First Impression: Alan Wake (PC) ~ Questioning Reality.

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Official website

While doing research for this game I found something extremely odd. The official release of this game is 18+ yet the limited edition is 16+. Oh well, that’s the least of my concern. I don’t remember writing this first impression, yet it suddenly appeared on my blog. Alright, strange. Now something similar happened to me like to Alan. But thankfully I published some content on a blog that wouldn’t harm me as much as it did to Alan. He ran through the dark woods. Seeing a shack with a computer. On there, he bought a game for a friend of his on Steam. In return, he was allowed to choose out of a few games out of the inventory of that friend. He choose the Alan Wake Franchise since that was the game that interests him. (Personal note: that’s how I got this gem :3 ). Yet the nightmare started there. Scary things beyond his imagination started happening. He wasn’t able to finish a book in a long time. That poor writer. He felt he deserved a break and he set out to have a vacation. When his wife betrays that vacation and actually had a plan to get him back to writing, a kidnap happened. And it actually gets worse from there on out. (Feel free to leave a comment about your views of this game and/or your opinion of this “review”)

Legit scared

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Out of the introduction you get the idea to where I wanted to go with this first impression. I actually wrote this first impression again since I actually found that it was too forced. This game is all about Alan’s latest horror book coming to live. Yet, he doesn’t remember writing it. He often sees visions of him writing it and talking insane. This all happens while he is looking for his wife.

If that doesn’t sound creepy already, well then just start playing the game. Only one or two games made me actually nearly “piss my pants.” One great example is Corpse Party. But this game just did it before I wrote this article again.

I normally talk about the story first in my reviews and first impressions. And I have to applaud the presentation of the story here. During the play, you find pages of the manuscript of the story Alan was working on. This hides information like character backstory or things that happen or even happened. This sounds already like a nice set-up for a creepypasta. But the thought of you writing the future yet not being able to control it is scary.

The story is amazing. It might get a bit confusing since it uses a certain way of making it thrilling that not many people like. It doesn’t explain a lot. But seeing that this game is heavily story based, does that destroy the replay value? Lucky us, no. You can replay the game on the highest difficulty to gain access to some parts of the manuscript which rewards players that go for the hardest of the hardest.

Creative burst

507604-alan-wake-xbox-360-screenshot-after-taking-the-last-enemyWhile playing this game, I got a vibe from a game. The gameplay felt a little bit like the latest Tomb Raider. Yet, this game is extremely far from it. But both games give off a similar survival and creepiness factor.

So, the story is extremely well done with rich and deep characters, what else does make this game worth it? I must have my reasons to back this claim up. I don’t post just for the fun on my Facebook wall that this is one of my favorite games on PC.

The graphical presentation of this game is just pitch perfect. Details everywhere. Crows that fly around, shaking screens, barely visible traps… The game is creepy when it’s supposed to be and the transition is seamless.

I heard a lot of complaints about the animation on several forums. Yet, I actually disagree. I think the mood of this game and it’s animation is well done. There were only two things that bothered me. One thing is the, according to the developer unfixable, bug at the start on the boat where the scene starts shaking if you have auto aiming on. (Which is an extremely big help by the way). And the second thing is how the animals in this game doesn’t look as smoothly created as the humans.

Finish me

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I have actually one complaint with this game. I don’t really get into it’s soundtrack. The sound design is extremely well done. And it aids a lot when you play this game with a headset that supports good stereo sound. The further you go, the more faint voices become. But the music in some places is so cheesy I just wanted to finish and leave the area.

Okay, I might have yet one other complaint. And that’s how this game uses one or two jump scares. It made me jump. And in my opinion that’s cheap. Good horror shouldn’t relay on jump scares. I don’t see a monster waiting in the bushes thinking to him or herself: “Let’s wait for a second and jump in front of him and roar a bit and then attack.” Nah, it’s too cheap. And that is actually addressed in this game. The camera often zooms out when enemies are behind your back and you are at low health.

Adventure fans like myself will have to get used to some things like automatic opening doors and the jump being actually human. Yes, don’t expect being able to jump to ledges higher then you can in real life. This adds to the game an awful lot. This makes me think big time.

So, I haven’t finished talking about this game but I’m running out of time in this first impression. I try to keep these article around 1000 words to have a quick read if you are interested in the game. So, this means that for my opinion on the gameplay, length, difficulty, controls and voice work you’ll have to wait for my full review. So, thanks for reading and I hope to catch you with my next article. I’m going back to Alan, helping him finish his journey. I have spare pants ready neko’s. Don’t you worry!

First Impressions: Pokémon Ranger (DS) ~ All These Circles Make Me Dizzy.

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Wikipedia entry. (Since the official site is updated to the latest entry in the series.)

