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First Impression: Woodle Tree 2 Deluxe (Switch) ~ Let’s Explore For Tears

WoodleTree2Deluxe-featured

Nintendo.com microwebsite

I remember when ChubbyPixel asked me to review Woodle Tree Deluxe on the Switch in March. I felt like there could have been done so much more with the concept of the game. Recently, the company released the sequel to the Nintendo Switch. Woodle Tree 2 Deluxe. An expanded version of Woodle Tree 2: Worlds on Steam. Now, the asked me to take a look at the sequel as well. While a review key has been provided to write this review, I’ll give my 100% honest opinion on this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Let’s explore for tears

WOODLE TREE2

The story of this game is a direct follow up to the original. In this game, you play as a son of the hero of the original game. Now, the powers of evil have taken over the Wood Lands as revenge. It’s up to you to save the Wood Lands and find the tears again.

The way the story is being told and paced is a lot better than the original. In the original, you have a small cut scene at the start and you got thrown into the hub world. Now, the whole world is the hub world and there is a central place that acts as a sort of overview place where you can buy upgrades and cosmetics.

Before you can go explore the whole map, you go through a sort of tutorial section. The tutorial is quite decent. It teaches you the basic mechanics of the game without being too punishing.

After you have saved the three first tears, you will be allowed to find all the other tears. Right on the map screen, you can see that the game is divided up in several area’s where you can find three tears each. Right there on the map screen, you can also notice that the checkpoints you activate also can be used as warp points. That’s pretty neat.

So, in each area, there are three tears and at least 80 blueberries. You can find your progress of that collection on the mini-map. There are also red berries but there is no counter for that on the map screen. The map screen is quite useful since it tells you where in the world you are and which level it is. The only thing I miss on the map screen is a sort of zoom-in feature that you can use to have a better idea of the current area you are in. Also, it would be extremely handy that you could move the cursor freely around without being restricted to only being able to choose the warp points.

You can bring up the map screen by a simple press of the (+) button. If you use the shoulder buttons, you can use the pause menu. The menu after the map screen is the options menu. Where you can adjust the camera sensitivity, the volume if you want to invert the X-axis or the Y-axis if you want or don’t want anti-aliasing and the language. The controls are listed in this menu, but you can’t change them. In the most recent update, the developers added a lot of languages!

The 3rd and final screen in the pause screen is a total overview of your adventure where you can see how much red berries, blueberries you have and how many tears you have collected.

Now, most of the story is being told through text bubbles. There is no voice acting nor are there any “voice noises” in the game. There are sound effects, but I will talk more on that later in this review. You can easily notice when somebody has something to say because there is a text box floating above their heads. Now, you don’t have to worry to approach them from the wrong side since the text box sort of follows your character while staying on top of the character that’s speaking. The only thing is that the character itself doesn’t follow you.

Wall jumps and double jumps

WOODLETREE

If you played a platformer or the original, you will be right at home playing this game. The idea is that through platforming, you find the three tears. In this game, Woodle has few new moves in their arsenal. You have a double jump and a wall jump. You can also use your leaf to float around and to catch water droplets to water dead trees. To easily find your way around in the world, you can also use a telescope. Sadly enough, there isn’t a run button insight.

It’s not that your character is moving slow, the world is a tad bit too big. It would be extremely helpful that you had a run button or some way to make traveling faster. Thankfully the warp mechanic is really fast, so once you unlocked the waypoints, it’s easy to get there fast. It also helps you out in a pinch. Just take a look at this tweet. Yes, I got stuck inside a house I wasn’t supposed to get into. Or the moment I was able to let the character do a sort of moonwalk.

Now, the reason that I called this section, wall jumps and double jumps are because I feel like there is some sort of conflict in the code. I found it a bit difficult when I wanted to use my double jump to get onto a higher ledge because I jumped away from the wall since a wall kick was used.

This caused me a few deaths. Thankfully, there is no life system in place. After a few hits, you respawn at the checkpoint you used last. Checkpoints are also used as save points. So, whenever you need to save, you can easily warp to a checkpoint and the game automatically saves your progress. Now, the game only has one save slot, so it’s impossible that two or more people have their own playthrough at the same time.

Overall, the controls are quite responsive. While I sometimes have to fight the camera, I don’t think that the controls are that bad. They could use some polish, especially in the above-mentioned wall jump mechanic. Now, the game drops the ball in two other areas.

First of all, the visual presentation is something that needs some work. Overall the game looks fine and the animations are decent. Visually the game looks amazing for being a budget title. But, there are multiple popping issues and in some area’s I even had some major frame drops when the area was loading in. And in some areas, the place suddenly totally changed like in this video/tweet.

The character is sometimes quite jittery, especially when you are floating down. You can attack during your floating down without losing height or momentum. Textures and models pop in and out. The leaf you use sometimes just turns white, like when you are floating down… The game needs polish in the performance of the visuals.

Speaking of the visual presentation, the lighting is extremely off. Now, I can understand that when the enemies come and attack you, the scene goes dark. It is the powers of evil after all. But, for example on the beach, the lighting is so strong… the yellow that’s used for sand was sometimes quite painful to look at. Besides that, I had different lighting in a similar area without any rime or reason. I also posted that in a video on Twitter.

A final thing in the visual department I think that could have been improved is the design of some enemies. At first, I wasn’t able to tell some enemies apart from NPCs. This was a problem during the tutorial since I was attacking an NPC that looked an awful lot like an enemy from the original game.

Now, a great thing about the visual department is how your health is being displayed. The size of the leaf is basically your health. How smaller it is, how closer you are to death. Unlike the first game, you can be hit multiple times in this game. This makes the game more forgiving and more fun to play.

It’s a shame really since the game is looking quite charming and fun to play. If only these issues with the visual presentation weren’t present, then the game could have been so much better. Sadly enough, this isn’t the only major issue with the game.

Spooky silence

WOODLE TREE 3

The game itself isn’t too hard. When you get used to the controls and the mechanics of the game, you are able to find your way around quite easily. Enemies can be easily avoided and sometimes just buying an upgrade can make the game a literal walk in the park.

Now, the 2nd big issue with this game is the audio design. Don’t misunderstand me, the music and sound effects of this game are all quite well done but there isn’t enough. Some things are lacking sound effects like hitting switches or elevators. But the biggest issue is the music. The music is amazing but there are a lot of areas where the music doesn’t play and you hear silence. You only hear the sound effects of the game.

It’s a shame since each area has its own unique musical theme that really fits with the atmosphere of that area. But the area’s in between stay silent. But, sometimes the music just loops wrong as well. There are these flowers you can run into to get a speed boost. Each time you hit a flower, the musical jingle restarts. This is quite annoying in my opinion. I wish it just extended playing the jingle. And let’s not forget to mention that the animation is quite inconsistent with these speed boosts. In some areas, a roll animation starts playing and in some area’s it looks like you are gliding over the ground.

Should I be so harsh on this game? The game is fun, has a lot of love and creativity in it. The game costs 12 bucks and is quite often on sale. The developers are quite responsive and if you find a bug and report it to them, they fix it in the next patch. Even when another game has come out. Still, I see the potential that this game has and I just wish that the game was more polished.

Something that I’m quite content with this game is the fact that this game shows a lot of potential for the following games of the studio. I have been working with this studio since the first Suicide Guy game. I have seen the quality of each of their titles improve and grow. And this game impressed me quite a lot. I’m quite thankful that I got a key from them to review this game since I think that this game shows a lot of potential for the future.

Now, something that I would love to see in a sequel to this game is less technical issues and more things to do besides looking for blueberries and the tears. Expand the game and the universe. Maybe have a cross over with the Suicide Guy series, besides being it as an easter egg.

So yeah, I think I’m going to continue playing this game. The charm of this game really has won me over. I can recommend this game to other players, but keep in mind that this game has some technical issues in its current state. Maybe some future patches will improve on this, who knows.

And that’s for now, everything that I have to say on this game. 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: Pokémon Diamond, Pearl & Platinium (DS) ~ Where Is Our Remake, Nintendo?

pokemon_dppt

Bulbapedia entry

It has been quite a while since I talked about the Pokémon series. But today I noticed that I haven’t written an article on the 4th generation of Pokemon games. I think it’s high time to do something about that. Now, I want to tell the story of how I acquired this game. Just when I got my DS, I only had one game. The Legend of Zelda – Phantom Hourglass. Not too long after, my sister and I went to buy new games. She bought it together with me, Nintendogs since she was 10 € short. While I bought Pokémon Pearl. The nostalgic memories are quite extreme for this game. I played this game quite a lot, sometimes through the night while hiding my DS underneath my pillow to avoid getting caught. But, is the game still good or are my nostalgia goggles clouding my judgment? Let’s take a look at the 4th generation of Pokémon games. As per usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game.

Where is our remake Nintendo?

pokmon_pearl_image10A lot of the early generation Pokémon games got a remake from Nintendo. The first generation, Pokémon Blue/Red and Yellow, has been remade on the Nintendo GBA and more recently on the Nintendo Switch. The second generation, Pokemon Gold/Silver and Crystal, got a remake on the Nintendo DS. The third generation, Ruby/Sapphire and Emerald, got a remake on the 3DS.

Fans are hoping for a remake of the Sinnoh region on the Nintendo Switch. The fully experience the story of this 4th generation all over again. Fans want to start in Twin Leaf Town again, together with your childhood rival, meeting the evil team in the first minutes of the game. Now, this game has your usual Pokémon story. If you have played any previous Pokémon games, you will know what to expect. Fight 8 gyms, defeat an evil team, save the world from destruction, defeat the Pokémon League and become champion of the region.

There are a few twists in the story, but overall it stays very normal for a Pokémon game. While I was playing the game for the first time, I remember quite liking the story. I found the characters quite enjoyable and I enjoyed myself following the quirky cast of characters I met on my journey. While I replayed the game for this review, I still enjoyed the story but I felt that there was more that could have been done with the story. Thankfully, in the following generations, the story gets more and more flesh out.

Something I found really great was the pacing of the story. In the previous Pokémon games, the evil team stays a lot on the background during the story and nearing the finale of the game, appears almost out of nowhere. In this game, you have several encounters with them and a lot of roadblocks on your adventure are caused by them. This made Team Galactic more memorable compared to some other teams. Then again, I might be saying this out of my nostalgia goggles.

Now, does this game have a good story? In my honest opinion, sort off. If you are expecting a story with deep lore like Skyrim, you won’t find it here. The story has a lot of lore but not too in-depth. The story of this game is quite accessible. And that fits the style and theming of this game better than a lore heavy game. It makes the game a lot more accessible for all ages and it stays true to its portable nature.

Unique mechanics galore

pokmon_pearl_image11

If you have played the previous generations, the gameplay will be quite familiar to you. Find and catch Pokémon in the wild to make a team to train and battle other trainers. Now, the usual formula gets enhanced by the Nintendo DS because of the added UI elements of the second screen. The Nintendo DS spoiled me since from this generation the UI gets a lot of improvements.

