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Gamer’s Thoughts: Difficulty in games

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

My own views on game difficulty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How others think about difficulty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing off

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

If you have written or talked about this subject in the past or know a great resource like another article or video, feel free to send me a message with the link. Maybe I’ll included it in the next article. And with that said, I think I’ll really end off this article. Thank you everybody for helping me putting this article together. It was a blast. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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Gamer’s Thoughts: NekoJonez’s Top 10 Played Games of 2018

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2018 was an extremely strange year for me personally. A lot has happened in the past 12 months both good and bad. I have graduated this year. I’m now a bachelor in Computer Science – Networking. But on the other hand, I have gone through a lot of personal rough patches that did quite a number on my mental health. I’m slowly recovering and the support I’m getting is motivating me even more to go forward and get better. That said, I also played quite a lot of games this year. I got a Switch this year and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I also finished and completed a lot of games I started in the past few years so I had a bit of trouble putting this list together. So, for those who are new here, this list contains my 10 favorite games I have STARTED playing in 2018. The release date of the game itself doesn’t matter, what matters is that I started playing it in 2018. Before we get into the actual list, reminder, this list is my personal opinion. So, feel free to discuss it in the comments and also feel free to post your own list into the comments. I’m rather curious. Anyways, this introduction is getting quite long, it’s time to get into the actual list.

Place 10: Angels of Death (Nintendo Switch)

angels-of-death

My review

At first, this game would have a higher place on this list. The story and theming of this game grabbed my attention so much, I felt the black hole after finishing this game quite hard. I wanted to spend more time in the world of this game and spend more time with the characters.

I think that my love for the Corpse Party series and the Zero Escape series made me enjoy this game so much more. If you are a fan of either series, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

In addition to that, this game might have one of the best soundtracks I have heard this year. How many times I have listened to it this year, I lost count already. And mind you, I found this game in late October.

Now, why is this game not higher on the list? I praised it quite a lot in my review and I might have given the impression that this game would be my game of the year… Well, it’s because I played another horror game this year that just did that bit more. Outside of that, the short length and gameplay; the game felt like a game I play in between big releases. So yeah. That’s why.

Place 9: Shining Resonance – Refrain (Switch)

Shining_Metal_SwitchLarge.jpgWikipedia

So, back in 2016 I played Stella Glow.I got quite into the story of music playing a big role in an RPG by giving buffs or debuffs. When I found Shining Resonance: Refrain on the Nintendo eShop on the Switch and read that music played an important role as well, I was sold.

When I started to play this game, I got flashbacks to Stella Glow. Even when this game plays quite a lot differently than Stella Glow. This game is more action focused and in real time while Stella Glow’s gameplay is more a big puzzle and turn-based.

While I haven’t even come close to finishing this game, I’m quite curious what else I’ll encounter in this game. I’m at the midway mark of this game but I have been rushing through it. I think that the next couple of playing sessions will be to catch up with various side quests and improving my characters and their equipment since I quite a lot of trouble while battling the last boss.

Now, this game is a port of a PS3 game released in 2014. It’s also a part of the Shining series. If the other games in the series are as enjoyable as this game, I think I might explore this series in the future. Too bad that a lot of games in this series hasn’t left Japan.

Place 8: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland (Nintendo Switch)

Atelier Rorona

Wikipedia

So, not too long ago, a bundle of three Atelier games got released on the Nintendo Switch. These games are the Arland trilogy. After I figured out what was the first game in the series, I started playing Atelier Rorona.

I was very surprised with the game actually. The game is quite enjoyable to play but it can be repetitive. The game is about an alchemy workshop with a very lazy owner. You play as her pupil named Rorona. When the kingdom orders the closure of the workshop, you get three years to prove the worth of the shop and finish various assignments of the kingdom. If you fail one of these, the workshop closes right away.

Now, what I didn’t know is how replayable this game is. These are so many mechanics I discovered during my first time playing this game, I also found out that there are a lot of various endings to the game. Now that I have beaten the game once, I think I’ll first beat the other two games before I do another playthrough to get an even better ending.

I personally really liked this game but I have to say that this game isn’t for everyone. I recommend this game to everybody who enjoys a more laid back RPG game. This game does have a lot of depth, but overall I found this game a more relaxing experience. That statement might change if I try to go for the other endings, who knows.

In any case, I’m rather curious what the other two games have on offer for me. Since, I’m going to beat those next. And who knows, these games might convince me to further check out the Atelier series, of which there are many… many games.

Place 7: Resident Evil 4 (PlayStation 2)

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Wikipedia

When I started playing games like Corpse Party, Fatal Frame and Zero Escape; I knew that one day I’ll have to look into the horror genre. A long time ago, in one of my local toy stores, there was a PS2 booth where a demo of Resident Evil 4 was playable. I think I was 14 years old and while I enjoyed playing the game, I didn’t even know the title nor the impact that game was going to have in the gaming scene. I think I only played the game for like 10-15 minutes in total since the next time I went, the booth was replaced with a demo Gamecube with Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.

I actually forgot about the game until some of my favorite YouTubers started to talk about it on their channels. Back then, I was more into adventure and puzzle games, so I took note of the name and moved on.

Fast forward to this year. I was browsing the second hand games in my local game store and I saw a copy of Resident Evil 4 for the PS2 for only 10€. I didn’t hesitate twice. I bought this game and after I came home I started to play it right away. While I was afraid that I would suck at survival horror, I was able to finish chapter after chapter.

I also got quickly used to aiming and firing a gun with a controller. Since that was one of my biggest fears. I tried playing various shooters with a controller in the past and I always had a lot of trouble.

So, because I was highly surprised at how much fun I was having, I felt that this game rightfully deserved a spot on this year’s list.

Place 6: Project Zero II (Fatal Frame II) – The Crimson Butterfly (PlayStation 2)Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly.jpg

Wikipedia

So, due to Project Zero V – Maiden of the Black Water last year, I got quite into the Project Zero / Fatal Frame series. But seeing the pricing of getting other entries in the series ranging from 30€ to 60€, I had a hard time tracking down a copy.

To my surprise, around my birthday, somebody brought Fatal Frame I, II and III in to my local game store and I was able to buy the three titles for 20€ each.

I started playing all three games to test out if the games worked or not. Yet, when I was testing Fatal Frame II, I found myself not able to stop playing the game. The concept of the story where one sister is always looking for her sibling just spoke to me on a personal level. It was quite tricky to get used to playing this game on the PS2, since I always tried to move the camera while moving the PS2 controller since I was used it that playing the other game on the Wii U.

I enjoy playing this game the most, late at night while I darken my room and turn off the lights so I have only the glow of the TV and the disc spinning in the PS2 to keep my company. This makes the game and the experience that more enjoyable. I can’t wait to boot up my PS2 again tonight and try to make some more progress in this quite enjoyable game.

Place 5: Death Mark  (Nintendo Switch)

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Official website

It looks like I was on a horror rush this year. Death Mark is the 4th game on my favorite games of 2018 list. Now, when I wrote my Halloween special on Angels of Death this year, I actually completed the game before Halloween. So, I was looking for a new horror game to play on Halloween and that’s when I found Death Mark on the Nintendo eShop.

When I was looking at the screenshots and reading the description, it felt like a mixture of Corpse Party and the Zero Escape series. A visual novel horror adventure game that throws you in front of a lot of puzzles.

And that’s what the game delivers perfectly. An enjoyable story with multiple outcomes depending on your actions and one that gripped me to the end. While I was able to see some twists coming from a mile away, the pacing and writing the story more than made up for it.

The story is about a mysterious mark that appears on your body when you go to a haunted place and that mark spells death by dawn if you are unable to clear the grudge of the spirit that gave you the mark. So, if you enjoy a visual novel style horror adventure game, I highly recommend that you check out this game.

Now, Japan is getting a sequel/follow up to this game next year.  Now here is my call to the developers, please localize the follow up game as well. Looking at the screenshots and the teaser, I’m quite interested! And here is my call to everybody who is interested in horror, please give this game a shot and share it around. This game is highly underrated and deserves more attention and love!

Place 4: Blossom Tales (Switch)

Blossom Tales

My review

I often check the Nintendo Switch store for interesting and unique games. When I came across Blossom Tales, I was sold. The game looked like a well made 2D-Zelda clone and as a big fan of the Legend of Zelda… Let’s just say it was a no-brainier.

And I didn’t regret that decision once. I enjoyed playing this game quite a lot. I felt right at home as a Zelda fan. Also, this game reminded me a bit of the Fairune games. It reminded me how fun that 2D Zelda games are and how much I miss that style of gameplay. I wonder that if we are going to ever see a 2D Zelda game again after the massive success that was Breath of the Wild.  Only time will tell, but for now, I’m happy to see that there are indie game studio’s that will create games in that style so I’ll always have a game in that style to look forward too.

What I liked the most about this game was the unique way the story was told. A grandfather telling his grandchildren a story since they are bored. That’s one of the biggest strengths of this game. It gives off so much charm and character to the game, for that alone I would recommend that you play this game. And, since we are in the holidays period, the charm is even better!

Place 3: Fire Emblem Warriors (Nintendo Switch)

Fire-Emblem-Warriors-369674-Detail

My review

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. This game is one of the reasons I bought a Nintendo Switch. I think the praise I gave in my review on this game made it pretty clear that this was one of the best games I have played in 2018.

Honestly, at first I was afraid that I wasn’t going to like the game. Since I had put so many hours into Hyrule Warriors, I was afraid that I was burnt out on the formula and gameplay.

But Fire Emblem Warriors brings a lot of new and fresh mechanics to the table to make me enjoy the game even more. The only criticism I have about the game is that some parts are a bit too complex and not well explained enough in-game. Everything else is highly polished. Even the trick that Drakalus gave me to improve the frame rate in multiplayer aided quite a lot.

Thanks to this game, I got back into the Fire Emblem series. I think that in the upcoming months, I will start tackling my huge backlog of Fire Emblem games I have in my collection. I have at least 6 Fire Emblem games that I have started but never finished. I think it’s time to change that. This game convinced me that the series has quite a lot to offer and I can’t wait to see which adventures the world of Fire Emblem will bring me.

Place 2: Dragon Quest Builders (Nintendo Switch)

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My review

When I saw a trailer for Dragon Quest Builders for the first time, I was hooked. I was disappointed when I learned that this game was going to release for the PlayStation 3, 4 and PSVita. At first, I was considering to buy a PSVita for this game (and Corpse Party Blood Drive before that got ported over to Android)

The game got ported to the Nintendo Switch, so I was able to buy it on the system I bought this year. And I’m glad I was able to play this game. I loved every moment of this game and I’m so extremely hyped for the upcoming sequel. The Japanese version released a couple of days ago. It’s quite tempting to look up let’s plays but I want to keep my experience as spoiler free as I can.