Sometimes games have a lot of potential. And this game surely has potential. This Pokémon spin-off is based on one of the opponent types in the main series. Yet, some games then fail horribly to deliver. I was planning to make write this article in a story-ish thing-y but I wanted to be direct for this game. It made me think about something. If you ever ask yourself why I don’t review that many bad games on my blog is because the games I play are the games that catch my eye and I think are interesting to play. I also look beyond the graphics and other things while I’m playing. And I trust my instinct in order to avoid bad games. Yet, it happens that a bad game slips in here and there, but when I’m having fun and when I’m enjoying myself, that makes the game a lot better. Remember that I judge my games extremely personally. That might be a flaw of my reviewing skills, since I should actually review my games more so that I look if it would be for everybody. Anyways, I thought this was important to say since there are a lot of fans for this game. So, to avoid flaming in the comments I better explain myself. But feel free to leave me a comment to tell me how I did or what you think of this game. Anyways, here we go!

The first isn’t always the best.

ds_pokemonranger_ss01 copy

This game made me doubt my instinct of choosing great games. I’m going to be extremely honest here, this game is flawed. Yet, it’s a game I’ll finish since I want to beat the first one in the series before I continue to play the other games in the series. I did play the sequel and the 3rd game in the series and I really enjoyed my time there. I never beaten them though. Okay, Guardian Signs I had beaten but not 100%, since I had a part of the epilogue left to beat.

I’m going to dive into the parts I didn’t like of this game first. Honestly, I don’t like the overworld animation. Some Pokémon seem a bit jittery when they move and the running animation of your character is way to fast for your friend Pokémon to keep up. And this causes a lot of issues. Pokémon will no clip through walls and various other locations to reach you. When they can’t cross a certain river or other place, they will spawn next to you after a short while of being off screen.

The graphics in this game look really neat though. It’s another take on how things can look in the main series. I’m so glad they took it in an other direction yet, similar. But the level design don’t look very pleasant. Not that it looks ugly or anything but I really don’t feel the polish of the other Pokémon games that go into cities.

Bad?

ds_pokemonranger_ss03 copyBut there are other things really makes me want to rip this game apart. First of all, the map screen is a total joke. It’s actually useless. Your map is more like a radar with an arrow representing you and squares if there is a door you can enter. Also, it displays Pokémon nearby. I actually found a glitch in the map. Before the sewer part in Fall City, you need to try to get on top the entrance of the sewers, that road, and look at the map then. It’ll appear that a lot of Pokémon are there.

Secondly, I really dislike in this game is the music. It’s bland and forgettable. I actually had to play the OST to remember the music. I really hope that the music in the rest of the game makes up for the music in the first section of the game.

Thirdly, while the capturing of Pokémon is an awesome idea and it works in the game as well, it’s the only really enjoyable part of the gameplay. The locations to explore are bland and generic. Also the capturing can be really frustrating since sometimes the Pokémon will run on the side of the screen which makes drawing your circles around them a real pain to execute. Not to mention the possible damage to your touch screen if you get a bit to … circle-happy? Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the possible interruption you can have in mid-capture when your styler levels up. Yeah, it can happen.

But the biggest let down has to be the extremely weak story. Even the first Pokémon game had a better story. It suffers from cheesy-ness, generic characters and basic plots. The plot can be summed up easily by: “Superstyler is stolen by bad guys to cause evil.” No character gets depth and stay dolls on strings to play a certain role. Such a lost opportunity. This makes predicting the story extremely easy and ruins the thrill of the story.

Why do I still play this?

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By now you might think that I have given up fate for this game. But surprisingly, there is a charm in this game that keeps pulling me in over and over again. Even with the obvious flaws of this game, it remains fun. Exploring the, linear, places to progress is fun.

Finding the right Pokémon to assist you in destroying a big rock is sweet. Also, you really need to think about which Pokémon you have to take along since you can’t have them all at the same time.

The controls of this game is a major plus. You can use the D-Pad and/or the stylus to move. And it actually works extremely well. Yet, I managed to find a bug in the controls. When you have a ladder that goes down, try walking at the side. When you are in middle at the side, the screen will shake while your character continues to walk in front of him.

But in conclusion, this game is good but not great. This game plays it extremely safe to introduce us to a new spin-off that is a lot of fun. But it needs a lot of polish to make the game more fun. This game might have some serious flaws but it doesn’t destroy the game and it’s still playable. But I’m going to leave it here. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review. Until the next one. 🙂

Review #014: Escape From Monkey Island (PS2) ~ Great, in both ways.

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Wikipedia entry

Alright, alright. I know my rule is that I need to finish the game before I review it. But really, screw it! I make an exception here. I’m stuck on this godforsaken island and I need to review this game to get off. And this last bit is really pissing me off. Writing this review was a whole lot of fun. It’s a long story to tell how I got here. Yeah, it wasn’t totally a second hand game I bought because the name Monkey Island was on it and I heard a lot about it and I totally wanted to play it once. Nah, that isn’t the case at all. I got this game shoved in my hands… I suppose. Anyways, I heard of various sources that this is one of the worst entries in the series. But are they correct with that? Is this game as horrible as people say? Or is this game just a great game but not for the Monkey Island series? Well, I have played it and I can tell. It might be my first Monkey Island game but I wouldn’t mind playing more before I get off this island. Yeah, this game is actually rather good. But, it has some serious flaws I’ll address in this review. Also, I tried to keep spoilers to an absolute low. So, don’t worry about that. I avoid to spoil the ending too. Since that wouldn’t be fun right? Anyways, enough joking around. I’m not on an island. I’m sitting at my chair ready to review this game that really irritated me and really brought me hours of joy. That’s why I choose the title that it’s “good” in both ways. It’s actually pretty good but it has some flaws. Hold on, this isn’t the conclusion yet. I haven’t told anything yet about the game. Man, this adventure really did something to me. Anyways, let’s take a look at this gem of the past. Here we banana… ehrm… Ignore that please. I meant, here we go.