Some key items like the Item Finder are now a lot easier to use thanks to the PokéTech on the touch screen. There are over 20 apps you can get for the PokéTech. Some are useful inside the game and others can be quite useful outside of the game. I remember that one time, a friend of mine forgot to bring his calculator to school and was allowed to use the calculator in the game for exercises. I used the coin toss app a lot for various situations.

Now, each generation has its own unique special mechanic. The second generation had two regions, the third has secret bases, the fifth has seasons… And this generation has the underground AND the PokéTech. Yes, two unique features. Man, the underground looks like so much fun. Sadly enough, I didn’t have a lot of friends (outside of the internet friends) I could play this mode with. I played this mode twice on the bus and it was quite a lot of fun. In the underground, the secret bases from the 3rd generation return. But there is more, there is a sort of capture the flag mode where you can earn points by raiding the flag of other players their bases. And on top of that, you can put traps in the various hallways. And on top of that, you can mine for various ores and sometimes very useful items. And yes, possible fossils to find several Pokémon. While I wasn’t able to play with the secret bases in the underground, I still spend countless hours just digging for ores and decorating my secret base.

Earlier I talked about the improvements to the UI. Thanks to the touch screen, the battling mechanics and bag management got a lot easier. When you look at the newer generations, it’s clear that these UI improvements work quite well since they got even more fleshed out in those generations. To be honest, I missed the second screen with my menu options and such while I was playing Pokémon Let’s Go.

Actually, there is a third unique mechanic in this game but it isn’t something that game-changing. It’s a nice addition that helps with the atmosphere of this game. After some time, your badges get dirty and a bit rusty. So, you can clean them by rubbing on them on the touch screen to make them sparkle again. This is a nice small addition. And yes, as a child I regularly checked my badges to make sure they were still in sparking condition.

Depending on how skilled you are in optimizing your team, this game can be easy and sometimes quite difficult. I’m the more casual type of player and I have to say that I got frustrated with one of two gym leaders. I disliked the 5th gym a lot since I had to grind quite a bit to beat that gym. And if there is one thing I dislike, that’s grinding.

This adventure will take you roughly 40 hours to complete. But, if you want to fully complete this game and see everything that there is to see, you can spend close to 260 hours in the game. While I haven’t fully completed the game 100%, I think I played this game give or take, 100 hours. Granted, over several save files since I have restarted the game two or three times.

The lakes

pokmon_pearl_image13

Visually, this game looks amazing. Sinnoh still looks great in my opinion. The game is quite colorful and lively.

In terms of the animation, this game looks quite good. I had to get used to the static Pokémon sprites again while battling, but that was a small price to pay.

And the game also nails in it in the audio department. The music for this game is amazing. It’s one of my favorite soundtracks to listen too when I’m in a Pokémon mood and the sound effects really add a lot of flavor to the game.

Running around in the world of Sinnoh is a fun experience. From a port town to the snowy tops of Snowpoint City, this region is one of my favorite regions in the series. Especially because there is so much variation in the region. It’s not themed in one giant theme like in Pokémon Sun and Moon where everything is based on Hawaii or in Pokemon X and Y where everything is themed like France.

So far, I have been praising this game quite a lot. But, are their things I didn’t like about this game. Well, yes. There are a few things I didn’t like about this game.

The first big negative of this game has to do with the fact that the Nintendo Online services have been closed down. Because of this, the online features of this game are inaccessible. Well, apart from the local features then.

Sometimes, I felt that the game was running a bit too slow. Now, I don’t mean that there were any frame drops or lag… I mean that there was a bit too much of the text boxes. Especially when certain weather effects whereinto play.

The best version to play this game is Pokémon Platinium. Apart from fixing some bugs, there is a whole long list of improvements to the game. NintendoEverthing made a very helpful list that can be found right here. And after playing Pokémon Platinium for a bit, I found that a lot of the minor nitpicks I had with the game, were fixed.

And yes, that was almost everything negative I can say about these games… And with that said, I think it’s high time for the conclusion of this article.

Conclusion

Negatives:

-Some rare moments of griding are required to beat the game.

-Nintendo Online being shut down.

-Pokémon Platinium improved the games so much that Pearl and Diamond feel inferior.

Positives:

+ Amazing audiovisual design.

+ Several unique mechanics in this game like the underground and the PokéTech.

+ Fun story.

+ …

Final thoughts:

To be honest, I had a really hard time finding negatives for this game. Maybe it’s possible that I have too many nostalgic thoughts about this game or maybe it’s just that good. In terms of Nintendo DS games, this is one of the best Nintendo DS games I have ever played.

There is a reason why so many players want to see this game remade on the Nintendo Switch. They want to bring this game back to the masses so that a whole new generation can experience the amazing journey through Sinnoh again.

I highly recommend that you give this game a try if you enjoy Pokémon games and/or RPG’s. The main game can be easy for hardcore RPG fans but the post-game and the side quests will give you a lot of challenges.

While this game has a few minor flaws, I find them not hindering my experience at all. Compared to the generations after this generation, this game can feel a bit lacking. For example, you don’t need to hold a button down to run and the menu is always accessible on the touch screen… But, then again, there are moments I really miss the PokéTech and the underground mechanics from this game.

And with that, I think it’s time to wrap up this article. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in a future article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Score: 100/100

Review: Adera (PC) ~ Let’s Rescue Grandfather!

AderaSteam store page – Microsoft Store

During a spring cleaning, my mom found her old Windows Surface RT tablet back. She didn’t need it anymore but I saw some use in it. After I reset the tablet to its factory settings, I set the whole thing up. It would be a tablet I used to start writing articles while I was on the go and also to take notes during gameplay. I have an Asus Zenpad 8.0 S for that as well, but this tablet was bigger and had Word built-in. Now, this tablet can also play games. And that’s a second reason why I saw a use for this tablet. And a 3rd reason is that I just enjoy toying around with old hardware and tech. Now, one of the first games I started playing on this tablet was Adera. I recently finished this game and today I want to talk about it. Let’s go and have that adventure in the Adera. 

Let’s rescue Grandfather!

Adera - 1In this adventure hidden object game, you take on the role of Jane. Jane’s grandfather got himself into trouble and sent a distress letter to Jane. When Jane goes to try and find him together with her partner Hawk, their helicopter crashes in the middle of a desert. It’s there that Jane’s adventure starts. Together with the mysterious orb that she received from the package of her grandfather.

The story of this game is decent. The writing is well done and the pacing as well, but if you have played fantasy adventure games, the story won’t bring a lot new to the table. Now, I did still enjoy the story in this game. My biggest complaint is that it could have been so much more. The world and the setting have so much more potential to be explored.

Now, if you decide to play this game, I highly recommend that you play this game with the original voice acting. The English voice acting is quite well done in my opinion. But, most likely because of the region settings of my Microsoft Account, when I play this game on my desktop instead of my Surface, the voice acting is in Dutch. Now, I have nothing against the Dutch voice actors in this game but after I had experienced the English voices, I found the English voice over a lot better.

The following issue with the game is most likely because of the aging Windows RT hardware, but I had moments where the game’s text was sometimes in English and sometimes in Dutch. But, when the menu appeared in Dutch, some text was repeated several times. Take a look at this screenshot for example:

Adera-4.png

At the bottom left, it says “Rate Adera!Rate Adera!Rate Adera!”. And there are a few other sections in the game that have the same issue. So, to avoid visual messes like that, I highly recommend that if you are interested in this game, that you buy it on Steam. You won’t have the issue where the game tries to display in another language and you have the best voice overwork. I even bought the Steam version of this game for this review to do some further research.

But this review will mostly focus on the Windows Store version because that’s the one I played and finished. Now, something I can’t hold against the game was the fact that I played it on aging hardware. I played this game on the Windows Surface RT running Windows 8.1. Due to a bug in one of the updates, the Windows Store doesn’t work, so I had to reset the tablet multiple times. Each time, I had to download each and every episode. Now, the downloading and installing of these episodes took a long time. Maybe because the WiFi card and the hard disk inside the tablet are quite slow.

Thankfully, this game has an autosave in the cloud when you connect this game with your XBOX account. So, even when I had to reset my tablet to factory settings, download and install the game and the episodes all over again, I didn’t lose any progress. This is quite surprising to me and a very nice feature.

Now, I want to talk about something but I’m going to spoil something of the ending. If you are alright with that or if you have finished the game, feel free to highlight the following part. Otherwise, just scroll a bit down so you can skip the spoiler. So, here comes the spoiler: Something that really annoys me is the fact that there is a “season 1”. This implies that the game is going to get a season 2 or even 3. Because of the cliffhanger at the end and multiple unanswered questions, the game feels incomplete. Now, the game is released in 2015 and the social media accounts have gone silent. So, I don’t think we will ever know what happened to grandfather after he got kidnapped… again. Now, the game got a re-release on Steam in 2018, so there is hope that we get a continuation of the story in the future… Who knows.

Windows Surface RT

Adera - 2Now yes, I might have played this game on aging hardware, but I actually enjoyed the fact that I was able to make use of the unique feature of this game. I think this feature is also in the Android and iOS versions of the game but the fact that the game supports touch controls is just amazing. Also, the fact that there are gyro controls for this game is amazing. When I moved the tablet around, the in-game camera moved around as well. It was almost like I was controlling where Jane was looking by physically moving the tablet. The Steam version does not support this. Well, I might support it, but I don’t have a laptop has supported this kind of feature.

Anyways, because this game focuses on touch controls, the controls are a bit awkward when you decide to play this game with a mouse. Because you either swipe or physically move your device to look around in several areas in order to find items and solve puzzles. That’s something that isn’t easily done with a mouse. Now, you can simulate a swipe with the mouse, but it feels different. Yet, I was able to get used to it while playing around with the Steam version after a while.

Now, let’s focus on the gameplay of Adera for a moment. If you have ever played those adventure games with hidden object scenes, you will feel right at home in this game. There are a few types of puzzles in this game. The first type of puzzle is hidden-object puzzles. In these puzzles, you are tasked with finding a handful of items in the picture. There is a punishment when you spam click on the picture. The screen will “break” and you are unable to click for a certain amount of time.

The second type of puzzles has to do with the mysterious orb that Jane received from her grandfather. This orb can do some strange things but in order for it to do that, you have to solve different puzzles. Speaking of the orb puzzles, there was one style of puzzles I truly hated with a passion. There is a puzzle where you have to tap the symbols at the correct time. When you tapped them at the correct time, you were able to progress one space in the puzzle. But, if you tapped them too early or too late, that means one space back for you. Thankfully, you are able to skip these puzzles. This means that I’m unable to complete some achievements, but rather that then being frustrated at a puzzle. Now, why did I hate this puzzle? Because for this puzzle you need to have a certain sense of rhythm and that’s something I don’t really have. The puzzle itself works just fine.

