First Impression: Neutopia (Wii U – TurboGraphix16) ~ Is this Zelda?

Wikipedia entry

There are a lot of different Zelda clones out there. And to be honest, I don’t mind it at all. It keeps Nintendo on its toes in making the next Zelda game. If it’s not good enough, then the clones have a chance to be the next big hit. Recently, I took a look at some of them. Blossom King and Lenna’s Inception are two good examples. So, during my week off this week, I was browsing the Nintendo Wii U eShop and I discovered Neutopia. At first, I thought it was an indie developer creating another 2D Zelda clone, but I was quite surprised when I saw that the developer was Hudson Soft. So, I dug a bit deeper, and it turns out that this game was never released in Europe until the Wii and Wii U era. So, why didn’t we get this game, and its sequel over here in Europe? Was the Zelda clone not good enough, or did we miss out? Let’s find out, while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and/or opinions on the content of this article and/or this game.

Is this Zelda?

I find the story in this game quite amusing. It’s, to a certain degree, a cross between your cliché Zelda and Final Fantasy story. Change the Triforce with crystals. Sprinkle some Zelda II with a sleeping princess in a shrine, that instead of getting cursed… gets kidnapped Link to the Past style. Oh, and let’s not forget that the crystals are elemental crystals. The story is silly but oh so amusing to me. The story isn’t the main focal point in this game. Besides the main character, the villain, and the princess… There aren’t many unique characters in the game. Which isn’t a bad thing. The name of the villain is hilarious, actually. He is called Dirth, yes… dirt with an additional H.

In terms of gameplay, this game is everything I could hope for. This game is Zelda I at its heart, and I love it. It didn’t take long for me to get immersed in the game and start exploring the world. All the mechanics were clear to me right away. I had to explore the lands, find the dungeons and find all the medallions. I started out with a sword and started exploring. The controls are extremely easy to learn as well, so in no time I was in the action.

Something that took me by surprise is that there are only 4 dungeons. But, there are two medallions in each dungeon. So, you’ll have to explore them quite thoroughly to make sure you found everything. Speaking of exploring, I was afraid that I would have to look for ages for the various dungeons since the game also copied the “map” system from Zelda I. Thankfully, you have a Charmed Compass that points you into the general direction of the dungeons.

There are no keys in this game, so no locked door puzzles. Yet, the map system has a unique feature. It plays a special sound effect whenever you are near a boss or a medallion. This brings me nicely to the audiovisual presentation of this game. The music in this game, oh heavens. The music in this game is excellent! This chiptune soundtrack fits the game so well and is one of the best things in this game. It made the exploration and trying to beat the various challenges the game gives you even more fun. The sound effects are decent too, if only I wished there were a bit more of them to make the enemies and weapons come more alive.

Is this game hard? Well, if you know how to play Zelda I, it’s not hard at all. You have to know that you can burn bushes, push rocks, and that villagers are hidden all over the world that gives you VERY helpful advice. For real, read what the villagers have to say. The only nitpick I have is that when you accidentally press the skip button, you’ll have to exit and re-enter their location to know what they said.

This game is also somewhat forgiving. When you die, you go to the latest checkpoint you saved at. So, whenever you did something big or before a dungeon, remember to save. This isn’t your modern game with autosaves. The save system is unique, when save you get a very long password and the chance to save in a slot. But do yourself a favor, and only use that save feature to create checkpoints so when you die, you don’t lose too much progress and use the actual save states of the virtual console to save. I found that much more reliable than the load system. Especially since the save slots are RAM-based! Any RAM memory can be overwritten. The only thing you lose is a bit of gold.

The items that enemies can drop are the exact same as in the first Zelda game. Apart from having different sprites. From gold, bomb to even a time-stopping power up. And if you listen well to the villagers, you’ll know what each item does, since they hint at them pretty well.

Visually, this game looks amazing. The only thing I found a shame is that there were no real towns or anything in the game. But that’s a minor nitpick since, evener then, the map is quite memorable and great fun to explore. Of course, you have your typical locals from a forest, mountains, and desert, but they all fit the world so well. Strangely enough, there is no ice/cold area in this game. That’s something you don’t see every game every day. But, we don’t see perfect games every day either. Yet, is this game one of those?