Let’s escape!

mi4_019To avoid spoilers like I told you in the introduction, I’ll talk about the story. It’s great. I really enjoy games that sometimes don’t take themselves serious. And this game even breaks the 4th wall here and there. There are many funny moments and various genius moments that make this games it’s writing stand out.

The story’s characters are fleshed out and you really get to know them. Although some names feel not so creative, it gets the job done. But the voice acting in this game really makes this game. The whole game is voiced and I don’t often play games like that. I truly like the work the actors have done for the characters and it adds a whole bunch of greatness to the package.

And that package is also filled with something extremely pretty. This game looks amazing for a PS2 title. Even though this game is several years old. The graphics aged pretty well and the bright and colorful playground you get to explore really makes this game a ton of fun. But that doesn’t go for one thing. The sprite of your character is too small on the overworld map. Since you are playing a PS2 game you sit a bit away from the TV. So, you really need to pay attention that you don’t loose him.

 Did I really pull out my hair?

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This game is an adventure game. It really makes you think outside the box. And the replay value is there as well. Since various things are randomized. Like names of bad guys or moves. No two puzzles are the same and no one is too hard. Since you get vague clues everywhere. Not that they hold your hand or anything since this game has no tutorial. You need to find out the controls for yourself. The inventory is a bit tricky to get used to.

But there is one part of the adventure that really breaks this game. Thanks to that I also disagree with the quote on the cover. “We need more games like this.” Well, not if there is more stuff like the monkey combat. Sigh, did that bring this game down to an all time low. Without pen, paper, trial & error, a lot of patience and a lot of time you won’t be able to beat this. Compare it to you playing a game where you don’t get the rules explained.

While writing this review, I haven’t beaten this part of the adventure yet. It really pains me to tell it since this game really is great and worth finishing. But thanks to this monkey combat… And the worst part is that when you haven’t wrote it down, you are screwed since there is nowhere in the game to bring up a list of which moves you have and which ones you have not.

Okay, let’s calm down.

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Thankfully this game has many other things to offer. The length of this game is extremely good. It’s pretty lengthy and stops on the right moment. It’s a really good fill for at least several weeks without using a walkthrough.

The music is one of the highlights of this game. Exotic and melodic, but pay careful attention! It might get stuck in your head. The sound work is also really great. The feel of the game is set and the mood just works.

Something this game really misses, is a map of the area sometimes. Not only a map of the island you are on. A map of the city. It would make finding buildings a lot easier.

The final thing we can talk about is how the game has various places to save your game. The saving is done right. And the fact that you can have four playthroughs at the same time really makes this game worth playing. Anyways, let’s get on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Great story.

+ Great adventure gameplay.

+ Amazing voice acting.

+ Great sound & music.

+ Amazing length.

+ Random parts in the story to have some replay value.

The bad:

– The Monkey Kombat.

– The controls aren’t easy to get used to.

– A log would have been really handy.

Final thoughts:

How much is this game worth? This is hard to say. Since the monkey kombat really breaks the game. It’s such a great idea yet, it doesn’t work. It makes me want to destroy the disc rather then finish it. Well, I might have gone quickly over this game in this review but that’s just because the monkey kombat annoyed me so much. And if they would cut out that part of the game, it would have been awesome. So that’s why I can give this game only in between score. But thanks for reading and hopefully until the next time. 

Score: 70 / 100.

Review #012: Aladdin (GB) ~ Terribleness on the go.

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GameFaq’s Link

I have a cousin who I went to each Saturday. One day he lend me DuckTales on the gameboy, which was a great blast. But I do remember one game that he lend too with it. A game so bad, I’m not even going to finish it before I write a review of it. This game on the SNES isn’t that bad, but the gameboy version is terrible. I got this game from a friend, when she didn’t want to keep her gameboy games anymore. I was so happy that I got new free games. But when I saw this cartrigde, I wish I could cry right there on the playground. Man, bad memories of this game. I’m even putting on a sad face while writing this review. Sadly enough, this game is playing next to me on my SuperGameboy and my SNES. It’s already clear that I’ll rip this game a new one, but how bad is it actually? Let’s dive right into Aladdin, without a magic carpet to save our ass. 

Flawed or bad?

disneys_aladdinSome games might have a few flaws. Or just have some things not polish. But this game is a joke. Let’s start analysing this insult of Virgin Interactive by looking at the options.

The difficulty levels are not what you expect from a normal game. Easy is practice and hard is difficult. Yes, I kid you not, the screen says literally “difficult”. Signs for a great game. Also they feel the need to be special and or grammatically correct. Somewhat. The options for the music and sound are displayed as follows:

“Music is: ON”

“Sound FX are: ON”

Why? These “is” and “are” aren’t doing the game any good. It’s silly and just lines of code lost for the actual game. And they could have used it. Oh yeah, a minor annoyance is that you can’t scroll back that the difficulty menu. But that’s nitpicky me.