The third type of puzzle in this game is the fact that there are a lot and I really mean, a lot of hidden items in the game. There are close to 180 optional items hidden all over the game.  From masks, pieces of clothing, coins, artifacts, butterflies to special items. There are even more items to collect. You can always see the items you have collected in the collection section of the main menu. These are separated in different sections giving you a hint in which episode you missed an object. And these items are truly hidden. After I had finished the game, I only found a bit over 80% of all the items. And I thought I was very good at finding these objects. To be honest, this is an interesting way to add a little bit of replay value to this really linear game.

The fourth and final type of puzzle is the fact that certain obstacles block your way. In order to progress you will have to find items. Some of these items are hidden in the hidden object puzzles and some can be found by exploring the area. The best way to compare these puzzles is with the gameplay of games like Broken Sword.

The game might be more on the casual side of things, but that doesn’t take away that the game is rather enjoyable. I really liked exploring the areas the game threw me in and finding the items to solve the puzzles. All the while I was looking around for hidden collectibles. I have played a lot of hidden object adventure games and this game is one of the better I have played. The fact that there are additional things to do like the hidden collectibles and the various achievements you can get is refreshing and great fun.

Something I really liked about the Windows Store version is the fact that I bought the collectors edition of this game. In this collectors edition of the game, there are various wallpapers and pieces of concept art. The whole soundtrack of the game is also included for your listing pleasure. In addition to that, there is a very short but quite humorous gag reel. There is also an ad for the eBook variant of the game.

These bonus additions are nowhere to be found in the Steam version. In addition to that, something that I found quite helpful was the fact that I was able to zoom in during the hidden-object puzzles. There is no way to do that in the Steam version.

Now, something that the Steam game does better is the fact that the game is really full screen. This is only an issue when you play this game on a Windows 10 computer or laptop instead of on a Microsoft tablet. If you play the game on a computer, blue bars will fill the top and bottom of the screen like in the screenshot here:

Adera 4.png

This is a shame since there is so much unused space and the game can run in full screen since this is something that the Steam version shows.

So close, yet so far

Adera - 3

It always pains me when I have to write in a review that a game is so close to being a good game. Adera has a ton of amazing elements but it also makes a few mistakes.

Now, this game will take you roughly 7 hours to finish. It’ll take you a few more hours in order for you to complete it. Yes, this game is somewhat short but when you compare it to other games in this genre, this game is actually rather lengthy. It also has replay value and for the price of 10€, you can’t complain in my opinion.

This game isn’t for everybody. When you dislike puzzle games or casual games, I don’t think you will enjoy this game. Which is a darn shame, since you will miss out on the lush environments and the amazing artwork. This game looks amazing. The animation is also pretty well done. You can skip most cutscenes, but you will miss out on the plot and the great animation. Now, the only thing that could have been improved as there was a bit more animation on the characters during gameplay. The characters are quite static outside of cutscenes.

The controls of this game do something unique. Usually, when you click or tap just above the middle of the inventory bar, you go to the previous location. This isn’t the case in this game. Because this game has a back arrow. This has its advantages. For example, now I don’t return to my previous location when I tap a bit too high by accident. But, this arrow works a bit inconsistent. In some cases, you are able to move to that location without the aid of that arrow and in some cases, you can only go to that location with the down arrow. It’s tricky to explain by text, but it will make more sense once you play the game. While I got used to the mechanic after an episode, it was annoying that the down arrow to move backwards wasn’t consistently used for the same thing and in the same way.

In terms of the UI of this game, it took me a while to get used to the Windows Apps interface style. Because I rarely used Windows 8(.1), I wasn’t used to the fact that you had to do certain swiping actions to bring up the menu system. This is something that the Steam version does a lot better. It was also confusing that the settings of the game were somewhat outside of the menu system of the game.

Now, in terms of the UI. Something I really disliked was when I replayed parts of the game on my PC to write this review, I noticed that the swiping doesn’t work in the menus. I had to use my scroll wheel. Another annoying “feature” of this game is that when you go to any menu during gameplay; to for example the collection menu, the back button in the menu system brings you back to the main menu. It would have been so much easier if this back button brought you back to the game to continue your playthrough.

While the game saves automatically and quite frequently, I found the load feature a bit lacking. Now, it works perfectly but when you continue an episode, you don’t know where your save file is at. When you finish an episode, the game saves right before the cutscene that plays as the cliffhanger for the next episode. Now, the thing is, the game uses cloud saves when you sign in with your XBOX account. So, when I clicked continue on the first episode on my PC, the end cut scene of the first episode started playing. It would be lovely if the load feature told you where the game saved. In addition to that, when you click on the “play now” buttons in the main menu with the episodes, the game directly loads your save file. So, if you want to start from the beginning because you think you skipped some collectibles, you need to go to the “episode” section of the main menu and start it from there.

It’s a shame really, the UI could be so much better. There are just bad design decisions. Thankfully, most of them are fixed in the Steam version where you don’t have the Microsoft App UI on top of the game. But, that version misses quite a lot of features of the collector’s edition.

Something I haven’t mentioned or talked about is the music and sound design. The soundtrack of this game is quite well done. The only complaint I have is that some tracks are a bit too short and because they are played quite often, the loop started to annoy me in some puzzles. Yet, the soundtrack is one that I’m going to add to my music library so I can listen to it while I’m writing or relaxing. It’s that good. It’s a relaxing but mysterious soundtrack that’s fully orchestrated. Together with amazing sound effects and sound design, this game really shines in its audiovisual presentation. Now, one nitpick is that I feel that the music for the main menu is a bit too quiet, a bit too mysterious. Sometimes I felt there wasn’t any music in the main menu.

Now, is this game difficult? Not really, this game can be extremely easy and quite challenging depending on the difficulty setting you to pick. There are three settings. Depending on how difficult you make the game, the more supporting features are disabled. On the “EASY” setting, active hidden object or puzzle locations are revealed with sparkles and the hint and skip buttons recharge quite quickly. On the “NORMAL” difficulty setting, the sparkles appear less frequently and the hint and skip buttons recharge slower. And finally, on the highest difficulty, also known as “EXPERT”, no sparkles and the hint and skip buttons are disabled. You can change the difficulty setting at any time while you are playing an episode.

Speaking about the hint button, I really liked the way this game gives you hints. When you click on the hint button the first time, you get a clue to what is the next step you could take. There is an additional button on the hint pop-up and if you click on that button, you get the exact solution you are looking for.

During this review, I have talked about various things that this game does better compared to other hidden object adventure games like for example the length, the back button, and the replay value. But, there is one thing that this game doesn’t have compared to newer games that would have been a great addition in this title. The custom difficulty setting. With these settings, you can adjust which supporting options you want to enable and disable or how long you want to the hint and/or skip buttons to recharge for. But, this might have been too tricky to program with the ability to change the difficulty settings on the fly. The other thing that this game doesn’t have is a map screen. Usually, in these map screens, you can see the locations you have visited and where actions can be done. This would have been helpful with some of the longer episodes.

With that said, I think it’s high time to close off this review. It’s time for the closing thoughts on this game!

Conclusion

Note: While I talked a lot in this review about the Steam version of this game. The conclusion applies to the Windows App Store version of the game that I played on the Windows Surface RT tablet.

The bad: 

  • The UI could use some more polish.
  • The Dutch translation has some text bugs.
  • There was no way to choose the language of the game.

The good:

+ Amazing audiovisual presentation.

+ Replay value in a hidden object game!

+ The collector’s edition has a lot of amazing bonus content.

+ Amazing artwork.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Man, this has been a tricky game to review. I have played parts of the Steam version and the Windows App store version. I’m certain that the versions for Android and iOS have some differences but will most likely play similar to the Windows Surface RT version.

While the Steam version has a better UI, it lacks all the additional neat features of the collector’s edition that can be found on the Microsoft Store. But, the version of the Microsoft Store has a lacking UI.

Now, this game isn’t perfect and isn’t for everybody. But what it does, it does very well. I highly recommend this game to fans of the hidden object genre or fans of the point-and-click genre. This game is quite underrated and should deserve more recognition. It was the first game I started playing on the Windows Surface RT and it was the first game I had beaten. Sometimes I replay a bit of the game in the hope I find the collectibles I missed.

The game gives you the impression that there are going to be more seasons, that the story of Adera will continue. With the game getting a Steam port last year, I have hopes that we will see another season in the (near) future. But, I highly doubt it will happen since there is no mention of seasons in the Steam version. Then again, it could be possible that the second season will start with episode 6 or something.

So, if you want to give this game a chance and you don’t mind a bit of messy menu UI, I highly recommend the Windows Store version. If you want a better menu UI, play the Steam version but know that you will miss out on the collector’s edition content.

Personally, I really enjoyed playing this game and I’m happy that I discovered it. Now, I’m quite curious to see if somebody who reads this article is going to pick up this game. If you do, please let me know in the comments which version you bought and what you thought of it.

And with that said, I said everything I wanted to say about this game. 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 the next article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 70/100

Review: Atelier Rorona -The Alchemist of Arland- DX (Switch) ~ Crafting The Adventure With Alchemy.

atelier-rorona-featureWikipedia page

On my top 10 games list of 2018, I talked about Atelier Rorona. I talked about how this game got me interested in playing the Atelier series. Now, it’s time to give my full opinion on the game. Why did I place this game on my top ten list and why wasn’t it higher on the list? I think it’s time to talk about crafting and exploring. Adventuring and RPG’ing. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Get off your lazy bum

atelier rorona screen 1The story of this game has a simple premise. You play as Rorona, a young girl who is an apprentice at a local alchemy shop in the Arland Kingdom. Her master Astrid is so lazy that business isn’t going well at all. As a matter of fact, she didn’t get off her lazy bum for so long, the kingdom is considering to close down the shop. Rorona doesn’t want this to happen so she takes on the challenges provided by the kingdom. She gets a deadline of three years. During these three years, she has to prove that she can run the alchemy shop and make a profit. If she fails one of these challenges, the shop will be closed without any further questions.

On the surface, the story of this game isn’t anything special. It’s one that has been done various times before. Yet, the story actually changes a lot in your actions. It depends on who you take with you on your journey, how good you craft your items, how you interact with the characters and how you run your alchemy shop. The one that lazy Astrid sort of gave to you because she wanted more sleep but didn’t want the shop to be closed.

This makes the story quite a lot of fun to play through. Because each and every playthrough is going to be different, you will have a different story. This game has various endings that all depend on how good you did during your missions provided by the kingdom. When I had beaten the game for the first time, I got a very generic ending that didn’t give the closure I felt that the story deserved. Because of that, I feel motivated to replay this game with so I can get an even better ending.

The writing of this game makes replaying this game even more enjoyable. While I was playing this game, I posted a short clip on my Twitter showing off the voice acting. The game has a lot of funny and charming moments. I actually fell in love with the characters of this game. Now, depending on how good you play this game, the characters you interact with getting more character development.

Now, during my playthrough, the story was quite enjoyable. While it didn’t have a lot of moments where I sat on the edge of my seat, it was quite relaxing. Maybe the other endings have more thrilling moments, but overall I enjoyed the story quite a lot. The writing, the pacing, and the voice acting make for an enjoyable experience. I can’t wait to see how the game plays out on my next playthrough.