This isn’t as good as Zelda.

Sadly enough, no. This game has some flaws. The first is the bombs. The big issue is that you need way too many of them to beat the game, and you can only carry 8 of them at the start. There is also no easy way to farm them, so when you require more… It’s enemy killing time, and cross your fingers they drop bombs. And bombs are one of the few items that stack. When the wings drop, to easily escape to the last save point, you can only have one. Even when you picked up two. … Okay, you can carry two health points.

There is something I feel a bit mixed about, and that is some villagers. Some villagers give you special rewards like money. But only once. That alone is just fine. But, here is the annoying thing. If you die and go back to that spot, you can’t get the money again. Yet, when I think about this… It makes a bit sense too. Since, if the reward of the villager is higher than what you lose when you die… It would be money exploit waiting to happen. If only you could decline the money before you get it, that would have been amazing.

Now, that it was difficult to create a good map system on an 8-bit system for Zelda I, I can totally understand. You only have so much RAM and resources to play with before the system starts to lag. But, on a system that’s at least twice as powerful, the map system can do more. The map system is a huge mess in my eyes.

First, there is no overworld map, so you don’t know where you are in the overworld. Something that the first Zelda game actually did! Second, after getting the dungeon map, it resets the visited rooms when you leave the dungeon by any means. And third, it only shows you the rooms for the first medallion. Which in itself isn’t a big issue, but it’s a big issue since when you die exploring the second part of the dungeon, guess what… The map is reset and the new rooms are gone! Oh, and I hope you remembered where to bomb to continue.

Sadly, this game has the same annoyance as the first Zelda game when it comes to hitboxes. During my playthrough, I felt that sometimes it was easier for the enemies to hit me compared to hitting them. The fact you can’t hit enemies diagonally is a huge issue. Since, when you aren’t lined up right… You don’t hit the enemy, but they hit you. Well, you can hit enemies diagonally but not with the sword. Just increasing the hitboxes of the enemies by a tiny bit would have solved this issue.

Something minor about this is that some airborne enemies were tricky to know when you were able to hit and not hit them. Speaking of iffy enemy design, I found some enemies a bit too cheap. Those mud crawlers are so annoying in predicting where they will turn up.

Now, I think I said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I honestly think it’s time to wrap this up in a nice conclusion.

Is this worth your time?

For this conclusion, I won’t beat around the bush. If you enjoy any 2D adventure game like let’s say: Zelda I, Blossom Tales, Lenna’s Inception, Fairune… This game is right up your alley. This amazing retro title is an excellent time waster. It does have some flaws, but when you get used to the flaws, this game is stunning. Currently, I’m halfway done with the game, but I couldn’t wait in finishing the game before I started writing this review.

This game brought me back to the joy of 2D Zelda games. Which is one of my favorite types of games. Just keep in mind that this game is a retro game and the things I talked about in my review, and you are golden. I’m playing this game blind and not using a walkthrough at all. It’s a blast, and can’t wait to see what the game is going to throw at me next. And let’s not forget the sequel! Which improvements were made and is it going to be as much fun as this one?

Now, if you decide to play this game… I personally would advise you to play this game on the Virtual Console or PSN. If you want to play it on the TurboGraphix 16, be careful with saving in the cabinets/save files. Do write down your passwords. Since saving to RAM… I don’t trust it personally. And sadly enough, the passwords are long and complex. It’s case-sensitive even.

I highly enjoyed my time with this game, and I can’t recommend it enough to fellow 2D adventure game fans and retro game fans. But, I can totally understand that because of its age and quirks, this game might not be so enjoyable for everybody. But, give it a chance, I really think it is worth it.

And with that said, I want to thank you all 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 to another one, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Those annoying mud things :/

Preview: Neon Valley Revenge (PC) ~ Let’s Go Shooting in Tron?

neon valley revengeOfficial website

Recently, I came across a game on the world wide web called Neon Valley Revenge. This game is so interesting, I wish that there was already a demo I could play. So, let me tell you when I’m so interested in this game. I also got in contact with the developers and the CEO told me that a demo might come in the future. In any case, let’s take a look at Neon Valley Revenge. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the content of the article and/or the game.