The only new negative is that I’m unable to play the Terra Incognita mode. Since I have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription and purchasing that for only that and a few NES games is currently not worth it for me in my opinion. But hey, that’s my opinion.

Honorable mentions

Now, I have played a lot of games and some games deserve a mention but haven’t made it on my list for various reasons. So, before I reveal my “game of the year” / number 1, it’s time for the honorable mentions.
Cleopatra – A Queen’s Destiny (PC), Knights of Pen & Paper (PC/Switch), Darkest Dungeon (Switch), Kamiko (Switch), A Magical High School Girl (Switch), Grumpy Cat (Android),
Etrain Odyssey 5 (3DS), Zack & Wiki (Wii), Steamworld Dig 2 (3DS), Silent Hill 4 (PS2), Telsagrad (Wii U), DuckTales (NES), Age of Empires – Definitive Edition (PC), Devil May Cry 4 (PS2).

Now, I know that a lot of major titles released in 2018 didn’t make it on my list or on my honorable mentions. In any case, I think it’s time to reveal the game I was most hyped for this year and I enjoyed the most. Which game is MY personal game of the year 2018? Let’s. Find. Out.

Number 1 – Game of the Year – Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)

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My review

So, this experience. This game, is my game of the year in 2018. Shadow of the Tomb Raider. When I was planning the Tomb Raider – Writers Raid collaboration, I claimed this game right away. I wanted to write about this game.

While some fans in the Tomb Raider series aren’t a big fan of the reboot since it’s a more action focused and linear game; I enjoy the new direction of the series. Especially this game. The improved visual style, the improved writing, the improved quality of life features… The game is just an amazing way to finish this reboot trilogy.

I seriously hope that this isn’t going to be the final game in the Tomb Raider series. Since I enjoyed myself with this game so much, I can’t wait to see where Lara goes next. Besides that, this year a new Tomb Raider movie got released. That movie I personally enjoyed quite a lot. For a movie based on a video game, I find that they did an extremely good job. I’m not really a movie review but if I have to grade the movie, it would get a 75/100.

Now, why did I enjoy this game so much? Why did I pick this game as my game of the year? For several reasons, the first reason is that this game’s story is the best story out of the three games in the reboot series. I had several moments where I felt the emotions of the characters, the voice actors did that good of a job.

A second reason is that this game is just beautiful. The visual presentation is just amazing. There are various spots where you look out over a huge forest from on top of a mountain or you get other breath taking views. Now, a few moments had some minor visual glitching or some spots where the game could have look a bit better, but that might be because of my older GPU in my desktop. That might explain various lighting glitches I have in the post launch DLC.

A third reason why this is my game of the year is that the Tomb Raider series just means a lot to me personally. I’m a huge Indiana Jones fan and I see and I have always seen Lara Croft as a sort of “sister” to Indiana Jones. But Indiana Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention in the video game scene while Lara does get that. So, being able to play games like Tomb Raider… Well, it’s my favorite genre and style of games after all. A mystery adventure game mixed with action and platforming segments.

The only disappointing thing is that I don’t have a physical copy of this game. The PC version of this game hasn’t gotten a physical release. And I feel it would be a waste of money to buy a PS4 or XBOX copy of the game just to have a physical version. But, if you want to know my actual opinion on the game, I advise that you read my review. Since, I really detailed my opinion in that article.

So, if you will excuse me now. I think it’s time to wrap up this article so I can play the newly added tombs and story segments.

Wrapping up 2018.

Like I said in the beginning of this article, 2018 was an extremely weird year for me. I even got my articles stolen various times. Outside of that, I had 25,000 views on my blog. This is more than double compared to the amount of views I got in 2017.

This inspires me to continue and write even more articles in 2019. I have a few in mind so I hope I’ll be able to welcome you on my blog next year. Blogging is my biggest hobby since I’m able to share my opinion on the games I have played with the world. I’m quite grateful of everybody who reads my articles and leaves comments or talks to me on social media or even in person about my articles and/or the games I have talked about.

I also love it when developers contact me and give me various chances to play unique and fun games. It also helps me to expand my collection and takes makes me even more happy.

If I have to pick my favorite blogging moments of this year, I have to say how the community came together for helping me and other bloggers in fighting article theft, the Tomb Raider project and the various milestones I reached like 500+ followers on my Twitter. It’s still the best way to keep up-to-date with me.

2019 is going to celebrate the 9th year I have been blogging. Before 2013, I had a Dutch blog. That means that this blog will be 7 years old next year.

That will mean that 2020 will be an extremely special year for me. But, let’s focus first on 2019. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Speaking of 2019, I think I should talk about the games I’m looking forward to! That’s going to be (one of the) next articles on my blog. So, keep an eye out for that.

With that said, 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.

Review: Kirby Star Allies (Switch) ~ Let’s Be Friends

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Official website

I enjoy the Kirby games quite a lot. The atmosphere and gameplay are the biggest reasons I’m drawn to the series. So, when I learned that a new game got released on Switch, I placed it on my “To Buy” list. Earlier this month, I bought myself a copy of this game on a small sale. So, today I want to give my honest opinions on the game. Is it any good or is it not worth your time? After playing Kirby Triple Deluxe and Kirby Planet Robobot, I was quite interested to see what the new offer on the Nintendo Switch will bring. As usual, feel free to leave your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. 

It’s raining hearts

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Kirby is peacefully sleeping in his house when he gets a rude awakening. Some dark hearts are raining down on his homeland, the land of Popstar. Of course, Kirby goes on an adventure to save the day.

As usual for a Kirby story, the story isn’t the big reason you play this adventure. If you played Triple Deluxe or Planet Robobot, you have seen and experienced this story line and structure before. The writing is solid and together with the character noises, the story comes somewhat alive. But, again, the story shouldn’t be the reason you play a Kirby game.

If you do care about spoilers, don’t highlight the following part. But, I want to tell some things about the ending of the main story. So highlight the rest of this paragraph if you don’t mind spoilers or have already beaten the game. … Okay, while I was playing the final levels of this game, I got a déjà vu. And I had to look it up. This ending has actually been done quite a few times before, but the reason I got a deja vu is because this ending is so similar to the ending of the Kirby game on NES. Seriously, watch a video from the final boss of Kirby Star Allies and than Kirby on the NES. You will be surprised. But, I guess it’s a reference or easter egg? 

Alright, the spoilers end here. Before I continue any further, I want to say that this game is extremely short. You can finish this game in an afternoon since the main story will take you only 6 hours. If you want to complete the whole game, you can do this in 14 hours. This was a huge let down, since the 3DS games were longer than that to fully complete. If you wanted to fully complete those games, you have to put aside 26 hours for each game.

I honestly don’t understand why this game is so short. Since the worlds you explore are fun to go through. Yet, there are only 4 worlds, well 5 if you count the one-stage world to fight the final boss in.

Besides that, there are a few mini-games and a co-op mode and that’s it. The post-game content isn’t anything special. I’m sorry, but Nintendo, why is this game priced at 60€? Are we for real? You can get the 3DS games for less money. Also, other Switch games like Super Mario Odyssey have a lot more to do in it for the same price tag.

Anyways, I’m not going to ramble about the price & length for too long. Otherwise it will overtake this whole review. Let’s be friends and review this … short … adventure.

Let’s be friends

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Each Kirby game has an unique gimmick that sets the games apart. In this game, you can recruit 3 enemies to fight along your side. These characters can be controlled by either a pretty good AI or a friend.

I haven’t played this game with a friend so, I won’t comment on that but, you can play this game with up to 4 players. Since the game is quite short, this game would make for the ideal late night gaming session to play through with your friends.

Now, this game goes further with the gimmick and sort-of reuses a gimmick from a previous entry in the series. Remember Kirby 64 – The Crystal Shards, where you were able to combine two different powers to create one unique power? Well, that returns in this game. Sort of.

For example, when you get the sword ability, you can hold up your sword up in the air. When some elemental friend sees this, they will infuse their power with the sword. So, you can get a flame sword. This leads to some unique strategies and puzzles to get the collectibles.

I found it quite enjoyable to see which unique combinations I could make by mixing powers. While some combinations create the same outcome, I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t too many joke combinations in this game. That was part of the charm in Crystal Shards. Where a combination could turn Kirby into a fridge.

Each time you combine a power, an animation plays where Kirby shows his new weapon/ability in a short of Smash Bros style. Surprisingly, you can change this in the options menu. You can choose between “always show them” or “show them only once.”. If you pick the last one, it will play the animation for each combination one time and when you make that combination again, it won’t play that animation.

There are various new unique abilities in the game as well. For example, the spider and art ability. To be honest, the art ability is overpowered, even for a Kirby game. It can spawn in various healing items with a short cool down. So, you can heal yourself and allies very quickly.

Now, I might be a bit too harsh on this game now. While the game is too short and could have been expanded a bit more, the level design was a blast to play through. The various abilities and friend combinations you can have make for a very replayable game. Also, in the puzzle rooms, the abilities you need are usually inside the room. And if the AI kills them, just walk off screen, wait a few moments and go back and they will have respawned.

The collectibles this time around are puzzle pieces. The hunt for them reminds me of the puzzle mini-game in the Mii Plaza on the 3DS. There are two types of puzzle pieces inside the levels. The normal blue ones and the special rainbow colored ones. The special rainbow colored ones unlock the pink pieces. The blue ones unlock a random piece of a picture. These pictures are just for having something to collect. I think they unlock new characters in the Dream Palace, but I’m unsure. Since I got every character unlocked by beating the game but I haven’t got all puzzles unlocked. The message after unlocking a puzzle stats: “You will be able to meet legendary characters”. So yeah.

It’s no secret that the Kirby games are easy and have a more challenging mode for more experienced players. To fully complete the puzzles, you will have to look around in the various levels. If you would have missed an unique piece, you can see that right from the level select screen. Included on the level select screen, you can also see if there is a hidden switch in the level that opens a hidden level. Including the hidden levels, there are 40 levels in total.

Press X to revive

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These 40 levels take you through 4 different chapters. During these 4 chapters, you explore various locations presented with an amazing visual polish.

The artwork in this game is really good. Together with great animations, the game’s visual presentation is top notch. I don’t have anything to criticize on that front.

In terms of the music and sound, I do have something to say. The soundtrack of this game is pretty good. For those who love nostalgia as much as myself, you will be happy to know that there are a lot of musical references in this soundtrack. Now, there are a few tracks of this soundtrack I disliked. These play in the final moments of the game. Thankfully, it’s only for one battle.

Now, speaking about battles and combat, the controls for this game are good. I did had some minor issues here and there. With some abilities I was unable to easy switch directions, like with the bird ability. When I started attacking, I felt I was locked in that attacking animation. Giving my enemy the chance to put in some damage.