With that said, how do you actually go about saving the shop? For that, Rorona needs to gather ingredients from various locations and craft various items. Depending on the quality of the items, you get better items. Now, I do have one thing I felt mixed about in terms of the gameplay.

Running that shop

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Yes, this is a screenshot from the PS3 version, but the Switch version looks the same apart from the different buttons.

While the story pacing is quite good, the pacing of the game is … let’s just say, strange. Because the game gives off a relaxing and casual vibe, the game can feel extremely slow. But this is very misleading. Because you have a strict time limit; you shouldn’t waste time at all. You have to play every move extremely carefully. The more mistakes you make, the worse your ending gets. The depth in this game is crazy. You do get an assistant at the middle point of the game. This mechanic saved me various times. You can assign this assistant to go and explore for you or craft items for you.

Be warned, the tutorials of this game only scratch the surface of the mechanics of this game. Something I recommend is that you use the save system to your advantage. I had various saves at various points. So, I can go back when I felt I was able to finish the missions with better results.

Talking about the save system, the fact that this game got ported from a PlayStation system really shows in the UI. If you have played a game on a PlayStation you will recognize the typical save and load UI easily. The only thing that annoys me is that I’m unable to name my saves. This would have helped quite a lot.

So, you have to explore, fight monster and craft items. This sounds like your typical RPG fare. You do have side quests that can help you to get a better relationship with a certain character. Some of these side quests have the potential to improve the reputation of the shop which also has a big influence on the ending of the story.

All in all, the biggest challenge of this game is time management. Use your time wisely and try to waste as few days as you can. I always tried to finish the assignment of the kingdom as fast as I could. When I finished that, I used the remaining days to explore new areas and improve my relationship with the other characters.

The gameplay immersed me quite a lot. I really felt like a shop owner trying to find the best strategy to get my shop up and running and to try to get as many customers as I can. While the game isn’t too difficult to get the most basic ending, the challenge for this game hides in trying to get the best endings.

A normal playthrough of this game will take you somewhere around 20 hours. But, if you want to see all the endings, you will get a lot more out of this game. On howlongtobeat.com, there are reports of players taking 60 to 100 hours to fully complete this game. Now, this is for the PlayStation 3 version. At the time of writing this review, the website has no listing for the Nintendo Switch version.

Now, the meat of this game is in exploration and crafting. First of all, let’s go a bit more in-depth about the exploration. During your exploration, you can take two allies with you. Certain allies require a certain price to hire. This price needs to be paid upfront. So, make sure you have enough gold in the bank to hire them.

During the exploration, you can go to various locations. Each location has several areas you can explore that provide different items. These items aren’t randomized, so if you find herbs in a certain area, you will be able to find those herbs every time there.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have an inventory limit. If you reach that limit, you have to throw out items. Also, you need to keep in mind that certain items can lose their freshness. For example, if you collect berries and don’t put them in your storage in the chest in the shop, the quality will drop.

During your exploration, you can see certain spots where items can be gathered. In the meantime, you see the enemies roaming around. When you interact with them, you can start a fight with them. The battles are turn-based. It’s the system you see in a million other RPG’s. But there are a few differences.

One difference is that only an alchemist can use items. So, only Rorona can use healing items during the battle. Another difference is that you can use certain characters to defend you and make combo attacks. In each battle, a meter builds up. When that meter is full, you can use the shoulder buttons to defend Rorona. A similar mechanic counts for the combo attacks.

One thing you need to keep in mind during the exploration is that moving between locations and areas takes valuable time. So, make sure you know which items you need and where you can find them and plan accordingly. Otherwise, you might get into trouble and you aren’t able to craft certain items.

In addition to that, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of MP. MP is also used to craft items. And this brings me on the second part of the gameplay I want to focus on, the crafting. This is something I didn’t always pay attention too. Each item can have certain properties that make a huge difference during crafting. Each item has also a quality level that changes the outcome quite a lot as well.

Something I found extremely tricky was looking for high-quality items. For some reason, I always found a mid tear or low tier quality items. I’m quite sure that this was one of the reasons that resulted in me having a mediocre ending. Now that I know that, I know what I should look for in a second playthrough.

Anyways, the crafting system itself is a bit basic. You can select various ingredients to craft an item. If you don’t have a certain sub ingredient that is craftable, you get forwarded to the crafting menu of that item. One thing that I found really annoying was that it wasn’t always clear which ingredients were missing. For example, the icon of the missing ingredient was a flame. But I had a few ores that looked extremely similar. Yet that wasn’t the ingredient I needed. It turns out I needed oil.

Something I really liked was that in the crafting list, you were able to sort ingredients in terms of quality or rarity. Also, you had various symbols that gave information if you were or weren’t able to craft a certain item. For example, a triangle means that you are able to craft the item but you have to craft a sub-item first.

One thing that I would like to mention is that this game can be repetitive. It’s quite easy to fall in a loop for every assignment or mission. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. Explore, craft, rest. And repeat. Each assignment has a different theme like preparing for a festival or helping to craft medicine.

I didn’t mind too much, but I feel that a bit more variation in the gameplay would do the game some good. For example, a bit more assignments where you needed to defeat a certain number of monsters or collect a certain amount of ingredients would do the trick.

Arland is saved

atelier-rorona-the-alchemist-of-arland-dx-screenshot-03-ps4-us-04dec2018Let’s talk about the visuals. This game looks quite nice in my opinion. While the game could have benefited from a free camera, I actually didn’t mind too much since the camera allowed me to watch the nice city and fun dungeons in great detail. Some enemies suffer from the recolor syndrome, like the slime enemies. There are at least 3 variants and only the color has been changed. I wish those games added a few extra details. Oh well. At least I never had slowdowns during gameplay and I was able to play the game at a decent frame rate.

In terms of animation, this game is good. While the cut scenes would have benefited from some more character animation instead of gorgeous looking 2D artwork. Now, if the game came out in a previous generation, I would excuse this…. oh, wait… that’s right, this game is a port of a PS3 game. Then again, the PS3 is capable of so much more. Oh well.

Now, something that bugged me a bit is the rather awkward jumping animation. I think it’s missing a few frames near the end where Rorona’s feet almost snap into place. It also looks strange when you adjust your jump in midair. Since Rorona sort of floats awkwardly. It’s hard to put into words but while the jump works great, it feels off and looks a bit off.

Jumping in itself is easy to do and control. You just press the jump button and voila. I don’t have any complaints about the controls. I really like how there is a dedicated button to cycle through Rorona’s animations. The game controls great and I didn’t have the need to spend time getting used to them. The UI explains it so well, I got the hang of it right away. One minor nitpick is that the prompt for running is a tad confusing. When the UI shows a button for “running ON” and you press that button, Rorona actually starts walking. So, that prompt in the UI actually shows the status if you are running or not.

Now, the UI has some amazing things I really liked. Like how easy it is to sort items or the great and easy to use crafting system. But I have a few complaints. First of all, I wish I was able to see which ingredients were at a certain location before I actually traveled there. I would have been able to save so many days…

Secondly, while I totally understand why the developers did this; I wish I was able to see how many days it would take to go to a newly discovered gathering area. The reason why they don’t tell you this is most likely for immersion reasons.

And my final and third complaint is when you buy armor, you can’t see if it would increase somebody’s stats or not. This was quite annoying, especially when the armor shop rarely has new items because the game really wants that you craft it yourself.

The music and sound effects for this game are good. The soundtrack really fits the mood of the story quite well. It’s relaxing and rather melodic. It helps to get immersed in the game. I even added the soundtrack to my playlist for when I want to relax. Now, the sound effects are great but I wish there were a bit more of them. For the whole crafting system, the use the same effects and I would love some different ones for food or bombs. Also, one for days passing, while the clock ticked over, would be the cherry on the cake.

Oh, and here is something nice, you can totally change the whole soundtrack. Yes, while interacting with the book in the atelier, you can change each and every track to another track. You can choose between a pretty long list of other games in the series. Now, this is an amazing feature but it could have used some additional features. Like a reset to default option and one where you easily see which song you have selected since in that menu there is a lot of unused screen space. And the biggest missing feature is, in my opinion, a preview of what song is currently playing. Oh dear, they were so close.

In that same menu, you can access the different costumes for Rorona. As far as I know, these are only cosmetic. You can do save file management and decorate the atelier to a certain degree. You can also access the options menu where you can adjust the sound mix to your liking. Here, you can also change the language of the voice acting to Japanese or English. So, if you want Rorona to greet you in Japanese on the main menu, you can do that.

After you have finished the game, there is a post-game chapter. I won’t spoil what the chapter is about but it adds some additional story. But after this post-game, there is no free-roaming. So, you can’t experiment with the game… This is a real missed opportunity since I would have loved to try and experiment with the game to learn and have a better run next time. Yet, on the other hand, I totally understand why they did this. Because the game has so many different endings in which different characters aren’t present, it would have been a hell to program.

Interestingly, during my writing this review and posting it; the game got a small update. I have no clue what has been added, but I wanted to mention it, just in case something in my review doesn’t make sense anymore.

With that said, I have said almost everything I wanted to say about this game. I did leave some things out for you as a surprise if you decide to play this game. But, it’s time for the conclusion of this review and my final thoughts.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • The jump animation looks awkward.
  • The game can be repetitive.
  • There is no free play in the post content.

The good:

+ Enjoyable story, writing and voice acting.

+ Amazing charm.

+ Great UI.

+ High replay value due to the different endings.

+ Relaxing soundtrack and you can change it to your liking!

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I don’t know exactly how this game compares to other games in the Atelier series. Since this game is the first game in the series I have played. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my time with this game quite a lot. The game is on the surface of a relaxing game with a lot of charm. But, don’t get fooled, this game can become quite hectic in a good way.

The game is quite enjoyable to play but difficult to master. You really need to plan every single move to make sure to you get yourself in a difficult situation.

This game is perfect for everybody who is looking for an RPG with a crafting system or somebody who is looking for a shop simulator. While I can totally understand why some people won’t enjoy this game too much, it did click with me.

But the game is far from perfect. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite good but it has some flaws that hinder the gameplay in my opinion. Like the strict deadlines and the repetitive nature of the game.

Personally, I recommend that you give this game a try. If only there was a demo of this game you could try out and judge for yourself if this game is for you are not. I bought this game because the screenshots and descriptions looked interesting on the Nintendo eShop and I wasn’t disappointed.

Now, I can’t wait to play the other games in this trilogy to see if they improved the mechanics in the other games. Maybe they crafted an even better adventure while they kept everything that worked quite well in this game.

Do keep in mind that I’m not saying that this is a bad game. It’s a good game with some flaws. It’s up to you to decide if these flaws would hinder your enjoyment of the game or not. Since this game has a lot of depth so you will be able to have a lot of fun with this game.