Let’s Go Shooting in Tron

neon valley revenge 1I chose the title of this article for a reason. This game is going to be a shooter set in a sort of Tron-ish looking world. It’s going to be an online shooter too.

From the currently released material on their website, I’m not sure if this game is going to have a single player campaign.

I think there is no need to talk about the visuals in depth since the screenshots in the article will do the trick I think. A picture can say more than a thousand words after all. But, if you want to see the game in action, you can look at this teaser trailer where the developers show off some combat mechanics. You can find more information about it in their article about the video.

Something that gets me interested in the game is the fact that the wall jumping. This opens up the map in so many different directions and I can’t wait to see how hectic matches can be online. Also, I like that there seems to be a 1st and 3rd person mode in the game. Personally, I like to play my shooters in 1st person, but if there is going to be an option, this will please both parties.

neon valley revenge 2Also, if the music from the video is going to be any indication of the soundtrack that this game will have in store, I’m getting even more hyped for the game. I think that the music really fits the presentation they are going to this game. There are some hidden hints placed in an article about the music that might possibly get into the game.

In another blog post, the developers confirmed the wall jumping amongst other forms of movement. Two other things that are pretty interesting is the air control and the dashing. It’s quite clear that this game is going for a futuristic vibe. I like the execution in this game since it really fits the theme visually. So, the artist did a great job in design everything.

Speaking about the artist, the main developer Jonathan D. and David Belli made the animations. Now, do you want to hear something even more impressive? Besides those two, there are three other people working on this game. The team is presented in this blog post.

So, the developers also revealed a bit how it’s going to work in the gameplay department. For this, I point you to a page talking about one of the maps. There will be commands to easily and quickly do things like vote and kicking players.

There are other various bits of information on that same page. You can find the control scheme and some information on how high scores and weapon load outs will work. Currently, the controls won’t be customizable, but the keyword is “currently”. I personally hope that the developer knows that “QWERTY” isn’t the only keyboard layout. I know, I know; it’s a pet peeve of mine, but I hate it when I play a game using my “AZERTY” keyboard and I have to place my fingers in a weird position to play the game.

So, I’m going to keep an eye on this game. When the demo is ready, I’ll surely give it a shot with my friends who are into shooters. From just seeing the already released (press) material, I can’t wait to see this game become a finished product. There is, even more, to discover on their website when it comes to art and screenshots.

Now I would like to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care. And before I finish this article, I want to share the press kit for this game with you. So here it is! It’s written by the CEO of the developers Daydream Productions, Jonathan D.

Press kit

Daydream Productions presents

Neon Valley: Revenge is an online shooter with Neo 80s design influence. Full of retro neon-infused graphics and hardcore gameplay features, join the digital frontier of Neon Valley and claim your place at the top!

Features

  • Health shield system inspired by Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Agility focused movement for freedom of control. Wall jumping, dashing and air control
  • Assortment of weapons and gadgets with unconventional mechanics
  • Skill and style based points scoring system
  • Online multiplayer
  • Arcade style high score leaderboards
  • Neo 80s design and synthwave music

History

neon valley revenge 3I have been dabbling in game development since the tender age of 14. Mostly working with pixel art and some basic programming using the program Beyond. And after my education, I worked on several projects with friends or freelance based. However, after many of them fell through, I felt like I had to just go for it and push through whatever challenges lie ahead. To develop my own game, a project I could use to broaden my skillset and begin as a professional game developer. I aimed for a game design within my reach… Something which did not go so well.

Neon Valley is a project I have worked on the last 2-3 years. Mostly in my free time and a lot of the time which should have been my sleep. As I am originally an artist and designer I had to learn programming, so I could begin developing my own ideas. This project was for that purpose but as it developed I wanted to take the extra step. So I took it to the next level, revamped a lot of the art and turned it into a somewhat full-fledged game. Or at least direct my goals towards that. Neon Valley transformed from a small prototype shooter to an online multiplayer shooter.