So, let’s move on with this review by pressing the B button to get out of the options menu. Wait, it’s one of those games. You need to go to “exit” to go back to the main screen. Oh yeah, “exit” instead of “return”. Whoopsiedasy.

The gameplay, my god, the gameplay.

172924-disney-s-aladdin-game-boy-screenshot-shimmy-across-the-beamsIn the name of all the holy and good cartrigdes, be happy that I played this joke for you so that I can warn you about this game. First of all, this adventure and platform game suffers from one major flaw that is also quite visible from the menu. There isn’t a save or load option. This is the kind of game that could have benefited from this feature. Like the first Super Mario Land on the gameboy, this is one of the games you have to play in one sitting. And that isn’t good at all for a handheld game. No, since usually you play these kind of games on the bus or at the doctor’s office. So, you wish you could save.

The controls are weird at best. But at the start of the game, you don’t have any guide or nothing to explain you how this game works. Let me give you one hint. Press the select button at the start of the first level so you don’t waste any apples. Yup, they start you with an attack that is limited. And without giving you a slight hint that you can press select to switch weapons, the game gets annoying really soon.

While I do realize that I ranted about game tutorials more holding your hands these days, this game should have had at least an easier first part. The very first part of this game is filled with all sorts of things. You barely get time to get used to the game mechanics or the controls. You are expected to play this one with already knowing every sort of enemy or hazard.

I just noticed this too, while writing this review, I have to pause the game and then write a bit. And the pause screen actually kindly reminds you that the game is paused with displaying a “PAUSED!” message at the bottom left of your screen. How lovely that they think we are stupid people. Just like the enemy AI in this game. I could stand in visible range of an enemy and it kept just standing there. How lovely. Also, some enemies seem to have a very special attack pattern. The one the animators gave them. And your goal is to be faster then the animation.

All the apples of the nopes. 

For a Gameboy game, the flaws don’t stop there. The music is the next victim of my critic-ing. And it’s terrible. The menu music is true to the 172925-disney-s-aladdin-game-boy-screenshot-these-white-platformmovie. But the music in game is just a loop of a 1-2 minutes melody and it gets annoying and repetitive extremely quick. And there is no way to go in game to the option menu to put it off. They forgot to program that in I suppose.

The first camel you pass in the game, which can be used as a mini-trampoline, actually spits out knives from it’s mouth. This happens after you see an enemy cheat by walking over hot coals. Which is actually a black puddle on your screen. That brings us to the graphics. They are bland. Somethings even don’t represent that they are supposed to be. The apples look like bombs. And who dies of apples, except from chocking on them, anyways?

Also, the attacking of enemies is flawed. Their melee attack reaches further then yours. Which means that you need to use your valuable apples to take no damage. And believe me, you are going to need that health since it’s so rare to find a health pick up. In addition to that, you don’t get explained what the power ups do. One of the first power ups I came across is one that wipes out all enemies on screen. And guess what, there was only one enemy on screen. ONE, for NOPE’s sake, ONE!

Oh, and what’s up with the jumping? You can’t attack when you are in the air. In addition to that, when you fall from a platform, you are locked vertically. So, if you see a vase dropping down on you, it’s damage you can’t avoid. Oh yeah, cheap game. Very cheap. But lucky me, the damage doesn’t get taken since the animation was still playing of Aladdin getting up after the fall. And this ended after the vase actually hit me. Oh joy.

Also, what did I say from the AI before? Further in the first level, I was able to get an enemy in attack mode without even the ability to hit me. Wait, why isn’t it coming closer to me then? Oh yeah, movie game. That explains a lot. So I destroyed this enemy with my rock apples. Which brings me to another complaint. There is no clear indication which weapon you have selected. You just need to guess or to press the attack button to know that.

The decent animations of the characters are ruined by the white outline around them. Which makes those very clear, but not the places where you can and can’t jump on. Since this game isn’t so linear, this is another issue.

And then my copy decided to freeze. Which it often does. So, end of this review! On to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Follows the movie story quite well.

+ It’s exists for reviewers to rip apart when they need to review a bad game.

The bad:

– Terrible AI.

– Lacking save and load feature.

– Bland graphics.

– Annoying music.

– Major flaws in the controls.

– Too steep of a learning curve.

– Nothing of the game gets explained.

– Bland sound effects and some parts could use sound effects.

– Difficult even on easy.

– …

My advise

When you are a Gameboy collector, get this game. But let it gather dust. As a hobby gameboy gamer, don’t even spend money on this title. You’ll regret it for sure. There aren’t many games I don’t finish for a review but this is one of them. I had trouble finding good points to defend this game.

This was a promising game though, but the lack of so many things and screwed up basics make this game a shouting fest for adventure and platform gamers. I forgot to mention a few things in my review like the sound and the enemy always being able to hit you first, but it’s clear that this game has more flaw then Swish cheese has holes.

And if you would excuse me, I need to play better games now to finish up other reviews of actually good games. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave in the comments what your experience is with the game.