It’s a minor problem since I finished this game with 85 additional lives. You only loose a life when Kirby dies. When an ally dies, you can hold “X” for a short time to revive them with a 1/2 health bar. Speaking about those friends, like the music there are some amazing references there too. My favorite reference is the return of the animal buddies from Kirby’s Dreamland 2 on the gameboy. That game was one of the first Kirby games I ever played.

Anyways, I was talking about the minor issues I had with controls. Another minor issue is that when you have a certain ability and you want to release that ability as a friend… Well, though luck. I haven’t found a way to do that.

The gameplay in this game is like any other Kirby game. It’s a 2D platformer-adventure game where you try to get to the big door at the end of the level. Now, another unique gimmick appears in some levels. In some levels, you will need to have 3 friends before you can progress. You can come across pedestals where you can “merge” together to from a bridge for an ally with a key to cross or you can form a boulder to roll down smashing rocks. I know that it’s a kids game, but the names the developers gave for some of these things are just… “The Friendship Bridge”… Do I have to say more?

The game is still a blast to play. I enjoyed myself quite a lot and rarely got annoyed with the level design. The final level gets a bit tricky with moving blocks. I lost a handful of lives thanks to being squished by those blocks. But, I was rushing things where I needed to take it slow.

Besides the music and various returning characters, the game has other references to previous games in them. Just look at what statues Kirby can change into using the stone ability. The Kirby dance makes a return as well and is adorable as ever.

In this game, there are also various puzzle rooms where you can get bonus stars, puzzle pieces and various other things. By default, the game tells you which abilities you need to use to solve the puzzle. You can disable this in the options menu, from the main menu. Why are the options you find in the main menu not able to be changed during gameplay? I can understand that it’s tricky to code while you are in a level but I think it would serve no big problems on the world map right?

The post-game content is decent but I expected a lot more from it. The two new modes are fun to mess around with but I feel like they are more designed for multi-player than for single player.

Anyways, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s time for the conclusion of this article and my final thoughts on the game.

The conclusion

The good:

+ Fun new gimmicks.

+ Fun to play.

+ Great visual design.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ The nostalgic references.

The bad:

-Way too short & too expensive at 60€.

-Minor control issues.

-The story…

-Useless collectibles.

Final thoughts:

Is this game a bad game? No, this game is a decent game but it’s too light on content. This game has the usual Nintendo polish and there is nothing really game breaking wrong with the game.

My big problem with this game is the length and the price they ask for it. In addition to that, some parts of this game are more designed for multiplayer. I feel that this game could be more fun to play with friends or family.

I do recommend this game, but wait for a price drop or buy it on the cheap. If you pay full price for this game like myself, the shortness of the game might be disappointing. I was able to beat this game in 2 days. This game just needed a longer development time.

That’s everything for this article. Thank you so much for reading 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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 65/100

EDIT: This post got a “Nice Job” badge from NormalHappenings. Read more here: https://normalhappenings.com/2018/09/14/nice-job-badges-for-september-14-and-a-guide-to-making-the-most-boring-game-show-ever/

 

10 Games I’m looking forward to playing in 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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

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

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

 

Review: A Hat In Time (PC – Steam) ~ Time Pieces Everywhere

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I could start this introduction to this game with talking about how this game took a long time to develop, how this game started on Kickstarter. Yet, that wouldn’t be needed, since that’s a well-known fact about this game. While I have beaten the game, I haven’t 100% it. I’m pretty close, but that doesn’t stop me from writing a review of this game. I played this game on PC, using a wireless XBOX360 controller. So, I hope you are ready to dive into this game since I’m ready to review it. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

“Mafia is here to collect”

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In this game, you play as Hat Kid. She is flying home in her spaceship. When she gets into trouble with a mafia dude messing with her spaceship, Hat Kid’s timepieces drop down to the planet below. It’s your goal to find them and collect them all so you can get back home.

The main story of this game is really light-hearted, but it does the job pretty well. The writing of the characters is just amazing. All the characters you encounter on your journey are pretty memorable.

In addition to that, the voice acting is just perfect. Sometimes I really felt that these characters were real. The voice actors may pat themselves on the back for this. I really enjoyed that part of the game.

The story made me laugh several times and made me smile over and over again. The charm and attention to detail in this game is just astounding. In one outdoor level, rain is falling. And Hat Kit is wearing a raincoat in that level.

While the final boss shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who played the first few levels of the first world, the way how the ending is handled and the motivations of the characters wraps up the game nicely. There was even a moment I had to pause the game and put my controller down. The game had hit a personal chord with me. I’m not going to explain why and how to avoid spoiling the end but it’s just great.

Something I really like about this game is how no cutscene drags on for too long. You are right into the gameplay after a few minutes. This is a feeling a lot of other reviewers share with me.

Pretty worlds

A Hat in Time2I could continue to talk for quite a while about the writing, but a review of a game should talk about more than just that. The writing brings so much charm to the game just like the visual presentation. The game just is eye-candy.

The atmosphere that’s created with the visuals is just amazing to look at. I had several moments where I was in awe just finding little secrets in Mafia Town. The world feels alive. Just like the writing, the visual presentation adds so much charm and personality to the game.

Something I only noticed when I watched Nitrorad’s video about A Hat in Time was the different idle animations Hat Kid has. She is so cute and adorable. If I could, I would love to have her in my friend circle without a doubt.

So, the visual presentation, animation, and writing all help build an amazing world. While there are only 4-6 worlds in the game currently, depending if you count the final boss level and the hub or not. This might seem that the game is rather short, and it is.

The game can be beaten in one day if you know what you are doing. Yet, there are rumors floating around that there is more content coming in the future. I also heard that this content is going to be free. Yes, two new free worlds! I can’t wait to play them. If you can’t wait, there is a Steam Workshop and mod support in this game. So, you can play a lot of player created content to ease the wait.

I’m playing this game casually and taking my time with it. I’m taking everything in and think I can complete the game in 20 hours. But, I don’t want the game to be over. I just want to continue to run around in the unique worlds and explore each level as much as I can.

The theming of each world is just amazing. While a lot of people say that their favorite world is the 2nd world, the Bird Studio world, I have to disagree. In that world, there is too much focus on stealth. A game mechanic I don’t really enjoy. I really loved the 3rd world. The more creepy world. Something just clicked more with me in that world.

I can’t put my finger on just why, but maybe the music has to do with it. The soundtrack and sound design of this game are just wonderful. I even bought the soundtrack and I put it on my phone in my day-to-day playlist. It’s that good.

This game is mostly an adventure/platformer game in the style of Super Mario 64/Mario Sunshine. For those games, you need great control or otherwise, you won’t be able to fully enjoy this game. For no special reason, I started playing this game with a controller and to be honest, it clicked. While I think you would enjoy this game with mouse & keyboard, I think that playing with a controller is the way to go for this game.

The attention to detail in the game continues with the controller actually. I have seen so many games where when you boot it with a controller, keyboard input is disabled. This isn’t the case in this game. Also, when you boot the game with a controller and press a key on your keyboard, the on-screen button prompts change to the keyboard layout and give a quick pop-up at the side: “new input found: keyboard”. That’s a great feature.

The control is really great for this game. The only thing I had to get used to is the wall jump mechanic. Hat Kid can climb a little bit up instead of sliding down. But, in order for this to happen, you have to press the button to move forward. The times I pressed the jump button and fall to my doom… Well, it happened more often then I dare to admit.

While I had an issue here and there with Hat Kid not being able to jump when she is under a ceiling, the patch that arrived earlier this week fixed a lot of those instances. Whenever you report a problem, the community is really helpful to try and solve it. Also, the developer actively reads the Steam Forums and tries to create a patch as soon as they can. I wish more developers did this.

The UI of this game is just excellent. I really enjoy how simple and to the point the UI is. I have nothing more to say about that.

What is this game exactly?

HatinTime3

So, I have been praising this game to the heavens and I haven’t talked about what you have to do this in this game. Well, let me fix that.

If you know how Super Mario 64 works, you know how A Hat In Time plays, somewhat. You have 4 different worlds that feature different levels each. In each level, you have a certain goal to achieve and your reward for completion is a timepiece. In some levels, you can also find a time rift. These bring you to special raw platforming stages that reward you in the end with a timepiece. You will have to find these time rifts since you only get a photo of the area where it is, so you will to explore the world to find the timepiece.

A minor complaint I want to bring up is that when you find a time rift and find the timepiece, you go back to the hub. The issue here is that you aren’t able to return to the world you were in, where you found the timepiece. And one time, I nearly finished a level and I hit a time rift by accident. For those curious, it was the lava level in Mafia Town.

Apart from each world having a unique theme, they also have unique gameplay styles. For example, in the 2nd world, there is more focus on stealth. While in the 3rd world, you have to do chores for the demon of the forest.

I really like the diversity the game brings to the table. Each world and level puts your skills to the test and challenges you with great challenges. You will have to use all your hat abilities multiple times. I felt that nothing went underused in this game.

I really enjoyed collecting the yarn balls to craft new hats. I really enjoyed collecting the green gems to buy new badges to further expand Hat Kit her skill set. You even have a badge that makes the game even harder, one that gives you one health point for example. You can quickly change between hats. Also, time slows down when you switch between hats.

Speaking of challenge, the part that gave me the most challenge were the bosses of this game. They are all unique and have different attack patterns. Something I recommend that you do when you are stuck with a boss is trying to figure out their patterns as soon as you can.

This game isn’t too challenging. The penalty for dying is starting the stage over from the last checkpoint. And the game is very forgiving with health pickups littered all over the stages.

All in all, there is a lot to experience in A Hat In Time. The gameplay offers quite a lot and I can’t wait to see what the end worlds will offer. I think it would be cool if we have an Egyptian or Greek themed world. But, we will have to wait and see until more information is released.

Another big positive of this game is that the game only costs 28€ here in Europe. Believe me, I find this really cheap for the content you get.

Now, is this game perfect? So far, I have sung a lot of praises about this game and I haven’t mentioned anything negative about this game apart from the game’s short length and the nitpick about time rifts.

One flaw this game has is that the camera can be really annoying to control. Something a lot of other reviewers mentioned as well. I do have to agree with them, the camera can be annoying sometimes. But, it works amazingly more often than not.

Another flaw is how underdeveloped the time rift tokens are. You find them in hard to reach or hidden places. You can use three of them to spin a roulette wheel for new visual costumes/colors/remixes of songs. Now, when you exit out of the roulette wheel without picking a price, you lose your rift tokens. Besides that, when you want to unlock everything, you can’t. Since there are more things you can unlock than there are rift tokens.

