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The Real Neat Blog Award – 5 YEARS of NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog Special

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Well, it hasn’t taken long. Since the Sunshine Award from a few weeks back, I got another community award. Thanks to my buddy from IPlayedTheGame, I got the “The Real Neat Blog Award”. I’m so thankful for all the praise my blog is receiving lately. Also, this is a special article for my 5th year I’m writing this blog. Yes, today marks the day that I’m writing this blog for 5 years now. Anyways, let’s get to answering the questions. 

Question 1 – What is your earliest gaming memory?

The earliest games I’m able to remember are Pac-Man on the Gameboy, Freddi Fish, Tetris, Lego Island… But the biggest memory for me is Pokémon Blue of course. I still have my childhood cartridge to this day.

I remember individual moments like where I was standing or who I was visiting when playing certain games but they are too short to actually write a small story about. For example, I remember beating the first level of Pac-Man on the Gameboy while standing in the doorway at my grandparent’s house.

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I remember playing a lot of casual games on my early computers as well. Rollercoaster Tycoon, Age of Empires, Midtown Madness 2, Puzzle & Magical Inlay, Feeding Frenzy, Iggle Pop… to name a few.

I played a lot on the computer with my sister. We had limited time on the computer and when one’s time was up, we switched and watched the other play. Ah, great times. I still remember when we got our hands on Rollercoaster Tycoon. In our copy, the game has a glitch on Windows XP where you were unable to load saved games. So, that’s why we always left the computer on in the hopes that nothing drastic happened while we were out. So, we could win the scenario.

Question 2 – When did you start blogging and why?

I talked about this question before. Actually, this question I have answered in a recent interview. Click here to read more about it.

Question 3 – What feature do you wish any of your consoles had that they currently don’t?

NekoJonez's SwitchWell, I have two things. At first, since I recently bought a Nintendo Switch, I’m loving the easy screenshot and share feature. This is going to help me a lot when I’m going to talk about Nintendo Switch games. Now, I wish all my retro game consoles had that. Now, I need to either use an emulator to create them or use press pictures.

Another feature is something a lot of collectors would love. A backup feature, as in, you are able to back-up your games onto a hard drive of the console. With some restrictions, like you are only able to back it up to one console.

This would be so extremely handy for me since I’m always afraid that some old game discs might get too scratched and become worthless. In addition to that, it would be so handy to not have to switch cartridges around without having to resort to illegal flashcards.

Question 4 – Name a movie that you wish had a video game made after it and what developer would you want to make it and why?

Now, I’m not that big of a movie guy myself. I don’t watch a lot of movies since I’m mostly watching YouTube or anime series. On the odd occasion, I watch an anime movie or a movie related to a game.

One of the last movies I saw in the theater was the Tomb Raider movie. While the reviews are mixed, I have to say that it’s a good enjoyable action movie. But it helps if you are a fan of the series and/or have played the reboot games.

Now, I’m going to cheat a little bit and turn the question on its head. A game I wish they created a movie from. I could cheap out and say “Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine“, but I’m already waiting for the 5th Indiana Jones movie in 2020.

I think my friends from LaterLevels will agree with me on this one, but I would love an animated movie of the Monkey Island series. I wouldn’t be able to name THE game they should make a movie out off since I have only played three titles in the series.

On the other hand, a movie about the Broken Sword games would be mindblowing as well. Or a Bioshock movie. Well, truth to be told, I have quite a long list of games I want to see turned into movies. As long as LucasArts does the movie side of things. I wish they were still around since I really loved their movies and style of production. Yes, they are still around but only to make Star Wars movies it seems.

Question 5 – Do you have a Games Room or Corner? If so let us see it and show your favorite thing in there?

These pictures are from February 2018. My collection has expanded a bit since then, but the way I store them doesn’t look a lot different. My bedroom has been transformed into my gaming room. I also use my bedroom to write, study, practice my lines for the plays I’m in… and yes, to sleep too.

My project for this summer is fixing the cables of my consoles. It’s too big of a mess right now. I want to label them and hide them a bit from sight.

This answer is going to be a bit cheap, but my favorite thing in my game room/office is my collection. When I have time off work or some free time I love picking up a game I haven’t played in a while or want to try out. Most of those games turn into an article anyways.

These pictures aren’t everything in my gaming collection. I haven’t included my figurine cabinet, console games cabinet, better pictures of my handheld cabinet… One day I will organize them all a bit more and create an index for you people to take a look at.

Question 6 – Do you have a Child or a Pet? Which character do you name it after?

SpartaSleeping

I’m currently 25 years old and I think that’s a bit too soon to have children. One day, I wish to have children of my own. In a certain way, you could say that I’m already a proud “father” actually.
A proud father of Sparta.