Score: 27 / 100

3 games I wish I finished.

Thanks Nhi for creating this
Thanks Nhi for creating this

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

okami-wii-boxartOkami (Wii)

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

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

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

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

Mirror’s Edge (PC)

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

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

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

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

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

Mystic Quest (GB)

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

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

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

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

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

Final words

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

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

First Impression: Pokémon Black & White (DS) ~ Late to the party.

Pokemon_Black_Box_Artwork

Official website

Before start this blog, I want to apologize for not posting for a while. I have been quite busy with my personal life. Follow me on my twitter if you need to know more. Anyways, I realize too that I am extremely late starting to play this entry in the Pokémon series. But I have distracted by other games. Yeah, that excuse will convince you. I hope. Anyways, I’m playing it now and as long time Pokémon fan I feel mixed about this entry. And I shall explain why in this first impression. Remember that these is what I think when first playing the game. Anyways, I’m going to play the sequel after this and I will probably buy the next installment on the 3DS. Anyways, let me know in the comments what you think of my opinion and what you thought yourself when you first started to play this game. Oh, and I place the Pokémon Black box-art here since that’s the version I’m playing through.

Updated yet step back.

516677-pokemon-black-version-nintendo-ds-screenshot-title-screenThis game has a few flaws. And I want to direct here. This game feels like how Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity cuts a lot of things. It’s a great game in many ways but I dislike many things. One major example is the unhandy menu.

Seriously, who thought of the menu? It’s such a neat idea for having some items like the drowsing machine on the bottom screen but the menu is also displayed on that bottom screen. So what happens is that you have to switch if you want to take something from your bag. This could easily have been avoided or solved if they used tabs in this game to easily switch between your items.

What I feel is a downfall in this game is that the creativity in the Pokémon design is a bit lacking. Some Pokémon don’t look as original as all the previous generations. I keep asking myself, why don’t they stop creating new Pokémon and just use the overflow of Pokémon they have? The legendary Pokémon don’t feel as legendary anymore either.

Also, they removed the ability of a Pokémon running behind you. A feature I extremely liked in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver. It does make those games more unique and it gives them a reason to replay them yet the PokéWalker was doing that for Nintendo already.

And what I also find disappointing as well is the fact you can’t name your friends. This which such a nice feature in every previous game. Now they just have names already. Awn, no fun Game Freak.

More 3D

imagesVisually this game is extremely well done. In presentation of the world, it’s a great job. The seasons are such an amazing idea and the Pokémon that fly by, it pulled me into the game without a doubt. Yet, I wished that the seasons where set with the calender instead of somewhat random. Since it confuses me that it’s autumn in the game while it’s summer here for me.

Apart from some not so creative Pokémon, this game brings a lot of features I like to the table. A feature where you can quickly access often used features is such a great addition. I said earlier that the drowsing machine has gotten an amazing upgrade. The trainer card is what it’s supposed to be now. You can make a greeting, put your mood and your trainer style! Great work.

I love running through the new world. The camera is such a nice thing. In certain area’s it shows you the area’s from the side or from other directions. Something I felt that was missing from the series for a long time.

The battles, while not perfect, have gotten a major step in the right direction. The battle screen is more animated and the camera moves more with the attacks instead of standing still. The animation is one of the better I have seen in the Pokémon games and it really sets the bar high for the next games.

Nods to the older games

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This game does feel more realistic. But I doubt if this will make the game timeless. But that’s something that we will need to see in the future. But the game’s story is one that caught my attention. It’s different and it’s really fine from what I read now.

But the game has also nods to the older games. It like starting your journey at a young age or the guys of GameFreak putting themselves in the game. Nice easter egg guys.

The music is enjoyable but doesn’t have the magic that older music has. It’s probably the nostalgia factor for me but it’s not bad. The sound effects are what you are used to of Pokémon.

The game has a lot to offer. It seems that this game is extremely long too. And finally, there is now a good reason to choose between the two versions. Pokémon Black and White have a location that is exclusive to that game. The difference isn’t simply some Pokémon and the legendary one anymore. Thank the lords.

In conclusion, this game does a lot to pull you in. There are a lot of features I haven’t yet seen in the game. Like wild battles with two Pokémon instead of one, I haven’t messed around with that enough to give my full opinion. It’s clear to me already that this game is a good game but it’s far from perfect. It’s a step in the right direction for the series. So, another game I will have to review when I finally finished it. Oh dear, I better get back to playing so I can post my final thoughts on it. Take care and thanks for reading!

Review #011: Assassin’s Creed – Brotherhood (XBOX360) ~ Rest in peace.

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Link to the entry on the Assassin’s Creed wiki.

Well, what’s going on here? NekoJonez reviewing while he is at a friends place? It’s true since my good buddy Blindshot is a big fan of this series. We started discussing about games and I talked about my first review here, Tomb Raider. I saw it on the XBOX360 and it’s surely different. But now I give him the chance to review a game. He isn’t good at writing but I wrote the review, yet he provided me with the material. A fun writing challenge too. So, this game series has been on my to play list for such a long while. Yet, the stealthy gameplay is keeping me off since I am not that good in these types of games. I remember the sneaky part in Tomb  Raider, I was stuck there for quite a while since I can’t get passed the guards unnoticed. Long live “balls to the walls action” baby. So, now it’s time to review the 3rd game in the series. Are we going to rip it a new one? Or, the other possibility, give it some (more) praise. Let’s find out with this review. With the help of Blindshot. In this review, he tried to describe me the things without spoiling me too much since I want to play this game without spoilers. 