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

Score: 70/100

Review: Dragon Quest Builders (Switch) ~ A Building Quest

dragon-quest-builders-07-20-16-2-724x1024.jpg

Wikipedia entry

How would I explain Dragon Quest Builders? Should I say that it’s a Minecraft clone with quests? A more interactive version of Minecraft Story Mode? Or should I say it’s a Dragon Quest game with elements of Minecraft? In any case, I mentioned this game in my “10 games I’m looking forward to playing in 2018.” article last year. Now that I have finally beaten this game, I want to talk about it, give my honest opinion on it. I played this game on the Nintendo Switch and let’s take a look at why I looked forward to Dragon Quest Builders and if it held up my expectations. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion and/or thoughts on the game and/or the content of this article.

 A Building Quest

DragonQuestBuilders2

The story of this game takes place after Dragon Quest I. Yes, the NES original game. The world of Alefgard. But this time, the hero of Dragon Quest I actually accepted the evil DragonLord’s suggestion of ruling beside him. So, the world falls into chaos and darkness.

You are woken up by the Goddess to help rebuild the land and only the land. The Goddess reminds you frequently that it’s not your job to defeat the evil Dragonlord. Now, will this legendary builder be able to rebuild this land and fill his role or will this builder want to do more?

The writing in this game is amazing. It’s so full of character, charm, and humor. There is a lot of text in this game and there is no voice acting. This could be a problem for some, but not to me. Something I really love is that each world you help to rebuild has a different theme and different style of writing. The story itself might be generic and you might be able to predict the ending, but the presentation and how it’s delivered excuses that negative in my eyes. I got attached to some characters and when I had to move to the next world to save, I almost didn’t want too. I didn’t want to leave the people I just got to know and build this city with.

The more you read the story, the more the world gets fleshed out. You learn a lot of details about every character you meet. Your goal is to rebuild the land, and you do this with the Banner of Hope. You place this banner at the ruins of a city destroyed by the evil Dragonlord. The light that’s produced by the Banner of Hope attracts people and they will arrive to help you out in rebuilding the city.

Now, there is one catch. You are called the Legendary Builder for a reason. One of the reasons is that you aren’t the Legendary Hero that is going to take down the evil Dragonlord. The other reason is that you are the only one who remembers to create things.

So, when you are exploring the world and find new objects, you sometimes get a recipe or remember how to build a certain object. Sometimes you get blueprints for your town residents to build a certain room for them. This is one of the building quests you have to do to progress in the story.

There is some sort of replay value in this game as well. As a test, I replayed the first chapter twice from start to finish. While I finished the world quicker the second time, my city looked completely different. So, I had a different fun experience.

Where to next?

DragonQuestBuilders3

Now, to progress into the story, you take on quests of your villagers. There are two types of symbols. One has a quest and the other is a symbol that enemies are going to attack your city. I’ll talk more about the combat later.

So, when you take on a quest, you have to rescue somebody out from the wilderness, defeat some monsters or create a certain room or object. If you have to go outside the city, a quest marker will be placed on your map.

The map system is something I truly liked in this game. You never have an overall map of the world you are in. You can only have an overhead view of your area. There is always a white flag and an arrow showing you the direction of your town. While each area you can visit is big, I never got lost.

Yes, each area. When you beat certain waves of monsters attacking your city, you might be rewarded with a portal. This portal brings you to another area. Something I really like is that the world is interconnected. If you go to the edge of the world, you might be able to see the next area. There is an invisible barrier, a strange force, that’s stopping you to build a bridge over the ocean to sequence break. (For those who don’t know what that sequence breaking means, it means doing things out of order. Breaking the intended sequence of events.)

If you visit an area where your town isn’t located, you are able to pick up a Navi-globe. When you place this object, you get another marker on your map. So, what I did is placing this marker at the portal back home or at the location of a sidequest. In total, each world has three globes you can move to whatever location you want.

So, you can explore the large worlds at your leisure. Trying to find all the side quests and collecting as many resources as you can. I loved running around in the world since the visual presentation of this game is amazing. My favorite world was the final 4th one. I loved the conclusion of this game.

Visually, this game looks and feels like a real Dragon Quest game. While I was playing this game I often had memories of playing Dragon Quest on my PS2, DS, and 3DS in the past. There are a lot of easter eggs in this game to the earlier games. The animations of this game added quite a lot of the visual presentation. I didn’t find anything that felt out of place. The only “creepy” thing is that when you are talking to somebody, other characters could move. And villagers almost always turn their heads in your direction when they are close to you.

I felt at home while playing this game. This might have to do with my love of Minecraft, but also with it playing on my nostalgic love for gaming. The best example is the soundtrack. The soundtrack of this game has no real original tunes in it. The soundtrack of this game is completely orchestrated and it is all tunes you heard before in the Dragon Quest universe. It’s like a “best of” album. Oh, and there is a music easter egg in the game for you will enjoy if you like retro gaming or the old school Dragon Quest games.

While this game has no voice acting, the sound effects in this game are good. Most of them I have heard in previous Dragon Quest games, so nothing new there. but they work pretty well. The only voice acting I have heard in this game is the sleeping, damage, and death sounds of the main characters. Which are pretty great.

Now, exploring the worlds are pretty fun. The controls of the game are a joy to work when you get used to them. And I got used to them pretty quickly. The only annoying thing is that the camera can be annoying sometimes.

I had to struggle with the camera here and there. Especially when you are in small rooms or areas. I had such infrequent issues with it, it didn’t bother me too much. But, I heard from other reviewers that it caused problems when you wanted to create a very detailed city. Since I’m not really a builder but more of a resource gathering and explorer, I didn’t experience that much camera-issues.

Speaking about camera-issues, I think I should mention this. This game runs on a quite stable 30FPS on the Switch. While I didn’t have an issue with that, I think this might be an issue for some people. So I wanted to mention it.

Just press the button

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My biggest issue with this game is elsewhere. I had a problem with the combat. The combat in this game is pretty stale. You are only able to create short-ranged weapons. The situations where you can create a long-range weapon are pretty rare. The biggest issue with the combat is just what the subtitle said, it’s just pressing the button. There aren’t a lot of enemies that require a different strategy than to run at them, hit the attack button until they are dead. Sometimes you had to back up and use a healing item, but really, there isn’t any more strategy than that.

It gets even worse when your villagers are helping you in fighting enemies. I had times where I wasn’t able to see my own character. Thankfully, you are able to create your own character and playing around with the colors to make it stand out more helps a lot.

Thankfully, combat isn’t the main focus in this game. There was a mission in the 2nd world that got pretty difficult but it really helped me to understand the flow of the combat in this game. And after trying that wave 5 times, combat just clicked for me. I got the flow of combat and I never got any major issues with the enemies in this game.

That’s why I haven’t seen the game over screen too much. When you die during exploring the world, you lose a part of your inventory. Just like in Minecraft, your items drop at the location you died. Unlike Minecraft, items never despawn.

If you die during a combat mission where you are defending your city, you can restart the fight or go back to a save. Speaking about saves, you can only save using the Banner of Hope. You have five save slots per world. I highly recommend that you save often since this game doesn’t autosave.

Whenever I saw the symbol that enemies were going to attack my city, I saved. Sometimes after a couple of quests, I saved. Now, here is a fair warning for the gamers who like to build and decorate your city who want to play this game, use the save system to your advantage. Since some enemies can destroy buildings. I admit to restarting some battles because too much of my city was destroyed. Thankfully, you don’t have to go look for new materials, since everything dropped on the floor, but I wanted to avoid the damage. So, it’s a good idea to defeat those enemies first. When you learn the patterns of the enemies, you won’t have such a hard time.

Speaking about that, this game isn’t too difficult. If you keep an eye out on your supplies during combat and learn what makes each enemy tick, you won’t have too many problems with this game. The game does provide you with various challenges but I rarely had trouble. A great tip I can give you is, that whenever you are using a healing item; stay out of range of your enemy. Since an attack cancels out the healing or when you are using the chimera wing: the teleporting. Oh, and these wings also teleport the people who just are traveling with you.

If you always craft the strongest armor and weapons, you won’t have any issues. The weapons I loved the most in this game are the hammers. It didn’t only help in building, but it was really strong. So, if you want to make this game more difficult on yourself, just explore with weaker gear.

In addition to that, each world has a different challenge. In one world you won’t find a lot of food and in another, the enemies provide a big threat. The learning curve of this game is perfect. You learn a different skill in each world and everything comes together in the final world. The final boss tests everything you learned until that point.

Speaking about the boss battles, they are pretty good. There wasn’t any boss battle I didn’t enjoy or that I wanted to see changed. The weakest is the 2nd boss since I felt it didn’t have enough connection with the theme of that world.

One feature I really like in this game is the Big Colossal Coffer. This chest works like an ender chest in Minecraft. Sort-of. When you place it down, your inventory space gets a lot bigger. but here is the amazing thing. You can take out and put things where ever you are in the world. I have to admit that this mechanic helped me a lot.

Now, I have mostly been praising this game. Is there anything negative I can say about this game? The game does a lot well, each world has 5 additional side quests. These side quests are only revealed when you finish the world.

So, what is something negative I can say about this game? I could nitpick about the crafting system could use a feature where you choose how many times you want to create an item. It’s one or all. Yet, I think the crafting system has an amazing feature where you don’t need to have the items in your inventory to craft the items. If they are in a chest or your coffer in your city, you can use it to craft items. So, you don’t have to look through every chest when you want to craft something.

Another thing is that I was unable to create a certain block in the final world to finish the roof of my castle. While I was researching if there was a recipe for this block, I learned it was one of the blocks that your villagers could create. Mine didn’t, sadly enough. Yet, the fact that villagers create items for you is extremely helpful. Especially when you build them a place to create food. Something that would be lovely is that you were able to assign tasks to your villagers, so who does what… but then again, you don’t lose any items while they craft for you.

Earlier I said that this game has only 4 worlds. You might say that the game is short. And yes, the story of this game was over too quickly in my opinion. Yet, when you do all the side quests and you want to completely explore the world, you can spend a lot more time with this game. And let’s not forget the free-roaming mode where you can even share your creations with other players. I haven’t finished the free-roaming world, so there is still some fun to be had with this game for me.

Something that annoyed me was that when you were building blueprints, you had to start with open space and use only the blocks that the blueprint has. So, if you use wood instead of dirt for the wall, the quest won’t register as finished. Yet, nothing stops you from changing the blocks after you have finished the quest.

Another irritation with this game is that very occasionally, I was unable to have my room recognize as a room. Especially when I dug into the walls to try and escape enemies and use the sleeping mechanic to fully heal. Yet, waiting out the night to heal wasn’t too bad when this happened. Besides, the times that this happened I can count on one hand. So, it’s not that big of an issue.

Something that I sometimes wished is that I was able to farm certain blocks. Especially flowers or ivy. And the only reason for that is that I was too lazy to explore the world if check if I have forgotten to pick it up.

The only thing that I really disliked, and didn’t have a positive thing to balance it, was that some resources are extremely limited or hard to get. But then again, I only had an issue with this in the last world just before the final battle. So, yeah.

This game really hooked me. The sequel to this game looks extremely promising. There are a lot of features added that would be amazing in the original. So, I’m quite excited about that.