My pet cat is one of the nicest and most laid-back cats I have ever met. I have loads of personal pictures of her sleeping on family members with her belly exposed. For people who don’t know a lot about cats, if a cat exposes his/her belly, it’s out of trust. Since that’s the most unprotected part of their bodies. She means a lot to me.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will see the odd picture of her. To answer the question for where she has her name, well… Thanks for this song. The Mean Kitty Song by SMP Films. It’s about a cat who is playfully aggressive. And when I first met Sparta, she was playfully aggressive. She wanted to play but after a while, she feels asleep on my lap.
There are a lot of stories I can tell about Sparta, but to avoid that this article becomes too long, I’ll keep those for another article.

Question 7 – What keeps you going when Gaming?

Besides the snack and soda’s, the thing that keeps me going is either the entertainment value of the game or the thought of: “this will make for an interesting article.”I’m always extremely busy with my work, personal life, theater group or my blog. So, having something where I can be in another world is an amazing feeling to me.

In addition to that, the nostalgia rush I get sometimes. In addition to that, games lately are able to hit a personal level. I love it when that happens when a certain message of a game pulls my emotional strings. A Hat In Time, Super Mario Odyssey, Ace Attorney Dual Destinies,  The Legend of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series are just a few games that were able to bring me to pull those emotional strings.

Besides that, the people I meet because of gaming. I love to adore this community, with flaws included. I have met a lot of people and learned a lot. We gamers are able to play games with complete strangers and trust them completely to work together towards one goal. Which is having fun. Of course, there are those rotten apples giving us a bad reputation.
What also keeps me going is the interesting and new approaches games take at entertaining us. When I think I’m able to say, this game is like this game… I find a load of games doing something completely new and unique. And when everything comes together in one game paying homage to previous titles, I get overly nostalgic again.

And that was all my answers. So, it’s my time to nominate five blogs I really like, huh? Well:

LaterLevels

OverthinkerY

Hundstrasse

Sheikah Plate

AmbiGamingCorner

Feel free to answer the same questions or talk about something blog/game related. I’m really curious about what you guys and girls are going to say about this.

In any case, let me finish this article by saying a few words of gratitude. In the 5 years, I have been writing for this blog, I have reviewed over 200 games. I have gotten over 55k visitors, over 400 followers on Twitter and 180 other bloggers following me.

Besides that, I have been called a great gaming blog by two external sources. Both FeedSpot and MarketInspector placed me on great lists with the best of the best. Besides that, I got various community awards and on other blogs, I get praised. I even got quoted on Steam Store pages! 

Thank you so much for everything. Everybody who visits my blog and leaves a comment, you put a smile on my face. Thanks to you, I’m proud of what I’m able to achieve here. At the start of this journey, I had no idea that I would be able to meet so many people and have so much fun with my favorite hobby of them all, writing.

I also got a lot of opportunities from various developers to review their games and I learned a lot about game design and how the gaming industry works. Besides that, I got a lot of games for my collection as well, which I don’t mind since I love expanding that.

So, thank you, dear readers, for making for giving me this experience. I can’t wait to provide you with more articles about the games I have been playing or the random thoughts I have about the gaming industry. I hope you enjoyed the ride so far since I’m going to keep going.

This year, I got the greatest form of flattery. Imitation. Well, to be more exact, the copying of my articles on other blogs and websites. Thankfully, those 5 (yes, there are 5 now) sites are down and hopefully, I don’t have to spend a lot more time with that. But, to finish this article; I want to leave you with a quote that the giver of this award said to me on Twitter when all of this copying went down:

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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.

Review: Tomb Raider Legend (PC) ~ The Sword of King Arthur

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Wikipedia entry

I remember picking up this game quite well. I was hyped for this game. Not too long before the release of this game, I got a new computer that was able to run to this game quite well. It even ran with the next-gen graphics. Back then, I finished this game and I remember that I had a lot of fun. Eleven years later, I decided that I want to write a review of this game. So, I took my copy from the shelves and booted up my Windows XP retro game pc and restarted playing this game. So, does this game still hold up or is this game just good in my nostalgic filled mind? Let’s dive into the Legend of the Tomb Raider. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article in the comment section below. 

Thrill ride

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The story of this game starts off with a young Lara on a plane. She is flying with her mother through a thunderstorm when suddenly, the plane crashes.

Lara finds an ancient sword and touches it. Her mother pulls Lara away and then pulls out the sword and disappears.  We fast forward a few years when Lara starts the journey to try and find out what happened to her mother.

In my opinion, the story is pretty good. Not great, since some parts of the story a bit too predictable. I was able to guess what was going to happen in the last parts of the game. I really liked the twist at the end, setting up the next game Underworld perfectly.

I know that Anniversary released before Underworld, but it has really nothing to do with the story of this game and Underworld.

In any case, the voice acting in this game is pretty good. I loved it when I played the game for the first time when I was a child and I still love it now. My favorite voice actress in the game is Keeley Hawes. She voices Lara Croft in this game and she does a pretty great job, just how I imagine Lara Croft sounding like.

Most of this game story is told in cutscenes. But, if you already finished the game, you can skip the cutscene by tapping the pause button and choose for “Skip Cinematic”.

I have played this game on two different systems for this review. One that can handle the next generation content and one that can’t handle that. The next generation content is nothing really special in my opinion. It just adds some additional visual fluff to the game.