No ninja’s here.

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The piece of Eden. Again a quest to get this artifact. Just like in some previous entries of the series. In this game it’s time to win it back. Like in one of my favorite game series, Broken Sword, those Templars are at it again. They are trying to take over the world. Unlike Broken Sword, they don’t try to get our asses burned with a giant dragon. Thankfully.

The pacing of the story is bad, wait no I meant good. Well, actually it’s at your own pace. You can start the missions whenever you feel like it. So, you can make the game linger as much as you want or go speedrunning it.

The story is accompanied by a nice looking world. The world is very detailed and a fun place to explore. But we shall dive deeper into the gameplay later. Everything is made with great attention to detail and draws you into the game even more. But the animation has a few flaws. Like ropes disappearing and the hay thingies are lacking the fine attention to detail then the looks of the game. But that’s the only thing we could find to sad bad about it. The murders and other animated jazz is done pretty well.

In almost every mission, you have different ways to reach your goal. The level design is very good. But Blindshot told me that he had some issues with the camera where his guy didn’t do what he wanted. Like trees that disappear. Oh jolly good fun. The level design is pretty realistic since the developers went on location to create this game.

Rest in peace, biches

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The controls didn’t change from the first and second entry in the series. So, playing with this set of controls is extremely easy. Well, not meant that the game is easy. Nothing feels stiff or stuck. Taunting enemies is something Blindshot enjoys. But how is the difficulty of the game?

The game has an inconsistent difficulty. And this game takes the difficulty to a whole new level. It goes from difficult to less difficult. Of course this is the story but that’s a given. Blindshot told me that there are parts where the guards are super mega extremely attentive and other times you can just murder them in front of their face. This makes for confusing moments. Like some types of guards don’t do a thing when the see you running on the walls.

Some missions are nearly impossible to complete. For getting that lovely 100% mark that is. Thanks to the locations being to crowded or other things like that. And this might piss off several gamers who try to get all the 100% in every case.

 The game got shorter then the previous entries. The game isn’t extremely lengthy. Blindshot thinks that the gameplay for the main story gives you 30 hours. But thanks to the various side missions and other unlockables the game suddenly makes worth for your money and might give you a 50-ish hour game.

In the game there is a big variation. The game won’t get you bored easily. And thank god, the tutorials are free to follow. You can even disable them. This gives a nice welcoming door for new players. The gameworld is rather large but there is fast travel which takes out the boring parts of traveling the whole way. And the game saves often enough to not give you a big setback.

The music is super. The composer of the music, Jesper Kyd, made an amazing soundtrack. On each occasion there is another track. this really keeps you into the game and makes the game that more satisfying to play.  And the music isn’t stopped just like that. It goes gently from one track to the next. The sound design is extremely well done. There is no delay. But there is an issue with the hidden blades and the sounds. It sounds, wrong.

A gem of a game?

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This game has a few flaws. Things like jumping into hay from many meters high and having not that much damage takes a way from a lot of the realism of the game. Like not being able to get stuck with the parachute.

Blindshot was also not pleased with the addition of the parachute. It takes a way a lot of fun he said.

The game gets easier thanks to the crossbow. Too easy since killing the guards and targets becomes just a breeze.

The death animations are slow, much too slow. Mostly on roofs. They are mostly like dolls and the animation is not there. Also when they hit the ground, then the animation starts.

And we are going to leave it here. Of course this game has a lot more to offer but we can’t talk about it all.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Story.

+ Sound & music.

+ Gameplay.

+ Nice locations.

+ Tight controls.

The bad:

– Animation is flawed in some parts.

– There are some bugs.

– Crossbow is overpowered.

– Parachutes.

– Difficulty.

Our advise:

We might not have completely gone in depth about the gameplay but this game is a nice title in your collection. It’s accessible for you new comers but also great for you veteran players. Compared to the previous games is it a good step up. It’s a lot better then the previous entries but it is still not perfect.

It’s an extremely enjoyable game to play, while you overlook the flaws.

Score: 77 / 100

Review #010: Pokémon Blue/Red/Yellow (GB) ~ Good old days

Blue-and-Red

Wikipedia entry

It’s the year 2000. Pokémon is extremely popular and the first game for on the gameboy is about to reach store shelves. And critics praised it for one of the best games for the system. And it was a launch game. As a child, I played this game an awful lot. Not understanding a word from what they were saying, but I continued on. My basic English comes from this game. But let’s review it now. Has this game given me some nostalgia goggles? Will I rate this game high because it has child hood memories or will I rip it to pieces now that I’m older? Well, let’s take a look into the cult classic Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow for a proper review.

Shouting everywhere.