The only big negative I can about this game is that it isn’t released on PC or other platforms. I think that this game can get some popular when it’s released on PC and other platforms. Then again, I’m glad that this game got ported to the Switch, since trying to find a PS Vita nowadays isn’t the easiest of tasks.

Phew, that was a lot. Truth to be told, I haven’t talked about everything but I wanted to leave some things as a surprise for you guys. But I think it’s time for a conclusion in this article.

Conclusion

Negatives:

-The camera can be pretty annoying sometimes.

-The combat can be quite bland.

Positives:

+ Great writing and story.

+ Amazing controls.

+ Great visuals.

+ Exploring various vast worlds.

+ ….

Final thoughts:

I’m so glad that I played this game. If you have a Nintendo Switch or PS Vita, you owe it yourself to pick up this game and play it. Even if you aren’t a fan of Dragon Quest/RPG’s or Minecraft, this game is a lot of fun. If you truly dislike both, then I would recommend you to skip this game.

I had high expectations and hopes when I started to play this game and this game didn’t disappoint at all. There were some things that I didn’t like, but it rarely hindered the enjoyment I had with this game.

Each time I got defeated by some monsters or a boss, I got another attempt in trying to defeat them. Not only that, I felt I was drawn into the world and enjoyed the game from the start to the end.

After finishing this game, I really want to play the sequel. Until then, I think I’ll keep playing this game since every time I boot it up, I find something new to do or to improve in one of my 5 towns. Including my free-roaming one.

I can’t recommend this game enough. I’m currently trying to finish all the side quests I haven’t done yet and experimenting with Free Roaming. I just hope I won’t run into trouble with that when the Switch Online service launches in a month.

I’m curious to hear your stories about this game in the comment section down below. And if you pick up this game, feel free to tweet me a picture of your cities or your adventures to my Twitter: @NekoJonez.

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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Score: 100/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: General tips to start collecting

20170228201533-nintendohero.jpegAh, game collecting. It’s one of my biggest hobbies and I love doing it. Thanks to my video game collection, I’m able to talk about so many games on my blog and have so many different experiences. While I’m not the most hardcore of collectors, I do want to share some stories and advice if you want to start collecting retro and modern games. If you have any questions or you have advice yourself, feel free to leave a comment down below, I’ll do my best to help and love to hear the advice of other collectors as well. Also, know that this is some general advice. If you want to start to get really into collecting, then this article can serve as a nice base but videos like this one from MetalRockJesus are a great help as well

You will need space!

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Do realize that you will need some shelving space when you want to start collecting. Personally, I wish I had more room in my room to build more cabinets and shelves to store my collection.

There are various interesting cabinets that game collectors use. If you look at various pictures of people showing off their collection, you get a great general idea of what sort of space you can use for your cabinets.

Something I personally do is, storing my cartridges in plastic containers. This is to avoid dust and other damage to them. I also sort my games per system. So, I have a PSP shelf, a GBA/GBC shelf, Wii (U) shelf… This makes it easier to find a game when I’m looking for them.

I can speak out of the experience of collecting games all my life, you will need a lot of storage space. Better workout a good storage system before you start collecting. Otherwise, you will regret it extremely fast.

My budget & thrifting.

If you are worried about the cost of collecting, well, know that thrift stores and garage sales exist.

Here are some tips at garage sales. I personally trained myself in the ability to spot games by just scanning the stalls. It can really help if you are able to recognize the shape and color of the system you are collecting for. For example, I know that most PS2 boxes have are blue and/or have the name “Playstation 2” on top.

Another helpful thing to know is that resellers are a plague at garage sales. Here in Belgium, they arrive at the crack of dawn to buy every game they can get their hands on, while meanwhile, another person is setting up their stall.

The best way to do deals is to buy from people who sell from their garage or don’t have a lot of gaming items. Those people really want to get rid of the games and will let them go for a really cheap price. I have bought a ton of games for a really cheap price. For example, I was able to buy GTA 1 (PS1) for 1€ or Outlaws (PC) for 2€.

While you can haggle, don’t overdo it. For example, if they sell PSP games for 3€ a piece, I usually say, what if I buy 5 of them and pay you 12€. Try to check if they are willing to go below their asking price before you continue to haggle.

I ran the risk of looking around for a cheaper version of various times at garage sales. Sometimes I get lucky, other times, I got unlucky and saw some nice games get sold before my eyes.

Since I personally collect Gameboy games, I always have a Gameboy Advance in my pocket with me. Do test your games, if possible, before you buy them. To avoid regretting buying a game.

If you are buying PC games and such, check if all discs are there and if they don’t have a lot of scratches. I always check the games for any damage or missing parts before I buy them. I haven’t done this in the past and had missing discs and discs that weren’t able to be read.

Also, keep an eye out on people trying to sell their physical copies of Steam games. Or any other online distribution platform for that matter. Since you need that key to be able to activate the game, but if you buy it in a thrift store or in a garage sale; you have high risks that the game is already activated and the disc will be worthless. Unless you bought it digitally and you want a physical copy to add to your collection.

What do I do when I go thrifting and/or to a garage sale? Well, I take a bag or two with my handhelds (charged of course) to be able to test the games, I bottle of water, my wallet with the budget I want to spend, something to eat and my smartphone. I also try to not wear many game-related items on me. To avoid giving away that I know what I’m buying. I have seen too many items that people raise their prices because a gamer needs to pay a more fair price for their games…

I like to leave in the morning to do one round and I do another round around midday or in the afternoon. Why in the morning? The earlier you leave, the more chance you have to be before the resellers. Also, you will have the biggest selection of them all. Yet, you do miss a big advantage of something you have in the afternoon.

In the afternoon, some people are getting tired and sick of standing with their stall at the garage sale and start lowering their prices. Most of them are happy if they are able to leave the garage sale with less stuff then they started. So, take that into consideration.

Index your collection & how to collect?

While I have quite a good memory in which games I have in my collection already, it’s always a great idea to have an index. This way you can easily look up if you already have the game or not.

Do put this index file in an easily editable file somewhere in online storage. Personally, I have the games I really want to find in a text document stored in my Dropbox. This way I can easily check while I’m walking at the garage sale which games I’m looking for.

Something I still have to do is make a huge list of all the games that are in my collection. Since I actually want to know how many games I own and how many games I own for each platform. It’s something that is on my bucket list for 2018. This will take quite a lot of time since I have big plans in mind.

Besides physical games, I do collect the merchandise. mostly figurines, clothing and various other pieces of merch. I have one big glass cabinet for all my figurines. I actually enjoy from time to time figuring out how to display them.

So, how can you start collecting? Besides going to garage sales and thrift stores, you can look at 2nd hand websites for people selling their games. Sometimes I buy “a lot”. This means that I buy a bundle of games that somebody doesn’t need anymore. In various cases, I buy games that I already own but I use these games to sell again or to trade.

Trading can be a great way to get rid of your duplicates and get new games into your collection. This is why networking is so important to collectors. I’m in a group of retro game collectors on Facebook and I follow various retro game reviewers on Twitter and YouTube. This way I learn from their experience and stories.

Do network! For real, almost all my coworkers know that I collect games and I have gotten so many games from coworkers who cleaned up their attic or their kids didn’t want their games anymore. One time, I actually was called up by a store that somebody brought in a lot of big boxed PC games and this way I was able to buy a game I always wanted to have.

Anyways, that’s all the general advice I want to give for now. I hope that you learned something about the art of collecting games. While I can tell and teach you a lot more, I’m going to close off the article right here. Maybe I write a follow-up article to this one with more advice and some stories of garage sales.

In any case, thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed it 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!

First Impression: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) ~ I’m An Angel!

dq_ix_esrb_dsLink to Wikipedia entry

Lately, I’m playing a lot on my old Nintendo DS. The game that I’m playing is Dragon Quest IX. I have played this game right when it came out, but then I stopped because other games got my interest. I played this game right around when I started playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. In any case, this article will contain mostly my current opinion of the game. I’m currently 10 hours into the game. But, enough stalling. It’s time to talk about this game. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article.

Slow start

Dragon Quest IX 2In this game, you play as a character you design and make yourself. Your character is a guardian angel of Angel Falls. At the start of the game, you get a small combat tutorial and introduction to the world.

Everything was peaceful until suddenly disaster strikes. Something happens in the sky palace and you fall down to the world and lose your halo and wings. You fall in the town of, you guessed it, Angel Falls.

After those events, a lot happens. The plot only thickens and gets quite interesting. Yet, the only negative is that the start is quite slow. I was 2-3 hours in before the main quest started.

The writing is very well done. The characters are memorable. While I noticed some minor spelling mistakes here and there, I didn’t mind them too much.

The story feels episodic. When you finish one quest, another path opens and you go to another village to go on a new quest. This works very well in this game. This game is pretty long. If you want to beat the main story, you will have to put in around 50 hours. So, I’m looking forward to the stories I still have to play.

In any case, enough talking about the story. The difficulty of this game is almost a negative in my opinion. If you have read my blog before, you might know that I don’t like grinding for levels that much. It gives the impression that the game is longer then it actually is. This game contains some grinding, but it isn’t too bad. But, the grinding gets old real fast for me.

Buy and wear this shield

dragonquest9_218826In this game, there is something that really every RPG should do. When you buy new equipment, you see your character visually change. Not only in battle, but also in the overworld. This is a great touch, since it gives you the feeling of progression and growth of your characters. I can understand that this could be annoying to some people, since they prefer everything to look a certain way. But I honestly like it.

Visually, the characters and enemies look very well designed. Sadly enough, this RPG suffers from what I call the “multiple paint bucket syndrome”. There are various recoloring of enemies to make new enemies.

While I can understand that it’s hard to always make new enemies for each new area, I believe there are other methods. If you give the recolored version some minor visual changes like make them longer, shorter, wider, bulkier… That would go a long way.

Or you use the same enemy, but you buff them up. Wait, scrap that. Game design wise, this wouldn’t be the best solution. Since that could confuse a lot of players.

So, we were talking about the visuals of this game. The world design is something that is deserves praise. Every area has charm and feels alive. The animation is stellar. In short, I really love the presentation of this game.

One thing to note is that in some battles, I experienced some frame drops. This happened mostly when there were a lot of graphic heavy attacks in a row. Outside of battles, I rarely got slowdowns or frame drops.

You have two options in the control department. You can either use the touch screen for everything or you can use the buttons. Both control schemes work every well. The only feature you miss in the touch screen controls is the ability to swing around the camera a little bit in the overworld. But I rarely use it, so I don’t mind it that much.

This game is a full blood RPG and it has a big world for you to explore and adventure in. A big plus in this game is that you can see the monsters running around on the overworld. This makes it a lot easier when you need a certain item drop or when you need to defeat a certain enemy to complete your monster index.

You can design your own party in this game. You can tweak your party to your heart’s and playstyle’s content. Take your perfect party in to battle!

I can only say one negative thing about the battles. If they would added a health bar for the enemies, that would be amazing. I found it very frustrating that I had to hope that a boss died when I was at low health. It would be very handy to change your tactics.