I also don’t like how the game completion percentage only tracks the number of timepieces you have. It would be cooler if it also counted if you have unlocked all the hats and things like that.

The only minor issue I have with the UI is the fact that sometimes it didn’t display when I reached a checkpoint in the game. It didn’t happen once or twice, and it’s a real bummer.

One of the biggest things that annoyed me in my playthroughs is the hat changing. Now, this is a minor flaw and a nitpick; but it’s something I would love to see changed. Sometimes, when I quickly changed a hat while I was using the controller, the game didn’t register it. I have to wait a little bit longer before the hat is changed. Now, this issue isn’t present when you play with a mouse and keyboard since you see a visual line going to the hat when it’s selected. This isn’t present when you are playing with a controller.

Here is another nitpick. When you alt+tab out of the game, the music is still playing.

The biggest issue is the occasional glitch in this game. There are a few things that bug out, like Hat Kid getting stuck on walls while she uses her grappling hook but these things are easy to recover from. Also, with the frequent updates, a lot of these bugs are fixed as long as you report them.

But, I think you see my point here. The issues with the game aren’t game breaking or made me enjoy the game less. I do admit that the game isn’t flawless, but the flaws that are present are more minor problems.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. There are a few features and things I left out this review about this game. It’s time to give my final thoughts on this game in the conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

-There are some occasional moments where the game glitches out.

-Switching hats with a controller don’t always work when you do it quickly.

-The camera can cause some issues here and there.

-The game is way too short in its current condition.

The good:

+ Amazing visuals.

+ Fun and lighthearted story.

+ Great level design.

+ Amazing variety.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Apart from Super Mario 64, I haven’t played a lot of games in this style. When Yooka Laylee released earlier this year to mediocre reviews, I didn’t have a high expectation for this game.

After a few minutes of playing this game, I was hooked. The charm and atmosphere of this game are just so addictive. I really enjoyed my time with this game. A Hat In Time has grown on me. I wish I did back the Kickstarter for this game back in 2013.

This game is so much fun to play and I can’t wait to fully complete this game. After I have beaten the game, one thing is for sure, I’m going to try out the community created mods and wait for the new worlds to arrive.

This game is one of the best games I have played in 2017. The amount of effort this small time put into this game is just mind-blowing. This game has no major flaws and it comes highly recommended from me.

While some people would say that this game does nothing innovative, I think you shouldn’t hold it against this game. It’s clear that this game is highly inspired by other titles but it’s a great homage and it does everything in such an amazing execution.

The game has flaws, yes. But, the flaws didn’t stop me from enjoying the game an awful lot.

Thank you Gears For Breakfast for delivering such an amazing game and I can’t wait to see where you take this game. I also hope you guys are also thinking about either more worlds or a sequel since I’m hungry for more Hat in Time! You have put a smile on my face from beginning to end.

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

Score: 100/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: Are retro or retro-styled games too hard?

retro consolesThe tweet that started that gave me the idea for this article.

A few days ago, the Well Red Mage made a tweet with the very question that is the title of this article. We talked about this a bit back & forth on Twitter. After a few tweets, I thought that my answer would make a great article in my gamer’s thoughts series. I play retro and more modern games, so I think my opinion can matter in the grand scheme of things here. So, here are my two cents. As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion about the content of the article and/or the question. 

Are games too hard?

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Back in 2013, I wrote an article talking about: “What’s a retro game“. I asked myself the question, when does a game become retro? For the sake of this article, let’s not go too in depth about that, since we are here to answer another question.

Let’s focus first on the retro games. Games that are at least 15 years old. Are those too hard? This is a tricky question to answer.

Currently, playing games is a more frequent hobby. There are more people who play games than there were in the past. So, modern games became more accessible. This doesn’t always mean that games of today are easier. There are still very difficult games out there like Dark Souls or the Touhou games. Also, let’s keep it general in this article. Since there are always exceptions to the rule.

This does mean that some retro games are less accessible. This makes them overwhelming and more difficult. For example, the first Tomb Raider games. There were no real tutorials or anything of that nature. So, you had to figure a lot out by yourself. Some old Tomb Raider games had tutorials, but they were optional. You didn’t have to play them. This meant that you didn’t learn all the mechanics and moves. But, that has changed. Now, almost every game starts out with a tutorial.

The fact that the gaming industry has changed makes answering the question of this article more difficult. The first commercial game cabinets were published in the late 1970’s and the first consoles came not too long after. The gaming industry is still quite young when you compare it to other media. Nowadays, developers have more experience.

Let’s leave it at that, otherwise, we might be here all day talking about the changes in the gaming industry instead of trying to answer the question of the article. So, are retro games too hard?

Retro games

Wikipedia_NES_PALHonestly, this is too general question to be able to answer. But, I honestly think that it all comes down to the play style a gamer prefers.

A very common issue with older games is that some games required so much time input to memorize each level and area to get the most perfect run. Time, that not everybody has in this day and age.

Additionally, this can be a very frustrating game mechanic. Having to play each level over and over again. So, when we get bored with a game; we simply take another game to play. There are so many games we can play nowadays. Something we lacked in the past, so we tried and tried again until we succeeded to beat the Pokémon Leauge Champion or Doctor Robotnik.

Modern games are spoilt with the latest and best knowledge of the developers. Something that makes a huge difference is the controls. There are more buttons on the modern game controllers compared to the retro style controllers. This means that the developers can give better controls to the player. I grew up with the D-Pad, but I prefer to play platformers with a joystick now. You have better control of your character and this makes the game easier.

Handholding

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Something I noticed in modern games is that they are sometimes too easy. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are a perfect example. I didn’t loose one fight in that game, I was able to beat that game with ease.

That isn’t the only game that I played that I didn’t have a lot of trouble with to beat the game. Perhaps, the fact that I’m older and more skilled with games has to do with it. Because I’m nowadays able to beat sections in games I never got passed as a kid for some reason.

I can’t deny that some games hold your hand throughout the adventure or give you tips that help you to beat the game. Mini-maps and mission markers are great examples. There are a lot of modern game mechanics that make games for the player too easy. Some open world games even lack the scene of discovery. Thankfully, Breath of the Wild fixes this somewhat with its towers. Frustrated Jacob made a great video with this point.

In retro games, you didn’t have the hand-holding or all the mechanics we have today. Making the game more difficult in the process. Does that make the games too hard? No, not in my opinion. It makes them outdated. Does outdated mean bad? Far from it!

Retro games are still a lot of fun and they are still relevant. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have retro-styled games. One of my favorite retro styled games is Retro Game Challenge on the DS. In this game, you play through some games that are inspired by retro game classics like Gallica.

I think that retro games aren’t too hard per se, they are out dated due to older and limited technology. Also, modern games are made with more knowledge about how games work. But, let’s not forget about the impact that the internet has in this argument.

Walkthroughs and YouTube videos expose the secrets of every game in mere days of its release. There are a lot of guides to get the best armor or what the fastest or most optimal route is through a game. I think that the impact of the internet speaks for itself here.

So, are retro(styled) games too hard? No, not really. They just use mechanics that have been improved and perfected over time. Games are more accessible now.

I would love to hear your opinion about this. Do you think that retro games are too hard and why? Tell me in the comments and maybe I write a follow-up article using your comments.

But, that’s everything I wanted to say about this subject for now. 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 artice but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Ever Oasis (3DS) ~ Sunny Desert Adventure

Ever Oasis.pngOfficial website

So, Nintendo released a new IP. It’s called Ever Oasis. I honestly pre-ordered it and currently, I’m over half way with this game. In this article, I’ll tell you if this game is worth to be bought and be in your collection. I pre-ordered this game since I got very interested when I saw it in the E3 2016 and E3 2017. But enough introduction, is this game a good or a bad purchase?  As usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Sandy Dunes

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(2)

In this game, you play as an Oasis Chief. The main character has no real name since you can decide it for yourself at the start.

When I started this game, I was disappointed by one thing from the start. This game has no voice acting nor any sounds that the characters make while they speak. This is a true shame since a bit of the charm of this game is lost because of it.

Anyways, the story itself. You start out in the oasis of your brother. You learn some basic things about what an oasis is. The oasis is a very calm and peaceful place. But, that all changed when the fire nation— I mean Chaos attacked. This “Chaos” turns innocent creatures into nasty monsters and expand the desert. Your brother transports you to safety while he deals with trying to his oasis. You end up at the last Water Spirit and you start your own oasis together. Your main mission is to try to defeat Chaos before it does any more harm to the world.

The writing in this game is really enjoyable. Due to the lack of voice acting, I wasn’t too immersed into the story. Well, there are some sound effects when the characters talk but it isn’t enough to give character to the characters. It just didn’t click enough with me.

Also, during most of the game, the story plays it a bit too safe. I wish a bit more things happened instead of the repetitive nature of the story. At first, I had trouble explaining why the story wasn’t clicking with me. The writing was enjoyable, so that couldn’t be it. Then, I suddenly realized it. There are two big issues with the story.

There is a serious lack of character development. You barely get to know the people of your oasis. There is no real struggle that can happen in your oasis. No shop keepers that can get jealous of other shop keepers or arguments you have to fix. When you finish a quest for somebody, they rarely to never ask you something again. This makes characters somewhat forgettable and that’s a shame.

The second problem with the story is the pacing.  I’ll expand on this a bit later, but due to the pacing, the story always continues forward in a straight line. Like I mentioned in the previous part, there is no character development. Each time you solve somebody’s problems, a new character gets introduced.

Too short?

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(6)

Due to the pacing, you got through this game at a pretty fast pace. This gives me the impression that this game is rather short. But it isn’t too short. An average playthrough of this game can last you 30 to 40 hours to complete the game.

The pacing could have been better if there was more downtime between the main story elements. Since then, I could explore more of this game at my own pace. But, that main story arrow is always grabbing my attention.

Something I really like about this game is that this game looks amazing. The animations of the game look amazing as well. The visual presentation of this game is just great. You really feel you are in some oasis-type area with a lot of Egyptian-looking areas and caves to explore.

Also, the map of this game is rather big. Thankfully, you have some quick travel points that you can use to quickly travel to some place if you need to be somewhere for a quest and you don’t want to go the long way.

When you play this game, you will quickly realize that this game took inspiration from the old-school Zelda dungeons to make its own dungeons. When you are a big Zelda fan, you will feel right at home in these dungeons. The only big difference is that you have to make use of each character their special abilities if you want to find each secret chest.

Yet, the exploration could have been improved by two things. The first thing is a sort of ‘note system’. Like the beacons in The Legend Of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Like, I want to explore this part of the cave later with another character. Thankfully, there is the Aqua Gate mechanic. This warps you and your two allies to the oasis so you can switch characters easily and warp back to the spot you warped from. So, this isn’t too big of an issue, but it would be a lovely feature.