While writing this review, the game is running on the TV next to me. Thanks to the SuperGameboy and my trusty SNES. But what I noticed is that many things are shouted. Like “TEAM ROCKET” or any attack name. Image Pokémon like this in real life, each time something important is used, you have to shout it out loud.

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What’s Pokémon about? Well, your goal is that you capture monsters living in the wild, train them to become stronger and so defeating the elite 4. On your journey you need to defeat the eight gym leaders to prove you are worthy to challenge the elite 4.

This concept is great and works extremely well. But in your journey you will have to fight the bad guys named Team Rocket and stop their evil plans. The plot, while basic, is great. It doesn’t go too deep and it’s great for a kids game like this. It’s understandable for the younger audience. At the end, there is also a plot twist. But I’m not going to spoil it since I’m quite sure most of you readers know what I’m talking about.

So, with a good story, let’s move on to the graphical side of things. The graphics of this game are great and not that great at the same time. While it surely looks pretty on the gameboy limited hardware, some sprites for your own Pokémon look bad. Take for example Metapod, he looks kinda scary when you use him as a Pokémon.

A battle of sounds

gfs_4611_2_27So, I said that the graphics look good? Yes, the caves look cave-y. The forests look forest-y. But it doesn’t do anything special. In the sequel, the graphics are way better, but there it’s improved for better hardware.

I can’t be too harsh on the graphics. The artwork and the design of the game follows the anime series extremely well and surely make you feel like you where actually travelling along side Ash. Especially when you played Pokémon Yellow, where Pikachu walked behind you. You were able to click on him for seeing his mood in a small animation.

There is a nice use of animations in the game as well. For the more powerful attacks, the screen can flash and or shake. But some effects have minor issues. For example, when your Pokémon is at low health, the sound effects and the music are having a sort of battle in terms of which sound-effect is allowed to play.

Let’s talk about the music and sound-effects. They are top notch. The music is melodic and sets the tone just right for any situation. Each track might just be around a minute or two long, but it rarely gets old. I even like to play the music when I’m on the road. And when the music plays, I truly can image being on a bike or on the sea.

The sound-effects are doing what good sound-effects are supposed to do. Draw you into the gameplay even more. The let you know if an item is used, when your Pokémon is getting attacked and so on and on. And the library of sound-effects is pretty expansive since all the 151 different Pokémon have their very own tune.

Walking and more walking

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Okay, we all know the complaint that psychic Pokémon where overpowered in the first generation. But the different Pokémon types are such an amazing addition to the gameplay. It truly makes you think in which Pokémon you are going to take in your party.

Pokémon is set up in such a way that it’s extremely replayable. You can set up yourself many different challenges like the Nutzlocke challenge. (Releasing a Pokémon when it fainted) or trying to catch all the Pokémon.

But you can only do that when you have a friend with the other version of the game. Which worked for friends to have some amazing trades and battles. If I remember correctly, one or two Pokémon only evolved when you traded them, but that could have been in later generations tough.

Is this game perfect, well no. There are some issues with this game I think bring this classic down. For starters, something I don’t see a lot on other reviews is that the characters are so bland. No one of the characters really gets depth nor explained. they are just there. And congrats to the writers making such an amazing tale with such “empty shells” of characters.

Another thing is that some Pokémon spam one status attack. Like attacks that make you sleep or steal health. It’s frustrating seeing this happen over and over again.

The inventory is a mess. Items are everywhere. Lucky for us, in the sequels they have addressed this issue and improved upon it.

Also, this game has hands down, the strangest glitches I have ever seen in a gameboy game. And there are a lot of them. Many glitches I wished where patched.

So, I’m going to leave it here for Pokémon. Let’s get on to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Nice tale.

+ Epic world.

+ Quite lengthy.

+ Highly replayable.

+ Memorable music and sounds.

+ Amazing gameplay.

The bad:

– Sound issues.

– Glitches.

– “Empty Shell” characters.

– Spamming of one attack.

My verdict:

You can’t escape the fact that this Pokémon game is pretty amazing. While it has it’s flaws, it still is able to keep up a certain charm. It isn’t old, and it will never be. Thanks to the various improvements of the sequels and later entries, this game looks dated.

Yet this game stays fun for picking up memories. It’s an easy RPG and it’s fun with the capital F. So, play it now and enjoy it.

Score: 90 / 100

My wishes for future updates of Minecraft

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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 #005: Modern gaming never grew up.

Thanks to my girlfriend for making this for me.
Thanks to my friend for making this for me.

Let’s face it. The modern games makes the current gaming market a totally different market. You can’t deny it, it’s simply a fact that games lately are getting easier and easier and that you can’t go without a tutorial, even for an easy game. People always go nuts about the graphics and some things no longer matter for them. Is this current gaming market still as good as the old gaming market? Are retro games truly better or is it something else? Let’s rant!

Retro games are better!

Many claim that the original Mario is still better.
Many claim that the original Mario is still better.

Many gamers that are around the age of 20 or older will tell you that games of their childhood where better then the current games. Some will even stick with those good old games and play them even to this day, they are the so called retro gamers.

But if you ask younger gamers, they are going to look to games from 10 years ago and go bashing on the graphics or other things. Saying that they are old and actually saying they suck.