There is just too much

dragonquestIXIn this game, there are also side quests. I haven’t done many side quests, so I won’t go in-depth. But you can get a quest from a character when a blue speech bubble appears above their head. Most quests I encountered are fetch quests.

But that is just one thing of many things that can entertain you in this game. You can also do alchemy, complete your monster guide or collect party tricks. There is a lot to do in this game. According to some websites, to 100% complete this game, you would have to devote months to this game. According to various sources, you would have to spend over 770 hours. That’s overkill in my opinion. There is just too much to do in this game. But the positive about is that there is always something to do in this game. You shouldn’t get bored with this game if you love playing RPG’s.

The music and sound design in this game is good. It could have been better if there were two or three more tracks in-battle. Since always hearing the same battle music gets a bit old. It’s still a great track, but I wished I heard some other battle music in normal battles from time to time.

In this game, you can only save in churches. You can quick save, but the quick save gets deleted as soon as you restart the game. I don’t know what happens if you quick save and then don’t save. Honestly, I don’t feel like finding that out. One thing, there is only one save slot.

This game offers multiplayer. But, I’m not going to talk about that since I haven’t played this game in multiplayer. And without experience, it would be hardly fair to talk about it.

In any case, I think I said everything I wanted to say about this game. Besides, if I forgot certain things, I will talk about those if I ever review this game. So, it’s time to wrap up this article.

This game is a very fun game. It’s one of the best RPG’s out there on the Nintendo DS. It does some things that every RPG should do but it also does some things that shouldn’t be in every RPG.

I highly recommend this game if you are looking for a challenge, a big adventure and/or an interesting story. But be prepared to put a lot of hours into this game.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. I hope I can welcome you in another article on my blog. But until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Review: Kirby – Return To Dreamland (Wii)

Kirbys_return_to_dreamland_boxart.jpgWikipedia entry

It has been quite some time since I looked at a console game. Well, honestly, I do play console games here and there… But mostly, I play games on my handhelds and my PC. In any case, a few days ago, I have finally beaten a Kirby game I have been playing on and off for the past few years. It’s called Kirby’s Return To Dream Land on the Nintendo Wii. Before I begin the review, I first want to address something about the name of this game. In Europe, this game has a different name. It’s called Kirby’s Adventure Wii. This is really annoying to me since the first Kirby game on the Gameboy is called Kirby’s Adventure. Why didn’t we Europeans got the same name as the Americans? Such a shame. In any case, enough stalling. Time to get into the review. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below. Thanks in advance for that. 

The story of Kirby

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In this game, Kirby’s adventure has two big parts. In the first part of the game, Kirby helps a stranded alien to repair his ship. In the second act, Kirby helps to defeat the evil overlord in on the alien’s home planet.

That’s all I’m explain about the story. You rarely find deep story lines in a Kirby game. From all the Kirby games I played, the story is just there. Yet, the twist at the end is nice. While I honestly saw it coming, I didn’t mind. The story is fun enough to play through. In my opinion, the story isn’t that memorable. It doesn’t bother me since the game has a lot more to offer than just the story. I found that the journey was more fun than the actual story.

The writing of the story was great. I’m so glad that they used text boxes in this game since I feel that’s how Kirby stories shine the most.

4 players

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A moment of honesty here, I haven’t played this game with 4 players at once. But I have played this game with two players at once.

Together with my cousin, we have played this game a lot. This game is what I call a “sibling game.” The difficulty of this game is just right. It’s challenging for the younger players but it’s not too hard. Yet; it can be challenging to the older sibling if (s)he let’s his or her guard down.

Speaking about the difficulty, the last boss battle is rather brutal in my opinion. Since it’s mostly in a totally different gameplay style which I’m not an expert in. Then this game can become rather difficult.

In any case, the gameplay of this entry in the Kirby series is what you can expect from any other Kirby game. It’s a fun platformer where you can copy (some of) your enemies powers. The powers in this game are fun to use and every single one of them are useful. Apart from one, the sleeping one. Still as unuseful as ever.

In certain points of the game, you can receive a special powerup. This one transforms Kirby into a powerhouse. The way this powerup is used makes for some fun(ny) situations. But, that’s something I’m going to leave up to you guys and girls to discover.

Also, in each level, you can find some wheels. With those wheels, you can unlock power-up rooms. In these rooms, you can easily get any copy ability you want. On the top of those rooms, you have a doll where you can practice them.

With those wheels, you can also unlock challenges. In these challenges, you have to complete a course using one copy ability in a certain time.  These are fun to play since I love that kind of challenges.

Actually collecting the wheels can be rather challenging since some of them are very well hidden. Also, in some levels, you have a sort of bonus stage where you fight a boss at the end to receive two or more wheels. Those are really difficult and some of them, I wasn’t able to beat in few tries.

Since this is a Kirby game, I have to mention the mini-games. And man, they are a real blast to play. I have lost hours playing those with my niece. Mostly the ninja star throwing one is a real blast to play in my opinion. I had a lot of fun with it.

In any case, I think I prove my point that there is a lot of fun gameplay in this game. But I still have to talk about different aspects of this game so let’s do just that.

Kirby and more Kirby

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So, first of all, the length of this game is perfect. This game has 7,5 worlds. Each world contains around 5 levels, with the final level being a boss.

The 8th world is actually a long level with the final boss of the game. It doesn’t have multiple levels. That’s why I count it as a half world.

In Kirby tradition, each world gets a funny name. And yes, most of them have to do with food.

The presentation of this game is one of the strong points of this game. I really love the art style in this game. It’s very bright and colorful, yet sometimes the game uses a way darker pallet to suit the story.

The animation is really top notch. I have no complaint about them. The world design and the animations are really well crafted. Combined with some amazing level design, this game is almost perfect.

The music in this game is really catchy. I wish I was able to buy the soundtrack somewhere since it’s that good in my opinion. But hey, I didn’t expect anything less from Hall Laboratory.

The controls are very responsive and I have nothing to complain about there. If you doubt about the controls, you can see them in the pause menu.

Up until now, it seems that I haven’t anything bad to say about this game. Well, there is one nitpick. That’s that the first player always leads. When the first player dies, the second player dies as well. That’s the only negative I have with this game.

It’s time to wrap this review up. Here comes the conclusion!

Conclusion

The bad:

-The first player dies -> Everybody dies.

The good:

+ Amazing presentation. (Visuals & animation)

+ Very nice controls.

+ You can play with up to 4 players.

+ While this game can be rather easy, some challenges can be challenging to veteran players.

+ Great level design. And it’s fun to play more than once through some levels.

+ …

Final thoughts:

If you are looking for an amazing Kirby game, look no further. This Kirby game is one of the best in the series. The gameplay returns to its roots (like in the first Kirby games) and it’s a blast to play.

I had so much fun playing this game with my family and friends that I would love to recommend it to every Nintendo fan.

When you like what you saw on the screenshots, give this game a shot! I also heard that this game came out on Wii U Virtual Console, so there is no excuse to not pick up this gem of a game. It’s released in the summer of 2015. So, go ahead and pick up this game. It’s totally worth it.

Score: 100/100

Gaming History #1: Did Nintendo made the only handheld?

Smartphones-tablets-handheld-gaming-consoles-and-hybrids-400x318Alright, this article is a part of the GB(C) month. In this very first article of “Gaming History”, I’ll take a look at the history of a game, company, console or a series. I can also take a look at certain events or beta’s. Anyways, for the theme of this month, I thought it would be interesting to look at the competition of the Gameboy and Gameboy Color and why Nintendo ultimately won the battle for handhelds. I tried have the most correct information as I could, but if I do made a mistake, feel free to tell me in the comments. Anyways, let’s dive right into the competition of the gameboy and gameboy color. I’m quite excited to talk about this myself. 

 2nd generation

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Let’s be clear for a moment. When I talk about handhelds in this article, most of the time I mean gaming handhelds. PDA’s and such, I take out of the picture for this article. Anyways, the first handhelds we see in the second generation. While some sources told me that the Game & Watch was first, I didn’t believe it.

I looked further until I found the first handheld ever made. Mattel was a few years before Nintendo. The Game & Watch was released in 1980, while Mattel released their handhelds in 1976. The first handheld I found was Mattel Auto Race.

But why did the Game & Watch win over Mattel? The Game & Watch had something that I don’t see at the early Mattel handhelds. All the graphics of the G&W are pre-printed on the screen. This makes the device, according to me, last longer. Not only that, it was cheaper to produce, so it was a cheaper product… I think you can easily fill in the rest.

Atari Lynx

Atari-Lynx-I-Handheld

While it’s quite possible to talk hours upon hours about the history of handhelds, for sake of having a bite-sized article, let’s talk about a competitor that were also on the market when the Gameboy or Gameboy Color was.

this handheld was released in the same year that the gameboy was released. The year was 1989. Now, why did this handheld failed against the Gameboy? According to me, it’s the design. Just look at the device. It doesn’t look like it would be great to play on. The placement of the speaker is the issue.

According to some research, the gameboy won from the Lynx because of the price and battery life. Who knew that a green-ish and black display would do wonders like that?

Tetris?

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When Tetris was developed, Russia was still known as Soviet Russia. So, the original creator of the puzzle game needed to give the intellectual rights to Mother Russia. A few companies fought over the rights. Nintendo was one. Temco as well. Both released a version on the NES. Because Temco couldn’t release it officially, they released it on a black reproduction cartridge.

How does that relate to history of the gameboy? Believe it or not, this game outsold Pokémon. It’s the most sold game on the system. It sold around 40 million units. It was even a launch title.

The documentaries I watched about the gameboy actually told a lot about this. If you want to know more about the history of Tetris, I highly recommend reading up on it.

The wrap-up

I know that this article is extremely short. But since this is an experiment I want to know if you guys like these sort of articles. If that’s the case, I might write more articles like this.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about the history of the gameboy. I enjoyed writing it for you guys. Take care, have a nice holiday period and until the next article!

First Impression: Broken Sword 5 – The Serpents Curse (PC – Steam) ~ Fan Funded!

gaming_brokensword5

Official website

Gorge and Nico are back baby! In the full 2(.5)D glory. When I saw this game being created by a kickstarter I was hyped. And the big surprise is that the studio’s budget was as big as the money donated by the fans. Sadly, I wasn’t in time to donate. But I think some promotion like this will pay my debt back. If you wonder what I’m talking about, let me explain you. I’m a big fan of this series. It’s the best point and click adventure game build in Europe. This game actually made me enjoy this genre of gaming and it stuck with me ever since. For my Christmas present I actually asked to get the collectors edition of this series. And recently, this game popped up on Steam. I’m personally fond of Steam versions instead of GOG.com games. No offence GOG, but I prefer Steam just a bit more. Also, this game is only 20 bucks! And in addition to that, the big finale, which is going to be released at the start of next year, is going to be free if you bought the first episode. Anyways, enough introduction! Let me know in the comments what you think of this game and / or my article. 

Story, not perfect.