I had to learn not only C# programming in Unity but also pick up how to program networking. And beyond that VFX, designing game mechanics, Lighting, bla bla bla oh my god. So it has been a rough couple years for this little artist, something very out of my comfort zone. It was not the straightforward copy paste of my 14yr old projects. But I love it none the less and am very excited to present my figurative but-also-kind-of-literal blood sweat and tears.

Goals

I wish to tailor-make a competitive online shooter that allows a diverse variety of gameplay styles. Currently, there is only a handful of items in the game. However, over the next few months, I will be designing more characters, weapons, and gadgets, testing them one by one with the players. Experimenting with the gameplay feel and a variety of gameplay mechanics at the player’s disposal. I hope to over time develop Neon Valley into a place where players can develop their own gameplay styles without feeling forced into specific “Meta” gameplay.

 

Review: The Legend of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds (3DS) ~ Merged.

1382344384First Impression – Official site

I know, I know. This game has been released for such a long time. I have only just recently beaten it. The reason for that is that other games distracted me, and I was annoyed at one dungeon. But hey, now that I have finished it, I finally can take a look at this game. I already reviewed a Zelda game earlier this month, but I hope you guys can forgive me for two Zelda game reviews back to back. There will be one guy that will read my review for sure! Isn’t that true, Dark_Legend? Since I know you are looking forward to any content about Zelda. We are both big Zelda fans. Zelda is love. Zelda is LIFE! Anyway, enough with the randomness in this introduction. Let’s take a look at this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and or your opinion on this game. Before I continue with the actual review, I want to say that this review has been written quite some time after the first impression article. So, it might be quite possible that my opinion changed quite a bit compared to the first impression. Hopefully your readers can understand that. 

Let’s start.

3DS_ZeldaLBW_ComicCon_ScreenShot_08

While I was playing this game, I was also playing the remake of Ocarina of Time on 3DS. The story has lots of similar elements. While the set-up is quite similar to A Link To The Past, the story takes its inspiration from Ocarina Of Time.

That doesn’t mean that the story isn’t unique. I’m a little disappointing to see that the story was created using two other Zelda stories with a new element in it. I don’t have any complaints in terms of story besides that. Furthermore, I just felt like I was playing through two quite similar stories. The medallions were the paintings in this game.

It’s by all means, not a bad story. I liked the characters, and it was fascinating to see how this game throws a twist in the end. I can’t say it’s predictable, only a person with a lot of experience in the visual novel genre or in writing might see the ending of this game coming.

Likewise, I can understand that this game is a remake of A Link To The Past, so I can forgive the story being mediocre. Not only that, but I’m actually glad that we got a different game than another remake of A Link To The Past, because it already got a remake on the GBA.

Also, because this game tries out a ton of new things with the Zelda formula, I can’t complain that much about its length. A complaint I read often is that this game is too short. I can agree. For veteran Zelda players, you can beat this game quite fast. I didn’t beat it as fast as I could because I didn’t like one dungeon. I’ll get into that later.

Not that good?

1ea37f3b8343403dc94d274f0c92fa04

I’m quite sure I’m going to get some hate for this, but I think that the scores this game get are quite high. Honestly, a bit too high. Let me explain myself. Before I look like a troll.

Graphically, this game left me with a “meh” feeling. I enjoy the style using in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks more. You won’t hear me complaining about the more realistic and detailed art-style of Ocarina Of Time. This game is a mix between the two styles.

It tries to have a realistic look on the characters while some enemies and part of the world have a more cartoon-like look to it.

I also didn’t like some character and enemy designs. My favorite race in the Zelda series must be the Zora’s. In this game they look like blown up frogs. So, long story short, I don’t think that this game looks all that good.

This game does make more mistakes than that. The final boss is way too easy. I was able to beat the final boss on my first try. I even didn’t need my 2nd health potion. The solution was way too easy for a veteran puzzle game player. It left me with a very disappointed feeling. The story might have a sweet climax, but the gameplay hasn’t.