But the second thing that could improve the exploration is to get rid of the only 2 allies limit. You can only bring 2 allies on your journey at once. But, the caves and areas you explore have sometimes more than three things that can only be activated by special abilities at once. So, I have to use the Aqua Gate too much to finish a dungeon.

Hiya!

Ever-Oasis-Preview-Shot-(4)

This game allows you to play every ally you have during your exploration. By simply tapping down on the D-pad, you can take control of the other character.

The controls itself are excellent. I rarely had problems controlling my character nor would I change anything.

The difficulty of this game isn’t too brutal. If you know what you are doing and how each character fights, you beat each enemy you come across. But, use your healing items wisely. Since they are a bit too grindy to craft and they are pretty rare to come across in the wild.

There is a mechanic that makes a fainted/dead character more interesting. As soon as a character runs out of energy, it gets healed back up automatically. But, you can speed up this process by spamming the “A” button near the corpse. This is dangerous to do however since you leave yourself open for enemy attacks. Something I truly like in this game is that it isn’t an automatic game over when the main character dies. You automatically switch over to another character.

One of the most interesting features of this game is how much health you have and how a character gets stronger. Let’s first talk about health. Each character has his or her own base health. But, you get some additional health depending on how well you clean up your oasis and how stocked you keep the shops in your oasis. The better you upkeep your oasis, the more additional health your characters get.

Let’s talk about how characters level up or better said, get stronger now. You only get experience points when you return to the oasis. This makes grinding a bit more annoying since you don’t know when to stop. But, this makes it more interesting since you don’t know when you need to stop.

Lastly, I want to talk about the soundtrack of this game. I really enjoy listing to it. I even consider adding it to my soundtrack playlist. It fits the theme perfectly. It adds so much additional character to the game.

In conclusion, at this moment in time, I think that this game is worth a playthrough if you like adventure games like the Zelda series. But, this game isn’t perfect. It’s sad to see that there is so much potential with this game. Maintaining the oasis feels more like a side part of the game than an actual part of the game. I honestly think that I expected more from this game and also I expected more focus on the oasis than on the exploration.

I do have to beat this game before I can form a final opinion on this game. There are two save slots so I can restart this game easily when I want to mess around a bit in this game.

In any case, thats everything I wanted to say about this game. 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!

2016 – I’m looking forward to you!

Happy-New-Year-2016-quotesAlright, 2015 is almost over with. So, I think it’s time to look– nah, that’s for later this month. Let’s look forward now. In this article I want to talk about a few games I’m looking forward to in 2016. The ones I have pre-ordered. But keep in mind, I haven’t watched or read much about the games I’m going to talk about. Since I want to keep myself as spoiler free as possible. I really hate hype trains. Since your expectations can go through the roof and then when you get an awesome game, you are disappointed it didn’t meet your ridiculously high expectations. In a few cases, I only watched to the trailer or saw some screenshots. Others just sold me on being a game in a series I enjoy. In any case, this is in a random order. Also, feel free to talk about your most wanted games in the comments. Which ones did you pre-order? Or feel free to comment on the games I’m looking forward to in 2016.

000000000000031584_GM_PACKAGE_0001_MRollercoaster Tycoon 4 – World

The Rollercoaster Tycoon series is one series I have played too much. When I was a child, this was one of the only games I played on the PC. For a while I didn’t care about other games. I kept playing this one. While I wasn’t very good at it; I enjoyed myself quite a lot. When RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 hit store shelves, I heard that people weren’t all that happy with the game.

I can understand why, the game could used a few more months of polishing. But the expansion packs really helped quite a lot. I didn’t experience a lot of problems so, I thought it was a very good game. Oh, I remember that one time my computer bugged out and installed everything of one expansion pack in Dutch while I install all the rest in English. That was easily fixed by reinstalling the expansion pack.

In any case, I was always hoping for a new entry in the series. And now, we are getting it in 2016. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4. Funded by the mobile app. I have only seen a video on it. Not a trailer, but somebody who messed around with it on a game show. So, I got even more excited.

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon

000000000000033251_GM_PACKAGE_0001_MIf you follow my blog, it should be pretty clear I’m quite a big fan of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. The story always manages to make me emotional at the end. Now, that Mega Evolution are introduced, I’m very curious how they are going to build it into the game. I was really waiting for this game since when I saw the trailer, I was hooked.

This game is going to be released in February. That’s around my birthday. which will make this game a perfect gift. That’s why I really have faith in this game. Since it’s coming out in the best month of the year. (In my opinion.)

But hey, I’m just glad it’s not a remake or remaster of a previous title. That this is a totally new game. A total new story. In the meantime I’m playing Etrian Odyssey Mystery Dungeon. But that’s a totally different experience. I honestly love this series a bit more then other mystery dungeon games. It’s more simple. It’s “easier” and more fun. Again, in my opinion.

The Legend Of Zelda – Wii U

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So, this title is getting a lot of hype. When one screenshot or trailer appears, it’s all over all the game news sites. From the trailer I saw, it appears that this game is going to have a different hero then Link. Which makes it even more interesting for me to play. I’m really curious what they are going to do with this game. But what I’m really looking forward too is the world. Since the visuals show a lot of promise.

This will be one of the best Zelda games ever. I have a gut feeling. I just hope that this game gets the polish it deserves since they are releasing two Zelda games next year. A HD remake of Twilight Princess and this title. Wait, actually three titles. Man, it’s going to be a great year to be a Zelda fan!

So, I’m also waiting for the sequel to Hyrule Warriors. In my eyes, it’s a sequel, Hyrule Warrior’s Legends. But hey, I’m getting off topic here.

So, this is the first game I pre-ordered for next year. It’s holding the most promise for a fun gaming year. Something big and fresh with the amazing Zelda formula. Come to think of it, I’m praising this game to heaven and back when I only saw a trailer and some random screenshots. It’s so hard to not look at the news or the other trailers. I want to be kept as spoiler free as possible.

Wrapping up

So, there are a couple of others that I wanted to mention in this article. But two of them are already released. Yokai Watch, lucky Americans… and the new Tomb Raider game… Lucky XBOX ONE users.

The sequel to Bravely Default is the other game I’m looking forward too. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m sorry that it’s a bit shorter then usual, but I have a cold and can’t really focus my writing this weekend. In any case, this is the end of the article! I hope to see you in the next one~

Rant #010: The New 3DS announcement.

newnintendo3dsIt has been quite some time since I facepalmed with an announcement of Nintendo. This was one of those moments. In my opinion, Nintendo didn’t do the right thing with this announcement. Long time readers know that I’m a big fan of handhelds. I even did a special month about (3)DS games last month. I wasn’t planning to write an article about new stuff, but this just takes the cake perfectly. I do realize that I’m going to get some hate for this, but I’m prepared for it. I do still love Nintendo and I wish them best of luck with their new 3DS, but I think that this is going to give problems in the long run. Because I want to continue blogging about handhelds, I will buy the system for sure. But that won’t stop me from ranting about it. Anyways, I’m repeating myself. Let’s dive right into why I think the new 3DS’s announcement isn’t all that great. Feel free to leave a comment on this article. Be warned! This is my opinion and I delete harsh and trolling comments. 

DS – DSi

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So, in the previous generation, something similar happened. The old DS got an upgrade. The DS Lite was mostly a visual improvement. The system became much more fun to hold. After that, we got the DSi. Apart from a better menu system and a camera, nothing big changed. Even when we got the DSi XL. Apart from a bigger screen, nothing big changed under the hood.

Because of that, it came as no surprise to me when we got the 3DS XL. Even when they released the 2DS, I expected that. Because the handheld is marketed to kids and for people who can’t see 3D (that well). It’s cheaper as well.

Now, they are going to release the “new 3DS”. When I found out the news, I was on the train home. I actually facepalmed when I was reading the various articles. I was disappointed to hear when people are hyped about this and that they don’t see the issues that are currently at hand.

Let me first start about the confusion that this device will create. Let us first talk about the elephant in the room. The name! The “new 3DS”. I seriously hope that they are going to change the name. Because if they release it like this, the old model’s sales will drop. Not only that, the word “new” doesn’t fit in a title for a console or handheld. It just feels awkward to me.

Visual issues

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Let me get some design mistakes out of the way. The little button you see above the “A”, “B”, “X” and “Y” buttons, is actually a joystick. It’s one of the main selling points of this new system. It will function like a C-stick. Now, it looked first as the power button to me. A small round button like on the DSi. Such a small joystick, well, that explains itself.

They also moved the start and select buttons. So, for what reason are those buttons moved? Why couldn’t you put a bigger additional joystick there? Instead of moving those buttons?

I was about to complain about the Circle Pad addition to the 3DS, but I’m glad that I researched this a bit. It’s now rendered useless. Just great! You bought this additional joystick for nothing! You will be able to use that tiny joystick as a 2nd one.

If you don’t see the problem yet, let me tell you. It’s the size. The circle pad is bigger then the new joystick, so more comfortable to use.

The fact that the buttons now have each a different color, like the SNES controller… Well, I don’t have a big issue with that. It isn’t that visually pleasing in my eyes, since apart from nostalgia, I don’t see the point of it. And why do they to fully color the buttons on the white version and not on the blue version?

Another issue I have is that they moved the cartrigde slot into the front. If the issue isn’t clear yet, take your 3DS and hold it like you would be playing a game like Zelda. Notice where the palm of your hand is? Close to the location of where the cartridge will be. So, this might cause some problems for people who get really sucked into a game and then by accident touch the cartrigde. A solution for this problem might be a sort of latch you can pull to prevent this.

Developer issues

Here is the biggest issue of them all. The new 3DS is going to be a more powerful machine then the original 3DS. It will be able to run ported Wii games. While that sounds great on paper, it has a big issue.

So, image that you are creating a new game for the 3DS. Now, since they are going to release the new system along-side the old model, you will have to make sure that the game runs on the old models. Not only that, you won’t be able to use the power in the new 3DS to it’s full potential. So, what’s the point of the better processor? Faster menu’s? Jeez, how low have we fallen? That a wait of a few seconds is too much for us?

I could try to prove that this is going to create a mess to develop for both systems. But I think it’s quite clear that when you have so much differences in terms of the CPU and such, that you don’t need any further explanation.

Do I think the new 3DS is a bad handheld? Heck no! I honestly think that the new 3DS has everything that the original 3DS should have had in the first place. I just think that it’s a mistake from Nintendo marketing this as a 3DS. I really feel that this should be the successor of the 3DS. The new generation of handhelds. Also, are they going to release an upgraded version of the 2DS in the future?