Broken-Sword-5-22In terms of story, this game is neat. A story in this series starts with a big problem and then through-out your adventure you start to learn what has been going on. And some conspiracy is always the outcome.

The writing is again brilliant, yet it’s a bit weaker this time around. Don’t get me wrong, I think some moments are extremely funny and some thrilling. Yet, it doesn’t have the right power to be as good as the previous stories. Lots of critics complain about it. But it’s something different that destroys the story for me.

It’s the presentation of the story that’s flawed. I’ll talk about the graphics later. Just to be clear, I’m talking how the story is being told to us. One thing that bothers me is that the dialogue isn’t fluid. The next line waits until the animation is done. This makes for sometimes short and awkward pauses in a conversation and that breaks the immersion a bit.

Talking about the animation, it’s pretty well. They are pretty realistic and well made. Each character has it’s own set of animation like his or her own personality. With the brilliant voice acting, the animation is top notch. If you ignore one thing though. The lips. I don’t know how, yet sometimes when a character speaks their lips don’t seem to move. As if they were thinking. And that’s the second issue with the story for me. I start to notice that and the charm of the story goes lost.

New and better!

366993Apart from the issues with the story’s presentation I have one other complaint with this game. And that’s the movement. For one, there isn’t a run button. And secondly, you can’t really walk freely around without having to click on things. That’s what I dislike the most about this game.

Yet, the game is more newcomer friendly. With a great tutorial, that’s optional (take notes devs!), you get introduced to the game’s mechanics really easily.

Also, the fact that hints now unlock way easier is a big plus! Also the presentation of the hints is just amazing. It’s the question people ask when they are stuck. Like “I can’t get the door to open. What should I do?” And while I love to find out everything by myself, I sometimes can’t resist clicking the hint button to enjoy the writing.

Now about the graphics. They are mind blowing. If you look at screenshots and such, the characters might not really fit in. I give you that. But keep in mind that apart from that, everything is hand drawn. And I get a realistic feel. Like real characters sat in front of a green screen. And I do think that this style fits the series extremely well.

The puzzles itself are again amazing.  Some make you truly think and I honestly missed that. Also, the style of achievements like in Alan Wake to take your progress is just a neat idea. That way you have a nice list how far you are in the game. Yet, I do find it extremely silly that every achievement displays “100%”. Almost like they are somewhere visible. Yet, I do think, while it’s neat and all that, this makes for spoilers. As the achievements give some spoilers if you would display them on the steam page.

Just exploring.

Broken Sword 5 (5) (1)

The music of Broken Sword was never really my favorite to listen to. And please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t turn it of or anything, it builds the atmosphere really well. Yet, I enjoy more melodic pieces of music instead of the music of Broken Sword. So, what I am say is that this game has as a critic’s standpoint, great music. Yet, it’s out of my interest zone.

What could have used some polishing work is the sounds. I feel like the music is there to “cover up” the lack of sound effects. There were many moments where my mind added sound effects. Like in dialogue or walking sounds. That would have been amazing.

The story has been cut into two. I’m really curious to the rest of the story. Since this time it’s more then just a murder. It’s also a theft. And you are a prime suspect. Also, you can see that the characters moved with time. Some characters return and they are as great as ever.

I have only finished 19% according the achievement list, so I have a whole lot left to play. And in my full review when I full beat this game, I’ll also talk about the options and more in depth of every aspect of this game. So, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. And now I’m going to enjoy myself a bit of Broken Sword 5! I have been waiting on it.

NekoJonez: Review #016: Alan Wake (PC) ~ Departure

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Official website

You would have thought that I would write my 15th game review on my blog. Yet, I decided to write it here on ButtonSmashers. Why? Well, to thank the guys for the great times they gave me and because Q gives me sometimes some free games and I think that means I need to pay him back somehow. So, I write an article on one of the best horror/adventure PC games ever made, well in the recent years. Besides, for me it’s all about reaching the milestone instead of the location. Another reason why I write it on my friends blog here is that I actually got this game for free from somebody of Arpegi. And my first impression is already on my blog. So yeah. If you want to read my first impression of this game, you can do that here. Anyways, unlike Alan here, I’m not in the dark. My dark, well black, cat is sleeping in my arms, making the time I spent on this review a lot longer then I originally planned. Oh well, the two additional collector edition episodes will have to wait. I have a game to review. In my introduction I always make it clear how I got to this game. Well, I got this game as a present. I was allowed to choose between three titles for buying someone a game. I knew the title Alan Wake from seeing it on a YouTube channel called Lazy Game Reviews. I wanted to link his video but the highly trained monkey’s of Google failed to work. (Yeah, YouTube has been bugging out for me. So, after some 500 error’s I gave up.) Anyways, enough stalling of this! Let’s get on with the review. Nothing special for the 15th, just a plain old review. And my plain old invite for you to write a comment what you think about this game and/or review. 

Manuscript pages

Wake_Barry.jpgThis game blew me out of the water. One of it’s many stronger points is the writing. It’s just an amazing story. Don’t go spoiling yourself because the ending is somewhat open ended and ready for a sequel. Yet, I haven’t finished the additional DLC’s yet. So, maybe I get my answers there.

I actually bought myself the novel version of this game. And I’m pumped to read it. I can feel Wake’s pain. He’s a writer who lost inspiration. Sometimes I have that myself. But apart from a story with deep and rich characters, it’s extremely memorable. It makes a lot of twists and turns. Even Alan starts to doubt himself from time to time. It feels more human.

The presentation of the story is what made this game for me. What’s going to happen in the (near) future of a chapter is written out on manuscript pages, some are extremely well hidden. Some provide backstory to the characters. While the pages play a very important role in the game, it’s implementation is just brilliant and how it should be.

I’m so sad that I finished this awesome story and this is one that I wished I could play over and over again without knowing the story. Where is that reset button in your brain when you need it?

Well, let’s talk about this game’s gameplay. And is it something where many game developers can learn from. You play the role of Alan Wake, like I told earlier, a writer who is in trouble. This game is a mostly linear adventure game, at some moments there are two or more paths, and it’s a shooter as well. But with a big twist. Before you can hurt your enemies, you must shine your flashlight on them. I only wish that not all enemies where male. But this is such an extremely big nitpick.

Ammo?!

cabinIn the game you use several weapons. A pistol, shotgun and a flare gun. You sometimes have flares and flash bangs at your disposal. And when you explore you can have more ammo as your reward. The additional batteries I found for my flashlight came in extremely helpful.

Yet with this comes on of my few complaints with the game. The weapon selection is not that great. When you play it, you will understand me better. But it’s as simple as putting everything under the scroll wheel. So when you wish to switch your flash bangs to flares without switching your weapon, well though luck.

And your objective is nearly always the same. Go from point A to B. Yet, the journey is always extremely different. From fighting through ambushes to driving a car to an other location, the game never feels really repetitive. This game also haves some major horror mixed in. From being in the woods with a lot of bear traps and the Taken following you to being in a hospital that is consumed by darkness.

I also love how the creators of this game hid several QR codes to scan in the game. I uncovered some GIFs with it. I’m so curious with I’ll find on my second playthrough. Yes, you read it correctly, I’ll probably play through this game more then once. Not only since the highest difficulty provides all pages to find but also because of several paths I didn’t explore and I wish I did.

One other complaint I have is that the driving is a bit broken. It’s too loose. You sometimes feel like you’re riding on ice. And with sudden tight corners in the road, this game makes the driving not so easy. Plus, your car can break down. Excellent, yet a damage meter is nowhere to be seen.

While the ammo for your weapons is extremely scare, you’ll never be without bullets. If you don’t waste them that is. With a human jump and a limited sprint, this gameplay can’t be any more talked about I guess. On to the next segment! Like in the game. It’s also in parts. And when you reach the next part, a quick recap plays. This makes being up to speed with the story such an easy task.

Well lit room

poltergeistLet’s first talk about this game’s soundtrack. I like almost every track. Some songs at the end aren’t really my style but I won’t talk bad on the game because of this. The set the mood like it should. The music gets tense when it needs to. And the music gets lighthearted when there is drama.

And the sound design is how I think it should be in all games of this genre. All weapons are such a blast to use because of this. Except, I miss a bit of a ticking sound for the flash bang. But that’s the only change I would do in the sound department.

And does this game gets tense. A full 100% yes please! The further you go, the more I got on the edge of my seat. This game provides a lot of challenge. One or two parts where a bit unfair but hey, that I can let slip.

The level design is excellent. I never really felt stuck and it was always clear in which direction I should head. Thanks to the ability to press “F” to focus on the part Alan was talking about makes that you have more control in your hands and that’s something I can only applaud. The only thin I should have dropped was the clicking to start an engine for light. One time it got a bit too difficult to remain fun.

Oh, now I suddenly remember that I should have mentioned in the gameplay section that there are various additional collectibles to find. Well, now that I mention it here, I can say that this games it’s length is great. I have beaten it on normal difficulty in 18 hours. Yet, I know that I skipped some parts and I haven’t finished the DLC. And I truly look forward to beat this game again with the developer commentary playing in my headset. Yeah, I advice you that you play this game with a headset, it makes the experience a lot better.

There are also parts in the game that you play with a side kick. And it’s AI is great. I had moments where I really was saved by the AI. And there where moments where the enemies really took me off guard. And I like how the animation helps you see enemies swarm you from different directions. This makes the possibility of cheap deaths go down so much. But before we talk about that, I want to say that I had to try some parts several times. Not because of cheap things but because I was truly taken off guard or I took the situation on with a wrong weapon. The bosses really require that you use the tactics of the weapons and ammo that you have.

So to finish this review, I’ll talk about the visuals and animation. And wow, the visuals are just mind blowing. The excellent voice work really shines through here. With nice and extremely well done locations, it’s a joy to walk around in this game’s setting. Nothing feels out of place and the developer really made it in such a way that this game might be real as well. The character’s detail is also well done.

I also like how you get a nice death animation when you kill the last enemy of the attacking group or when you die. The animation might have a hiccup here and there, it’s not really noticeable when you don’t pay attention to it or when you don’t look at it with a reviewer’s eye.

So, let’s wrap up this special longer review here and let’s get right to my conclusion, shall we?

Conclusion

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great setting.

+ Nice gameplay.

+ Decent length.

+ Pretty epic soundtrack.

+ And much more.

The bad:

– The driving is a tad bit broken. A damage indicator and improved driving would be welcome.

– The switching of weapons isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Conclusion:

When even MiseryLC talks about this game, you may be sure it’s quality content. He didn’t play this game, he only saw a let’s play of the sequel. And I agree with my statement there. This game is a mindblowing experience. One that every one should play that likes adventure and horror games.

The presentation is unique. In terms of visuals and the story. It’s different yet familiar. It’s really worth to check this game out on Steam and play it right now.

I truly had trouble looking for negative parts of this game. This is one gem that should be high on everybody’s list. And it’s even a port from a XBOX360 game. Take that, a well made port.

Play this game, you won’t regret it.

Score: 95 / 100

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.

Herman2

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.