting to review the game in that article. So, I decided to give it a review here. This game has a lot of memories for me. I learned about this game through a magazine and after I saw some trailers, I was hyped. Big time. I couldn’t wait. I wanted to play it as soon as it came out. I even made it ship over from the USA so that I was able to play it two days in advance! Yeah. Anyways, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on this game. 

Doubtful at first

Spirit_Tracks_Train_Screenshot

Who wouldn’t be? The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass nailed the boat mechanic. The Zelda games appear to take place in the middle ages. Introducing trains sounds so out of place. I was doubtful at first, because you can’t explore the open world like in all previous handheld Zelda games.

Let us focus on that later, let’s talk about the story first. The story starts with a brief summary of the legend of the rail system. You play as Link, or however you name your character, who is about to do his exam to become a train driver. After you arrive at the castle, you get your license from Zelda and she wants to secretly meet you.

From there, the story takes a few twists and turns, but it keeps it safe. The story is not for the youngest children, as proven by the cover. But don’t expect an amazing tale that other Zelda games can provide. I know what you might be thinking now, is the story bad or not memorable? Honestly, not really.

The power in the story is how they used familiar characters from the Zelda series to forge a decent story. Seeing the old characters back will place a smile on every Zelda fan’s face. But there is more then only a few characters from the previous games that feels familiar. While I was playing, I often got the feeling that I was replaying a game. That got confirmed when I read an interview in that magazine. The game is created with veteran players in mind. So, in a way, this game is a sort of “best of” mix with trains.

Improving the game

Zelda Spirit Tracks

One major complaint I have with the first Zelda game on DS is that the central temple needs to be played through several times. Nintendo somewhat fixed this in this game. You can go up the central tower in order to get your next piece of the map.

While I think a sort of elevator would have been nicer, since you take some time to reach the highest floor, it’s a big improvement over the previous game. Now I don’t need to restart at floor one when I want to get the second piece of the map.

Earlier, I talked about that this game is influenced by the other Zelda games. While writing, I realized something. The main core of the game is the exact same as the first Zelda game on Nintendo DS. Just swap the boat for the train and there we go. I can safely say that if you enjoyed Phantom Hourglass, you will enjoy Spirit Tracks for sure!

The controls for this game aren’t very different from Phantom Hourglass but you can feel that there are improvements. This is something I can’t explain without me saying that you need to try it out for yourself. A lot of people find the control scheme a negative since you can’t control Link with the D-Pad. Honestly, I don’t think that should be an issue. Since you get more control over Link thanks to the control scheme.

One thing does bug me a bit, the sections with the microphone are a bit picky. It’s pretty irritating to blow into the DS mic and move the panflute at the same time. That might just be me, but it’s something that annoyed me.

Zelda, more Zelda!

the-legend-zelda-spirit-tracks-multiplayer-screens-4

So, I want to talk about the multiplayer for a bit now. I honestly think that the multiplayer is just amazing. I was even able to convince MiseryLC to play a few games with me. He doesn’t even like handheld games one bit. At first glance, it looks pretty much the same then Phantom Hourglass. But in this battle mode you don’t control the spirits, you control Link.

Your goal is to collect as many triforce gems as possible before the time runs out. There are various power-ups that might help you on your quest. There are even power-ups to steal gems from the other players.

I have to say, that playing this is pretty tense. I played this game with my sister when the game was just released. The memories are just amazing. I think the multiplayer is a well made addition to the game.

So, is the gameplay of the main game actually any good? Actually, yes. It has a lot of fun moments that can pull you inside the game. While I was researching about this game, I read a lot of complaints about people that find that the game is too easy. I can agree there. Apart from some bosses, this game isn’t going to give you a challenge. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention. The best way to put it is that as soon as you know what you are doing, the game will be no big challenge.

Is this game short? That’s another complaint I read a couple of times. My answer to that is, not completely. The full game will take you a few hours to complete. I think I was able to beat Spirit Tracks in a ~ 25 hours. So, it isn’t short. But since the game is a bit on the easy side, you can finish the dungeons rather quickly. This might leave you with the hunger for more. And that might be the cause of the dungeons being too short.