So, that’s what my thoughts are about the new 3DS. I honestly think that the device has a lot of potential, but there are some flaws that Nintendo should fix before releasing it. I think this article will become a part of a podcast, so we might talk more in depth about it in that podcast. I hope to see you guys then, because I think I’m going to close this article. Thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time!

Review #029: Time Hollow (DS) ~ DAT Themesong.

Time_HollowWikipedia entry

Alright, in order to celebrate some milestones, it’s time to review a game that’s very special to me. I begged Konami to make a sequel of this game. But why? Is this game really so good that it deserves a sequel or am I just being hopeful because I love this game? Before writing this review I replayed the whole game. Just to be sure I wasn’t going to forget anything when I would review this game. I have beaten this game 3 times. I might have beaten it more then 3 times, I honestly don’t remember. This game is extremely memorable to me because I can relate with the main character. Not only that, the soundtrack just helps me write. And the main theme, yes, the main theme. I selected that once in an article about my favorite music tracks in games. So, I don’t have to explain myself there. So, before we continue, this game is a visual novel and adventure game. Like Ace Attorney or Professor Layton. So, because of that, this game falls into my favorite game genre ever. Because this game’s strongest point is the story, I decided to not have any spoilers here! YAY! Anyways, let’s get to reviewing this game. As always, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on the game. 

I open my eyes, to another day.

time-hollow-1In this game, you play as Ethan. His birthday is the next day. After you meet his family and the basic characters are set, the story flips the tables on you and takes you on quite a ride. Yes, his parents go missing. They aren’t kidnapped. Since Ethan had a nightmare. In that nightmare, he saw his parents fleeing a burning building through a portal.

That’s all I’ll tell you about the story. Apart from my views about it, of course. So, the story is amazingly written. The build up to the final part is thrilling. The story has several chapters. As the title suggests, you will have to mess with the time and past events. I’m just blown away by how the problems you have to solve can build up to the actual villain of the game.

But here we hit on of the biggest weak points of the game. The game is short. Not as short as Lili’s: Child Of Geos, but I was able to beat this game in a week. Maybe my experience with adventure games helped me, but still, comparing it to other adventure games on the Nintendo DS, this one is too short.

At the other hand, this isn’t such a bad point. The story doesn’t get messy with too many events which makes the story really memorable. The writers truly focused on the personality of the characters. You see them grow and change with each change you make. In the end, you will start to hate certain characters and get attached to others. Mostly due to the brilliant writing. The story never feels; how to say this? Made longer on purpose so you have a longer game to play. It truly benefits the game since you get to know the location better!

Taking back what was mine.

Ethan_Vin_Chronos_dialogueAlso, CAPCOM, take notes please. In this game they nailed the voice acting perfectly. They didn’t use voice acting outside the cutscenes. While using it outside the cutscenes was rather interesting, you can create awkward breaks in it. While there aren’t many cutscenes in this game, they did place them nicely. After solving a big problem, being rewarded with a cutscene is such a sweet feeling.

Sound design wise, they did an amazing job. The sound effects make the game feel truly alive. While I would have used a bit more sound effects if I made the game, I have nothing bad to say about them. Even the voice acting is way better compared to another Konami title I really love as well, Suikoden Tierkreis.

So, the gameplay of this game. Well, it’s pretty interesting. You are presented with a problem. It’s up to you to solve it using Ethan’s special powers. It has something to do with time. Yet, you still want to find out what happened to your parents. The game requires you going to certain places and talking to people.

It doesn’t sound like much, yet it’s strangely addicting. Mostly because the story is really well made, I wanted to continue to play!

In the end

3196a

The difficulty in this game lies into if you are familiar with the style of gameplay or not. Like I said earlier, this game is rather at the short side for veteran adventure gamers. At the other hand, I do expect new players to the genre getting stuck at certain parts. To avoid that you get frustrated, there is a character that’s “training her psychic abilities”. She is basically giving you a clue what to do next or where to go next.

Visually, this game really shines. On this front, I honestly do disagree with the other reviewers. I have seen review where they give this game only a 5 or 6 on the visual aspect. And I don’t think that’s enough. Because most of this game is told through it’s presentation. This game is more like an interactive book. There isn’t a lot of animation to talk about, apart from the flashbacks and cutscenes. I honestly loved revisiting certain places just because of the visual polish this game got.

So, before we go to my conclusion, I do think I have to speak my mind about the replay value. This game has a small bit of replay value. Because there are two different endings. You can only unlock the 2nd ending once you finished the game. Also, the 2nd ending is more for… Whoops, I nearly spoiled a part of the game.

Yeah, because of the genre of this game, there isn’t any replay value besides the second ending. The only time you might replay it, is when you want to review it or just feel like replaying this game.

So, time to move on to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

– Way too short.

– Failed to bring innovation to the genre, where there was potential.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Amazing soundtrack

+ …

Final thoughts:

The biggest setback of this game is that’s it’s short. Way to short. Because of that, I see how a lot of people won’t really get into this game. Honestly, playing through the game for a couple of times, I wasn’t able to find any other negative besides just the length of the game.

I honestly get the feeling that this game is polished to perfection instead of made longer. I might just be blinded a bit because my love for this game. Who knows? I invite you to play this game and tell me what you think. If you liked games like Ace Attorney or Trace Memory on the DS, it would be a shame if you missed out on this one!

Score: 75/100

First Impression: TimeShift (PC – Steam) ~ Rewind

TimeShift_coverartWikipedia link

If I only was just a bit more to the left, I could have survived. That’s what I sometimes think while playing a first person shooter. And then Time Shift shows up in the Steam Store. I remember that I had a poster of it in my room. When I saw it, I was thinking about how the game could play. Shaping levels inside my head and drawing them. Anyways, I played the game and I’m still playing it here and there. Let me say, it’s a special experience. The people who know me, know that I barely play any shooters. But this is worthy of an exception. But is it a perfect game? Well, I’ll explain my first impressions in this article. Feel free to leave a comment on the content of the article and or the game. Thanks in advance. 

Scoring badly?

When I was researching additional facts for this game, I came across several reviews. Now, since I haven’t finished the game, I can’t review it. Yet, it surprises me that there are people giving this game mediocre points and high points. I didn’t read them but I think I know from where they are coming from.

galeria_galeria_duze_182426125I usually start my article with talking about the story. Now, this story asks a lot of the player. It’s quite possible that later in the game, the story gets explained in more detail but at the start… The story is just all over the place.

After more careful examination of the story, I came to a conclusion. It’s generic until the point I played. The issue is that somebody altered the future and it’s your job to fix it. At least, that’s what I make from it. How do I know? I had to piece those things together myself.

This actually is a reason why I don’t play the game each time I have the chance. The game doesn’t pull me in like other games can. If it starts to make sense, I will talk about it in my review.

Is that a bad thing? Well, yes and no. It’s a problem because it doesn’t draw you in as much as other shooters do. But it isn’t a problem because the player is allowed to make up the story a bit by themselves.

Slow-motion

timeshift-screen-1Did you ever wanted to play with the bullet time of the matrix? Well, now is your chance. At the surface, TimeShift looks like your everyday futuristic shooter. What sets this game apart is that you can play with time.

As long as the blue bar has energy left, you can either pause, rewind or go in slow-mo mode. And the enemies behave as they would if such technology existed. You see the enemies die in slow-motion or they don’t move an inch when you shoot them when you paused.

Your powers are actually essential to survive. And here I have another complaint. The AI of the enemies is not bad but there are parts where you can jump down to get cover in a sewer pipe without the enemies following you.

Now, that’s cheap. This way you can recharge your powers and as soon as you need to “regen” you powers, you can go hide again. Maybe that’s different on the higher difficulty settings but hey, I’m no pro shooter gamer.

Now, I advise you to mess around with the settings so that they fit your play style. Not that there is anything wrong with the standard control layout, but I’m a gamer who uses the arrows instead of the letters to move. I’m weird like that.

The game looks extremely well made. While I was afraid that my laptop wouldn’t be able to handle the game, I was proven wrong after I updated my graphical drivers. The game looks amazing to run around in and to play. I love the design of the places. Each and every new area they throw at me feels polished and ready for a big fight.

More stuff

galeria_galeria_duze_182421828Now, the enemies can call for help. While I haven’t seen reinforcements arrive ever, I might haven’t played the game for long enough. That brings me to the sound design. That is a strong point in this game. When I’m playing with my headset, this game sounds amazing. I feel like I’m right in a real war zone.

With the great graphics and the good sound design, this game is really intense to play. I actually shouted a few curse words because I was drawn into the gameplay so much.

And I think that’s the strong point of this game. The gameplay. It’s really well made. While the story isn’t all that good, the gameplay is where it’s at.

Now, the music isn’t helping. It isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. I don’t remember many tracks of TimeShift. I’m crossing my fingers that this game gives me better music that I might keep listing to after beating the game.

This game has a “Field Of View” slider. And I’m so glad that they have that. Because I decreased my FOV, my laptop runs this game with a rather nice frame rate.

A big advantage of this game is that you can buy it for a rather low price on Steam. It’s only 15€. That’s quite a low price for a gem like this.

Now, this first impression might be tad bit shorter then the others, but I haven’t played it too much yet. I wish I had more time. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If I ever finish this game, I’ll surely follow this article up with a review.

Review #026: Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright (3DS) ~ This Puzzle Has An Objection!

250px-PLvsAA_BoxartWarning: this review is longer then my usual reviews! WAY LONGER. For reasons. 

Ace Attorney Wiki entry link

First Impression link

So, this game. After a month, I finished it. And honestly, I feel sad. I’m going to directly say that I think that this game is amazing. I’ll defend this game in this article. My newly ordered mind hasn’t arrived yet sadly enough. But I might write a longer review then usual? Why, since I find that this game totally deserved it. So, yeah! This game gets the longer review for a reason. I feel ashamed that you guys in America can’t play this game yet. So, I’m avoiding spoilers as much as I can! But before we start, the usual. Feel free to leave a comment on the game and or this article. 

Writer versus the story

largeIn my first impression I talked about how I can predict the ending of stories from games or movies. I was able to predict the ending of other Layton games and Phoenix Wright games in the past. Yet, this game has taken me by surprise.

I have to say, that the ending took me off guard. All the plot twists and how the story wrapped up, just was an amazing ride. If a story can do that to an experienced writer, then you can be sure you have a solid story.

At first, I would say that there are a few plot holes in the story. Yet, the unexplained plot holes in the main game will be explained in the bonus content you unlock after finishing the game.

The writing of the story is the best I have seen for a cross over from this format. It’s quite clear that each company has written his or her part. The parts where you play as Layton, feel like a real Layton game. And the writing in the parts of Phoenix, truly feel like you are playing an Ace Attorney game.

I didn’t expect that when both styles get crossed would work so well. The two styles blend in each other without notice.