Something I did notice, is that when I played it on my more than capable retro gaming PC, one that his the recommend specs perfectly, there is a lot of flickering in some stages and textures not fully loading in. I mostly had this problem when I did the motorcycle bit in the snowy area.

There is a lot of variaty in this game. You have driving sections, QTE, platforming and shooting sections. Wait, Quick Time Events? I know that some people really hate this, but I personally don’t mind them too much. They aren’t too frequent and they are over quickly. To be honest, I enjoy most of them.

Exploring Lara’s house

Tomb Raider Legend

It’s a shame that the game has some graphical problems here and there. Maybe it has to do with the fact that old PC has an ATI device in it, and the other PC has a NVidea card. It does display at the start.

But, the overall presentation is good. The environments and tombs you explore in this game are pretty well designed. The animation is great too. Some death animations really send a shiver down my spine. They felt a bit too real, but some became funny when Lara keeps sliding more than you expect and falls off a cliff.

You can also explore the Croft Manor in this game. In this game, the Croft Manor isn’t the tutorial like we have seen in all previous Tomb Raider games. Now, you can unlock certain training areas to explore when you finish a certain level in the game. I personally recommend that you play through the Croft Manor when you either want a relaxing level or a post-game thing to play.

There are also secrets to find in the Croft Manor. These extras range from character profiles to object models. There is also a special surprise if you collect them all. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to replay a level to try and find secrets you missed.

One thing that really annoyed me was the saving mechanic. It works fine and the autosave points are placed perfectly, but the loading of save games is just a bit broken. Tomb Raider is known for difficult jumps sometimes or multiple jumps you have to do in a row. I like to save after I did a few of them so I can load the game when I did something wrong. In all the previous titles, that I played, when you load; you start right back at the position you saved. Not in this game, you start at the beginning of the jump bit or sometimes even earlier.

The soundtrack of this game is great. I really enjoy listing to it and it added a great atmosphere while you are exploring the tombs. The orchestral soundtrack of this game really impressed me as a kid and it still does as an adult. The sound design for this game is good as well.

Put that gun away, Lara!

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If there is one thing that could use some improvement in this game is the controls.

Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t terrible in any meaning of the word.

There were just a few times that I pressed the grab button, but Lara didn’t grab a ledge. Yet, it isn’t the wrong thing about the controls. There isn’t a “put your gun away” button. And if there is, I wasn’t able to find it. This was really annoying when you were done fighting some enemies and you wanted to start a jump puzzle and Lara doesn’t grab the ledge because she is still holding a gun.

Also, the default layout for the controls is just bad for some functions. For example, to switch your weapon, it’s “End”. To switch your light on or off, it’s “Del”. Medkit is “Home” and your binoculars is “Page Down”. So, I highly recommend you rebinding those controls when you want to play this game.

I don’t know what was causing this problem, but sometimes, the camera moved without me moving my mouse at all. This happened multiple times when I was swinging on a rope.

That’s enough complaining about the controls. Let’s talk about the rest of the game. There is a sort of help system in the game. The PDA. It’s helpful, but I rarely used it. The only time I used it was when I returned to the game after a long while to check what I needed to do.

But, the binoculars can help there as well. With them, you can see what you can use and plan out your route. Yet, the level design is so clear, you barely have to use it when you pay attention to what’s around you.

The difficulty in this game is spot on. No complaints there. The UI of this game is pretty well crafted too. Again, no issues there.

The combat in this game is really enjoyable. My favorite moments are when you enter a sort of bullet time mode and you jump on enemies shield to launch you into the air and shoot the defenseless enemy.

Before we go to the conclusion, I want to touch on one final thing. This game’s length is spot on. It isn’t too long but it isn’t too short either. If you decide to complete this game that is. Since, if you rush through this game, you might be able to beat it in a day. Since it’s 8 hours long. If you want to complete this game, you double your play time.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, while predictable sometimes

+ Great voice acting.

+ Good level design.

+ A lot of variety in gameplay styles.

+ ….

The bad:

-Some visual issues on some computers.

-The controls, while good, could use some polishing up. The default layout is just bad.

-The game is too short if you rush through it.

Final thoughts:

This game didn’t age too well. As a kid, I thought this game was one of the best games I have ever played. But, looking at it now as an adult, I see the flaws of this game. It’s by no means a bad game. The story, voice acting, level design… they are all good.

The big issue is that they aren’t great. The sequel games, like Anniversary and Underworld, are so much better in my opinion.

In general, this game has its problems. Some are noticeable, others aren’t. I do remember having adrenaline rushes when I played this game for the first time. When I played it for this review, I had them too but way less.

In conclusion, I think that this game is worth it. I would recommend it to any fan of Tomb Raider and adventure games. If you have a decent enough computer that can run it and doesn’t get affected by the same graphical issues I was. Since I can tell you for a fact, I didn’t have them on my old childhood computer. This game is good, but not great. It could have been better if there was a bit more polish.

Thank you for reading this review 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: 70/100