Travelling around

Phytops04

A negative to me is that there aren’t as many tools to play around with, compared to your standard Zelda game. You can actually count the amount of items in your inventory on your two hands. That feels like the game is lacking in content. Also, one item is almost never used outside of the dungeons. That is the sand wand. At the other hand, the dungeons do use the items pretty well. Apart from the sand wand, I never got the feeling an item was under used.

There is one mechanic that this game has that I adore. In Phantom Hourglass, you always had ghosts that hunted after you. Well, in the central dungeon. Well, in this game, you will become able to control a spirit. How this exactly works, I will leave up to you to discover, but believe me, it’s such a blast to play.

The puzzles in this game are excellent. They won’t be too hard for veteran players to figure out. But they will challenge the target audience of this game, which are children between the age of 7 – 10.

So, this game has besides the usual dungeon exploring, also some quests. Before you can enter the dungeons you need to do a challenge. One of them is figuring out how a cursed woods works and another one is pairing up citizens for patrol duty.

They are a fun distraction from the dungeons and they are really fun to do. You will be able to make use of the feature that you can write on your map.

There is also a big side quest. While riding with your train, you might see bunnies hopping around. In this side quest, you will get a net to capture those bunnies. When you see them, you need to play a mini-game to capture them. After that, you can deliver them to RabbitLand. Believe me, it’s worth doing this side quest. Because the reward to capture all the bunnies is really worth it.

Review the rest?

the_legend_of_zelda_spirit_tracks_thumb30So, now that I have talked about the gameplay and the story, I have a few things left to talk about in this review. Let’s talk first about the replayability of this game. Because this is an adventure game, they replay value is rather low. I have replayed this game a few times since I actually enjoy playing this game.

Graphically this game looks stunning to be a DS title. Each area looks detailed and alive. The art style of this game has the potential to draw any Zelda fan in. I didn’t had any moment where I thought that the visuals weren’t good.

The animation of this game is really smooth and well done. Together with the pretty visuals, the game is eye-candy for the DS. What I mean here is that this is one of the best looking games on the Nintendo DS in it’s genre. I even dare say that visually, this game is better then Phantom Hourglass.

Last but not least, the music. When I heard the orchestrated version on the special music disc that I got with Skyword Sword… Well, it made me emotional. The soundtrack of this game is really amazing. I listen to it from time to time, remembering how much fun I had playing through this game. The soundtrack is one of the strongest points in this game. Together with the amazing sound design, I have nothing bad to say about it.

Well, I think I will leave it here for this review. I covered almost everything of what I wanted to cover. And don’t worry, I left something for you guys to discover when you play this game. For now, it’s time to move on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– The microphone sections are a bit too picky in my taste.

– Too few items to play around with.

– I expected a bit more of the story.

– The game is a bit too much at the easy side.

The good:

+ Great length.

+ Amazing visuals.

+ A veteran will feel right at home.

+ Amazing music.

+ Interesting gameplay. Both in single and mutliplayer.

+ Great side quests.

Final thoughts:

So, another one of my longer reviews. I honestly think that this game is one of the best games in the Nintendo DS library. Too bad that so many companies dumped their “games” on the DS. For this reason, gems like this game get lost underneath the pile of shovelware.

This game is an excellent title for each DS or 3DS owner. It comes highly recommend. Even after 5 years, it’s still pretty great to play. So, I truly urge you to play this game. When you have played Phantom Hourglass, you will be really happy with the updates they did to this title.

If you would ask me what my favorite game is, Phantom Hourglass or Spirit Tracks… Well, I can’t tell. I honestly enjoyed both games equally. And with that bit of knowledge about me, I want to say thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed read this as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope to welcome you in another article in the future. If you want to be kept up-to-date with everything I do, I recommend that you follow me on Twitter. My username is @nekojonez. And when you don’t have a Twitter account, you can just bookmark my Twitter to see my latest updates!

Score: 80/100