One question people asked me is what meaning the “versus” has in the title. A minor spoiler, it has different meanings in the game. There is a part where you actually have a battle between Layton and Wright but you have moments where Layton and Phoenix work together to solve the case.

Do I have complaints about the story? Yes, thanks for asking. I have no complaints about the writing. It’s just spot on. Yet, it’s the voice acting. Now, don’t get me wrong! The voice acting is top notch. People who hate dubs of anime’s, you won’t be disappointed with the voices and the casting of this game. But there is a major issue with the voice acting.

The moments where the voice acting is used is a bit strange. There are moments where one person is voice acting and the others are just plain text. Or there are moments in the game where the voice acting just suddenly stops. You will have to play the game to understand what I mean but it’s truly annoying.

This menu has an objection?

largeA fair warning, it’s quite possible that the rest of the review might be nitpicking if I talk about the mistakes of this game.

Let’s take a look to the user interface. And here I have my first complaint, you can’t delete save files. While this is a minor annoyance, I don’t get why they didn’t program a feature in where you can delete a save file when saved by accident on the second slot.

The main menu, well, it’s good and bad at the same time. While I miss the options button, that you can find in game, it’s not cluttered. Only the bare essential buttons are in the main menu. This is actually good because you don’t need to waste a lot of time to the main menu.

So, let’s take a look at the in-game menu’s. Thank the lords they took a combination of both games for this! The lay-out of the menu’s in Layton is excellent but you have to operate it all with the touch screen. In the Ace Attorney games, you can open things with pressing the buttons. While you can’t do much, besides closing the menu, inside the menu with the buttons, it’s a neat feature!

Also, you have a notepad for the whole game. Yes, you have a memo feature for the whole game. That’s simply mind blowing. I admit that I haven’t used it but I think that the idea is simply great. Since some people aren’t that good at remembering and having a space where you can write notes is pretty good.

But with every good thing comes a bad thing. While it’s great that you have an items menu where you can look at the items you have, it’s so bare bones that it’s actually kinda bad. When you have a letter, you can’t read it’s content or when you have a book, you can only stare at the cover.

And if I may be extremely nitpicky, the mysteries. Okay, I understand that this feature comes from the Layton games but why is this ‘Layton exclusive’? Let me explain. The button for this option shows Phoenix and Layton with a speech bubble with a question mark in it. But in the whole menu, only Layton talks about the mysteries. Phoenix isn’t allowed to talk about the mysteries? That was a bummer. It’s clear now that I’m a bigger fan of Ace Attorney, I guess.

Also, the story button is a perfect addition to the game. With this you can somewhat relive parts of the story. What I mean here is that you have the “View Story” button when you press on an entry in the story menu. This games you a brief overview of what happened then. And it’s different then the entry itself.

So, I mentioned a bit about the controls of this game. How you control the menu’s. Now, the controls outside of the menu’s is just way better then the Layton games. One complaint I always have with those games is that the touch screen is used too much. But in this game you can use the buttons more. The controls, no real complaints there.

Now, let’s game.

large (1)Oh my, so much to still talk about and so far in the review we are already. But thankfully I don’t have a big limit for this review so I can still write a bit.

Let’s talk about the gameplay. The meat of the game. The bones is more the story. Anyways, the gameplay is just well balanced and fun. It’s quite clear that this game is aimed mainly at fans of both series.

The game switches between both gameplay types quite nicely. And they managed to blend the investigation moments with puzzles without them being annoying. I applaud the developers for that!

It’s quite fun exploring around in the town. Sadly, your are restricted to one area because the story forces you too but there are many opportunities where you visit every place in the game.

At first I thought that the area of the game would be too small. But as soon as you continue to play, you are proven quite wrong quite quick.

Something that helped me a lot is how the map shows how many hint coins or hidden puzzles are in the area. That way I was sure that I didn’t skip any hint coin or puzzle. But this concept needs some minor tweaks. One tweak they could do is show how many coins or puzzles are at the place you are currently at. Since that’s not possible. And another tweak they could have done was showing the amount of hint coin or hidden puzzles somewhere on the top screen maybe? So you know if you found everything in that area or not.

The difficulty, well, that’s something that this game has some trouble with. The game isn’t very easy but it isn’t very hard either. If you pay attention during the game or when you have played other games in the series, this game isn’t a big challenge. I had a lot of hint coins to spare at the end of the game.

In my first impression I have said that it’s strange that you can’t earn hint coins during trails. While I understand that it would be awkward trying to hide them in trails, I still found it strange. You can use hint coins in trails and thank the lords that they don’t “solve” the puzzle for you. They show which statement needs pressing or presenting, and if you need to present evidence, you can pick out of three options. Also, when you need to answer a question, one hint coin actually hides a wrong answer. And you can’t use more then one hint coin at one time.

The last part of the gameplay is the actual length. In the case of this game, we have to talk about how much each character is on screen AND how long the game takes before you have beaten it.

The balance between Layton and Phoenix, no complaints. Honestly, I enjoyed the parts more where they were both together. It just felt right.

And the actual length of the game, well… according to my save file you can beat this game around 30+ hours. Which is great length for the game. They provided enough plot twists so that there is never a dull moment and I think that’s one of the strong points of this game.

Reviewing the other parts.

Layton-vs-Wright-5So, the last part before the conclusion of this review. We have the music, design, sound, post game content, replay value and animation left.

Let’s begin with the easy one. This game has some replay value. It might be fun to replay to challenge yourself to get more points or to see what dialogue you get when you pick different answers. But since this is a visual novel, adventure game; the replay value is almost zero.

The post game content, well… ehrm… How to say it? It’s perfect. When you load a finished save file, you can either play the final chapter(s) of the game again or you can start at a part where you can look for puzzles you have missed.

Maybe I looked over it but the points you gain after completing a puzzle or finishing a trail aren’t used anywhere. Maybe something for the additional content?

Anyways, the additional content is great! You can download galleries where they show concept art and you can download bonus episodes. In those episodes some plot holes are explained or some background information about Layton or Phoenix is revealed and you get some additional gameplay. The writing is just beyond excellent.

The music and sound is next. The sounds, I have no complaints. No dull or overused sound effects. I’m glad that they used the sound effect library of both games. The fans feel right at home! But the soundtrack, if they ever release it on CD, I’m so going to buy it. I love listing to it and it has the right mood all the time.

And now let’s talk about the last part of this game; the design, graphics and animation.  Do I have complaints? Yes. Are they big? No.

As far as I know, I have one complaint. And that is in the animation area. The movement of the mouths is the weakest link. I found that the animation there isn’t as solid as the animation in the other parts of this game. But the rest of the animation, the graphics and the design… is extremely solid.

The anime cutscenes, the world this game takes place in, the animation of (nearly) everything… It puts this game so well together. You truly feel as a spectator of this game. In other words, the immersion of this game thanks to the visuals is perfect. It’s hard to put the game down.

So, I think I’m going to my conclusion. I talked about almost everything there is to talk about in this game. But don’t worry, I have still left some things as a surprise. Let’s wrap up this ‘journalistic review”

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story line.

+ Eye candy graphics.

+ A solid cross-over.

+ Great length.

+ Beautiful soundtrack.

+ …

The bad:

– Some minor nitpicks with the menu.

– Some small nitpicks with the save files.

– The difficulty could have been better.

– The moments they used voice acting could have been improved.

Final thoughts:

So, I have written this extremely long review for a couple of reasons. As I said before, I wanted to give this game what it deserves! A great long review. Don’t worry, the length of this review won’t be my new standard. This review is twice as long as a normal review.

Another reason why I wrote such a long review is to challenge myself because I wanted to try writing a review as long as in a magazine or on a game website. I think I succeeded.

Anyways, my final thoughts about this game are simple. This game needs a sequel. Yes, this game is so well done, I’m hoping that they create a sequel. Nearly everything is solid and I the complaints I have are mostly nitpicks. It’s clear that this game is polished to near perfection.

If you are a fan of the genre, the series or the 3DS you owe it to yourself to play this game. I love how it’s clear that the cross over of this game is taken serious and that the final product we got was worth the wait. That’s why I give this game the points it deserves!

Score: 100 / 100

Gaming Nostalgia #2: A story that started my career as leader

downloadWell, it seems that I’m sick again. Thank the lords that I’m able to do various things. I have mostly a pretty stuffy nose and sometimes a heavy headache. But I’m healthy enough to go to college and write articles. Thanks to my medication. At these times I try to write a ton of articles or I look back to the past. In this case, I combine both. This second article in my gaming nostalgia series will be quite different than the original. Since I’m telling a quite personal story. Let’s just start the story I hinted at various times. All while I’m listing to amazing music. So, without further ado, here is the second gaming nostalgia article. 

My life as a child

Nintendo GameboyBefore that trip my life was extremely simple. I wrote small stories I rarely shared with friends. It was a kind of secret hobby. I was obsessed with creating my own games. Back then, the stories I wrote were more in the style of a series, movie or game. When I look back at the drawings and notes I made, I’m blown off my socks how simple and great the ideas are. I even made my own Pokémon game named Pokémon Black, White and Grey years before the actual games came out.

My biggest addiction was, and somewhat still is, the gameboy. I played the crap out of every game I owned. I’m now 21 years old and I still own nearly every game I owned back then. So, I was that child who made amazing things but had just a few friends. Somebody with a much potential but it wasn’t used. Why that is, let’s say that those things are rather private. M’kay?

I didn’t know that I was actually a natural born leader. Somehow, I’m able to lead a group of people who share the same passion or some similar interests. I wasn’t aware of it myself until that trip. My life changed then. I went from that child who barely made any friends to the most popular kid in the hotel. Sadly enough, I don’t think anybody remembers the time from back then. But if you recognize yourself in this story, feel free to contact me.

The trip

tumblr_mdlu4cepy01qh0t50o1_500You probably had it happen to you several times in the past. Your family takes you on a trip to a place a long distance away and you decide to travel by car. As a kid you were allowed to buy a new game you were allowed to start when the trip started. I still remember a few games I played at the backseat of my dad’s car back then.

When I arrived at the hotel after a 15 hour car ride, I finally settled in. I played a lot on my Gameboy Advance SP. Since I remember that I didn’t own a DS. Somebody there owned a DS and he was so kind to lend it to me. I was hooked and I tried various things and times to get one myself.

After the first day, I started playing with some friends I made in the bar on our gameboy’s. By our surprise, some kids came to us and asked if they could play along. We agreed and we played as long as we were allowed on our gameboy’s. At the end I asked to meet again the next day. They agreed and they said that it might be possible that they bring other friends. I agreed and I had no single clue what I actually agreed too.

The Gameboy Club

The first night, I was in a group of, let us say… a 5 kids. Myself included. The next day, we were suddenly with 10. Alright, that’s epic. But the following days, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. The number kept growing and growing. By the 4th day we had over 40 children playing together on their gameboy.