To make a long rant short, you can easily say that it’s a generation thing. Older people grew up with the old Mario and since it holds so many childhood memories, they say it’s the better game. Newer games don’t give that feeling of nostalgia that makes them prefer the newer games above the older games.

Yet, there are also gamers who always think the newer games are better. Graphics, gameplay, story telling… everything gets improved.  But what’s a better game? Surely, it’s personal preference. If I like to play older games, I’ll say that the older games are better. But it can work the other way around too. In addition to that, you need to look to the “quality” of the games too. Are the games actually good for that time period? Or are they garbage?

Flaws of the modern games.

Yearly we get a new Call Of Duty. Yup.
Yearly we get a new Call Of Duty. Yup.

Modern games aren’t perfect. Not at all. The biggest issue I have with them is that they are mostly focusing on the graphical aspect rather then the gameplay. Also, in one of my previous rants, I talked about how many modern games actually hold your hand and tell you what to do. There is no exploration in a game.

Straight or a limit amount of paths are the norm. Games with an open world like for example Zelda always have a certain way to stop you from progressing without an item. This way they manage to make the game extremely linear without you even realizing.

A big example for ranters to talk about is how the Call Of Duty campaign gets shorter each year. The game is a multiplayer game without a doubt. You basically buy it for being able to go online. One of my best friends was a fan of the series but got annoyed by it’s latest entries where his hand was hold for him to finish.

It would be stupid if we didn’t mention the fact that most gaming companies go milking the cash cow. If something sells, they make more of the same to get even more money from our pockets. Let’s take the cheap example of how many Mario games are sold. It’s an easy mascot that kids recognize and buy.

What mostly makes me worry is the lack of creativity in the current gaming world. Outside of the indy developers we barely see new creative work. It’s always the same thing and it the sequel the work out the flaws of the original, but it’s mostly the same idea. Or they cut out on things like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity.

Let’s talk about the systems for a second. Give me one system that can’t run DVD’s or play your favorite music. The Wii & DS couldn’t do that, unless you illegally modified them. Modern gaming platforms are more aimed to the general multimedia lover instead of a gamer. This makes that games need to be aimed for a wider group so they can’t be too difficult.

Flaws of retro games.

Good old Metroid.
Good old Metroid.

One major issue is that some games are way too difficult. The infamous 1 hit death is a welcome example here. Also the fact that there wasn’t an internet to look for walkthroughs or cheats, makes games more difficult. Like some gamers say, when you couldn’t finish a game back then, that’s though luck for you.

In addition to that, there were many games that had cryptic area’s to make the game more difficult. In Zelda II – Adventure of Link for example you need to pass through a wall to finish one dungeon. Or Death Mountain, it’s a maze beyond belief.

Also, games were pretty fragile. Saving worked with an internal battery in the cartridge and when that one ran out, it’s no saving for you. Also when there was dust in the game’s connector pins, you had to carefully blow in the cartridge to make it work again. When the connector pins broken, your game was broken too.

Also the games where more flawed back then. The games where more buggy like the famous cartridge titling glitch. But I can’t count on one hand anymore how much internet memes are created because of the faulty translation of games. “All your base are belong to us.” is a very popular example.

The internet, a knife that cuts both ways.

A generic picture to fancy up the article.
A generic picture to fancy up the article.

If I had to point out something that is good and bad for the gaming community it’s the internet for sure.

The good thing is that indy developers now have more tools to release their work. If they make a website and do some promotion on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube for example; they are set. Another good thing is that (big) companies can now easier support their costumers. They can make FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on their website so that their Q&A (Question and Answer) staff doesn’t have to answer the same question over and over again.

Yet the internet is such a bad influence to games as well. Walkthroughs are such a welcome invention. But I can’t deny that I have finished some games with a walkthrough at hand. Above that, the internet is filled with spoilers. If you are tired of the game and you want to know the ending, you can simply look it up. This defeats the purpose of finishing a game.

Oh, and don’t worry, I’m going to talk about it. The amount of hacks and cheats in a game that you can download on the internet. An aimbot for shooters or a X-Ray for Minecraft. It all exists. And people enjoy using it online. And it ruins the experience for gamers that want to play the game legit. Abusing bugs, I can live with that. But using wall hacks or other things makes my blood boil.

I have to admit that after finishing a game, I messed around with programs a lot that made my character jump higher or that I had unlimited ammo. It’s fun to do once to see how the game is made and how things work. But if you try to finish it for the first time, a lot of the fun is taken away.

Spoilers are also everywhere. If you play a game alongside with one of your favorite YouTubers, the comments are filled with things that will happen in the game. Bye bye thrilling game.

Modern games never grew up.

It’s nearly “pick your poison”. Both games have flaws that make me go nuts. Old games can be too difficult and new games can be too easy or unpolished.

Thankfully there are exceptions to the rule. Some games actually aren’t that bad. Some old games can also be extremely easy. But in my eyes, modern games never grew up to a new gaming level. Many improvements are made to the graphics but does that make for better games? I truly don’t know and I will surely touch upon this subject again. But for now I’m going to leave it here. Thanks for reading and until next time.