What I’m trying to say here is that the difficulty is messed up. All other reviewers said the same. Because you can do the dungeons out of order, they programmed the game in a way that the difficulty is somewhat equal in all the dungeons. There is the big issue, since you get stronger through-out the game, it truly becomes a cakewalk. I haven’t played through Hero Mode, but the overall difficulty isn’t good throughout the whole game.

Good?

LinkBetweenWorldsScreen2

Sadly enough, I’m not done yet with talking about the negatives of this game. A huge improvement is that you can put pins on your map to locations you want to visit in the future! This is quite a nice feature. I used it from time to time to be able to get to certain hart pieces later.

But I do have a problem here. All the locations of the dungeons have been marked. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It helps the player not getting lost, but it kills the exploration. Now, it’s less fun to be able to say: “I found the entrance to that dungeon.”. It’s marked on the map. You can’t overlook it.

Let’s talk dungeon design then. Earlier in this article I talked about the issue I had with this game. In the forest dungeon, you are stalked by a wall master. While it’s a very original idea, and it creates some amazing puzzles, it can be quite annoying from time to time.

In general, I think that the dungeons are very well-designed. The ice dungeon breaks a Zelda tradition. You can get the boss key almost right away. In some dungeons you can find suits to upgrade yourself. You can even find the master shield in one of the dungeons. The dungeons are filled with challenging enemies and great puzzles. I might have to use a walkthrough once or twice because I wasn’t able to figure out a puzzle. It was one of the Ice Temple. The lay-out is a bit confusing.

You can do the dungeons in what ever order you wish. You can rent the items from a weird guy that invades your home. This is unique and quite fun. Because you try to get to secrets early and things like that. You can also buy the items later on. And here is where the issue lies. The dungeons feel less rewarding to go through. At least for me, they do. Because you got the dungeon item in advance, you can easily go through it without an issue. There is less reason to try to find each and every item.

 I could sink into the floor… I mean wall.

The-Legend-of-Zelda-A-Link-Between-Worlds-baseball

So, is this game really not worth playing? No, that would be the wrong thing to say and think. This game provided me with a lot of fun. The main mechanic really helps with that. In this game you are able to merge with almost any wall in the game.

I honestly think that the music is really well done. I love the touch that the music sounds more distant as soon you merge into a wall. Also, you can be a bit more careless with your bombs and arrows. Thanks to the magic meter, you never run out of them. That saves a bunch of grinding, something that shouldn’t be in a Zelda game in the first place.

The animation is extremely well done. This game really plays nice in 3D as well. While I’m not a big fan of the visuals, I think the 3D is good. There is a lot to do besides the main story line. The fact that you can upgrade your stuff, makes the side quests rewarding.

Maybe a little spoiler, but there is a “hero” mode in this game. With this mode you can replay the whole game but in a more difficult fashion. Also, there is a multiplayer aspect to this game. It’s more SpotPass related, but I think it’s really fun. You guys should check it out!

Anyway, think I have said the most important things I wanted to say about this game. Let’s go to my conclusion.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Visually lacking in my opinion.

– The end game is extremely easy.

– The wall master hunting you down in the forest temple can be annoying 😦

– The map can be annoying to use.

The good:

+ Pins on the map!

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Great idea’s to change up the gameplay.

+ Amazing use of the amazing meter!

Closing thoughts:

This game isn’t perfect, it’s good. But it is anything but worth the big scores that big magazines are giving it. I’m a big Zelda fan, but I put this game down after I got annoyed by that wall master in the forest dungeon chasing you. There is even one in the first room of the dungeon. When I don’t play a Zelda game until I finish it, it means that there is something lacking.

The game was originally meant to be a remake of “A Link To The Past”, and that’s what this game is holding back. This is a reworked remake. Somehow I have the impression that the developers changed the main idea of the game somewhere midway development. They needed something simple to set this game apart, so they started reworking the game with the wall merging mechanic.

If I look past my fanboy-ism for the series, I see a game that has some issues but still provides a fun ride. This game isn’t an outstanding Zelda experience, but it came close. They only had to flesh out the game a bit more. To add a bit more difficulty to it. Yeah. That might have been better.

Score: 70/100