Everybody brought their own gameboy, games, batteries and cables. Believe it or not, we even got an extension cord from the hotel management since there weren’t enough outlets.

Our group had a place at the bar. The people at the clubs that were looking over me and my original friend group allow us to leave a few minutes before the activity was over. That way we were able to prepare our spot at the bar. It was a big circle with tables in the middle so everybody had a place to put their stuff.

On the 6th day we had almost every kid who had a gameboy or something to play with in the “Game Club”. I remember some parents coming to talk to me for information. For some reason, I was seen as a leader. And when one day a game was missing, I was actually questioned by the hotel staff in order to find it back. Thankfully we found it back thanks to my list.

Wait, what list are we talking about here? Well, the day before I started to make a general list of the games everybody brought. It was a big chunk of work but I didn’t care. I felt it was pretty useful and that way kids could see who had which game. So, if they wanted to play an old Pokemon game, they just had to look to the list.

From the 6th day on, kids came to me and asked when we started with the “Game Club”. It was an extremely sweet experience. I still remember walking around in the group checking if there weren’t any arguments that needed to be solved. I also explained to new kids how our system worked. Parents were extremely happy to see how such a big group of kids actually came together without them having to do one thing.

The final days

Although, I had some things that parents didn’t like. I still remember some parents being displeased that their child was looking forward to play games with us. They said those typical things like “addicted to games” and “it’s not good for you, playing so much.”. I still have the same motto from back then. I even made it into my current tag line. “Addicted? Nah, passionate.” What I mean with that, is as long as you know when to stop and where the limits are, is that’s a big passion.

Near the last days of my trip, I had to ask somebody else in order to manage the group. I still have papers were I wrote questions about games. Back then, I already knew more then I normally should about games. I knew small things about programming and gameplay. I even dare say that I was a young reviewer already back then. But keep in mind, I was around the age of 10 back then.

The questions I asked were about things like: “How many Pokémon games do exist?” and “Name me three platformers”. I was less crazy back then it seems.

Sadly enough, it’s all I remember clearly. Here and there I have some vague memories. Like I know that one time a parent actually purchased me and my crew a drink for all our hard work. I also remember that I didn’t had much time to actually play and enjoy the games at the last days since I had too much managing to do. Somehow it didn’t bother me. It felt natural.

But I know for sure that since that day, I wanted to entertain people. I started to talk about my stories with friends and a few years later I even started blogging and making my own games. While I don’t have any files of those games I created myself anymore, those experiences helped me learn quite a lot about the gaming culture.

I think it’s time to wrap up. I don’t want to write an additional part where I talk about how this changed my life. I think it’s quite clear. My passion grew and grew. Maybe in another article I might talk about other influential events in my life that made me start blogging and such.

So, that was the story about my first leadership. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article and remembering those fun memories. Thanks for reading and until the next time.

My wishes for future updates of Minecraft

minecraft-logo

Website of Minecraft

It’s no lie that I like MineCraft. But as a player since Minecraft 1.4 Beta, I think there are a lot of things lacking. In this blog I tried giving my better idea’s a chance. Dinnerbone or Jeb, if you read this, feel free to take my idea’s and use them in whatever way you want. I just placed them here to share my idea’s since I felt like it. Anyways, feel free to write in the comments what you guys think about my idea’s. Are they good  or are they bad? And what idea’s do you guys have to implement in the vanilla Minecraft game? 

Idea #1: Better durability bars.

o0IuWIn one of the recent updates of Minecraft you can see the durability of an item by pressing F3 + G. Yet, you only can see this in the inventory. What would be extremely welcome is that if you also press that shortcut, the durability is displayed above the bar.

In my original survival let’s play, I had a mod enabled for this. It’s sadly discontinued now.  But it was a welcome mod to see how much uses there was on my pickaxe or sword left. It was buggy when it had the unbreaking enchant. But in the Durability 101 mod for Minecraft 1.5.1 everything works just fine.

Idea #2: More stuff in the ocean or less ocean.

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When I was gathering idea’s for this article, a convention happened where Jeb told us that they are going to revamp the ocean biomes. Finally, since  there are simply way to much oceans in one single Minecraft world.

But also, only squids in the ocean? What’s wrong with some ocean life? Some coral plants would be lovely to have. But like DocM77 on the MindCrack panel said and I agree an awful lot, is that there should be some sharks or more ocean life.

This might not really be my original idea but it’s a much requested feature in Minecraft. But thankfully in Minecraft 1.7 it’s going to happen. Or that are at least the plans.

Idea #3: Make the Creative mode more complete.

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There is a petition on the Minecraft forums and mods like Too Much Items include this. Mobspawners in the creative inventory. They are missing and that is a sad thing.

The new Minecraft creative inventory was a very welcome change but enchants like Sharpness I aren’t in the creative inventory. Why?

Also, the big mushroom blocks aren’t present in the creative inventory. Which I think it would truly benefit from.

And why isn’t the command block in the creative inventory? It would truly benefit from being there.

Also, a feature where you can create fireworks thanks to looking to a list and enchanting the same way would be welcome addition to the creative mode of the game.

Idea #4: (Let) silk touch (keep the color).

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Why does grass or leaves change to the default color when you pick them up with silk touch? I can understand that a block need to change from color when placed  in a certain biome but what if I wanted some darker oak leaves in my build? It would give more freedom.

Like Infinity, I would remove the “I” after Silk Touch. It’s simply extremely silly to have that number there. But as amateur Java programmer, I can understand why it’s easier and more efficient to put the number there. But I think it isn’t useful at all to have it since it confused some (not that bright) players before.

Idea #5: Potion arrows

brewing-05-add-glistering-melonImage being in a PvP battle and you create a potion of poison. But you missed throwing it. That sucks so much. But also, when you want to give a potion to one person in PvP, you need to have some distance and that’s not helpful in tight combat.

But what if there was a special bow that could shoot arrows together with a random potion from your inventory?

In PvP this would make things more random and challenging. Since you might shoot off a health boost for the other player instead of a damage potion.

I talked this over with a few of my friends and they thought it would make for some new gamemodes or open a whole array of new possibilities.

There are several mods already with ice, fire or electric arrows. While this is also a good idea, I still doubt about the crafting recipes.

Finally, the end of the article.

That are all my idea’s that I currently have. To be honest, I have more idea’s but I thought they weren’t good enough to make the cut. It’s possible that I might write another article on this here, so I hope to see you next time here.

 

Rant #004: Lay-outs ~ Let’s get forcing.

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Let’s rant about something different this time. Something that mostly all gamers have something to do with. Social networks and things like that. But mostly, the lay-outs of them. YouTube is a big one in this area. They change their lay-out so much, it starts to annoy their users. Another nice example is the Facebook Timeline. Are these constant changes good? Or do they do wrong things? I wanted to make a video about this but I rather wanted to write an article about this. I admit that some changes got me mad but I actually started to not really care. I just try to adapt to the change. 

The biggest issue.

The biggest issue with the changes are mostly that you don’t get any information at all when the change is going to happen. Suddenly a new lay-out is there in your face, and you simply got to deal with it. After some hours, a dozen of video’s go online that claim that you are able to revert back to the old lay-out.

Also, you can’t really test the new lay-out. Apparently as YouTube partner, you can. But according to me, that is far from enough. Cosmic Panda was a lay-out you could test at will. That was a good idea.

Don’t worry YouTube, you won’t be the only one receiving some ranting here. Facebook, you have issues with this too. The timeline, it’s a great idea and makes the site pretty unique. Think about it. Basically you write your life story on Facebook by sharing pictures, video, feelings… And you can watch your history in a timeline form.

Each new lay-out has a bunch of nice new features but it also gets rid of a lot of features too. It’s like in a store. They change everything from location so that you explore the place a bit more so that you pass by products in the hope you buy them. This logic can’t be applied to sites like Facebook or YouTube. Because you get frustrated since you can’t change what you want.

Trolls and haters.

It doesn’t take long before almost the whole site starts to hate the new lay-out. They always say that it sucks or that it doesn’t look nice. But after some time, you get used to the new lay-out. But by the time everybody got used to it, there is a new lay-out ready to be launched.

I have a big question for Youtube. You guys have the lay-out for quite a while now. How is it possible that so many big channels still have the old lay-out? And even your partners? The change to your new lay-out has a good idea behind it. To change the lay-out that it’s the same for each platform. That the channel looks the same on the computer and on the mobile devices. But make it them so that you have to change after some months.

It wouldn’t surprise me that a lot of comedians take easy money when the new lay-out comes around. That they make parodies and put the creators of the site to shame. But I don’t think that a lot of the changes are bad. I have a penpal in Finland and by the second he got the new lay-out he went all rant on me. People aren’t used to changing sites. And he doesn’t like the merging of the “stop” and “refresh” button in browsers.

Testing.

Facebook had a beta program to test their new lay-out. My mother and a classmate have gotten the new lay-out. And as far as I know, for months. Until this day, the new lay-out  hasn’t been published.

YouTube has it’s YouTube Labs. But here is the thing, it’s extremely hidden and you barely see it. Plus, I am sure that the feedback they get from it is too little.

I remember that Google Docs and other products had an option for a while to change back to the old lay-out. This was great since I used the old lay-out on one screen and the new one on my second screen. So I could see where everything was located in the new lay-out.

The biggest issue is that these things are buried. You want to test something? Well, after some digging you can. And then you can give feedback more easily.

WordPress has a great system for this. The publish unfinished releases so that people can test them out. They also tell you where you can help and give feedback. In addition to that, they have a change log. And the help feature really helps if you feel lost. The WordPress forums is extremely helpful and they reply fast.

Compare this to the slow Facebook and YouTube helpdesk. They might be big companies but if teams like the WordPress guys can pull it off so fast, I truly can’t understand why the others fail in this. WordPress goes even as far that admins can edit posts on anyone’s WordPress.com hosted blog to fix issues. You don’t see other websites do that.

Conclusion

I would like to shout at developers to release beta versions to the public to test out before you fully launch the new lay-out. Even when the new lay-out is filled with great idea’s, people get alienated and lost in the new lay-out quite easily. The internet can be that dumb.

Also, I want to thank the people who do the effort to make video’s to point out the issues of the new lay-outs. Video’s or articles, it’s the same deal. This way people can voice their opinion and maybe get some things “fixed” or improved.

Also, leave an option to stick with the old lay-out. And when you think the new lay-out is ready to be launched for everyone. Please, make an announcement. So that everybody can get ready for the change. And don’t roll it out like it’s your site’s last thing to save it from death.

But what are your thoughts on this matter? Leave it in the comments down below. Thanks for reading and happy blogging!